Friday, August 28, 2009
Just one anecdote, of many, from this outstanding Steven Brill article in the New Yorker on NYC's public schools and their radically unionized teachers. The room in question is one of the union-mandated "Rubber Rooms" where incompetent and/or misbehaving teachers are stored (at full pay) while their cases are ajudicated per their contracts:
The walls of the large, rectangular room were covered with photographs of Barack Obama and various news clippings. Just to the right of a poster that proclaimed “Bloomberg’s 3 Rs: Rubber Room Racism,” a smiling young woman sat in a lounge chair that she had brought from home. She declined to say what the charges against her were or to allow her name to be used, but told me that she was there “because I’m a smart black woman.”
I asked the woman for her reaction to the following statement: “If a teacher is given a chance or two chances or three chances to improve but still does not improve, there’s no excuse for that person to continue teaching. I reject a system that rewards failure and protects a person from its consequences.”
“That sounds like Klein and his accountability bullshit,” she responded. “We can tell if we’re doing our jobs. We love these children.” After I told her that this was taken from a speech that President Obama made last March, she replied, “Obama wouldn’t say that if he knew the real story.”
Read the whole thing; it's a remarkable piece. What's far more remarkable to me, though, is where it was published. Fifteen or so years ago, you'd only see this kind of critical reporting of a teacher's union in conservative-leaning magazines like Forbes. Seeing an article this tough on what it calls "the [Democratic] the Party’s most powerful support group" in the New Yorker almost gives me... what was that word?
Oh yeah: hope.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Editor, Auburn Magazine,
Even given the abysmal descent into of style over substance, touchie-feelie "Oprah" writing and embarrassing errors that have come to dominate the pages of Auburn Magazine during the tenure of editor Betsy Robertson, this quarter's issue has to be an all-time low. I suppose one could make a legitimate argument for giving a prominent alumnae such as Selena Roberts coverage in the magazine, but turning that coverage into a fawning puff piece is inexcusable [the article is not yet available online; when it is, I'll link to it --WC].
Selena Roberts is not a credit to Auburn University; she is a disgrace upon its good name. I still can't believe that Auburn Magazine--of all publications!--not only brushed over and excused Roberts' serial abuses as a New York Times "reporter," but couldn't find so much as one paragraph to note Roberts' slanderous and unfounded attack on the Auburn athletic department and the Reverend Chette Williams in early 2005. Back then, Roberts ran a breathless column insinuating Williams was guilty of NCAA violations on behalf of AU.
Subsequent investigations by Auburn and the NCAA found nothing of the sort, but Roberts, true to form, never retracted or apologized, and her unsubstantiated hit piece is quoted to this day by representatives of rival schools. And that doesn't even touch on the article's airy dismissal of Roberts' infamous rush to judgement (and subsequent "what, me, responsible?" reaction) to the Duke Lacrosse hoax.
No doubt Roberts' editors at the arch-liberal Times were more than pleased to read an assault on those redneck rubes and their backwards Christian ways written by one of their own, but under no circumstances should Roberts have received six pages of celebrity worship coverage in the University's own alumni publication.
Auburn Magazine is badly adrift, and in dire need of new leadership.
--Will Collier, AE '92
(Cross-posted at From The Bleachers.)
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Just try and tell me the author of this Investor's Business Daily column isn't a Battlestar Galactica fan:
Kennedy and the rest of the fracking opposition say that since the technique uses a lot of water, we should worry about possible groundwater pollution and the impact on water supplies, rivers and streams.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
David Scott's satellite office, referenced here, is about a mile from my house. I just drove past it on my lunch break, and a brand-new replacement sign was already up.
It's almost like they had a back-up sign ready, just in case.
Dorothy Rabinowitz, at OpinionJournal:
The president has a problem. For, despite a great election victory, Mr. Obama, it becomes ever clearer, knows little about Americans. He knows the crowds—he is at home with those. He is a stranger to the country’s heart and character.
He seems unable to grasp what runs counter to its nature. That Americans don’t take well, for instance, to bullying, especially of the moralizing kind, implicit in those speeches on health care for everybody. Neither do they wish to be taken where they don’t know they want to go and being told it’s good for them.
Who would have believed that this politician celebrated, above all, for his eloquence and capacity to connect with voters would end up as president proving so profoundly tone deaf? A great many people is the answer—the same who listened to those speeches of his during the campaign, searching for their meaning.
It took this battle over health care to reveal the bloom coming off this rose, but that was coming. It began with the spectacle of the president, impelled to go abroad to apologize for his nation—repeatedly. It is not, in the end, the demonstrators in those town-hall meetings or the agitations of his political enemies that Mr. Obama should fear. It is the judgment of those Americans who have been sitting quietly in their homes, listening to him.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Leftie Michael Lind, writing in Salon, makes a game and appreciated (at least by me) effort at denouncing liberal bigotry against Southerners, with particular scorn directed at the likes of Kevin Drum and Kathleen Parker:
Oh, those dumb white Southerners! No other group in American society could possibly believe in preposterous conspiracy theories. Well, maybe one other group, the most reliably Democratic demographic in the whole U.S. electorate. A 2005 study by RAND and Oregon State University showed that a majority of blacks believed that a cure for AIDS was being withheld from the poor; that nearly half believed that AIDS was man-made, with a quarter believing that it was created in a U.S. government laboratory and 12 percent naming the CIA as its source. Black paranoia about AIDS is understandable, given the Tuskegee experiments. Even so, the theory that AIDS was created by the CIA to commit genocide against black people is wackier than the craziest Birther conspiracy theories. Would Kathleen Parker write, or the Washington Post publish, a column arguing that black Democrats "have seceded from sanity"? Would Kevin Drum applaud Parker's insult and extend to it to all African-Americans?
Lind's article isn't perfect. He couldn't stop himself from explaining away the polititcal proclivities of conservative Southerners with quasi-Marxist twaddle, painting them as uneducated victims of antibellum "ogliarchy" who want but for their liberal betters to show the way (just once I'd like to see at least one Leftist admit that their ideological rivals just might be able to think for themselves), but even for all that, I applaud his overall effort. It's a damn sight more civil than 99% of the garbage that gets thrown in this direction by the "intelligencia" and the media.
UPDATE: Quoth the Blogfaddah, "But isn’t insulting white Southerners one of the main pleasures of liberalism? I mean, if you have to give that up, what’s the point?" Well, they can always fall back on the self-aggrandizing air of moral superiority...
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I noticed with some interest this story about Congressman David Scott, as linked by the Blogfaddah and Hot Air. In the video linked below, Scott screams at a questioner at an open meeting, implying the doctor who politely asked Scott some direct questions was not one of Scott's constituents. As you'll see in the report, this was (being charitable) a mistaken impression on Scott's part.
Fair warning--the volume on the commercial preceding the news report is ear-splitting:
An unedited version of the meeting, including Scott's rant, can be seen here.
Scott represents the 13th District in Georgia, which has been stretched many miles around Interstate 285 to collect a number of localities. As is the case with the doctor in the video, Scott happens to be my own personal congresscritter, and as it happens, I checked last week to see whether or not he'd be making any appearances during August.
It turns out that Scott is planning one and only one meeting on health care during this month-long recess, and he's holding it in the Democratic stronghold of Jonesboro, in Clayton County. In point of fact, this appearance doesn't even seem to be an actual town meeting; it's billed on Scott's website as a "health fair."
Although I didn't know it at the time, I took Scott's advice and emailed his office on Wednesday to ask whether the Congressman would be holding any actual meetings up here in the northernmost spur of his district, the not-remotely-a-Democratic-stronghold of Smryna in Cobb County. Smith's staffer, Michael Andel, replied that Scott holds "events all over the place," and noted that he'd held a town meeting in Smyrna last year, but stopped replying when I asked specifically whether a meeting on health care--which after all is something of a vital issue at the moment--would be held in this area during the recess. I suppose more than one meeting every two years is a bit too taxing on the Congressman's busy schedule.
I can't say I was terribly surprised. Scott very rarely pays any attention to the northern half of his district, which is highly gerrymandered to insure a majority of the votes come from Clayton County. Scott puts up a billboard every two years (and he should update the photograph on it--I didn't realize until I watched the video linked above that his hair has turned grey) and recently put in a satellite office in the basement of a local bank, but other than that we don't see or hear much of him at all.
And apparently, we'll be seeing even less these days. Judging by Scott's behavior over in Douglasville last week, he's got very little interest in being questioned, much less in being disagreed with.
Those darn free citizens. It's like they think Congressmen work for them, instead of the other way around.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
The first time I saw the first Alien movie, I was so unnerved I had to turn on the lights a month later when an ad came on TV late at night. The first time I saw “Aliens,” I thought it was the most comprehensively effective thing I’d ever seen. Perhaps you had to be there - if you’re younger than I happen to be, you’ve seen “Aliens” repeated over and over again. But at the time? This was every movie we’d waited for.
This (as usual for Lileks) is exactly right.
When "Alien" came out in 1979, I was ten years old, and only a solid month of wheedling directed at my mother got me in the door of the theater for what was my first R-rated movie (we didn't even have cable until I was about 15). Mom, who had volunteered to screen the movie first, told me as I got out of the car (and before waving to the girl at the counter that it was okay to let me in), sent one last warning: "It's going to give you bad dreams."
Boy, was she right about that. I have nightmares about Giger's monster literally to this day. But on the whole, it was worth it.
"Aliens" was released seven years later, and by that time I had a driver's license and was just tall enough to not get carded at R-rated movies. It opened with a free midnight show in the next town over, sponsored by the local radio station. Two buddies and I piled into my hand-me-down Ford LTD (handed down from my mom, of course), and rolled over to Dothan to check it out. This was obviously pre-internet, and "Aliens" was launched with very little promotional fanfare. We literally knew nothing about the movie other than it was a sequel to "Alien" (which by then we had practically memorized thanks to videotape), and that based on the title, there was probably going to be more than one of the critters.
I remember that I bought a big tub of popcorn, and set it down under my seat just as the 20th Century Fox logo rolled.
I didn't touch that corn for the entire movie. Completely forgot it was there.
To say that we were blown away by "Aliens" is kind of like suggesting that Richard Pryor sort of liked drugs. At well past 2:30 in the morning, the three of us just babbled about the movie for the entire drive home, then carried on about it for another hour or so sitting on the car in the driveway. As James notes above, it was absolutely everything we wanted in a movie at that time. Bill Paxon's Private Hudson immediately became our unofficial imaginary friend, to be quoted at every opportunity--and come to think of it, he's still there, on the occasions when we all get together.
I think my gang of cronies all went to see "Aliens" at least ten times that summer. Every single time, in the infirmary scene where the facehuggers are chasing Ripley and Newt around the room, we'd nudge each other and mutter, "You going to jump this time?"
And every time, we all did.
Try it yourself at home, with the DVD. I bet you'll still jump.
This entire imbroglio reminds me of an old joke: "What is the definition of 'racist'?" Answer: "Anyone who's winning an argument with a liberal."
The Left is losing the current argument--and badly. The propensity of Obama's liberal supporters in the media to automatically blame any dissent from The Savior on racism, it's no surprise that the canard is being trotted out again, and even less surprising that it's being employed by partisans as inherently dishonest as Paul Krugman.
That doesn't make it any less disappointing, though. The quick willingness to play the race card at any time is possibly the most destructive impact of Obamamania on our political and social culture. Unfortunately for everybody, this particular variety of dirty pool doesn't appear to be going anywhere.
Friday, August 7, 2009
In Tampa, with Democratic member of Congress Kathy Castor just a few feet away, SEIU union thugs attack protestors, forcing them out of a "town meeting":
I particularly liked the union goon with his own video camera photographing the faces of the protestors. "Nice family you got there. Shame if anything happened to them."
True to form, CBS News blames and insults the protestors.
UPDATE: Jon Henke catches the St. Petersburg Times airbrushing the SEIU's pre-planned tactics out of their story on the meeting, and replacing those details with Democratic talking points.
Monday, August 3, 2009
The Congresscritters are back in flyover country, and from the looks of all these clips, they're not exactly getting standing ovations. This pair of videos from Setauket, NY, is especially good. Democrat Tim Bishop gets taken to the cleaners by his constituents here, particularly including a veteran who lays him out of promoting VA hospitals as an ideal model for healthcare:
Bishop probably likes things much better in Washington, where he's got the press corps to shield him from actual tough questions.
See also the execrable Lloyd Doggett getting his in Austin, TX:
... and here's HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Himselfocrat Arlen Specter getting an earful in Pennsylvania. Reactions to whining from Sebelius about how hard the Congresscritters are "working" and to Specter's insistence on getting a bill past quickly are priceless:
As noted earlier today, the marks are wise to the scam, and they're not happy about it.
Check out this press release from Obama Administration Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. It's regarding the recent hike in the minimum wage, and this section in particular just about proves that political spin these days simply defies parody:
For families with a full-time minimum wage earner, Solis said, the increase would mean $120 extra per month, which, among other things, would allow the working poor to replace their regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, "which would save the family money in the long term and be an important step toward a greener country."
You read that right. Never mind that ordering raising the wages of primarily part-time teenagers (and effectively cutting the number of entry-level jobs available during a recession) doesn't make a whole lot of economic sense--we can still send out a goofy press release about ghastly light bulbs that hardly anybody actually wants to buy!
You really can't fix stupid.
Early this year I decided to ditch my crappy cable company (Charter) for internet service. We cut the old BellSouth landline cord over five years ago, but AT&T is finally allowing dry-line DSL service in Atlanta (after claiming for a decade that it was technically impossible), so I figured I'd give them another shot. I called up the billing number, got what sounded like a great price on bundled service (we already had AT&T wireless thanks to the wife's iPhone), and signed up.
Boy, was that a mistake.
Since then, I would estimate that I've spent upwards of 20 hours on the phone with various Death Star minions. My billing has never once been correct; AT&T refused for months to live up to the DSL rates promised in my original sales call, and has repeatedly screwed up the discounts on the wireless side (I have a wireless service discount through my employer).
It took a certified letter to the CEO to get any action (for future reference, his direct email address is email@example.com), and even now my bill is still screwed up. The executive case manager who's been handling the wireless side finally admitted that even he couldn't fix AT&T's billing system, and pushed through an advance credit to make up for the discount that I won't be receiving thanks to the Death Star's bureaucratic incompetence.
And even that credit, allegedly issued nearly a month ago, apparently hasn't gone through.
I've been hung up on, lied to, patronized, and even today flat-out insulted by phone reps, almost all of whom clearly could care less whether I'm satisfied with my service.
The most irritating thing of all is, every single AT&T employee I talk to tells me something diametrically opposed to the thing the last AT&T employee told me.
And that is why people hate AT&T. You don't want to give a discount or live up to an offer, fine. Don't offer them. You want to stick to your internal policies, that's also fine. But you don't say one thing and then do another, time and time and time and time again.
To Steve Jobs, the Leader, I beseech thee: for the love of Zod and my sanity, please ditch this awful company. I will be overjoyed to cut the Death Star loose approximately one micro-second after we're able to use our iPhones with a different provider.
(And yes, I know about unlocking iPhones and using them with T-Mobile. While I'd love to go back to them--I had fine service from T-M for years--that's not a wife-friendly option.)
Looks like the cash-for-clunkers program may be near an end. I don’t qualify; I made the mistake of buying a fuel-efficient car in 2000.
Didn’t get any money for my house either. I made the mistake of getting a mortgage I could afford.
I’m trying to think if there’s some area of life where I can be stupid and irresponsible now, so I can get paid by Obama in the future. Because so far I’ve really screwed myself by doing things right.
Why is the Obama agenda tanking? Because the marks--those of use who are actually responsible for ourselves--have figured out that The Savior's entire plan of action is geared towards fleecing us to pay off the irresponsible.