Selfish Hedonism

Is alive and well in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District where Representative Brad Miller was attacked by Vernon Robinson for not having kids

Soon after winning the GOP primary in the 13th District in May, Robinson mailed literature to more than 400,000 households portraying Miller’s voting record and personal life as being out of the mainstream.

Among many other things, the literature calls Miller a “childless, middle-aged personal injury lawyer.”

Miller said he was “stunned” by the letter.

“I think that should not be part of what you agree to take on if you want to be involved in politics — that kind of personal attack without any basis,” Miller said.

Miller said his wife of nearly 25 years, Esther Hall, could not bear children because she had endometriosis and then a hysterectomy at age 27 before the couple were married.

I believe Robinson sinks to being more despicable than Keyes on this one. I can’t wait for the commercial suggesting Miller shouldn’t be having sex with his wife since they can’t procreate. You’ll notice that Keyes standard was that in principle a woman and a man can procreate so it’s okay if a sterile married couple have sex. In this case, the plumbing was removed so it’s hard to tell how that fits the idea of being in principle.

The Fountain of Bad Ideas

Roeser’s little empire of personal pet peeve pushing is far more connected to much of the right wing crap brought up in this state. Case in point is the recent kerfluffle in District 214 over novels deemed pornographic by a few well organized angry folks.

How well organized? Check out one guy quoted in the Daily Herald, The Pioneer Press and Tribune as if he were just another resident (misspelled his name).

Resident Bruce Pincknell was one of the few who supported Pinney’s plan, saying that teachers promoting the books were motivated by their own progressive social agendas.

And from the Herald:

Bruce Tincknell, a former Prospect High parent, read an excerpt from the book, omitting some terms he felt were too inappropriate.

“This is unacceptable to many of us,” he told those in the room. “We want better.”

Pioneer Press

Arlington Heights resident Bruce Tincknell said although he does not have children currently attending District 214 schools, he is concerned about the content of the required novels.

Tincknell said he has read The Perks of Being a Wallflower and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, as well as excerpts from the list of books.

“When I read some of the excerpts, it concerned me as a parent, as a taxpayer. It’s quite outrageous. I can’t see any literary value,” he said prior to the board’s decision.

Who is Tincknell?

He’s a Board of Director at the Illinois Family Institute

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The IFI Board of Directors consists of:

Dr. John & Dena Koehler (Chairman)
Dr. Gary & Mary Draper
Mrs. Virginia Nurmi
Dr. Don & Sandra Helfer
Mr. Bruce Tincknell

This is a case of the Right Wing Wurlitzer continuing the efforts to make a controversy out of something where the community doesn’t find anything controversial. I don’t blame the reporters since Tincknell, Pinney and the others affiliated with IFI and Roeser probably set it up to get exactly this kind of coverage, but it is something to watch out for.

It gets better, his affiliations go unmentioned in other articles where is more of the focus. In one from the Herald on February 12th,

“It’s branded Paul Simon. It is an institute representing the Democratic Party,” said Bruce Tincknell, a former District 214 parent who’s heading up Citizens for Quality Education, a watchdog group focused primarily on District 214 goings-on. “It’s more than a name.”

He’s also in a December 3rd article challenging the current superintendent in relation to his record in Stevens Point.

Funny, the guy shows up talking about public education funding and ‘family values’, two of Jack Roeser’s hobby horses, but he never is identified as attached to Roeser affiliated groups.

Now to Erin Holmes credit, she does identify Tincknell on April 1, 2005 as

Meanwhile, Illinois State Board of Elections records show Jack Roeser, head of the Family Taxpayers Network that endorsed Pinney, made a $12,000 contribution this week to Mount Prospect-based “Just the Facts,” a group headed by Tincknell.

This was during the election which Pinney won.

The point here being the amount of noise from a small number of people is awfully loud and this ought to be pointed out more regularly.

Thank God for Jack Roeser

It certainly shows God has blessed us with humor.

From the new Political Radar column at the Family Taxpayer Network we learn that Bill Brady isn’t donating $50,000 to Jack Roeser, and Roeser is pissed because:

Jack Roeser personally contributed the lion?s share of funds to make the incredibly successful petition gathering effort possible. Jack is merely calling on his fellow Republican ? another wealthy man ? to carry his weight. Jack is asking that the donation go to the independent Protect Marriage Illinois, not to FTN as a reimbursement. As everyone knows, there is still work to be done to ensure that the Referendum stays on the November ballot.

If there is a stupid conservative idea in Illinois, it’s probably funded by Roeser. Now the standard has become if you don’t donate to a Jack’s pet peeve and don’t try and burn down the party, you are spoiler responsible for Oberweis’ loss.

It has to be really nice to be rich enough to pay enough people to run your personal pet peeves around the state and have them attack everyone else.

Matt Drudge, Douchebag

Referencetone has it–I’ll link after the all clear sign, but here’s the text

On CNN a couple of minutes ago, Dana Bash reported on a new message that went out to locked-down Rayburn HOB staffers over the loudspeaker detailing how they can be sure that the person knocking on their office door is a police officer as opposed to, say, a gun-wielding madman. Bash wisely decided to withhold some of the details just in case a gun-wielding madman happened to be watching CNN and was curious how to make frightened office-dwellers open their doors to him. Enter Matt Drudge:

Lou Dobbs Cites Council of Conservative Citizens

I actually don’t think Dobbs is racist–his taken on trade seems to be authentically about the impact on the American Middle Class even if I disagree on both issues. However, there is no excuse that CNN ran a graphic sourced to the Council of Conservative Citizens. The Council is a bunch of knuckledragger racists who are polluting the gene pool with low IQ.

For those who might not remember, I had a run in with a local CofCC assclown a couple years ago who took issue with being called a White Supremacist by sending me this

Earl “I’m not a white supremacist N***** Lover” Holt used to do a radio show with the operational head of the CofCC every Friday night here in Saint Louis. It wasn’t thinly veiled racism on the show either. When I got Earl to confirm he sent the e-mail on the air, he said he called a Spade a Spade. Scheer has the full updates on CNN’s reaction, but they really need to take it more seriously and apologize.

Put the Obama ‘08 Bit To Rest

Rich brings up Sweet’s column on Obama supporters wanting him to run in 2008. I started to comment in the thread, but realized I was writing enough to just make a post out of it.

The logistics of running make it impossible to do this early. Getting strong organizations in place in Iowa (unless Vilsack runs–then there won’t be a serious effort there), New Hampshire, and South Carolina is a lot harder to do than just declaring. Especially Iowa and South Carolina are heavy organization states so they aren’t something you just jump into. That no one has mentioned that over at Capitol Fax comments points out the problem with taking the internet too seriously.

He’s doing the right thing though and building up a strong political organization early and making those contacts he’ll need for a later run. One thing to remember is that Edwards was shunned by many of his colleagues because he ran after one term–all of his relationship building would be for nothing. Depending on how 2008 goes that leaves 2012 or 2016 the later date only puts him at 55.

Governor is probably out. Think about the line for that in the Democratic bench with Hynes and Madigan leading it up. Sure, he might be able to win, but it would create more hard feelings than consolidating a base. And as Sweet points out, he’s built up a hell of a national political machine.

2008 will be crowded field with the following probably running
Mark Warner
Joe Biden
Evan Bayh
Chris Dodd
Hillary Clinton
John Edwards
Tom Vilsack
Bill Richardson
Wesley Clark
Tom Daschle
John Kerry

Maybe he takes VP in some circumstance, but running against seven of his colleagues with less than 4 years of experience as the campaign starts, makes it too difficult. Being VP would allow him to burnish his foreign policy credentials–something he’s doing a great job on already working closely with Dick Lugar on non-proliferation issues.

Bush Joins Congress on the Crazy Train

Ed Kilgore attacks Hastert and Pelosi for their indefensible fight over Congressional Privilege trumping a legal warrant.

I know there’s a (weak) constitutional argument here, though I have a hard time believing that Hastert and Pelosi really think that the doctrine of separation of powers prevents a court-ordered seizure of documents unrelated to any legislative activity after a subpoena has been ignored. If they do, they’re endorsing a degree of complete immunity from law enforcement rarely seen since Thomas a Becket claimed that Henry II had no jurisdiction over criminal clergy (or at least since the last Bush administration ukase about the president’s imperial powers over national security).

Look, it can’t happen without the other two branches agreeing to it. There is no immunity from prosecution in the Constitution and there shouldn’t be.

Sealing those records for 45 days is an absurd decision from a guy who can’t be bothered with going to a court to listen to Americans on the phone.

There isn’t anything to negotiate. If there is a valid search warrant, the Executive nor the Legislative branches have immunity from the law. Of course there was no warning–we don’t call crack houses and tell them the police are on the way over do we?

If breaking the law includes using one’s position as a Member of Congress, than the records of that Member are fair game. Members of Congress have one special protection in terms of the law and that is they may not be detained on the way to session. That is all. Otherwise they are citizens and subject to the same rules.

One Year, They Are Children, the Next They Are Defending Their Country

One of the more amusing aspects of the effort to block 7 books from the classroom in District 214 is that according to Pinney, students shouldn’t be reading “The Things They Carried,” but yet they are old enough in a few months to go to war. Slaughterhouse 5 is based on Vonnegut’s experiences as a 22 year old man watching the bombing of Dresden. The Trib does a good job describing why such movements are stupid

And no one swears in the army. Or real life.

Masturbation is another theme Pinney worries about. There really is nothing to worry about, teenagers figure it out before reading a book mentioning it.

Looking at the agenda, and the links from the IFI page, one can look to this page of a group with similar goals to Pinney

Note that they have refused to review any of the Shakespeare works because, it’s different. Really. Sure, for dumb students who can’t figure out what he was talking about. At best Shakespeare is simply better at letting the individual draw inferences with their imagination. Unless you expect students to NOT THINK about what they are reading.

Fascinating selections for books they disapprove:
A Separate Peace
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
Of Mice and Men
Lord of the Flies–a fairly accurate depiction of life in Junior High
In Cold Blood
Hot Zone
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Heart of Darkness
Catcher in the Rye
All the Pretty Horses

To beat a dead horse, the idiots like LaBarbera and others have built up an incredible infrastructure to challenge anything outside of their narrow ridiculous views of the world. These fights aren’t random, they are choreagraphed exercises in wearing down standards.

I think my constituents think I am entitled to it

I’ve seen some quotes that strike me as out of touch, but this fits the all time ones for tone deafness

The current aldermanic salary is $98,125, though not all council members accept that much. Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th), for example, has chosen to forgo some past pay increases, and collects $82,000 a year. Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) accepts the full amount but donates about $7,000 of his salary annually to local charities.

I might suggest that increasing salaries by 20% in a period where anger at incumbents is high and there are multiple corruptions scandals going on is a bad idea.

A Couple Other Options for Funding

While it’s possible the Governor might get his basic funding scheme through, I’m assuming it won’t work like he’s proposed from the financial end. If that’s the case, then how can one look to utilize similar tools to achieve some of the ends in the program.

The reality is the lottery has always been a shell game so figuring out how to dedicate it to an educational source means dedicating it to a specific program. This also means that whether the lottery is leased or maintained by the State Government or a chartered government body those funds might not need to be steady, making upfront payments less odious for long term results.

Specifically, I’m thinking of Art Rolnick and Rob Grunewald’s proposal to create an endowment in Minnesota that leads to a more parental choice oriented Early Childhood Education system. Instead of direct funding in a program like Head First, an endowment fund can provide funds to families who need help and help to accredit the early childhood care and education providers to ensure all programs receiving scholarship funds are high quality programs.

The endowment would allow for both private contributions and federal matching money while also getting a start from the state. If a lease of the lottery was taken all upfront, then the money could be put in the endowment and produce future returns. Using such a system, not all that different from the $650 million annuity idea, one could make a strong case a lease has a positive effect on future budgets.

Realistically, the above won’t mean a $10 Billion payday because the lease would be more limited, but it might reduce the overall need for funds by building in public-private partnership and federal government matching funds.

A similar endowment could be started with a text book revolving fund as well, though the public-private partnership wouldn’t be the same. Further making both ideas more attractive to me is that the endowments would be given a mission and then could implement it according to technical criteria, not upon the horsetrading for school funding in the Lege.

Finally, an endowment for a construction fund could be created as well. One of the complaints of Republicans in the Lege regarding the funding. What about modifying the above and making this an argument for moving the lottery dollars to specific educational uses and then, while I’m still skeptical, sell it in a similar plan to what the Governor has proposed and create the above funds, a Construction bond issue, and then an annuity that can go longer than 2024?

Increases in the foundation formula and special education spending would have to be found elsewhere, but we also end the shell game of the lottery and a more sustainable situation could be created.

It’s not that state assetts are being utilized to provide more revenue, it’s killing the future value of those assetts that puts the state in tough long term financial conditions. The problems have been occurring for years so blaming Blagojevich for the basic problem is silly, but as I said nearly 4 years ago on this blog, he’ll probably keep it up. Some of the above changes could improve the situation slightly, but still means we don’t have enough for schools that are in trouble.

Illinoize Articles on the Lottery Sale

Yellow Dog Democrat offers up a good criticism of the plan from a political point of view, and Cal has a good story on making Policy legal.

I think the funding is dead on this deal. The seven year license for the British lottery by YDD makes some sense, but I’m not sure it improves the state’s financial status that much.

He also mentions Georgia’s case of a semi-public institution to run it, but Georgia also created a new program with its lottery that specifically dedicated the funding to that program stopping the shell game. What might be salvaged out of this plan on the financial end is to look at either the British or Georgia case for potential savings (I have no idea on either subject honestly) and then dedicate the funding to
1) Revolving text book fund

and then perhaps moving towards all of the lottery money going into dedicated funds for different school purposes that aren’t existent now reducing at least the shell game aspects of lottery deals (and yes, Cal is correct, the lottery wasn’t started to fund education)

The problem is that the alternative to the Blagojevich plan doesn’t exist and until then, the programmatic end is important and right now, the focus is on the funding. Not a trivial matter by any means if one wants to continue funding schools, but it obscures important points about serious issues in education. That someone is talking about them is important in itself.