Yet another exhibit in the general brokenness of today’s Democratic Party [See also: RepubliDems, Dems without Spines]: By way of Quiddity, Chicago mayor, former Obama consigliere, and one of the Village’s favorite High Democratic muckety-mucks Rahm Emanuel — who apparently was pulling a 19% approval rating in February — tries to offset school and health center closings in his city with a giant new arena for a sub-par basketball team. (Apologies in advance for the unwieldy, shoehorned-in Angry Birds analogy in the Nation piece.)
“The only explanation for this is that Rahm is scratching someone’s back in the DePaul Catholic hierarchy of Chicago…In this case, the hottest rumor is that approval of legalized gambling is on the horizon and the convention center’s locale will be its epicenter. The arena is, in effect, a Trojan Horse for a casino.”
As I’ve said several times before about this sort of shameful behavior — and Rahm is a frequent offender in this regard — if we Democrats are just going to act like Republicans, voters might as well pull the lever for the real thing.
“In 1970, in New York City, a newly minted teacher at a public school earned about $2,000 less in salary than a starting lawyer at a prominent law firm. These days the lawyer takes home, including bonus, $115,000 more than the teacher, the McKinsey study found.“
In related news, Nick Kristof offers a modest proposal for fixing education in America: pay teachers more. “When governors mock teachers as lazy, avaricious incompetents, they demean the profession and make it harder to attract the best and brightest. We should be elevating teachers, not throwing darts at them.“
Operation Offsetted: By the slimmest of margins (216-214), the House GOP pass the “deficit-cutting” (read: millionaire tax-giveaway off-setting) bill striking $40 billion from “Medicaid, welfare, child support and student lending.” (It previously passed the Senate on Cheney’s vote.) I’m reminded of a quote by Walter Lippmann on the Goldwater ’64 campaign: “We all know of demagogues and agitators who arouse the poor against the rich. But in Barry Goldwater we have a demagogue who dreams of arousing the rich against the poor.“
A month after the school board was swept of intelligent designers (to Pat Robertson’s chagrin), a judge in Dover, PA dismisses ID as a classroom alternative to evolution. Good to see both science and common sense win one for a change.
Off again, on again: Along with a smattering of Operation Offset-type cuts (particularly with regard to student loans), “Bridge to Nowhere” Ted Stevens and the GOP attach ANWR drilling to a fiscal defense bill, in effect daring the Dems to vote against supporting the troops. Is this ANWR’s last stand? Update: Senate Dems ready for a fight.
“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city.” In a righteous froth over the recent turnover of intelligent designers in Dover, PA, Pat Robertson plays to type and calls out the Big Gun against Pennsylvania’s evolutionaries.
In a mixed day for the Pastafari, the Kansas School Board opens the door to intelligent design, just as the voters of Dover, PA remove all eight school board members who were pushing the issue in the Keystone State. (Nevertheless, the Pennsylvania court challenge to intelligent design will continue.)
“It was unfortunate political timing for House Republicans: On Friday, as the Agriculture Committee was drafting budget-cutting legislation that could knock 295,000 people off food stamps, the Agriculture Department released findings that 529,000 more Americans went hungry last year than in 2003.” As is their wont, the House GOP cut food stamps, student loans, Medicaid, and child support enforcement in the name of preserving Dubya’s tax breaks for millionaires. Whatsmore, “[a]ccording to the Congressional Budget Office, neither the House nor the Senate bills will actually trim projected budget deficits, since they will be followed by a package of tax-cut extensions that would cost the Treasury $70 billion over five years.”
“‘It seems obvious that a great republic cannot sustain itself unless its citizens participate in their own government,’ Byrd said. ‘But how can they participate meaningfully if they don’t know the fundamental principles on which their government is founded?‘” Senator Robert Byrd introduces legislation that requires federal workers to learn more about the Constitution. I’m all for the principle — in fact, I strongly believe in more civics education in public schools — but, by the time people start working for the government, it’s probably a little late. Still, no harm, no foul.
By way of a friend of mine, the Dubya education department gets busted subsidizing conservative commentator Armstrong Williams for good press on NCLB. I mean, really, wasn’t Fox News enough?
“We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” As Brown v. Board turns 50, segregation persists, such that America’s schools are now barely as integrated as they were in 1969. Let’s get it together, y’all.
So last Thursday at the Film Forum, I caught Spellbound, the new documentary that follows eight young contestants through the National Spelling Bee. It was gripping in its own way (although some of the tension was dispelled by the fact that I’d improbably seen this particular spelling bee on ESPN during my DC days, and thus knew who ended up winning), but also very, very hard to watch at times. Most of these kids (particularly the girls from Texas and Pennsylvania) had their hearts in the right place, but some of them were at such a socially awkward point in their development that everything they do on screen ends up being cringeworthy. Then, of course, there’s all the blatant stage parenting going on, which runs the gamut from supportive to smothering, if not downright disturbing (For example, one poor kid has 5000 starving Indians weighing on his conscience – if he doesn’t win, they don’t eat.) Perhaps my biggest problem with the documentary is that, though it’s emphatically a crowdpleaser, it also clearly encourages us more often than not to laugh at these people rather than empathize with them. There was just something a bit off-putting about watching a theater of would-be New York sophisticates guffaw at the often clueless-seeming small-town parents and teachers that populate the film. Other than the first contestant’s father, who illegally immigrated to Texas from Mexico to find a better way of life, most of the adults are used solely as comic relief. It might have been more interesting in the end to pare down the number of contestants followed to five or six and then give us a more multi-faceted look at their daily lives. But, like I said, Spellbound is still strangely compelling at times (C-O-M-P…), and might be worth a look if you catch it on IFC one day.