Bad Education

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

According to IMDB, this movie played a few film festivals in 2019, then was dumped right onto HBO in April of this year. Despite having a big star in the lead, Hugh Jackman. But they eventually made a DVD version, and it showed up at Netflix, so:

Hugh plays Frank Tassone, superintendent of the Roslyn public school system out on Long Island. As the movie opens, he's being feted for leading the high school to the #4 position on the Wall Street Journal's list of the best in the entire country! Woot! Especially happy about that are the local real estate folks, who note the effect on property values. (Ray Romano plays a real estate guy who's also on the school board.)

And as the movie opens, you kind of get it: Frank seems to know every single one of the students under his wing, and cares deeply about their plans and goals. And he even recognizes a student from long past when he's in a Las Vegas bar—that turns out to have an unexpected plot development, but never mind that now.

But little cracks start to appear in the perfect edifice. The district's business manager, played by Allison Janney, encourages a relative, another district employee, to put a Christmas-present Xbox on the district credit card. She also spends a few thou at Macy's. And a different relative hops from hardware store to hardware store, stocking up on home improvement items on the school district dime.

And eventually it all falls apart, despite the efforts of Tassone and the school board to keep a lid on the blossoming scandal. Thanks to a plucky student journalist!

Kudos to the filmmakers for tackling a sacred cow, the government school system. The miscreants are caught because they're greedy and sloppy. Any sentient being has to ask: what about the folks who aren't caught?

The end of the movie reveals a further outrage, by the way: even after the embezzlement revelation, Tassone received a $173,495.04/year pension. Even while he was in prison. This is New York, baby. And the biggest scandals are what's legal.


Last Modified 2020-11-28 5:36 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2020-11-08

[Ziegler Toon]
Our pic du jour is a favorite, and relevant New Yorker cartoon from the late, great, Jack Ziegler. Click to see a bigger version, or buy a print.

  • People are hailing Joe Biden's victory speech from yesterday. I thought it was garbage, but then I would, wouldn't I?

    But this stuck out:

    America has always been shaped by inflection points — by moments in time where we’ve made hard decisions about who we are and what we want to be.

    Lincoln in 1860 — coming to save the Union.

    FDR in 1932 — promising a beleaguered country a New Deal.

    JFK in 1960 — pledging a New Frontier.

    And 12 years ago — when Barack Obama made history — and told us, “Yes, we can.”

    We stand again at an inflection point.

    We have the opportunity to defeat despair and to build a nation of prosperity and purpose.

    You have to admire Biden's chutzpah there, implicitly putting himself into the that pantheon. We may quibble about the list, but I'm sure it focus-grouped well. What, no Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton? Certainly no Ronald Reagan!


  • David French is pretty put out with the conspiracy-mongers: The Presidential Election Was Legitimate. Conspiracies Are Not. After listing off a variety of deranged assertions from Bone Spurs, Bone Spurs Jr., Newt Gingrich, Mark Levin…

    How should we think of the state of play? Aside from the ordinary (and considerable) sting of a presidential loss, is there any objective reason for this extraordinary amount of hysteria? Is the election, in fact, being stolen?

    Let’s walk through some of the most viral claims of malfeasance and irregularity. As you’ll see, this newsletter will rely heavily on the extraordinary work of our Dispatch Fact Check team. Without further ado—and in question-and-answer form—let the debunking commence.

    David takes a sharp pin to the rumors and false allegations. Worth reading, unless you've already convinced yourself that Democrats successfully stole the Presidential election, but didn't also manage to steal elections for the House, Senate, governorships,…


  • But aren't the other guys also up to mischief? You bet, as described by Jordan Davidson at the Federalist: Democrats Compile List Of Names Targeting White House Staff, Trump Campaign, Judges, And Donors.

    Former staffers for Democrats Barack Obama and Pete Buttigieg are creating a list of people who staffed for, donated to, or even endorsed President Donald Trump and his administration.

    “The world should never forget those who, when faced with a decision, chose to put their money, their time, and their reputations behind separating children from their families, encouraging racism and anti-Semitism, and negligently causing the unnecessary loss of life and economic devastation from our country’s failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the site for the “Trump Accountability Project” reads.

    Hey, anyone else besides me remember when blacklists were supposed to be bad? You know, McCarthyite and all that?

    More importantly: will the MSM demand Biden to disavow the "Trump Accountability Project" with the vigor that they demanded Trump denounce Proud Boys, QAnon, etc.?

    No, I don't think so either.


  • Even though he's on his way out the door, and even though his replacement may be even worse, Reason looks at Peter Navarro’s No-Good Economic Nationalism.

    Peter Navarro is a loser. Literally.

    He has run for office five times and never won. He has never gained approval from the Senate to occupy an official cabinet post. He started a trade war that may not technically be lost yet, but it hasn't been a roaring success by any account.

    And yet, somehow, he's become one of the most powerful people on the planet.

    In a presidential administration that quickly jettisoned the few serious economists who signed on to help steer it away from catastrophe, Navarro has been the perfect fit. He's a tough-talking Democrat-turned-Republican who maintains a set of deeply held beliefs that influence his policy choices and who refuses to be compelled by expert opinion or facts. He has no governing experience and recognizes few of the practical or institutional limits on governmental behavior. In many ways, he is a magic mirror for President Donald Trump: He reflects Trump's ethos and ideas but adds enhancements and policy details that would likely otherwise elude the president.

    If you have the slightest regret about Trump going away, the article may cheer you up a tad.


  • [Amazon Link]
    Kyle Smith is rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers. Here he is in the New York Post, reviewing a new book: How CBS and CNN went from reporting the news to distorting it.

    When Sharyl Attkisson discusses media bias, she isn’t just sharpshooting from a distant perch. She’s a true insider, having worked at CNN in the early days, when it was all news instead of peacocking personalities and venting about politics. She went on to be a star correspondent and anchor for CBS News, from which she resigned in frustration six years ago. When she talks about what kinds of stories get on the air and why, she has specific, damning details. In her new book “Slanted: How the News Media Taught Us to Love Censorship and Hate Journalism” (Harper), out later this month, she brings the receipts.

    The book opens with a stunning array of examples of undisguised bias from her superiors and colleagues as she fought to get investigative stories on the air at CBS. Back in 1996, when media mogul Steve Forbes was running for president, the following assignment came down to her at the Washington bureau: “Do a story on why Steve Forbes’ flat tax won’t work.” Forbes was running for president on a revolutionary idea about simplifying federal income tax so that an entire family tax return would fit on the proverbial postcard. Attkisson wasn’t told, “Do a story on the pros and cons of this” or “Look into whether this would work.” She was handed a conclusion and told to pick whatever facts might lead to it.

    Ms. Attkisson's book will be out later this month, Amazon link at right.