Monday, January 31, 2005

Without A Paddle

Did you read about Oklahoma native Scott McConnell who got "expelled" from LeMoyne College's masters program for writing a paper advocating the use of corporal punishment in public schools? Even though the paper was good enough to earn him an A-minus, it also was too politically incorrect for the New York school's administration. They have refused to allow the degenerate masters student to enrol for the spring semester.

Their loss. McConnell describes the college's attitude and discusses the formative experience that has influenced his beliefs about corporal punishment:
"LeMoyne doesn't believe students should be able to express their own views," McConnell said. "If you differ from our philosophical ideal you will be expelled from our college."
McConnell was raised in Oklahoma, where corporal punishment was used when he was a student, he said. In the fourth grade he was paddled by a teacher for being unruly. "It worked. I never talked out of turn again," he said.

LeMoyne officials say the issue is "very complicated" and "there is no clean dividing line" between a student's opinion and a well-reasoned ability to make "professional judgments."

Whatever that means.

Reasonable people can differ on the value of corporal punishment, or whether some other form of discipline might work better in the classroom. In fact, that's the whole point: reasonable people do differ, and in a free society -- especially in an academic setting -- reasonable people should be encouraged to explore their differences, analyze data and challenge prevailing orthodoxy.

But since liberalism now equates corporal punishment with child abuse, it looks like it's just one more taboo subject. My way or the highway redux.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

Media, school begin backlash

Poor Stephen Williams of Stephens Creek school in Cupertino, Ca. He's the teacher who was forbidden to use the Declaration of Independence and other government documents to demonstrate the reliance on God by the founders of our country.

Now the media and school officials are lashing back in a story that claims that Williams' real crime was to
over-emphasize religion at the expense of other core subjecs like math and science.

Stevens Creek has received hundreds of angry phone calls and more than 3,000 e-mails -- some vulgar, others threatening -- since Nov. 22, when one of its teachers, Stephen Williams, filed a federal lawsuit against the school. The fifth-grade teacher alleges his civil rights were violated when school principal Patricia Vidmar ordered him to stop distributing documents to his students "because of their religious content."

Among the banned documents, the suit says, were religious excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, various state constitutions and writings by George Washington, John Adams and William Penn.

Vidmar also banned a document Williams created called "What Great Leaders Have Said About The Bible." It quotes Jesus Christ and nine U.S. presidents. According to the handout, John Adams said, "The Bible is the best book in the world."

In his lawsuit, Williams, 39, said he merely wanted to use historical documents to explain the role of religion among the nation's founding fathers. But he said he was singled out because the principal knew he was a self-professed Christian


Administrators said the materials are inappropriate for 10- and 11-year-olds. They question why Williams included writings from a 17th-century Swiss jurist who tried to explain natural law by tracing its origin to God.

"Our job is to ensure that students are given information in an appropriate way, consistent with their age and their level of sophistication," said district Superintendent William Bragg.
But more troubling for parents at one of the region's top public schools, Zimmers said, was that Williams' focus on religion took time away from math, science and other subjects. "Anything that takes away from the basic curriculum in the classroom puts the children at a competitive disadvantage," Zimmers said. "That was really what this was all about."

As if there were any doubt the overall slant of things now, the article says teachers blame Williams for all the turmoil and publicity. It's he's fault, after all, he's the Christian!

The publicity has taken a toll in the Silicon Valley town, which prides itself on diversity and tolerance. Sarah Beetem, a Stevens Creek fifth- and sixth-grade teacher for nine years and herself a Christian, said some teachers blame Williams for unleashing turmoil.

"This is a quiet, suburban community," Beetem said. "Why is our school being attacked? We are nice."

No tricks, no treats?

Those traditional defenders of human rights, the Germans, have come up with a program that is destined to be emulated elsewhere. The subhead in the UK online Telegraph gets right to the point: 'If you don't take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits' .
Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.
The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.

While we attempt to stifle our disgust, our inquiring minds must ask, Why should government find prostitutes (or coerce women into becoming prostitutes) for brothels? The writer explains:
Prostitution was legalised in Germany in 2002 because the government believed that this would help to combat trafficking in women and cut links to organised crime.

Oh! Why take the risk of kidnapping, beating and drugging women when you can get the State to force them into prostitution by cutting off their unemployment benefits? The superior "morality" of this position just goose-steps you right in the groin, doesn't it?

If the Christians of Germany do not rise up to stop this madness, then we can safely conclude that there are no more Christians left.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Undeserving of his surname

You have to wonder what kind of speaker's fee is paid someone like the University of Colorado's Ward L. Churchill, chairman of the CU Ethnic Studies Department. How much is it worth to learn more from a man who says that the victims of 9-11 were not "innocent" and thus merited their fate.

Churchill, a longtime American Indian Movement activist, is
drawing fire for his pending appearance at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., and for an essay he wrote about 9-11 entitled "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens." We could go into the details but you should read them youself. A small taste, perhaps, from the Rocky Mountain News article:
The essay contends the hijackers who crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11 were "combat teams," not terrorists. It states: "The most that can honestly be said of those involved on Sept. 11 is that they finally responded in kind to some of what this country has dispensed to their people as a matter of course."

"As for those in the World Trade Center," the essay said, "well, really, let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break." The essay goes on to describe the victims as "little Eichmanns," referring to Adolph Eichmann, who executed Adolph Hitler's plan to exterminate Jews during World War II.
Churchill is one of the "blame America first and for everything" people who are so well represented among university faculty. That, sadly, is no surprise. There is the same reliance on hazy generalities of American wrong-doing, and a gleeful rejoicing in the specific harm inflicted upon Americans and American interests. Missing is any moral foundation that would justify their arguments.

Mr. Churchill, if you know the specifics of an American atrocity, you should use your position and abilities (your voice) to seek redress of the wrong. You have a moral obligation to say something then. You should not use the relative safety of your high ivory tower to merely wait until something bad happens so that you can say, "See I was right, and now you evil Americans are being punished." Doing so only exhibits a moral cowardice and a hiding behind the shield of academic freedom and the First Amendment.

In short, we suspect you are not a legitimate champion of human rights. We suspect that you are a leftist gas-bag who dishonors his surname. It's a shame you can get paid for this tripe.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A luxury we can't afford

Peter Robinson, National Review Online contributor, frets over Dubya's inaugural address, telling us
"... the speech was in almost no way that of a conservative. To the contrary. It amounted to a thoroughgoing exaltation of the state.

Bush has just announced that we must remake the entire third world in order to feel safe in our own homes, and he has done so without sounding a single note of reluctance or hesitation. This overturns the nation’s fundamental stance toward foreign policy since its inception. Washington warned of "foreign entanglements." The second President Adams asserted that "we go not abroad in search of monsters to destroy." During the Cold War, even Republican presidents made it clear that we played our large role upon the world stage only to defend ourselves and our allies, seeking to changed the world by our example rather than by force.
Robinson ends with: Tell me I'm wrong. Please.

Peter, you are wrong. Revisit 9/11. Understand that to be conservative is to seek to protect the good. The security of our citizens and the future of our economy depend in great part on fending off attacks from "out there," from people who would terminate our way of life tomorrow if they could.

In Washington's Day no one had that capability, except maybe the British (and don't think they didn't try in 1812). We had the luxury of oceans to keep would-be enemies at bay. Technology has trimmed our safety margin. Stupid political correctness -- and no small measure of free trade enthusiasm -- has laid waste our attempts at border control. The idea that we could crawl back into Cocoon America is enticing. Traditional conservatism saw isolationism as our best chance for untrampled peace.

Isolationism in today's world is a guarantee of terrorism, and a promise that our system will be tested, perhaps beyond its limits to survive. This "whistlin' in the dark" isolationism is a main theme running through what passes for mainstream liberalism today. ("We should be spending our tax dollars on the poor at home, not on the military abroad." Etc.)

What was once distant Asia, Africa and the Middle East is now next door. And the neighbors are not quiet. They fight among themselves constantly, and when we peek through the curtains we see them casting covetous glances are our possessions. They do not ask us how we became wealthy (through freedom, hard work and the blessings of the Almighty). They instead berate us for having more than our "fair share."

If we can spread the concept of personal liberty and economic freedom to these regions, prosperity will follow and we might not have to worry about keeping an eye on the neighbors. Sharing the wealth means nothing if we do not share the secrets to creating it. Mere redistribution is only a temporary measure that will results in more anger later.

The only way we can go back to a workable isolationism is to seal off the borders, bury our alliances (and a great deal of free trade), and then aggressively defend ourselves with every weapon we possess. This would require great reliance on nuclear power (for energy needs as well as defense). As long as we import most of our petroleum we are forced to deal with the Middle East.

Perhaps educating the neighborhood to freedom is easier than trying to convince our own American family to modify its extravagant energy-spending ways.

Inexplicable inaugural funk

It's now later in the afternoon of Inauguration Day 2005, the President officially has started his second term, nothing particular awful has happened to disrupt the assorted festivities, and the inaugural address was in no small measure an uplifting, far-reaching proclamation of the highest principles.

But while the prevailing mood here in the Oklahomily nerve center is one of quiet relief and modest reflection, there is little triumph and more than a little funkiness. Why is that so?

There is relief that none of the truly horrible events have transpired. We did not expect them, but in a post-9/11 world you can never be entirely sure or entirely safe. A terrorist event at an inaugural could damage our political structure to a greater degree than at any other time. Every one who is any one attends and is exposed to anything that slips through the security net. This fact is why we take such a dim view of the silly "blue" protesters: sure it's their right to protest, but do they realize that doing so on this day, at this venue, complicates what are already tremendous security logistics? (The answer we already know: sure they realize it, and they do not care. That is sad.)

Could it be because the MSM's poor performance -- as usual -- has taken the luster off what should be a great day? Maybe a little. However it was no surprise. Don't expect too much from the MSM. It refuses to learn from its mistakes. Indeed, it refuses to even admit to itself that mistakes have been made. Thus the MSM will continue on its slippery path to total irrelevance, and in the meantime the nation's citizenry -- and best interests -- will not be served by mainstream journalism.

Then there's the chasm that exists between the principles and philosophies of Dubya and the unprincipled and philosophically vacant rhetoric of the Democratic left. Practioners do not wish to claim God's inspiration or guidance, yet neither do they wish to allow anyone else to do so. So they decry each and every invocation of God's holy Presence and Will, while doing their level best to ignore the same. In Senate hearings it is already apparent that the spirit of Tom Daschle is more of a motivator for their actions than any other kind; obstruction continues at an even more frenetic level than before. It could be a long year.

The MSM and Dems have their talking points organized again and the word is "Hubris." They see it rearing its ugly head with every nomination, every official proclamation. They are attempting to create a self-fulfilling prophecy in order to say, "See, we told you so! Now will you turn the running of the country back over to us, the natural masters of patronage, class warfare and dependency?"

Again, none of this is a surprise, yet the level of opposition -- indeed, the exhibition of sheer hatred -- is a reminder that while great opportunities abound for this Republic to move boldly forward, the road ahead is perilously fraught. As Obi-Wan told Luke, "We must be cautious." How bold can an administration, or a people, become when such caution is necessary? Perhaps the real risk is being too cautious and accomplishing only small victories instead of great ones. The President seems to understand this. Unfortunately many of his erstwhile allies in Congress do not seem to understand.

We agree that it is better to be optimistic, and to coin a phrase, maybe we just picked a bad year to give up drinking.

Friday, January 14, 2005

A Little Baseball Talk I

Talk about wanting something for nothing: Washington's new baseball team out to fit right in with the liberals in the nation's capital.

The Nationals don't have an owner yet, but they have a mighty hankerin' for Slammin' Sammy Sosa. But in true liberal style (see related item on steroid usage) the Nationals have made it known that they expect a bargain. According to
"The Nationals are not trading for Sosa unless the Cubs are willing to pay the entire salary," the source said. "The team will not trade its young players for Sosa."

Sosa is due $35 million for the 2005-06. Unless the Nationals are willing to give up something it looks like the Cubs' right fielder will stay in Chicago.

Perhaps the Nationals are trying to win their way into the hearts of the socialists on the Washington, D.C., city council who very nearly drove the team into the wilderness over the terms of stadium financing.

A Little Baseball Talk II

It's hot stove time for die hard baseball fans, and at the moment the stove is so warm that its metal sides are glowing.

Since Fidel leftists have tried to become a part of the grand old game, sometimes unsuccessfully (Castro had other plans than pitching for the Yankees) and sometimes successfully, as in the case of former Players Union rep
Marvin Miller who is quoted today by Sports Illustrated as being against the new tougher steroid policy.

BOSTON (AP) -- Former players' union head Marvin Miller panned baseball's new steroids agreement, saying Thursday that there is not enough evidence of the drugs' dangers to support the new intrusion into the athletes' lives.

"I don't believe it's appropriate to search anybody -- either his home, or his garage, or his trunk, or his bladder or his bloodstream -- without getting a court order showing probable cause," Miller said. "I disapprove of all kinds of testing unless there is probable cause to believe that the person being tested has done something wrong."

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Marvin. You ever hear of Lyle Alzado? You always disapproved of anything that might smack of common-sense limitations on the rights of the proletariat, or that you suspected might weaken your precious union. It doesn't matter that the new agreement was hammered out with full participation of union representatives. The players, you see, are worried about the integrity of the game and the essential unfairness of allowing some players to "pump up" their performance even as it shortens their lives. There is no medical disagreement on the long-term effect of steroid use by athletes. It's a bad thing. Miller, who ought to know better, claims that steroids might affect athletes in football or weightlifting (or bar bouncing?), but not baseball:
"If you tell me it will help the performance of a football linebacker -- maybe. If you tell me it would help a professional wrestler -- maybe. If you tell me it would help a beer hall bouncer -- maybe. If you tell me it will help someone become governor of California -- maybe," he said. "But hitting major league pitching more often and farther? You've got to have more evidence than I've seen."

Hey Marv, take a look at Barry Bonds' "before and after" photos. (I'm sure you can find them.) As a fan of the game, the Oklahomilist is glad you're in retirement.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Remembering Randy

A year ago today Randy VanWarmer lost his battle with leukemia. The Oklahomilist remembers him today with prayers, and maybe a bit later, he'll play a song or two.

It's a little embarrassing to admit that it wasn't until a few days ago that we realized that Randy had died. It's been several years since we talked or visited, but the expectation was that Randy would be there, at the high end of James Longstreet (Blvd., Ave., Drive?), offering a smile, a beer and a listen to new tunes he'd be working on with his songwriting partners in Nashville. It was only an accident that a brief notice of his death was sent to our in-box, and the sadness is as deep as if it had happened today.

Randy became a public figure in 1979 with the release of his single, "Just When I Needed You Most." One of those songs that epitomized the singer/songwriter-drive Seventies. Released on Bearsville Records, and featuring an autoharp solo played by John Sebastian (of Lovin' Spoonful fame), it soared to the top of the charts. Even today millions of aging Baby Boomers will declare that song to be either one of their favorites of all time, or their most despised. (Such is the price of a hit single). Some might consider Randy a one-hit wonder, but only in a most superficial sense. His songwriting career provided dozens of hits for other artists and took him into recording studios and publisher offices where he became friends with some of country and pop music's cream of the crop. Songs like "It Never Hurts to Hurt Sometimes" (Oak Ridge Boys) and "I'm in a Hurry (And Don't Know Why)" (Alabama) kept the revenue stream intact for Randy and his wife, Suzy. Wisely, they kept their lifestyle modest and understated. It didn't hurt that they themselves were modest and unassuming people, a personality combination that fit in well with the songwriting community on Nashville's Music Row.

The Oklahomilist met Randy in Nashville in 1987 thanks to a mutual friend, Bobby, who had played with Randy in Tulsa and in Ojai, CA., , and who was called upon frequently to contribute song ideas, keyboard skills on recordings, and vocal backup. Bobby and I had just polished off our first collaboration, a country tune that we were sure was a hit (but discovered it was merely a door-opener, but a door-opener is no small achievement). Sitting behind the recording console as legendary producer Tom Collins directed Randy through some backing vocals in the old RCA studios where Elvis once worked, a chastened Oklahomilist realized in awe and delight that he had much to learn. I shut my mouth, opened my ears and began taking the mental notes that would change my own studio operations and producing skills back home. The songs on his forthcoming album were incredible -- to this day I do not understand why it was not promoted more heavily. Collins was smart and funny and totally devoted to getting the best product possible. Randy was simply other-worldly. It was the first time I had heard a voice used in such a sublime manner, at least in my presence.

That was my introduction to RVW. Over the next few years I would see him several times a year, usually with Bobby. We'd eat buffalo wings at Pargos in Brentwood. We'd hash over lyrics to his songs, or our songs. We'd watch NFL football and Marx Brothers, discuss politics and religion, and even though I brought absolutely nothing to town in terms of anything Randy needed, he and Suzy were always gracious and hospitable. I learned more from Randy about dropping the silly pretentiousness of my rock n' roll upbringing, and adopting a work ethic more suited to my personality, than from anyone else in my musical life. I don't know if he realized how much of a role model he was for me. It wasn't the kind of thing we talked about. We were too busy cutting tracks in his basement studio on those infrequent visits, or evaluating material that Bobby and I had brought from Tulsa to pitch to various publishers. Randy was a reliable critic and friend. If he didn't like something, he told you and gave reasons. If he did like something, he told you and gave reasons.

Bobby spent considerably more time with him. They toured England and Japan together. (Randy was a big hit in England and was getting to be well known in the Japanese market.) They crafted a couple of albums of rock and country material. (And yes, I allowed myself a small jealous moment once or twice while they were away, but mostly I was just happy for Randy).

Events in my life caused me to abandon the music biz a few years ago. Perhaps there are songs out there that might one day be pulled from a file and "covered" by someone, and if that happens, it'll be fun for awhile. It was necessary for me to focus on those parts of my life that were most important: mainly my family and my faith. I found it difficult to stay in contact with my music friends -- it hurt less to put all of it out of my thoughts. After a couple of years I had no immediate cause to telephone or visit, and I did not wish to intrude my non-musicial persona into Randy's busy life, so I didn't.

Perhaps that was a mistake. While I doubt that Randy's quality of life was diminished by my absence, I know today that I will always regret not having a few more conversations with him. You always think you'll have the time to "catch up" with old friends, later on down the line. But sometimes the clock expires, the final gun sounds and you realize the ball was in your possession as the time was ticking away.

Sorry, Randy. May God grant you the peace of His Kingdom, and a opportunity to add your vocals to the angelic choirs. You were born for that.

March 30, 1955 - January 12, 2004

Privy not Private

Score one for common sense.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A man found partly disrobed with a woman, cocaine and marijuana in the one-person restroom of an Iowa convenience store in an area known for prostitution had no absolute right to privacy, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

An 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel unanimously rejected Lonnie Maurice Hill's claim that police who found him with the woman and drugs breached his Fourth Amendment right to privacy, making the drugs illegally seized and unusable as evidence. Other courts have held that the right of privacy in bathrooms varies case to case, with some judges holding that a stall in a public restroom is not a private place when used for something other than its intended purpose.

The money quote:

The Fourth Amendment protects people and not places," Judge Donald Lay wrote for the three-judge 8th Circuit panel. In Hill's case, "it was not a single person using the single toilet restroom but two persons of opposite gender and, under the circumstances, we hold that they had a diminished expectation of privacy which had expired by the time the officers arrived."

When it comes to restroom privacy, "we have never held that this expectation lasts indefinitely," Lay wrote. The 8th Circuit also cited legal precedent finding that an expectation of privacy in businesses "is different from, and indeed less than, a similar expectation in an individual's home."

Oh, yeah?

Anyone who expects a public restroom to provide any privacy whatsoever is seriously deluded. There are certainly times when we desperately wished for a little more privacy, although not for reasons akin to Mr. Hill's.

No, if there must be a Fourth Amendment finding to be desired, it would be that a man (or a woman) could be left alone in the privacy of his own bathroom, ensconced well within his "castle." Children -- and even spouses -- do not seem to be aware of this essential privacy need. At least at times.