Did taxpayers finance Romney’s wealth?

April 14, 2012

Mitt Romney’s fortune comes mostly from his work at Bain Capital Management.

Capital management?  What is capital management, exactly, you ask?

Prof. Robert Reich explained how private equity firms like Bain make their money, and fortunately MoveOn.org had a camera running when he did, “How exactly did Mitt Romney Get So Obscenely Rich? Robert Reich explains The Magic of Private Equity in 8 Easy Steps”:

Any questions?

Oh, I have one:  Prof. Reich, can you explain how Warren Buffett got so obscenely rich, and tell us the differences in the methods Buffett used, from those Romney used?

I have another question, too, but I’m not sure where to direct it:  Romney says he wants to “help out” the U.S. with his budgeting expertise; to whom does he expect to sell the U.S. government once he’s wrung out all the savings?

More, and Related articles:


Can you help Ruthelle to keep her right to vote?

April 10, 2012

An 84-year-old Wisconsin woman, told she can’t vote for the first time in 75 years, because she lacks an “appropriate” birth certificate, and perhaps she’s been spelling her name differently from how Wisconsin wants her to spell it, for more than 80 years.

Meanwhile, has anyone ever found any voter fraud that I.D. can stop?

Since voting is a civil liberty, the ACLU is working to keep Ruthelle voting.

Volunteer to help, here.


Not averse to a verse? National Poetry Month

April 9, 2012

In spring, a teacher’s fancy turns to thoughts of poetry.  Fortunately, April is National Poetry Month.

What is it?

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.

How to celebrate?  Read poetry. Use poetry in your classroom, or at your job. And don’t forget these other activities:

Poem In Your Pocket Day: Thousands of individuals across the U.S. will carry a poem in their pockets on April 26, 2012.

Poetry & the Creative Mind: Each April, The Academy of American Poets presents a star-studded celebration of American poetry.

30 Poets, 30 Days: Throughout each day during National Poetry Month, a selected poet will have 24 hours to post on Tumblr an array of ephemera—in the form of text, images, audio, and video—before passing the baton.

Poem-A-Day: Great poems from new books emailed each day of National Poetry Month. Sign up for your daily dose of new poems from new spring poetry titles.

Spring Book List: Check out the new books of poetry available each spring.

Poem Flow for iPhones: Available through the iTunes store, this innovative mobile app features daily poems presented as both fixed and animated text.

National Poetry Map: Find out what is happening in your state by visiting our redesigned and updated National Poetry Map.

Surely you can find something fun to do.


Yosemite NP warning good worldwide: Watch out for running water

April 7, 2012

Our Scout Troop readies for two summer camp excursions this summer, and Kathryn and I hope to get out somewhere not drought stricken for at least a weekend.  Generally we tack on a whitewater river run on the Scout trips, if we can find a good one for reasonable price.  Safety instructions always include the solid order to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times.  We have a few adult leaders trained in Safety Afloat, and we work to have the Scouts up to “swimmer” or “lifesaver” ability for the trips.

It’s a good idea to review all the rules for safety near water in the great outdoors.

The good video crew at Yosemite National Park posted this dramatic video story — please watch, and heed the warnings.  Doesn’t matter how well you swim, if you get pinned underwater by a powerful flow — and they are all powerful — you’re in trouble.  This story has a happy ending with chastened hikers who learned uncharted short cuts may not be a good idea.  For nearly a score of people in Yosemite NP the turnout was not wonderful, in the last ten years.

In Texas, drownings take about a hundred lives a year, averaging 81 child drownings each year:  “An average of 81 children drowned each year since DFPS [Department of Family Protective Services] began tracking these deaths in 2005. DFPS identified 76 water fatalities in 2005, 70 in 2006, 63 in 2007, 82 in 2008, 113 in 2009 and 84 in 2010, and 79 in 2011 as of August 31, 2011.”  [If you can find figures including adult drownings, please let us know in the comments.]

Please watch, and pass along to anyone you know who will be hiking this year.

Text from the filmmakers:

Sixteen people died in Yosemite’s rivers and creeks between 2002 and 2011. Water in Yosemite is more dangerous than it looks, and stories like Matthew’s are a common occurrence.

Go outside, have great fun, see America.  Be careful when you do.


Jefferson’s birthday anniversary, April 13

April 6, 2012

Library of Congress's South Reading Room. Mural of Thomas Jefferson with his residence, Monticello, in the background, by Ezra Winter. Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C.

So, what are you doing to celebrate the birthday of Thomas Jefferson on April 13?

You might visit the Library of Congress, and see Jefferson’s advice to President Obama on a variety of issues, including freedom, labor, kids today, education, and the difficulty of keeping our democratic republic:

Murals by Ezra Winter also decorate the South Reading Room. The theme for these four murals is drawn from Thomas Jefferson’s writings, which are inscribed on the paintings and reflect Jefferson’s thoughts on Freedom, Labor, the Living Generation, Education, and Democratic Government. The characters and costumes depicted are those of Jefferson’s time. A portrait of Jefferson with his residence, Monticello, in the background is in the lunette above the reference desk at the north end of the room; the words in the lower left- had corner explain that THIS ROOM IS DEDICATED TO THOMAS JEFFERSON .

On the left half of the panel on the east wall, Jefferson’s view on Freedom is depicted:

THE GROUND OF LIBERTY IS TO BE GAINED BY INCHES. WE MUST BE CONTENTED TO SECURE WHAT WE CAN GET FROM TIME TO TIME AND ETERNALLY PRESS FORWARD FOR WHAT IS YET TO GET. IT TAKES TIME TO PERSUADE MEN TO DO EVEN WHAT IS FOR THEIR OWN GOOD.

Jefferson to Rev. Charles Clay, January 27, 1790

Jefferson’s views on labor, also on the east wall, are taken from his Notes on Virginia:

THOSE WHO LABOR IN THE EARTH ARE THE CHOSEN PEOPLE OF GOD, IF HE EVER HAD A CHOSEN PEOPLE, WHOSE BREASTS HE HAS MADE THE PECULIAR DEPOSITS FOR SUBSTANTIAL AND GENUINE VIRTUE. IT IS THE FOCUS IN WHICH HE KEEPS ALIVE THAT SACRED FIRE WHICH OTHERWISE MIGHT NOT ESCAPE FROM THE EARTH.

From Notes on Virginia, 1782

On the south wall, the panel over the clock contains a quotation about the Living:

THE EARTH BELONGS ALWAYS TO THE LIVING GENERATION. THEY MAY MANAGE IT THEN AND WHAT PROCEEDS FROM IT AS THEY PLEASE DURING THEIR USUFRUCT. THEY ARE MASTERS TOO OF THEIR OWN PERSONS AND CONSEQUENTLY MAY GOVERN THEM AS THEY PLEASE.

Jefferson to James Madison, September 6, 1789

On the left half of the panel on the west wall, Jefferson’s view of Education is illustrated:

EDUCATE AND INFORM THE MASS OF THE PEOPLE. ENABLE THEM TO SEE THAT IT IS THEIR INTEREST TO PRESERVE PEACE AND ORDER, AND THEY WILL PRESERVE THEM. ENLIGHTEN THE PEOPLE GENERALLY, AND TYRANNY AND OPPRESSION OF THE BODY AND MIND WILL VANISH LIKE EVIL SPIRITS AT THE DAWN OF DAY.

Jefferson to James Madison, December 20, 1787 (first two sentences);
Jefferson to P.S. Dupont de Nemours, April 24, 18l6 (last sentence).

Usufruct,” the Word of the Day for April 13.

Jefferson was born April 2, 1843, under the old Julian calendar (O.S., or Old System) — April 13 on the Gregorian calendar.

How should we celebrate?

More:

 


Bagley’s cartoon on criticizing Obamacare

April 6, 2012

Generally the Pulitzer Prize committees look at specific works submitted by candidates.  Bagley‘s day-in, day-out brilliance must make it difficult for editors to choose what to nominate, no?

This cartoon is just perfect, in so many ways:

 

Criticism of ObamaCare. Cartoon by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune, March 28, 2012.

I hope these cartoons get picked up by newspapers far outside of Utah. They deserve to be seen more broadly. Click cartoon to go to Salt Lake Tribune’s archives of Bagley’s work. Cartoon of March 28, 2012.

Who does God prefer? Kind atheists?

April 6, 2012

Actual photo, from the Rose City Park United Methodist Church, in Portland, Oregon.

Rose City Park United Methodist Church sign, "God prefers atheists . . ."

The sign got a mention in Larry Bingham’s column in The Oregonian, and he says it’s making more headlines.

The Rose City Park United Methodist Church minister’s recent sign, which says “God Prefers Kind Atheists over Hateful Christians” is making headlines all over the place.

My colleague, Religion Writer Nancy Haught, cites it in her story on the shifting terminology between “religion” and “Christian.” And The Christian Post also has a story.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kathy Paxton-Williams.


Obama, on the Republican budget plan

April 5, 2012

Obama drew the line in the economic sand, for 2012:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Stand with President Obama Against the Radical …, posted with vodpod


Annals of DDT: Pesticide starred in 1944 Army film

April 5, 2012

In 1944, DDT seemed like a great idea.  The U.S. Army made this film extolling the virtues of the stuff, “DDT:  Weapon Against Disease.”  It runs just over 14 and a half minutes, from the Army Signal Corps.

The film recently found its way to the Internet Archives; I assume this YouTube version comes from there (I can’t embed the Internet Archives version).

Though the film does not discuss the dangers of DDT in any appreciable way, it’s a valuable contribution to the historical canon, simply to show what DDT advocates hoped the substance could do, near the end of World War II.

A transcript of the film is available at the National Library of Medicine on-line version.

 


Colorado’s Mike Miles named “sole finalist” for Dallas ISD Superintendent job

April 5, 2012

Four teachers mentioned to me last week their fear that Michelle Rhee might get the top education job in Dallas.  She didn’t, but is Mike Miles enough different to make them breathe easier?  Probably not.

Here’s the DISD video of his press conference, at which he was named sole finalist.  Under Texas law and regulation, a district must name a sole finalist, and then wait a period before confirming the appointment.

Miles, a former Army Ranger and Foreign Service officer, leads a school district serving part of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Harrison District #2.  He’s led the 11,000 student district since 2006; Dallas has 157,000 students.

Dallas ISD sent a notice to employees late Tuesday afternoon about Miles’s designation as superintendent-to-be:

Dallas Independent School District’s Board of Trustees have named Mike Miles as the lone finalist for the district’s superintendent position.

Trustees have been conducting a nationwide search for a new superintendent that included receiving input from several stakeholder groups.

Miles, 55, has served as Superintendent for the Harrison School District Two in Colorado Springs since fall 2006. He is known as an innovator and reformer who is changing the face of public education. His ideas and innovations around systems thinking, measuring teacher and principal effectiveness and building an adaptive organization have been recognized by national education institutes and have been adopted by numerous districts around the country.

Under his leadership, Harrison County District Two has experienced increased graduation rates and improved student achievement.

“The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees is thrilled with our selection of Mike Miles as the lone finalist for Superintendent of Schools,” said Lew Blackburn, President of the Board. “Mr. Miles has spent his entire life serving the public and has a proven track record of success. Not only will his life story serve as an inspiration to our students, he is a recognized leader who is focused on student results. Today is a great day for the Dallas Independent School District.”

Mike Miles is a former Army Ranger who graduated from West Point in 1978. He then entered the ranks of the officer corps at Ft. Lewis, Washington, where he served in the Army’s elite Ranger Battalion and commanded an Infantry Rifle Company.

After the Army, Miles studied Slavic languages and literature at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Leningrad in Russia. Miles then pursued advanced study of Soviet affairs and public policy at Columbia University and earned a master’s degree in 1989. The same year, he joined the U. S. Department of State as a policy analyst at the Soviet desk, and then from 1990 to 1995 as diplomat in Moscow and Warsaw at the end of the Cold War.

Miles and his family returned home to Colorado Springs in 1995 where he started as a high school teacher in his alma mater school district – Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8. Miles continued to grow professionally and held other positions such as middle school principal, coordinator of administration services and from 2003 to 2006 served as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, in the same school district.

Currently, Miles also serves as an educational consultant and motivational speaker for school districts and other public organizations around the state of Colorado. He is recognized as an accomplished practitioner of curriculum alignment, organizational effectiveness, and systems thinking.

Miles is married to Karen Miles, and they have three children.

The Dallas ISD School Board plans to officially approve hiring Miles on Thursday, April 26. If approved, Miles is slated to begin work Monday, July 2.

Miles’s experience at the Soviet desk may prove useful in his work to understand various bureaucracies inside DISD (I hope I’m being overly, cynically sarcastic).  One might wonder how a leader could come from an Army Ranger background, but turn around to advocate pay-for-performance for teachers, as he did in Colorado.  Miles said he has no plans to do anything like that in Dallas, at least not without studying Dallas’s situation more.

Maybe more comments here, later.  Still have too much in the in box to write a lot here.

More:


Right or wrong reasons, North Texas governments back into water conservation

April 4, 2012

It’s a win-win situation for North Texas politicians, like Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings — they can take action that helps mitigate problems of global warming, but they don’t have to say they’re doing it for global warming.

Downtown Dallas in the background with the Tri...

Water supplies will limit future growth for cities like Dallas, if good water policies cannot be made to assure water to critical functions - Downtown Dallas in the background with the Trinity River in the foreground. Taken from the N Hampton Rd bridge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mayors of several cities announced they will push to keep watering restrictions on, to conserve water, even though their cities’ water supplies got big boosts from massive rainstorms over the past few weeks.

Bruce Tomaso, editor of The Scoop, a blog at The Dallas Morning News, wrote down all the details (comments at that site are worth visiting).

Thanks to last year’s brutal drought, most North Texans have gotten accustomed to watering lawns sparingly.

As lake levels dropped through the dry, hot summer and fall of 2011, emergency conservation measures were enacted throughout the region.

In some cities — Plano, for example — watering was restricted to twice a month. (That restriction was just eased to once a week.)

In others, including Dallas, a less stringent limit of twice a week has been in force.

On Wednesday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings , joined by the mayors of Fort Worth, Arlington , and Irving , will recommend that a twice-a-week limit on watering be made permanent. The mayors plan a 9:30 a.m. news conference at the offices of the North Texas Council of Governments, 616 Six Flags Drive.

“Although recent rains have improved current water supply availability, a twice weekly watering schedule provides predictable expectations to customers for landscape planning and a way for the region to continue to use water resources wisely,” says a joint statement from the four cities.

Bill Hanna of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that says the idea of making the emergency conservation measures permanent was raised a while ago by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who discussed “a coordinated regional approach” with Rawlings, Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, and Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne.

“I think water conservation is probably the most important issue we have in the next three decades,” he quotes Rawlings as saying. “We cannot continue to grow without water, and I want to continue to grow.”

In each of the four municipalities, the City Council would have to approve a measure to implement permanent limitations on lawn watering.

On a related note, the Texas agriculture commissioner unveiled a new water conservation coalition plan Monday in Mesquite.

It’s a good move, even if they do it for the wrong reasons.  Texas lives in a world of trouble with regard to water.  Too many people live in big cities with water supply systems planned and built a half-century ago, for fewer people.  Massive aquifers that offered backup to surface water supplies have been mined out.  In a short phrase, Texas doesn’t have enough water even in a good rain year, and needs to conserve and develop a state-wide policy on how to allocate water, and how to protect water supplies needed for farming, for industry, and for residential use. Global warming threatens each of those resources in disparate ways, all of them bad.

Conservation is a lot cheaper than building more dams and more pipelines, and more environmentally friendly.  Nice to see these guys endorse conservation.

Trinity River in flood and Dallas at night, 9-2010 IMGP5052 - photo by Ed Darrell, Creative Commons License

Texas should not rely on freak floods to mitigate long-term drought; growth of cities like Dallas require better water policy. Photo shows Dallas at night over the Trinity River flooding, September 2010. Photo by Ed Darrell, Creative Commons Copyright

Tip of the old scrub brush to Sara Ann Maxwell.


Olla podrida: Short takes for Bathtub reading

April 2, 2012

Dr. Ann Dunham was an interesting woman who met challenges, some of her own making, and made life work. She mothered a future president of the United States, she earned a Ph.D. and with it she fought global poverty. In March 2011 Donald Trump stated on “Good Morning America” that birthers like him shouldn’t be dismissed as “idiots.” I guess we can make that dismissal now. The birthers have wasted our precious time with specious allegations and owe the country an apology.

Berlin Airlift:  Lieutenant Donald W. Measley of Hampton, New Jersey is presented with a bouquet of flowers by nine-year-old Suzanna Joks of Berlin. Truman Library photo

Berlin Airlift: Lieutenant Donald W. Measley of Hampton, New Jersey is presented with a bouquet of flowers by nine-year-old Suzanna Joks of Berlin. Truman Library photo

YANGON, MYANMAR — The party of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said Monday it had won nearly every seat in closely watched by-elections, a startling result that showed strong support for the opposition even among government employees and soldiers.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was elected to Parliament for the first time, was ebullient on Monday and spoke of the “beginning of a new era” in a brief address to a tightly packed crowd outside her party’s headquarters.

In total, elections were held in 45 districts, a portion of the more than 600 seats in Parliament. The National League for Democracy appears to have won in 43 districts, according to Hein Min, a member of an independent Burmese election monitoring group.


Look back, but carefully

April 1, 2012

From a Half-Price Books in Arlington, Texas:

Handle Nostalgia with care -- unintentional advice from Half Price Books

Found at a Half-Price Books store in Arlington, Texas, in early December 2011.

Two thoughts, both of them quotes:

First, from Satchel Paige, in his essay, “How to Stay Young,” in Collier’s Magazine, June 13, 1953:

Don’t look back.  Something might be gaining on you.

And from our old friend, George Santayana:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

From The Life of Reason, vol. 1: Reason in Common Sense.

Always handle nostalgia with great care.


President Obama’s campaign film, “The Road We’ve Traveled”

April 1, 2012

Some encouragement for those who follow Santayana’s Ghost, and recall history; some information to change the minds of those who don’t:


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