Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cruising the Web

That BuzzFeed story looks even iffier. Now NBC is reporting that, contrary to the way the story was portrayed in a lot of other media outlets which reported that the intelligence chiefs laid out for him last Friday a dossier summarizing compromising information Russia had gathered on Trump, the intelligence briefers never told Trump about that dossier.
President-elect Donald Trump was not told about unverified reports that Russia has compromising information on him during last week's intelligence briefing, according to a senior intelligence official with knowledge of preparations for the briefing.

A summary of the unverified reports was prepared as background material for the briefing, but not discussed during the meeting, the official said. During Trump's press conference Wednesday morning, the president-elect said he was made aware of the information "outside that meeting."

....Two U.S. officials told NBC News that materials prepared for Trump in advance of last week's intelligence briefing included damaging allegations from the memorandum — unverified by American intelligence agencies — about his dealings with the Russians.

Officials prepared a two-page summary of the memo for Trump's briefing Friday at Trump Tower in New York. The summary was an "annex," or addendum, included in the "supporting documents" that accompanied the classified briefing report.

While multiple officials say the summary was included in the material prepared for the briefers, the senior official told NBC News that the briefing was oral and no actual documents were left with the Trump team in New York. During the briefing, the president-elect was not briefed on the contents of the summary .

"Intel and law enforcement officials agree that none of the investigations have found any conclusive or direct link between Trump and the Russian government period," the senior official said.

According to the senior official, the two-page summary about the unsubstantiated material made available to the briefers was to provide context, should they need it, to draw the distinction for Trump between analyzed intelligence and unvetted "disinformation."
Well. That's quite a bit different from what we'd been told on Tuesday. The whole hook for the story was that intelligence briefers had told him about the dossier and showed it to him. Now NBC is reporting that the summary of the material was gathered simply as an example "unvetted 'disinformation.'" If that is true (and this based on a leak just as the other story was based on a leak), then there is no justification for the original story and even less of a hook for BuzzFeed to publish the document.

But Donald Trump needs to stop with the analogies to Nazi Germany.
Trump later blamed intelligence agencies for allowing the dossier to leak, tweeting: "Are we living in Nazi Germany?"
Please. Stop that.

A reader points to this story of a Breitbart Fake News story in Germany and the consequences of that story.
It was every God-fearing Christian’s worst nightmare about Muslim refugees. “Revealed,” the Breitbart News headline screamed, “1,000-Man Mob Attack Police, Set Germany’s Oldest Church Alight on New Year’s Eve.”

The only problem: Police say that’s not what happened that night in the western city of ­Dortmund.

The Breitbart report has triggered a backlash in Germany, igniting fresh concerns over the manipulation of information and the societal cost of revenue-generating clickbait.

The report comes amid a rash of misleading rumors and social-media claims about refugees in the aftermath of the recent Berlin Christmas market attack, including one missive falsely linking a refugee who once took a selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to a holiday season assault on a homeless man.

As they did in the United States during the presidential campaign, fake and misleading reports are popping up across Europe, particularly as a string of countries including Germany are poised for major elections. Yet the Breitbart report on Germany, critics say, shows how the disseminators of such tidbits trade not only in pure fiction but also in skillfully sown innuendo steeped in ­exaggeration.

Well, it does seem that there was another foreign country that was clearly trying to interfere in the election.
Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.

A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia. But they were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails....

Politico’s investigation found evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.

Russia’s meddling has sparked outrage from the American body politic. The U.S. intelligence community undertook the rare move of publicizing its findings on the matter, and President Barack Obama took several steps to officially retaliate, while members of Congress continue pushing for more investigations into the hacking and a harder line against Russia, which was already viewed in Washington as America’s leading foreign adversary.

Ukraine, on the other hand, has traditionally enjoyed strong relations with U.S. administrations. Its officials worry that could change under Trump, whose team has privately expressed sentiments ranging from ambivalence to deep skepticism about Poroshenko’s regime, while sounding unusually friendly notes about Putin’s regime.

Gene Healy of Reason Writes on the real legacy of President Obama.
But his most lasting legacy will be one few—perhaps least of all Obama himself—expected. He will leave to his successor a presidency even more powerful and dangerous than the one he inherited from Bush. The new powers he's forged now pass on to celebreality billionaire Donald J. Trump, a man Obama considers "unfit to serve as president"—someone who can't be trusted with his own Twitter account, let alone the nuclear launch codes. Perhaps only those incorrigible "cynics" Obama regularly chides from the bully pulpit could have predicted this would come to pass.

In his long-shot bid for the 2008 Democratic nomination, then–Sen. Obama ran as as a forceful critic of executive unilateralism—one, unlike the other leading contenders, untainted by past support for the Iraq war.
Well, Obama's pre-president contempt for the imperial presidency and un-authorized wars soon disappeared once he was in office.
In the years to come, the U.S. military's "operational tempo" would grow steadily more frantic, as Obama surged troop levels to 100,000 in Afghanistan, launched two undeclared wars, deployed U.S. Special Forces to 85 countries around the globe, and tallied 10 times as many drone attacks as his predecessor. Over Labor Day weekend this year, while Americans stocked up on Bud Limes and burger rolls, their government launched nearly 70 airstrikes across six countries: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. As the end of Obama's tenure approached, The New York Times noted, he was poised to become "the first two-term president to have presided over a nation at war for every day of his presidency."

One fears he won't be the last. Having knocked flat the remaining legal restrictions on presidential warmaking, Obama has cleared the way for all the "dumb," "rash" wars future presidents might choose to wage.
He also points out how Obama continued his expansion of executive power in the domestic sphere.
"The biggest problems we're facing right now," Obama intoned on the campaign trail in 2008, involve the "president trying to bring more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all." By 2011, frustrated by inaction on the Hill, the Obama team formally and unabashedly announced that "We Can't Wait" any longer for Congress to pass laws.

The centerpiece of the "We Can't Wait" campaign was a 2012 "homeland security directive," "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (DACA), creating a path to lawful residency for over a million unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as minors. DACA's eligibility criteria closely tracked an immigration reform bill that Congress had rejected. A mere technicality, the president insisted; it's "the right thing to do for the American people."

That directive, together with a 2014 order expanding the program, represented a massive restructuring of U.S. immigration law, unilaterally granting lawful status and eligibility for federal benefits to nearly half of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. As Justice Anthony Kennedy put it during oral argument in United States v. Texas, a 2016 challenge to Obama's edicts: "It's as if the President is setting the policy and the Congress is executing it. That's just upside down."

The president's "royal dispensation" for millions of immigrants was hardly his most disturbing abuse of executive authority. Halting deportation in these cases was a humane and prudent policy, and it's no surprise that most liberals and many libertarians viewed it as "the right thing to do."

But as George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley observed in December 2015, that ignores the "obvious danger" of rule by decree: The policies one favors "may not carry over to the next president, [but] the powers will."
Obama just made up arguments for unilaterally expanding executive power and Democrats quietly acquiesced to such extra-constitutional powers.
Throughout his second term, Obama increasingly governed by executive fiat. "I've got a pen, and I've got a phone," he bragged, and he proceeded to use them to, among other things: pressure schools throughout the country to adopt national curriculum requirements Congress never authorized; promulgate new rules that nearly quadruple the number of workers eligible for overtime pay; force American power plants and, ultimately, electricity consumers to bear billions of dollars of costs in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, despite the fact that Congress has never voted to treat CO2 as a pollutant; issue regulatory "guidance" documents purporting to make the rules for nearly every school and workplace bathroom in the United States; and unilaterally amend the Affordable Care Act by ignoring clear statutory mandates and deadlines.

During his efforts to rewrite the Affordable Care Act on the fly, Obama even invented a presidential "power of the purse" and ordered the disbursement of billions of dollars in "cost-sharing" subsidies that Congress never appropriated. When IRS officials voiced doubt about the legality of those payments, they got the kind of strong-arm briefing David Addington, "Cheney's Cheney," specialized in during the Bush years. The dissenters were handed a secret memo rationalizing the move, told they "could not take notes or make copies," and informed that the attorney general had declared the expenditures legal. Whatever the source of that authority might be, Obama officials couldn't specifically identify it under questioning at a congressional hearing last July, though a top Treasury official volunteered: "If Congress doesn't want the money appropriated, they could pass a law that specifically says don't appropriate the money from that account."

More than any recent president, Obama has embraced and, to some extent, legitimized the anti-constitutional theory that congressional inaction is a legitimate source of presidential power. It's a theory future presidents will build upon. In the words of the University of North Carolina legal scholar William P. Marshall, "The genies of unilateral executive action are not easily returned to the bottle."
And now all these powers are left lying in the desk in the Oval Office waiting for Donald Trump to use. This is what happense when politicians act in such a short-sighted way to accomplish what they want without any thought to the objectionable precedents they have set.

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As David Harsanyi writes, Obama's farewell speech betrayed the President's vision of what government should do - continuously pass progressive legislation to expand the role of government. If it is not doing that, government is failing.
or the president, a “dysfunctional” Congress means a Congress unwilling to pass progressive legislation. That is not the definition of dysfunctional, I’m afraid. Nor is it the definition of extreme.

There is nothing in the Constitution instructing legislators to acquiesce to the president. In the near future, the GOP Congress will be passing tons of legislation, and I can assure you neither Obama, nor his many fans in the media, will be celebrating the fact that Congress is finally “getting stuff done” or “doing its job.” Progress will no longer be measured in the number of bills signed.

Nor should it be. After all, if voters were displeased with the way legislators treated Obama’s agenda, they had the ability to replace these obstinate lawmakers with more cooperative ones. They did not. That’s because gridlock was created by a party that fooled itself into believing it could rule unilaterally. Also, after Democrats passed their massive health-care reform law — and I’m certain there were other reasons, as well — Republicans kept expanding their majorities, and not only in Congress.

Americans voted for equilibrium in DC. Congress was working exactly as it was intended. And it has nothing to do with gerrymandering or voter suppression or fake news or any of the other excuses liberals keep concocting to explain their troubles.

Moreover, the idea that Congress is catering to some “rigid extreme” because elected officials oppose policies that were passed in 2010 might be the prevailing opinion on the Left, but it has no basis in reality. Republican positions, like them or not, are well within the boundaries of normal American attitudes.
Obama seems to think that "our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted" so he urged that we work to "rebuild our democratic institutions." Well, which institutions would that be?
Maybe Obama means we must rebuild our belief in separation of powers, because his administration displayed far more creativity in executive power than it ever did in attempting to build coalitions to pass legislation. Obama regularly ignored “norms” of governance, consistently losing cases before the Supreme Court, entering into international agreements without the Senate, creating immigration policy for millions without Congress, and using the administrative state to legislate environmental policies that couldn’t even pass when Democrats controlled both houses. Those abuses were not normal.
John Daniel Davidson continues on the same theme of Obama's delusions about his own presidency.
Indeed, his entire approach to governance belied a conceit that the major questions of policy had been settled. From health care to climate change to financial regulation, the question was not whether the federal government should take action, but what the details should look like. As Obama said Tuesday night, “We can argue about how best to achieve these goals, but we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves.”

Obama was uninterested in debate, still less in persuasion. If you didn’t agree, you were on the wrong side of history. In this, Obama helped shape the dominant ethos of the Democratic Party, which was also the basis of Clinton’s campaign: we are on the winning side. The “deplorables” who support Trump, who aren’t on board with the progressive agenda, are “irredeemable.” Why bother reaching out to them? Why compromise, when victory is certain?

Thus the shock of Trump’s victory. In his speech Tuesday night, Obama could not even conjure the grace to wish Trump success—something even Jimmy Carter managed to do. Carter pledged to support Ronald Reagan “to the very limits of conscience and conviction,” and wished him “success and Godspeed.” Obama could not do this, because success for Trump will mean dismantling everything Obama tried to build.

Marco Rubio was extremely tough on Rex Tillerson yesterday to try to get Tillerson to condemn Putin. And Tillerson came off as equivocating and dodging legitimate questions to judge his opinions of Putin. Allahpundit is astounded by Tillerson's seeming lack of preparation.
The most striking thing about this clip isn’t Rubio’s contempt for Tillerson, though, it’s how unprepared Tillerson seems to be for the line of questions despite the fact that there are no surprises. Rubio wants to know if he accepts the intelligence community’s judgment that Russia did the DNC and Podesta hackings; if he and Trump will keep sanctions on Russia in place; if he thinks Putin is a war criminal, specifically with respect to Russia’s carpet-bombing of Aleppo and Grozny; and if he believes Putin targets his political enemies for death. Tillerson could have answered yes to all of the questions about Putin’s nefariousness but hedged on sanctions by saying something like this: “Senator, you and I agree that America has an important role to play in the world in standing up for human rights, but I think we also agree that the U.S. government’s first duty is to advance the interests of American citizens. If we think we can best achieve that goal through dialogue with Russia, we’ll follow that strategy. And in doing so, we’ll be under no illusions about Putin’s bad intentions.” In other words, respond to Rubio’s idealistic neoconservatism with some somber America-First realpolitik. Instead all Tillerson can do is play dumb, insisting in most cases he needs more information to form a judgment, which comes off as obtuse and dishonest.
As Allahpundit points out, the Republicans have only a one-vote margin in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee so Rubio's vote is key. Rubio has to decide if he'll vote against Trump's nominee for Secretary of State or will he roll over after his tough questioning and Tillerson's rather inadequate responses.

National Review is also disappointed with Rex Tillerson's testimony.He wouldn't commit to extending sanctions against Russia or to even criticize Putin's having opponents killed or imprisoned. ExxonMobil's business with Iran was also under question and he couldn't defend it or condemn it.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee also pressed Tillerson on recent revelations that ExxonMobil conducted business with Iran from 2003 to 2005, while that country was under strict U.S. sanctions. (Tillerson was senior vice president from 2001 to 2004, then president and director from March 2004 until his promotion to chairman and CEO at the start of 2006.) Tillerson avoided staking out a position on whether it was acceptable for ExxonMobil to conduct business with a state sponsor of terror, instead emphasizing that the dealings were legal, since ExxonMobil worked through a European subsidiary, Infineum, which was not under sanctions restrictions. (Exxon owned a 50 percent share in Infineum at the time.)

Tillerson’s ties to Iran also raised questions about his lobbying activities. New Jersey senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat, challenged Tillerson on his claim that “to my knowledge, Exxon never directly lobbied against sanctions” against Iran. According to lobbying disclosure forms, ExxonMobil engaged in lobbying related to the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2009 and the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010. “What message are you now going to be able to send to American businesses who are intent on pursuing their own interests at the expense of U.S. policies and potential political stability in foreign countries,” asked Menendez. Exxon maintains that it “provided information of the impact of the sanctions, but did not lobby against the sanctions.”
I know that some prominent Republicans have endorsed this guy, but I still haven't seen why he would make a good Secretary of State.

This is a pretty powerful statement by José A. Cabranes, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit who also has a background as general counsel for Yale and has been a trustee at other universities. Cabranes is worried about the lack of student and professional freedoms on college campuses.
Recent attempts to shame professors for unpopular views and to curtail the due process rights of those accused of misconduct are cause for alarm. Especially when academic freedom is endangered at places such as Yale — long celebrated as a leader on freedom of expression — we know that the erosion of academic freedom has become a national problem....

Certainly, today’s critics of academic freedom rarely deny that professors should be able to write and teach freely. But they nonetheless insist that professors should exercise such liberty in the shadow of other values, such as civility, sex equality and social justice. While these are worthy ideals, they can become tools for suppressing free expression — just as anti-communism once was.

No one can doubt that we should strive for civility. But problems arise when we are told that “uncivil” speech has made a campus “unsafe” — and that university officials should make a campus safe again by punishing uncivil speakers.

To combat these threats to “safety,” campus administrators have morphed into civility police. On some campuses, “bias response teams” investigate professors’ online comments. Several universities, including Yale, may soon introduce a smartphone app that lets users anonymously report offensive remarks. These anonymous reports will allow university bureaucrats — and perhaps even the public — to compile a directory of “subversive” professors in the spirit of dictatorial regimes. One can easily imagine dueling “watchlists” compiled by liberal and conservative activists with the shared aim of chilling unwanted speech.
He also had strong words for colleges that are investigating accusations of sexual misconduct without providing the accused with regular due process.
Until recently, Yale insisted that accused professors enjoy basic due process, including the rights to a public, recorded hearing; to legal representation; to present evidence; to question opposing witnesses; and to a presumption of innocence unless convicted by “clear and convincing evidence.” Today, however, Yale and other universities routinely ignore or limit these rights, which the American Association of University Professors has described as essential in any fair proceeding. Yale now adjudicates sexual misconduct proceedings in secret. The standard of proof is reduced to “a preponderance of the evidence,” the lowest possible bar. And Yale made these changes without the formal consent or approval of its faculty.

Nobody can doubt that sexism, along with other forms of pernicious discrimination, can create problems on campuses. But universities can fight these evils without sacrificing the due process rights that have long guarded professors’ freedom to teach and write.
As he points out, universities such as Yale used to celebrate freedom of expression. Now...that is all endangered.

Ellen Carmichael discusses
the intolerance of the Left when it comes to Republicans as exemplified by the MTV News correspondent who tweeted about holding his granddaughter on his lap.
Of the entire assembled Sessions clan, one family member in particular stood out to MTV News correspondent Ira Madison III. This reporter found it troubling that the junior senator from Alabama was, in plain view, holding in his lap a toddler who appeared to be of Asian descent.

“Sessions, sir, kindly return this Asian baby to the Toys ‘R’ Us you stole her from,” Madison wrote in a now-deleted tweet.

When hundreds of users pointed out that “this Asian baby” was, in fact, Sessions’s granddaughter, Madison feigned previous knowledge of this fact, and fired off a series of tweets in efforts to justify his astonishingly offensive remarks about a little girl.
As I pointed out before, this was similar to MSNBC panelists making fun of Mitt Romney's African-American adopted grandson. And these aren't all that the Left seems to love to ridicule Republicans who are minorities. She provides the example of Bobby Jindal who is of Indian descent yet converted to Catholicism from his parents' Hindu beliefs as well as calling himself Bobby rather than his Indian name.
Both of these decisions, which were made in the first two decades of his life, took place before Jindal launched his political career. At this point in time, Jindal was weighing becoming a doctor, and while at Brown University, he received an admissions offer from Harvard School of Medicine.

But that didn’t stop liberals from ascribing sinister motivations to Jindal’s affirming his individuality as a kid. Every personal decision he’s ever made, they predictably claim, is meant to “whitewash” his Indian heritage in hopes of achieving political success.

In Louisiana, Democrat activists derisively refer to him by his legal name, “Piyush,” as an insinuation that he’s a sellout. Their smears went to print in a 2015 Washington Post story, where academics and commentators condemned Jindal’s assimilation into Louisiana culture as an abandonment of his Indian heritage.

“There’s not much Indian left in Bobby Jindal,” Pearson Cross, a political-science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, told writers Tyler Bridges and Annie Gowen.

This story, like so many others before it, paints Jindal’s conversion as necessary maneuvering to be successful in Republican politics. The accusation is incredibly insulting and, if true, would have required extraordinary foresight on the part of a teenager, including faking the exorcism of a college friend and writing about it in great detail in a 1994 feature in the New Oxford Review.

Jindal’s earnest self-realization appears to be a source of tremendous grief to his detractors, and since they don’t agree with his politics, they believe they’re entitled to malign him for it. It’s almost as though they forgot their rabid obsession with a local radio host calling then-senator Barack Obama by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, at a campaign rally in 2008.
We saw similar attacks on Clarence THomas, HErman Cain, Tim Scott, and Ben Carson.
After all, if you’re a Republican, the personal choices you make about how you live your life or what you believe aren’t really personal at all. According to the progressive intelligentsia, they’re a product of your moral failing to appreciate the cultural categories in which they have so generously arranged you.

Not all liberals are this way. They’re just in a party that tolerates opinions like these and exalts those who spew them. Unlike the Right, the Left will never expel one of its own for immorality or embarrassment. Being a Democrat means being a part of a team that, no matter the cost, always sticks together.

For far too many standard-bearers of their movement, disagreement with any conservative on policy need not be tempered by basic civility, since the Left is always entitled to be mad about whatever it is they’re mad about, and thus, the ends always justify the means.

Who cares if you excoriate a toddler not even old enough to read your tweet? Her grandfather’s a Republican senator, so she had it coming.

ABC's Terry Moran has enunciated what he believes the media's approach to covering Trump should be. Since Donald Trump has a history of tweeting out anonymous, questionable accusations, it's fine if they do it too. Did that excuse work for Terry when he was a kid? Yes, Trump's accusations about Obama's birth certificate based on what he called "an extremely credible source" was abominable. But does that mean that the media don't have to abide by any journalistic ethics when covering his presidency? Is Trump's level of reckless accusations the level they want to sink too? The idea that, somehow, the American public deserves to read the unverified accusations in the BuzzFeed dossier means that all the media should do is just throw whatever rumors they hear out onto the internet and let the chips fall where they may. If that's true, why do we need the media anymore? Why don't we all just go read Twitter and Facebook posts and leave it at that since the journalists have given up on any requirement to verify what they report?

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Education reform advocate, Frederick Hess, advises Betsy DeVos to use the time of her confirmation hearing as an opportunity to make the case for educational choice. Here is a bit of his proposed statement.
I am proud to be a school reformer who has long fought to expand parental choice. That’s not because there’s anything sacrosanct about school choice, but because choice is a powerful way to empower families, communities, and educators.

Choice alone is not “the answer.” It is only a start — a tool that can help crack open closed systems, free families from unresponsive schools, and allow educators to seek or create environments where they can do their best work. We want to encourage a proliferation of good choices that empower all kinds of children, families, and educators to find the best schools for themselves. At the same time, we must also remain mindful of how the burdens Washington imposes can stymie innovative local solutions to educational challenges.
In the rest of his proposed statement, he makes the argument that reform benefits educators, contrary to the reactionary approach to reform that teachers unions take.
Third, reform needs to empower educators as well as families. Educators are trapped in the same dysfunctional school bureaucracies as students. They are beleaguered by inconstant school-board governance and frustrated by paperwork. They experience first-hand the problems of ill-conceived accountability systems and federal efforts to micromanage school discipline. Teachers have every right to be concerned about out-of-touch politicos and capricious bureaucrats. I believe in empowering professionals and enabling them to choose schools and systems where they can thrive — even if that means building those schools from scratch. Charter schools and private schools are able to shake free from many of the heavy-handed, bureaucratic impediments imposed on public schools, while giving educators more chances to teach what they’re passionate about.
I've taught in regular public schools and in a charter school since 2002. Almost every week I've been struck by the contrast with the standard public schools. As a teacher, I feel so much more empowered for what I do in the classroom. Decisions are made by an administration whom I can talk to while passing in the hall. I don't have to write long memos and then wait months for a decision to come down from the county school administration. Teachers have a true voice in overall school decisions. Decisions can be made in the interest of the students instead of being bound by some regulation passed down from on high in a one-size-fits-all set of rules instead of looking at the individual situation for that student in this school.

I don't think that any one statement before a Senate committee will do much to change anyone's mind about school choice. But if DeVos were to make it a habit to be the voice for reform and get the message out over the next four years about the benefits to students, families, teachers, and society, it would be a true benefit.

Here is an example of the sorts of advantages of a small charter school has over a large public school district. Over the weekend, there was a mix of ice and snow in my area of North Carolina. Schools in the area shut down on Monday and Tuesday as they usually do when there is snow. The community just isn't prepared for driving in wintry weather. We don't have enough equipment and many drivers are pretty inexperienced driving in snow and ice. And we don't have snow tires or chains. So it makes sense to cancel school. I don't have any objection to that. The questions arise about when to return to school. The temperature was above freezing all Tuesday and just about all the ice on streets had melted or, at least, softened enough to drive on. Wake County Public Schools and other neighboring counties, however, was closed on Wednesday because a few schools in the northern part of the county were still not clear. Also, because schools start at 7:30 for secondary schools, the buses have t start before 5:00 a.m., authorities didn't want them out there to deal with the roads even if there were a delay. And there was also a big problem because many of the parking lots at schools hadn't been cleared.

In contrast, my small charter school was flexible enough to figure out a way to have school today. We have a private contract for clearing the parking lot so that isn't a concern. We don't have to depend on government equipment to get around to our school. Volunteer teachers came in early and shoveled the sidewalks. Then we started school three hours late at noon by which time the streets were all clear. All this is possible because of the flexibility of being one school that doesn't have to determine policies based on lots of other schools in the school district. I can understand the concerns of the public school district, but I'm so glad that I don't have to wait for school to open it up because a handful of schools in the district haven't gotten their parking lots cleared yet. I think that these are the sort of administrative advantages that people don't normally think of for charter schools but are a great relief when you're working or attending one.