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Saturday, November 3, 2012

An open letter to Scott Brown: Why I'm Blanking the Ballot

Guest Op-Ed from the Zedman (ZedmanZee@gmail.com)

Dear Scott Brown

If the current polls hold up on Election Day, you will no longer be my senator.  Based on the direction of your campaign after the past few weeks, it would be a safe guess that your staff’s post-mortem will dwell on the margin of female voters. What could you have done differently that would’ve decreased that margin by just a few precious percentage points?  You co-sponsored the reauthorization of VAWA. You reminded us again and again how you are “pro-choice”.  You support the Lilly Ledbetter Act. You even changed your position on “marriage equality.”  What more could you have done to pander to women voters?

Well, Mr. Brown, perhaps you forgot something: Me.

As a hard-working middle-class man and father, my political positions tend to align against those of the Democratic Party. Quite frankly, as a white, male heterosexual, a “negative-3-fer” in the jargon of political correctness, I refer to the Democratic Party as the “party of identity politics.”  Essentially, I consider a vote for a Democrat as a vote intrinsically against my own interests, either an act of self-loathing... or insanity.

Case in point is the absurd Lilly Ledbetter Act. As though employers actually pay women 72 cents on the dollar for what they would pay a man. Why would anyone hire men if they could enjoy an immediate 28% reduction in payroll costs by hiring a woman? The debunking of this “unequal pay” factoid has been known for two decades and is just a couple of mouse-clicks away for anyone who cares to know the truth. It is a comparison of what women earn on average to what men earn on average, and is wholly a function of the actual type of work that they respectively choose as well as the time-on-the-job differentials that arise naturally between the sexes for the obvious reasons.

Back to “me.” Regarding my demographical profile, any Republican candidate should regard me as “his base.” But on Election Day, I will be BLANKING THE BALLOT.  I will not go as far as some friends who plan to actually cast their vote for your opponent. I have the decency to merely not vote for you. You will lose my vote, a vote that by all rights you should have received since your opponent is someone who apparently is not even aware of the existence of half of the human race.

You refused to meet with representatives of the Fathers Rights community who could’ve educated you on the evils of VAWA.  It’s often said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but has there ever been a better example of this time-worn cliché than VAWA?  This is a law that funds and promotes the demonization of men and the criminalization of fatherhood via pseudo-scientific, agenda-driven social “science” and the consequent laws and criminal and judicial policies and procedures that are dutifully enacted by pandering politicians such as yourself. Not only that, but it actually contributes to real domestic violence via the promotion of laws such as our notorious Ch. 209A “Abuse Prevention” law, which allows a woman to criminalize a father, kick him out of his home, and take away access to his own children based on hearsay evidence: simply telling a judge that she “fears” her husband.

The next time you read of a domestic violence homicide, you might want to search for the often unreported details of the 209A “restraining order” that the victim had obtained against the perpetrator.  Fact: it is impossible to know how many potential domestic violence homicides were prevented by the issuing of a 209A restraining order. Conversely, it is possible to know how many such crimes were motivated by the issuance of a 209A order.

Consider being the recipient of such an order as a divorce tactic that restricts you from having any contact whatsoever, including third-party contact, with your own (typically infant) children. Wouldn’t that make one... angry?  Try, the angriest you have ever been in your life. Something that can feel like a death sentence, something that makes life not worth living. Would such a person be deterred from personally enacting “justice,” in their minds, by an order that is punishable by a two-and-a-half-year jail sentence and a fine?

Thus is exposed the logical fallacy in the conceptual basis for the existence of this law.

It is unquestionably unconstitutional, but until the proper authority declares it as such, it is the law, and for those tens of thousands of fathers that have been victimized by it over the years, those who live in a de-facto police state, I encourage them all to also BLANK THE BALLOT on November 6.

Male politicians like you need to understand: there will be consequences for willfully discarding the rights of men—and especially rights of fathers’— for political expediency.

Shame on you, Scott Brown.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Romney: the Republicans' Folly

Conservative pundits are befuddled.  With the terrible state of the economy—and things not trending well—why is Obama on track to win a second term? Why can’t Romney make any headway—after all, he’s a successful businessman, right?  He should be tailor-made to wrest the office from an incumbent who has not been able to turn the economy around. Well, here’s a clue: I’m a conservative, and I’m not going to fill in a ballot for Romney in November.

The reason why the election isn’t close is because the Romney/Ryan ticket has—incredibly!—lost the working middle-class vote!  Yes, you heard me.  The Democrats have actually made a better case for the middle-class vote. Those people care about Medicare and Social Security; much more than they care about the tax rate for people earning more than $250,000. The only segment of the electorate that Romney will win handily is those very same $250,000+ income folks.  The Dems are obviously going to win the entitlement class and the diversity crowd. But without a solid majority of the working middle class, the Republicans have no chance.

But even if that was not the case, the candidate that ‘sensible’ Republican pundits pimped for, Romney—how was that again, because he was the candidate most likely to beat Obama?—is manifestly unfit for the office and this is abundantly clear to a large swathe of voters cutting across all demographics.

I’m not talking about simple disagreement with the man’s positions—I’m saying that he is manifestly unfit, and shame on the party intelligentsia for not realizing this when the campaign began and we had a chance to have one of the other candidates—several of whom would have ultimately proved to fare better against Obama.

Here is why Romney is unfit for the office:

1. A person who throughout his entire career has reversed positions on serious, profound issues—not to mention ephemeral things like healthcare mandates—simply because it appeared to be expeditious at the time, cannot and should not be trusted with the highest office in the land. This cynical strategy of Romney betrays an actual disdain for the voter, if not for democracy itself. This is the reason why I would never vote for him.

2. Romney’s wealth from the latter part of his career at Bain Capital is not the kind of capitalist success that the millions of unemployed Americans want to see in the Oval Office. ‘Equity capitalism’ is not about job creation, it’s about the financial ‘instrument’ paper wealth creation more akin to the excesses of Wall Street that were responsible for the financial crash. Romney obviously refuses to release his tax returns because what is in them is something that would be even more injurious to his Fat Cat reputation than the condemnation he gets now for refusing to release them.

3. The president of the United States is not just a metaphorical CEO of state; he has to have a knowledge of, and presumably an interest in, international relations. Romney is a BEAN COUNTER. He may be a very good bean counter, but that’s all he is. His positions on foreign policy, such as they are, were clearly crafted by the same cynical political calculus that led him to flip-flop time and time again throughout his career: Set up a task force to analyze public opinion on Obama’s various foreign policy positions. Identify those for which there exists a sizeable opposition. Adopt those contrary positions as your own.

So, I blame Republicans who pushed for the unelectable Romney during the primaries, wrongly believing that among a field of weak candidates he had the best chance of beating Obama. He didn’t. The other candidates may have had whole constituencies that had to be written off—but none of which were large enough to guarantee a victory for the Democrats.

We all know the Latin for "buyer beware"—caveat emptor. But what’s the Latin for “buyer’s remorse”? It’s what Republicans nationwide are going to have come November 7.

My advice to the party? Concentrate on the Congressional elections, and try to prevent a negative coat-tails effect from the disastrous top of the ticket.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Woo Hoo! Let’s Hear it for Women’s Choices at the DNC!

Here is the message delivered by a parade of people of all sexes at the DNC (Democratic National Convention) last night:

Only women are deserving of choices.

Implicit in the steady drone of calls for “choices” for women is the unspoken notion that men are not worthy of choices.  If this was not the case, the calls would be for choices for all.

The full message, simply reduced, is:

Women have choices, men have obligations and responsibilities, carved out of the choices made for them by women.
“Choice,” of course, is the code word for birth control, which for these folks includes abortion.  Under this choice-for-women, responsibilities-for-men paradigm, consider the following scenarios:

1. Husband and wife in intact marriage. Wife gets pregnant. For whatever reason, she decides to abort. She is under no legal (or moral, according to the Democrats) obligation to even inform her husband of her “choice,” let alone ask for his approval to kill his child, whether or not he is the father of the child.

Woman: choice. Man: none.

2. Man and woman have sex. Woman intentionally fools man, telling him she was taking birth control. Woman brings baby to term. Man must pay woman child support and additional costs such as health insurance and eventually college. Child support can be sizeable fraction of man’s income – up to a third – and payable up to age 23 in some states.

Woman: choice. Man: none; responsibility and financial obligation for up to 23 years.

3. Man and woman in relationship have sex. Despite best intentions, woman gets pregnant. Woman wants to abort pregnancy; man does not, and offers to raise the child. Tough luck, bud. Not your choice.

Woman: choice. Man: none.

4. Man and woman in relationship have sex. Despite best intentions, woman gets pregnant. Woman wants to have the baby; man does not. Tough luck, bud. Not your choice. If you don’t decide to marry, you are responsible for child support, refer to (2) above.

Woman: choice. Man: none; responsibility and financial obligation for up to 23 years.

Last night there were repeated shout-outs to feminist heroine Sandra Fluke and her brave stand for another “choice” denied women by (presumably) men: the “right” to mandate that her employer-provided health insurance include free coverage for her birth control meds.

How is it that this “choice” – a matter of a monthly expense that I’m told costs about $30 a month at a pharmacy – is a rallying cry whereas the infinitely more profound and expensive “choices” denied men exampled above are ... nowhere mentioned?

Why? I just told you, stupid! Women have choices—men don’t.

So, the question, as always, remains. When do I get my choices?

And last but not least on this list of outrages that should be sufficient to dissuade any self-respecting man from ever casting a vote for a candidate from this party: the infamous redefinition of “rape” courtesy of the Republican senatorial candidate from Missouri Todd Akin. He infamously asserted that pregnancy from rape was “really rare” because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Aside from the questionable biology, what incensed feminists was the word “legitimate.” From coast to coast came the calls of outrage: Akin and the Republicans are “redefining” rape.

But the real redefinition of rape happened a long time ago. The time-worn and universally accepted meaning of rape used to be a forceful act of sex committed by a man on a woman. It could be broadened to account for male-on-male rape such as happens in prisons. The notion of female-on-male rape is largely a physical impossibility. So, the universal features of rape, as evidenced throughout history’s literature used to be:
  • Male perpetrated
  • Using force
Additionally, a man forcing sex on a child does not rest on the question of force as children are by definition biologically not sexually mature and should never under any circumstances be subject to a sexual act from an adult.

It was feminists who redefined rape to what it is today: a malleable definition that a woman can use after consensual sex, even at a later date, to identify herself as a victim of rape. If she is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, she does not have possession of her reasoning faculties and hence can claim to have been raped. Some college campuses have adopted a list of sequential behaviors that must all be verbally assented to before an act of consensual sex can be safe ... i.e., not rape. Also, we have the muddy area of “statutorial rape,” whereby an 18-year-old boy can have his life destroyed for having consensual (and loving) sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend, should circumstances arise where this is desirable to the girl and/or her family.

This redefinition of rape is the outrage, as countless men from all walks of life have had their lives destroyed by spurious illegitimate rape allegations.

Any self-respecting heterosexual man with some measure of life experience and a modicum of intelligence who votes for this party deserves the scorn, condemnation and mockery of his fellow men.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: The Newsroom

The Newsroom episode 3 excerpt

Aaron Sorkin played it smart this time, not wishing to take a chance with the networks for his latest effort, The Newsroom, which premiered Sunday on HBO. Like all his work, this is another feelgood, liberal circle-jerk, where Sorkin essentially has conversations with himself through the guise of his characters.

It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what it is about Sorkin’s work that I find so… obnoxious. It’s more than just the smug, self-righteous politically correct content, which is just his stock-in-trade.  It’s more than that. There’s something nauseating about his characters and how they interact. The dialogue. From the snap-crackle gay repartee between like-minded liberals taking gratuitous potshots at conservative straw-men to the supposedly sexually-charged dueling between principal characters, there’s something really ... obnoxious about it.

Perhaps this contributed to the early demise of Sorkin’s last “opus,” Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which quickly sunk in the ratings despite “critical acclaim”—not just the repellent, smug, self-righteous liberal politics embedded in everything Sorkin writes.

News anchor Will McEvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, is the “good” Republican, a standard device Sorkin uses so we can tell the good ones from the bad. In episode 3, “112th Congress”, even “good” Republican McEvoy finally balks at the extreme danger posed by the Tea Party, and turns his nightly news broadcast into a crusade to educate his audience on the perils of sincere but gullible Tea Partiers who are manipulated by their evil paymasters. The Tea Party doesn’t merely threaten the viability of his party, if the public isn’t educated in time, they can destroy the nation as we know it!

In his wisdom, Sorkin reluctantly acknowledges the necessity of an opposition party. No, no, a one-party (Democratic, of course) system would not ultimately best serve the Republic, he charitably concedes. He seeks to save Republicans from themselves. Hence, The West Wing’s “good” Republican presidential candidate Arnold Vineck (played by Alan Alda, in a truly inspired bit of delicious irony) and now The Newsroom’s Will McEvoy. 

Note, Sorkin finds no need to clutter up his narratives with good and bad “progressives”. You won’t find any racist African-American Al Sharptons or man-hating lesbian feminazi versions of Hilary Rosen in his dramatis personae to confuse the storytelling.

Like Studio 60, The Newsroom will undoubtedly reap “critical acclaim” from the Hollywood elites. Because it’s on HBO it isn’t subject to the brutal bottom-line ratings metrics that routinely kill the vast majority of all new major network shows, even the occasional good one. Will poor ratings be sufficient to kill it on HBO? I hope so.

The supposedly charged dialogue between McEvoy and his ex-love newly installed as his producer, doesn’t just not work—it makes me cringe.

I watched The West Wing to laugh—not with it, but at it.  But I won’t be watching any more of The Newsroom even for laughs.  I can laugh at the transparent liberal politics, but I can’t sit through watching these characters talk.

Dancing Master Mitt

So let me get this straight:

The Republicans have picked a candidate for president who implemented a state government healthcare initiative that among other things required all residents to buy healthcare insurance and fines them if they don’t. 

Furthermore, this candidate made his money (unlike his father whose business actually built THINGS) through vampire capitalism: where financial entities realize immense revenue for themselves and their stockholders through the manipulation of ”financial instruments” that typically result in the closing down of factories, killing businesses, contributing to local economic misery and unemployment. 

And this on the heels no less of the greatest economic meltdown since the great depression that was due to the financial sector -- specifically, where exotic “financial instruments” were used to gamble with billions of dollars of people’s savings and pension funds, etc.

This dancing master, who over his political career has tiptoed from being against abortion before he ran for Governor of Massachusetts, to supporting a “woman’s right to choose” while campaigning for the Governorship… back to the other toe against it when he was running in the presidential primary,

… from being pro-gay rights when he was running for Senator in Massachusetts against Ted Kennedy

…to being against gay marriage when he was Governor of Massachusetts (or was he…?  No one really knows for sure…)

… from being in favor of creating state law mandating that Americans buy healthcare insurance under severe financial penalty when Governor of Massachusetts

… to being so adamantly opposed to the mandate in Obama-Care which -- wait for it … mandates that Americans buy healthcare insurance under severe financial penalties  -- that he promises to “repeal Obama-Care on Day One”…

...is about to be tapped out.

And the punchline to this joke is…

wait for it…

The Republican voters that chose him over his rivals in the primaries did so because …

wait for it…

he had the best chance of beating Obama!


And what about the vaunted conservative CHRISTIAN RIGHT that supposedly wields so much clout in the party? Well, they’ve apparently given their seal of approval to someone who believes that humans are the spirit forms of aliens called Thetans who were trapped in a volcano by their evil alien foes the Markabians --

--Oh, wait a minute, that’s Scientology. I get them confused. Ignore this last part.


You can’t make this stuff up!  Thanks Republicans! Great job, once again. 
George Bush in 2000. Sarah Palin in 2008. And now Dancing Master Mitt. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The New American Dream: Two-and-a-half houses; hold the picket fences

House in suburbia. White picket fence. The “American Dream.”  In the face of the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression, it’s now being questioned. Is it still a realistic goal for every hardworking American?

The question is moot.

Consider: the median home price in the US was $156,600 in February this year[1]. With a 5% down and interest rate of 4.25%, a corresponding monthly payment (including principal and interest, property taxes and various mandatory insurance) amounts to about $966[2]. Not bad.  Beats renting!

Now, the average monthly cost of health insurance for a family of four is ... wait for it ... $1,420[3].

The cost of health care is now roughly one-and-a-half the cost of home ownership!

So, the notion of saving for a down payment to achieve the American Dream of home ownership—while helped by the crash of the housing market—is nonetheless rendered impossible because of the stratospheric cost of health care.  The American Dream now requires the ability for a hardworking American to earn enough to buy the equivalent of two-and-a-half houses.

So, quite frankly, yes, the American Dream is clearly out of reach of the hardworking middle class American. This is nothing less than a national disgrace.

The incontrovertible fact is that the U.S. has the worst health care system in the industrialized world.  Nearly 200,000 Americans die each year from readily curable medical maladies simply because they have no health insurance.

And all the while, Republicans and Tea Partiers rally to the cry of “Repeal Obama-Care!”
Let’s not pull any punches here. The Affordable Health Care Act is indeed, in all likelihood, a cure worse than the disease. But this is largely the fault of Republican obstructionism.

A Republican talking point holds that Obama-Care was “rushed through Congress” without adequate time for examination and consultation. Nonsense. It took a year, and the Republican Party had one simple strategy: obstruct. Oppose everything in any and every possible way, at every step. Force as many compromises as possible so that the final result would be so laden with exceptions and various crap that it would be too onerous and unwieldy to pass.

A nice strategy. It almost worked. All but the last part: it passed. And so we have Obama-Care.  And no single-payer alternative of last resort (thanks to Joe Lieberman).

Full disclosure: I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a nanny-state loving, entitlement-demanding liberal. I believe that in order to get the economy going we must not merely hold down spending and simplify the tax code, but also begin reversing state control over business, as well as personal, enterprises; that is, greatly reduce government regulation, both at the federal and local levels. We need anti-legislators in Congress and our Statehouses, politicians who will campaign on erasing laws and regulations, not drafting new ones to “improve” things. We must generate new wealth if revenues are to catch up with our ungodly deficits.

So how can I advocate for replacing the private insurance system with a single-payer? Because we are the point where there is no longer any alternative. No market reforms and/or tort reform is going to reduce that monthly healthcare premium from its present obscene value of $1,420 to a reasonable expense that Americans should be expected to pay for healthcare insurance, something comparable to a car insurance payment, perhaps $200 per month, tops. It’s too late. If anything can justify “moral equivalence of war” hyperbole, it’s this.  This needs to be fixed now.  We can no longer endure the predations of the healthcare industry which as many experts recognize creates the worst of all worlds: encouraging needless procedures, ridiculously expensive prescriptions, an absurd perversion of market forces in which doctors themselves have no clue about the actual cost of treatments they recommend, the needless deaths of uninsured people who cannot get the treatment they need, the countless bankruptcies people are forced into, the endless waiting times in emergency rooms...  I could go on ... and on ...

Once we get this monkey off our backs, the wealth of Americans will be available to do things that actually grow an economy, like buying houses. Nothing spreads money through an economy like purchasing a home. Businesses will be able to compete better internationally when healthcare costs are on par with those overseas, not to mention the vast savings in legacy costs.

Those Americans who have been drinking the ‘Repeal Obama-Care’ Kool-Aid, who really believe that the British, Canadians, Europeans, South Koreans, Taiwanese, etc., all suffer under their inferior healthcare systems need to take off their blinders. It’s really quite simple. In any of the civilized nations of the world one doesn’t lose his house and go bankrupt because he gets ill and can’t pay the doctor’s bill. And one doesn’t need to be able to afford two-and-a-half homes to actually own one.   

[1] www.worldpropertychannel.com
[2] trulia.com mortgage calculator: Principal and interest payment:$731.86; property taxes:$130.50; hazard insurance:$39.15; private mortgage insurance:$64.47

Sunday, March 11, 2012

'Professor Thoris, I presume?" John Carter movie review

First up, the important bit. Ignore the critics; this is a good movie. If you are a sci-fi fantasy fan, pay your respects to one of the godfathers of the genre, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and see the movie. The plot is well thought out and the special effects are first rate. You will not be disappointed.

Next: full disclosure. I began reading Marvel comics at 10, and discovered science fiction a little later as a teenager. In my lifetime of exposure to these genres I somehow managed to avoid the progenitor of it all, John Carter of Mars, created nearly a century ago. Until, that is, a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon a beautifully illustrated hardcover volume of the first three novels on a bargain table in Barnes & Nobles. I had just finished the book days before seeing the movie. Since I have not read all eleven John Carter (original) novels, I am uncertain as to whether elements in the movie that aren’t in either of the first three books are inventions for the movie or things revealed in the later books.

The movie is loosely based on the first book in the series, “The Princess of Mars.” All the main characters are present: Tars Tarkus, Jeddak of the Tharks, Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Helium and Carter’s love interest, her father Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium, Kantos Kan, an ally, the villain Sab Than, Jeddak of Zadonga, and the master villain Matai Shang, a Thern, who is introduced in the second book, “The Gods of Mars.”  A small part of the storyline from this book is brought into the movie.

The story follows “Princess” in only the broadest brushstrokes. The villains from the second book, the Therns, are brought into the story, and have been upgraded from one of the several Barsoomian races to cosmic proportions, including the ability to shapeshift. The primary conflict between the red men of Helium and those of Zadonga is consistent with “Princess,” as is the alliance with the Tharks owing to Carter’s winning ways with the savage race of 6-limbed green-skinned warriors.

The writers have done an excellent job of fashioning a modified story line that includes these plot lines and works very well as a movie.

John Carter of Mars inspired talented men of various walks of life, from Jack Kirby to George Lucas to physicist Carl Sagan. He may very well have been the first sci-fi fantasy superhero. Similarities of the various Barsoomian names with some in Star Wars have already been noted.  I discovered that Lockjaw, the family pet of Jack Kirby’s Inhumans, was most likely inspired by Carter’s pet Calot, Woola.

Now to the criticisms. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ writing is muscular and engaging. His protagonist was an injun’-fighting, adventure-seeking individualist, as well as a southern gentleman. I would have preferred the character to have been scripted more consistent with ERB’s writing. 

The opening sequence of the book which leads to Carter’s miraculous, and (in the book) unexplained, voyage to Mars results from a fight with wild, villainous indians.  Consistent with political correctness, this sequence of events has been “corrected” for the movie. The native Americans are no longer a guilty party in this insignificant detail of the story.

Also PC’d-up for the movie is the damsel in perpetual distress, Dejah Thoris. Like Thor’s love, Jane Foster, who was promoted from his alter-ego’s nurse in the comic books to the most brilliant astro-physicist on earth for the movie, Princess Dejah Thoris is now also a warrior scientist, “Professor Thoris.”  She is the only scientist on Helium who is on the threshold of discovering the all-powerful ninth ray, and someone whose sword-fighting skills are more than a match for the martial abilities of the hordes of fierce enemy Zadongans.

It’s unfortunate that such ‘gendernorming’ is apparently mandatory in the current climate.  I guess the notion of a helpless woman requiring the strength, heroism—not to mention love—of a muscular, chivalrous stand-up dude is just too ... unsettling for some.

All in all, despite the minor flaws, John Carter is a winner. I hope movie-goers aren’t deterred by negative reviews, many written by people who have never read the books and  may not understand that elements of the story that seem clichéd are in fact the original source of the clichés. I hope to see John Carter become a franchise. I look forward to seeing the next installment of the story, which will reveal more about the Therns, the mysterious “Gods of Mars.”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Santorum’s comments argue for a national conversation on education

If you can believe the mainstream media talking heads, Rick Santorum has volunteered yet another example of his (in their minds) right-wing, anti-intellectual small-mindedness by daring to broach the subject of college education; specifically, the expectations of a college degree, as an entitlement—if not a birthright—of every American.

From time to time, Americans are rudely reminded by some racially-charged news story of the need for a “national conversation on race.” Today there is no question that America is sorely in need of a different national discussion: on college education. Consider, many people believe that the next wheel to fall off our precarious economy is the potential for default on the billions of dollars of college loans held by recent graduates. The potential financial disaster is worrisome enough, but that isn’t what Santorum is talking about.

Let’s look at some of the transcript of the interview by George Stephanopoulos on his show “This Week” on Feb. 26.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now getting to college has been part of the American dream for generations, Senator. Why does articulating an aspiration make the president a snob?

SANTORUM: I think because there are lot of people in this country that have no desire or no aspiration to go to college, because they have a different set of skills and desires and dreams that don't include college.

And to sort of lay out there that somehow this is -- this is -- should be everybody's goal, I think, devalues the tremendous work that people who, frankly, don't go to college and don't want to go to college because they have a lot of other talents and skills that, frankly, college, you know, four-year colleges may not be able to assist them.

And there are other -- there's technical schools, there's additional training, vocational training. There's skills and apprenticeships. There's all sorts of things that people can do to upgrade their skills to be very productive and -- and build their community.

Now, while it’s true that Newt Gingrich might have worded this more artfully, Santorum has hit a nerve with a lot of Americans, including this one who happens to be in the teaching profession. I have been saying for years that among the many, many problems with our “academic-educational complex” (copyright pending), those of us of the previous generation recognize a marked difference in both the quality of education and the place it holds in the marketplace.

Consider, back in the day, when an employer needed to hire workers, in most situations the skills necessary were peculiar to the business, and new hires had to learn the skills on the job. Such an employer was therefore looking to hire someone who was capable of learning. Typically, the minimum requirement to gain an interview was a high school diploma and a cleanly written resume. If the applicant had graduated high school with good grades, he/she was presumably educable and potentially capable of learning the job. (Of course, this doesn’t apply to professions that require an established knowledge base, such as medicine, the law, engineering, etc.) The high school degree was the passport for entrance into the workforce. It was proof of the bearer’s possession of the minimum skills necessary to be a functioning and capable member of the adult world.

Flash forward to today.  Now, many similar employers will not even look at job applicants if they don’t have a college degree. Chances are the car salesman who conned you into your last purchase has a college degree. The waitress at the restaurant may even have a college degree.

The college degree has become the equivalent of the high school degree.  I once joked to an old friend that his degree from New York’s Stuyvesant High School in the early seventies was the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. “From Harvard,” he quipped.

But there is one huge difference. Gaining the “passport” for gainful employment today doesn’t just take an additional 4 years, at minimum—it comes with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. It’s been said before: When our children realize what we’ve done to them they will murder us in our sleep.

But that’s just one aspect of this colossal hoax that has been played on Generation X’ers or Y’ers, whatever they’re called.  Santorum is correct when he implies that a college education is expected of all Americans, that, in fact, if you’re not college educated, you ain’t shit, to put it colloquially. For those too young to know, here’s how it used to go, before the self-esteem, everyone-gets-a-trophy social engineers took over.  Kids went to school. They were segregated by intelligence, as measured by reading, writing and math abilities. Kids in the smarter classes were ‘tracked” for college. The others were often steered towards careers in the trades.

Santorum is right again. There are technical and trade schools—but they have been demoted by the elitists. What happens to someone who is really suited to a trade but goes along with the program and goes to college? What happens to the individual who has no interested in reading, but may be talented with their hands; someone who likes to work on cars for instance? As a mechanic, if they’re good and have a good work ethic, they may eventually own their own shop and with an excellent income stream and a rewarding job live a happy and successful life. But when steered into college, several years and tens of thousands of dollars may be wasted on pursuing an unrealistic and unrealizable, or even worse —undefined—goal.

Is 16 years of schooling really necessary to be a competent, functioning, employable citizen? To gain the ability to write an error-free business letter, basic mathematical literacy, adult-level reading comprehension, computer literacy, the ability to speak clearly and intelligibly on a subject, and basic understanding of our civic institutions? Of course not!  Twelve years is plenty.  Then why isn’t it possible now to graduate high school students with this basic level of academic mastery? Because everyone expects that another 4 years of school is coming, where the child’s real education is expected to take place.

Going back to the transcript, we get to the other point Santorum raises regarding college education, a more controversial and political point.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... In your interview with Glenn Beck this week, you seemed to go further. You said I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because they are indoctrination mills. What did that mean?

SANTORUM: Well, of course. I mean, you look at the colleges and universities, George. This is not – this is not something that's new for most Americans, is how liberal our colleges and universities are and how many children in fact are – look, I've gone through it. I went through it at Penn State. You talk to most kids who go to college who are conservatives, and you are singled out, you are ridiculed, you are – I can tell you personally, I know that, you know, we – I went through a process where I was docked for my conservative views. This is sort of a regular routine (ph). You know the statistic that at least I was familiar with from a few years ago -- I don't know if it still holds true but I suspect it may even be worse – that 62 percent of kids who enter college with some sort of faith commitment leave without it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But Senator, when you put all this together—

SANTORUM: This is not a neutral setting.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- it makes it sound like you think there is something wrong with encouraging college education.

SANTORUM: No, not at all, but understand that we have some real problems at our college campuses with political correctness, with an ideology that is forced upon people who, you know, who may not agree with the politically correct left doctrine. And one of the things that I've spoken out on and will continue to speak out is to make sure that conservative and more mainstream, common-sense conservative and principles that have made this country great are reflected in our college courses and with college professors. And at many, many, and I would argue most institutions in this country, that simply isn't the case.

Again, Newt Gingrich would have worded this more eloquently—but then again, this is part of Santorum’s appeal: he doesn’t speak like a professor; he speaks like a normal, average American.

Unlike the Great College Con of the necessary college education for all, the left-wing skewing of the academic-educational complex is not a new, previously undiscovered issue. Conservatives have been railing about it for years. As such, this dimension of the college conversation doesn’t require much explanation or exposition here; everyone should be familiar with the arguments. Essentially, progressives and conservatives simply see this completely different. Liberals don’t believe there is any liberal bias. They don’t believe that a 9:1 ratio of Democrat-voting educators to Republicans is proof of a liberal conspiracy. Rather, they hew to the belief that becoming “progressive” is a natural, and positive, consequence of higher education. To conservatives, the liberal bias on the campus is a self-evident truth confirmed by any cursory examination of any college’s curriculum, published policies, hiring practices, or any of the other portals to their domain. It’s not even necessary to actually sit through a social science or humanities lecture.

So, kudos to Santorum for once again braving the headwinds of political correctness and daring to say the un-sayable. Whether he gets the nomination or not, let’s not let this opportunity go by without starting the real national conversation on education.

# # #

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mitt Romney: Soul-less clone or Cylon ‘skin-job’?

While listening to the Howie Carr talk-radio show yesterday I had a minor revelation. An exasperated caller was asking why Republicans were resisting getting behind the one candidate who “clearly is in the best position to wrest the presidency from Obama,” (Mitt Romney). It occurred to me that this question deserves a simple, honest answer—and it just so happens that one is readily available.

The caller rattled off Romney’s positions on economic issues that most Republicans agree are appropriate detours from present policies; required if we are to get the economy on the right track.

But here’s the rub. Having observed Romney for many years, I cannot honestly say that I know what his real opinion is, on ... anything! His infamous flip-flops on two of the most profound personal issues of the day: abortion and gay marriage, clearly underscore the degree of Romney’s opportunistic hypocrisy. But even more than that, listening to what he says on the campaign trail, does he ever—ever!—respond to a question with an answer that appears to be other than a calculated, focus-group vetted, scripted answer? The man speaks in bullet points.  I detect no sincerity or authenticity in the man whatsoever. He truly behaves like an automaton. A reporter recently observed that when Romney signs his name, he carefully writes out each and every letter. Hmmm...

His spokespeople consistently—and unabashedly—tell us: “Don’t judge Romney by what he says while campaigning, judge him by his record when he governs.” So, aside from the fact that we are being explicitly told not to believe anything he says to us now, when he is running for office, it begs a deeper question. If Romney is elected president, at what point does he become candidate Romney running for his second term?  Year four? Year three? Year two?

It isn’t difficult to imagine a scenario where at some point in a first term his handlers determine he needs to veer to the left. What if a Supreme Court seat becomes vacant at this time? What do we know about Romney that would give us confidence that he wouldn’t make an appointment calculated to improve his approval ratings with some liberal segment of the electorate?

So the short and sweet answer to why no voter in his right mind should ever vote for Mitt Romney is this:  How can you vote for someone when you have no basis for knowing who they really are and what they really believe? 

In contrast, ask yourself: Do you know what Ron Paul believes?  Do you think that Rick Santorum is hiding his real beliefs from the voters?

Romney made his Faustian bargain with Deceit a long time ago. The record is clear. Go to the videotape. Caveat emptor. Vote for this political whore at your own peril.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Why Rick Santorum is about to become “the most hated man in America”

The reason for the quotations around the phrase in the title is because Rick Santorum is not likely to really become the most hated man in America, but we are about to witness a media campaign intended to convince us the Rick Santorum is, indeed, the most hated man in America. Santorum will be on the receiving end of this hate campaign because he is about to emerge in a very strong position, perhaps even first, in the Iowa Caucuses on Tuesday.

The Christian/social conservative segment of the Republican party has danced at one time or another with all of the candidates that legitimately tout their consistency on conservative social positions: Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and now Rick Santorum. The campaigns of Bachmann, Perry and Gingrich have been found wanting; failing to maintain the traction that they possessed at various times in the campaign.  It should be clear that the surge that Santorum is now experiencing should not be surprising. He is a bona fide social conservative -- not a fair-weather one -- and his views on other issues are well within the mainstream of the party. It is only logical that Santorum should now be the recipient of the conservative vote that has been dissatisfied, at one time or another, with Herman Cain as well as Newt Gingrich, Bachmann and Perry. But why is Rick Santorum the last choice for these voters, instead of, perhaps, the first?

At a time when the precarious state of the national economy, not to mention the global economy, is the most important issue of our time, Rick Santorum has never failed to inject social issues at every opportunity, even when debate moderators seemed to deliberately steer clear of it. Santorum passionately asserts that the biological nuclear family is the cornerstone of a healthy society, and that virtually all of our ills can in some way, shape, or form be traced back to the fact that the nuclear family in the U.S. is under attack from what I am going to call the NYT (New York Times) new morality. This could just as easily be called the “progressive morality,” “Hollywood morality,” “educational industrial complex morality,” or a million other names. It’s the belief that the nuclear biological family--the patriarchy, if you will--must be toppled from its position as the primary pillar of society, and in fact, of civilization itself. Instead, it should be regarded as just one of several social arrangements, no better or no worse, than new, enlightened alternatives.

This belief is so profound among its adherents that it takes on the character of religious zealotry.  Those, like Santorum, who resist it, are branded apostates of the new cultural norm. Though most Americans do not subscribe to this radical revolution in thought, it is being imposed in virtually all segments of society by its advocates: the educational-industrial complex, the news media, the entertainment industry, and the legal academy.

The media’s response to Rick Santorum’s candidacy has been textbook liberal playbook. Just like the response to the Tea Party, the strategy to nullify follows three phases. First, neutralize by dismissing and ignoring. Initially, the media simply wouldn’t cover Tea Party news events.  Similarly, Santorum couldn’t scrape together two consecutive column inches in the newspaper.  The next phase, when the Tea Party and now Santorum didn’t simply go away, is mockery.  Specific events are chosen to show the Tea Party and Rick Santorum in a ridiculous light. Recently, a Saturday Night Live skit lampooned the now doubtful debate to have been moderated by Donald Trump in which only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum agreed to participate. The sole “joke” involving the Santorum character occurred when he attempted to speak and was immediately cut off by ‘Trump’ yelling: “Shut up! You’re a loser!”

Cue the guffaws from the “hip” SNL audience.

When that doesn’t work, we finally get to phase three, where the news media is forced to give real coverage to the object of scorn, and its disgust in being forced to do so is clearly manifest in the transparent biased coverage.

We are now in phase two w/r to Santorum, transitioning to phase three after Tuesday.  The media elites are now beside themselves in rage over the apparent success of the “Neanderthal” Santorum. It’s going to get ugly now.