February 22, 2011

Indiana Democrats Join the ‘Flee Party’

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:17 pm

(HT to an e-mailer for the term “Flee Party”)

From the Indy Star (HT Cubachi via Dan Riehl):

Indiana Democrats trigger Statehouse showdown over anti-union legislation

House Democrats are leaving the state rather than vote on anti-union legislation, The Indianapolis Star has learned.

A source said Democrats are headed to Illinois, though it was possible some also might go to Kentucky. They need to go to a state with a Democratic governor to avoid being taken into police custody and returned to Indiana.

The House came into session this morning, with only two of the 40 Democrats present. Those two were needed to make a motion, and a seconding motion, for any procedural steps Democrats would want to take to ensure Republicans don’t do anything official without quorum.

With only 58 legislators present, there was no quorum present to do business. The House needs 67 of its members to be present.

… Today’s fight was triggered by Republicans pushing a bill that would bar unions and companies from negotiating a contract that requires non-union members to kick-in fees for representation. It’s become the latest in what is becoming a national fight over Republican attempts to eliminate or limit collective bargaining.

It’s interesting how the President’s home state of Illinois is such a popular Flee Party hangout, seeing how it’s a Blue State stronghold, just raised taxes to “solve” a budget problem, yet still won’t fund a service most Dems would consider sacrosanct.

With time on their hands, maybe Badger State and Hoosier State Dems on the lam can do some drug and addiction counseling on the side.

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UPDATE: From a commenter at Dan Riehl’s place — “So, I take it that Illinois is a ‘Sanctuary State’ for ‘undocumented legislators’ …”

If You’re a Wisconsin Eighth-Grader, Chances Are You Either Can’t Read or Can’t Comprehend This — Or Both

Filed under: Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:56 pm

I had a feeling this was coming, because if Wisconsin public schools on the whole were stellar, we would have heard about it many days ago.

From CNS News:

Two-Thirds of Wisconsin Public-School 8th Graders Can’t Read Proficiently—Despite Highest Per Pupil Spending in Midwest

… In the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests administered by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009—the latest year available—only 32 percent of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders earned a “proficient” rating while another 2 percent earned an “advanced” rating. The other 66 percent of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders earned ratings below “proficient,” including 44 percent who earned a rating of “basic” and 22 percent who earned a rating of “below basic.”

The test also showed that the reading abilities of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders had not improved at all between 1998 and 2009 despite a significant inflation-adjusted increase in the amount of money Wisconsin public schools spent per pupil each year.

In 1998, according to the U.S. Department of Education, Wisconsin public school eighth graders scored an average of 266 out of 500 on the NAEP reading test. In 2009, Wisconsin public school eighth graders once again scored an average of 266 out of 500 on the NAEP reading test. Meanwhile, Wisconsin public schools increased their per pupil expenditures from $4,956 per pupil in 1998 to 10,791 per pupil in 2008. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator the $4,956 Wisconsin spent per pupil in 1998 dollars equaled $6,546 in 2008 dollars. That means that from 1998 to 2008, Wisconsin public schools increased their per pupil spending by $4,245 in real terms yet did not add a single point to the reading scores of their eighth graders and still could lift only one-third of their eighth graders to at least a “proficient” level in reading.

The $10,791 that Wisconsin spent per pupil in its public elementary and secondary schools in fiscal year 2008 was more than any other state in the Midwest.

Look, I know there are plenty of reasons besides the teachers themselves why kids can’t, don’t, or won’t learn. But this is a disgrace, and it should be obvious that paying teachers much higher salaries and providing gilded benefits packages hasn’t changed things for the better.

My memory may be foggy, and maybe a Badger State reader or someone knowledgable about these things can help me — but I vaguely recall a time when Wisconsin’s public schools were considered the envy of the land. Obviously, that’s not true now.

Lickety-Split Links (022211, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:58 am

At NewsBusters“(Chris) Matthews Visibly Angered By Poll Finding Americans Think Reagan Was Greatest President.” The result is at this Gallup poll. Well Chris, I suspect that this is partially because the current Punk President’s PR peeps are trying to pretend that their guy is somehow like Reagan. Their campaign has instead reminded many Americans of the greatness of the real Gipper, especially compared to the Oval Office’s current pathetic occupant.

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Ann Althouse (“Neutrality — cruel and kind — from Wisconsin — where everything’s happening”) reports receiving a death threat (I suppose lefty excuse-makers will call it a “death suggestion”) for videotaping a Madison salt truck driver not doing his job.

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Madison back story: So it appears that President’s Day is not a holiday at Madison, Wisconsin schools. The guess here is that Martin Luther King Day is. If so, I have a problem with that.

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At the UK Daily Mail, via Drudge — “Illinois slashes ALL state funding for drug and alcohol abuse treatment in massive cuts programme.” Google News as of about 7:30 a.m. shows pretty light coverage for what seems to be a pretty big story — and Drudge apparently feels he has to go to a UK newspaper for good coverage.

This is happening because the state has lived way beyond its means for years. It has attempted to solve its problems with tax increases, and yet it STILL has to cut to the core.

If a Republican governor did this, it would lead the evening newscasts.

Party of compassion my a**.

Update: Well, the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s cartoonist noticed.

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Only the naive will be surprised by this“Cables show China used debt holdings to press US.” The referenced item goes back almost 2-1/2 years. Over $4 trillion in additional debt later (Feb. 17, 2011 – $14.124 trillion; September 30, 2008 – $10.025 trillion), only the naive would think that this isn’t a nearly routine occurrence.

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At the Wisconsin State Journal (HT Gateway Pundit) — “UW Health is investigating reports of doctors writing sick notes last weekend to excuse Capitol protesters from work, and the Wisconsin Medical Society has criticized the doctors’ actions.” I suspect “Now get off our backs, will ya?” window-dressing, but we’ll see.

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A bad sign from Egypt:

Egypt protest hero Wael Ghonim barred from stage

Google executive Wael Ghonim, who emerged as a leading voice in Egypt’s uprising, was barred from the stage in Tahrir Square on Friday by security guards, an AFP photographer said. Ghonim tried to take the stage in Tahrir, the epicentre of anti-regime protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, but men who appeared to be guarding influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi barred him from doing so.

Ghonim, who was angered by the episode, then left the square with his face hidden by an Egyptian flag.

Qaradawi gave a Friday sermon in the square, where hundreds of thousands of people gathered a week after Mubarak’s fall, in which he called for Arab leaders to listen to their people.

Via MEMRI, January 9, 2009:

Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi on Al-Jazeera Incites Against Jews, Arab Regimes, and the U.S.; Calls on Muslims to Boycott Starbucks and Others; Says ‘Oh Allah, Take This Oppressive, Jewish, Zionist Band of People… And Kill Them, Down to the Very Last One’

The potential for a repeat of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeni in the late-1970s would appear to be very real.

Update: Never mind the spelling difference in the last name. It is the same guy.

Positivity: George Washington and a Little-Known Turning Point in American History

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:57 am

georgewashingtonThis post is a Washington’s Birthday BizzyBlog tradition.

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Few know that George Washington singlehandedly prevented a soldiers’ revolt in 1783.

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(from historyplace.com)

At the close of the Revolutionary War in America, a perilous moment in the life of the fledgling American democracy occurred as officers of the Continental Army met in Newburgh, New York, to discuss grievances and consider a possible insurrection against the rule of Congress.

They were angry over the failure of Congress to honor its promises to the army regarding salary, bounties and life pensions. The officers had heard from Philadelphia that the American government was going broke and that they might not be compensated at all.

On March 10, 1783, an anonymous letter was circulated among the officers of General Washington’s main camp at Newburgh. It addressed those complaints and called for an unauthorized meeting of officers to be held the next day to consider possible military solutions to the problems of the civilian government and its financial woes.

General Washington stopped that meeting from happening by forbidding the officers to meet at the unauthorized meeting. Instead, he suggested they meet a few days later, on March 15th, at the regular meeting of his officers.

Meanwhile, another anonymous letter was circulated, this time suggesting Washington himself was sympathetic to the claims of the malcontent officers.

And so on March 15, 1783, Washington’s officers gathered in a church building in Newburgh, effectively holding the fate of democracy in America in their hands.

Unexpectedly, General Washington himself showed up. He was not entirely welcomed by his men, but nevertheless, personally addressed them…

Gentlemen:
By an anonymous summons, an attempt has been made to convene you together; how inconsistent with the rules of propriety, how unmilitary, and how subversive of all order and discipline, let the good sense of the army decide…

Thus much, gentlemen, I have thought it incumbent on me to observe to you, to show upon what principles I opposed the irregular and hasty meeting which was proposed to have been held on Tuesday last – and not because I wanted a disposition to give you every opportunity consistent with your own honor, and the dignity of the army, to make known your grievances. If my conduct heretofore has not evinced to you that I have been a faithful friend to the army, my declaration of it at this time would be equally unavailing and improper. But as I was among the first who embarked in the cause of our common country. As I have never left your side one moment, but when called from you on public duty. As I have been the constant companion and witness of your distresses, and not among the last to feel and acknowledge your merits. As I have ever considered my own military reputation as inseparably connected with that of the army. As my heart has ever expanded with joy, when I have heard its praises, and my indignation has arisen, when the mouth of detraction has been opened against it, it can scarcely be supposed, at this late stage of the war, that I am indifferent to its interests.

But how are they to be promoted? The way is plain, says the anonymous addresser. If war continues, remove into the unsettled country, there establish yourselves, and leave an ungrateful country to defend itself. But who are they to defend? Our wives, our children, our farms, and other property which we leave behind us. Or, in this state of hostile separation, are we to take the two first (the latter cannot be removed) to perish in a wilderness, with hunger, cold, and nakedness? If peace takes place, never sheathe your swords, says he, until you have obtained full and ample justice; this dreadful alternative, of either deserting our country in the extremest hour of her distress or turning our arms against it (which is the apparent object, unless Congress can be compelled into instant compliance), has something so shocking in it that humanity revolts at the idea. My God! What can this writer have in view, by recommending such measures? Can he be a friend to the army? Can he be a friend to this country? Rather, is he not an insidious foe? Some emissary, perhaps, from New York, plotting the ruin of both, by sowing the seeds of discord and separation between the civil and military powers of the continent? And what a compliment does he pay to our understandings when he recommends measures in either alternative, impracticable in their nature?

I cannot, in justice to my own belief, and what I have great reason to conceive is the intention of Congress, conclude this address, without giving it as my decided opinion, that that honorable body entertain exalted sentiments of the services of the army; and, from a full conviction of its merits and sufferings, will do it complete justice. That their endeavors to discover and establish funds for this purpose have been unwearied, and will not cease till they have succeeded, I have not a doubt. But, like all other large bodies, where there is a variety of different interests to reconcile, their deliberations are slow. Why, then, should we distrust them? And, in consequence of that distrust, adopt measures which may cast a shade over that glory which has been so justly acquired; and tarnish the reputation of an army which is celebrated through all Europe, for its fortitude and patriotism? And for what is this done? To bring the object we seek nearer? No! most certainly, in my opinion, it will cast it at a greater distance.

For myself (and I take no merit in giving the assurance, being induced to it from principles of gratitude, veracity, and justice), a grateful sense of the confidence you have ever placed in me, a recollection of the cheerful assistance and prompt obedience I have experienced from you, under every vicissitude of fortune, and the sincere affection I feel for an army I have so long had the honor to command will oblige me to declare, in this public and solemn manner, that, in the attainment of complete justice for all your toils and dangers, and in the gratification of every wish, so far as may be done consistently with the great duty I owe my country and those powers we are bound to respect, you may freely command my services to the utmost of my abilities.

While I give you these assurances, and pledge myself in the most unequivocal manner to exert whatever ability I am possessed of in your favor, let me entreat you, gentlemen, on your part, not to take any measures which, viewed in the calm light of reason, will lessen the dignity and sully the glory you have hitherto maintained; let me request you to rely on the plighted faith of your country, and place a full confidence in the purity of the intentions of Congress; that, previous to your dissolution as an army, they will cause all your accounts to be fairly liquidated, as directed in their resolutions, which were published to you two days ago, and that they will adopt the most effectual measures in their power to render ample justice to you, for your faithful and meritorious services. And let me conjure you, in the name of our common country, as you value your own sacred honor, as you respect the rights of humanity, and as you regard the military and national character of America, to express your utmost horror and detestation of the man who wishes, under any specious pretenses, to overturn the liberties of our country, and who wickedly attempts to open the floodgates of civil discord and deluge our rising empire in blood.

By thus determining and thus acting, you will pursue the plain and direct road to the attainment of your wishes. You will defeat the insidious designs of our enemies, who are compelled to resort from open force to secret artifice. You will give one more distinguished proof of unexampled patriotism and patient virtue, rising superior to the pressure of the most complicated sufferings. And you will, by the dignity of your conduct, afford occasion for posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to mankind, “Had this day been wanting, the world had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining.”

This speech was not very well received by his men. Washington then took out a letter from a member of Congress explaining the financial difficulties of the government.

After reading a portion of the letter with his eyes squinting at the small writing, Washington suddenly stopped. His officers stared at him, wondering. Washington then reached into his coat pocket and took out a pair of reading glasses. Few of them knew he wore glasses, and were surprised.

“Gentlemen,” said Washington, “you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”

In that moment of utter vulnerability, Washington’s men were deeply moved, even shamed, and many were quickly in tears, now looking with great affection at this aging man who had led them through so much. Washington read the remainder of the letter, then left without saying another word, realizing their sentiments.

His officers then cast a unanimous vote, essentially agreeing to the rule of Congress. Thus, the civilian government was preserved and the young experiment of democracy in America continued.