.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Brevard County School Board Does the Math



Here in Florida, I guarantee the News Story of the Day is this morning's weather. We woke to our version of fall, temperatures in the high 60's. After a summer of being beaten down by heat, humidity and politics, We, the Often Sweaty can actually enjoy our home in paradise.

Collectively, let us all say ah....

But no matter what the thermometer reads, feeling the political heat today, the Brevard County School Board for actions taken during last night's meeting.

The Board voted 3-2 to require employees to pay an additional $30 a month in health insurance premiums. As reported by Florida Today (9/30/09), that's an increase of 138% for employees covering just themselves. For employees covering self and families, the cost would rise from $476 to $506, an increase of 6%.

But the real mystery? A missing $12,000,000. And to address "...how management of the trust fund-related negotiations faltered, leading to an impasse and requiring the board to raise a number of benefits costs to eliminate a projected $12 million deficit" the School Board has recommended the organization of a workshop.

Let me hear ya say, hmmmm?

The decision now moves forward to both unions. With salaries frozen for two years, I'd say ratification looks bleak.

Many locals have been biting the bullet to discuss this situation, so I'll step aside and invite your commentary.

For readers outside Brevard County, read here to catch a bit of the lead-up.

Talk to Me.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Extended School Year? Enough is Enough.


President Obama's recent mention of an extended school day or extended school year (translated: year-round school) made for a here we go again moment.

Arguments for and against a modified calendar have been posed for years. In fact, Brevard County boasts a few unique schools who happily coexist with their more traditional brethren. But the consensus is still out on the merits of just who learns more on what schedule. (Read the research over at Science Daily here).

More times than not, school systems delve into an extended year calendar for all the wrong reasons, such as relieving overcrowded schools. Or the proposed change effects only one segment of the school population, such as elementary school students, placing them on a calendar opposite older siblings who attend secondary schools, leaving parents to juggle conflicting schedules.

The debate really comes down to a few deal-breakers.

The high school football schedule. Unless an entire state chooses to extend the school year for all, not a finger will touch this Holy Grail of a money maker and stepping stone to college for many young people.

Test scores. Unless the research can absolutely guarantee scores will rise, an extended school year ain't gonna happen.

Tranportation. If it costs too much to transport, forgetaboutit.

The conversation usually falls flat on that note. The implementation of an extended-year proves expensive.

The consideration of such an idea during these hard economic times, leads this lefty blogger to officially call out the President himself.

In these tough days and times, the last pressure parents and schools need is additional impact on how both are somehow continuing to make their individual worlds go 'round without falling off the axis.

Enough is enough.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes



The latest indoctrination of our children buzz revolves around a YouTube depicting school kids singing "...the praises of President Obama" during the recognition of Black History month.

February is the month designated to commemorate African-American history, so unless the annual recognition has been moved forward to September, I'd say someone with a not-so-hidden agenda posted a performance from last school year 2008-2009.

Meaning, someone dug up the video.

Now, as far as I know, the parents have not signed releases for the young faces of their children to be blasted worldwide via the wonders of the Internet, so for those interested in taking a look at the video, feel free to look up what appears to be a practice performance here.

Let's take a look at the lyrics.

Mm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that all must lend a hand
To make this country strong again
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said we must be fair today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that we must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said red, yellow, black or white
All are equal in his sight
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

Yes!
Mmm, mmm, mm
Barack Hussein Obama

Song 2:

Hello, Mr. President we honor you today!
For all your great accomplishments, we all doth say “hooray!”

Hooray, Mr. President! You’re number one!
The first black American to lead this great nation!

Hooray, Mr. President we honor your great plans
To make this country’s economy number one again!

Hooray Mr. President, we’re really proud of you!
And we stand for all Americans under the great Red, White, and Blue!

So continue —- Mr. President we know you’ll do the trick
So here’s a hearty hip-hooray —-

Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!


A mmm, mmm, mm right back at those who so fear the Rise of Obama Youth that during the daily archival dig, they apparently missed kids singing the praises of FEMA during the annual Easter egg roll held on the White House lawn, April 2006.

Cited from the WSJ, Out of the Mouth of Babes (04/2006):

To the tune of Hey Look Me Over, about 100 young children from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama sang:

Our country’s stood beside us
People have sent us aid.

Katrina could not stop us, our hopes will never fade.

Congress, Bush and FEMA
People across our land
Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!


After the song, Mrs. Bush posed for photos with the kids, many of whom were wearing Katrina Kids T-shirts, despite the chilly rain.

Earlier, the First Lady read Will You Be My Friend: A Bunny and Bird Story by Nancy Tafuri. According to a White House pool report, the children sat on the grass as Mrs. Bush read; she sat in a white wrought iron chair, freshly toweled by two Park Service employees.

After the reading, Mr. Bush asked, Did you like this book? Does it tell you about what people can do to help other people, what bird did to help bunny? Be kind to him and give him shelter.

But my absolute favorite fair and balanced video of the indoctrination of school kids in the American political process is--hands down--the high-energy performance by Ron Clark Academy students pre-Presidential election 2008.

Obama on the Left, McCain on the Right....You Can Vote However You Like.

Yeah
.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekend Zen



Seems to me

You don't wanna talk about it


Seems to me


You just turn your pretty head and walk away....


James Gang. 1971.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Progressive Punch



America.

The home of the free.

But for a country built on freedom, the definition of the concept has been a struggle ever since our forefathers survived that first long ago winter.

But are we really free? Some would say the only free citizens of the country are those who walk about town with every personal belonging in tow, their own man (or woman), answerable to no one but their Maker.

Others would offer that true freedom is obtained through financial independence, via hard work and by following the rules. In other words, conforming to societal expectations.

Polar opposite thoughts.

Which causes me to ask...

What does freedom look like like to you?

Is "freedom just another word for nothing left to lose" or is freedom tagged with a price?

Is freedom really free?

Talk to Me.

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Late Night Common Sense



In case you missed it...


Highlights of Dave's 09/21/09 interview with President Barack Obama.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

John Boehner. Enough is Enough.




It's that time of the week.

Time to call out those seeking to divide this country via non-issues that serve only to distract Americans from moving this country forward...together in educated discussion.

Question posed by Meet the Press moderator David Gregory to John Boehner (R- Ohio), seated in response to President Obama's recent interview.

(...)

REP. BOEHNER: ...You add to that this whole question of health care and the government option, the government involvement, and Americans today are getting more news about what’s happening in their government than they have ever gotten before, and Americans are genuinely scared to death. Scared to death...

MR. GREGORY: But, Leader, don’t they get even more scared when you got the head of the Republican Party sending out an e-mail that, you know, to challenge the president and Democratic leaders for a socialist power grab? I mean, is that appropriate conversation? Is this, did you really think the president’s a socialist?

REP. BOEHNER: Listen, when you begin to look at how much they want to grow government, you can call it whatever you want, but the fact is, is that...

MR. GREGORY: Well, what do you call it, though? This is important.

REP. BOEHNER: This is unsustainable. We’re, we’re broke.

MR. GREGORY: That’s fine. Do you think the president’s a socialist? Because that’s what...

REP. BOEHNER: No.

MR. GREGORY: OK. But the head of the Republican Party is, is calling him that.

REP. BOEHNER: Well, listen, I didn’t call him that and I’m not going to call him that.

House Minority Leader John Boehner. Consider yourself officially called out.

Enough is enough.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thumb of the Nose



Once in awhile, I like to thumb my nose at the major news outlets by sticking out my thumb to hitch a ride past the constant slant of whatever breaking story (or non-story) can be manipulated into ratings.

What do those who don't live and breath politics have to say about the current spin swirling about the current IT topic of the day?


In this case, health care (or health care reform. Pick your poison).

Most would think only those living beneath a rock would fail to notice the 24/7 health care debate rattling cages for the past several months.

I decided to look there. Beneath the rock.

CNN Money.com's list of America's best small towns seemed like a pretty great place to start turning over the lithosphere. Via a highly unscientific process, (covered my eyes and pressed a finger to the computer screen twice), off I went in search of the hyperlocal newspapers covering Papillion, NE and Mukilteo, WA .

Ranked at #3, Papillion, Nebraska sports a population of 22,200 and a 4.5% unemployment rate. What does this "...this friendly community outside Omaha" have to say about the health care revolution?

Not much. A quick browse of the published twice weekly Papillion Times revealed a cornucopia of local news. The Zoo Academy is where students can learn in unique, wild ways while the Papillion-La Vista South dance team was reportedly busy raising money for teenagers in need. A check of the opinion page turned up the Timeless Topic that anyone who has ever owned a home holds some sort of opinion....school taxes. But not a word on health care reform. (My eyes did seize upon what looked like "Obama" but in actuality, it was "Omaha". Close, but no cigar).

Westward to Mukilteo, Washington.

Ranked #10, this small town located outside Seattle is populated by 20,500 people. The unemployment rate is 7.5%. Although CNN Money.com reports "...the West Coast is an economic mess", apparently this community has dodged that bullet.

The Mukilteo Beacon bulldogs this town.

The best of times, the worst of times looked promising, but the op ed was all about an unpaved road, not a health care road traveled right or left. The city stood poised to draft a downtown business plan and a local resident turned 100 years young. But try as I might to spot an Obama (or an Omaha for that matter), a drive-by sighting couldn't be done; however I'd highly recommend Goodbye to all that, Chuck Sigars' sign-off to blogging after six years as a Salon.com regular.

Not a bleed off the lead of the area's major papers. Not a poll, not a political blog, not a Letter to the Editor, not a semblance of divisive commentary. Just real stories about real people living real lives

It's sedimentary, dear readers.

Truer perspective is often just a couple of stone skips away.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Blogging Obama on Meet the Press



There's a reason cursive handwriting is losing large to keyboarding.

Below I offer my furiously keyboarded paraphrased (unless otherwise cited) sniglets regarding the President's interview one-on-one with David Gregory on Meet the Press. (Sunday, 9/20/09)

A complete transcript of the Meet the Press interview (including the Right response) is available here.

Barack Obama on Meet the Press.


MTP: Critical moment in health care debate..what will you accept in health care form?

Focus on a plan that is good for American families who last year saw a 5 1/2 per cent increase in premiums just last year. More and more can't get insured due to pre-existing condition.

Insurance exchange, insurance reforms, cap out of pocket expenses, deficit neutral, drive down health care inflation are core principals critical to the President. The key now is to narrow the differences. Obama won't sign the bill if not good for the American people.

MTP: What are the hard choices POTUS is asking the people to make?

Public option should be a part of this but shouldn't think it is the silver bullet. Individual mandate--if health care is affordable, people will buy it. Health care experts on the Right and on the Left indicate people will be out there who would rather take their chances uninsured...you and I will pick up the costs for those who use emergency room...these people will need to purchase health care as automobile insurance is required. Not widely popular. Must take into concern medical malpractice...not widely popular in my party.

MTP: What are you saying to the Left to get on with this?

I laid out some pretty clear parameters. The American people cannot continue on this same path. Both sides have to give some. Must get past the ideological arguments.

***

"The bottom line is that the American people can't afford to stay on the current path. We know that. And that both sides are gonna have to give some. Everybody's gonna have to give some in order to get something done. We wouldn't have gotten this far if, you know, we hadn't been pretty insistent, including to folks in my own party, that we've gotta get past some of these ideological arguments to actually make something happen."

--President Obama
9/20/09


MTP: Is government out of control...your election was supposed to mark moving past, is most of this (opposition) operation is motivated by racism...

No. During the campaign, are there some people still think through the prism of race when it comes to evaluating me and my Presidency. Absolutely. True then, and likely true now. It's an argument that's gone on with the history of government, how do we balance government with the need to care of the people....what I think is going on , is we have a healthy debate, the vast majority are debating in sensible ways...we all have an obligation to conduct this conversation in a civil way. Each of us are Americans....if you don't like my proposals, this is well within the mainstream of what Americans have been talking about for years.


***

"But I think you actually put your finger on what this argument's really about. And it's an argument that's gone on for the history of this republic. And that is what's the right role of government? How do we balance freedom with our need to look after one another?"

--President Obama
9/20/09


MTP: There are others in the Congressional Black Caucus...are you saying this is counterproductive?

The media loves to have a conversation about race....it is a running trend in American history and provokes emotion. This debate is not about race but about how government should operate. The nature of efforts has been mischaracterized and the entire debate should not be consumed about other things.

***

"What I'm saying is this debate that's taking place is not about race, it's about people being worried about how our government should operate."

--President Obama
9/20/09


MTP: Pelosi concern about rhetoric and violence?

Obama indicates his obligation in DC to send a message that we can disagree without question or motives. When opposite side is caricatured, the 24/7 news covers what gets people on the news for 15 minutes of fame by covering what is rude....the POTUS tried to maintain an approach that we can have serious disagreements....if you look at the news cycle for the last week, it hasn't been about the sensible people who deliberately talk about the issues.

***

"...unfortunately, we've got, as I've said before, a 24-hour news cycle where what gets you on the news is controversy. What gets you on the news is the extreme statement. The easiest way to get 15 minutes on the news, or your 15 minutes of fame, is to be rude."

--President Obama
9/20/09

MTP: Afghanistan...are we committed to this war for an indefinite period of time? Deadline?

No deadline in mind, but not a believer in indefinite period of time. Top to bottom review of what is going on there. We are going to fit our goal, go after people who killed 3000 people on 9/11....want to stay focused on that. We had an election in Afghanistan...concerns about election...now that we finally have 21,000 troops in place, I have to exercise skepticism that before I send a single young man/woman into harms way, I have to ask hard questions...how does this advance America's national security issue, how does it keep Al Qaeda from attacking America...if supporting the Afghan national government advances that strategy, then we move forward...

***

“I'm not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face or, in some way you know, sending a message that America is here for for the duration. I think it's important that we match strategy to resources."

--President Obama
9/20/09

***

MTP: White Sox..who is your pick to win the World Series?

Until the White Sox are eliminated, I'll make no predictions. Cardinals, the Yankees looking good.

Although his baseball observation apparently pained the President to offer, I'd say--as far as the interview--Mr. Obama hit it over the center field wall.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Weekend Zen



If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make the change

You gotta get it right, while you got the time

Cause when you close your heart

You can't close your . . .your mind!


Man in the Mirror.

Michael Jackson. 1987.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Eleven Feathers



No one says silly season better than Saturday Night Live.

Weekend Update is back, wagging all eleven feathers at the extreme absurdities focused upon by the media over the previous week.

And all in the living color of prime time.

The Jimmy Carter-Michael Steele exchange proved classic.

See for yourself here.

Happy Friday.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Political Squawk: A Gang of One



Although he tried a bit of health care PR via a WSJ op ed (here), ultimately, the cheese stood alone.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) presented his health care bill yesterday all by his lonesome and per usual, not one Republican supported the proposed legislation. For that matter, many Dems supportive a public option weren't too happy either.

Yet one oft-cited heavy hitter stood in support of the Senator. The Congressional Budget Office.

Per the San Francisco Chronicle (9/17/09):

(...)

The bill does not add to the deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office, which said the plan would reduce deficits by $16 billion over the next 10 years and could accelerate cost savings the decade after that.


(Read the CBO report here).

Is the Baucus bill a building block toward real reform or just another block of rank and file cheese?


Talk to Me.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Boorish Three



This has been one week of incivility.

Between tennis great Serena Williams, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and entertainer Kanye West, bad manners has grabbed the media spotlight front and center.

It's not as if we haven't witnessed such bad form before, but likely not three times in one week, all under the glare of the 24/7 press. (Who would be easy to blame, considering the bad sheep relative of all media--the paparazzi--birthed from their ranks).

Going out on a blogging limb, I'd venture to say the Boorish Three are not bad people. Emotional, yes. Disciplined, definitely as no one achieves a standing in each respective field without putting in the work.

So, what's really going on here?

Do we all need a crash course in etiquette or is the summer heat just getting to all of us?

Talk to Me.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lake County Schools. Enough is Enough!



Why didn't our kids hear the President's motivational pep talk?


Lake County parents want to know.

Lake County Schools--the only Florida school system out of 67 counties not to air the recent stay in school-achieve your dreams POTUS conversation with students--is taking the heat for a decision that did not bode well with parents or educators.

School Board members have been bombarded with "...calls and e-mails from people of all races and backgrounds. Teachers of history and government in particular have been vocal about their disappointment..."

As noted by School Board member, Cindy Barrow:
(..)

"We need to be apologetic," said Barrow, who had wanted students to see the speech and even took her son home from school Tuesday to see the live broadcast. "There shouldn't be one board member who should be anything but apologetic."
Let's review.

Barrow took her son home from school in order to watch the President address school children on the value of staying in school.

Lake County Schools. Consider yourselves called out for politicizing school children.

Enough is enough.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Senator LeMieux Goes to Washington




Starting off the work week with a laugh.

Likely facing a very public scolding by Congress , "You lie!" Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) has refused to apologize for his impromptu (or not?) remark a second time.

Meanwhile (taking up space in the Right wing) newly sworn in Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) --aka Charlie Crist's Mini Me--had held the seat warm for his BFF all of one day before voicing this statement about his fellow outspoken GOPPER:

"That was embarrassing and shameful," said LeMieux, who watched the address from the House visitors' gallery. "Everybody in the chamber just gasped. He should be censured."

Just thinking of the next sixteen months with this guy as a Crist placeholder warms my sweet little old Democratic keyboarding heart.

And it gets better.

(...)

He also said he liked the president's idea for an insurance exchange that would have companies compete to sell low-cost insurance to the uninsured. LeMieux said it's similar to an idea Crist put in place in Florida.

Just like Charlie! (Talk about transparency in government. ROTFL.)

Read more about Senator LeMieux Goes to Washington here.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekend Zen



Let's Groove.

Earth, Wind and Fire.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

To Those Left Behind...

...we remember.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Political Squawk: Lies and Details


Thursday evening, it was all about lies. The obvious and the unexpected.

Death panels. Insurance for illegals. Government sanctioned abortion. Stripping Medicare from seniors. All called out by President Obama in his speech before Congress as baldfaced lies.

Pure and simple.
(...)

I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than improve it. I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what's in the plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time. Not now.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)--apparently unable to stand, the thought, the excruciating thought of all the GOP's beautiful August wickedness publicly skewered as blatant manipulative scare tactics-- punctuated the President's remarks with a yelp. "You! Lie!"

(What can I say but move over, Sarah Palin. The spotlight's shifting to the new guy).

But the tantrum didn't stop what came next. Details about health care reform.

Per Reuters:(9/9/09)

HOW WOULD IT BE PAID FOR?

Obama said the plan would not add to the U.S. budget deficit, but did not offer many specifics on how it would be financed.

He said it would be paid for by eliminating hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies. The rest of the cost would be covered by revenues from drug and insurance companies, Obama said, and the plan would charge insurance companies an unspecified fee for their most expensive policies.

It will include a provision requiring more spending cuts if promised savings do not materialize. It would create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more waste in the years ahead.


DOES THE PLAN CREATE A PUBLIC OPTION?

It proposes a not-for-profit government-run healthcare insurance program to be part of new "insurance exchange" and compete with private insurers.

The public option -- which has been strongly resisted by insurance companies -- would be available only to those without insurance. Obama said less than 5 percent of Americans would sign up for it, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates.

The public option would not be taxpayer subsidized, and would have to be self-sufficient and rely on premiums it collects.

The insurance exchange, a marketplace where individuals and small businesses would be able to shop for health insurance, would take effect in four years. Obama said customers would benefit because they would bargain with insurers as a large group. The plan would provide need-based tax credits for those who could not afford insurance from the exchange.


WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR INSURANCE COMPANIES?

The plan would make it illegal for insurance companies to deny healthcare coverage because a customer has a pre-existing condition, or to drop or water down coverage to those who get sick. Insurance companies would also be barred from placing annual or lifetime caps on coverage.

It would also limit how much Americans could be charged for out-of-pocket expenses and require insurance companies to cover, at no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies.

But the plan would also greatly expand insurance companies' customer base by requiring individuals to carry basic health insurance. It would also require that businesses offer workers healthcare, or chip in to cover the cost for their workers. There would be a "hardship waiver" for those who still could not afford coverage, and 95 percent of small businesses would be exempt from the requirements.


WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE THE INSURANCE EXCHANGE STARTS?

Because it would be four years before the exchange starts, the government would offer low-cost coverage to those who cannot get insurance because they have pre-existing conditions, to protect them against financial ruin if they become seriously ill. Obama said that plan was proposed by Senator John McCain, his Republican rival in the 2008 presidential election.


DOES THE PLAN CAP MALPRACTICE SUITS?

Many Republicans have asked that Obama's healthcare plan limit or cap malpractice awards. Obama did not offer any such caps or limits.

He said he was proposing that "we move forward on a range of ideas," on malpractice suits. He said that his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, considered authorizing demonstration projects in individuals states to test ways to limit doctors' fears of lawsuits, and said he was directing his Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on that initiative.


FYI. Rep. Wilson penned a hasty apology post-yelp.

Politico.com has his statement:
"This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the President's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility."
After last night's speech, I'd imagine old Joe knows....

....get aboard this train or get out of the way.

We're getting this thing done.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes



Florida students talk up the Presidential pep talk.

Orlando:

"He was trying to tell us about the importance of education."

--Jaelen Alexander, 9,

"I think it was about the responsibility of staying in school. It was a good speech."

--Tshay Murray, 9

"It's like he respects the students. He cares about us."

--Mariah Robinette, 13

"If I fail or don't try my best, I probably won't achieve what I want to achieve."

--Sarah Jolley, 13

Tallahassee:

“Obama said that we are responsible for our own lives. It’s true, we all have dreams, you just have to put in the work to get them."

--Edward Lloyd, high school junior

“Every student should have heard the president’s speech. It was about education and everyone needs education."

--Ashlee Martin, high school junior

Jacksonville:

"Nothing political at all, just inspirational and educational speech to the students of the nation."

--Jean Coco, high school student

Miami:

“He could’ve been talking about me. She (Jazmin Perez) had to endure a lot of things to be what she wanted to be. I have to endure things to reach my goals.”

Maria Velasquez, high school student

“He was speaking from the heart the entire time, like he was speaking to me. My mom talks about how my grandma raised five kids all by herself."

--Ednert Jean-Fils, high school student

“It’s a motivational tool for us to really step it up, get going with what we need to do. It inspired me to do a lot more than I’m doing now, to push myself to go far.”

Charles Ramos, high school senior

“You can’t drop out and expect to have a good job and be successful. A lot of people don’t understand that. Everybody has to work hard. It was good to let everybody know it’s not going to just come to you.”

--Monique Tucker, high school senior

“I’m blessed, but it made me think I have to keep working hard and not get complacent."

--Jonathan Dowling, high school senior


Ft. Lauderdale:

"I thought [the speech] was inspiring. President Obama is trying to help us. If he's doing his part, then we should do ours, too."

--Gina Russo, 11

"I think they were overreacting before the speech even happened."

--Allison Pierre, 11

"Regardless of what the topic is, it is the president. How else are we supposed to be informed and make educated decisions if we don't know what's going on?"

--Danielle Vasquez. high school senior

And on that note...

...enough of the Obama Drama.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Education, My Future



Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama

Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

***

White House Live
Tuesday, September 8th, at 12:00 PM (EDT)



The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday Morning Pep Talk



Educators come up with all kinds of ideas to get parents involved in their child's school and education.

Spaghetti dinners and pizza nights paired with a literacy or math nights are fairly successful. If you feed them, they will come. Raffles are huge, so hook anything free to an open house or a book fair and get your ticket tearing hand ready. No one can resist a chance to get something for nothing and better yet, if one has to be present to win, plan for a full house.

But apparently, the best idea ever to grab a parent's attention is to announce that a U.S. President will kick off the school year with a back-to-school go get 'em you can do it achieve your dreams motivational talk with their kids.

All those parents you couldn't pay to pick up their cell phones when the school calls home are suddenly Mr. and Mrs. Accessible.

The irony being, if more parents were as involved in the education of their children as witnessed over the last few days, most kids wouldn't need a pep talk.

Period.





“It is good to have the president of the United States say to young people across America, ‘Stay in school, study and do your homework.’ ”

Newt Gingrich, former Republican House Speaker

***

“Of course the president of the United States should be able to address students. “If I were a teacher, I’d take advantage of it.”

--Senator Lamar Alexander, (R-TN)

***
Meet the Press

9/6/2009

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Weekend Zen




When you believe in things that you don't understand
Then you suffer
Superstition ain't the way....

Stevie Wonder and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Superstition (1989)



And one more which seems totally apropo in light of recent events.

Crosby, Stills & Nash. 1977.

Teach Your Children.


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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Schooled



From the same state party who legislated by statute that third graders would be retained upon their failure of the FCAT, Florida RNC chairman Jim Greer flew the socialist flag up the flagpole, in protest over President Obama's address to school children next week and as a result, flew many a parent into a frenzy.

Quite frankly, I don't know what all the fuss is about.

This isn't the first time a sitting President has graced an American classroom.



“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?
George W Bush, U.S. President

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Blogging Posey



Bill Posey ran the screen at his own Brevard County town hall meeting Thursday night in the form of a health care panel.

The congressman allowed his team to just about run out the clock before stepping up to the mike at 7:51 PM. For an event scheduled to end at 8:30 PM, that's a bit of a clothesline to his constituency. Flag on the play.

As if the health panel wasn't enough of a time out, Posey had prepared a power point presentation. Early into the stump speech, the subject of illegal immigrants came up with Posey offering some flea flicker response, bringing roars of appreciation from the obviously friendly crowd. Gives me a chance to counter his non-answer with a real answer.

The House bill (the only bill to be formally introduced in its entirety) specifically says that no federal money would be spent on giving illegal immigrants health coverage:

H.R. 3200: Sec 246 — NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS

Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

At 8:06 PM, Posey looked at his watch, flapped about both hands in a busy manner and asked the crowd to forgive the hurried prepared remarks as he wanted time to answer questions. For a party who trashes a sitting President for use of a teleprompter, a little deviation from the power point with less than thirty minutes to the buzzer, would cause one to think this whole pot calling the kettle black comparison would be avoided.

8:09 PM. Posey wants to cut it short, but got the abortion slide in under the wire. Over the thunderous applause, he underlined his nonsupport of any plan that would subsidize such.

8:12 PM. First Question. Congress health care for all?

8:13 PM. Second Question: Obama and his Czars. Straddled by Posey, fielded by Team Heritage Foundation, who played to the bleachers with a czars are unaccountable and demonstrate great deference to the President answer.

8:16 PM. Third Question: Missed it.

8:16 PM. Fourth Question: Second question on Congress health care for all.

8:17 PM. Fifth Question: Why isn't the President allowing a more bipartisan plan. (Hello???)

8:18 PM. Sixth Question: I would like to see everyone in the government tested for drugs. To be out of control, they have to be on something. Throw the bums out, please. Nancy Turner, great waste of time question.

8:19 PM. Seventh Question: Obama surrounds himself with somebody, couldn't quite hear who, possibly more czars.

8:20. Eighth Question: Why should tax payers pay for your insurance? Posey: Perk of the job.

8:21 PM. Ninth Question: People who go on vacation can certainly pay for health care as noted by someone in the crowd.

8:22 PM. Tenth Question: Some rambling question regarding the post office and health care...Defensive end Heritage Foundation couldn't quite follow rambling question.

8:23 PM. Eleventh Question: Trust issues with insurance companies...feed themselves first, health care second. Crowd doesn't like this downer question. Boos provide Posey with the perfect opportunity to wax patriotic, something about putting one's family into a boat and sailing across the Atlantic.

8:24 PM. Twelfth Question: How can millions be taken out of Medicare to cover illegals? Posey indicates that would take a magician...well, particularly to erase this second misstatement and pandering to the crowd by the congressman.

8:25 AM. Thirteenth Question: Plea for personal assistance. Posey offers a 211.

8:26 PM. Fourteenth Question: Why can't I buy health insurance like car insurance? (Why can't I buy health insurance like car insurance?)

8:27 PM. Fifteenth Question: What is Posey doing to dispel misinformation to seniors, i.e. death panels? What is your plan for health care reform? Posey sidesteps the Senior Scare question and concentrates on himself. Throwing baby out with bathwater talk,writing a blank check, you know, typical Republican code words.

8:28 PM. Sixteenth Question: Two-parter. Why give health care to illegals? (Seems to be a theme). No insurance for abortion. (Theme 2).

Five minute warning.

8:29 PM.. Seventeenth Question: Accountability. (Posey's watch must be five minutes slow.)

8:30 PM. Eighteenth Question: Yet another abortion statement. (Check the blue and white signs at the door, please).

Nineteenth Question: Cap and trade question. Off Topic.

Twentieth Question: Enough time to read bills. Posey's fervent prayer that such will come to pass.

8:31. Twenty-first Question: Trampling of state rights.

8:32. Twenty-second Question: Final question. But not before second-stringer Heritage Foundation jumps offsides with some obscure comment. Rationing...what kind of cost sharing will occur?

8:33. Two hours and 22 questions later, it's over. Posey fawns appreciation over the respectful crowd and reminds all to complete the survey (so we can capture your personal information and hit you up in the future for a campaign contribution).

Last words of endearment. We are all in this together, although we don't necessarily agree.

That statement is the one single truth I've heard spoken by a Republican in well, forever.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Political Squawk: The Michael Steele Quiver



My grandmother loved Kathie Lee Gifford.

Well, at least until she learned of the sweat shop allegations lodged against Regis Philbin's former co-host.

"Won't be watching her anymore," and with a click of the remote, Kathie Lee was banished, forevermore.

Having never learned to drive, with her family spread throughout the southeast, this wonderful grandmother of mine spent a fair amount of time in front of the television. She was the Original Multi-Tasker, her crochet hook looping magic as she periodically peeked up at whatever program happened to be on at the moment. I think the images flickering across the screen kept her company and God knows Pat Robertson frequently visited as evidenced by the many cashed checks her children discovered made out to The 700 Club.

If my grandmother were alive today, she'd be a sitting duck of the political target type.

Based on a July 31, 2009 Gallup poll, which reflected a healthy skepticism held by senior citizens regarding health care reform, RNC Chair Michael Steele pulled an arrow called the Health Care Bill of Rights for Seniors from the GOP quiver and aimed it directly at those 65 and older.

“America’s senior citizens deserve access to quality health care that will not bankrupt them. Republicans believe reforms to America’s health care system are necessary, but reform should first do no harm, especially to our seniors. Unfortunately for America’s seniors, President Obama and Congressional Democrats are looking to fund their government-run health care experiment by cutting over $500 billion from Medicare – this is unacceptable. President Obama should reconsider his plan to pay for his big-government pipe dream on the backs of America’s senior citizens. Simply put, Republicans believe that protecting America’s seniors and veterans should be the first priority of any reform effort.”

Steele neglected to mention that during his 2006 run for the U.S. Senate, he himself supported a cut to Medicare spending.

All flip-flops aside, in memory of my grandmother--and for all those seniors not privy to the fact-check--let the education begin.

"...to the broader point of whether Democrats are proposing cuts to Medicare, FactCheck.org writes:

The bill that’s currently pending in the House would indeed "cut" $500 billion or so from Medicare, but it would also increase expenditures in some areas. The net amount that would be taken from the program would be about $219 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s a 10-year figure, by the way. And any implication that seniors’ Medicare benefits would be cut is false. Rather, the bill calls for holding down payments to hospitals and other providers, other than physicians.

Falsehood denied. And that's just one. Check the facts of those who would otherwise break your grandparents' backs here.

Then go visit Grandma. Turn off the television, sit a spell and tell her the truth about health care reform.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

One Arming Health Care



After searching "...every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse..." U.S. Marshall Sam Gerard finally catches up with The Fugitive, Dr. Richard Kimble.

Kimble: "I did not kill my wife."

Gerard: "I know it, Richard. I know it. But, it's over now."

"You know, I'm glad," Gerard adds. "I need the rest."

That's exactly how I felt about August 2009.

The national health care discussion--strong-armed by the liberal left and bludgeoned by the conservative right--day after day after day after too darn hot day--made me want to virtual swan dive off the Hoover Dam, Kimble-style.

The bloggers over at First Read summed up the contentious month.

(...)

"President Obama has found so far that his communication skills -- just how many press conferences and media avails did he have this summer? -- haven’t really worked on the tricky issue of health-care reform. His poll numbers have declined; House Blue Dog Democrats are hesitant; most Republicans aren’t willing to cut any kind of deal; liberals have made the politically difficult public option the end-all, be-all of reform; and Max Baucus’ Senate Finance Committee still hasn’t produced a bill. In short, it was a brutal summer for the president..."

But as for August, it's over now. This fall, health care reform will be decided.

And you know...I'm glad.

I'd like to get on with the rest of the show.

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