Paul Constant’s coverage of the I-5 Skagit River bridge collapse had a link to Bridgehunter.com, a site that catalogs and rates bridges across the US. I looked up a few that I travel over regularly and it’s pretty ugly. One has a sufficiency rating of 20 out of 100.
The “working” dogs are at it again:
I couldn’t use the flash; that would have been mean.
What are y’all up to this holiday weekend? It’s BBQ and baseball as usual for us this weekend, but on Tuesday, hubby and I are actually going on vacation for the first time in years. Seal Team Six has agreed to watch the kid, dogs and chickens.
I’m taking the next couple of days off. I’ll be back on Tuesday. I am going to do something I have not done in eleven years of blogging and thirteen years of online work, and just cuttting out. I’m going to work in the yard, sleep in late, and basically shut it all down and not answer emails or texts or anything else, including the cell phone.
If you don’t hear from me in the interim, don’t panic. If you don’t hear from me on Tuesday, well, consider this my GBCW.
I love this:
Just so we don’t forget who our real enemies are (hint: neither Medea Benjamin nor President Obama), here’s an excellent, epic rant from Ed Kilgore at the Washington Monthly on “What Ted Cruz Means When He Says He Mistrusts Both Parties“:
… Does it mean, as political reporters often blandly repeat, that “Tea Party” pols like Cruz are hardy independents who care about principle rather than about the GOP, and represent a constituency that is up in the air?
No, and I might add: Hell no! Cruz specifically and Tea Party members generally, for all their independent posturing, are the most rigid of partisans, and are about as likely to vote with or for Democrats as a three-toed sloth is likely to win a Gold Medal in the 100-meter dash. Yes, they often threaten to form a Third Party, but never do (why should they when their power in one of the two major parties is overwhelming and still growing?), and even more often threaten to “stay home” during elections, but in fact tend to vote more than just about any other sizable bloc of Americans…
So when Tea Party champions or “true conservatives” or “constitutional conservatives” (three terms for the same people) say they’re not willing to sacrifice their principles to win elections, do they really mean it, and is that the difference between them and those “establishment Republicans” like John McCain that they are always attacking? No, not really. They want to win elections, too, but only in order to impose a governing order that they believe should be immune to any future election, immune from contrary popular majorities generally, and immune to any other of those “changing circumstances” that gutless RINOs always cite in the process of selling out “the base.” And that’s why they are willing to use anti-majoritarian tactics when they are in the minority, and anti-minority tactics when they are in the majority: the only thing that matters is bringing back the only legitimately conservative, the only legitimately American policies and enshrining them as powerfully as is possible.
So from that perspective, sure, they’re conservatives first and Republicans second. But this isn’t a “revolt” against the GOP, but a takeover bid, executed through primaries (e.g., Ted Cruz’s victory over “establishment Republican” David Dewhurst) and the power of money and ultimately sheer intimidation…
Not for the first time, I’m gonna outsource to Mr. Charles P. Pierce:
… [T]he hour-long address was as good an example of a president’s walking a tightrope as you ever will see. Implicit in the speech was the undeniable truth that the country and its politics and, yes, its people were complicit in the last decade of producing a reaction to the events of September 11, 2001 about which the country and its politics and, yes, its people are now in the middle of profound second thoughts…
…Let us be honest with ourselves as a political people. Had Barack Obama… run for president by divesting himself fully of the prevailing momentum from that rage and that fear that still existed in 2008, then he every likely would not have found enough people in this country to vote to make him president. We are the people who strung the tightrope on which he now walks, and on which every president after him will walk as well. That’s why half the speech defended what he’d done, while the other half tried to define the limitations of what he can do…
We will never elect a president on a platform that he will weaken the office, and that also means giving back powers only recently acquired and exercised. If that were the case, then George W. Bush would have been a one-term president. The speech today was probably the best for which we could hope. What was even more clear is that he has no intention of letting Congress off the hook, either…
And I would really like to believe that Dave Weigel is right about his final point:
… We have a divided government; Congress holds the purse strings; Congress passed the 2001 Authorization of Force in Iraq. But most discussion of foreign policy focuses on the president, the commander-in-chief. Why didn’t he close Gitmo, like he promised? Is he saying he and he alone can kill citizens with drone attacks?
At four moments in his speech today, the president pointed at Capitol Hill and asked it to move on or admit its role in the security decisions that have become so controversial…
4. “Given my Administration’s relentless pursuit of al Qaeda’s leadership, there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened. Today, I once again call on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from GTMO.”
Translation: The Gitmo debacle is on you. You ground me down in 2009, promising to block funding and locations for prisoner transfers, before turning around and attacking me for breaking a campaign promise.
Also, if Medea Benjamin just knew when to quit, she’d be a national treasure instead of an embarrassment to the rest of us on the Left and a bottomless source of entertainment to the Reicht.
As I mentioned awhile back, my A/C unit shat the bed and eventually had to be replaced at a cost of thousands of dollars. I called an A/C company out when the unit wouldn’t start, and they couldn’t test it because there was some trouble with the electrical box that served the unit and advised me to contact an electrician.
The guy we’ve used for years to fix electrical issues was out of the country and unreachable. I asked the neighbors for their recommendations, and nobody had anything particularly good to say about any company. So I picked one by reading online reviews.
The guy came out and ended up having to replace an electrical box (not the main one; the one that serves the air handler). I’m guessing it took three hours or so, including time spent going to Home Depot for a part he didn’t have in his truck (I’m kind of in the boonies, so that portion of the job alone took about an hour). He charged me $750 bucks, which seemed like a lot to me, but I know nothing about electrical work.
Anyhoo, we subsequently had two A/C companies take a look and quote a price for replacing the unit, and both of them told us we got screwed on the electrical job. One said he could have handled it as part of the A/C replacement for a third of the cost.
I contacted the electrical company and said WTF? To their credit, a rep called me back and broke down the charges for me. Basically, the parts were about $100, and they think it’s reasonable to charge $650 to send someone out to the boonies for a three-hour job — two hours if the parts were on the truck. (And when I say boonies, I mean 30 or so miles out of the nearest city on decent roads, not a 100-mile sled dog trip.) I disagreed and said so. The rep agreed to refund slightly more than $150. He didn’t have any particular rationale for arriving at that sum — it was probably the minimum he thought he could give back to shut me up.
So here’s my dilemma: I still feel like they ripped me off, and I’m tempted to post my own account of the incident on the same review sites that brought them to my attention. But they did refund at least some of my money. And they should get credit for nutting up and calling me back; I realize some companies would have simply ignored my complaint. Do you think the amount they charged was reasonable? What would you do?
Colin Woodard, a newspaper reporter in Maine, did a great series on the school reform industry (cyber charter division). Looks like the reporter may win a Certificate of Excellence or a trophy or something, but sadly nothing like the huge cash rewards school reform industry insiders are raking in on cyber charters. He’s obviously playing for the wrong team. He may have attended our Failed and Failing Public Schools Full of Failures, which would explain his lack of ambition:
Stephen Bowen was excited and relieved. Maine’s education commissioner had just returned to his Augusta office last October after a three-day trip to San Francisco where he attended a summit of conservative education reformers convened by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, which had paid for the trip.
He’d heard presentations on the merits of full-time virtual public schools – ones without classrooms, playgrounds or in-person teachers – and watched as Bush unveiled the “first ever” report card praising the states that had given online schools the widest leeway.
But what had Bowen especially enthusiastic was his meeting with Bush’s top education aide, Patricia Levesque, who runs the foundation but is paid through her private firm, which lobbies Florida officials on behalf of online education companies.
Bowen was preparing an aggressive reform drive on initiatives intended to dramatically expand and deregulate online education in Maine, but he felt overwhelmed.
So was a partnership formed between Maine’s top education official and a foundation entangled with the very companies that stand to make millions of dollars from the policies it advocates.
In the months that followed, according to more than 1,000 pages of emails obtained by a public records request, the commissioner would rely on the foundation to provide him with key portions of his education agenda. These included draft laws, the content of the administration’s digital education strategy and the text of Gov. Paul LePage’s Feb. 1 executive order on digital education.
A Maine Sunday Telegram investigation found large portions of Maine’s digital education agenda are being guided behind the scenes by out-of-state companies that stand to capitalize on the changes, especially the nation’s two largest online education providers.
K12 Inc. of Herndon, Va., and Connections Education, the Baltimore-based subsidiary of education publishing giant Pearson, are both seeking to expand online offerings and to open full-time virtual charter schools in Maine, with taxpayers paying the tuition for the students who use the services.
At stake is the future of thousands of Maine schoolchildren who would enroll in the full-time virtual schools and, if the companies had their way, the future of tens of thousands more who would be legally required to take online courses at their public high schools in order to receive their diplomas.
The foundation’s Digital Learning Now! initiative receives funding from Pearson, K12, textbook publishing giants Houghton Mifflin-Harcourt and McGraw-Hill, and tech companies such as Apple, Intel and Microsoft, and digital curriculum developers Apex Learning and IQ Innovations iQity.
“One of the striking things about these reforms is the extent to which they remove control of the schools from democratic governance and turn them over to corporate decision-making and appointed bodies. Education policy is now being made to some degree by people who have a financial stake in what they are making policy about.”
School reform industry initiatives are always presented as “transformative” and “innovative” but what comes clear when one follows the industry for a couple of years is the relentless sameness of the agenda from state to state and year to year. This is a problem for reform industry marketing efforts, because they seek to portray privatization as grass roots and bottom-up or at the very least state-specific, but it is none of those things. You have your Course Choice in Louisiana and your Value Vouchers in Michigan, sure, but the only difference is the brand names. Ohio has the same cyber charter scam Jeb Bush tried to impose in Maine, and the Ohio scam has been running continuously for a decade. Voters in Idaho had the good sense to repeal the Jeb Bush Maine-Florida-Ohio-(Your State HERE) plan by referendum after it was imposed. That was in 2012. Did reform industry hacks get chased out of Idaho and go directly to Maine?
The reform industry leader who implemented the Chicago Mayor’s mass public school closing order yesterday is not a local or state leader but a national one. She parachuted into Chicago to close their public schools after school closing stints in Cleveland and Detroit. The parents, students and teachers in Chicago who fought so hard and so bravely to keep their local schools were first ignored and when they made so much noise they could no longer be ignored they were blatantly lied to, but they don’t have to wait to see what’s in store for them. They can look to Cleveland or Detroit where identical reforms were imposed to see where this is headed. By my count, Cleveland has now endured “transformational” “innovative” reform industry experiments for the last 13 years, and after all that the public schools there are fighting just to survive. We all know the rules, don’t we? Markets can’t fail they can only be failed, and the solution to failed market-based reforms is more market-based reforms.