Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Late July

Required Reading

David Brooks (this is an equal opportunity blog) on the most critical issue coloring America's future: the decline in educational attainment.
[The] populists are going to have to grapple with the Goldin, Katz and Heckman research, which powerfully buttresses the arguments of those who emphasize human capital policies. It’s not globalization or immigration or computers per se that widen inequality. It’s the skills gap. Boosting educational attainment at the bottom is more promising than trying to reorganize the global economy.

Monday, July 28, 2008

High Crimes

Bill sent this nice interactive Venn diagram from Slate, showing that all Bush-era scandals begin and end with Alberto Gonzalez.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

W. B. Strong 100 Year Parade

With Paul and O up at Kevin's wedding, I spent an hour this morning riding the Dryden Dem truck in a parade honoring the 100th year of Freeville's fire company. Dozens of fire trucks, cub scouts, and us. Oddly, as I walked back to my car, I ran into a former favorite professor and wife, who were looking for the festivities and happened to call to me from their car. Now he wants to interview me for a book he's doing, comparing students of today to students back in the olden days when I was in school.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Not Throwing in the Towel

A recent poll shows McCain gaining ground and even overtaking Obama in CO. It's worth checking out my Electoral Vote site for a closer analysis of recent polls. They have important things to say about why certain polls seem to be outliers.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Berlin Speech

I took a short break to catch Obama in Berlin--surely the only time ever that news organizations have covered live a speech by a candidate in a foreign country. It was an excellent speech, touching every base one would imagine--nukes, immigration, Afghanistan, torture, you name it. Rather brave, I thought, to use the phrase "Never again" in relation to Darfur, but the crowd loved it.

This campaign will go down in history for its brilliance, I think. Essentially, they have succeeded in creating a worldwide perception of Obama as president months before the election even takes place. If I were McCain, I'd just throw in the towel.

It's Like Buying a White Sofa

The picture doesn't do her justice. Sadie is striped all over with grease from her "follow-the-leader" game with one of the contractor's dogs under and around the machinery at the barn raising.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wildlife Conversation

PZ and P and I have had a nice three-way email conversation today about wildlife--I sent PZ that ridiculously sappy "lion reunion" YouTube that's been making everyone cry (me, too), and he responded with a nice shot of a stack of illegally trapped, endangered wolves in Ulanbaator, and then P chimed in with theories about the upstate deer population, and PZ opined that we should reintroduce wolves here, and cougar, and maybe tigers, and I sent him the dumb story about escaped buffalo in our region. It beats working. The dumbest story of all may be that NYS is seriously talking about starting a bear season here--all based on a small handful of wandering black bears seen in the area recently. Not even nuisance bears, mind you.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Rejection hurts. DZ and I can paper the walls with our various rejection notices, although nowadays the worst offenders are doing it via e-mail. I guess I would've thought a candidate for President from a major party could get just about anything published. Not so fast, says the NYT. The moral seems to be: (1) Come out first and (2) have something new to say. Of course, the McCain people see this as sheer pro-Obama bias. Maybe they should hire some new writers. DZ and I are often available. Oh, but we don't work for the Dark Side.

Guilty Pleasures

P and I took advantage of O's obsession with Avatar (and disdain for American superheroes) to steal away during the heat of the evening to see The Dark Knight, for once paying the extra to go to Regal instead of doing the cheap matinees at the Plaza. I thought it was muddily edited and about 30 minutes too long, but I admit that everyone's praise of Heath Ledger is based on more than the fact that he's dead. He was brilliant.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Required Reading

Both Friedman and Bob Herbert have important op-eds on energy this weekend. Herbert's is the more plaintive of the two:
When exactly was it that the U.S. became a can’t-do society? It wasn’t at the very beginning when 13 ragamuffin colonies went to war against the world’s mightiest empire. It wasn’t during World War II when Japan and Nazi Germany had to be fought simultaneously. It wasn’t in the postwar period that gave us the Marshall Plan and a robust G.I. Bill and the interstate highway system and the space program and the civil rights movement and the women’s movement and the greatest society the world had ever known.

When was it?

Now we can’t even lift New Orleans off its knees.

In his speech, delivered in Washington, Mr. Gore said: “We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet.”

Friday, July 18, 2008

Barn Raising, Part 4

A roof--and apparently, a logo (click on smaller pic)!

McCain's Flip Flops

We're all tired of the phrase "flip-flopping," but it's clear that the GOP is pulling it out and dusting it off again for 2008. Simon kindly sent me a useful retaliatory list of John McCain's flip-flops, which are many. I'll list just a handful; the list itself is well worth skimming. Thanks to Carpetbagger Media LLC.

#1. McCain thought Bush’s warrantless-wiretap program circumvented the law; now he believes the opposite.
#9. McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Hamas. Now he believes the opposite.
#16. McCain was against additional U.S. forces in Afghanistan before he was for it.
#27. McCain went from saying gay marriage should be allowed, to saying gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed.
#37. McCain said in 2005 that he opposed the tax cuts because they were “too tilted to the wealthy.” By 2007, he denied ever having said this, and falsely argued that he opposed the cuts because of increased government spending.
#63. McCain decided in 2000 that he didn’t want anything to do with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, believing he “would taint the image of the ‘Straight Talk Express.’” Kissinger is now the Honorary Co-Chair for his presidential campaign in New York.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Democratic Caucus

Our caucus in Dryden last night was well-attended, meaning that we had over 20 people, some of whom I hadn't met before. We chose Jason Leifer to continue as Town Councilperson and Joe Valentinelli to continue as Town Justice. No surprises, but nice to see new faces.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Italian Daily KAZ

Most of my foreign readers read this blog in English; most are brought by googling KAZ, which, as I've pointed out, seems to refer to a character in a widely played video game. However, some dude in Rome read a translated version of a piece on Maurice Hinchey.

Now You Can Feel Bad All Winter, Too

Last July's average cost of heating oil in Tompkins County: $2.72/gal.
This July's average cost of heating oil in Tompkins County: $4.66/gal.
For those of you keeping score, that's a 71% increase.

I've pointed out before that gasoline prices affect lifestyles, but heating oil prices could affect lives.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Down the Tubes, Out the Window

I don't consider us part of the investor class, but it's hard not to notice Wall Street when my SEPs and IRAs are losing as much as $10K at a shot. Should I jump? It's not far down.

Monday, July 14, 2008

About That New Yorker Cover

I'm not going to display it, because by now everyone on earth has seen it. My only take on it is that it's a fabulous example of why satire must have both a clear focus and a clear POV. The problem with the cover is that the focus of satire is NOT, as the editors claim, some right-wing loon; the right-wing loon is nowhere to be seen in the cartoon. The focus is the Obamas, and the POV, as far as we can tell, is that of the editorial board of the New Yorker. That is why they're in trouble, and why they should be. How easily the problem could have been avoided by placing the entire thing in a thought bubble attributed to that aforementioned right-wing loon.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Frontiernet Down

We had no Internet service all weekend--till about 15 minutes ago. I thought O would leap out of her skin.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Tomatoes, cucumbers, blueberries, and the wildflower meadow.

What She Said

I don't even have to write today, because Joan Walsh at Salon said everything I would have said.
Telling voters they have no place else to go, before he officially has the nomination, is not a winning strategy. That's what his people told Clinton voters. That's what they're saying about opponents of the FISA sellout. That's the line on those concerned about his "partial-birth" abortion remarks. It's arrogant -- up against the backdrop of Obama's big plans for an Invesco Field acceptance speech in Denver and a Brandenberg Gate extravaganza in Berlin, I'm starting to worry about grandiosity -- and it could backfire.
But of course, there's this:
Every time I wonder whether I can ultimately vote for Obama in November, given all of his political cave-ins, McCain does something new to make sure I have to.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What's Another Word for Spineless?

Hillary Clinton is a hero today, as is Chuck Schumer. Ditto Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, even John Kerry. Barack Obama? Not so much.

Democrats who voted YEA (may their names live in infamy): Baucus (MT), Bayh (IN), Carper (DE), Casey (PA), Conrad (ND), Feinstein (CA), Inouye (HI), Johnson (SD), Kohl (WI), Landrieu (LA), Lincoln (AR), McCaskill (MO), Mikulski (MD), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Rockefeller (WV), Salazar (CO), Webb (VA), Whitehouse (RI). It should be noted that at least three of those are being touted as VP possibilities.


Ordinarily, I get a couple dozen hits on this blog in a day, at least two of which are from relatives. Yesterday, in the space of two hours, I got over 800. That's cuz I linked to a CNN article about T. Boone Pickens, and shortly thereafter, CNN linked back to me and put DrydenDailyKAZ on their webpage. It was only there for a short while, but that was enough for 800 people to check in. Many of them took a look at the IJ letter to the editor I cited, which probably made their sitemeter go crazy, too.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Answer Is Blowin'

Someone wrote a letter to the IJ today warning us all of the "wind power mercenaries" who are trying to dupe us into investing in alternative energy. Now comes T. Boone Pickens with his Big Idea, the "Pickens Plan."

I admit being a bit fearful of privatizing utilities as Pickens prefers, but can it be worse than what we have now? This is one of those times when I wish I had a crystal ball.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Mowing the Lawn

A new skill!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

On Racial Justice

Stephen Carter graduated with me from Ithaca High School, where he was something of a cypher--a serious, studious fellow; the "new boy," having recently moved to Ithaca; neither fish nor fowl when it came to the mixed-up racial divide at that school in the 70s. Since then, of course, he's gone on to be our class's biggest success--a lawyer, professor, and respected conservative writer. He has written at length on the negative impact of affirmative action, a topic where I disagree with him (as I do on most topics), but one where I admit he has more specific knowledge than I. His memory of being rejected by Harvard when they thought he was white, only to be courted and wooed when they found out he was black, is certainly a cautionary tale. Today he writes about the disappearance of racial justice from our pantheon of moral causes and the need to bring it back. My only quibble with his premise is that I believe the critical issue of the great divide between rich and poor becomes clouded when you add race to the mix. Yes, income stratification is increasing in the African-American community, but so is it everywhere. Still, he's smart and always thoughtful, and I wish I'd paid more attention to him in high school.
For both parties, affirmative action represents a way to pretend to be doing something — what I have long called racial justice on the cheap.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Where Our Loyalties Lie

There's been such a lot of blather this holiday weekend about patriotism--who has it (McCain, for being shot down!); whose is suspect (Obama, for having a funny name!) Bill sent us the paired Internet photos of McCain in his fighter pilot uniform and Obama in a dashiki, as though costume were answer enough. We've been thinking a lot in our household about where our loyalties lie when times are bad. One of us feels that hard times require circling the wagons and creating a sustainable life. One of us feels that hard times require reaching out to effect change and assist the neediest. These are not particularly compatible ideals. Finding a balance between them is like walking a tightrope of razor wire. It feels, at times, like a battle between unthinking pessimism and unsupported optimism. But at least we agree, unlike, say, the White House, that these are indeed hard times.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Not a lot yet, but O pulled these from the little bushes Paul planted this spring.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Required Reading

Sy Hersh in the New Yorker on what's really going on between us and Iran. I attach a couple of tidbits, but I'd encourage you to read the whole thing.
Although some legislators were troubled by aspects of the Finding, and “there was a significant amount of high-level discussion” about it, according to the source familiar with it, the funding for the escalation was approved. In other words, some members of the Democratic leadership—Congress has been under Democratic control since the 2006 elections—were willing, in secret, to go along with the Administration in expanding covert activities directed at Iran, while the Party’s presumptive candidate for President, Barack Obama, has said that he favors direct talks and diplomacy.
[L]ate last year, in an off-the-record lunch meeting, Secretary of Defense Gates met with the Democratic caucus in the Senate. (Such meetings are held regularly.) Gates warned of the consequences if the Bush Administration staged a preĆ«mptive strike on Iran, saying, as the senator recalled, “We’ll create generations of jihadists, and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America.” Gates’s comments stunned the Democrats at the lunch, and another senator asked whether Gates was speaking for Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. Gates’s answer, the senator told me, was “Let’s just say that I’m here speaking for myself.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


At our annual lengthy reorganizational BOE meeting, we didn't so much reorganize as reaffirm. Anderson Young is again President; Russ Kowalski is VP. Committee assignments are much the same:
Policy Committee: KAZ, Brad Rauch
Safety Committee: Perry Dewey
Facilities Committee: Andy Young, Brian June, Brad Rauch
Audit & Finance Committee: Karin Lamotte, Chris Gibbons, Russ Kowalski, Jennifer Davis
DESPA Staff Development Committee: Jennifer Davis
TSTSBA Rep: Chris Gibbons with Brad Rauch alternate
Legislative Liaison: KAZ
Exempt Employee Negotiations Rep: Jennifer Davis
We discussed reformation of a Community Relations or Public Relations Committee (we all seem to want to be on that one) and decided to table restructuring of the Strategic Planning Committee until after we meet with our consultant in September.