Coulter and Custer

A mostly political Weblog.
Aug. 15 2006 3:46 PM

From Coulter to Custer

kf spans the cultural universe.

(Continued from Page 15)

Is the Democratic elite turning against the teachers' unions?Eduwonk thinks so. Some evidence (and not just from Eduwonk): 1) Democratic Governor-in-waiting Eliot Spitzer of New York has endorsed opening more independent charter schools--which are typically not unionized to the same degree as public schools--after a study  showed many of them to be doing better than their traditional public competitors.** 2)  Speaking at the recent fancy Aspen Institute event, former Clinton official (and now New York City schools chancellor) Joel Klein made a "case that teachers-union contracts are the main obstacle to improving urban education," according to Mort Kondracke:

"The contract protects the interests of adults at the expense of kids," he told a rapt audience, describing how it bars pay differentials based on student performance and service in difficult schools; makes it impossible for principals to fire underperforming teachers; and allows teachers to choose their own professional development tracks, regardless of supply-and-demand needs, such as those for more math and science teachers.

3) Also according to Kondracke, the Soros-approved, pro-Dem Center for American Progress, headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, has joined with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in an effort  "likely to target teachers unions that resist reform." (CAP says only, "The Chamber will use the results of the analysis to formulate and aggressively advance public policies to improve state education systems ... ") ...

**-- This study seems significant. Is it? I don't trust the NY Post'sanalysis, and look to Eduwonk for guidance. ... Update:RCP's Ryan Sager says the results mean "a little but not a lot"  and explains why. Fred Hess, a charter supporter,  warns more strongly against relying on the study. ... 1:37 P.M. link

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ABC Buries the Lede--For a Reason: Here's Point #4 from yesterday's  ABC News Note summary of "key stories" that bear on whether the "Democratic Party [is] on the right track or the wrong track to break from recent electoral patterns ...." Emphasis added:

4. In a front page story, USA Today's Jill Lawrence reports on a resurgence in union membership across the nation and the two main umbrella organizations playing nicely together, which has allowed the House of Labor to move forward with plans to spend $40 million on voter turn out this fall. LINK

Is there "a resurgence in union membership across the nation"? That would be stunning news, since union membership has been in relentless long term decline for fifty years--"from more than 35 percent [in 1955] to 12.5 percent last year, including only 7.9 percent of the private-sector workforce," according to a  Thomas Edsall WaPo piece from September, 2005. But I can't find any mention of this surprising resurgence in union membership in the Post, or the New York Times. I can't find it on Google (to the contrary). I can't find it on the website of the "strategic organizing" Change to Win unions--you'd think they'd boast about it. And there's no mention of it in the USA Today story ABC says reports it. (That's a story about unions raising political campaign money and cooperating with each other, which is different.) Tentative conclusion: It doesn't exist. There's no resurgence in union membership. The Note item is in error. [And "it reflects the subconscious liberal yearnings of whatever MSM summer intern wrote it unaware that the cumbersome legalistic mechanisms of Wagner Act unionism are incompatible with productive success in a fast-moving global high-tech economy"?--ed You said that.] 12:57 P.M. link

Friday, July 21, 2006

I missed Wednesday night's unveiling of the Tesla electric sports car in Santa Monica. ... Prof. Reynolds is skeptical. ... My friend D.L., who drives a souped-up Porsche, was impressed. He emails:

Was at the Tesla event, lots people and everyone got a short ride....

You remember what I said about getting a powerful car makes you happier because everytime you step on the gas you get a little hormonal rush.

Well, this is better.   It's all about the rush, not the motor (which is silent), it feels like space car on wheels.  Like an amusement park thrill ride.   If you ever had a slot car and wondered "Why don't they build big cars like this" - well, they did.   Fun, fun, fun...

The electric-car-from-people-who-like-fast-cars approach has intriguing uncrunchy appeal. Usually fast, sexy cars get all the attention, right? But the Tesla might cause some semiotic confusion among all the L.A. players who've recently bought Priuses because it's considered sexy in Hollywood to not like fast cars. ... Meanwhile: Gas cars are getting out of hand. ... 12:50 P.M.

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