CEAB Forum: Be There If You Care

This Monday, October 27th, the CEAB (Cranston Educational Advisory Board) will hold a School Committee Candidates Forum in Cranston. It will be at Church of the Ascension, 490 Pontiac Avenue (right next to the Auburn Library) at 7:00 PM. All current school committee members and candidates should be there.

As mentioned previously, the schools constitute more than 55% of our spending in Cranston and they are facing an unprecedented budget crisis. This is an opportunity to ask our elected officials how we are going to deal with the current deficit and still ensure the best possible quality education for our children in Cranston.

Palin Family Values

How do Republicans define welfare?

Palin stopped short of labeling Obama a socialist Tuesday, although she and others have previously called his tax policies socialist.

“I’m not going to call him a socialist, but as ‘Joe the Plumber’ has said, it looks like socialism to him,” she said of Joe “the plumber” Wurzelbacher.

The GOP ticket and their supporters have invoked Joe the Plumber numerous times ever since the Ohio man confronted Obama about his tax policy in an impromptu campaign moment.

Palin said Wurzelbacher is representative of “Jane the engineer and Molly the dental hygienist and Chuck the teacher.”

That’s sweet. Nancy the nurse is feeling a little condescended to, when millionaires start denouncing elites and trying to get us to worry about taxing people who make more than $250,000 a year. The Governor of Alaska is doing pretty well, worth about $1.2 million, but she still bills the taxpayer for time with the kids

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Gov. Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.
In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters’ 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

And this was a pretty splashy hotel room…

In October 2007, Palin brought daughter Bristol along on a trip to New York for a women’s leadership conference. Plane tickets from Anchorage to La Guardia Airport for $1,385.11 were billed to the state, records show, and mother and daughter shared a room for four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House hotel, which overlooks Central Park.
The event’s organizers said Palin asked if she could bring her daughter.

I’ll bet Sarah Palin didn’t even bring back any of those little soaps for the Alaskans. Really, if she wanted her kids to come along she should have paid for the plane tickets herself.

You can’t know what it’s like to be tempted if you’ve never been there. But if you want to make a reputation as a reformer you have to keep it clean. Otherwise you won’t withstand scrutiny, anymore than ‘Joe’ the ‘plumber’.

Colin Powell Supports Our Troops

Religious freedom is one of the fundamental principles of American civic life. We are Americans no matter how we worship, and we obey the law and when the time comes, we sacrifice…

Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan was a 20-year-old Stryker soldier based at Fort Lewis. He was killed last August in Baqouba.

Khan was a Muslim. And Powell made a correlation to the decorated Stryker Brigade soldier and Obama in context of negative Republican campaigning somehow insinuating that Obama is a Muslim.

In a moving statement, Gen. Powell posed the rhetorical question to Meet The Press host Tom Brokaw:

“I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.”

Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian.

But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.â€?

Politicians and talk show entertainers who like to talk tough from the safety of the US are not walking the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan trying to engage the population in fighting terrorists. When they disparage the religion of people we need to enlist as allies, they paint a target on the backs of our troops. They undermine pro-American Muslims, and they disregard the principles that Americans have lived and died for. They undo the efforts of Christian missionaries over decades and give ammunition to extremists who want nothing better than a religious war.

Colin Powell was speaking as an experienced soldier. When we have been hurt, lashing out blindly is not a strategy. There are violent extremists who have to be stopped. Bigotry against our fellow Americans and against a whole world religion is a dangerous distraction, and not in our best tradition.

Get Real

I wouldn’t ever want to be in Sarah Palin’s position on Saturday Night Live. She is consistently good on camera and came off as a good sport. If the heat had been turned up any higher she would pick up sympathy votes. She sure didn’t get the respect and deference her running mate thinks she is owed.

But a show like SNL is supposed to be a chance to humanize the candidate after a tough campaign of defining positions and laying out a platform. That’s what the candidate does when she is interviewed and answers questions. Sarah Palin hasn’t done that.

It’s true, she came in late in the race, but then she went into seclusion for emergency VP classes. Then she was interviewed by Katie Couric. It was not good. For the past few weeks it’s all been preaching to the choir at rallies. She’s extremely good at that.

The problem is that only dictators get to preach to the choir all the time while in office. Even a VP needs to be able to face opposition without resorting to vague patriotic sentiment or questioning the patriotism of her opponents. And a president needs to make her case to her own party, the opposite party, and other nations.

So going on SNL is kind of the lighter moment after the heavy stuff. But we haven’t seen the heavy stuff. Will she give some real interviews in the next two weeks? Nope. So all we have is her record. That’s fair game.

Ringers Part 3-Staying on Message

UPDATE 2011: Armstrong Williams is again in the news, this time for publishing his sermons on virtue, dissing gay rights, and allegedly getting much too personal with his male personal trainer. But before that, he was cited by the Federal Communications Commission for taking payola to tilt the news to favor the Bush administration.

“Although a small price to pay given the scope of Armstrong Williams’ deception, the fines were long overdue. Using taxpayer-funded propaganda to shape popular opinion is illegal, unethical and an insult to the public. Broadcasters who allow such propaganda on the air should be dealt with strictly and swiftly.

The Bush adm. was rotten with this kind of thing, and Williams had his career made as a black man who would propagandize for conservative causes. There’s no law against that, but there are laws against posing as a newscaster when you are paid to preach a party line.

BACK TO 2008: Elsewhere in disaster management, showing the coordination for which they are famous, FEMA made sure they controlled the message, scheduling a news conference without those pesky reporters asking annoying questions…

FEMA scheduled an early afternoon news briefing on only 15 minutes notice to reporters here Tuesday to talk about its handling of assistance to victims of wildfires that were ravaging much of Southern California.

But because there was so little advance notice for the event held by Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy FEMA administrator, the agency made available an 800 number so reporters could call in. And many did, although it was a listen-only arrangement.

At the news conference itself, some FEMA employees played the role of reporter, asking questions of Johnson — queries described as soft and gratuitous.

“I’m very happy with FEMA’s response,” Johnson said in reply to one query from a person who was an agency employee, not an independent journalist.

And did you know that our tax money went to make commercials for the Bush adminstration disguised as news? So we can see on the ‘news’ what a heckuva job they are doing. Pretty circular, huh?

Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government’s role in their production.

Sometimes the administration uses real people instead of actors, but that can be expensive, as seen here…

U.S. communications regulators cited conservative commentator Armstrong Williams on Thursday for violating a ban on “payola” in promoting the Bush administration’s education plan.

After investigating for more than 2-1/2 years, the Federal Communications Commission concluded that Williams and his firm violated agency rules by promoting President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” policy on television without disclosing they had been paid to do so…

Williams was not immediately available for comment. He has denied any wrongdoing but has acknowledged that the Education Department’s outside media firm paid $240,000 to promote No Child Left Behind during a television show he owned and hosted.

Armstrong Williams makes big bucks in the black conservative pundit biz. I’ll bet James Harris dreams of getting there some day.

And how’s this for supporting the troops?

Letters from hometown soldiers describing their successes rebuilding Iraq have been appearing in newspapers across the country as U.S. public opinion on the mission sours. But many of them are the same form letter.

Of course, this is the bad old Bush adminstration. I shouldn’t be so stressed about John McCain, but the man in the crowd who’s a talk show host, and Joe the ‘plumber’ is a lot in one week. I’m having flashbacks.

Ringers Part 2–Say it Ain’t So, Joe

And now it turns out that Joe the Plumber isn’t actually a plumber? And he didn’t pay taxes, even under the glorious Republican leadership of George Bush? And he’s a registered Republican and supporter of John McCain? At least that’s what AP says. But AP is suspect ever since they pressured Sarah Palin to speak when she just wanted to pose for pictures at the UN.

What’s worse, the The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry officially endorsed Barack Obama. Their membership is made up of people who do have a plumbing license, and I guess most of them make under a quarter of a million a year. They think Obama’s tax plan is better.

And Joe might not be the perfect example of the average voter. Most of us are grateful that our parents are able to collect social security. Not Joe, he wants to do away with it. That’s pretty radical. I don’t think John McCain will get on board with that, even George Bush found it to be a wildly unpopular idea.

So I wonder if Joe approached Barack Obama in order to provide McCain with some good anecdotal material to use in the debate. I know I’m cynical, but I’ve been hurt a lot in the past eight years.