My Plan for Super Tuesday

A call to all Virginia voters:

If you’re feeling uneasy about Mitt, you need to vote for Ron Paul next Tuesday. That’s exactly what I plan to do — not because I support Paul (I most certainly don’t) but because Operation Chaos needs to continue.

Has the majority spoken? No. As of tonight, only twelve states have voted, and they are states with relatively small delegations. The media will continue to press the “inevitability” narrative with regards to Mitt – especially after his wins in Arizona and Michigan – but we need to resist that narrative. There’s no damn way we should let our enemies select our candidate for us when only a quarter of the states have had their say.

And by the way — if you’re an ABR (i.e., “Anybody but Romney”), you need to convince your other ABR friends to throw their support behind one candidate. You’re losing right now because you’re splitting your vote.

And if you’re a Mitt supporter? (Hi, Mom!) Ignore everything I just said and try not to take it personally. If your guy does in fact win after all the votes have been counted, I will still campaign for him. I may be a Santorum supporter right now, but in the general election, I’m an ABO.

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Responding to Annoying Liberal Remarks on Facebook, X – The "Santorum Is Right" Edition

Actually, it’s not just the liberals who are being idiots this time; some of my conservative friends, sadly, are also jumping on Santorum for his recent negative remarks regarding the all-encompassing push to get everyone into college. An example:

Hey Santorum, I’m a Republican, and I went to college, a great one, and I got my degree, and got a job. Just like you did. Stop being a moron and just quit the race already.

I went to college, too – a public Ivy, actually – and I graduated summa cum laude with highest honors. Indeed, I enjoyed college so much that I eventually want to go back to study mathematics and theology — and to get teaching certificates in both math and science. But what’s your point here? Why are you behaving as if Santorum attacked you personally? He’s not saying that your college experience was completely worthless. He’s challenging the prevalent belief that college should be universal — and by the way, he’s absolutely right.

My day job involves a fair amount of college admissions counseling, so I know at a very intimate level how damaging all this pro-college propaganda can be. Repeatedly, I have seen C-students with below-average SAT scores collapse under the pressure and check out. Repeatedly, I have seen B-students with average SAT scores flame out in AP (or IB) courses that were forced upon them by over-zealous guidance counselors trying to burnish their students’ college resumes. If it weren’t for the college rat race, I wouldn’t have my current job, but I’d gladly give it up if it meant these students could actually be happy for once in their young lives.

A few weeks ago, a new client at work – a fifteen-year-old sophomore getting middling grades – confided in me that he really wanted to take a class on welding. The admission was furtive and ashamed — almost as if he thought himself a loser for even entertaining such a notion. When I responded enthusiastically — when I validated his desire and delivered a Mike Rowe-style speech on how the skilled trades are awesome and how we need to open more schools to train mechanics, construction workers, and – yes – welders — a weight was immediately lifted from his shoulders. At the end of our session, he remarked, “I was afraid you’d be mean, but you’re actually really nice. I’m going to enjoy coming here.”

Not everyone has the motivation or the aptitude to make it through college — but because everyone from Obama on down is beating the college drum, there are a lot of teens out there who believe they must go or else face social stigmatization and an uncertain employment future. This is sad, unfair, and exactly as “snobbish” as Santorum makes it out to be. Kids desperately need to have access to alternatives. They need to be told that going to trade school is okay. They need to be told that apprenticeships are perfectly respectable. They need to be told that enlisting in the military is a great idea. And they also need to have a K-12 education that goes beyond mere babysitting so that when they graduate, they won’t necessarily need to go to college to become “educated”. In my ideal world, kids would be equipped to educate themselves by the time they earn their high school diploma.

Recently, I’ve been reading Daniel J. Flynn’s Blue Collar Intellectuals (a book I highly recommend, by the way), and what I find most striking about the individuals Flynn profiles is the fact that they managed to pen brilliant, incisive works despite, in many cases, their failure to follow the “college track.” (See also: Eric Hoffer’s life as a hobo and longshoreman.) At mid-century, people with high school – or sometimes even grade school – educations were entirely capable of commenting intelligently upon the issues of the day. In fact, as Flynn reveals, in the post-WWII era, there was an explosion of interest in the “great books” that reached far down into the working classes. But how could this be if many of these people didn’t even go to college? The answer is simple: Back then, the lower education system was better. Robert Heinlein had to learn the times tables to 15 X 15 when he was a boy. Sub Spike, our father, was expected to memorize poetry and calculate square roots by hand. The traditional model still reigned supreme despite Dewey’s best efforts.

But I’m digressing a bit. Suffice it to say that I don’t believe you need to go to college to be educated. Indeed, many people go to college, get their credential, and emerge just as ignorant as they were when they went in. And no — Santorum is not “anti-smart folks,” and he’s not proposing that we allow people to languish in dead-end jobs at McDonald’s. Please get a grip and realize that there are – and should be – many tracks to middle class success.

A Study in Contrasts

First, read the following two blog posts (both from HotAir) —

NYT Columnist Slams Mormon Garments, Tells People to Stay Out of Others’ Britches

Judge Tosses Charge Against Muslim Who Allegedly Attacked Atheist for Mocking Mohammed

— then consider what these two stories reveal about our supposed elites. While Blow himself did apologize for his “magic underwear” tweet after the right-wing blogosphere’s outraged response, the frappe-swilling coastal crowd only barely registered that said tweet was a clear-cut expression of bigotry. Meanwhile, as the second story reveals, our “betters” are always ready to leap to the defense of Muslims — even if those Muslims are guilty of assault. Talk about double standards!

(By the way, I think the atheist – and his buddy, who was dressed up as the “Zombie Pope” – was being an obnoxious ass. In this country, however, you have a Constitutional right to be an obnoxious ass without fearing for your physical safety. Whether you should be an obnoxious ass is an important moral question, of course, but it’s one that falls outside the purview of the law.)

Politically Incorrect Lyrics – Ticket to Heaven

I get to borrow from one of my favorite alt bands today as, especially after last night’s depressing debate, I found the actual lyrics stunningly appropriate.

I give you…the politically incorrect “Ticket to Heaven,” as appropriated from the creative genius of 3 Doors Down. They own the real song. I’m just doing an homage. ūüôā

TICKET TO HEAVEN

We’re walking a wire, feels like there’s a thousand ways we could fail.
They want and we buy, but our freedoms all die, greed becomes our new jail.
When everything is said and done, we won’t have one thing left.
What happened to everything I’ve ever known?

All they give us is this ticket to heaven,
But that ticket to heaven says to hand them our soul, no mistake.
Now we’re restless and we’re running from everything.
We’re running from everything.¬† I’m afraid it’s a little too late.

The media lies, innocents die, ain’t it a shame.
All of our dreams, all our money, it won’t mean a thing.
When all is said and done, we won’t have one cent left.
What happened to everything we’ve ever known?

All they give us is this ticket to heaven,
But that ticket to heaven says to hand them our soul, no mistake.
Now we’re restless and we’re running from everything.
We’re running from everything.¬† I’m afraid it’s a little too late.

It’s a little too late.

Utopia is a ticket to heaven,
But that ticket to heaven leads us all into hell til we wake.
Tear it up now or you’ll never escape the fire,
You’ll be running from everything.¬† If you think it’s a little too late.
All they give us is this ticket to heaven,
But it’s all an illusion, and we’ll lie in the bed that we make.
Turn around now and face all of your biggest fears.
Don’t go running from everything.¬† Or soon enough it will be too late.

Local News: PWCS Budget Woes

Last week, while our school board was absorbed in the textbook adoption process, Superintendent Walts presented his budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 and was greeted with instant opprobrium. Why? Because he announced that our teachers would get neither a step increase nor a COLA (i.e., a cost of living adjustment) next year.

Let me summarize, first of all, my understanding of our county’s fiscal situation at this point in time. Number one, there’s a possibility that we will be losing ten million dollars of funding from the state — which, by the way, the superintendent didn’t even factor into his rough draft calculations. Number two, the amount of money Prince William County will have to pay into our teachers’ pension fund is about to increase by $30 million plus in part because of the nation’s sluggish economic growth (which impacts the investments made by VRS) and in part because – obviously – people are living longer after they retire. Number three, we are one of the fastest growing school divisions in the state thanks to the county’s friendly business environment, and that growth necessitates building more schools and expanding others.

Faced with the aforementioned new expenses, Walts felt he had no choice but to freeze teacher pay for the time being so he wouldn’t be forced to lay people off. In response, teachers in several schools staged “Work to Rule” protests. What that means, essentially, is that the protesting teachers agreed en mass to work only during their contracted hours (which, for a high school teacher, covers the hours from 7:15 AM to 2:15 PM). During the protest, they did not stay after school for any activities for which they are not usually paid. That meant no club meetings, no beyond-hours field trips, and no after-school tutoring sessions.

I have two general comments regarding the protests. First, I would like the county’s teachers to recognize that many people aren’t getting raises right now. Indeed, this idea that one is entitled to get an automatic COLA and step increase just for occupying a classroom for yet another year sounds completely foreign to many of us who work in the private sector. For your information, when the economy took a nose dive in 2008, I lost pay. My hourly rate stayed the same, but because our tutoring company was losing business, I didn’t net as many instructional hours. At the time, I would’ve given anything to have had my pay frozen (let alone increased).

Secondly, the “Work to Rule” protests were less than constructive (and I’m putting that very kindly). Many of my clients at work also depend upon after-school tutoring sessions to keep up. However frustrated you might be, denying struggling students the opportunity to get the after-hours help they need strikes me as extraordinarily selfish. The educational enterprise should be focused on the children first and foremost — not on the adults and their financial complaints.

But you know what? I’m feeling generous today, so I’m going to suggest that we try squeezing at least a COLA out of Walts’ budget. How could we do this? I don’t know for sure because I don’t have access to all the figures, but were I given the opportunity to examine the details, I’m sure I could find some luxuries that we could temporarily do without. For example:

  • Why is a school bus sent to my neighborhood to take kids to Gar-Field High? When I attended Gar-Field, I walked the 1.3 mile distance to school. Why can’t today’s students do the same? In other words, why not increase the county’s “walker distance” to 1.5 miles? That might cut down on our transportation costs — and as a bonus, we’d have fewer fat kids.
  • I notice that Walts set aside $15 million to reduce class sizes for every grade. Now, I love small classes as much as the next American educator; that is, in fact, why I work for my current employer. However, it might behoove us to bear in mind that the average class in Korea or Japan is larger than the average class in the States — and those countries routinely kick our butts on the TIMSS. Small classes are nice, but they’re evidently not a panacea.
  • Do we really need interactive white boards in our classrooms? They’re certainly snazzy, but back in the “bad old days,” we somehow managed to deliver a world-class education without them. Actually, in the past, all we needed were primers, pieces of chalk, and slates — or, if you were really desperate, a dirt floor and a stick.

As far as I’m concerned, the only things we really need are more classrooms – and schools – to accommodate our ballooning student population, a well-rounded, well-structured curriculum (including a decent selection of extra-curricular activities so our students are given plenty of opportunities to pursue their passions), and a staff of well-qualified, dedicated teachers. Everything else, I feel, is negotiable. So before we start talking about raising the property tax, let’s try a little harder to make some cuts.

Quick Debate Comment: People Need to GROW UP

The Arizona audience should be ashamed of itself. ¬†They booed Rick Santorum three different times tonight because he had the unmitigated gall to explain that as a Senator, he does not have the power to personally line-item veto elements of omnibus spending bills that are mostly good but have bad provisions — or to explain that he had to respond to the demands of his constituents in PA — or to point out that elements of his opponents’ attacks on his record, while technically accurate, were deeply hypocritical. ¬†Hey folks: GROW THE HELL UP.

If you are going to try to vote into office a candidate who will veto every bill that includes something he doesn’t like, you’ll never get anything done at all because there is no such thing as a perfect bill. ¬†That’s a powerful argument for small government, but it’s also a reason not to distort the truth when talking about your opponents’ voting records. ¬†Romney claims, for example, that Santorum voted several times to fund Planned Parenthood. ¬†The most pro-life member of Congress is being attacked for funding PP? Really? ¬†The reason he can say that is that PP is rammed through every year as a rider in the spending budget for Heath and Human Services, and all Santorum can do is either fund HHS or not. ¬†If he votes no, he gets accused of not caring about healthcare. ¬†If he votes yes, Romney accuses him of voting for PP. ¬†It’s insane. ¬†And the AZ audience bought it. ¬†That’s pathetically immature and will get this conservative movement utterly destroyed.

Santorum’s voting record is unquestionably conservative, both socially and fiscally. ¬†And when he passed that HHS omnibus bill, he also attached his own rider called Title 20 that funded ABSTINENCE EDUCATION. ¬†He explained that point — and the crowd booed him. ¬†Unbe-freakin’-lievable.

The more they booed him for demonstrating that he understands compromise, that he will be creative and think of ways to mitigate the damage from bills he is compelled to pass by the nature of the system, and that he will continue to speak on social matters and look for ways to battle media tropes and narratives that are factually untrue and dangerous to the stability of the nation, the more I wanted to send him a second campaign check and look for a way to campaign for him in NY.

*heavy sigh*

Frustrating debate tonight.

Birth Control Addendum

SABR Matt is absolutely right in his post below: The ready availability of artificial birth control has wrought enormous social harm. And yes — we should resist all attempts to declare this a settled debate. In the long run, it shouldn’t matter that most American women – including, sadly, a lot of poorly catechized Catholics – think birth control is peachy-keen. The truth shouldn’t be made subject to a popular referendum.

In the short term, however, I think we need to be very careful how we deliver our message with respect to the HHS mandate. Above all, we need to make it crystal clear that even if the bishops win this fight and the mandate is rescinded, a woman – yes, even one who works for a Catholic employer – will still be able to get birth control if she wants it. I Googled around the other day and discovered that a standard birth control prescription would even fit into my limited monthly budget. And if I wanted a sterilization or some other longer-term treatment? I’d have to save up for a while, but it would still be doable. Birth control, in short, is hardly as costly as, say, chemotherapy or heart surgery.

The HHS mandate is a solution to a problem that simply doesn’t exist. The Guttmacher Institute – i.e., the research arm for Planned Parenthood – reports that 99% of sexually-active women have used artificial contraception. That figure implies that there’s no access issue when it comes to birth control. Indeed, the very suggestion that women are struggling to get contraception is absolutely ludicrous. For goodness sake, you can get a condom for free if you’re really that strapped for cash! If you swing by the closest family planning clinic – or student health center if you happen to be on campus – the chances are pretty good that you’ll find condoms sitting in a bowl on the front counter in lieu of candy.

Bottom line, there’s no legitimate reason to demand that we Catholics pay for your birth control — and that’s why we are fighting the mandate so implacably. We personally oppose artificial contraception for all of the reasons SABR Matt describes, but our objection to the administration’s policy on this is less about those (wholly logic-grounded) beliefs and more about the completely unneeded federal overreach. We want people to put on their critical thinking caps, take some personal responsibility, and stop acceding to the progressive infantilization of the American populace. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, and it’s time people grow up and recognize that reality.

Birth Control? I Think Not.

I’ll begin this little piece with a quote from Playboy chairman Hugh Heffner:

“The Playboy girl reflects the ideals of both genders.¬† She is pure, virginal, clean, healthy, free of blemishes and happy.¬† She is not concerned with the uglier parts of humanity. How could she lower herself to such pursuits as the worst of men?”

The full quote can be found with a proper Google search, but this send-off more than tells the story for the modern feminist movement.¬† Playboy Headquarters is largely run by women today – women so tragically and fully convinced of Hugh Heffner’s status as a feminist crusader for sexual parity that when questioned on the subject by social conservatives, they react as though they are staring at the face of the devil.¬† I’ll come back to Playboy – the ultimate cultural icon for horny young males and the ultimate symbol for everything that is wrong with the sexual revolution – in a moment.

You’re going to hear a lot about social issues in the media now that Rick Santorum has catapulted to the top of the polls in the 2012 primary race, so I think a careful examination of the FACTS – not the ideals or the ideologies of the desires of American women in search of insurance against the hard choices that life presents – is in order regarding women’s liberation and the sexual revolution.

I”ll start you here:

NRO Reports the Facts Regarding Contraception

This is a much MUCH more complex issue than the common treatment of it by the mainstream media would have you believe.¬†¬† Here’s an executive summary of the facts presented by Erika Bachiochi and Catherine Pakaluk:

Liberals claim that contraception has freed women from the dangers of unwanted pregnancy and the related consequences (forced or premature marriage, single motherhood, abortion, poverty, forced retirement and the health risks of pregnancy).  In actuality it has done NONE of those things.  Since the advent of the pill, single motherhood has increased by an order of magnitude, premature marriage has been replaced by deadbeat dads, abortion is commonplace and every bit as devastating as it has ever been for the psychiatric health of mothers, and mothers no longer have the option of retiring. They must work AND raise their children, resulting in new consequences such as children who feel abandoned, children who go on to lives of crime and underachievement, and the depressing reality of the ghetto, where generation after generation are born, live and die in endless poverty and despair.  And the fact is, all of the responsibility for stopping pregnancy now shifts to the woman.  If she misses a dose of the pill (oh so easy to do), its effectiveness goes to zero and the man is far more likely to feel no responsibility for the resulting offspring. In fact, he may resent her for her supposed failure and break off their relationship.  All of this is despite thirty years of aggressive sex-education policy in this country designed to emphasize birth control and condom use over all other forms of protection for women and to de-emphasize the emotional and spiritual risks of premarital sex.

The leaders of the sexual revolution do seem to be doing well, however.¬† It appears that a class of elite women has developed that is immune to the crushing affects of this new “freedom” for the rest of female-kind.¬† Fascinating how the “creme” always seems to rise even if the coffee is rancid.

Many of my closest friends will respond to these facts with this refrain:

“There are a lot of bastards out there — a lot of guys looking for meaningless sex.¬† Shouldn’t women know how to protect themselves from this, and shouldn’t they use those protections?¬† Or are you asking us to turn back the clock and subjugate women to the yoke of marriage and motherhood?”

But this presupposes that men are always going to be this selfish in such large numbers.¬† The same sexual revolution that brought us the pill and a renewed interest in the female orgasm also brought us a fleet of men for whom society has had very low expectations.¬† They’re told by the culture that sex is safe now, that it’s just for fun, and that women want it just as badly as they do.¬† They’re divorced from a long history of religious teaching that focused CORRECTLY on the emotional risks of sex and the man’s responsibility for the outcome of his behavioral choices.¬†

Social memes are incredibly powerful things.¬† In twenty years, the average American went fro 82% likely to think homosexuality was immoral to merely 37% likely to say the samke.¬† In a mere twenty years, the KKK went from a legitimate political power in the South to the laughingstock of American history.¬† In twenty years, we went from believing that all school children should say the Pledge of Allegiance to believing that even the act of reciting it infringed on the rights of children who wished not to say it.¬† And in 35 years, we went from 5% of all pregnancies being out of wedlock to 40% (!)., And divorce? Divorce was the end result of roughly 30% of marriages decades ago, but that proportion has now increased to more than 55%.¬† We can get any result we want (in the gross statistical sense) from our culture.¬† So why do we want men to be freed from sexual burdens and loosed on unsuspecting women in the name of sexual pleasure-cruising? ¬†¬† Why don’t we want men to behave themselves and take care of women the way they should?

The answer to the problems of the sexual revolution isn’t to go back to the 50’s or to stay the course and hope the pills get better and less fraught with side effects and failure-rates.¬† The answer is a sex-education revolution that focuses on the emotional, psychological and physical risks of sex – not just on pregnancy and STDs – and lets men know that we expect more from them than to be walking hormone bombs looking for a sperm dumpster.¬† The emasculation of men must be fought if women are to ever take their rightful place as our societal equals and achieve levels of happiness they haven’t experienced since Eve and the figurative Garden of Eden.

It sure seems to me that the current accepted position for most women in the new order of modern feminism is precisely the position in which Hugh Heffner dreamed she would be forty years ago — minus the purity part. ¬†There’s just one problem: when a bunny gets into trouble, Heffner casts her from his mansions. ¬†What we’ll get if we follow the idealistic view of modern feminists – the one that supposed that if women were identical to men in their liberty to express themselves sexually, they’d be happier with sex – is a world of Playboy bunnies who are lauded for their sexual expression while they’re young and relatively pure (untainted by pregnancy) and then cast aside to be miserable with their options for reproduction and sexuality when they get too old or too altered by pregnancy to appear on a centerfold. ¬†Don’t believe me? ¬†Talk to Ms. October, 1995.

I guarantee you, ladies: I (and Rick Santorum) care far more for your happiness than Nancy Pelosi or Debbie Wasserman-Schultz would have you believe.¬† We both want you to be happy in the best way possible and we want that happiness to be for LIFE…not just during college or high school or your twenties.

Election Update: Santorum Now National Front-Runner

A few weeks ago, when Santorum was surging in upcoming primary states like Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota, Romney had a few “outs” to keep his status as a front-runner in the media narrative.¬† He could say:

 -> Santorum is just the latest in a series of challengers and is benefiting from a lack of media exposure
¬†-> Santorum only has a small part of the country to play to. Social conservatives don’t run this country anymore
¬†-> Santorum is on a sugar high. His national polling numbers aren’t rising
¬†-> Santorum can’t compete in multiple states simultaneously when we hit Super Tuesday

etc.

But now, Santorum is leading the Gallup National GOP race by TEN WHOPPING POINTS 36 to 26 (to 13 for Gingrich and 11 for Paul), he leads the National Rasmussen poll by six points (42-36-11-9, same order), he leads in Michigan according to the latest suite of polling data as summarized by RealClearPolitics.com by an average of 15 points (46-31-8-8, same order), and he trails in Arizona (where he’s spent ZERO time personally campaigning) by a measily 7 points (34-41-13-2 with Paul in third).

As they guessed at National Review Online a week or so ago, the national Republican electorate has apparently FINALLY seen enough of Santorum to feel comfortable (just enough) that he is electable, reasonable (and likable) and can defend himself well against media attacks and are therefore throwing their support enthusiastically his way.¬† The Not-Romney crowd seems to have more or less united under Santorum without his having to put on a huge ground game or even run a ton of commercial spots.¬† Will this momentum hold?¬† Hard to say yet, but I think he’s got more staying power than Newt.