Coming Soon…to an iPod Near You! *UPDATE*

So, I’ve been neglecting the blog the past few weeks. The reason is that I’ve been pouring my energy in to creating a podcast called, “Middle School Art Teacher.” The name pretty well says it all. I toyed around with creative twists on my name but ended up deciding that the simple, descriptive title will do just fine.

I’m still working on finishing it up. Each episode will consist of lesson sharing, a funny, embarrassing or inspiring story from class, a problems/solutions segment and a blurb about news from the art world. I’m intending it as a “by an art teacher for art teachers” podcast, but some of you may be interested in it all the same.

You don’t need an iPod to subscribe to podcasts and I’ll make the MP3s available for download so if you’re interested, you can listen. Ok, have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

*UPDATE* Ok, the first episode is now online. I’m still working on getting it added to the iTunes Podcast Directory. But for now, you have two options: if you want to simply download it as an audio file and listen on your computer, right-click and save this file to your computer; to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, go to Advanced > Subscribe to Podcast and type this address in the dialog box that pops up – http://feeds.feedburner.com/MiddleSchoolArtTeacherPodcast

Click OK and that should allow you to download the first episode and you’ll automatically receive future episodes. I’m kind of shooting for once a week, we’ll see how that goes. The blog companion for the podcast is at MiddleSchoolArtTeacher.blogspot.com

Happy 100 posts!

Well, I had been planning on announcing our 100th post with the actual 100th post. But, Laura snuck that Nerd Day photo in there on me! Then I had to get one last Barbara Ann Radnofsky post in before Election Day. So, here we are on post #102 saying, “Yipee! One-hundred (and two) posts!”

Here’s to 100 more.

5 Reasons to Vote for Barbara Ann Radnofsky for U.S. Senate

Hopefully, over the last couple of months you’ve followed a link or two from our blog and learned a little something about Barbara Ann Radnofsky, the Houstonian running against Kay Bailey Hutchison for her seat in the U.S. Senate. Tuesday is Election Day and here are 5 reasons why you should vote for Barbara Ann Radnofsky.

1. Barbara Ann has a holistic and realistic approach to succeeding in Iraq. When the question of Iraq came up during the debate, Barbara Ann addressed the issue honestly and agrees with the latest National Intelligence Estimate that finds that our presence in Iraq is now actually destabilizing the country and contributing to the spread of terrorism. A present assessment of the war suggests that we should consider all options with regard to what we do next and Radnofsky’s opinion is that we need to set a timetable for withdrawal. When the question was posed to Hutchison, her response was that we should not “cut and run” because it would give a victory to the terrorists.

Report after report suggests that “staying the course” is no longer the proper approach but Hutchison seems content to leave the debate at, “to cut and run would make us appear weak.” I think that is a gross over-simplification and it disrespects the sacrifices of the men and women who are actually fighting this war. The decision to remain in Iraq or to withdraw should not be defended with sound bites but instead with thoughtful, reasoned arguments and Barbara Ann Radnofsky does just that.

2. Hutchison is disingenuous concerning Veterans Affairs. She uses images of herself with our troops in her commercials and employs the language of supporting our men and women in uniform in her speeches to tug at the heartstrings of Americans who are proud of our military. But, on Feb. 2, 2006, she voted against an amendment that would provide for the unbudgeted costs of health care for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. On Feb. 13, she struck down a motion to include veterans’ healthcare services funding in the Tax Relief Act. On Mar. 14, she voted against an amendment to increase veterans’ medical services funding by $1.5 billion in 2007. On Mar. 16, Hutchison voted against an amendment to make veterans’ health care funding assured and mandatory. She also voted against a bill to protect disabled veterans from means testing in bankruptcy. All of these things and more have led to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America giving Hutchison a Congressional rating of D+.

She will tell you that Veterans funding has increased in the past six years, but what she will not tell you is that the dollar-per-Veteran has decreased. She’s happy to use Veterans in her campaign ads, just don’t ask her to vote their interests.

3. Barbara Ann is serious about massive health care reform. The Medicare Prescription Drug Bill which Hutchison voted for will cost $750 billion dollars and it makes it illegal for the Federal Government to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. Radnofsky believes it should be scrapped and rewritten in a way that would benefit someone other than the pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists who pushed it through Congress. She believes we should expand preventive care programs (like VA and Medicare) which will actually save money. Since the year 2000, health care premiums have risen…wait for it…78%(!!!)…and it’s time for a drastic revision of the health care situation in our country. New blood in the Senate is a good place to start.

4. Barbara Ann promotes a national policy of energy independence. She understands that energy is not only an economic issue, but a national security issue; and not only is it a national security issue, but it’s an environmental issue. She promotes funding for research and development of renewable energies and favors fuel effiency standards and emissions standards for greenhouse gases. Global warming and the rate at which we consume non-renewable fuels are no longer issues that a couple hippies in Austin or Northern California are making buttons about. It is a potentially leathal problem that is the world’s concern. We should cast our vote for someone who is progressive on this issue and doesn’t have ties to the very companies whose interests are served by policies that guarantee our reliance on unstable regions of the world.

Hutchison voted in favor of $8.1 billion dollars worth of tax breaks for energy energy companies. This comes as no surprise when you realize that in the entire Congress, Senator Hutchison is the single biggest recipient of ExxonMobil contributions. Earlier this year, Hutchison advocated the importation of oil from Azerbaijan, one of the world’s most corrupt and undemocratic nations. Hutchison: “This small, former-Soviet satellite nation of just eight million people is working to strengthen its ties to the global community through participation in the EU’s Neighborhood Policy, collaboration with NATO and a move towards membership in the World Trade Organization.” It also happens that the top five U.S. subsidiaries in Azerbaijan are all directly involved in the extrusion of crude oil.

Days after Hutchison’s statement, the U.S. State Department along with other international agencies condemned Azerbaijan for dishonest balloting, election fraud and violence against its citizens’ peaceful assembly.

5. Radnofsky has a comprehensive plan to address the problem of immigration. She believes we need to address the economics that draw people northward to begin with and deal seriously with border security. About the borders, Radnofsky says that offense won’t work and that she absolutely opposes the fence that Hutchison has twice voted for (a $7 billion dollar, 600 mile fence along a 2,000 mile border). The fence places a disproportionate tax burden on Texans and there are more effective ways of curtailing illegal immigration anyway. Radnofsky is in favor of ensuring that federal, trained professionals patrol our borders; developing a workable system of workplace enforcement with federal funding, developing a registration system with incentives to give immigrants a reason to come out of the shadows. Of these three things, I personally believe a system of workplace enforcement (or, the virtual wall) to be the most reasonable thing people are proposing. So much of the blame is placed upon the illegal immigrants themselves, but no fingers are being pointed at the employers who give them jobs or the consumers who would complain when the price of produce doubled if we were to magically round up and ship out the millions of illegal immigrants currently working in the United States.

The bottom line is that solving the problem of immigration is going to cost a lot of money in one way or another and throwing $7 billion dollars at a band-aid is a poor place to begin.