Archive

Archive for January, 2010

Tea Party Leader Exemplifies Hypocrisy at its Worst

January 31st, 2010 82 comments

Bill Moyers gives us a behind the scene expose of one of the Tea Party’s leaders, Dick Armey.  Dick Armey retired from Congress a few years ago and went on to work with FreedomWorks which is one of the main movers and shakers behind the Tea Party Movement.  Armey leads of life of wealth and privilege and says  he gets paid lobbyist fees he describes as  a ‘darn handsome piece of dough’ for his work.

Most of what Armey does is go around blasting every aspect of the proposed health care reform.  He did the same thing to Hillary Clinton as you will see in the video.  What Armey fails to tell the Tea Party protestors and the public is that he has a Cadillac health care planned subsidized by the government which means you and I pay for it. 

Sit back and watch hypocrisy at its worst:  

[Editor Note: Aside removed from post. it was an unsubstantiated rumor. I actually don't like those and it was snide. Correction also made in title. Substitute party for bag. Unintentional mistake.]

Categories: General Tags:

Joint Chiefs of Counties Address LCI Insult

January 31st, 2010 10 comments

Sharon Bulova(D), Corey Stewart(R), and Stephen York (I)
all blast Kaine and  McDonnell for  the freeze proposal for the Local Composite Index. It is a worthwhile read and further proof that this is a bipartisan state issue. The Northern Virginia jurisdictions will be severely hampered by this decision should it be passed.

Reprinted from the Washington Post:

Insult from Richmond
By Sharon Bulova, Corey A. Stewart and Scott K. York

Education is the silver bullet. Our children are our future. These are things we know intuitively, and in these uncertain economic times, we must continue to strengthen this foundation to ensure our economic recovery and success in a global marketplace.

As governments at every level face significant budget shortfalls, elected officials are wrestling with difficult decisions and painful cuts. In Northern Virginia, unfortunately, our challenge is exacerbated by a recent state budget proposal to freeze the local composite index (LCI) for K-12 education.

Read more…

Categories: General Tags:

Blight and Poverty Comes to the ‘Burbs

January 31st, 2010 12 comments

The extreme poverty usually associated with the inner city has come to the suburbs.  As foreclosures and joblessness have spread, so has a suburban blight that is causing property values to drop even lower.  Other neighboring metro areas have their own share of this problem. 

According to the Washington Examiner:

For every poor person in the District, Arlington or Alexandria, two more live in the outer suburbs, according to the Brookings study.
“They’ve been hit the hardest,” Brookings scholar Elizabeth Kneebone said of the outer suburbs. “We can expect the numbers in 2009 to show an even larger increase in economic difficulties in the area.”

Here are some new statistics regarding poverty.  It was not all in Prince William County and surrounded cities:

Poverty in the Washington area

»  251,096 poor in outer suburbs, 2008

»  Inner city poverty rate dropped by 2.5 percent between 2000 and 2008

»  Outer suburban poverty rate rose by 0.3 percent between 2000 and 2008

Source: Brookings Institution

Getting a free lunch

Free and reduced meals in Montgomery County schools, by school year:

»  2007-08: 26 percent of students

»  2008-09: 27 percent of students

»  2009-10: 29 percent of students

Source: Maryland Hunger Solutions

 Fairfax residents look for help

Percentage increase in public assistance applications, November 2007-November 2009:

»  Food stamps: 78 percent

»  Welfare: 54 percent

»  Medicaid: 10 percent

Source: Fairfax County

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

 
Categories: General Tags:

The January Snowstorm 1/30/10

January 30th, 2010 58 comments


People are coming in with war stories about their trips out in the storm.  Let us know the conditions out there.

Let it  snow, let is snow, let it snow!

Categories: General Tags:

Anne Frank Not Welcome in Culpeper

January 30th, 2010 68 comments
Anne Frank

Anne Frank

 

 

Apparently Anne Frank  is not welcome in Culpeper County Schools.  In fact, this version  of Anne Frank,  “The Diary of a Young Girl: the Definitive Edition,” has been banned from being taught in the classroom, based on the complaint of one parent.  Culpeper County Public Schools, like most school systems, has a process by which books with complaints are screened and evaluated.  The process was not followed in this case. 

 

 

 

 

According to the Washington Post:

“The Diary of a Young Girl: the Definitive Edition,” which was published on the 50th anniversary of Frank’s death in a concentration camp, will not be used in the future, said James Allen, director of instruction for the 7,600-student system. The school system did not follow its own policy for handling complaints about instructional materials, Allen said.

The diary documents the daily life of a Jewish girl in Amsterdam during World War II. Frank started writing on her 13th birthday, shortly before her family went into hiding in an annex of an office building. The version of the diary in question includes passages previously excluded from the widely read original edition, first published in Dutch in 1947. That book was arranged by her father, the only survivor in her immediate family. Some of the extra passages detail her emerging sexual desires; others include unflattering descriptions of her mother and other people living together.

Allen said that the more recent version will remain in the school library and that the earlier version will be used in classes. The 1955 play based on Frank’s experiences also has been a part of the eighth-grade curriculum for many years. The diary’s “universal theme, that there is good in everyone, resonates with these kids,” Allen said.

The Washington Post was able to outline the complaint process that normally takes place:

Culpeper’s policy on “public complaints about learning resources” calls for complaints to be submitted in writing and for a review committee to research the materials and deliberate, Allen said. In this case, the policy was not followed. Allen said the parent registered the complaint orally, no review committee was created and a decision was made quickly by at least one school administrator. He said he is uncertain about the details because he was out of town.

“The person came in, and the decision was made that day . . . and that’s fine. We would like to have had it in writing. It just did not happen,” Allen said.

 

Why would an administrator not follow county policy and make such a determination for the entire county?  Why doesn’t the director of  instruction immediately override the wimpy principals and put the book through the normal complaint process?  The Diary of Anne Frank has been read by more people than any  book other than the bible.  according to some sources.    It has been translated into many multiple  languages.  Very few complaints have been lodged against it. 

In most cases, parents who are uncomfortable with teaching materials are allowed to remove their child from being taught the  material in question or alternate materials are selected.  Why would one parent be allowed to make learning decisions for everyone else’s child in the county.  Culpeper County needs to re-evaluate this decision and follow its own rules.

Chris Matthews: Foot in Mouth Disease or a Compliment?

January 29th, 2010 17 comments
Chris Matthews without his foot in his mouth

Chris Matthews without his foot in his mouth

One of the biggest spins from the State of the Union Address post mortem was the statement made by Chris Matthews who somehow manages to rub everyone the wrong way.  He said that:

NEW YORK (AP) — MSNBC’s Chris Matthews says President Barack Obama has done so much to heal racial divisions that he “forgot he was black” while watching his State of the Union address.
Those four words — “forgot he was black” — so instantly set the Twitter world afire that Matthews came back less than 90 minutes later Wednesday night to explain what he meant.

The MSNBC commentator said it was noteworthy to him that a black president was addressing a room of mostly white people and how it didn’t seem to be an issue. He said he saw it in the context of growing up at a time racial divisions were ever-present.

Says Matthews: “I went in the room tonight, you could feel it wasn’t there tonight and that takes leadership on his part, to get us beyond those divisions.“
 

So what did Chris Matthews really mean? How do you forget someone is black? Was he complimenting Obama or was he stepping all over himself with awkward words.  This obviously wasn’t just a tingle.  Chris Matthews is famous for being pro-Obama so he obviously isn’t trying to insult him.

Categories: General, Social Issues Tags:

Kaine and McDonnell Axe NoVA Schools

January 29th, 2010 59 comments

 

For several decades, Virginia has used a  formula called the  local composite index (LCI) to  ensure that very poor localities had the funds to operate their school systems and that all children in Virginia had a shot at an equal education.  Basically the formula directs revenues  from wealthier areas into poorer districts.  Because situations change, the LCI is calculated yearly. 

From Del. Dave Albo’s website:

School funding in the Commonwealth of Virginia is determined by the Local Composite Index, or LCI.  The LCI is a result of a Supreme Court of Virginia ruling which stated that the Virginia Constitution requires all children to receive, to the extent practicable, and equivalent education.  Thus, the Court ruled that some funding formula must be used to direct money to areas that can’t afford to educate children. (The Court did not say what the formula has to be only that some redistribution must occur). Consequently, the purpose of the LCI is to ensure less affluent localities are able to provide for their students. The LCI is a figure that determines how much a school system must pay for its own basic education. (“Basic Education” is a set of minimum standards. For example, math must be taught, but band does not.)  The LCI, has a cap of .8000 (a locality must pay 80% of its own basic education) but has no minimum. Only 27 out of 136 schools are required to pay more than 50% of their basic education (e.g. have above a .5000 LCI).

The LCI is calculated through a complicated formula. The formula attempts to determine which school systems can afford to may more of their own basic education, and which systems cannot afford to pay. In determining who can pay, a formula has been developed which considers a bunch of different variables.

So what’s the problem? The LCI is changed yearly because conditions change. Governor Kaine placed a freeze until 2012 on recalculating LCI. Governor McDonnell is considering upholding this freeze. Northern Virginians are having a fit because it was hit harder than the rest of the state by foreclosures and a deflated housing market. They will lose millions on the old plan:

According to the Dixie Pig blog (Delegate Scott Surovell’s blog) the Northern Virginia School losses from not adjusting the formula this year  are as in the millions.  According to Delegate Surovell:

McDonnell’s office confirmed Friday that he would uphold the freeze implemented by Kaine. The outgoing governor proposed freezing the index until the 2012 fiscal year. He theorized that this would protect 97 school divisions that would lose money if the formula were re-calculated. McDonnell Freezes School Funding Formula, The Virginia Gazette (Jan. 25, 2010).

Yesterday, Governor McDonnell who campaigned on the idea that he was from Mt. Vernon and understood Northern Virginia’s needs confirmed that he is going to affirm this policy decision, not just for one year but at least until 2012.

This decision is a breach of the state’s responsibility to Northern Virginia’s children. Here are the top six affected jurisdictions according to the numbers I was given yesterday.

Fairfax County $61 Million
Loudoun County $34 Million
Prince William County $22 Million
Stafford County $4.5 Million
Fauquier County $4.3 Million
Manassas City $3.1 Million
TOTAL $128 Million
 

 

 

 

 

 Northern Virginians are furious as well they should be.  They will have to make up the deficits and jurisdictions are already strapped.  It appears that we have been sold out by 2 governors.  So much for either Kaine or McDonnell being education governors.  And regardless of where he is from, Governor McDonnell obviously does not understand the educational problems of his own county.  According to Del. Surovell in an update, the new total is a $144 million dollar shortfall.  I hope Prince William and City of Manassas are prepared for 40 kids per class.  That number definitely is not considered ‘best practice.’ 

Northern Virginians should contact their delegate and senator immediately to require the  LCI formula to be recalulated as it is supposed to be.  This issue is definitely bipartisan.  Democrats and Republicans all have kids. So do Independents. 

A big thanks to Poor Richard for bringing  the Local Composite Index freeze to my attention and for providing background information.

[Ed. Note:  The LCI is calculated every TWO years rather than one as stated above.]

State of the Union Address 1/27/10

January 27th, 2010 88 comments
Presidential Seal

Presidential Seal

The State of the Union Address is tonight. The speech will run about an hour and 15 minutes with a little time built in for applause. Feel free to comment on points being made. The is President Obama’s first State of the Union Address.

The one and only time I attended the State of the Union Address I was in awe of the raw power in the room. I enjoy reliving that special night. Who is not there? There is always someone who isn’t there and I cannot remember who it is.

Categories: General Tags:

Haiti Children at Risk, New Orphans Need Protection

January 27th, 2010 2 comments

 

It’s bad enough to suffer such devastation, loss of your family, but to be at risk of being kidnapped for exploitation is just too horrible to think about, these poor little children.

Categories: General Tags:

Teen Pregnancy and Abortion Rates Inch Up

January 26th, 2010 3 comments

Many news agencies are reporting that for the first time since the early 1990s, the teen pregnancy rate is inching up. The long term decline cut across all racial groups and the reversal is also true. No one demographic stands out amongst young women ages 15 to 19.

USA Today reports:

The numbers, calculated by the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit group that studies reproductive and sexual health, show a clear reversal from the downward trend that began in the 1990s.

About 7% of teen girls got pregnant in 2006, a rate of 71.5 pregnancies per 1,000 teens. That’s up slightly from 69.5 in 2005, Guttmacher says. In 1990, when rates peaked, about 12% got pregnant.

 
Read more…

Manassas Gets First Look at “9500 Liberty” Tuesday Jan. 26

January 26th, 2010 133 comments

Press release:

Manassas Gets First Look at “9500 Liberty”
Award-winning Documentary Recounts 2007-2008 Immigration Culture War

MANASSAS, VA — Jan. 22, 2010
Mid-way through a national tour that has netted two film festival awards and two city proclamations, “9500 Liberty” returns to the place where it began when George Mason University’s Verizon Auditorium hosts a Tuesday 6:30 PM screening on Jan. 26.

This is the first time the feature length documentary has screened in Manassas, home to several of the film’s primary figures, including Greg Letiecq, a blogger and political activist who helped engineer the passage the nation’s most aggressive local ordinance designed to “crack down” on illegal immigration, and Gaudencio Fernandez, a building contractor who protested the law by erecting a series of banners on his property near the Old Town Manassas train station. The film reveals in dramatic detail how and why the controversial “probable cause” mandate for immigration status checks was repealed in April, 2008 by the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010
6:30 PM
Verizon Auditorium, Occoquan Building
George Mason University, Prince William Campus
10900 University Boulevard
Manassas, VA 20110-2203
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Directors Eric Byler of Gainesville, VA and Annabel Park of Silver Spring, MD have traveled with the film to ten states in recent months, with a host of upcoming screenings that include Hampden-Sydney, VA, Ohio, Montana, and Nebraska. In February, “9500 Liberty” will be presented to Members of Congress at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday’s screening, presented with Spanish subtitles, is the opening night for the Immigration and Human Rights Cinema series, hosted by George Mason University and the local interfaith group Unity in the Community. It will be followed by a Q & A discussion with the filmmakers and representatives of the Prince William County Police Department, including a Spanish speaking Officer.

“9500 Liberty” won Best Documentary at the Charlotte Film Festival last September, and the Audience Award at the St. Louis International Film Festival in November. The Mayor of Austin, Texas and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors both issued proclamations commending the film prior to public screenings. The filmmakers expect to announce a cable television premiere and a DVD release date in coming weeks.

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Open Thread 1/25/10

January 25th, 2010 58 comments

Many people have something to say. As promised, a weekly open thread. The other one scrolled too far down.

Categories: General Tags:

Powell to be Executed–Finally

January 25th, 2010 38 comments

Having a big mouth just doesn’t pay sometimes.    Powell stupidly shot off his mouth in a letter to Commonwealth Attorney Paul Ebert and confessed to raping and brutally killing Stacie Reed, thinking that he couldn’t be tried twice.  It didn’t work out so well for him.  He got a stay of execution at the last minute back in July and his case headed for the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court will not stop his execution.  The wheels of justice sometimes grind very slowly. 

 
Hot off the press from Manassas News and Messenger:

The United States Supreme Court will not stop the execution of a man charged with killing a 16-year-old girl at her Yorkshire home in 1999.

Paul Warner Powell was set to be executed for the murder of Stacie Reed in July but the Supreme Court postponed the execution, saying they needed more time to decide if they would review the case.

The Supreme Court decided this week not to intervene.

A new execution date has not yet been set.

Powell was convicted of capital murder for killing and attempting to rape Stacie at the family’s Yorkshire home on Jan. 29, 1999. He was also convicted of raping and attempting to kill Kristie, who survived.

 

Powell said he killed Stacie because she was dating a black man. He is a self avowed white supremacist.

Now Powell only has 2 things to ponder: Old Sparky or the Big Drip in the Sky. I hope he choses to ride the lightning bolt out of here. It should be painful to be both evil and stupid.  The links below include an interview with News and Messenger reporter Uriah Kiser when he thought the Powell execution was a go.  The News and Messenger has an excellent timeline.

Links

Stay of Execution

Background from News and Messenger   (U. Kiser)
UPDATE FROM MANASSAS NEWS AND MESSENGER

Bernake Nomination Shored up by White House

January 24th, 2010 17 comments

There is all sorts of scuttlebutt over getting rid of Ben Bernanke.  Two Democratic senators, Barbara Boxer and Russ Feingold both started stirring up things on Friday about not re-confirming the current Federal Reserve Chairman.  Before that, there were other democrats including Senate Leader Harry Reid who expressed doubts.  There are already Republicans who place the financial woes on the country onto Bernanke, saying he should have known before hand. 

While the Democrats and Republicans play political reindeer games, some of those who have forgotten more than most people know about all things financial seem horrified at the prospect of not having Bernanke at the helm.  Warren Buffett, the financial mogul, is one such person.  He has said if Bernanke is not reconfirmed he will immediately begin to sell off stock and put his money elsewhere. Wall Street dropped 4% last week over this fighting as well as Obama’s firmly administered bank spanking.

Read more…

Border Collie Pups: It doesn’t get any cuter!

January 24th, 2010 6 comments
Categories: General Tags: