The economics of school funding: We’re in trouble

George W. Bush (The Dumber) made this classic statement when he was running for president for his first term:

“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” —Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000

Grammarians laughed. But in the course of a year, he won a heavily contested presidential election (because people couldn’t count) and moved into the White House for the next eight years.

But the following is what has happened since the last year of his presidency:


I can answer his question.


Look at the numbers. Only fourteen states have increased funding for K-12 education. I’m guessing more than half of those increases were below the rate of inflation for that time period, so if I’m being generous, that means seven states have increased educational funding in inflation adjusted dollars. So, 43 states have cut funding (if there’s a zero percent increase, that means funding has been cut because of inflation).

We are going out of our way to raise a confederacy (and a union) of dunces.

Instead of making sure our children ARE learning, we get this Kafkaesque reality show where state officials and millionaire TV news people tell us that the reason state budgets are out of control is because public school teachers make so much money.

So what are teachers making? Let’s go to the National Center for Education Statistics.


The average salary for full-time public school teachers in 2010–11 was $56,069 in current dollars (i.e. dollars that are not adjusted for inflation). In constant (inflation-adjusted) dollars, the average salary was about 3 percent higher in 2010–11 than in 1990–91.

So obviously, since teachers make “SO MUCH MONEY” they must be at the high end of wage earners.

teacher salary

Uh. No.

We don’t pay to educate our children. We don’t pay our teachers to educate our children. We are not going to have smart adults as a result. We are in serious trouble.


Louisiana Republicans blame Obama for … Katrina

You can never overestimate where the level of stupidity of an uninformed population will take you:

According to a Public Policy Polling survey, 29 percent of Louisiana Republicans say President Obama is more to blame for the botched executive branch response to Hurricane Katrina while just 28 percent blamed George W. Bush. A plurality of 44 percent said they were unsure who was more responsible, even though Hurricane Katrina occurred over three years before Obama entered the presidency when he was still a freshman Senator.

Here’s the poll:


So, 73 percent of Louisiana Republicans don’t know that George Bush (the Dumber) was president when Hurricane Katrina wiped out their state but either “know or suspect” President Obama didn’t respond fast enough to the disaster.

This really isn’t a multiple choice question.

And as we dig deeper into the numbers, we see that 8 percent of Louisiana Republicans want Sen. Ted Cruz (R – O, Canada) as their presidential nominee, but the plurality is pushing for Kentucky’s Rand Paul to take the White House. Good luck with that.

It’s almost unfair to throw a trick question like “Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?” into a political poll, but, given the response here, it is essential for people to see the total disconnection from reality of the followers of one of the major political parties and understand whom they want to run the country after 2016.

Oops: Get ready for the sequel


Gub’ner Rick “Oops!” Perry announced today that he won’t seek a fourth term as the Texas chief executive in 2014. He’s held the post longer than any other governor of the state. That kind of suggests he’s getting ready to run for president in 2016.

I mean, he did so well the last time:

The war in Iraq: We were warned.

The Iraq War began 10 years ago amid overwhelming support among the chattering classes and a major portion of the American population. But let’s remember that some people were pointing out that the idea of even considering an attack on Iraq was a mistake:

TMW9-11-02color-copyThat’s from Tom Tomorrow on Sept. 11 2002, one year after the terrorist attacks on America (which didn’t involve anyone from Iraq) and six months before the war started (in Iraq).

The Iraq War began 10 years ago today

Ten years ago today, this happened:

U.S. President George W. Bush has announced that war against Iraq has begun.

In his address at 0315 GMT Thursday, Bush said:

– That every effort would be made to spare the lives of innocent civilians,- But the campaign will be “broad and concerted” and will use “decisive force.”- No outcome but victory will be accepted,- America’s freedom will be defended, and freedom will be brought to others.

The following is a full transcript of his address:

“My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.

On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein’s ability to wage war. These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign.

More than 35 countries are giving crucial support, from the use of naval and air bases, to help with intelligence and logistics, to the deployment of combat units. Every nation in this coalition has chosen to bear the duty and share the honor of serving in our common defense.

To all of the men and women of the United States armed forces now in the Middle East, the peace of a troubled world and the hopes of an oppressed people now depend on you.

That trust is well placed.

The enemies you confront will come to know your skill and bravery. The people you liberate will witness the honorable and decent spirit of the American military.

In this conflict, America faces an enemy who has no regard for conventions of war or rules of morality. Saddam Hussein has placed Iraqi troops and equipment in civilian areas, attempting to use innocent men, women and children as shields for his own military; a final atrocity against his people.

I want Americans and all the world to know that coalition forces will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm. A campaign on the harsh terrain of a nation as large as California could be longer and more difficult than some predict. And helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable and free country will require our sustained commitment.

We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people.

I know that the families of our military are praying that all those who serve will return safely and soon.”

And we all know how well that went.

The GOP’s wish … with a capital W

Wow! Mitt Romney was such a bad candidate that Republicans are now longing for the charisma of former president “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” (From the National Journal):

As Republicans reassess their future in the presidential wilderness, seeking a message and messenger to resonate with a new generation of voters, one unlikely name has popped up as a role model: former President George W. Bush.

Prominent Republicans eager to rebuild the party in the wake of the 2012 election are pointing to Bush’s successful campaigns for Hispanic votes, his efforts to pass immigration reform, and his mantra of “compassionate conservatism.” Bush won 35 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2000 and at least 40 percent in 2004, a high-water mark for a Republican presidential candidate. …

These signs of wear and tear to the Republican brand are prompting some of Bush’s critics to acknowledge his political foresight and ability to connect with a diverse swath of Americans, although the economic crash and unpopular wars on his watch make it unlikely he will ever be held up as a great president.

“Unlikely” is understating it. “Never” is the correct word.

But the whole idea of “compassionate conservatism” is an oxymoron to begin with. It’s just that the phrase was  enough to convince media hacks that you can go after programs like Social Security (which Bush did at the beginning of his second term) in a caring manner. “Compassionate Conservatives” told lies to put is in an unnecessary war when it should have focused our military on the real enemy in a cave in another country, gave billions of dollars to the super rich in tax cuts, turned a budget surplus into a huge deficit and alienated nearly every minority group in the nation.

Then it plunged us into a financial disaster.

Because it lost the last presidential elections, the GOP wants us to get the warm fuzzies by remembering the eight years of Bush the Dumber, the person the party totally pretended never existed during the campaign.

That’s why you call it the Stupid Party.


When the GOP talks about taxes …

Hey, what was that talk by Republicans on tax cutting and welfare and deficit spending and stuff like that all about anyway?

That quote from Lee Atwater, the political operative who helped Strom Thurmond, Ronald Reagan and George Bush (The Smarter) stay in office comes from Rick Perlstein at The Nation. In 2008, he wrote a book called Nixonland that traces the evolution of the GOP‘s Southern Strategy. If you think you’re a political junkie and haven’t read it, you’re not a political junkie.

Meanwhile if you need a fix, go here to hear the complete Atwater interview. It’s heroin for political junkies.