Patterico's Pontifications


Geithner’s Resumé

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 9:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Tim Geithner: “I never had a real job.”

Geithner’s point is that he has worked in the public sector, not the private sector. “Real world” people might agree with Geithner that the absence of private sector employment on his resumé is evidence he’s never held a “real world” job.


Common Sense Conservation

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 7:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A University of Texas philosopher and conservationist brings some common sense to his work:

“Sahotra Sarkar, who specializes in environmental ethics, and other scholars have been changing how environmental groups and businesses set aside land and parks. Last month, in the online edition of the journal Biological Conservation, he fleshed out what he called the “social ecology” model of folding local values into the decision-making process.

The Indonesian company, Medco, was planning to build a power plant and a wood pulp and paper mill in New Guinea. Conservation International was hoping to get some concessions for land preservation. Enter Sarkar, who urged that the conservation group and Medco take into account the needs of the people who live near the industrial sites.

“It might be obvious now, but traditionally nongovernment organizations, based in London, operated in the Third World and would not have done that,” he said.”

Conservationists have found that incorporating local concerns works better:

“The social ecology model, he and a co-author wrote in Biological Conservation, contrasts with the “fortress” model of conservation work, which excludes human habitation and use from parks and open space.

A fortress-model project to build tiger reserves in India, for example, failed in large part because the villagers who were expelled to create the parks then collaborated with poachers to decimate the tiger population, he said. In Peru, on the other hand, the World Wildlife Fund has worked with indigenous groups to protect lakes that are also important fishing areas.

He traces part of the difference between the models to a cultural gulf between a “stridently vocal group of Northern conservationists” and their counterparts in the global South. The northern conservationists “view humans as categorically distinct from the natural world,” while people in the South “view nature as a resource.”

That difference in how land is set aside, and the degree of local involvement, has important consequences, he writes.”

This sounds so obvious it’s tempting to say something snarky, but I’m just glad to see common sense may be coming back in vogue. Although I admit I enjoyed the “stridently vocal group of Northern conservationists” part.


Dachshund Derby

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:07 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Looking for love? There lots of kissing at the Buda Wiener Dog Races in Buda, Texas. And some airborne wiener dogs, too:

“Dachshunds compete at the Buda Wiener Dog Races at Buda City Park on Sunday April 25, 2010. More than 600 dachshunds from around Texas and a few entrants from out of state participated in the races Saturday and Sunday.”

I’m very small town but that really sounds like fun.


Joe Klein Wakes Up

Filed under: Government,Politics — DRJ @ 6:23 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Joe Klein is glad that Lindsey Graham scuttled cap-and-trade because passing another big piece of legislation would hurt the Democrats:

“Lindsey Graham effectively killed the Senate’s looming cap-and-trade package by yanking his support from the bill–and thereby did the Democrats a favor. I’m all in favor of combating global warming, although I think a straight-ahead carbon tax (refundable in the form of reduced payroll taxes) would do the job far more efficiently than cap-and-trade. But if I’m a Democratic strategist, I’m thinking Augustinian thoughts: Lord, make me energy independent, but not just yet.

Why? Because the public has had quite enough, thank you, of government activism this year…and, after Wall Street reform is passed, any further attempts to pass major legislation will add to legitimate conservative arguments that the federal government is attempting to do much to do any of it well.”

Klein is also a big fan of immigration reform … but not now, because it’s a “recipe for disaster.” (For Democrats, not immigrants.)

There may be an even bigger wake-up call in November.


Obama’s New Motto

Filed under: Humor,Obama — DRJ @ 3:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Adjective Dana on President Obama’s new motto:

“Veni, Vidi, Visa.”

Translation at the link.


Colorado Education Reform

Filed under: Education — DRJ @ 2:51 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Colorado legislature is considering education reforms that would tie teacher evaluations and job status to how well their students do on state exams:

“The legislation would revolutionize teacher and principal evaluations in Colorado, basing 50 percent of their performance on supervisors’ reviews and the other half on student growth on standardized tests and other measures. It also would change the way teachers achieve tenure and make it easier for them to lose that job protection — a controversial move that attacks a core tenet held by the teachers union.

Opponents call the legislation an unfunded mandate that places too much financial burden on cash-strapped school districts. They fear it would create a school system where educators “teach to the test” to save their jobs and one where longtime teachers are picked off without due process.

Proponents, meanwhile, say the bill is a solution to some of Colorado’s worst education problems, that focusing on effective teaching is the best way to cut the achievement gap between the races, reduce the dropout rate and boost the number of students ready for college. They also believe it will help the state win $175 million in the federal Race to the Top education grant competition.

Education reformers are hailing the bill as one of the country’s most robust reforms, and federal officials are closely watching the legislation as a barometer in the national debate over education.

Only three states — Delaware, Illinois and Tennessee — have legislated similar reforms.”

I can understand the concerns on both sides. We need well-educated students but we don’t want to unfairly jeopardize jobs. But something needs to change, and if Delaware, Illinois, Tennessee, and Colorado want to try this, why not?


Sestak: Specter Should Stop Attacking My Military Record

Filed under: 2010 Election,Politics — DRJ @ 1:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Joe Sestak is a two-term Pennsylvania Congressman and former Navy Admiral, having served 31 years in the Navy. He is running against Senator Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary. A recent poll suggests the race is a dead heat, which may be why Arlen Specter is running this attack ad:

In response, Sestak called on Vice President Joe Biden to tell Specter to stop attacking his military record:

“One day before Vice President Joe Biden is set to make a campaign appearance for Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., Specter’s primary challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak, is asking Biden to condemn a Specter campaign ad.
In an open letter to Biden, released today, Sestak calls the charges about his military career “lies” and appeals for the vice president to disavow them. “A political attack on the service of a veteran is a dishonor to every man and woman who has worn the cloth of this nation.”

The Sestak campaign said a group of veterans will be traveling to Scranton on Friday to deliver the congressman’s letter personally to Biden.”

What about it, Joe?


“We Were Never a Terrorist Organization”

Filed under: Politics,Terrorism — DRJ @ 1:22 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Noted FBI Most Wanted listee and revisionist historian Bill Ayers spoke last night at a Fresno, California, church:

“We were never a terrorist organization and that is because we never threatened to kill people. We never killed people. We did destroy property and we answered for those things.”


South Korean Ship Update

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 2:05 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

A South Korean warship lost at sea may have been sunk by an external torpedo:

“The Cheonan was on a routine patrol on March 26 when the unexplained explosion split it in two in one of South Korea’s worst naval disasters. At least 40 sailors died.

“Basically, I think the bubble jet effect caused by a heavy torpedo is the most likely cause” for the blast, [South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-Young] told reporters Sunday. Kim, however, said an investigation was ongoing, and it’s still too early to determine the cause.

Kim told lawmakers shortly after the blast that a North Korean torpedo or mine was among the suspected culprits. He said earlier this month that a torpedo attack was more likely.”

The report states that local media have “increasingly been speculating” that the sinking was the result of a North Korean attack. Compounding these tensions is another report that North Korea tried to assassinate a defector living in South Korea:

“Two North Korean assassins planning to kill the highest-ranking communist official to defect to Seoul have been arrested, South Korea’s government said Wednesday.

The announcement was made hours before South Korean President Lee Myung-bak toughened his stance over the sinking last month of one of his country’s warships, killing 46 crew members.

After weeks of appealing for calm until the cause of the incident is determined, Lee said Wednesday that the sinking should counter South Koreans’ complacency about their northern neighbor.”

It’s time to keep a watchful eye on this region, although hopefully that was already being done.


School Layoffs Stir Controversy

Filed under: Education — DRJ @ 1:24 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Budget woes mean schoolteachers across the nation face being laid off. Administrators want to keep the best teachers but union rules won’t let them:

“Facing the likelihood of the largest number of layoffs in more than a generation, [Schools chancellor Joel I.] Klein and his counterparts around the country say that the rules, which require that the most recently hired teachers be the first to lose their jobs, are anachronistic. In an era of accountability, they say, the rules will upend their efforts of the last few years to recruit new teachers, improve teacher performance and reward those who do best.

“Nobody I’ve talked to thinks seniority is a rational way to go,” Mr. Klein said. “Obviously there are some senior teachers who are extraordinary. You recruit young talent you think is good for the future, and to just get rid of that by the numbers seems to me to be a nonsensical approach.

This month city officials persuaded lawmakers in Albany to introduce a bill that would allow the city to decide which teachers to let go, although its chances of passing are slim. Similar legislation in California, where thousands of young teachers have received letters saying they could be out of work, moved forward last week, backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arizona abolished seniority rules last year, and this month its Legislature banned the use of seniority if teachers are rehired.”

Klein wants New York City school principals to decide which teachers to lay off:

“Mr. Klein has said that if he has his way, principals will be able to use a mix of factors, including student test score data and classroom observations by administrators and other teachers, as well as their own “vision for long-term planning.” He compares the decisions to what private business managers are able to do when making staffing decisions.”

Union leaders say seniority rules are objective while performance-based layoffs are subjective and prone to abuse. Democrats in Albany indicate strong support for the teachers union and describe the change in layoff protocol as DOA.

And as one leader said, “There is no good way to lay people off.”


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