Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Terrorism of a Different Kind

America won a battle in the war on terrorism last week, but not in the "traditional" Islamists vs. the world struggle. This particular form of terrorism afflicts all of us, yet we've hardly been able to do anything about it. Until last week, in Texas.

What am I talking about? Judicial terrorism. The kind imposed on us by liberal courts over the years. The kind that usurps the power of the state legislatures, local school boards, and the people to decide how best to educate our children.

Today's editorial from the Wall Street Journal sums up the Texas victory:

The Texas Supreme Court did the expected last week and struck down the statewide property tax for funding public schools. But what was surprising and welcome was the Court's unanimous ruling that the Texas school system, which spends nearly $10,000 per student, satisfies the funding "adequacy" requirements of the state constitution. Most remarkable of all was the court's declaration that "more money does not guarantee better schools or more educated students."
The Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) also comments on the decision, with predictable spin (emphasis mine):
The Texas Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated ruling on Nov. 22, 2005, in the latest, and, for now, definitive, round of school finance litigation. The litigation involved the state of Texas defending itself against a challenge by two groups of school districts asserting that the current system of school finance was unconstitutional because it was inadequate, inefficient and effectively constituted a statewide property tax which violates the Texas Constitution. The trial court agreed with the school districts on all major counts, except one relating to facilities funding. The state and districts involved agreed to skip the appellate court and bring an expedited appeal directly to the Supreme Court.
In summary, the Texas Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that the school finance system essentially establishes an unconstitutional statewide property tax. However, the Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the trial court with regard to adequacy and efficiency. Though TCTA certainly would have preferred that the Supreme Court rule that the schools were inadequately and inefficiently funded, the state’s win on these points appears to be a narrow one. As you will note from the excerpts from the actual decision below, the state appears to have “squeaked by” for now.
The complete decision by the court is here. TCTA exerpted the decision in their summary. Here are some encouraging bits:
  • Deficiencies and disparities in public education that fall short of a constitutional violation find remedy not through the judicial process, but through the political processes of legislation and elections.
  • [T]he judiciary’s duty is to decide the legal issues properly before it without dictating policy matters.
  • The public education system need not operate perfectly; it is adequate if districts are reasonably able to provide their students the access and opportunity the district court described.
  • The Constitution does not require a particular solution. We leave such matters to the discretion of the Legislature.
Contrast this decision with the reality here in New Jersey, imposed on the taxpayers by the ten (!) decisions in Abbott v. Burke from 1997-2003. They include the requirement for the Legislature "to assure by the commencement of the 1997-1998 school year, that per-pupil expenditures in the poor urban districts are equivalent to the average per-pupil expenditure in the wealthy suburban districts."
They also require the commissioner of education to implement full day kindergarten and half-day preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds, school-to-work programs and alternative schools. Finally, and most expensively, they require funding for whatever supplemental programs the districts want, funding for "life-cycle and infrastructure deficiencies," and the assumption of management responsibility for school construction.

The courts can have a large impact on state policy toward any number of things, but have no business setting those policies. New Jersey courts have consistently gotten it wrong on education. Texas has gotten it right, this time.

Monday, November 28, 2005

What do you get ...

... when you mix a curious 3-year-old with an available digital camera?


In both video and still. I have upwards of 30 shots like this, from various dates.

So, should I lock my office, or just enjoy the little presents? Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Update: Call for Fragging Ends Instructor's Job!

Just before the Warren County Community College meeting noted in this post, the treasonous seditionist "instructor," John Daly, resigned his position to avoid being fired. Here's what the board had to say (quoted in full, emphasis mine):

At the request of Warren County Community College President, Dr. William Austin, the College’s Board of Trustees met tonight to review available facts concerning a recent dispute between an adjunct instructor at the College, Mr. John Daly, and a WCCC student and certain safety concerns that arose as a result thereof. The dispute revolved around, among other things, comments made in an e-mail from the instructor to the student who was representing a new student organization and other facts and circumstances that came to the Board’s attention subsequent thereto.
Tonight’s meeting of the Board was initially called to consider what if any action would be taken. As we prepared for that meeting, we received word from Mr. Daly that he had tendered his resignation from WCCC effective immediately. The Board has accepted his resignation.
The Board has no further public comment on this matter.
One wonders what other facts came to light as the board and school management dug into this "instructor's" activities. Anyone think the press will bother to ask?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

New Jersey Prof Urges Fragging U.S. Officers

This is outrageous! New Jersey has its very own extremist college professor nutjob, complete with open advocacy of treasonous murder. Robert Williscroft of The Dead Hand has all the gory details, but here's a quick summary:

1. Young Americans for Freedom plans to host a meeting featuring Lt Col Scott Rutter.
2. Organization leader emails her contact list to promote the event.
3. Adjunct Professor Instructor (of Basic Writing and Developmental English) John Daly sends an inflammatory (and illiterate) response, including the following gem: "Real freedom will come when soldiers in Iraq turn their guns on their superiors and fight for just causes and for people's needs."
4. Warren County Community College (WCCC) issues a press release distancing itself from Daly's remarks.
5. WCCC issues a press release announcing aspecial board meeting to "consider personnel matters."

Sounds like this is going to turn out all right. We'll know for sure after Tuesday, November 22nd.

State Tax Cuts?

USA Today reports Outlook good for tax cuts by states.

Soaring state tax collections have created momentum for tax cuts in 2006, when most governors and legislators will face voters.
State and local revenue rose 7.2% in the first nine months of this year, the biggest jump since 1990, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Spending is up 6%, the most since 2001.
Three years of strong revenue growth have left many states with large surpluses. New Mexico is looking at a $1 billion surplus. Florida expects more than $3 billion.
Even financially troubled California took in $3.4 billion more than it spent in the budget year that ended June 30 — the state's first surplus since 2000. California's deficit was erased by a 13.2% revenue increase.
But where's New Jersey in this list? Isn't our state revenue growing as well? If even California can get out of its hole, why can't we? Roberto at Dynamobuzz notes that we are already facing a $5 billion "shortfall" in next year's budget.

What the politicians don't tell us is that the shortfall is really the difference between the bureaucrats' featherbedding, goldplating, moneygrabbing wishlist and the projected revenue from current taxes. According to the Office of Legislative Services analysis of the Governor's Budget in March 2005, revenues have been growing significantly the last couple of years: They estimated fiscal year 2005 at $27,384 million and FY 2006 at $27,613 million. The largest portion of that, the income tax, has grown 43% since 2003, yet cannot satisfy the politicians lust for cash.

What gets really interesting is a comparison to another state with a budget "shortfall." Carroll Andrew Morse of Rhode Island group blog Anchor Rising wrote this week about the state's $60 million problem, which is about 2% of their total budget. It also works out to about $56 per person in the state. Here in Jersey, the so-called shortfall is over 18% of FY 2006 projected state spending, or $575 for every single one of us (based on 2004 US Census estimated population).

We cannot tolerate a state government that plans to spend us into oblivion. Send a message to Trenton that the government's top line can not be allowed to grow, especially at the rate demanded by the tax receivers. This so-called budget gap must be resolved by reducing spending, not by increasing revenue.

Update: Enlighten New Jersey had a great piece on the budget the other day. It looks like they have better (i.e., more recent) numbers than I used, but the differences are marginal.

Rhodes Scholars

I am usually proud of the accomplishments of my alma mater and her graduates. Today is no exception. Three US Naval Academy midshipmen and one grad have been chosen for 2006 Rhodes Scholarships, more than any other school in the country. They are:

Ensign William R. Kelly, New York (USNA and Harvard)
Nicholas M. Schmitz, Bethesda, Maryland
Paul J. Angelo, Columbia Station, Ohio
Jacquelyn R. Hanna, Lisbon, North Dakota

Full article at here [cnn.com]

For those who wish to keep score:

U.S. Naval Academy


Yale University


University of Chicago


Duke University


Stanford University


University of Washington


Nebraska Wesleyan University


Rice University


Gettysburg College


Amherst College


Florida State University


University of Pittsburgh


Wake Forest University


Wheaton College (Mass)


Dartmouth College


Wabash College


Brown University


University of Pennsylvania


University of the South


Princeton University


University of Richmond


University of Denver


This brings me to an interesting thought about anti-military bias. I find it remarkable that four students from a single institution could be selected for such a prestigious honor, yet the Associated Press doesn't mention it in the article. Am I being overly sensitive?

(Thanks for the open trackback posts!: The Blue State Conservatives, Is It Just Me?, Soldier's Angel Holly Aho, The Political Teen, and Don Surber.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Election Bang for the Buck

Welcome, Blue Staters!

Enlighten New Jersey shares some interesting data in the aftermath of the gubernatorial election.

In the 2001 New Jersey governor's race with Jim McGreevey against Bret Schundler, the candidates spent a combined $36 million on the campaign with the Democrat McGreevey outspending the Republican Schundler by a margin of 3-to-1. The result was McGreevey 1,229,818 votes to Schundler’s 915,314, a difference of 314,504 votes in favor of the Democrat.

In this year’s gubernatorial race the candidate’s spent a combined $75 million with Jon Corzine outspending Doug Forrester by a margin of 2-to-1. The result was Corzine 1,157,385 votes and Forrester 954,347, a difference of 203,038 votes in favor of the Democrat.
Since I love to play with numbers, I decided to see what I could learn here. First, some basic spending rates. (See if you can guess which candidate is a fiscal conservative.)

Campaign Spending per Vote
McGreevey (D)
$ 21.95
Schundler (R)
$ 9.83
Corzine (D)
$ 43.20
Forrester (R)
$ 26.20

So that made me wonder, what would it take for Forrester to buy parity with Corzine? On a pure cost per vote basis ($26 apiece), that works out to another $5.3 million. Any amount of additional spending by Forrester would likely have been matched by Corzine. Assuming he did so at 1:1, Corzine's additional $5.3 million would have added another 123,117 votes to his total, meaning Forrester would not have closed the gap completely. Assuming a constant average cost, Doug needed to spend about $13 million more to get even.

Right about now, you're probably thinking the average cost is a flawed assumption. You're right. Forrester's $26 average price includes a lot of committed Republicans. A better measure would be the marginal cost per vote gained from the last election. Forrester spent about $16 million more than Schundler and garnered 39 thousand more votes, so his marginal vote cost works out to just under $410. At that rate, Doug needed to spend another $83 million to close the 200 kilovote gap with Corzine.

Applying the same marginal cost per vote model to Corzine, this gets really interesting. Corzine spent about $23 million more than McGreevey, for 72 thousand fewer votes, yielding a marginal rate of negative $317.53 per vote. If he spent the same additional $83 million as Forrester, he would lose 262,000 votes, giving Forrester a significant margin. The break-even point in this model comes in at about $36 million in additional spending.

So what's my point? Obviously, more spending by the Republican campaign was not the answer to winning this election. More effective spending would have helped, and for the most part Republican spending was significantly more effective than Democrat spending. What this data tells me is that Corzine is not an effective manager of money, delivering negative vote productivity in a largely blue state, while spraying cash like water through a fire hose. He may get the results he sets out to achieve, but he does it in a way that is wasteful and inefficient when using his own money. I'm not looking forward to what he will start doing with my money once he gets to Drumthwacket.

Thanks to The Blue State Conservatives for hosting the Friday Linkfest.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Valour-IT Veterans Day Challenge

In a little over 2 hours, the Valour-IT Interservice Fundraising Challenge will end. In the end, the donations raised by the four service teams will provide enough funding to purchase over 110 voice activated laptops for our wounded troops. Nearly 76 thousand dollars, not including mailed in checks and undesignated donations. I am absolutely astounded at the results, though not surprised given the ingenuity, determination and generosity of the blogging community at large, and milbloggers in particular.

Thank you to every one who contributed, posted, talked and linked to help this project.

If you are interested in seeing the data I collected for the tracking chart, it's at
The Valour-IT Veterans Day Challenge, and it will stay up as long as I maintain this service. Feel free to hotlink it if you so desire.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Valour-IT Still Going Strong

Now that two teams have beaten the $21,000 goal, SMASH reports the Army has challenged the Navy in a race to $25,000.

So far, Navy has a slim lead, $22,318 to $22,128. A linear projection out to midnight tomorrow night would put us on pace for $25,282, with Army falling short of the mark (just barely).

Go donate to the Navy cause! C'mon, click the button, you know you want to!

Super Gator

This must have been one hell of an alligator. I wonder if they lived in Jersey? Near the Parkway?


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Valour-IT News Flash

This just in from the Valour-IT database:


To the generous donor(s) who pushed our team back on top, thank you!

The count now stands:

Navy Army Marines Air Force
$18,668 $11,905 $ 5,890

The chart in the previous post shows the details, and our illustrious leader's husband offers words of encouragement (see update 10). Sorry, Jim.

Update, 10:03 PM:
It's going to be a nail-biter in the race to $20,000. Army is using its larger mass to rake in big gains, while Navy brings in higher average donations to keep a slight lead. The score stands Navy: $19.833; Army: $19,358.

Update, 10:17 PM:
Navy: $19.933; Army: $19,358.

Update, 10:43 PM: Navy: $19.983; Army: $19,358. Only $1,017 left for Navy!

Cha-Ching! 10:48 PM, Navy first over the $20,000 mark with $20,008!

Update, 11:00 PM. In the 12 minutes since the last update, some Army sand baggers (John from GA and Randy) dropped $1,650.00 to pull exactly $1,000 ahead of Navy. John from GA is Army's single largest contribution thus far, at $1,500. That puts the senior service first over the line at $21,008. Congratulations, Army. We'll be there with you in a little bit.

Update, 12:00 AM. Closing out the day, Army remains in the lead at $21,008, while Navy has closed the gap again, sitting at $20,463. For those who are interested, here's a chart showing the final moments (scroll down to the previous post for full details on all teams).

Update, Thursday 6:30 AM: Navy's back in the lead, and has crossed the line with another $637 overnight.

Valour--IT, Day 7

Here's the latest status. Looks like the total is now at 70 laptops, if my calculations are correct.

Also, I looked at the total trend, and if it holds we should hit $60,000 by Friday at midnight eastern time. Here's the plot for that:

These totals only include those that have given to a particular team through the PayPal buttons. As the Valour-IT blog reports each night, there are undesignated and check donations coming in as well.

Keep pushing, and give til it hurts! Our Troops need your support!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Valour-IT Project Day 6

The good news continues from the weekend - over $7,000 pledged online to the teams today.
So what does this $7,000 mean? Each laptop (with software and shipping) costs about $675, so today's donations will add 10 laptops to the pool available for our wounded. The total raised so far, over $44,300, will supply 66 machines, enough to complete phase 1 of the project in Bethesda, and place 6-7 machines at each of the centers in phase 2.

Unfortunately, there was also bad news today. Navy's $1,000 lead turned into a $1,500 shortfall behind Army, although the last few hours have seen Navy surging again, closing the gap to about $1,000 (see the chart below). In an attempt to boost Navy participation, Da Goddess is offering her services for substantial donations in Southern California. Citizen SMASH, meanwhile, is selling off his wife! This Army lead cannot be allowed to continue, and we will do whatever it takes to make things right.

Forrester for Governor

Anyone who has read my blog knows my politics are decidedly conservative. Accordingly, I'm pushing the button for Doug Forrester for Governor tomorrow. I believe that Corzine's "plans" for New Jersey, along with his ties to the Democrat party apparatus, make him a poor choice to govern our state.

Suzette has another reason: he can't even be bothered to respond to a constituent request for his position on a bill! This is an indication that he is ineffective as an administrator, and should not be given the reins of the most powerful governorship in the United States.

Elect Doug Forrester!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Valour-IT Day 5 Update

Today was one of those good news / bad news days. On the plus side, over $5,000 in new contributions were recorded. On the minus side, Army closed the gap by over a thousand dollars, shrinking Navy's lead as you can see in the chart below.

In other good news, two Valour-IT posts were included in the Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers, and Jim at Parway Rest Stop has joined the fray. He's challenging other Jersey bloggers to do so as well:

I'm making a special appeal to Jersey Bloggers who are active military, vets, those who have friends or family in the military and generally to all those who really do "support our troops." You need not make a large donation. Every single donation helps!

Since Jim's readership is about a zillion times larger than mine, we may see some additional donations from the Garden State real soon. This is a good thing, because the OPORD in effect calls for FIRE FOR EFFECT, and we'll need all the guns we can get.

Valour-IT Day 4 Update

Just before midnight on November 5th, the Valour-IT challenge has raised an astonishing $32,051. Each service is contributing steadily, with NAVY firmly in the lead. The tracking chart for all four services shows that both NAVY and Army are tracking to beat the $21,000 goal on their own.

Please contribute to this great cause -- wounded military personnel need your help. All you need to do is click the button in my sidebar. Even $10 can make a difference.

If you'd like to do more, you can join the NAVY team, led by Mrs. Smash, here. The other service team leads are Holly Aho (Marines), BlackFive (Army), and Mrs. Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette (Air Force). A complete list of participating blogs can be found here.


Saturday, November 05, 2005

A Project Valour-IT Cartoon

Check out the Ipso Facto Cartoon Blog for a cool Project Valour-IT cartoon. It seems penguins and wounded soldiers have something in common...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Valour-IT Update

As of 4:00 PM EST Friday 042100Z NOV 05 , the four teams combined have raised over $21,000 to provide voice controlled laptops for wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. The current standings:











Air Force


Nice job, Navy, but don't slow down! We can't let the Army gain an inch.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Project Valour-IT

Welcome, New Jersey Carnival 25 readers.

Project Valour-IT "provides voice-controlled software and laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries or amputations at major military medical centers." The project needs to raise $110,000 to implement its first two phases, and $600,000 to place 150 laptops in every major military medical center. (Click here for details of the project plan).

The mil-blogging community is running a little friendly competition between now and Veteran's Day, November 11th, to see which service can raise the most money for the project. Mrs. Smash at The Indepundit is leading the charge for the Navy team. If you can help, after all of the other calls for charity in the past few months, please do!


Update: The Navy team got moving nicely today after an initial rough start. The chart below shows our progress toward the $21,000 goal. Please consider contrbuting to help our cause!

More updates here, here, and here.