Why the far Left MUST back down

April 27, 2017

While it seems like 5 years, we are only a scant three months into the regime of Trump.  Sadly, despite accomplishing little, objectively flip-flopping, and all but admitting that he is not ready to be president, some polls are showing that if the election were re-run today, enough people would continue to back Trump in key states that he would win again.  That is incredulous!  How can a man who is transparently un-Christian get the backing of the FRWEASPs (I guess more about the “W” and “AS” than the “E”), how can a rank amateur continue to be supported by the business community … and how can the unemployed who clearly aren’t going back to work continue to back this guy?

The far left might be the key to this.  There appear to be a great many moderates who are simply scared to death of what they are preaching.

The most recent kerfuffle involves noted far-right spokesdemon Ann Coulter’s attempt to speak at the University of California-Berkeley.  Needless to say, while a majority of people probably don’t want to be anywhere around her, a particular branch of the far left threatened violence if she spoke.  Lawsuits were threatened, and in the end, after a lot of huffing and puffing, Coulter opted not to speak, and chalked up a victory.  She was able to demonstrate to the scared middle that the Left does not indeed support the freedoms they purport to cherish, and that this will likely sew enough doubt in a lot of voters.

Coulter’s actions:  threatening to speak at a university where she clearly knew she would have no popular support, and would galvanize people to take extreme action, and in the end walking away reminded me of something from history.

Many people have forgotten that this scene from The Blues Brothers is more than just a little comedy at the expense of an easy to mock group of people.   It was actually the one part of the film rooted in historic fact.

Back in 1977, the National Socialist Party of America (NSPA) decided that it wanted to march in the beautiful northern Chicago suburb of Skokie.  For those not familiar, Skokie, especially back in 1977, had a sizable Jewish population (I can’t find confirmation, but I remember hearing that at that time, Skokie had the largest per-capita population of Holocaust survivors of any city on Earth).  This march was not simply some recruiting tool or some attempt to draw a little attention (on the surface).  This was an attempt to mock and terrorize citizens, sans actual weapons. It was deplorable to any human with a heart and/or soul.

Initially, Cook County denied any marching permit, but when it looked like they were going to go to court and lose, the County changed its mind and allowed the permit, provided marchers did not march in their uniforms and display swastikas.  The County justified this by labeling Nazi symbolism as essentially “fighting words”, which allowed them to limit their display.  The NSPA joined with the ACLU, and took the town to court. Initially, Skokie won in the circuit and appellate courts, then won in the Illinois Supreme Court, before the case landed in the US Supreme Court.  SCOTUS oredered the Illinois courts to revisit their decisions.  The Appellate court lifted the injunction on the uniforms, but maintained that the swastika was a de facto symbol that would lead to conflict and unrest, and could remain a requirement of the injunction against the NSPA.  On review, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld that the swastika was protected speech, and that Skokie could not demand it not be shown as a condition of granting a permit to march.

Victorious in court, the NSPA decided not to march in Skokie, and instead marched in Chicago’s, then Federal Plaza (now the Honorable Richard J. Daley Center Plaza … that’s where they got that Picasso!)

After that decision, the Nazis didn’t go away … but they entered a long period of silence that saw their numbers drop … a period that lasted right up until the election of Barrack Obama … something that unnerved a lot of paranoid white people.  The point is that for a time, they got to play the victim card, and that draws both attention and sympathy … yes, perhaps that sympathy is from the weak minded and paranoid, but it can be enough to get them to wonder if these poor Nazis might be misunderstood.  Instead, the Nazis marched, people protested, and the Nazis largely went away for a few decades.

That takes us to today.  Today there are no brown shirts and swasitkas.  Today it is nice dresses, shirts and ties, and almost exactly as Sinclair Lewis predicted, it is wrapped in the American flag and carrying a cross to fool those who put racism and politics ahead of true faith and true patriotism.  Today, it is much harder for the inexperienced and the uneducated to tell the difference.  The far left is correct to oppose this, and is correct to be frightened by this.  The problem is not their disposition.  The problem is that the far right is taking advantage of predictable actions on the far left to gain sympathy and support.  Think about it:  a woman with the conservative mental capacity to think that ionizing radiation vaccinates a person against cancer … and that bringing back poll taxes to reduce the number of people voting was a good idea actually won this week … and she never had to actually give any speech.  She became the victim of bullies (admittedly, bullies who were shutting down a hate monger … but quite a few people sitting on the fence don’t see this.

I absolutely support the protests against these vile people.  Please keep doing that.  However, shutting down free speech does nothing but give a win to hate, and give a black eye to the very nature of American liberal politics.

Perhaps more than anytime since the era of the Civil War, the word of historian Evelyn Beatrice Hall must be followed:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

 

Imagine how disarmed the neoconservatives would be if they didn’t look like the victim anymore, and instead were seen for the bullies that they are.

 

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My first godfather-goddaughter day

April 23, 2017

Today I finally had my first outing with my goddaughter without her brother or anyone else … which was a big step for me.  The event was our school putting on their annual Spring Musical, which this year was The Little Mermaid.

The production was very cute, and definitely geared toward young kids.  While we didn’t attend, several of the actors did a “storytime” for the younger kids before the show (no word on if they read the actual “Little Mermaid” story where Ariel dies in the end …).  Some of the actors were on cables to do some swimming simulations  in the air.  Our school has a long, proud tradition of top shelf shows, and this certainly looks like it continued the tradition.

While certainly we could only talk before and after the show, my goddaughter seemed to like it. She occasionally sang along under her breath to the songs that she knew (and thanks to good friend Tom and his college roommate, I still have not forgotten the lyrics to some of these songs for some reason … because for reasons this soundtrack was one of the top things playing on the stereo whenever I came over for a visit).  When Ariel went airborne for the first time and was performing flips, it was cool to see her lean forward and get bug-eyed at what she was seeing.


Even I wouldn’t have gone here, Cincinnati

April 22, 2017

With the exception of White Sox fans and Cardinals fans, I think no team’s fans have a visceral hatred for the Cub than the Cincinnati Reds.  I’m not sure why.

 

It might have been the time that Cincinnati Reds broadcasting legend Marty Brennaman went scorched earth on the fans of the Cub.

It might have started back in 1984 when Ron Cey’s foul ball was called a three-run home run (and then it wasn’t … I’d say it was the one time Mario Soto almost killed an umpire, but that would be a lot of times).

It might have been the time Kyle Farnsworth tried to hit a bunting Paul Wilson (that was back in naught-three)…

It might have been the time Aroldis Chapman started throwing at some Cub in 2014 …

Heck, in 2008, the Reds’ farm team, the Dayton Dragons got into an actual fight with the Cubs’ farm team, the Peoria Chiefs … the game was stopped for over an hour, and some of the ejections had to be rescinded just to finish the game.  Had the fight lasted longer, Don King would have bought up the rights to broadcast it …

But the Reds went to new lows (or highs, depending on one’s perspective), by trolling some of the Cub fans who showed up in Cincinnati for Friday night’s game.

 

 

 

 


Isn’t it all worth the lives of just a few kids?

April 14, 2017

The Chicago Tribune published an article about students at the prestigious Naperville North High School posting a petition demanding a change to the school’s culture which aggressively pushes all students to take AP classes, and pushing the narrative that this is, for the most part, the one true path for all.

For those in education, this shouldn’t come as something surprising.  For most of the past ten years, there has been a major push from so-called “reformers” to get more and more and more kids into college prep curricula, so that 100% of our students can be college ready.  One of my few and biggest bones with the Obama administration is over this … instead of undoing a bad system created in the Bush administration (NCLB), he really doubled down with Race for the Top, which allowed these “reformers” to cause a lot of damage to education.

This completely ignores the wishes of students and parents who may not want that road, or who may choose that road at a more leisurely pace (college is tough … but there is “MIT/Caltech tough” … there’s “Harvard” tough … there’s “University of Illinois” tough, there’s “Western Illinois University” tough, and “community college” tough.  The reformers have largely created an arbitrary measure of “college ready”, and have not accounted for what a lot of people actually want in their education.

However, there is a more sinister and serious influence that has crept in … and this has a lot more to do with money and other arbitrary measures.

If you have gone house shopping in the recent past, and you have, or were planning on spawning, you become interested in the local schools, and a lot of real estate companies will list the local schools rankings on the U.S. News and World Report lists of toughest and best schools.  You might start by asking what expertise U.S. News and World Report has to rank schools.  The answer is that they have far less expertise than a French tire company has at ranking gourmet restaurants, and that should concern you.

This means that the ability for someone to sell their home and get top dollar is at least partially linked in some cases to that list.  In some communities, this has become a monumentally big deal!  If the school isn’t ranked high enough, then homes don’t get sold, or at least don’t get sold for top dollar.  In our community, we had a person run for the school board solely on the platform of getting our school’s ranking up higher for this reason (they lost, but it became a big issue in the local press).

The U.S. News and World Report lists are based predominantly on a single metric of success, and that metric is the ratio of AP tests taken-per-student.  Anyone with any background in humanity should know that this is highly arbitrary, and not particularly useful at measuring the effectiveness at determining how good a school is, because this data is very easily manipulable.  Schools could very simply start mandating that all students start taking AP classes and take AP tests, and that would artificially raise that metric quickly.  In fact, the school I teach at did that last year, mandating all freshmen take AP History (I forget which one).  Our school went from being ranked somewhere around 200th in the country to the top 75 in the country on that useless tanking.  Are we really that good?  I’m not sure where we should have ranked, but we certainly aren’t that deserving now!  More and more our educational strategy is based around “window dressing” to make administrators and the school look good while covering up some fundamental problems that are getting bigger.  The community may not like this, but has a vested financial interest in seeing this continue.

All we need to do is realize that we are screwing our kids over big time in pushing this process on them.  I want our schools to be tough on kids, but I also want to give kids what they need … and arbitrarily tough isn’t the solution to that.  If you read that article, you will see that the Naperville North petition was fueled by the second student suicide related to stress in the past year.

Is this the price we want for high rankings on a useless scale in order to sell the house for a few grand more?  Sadly, we are in a void of leadership that will do anything about this.


I get honored for mostly not screwing up too badly …

April 9, 2017

I need to start off on a really terrible note, by informing those out there not in the know, that my old, old friend Beth (she’s not old, we’ve just known each other for a long time), lost her father this past week. He died four months to the day that she lost her mom.  Everyone goes through this differently, and I would never tell anyone “I know exactly how it feels” because I can’t, but I feel enough empathy for people who go through this to get a knot in my stomach when things like this happen.  Please keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

On slightly better news, my brother-in-law was elected by the good people of Willow Springs to be a Trustee and will sit on the Village Board.  This was his second attempt to get elected, and despite some really under-the-belt tactics by his opponents, he and his ticket made their point and won the day thanks to a large voter turnout.  This means I am now closely related to a genuine Cook County politician.  I’ve never felt closer to prison in my life … and many of you know my brother.

The week capped off for me down in Bloomington-Normal where the state scholastic bowl coaches association awarded me an award for being around and helping out.  I didn’t want this award.  I’ve not been very big into them for a long time.  I think they knew this so they made a very splashy public announcement about it before they told me figuring I wouldn’t want to make more of a fuss by turning it down then.  They were right.  I decided to make the best of it by turning my speech into a list of thank yous to people who I owed, and to yell at the assembled players to tell them to step up and do their part to continue improving the activity and competition.

It also helps to remind me that when people get awards and get speeches about all of the wonderful things they accomplished, they never talk about the things you screwed up.  I’ve been terrible at organizing tournaments … only one of the roughly five I ever hosted ever managed to run close to on time and without a major catastrophe occurring.  There was no mention of the times I made middle schoolers cry while officiating their tournaments (four times).  No mention of the terrible, horrible questions I’ve written that likely caused more than a few players to blow a gasket.  I think I have destroyed most of them.  No mention of the times I should have been more forceful to get something done, and didn’t, and the times I should have been more subtle to get things done and wasn’t.

Things like that put success in perspective.

One of the things I did have some hand in bringing about was ending a threatened limitation to our players playing at national tournaments, a privilege enjoyed in most other states.  This did help expose our players to top notch competition, and helped to improve our top teams, which in turn helped improve some of our other teams.  It helped immensely to punctuate this point that as we were meeting and giving speeches, the collegiate nationals were taking place, in which a number of former Illinois high school players were having exceptional tournaments, helping to guide their teams to top finishes, all while three of our best high school teams were competing in Texas at a pre-nationals tournament, and taking three of the top five places.

I can’t claim a lot of credit … but I will claim a small slice of the cake for helping that to happen.


Time to renew …

April 2, 2017

It has been an awful, awful several months.  It seems like everything is broken.  They can’t get the right movie announced at the Oscars … the US electoral system is seriously screwed up, the education systems are an absolute mess … and the Cub reigns as the World Series champions.

Eamus_Catuli_zeroes

Damn it!!

For those that don’t know, that is the sign located across from Cubs Park that keeps track of the years since the last division, league, and World Series titles … and for the first time ever it reads zeroes across the board.

The White Sox are in rebuilding mode.  On the good hand, the Sox are finally building a farm system for the first time since the 1950s.  However, this means that the Sox will not be threatening for much of anything.  All of the forecasts have the Sox finishing 4th or 5th in the division (of five teams).  Hopefully, this bodes well for the Sox a few years down the road … but that year will not be this year.

Perhaps the most sad White Sox news will be that this will be the first time in six years that a guy with a White Sox cap won’t be in office in Washington.  Instead, the current resident of 1600 Penn may become the first president since Jimmy Carter to not throw out a first pitch at a Washington Nationals or Baltimore Orioles game while president.  Given the close association with Cubs ownership and the Trump campaign, you figure he would throw out the first pitch for the Cub … but apparently he is staying under cover these days.  As a baseball fan, I am glad he is not sullying the national pastime with his presence.

That all said, it is a day of renewal and rebirth … glorious baseball is finally back!