Monday, August 30, 2010


Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial attracted huge crowds, with estimates up to 300,000+.  The pictures are quite impressive.  The rally was to benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a great organization that helps the families of fallen special forces with scholarships and counselling, as well as financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel. 

The weeks running up to the event were filled with hysteria on the part of the neo-pravda media and particularly race-baiting huckster Al Sharpton, who had his own rally, "Reclaim the Dream" on the same day.  He seems to feel that Beck was attempting to usurp MLK and the "I have a Dream" speech.  This was not Beck's intent, as the actual event proves quite clearly.  They acknowledged the importance of the day, and some spoke about MLK's speech and it's importance to the country, but ultimately the day was about loving and honoring our country and the troops who fight and die for us.  According to some, Beck seemed to be stepping into Billy Graham's shoes, not Martin Luther King, Jr's. 

The day seems to have utterly flummoxed the press.  They simply don't know what to make of it.  For weeks they have been lambasting Beck for his presumptions, his nerve in stepping all over MLK's dream and, of course, highlighting Sarah Palin's participation in an attempt to illustrate how ultra political and fringe-y the whole thing is.  Apparently her mere presence made it a political event (what office is she running for, again?). 

Because they could not attack the politics of the event (mainly because there wasn't any), they had to resort to their trusty favorite fall back position and point out the "predominantly/overwhelmingly white" audience.  Interesting how none of them mention Sharpton's predominantly black audience for his rally.   But that point isn't relevant or important.  To hear the MSM report it, there wasn't a single minority face in Beck's entire rally, and besides, the few that were there were obviously confused/misled.

Today, the New York Times' Ross Douthat wrote an op-ed piece on Beck's rally titled "Mr. Beck Goes to Washington".  This article is about as close to a grudging, backhanded compliment as a thing can be: 

For a weekend, at least, Beck proved that he can conjure the thrill of a culture war without the costs of combat, and the solidarity of identity politics without any actual politics. If his influence outlasts the current election cycle, this will be the secret of his success.

The article was as fair a representation as one could hope for from the Times.  No snarky comments (even though Sarah Palin was mentioned - a minor miracle in and of itself), and no mention of the overwhelming whiteness of the crowd that others are so fixated on.  There was, however one paragraph that was a bit objectionable:

Similarly, one could call the rally a gross affront to the memory of King, who presumably wouldn’t have cared much for Beck’s right-wing politics. But one could also call the day a strange, unlooked-for fulfillment of King’s prophecies: 47 years after the “I Have a Dream” speech, here were tens of thousands of white conservatives roaring their approval of its author.

A "gross affront"?  According to his niece, Alveda King, who spoke at the rally, Dr. King was a republican.  Beyond that, as a reverend, he was a christian - a conservative christian - and as such, one would think that he might just embrace Beck's right-wing politics.  One would also think that the good reverend would be happy that a huge crowd of "predominantly/overwhelmingly white" Americans who had gathered to celebrate this great country and restore the judeo-christian ethics at her heart would hail him as a hero and great American, whose teachings should be a guiding light for all Americans.  What is so "strange" and "unlooked-for" about that? Isn't that what the dream was really about - the content of character, not the color of skin?   One might wonder, however, at his thoughts on Sharpton's rally and march.  Ms. King believes her uncle would have enjoyed Beck's rally (which is prompting critics to say she is "besmirching" his legacy), viewing it as an extension of his vision because it (via the Daily Caller):
“demonstrates the spirit of love and unity and peace.”

According to singer Lloyd Marcus:

“If Dr. King were alive today, he’d feel as if he stepped into the twilight zone,” Marcus said. “He’d feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, what happened to my dream? And, are you telling me that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and the likes of those guys now are running the civil rights movement? Oh, good Lord! What happened?’ He would be totally appalled.”

Sharpton has been at his race-baiting best.  In his speech Saturday he said:
"They may have the Mall, but we have the message.  They may have the platform, but we have the dream....
They want to disgrace this day, and we not giving them this day.  This is OUR day and we ain't giving it away."

Which is more disgraceful - Sharpton's pitting the black community against the white in a shameless attempt to relive his glory days marching arm in arm through Washington while laying claim to a man simply based on his race - a man whose whole message was about surpassing identity politics - or a peaceful rally to honor not just Dr. King, but also the country he loved?  Dr. King looked to the future - a future where race didn't matter.  Rev. Sharpton's entire purpose in life seems to be a quest to highlight racial division and keep the country believing we have not moved past 1963.  Unfortunately for him, race has nothing to do with it and his hystrionics merely illustrate how obsolete and out of touch he is.

This event was a defining moment in our history.  There were many people who felt a vague discontent under the milder progressivism of Bush and Clinton, which became more pronounced when Barack Obama took office and embarked upon his quest to "fundamentally transform" America.  It is this transformation that has people up in arms, and no matter who is driving the car, it is the inevitable transformative crash that is feared.  This is not about race.  This is a choice between wanting to restore this country to the judeo-christian ethics and values and dynamic free market system our founders put in place or fundamentally transforming it into an offshoot of the European Union, to freeze in time and slowly disintegrate into obscurity. 

Sharpton and the media do not want to have that conversation and bring that choice to the fore, because they know they will lose.  And so they bring the debate down to a level that they can get the upper hand on.  Relevancy seems optional, at this point.
One final thought - isn't it amazing how those who have been squawking about tolerance for weeks now when it comes to the ground zero mosque are suddenly showing just how intolerant they really are?  When it comes to Beck having a rally to stoke the fires of patriotism and love of God and country, suddenly the left is all about shutting him down and stifling his first amendment right to free speech.  The intolerance over Beck's event has been overwhelming, from blatantly, transparently fraudulent and yet completely expected  accusations of racism to outrage at his "usurping" MLK and his messsage of unity. 

No hypocrisy here, move along, move along. 

Cross Posted at the Ripley Report


Monday, August 16, 2010


Last week, congress passed the "EduJobs" bill.  This bill is ostensibly to help save teacher's jobs in states with budget deficits.  In reality, many of the states that are to receive this "aid" don't need it, and it seems that the unions are the real beneficiaries, with $36 million going to the National Educators Association and an additional $14 million going to the American Federation of Teachers.  Let's not forget that unions are some of the biggest contributors for democrat campaigns, with teachers unions at the top of the list.

The bigger question is how this $26 billion piece of legislation is going to be paid for?  Why, by appropriating from other programs, of course.  Let's remember before we discuss where funding is coming from, that this bill was sold as helping teachers and children.  The teachers unions love to invoke the children, and yet most of their demands help no one but themselves and their members.  The unions wanted the $26 billion to be counted as "emergency spending", but the democrats were afraid to give republicans more ammunition with yet another unfunded spending bill.  Instead they decided to abide by their oft ignored PayGo legislation and raid a few piggy banks - at some point in the future.  So where is the funding coming from (via Education Report):

Education Week reported that the bill takes $50 million from the Striving Readers adolescent literacy program, $10 million from the Ready to Teach program that pays for teacher telecommunications programs and $82 million from student financial aid administration. The bill would not take money from the "Race to the Top" fund, as earlier proposed, according to Education Week.

Some of the funding will also be coming from the charter school system - a system the teachers unions oppose - because most charter schools, like private schools, are not unionized.  This is also why unions (and democrats) oppose school choice - most parents would chose a private or charter school over a public one, and most of them are union free.  How very convenient for the unions that they are getting increased funding by stealing appropriating funding from the charter schools.  No doubt that was a happy coincidence.

The remainder of the funding will be coming out of the food stamp program, to the tune of about $12 billion...but not until 2014.  Why take the blame this year when you can pile it on another congress a few years later?  Kicking the can down the road - congress' favorite sport.

Congress seems to think the food stamp program is the newest cash cow, because they are now proposing to dip into the kitty yet again to fund Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign.  Perhaps it's because there was little outcry from the public over the funding of the edujobs bill, perhaps because there's just no where else to get it from (hey, how about what's left of the non-stimulating stimulus?), but either way, the food stamp program seems to be the congressional pot of gold du jour.

Taking money from the food stamp program to fund Mrs. O's "Let's Move!" program makes sense, though - the easiest way to crack down on obesity, particularly in the poorer neighborhoods where it seems to be reaching epidemic proportions, is by taking away the means to buy food in the first place.  There is a great deal of irony in taking food out of kids mouths in the name of education - aren't we told that good nutrition is essential to good education?  Let's not forget, too, the war on cheap convenience food (led by Michelle Obama) - so they are taking away cheaper alternatives, thus forcing poor parents to pay more for food, while at the same time reducing the amount of assistance they receive to buy food. 

Progressive humanitarianism - it's a frightening thing.

What is most galling about these programs and the way they are being funded is the moral superiority their backers are displaying.  The teacher's unions and supporters of Let's Move! are crying that these programs are necessary for the good of the kids.  No, they are for the good of the unions and progressive social engineering.  It is appalling that these groups are using children as human shields to further their agendas - agendas that seem to be more harmful than beneficial in the long run.  Unless, of course, your idea of beneficial doesn't include a decent education and food on the table. 

As for the fruits of the liberal tree of knowledge, things are looking pretty grim.  Better not be too vocal about questioning their success, though.


Thursday, August 12, 2010


Our trip to Philadelphia was a fun one.  We went to the Franklin Institute (a favorite of mine from when I was a child) and the National Constitution Center.  We also saw Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, as well as the Reading Market and Pat's (King of Steaks!)  for a cheesesteak. 

The Constitution Center was great:

The kids were sure they were going to be bored, but they had a good time in spite of themselves!  There are lots of interactive displays, and it goes through the Constitution from it's founding to the current day.  And by current day, I mean they had new displays up questioning the constitutionality of a) the goverment directing cleanup of the Gulf oil spill, b) same-sex marriage and c) the Arizona Immigration law.  There are post-it notes at nearby stations, and visitors are encouraged to vote yes or no and stick their post-it on the issue:

Founder's Hall was fun.  The hall is filled with life-sized statues of the Founders, and many are in the poses of the iconic painting "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States".  Visitors are encouraged to join the signers by signing a large visitors book and pose for pictures with the various Founders:

The whole experience starts with a live-action multi-media presentation on the period just after the Revolutionary War, when the individual states were governing themselves and the union was close to splintering apart. The presentation discusses the founding; the men who started us off on the greatest political experiment in man's history, and the document they created.  The exhibit hall is round, and after the presentation, visitors are directed to begin their tour through the center at the beginning and work their way around to the present day.  The exhibit startes in 1787 with a display of books that influenced our founders and winds through the 234 years of our history.  There are artifacts from each of our presidents, and information on how their policies affected both the Constitution and We, the People.  

Patriotic geek that I am, I highly recommend the Center if you find yourself in Philly.  They have created a mall-like complex, with the Constitution Center at one end and Independence Hall at the other, with the Liberty Bell and the excavation of the President's House in the middle. 

Make sure to check out the Franklin Institute, too, especially if you have kids.  Even my teenager had fun.  Check out the planetarium shows, be sure to stop by the rooftop observatory to take a peek at the sun and don't forget to tackle the walk-through heart!

"Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn."  - Ben Franklin


Monday, August 2, 2010


   I am currently on vacation in the beautiful Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. It had been a very stressful late spring/early summer, as my sister has been dealing with a fairly major health crisis over the past couple of months. We decided to come up to visit as soon as she was up for vistors. It's gorgeous up here, and my kids have been overwhelmed by the mountains, which they have never seen before, and their cousins (whom they have also never seen before), of which there are seven. It has been a wonderful week, full of much-needed laughter, and we will be heading down to Philadelphia in the next few days to take in the sights and visit with other family. I'm looking forward to visiting the Constitution Center, as well as the old city and possibly even a day trip to New York if we have time.

My sister lives in a lovely little town nestled in the gently rolling, ancient Poconos, in a house that was built in the late 1800's. The people here are what our president would call gun-toting bible-clingers. Real salt of the earth people, many of whom are farmers. As we were driving along one of the curving, undulating main roads one day, I saw a sign by the side of the road that led me to believe that Mr. Obama's policies aren't well liked here:

It was most unexpected. The sign belongs to a local farmer, who is obviously unhappy with the way Obama and Co. are handling things. Needless to say, I feel quite at home up here!

Cross Posted at The Ripley Report


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