from a public HS teacher (Gov't, Religion, Soc. Issues), who is eclectic (Dem-leaning) politically and Quaker (& open) on everything else. Hope you enjoy what you find here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Gay Marriage ... How Bush did the democrats a favor 

So I'm a contrarian. If The Democrats are smart they will force a vote on the current proposal in the Congress, which by al accounts would also ban any state granting protections under civil unions such as Vermont has now had for several years.

Bush having supported the proposed amendment may have driven away a fair number of Gay republicans, as well as people either sympathetic to gay rights, or who simply don't want to see this kind of messing around with the Constitution. Forcing a vote could well cost a number of Republicans their districts -- were it to happen in the Senate, I do not think Specter could survive. If he votes for the Amendment he would probably lose in a general, and if he votes against Toomey will use it to clobber him in the primary.

When one hears people like Tom Delay not excited about this proposal, the only reason is that he reads it as probably costing the Republicans house seats.

I say --- make all the House Republicans vote on it on the floor. Force them to take a position. If, as I suspect, it fails to get even a simple majority in the House it serves as a real put-down of the religious right who want to dictate public policy according to their worldview. And it will either force internecine primary battles among Republicans such as for the Senate in Penna, it will lead to abandonment by the religious right of some republicans who vote against, thus putting those seats into greater play, or for some who vote for it, it will alienate moderate Republicans and independents.

I doubt that it will get out of committee, unless Pelosi is willing to take the radical step of demanding a discharge petition to hold feet to the fire. I hope she does. Let's see where some of these people really stand.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

An offering of wisdom 

slected passages from the opinion of Justice Robert Jackson in West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette, 319 US 623 . This decision banned the requiring of student participation in Pledge of Allegiance ceremonies. It is far too often ignored by state legislatures, school boards, administrators, and teachers. Students can neither be required to recite nor even to stand. The decision was issued in 1943, in the middle of WWII, by a man who was the former Attorney General and who would become the chief prosecutor of the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal. It is considered one of the best written opinions ever issued, and the final paragraph of what I include are its most famous words. I hope that the elipses and quotations will make clear where I break.

"The freedom asserted by these appellees does not bring them into collision with rights asserted by any other individual. It is such conflicts which most frequently require intervention of the State to determine where the rights of one end and those of another begin. But the refusal of these persons to participate in the ceremony does not interfere with or deny rights of others to do so. Nor is there any question in this case that their behavior is peaceable and orderly. The sole conflict is between authority and rights of the individual. The State asserts power to condition access to public education on making a prescribed sign and profession and at the same time to coerce [319 U.S. 624, 631]   attendance by punishing both parent and child. The latter stand on a right of self-determination in matters that touch individual opinion and personal attitude."


"There is no doubt that, in connection with the pledges, the flag salute is a form of utterance. Symbolism is a primitive but effective way of communicating ideas. The use of an emblem or flag to symbolize some system, idea, institution, or personality, is a short cut from mind to mind."

"Over a decade ago Chief Justice Hughes led this Court in holding that the display of a red flag as a symbol of opposition by peaceful and legal means to organized government was protected by the free speech guaranties of the Constitution. Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359 , 51 S.Ct. 532, 73 A.L.R. 1484. Here it is the State that employs a flag as a symbol of adherence to government as presently organized. It requires the individual to communicate by word and sign his acceptance of the political ideas it thus bespeaks. Objection to this form of communication when coerced is an old one, well known to the framers of the Bill of Rights.

It is also to be noted that the compulsory flag salute and pledge requires affirmation of a belief and an attitude of mind. It is not clear whether the regulation contemplates that pupils forego any contrary convictions of their own and become unwilling converts to the prescribed ceremony or whether it will be acceptable if they simulate assent by words without belief and by a gesture barren of meaning. ...To sustain the compulsory flag salute we are required to say that a Bill of Rights which guards the individual's right to speak his own mind, left it open to public authorities to compel him to utter what is not in his mind.

Whether the First Amendment to the Constitution will permit officials to order observance of ritual of this nature does not depend upon whether as a voluntary exercise we would think it to be good, bad or merely innocuous. Any credo of nationalism is likely to include what some disapprove or to omit what others think essential, and to give off different overtones as it takes on different accents or interpretations. "

"Nor does the issue as we see it turn on one's possession of particular religious views or the sincerity with which they are held. While religion supplies appellees' motive for enduring the discomforts of making the issue in this case, many citizens who do not share these religious views [319 U.S. 624, 635]   hold such a compulsory rite to infringe constitutional liberty of the individual. 15 It is not necessary to inquire whether non-conformist beliefs will exempt from the duty to salute unless we first find power to make the salute a legal duty."


"The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."


"National unity as an end which officials may foster by persuasion and example is not in question. The problem is whether under our Constitution compulsion as here employed is a permissible means for its achievement.

Struggles to coerce uniformity of sentiment in support of some end thought essential to their time and country have been waged by many good as well as by evil men. Nationalism is a relatively recent phenomenon but at other times and places the ends have been racial or territorial security, support of a dynasty or regime, and particular plans for saving souls. As first and moderate methods to attain unity have failed, those bent on its accomplishment must resort to an ever-increasing severity. [319 U.S. 624, 641]   As governmental pressure toward unity becomes greater, so strife becomes more bitter as to whose unity it shall be. Probably no deeper division of our people could proceed from any provocation than from finding it necessary to choose what doctrine and whose program public educational officials shall compel youth to unite in embracing. Ultimate futility of such attempts to compel coherence is the lesson of every such effort from the Roman drive to stamp out Christianity as a disturber of its pagan unity, the Inquisition, as a means to religious and dynastic unity, the Siberian exiles as a means to Russian unity, down to the fast failing efforts of our present totalitarian enemies. Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.

It seems trite but necessary to say that the First Amendment to our Constitution was designed to avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings. There is no mysticism in the American concept of the State or of the nature or origin of its authority. We set up government by consent of the governed, and the Bill of Rights denies those in power any legal opportunity to coerce that consent. Authority here is to be controlled by public opinion, not public opinion by authority.

The case is made difficult not b ecause the principles of its decision are obscure but because the flag involved is our own. Nevertheless, we apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse or even contrary will disintegrate the social organization. To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. We can have intellectual individualism [319 U.S. 624, 642]   and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the State as those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us."

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Friday, February 20, 2004


All I feel like writing is about my role as an educator. This has been a difficult week at school, for many of us, as we had a spurt of fairly warm weather, which was of course accompanied by the concomitant warm-weather behavior - students off task, many kids wandering the halls, or wandering outside. Far too many were not doing their work on time, and we had many more discipline problems than normal. I found it very draining, particularly as I frequently had multiple encounters with the same students during the course of the week.

I have stayed in my classroom for several hours. I am caught up on all grading, and almost all paperwork. I have entered grades into the computer for County progress reports, even though they are not due in mid-day next Wednesday. I have erased and washed my boards, and gotten rid of some of the accumulate detritus of the school year. I will of course have planning to do over the weekend, but it is a somewhat shortened week -- my government classes have an assembly on Monday. MS Cherry is teaching my religion class on Tuesday. I will be out of the building on Friday for a trip to commemorate Brown v Board of Education (at Howard Law with the cooperation of Yale Law).

My Mock trial experience is now over. We lost the 3rd of our 4 preliminary matches, for the second time by a single point, this time the tie-breaker. We should have defeated the other team easily, but one young lady did very poorly, and we still had a problem with basic courtroom courtesy and getting the witnesses to look at the judge: no matter how many times I reminded them, they did not maintain eye contact. I have already told them -- and the department - that I will not do this again next year. It is too exhausting a responsibility to take on right after soccer season. At my age I am discovering how little reserve energy I actually have.

This weekend I will have to explore whether I want to go through the process of National Board Certification. I would probably qualify to get the County to pay the processing costs, and it could substantially increase my salary. I do not, from what I know about the process, believe that it would in any way improve me as a teacher, or bring benefit to my students. Thus I have to decide if it is a worthwhile use of my time and energy to pursue it, or whether it is just my ego drawing me towards yet another external affirmation. Similarly, there are several workshops in which I could participate, but how much of that is really ego-gratification to be selected for such things? I do not know, and I do worry about it.

So, let me check my e-correspondence yet one more time, then depart from the school until Monday forthcoming, taking what I believe is now a well-deserved rest. Of course, since I finally got my W-2, I have no choice but to begin the process of calculating our tax situation. Oh well... complete periods of rest may come eventually, but not now.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

Thursday, February 19, 2004


SO DEAN IS OUT OF THE RACE, SORT OF ... he remains on the ballot, will apparently keep raising and spending money. In one sense this is expected, because he wants to be in a position to continue to influence policy. Besides, many of us that the grasroots level were already moving in such a Direction.

BUT -- and this is VERY important -- I did not see the wink and nod that it was okay to vote for Edwrads that is absolutely necessary if there is to be any chance that Kerry is denied the nomination. I hope at a minimum he is suggesting to people like Congressional supporters that if they feel they must endorse to endorse Edwrads.

PERSONAL FRONT -- got selected again for Who's Who Among America's Teachers this time nominated by a student who graduated last year. I have been invited to bring several students to a 50th anniversary of the Brown decision cosponsored by Howard U and Yale law Schools. I received a suggestion to apply for National Board Certification, which the hint that the county and State may pay for the applications cost. For some reason some people seem to think I have some value as a teacher?

I have had little time to reflect, so that I apologize that this entry is so sparse. I will not necessarily post every day (as I did not yesterday) unless I have something specific about which to remark, OR IF I REALLY NEED TO GET MY THOUGHTS DOWN DOWN SO THAT THEY CAN BE SUBJECT TO SCRUTINY.

And now, students arrive, so I must turn to them.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

Monday, February 16, 2004


the following is the text of a post I made in response to Stirling Newberry on dailykos today. Since I do not have much time to blog or to think today, I thought I would post it here for those who might encounter my ramblings on this site, but do not regularly peruse www.dailykos.com.
This is one question we did not cover in our delightful exchange at Recessions on Firday the 13th.

While Republicans do not agree on all issues, in general if one is talking to a Republican one can expect a person who will want in general to lower taxes, thinks corporate taxes and inheritance taxes are wrong, wants to minimize the ability of the government to regulate corporations and the private uses of land, and is likely to support giving public funds for school vouchers. Beyond that there may be disagreements, such as questions of abortion, or how much authroity the government should be given to regulate private behavior, such as drugs and sex.

If I look at the Democratic party, I have a hard time phrasing something to which most Democrats could agree. Certainly most Democrats are at least somewhat pro-Choice, although we had as a ranking member in the House David Bonior who was actively pro-life. We have taken very inconsistent positions on issues like taxes and the government regulation of private behavior. Some, like John Dingell, are perfectly willing to oppose the general party consesus on things like CAFE standards for the benefit of industries in his state. others, like Baucus, have opposed sensible attempts by people such as Bruce Babbitt to get some meaningful Federal control on the misuse of public lands in the west.

One reason I absolutely refuse to identify myself with the ABB people is because I think the Democratic party has to explain FOR what it stands, not just what or whom it opposes.

it has bothered me for years that the Democrfatic party, the party of the New Deal, the party which claims it supports the little guy, was far more dependent upon the big contributors than was the Republican party. That was one thing that excited me about the Dean campaign.

And while I fully accept that in political endeavors there must be compromises, the purpose of compromising one issue is supposed to be to achieve success in another, and to me the compromises I have seen made by many in leadership positions of the Democratic party have been t best to preserve their own "electability" but to what end I am not sure.

You write about choosing to put aside life in the private sector to pursue your endeavors in the public sector. I made that choice many years ago, when I left a promising position in a consulting firm to return to work for local government. I reaffirmed that decision when I left a supervisory position with local government to go become a public school teacher. I attempt in my teaching to persuade my students that their efforts can make a difference, that they as individuals can affect who gets elected and what actions are taken in our names. So long as I can maintain an honest intensity towards this in the teaching I do, it may have a far greater effect than anything I have ever done in the political arena, which has at times been intense, even before my involvement for Dean the past 8 months.

I saw an opportunity to change how our politics were being done. That, as much as anything, is why I got involved. It is also why I cannot take the route of active involvement in local party structures because I believe that even at the local level they are a major part of the problem. I will continue to actively support candidates I believe represent on the whoel things in which i believe, and/or who can advance a more progressive and inclusive way of doing politics. it is one reason I continue to live in Arlington Virginia when I could either move the Capital Hill where my wife works and get rid of one car and cut my commute, or move to the city of Greenbelt MD (which is also somewhat progressive) where I teach. Despite our almost 200,000 people, Arlington is still a place where it is possible to affect public discourse without having to go through the normal political structures, and those political structures are themselves still somewhat amenable to change or at least to influence.

So while I welcome your very lucid exhortation to not give up the fight, I also have to say for myself that they way I will continue the fight is unlikely to be through traditional party mechanism. Perhaps if others think I have any skills of persuasion, I can use those to advance the causes and issues about which I deeply care. I can write op eds, continue to participate in blog exchanges, talk to people in both public and private settings. But I think i have far greater influence by merely living what I believe. That means I am willing to stand up and speak out when I see things wrong, regardless of personal or political consequences. That means that I remain willing to sacrifice time, treasure and even privacy on behalf of that which may not benefit me personally, but which is essential if this nation and the communities and people within are going to realize their full potential.

For me, I know that teaching is who I am, but that teaching often occurs outside the formal classroom. To me, teaching is a dialog, one which requires as much listening and observation as it does speaking and writing and correcting.

I do not have wonderful quotes from others that I can now offer to buttress the statement about how I think I should proceed. I can only suggest that we all accept that there will be different paths, that, to refer to First Corinthians as an exemplar, there are many different gifts of the spirit, but even were we to have all and have not charity {love} we would be nothing but instruments whose sounds were not music but merely noise.

Put another way -- America and Americans desperately need to learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. Rather than to confront someone on our points of conflict, we will only advance those causes we hold dear when we can find common points of interest and concern.

And I think I now being to ramble, so this becomes a good time to end this post and return to my task of helping my students express their thoughts more clearly and more persuasively. I note that I am most effective in helping them not by telling them, but by asking them, by giving them a chance to try again to say what they intend. I wonder if there is for us in that insight anything of value for the political endeavors about which we express ourselves here at dailykos?
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Sunday, February 15, 2004


Sunday of President's Day Weekend. On a personal level I have been fighting a cold, which has quite wiped me out. Still I have been able to finish the Kevin Phillips book on the Bush dynasty. And I was able to find a way to pay for unexpected repairs on my car.

POLITICS -- there is a debate for the Democrats in Wisconsin tonight. I think it is probably meaningless, although I suppose I will watch. I'm curoius to see if either "scandal" currently in the news should arise, either the tale about kerry and the young woman, or the continuing saga of Bush's apparent absence from National Gaurad service and related issues. I have written very little on the former, but have made multiple posts on dailykos about the latter.

SCHOOL - I have a large amount of project related material from mys tudent whcih I must get through by Tuesday. I presume that it will take around 6-8 hours to get through all of it, so I must make a serious effort this afternoon. With the head cold, I can probably not keep at it for more than 2 hours at a time.

LIFE - I find myself wanting to withdraw even more. One of my greatest delights n ow is to simply lie down and be cov ered with cats, 1-2-3 or all four. It requires of me something at which I am not very good - surrendering all control! To be sourrounded by purring furry masses of flesh is actually quite soothing.

THIS BLOG - seems to me to be a total waste of time. I rarely have anything of any import to share. When I am provoked or intrigued by something I read on dailykos, I immediately post my response there. I do have to be careful that my ego is getting wrapped up in that process -- I do delight in the number of '4' ratings I get.

I begin to accept that I am not so insightful that the world needs my bloviations.

For now, I will,as I am doing at the present, preiodically type a few thoughts. Occasionally there may be something of value. But I find far less worth rereading than when I worte in my various pocket notebooks over the years.

And now, because this seems so pointless, I think I'll do something constructive, like clean the catpans. With four cats, that's a lot of cleaning.

And don't worry, dear JJ - I did not make any trip to Flemington NJ. It would be too unfair to the four little creatures with whom we already share our space.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

Friday, February 13, 2004


I love Friday the 13th. I will buy a lottery ticket or three before the day ends. I have always been fond of the number 13. I note that Wilt Chamberlain wore that number in 1962 in Hershey Pennsylvania when he scored the still-record 100 points in an NBA Game (for anyone younger than about 45, the NBA at one point was not really big league, and would travel to smaller cities for some games - heck, at one point Syracuse actually had a team, as did Fort Wayne).

Lots of political weirdness in the air, between rumors about Kerry and rumors about Bush. Combine this With things like David Kay saying Bush should admit he was wrong, the Senate Intelligence Committee voting to look into more detail than the administration wants, and the Senate Judiciary Committee being willing to examine the memo problem, and it looks like a totally unpredictable situation is developing. The UN guy sent to evaluate elections in Iraq is agreeing with Ayatollah Sistani that elections should be as soon as possible, which would mean of course that the Shi'ites would probably gain control over the entire country. Meanwhile the Kurds are acting very upset, and the killing continues. All of this, and the public confidence in Bush continues to drop. Now I am not the only person speculating that Bush may not be on the ballot in the Fall.

I'm tired, plain worn out. It is hard to have the mental energy to write anything coherent, of any value, when I am this Bushed [please note the capitalization -- it was DELIBERATE]. I do have a 3-day weekend, but I have a huge amount of correcting of papers to do, as well as my normal planning. Tomorrow I will have to address a number of tasks, from bill-paying, to getting my car serviced, to cleaning up the messes around the house. I face another weekend by myself as my wife continues her trundles to NC to do research.

Perhaps I am simply getting too old for the pace at which I try to live. I do spend a lot of time attempting to absorb information, and to process it. Even when I am not posting on various blogs, I am reading: there, online editions of papers, and far too many daily emails [I have been averaging 250 getting through the spam filter on a daily basis this past week].

I really doubt I have that much to offer in a forum such as this, but I have received several emails asking me to continue. So consider this my response, at least for the short term.

And now? Having had lunch at 9:30 [yes, a crazy school schedule} I have to get some solid food [and buy my lottery tickets] before I proceed to DC for a bloggers' get-together.

health and happiness to all the world (I'd do it in French, but I've forgotten most of what little I once new).

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Oh Well, at Least I Voted For Dean 

Today is Virginia primary Day. I was 2nd in line at my precinct, which is heavily democratic. The only signs up were for Dean, and there were no campaign workers visible. All of the first 3 voters were Dean supporters, but apparently that made us unusual, as the Noon exit polls have Dean in 4th, at 8% (but at least ahead of Sharpton).

Word is that Clark is dropping out. He is running a distant 3rd, behind Kerry and Edwards, on both TN and VA. He has cancelled a major fundraiser scheduled for tomorrow in Houston.

Will the media keep this alive, with Edwards having finished 2nd in both races? Will Edwards even be able to raise money, given the fact that Kerry just beat him in 2 Southern states? Will Dean win any delegates in either state (probably not in TN, just maybe in Virginia)? Will Dean still be 2nd in delegates? And what is Kerry's money situation?

There is more and more evidence of at east an indirect connection to Kerry with the Osama ad, one big chunk of which was thru Bob Toricelli, who is also the principal fundraiser for Kerry at this point. Also, it turns out that there is major bundled giving to Kerry through executives of Media corporations - of course, they are not likely to cover that, and I'm not sure that one could frame the issue to the American people that there may be a conflict in how the media has covered Dean and the financial commitment of some executives for Kerry.

In other news, totally away from the political world, I am to be observed this week. Today's lesson would have worked wonderfully, but at the last minute the administrator could not come. It will happen tomorrow, with a lesson that will not be as interesting, but since this lady has observed me twice in the past 4 years, it should not be any kind of problem.

The real problem is that I am in great pain from my shoulder and my back. It is almost as bad as it was at the worst before I had to see the orthopedist over a year ago. I'm getting old, and my body is breaking down, slowly, but still breaking down.

And apparently no one except my wife and one or two close friends ever reads this blog. Even if they did, it is still not set up for dialog. Perhaps it is not worth maintaining. I get some positive comments and good ratings from my posts on dailykos, and perhaps I will have to be happy with that.

And now, to head home
FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

Monday, February 09, 2004


VIRGINIA VOTES - Right now the polling data says Dean will finish fourth. But there is still a real grassroots effort going on, with unofficial purchasing of radio time for ads, especially here in N VA. This is a strong Dean area to begin with, so there is a chance we can win the CD. So I suppose both my wife and I will still vote for Dean, even though we are angry that he pulled out of doing anything here, or of showing up in Richmond Saturday. I know that Gore has done some campaigning for Dean in TN, but that is even tougher, although there will also be unofficial radio ads there as well. We could pull out 3rd here in VA, since Clark does NOT seem to be doing too well, despite lots of ads.

OTHER THOUGHTS - on politics, there is a LOT of buzz about Bush and possibly being AWOL -- it is starting to get some legs, but I don't know for how long. Similarly, when Tony Blankley of Washington Times predicts indictments in the Valerie Plame outing, methinks that they are imminent, and will be of people in Cheney's office. That will scramble the election as well - it may be enough to force Cheney off the ticket. Of Course, I am still not convinced Bush will be the nominee.

I am of mixed mind how much emotional energy I want to put into any of this political stuff, although since I am trying to convince my students that it is important, I guess that I am not allowed to mentally and emotionally withdraw right now.

On the other hand, I am coming to the conclusion that I serve myself and others best when I do not assume leadership positions such as I did in Educators Fro Dean. It does neither me or the organization that much good. Far better that I serve but not in visible positions of leadership. It is not that I cannot function as a leader, but that it costs me so much to do it properly. Far better to the gray eminence as I have always said. Perhaps my insights and thoughts can be of some value, but far better that they not be associated with my sometimes abrasive personality.

And now - I have another stack of papers to correct. It will take time. There goes my evening.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam

Saturday, February 07, 2004

A sunny day in weather but not in politics 

It's not quite 11 AM here in the East. The death-knell on the Dean campaing should being tolling in several hours, if as expected he loses by a comfortable margin in WA state [he will be clobbered in MI] . My withdrawal psychologically from the campaign is now being noticed - I received an email from a woman who is a major player in our Educators for Dean group and is also active on Blog For America - she asked me point blank if I were still with the Dean effort. I was honest. Unless I see some life, probably today in Washington, i see no point in putting further effort into this campaign. I might be interested in the movement per se - that is, how we can reform the Democratic Party, and how we can use our network and our skills to help individual candidates.

Mason-Dixon has just released a new Virginia poll, which has Kerry in the lead, and Dean in a distant 4th at 8%. At that level he might pull out a few delegates in N VA and around Tidewater, but his continued presence serves only to help Kerry remain in the lead with about 1/3 of the vote as his opposition is divided 3-ways. Oh if only Edwrads had also won OK and Clark had dropped out, at least there would have been a chance that Kerry would lose a few more upcoming events.

On the other hand, if Edwards and Clark can keep going and picking up delegates, it is possible, barely, that Kerry would not win the majority going into the convention, although at that point were he close my bet is the superdelegates (who would have the balance of power) would all jump on board -- no one wants an uncontrolled convention.

And even if this thing keeps going to March 2nd SuperTuesday, I expect that Hillary will make an endorsement designed to put someone over the top and bring the competition to an end.

IT IS A BRIGHT, SUNSHINEY DAY. Gee, that sound's something like an old song lyric. I have two more sets of papers to correct, a ittle pallning to do for the upcoming week, and lot of work to do around the house. I have made what efforts I can to call to the attention of the press the problems with the Bush commission, writing in detail to two major newpspaper reporters with whom I have at least electronic relationships. And now? I will get on with the normal minutiae of day to day existence, as my clock strikes a belated 11 chimes.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

Friday, February 06, 2004


I was called by the Falls Church office of the Dean campaign and asked to come in and help, and I declined. If he does not feel it is important enough for him to appear at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner for which he was going to be principal speaker, then I do not even see him getting 15% state wide, and I have better things to do with my time. Yes, the lawn sign is still up, and will remain up until he officially withdraws, but I am no longer willing to put my time and energy into the campaign. He will get clobbered in the caucuses this weekend -- including in Washington State. And while it is nice that he is still able to raise money, I am not sure what purpose is being served as the campaign becomes even more shrill.

There is no doubt that bad things were done to undermine Dean's candidacy. But he -- and the campaign -- needed to be prepared for it. Similarly, the press is beast that needs to be fed, and he gave it insufficient nourishment that he controlled, so they foraged for their own fodder, which was sometimes happily (and with negative consequences for Dean) given them by opposing campaigns.

I'm frustrated because the campaign had the potential to turn into something very important. Now whatever good comes out of it will be almost incidental to the official campaign, as people at the grassroots level attempt to find a way to keep their organziation going, perhaps by focusing on Congressional races. We have a lot of skill {actually, given how little I have done, I fairly should say "they"] of which the official campaign made little constructive use. That skill is now available for other purposes, and still has the potential to make major changes in the political structure of this nation, only it will not happen as quickly without the focus of a presidential campaign.

The charge to the commission Bush has established to investigate the intelligence failures is clearly a sham - as I read it, the definition it uses of the intelligence community would not include the parallel shop set up by Wolfowitz over at Defense. That is where the real "cooking" took place, and that is apparently off limits. It also seems set up in such a way that there can be no oversight by Congress or by the Courts. The members appointed provide a veneer of independence, but one does wonder. Chuck Robb is not one inclined to rock the boat. McCain has already said that he doesn't think the president is to blame. The most noatble liberal, Patrica Wald, is a retired chief judge of the DC Circuit Court, and has little prior expertise or experience in intelligence matters. She is a very sharp lady, but probably will not be able to know how to dig for what is really needed.

Of course, David Kay has had a very itnersting reaction to the Tenet speech, one that seems to undermine the wall around the White House. And now there are some senators saying that the evidence they were presented in the closed session in the Senate was not sufficient to justify going to war - why the hell didn't they say that during the debate and oppose the damn thing in October of 2002 and subsequently?

About the only thing I see positive is that it would be very hard right now for this administration to do another preemptive war - their credibility on matters of intelligence and national security are very much in question.

The only other issue is the repeated stories that Osama is already in custody to be produced whenever it is most politically advantageous. This gets fed by statements of people like generals and Sen. Grassley who say that they exepct both bin Laden and Mullah Omar to be captured fairly soon. First, I do not think the capture could be kept a secret, either from Americans, or from Al Qaeda, who would use it as an excuse to increase their attacks against the U.S. Second, if he were captured alive for the purposes of producing him, there would be insistence on presenting him in a public arena, and I very much doubt that he would be cooperative with the fiction that he had just been captured. Finally, were they to produce him at a propitious political moment, after what has been learned recently, there would be the real possibility of the press and the Congress {and the certainty of people voersease} raising questions about the timing and questioning how much of a political manipulation this was. Since I'm reading about Rove, I would not put it beyond him to WANT to do something like this. I do not, however, think that he could arrange sufficient compliance of things like Special Forces and Intelligence professional, particuarly when the latter can now see that they may be being set up as the fall guys for this administration's manipulations and failures. Thus nit would be very ironic if the U.S. did capture either or both of the two at a moment that was plitcally propitious and the end results was that it backfired because everyone would believe that it was a staged manipulation.

Enough for this evening. I have done far less than I had hoped, and I will need to be fully focused for the morrow, both with respect to my teaching duties and to my responsibilities around the house. The rest of this evening is for baths, books, bed and cats.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

and the beat goes on... 

I have spent a little more time exploring the features of this blog. I believe it is possible for me to set it up so that others can post here... these would be individual posts, and would not be comments on specific posts. I may set up a separate blog and play with it a bit. For those few of you are reading this on a regular basis, it would then, if I enabled all of you, become an informal non-real-time chat room. That has some appeal.

But then, I don't know how much time i really want to put into blogging or into being a blog manager. I barely have enough time to be a cat lover, a teacher, and a sometimes husband. I fail miserably as an uncle and a nephew and a brother.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

And yet again bad weather cancels the school day 

We had freezing rain and sleet beginning around 7 last evening. Originally PG had hoped to open only 2 hours late, but at the last possible moment decided not to open at all. That was a wise decision, given the number of serious accidents, and the csonsequences thereof : major intersections and roads are closed while police worked those accidents.

As a result I have the time to thoroughly go over the work my students handed in yesterday. I am realizing that I have not done as good a job as I normally do in helping them develop their writing skills. When I take on all the outside activities I have, such as the Dean campaign and Mock Trial, I do not have the time to do as thorough a job of correcting individual papers. And then I am not as effective a teacher. It is a choice I have to make -- I have only so much time and energy in which to do things, and each thing I take on usually means a withdrawal from that available for my teaching-related tasks.

It is quite tiring to go through and correct all the grammatical problems (such as using "they" to refer to a singular noun). It is even more tiring to have to write out individual explanations of how the reasoning processes students use does not work. I supposed I could take one or two papers, turn them into overheads, and then use that to illustrate. But not every student errs in the same way, and I have found that even when I take the name off a paper, students get embarassed when they see their words up on a screen: at that moment they shut down and don't hear what I am trying to teach them. Ah, if I had smaller classes and fewer students I could have writing conferences.

And so - officially we have no school, and the day will have to made up - this day will extend the school year to June 19. But I do not have a day off: the five sets of papers will take around 6.5 hours to go through completely. The only real luxury is that I can periodically step away from that task and do something else, such as making an entry like this into a blog almost no one every reads.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Actually, I'm Quite Fortunate! 

I was thinking about how lucky I am on my way home today. I arrived at this conclusion via a circuitous path. I remembered that when I returned to working for Arlington County Government after working for a "Beltway Bandit" for six months, I was at a professional organization meeting where I was offered a job basically on the spot by Apple Computer's new Washington DC office manager. I had accepted the return to Arlington, but had not yet actually started. Legally I was not bound, the Apple job would have paid one heck of a lot more, I was actually interested. But I felt that morally I could not take that job. In retrospect, it would have been a false path for me.

Likewise, while back at Arlington I interviewed for a job with Albemarle County. They had posted the job because they were legally required to do so, but it was intended to be an internal promotion. That was clear when I interviewed, because they were trying like hell to find a reason they didn't have to offer me the job - I was far more qualified for it than their internal candidate. I sensed it when one of the questions I was asked was clearly outside the bounds of what could be asked, because it was not part of the posted qualifications for the job. I had a moment where I thought I could justifiably raise that point - had I done so, they would have had to give me the job. But all things considered, it would also have been a false path for me.

In fact, as I look back at many of the "what ifs" in my life, while the course of my life might have led to far more fame, or power, and definitely been far more remunerative, I have been fortunate in that I have found my true calling, the teaching of adolescents.

As I now begin to feel what it means to be in my late 50's, I realize that I also cannot complain. I remember reading in Chesteron's book on Francis of Assisi how the saint had been less than generous towards his body, calling it "Brother Ass" and not taking care of it, and as he aged he realized how dependent he was on that good "ass." Likewise I was blessed with both energy and stamina for much of my life. As I age I have far less of both, and I am finding the necessity of adjusting how I live. And yet, the blessings I have already enjoyed have enabled me to experience far more in life than I had any right to expect.

Iam certainly not satisfied with all I have done in my life. There are many missteps, and there are still current slips and falls. And yet... dspite what I might regret, each day presents me with new opportunities to feel as if my existence makes a difference. Perhaps that is what is so satisfying about being a teacher, even with the frustrations concomitant with that profession. I have so many opportunities to help an adolescent believe in herself. I may see a student suddenly understand that he CAN grasp the concept behind that Supreme Court decision, and likewise know that he can point out the weakness of the argument made to reach the decision,even though he is an ordinary 9th grader. That moment is empowering, and can last a lifetime. And by being his teacher I have in some small way participated in his self-discovery, which therefore gives my life meaning and purpose.

I'm tired. It is a very icy night, and my wife, who is not used to driving under such conditions, is desperately trying to drive herself home right now. I pray that she stays calm, and gets home safely. My mock trial team lost its first match by one point (although the judge was unnecessarily generous to us - it really should not have been that close). I have a stack of papers to correct that I know I will not get to tonight - I cannot think clearly enough to do them justice. That makes part of me want a 2 hours delay in the morning to give me time to go through them, while on the other hand I really don't like having my instructional time cut down by 1/3.

This blog does not provide appropriate tools for those of us on MACs. The spell check, the easy formatting - this is only available in an Wintel environment. Boo!! Maybe that will encourage me to look for a different host for these poor literary efforts on my part.

And so ends another day.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.


To start with, even though I did not attend a MEETUP for Dean last night, my inbox is full of frustration and anger from active Dean supporters. These were the most active, and often most professional, supporters, many of whom are professionals. Some feel their advice is still being ignored by Burlington. Other express frustration over the waste they still see in the campaign. And more and more I am seeing anger towards traditional "pillars" of the Democratic party, including the main party leadership, especially the DLC, and now openly towards the Clintons. Here in Virginia, with just a little support from Burlington a lot of voters could have been locked in for Dean. Instead only Clark has been running ads, and now both Clark and Edwards are making major pushes. I will be surprised, perhaps shocked, if Dean finishes better than 4th here next Tuesday, especially after he gets blown out in Michigan.

On a slightly different topic: tonight is our first Mock Trail competition. My students are still not ready. Let's see how they handle what is likely to happen to them. Of course, our opponent may be no better preapred than are we, so we may survive.

And now, I have to refocus on my primary goal: teaching [mainly 9th graders]. Each year I am again surprised at how little of what I consider basics about academics they have learned. Each year I must again walk them through how to do a bilbiography, something those in PG schools were supposed to learn in 8th grade. And some of the brightest kids still do not seem to grasp that you cannot simply print something down from the internet and claim it as your own work. Still, when we see successful presidential campaigns of people who claim as their own campaign slogans and phrases from stump speeches material that was originally offered by one of their opponents, how can I blame my students? All I can do is call them to a higher standard. That may frustrate them, because they will not fully understand why, but I can not in good conscience demand any less of them.

And now to school.
FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

A long school day, coming to an end 

I am sitting in my temporary classroom, as my Mock trial team goes through their preparations for their first match tomorrow. More than half are new to Mock Trial, and they are not very well organized, but I admire their enthusiasm. I am serving as their "coach" because the long-time faculty sponsor withdrew at the last minute, and if I didn't agree they were not going to be able to compete. I actually wish I were not doing this, because I have had no break all year, beginning as I do with soccer in August.

POLITICS I think that there is really not much point in continuing to support Dean. I feel very frustrated at the campaign's unwillingness to spend any money on advertising in NM, because with just a bit they might have pulled it out. Further, the quality of the public presentations he has made are now beginning to turn me off - he is still far too reliant on stump speech - perhaps it is just that I would like to hear something with a little more life in it.

I am intrigued by the analysis I saw about the difference in results in NH between those jurisdictions with paper ballots versus those with electronic machine, and even the difference depending upon the type of machine. One cannot help but wonder, given how easy it is manipulate such machines, if there was anything like that occurring. If the figures presented were accurate, it should scare the hell out of democrats for the possibility of manipulation of results in the Fall. We have already seen more than a few cases (Senate election of Hagel, results in Georgia in 2002, some strange results in other places including Florida) that could lead one to be more than mildly suspicious that some kind of manipulation was occurring.

I still remember a piece in Washington Monthly perhaps ten years ago in which a caution was raised about the ability to manipulate the results of elections held on computers. I also remember the responses I got at a conference of ACM perhaps 20 years ago (it was 1984): the respondees were Carl Hammer, former chief computer scientist for Univac, and Dr. Ruth Davis, who had been Asst SecDef for technology under Carter. I asked if outside access were allowed to a computer if either one could posit a guarantee that people could be assured the computer was safe from outside manipulation. They looked at one another, both shook their heads, and both responded that if there is an outside line to a computer, by definition that computer is not secure, that it could only be made somewhat less insecure.

All voting methods are subject to some degree of manipulation. But a computer with no paper trail has no possibility of further audit. If the only recordation is within the computer itself, there is no backup, and basic computer practices would say that such is not acceptable even in a basic accounting system. And yet we are moving pell-mell to replace other methods with such unaudited and uncontrolled electronic devices.

Ah, it may be too late to save the Republic. Still, when I come to that conclusion, then I will have to stop teaching Government.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.


From now on there will be a title line for each post, and I have arranged for a regular and standard contact message, which I will leave at the end. I am still working on how I want this to look, and considering how I will enable comments. I have also changed the date option to Eastern Time Zone.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

First thing in the morning 

It is a cold morning. We are the only big local school district that is opening on time. So at least I will be able to proceed without having to modify my lessons once again.

From my perspective, it is now over for Dean. And in the worst of all worlds, both Clark and Edwards won a state, which will still further divide opposition to Kerry. I expect Dean to lose all 3 copntexts (caucuses in ME, MI and WA) this weekend, and to be fatally weakened coming in to VA and TN next week. I am not sure it is even worth making further phone calls. I cannot believe that they did not even advertise in NM, which they had a shot to pull out.

Further evidence yesterday that the Kerry camp has obtained (illegally) the list of identified Dean voters - robocalls being made in Washington including to a cell phone not publicly listed and only on the list of Dean supporters: as it happenes, call came while owner was at Dean's Seattle hdqtrs.
Still wondering when or if list of sponsors/backers of 527 that ran the Osama ad will ever be released. If they dissolved themslves to try to avoid making this release, then I'm sure it was Kerry, and not as expected Gephardt, that was behind it.

I am worn out, frustrated, somewhat angry, and hurting. Only the last is not political: I banged up a foot and I have a nail that may be falling off, and boy does that toe sting. An appropriate symbol - a stubbed toe that brings down many plans and dreams.

And now, with no particular insight about anything this morning, I head off to scool.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

8:45 PM EST - election results coming in. Edwards won big in SC, and Dean barely showed. The best hope seems to be the Edwards also win OK,and possibly Dean win or come close in NM - that would stop the sense that the race is over and perhaps we could rethink the idiocy of John Kerry as the nominee of the Democratic party.

There - I've said it -- the idiocy. After having been attacked multiple times on dailykos for saying why I would not vote for Kerry -- oh well -- as I keep pointing out to people, I live in Virginia. Even if my one vote cost Kerry Virginia, a Democrat who needs Virginia to be elected president is not going to be elected president. Heck, the Old Dominion even refused to cast its electoral votes for the first JFK in 1960, casting them instead for Sen Harry Byrd.

I have not gotten as much silence and stillness as I would have wanted. The outside world intruded several times. I'm even getting called by other campaigns [yes, an annoying call from Kerry people]. Methinks to my great regret that my reason for involvement in this political cycle is rapidly drawing to a close. I would be delighted to see Dean resurrect his campaign, but methinks the story tomorrow will not include him [unless by a miracle he pulls out NM, and I do not expect that]. 5% in SC is kind of the kiss of death. I am probably too old for this. I will still probably make calls here in Virginia on Saturday, but that is likely to end my work on his behalf.

I still wish we could see our politics reshaped, where issues really mattered, where politicians would be held to account for their actions, and be required to to address the real needs of the people. it would help if our system were not so juryrigged that for most of us most of our vote don't count. Mine makes no difference in a presidential election because this state has little chance of going Democratic. It makes little difference locally because Arlington is so Democratic. Voting for Governor and LT. Governor is one of the few times I can believe that my vote might make a difference.

And I think this is as responsible for the loss of interest in elections as anything. Many people feel that their vote is not important in legislative districts that are gerrymandered for one or the other party - it doesn't matter if you are in majority or minority, your individual vote matters little in such situations. And since except for NE and ME, all states award their electoral votes on a winner take all basis, in many states there is not a strong reason to vote. We had 60% turnout in 1960, and we have not come close since. Perhaps campaign finance laws are the least of our problems. Perhaps we need to go to a different voting system, or to allow Instant Runoff Voting in primaries, or even in general elections to allow new and more vibrant political parties to have a chance to appeal to voters. I hear the plaintive response of Dennis Kucinich that "I'm electable if you'll vote for me."

And now I will sign off from politics for the night, not immediately, but after I do one or two more things.

As usual, if you have encountered this blog, feel free to contact me directly at kber@earthlink.net please put teacherken in the message line so I will know it is not spam. And as Howard Dean often says, comments, questions and rude remarks are welcome.
ANOTHER WEATHER DAY OFF FROM SCHOOL -- that is 4 in the past 9 days, and one of those was already a makeup day, so the school year will be extended.

We have a storm of freezing rain. When I went to take the recycling out to the curb, my brick patio was smooth, the cracks filled in with the frozen precipitation. It would not have dulled the blades of a pair of ice skates. It is supposed to warm up this afternoon, but until it does, methinks I will remain indoors, reading, allowing our four cats to crawl over me, and perhaps just sitting in silence [I am, after all, a Quaker].

This post is not about politics, at least, not directly. It is about silence. First, silence is not stillness - one can refrain from talking and yet be physically fidgety, or internally in turmoil. Scholars and sages from various religious traditions point this out. I also note that the appropriate Biblical passage is "Be still, and know that I am God." As afraid as we are of silence, we are even more afraid of stillness - we have our American compulsion to always be "doing" something, often multitasking. Here I think of my former roommate from Haverford sophomore year. As a freshman, Dan Maas was often seen playing chess on his left, being part of a bridge hand on his right, doing his math homework on his lap, while watching Outer Limits on the TV. It was amazing his ability to do all four with some modicum of skill! But I digress.

Another Biblical passage that is relevant is that what spoke to Elijah was the "still, small voice" and he immediately knew it as the voice of God.

People are often surprised how much I value silence [and stillness]. I am, after all, more than bit talkative, and my expressions are often far too verbose [and I am rarely seen except in motion]. But it is because my background is in music that I most value silence. I still remember William Hartt Reese, in a course on the symphony, telling four Haverford Music majors that the famous motto of Beethoven's Fifith symphony was NOT as commonly thought dit-dit-dit-DAH, but rather, REST-dit-dit-dit-DAH. The three notes at the beginning were not triplets dividing the time into 3, but three fourths of a time interval that began with silence.

Let me offer one more thought from my reading. I regret that mine is not the kind of mind that can immediately offer the exact reference (you will note the absence of Chapter and Verse citations on the aforementioned biblical references) and often cannot quote word for word. For my purposes, I should be able to express accurately enough to communicate the essence of the story. It comes from the tlaes of the Desert Fathers, the early generations of Christian monastics who live in the deserts of Egypt and Nitria. This is one of my favorites.

An important man, perhaps a bishop, had heard of the holiness and wisdom of one of the Desert fathers. He came a long distance, from Alexandria to the desert monastery, sat at the foot of the holy monk, and as was the custom, asked "Abba, a word" seeking to be enlightened. But the monk said nothing, and after an extended period the visitor went away, apparently saddened by his failure to hear from the monk.

One of the disciples of the Monk asked him why he had not spoken to the visitor, who after all was both distinguished and had travelled a long way. It is the response to that question that matters: "If he will not learn from my silence, than he cannot learn from any words I might offer."

As a teacher, I am heavily reliant upon words to instruct and to provoke and encourage learning. But I have found I am at my most effective when I operate not from the superfluity of my easily formed words, but from the depths of silence. It is from silence that I am able to perceive what my students really mean when they ask questions. It is from my silence that they discover the time and space to find answers for themselves rather then depend upon me to provide it [this is a real problem with most of my students, including some of the very brightest].

And since these words represent the opposite of silence, and my act of entering them into this blog is clearly not an example of stillness, you will forgive me dear reader if I now cease from this task, and honor my own advice to seek both stillness and silence on this cold and wet Winter's day.

[comments may be sent to kber@earthlink.net please preface any such remarks with "teacherken" in the subject line]

Monday, February 02, 2004

A FURTHER POLITICAL THOUGHT: WSJ Journal today opines that former AL Chief Justice Roy Moore of 10 Commandments monument fame may run on a 3rd party ticket.

This would present Bush with a problem. Were Moore to draw 1-3% in some states, it might be enough to flip them from Red to Blue. To prevent that, Bush might run to his right, giving in to social and religious conservatives on a number of their pet issues --- but that might cause him real problems with suburban Republicans, particularly women. Interesting problem, worth watching.

Also, I want to see if this time Bush gets away with naming Henry Kissinger to run an "independent" investigation --- methinks the press and the Democrats ought to be screaming bloody murder, given (a) Kissinger's past dissembling (b) his business associations - is he willing to give them up?

Anyone who thinks that Kissinger will run a honest investigation needs to remember that in certain parts of the world he is already considered a War Criminal.

And as a partisan Republican from back when he was on the payroll of Nelson Rockefellar, it is hard to believe that a conclusion on his part that absolved the current Republican administration would have any credibility.

Kissinger was blocked from 9-11 by the families of tose who had died there. Probably the only way to block him now would be an uproar by the families of military personnel who died or were maimed in Iraq.

A few brief thoughts to start off this school week.

In politics - Kerry is not "getting the treatment" - starting with the Isikoff piece in Newsweek about things like Johnny Chung and some of the Senator's less than savory dealings. This has the feel of something being fed by someone else. I wonder if the source may have been Chris Lehane, the super oppo-researcher: if Kerry had useed him to do self -oppo, then when Lehane left he might have taken his dirt with him. Only a guess.

I have now seen in print something I suggested a while ago - that Bush actually might decide not to run. His ego is so great that if he thinks he really might lose like his father, i would expect him to pull out. David Kay's testimony forces him to appoint an independent commission to examine the Iraq war intelligence. That means he now has 2 independent commissions rooting through his administration [and remember, he has chosen to keep on George Tenet]. And given questions about that intelligence, it may be harder for him to shut down the Kean commission on 9-11 intelligence etc. Add to that that his credibility is now seriously being questions because of not being forthright about the costs of his medicare prescription drug coverage, and he is starting to bleed, as shown by the reaction to his SOTU. And his new budget, with over half a trillion in deficit and which does not yet include ANY funding for Iraq is simply neither believable or acceptable.

Who wold replace him if he didn't run? And what would happen to his campaign war chest? I think in the latter case he could turn it over to the party or to a charity, but not to an individual candidate. As to a possible replacement? How can anyone who is part of this administration have the credibility to move in? The most acceptable to the general public would probably be Powell, but I do not know if the conservatives who control the party mechanism would agree. I would think that it would be someone who holds current high office but is not directly associated with Bush. I do not think McCain - despite his campaigning for the Republicans, Bush loylaists would fight and there is the issue of his health. I think it could be a real surprise - someone like Chuck hagel, Sen from NE, for example.

Of course,, this is way too premature... except remember that Lyndon Johnson pulled out in April after winning (as a write-in) the NH primary over McCarthy [gee, that primary was in March!!!!).

Superbowl - I watched NONE of it. Thus I was spared the inanity of the halftime show. Further, I didn't have to fulminate over what CBS considered acceptable advertising when they refused to show the MoveON.org ad. Sometimes we are blessed in strange ways.

Now time to go to school.

Sunday, February 01, 2004


Trippi kept Judy W from making all her usual snide remakrs by keeping talking, and thus he got his points out. On MTP Dean gave a smashmouth performance. Now if he had done this the Sunday before IA or even better last Sunday, he might have been able to change the meme about electability at least a bit. In fairness, he did not have all the news atoreis about Kerry and special interest money before the end of this past week. I do not think it will make any difference in Monday's results: not that many voters watch the show. if he pulls out NM it will be because of ground game in the Hispanic community, and because he built up a margin with the early voting ... it remains unlikely.

I think Dean is being honest when he says he thinks any of the Dems could beat Bush, because despite the numbers the measure of economic recovery is the preception among voters about jobs, and so far there is no job recovery. If the jobless recovery merely costs OH, no Republican has ever been elected without OH. And if Bush is only 2 points ahead against a Dem in SC, he has deep trouble.

One corner of my house gets very little sun - it is due North. Thus I have had a horendous ice dam on the roof, because the gutter drain was a solid tube of ice. Between chipping and pouring hot water while up on a ladder, it took about an hour, and it is now somewhat free. Just in time, with another storm on the way. I don't know about Feng Shui, but I do know that come the summer I'm going to move that drain spout around the corner so it gets some sun!

And now on to the rest of my life -- my service on the Library committee for my Friends (Quaker) Meeting, and then trying to plan two sets of lesson plans - we may have a delay or be closed due to weather on Tuesday. Further blogging will have to wait.
It is Sunday morning, 8:26 EST as I begin this. I have not yet read the AM paper (WashPost), although I have scanned its (and those of several other papers of note) headlines online. I have just a few thoughts to offer, and this before we see whether Dean (and Trippi, with his appearance on CNN) can do any resurrection of Dean's campaign. My guess is that the press has decided to act as if Dean is dead meat, unless he were to surprise and win something on Tuesday - he has at best a 1 in 4 chance of pulling a surprise in NM, because of a decent number of early votes cast before IA (actually more than in MI, and hence proportionally much more) and if he can get his Hispanic supporters out to communicate with Hispanic and native American voters. Kennedy's appearance for Kerry undercuts that, as the Kennedy name is still magic in most older Hispanic households (anyone remember Alliance for Progress? Or Bobby Kennedy's outreach beginning when he was a Senator?).

I am considering moving my blog to another location, which makes it far easier to offering commenting. I will probably not do that for a week or so. In the meantime people are encouraged, if they wish, to email me directly at kber@earthlink.net please preface your subject line with teacherken so that I know you are not spam or a virus

Final thoughts on this post --- I think the subject about which I would most like to reflect is why so many people get so turned off to the political process. I think most people feel shut out of meaningful participation, and are turned of by much of the way our campaigns are run and covered. Part of what drew me to the Dean campaign was the belief that this could be something very different. One failing is that the center of the campaign was not truly prepared for scale-up, and got caught between running a totally bottoms up campaign and trying to run a top-down campaign, and the two parts never met. The sad part is that in many ways the bottoms up campaign was far more effective, at least what I have seen from my own participation, esepcially in NH and VA.

I worry that if Dean does get knocked out, what life there has been in the Democratic party will fade -- as the insiders and the pundits congratulate themselves on their own perspecuity and remind themselves how right they were about Dean (not really). Far too many think that Dean can deliver his supporters - perhaps 1/3 of his supporters are likely NOT to vote for Kerry , should the junior Senator from MA be the nominee [with the sole possibility of making Dean the VP nominee, which I don't see being either offered or accepted, not just because of the hostility between them, but because they are from bordering states - that worked for Clinton-Gore, but that was a way of drawing Southern states - besides, AR and TN are two of the 3 (MO is the other) states that border the greatest number of other states.

The numbers that would sit out may not be huge - assume that Dean's base nationwide is about 15-21% of the possible Democratic voter pool. Even at the lower number, that is 5% staying home. In a close election that could be very expensive, especially if, as expected, Nader gets in the race against Kerry.

Our politics do need a major change. Dean was a flawed exemplar of what we need. In my daydreams I imagine some one who can engender the passion without having to constantly raise his voice or pump his fist ... I have seen that in Dean when he dialogues with people, in Town Meetings and in individual conversations. And btw -- I don't like stump speeches, even when the lines are very good. I know why politicians do them - they offer a condensed way to deliver a lot of key points. But what if the candidate were not so predictable as to what s/he would say: might that require the press to actually right about content and issues, rather than horserace and atmospherics [including who attacked whom, and how, and what the back at you was]?

Enough for now - I will scan the morning paper. I actually think I missed Trippi, and Dean is not on in DC area until 10:30, so I can't watch him, although I'm sure I can catch some reflections on either dailykos [nice to see it back up] or BFA from people where it broadcasts earlier in the day.

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