Friday, February 19, 2010

Time to Reign In the Public School System

If we need any further proof that the public school system culture is out of control, the above story reaffirms the worst. If you click on this link you will see that a school system issued laptops for student use. Unbeknownst to the students, the school could watch the home through the webcam. At least one student was informed by an assistant principal that his and his parent's conduct at home was inappropriate.
Last I heard this was a violation of the Constitution. I know in these heady days of Obamunistic change, that is an old fashioned concept, but some of us still cling to it, much like we do to our religion and guns.
Any school official involved in this needs to be fired and then brought up on criminal charges.
This is part of a wider problem. If you are a parent you are familiar with repeated requests for private and personal information, most recently you have been bombarded with requests about health care. They offer screenings to gather information about your child's health so that they can continue to collect data. I tell my children not to participate. We have our own doctors, thank you very much. The school has no need for that kind of information on our kids. Same goes with the exercise calendar required by physical education classes in West Virginia. The schools do not need to know when, where, and how often my children exercise.
Schools have traditionally had the role of in loco parentis, this means that while a child is there the school is like a parent. Some school officials in this country think they should be the parent at home as well. It's time that parents stand up and remind the schools, when necessary, who is really in charge of children.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Retrospective on a Veteran

I ran across a letter yesterday while in Morgantown doing research. I should have photocopied it and brought it back to the Mineral County Historical Society, but I didn't think about that until after I had left for the evening. It was from Brigadier General Benjamin F. Kelley to Nathan Goff, West Virginia Republican leader in the early 1870s.

I have been through some of General Kelley's letters from the Civil War when he commanded Fort Fuller, where Potomac State College stands today. This was a man with confidence and strength in a difficult position. He had to defend a long fixed object, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, against a mobile and usually invisible guerilla enemy. This thankless task is something that our troops today would understand all too well. Kelley did a great job not only in this role, but also later in the war. Ulysses S. Grant mentions in his memoirs a battle in which Kelley's support was important. Kelley was the only Union general to never be on the losing side of an engagement, unless I have heard wrong.

This made the letter I ran across yesterday all the more sad. Kelley wrote to Nathan Goff asking for some job, any job, that would help him to pay his bills. In those days, support for the political party of the president could get you a federal position. Kelley had served on the state Republican Executive Committee and did have a federal job before running afoul somehow of Senator Arthur I. Boreman. He retired to his farm to support his wife and the two children of his son who was killed in the war. Kelley found that his own war wounds kept him from the rigorous work of farming and so he had no choice but to beg for a job, any job, anywhere, that would help him support his family.

There's no partisan political point here. We just need to remember that even years after the wars are over, that our veterans still need help. Many of them have wounds of all kinds that will never heal. The combat may fade into history, but they do not do so nearly as quickly. Even the commanders sometimes return home with problems that will always affect them. Just don't forget.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rep. Jim Jordan on America's unsustainable debt

Part 1

Part 2

Dick Cheney

"Dick Cheney is a refreshingly forceful advocate of Americanexceptionalism, and the idea that the United States is a specialcountry with a unique role to play in shaping history. He alsounderstands the importance of maintaining and strengthening America’skey alliances."

Dick Cheney has a chance to grasp that role that proves elusive to most individuals, that of statesman. He seems to have no more electoral ambitions, but has a great deal of credibility. Cheney can be as honest as he needs to be. If he can bury the unfortunate schism that developed between him and W Bush, he can move forward to shape a confident American approach along the lines set by Reagan and many presidents prior to him.

Cheney has emerged as conventional conservatism's most powerful critic of the Obama presidency, especially its weak kneed apologetic approach. Cheney's underscoring of the need for a prosperous economy and muscular foreign policy comes directly from the playbook of President Reagan. Most of his differences with President George W. Bush came when the United States started softening its international stands in the last few years of that presidency (although it could be argued that once American strength and power under a Republican president was established, it could then relax its role somewhat.)

He is probably unelectable as president, but will continue to be the most credible critic of Democratic policy while serving as the future gray eminence of future GOP administrations, much like a latter day Kissinger.

Like him, hate him, agree with him, or fear him, Dick Cheney will be around to serve as a factor in American policy making for quite some time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Power of New Media

In the 1870s and 80s the most prominent Republican in West Virginia was a Clarksburg native named Nathan Goff. He served in the Civil War as a major, was captured and held in a notorious Confederate prison, then earned his law degree and entered state Republican politics. Goff was well known and popular. One of his most substantial weapons was a powerful voice that delivered rich oratory to major state cities and isolated hollows alike. He never missed a chance to speak to the people. It served as his means to connect with as many voters as possible because he could learn their needs and explain to them how he and the Republican Party could serve them.

Some Republicans have learned that they can get their ideas to those same country roads and back hollows today. Speaking and personal contact is still of primary importance, but even Nathan Goff would tell you that you cannot cover every village in a district or in the state. The new media gives candidates that opportunity if they can use it properly.

I don't mean to ruffle any feathers here, but it always irks me when someone announces their candidacy and does not have a website up the day of their official announcement. Many times I have found myself saying "wow, so and so is running for that seat, I'd like to know more about them!" The worst thing a Republican candidate can have happen is that they announce that they are running, people look them up, and only see Charleston Gazette stories about them. On the day of announcement, people want to know who you are and what you stand for. Don't let the Gazette or someone else's news coverage define who you are right off the bat. Get that website up to define your image as a candidate before someone does it for you.

Next, have a presence on at least Facebook. Around the country you see candidates at all levels setting up pages. Rick Perry, running for re-election as Governor of Texas, has a very active site. Betty Ireland is not currently running for anything, but has activity on her page. Statements on current events remind people that she is still around and concerned about the issues. Most candidates will issue regular statements on the issues of the day, then interact little as others argue on what was said. Facebook serves as a comnnection point between candidates and supporters. Extreme reactions can and do sometimes occur, so these pages must be monitored.

The new media is there and candidates should use it to its fullest potential, or at the very least get a minimum level of exposure so voters can use a very convenient media to get to know them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lack of Guard Rails on WV 46 Claim Another Car in Bad Weather

Shortly before 1 PM today an SUV driven west bound on WV 46 just east of Howell Automotive, left the snow covered road and traveled some 150 ft over the embankment to the bottom of the hollow on the north side of WV 46.
By standers help bring the driver back to the top of the bank after her vehicle traveled some 150 feet to the bottom.

The Decline and Fall of Our Heroes

Has anyone else noticed the slow and gradual removal from our culture of heroes?

It first comes from the overuse of the word "hero." A "hero" does something remarkable, using their skills to achieve something positive, often at great risk to themselves. I don't mind calling police officers heroes. I don't mind calling fire fighters heroes. They do put their lives on the line daily. At what point does basketball become a life and death occupation though?

Great individuals need to be remembered and celebrated. Our schools do a terrific job remembering Martin Luther King Jr. He was a true martyr to the cause of individual rights. I do find it puzzling that students know who Martin Luther King was, but not Martin Luther who offered himself to be burned at the stake because he believed Christians had the right to freedom of conscience.

Probably the worst offender is "Presidents' Day." We used to celebrate Lincoln and Washington's Birthday separately until the universal adoption of Martin Luther King Day. Then governments felt three holidays in such a short period of time was too many (an exception being Virginia who already celebrated Robert E. Lee's birthday at the same time, and still do. The two are not so far apart as one might imagine.) Washington and Lincoln got lumped together.

Washington's Birthday was at one point a more important holiday than the 4th of July. More than anyone, he symbolized both the fighting spirit and the political wisdom of our Founding Fathers. He served as hero not just to Americans, but also to colonial peoples everywhere seeking independence. Every leader of a would be sovereign nation aspired to be a Washington for his people. Most failed to meet a standard set so high. Now Washington gets lumped in with the good, bad, and the ugly of presidencies.

Are all presidents heroes? Is the drunken incompetent Andrew Johnson the equal of George Washington?

Left wingers do not believe in heroes outside of their own kind. They tend to hate the idea that an individual can make a difference and change history for the better. History to them is a series of social movements, not alterable at all by the actions of willful, inspired men and women. They truly see little value in celebrating Washington or any other American hero and that is why they have labored so long and hard to eliminate him and other true heroes from our schoolbooks and curriculums. Martin Luther King Jr. gets to stay because it is inconvenient for the leftists to take on a major interest group.

Another left wing concept is postmodern philosophy that emphasizes that all opinions and points of view are equally valid. Postmodernism says that Jackson Pollock dropping pain onto a canvas from a three story building roof is equal to da Vinci and Michelangelo's greatest works. It says that Washington is as much villain as hero because someone, somewhere sees him as an evil usurping slaveowner rather than a symbol of liberty. Left wing academics worship in the religion of postmodernism; it's the only creed they accept on faith alone.

Being aware of these people and their intentions for our culture and country prepares us to battle them. We need to exalt the memories of Washington, Lincoln, Grant, George and John Marshall, George Patton, Andrew Carnegie, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, etc. because they did great things for a great nation. Even Lee and Stonewall Jackson stood for an ideal of rights that is part of our experience and national identity.

Celebrate heroes. Teach our children about great Americans so that they believe they can achieve the same things. Then teach about other heroes from Britain, the rest of Europe, the Christian and Jewish faiths. You need to teach about these people or risk having children never hear about them at all.

Yet Another Winter Weather Advisory from the National Weather Service

.. Winter Weather Advisory in effect from 9 am this morning to
6 am EST Tuesday...

The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has issued a
Winter Weather Advisory for snow... which is in effect from 9 am
this morning to 6 am EST Tuesday. The Winter Storm Watch is no
longer in effect.

* Precipitation type... snow.

* Accumulations... 2 to 4 inches today and an additional 2 to 4
inches tonight.

* Timing... snow will begin between 9 am and 11 am this
morning... and will continue through tonight.

* Temperatures... highs around 30 today. Temperatures dropping into
the teens tonight.

* Winds... southeast 5 to 10 mph today... becoming west 10 to 20 mph

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A Winter Weather Advisory means that periods of snow will cause
travel difficulties. Be prepared for slippery roads and limited
visibilities... and use caution while driving.

1st Congressional 2010 Primary Election Poll results

The following online poll was run by the PHC. It is not a scientific poll.

141 responded to the question, "Who will you vote for in the 1st Congressional District Democrat Primary?"

Michael Oliverio III (Monongalia County) 80%
Alan B. Mollohan (Marion County) 19%

429 responded to the question, "Who will you vote for in the 1st Congressional District GOP Primary?"

David B. McKinley (Ohio County) 45%
Sarah Minear (Monongalia County) 30%
Thomas Stark (Wood County)13%
Mac Warner (Monongalia County) 4%
Cindy Hall (Ohio County) 4%
Patricia VanGilder Levenson (Ohio County) 1%