Saturday, March 24, 2012

Was it something I said?

A couple years ago, I had a chance to sit down with Fredrick P. Kessler, my State Assemblyman.  He was walking around the neighborhood carrying his own nomination petitions around and getting signatures to be placed on the ballot to be re-elected.  I knew his politics up front (he is a complete leftist, his nickname is 'red Fred'), and we had a chance to chat on my front porch for about twenty minutes.  We both knew going into the conversation that we were on opposite sides of the aisle, but he still took the time to chat with me.  You gotta respect a politician like that.

Flash forward to now.  Earlier this month, I learned that I was redistricted from Kessler's district into the neighboring district, represented by Jason M. Fields, another politician I will have very little in common with.  I reached out to Rep Fields a couple weeks ago regarding a vote he took, but have yet to receive a reply from him.

My email was short, as shown below:

To the Honorable Jason M. Fields
Dear Rep. Fields,

I am new to your district, and as such, I am now acquainting myself with your past actions as a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly. In my looking at your votes, I notice that you voted NO on AB 426, the mining bill. I am curious about your rationale on this vote. I would appreciate hearing your views.

Jim Smith

I am going to retry again, this time with a longer email.  I'll post the updated email, and any repsonses.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Judgement Day is Coming?

So I have been thinking about the old quote from the Bible: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." I was thinking recently that perhaps people, particularly Christians, have a bad application of this passage. It is followed with the statement (and I am paraphrasing here) that whatever standard you judge people by, you will be judged with. Then it goes into the whole mote in the eye thing, etcetera.
Now Christians have, as far as I know, pretty much taught from time immemorial that this means that even Christians will be judged by God, and that they will be judged with the same standards by which they judge others, so they should not be judgmental. I, however, think that there is a different interpretation and application of this. I believe that there is a good chance that it is not only God who will be doing the judging, but society.
Admittedly, I haven't been to church in a very long time, and it is unlikely that I will return any time soon. I have a problem with churches that change their message to get more people (and money) in the door. I also have a problem with churches that preach holiness to a standard that leaves people with emotional issues. Finally, I have problems with Christians who judge people, yet not only have huge moral flaws, but those moral flaws are on display for the world to see. You know the type I am talking about, an hour on Sunday makes up for the other 167 hours that week.
So I spread this word to all who read this blog: judgement day is coming ... and it is sooner than you think, and it is not going to be who you think it is doing the judging. It is me, and it is today. It is your neighbor, and it is tomorrow. It is your boss, and it is the next time you tell an off-color joke at the office. I don't really count myself as one of the faithful these days. I am not sure what I believe, but I do believe that the words spoken at the end of the movie Angels and Demons are true. "Religion is flawed, because man is flawed."
Perhaps as I live my life, I will decide what I believe, but in the mean time, I believe this. That my life has a purpose. I am a teacher, my purpose is to educate children. If a child has the ability to read, comprehend and reason, they will be able to decide for themselves what they believe. And if they learn to write as well, perhaps they will be able to share that belief in a meaningful way that will enrich the lives of others.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Crime and lack of punishment

OK, so one would think that this would be a post about Casey Anthony. Nope, not even close. But while I am on the subject, the prosecution had a circumstantial case, and not one bit of evidence they had pointed at Casey Anthony. The only thing they had was her partying while her child was missing. So in essence, she was on trial for not acting like a grieving mother. 'Nuff said.

No, today I am going to talk about a wilding incident here in my hometown of Milwaukee. On July 3, after the downtown fireworks, a large group of African-American youths went on a spree of violence and mischief. They raided a gas station/convenience store, clearing it out of snacks. they also attacked and savagely beat several people and robbed them. Although I may be called racist for mentioning it, all of the reports in the news indicated that their victims were all white. In one instance, the victim recalls one of the assailants saying something to the effect of 'white girl sure does bleed alot.'

Now, I have to say, that from all evidence, these appear to be racially motivated crimes. That being said, these thugs NEED to be caught and punished. They need to understand that crime has consequences. Heck, they need to understand that ALL actions have consequences. Wisconsin has just passed a concealed carry law, and once law-abiding citizens are allowed to carry, what happens when one of these incidents occurs, and a law-abiding citizen with a gun, fearing for their safety, shoots and/or kills one of these kids?

Right now, there is no outcry from community leaders about stopping the violence, but you can be sure that if one of the thugs is killed by a person legally carrying a concealed weapon, there will be hell to pay. What is the cause of this behavior? More than that, what is the victimology? I think in the end, I think the core problem is that we as a society are too lenient about crime, and because of this, noone fears the consequences of their actions ... because there are none.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Like dogs with frisbees(TM)

So this week, I was in Washington DC with a group of teachers for professional development. One of the things that I found to be troublesome was the fact that the teachers in our group were constantly complaining about and bad-mouthing our governor, Scott Walker to anyone who would listen.

I had to listen to an entire week of Scott Walker cuts school funding, Scott Walker is cutting our pay, Scott Walker hates public schools, Scott Walker is an enemy of the common man ... on and on and on. I could not believe how much they were obsessing about him.

I think one of the most important things is that Scott Walker understands something very important. He understands that the ratio of tax PAYERS to tax CONSUMERS needs to be rebalanced if our state is to prosper in any way shape or form. Our current ratio is askew, and he has undertaken the herculean task of fixing it, and for that he gets lost constant vitriol and hatred.

I feel sorry for the governor for the way people talk about him, and I am proud of him for standing up, taking a stand and withstanding the assault against him. Lastly, I feel that my colleagues, rather than complain about the governor, should come up with their own solutions. We are a participatory republic, which means that the people have a voice beyond e election. We can suggest and recommend courses of action to our elected officials. But, just because WE mY want something, it doesn't mean we will get it. There are plenty of other tax paying citizens out there who have a voice too...

8^) Jim
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Of Politicians and Airplanes

So this afternoon I am on an Airtran Airways flight from Milwaukee to Washington, DC. As we were boarding, we noticed a couple of Wisconsin Capitol Police officers at the end of the jetway. I was traveling with a group of teachers to a week-long study event with the Bill of Rights Institute, and remarked to a member of the group about the officers. Several members of our group stated that they hoped the governor wasn't on our flight.
I asked the flight attendant who was greeting passengers at the door of the aircraft about them, and she responded that the flight had a VIP on board. I looked towards the back of them plane, and who was there, five rows behind me, but our governor, Scott Walker (flying coach, not business or first class).
Now governor Walker has very few friends in public education thanks to his austerity measures, requiring all public employees to pay into their retirement and pay towards their health care. This is necessary, because the state is in the midst of a financial crisis which includes huge deficits and out of control spending.
He also is seeking to blunt the political power of the public employee unions by limiting their collective bargaining privileges, eliminating the requirement to be a part of the union, and no longer allowing union dues to be deducted from paychecks, requiring the union instead to collect the dues on their own. Unions are pretty big in Wisconsin, largely due to our long history of Wisconsin politics being strongly influenced by the Socialist Party.
As a public employee, I understand the angst felt by my colleagues about the loss of the union clout. They had been told repeatedly that the unions were the only things that stood between freedom and virtual slavery for workers. The leader of the largest state worker's union even referred to the governor as a plantation slave master.
I feel sorry for the governor. He wants to save the state from it's socialist roots, and create a dynamic, vibrant state with a business climate that will allow for growth that will sustain the people of Wisconsin for years to come.
I tip my hat to Governor Walker. First for being willing to make the tough decisions, and take the anger and venom of the public classes. Secondly, for practicing what he preaches. How often do you see a state's governor flying coach?

8^) Jim
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:33,000 feet up

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Does Glenn Beck Really Matter?

I will admit, there was something alluring about Glenn Beck when he burst onto the national scene. Part of it was the fact that he shredded the mainstream media like and F-5 tornado in a trailer park. Part of it was his unapologetic religious nature. Part of it was his ability to see connections that would otherwise escape notice. But then, he got stale. Not stale like bread left out overnight, but rather the kind of stale that comes with a steady diet of the same thing over and over again. The kind of stale that says "toss some meat into the mac 'n cheese tonight ma ... come on, live a little!" Glenn became two things that will doom anyone in media. He became formulaic, and apocalyptic.
He became formulaic in that no matter what the issue was, there would be three things in his radio/TV programs. First there would be analysis of it. Then there would be some joking around by his radio sidekicks. Then on TV, Glenn would do his teacher routine on the chalkboard. He constantly used the radio and TV programs to push exclusive content on his website. Occasionally he would drop a topic and move on so abruptly that I started to wonder if he was straying into territory where there might have been exclusive online content that he didn't want to divulge for free.
Worst of all, he became apocalyptic. Everything was the end of the world, that God just HAD to judge America for this that or the other thing. The moral depravity of the nation had eliminated out most favored nation status with the almighty and now we were going to have to pay for it. We were hanging on by a thread over the pits of hell and someone was greasing the rope between our fingers. Other talk show hosts, even invented a term for when they were in a fit of pessimism, they were feeling "beckish," they would say.
His radio show was shedding listeners faster than Facebook is shedding subscribers, and his TV show was losing sponsors even faster. It is pretty sad when the ad space on a cable TV network starts to become dominated by internal ad buys instead of actual bill-paying sponsors. What does this mean for poor, beleaguered Glenn Beck? It means that this is the perfect time to see if people will PAY to see him do the exact same bit that people used to watch for free.
Beck's show was consistently one of the top-rated shows on the Fox News Channel, but if he truly believes that all of those viewers will follow him to GBTV, his subscriber-based web enterprise, I fear the Beck will have another mystery to sketch out on his chalkboard.
I tuned in the first time when Beck first came to Fox News Channel. I watched sporadically for a while. I turned him off for the last time during the whole 'I'm going blind' drama. I don't knock the fact that he genuinely has health issues. I know many people who do. What got me was seeing him talking about his vision issues, and then blowing it off an segueing into a discussion of Democratic Party political dirty tricks saying something along the lines of 'I don't know why I am going blind, but there is one thing I do know, the democrats will do anything to win an election.' Grab the remote, point and click. Buhbye Glenn Beck. Hope all of your other business ventures can feed your family, because GBTV will never provide you with the comfortable life that you have become accustomed to with the nice fat Fox paychecks.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Modern liberalism is a lie ...

So I have had this idea floating around in my head, and I think it is time to post this. Modern liberalism is NOT liberal. Let me explain...

Liberalism has a long and distinguished history. Throughout most of history, liberalism was the impulse to take power away from the government, and give the people greater self-determination. Liberals were the ones who stormed the Bastille in France. It was liberals who gave King James the heave-ho in England and offered the throne to William and Mary. It was liberals who drafter the Magna Charta and convinced King John to put pen to paper and sign it. It was liberals who drove the Spanish out of Latin America and won the independence of a large part of this hemisphere. Liberals penned a list of reasons for breaking away from England and declared the American colonies to be free and independent states. All of these things had one thing in common. They were movements away from a strong central government. They were movements towards a government that was closer to, empowered by, and answerable to the people. In short, historically, liberals believed in the individual and the ability of an individual to exert a positive influence on society and government.

So why, you may ask, does modern liberalism NOT fulfill the historical definition of liberalism that I just expounded upon? Consider the causes of modern "liberalism." They want to limit carbon emissions to clean up the planet. Sure, it is a lofty goal; one that I even support. But it is HOW they want to go about doing it that creates the problems. They want to do it by limiting people's choices. Many liberal favor heavily taxing (or even outlawing) vehicles that do not meet a minimum standard of fuel efficiency and pollution controls. Many liberals support artificially raising the price of gasoline to a level where people will abandon their cars and take mass transit. They want to remove our individualism, and instead replace it with a mindless group mentality. don't blaze your own path, take this pre-programmed route to your destination along with all the other drones. Liberalism? I think not.

Modern "liberalism" embraces the cause of social justice. Social justice is the new euphemism for the old term minority rights. Basically the idea is this. find some group that has an ax to grind with the society as a whole, and help them grind it. It is retroactively making up for past affronts to a group because of their race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. They want these groups to receive justice for things that happened to them in the past. of course, in many cases, that justice comes at a cost to society, not to the individuals who dispensed the injustices for which the atonement is being made. Consider the whole idea of affirmative action or reparations for slavery. My ancestors did not own slaves in this country. My grandparents emigrated to the United States in the years after World War I. There was no slavery in the United States at that time. I and my family are innocent in this affair. BUT, if the modern "liberals" who want to see reparations made had their way, tax money taken from me would go to pay for someone else's crimes. I do not share in the guilt, but I would certainly be punished. Now you might argue that my family was here for many of the the years of racism and segregation, but once again, I demand proof that somehow I am guilty if I am going to pay the cost of making something right. You may say, it is a societal thing and I am a part of the guilty society. I would say since when do we punish someone for the actions of their neighbor? And if that is the standard we want to apply, why don't we apply it in situations where there is a shooting in the inner city, there are multiple bystanders within easy viewing of the event, yet somehow, not a single person saw anything? Here in Milwaukee, we had a shooting a few years ago in the middle of a busy street festival. It happened with about 100 people around at the time, but there were no witnesses? I find that hard to believe.

Modern "liberals" embrace the idea of collectivism. Collective bargaining through forced unionization, collective risk through national health care, and collective misery through eroding the financial security of our nation through poor fiscal and monetary policy. Once again, historical liberalism would remove the shackles and limits from the individual and allow them to pursue their fortunes, thus enriching others (and society) in the process.

modern liberalism is a lie. It is collectivism, statism and socialism. Nothing more, nothing less.