The Gaylord National Harbor is a pretty big place so just like Last year there are several other events, conventions, even an NFL players event, overlapping either fully or partially with CPAC 2018.

Last year you might remember I conducted a few interviews (and had a memorable intellectual confrontations during DaTechGuy’s midnight court) with such folks. This year since I drove down there was no chance of running into the folks from various conventions in a shuttle, but when I went downstairs to the lobby trolling for interviews I spotted a woman working between the bar and front desk where I held my midnight court events last year and being who I am approached her to see if she was there for CPAC.

She was not, he name is Lea (or Leah, I should have asked but it was near midnight and I was pretty bushed from the long day and drive) and she was here for an event with the National Association of Developmental Education. Her primary focus is math and how to get students entering college up to speed on it if they are behind. This is a pretty worthwhile issue and she consented for an interview

Parents I’d take her advice on the subject of how to keep your kids up to speed in math, it’s one of the most important disciplines they can have as it’s completely grounded in reality and given what we see in colleges and society today, anything that promotes objective reality is to be encouraged.

Funny footnote #1. when my sons and I were checking in and heading to dinner Lea was at that front area she spotted me and pegged me as a math person thanks to the Doctor Who scarf, she was quite right as the quote goes: “Only in mathematics shall we find truth.”

Funny footnote #2 While I was interviewing Lea Indefatigable Kira Innis came by on her way to an event at the private club upstairs, (my interview with Kira from last year is here if you can’t wait). It turns out Lea had sat down with Kira and had a pleasant conversation with her earlier that night.


DaTechGuy at CPAC 2018 The story so far

If you don’t want to wait or my blog posts my youtube channel is here.

Wed Feb. 21st

Voices at (or near) #cpac2018 Lea from National Association of Developmental Educators We talk Students and Math

DaTechGuy at CPAC 2018 The Calm Before the Storm and What I’ll be Asking

Full CPAC 2017 list (for those who feel nostalgic) is here


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Finally might I suggest my book Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer makes an excellent Gift.

by baldilocks

Series originally published in 2014.

Finale; edited. See Part 1 and Part 2.

Why White People Should Care

Many persons believe that the history of black Americans is worthless—a belief which stems from three factors:

1) that much of widely-known African history and the history of Americans who are black consists of victimization: litany of failures, slavery, oppression, colonialism and perceived lack of innovation,

2) that some black Americans use the American history of slavery and oppression to induce white guilt, and

3) that some black Americans use the same as an excuse for personal failure.

But if it is important that we know the history of our country’s founding and the important political, military, religious and social movements which have shaped this nation’s character — this nation’s people — then the well-informed citizen cannot escape this category of that history; to attempt to do so would be to separate black Americans from the rest of our countrymen once again.

Example: Several years back, there was much ado about the hymn Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, colloquially known

The Brothers Johnson. Cite.

since the 1940s as the Negro National Anthem. Many who had not known of the song, its origin, its significance or its informal role among black Americans, misinterpreted it as some sort of repudiation of whiteness and/or of America-as-founded (a notion which has been exacerbated by actual repudiators of whiteness). But the merest bit of investigation into these areas and the deployment of some historical perspective reveal that  John  Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson composed the song as an anthem to God and to a nation which contemporaneously excluded black Americans.

But like any other tool — books and banners, for example — songs can be used for good, neutral, and evil purposes. That fact is separate from the intrinsic good, neutrality or evil of a specified tool, but without necessary information — without history — the truth gets lost and the tool become a bludgeon, and that is what happened to Lift.

At the beginning of former Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s annual State of the City address in 2008 (a prelude to the Democratic National Convention of that year), there was a major brouhaha regard the song when a singer named Rene Marie sang it in place of the Star-Spangled Banner, rather than in the usual order which the song is rendered, after The National Anthem.

At two separate blogs — Hot Air and Breitbart, I provided background on the song. The hosts were cordial and willing to receive new information. The commenters, however, were a different story.  I was attacked by some commenters at both sites, but I didn’t take the ignorance and blatant racial slurs personally from the Breitbart commenters since I rarely comment there.

With the Hot Air commenters, however, the situation was very painful, since I was a regular commenter there and both Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit occasionally featured posts from my blogs.  There were no racial slurs, but being called a liar by people who “know” me was shocking.

The most shocking thing about the two episodes, however, was that so few of the commenters had even heard of the song — a song about which I can’t recall not knowing.

I’ve had a number of years to think about this and I’ve come to this conclusion: most of us — meaning most Americans — like to celebrate the good parts of our country’s history, but we often ignore the parts which might make us uncomfortable or cause us to reach uncomfortable conclusions about other Americans.

And most people don’t want to be guilt-tripped … especially for the actions of others. So it is that much of black American history is ignored by other Americans, especially white ones. But this type of knowledge gap has allowed the originally apolitical song to be used by all manner of political opportunists, all Leftist in nature.

Well, if you are afraid of being guilt-tripped, then I don’t know what to tell you, because anyone with a strong sense of self and strong attachment to truth can refuse inappropriate guilty feelings. And that same devotion to truth should make such people hungry for both the good and uncomplimentary history of a group people who are the most American of Americans.

“What would happen if there was a White History Month?”

This often-deployed rhetorical response to Black History Month always betrays a lack of historical perspective and an ability to be guilt-tripped. (If someone wanted to create a White History Month why should they care what anyone thinks?) I would applaud any individual who actually made an attempt to create such a cultural totem. Why?

Because, my fellow Americans who are white: your history is my history…and mine, yours. Let’s all act like it.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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by baldilocks

Series originally published in 2014.

In the first part, I expressed my ambivalence toward Black History Month; here, I mean to make the case for its necessity.

The Second Mind

A few months back, a person at another blog asked this question:  how has America’s slave history affected present-day black Americans? The answer sits right in front of our eyes, and is so common that it almost never goes noticed: nearly all black Americans who are not recent African immigrants or the progeny of recent African immigrants have European surnames. This phenomenon is a direct result of American slavery.

Upon Emancipation, some former slaves took the last names of their most recent former master; others retained the names of earlier masters; still others appropriated their own surnames, often that of American presidents up to 1865. (This is the reason there are so many black Americans with last names of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and Johnson.)

But the point is that, black Americans were, under pain of punishment, severed from their pre-American histories and our names reflect this severance, the special circumstances of the author notwithstanding.

To quote myself:

Black Americans—specifically, the descendants of American slavery–are the most American of Americans. […] Unlike all other immigrants to America, our ancestors were forcibly cut off from all of the totems of their various West African tribes: names, languages, family structures, belief systems.  These things have buoyed all other ethnic groups—including recent African immigrants—in their sojourn to this country and all of them had the choice to hold onto the elements of their cultures that fit into the American ideal and discard those which were incompatible.  American slaves were granted no such luxury.  Our ancestors were emptied of their identities and re-created in the image of what America had for them.

The Ottoman Empire provided a precedent for this practice and the stripping of the old identity coupled with the prohibition of other forms of indigenous African communication had a similar purpose: to cut off “un-coded” communication between slaves, and, thereby, prevent conspiracies. Moreover, as the Ottoman Empire aspired to create soldiers in its own image, America aspired to create a slave-class in its own image. And the long-term effect of this practice remains embedded in our very identities.

So what is the big deal about not knowing the history of one’s people? I am often shocked to hear  Americans who celebrate the vision and foresight of the American Founders ask that question. We—all Americans—rightly hearken to the ideals on which this country is based in order to get some perspective on the present and as guidance on how to proceed in the future. And we examine this country’s success and failures for the same reasons. And further, many Americans celebrate being descended from Mayflower passengers or from specific American Indian tribes; or from Japan, or Ireland, or…

Black Americans, however, cannot point to an actual ethnic heritage which contributed to the mix that is America, for the reasons specified. And the ad hoc heritage which we are continuously building and fashioning is rooted in slavery–foundationally shaky and something about which many of us are unjustifiably ashamed. And, as a result of that misplaced shame, all too many of us take that shame, turn it outward, and use it as a cudgel in an attempt to shame white Americans. The result: white guilt.

It’s time for that mindset to end and there are two methods of ending it.

First, we need to stop viewing the slavery of our ancestors as a subject of shame. It is what it is and it is more than what it is…it removed us from the influences of idolatry and Islam. That’s how God works and he did something similar with the ancient Israelites.

Secondly, black history needs to shake off the “rah-rah, Team Black” aspect and focus on the truth — good and bad –as much as possible. Something which will be an aid: technological advances in DNA testing. This has served to lift the fog which used to surround American slave ancestry and I predict that those who avail themselves of it will become less focused on the victimology inherent in celebrating the depredations of slavery and more focused on the the good and bad of our American heritage and of our singular African tribal heritage–if desired.

Next part: what’s in it for white people?

To Be Continued…


Between the end of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the 1850s and the Mboya Airlift of 1959, black African immigration to the USA was kept at almost zero.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Carter G. Woodson

by baldilocks

Series originally published in 2014.

Here we are again in February–Black History Month, or whatever the more politically-correct designation is currently. I am of two minds on the observance of it.

But, first, it is necessary to point to the history of Black History Month and to its creator, Carter G. Woodson:

Carter G. Woodson was born in 1875 in New Canton, Virginia. One of the first African Americans [sic] to receive a doctorate from Harvard, Woodson dedicated his career to the field of African-American history and lobbied extensively to establish Black History Month as a nationwide institution. He also wrote many historical works, including the 1933 book The Mis-Education of the Negro. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1950.

(…)

After attending Berea College in Kentucky, Woodson worked for the U.S. government as an education superintendent in the Philippines and undertook more travels before returning to the U.S. Woodson then earned his bachelor’s and master’s from the University of Chicago and went on to receive a doctorate from Harvard University in 1912—becoming the second African American to earn a Ph.D. from the prestigious institution, after W.E.B. Du Bois. After finishing his education, Woodson dedicated himself to the field of African-American history, working to make sure that the subject was taught in schools and studied by scholars. For his efforts, Woodson is often called the “Father of Black History.”

(…)

Woodson lobbied schools and organizations to participate in a special program to encourage the study of African-American history, which began in February 1926 with Negro History Week. The program was later expanded and renamed Black History Month. (Woodson had chosen February for the initial week-long celebration to honor the birth months of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.)

(Some misspellings are corrected and a link to Dr. Woodson’s most well-known work is added. About the emphasized sentence: occasionally, some grievance monger will betray an ironic ignorance of  history by attributing to racism the fact that Black History Month occurs in the shortest month of the year.)

One of the most well-known quotes from Mis-Education applies to everyone, but it has special significance for black Americans.

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.

(Other fascinating Woodson quotes are found here. Had Dr. Woodson been born a century later, his Tweeted quotes would no doubt be received quite unceremoniously by the black leftist Twitter mob.)

This quote is relevant to black persons now more so than in 1933, the year in which Mis-Education was published. Woodson’s thesis was that contemporaneous black Americans were being culturally indoctrinated rather than educated. Was he correct? Yes, and an example of that indoctrination’s aftermath is in order.

One can look to 1933 and note that, at state and local levels, a certain political party advocated and supported legal oppression of black Americans.  In 2014, however, most black Americans are members of that same party. But has that party’s strategy changed? No; only its tactics have been changed.  Earlier tactics were designed to control the physical, economic and political mobility of black Americans; but present-day tactics  (language alert) and shorter-term strategies are designed to control our thinking.

Dr. Woodson posited that teaching Black History to black American students would make them equal to other Americans in their own minds—where it counts—and, thereby, make them better citizens.

It was a great and worthy cause, but like many other, great and worth causes, it has become warped and misshapen.

The First Mind

I used to have a ton of “black books”—fiction, history, philosophy, etc. At some point, however, I sold or gave most away because I needed more room on my bookshelves and, to be honest, the topic became boring–more “rah-rah Team Black!!,” rather than who, what, where, how or why.  Navel-gazing is one of my favorite hobbies, but, at some point, one needs to take the eye off of self.  (When my American dad asked me why I had gotten rid of most of the books, I replied: “I know how to be ‘black,’ Dad; it’s time to read about other things.”)

(I still occasionally read black history items; online, for the most part. One site, Neglected Voices, is a fascinating list of speeches from the first black members of the US Congress, all elected in the aftermath of the Civil War and all Republican. I actually learned quite a few things at that site–always a plus.)

Notice that I didn’t throw the books away. There are many Americans of all persuasions who need wider perspectives in the area of this country’s history, of which black history is an integral part. The problem I have, however, with the over-focus on that history is that it skews individual perspective, feeding pride, victimization and anger. The priming of those three emotions softens the ground for thought control.

In next week’s column, I’ll lay out the details of my second mind.

To be Continued…

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Linus Larrabee: This, this is my home, no wife would ever understand it.
David Larrabee:  Well neither can I You’ve got all the money is the world.
Linus Larrabee:  Well what’s money got to do with it? If making money were all there was to business it hardly be worthwhile going into the office. Money is a byproduct.
David Larrabee:   But what’s the main objective, power?
Linus Larrabee:  Ah, that’s become a dirty word.
David Larrabee:  Well then What’s the urge, you’re going into plastics now, what will that prove?

Sabrina 1954

A while back I was visiting a friend at his employment (he was a golf pro at a country club) when his daughter who was in college at the time, walked in.  I asked her about her major and what she was doing and she answered she was doing economic and already had a part time job at a brokerage, however she said it with some guilt as her classmate derided her job choice, one of the horrible side effects of the current socialist higher education system filled with liberals who decry Western Civilization, Christianity and Capitalism.  Personally I think they were jealous of the money she was already making to pay back student loans, but nevertheless I told her she should be proud of her job, because if she did it well, people who saved money their entire lives would be able to live a comfortable retirement, and if she did it really well people would have money to invest in companies that produce the jobs that feed families.

I must have done a good job explaining it because she immediately lit up and told me that she never thought of that, nobody had ever explained it to her that way before, which means that obviously she had never seen the 1954 movie Sabrina staring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden about a chauffeur’s daughter (Hepburn) who falls in love with the playboy son (Holden) of her father’s employer who doesn’t notice her until she returns from cooking school in Paris just in time to throw a wrench into the plans of his older serious brother (Bogart) who has plans to use his brother upcoming 4th marriage to secure a business deal.

The movie also features both Raymond Bailey and Nancy Culp just under a decade before they would become the comedy team of Mr. Drysdale and Miss Jane on the Beverley Hillbillies, but I digress. Hidden within the 113 minutes about love, life and personal growth is a speech by Bogart’s character Linus Larrabee that perfectly describes what Capitalism is and what it does.  It’s a speech that every college student in America should be required to watch.

For those who don’t have the patience to sit through the full minute here is the key quote.

A new product has been found, something of use to the world, so a new industry moves into an undeveloped area. Factories go up, machines are brought in, a harbor is dug, and you’re in business. It’s purely coincidental of course that people who never saw a dime before suddenly have a dollar, and barefooted kids wear shoes and have their teeth fixed and their faces washed. What’s wrong with the kind of an urge that gives people libraries, hospitals, baseball diamonds and, uh, movies on a Saturday night?

Back in 1954 when this picture was made when the ruins of the 2nd World War were still visible,  25 year olds could remember the great depression, the devastation of flu pandemics, life before electricity, movies, radio, phones and even ravages the Civil War were still in living memory, Americans knew and understood this facts of life explained in this speech and were pleased to gift their children and grandchildren a Pax Americana and a booming building economy to escape these pains.

Alas having been delivered from these horrors the children and grandchildren of those in the west who endured them in the west in general and of America in particular decided they knew better than those who overcame them and instead of embracing the lessons of that generation enrolled in the Kindergarten of Eden where they were taught that peace and prosperity were a birthright and that anything society that didn’t produce their heart’s desire was oppressive and evil.

As Robert Heinlein once wrote:

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

“This is known as ‘bad luck.’”

This “bad luck” is what is affecting the Venezuelan people and it’s origin was the same socialism that the academics teaching our children uniformly cheered when it was implemented and then when this happened…

 As The New York Times reported, “Venezuela was once one of Latin America’s richest countries, flush with oil wealth that attracted immigrants from places as varied as Europe and the Middle East.”

“But after President Hugo Chávez vowed to break the country’s economic elite and redistribute wealth to the poor, the rich and middle class fled to more welcoming countries in droves, creating what demographers describe as Venezuela’s first diaspora.”

Now, in their absence, things have gotten worse, and it’s poorer Venezuelans — the very ones that Chavez’s revolution was allegedly intended to help — who are starving. Many are even taking to boats, echoing, as the Times notes, “an image so symbolic of the perilous journeys to escape Cuba or Haiti — but not oil-rich Venezuela.” 

Well, Venezuela was once rich. But mismanagement and kleptocracy can make any country poor and Venezuela — as is typical with countries whose leaders promise to soak the rich for the benefit of the poor — has had plenty of both. And now, though Hugo Chavez’s family has grown fabulously wealthy, the poor have nothing.

…denied that it was actual socialism.

This is what half of our society has forgotten to our determent as a whole.

Update:  In comments Stephen hands notes ” most rich men are not selfless, celibate vocationers like Bogie’s character but covetous idolaters and warmongers”, however I note that the jobs and economic prospects created by industry are the same regardless of the virtue or lack thereof of the person advancing them.  Of course Milton Friedman said it much better.


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Finally might I suggest my book  Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer makes an excellent Gift.

I’m pretty busy today working on the Trump Year one Lunch and Panel event in Leominster MA at noon today (you can still buy tickets here or at the door for $20 which includes an all you can eat buffet) so I don’t have a lot of time for a long piece on shutdowns, Tom Brady or even POTUS’ appearance at the March for Life.

Nevertheless I would like to take a few minutes before I get out of bed and have to be on overdrive for the next 12 hours to note that as President Trumps 2nd year begins and as everyone in media and government who predicted doom for Trump in both 2016 & 2017 continues to do so for him and the GOP in 2018 things continue to happen that favor the president.

ITEM: UNRWA funding cut in half, Terror supporters hardest hit.

As the leader of the Palestinian authority continues on anti-semitic rants (and is defended by the Sorus funded so called “Jewish” advocacy group J-Street as he does ) the US has decided to answer is the best way possible to show the old game of of pay and look the other way is done:

“There is a need to undertake a fundamental re-examination of UNRWA, both in the way it operates and the way it is funded,” the official said.

The US had frozen a $125 million grant to UNRWA earlier this month, amounting to one third of the US annual aid to the organization. Part of the grant was unfrozen Tuesday.

The move follows tweets by US President Donald Trump in which he questioned the wisdom of providing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority given their refusal to resume peace talks with Israel.

This is an amazing development.  Why it’s as if someone actually read the 1951 report back when UNRWA wasn’t a full employment scheme for cronies in and out of the middle east and and decided that ignoring this advice might not have been the best idea the US ever had.

Nobody but Trump would have dared do this.

ITEM: Common Core dies a Quiet Death.

Common Core has been a Tea Party issue since day one. GOP members have given lip service to reigning it in for years with little effect. On the Campaign Trail Donald Trump hit it hard but we heard little about it after he was elected but American Conservative has the transcript of Secretary Devos’ speech on the subject noting the failure of national standards both during the Bush years

President Bush, the “compassionate conservative,” and Senator Kennedy, the “liberal lion,” both worked together on the law. It said that schools had to meet ambitious goals… or else. Lawmakers mandated that 100 percent of students attain proficiency by 2014. This approach would keep schools accountable and ultimately graduate more and better-educated students, they believed.

Turns out, it didn’t. Indeed, as has been detailed today, NCLB did little to spark higher scores. Universal proficiency, touted at the law’s passage, was not achieved. As states and districts scrambled to avoid the law’s sanctions and maintain their federal funding, some resorted to focusing specifically on math and reading at the expense of other subjects. Others simply inflated scores or lowered standards.

And  Obama years

The Obama administration dangled billions of dollars through the “Race to the Top” competition, and the grant-making process not so subtly encouraged states to adopt the Common Core State Standards. With a price tag of nearly four and a half billion dollars, it was billed as the “largest-ever federal investment in school reform.” Later, the Department would give states a waiver from NCLB’s requirements so long as they adopted the Obama administration’s preferred policies — essentially making law while Congress negotiated the reauthorization of ESEA.

Unsurprisingly, nearly every state accepted Common Core standards and applied for hundreds of millions of dollars in “Race to the Top” funds. But despite this change, the United States’ PISA performance did not improve in reading and science, and it dropped in math from 2012 to 2015.

But the Donald Trump administration has had enough:

The trend line remains troubling today. According to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress data, two-thirds of American fourth graders still can’t read at the level they should. And since 2013, our 8th grade reading scores have declined.

At HotAir Jazz Shaw notes the speech both for what it critiques and what it suggests as alternatives, namely allowing teaches to TEACH and comments thus:

Wouldn’t it be ironic if we actually made some significant strides forward in fixing our largely broken education system during this term, but had it sneak through under the radar while everyone else was busy screaming at each other about whether or not the President’s cholesterol level is too high? This was one of the better speeches on education that’s been given in a long time. The question is how much DeVos will be able to hammer through without politics poisoning the entire process.

But in the meantime, as far as Common Core goes… it’s dead, Jim.

I’m thinking more and more that it’s less a question of irony of these thing happening under the radar than by designed but no matter how it happens chalk this up to another campaign promise kept and another conservative priority handled.

Item:  More “crumbs” for the workers

Lost among the debate on if the President’s Doctor is a hack or not or the critical issue of if back when he was just a Billionaire Businessman he bedded a porn star, it seems that Apple had decided that to bring a ton of that money they had parked overseas back home.

Apple “anticipates repatriation tax payments of approximately $38 billion as required by recent changes to the tax law. A payment of that size would likely be the largest of its kind ever made,” the company said.
Using the new 15.5 percent repatriation tax rate, the $38 billion tax payment disclosed by Apple means they are planning a $245 billion repatriation.

and it looks like their existing employees are getting a cut of this too:

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is giving many employees a bonus of $2,500 worth of restricted stock units, rounding out a series of investment announcements made on Wednesday.

The iPhone maker will start to issue stock grants to most employees worldwide in the next few months, Bloomberg reported, citing sources close to the situation. Earlier on Wednesday, Apple said it would inject $350 billion into the U.S. economy over the next five years, as a result of the tax cut signed by President Donald Trump, to fund a new campus, data centers and 20,000 new jobs. Apple will also pay a $38 billion repatriation tax, bringing roughly $252 billion in cash back to the U.S.

Representatives from Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We estimate about 100,000 employees will benefit, which implies a $250m liability that will vest likely in 2 years,” said Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster.

I wonder if Nancy Pelosi will call this crumbs too Sarah Sanders sure thinks so.

Donald Trump reportedly isn’t all that popular in the tech left but I’ll wager the prospect of further bonus’ of this nature is and I suspect that this will be remembered come election day in 2018.

Combine all of these successes and more that I don’t have time to mention now with a Trump boom and the left shutting down government for the sake of illegal aliens and I think the trendlines for 2018 will continue to move in their new direction.


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Get your Tickets today!

You can still buy tickets for our President Trump a Year in Review and Looking Ahead event Jan 20th 2018 at the Tang Dynasty Restaurant in Leominster Ma. Click on the image to the left to get tickets via eventbrite.The event co-sponsored by the Worcester Tea Party comes with an All you can eat Chinese buffet served till 2:30 (drinks are on you) and will include an all star panel (moderated by DaTechGuy) including

Chip Faulkner of Citizens for Limited Taxiation
Dianna Ploss from the Boston Chapter of Act for America
Christopher Maider from the Meat and Potatoes Radio show
Mike LaChance from the Legal Insurrection blog

Tickets are available at the door or you can get them here.  Come on down and join us for a great meal and a great discussion.

Every time Detroit seems ready to lift itself out of the mire it’s been wallowing in for the past half century, it sinks back into the ooze. The latest case of swampiness as usual in Motown came on Jan. 9, when the Detroit school board adopted a new policy that bans the naming of school facilities for living people.

No, the move wasn’t a reaction against erstwhile Congressman-for-life John Conyers, the octogenarian veteran of 52 years in the House who “retired” in December after he was accused of sexually harassing female staffers. Past school boards somehow never got around to naming a building after him. In any case, Conyers’ predicament certainly wouldn’t have forced such a change.

Instead, the target of the policy is that devious, divisive and deranged Detroit native … Ben Carson. Yeah, that guy — the respected neurosurgeon who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and now serves as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

The Dr. Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine opened in 2011 with a good bit of fanfare. It’s not often that a Detroiter who grew up in poverty with a single mom goes on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Yale and a medical degree at the University of Michigan. He then went on John Hopkins University School of Medicine’s  neurosurgery program and an extremely successful career as a practitioner.

The school’s website proclaims: “As a pediatric neurosurgeon formerly on the staff of Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Carson was honored with the 2008 Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions. The school aims to honor the contributions Dr. Carson has made not only to the global medical community, but also as a role model for Detroit students with aspirations and interests in science and medical fields.”

But that’s not good enough for school board member LaMar Lemmons, who pushed the name-change policy. While the board’s resolution didn’t mention Carson, Lemmons was clear that it targeted the HUD secretary. To its credit, the board wasn’t totally sold on the idea; the motion squeezed through on a 4-3 vote.

He said his main reason for sponsoring the policy change is that the school was named when a state-appointed administrator had total control over the school district because its finances were in shambles. But he was clear that Carson’s political beliefs played a big part in the move.

“He is a so-called conservative Republican,” Lemmons told the Detroit News. “A strict constructionist is one that wants to take the Constitution literally. If one takes that as a stance, it would allow the enslavement of those of African descent. When you align yourself with (President) Trump that is a direct affront to the city of Detroit and the students of Detroit.”

Perhaps someone should tell Lemmons that Carson – like the vast majority of Americans – undoubtedly supports the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery.

While last week’s resolution didn’t mention Carson, Lemmons vowed to bring up changing the school’s name at the board’s Feb. 13 meeting.

What’s galling is that another Detroit school, the Bates Academy, really could use a name change. The academy, a magnet school for talented and gifted children, is named after Alonzo Bates, a longtime school board member who became notorious for using racially divisive language.

Bates won election to the Detroit City Council in 2001, but his tenure didn’t last too long. He was indicted for several offenses in 2005 and was convicted in federal court on four of five felony counts a year later. He was found guilty of placing four “phantom” employees on the city payroll: his brother-in-law, the daughter of his girlfriend, the mother of one of his children and a handyman who did work at Bates’ home. Before the trial, he pleaded guilty to not filing federal income tax returns for four years. He ultimately was sentenced to 33 months in prison.

Other school board members didn’t tell the Detroit News if they would support a Lemmons resolution to remove Carson’s name from the school. But it will be interesting to see if they go along with the move without changing the name of Bates Academy.

I won’t be surprised if the board takes off the name of the respected neurosurgeon while leaving the name of the felon alone. It’s the Detroit Way, something I’ve seen far too often in the past 50 years.

A conservative student gave me a Christmas gift I relish. The individual wrote in the course evaluation that I was one of the few teachers who allowed conservative opinions in my classes.

“Professor Harper is a breath of fresh air in the God-forsaken, liberal, biased school. Unlike almost every other professor, he didn’t push his political beliefs or personal preferences on anyone. And he didn’t make me feel less respected or validated when my opinion differed from the majority, and I expressed my conservative beliefs. He is highly intelligent and well-informed when it comes to politics and the true agenda of the media and the leftist state,” the student wrote in this semester’s evaluations.
I teach at an extremely liberal university in an extremely liberal city with an extremely liberal faculty and student body. Conservative students are often tossed to the wolves in classrooms either by the professor or fellow students.

I taught two sections of Journalism and the Law. The class can be a tough trick. The course is required for graduation, and most students admit they expect the class to be boring when I pose the question at the beginning of the semester. Moreover, the class tackles some tough issues, such as hate speech.

During the semester, I take the students through a document few people really understand: the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Without imposing my political views, I point out some important truths:

–Unpopular speech, like hate speech, is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

–Journalists have roughly the same rights as all U.S. citizens. Freedom of speech appears before freedom of the press.

–The First Amendment isn’t the most important one. In fact, the amendment was actually the third in the original draft of the Bill of Rights. The first two were defeated during the ratification process. Therefore, the right of freedom of the press shouldn’t make journalists feel so special.

–The First Amendment, however, should make journalists feel grateful.

–Privacy isn’t mentioned in the U.S. Constitution but should receive as much, if not more, protection than freedom of the speech.

–Ethics and the law are not the same. What may be ethical may not be legal; what is legal may not be ethical.

–Anonymous sources must be chosen carefully and infrequently. The U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t provide much protection for journalists if they decided to use such sources. Journalists must testify before grand juries about anonymous sources and must pay damages to sources if reporters break the agreement for confidentiality.

By the time the class is over, the students are generally grateful for the course in how to work as a journalist under the law. More important, the students have a greater understanding about the rights they have as a citizen and how precious those rights are.

The student evaluations do provide some constructive criticism when I go over the top. During the class, I rant about the amount of government intervention especially the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is one of the most powerful government bodies, which regulates broadcasting, satellite transmission, wireless telephones, and myriad aspects of our daily lives.

Moreover, the FCC is one of the few government entities that has the powers of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches all rolled into one. To me, the agency is what’s wrong with government.

One student called me out in the evaluations: “Maybe a small amount less of his opinions on government restrictions.”

 

 

 

Daniel Webster School, a CPS school on the West Side

By John Ruberry

On Friday a friend of this very blogger forwarded a Chicago Tribune Breaking News Alert to me: Chicago Public Schools enrollment drops by nearly 10,000 students. And the year before CPS enrollment slid by 11,000.

There are 371,382 students taking classes in CPS schools  In 2002 there 438,589 kids running the halls, with some of them learning something.

So, taxes for schools will go down, right?

Not in the Prairie State, the home of “Illinois Math,” where two plus two equals five.

For a while, that is.

CPS is expected to raise property taxes soon–a state bill that will likely pass to pass gives them that power–by $120 million to pay for, wait for it, teacher pensions. That’s on top of $100 million in a tax jump already sanctioned

“Building a New Chicago” at Dunne School on the South Side, where your blogger attended kindergarten

The sad tale of the Chicago Teachers Pensions Fund [CTPF] goes back to 1981 when the Chicago Board of Education agreed to pick up most of the teachers’ obligation to pay into their pension plans. Out of sight–out of mind. Yes, Chicago Teachers Union, I’m looking at you! In 1995 a lost weekend of retirement funding began–it lasted ten years–and all of that money that was supposed to go to pensions instead went towards teacher salaries and nuts-and-bolts school expenses. Oh, don’t forget to throw in a calorie-loaded Chicago-style pizza buffet line of cronyism, giveaways, and malfeasance into this toxic dish.

Illinois still hasn’t completely recovered from the Great Recession–government corruption and incompetence, in my opinion, are the sole reasons for that–so naturally a partial CTPF “pension holiday” was declared from 2011-13 and the can was kicked down the potholed road again.

Chicago Public Schools bonds are rated as junk.

Two years ago Chicago property owners had to swallow the largest property tax hike in the city’s history to help shore up police and firefighter pension funds, which are even more underfunded than the teachers’ pensions. And last week Chicago’s embattled mayor, Rahm Emanuel, released his 2018 budget proposal, which of course includes tax increases. When asked if more tax hikes were coming, Emanuel dodged the question.

Chicago is the only large American city with a shrinking population.

As bad as Chicago’s financial situation is, the reality is probably far worse because Illinois Math is very likely disguising the wretched truth.

Decline and fall.

Blogger in downtown Chicago

Here is some more Illinois Math for you: The free-market Illinois Policy Institute says, “There are now more inactive employees and beneficiaries in CTPF than there are active workers paying into the pension fund.”

Someday there will be a new Illinois Math equation. Two plus two won’t equal five–it will equal just one.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Let’s talk Common Core one more time.  I don’t know why this is still an issue, why this is still a thing, why it still exists, but it does.

Many states have renamed it, but no matter what name you give it, it’s still Common Core, and it’s rotten.

Besides the constant barrage of standardized tests (in many cases at least once a month), students are also forced to endure a scripted curriculum, mind-numbing pre-prepared slides, and endless waves of graphic organizers, Cornell notes, and pages of non-fiction to endlessly annotate, day after day after day.

Do parents really know this is still going on?  Do parents approve of this?  Do parents consent to having their kids put under the pressure of fifteen standardized tests per semester (not counting the endless Cold Read Tasks, Extension Tasks, and other actual classroom tests)?

This massive over reach into America’s classrooms has robbed teachers of any innovation and creativity in the classroom.  After years of Kagan strategies and Harry Wong strategies, now teachers are told that all kids learn the same, by the script, by the worksheet.

College professor, and former middle school teacher, John Spenser is an advocate for innovation in the classroom.  He writes:

Now, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with boxed curriculum. After all, a great novel is essentially “boxed.” The issue is when institutions force teachers to use boxed curriculum in a lock-step way where they lack the permission to make it their own.

This district adopted the prescribed curriculum as a way to embrace “best practices in education.” And yet . . . the district also describes the needs to meet the demands of a “21st Century Learning” and “spark innovation.”

But here’s the thing: innovation requires you to step into the unknown. If we focus all of our attention on best practices and codify these ideas into tightly packaged curriculum, we will inevitably fail to experiment.

When teachers are required to use these scripted programs with fidelity, by the letter, all creativity is gone.

Kids are reading very little fiction these days and there’s a much heavier focus on non-fiction.  In fact, in some districts the curriculum might include a novel, but only certain chapters.  Novels are now called “Anchor Texts” and students read articles, or “informational texts” about the novel, and perhaps will read the Prologue and a couple of chapters of the novel.

This is absurd. When teachers are required to use these scripted programs with fidelity, by the letter, all creativity is gone.

Teachers quit loving their job, they lose their passion, because really a robot could read a script and pass out a worksheet.

This is what’s going on in many classrooms across America.

Some districts, thank goodness, have rebelled and refused to participate in this indoctrination nonsense.  Some districts still believe that the teacher is the one who knows what the student needs because the teacher knows the student.

See, kids aren’t data.  Kids aren’t test scores.  They aren’t numbers.  They’re kids.  And it’s time school districts start remembering that.

Years of school letter grades and skewed teacher accountability programs have distracted us from the real goal – teaching kids not just how to take a test but how to be productive, compassionate, educated citizens.

Parents need to be involved and ask questions.  Meet the teachers who spend most of the day with your kids.  How often are your kids being tested?  What’s the curriculum look like?

This needs to change and teachers need to reclaim their autonomy.  We’re raising a generation of kids now who can annotate the heck out of an article on microbes but can’t tell you who Atticus Finch is or why he is important.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.