And they want to cut education in Wisconsin...

...and start teaching "intelligent design" in Nebraska.

On April 7, CNET News.com reported the following: "The University of Illinois tied for 17th place in the world finals of the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest. ...

"That's the lowest ranking for the top-performing U.S. school in the 29-year history of the competition. Shanghai Jiao Tong University of China took top honors this year, followed by Moscow State University and the St. Petersburg Institute of Fine Mechanics and Optics. Those results continued a gradual ascendance of Asian and East European schools during the past decade or so. A U.S. school hasn't won the world championship since 1997, when students at Harvey Mudd College achieved the honor. 'The U.S. used to dominate these kinds of programming Olympics,' said David Patterson, president of the Association for Computing Machinery and a computer science professor at the University of California at Berkeley. 'Now we're sort of falling behind.' "

Earlier this week, a special report on the Indiana University High School Survey of Student Engagement, which covered 90,000 high school students in 26 states, was published. The study noted that 18 percent of college-track seniors did not take a math course in their last year in high school - and that "more than a fifth (22 percent) of first-year college students require remediation in math."

We MUST change our educational priorities if we want to compete.

Who's Really in Charge?

Bush was never informed of the plane that was inside the White House's airspace even though (questions from the press pool - I am not including the answers, because they really didnt give any....):

Q: Scott, yesterday the White House was on red alert, was evacuated. The first lady and Nancy Reagan were taken to a secure location. The Vice President was evacuated from the grounds. The Capitol building was evacuated. The continuity of government plan was initiated. And yet the president wasn't told of yesterday's events until after he finished his bike ride, about 36 minutes after the all-clear had been sent. Is he satisfied with the fact that he wasn't notified about this?

Q: The fact that the president wasn't in danger is one aspect of this. But he's also the commander in chief. There was a military operation underway. Other people were in contact with the White House. Shouldn't the commander in chief have been notified of what was going on?

Q: Even on a personal level, did nobody here at the White House think that calling the president to say, by the way, your wife has been evacuated from the White House, we just want to let you know everything is OK?

Q: I think there's a disconnect here because, I mean, yesterday you had more than 30,000 people who were evacuated, you had millions of people who were watching this on television, and there was a sense at some point -- it was a short window, a 15-minute window, but there was a sense of confusion among some on the streets. There was a sense of fear. And people are wondering was this not a moment for the president to exercise some leadership, some guidance during that period of time?

Q: And those protocols are OK with the president despite the fact that his wife was in a situation where she might have been endangered?

Q: Scott, to follow on the same line of questioning, if there is a possibility that a plane may have to be shot down over Washington, doesn't the President want to be involved in that type of decision?

Q: And wasn't there a possibility that a plane headed for the White House, that this was the leading edge of some broader attack, isn't the president concerned that maybe he should have been alerted to the fact that this could have been the beginning of a general attack?

Q: How did they know -- how did they know this plane wasn't laden with WMD or some other type of weapons like that? Did they get reassurances from the pilot? Or how did they know that?

Q So if it was assessed that there was no hostile intent on the part of this aircraft, can you tell us why 30,000 people -- 35,000 people were told to run for their lives?

Q: Right, but there seems to be so many disconnects here. You've got a plane that was assessed as not being a threat, you've got 35,000 people evacuated, you've got a person who you claim is a hands-on commander in chief who is left to go ride his bicycle through the rural wildlands of Maryland while his wife is in some secure location somewhere, it's just not adding up.

An Email I Recieved from DFA

Dear Supporter,
Whatever happened to good corporate citizenship?

In America today, a business you might know pays such poor wages its workers have to turn to taxpayers to pay for their health care. The same firm has made China, a totalitarian dictatorship that holds wages down by outlawing unions, its supplier of choice -- the source of 70 percent of its inventory.

And the family that owns this company and has become wildly wealthy?

They make sure to invest their money in the Republican Party -- where they know their investment will pay off with tax cuts for the richest few.

What company is this? Wal-Mart -- the largest, richest corporation in the world.

Major organizations we work with -- groups such as the Service Employees International Union, and the United Food and Commercial Workers -- believe America's largest corporation should do better. To make that happen, they've launched a massive campaign to show Americans the massive scale of Wal-Mart's irresponsibility.

But those groups need allies. Should we join the fight? The choice is yours:


Some competitors of Wal-Mart know the value of doing well by doing good. They pay living wages. They offer good benefits. And they earn steady profits -- in part because they attract, and hold onto, high-quality workers. These companies have helped make America the wealthiest nation in the world and they sustain our prosperity.

Wal-Mart takes a radically different approach. For it, every penny is profit -- it fights for every dollar, no matter how it gets it. The result? You pay to make Wal-Mart rich -- through tax benefits and infrastructure bestowed by state and local governments -- even if you never shop there.

Take Georgia, a state where Wal-Mart ranks as the largest private employer. In 2002, state officials there figured out that Wal-Mart employees had some 10,000 children on the rolls of PeachCare, the state's child health care program. No other company's employees had even
a thousand children on the rolls -- but Wal-Mart had no qualms about dumping its costs onto Georgia taxpayers.

Wal-Mart used to make a point of keeping jobs in the United States by buying American. Today, though, the company single-handedly accounts for nearly 10 percent of all Chinese goods sold in the United States.

Wal-Mart keeps prices low by stocking as much as 70 percent of its products from Chinese suppliers -- suppliers who pay wages kept low by a dictatorial government.

Those policies helped Wal-Mart's owners, the Walton family, build a fortune worth tens of billions. That money makes the company a major force in Washington. And the family uses its wealth to bankroll the radical right -- it spent millions last year to elect candidates devoted
to eliminating the estate tax, which affects only the wealthiest of the wealthy. Wal-Mart wealth is also behind Progress for America -- a Republican front group the Waltons have financed to the tune of millions of dollars.

America needs better corporate citizens, and Wal-Mart --the largest company in the world -- has the resources to stand on its own instead of exploiting people overseas and piggybacking on American taxpayers and working families. But making it live up to its responsibilities poses a huge challenge -- because taking on Wal-Mart means going up against the biggest corporation on Earth.

With an undertaking that massive, we need everyone on board. So you make the call:


We know that America works best when we honor those who work hard and
play by the rules.

It's time to decide: shouldn't we teach Wal-Mart to do the same?

Tom Hughes
Executive Director, Democracy for America

P.S. -- Please forward this message to anyone you know who might be
interested in the issue.


They Get It in Vermont....

It is not in anybody’s interest - either the Progressives or Democrats - to have Republicans elected to the Congress, given what President Bush and Tom Delay are doing to this country.”

Splitting the vote works against us all - we need to work together.

More on the meaning of Liberalism

Also from Altercation:

liberals understand that our individual happiness is considerably contingent upon the happiness of others in our society. Poor health and poverty tend to constrict happiness. Thus, the amelioration of these conditions among my neighbors, writ large, increases the chance of my own happiness


What Do Liberals Stand For?

Here is a great discussion about what we as liberals stand for.

Some excerpts (I reccomend reading the entire post):

Government is uniquely qualified to provide for certain needs of a society

One of government’s roles is the protection of minorities with regard to certain basic rights

Liberals are interested in expanding liberty... Liberals wanted to expand the franchise and conservatives resisted. In the U.S. the terms were most useful during the civil rights movement in the '50s and '60s. Everyone who believed African-Americans should have the right to vote was a liberal. Everyone who didn't was a conservative.

Liberals believe you should be able to do with your property as you please, unless you impinge on others

Liberals believe labor should have the right to organize into unions, just as capital organizes into corporations.

Liberals also understand that economic development sometimes destroys markets, leading to oligopolies and monopolies, and these must be regulated or commerce becomes extortion.

Liberals have also reluctantly concluded from the evidence that modern medicine has outstripped the privately financed, fee-for-service system, which now makes no more sense than private ownership of New York City streets.

Poverty is poor soil for liberty, so they favor unemployment compensation and other temporary relief measures for those with the capacity to adjust, and a Social Security system for the disabled, dependents, and the elderly, who cannot.

Liberals believe the public sphere should be governed by empiricism, which requires an intellectual discipline best developed through education and the free expression of ideas.

I guess liberals also believe that utility is more likely to lead toward good policy than abstract ideology.

society is a cooperative venture

Helping others is not charity and taxation is not theft: rather, it is a recognition that none of our achievements would be possible without the supporting background of cooperation; the multiple criss-crossing fibers of support and opportunity that society provides.

all actions (of government) should be taken with a view towards providing the broadest public good possible

government should favor the policy which produces the more equitable distribution of wealth

The weakest groups in society should be lifted out of their weakness, rather than blamed for it

Reason, empiricism and negotiation are far more important tools of public policy than moral outrage

We see the complexity of issues and honor differing perspectives in working toward solutions


Feeling a Draft?

In April, the Army missed its recruiting goal for the third month in a row, short by nearly 2,800 recruits, or 42 percent off its target.

And for the first time in 10 years, the Marine Corps missed its recruiting goal for the last four months.

"Because the Army and Marines are too small and we're employing them in constant operations, our recruiting posture is now coming apart," says retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an NBC News analyst.

"This raises questions about whether the all-volunteer force can really cope with a long war," says military analyst Loren Thompson.

The Not-So-Secret History of Filibusters

Some history of the filibuster and judges (by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell via the NY Times):

Since 1789, the Senate has rejected nearly 20 percent of all nominees to the Supreme Court, many without an up-or-down vote.

In 1968 Republican senators used a filibuster to block voting on President Lyndon B. Johnson's nominee for chief justice of the Supreme Court. During the debate, a Republican senator, Robert Griffin, said: "It is important to realize that it has not been unusual for the Senate to indicate its lack of approval for a nomination by just making sure that it never came to a vote on the merits. As I said, 21 nominations to the court have failed to win Senate approval. But only nine of that number were rejected on a direct, up-and-down vote."

Between 1968 and 2001, both parties used filibusters to oppose judicial nominees. In 2000, the last year of Bill Clinton's presidency, Republican senators filibustered two of his nominees to be circuit judges. They also prevented Senate votes on more than 60 of Mr. Clinton's judicial nominees by other means.

So much for the assertion that filibustering to prevent votes on judicial nominees is a new tactic invented by Senate Democrats.

They claim that their actions are justified because the filibuster is being used unfairly to stop the confirmation of President Bush's nominees. But 208 of the president's 218 judicial nominees have been approved. That's right: the Senate has confirmed 95 percent of Mr. Bush's judicial nominees. That's a higher percentage of approval than any of his three predecessors achieved.

Facts can be so inconvenient.

Electing progressives to Local Offices

Winnebago County Democratic Party * PO Box 1112 * Oshkosh, WI 54903
May 9, 2005
Jef Hall

Winnebago County Democratic Party Hosts Public Forum on ‘Electing Progressives to Local Offices’

OSHKOSH – At this month’s General Membership Meeting, the Winnebago County Democratic Party (WCDP) will be hosting Nicholl Caruso of Progressive Majority (www.progressivemajority.com) to discuss ‘Electing Progressives to Local Offices.’

Progressive Majority is a non-partisan organization dedicated to “recruiting the next generation of progressive champions,” and “building a formidable farm team of progressive candidates.” And “motivate them to become true champions in the fight for social change.”

The WDCP would like to extend an invitation to community members interested in electing progressive candidates to attend. While this is our normal monthly meeting, it is open to the public, for members or non-members. We encourage everyone to come and join the discussion.

The meeting begins at 7:00PM, Wednesday May 11th, at the Delta Restaurant: 515 N Sawyer; Oshkosh, WI 54901.

A Great Social Security Explanation (in Flash)


Way to go, Bernie!

Quote of the Day:

Krugman on Social Security: "to avert the danger of future cuts in benefits, Mr. Bush wants us to commit now to, um, future cuts in benefits."


More from a great article:

Now, about the image of Mr. Bush as friend to the poor: keep your eye on the changing definitions of "middle income" and "wealthy."

In last fall's debates, Mr. Bush asserted that "most of the tax cuts went to low- and middle-income Americans." Since most of the cuts went to the top 10 percent of the population and more than a third went to people making more than $200,000 a year, Mr. Bush's definition of middle income apparently reaches pretty high.

But defenders of Mr. Bush's Social Security plan now portray benefit cuts for anyone making more than $20,000 a year, cuts that will have their biggest percentage impact on the retirement income of people making about $60,000 a year, as cuts for the wealthy.

These are people who denounced you as a class warrior if you wanted to tax Paris Hilton's inheritance. Now they say that they're brave populists, because they want to cut the income of retired office managers.

Let's consider the Bush tax cuts and the Bush benefit cuts as a package. Who gains? Who loses?

Suppose you're a full-time Wal-Mart employee, earning $17,000 a year. You probably didn't get any tax cut. But Mr. Bush says, generously, that he won't cut your Social Security benefits.

Suppose you're earning $60,000 a year. On average, Mr. Bush cut taxes for workers like you by about $1,000 per year. But by 2045 the Bush Social Security plan would cut benefits for workers like you by about $6,500 per year. Not a very good deal.

Suppose, finally, that you're making $1 million a year. You received a tax cut worth about $50,000 per year. By 2045 the Bush plan would reduce benefits for people like you by about $9,400 per year. We have a winner!

I'm not being unfair. In fact, I've weighted the scales heavily in Mr. Bush's favor, because the tax cuts will cost much more than the benefit cuts would save. Repealing Mr. Bush's tax cuts would yield enough revenue to call off his proposed benefit cuts, and still leave $8 trillion in change.

The point is that the privatizers consider four years of policies that relentlessly favored the wealthy a fait accompli, not subject to reconsideration. Now that tax cuts have busted the budget, they want us to accept large cuts in Social Security benefits as inevitable. But they demand that we praise Mr. Bush's sense of social justice, because he proposes bigger benefit cuts for the middle class than for the poor.

An Interesting Solution to a Problem Many Havent Thought of:

(Including me) What do we do with those people we are harming is a good indicator of the country we want to become.

"One of the paradoxes of global warming is that developing countries, which were not responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions that are changing the climate and did not reap the benefits of industrialization, will bear the brunt of the consequences. One of these consequences will be rising seas, which in turn will generate a surge of "climate exiles" who have been flooded out of their homes in poor countries. How should those of us in rich countries deal with this wave of immigrants? The fairest solution: allowing the phased immigration of people living in vulnerable regions according to a formula that is tied to the host country's cumulative contributions to global warming."