sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

......."Court challenges and burdensome procedures have had dramatic effects on participation in school choice programs around the country, according to a report recently issued by the Friedman Foundation."

Keep reading my article, via Carolina Journal.

Monday, November 28, 2005

......I saw Bob Woodward on Larry King Live last night. Again, Woodward doesn't think the Libby /Plame case will go far because Valerie Plame is a CIA analyst, and he's never known an analyst to be undercover in all his years covering the agency.


"In his deposition, Woodward told him during a mid-June interview that Plame worked at the CIA's weapons of mass destruction program as an analyst......

Woodward said he testified that that the official's reference to Plkame, referred to as 'Joe Wilson's wife,' was 'casual and offhand, and that it did not appear to me to be either classified or sensitive.' Woodward said he believed that CIA analysts usually were not undercover."

....The English countryside in Garner.

One problem:

"If we had our way, we'd build a super Starbuck's."

......Prediction: Jay Feely will be unemployed by the end of the day.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

.........Via this morning's N&R, Peter Brown weighs in on the Medicare drug benefit:

"The government has just begun the largest expansion ever of a federal program to help Americans, and all anyone can do is complain that it's not perfect.

"The notion that it's just too complicated for seniors to figure out is horse hockey. These are many of the same people who conquered hunger during the Great Depression and Hitler's era."

I was growing tired of the media's victimization of our nation's senior citizens. No, the program is not perfect, and I understand the hassles of implementing it, especially for seniors who are dependent on others for their day-to-day care.

Still, you've got Bush-haters like Krugman calling for a national healthcare system. I wonder just how simple he thinks such system would be?

You've also got to consider Michael Barone's view in Friday's Wall Street Journal. Barone pretty much lays General Motors' problems on union demands:

"The attempt to protect workers from all risk has been very risky indeed, since in a dynamic economy large corporations are subject to competition from firms with lower costs. In the auto industry the the result is significant pain for those who relied on the Big Three and the UAW; but the result has been a vastly faster growing economy and many more opportunities than provided by the European welfare states.

"The attempt, made when the economy seemed static, to promise security and leisure and restrained good taste, has failed."

Note: Krugman courtesy of Cone's Dark Times.

......Sad news.....Charles has passed away.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

.....I know this is horrible, and I'm doing everything I can to suppress it.....But the whole time I've been hanging out down here in Charlotte, the old phrase "Die Yuppie Scum" keeps popping into my head.

.....My father-in-law and I have formulated 'Plan B' just in case 'Plan A' doesn't work out. He's got a line on a double wide in Gaston County and knows a bootlegger who'll bring us a case of Budweiser every day - cheap. We'll have three TVs, one tuned to ESPN, one to ESPN 2 and the other to ESPN Classic.

The family can visit every now and then, but will have to take care of themselves for the most part.

Friday, November 25, 2005

.....Two subjects sportswriters should just leave alone: politics and humor.

Charlotte Observer sports columnist Tom Sorenson in his "Things I'm thankful for (not really)" column:


"I know there are reasons to vote Republican. I myself have voted for Republicans on several occasions. I know that many of you conscientiously found reason not to vote for Kerry-Edwards. But if, on the 25th day of November 2005, you have 'W' sticker on your bumper, a vandal must have stuck it there while you were in the guns and ammo shop."

Thursday, November 24, 2005

....For whatever reason, I can't link on this computer.......

....The NFL Players' Association doesn't get the ruling it wants in the T. O. case. The union's response: Dismiss arbitrator Richard Bloch.

Executive director Gene Upshaw:

"One thing I can control is that he will no longer be an arbitrator in any more of our cases."

So the Eagles fought not to release T.O. outright so he can't go play for another team, say the Cowboys or the Giants. But worrying that T.O. will catch on on with a division rival only gives him more significance. If I were Eagles' management, I'd say 'Screw you, play for whoever wants you.'

Besides, he's by no means a gift-wrapped trip to the Super Bowl. And what team with a legitimate chance to get to the Super Bowl would risk its chemistry by bringing this guy into the locker room?

.....We took the train to Charlotte yesterday. The Depot is very nice, and bureaucratic hassles behind boarding the train ( securing a parking permit, having I.D. ready, checking baggage) were minimal. It was very relaxing, and you definitely see a side of the Piedmont that you don't get from the highway.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the time factor. It was about an hour and forty-five minutes from the time we boarded the train in Greensboro until we arrived at the station in Charlotte.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

......Guarino weighs in on the Ham's lawsuit.

My first thought was that the pending litigation will further erode the quality of the food and service at Ham's, which was pretty poor when I was there last week.

Hey, my mother-in-law offered........

......The Marketing of Johnny Damon.......sounds like a movie......

NY Times:

"Scott Boras, Damon's agent, loves to analyze numbers and then unfurl them to help his clients score gigantic numbers for free-agent contracts.

"In the blue free agent binder that Boras presents to teams interested in Damon, there are 10 sections filled with hundreds of numbers to emphasize why Damon is desirable...In it are sections titled 'Best Leadoff Man in Baseball'; Most Durable Active Player in Major Leagues/Deserving of a 7-Plus-Year Contract'; 'Better Than Future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson.'"


Monday, November 21, 2005

....N&R editorial says keeping tabs on the number contracts awarded by the school system to female and minority-owned businesses shouldn't be a problem.

That's easier said than done, right? How many businesses that do school contract work, especially in North Carolina, are owned by females and minorities? My initial guess is not that many. I'm not saying it's right; I'm just saying it's reality.

.....Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye on the Panthers' offense:

"I don't want to say they're one-dimensional. But (Delhomme's) first read is always to the same guy. If he doesn't get Smith quickly, he's going to hold the ball and start looking around and he's guy who you know can get his feet moving."

Saturday, November 19, 2005

.......Nothing worse than a thin-skinned journalists.

Via Hoggard, with interesting comments from N&R editor John Robinson.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

.....More NPR: Hate Dook.

......Washington Times: Withdraw the Libby indictment:

"Bob Woodward's just-released statement, suggesting that on June 27, 2003, he may have been the reporter who told Scooter Libby about Joseph Wilson's wife, blew a gigantic hole in Patrick Fitzgerald's recently unveiled indictment of the vice president's former chief of staff......

"...Given Mr. Woodward's account, which came to light after the Libby indictment was announced, that he met with Mr. Libby in his office — armed with the list of questions, which explicitly reference 'yellowcake' and 'Joe Wilson's wife' and may have shared this information during the interview — it is entirely possible that Mr. Libby may have indeed heard about Mrs. Plame's employment from a reporter. Given the fact that the conversations in issue — the one with Tim Russert and the one with Bob Woodward — were separated by less than two weeks, and that officials like Mr. Libby juggle literally hundreds of matters on a daily basis, it is entirely plausible that he confused the two reporters."

I heard an excerpt from an old interview with Woodward on NPR while driving around yesterday. It further shed light on why Woodward held onto this information: he just didn't think it was that big a deal.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

.....John Fox makes nice with Herman Edwards. Why? Ken Lucas was only telling it the way it was.

Edwards' comments are more revealing:

"I used to be a player and I know that feeling. I could see it on their faces. You do what's best for the team. I'm not going to put the quarterback in harm's way and let him go back there and line up in shotgun and look all pretty and throw pasees. You'd get him killed. Are you kidding me? For what? It's ridiculous."

While Brooks Bollinger might appreciate that sentiment, I'm not sure the Jets' ownership does. I expect Edwards will be fired at the end of this season.

Monday, November 14, 2005

....In the majority opinion in today's Supreme Court special ed ruling, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor decuded that the parents have just as much power as school districts:

"Justice O'Connor rejected the argument that a school district ought to bear the burden of proof more or less automatically because they have more resources than individual parents. The act in question, she said, gives parents plenty of power in disputes over individualized education programs."

Justice O'Connor wrote:

"'They are not left to challenge the government without a realistic opportunity to access the necessary evidence, or without an expert with the firepower to match the opposition."

Maybe I missed this, but I discovered via this Reason post that the superintendent of Montgomery County Schools, the district involved in the case, is former Guilford County superintendent Jerry Weast.


On the other hand, if the parents had vouchers they could use them to select schools whose programs they believe are adequate to their children's needs. Vouchers transform parents and children into customers who can shop around. It is a simple universal truth that people are treated better as customers than they are as supplicants."

Florida and Ohio have voucher programs for students with special education needs, respectively receiving grades of good and fair from The Friedman Foundation.

.......People get hurt trying to guard Julius Peppers:

The Jets' "injury parade continued sunday when Jason Fabini, the starting right tackle, was lost for the season on the first series when he sustained a pectoral injury while trying futilely to keep defensive end Julius Peppers out of the backfield."

It wasn't any better for Fabini's replacement. How about the play in the fourth quarter, right before Will Witherspoon's interception, when Peppers lined up wide and just blew past the tackle and the tight end to sack Jets quarterback Brooks Bollinger?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

.....The N&R's Allen Johnson wonders if the Klan-Nazi shootings "deserve at least a nook or a cranny in the city-funded Historical Museum."

Johnson posed the question to Fred Goss (wasn't that the name of the slovenly dry cleaner on "The Andy Griffith Show?), the museum's director. Goss told Johnson there were "a lot of stories in Greensboro's history that we're not telling. It's definitely one of the things we're looking at."

Somehow I think Johnson believes the events of Nov. 3, 1979 deserve more than a nook and a cranny in the museum. But since he took the time to talk to Goss, let's look at it from a curator's point of view. Exactly how would one curate such an event? What types of artifacts can be dug up from that time in our city's, and our nation's, history? I personally think it would be fascinating to see just how close our country was to a tipping point until we wisely changed leaders exactly one year later.

The obvious focus of a proposed exhibit would be the news footage of the shootings. A small television monitor could be set up in the nook or cranny whereupon visitors could see the shootings in live action over and over again and determine for themselves who was at fault. I assume the footage is readily available; the only question would be the technicalities and expense of such a set-up.

Of course, the survivors of the shootings are the other obvious source of historical items. Perhaps they have saved such items either in memory of the deceased, in memory of the movement or as evidence to be presented in search of truth and reconciliation. But would those survivors donate such items to the city they believe conspired against them? Would the city accept such items?

.......The N&R's Ed Hardin says the Top Cats' stall show gives the Panthers "street cred".

Don't know where Hardin's been the last eight years, because the Panthers once had more street cred than was desirable. The organization deserves considerable credit for restoring an atmosphere of professionalism.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

......Back to back channels: Maureen Dowd discussing feminism on CNN; babes in little blue outfits trying out for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders on CMT.

Cable is great.

.....Still on the subject of salary: UNC chancellors receive pay hikes...

"The raises, approved Friday by the UNC Board of Governors, were made possible by a special appropriation of $334,147 by the legislature over the summer, added to the 2 percent salary increases for state employees."

The raises ranged from $15,334 for T.J. Bryan at Fayetteville State to $35,1000 for James Moeser at UNC-Chapel Hill and Jim Oblinger at N.C. State. Patricia Sullivan, UNCG chancellor, received a 15 percent raise to increase her salary to $261,334.

"The chancellors raises are likely to be politically sensitive on campus, where state employees received 2 percent raises this year.

"One chancellor, Rosemary DePaolo of UNC--Wilmington, immediately donated most of her raise — $14,663 — to two student scholarship funds, one of which provides financial aid to staff members or their family."

This is interesting:

"UNC President Molly Broad, who will retire at the end of next month, got a 6 percent raise, bringing her salary to $331,254. Broad will make that amount when she takes a paid research leave next year before she returns to a faculty job at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she will earn 60 percent of her presidential salary."

Must be nice.

Friday, November 11, 2005

......Yesterday's lead N&R editorial made some interesting points about school superintendent Terry Grier's relationship with the Board of Education:

"....An ongoing challenge is the controversial High Point choice plan, which Grier did not conceive but for which he has taken the brunt of the blame.

"In the face of blistering public opposition, the school board seems likely to abandon the plan without ever fully implementing it. The board also seems strangely unwilling to take ownership of the plan, which it directed Grier to enforce — while letting Grier bear most of the criticism.

"That's too bad, and the politics of the plan (which should be the board's bailiwick anyway) probably have distracted the the superintendent from other pressing needs that affect the whole district.

"As for his new bonus plan, done correctly, it could help make Grier more accountable to his bosses. But how to make his bosses more accountable?"

It's called an election, and it happens every two years. To their credit, Guilford County residents did their best to make last year's election one of accountability. They came up short and again, some of their tactics may have made the difference. Perhaps in 2006 members who are up for reelection will be held accountable for their actions, or lack thereof, in a more substantive manner.

As for superintendent Grier, if he's going to be distracted by politics anyway, then he should be really distracted. Make his position an elected office. It would not only hold him more directly accountable to his constituents but make him less likely to accept the brunt of the blame for plans he did not conceive but are forced to implement.

.....Transcript of President Bush's Veterans Day speech, all 13 pages of it.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

...Just spreading the word, via Guarino.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

......Charlotte voters reject record $427 million school bond , with 57 percent of voters just saying no:

"Even critics who have spent months arguing against the bonds were stunned by the degree of the loss. The bonds lost in precincts across the county, from the north and south suburbs, which stood the most to gain, to center-city and westside areas that felt shortchanged."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

...Hey, what does T.O. want from the Eagles? I noticed the other night while watching SportsCenter that the Raiders didn't even retire Fred Biletnikoff's number. That's the real injustice.

......The Friedman Foundation has just issued a report analyzing ease of access to school choice programs around the country.

Using School Choice: How Parents Access Educational Freedom collects, for the first time in one place, historical data on participation in school choice programs.

Greg Forster, author of the report:

"Where parents cannot exercise school choice without taking on burdens and coping with uncertainty, they are being denied real choice. We wanted to analyze just how much choice for parents these programs allow."

From the introduction:

"Another major difficulty in turning school choice into a reality for parents is the presence of court challenges. Uncertainty over a program's future is a barrier to participation, as real as any rule or regulation. Where there is a reasonable chance that a program might be cancelled on the whim of a judge, possibly even in the middle of the school year, parents likely will take into consideration the disruption that might cause their children and the problems they might have dealing with their local schools after being forced to return there."

The report found that in every state where a school choice program existed, participation continues to increase. An exception is Florida's voucher program, where schools receive a grade every year. Students attending schools that receive an 'F' are eligible to apply for a tax voucher to attend a private school.

Participation was initially high, as 6.5 percent of students opted out when the program started in 1999-2000. That number declined to 2.3 percent in 2005-2005. Several factors contributed to the decline, one of which is that no schools received an 'F' in 2000-01 or 2001-02.

But Forster also cites burdens placed on parents seeking to apply since that time. While the Web-based application system is, in theory, convenient (as are all Web-based procedures), does it not place a burden on families who might not have access to the Internet? The two-week window to apply for the program is also very narrow, considering the fact that parents do not know whether they are eligible until school grades are issued.

Then there's the court challenge to the system. In fairness, that may not play as great a role in depressing student participation because Florida law allows government program to remain in place after being struck down by lower courts if the state is appealing to a higher court. But years of legal wrangling can cause people to lose interest in almost anything.

Two questions: Why do special interest groups feel compelled to mount these ongoing legal challenges? What is so wrong with school choice?

Monday, November 07, 2005

....Some ass: Panthers kick it; Top Cats give it up

Saturday, November 05, 2005

...Hoggard comes down hard on Frankie Michaux.

So I'm asking: Does this asshole have the right to continue consuming valuable oxygen?

.....This article on the generational change of ownership in the NFL appeared in last Sunday's N.Y. Times, but I just got around to discussing it with my buddies last night.

Most interesting is this graphic, which lists team ownership in order of when they took possession.

What I did not know: The Arizona Cardinals have been owned by the Bidwill family since 1932, when Charles Bidwill bought the Chicago Cardinals. That's quite a tenure for a franchise that has been less than successful on the field.

Tragically enough, Charles Bidwill would would die in April 1947, just a few months before the Cardinals would go on to win the 1947 NFL Championship.....

.....Michael Medved on the rioting in France:

"Hasn't the beautiful dream of a welfare state in France not worked out so well?"

Thursday, November 03, 2005

.......Dr.Sanity lets it fly, including a little message to modern feminists:

"The main justification for the existence of the women's movement these days is to support and expand the cult of victimhood that they have created among women."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

.....From Jay Greene's book Education Myths:

"We care much more about our children than roads and buildings, so how could education policy be governed by the same process of competition among organized interests that governs the construction of highways or the zoning of land? Rather than face this uncomfortable reality, most people are inclined to view the actors in education policy debates as wise, disinterested experts even when they are interested parties. This allows them to believe that education policymaking is really a discussion among professional experts rather than a political struggle among organized interest groups."

In other words, God forbid that the school board should become politicized. I spoke with a school member last year and asked him about giving the school board taxing authority, which has been part of the Guilford County Board of Education's legislative agenda. The board member said he opposed it because it would politicize the board.

But I think politicizing the school board would really open up debate on education policy by granting access to individuals who question the mindset that spending money means better schools. School board candidates would run as Democrats or Republicans, because I think a person's political beliefs are the true indicator of what he or she would stand for when helping formulate education policy. Superintendent should definitely be a partisan, elected position. If the majority of parents don't want Terry Grier outta here, then let their voices be heard in a public referendum.

I realize last year's school board elections were very politicized. But taking out funny ads and hanging people in effigy on Halloween isn't the way go about it, though.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

.....I guess the guy thought the hot vendor hadn't seen enough wienies.....


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