By:  Pat Austin

It has not been a particularly good week to be Mary Landrieu.  Two statewide polls have found that the incumbent Senator is running behind challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.

Hickman Analytics has Cassidy up 46-42 while earlier this year Rasmussen conducted a poll and found Landrieu trailing Cassidy 44-40.

Rabid Democrat and NOLA contributor Robert Mann suggests in a column this week that Landrieu may lose her election, but it won’t be because of her Obamacare vote.  Obamacare, he brightly contends, “is working”!  In fact, he says, Democratic candidates should campaign full throttle on Obamacare!

 

Wonderful advice, I think:

Perhaps one lesson for Landrieu and other Democrats is that they must effectively and aggressively champion the health care law to the party’s base, not just meekly defend it

Absolutely excellent advice. I hope all the Democrats across the nation campaign on Obamacare.  Really, I think that would work out very well.

Voters in Louisiana are tired of Katrina Mary and her Obamacare kickback.  Louisiana Purchase Mary had a backroom deal in the Obamacare vote in which she was bought for $300 million in Medicaid funding and also got national Democratic support for her brother’s mayoral campaign.  Mitch Landrieu won his mayoral race in February with 64% of the vote.

Mary Landrieu has won three Senate elections in Louisiana; she’s been there since 1997, which is quite long enough, I think.  While she does have serious name recognition in Louisiana I think that this time that won’t work in her favor.  Rep. Cassidy is the first real serious challenger for Landrieu.  As Brian Hughes at the Washington Examiner points out, Landrieu has always had weak opponents and has still managed to barely squeak out wins.

After her Obamacare vote her poll numbers plummeted.  Despite Bob Mann’s head-in-the-sand perspective (“The very idea that Obamacare is unpopular is wrong,” he says!)  Louisiana voters in the majority dislike the monstrous bill and many of us recognized early on that it was doomed to failure because of its overreach into our lives and because of the lies around which is was sold (“You can keep your doctor!).  Really, who ever believed that one?

All that being said, Landrieu will not go without a fight.  She has taken out lots of ad time and will have much nationwide Democratic support (translate: dollars) behind her.  Rep. Cassidy will need financial support and a good turnout to defeat her.

But, I think it can be done.  It’s time for Landrieu to consider retirement.  I’m sure Obama will have a nice ambassador job for her somewhere.

 

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

Among the many topics covered during CPAC this year has been a good, hard look at Common Core.  Here, on this blog, Lady Liberty does an excellent job covering Common Core topics.  From my point of view, I’m glad to see CPAC and other conservative groups taking a hard look at the monstrosity that is Common Core.

My perspective is that of a classroom teacher; I teach high school English.  While I recognize that the stated intentions behind Common Core are good, I’m not sure I trust the stated intentions.  The oft quoted rationalization behind Common Core is that schools should be teaching the same basic standards across the country:  a kid in Alaska needs to know long-division at the same time a kid in Florida does.  Theoretically this will help kids who move from one school or state to another..

That being said, there’s a whole lot more to Common Core as we all know.  Michelle Malkin has done an excellent job in bringing much of this to light, as has the Heritage Foundation, among others.

My gripe with Common Core at this point is personal.  I resent that it takes all of the decision making out of the hands of the classroom teacher and the local school districts.  Case in point:  for years in tenth grade English I have taught To Kill a Mockingbird.  With the advent of Common Core, TKAM has been bumped down to the ninth grade reading list.  I’m told that “really it’s an eighth grade level book.”  It seems that the Lexile level of To Kill a Mockingbird just isn’t high enough (rigor!) for tenth grade.  Last summer we were given a new reading list from which to choose new novels.  For tenth grade the list is a selection of “world literature” which includes titles such as My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Hosseini, and The Life of Pi by Martell, among others.

Oh, there’s a few classics still there such as The Grapes of Wrath.and Twelve Angry Men.  But, if we’re going to talk about Lexile levels and complex, rigorous text, Twelve Angry Men is not exactly difficult reading.  When I brought up this point, it was suggested that it’s not just the text itself that must be rigorous, but “what you can bring in and do with it.”

Which brings me back to To Kill a Mockingbird.  Why can’t a teacher of any grade level for that matter bring in complex side readings to raise the rigor of any text?  Furthermore, what of the teacher who has a high school class with an average reading level of about fifth grade?  Not that we need to teach down to that, but how frustrated is a kid with a third grade reading level going to be trying to read The Grapes of Wrath or One Hundred Years of Solitude?

As another example, Julius Caesar is not on the reading lists anymore at all.  In tenth grade it’s been replaced with Macbeth (which previously had been grade 12) and the twelfth grade Shakespeare is now Hamlet (which kids will read again in college.)  I’m told this is non-negotiable.  I’m told that Macbeth is more rigorous than Caesar.  Did Shakespeare really sit down and decide to write Macbeth at a higher Lexile level than Caesar?  I’m dumbfounded.

There is an entire generation of kids that will now never know what the ides of March means.

The point of all this is simply that all of this decision making is no longer in the hands of the districts or the schools themselves, not to mention the teacher.  Among the many problems with Common Core, it treats kids as if they are all the same and function on the same level.  Many of the novels are new “touchy feeley” nonsense or are just downright inappropriate as we have seen.

Am I bitter because they’ve ripped my beloved To Kill a Mockingbird from my chalk covered fingers?  You bet I am.  I’ll continue to fight for the American classic until my dying breath.  And I will continue to fight for excellence and high standards in education as well.  But the bottom line in all of this is that the federal government should have no say in the matter.

 

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By Pat Austin

I’m missing Ronald Reagan today.

It seems inconceivable to me that we have fallen to such low regard in the world, with our weak, inept leaders, that Russia is once again spitting in our face and laughing behind our back.  It could not be more clear that Vladimir Putin thinks that President Obama is a schmuck who is so self-absorbed with his own celebrity and so far diminished as a leader that all pretense of peace and goodwill are now out the window. I dare say that Putin would not have taken the aggressive steps he is now taking if we had a strong, effective leader like Reagan at the helm.

A couple of weeks ago, Peggy Noonan wrote:

The world is watching. Part of the story in Ukraine is that the people are rebelling against their elites, which have cozied up to Russia for their own purposes. We won’t be seeing less of this kind of thing in the future but more. Don’t we want to be understood to be on the right side of that battle?

You can thank the Obama voters for this new aggressive Russia: the kumbaya-singing, hand-wringing, peaceniks who are so determined to make sure America is not seen as an occupier and a bully.  “Why should we care what happens in Russia?”, they think.  They can’t see the connection.  Certainly Obama can’t see any need to intervene; remember Iran in 2009?  Obama would not dare do anything (but blather in televised speeches on his way to a fundraiser) about Russia’s power grab in the Ukraine lest he be perceived as a war-monger.

Noonan, again:

I think our leaders are now so anxious about appearing to support entangling America in another conflict that they’ve become afraid to voice full-throated support for those who fight for principles completely in line with our own—the right of people to choose their own economic and governmental arrangements, and their right to resist any illegitimate limiting of their freedoms.

Certainly between John Kerry and Barack Obama, Putin must be quaking in his “fur-lined boots,” as Charles Krauthammer said this week.  While Obama pretends to be “gravely concerned” over Putin’s aggression, John Kerry is talking with George Stephanopoulos and declaring that “all options are on the table.”  Certainly Putin is not in the least concerned that these two clowns will fight over Crimea.

Obama and Putin have always had … let’s just say an edgy relationship.  Rather like two men playing a game of Rook while smoking cigars and sipping wine.  But Putin has never been deluded by Obama like many American voters have been.  Putin has always seen Obama for the weak, spineless pseudo-leader that he is; Obama has always wanted to be perceived as cerebral and intelligent:  smart power!  But right now, today, Putin is the one who appears stronger.  And Obama voters are getting exactly what they wished for.

Ronald Reagan once said, “Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.”

Ronald Reagan would weep if he could see this.

 

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.