I guess you guys are all waiting for a new entry, so we can start the day’s comment-thread conversation. I don’t have a lot to say at the moment, having spent the last 10 minutes watch the cardinals eat safflower seeds at the feeder. Last winter, they were timid, and would let the sparrows’ superior numbers push them away. Now, they fight back; a particular female has been eating casually for a few minutes now, making threat displays to any finch or sparrow who dares to land on the platform with her. Alan thinks they’ve learned; I think it has more to do with mating season, and the need to hoard scarce food resources.
And you might think: This is so boring I may die. Sorry. An erratic sleep cycle was further disrupted by the need to rise at oh-dark-forty and pack Kate off on a two-day class trip to Our Nation’s Capital ™. The bus pulled out at 5 a.m., bound for Detroit Metro and a 7 a.m. flight to Baltimore. This is an eighth-grade tradition at her middle school, although only about 50 kids are going. I have to assume cost is the reason; even in an affluent district, $700 for a whirlwind speed-tour of monuments might be a pinch to many pockets. We committed and made payments over several months; we don’t travel enough as a family, and like Sinclair Lewis, I believe travel is so broadening. For a kid, travel made apart from parents is even more so. I am reminded of Anthony Soprano Jr., returning from a similar trip, and reporting his most overwhelming impression: “They had PlayStation 2 right in the hotel room.”
Early on, I hoped to go as a chaperone, but it is a parent-free trip — only teachers. Anyway, I couldn’t keep up with the pace, and there doesn’t look to be a spare five minutes in the schedule to, say, meet with your many internet correspondents and have a drink. Although I would have happily scratched the Newseum visit for that.
So for now, I’m just happy they are going ahead of the shutdown.
Let’s jump to the bloggage. Disrupted sleep or no, I still have work to do.
I’ve mentioned here before that Michigan has a form of Vouchers Lite in its public schools. Not 100 percent school choice, but districts are able to vote themselves open to students who live outside their boundaries, and those kids bring their per-pupil state funding with them. (Our district isn’t one of them; if it were possible to put walls and moats around it, I’m sure the residents would happily build them.) One of the things this leads to is marketing by districts, who try to catch the favor of the invisible hand with radio and TV ads touting their advantages. And in one case, it’s looking as though it led to $400,000 disappearing down a rathole in an already desperately poor district that watched its enrollment fall by 50 percent over the time it was paying a company to attract students. Nice investigative work by the Freep there.
I was never a Glenn Beck viewer, so I always heard accounts of his lunacy thirdhand. Dana Milbank explains how utterly off the rails he’s gone in recent months, including two weeks ago…
…when he devoted his entire show to a conspiracy theory about various bankers, including the Rothschilds, to create the Federal Reserve. To make this case, Beck hosted the conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin, who has publicly argued that the anti-Semitic tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” “accurately describes much of what his happening in our world today.”
These guys were prevalent when I was doing talk radio in the early ’90s in crazy, right-wing Fort Wayne. Until I sat behind a microphone, I had never heard of this stuff. At the time, they struck me as antiques, like those Japanese sailors who crouched in Pacific island caves for years and hadn’t heard the war was over. Guess not.
Lance Mannion finds a new metaphor for Paul Ryan’s budgetary technique.
Off to work.