Mourning In America

A New York Democrat on politics, journalism, and the Mets

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Thursday, September 04, 2003
"Vintage" Leadership "Gov." George Pataki acted boldly this week, creating a new commission to study the equity of the state's school-funding system.

Too bad the time for this was 1995, if not earlier.

That's when the Campaign for Fiscal Equity first got the right to file a lawsuit charging the state with violating its own Constitution by failing to guarantee that "all children have the opportunity to obtain a sound basic education."

Instead, Pataki fought the lawsuit tooth and nail, even hailing an appeals court's ruling that the Constitutional language meant to define a "sound basic education" as learning up to the 8th-grade level. Luckily for New York City students, the state's highest court overturned that ruling and ordered the state to do better by next July.

Maybe Pataki has finally seen the light, but early signs are not promising. When are they ever in Albany? Mayor Michael Bloomberg has shown more concern about -- and aptitude for improving -- the state of the city's schools than any other politician in recent memory. For his trouble, Pataki neglected to even inform him the commission was coming.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003
Headline of the Week! Comes from another blog. The Minute Man penned this in response to Barney Bush's unfortunate tumble from the President's arms over the weekend:
No, No, No! It's WAG the Dog

Monday, September 01, 2003
Why Does Violence Persist in a Democracy? Good article in yesterday's NY Times Week in Review section about India, where a fairly vibrant Democratic process has not eliminated politically-motivated violence, most recently in Bombay, where bombs killed 45 last week.

Many of the points raised in the piece are fairly unique to India, like the allegation that Pakistan has financed and armed violent groups in an effort to destabilize its neighbor. But one point is more universal to human nature:

Violence can also deliver electoral dividends. Indians have used their roles in insurgencies to build political profiles. Communal and caste violence has often helped solidify constituencies, most recently in Gujarat, where the chief minister called and won early elections in what many saw as an attempt to capitalize on Hindu-Muslim riots. "The shortest route to democratic power is a rejection of democracy," Dr. Sahni argues.

It's an observation worth remembering during the President's daily citations of "9/11" as the driving force behind his policies, from War in Iraq to oil drilling in the Arctic. You don't have to instigate violence to profit from it.