Friday, September 28, 2007

Former LA Mayor Backs Giuliani

Former LA Mayor Backs Giuliani
By ROBERT JABLON – 4 hours ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president Friday, then suggested the one-time New York mayor is too liberal for conservative voters in the California primary.

Riordan, a moderate Republican who was elected to two terms as Los Angeles mayor, spoke as Giuliani campaigned in the city and visited Riordan's famed restaurant, The Pantry.
"Rudy Giuliani is too liberal for the solid, right-wing Republicans in California, that part of the party," Riordan said. "But I do believe, when it comes to the presidency and the national election, these people may put that apart and look at him as the type of leader our country needs."

Riordan said some conservative voters "are going to have litmus tests on everything from gun control to abortion to other things. He's going to be hurt there."
The key for Giuliani, according to Riordan, is to emphasize how his experience as New York mayor would make him a good president.

"He did a fabulous job running New York City and of course in 9-11 he showed that he has the feel of a great leader," Riordan said.

During a campaign stop, Giuliani faced questions as to why he skipped a debate Thursday focused on minority issues. He said that he would like to do away with all planned debates and focus on fundraising because the Democrats are doing better.

"I get invitations to a dozen debates" and cannot make all of them, Giuliani said.
The top four Republican presidential candidates — Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mitt Romney — cited scheduling conflicts in declining to attend the debate.
Other GOP candidates criticized the decision, with Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback calling it "a disgrace to our country."

Giuliani said he attended events that had been planned weeks and months in advance. He also said he would rather not take part in any debates to focus on raising funds to fight the Democratic presidential contender next year.

"Their fundraising has been phenomenal. And ours has been good, compared on prior models, but we still haven't stepped up to the kind of fundraising they're doing," Giuliani said.
Combined, Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have raised more than $100 million. Giuliani has raised more than $33 million, with the third-quarter fundraising deadline ending Sunday.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Current Opinion Of Fred Thompson

U.S.A 9/27/2007 2:37 AM GMT (FINDITT - Top Story)

With the late start of his run as president, Fred Thompson has certainly raised a few eyebrows and created some late night banter for television hosts. Though this has ruffled feathers amongst other presidency candidates it is not that big of a concern to the American people. With a fresh face to political polls and a well-known presence as an actor on the hit television show “Law and Order”, Fred Thompson is already been in the public eye.

With a current rating of 20% in a USA Today/ Gallup Poll on and other public opinion statistics Fred Thompson is either liked by the American people or voters are still unsure. A recent chart found on shows that 32% of people find Thompson to be favorable. He is seen, as Unfavorable by 21% and 47% are unsure. The former Tennessee senator understands the disconnection between the people of this country and Washington.

With a well known presence as an actor and solid connections as a former senator Fred Thompson may be what the voters of today are looking for. With voters having lost confidence in the administration and the desperation for change, Fred Thompson may be the change that the American people need. If he continues to be unique in his approach and true to himself and the American people, great things may be in store for this long awaited desire for change and truth. Perhaps we will find a president who means what he says and doesn’t just speak of change but follows through.

Campaigns prepare for big spending spree

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer
Tue Sep 25, 4:13 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Presidential campaigns are hoarding money for a coming advertising blitz — mostly in Iowa and New Hampshire — during the final three months of the year on airwaves already saturated with candidate commercials.

The candidates are in the midst of a last-minute fundraising push, eager to have significant amounts of cash on hand by Sunday, the end of the third quarter and a milestone for measuring financial strength.

The first two quarters of the year, a gauge of fundraising and organizational ability, saw the leading candidates raise whopping sums and build vast networks of donors. But the next three months will be big-spending ones. How much candidates have in the bank will signal how well positioned they are to compete.

"The bigger the wallet the more spots you'll be able to buy," said Evan Tracey, who tracks political advertising as chief operating officer for TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group.

Popular air time for ads is local newscasts, but it's too early yet for candidates to lock in their advertising slots. Campaigns that are advertising have placed orders only through the beginning of October.

So far, Democrats have been more aggressive at using the airwaves.
Altogether, Barack Obama leads the field with more than $2.7 million in ad spending in Iowa alone, according to data compiled by other presidential campaigns. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has spent nearly $2 million and Hillary Rodham Clinton has spent more than a $1 million. Christopher Dodd, Joe Biden and John Edwards also have aired ads.

Mitt Romney is the only Republican to buy television time. He has spent more than $6 million, with at least $2.7 million in Iowa and $1.7 million in New Hampshire, according to totals compiled by Tracey. Those numbers will increase as a result of new buys of air time in the two states through Oct. 2. Romney also is buying time in Florida and South Carolina and has spent at least $2 million on national advertising.

His advertising has largely been underwritten by his own wealth. The former Massachusetts governor, who has said his assets are worth between $190 million and $250 million, pumped nearly $9 million into his campaign in the first six months of the year and has said he has lent it more this quarter.

Lately, Romney has been branding himself as the scold of the Republican Party, calling in one ad for the GOP to embrace lower spending, higher ethics and tough immigration policies. He sits atop the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, though nationally he trails Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John McCain.

Calculated attack ads by candidates seeking to shake up the field are likely in the next three months.
"The thing about the Republican side of the coin is that virtually every single one of the candidates has a glass jaw," said GOP pollster and strategist Tony Fabrizio. "The question becomes when the punches start flying who is the guy who's going to be able to put back together his glass jaw."

McCain, trying to rebound from a dismal second quarter, is likely to devote his money to New Hampshire, where he won the presidential primary in 2000 and remains popular. But he is up against Romney and Giuliani, both of whom lead him in statewide polls. What's more, his bank ledger needs to be in the black.

McCain's fundraising has not met expectations, and exorbitant spending left the Vietnam veteran's campaign all but broke by July.
"McCain needs to show that he has stabilized his spending and that he can still afford a middle seat on a commercial airline," said Scott Reed, a GOP strategist who managed Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign.

Giuliani and Thompson might advertise in Iowa or New Hampshire to stay close to Romney. But they also are counting on later primaries.
Thompson is banking on South Carolina and Florida. Giuliani is looking to Florida and the Feb. 5 primaries in expensive media states like California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York.
"A lot of that would be spent after Jan. 1, because even if you had $20 million cash on hand, those states eat up a million dollars a week or two million," Fabrizio said.

Democrats, on the other hand, are pouring resources into the early states, a sign that only more will come.
Obama has outspent every other candidate in the field in Iowa, but Clinton sits atop various state polls with Obama and Edwards close behind. Richardson's ad spending has pulled him out of obscurity and into fourth place there.

Clinton has used her recently released health care plan to cast herself as an agent of change and get out from under the cloud of the failed health plan she championed in 1993-1994. In an ad now airing in Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton portrays that debacle as a turning point that "changed our thinking."

Obama has countered with his own health ad and has issued calls for public empowerment that evoke the failed 2003-2004 presidential campaign of Howard Dean.
Edwards, meanwhile, hasn't spent much on advertising in Iowa, though he campaigned there more than any other candidate. He came in second in the caucuses in 2004, behind John Kerry. A well-timed ad blitz could give him a surge.

Obama and Clinton, the top fundraisers in the entire presidential field, can afford to spend plenty in the state. But Iowa is crucial to Edwards and Richardson, and Dodd and Biden would need strong showings there to remain viable.

"The candidates who are making Iowa their first and last stand are all going to want to make their one spot count," Tracey said. "Some of the time that everybody wants is going to be a little bit harder to get."

Link to Story:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: EIA on Covering Teachers Unions: Close But Not a Full Cigar

A Very interesting article and was released by the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media. Titled From Contracts to Classrooms: Covering Teachers Unions, the 40-page study is a primer for education journalists on the ins and outs of reporting about teachers' unions. Well, not exactly, but we'll get to that in a minute.

Largely written by Joe Williams of The Chalkboard, with enlightening contributions from others in the field, the report is filled with excellent tips, quotes, anecdotes and shortcuts – just the right kind of approach to interest a new journalist a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of digging through collective bargaining agreements and contract negotiations. But there are tidbits for the rest of us, too:

Read the full story:

Voucher debate gives taste of both sides

Voucher debate gives taste of both sides
Doug Radunich

BOUNTIFUL — Davis County residents became well informed on both sides of the voucher issue at the Bountiful City Library last Thursday, as Leah Barker and Joel Briscoe battled head-to-head against one another over the school voucher program awaiting voter approval on Nov. 6.The “Debate on Referendum 1” was presented by the United Women’s Forum and featured a two-hour-long debate between Barker, a pro-voucher spokeswoman for Parents for Choice in Education, and Briscoe, a Bountiful High School Teacher siding against vouchers.

United Women’s Forum member Debra Poulsen gave the welcome and introduction, and Lauralee Christensen served as the moderator. By way of a coin toss, Briscoe began the debate by mentioning he wanted to stress three things in his debate, which were the affordability, accountability and advisability of the voucher bill. “For a voucher, people would receive $500-$3,000, but the average price of a private school education is $8,000, so how will some families cover the cost?” Briscoe said. “There are very little accountability measures in HB 148.”Barker said vouchers would help public schools, put parents in the “driver’s seat” and be able to choose what’s best for their children, and turn parents into customers, meaning they could give their children a good education even if they lived in a low-income neighborhood with poor-performing schools. “I’m convinced that vouchers will serve as a lifeline for an equal playing field, where not just the rich will have access to a good education,” she said. “If you can’t afford a good education and you’re stuck in a low performing school because of your zip code, the voucher bill can be the solution. Utah also has the highest class sizes and the lowest per pupil funding in the nation, but Referendum 1, the voucher bill, will actually increase per-pupil funding.” Barker, who now lives in Sandy, also mentioned how she lived in Rose Park (part of Salt Lake City’s west side) for a long time and saw how many students there, mostly low-income or minority, were not making it to college or graduating from high school. She said vouchers would give kids from that area, as well as others from elsewhere in Salt Lake County, the opportunity to go to a school that could help them more effectively in receiving a good education and getting on their way to college.“There are parents out there who will sell their car, work an extra job or will do whatever it takes to make sure their kids have a good education because they know they’re not going to make it in life without one, so this program is for those parents feeling trapped, desperate and like they’re randomly assigned by zip code to a low-performing school,” she said. “Every child has to have good access to a good education, and with $3,000, vouchers can go a long way and provide so many options. Parents need to be in the driver’s seat, and there are research studies out there to show that this program is great.”Briscoe pointed out that some private schools may not say yes to accepting all students with vouchers, or that some may not even accept vouchers.“Some may discriminate against students based on religion, ability to pay, English proficiency and other things like that,” he said. “The money to pay for vouchers also comes from your taxes, and the high and middle class families are the ones who benefit the most. The stakeholders in all this are the children involved, parents and families, schools, both public and private, and the taxpayers and society in general.”After the debaters had said what they wanted, a number of questions were asked toward them and answered appropriately; to close the debate, both Barker and Briscoe contributed final summations on where they stood and why. “Vouchers are really all about parent choice, and no amount of money that the NEA (National Education Association) brings into Utah will be enough money to convince Utah parents that they’re not smart enough to choose a good education for their kids,” Barker said. “This is what this is all about, and to me it’s pretty critical. The attendance tonight was amazing, with us running out of seats and making people have to stand in the back, and I think that right there was a testament of just how much parents care deeply about education, regardless of which side they stand on.”Briscoe was also pleased with the amount of people who came, and was also thankful for the United Women’s Forum for putting on the debate.“We don’t do enough of these kinds of things as citizens, and I think it’s a more constructive way to get a point across than using radio or TV ads,” he said. “The face to face contact is much better, and I’d say these public meetings are also better than using the Internet to find information. I’d be happy to talk about this more in future meetings because it’s something I believe so strongly in.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Supreme Court to Hear Voter ID Case: Supporters Say Law Combats Fraud; Others Charge It Unfairly Impacts Poor,Minorities

Supporters Say Law Combats Fraud; Others Charge It Unfairly Impacts Poor, Minorities

Sept. 25, 2007

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a case that will raise the question of whether requiring a voter to have a government-issued photo ID will unfairly impact poor and minority voters.

A federal appeals court upheld a 2005 Indiana law that would require all voters to show ID before being able to vote. Judge Richard Posner said it would be impossible for a person to exist in society today without an ID, saying, "Try flying or entering a tall building."

The National Committee on Election Reform said that 6 to 10 percent of eligible voters don't have valid IDs -- perhaps as many as 20 million Americans. Most of them are poor, getting by with no identification at all. They don't drive, they don't have bank accounts and they don't fly.
Only a few states have voter identification laws but the Indiana Democratic Party -- one of the petitioners -- said that Indiana's requirements are the most restrictive.

To get an ID in the state, you must have a validated birth certificate and two other forms of identification. An Indiana state employee has testified that as many as 60 percent of applicants for IDs are turned away because of improper documentation.

Those arguing for the voter identification law say that they are concerned about inflated voter registration lists and nationwide reports of in-person voter fraud.

They cite a 2000 Indianapolis Star report that found 300 dead people on the registered voter list, though there is no evidence of anyone having been prosecuted for impersonating a registered voter.

An article in the Michigan Law Review said that the number of voters that would fail to show up with IDs would be several times higher than the number of fraudulent voters.

Ken Falk of the American Civil Liberties Union, who will argue the case before the court, asked, "Why are we imposing these restrictions on a minority group, when there is no evidence of voter fraud?" The ACLU's petition can be viewed by clicking here.

Full Article:

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: Sutherland Institute Press Release

Contact: Katie Christensen, Sutherland Institute
(801) 355-1272

Data Shows Utah’s Private Schools are as Diverse as Public Schools

Current Voucher Programs Helping Struggling Minority Students Most

Salt Lake City, UT – September 25, 2007 – Independent research conducted by the non-profit Sutherland Institute shows that Utah’s private schools are as broadly diverse as its public schools. Considering the students that vouchers are primarily intended to serve – low-income and minority students – the Institute anticipates that private schools are likely to become even more diverse if HB148 becomes law.

“Our survey results, collected from more than 60 private schools around the state, found no significant difference in racial diversity between private and public schools,” said Derek Monson, Sutherland Institute policy analyst.

Actual minority enrollment as a percentage of total student body for the 2006-2007 school year was 24.5 percent for voucher-eligible private schools and 24.8 percent for public schools. The federal data from 2003 shows Utah’s private schools have a slightly higher proportion of minority students compared to the public school system.

“A common misperception we hear is that vouchers will lead to segregation,” said Monson. “The data shows this is not true. Wherever voucher policy has been implemented in the U.S., low-income, struggling minority students – not affluent white students – are the ones leaving public schools and switching over to the private alternative. This trend suggests that private schools will only become more diverse with the implementation of HB 148.”

Carmen Torres, a single mother of three from West Valley, noticed how quickly her children were assimilated into their private school in Park City. “My oldest daughter was very nervous about attending a private school because she is shy and was worried if she would fit in as a Hispanic. But her worries were erased after just one day at the school. In fact, all three of my children feel much more comfortable at private schools, because they feel accepted for who they are and have many friends.”

The Missing Voucher Column - Choice: A Fundamental Freedom

Recent Post from
Utah Rattler
September 25, 2007
The Missing Voucher Column
Filed under: Education — utahrattler @ 11:38 am
For some unknown reason, the column (”A Minute For Parents”, September 11, 2007) is not available on the Clipper website (all of Ms. Hamilton’s other columns are, however). So here’s her column:

Choice is a fundamental freedom. In November you get to vote for or against the voucher system. I guess you have to decide if you want to be in charge of your children or if you want the Board of Education and the Utah Education Association in charge of your children’s school environment and education. Frankly, I have more confidence in you – not because public schools are not doing an excellent job in most instances, but because children don’t all fit into the same category.

I had a single mother friend whose oldest boy entered junior high in Davis County and started running with friends she did not approve of. She wisely pulled him out of the public school and put him into a private school. He stayed there two years and then when she put him back into the public school, he did just fine. I can’t imagine how she did it financially.

This parent saw a need and somehow scrounged up the money to solve it. In my opinion we need to vote for vouchers and allow parents to choose the most appropriate educational setting for each of their children. In the vast majority of cases parents will choose a public school. However, we all know children who march to a different drummer and need something that the public schools can’t provide, whether it be more discipline, a more challenging environment for high achievers, a new approach for low achievers or a way to get children away from the “wrong crowd,” whether that be drugs, gangs or for moral reasons.

I personally know educators in high places who are very much for the voucher program. A Utah State University study estimated that this arrangement would potentially save the state more than $1 billion over 13 years. That money could be used to increase public school spending and help fund the education of the 150,000+ new students projected to enter Utah’s schools in the next decade. Parents need to understand that even though a child attends a private school under the voucher system, about $2,500 will go to the public school allowing more funds for the school to use on the students who are there.

It is parents who have the primary right and responsibility to educate their children. It is constitutional. See Utah Constitution Article X, Section 2 where it says, “The public education system shall include all public elementary and secondary schools and such other schools and programs as the Legislature may designate.”

The number of children attending Utah charter schools has doubled nearly every year since 2002, and school enrollment will have grown from 537 students in 2001 to an estimated 20,000 in 2007, with thousands more on waiting lists. This shows parental desire for something different than the public schools can offer.

There is accountability in the voucher program. It is scaled as to household income and household size. Participating private schools must use testing, have teachers with specified education, disclose accreditation status and be audited. Money is given directly to the school and there are other regulations. It disturbs me when I read that this is not true.
Again, the school system offers a great education for a lot of students, and I believe they will continue to do so, but I believe concerned parents need other alternatives. In other states, the whole system improves when competition is a factor.

For more information see
Kim Burningham, the state BOE chair recently responded to the column (you’ll note that his long response is available on the website) . For the most part, Burningham runs the same, tired arguments illustrated in “Nanny State Knows Best?“.

Burningham starts by saying that vouchers won’t help choice as no one will afford the private schools anyway. I bet the single mother illustrated above begs to differ as do many of us who’ve actually bothered to call private schools to inquire about their tuition rates. Burningham also makes a poor assumption that private and public educational facilities will remain static ignoring the law of supply and demand by also stating that there aren’t very many private schools. With demand, the supply will go up and tuition rates will decrease as supply increases. I find it very likely, that the supply will be naturally biased to those in low to middle incomes as they hold the greatest amount of funding opportunity for a private school and are the emerging market - the high income market has already been met (no new growth opportunity there).
Burningham also tries to hit the “accountability” argument by focusing on government programs/methods, again, indicating that he puts more weight on a bureaucrat/big company/third party analysis over the judgment of the child’s parent (see: “Voucher Accountability: The Best Auditor” and “Parents Know Their Children Best“).

On the lighter side, I found a couple of funny comments in his letter. First, is the argument that private schools will only take good, able bodied students and leave the physically challenged etc in the public schools. Maybe he should check out the Carson-Smith Scholarship which the “education union” opposed. Check out the “student eligibility requirements”, the voucher amount, and list of private schools. Note: Carson-Smith is taxpayer (NOT private) money. Carson-Smith was passed in early 2005. This also goes back to the supply and demand stuff I mentioned above. Second, I chuckled at his ‘limited enrollment slots” and “preferred children” (siblings) line. Charter Schools have limited enrollment slots and enrolled siblings make it much more likely that their siblings will be accepted. Schools also have limited slots for transferring students (but usually aren’t exceeded, I believe).

Ok. I’ll quit there, this is long enough. Again, the bottom line is parents will make the best decision for their child’s education and are the superior auditor.

Intolerance in the Name of Tolerance

September 25, 2007
Intolerance in the Name of Tolerance
By Cal Thomas

I would not be as bothered by Columbia University's decision to host Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if Columbia and other universities had a consistent policy toward those they invite to speak and the rules applied equally to conservatives and liberals; to totalitarian dictators and to advocates for freedom and tolerance.

Any conservative who has ever tried, or actually succeeded, in speaking on the campus of predominately liberal academic institutions knows it can resemble to some extent the struggle experienced by African Americans when they attempted to desegregate lunch counters in the South during the civil rights movement.

In the 1980s, I spoke at universities from Smith College in the East to the University of California at Davis in the West. At Smith, lesbians sat in the front row kissing each other while the rest of the crowd shouted so loud no one could hear me (NPR's Nina Totenberg witnessed the riotous behavior, prompting me to remark, "I hope you're getting this on tape, Nina, because this is what liberals mean by tolerance.").

Former U.S. News and World Report columnist John Leo has been among the chroniclers of the demise of free speech on many college campuses. Writing in last winter's issue of the publication City Journal, Leo noted that Columbia University officials prevented a large crowd from hearing Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist who is now an anti-jihadist. The reason given was security, which as Leo pointed out is a frequent excuse for restricting speech. Had Shoebat remained a PLO terrorist, Columbia might have allowed the students in, because anti-Jewish rhetoric of the kind Ahmadinejad delivers always seems welcome on too many campuses. Only Columbia students and 20 guests were allowed to hear Shoebat speak.

Why would Columbia expect Ahmadinejad to answer what they promised in advance would be "tough" questions? Have they not seen him interviewed by America's best reporters? He doesn't answer questions. He uses the interviews to lecture America and make his propaganda points. The exercise is useless, except to him because he scores points at home for standing up to "the Great Satan," or whatever the preferred term du jour for the United States is at the moment.
Last October at Columbia, a mob of students stormed a stage, curtailing speeches by two members of the anti-illegal immigration group known as the Minutemen. The students shouted "They have no right to speak," which was revealing, given the "academic freedom" argument that is used to defend liberal professors and their frequent anti-American rants when conservatives attempt to shut them up.

As John Leo wrote, "Campus opponents of (Rep.) Tom Tancredo, an illegal immigration foe, set off fire alarms at Georgetown to disrupt his planned speech, and their counterparts at Michigan State roughed up his student backers. Conservative activist David Horowitz, black conservative Star Parker, and Daniel Pipes, an outspoken critic of Islamism, frequently find themselves shouted down or disrupted on campus." The number of instances involving censorship of conservatives on college campuses and denial of honorary degrees to people who don't toe the liberal line could fill a book.

There is something else about Columbia's decision to admit Ahmadinejad and that is the notion that by exposing a tyrant and religious fanatic to a liberal arts campus -- a man who believes he has been "called" to usher in Armageddon -- might make him less genocidal and students and the rest of us more understanding. We understand he and his legion of murdering thugs wish to kill us and are contributing to the death of Americans in Iraq. What part of mass murder do they not understand at Columbia, or don't they have time to study history these days?
Ahmadinejad is probably using his visit to case our country, like a bank robber does before a big heist.

Before we allow more of our enemies into America and give them a freedom unknown in their own countries, we should at least demand reciprocity. Their president gets to speak in America? Our president gets to speak in Iran.

Their president has access to our media? Our president should have access to their media. And while we're at it, how about for every liberal who gets to speak on campus, the school must also invite a conservative.
(c) Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Another Nail in the Coffin

Another Nail in the Coffin
Posted Sep 24th 2007 6:36AM by NixGuy
Filed under: President 2008, Money Trail, John McCain

With apologies to "Star Trek," let me just say this about John McCain's presidential aspirations: "It's dead, Jim".Over the weekend, David Freddoso at NRO traveled to the Michigan GOP confab at Mackinac Island where just hours earlier John McCain lost his Michigan chairman. Yes they were both there:

If he intended to embarrass Sen. John McCain, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox could not really have done it more effectively than he has. His announcement Monday that he was stepping down as McCain's state chairman came just in time for this weekend's Republican retreat here, which every major GOP presidential candidate was scheduled to attend.That's a pretty big hit. Some of us recall that in 2000 John McCain won a surprising and huge victory in the Michigan primary If he has any hope at all (and he doesn't) he needs to do the same thing in 2008. That's not going to happen when your main man in Michigan decides to jump ship. But then again, McCain was able to convince a lot of Democrats and independents to come over and vote GOP (and for him) instead of the boring and decided Democratic nomination. This year, Hillary Clinton is not quite anointed yet, and Democrats will probably choose to vote on the Democratic side.See more at the Detroit News.

McCain still has some potent Republican fundraisers on his Michigan team, but many of them acknowledge that it's tough to excite donors to write checks.
He has lost his campaign plane and has to travel commercial, making him less mobile -- and less able to cram in fundraisers.

He has to fly commercial?! It's definitely over.

Oh-eight (D): The Hillary filibuster

Oh-eight (D): The Hillary filibuster
Posted: Monday, September 24, 2007 9:07 AM by Domenico MontanaroCategories: ,
CLINTON: The New York senator hit all the Sunday morning shows yesterday, including NBC’s Meet the Press. The Washington Post says that she “demonstrated a particularly senatorial skill: the art of the filibuster… Above all, though, in a morning of appearances that yielded virtually no news, Clinton illustrated her ability to talk. And talk. And talk.”
The New York Daily News called it “TV’s Tour de Hillary.” On Meet the Press, Clinton touted her ability to withstand Republicans’ “withering attacks.” “I think I've proven that I not only can survive them but surpass them," she said.
The Sunday New York Times had a CW-setting piece about Clinton's place in the campaign. "She has been challenged for fund-raising supremacy and news media attention by Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. Former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina beat her to the punch in introducing big policy proposals. But nothing that her main rivals have done has so far has derailed Mrs. Clinton, leading them to begin rolling out aggressive new strategies aimed primarily at her, including courting black voters in South Carolina and stepping up attacks."

Full Story

Monday, September 24, 2007

"It's All About the Union Stupid"

As was so aptly spoken in the Clinton/Bush battle for the White House, the focus of the voucher war has nothing to do with our kids education.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

We All knew Holly Mullen was just a Teachers Union Hack, but to erase any doubts

From: Holly Mullen []
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2007 10:41 AM
To: thenry@effwa.orgCc:
Subject: Op-ed: National Teachers' Union Fighting School Choice In Utah

Ms. Ockey:If you’re heart is aching so much for Utah’s school children should vouchers fail, why don’t you move back here where you “return every year” and work to improve our schools?

I find it greatly ironic that you are chastising the NEA and teachers unions as “outsiders.” In what category would you put yourself?Thanks but no thanks. I’m a newspaper editor, with children in Utah’s public schools. I will gladly vote against vouchers come November. I believe in democracy and I believe in putting ALL my tax dollars into public schools.

Holly Mullen
EditorSalt Lake City Weekly

Here was the Op-Ed

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Top Hillary Clinton backer rips Rudy Giuliani's personal life

Top Hillary Clinton backer rips Rudy Giuliani's personal life
Thursday, September 20th 2007, 4:00 AM

Hillary Clinton has avoided taking potshots at Rudy Giuliani's personal life - but one of her top boosters last night showed no such restraint.
Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack went off on Rudy Giuliani's family foibles in a televised interview, saying Giuliani has "lots of issues" voters may not know about - yet.
"I can't even get into the number of marriages, [and] the relationship he has with his children," Vilsack said on New York 1, describing the ex-mayor's past as "interesting."
Vilsack, who joined Team Clinton after abandoning his own presidential aspirations, was to appear at a Manhattan fund-raiser for Clinton last night.
The Giuliani campaign had no immediate comment.

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: Reductio ad NCLBsurdum

Reductio ad NCLBsurdum
Today's award goes to Roger Biles, chairman of Illinois State University's history department. Presented with the news that college students, including the ones at ISU, were deficient in their knowledge of U.S. history, Biles had this response:"He believes part of the problem is the No Child Left Behind Act put too much emphasis on students in elementary and high school doing well on multiple-choice standardized tests."How do we know that college students are deficient in their knowledge of U.S. history? You guessed it. They were given a 60-question multiple-choice standardized test.I encourage you to take the test yourself. It's not an easy one. I'm happy to report I scored a 54 out of 60 (90%).
Posted by Mike Antonucci on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at 09:34

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Holly Cow, You Must See These Video's

You gatta see these Video's


Giuliani Says He's MoveOn's 'Worst Nightmare'

Giuliani Says He's MoveOn's 'Worst Nightmare'
The spat between Rudy Giuliani and MoveOn.Org has not, well, moved on yet.
In a new radio ad, which is now running in Iowa, the former New York mayor calls MoveOn the "most powerful left wing group in the country" and designates himself their "worst nightmare."
"They know Rudy is a Republican who can beat the Democrats," an announcer in the ad says. "And they know, no matter what they say- Rudy will never, ever back down."
In response, the MoveOn group announced today it has double the amount of money it is spending on an anti-Giuliani television ad in Iowa, from $50,000 to $100,000, and will also run the ad nationally on CNN. The ad hits Giuliani for quitting a congressional panel on Iraq strategy.
"It's no surprise that Giuliani can't respond to our charge that he went AWOL on Iraq," the group's executive director, Eli Pariser said. "Maybe he thinks voters care more about what he says about MoveOn than what he's failed to do to end the war."
Even as Giuliani continued the battle with MoveOn, rival presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched a new radio spot in Iowa which attempts to reinforce Romney's opposition to gay marriage.
"Governor Mitt Romney - he stood up for traditional marriage and fought the activist ruling every step," an announcer says. Later, he continues: "Now, Mitt Romney is standing up for traditional marriage in Iowa, opposing the Polk County decision to permit same-sex marriage."
--Michael D. Shear

Gallup: Giuliani dips, McCain edges up, Romney slips; Clinton's lead is steady

Gallup: Giuliani dips, McCain edges up, Romney slips; Clinton's lead is steady
Lots of poll data to chew on this morning from our friends at Gallup.
First, Frank Newport and Joseph Carroll write at The Gallup Poll that:
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani continues to lead the national race for the Republican presidential nomination, although his support has faded to one of its lowest readings of the year. Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, who recently announced his candidacy, holds steady in second place, 8 percentage points behind the frontrunner. Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain has continued to recover from his early August doldrums and is in third place, only 4 points behind Thompson and more than 10 points ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Romney's mini-bounce after the Iowa straw poll in early August appears to have been short-lived.
According to Gallup's Sept. 14-16 poll of "401 Republicans or Republican leaners:"
• Giuliani's support dipped from 34% in the first week of September to 30%.• Thompson's support was unchanged, at 22%. • McCain's rose from 15% to 18%.• Romney's slipped from 10% to 7%.
"In general," Frank and Joe write, "support for McCain has shown gradual improvement over the past month, and Americans' opinions of McCain are at their highest point since May. McCain is now rated as favorably by Americans as Giuliani, and more so than the less-well known Thompson or Romney."
Gallup says those GOP numbers each have margins of error of +/- 5 percentage points.
Meanwhile, Frank writes at our Gallup Guru blog that Clinton continues to lead "overwhelmingly -- with Sen. Barack Obama in 2nd place" among Democrats and Democratic leaners.
Gallup's latest Democratic numbers:
• Clinton, 47%, vs. 45% the first week of September.• Obama, 25%, vs. 24%.• John Edwards, 11%, down from 16%.
Frank concludes, by the way, that "one would have to assign a fairly low probability at this point to the chances of any one other than Clinton ending up with the party nomination."
The Democratic figures also have margins of error of +/- 5 percentage points.

Hot Tip on Voucher Spending

Mike Antonucci tipped me off that the Utah state government web page with the list of campaign financial disclosure reports had been updated.

You can thumb through them yourself, but Communities for Quality Education does have one, and the NEA front group spent $133,400 - mostly on consultants and staff.

Two of the three $500,000 grants from NEA to the Utah Education Association were immediately passed along to Utahns for Public Schools, which then immediately sent the cash to Media Strategies and Research - a Democratic media-buying firm based in Denver, Colorado, that is an NEA favorite for this task.

MS&R undoubtedly is using the money to buy up air time in the Utah media.

The next set of financial disclosure reports aren't due until seven days before the election so we won't see updated numbers until October 30.

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: Fred Thompson says no to NCLB

Here is the Link

Monday, September 17, 2007

To be honest, Britney's a national treasure

"To be honest, Britney's a national treasure. Believe it or not, for my generation, it's just as big of a topic as 9/11." – Chris Crocker, 19, star of the viral video "Leave Britney Alone" on YouTube (language warning). (September 13

'A lot of districts are kind of stuck in the old mindset' that parents are responsible for their children's breakfast

"'A lot of districts are kind of stuck in the old mindset' that parents are responsible for their children's breakfast, Chandran said, 'And that doesn't yield good participation.'" – from a San Diego Union-Tribune story about under-use of the school breakfast program, quoting and paraphrasing Sivakumar Chandran of California Food Policy Advocates. (September 15 San Diego Union-Tribune)

In higher education, finance professors make more than economists, and economists earn more than history professors

"In higher education, finance professors make more than economists, and economists earn more than history professors. It's a simply matter of supply and demand in the labor market. Some skills command higher returns outside of teaching than others. That doesn't demean history professors. History professor know they are likely to earn less money than finance professors (with exceptions like Stephen Ambrose) when they enter graduate school. There's a saying we have in economics – 'you can't repeal the law of supply and demand.' What that means is that if you don't let price clear the market then something else will. In the case of science and math, since we don't allow relative pay for these teachers rise, the market clears in the quality dimension. We have many educators 'teaching out of field' in those areas as compared to fields in which supply is more plentiful." – Michael Podgursky, professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. (September 17

Do I like the NEA better than the NRA?

"Do I like the NEA better than the NRA? Sure, but in terms of the way they operate and what they do, they're the same – and you should be equally skeptical of their claims. There are times when the interests of the adults and the interests of the kids are not the same, and it's na├»ve to deny that." – Andrew Rotherham, co-director of Education Sector. (September 14 National Journal)

Mark Towner Spyglass: Today's Political Headlines

'08 Notes: Let Them Eat Steak
Posted: 17 Sep 2007 08:19 AM CDT
Congress returns from a long weekend celebrating Rosh Hashanah, and this time they mean business, as everyone has a busy week scheduled. The Senate takes up consideration of the Defense Department...

Waiting on Dino
Posted: 17 Sep 2007 07:25 AM CDT
Washington Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire has already bagged $2.7 million for her reelection bid and is on pace to break her own record for the most cash ever raised ($6.4 million) for a...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bush picks Mukasey as attorney general

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer 21 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - President Bush has settled on Michael B. Mukasey, a retired federal judge from New York, to replace Alberto Gonzales as attorney general and will announce his selection Monday, a person familiar with the president's decision said Sunday evening.

Mukasey, who has handled terrorist cases in the U.S. legal system for more than a decade, would become the nation's top law enforcement officer if confirmed by the Senate. Mukasey has the support of some key Democrats, and it appeared Bush was trying to avoid a bruising confirmation battle.

The 66-year-old New York native, who is a judicial adviser to GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, would take charge of a Justice Department where morale is low following months of investigations into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys and Gonzales' sworn testimony on the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program.

Full Story:;_ylt=Ajnq4ZUdZVg_sAdIcgGApK8E1vAI

Key lawmakers, Democrats and

Friday, September 14, 2007

You gatta Watch These Video's

Today's One-Size-Fits-All Standardized Test

You gotta take this Quiz

Rudy's Position on School Choice

Video of Rudy’s view on Public Education:
Rudy Guiliani speaking on school choice

Mark Towner Spyglass: Today's Political Headlines

Angered by Antiwar Ad, Giuliani Seeks Equal Space
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 10:57 AM GMT-06:00
New York Times

Facing Reelection, GOP Moderates React With Concern
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 10:47 AM GMT-06:00
Washington Post

Obama Gets Key Black Support
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 10:46 AM GMT-06:00
Washington Times

For Clinton, 2000 Fund-Raising Controversy Lingers
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 10:45 AM GMT-06:00
Wall Street Journal

Mark Towner Spyglass: Today's Political Headlines

Dems Try to Choose Bush's Attorney General
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 12:54 AM GMT-06:00
In the next few days, President George W. Bush will choose a new Attorney General to succeed Alberto Gonzales. Even before he does, Democrats and their allies are announcing that the President...

Does America Want a Clinton Monarchy?
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 12:49 AM GMT-06:00
There's a strange debate dominating the Democratic campaign so far. Hillary Clinton's calling card seems to be the experience that she possesses and that Barack Obama lacks. " 'Change' is just a word...

A 'Realistic Chance' of Success
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 12:48 AM GMT-06:00
As always, the inadvertent slip is the most telling. Discussing the performance of British troops, Gen. David Petraeus told Sen. Joe Biden of the Foreign Relations Committee that he'd be consulting...

Dems Need to Break with the Outer Left
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 12:46 AM GMT-06:00
Democrats need their "Sister Souljah moment" with the outer left, and they need it now. The ad -- "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" -- was simply unacceptable. Not only was it dumb,...

Painting the Suburbs Blue
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 12:36 AM GMT-06:00
As Virginia goes, so goes the Senate -- and the nation? The decision of former Virginia governor Mark Warner to run for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. John Warner is more than just bad news...

The War Against Politics
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 12:35 AM GMT-06:00
WASHINGTON -- Reflecting on Gen. David H. Petraeus' report and surrounding carnival, it's little wonder the natives are restless -- popping off in angry ads, firing personal invectives and, as...

The Perils of Overreach
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 12:35 AM GMT-06:00
Hillary Clinton incontestably spoke the truth about the Iraq war this past February at the annual meeting of the Democratic National Committee when she said, "I understand the frustration and...

Putin's Puzzling PM Pick
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 12:21 AM GMT-06:00
Russia has been nothing if not full of (mostly unpleasant) surprises recently, from the resumption of bomber patrols to planting flags on the Arctic seabed. And while the collapse of Prime Minister...

Stopping the Next War
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 12:21 AM GMT-06:00
President Bush has won the Battle of September. When he turns over the presidency on Jan. 20, 2009, there will likely be as many U.S. troops in Iraq as there were when Congress was...

Circus Maximus
Posted: 14 Sep 2007 12:13 AM GMT-06:00
WASHINGTON -- Any objective observer who watched or read this week's House and Senate testimony of Gen. David Petraeus received an informative assessment of the battlefield situation in Mesopotamia....

Hillary Wants to 'Change Our Country'
Posted: 13 Sep 2007 01:30 PM GMT-06:00
In the spring of 1993, shortly after her husband and political benefactor Bill Clinton took office as the nation's 42nd president, Hillary Clinton delivered the commencement address at the University...

Turning the Page in Iraq
Posted: 13 Sep 2007 12:45 AM GMT-06:00
Clinton, IA September 12, 2007 A few months ago, I met a woman who told me her nephew was leaving for Iraq. As she started to tell me about how much she'd miss him and how worried she was about...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Former West High counselor accused of having sex with girl ordered to stand trial on rape charges

Former West High counselor accused of having sex with girl ordered to stand trial on rape charges

Another reason for School Vouchers?

By Stephen HuntThe Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 09/13/2007 02:54:58 PM MDT

Posted: 2:56 PM- A former West High School guidance counselor was ordered Thursday to stand trial for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student, who still professes love for the man. Marco R. Herrera, 52, is charged in 3rd District Court with 10 sex-related crimes: three counts of first-degree felony rape, two counts of first-degree felony forcible sodomy and five counts of second-degree forcible sexual abuse. Between April and June, Herrera had sexual intercourse with the girl at least three times and other sexual relations several other times, according to charging documents. The crimes would be less severe except that Herrera, as a school counselor, occupied a position of special trust in relation to the girl, according to prosecutors. Defense attorney Edward Brass claimed the evidence was sketchy as to whether Herrera was counseling the girl at the time of the alleged offenses. Prosecutor Bradley Knell countered that the girl met Herrera last November in his capacity as a counselor, and that some of the alleged crimes occurred at school. Judge Tyrone Medley noted that Herrera would "pink-slip" the girl to take her out of school, and that at least one episode of touching occurred at Herrera's school office. Brass unsuccessfully requested a reduction in Herrera's bail from $250,000 to $10,000. Brass claimed Herrera was neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community, if released from the Salt Lake County jail. He noted Herrera has a wife and two children, and this is the first time he has been charged with a crime. Before he was fired over the sex allegations, Herrera was a counselor at West High for 24 years. Brass asked the judge to consider that the girl initiated the sexual relationship and consented to "virtually everything that happened . . . There was no coercion." Brass also pointed to "conflicts" between the girl's testimony and what she told a police detective, including that some of her own allegations were untrue. But Medley said the girl was reluctant to testify because "of her desire not to see the defendant go to prison and the fact that she loves the defendant." The judge added that calling the girl a willing participant "borders on being ridiculous," in part because she was not legally able to consent because of her age. As for Herrera, the judge said he exercised "deceit, stealth, emotional and psychological domination and control" over the girl. For example, the judge said, Herrera had the girl fool her father as to her whereabouts by calling her father from the library. Herrera also had the girl forge her father's signature on school release forms, and he gave the girl a gift and talked about problems in his marriage, the judge said. The judge said Herrera's "totally inappropriate" conduct was evidence that he presents a danger to "young females in this community, be they students or not students." Herrera is to be arraigned Oct. 5 before Judge Deno Himonas.

What the union fears

What the union fearsThere are times in politics when people accidentally say what they really mean. Voucher opponents did that earlier this week in a letter to the editor of the Deseret Morning News.

A UEA member wrote that the UEA "fears the voucher law" because "we (the union) will lose our voice in the education of our (the union's) children."

They are really your children, but the union doesn't seem to think so. They are afraid of giving parents more control over their own children's education.The union has reason to fear. Referendum 1 does give parents more say in how and where their children are educated. Many parents will choose non-union schools.

That means the union control over teachers will be smaller, while the involvement and control of parents will be greater. That's a very good thing.

Educational Freedom by Every Means Available

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Educational Freedom by Every Means Available

September 13, 2007 4:00 AMEducational Freedom by Every Means AvailableA response to “Credit Is Preferred.”By Dick KomerWhile millions of children are denied a quality education daily, we ought not to recklessly dismiss good solutions. Moreover, we should not indulge in this kind of carelessness when the basis of our judgment relies on a poor understanding of the state of constitutional law.

Full Story:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nasty things are going on in America's public Schools

Wednesday, September 12, 2007
"Stupid in America" is a nasty title for a program about public education, but some nasty things are going on in America's public schools
By JOHN STOSSELJan. 13, 2006"Stupid in America" is a nasty title for a program about public education, but some nasty things are going on in America's public schools and it's about time we face up to it.Kids at New York's Abraham Lincoln High School told me their teachers are so dull students fall asleep in class. One student said, "You see kids all the time walking in the school smoking weed, you know. It's a normal thing here."We tried to bring "20/20" cameras into New York City schools to see for ourselves and show you what's going on in the schools, but officials wouldn't allow it.Washington, D.C., officials steered us to the best classrooms in their district.We wanted to tape typical classrooms but were turned down in state after state.

Read Full Story:

Best Post I Have Read on the real Voucher Issue

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

We have a failing public school system
We have a failing public school system which continues to suck down more and more money while delivering less in terms of well educated graduates.We continue to fall behind the rest of the world in both the quality of our educational output and the quantity.

Read Full Post:

Monday, September 10, 2007

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: Tim Beagly on School Vouchers

Tim Beagley: Turn! Turn! Turn! the Byrds 1965
Turn! Turn! Turn! the Byrds 1965Brace yourself Utah. The Voucher Media Battles are underway. There likely will be no prisoners taken as both sides appear ready to die on their respective swords over this one. Too bad. In the end this will prove to be one of the biggest duds in recent memory and when the dust finally settles (long about the year 2015) it will be easy to see that nothing was accomplished. Win or lose, vouchers or not, the troubled schools in Utah will not improve.

Read the full story:

Blava speaks on Campaign Finance

Campaign Finance Folly
I'm steamed about campaign finance laws that limit the amount of money people can contribute to political parties or politicians. They are an affront to the constitutional protection of speech. (I fully support mandatory disclosure of donor names and amounts.) People trying to get around the artificial limits on campaign contributions have resulted in a host of undesirable benefits.

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: The Ignored Amendment

The Ignored Amendment
by Ralph R. ReilandSeptember 6, 2007
"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted," states the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Jessica Hodges would almost certainly say that we're no longer paying much attention to the prohibition on excessive fines.
Washington Post writer Jonathan Mummolo describes her case: "The labor pains were coming, so Jessica Hodges got going. The 26-year-old bank teller from Burke (Va.) sped toward Inova Fairfax Hospital, but before she got there, the law got her --- 57 mph in a 35 zone. Reckless driving."
Hodges was found guilty and fined $1,050, plus a judge-imposed $100 fine and court costs.
"It's crazy," said an unrepentant Hodges. "Having a baby's more important. Of course I'm going to speed."
Hodges won't have an easy time paying the bill, as Mummolo describes: "She and her husband, Jeff, a massage therapist, barely go out and are living basically week-to-week to support 17-month-old Madison and infant Alessandra, born July 19. If the appeal is denied, her husband will probably have to work overtime."
If Hodges and her husband end up buying a few six packs because of the three jobs and two babies, 44 percent of the cost of their beer in Virginia will be due to hidden and direct taxes.
The newly increased traffic fines, ranging from $750 to $3,000, were passed earlier this year by Virginia's General Assembly as part of a package to pay for a slew of new transportation projects.
"I'm getting out of here," said Hodges, "before I have to pay for any new roads."
More "excessive" in terms of fines, the penalties for sexual harassment in the workplace under the Civil Rights Act of 1991 include punitive damages of up to $300,000 per incident, i.e., per "unwelcome" joke, flirtation, etc. (Sen. Ted Kennedy wanted the price to be $1 million per incident.)
The $300,000 potential tab per incident can be triggered by an alleged victim's perception of having been subjected to unwanted speech, jokes, gestures, romantic pursuits, looks, attitudes, etc., or by a perception of having been subjected to condescension, defamation or exclusion.
"If traffic laws were modeled on harassment policies," writes Reason magazine columnist Cathy Young, referring to the inherently subjective and changing nature of perceptions regarding what is unwelcome and objectionable, "there would be no stop signs --- you could just be fined for failing to stop when someone thought you should have."
With six jokes and two unwanted glances worth a potential $2.4 million, the legal maneuver to get fines to the "excessive" level is to keep a diary and document each incident, rather than reporting the problem for a quicker and less litigious solution.
Under the rules, businesses and other organizations can be held liable even when they aren't aware that a problem exists.
Equally "excessive," the Federal Communications Commission's maximum fine for indecency just went up tenfold, to $325,000 per incident. The new rules authorize the FCC to fine a broadcaster as much as $3 million per day for multiple instances of alleged indecency.
With the section of the Eighth Amendment prohibiting "cruel and unusual punishments," William James Rummel might well say that we've lost our way.
Rummel was sentenced to life imprisonment in Texas (with eligibility for parole in 12 years, but with no guarantee of parole) for three nonviolent and minor offenses -- the fraudulent use of a credit card to obtain $80 worth of goods and services in 1964, passing a forged check in the amount of $28.36 in 1969, and obtaining $120.75 by false pretenses in 1973.
Citing precedent, i.e., itself, the Supreme Court rejected Rummel's argument that his life sentence was a violation of the constitutional ban on "cruel and unusual punishments" by pointing to a 1912 case, Graham v. West Virginia, in which the Supreme Court rejected an Eighth Amendment claim from a horse thief who had been sentenced to life imprisonment after stealing three horses --- one horse at a time, in 1898, 1901 and 1907.
In 1958, Chief Justice Earl Warren stated that the Eighth Amendment "must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society."
The evolution is slow. It wasn't until 2002 that the Supreme Court ruled, 6-3, that executions of mentally retarded criminals are "cruel and unusual punishment," a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur. E-mail him at
This column was originally published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Reprinted with permission.

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: The Price of Risk

The Price of Risk
by Dan McLaughlinSeptember 6, 2007
Some lessons are hard to learn. Going 100 miles per hour may be exciting, but when you miss the curve, you pay the price in broken bones, bruises and large hospital bills, if you are a lucky one. Speeding is a risky undertaking. The faster you go, the higher the risk. Some people like the exhilaration so much that they are willing to take that risk. They have no choice, however, but to pay the price for their indiscretion if things don’t go as planned.
Gambling is also a risky proposition. While you may win big, there is also a chance you may lose big. If you take the risk, you must understand that it may go either way.
In the financial markets, as in most other things in life, risk is usually related to gain. Generally speaking, solid, low risk investments carry a low rate of return. As the perceived risk of loss on the investment increases, the rate of return also rises. It stands to reason that it will take a higher rate of return to induce someone to risk their assets on an investment that may not pay them back.
One of the more risky sorts of investments is sub-prime mortgages. The reason that they are sub-prime is that the borrowers have poor track records for payment. There is a substantial risk that they may default on the loan. When the value of the property securing the loan shrinks, as is happening all over today, the lender suffers a much greater exposure to loss.
Since those types of investments are quite risky, they carry a significantly higher rate of return. That means that the regular high level of income that you would get from investing in them would be somewhat offset by the losses you would take from default and from the loss of market value of the property. Anyone who agrees to invest in that type of loan also agrees to carry the burden of losses when they occur. It is only fair. They get a higher level of income when times are good, when the economy speeds along at 100 miles per hour. They must also take the lumps when the economy runs off the edge of the road.
Over the last number of years, sub-prime lending has been booming as real estate prices have skyrocketed. Monetary policy had been loosey goosey, with the Fed and other central banks keeping rates low, spurring the real estate and stock markets on to ridiculous levels. Lenders have been willing to take on more risk to get a piece of the lucrative sub-prime pie. They assumed that losses would be minimized by high property values. They have reaped the benefits of high returns while people who opted out of risk puttered along, safe and sound, with low rates of return.
Now the economy is hitting a curve in the road. We are hearing the screeching of tires as our hundred MPH friends start to spin out of control. Sub-prime loans are not looking so good. The real estate market has sunk, leaving less collateral to back up the loans. People are panicking as mega-lenders are hitting the guardrails. On one interesting televised investment program, a near delirious broker was literally screaming at the Fed, saying they have no idea how bad it is. He was demanding that they intervene to correct the problems.
Our frenzied friend was ignoring the fact that all those desperate lenders got themselves into the current situation because they chose high risk, and lots of it. That so many people joined them and created such an unstable market is a blame that can fall squarely on the back of the central banks and the incentives they offered. The problem is that now, those investors want us taxpayers and consumers to bail them out of trouble caused by their own indiscretion.
Unfortunately, the central banks have bowed to the crying, pumping in hundreds of billions of dollars of liquidity into the system to help the economy. This amounts to trying to save a drowning man by pouring water on him. Ultimately someone will have to pay for their irresponsible behavior. Once again, it will be you and me paying to save the skin of wealthy, well connected investment bankers.
The Fed created a problem that can only be solved by market adjustments. Brokers and bankers reap the income, they should also pay the severe price of those adjustments, not consumers and taxpayers.
Dan McLaughlin is a former corporate financial officer and is currently a columnist for The Post Journal. Visit his web site at or contact him at

Alienated Wannabe supports vouchers

With regard to my previous post endorsing vouchers, please understand that just because I resent educational practices which undermine "traditional values" that does not mean I therefore want public schools to do a 180 degree turn and begin teaching Christian doctrine. That is not my position at all. I just want Secular Humanists to stop trying to impose their faith and their social agenda upon society by way of the public school system.

The Price of Loony Litigation

The Price of Loony Litigation
by Ralph R. ReilandSeptember 10, 2007
You can't get your oil checked in Sea Isle anymore. Heading back from the Jersey Shore the Sunday before last for the start of another school year, we stopped at Sea Isle's only service station for gas.
With a seven-hour trip ahead of us, I asked the station's attendant (Jersey banned self-service gas pumping in 1949, so every station has an attendant) to check the oil. The station wasn't busy, and he was just standing around, waiting for the gas pump to automatically click off at sixty dollars or so.
"I can't," he said, referring to the oil check.
"Some lady came in here in a junker and broke down on the way home and sued us for $10,000," he explained. "We put two quarts of oil in her car. Her car was worth $1,500 -- tops. Her lawyer said it was our fault she broke down because we were the last ones to look at her car."
He continued the story as I popped my hood and got out of the car to check my oil. "She won. I don't know how much -- if it was the whole $10,000 or not. But the boss says we're not in the business of checking oil anymore."
So now we have a mandated-by-law "full service" station with no service.
It's like what happened to seesaws. "They are rapidly disappearing, going the way of merry-go-rounds, diving boards and other joys of childhood," explained Philip K. Howard in USA Today. "Even the innocent game of tag has been banned in some New Jersey schools because a pupil might end up getting hurt and a parent might bring a lawsuit."
It's like what happened to discipline in schools -- or hugs. "Talk to teachers," says Howard, founder and chairman of Common Good, a nonpartisan legal-reform coalition. "Keeping discipline is hard when students can threaten that any decision might violate their presumed rights. Forget about putting an arm around an upset second-grader -- someone might claim it was an unwanted sexual advance."
Last winter, we stayed at The Breakers in Palm Beach. Henry Flagler, more than a century ago, picked the hotel's location and its name because guests wanted to stay "by the breakers." They wanted rooms where they could hear the sound of the waves at night and feel the breezes coming off the water.
The windows used to open back then. Now they're bolted shut or open only two or three inches. So you're stuck setting the air conditioner at 70 degrees when the fresh air outside is 70 degrees, stuck listening to the hum of a motor instead of the sound of the ocean. They're afraid they'll be blamed if we jump.
It was the same thing in Washington. We were two blocks from the White House, the view was inspiring, the outside air was cool, and the windows were bolted shut.
First thing, before I unpack, I usually call the front desk with a deal: "I just checked in. I'll come down and sign a waiver if you unbolt our windows. It won't be your fault if I jump."
It never works, not in places where there's a "Do not use in shower" sticker on the hair dryers and the hotel-provided shower caps include a bold-type "Fits one head" warning.
Find two electrocuted nuts squeezed into one shower cap, and who can say that a jury can't be persuaded that a deep-pocketed hotel "should have known" about the dangers?
And so we've ended up with baby strollers with "Remove child before folding" warning labels and "Do not drive with sun shield in place" warnings on those cardboard shields that keep the sun off dashboards.
To protect mouths (and protect manufacturers and retailers), cleaning brushes for toilet bowls now say, "Do not use orally," and electric routers for carpenters have stickers that warn, "This product is not intended for use as a dental drill."
For really crazy people, there's now "Do not eat toner" warning labels on cartridges for laser printers and "Not for highway use" stickers on wheelbarrows.
Howard argues that lawsuits are important to prevent abuse but that lawsuits themselves can constitute an abuse. It's about common sense and where to draw the line.
"Lawsuits turn into a weapon for extortion," he says, "if the law doesn't draw the boundaries of who can sue for what."
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur. E-mail him at
This column was originally published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Reprinted with permission.

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: That MoveOn Ad

Monday, September 10, 2007
That MoveOn Ad [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

A McCain release:
ARLINGTON, VA — U.S. Senator John McCain issued the following statement on's ad appearing in The New York Times today:
"In today's New York Times, the anti-war group launched a McCarthyite attack on an American patriot and our commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus. This is a man who has devoted his life in service to our nation and has defended America in many battles over many years. Now he is the target of a despicable attack in one our nation's most visible newspapers. No matter where you stand on the war, we should all agree on the character and decency of this exceptional American. I would hope that the Democratic Congressional leadership and Democratic presidential candidates would also join me in publicly condemning this kind of political attack ad and the organization responsible for it in the strongest terms possible."

UPDATE: And Thompson:
" has today, in effect, said that the General leading our brave troops in Iraq is betraying his country. This is the group that funds the Democratic Party. I call upon the Democratic Party and all of the Democratic candidates for President to repudiate the libel of this patriotic American."
09/10 12:47 PM

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: Fred Thompson Tries Retail Politics

Fred Thompson Tries Retail Politics
By PHILIP ELLIOTT – 8 hours ago

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson left a trail of half-empty coffee cups and barely sipped Diet Pepsis on Sunday as he jumped into the kind of person-to-person political campaigning that voters here demand.

On his first swing across New Hampshire as a declared candidate, Thompson visited bars and restaurants where voters watched football and drank beer. Some asked about immigration, the economy and politics.

He even signed a magazine that featured him on the cover with the headline, "Lazy Like a Fox."
"I'm going to lose more weight on this thing. I'll never get close enough to food to eat it," the former Tennessee senator joked with the throng of reporters and photographers chasing him.

Thompson faces some obstacles in states that vote early in the presidential primary process, like New Hampshire. His rivals have spent considerable time and money building organizations here and meeting with voters as they like it — one on one and in small groups.
He pledged Sunday to play catch-up.

JM Bell Jumps in the Mix

Mark Towner - Loudly Babbles and Blusters Once More
Posted in September 8th, 2007
by JM Bell in dementia, GOP asshats, GOP Shill

>>>>>JM I would have thought you would have stayed out of this, but it appears you are speaking for the liar and thief Jesse Harris since he will not speak for himself.

Marky Mark Towner is on another rant jag. He, once again, reloaded up his database of poached email addresses and names, sent out another list grab, and got caught with his security practically non-existent.

>>>(You know better JM)

His 5,800 email addresses and names were wide open for anyone else to steal, including a good chunk of personal information that, again, leads to the opinion that he either swiped it from the GOP lists, swiped it from the Utah Policy Daily and/or bought it.

>>>Steal, exactly JM what I was saying about Jesse and the other Bloggers. I will out you all when the time is right. The campaigns that "Stole the edited list" filled with gotcha email addresses that only I know about will blow several political campaigns (mostly democrat) right out of the water.

Jesse Harris over at Coolest Family Ever (which, even with that name, doesn’t talk about my family at all) caught another piece of Mark’s spam (as did several other bloggers), took a peek and found the giant security lapse that allowed anyone to grab all of the personal information that Mark had stored on 5,800 people. That’s bad. Very, very bad.
So what did Mark do when he was told of his irresponsible screw-up? In true GOP fashion, he blamed the messenger and started calling everyone who questioned his negligence as un-American.

>>> I have nothing whatsoever do do with the GOP (State or Local) anymore. I have registered a new party here in Utah.

In a nutshell, Mark is pissed that Jesse won’t apologize for saying that Mark has less than 10,000 “subscribers” after Jesse got a look at a list of 5,800. Mark also called Jesse un-American because Jesse thinks that Comcast and Qwest’s internet service sucks out loud. >>>> Please provide this quote JM, Oh now who's the liar? Jesse mentioned, I gather, something about wanting the promise of Fiber-Optics that we were all promised (and funded with tax dollars) that has yet to appear almost anywhere. You know, like Utopia. Mark further goes on to falsely state that Jesse is attacking Mark’s first amendment rights of free speech. Hmmm.
So, here you go, Mark:

Point #1 :
10,000-5,800——-=4,200 <– only this many to go before 10,000.

>>> Since I'm actually responding to the thief Jesse Harris, Harris claimed I likely had less than 3000 actual email addresses, 5800 is nearly double that number if my math is correct. Now where are the missing 4200 from the 10,000? These are the email addresses of our new political party. The people who are sick and tired of the same crap comming from both the Democrats and Republicans. Humm think about that one JM. You continue to imply my email addresses came from Utah Policy Daily, yet LaVarr Webb has told you on so many occasions that is not the case. What is UPD's subscriber base? alot more than 5800. I was never an employee of Utah Policy Daily and when I started working with them their subscriber base was around 3500. I wonder how their base of email address went from 3500 to nearly 10,000 over night. So who's email list are we really talking about here JM? You want to see the rest of the list and more JM? Are you willing to put up a bond of lets' say 1 million dollars and sign a ND agreement?

Point #2 : Comcast Sucks. I have Comcast, and it DOES suck. I used to have Qwest, and they suck even harder, that’s why I have Comcast. That’s me expressing an opinion under my first amendment rights. We were promised fiber-optics years ago and we gave the telecoms a crapload of taxpayer money to get it done and …. nearly nada. Why does wanting to be #1 in the world on Internet technology, instead of #42, make us un-American? While I believe that Republicans are often backward, it doesn’t seem to fit in with American Exceptionalism that we deserve, and should therefore quietly acquiesce, to mediocrity. I’d like an explanation of that one, Mark.

>>>> Comcast sucks, really??? I have Comcast here in Salt Lake City and my download speed is nearly T1. Upload could be better but for the money it's pretty good. Qwest on the other hand has no physical connection to my house anymore, I simply cut down the cable. We can thank Rocky Anderson for not getting fiber here in SLC. Maybe that will change with a new Mayor.

Point #3 : You are, to the best of my recollection, neither a candidate nor a party officer, and furthermore, you send out your opinion and whole news articles, reproduced and posted, without the permission of the publisher under the banner of pretend pirate captain and not, say, as a political organization. Therefore, your spam is not considered protected speech. It’s just spam with politically opinionated content. You want to go stand on a street corner and yell about this stuff, feel free. Otherwise, you’re a spammer. Either clean up your act or get an “I’m a dirty, fu*king spammer” T-shirt and embrace the real you.

>>>> As I stated earlier, I am an officer of a new created political party here in Utah. I have full First Amendment Protection as the founder and chair of that party. Any copyrighted articles have full link backs to the original, and I'm not receiving anything but thanks from the websites that people go to read that full story or get additional information. Since I actually track this and can show this additional traffic they are quite pleased. I've already spoken with these people JM, and if they had a problem with what I'm doing don't you think they would be contacting me directly? Who are you the Blogger Police?

Point #4 : It’s not fun, Mark, to do this every time someone takes exception with your behavior. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the role of partisan asshat better than just about anyone, but I don’t place other people’s information at risk on the internet, and I never have to spam off a “suspect” list to get readers. So, c’mon, Mark. Knock it off, please? This is getting very old, and it’s not fun anymore. Share on Facebook

>>>>Finally JM and to all you other Political Bloggers that hate me or what I'm doing

1) I have nothing whatsover to do with the Utah or National Republican Party. I have resigned all positions, and Registered accordingly.

2) I'm sick of both major parties and plan to expose their corruption when I see it.

3) "Throw the Rascals Out" will be the rallying cry of the new political party here in Utah and maybe around the country if it catches fire.

4) I'm a political spammer, one of the biggest, although RCP is pretty close. I harvest email addresses, I purchase lists, I collect and database everything. I have every registered voter in Utah and in many other states where I consult databased. I can provide "your" voting record from 2000 to 2006 JM, and based on your neighborhood tell you exactly how you compare with your neighbors, from debts to car ownerships, paid taxes any public available information etc. You should know better than anyone JM, because I told you what I did in the past. I'm very good at what I do, and the 5800 emails stolen by Jesse and others were completely screened of the emails that are importent to me now, then I inserted a number of tracking emails. I will know exactly who and for what purpose these emails are used in the future.