The right to decide for ourselves is a greatly endangered right

There is nothing more American than the right of each and every individual to decide for themselves, no matter how big or small the decision.  That right is at the core of one of our most important God-given Natural Rights. That right is liberty, which is the freedom of every individual to do as they wish as long as they do not hurt others or interfere with the right of others

All levels of government in this country were originally created to protect the right of every individual to decide for themselves since all levels of government were created to protect the liberty of every individual

The freedom of an individual to decide includes the right to make decisions that are bad, or even harmful, to the individual doing deciding.  Smoking or drinking to excess are perfect examples of this.  No one has the right to drive drunk since it is potentially very dangerous to other individuals.  Abortion is most definitely harmful to the unborn child therefore no one has a right to an abortion. 

It has not been proved scientifically or medically that individuals not wearing masks in public, whether indoors or outdoors, are at all harmful to other individuals.  Check out this American Thinker article.  Individuals have every right to decide for themselves whether or not they will wear masks.  Mask mandates violate the liberty of every individual forced to wear them.

Going to church, going for a walk outdoors, going shopping, eating at a restaurant, going to work, exercising in a gym, or the vast majority of ordinary activities has never been proved to be harmful to other individuals during this Coronavirus pandemic.  State and local governments have robed the individuals living in those communities the right to decide for themselves whether or not they will engage in these activities.

Every individual has the exclusive right to make medical decisions for themselves.  Period. End of story.  It is absolutely wrong for any level of government, government agency, school system, private employer, public employer, or retail establishment to force individuals to get a vaccine through any form of mandate,

The federal government has gotten very good an prohibiting individuals from making the decision to purchase items such as incandescent light bulbs, cars with bad gas mileage, and so much more.  All levels of government have made it extremely difficult for individuals to smoke.  I have never smoked anything in my life.  I do respect the right of every individual to smoke if they choose to.

Facebook and other social media outlets have taken away your right to decide what you want to say because of outrageous censorhip.  Any form of censorship, no matter how small or who is doing it, is always wrong.  The same social media outlets have taken away your right to get news and information from whatever source you chose because of their censorship.

The vast army of adherents to political correctness have taken away the right to decide what individuals say, write, read, and listen to through their mob like behavior and blatant censorship.

The only way we get our right to decide for ourselves back is we stand up for that most precious right  Sadly far too few individuals are doing that.  Far too often I feel like I am the only one.

Report from Louisiana: My last four days of working for a living!

If you Google “What to do when I retire,” you’ll get lots of lists that include things like teach, garden, visit family, spend time with friends, mentor, buy a motorhome, and join a fitness group.

Excuse me, but I’m retiring, not moving into an assisted living facility.

My list looks a little different.

When my retirement from the classroom begins next week, literally the first thing I’m going to do is drive three hours to south Louisiana and sit in an historically restored Cajun cottage along Bayou Teche. My husband and I go there five times a year and it is our home away from home. I’m going to walk across the street to the grocery store, buy some fancy cheeses, some fresh veggies, and I’m going to spend seven days decompressing and uncoiling from twenty-five years of teaching tenth grade English.

More immediate things on my list include cleaning out closets, drawers, cabinets, and eliminating a whole lot of clutter. Get rid of those work clothes! Why do I have six Pyrex casserole dishes? Do I really need this antique waffle iron with the fraying cord? Those size three jeans in my closet? Yeah, they haven’t fit in fifteen years so it is time for them to go.

I am going to listen to podcasts. Got any suggestions? I listened to S-Town and loved that. So well done. I don’t really listen to podcasts, but I think I might try that while I start a walking regimen. My son listens to some podcast that sound far too much like Beavis and Butthead; I don’t want that. Something good. Help a girl out.

I am going to read that huge stack of books taking over my house; then, I’m going to put them in the Little Free Library on the corner.

Day drink. Why not have a cold beer at noon while I pull some weeds out of the flower bed? Why the hell not?

Stay up as late as I want to.

Finish my second book. I’m close. I need to get it off to my publisher so I can start on my third book.

Narrow down topic for third book.

Learn how to cook alligator. Not everyone can do this well.

Go to Monroeville, Alabama, home of my idol Harper Lee. See the inside of that courthouse.

Re-tile my bathroom. I have no idea how to do this and I think I need tools which I don’t currently own. Saws and things. I can do this. Right?

Spend days and days in the archives at the library doing research. I love this. This was the best part of writing my first book — the research! Love it!

Write. Write. Write.

Drive as much of the original alignment of Route 66 from east to west as possible.

Attend as many minor league baseball games in as many ballparks as I possibly can.

Find some way to move permanently to south Louisiana, to Cajun country, which has my heart and soul.

Brush up my French.

While this little list isn’t exhaustive, I think it is a lot more interesting than some of the suggestions for retirees that I’ve seen. Retirement has proven “boring” for my husband; when he retired six years ago he went back to school and got his BA and then his Masters degree, which was fabulous! But now he’s bored.

I can’t see myself ever getting bored. Maybe this is because I’m technically still working and the reality of retirement has not yet hit me. Maybe after a period of time, I will be restless and aimless.

I doubt it.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.ing

A much different type of diversity in journalism is needed than what Lori Lightfoot is looking for

By John Ruberry

Last week, Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, to mark the second anniversary of her inauguration, said that on that day she would only grant one-on-one interviews to black or brown journalists to protest the “overwhelmingly white” City Hall press corps. 

She was immediately attacked by journalists of all colors for this boneheaded move. And rather than backing down Lightfoot doubled down on her stupidity. A frog sitting in a polluted pond has more common sense she does.

Lightfoot wants more diversity among the members of the media who cover her. But the kind of diversity I have in mind is much different than what she envisions–but it is sorely needed. We need journalists who are regular people.

That’s a bold proposal, I know. But there are too many out-of-touch elitists telling us how they think the world is.

A leftist Democrat, Lightfoot is a special kind of awful for her to face such hostility from the local media, which, with the notable exception of John Kass of the Chicago Tribune, is overwhelmingly liberal. In the past two years Chicago’s murder rate has soared, it has been hit with two rounds of widespread looting and rioting, which that media has deemed instead “civil unrest,” and she hasn’t confronted Chicago’s millstone, the billions of unfunded public-worker pension obligations created largely by the indifference of longtime mayor Richard M. Daley. Her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel, at least made baby-step efforts to tackle the pension problem.

Of course Lightfoot will blame the COVID-19 pandemic for most of these problems. Her overbearing and pedantic press conferences on COVID probably lead most people to tune her out, which is a sound idea. And as I noted last year at Da Tech Guy, Lightfoot ordered the closing of Montrose Beach on a toasty August morning because the day before a large group of people gathered there despite her lockdown orders.

Wow! That will show ’em who is boss! The beach is closed! Go to your and stay there without your dinner! Grrr!! Grrr!

Later that night and into the following morning that second round of looting and rioting, which Chicago police officers, probably following orders from above, mostly just contained, not confronted. 

Let’s get back to that diversity crisis.

On this weekend’s Flannery Fired Up on Fox Chicago the host, Mike Flannery, a fair journalist by the way and a white fella like me, twice asked a panel gathered on Zoom consisting of a black journalism professor, an Hispanic alderman, and an African-American state legislator if a lack of newsroom diversity has prevented the acurrate reporting of a story. 

Here’s how Flannery phrased his query the second time, “Give me an example of a story that was poorly covered because white journalists were covering it instead black or Hispanic journalists.” 

The trio responded only with vagueness–although the professor did mention crime in a general sense. But none of them could cite a specific example of bias, or even poor coverage, to answer Flannery’s question.

Crisis?

The host said there needs to be more minorities in newsrooms. I agree. But let’s make the local media even more diverse. How about some conservative voices? Or perhaps some individuals who can bring what diversity advocates call “real life experience” into the conversation?

Let’s talk about those riots. I have a client, an Indian-American man, whose parents own a convenience store on the city’s West Side. He still helps out there once in a while. Twice last summer during the riots the store was emptied of all but debris. What about them? Oh, sure, the helicopter media will do an interview here and there with a merchant after rioting, oops, “civil unrest,” but reporters primarily focus mainly on the issues they see a more important, such as why the riots started in the first place. Yes, root causes shouldn’t be overlooked.

People are creatures of habit in many ways of course, including shopping. When my client’s family store re-opened, not all of their customers returned. Their pattern was disrupted. Restaurants in that area are facing the same problem. Grand re-openings cause a big splash–but will the journalism school alums who as adults have only worked jobs in the field have the instinct to follow up six months or a year later to see if normalcy really returned? The Tribune’s Kass, whose father was a grocer, knows better.

Let’s talk about the real life experiences within my family. After many years as a limousine driver Mrs. Marathon Pundit was laid off when the COVID lockdown began. How many journalists have a spouse who drives a limo? Too many journalists are married to other journalists–they’re an inbred lot. Real life experience anyone? We quickly ascertained the chances of a call back to her old job were bleak. So Mrs. Marathon Pundit decided to work as an Uber driver again. But this time there was a problem. There was an outstanding $200 parking ticket from 2005 that hadn’t been paid on a car that I usually drove that was registered to both of us. Now to become an Uber operator in Chicago a driver, among other things, must have a clean driving record and no outstanding parking tickets. 

The two prior times Mrs. Marathon Pundit was approved as an Uber driver that parking violation, which let me remind you was 16-years old, didn’t come up. Why is that? Also, in Chicago, there is–wait for it–no statute of limitations on parking tickets, which places that attack on society on the same level as murder and arson. 

Among the issues that Lori Lightfoot successfully ran on was a promise that she would do away with “draconian ‘anti-scofflaw’ laws” that prevent people from driving a cab or working as a rideshare driver, or even being employed by the city.

Of course if I was a City Hall reporter I’d ask Lightfoot, without bringing up my ancient parking ticket of course, “What about your vow in regards to what you called the ‘draconian anti-scofflaw laws’ on parking tickets as well as banning the used of the ‘boot” for parking violators?”

Followed up with, “Why is there no statute of limititions on parking fines in Chicago?” 

We paid that $200 ticket, even though I don’t recall parking my car where the City said I did all those years ago. A keypunch error–someone could have transposed a licence place digit–could be why we were cited. In Chicago, like many other places, the law is upside down in regards to parking violations. It’s up to the accused to prove themselves innocent.

Chicago–and every place–needs journalists who hammer public figures on issues such as parking tickets. And omnipresent red light cameras. Do you know that minorities in Chicago are hit harder by parking and traffic fines? Who says? Lori Lightfoot said so two years ago. “We can longer ignore the documented existence of racial disparities in Chicago’s fines, fees and collection practices,” then-candidate Lightfoot told voters. Instead, Lightfoot has doubled down on the fines. Since March Chicago drivers captured by traffic cameras going as little as six-miles-per hour over the posted speed limit face fines.

Of course such issues aren’t as meaty as the Holy Grail that all journalists strive for, breaking the next Watergate Scandal. But I can assure you that most Chicagoans care a heck of a lot more about being burdened by oppessive traffic and parking fines–as opposed to Lightfoot’s opinion that the City Hall’s media corps isn’t diverse enough for her.

Do I really have to go into detail about how most Chicagoans are abhored by rioting and looting?

Diversity isn’t a color. It’s a mindset.

John Ruberry, who has been working in sales for years, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Governor Charlie Baker is finally granting us serfs our freedom back

When an elected official, such as a governor, strips the freedom and rights away from his constituents he is behaving like a dictator or emperor rather that a public servant.  That is exactly the way Governor Baker of Massachusetts has behaved since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic.   He is far from alone.  About half governors of this country behaved the same.

When you strip the rights and freedoms away from any population they are no longer citizens.  They are now serfs.

When a large majority of the population meekly accepts the trampling of their rights and freedoms they are no longer worthy of the title of citizens, they are behaving exactly as serfs would behave and deserve that derisive label. 

I am quite ashamed by the lack of resistance put forward by the inhabitants of Massachusetts to the liberty and economy crushing lockdowns and mask mandates.  There was way too much blind and meek acceptance.  Thare was far too little questioning and far too little resistance.

On this past Monday Governor Baker announced that he is finally going to lift his disastrous Coronavirus restrictions, effective on May 29th.  It is far too late for all of the businesses that have closed due to Baker’s restrictions and all of those who have lost their jobs.  None of the restrictions were necessary to fight the virus outbreak.  Check out this article I did on the subject a couple weeks ago.

As you can see from this announcement by Governor Baker the statewide mask mandate will be replaced by a mask advisory.  I will no longer have to be worried about being fined $300 every time I leave my house without wearing a mask, which was what I did every time.

Baker said Monday that the current face covering order is rescinded as of May 29.

In line with CDC guidance, mon-vaccinated individuals are advised to continue wearing face masks and to continue distancing in most settings.

Fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a face covering or social distance indoors or outdoors except for in certain situations.

There is  some bad news buried in this announcement.

Face coverings will still be required for all individuals on public and private transportation, including rideshares, livery, taxi, ferries, MBTA, Commuter Rail and transportation stations) healthcare facilities and providers, congregate care settings and health and rehabilitative day services.

Face coverings will also remain required indoors for staff and students of K-12 schools and early education providers.

It is child abuse to require children to wear masks while they are in school, especially when they are not necessary at all.  It has been proved that children are in far less danger from Coronavirus than any other age group.

All of the restrictions imposed by Governor Baker will be lifted in two weeks.  None of these restrictions helped in the slightest.  The restrictions were put in place at the beginning of the pandemic. Check out the charts contained in this link which show how the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths exploded after the restrictions were imposed. 

Report from Louisiana: Bye Bye Mask!

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – We went to church Sunday; it is the first Sunday since March 2020 that the congregation could attend unmasked and with social distancing thrown to the wind. It is amazing how refreshing that was.

It seems as if this long pandemic nightmare is finally ending, and people are resuming their lives. Whether you are in the “Covid is a hoax” camp or the “Covid is going to kill us all” camp, the restrictions imposed on us all have affected us all in some way or another.

With excessive government handouts, many people have found it more profitable (and more fun) to stay at home, drawing that unemployment and other benefits. A lot of restaurants and other businesses are having trouble filling jobs. There have been product shortages all across the country as production has slowed. Even if the only way you’ve been affected is that you were required to wear a mask somewhere, we have all been affected by these mandates.

But now, this is changing! Even some school districts across the country have lifted mask mandates.

What is so interesting to me, however, is to note the effect these restored liberties have on people; the atmosphere at church was pure giddiness.  I heard more than one person say, “Oh it’s so nice to see people’s faces again!”  One woman noted that she actually wore makeup today for the first time since this started. Smiles were everywhere. People lingered longer after the service to visit with each other.

It’s obvious, isn’t it? I mean, who wouldn’t be happier without the yoke of government restrictions on them?

And now, you can actually see when someone smiles! Facial expressions are back!

There were more people in attendance at church this week, too. I have noticed since Easter that people are coming back. It has been good to see. Our priest is retiring next month, and we are able to have a retirement gathering for him in a local restaurant! Six months ago, that would not have been allowed. Too large of a group.

I wore my mask where I was supposed to, but honestly, once I had Covid antibodies after I got through the virus, and later, once I was vaccinated, I didn’t see much point in the mask. I got a lot less compliant about wearing it.

I think there are some things we may not see for a while, if ever, though. Salad bars, for one. I’m not a fan of a buffet, but we probably won’t see much of that either. I expect travel and large-crowd events will require proof of vaccination. I’m not sure how all that will work.

For now, I’m just glad I can see the smile on someone’s face.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Chicago aldermen making a wrong turn on proposal to rename Lake Shore Drive

Lake Shore Drive is between the skyscrapers and the lake

By John Ruberry

“And it starts up north from Hollywood, water on the driving side
Concrete mountains rearing up, throwing shadows just about five
Sometimes you can smell the green if your mind is feeling fine
There ain’t no finer place to be, than running Lake Shore Drive
And there’s no peace of mind, or place you see, than riding on Lake Shore Drive.”
Aliotta-Haynes-Jeremiah, “Lake Shore Drive.”

As I’ve stated many times before Chicago is a city in decline. Decades of rampant corruption and fiscal malfeasance, particularly with woefully unfunded public worker pension plans in regards to the latter, have placed Chicago in a bankrupty-in-name only status. The bleak future is now. Chicago can’t keep kicking the can down the road, whether that road is Michigan Avenue or Lake Shore Drive. 

Chicago’s woke mayor, Lori Lightfoot, who is halfway into her first term, has made Chicago’s situation worse with her overreaching lockdown response to COVID-19 and her feeble response to two rounds of summer rioting in 2020. The city’s murder rate is high. The quality of education provided by Chicago Public Schools is low and has gotten worse because the Chicago Teachers Union keeps pushing more convenient, for the teachers of course, remote learning lessons.

Politicians, particularly liberals, are adept at adopting symbols, as author Tom Clancy pointed out to Bill O’Reilly in an interview shortly after the 9/11 attacks. “The general difference between conservatives and liberals is that liberals like pretty pictures and conservatives like to build bridges that people can drive across,” Clancy said to O’Reilly. “And conservatives are indeed conservative because if the bridge falls down then people die, whereas the liberals figure, we can always build a nice memorial and make people forget it ever happened and was our fault. They’re very good at making people forget it was their fault.”

Okay, no bridges have collapsed in decline-and-fall Chicago. But some City Council members are lining up behind a proposal to rename Lake Shore Drive for Chicago’s first non-indigenous resident, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. He opened a trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River at Lake Michigan around 1790.

About the Chicago City Council: Since 1973 over thirty-five of its members have been sentenced to federal prison.

Little is known about DuSable although it’s believed he was born in Haiti around 1750. In 1800 he sold his home and the land around it; the property ended up in the hands of John Kinzie, the first recorded European-American to live in what is now America’s third-largest city. One of Chicago’s first streets was named for him, but DuSable was forgotten, wrongly in my opinion, for many years. But his legacy caught up and surpassed Kinzie’s. There is the DuSable Museum of African American History on the city’s South Side, DuSable High School, a DuSable Park near the site of his former home, and a bust of DuSable on Michigan Avenue, even though because there are no known contemporary renderings of DuSable–no one knows what he looked like. Oh yeah, we were talking about bridges. The Michigan Avenue Bridge downtown was renamed for DuSable in 2010.

There are some urban streets that are iconic. Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, Fifth Avenue in New York, and Bourbon Street in New Orleans. And Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. 

Lake Shore Drive–it has had that name since 1946–is a fantastic driving road. Fifth Avenue, for instance, is a better walking street. Chicago’s early leaders, post-Kinzie, made the wise decision to keep the Lake Michigan waterfront open, and most of it is park land–with Lake Shore Drive. When I have out-of-town guests I always make a point of taking them on a trip up and down Lake Shore Drive. The response I usually receive is from them, “I had no idea Chicago was so beautiful!”

Of course if the road is renamed for DuSable, the views will be just as pretty and Lake Michigan will be equally blue. But Lake Shore Drive is in essence a brand name. An iconic one. Why mess with that?

The Chicago Tribune editorial board has suggested a sound alternative–renaming Millennium Park, which abuts Lake Shore Drive, for DuSable and merging it with DuSable Park. Mayor Lightfoot has a good idea too, renaming the Chicago Riverwalk, which arguably has no name, for DuSable. But Lightfoot has gained, many say earned, a lot of enemies in her short time as mayor. They oppose the Lightfoot’s proposal because of their dislike for her. Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, the only reason in my opinion to subscribe to that paper, offers a superb knockdown of the Lake Shore Drive renaming proposal, which brings up many of the same points I have mentioned. Also, Kass, as I have done, has excoriated Lightfoot’s woke Chicago Monuments Project, which has placed, among other items, five Abraham Lincoln statues “under review.” Yep, right here in the Land of Lincoln.

Destroying symbols is important to liberals too.

Those against the renaming Lake Shore Drive find themselves in a trap. In this cancel culture environment opponents of DuSable Drive will be called racist by the virtue signalers–even though they are not. Sears Tower, when it opened four decades ago, was the tallest building in the world. The naming rights of it were purchased by a British firm and it’s official name is now the Willis Tower

No one I know–and I have a large circle of relatives, friends, and acquaintances–calls this iconic structure anything but the Sears Tower. No one. A DuSable Drive faces the same fate. Except nobody has ever called a Willis Tower-denier a racist. 

I’m with the Tribune and Lightfoot on this controversy. Rename Millennium Park, which has only been open since 2004–because of delays and cost overruns it opened well after the millennium began–for DuSable. And rename the Riverwalk too for DuSable. It’s another relatively new city attraction, it opened in stages beginning in 2001.

And I have my own idea. The former Meigs Field, a small lakefront airport abruptly closed by the midwife of Chicago’s pension crisis, Richard M. Daley, is now known as Northerly Island Park. I suspect that Daley wanted that space named for him. If Millenium Park keeps its moniker–then rename Northerly Island Park for DuSable. Call it DuSable South–a twin of the other park.

Don’t mess with success Chicago. But the city, like the state of Illinois, has a habit of making bad decisions. Call it tradition.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Lack of resistance to Coronavirus lockdowns and mask mandates is the price we are now paying for decades of liberal indoctrination

I am completely astounded that these Coronavirus lockdowns and mask mandates lasted more than one month, yet alone over a year.  I expected mass resistance by people of all but the bluest states to have put an end to these liberty and economy destroying restrictions way back before last summer. 

Yep it is obvious to everyone reading this that I miscalculated rather badly.  My defense is that I have studied non-revisionist American history in great detail.  I was raised on concepts such as Patrick Henry’s famous quote “Give me Liberty or Death.”  I don’t know about you but I think he would be outraged that in just 246 years almost the entire nation has surrendered their liberty because they are afraid of a disease with a 99.8 percent survival rate.

 Here is another quote, this one by Benjamin Franklin, which has been so ignored by our abysmal educational system that the concept is completely alien to almost anyone over the age of 30:

Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Liberty was a concept that was universally cherished and understood by all of the citizens of the United States from before the Revolution until the end of the 1960s.  Liberty is a concept that is not valued at all by the leftists that took over colleges and universities.  They actually despise liberty because it is the exact opposite of the collectivism that they cherish.

The definition of liberty espoused by the Founding Fathers of this nation states that liberty is the freedom of individual to do as they wish as long as they do not hurt others or interfere with the rights of others. Liberty is a concept that is deeply grounded in individualism.  There is no such thing as collective liberty.  Collectivism is the enslavement of individuals to the needs and whims a collective group such as a nation, a race, or a class.

Liberty is deeply rooted in freedom.  It is freedom coupled with the responsibility to do no harm to any other individuals.  It has not been proved scientifically that going maskless and ignoring lockdowns actually harms individuals. Forcing individuals to wear masks and locking down a society are violations of the liberty of those living in the society. 

If the original understanding of liberty was still taught in schools instead of collectivism these liberty destroying restrictions would have ended by the people soon after they were instituted.

For the past several decades school children and college students have been brainwashed into believing that the earth is in eminent danger from the mythical beast known as man caused global warming.  They have been brainwashed into believing the most absurd junk science ever.  They have been brainwashed into believing that no one can ever question anything that is labeled science by a leftist expert.  Decades of climate change indoctrination has left a large majority of the inhabitants of the US unusually susceptible to all of the junk science behind mask mandates and lockdowns.

If we do not come up with a serious plan to tackle the rampant indoctrination that has infected all levels of our educational system these types of liberty and economy destroying restrictions will become the new normal.

Report from Louisiana: Year Round School?

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Year-round school.  A lot of districts do it, but I am not a fan.

Louisiana’s (new) Superintendent of Education is proposing year-round school in our state. I know that there are a couple of schools in our local district that are already doing this, elementary schools mostly, but as a teacher, I must tell you, I don’t think I’d like this.

Here’s the thing. I need that summer to recharge. While most people are under the impression that teachers get “three months off” or “all summer off,” of course that is not the case. I am about to retire after twenty-five years in the classroom, and I can assure you that I’ve never ever had three months off, and I’ve never had a summer where I wasn’t required to do some sort of professional development.

Every five years or so we have some sort of curriculum change that requires professional development…training…inservice; new technology, new gradebook software, new this, new that…all of it requires PD. Time taken out of your “summer.” 

As rewarding as it is, teaching is exhausting work. And really, this isn’t the post where I want to defend the position that teachers are underpaid for what they do, and that yes, we knew what we got paid when we went into the profession. That is for another day.

But year-round school? Nope. Glad I won’t be there for that.

Kids need the break too, you see. Yes, indeed, some of them need school all the time; their life at home might be terrible and maybe they aren’t getting meals and maybe they don’t get enough supervision and sometimes the electricity and water aren’t even turned on.

Schools have become the place to catch all of these issues that are neglected at home. We feed our students breakfast and lunch, teach them sex education, breast cancer awareness and self-examination; we do vision and hearing checks, we help seniors sign up for Financial Aid. We provide jackets and clothing for kids in need and sometimes we pay an electric bill. Schools are now social support service providers and while I love kids and will help any child in need every single time, we have to wonder if this is the job of the school.

Are we losing sight of education?

Most opponents of year-round school suggest that kids need time to be with their families, to go on vacation, Disneyland! Most of the kids I teach can’t even dream of going to Disneyland and have never been on a family vacation; some are homeless and live in hotels. Most of my high school aged students work and they work hard, long hours.

When we shut down for Covid, our kids were working. They didn’t log onto Google classroom every day to do math problems and watch YouTube documentaries; they took advantage of the time to work, make money, pay bills.

Not all of them, obviously, but a lot of them. I know this for a fact.

And so as I consider the proposal of year round school, I am conflicted. I think about these kids; they need some down time, too. They are working, they are trying to survive, they are trying to finish school. Where’s the downtime? Teachers need to recharge, too, and a lot of teachers depend on summer jobs to supplement their salaries.

Schools can provide everything else. Can’t we provide a few weeks with no school?

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Obama and Pritzker exposed as frauds on gerrymandering in Illinois

By John Ruberry

Last year former president Barack Obama called partisan gerrymandering “a sneaky way for politicians to consolidate as much power as they can. In the end, gerrymandering means that citizens’ voices are being diminished.” 

A year earlier the governor of Obama’s home state of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, had this to say after the US Supreme Court decided not to get involved in partistan remaps. “As I’ve said since I was a candidate, I will veto any map that is unfair,” Pritzker said. “It’s the right thing to do. We’re going to have to make sure that here in Illinois we’re not gerrymandering, that we’re drawing maps that are fair and competitive. That’s what’s best for the voters of the state, that they have choices when they go to the ballot.” 

Obama and Pritzker are of course both Democrats. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, state Senate minority leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), pointed out that Obama, while at Illinois’ state capital late in his presidential term, denounced gerrymandering and called for reform. “And this needs to be done across the nation,” the 44th president said, “not just in a select few states. It should be done everywhere.”

Apparently not in Illinois becauses Obama has been silent about stacking the decks in favor of Democrats. The 2010 remap of Illinois congressional and state legislative districts was a travesty of democracy, as was the one after the 2000 Census, both of which were the work of longtime Illinois House speaker and Democratic party chairman Boss Michael Madigan, who was forced into retirement this year as scandals engulfed his inner circle. The state legislature, as mandated by the Illinois constitution, draws new General Assembly and US congressional district maps.

Late last month Pritzker appeared to be backtracking from his stance against gerrymandering.

The most blatant gerrymandering from the most recent remap is Illinois’ 4th congressional district, nicknamed “the earmuffs,” which is pictured above. 

But a quick look at maps won’t tell the whole story. Illinois three largest cities outside of Chicago, Rockford, Peoria, and Springfield, the aforementioned state capital, are each split between two congressional districts. This is not a case of these cities being too large for one district, the average size of a US congressional district is over 700,000, the largest of these municipalities is Rockford, with just under 150,000 residents. 

The current Illinois congressional delegation consists of thirteen Democrats and five Republicans. Mission accomplished, Democrats. That number will change because Illinois, again, will lose a congressional seat. As I’ve remarked before, Illinoisans are voting with their feet by moving out. They are fed up with rampant corruption, high taxes, and an unfunded public worker pension debt crisis that can be solved only by default or hyperinflation. Between the 2010 and 2020 Census counts Illinois lost population–the first time that has ever happened to the Prairie State.

The electoral results are predictable when politicians choose their constituents. Last year 52 of the 118 races for seats in the Illinois House had only one candidate. In the state Senate it was worse–10 of the 20 races had only one person running. The Democrats have veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. 

Twice in the prior decade Republicans led efforts to allow voters to decide to amend the state constitution by having a non-partisan committee draw maps instead of the legislature. Both times what was called the Fair Map Amendment was ruled unconstitutional in a party-line state Supreme Court decision. The lead attorney in the lawsuit to block the amendment had ties to Boss Madigan.

Back to the US Congress. Illinois’ Democratic delegation is lockstep behind House Bill 1, which if made into law, in the process of nationalizing local elections, will mandate independent committees, not state legislators, to take charge of the decennial remaps in all 50 states. But why aren’t Illinois 13 Democratic members of Congress decrying the current remap process here? Because they are phonies, that’s why. Just like Pritzker and Obama. 

The current remapping in Illinois is being performed behind closed doors by Democratic members of the General Assembly using preliminary Census data. Hey Pritzker! Are you aware of this news?

Yeah, I know, in 1990 Republicans drew gerrymandered districts. It was wrong then too.

On Fox Chicago’s Flannery Fired Up this weekend, state Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) told the host, “We should draw fair, straightforward maps that use official [Census] data and give the people of Illinois a real choice in their elections so people are picking their elected officials and not the other way around.”

Tellingly, because Flannery strives to be fair, he had two Republicans on the gerrymandering segment of his program, but no Dems. I’m very confident that Flannery invited a Democrat to appear but they are either too ashamed to defend their non-transparent remapping–or they know it’s indefensible.

One more time for emphasis.

Six days before his election as governor a St. Louis NPR reporter, Jason Rosenbaum, asked Pritzker, “If you’re governor and they send you a map that is obvioulsy gerrymandered against Republicans would you veto it and why?”

Candidate Pritzker’s response? “I will not sign a bill that is gerrymandered,” adding, “I have been for independent maps for a long time.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

CDC now stands for Corrupt Democrat Cesspool

Since its founding the Centers for Disease Control was something extremely rare.  It was a government agency that actually functioned reasonably well.  Sadly that is no longer the case.  It is now a corrupt agency that cares more for being politically correct and spouting progressive ideology than science and medicine.  I am not exactly sure when the CDC began its decent but it most likely took place during the Obama Administration.  During that dark period the CIA, FBI, and NASA all became mobs of liberal political hacks.

It quickly became evident as the Coronavirus pandemic unfolded just how little the CDC now cares about medicine and science. The CDC has gone out of its way to embarrass itself with statements that contradict basic tenants of science and medicine.  I know I’m not the only one who noticed.  Check out this statement by Senator Tom Cotton:

The CDC is a thoroughly politicized agency. Most Americans disregard their advice on things like steaks and hamburgers and beers. Increasingly, they should disregard their advice when it comes to school reopenings. Schools need to be open. Schools have been open in Arkansas five days a week, in-person since last August, and it’s been largely fine. That’s been the case all across the country as well. We shouldn’t have a politicized public health bureaucracy like the CDC answering at the beck and call of the teachers’ unions. We need kids back in school, and back in real school, not sitting in a classroom doing a Zoom session with teachers who are not in the classroom. We need kids in schools with their teachers now

This New York Post article highlights one specific issue where the CDC really demonstrated how political it has become.

The American Federation of Teachers lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on, and even suggested language for, the federal agency’s school-reopening guidance released in February.

The powerful teachers union’s full-court press preceded the federal agency putting the brakes on a full re-opening of in-person classrooms, emails between top CDC, AFT and White House officials show.

The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative watchdog group Americans for Public Trust and provided to The Post.

The documents show a flurry of activity between CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, her top advisors and union officials — with Biden brass being looped in at the White House — in the days before the highly-anticipated Feb. 12 announcement on school-reopening guidelines.

Mask mandates are another issue that has demonstrated just how much the CDC has abandoned science in favor of the panic pushed by progressives.  Check out the National Review article CDC’s New Outdoor Mask Guidance Is a Joke

To be clear, the science was overwhelming last year that the risk of outdoor transmission of COVID-19 was low to non-existent. Anybody following the science should have never felt compelled to wear a mask outdoors during the pandemic.

Furthermore, somebody who is fully vaccinated is at minimal risk of catching COVID-19 indoors or outdoors. Earlier this month, the CDC itself reported that out of a universe of 66 million individuals who were vaccinated at the time, just 5,800 got the virus. That’s less than 1-in-10,000.

The idea that the CDC, even in loosening outdoor mask guidance, is still insisting that vaccinated people wear masks in crowded outdoor settings is completely unmoored from science or reason. This is a bungling agency that has made one mistake after another throughout the pandemic.

This Statement by Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota is almost the sort of statement the CDC should have issued if it still believed in science.

On Monday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “11th Hour,” Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and former adviser to President Biden’s transition team Dr. Michael Osterholm stated that if you’re fully vaccinated, “you can basically protect yourself and have all the kind of socialization that you want to do.”

[I]f you’re among vaccinated people, party hard, party hard. Invite people over to your house, do family-related things. But get vaccinated. If there was ever a time to want to incentivize people to get vaccinated, it’s now. Because if you do, you can basically protect yourself and have all the kind of socialization that you want to do.

We should be very afraid of the panic porn being pushed by the CDC.  It sets a dangerous precedence.  This article is a stark warning: Totalitarian Elites Want To Extend COVID-19 Lockdowns Forever For ‘Climate Change’

It’s financially unsustainable and morally untenable to involuntarily confine anybody — let alone healthy people — to their homes, and deprive them of opportunities to interact or earn a living. However, when halting what Greta Thunberg called “the fairy-tale of eternal economic growth” is the goal, lockdowns become an enticing tool for ending both capitalism and climate emissions