They make handsome salaries, make important-sounding speeches, and often make their Boards dance to their tune, but NPR reports that a new study says school superintendents have virtually no impact where it matters.
“We just don’t see a whole lot of difference in student achievement that correlates with who the superintendent happens to be,” says Matthew Chingos, a senior fellow at the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution. He’s a co-author of what’s likely the first broad study to examine the link between superintendents and student achievement.
Chingos and his co-authors, Grover Whitehurst and Katharine Lindquist, analyzed student test score data from Florida and North Carolina over a 10-year period. His conclusion: Hiring a new superintendent made almost no difference in student success.
Chingos explains the findings this way: “What percentage of differences in student achievement is explained by superintendents? It’s very small, about 0.3 percent.”
Whether you hire a new one, or pay bonuses to keep the one you have, it won’t really matter to the bottom line.
In football, coaches cash in, but not for long if they can’t win.
But in this sport, where the average Superintendent makes $195,000 fully rolled up with bennies, there’s not only a lack of consequences for paltry student performance, there’s no explicit connection between the two.
O, sure, every superintendent talks about student achievement, but few would be willing to link their contract to it.
One exception is New Jersey, where in 2011, as part of a salary cap law, the state started paying Superintendents CEO bonuses – up to 15% of salary — based on metrics determined by the local school board. Of course, that happened thanks to Gov. Chris Christie. The unions fought him all the way and the accusations fly that districts play fast and loose with the benchmarks.
Having worked a few years in the admin building of a public school district, and read a number of books on education reform at that time, I can tell you that few people “in the industry” actually know how to increase student performance.
I worked in the PR department, and sometimes we’d get a call from a parent thinking of moving into our district. They always asked about our state ratings, clearly concerned about their children’s future. Sometimes I wanted to ask “how much money do you make?” Because the only thing that seemed clear from our in-district stats was that schools in better neighborhoods, with higher incomes, registered higher average standardized test scores.
Of course, this new study will have little impact on contract negotiations, thanks to the magical thinking of school boards, which always see their district as an exception to the rule.
Louisiana not only holds to a traditional, heterosexual, definition of marriage (the technical term for that is “marriage”), but it also does not recognize homosexual pairings performed in other states which have redefined marriage.
The ruling breaks a streak of 27 court decisions striking down traditional marriage laws passed by legislatures.
Of course, the wrath of the Left is about to fall on Judge Martin Feldman, a Reagan appointee, and on anyone who sides with him.
But for the moment, at least, vive la différence!
Because this experience is so rare, not only did I visit TellTheBell.com to answer their customer-service survey — something I never do — but I just came in from the mailbox (yes, the snail-mail box) where I placed this letter, and put up the red flag for the postman. I share it with you now, as I would a visit to a fine museum, an inspiring concert, or a thrilling spectator sport.
Taco Bell 022872, 11829 Abrams Rd., Dallas, TX 75243
To the Manager,
I had such an experience at your restaurant drive-through yesterday, I had to take a moment to let you know. Over the years, I have worked in customer service, in restaurants, in sales and in customer-service training. My family frequently visits Taco Bell and other fast-food places.
But yesterday was far and away the finest drive-through experience I have had…even better than Chik-fil-A, which was the previous standard-bearer.
Laquiata H. (as her name appears on my receipt), greeted me through the speaker with a clear and cheerful voice. She immediately let me know that she was ready to serve when I was ready to order, no hurry. This little touch I found immediately endearing and comforting. Drive-throughs always feel rushed, menus are complicated and, if you don’t have perfect vision, difficult to read. (BTW, the small type on yours meant that we had to read the choices aloud to my wife in the passenger seat, inevitably fouling your speed stats.)
Laquiata was an island of peace and happiness in a hectic day. When we got to the window, she greeted us with a smile. When she handed us our food, she repeated the order clearly to eliminate errors. That little gesture made me feel like she really cared about us, and wanted us to have a terrific experience.
I don’t know if you realize how extraordinary this is in your industry. I have come to loathe drive-throughs, with their squawk boxes, fast-talking, inarticulate automatons, and frequent errors. Most folks in this line of work seem more concerned with getting rid of you, than with serving you.
Please convey my gratitude to Laquiata, and the support team that made it possible for her to be the voice and face of joyful welcome.
She singled-handedly turned a commodity into a work of art.
One of the things that makes America great is folks like Laquiata, who bring this attitude to work each day.
Capitalism, after all, isn’t about prices, and markets, and margins, and finance.
It’s about people, and beauty, and emotion, and excellence, and human need, and joy, and love and liberty.
All of that other stuff is just mechanism.
This is heart.
This is real.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner…the titular leader of Republicans on Capitol Hill…the man who in negotiations must stare steely-eyed across the table at the reptilian-blooded House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and at the Commander in Chief, his chill-ness, President Barack Obama…this man…this force of nature has released a video likening himself unto a wind-up clanging toy monkey.
I have now watched the video — dubbed “The Monkey in the Room” — several times, pondering after its perplexing purpose — searching for the deeper meaning that might escape my public-school-molded mind. It’s presented as an official video the Speaker of the House, with “Speaker.gov” prominently displayed. Therefore, “we, the People” picked up the tab for the staff time required to film, edit and post it.
Perhaps Rep. Boehner released “The Monkey in the Room” in order to bond emotionally with people who think the House Speaker should be an affable sot, frittering away his days as the remote-controlled automaton of his sophomoric staff.
The most humanizing take might be that John Boehner and his staff have inside jokes, just like the folks in the cubes at your office.
But just like those jokes, they rarely play elsewhere.
The title of the video provides an extra measure of absurdity, apparently combining the clichés “elephant in the room” with “get this monkey off of my back” to spawn “The Monkey in the Room.”
After enduring his video and his tenure as Speaker, I’d suggest a better title: “Get This Elephant Off Of My Back.”
More and more I’m convinced that America right now isn’t a country dealing with a mere dip in its mood and might. It’s a country surrendering to a new identity and era, in which optimism is quaint and the frontier anything but endless.
— Frank Bruni, NY Times, Lost in America, 8/27/2014
Drawing on a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Times columnist Frank Bruni paints a picture of a nation on the down slope, with no end in sight. He notes that 60 percent of those polled feel America is “in decline.”
But if you dig into the data you find that, while the depressing number has indeed climbed to 60 from 54 percent in January 2011, in five of the last eight times the pollsters asked this question (going back to October ’91) the readout was higher than 60, peaking at 69 percent in June 2008.
So, you might say, cheer up, Frank Bruni, it could be worse.
However, the next question in the survey brings a chilling context to that 60-percent figure. The question: “Do you feel confident that life for our children’s generation will be better than it has been for us?”
Only 21 percent said they do. Back in the dog days of decline in summer 2008, that number was 31. During a declension nearly as severe, in 1991-92, around 41 percent still felt confident their kids would have a better life.
We Are Dissatisfied
Americans have always been a dissatisfied lot — we wouldn’t have come here if we were not. But we’ve always coupled that dissatisfaction with a belief in a better tomorrow. We’ve backed that belief with a determination to make it so, and a bone-deep conviction that we lived in a land where anything is possible. We’re all about “the pursuit of happiness.”
This is what seems to have slipped…or rather, to have been tripped.
You see, it’s not that a Jimmy Carter-esque malaise has fallen across the fruited plain, but rather that malaise has been spread like mayonnaise across the amber waves of grain by people who seem determined to share the gloom of their own existential angst with the rest of us.
I, for one, will have none of it.
America still offers the greatest franchise opportunity on earth, available with no money down, to anyone willing to invest his sweat equity. In fact, that opportunity now exceeds the wildest dreams of our Fathers, as the internet has dried up the ocean and we can cross it barefoot in a moment. Global markets lay beneath our feet like Russell H. Conwell’s proverbial “Acres of Diamonds.”
That doesn’t mean careful plans can’t collapse in the face of unforeseen obstacles. They quite likely will, and perhaps should, since passionate dreamers tend to lose touch with marketplace reality and must run headlong into an obsidian wall from time to time, to jar us into exploring other options.
This opportunity also doesn’t excuse us from competition, both legitimate and nefarious. Some of your opponents will see your presence as healthy inspiration for their own innovations. Others will work tirelessly and deceitfully to ensure that you’re bankrupted and living under a bridge in a cardboard box. But the alternative to the exhilarating roller coaster of competition is the mundane merry-go-round of corporate wage-slavery, or government-subsidized bondage. The merry-go-round thrills only those who have never ventured beyond the painted pony.
On August 18, 2014, San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman showed in just five minutes that he communicates basic principles more effectively than any Republican presidential candidate in recent memory.
His brief, unscripted remarks came in support of the mayor’s veto of a Democrat effort to force city businesses to increase their minimum wage to $11.50 per hour.
Sherman, perhaps the only member of council who has “signed the front of a paycheck,” found himself in a two-person minority on the veto-override vote, against six Democrats.
Watch the video below, and then help me to understand why this eminently reasonable position fails to persuade Democrats who say they care about jobs.
Janice Hickok’s Mom knew she that was different from other children as early as kindergarten.
“She kind of kept to herself,” Belinda Fenwell-Hickok says. “She could be affectionate when she felt like it, but even then, when I’d lean over to give her a hug, she’d turn her shoulder and just, sort of, rub it against my leg and start to walk away.”
The awkward behaviors multiplied, but Belinda says she was in denial…for years. She ignored the advice of friends, and eventually refused to return emails and text messages from the school guidance counselor.
Then came the virtually-inevitable moment.
“I walked into her bedroom one day,” Belinda said, “and Janice had something hanging out of her mouth.”
Even now, the memories cause her to well up with emotion — nine years later.
“I just screamed, ‘Janice, no! Spit him out. Spit him out!’ But it was too late,” she said. “Our pet hamster, Marvin, twitched a bit and just stopped moving. Janice let him drop to the carpet, and just strolled away like nothing had happened.”
Now in her mid-40′s, Belinda’s careworn face makes her look 20 years older.
“Back in the 1990s,” she explained, “nobody was talking about species dysphoria. How was I supposed to know she was a cat, trapped in the body of a girl.”
Janice refused to speak to a reporter about her condition, although she has “come out” to most of her friends and family.
Experts believe that as many as one-in-317 humans, and nearly all domesticated cats and dogs, may have some degree of species dysphoria. As with many rare conditions, it was education that helped her Dad come to terms with who Janice is.
Chad Hickok has lived alone, visiting his daughter one weekend per month at a local kennel since his 10-year marriage to Belinda collapsed — torn apart by the stress of what’s clinically known as second-hand species dysphoria.
“The toll it takes on the family can be greater than the impact on the species-dysphoric individual,” according to Jason Stenderweil, visiting professor of Species Identity at U.C. Berkeley. Dr. Stenderweil pioneered species-transition procedures, at a time when most academics and surgeons still classified the medical condition as a “mental illness or some kind of freakish hobby.”
According to Janice’s Mom, the ability to simply “be who she is” among her friends, co-workers and neighborhood cats, brings some measure of relief from the stress of their fight with the government.
For the past three years, Janice and her family have devoted thousands of hours to a fruitless effort to get Medicaid to cover the procedures she so desperately needs “to be whole.” But no government-run health care program will pay for any of it — from the physician-monitored dietary, fur-implant and quadrupedal-locomotion regimens, to the ultimate species re-assignment surgery and veterinary care. Surgery alone can cost upwards of $230,000, followed by tens of thousands of dollars in monthly maintenance therapy.
The family even lobbied their Congressman, who finally introduced a bill last month to amend Obamacare, requiring that employer-provided health insurance include diagnosis and the full range of treatments to allow species-dysphorics to live normal animal lives. The bill awaits consideration by the Appropriations Committee and the Agriculture Committee.
A White House spokesman said President Obama’s position on government-funded species-dysphoria treatment is “currently evolving,” but “whether someone who appears human might actually be a rabbit, or a tiger or a Galapagos tortoise is a question above the president’s pay grade.”
Meanwhile, Belinda is nearly at the end of her rope.
“I don’t need someone to ‘fix’ Janice, forgive the expression,” she said. “I need the federal and state governments to acknowledge that she has the same rights as any other American resident, to live out her brief lifespan as authentically as she can. And that takes money that we just don’t have.”
Mitt Romney, once again, proves himself unfit to be a candidate for president of the United States. That’s not to say he wouldn’t be a good president. We’ll never know.
Barack Obama, on the other hand (the left hand), has shown himself to be an excellent candidate, but a disastrous president.
With apologies to DC Comics, Romney is BizarrObama. Perhaps it’s more faithful to the Bizarro World storyline to say that Obama is BizarrOmney.
On the surface, Romney’s poll numbers climb with each step of Obama’s descending popularity. Where Romney demonstrates towering competence, Obama’s executive effectiveness inhabits the abyss–he’s abysmal. Romney sees the Russian threat clearly, and stands against it. Obama sends Putin a shiny red “Reset” button which, when pressed, reboots Soviet territorial ambitions.
But it goes deeper than that. Romney inhabits a spherical planet on the opposite side of the sun from Obama’s cube, leading him to say things like this…
I was not a big fan of the president’s policies, as you know, either domestically or internationally, but the results of his mistakes and errors, in my opinion, have been more severe than even I would have predicted.
The headline quote making the rounds is that Romney, at a West Virginia rally for GOP congressional candidates, said Obama is “a good deal worse than I ever expected.”
This can be explained only by positing the existence of Bizarro World, where everything is a flipped version of life on Earth. Otherwise, we’re left with the inexplicable scenario of a Romney who understands the darkness in the heart of Vlad the Impaler, but finds Barack Obama’s motives inscrutable.
She spoke in a soft voice, this stout black woman in the next chair.
Mother of 11, she had agreed to be interviewed for a fundraising video that I was asked to help produce, years ago, for a crisis pregnancy center. She told me she had undergone six abortions and also gave birth to five children alive–thus the total of 11. Government social workers in Philadelphia had directed her to a town in Central Pennsylvania, because, they said, it was easier to get assistance there. Social workers in that town had passed her on to my town.
I asked her if she was alone among her Philly friends in having multiple abortions.
“No,” she said, there were others.
I asked if she and her friends ever talked about the abortions. She said they did. I was trying hard to let her tell the story, and to avoid reacting, or imposing my own views on the conversation. (I’m paraphrasing here from a memory that may never leave me.)
“When you talked, what kind of things did you talk about?” I asked her.
Her face was placid, her voice, matter of fact.
“O, well, like if he was ugly,” she said.
“What do you mean?” I thought I knew, but I wanted her to say it. She said she meant what I thought she meant. They talked about whether the father of the baby was ugly. In case I was as dense as I seemed to be, she added that nobody wants to have an ugly guy’s baby.
“What else did you talk about?”
“Like, where am I gonna get the money?” At that time, she said, they needed about $200 for an abortion.
I was really fishing here, but I couldn’t get her to say what I thought was the obvious topic when it comes to abortion. I finally asked.
“Did you ever talk about whether it was right or wrong, or anything like that?”
She squinted at me like I had asked her to solve a quadratic equation, or had suddenly begun babbling in Urdu. The question made no sense to her.
“No,” she said, and I imagined she wanted to add, “How would that ever come up?”
That conversation came back to me recently when I read an op-ed in the Washington Post, headlined “Stop Calling Abortion a Difficult Decision.” The author, Janet Harris, is the former communications director for Emily’s List, a PAC that supports female pro-abortion Democratic candidates for office. No, I didn’t mean to write “pro-choice,” because it’s clear from this article that Janet Harris views abortion-on-demand as a positive, healthy alternative to a life ruined by an unwanted child. In fact, she’s trying to help her friends in the movement get away from the term “pro-choice” with its awkward moral dimension.
I’ve cobbled together a video of some of the top moments from speakers at this month’s RedState Gathering, in Ft. Worth, Texas, where more than 400 politically-engaged conservatives rallied to hear what they believe, spoken with passion, power and practical application.
Speakers featured in this 15-minute RedState highlight reel include…Texas Gov. Rick Perry, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (GOP candidate for governor), Former Sen. Jim DeMint (now at Heritage Foundation), Texas Rep. Scott Turner (candidate for House Speaker), Matt Kibbe, of FreedomWorks and Jessica Anderson of Heritage Action.
I left out more good stuff from each speaker than I included, and there were other powerful speakers, but I wanted to give you the flavor of the event in a brief time. Some of this footage I shot personally, and the rest I pulled from the redstatemedia channel on YouTube. You’ll notice I included a long snippet from Texas Rep. Scott Turner, and that’s because…well, it’s my highlight reel. You can do your own, but I think you’ll like him.
The Tea Party movement must be racist.
That’s not to say that its candidates or supporters actually ARE racists, but rather that they MUST be racist, if the establishment elitists of both parties hope to hold onto their power-lock in Washington, state capitals and local governments.
In Tuesday’s New York Times, journalism professor Curtis Wilkie revives the evidence-free assertion of Tea Party racism by rehearsing the sins of past “demagogues” and then attributing their discriminatory actions to the modern movement for a more Constitutional government that taxes less and regulates less. Wilkie cries out to stupid Southerners to stop their ears against the “siren song” of the latest incarnation of the anti-brown-skin choir, knowing as he does that the South could tip at any moment and go full antebellum Dixie.
Under a patina of history, Wilkie warns that populists often have rallied the “working class” to blame blacks for their problems, and they could do the same today, visiting their vitriol this time on immigrants.
Wilkie accurately notes that the Tea Party is winning, even though its candidates in six U.S. Senate races failed to attract a majority of voters. But lest you marvel at the success of this decentralized movement in pressuring politicians to take our founding charter seriously, Wilkie conjures a heinous specter.
The [Tea Party] movement’s success, with its dangerous froth of anti-Washington posturing and barely concealed racial animus, raises an important question for Southern voters: Will they remember their history well enough to reject the siren song of nativism and populism that has won over the region so often before? [emphasis mine]
Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama, among others, portrayed himself as a tribune of the working class while championing segregation. It’s hard not to hear echoes of those eras today. Tea Party candidates have targeted federal taxes and spending, while attacking Chamber of Commerce interests and the leadership of the Republican Party. Racism has been replaced with nativism in their demands for immigration restrictions, but the animosity toward the “other” is the same.
You see, if you think the federal government spends too much, or spends on the wrong things, you’re a racist.
As PJ Media readers know from my colleague Bryan Preston, Battleground Texas has a well-funded, boots on the ground, long-term strategy designed to turn Texas toward the Democrats. It’s run by former Obama political hacks. Their activities this year are virtually indistinguishable from Democrat Wendy Davis’ campaign for governor.
Currently, Republicans hold all statewide offices, and control the legislative and executive branches of Texas government…not to mention two U.S. Senate seats. So it seems a tough nut to crack, but they’re going for it.
At last weekend’s RedState Gathering, talkradio host Mark Davis (KSKY 660AM, and frequent sub for Rush Limbaugh) joined me on stage to gauge the threat from Battleground Texas, and to plot the approach that conservatives can use going forward to build stronger relationships with people who love liberty.
(BTW, I’m about halfway through Davis’ new book, Lone Star America: How Texas Can Save Our Country, and highly recommend it if you want to hear about a land where your principles are more than mere campaign promises.)
Democrats flipped Colorado. Could they do it again? Watch the video, and join the conversation in the comments below.
“In Texas, gun control means hittin’ what you’re aimin’ at.”
— Sen. Ted Cruz
That reliable applause line was one of many that fired up an audience of more than 400 who came from around the country to hear, meet and question heroes of the conservative movement like Sen. Cruz, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and many less-known leaders. If the reaction from the faithful was any indication, most speakers hit what they were aiming’ at.
PJ Media, along with Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks and others, helped to sponsor the event, organized by Eric Erickson’s RedState.com. I attended the sessions, interviewed participants, and consumed Texas-sized portions of barbecue. It was a weekend full of laughter, enthusiasm, and serious discussion of issues and values.
It may sound antiquarian or naive, but the annual event shows that there are still a lot of people who harbor a deep love for this country, for her Constitution and for the values that make America great.
Jim Pinnell, a retired financial advisor from nearby Fairview, Texas, probably best summarized why folks spend the time and money to come to RedState Gathering:
“These people care,” Pinnell told me. “Many of us were former Republicans. I think deep down we’re all conservatives. We’re all Constitutional conservatives. We believe in this country. We believe in the rule of law and freedom. And these people preach it and live it.”
Of course, the speculation about the next presidential cycle never stops, and Red Staters had a rich menu of options set before them.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, evangelist of red state principles, enthused about the policies he claims make the big state great — a magnet for business, a factory for jobs, a farmland of opportunity and a refuge for anyone who relishes the sweet aroma of freedom.
Sen. Ted Cruz encouraged brow-beaten conservatives with the “seven victories” he says they’ve achieved.
Love the portrayal of the Dad in this ad, even with the shallow analogy to a breakfast cereal. I could write a lot more about this, but I think you’ll get it right away, and probably share it.
Let’s hope some Dad in Hollywood gets it, and builds a sitcom or a movie or both around this vision of Fatherhood.
(BTW, I wouldn’t eat Peanut Butter Cheerios if one bowl inoculated me against chiggers for life. Love peanut butter when it stands alone — rugged, independent — but not all mushed up in other stuff. That’s just how I am.)
In what looks like the final nail in the coffin for climate-change denial, some of the world’s most credible professional organizations have just announced they will no longer work with “climate deniers.”
That’s right, ten of the globe’s top public relations firms have declared that they will no longer “frame the debate” from the “sky is NOT falling” perspective.
Along with “the science,” the PR is now settled.
A spokesman for WPP, the world’s largest ad agency and parent of Burson Marsteller and Ogilvy Public Relations, said…
We ensure that our own work complies with local laws, marketing codes and our own code of business conduct. These prevent advertising that is intended to mislead and the denial of climate change would fall into this category.
The announcement fell like a ton of unread news releases on people who had placed their hope for defeating the man-made climate-change narrative upon firms so trustworthy that they’re commonly called “flacks.” These are the companies who have popularized idioms like “is that true, or is it just PR?” These are people whose credibility is exceeded perhaps only by used-car salesmen.
Since climate deniers can’t find a good PR firm these days, they were unlikely to respond to a reporter’s questions, so I didn’t contact them for a reaction to this devastating news.
The British Guardian demonstrated its objectively-journalistic professionalism by teaming up with the DC-based “Climate Investigations Center” (CIC), making follow-up calls to PR firms to pop the question about whether they would refuse work from climate deniers. The Guardian even released an “internal email” from the largest independently-owned PR firm, Edelman…
An initial response to CIC from Edelman inadvertently included an internal email which said: “I don’t believe we are obligated in any way to respond. There are only wrong answers for this guy.”
Edelman eventually did respond, but refused to join the virtuous chorus of information integrity, saying it makes decisions about which clients to serve on a case-by-case basis.
As the Guardian points out, Edelman works for the American Petroleum Institute, and helped to develop the Keystone XL pipeline campaign for the project that would have created thousands of jobs, cut the risk of ocean oil spills and exploding rail cars, as well as reduced our dependence on foreign oil.
Of course, CIC needs no introduction. Formed all the way back in 2014, it’s staffed by at least one man, Executive Director Kent Davies, a former research director at Greenpeace, who has apparently hung his own shingle now, doubtless eager to escape the cubicle Hell of anti-corporate America.
The science is settled in yet another field — economics — but no one’s listening. Citizens of the galaxy, be afraid.
New York Times pundit and economist Paul Krugman says the “overwhelming” consensus among his colleagues proclaims the Obama stimulus reduced unemployment and was “worth it.” But most Americans have no idea that these academics speak with virtually one voice on Obamanomics.
More important, over the past several years policy makers across the Western world have pretty much ignored the professional consensus on government spending and everything else, placing their faith instead in doctrines most economists firmly reject.
One rejected doctrine, “government austerity measures,” is pure foolishness during down cycles according to Krugman’s cabalmates. After all, nearly every economist knows that the only sure way to keep recession from plunging into depression is massive new government spending of money borrowed from our grandchildren.
Krugman wrings his soft science hands over the consequences of ignoring the voice from the ivory tower.
All of which raises a troubling question: Are we as societies even capable of taking good policy advice?
The op-ed column is headlined: “Knowledge Isn’t Power.” Like most progressives, Krugman believes that all it takes to do the right thing is to know the right thing, and so he’s crestfallen at the realization that the treasury of economics knowledge remains untapped by policy makers.
This must be tremendously frustrating, because Krugman started his career with the ambition to be a kind of guardian of the galaxy.
For those stories, Asimov invented a fictional science called psychohistory – a mix of social science, history and math, whose practitioners, in Krugman’s words, “understand the true dynamics” and thus “save the galaxy.”
In fairness to Krugman, he has, at least, entered a parallel field of fictional science. Among the most common news headlines related to the economy are those proclaiming how far astray economist predictions were from actual performance.
This story contains most of what’s great about this land of opportunity — creativity, hard work, volunteerism, risk-taking and learning from other leaders.
Fourteen-year-old Ajayi Jackson couldn’t could get a job because of bloody age discrimination [my phrase, not his], so he started his own company, Pop’s Pizza, with $100 of capital be borrowed from — you guessed it — his Dad.
He invented the made-from-scratch pizza recipe after learning to cook from his Mom. Already turning a profit, he’s made his sister jealous because she works longer hours for someone else and makes less money.
The best part of the story: Ajayi, like a lot of kids, admires NBA star LeBron James. But the budding entrepreneur is more interested in King James’ off-court business than in his moves in the lane.
He wants to meet the hoops hero because LeBron owns a chain of pizza places, and could share tips for success in business.
God bless Ajayi Jackson, and God bless America.
A member of Congress who loses his primary loses his influence. Few have lost more influence in less time than Rep. Eric Cantor, drubbed in May by a relative-unknown, summarily dethroned as House majority leader.
Nevertheless, Republicans in Virginia should call on Gov. Terry McAuliffe to deny Cantor’s request that he call a special election when Cantor quits the House early on August 18th, as he has just announced he would.
“I want to make sure that the constituents in the 7th District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session,” Cantor told the Times-Dispatch. “That way he will also have seniority, and that will help the interests of my constituents [because] he can be there in that consequential lame-duck session,” he added.
Cantor actually wants the special election to happen on November 4th, the same day as the general election. This means that the winner of the special election (who Cantor naturally assumes will be the Republican Dave Brat) would start immediately, having a leg up on the rest of freshman class of 2015…that is, assuming he also wins the general election race.
Of course, there’s no reason Cantor can’t remain in the saddle, voting his conscience (if anyone does that anymore) through the end of his term.
Late-term special elections are political power maneuvers having nothing to do with the purported effort to ensure that people of the district “have a voice.” After all, isn’t Eric Cantor the voice of his district? With 234 Republicans vs. 199 Democrats, Cantor could walk away now — no doubt to a lucrative legal or lobbyist career already lined up — with no loss to the GOP.
Odds are that Cantor was told that he would call for a special election by the Oz-behind-the-curtain party patriarchs who sustain their own power through such tactics. I’m sure some partisan hack will question my devotion to the party, but my devotion is first to the rule of law, the Constitution, and integrity in public service.
To quote The Dread Pirate Roberts, “We are men of action. Lies do not become us.”
If there’s a bright spot in this story, it’s this: Cantor’s coinage of the phrase “a very consequential lame-duck session.”
Apparently a duck’s handicap does not prevent mischief.
Perhaps these should be called “starving vulture” sessions instead.
How many more social conservatives must we endure as they make the utilitarian case for traditional marriage, dodging the more frank, powerful and controversial biblical case, summarized thus: “God says.”?
In Sen. Marco Rubio’s recent speech at Catholic University, as my colleague Rodrigo Sermeño reports, Rubio defended “strong values for a strong America.” But the senator connected these values only tangentially with the God who designed us and who sanctifies our relationships. He rested the weight of his argument upon the social sciences, history, conventional wisdom and stats about wealth and happiness.
Thousands of years of human history have shown that the ideal setting for children to grow up is with a mother and a father committed to one another, living together, and sharing the responsibility of raising their children. And since traditional marriage has such an extraordinary record of success at raising children into strong and successful adults, states in our country have long elevated this institution and set it apart in our laws.
This is what I mean by the utilitarian argument. Essentially, he says that marriage works, so the government should recognize it.
“I was taught certain values that led me to live my life in a sequence that has a proven track record of success. In America, if you get an education, find a good job, and wait until marriage to have children, your chances of achieving economic security and professional fulfillment are incredibly high,” Rubio said.
Rubio calls this the “success sequence,” and attributes our moral decline to the “erosion of the success sequence.”
But the truth is that the social and moral wellbeing of our people has a direct and consequential impact on their economic wellbeing.
PJ Media’s Susan Goldberg is dead wrong about Sarah Palin’s new project.
Sarah Palin has officially given up on her political career. Launching the Sarah Palin Channel, the former Alaskan governor has apparently decided to follow in Oprah’s footsteps and impact the voters where it counts: paid Internet TV. Palin isn’t the first conservative to move into the media subscription fray (Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh both beat her to it) and, thank God, unlike Kim Kardashian she isn’t establishing her solo career on a sex tape. But, at the very moment when Obama’s presidency is taking a nosedive off of the cliff of no return, do conservatives really need just another pretty face?
Au contraire, ma soeur!
Beyond Goldberg’s ribald remarks treating the former governor like a piece of meat (moose, no doubt), she needs to consider who holds more influence in the country: Beck or Boehner? Rush or Ryan (not Seacrest, Rep. Paul)? Katy Perry or Rick Perry? Palin pioneers a path I pray others will pursue. (And as a PJTV.com personality, I welcome Sarah Palin to the subscriber-based internet realm.)
Picking up where TLC’s Sarah Palin’s Alaska left off, the Sarah Palin Channel will feature videos of the Palin family enjoying the bounties of the Alaskan wilderness. It was charming for a season, but really, is anyone going to pay ten bucks a month to watch even more reality TV?
We’ll find out. I wouldn’t bet a nickel against Palin’s channel. And this move does not mean she’s “given up on her political career,” for the following reasons…
Well, we’re living here in Allentown.
And they’re tearing all the old buildings down
But a guy who wants to save a hotel
Can’t get the cash from
the taxpayer well.
(with apologies to Billy Joel, and the people of Allentown, Pa.)
When funded by taxpayer money, is a developer entitled to a subsidy if he merely meets the basic requirements of the state program, or are civic leaders on the local subsidy Board compelled to apply extra scrutiny exactly because it’s public money.
That’s the fight in Allentown, Pennsylvania, right now, where a so-called “Neighborhood Improvement Zone” (NIZ) redirects tax dollars into developer projects — a hockey arena, hotels, office, retail and residential space — in the hopes that the investments in downtown will eventually pay off in bigger tax receipts for government, and in a revitalized city. This “local story” has broad implications for your community, state, nation and world. I’ll offer four reasons (below) why such arrangements, and the politicians who push them, deserve extraordinary scrutiny from taxpayers and voters.
It’s a special developer-entitlement zone for Allentown-only set up by the state legislature, thanks to the vigorous efforts of Allentown’s state senator, who counts the major developers among his top campaign donors, and whose wife got a job with a lobbying firm that has clients who benefit from the special tax-subsidy district. (Conflict of interest allegations have been denied all around.) The lead developers have just set up a political action committee to support candidates who support the NIZ, without regard to political party affiliation.*
Critics have slammed Wikipedia, the crowdsourced online encyclopedia, saying its lack of professional editors makes it an unreliable source.
Well, that’s true when Congress gets involved.
It seems our hardworking representative(s) and/or their hardworking staffer(s) devoted time, on the public dime, to altering Wikipedia pages to accuse the Cuban government of faking the moon landings (when everyone knows it was the U.S. government that did that), and to name Donald Rumsfeld as an alien wizard.
It seems that those edits were the final straw for Wikipedia’s administrators, who implemented a 10-day ban on any changes coming from one particular IP address within the US Congress, “due to disruptive editing originating from that address”.
Don’t expect a Congressional investigation into this misuse of public funds, because…
a) It’s Congress, and
b) there’s no physical evidence, because government hard-drives never survive these sorts of incidents.
And stop laughing at us, Great Britain. Your MPs have been caught doing the same…a lot.
A plan to evaluate refugee status for Hondurans in Honduras currently makes the rounds in D.C. – apparently backed by some in the Obama administration, it resembles a recent bill from Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona. The idea is to protect people, especially youth and children, from a dangerous trek across coyote-infested lands.
No one knows the details of this plan to set up, in effect, refugee immigration kiosks in Honduras, and the White House says no decision has been made, but already there’s pushback. This raises the question: Do Republicans, conservatives and libertarians need to shoot it down immediately because…
1) It might increase immigration from Honduras, and
2) might spread to other countries, and/or
2) it’s backed by McCain and Obama?
After all, we’re talking about facilitating legal immigration, and this might keep potential immigrants from piling up in U.S. border towns, jeopardizing public health and straining social services.
Regardless of the eventual shape of this plan, it’s time for folks on the Right to take the moral high ground on immigration. Oddly enough, if we’re serious about that, we’ll find that the issue isn’t immigration at all.
I know that even in whispering this, I may run afoul of my friends who think that it is the tide of immigrants — some unwilling to assimilate — that’s destroying our country. They’re stealing American jobs, or bearing contagions, including radical Islam. Seal the border.
Before our knees jerk in opposition to the latest proposal, we need to ask: Will the tide stop anytime soon under any plan which can actually pass Congress, and be implemented efficaciously?
No. The tide will stop when America stops being the beacon of liberty. I contend that one who wishes to stem the tide of immigration, inadvertently wishes American demise.
One can’t help but compare today’s New York Times’ dispatch from Raqqa, the “capital” of the new Islamic caliphate, with previous Times reports highlighting the troubles afflicting U.S. efforts in Iraq.
While sturm und drang prevailed in the latter, the leaders of the Caliphate seem to make the figurative trains run on time (something even Mussolini didn’t do).
More pragmatically, ISIS has managed to keep food in markets, and bakeries and gas stations functioning.
“What I see in Raqqa proves that the Islamic State has a clear vision to establish a state in the real meaning of the word,” said a retired teacher in the city of Raqqa. “It is not a joke.”
Many said that they received official receipts stamped with the ISIS logo and that the fees were less than they used to pay in bribes to Mr. Assad’s government.
“I feel like I am dealing with a respected state, not thugs,” said a Raqqa goldsmith in his small shop as a woman shopped for gold pieces with cash sent from abroad by her husband.
In fairness, the story also notes that Muslim Sharia law leaves the hands of thieves disarmed, smokers without a break, drinkers dry and women cloaked.
But there is a darker side to Islamic rule, with public executions and strict social codes that have left many in this once-tolerant community deeply worried about the future.
Of course, mentioning “a darker side” indicates the reader should weigh the relative merits of the coming Muslim dynasty with an open mind. Take the good with the bad.
O, and by the way, all three of Raqqa’s Christian churches have been shuttered, stripped of crosses, black flagged and converted to Islamic suicide bomber recruitment centers.
Nevertheless the story ends on a high note.
After ISIS’s advance into Iraq last month, the Jordanian went to Mosul to help organize a hospital there before returning to Raqqa.
“He talked with an eager shine in his eyes, saying that the caliphate of the Islamic State that began in Raqqa would spread over the whole region,” one of his employees said.
There was a time when the Left pooh-poohed theories that jihadis would establish a caliphate from which to launch their conquest of the rest of the earth.
Now, it seems, the caliphate exists, but it’s not as bad as those radical Right-wing scaremongers said.
Shortly after touching down in Tel Aviv today (7/23), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the press why he had come to the region.
The goal, Mr. Kerry stressed, was not only to obtain a cease-fire but to map out a “sustainable process going forward” that would address some of the long-term grievances of the Palestinians in Gaza and prevent the fighting between Hamas and Israel from erupting every few years. [emphasis added]
His jet landed at Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s front door, which had already been slammed shut by U.S. and European officials banning flights in and out. One can only imagine the comfort Kerry’s words brought to the mothers of Israel, whose sons crawl through tunnels attempting to flush out Hamas terrorists.
After all, what long-term grievances might the Palestinians harbor that Mr. Kerry could address?
How about the fact that Israelis live on land that Palestinians will forever claim as their own?
Well, he might address that by agreeing with Hamas and Fatah that a Jew can no longer have an address in the former, and ephemeral, state of Israel. Then he could get back on his plane at Tel Aviv’s new Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin International Airport and enjoy a ticker-tape parade down Broadway.
That might encourage Hamas to stop lobbing thousands of missiles into the area. Although history shows that if radical Muslims don’t have Jews or Christians to kill (or even if they do), they’ll kill each other. Even Bill Maher knows that.
By now you’ve heard that a federal three-judge panel ruled that the Affordable Care Act does not permit federal subsidies to help people buy insurance through HealthCare.gov. This cuts the heart from the redistributive scheme by essentially pricing young, healthy people out of the market.
But scrolling down in The New York Times story, I found the stunning argument that the Obama administration offered in a vain attempt to rescue the president’s sole accomplishment.
Basically, the law says only the states can help people pay for their Obamacare policies. So, here’s how the all the president’s lawyers tried to get around that.
Obama administration officials said that an exchange established by the federal government was, in effect, established by a state because the secretary of health and human services was standing “in the shoes” of states when she established exchanges.
Imagine how Obama and his cronies might apply that principle.
Federal executive branch officers can act on behalf of the legislative branch in each of the states. This is a shocking coup attempt against federalism, republican governance, the separation of powers and the Constitution itself.
No, it’s not the first time he’s tried something like this, but forgive me if I never grow accustomed to the audacity of these would-be transformers.
This morning’s email bag included a news release with quotes from officers at Union Theological Seminary and Auburn Theological Seminary, in celebration of President Obama’s executive order effectively requiring religious organizations with government contracts over $10,000 to hire homosexuals.
Religious leaders across the country declared victory today as the president honored their request to leave out a religious exemption in an executive order banning LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.
This follows a “grassroots campaign” to gather signatures begging the president to force them to hire homosexuals — or in politically-correct parlance, to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In exultant language, the news release goes on…
Present at today’s signing ceremony was Rev. Fred Davie, Executive Vice President of Union Theological Seminary and a member of the LGBT community. “Today at the White House I witnessed the arc of history bend toward justice,” said Davie. “This is a tremendous victory for those of us who believe that as people of faith we should be exemplary, not exempted. Leaving out a religious exemption is simply the right thing to do, both theologically and civically. It is my obligation, and desire, as a Christian and a member of human community to love my neighbor and it is my obligation as a citizen to treat all my fellow citizens equally, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
It’s a peculiar locution — “leaving out a religious exemption” — akin to “leaving out the leaving out.” The authors of the press release preferred double negative to a plain assertion, like: “the president commanded faith-based organizations to violate the tenets of their faith if they want to serve as a federal contractors.”
But why all of this unseemly lobbying?
Sounds like a simple enough way to cure poverty: Form a partnership between donors and leaders of government. Get a set of measurable goals and diligently track progress toward those goals. There’s nothing we can’t do when we put our minds to it.
It’s a technocratic solution to a human problem that plays to our sense of confidence as scientific problem solvers.
That’s been the basic approach to economic development of the so-called “third world” by the “first world” since the middle of the last century.
But not only is it a failure, it actually props up dictators and stomps the rights of the poor, while allowing wealthy donors, like Bill Gates, to feel good about themselves as they monitor the “measurable” progress.
I love the [United Nations'] Millennium Development Goals. I think they’re the best idea for focusing the world on fighting global poverty that I’ve ever seen….Thanks to these goals…the world at large knows the key measures of poverty, hunger, health and education. Some of the numbers are good and some are not. But the fact that the world is focusing on these numbers is excellent….The Millennium Development Goals can guide the search for new discoveries by showing us where innovation can bring the biggest returns. This is their genius.
– Bill Gates, speech to U.N. General Assembly, September 2008 (video below)
Sounds great. But is it true?
The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, by William Easterly, demonstrates how a toxic stew of arrogance, altruism and racism has led “the West” to positively hinder “the Rest” from achieving the very thing we value most — equality under law. Easterly has produced a rarity among serious books — page-turning readability, with even-handed scholarship and careful documentation.
Easterly says the problem with well-meaning fellows like Bill Gates is multi-pronged.
1) We don’t have accurate data, we ignore contrary evidence, and we misinterpret the faulty data, attributing apparent growth to the activities of autocrats and bureaucrats when the evidence points to factors beyond their control.
2) We ignore history and the actual needs of the people, as if we could write our own solutions upon a blank slate, that we decide is framed by modern national boundaries.
3) We idolize strong leaders who can implement programs funded by donors, but ignore their autocratic repression of individual rights, and so we often use charity dollars to pay for pogroms via programs.
4) We think of innovation as something a few elite scholars and captains of industry bring to the poor, rather than something that springs from decentralized problem-solving by people who have freedom, property rights, equal justice under law and profit motive.
In the video below, Bill Gates speaks to the UN General Assembly — history’s greatest congregation of thugs and tyrants. For more than six minutes Gates praises the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), without even hinting that people might need more than food, medicine and education. He never mentions self-governance, liberty, or capitalism.
The best spin on this is that Gates think if we take care of health, learning and economic survival, then republican governance and its protection of person and property will come later.
The vector of history collides with, and obliterates, that notion.
The worst-case scenario is that Gates cravenly kowtows to the world’s oppressors because he needs their cooperation to reach his beloved development goals. Like a geek with an MS-Excel spreadsheet, he has lost sight of the human impact behind the columns, rows and formulae. All that matters is the data, not how you get there.
The other day, I wrote a “fake” news story at ScrappleFace.com about the Centers for Disease Control’s “discovery” of a lot of highly-infectious stuff — hundreds of vials of small pox, influenza, dengue, etc. — that they had misplaced…for decades.
When I write satire, I try to make it sufficiently “over the top” (OTT, in apropos text parlance), so it won’t be mistaken for an actual news story. And so, under the headline “CDC Urges Calm After Finding Lost Cache of Cooties,” I “reported” that the CDC was “fairly sure” it has avoided exposing its staffers to the Cooties contagion.
Officially, the CDC urged the public to “remain calm,” but during a media tour of the Atlanta laboratory, journalists saw several scientists and technicians rubbing spots on their arms where associates had inadvertently touched them. A spokesman assured reporters that the wiping motion was strictly a precautionary measure.
How droll, I thought to myself (which is my favorite way).
However, after reading Tammy Bruce’s latest column, I confess I’ve fallen far short. If you thought the newspaper business was headed rapidly toward the recycle bin of history, imagine trying to write satire in times like these. Witness this snippet from Tammy’s column…
The institute’s problem of carelessness apparently isn’t limited to the one unfortunate incident of 80 CDC workers becoming exposed to anthrax after an incautious lab-to-lab transfer.
In fact, New York magazine reported results of a separate audit of the CDC, which found the lab had been “transferring dangerous materials in Ziploc bags, storing anthrax in unlocked refrigerators in an unrestricted hallway, and misplacing anthrax containers.”
As a satirist, I cannot compete with material like this.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to write my Congressman to request a government bailout for my dying industry.
Full disclosure: Tammy Bruce is my colleague on the PJTV show ‘After Hours with John Phillips.‘
The Australian Parliament yesterday repealed its punitive tax on carbon emissions, following through on a promise from Prime Minister Tony Abbott to get rid of the measure he said, back in 2009, was based on “absolute crap” climate science.
The unpopular job-killing levy has reportedly felled at least two prime ministers, and one of Abbott’s colleagues said the same fate awaits candidates who campaign to revive the carbon tax, including Labor Party leader Bill Shorten.
“I can tell Bill we will hang this around his neck like a rotten, stinking carcass, right through to election day at the end of 2016,’’ [Education Minister and Liberal Party leader Christopher] Pyne told Parliament…“Because we can now tell the Australian public, with great confidence, that if they vote Labor at the next election the carbon tax will be reintroduced – the job-destroying, price-rising carbon tax that cost Julia Gillard her prime ministership, Kevin Rudd his prime ministership the first time, and arguably the second time. And it is going to cost you the prime ministership of Australia,” Mr Pyne said.
All of this, on the eve of Australia’s hosting of the next G-20 summit of industrialized nations whose leaders hope to institute a global carbon tax, or at least a formal U.N. agreement among 190 nations by 2015. Prime Minister Abbott can look forward to a lot of finger wags and tongue clucks, not to mention vitriolic rants, from the defenders of the planet who will, doubtless, arrive at the G-20 summit this time by kayak and bicycle, rather than by charter jet and limo.
If nothing else, this episode proves that elections matter.
Abbott won a landslide election victory last year for his Liberal-National coalition that he said gave him a mandate to throw out the “toxic tax” on carbon, which was triple Europe’s carbon price. The government estimates the repeal will save the average family A$550 a year in lower electricity prices and make Australian companies more competitive.
Perhaps I should say “elections can matter,” if you elect candidates who do what they say they will.
Memo to GOP 2016 presidential hopefuls: Skip a trip to Iowa, and stop by Canberra for a weekend, if only to touch the hem of Abbott’s garment.
The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) apparently punches below its weight these days, if the response to its new Mitch McConnell attack ad on YouTube, and the outcome of a Senate vote, are any indicators.
NARAL made the ad to push a bill aimed at reversing the effect of the Hobby Lobby abortifacent case, in which the Supreme Court freed closely-held corporations from a government mandate that violated the religious conscience of some.
The black-and-white :30 second spot with a sound-track reminiscent of the Halloween movies had attracted all of 1,009 views and four comments as of 7:16 CDT on Wednesday (7/16/14), hours after the Senate voted down the bill that NARAL favored.
The ad says, in part, that Sen. McConnell…
..supports the corporate bosses of Hobby Lobby who deny their workers insurance that covers birth control.
Of course, as everyone, including the lying Democrats know, the Hobby Lobby case had nothing to do with insurance coverage for ordinary contraceptives that stop Mr. Sperm from meeting Ms. Egg. Hobby Lobby employee insurance covers a variety of those. At issue were chemicals that destroy fertilized eggs, typically by expelling them from the womb.
NARAL repeats the demonstrably-false Democrat talking point. Or perhaps the Democrats have been repeating the NARAL-composed talking point. Nevertheless, the ad got no traction on YouTube, and the NARAL lobbyists failed on the Senate floor.
Perhaps some congressmen should rethink their strategy of cowering before the retail abortion industry. (BTW, at what what point in the gestation of a congressman does the spine develop?)
Do you want to appeal to women? Talk to the many millions who profoundly love their babies, especially to Moms of babies that Democrats most want to abort — special needs and poor children of color. Talk about their future, their opportunity, their safety in a dangerous world and a parent’s freedom to choose an excellent education.
Women deserve a right to choose a prosperous future for their children. Those kind of women far outnumber NARAL’s supporters.
It’s the Constitution, Stupid!
That’s the de facto cry as Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, Tea Partisans and others slam President Obama for ruling by executive order and bureaucratic regulation, bypassing the legislature and accruing unchecked power to the executive branch and its apparatchiks in the bureaucracy.
But this alarm falls on deaf ears, because the average American attended Democrat-union-run schools and all he knows of the Constitution consists of a jingle of the Preamble from Schoolhouse Rock.
The sum total of all living Americans who have both read, and understood the purport of the Constitution, could meet today in the room where Freedom’s Charter was drafted and hold a Pilates class without rubbing elbows or bumping exercise balls.
In any case, in this postmodern era, the argument from principles (argumentum super capita sua) has been supplanted by the argument from emotion (ifita fils güd du itum). So, my readers in ye olde tricorne hattef, might want to attempt a different tactic.
Listen, we could get all lathered (rinse & repeat) about the yawning ignorance of our founding documents, lamenting that the Constitution lies dormant among the dust-bunnies of history under the futon, or we could face reality and figure out a way to communicate that connects with who people are, what they feel, and even what they think, when the rare occasion arises.
It’s no longer enough to believe that the climate is changing, and that man’s activities may have a role in it. In order to avoid an Amish-caliber shunning by the AGW cabal, you must set your hair on fire.
This comes from that great slayer of trees, the New York Times, which profiles Prof. John Christy of the University of Alabama, a pariah in his profession because he thinks many of his colleagues have overstated the case, and the potential consequences, of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).
Dr. Christy was pointing to a chart comparing seven computer projections of atmospheric temperatures above the United States with measurements taken by satellites and weather balloons. The projections traced a sharp upward slope; the actual measurements, however, ticked up only slightly.
Of course, the test of any theory is its utility in making predictions. But pointing out the discrepancies between theoretical predictions and actual data is just the kind of thing that gets Prof. Christy in hot water with those who think we’ll all be under water someday soon (or at least that Atlantic City may be renamed Atlantis City).
Christy, a heavily credentialed veteran climate scientist, actually edited a section of the famous 2001 UN report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Now fellow academics rebuff his handshake offer.
“I walked over and held out my hand to greet him,” Dr. Christy recalled. “He looked me in the eye and he said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Come on, shake hands with me.’ And he said, ‘No.’ ”
Big Mother is watching, thank goodness.
Here are the facts: Debra Harrell works at McDonald’s in North Augusta, South Carolina. For most of the summer, her daughter had stayed there with her, playing on a laptop that Harrell had scrounged up the money to purchase. (McDonald’s has free WiFi.) Sadly, the Harrell home was robbed and the laptop stolen, so the girl asked her mother if she could be dropped off at the park to play instead.
I’m sure you see the problem already. Apparently Ms. Harrell couldn’t afford a helicopter drone with live video to her smartphone, so her nine-year-old daughter ran the risk of having fun outdoors without parental witness.
Fortunately, a concerned parent at the playground intervened, interviewed the girl, and then notified the authorities who arrested the Mom.
To fully appreciate the seriousness of this situation, you have to watch the local news report. Face it, any crime that would force professional TV journalists to express this degree of shock and dismay must be egregious. It’s so bad, that the journalists actually gave contact information for government-run childcare so that other parents could avoid legal jeopardy and rapidly get their kids under government supervision.
Of course, we all know it would have been far better for the Mom to forego employment entirely and to get herself in some government programs. That way, she could have squatted on a park bench and noodled on her ObamaPhone while her darling played on the monkey bars (and tried to avoid contact with strangers). Better yet, she could have used some of her government allowance to buy another laptop so that her daughter didn’t have to risk the outdoors at all.
But this is all hindsight.
This alarming story makes me regret the countless thousands of hours that I, and my brothers, spent unsupervised somewhere in the hundreds of acres of woods and fields near my childhood home. In those less morally-evolved times, we’d disappear for hours after breakfast, lunch or dinner. We’d walk or bike or ride horses miles away from the security of my Nan’s watch-care. In case of emergency — like when somebody shot my finger with the BB-gun, or when Troy and I caught a groundhog and the varmint latched onto my brother’s thumb and wouldn’t let go — anyway, in case of emergency our only car was with Pop at work an hour away. Nan never had a driver’s license anyway. Our only phone was screwed to the wall in the kitchen.
We’d swim in creek, pond or canal. We played tackle football without helmets or pads. We’d cross fields where menacing cattle grazed, and climb the highest trees we could. We built dams, panned for “gold,” caught salamanders, snakes, turtles, crayfish and eels. We cracked spherical rocks searching in vain for geodes. Sometimes, in our early teens, we’d carry firearms, but way before that we always carried weapons — bows, spears, cudgels, rocks and slings that we fashioned from natural materials. Often we reenacted Robin Hood’s cudgel fight with Little John on a log over a stream. For a few years, we tended a trap-line before school in the morning, toting a .22 caliber rifle in the dark and facing some very annoyed raccoons and possums.
We’d swing from vines, engage in brutal snowball fights, toboggan through a stand of trees and bail out just before the barbed-wire fence. A pack of us would skate the unreliable ice of a farmer’s pond — when the farmer wasn’t looking — slapping frozen hockey pucks at the unpadded goalie who trembled between the boots that formed the goal.
These activities could involve children as young as six — often accompanied by our neighbor Jim and his little sisters, and all shockingly unsupervised by adults.
As I read this New York Times story – ‘Fertility Clinics Scan for the Strongest Embryo — about chromosomal testing of in-vitro fertilization embryos, I kept waiting for the counterpoint to the idea that scientists could help create a purer race.
Finally, the opposition arose:
Still, critics say, if the test is at all inaccurate, some good people might be thrown out or defective ones chosen.
I’m sorry, the actual sentence said “good embryos might be thrown out.”
I don’t know how I made that mistake.
In any case, embryos get “thrown out” whether the test is administered or not.
Don’t let your mind drift as you read the story about the science of producing better offspring by weeding out the bad conceptus.
Try to think about all that great people we’ll create, and the time and money we’ll save by not having so many defectives among us. After all, shouldn’t people have the right to create the kind of offspring they wish when they’re spending so much money to do so? You can customize your car or your computer — why not your little Cassie or Kyle?