Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ethanol a Rip-Off, a Political Payback for Farmers Votes, or Both?

In an earlier blog, I recommended that those of you who read me and are concerned about your capital management, subscribe to Perkins Capital Management, Inc. newsletter. You can reach them at One paragraph titled, “The Great Ethanol Debate” dated April 26, 2002 is revisited. In Perkins’s July newsletter, they bring the reader up to date with an article titled “Ethanol Revisited”. Quoting the current newsletter “We called it a bureaucratic boondoggle then (2002); today nothing has changed other than the boondoggle is bigger. The government today gives over $2 billion in subsidies to producers and blenders via a 51-cent-per-gallon credit. Demand for ethanol has caused its price to rise to about $4.50 per gallon currently which makes it far more expensive than gasoline with which it is blended, which today is about $3.00 at the pump. And recall that congress is mandating that ethanol use MUST grow to a minimum of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.” The Perkins letter goes on “Then there is an inherent inefficiency of ethanol as a vehicle that gets 20 miles per gallon on gasoline, gets about 15 miles on the blend. Then consider the other unintended consequences, the higher price of corn due to increased demand translates to higher price you pay for all other products connected to the use of corn such as beef and cornflakes.”

Sum up: Ethanol is not as efficient as gasoline, costs more than gasoline, and requires more energy to produce. As usual, the consumer pays for it in the end, thru higher taxes for the subsidies, higher gasoline prices, reduced mileage and higher prices for products using corn. Since ethanol cannot be transported by pipeline, ethanol haulers help cog the highways and put more wear and tear on the infrastructure.

Brazil is held as a shining example of ethanol production by using the entire sugarcane plant. No corn. The Brazil scenario came from an overproduction of sugarcane in 1975 causing the government to mandate that surplus sugarcane be converted to ethanol.

We are searching for other products that can be converted into ethanol for less cost. That would be a good thing is there were no subsidies.

On 4/28/04, Alan Greenspan is quoted as repeating the medical creed “government should do no harm”. Quite often, the government does harm. Competitive harm.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Jobs go begging in Peoria, evidently. Today’s JS has 8 1/4 pages of employers looking for employees. The employer’s problem is that too many applicants aren’t qualified. Many can not read well enough to be hired, fail drug tests, have court records, have no resumes that back up their self-esteem, (or maybe they never really earned much self-esteem), little math skills and too much of their computer skills are limited to playing games. Or, some of the possible applicants may feel that the starting pay is too low and the work, too hard.

Many schools across the country are using innovative techniques to help students develop needed skills by convincing kids that mastering required job skills will help them get and hold a job that will pay at least livable wages. It opens opportunities to be working and enjoying their work at the same time. In Peoria Public School District #150, I’m told that counselors guide the kids onto paths where they may have the best chance to succeed. But today’s kids often have so many personal problems that counselors don’t have the time to do what they where originally intended to do.: Guide and encourage kids to pay attention in the classroom, master the basics of reading, writing, basic arithmetic and math and computer skills. Counselors must have the time to help kids of every age and background understand they must learns the basics schools offer. Otherwise, how can they help kids select courses that can eventually lead to career’s in which they are most likely to succeed. Counselors should be advising kids that they can only expect to be hired if they have proper attitudes, basic skills and the work ethics required for the job being offered.

This school season is opening with more enthusiasm than I’ve noticed in some other years. Northmoor, as an example of the many good schools that we have in #150, has an open house and lunch for both parents and teachers Monday and I’m invited to attend. All teachers are excited about teaching these kids in this great learning atmosphere created by themselves, staff, concerned parents, interested community leaders, School Board Member Mary Spangler and Principal Nicole Wood.

As kids get older, problems become more prevalent and many kids get lost in the school system and in the community. But, by getting off to a good start in the lower grades usually determines their success in middle schools and high schools. With a well rounded high school education and a work ethic, kids are equipped to become assets to communities no matter what type of a home background they come from.

The community offers many other programs that help kids, especially those who have faltered along the way, assistance to get their GED, Workforce Development, I.C.C., Bradley and private industry programs. We have strong social networks guiding kids to make correct decisions about where they are heading before too many mistakes are made. We need even more preventive programs to slow the clogging of our welfare systems, our juvenile court systems, county jails and prisons.

More vocational training guidance at an age earlier than high school is an absolute and #150 has failed in the past to provide more kids the opportunity to succeed even if they never set foot in a college. With recent new leadership, I believe beneficial opportunities in vocational training in District #150 public school system will benefit employers and allow our local young people to become fully employed and become contributing good citizens.

Please scroll my archives where I have written dozens of blogs on our school systems.

I ask that reader’s post additional information on my blog site about our school systems and the employer’s increasing hiring dilemmas.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lebanon and the Hezbollah

The first reaction to the news today of a cease fire was treated by many with “exuberance”. Then later in the day, reality set in. The Hezbollah fired guns and publicly claimed victory. Then they said they would not lay down their arms. The stock markets first reaction sent the market up over 100 points. Then as the media mostly correctly presented the overall picture, the market went into negative territory rallying a few points up after President Bush also correctly assessed the cease fire.

You can read all about it and watch it on TV but if I was sending funds to Lebanon, it would only be to better their education, aid in housing the innocent citizenry and improve their health systems. I doubt if the destruction of that country’s infrastructure is over. Leaders in the United States with Lebanon connections, and there are many, should be encouraging the citizenry to see what exactly Hezbollah has had in mind all these years. Hezbollah finally pushed Israel to inflict major damage to Hezbollah headquarters, missile sites and transportation routes of weapons of destruction. Civilians were killed mainly because the cowardly terrorists used them as “human shields”. The Hezbollah knew that the liberal media (Now even Fox as some times) would take pictures of innocent people who were killed and maimed and pass these pictures of human destruction to the world to gain sympathy for Hezbollah in their efforts to annihilate Israel. Transportation routes for weaponry that come mainly from Iran trafficked thru Syria were destroyed or severely damaged unfortunately disrupting the lives of many who live in Lebanon. Rockets fired to start the conflict came from Hezbollah’s arsenal of 13,000 and severely disrupted life again in Israel.

Innocent people are always killed and maimed in conflicts such as Sherman’s march thru the Southern Confederacy and the bombing of London and Berlin in WW2.

If any country wants to send help to rebuild Lebanon's other infrastructures before this conflict is really resolved, let it be someone besides the United States.

These conflicts are not over and may never be. Don’t we understand that the wrong people are often trying to force their ways upon us and enslave us? When countries say they are going to annihilate another country, there is little room for negotiation, for appeasement and for lasting peace.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Subsidies granted to farmers make the U.S competitive seems to be the theme of all farmers who receive these taxpayer funded grants. In a letter to the editor in today’s JS an Eleanor Zimmerlein writes that the farmers aren’t receiving any more subsides than TIF programs, water and sewer upgrades, prevailing and minimum wages, unemployment compensation, mass transit, and Amtrak use that we city dwellers receive. She asks “Aren’t these subsidies that farmers don’t receive?” She says that farmers pay more to support the local school district than the non-farmer. If subsidies are to be eliminated, so should subsidies to all other segments of our economy. (I probably would agree to that) She is replying to an article written by Jonah Goldberg titled “Biggest welfare kings ride farm tractors”.

Hmmm. Being on the County Board I dispute that farmers pay more of their income to school districts than city dwellers. Approximately 30% of the people living in Peoria I read, are retired folks, many with incomes derived mainly thru Social Security. I agree with her on TIF’s especially when TIF money goes to large corporations like Walmart and Cub Foods. Walmart land got to be a TIF because it was in a “depressed” area. Depressed, the TIF granters said because it was only $13,000 an acre farmland. Or if we don’t give them a TIF they might locate in Dunlap. As far as Amtrak, I believe the modern farmer travels about as much if not more than city folks. I see that farmers are asking city folks to extend sewers and public water out to their farmland so that they can sell their land for private development. So they use sewers and public water too. Since many small farmers hold two jobs, I believe they can collect some of the same benefits as city folks.

I’ll turn now to what Author John Stossel he of 20/20) says about subsidies. “Myth: Farm subsidies guarantee us an ample food supply. Truth: Food would be just as plentiful without giving subsidies.” John continues “Farm subsidies are popular with politicians because Big Agriculture lobbies hard, and many farm votes swing states. In addition, farms are romantic; no one wants to lose the family farm. And people believe that without subsidies, we wouldn’t have a reliable food supply. What a totally insane myth that is. Hundreds (should be thousands) of the “farmers” that get your tax money thru farm subsidies live in New York (or Miami). Once government handouts start, they rarely stop, no matter how ridiculous they get. Ted Turner has gotten $491,179, David Rockefeller $524,167, and Enron’s ken Lay (now dead of a heart attack?) got $22,486. Fred and Larry Starrh grow cotton in California. Over seven years, they had collected $.5 million of your money. All these people believe in limited government but they believe they need these subsidies for their special farm needs. They say without them, they can’t make a profit.”

Stossel also says “So what, not making a profit doesn’t entitle them to our money. Most businesses that don’t make a profit go out of business. About 20,000 restaurants go out of business each year. It is the freedom to fail that’s helped make America as prosperous as it is, because it frees people to do more productive things.” My old company couldn’t make a profit on office supplies, machines and budget furniture after Office Depot and Office Max located in the area. No government person had any intention of giving Widmer’s’ a subsidy to stay profitable. Widmer’s just moved into a more innovative segment of the industry and do quite well.

The worry seems to be that without subsidies for certain products, customers would go elsewhere. Correct, if you can’t compete with others in the market, then others fill the void just like the textile industry and many other. The benefit to all taxpayers is that products cost less money which leaves more money to spend on something else like a better education.

Stossel points out “Around 1900, America had 6 million farms and the Agriculture Dept. employed 3,000 people. Today there are 2 million farms and the Agriculture Dept. employs over 100,000 people. At this rate someday their will be more bureaucrats than farmers.

The lament is “every other government is doing it”. Probably correct but we are not supposed to be a socialist country. At least not yet. One of the things that keeps most of Africa in poverty, is that there is no market for the food they produce other than for their own use. What they grow is their major source of income. But it is cheaper to import the very things they grow themselves.

I am a believer in a “level playing field”. So far, I’m having some trouble understanding what “level” is. Giving subsidies to Walmart and Cub Foods who by size eliminate their competition, is does not create a “level playing field” in my opinion. On the other hand if government giving out handouts is lawful I guess I take them also. I believe the only “subsidy” I’ve ever taken was the GI Bill and Social Security. Probably makes me a Socialist just like the people I’m talking about.

Then maybe, probably not.

Profiling; Is More Better Than Less?

Kathleen Parker a columnist who appears with some regularity in the JS is also my kind of a woman. In her column today titled “Profiling simply makes sense” I couldn’t agree more. She says that “profiling seems so un-American and dangerous. The paranoid leap is that detention camps are just around the bend,” she states. Thus, instead of frisking a likely perpetrator, we frisk elderly and Catholic grandmothers and black or Caucasian babies.

She writes “It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain that almost all terrorists are Muslim.. ..We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly implemented by Muslim men and women.” Well, not exactly true because our prisons are filled with mostly black and white people and some of them are absolutely terrifying. But most of them did not have a mindset to randomly and openly kill people and themselves at the same time nor have I ever read or seen where any of them thought they were going to heaven to have the sexual use of 72 Virginians, opps, I mean Virgins. I don’t have to be John Banzhaf, a profiling defender, to know that you follow the law and make sure that ethnicity is not the sole criteria.

It’s interesting what an apparently true believer said in a letter to the editor today. I quote what he wrote “Islam is simply about properly recognizing what rights the creator has over you and that you have with him. This is believing in God’s singularity that there is no thing or person like him.” Now here is where what Chris Caras says that gets really interesting. “(It) Islam recognizes His exclusive rights to all aspects of invocation, worship and devotion. Muslims are to submit to the creator not only with their hearts, but also with their tongues and limbs.” “Nor is Islam entirely about peace.”


Anyhow, I worry more about the liberal media and the extremist environmentalists taking away my rights than I do about Kevin Lyons, Sheriff McCoy or George Bush.

JonBenet Ramsey

“Suspect nabbed in JonBenet slaying” is a header in the JS today and later Fox News quotes the alleged killer as saying “he loved her” and didn’t mean to kill her. He said it was "an accident". Probably not, he just meant to molest this 6 year old child. The media reports that there are a lot of young girls on the streets in Thailand where I believe he was at the time of his arrest. The law is pretty lenient toward child abuse in Thailand, I hear.

All these years the Ramsey family lived under a cloud of suspicion and mother Patsy Ramsey is dead. What a horrible scenario of crimes committed and slanderous suspicions put on the whole Ramsey family. I suspect like the Iranians and the Holocaust, many people will still not believe the alleged killer did the deed and the Ramsey’s are guilty too, even if he is convicted

Credit the law with never giving up on the case? Maybe, time will tell whether they knew all along and were just inefficient or whether new evidence turned up. I hope it is the later. Credit the media? Maybe, here again time may tell. Could this be another case similar to the O.J. Simpson case where prosecution will fail to seat a non-prejudicial jury, will pick a weak judge and weak prosecutor? Will the alleged killer go free? Why did it take so long to tie him to the murder? How unfortunate.

We could not get along without the media and law enforcement agencies. However, both institutions are sometimes held as above the law themselves. When the Journal Star slandered me a number of years ago, I was told by my attorney that no slander or libel lawsuit had ever been won against the printed media in Illinois in the past 40 years. So Journalists can write what they want with impunity. The JS, being our most widely read distributor of the news, prints many errors and half-truths, some of which appear to be deliberate. Most vicious writers are Terry Bibo and Phil Luciano. Also, Andy Kravetz, JS writer, friend of the man who threatened to take my M-F head off in numerous threatening ways, couldn’t read a police report years ago that clearly stated that the man who threatened to remove my M—F in numerous ways was the aggressor, not me. Andy turned it around and printed that I was the aggressor. (To the credit of Kravetz did say he was sorry if he caused me any pain) Finally Jack Brimeyer allowed an article to be published as a correction buried on P. 11, Section B, and lower left hand corner. Even then when I was told “this mild mannered Arthur Ashe type fellow would send a man up from the Southside to do kill me, I made the mistake of replying that “I would need an equalizer” and the JS reprinted my statement insinuating that saying I needed to protect myself from a potential killer, was a no-no.

Bibo took out her wrath on me because I went over her head with a revelation that a certain fund raiser in the area was keeping 90% of the proceeds. That’s right, 90% and I can prove. Bibo didn’t think it was story; I did and went over her head. (The story never did get printed but now I understand the fund raiser is only keeping 85% of the take.) Bibo, the far left female Don Quixote writer of the Journal Star, got her revenge with a bundle of outright lies that she printed in the JS to try to ruin my reputation. She wrote an article about the black man aggressor living with a white woman both long gone from the community but not forgotten; a man who threatened my life, calling him a mild mannered Arthur Ashe, and I, 30 years older, was a rich mean racist capitalist.

Phil Luciano wrote half-truths and lies about me recently. When I called Luciano in anger unfortunately he wasn’t in so I left my message to him stating “that if A-H’s could fly, he would be a jet.” Knowing the character of Luciano, I sure he delighted in playing my recording to anyone who would listen. If he will send me a transcript of my message to him, I will be glad to print it on this blog site. The JSEB then repeated the half-truths causing me to write a letter to the editor in my defense. The JSEB did print my letter.

What has this got to do with the tragedy of JoBenet and her family? You’ll know when you have been falsely accused or smeared with half-truths by the media. (Many of you like Ron Jones, already have been) As to the law enforcement agencies in this area? They are by record, pretty top notch. So are the large majority of newspapers, journalists and publishers.

As I go door to door in my campaign efforts people often ask me why I want to be in the political eye and take the abuse. I say, I’ve been abused so much, I’ve learned to deal with it fairly well I also tell them I do it because I haven’t completed my obligation to serve the community. Also, no community leader from the Republican Party stepped forward and said they wanted to run for my position. So I’m asking to be reelected for one final term. Then I’ll be free to write on all the material in my files and learn to shorten my blogs.

If You Like to Read to Learn, Read These Books

Ranking right up there with “Freakonomics” and “The World is Flat” is the New York Times best selling author John Stossel’s (of 20/20) “Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity”. What a read! Also, you can still find copies of Myron Magnet’s “The Dream and the Nightmare – The Legacies of the 60’s” and the book “In Defense of Elitism” by William A. Henry. I’ve described all of these books in previous blogs as being superior reads and now that I have read John Stossel’s latest book, I rank him as another pretty much my type of an author and suggest him as a great read.

For those of you just picking me up on this site and delving into my archives, you will soon find out I’m not very politically correct and I do not tolerate fools gladly at times, even myself. (I learned how to use a computer in March of 2004 and started blogging intermittently in late August of 2004.)While I am approaching 30,000 views or hits; could be more if all the people who say they read me are actually doing so. You’ll note I’m not the typical blogger but write more “documentaries” that usually don’t attract a lot of comments because I think I appeal to a slightly different blogger audience with perhaps less opportunity for controversial dialogue.

I’m making this a short blog because I have a number of other blogs to get out and a limited time to do this as I am on the campaign trail to get myself reelected to serve a final term on the Peoria County Board. If you want a copy of my campaign platform you can reach me on my email site. If you want to visit myself or myself and others over coffee to discuss community issues that you feel need further addressing, that can be arranged. I could use more help going door to door.

My extensive filing system dates back to the early 90’s when I sold my business and I started paying more attention to what was going on in my community and the rest of our world. I suggest we will all be better off paying closer attention. A lot of people who would do you bodily harm ARE paying more attention than some of us. I believe our current administration and bureaucrats are also paying closer attention, just sometimes screwing up as the body politic is bound to do. That includes Republicans, Democrats, Independents, non-voters and Hollywood types.

Monday, August 14, 2006

"Freedom Fighters"

The Editors of the Editorial pages in the Wall Street Journal almost always print letters that are well thought out and often present several ways to look at an action or political stance. A letter from an Alex Custin from Bethlehem, Pa., may be interesting to my readers. Commenting on a commentary titled “The Worst Genocide Ever” printed on 8/01/06, referring to the Khmer Rouge mass murders; Mr. Custin says that the policies of Mao and Stalin resulted in the combined deaths of 100,000,000 people. Crimes against humanity conducted by left wingers like Fidel Castro, Kim Jong 2 or the Shining path, are almost always rationalized or conveniently ignored. Crimes committed by right wing groups are prosecuted with vigor or whose prosecution is sought and acclaimed by the mass media.

The double standard allows terrorist organizations to engage in mass murder with impunity as long as they market themselves as “freedom fighters” aiding the oppressed. The present day conflict in the Middle East and with the Hezbollah ares prime example of this hypocrisy.

If the Khmer Rouge had been classified as a right-wing fascist group, their leaders and other would have been charged, tried and convicted and executed long ago. Since they are not so classified ‘our hunger for justice’ will remain unsatiated.”

Well said, and so sad, Mr. Custin.

Major Robert Freitag

Thanks to people like Major Freitag who is serving his and our country in Iraq and who is helping to make life better for a people emerging from decades of severe oppression. Major Freitag states in today’s JS that “We’re clearly providing the best health care (Iraqis) have had in their lives. Local Iraqis brought in a 6-month old baby who was dying and we put all our resources to save the child. Those things are going on inside Abu Ghraib today, not torture and abuse.” While Major Freitag said the country is still unstable and full of violence, he wishes the stories of troops bettering the lives of the Iraqi people were told. “The experience taught me to appreciate what I have and how fortunate we are. Beyond that, I think it will take a while to come to grips with how it’s made me look at things.”

Iraq and the Middle East have suffered under oppression of many types over many centuries. Everyone should have understood that hatreds, jealousy, lack of education and lack of manufactured products or other goods to export, were not going to be quickly changed in a decade or two. When politicians, historians, analysts and commentators make some type of comparison with Iraq and with our own Civil War and Reconstruction these thinking people realize that democracy in Iraq was not going to be a happy marriage of religions and tribal customs and ethnic cultures. After all, we still, after almost 150 years, struggle with the aftermath of the war that was supposed to have ended in 1865.

Thanks, Major Freitag for honorably serving your country like the overwhelming majority of all United States citizens serving in one capacity or another, are doing or have done, in Iraq.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Profiling? I believe the majority of the voters in this country want our law enforcement officers (and the citizenry) to use good common sense on this subject. Our law enforcement departments don’t suspect people because of their race, religion, occupation, dress, height, weight, age, sex, attractiveness, education, or profession. Behavioral factors are a major reason anyone should be watched. If authorities suspect something may be out of place the great majority of us want them to continue further surveillance. Law enforcement officers are trained to look for patterns such as individuals buying cell phones by the case or large quantities of explosive making materials. Other factors including “profiling”, who they communicate and socialize with, would be included in the laws assessment whether to warrant legitimate surveillance, search or arrest. Our safety often depends on expediency as most of us would rather be inconvenienced than dead or injured. Do officers of the law sometimes make mistakes? Yes, and sometimes serious ones but that is the way of our lives. Corrective action is usually taken.

I was born on a farm and we profiled with regularity. If we saw individuals and activities that did not fit in with our neighborhood kept an eye on the situation and sometimes alerted our neighbors. It was not unusual to have our produce stolen and it was not being stolen by the neighbors. Now living in the city, I expect our informal neighborhood watch to do the same. If we had an animal missing we described it by color, sex, size and breed. If we saw a Hereford bull among our Angus heifers, (or vice-versa) we made some quick decisions without asking the heifers what they thought.

When I was very young we had gypsy wagon caravans that would come down the back roads. Most of them were not thieves but our awareness senses were alerted until they had moved on. Also, our Mom would not let any hired men sleep in our house; I had seven sisters so mom was doing a little profiling on her own.

After 9/11 profiling awareness was intensified which means more of us are alive today because of this precautionary and inconvenient surveillance. None of the systems used such as behavioral recognition, Secure Flight, SPOT and terrorist watch lists work to everybody’s satisfaction. We can by observation know some of the programs that identify threatening people have been working as we have not had any major terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Unfortunately pacifist organizations and many radical ACLU operatives have slowed and complicated the process. So have bureaucratic fumbling, privacy protection controversy and technology failures.

Accept that our lives changed drastically in this decade. Accept that this country founded as a Christian country is under attack by world-wide terrorist operatives that are determined to destroy the United States of America. And Israel. The millions of people whose job it is to protect us are under threat by many of our own citizens who give solace to terrorist organizations, to try to force our government to expose their intelligence gathering actions. The ill-informed or radicals of any ilk may protest any act that might infringe on ones rights because this is a free country. Anyone can say or write whatever opinion they form or magnify any half-truth to make our government look like the oppressor. Or the media can constantly show images that often cause opinion changes that assist the enemy..

No, this country is not a “free” country and never was a free country. Ask members of the black community, the Jewish community, the Chinese community and many religious groups to name a few whose liberties have been and sometimes are compromised with acts leading to even death and destruction. We operate under sets of laws and the more we weaken these laws to give freedom to Nazi organizations, hate groups, religious zealots and Islamicfascist terrorists, the less free we become. All people who live in this melting pot called the United States of America must accept some injustice and inconveniences if we expect to live as the freest country in the world.

The plot in England was discovered and foiled, at least, so far, because a large number of people were under surveillance concerning their spending, travel and communications with emphasis on their communications which allowed security to determine if their behavior was or was going to be detrimental to the safety of free people.

Suggested reading is “The Looming Tower” by Lawrence Wright, a detailed look at al Qaeda’s founder and the U. S. agents who saw the threat developing before 9/11. Many recognized the threat thru profiling, surveillance and intelligence gathering but were denied a voice largely because of the legal/bureaucratic wall between the FBI and the CIA, a wall largely dismantled by the Patriot Act. Now pacifist groups are trying to dismantle the Patriot Act. Wake up, those of you who think a lot like I do. We are becoming more and more under threat by those who claim to defend democracy when actually many of them want democracy to fail and blame it all on our current political leaders. There are many leaders from both political parties who can share equally in any blame game. Replacing Republicans with Democrats (or vice versa) is never a whole answer. The “hate and kill United States infidels” thinking started long before any Clinton or Bush presidency. Read up on the history of the world. Realize that we are never going to be safe in this country no matter what political body is in power. The more some “chatter” or walk in political protests, the less safe we all become

A good friend of mine just returned from some weeks in Europe. She and her husband were very concerned with the way some European countries are being influenced by those who would return that Europe to the middle ages. Many terrorist groups would like to do the same to us and these terrorists have been and are spread all over the world.

Those of us who believe in our form of government must speak up more to offset the type of half-truth drivel written by one Tonya Sneed of Peoria in today’s JS. I suggest she should have stayed in Guatemala or head to the MidEast to “get to know the people” and write her letters to the editors. She probably doesn’t believe some countries and religious terrorists would behead her for writing what she wrote. Empathy, which most of us in the world have, is one thing; the half-truth blame game is another.

Leonard Pitts is not my favorite columnist but he got it largely correct in his column in the JS today.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The ACLU and Black Civil Rights

A column in today’s USA Today reads “The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday accused the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi civil rights violations, including racial profiling, in his crusade to stem crime in the state capital. The accusations against Mayor Frank Melton, who is black, and police are based on complaints from people who say they were pulled over because of their race and searched without probable cause, the ACLU’s national racial-profiling coordinator King Downing, said at a news conference.

“For me to leave my office and come into one of the states means that there is a very serious problem,” said Downing, who is based in New York. Downing said Melton’s race should make him more sensitive to the problems this is creating.” Melton dismissed the ACLU’s complaints and denied he had violated anyone’s rights. “We have 26 people that have been killed in Jackson this year. We have 300,000 people killed across America each year. The majority of them are African-Americans (in my lingo they are American black people, mostly dealing drugs to a few stupid white people), and it is time to do something,” he said. I want to know what the ACLU wants to do besides criticize.”
For one thing, highly paid Mr. Downing left his comfortable expensive pad in New York to stick his nose in what are local crime preventing situations all over the U.S. You believe he flew into Jackson 2nd class and paid his own expenses?

I believe the two people shot just yesterday in Peoria were black Americans, correct me if I’m wrong and at 2:30 in the morning they were probably just watching television before getting ready to get an early start on their job.. It’s probable, the JS didn’t say. Then someone driving thru the neighborhood just decided to fire a few shots thru the window. Probably “whities” who of course would never be stopped driving around in the “hood” at 2:30 in the A. M.

All I suggest is that the City Council keeps an eye on Police Chief Melton, and if a position opens up again in Peoria, he should be one of the first people interviewed. He is my type of guy. I believe the spokesperson for the ACLU in Peoria is a guy named Wheeler. I occasionally glance at his negative comments on Roger Monroe. Wheeler is so far left I hear he won’t drive a car in England.

The JS reported on 6/31/06 that a 16 year old could get a forty year sentence for allegedly having 180 grams of cocaine and between 30 and 500 grams of marijuana in his possession. Was he profiled? The JSEB said recently, these felonies committing 16 year old kids are, after all, just kids. Insinuating that “boys will be boys” and they will grow out of it. Yes, many will and many won’t, just ask Sheriff McCoy. The same day the JS reported that a “snack attack” sends two boys ages 14 to 15 to jail for assaulting, beating and robbing a pizza delivery man. Maybe some profiling would have prevented the injury to the delivery man. But to the rescue would ride the ACLU and J.D. What a great politically correct world we live in!!

According to statistics in today’s Observer, crime is on a drastic rise in Peoria and moving further to the North Side. This week I took down the license number of a young man who appeared to be casing my neighborhood. Either that or he was checking up on his girlfriend. I suggest if more people did the same, we might slow down the saturation of the city by those who would rather mug, steal and kill than get a free education and do an honest day’s work.

Thumbs up to Chief Melton.

Big Bad Decisions Have Created Big Bad Schools

“Whether you think public schools are mortally wounded (as I do of inner-city schools) or merely history’s largest reclamation project, these temples of gross under learning sit among us as an important cautionary tale: Don’t make the wrong decisions about the national’s most valuable institutions. Building them up is long hard work; tearing them down, is easy.

Most every horror in public schools can be traced to a legally or contractual binding decision made by some other institutional authority. These were the crucial mistakes:

In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution forbids local schools from suspending students who bring political protest within the schools. In his dissent, Justice Black wrote: “This case wholly without constitutional reasons in my judgment, subjects all the public schools in the country to the whims and caprices of their loudest mouths, but maybe not their brightest students.” Now we know he was right.

Two years later, the court established and enumerated the due-process procedures to which a student suspended for less than 10 days is entitled. In dissent, Justice Powell wrote: One who does not comprehend the meaning and necessity for discipline is handicapped not merely in his education but throughout his subsequent life.”

Justice Black and Powell prophesied the conditions and disrespect now decried in the Public Agenda polls. They were in the minority.

You can argue back on the majority’s behalf, but a lot of principals quickly posited their own dictum. Why bother. In the years since, courts and legislatures gave the neighborhood school yet another big legal obligation. : Mainstream and educate severely disabled students. There is a right based argument for doing this, but with many effective principals came up with a counter claim. I quit.

Another bad decision: In 1962, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10988. That famous order led to state laws permitting the unionization of public employees, including teachers, who’d previously been protected by civil service law. We know the theoretical arguments here too, but the daily reality is that teacher’s unions in the big cities have become about as subtle as the UMW in the 1960’s. Merit raises for top teachers? Curriculum changes? Don’t even think about it. So no one does.”

I recently wrote a blog “Merit Pay for Performance”, dated 12/13/05, merit pay for teachers is being practiced with success and cooperation of the union in a few school districts. I also blogged on teachers tenure dated 12/112/05. Both are worth reading again.

Curriculum, what students actually learn, is another chipped brick in the institutional edifice of our schools. We now have the “Language Police,” education Historian Diane Ravitch’s meticulous but horrifying narrative of how the major textbook publishers, the testing companies and the state education departments have reduced what public shool kids learn to politically correct, politically laughable pabulum and swill. Mrs. Ravitch’s new book is must reading for anyone who wants to learn why (my conclusion, not hers) so many kids would rather listen to hip-ho songs in their headphones than read what is now in their textbooks. Answer: The rappers use bigger words.

In another of my blogs picked up by DeWayne Bartels of the Observer questioned Dr. Fischer of #150 asking why the books that teachers use are not kept at the administration office of #150 so the public could review. No answer came back from Dr. Fischer or Art Ellis, Curriculum Director, who didn’t return my personal phone call

What all this means among other things, is that politics matter, however aimless it may seem. Wrong political designs can be viral, weakling and killing healthy institutions for years. So let’s end cheerfully on a note of political rancor. For the Democrat Party there is good news and bad news on education. The good news is that the Democrat Party owns the public schools. The bad news is that the Democrats own the public schools-their unions, their curriculum-cleansing, court cases they brought and won. Their solution: Spend more money on what now exists.

President Bush is the latest president to tilt at the broken schools, with a program called NCLB. He wants to hold public money from failure. Some say it’s working but have a hard time proving it does. Bonnie Hughes of Rome, Georgia sent in the following to this column: I keep a tattered copy of “What Works—Research About Teaching and Learning,’cira 1986 from the U.S, Department of Education, William J. Bennett, Secretary. “ We already know what works. I mean how is it that after 12 long years in a seat, children are not physically strong (many obese) nutritionally sound, financially literate, historical literate, mathematically literate and they have no clue how to excel.”

Margaret Spellings doesn’t give me a lot of hope and her letter to the editors in the WSJ today disturbed me more. She basically claims that students, like athletes become better by rote training comparing it to “teaching to pass the test”. That might work in playing a musical instrument, or learning the alphabet or the words to a poem but not in defending our country against terrorists who do not fight conventional wars or as may someday happen, a nuclear or terrorist attack. They do not know how to adjust from the permissive shelter of the education system into the real world. As an ex coach and (teacher) I somewhat disagree with wining by extensive drilling. True, we practiced certain moves but situations changed during the game and the players had to learn how to adjust to the situation. I taught kids the basics of the game and to play to win and learn to accept personally losing but only if they performed well. I taught the kids on individual play and teamwork. And especially how to adjust their game and their attitude to the competition ahead or the competition they were involved in. Not much rote. If we drilled all week on a zone defense and then found out our opponents were playing man to man or kept switching defenses during they game, we all needed to know how to adjust to the situation. I taught our kids how to adapt to the real world where we never know exactly how, when and where we were going to be tested. Each kid was a separate individual and adjustments to fit the kid into a winning team were a major challenge. Those who understood discipline and respect were the ones who could quickly make adjustments, from say a starting role or sitting on the bench being ready to play when called upon.

I do not feel many kids leave their formal training without knowing what it takes to be hired into a position that they can hold and can give them financial security. Let alone learn to budget and care for a family that often comes earlier than they expect and before they are ready to properly care for kids and raise them in a proper manner breaking the mold of failed generations now clogging up our court systems.

I have some hopes for #150 this year but I also had high hopes for the system under the departed Dr Royster. Optimism and well-meaning efforts do not guarantee success.

I see in today’s Observer that all the schools listed have orientation. Noticeably absent was orientation for Peoria Public School System #150. Someone board member reading this blog please tell me when and where these orientation sessions are being held because as a taxpaying citizen of the district, I would like to attend and listen.

Credit for most of this blog goes to Dan Henninger, respected regular commentator for the Wall Street Journal and from and article he wrote on 5/09/06

Strictness Isn't the Same as Being Mean

That was the title of an article by Dr. John Rosemond, a man whose philosophy is totally different from Dr. Spock and his ilk who sent the wrong message to so many mothers in past years. He was asked “As an elementary teacher, I require that my students complete assignments and behave appropriately in order to earn the privilege of playtime and fun activities. As a result of my classroom policies, there is no shortage of parents who think—and even tell me!—I’m mean.

They seem to think its worse for their children to miss a party than to fail to do an assignment or misbehave in class. When I take a privilege away from a child, the child’s parent may call the principal to complain, at which point his (or her) backbone collapses. With no support from administration, it is becoming more and more difficult to enforce what I consider reasonable academic and behavioral expectations. What Can I do?”

Dr. Rosemond answered “You’re not mean; you’re strict. You’re not unreasonable, impatient or anxiously intolerant; you just want your students to do their best, in every sense of the term. You’re not a punishment freak; you just want your students to learn that there are consequences for being irresponsible. Unfortunately, I hear from lots of teachers who tell me that the very sort of teacher kids need is not the teacher the kid wants. (I think we were mostly all the same when we were students, we didn’t like strict teachers and yet it is a shame that there are so few strict teachers and principals today as popularity and personality has become the standard for our youths.) Tolerance and self-esteem are today’s buzzwords.

In all fairness to today’s principals, they tend to be apprehensive and rightly so about the possibility of litigation.”

As another answer to a statement made in the comment sector of my blog of a couple days ago on discipline and prisons, I quote columnist Mike Lawrence (October 25, 2005, JS) addressing our governors request for more money to repair our prison system “We spend a lot of money on programs that don’t work. We must demand effectiveness.” No, I suggest we elect, appoint and hire people who ARE effective and do not let self seeking pretenders stop us from—being effective. Most common people like myself, want to be effective, but are often stymied by others in command.

Dr. Rosemond sums up “If you can’t take the heat any longer (and I wouldn’t blame you if you can’t) resign and find a teaching position at a private or parochial school that welcomes teachers like yourself.”

My prediction that the number of kids moving to home schooling and private or parochial schools will be a greatly expanded number as public school districts fail to do the job intended. What’s that job? Just start with hiring teachers who demand that the kids in public schools be responsible for their actions. Then get school board members elected who subscribe to the philosophy of responsibility or consequences and they in turn will hire administrators and principals who STAND BEHIND ALL THEIR GOOD TEACHERS!!! On this subject I’ve watched what happens in too many communities too long, I’m pessimistic. But I’m optimistic that enough good people will come to their senses and make more positive changes starting with the ones discussed in this blog (and many of my previous blogs) so we can someday regain our faith in our public school systems.

Let these “losers” litigate; just hire good attorneys who would win probably 99% of these frivolous lawsuits.

As a postscript, I have written approximately 300 blogs since I started blogging in August, 2004. Many of these blogs are about Peoria Public School district # 150. Go back into my archives which you can access by scrolling and let’s continue this dialogue because I know that while I am not widely read, I have a following of many community leaders including many in the press. Within the last few weeks, information first brought to public print in my blogs appeared in print in the JS.

I end this blog with an article written on 5/09/03 by Dan Henninger, a columnist in the WSJ whose options I highly respect. He says “Recall that last week we discovered a survey of opinion polls about public schools, published by Public Agenda in New York City. Many papers around the country published the Associated Press’s account, which began: Ill-mannered pupils, demoralized teachers, uninvolved parents, and bureaucracy in public schools are greater worries for Americans than the standards and accountably that occupy policymakers.”

Mr. Henninger continues “That seemed a good sentence upon which to erect some thoughts on how a once fine school system went bad. The survey data, on what parents, teachers, principals, professors and employers think of our tax supported schools turned out like a Stephen King horror novel.” (Sitting next to a federal judge a few days ago, I (Henninger) mentioned the findings of professors who think high schools teach students the basics is 31%; “sounds awfully high, he replied.)

Do I personally believe the public school system as a whole nationwide is in bad shape? Not only do I believe it is bad shape and getting worse; my feeling are backed by some 500 clippings going back to 1994 and sorted and filed by category. This blog comes from my folder titled “Discipline and Respect”.

Do I think many people are trying to make the system better and are succeeding? Absolutely, but as I was long ago taught and observed, a “few bad apples ruin the basketful”. Think of the minority terrorists in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan and the large number of terrorists increasing every day right here in our own country, most of them dropouts from the public school system. These minorities of relatively uneducated and undisciplined thugs and religious fanatics, are ruining this beautiful “basket” we live in.