Things I am passionate about. Injustice, stupidity, intolerance, bigotry and small-mindedness. Oh and there might just be some humor to offset the whole thing.

Archive for January, 2008

For the mature woman who has everything: A Boy-Toy

Posted by morganwrites on January 31, 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters)Wanted: rich older women interested in hot younger guys. Applicants must be over 35, earn at least $500,000 a year or have a minimum of $4 million in liquid assets, entrusted assets or divorce settlement.

That’s the basis of a speed-dating event organized by a New York entrepreneur bringing together 20 “sugar mamas” and 20 “boy toys” vetted by an elite New York matchmaker.

“Symbiosis has allowed ugly rich men to attract young, gorgeous, money-hungry women for centuries; it’s now the women’s turn,” proclaims, the Web site that Jeremy Abelson is using to promote the event.

Set to take place at Manhattan’s 230 Fifth club on February 7, it has attracted more than just wealthy divorcees. Nancy Richards, 50, is the owner of a marketing firm and a theater producer in New York and London.

“Is it truly what I am looking for? No. Is it an option? Why not? In New York City anything goes,” Richards said with a laugh.

Speed-dating pairs up prospective couples for face-to-face meetings that last just a few minutes. The partners rotate over the course of the evening, allowing participants to make the acquaintance of many potential partners.

“I find younger guys will usually be totally into you while older guys will be looking over your shoulder at a younger woman,” said Gail Garrison, 44, a fashion designer and former model.

“Younger men expect an older woman to be more accomplished. They are looking for you because you are intelligent. They are not looking for a mother,” she said.

Abelson, 27, calls it “Natural Selection Speed Date II: Sugar Mamas & Boy Toys.” He came up with the idea after drawing criticism from feminists for organizing an event last year that paired wealthy older men with young women.

More than 5,000 men applied for a place in this year’s event. Twenty finalists were selected.

“I think for men it is an incredible fantasy (to be with an older woman),” Abelson said. “Older women are more experienced and they know what they want.”

The prospective boy toys — who had to be under 35 — were screened by Janice Spindel, billed as New York’s most exclusive matchmaker.

“I really think a lot of people will connect,” Spindel said. “Age is just a number, and some people are unlisted.”

Wonder how the NOW crowd will react to this bit of news.


Posted in boy-toy, feminists, older women, speed-dating, sugar mamas | 2 Comments »

This Bastard Should Be Shot!

Posted by morganwrites on January 31, 2008

New York Doctor Charged With Taking Mom’s Cash!

A physician was charged Wednesday with stealing his 94-year-old mother’s life savings of more than $800,000 and leaving her virtually impoverished.”He took pretty much all that she had,” Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said Wednesday when he announced the indictment of Dr. Robin Motz. He said Motz’ mother, Minnie, now lives on a small pension and Social Security.

Motz, 68, was accused of stealing $832,453 from his mother after taking control of her finances through a power of attorney in 2003.

Morgenthau said Motz spent the money on flat screen TVs and other luxuries, travel to the Bahamas, Mexico and Hong Kong, and on his vacation house in Hillsdale, N.Y.

“This is a mini-Astor case,” Morgenthau said, referring to charges pending against Anthony Marshall, who is accused of massive thefts from his mother, society grande dame and philanthropist Brooke Astor.

Motz was arraigned in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court where he pleaded not guilty to second-degree grand larceny and second-degree money laundering. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on either count.

Motz’ lawyer, Sean Dwyer, said his client “is devastated by this, but we’re looking forward to the chance to defend him.”

Justice John Cataldo released Motz on $200,000 cash bail and scheduled his next court date for Jan. 30.

Motz, who lives on the Upper East Side with his third wife, is an internist who practices in Englewood, N.J., and has admitting privileges at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.

Minnie Motz, a retired librarian, was mentally alert but had some physical ailments, Morgenthau said. He said Motz told his mother he was using her power of attorney — the legal right to make decisions for her — to consolidate her bank accounts to aid him in paying her bills.

In early 2004, Morgenthau said, Motz moved his mother’s investment accounts from Oppenheimer & Co. to Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. where he had an account. He depleted the accounts by paying his own $400,000 credit card bills, paying a contractor $200,000 for working on his vacation house, paying his racket club dues, and giving large cash gifts to his children.

Motz’ mother learned of her financial predicament when her Upper West Side co-op levied a special assessment to cover the cost of rebuilding a retaining wall which had collapsed and she was unable to pay it.

With Minnie Motz facing eviction, the building’s management called a social worker who contacted the district attorney’s Elder Abuse Unit. That unit started an immediate investigation, Morgenthau said.

I have nothing to say. Perhaps someone from New York will read this and take appropriate action.

Posted in Bahamas, Colubia Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Robin Motz, Elder Abuse Unit, Hong Kong, injustice, Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau, Mexico, Minnie Motz, mother faces eviction, thief | Leave a Comment »

Protest against FAA

Posted by morganwrites on January 30, 2008

The skies won’t seem especially friendly to anyone taking off from Philadelphia International Airport if they notice what a suburban couple wrote on the roof of their home.

“(Expletive) U FAA,” the message reads, though one letter of the profane word is substituted with an underline. Below that it is a picture of a plane with a slash through it and the words “no fly zone.”Homeowner Michael Hall and his girlfriend, Michaelene Buddy, are angry that jets have been flying over their house since last month, when the Federal Aviation Administration altered departure headings out of Philadelphia. Hall says he has to sleep with earplugs.

He said he and Buddy also were frustrated after being unable to leave a message with the FAA’s noise-complaint hot line because the voice mailbox was always full. So they issued their complaint in roof sealant and 7-foot-tall letters about two weeks ago.

“Just doing it made me feel better, but I’d still like to say what I wrote directly to the idiot head of the FAA,” Hall told the Philadelphia Daily News for Thursday’s editions.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters had no comment.

The flight changes are part of a massive restructuring of the airspace over the congested corridor between New York and Philadelphia.

The couple’s Ridley Township home is in Delaware County, southwest of Philadelphia. The county argues in a lawsuit that the FAA’s environmental-impact study violated federal regulations and that the new flight paths will only marginally reduce airport delays.

Isn’t this the best! Screw with me will ya! Applause for Michael and Michaelene!

Posted in FAA, idiotic, no fly zone, Philadelphia International Airport | 1 Comment »

Editing Hillary’s Story

Posted by morganwrites on January 29, 2008

NYTimes story by Gail Collins.

Last summer, I asked Hillary Clinton if she had any reservations about using her husband in her campaign. She said no, that having Bill on the team was “a great gift. I have always believed you should get the very best people to advise you.”I never really made use of the interview. At the time, it was hard to complain about the former president’s role. Publicly, he was limited to the occasional stump speech, telling crowds what a good senator his wife was, and how she had helped a small businessman market his fishing poles to Scandinavia. He had a peculiar line about how he had told her back at Yale Law School that he’d met all the great minds of their generation and hers was the finest. Even if that seemed a tad over the top, supportive spouse is a role that provides latitude for excessive enthusiasm. After all, Laura Bush always used to assure people that her George was up to the job.But now Bill is all over the place — campaign guru, surrogate candidate, one-man first response team. By next week, he’ll be designing the bumper stickers.

The Democratic elders are wringing their hands about the ex-president’s rants at Barack Obama, worrying that he’ll alienate black voters. That doesn’t seem all that likely. African-Americans have stuck with the Democrats through a lot worse than a fight over who said what about Ronald Reagan’s legacy.

And you can’t deny the Clintons’ double-teaming is throwing Barack off his game. “I can’t tell who I’m running against sometimes,” he complained during Monday’s debate.

But in the process, they’re ruining the central selling point of her campaign, the story that explains why she’s the one a dispirited country should trust to make things better.

Every candidacy has one. Barack’s is about the child of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya whose very lineage makes him the vehicle for a transcendent national unity. Hillary’s isn’t how the smart girl from Illinois who overcame every obstacle fate could throw at her to become the first woman president. Instead, it’s a version of the story we love best of all, about second chances and the American capacity to turn failure into redemption.

She admits she messed up during her early first lady years. The health care plan was a disaster. Travelgate is still too embarrassing to go near. “Oh, we made so many mistakes,” she said last summer, waving away the woes of 1993 and 1994 in one fell swoop, all the while referring to the first Clinton presidency in the first person plural.

Her biggest error was taking a major policy role in her husband’s administration. During the 1992 campaign many people, including me, were offended when the public seemed to want to limit Hillary to the adoring gaze and cookie-baking role. But the public was onto something. It wasn’t Hillary’s gender that was the problem, it was her status as spouse.

It’s almost never a good idea for the boss to bring a husband/wife into management. It muddies up the lines of authority, and it lets personal relationships contaminate the professional ones. As every sentient being on the planet knows, the Clintons have an extremely complicated marriage, and sticking it smack in the middle of the chain of command caused chaos.

The implicit promise of Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy was that she had learned from Clinton I. In her, Americans would have a candidate who had been in the very center of White House decision-making. And the very fact that so much had gone wrong was added value. She is nothing if not a good learner, and — the story went — she had discovered at great price where all the landmines lay, both in the presidency and her own character. And she had forged a separate political identity in seven years in the Senate. During an era when the challenges to a new president could be sudden and overwhelming — and here Hillary isn’t ashamed to play the terror card — she was uniquely prepared to hit the ground running and achieve the greatest do-over in American history.

Now, Bill’s role as Chief Attack Dog undermines all that. If he’s all over her campaign, he’s going to be all over her administration. Instead of the original promise of the thoroughly educated Hillary, we’re being offered the worst-case scenario — that the pair of them are going to return to Pennsylvania Avenue and recreate the old Clinton chaos.

A lot of people are O.K. with that. (After all, we’ve lived for seven years with a disciplined Oval Office that runs like clockwork while it spreads chaos everywhere else.) Only it’s not change, it’s not a breakthrough moment in American history. It’s just a nervous decision that we’d rather go back than risk going forward.

It’s a story, all right, with Bill at the center. If Hillary expects anybody to get misty-eyed about the first woman president at the inauguration, she’s got to send him home and go back to the original plotline.

Posted in African-Americans, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Rants, revisionism, Ronald Regan's legacy, travelagate, untruths | Leave a Comment »

Doobie-doobie dont?

Posted by morganwrites on January 28, 2008

Medical Pot not OK at work California Court Decides.

Employers can fire workers who use medical marijuana even if it was legally recommended by a doctor, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday, dealing the state another setback in its standoff with federal law enforcement.The high court upheld a small Sacramento telecommunications company’s firing of a man who flunked a company-ordered drug test. Gary Ross held a medical marijuana card authorizing him to use the drug to treat a back injury sustained while serving in the Air Force.

The company, Ragingwire Inc., argued that it rightfully fired Ross because all marijuana use is illegal under federal law, which does not recognize the medical marijuana laws in California and 11 other states.

The justices upheld that argument in a 5-2 decision.

“No state law could completely legalize marijuana for medical purposes because the drug remains illegal under federal law,” Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote for the majority.

The U.S. Supreme Court declared in 2005 that state medicinal marijuana laws don’t protect users from prosecution. The Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies have been actively shutting down major medical marijuana dispensaries throughout California over the last two years and charging their operators with felony distribution charges.

Ragingwire said it fired Ross because it feared it could be the target of a federal raid, among other reasons.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the Western Electrical Contractors Association Inc. had joined Ragingwire’s case, arguing that companies could lose federal contracts and grants if they allowed employees to smoke pot.

The conservative nonprofit Pacific Legal Foundation said in a friend-of-the-court filing that employers could also be liable for damage done by high workers.

Ross had argued that medical marijuana users should receive the same workplace protection from discipline that employees with valid painkiller prescriptions do. California voters legalized medicinal marijuana in 1996.

The nonprofit marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, which represents Ross, estimates that 300,000 Americans use medical marijuana. The Oakland-based group said it has received hundreds of employee discrimination complaints in California since it began tracking the issue in 2005.

Safe Access attorney Joe Elford said the group will now focus on urging the Legislature to pass a law protecting workers who use medical marijuana.

“We remain confident that there will be a day when medical marijuana patients are not discriminated against in the workplace,” he said.

Assemblyman Mark Leno, a Democrat who represents part of San Francisco, said he will introduce legislation addressing those concerns in the next few weeks.

The ruling “strikes a serious blow to patients’ rights,” he said.

Eleven states have adopted medical-marijuana laws similar to California’s: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The American Medical Association advocates keeping marijuana classified as a tightly controlled and dangerous drug that should not be legalized until more research is done.

Posted in Americans for Safe Access, Calirornia Court, DEA, Gary Ross, Joe Elford, Mark Leno, Medical Pot, Pacific Legal Foundation, prosecution, Ragingwire Inc., San Francisco, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, Western Electrical Contratcots Assn. | Leave a Comment »

Obama kicks Hillary’s Ass!

Posted by morganwrites on January 27, 2008

Barack Obama routed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the racially charged South Carolina primary Saturday night, regaining campaign momentum in the prelude to a Feb. 5 coast-to-coast competition for more than 1,600 Democratic National Convention delegates.

“The choice in this election is not about regions or religions or genders,” Obama said at a boisterous victory rally. “It’s not about rich versus poor, young versus old and it’s not about black versus white. It’s about the past versus the future.”

The audience chanted “Race doesn’t matter” as it awaited Obama to make his appearance after rolling up 55 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

But it did, in a primary that shattered turnout records.

About half the voters were black, according to polling place interviews, and four out of five of them supported Obama. Black women turned out in particularly large numbers. Obama, the first-term Illinois senator, got about a quarter of the white vote while Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina split the rest.

Clinton flew to Nashville as the polls closed, and looked ahead. “Now the eyes of the country turn to Tennessee and the other states voting on Feb. 5,” she said, adding “millions and millions of Americans are going to have their voices heard.”

Edwards finished a distant third, a sharp setback in the state where he was born and scored a primary victory in his first presidential campaign four years ago. Even so, he vowed to remain in the race, his goal, he said, to “give voice to all those whose voices aren’t being heard.”

The victory was Obama’s first since he won the kickoff Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3. Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, scored an upset in the New Hampshire primary a few days later. They split the Nevada caucuses, she winning the turnout race, he gaining a one-delegate margin. In an historic race, she hopes to become the first woman to occupy the White House, and Obama is the strongest black contender in history.

The South Carolina primary marked the end of the first phase of the campaign for the Democratic nomination, a series of single-state contests that winnowed the field, conferred co-front-runner status on Clinton and Obama but had relatively few delegates at stake.

That all changes in 10 days’ time, when New York, Illinois and California are among the 15 states holding primaries in a virtual nationwide primary. Another seven states and American Samoa will hold Democratic caucuses on the same day.

Obama took a thinly veiled swipe at Clinton in his remarks.

“We are up against conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as president comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose — a higher purpose,” Obama said.

Looking ahead to Feb. 5, he added that “nearly half the nation will have the chance to join us in saying that we are tired of business-as-usual in Washington, we are hungry for change, and we are ready to believe again.”

Nearly complete returns showed Obama winning 55 percent of the vote, Clinton gaining 27 percent. Edwards had 18 percent and won only his home county of Oconee.

Obama also gained 25 convention delegates, Clinton won 12 and Edwards eight.

Overall, Clinton has 249 delegates, followed by Obama with 167 and Edwards with 58.

Obama also gained an endorsement from Caroline Kennedy, who likened the Illinois senator to her late father, President John F. Kennedy.

“I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them,” she wrote on The New York Times op-ed page. “But for the first time, I believe I have found a man who could be that president — and not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.”

All three contenders campaigned in South Carolina on primary day, but only Obama and Edwards arranged to speak to supporters after the polls closed. Clinton left for Tennessee as the polls were closing. After playing a muted role in the earlier contests, the issue of race dominated an incendiary week that included a shift in strategy for Obama, a remarkably bitter debate and fresh scrutiny of former President Clinton’s role in his wife’s campaign.

Each side accused the other of playing the race card, sparking a controversy that frequently involved Bill Clinton.

“They are getting votes, to be sure, because of their race or gender. That’s why people tell me Hillary doesn’t have a chance of winning here,” the former president said at one stop as he campaigned for his wife, strongly suggesting that blacks would not support a white alternative to Obama.

Clinton campaign strategists denied any intentional effort to stir the racial debate. But they said they believe the fallout has had the effect of branding Obama as “the black candidate,” a tag that could hurt him outside the South.

Nearly six in 10 voters said the former president’s efforts for his wife was important to their choice, and among them, slightly more favored Obama than the former first lady.

Overall, Obama defeated Clinton among both men and women.

The exit polls showed the economy was the most important issue in the race. About one quarter picked health care. And only one in five said it was the war in Iraq, underscoring the extent to which the once-dominant issue has faded in the face of financial concerns.

Posted in Barack Obama, Caroline Kennedy, DNC, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards | 5 Comments »

Florida Governor Endorses McCain

Posted by morganwrites on January 27, 2008

St. PETERSBURG, FLA. (AP) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed a beaming Sen. John McCain on Saturday night, delivering a boost three days before the state’s pivotal primary.

Crist praised McCain as a “true American hero.” At a county GOP dinner in St. Petersburg, Crist added, “After thinking about it as much as I have, I don’t think anybody would do better than the man who stands next to me, Sen. John McCain.”It was the second high-profile endorsement in as many days for McCain, who is locked in a tight primary race with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Crist stepped to the podium a little more than 24 hours after Sen. Mel Martinez announced he was backing his colleague in the Senate. Officials said Martinez, who campaigned Saturday with McCain, had prodded the governor to follow his lead.

Crist said he would campaign for McCain in the coming days. “I just feel in my heart he’s the right man for the job at the right time,” he told reporters afterward.

The winner of next week’s primary will capture all 57 delegates at stake, a large prize that will set the stage for a virtual nationwide primary on Feb. 5.

Crist’s endorsement was sought by all the GOP presidential rivals, including Romney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

McCain said the nod “means a lot in this race.”

“I’m honored and privileged,” McCain told reporters. “And I intend to work very closely with him on the issues. We’ve got to provide home insurance for every person who lives in the path of a hurricane. We are going to have to work together to save the Everglades and other great environmental treasures of this state.”

He quipped: “We will continue to compete for both baseball spring training and for tourism.”

McCain does not support a national catastrophic insurance fund for Florida and other hurricane-prone states, instead saying he could bring industry and government together to protect homeowners. Crist does support a national fund.

It’s unclear what effect the two endorsements will have on McCain’s candidacy.

At the very least, the nods of Florida’s two top Republican elected officials could serve to validate McCain’s candidacy with the GOP establishment and counteract the fears among some that he would not be a loyal Republican while in the Oval Office.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, in an e-mail to the Associated Press, said: “I respect the governor’s decision but Republican voters will determine who they want among very fine candidates. I look forward to working for our party’s nominee in the general election.”

Bush has not endorsed a candidate but many of his allies and aides have backed Romney.

Crist, a popular first-term governor, had suggested he would stay out of the multi-candidate GOP primary, and played coy about his preferences for a year. He met with all the serious contenders, and appeared with some at events.

McCain campaigned for Crist during his 2006 campaign for governor, endorsing him before the primary and appearing with him the day before the election, when Crist opted not to appear with President Bush at a Pensacola rally.

Giuliani also campaigned with Crist, and Romney delivered a $1 million check as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

While Crist has met with other Republican candidates in his office, he took an extra step last spring by introducing McCain at a fundraiser held a few blocks from the Capitol. During a debate last fall, when Crist introduced the Republican candidates, he warmly embraced McCain while shaking the hands of his rivals.

Crist has been seen as a moderate Republican. He has championed efforts to curb climate change, and was praised by former President Clinton for his efforts to restore voting rights of felons who have completed their sentences.

He also pushed for a law that requires a paper trail in state elections, a measure that bans the electronic voting machines his predecessor, Gov. Jeb Bush, sought after the 2000 presidential election. That election ended in a hotly contested recount, which President Bush won by 537 votes.

Say it isn’t so. John McCain as president? OMG.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Archbishop Pleads Guilty in Sex Case

Posted by morganwrites on January 27, 2008

The 80-year-old leader of a megachurch pleaded guilty Wednesday to lying under oath about his sexual affairs and was sentenced to 10 years’ probation. Archbishop Earl Paullk, who has been in ill health, was also fined $1,000 on a single felony count.


Archbishop Earl Paullk

The charges stem from a 2006 deposition Paulk gave in a lawsuit against him, his brother Don and the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church by former church employee Mona Brewer, who said she was coerced into an affair.

In the deposition, Earl Paulk said under oath that the only woman with whom he had ever had sex outside his marriage was Brewer. But the results of a court-ordered paternity test revealed in October that Paulk is the biological father of his brother’s son, D.E. Paulk, who is now head pastor at the church.

As part of Brewer’s lawsuit, eight women have given sworn depositions that they were coerced into sexual relationships with Earl Paulk.

“It was a fair and just resolution of the case for a man who has lived his whole life and done wonderful things but made a mistake,” said Earl Paulk’s attorney, Joel Pugh. “He’s ready to move on.”

Paulk turned himself in to authorities Tuesday night after a warrant was issued for his arrest the previous day. The warrant was the result of a months-long probe by Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Head called the sentence “certainly adequate” for Paulk, who had never been charged criminally before.

Paulk could have been sentenced to as many as 10 years in prison. Cox said the sentence was not unusual for someone like Paulk, who has no prior record and whose health is “frail.”

Paulk has been in bad health for the past couple of years after a battle with cancer, limiting his activity with the independent charismatic church he and his brother founded in 1960.

At its peak in the early 1990s, the Cathedral at Chapel Hill claimed about 10,000 members and 24 pastors and was a media powerhouse. The church was able to build a Bible college, two schools, a worldwide TV ministry and a $12 million sanctuary outside Atlanta.

Today, membership is down to about 1,500; the church has 18 pastors, most of them volunteers; and the Bible college and TV ministry have closed — a downturn blamed largely on fallout from the sex scandals.

The bastard’s probably a good friend of Mike. Fined $1,000 – BFD – what a joke.


Posted in Archbishop Earl Paulk, biological father of nephew, felony, idiotic, Mona Brewer, Shame shame shame | Leave a Comment »

New York City Parents angered by schools’ report cards

Posted by morganwrites on January 26, 2008

From the AP.
Thanks to heavy parent involvement and high test scores, Public School 321 in Park Slope, a yuppie neighborhood in Brooklyn, is considered a gem of New York City’s public school system.
Lee Solomon takes her daughter to schoole at P.S. 146 in Brooklyn
In the eyes of New York’s Department of Education, however, P.S. 321 deserved just a B in the city’s first-ever school report cards, which are based largely on how students score on standardized tests.

Such accountability efforts — widespread since the advent of the federal No Child Left Behind Act — have raised the hackles of parents and educators across the country, who fault the methodology and question the wisdom of tying test results to the job safety of teachers and principals.

Now parents in the nation’s largest school system are voicing similar concerns about the grades, released in November as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s push to turn around underperforming schools.

“It really saddens me that this is how the Department of Education thinks that parents are best served, by boiling everything that happens in an entire school to a letter grade,” said Lee Solomon, the mother of a first-grader at the Brooklyn New School, a sought-after school that accepts students only by lottery but got a C.

Educators have debated the push toward testing since No Child Left Behind was enacted in 2002 at President Bush’s urging. While some studies show that student achievement in reading and math has increased, teachers complain that they are forced to teach to the tests and to give up “frills” like music, art and recess.

A 2006 survey by the Washington-based Center on Education Policy found that since the passage of the federal law, 71 percent of the nation’s 15,000 school districts had reduced the hours of instructional time spent on history, music and and other subjects to open up more time for reading and math.

Jim Devor, the father of a fifth-grader at P.S. 58 in Brooklyn — which got a D on its report card_ said students there were “strongly invited” to attend Saturday test-prep sessions but have no time to discuss current events like the presidential campaign.

“I’m appalled at how little my child knows about social studies,” he said. “They’re all obsessed with test prep.”

Bloomberg, who is considering an independent presidential run, won mayoral control of schools in 2002 and has sought to make education reform a key part of his legacy.

James Liebman, chief accountability officer for New York City schools, devised the grading system for the city’s 1.1 million-pupil school system.

Liebman said standardized tests are a good measure of whether students have learned what they should know.

“If children can’t read and they can’t do math, then the educational system and their school have failed them,” he said.

For New York’s middle and elementary schools, 85 percent of the grade is based on performance on standardized tests, while high schools are judged on graduation rates, New York State Regents exam scores and other factors.

The school letter grades are based on a complex formula that tracks students’ test scores from year to year and measures each school against the system as a whole and against schools that are demographically similar.

A school with few pupils performing at grade level can get an A if its test scores improve, while a school where virtually all the students are reading, writing and calculating at grade level can get a C if its scores slip.

If a school gets a low grade two years in a row and scores poorly on a performance review, the principal’s job may be be at risk.

Critics complain that Liebman, the system’s architect, is a law professor with no background in education.

“All of their ideas are business ideas,” said Diane Ravitch, an education historian and former assistant U.S. secretary of education. “It’s about incentives and punishment. Those are not educational ideas.”

But those critics apparently are in the minority. Liebman pointed to a Quinnipiac University poll in which voters said the grades were fair by a margin of 61 to 27 percent.

“It’s a system to provide information to parents to make their own judgments,” he said.

Not all parents believe it’s helpful.

State Assemblyman Mark Weprin, a Democrat and a public school parent, said he worked to secure funding for a theater program but schools in his Queens district didn’t want it between January and March because they’re busy with test prep.

“This is hurting my son’s education,” he said. “It’s all based on the faulty premise that school tests are measuring what kids are learning.”

Posted in Brooklyn, Center on Education Policy, James Liebman, May Bloomberg, New York Department of Education, No Child Left Behind, Public School, yuppie neighborhood | Leave a Comment »

Between Pulpit and Podium, Huckabee Straddles Fine Line

Posted by morganwrites on January 26, 2008

Here’s a story that aired a week ago – sorry, I had more important items to get out and this one just wasn’t that important to me ’cause I think Huckabee as president would do more harm to this country than 911.


Mike visited a polling place in Columbia , South Carolina.  Whopee!

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Mike Huckabee mentioned his faith only glancingly in his stump speech this week at North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C. Discussing presidential decisions that will matter after he is long gone, he added: “By the way, I have made arrangements for what happens after that, and it’s all good. It’s all good.”

No one missed his allusion to the afterlife at North Greenville, a Southern Baptist college, where the college president pulled back Mr. Huckabee to expand on his “salvation experience” as a 10-year-old at summer Bible school.

“I didn’t want to get dirty, because I have never felt so clean in my life,” Mr. Huckabee told a hushed crowd of several hundred.

Between his droll performance and heartfelt encore runs the delicate line that Mr. Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister before becoming governor of Arkansas, walks as he tries to fire up his fellow evangelical Christians to vote for one of their own without unnerving more secular-minded voters.

His advisers say he has counted on the support of existing networks of conservative Christian activists to help propel his shoestring campaign to a victory on Saturday in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary, just as they did in the Iowa caucuses two weeks ago.

Evangelicals are expected to make up an even larger share of South Carolina primary voters, and recent polls show Mr. Huckabee locked in a close race with Senator John McCain of Arizona.

“What we didn’t know initially was would all the Christian right activists that Karl Rove built up over the last eight years come to us and give us a ground force, and that is what we have proved over the last several weeks,” said Ed Rollins, Mr. Huckabee’s national chairman. Mr. Rollins described a two-pronged pitch, playing up Mr. Huckabee’s Christian convictions to fellow evangelists and his empathy for working people to more secular voters.

But as Mr. Huckabee has moved to the front of the Republican field and as the race will now quickly move beyond the Bible Belt, his ability to harmonize both elements is under new scrutiny from the liberal and conservative sides of the pew.

Some evangelical observers say they marvel at Mr. Huckabee’s knack for making even the most conservative tenets of orthodox Southern Baptist faith, about creation, the accuracy of the Bible or gender roles, sound downright moderate when he is speaking in television interviews or at public debates.

“He is like Houdini,” said Oran P. Smith, president of a Christian conservative group, the Palmetto Family Council, admiring Mr. Huckabee’s recent defense of an official Southern Baptist statement about the family that he endorsed eight years ago.

The statement said, “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband,” and “serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.”

Many Southern Baptists understand that to mean that just men are meant to occupy certain leadership roles like church pastor.

But in a debate last week in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Mr. Huckabee said the position required no subordination at all. It meant, he said, both husbands and wives “mutually showing their affection and submission as unto the Lord.”

“Biblically,” he added, “marriage is a 100-100 deal. Each partner gives 100 percent of their devotion to the other.”

Mr. Smith said, “It was masterful.” He was “still struggling,” Mr. Smith added, to understand just how Mr. Huckabee had put together his answer.

Mr. Huckabee has not always been so graceful. Speaking to a not-particularly religious crowd near Detroit on Monday, before the Michigan primary, he slipped into an argument to amend the Constitution to ban abortion and same-sex marriage, “so it’s in God’s standards, rather than try to change God’s standards.”

“Does it mean that the Constitution does not measure up to God’s standards? Is the Constitution anti-God?” asked Ted Olsen, an influential online commentator for an evangelical standard-bearer, Christianity Today. “Honestly, I’m thinking that this quote probably cost Huckabee more evangelical votes than it won him.”

By Friday morning, Mr. Huckabee had backed away from his comments, saying in an interview with CNN that he understood the Constitution as a “secular document” and had described his support for those amendments “a little more awkwardly than I have in the past.”

In debates and other interviews, Mr. Huckabee has frequently complained he is unfairly singled out for theological questions. “Everybody says religion is off limits, except we always can ask me the religious question,” he said in the recent Republican debate in Myrtle Beach.

And he has deflected some religious questions like his views about the eternity awaiting non-Christians. He has definite views about that, he said, but they are not relevant to public office.

In another debate, though, he interrupted Rudolph W. Giuliani for a chance to answer a religious question.

“Can I help you out, Mayor, on this one?” Mr. Huckabee volunteered.

But although his closing speeches barely mention religion, his final commercials here, on television and Christian radio, have entirely focused on his Christian credentials. “Faith doesn’t just influence me,” Mr. Huckabee says in one commercial. “It defines me.”

He has indeed made an art of escaping politically delicate questions about theology. He has said he favors the biblical account of creation over Darwinian evolution, but he also said he considered the two approaches largely compatible, with God’s potential role limited to the original jump-start, a view many liberal Christians endorse.

“Did he take the rib out of Adam?” Mr. Huckabee told Charlie Rose in an interview. “I have no reason to believe he didn’t. But I don’t know.”

He said there was “a strong body of science that really can put forth the argument for an evolutionary process,” but also “room for believing” in God as “a prime mover” in the process.

Such answers may not be complete statements of Southern Baptist orthodoxy, Mr. Smith of the Palmetto Family Council said, but a fuller statement of a “judgmental” faith is not likely to win Mr. Huckabee many votes outside the evangelical world.

The real question, Mr. Smith added, is, How does he decide when to say, ‘‘I am not going to answer that,’’ and when to do his Houdini routine?

David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Washington, and Michael Powell from South Carolina.


No, no comments from me.  I don’t want to ruin my appetite.  

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