Friday, April 30, 2010

The Teenager Goes to Senior Prom

My kid is the one with the mohawk (ye gads!)

They grow up too fast.

On Puerto Rico Statehood

Go now and read Bride of Rove's post on Puerto Rico.  Mind blowing. 

And maybe you'd be interested in this from the WSJ:  the FDIC closed three banks in Puerto Rico today:

Three Puerto Rican banks were closed by regulators Friday, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took receivership in one of the biggest single cleanups of failing banks in the current financial crisis.
The FDIC estimated the failures would cost its insurance fund $5.28 billion.

Here's what Heritage had to say.

But go read Bride first.  She rocks.

Puerto Rico Statehood Discussion at Potluck!  Updated!!
Should Puerto Rico Be Our 51st State?  Updated!
Thoughts on Statehood for Puerto Rico

Hey Bossier! Vote Yes!

A reminder to all Bossier City residents for tomorrow:  Vote Yes!

Via My Bossier who reminds you that:

This is a renewal of a tax that was put into place 20 years ago, it is not a new tax. The City Council had rolled the 6 mill tax back to 4.86 mills, but rather than proposing a new tax, they just voted to renew the tax that is in place.

I fully understand anyone who wants to demand accountability from elected officials. The problem with voting this tax renewal down is that the people you will be punishing will the citizens of Bossier City and some very fine individuals who have sworn to serve.

Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

I second what Jim said, above, one hundred percent.  If this vote goes down as a "no," the results will be devastating and ripple throughout the city.  

Thursday, April 29, 2010

University Students Stage Protests Against Arizona Bill

Arizona's controversial immigration bill continues to reverberate throughout the country.  At this time, at least ten other states have similar bills, or plans for one, in the works.  Protests are spread across the nation with huge demonstrations expected on Saturday, May Day, with rallies expected in more than 70 cities.  (Wonder if those protesters will be as vilified as the Tea Party crowd has been...).

Protests are cropping up on American campuses as well.  Students at Yale University protested the bill last week.  Blogger Nathan Rothstein's sister was part of the protest and he writes about the mock raid and protest hereThe Yale Daily News also wrote about it, saying:

Yesterday, members of MEChA, Jews for Justice and Fierce Advocates, along with other concerned Yale students, staged a mock raid in the Commons dining hall during peak traffic to raise awareness of the urgent seriousness of the issue. At 12:30, we released our “ICE agents,” who hounded unsuspecting students and demanded to see proof of residency. When students failed to procure the proper documents, we handed them an informative citation that explained that, if this were Arizona, they could have been detained.

At 12:45, our leading Sheriff stood on top of a chair and shouted into a megaphone, “This is a raid!” Immediately, our agents rushed to the “undocumented students” we had planted throughout the dining hall, handcuffed them, and pushed them to their knees in the center of the dining hall. One by one, we stood and explained our demonstration through a megaphone held up to our lips. We informed the community of the passage of S.B. 1070 and the subsequent multi-agency raid on our communities in Arizona. Finished, we walked handcuffed and surrounded by ICE agents down Commons’ main aisle to disappear through Morse’s closing walls.

 At another Ivy League university, Cornell, students are staging their protests in crowded lecture halls.  The Cornell Daily Sun reports:

Donning signs reading “Mexican-lookng,” “Sub-human” and “Alien,” members of El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano  de Aztlán protested Arizona’s recently-passed immigration reform bill in an ILROB 1220: Introduction to Organizational Behavior class this Wednesday.

The class witnessed an example of what could occur in Arizona any day due to Senate Bill 1070, according to Natalie Ramirez ’11, co-chair of El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán. 

The demonstration included faux immigration and customs enforcement agents coming through the lecture hall demanding papers of students who didn't "look American." 

The “officers” picked out the demonstrators wearing the cardboard signs and forced them to kneel on the ground in front of the rest of the class before leading them out of the lecture hall. 
Ramirez said the demonstration in Introduction to Organizational Behavior followed another in a quantum physics lecture on Wednesday. 

Protesters are planning on staging more demonstrations and concentrating on crowded lecture halls for maximum exposure.

This afternoon two lawsuits were filed against the bill:

Two lawsuits were filed Thursday attacking the measure. The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders filed suit in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, alleging the measure is illegal because it usurps federal immigration enforcement authority and because of concerns that the law contributes to racial profiling.  The group said on its website that it represents 20,000 churches in 34 states.
An attorney representing a Tucson police officer filed suit in U.S. District Court in Tucson to block the law.

In a Gallup poll, Americans favor the Arizona law 51% to 39% while Obama calls attempts by other states to copy the Arizona law "misguided efforts."  Because, you know, nobody can do it as well as he can.  

I suppose we can expect the fallout to continue but the fact remains that Arizona is doing what the federal government failed to do and if their efforts are misguided it's nobody's fault but the Feds.  

Students at Cornell and Yale might get the chance to put their money where their mouth is now that Mayor Bloomberg has invited Arizona illegals to New York; maybe some will filter over to their campuses.  He said, "if Arizona happens to be the only state to adopt the policy, the bill could actually be good for New York 'because people will come here. We make sure that we protect everybody.'"   

And the cycle continues.

Rep. Barbara Norton Wants to Send Bus Kids Home at Noon on Hot Days

You've got to love Louisiana Representative Barbara Norton.  You might remember her - she's the one who had her godson, rapper Hurricane Chris, perform on the floor of the Louisiana Legislature. 

Norton represents the 3rd district and is a Democrat.  

In her latest attempt to impersonate a State Representative, Mrs. Norton introduced HB 1437 which "requires school boards to provide for the noon dismissal of students transported by school bus on days when the expected high temperature is 100 degrees or higher."  Norton has never worked for one day in education, as far as I can find.  She is retired from AT&T.  It's another example of someone with no education background telling educators how to do their job.

Stop for a moment and consider the logistics of this, if you will.  Louisiana law requires that there be 360 instructional minutes per day for a minimum of 177 school days.

School cafeterias are planning lunch for an expected number of students each day.

Teachers plan lessons and exams for their daily classes.

So what if between August 10 (when school begins) and, oh say...September 30, the period of time when we're likely to have 100 degree days around here, Little Johnny and 250 or more of his friends are dismissed at noon but the rest of the kids who walk, drive, or are driven to school, stay in class?  Do they have to make up that instructional time that they missed?  When?  At the end of the year (when temps are warming up again...)? 

Think of the logistics for teachers - getting work and tests made up, lessons re-taught, library time rescheduled, computer lab time rescheduled (but only for those students!). 

Isn't this discriminatory against non-bus riding students?  Or against the bus riders?  I mean, you're singling out a single group...

What about those poor cafeteria workers and all those abandoned lunches?

It boggles the mind.

Barbara Norton boggles the mind.

Her bill came up today in the Legislature.  It was "Involuntarily Deferred" in committee, which means in essence that it is dead.

Rest in peace.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Puerto Rico Statehood Discussion at Potluck UPDATED!!

I posted over the weekend on H.R. 2499 which addresses the Puerto Rico statehood question.  I also cross-posted at Potluck.  If this is something you're following or interested in, the Potluck post has quite the discussion going with some very worthy comments.  Hit the link to check it out and feel free to keep the discussion going.

Update:  In addition, please note that Shreveporter Naomi Lopez Bauman made NRO's The Corner yesterday!  Go Naomi!  A snippet:

Alex Castellanos’ post discussing the Puerto Rico Democracy Act (HR 2499) correctly points out that “the principles of democracy, inclusiveness, and self-determination belong to all U.S. citizens.” What he misses, however, is the Puerto Rican government’s plan to rig their election by eliminating the commonwealth option in their next series of self-determination elections.

Puerto Ricans have rejected statehood in the last three self-determination elections, and independence is extremely unpopular. The strategy to virtually eliminate as an option for voters Puerto Rico’s current status as a commonwealth, leaving only independence and statehood as options, will all but guarantee a statehood landslide. The plan is spelled out in their legislation (pp. 7-8) and can be found here. The New Progressive Party (PNP), which is pro-statehood, controls all branches of government. There is little doubt that this bill would become law soon after the U.S. Congress passes the Puerto Rico Democracy Act.

Hot Air is also on the bandwagon following a discussion by Glenn Beck on his show:

The vote isn’t on whether to make Puerto Rico a state, it’s whether to “authorize” the Puerto Rican government to hold a popular referendum on whether it should become a state. From what I understand, though, Puerto Ricans don’t need any authorization from Congress to hold a plebiscite; they can do it any time they want. The fact that the House is nudging them — and the way that they’re nudging them — is what’s got people’s antennae up. With good reason, says the Heritage Foundation.
Congress is scheduled to take up this piece of legislation today. 

I'm not seeing as much buzz about this issue as I expected.  Naomi tipped me to it last week prompting my Saturday post.  Since then I've seen a few pieces on it but not what I expected.  As of now there's no Memeorandum thread up, but maybe later.

"Less discretion for doctors would improve patient safety" Says Obama's Pick for CMS

I posted earlier in the week on Robert Goldberg's American Spectator piece about Dr. Donald Berwick.  Since then I've been doing some research on Berwick, which is to say that I've been reading articles he has written.  It's quite an eye opener, as Goldberg suggested in his piece.

Berwick was recently appointed by Obama to be administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, formerly known as Health Care Financing Institution.  The CMS is, of course, a federal agency and comes under the Department of Health and Human Services.  The agency also oversees HIPAA and quality standards in nursing homes.

According to Wikipedia (a source I'm always dubious of but is sometimes reliable), CMS employs around 4,100 with most of those at its headquarters in Maryland.  As Goldberg explained, it's a huge job with much power.

So, what does Berwick actually stand for, or believe?

Goldberg's focus was primarily on Berwick's admiration for and obsession with Britain's National Health Service.  We've all read the horror stories over Britain's health care system, as well as the abbreviated life expectancies for patients with serious illness such as cancer.

 Berwick has made other observations and suggestions about revolutionizing the American health care system which we should make note of.

By all accounts Berwick is a personable man and delivers a powerful speech.  As Alex Gibney wrote in The Atlantic, "He is not an ideologue. He is a pragmatist, armed with data, real-life experiences and a determination to make things better. Even more important for this job, he is a great communicator who does not harangue; he persuades."

He apparently has a "folksy" good humor and  can spin a good yarn.  He hails from Connecticut and is a Harvard grad.  He practiced pediatrics and later founded the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

What is troublesome is his affinity for the British NHS and its methods.

In 2004, in an article for Quality and Safety in Health Care, Berwick compared the British health care system to its American counterpart.  He explained that "Equity and excessive cost are far more urgent problems in the U.S., which timeliness ranks at the top of the NHS improvement agenda."

Timeliness indeed.  The stories of inferior care, refusal to fund certain drugs and long waits for care or appointments are rampant.  Yet our new CMS administrator is enamored with this system.

In the QSHC article, Berwick also said that one advantage of the UK system is that "the UK has people in charge of its health care -- people with the clear duty and much of the authority to take on the challenge of changing the system as a whole.  The US does not.  When it comes to health care as a nation, the US is leaderless."  He went on to say that the most important resource for the UK system "has been the consistent focus of government, emanating from the Prime Minister personally on raising the bar for NHS performance."

This is what we now have in America with Obamacare.  The government in charge of health care decisions. 

Not one to shy away from dissing those in the medical profession, Berwick explained that one problem in our current health care system is the inadequate training of our health care professionals.  These people are emerging from school

"...ill prepared to help.  The education of health professionals generally lacks focus on the skills in systems thinking, statistical thinking, measurement, cooperation, group process,teamwork, and pragmatic ‘‘real time science,’’ to name but a few disciplines that provide the foundation for effective citizenship in improvement."

Honestly, I'd rather have my doctor trained and experienced in say biology, cardiac care, internal medicine, pulmonary care, orthopedics, or whatever the case may be, rather than "systems thinking" or "group process teamwork."   Maybe that's just me.

In an article at The Boston Globe, Berwick is quoted as saying,

"The more I have studied it, the more I believe that less discretion for doctors would improve patient safety." He then looks down. "Doctors will hate me for saying that."

Less discretion for doctors?  And more for government, I presume?  Scientific protocols?  Death panels,anyone?

Another aspect of American health care that Berwick criticizes is what he calls "quantity over quality."  This basically seems to mean that doctors perform lots of unnecessary tests because they get paid for them.  Didn't I hear this before?  Hmmmm.  Anyway,  listen to Berwick explain this:

Don Berwick #1: "Is American Healthcare the Best in the World?" from Century Foundation on Vimeo.

 I've not yet found anything where Berwick addresses tort reform or frivolous lawsuits which might bring down the need for some of those unnecessary tests.

Berwick will undergo a confirmation hearing, but Maggie Mahar at Health Beat isn't worried.  "kcan handle himself," she said.  That may be so, but it may also be time for the rest of us to take a look at what he really stands for and how drastically he wants to revolutionize American health care.

Wednesday Linkage and Loose Thoughts

We've started reading Julius Caesar this week in school which means I've been busy this week.  Blogging has been light as I've been working on that and trying to get caught up with some of the things (the yard) that I couldn't do during my crazy illness (that lasted ONE SOLID MONTH).  I'm still not 100% but I'm back up and kicking.  Won't be long.

Here's a link to my favorite anecdote from teaching Caesar which I posted last year.  Never a dull moment.

Be sure to check out Andy's Place, my featured blog this week; he covers mostly local stuff but he's made me laugh this week and has a nice blog.  He's even doing some Rule 5 blogging, for those of you into that kind of thing.

Also, be sure to check out Peter Ferrara's The President's Permanent TARP Bailout Socialism Bill in The American Spectator.  That'll get your blood going this morning.

Doesn't it seem we use the adjective "naive" with growing frequency when describing Obama?   Scary.  Just sayin'. 

Maybe I'm the one being naive here, but I've got no problem with Arizona's tough immigration stance.  If the feds had done what needed to be done already, Arizona wouldn't have to take such drastic measures to secure their borders.  But face it, it's a national security issue.  Marco Rubio released a statement on the issue yesterday that got some buzz, but it seemed pretty benign to me.  Rubio's position on immigration has been clear all along; his concern seems to be for law enforcement who might be in a difficult position.  But overall, I've got no problem with this law.  I have to show ID every time I write a check or do any number of things.  If someone wants me to prove my citizenship, I've got no problem with it.  I know, the concern is the dreaded "profiling."  Again, if the feds had handled this already...

Finally, I wish I could make rhyme or reason out of the battles Eric Holder chooses to fight.  He'll take a pass on New Black Panther voter intimidation but Arizona passes a law he doesn't like?  Look out.

So I'm off to work; Caesar awaits.  We have three more weeks of school after this week, and I'm looking forward to summer time!  It's coming!

Monday, April 26, 2010

How Much Do You Know About The Guy Who Is About to Make Your Health Care Choices for You?

Maybe I've been oblivious but it doesn't seem like this story is getting as much play as it should:  check out Robert M. Goldberg's piece at The American Spectator regarding Obama's appointment of Donald Berwick as administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  Goldberg writes:

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the CMS administrator does more than make sure Medicare and Medicaid pay claims in a more or less accurately and timely fashion. The office defines the quality of health care for every insurance plan, sets reimbursement rates for physicians in Medicare and Medicaid, and decides what treatments are more "valuable" than others.

Yikes!  That's a lot of power!   Sort of makes one want to know more about Mr. Berwick, doesn't it?  Goldberg has it:

Berwick not only has a role model picked out for a role that sounds a lot like what he would be doing at CMS, he has a soulmate: For the past 15 years he has consulted for -- or, in his words, been "starry-eyed" over -- Britain's National Health Service. In 2008, at a 60th anniversary celebration of the creation NHS, he told a UK crowd, "I am romantic about the NHS; I love it. All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country. "
Berwick complained the American health system runs in the "darkness of private enterprise," unlike Britain's "politically accountable system. " The NHS is "universal, accessible, excellent, and free at the point of care -- a health system that is, at its core, like the world we wish we had: generous, hopeful, confident, joyous, and just"; America's health system is "toxic," "fragmented," because of its dependence on consumer choice. He told his UK audience: "I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do."


Read the whole thing

Frozen Wasteland

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What's In Your Refrigerator?

Okay, I'll play.  Ann Althouse posted a picture of her refrigerator today and Glenn Reynolds linked it.

Let's see if this works...

This is my refrigerator.

Update:  Wyblog plays along!

Update 2:  Yay!  Bride of Rove is playing!

Update 3:  Hooray!  Pecan Corner is playing!  Dang!  That's a LOT of Brie!

From Where I Sit...

What I'm Doing Today

Light blogging today as I'll be sunning myself in the front yard, staring at the sky waiting to see something like the picture (left).  The Air Show continues today and I plan to sit outside and watch.  We never go on base for the Air Show, as I said yesterday, because we can see what we want to see from the comfort of the front yard and it makes it easy to get home afterwards.  Heh!

You can read about the Air Show here, if you're so inclined.   The Times has a photo gallery here and here.  There is also a gallery of Drew Brees and The Thunderbirds; Brees got to fly with them Friday afternoon.  The Air Show is expected to draw 300,000 visitors over the two day weekend; you can see why I'd rather watch from home, perhaps.

Perfect weather today - no clouds and a breezy 70 degrees.  Now, where's my Sam Adams and my lawn chair?

Update on Mississippi Tornado

The Jackson Clarion Ledger has extensive tornado coverage today of the killer tornado that struck Mississippi Saturday and nearly obliterated Yazoo county. 

The death toll stands at ten.  Three of those are children.  Some thirty people have been hospitalized or treated for injuries.  Homes and businesses are wiped out.  Meteorologist Daniel Lamb estimates that the winds were over 100 mph.

What always inspires me about these things is the bonding of a community when something like this happens and the "we will start over" attitude that so many have.  The Clarion Ledger is filled with these stories this morning.

One of those stories is of Jean Oswalt, mother of Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt, who sought safety in a closet with her small dog and a pillow.  When they came out, her house was destroyed.  The first thing she saw was her husband's Bible.  She has not, however, been able to find her engagement ring.

There are volunteer numbers set up if you live in the area and can help.  Go here for options to volunteer or help.  Or go here to give to the Red Cross.

Previous Post:  Tornado in Yazoo County, Mississippi

Recycling Gone Amuck

In late 2008 Shreveport joined many other communities in a recycling program.  It couldn't be easier.  We have a blue bin.  We dump paper, magazines, catalogs, plastic, aluminum, and glass in there.  All in the same bin.  A big truck comes by on Monday, dumps the bin, and drives away.  No sorting, no fooling with different bins and boxes and tubs, nothing.  Simple.

Not so in parts of the UK.  In Newcastle, this is what they have to deal with:

The containers include a silver slopbucket for food waste, which is then tipped in to a larger, green outdoor food bin, a pink bag for plastic bottles, a green bag for cardboard, and a white bag for clothing and textiles.

Paper and magazines go in blue bags, garden waste in a wheelie bin with a brown lid, while glass, foil, tins and empty aerosols should go in a blue box, with a grey wheelie bin for non-recyclable waste.

I hope they provide a chart so you can remember not to put your plastic bottles in your blue bag instead of the pink one.

Not only that, but then one must worry about the Bin Police who can fine you for overfilled bins, bins incorrectly filled, or bins put out at the wrong time.  There are also instructions on how to fold a cardboard box so that it fits into the green bag, and on how to insert a plastic liner in your silver slop bucket.

I wonder if they see the irony in this.  All these bins and bags can't be good for the environment, not to mention the extra trucks and crews (and fuel) to pick them all up, and now it seems people are burning their trash in order to avoid recycling which is releasing toxins into the environment.

Isn't there a point where we micro-manage people's lives so much in the name of doing good that we do more harm?  All these global warming and green people seem to be exacerbating the problem by trying to tell everyone how to fix it.  It's like those horrendous curly light bulbs that don't work as well as incandescent bulbs, and don't light a room as well.  They contain mercury and should not just be chunked into your garbage can or it could release mercury into your landfill.  Crikey!

Tomorrow when I pull my one blue bin to the street, I'm going to thank Mayor Cedric Glover for adopting a simple system.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tornado in Yazoo County, Mississippi

Our weather guys were predicting possible tornadoes for us here in Shreveport early this morning but they misjudged the storms.  The bad storms went just east of us and wiped out most of Yazoo County, Mississippi.

Governor Haley Barbour held a press conference a couple of hours ago and said the damage reminds him of Hurricane Katrina.  The Clarion Ledger has a photo gallery here and their complete coverage is here.  Yazoo City is Barbour's home town.

So far ten people are reported dead and at least 21 injured have been transferred to Jackson hospitals.  Barbour says they know of people still trapped in cars and houses that they just haven't been able to get to yet and parts of Yazoo City and the county are still inaccessible.

Video is here.

Reportedly, the tornado was nearly a mile wide.

Prayers go out to the people of Mississippi.  If you'd like to donate to the Red Cross you can go here.

Hubble is Twenty

This is the twentieth anniversary of the Hubble launch.  Go here to view some totally awesome photos from Hubble!

(Credit: Erich Karkoschka (University of Arizona), and NASA)

Should Puerto Rico Be Our 51st State? UPDATED

Scroll for updates

One piece of legislation that is garnering interest  is H.R. 2499, The Puerto Rico Democracy Act, introduced in May 2009 by Pedro Pierluisi (D.-Puerto Rico) and coming up for a vote before the House of Representatives next week.

The bill basically gives Puerto Ricans the chance to vote between retaining their current status or choosing a new status, to include Statehood.  The text of the bill can be found here.

One of the many controversial issues of this bill is the issue of plebiscite as opposed to a constitutional convention.  Roberto G. DePosada, writing for Roll Call, asks:

Why not have Congress authorize the commonwealth to elect delegates and hold a constitutional convention that would reflect Puerto Rico’s entire political spectrum? Then the convention could debate and reach a consensus for charting the island’s future to submit to Congress.
The problem with the plebiscite is that it limits the options; the ballot is presented with an "either/or" choice.  DePosada has concerns about Puerto Rico's New Progressive Party which he explains is pushing through bills in the Puerto Rican legislature that

...would require Puerto Ricans to vote on statehood again before the end of this year. This time, however, the PNP is leaving nothing to chance. To avoid the possibility that Puerto Ricans might choose to remain a commonwealth again, in Hugo Chavez fashion, they have removed that option from the ballot.

Instead voters will have only two choices: statehood or full independence. Commonwealth is not an option. As further insurance, Puerto Rico’s major opposition party, the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party, is effectively barred from playing any role in the referendum.

Another contentious issue is that H.R 2499 would allow U.S. citizens born in Puerto Rico to participate in this plebiscite.  So some guy living in New Jersey for the past 45 years who hasn't been to Puerto Rico since he was born could vote on this.  Many of these people may or may not have a vested interest in what happens to their mother country.

So basically, what you have here is this.  If Puerto Ricans vote with a simple majority to go for statehood (as many would likely do rather than choose independence), then the United States Congress will plunge headfirst into adding a 51st state.  As stated above, DePosada reports that when the Puerto Ricans get their ballots, their only choices will be statehood or independence.  Commonwealth would not be a choice and polls have shown that commonwealth is the preference of many Puerto Ricans:

Puerto Ricans have voted for "enhanced Commonwealth" - a status significantly different from the status quo - in two local plebiscites. The breakdown in these plebiscites was as follows: in 1967, 60.11% of the electorate voted for "enhanced Commonwealth," 37.78% voted for statehood, and 0.60% voted for independence. In 1993, 48.58% voted for "enhanced Commonwealth," 46.49% voted for statehood, and 2.54% voted for independence. In a third plebiscite, in 1998, the option that prevailed was "none of the above," with 50.3% of the vote. At that time, 46.49% of the voters chose statehood, 2.54% chose independence, 0.29% chose Free Association, and 0.06% chose Commonwealth status, which was defined as "territorial" rather than "enhanced." 

Okay, so what's wrong with adding Puerto Rico as a state, anyway?  Consider just the economics of it.  Unemployment in Puerto Rico is about 16.5% and layoffs in the public sector continue.  Bride of Rove wrote about health care on the island a few weeks ago.  Not good.

One concern of DePosada is the congressional representation that statehood for Puerto Rico would bring.  They would be entitled to two senators and six or seven representatives.  How would they vote?  Some contend that Puerto Rico would be the next red state.  The people are strongly pro-family and have stood against gay marriage.  However, DePosada is not convinced:

In addition to costing U.S. taxpayers more than  $30 billion a year, we will be adopting a state where only 20 percent of its residents speak English, the per capita income is half of Mississippi’s (our poorest state) and the gun control laws are more stringent than any state in the U.S.

At RedState, Doc Hastings writes:

Puerto Rico has a population of four million people – as a state, they would receive two U.S. Senators and 6-7 House seats. But as long as there is 435 seat maximum in the House, if Puerto Rico receives 6 seats then other states expecting to gain a seat after the 2010 census would lose representation. 

Hastings has many questions  he'd like to see answered before this goes much further.

Michael Barone at the Washington Examiner is not convinced that Puerto Rico would go Democratic either:

Obviously House Democrats are motivated at least in part by crass political calculation: they figure that a state of Puerto Rico would elect two Democratic senators and five or six Democratic House members. That may not be quite true: the current Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, is a member of the pro-statehood New Progressive party and identified as a Republican when he served as Resident Commissioner, Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative, in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2005 to 2009.

Barone's problem with the statehood issue is that he's not convinced that a large enough majority wants this.

In February,The Washington Times published an editorial against statehood.

To be sure, if Congress passes this bill and the Puerto Rican (and former Puerto Rican) voters choose the statehood option, Congress still would control the ultimate decision to make the island a state. But the thought is that if Puerto Rico sends a full delegation claiming official status and the (false) legitimacy of a (tainted) popular vote, a Democrat-majority Congress would seat the delegation in an instant.

From the standpoint of the rest of us mainlanders, major problems present themselves. Most important, Puerto Rico does not consider English its sole official language of government, and islanders predominantly speak Spanish. No non-official-English state has ever joined the union, and for good reason. As Canada's experience shows, official bilingualism almost inevitably leads to discord and balkanization. 

So, the pros and cons are stacking up.  That the Democratic congress is so gung-ho for this makes me nervous, but the bill has a great deal of bi-partisan support.

The entire issue merits a good strong look.

Related post at Potluck.

Update:  Professor Jacobson kindly links and posts on a rising conservative star from Puerto Rico.  Check it out.

(H/T:  Naomi)

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around: The Thunderbirds Edition

We're dealing with a little nasty weather around here this morning but it should blow out by afternoon.  Tomorrow should be gorgeous.  And that's a good thing because this is the weekend for the Defenders of Liberty Air Show at Barksdale AFB!  Steve and I always watch the Air Show from the front yard rather than deal with all the traffic on base.  Yeah, you miss some of the low-flying things, you miss the concessions, you miss some demonstrations, but the advantages are the comfort of your own home, your own cold beer, and no bathroom lines.  I can do without some of the side stuff; what I really care about is the headliner - The Thunderbirds!  I absolutely LOVE the sound as those F-16s roar overhead!  Love it! 

Yesterday, we were privileged at my school to have three of The Thunderbirds come speak to us - one of the pilots and two of the crew members.  One of those crew members is a 2001 graduate of our school.  The AFB is one of the feeder districts for our school - we have a LOT of base kids and we have a huge AF-JROTC program.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was in town yesterday to fly with the Thunderbirds.  Apparently he's experienced - he's been up before with The Blue Angels, but never with this group before.  What a thrill that must be!  So, my question of the day - would you fly with The Thunderbirds if you got the chance? 

While you're pondering that, let's get linkin':

As long as we're talking about The Thunderbirds, My Bossier has video of Drew Brees and his trip through the skies.  They pulled 9 G's five times, which as our pilot explained to us yesterday, is quite the feat!

Doug Ross has a brilliant post that you must read.  Sobering, depressing, and real, he tells it like it is.

Reaganite Republican has some thoughts on Blago's plans to subpoena Obama.

Bride of Rove has a Southern themed round-up today!  And a new car.

And on another Southern note, Wyblog tips his hat to the South.

Stacy McCain informs on a 37 year old mother of 15 who is "a victim" because nobody is helping her.  God help us.

My kind of post!  William Teach has the list of fifty beers to try before you die!  Can we start today?  Actually, I'm pretty much a Sam Adams girl these days.  Love the Boston Lager but usually I'm partaking in whatever the current Seasonal Brew is.  Of course, I always stock up on the Octoberfest.  Last year my dining room looked like a beer warehouse.  Of this list, I've had the Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout.  I'm not interested in trying a beer called "Old Engine Oil."  But ohmigoodness they have the Sam Adams Utopias on there, which I'd love to try.  I've had Bud, Tecate and Red Stripe.  So, of that list of fifty, I've had four.  How did the Spaten beers miss the list?

Lots of folks are blogging the Arizona immigration bill and American Power is at the top of the list.  Heh!  And Fishersville Mike makes a most excellent point!  Left Coast Rebel also chimes in.

Pundette smacks down David Brooks.

Professor Jacobson worries about Marc Ambinder's sanity.

Another Black Conservative confirms what we already know about Obamacare.  Gateway Pundit confirms, as does Fausta.  And the liberals still love it.

Bob Belvedere quotes Shakespeare!  *Love!*

Speaking of poetry, Red is quoting poems now.  Heh!  We're in the middle of a Words With Friends game on our iPhones and she's beating the snot out of me.  I have to get a Scrabble dictionary just to look up half the words she plays.  Sad.

Bread Upon the Waters proposes a new law I could learn to love.

Obi's Sister has the sign of the day and a heartening message. 

The Daley Gator, with the headline of the day, notes Dick Cheney's endorsement of Marco Rubio in Florida.

Jules Crittendon has been covering the Michael Yon story.  Yon has, as most know, been embedded with the trips for a very long time and has done some of the most excellent reporting of our generation.  Some issues have come up and his status is changing but I expect we'll continue to hear more excellent coverage from Michael Yon.  Plus, his photographs are just stunning.  Yon's own site is here.

That should hold you for now.  Have a great weekend and if you're in my area, keep an eye on the sky for those fabulous F-16s!  And here is another kind of Thunderbirds:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Senator Mary Landrieu Could Give Obama Lessons in Arrogance

Don't miss The Dead Pelican's exclusive reporting on a Louisiana restaurateur's visit with Mary Landrieu.  The man's name is Greg Hamer and he owns over 50 fast food restaurants.  He and twenty other restaurant owners met with the Louisiana delegation and expressed concerns over layoffs he'll have to make because of Obamacare. 

Senator Landrieu was unmoved and told him, basically, to just deal with it or vote for new representation.  She told him she did not want to discuss nor deal with Obamacare. 

There's much more at the Pelican but I'm sending you there to read it. 

Do Louisiana Schools Issue Discipline Unfairly?

NOLA has a story, which has been at the top of The Dead Pelican for a day or two, about the high suspension and expulsion rate of school kids in Louisiana; reportedly it is about five times the national average for expulsions and twice the national average on suspensions.

Similarly, Louisiana Senator Ann Duplessis has introduced SB 628 which would make it extremely difficult for administrators to suspend students for things like fighting, disrespect of authority, or willful disobedience.  The proposed alternative would be a Positive Behavior Support system in which students are rewarded for good behavior and when they misbehave, counseling and mediation is the preferred course.

I've read the Duplessis bill, which currently is set to be heard by the Education Committee today.  I'm reading the background report now, which is a 48 page PDF file, if you'd like to look at it.  I'm about halfway through the report which so far blames racially biased teachers and administrators for the high suspension rate, as well as an increased police and security presence in schools which makes schools feel like a prison with security cameras and school resource officers randomly wandering through the halls and snatching up kids for arrest.  So far, no mention of parental involvement or support.  I'm sure I'll get to that....right?

You can read SB 628 here.

So what are your thoughts on school discipline?  As parents, how much responsibility falls to you and how much on the child himself (depending on age?) and how much on the school?  What do you think about a positive behavior support system?  How do you feel about security presence in schools?  And do you think kids should be suspended for fighting?  Short of advocating home school, which I know many people do, what about the future of public education?

I'm going to finish reading this report so I can be fair, and do some checking on some of their sources.  But I'd like your thoughts in the mean time!

Hands Off My Beef Jerky!

I guess along with incandescent light bulbs I need to start stocking up on salt. 

Did the Founding Fathers ever anticipate that one day government would be regulating salt in my diet?  This is what nanny state we end up with when we allow a bunch of nimrods to pass some boneheaded health care bill under the misconception that it's also the government's business to see to it that every American is provided with health care.  If the government is going to be sure everyone has health care then by god we've got to cut those costs by forcing them to be healthy.  We've raised taxes on cigarettes...let's go after salt now! 

Next thing you know, you won't even be able to buy a package of Kool-Aid at the grocery store or the sugar to make it with.  Bags of sugar will become rationed, hot black market items!  Snickers bars and marshmallows....gone.  My imagination runs wild.

Imagine a life with little or no salt.  What will bacon taste like?  No more beef jerky?  How are we Southern women supposed to cook vegetables?  What about my salt meat that I throw into almost every pot of peas I cook?  If the government is restricting the amount of salt in processed foods, how long before they come after the salt shaker itself? 

Just ridiculous.  I wish the government would watch the border and not my salt intake.  I wish they'd quit trying to regulate every aspect of my daily life.  Between cap and trade regulating light bulbs, water and energy use, and now dietary restrictions, it's difficult sometimes to remember that this is the land of  the free.

Navy SEAL Cleared

Some good news to start the day:

A U.S. military jury cleared a Navy SEAL Thursday of failing to prevent the beating of an Iraqi prisoner suspected of masterminding a 2004 attack that killed four American security contractors.
Although I AM curious why it took two hours to reach the verdict.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hey, Bossier....

Crist Campaign Cracking Up in Florida

What in the world is going on with Charlie Crist?  I've all but blown him off as irrelevant in the past few weeks as Rubio has surged past him in the polls, but now with Crist's "dithering" and odd behavior regarding his status in the race, one can't help but notice.  Maybe that's his intent.

Larry Thornberry at American Spectator has been keeping an eye on Crist while I've had my head turned and posts a great piece this morning:

Well, there are promises and there are Charlie Crist promises. After two years of most un-Republican-like behavior, Crist appears to be on a path to making the obvious official by leaving the Republican Party. Finding himself behind Rubio by between 11 and 32 points, depending on which recent poll he consulted, for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat Mel Martinez resigned from last summer, Crist is left with the options of admitting defeat and withdrawing from the race or running as an independent. He has until the April 30 filing deadline to decide.

That's the big question right now:  will Crist run as an independent, a Republican, or drop out altogether.  It's interesting that nobody seems to really trust what Crist says.  Even though he has said countless times that he'll run as a Republican, who really believes that?  

The Wall Street Journal reports that Crist is already laying the groundwork for an independent run:

Several advisers to Mr. Crist say the governor believes that an independent candidacy is his only chance to win the Senate seat. He is moving closer to deciding to take that course, they say, but still has qualms about leaving the GOP.

Crist's campaign against Rubio has been primarily one of character assassination because even Crist knows he can't beat Rubio on the issues.  Met with disdain from Republicans, Crist has now pulled his attack ads against Rubio in some Florida markets.

The entire boondoggle gets even more complicated today as we get word that the Feds are now investigating Rubio and two of Crist's advisers regarding the use of party credit cards.  

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air points out that Rubio has the most to lose in this investigation:

Obviously, Rubio has the most to lose. Not only is he the front runner in this race, but he’s the one candidate whose name has been attached to the scandal. Running on a Tea Party platform of government reform and accountability, Rubio also has the most to lose in terms of public perception.
I would contend that is stating the obvious.  Rubio has already addressed this issue publicly and paid back the funds in question.

And, really, what does Crist have to lose at this point?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Proposed Gautreaux Legislation to Phase Out DROP

There are several pieces of legislation in the Louisiana legislature this session that are causing some discussion throughout the state.  One is La. Senate bill No. 628 by Senator Ann Duplessis regarding amendments to regulations for student discipline;  I'm going to get back to that one in some detail but for now I want to look at Senate bill No. 602 by Senator Butch Gautreaux.

Senator Gautreaux's proposed legislation begins the phasing out of the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, commonly referred to as the DROP.  This legislation would affect members of the Louisiana State Employee's Retirement System, Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana, and Louisiana School Employees' Retirement system.  The proposed legislation amends previous legislation to state that one may participate in the DROP "except that no member who has less than ten years of creditable service in the system on July 1, 2010, shall be permitted to participate in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan."

So the guy with 9.5 years of service on July 1, 2010 will not have the DROP as an option for him later.

SB602 was passed by the Senate Retirement Committee on April 12 and was passed by the La. Senate with a 30-4 vote on April 20.  It is currently awaiting introduction to the House.

I know many teachers who take advantage of the DROP.  The system is a retirement option that allows you to freeze your retirement benefit and continue working for three more years during which time the money you would normally contribute into the retirement system is placed in a trust fund.  While you continue working for those three years you will continue to draw a salary.  Of course, any raises that come your way during those years will not affect your retirement.  Originally this was conceived as a way to keep experienced, qualified teachers in the classroom, especially important in those areas with critical teacher shortages like Math and Science.

The problem for some seems to lie in the fact that all employees of the school district pay into the same retirement system.  For example the secretary or bookkeeper at Central Office is a member of the same retirement system as a teacher at the high school and is therefore also eligible to participate in DROP once they meet the age and service requirements.  To some, this is an abuse of the system and one of the reasons there has been a call for reform.

Gautreaux has several other bills in the hopper dealing with reform and adjustments to the retirement system and most, from what I can tell, are not particularly objectionable. SB 13, for example, "allows garnishment of Louisiana public retirement or pension system, plan, or fund benefits of an elected official to pay fines or restitution imposed for a felony associated with his office."  Hard to find fault with that one, isn't it?

Here is a list of proposed legislation that affects the Louisiana Teacher's Retirement System.

The current text of SB 602 is here.

There has been a lot of discussion and confusion over these proposed bills and hopefully we can clear some of the muck from the windshield and see where the Louisiana legislature is taking us.   Another area under reform consideration with regard to retirement is the retire-rehire program which is a "whole 'nother can of worms" as my mom would say.  There's more on that here.  Louisiana Representative Rickey Hardy offers HB 226 which would allow only teachers (and not classified personnel) to take part in that program; he also has HB 392 which affects all of Louisiana's retirement systems (including law enforcement) and would prohibit anyone who retires on or after July 1 "and is subsequently rehired from accruing additional benefits."

Both HB 226 and HB 392 have been referred to the Retirement Committee.

While not of great concern outside of Louisiana, probably, many believe that the current trend in Louisiana toward education reform  is reflective of Governor Bobby Jindal's anti-public education views. As a potential player on the national stage, Jindal's views are relevant.   Jindal is a heavy supporter of charter schools and teacher merit pay as well as encouraging ways around tenure rules...pretty much everything the unions hate.

The next legislation I'll be looking at is SB 628 by Senator Ann Duplessis which virtually makes it impossible to suspend a student from school.

Are Tea Party Protesters Given Leniancy at Rallies?

This is an interesting thought:  are Tea Party protesters given more latitude and preferential treatment than anti-war protesters?  The CSMonitor wants to know:

Tea party" activists successfully lobbied security officials in Raleigh, N.C., last Thursday to reverse a ban on carrying full-sized flagpoles and signs at a tax day rally. Antiwar protesters, however, argue that they're often not afforded such luxuries.Do tea party activists get preferential treatment from law enforcement officials? They have been able to carry guns to anti-Obama rallies, critics note, suggesting that there is a double standard.
What do you think? 

I suppose it depends on where the protest is.  I am reminded of this Acorn protest in Baton Rouge, however, where protesters were not even allowed to speak to each other.

The video of the protest in New Orleans that led to the attack on Allee Bautsch and Joe Brown was frightening.  I'd have been terrified.  These people look much scarier to me than any Tea Party protesters and look to be interfering with the business of a private establishment.

Do the people in the picture above look scary to you?  Do they look like they've been given special treatment?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Laura Bush: Spoken From the Heart

Just ordered Laura Bush's new book!  Can't wait!

I checked her schedule of book signings and the closest she'll get to me is Dallas.  Rats.

Oh well.  Laura Bush is one classy lady and I can't wait to read her story!

Random Thoughts for Monday

Random thoughts for Monday:

I know you don't click over to this blog for a daily heath report but for those that have been keeping up with my ailment over the past month (this began March 22), let me just say that I'm calling another doctor today for a second opinion.  (Bride would be proud).  There's no reason that I can see at this late date in this deal that I should continue to spend sleepless nights because of chest pain.  I know - it's pleurisy and it hurts and it takes a while to go away.  But shouldn't it be abating by now?  And in this day and age of miracle drugs isn't there something somebody can give me or do that will make this better?  I'm not usually a complainer, or a hypochondriac, really.  I know that's hard to believe at this point.

Speaking of complaining, if I had the energy and the ability to focus on anything beside myself, I'd tackle the Bill Clinton Op Ed in the NYT comparing the Oklahoma City attacks to potential attacks of violence by Tea Party partipants.  Clinton and Rush have been exchanging words about this over the past few days and Glenn Reynold links to Byron York who weighs in on how Clinton and Dick Morris exploited the Oklahoma City bombing for Clinton's own political gain.  Not wanting to be left out, E.J.Dionne offers his two cent on the Tea Party movement.

I was also intrigued by the kerfuffle over Obama going golfing instead of to the funeral in Poland.  Granted, the Canadians didn't go either, and we know it was because of the safety issues of flying through the volcanic ash.  But would it be too much to ask that Obama at least put on a pretense of dignified behavior during such an event?  Some have suggested that he should have gone to the Polish embassy to offer condolences.  We don't really know what he did to mark the somber event, but we do know that he hit the links.  Since libs are so intent on drawing comparisons to BHO and GWB, let's remember that Bush quit playing golf out of respect to those serving and risking their lives in Afghanistan, thinking that it was a bit frivolous for him to be chasing a golf ball while Americans were dying abroad.  No such class from Obama.  Not surprised.

Okay.  I'm dragging myself to work today.  We're starting medieval literature today.  I'm calling doctor number two.  She might laugh at me, tell me to take 800 mgs of ibuprofin three times a day (like the last doctor did) and get over it.  But I won't know unless I call.

Have a happy Monday.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Follow Up Thoughts on the Allee Bautsch Attack

I can't get this photo of Allee Bautsch and her boyfriend, Joe Brown, out of my mind.  It was taken shortly after the attack on them last Friday night in the French Quarter.  I don't know these people, but I do.  They could be anybody.  It could be you stretched out there on the street, using your purse for a pillow, with a broken leg.  That could be you sitting there with a fractured jaw, feeling angry and helpless, next to your injured girlfriend.  You tried to protect her, but you couldn't.  The thugs came after you both.

There's been much fuss and discussion as to whether or not this was a politically motivated attack or not.  It really doesn't matter in the end.  For me, it's more about the physical and mostly the psychological trauma these two innocent young people are facing.  All they did was leave a restaurant and try to get to their hotel.

The police statement is heartbreaking, really.  Here is a portion of it, transcribed by Michelle Malkin:

“Shortly before 10:30pm, Mr. Brown and Ms. Bautsch left the restaurant and began walking towards St. Louis. Street. Mr. Brown noted there were still several protestors loitering in the area, but not nearly the number which had been present earlier. Soon after leaving the restaurant, he heard what he described as ‘cat calls.’ At an unknown point within the 400 block of Royal Street, both Mr. Brown and Ms. Bautsch then crossed from the Brennan’s side of the street to the Supreme Court side of the street. They continued to walk towards St. Louis when Mr. Brown began to hear people behind him scream obscenities. Initially he was not sure if thoese were being directed at him and his girlfriend, or if they were simply the outbursts of drunken revelers. As they neared the intersection, Mr. Brown stated he heard subjects state thing such as, ‘Little blonde bitch,’ ‘You’re a fu**king faggot,’ and ‘You think you’re fu**king special.’ At this point Mr. Brown realized these derogatory terms were being directed at Ms. Bautsch and him. He then requested she begin to walk faster toward the Omni-Royal hotel located at the intersection of St. Louis and Royal. Mr. Brown also recalled the farther they got from the restaurant, the closer these subjects got to them. When they reached the corner of St. Louis and Royal, Mr. Brown and his date turned south on St. Louis. It was at this time that one of the subjects pushed him into the iron gate which surrounds the State Supreme Court. He then fell to the ground, and one of the attackers got on top of him and began to attack him. Mr. Brown stated as he was being pushed to the ground, Ms. Bautsch was also either pushed down or fell down near where he was. As he fought to get his attacker off of him, he heard his girlfriend cry out in pain. She then repeatedly stated,”Oh my god, my leg is broken.”

Awful.  Just awful.  I hope they catch these thugs.  I really do.

It's a black eye for New Orleans, surely.  If tourists aren't safe in the French Quarter, and they aren't, then there are some real problems in New Orleans.  But, to be fair, it could happen anywhere.

My prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery to both Miss Bautsch and Mr. Brown. 

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around: The Visiting Relatives Edition

Todays FMJRA is the visiting relatives edition because my niece, her husband, and their son are coming over from Dallas for the evening to visit.  My mom will be 86 this year and Nene, my niece, likes to get over as often as she can to see her.  Alex is probably one of the most photographed kids on the planet (Nene is a photographer), but I don't seem to have a picture of them together.  This photo is from last year. 

We'll congregate at mom's house later this afternoon and visit for a while, then head out to Monjunis for some great Italian food!  (I always get the shrimp cheese toast).  On the way over from Dallas, they are going to stop at Yogi and Friends, an exotic cat sanctuary.  Steve and I have talked about going out there for years and have never done it, so I'll be interested in their review!

At any rate, I have a house to clean and a yard to tend to, so lets see what links we can scare up this week:

American Power has a post on Michelle Obama's latest FAIL, this time from a military wife.

Left Coast Rebel reports that the Crash the Tea Party guy has now been placed on leave by his school district.

Pirate's Cove reports on a new law in Arizona that does away with the concealed carry permit.  Interesting.

Snaggletoothie has some thoughts on Krauthammer's column this week and Obama's nuke policy.

Don't miss Doug Ross's report on the elimination of the public charge doctrine in the Obamacare bill.  You'll want to read that because it's going to cost you a lot of money.  Don't forget to thank the President for that one.

Stacy and Smitty had some awesome Tea Party coverage.

Legal Insurrection makes some valid points on the Kagan rumors.

Have you seen the Tea Party Barbie?  Heh!  Pundette has some words of advice for Bill Clinton. And on a related note, did you know that right-wing extremists are as dangerous as al-Qaeda?  See Gateway Pundit for that report.

I wasn't the only one outraged over Obama's smug, arrogant remarks in Miami this week; Ruby Slippers has a round-up.

No Sheeples Here has a round up of Tea Party action around the country as well as my currently favorite sign!

Grandpa John busts some Tea Party infiltrators!

Congratulations to Troglopundit for his own Memeorandum thread!

Potluck, where I've been neglecting to post since I've been sick, is thriving and doing well!  Check it out!

And finally, let's close today with Bride of Rove who smells a conspiracy brewing.

I've got to get busy with my Saturday stuff.  It's supposed to rain today and if I'm quick, I can get the yard mowed before it does.  That ought to be GREAT for my pleurisy.  What the hell am I thinking?  Maybe I'll just work inside today.  I'll catch you later.