Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some Post-Election Commentery

      I have to say, I wasn’t too surprised by the outcome of the recent election. In a previous posting, I predicted the outcome of every race correctly except for one. I believed Kathy Haigh would go down in defeat — and she almost did — winning by a very slim margin.
      However, it was the vitriolic nature of comments by some of the right-wing conservatives that I found to be the most disturbing — especially after an observation I made about 26th District Senate challenger Marty McClendon. The bottom line was, the predictions were my observations on the probable outcome, and the forces that would drive those outcomes — NOT endorsements. Even after making this point several times, some of these pinheads simply couldn't figure that out, vilifying me for daring to make predictions that disagreed with their ideology.
That said, the biggest disappointment was the defeat of I-1082. This should have been a no-brainer for any thinking voter with a single shred of common sense. All anyone needed to do was look at the money funding the “No” effort — state employee unions and trail lawyers. Opponents of I-1082 outspent the “Yes” campaign by over $2 million, circulating blatant lies designed to confuse and frighten voters. In fact, KING 5’s Ad Watch series specifically called out the “No” campaign’s ads as false.

And who stood to benefit from its defeat? How coincidental — elitist state employees who’ll get to keep their overpaid jobs, and trial lawyers who make their living suing the state — which for the morons out there who voted against I-1082 and never connected the dots — that’s you and me.

The positive outcome was the unprecedented team effort on the part of the business community, which along with its sponsor, the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), built a unique coalition of thousands of individual businesses, business and trade associations like the National Federal of Independent Business and the Association of Washington Business, and institutional giants like Boeing, which contributed $100,000 to the campaign. It was heartening to see them join with small businesses to publicly support an initiative.

I-1082 was endorsed by 11 newspapers, including liberal titans like the Seattle Times, and Tacoma News Tribune, along with the Spokesman Review, Wenatchee World, Yakima Herald, and the Everett Herald. The Wall Street Journal editorialized in support of I-1082, lionizing BIAW for getting the measure on the ballot. Even the usually liberal Kitsap Sun, supported it. 

However, its defeat underlines the raw power of blatant lies used in negative advertising paid for by big union money with an agenda.

The same held true of I-1100. While opponents — again the state employee unions — knew they would most likely lose this populist issue, they backed a competing initiative, I-1105. They knew when voters are confused, they generally vote "No" on both. And that was the simple intention here.  

I also find it highly offensive that state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler blatantly used the power of his office to help defeat I-1082, regularly issuing press releases trashing the initiative that coincided with other intentional disinformation being distributed to the media. I also think its patently wrong for him to be issuing official statements from his office to the press, like one recently praising the decision of four governors, including our own Christine Gregoire, to file a brief in federal court supporting Obamacare. 

If Mike Kriedler private citizen wants to do these things, that’s certainly his right. He can do them on his own time, and not use taxpayer resources to advance his personal political agenda. However, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler doing so, is nothing more than a violation of the public trust.

I strongly believe the PDC should fine Kriedler heavily and make him compensate the state treasury for the entire cost of his arrogant political transgressions.

Speaking of blatant political lies… the fact our state Supreme Court ruled about a decade or so ago that prohibiting outright lying in a political campaign would violate the First Amendment, has done a major disservice to the voters of this state. 

Imagine the outcome if Christine Gregoire and/or Patty Murray had to actually tell the truth about Dino Rossi and his business dealings, or if the I-1082 and I-1100 opponents couldn’t lie about what those issues were actually about.

 As it stands now, isn't it only a matter of time before some crackpot candidate publicly accuses a political opponent of infidelity, being a drug user, child molester, or something worse, and such a story grows legs because the morons posting anonymously in the local blogs with impunity, run with it?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Concerned About The Quality Of Education?

If you're not, you should be, and here's why...

This video was produced by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim — who is far from some wild-eyed, whacko, right-wing, anti-government crusader. In fact, he’s best known for his work with Al Gore in producing An Inconvenient Truth.

The inspiration for Guggenheim's latest film, which is described as "following a handful of promising kids through a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth,” stems from his personal experience driving past three public schools as he transported his kids from his home in Venice Beach, Calif. to their private school every day.

Guggenheim takes viewers on a highly disturbing tour of “academic sinkholes” and “drop-out factories" — painful, albeit accurate — descriptions that fit all too many public schools in Washington State. Those terms are a direct reflection of our state’s 30+ percent drop-out rate, where in some districts, half are minority students. This film explores the purely political limitations placed on the number of charter schools allowed in states like ours, where  parents are forced to place their kid’s names in a lottery, so random drawings can determine their educational future. The most touching moments in the film are those depicting the heartfelt disappointment on the faces of the lottery losers.

And this should really scare you... While well over half of our entire state budget is devoted to education, Governor Gregoire’s education commission found for the first time our high-priced education system is producing a generation of students less educated than their parents.

The film acknowledges that high-quality teachers are essential to student learning — a conclusion firmly supported not only by educational research, but common sense. And while educational advocates continually push for increased funding — usually in the form of higher taxes — no amount of dollars will matter if teachers aren't held accountable for our kids actually learning.

Waiting for Superman is a very strong and clearly stated indictment of the role unions play in keeping  our kids shackled to substandard schools. Given the power of the teachers’ union in this state, making that point  takes some extraordinary courage.

It goes without saying teachers' union officials didn't take this harsh criticism too well. Mary Lindquist, head of the Washington Education Association (WEA), the state’s most powerful teachers union, was quick with a venomous response, issuing a dictate to parents, teachers and school board members on exactly how to view this film. She notes that Washington already allows innovation schools — but she fails to point out the "inconvenient truth" that out of 2,250 schools, there are only five statewide. According to Lindquist, those five schools prove there’s no need to end our state’s ban on charter schools.

Meanwhile, Washington’s more than 100,000 private and home-schooled children generally receive a higher quality education, yet receive no public money. Charter public schools, if or when they are allowed in Washington, would offer the rest of our kids the same opportunities.

Waiting For Superman is showing at the Historic Orchard Theater in downtown Port Orchard beginning on Friday, Nov. 12. If you have kids, you owe it to them to see it.

Monday, November 01, 2010

A Very Thought-Provoking Video

This clip has been sent to me by several people, and I thought it was worth sharing. It's quite thought provoking, about what it means to be an American and why.

It's about 9 minutes long, and well worth your time.