Monday, July 28, 2008

Obama Abroad

Sooo....what does one make of Obama's recent world tour? You can view it much in the same way as McCain and his supporters: Nothing but a feeble, transparent attempt to upstage McCain while trying hard to look as though he knows something about foreign affairs. Or one can view it from the Obama camp: A very presidential looking candidate doing what all future presidents should do-continue to learn as much as possible while introducing foreign leaders to the guy who will be the most important person in the world for at least the next 4 years.
As in all things the truth lies somewhere inbetween. But you have to admit, he did conduct himself pretty well. Yeah, yeah, all those Germans who turned out to listen to him aren't voters but the people who do vote were watching and possibly thinking 'Geee, maybe we finally have someone who isn't going to be held in utter contempt by the rest of the world thereby bringing about an era of international cooperation and progress.' or not.
One thing's for sure. McCain's reaction to the whole thing lacked class and substance. The best he could do is criticize Obama for going to the gym instead of visiting wounded troops. Come on, Mac. You can do better than that-or can he?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

McCain, Merit Pay & Education

Jumping off the front page of The Wall Street Journal Thursday reads the following headline: McCain Outlines His Education Plan…. The sum and substance of this plan is pretty much the same as what Republicans have been saying ad nauseam for the past several years, to wit: there should be merit pay and a publicly funded voucher system. To the second I say no way. Strengthen the public schools. Don’t destroy them. The issue of merit pay, however, is a tad more complicated. Having served in public education for over 30 years, I will be the first to say that in all of my years I have known my share of colleagues who were quite simply not getting it done and it annoyed me a lot that they were making as much as me who was getting it done. And yet, I can’t support McCain’s program for merit pay because the whole thing is tied to test scores. Here’s the theory the Republicans love to put forward: Education is a business. As in all businesses, your compensation is based on your performance, right? Therefore it follows that if you perform satisfactorily (according to test scores), you’ll be justly compensated. If you believe that, I've got some property in New Orleans I'd like to sell you. Here’s the problem: The basic premise is wrong. That’s not at all how it works in the private sector. Think of all the people you know who were forced into retirement or who otherwise got shafted by their companies for reasons entirely different from performance-poor or otherwise. So let’s cut the bull and tell the truth. Second, the reason why merit pay won’t work is because there are certain significant segments of our society who simply do not value education. What’s a teacher supposed to do about that? Is that in his/her control? On top of that what about the significant number of students who don’t or barely speak English? Do you seriously expect them to be able to pass a test? Look, there’s no question there are people who simply do not belong in a classroom. Fine. Get rid of them. Fire their butts and let them work at McDonald’s. Then, those who are left can continue to do the fine job they’re doing for however much the pay scale they’re on dictates.
Like much of what we’ve heard from McCain, his ideas are poorly thought out and overly simplistic. He is more interested in pandering to the republican base than finding genuine solutions to complicated problems.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

No Place Like Home

The recent issue of Money magazine features its annual "Best Places to Live" article. In spite of the long scientific explanation of how they arrived at their conclusions (crime rate, education, environment, cost of living, etc), I'm always surprised at some of the places they've chosen. For example their Number One place to live in the entire USA is Plymouth, Minnesota. Now, before I start hearing from all you fine folks in Minnesota (like they're going to see this!), I'm sure it's a grand state & I'm equally postive that the three days a year you have summer are beautiful, but let's face it. The rest of the year is COLD-even colder than here in beautiful New England. At close to $5 a gallon for fuel oil, that does it for me.
Another thing I noticed is the relatively high number of places in the top 50 that are in Texas. Again, no offense, but I've been to Texas-several times and in several locations. Without going into unnecessarily graphic details, just let me say, I'll stay here, thank you.
There were very few places in New England that were on the top 100 list-probably due to cost of living. Some in Mass. and one in CT but that was it. I recall just a few years ago Danbury, CT was the number one place. What happened in a few short years that it didn't even place in the top 100? Oh, well. As Dorothy said, 'There's no place like home'.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Who Needs Enemies??

I don't care where you stand on the political spectrum. You've gotta be feeling sorry for McCain and Obama. First, Obama's religious affiliations do a number on him. Then, McCain's religious guys come along & do the same for him. Next, McCain's chief economic advisor calls us a nation of 'whimps' and finally in this morning's paper is a picture of the cover of the latest New Yorker magazine-a publication I always considered to be fairly classy. The picture is of Obama dressed in Arab attire and his wife dressed like a terrorist. OK, it's supposed to be satire but who will really see it that way??
With friends like this, who really needs enemies?? And, hey, here's the good part. It's only just begun!!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Time to Play

Anyone who spends time on a regular basis with grand children knows that you're going to be doing things that you haven't done in a long time-or ever. For example when I spend a day with my 4 yr old grand daughter we play games. Her favorites are school and doctor-especially doctor. With few exceptions, her dolls (she has several at our house) are the patients. Sometimes I'm the patient but we haven't done that in a while. The ususal procedure is that I'm either the doctor and my grand daughter is the doll's mother or she's the doctor and I'm the nurse. We play out the whole thing to the extent that the room where we spend most of our time together becomes the waiting room. All the dolls are seated on the couch and I ask an imaginary nurse to call them in one at a time. Their complaints cover a wide range of ailments which is all carefully explained to me by my grand daughter. Some just need routine check-ups along with shots. We use smiley stickers as band aids to cover the point of injection. Sometimes they have fevers and illnesses or sometimes they'll need tubes inserted in their ears. The latter is a much lengthier procedure. My grand daughter has tubes in her ears herself & it's amazing how much of the procedure she remembers. For example if I don't administer the anesthesia correctly, I'm sternly reprimanded! Another interesting thing about all of this is that when it comes time to give the shots, she says I have to ask the nurse how many. I mention that since I'm the doctor, wouldn't I be the one to make that decision and she says well if I don't like what the nurse says, I can ignore her. I usually end up giving about 4 shots with a toy plastic hypodermic needle in her medical kit. This goes on until she tires of the whole thing and abruptly switches games. That's the other thing. You have to be ready for fast transitions. One minute we'll be playing doctor and the next I'm a child sitting on a cloth circle at school having a story read to me be my grand daughter who has instantly become the teacher. Her name is always Miss Amy and I'm always Keila. Sometimes I get in trouble and I have to go in the closet for time out. I asked her if that happens at her school and she said no and I know it's not a term her parents use so where she got that is anyone's guess. This goes on for quite a while until it's time to have lunch or we go outside. Even when we go outside to the swings and slides, the games will frequently persist. Often the dolls are loaded into strollers or toy shopping carts and hauled to the play area. Sometimes I'm the teacher watching them play or other times I'm one of the students. Then, we'll suddenly switch and play hide and seek. This goes on for pretty much the whole day.
Another dimension to all of this is when the younger grand daughter is with us. She isn't quite two, but she already likes to play doctor. She says doctor and goes to the medical cart and puts on the stethoscope. She puts it against my back but if I don't put my shirt up, she gets very annoyed. Then she takes deep breaths as though she were the one being examined. Then I get the inevitable shot. I'm sure as they get older, I'll be treated to new experiences that I barely remember from when my children were little. It's great fun. Check back for more stories.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Obama for President

When you cast a vote for Barack Obama, you will be voting for:

-The end of our involvement in the civil war of another country

-The end of ‘good ol’ boy’ Washington politics

-The end of a bunch of hypocritical Republican windbags trying to tell the rest of us what to do all in the guise of ‘American Values’

-The end of Supreme Court nominees who put the Federal government and corporations ahead of individuals

-The end of unfair taxation

-The end of a Republican created national deficit

-The end of a staggering display of arrogance and indifference to the international community

-The beginning of tolerance and fair play

-The beginning of responsive government

-The beginning of economic prosperity that will not be at the expense of the poor, young and aged.

Now if you vote for John McCain, you’re voting for basically:

-Four more years of Bush/Cheney policy.

How’s that been working out?!? Enough said!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, USA

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”

The person who penned the above words, Abraham Lincoln, was speaking of the deadliest battle in American history-The Battle of Gettysburg-fought July 3rd, 4th & 5th 1863-exactly one hundred forty five years ago. It was during the same year that Lincoln freed the slaves. Today, for the first time, on this two hundred and thirty second birthday of the United States of America, a black man is running for president. Slow progress for sure but progress nevertheless. Just don’t look too hard at the email forwards making the rounds these days or the websites being created or listen to carefully to the Rush Limbaughs and Patrick Buchanans or the Al Sharptons and Jess Jacksons of the world. These are people who can’t get past that first layer of skin on a person. Shallow thinkers, indeed. One would hope they’re the exception-not the rule.
Happy Birthday, America. Long may you endure.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Oil, oil everywhere......

I heard Newt Gingrich speak the other day about oil shale, off shore drilling and ANWR. Shortly after that I rec'd an email forward from a friend of mine regarding the same issue but focusing on ANWR. With the price of gas going up, up and away there is more and more discussion on how the tree lovers and bleeding hearts are blocking our poor nation's quest to be energy independent by prohibiting drilling in the above regions. Junior has added his two cents to the discussion as well (See my blog #58 on, blog spot; G's Place).

OK, now listen up all you Democrat bashers & anti-environmentalists. I'm only going to say this once. Even if we were to drill a hole in every square foot of American territory, including coastal regions, and even if we mine every ton of shale we have, there are a few things to keep in mind:
1. It will be AT BEST 10 years before one single drop of oil finds its way to market.
2. And when that happens there is absolutely no guarantee that your gas tank will see one drop of that oil unless of course you propose nationalization of the industry. That should get the Republicans shaking!
3. Even if your gas tank does actually see some of that oil, it's a temporary fix, at best.
4. The solution is CONSERVATION and intelligent use of what we DO have, i.e. 30% sugar based ethanol, hybrid vehicles, coal to diesel fuel, nuclear energy, etc.

Got it?? Now quit whining about the Dems and tree huggers and get back to work!