Happy HalloweenPosted by Craig Westover | 5:34 PM |
Eat, Drink and . . . . Rally!
The following quote was emailed to me from a reader --
"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."What do you think? Agree or disagree with Roosevelt's "welcome" for immigrants? Floor is open.
Theodore Roosevelt 1907
One of the statistics I've asked Bob Moffitt of the American Lung Association to defend, a challenge he has consistently avoided, is "3,000 annual deaths from lung cancer due to secondhand smoke." Bob has not produced a study supporting that number, nor has he stated how this number is arrived at. I got tied of waiting, so I did the research myself -- in the interest of accuracy, somebody has to understand what Bob himself can't articulate.
This is why I’ll never land a job as spokesperson for a politician. Here’s the text of President Bush’s reaction to Harriet Miers withdrawal from Supreme Court consideration.
Today, I have reluctantly accepted Harriet Miers decision to withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.As a communicator, it’s that third paragraph I couldn’t live with. It’s unadulterated crap and worst of all, everybody knows it’s crap. At least if you’re going to put out crap, try something that isn’t so obvious -- perhaps “Harriet Meirs withdrew to pursue other interests” or “to spend more time with her family.”
I nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court because of her extraordinary legal experience, her character, and her conservative judicial philosophy. Throughout her career, she has gained the respect and admiration of her fellow attorneys. She has earned a reputation for fairness and total integrity. She has been a leader and a pioneer in the American legal profession. She has worked in important positions in state and local government and in the bar. And for the last five years, she has served with distinction and honor in critical positions in the Executive Branch.
I understand and share her concern, however, about the current state of the Supreme Court confirmation process. It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel. Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional separation of powers and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her.
I am grateful for Harriet Miers' friendship and devotion to our country. And I am honored that she will continue to serve our nation as White House Counsel.
My responsibility to fill this vacancy remains. I will do so in a timely manner.
Interesting . . . .
Tax Foundation News ReleaseCategory: Tax Policy
For immediate release
Contact: Bill Ahern (202) 464-5101
State and Federal Tax Collectors "Profit" More from Gasoline Sales than U.S. Oil Industry, Says New Analysis
Washington, D.C., October 26, 2005 — With Members of Congress calling for new “windfall profits” taxes in response to high gas prices, the Tax Foundation has released a new analysis showing state and local treasuries have collected more gas taxes in recent decades than all major U.S. oil companies’ profits combined.
“Over the last two decades, gas tax revenues have far outstripped the domestic profits of the largest U.S. oil companies,” said Tax Foundation President Scott A. Hodge. “While oil industry profits are highly volatile from year to year, gas tax collections are not, and are currently near historic highs.”
Several bills have been introduced in Congress, including the Windfall Profits Rebate Act of 2005 (S. 1631); the Gas Price Spike Act of 2005 (H.R. 2070); the Consumer Reasonable Energy Price Protection Act of 2005 (H.R. 3664); the Gas Price Relief Act of 2005 (H.R. 3752); and the Recapture Excess Profits and Invest in Relief (REPAIR) Act of 2005 (H.R. 1809).
The new analysis shows that in recent decades, state and federal governments have “profited” far more from the oil industry than companies have, raising up to seven times as much in gas taxes in some years as the largest U.S. oil companies have collectively earned in domestic profits.
“Governments have collected $1.34 trillion in gas taxes since 1977,” said Tax Foundation Staff Economist Jonathan Williams. “That’s more than twice the profits of major U.S. oil companies during the same period.”
Profits of U.S. oil companies have been highly volatile in recent decades. Between 1977 and 1985, oil industry profits averaged $33 billion per year. But between 1986 and 1995 they averaged just $12.3 billion. In the last decade, profits have ranged from $9 billion to $42 billion per year.
“As lawmakers respond to rising gas prices, they should keep in mind that state and federal gasoline taxes fund road construction. For that reason, they enjoy broad support as justifiable taxes, support that they would lose if the tax were raised as part of some other social or economic policy,” said Hodge.
The Tax Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that has monitored fiscal policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937.
From the Governor's Office --
I'm going disguised as a health impact fee. Any other suggestions?***MEDIA ADVISORY***
Governor’s Residence Open for Trick-or-Treating October 31st
WHAT: Children are invited to wear their costumes and go trick-or-treating at the Governor’s Residence.
WHEN: Monday, October 31, 2005
Begins at 4:00 p.m.
Ends when all caramel apples have been handed out.
WHERE: Front gate of the Governor’s Residence, 1006 Summit Avenue--30--
A tip of the Sou’wester to Shot in the Dark via Bogus Gold for the tip that the Kommissar over at Politburo Diktat is putting together a blog family tree. As if going into the baseball Hall of Fame, I had to decide whose hat I was going to wear to declare my “blog father” -- Captain’s Quarters or Fraters Libertas. It was after my first appearance on the Northern Alliance Radio Network that Ed, Brian and Chad encouraged me to start a blog. With no slight to Captain Ed, my nod went to Fraters only because it was Brian “Saint Paul” Ward that extended the appearance invitation.
John Brandl (Opinion Exchange, Oct. 17) is wrong when he states that there are few "principled objections" remaining to giving poor kids the choice to attend private schools. Here are a few "principled" objections:So leads an opinion piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (via a comment by J. Ewing) responding to a column supporting school choice. As one reads through the author’s comments (“Rob Levine, of Minneapolis, is a website editor“), one is tempted to ask, “What doesn’t he understand about the word “principle”? Let’s take his objections one-by-one.
1 New studies, including ones from the federal government, have shown that students at charter and voucher schools do worse on standardized tests and have smaller academic gains than students who attend regular public schools.This is a hard objection to refute because the studies aren’t cited, so all I can say is I haven’t seen them. Regardless, this is an aggregate statement that camouflages individual situations. For example, in one area the public school might be “better” than a private or charter school. However, no one forces a parent to send his or her child to the private school. In another area, a private or charter school might be “better” than the neighborhood public school. However, in this case, the low-income family is required to send its children to the worse school.
2 Private and charter schools are much less accountable and reliable than public schools. In Milwaukee, which has the nation's largest voucher program, there has been no ongoing monitoring of private schools since 1995, though they got more than $83 million in public subsidy this year alone. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel series detailed the woes of voucher schools: "Based on firsthand observations ... at least 10 of the 106 schools ... appeared to lack the ability, resources, knowledge or will to offer children even a mediocre education. ... Nine other schools would not allow reporters to observe their work ... . " In Minnesota two charter school operators have been convicted of fraud. In California last year an operator of 60 schools also went out of business just as the academic year was set to begin.Again, I can question the facts -- Milwaukee schools are probably the most monitored in the country (or how else did the author obtain his “facts”?). When school choice proponents have requested more study, the education establishment has blocked it. Fraud in some charters -- yes, but have we forgotten from just a few years ago the millions of dollars that Minneapolis public schools could not account for? Again, however, I must ask, what is the principle that the author is defending? Certainly it is not a belief in free markets or the right and ability of parents to decide what’s best for their children? If there is a principle here, it is that government knows best and one government approach to education is better than a diversity of approaches generated from individual desires.
3 Vouchers force taxpayers to subsidize religious education, and parents don't choose the best academic school for their children, as voucher proponents assert. In Milwaukee, one conclusion of the Journal Sentinel's series was that, almost above all else, parents chose schools that matched their own religion or chose the school closest to their homes.We’re getting closer to defining the principle that has only been hinted at before -- parents don’t choose the best academic school for their children -- so government must do it for them. (I’ll ignore the author’s misreading of the establishment clause, which is a principle.) Rather make that some parents don't choose correctly -- parents that agree with the author choose correctly; parents that don't choose like the author are wrong and must be forced to make the correct decision. Is that really the principle the author wants to defend?
4 The voucher push is part of a larger national movement to destroy teachers' unions and expose the $500 billion spent annually on public primary and secondary education to private profit. Republicans are trying to destroy teachers' unions because they are one of only two remaining sectors of the U.S. economy that are heavily unionized. If conservatives can destroy the teachers' unions they will help to defund a primary constituency and funding source for the Democratic Party.This is an amazing lack of understanding of what one is actually saying. The author lambastes Republicans for making a political move to counteract a political stronghold of Democrats. What’s the principle at stake here? It seems the author’s concerns is that private profit is bad. No mention of what is best for kids. It’s also interesting to note that while teachers’ unions, a Democrat interest group, opposes school choice, families of color, another Democrat interest group, strongly favor school choice. The internal conflict of interest groups is indicative of interest-focus of the Democrat party and the lack of a unifying principle of action. Ironically, John Brandl is a Democrat in the traditon of Hubert Humphrey.
5 There aren't enough private schools to offer choice to all students. Roughly 90 percent of all students attend regular public schools. Efforts to rapidly create new private schools have led to corruption and disruption around the country.Again, not a principle nor a fact, but a fear. The first statement is correct, but I’ve seen no voucher proposal that does not include phased implementation. More to the point, the Hann-Buesgens bill proposed in the last legislative session provided transition funds for school districts to compensate for families that elected to use vouchers at private schools. Under the current system, the school districts receive no compensation when a child leaves the district whether for private school or a public school in another district. Again, I can’t comment on a study that is not referenced.
6 Public schools have endured withering budget cuts over the past decade while simultaneously forced to deal with more social ills. Public schools must accept all who come to their doors, while private schools are free to reject difficult-to-teach or handicapped children. In Minneapolis alone tens of millions of dollars have been cut from budgets over the past few years, while new unfunded burdens, such as conformance with the Orwellian-named "No Child Left Behind Act," have been foisted on it.Sooner or later the “public schools accept everybody” deceit will be put to rest. As I noted in my column on the Al-Amal school and in this post, “taking everybody” and “adequately educating everybody” are two different things. To varying degrees, private schools do take handicapped kids, kids with severe behavioral problems and maintain a diverse population including children whose families are not native English speaking people. They educate them without the extraordinary expenditures of public schools. When “the dollar follows the scholar,” economies of scale kick in and private schools will have the economic incentive and ability to not only “take” but also to educate special needs children.
According to Brandl, objections to the facts that voucher students do poorly academically, that voucher schools are unaccountable and unreliable, and that taxpayers are already underwriting religious education aren't principled. I'd like to know what "principles" allow Brandl to ignore these unpleasant voucher facts, and to brand his ideological opponents as unprincipled.I think the author’s column speaks for itself. Brandl is not equating “unprincipled” with some connotation of intentional “evil.” He is simply noting that opponents of school choice really have no fundamental foundation for their arguments beyond "big government knows best" (except, it appears, when it is controlled by Republicans). School choice, on the other hand, is based on free market principles, individual choice principles, and the principle that individuals of all economic levels have an unalienable right to pursue their own version of happiness including the education of their children.
Sometimes, just letting people talk and make their case is the best way to illuminate the fallacy of their argument.
In order to improve bus transportation safety and quality, school board members in Minneapolis and St. Paul are considering whether to increase fines for poor service and whether to give the district more flexibility to shift service away from poorly performing contractors. They would also insist that bus companies allow employees to have a bare minimum of sick time so drivers would not have to choose between driving while not at their best and being able to pay their rent or feed their children.I’m not sure I understand, but it seems to be, given what Dibble writes about First Student, that school districts did not do their due diligence or make a very wise choice when it comes to selecting student transportation. Instead of taking shots, justified or not, at the company providing the service, why not state the obvious -- somebody in the school system isn’t doing his job. What other tools do they need besides good judgment?
All of Minnesota's school districts should have these tools to best manage their school bus systems and successfully evaluate contractors, because our kids deserve the safest, highest quality and well-functioning bus transportation service that our tax dollars can provide.
I’ve received a bit of email on my column from Wednesday describing Al-Amal, an Islamic school located in Fridley, some favorable, some critical -- not necessarily critical of Al-AMAL school, but of my position that a public education system based on school choice would support religious schools. A specific paragraph of my column read --
While public education preaches multiculturalism, public school policies and the environments they foster are antithetical to the diversity they preach. Reaction to a lack of discipline and moral values in government schools, intolerance for the overt observance of Islamic practices and a lack of academic rigor are major reasons why Al-Amal was founded 11 years ago, why it is thriving and expanding, and why it provides a model for a genuine "public education" system for students of all faiths and economic levels.Government schools constantly defend themselves when compared to private schools like Al-Amal with the mantra that unlike private schools, public schools take everyone. Public schools promote multiculturalism and diversity. But what good does it do to “take everyone” if a school cannot meet everyone’s needs? What is the value of diversity if it is only skin deep and people are not allowed to practice the traditions that make them unique?
Susan Miller approached Ayesha Syed, the mother of two new Muslim students at Porter Lakes, and tried to explain her reasoning for adamantly and outwardly opposing a presentation Syed gave to the students about the Muslim culture. . . .Okay, so far so good. One would think that such a presentation, given that Muslim children would be attending the school would be a good thing. The presentation might help integrate some of that prized diversity and answer questions the kids might have about a culture that they hadn’t been exposed to. On the other hand, the objecting parents made some good points.
On Sept. 30, Syed and her Muslim friend, Ameenah Abdullah, came to the school to talk to a second-grade class and the entire third grade about the Muslim culture.
The presentation, for students who are the same ages as Syed's children, was intended to answer questions about the Muslim culture. The women talked about religion because it is heavily intertwined with the Muslim culture, and that upset many in the Porter Lakes community.
The majority of speakers vehemently opposed religion in the public school setting. Michelle Colvin said her son had questions for her about Allah that caught her off guard. She said she should have been notified of the presentation in advance.These are not trivial issues. Whether for better or worse, we’ve secularized public schools and there’s a zero tolerance attitude on that point. Fact is, even if it wanted to, a public school could not cater to all religions and still run any semblance of an educational institution. It’s only right that one religion not be granted special favors. BUT -- if that is the official policy, then public schools shouldn’t go claiming they take everyone when they can’t meet everyone’s needs, and they shouldn’t self-righteously proclaim they promote diversity when they deny the diverse practices of minority groups.
Miller touched on another hot issue surrounding the Muslim family -- the creation of a prayer room at the school for the Muslim children, which school officials will not confirm -- and demanded fair treatment for all faiths.
"If they're going to cater to one religion, they better cater to all of 'em," she said and asked for an altar to be added for her Catholic son.
Miller's speech, the first of more than a dozen, garnered an applause and an "amen" from the standing-room-only crowd. In an interview before the meeting, she said, "I'm not prejudiced, but I do have a concern when it comes to Muslim people."
Jamye Matlon, the mother of two children at Porter Lakes, said that religion -- not race -- was the issue.
"You're more than welcome to come to my school, black, white whatever," Matlon said. "But don't start asking for special favors, especially bringing religion into it."
Basit Syed, the father of the Muslim children, said the intent of the presentation was to help the children understand the hijab, or Muslim head scarf. He was worried about other kids teasing his 9-year-old daughter, Khadija.Why cannot money already budgeted to provide a free “public education” for a student follow the student rather than be funneled through a one-size-fits-all infrastructure? Why can’t education dollars follow a student whether that student attends a government school, a private school or a religious school? Just what are the education elite afraid of?
"I don't want her students, her classmates, not to make fun of her," Basit said. "I want her classmates to respect her. That's the only thing they both came here to tell the students, the kids."
I do believe in serendipity.
BOB WISE, PRESIDENT OFWise makes sense, right? Especially if like I do you agree with his analysis. Reading is not emphasized nearly enough in upper grades, nor are reading assignments nearly challenging enough. However, Wise doesn’t provide enough data to statistically support his claim that test scores have not improved.
THE ALLIANCE FOR EXCELLENT EDUCATION,
REACTS TO MINNESOTA’S 2005 NAEP READING SCORES
Washington, D.C., October 19, 2005 – According to the 2005 “Nation’s Report Card” released by the U.S. Department of Education today, Minnesota’s 8th grade students’ reading scores average the same as those of the 8th graders who took the test two years ago. Governor Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, observed:
“Reading is the heart of learning, and Minnesota and the nation are in the literacy emergency room showing a flat line on the education EKG. The state’s results clearly demonstrate that we still are not doing what is needed to help these older students build the reading skills they will need to deal with increasingly complex high school courses. Twenty percent of Minnesota’s 8th grade students are reading significantly below grade level and they are most likely to drop out of high school or graduate without the skills needed to succeed in college or the workplace.
“For the most part, we stop teaching our children how to read when they leave third grade, and expect that they’ll continue to expand vocabulary and comprehension skills on their own. That’s like a builder laying the foundation of a house and leaving the buyer to put up the walls and roof without help. The investments made in early grades to teach our kids to read are critical, but we must continue to intervene throughout their school years to assure that they are maintaining and expanding the literacy skills that are so necessary for success in life.”
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as "the Nation's Report Card," is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Today, results of the 2005 reading and math assessments were released, with national and state-level scores for students in grades 4 and 8.
If my good friend Mr. Moffit were on the ball, in answer to my challenge to him, he’d be touting a new study by the California Environmental Protection Agency that anti-smoking ban blogger “Marcus Aurelius” posted on his Clearing the Air blog. Unlike Bob’s American Lung Association blog, those that oppose smoking bans are not afraid to post opposing views or address the questions they raise.
The relative risk is a measure of the relation between exposure to a substance and the incidence of a disease. A relative risk of 1.0 indicates no relationship.What you’ll note in these statistics is that with the exception of the relative risk for SIDS (which is irrelevant to the smoking ban in bars and restaurant debate), all of the relative risk factors hover under 2.0. You’ll also note some extremely large ranges in some categories -- 400 to 1,100 lung cancer deaths in California are ETS-related. No baseline data is given for this figure, but what those numbers mean is that out of some larger population -- all Californians or just adult Californians -- one might expect to see 400 to 1,100 additional lung cancer deaths that are ETS related (which is also undefined). The extrapolation made is that the entire state is exposed to second hand smoke in the same quantity as the subjects in the unidentified studies from which the small relative risk number was derived. That is a pretty big assumption.
For ETS, a relative risk estimate of 1.2-1.7 for heart disease mortality in nonsmokers is supported by the collective evidence; this corresponds to approximately 1,700-5,500 deaths annually in California.
The relative risk estimate of 1.38 associated with low birth weight implies that ETS may impact fetal growth of 1,600 newborns in California.
It is estimated that at least 31,000 children in California experience one or more ETS-related asthma episodes (new onset or exacerbation) each year.
Large impacts are also associated with relative risks for respiratory effects in children such as middle ear infection (RR ≈ 1.62) (about 50,000 children annually), and lower respiratory infection in young children (RR ≈ 1.5 to 2) (18,000 to 36,000 children annually).
ETS exposure is implicated in 21 SIDS deaths per year in California (RR ≈ 3.5).
About 400 to 1,100 lung cancer deaths in California are ETS-related. For nasal sinus cancers, observed relative risks have ranged from 1.7 to 3.0. This is as high as or higher than the relative risks observed for lung cancer.
Finally, for breast cancer, when evaluating younger, primarily premenopausal women at diagnosis, a pooled risk estimate of 1.68 isderived in the meta-analysis, and when restricted to the studies with better exposure assessment, an estimate of 2.20 is obtained (see Table 1). These estimates of association could represent a significant number of cases as this is a relatively common cancer in women.
Adding the mid-point of the ranges for lung cancer deaths and heart disease deaths, and including the SIDS point estimate, one can attribute about 50,000 deaths per year in the U.S. and 4,000 deaths per year in California from ETS-associated disease. This does not include the estimates for other ETS-associated cancer deaths.
Relative risk estimates associated with some of these endpoints [the data quoted above. ed. note] are small, but because the diseases are common and ETS exposure is frequent and widespread, the overall impact can be quite large.That conclusion is a misleading interpretation of the statistical significance of relative risk. Low relative risk factors -- certainly those below 2.0, and in the scientific community those below 3.0 to 4.0 -- generally are not taken as statistically significant evidence of causality. Relative risk factors at those levels indicate that other factors are likely contributors to the effect being studied. Attributing causal significance to relative risks below 2.0 gets one to the factious conclusions that drinking coffee and talking on cell phones poses a greater risk for heart disease than second hand smoke.
In today’s Star Tribune, Katherine Kersten (to mix a metaphor) gets to third base, but hesitates to go all the way on the Viking Scandal.
Minnesotans are expressing shock at the alleged sex party on Lake Minnetonka. Fans are disgusted. Politicians are outraged. The Vikings can kiss a new stadium goodbye. But I've noticed something. Everyone sputters with outrage, but no one really articulates why. When pressed, people generally mutter something about the Vikings being poor role models for our kids.Second base --
We sense something is disastrously wrong with such lascivious conduct. But in America in 2005, we've lost the language to say exactly what. The players and women involved were apparently consenting adults. And consenting adults can pretty much engage in whatever sexual activities they want, right? For decades, enlightened free thinkers have worked to drill this into our heads.Third base --
It's time to speak the truth. Nothing happened on those boats that many of our teenage boys haven't already seen repeatedly on the Internet, where the raunchiest porn is a mouse-click away. Our 14-year-old girls have heard jokes about oral sex and masturbation on "Sex and the City," maybe watching with Mom. On cable TV shows such HBO's "Real Sex," explicit sex acts are regular fare. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that "virtual" pornography that portrays life-like children in the most degraded acts is protected "free speech."So far so good. Kersten’s right. Most people start out commenting on the Vikings’ cruise with something like “I’m not a prude,” to affirm their “hipness” credentials, but then quickly move on to “but I find what the Vikings did disgusting.” Kersten hits that one solidly, but stumbles a little rounding second. She gets it right -- “The players and women involved were apparently consenting adults. And consenting adults can pretty much engage in whatever sexual activities they want, right?” -- but between the lines she really means “wrong.” She makes that clear as she slides into third with a run down of the evils of society. It’s almost a liberal argument -- The Vikings are not to blame; it’s society’s fault.
In many taxpayer-financed sex education classes, our kids learn that sex is a matter of lifestyle choice. You decide when you're ready, and then have sex whenever and with whomever you want. Just make sure it's safe sex.
Minnesotans' reaction to the Vikings' sex-capades may be muddled, but it's heartening. At some level, we still revere the dignity - the sanctity - of sexual love. Occasionally, our residual sense of decency can still rise to the surface and shout its outrage.Shouting outrage is like arguing with an umpire. It's not going to get us home. Nor is faith in “residual decency.“ Kersten never refutes the straw man question she sets up at the very beginning of the piece -- “consenting adults can pretty much engage in whatever sexual activities they want, right?”
"What Schools Should Teach About the Constitution." Part One
Monday, October 17, 2005, 7:00 - 8:00, P.M.
"What Schools Should Teach About the Constitution." Part Two
Monday, October 24, 2005, 7:00 - 8:00 P.M.
Metro, Cable, Television, includes:
Afton, Andover, Anoka, Apple Valley, Arden, Hills, Bayport, Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Burnsville, Centerville, Champlin, Chaska, Circle, Pines, Crystal, Columbia Heights, Coon Rapids, Dellwood, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Falcon, Heights, Edina, Farmington, Fridley, St.Louis Park, Golden Valley, Ham, Lake, Hopkins, Inver Grove Heights, Lake Elmo, Lakeville, Lauderdale, Lino Lakes, Little Canda, Mahtomedi, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Medicine Lake, Mendota, Mendota Heights, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Mounds View, New Brighton, New Hope, Newport, N. St.. Paul, Oak Grove, Oak Park Heights, Oakdale, Osseo, Plymouth, Ramsey, Richfield, Robbinsdale, St..Croix Beach, Shorewood, So. St. Paul St. Anthony, Spring Lake Park, St. Louis Park, St. Paul, Stillwater, St. Paul Park, Vadnais Heights, West St., Paul, White Bear Lake
Other Minnesota local access channels will air the EdWatch Eidsmoe presentation as their scheduling allows.
Usually a troll in the comments of any blog posting anything about smoking bans, Bob Moffitt of the American Lung Association Minnesota Chapter has been noticeably absent from the Internet since declining to discuss smoking bans on the AM1280 The Patriot, thus in silence making his strongest defense of smoking bans. Apparently Bob has found a media more to his desire for opponentless presentation. This from a reader --
Yesterday the local branch of the American Lung Association called my house. A pleasant-sounding young woman asked whether I would add my name to a petition congratulating Peter McLaughlin for the Hennepin County smoking ban in eating and drinking establishments.Key points -- the ALA campaign is intended to sway mayoral candidate Peter McLaughlin, who’s torn between a personal recognition that the smoking ban is causing many bar and restaurant owners economic harm and a politician's concern that smoking bans seem like a good idea to the majority of the public. Note the reader’s comment that a year ago she would have agreed to sign the petition -- a year ago when she was not informed and had not thought about the civil liberties issues.
A year ago I probably would have said yes. However I told her no -- because I knew someone who owned an establishment that had been negatively impacted financially as a result, and I also felt this was an issue of civil liberties. I told her that I'm a nonsmoker and don't allow it in my house, but other people do need a place to smoke and socialize.
After the caller assured me that all opinions were respected and the conversation ended, I felt angry that taxpayers' or donors' money was being used in this politicized manner.
The Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition (TC4) will join similar organizations across the country on Friday, Oct. 14, to celebrate displacing more than a billion gallons of oil, which could produce enough gasoline to fuel 2 million cars for a year! The United States now imports approximately two-thirds of the petroleum it uses. At $68 per barrel, we are now spending approximately $300 billion per year for imported petroleum; about $200 billion of this is for the transportation sector alone.Update:
Secondhand smoke remains the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing as many as 62,000 nonsmokers each year.
Note the phrase "as many as 62,000." Any number less than 62,000 makes that a true statement. If 1 person dies of exposure to second hand smoke -- a person walks into a bar catches a wiff of secondhand smoke and rushes out into the street where he is hit by a bus, for example (Bob has never defined a "death from secondhand smoke") -- Bob's statement is true. The phrase also makes the number 62,000 irrelevant. Change the number of deaths to 100,000 and it doesn't change the validity of the statement.
A professional communicator should recognize the evasiveness value of the phrase "as many as." My only conclusion is that Bob is either a) intentionally misleading people, or b) he didn't recognize the evasiveness of the phrase, andas a professional communicator should revisit the study on which he based his statment and communicate a little more precisely -- especially as he is using these numbers to promote policies with economic impact on others.I really am curious how Bob arrives at his conclusion. Bob could start by defining a secondhand smoke-caused death, then perhaps explain the function that is used to reach that conclusion and supports the number. Isn’t that the job of a communications professional?
Mr. Westover,Agree or disagree, kudos to those that take the time to think before they comment. Thank you.
Just wanted to drop you a line to tell you how much I enjoyed your well written (not to mention correct) editorial on the role of government and attitudes of people to charity, in this case government assistance for heating bills. I then went to your website and read some of the comments and thought to myself how refreshing to not see the usual vitriol, just some well thought out arguments.
I've covered the Vikings since their inception. This boat party will go down as the dumbest move any group of players in any sport has made. At this point it is all alleged. There will be a lot of egg on the face of the media if it is not true. That has happened in the past. Some of the Vikings players are denying that anything happened like what has been reported.At some point the Mafia defense (What about all of the people we don't kill) just doesn't fly.
Wilf, who has gone way out of his way to treat his players well, seemed very embarrassed and upset about what happened when I talked to him Wednesday. He didn't want to comment further Wednesday, but I got the impression he is going to make sure this type of thing doesn't happen again.
While all the bad news was breaking about the boat ride, Vikings players Mike Rosenthal and Adam Goldberg were at Torah Academy in St. Louis Park, thanking the students for contributing to the Vikings food drive. They did a great job visiting with these young students, answering their questions and giving them a lot of good tips on how important it is to do well in school.
Most of the players who were on the charter boats also contribute so much to this community, so it is sad that this incident and some other things that have happened in the past divert the attention away from the good things Vikings players do.
Great institutional editorial in today's Pioneer Press.
Note: The genesis of this column is this post, which drew some interesting comments. Peg writing at "What If?" added her thoughts here. The column below owes credit to insights shared by readers.
EdWatch suggests the following questions be posed to school board candidates. The floor is open for discussion; the only caveat is we're not discussing EdWatch but the questions listed below. Are they relevant? Would they produce the kind of public education system this country needs? Should a school board memeber feel like he or she should have to answer these questions?
From a New York Sun editorial commenting on a recent settlement between the teacher’s union and the city calling for a 15 percent raise over four years plus a teacher’s retroactive bonus.
Such spending of taxpayers' money by the Bloomberg administration is going to have to be funded by New Yorkers who already live in an over-taxed city. It increases pressure for tax increases. Poor and middle-class parents can only be left wondering about the logic of a government monopoly in education and a union monopoly in teaching.I would agree. Increasing the number and diversity of educational opportunities for students also increases the number and opportunities for good teachers. The operative word is good.
. . . there are deeper issues that the contract fails to solve, like parental choice. In a sense it is possible to see the proposed contract as reducing pressure for at least some consideration of a system of vouchers, the one approach that would afford poor and middle-income families the kinds of choice enjoyed by wealthy parents.
Our own view is that a system of vouchers needn't be beneficial only to parents and their children - it could actually be beneficial to the teachers union as well. While a voucher system would drain some jobs and money from the public school system, it wouldn't remove the funds and jobs from education altogether. It would provide the teachers with a greater number of employers and plenty of opportunities to organize. Private schools would be competing with public schools for the teachers and students. It's hard for us to see how this equates automatically as a bad thing for teachers . . . .
Excuse me if I follow the conservative line that words, whether they appear in the U.S. Constitution or an institutional editorial in today’s Pioneer Press, actually mean something. Today’s lesson is adverbs -- a part of speech that modifies or describes a verb, or for those that endured a less-than-excellent middle school education, an action word. Perhaps an example will help. Take this sentence from today’s Pioneer Press --
An Xcel Energy spokesman says that many members of the World War II generation stubbornly pay their heating and electricity bills first, slashing from food and other critical budgets to do so.The adverb in that sentence is “stubbornly,” which modifies the verb “pay.” In other words, older people that grew up in an era when paying one’s debit was still honorable don’t just “pay” their heating and electrical bills; they “stubbornly” pay them.