Monday, January 31, 2011

Obama Lovers? Better Not Read - This May Make You More Ill Than You Already Are

"The Patriot's Response to Obama's Last 'State of HIS union' address."

Alexander's Essay – January 27, 2011

2011 SOTU: The Patriot Response
"As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible [and] not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen which we ourselves ought to bear." --George Washington

ObamaPrompterBarack Hussein Obama delivered his third State of the Union address this week. The good news: We can remove this man and his dangerously inept Leftist regime in two years.

The bad news: He still has two years left, and according to his ObamaPrompter, he intends to stay the course toward economic implosion.

By way of decoding Obama's message to America, Reps. Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachmann provided good rebuttals. However, they were constrained by certain standards of collegiality, so I have taken the liberty of providing The Patriot Post's unvarnished response to select excerpts of the SOTU.

First, some general observations:

1. Obama is the least qualified person to be president in any room he enters, so he looked particularly juvenile and incompetent at the House chamber podium.

2. Obama is still making political fodder of the Tucson tragedy, eager for another undignified pep rally like the "memorial service" he headlined at the University of Arizona. There, he was constantly cheered by sycophantic students whom he never once attempted to silence in due respect for what should have been a solemn occasion. For the record, in the 24 hours prior to Obama's SOTU, there were 11 law enforcement officers wounded or killed by sociopathic products of Socialist policies ... but they received no mention on Tuesday night.

3. The "date-night" seating arrangements were a great touch, particularly with serious men like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sitting next to that bucktoothed moron, Al Franken (D-MN).

Here is the abbreviated version of the SOTU: "I want ... I believe ... I've seen ... I've heard ... I said ... I will be ... I'm asking ... I don't know ... I challenge ... I urge ... I set ... I know ... I'm proposing ... I ask ... I took ... I made ... I would ... I intend ... I've ordered ... I will not ... I've heard ... I am eager ... I'm not ... I'm not ... I'm not ... I am ... I've proposed ... I care ... I recognize ... I'm willing ... I've proposed ... I created ... I don't agree ... I am prepared ... I hear ... I will submit ... I ask ... I will veto ... I will travel ... I call on all ... I know ... I stand..."

For a more in-depth analysis, what follows are Barack Obama claims with The Patriot's rebuttals, keeping in mind that nothing Obama proposed has an authorizing provision in our Constitution:

Barack Obama: "We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business. ... That's how our people will prosper. That's how we'll win the future. ... We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time."
The Patriot's Response: Obama's objective to socialize our economy is completely antithetical to "winning the future." After $850 billion in Keynesian "stimulus" spending, unemployment is higher than when Obama took office, and our national debt has grown by almost three TRILLION dollars, now bumping up against the $14.29 trillion debt ceiling just enacted in December. Here's a real stimulus plan: Reduce taxes and regulations, which will grow the economy, which will increase tax revenues, which will provide more government funding for legitimate expenditures.

BO: "To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I've ordered a review of government regulations."
TPR: This administration, which has implemented record government regulations, will now consider removing just a few of them but only if such revisions would not affect "values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts." Obama's taxes and regulations have, to this point, demoted our great nation to ninth place in Heritage Foundation's 2011 Index of Economic Freedom.

BO: "At stake right now is not who wins the next election -- after all, we just had an election."
TPR: Election, what election? As the Left is so fond of trying to forget.

BO: "Instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let's fix what needs fixing and let's move forward."
TPR: Clearly, Obama lost the battle in last November's election. Losers always say things like "let's move forward."

BO: "Now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same."
TPR: Bold words for a prez who has outspent all his predecessors, and who is now proposing more "stimulus spending," though he dared not use that term this time around, lest it be confused with the last colossal heap of waste.

BO: "Our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That's what planted the seeds for the Internet."
TPR: And all this time we thought it was Al Gore.

BO: "We will make sure this is fully paid for ... and pick projects based on what's best for the economy, not politicians."
TPR: Obama is not interested in "what's best for the economy"; he's interested in picking economic "winners."

BO: "Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school education. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren't even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us are willing to do what's necessary to give every child a chance to succeed."
TPR: And the answer is ... YES! Start by eliminating the Department of Education and its unconstitutional mandates. Encourage school choice and privatization. Sit back and watch education standards rise.

BO: "This is our generation's Sputnik moment."
TPR: Whoever wrote that line for the ObamaPrompter needs a one-way ticket into space.

SputnikBO: "I'm asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the [tax] system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. ... In fact, the best thing we could do on taxes for all Americans is to simplify the individual tax code."
TPR: How about eliminating the U.S. tax code altogether and replacing it with a flat or national sales tax? Of course, our voluminous tax code is the hammer that Democrats use to control the free market, reward their friends, and punish their enemies. They're not about to lay down that hammer.

BO: "If you have ideas about how to improve [ObamaCare] by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you."
TPR: You mean like he "listened" during the original ObamaCare debate? Repeal it. Take that and work with it.

BO: "Invest ... investing ... investments ..."
TPR: As mentioned earlier, this is ObamaSpeak for unrestrained unconstitutional spending, in a year that the Congressional Budget Office projects a whopping $1.5 trillion deficit. The preamble for Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform concluded: "After all the talk about debt and deficits, it is long past time for America's leaders to put up or shut up. The era of debt denial is over, and there can be no turning back." Obama threw those commissioners under the train.

BO: "Let's make sure that we're not [cutting government programs for] our most vulnerable citizens. ... If we truly care about our deficit, we simply can't afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts. ... We should ask millionaires to give up their tax break. It's not a matter of punishing their success. It's about promoting America's success."
TPR: Ah, yes, redistributing wealth is always about "promoting America's success."

BO: "We shouldn't just give our people a government that's more affordable. We should give them a government that's more competent and more efficient. We can't win the future with a government of the past. ... In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government."
TPR: This is ObamaSpeak for further centralization of government power.

BO: "And so we must defeat determined enemies, wherever they are, and build coalitions that cut across lines of region and race and religion. And America's moral example must always shine for all who yearn for freedom and justice and dignity. And because we've begun this work, tonight we can say that American leadership has been renewed and America's standing has been restored."
TPR: So, Obama embarked on a worldwide apology tour, bowing to foreign dictators, and now "America's standing is restored"?

BO: "Now, the final critical step in winning the future is to make sure we aren't buried under a mountain of debt."
TPR: (Feel free to add your own rebuttal here, but don't mention the Red Chinese!)

BO: "We will argue about everything. The costs. The details. The letter of every law. Of course, some countries don't have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they build a railroad, no matter how many homes get bulldozed. If they don't want a bad story in the newspaper, it doesn't get written."
TPR: One of Obama's fundamental transformations of the U.S. Obama has never hidden his admiration for countries that "don't have this problem."

BO: "And we must always remember that the Americans who have borne the greatest burden in this struggle are the men and women who serve our country."
TPR: Obama begrudgingly delivered this tribute to the longest standing ovation of the evening.

BO: "Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love."
TPR: No standing ovation for gays in the military.

BO: "We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. ... We share common hopes and a common creed."
TPR: Apparently the original Constitution we use has been replaced with a "new and improved version" Obama uses.

Finally, Obama proclaimed, "It makes no sense."

This was the only thing Obama said that actually made sense.

Evaluating Obama's SOTU performance, commentator Charles Krauthammer summed it up best: "This is a president who can give great speeches, and has. This was not one of them."

But Obama's speech was not designed to impress savvy political analysts and serious-minded Patriots. It was designed to play to popular polls, and it played well.

Commentator Mark Levin had this observation: "Obama was trying to deliver a 'best of' moment in his State of the Union Address, yet it looks as if he tried plagiarizing past speeches from Reagan and JFK. We know that Obama is an ideologue and his positions on cap and trade, entitlements, social security, et al., are not going to change, no matter how moderate he desperately tries to appear. Obama's future for America will deliver us misery and poverty; it's not progressive, it's regressive. Why is it that liberals continue to mess up words like, 'Social, justice, and reform?'"

Who is Losing Egypt??

League of American Voters


By Dick Morris

In the 1950s, the accusation “who lost China” resonated throughout American politics and led to the defeat of the Democratic Party in the presidential elections of 1952. Unless President Obama reverses field and strongly opposes letting the Muslim brotherhood take over Egypt, he will be hit with the modern equivalent of the 1952 question: Who Lost Egypt?

The Iranian government is waiting for Egypt to fall into its lap. The Muslim Brotherhood, dominated by Iranian Islamic fundamentalism, will doubtless emerge as the winner should the government of Egypt fall. The Obama Administration, in failing to throw its weight against an Islamic takeover, is guilty of the same mistake that led President Carter to fail to support the Shah, opening the door for the Ayatollah Khomeini to take over Iran.

The United States has enormous leverage in Egypt – far more than it had in Iran. We provide Egypt with upwards of $2 billion a year in foreign aid under the provisos of the Camp David Accords orchestrated by Carter. The Egyptian military, in particular, receives $1.3 billion of this money. The United States, as the pay master, needs to send a signal to the military that it will be supportive of its efforts to keep Egypt out of the hands of the Islamic fundamentalists. Instead, Obama has put our military aid to Egypt “under review” to pressure Mubarak to mute his response to the demonstrators and has given top priority to “preventing the loss of human life.”

President Obama should say that Egypt has always been a friend of the United States. He should point out that it was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel. He should recall that President Sadat, who signed the peace accords, paid for doing so with his life and that President Mubarak has carried on in his footsteps. He should condemn the efforts of the Muslim Brotherhood extremists to take over the country and indicate that America stands by her longtime ally. He should address the need for reform and urge Mubarak to enact needed changes. But his emphasis should be on standing with our ally.

The return of Nobel laureate Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has to Egypt as the presumptive heir to Mubarak tells us where this revolution is headed. Carolyn Glick, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post, explains how dangerous ElBaradei is. “As IAEA head,” she writes, “Elbaradei shielded Iran’s nuclear weapons program from the Security Council. He [has] continued to lobby against significant UN Security Council sanctions or other actions against Iran…Last week, he dismissed the threat of a nuclear armed Iran [saying] ‘there is a lot of hype in this debate’.”

As for the Muslim Brotherhood, Glick notes that “it forms the largest and best organized opposition to the Mubarak regime and [is] the progenitor of Hamas and al Qaidi. It seeks Egypt’s transformation into an Islamic regime that will stand at the forefront of the global jihad.”

Now is the time for Republicans and conservatives to start asking the question: Who is losing Egypt? We need to debunk the starry eyed idealistic yearning for reform and the fantasy that a liberal democracy will come from these demonstrations. It won’t. Iranian domination will.

Egypt, with 80 million people, is the largest country in the Middle East or North Africa. Combined with Iran’s 75 million (the second largest) they have 155 million people. By contrast the entire rest of the region — Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Jordan, UAE, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar combined– have only 200 million.

We must not let the two most populous and powerful nations in the region fall under the sway of Muslim extremism, the one through the weakness of Jimmy Carter and the other through the weakness of Barack Obama.

Children Must Play

Of course, any parent let alone an educator ought to know this.

An interesting read for all of us at any age. We should be learning why our public school systems aren't getting the job done.


From The New Republic, Friday, January 28, 2011. See . Our thanks to several recipients for bringing this piece to our attention.
The Children Must Play

What the United States could learn from Finland about education reform.

By Samuel E. Abrams

While observing recess outside the Kallahti Comprehensive School on the eastern edge of Helsinki on a chilly day in April 2009, I asked Principal Timo Heikkinen if students go out when it's very cold. Heikkinen said they do. I then asked Heikkinen if they go out when it's very, very cold. Heikkinen smiled and said, "If minus 15 [Celsius] and windy, maybe not, but otherwise, yes. The children can't learn if they don't play. The children must play."

In comparison to the United States and many other industrialized nations, the Finns have implemented a radically different model of educational reform-based on a balanced curriculum and professionalization, not testing. Not only do Finnish educational authorities provide students with far more recess than their U.S. counterparts-75 minutes a day in Finnish elementary schools versus an average of 27 minutes in the U.S.-but they also mandate lots of arts and crafts, more learning by doing, rigorous standards for teacher certification, higher teacher pay, and attractive working conditions. This is a far cry from the U.S. concentration on testing in reading and math since the enactment of No Child Left Behind in 2002, which has led school districts across the country, according to a survey by the Center on Education Policy [], to significantly narrow their curricula. And the Finns' efforts are paying off: In December, the results from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an exam in reading, math, and science given every three years since 2000 to approximately 5,000 15-year-olds per nation around the world, revealed that, for the fourth consecutive time, Finnish students posted stellar scores. The United States, meanwhile, lagged in the middle of the pack. [see ]

In his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined his plans for reforming U.S. public education, including distributing competitive grants, raising test scores, and holding teachers accountable for student achievement. But there is much Finland can teach America's reformers, and the rest of the world, about what outside of testing and rigid modes of management and assessment can make a nation's schools truly excellent.

Finland's schools weren't always so successful. In the 1960s, they were middling at best. In 1971, a government commission concluded that, poor as the nation was in natural resources, it had to modernize its economy and could only do so by first improving its schools. To that end, the government agreed to reduce class size, boost teacher pay, and require that, by 1979, all teachers complete a rigorous master's program.

Today, teaching is such a desirable profession that only one in ten applicants to the country's eight master's programs in education is accepted. In the United States, on the other hand, college graduates may become teachers without earning a master's. What's more, Finnish teachers earn very competitive salaries: High school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102 percent of what their fellow university graduates do. In the United States, by contrast, they earn just 65 percent.

Though, unlike U.S. education reformers, Finnish authorities haven't outsourced school management to for-profit or non-profit organizations, implemented merit pay, or ranked teachers and schools according to test results, they've made excellent use of business strategies. They've won the war for talent by making teaching so appealing. In choosing principals, superintendents, and policymakers from inside the education world rather than looking outside it, Finnish authorities have likewise taken a page from the corporate playbook: Great organizations, as the business historian Alfred Chandler documented, cultivate talent from within. Of the many officials I interviewed at the Finnish Ministry of Education, the National Board of Education, the Education Evaluation Council, and the Helsinki Department of Education, all had been teachers for at least four years.

The Finnish approach to pedagogy is also distinct. In grades seven through nine, for instance, classes in science-the subject in which Finnish students have done especially well on PISA-are capped at 16 so students may do labs each lesson. And students in grades one through nine spend from four to eleven periods each week taking classes in art, music, cooking, carpentry, metalwork, and textiles. These classes provide natural venues for learning math and science, nurture critical cooperative skills, and implicitly cultivate respect for people who make their living working with their hands.

But perhaps most striking on the list of what makes Finland's school system unique is that the country has deliberately rejected the prevailing standardization movement. While nations around the world introduced heavy standardized testing regimes in the 1990s, the Finnish National Board of Education concluded that such tests would consume too much instructional time, cost too much to construct, proctor, and grade, and generate undue stress. The Finnish answer to standardized tests has been to give exams to small but statistically significant samples of students and to trust teachers-so much so that the National Board of Education closed its inspectorate in 1991. Teachers in Finland design their own courses, using a national curriculum as a guide, not a blueprint, and spend about 80 percent as much time leading classes as their U.S. counterparts do, so that they have sufficient opportunity to plan lessons and collaborate with colleagues. The only point at which all Finnish students take standardized exams is as high school seniors if they wish to go to university.

Regard for students' well-being is evident in more subtle ways, as well. Since 1985, students have not been tracked (or grouped by ability) until the tenth grade. Furthermore, since 1991, authorities have rejected the practice of holding back underachievers, concluding that the consequences of grade repetition were too stigmatizing to be effective and that students would be better off being tutored by learning specialists in areas of academic weakness.

The Finnish business community and conservative members of the country's parliament criticized the end of tracking as a recipe for mass mediocrity-but they went silent following the publication of the 2000 PISA results. "PISA was a lucky gift for Finnish educators," said Kari Louhivuori, the principal of the Kirkkojärvi Comprehensive School in Espoo, who began his career as a teacher in 1974. "We were under attack from traditional forces and needed outside validation of our new way." (Some testing is thus ultimately necessary, Louhivuori conceded, if only to prove that regular testing is not.) What's more, there is now strong proof of the economic benefits of the Finnish educational reformation, particularly in the country's high-tech sector, which is distinguished by Nokia in telecommunications, Orion in medical diagnostics and pharmaceuticals, Polar in heart-rate monitors, Vaisala in meteorological measurement, and VTI in accelerometers. Flanking highways out of Helsinki are research centers for these companies, as well as ones for Ericsson, IBM, and SAP.

The reflexive critique of comparing the Finnish and U.S. educational systems is to say that Finland's PISA results are consequences of the country being a much smaller, more homogeneous nation (5.3 million people, only 4 percent of whom are foreign-born). How could it possibly offer lessons to a country the size of the United States? The answer is next door. Norway is also small (4.8 million people) and nearly as homogeneous (10 percent foreign-born), but it is more akin to the United States than to Finland in its approach to education: Teachers don't need master's degrees; high school teachers with 15 years of experience earn only 70 percent of what fellow university graduates make; and in 2006, authorities implemented a national system of standardized testing. The need for talent in the classroom is now so great that the Norwegian government is spending $3.3 million on an ad campaign to attract people to teaching and, last year, launched its own version of Teach for America in collaboration with Statoil-called Teach First Norway-to recruit teachers of math and science.

Moreover, much as in the United States, classes in Norway are typically too large and equipment too scarce to run science labs. A science teacher at a middle school in Oslo told me that labs are unfortunately the exception, not the rule, and that she couldn't recall doing any labs as a student a decade ago. Unsurprisingly, much as in 2000, 2003, and 2006, Norway in 2009 posted mediocre PISA scores, indicating that it is not necessarily size and homogeneity but, rather, policy choices that lead to a country's educational success.

The Finns have made clear that, in any country, no matter its size or composition, there is much wisdom to minimizing testing and instead investing in broader curricula, smaller classes, and better training, pay, and treatment of teachers. The United States should take heed.
Samuel E. Abrams is a visiting scholar at Teachers College, Columbia University, and he is writing a book on school reform.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ward Churchill, A College Professor Finally Fired

Ah, yes, Ward Churchill, one of many rolling dung balls, teaching our nations youth. Read on. If you think all these kids going to colleges are the "best and the brightest", think again.


Higher education has been in a state of turmoil over the past decade, and here are ten of the reasons.

By Pope Center Staff
December 29, 2010

The past decade has shaken the nation’s colleges and universities. The political correctness that dominated the 1990s continues, but criticism and competition have challenged the sector’s complacency. Sometimes still called “the envy of the world,” the nation’s colleges and universities are being charged with high costs, lack of accountability, and poor outcomes. Change could come with a bang, not a whimper. Here are the Pope Center’s “top ten” events and trends during the decade.

10. Board of Regents v. Southworth

In 1996 Scott Southworth and two other law students at the University of Wisconsin at Madison filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Board of Regents. They claimed that the existing student fee policy forced them to support political and ideological student organizations to which they objected and thus violated their First Amendment rights.

The case went to the Supreme Court, which in 2000 (yes, technically in the previous decade) upheld the fees. In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that even though people should not be forced to directly subsidize speech they abhor, the student fee system was more like a subsidy of free speech for students in general—as long as the collected funds were distributed in a “viewpoint neutral” way. This paved the way for this decade’s campus culture of indoctrination. Expensive, partisan, and often irrelevant speakers frequently appear on public campuses—with no recourse for students who object. For example, over the past ten years, North Carolina schools have hosted Tucker Max, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, and Danny Glover—all of them paid for, at least in part, by student fees.

—Jenna Ashley Robinson

9. A Hoax at Duke

In March 2006, three Duke University lacrosse players were described by one faculty member as “almost perfect offenders,” since they were “the exemplars of the upper end of the class hierarchy, the dominant gender, the dominant sexuality, and the dominant social group on campus.”

There was one major problem with Wahneema Lubiano’s analysis—the three lacrosse players committed no offense. They were, in fact, victims themselves, falsely accused of rape by a stripper hired by lacrosse team members. The resulting controversy became the most highly publicized example of an increasing phenomenon: the campus hoax, in which members of supposedly aggrieved ethnic or sexual groups claim to be victimized by bigots. Lubiano herself, along with many other members of the Duke faculty, became an “almost perfect exemplar” of the campus radical who sees the world through a prism of race, class, gender, and sexual grievances. The case also revealed how impotent university administrations are when confronted by an aggressively politicized faculty, even when those faculty are so obviously wrong.

—Jay Schalin

8. Admissions Preferences

In June 2003, the Supreme Court issued two decisions that kicked off years of litigation and state political initiatives. Both involved admissions policies at the University of Michigan that had given preferences to students based on race. In Gratz v. Bollinger, the Court held (6 to 3) that the undergraduate admission policy, which awarded a substantial number of points to applicants just on the basis of racial minority status was too mechanistic to pass constitutional scrutiny. In Grutter v. Bollinger, however, the Court held (5 to 4) that the admissions policy used by the university’s law school was permissible because it used race in a more nuanced way.

The two decisions led to more litigation. Many university administrators thought that Grutter gave them carte blanche to give racial preferences to students whose ancestry put them in the “underrepresented minority” class. White and Asian students who were turned down, however, filed suits claiming that their programs were slightly disguised quota schemes in violation of Gratz. And a number of states initiated political action to ban the use of race preferences in state university systems.

—George Leef

7. The Dawn of Sustainability

The sun may be setting on the academic focus on diversity of races, ethnic groups, and cultures. But an enthusiasm for sustainability is surging into ascendance.

Sustainability is an offshoot of the environmental or “green” movement. According to Second Nature, an organization that works with “senior leaders” on campus, sustainability means making sure that “people’s capacity to meet…basic needs is not systematically undermined.” It defines these needs as subsistence, freedom, protection, affection, participation, understanding, leisure, creativity, and identity.

In practice, the movement has led to the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, by which 676 presidents so far have pledged to “reducing global warming emissions” and “integrating sustainability into their curriculum.” The sustainability movement is promoting the adoption of “green” technology in campus buildings, even if the costs are high. It also advocates for the creation of environmental studies programs and a string of lightweight activities such as going without trays in lunchrooms and banning plastic water bottles. It has, however, spurred a counterforce. The National Association of Scholars has been out front in pointing out its pervasiveness and fundamental silliness.

—Jane S. Shaw and Duke Cheston

6. Disruptive Technology

For-profit colleges took off during the past decade by using online education more effectively than nonprofit schools. They now represent nearly 10 percent of all enrollment in postsecondary education as they reach out aggressively to previously underserved populations—working adults, many of whom are low-income.

These schools depend enormously on federal student aid—their students are heavy users of grants and subsidized loans. Some of the schools have been darlings of Wall Street—among them, the Apollo Group (which owns the University of Phoenix, with more than 400,000 students) and Kaplan University, which contributes far more to the profits of its parent company, the Washington Post, than does the newspaper.

The Department of Education and influential senators have attacked for-profits for their aggressive marketing and low graduation rates. The schools may falter as a result, but new models are likely to keep them alive. One example is StraighterLine, a company that provides online courses for a fraction of the usual cost—$99 a month, plus $39 per course. Students can pick up credits for basic courses and tuck a lot of school under their belts at amazingly low prices.

—Jane S. Shaw

5. The Fall of Larry Summers

Harvard is the Big Kahuna of American higher education—what happens there enthralls the public. In January 2005, Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard and former Treasury Secretary, mentioned the possibility that the smaller number of women in science may be due to inherent differences in men’s and women’s aptitudes. He also downplayed the role of discrimination. A couple of female faculty members were outraged, the story appeared in the Boston Globe, and the reaction kicked off an international furor.

Summers apologized again and again, but ultimately lost his job because of antipathy from faculty members in the arts and sciences. Never known as a diplomat, Summers reprimanded Cornel West, a black African-American studies professor known for his hip-hop music writing, and West left for Princeton. Summers was also accused of protecting a colleague, Andrei Shleifer, who had supervised Harvard’s work on privatization in Russia while apparently making lucrative personal investments. Harvard and Shleifer settled with the Justice Department for $28.5 million.

But the outrage at Summers' mild, contemplative statements about women, expressed at an academic meeting, epitomized the extent to which, in spite of their famed support of academic freedom, faculty draw the line at certain topics.

—Jane S. Shaw

4. A Government Takeover

In April 2010, President Obama signed legislation ending subsidized bank-based loans to college students. The law replaced those loans with direct lending, in which the Department of Education, rather than private institutions, provides subsidized loans to students through their colleges. The law also provided additional mandatory funding to adjust the maximum Pell grant for inflation. The program will pump more than $60 billion into financial aid programs over the next 10 years.

The government’s “direct loans” are more costly to taxpayers than are loans that subsidize private lenders. Since its inception in 1993, the direct loan program has spent $10.7 billion more on interest payments than it has collected in interest and fees. More than $6.2 billion of loans in the direct loan program are in default. From now on, this program will be the only federal student loan program.

—Jenna Ashley Robinson

3. An Iconoclast Emerges

Books that challenge core beliefs about higher education did not use to come along very often. In 2004 Professor Richard Vedder of Ohio University published Going Broke by Degree, a book that took a wrecking ball to the notion that government spending on higher education boosts economic performance. Vedder argued that that scarce resources could be put to more economically beneficial uses than increasing state university spending, much of which actually has nothing to do with education at all. Furthermore, Vedder found a statistically significant negative relationship between state higher education spending and economic growth. States that spent the most heavily on higher education tend to have slower economic growth.

Vedder’s book opened many eyes to the fact that the conventional wisdom about higher education is often greatly at odds with the truth. It undoubtedly affected his being named to the Bush administration’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education (the Spellings Commission), which issued a report stressing greater access, lower costs, and more accountability.

—George Leef

2. The Ward Churchill Affair

A few words written in 2001 by an ethnic studies department head at the University of Colorado showed the nation how deeply influential the radical left had become on the American campus—and how badly some sunlight is needed to disinfect the institution.

In 2004, the Rocky Mountain News revealed that Professor Ward Churchill had described the financial workers killed in the 9-11-2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center as “little Eichmanns.” Further investigation discovered that Churchill had been hired, tenured, and promoted despite appallingly inadequate qualifications. Furthermore, he had violated the extremely lax limits of academic freedom by attempting to indoctrinate students inside the classroom and by making irrational statements outside of it. He lied repeatedly about his background and blatantly plagiarized others’ work.

Yet many in the academic establishment stood by him. Colorado’s president suggested that Churchill was merely the victim of a “new McCarthyism,” even though her defense would cost her job. Although the Colorado Board of Regents booted him out in 2006, in 2009, a jury ruled that he had been wrongly fired. However, a district court judge then refused to force the school to reinstate him.

—Jay Schalin

1. The End of Higher Education’s Gilded Age

The American university expanded greatly during the post-World War II era. The era’s general prosperity—and faith in the benefits of higher education—provided ever-increasing funding, sometimes from the students and sometimes from the taxpayers. Public university systems became powerful state entities, extending their missions into regional economic development, social programs, health care, and K-12 education. Prestigious private universities built war chests of endowments that totaled billions of dollars, permitting them similar opportunities for influence.

Some observers have even suggested that there is a higher education “bubble” forming, that costs and expenses are spiraling out of control, driven by government funding, financial aid, student loans, and a demand for higher education that far exceeds the realistic rewards.

Whether academia will undergo the same sort of collapse that the housing market suffered remains to be seen. But higher education’s Gilded Age is now over. When the Dow Jones Average fell below 7,000 in March of 2009, the private colleges’ endowments no longer looked so big, and the schools became less eager to fund extraneous activities.

The down economy, which continues, is having even more impact on the public sector. State revenues have fallen dramatically, and their universities are being forced to pull in their belts in equally severe fashion. Mission creep will necessarily end, courses, programs, and even entire schools will be eliminated, and many universities will reduce enrollments.

The result should be leaner universities, more focused on primary goals.

—Jay Schalin

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Coaching Change Positions in Illinois

My predictions are that there will be a major coaching change at Bradley and two major coaching changes at Illinois. Possibly one in Chicago, if not this year, next year for certain.

As a former head coach in high school, a sports player and watcher since I was 13, I can tell the difference between good coaching and mediocre coaching. I was at times, both. Good and mediocre. My excuse, I attended a country grade school with no sports. My high school career was nothing to brag about but I grew and developed. A gold ball for being a basketball starter on an Army traveling team Division Champion. My most memorable feat was scoring 16 points at Fort Dix who at that time was the best traveling service team in the nation. I guarded 6'8" Junius Kellog (20 points before I fouled out) who later starred at Manhattan College and was the first player to report a bribe for shaving points that eventually brought down Bradley, Kentucky and other major colleges. The scandal of 1950-51 has kept "Squeaky" Melchoirre out of the Bradley Hall of Fame even 50 years later.

Kellog was also the first black man to ever play on a service traveling sports team. Why the first? Read your history.

Anyway, worry not about the financials future of fired coaches. Most are set for life and if not, they didn't plan ahead.

Florida - Great Tennis Weather

I've been in SW Florida for one month. It was tennis playing weather for all but two days. The local public clubs draw a lot of players. No problem in getting a game. I planned to play Grand Prix senior tournaments but was greatly disappointed in the way the 85 Division was handled. Even though I seldom play singles anynore, I signed up to play singles and doubles for fear I would not find a doubles partner. The tournament director was inconsiderate of age. My first singles match started at 2:30. I won 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 with the match lasting till 5:00. I was too tired to go to the players party. The next day I was required to be back on the court at 11:00 playing singles against a person who I had played well against several times over the years. He had drawn a bye. I had nothing left in the tank and I lost badly. Then at 2:30 that afternoon, I was required to play my first doubles match. Because of injuries, that match was the finals. My partner, Bill Mitchell from Cleveland was the 87 year old I defeated yesterday in singles playing against the guy that beat me in singles and his partner who had not played any matches.

John Seigrist from E. Peoria and Florida also played in the same tournament losing his first round singles and first round consolation singles. John is good player but the competition in his age bracket was fierce as it also is in allthe lower age bracket torunaments.

We lost 2-6, 1-6 as both of had not regained our strength from the 2 1/2 hour singles match less than 21 hours ago.

I tried to play the next tournaments but there was no 85 doubles. I still had little energy left for singles. We played at high noon and I lost badly. While the sun was the same for him as for me, he lives in SW Florida and Floridans handle the sun and wind better then we snowbirds.

While disappointed in the way the tournament was handled with no consideration for age or the fact that all of us older guys who live in the north play our tennis at 8 or 9 in the AM or in the evenings, I am greatly enjoying drop in tennis. Usually 20-30 players ranging from the late 50's to my age. I more than hold my own. This AM, I played in Ft. Myers and tomorrow morning, I will start playing in Sarasota. After I watch the 3 AM Eastern time Australian Open woman's finals.

While the tenniw plqyers in Peoria are playing hardcourt indoor tennis, Floridans are playing outdoors 12 months a year all on clay. After 10 years on the Peoria County Board, I am finally relaxed and enjoying the best weather in the country. And when I am not worn out, playing some of my best tennis.

I believe by the time Gov. Quinn and the politicians in Illinois get done wrecking this state, more people will be moving out than in the past. I talked to one person who just bought a home in Florida and is moving out of Barrington.

I count my blessing that I was a conservative on the Peoria County Board and that I am no longer involved in the public sector.

I've earned a long vacation. Unfortunately, I will need to return before winter is over.

Illinois - The Worst is Still Ahead

January 27, 2011
The Worst is Yet to Come in Illinois
By Dennis Byrne

Illinois, the worst is yet to come.

All you state retirees: Do you really believe that your pension was in any way secured by those blow-off-the-roof income tax increases? All you hospitals and social services that are owed billions: Think that check will arrive soon?

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Dennis Byrne RealClearPolitics
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Should we think that tax increases will halt the torrent of state borrowing that put us so deep in debt in the first place? Will it drag the state's credit rating from off the floor?

Truth is, you've been chumped. None of that is happening.

Let's do the simple math: The new revenues will produce $6.5 billion. That amount has to cover a $15 billion budget deficit. Failing a miracle of loaves and fishes, it won't work.

Billions in delinquent bills will remain unpaid. New borrowing of $8.75 billion was supposed to take care of that, but even Democrats didn't have the stomach to swallow that one. Gov. Pat Quinn's office said that the new taxes would "address" the backlog, which is bureaucrat-speak for "we don't have a clue." State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka warns unpaid bills could double soon, even with the increases.

Pensions? The state passed a provision for some $4 billion just to pay this year's obligations to the drowning pension funds. There's nothing to whittle down the $80 billion (or whatever) that the state already owes the pension funds, and nothing to ensure future payments into the system.

None of this bothered New York Times editorial writers who, from afar, lauded the tax increase in a Jan. 17 editorial, headlined "Illinois wakes up." Reflecting the cant of Illinois social liberals who don't see the train wreck coming, the Times suggested that other states follow Illinois' example as "a first step toward getting (their financial) house in order."

Gratefully, virtually none are.

Even California Gov. Jerry Brown, once dubbed Gov. Moonbeam by the late Mike Royko, has stepped into the realistic light of day, proposing $12.5 billion in spending cuts from an $84.6 billion general fund budget. Even he isn't proposing new taxes, calling only for voter approval of a five-year extension of taxes and fees set to expire this month.

Actually, Illinois can learn something from other places that eschew big income tax increases. In New York City, for example, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is calling pension reform a major state priority and says he will refuse to sign any union contract with salary increases without accompanying major pension reforms.

Compare that with Illinois, where state and local officers have stood weasel tall in controlling labor costs - handing out job guarantees (Gov. Quinn) and signing 10-year contracts (Mayor Richard M. Daley).

Nationally, public pensions are facing a collective deficit of more than $3 trillion. States, not just Illinois, are in such distress that talk has begun of bankruptcy as a way out. When I raised the possibility a few weeks ago, it was generally considered to be an absurdity, but Thursday it was memorialized by Times reporter Mary Williams Walsh. Bankruptcy proponents, she wrote, "... say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government's aid."

If only Illinois' problems were as manageable as GM's. "Policymakers" are working "behind the scenes," Walsh wrote, to find ways to surmount the serious constitutional and political obstacles to turning a "sovereign" state over to a federal bankruptcy court or to a financial oversight agency, such as the Municipal Assistance Corporation that rescued New York City in the mid-1970s.

If that happens, who knows what will happen to Illinois' constitutional obligations to protect state retirees' pay and benefits?

The very thought already has big labor girding for battle.

The Illinois Policy Institute, a Chicago-based free-market think tank, already is calling for repealing the increases, citing its own studies that show how damaging they will be to the Illinois economy. Meanwhile, those more friendly to tax increases as part of a "comprehensive" solution must be wondering whether Democrats, now that they've got what they wanted, will be motivated to come up with the second part of the equation - rationalization of the entire Illinois budget.

Yes, the worst is yet to come.

Dennis Byrne is a Chicago-area writer. He blogs at

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Bartleby Project

I agree.


From Guy Brandenburg's Blog. See
A Way to Destroy the Standardized Testing Monster once and for all!

It's called the Bartleby Project. It's a way for students to bring down the entire standardized-test beast by forming an unorganized movement. All that has to happen is for enough students to write "I prefer not to take your standardized test" (or words to that effect) on the first page of the test booklet.

Here are some links:

(a good Huffington Post article by Lisa Nielsen on how useless standardized tests are)


(a longish article on the topic by John Taylor Gatto)


(a Facebook page on the topic)


(a YouTube video on how students can lead this movement )

Published in: * Uncategorized on January 24, 2011 at 12:18 am


Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244
E-mail: jbecker

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Uninsured Cars & Drivers - Go Big D, Texas and Arizona

Taking Uninsured Cars Off The Road

Recently, in the City of Dallas, Texas, they passed an ordinance that if you are pulled over by law enforcement and not able to provide proof of insurance, your car will be towed right away. Afterwards, to retrieve your car after being impounded, you must show proof of insurance to have your car released. This has made it easy for the City of Dallas to remove uninsured cars that are typically driven by mostly illegals. Shortly after "No insurance" ordinance was passed, the Dallas impound lots began to fill up quickly and were full after nine days. Most of the impounded cars were driven by illegals. Not only must you provide proof of insurance to have your car released, you have to pay for the cost of the tow, a $350 fine, and charged $20 for every day their car is kept in the lot. I would suggest other cities across the nation to follow what Dallas , Texas is doing. Not only is it getting uninsured drivers off the road, but it is taking away vehicles driven by illegals that have no insurance that might endanger your life. Brings a tear to my eye.

GO Texas!

The above email was sent to me by a friend. I suggest if drivers can't afford liability insurance, they should use the bus or use the hiking and biking trails we are building at taxpayer costs for an elite few. Building more trails when the cities, states and feds can't even pay their bills.

Look at all the new residents these tax sucking enhancements have brought to Peoria County in the past ten years. About 200 a year, maybe, because this administration may be counting illegals.


Merle ------------

My friends further comments on the Dallas' Solution.

Get them off the road WITHOUT making them show proof of nationality. Wonder how the ACLU or the Justice Department will get around this one.

My added piece is that they should put in this law that after 60 days of impingement they should be sold either to license insured drivers or for scrap. Not just to the highest bidder.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Keith Olbermann - Will I Miss Him?

No, he was a fascist who should have been born around 1915. "Unhinged in his personality as he was in his politics." Well said, Bret Stephens, no one is all bad. I suggest you read Mr. Stephens in his column today in the WSJ titled, "Why I'll Miss Keith Olbermann".

No, I'm not a big fan of Glen, Rush and Hannity. Never was but, they too, are not all bad. I do like conservative Michelle Malkin. What ethnic group she belongs to is not a problem to me. Never was with anyone including Juan Williams, Bill Cosby or Ernie Banks, even though they may not be all "good", either.

"Government Costs are Simply Unsustainable"

So says Democrat New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo. New York's Medicaid payments are larger than the State of Texas and Florida combined. (Peoria County is in the process of building a $51 million plus 30 year interest costs for mainly Medicaid patients, unless a citizens group has the guts to file a lawsuit to stop this potential $100 million property tax embezzlement). If you recall, these expenditures for a new nursing home did not need to be approved by referendum because the Democrat controlled board and administration believed the the 2003 referendum "To Maintain BelWood" meant build a new one if the board felt it needed a new one.

I and a few other Republican Board members began to question this expenditure when it was apparently too late.

Back to NY and AFL-CIO union boss Richard Trumka who says "shadowy committees are aimed at depriving all workers-public and private sector--of the basic human right to form strong unions, (note STRONG unions and weak boards), and bargain collectively to lift their lives".

Too bad, strong unions and weak boards like General Government formerly known as General Motors, tort Capitalists like the guys that ran Countrywide Financial now contributing heavily to what appears to be the downfall of Bank of America, WorldCom, Enron and hundreds of other arrogant wealthy elite, are helping lead to the downfall of this great country. Not to mention radical environmentalists and tort attorneys.

Well, good luck, New York, California and Illinois and 545 or so so leading politicians, government costs ARE unsustainable and people are not just crying wolf. Or as often said, "the proof is in the pudding".

Too bad that our citizens are too wrapped up in sex sitcoms and circuses too numerous to repeat.

Chinese citizens, who now outnumber us 4-1 and have a 10% economic growth compared to our MAYBE 2.5%, have a pretty much correct educational system (read up) while too many of our leaders are wimps (includes parents) who worry about a kids "self esteem".

How fortunate all nine of Tony and Lillie Widmer's kids were raised on the premise that if our self esteem suffered we ought to accomplish something worthwhile first.

Thanks again, Mom and Dad. Dad believed in the private sector and generally viewed the bureaucrats as impeding innovation and entrepreneurial progress.

Tough Parenting? Most Teachers Earn Their Pensions

This is a must long read for those of you who are highly concerned about the future of this country. Read it to the end. Coincidentally, Dana Letvin of West Bloomfield, Mich., and Hank Kim of the Public Employee Pension Retirement Systems from D.C., have written LTE's to the WSJ today under the title of "Don't Blame Teachers for Expecting to Get a Pension". Letvin writes that most teachers are not thinking of their retirement when they start teaching. No amount of money would persuade many teachers to stay for a promise of a pension 25-30 years down the road after encountering conditions that include "extreme misbehavior and lack of interest in learning by the student, lack of support and often downright hostility from administration, no involvement or support from the parent(s), a dearth of teaching materials, while schools crumble and neighborhoods are unsafe".

Not mentioned are school boards, members who often have little or no opposition, mostly unqualified and often seek board positions for most of the wrong reasons.


Tiger Moms: Is Tough Parenting Really the Answer?

By Annie Murphy Paul

It was the "Little White Donkey" incident that pushed many readers over the edge. That's the name of the piano tune that Amy Chua, Yale law professor and self-described "tiger mother," forced her 7-year-old daughter Lulu to practice for hours on end - "right through dinner into the night," with no breaks for water or even the bathroom, until at last Lulu learned to play the piece.

For other readers, it was Chua calling her older daughter Sophia "garbage" after the girl behaved disrespectfully - the same thing Chua had been called as a child by her strict Chinese father. (See a TIME Q&A with Amy Chua --

And, oh, yes, for some readers it was the card that young Lulu made for her mother's birthday. "I don't want this," Chua announced, adding that she expected to receive a drawing that Lulu had "put some thought and effort into." Throwing the card back at her daughter, she told her, "I deserve better than this. So I reject this."

Even before Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother [], Chua's proudly politically incorrect account of raising her children "the Chinese way," arrived in bookstores Jan. 11, her parenting methods were the incredulous, indignant talk of every playground, supermarket and coffee shop. A prepublication excerpt in the Wall Street Journal (titled "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior") started the ferocious buzz; the online version has been read more than 1 million times and attracted more than 7,000 comments so far. When Chua appeared Jan. 11 on the Today show, the usually sunny host Meredith Vieira could hardly contain her contempt as she read aloud a sample of viewer comments: "She's a monster"; "The way she raised her kids is outrageous"; "Where is the love, the acceptance?"

Chua, a petite 48-year-old who carries off a short-skirted wardrobe that could easily be worn by her daughters (now 15 and 18), gave as good as she got. "To be perfectly honest, I know that a lot of Asian parents are secretly shocked and horrified by many aspects of Western parenting," including "how much time Westerners allow their kids to waste - hours on Facebook and computer games - and in some ways, how poorly they prepare them for the future," she told Vieira with a toss of her long hair. "It's a tough world out there." (See Nancy Gibbs' take on the challenges of parenting --,8599,2043298,00.html)

Chua's reports from the trenches of authoritarian parenthood are indeed disconcerting, even shocking, in their candid admission of maternal ruthlessness. Her book is a Mommie Dearest for the age of the memoir, when we tell tales on ourselves instead of our relatives. But there's something else behind the intense reaction to Tiger Mother, which has shot to the top of best-seller lists even as it's been denounced on the airwaves and the Internet. Though Chua was born and raised in the U.S., her invocation of what she describes as traditional "Chinese parenting" has hit hard at a national sore spot: our fears about losing ground to China and other rising powers and about adequately preparing our children to survive in the global economy. Her stories of never accepting a grade lower than an A, of insisting on hours of math and spelling drills and piano and violin practice each day (weekends and vacations included), of not allowing playdates or sleepovers or television or computer games or even school plays, for goodness' sake, have left many readers outraged but also defensive. The tiger mother's cubs are being raised to rule the world, the book clearly implies, while the offspring of "weak-willed," "indulgent" Westerners are growing up ill equipped to compete in a fierce global marketplace.

One of those permissive American parents is Chua's husband, Jed Rubenfeld (also a professor at Yale Law School). He makes the occasional cameo appearance in Tiger Mother, cast as the tenderhearted foil to Chua's merciless taskmaster. When Rubenfeld protested Chua's harangues over "The Little White Donkey," for instance, Chua informed him that his older daughter Sophia could play the piece when she was Lulu's age. Sophia and Lulu are different people, Rubenfeld remonstrated reasonably. "Oh, no, not this," Chua shot back, adopting a mocking tone: "Everyone is special in their special own way. Even losers are special in their own special way."

With a stroke of her razor-sharp pen, Chua has set a whole nation of parents to wondering: Are we the losers she's talking about?

Americans have ample reason to wonder these days, starting with our distinctly loserish economy. Though experts have declared that the recent recession is now over, economic growth in the third quarter of 2010 was an anemic 2.6%, and many economists say unemployment will continue to hover above 9%. Part of the reason? Jobs outsourced to countries like Brazil, India and China. Our housing values have declined, our retirement and college funds have taken a beating, and we're too concerned with paying our monthly bills to save much, even if we had the will to change our ingrained consumerist ways. Meanwhile, in China, the economy is steaming along at more than 10% annual growth, and the country is running a $252.4 billion trade surplus with the U.S. China's government is pumping its new wealth right back into the country, building high-speed rail lines and opening new factories.

If our economy suffers by comparison with China's, so does our system of primary and secondary education. That became clear in December, when the latest test results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) were released. American students were mired in the middle: 17th in reading, 23rd in science and 31st in math - 17th overall. For the first time since PISA began its rankings in 2000, students in Shanghai took the test - and they blew everyone else away, achieving a decisive first place in all three categories. When asked to account for the results, education experts produced a starkly simple explanation: Chinese students work harder, with more focus, for longer hours than American students do. It's true that students in boomtown Shanghai aren't representative of those in all of China, but when it comes to metrics like test scores, symbolism matters. Speaking on education in December, a sober President Obama noted that the U.S. has arrived at a "Sputnik moment": the humbling realization that another country is pulling ahead in a contest we'd become used to winning. (See more on the global debate about parenting, identity and family --,8599,2042535,00.html)

Such anxious ruminations seem to haunt much of our national commentary these days, even in the unlikeliest of contexts. When the National Football League postponed a Philadelphia Eagles game in advance of the late-December blizzard on the East Coast, outgoing Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell was left fuming: "We've become a nation of wusses," he declared on a radio program. "The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China, do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium. They would have walked, and they would have been doing calculus on the way down."

These national identity crises are nothing new. During the mid-20th century, we kept a jealous eye on the Soviets, obsessively monitoring their stores of missiles, their ranks of cosmonauts and even their teams of gymnasts, using these as an index of our own success (not to mention the prospects for our survival). In the 1980s, we fretted that Japan was besting us with its technological wizardry and clever product design - the iPod of the '80s was the Sony Walkman - and its investors' acquisitions of American name-brand companies and prime parcels of real estate.

Now the Soviet Union has dissolved into problem-plagued Russia, and our rivalry with the Japanese has faded as another one has taken its place: last year, China surpassed Japan as the world's second largest economy. The U.S. is still No. 1 - but for how long? We're rapidly reaching the limit on how much money the federal government can borrow - and our single biggest creditor is China. How long, for that matter, can the beleaguered U.S. education system keep pace with a rapidly evolving and increasingly demanding global marketplace? Chinese students already have a longer school year than American pupils - and U.S. kids spend more time sitting in front of the TV than in the classroom. (See five things the U.S. can learn from China --,8599,1938671,00.html)

The document that finally focused the nation's attention on these crucial questions was not a blue-ribbon study or a hefty government report, but a slender book that sprang from one mother's despair over her daughter's teenage rebellion.

Amy Chua lives in New Haven, Conn., in an imposing mock-Tudor mansion - complete with gargoyles - that was built in the 1920s for a vaudeville impresario. The woman who descends the winding stone stairway and opens the studded wooden door, however, is wearing a sweatshirt, jeans and a friendly smile. As we take a seat in Chua's living room, the laughter of her older daughter Sophia and her boyfriend (yes, she's allowed to have a boyfriend) floats down from the second floor, and the fluffy white dog that Chua tried, and failed, to discipline stretches comfortably on the rug. (Disclosure: This reporter also lives in New Haven and has heard Chua regale friends with parenting stories.)

The first thing Chua wants you to know is that she is not a monster. "Everything I do as a mother builds on a foundation of love and compassion," she says. Love and compassion, plus punishingly high expectations: this is how Chua herself was raised. Though her parents are ethnically Chinese, they lived for many years in the Philippines and immigrated to America two years before Chua was born. Chua and her three younger sisters were required to speak Chinese at home; for each word of English they uttered, they received a whack with a pair of chopsticks. On the girls' report cards, only A's were acceptable. When Chua took her father to an awards assembly at which she received second prize, he was furious. "Never, ever disgrace me like that again," he told her.

Some react to an exceedingly strict household by becoming permissive parents, but not Chua. When she had children of her own, she resolved to raise them the same way. "I see my upbringing as a great success story," she says. "By disciplining me, my parents inculcated self-discipline. And by restricting my choices as a child, they gave me so many choices in my life as an adult. Because of what they did then, I get to do the work I love now." Chua's path to her profession was not a straight one - she tried out the premed track and a major in economics before settling on law school - but it was made possible, she says, by the work ethic her parents instilled.

All the same, Chua recognizes that her parents' attitudes were shaped by experiences very different from her own. Her mother and father endured severe hardship under the Japanese occupation of the Philippines; later they had to make their way in a new country and a new language. For them, security and stability were paramount. "They didn't think about children's happiness," Chua says. "They thought about preparing us for the future." But Chua says her children's happiness is her primary goal; her intense focus on achievement is simply, she says, "the vehicle" to help them find, as she has, genuine fulfillment in a life's work. (See the latest figures on American motherhood --

The second thing Chua wants you to know is that the hard-core parenting she set out to do didn't work - not completely, anyway. "When my children were young, I was very cocky," Chua acknowledges. "I thought I could maintain total control. And in fact my first child, Sophia, was very compliant." Then came Lulu.

From the beginning, Chua's second daughter was nothing like her obedient sister. As a fetus, she kicked - hard. As an infant, she screamed for hours every night. And as a budding teenager she refused to get with her mother's academic and extracurricular program. In particular, the two fought epic battles over violin practice: " 'all-out nuclear warfare' doesn't quite capture it," Chua writes. Finally, after a screaming, glass-smashing, very public showdown, the tiger mother admitted defeat: "Lulu," she said, "you win. It's over. We're giving up the violin." Not long after, Chua typed the first words of her memoir - not as an exercise in maternal bravado but as an earnest attempt to understand her daughters, her parents and herself.

That was a year and a half ago. Today, Chua has worked out some surprising compromises with her children. Sophia can go out on dates and must practice the piano for an hour and a half each day instead of as many as six hours. Lulu is allowed to pursue her passion for tennis. (Her mother's daughter, she's become quite good at the sport, making the high school varsity team - "the only junior high school kid to do so," as Chua can't help pointing out.) And Chua says she doesn't want to script her children's futures. "I really don't have any particular career path in mind for Sophia and Lulu, as long as they feel passionate about it and give it their best." As her girls prepare to launch themselves into their own lives - Sophia goes off to college next fall - Chua says she wouldn't change much about the way she raised them. Perhaps more surprising, her daughters say they intend to be strict parents one day too - though they plan to permit more time with friends, even the occasional sleepover. (See Bill Powell's take on his family's tiger-mom experience --,8599,2043296,00.html)

Most surprising of all to Chua's detractors may be the fact that many elements of her approach are supported by research in psychology and cognitive science. Take, for example, her assertion that American parents go too far in insulating their children from discomfort and distress. Chinese parents, by contrast, she writes, "assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently." In the 2008 book A Nation of Wimps, author Hara Estroff Marano, editor-at-large of Psychology Today magazine, marshals evidence that shows Chua is correct. "Research demonstrates that children who are protected from grappling with difficult tasks don't develop what psychologists call 'mastery experiences,' " Marano explains. "Kids who have this well-earned sense of mastery are more optimistic and decisive; they've learned that they're capable of overcoming adversity and achieving goals." Children who have never had to test their abilities, says Marano, grow into "emotionally brittle" young adults who are more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

Another parenting practice with which Chua takes issue is Americans' habit, as she puts it, of "slathering praise on their kids for the lowest of tasks - drawing a squiggle or waving a stick." Westerners often laud their children as "talented" or "gifted," she says, while Asian parents highlight the importance of hard work. And in fact, research performed by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has found that the way parents offer approval affects the way children perform, even the way they feel about themselves.

Dweck has conducted studies with hundreds of students, mostly early adolescents, in which experimenters gave the subjects a set of difficult problems from an IQ test. Afterward, some of the young people were praised for their ability: "You must be smart at this." Others were praised for their effort: "You must have worked really hard." The kids who were complimented on their intelligence were much more likely to turn down the opportunity to do a challenging new task that they could learn from. "They didn't want to do anything that could expose their deficiencies and call into question their talent," Dweck says. Ninety percent of the kids who were praised for their hard work, however, were eager to take on the demanding new exercise.

One more way in which the tiger mother's approach differs from that of her Western counterparts: her willingness to drill, baby, drill. When Sophia came in second on a multiplication speed test at school, Chua made her do 20 practice tests every night for a week, clocking her with a stopwatch. "Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America," she writes. In this, Chua is right, says Daniel Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. "It's virtually impossible to become proficient at a mental task without extensive practice," he notes.

What's more, Willingham says, "if you repeat the same task again and again, it will eventually become automatic. Your brain will literally change so that you can complete the task without thinking about it." Once this happens, the brain has made mental space for higher-order operations: for interpreting literary works, say, and not simply decoding their words; for exploring the emotional content of a piece of music, and not just playing the notes. Brain scans of experimental subjects who are asked to execute a sequence of movements, for example, show that as the sequence is repeated, the parts of the brain associated with motor skills become less active, allowing brain activity to shift to the areas associated with higher-level thinking and reflection. (See "China Beats Out Finland for Top Marks in Education." --,8599,2035586,00.html)

Cognitive neuroscience, in other words, confirms the wisdom of what the tiger mother knew all along. "What Chinese parents understand," says Chua, "is that nothing is fun until you're good at it." That may be an overstatement - but if being good at reading or math or music permits a greater degree of engagement and expressiveness, that would seem to be a very desirable thing.

All that said, however, psychologists universally decry the use of threats and name calling - verbal weapons frequently deployed by Chua - as harmful to children's individual development and to the parent-child relationship. So just what does she have to say about the notorious episodes recounted in her book?

About "The Little White Donkey": she was perhaps too severe in enforcing long hours of practice, Chua says now. Still, she says, it was important for Sophia and Lulu to learn what they were capable of. "It might sound harsh, but kids really shouldn't be able to take the easy way out," she explains. "If a child has the experience, even once, of successfully doing something she didn't think she could do, that lesson will stick with her for the rest of her life." Recently, Chua says, Lulu told her that during a math test at school that day she had looked at a question and drawn a blank. "Lulu said, 'Then I heard your annoying voice in my head, saying, "Keep thinking! I know you can do this" - and the answer just came to me!' "

On calling Sophia "garbage": "There are some things I did that I regret and wish I could change, and that's one of them," Chua says. But, she notes, her father used similar language with her, "and I knew it was because he thought well of me and was sure I could do better." Chua's parents are now in their 70s, and she says she feels nothing but love and respect for them: "We're a very tight family, all three generations of us, and I think that's because I was shown a firm hand and my kids were shown a firm hand."

And Lulu's birthday card? Chua stands by that one. "My girls know the difference between working hard on something and dashing something off," she says firmly. "They know that I treasure the drawings and poems they put effort into."

More than anything, it's Chua's maternal confidence - her striking lack of ambivalence about her choices as a parent - that has inspired both ire and awe among the many who have read her words. Since her book's publication, she says, e-mail messages have poured in from around the globe, some of them angry and even threatening but many of them wistful or grateful. "A lot of people have written to say that they wished their parents had pushed them when they were younger, that they think they could have done more with their lives," Chua recounts. "Other people have said that after reading my book they finally understand their parents and why they did what they did. One man wrote that he sent his mother flowers and a note of thanks, and she called him up, weeping."

So should we all be following Chua's example? She wrote a memoir, not a manual. She does make it clear, however, that Chinese mothers don't have to be Chinese: "I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too," she writes. The tiger-mother approach isn't an ethnicity but a philosophy: expect the best from your children, and don't settle for anything less.

Among those who are decidedly not following Chua's lead are many parents and educators in China. For educated urban Chinese parents, the trend is away from the strict traditional model and toward a more relaxed American style. Chinese authorities, meanwhile, are increasingly dissatisfied with the country's public education system, which has long been based on rote learning and memorization. They are looking to the West for inspiration - not least because they know they must produce more creative and innovative graduates to power the high-end economy they want to develop. The lesson here: depending on where you stand, there may always be an approach to child rearing that looks more appealing than the one you've got. (See TIME's special report on what makes a school great -,28804,2019663_2020590,00.html)

Marano doesn't see us whistling Chua's battle hymn just yet. "Kids can grow and thrive under a wide variety of parenting styles," she says. "But American parenting, at its best, combines ambitious expectations and a loving environment with a respect for each child's individual differences and a flexibility in parental roles and behavior. You can set high standards in your household and help your children meet them without resorting to the extreme measures Chua writes about." Western parents have their own highly effective strategies for promoting learning, such as free play - something Chua never mentions. On a national scale, the U.S. economy may be taking a hit, but it has far from collapsed. American secondary education may be in crisis, but its higher education is the envy of the world - especially China. We have not stopped inventing and innovating, in Silicon Valley or in Detroit.

There's no doubt that Chua's methods are extreme (though her stories, she hints, may have been slightly exaggerated for effect). But her account, arriving just after those unnervingly high test scores from Shanghai, has created a rare opportunity. Sometimes it takes a dramatic intervention to get our attention. After the 1957 launch of Sputnik, America did rise to the Soviets' challenge: less than a year later, Congress passed the National Defense Education Act, which invested billions of dollars in the U.S. education system. Within five years, John Glenn was orbiting Earth, and less than a decade after that, we put a man on the moon.

Clare Boothe Luce, the American playwright, Congresswoman and ambassador, called the beeps emitted by Sputnik as it sailed through space "an intercontinental outer-space raspberry," a jeer at the notion that America had some "gilt-edged guarantee of national superiority." Think of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother as a well-timed taunt aimed at our own complacent sense of superiority, our belief that America will always come out on top. That won't be the case unless we make it so. We can get caught up in the provocative details of Chua's book (did she really threaten to burn her daughter's stuffed animals?), or we can use her larger point as an impetus to push ourselves forward, the way our countrymen often have in the past. (Read about parent-student day at a Shanghai school --,28804,2019663_2020590,00.html)

For though Chua hails the virtues of "the Chinese way," the story she tells is quintessentially American. It's the tale of an immigrant striver, determined to make a better life for himself and his family in a nation where such dreams are still possible. "I remember my father working every night until 3 in the morning; I remember him wearing the same pair of shoes for eight years," Chua says. "Knowing the sacrifices he and my mother made for us made me want to uphold the family name, to make my parents proud."

Hard work, persistence, no patience for excuses: whether Chinese or American, that sounds like a prescription for success with which it's very difficult to argue.
Paul's latest book is Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives.
The original version of this story, published in the Jan. 31, 2011, issue of TIME, incorrectly stated that President Obama's "Sputnik moment" education speech in December was given "in response" to international test results showing American students faring much worse than their Chinese peers.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Peoria City Council and Ex-County Administrator, Patrick Urich

Since my predictions are coming true, I will make more on what the City Council plans to do in the near future.

They will hire Urich as they privately agreed to do before he announced his resignation.

The salary range will be in the neighborhood of $175-185,000. Benefits will be about the same as they were with Peoria County which are substantial.

Ardis will give up some of his power, one reason being that Ardis has kids growing up and going to college and he probably needs to pay more attention to his income stream stream.

Bringing the deficits under control will be Urich's first responsibility. Part of that will get the ball rolling on Uni-Gov which I favor if the citizens outside of the city (and I don't mean just Dianne, Doug, "Bud" and Rita) get input and agree to the benefits that will be promised and verified.

Urich will work to get a new referendum on the ballot to combine the election boards under the County which this time, most of the City Council will agree. If you recall, the city voted unanimously against the referendum and the County, with the exception of Phil Salzer and one absentee, voted to combine.

Uni-Gov and Urich will face a hard battle to convince the public security unions to combine under the jurisdiction of the County and the Sheriff. McCoy can probably stay in office as long as he wishes.

Since departments will be combined to save money, some employees would be given the option of early retirement or....

Urich's children will be leaving Whittier and that will probably determine where the Urich family lives. They have resided on Institute near Bradley, one reason surely because of the good reputation of Whittier School.

No, Mr.Urich, will be a good hire for the community but his role will not be the same as any City Manager in recent history. Hollings will take his money and retire again but expect him to be on a Uni-Gov committee along with some members of the Citizens Committee or whatever name they call themselves today.

Will taxes be lowered because of the hiring of Mr. Urich? No, too many millions have already been borrowed or rising taxes to pay for enhancements and new schools, libraries, nursing homes, RiverPlex types, zoos, the Civic Center, the not paid for unoccupied former Cub Foods building on Knoxville, the sewer $100-300 million upcoming project, the leaky public water systems, never ending contracts to "study" the ring road and with it's new bridge, stopping the erosion of good soil filling the Peoria Lake and the river, etc.

I'll sit back and enjoy my 'retirement' and see how all unfolds. Mr. Urich, as County Administrators go, was the best Peoria has seen in quite a while. And may see again for quite a while. However, he is not a miracle maker, just an intelligent leader, with flaws, some similar to those all of us have.

My best wishes, Patrick, may you continue to grow in your new upcoming leadership position.

The weather was mild, great day for playing tennis. In the 24 days I have been in Southwest Florida, only one day was not tennis playing weather. Still, I agree with my wife, I would not like to live here permanently.

A Note to w4gw4wg or DFH

Thanks for your comment on my recent blog but "anonymous" comments seldom get published on my site. If facts are correct, I will publish. Your comment evades the truth.

Why are you afraid to use your name? But if you email me your name, address and phone number, I will verify and print your comment on my blog site along with my rebuttal.

Also, I suggest you read more of my 1550 plus blogs and get your facts in order. Peoria County did work quite well with most of the unions. I will take some credit.

That a large number of voters agree and agreed, is a fact.

How much money did the unions contribute to get Obama elected. Did the unions get there money back? Most of it but even some moderate Demos are coming to there senses, especially after the November elections.

I will answer one of your remarks. Public boards are generally weaker than private boards when it comes to working out employer/employee relationships. Ask any union boss. Public pensions are almost always higher than the private sector except in the case of top management in the private sector. Without strong management in the private sector, there would be few jobs.


Caterpillar sets a good example. A union pushover. Hardly.

Friday, January 21, 2011

So What Do We Expect From Our Leaders??

Passed to me by a friend. What a shame.


You know by today's standards none of us were supposed to ever make it.
HIGH SCHOOL -- 1957 vs. 2010

Scenario 1:
Jack goes quail hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck's gun rack.
1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.

2010 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2:
Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.
1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2010 - Police called and SWAT team arrives -- they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it

Scenario 3:
Jeffrey will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.
1957 - Jeffrey sent to the Principal's office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2010 - Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The family gets extra money (SSI) from the government because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario 4:
Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.
2010 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario 5:
Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school..
1957 - Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking dock
2010 - The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 6:
Pedro fails high school English.
1957 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes to college.
2010 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English is then banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario 7:
Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed.
1957 - Ants die.
2010 - ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates his parents -- and all siblings are removed from their home and all computers are confiscated. Johnny's dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 8:
Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2010 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Camden, New Jersey, Like Peoria Tries to Correct the Errors of the Past

Sure Camden and Peoria are laying off, or should be, police officers and firefighters. Check the records of these public servants benefits. Past Democrat dominated boards with weak Republicans voted to raise salaries every year not willing to face the fact that sooner or later they would have to pay obscene benefits. Union leaders must ask for more money on every contract and if they get a lot more money than those in the private sector, more power to them.

Now the public boards want to take some of these benefits away and the union leaders say no. That's how union leaders get reelected.

So the public boards say you must take cuts now or be laid off. The union bosses say no and take their case public in a successful attempt to make the public boards look bad by claiming their citizenry will now go unprotected. Probably not much if marijuana would be decriminalized as some states are in fact, doing.

Enough said as many times I have correctly stated that public boards, often controlled by ex-union people, are much weaker than most private sector boards. Not counting General Government, I mean General Motors, and other's of their ilk like World Com, Enron, Global Crossing, Adelphia and hundreds of others in the private sector.

Of course, if I was getting an obscene salary with matching benefits, I, too, would be opposing any cutbacks. Human nature is that if you give somebody something and then thought better of it, I'm not about to give it back especially if I've already spent it planning my future.

Pay attention to who you elect. And then watch the closely. That's the problem. Our politicians support a lot of "Roman circuses" to keep the potential voter away from the polls. Nationwide, 30% of the registered voters voting is considered a "good turnout". Even then, half the people vote along party lines. I suspect less than 25% of those do not really know the real issues or the character of the person for whom they vote.

How's the snow and ice up in Peoria?

Left-Wing Democrat Decision Makers in Chicago

I see where one of the far left black Democrat elected officials in Chicago would like Carol Mosely-Braun to be Chicago's new mayor. As if this city isn't probably the most corrupt large city in the country right now.

Good Grief.

And the white left leaning Democrats want "behind closed doors Rahm E." Do these conniving politicians still smoke big cigars from Habana'? Probably not, they have enough people who would vote for a Democrat even if he/she was convicted of grand larceny.

Good grief, again. Is there no God up in Heaven?

A lot of people are leaving Illinois and more would if they possibly could. If I had a lot of money and a wife who liked Florida, (she lived in Florida three years before we were married) I can't think of many good reasons today to hang around Peoria all year. Bradley basketball? Probably not, although there was a time I was a big fan and active in Bradley fundraising. Not recently. Or rising taxes? I guess most don't leave for Arizona (which my wife doesn't like either; her being a Wisconsin gal) because Arizona and Florida have somewhat similar sets of problems as Peoria but the winter weather offers no comparisons.

It is most likely that in the coming years the spending by Illinois Democrats (and Republican) will prevent much new business to come in or expand in Peoria or Illinois. FireFly was Peoria's great phony hope of the future. Bass Pro will mainly spread the spending dollars and may have already contributed to one company out near the Shoppes to either cut back, relocate, expand or flee.

The new tax-payer backed hotel expansion, if it occurs, will probably doom a couple of other hotels. Don't count on the Civic Center to start hauling in big conventions from Vegas, New Orleans and Miami. Or even Chicago. Dollars spent on supporting these tax-collecting enhancements like the new museum (and new zoo) , the new
$50+ million Taj Mahal Peoria County Nursing home built on the excuse that there is no safety net for the Medicaid population, are less dollars to be spent elsewhere in the Peoria area. Why only the best for this taxpayer funded nursing home? Read the minutes of the committee and board meetings; it had to be the best to "compete" against the private sector.


Illinois is a classic example of the themes of P. J. O'Rourke writing such as "Soak the Poor and Kill the Rich". Or was it the other way around? Anyway, the first book I read by P.J., was "Parliament of Whores". After spending 10 years in the political arena and becoming a student of how government even on local levels fits the title, I highly recommend reading this realist comedian author for all those snowed in days in Peoria.

Haven't read any of his writings? Check him out.

My Blog Archives-Try August 2004

All 1500 plus older blogs can be accessed by clicking on the dates on my right sidebar. Since I'm not blogging much while enjoying Southwest Florida weather, I invite you to read my first blogs starting in August 2004.

I think you will find that some things never change. I know it is cold in Peoria in more than one way so I'll try to "warm" things up when I return and have a chance to catch up on all the old and new news.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Peoria "Leaders" Transparency???

While I bask in sunny Southwest Florida playing tennis those who have attempted to lead us, meet in secret to devise, manipulate and connive. First, they advise Urich to resign and prepare Sorrel to take his place, they promise Urich a prosperous and rosy future in Peoria; Urich tells Peoria County Democrat Tom O'Neill, "I will still be in Peoria to tell Sorrel what to do". They tell most of the city council people, these ivory tower people, "don't look for a replacement for the City Manager you just fired, Urich can do what he did while planning how to sell Peoria County residents the concept that they must merge with the City to "save the City from future bankruptcy".

Don't worry Carol, maybe you and four or five other "country bumpkins" Republicans on the board did not know what was going on, but County Board members like "fence straddler Republican" Stephen Morris, Democrat Board Chairman O'Neill, and most Democrats Board members did know.

Who are these "transparency" 'leaders' who have have been leading us into what will one of the highest taxed Counties in the bankrupt Democrat led State of Illinois? I predict they are Henry Hollings, Caterpillar and two ex-Cat CEOs, a guy named Gary from Bradley, a brokerage big-wig, the three Bradley profs who predict that the PRM will bring in $14 million (add inflation to this figure) a year in new business over the next 60 years, some City Council people like Tim Riggenbach, who has higher ambitions than a lowly Councilman, some bankers, at least one developer and her husband, etc.

Oh well, Peoria has always been known for it's deals cut behind closed doors.
As to Urich, as a bureaucrat, he always knows where the wind blows, never offends anyone and is probably the best one to lead a Uni-Gov in Peoria once formed.

If you have been a long time blog reader of mine, you know I have always believed that combining services is usually more economical for the residents and especially the property tax payers. I was a leader in attempting to combine the election services, emergency services, building code uniformity, neighborhood infrastructure and improvement, etc., so I hope that what is going on behind closed doors will result in smaller government with more services bid to allow the private sector to compete with the public sector.

As a successful businessman, after a lot of struggles, hard work and long hours, I know that the successful private sector is the sector that pays the salaries and benefits of those in the public sector.

This having been said, I advise leaders in the County, not necessarily our politicians, be wary as to projections as Peoria has an amazing record of missing "projections". Did I just read that the original Glen Oak School plan ran around 20% over its projected budget? What about Harrison.

Remember, property tax payer, the School Dist. #150 expansion bond taxes (I estimate with interest approx. $130 million was borrowed) will start coming due in 2012 or 2013.

And then there is the ball park. My $50,000.00 investment has been for sale for 13 years without an offer. (Why did I invest? I didn't know that behind closed doors the club was planning to move to the so-called riverfront). Although the ordinary ticket buyer can't see the river. And then on the local governments record there is Mid-Town, a smaller grocery store on SW Adams, FireFly, In-Play, Globe Energy, RiverStation, etc.

What happened to the planned African Exhibit entrance to Glen Oak Park and the paved parking lot to handle the big crowds? These upgrades were budgeted to cost $5 million. Also, why did the Peoria Park District is alleged to have budgeted a $750,000.00 loss for the zoo in their 2011 budget if the new zoo is meeting its projections??

And again, the land swap between Bradley and the Park's former Meinen Field that never happened? Don't you recall Casssidy and Noble boasting how the PPD would soon have new ball fields to complement East Peoria world class ball fields that bring hundreds of thousands of visitor dollars into the community each year? Those braggings that never happen are typical of the PPD operated on an amazing $44 million dollar budget. Remember the bragging about a skate board park?

Find it.

And tax-payer backed new Marriott Courtyard downtown?

What happened to the $100-300 million sewer system that the mayor and the Greater Peoria Sanitary District leader, Stanton Browning was a "must do" according to common sense and a "mandate??" from the Illinois EPA?

Good luck, Peoria County little people residents, at 85, I'm soon out of here. In the meantime, I'm in sunny (and windy) Florida playing tennis so why am I "p----ing in the wind" as an ex-County Board member so often writes about my efforts to bring fiscal sanity to this community.