Friday, March 11, 2005

Bush lied, road rage?

Apparently being an angry democrat will land you jail time these days. According to a Florida news report, a man was arrested for trying to run a woman off the road whose SUV sported a BC’04 sticker.

Alan Winkler told police officers he got upset with the woman, 35-year-old Michelle Fernandez, after she made an obscene hand gesture, Durkin said. Fernandez was taking her 10-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter to a ball field in her Ford Expedition Tuesday when the incident occurred.

"Whatever gestures I made, I made them because I was trying to figure out why he was honking at me and pointing at his sign," Fernandez told the St. Petersburg Times.

Police said Winkler had a sign in his Nissan sedan that read, "Never Forget Bush's Illegal War Murdered Thousands in Iraq." "Maybe he has that sign with him so he's prepared any time he comes up against a Republican," Durkin said.

Having had my own BC’04 sticker and even my Dino Rossi sticker tarnished by the likes of those who become compulsively mad at campaign trunk junk, I am more than glad to see that McGruff the Crime Dog put a stop to this one.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Dollar bet of the day

LPG: Has to ask any co-worker in the office when was the last time they French Kissed someone.

MLC: Has to introduce himself to someone in a public restroom and offer that person his business card.

Current score: Even

The sex ed. debate: Who should teach our kids?

Last Friday, the Washington State House passed a bill that enacts a top-down mandate on sex education in local schools.

House Bill 1282 would require school districts to adopt state Department of Health guidelines for comprehensive sex education as well as to teach an abstinence program. If the bills goes through the requisite next steps of Senate passage and a gubernatorial signature, school districts will only have the option to teach state mandated sex curriculum, or no sex education at all. Many local districts opt to teach abstinence-only curriculum.

This bill represents another classic example of big government-knows-better-policy. Now the same sex education courses being taught at Franklin High in inner-city Seattle will be taught at Columbia High in rural Walla Walla. These are two very different locales that may have different views on how sex education should be taught.

This diminishes the role of local school boards in making decisions on how to teach their students. The legislation will also have the unintended consequence of having no sex education courses in many more schools.

Education begins at home – parents should be the foremost educators on matters concerning sex. Yet studies show that the home is usually the last place children learn about sex. Regardless, parents should be involved in decisions concerning how sex is taught in schools. When government at the state level decides the needs of local communities, the effectiveness of the school authority is squelched.

Rep. Shay Schual-Berke (D – Normandy Park), one of the most ostensibly liberal members of the House was none too surprisingly the prime sponsor of this bill. “If we don't give our teenagers the complete and accurate information they need,” she argued, “then why would we expect them to make the best decisions available to them?”

This is true. It behooves us to have the “bird and the bees” talk with our students. But it is the voice of Olympia the best way to give them this information?

Both Schual-Berke and the Health Department have touted that the new curriculum is modest and informative and most districts should agree with it already. If that is the case, then why does the state feel the need to demand they use only their ideas? A better alternative would have been to write the curriculum and present it to school districts as a teaching option. This would be effective for the schools that don’t want to devise their own sex ed classes.

Ironically, democrats whose campaigns are bought by teacher’s unions and public education activists have only passed legislation that will shoot them in the foot. Democrats have for years argued against allowing the expansion of school vouchers. When the state mandates how curriculum like sex ed (and who knows what else in the future) will be taught, the demand for school vouchers – public monies paying for private school options – will only come back to haunt them.

To say, “you’ll do it our way or you won’t do it at all” is a rather Machiavellian way to educate our children on the risks of pre-marital sex. Eliminating the role of the parent in how their child is educated further exudes an elitism that will leave many local districts opting out of teaching sex curriculum altogether. If the legislature were serious about making quality education decisions for our students, then it would allow such decisions to be made locally.

To my friend, the serial killer

So I have this daily book that I follow religiously. Each day it gives me something that will supposedly change my life. Many of them have in some way or another alterted the world around me. I'll post more of the things I have to do each day as time goes on, but today I want to share one task in particular.

I once had to a letter to a mass I did. I wrote Robert Lee Yate, aka "The Spokane Serial Killer." He was convicted for killing 14+ people. Here's what I wrote:

Mr. Robert Lee Yates, Jr.
AKA “The Spokane Serial Killer”
c/o Washington State Penitentiary
1313 N. 13th
Walla Walla, WA 99362

13 January 2005

Dear Bob,

I have decided to do something that I have never done before. Today I have decided to write a mass murderer. I have never had any correspondence with a convicted serial killer. I suppose it could be perceived as an act of irreverence toward the magnitude of crimes you have committed. However, I look at as a way to lend to you some reading, and to me the chance to say I’ve actually written a serial killer. That’s a story I can tell the rest of my life.

So here it goes: My name is Matt and I live in Olympia, WA. I was going to school in Spokane during your heyday, and was still there when you were caught. That was big news. In a way I was somewhat relieved. No longer did we citizens of Spokane have to dodge dark alleys and lurking corners in fear of being nabbed by the “Spokane Serial Killer” as you were dubbed. Not that we truly lived in that fear. After all, nobody ever thinks it could happen to them.

Alas, now the news media could also cease their relentless reporting on your activities and whereabouts. I don’t think we should glorify those situations any more than they warrant. Heavens, I wonder if those reports gave you any feelings of celebrity. Or do you usually not watch the news because of the bad press you get?

Here’s what I often wonder when it comes to those who mingle in your circles. Did you ever think you would get caught? Usually when one takes such adverse risks it’s because they believe the odds are in their favor. Or maybe you were so wrapped up in your illicit activities that you never considered the idea of being caught or not caught.

You are most certainly what they call on the inside a “lifer” now, aren’t you? (I had a buddy go to prison and he let me in on some of your prison lingo). Now that you have been forced into giving up your occupation of murdering people, have you found a new activity there? If I were given a life sentence to prison, I think I would take of whittling. On second thought, no I wouldn’t. I bet they don’t issue you a Swiss Army Knife® with your prisoner starter kit, do they?

Okay, so what about cards? In the movies those swank prisoners always play cards and they are pretty darn good. Not to mention Texas Hold ‘Em is a popular thing right now. I don’t know if you get cable in there, but Celebrity Poker is a cool program on the Bravo channel. Could you imagine if you ever got out (let’s only pretend) and they let you on Celebrity Poker (because, let’s face it, villain though you are, celebrity is in your title) after you have been mastering Poker all these years? Man, you’d clean up. But you’d have to donate all your winnings to your favorite charities and as a mass murderer, I don’t know if you are required to have any.

Well, that about does it for me. I don’t want to go on too much more – that would be too much for a letter to someone I don’t know beyond the media. If you ever get bored, I suppose you could right me back. However, I would hope you keep any creepy thoughts to yourself. Keep it G-rated, Bob.

Stay out of trouble.



Read their lips: No new ideas

For those of you who didn’t catch Meet the Press Sunday, it featured a debate on the President’s Social Security plan between Sens. Dick Durban (D-IL) and Mitch McConnel (R-KY). You can get the full transcript here.

The Dems are stonewalling the president on his Social Security plan, but they seem unable to derive any thoughts of their own this.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Durbin, if the president took private and personal accounts off the table, would you then sit down and have on the table raising retirement age, raising the cap on payroll taxes, perhaps cutting benefits in out years? Would you be willing to put that on the table?

SEN. DURBIN: If the president takes privatization off, if he makes a commitment to the future of Social Security, we're ready to sit down on a bipartisan basis and put everything on the table.

Here’s Harry Reid’s quote from a news conference in Las Vegas:

SEN. HARRY REID, (D-NV): We're willing to work with the president for the Social Security in the out years when we recognize there are some problems 40, 50 years from now. We're happy to work with the president in that regard, but not until he takes privatization off the table. We are not going to negotiate with ourselves until the president takes privatization off the board, period.

Russert exercises a classic reporteresque style and calls Durbin out on flip-flopping on this issue. However, Russert stopped short of saying the Dems have no ideas other than being exactly opposite of what the president is proposing.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you Dick Durbin in 1998. This is when Bill Clinton was president. This is a press release you issued: "...due to the increasing number of `baby boomers' reaching retirement age, Social Security will be unable to pay out full benefits beginning in 2032, but the sooner Congress gets to avert this crisis the easier and less painful it will be." How could it be a crisis in '98 under Bill Clinton but not a crisis in 2005 under George Bush?

SEN. DURBIN: Well, even then, 2032 is the year that we projected. Now, it's 2042, so it's in stronger position today than it was then. But let me just say, I think we should do something, and I believe most Democrats believe we should, on a bipartisan basis, do something sensible that is dedicated to the long- term survival of Social Security. Privatization accounts, and I think the president now realizes, it, they're non-starters. People in his own party, Chuck Grassley and others are telling him, "Let's get way from that conversation." Last week, did you hear the president when he went up to New York and out to Indiana? Now, he's talking about the safety net of Social Security. He's starting to sound like a Democrat. We understand it's an important safety net. Let's make our first commitment to the long-term solvency and permanency of Social Security.

As a conservative, I don’t expect the Democrats to be for individual retirement accounts; their political philosophy doesn’t permit resourceful solutions. Yet, they haven’t been able to really make any great arguments against it. I would think that if you were use blockade tactics to stifle the president’s agenda, then it might be useful to have the backup plan be your own agenda. This is where the party has become an empty shirt. The Democratic message appears to be a form of denial. Essentially that everything is fine as it is; that a crisis doesn’t exist. Durbin’s remarks are in line with the DNC message:

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe that we currently have a crisis with Social Security?

SEN. DURBIN: I wouldn't use the word crisis. Untouched, Social Security will make every single payment for the next 37 years to every retiree, maybe 47 years. But beyond that, unless the economy grows well and grows us out of the problem, we need to address it. And there are ways to address it in sensible, commonsense approaches today that will play out in 40 or 50 years.

To them, they have 37 years until the problem expires. Congressional Democrats look more like college students writing a mid-term essay the day before it’s due than legitimate policy makers. In the least they should recycle an old Clintonian plan and mend the system as it exists. Clearly this party has lost its ideological framework for sound policy.

I’ll maintain that if we whip enough votes with Congressional Republicans – a much easier task then convincing D’s to do something – then we can pass it out of the House in the least. The Senate might be more of a challenge but having a GOP majority in both Houses makes this pretty attainable.