Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I had hoped Ferndale voters would have told the Wizards of Special Interests to take their ordinance back to Oz. I would have preferred Ferndale voters had not asked what their government can do for them. In the same election where the majority of state voters sided with Dr. King to judge Michigan citizens by the content of their character, Ferndale opted to measure people by the paisley of their sexual orientation.
Though Ferndale may have pinned a new brooch on its city charter, I'm proud ours is a precious stone--forged by our example of mutual respect, than the costume jewelry other cities wear that haven't our reputation.
Friday, November 03, 2006
"The Massachusetts senator and failed 2004 Democratic presidential candidate prides himself on his great intellect and likes to remind the voters who passed on him two years ago of the intellectual inferiority of President George W. Bush."Rather than say you're smarter than President Bush, it's better to demonstrate you're smarter than President Bush, senator.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
I had already started forming my thoughts into an article when I ran across a posting in Stone Soup Musings about a question that blog's author had posed to some Canadians: who's your favorite American president?
Admittedly, I must have been in a foul mood (I had quit smoking and even my wife thought I was more tense than usual--I've since been off and on the wagon a couple times) when I wrote this response, but I thought I'd use it to introduce a succession of articles I hope to post and will call the Monkey See Monkey Do series.
Inside them there will be some repeated themes and even some repeated sentences. Regardless, here's installment #1.
I've been cruising a few blogs lately and have noticed a theme. Canadians have been spending a lot of time America bashing.
This follows another trend which is Americans bashing America. Though the seeds may have been planted in Korea or Viet Nam, I believe its waterhshed was Iranian radicals invading the American embassy there and kidnapping 300 American citizens. Large and influential groups of Americans, primarily "progressive" politicians, authors, and Hollywood, became victims of an odd strain of Stockholm syndrome. Editorials, books, and movies have had a decidedly Patty Hearst flavor ever since.
One of America's greatest exports is its culture. In addition to MacDonalds, Burger King, Rock and Roll, movies, etc., our exported culture includes America's opinion of itself in newspapers, movies, and lyrics.
That culture used to inspire other countries and citizens to be more self reliant, take individual responsibility, be entrepreneurial, encourage liberty, promote education, all kinds of positive behaviors.
Now it seems we're exporting the opposite, and the rest of the world is copying our behavior much as they did for 100+ years before--except now the examples are dysfunction, neurosis, anti-social behavior, and hostility toward our own government.
And now I come to Stone Soup Musings and find a casual interest in Canadian opinions (you could have been in NY and gotten the same opinions--I'm not sure I would have "gone off" but may have) and Mike is wishing Clinton had four (why not eight?) more years.
Since when did America care what the rest of the world thought? When did "the rest of the world" become the standard barer for what should and should not be done--even regarding our puritanical reactions to our politicians' extramarital affairs?
When was character excused from the list of presidential virtues? America's leaders carry a heavier burden than the rest of the world's. So what if they will tolerate any number of character defects? In America there remains a large population that expects more.
If Clinton had abused the trust in him from blacks as he did the trust in him from femininsts, would he still be thought so kindly of? Maybe we don't take feminism as seriously as we do racism?
I sent the following letter to Michigan's First Gentleman, Dan Mulhern. He publishes a weekly newsletter called Reading for Leading I subscribe to. This letter was in response to his article, Can I Get an Amen?Dan, nice column today.
The problem with call and response is too often we are preaching to the choir. In politics we're often surrounded with like-minded people and categorize all the opposition's like-minded people together.
The even bigger problem for leaders is finding a voice with a unique perspective that we don't immediately dismiss as the opposition, or shout-down because they aren't towing our line. Would someone disagreeing with a minister be shouted-down by the rest of the congregation? Would the minister even be able to hear them?
How do politicians get out of their ruts to find less stereotypical ideas? What leader, in tough economic times, isn't surrounded by too many yes-men, and what does someone risk when they express dissent?
It seems reasonable to me the problem with our automotive industry in Michigan is it's a poster-child for too many yes-men. GM's Kerkorian and board member York were the first people to try pushing GM any course other than their Exxon Valdez-ish rendezvous with bankruptcy.
How do you know if you're Martin Luther King or Captain Hazelwood?
Monday, October 30, 2006
This weekend's column, The mediocrity of today's greatness, made a great point, but probably not one Albom intended as it could only have been written by someone that doesn't recognize political correctness--even when it sings to him.
His column tells a story about a morning TV program he witnessed where three local singers competing for the show's top prize each boasted about their talent then bombed on stage. What surprised the sports-writer-turned-feel-good-author most was the hosts' congratulations for the stunningly bad performances and the audience's applause for what were clearly (to Mitch) horrible performances.
Taking Mitch at his word, I hope the rest of us are not surprised. When you measure someone's effort and they come up short the honest thing to do is tell them they didn't make the cut and send them along with some encouraging words but advise them not to give up their day jobs. How well would any of us steer our cars if our eyes, ears, or sound of screeching metal didn't tell us to correct our course?
Yet, what Mitch described is what political correctness is all about. Political correctness is about dishonesty. It's about applauding someone's plan and ignoring their execution. It's about furthering self-esteem rather than success. It's about social promotions in school. It's being more concerned over minority admissions to colleges than minority scholarship or graduation rates (or is that attention deficit disorder?). Political correctness is the celebration of multiculturalism rather than the criticism of self-destructive behavior.
Just ask Bill Cosby.
Mitch Albom found it ridiculous the contestants even found their way to the stage and even more so the applause their painful performances received. In Albom's exposing the contest for being without merit he made Michigan's Civil Rights Initiative's case that political correctness doesn't belong in public contracting or college admissions.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Writing blog articles is free. I only spend my time, but I get a lot out of the exercise. Campaigning costs both time and money. A single mailing requires time to compose and money for paper, printing, envelopes, mailing lists, and postage.
We need another $2000 to cover the costs of our only mailing--and we need it quickly.
If you've been following the issue and already either oppose the ordinance for your own reasons or agree with mine and can manage to make a contribution of any size, please send your check to:
P.O. Box 363
Royal Oak, MI 48068-0363
If you're wondering why I oppose this ordinance I urge you to visit our website, www.VoteNoHRO.com, and read the material there.
To conserve some of your time here are some bulleted reasons:
- The ordinance is unnecessary--the gay community is not discriminated against in Ferndale.
- It confers special rights--gay persons may threaten legal action against employers and landlords and a non-gay persons can not.
- It's poorly written--an idea pretending to be as big as civil rights shouldn't require so many words to try and make it palatable.
- Its poor writing makes mistakes--in its tortuous wording it accidentally exempts private schools from all civil rights legislation.
- It's unenforceable--Michigan Supreme Court precedent demonstrates local civil rights laws are unconstitutional.
- It's exploitable by 3rd parties--once on the books other organizations can force cities to extreme actions the cities didn't intend.
- It's symbolic--the ordinances proponents admit their primary purpose is to send a message.
- The ballot language is misleading--the ballot language doesn't even mention the new classes of persons that supposedly make this ordinance necessary and broader than state and federal statutes.
- The appearance of impropriety--the city council tried passing it against voters wishes, told the city's attorney to draft ballot language, then approved the misleading language for their own pet-ordinance.
- It's a me-too law--law shouldn't be a fashion statement.
- Enforcing it is not free--proponents want voters to believe enforcing civil rights laws are free, when the state spends $14 million just to hear complaints.
- It's a distraction--our city, region, and state are suffering a recession, our neighbors are losing jobs, families are moving away, our business tax base is whithering, and our schools perform mildly better than Pontiac's--and we have time for this?
If you oppose the ordinance for the same reasons or others and can afford a small donation to help cover mailing expenses, please send us a check.
Whatever your position is, I encourage you to exercise your democratic franchise and vote Tuesday, November 7.
Monday, October 16, 2006
So what will all these celebrities do now that European countries are discovering they can't reconcile Islam's way of life with their own? What will become of Hollywood's favorite vacation spot if their politics are even more intolerant of this peaceful religion's most un-peaceful self expression? Where will Democratic congressmen and senators go for their boondoggles to study Europeans living peacefully with minorities in ways America, in their opinion, is incapable of?
Friday, October 13, 2006
Good ideas require few words to describe them. The ten best ideas ever to become law are the US Constitution's Bill of Rights. With only 482 words, our country's founders established protections against unreasonable search and self-incrimination, guaranteed the freedom of speech, a right to bear arms, presumption of innocence -- and reserved all other rights to citizens and states any not specifically granted the federal government.
Ferndale's proposed Human Rights Ordinance pretends to be such an idea -- and goes on for 1600 words trying to make palatable a law Ferndale voters have already twice spit out in 1991 and 2000. But Ferndale's Covey Council doesn't take no for an answer. While our district's schools barely perform better than Pontiac's, the city is receiving fewer dollars in state revenue sharing, suffering stagnant home values, foreclosures and a declining population, the Covey Council wants to pass a symbolic and provocative ordinance as though such a thing has any impact on important quality-of-life issues facing Ferndale's citizens.
After establishing that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons (men wanting to be treated as women and women as men) deserve the same enumerated protections for themselves as for blacks, women, seniors, and the handicapped, the proposed ordinance follows a tortuous path through definitions, re-definitions, exceptions, limitations, and finally to penalties.
Councilman Covey and former city manager Tom Barwin like pointing out that Ann Arbor has a similar ordinance -- as though that were the secret ingredient to Ann Arbor's success and their proximity to the University of Michigan has little to do with it. Both should be reminded Detroit has a similar ordinance. Whom did that ordinance attract if Detroit's population falls every time it's counted? Did the ordinance lift Detroit's housing values or scholastic achievement? Attract industry? What other of Detroit's inspired ordinances, that account for their council's national prestige, should we emulate in Ferndale?
If Ferndale wants to attract families, then family-friendly ordinances and enforcement of existing ordinances should be our city's priority. Families don't come to Ferndale in ones and twos. They come with three, four, and five residents per household or more. They come for the schools, the parks and playgrounds, and for a walk-able downtown. Families come for first-class city services and neighborhoods free of blight, vacant lots, abandoned cars, or driveways with two-year-old piles of shingles.
But that's not what this ordinance is about. It's about the Covey Council dressing up Ferndale to be a notch on the garter belt of special interests.
However you measure it, the ordinance is intended to be symbolic. It's for appearance's sake and not our citizens'. Laws drafted for symbolic reasons are laws that shouldn't be proposed at all.
With 482 hastily assembled words, I urge you to vote NO on legislation for looks. Vote NO on legislation for appearances. Vote NO on Ferndale's so-called Human Rights Ordinance.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
On terrorism and Islamic fascism the Democrats are wrong. Bush may not have handled it gracefully but terrorism doesn't respond to grace. More-liberal-than-you author Sam Harris makes this case better than any in his recent LA Times article, Head-in-the-Sand Liberals.
The Republican Party is wrong on Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ES). It's not hard to understand why. Many (most?) Republicans have taken positions opposing ES based on its proximity to abortion, bolstered by the fact both ES and abortion share many of the same advocates. From a Republican's point of view whenever Democrats, the press, and Hollywood are aligned together (as they frequently are) their purpose is likely to pervert the constitution, widen the distribution of pornography, corrupt youth, promote abortion, disparage Christianity, or provide comfort and intelligence to America's enemies. Given the usual agendas of the usual suspects Republican politicians' suspicions on ES may be warranted--but they are still wrong.
The good news is pro-life values needn't be sacrificed even if Conservatives' pride may sting a little in the admission.
To avoid using the medical jargon with words that sound too similar let's instead pretend we're talking about tiny marble bags with even tinier marbles inside them. Except these aren't your ordinary marbles and bags, they're magic because a bag with one marble will soon have two, then four, eight, 16, 32, and pretty soon you need a bigger bag and a computer to count all the marbles.
Regardless where marble bags come from conservatives object to throwing them away. The good news from marble researchers is they believe they can mend a broken bag using a single marble from a good bag. A single magic marble's affect on a sick bag is nothing short of miraculous. Marble-ologists call it Ethical Marble Therapy. Nothing is harmed. Nothing is broken. Nothing is thrown away.
That is precisely how Republicans can acquiesce on ES without sacrificing their position on the sanctity of life.
Across the nation women visit fertility clinics every day with bags of marbles for clinicians to examine for defects. A single marble is removed from each blastocyst to gage its health. Healthy blastocysts are returned (implanted) with a single blastomere (marble) missing. These blastomeres may be ethically used to create new stem cell lines, hopefully fulfilling the hope we all have to repair spinal cord injuries and cure blindness, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or countless other birth defects, genetic disorders, and even replacing lost limbs.
For purposes of good sportsmanship we'll call the compromise policy Ethical Embryonic Stem Cell Research (EESC, sounds like EASY).It's time to put this issue behind us and let EESC progress domestically as rapidly and with as much financial and moral support as America may provide its brightest scientists with the highest ethical methodologies.
Time is wasting. Let not our political disagreements delay this important research. This is an issue both parties must become not just responsible custodians for, but committed supporters as well.
For more information on Embryonic Stem Cell Research visit:
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Note, I deliberately delayed posting this article so everyone might observe the fifth anniversary of the heretofore most aggressive attack on American soil since 1941 in their own way.People are still wondering how best to memorialize the events that unfolded the morning of September 11, 2001. As deserving an enterprise that may be, America has already spoiled that which should have been left virgin.
9/11 is the first American tragedy to become thrice victimized. Its first assault was delivered by Islamic fascists demonstrating their hatred for America, its citizens, and all she stands for. Second, it was victimized by its government patronizing survivors in a manner never considered before, even for victims of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor or Germany's attack on the Lusitania.
9/11's third victimization was by Hollywood, courtesy of Michael Moore's propamentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which pretended to be a documentary but was instead Goebbel-esque propaganda attacking one president for the sins of another. Its June release date was intended to influence the 2004 election in has-anyone-heard-from-John Kerry's favor.
I don't remember reading, nor can I imagine anything similar happening subsequent to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. Back then Americans, though victimized, weren't behaving as victims. Survivor's wouldn't have expected, and the public wouldn't have offered, Pearl Harbor lottery prizes and Hollywood studios wouldn't have dared tampering with the 1944 presidential elections nor would any director have considered making Fahrenheit 127.
Maybe that's another reason their's was the greatest generation.
Now, instead of fully engaging the enemy that attacked the World Trade Center, waking up to the tyranny the enemy holds over its innocents, and mobilizing our nation to convincingly eject Islamic Fascists and their allies from our midst and their state-sponsored positions, we retreat into a national pity party and read names for hours. We're doomed to an annual parade of politicians, poets, widows, children, clergy, significant others, and actors waxing eloquently and reverently how 9/11 changed them, while at the same time they and a growing number of American's are as committed to wiping out terrorism as OJ Simpson is to finding Nicole's murderer.
Truly, we are not our grandparent's generation. We are our own. But we can do better. We must do better. And we'd better do it bigger and better than Osama does, lest we become the generation that lost Rome.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Given repeated attempts to take the high-road, Jennifer Granholm insisted the two facts are linked and that the net affect was Dick DeVos hurt Michigan families.
When asked if she felt similarly towards GM's Richard Wagner or Ford's Bill Ford Jr. about the layoffs they've made to remain competitive and their coincident investments in China and the rest of Asia, she said she didn't, and that the automakers and her blame President George Bush for those layoffs.
When asked if she thought layoffs were sometimes necessary to save the other jobs, she replied saying Dick DeVos hurt Michigan families, and if he thought it was the right thing to do then he should be willing to stand by it.
I guess that makes sense since she wouldn't blame GM or Ford for negotiating themselves into an uncompetitive situation. Nor would she accept any responsibility herself as governor.
As best I can tell she did it with a straight face.
If she were a waitress she'd have just lost some of her tip.
I may be conservative, but people who know me know I won't mindlessly tow the Republican Party line. Many conservatives are enraged at state and federal-level Republicans for shunning conservative positions on education, civil rights, and fiscal responsibility. They're called RINOs for Republicans In Name Only.
I'm disappointed with DeVos for having caved on the civil rights initiative, his attitude towards oil companies, and am unimpressed with his party credentials. Based on his positions on issues he's little different than Jennifer Granholm, which either makes Granholm an acceptable Republican governor or DeVos an acceptable Democratic candidate. If both are middle-of-the-road then one of them isn't necessary.
DeVos' backing from conservatives is not a sure thing. It takes more than phone calls to bring out the vote. It takes leadership to give people something to vote for. So far neither candidate has impressed me as someone willing to take the political heat for doing the right thing.
When will Patterson run for governor?
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
In addition to that video, there's audio and video from multiple and civil discussions and debates on whether higher education should allow preferences and the value of diversity on campuses.
Barbara Grutter, the plaintiff in Grutter v. Bollinger challenging the University of Michigan's law school admission is TAFM's president. It's chairman, William Allen, is a former Chairman of the US Commission on Civil Rights. Recently, William Allen wrote an open letter to Michigan's Attorney General Mike Cox warning that Michigan's Civil Rights Commission's hearings on the initiative's alleged fraud were improperly conducted.
I recommend taking the time to listen to the debates since for most people, this may be the closest we get to participating in an civil discussion with learned, well-spoken, and prepared advocates both for and against the MCRI.
Monday, July 31, 2006
The article, This is no time to weaken state Civil Rights Commission, makes its major point here:
".. the state Constitution directs the Commission to investigate alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin and to "secure the equal protection of such civil rights without such discrimination.Judge Feikens' bias, like the commission's, is in favor of affirmative action regardless whether it is warranted, achieves its purpose, is deleterious to blacks, or ultimately unconstitutional. His op-ed misapplies Article-1 Section II to petition signers claiming they didn't understand what they signed. But the real violation of equal protection and "civil and political rights" was committed by BAMN and the commission itself when they conspired to obstruct citizens' rights to exercise their constitutionally protected franchise to draft petitions, gather signatures, and shape their government.
".. if complaints of discrimination are brought before the commission and its members believe them to be credible, they are obligated to pursue those complaints... To do anything less would be a failure to do the job they were appointed to do, and indeed a dereliction of their duty as public servants sworn to uphold the laws of Michigan and the United States."
In this specific instance the opinion itself is discriminatory because it seeks to protect the civil rights of one party at the expense of another, which is what affirmative action is all about--more discrimination. Worse, the opinion and the issue brought before the civil rights commission wasn't that the complainants were discriminated against but that they didn't understand what they were signing. It's unclear to what extent the state constitution protects ignorance or tempermentalism, but it clearly protects citizens' rights to amend the constitution by petition.
If being misled is a violation of civil rights politicians would never be allowed to speak or act. Democracy is necessarily caveat emptor, but we can correct mistakes at the ballot box or by petition when our elected candidates haven't the political will to do what citizens feel must be done.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley had this to say in yesterday's paper:
"Gov. Jennifer Granholm ordered the flags lowered 72 times for soldiers between December 2003 and last week, doing what governors in at least a dozen states do."She better keep on doing it, because we've reached a place in America where some of our soldiers are losing hope and sanity, some of their families back home are losing hope and faith, and those who should be honoring the dead are losing their minds -- counting how many times we lower the flag in memory of those who do the jobs that keep us free."
The media has done a great job telling us how miserable the war in Iraq is going and criticizing our military for the Where's-Waldo search for Osama bin Laden. The media paints a picture of demoralized troops without goals or confidence skulking through a foreign landscape with ungrateful citizens.
Against that backdrop it's refreshing to hear directly from soldiers about appreciative Iraqi citizens that are glad for our troops' sacrifice and commitment, and thankful for the job they're doing building them a freer Iraq.
When those soldiers look back at the US they won't see our half-mast flags because apologists can't stand proudly for America. Instead of lowering our flags until the finest soldiers on the planet come home we should lift our flags to their highest points so our honor for them will be the first thing they see break the horizon.
Mark Twain wrote, "Tis a fine thing to fight for one's own freedom; tis a far sight finer to fight for another man's."
We should not be jealous of our freedom nor believe we are uniquely deserved of it. What kind of arrogance is it that believes one people are more deserving of freedom than another? No finer a goal has been fought for since America's Civil War when a great and terrible price was paid to ransom a liberty not easily purchased.
It's less a measure of patriotism than a measure of gratitude. Who are we to suspect another nation's degree of thankfulness when we demonstrate so little ourselves?
Keep your flag at full-mast, and let everyone see it from as far away as possible. Iraq and Afghanistan are a long way away.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Between the years 1494 and 1508 illegal aliens were responsible for something both amazing and frightening. Documented by a young priest (Bartolomé de las Casas), the invaders first did something the US government was unable to do in Detroit for the 2000 census, accurately count all the inhabitants throughout the island's 76,480 square kilometers--maybe using those statistical sampling techniques democrats are always talking about. This led to their second stunning achievement: counting 3 million dead over that eight year span (approx 1027 deaths/day). Present day city clerks on Chicago and Detroit with the assistance of computers, a modern post office and without language barriers (well, ...) can't track dead registered voters, but historians have discovered this task was actually easier half a millennium ago. Other estimates blame the aggressive undocumented invaders with eight million dead (2739 deaths/day) suggesting an even busier priest or a concerted effort to reinterpret history to support an anti-western agenda popular among today's intelligentsias.
Why write about this now and not on Columbus Day when most apologists will be protesting the evils of Chistopher's spice and gold lust? Because a relative lent me Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States at a graduation party this weekend and I detected a revisionist narrative on the first page.
Except for what I suspect are the gross exaggerations symptomatic of statistical sampling's imprecision, I believe Columbus' conduct would not reflect his employer's (Spain's) wishes if it happened today. But it didn't happen today. It happened 514 years ago when slavery (of anyone) wasn't thought immoral, and if not for las Casas' shock at the number of deaths (whatever their number) we wouldn't be castigating Columbus today. But five centuries ago, Columbus' behavior did become his employer's, and other nations wouldn't have cared except for their disappointment of not having conquered the natives first and claimed the islands as their own.
This is the danger of projecting today's moral perspectives on people from times past. What they did then wasn't considered objectionable by their contemporaries. Prior to Western Culture (specifically Christians) thinking slavery was abominable and the 150 years it took to abolish the slave trade, all nations and all people traditionally (and without a second thought) made slaves of other nations and people.
Which of our own accepted and constitutionally-protected behaviors will future generations think abominable, or will they find our anxieties quaint? What will the future think of prostitution, homosexuality, underage sex, drug use, welfare, or fossil fuels, or racial preferences? I don't know if Christians were the first to believe abortion was wrong but if slavery required 150 years, a civil war, and both the British and American navies to abolish I don't expect abortion to become as unconscionable any easier.
In his book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Thomas Sowell visits this topic in the chapter History versus Visions. Regarding Europe's invasion of the Americas and the conquest of its natives:
"But, morally, what the Europeans did was the same as what non-Europeans had been doing for thousands of years. This is not a moral justification for either. But it is an argument against the selective localization of evil.But author Howard Zinn doesn't need to limit his audience to children and teachers to find gullible audiences. There are plenty of American apologists and multi-culturalists ready to eat this stuff up.
"Against that background, it is possible to see what a gross distortion of history it is for schools to be asking American school children such questions as how they would feel if they were the indigenous American Indians being forced from their land by the westward movement of invaders from Europe.
"Indeed, Indians often joined with the European invaders to attack other Indians, in order to share in the spoils or to exact revenge for these other Indians' prior spoliation of them, including the taking of their lands and the enslavement of their people. When Cortés marched against the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, he led an army of 900 Spaniards and thousands of Indians."
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Neither of today's major parties reflects the aspirations, fears or will of the majority of Americans. Both have polarized and alienated the people. Both are unduly influenced by single-issue groups. Both are excessively dominated by money. ... The two major parties are today simply neither relevant to the issues and challenges of the 21st Century nor effective in addressing them.Ron wishes he had written that (really!).
In his second column, In Search of Unity, Ron reports on the hoards of letters he received about the first article and includes quotes from a few. One writer excited about Norway's collecting seeds against a future cataclysm wonders, "Why isn't my government doing cool things like that?" Another wishing the Federal Reserve was more concerned about jobs than inflation exclaims, "This government just doesn't know or is unwilling or unable to address what is really important."
I don't know what else Norway could be doing. When you think of AIDS research, feeding starving Africans, funding the United Nations, providing disaster relief to tsunami and earthquake victims, or ending a world war Norway isn't at the top of the list. And though the priorities of the Federal Reserve may be one person's most important issue, it's not everyone's.
Most interesting is Ron's quote near the end of his article:
ABC News did a special report last month on "A Country Divided," showing how polarization is feeding on itself and spreading as people talk only with the like-minded and pay attention only to things that reinforce their views. Moderates, middle-grounders, have become political freaks.Several weeks ago a neighbor I've been mailing my essays to asked to be taken off the list. A fair request since they'd never asked to be on it. They said the articles were well written but they didn't agree with anything I said and were too busy to comment on them. I believe it.
A few months ago I attended a birthday party at a swanky Ferndale restaurant with as eclectic a gathering of people as their could be (a compliment to the birthday boy). Anything that could be discussed was discussed except for politics. After spending a few hours with these intelligent and well educated people I left the party not knowing any of them better than I know whomever designs the window displays in Birmingham.
Whoever suggested religion and politics should be avoided in polite conversation did America a great disservice. Whoever repeats that phrase suffocates the discourse our country desperately needs to prosper as a nation.
Much is said about the search for moderate politicians and the political middle ground. This, supposedly, is where Unity08 thinks the seeds of its ideas may find purchase. But on many topics there simply isn't a middle ground. We speak as though there's political wisdom in splitting the baby, but Unity08's goal is more like the two mothers' from the Old Testament than it is King Solomon's.
If Americans are willing to vote without debating the issues why should candidates debate the issues?
Free Press editors asked readers if it was proper for newspapers to endorse candidates. The propriety of endorsements is less an issue than the need for endorsements. Endorsements from organizations we respect saves us the time and effort of researching, debating, and forming our own opinions. Why risk forming an opinion when we can borrow the opinions of others? Why hold ourselves responsible for electing bums when we can blame others?
This was the attraction of term-limits. Rather than being responsible for voting a bum out of state office they'd be forced out after two terms. We delegated our responsibility to an amendment to take care of it for us. Unfortunately, term-limits don't distinguish between good elected officials and bad ones so the quality of our lawmakers cannot improve with successive elections. How would hockey fans have felt if Steve Yzerman was forced to leave the Red Wings after only two seasons?
This election year let your decisions be deliberate. Don't let any of your votes be accidental. Decide to vote your favorite color or not. Decide to let newspapers tell you who to vote for or do it yourself. Let The League of Women Voters ask questions or ask them yourself. Believe what you hear on television and radio commercials or read the proposals and debate them with your neighbors.
You're always welcome to debate them here.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
"[Howell's] school board unanimously approved Monday night a change in curriculum that would include seventh-graders receiving a pamphlet that explains the purpose of condoms and how to use one. If asked, teachers will also be able to define the terms homosexuality, masturbation, anal and oral sex."
I'm curious how these questions will be answered. We already know they'll not be given a moral context because anything that keeps company with religion isn't allowed in schools. We also know the risks associated with sex (anal or otherwise) won't have the desired impact on 12 and 13-year-olds who think it's a good idea to chat and meet online strangers or even travel to Jericho and convert to Islam without notifying their parents. They aren't required to notify parents about abortions, how much less dangerous is masquerading as an 18 year old and hooking up with two guys from Indianapolis for a road trip?
Perhaps Howell and Birmingham can start an intramural Sex-Ed Olympics with seventh graders answering Sex-Ed questions in a Jeopardy-like format, or see which schools' 12-year-old girls can unroll a condom onto a model penis the fastest or list spermicide's active ingredients.
Or perhaps they should take field trips to visit unwed mothers who've dropped out of school, or interview parents taking care of their middle-school student's grandchildren. Will they meet with people infected with genital herpes or dying from AIDS? Perhaps they should study the economic affects of pregnancy, unwed motherhood, and abortion on young women. I bet we're able to discuss and show diagrams of anal sex and fisting but are unable to show pictures of aborted fetuses--just to drive home the point.
Apparently Howell's School District has all the money it requires and has met every need for remedial and advanced studies in reading, writing, arithmetic, foreign languages, vocational education and other things to help Howell's children compete in a flattened world.
On Wednesday The Detroit News reported Howell's school system is slashing their budget by $2.3 million. Maybe the school board trustees have been a little distracted reviewing the new sex-ed pamphlets?
Meanwhile, InformationWeek reports Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik is having trouble finding qualified candidates to hire. More than 2/3 of last year's new hires came from overseas.
"I think what I find most humbling about this is, when I leave the United States, most of the other officials welcome these discussions, while I have trouble getting the attention of the local school district at home."
Maybe the locals are busy spending some private time studying the new courseware.
At a speech in NY, Red Hat's CEO spoke about another major issue, the state of U.S. education at the K-12 and higher-education levels.
Howell's students will be seductive candidates indeed. If they get as far as an interview they'll be able to explain the purpose of a condom, how to use one, and define the terms homosexuality, masturbation, anal and oral sex.
Do you still think the answer is more money for schools?
Monday, June 26, 2006
When the term was first used in the civil rights context -- in an executive order signed by President John Kennedy in 1961 -- it meant taking positive steps, proactive measures -- affirmative action, get it? -- to make sure that racial discrimination was not occurring. The idea was that the employers had to do more than just give lip service to nondiscrimination; they had to make sure that no one in their companies was discriminated against, and they had to communicate that policy, and enforce it, and root out the discrimination and discriminators that were already there.After listing examples of Affirmative Action the MCRI would not ban, Clegg introduces what the MCRI would prohibit with:
The fact of the matter is, then, that there is only one kind of affirmative action that will be outlawed by the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative: treating people differently -- some better and some worse -- because of their skin color, or what country their ancestors came from, or what kind of reproductive organs they have. This is the kind of affirmative action that Harvard professor Nathan Glazer called "affirmative discrimination."Michigan's Board of Canvassers were misguided in requiring the initiative to change its language to specifically state it will eliminate affirmative action programs. Apparently the board's hearings weren't as thorough as they should have been, making up with rhetoric, vitriol, and political slight-of-hand what it lacked in reason, debate and inquisitiveness.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Michigan's Supreme Court may have erred on this one. 4-week-old evidence of having inhaled pot (first or second-hand) is not evidence of driving under the influence. Everyone who attended a pop/R&B/rock concert within a month prior to a speeding ticket is at risk of an OUI offense.Mayor's lawsuit targets Connerly
People usually keep reading comprehension deficiencies to themselves.UAW Pays for fun, perks
With all that entertainment spending I was surprised Kwame Kilpatrick's name didn't show up. And people were concerned Delphi's Steve Miller was sending the wrong message?Mortgage rates rise on inflation fears
They may be as high as four years ago, but they're still lower than the late 70s and early 80s when rates were in the teens.Detroit Murder/Suicide: Woman feared for her life
PPO's aren't enough, but you can't arrest people for what they might do, or even for what they threaten to do. But when does it cross the line and become what they will do?News Flash: heirs more likely to inherit fortunes than initiative to build them
This shouldn't surprise anyone, but it's always reassuring to know stereotypes aren't invented out of thin heir.Seven terrorist suspects arrested in Miami
A few weeks ago it was 17 terrorists in Toronto, now there's seven in Miami. All young Muslim men. Is profiling really as absurd as we've been trained to think it is? Is Political Correctness the new McCarthyism?Muslims and West blame each other
Can't imagine how that happened. Muslims think we're greedy. We think they're violent. They think we're selfish. We think they're lazy.
Meditate on that then consider America's own class warfare and how liberals complain "the rich" (however we define "them") are greedy, selfish, and not paying their fair share. What might "the rich" say of us?
And what has each of us done with the greatest fortune ever inherited, America? What kind of heirs are we?
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Why do people claim responsibility for tragic events? Terrorists do it for attention and to promote their cause. Against overwhelming evidence, real criminals admit responsibility in exchange for leniency. Emotionally unstable people claim responsibility for crimes they didn't commit to attract attention to themselves.
Everyone knows Birmingham Public Schools had no role in the tragic overdose of the 17-year-old junior from fentanyl-laced heroin. They aren't responsible for students whereabouts 24-hours/day. They weren't the student's parole officer. They aren't the student's parent. They weren't dealers or bystanders. In fact, all evidence suggests Birmingham Schools does a terrific job at what it is actually is responsible for: educating Birmingham students.
So the School District claimed responsibility to draw attention to itself. But why would it do that?
There's another reason to claim responsibility for something you've no culpability for--to be part of the solution. Claiming responsibility for something you've no direct influence over attracts the admiration of the masses for such grand displays of selflessness. That admiration translates into a faux moral authority as everyone respects you for stepping up to the plate--whether it's your turn at bat or not. Since responsible parties must meet to figure out what went wrong the school system is now given a seat at the table. Being part of the solution means the school system can inject itself into a dialog that should be restricted to law enforcement and the family. Once the school system injects itself into one familial dynamic the village looks the other way when it injects itself into other familial dynamics. All this new counseling and administering to the needs of families will require a larger budget, and the dripping concern for these poor people will regretfully bring celebrity--but not to the family, to the school system's professional grievers.
So now the school system has celebrity and justification for a larger budget. What is it risking? Nothing. Professional grievers have no accountability. After all, they're volunteers! Their 21st century good Samaritans! The family is the only party involved required to make real sacrifices. They're the only party to this tragedy that will pay the price, whose grief is genuine, are directly responsible for their children, and after the criminals that sold her the drugs and delayed in getting her treatment, share any accountability.
When all is said and done the family will still be broken but the school system will not only remain intact, but they'll feel good about themselves for announcing, "We have failed."
They have failed. They've failed to leave healing to the parties that need healing. They've failed to leave remedies to those that must administer them. They've failed in showing deference to law enforcement.
In reality, they succeeded in more ways than they failed, but opportunism from trajedy is nothing to brag about.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
So asked a neighbor Wednesday night wondering why I had ignored the only media frenzy able to put Duke's Lacrosse Team scandal to bed: the publicity melee that has made Godless: The Church of Liberalism a best seller.
I heard Ann Coulter on Sean Hannity's talk show, saw the interview with The Today Show's host Matt Lauer, read Hillary Clinton's comments (and Ann's reply) and browsed the video archives at MSNBC but none of it was inspiring. But finally, nine days after releasing the book and criticisms of her being mean to the "Jersey Girls" (four wives whose husbands died September 11, 2001) I found something interesting.
Ann Coulter was a guest Wednesday night on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Jay Leno was the first interviewer not distracted by her witty sardonics and asked the question Lou Dobbs and Matt Lauer should have asked:
LENO: ".. the words you've used have overshadowed the point you were trying to make to the point people are upset about you attacking the widows [and miss] the point you were trying to make."Leave it to a comedian to conduct the tough interviews.
COULTER: "Other people have written acerbic little remarks about democrats sending out victims.. making the exact same points Howard Dean could be making ... I don't think the nation's attention has ever been riveted on this "victim as spokesman" as it has in the last week. I don't think that trick's going to work anymore."
The reason the media and press have exploited the most trivial aspects of her new book is they, and the nation, aren't prepared to discuss the point of the chapter those comments are extracted from: The Doctrine of Infallibility. As ground shaking ideas go, criticizing liberals for parading victims as spokesmen is small potatoes compared to the writings of Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele.
Sowell's book, Black Redneck's and White Liberals, explodes myths about black culture, slavery, black education, and their progress since the civil rights movement. The media and black leaders don't want these ideas discussed--at all. The thoroughly researched facts in his book controvert commonly held beliefs that have become the foundation of all civil rights dialog since the 60s. So commonly held that black culture's propaganda has become more real than the history it's fictionalized, and with the help of white liberals, is trying to rewrite.
In White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era, Shelby Steele proposes Affirmative Action (and all racial preferences the MCRI proposes to eliminate) is little more than the new slavery. Blacks, still unable to care for themselves, are dependent on the hand-outs of white people and white liberals promote it because Affirmative Action proves they aren't racists.
The fact neither book has drawn wide and loud criticism substantiates Ann Coulter's doctrine of infallibility. Both Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele are black writers. The popular media won't engage them because even journalistic action heroes like Lauer, Couric, Dobbs, and others are unable to match their intellect, command of history, but more importantly--they won't attack them because the authors are victims. Why are they victims? Because they're black.
The litmus test for being black required one to accept racial victimization not as an occasional event in one's life but as an ongoing identity. When victimization is identity, then the victim's passionate anger can be called out even when there is no actual victimization.The words of Sowell and Steele are more powerful accusations than anything Coulter has written, and yet nary a peep is heard. Nor will any be heard because both authors have lifted a mirror few, black or white, want to look into.Shelby Steele -- White Guilt
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Note: Of the many things that annoy me about The Detroit News and Free Press the most frequent aggravation is their refusal to keep articles online for reference. For that reason, I've copied Google's cache one Free Press article for the link below.From the suburbs, the City of Detroit has become a mere spectator sport -- reportedly the poorest big city in the US. In 2000, Detroit's median family income was almost $30,000 and its average home value $63,000. Year after year Detroit voters (dead and alive) elect the most curious species of personalities to city-held offices. They flaunt the law, enrich their friends and family, and dance with unions while the city budget blooms deeper reds every year. Detroit was a city once swelled to capacity with factories and factory-workers' families, but as Detroit's auto giants' fortunes turned for the worse the city's population was the first hit as workers were laid off, factories closed, and the entire economy that surrounded it and pumped-up Detroit's tax revenues left the city with the faintest of hissing sounds. It became a city without "a good side of the tracks."
Also, this article's sporting metaphor (near the end) was inspired by watching Flash Point two weekends ago when representatives of Granholm's and DeVos' campaigns attended to discuss the Leadership Conference on Mackinac, and both representatives wore their school colors. The only thing missing was The Beach Boys.
Across the road (literally), tuning in every night to watch the 11PM death spectacle are residents of Oakland County: home to automotive headquarters, Automation Alley, good schools, and a 2000 median income of over $61,000. Nearly half of Oakland County's residents could buy an entire average Detroit home with a single year's paycheck.
Detroit may be a glimpse into Oakland County's future. Oakland's population of salaried employees are equally dependent on automotive industries and those seem only to get smaller. Plant workers may get laid-off by the tens-of-thousands, but those numbers are distributed across wider geographies at plants scattered throughout the North America. White collar employees are more concentrated, and that concentration is centered in Oakland County.
Oakland County voters have to ask themselves if they're electing the kinds of politicians that can steer the county to a future less dependent on automotive executives, engineers, designers, accountants, clerks, advertisers, marketers, and the economic impact their loss will have on Oakland's retail and residential economies. I don't know how many convicted felons are on our cities' and county's boards, nor do I know what kind of leadership, innovation, or power they have to get new and powerful policies in place.
How long have we waited for mass transit? How long have we driven on poorly engineered, built, and maintained roads? How long will school districts continue shrinking before they're consolidated? How many small cities will be allowed to cut back on city services before they're consolidated to leverage infrastructure and personnel and provide full services to their (remaining) residents? How much longer will sprawl continue unabated stretching our county's finite manpower and budget resources to support them?
In short, where are the politicians and leaders with visions of what Oakland County and the entire South East Michigan region should look like in 10 years? If we haven't them already in office, what are we prepared to do to attract those people to risk candidacy and are we willing to follow and support them?
This year's election is focused on the governor's race, and it is important. Both Governor Jennifer Granholm and republican challenger Dick DeVos seem sympathetic to Michigan's predicament and are touting their support for the usual suspects, education and diversifying the state's economy, but these slogans have been repeated for over 20 years and Michigan is little changed for all the campaign rhetoric, and in fact can be said to have fallen further behind 47 out of 50 states. I wouldn't be surprised if some US Territories have higher employment than Michigan.
Instead of voting for cheerleaders, we need to vote for coaches and quarterbacks. Instead of somersaults, back flips, and human pyramids we need visions, strategy, and execution.
We should remember that as Oakland County, and perhaps the rest of Michigan find entertainment value in Detroit's flailing, the rest of the country is looking at Michigan and wondering what we're doing about it.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
"I believe our union will grow," said Robert Betts, president of UAW Local 2151. "It's like the Romans. The more they persecuted the Christians, the more the faith grew."Wrong analogy. The UAW's future is less like Christians than it is dodo birds. Dodos had no predators until their peaceful island was invaded by rats, monkeys, and pigs brought by settlers in the 1500s--which ate the eggs and the dodos. The lesson here is dodos were fat, dumb, and happy until they were unable to compete with new, non-indigenous species.
"I think Gettelfinger has pussyfooted around the issues," said Dan Lamb, a machinist at a Delphi brake plant in Dayton, Ohio. "It's time to go back to our roots, back to when the union was militant."That strategy is working well for Muslim fundamentalist. Unable to compete economically, scientifically, politically, or socially with the rest of the world they want to return to the stone age when women were property and people lived in tents. This is not a recipe for progress.
This next quote is my favorite from the article.
"Yet the spirit of cooperation with the automakers can only go so far," said labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein.So Lichtenstein advocates the UAW may have to suicide bomb Delphi even if it takes down GM as well, or maybe to make sure it takes Delphi, GM, and others down with it. What does the UAW care of collateral damage a strike may cause? They've already become an anachronism to the new capitalism forced on US car makers with the improving fortunes of Japanese, German, and eventually Chinese imports and transplants.
"You can cooperate with the company 90 percent of the time, but you have to hold in reserve the ability to throw a wrench in the works," said Lichtenstein, author of a 1995 biography on legendary UAW leader Walter Reuther.
While a strike now against Delphi would be "almost suicidal," Lichtenstein said the UAW would lose its bargaining power without the threat of a walkout. "The capacity to say no is essential to making the cooperation work," he said. "It requires both sides to have a gun in the holster, and you have to use that rusty gun every so often to be taken seriously."
This kind of denial and irrational behavior to protect high-wage low-skill jobs has more in common with terrorism than the ideology of Walter Reuther. It's one thing to fight to protect workers from hazardous workplaces or exploitation and quite another to guarantee above-market pay and benefits regardless their or their company's health or performance.
Islamic extremists covet Western Culture's success and would prefer to destroy it than change. The UAW is jealous of its economic gains and would rather kill the cow than drink less milk. Let's hope cooler heads prevail.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
"The diverse groups claim a climate of hostility toward immigrants, here legally and illegally, has risen since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."Detroit's and other cities' newspapers have reported claims of increased hostility. There have been townhall style meetings, prayer groups, interfaith services, and media-organized roundtables to discuss how to address the issue. The only thing missing are police reports supporting the claims.
I haven't finished reading Shelby Steele's "White Guilt" but am already suspicious of claims of our hostility towards immigrants. Perhaps because all whites have been stigmatized as racists in a manner similar to how feminist propoganda is convincing males they're all rapers-in-waiting we're feeling guilty for crimes we haven't committed and never thought to commit in the first place. But we're feeling guilty anyway.
Is there any group of non-white males that the entirety of white males isn't guilty of offending since Columbus discovered the New World? They could direct their angst toward and demand dispensations from Italian explorers or the Spanish that sponsored his trip.
The city of Dearborn's Arab Community prepared in the weeks following 9/11 for retaliatory attacks that never happened. Now immigrants are organizing protests against hostility that hasn't surfaced yet. As is usual with socio-political charlatanry they follow the popular media's lead and have dropped the word illegal from the issue.
Are the blogosphere and Fox News Network the only news and opinion sources that can discriminate between legal and illegal immigrants?
Friday, June 02, 2006
A letter to the editor in today's Washington Post, How Faith Works for Democrats, stunningly reveals the source of their mysticism. It's from James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. After paying homage to Thomas Jefferson's church and state separation the letter continues:
"[Democrats are] rooted in [Gospel of] Matthew's directive to provide for the least among us and are guided by [the New Testament's Letter of] James's admonition that "faith without works is dead [2:17]."This brief encyclical exposes a secret Dan Brown was saving for his next book, "The DeMocratic Code."
"We believe that the federal budget is a moral document in which our values are demonstrated through our spending priorities.
Any budget that favors the wealthy over working Americans, cuts aid to school children, slashes health care for veterans, under-funds first responders and reduces opportunities for those who are the least in our society is a budget that fails to keep faith with America's values."
Translated for college students, it says the only way to realize democrats' moral obligations is by spending, not doing, and the federal budget is their bible. After extorting $2 from a man it's a sin to return $1. And whatever you steal for the least of my brothers you steal for Lyndon Johnson.
It finally makes sense: Ted Kennedy imagines himself in tights, handsome as Errol Flynn, redistributing from the rich to the poor. Assisted by his Merry Men with Nancy Pelosi playing Maid Merrian, Barney Frank her understudy, allied against George Bush, the scheming High Sheriff of Nottingham. Mel Brooks is a shoe-in to be the next Democratic Party Chairman.
This is why democrats complain social programs are cut 5% when the Sheriff only increases spending 7% instead of 12% (for college students, that's 12-7=5). Their path to eternal bliss is predicated on the work of others.
Like all religious texts, the faithful are selective in their reading. They must have missed Jefferson's, "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Mr. Steele stated that as long as Affirmative Action is in place, all blacks share the stigma of having not succeeded on their own merits, but were promoted only because of Affirmative Action. Mr. Steele maintains as long as that policy is in place, blacks individual will never be viewed, or perhaps even know themselves, whether their accomplishments were real or artificial.
He also made a point that blacks can't blame racism or other external factors for the fact black children entering kindergarten are already two years behind white children. They don't know their colors, numbers, letters, nor have they been read to as much as white children. That poor start, Steele says, can not be blamed on anyone but black parents. Comments like those may relegate him to concert tours with Bill Cosby.
I'm not a regular reader of Newsweek, but it arrives at home with 12 other subscriptions courtesy of unused Delta Miles. George Will's article will appear in the June 5 issue. In online editions appearing early on MSNBC's website, George Will wrote:
So, being black conferred "an almost reckless moral authority," a "power of racial privilege." The "power to shame, silence and muscle concessions from the larger society" was black power. The demand for equal rights became a demand for "the redistribution of responsibility for black advancement from black to white America, from the 'victims' to the 'guilty'."George Will claims the book can be read in two hours. Bill Cosby believes too many blacks can't read it. Shelby Steele wants black parents to read it to their kids. Jesse Jackson wants whites to read it and give blacks credit for it.
Hence the black militancy's proclaiming "black power" was really an exercise in the power of helplessness. It was an assertion of white powerwhite society's power to "take" (LBJ's telling word) blacks to social equality. Hence "black power" was actually a denial of the power of blacks to manage their own escape from an intractable inferiority.
"By the mid-sixties," Steele writes, "white guilt was eliciting an entirely new kind of black leadership, not selfless men like King who appealed to the nation's moral character but smaller men, bargainers, bluffers and haranguersnot moralists but specialists in moral indignationwho could set up a trade with white guilt."
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Detroit News blogger and political cartoonist Henry Payne makes a great point about Dick DeVos' recent radio ad protesting the high price of gas, the high profits made by oil companies, and disingenuously claiming something should be done about it.
Mr. Payne's article speaks for itself and doesn't need further contributions here to improve its point.
The point that should be considered here is how quickly DeVos has abandoned reason and insulted the intelligence of Michigan voters by towing the left's gas crisis propaganda. This is not the kind of leadership Michigan needs. We already have Democrats crying, "Woe is us," we don't need Republicans crying with them.
The best thing Dick DeVos can do about the ad is abandon it and hope people forget about it. Already we know that despite all the complaints about $3/gallon gas and news stories about how people can't afford to shop, gas usage has increased already this spring and boaters are proclaiming they'll not let gas prices change their favorite summer activity.
DeVos has also come out against the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.
On both these issues DeVos has the same position as Granholm. They're also both in favor of ridding the state of the Single Business Tax, though Granholm seems a late-comer. Is their only difference their political party? If that affiliation accounts only for the state's color on some nighttime news map then that's all we're voting for--our favorite color.
If that's what the governor's race has become we're little better off than Sir Galahad approaching the Bridge of Death (November's elections) in Monty Python's Holy Grail. No matter how we answer, blue or red, we may be cast into the Gorge of Eternal Peril, or economic backwaters--unless one of our candidates differentiates themselves with honest dialog. We're adults. We can take it.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Wednesday's Opinion Journal included an excellent piece by Glenn Harlan Reynolds describing how legal and societal attitudes have made parenting increasingly discouraging and discouraged.
It makes a similar point (though better written) as this blog's Why I'm OK with same-sex marriage. Specifically, that parents perform a function different from and more necessary to society than childless couples. There's little sense improving the prospects of our posterity if there isn't a posterity to improve for.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
"If they are lucky, the thief may not realize the value of the stolen file, and it won't be used by criminals to drain veterans' bank accounts or borrow money in their names."That is probably the first thing that went through my mind. A laptop is stolen by someone who only wants the laptop, but before it's been fenced or otherwise disposed of they discover it contains the names and social security numbers of millions of US Veterans. Which is the better approach; announcing to the thief he possesses million of names and social security numbers worth a lot more than the laptop, or not announcing it for a couple weeks and informing the veterans directly? Obviously, the theft would eventually be publicized, but might the veterans' privacy been better protected if the laptop's contents had been kept secret for as long as possible? In this and other damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don't dilemmas the better choice may make itself obvious if we're willing to risk bad publicity later for doing the right thing sooner.
My home was broken-in to once and in an upstairs office there were two computer devices. One was a $200 dumb-terminal and the other was a $2000 computer. It isn't without an appreciation for irony that I tell you they took the dumb terminal.
It matters little how much money they got for it, but it matters in this case because what's inside the laptop is more valuable to some than the laptop itself. Now that everyone knows what's inside the authorities won't be the only ones looking for it--and that is not a good thing.
Giving more money to universities will turn-around Michigan's economy. That is the essence of Michael Boulus' rebuttal to Jack McHugh's editorial, "Let money follow students, not lobbyists."
What's interesting is how Mr. Boulus, Executive Director of the Presidents Council of State Universities of Michigan, accidentally buttresses the original argument by stating, "The states with the higher per capita incomes in our nation are those with the most college graduates -- not the states with the lowest taxes." This is an important point because it focuses on the one education's goals: graduation, and not what the state's universities think it is, higher professor salaries and fancy buildings funded with tax-payer-supported tuitions. If we accept the argument that increasing the number of college graduates is important to Michigan's economic revitalization, then we should focus on better preparing students for college so they may succeed and graduate--wherever they attend college.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
In her newsletter, Jacobs said:
“We have long been advocating for a Southeast Michigan transportation system that would be a model of regional transportation, while lessening our dependence on mid-east oil,” Jacobs said. “It’s time to move forward on the issue of public transportation so we can compete with other states for the jobs and commerce that have eluded us. In addition, the funding would provide needed road improvements.”That's all well and good, but this approach is bad for three reasons. First, raising money for mass transit shouldn't require changing the state's constitution. Michigan's constitution should address important things like how government works, asserting the equality of its citizens, equal protection, the limits of government, and other big ideas deserving a permanent address in a document intended to stand the test of time. It's not a bulletin board for political Post-its®.
Next, the State, much less South Eastern Michigan, doesn't have a mass transit plan. None. In fact, no one has even waxed John F. Kennedy and put a stake in the ground. Raising money for a plan that doesn't exist is irresponsible. That kind of irresponsibility is the product of acting before you think. As excited as Ferndale's city manager, Tom Barwin, may be about mass transit he should bottle his nervous energy and use it for the business at hand--like preserving funding for the city's fire and police departments, reigning in inspectors to stop hassling homeowners improving whole neighborhoods by improving their homes and encouraging inspectors to use their powers for good by citing owners of dilapidated and unkempt homes. Don't bother wasting gas looking for missing handrails when some homes can't even be seen behind overgrown shrubs, grass, and long-parked cars.
Lastly, why use a sales tax to fund transportation? Thinking governments use tax policy to influence behavior they want to encourage or discourage. Want people to quit smoking? Raise taxes on cigarettes. Want people to have more children or take care of aging relatives? Increase the per-dependent deduction. What kind of behavior does raising sales tax discourage? In the proposal offered by Jacobs and Braker it discourages shopping in Oakland County. I bet Oakland County retailers are thrilled about that. Not only has state government failed to provide relief from the Single Business Tax (SBT), now the state wants their customers to shop in other counties! It's fascinating, isn't it?
Paying $3/gallon may cause legislators discomfort in the billfold (or purse), but apparently it isn't the mother of invention we hoped it would be. It hasn't brought our governments together to fashion a plan. It's too early to know whether people will move closer to the office or stop driving low gas-mileage vehicles. Heck, we don't even live close enough to each other to carpool.
The state is still planning to spend $600+ million to widen I-75! Now that's a gas-saving idea.
Contact your state legislators and make sure they know it's a bad idea. It's possible that with all the knee jerking we're reading about they're suffering Restless Legislator Syndrome (RLS) and need a slap upside the head to pop them out of it.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Of course, don't spend too much time there cause I'd rather have you here. Come back soon!
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Jody Heymann is looking out for mothers. In her alternate reality working mothers in the US should be treated differently from other employees. More time off, more flexibility, higher pay. What she ignores in her little world is mothers, and perhaps all women, will find it harder to find jobs as their cost to employers compared to other candidates will favor, well, everyone who isn't a woman of child-bearing age.
True, all the countries she mentions in her article treat mothers better than we do. But America doesn't categorize people and treat them differently or favor one class of person over another. Strike that. Let me rephrase that as "America isn't supposed to categorize..," but that's an article for another time.
Ms. Heymann doesn't seem to recognize small companies, where most people are employed, are seriously affected by the absence of an employee where absences make a difference. Or that by having shorter maternity leaves women may be more employable. Only the Scroogiest employers wouldn't want to give mothers all they want and more, but they have a business to run and that business pays other people so they can feed their families.
Or that mothers in America get to keep more of their pay than working mothers in France or Germany? And that by keeping more of their paycheck they're able to afford more than working mothers in other countries? They're able to wear nicer clothes inside bigger cars with more features and park in a two-car garages attached to a two-story homes on their own property in a top-rated school district which is why, after all, both mom and dad work anyway--they're chasing school districts.
But that wouldn't be towing the feminist line, now, would it?
The article teases us with how better to treat mothers but it's really about giving everybody more paid time-off and makes apples-to-oranges comparison between the US and economic power-houses like Iceland (that was sarcasm for you recent graduates that didn't notice).
Maternity, breast-feeding breaks, sick leave, early childhood education and after-school programs: in Ms. Heymann's opinion these are the benefits the US should give working moms. With these in hand, Ms. Heymann believes,
[The] United States could be truly competitive in the most meaningful sense, and "Happy Mother's Day" would be more than just another myth.What she misses is the myth of the stay-at-home parent. You've probably seen them on TV. One of a pair of parents that decided raising their own children with their values was their responsibility and more meaningful than outsourcing or getting the ultimate in high-fashioned conveniences, an au pair (the trendy word for nanny). The may even save enough money on parking, work clothes, lunches, taxes and skipping the wet nurse to afford to send their 1.6 kids to private school!
Happy Mother's Day!