The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of the Web

The Politics of the Web


Visualizing the Iphone 5. What it may look like. [PC Magazine]

Internet celebrity Antoine Dodson arrested in Alabama. [CBS News]

Playstation Network outage leaves PS3 users disconnected for days. [Mercury News]

Obama pulls the plug on internet poker sites. [Washington Times]

Eva Moskowitz: School Dollars are Better Spent on Things Other than Class Size

Contributing RP Eva Moskowitz, a former New York City Councilperson, has been an outspoken advocate for charter schools since her time in public office.  Now the founder and chief executive of the Success Charter Network, a collection of seven charter schools in Harlem and the Bronx, she is speaking out on what she has learned from her work.  Today, she argues, contrary to conventional wisdom, that class size is not the critical factor upon which to build education policy.

Here’s an excerpt — the link to the entire op-ed piece (originally published in the Manchester Union-Leader) can be found below it:

THAT CLASS size should be small is revered like an article of faith in this country. Its adherents include parents, education groups, politicians and, of course, the unions whose ranks it swells. In many states it is even required by law, which has lead to millions of dollars in fines against schools in Florida and a lawsuit against New York City by its teachers union.

Yet small class size is neither a guarantor nor a prerequisite of educational excellence.

The worst public elementary school in Manhattan, 16 percent of whose students read at grade level, has an average class size of 21; PS 130, one of the city’s best, has an average class size of 30. Small class size is one factor in academic success. The question, then, is whether the educational benefits of class-size reduction justify the costs.

Some proponents contend that because research shows reducing class size is beneficial, spending on this should be prioritized over anything that is unsupported by research. That’s a neat rhetorical trick but unsound logic. The absence of research on, say, teacher salaries doesn’t prove that we should pay the minimum wage to teachers to dramatically reduce class size. Research should guide spending decisions only if it measures the benefits per dollar of spending on all alternatives.

Read the entire piece here.

Next Week at The Recovering Politician

Thanks for another incredible week at The Recovering Politician.  We are so grateful for all of your support, compliments, and good ideas.

We even appreciate your complaints.  And we are addressing them.

One of them comes from the RP’s household.  The RP, as you may know, is not the Speaker of his House, and he’s barely the minority leader:  Mrs. RP, the two RPettes, and even the RPcanine is female.

While the site’s introduced two superstar female contributing RP thus far — Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Lisa Borders — the site has had, let’s say, a testosteroneal (?) imbalance.

So next week, we are playing makeup.  Three — count ’em 3 — outstanding contributing recovering politicians, all with both X chromosomes fully in place.

Wednesday, we feature a former Democratic State Representative who took a shot for statewide office and was swept up in the GOP tide.  Friday, you’ll hear from a former Republican metropolitan city councilwoman, who left an outstanding career to join the private sector.

But first, on Monday, you will meet a highly-regarded former New York City councilwoman, who engaged in a highly publicized political battle over education reform, lost an election, but has now become a national leader in pursuing her reform passions from the private sector.  Her first piece may challenge some of your common conceptions of public education.

On RPTV Tuesday, I will interview one of the smartest policy minds in the Republican party: a prolific writer, a frequent television commentator, and one of the most respected expertsof either in Washington.  While you might disagree with his opinions (and I do on occasion), you will respect his views and how he approaches the issues.  Kind of the essence of what we are trying to accomplish here at The Recovering Politician.

And of course, a whole lot more.

I hope you enjoy a wonderful holiday weekend, both religious (Good Friday, Easter, Passover), and secular (Earth Day).  See you on Monday!

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Wealth

The Politics of Wealth

The Shanghai Car Show’s rise to prominence pits it against the NYC Car Show. Do you go to see the cars or the models? Be honest! [MSNBC]

Finances are dictating college and career choices according to latest polling data. [Businessweek]

Rising prices are beginning to hit home. [NBC Nightly News]

Don’t tell Junior. Boomers are keeping their kids in the dark about their wealth. [Forbes]

Trump-watch continues: Just how rich is he? As rich as he feels! [CNN Money]

Citigroup’s annual shareholder meeting: no longer a cage-match? You decide. [NY Times]

RPTV’s Friday Video Flashback: Jason Atkinson as Honest Abe (2007)

As we begin to celebrate a series of 150th anniversaries of the Civil War and its aftermath, we flash back just four years to a Presidents’ Day commemoration on the floor of the Oregon State Senate.

There, our very own Contributing RP Jason Atkinson does his best — and funniest — Abe Lincoln imitation, in a debate with a scary looking “George Washington.”

If you can suffer through the poor video quality, it is worth the punch line to Jason’s masterful oration. Enjoy:

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of The Planet

The Politics of the Planet

Once again, nature has a better solution than resorting to man-made chemicals. [NPR]

It is the one year anniversary of the BP Oil Spill. A reminder of what happened through pictures of the spill and the aftermath. [Yahoo News]

 Why cities are “greener” than you may think, and how our tax law discourages city living. [Freakanomics]

A healthful and environmentally friendly meal may be closer than you think. [NPR]

Jason Atkinson: Political Words of Wisdom from Homer (Simpson, that is)

Homer Simpson has three phrases that work in every political situation:

“Cover me.”

You’re right that is a good idea”; and

It was like that when I got here.”

Brilliant!  Gone are the quotes of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, and stage right steps America’s three-fingered yellow skinned, balding “herald to the masses,” keeper of pop-language.  Roll over Danny Webster.

Cover me!

A great phrase used liberally in the western United States in close association with “Hey, hold my beer; I want to try something.”  It is not as used too much today across party lines and is more used safely inside the bounds of a politician’s registration; however in days past, I would find rural and urban legislators from different parities “covering” each other just to insure the process keep moving.

“Cover me” can be viewed as a phrase over cards in the smoky back room, but I think cover me is more of loyalty in friendship over partisan. “Cover me” — used between politicians, mostly for the good.

You’re right, that is a good idea

This is perhaps the ultimate way to defuse hostility.  Since politics is the anvil and our words are the hammer, this Homerism works in nearly all situations.  I’ve been teaching my eight-year-old son how to be a conversationalist, which I believe begins with being a good listener.  While no one would claim Homer in the same breath as Mark Twain or Shelby Foote, the phrase does work if we first listen.

It was like that when I got here.

Lastly comes the great one.  The phrase used by politicos ranging from Obama to freshly elected city counselors.  The universal deflection in which a politician keeps their status, deflects criticism, and champions all reform: “It was like that when I got here.”  It worked as children standing in a messy room; it worked in junior high when the bunsen burner caught fire; it performed brilliantly on Saturday morning chores with younger siblings; and does it ever work in politics!  It’s pass-the-buck-plus.

After I thought about it a while, I can’t use it without laughing, blowing my already tissue-thin cover, but for our RP readers, lovers words, students of political survivors, listen for it in our public discourse and smile yourself.

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Wellness

Want to play doctor? The New York Times’ Wellness blog gives readers the chance to solve a real-life medical mystery. [New York Times]

IMS Health’s annual report on U.S. prescription spending reveals that in 2010, the top 10 most popular medications were generics for the first time. [Time Healthland]

Those tiresome pop-up ads for the acai berry will finally be off our computer screens, thanks to FTC intervention. [Huffington Post]

Feeling down? Blame it on the pollen… it could be linked to your seasonal allergies. [CNN]

Now get that mood back up with a funny YouTube video. This ticklish penguin at the Cincinnati Zoo is quickly becoming an Internet sensation: [YouTube]

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Love

The Politics of Love

The RP recently looked at changes in American attitudes towards interracial and intercultural marriages and asked, “Will the idea of gay marriage being illegal in most parts of the U.S. seem absolutely unbelievable in 50 years? Yes.” According to this poll, a majority of Americans think it’s unbelievable now. [CNN

In fact, one church in Louisville, Kentucky, has taken the matter into their own hands, refusing to sign heterosexual marriage licenses until “same-sex couples are afforded equal marriage rights.” As a Louisvillian and a neighbor of the Douglas Boulevard Christian Church, your correspondent says, “bravo.” [ThinkProgress

Gay marriage, of course, also means gay divorce. With another royal wedding coming up, the RP advises against anyone performing their nuptials at Westminster Abbey. The odds are clearly against you. [Robot Celeb

And in the end, love is real, real is love—no matter who you love and who loves you. Celebrate it. [Love]

Andrei Cherny: Individual Age Economics


Among the dozens of hats that he wears, Contributing RP Andrei Cherny edits Democracy: A Journal of Ideas.  His post this month reflects on his status as a recovering politician.  But even more, it makes a passionate case for progressive economics in an era that seems to be focused on selfish materialism and me-first politics

Here is an excerpt — the full link is below:

Candidates for office, it has been said, will show up for the opening of an envelope. This is especially true for those seeking an office like state treasurer. So it was that in early October of last year I found myself waiting for my turn to speak at the Yavapai County Tea Party forum. By then it was clear that as a Democrat campaigning statewide in Arizona in 2010, the effort I was engaged in could be reasonably called an “uphill climb” only if the hill in question was named Everest. Nevertheless, I was hopeful, though not blindly optimistic, that there was a path to victory—one that, at least partially, would run through convincing audiences like this one that, though a Democrat, I was the candidate who was more attuned to their concerns.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was one avenue that was closed off. Before it was time for my opponent and me to take the stage, I sat listening to the candidates for Congress debate. Like the audience at an old-time Saturday morning cliff-hanger, the crowd cheered the hero Republican and hissed at the villain Democrat. I turned to my campaign staffer and whispered through a tight smile, “Pull the car around when I get up there. We may have to make a run for it.”

It was the kind of gallows humor on which campaigns thrive, and despite receiving my own share of jeers while speaking, the people there were as friendly to me personally as they were completely uninterested in voting for me. But something bigger was at play that Saturday evening in Prescott than Tea Party politics and the ruminations of a doomed candidate for an obscure office.

Read the rest here.

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