Saturday, August 22, 2009

Teachers Union Breaks with Obama on Education Plan – NEA complains over less than .005 percent of education budget boost to Charter Schools

The AP is reporting that the NEA (National Education Association) is at odds with the President’s stance on Education. The Progressive Teachers Union, which is one of the largest donors to the Democrat Party, is particularly annoyed with Obama’s stance on Standardized Testing, and Charter Schools. More specifically, the Stimulus allows $5 Billion dollars in grants under Obama’s “Race To the Top” program, which, among other things, pays Charter School teachers (who do not have to join a union) based on performance. Additionally, this plan blocks interference from individual States that do not allow the use test scores to determine a teacher’s performance.

This is one for Obama - No kidding. The hold that the two Teacher’s Union’s currently running the U.S. educational system has on the nation’s public non-charter school teachers, is what has driven down the quality of education in the nation and contributed to the sub-standard quality of education in all schools, regardless of locale. The need for the unionization of teachers is questionable in the first place. Teachers are degreed professionals, who should be able to negotiate individual contracts upon hire by any given district, and be compensated based on performance, and summarily dismissed when performance is sub-standard, and or actions by teachers are questionable (to say the least). Currently, teachers who, for example, are arrested on drug charges, are protected by the union and cities are forced to reinstate that sub-standard teacher. If teachers, as professionals, were able to compete based upon performance, their salaries would increase, as well as the students overall performance, while the individual municipalities would be able to afford better teachers, as they would not be forced to carry Union deadwood.

Just a thought, but while Reagan had the opportunity after breaking the Air Traffic Controllers Union back in the 1980’s, he could have taken it a step further and disbanded any union that negotiated for individuals who worked outside of the blue collar arena.

The original intent of Unions – protect blue collar workers against dangerous workplaces, and negotiate for pensions and benefits was noble and necessary – see Triangle Factory Fire as a specific example of why Unions were needed at the time (notice the past tense). We now have Federal Laws that negate the need for the union in regards to pay (minimum wage), and safety (OSHA). Further, in a free market society, if one is not happy with their place of employment – and they are competent, they are free to go elsewhere should the pay/benefits not be to standard. Those that are Degreed are another story - There is a huge difference between someone with at minimum, a Bachelors degree, or more likely a Masters, “enjoying” freedom to be incompetent on the states dime – solely because they are protected by a union – while those who hold the same credentials and excel are held back – by the same union. Therefore, there should be federal regulations in place regarding unions (shoe on the other foot) being limited to forming soley when, and if, a workplace is hazardous and/or substandard, and those workers are not holding a four year or higher college degree.

Understanding that, once noble institutions have since grown into nothing more than large fundraising arms,(lobbyists) guided by power hungry corporate-like structures and officers. Ultimately the focus has nothing to do with protecting a worker, rather, more to do with taking a portion of the workers’ wages, to put back into the “union-corporation.” (Not to mention dictating to the union member how to vote, an infringement on one’s basic liberties.) Disband unions and watch the nation flourish.

Obama’s portion of the Stimulus that deals with Charter schools and separates them from the Union is a step in the right direction. His Choice of Arne Duncan, as Education Secretary, was one choice that may have ticked of the NEA and Company, but may prove to be a good choice for the nation’s education system as a whole. What one might have trouble believing is that a politician, at any level, specifically a Democrat would take on the NEA, without giving some concessions - that said, stranger things have happened. The facts are that this particular funding, represents a small portion of the overall education budget, , in fact, education spending under the Bush Administration, (here comes the politics) grew 34% in his 8 years in office. The total budget in 2007-2008 for education K-12 spending was $667 Billion, therefore, the $4 billion going to charter schools is an extremely small portion. It does give Charter schools a chance and further, it is a thorn in the side of the teachers union, as any power lost is a problem to those who fund the DNC. (Both The NEA and the AFT donate exclusively to the DNC (Source: Open To read a synopsis of program go to Democrats for Education Reform

Note: percentage of budget to charter schools: based upon 667 billion budget versus 4 billion to this program =.00599 percent.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ted Kennedy Requests Mass. Senate Replacement Rule Change – Duval Patrick Choices Should Change Occur – Rumored: Barney Frank to Patrick Kennedy

Possible MA Senator Joseph Kennedy - image: Boston Herald

Massachusetts Senator, Ted Kennedy (D-MA)sent a letter to Governor Duval Patrick, and Massachusetts Top Legislators, Therese Murray and Robert A. DeLeo, requesting that the Massachusetts law governing vacant U.S. Senate seats, be changed (back), to allow for a speedy replacement. The current law requires a special election by the people, with a window of several months between the time the seat became vacant and the election were held. The law was changed in 2004 – at that time Governor’s had the ability to appoint a successor, however, as Kerry was running for President and the Governor, Mitt Romney, most likely would have filled the seat with a Republican, high profile Democrats urged the legislature to protect the Democrat Party and change the law to insure a general election.
Why the rush? The general theory is that with Kennedy in poor health, every vote that the Party can manufacture is needed in the Senate for the Obama Health Reform Plan. As it stands now, according to most news outlets, the plan is in danger of being lost by a mere 1 or 2 votes, and, should the need arise to replace Kennedy, a stalwart Obama supporter is required in that seat to insure the Bill’s passage.

A few problems with this scenario: first, the bill is becoming increasingly unpopular with the American Public, according to pollsters, only 26 percent strongly support the current plan , which places any Democrat or Republican that does support the bill, and is facing reelection in 2010 in a very tenuous position - politicians live by polls. Secondly, the “Town Hall Meetings” on the proposed health care plan changes have been extremely well attended and very vocal in opposition to the program. These two factors are forcing incumbents to choose between their jobs (and in this economy, that should be a no-brainer) and their Party leader, Barack Obama. Therefore, the idea that Kennedy’s seat needs to be immediately filled because one or two votes is all that separates the bill from passage is problematic, as when push comes to shove, self-preservation trumps party loyalty (see Arlen Specter). That said, very little taking place in the political arena makes sense, so a hasty fill of the Kennedy seat, by any means, is on the table.

Although those key Massachusetts lawmakers are silent on the subject of a change, the odds are that Duval Patrick ( Gibbs, White House Press Secretary, noted that Obama hasn’t spoken with Patrick or Kennedy – other white house politicos are not mentioned see David Axelrod connection to Duval Patrick and Obama), will readily go with the program to “save Obama’s Health Care Plan”, and the Massachusetts House and Senate leaders, are prone to go with the party, regardless of any consequences (especially in Massachusetts where the Democrats have enjoyed a majority for decades). Therefore, watch in coming weeks for a replacement to be named to fill Kennedy’s seat – the question remains who will become the new Democrat Senator from Massachusetts?

The speculation that Ted Kennedy’s seat would be filled by another Kennedy (maintaining the political dynasty) has been rampant since Kennedy first showed signs of an illness. The two top choices have been his wife, Victoria and his nephew, Joseph P. Kennedy – this make sense from a Massachusetts perspective, but does it make sense from a perspective of who is most likely to tow the line and have the clout to convince others to do the same? That leaves few key Democrats in Massachusetts with the credentials. The few that come to mind are from the U.S. House: Richard Neal (D-MA), Second District, Ed Markey, (D-MA), 7th District and Barney Frank (D-MA, 4th district. Both Neal and Markey are staunch supporters of the Party, but less high profile and or public than most in Washington, preferring to vote consistently with the Party – either one would insure a vote, but would either have the ability to bring along another Democrat (which is what is needed here), who might be wavering on the proposed plan? That’s questionable. The only one that comes to mind (and there may be others, but “stars” in Massachusetts politics are a rarity outside of the State,) is 4th District U.S. Representative, Barney Frank.

Frank, who recently held a forum in Dartmouth that addressed the Health Care Plan (among other issues), ran the forum in vintage Frank style, going so far as to insult those constituents who came to protest health care reform, and focusing instead on the “benefits” of the plan, how he would do what he felt was best, and of course, on other issues, the problems caused by the Bush administration. In Massachusetts, regardless of party, one must play to the majority of registered voters: the independent. Frank played to the base. Additionally, Frank is up for re-election in 2010, but has yet declared his intent to run, and most telling some Massachusetts political insiders suggest Frank is headed to the Senate , which is why he has yet declared his candidacy. Granted, the aforementioned, is more rumor than fact, yet, what better choice is there? Frank is a key player in the Obama administration, a prominent Soros type Progressive, who is politically savvy, and has the backing of his party and the press (in most cases). He is not a shy man, and would, most likely, use everything in his arsenal to squeeze any wayward Democrat into seeing things his way. From a purely strategic point of view, he’s a prime candidate. That said, this being Massachusetts, and the Kennedy’s being the Kennedy’s, one can well-imaged that Dynasty may win out over pragmatics. Regardless of the choice, this will be an extremely interesting political play to watch. The drama, the possibility of State party maneuvering, intervention from national Democrats and the eventual choice makes for reality television at its best.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Republican’s take the lead on Public Trust – 8 out of 10 Key Issues – Rasmussen

The public trust is a fluid commoditynot owned for long recently, by any political party - as proven by a recent Rasmussen Poll.

On the issues:
  • Health Care – Republicans lead in polling on trust by 44% to 41% (Democrats)
    (The President’s Health Care Reform Plan is currently favored by 42% of the population, down from prior polls)

  • On the Economy – by 6 points

  • On Education – 41% to 38%

  • On Social Security – 43% to 39%

  • On Taxes – 51% to 35%

  • War in Iraq – Tied

  • National Security – 47 to 43% (a decrease)

  • Ethics and Corruption – 31% to 34% (Democrats)

  • Abortion – 46% to 36%

  • This survey was based on a sample of 1,000 likely voters.

    Looking at the issues that Republics (i.e. conservatives) hold the lead – several are related to and include the economy, such as taxes, social security, and health care reform (the social aspects aside, this is an economic issue) – One would expect the Republican party to come out strong on Abortion and National Security, but surprisingly Education, which has been owned for decades by the Democrat Party, is now in the hands of Republicans – the question is why? Republicans are more free-market in areas of education, with a belief that should there be competition, the end result would be better teachers, and higher levels of education achieved by the general populace, as it would apply across the board (See Mike Huckabee’s record on education while Govenor of Arkansas – outstanding.) That said, the Democrats backed by the powerful teachers unions, may have had a play in the numbers change, as most American’s now consider themselves as conservatives. The ethics and corruption category should be owned by both parties, and has been, therefore, this one, from a reasonable perspective, is moot.

    What is driving these numbers? A move to the left by the Obama administration, (centrist on the Campaign trail) while in concert with the leading Progressives in both Houses, is leading the general public (those that now consider themselves conservative) to brand the entire party. It is perception that will realize any change in power in the 2010 election. For polling on 2010 races (Congressional and Senate) visit: Real Clear Politics.

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Barney Frank Town Hall Meeting – Blue State Massachusetts Draws Large Crowd – Analysis and Personal Perspective

    The nation has seen a slew of Health Care Reform Town Hall meetings and Forums held by Representatives and Senators throughout August; with the result that most have had unexpectedly large turnouts of both detractors and supports (Union and ACORN) of the proposed plan. Barney Frank’s meeting was no exception, as crowd estimates varied from 200 to 300 constituentsmost of whom appeared to have an unfavorable opinion of the program. What is of interest in this process, is the fact that in States that are viewed as being “owned” by the Democrat Party, such as Massachustts, the crowds are large and they are loud. One would anticipate that states labeled as such would clearly support the plan, with a lower than average turnout at a Barney Frank Meeting (re: this was not originally intended to be a Health Care meeting, rather a meeting on issues with the Dartmouth MA DNC – but was opened to the public – an actual Health Care Town Hall Meeting will be held by Barney Frank, location and date is currently to be announced.

    One possible explanation for the intensity of the opposition to any government run program by Massachusetts citizens, is that a recent poll by Gallop suggests that more American’s view themselves as conservatives than liberal – even in Massachusetts. Conservatives (not to be confused with the Republican Party), more often favor free market solutions, rather than government controlled entities (which result in higher taxes) while Liberals (not to be confused with all individual Democrats), favor a socialist form of government where all aspects of one’s life are run by the government, from health care to utilities – the government owns and operates all business, from auto makers to utilities to healthcare.

    Also of interest is the treatment of the Frank Meeting by a variety of news sources – there are several clips below, based on the same incident, but reported differently, depending upon the media outlet. One thing is certain, regardless of the tone of the constituent, up to and including the misguided comparison of Obama to Hitler (which, as many of these protestors have not been involved in the political process prior to this administration, may not be aware of the details of each and every “star” in the political arena, therefore, may not have been aware that this particular comparison would have been particularly offensive to Frank as he is Jewish – that said, she is still, as Mr. Frank pointed out, within her Contitutional Right to do so.) Mr. Frank, however, had no excuse to talk down to and make sport of his constituents, even those that disagreed with him most – he is an elected official, therefore, held to a higher standard, and could have responded disapprovingly without insulting his constituents.

    From this bloggers perspective on the debate in general: We are a nation of immigrants, and perhaps, like myself, many of those attending these meetings, have drawn from family backgrounds. As a first generation American of Austrian and Spanish decent, with an extended family in Europe throughout the decades; the firsthand accounts of life under a socialist form of government (Austria), and Fascism (Spain), led to a firm belief that the American form of government was to be treasured. With a father who was a civil rights activist, as well as organizer for one of the most powerful unions in the country during the 1950’s through the 1960’s – what was taught was that our country was great simply because we were able to demonstrate – without fear of being shot or imprisoned, what he feared most was Socialism and Fascism of any form. On the maternal side, the losses to the family during World War II were severe, as relatives were either pressed into service by the government (Hitler), or murdered depending upon their religious affiliation. This gave a unique perspective on the import of less government, and greater control by the people, as the essential element of American Government. Therefore, any option that is run by the government in regards to health care, or business, only brings the current Democratic Republic closer to a socialist model. The fear of the aforementioned is what is driving independents, moderate Democrats, Libertarians and Republicans to these town hall meetings, many for the first time, to lend a voice in opposition to any plan that even smacks of a socialized model – even in Massachusetts

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    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    As America Turns – Polls Suggest The Political Pendulum Swings in Favor of Conservatism in Government - Reid, Dodd, Boxer - Out - Analysis

    Several polls released over the past two months suggest that, against all odds (as purported by the media, pundits and the current political party in charge), there will be a change or elimination of Party control over one or both houses of Congress in 2010. The polling to date, which is reminiscent of polls taken in 2005-2006 and again in 2007-2008, shows either a total or growing lack of support for an incumbent – which is not historically unusual when one political party controls all branches of government.

    High profile Democrats who are most likely to be replaced in 2010 include:
    Barbara Boxer (Senate: D-CA) who is holding onto a narrow margin against a yet-undeclared, Carly Fiorina. Fiorina, former Hewlett Packard CEO, is currently polling at 41% to Boxers 45% (Rasmussen, an increase over a previous poll taken in March (Boxer 47%/Fiorina 38%).

    Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, (D-NV), is most likely to be replaced by Republican Sue Lowden, who is polling ahead of Reid by 6 points (and has yet to formally enter the race). Reid’s popularity with Nevada voters is low - 45% of voters polled would replace him.

    The list from Real Clear Politics (a compilation and average of several pollsters per candidate) is telling:

  • Chris Dodd (Senate: D-CT), is trailing Republican Rob Simmons by 1 to 9 points (Quinnipiac), the only discrepancy is a Daily Koss Poll which gives Dodd 5 points over Simmons.

  • Christ handily bests Democrat Kendrick Meek in Florida’s Senate Race by 18 to 31 points.

  • In Illinois, Mark Kirk, Republican, is besting incumbent Burris for the Senate by 34 points, the Daily Koss poll suggests that Burris is besting Kirk by 7 points (a pattern is developing here).

  • In Pennsylvania, Toomey (Republican) bests Specter (former Republican turned Democrat) by 12 points (Koss has Specter beating Toomey by 5 points).

  • Of interest, general polling regarding current issues also suggests a turn towards conservatism:
    Regarding the proposed Health Care Reform 54 % of American’s feel passing no reform would be better than the current congressional plan., and a new Gallup Poll suggests that American’s view themselves more as conservatives in all 50 states.

    Some may suggest that this trend towards Republicans and Conservatism in general has been brought about by the current administrations programs, which run left of center, which may, in part, be true. That said, with the thirst for change constant in most American’s minds, those who don’t eat, breathe and live for politics (the majority) may be viewing the political arena in terms of a reality television show. As the personalities of politician’s morphed into “Star Status”, the opportunity for the general public to become disenfranchised rose proportionately. Once the charisma of any given personality loses its luster, the public turns to the next “contestant”, literally voting the “star” (incumbent) off the island. Although some progressives in education assert that control of the masses (and control of the votes), by dumbing down America, would ensure a change in government; the miscalculation of the appeal of quick changes and celebrity fascination with quick dismissal, never entered into the equation. More to the point, the American Independent Voter, once again, believed a political campaign promises (or slew of promises), and as these promises evaporated, or have not taken place at lightning speed (which would be impossible); they have shifted focus to the opposing party.

    Monday, August 17, 2009

    Obama – Government Run Health Care Not Essential to Reform – Victory For The Court of Public Opinion

    Average Citizens Lined the Block at Health Care Forum in N.C. - images American Elephant

    The Associated Presshas reported that Barack Obama “is willing to embrace insurance cooperatives over a government-run plan as the White House faces mounting opposition to its broad overhaul of the nation's health care system.” The article goes on to say that the President did so by bowing to pressure placed on the administration by “Republicans” and “fiscally Conservative Democrats.” One has to have lived in a virtual vacuum to come up with that explanation for the administrations sudden change of heart.

    For the month of August, Democrats and Republicans held “Town Hall Meetings” or “Health Care Forums” in their districts, which were unusually well-attended. The attendees of these meetings were painted as “mobs”, pawns for Insurance Agencies, organized by “Conservative Groups”, and so on – that said, the majority of attendees at these meetings were there because they did not want a private payer system – and they came from all walks of life and all political affiliations. Although pundits from the right and the left ratcheted up the rhetoric during the few weeks, it was the American people who were determined to have their voices heard. Yes, there were some organized groups that attended these meetings, among them the 9-12 groups (which are bi-partisan and conservative) as well as ACORN and members of the SEIU, that said, most of those attending did so for the opportunity to voice their opposition to the proposed bill, in a constitutionally correct manner, and many were without party affiliation or unenrolled.

    Union Members Protesting For Universal Health Care -image AFLCIO

    The media charges and charges made against these protestors by members of Congress vis a vis, “mobs”, etc., only added fuel to the fire, and made these average citizens more determined. The basic theme of these “meetings” appeared to be “We hired you – you work for us” and with the modified threat “You can be voted out.” (Which one can believe played the largest role in the final decision.)
    This was a victory of the American People, but more importantly, a victory of the form of Government which we have – a Republic, whereby, citizen representatives are chosen by the people to do their bidding. (U.S. Constitution)

    Historically, there have been few times in this nation’s history where individual citizens were so opposed to a U.S. government course of action that protests of this magnitude have taken place, and in each of these instances, the government changed course (either immediately and or/through the process of the election of new leadership). It will be interesting to see; now that these individuals have found a voice, how they will react should they feel that strongly about other government policy in the future.

    Sunday, August 16, 2009

    New Swine Flu Vaccine May have Deadly Side Effect – Massachusetts Deputizes Dentists to Administer Vaccine.

    The new, untested, vaccine for the H1N1 may have one serious side effect – GBS – or Guillian-Barre Syndrome (paralysis and death). A letter to sent to UK neurologists warned them about the new vaccine and its similarities to a 1976 vaccine, similar in nature, which caused 25 deaths in the US. In 1976

    More people died from the vaccination than the flue
    500 cases of GBS were detected
    The vaccine may have increased the risk of contracting GBS by 8 times
    The vaccine was withdrawn after just 10 weeks when the link with GBS became clear
    The U.S. Government was forced to pay out millions of dollars to those affected.

    In the U.S. the Boston Globe has reported that schools in several states will be used as vaccination centers, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has taken the unprecedented step of deputizing dentists and other providers to administer the vaccine. One must understand that Massachusetts also passed S18, a bill which gives the Governor the power to authorize the deployment and use of any forces to in order to distribute supplies, and materials - local authorities will be allowed to enter private residences for investigation and to quarantine individuals.The bill entitled: “AN ACT RELATIVE TO PANDEMIC AND DISASTER PREPARATION AND RESPONSE IN THE COMMONWEALTH” can be read here. The bill was pushed through the Massachusetts Senate back in April, in anticipation of an outbreak.

    It is interesting that those who are under 65 years of age are, at this stage, encouraged, not yet forced (see Massachusetts Senate Act) to receive the vaccine, which is a two stage vaccine, to be taken in addition to the regular flu vaccine - The groups recommended to receive the novel H1N1 influenza vaccine include:

  • Pregnant women because they are at higher risk of complications and can potentially provide protection to infants who cannot be vaccinated;
  • Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age because younger infants are at higher risk of influenza-related complications and cannot be vaccinated. Vaccination of those in close contact with infants less than 6 months old might help protect infants by “cocooning” them from the virus;
  • Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel because infections among healthcare workers have been reported and this can be a potential source of infection for vulnerable patients. Also, increased absenteeism in this population could reduce healthcare system capacity;
  • All people from 6 months through 24 years of age
  • Children from 6 months through 18 years of age because we have seen many cases of novel H1N1 influenza in children and they are in close contact with each other in school and day care settings, which increases the likelihood of disease spread, and
  • Young adults 19 through 24 years of age because we have seen many cases of novel H1N1 influenza in these healthy young adults and they often live, work, and study in close proximity, and they are a frequently mobile population; and,
  • Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.

  • That said, the CDC is already taking steps to cover its proverbial behind by producing a list of those who should not receive the vaccine:

    Who Should Not Be Vaccinated
    There are some people who should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. These include
  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
  • People who developed Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.
  • Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group), and
  • People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)

  • With the impact of this particular strain in the United States still unknown, other methods of preventing the spread and or contraction of any flu should be considered especially if one is planning to opt out of the annual flu vaccine (unless of course, you live in Massachusetts and your deputized dentist is mandated to give you the vaccine by the Governor) Simply, follow general common-sense rules when it comes to the annual flu season – (From the CDC) Wash hands with soap and water, frequency, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, properly dispose of tissues, avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose – stay home from work or school if you do have a flu (or cold or other illness) – at least for 24 hours, limit contact with others (see stay at home!). Additionally, stock up and start taking Airborne! - , not only does it build up the immune system; it was developed by a teacher and is readily available.

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