Missouri Rep. Cynthia Davis: Poverty? Show me!

June 25, 2009

The story writes its own ending.  As I watched the story of Missouri State Rep. Cynthia Davis, I kept hearing the Muppet version of Scrooge, who, confronted by a plea for charity for orphans said:  “What?  Are there no prisons?  Are there no workhouses?”

When I staffed the Senate, we prided ourselves on having people who knew a lot more than any reporter in town or any news organization with all its resources.  When I staffed the Utah legislature, the members made sure they knew their stuff before they called for change, generally.  Olberman, Stewart and Colbert sometimes appear to have corraled all the smart people outside of the White House.  But what in the hell is Davis’s excuse?

Update:  Welcome, visitors of July 2.  Obviously, you’re linking from somewhere else — but my systems have not picked it up.  Where are you coming from?  Somebody tell, in comments, please.


Clean energy bill needs your help

June 25, 2009

Call your Congressman, the person who represents you in the U.S. House of Representatives, and urge a “yea” vote on the comprehensive clean energy bill.

You can check your representative at several places, or follow the instructions through RePower America, listed below the video from our old friend Al Gore.

Repower America said in an e-mail:

Clean energy bill needs our support

Any moment now, the House will be voting on the boldest attempt to rethink how we produce and use energy in this country. The bill’s passage is not assured. Call your Representative today.

  • Call 877-9-REPOWER (877-9-737-6937) and we’ll connect you to your Representative right after providing you with talking points. (We’re expecting high call volume, and if you are unable to be connected please use our secondary line, 866-590-0971.)
  • When connected to your Representative’s office, just remember to tell them your name, that you’re a voter, and that you live in their district. Then ask them to “vote ‘yes’ on comprehensive clean energy legislation.”

They’d like you to report your contact, here.

What?  You haven’t been following the debate?  Here’s what the pro-pollution, give-all-your-money-to-Canada, Hugo Chavez, and the Saudis group hopesHere’s where the anti-pollution, pro-frog and clean environment people say the proposed act is way too weak as it stands.  Here’s the House Energy and Commerce Committee drafts and discussion of the billConsumer Reports analyzed the bill here (and said it can’t be passed into law fast enough despite its flaws).

Call now.  Pass the word to your friends.  Tell your children to call — their kids deserve better than the path we’re on now.

More information and discussion:


Michael Shermer’s baloney detection kit

June 25, 2009

Hmmmm.  May have to use this to start out the history classes next year, on the topic of “How do we know what we know?”

Michael Shermer explains the tools we use to detect baloney.  Shermer is the editor of Skeptic magazine; here he speaks in a video produced by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, via Boing! Boing!:


Rick Perry’s education dilemma

June 25, 2009

Betsy Oney teaches in Arlington, Texas.  She’s a frontline soldier in the fight to educate our kids.

She also reads the newspapers and pays attention to what is going on at the highest levels in Texas government.  From her view, she describes better than anyone else I’ve seen, the problem facing Texas Gov. Rick Perry right now, after the Texas State Senate rejected Perry’s nominee to head the State Board of Education, Don McLeroy.

Betsy’s views appeared as an opposite-editorial piece in the Fort Worth Star Telegram on June 7, 2009:

Texas governor in a dilemma over education board pick

By BETSY ONEY
Special to the Star-Telegram

Gov. Rick Perry is in something of a Catch-22.

It started two years ago when he appointed dentist Don McLeroy to chair the State Board of Education. McLeroy is described by his many supporters as a “good and decent man,” and of that we can be sure.

McLeroy’s appointment came after the 80th Legislature adjourned, so he had to be confirmed during this year’s session. The confirmation failed in the Senate.

McLeroy’s supporters blame that on the fact that he’s a Christian. Records show that this Senate, and the House Public Education Committee in a July 16 hearing, were concerned not that he’s Christian but that McLeroy politicized Texas children’s education and led the board and the Texas education system into the spotlight. And what Texans and Americans saw in that light was a fairly grotesque parade of a few people — a majority faction of the board led by McLeroy — who listened to ideology instead of experts and were intent on imposing an antiquated education system on Texas children.

From that same elected board, Perry now must decide on a new chairman who, like McLeroy, will serve without scrutiny until the next legislative session, in 2011.

Perry’s decision is his Catch-22.

He probably won’t consider a Democrat. That leaves nine Republican possibilities. Seven are the radical members responsible for politicizing children’s education. They voted in lock step on a range of issues that individually and collectively have been widely seen by educators and lawyers as anything from illegal to unconstitutional to damaging children. Nominating from that pool might yield a different management style than McLeroy offered, but the ideology, intent and backward direction would remain the same.

The two remaining Republicans are conservative, but not extremists. Both District 11’s Pat Hardy of Fort Worth and District 15’s Bob Craig of Lubbock are well-qualified and would lead Texas public education in the right direction. In contrast to the radical members, they would be responsive to the changing educational needs that the future demands as well as to the rich diversity of children in our population.

Although Hardy has been mentioned as a nominee by senators, she’s recommending Craig.

Craig, an attorney, is a logical choice. He’s served on the board since 2002 and before that served on the Lubbock school board for 14 years. Craig is a “good and decent man,” but in contrast to McLeroy, his voting record and conciliatory demeanor show him to be a rational, uniting public education supporter. He listens to educators and experts. He respects the opinions of others. He votes in the interest of all children.

It’s clear that Perry could not make a better choice than Bob Craig. The Catch-22 is that by appointing a nonextremist, Perry risks losing support from his biggest donors, the religious right.

These donors see benefit in turning public education into religious education at taxpayer expense. They see benefit in keeping critical thinking out of the classroom. Their money is essential in his campaign against Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison in the next gubernatorial primary election.

If Perry appoints from the pool of radical rights, the voting public will be alerted that he’s sacrificing our children’s education and Texas’ future for his own political interests. So he’ll lose votes.

Money and ideology vs. public’s interest and, ultimately, its confidence. What a dilemma! Stay tuned.

Betsy Oney of Fort Worth holds a master of education degree and is a master reading teacher (and English-as-a-second-language teacher) in the Arlington school district.
Can you tell Ms. Oney is literate?  She tosses out “Catch-22” expecting us to know that that means!  She has high expectations for her audience.
Oney’s discipline in Texas schools is one of those insulted by new standards brought down from some mountain by the Texas SBOE in the past year, ignoring the work of Ms. Oney’s colleagues and professionals in her field.
Tip of the old scrub brush to Robert Luhn via Glenn Branch.

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