The Locker Room

December 2, 2004

Most Inappropriate, Bizarre Quote of the Day

Posted by Donna Martinez at 4:50 PM

According to this story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, this quote comes from the stepfather of the Texas woman who cut off her baby's arms and is now facing a murder charge. Mick Macaulay describes Dena Schlosser as gentle and says she could have only committed this horrific act due to mental illness. OK, I'd like to think that's true. Regardless, this quote turns my stomach considering Schlosser's offense on 10-month-old Margaret.

"This is a woman who takes birds' wings, if they're broken, and splints them and nurses them back to health," he said. "Just a very gentle person."

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Republocrats Rule

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 3:19 PM

This commentary by Matthew J. Brouillette from our sister organization the Commonwealth Foundation in Pennsylvania, gives us comfort in knowing that we are not alone in fighting a big government machine made up of both Democrats and Republicans. Brouillette points out that:

“[I]n our Pennsylvania, Republicans control both houses of the General Assembly by wide margins (109-94 in the House and 29-21 in the Senate). They could prevent all, if not most, of Gov. Rendell’s shenanigans. Yet taxes and fees increased by more than a billion dollars this year alone…[P]ersonal income taxes were raised by 10 percent. Cigarettes cost 35 cents more. Cell phones are taxed at one of the highest levels in the nation. It costs more to fish and boat. It has even become more expensive to die here.”

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The art of rhetoric survives

Posted by John Hood at 2:34 PM

Just ran across two rather pithy turns of phrase that I have to pass on in the interest of preserving good political rhetoric.

First, the new governor of New Jersey, Richad Codey, recently dismissed suggests that his non-elected status should preclude him from pursuing much in the way of policy initiatives. On his first day in the job, he announced a task force to develop mental-health reforms. “I’m an undertaker, not a caretaker,” he said.

Codey is a licensed undertaker and son of a funeral director.

Now, in National Review, a golden oldie. David Pryce-Jones, writing about the potential for Arabic peoples in Iraq and Palestine to overcome a historical legacy of absolutism, recalled this statement from the 19th century Egyptian strongman Muhammad Ali to English statesman Benjamin Disraeli: “I will have as many parliaments as the king of England. But I have made up my mind, to prevent inconvenience, to elect them myself.”

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Carolina governor proposes school choice

Posted by John Hood at 1:21 PM

OK, don’t jump to conclusions.

I mean South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican, who is pushing a five-point plan for the 2005 legislature in Columbia called “Contract for Change.” One plank is a proposed tuition-tax credit for families making less than $75,000 who incur expenses in educating their children in a non-public school, including at home, or who must pay the transportation costs of transferring a child to another public-school district. The credit can be taken against either property or income taxes.

With a GOP-controlled state legislature, this idea reportedly has a reasonable chance of passing in some form. The state’s public-school establishment is, however, organizing a massive lobbying effort against it and preparing a legal challenge if necessary.

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Some opinionated reporting

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 10:37 AM

An article in today’s Greensboro News and Record is a textbook example of how allegedly objective reporters can sneak their own (uninformed) opinions and analysis into a straightforward news story. Reporting on a law suit by retailers who are attempting to stop a new round of quotas on imported textiles, staff writer Donald Paterson opens his article by stating “The U.S. textile industry hit a potentially devastating roadblock Wednesday in its effort to head off a flood of job-robbing imports from China beginning next year.” Job robbing? Interesting assertion (insertion) of opinion, and a stupid one at that. What about the jobs that might be lost in the retail industry because of higher prices? What about the jobs created because consumers will be spending less on textile products and therefore have more to spend on other things? Later on in the article Paterson concludes, “When quotas expire, China is expected to…flood the United States with cheap imports” (he likes this word “flood”). If this is not loaded, and inaccurate, language meant go convey an opinion I don’t know what is. Note the use of the normative term “cheap,” which can apply to both price and quality, rather than “less expensive” which is clearly more accurate. And how about “flood the United States” rather than “provide American consumers with.” Gee, can we tell which side of this lawsuit Mr. Paterson on?

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Re: In the Wake of better school performance

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 10:25 AM

But wait, it gets better, and by better I mean worse. The Observer weighs in today with an edit that declares comparisons with Wake County meaningless. Mecklenburg County has so many special circumstances, you see, it cannot help but to spend more money.

Excuse me, but it is remotely possible that Judge Manning, at this late date, is unaware of differences in North Carolina public school populations? Manning simply pointed out that overall per pupil funding for CMS is substantially higher than Wake County yet test scores are lower for CMS. This suggests that misallocation of resources might be an issue for CMS.

He did not say, as the Observer seems to imply, that CMS should perform like Wake with Wake spending levels. But what Manning did do was puncture the notion that more money, more money, and more money will solve CMS' problems. That just does not fit the accepted world-view in downtown Charlotte.

Amazingly the Observer does not want CMS held to any identifiable, objective standard of performance: "Comparisons to other school districts are interesting but beside the point." What? Let me rephrase that: What?

Given that we already have an ABC test score system is that is fairly to utterly meaningless, exactly how are parents supposed to measure CMS' performance? Via CMS press release? Observer editorials? Or is that redundant?

Sorry, this was just the latest in a sudden string of downright absurd Observer edits that have me worried about the water quality down Trade and Tryon way.

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Great line about new ag commissioner election

Posted by John Hood at 10:03 AM

Today I called “ridiculous” the state board of elections decision to hold a bizarre new election for agriculture commissioner in Carteret County next month. Jule Wheatly gave the Winston-Salem Journal some choice words of his own:

Wheatly, the chairman of the Carteret County Republican Party, called the decision "totally asinine."

"It's not fair to the Democrats and Republicans who got off their butts and voted," he said. "If you win, you win. If you lose, you lose, but when you come up with some foolishness like this — we're North Carolina, we're not South America."

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On Playground Economics

Posted by John Hood at 09:36 AM

A slightly edited, still somewhat dated, version of an old “Daily Journal” article I wrote about my kids and their economics lessons is posted today on the website of the Foundation for Economic Education, which publishes The Freeman (where George Leef is the book-review editor, BTW. Thanks to Jon Sanders for the suggestion of sending the piece up to our friend Sheldon Richman, who edits The Freeman and is a longtime pal of Roy Cordato and Karen Palasek.

I’d try to drop in the names of many other Locker Roomies but I’m pressed for time. . .

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Like “Jeopardy,” the answer lies in the questions

Posted by John Hood at 09:07 AM

Bruce Buchanan, one of the state’s best education reporters, has a good piece in today’s Greensboro News & Record explaining the background of the state board of education’s decision not to throw out the ABC results for sixth-grade despite concerns about the measurement of annual growth. He picks up on a key point (as usual) that other media missed:

Part of the problem -- perhaps a major part -- comes from the state's decision not to make test score questions public after the exams are given.

Most other standardized tests, including the SAT and state tests given in Ohio and Texas, are released to the public after students take them. That way, parents and independent experts can determine if the test questions are appropriate.

But North Carolina reuses its test questions, and state officials keep them secret, despite mounting pressure. The News & Record recently filed a public records request for the end-of-grade test questions, but the N.C. Department of Public Instruction has refused to comply.

Excellent. Perhaps other folks should make the same public-records request. . .

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No Free Parking for TTA Board Members!

Posted by Paul Chesser at 08:51 AM

The Washington Post reports today that "a majority of (D.C.'s) Metro directors, who set policy for the region's subway and bus system, say they have never ridden a Metrobus or can't recall the last time they did. About half rarely or only occasionally ride the subway. And none is a daily passenger on either bus or train."

The irony of the Post's survey/interview findings is too rich:

A handful of the suburban representatives said they rode the subway to the weekly meetings at Metro's downtown headquarters. Others, including the District representatives, said they were likely to drive to the meetings and park in their free, reserved parking spots in the garage beneath headquarters near MCI Center.

(Board member Gladys) Mack said her schedule is too busy to rely on public transportation. "My travel, my destinations and my time frames make it very difficult for me to use the system," said Mack, who lives near the Friendship Heights Metro station and works near Howard University. "I would have to take two trains and two buses. . . . It just makes it very inconvenient for me to depend on the system on a regular basis."

Duh! Some enterprising reporter -- if it hasn't already been done -- needs to conduct a similar survey of all the nanny-statist lifestyle directors out there who want light rail in Raleigh and Charlotte.

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In the Wake of better school performance

Posted by John Hood at 08:47 AM

Here’s a shocker: Judge Howard Manning’s memo comparing unfavorably Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s school performance against that of Wake County’s school system was not immediately released by CMS officials. Now it’s out, and Jeff Taylor examines it over at JLF-Charlotte.

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The GOP as an abusive husband

Posted by John Hood at 08:16 AM

North Carolina blogger Matt Gross, who helped design Howard Dean’s Internet presence, has now officially become a national laughingstock because of a post-election post on his blog that James Taranto picked up on yesterday in his “Best of the Web” feature for the Wall Street Journal. It involves an extended and absurd analogy between the Democratic Party and a battered wife.

What Taranto didn’t apparently realize is that the post, not by Matt but by “Mel Gilles,” wasn’t just put up by a random visitor. She is Matt Gross’ wife.

I met him a while back at a North Carolina bloggers conference organized and hosted by Ed Cone and David Hoggard, two Greensboro bloggers. Matt is a leftie but came across as whip-smart and discerning. Appearances can be deceiving, I guess, or else one spouse should never be held responsible for what the other does (which, come to think of it, is a proposition that many spouses of JLF staffers will no doubt embrace with glee and relief).

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