Friday, September 26, 2008


Just read the whole damn post, but in case you don't, read this much:

The at-home mission does not take the place of scheduled combat-zone deployments and will take place during the so-called dwell time a unit gets to reset and regenerate after a deployment.


They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.


The US military has given the first public display of what it says is a revolutionary heat-ray weapon to repel enemies or disperse hostile crowds.

Called the Active Denial System, it projects an invisible high energy beam that produces a sudden burning feeling.

A Reuters journalist who volunteered to be shot with the beam described the sensation as similar to a blast from a very hot oven - too painful to bear without diving for cover.


The agony the Raytheon gun inflicts is probably equal to anything in a torture chamber - these waves are tuned to a frequency exactly designed to stimulate the pain nerves.

I couldn't hold my finger next to the device for more than a fraction of a second. I could make the pain stop, but what if my finger had been strapped to the machine?

Bailout Shenanigans

Tristero over at Hullabaloo has an insight about the bailout BS:

This isn't about obstreperous Republicans blocking a needed financial bailout because it doesn't fit some whacked ideology. This is about a campaign bailout. McCain's campaign bailout.

It's about winning elections, not governing a country. This, of course, creates problems, since the winner has to actually, you know, govern.

This has been a bad week for politics

The massive financial bailout and the scary shit surrounding it aside, can you believe this shit:

National Review's Mark Krikorian notes that (1) Washington Mutual became the largest bank to fail in American history yesterday and (2) its last press release touted the fact that it was named one of America's most diverse employers...


While juxtaposing these two facts -- (1) WaMu has a racially and ethnically diverse workforce and (2) WaMu collapsed yesterday -- the National Review writer headlined his post: "Cause and Effect?" He apparently believes that the reason Washington Mutual failed may be because it employed and was too accommodating to large numbers of Hispanics, African-Americans and gays.

I think this is a good time for a Friday Fuck You. Sometimes it really is the most accurate response.

Fuck you, Mark Krikorian.

... it's obvious to everyone that the reason WaMu failed was not a bazillion small errors caused by bad employees, but gross mismanagement at the upper management level (that also happened to occur at lots of other companies who didn't follow WaMu's lead on this), and that its hiring practices, therefore, had nothing to do with it, and thus the reason I am so pissed is that not only is this racism and heterosexism, but it's so obviously wrong on the merits, right? Krikorian is making shit up in order to justify an incredibly prejudiced set of beliefs: That people of color and non-heteros can't work at a bank. What the fuck?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

[LCSD] Concerned Parent Questionnaire

Lebanon Truth hits the two main problems with the concerned parent questionnaire. The first: of the fundamental polling principles is that you need to question a representative sample in order to obtain useful data.

Even if the people behind the questionnaire tried to do this, there's no guarantee they'd be successful in finding a representative sample - especially with the lack of demographic questions on the questionnaire itself.

Of course, I would be amazed if there was even an attempt to distribute the questionnaire to a broad cross-spectrum of people. Instead, I suspect it will be distributed organically - which means it will fall disproportionately into the hands of people who are already pissed, skewing the results significantly.

The second:

Polling questions are supposed to be neutral on their face...

Many of the questions in the questionnaire are not anything even remotely resembling neutral; instead, they are rather leading. Given that, there is no way this is anything resembling a statistically valid survey.

One point that LT does not address is that surveys should be on a single topic or themed. Even broadly construed, this questionnaire is all over the map, addressing questions about the Superintendent, the LHS Principal, teachers in general, the high school math program, and more. This is a problem, as this is not a comprehensive survey of all things LCSD.

Given who is likely to fill it out, I would not be surprised if (a) the results of the questionnaire are very anti-Robinson and anti-Finch, and (b) individuals who are anti-Robinson and anti-Finch wave them triumphantly and claim they are evidence for something, regardless of their validity. Don't get me wrong - there will be great anecdotal evidence that comes out of the questionnaire. But anecdotes are, by definition, single instances of something, and not useful on a macro level.

I do think that some form of more neutral polling or a survey around similar issues and questions in the LCSD would be interesting. I don't think there is money floating around for it, however.

Oh, and as for the questionnaire itself? Check it out:

[LCSD] Who is funding the anti-recall campaign?

Word has it there are both anti-recall shirts and large (4' x 8') signs around Lebanon. Lots and lots of them.

Neither of those things, especially T-shirts, are cheap.

So who is footing the bill? With CARES, it's obvious - most of their donors have been named. They formed a PAC and followed state laws regarding political donations.

So who are the benefactors for Alexander and Wineteer? I'm not saying they or their supports have broken the law - I suppose it's feasible (someone correct me if I am wrong) for someone to just spend their personal money on a bunch of anti-recall lit - but it's sure interesting that they seem to have at least as many financial resources as CARES.

I wonder if Mr. Alexander's stated belief in transparency extends to who is paying for all this stuff or not?

Anyone out there have any information?

As a result of the third comment, I went online and found the 2008 Campaign Finance Manual for Oregon (PDF). A few minutes looking through it suggests that the commenter is exactly right. The conclusion I am drawing is that either Alexander and Wineteer should be filing with the state, or their mystery benefactor should be filing with the state, or both. Check out page 74 of the manual for penalties. I'm no expert, but it looks like if no one is filing anything for the anti-recall campaign, then they could already be in trouble.

One additional (and interesting) note: I've looked all over ORESTAR for any record of any mention of the names Alexander and Wineteer, and I cannot find them, either in candidate filings or as related to any existing or discontinued committee. It's entirely possible that either I'm missing them, or that any records that do exist are so new they've not been posted online yet. However, if past history is any guide, I'd guess that neither them nor their supporters have actually filed.

My somewhat hypothetical question: If violations in campaign finance law are discovered, does that change anything about the election, or are the penalties merely assessed after the fact?

UPDATE 2: In response to the fourth comment, it's possible that individuals have all donated small enough amounts to the anti-recall campaign to avoid having to file. However, if the total value to the candidate is over $300, then the candidates - and both Alexander and Wineteer count according to the manual - have to file, and again, I found no record of that happening.

[LCSD] Math Score Comparisons

CARES member Tre' Kennedy was handing these out at the last board meeting. I'm not going to go in depth, but I did notice a few things when looking them over (click each table to see a larger image):

1) The Sand Ridge scores are not very good. The last two tables in particular paint an ugly picture.

2) Lebanon's math scores are above the state average until 10th grade, when they drop precipitously.

3) Oregon City and Forest Grove are doing something right. It seems like a good idea, like some parents are doing, to figure out what they're doing differently.

What do you all think?


From the WSJ:

In what is by far the largest bank failure in U.S. history, federal regulators seized Washington Mutual Inc. and struck a deal to sell the bulk of its operations to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

And to think, the nice man who I had to talk to get my money out of WaMu last week assured me that nothing was wrong.

Capitalism! Fuck yeah!

[LCSD] "In defense of LHS math teacher"

An LHS student writes a letter to the editor. My favorite part:

Mr. Helland not only grades in such a way that gives ample time for his students to better comprehend what he is teaching, but he offers his time as well. He offers his own personal time to help students with individual problems well before and after school, during lunch, and even during any free periods a student may have. This gives students with other commitments, such as a job after school, a way to meet with him. Failure to get help from Mr. Helland, or even getting less than a ‘C' in his class is more likely from lack of trying and not lack of opportunity. This is called accountability.

Oh snap!

[LCSD] City-wide wifi for students

This is awesome:

LEBANON — The city of Lebanon has partnered with the Lebanon Community School District on a project to share Internet access.

Lebanon, having expanded its wireless internet access points to around 80 transmitters throughout the city, will tap into the schools’ fiber optic lines to increase wifi connection speeds.

Increased connectivity will hopefully allow more students to access the Lebanon schools’ networks through the citywide wireless to view online course materials and assignments.

“I’m just super excited about this whole thing,” said Brian Bray, director of technology for the Lebanon Community School District. “It helps eliminate the digital divide.”


“With a cheap laptop and a wifi device, any kid can use this wifi to access the Internet,” he said.

Good for Mr. Bray. This might put Lebanon ahead of many - even most - small towns when it comes to internet access for students.

[LCSD] Observation

My addled brain is too gone right now to come up with much else, but:

The Lebanon recall election is mirroring national politics in that I see a ton of misinformed people shouting at the top of their lungs and focusing on character assassination more than anything else.

This is not intended as a compliment.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Good column on Obama

From Nicholas Kristof in the NYT:

Here’s a sad monument to the sleaziness of this presidential campaign: Almost one-third of voters “know” that Barack Obama is a Muslim or believe that he could be.

In short, the political campaign to transform Mr. Obama into a Muslim is succeeding. The real loser as that happens isn’t just Mr. Obama, but our entire political process.


What is happening, I think, is this: religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice. In public at least, it’s not acceptable to express reservations about a candidate’s skin color, so discomfort about race is sublimated into concerns about whether Mr. Obama is sufficiently Christian.

The result is this campaign to “otherize” Mr. Obama. Nobody needs to point out that he is black, but there’s a persistent effort to exaggerate other differences, to de-Americanize him.

Comments suggesting that Obama is, in fact, Muslim, a terrorist, the Antichrist, or anything else so stupid will not be published.

... Noting, of course, that it would be perfectly OK if Obama was Muslim.

h/t cnd

Tuesday, September 23, 2008



Even the deepest purse has a bottom, and the point may be approaching where the costs of propping up the world's largest debtor nation (i.e. us) begins to outweigh the benefits.

The national debt is owed, in no small part, to banks in other countries. What would happen if the rest of the world - or even, say, the Chinese - decided they wanted their money back?

I'd make a crack about structural adjustment programs, but the Republicans already pursue those with vigor.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Awesome.

Literally no one in America thinks the economy is getting better. (See the the third table down.) Also, Bush's approval rating is down to 19% - and yet, I still predict the Democrats will capitulate and bail out a bunch of financial institutions that f*cked up with no meaningful oversight and no guarantee of future good behavior.

As Atrios says: Capitalism! Fuck Yeah!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Short Timeline of US Government Bailouts

Via Majikthise and from Pro Publica. Check it out (no excerpt because it's a table).

[LCSD] Going off the rails on a Sunday evening

From Lebanon Proof:

For years this community has been held hostage by a controlling interloper who was able to schmooze his way into the hearts and minds of some of the pivitol community leaders.

Make no mistake, Mr. Robinson is a very smart man. He probably did his homework to such an extent that he would know which church to attend, which insurance agent to choose, which clubs to attend, which stores to shop in and which neighborhood to inhabit in order to meet the people he would need to win over in order to provide a buffer for himself and his unorthodox leadership style that he had tried to implement and failed in two prior communities.

When he goes, the ripple effect and the aftershocks will be intense and painful...but the alternative is much more dangerous.

This statement is so strange I don't even know where to begin.

First of all, it's simply untrue to phrase the 'community held hostage' claim as a universal, declarative statement. That would imply that it's a fact. It's not - it's LP's opinion, and while it may be shared by others, there are also plenty of people who disagree with that characterization of things. I also see very little evidence for this claim being true: What, exactly, is Robinson using to hold the community hostage? What did he have in the beginning that the community needed that got him his contract? I can't think of anything.

Oh, right: That's because the rolling contract is common. Also, if the hostage characterization comes from the belief that since Robinson isn't leaving because the 'whole' community wants him gone he is therefore somehow holding the community hostage, maybe that's because a) the community isn't united on their opinion of Robinson and he sees that, and b) the reasons people give for opposing Robinson may not make much sense to him. I know they don't always make sense to me. Also, possible: c) that Robinson believes it would be bad for students to have Alexander and Wineteer running the district.

.... one thing that just struck me is that LP might be referring to Robinson using himself as a hostage. As was guessed last week, if the board is trying to buy Robinson out, then maybe he's demanding something in return that the blogger knows about, and that's what the blogger is referencing. Who knows?

Second, I want to address the use of the term 'interloper'. I'll be blunt and concise: To think that the Superintendent has to be from Lebanon is just stupid, and we need to get over it. This does not mean that Robinson has to be Superintendent, or that Lebanon can't produce someone who would be a good Superintendent.

Rather, it is to note that I want to unearth what I think is an assumption that is floating around Lebanon: That Lebanon and Lebanon alone is best suited to determine what needs to happen to educate students in Lebanon.

Again with the blunt: This is wrong, and dangerous. Lebanon - and by Lebanon I mean the residents of the community - should have a say in how education in Lebanon happens, but it should not be the only say. It should not even be the final say. Education professionals and experts - some of whom will come from outside - are the people who have dedicated their lives and careers to the field, and are in the best position to relate educational outcomes and educational practices. Of course, parents still have the right to determine what they want for their child's education, but that doesn't necessarily extend to dictating how the local school district works.

I don't know of any other industrialized country that grants such a level of control to something as local (or so lacking in traditionally-defined expertise) as a school board.

Bear in mind, I have said before, and still believe, that there is a role for people without advanced degrees, and people from the community. This is not a call to blindly follow anyone with a PhD. But the opportunity for expertise in the form of a Superintendent is there, and I would hate to see Lebanon move forward by hiring a Superintendent but leave all meaningful authority in the hands of a school board - any school board. Remember, a school board is there for oversight, and is, frankly, an historical anachronism, left over from a time when a local oversight board was necessary due to a lack of speedy communication.

Let me also say it another way: Even in the Age of Internet, it is nearly impossible for a small community to know what outcomes needs to be in place in the education system that will enable students to be successful in the (globalized) working world. It's very difficult to get the necessary prospective from a place like Lebanon - and I say that as someone who lived there for the first 19 years of his life. The expectation the US has developed at this point, for better or worse, is that a) students need to be prepared to work in a globalized world, and b) education experts and professionals are the best equipped to know what is required to make that happen.

Contra that, the implicit belief I've seen from a lot of the anti-Robinson folks that the school board, this school board, can do a better job running the district strikes me as misguided and dangerous. Face it: While people from Lebanon may have had a good idea what students needed to learn to be employable in Lebanon thirty, forty, or fifty years ago, times have changed. There are a lot more out-of-town or even out-of-state employers in Lebanon now, and a lot less mills.

Third - and possibly most ludicrously - who in their right mind thinks Robinson actually scoped the district and made all his decisions based on his ability to manipulate local folks into being his friend? Were I Robinson, I'd consider that one of the nastier personal attacks I'd faced here.

Consider that for a second: The blogger LP is claiming that someone actually developed a plan to subvert a whole community and was willing to subsume his entire personal life to do it. Actually doing that would take quite the evil person, and gives Robinson a lot more credibility than he deserves. I don't think Robinson is that malicious, but I do think that if we take this view as being common among anti-Robinson folks it has some explanatory power.

Come to think of it, this is the second time LP has intimated that there's some sort of shadowy thing going on in Lebanon - the first time was when they suggested that CARES and the myriad of PACs is a conspiracy (rather than either innocuous or designed to increase tax write-offs).

Come on, people. First, I don't think CARES or Robinson has enough ill will or free time to create that kind of conspiracy, and second, I am reminded of something a political science prof said to my intro class back in 2001 or 2002: You don't need to resort to conspiracy to explain something when there's a group of people that all believe similar things involved. Their common actions stem from their shared beliefs, not some kind of secret master plan.

This is not designed to suggest there can't be conspiracies; clearly the two are not mutually exclusive. But Occam's Razor seems to apply here.

Bottom line on this one: I think LP is giving Robinson both far too much credit and assuming he's far more evil than he actually is.

Fourth, the last sentence that I excerpted: "When he goes, the ripple effect and the aftershocks will be intense and painful...but the alternative is much more dangerous."

I can read the first part of that sentence two ways. The first is rather benign: That whenever someone has been in a position like Robinson's for a decade, in a district that's undergone the changes Lebanon has, the person's leaving will make a noticeable difference. That difference can be good or bad, depending, but it will be there. The second way of reading the statement is not benign: That LP is (intentionally or not) lowering expectations. If Robinson leaves, and for some reason things go very poorly either in his absence or with a new Superintendent, LP's statement is the first step in claiming that it will either be Robinson's fault or the fault of Robinson's network of sleeper cells supporters. In politics, it's usually called shifting the goalposts.

The second part of that sentence is kind of frustrating, and just kind of silly. "Get rid of Robinson, or else!" claims his detractor. Or else what? Can the board not provide oversight? Can concerned citizens and parents not work with the remaining board members to provide oversight? It's not like Fisher, Shimmin or McUne is anywhere near being in Robinson's pocket.

Fifth - and finally - I have been asked plenty of times if I have any idea who the person behind Lebanon Proof is. I have avoided speculation both on this blog and in my contacts with others until this point, mostly because I had no idea. People have suggested it to me that it is either attorney Paul Meadowbrook or former LHS teacher Lyndon Brown. I had also wondered if it was former PIE Chairman Jay Jackson.

After the last few posts, I think I can narrow my guess down a bit (It could, of course, be someone who has not been so publicly active in the LCSD recently, and I don't want to rule that out): I think it's either Jay Jackson, or more likely Lyndon Brown. I think Meadowbrook would be more straightforward and less, um, venomous; he also doesn't seem to be as personally invested. The last few posts also suggest a level of anger that Brown is rumored to have attained in regards to Robinson and the LCSD.

To be clear: This is speculation. I don't know who the blogger is. And back when their posts contained interesting (if context-free) facts, like the number of administrators and non-classroom teachers in the district, I was happy to let it lie. However, the last several posts have struck me as being increasingly divorced from reality, which flies in the face of the claim made on the blog that it differentiates truth from innuendo, not when it uses words like 'tyrannical' and 'hostage'. Those are subjective judgment calls, not facts, and while it's fine to print both, it's not OK with me to fail to differentiate and present subjective opinions as facts. Hence my publicly guessing - and if I'm right, neither Jackson nor Brown has anything to lose, as one just resigned and the other is retired.

Also, this is post #900. Woo hoo!

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