Sunday, September 18, 2005

As Katrina Turns - Contrasting Columnists

In Rochelle Riley's first Detroit Free Press column on Katrina, which ran on September 7, she, like so many other sufferers of Bush Derangement Syndrome blasts the president unmercifully.
President George W. Bush is so out of touch with folks who don't live like he does, so disconnected from average Americans, that he doesn't understand that people with no savings can't afford a limit on Social Security; that people without jobs cannot count on employer-funded health insurance; that people without means, without cars, without family, cannot simply walk away from their homes.

People who are poor do not live like you, Mr. President. It is those people, poor and black, poor and white, poor and Cajun, who were left to drown in New Orleans.

Part of Bush's problem is his friends. He appointed Michael Brown as Federal Emergency Management Agency chief after Brown was forced out of his previous job as commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association. Brown's greatest strength: being friends with Joe Allbaugh, manager of Bush's 2000 campaign, according to the New York Daily News.

[ . . .]

Forget politics. Forget race. Forget the 2008 presidential election. This isn't Bush-bashing. This is an American tragedy, an avoidable one. And when we have re-raised an American city, somebody should pay for the dead.
Not Bush-bashing? Who is she trying to kid?

She does change her tune a bit in her September 9 column. I think some facts were beginning to roll her way. She does work in a newspaper office. In theory, there should be lots and lots of facts at her disposal. What she does with them is anyone's guess. Her focus in this, her second column is totally different.
Television, which once kept us informed, has now made us voyeurs, living every moment that we can in moments that we wouldn't wish on anyone. Why would we want to be in the flood? Why do we want to sit and watch images shot as if we're in boats floating in toxic water, walking down streets with armed officers searching for those who would interfere with rescues?

Unlike 9/11, which was shocking, unexpected and quickly overtaken by thoughts of revenge, Katrina was expected, poorly received and quickly overtaken by thoughts of congressional hearings and accusations of who is most to blame. And every charge spurs debate, most of which can be found day or night -- on television.

And here's a thought: Why does America continue to broadcast its weaknesses, showing every enemy what we do and don't know how to do and protect against? Could we be more naive than to think the world is ignoring this? At what point is our safety more important than our curiosity?

In the days before unlimited coverage, bad news after a hurricane or flood or mine disaster came by telephone, and bodies were rarely seen before funerals.
Hmmm, broadcasting our weaknesses to our enemies? Has she become a "neocon"?

By her September 14th column, she writes like someone who wants her readers to forget her previous hysterical ranting.
You cannot predict the wind. You cannot predict the precise place a hurricane will hit. But you can predict the duties that come after. You can predict the work that must be done.

And the problem with the very necessary analysis of what went wrong with the response to victims of Hurricane Katrina is that we live in America, where we've made it impossible to talk about how to protect each other as Americans without raising our divisiveness first, riding it like horses, with our red or blue flags raised higher than our red, white and blue one.

If we don't take politics out of the discussion and look instead at how local, state and federal officials failed in New Orleans, we will not respond more effectively next time.

And the only people excited about our continuing chaos and inability to have a discussion are those who would potentially harm us more, not with natural disasters but with man-made ones.

We look silly for refusing to discuss what went wrong for fear of political fallout.
She now sounds downright reasonable. It's too bad she couldn't have begun that way.

For an example of someone who thought BEFORE he wrote, here is Thomas Sowell.
Whatever later investigation may turn up about the mistakes of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in New Orleans, it is unlikely to show the shrill charges of "racism" to be anything other than reckless political rhetoric.

FEMA has bungled other emergencies where most of the victims were white and in previous administrations. Like many government bureaucracies, FEMA is an equal-opportunity bungler.

Many people who think that government is the answer to our problems do not bother to check out the evidence. But it can be eye-opening to compare how private businesses responded to hurricane Katrina and how local, state and national governments responded.

Well before Katrina reached New Orleans, when it was still just a tropical depression off the coast of Florida, Wal-Mart was rushing electric generators, bottled water, and other emergency supplies to its distribution centers along the Gulf coast.

Nor was Wal-Mart unique. Federal Express rushed 100 tons of supplies into the stricken area after Katrina hit. State Farm Insurance sent in a couple of thousand special agents to expedite disaster claims. Other businesses scrambled to get their goods or services into the area.

Meanwhile, laws prevent the federal government from coming in without the permission or a request from state or local authorities. Unfortunately, the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana are of a different party than President Bush, which may have something to do with their initial reluctance to have him come in and get political credit.

In the end, there was no political credit for anybody. There was just finger-pointing and the blame game.
And days before that column, Mr. Sowell wrote this:
Government cannot solve all our problems, even in normal times, much less during a catastrophe of nature that reminds man how little he is, despite all his big talk.

The most basic function of government, maintaining law and order, breaks down when floods or blackouts paralyze the system.

During good times or bad, the police cannot police everybody. They can at best control a small segment of society. The vast majority of people have to control themselves.

That is where the great moral traditions of a society come in — those moral traditions that it is so hip to sneer at, so cute to violate, and that our very schools undermine among the young, telling them that they have to evolve their own standards, rather than following what old fuddy duddies like their parents tell them.

Now we see what those do-it-yourself standards amount to in the ugliness and anarchy of New Orleans.

In a world where people flaunt their "independence," their "right" to disregard moral authority, and sometimes legal authority as well, the tragedy of New Orleans reminds us how utterly dependent each one of us is for our very lives on millions of other people we don't even see.

Thousands of people in New Orleans will be saved because millions of other people they don't even know are moved by moral obligations to come to their rescue from all corners of this country. The things our clever sophisticates sneer at are ultimately all that stand between any of us and utter devastation.

Any of us could have been in New Orleans. And what could we have depended on to save us? Situational ethics? Postmodern philosophy? The media? The lawyers? The rhetoric of the intelligentsia?

No, what we would have to depend on are the very things that are going to save the survivors of hurricane Katrina, the very things that clever people are undermining.

New Orleans can be rebuilt and the levees around it shored up. But can the moral levees be shored up, not only in New Orleans but across America?
Which writer makes more sense to you? I suppose that depends on the depth of your Bush-hatred, vs how much or if you are willing to discuss the real situation surrounding Katrina.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Teaching Teachers

The school year has begun. But that's old news. Before we returned to our classes in my district, we teachers were treated to a two and a half day inservice on the brand newest-latest-and-greatest-improved-can't-miss method for teaching students how to write. There were some good ideas that I will incorporate into my teaching, but for the most part I wasn't impressed.

Basicly it was older methods repackaged with a few cosmetic changes. This is a scam that's been going on in education since long before I started. Seventeen years ago, at the beginning of my teaching career, I was taught a language arts method called "Essential Elements of Effective Instruction". I was describing it to a colleague who was nearing the end of her teaching career. She commented that she had learned the same thing years before when she began teaching, but it was called something different. We both laughed. Since that conversation, I've been taught or been exposed to (in no particular order): Cooperative Learning, Process Writing, Q.A.R., K.W.L., The Three Block Plan, The Four Block Plan, S.P.Q.R.R., Constructivism, Authentic Instruction, and now the latest; Writing Workshop. I would explain what all of those initials stand for, but I don't remember, nor is it worth the effort to try and remember. None of these methods worked as advertised, but there is always a new method being developed by a group of educational "experts" somewhere. For a great overview of this education establishment scam I highly recommend THE SCHOOLS WE NEED, AND WHY WE DON'T HAVE THEM, by E. D. Hirsch. Reading it will make you either laugh or cry. Or both.

In addition to all of these brilliant, research-based (new favorite eduspeak buzzword) programs, we also have oodles of new tests, or as we now refer to them: "assessment tools." We have DRA, MLPP, DIBBLES, running records, and probably many others that haven't yet been inflicted upon me. The reason we have all of these new tests is becuase of the rising chorus damning standardized testing. Here, they have a point. Standardized testing is one of the banes of education. The only things worse are these new tests. Here's why.

Standardized test scores have been declining for years. Rather than improve education though, the powers-that-be decided that it would be more practical to change the tests; fix them so that maybe more kids would pass. They've been dumbed down to take into account the declining abilities of our students after too many generations of failed reading programs and lowered standards. They've also made them more subjective so that the right scorer with the right student could raise the grade a bit . . . not that I'm suggesting that anyone cheats (horrors!) but some of these tests are a bit subjective. There is room for interpretation. They are also expensive since there is now a writing portion (at least in Michigan) that has to be checked and graded by at least two human beings . . . since they are subjective . . . and open to a bit of interpretation.

There are also new tests that are done in the classroom. These new tests are done one-on-one and can take up to an hour per student. Who's teaching the class while the teacher works with one student at a time?

So now we have a continuous flow of new reading and writing programs, and many new "assessment tools", none of which have done anything to improve education in America, and many of which have actually damaged education - think "invented spelling", one of the biggest loads of educational rubbish ever foisted on an unsuspecting and undereducated legion of teachers. And we have all of these counterproductive programs because of the refusal of the educational establishment to begin at the beginning, that is with a good, solid, intelligent phonics program. Instead of using one method that works teachers have to learn program after program that does nothing to actually teach students how to read. They keep searching for that method that will allow teachers to begin in the middle instead of at the beginning. And with every failed attempt, they declare that "if only teachers didn't put so much emphasis on phonics", forgetting the fact that teachers aren't taught how to teach phonics.

So, not only are they recycling old failed programs, they are doing the same with old excuses. When will it end?

Labels: ,

To Kill an American

I originally found this posted at Llano Estacado. Its point of origin is
To Kill an American


You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American. So an Australian dentist wrote an editorial the following day to let everyone know what an American is ... so they would know when they found one.

"An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani or Afghan.

An American may also be a Comanche, Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.

An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.

When Afghanistan was over-run by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country!

As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan. Americans welcome the best of everything...the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services. But they also welcome the least.

The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America.

Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001 earning a better life for their families. It's been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 different countries, cultures, and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists.

So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world. But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.

Please circulate this. This is the best instruction for those bigotted Muslims who are filled with the hatred of America and Americans.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Found! A New Constitutional Right!

Here is a constitutional right I bet you know you never knew you had. I never knew, and I'm not sure I'm any better off with it.


Useless Idiots

Sometimes there is a good reason for keeping religion and politics separate. Take for example the insane raving of Marianne Williamson in today's Detroit News. Obviously suffering from a severe case of Bush Derangement Syndrome, she offered these words of lunacy to help us through these troubled times:
Something very important is happening here -- something more than simply a hurricane, or the suffering of thousands who were neglected by their government during a time of great need. Most worldly occurrences reflect deeper truths. What is happening is a gigantic reckoning, as Americans are forced to come to terms with how very, very naked is the emperor who we thought had such incredible clothes.

We are raised in the United States of America to believe our government is the strongest in the world, that as Americans we are basically protected, and that our country is basically good. It is cognitive dissonance for us to be confronted with evidence to the contrary, and yet such evidence has been piling up fast and furiously during this odd and potentially catastrophic phase of American history.

There is nothing strong about rushing into a unilateral war based on faulty intelligence, squandering the resources necessary with which to take care of your own people; there is nothing protective about a government that apparently didn't monitor events on the ground in New Orleans any better -- in fact, less well -- than the average viewer of CNN; and there is nothing good about taking care of the rich at the expense of the poor.

If it took a Category 5 hurricane and the huge suffering of thousands to bring those facts to light, then at least it can be said there is value in this horror. If enough Americans are beginning to wake up and face the awful fact that our country's basic functioning has become infected by a soulless sensibility, then perhaps the suffering on the Gulf Coast will not have been in vain.

Regarding the abysmal response of our government to the hurricane's aftermath, there is a lot of talk right now about accountability. Some argue we should have the discussion today, while others argue that that discussion should wait for a more propitious time.

But there is a danger in waiting, for a governmental status quo has talent for co-opting criticism as long as it can buy enough time. Passions cool; memories become revised and faded.
Of course there is more. She thinks she is much more politically and spiritually astute than she really is.

And then there is this puff piece in today's Detroit Free Press on Representative John Conyers, which serves to make a raving moonbat sound noble and heroic.
At age 76, U.S. Rep. John Conyers -- long a hero to civil rights activists -- has grabbed a new torch: darling of the antiwar, anti-Bush far left.

Conyers, arguably President George W. Bush's harshest congressional critic on Iraq policy, openly proclaims that his goal is nothing short of impeaching the president.

That kind of rhetoric is fueled by his embrace of the Downing Street memos -- the eight British intelligence reports that activists from Rochester Hills to London believe are the smoking gun that proves Bush misled Congress about the case for war against Iraq.

Conyers, who is expected to speak outside the White House at a Sept. 24 antiwar rally, has had his staff feverishly working to complete a comprehensive report about the memos -- something he knows many of his colleagues won't read.

"It was only a few people who dared to first join Martin Luther King," he said in an interview last week of his small but growing support in Congress. "The mood is changing. I don't have any intention of stopping now.
The fact that he's got the chutspuh to compare himself to Martin Luther King should tell you something about the level of his mental competence. I find it interesting that in the entire article they never mention Conyer's mock impeachment inquiry against President where:
The session took an awkward turn when witness Ray McGovern, a former intelligence analyst, declared that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and military bases craved by administration "neocons" so "the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world." He said that Israel should not be considered an ally and that Bush was doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

"Israel is not allowed to be brought up in polite conversation," McGovern said. "The last time I did this, the previous director of Central Intelligence called me anti-Semitic."

Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), who prompted the question by wondering whether the true war motive was Iraq's threat to Israel, thanked McGovern for his "candid answer."
Hmmm, maybe that doesn't make him as lovably eccentric as they'd like to portray him. Or maybe it's just another example of the dishonesty of the main stream media.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, September 09, 2005

Cox and Forkum on 9-11

Go read this series of cartoons by Cox and Forkum. It's a great comment on the truly disturbing downward procession from American heroism to something resembling appeasement as we welcome an Iranian terror mastermind into our country to speak at the UN on September 11.


<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>
War's legitimate object is more perfect peace. Flavius Vegitius Renatus This is an optional footer. If you want text here, place it inside these tags, and remove this comment.