Monday, 03 October 2011


Ken Berwitz

I have written a great deal about the teachers' unions and why I have a problem with them.  But not as well as Fran Tarkenton has.

Fran Tarkenton, a great hall-of-fame NFL quarterback who then became a major business entrepreneur, has written a brilliant piece for the Wall Street Journal, titled "What if the NFL Played by Teachers' Rules?".  Here are its first two paragraphs:

Imagine the National Football League in an alternate reality. Each player's salary is based on how long he's been in the league. It's about tenure, not talent. The same scale is used for every player, no matter whether he's an All-Pro quarterback or the last man on the roster. For every year a player's been in this NFL, he gets a bump in pay. The only difference between Tom Brady and the worst player in the league is a few years of step increases. And if a player makes it through his third season, he can never be cut from the roster until he chooses to retire, except in the most extreme cases of misconduct.

Let's face the truth about this alternate reality: The on-field product would steadily decline. Why bother playing harder or better and risk getting hurt?

I won't ask you to use my link and read the rest of Mr. Tarkenton's piece.  I assume what you have read so far would cause you to do so.  

Look, I understand that professional sports is not teaching, and that the analogies are not perfect.  But the points Mr. Tarkenton is making are well worth thinking about. 

There is no doubt that some teachers - a great many of them if you ask me - will go far beyond their minimal requirements out of dedication to their profession and to the students they are entrusted with.  I have great admiration for them.

But there is also no doubt that some teachers - way too many of them - will not go one iota beyond their minimal requrements, if even that far, and are unconcerned about how their underperformance affects the students they are entrusted with. 

Does it not stand to reason that we should reward the first group and not reward the second?

Personally, I don't see how anyone who cares about children's educations would disagree.  But I'm perfectly willing to hear alternative points of view and fully receptive to them if they make sense. 

If you have one, let's see it.


Ken Berwitz

If this isn't a classic "you can't make this stuff up" entry, I don't know what could be.  And, though I'm not 100% sure, it appears to be true as well.

Excerpted from an article at

Pee power: Urine-loving bug churns out space fuel


Scientists on Sunday said they had gained insights into a remarkable bacterium that lives without oxygen and transforms ammonium, the ingredient of urine, into hydrazine, a rocket fuel.


So-called anammox -- for anaerobic ammonium oxidation -- germs caused a sensation when they were first identified in the 1990s, but uncovering their secrets is taking time.


In a letter published by the British science journal Nature, researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands reported they had identified the molecular mechanism by which the bugs do their fuel-trick.


"Proving this was quite a feat," said Mike Jetten, professor of microbiology at the university's Institute for Water and Wetland Research.


The team's work initially piqued NASA's interest, but this faded when the US space agency learned that only small quantities of precious hydrazine are produced, "nothing like enough to get a rocket to Mars," said Jetten.

Wait until the environmentalist wackos find out about this.  What will they do?  Demand that no one pee within 100 yards of an anammox bug? 

Can't you just picture jihadists in caves along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, with anammox bug farms,  peeing and waiting...peeing and waiting...peeing and waiting...

Ok, enough.  The next bad joke is yours.


Ken Berwitz

The Chevrolet Volt is a small, unpowerful electric automobile (with a 1.4 liter gasoline engine as well).  It lists for $41,000.- a lot more than electric alternatives (its most direct competition, the Nissan Leaf, lists for $35,200) and hybrids (the Toyota Prius lists from 23,540, to 28,790 for the most expensive model).

When the Volt was released, a (very modest) 2011 sales goal of 10,000 units was set. 

The latest sales data were just released.  Through September, a total of 3,895 Volts have been sold in 2011.  At this pace, Chevrolet will sell slightly over 5,000 Volts for the year.  By contrast, the Nissan Leaf has sold 7,199 cars in 2011, and the Toyota Prius sold 9,325 units in September alone.

Bottom line:  The Chevrolet Volt appears to be both overpriced and unwanted versus marketplace alternatives.

The Chevrolet Volt is made by General Motors, a company which essentially was taken over by the Obama administration.

This is the same Obama administration that wants to run our health care.

The 2012 elections cannot come fast enough.

(Anon) I wonder how many of the 3,895 Volts have been sold to government agencies? (10/03/11)

Zeke .... ..... And how many sold to GE, which stated they will buy 12,000 Volts over the next 4 years. ..... ..... The Volt PR keeps mouthing off about how "production is being ramped up", "dealers are keeping waiting lists", blah-blah. BTW, the price for a 2012 Volt is $40,000 .... but they took out the GPS Navigation System and Bose Audio System, which standard on the 2011. ..... Now you pay $2,500. .... The car has no heater, but you can get heated front seats with the $1,400 Premium Trim package. No heat for rear seat riders, including toddlers in car seats (where heating the Volt's upholstery is meaningless). All of which makes the 2012 Volt a bargain at $43,880 MSRP. Sales tax, and states with personal property tax use that number. Deduct $7,500 for Obama's rebate. (10/03/11)

free' That first comment was from me. (10/03/11)


Ken Berwitz

While reading an entry at (a web site I make sure to read every day), I came upon a series of cartoons, posted by a commenter who calls him/herself "Diogenesis", which suggest that President Obama just may be the beneficiary of a biased media corps. .I thought you might like to see a couple of them, so here they are:


Ken Berwitz

Here is the closest thing to a stealth election you will ever come across.  But, as you will see by reading on, it could be an extremely important one.

Joe Manchin was the Governor of West Virginia.  But when Robert Byrd died, he wanted to replace him.  Mr. Manchin won, by running a campaign well to the right of his own party.  Congratulations to him.

This left Earl Ray Tomblin, the President of the West Virginia State Senate, as his replacement.  Mr. Tomblin is being challenged in tomorrow's special election by Republican businessman Bill Maloney.

Initially, this was a clear Democrat win.  Tomblin is a very well known name in West Virginia, he is the longest-running President of its State Senate in history, and he has a roughly 2-1 advantage over Maloney in party registration.  That sounds like a game-set-match situation for sure, doesn't it?  Not with Barack Obama at the head of the ticket.

According to the (Democrat) pollsters at Public Policy Polling:

The race for Governor of West Virginia is looking more and more like a

toss up, with Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin now leading Republican Bill Maloney only 47-

46. Tomblin's lead was 46-40 on a poll conducted at the beginning of September and he

had led by as large a margin as 33 points earlier in the year.


When we polled West Virginia a month ago Maloney led by 65 points with Republicans

and 5 points with independents. He currently leads by 65 points with Republicans and 4

points with independents. So there's basically been no change with those voting groups.

The shift that's occurred has been with Democrats. Maloney's share of their vote has

increased from 17% to 24%, while Tomblin has remained in place at 69%. Maloney has

particularly made in roads with conservative Democrats- they now support Tomblin by

only a 49-43 margin.

Translation:  Maloney is gaining specifically because Democrats are running, not walking, from their own party. 

And why are they doing this?  According to an article at

The biggest reason for the biggest reason? As in New York's Ninth Congressional District last month, the Democrat's connection to President Barack Obama is working in the Republican's favor. "Democrats can still win in West Virginia, even if Obama is unpopular, but it makes it a lot harder," said pollster Tom Jensen. "Its hard for Democrats when you have a president that unpopular."

But even Tomblin campaign spokesman Chris Stadelman acknowledged, "Some people seem to think this race is about 2012 and they're using Bill Maloney to send a message."

An increasing number of politicos - Dick Morris s among them - are speculating that President Obama may not even run next year.  I strongly doubt this is a real possibility.  But if Maloney should win tomorrow, and the difference is disaffected Democrats, I may have to think more about that prospect.


Ken Berwitz

Leon Panetta, the Obama administration's Secretary of Defense, has warned Israel that it is isolating itself, diplomatically, from other nations in the region.

His exact words, according to an Associated Press article were:

"There's not much question in my mind that they maintain that (military) edge.  But the question you have to ask: Is it enough to maintain a military edge if you're isolating yourself in the diplomatic arena? Real security can only be achieved by both a strong diplomatic effort as well as a strong effort to project your military strength."

Thank you, Mr. Panetta, for warning against Israel risking diplomatic isolation.  But I have a question:  In what way is Israel not isolated diplomatically within the region?  In what way has Israel not been isolated within the region for the entire 63 years it has existed as a secular state?

Let me remind you, Mr. Panetta, that Israel's entire "non-isolation" over this time has been a 32 year peace arrangement - icy, tendentious, but a peace arrangement nevertheless - with Egypt, and a cold, only slightly less icy, 17 year peace arrangement with Jordan. 

Both of these arrangements occurred 100% because of Israel's military edge and 0% because of anything diplomatic. 

And let me also remind you that Egypt's peace arrangement with Israel, quite possibly Jordan's too, is currently on extremely thin ice.  This is due, in no small part, to the so-called "Arab spring" that your boss, President Obama, helped to facilitate - which, in reality, has quickly morphed into a movement lurching toward Israel-hating islamic fundamentalism, rather than the "freedom and democracy" we were told would occur. 

Do you happen to remember those Gazan terrorists were able to enter Israel in mid-August and kill 8 innocent people?  Do you remember that they traveled, unimpeded, through Egypt?  Do you think that was some kind of coincidence? 

But since you raised the issue, Mr. Panetta, why not tell us what you think Israel should do diplomatically?   Specifics, please.

Keep in mind that Israel cannot exchange ambassadors with the other countries in the immediate area, because they do not recognize it as a state.  Israel cannot trade with those countries for the same reason.  And Israel cannot negotiate a "peace deal" with Palestinian Arabs. because, not only do the hamas and fatah ruling factions not recognize the state of Israel, they are specifically committed to its annihilation through jihad, and the killing of every Jew, both in and out of Israel.

Given these facts, what, exactly, do you have in mind?  Should Israel provide another round of making additional concessions to the people who hate them and want their country annihilated, for which they get nothing in return?  To tell you the truth, after decades of fruitlessly trying this approach they, seem less than taken with the prospect of doing so again.  

The bottom line?  I'm sure Israel appreciates your input, Mr. Panetta.  But I have a feeling that it just might want to deal with reality instead.   

Thanks for your suggestion, and have a wonderful day.

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