Rhode Island’s House Speaker, Gordon Fox (D), resigned yesterday amid an investigation by the US attorney’s office, the FBI, the IRS, and the state police.  The story itself is interesting for two reasons: first, that no one yet knows what the investigation is all about, and secondly, that Fox is biracial and gay.

In this age of identity politics, Fox’s sexual preference could either exacerbate this story, or prompt a near-complete MSM blackout because of it — remember, to our media elites it’s not what you did, it’s who you are which makes the difference in covering political stories.

In a perfect world, Fox’s race or sexual preference shouldn’t make a difference unless it’s directly part of the investigation.  “Gay-American” and former NJ Governor Jim McGreevey tried to play the identity-politics card when he resigned in 2004 — the problem was that McGreevey’s using of state funds for his sexual indiscretions should have been the focus, not his sexual preference which is where the story eventually went.

Since Fox is involved in Rhode Island politics, I wouldn’t put the identity-politics card past him.  I am, however, dying to know what these federal and state investigative agencies were looking for… we’ll just have to wait and see.

{ 0 comments }

The last week or so has seen an acceleration of events between Russia, Crimea, and Ukraine which seemingly could spiral anywhere.

Russian-occupied Crimea voted the other day to secede — I’m not sure how “legal” the vote was until one thinks, of course, that there is no such thing as international law, just international norms that major powers enforce on occasion.  Also, spontaneous secessionist movements are kind of unpredictable I suppose — one can’t blame Ukraine for being pissed.

Then earlier today, Russia decides that independent Crimea should really be Russian and annexed the peninsula.  Granted, Khrushchev was the one who ceded Crimea to Ukraine from Russia in the 1950s.  Russia’s just looking to get its old Reich territories back.

Ukraine is screaming bloody-murder and is preparing for armed conflict.

So what does America do?

The Obama Administration has its response: sanctions on 21 people.  The Russian Deputy Prime Minister actually laughed.

The GOP has their predictable two-pronged answer: 1) Obama sucks — you should have voted Romney, and 2) go big on sanctions or go home.

The Ron Pauls of the world don’t see a strategic American interest and would rather we butt-out.  The Rush Limbaughs of the world seem to be in the ballpark on a reasonable response — if we do anything, let the Russians feel it for real.

The truth is that these 3am phone call situations will be blundered by the Obama team, either on purpose or from sheer lack of strategic thought.  So as Crimea secedes from Ukraine, while Russia succeeds in gobbling up territory, and the Ukraine prepares for war, the United States can’t seem to get its act together.  Perhaps that’s why Putin is doing this in the first place — what are we going to do?  What would we do?  What are we doing?  If I were Putin, why stop here — as they say, ownership is 90% possession.

{ 0 comments }

Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a special election last night for Florida’s 13th Congressional district.  The district was historically Republican, but voted twice for Obama.  Jolly had a bloody primary battle, was trashed by the Establishment GOP last week, and was pitted against the Democrat machine with a candidate in Sink who barely lost a statewide election to Rick Scott four years ago.  So, the national Democrat machine swept in to take the seat, but ended up losing.

Some have said that this race is a referendum on Obamacare, or that the Dems are in some deep trouble this Fall.  Why can’t both ideas be right!  While that would be nice, the race itself was ridiculously close and Jolly is up for reelection in November, so this all may be temporary.

However, I have a big issue with the Establishment writing Jolly off last Friday, until Jolly finally implied that he would support Boehner for Speaker — then it was all smiles for Boehner who called yesterday’s result a “big win.”

So, they trash the guy when they think he can’t win, then laud him after he wins in spite of Establishment GOP efforts.  If independent GOP candidates keep winning elections, the Establishment should be very worried as more of these “big wins” could mean less need to put up with petty Establishment games and coercion.

{ 0 comments }

I can’t say this is an absolute, but I am going to do my best to avoid trying predicting the future on this site because it is impossible for human beings to predict how other human beings will exercise their free will.  It’s hard enough to make sense of what people are doing in the present.  So, let’s try to figure that out instead…

For the past few months, Sal and I have been discussing whether Mitt Romney is considering a second run at the White House in 2016.  He sure seems to be acting as if he is.  Just months after losing the election, he spoke at CPAC in 2013, something politicians do to either raise or maintain their profile.  Then, there was the Netflix documentary titled “Mitt” that came out a few months ago, a documentary Romney seemed to be promoting with his mere presence.  Now, the Washington Post is reporting that, at Romney’s invitation, some of his top aides are planning to gather for a ski weekend in Utah later this month.  I don’t know (and contrary to what they tell you, no one else does either) whether Mitt will run again, but he seems to be considering it.

I’m torn by the idea of another Romney run.  My displeasure with his repeatedly shifting political positions is well documented, and he is 1-2 when it comes to major general elections.  On the other hand, his business acumen is unquestioned and his tax plan accomplishes the dual objectives of making our tax code less corporatist and more growth oriented by lowering tax rates and ending the practice of picking winners and losers by closing loopholes.  It could also be argued that the best way to gain experience in any endeavor is to fail and learn from one’s mistakes.

At the moment, I certainly prefer many of the potential candidates to Romney.  But, if he wants to run, why not?  Campaigns have a way of highlighting a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.  I doubt I’d vote for him, but he’s entitled to give it a shot, and he would have the money necessary to make his case.

{ 1 comment }

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul won the CPAC straw poll yesterday with 31% of the total vote, getting nearly three times more votes than the nearest competitor, Ted Cruz.  In case you missed it, here is Rand Paul’s speech last Thursday at CPAC.  Generally, these polls are not bellwethers or harbingers, but are a useful snapshot.

Paul’s an interesting figure — he’s conservative, leans libertarian, stands up to the Obama Nation, but also has played the Washington game on occasion.  Regardless, he’s starting to stand out in a way that’s more palpable to average people than his father was.  Plainly, if the choice in 2016 comes down to Hillary or Christie, I’m writing in Rand Paul.

I’m currently sick with some kind of annoying head-cold virus-thing, so I was able to watch lots of CPAC yesterday.  It was the ladies who stood out.  Ann Coulter railed against amnesty in classic Ann style.  Tammy Bruce had a panel which introduced a one Marilinda Garcia, running for Congress in New Hampshire.  Pretty, articulate, and conservative — perfection!  Finally, Sarah Palin ended the conference in typical Plain-fashion — a bit folksy, a few jabs, some humor, and a great message.  While the crowd loved her, I’m kind of getting over Palin.  She’s cool and important, but I feel her time has passed for high office.

All-in-all, I enjoyed how at CPAC the GOP Establishment came under fire from nearly everyone, including Democrat pollster Pat Caddell, who nailed it!  It was great TV yesterday, but let’s see how all that talk translates into action moving forward.

{ 1 comment }

Don’t get me wrong — this is not the worst case of the oversimplification of our political process out there, but today’s piece in the National Journal on Rand Paul and Marco Rubio is an excellent example of what I recently labeled as the silliness dominating our discourse.  One of the tricks media outlets, and not just liberal ones, have used for decades is to create conflict where none may exist just for the sake of creating conflict.

In this example, the National Journal pits the “isolationism” of Rand Paul against the “hawkishness” of Marco Rubio as one of the potential battle lines in 2016.  The evidence used to back up this assertion is this analysis of Rubio’s (supposedly hawkish) comments in the crisis in Ukraine:

[Rubio] wrote an op-ed for Politico suggesting ways to “punish Russia.” On Meet the Press, Rubio called Russia “an enemy of the United States” and labeled Vladimir Putin’s regime “a government of liars.”

That’s awfully hawkish for someone who doesn’t like labels.

Immediately followed by this analysis of Rand Paul’s (supposedly “isolationist”) reaction:

Paul was considerably less animated in responding to Russian aggression. He issued a placid statement suggesting that Russian leaders “should think long and hard” about their actions.

The problem with this purported conflict is that there may not be one.  Paul’s approach to foreign policy probably is more inward-looking than Rubio’s, but neither label really seems to fit.  With two fronts in a global war on terror dominating 2000s, what’s remarkable is that neither man is calling for military intervention, as many may have done just ten years ago.  In the case of Paul, the term “isolationism” really isn’t fair either given his statements about open borders and global free trade.

Stories about conflict attract more news consumers than stories about ideas.  That has always been true, but it seems even more so recently.  The National Journal is right that Marco Rubio and Rand Paul have different approaches to foreign policy, but “hawk” and “isolationist” are overstated and oversimplified.  To use one of President Obama’s overused phrases, the choice between a hawkish Rubio and an isolationist Paul is a false choice.

*To be fair to National Journal, this article was a more interesting post than those merely asserting the “A Pwns B.”

{ 0 comments }

That title itself tells me everything I need to know about the value of the “C” in CPAC these days.  They also had a standing ovation for Mitch McConnell, who needed props to elicit such a response (please donate to his primary challenger, Matt Bevin, and finally get Mitch to retire).  At least they saved one ovation for Ted Cruz.

Of course, nearly everything Chris Christie says either insults my intelligence or pisses me off.  He represents the main problem with the GOP in my eyes.  He’s a typical Northeast Liberal Republican tailor-made to lose a general election (aka, the perfect Establishment GOP candidate).

I actually live in New Jersey and can say that our economy was mostly better under Jon Corzine than under Christie.  That’s an objective statement where property taxes are concerned.  Christie adopted Obamacore Common Core to take Obama-bucks, raised tolls across the state, took temporary Obamacare Medicaid funds when he didn’t have to, agrees with nearly all aspects of the surveillance state, loves gun control, embraces the DREAM Act, errs on the side of big government every chance he gets, and of course the embrace.

So when Christie gets an ovation from CPAC, I need to ask: how much Kool Aid were they serving in the ballroom? are they just being polite? are they afraid of road construction in front of their busy bridges if he gets elected President? being the first day of CPAC, were they just in an ovating kind of mood?

There were two pull-quotes from his speech: “Republican governors in this country have stood up and done things, not just talked about them.” Too bad most of the things Christie did were statist-oriented, big government in nature which will hurt New Jersey in the long run.

But this one roiled me: “Let us come out of here resolved not only to stand for our principles, but let’s come out of this conference resolved to win elections again.”  I hadn’t noticed all those conservatives who didn’t want to win elections.  I did, however, notice lots of Establishment types for amnesty, gun control, and other Democrat issues who actually lost elections and depressed base turnout.  Maybe he means those types?  Nah!  He is that type:  a total establishment blowhard.

{ 0 comments }

Rachel Canning, 18, didn’t like her parent’s rules and left home to live with a friend.  It’s the old “live under my roof, live with my rules” phenomenon every parent has a right to demand of their adult children living at home.

Most young adults either suck-it-up or move out.  Canning decided to deal with it another way.  She turned around and sued her own parents for $654 a week and attorney’s fees!  Her parents agreed to pay her college tuition and let this all slide if she just moved back home.  Instead, the case went forward, ending up in front of a county judge today.

Unfortunately, the judge’s ruling was mixed:  the judge denied Canning’s request for back and future payment (duh), but insisted the parents not touch the college fund until April when a tentative hearing may take place to figure out that angle (not so good).

To me, (legally anyway) this is about property rights.  If you can vote, get drafted, get married, gamble, or go to jail for your crimes, your parents don’t owe you their property anymore, especially if you refuse to abide by your parent’s rules!  That’s cold, but that’s life.  Actions beget consequences.  Adult children suing parents for cash in this case is ridiculous.

{ 0 comments }

Events are moving fast in Ukraine:  violent protests, parliament removing their leader, an interim government trying to catch its breath, etc.  Complicating the situation is the ethnic makeup of Ukraine — 17.3% are Russian, most of whom live in the eastern part of the country.

After making plenty of noise about possibly sending troops, the Russian parliament has given Vladimir Putin permission to mobilize Russian military forces to “protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea.”

Shouldn’t the UN have something to say about this?  Shouldn’t the EU be screaming about Russia invading a sovereign nation, possibly sparking a larger conflagration?  Shouldn’t President Obama be rallying world condemnation with the threat of economic sanctions?  The first two questions are easy to answer — the UN is a joke, and Europe needs Russian oil.

President Obama did have something to say about the situation yesterday:

“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine.  Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interests of Ukraine, Russia or Europe. It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people.

“It would be a clear violation of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of international laws. The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

What, no “red line?”  We know how Putin feels about Obama, and how Obama feels about Putin.  KGB agent vs. a Community Organizer?  I’m taking KGB.  If you remember, Mitt Romney was mocked by Obama over calling Russia a “geopolitical foe” during one of the debates.  Presciently, in 2008 Sarah Palin actually said (and was also mocked over):

“After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.”

You betcha.

{ 0 comments }

From September 2008 to February 2009 nearly $1.6 trillion America didn’t have had been spent by our government: TARP to bailout Wall Street ($700 billion), plus the auto bailouts ($80 billion), plus the Stimulus to bailout Democrat constituencies ($787 billion).  When would it stop?  Who would end up paying for it?  Anyone paying attention was deeply concerned.  CNBC’s Rick Santelli was, and gave his now famous “rant:”

Within weeks, in fact five years ago today, the launch of the “Tea Party” in 30 cities emerged to protest this ridiculousness.  Within two months, I had attended my first Tea Party protest — a rainy Tax Day protest in Trenton.  It felt like being part of the early phases of a grassroots movement — regular like-minded passionate people without any clear political direction or organization.  That would come in time.

By 2010, Angelo Codevilla wrote his famous “Ruling Class” article, laying out a philosophical explanation for a more populist brand of libertarian conservatism that the Tea Party represented.  The elections that Fall sent a clear message by shellacking the Democrat Ruling Class in Washington.  The momentum carried over little to 2012 as the Republicans, through whom the Tea Party chose to function politically, nominated a flip-flopping Massachusetts moderate in Mitt Romney.  The Party stayed home.  Obama stayed President.

Through it all, the MSM has thrown vile and unfounded accusations at the Tea Party.  Yawn.  The MSM didn’t create us, so they have no power over us, which kind of bothers them.

In the typical model of grassroots activism, the Tea Party no longer fills the streets the way it used to mostly because the movement has evolved from protest to politics.  They aren’t merely trying to impact government, they are in government… just not in Washington yet, at least not in the numbers necessary to move us away from our perilous trajectory.

Mark Levin spoke earlier about the need for the Tea Party to fight on.  It should be easy — with Obama defacing the Constitution and the Establishment GOP trying to expunge the Tea Party, the movement feels even more emboldened.

{ 0 comments }

So like my co-blogger Mike, I’ve been remiss in posting to this site for quite some time, for a host of reasons.  The primary reason is that for the last couple of years, my personal life has undergone a sweeping change.  Back in the summer of 2012, Mrs Sal started our family by adopting a little two-year old boy.  The experience has been life-changing – our son is a wonderful little guy and really has changed us.  We can’t imagine life without him, and are so grateful that he bas been brought into our lives.  With all that, we were plunged into parenthood head first, and sometimes it seemed like we couldn’t come up for air enough to spend time with each other, let alone spend time pursuing other interests.  So there is that.

At the same time, I’d become quite disillusioned with politics.  Watching the GOP establishment sell out core conservative principles time after time, and bicker with the grassroots more often than with the opposition has caused me to rethink a lot of my own political thoughts.  At present, I no longer consider myself a Republican, although I still often vote that way because there aren’t many credible alternatives.  Additionally, I’ve been observing a trend of hypocrisy among many of the GOP punditry (and even some of the conservative punditry) in which they criticize things that they would have defended during the last administration.  Suffice to say, I’ve stopped paying attention to a lot of it.  I keep up with the news, but I try to get information from a variety of sources (especially online) to make my own decisions based on my ideals rather than rely on the silliness that seems to be everywhere.

My political views have evolved to more of a Christian libertarianism – government should, by and large, stay as small as possible, stay out of the way on most issues, and only get involved when it is necessary to protect rights (I say Christian libertarianism to separate myself from the pro-abortion branch of libertarianism).  I’ve also become more focused on my faith in the past few years.  I’ve been studying it, learning more about it, and trying to focus on the things in life that matter – faith and family.  Yet politics remains important and keeps drawing me back in because it affects so much else.  As we continue to go down the slippery slope of big government in this country, it affects those things.  The battle over religious freedom in this country is but one example of that.  So that is why I’m returning – to continue to fight that battle, to offer a new perspective that I didn’t have before, and to do my very small part to help restore some sanity to our political world.  I’ll be touching on different topics than in the past – technology in politics, faith, and the practical effects that politics have on average Americans, as well as the normal news-based commentary that I used to provide.  As we approach another election season, there will be no shortage of things to discuss.  I will say that I have missed writing, and it’s good to be back!

{ 0 comments }

It was hard to ignore all the craziness coming out of Ukraine this week — the violent protests and police crackdown, the President fleeing, the parliament transferring presidential authority, the East/West showdown renewed, talk of the final battle of the Cold War.

Phew!  When revolutions happen, events move fast.  The key concern for national leaders in countries some freedoms is not to turn your back on the voters.  Morsi got elected in Egypt then tried to change their constitution to solidify his power indefinitely.  In Ukraine’s case, their recently deposed leader worked against the will of the people in trying to tie Ukraine more towards Russia than the EU.

Russia still casts a profound shadow over Ukrainian politics.  I’m not sure how strong-fisted Putin will be in dealing with his errant neighbor. I’m especially curious since tonight the Winter Olympics in Sochi end.  Once a few news cycles pass, the international focus will leave Russia, allowing Putin more breadth to be the real Putin.

However, as a throw-back to my early teen years, any opportunity to see Lenin statues falling is one worth sharing:

{ 1 comment }

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed a 62-point plan which he believes will lead to safer traffic patterns and streets.  A big city progressive who wants tons of new rules and regulations?  No news there.

However, it’s nonetheless bad form to have one’s own caravan caught two days later by CBS2 cameras blowing through stop signs, speeding, and other actions already considered moving violations which, if the driver were pulled over, would result in that driver’s license being suspended.  Mayor de Blasio was in the lead car.

So, one set of rules for the Mayor, another for the rest of NYC drivers.  A big city progressive having that attitude?  No news there, but his timing is awful.

{ 0 comments }

This summer, the US Navy will deploy its latest weapon systema laser beam!

While only to be used for “asymmetric” threats, it’s still pretty cool that the military believes such a weapon is deployment-ready!  The article indicates that the weapon’s not so good in bad weather, but for small potential threats in a calm environment it’s good to go.

In two years, an EM rail gun may begin to replace the conventional big-guns on other ships.  The issue with the rail gun is that it requires tons of electricity — probably not a problem on a nuclear carrier or sub.

It’s unusual these days to see the US occasionally act like an old Cold War superpower — spending billions on weapons we’ll likely never have to use against a near-peer power, but still making and deploying them anyway!  If we’re going to have wasteful government spending, at least make frickin’ laser beams with it!

{ 0 comments }

Being refugees from the vast union wasteland that is Detroit, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union has tried to find a new home in the South.  Many foreign car companies set up plants in the South to 1) bring their plants closer to the consumer, and 2) avoid the high cost of union labor in places like Detroit.

Recently, the UAW found a receptive environment at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant.  Volkswagen’s headquarters in Germany welcomed the vote in Chattanooga since it’s VW’s only plant world-wide without a “works council.”

However, in America the workers have a right to vote for entrance into a union.  After a three-day vote 53% of workers rejected unionizing, devastating the UAW.  In typical fashion, when the left doesn’t like the outcome of an election, they sometimes challenge it until they get the outcome they like.  Calls to appeal the vote to the NLRB are already being heard as allegations of “outside interference” are being made.

We’ll see where this goes, but this isn’t a good sign for the UAW since Chattanooga is a place where one expert lamented, “If the union can’t win [in Chattanooga], it can’t win anywhere.”

{ 0 comments }

So, how is your celebration of the martyrdom of St. Valentine going?  Ha!

Perhaps, like the rest of us you took a more secular angle?  Right.

Anyway, there’s nothing like a Hallmark holiday designed to guilt and pressure us into paying a bit more attention to our significant other.  Regardless, we love it!  And why not?  The ladies get their men doting, chocolate goodies, flowers at work, huge teddy bears, intimate dinner plans, etc.  And for showing that us guys care at least as much as we’re supposed to, special-occasion sex is nearly guaranteed!  Sorry if that was a bit blunt, but it is what it is.  Nonetheless, it seems worth the price every time.

Beyond the playful cynicism, if nothing else it is nice to get out and change the routine with a cultural celebration of love in the depths of winter — especially this winter!

So on this day of Love, I found an article revealing some of the love letters from John and Abigail Adams — America’s first love-birds.  The Massachusetts Historical Society has lots more.  They’re great reading filled with 18th Century shmoopiness.  Enjoy!

{ 0 comments }

Hi everyone.  As any reader and um, co-blogger, knows, I’ve haven’t been seen much around here in the last several months.  Sure, I’ve made comments here and there, but I have not posted in a long time.  I apologize for that.

My pathetic excuse is that I moved to New York City and have been settling in over the last several months.  While I was in the process of moving and settling in, I didn’t pay as much attention to the news as I normally do.  When I started consuming news again after a long break, I was astonished by how unserious most of the serious news reports actually were.

A great example of this lack of seriousness is the one story I did follow during my break: the 2013 New York City Mayoral election.  With many New Yorkers either too young or too far removed from the shithole (sorry for the language, but the word is accurate) that New York once was, how Rudy Giluiani turned cleaned up the city, and Bloomberg built on the Giuliani years, it was clear that a Democrat would be elected to office.  I knew the contest would make the Star Wars bar scene look like Masterpiece Theater, but I was shocked and amused (in a dark humor sort of way) by how Democratic primary voters went about choosing the next mayor.

Other than eliminating the NYPD’s ability to use constitutionally permissible tactics such as stop and frisk and “soaking the rich,” there was little discussion of policy proposals.  Instead, they campaign went down like a clique-driven election you would see in a middle school.  The former City Council speaker was a gay woman.  So naturally she became the frontrunner for a good while.  But then Anthony Wiener entered the race and he surged ahead for a while.  But then the media decided they didn’t want Wiener to win, so the voters did as they were told and abandoned him.  Finally, near the end of the race, Bill De Blasio’s photogenic son showed what absolutely is a cool-looking afro to the voters, which even made the President take notice.  Game set match.  Cool kids win junior high elections.  Bill De Blasio became Mayor.

I see a silliness in our politics, and that seems mostly confined to the left.  But, when I started following news again, I noticed that many people on both sides don’t seem to react to the ideas being proposed.  What seems to make them tick is when someone is confronting another person who is perceived to be an enemy.  So, I’m seeing the news as silly season.

Now that I’m back, I hope to contribute my own silliness to what is left of the blogosphere (maybe another topic for another day).  I also hope to contribute something serious once in a while.  We’ll see.

{ 1 comment }

In the midst of a CBO report indicating that Obamacare will be the direct cause for the loss of at least 2 million full-time jobs moving forward (that’s a low-ball number in my opinion), the spin from the left this week was outrageous!  To quote Nancy Pelosi, “this was one of [Obamacare's] goals: to give people life, a healthy life, liberty to pursue their happiness. And that liberty is to not be job-locked, but to follow their passion.”

So, it’s a good thing that Obamacare “gives you the choice” of working less hours and creating a generation of hipster armchair poets too cool to work?  “Job lock” is the latest newspeak term for those working as many hours as they can to pay the bills.  It’s apparently a bad thing that you can work to pay your bills — you should be at home in the comfortable arms of Uncle Sam, finding yourself on the couch of the left’s welfare state plantation.

The New York Post‘s Michael Goodwin articulates the problem this exposes:

This anti-job, pro-dependency tilt is the crux of the nation’s polarization. In essence, it pits those who believe in the sanctity of work against those who believe in penalizing wealth and redistributing its fruits…. As such, [the Democrat Party] has broken with the heritage celebrated on the postage stamps and in the hearts and minds of generations. In that America, work, any work, was honorable while being on the dole was cause for shame.

I have faith that Americans still value work, but they also understand math.  The easier it is to live a taxpayer-financed lifestyle in poverty, the more people will do it.  The Dems can do math too — the larger the dependency class, the more votes have been bought.  This crisis echoes a warning from Tocqueville in the 1830s: “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

Uh oh.

{ 3 comments }

I’ve covered the basic problems with the Common Core education initiative hoping to draw attention to an issue many people don’t fully understand, and one that we all have to deal with.  As more and more states fully adopt the program, they’re realizing how big a mess they got themselves into — an initial $10 billion boondoggle with hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending in subsequent years just to implement the program!

Also, the politics of this has strange bedfellows:  progressives who think it’s detrimental to teachers and students (which it is), and conservatives who call it “Obamacore” since it eliminates local control over education (which it does).

Not to be outdone, the agents pushing Common Core have tried to simply rename it so that everyone will start loving it:  Jan Brewer in Arizona eliminated using the name (not the program though); in Iowa they call it “Iowa Core” (same program); and in Florida they adopted the most Orwellian name of all — “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards!”

The biggest surprise was to learn that Mike Huckabee suggested “rebranding” Common Core because the name is “toxic.”  How Stalin-like, Huckleberry!  Like Jeb Bush, Huckabee has exposed himself as part of the problem on this issue cloaking full support behind endless caveats.

Perhaps Huckleberry and crew could take a cue from Senator Roberts from Kansas who believes that Arne Duncan’s “Race to the Top” initiative which bribed the states to adopt Common Core not only sucks, but likely violates the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965!  As such Roberts has introduced legislation to deal with that problem, saying:

Unfortunately, it is evident that certain waivers from onerous education requirements have been granted only to those states that agree to implement the White House’s preferred education policies. In fact, The New York Times has referred to the waiver process as “the most sweeping use of executive authority to rewrite federal education law since Washington expanded its involvement in education in the 1960s.” My bill ensures States retain their authority to determine the curriculum and standards that are best for their students.

So, progressives and conservatives hate Common Core, while RINOs and the Obama’s education department love it.  Bizarre.  If Huckleberry is suggesting that the Common Core brand is becoming toxic, perhaps there’s hope that momentum will grow to eliminate “Obamacore” from America’s classrooms.

{ 1 comment }

Outside of the Pacific Northwest, last night’s Super Bowl XLVIII was not very exciting.  I predicted a 27-24 Broncos victory, contingent upon whether or not Seattle could produce a pass rush against Peyton Manning.  Well, no pass rush was necessary for the kind of beat-down we haven’t seen in a Super Bowl since 1993:  Seattle 43, Denver 8.

It was clear from last night’s “game” (using the term lightly) that Seattle came to play; Denver didn’t know what hit them.

So, given how awful the game turned out to be, how were the commercials?

See for yourself.  I liked the Hero’s Welcome, Radio Shack’s 1980s homage, and Turbo Tax prom ad the most.  To paraphrase Jimmy Kimmel, these Super Bowl commercials are getting too commercial.  Because they try to be so outrageous, they’re getting predictable (if that makes any sense).  That’s why I shined the spotlight on the three ads above — I love soldier-coming-home stories, as a Gen Xer I love 1980s nostalgia, and I thought the prom analogy for the Super Bowl was really clever.  All that, plus 24 is coming back.  Sweetness.

The evening was also darkened by news of the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman of an apparent drug overdose at the age of 46.  Great talent and personal demons have long been tied to one another in the entertainment industry.   Hoffman was incredibly talented and perhaps his story will stir our consciousness on the issues which underlie people’s use of heavy drugs.

{ 0 comments }

Tonight at around 6:30pm EST Super Bowl XLVIII (“48″ to us non-Romans) between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks–the league’s #1 offense versus the #1 defense, while both being #1 seeds in their respective conferences during the playoffs.  Here’s a preview.

It should be a great game–Vegas still has the game with the Broncos as 2.5-point favorites.  The temperature in New Jersey should be about 40 degrees and a bit windy at kickoff.  Around the nation there will be parties galore today and tonight, with lots of people calling out sick tomorrow, and even more people going to work and not being very productive, hoping that one day Super Bowl Monday might be a holiday of some kind, if only for the states represented in the Super Bowl.

I’m not sure how the game will go.  I still have nightmares from the last time the league’s “best offense ever” handled the bright lights of the Super Bowl, so I won’t guarantee a Broncos win, but they do have the edge in my opinion.  Honestly, I generally support the AFC when my team’s not in the Super Bowl, so I’m pushing for the Broncos.

However, if Seattle is able to manufacture a pass-rush against Peyton Manning, the Seahawks will win the game, especially since they have a great running game to kill the clock, a mobile quarterback, and the best secondary in football–Manning’s not facing New England’s defense.  Yet, Seattle could have jitters in the early part of the game and the Broncos could get out to an early lead–the Seahawks are toast in that situation since they aren’t well-designed to comeback from a huge deficit and given the pressures of sport’s biggest stage, a blowout could ensue.

Should the game be a blowout (21 Super Bowls have been decided by 14 or more points), I hope we at least get some good commercials–they’ve been hit or miss lately.

Prediction: Broncos 27 Seahawks 24

{ 2 comments }

Noonan on the DC/America Divide

by Ryan on January 31, 2014

in Politics

So, how long did it take you to change the channel during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address?  After Obama channeled his inner Paul Harvey with folksy tales of “real” Americans, he started his regular banter not caring about the accuracy of his statements because (let’s face it) most of those watching weren’t going to check up on the facts.

I made it about fifteen minutes.

Well, Peggy Noonan seemed to have watched the whole thing.  Old-school Establishment-types tend to do that — it gives them material to reflect on the way things once were.  In her recent article for the WSJ, she expresses the growing disconnect between Washington and the “folks.”  The insular world of the Beltway is one of the richest areas of the nation — not exactly a bellwether for how the nation is doing.  Plus, the bullying by the federal government towards regular people is taking its toll:

All these things—the pushing around of nuns, the limiting of freedoms that were helping kids get a start in life, the targeting of conservative groups—all these things have the effect of breaking bonds of trust between government and the people. They make citizens see Washington as an alien and hostile power.

With an unelected fourth branch (the bureaucracy) at the wheel most of the time and a DC culture so removed from the people, it’s no wonder many are feeling estranged from their own government and frustrated that so little ever really changes.

{ 0 comments }

The Kronies

by Ryan on January 27, 2014

in Anything Else,Politics,Pop Culture

Upon hearing about this on The Blaze this evening, I had to add it to the echo chamber.

Satire, beautiful satire!

{ 0 comments }

I vaguely remember a story back in 2005 about this Navy SEAL in Afghanistan who was the only one who survived an attack by dozens of Taliban, who managing to crawl to an Afghan village, and somehow got rescued.  This Iraq War vet (OIF 1), after recovering from his wounds volunteered to go back to Afghanistan, eventually receiving the Navy Cross from President Bush.  What a story!

Last summer, a friend of mine told me that he just read a book by that very SEAL, Marcus Luttrell, and that a movie was going to be made about it.  So, without hesitation I read the book “Lone Survivor.”  It was real, funny at times, and absolutely incredible that anyone survived those events.  The film version of Lone Survivor was released wide a few weeks ago, but today was the earliest I could see it.  Here’s the trailer:

The movie, like the book, is intended to pay homage to those who died supporting the ill-fated “Operation Red Wing” in June 2005 (stick around before the credits for a poignant look at the fallen).  It’s a classic “band of brothers” story:  the idea that soldiers fight more for the person next to them than for any political cause or leader.  I can see how some movie critics perceived the first 1/3 of the film as a military recruiting tool, but that’s a cynical point of view — the SEALs really are the elite of the elite and naturally a culture builds around that.  People like CNN’s Jake Tapper apparently also misinterpreted the point of the film, doing so to Luttrell’s face — that liberal “senselessness” crap didn’t fly so well, especially around Luttrell who criticized the MSM in his book for having just that attitude.  It’s hard to criticize a war hero like that and sound anything but small.

I did notice one other important point in the film.  It seemed clear in the book and film that every chance Luttrell had to make himself look great, his teammates rose to the occasion instead.  His character comes across as a man who happened to make it, not through any heroics, but through chance, perhaps even through God.  I’ve heard a lot of veterans from different wars throughout living memory express the same thing:  the “heroes” were the ones who didn’t make it back.

With all the film’s action, suspense, and intensity, it’s still a basic story about brotherhood under arms.  I’d give the movie an A-, but the book was a solid A.  It’s one of those war movies you should see.

{ 0 comments }

Mitt Romney recently appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to “Slow Jam the News.”  It’s pretty good, with a few good zings and tons of innuendo.  Check it out:

H/T: The Blaze

{ 1 comment }

Ghastly math:  Roe v. Wade + 41 years = 55 million deaths.

On this dark anniversary, tens of thousands braved Arctic cold and snow for the fortieth “March For Life” in Washington DC.  I was actually at one of these back in 1998.  It was inspiring to see so many others from all parts of the country, from all walks of life, who came out in opposition to one of the worst Supreme Court rulings of the 20th Century.  Overturning Roe would go a long way to finally moving this issue to where it should lie — with the people.

Here’s my thought on that:  Roe v. Wade (1973) overturned 49 state laws on abortion.  Those who supported Roe had court precedent backing them, a compliant press, and radical feminists pushing to make this decision permanent.  That is a powerful confluence of forces.  The problem was that the people had no real say.  Forty-nine states (all but Washington) had varying degrees of restrictions on abortions which were significantly altered by the Roe decision.  Those opposed to this had no outlets, nowhere to go, smacked by the gavel of a judicial dictate.

So, on one side you have the pro-choice folks who will defend to the death the legal gains they procured, while on the other side you have the pro-life folks who are powerless to change anything, even though they believe life is being taken away in a horrible fashion.  This status quo creates extremists, the problem is never really solved for either side, and politicians get to show up every cycle to remind us about how much we hate each other on this issue for their own personal gain.

Overturn Roe and both sides win a little and lose a little:  the pro-choice crowd will have to allow the will of the people to run its course, which will mean in some areas abortion will be severely restricted or even banned; the pro-life crowd will have to accept the will of the people that will likely keep abortion legal in most places.  The game-changer will be that activism will start to mean something on this issue, policies will change to reflect the will of the people, and hopefully we may see the ire, politicking, and (hopefully) abortion rates start to ebb.

UPDATE:  Brit Hume chimes in.

{ 0 comments }

Today marks America’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a way to acknowledge and celebrate the life of the 20th Century’s most important civil rights leader.  While it may be unfair to compare today’s civil rights leaders to King and his contemporaries (given that era, his message, their tactics, etc.), a figure as high-profile as the first black President certainly has an important voice.

King gave us “I Have a Dream” and his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” timeless reminders that we must speak truth to power when clear injustice reigns.

While there’s no real expectation that President Obama would emulate those great works (who could?), a President given Obama’s unique position should at the very least try to unite people rather than stoke divisions where they exist.

That being said, President Obama just this past weekend basically said that some Americans still have a problem with a (re-elected, by the way) black President.  Into his sixth year, should this even matter and who gains from this message being emphasized?  He also said that while pot is a vice, it’s not so bad considering he used to smoke it as a child.  Not such a great message, especially to those inner city youths (many of whom are minorities) struggling to stay above the influence of the drug culture in their neighborhoods.  Who can forget last year’s Trayvon debacle?  Stoking frustration and anger in the black community against whites doesn’t seem to be consistent with King’s dream to me.

Obviously, Obama is no MLK, but he certainly doesn’t seem to be a force for racial healing and unity of late either.  The problem with leftist ideologues is that politics is infused into every single thing all the time.  Obama’s second term statements on race continue to seem politically driven.  Who knows what’s in his heart, but perhaps Obama should listen a little more closely to the message behind King’s words.

{ 1 comment }

I initially wanted to post on the horrible economic news from what should have been a gang-busters robust good news jobs report that we didn’t get on Friday, but this Common Core issue keeps reappearing, impacting local politics throughout the nation as well as my own classroom.

To the uninitiated, Common Core is an attempt to both simplify and enhance educational standards around the country.  Dangling money in front of state legislatures through the Obama Administration’s “Race to the Top” program, the Common Core State Standards were adopted by 45 states and DC, including my state of New Jersey (thanks Chris Christie).

What always struck me was how quickly everyone seemed to get on board with this.  Having had to implement Common Core since September, I can tell you that it’s not well thought through.  Also, with Common Core comes the PARCC exam, which puts huge expenses onto individual school districts while not even being clear to teachers or administrators what is actually going to happen when this thing goes live — there was a clear admission of just that at my last faculty meeting!

The best analogy I can think of is this: Common Core is to education as Obamacare is to the health industry.  Common Core seeks to nationalize educational standards, taking local choice and parent’s voices out of the process without even having tested its workability or value.  Ripping apart localism in education for government-approved dictates into which no one had input.  Kind of like what Obamacare is doing to our health care industry.

So, let’s get real.  Who seeks to gain something by this?  Tech companies, textbook companies, ETS, Arne Duncan, Jeb Bush, the progressive agenda, etc.  In short, “Big Education.”  Michelle Malkin is all over this on just about every angle.

Take a look at this:

The goal is not to simply add the Common Core standards, but to replace the hidebound learn facts-n’-stuff approach which was developed by experts, administrators and other people in their own states.  Skills over knowledge is the new priority — whatever gets lost in the meantime, oh well, there’s always Google… but what do the kids know to Google?  Whatever.  The whole thing is kind of scary.

So, parents are kind of pissed about this, especially home schoolers trying to leave the broken pubic education system.  Conservative groups (not Jeb Bush Republicans) are fighting back against this latest big government scheme.  Anti-Common Core advocacy groups have popped up, including Truth in American Education, as well as the Home School Legal Defense Association, who is putting out a documentary on Common Core.  Here’s the trailer:

This is an issue impacting every parent who has any child in public school, private school, or who home schools.  This is clearly an issue many people care about, which is critically important for our children’s future, which is being rammed down our throats by political and industry elites trying to line their pockets at the expense of our already flailing education system.  Yet, no one in the MSM is talking about it.  The right needs to be more vocal about this to help select more conservative candidates in the primaries and draw attention to this issue in the general elections.

{ 1 comment }

It is clear that after his recent reelection, Establishment New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to be President.  He won’t win, but the GOP seems on their way to nominate him, especially since his recent pandering to illegals.  But there may be a roadblock to an easy GOP nomination — a literal roadblock.

Here is what is alleged from some recently subpoenaed emails:

Since Fort Lee Democrat Mayor Mark Sokolich refused to endorse Christie like so many other Democrat mayors last Fall, Christie’s deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly emailed the Port Authority’s Director of Interstate Capital Projects (and long-time Christie friend) David Wildstein writing, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”  Wildstein replied, “Got it.”  A  month later (last September) local access lane closures appeared on the Fort Lee side of the George Washington Bridge in what was initially called a “mishandled traffic study.”

Indeed.

Today, Christie responded in what was called a “boilerplate” fashion, that he was simply “misled” about the purpose of the lane closures.  Regardless, when your old friend and deputy chief of staff are involved in what looks like an act of political retribution, you’re going to get dirtied.  This potential scandal is young, but if the MSM sniffs any opportunity to shoot down the likely 2016 GOP nominee, they will certainly try.

UPDATEChristie responds like his old buddy Obama — he was misled, wasn’t clear about what happened, just saw the emails when we did, etc.  Just like the IRS or AP scandal for Obama, Christie tried to pull the bystander card.  It was a good move to hold a 107-minute press conference to deflect, blow smoke, and try to engender some sympathy, but with an ongoing investigation and Wildstein pleading the 5th, things could get interesting.

BTW:  Love it.

{ 0 comments }

If you live in the central or northeast United States, <newsflash!> it’s cold!

But in today’s America, everything must be a crisis.

So, that makes this particular very cold snap a “polar vortex.”  Ominous, isn’t it?  We even name winter storms now.  In some places we even have local (ahem) superintendents robo-calling entire towns to inform them that 1) it’s cold, and 2) make sure the kids are dressed appropriately.

Really?

Granted, it is cold, but c’mon people!  Sometimes I feel like we’re doomed as a people if “cold” in the “winter” continues to evoke this kind of media-driven mania and nannyist response.  Just bundle up.

{ 0 comments }