Wednesday, January 30, 2008

NOW, that's an outrage

I never thought I'd find myself on the same side of anything as Ted Kennedy -- until NOW.  A press release from The New York Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) has attacked Senator Ted Kennedy for endorsing Barack Obama. The chapter has called the Senator's action, the "ultimate betrayal" since apparently, a vote for anyone but Hillary is unacceptable.
National Organization For Women, public logo
In fairness, the national organization has officially disavowed this insipid press release, but even that might not blunt the near-term reputation damage -- compliments of its rogue New York chapter.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I'm sure he gets better advice than I can give...

but I do not understand why Senator Obama highlights relatively innocuous aspects of Hillary Clinton's history like service on Wal-Mart's board (is that a crime?) when there is so much else to choose from.

Ms. Clinton burst on to the national scene in 1992 when she insulted American women who choose to stay home and raise their children (remember her "cookies" comment?).  Then she held our attention after we learned about her involvement in FileGate and TravelGate.

She never stopped annoying many of us with policy proposals like her health care plan hatched as an un-elected, un-official, or her preposterous statements to the press about a "vast right wing conspiracy" when her husband's peccadilloes were already well chronicled.  Now she criticizes Mr. Obama for the quality of clients he represented while in private practice.

I bet Ms. Clinton would much prefer to discuss her board memberships than many other issues that stained her political dossier.  So why does Sen. Obama choose Wal-Mart?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Behaving un-presidential

I'm intrigued by all the disapproval of former President Bill Clinton's recent speech-making. When Senator Ted Kennedy is unhappy with the Clintons, you know it's an unusual time. 

Some have criticized Mr. Clinton's bare-knuckled comments to promote his wife's candidacy as "un-presidential" which seems like a fair charge to me.  What happened to ex-Presidents and a long tradition of publicly-muted retirement? I've long been enamored with Mr. Clinton's intelligence, his command of complex issues and I do believe he cares about the average citizen.  He's also a magnificent speaker and a gifted politician and a Dem with some fiscal moorings.  There's much to admire in this man.

On the other hand, he used the Oval Office like a Bangkok sex parlor, deceived the American people about it, lied under oath, rented the Lincoln bedroom for campaign funds, pardoned billionaire tax cheat Mark Rich and one could go on.  The point is this -- how consistently did he behave in a "presidential" manner while in office?

I was disappointed by the aforementioned indiscretions because I had hoped Bill Clinton would be a Democrat that I could admire without reservation.  He is somewhat different from the see-no-evil tax and spend pack he runs with.  

After all, we haven't seen a surplus since Bill Clinton left the White House.  His peccadilloes aside, I'll give him some credit for those balanced budgets and we need a dose of fiscal responsibility -- now

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A toast to South Carolina

The Palmetto state makes me proud tonight.  State motto: Dum Spiro Spero (while I breathe, I hope).
South Carolina state flag
Consider the beginning to tonight's Republican debate in Myrtle Beach -- a chorus of men in suits and women in lovely white dresses all singing the Star Spangled Banner.  

My, how radical.  For me, it was a perfect start to the debate.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

State of Wisconsin flubs identity handling (redux)

Haven't we seen this movie before?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported today that a state mailing may have compromised the identities of thousands of Wisconsinites because of Social Security numbers that were inadvertently printed on mailing labels.

I published a column last year in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after approximately 171,000 taxpayer social security numbers adorned the front of tax booklets. I also mentioned in that column, another breach (not cited in today's Journal Sentinel story) by a human resources aide who mishandled social security numbers of state assembly members.

The only thing more astonishing than all of this repeated carelessness, is the blatant blame game being played. It appears that the State Department of Health and Family Services and Governor Doyle's spokesman, Matt Canter, are feigning indignation in order to place the blame squarely (and entirely) on the vendor, EDS.

I remember the Mea Culpa letter last year from the printer that accompanied a similar letter from the Department of Revenue explaining and taking responsibility for that debacle. At least, there was a semblance of accountability communicated by the Department of Revenue.

In today's JS story, the Guv's spokesman Matt Canter, suggests that there is a big difference between last year's data goof and this new one because last year, the printer had no use for the data compromised, but EDS needed the data to do it's processing this year.  So what?

How does that make State government any less responsible? In both cases state government provided the data files containing our social security numbers to a vendor. Therefore it's incumbent upon them to review and sign off before irretrievable damage goes out the door.

Here's the first step for a patient to heal thyself - admit you have a problem and stop blaming the vendor. Next, examine your processes and what went wrong- then implement new controls and test them, again and again and again - to make sure they are working.

We don't need to have someone's head - just take responsibility, analyze it and fix it.

Also announced today was Governor Doyle's commendable effort to expand tax incentives for research and development at Wisconsin companies.  If only we could persuade the Governor's administration to research and develop better state processes for handling our critical data.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Public teachers unions and selective "choice"

Public teachers unions and their supporters often exalt a right to choice including free-from-faith learning environments, politically correct history curricula, etc.  They also frequently choose to fight performance standards intended to hold public teachers accountable, and they choose to strike.  
Office.com clip art

Yesterday’s blog post from Patrick McIlheran is spot on.  Mr. McIlheran makes the point that when parents choose alternatives to public education for their children, the principle of “choice” will often vanish from teacher unions' consciousness and they'll proceed to behave as though they are victims.  

It seems to some of us, that when educational standards and competition emerge, some on the other side of this school debate throw the notion of "choice" out the classroom window. 

I'll always support a strong public education system, but not those commentators that remain antagonistic to alternative education, or enhanced performance standards.  

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Repudiation!


Hillary Clinton, official public photo
Repudiation.  It's an appropriate word to describe Hillary Clinton's third place finish in Iowa tonight. The leading spender finishes third.