Thursday, September 28, 2006

Falling in Line

"McReynolds, falling in line with most Republicans, continued to attack what he sees as unfair Wisconsin taxes that hamper job creation and burden residents."

This line was written by Paul Sloth, a new reporter for the Journal Times.

I wonder why it is necessary to add the words "falling in line with most Republicans." I think of soldiers and school children when I think of people who "fall in line." Both are taking orders from superiors. They are followers, not leaders. They don't think for themselves. If someone is "falling in line" on taxes, he probably is just following orders. He can't actually believe that low taxes would spur economic growth while helping residents. That would be silly. But he wants to get elected, so he must "fall in line" with the greedy Republicans.

I doubt that Paul Sloth meant any harm. I suspect he is just falling in line with his colleagues.

Liberal Education

If there is anything positive about the Journal Times Newspapers in Education series, it is that we can catch a glimpse of the not-so-subtle efforts to indoctrinate our children. Todays focus on "Women in Space", page 8, section B, is a case in point.

The propaganda piece started with the story of pioneering women astronauts who were not chosen for the first space missions. According to the testimony of one astronaut, women were not given the same opportunity as the male astronauts, and astronauts John Glenn reportedly "told Congress that NASA was simply following the country's "social order" of the time."

Local astronaut Laurel Clark "endured and overcame gender barriers" such as Navy rules which barred women from quarters aboard Naval submarines." She also was slighted when upon being "named to the STS-107 Space Shuttle mission, a NASA officer initially assumed that they were referring to her husband, Jonathon, who was also a Naval officer."

Now, please forgive my cynicism, but it appears that the educational message here is not so much to celebrate the accomplishments of these truly extraordinary women, but to advance a political cause. Children are being swayed to challenge our countries sexist male dominated "social order."

If the purpose of this article was to inspire children to become astronauts, the story would have been written quite differently. Instead of focussing on gender discrimination, the article might have told stories of sacrifice, detirmination, supportive families etc... No doubt these women gave up many a night of drunken revelry, instead hunched over a physics textbook until the early morning hours. But that story wasn't told.

The purpose of this article, and public education in general, is not to prepare students to become astronauts, but to prepare them to become liberal activists.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Extreme Equality

"If the educational system in America, and Racine Unified School District being no exception, spent the same amount of money per student on urban schools as they do in suburban schools, there could be significant improvement in academic achievement of youngsters attending urban schools. There are differences in financial support from their parents to augment what the district spends per student in the district. There will continue to be disparities in the academic achievement gap of some students until equal spending per child is fixed.This general degradation of urban schools and now segregation not inherent racial inequality remains one of the major obstacles of the American educational system." These are the words of Beverly Hicks, president of the Racine chapter of the NAACP, and they highlight the dangers of extreme egalitarianism.

Many people would not consider the quest for equality to carry with it any particular danger. But please note that Hick's is concerned that some parents will augment their child's public education with some of their own spending. And this is bad, in her view, and a degradation of urban schools, because it would increase the achievement gap between urban (read black) and suburban (read white) students. One can safely conclude that Hicks believes that if white parents did not augment their childrens education, things would be more equal, not a degradation, and therefore better. However, I suspect that student achievement among blacks will not improve if suddenly all white parents agreed to discontinue the augmenting. Thus equality is more important for Hicks than actual student achievement. And this mindset is particularly harmful to blacks, of course, because they are provided an excuse for failure by their supposed advocate. Instead of decrying the fact that some parents will make financial sacrifices in order to help their children become more successful, Hick's could better serve her black constituents by suggesting that they emulate the parents who are helping their own children.

I will try to highlight the dangers of extreme egalitarianism with a personal example. I have one son, whom I love dearly. I try my best to teach him the values that I think are important and I spend a lot of time with him. While I am certainly not a perfect parent, I can safely say that I am doing a better job than, say, an absentee father. Thus, if I am able to improve my fathering, I will of course widen the parenting gap between myself and the absentee father. And of course, my son will be increasingly better off than the child of the absentee father. Thus I will be contributing to a widening parenting gap, which would be unfair to the orphaned child. I could only decrease the parenting gap, and achieve greater equality, by becoming a worse father.

So starting today, I will begin to beat and neglect my child. I will do so in the name of equality.

Parking Politics

Loyal reader Wade has taken me to task for siding with some public school teachers in their dispute with Racine Alderman Kaplan. So I will explain my position in detail.

It now appears as though Kaplans request for two hour parking on his street was initiated prior to his being elected alderman. As such, Kaplan seemingly enjoyed the same right as anyone else to petition his government. So I am not accusing Kaplan of abusing his power.

My objection is more with Kaplan's attitude that he should have a greater claim on public street parking than other members of the public. Thus I find objectionable his efforts to get the school principal to implore her staff to leave street parking spaces for Mr. Kaplan. I trace my own attitude on the subject to my days in Chicago, when after a large snow storm, people who dug out their cars would save "their" parking spaces by placing old furniture etc... in the vacated space. This kind of action implied an ownership of public streets, coupled with a threat of some harm to anyone who removed the barriers.

The bottom line for me Wade is that I find it disagreeable when people behave as though they own, or have greater rights to, something which is public. By the way, I am still cool.

Monday, September 25, 2006

O'Donnellism at the Journal Times

It seems that Rosie O'Donnell is not the only voice out there intent on demonizing her political opponents. The Journal Times got into the act this morning with an editorial concerning a House of Representatives bill that would require voters to show a photo ID.

JT: For most of "us" the idea of having to show an ID in order to be able to vote is not a big deal.
We show IDs for all kinds of things every day and think little of it.
Of course most of "us" are white.

My take: The JT wasted no time getting to the heart of the matter. You are a racist if you think that photo IDs should be a voting requirement. Can the JT be more insulting to blacks? Does black mean retarded? Perhaps some condescending white people could step in and help the incompetent black people get a photo ID.

JT: Yes, they (Republicans) cloaked it in terms of fighting voter fraud.

My take: There is no way anyone could actually be concerned about voter fraud. Thus the Republicans are cloaking their actual goal, which is, of course, ensuring the misery of black people.

JT: Concern about voter fraud, according to state Rep. Pedro Colon, has been a red herring here in Wisconsin. Even an investigation led by a Republican U.S. attorney found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the wake of the 2004 presidential election. That probe turned up a handful of convicted felons who voted. They didn't know that they couldn't in most cases.

My take: This is the meat of the JT's argument. Note that it is largely irrelevant to the matter at hand. The bill that is being discussed is a federal bill, concerned with fraud throughout the U.S. Yet the JT wants to dismiss the federal bill because they claim that there has not been widespread fraud in Wisconsin.

JT: We urge the Senate to correct this shameful action.

My take: I urge the JT to present cogent, relevant arguments and to stop demonizing those with whom they disagree.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Liberal Leaps of Faith

I have been engaged in a debate with several bloggers on the Journal Times web site. The subject was Rosie O'Donnell's recent comments, wherin she declared that radical Christianity was as much of a threat as radical Islam. The debate revealed more about the religion of modern liberalism than it did about either Christianity or Islam. The following are some of the apparent beliefs of many of todays fringe liberals.

1) Liberals are never wrong, no matter what they say. O'Donnell therefore is correct. The threat of radical Christianity would result in, at worst, jail time for sodomy, no gay marriage, no abortions, and abstinence education, according to the O'Donnell defenders. Yet they could not bring themselves to admit that forced religious conversions, throat slashings, and suicide bombings are a greater threat than losing abortion privileges etc... One must abandon reason to always support the outrageous things that other liberals will say. Leap of faith #1.

2) The magic vagina. Womens rights should be protected, particularly the right to abortions. But the pre-born life has no rights. It has no right to live. This can only make sense if the pre-born child is not a life. Thus, it must be assumed that a glob of non-life, upon passage through the vagina, becomes a life, with all the associated rights, including the right to future abortions. Modern day liberals must believe in the magic, life giving vagina. Leap of faith #2.

3) Government should define marriage while also not defining marriage. One O'Donnell defender said "I do not think government should define whom we should marry." The same person believes that the government should recognize gay marriage. How is it possible to have laws pertaining to marriage, gay, straight or otherwise, without government defining what a marriage is and who may marry? But many liberals apparently believe that there should be gay marriage, while also believing that government should not define marriage. Leap of faith 3#.

The irony here is that many liberals see faith as dangerous, as it is inconsistent with reason. What many don't realize, however, is that they too are practicing an often illogical faith of their own.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Public School Religion

I was talking to a public school teacher the other day. I suspect that she was not aware of my willingness to criticize public education. Anyway, the teacher was very nice, as most teachers seem to be, and obviously committed to helping her students. Her caring and concern for her students was quite sincere. Anyway, I was troubled by our conversation because she was intoducing her students to faith based spiritual guidance. For example, she was giving her troubled students a skull bead whan they made a positive choice, and she had taken her class to visit with noted spiritual leader Deepak Chopra.

Now I would not object to children being introduced to religious or spiritual education or guidance, provided that their parents are made aware of the instruction, and are given alternative choices for their children. But this is not what is happening in our public schools. Can you imagine the uproar if a public school teacher gave rosaries to students or shared with them the power of prayer? All hell would break loose, if you will pardon the pun. But the teaching of religion is OK in public schools, so long as the religion is not Christianity, and so long as the religious instruction aligns with the liberalism taught in our schools.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mom, Radical Christian Terrorist

Are you worried about radical Christian terrorists? Ever since terrorism expert and talk show host Rosie O'Donnell proclaimed that radical Christian terrorists pose as much of a threat to us as Islamic terrorists, I have been worried sick.

First of all, I am wondering who they are. As there have been no Christian suicide bombings, beheadings, etc... I must assume that the carnage is yet to come. But where are these Christians and how can we stop them?

I wonder if she is referring to my mom. My mom is named Mary. Does it get any more Christian? She has been a true believer all of her life. She attends church, well, religiously. She is a real traditionalist. Until recently, she attended church services that were held in an Latin. Though college educated, she chose to stay at home and raise her kids. Though she is private about matters of faith as well as politics, I suspect that she votes for Republicans. Let's face it. She is a dangerous women.

I now suspect that her cell will strike in one of three areas. Her incessant walking is, I now suspect, is an effort to gather intelligence about the soft targets in her neighborhood. Her bridge club, as they call it, is simply a cheeky name for her radicalized cell. I believe that they are plotting the destruction of our infrastructure, such as our bridges. I also think she could poison our blood supply. She has been giving blood, and gaining the confidence of Red Cross volunteers, for over twenty years.

In these dangerous times, we must do whatever it takes to ensure our safety. Please help Rosie and I expose the threat of radical Christian terrorism, before it is too late.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Local Republican Limits Options for the Poor

I am not a member of the Republican Party, but it is my understanding that they tend to prefer free markets and personal responsibility. They would like to tackle poverty by lowering taxes and deregulating businesses. And they don't want a nanny state. Or at least that is what I thought.

Lately I have been perplexed and disappointed by the activities of Racine Alderman Greg Helding, a Republican. Helding has been leading the effort to limit the number of payday loan stores. In todays Journal Times, Helding has urged the city council to impose a ninety day moratorium on pawn shop openings. Though he doesn't think the city can ban pawn shops, he stated "I will certainly find out."

Helding justifies his actions by saying "I think though (a pawn shop) can be run in a way that provides a service to some folks... you can have people taken advantage of. The last thing you need when they are hurting for cash is to take advantage of them."

No, the last thing you need when you are hurting for cash is for a politician to limit your legal options. Helding is making it more difficult for poor people to borrow money, and now he is making it more difficult for them to sell their possessions for needed cash. With fewer legal options for obtaining money, crime will become a more attractive option.

Healines You Will Never Read at the Journal Times

I can't really blame the Journal Times for the front page story entitled "McReynolds dealings will be investigated." After all, an investigation into the business dealings of a state senate candidate is news. However, the JT has now run several articles concerning unsubstantiated claims against Bill McReynolds. I wonder if they will have five or so front page articles when McReynolds is cleared of the charges. The following are some suggested headlines.

1) Journal Times Duped by Partisan Hacks
2) McReynolds' Campaign Endures Irresponsible Journalism
3) Debatable: Is Journal Times a Newspaper or Political Organization?
4) Is John Lehman Responsible for Shameless Attacks?
5) JT Joins State Senate Race: Will Support Lehman, Attack McReynolds
6) Debatable: Is Truth Overrated?

I will gladly issue an apology to the Journal Times if McReynolds is found guilty of wrongdoing. Will the Journal Times apoligize to McReynolds if he is cleared of wrongdoing? Don't bet on it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Conflicts of Interest Among Public School Teachers

I have been thinking about conflicts of interest quite a bit lately. I would think that anyone involved in public service must confront this problem on a regular basis, as public servants, like all people, have private interests. And the public should be reasonably assured that their interests are not harmed by the private pursuits of public servants.

Public school teachers surely are faced with conflicts of interest difficulties. Like most people, they have private interests that include an interest in being paid well and being offered attractive benefits, among other things. In order to gain higher salaries and better benefits, school teachers need, above all, a political environment that will be aligned with their private interests. Or, to be more precise, they need voters that believe in a political educational system, wherin salaries etc... are detirmined by a political process. And conversely, a compensation system that is detirmined by results or customer satisfaction is considered very threatening.

So where is the conflict? Well, a teacher will stand to personally benefit, financially and otherwise, if students learn to share the political leanings of the majority of teachers and vote in a manner consistent with the private interests of teachers. Conversely, a teacher stands to lose money etc... if graduates do not share the political views of their teachers.

A great teacher will recognize this inherent conflict and work very hard to ensure that they do not manipulate or indoctrinate their students for their own personal benefit. But I suspect that most teachers are not even aware of the conflict. They simply believe that a political/governmental education is superior to any other education system. And I suspect this belief is passed on to unsuspecting students.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Meeting with Bill McReynolds

I met with Bill McReynolds today. My purpose was to seek information on the bumper (see previous posts) issue, so that I could make up my own mind as to whether McReynolds acted properly.

If I had my way, politicians would avoid doing business with the government. By my way of thinking, if a government official is engaged in private business transactions with government, one may well wonder whether the primary purpose of said transactions is to benefit the public or to benefit the politician. My purpose today was to detirmine whether his public obligations were compromised by his private pursuits.

I can find no evidence to suggest that the citizens of Racine County were shortchanged as a result of McReynold's business dealings with the county. I reach this conclusion based on the evidence which includes documents provided by Bill McReynolds as well as the conversation that I had with him.

McReynolds, as County Sheriff, became aware of a need for the push bumpers. The company that they had been purchasing from had recently gone out of business. McReynolds had a friend who he thought might be interested in producing the bumpers. McReynolds, his friend, and one other person (I didn't think that it is necessary to name them) formed a company that would produce the bumpers. McReynolds maintains that his involvement was limitted. He was 1/3 owner and he contributed $2000 for start up costs. McReynolds told me that he was involved in sales calls to the sheriffs departments of other counties, but that he did not make any effort to influence the decision at the Racine County Sheriffs Department. He acknowledges that the patrol captain who made the purchasing decision for the RCSD was aware of McReynolds involvement with the company. The company, Force Engineering, sold a small quantity of bumpers to RCSD and other Sheriffs departments. McReynolds stated that the bumpers were of good quality and that the prices were fair. The citizens of Racine County did not overpay for the bumpers.

Now I would be very interested to hear from anyone who is willing to challange Bill McReynolds' version of events. But at this point, there is nobody challenging his narrative. Instead, what we have are politically motivated people, and a local newspaper, also politically motivated, who would like very much for McReynolds to be guilty of wrongdoing. But unless and until they can provide actual evidence of wrongdoing, it is reasonable to conclude that they are merely engaged in election year maneuvering.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

McReynolds Update 2

I have been invited again to meet with Bill McReynolds, some time next week. My schedule has been cleared, and I look forward to our meeting.

It now seems apparent that McReynolds has not broken any laws, so I would not wish to dwell on that subject too much in our meeting. Rather, I am interested in learning how McReynolds approached an obvious conflict of interest situation when his private business sold bumpers to the public office that he presided over. Now I believe that being in a conflict of interest situation does not mean that one has acted improperly. Everyone involved in public service is potentially conflicted, as a persons private interests will not necessarily align with their public duties. I believe that it is important to understand how McReynolds has dealt with conflicts of interest situations.

Friday, September 08, 2006

McReynolds Update

In a recent entry I entitled "Bumpergate", I sent a letter to Bill McReynolds, seeking more information about the controversy surrounding his involvement in a company that sold push bumpers to the Racine County Sheriffs Department while he was the Sheriff. I promised to share his response with readers. I have not heard directly from McReynolds, but I have heard from his campaign director Jay Risch, via e-mail. Jay has been helpful providing some information, and he also suggested that McReynolds would gladly meet with me to discuss the matter. I accepted the invitation and indicated some times in which I would be available to meet with McReynolds at his preferred location. It was tentatively agreed that we would meet some time today, and that we should keep in touch. I have cleared my schedule and have kept in touch, but it is now Friday and I have not heard back from Risch or McReynolds. I know that their computer is functioning properly, as I have received a press release that boasts that McReynolds has worn through one pedometer already as he walks to meet with voters. I, too, would like to meet with McReynolds. He can rest his weary feet. I will meet where it is convenient for him. I will continue to pursue the meeting with McReynolds, and I will post on the results of the meeting.