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      I woke up last night feeling like I was suffocating, because in my dream I was. It began in a church, or an old university lecture hall. Antique. And everyone in attendance was being asked to say little prayers honoring Jesus. Everyone was reciting little prayers that are common among the devout. But when it was my turn, I stood and exclaimed: Jesus was a ph […]
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Mickey Kaus is a goat-f**king moron

From Zsa Zsa’s Huff&Puff:

Democrats are the party that believes in government, after all. We need to make it work for the majority of citizens. When teachers’ unions force the layoffs of good young teachers because their seniority principle is somehow sacrosanct–well, it’s not only individual public schools that suffer, but the whole idea of public education, as well as the whole idea of the social solidarity, or equality, that institutions like public schools are supposed to reinforce.

The same price is paid when the teachers’ unions prevent the firing of bad teachers–and face it, that’s what’s happening when in a district of 33,000 teachers (L.A.) only a dozen or two are forced out each year. The Republicans needn’t care that much about the resulting mediocre schools–it only makes their call for vouchers more plausible. The rich don’t need to care–their kids don’t go to public schools anymore anyway. It’s the Democrats and the non-rich who take the hit.

Uh Mickey? Perhaps you’re unclear on the concepts of “union” and “collective bargaining.”

Unions exist to give workers bargaining power, so they can obtain higher wages, better benefits and job security. A teacher with 20 years seniority would be at least in their mid-forties. That’s not a point in life that most people want to find themselves involuntarily unemployed and facing a career change. They are usually dealing with kids in college, saving for retirement and approaching middle-age.

Kaus makes the assumption that many of these people are bad teachers. Undoubtedly a few are – in any given group of 33,000 there will be some bad apples. Kaus also implies that the younger teachers are better educators. That’s hard to prove, since they have little or no record to judge them on. But one thing is certain – they are cheaper employees.

Teaching at the K-12 level isn’t just a job, it’s a vocation. Nobody enters the teaching profession to get rich – a teaching credential requires almost as much education as a doctor or lawyer, but the pay is substantially less. Teachers work long, hard hours too, including evenings and weekends spent making lesson plans, grading papers and attending continuing education classes.

Teachers’ unions don’t exist to improve education or make our society better, anymore than the UAW was formed to build better cars. But teachers as a group are some of our most dedicated public servants.

People become teachers because they love kids and want to help them grow and learn. Talk to anyone studying for their teaching credential and they don’t talk about the salary and benefits, they talk about the kids.

The budget problems with our schools isn’t the fault of the teachers, it’s the screwed up funding process, including the legacy of Prop 13 that still haunts our state. Paying for education is an investment in our future. As the teachers say, “if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Teachers are also not to blame for the myriad social ills that make some schools “mediocre.” Try teaching 5th grade in an impoverished inner city where many of the kids are reading at a 1st or 2nd grade level. If you think that is because the K-4 teachers failed to do their jobs, you’re suffering from pietrisycamollaviadelrechiotemexity.

If Kaus wants to go after a union he should take on the prison guards. They make more money than teachers, and they fund initiatives to create new crimes and increase the penalties on the old ones. When a politician says “Lock ’em up and throw away the key” the prison guard unions smile.

Mickey Kaus is running for Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat. On her worst day she’s better than Kaus could be in 100 years. That’s not an endorsement of her, it’s an indictment against him.

BTW – if you google “Mickey Kaus” the autocomplete function will offer “Mickey Kaus blows goats” as one of the top options.

Friday News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!! TGIF!!! I’m a little behind schedule this morning. I stayed up late watching the Celtics lose to the Lakers alternating with Anderson Cooper decimating the BP and Obama administration response to the ecological and economic catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.


BP managed to get a cap in place on the riser pipe, and they claim that some oil is being captured; but oil can still be seen gushing out into the Gulf.

BP’s Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said it will be later in the day before they know how much is being captured.

“There is flow coming up the pipe. Just now, I don’t know the exact rate,” Suttles said on NBC’s “Today” show.

At The Oil Drum, “Heading Out” offers a pretty clear explanation of the process of capping the riser. According to Heading out, the cap is in place but isn’t on tight enough to seal the opening. Thus there is still plenty of oil and gas coming out.

A commenter on the Heading Out’s post linked to this ABC News story about how BP and the government have handled the media throughout this crisis. According to the story, it was clear in 2002 that the oil industry and the Coast Guard did not have the technical expertise or the equipment to deal with a spill of this magnitude.

Attention to handling the media response to a major oil spill was just one focus of the four elaborate exercises staged by the U.S. Coast Guard over the past decade, the after action reports show.

As early as 2002, the practice runs also indicated that oil companies lacked updated equipment to mount an effective response to a spill, and would need to be forced by the government to invest in better technology.

“Without requirements in place to require use of new response technologies they will not be developed and deployed adequately,” said an after-action report from the summer 2002 drill that simulated an oil leak from a sunken rig in the Gulf of Mexico that was eerily similar to the current disaster. “There is little incentive for [oil companies] to invest in them and therefore, little incentive for technology companies to develop or refine these technologies further.”

Those requirements were never forced on the companies and, as a result, the oil spill response underway in the Gulf is being mounted with booms and skimmers that some industry experts described as antiquated and of limited value.

Last night, Anderson Cooper asked why the government could not have provided an expert spokesman to explain to the American people exactly what was going on last night and during other attempts to stop the spill.

Cooper and his guests discussed how JFK responded after the Soviets put Sputnik into orbit before the U.S. was able to send a satellite into orbit. JFK responded by saying that we would land on the moon. He mobilized the resources and we did it. And there were always explanations on TV of what was happening during the space program. So why couldn’t the government do that now with the oil spill? Why isn’t the President out every day pushing us to mobilize resources to develop alternative energy sources and to hold oil companies and government agencies responsible?

I have to hand it to Cooper. He really is doing a good job right now bringing attention to what is happening to wildlife and people in the wake of this terrible disaster. But where is the government response? Oh yeah, President Obama went on Larry King Live and said in a monotone, “I am furious.”

Of course no one believes Obama is furious, because it is all “just words.” We don’t need the President to emote; we need him to take action and lead. And this guy just doesn’t seem to be capable of being a real leader.

Here’s a more upbeat story: BP’s Survival in Doubt After Gulf Oil Spill

In a widely circulated research note, London-based Abuthnot analyst Dougie Youngson wrote earlier this week: “The key question now is whether BP, and not just BP CEO Tony Hayward, can survive.”

Lysle Brinker, co-head of the equity department at IHS Herold, agreed that the oil giant is staggering. “In any scenario, from worst case to best case, there is a strong likelihood that BP will emerge from this situation with a much changed corporate and ownership structure than it had before,” Brinker said. “You can’t rule out bankruptcy or a takeover, but we think it is more likely that to compete going forward BP will need to take on some form of minority equity partner. A closer relationship with a large national oil company, possibly of Chinese origin, is a percentage-play scenario.”


Some moronic state senator in South Carolina decided to shoot his mouth off when he probably should have just had another doughnut.

A longtime South Carolina state Senator with a reputation for blunt language used the term “raghead” to describe Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and President Obama during an appearance on a political talk show Thursday.

Haley is of Indian-American descent.

State Sen. Jake Knotts, who backs Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer in the four-way Republican primary battle, made the remark during an interview on “Pub Politics,” a popular online political talk show in Columbia.

“We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion,” Knotts said, according to multiple people present for the broadcast.

Disgusting. What an a-hole!

The unemployment situation still sucks, and the Villagers still couldn’t care less.

Employers in the U.S. hired fewer workers in May than forecast and Americans dropped out of the labor force, showing a lack of confidence in the recovery that may lead to slower economic growth.

Staff reductions at companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Citigroup Inc. indicate a slowing in the labor market that threatens to restrain consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said yesterday that unemployment was exacting a heavy toll, showing why economists forecast interest rates will remain low.


Bernanke yesterday said joblessness is among the “important concerns” for the recovery.

I’ll believe the Villagers are concerned when I see real action.

Remember Natalee Holloway? I’m sure you do, and you probably heard that the primary suspect in her disappearance five years ago, Joran van der Sloot, has been arrested in Chile after a young woman was found dead in his hotel room in Peru. He had supposedly been in Peru to participate in a poker tournament. Among his other activities in the past five years, van der Sloot reportedly had visited Thailand hoping to become a human trafficker.

LIMA, Peru (AP) — A Dutchman who has long been a suspect in the disappearance of an Alabama teenager in Aruba five years ago was arrested Thursday in connection with the murder of a young woman in Peru.

The woman, Stephany Flores, 21, was killed in a Lima hotel on Sunday, five years to the day after the Alabama teenager, Natalee Holloway, disappeared.

The suspect, Joran van der Sloot, was escorted by three police officers as he entered a police station in Santiago, Chile, on Thursday. He did not comment as he entered, walking calmly and without handcuffs as reporters shouted his name.

The murdered women, Stephany Flores was seen with van der Sloot entering his hotel room at 5AM on Sunday. At 9AM Sunday, van der Sloot checked out of the hotel, and the woman’s body was found in his room on Wednesday.

In addition to being a murder suspect, van der Sloot has been charged with extortion in Alabama, where he “tried to sell details” about Natalee Holloway’s disappearance.

Can we just put this guy away now so we never have to see or hear about him ever again?

What are you reading this morning? Please post your links in the comments, and have a fabulous Friday.