Monday, February 28, 2011

Want Government Health Care? Canada Shows us the Way

So you want national health care, do you? And you want to use the Canadian system as an example? Well, then, here's a fine example of what that means: the Province of Ontario has said that a thirteen month old baby with a terminal condition must be allowed to die rather than receive a tracheotomy. Basically, the doctors at the hospital in London, Ontario where the child is have decided that it was pointless. Ontario's Consent and Capacity board agrees.

Granted, the case is apparently headed for further review, as the parents of the baby disagree with the recommendation. It is now headed to the Ontario Public Guardian, whoever or whatever that is; but do you not notice how Big Brother the very titles of those government bodies read?

A tracheotomy does not appear to be all that difficult or costly of a procedure, and all the parents want to do (all they want to do sounds downright eerie in context, don't you think?) is have something done so that they may take their child home for the remainder of his life. They were, ahem, allowed the procedure for a daughter a few years back. Why not now?

Unless we are talking about the public's money being wasted. And what else can we be talking about?

To be sure, we here in the bad old U S of A hear all about the evil insurance companies who won't pay for certain medical procedures. Why are not we hearing so much about the evil Provincial Government in Ontario? Who do you fight when the leaders are against you? Who watches the watchers? Because any attempt to assure us that this won't happen here, that 'safeguards' will be put in place, can only be turning a blind eye to the events within the borders of our nearest neighbor. Any reasoning that we can stop such human rights abuses must now ring hollow.

How this will play is yet to be seen. But the simple fact that it is happening should be a wake up call to those who want the government telling us who can get health care, when, and how. That will happen here, my friends, once we're on the road to government health care of any type. And we will have no recourse when it does.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Zeal Must Be Tempered Within the Pro-life Movement.

A proposed Georgia law, if it is being understood correctly, would call a woman to task if she suffered a miscarriage. Unless, that is, she could prove that the incident had occurred beyond the scope of human action. In short, and again, we must say that if we understand things properly, a woman who had a miscarriage would have to prove she did no wrong.

Right off the reel, it seems that such laws would violate the innocent until proven guilty assumption which is supposedly at the heart of our system of justice. Yet that is surely an easily altered section of the bill. When the big picture is considered, when we hear ideas of this nature, our first thoughts quickly move towards how these proposals might affect the pro-life movement. That effect cannot be good.

That a willful miscarriage would qualify as an abortion cannot be denied. But to put a woman in the position of defending a miscarriage simply because it was a miscarriage must be seen a nothing more than a witch hunt. The trauma which such an awful event would have on a woman expecting to have a baby must be understood in order to fully appreciate it. That trauma cannot be good, of course. To then add the threat of prosecution to the horror she would have already went through is nothing short of vulgar.

That does not mean that government actions supporting contraceptive use is any less vulgar. That does not mean that real and true abortions are not on their very face willful murder and ought to be stopped. But it does mean that, in their zeal to end abortion on demand, the actions of pro-life activists and legislators must be tempered by reason.

This type of legislation is exactly the kind of initiative which will not help the pro-life movement. It does indeed paint the anti-abortion crowd as lecherous souls leering into every bedroom. Indeed, it threatens the movement in ways and manners of which we should hope that a rational soul would have taken notice: if it embeds the practice of abortion all the more within our society through any substantive counter-reaction, then the blood of those children aborted in the future would in truth be on their hands.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

It Will Always Be the Same.

"For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."

Today baseball begins. Today at 1:05 in Dunedin, Florida, the Detroit Tigers begin their Grapefruit League play against the Toronto Blue Jays. And before the broadcast, I have to believe that we will hear the Voice of the Tigers, Ernie Harwell, recite the above quote from the Song of Solomon. It will be from a recording, of course, as we lost Ernie last May.

It would be so easy to say that baseball will never be the same. Yet we know he wouldn't tell us that. We know he would not want us to feel that way. The game goes on, life goes on, the Earth still spins. And baseball will still be played.

Ernie would want that. So we should want that.

It is my first season without him, and it will be bittersweet. But the game goes on, and he goes on. Things are as they should be.

God bless you, Ernie.

Friday, February 25, 2011

What are Moderates Really?

New polling suggests pretty heavily that the Democrats and President Barack Obama need the so-called moderate vote in order to win elections, while the GOP can rely on the conservative vote quite readily. This can be interpreted in several ways, but perhaps the most insightful is this: moderates aren't really moderates, as a group, but, rather, lean towards more traditional and familiar thoughts whenever in doubt.

That makes sense, in the end. For when there is a crisis, don't most people act based on what they know? When President Reagan was elected back in 1980 to stem the tide of Democratic and hence more liberal leadership, what was his appeal? To make America great again, based on the traditional American values of individualism and hard work. When the GOP ran the tide last November, what was the big question: nothing less than obtrusive, interfering government trampling the rights of the people.

The moderates responded as they knew how, by throwing out those who did not support real American values. That's why conservatives don't have to appeal too overtly to the presumed middle: they aren't actually in the center after all. They are in fact more moderate to conservative rather than being between the left and the right as they are generally portrayed.

Given the fact that so few people, about 20 percent or one in five, call themselves liberal, and it seems that what we truly have in our nation today is an overall aversion to liberalism. Even the presumed center appears to harbor similar doubts about the left, seeing as the Democrats need to get about 60% of the middle of the road vote to win major elections. It is a telling statistic, and does not bode well for any long term success for the party of Jefferson and Jackson.

Of course, the Democratic Party left the beliefs of those American stalwarts behind eons ago. But that is a tale for another time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Human Rights and Wrongs

It is not unusual in America today to hear people bandying about their rights. Sadly, this typically involves pressing for rights which do not in fact exist. These are people attempting to expand the sphere of rights into areas where there can be no rational conversation, no logical expansion or existence of whatever type of 'rights' are presumed to exist.

Take gay rights for example. Does anyone really have a right to act in a manner which is incongruent with natural law? No. Likewise, it is wrong to think that an atrocity such as assisted suicide should be allowed. What person, knowing in their hearts that they had no say in being put here on Earth can reasonably conclude, outside of the very noble concept of laying down one's life for family or friends (and such folks are generally not trying to die so much as willing to accept that they might well die in protecting others), can reasonably argue that they have a right to determine when they leave?

Animal rights are another area where rationality is thrown out the window. Not that we have any right to maltreat animals of course. But as an old priest once told me, "You show me an animal with responsibilities and we'll talk about an animal with rights".

This is a statement which puts issues of rights in the proper context. We have no right which does not spring from a responsibility we hold. I have the right to compete fairly in the job and housing markets but I have a responsibility to care for myself and my family. I have the right to choose which schools to send my kids to because I have an obligation to see to their education. I have the right to own property because I have the need to develop a stable environment for those near to me. There is not a right which does not emanate from a responsibility.

Those who argue that they have a right to act on a homosexual impulse simply because they are born that way are being irrational; I have a tendency towards bad temper yet when I act that out I am told, rightly enough, that I need to get over it. Those who argue that animals have rights are talking nonsense: is there any evidence that animals are acting on a thought out moral code, a feeling of obligation, rather than plain old instinct? Do you actually have a right to leave when you were given no option on coming by in the first place?

We are human beings. We have human rights by virtue of that humanity and nothing else. When we are speaking outside of that context we have stepped into a void. It is in that darkness where the faux rights dwell. Quite naturally, there we cannot see properly.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wal-Mart pictures: an Invasion of Privacy?

An Ypsilanti woman is upset that a picture of her mother shopping at a local store has appeared on a website dedicated to taking and posting photographs of shoppers at Wal-Mart. Needless to say, the most potentially embarrassing pictures are the ones most likely to appear on the site.

Melanie Wheeler doesn't like it, and who can blame her? It goes beyond the fact that the picture in question is her mother and into questions of privacy even in public areas. Why does anybody feel they have the right to take semi-random photos of those around them, to then post them on the Internet?

To be sure, many people wear clothes designed to draw attention to themselves. It is probably fair to say that those folks don't mind the practice. But that reason hardly excuses the process of actively seeking people who may be dressed, well, in less than complementary fashion and making them public on a worldwide stage. Especially if all they are doing is shopping.

That some people are easy targets for the gawkers of our land rather misses the point. We could debate forever about what type of clothing suits whom, and there's no doubt that fashion sense is lacking among many citizens (we are not intending to besmirch the woman in question here, as we have not and will not look up her picture). We also readily concede that many folks simply need to dress with greater care for themselves and with better regard for the fact that they will be in a public setting. Still, taking and publishing pictures of the unknowing and unwilling simply as an attempt at humor is, to say the least, merely childish and sophomoric. A decent respect for others, even if they do not appear to merit it, ought by itself to discourage the practice.

At the risk of sounding like your mother, would you want your mother treated that way? Then perhaps we as a society need to stop encouraging such behavior.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

General and Special Interests

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is on strike. That is not news to metro Detroiters, and likely not a big story nationwide. Still, it affords a chance to examine an issue which is rarely discussed. That is, what are general interests, what are special interests, and how each ought to be supported.

It has been accepted since the beginning of the Republic that the government should only be involved with general interests. What that traditionally entailed were things such as military protection and police powers, uniform weights and measures as well as currency, and so forth. It was a rather short to do list. That list has nonetheless been expanded upon over time, and not necessarily wrongly. The need for clean air and water, for example, particularly as industrialism developed, became the province of government, and quite properly. But the main point is that government ought to only get involved in the things of the interest to society writ large: the general interest.

That began to change as government on many levels became interested in things such as parks, museums, indeed the arts in, uh, general, as well as many other areas at first not within its realm. We can of course debate what and where exactly government obligations may lie, and at what level, but it is surely a reasonable argument that governments ought to be slow to have parks and arts in their spheres. Why? Those who want to camp ought to bear the full cost of camping; likewise those concerned with the arts ought to be the ones supporting them. Why? Because they are the ones who want them, and the general public ought not be supporting what are essentially private activities and interests.

If we are truly concerned about and want to reduce government expenditures (and taxes) we must first become more involved in what is of the general and the special interest and see that governments act only on the former. For the record, I do not this minute know whether the DSO for example gets any government funding, but that does not matter to the issue at hand. If it does, it should not, and if it doesn't, then all is as it should be. The bottom line though is simple enough: governments should only spend money on things which benefit everyone at least roughly equally. Anything more is simply the strong (by that it must be understood those who hold political power) forcing the weak to support what they may not care to and should not be expected to when left to their devices. If we began spending only to the general interest, we may be shocked at how much spending can be cut, and how many dollars could be left in the wallets of all.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Presidents Day

Toady is, of course, Presidents Day. We are expected to celebrate our Presidents, even the ones who weren't that good or memorable. And we do that at the expense of the ones who truly do merit a certain reverence. Washington, Lincoln: you guys are as good as Millard Fillmore of James Buchanan.

That attitude is simply wrong. It does not aid our history and it does not honor the honorable. Indeed, it rather belittles the ones who deserve mention. It is a holiday which we ought to rethink.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

China Holds the Cards

The revolution seems to be spreading. Chinese authorities have moved to stop the so-called 'Jasmine Revolution' presumably modeled, on a quieter scale, after the open protests which have been rampant throughout the Middle East.

What does this mean? For starters, that no matter how much Beijing may attempt to keep its people down, even to the point of westernizing to a certain degree, it cannot keep all information about the outside world under control. The Chinese citizenry have apparently heard about Tunisia and Egypt and Yemen. Yet as the experience of everyday Chinese citizens has no doubt shown them, popular uprisings are more subject to be brutally crushed in their homeland. They must play a stealthier game.

Yet of all the, well, what we must hope are movements towards democracy now occurring around the globe, any new initiatives within China to open its internal policies in favor of greater human freedom must be seen as the most critical. There isn't a nation in the Arabic world where internal changes would mean as much to the long term health of the Earth's nations as a democratic, pro-West China would offer.

This is most surely not meant to denounce the movements within the Middle Eastern sphere. The people of those nations have the right to the same to basic human freedoms as anyone else. Still, they do not harbor within them the possibility of a true and lasting worldwide peace which a positive change within the Chinese leadership can. They have oil, and little more. China has size, and a brute military potential which does not exist anywhere else except here in the US, and perhaps Russia.

It is important to support all those who fight for real and true freedom. But the fact is that, on the world stage, size matters. China has what Yemen and Bahrain, and even Egypt and Algeria, do not. And that is the potential to make any and all movements towards human rights anywhere, moot.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wisconsin: More Liberal Hypocrisy

Democratic state senators in Wisconsin have fled the state rather than do their duty as the elected representatives of their various districts within the Badger State. They have done so in order to keep the ruling Republicans from passing a bill cutting the power of the unions there.

This is precisely what happens when politics become about groups rather than persons, about certain segments of the population rather than the individuals whose taxes pay them. It is no great principled stance by Wisconsin Democrats but, rather, an example of how politicians kowtow to interest groups who generally support them. They don't care about what's right for their state but, instead, about the groups who will vote for them: in this case, the public workers' unions. And that is what makes the entire episode particularly galling: we have a segment of the government acting solely for the benefit of the government.

Governments and their employees do not exist for their own sake but for the sake of the folks who foot the bill. What Wisconsin Democrats are doing ignores that, yet it is a typically liberal reaction: fighting democracy when it goes against their will. We've seen it with Obamacare, we've seen it when Democrats attempted to run from Texas rather than accept defeat on a redistricting bill there in 2003, indeed we see it virtually every time a Democrat does not get their way. They run to the courts, into the streets, and in your way, all for the sake of their power. Liberals love democracy...until they don't agree with what it demands. The sheer hypocrisy of that attitude alone ought to keep them out of their various legislative seats should the nation ever fully recognize that.

Republicans did not flee Washington over Obamacare; rather, they fought it, content to let the next election do their talking (which it did so well). Yet the Democrats won't do the same. They seem more happy acting like King Arthur and his knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: they scream 'run away' and hide when the going gets tough. Let us hope that America takes proper notice.

Friday, February 18, 2011

We Are All Role Models

Miguel Cabrera, the first baseman for the Detroit Tigers, has been arrested on a charge of drunk driving. This is the second incident in about a year and half which involves the slugger and alcohol. It also brings forth a myriad of questions.

Is he sick? What kind of help does he need? If he needs help and is willing to accept it, he should of course get it. Yet we must be careful about calling a problem with alcohol a disease. That kind of thinking can very easily be used to assert that he has no personality responsibility with regards to what he drinks. The man may need help, but he cannot be written a blank check on his actions either.

What should the Tigers do about the situation? Well, again, help him if he will take it. Some question whether he should be suspended from the team. That should not be ruled out. Like it or not, a star of Cabrera's caliber more than many other given individual owes something to the organization he represents, and to the fans. He is a role model and must be made aware of that. He is called to act better, and nothing less than that.

The fact is that we are all role models to one degree or another. Athletes, fairly or not (and we are wont to argue fairly) are held to higher standards, are judged by higher values than the majority of the people. They should be, because they are a form of hero, whether they want to be or not. It is difficult to imagine that that hero worship is not in truth sought by the modern athlete. as such, he cannot claim no obligation in return towards the ones who look up to them.

Hopefully Mr. Cabrera will work all that out, for his own good as much as the for the good of people who know and admire him. Perhaps this latest escapade will remind of him of who he really is, and help him to live to that standard more fully and completely.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Snyder's Budget is not Outlandish

Governor Rick Snyder has proposed his first budget for the State of Michigan, proposing permanent cuts of around $1.2 billion dollars in a plan he defended as shared sacrifice. Schools and seniors, as well as state employees and localities, are being asked to make forms of concessions in order to make Michigan financially sound.

When you are losing people, you lose tax income. Michigan, being the only state which lost population in the 2010 Census, is hurt by that as well as the malaise of the larger economy. Sometimes you just have to cut, and Snyder is taking the correct approach that as many as possible should share the burden. Where he will surely be criticized the harshest will come in the areas of seniors and the schools. He is proposing that senior pensions be subject to tax, and he is asking for K-12 funding to be cut 4% while seeking a 15% cut from public universities.

Those ideas are not outlandish by any stretch of the imagination. Seniors statistically are the wealthiest in the population, and surely anybody can find waste and redundancy amounting to one twenty-fifth of their spending. And while a 15% slice from college funding may seem deep, part of the trouble there is that we have to think too highly of university training. A bachelor's degree has become the new GED, yet commonsense tells us that far too many jobs which currently demand college in truth do not merit such high requirements. What we need, quite frankly, is to stop making university such a big deal. The schools will surely survive anyway.

In all, the Governor's budget is a mix of cuts, what amounts to tax increases, and the elimination and/or privatization of state jobs. What it will be in the end remains to be seen, but it seems a fair balance of pain at this point.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Requiring Proof of Citizenship

There are apparently many people who believe that Barack Obama is not qualified to be the President of the United States on the grounds that he is not a natural born citizen. The point brings about several interesting questions.

What inspires them? Obviously, that they for whatever reason (and there are many, some not defensible, to be sure) do not want Mr. Obama to be the nation's Chief Executive. Yet while that in itself is a laudable goal, they are almost certainly barking up a tree. The President is going to be our President until at least January 2013, and they may as well make up their minds to it. No one is about to make a move to remove him from office, no matter what proof or lack thereof which might exist.

But what may the most pertinent outcome of all this babble is in the fact that at least ten states are considering laws calling on presidential aspirants to prove that they are in fact natural born citizens of the United States before they can be on the ballot in those locales. Liberals are trying to dismiss this movement as 'birther' nonsense aimed at disrupting the electoral process.

Whatever one may think of the birthers and their quest, that particular idea really should not be a big deal. There isn't a thing wrong with insisting that those who want to work from the Oval Office meet the constitutional requirements for the job. It does no good to dismiss such initiatives on the grounds that they are little more than attacks on the current President. They may well be driven by the motive to remove him from office, but that does not mean that it isn't a fair question to ask candidates to produce their credentials. We little folk have to do that all the time, and for much lighter reasons than becoming President. There is, then, no reason that we should not be secure in the knowledge that whoever is our leader meets the standards of holding the job.

The birthers mat well be wrong in their insistence that Barack Obama does not fit the Constitutional bill to be President. But it would be a simple thing to mandate requirements which would, in the future, resolve all doubts to such questions. The birthers, nor anyone else, are not being particularly outlandish to demand them. If you must criticize them, at least don't knock them where they are right.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bahrain: More Middle Eastern Disquiet

Another Middle Eastern nation has lapsed into protest against its rulers. The island nation of Bahrain has seen massive protests in recent days, seeking political reform in the style of several of her neighbors.

This unsettling trend, while it will perhaps be worthwhile in the long run, may spell trouble when one looks at the big picture. Instability in the area cannot help oil prices, and too much of a spike with them cannot help any resurgence of the US and world economies. Israel too must be looking at the events with a troubled eye, as unrest cannot help her already tense relations with the nearby Arabic states. Toss in the fact that US Navy's 5th Fleet is stationed in Bahrain, and we have an important national security issue at hand.

This is not to be unsympathetic to the people of the nations in question, nor to their friends and supporters here in the Metro Detroit area who still maintain the bonds of kinship with their former countries. It is fair also to recognize that, if necessary change is to affect us, we may have to simply accept it in good grace so long as our interests are not violated. In the end, as with the recent events in Egypt and Tunisia, caution is required. Hopefully the reformers in the various nations will practice that as well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Quiet Taps

The Detroit Historical Museum has been hosting the traveling Vietnam Wall for Michigan, supported by a veteran's group out of Mt Clemens. It is a smaller wall with only the names of those from Michigan killed in the conflict. The great care with which the men and women honor the fallen from our state is well evident through both the memorial they have created and maintain, and through their willingness to help veterans new and old in their transfer back to civilian life.

Yet though the wall itself is sobering, the most intriguing part of their display was a single place setting set out to remember our Prisoners of War and the Missing in Action. It was a table set off to itself with the American flag and the flags of each service surrounding the memorial. The table held a Bible and a complete food service, with plates, a glass, a chair, and eating utensils, each set up to symbolize particular aspects of the trials and hopes of those lost to us and their loved ones.

Salt alone was scattered on the main dinner plate, to symbolize the tears of those who wait for the return of the POWs or discovery of the MIAs.

A lemon wedge was on the bread plate to symbolize the bitterness of the situation for the unfound soldiers and sailors, and their families and friends.

A single red rose reminds us that we must keep the faith for their return.

A single candle is lit to help illuminate their way home.

The wine glass is inverted, because the person cannot be there to toast with us.

Most importantly, the chair is empty, for the soldier isn't there.

A veteran explained that every dining hall at every military base is expected to have such a memorial, in tribute to those who have served or fallen and are not with us, or somehow, sadly, unknown to us.

Of all the items at the Museum for this Vietnam tribute, that was the most moving. It was there to remind us of one critical point, one single duty which we each have to the POWs and MIAs of our own and our allies.

Never Forget.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egypt's Popular Uprising: the Great Unknown

Note: This is in response to a blog comment, but I think it is interesting enough to recount here. Please feel free to ask about whatever indefinite points you may find herein.

-Charles Martin Cosgriff



"In the long run, the next Egyptian leader will be the one who best captures the imagination of the Egyptian people. Or who comes to control the power in that nation. And who that may be, we simply do not know."

I suppose it's a good thing ......there's such a strong call for amending the Egyptian constitution as well then, isn't there? ;)"

Well, the answer apparently is yes. But that yet begs the question of who will actually see to it, and how. I really do not see how the mere removal of a dictator insures a positive outcome (I know you recognize that too); as has been said many times in this thread, I must respectfully submit that the evidence of history indicates that the more likely outcome with any given popular revolt is simply a new despotism. One disposed to writing its own constitution in its own favor, so to speak.

I'm afraid that I must disagree with regard to positive change coming from bottom up when popular uprisings are at play. The desire of the crowd, any crowd, is really rather indefinite; in this case, they hated Mubarak, and rightly so. But does the crowd truly grasp what it wants in place of him? Do the protesters really want what is objectively best for Egypt?

I rather believe that the will of the people needs to be harnessed by people who share the deepest feelings of the crowd yet know how to organize with respect to their (hopefully proper) desires. For a crowd ultimately is just a group of people, and groups don't lead: individuals do.

At the risk of stirring the pot again, what made the American Revolution successful was not the will of the people by itself but the coordination of that will by and through people who had a reasonably clear idea of what they wanted and how to get it. One hopes and prays that the Egyptian people fall into that category. At the end of the day, that's the best we can offer. Yet history is on the side of the skeptics.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Keep Cutting the Budget

The House Republican majority continues to press for significant budget cuts in recent days. In all, they are asking for around $60 billion in cuts before the possible shutdown of the federal government on March 4th.

Despite the apocalyptic scenario painted by the defenders of big government (and as such, the attackers of human freedom), a shutdown of Washington wouldn't be all that bad. Still, the most likely outcome of the latest round of budget bargaining will be a continuing resolution which will allow the federal establishment to continue spending at its current rates. Why? Because the Democrats still control the Senate and the White House.

We cannot say often enough that this is precisely why the GOP must continue to press for these and deeper cuts so long as the party at least controls the House. Between now and November 2012 the Republican Party must show that it means business and, further, means what it says about reducing government at the national level. It must show the people of the several states that it offers a real and true, viable option to the taxers and spenders who make up the Democratic party and the liberal left who insist on cultivating and growing the leviathan in Washington.

Where are the cuts proposed? Education, which should be none of the concern of the federalists at all. NASA, which, though it has indeed produced some of the glories of American ingenuity, must be seen as of questionable import to our future. The Arts, which are, quite bluntly, not a government concern at any level. Even things such as rent assistance, which, while not necessarily beyond the province of good government, are surely not so at the national construct of out Constitutional scheme.

Washington has overreached itself and must be reigned in. Remember that as you observe the events of the coming days. The GOP must keep that at the forefront too, if it is to reclaim the mantle of defender of freedom and of the people.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

DPS Failure: Whose System is at fault?

The Detroit Public Schools are facing yet another obstacle in the drive to prove themselves worthy of approval. There are allegations which have recently come out which assert that there has been grade fixing somewhere, somehow within the system.

Marjorie Pasqualle a science teacher at Durfee Elementary School, assigned over 90 D's and F's to students last year, only to find many of them changed to C's somewhere along the line. She retired because it was suggested to her that it was her teaching and not the behavior of the students nor their lack of overall structure which would lead so many to perform below standard. It was hinted that she would be terminated on that basis. At least one other teacher has asserted that her grades were altered after she had turned them in.

This is a fine kettle of fish, but first things first: in an area such as Detroit, it is often or even usually unfair to blame the instructors for the lack of decent student performance - as a rule. Contrary to the assertions of many education professionals, not everyone can or is willing to learn, and that fact must be faced when dealing with any realistic measure of teacher performance. That isn't to say that teacher proficiency cannot be somehow measured, but only that all mitigating factors must be weighed into the matter if we are to reach any just conclusion at all. For the either students or their instructors.

It is almost certain that the reason for the grade changes was to help keep schools eligible for funding, or within the standards expected through government regulation and oversight. This is not to condemn government's legitimate role in our schools, but to point out all the more that justice must be measured within the realm of all pertinent factors, and not based solely on student performance.

The DPS is investigating, and well it should. Those who have violated the law in the matter (altering student records is a misdemeanor) must be suitable disciplined. Yet in the meantime, we do need to revisit our demands on our teachers and our schools.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Keep Pushing

The Republican controlled House of Representatives has recently proposed attacks on the abortion issue in two ways: by eliminating certain tax breaks, and by restricting the use of government funding of abortions. Neither move is expected to pass, as the liberals control the Senate.

But the symbolism cannot be more important at this time. The GOP must show to the American people that they are different than their Democratic counterparts. This is surely an issue which would demonstrate that, along with the health care questions which got the Republicans in control of the House in the first place.

We are in a less than two year window which should give conservatives the opportunity to show the citizens where we stand and what we intend to do. Once the American voting public sees that we really mean what we say and begin to understand how positive of a change it would make in their lives, then the Presidency and the Senate shall easily become ours in November 2012. From there, the right wing could set itself up as the dominate wing of American politics for generations.

If they remember their roots. They did not between 200-2008 and paid dearly. The GOP renaissance of 2010 essentially still agrees with them. This is not the time to test their patience but to reward it by showing we mean business. Particularly on the life issue.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Turning the Channel: It's not that Simple

I watched for what I am telling myself the Fox network shows Family Guy, the Cleveland Show, and American Dad for the last time. They are simply too crude and vulgar for the taste of anyone with an ounce of respect for other people. So I am using my option of turning the channel from here forward.

The trouble is that response doesn’t come near to recognizing the whole problem. No one should put garbage that offensive on the air, and no one ought to watch it. Yet when I protest that, I am yelled at shrilly about free speech and to turn off the TV then if I don’t want to see it. That’s all well and good...for me. It says nothing about the makers’ of such shows obligation to me or other prospective viewers.

Like it or not, folks, you do have an obligation to the general society to keep things clean, and to be respectful of the legitimate concerns of the individual. He has a right, and no less than that, to not be offended when it comes to things truly offensive. Merely turning off the TV does not address that question: it begs it.

I would like to ask the Seth McFarlanes of the world if I have an obligation to help, say, the poor. If he says that I do, then I have the right to ask him about his obligations towards me. Because if I have obligations outside of myself, then so does he. Conversely, if he has no obligations to me, then I likewise have none towards others. That’s the real question: do I owe something to humanity or not, and on what grounds?

It’s the question which does not get asked when the media (and cartooning on network television is as much part of the media as a news show) want what they want. Their silence on the matter speaks volumes.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Alternative Education

A local school district has taken up the problem of what to do about dropouts. Nothing new there, except that the dropouts they are concerned with are those leaving the Alternative High School the district supports. In the words of an administrator, “We are looking for an alternative to alternative education.”

Now, you really should not be snickering at that. It happens all the time in education: every one must be educated, willing or not, and if we can only just find the way to reach them they will become educated.

Right. The education establishment refuses to accept that some young folks simply will not be educated. That isn’t necessarily the fault of educators; indeed it’s likely not the fault of theirs in the overwhelming majority of cases. But it is pig headed to think that everyone will learn. That attitude simply forces us to keep students in the system who should not be there yet are, to the detriment of those really trying to learn and the teachers really trying to teach.

Yes, state and federal laws (think No Child Left Behind, that onerous boondoggle of W’s) compel us to such nonsense. Yet a lot of that was brought on in the long term by the education elite who promised the education of every single student. You got what you asked for, guys. Deal with it.

Unless you can find an alternative to that.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reagan at 100

Former President Ronald Reagan would have been 100 today. That being the case, there have been and will be many tributes written about him, both the man and the myth. Indeed, there doesn't seem to be much which can be added to what has already been said and done.

That his influence on American and world history has been great and that his legend will continue to grow is without question. If there was another world leader in the 1900s who may have outshone him, though we doubt this will continue through time even if currently true, it would be Franklin Roosevelt. No rational list of the great Presidents would be right if it did not include Reagan in the top ten, or, more properly, in the top five. He made us believe in ourselves after a very rough patch in our history. America was said to be in decline; if so, Reagan brought us from the ashes.

True, he wasn't perfect. But what's the point in dwelling on that now? Every one of us could have and should have done better with what opportunities we have had. Facing the pressures he faced and coming through them with good grace, the more important remembrance is that he accomplished great things, often against great odds. He stood by and for certain ideals and kept our eyes focused on those. If along the way he had to cut deals with the devil, well, that's more on the devil than on him in the end. We are far better off for having him than not, and we need to keep that in mind.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hecklers at Speeches

Does the First Amendment apply to hecklers? That is a question facing a group of students, administrators, and law enforcement officials at the University of California at Irvine. It springs from verbal barbs thrown last year towards Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren by a group of Muslim students while he spoke on campus. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is considering pressing charges against the group.

The first thing which must be said is that heckling is just plain rude. Further, if the only way to get your point across is by drowning out the other guy, then it must argued that your own point cannot be very compelling on its own merits. Yet these are not the real issue here. The real issue is whether free speech rights go that far.

They do not. Beyond the rather compelling irony involved in trying to defend freedom of speech by denying it to another, no one has the inherent right to say whatever they want whenever they want. There are times when simple courtesy demands that you sit down and shut up when someone else is talking, even or perhaps especially when you disagree with them. There are times when a genuine public safety question is at hand (the fire in a crowded theater scenario) and others where the right to free speech simply does not exist. The Constitution may well protect your right to express your opinions publicly, but I have every right to stifle that expression on my property.

The public university is not a place where that idea can be tossed aside lightly. What happens within its confines still essentially private, and as such the school has the right to censor certain activities and expressions inside its territory.

We are not arguing that the so-called Irvine 11 should face criminal penalty, as the University appears to have acted rationally in dealing with them. But we do say that true freedom of speech questions do not apply in the manner which their defenders are attempting to frame them. Freedom of Speech is simply not absolute.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Reporters in Egypt

The events in Egypt have certainly taken a frightening turn. That in itself is bad enough, for the sake of the Egyptian people. No matter how justified, revolutions tends to make things worse before they get better. If they get better at all.

Add into this scramble the threats against foreign reporters in the country. Anderson Cooper was attacked. An ABC News crew thought they were going to be beheaded. A Greek correspondent was stabbed, and many other journalists have found themselves in dire straits. The alleged cause is that Egypt is trying to create a news blackout, so that the government can make whatever moves it deems fit.

Perhaps. And if true, and it surely wouldn't be surprising if this were the case, then we have a further condemnation of the Mubarak administration. But the unasked and yet arguably most pertinent question is: what are they there for anyway?

To make the story public to the world, one supposes. Yet while that is a seemingly noble inspiration, are journalists obliged to put themselves at risk to get a story? Ought we, as a news craved nation, consider that maybe it isn't worth these folks putting themselves at such odds just to keep us glued to CNN?

Or is the truth even deeper and more questionable? Is it the drive for ratings and recognition by the various news sources and the desire for glory and affirmation among the individual reporters what truly guides their actions?

Jeffrey Schneider, a vice president at ABC News, assures us that all precautions are being taken for the safety of their employees. We can, of course, or at least should, take that for granted. But it still begs the question of whether they should be there at all.

It also does not address the issue of whether they hurt more than they help. As reporters become targets, it is at least arguable that they become more part of the problem than the solution, especially in areas where they cannot necessarily rely on the aid of their own people in the form of their home governments if they need it.

Is it the simple arrogance of the press which leads to these decisions? They do seem to feel that they are the demigods of human events with the right to go wherever whenever when they smell a story. It is not a mantle which they wear well.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The President and Adolf Hitler

A group of South Dakota legislators have proposed that every one in that fair state over the age of 21 own a gun. The most immediate response is to jeer, and dismiss the move as a typically conservative reaction in protection of the Second Amendment.

But that would be wrong. What they are doing is showing the downright stupidity of certain government mandates on a level which even the most stouthearted liberal could understand. South Dakota State Representative Hal Wicks explains it best: "Do I or the other co-sponsors believe that the state of South Dakota can require citizens to buy firearms? Of course not. But at the same time, we do not believe the federal government can order every citizen to buy health insurance."

The action illustrates the inanity, indeed the total threat to personal freedom, which is essentially behind the Affordable Care Act. If the government can order the individual to get health insurance, what else might the government order them to do? Eat right? Exercise? Because, of course, eating right and exercise would help curtail health care costs and would be good for you. And isn't it about what's good for you?

But therein lies the trouble: it quickly becomes not about what's right for you but what's right for the general society. Not that the individual should not have a proper general concern for society (for a stable society best makes it possible for him to enjoy proper freedoms) but that, ultimately, the person must, under reasonable circumstances, have the final say on his or her daily choices. Otherwise, we may as well become the Borg, and allow ourselves to simply be plugged in where everyone else thinks best. We may as well become the robots of the state.

That is what liberals, in the end, want. They want to tell us where to live and what type of transportation to use and what to eat and what to do with our lives. For to the left, it's all about the state. Your freedom ends where their desires begin. And they want it all.

That's why the Affordable Care Act is totalitarian, plain and simple. If the government can tell us to buy a certain something, a certain anything, it lays the groundwork for the government to control us all the way down. At the risk of feeding the vitriol which has so many folks distraught these days, that's why it's okay to portray President Obama as Hitler. The jewel of his Presidency is simply dictatorial.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Of Course the Health Care Reform Bill is Unconstitutional

A federal judge in Florida has ruled the Affordable Care Act of 2010 unconstitutional. This brings the score to a two/two tie" two judges have said it's constitutional under the Commerce Clause, and two have said no. The case will surely go the US Supreme Court.

Yet no matter what the Supreme Court may rule, and at this point a ruling that it is against the Constitution is likely, the fact is that the Commerce Clause was never intended to go right down to the individual. Indeed, in most areas where the federal establishment has reached all the way down to the single person, it has only been after constitutional amendments such as the 16th, which allowed a so-called 'head' tax (income tax) to be levied directly against the individual.

The point is made clear by constitutional scholar Randy E. Barnett of Georgetown. "Never before in American history has the commerce clause been used to impose a mandate on all Americans to enter into a commercial relationship with a private company," Barnett has asserted. "Up until today, all previous exercises of the commerce power had been to regulate activity or to prohibit certain activity."

The entire health care debate is simply another manner in which the liberals are trying to paint the Constitution in their favor. They do not believe in the rule of law. They believe in what they believe and want what they want, and will do whatever they can to achieve it. Even if that means a lobotomy for the US Constitution.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oil and Egypt

In the midst of all the turmoil in Egypt, it occurs to us that that one thing which always seem to accompany trouble in the Middle East are volatile oil prices. After trading reached $92 a barrel on Monday, prices dropped a bit this morning in light of news that the crisis in Egypt may not be particularly serious with regard to oil futures.

You don't say?

It appears to us here in the Wayne County Conservative Examiner's Office that oil prices are dictated by little more than fear. A BP crisis in the Gulf of Mexico means that there may be no oil in six or eight weeks, so prices spike. The mere threat of a coup in Nigeria sends the oil traders on a blind frenzy, almost expecting, it would seem, the taps to run dry any minute now. Now that Egypt is in the the throes of what may well be a popular revolution, the reaction of the oil people was to panic. Consequently, prices initially rose.

This despite the fact that Egypt is not a major oil producer and that remarkably little oil each day flows the area, either through a pipeline or the Suez Canal. True, there is always the possibility that the revolt will spread; Jordan is currently reshuffling their government, and Tunisia has already saw its leadership toppled. Nevertheless, when it comes having no real courage, oil traders appear the best at their job.

We would see cheaper oil if the buyers would take a chill pill and a deep breath. We would also see cheaper prices if domestic drilling and drilling in the Arctic were more freely allowed. Then we may not have to care very deeply about developments in the Mideast. Yet that too is stymied by another crowd who play on fear: rabid environmentalists.

What we need in this world is more backbone in the light of phantom dangers. We will never see that so long as the scare mongers drive our economics.