Coach John Wooden: R.I.P.

LOS ANGELES -- John Wooden, college basketball's gentlemanly Wizard of Westwood who built one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports at UCLA and became one of the most revered coaches ever, has died. He was 99.
From Tim Dahlberg:
One day, during a break in the season, [Bill Walton] showed up at practice with a wild, red beard, ready to play for a coach who didn't allow facial hair.

"It's my right," he told Wooden.

"That's good, Bill," Wooden replied. "I admire people who have strong beliefs and stick by them. We're going to miss you."


Robert Reich Responds To Charges Of Political Lunacy With Sanity

Reich got some crap for saying Obama should put BP into receivership. The complaints were political. Bob's idea isn't political lunacy unless you believe politicians exist to run for office and nothing else; Bob's idea is how one who claims to take responsibility for the horror would take responsibility, even if one doesn't get re-elected because of it.

Imagine politicians fixing things.  Imagine.
Is It Political Lunacy for the President to Take Charge in the Gulf Or Political Lunacy for Him Not To? A Colloquy

FRIDAY, JUNE 4, 2010

I just came across this post from Theda Skocpol, a professor of government and sociology at Harvard whom I’ve never known to mince words.

I like Bob Reich and consider him a friend, but he is nuts. [She’s referring to my suggestion that the President put BP into temporary receivership.] There is a reason why the right, including Sarah Palin, is calling for Obama to “take charge” of the BP disaster, including fixing the leaking pipe. This is a problem that cannot be solved, and probably will not be for many months.

They want Obama to directly own it so they can reinforce their message that government does not work. Why should liberals, stupidly, be pushing for this? I cannot figure out what the left and many liberal pundits think they are doing in all this.

When a huge private corporation makes a mess and cannot fix it, it is sheer lunacy to take direct charge of that mess unless you can fix it right away.

Obama and the government can (a) hold BP accountable in criminal and financial terms; and (b) orchestrate the mitigation, restitution, and financial help for the regions affected. They are doing this and should be as visible as possible about steps in both areas. The last thing they should do is take charge of fixing the leak itself when they cannot.
My response:

I like Theda Skocpol and consider her a friend, but she’s got this one backwards. It’s not “political lunacy” for the president to take charge of this mess. It’s political lunacy for him not to.

Would Theda propose that if a military contractor accidentally fired off a missile, or the owner of a nuclear reactor accidentally allowed it to melt down, or a food processor accidentally sent off deadly bacteria into America’s food chain, that the President should not take control because he couldn’t “fix” these disasters right away? Or that he shouldn’t get involved because the political right might subsequently use his efforts to reinforce its message that the government doesn’t work?

What’s happening in the Gulf is the worst environmental disaster in American history. It defies common sense for the President to delegate most of its solution to the same corporation whose negligence in all likelihood created it.

The public deeply distrusts BP, with good reason. Its record to date has been cutting corners to make profits. Yes, BP’s expertise may be necessary now. But how can we believe BP is using all the resources at its disposal to stop the leak? (A petroleum engineer told me earlier this week that BP has some two dozen tankers in the Gulf that could be siphoning off the oil, and has shut down work on the second relief well in order to cannibalize parts from it for the primary kill effort.)

How can we trust that decisions BP continues to make – such as the use of toxic dispersants – properly weigh risks to the safety and health of Americans?

And as BP continues to pay out dividends to its shareholders, how can we trust it will have enough capital to pay all the costs of cleanup, not to mention the costs to businesses and individauls of the devastation it’s wrought?

For the President to stand apart from all this – to set up a commission to study how it happened and instruct the Justice Department to inquire into the possibility that civil and criminal fines may be appropriate – is both poliltically unwise and against the public’s interest. I fear Americans will come to see it as a dereliction of duty.


Visit My BP Live Feeds Page

Up there, under the title of this blog where you can select pages, or here. (From BP's live feeds page, but all in one place.)

Thursday Cartoon Fun: Cheer Up Edition


"Portfolio Districts" Research: Data Unavailable

Current Trends

In the latter half of the past decade, school districts in several large cities, including New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and post-Katrina New Orleans, have implemented a new model of urban school decentralization often called “portfolio districts.” Others, including those in Denver and Cleveland, are following suit in what appears to be a growing trend. The portfolio strategy has become increasingly prominent in educational policy circles, think tank and philanthropy literature, and education news reporting. The appointment of Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan as U. S. Secretary of Education suggests administration support for the concept. Duncan embraced such decentralization in Chicago in the form of Renaissance 2010 and continues promoting its elements in such national policy as Race to the Top and in proposed revisions to the No Child Left Behind legislation. The premise supporting portfolio districts is that if education vendors compete on the basis of proposed innovations, with a school superintendent monitoring activities, children will receive greater opportunity for academic success. This brief examines the available evidence for the viability of this premise and the proposals (for example, making all schools in a district charter schools) that flow from it.

A number of urban districts have embraced or are considering adopting the portfolio model. National policy also favors the idea. However, there have been no substantive studies of the portfolio district approach. The only relevant research to date has been on its constituent elements, which include 1) decentralization; 2) charter school expansion; 3) reconstituting/closing “failing” schools; and 4) test-based accountability. As detailed below, the available scholarly peer-reviewed evidence on these various constituent elements shows no effect or negative effects on student achievement and on educational costs.

The published policy literature advocating implementation of the portfolio model and its elements most often makes assertions without providing credible evidence for its claims. For example, all of the relevant six articles available from the scholarly database Academic Search Premiere write favorably of the portfolio model, but none of them either constitute or reference careful empirical study reviewed by a community of policy scholars. Much of such advocacy writing published about the portfolio model and its constituent elements is generated by authors housed in or connected to policy think tanks that tend to have political and policy agendas.

h/t Schools Matter


Pronoun Confusion: Who's In Charge Of Gulf Response?

Why Obama Should Put BP Under Temporary Receivership

...5. The President is not legally in charge. As long as BP is not under the direct control of the government he has no direct line of authority, and responsibility is totally confused. For example, listen for the “we” and “they” pronouns that were used by Carol Browner in response to a question on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday (emphasis added): “We’re now going to move into a situation where they’re going to attempt to control the oil that’s coming out, move it to a vessel, take it onshore ….We always knew that the relief well was the permanent way to close this .… Now we move to the third option, which is to contain it. If [the new cap on the relief well is] a snug fit, then there could be very, very little oil. If they’re not able to get as snug a fit, then there could be more. We’re going to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” When you get pronoun confusion like this, you can bet on confusion — both inside the Administration and among the public. There is no good reason why “they” are in charge of an operation of which “we” are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst...

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