Monday, October 31, 2005

Random Ten from da iPod

Since all the other cool kids do this...

1. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah- Over and Over Again
2. The Arcade Fire- Crown of Love
3. Weezer- Slave
4. Meat Beat Manifesto- Granulation 1
5. Lionrock- Push Button Cocktail
6. The Young Tradition- Northern Drive
7. Lake Trout- Not Them, You
8. Of Montreal- City Bird
9. Brendan Benson- I'm Blessed
10. Alpha- Sleepdust

Sunday, October 30, 2005

First, Screw All the Poor People

The Republican Congress is once again looking to stick it to poor people in order to preserve tax cuts for the wealthy and to pay for a failed Iraq policy. This time their preferred means is to take a chunk out of Medicare and Medicaid. Although it is cloaked under the rhetoric of reform and state level policy experimentation, the true motivation is to dismantle the welfare state.

While we can probably all agree that these entitlements are ripe for reform, the GOP slash and burn techniques are not the correct route. Their political motivations are transparently obvious. The White House told Congress not to touch Medicare and to focus on savings in Medicaid. Hmm.. let's see.. Medicare is a program for the elderly and Medicaid is for poor people. Senior citizens vote, poor people don't.

In addition, the bill increases co-payments for prescriptions, but cuts payments to pharmacies, thus keeping Big Pharma's profits intact. So the GOP is even willing to screw chain drug stores in order to keep Merck et al happy. I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that Pharma's lobbyist/president is a former Republican congressman? Nah... that can't be it, because the GOP is all about ethics (at least that is what they keep telling us as they flagellate gays and pro-choicers in the public square).

With every passsing day, the GOP gets more repulsive. And yet, the poor and middle class rubes who watch Faux News have nary a clue about the destruction their fellow Bible-beating fag haters are doing to their paychecks, their retirement prospects and their country.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Explanation, Please

Is there anyone out there who can explain to me why outing a covert CIA operative is not worse than covering up extramarital oral sex? I honestly want to know, because I cannot come up with any rational explanation. To me, it really comes down to the perpetrator of each and to the motives for each. Clinton was a pariah to the right wing; Shrub is their savior. Clinton just wanted to get off without anyone finding out; Shrub et al wanted to discredit an administration critic intent on exposing the administration's lies about Iraq.

Clinton's actions resulted in a semen stained dress. Shrub et al's actions resulted in over 2000 dead American soldiers, tens of thousands of injured soldiers, tens of thousands of dead and injured Iraqi civilians, the outing of a covert CIA operative, loss of American credibility in the world and a much more fertile recruiting ground for terrorist groups.

Now, remind me again why Shrub et al's actions are not so bad...

The Party of Personal Responsibility??

Remember the good old days, back in the Clinton administration, when the GOP lectured us regularly about personal responsibility, morality, and ethics? Well, apparently those admonitions did not apply to fellow GoOPers. Quelle surprise!!

Everyone already knows about the ethical problems in the White House. But the Grand Old Police blotter has many, many entries. The above linked story is about Tom Noe, who has been indicted on campaign finance violations. Mr. Noe funneled over $45,000 to Shrubby's reelection effort through friends. Of course, this is on top of his other troubles, namely the $13 million that disappeared from the rare coin collection he managed for the Ohio workers' comp fund.

So, next time your "right-thinking" neighbors lecture you on personal responsibility, point them in the direction of the Grand Old Police blotter. And, of course, remind them just who they voted for in the past. Then, tell them to shut the hell up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Hope for the Extremely Gifted Child???

According to the New York Times the University of Nevada is opening a public school for extremely gifted children. For too long the needs of gifted children have been ignored. While the public education system spends billions of dollars to help children with disabilities, it spends a pittance on those with gifts. For longer than I care to remember I have been arguing that children who are gifted have needs that are just as special as those who have disabilities. (And I say that as someone who believes deeply in the mission of special education and inclusion.)

American education has been, by and large, an exercise in serving the average child. For decades, children who had disabilities were shunted off to secluded classrooms where they languished socially and educationally. That changed over the past thirty years, but there still remains a lot to be done. However, it should not come at the expense of education gifted and talented students (as I believe it often has). We must be dedicated to teaching ALL children, regardless of ability. And Nevada's school is a step in the right direction.

It's a Start...

McDonald's will now put nutritional information on their packaging. It will not be as detailed as packaged food (ie, ingredients), but it will list grams of fat, protein, carbohydrates and sodium. I'm somewhat skeptical as to whether or not this will slow consumption of fast food, but it may make people aware of how much fat they are getting in their fa(s)t food.

A better solution to the information problem would be to list the fat grams right next to the price on the menu. People should know what they are consuming prior to purchase, not as they unwrap their burger. And maybe while they're at it, McDonald's (and others) could post the amount the US spends on heart disease and diabetes (and other illnesses related to diet), but that would be a little too much honesty for the fa(s)t food industry.

Congratulations, Sheryl!

Swoopes came out of the closet to ESPN The Magazine. Although she is not the first WNBA player to come out, she is certainly the most high profile player to do so. Swoopes is a three time MVP and three time Olympic gold medal winner, and arguably the best female basketball player in history

Although Swoopes said she did not come out of the closet to be some sort of hero, she will be. There are thousands of young girls who pretend, like she did, to be something they are not. Having such a high profile role model may help them to come to terms with who they are, and make society (especially African Americans) more tolerant of gays and lesbians.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What the H*ll Was I Thinking?

I was reminiscing about musclehead today and read through my archives. What a scary thing to do!! I am amazed at the crap that I wrote and the people to whom I linked. So, if anyone else is really bored and decides to take a look back, I sincerely apologize for my errors.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Spare Me

1. God's own circus' lecture on morality. Until the Bible-thumping red staters can get their divorce rates down below the blue states, they need to shut up about gay marriage ruining the institution and society. And, save me the lecture about sexual morality until you get rid of your boy loving priests and child molesting leaders.

2. "Remember 9-11" right next to Bush-Cheney stickers. You know what, I remember that day quite vividly. I recall worrying about whether some of my friends and family were alive. I also remember this crucial piece of information- Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were the perpetrators. And, the last time I checked Osama was still alive, despite the cowboy in chief's proclamation (over four years ago) that he would be caught dead or alive. So, please spare me your rhetoric about remembering and pull your head out of your anus, turn off Faux News and shut up.

3. The crap about Iraq war opponents as America haters. The right, if not duty, to dissent is ingrained in the American experiment. Besides, if you love America so much, why aren't you off in Iraq fighting for her?

Friday, October 21, 2005

So Wikked Smaht

According to this report, my homestate of MA is the third smartest in the country. Of course, this is good news, but it means we dropped out of the number one spot after two years.

Perusing the list, I have lived in number 3, 10, 21, 25 and 40 (where I reside now). I can say that there is a big difference culturally among the states where I have lived. Education was clearly valued more in MA (#3) and NY (#10) than in the other three places. Interestingly enough, the first two are blue states the middle two swing both ways, and the last is very red.

There seems to be a pattern between how people vote and how they value education, knowledge and expertise. Which leads me to sing the praises of this piece by Charles Johnson in this month's Esquire. Pierce's main contention is that we have replaced intelligence and expertise with the Gut. But, more than that, Idiot America wholly rejects expertise and instead gives credence to those who can sell the most books or stoke the most irrational fears (see, for example, Faux News). Go read the whole piece.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

It's Not Just Loyalty

Pundits and sundry other members of the chattering class have pointed to loyalty as the key to Bush's appointments (see, for example, Mike Brown, Harriet Miers et. al.). But what tends to get overlooked is Bush's worldview in general. Allow me, if you will, a bit of arm-chair psychology.

Bush was raised in a strata of society where one's connections matter more than one's credentials. He used this connections to avoid Vietnam, to run for Congress, to secure capital, to purchase the Texas Rangers, etc. Each of these episodes followed a previous failure. Aside from winning four elections, Bush really has not succeeded at anything.

In other words, Bush's entire worldview is shaped by cronyism, not meritocracy. That world has been very good to him, so why should he question it? It is far easier to surround oneself with mediocre sycophants with whom you share some sort of personal history than it is to seek out people who are at the top of their field with whom you share nothing more than a chromosome or two.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Journalism Is Hard

We all know that Faux News has it easy. All they do is check their fax machines every morning for the GOP Daily Talking Points. Oh, and I suppose they also like to spice it up a bit with whatever white girl is either missing or dead that day (funny how the media never get up in arms about missing black or Latina girls, isn't it?).

But what's the rest of the media world's excuse? I read a quote by a journalist the other day stating that her job was to not have her own thoughts, but rather to convey each side's arguments to her readers. Huh?? Excuse me, but I thought journalism, be it print or broadcast, was about something bigger than that- namely TRUTH.

By her tortured "logic", a story about the earth ought to present the arguments of the folks over at the Flat Earth Society, as well as the normal folks who realize the earth is round. I guess this explains why we keep getting equal presentations of intelligent design and evolution. There is a scientific consensus about evolution. So shouldn't responsible journalists point that out?

The same thing can be said for any other policy debate. Today's journalists contort themselves so much to appear "unbiased", lest they endure complaints to the FCC or frothing protests from the wingnuts. Obviously journalists are not expert in every area they may have to cover. Yet, instead of seeking out independent analysis, they turn to flaks for each side of the story. For an education piece, they will get some Bush administration talking head and then counter it with the flak from NEA or AFT. But, there are any number of education policy professors out there who are far more qualified to discuss the topic. Maybe the media is simply lazy.

And, please, don't bother with that tired old canard about the "liberal" media. The media, print and broadcast, are owned by huge multinational corporations. Journalism is, now more than ever, a business. And we all know who controls the strings. During the Clinton administration, the media pounced all over any alleged scandal. Yet, where is the media now when we have no bid contracts going to the Vice President's old firm? Where are the journalists detailing administration lies about WMD? Why does 60 Minutes air an interview with Louis Freeh, in which he criticizes Clinton, without any rebuttal from the Clinton camp when in a similar situation of a book critical of Bush they allowed the Undersecretary of State to appear and rebut the entire book?

Right now, there are about two people in the major media that cover the news with anything resembling objectivity- Jack Cafferty at CNN and Keith Olbermann at MSNBC. The rest bend over backwards, put their heads in the sand (or someplace else) or do whatever else is necessary to avoid truthfully reporting the news. Heck, we even have journalists who knowingly help to expose CIA operatives in order to discredit an administration critic. Good going guys!! I am sure that Edward R. Murrow and Joseph Pulitzer are very proud.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It's a Lifetime Commitment

Getting a dog (or cat) that is. We volunteer at our local pet rescue (link on the right) and have fostered three dogs. We are adopting our most recent foster tomorrow!! Being around the shelter/rescue environment you learn about what people do to their animals. And the things they do to assuage their guilt.

Our little angel was brought to an outlying shelter because she supposedly urinated all around the house when she was scared. We were her second foster home and neither of us had that problem. What we did notice, though, was how skittish she was. Especially of males. It took her a couple of days to come to me. And, when I made the mistake of taking my umbrella out of the trunk of my car (we were going for a walk in the rain) she was absolutely terrorized. She had never backed away and tugged at her leash so much.

Needless to say, she had obviously been hit by a male, likely with an object. Yet, the person who gave her up went so far as to call the director of our shelter and tell her about the supposed urination issue. Feel guilty much?

Other dogs come to the shelter covered in fleas or worse. Our first foster came to the shelter covered in her own feces. Luckily she was not emotionally scarred (maybe because she was a puppy) and has since gone on to a good home (hooray for Keisha!). Our other foster was brought in because after seven years the family had tired of him.

It's amazing to me how little people care for their animals. And how some just do not realize that they are making a lifetime commitment. Outside of Rotties, which tend to have a shorter lifespan, dogs are a 12-18 year commitment. So, please, if you can't handle the responsibilities of caring for something other than yourself for that many years, go get a pet rock instead.

And Now for Something Completely Different

I suppose I ought to let everyone know why the blog has been so silent. As is common of my nature, I changed my mind about school. I am not pursuing another master's in education. Instead I am actually working towards completing my PhD in public policy here. Suffice to say that I am much happier than I was during my two years of hell.. er.. law school. I am not officially in the doctoral program as I actually just jumped over from the School of Education. But the public policy folks were nice enough to fund me anyway.

Courses this semester--
Applied Research Methods and Stats II-- basically a refresher on multiple regression for me;

Economics of the State and Local Public Sector-- more or less and introduction to tax;

Evaluation Research: Design and Practice-- project based course where you design an evaluation vehicle for a local non-profit.

I am still debating whether to major in public finance or evaluation. Minor will likely be education policy, given my prior graduate degree. Dissertation topic will be something in the area of education, most likely education finance, but maybe a program analysis (I could build on my master's thesis on early grade class size reduction).

I hope to blog more frequently now (I know I've said it before), with a concentration on public policy sorts of things.

Freedom for Supplements

Save Our Supplements is a good resource for finding out the latest news about the government's attempts to take away our right to nutritional supplements. Below is a copy of the email I sent to my US Senators and Congressman. Feel free to copy it and use it yourself.

I am a thirty-four year old bodybuilder. I came to the sport at the age of thirty, while I was in graduate school. I have continued bodybuilding throughout law school and graduate school (now for PhD).

Supplements are an integral part of my quest to build my perfect body. I take (or have taken) creatine, pro-hormones, ephedrine and many other products. I have not, however, taken anabolic steroids.

Unfortunately, in today's media climate misinformation is the norm, not the exception. As a result, safe and legal supplements get caught up in discussions of steroids, all under the headline of "performance enhancing drugs." Anabolic steroids and nutritional supplements are distinctly different. Not only are the former illegal, they are intended solely for the elevation of testosterone levels and lean muscle gains. The latter, though including some products intended to boost testosterone levels, are primarily naturally occurring substances (including many that are produced by our own bodies) that bodybuilders and others ingest in order to make up for deficiencies related to hard training.

Further, the media highlights the few cases or supplement misuse that result in tragedy. Both professional players that suffered supplement related deaths were not taking the products (ephedrine) as directed. As someone who has used ephedrine products in the past, I can tell you that the vast majority of users follow supplement directions and limit other stimulants and keep adequately hydrated. The same can be said of any other supplement.

There will always be some fools who fail to follow directions. Prohibition is not fair to the vast majority of responsible supplement users. Each day in this country millions of Americans smoke, drink alcohol and consume unhealthy amounts of trans fatty acids. These behaviors individually account for exponentially more death, illness and consumption of public health dollars than do nutritional supplements. Yet, the federal government has done nothing to prohibit their ingestion.

At a time when the US faces growing federal deficits, ever-increasing poverty levels, and a poorly planned foreign invasion Congress and the federal government surely have more pressing concerns than taking away our rights to nutritional supplements.