Sunday, June 20, 2021

Biden, Trump and Putin - Where Are We Going?

WEST COAST        

Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD 

I watched the summit meeting with President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin with great interest this past week.

However, what I found most interesting, was an interview by Keir Simmons of NBC News with the Russian President.

From the full transcript of the interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin by Keir Simmons of NBC News, which took place in Moscow on June 11, 2021, here is the excerpt I found most interesting.

KEIR SIMMONS: — President Biden. This will not be the Helsinki summit. President Biden is — is not President Trump. You once described President Trump as a bright person, talented. How would you describe President Biden?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well even now, I believe that former US president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual talented individual, otherwise he would not have become US President. He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And, but he didn't come from the U.S. establishment.

He had not been part of big-time politics before, and some like it some don’t like it but that is a fact. President Biden, of course, is radically different from Trump because President Biden is a career man. He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics.

He has been doing it for a great deal of years and I have already said that and that is an obvious fact. Just think of the number of years he spent in the Senate, and how many years he was involved in the matters of international politics and disarmament, virtually at the expert level.

That's a different kind of person, and it is my great hope that yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any knee-jerk reactions on behalf of the sitting US president that we will be able to comply with certain rules of engagement, certain rules of communications and will be able to find points of contact and common points.

You can read the full interview here: Full transcript of the interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin by Keir Simmons of NBC News, which took place in Moscow on June 11, 2021. 

I had always thought that a big part of the Russian president’s general restraint during the Trump administration, had more to do with Donald Trump's unpredictability than it did with his statesmanship.

Reading the above transcript from the Simmons interview, Putin seems to validate this observation by drawing the distinct difference between the two US presidents regarding Trump's political experience and Biden's long-term political indoctrination.

During the Trump administration, Putin seemed unwilling to take major risks either militarily or economically, and I think the real reason may have been that he was deeply uncertain of how Trump might react.

On the other hand, President Biden, has a long track record of actions and reactions to both political and geopolitical events.

In the case of Trump, the possibility of a somewhat unpredictable but violent reaction to some course of action taken by Russia was much more likely than a similar course of action from now President Biden.

By his nature, Biden is a negotiator, a compromiser, and one who searches long and hard for options that involve negotiations and discussions and not overt actions.

I think this is the most revealing part of the most-recent interactions between President Biden and Russian President Putin.

Putin is much more likely to test Biden in the crucible of world events then he was with President Trump.

The question simply is, how will Biden react?

In today's world, if Russia decides to take some military aggression in anyone of the several world hotspots and Biden’s approach is to use the UN, asked to sit down and negotiate, or look for common ground; Russia will likely proceed with whatever action they may take for as long as they can string out the negotiations.

That's how Putin sees it, and I think that puts us all in grave danger.

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Friday, June 18, 2021

Butts In Seats Equal Big Bucks for The Hillsborough County School Board


Opinion by:   
E. Eugene Webb PhD 

The Hillsborough County School Board this past week focused on protecting their own turf, the overgrown, over bloated, poorly managed, school district that they are responsible for, when they denied charter applications from six new charter schools.

A charter school in Florida, operates by a funding source supplied from state and local public education taxes and funds. When a student decides to enroll in a charter school, all the funding from local and state education resources follows the student to the new charter school. Those funds previously went to the Hillsborough County School Board to pay for the cost of operating the Hillsborough County school system.

Here is a breakdown of Florida's public education funding:


Florida receives the third-largest amount of federal education funding. The state government funds education at a lower per-capita rate. Florida ranks 46th in spending and 44th in funding.

  Florida schools spend $9,346 per pupil for a total of $26.3 billion annually.
  That’s the equivalent of 2.6% of taxpayer income.
  Florida schools receive $3.3 billion or $1,191 per pupil, from the federal government.
  The state of Florida divides $11.8 billion, or $4,200 per pupil, among its public schools.
  Local funding totals $15 billion, or $5,324 per pupil.
  State and local funding is 2.7% of Florida’s taxpayer income.
  Florida’s federal education funding is the equivalent of 0.33% of the state’s taxpayer income.
  Funding for education in Florida totals $30.1 billion, or $10,715 per pupil.
  The difference between spending and funding is $3.9 billion, or $1,369 per pupil.

Source: U.S. Public Education Spending Statistics Last Updated: April 22, 2021 by Melanie Hanson

For some additional information on the Hillsborough school board decisions' check out this article from the: Tampa Bay Times by Marlene Sokol and Jeffrey S. Solochek: Hillsborough School Board surprises, saying no to six charters.

“It is so disheartening to see a school board so blatantly put dollars in front of students,” Valora Cole, chairwoman of the board that oversee SouthShore and Woodmont, said in a written statement. “It appears that they are trying to balance their budgets by denying parents the right to make a choice for their child’s education.”

Miss Cole, has it exactly right. This school board is so desperate to get enough money to keep it operating in its incredibly inefficient manner that they are willing to sacrifice anything and everything to retain those dollars that would go to support charter schools.

Hillsborough County was long known for their openness and acceptance of charter school programs, and it has been only recently as money has tightened up that their view of the charter school system has changed.

Over the last few years, the Hillsborough County School Board has time and time again been encouraged to and, in some cases, actually tried to rein in the budget which is over bloated with administration, and special programs, old schools, maintenance problems, and the list goes on.

They have been unable to achieve any significant restructuring of how educational services are delivered in Hillsborough County. This year they just barely avoided a receivership type take over from the state of Florida.

Putting charter schools on the chopping block is not a solution for the Hillsborough County school system. It's just simply throwing good money after poor education, poor management and poor judgment.

Up next, you are going to see a major push for a property tax increase to fund this outdated an unproductive educational system.

You can expect numerous legal challenges to the board's decision to reject these charter school petitions, significantly so, since many of these organizations have already committed hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more in preparing their application and facilities to meet the Hillsborough County School Board requirements for charter schools.

One can only hope, that the courts will recognize the inadequacy of the Hillsborough school district attempt to sustain itself by denying these charter school applications strictly for money and not for education.

It may be time for the Florida Department of education to take a look at one of  Florida's largest school districts, in fact, a state takeover is not a bad idea.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Getting the Ball rolling