Sunday, March 30, 2008

Required Reading

Like Frank Rich today, I'm beginning to think that the real story about this year's endless campaign is how completely incompetent HRC's handlers proved to be. It's like a no. 1 team losing to a no. 16 team because of lousy coaching.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nature, Red in Tooth, etc.

SmileyCentral.comI was out interviewing yesterday afternoon, but O and Paul were home to witness a hawk barreling out of the sky and nailing one of our chickens. Paul had let the flock out for the second time this spring, and I guess they just were too thrilled to be on high alert.

Right now, I'm watching a wild turkey with an injured foot pick his way across the lawn. Although he's quite a bit bigger than the hawks, I would say his days are numbered.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Selection

Choosing a supt is occupying much of my time, and I've been thinking about how similar the process is to choosing a candidate for office. How difficult it is to appeal to such a wide audience without damping down one's personality! How impossible it is really to know someone in such artificial circumstances! Yet we muddle through, and eventually a choice emerges from all the muddle, and then we all move on, having affected a few lives directly and from hundreds to millions indirectly.

I have to admit that my main thought throughout is "I'm glad I'm not the one on the hot seat." There's a lot of courage involved, I think, just to put oneself through this grueling process.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Training the Deer

Paul went out with a bucket of corn for the chickens this afternoon, and the deer came running toward him over the hilltop. We were all rather surprised. They do love corn, although it's not particularly good for them.

I'm of the opinion that now they are pets and cannot be hunted.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Required Reading

Frank Rich on why the Dems had dem-well better get their act together:
Whatever Mrs. Clinton’s or Mr. Obama’s inconsistencies about how to wind down the war, they are both models of coherence next to Mr. McCain. He keeps saying the surge is a “success,” but he can’t explain why that success keeps us trapped in Iraq indefinitely. He never says precisely what constitutes that “victory” he keeps seeing around the corner. His repeated declaration that he will only bring home the troops “with honor” is a Vietnam acid flashback recycled as a non sequitur.
But read the whole thing, because he's on to something important about the HRC campaign as well.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good News for Dryden

Simon has good coverage of Dave Makar and Jason Leifer's coup, a fulfillment of Dave's campaign promise and a real boon for Dryden. He also notes the sour quote from our County Legislator, who not only wasn't beating the bushes to get this done for the town, but frankly doesn't seem to have done much of anything since he was elected.

Sadie and Her Siblings, 5 Weeks


Geese flying north, a handful of robins, and a dusting of snow on the mountain.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Religion and Politics

Obama gave a history-making speech yesterday in which he addressed us all as if we had a modicum of intelligence. The speech was about race in America, but it was also about religion, or rather the religion that takes place in churches. (Note: It's about 37 minutes plus!) The religion that takes place in churches affects politics in Dryden at all levels. Our team's losses in the village election last night ensure that a radical religious right component endures in Dryden's government at all levels save the town board (this year, anyway). By rrr, I refer to folks for whom politics tends to begin and end with the products of pregnancy.

To be fair, I have never particularly noticed that this bias affects the work of the people in office. After all, County Legislators don't appoint Supreme Court Justices. Village Trustees have little to do with stem cell research. School board members, although they may register complaints, cannot unilaterally determine what is taught or what books are used.

Nevertheless, in small town politics, elections are typically more about popularity than about real-life issues, and that being the case, bloc voting becomes a very successful tool. Our usual methods of party politics--door-to-door, signs, advertising, letter writing--cannot defend against the stealth politics of candidates with a built-in following.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Village Election

Villagers in Dryden have an election today. It's easy to forget to vote in the middle of March, but here's hoping we have a decent turnout.

Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothin' Left to Lose

Free market: any market where buying and selling occurs without governmental restrictions or interference

Economic growth supported by free trade and free markets creates new jobs and higher incomes. It allows people to lift their lives out of poverty, spurs economic and legal reform, enhances the fight against corruption, and reinforces the habits of liberty. --from the GOP Platform, 2004

Between Tuesday, when financial markets began turning against Bear Stearns Cos., and Sunday night, when the bank disappeared into the arms of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Washington policy makers, federal regulators and Wall Street bankers struggled to keep the trouble from tanking financial markets and exacerbating the country's deep economic uncertainty. --from the Wall Street Journal today
'Nuff said.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bird of Prey

This is a Reeve's pheasant. Pretty, isn't he? Our Reeves is a guy who's full of personality. If you go near the cage, he comes out, struts, and clucks at you. If you go in the cage, as Paul has learned, he may attack. The first time this happened, he knocked Paul to the ground and gave him a minor concussion. This time, Paul put up his arm to block the attack, and the bird put its talons through his wrist. We'll find out later whether the wrist bones are broken; Paul can't move the arm today. I think the Reeves may soon be set free to explore the landscape on his own. I'd place bets on him vs. the coyotes, but I could be wrong.

Nader Hands Election to McCain

Zogby makes it pretty clear that McCain is now ahead in either matchup.

Friday, March 14, 2008

It'll Be OK, Really It Will

As folks scramble to reassemble the state government prior to a budget deadline of April 1, I received a long missive from the only lobbying group with which I'm affiliated, NYSSBA:
Politically, we can anticipate a continued collaboration between local school leaders and a new Paterson administration. Lt. Governor Paterson has a long and distinguished history of working with school boards and in support of public education. As you may recall, he is a past recipient of NYSSBA’s Legislative Leader of the Year Award. We expect that despite the current economic and political climate, the new governor will continue to seek information and assistance from NYSSBA and its members.

For now, local school leaders can take some comfort in the stability of having an individual with legislative experience, and a collaborative political style taking the reigns of state government. As you continue local budget preparations, know that the legislature’s intentions of restoring key elements of the Executive Budget proposal, such as School Resource Officers, BOCES aid and high tax aid, as well as their rejection of burdensome proposals (such as a shift in the cost of high cost special education) should be undeterred by these latest events.
It's always a little alarming when a group associated with education has trouble with commas and doesn't know the difference between homophones (reigns/reins), but it's equally maddening that they assume they know the legislature's intentions and are telling us to rest assured.

Here are the facts: There's not enough money to cover the Governor's budget, let alone the Assembly's additions. This is a giant shell game that could easily result in our finding that expected aid is removed halfway through the year. It has happened before--predictably after the November election. Is this any way to run a state?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sadie and Her Sister, Age 4 Weeks

Conspiracy Theory

The integrity of our criminal justice system rests on the notion that we investigate crimes, not people.
This interesting article in the New Republic explores the targeting of Spitzer.
The story emerging around the fall of Eliot Spitzer suggests that the case did not start with the report of a crime. Rather it started with a decision to look into Spitzer and his financial dealings. In the course of an open-ended investigation, information about a prostitution circle surfaced. That looks abusive. An investigation like that provides no basis to acquit Spitzer. But it suggests that when his case is done, the public should be pressing some tough questions about why this investigation was launched and pushed forward.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day One: Everything Changes; Day Three: The Tragic Flaw

Farewell to Eliot. He resigned ten minutes ago, Silda by his side.
So farewell—to the little good you bear me.
Farewell? a long farewell to all my greatness!
This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hopes, to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honors thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls as I do.
--Henry VIII, Act 3

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Applicable to NY as Well

Elizabeth sends this:

How Could You Do This to Me?

I woke this morning with one of those painful guts you get when your personal life is in a turmoil. It's hard to be this disappointed in someone I've met only twice in my life--but I liked the guy, and I really liked his wife, too. And although I absolutely feel that we delve way too far into the private lives of public figures, I also feel personally betrayed in a way that's bizarre and reminiscent of how some people (not I) felt about Bill Clinton.

The worst part is the thought of Joe Bruno, whom I really believe to be a villain, serving gleefully as Acting Governor whenever David Paterson is out-of-state.

This image of the ticking time bomb that was Eliot Spitzer is enlightening, though not comforting.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Your Tax Dollars at Work, Part 2

Well, I'm glad I removed my Spitzer bumper sticker last month. Jeez.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

SmileyCentral.comThe Syracuse Post-Standard continues to be one of Central New York's few real newspapers, with reporters who actually research and report on news that actually affects the lives of Central New Yorkers. Sunday they reported on the fact that our legislators protect union workers in group residential homes by insisting that the facilities in which they work stay open, despite the fact that there is no one there to serve. Here's a report on the center in Auburn:
Two girls live in the 20,000-square-foot, 24-bed center.

Twenty-five state workers care for them.

By Wednesday, the center will be empty; the girls will return to their families.

But the staff will remain. Rather than teach, counsel and supervise residents, staff members fill their days taking inventory, moving equipment around and catching up on training, acting director Jennifer Hunter said.

Auburn's story is far from unique. Across the state, staff at juvenile detention centers outnumber residents by double digits.
Paul has long been convinced that a simple accounting for waste could eliminate the state's deficit. This article is one step toward that, but only if the legislature listens.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Required Reading

I spoke of wanting to write my own false memoir, but this thoughtful opinion piece by Daniel Mendelsohn has talked me out of it.
That pervasive blurriness, the casualness about reality that results when you can turn off entire worlds simply by unsubscribing, changing a screen name, or closing your laptop, is what ups the cultural ante just now. It’s not that frauds haven’t been perpetrated before; what’s worrisome is that, maybe for the first time, the question people are raising isn’t whether the amazing story is true, but whether it matters if it’s true.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Superintendent Salaries

As we dive into the supt search, I found this table of salaries useful. The average supt salary in NYS is a little over $150K. I've heard taxpayers get irate because they imagine we're paying our supts over a quarter of a million. As this chart tells you, that's just not true. On Long Island and parts of Westchester, yes. But not in Central New York.

Here are some statistics that are adding to the difficulty of hiring superintendents:
60% of superintendents in NYS are expected to retire within the next few years. That trend is already affecting Central NY. That means a lot of searches are happening at the same time as ours.

Although superintendents in previous generations began work in their 30s, today more are in their late 40s to late 50s before they start their superintendencies. That means that they expect higher pay and intend to put in fewer years.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Required Reading

Favorite conservative pundit David Brooks on how Obama's new tough act is a losing strategy.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Why We Don't Want This to Go to the Convention

Let's hope FL and MI come up with a plan to retally their votes or hold a caucus or something clever that allows their primary votes to be counted. The alternative appears to be Calvin Coolidge.

Latchkey Child

We're entering the season in which O is abandoned by her parents, who must attend endless budget meetings. It's compounded by our superintendent search, which calls for eight meetings on just that topic over the next three weeks. Not that she cares--American Idol's on!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Big Bear Hugged One

Then there were two. Huckabee's out, and McCain gets a bye. . . all the way to the convention, while his opposition battles to exhaustion. This may be good for democracy, but it absolutely sucks for the Democrats, who will spend all their money and energy surviving until August while McCain cruises and looks Senatorial.

I don't think GW's endorsement today does him a helluvalot of good, though. Every thinking voter remembers 2000 and is not fooled.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Fake Memoir Biz

Call me crazy, but I love stories about fake memoirs. There's something fabulous about pulling the wool over so many people's eyes for so long.

I'm ready to write my own fake memoir, but I'm torn. Should I be the abandoned love child of a famous politician? the estranged ex-nanny of a lesser British royal? the secret lover of a deafmute Colombian hitman? And what about my addictions? Heroin and India ink? Robitussin and Quaaludes? Bronchodilators and Vagisil? Should my Big Adventure involve a late conversion to Jainism or an early rejection from Harvard Medical School? So many choices, so few publishers. I have several outlines in the works right now!

Primary Day, Again

If I were a betting person, I'd say today will tell us nothing. HRC and Obama will split the delegates, and we'll be no closer to a conclusion than we were yesterday.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Isabella Meets Hillary

Bill sends this from Ohio, where his cousin is accompanying HRC on her pre-primary rounds. They saw her in a school gym in Akron that was only partly full.

Required Reading

Krugman, as usual, exactly captures my pessimism:
If Mr. Obama secures the nomination, the honeymoon will be over as he faces an opponent whom much of the press loves as much as it hates Mrs. Clinton. If Mrs. Clinton can do nothing right, Mr. McCain can do nothing wrong — even when he panders outrageously, he’s forgiven because he looks uncomfortable doing it. Honest.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Equal Time for Hillary

From a Rob-Reiner produced video exclusively on the Internet:

Obamarama, en Espanol con Vietnamese Subtitles

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, PL

Today, all three of us have ages that are prime numbers. The next time this will happen is on March 1, 2014. The next time after that will be March 1, 2034. The only time it's happened before was between March 1 and November 1 of 2002.

Sounds like an SAT question, doesn't it? But I won't make you guess our ages--unless you want to do so.