Friday, May 23, 2014

Casey, Rockefeller Blasted Over Offensive Comments About Obama Opponents

Yesterday, the Daily Caller reported on offensive comments made by Senator Rockefeller about those opposing Obamacare.  Second District Congressional nominee Alex Mooney fired back and also referred to similar remarks by his opponent Nick Casey.  Full release below.

For Immediate Release: May 23, 2014
Media Contact: Nick Clemens (304) 702-5009
Martinsburg, WV - Today, Alex Mooney, Republican nominee for Congress in West Virginia’s second congressional district, called on Nick Casey to condemn recent comments by Senator Jay Rockefeller who accused opponents of Obamacare of opposing Obamacare simply because President Obama is "the wrong color."
Wednesday, Sen. Rockefeller remarked: "I'll be able to dig up some emails that make part of the Affordable Care Act that doesn't look good—especially from people who made up their mind that they don't want it to work because they don't like the president. Maybe he's of the wrong color, something of that sort. I've seen a lot of that and I know a lot of that to be true. It's not something you're meant to talk about in public but it's something I'm talking about in public because that is very true." (National Journal, 05/21/14)
Nick Casey has similarly made offensive comments, saying in 2008, "John McCain is confident that ignorant, redneck racists are not going to vote for Barack Obama, because Barack Obama is black." (Politico, 10/19/08)
"Nick Casey's 2008 comments were offensive and insulting to the good people of West Virginia," Alex Mooney said. "I call on Nick Casey to condemn Sen. Rockefeller's recent comments and disavow his 2008 comments. Obamacare has been a disastrous policy for West Virginia families, killing our jobs, increasing taxes, and causing premiums to skyrocket. It is downright offensive to imply that the president's race is the reason for hardworking West Virginians' opposition to the Obamacare train wreck."
Senator Alex Mooney, his wife, Dr. Grace Mooney, and their children reside in Charles Town, West Virginia. Mooney is taking his campaign to defend conservative values to every part of West Virginia's second congressional district.

Paid for by Mooney for Congress

Thursday, May 22, 2014

WVGOP Speaks Frankly On Taxpayer Paid Mailings

Democrats call it a tempest in a teapot, but the aura of scandal has attracted the attention of both state outlets and the Washington Post.  Officials with the West Virginia Republican Party, after an exhaustive study, say that House Democrats have abused their franking privileges.

Franking dates back to the beginning of the Republic, well before the advent of broadcast media and the internet.  Newspapers did not even really report news as much as attack those holding other political ideals.  Constituents in far flung areas relied on their congressmen or legislators to send them news through the mail. Under law, legislators can send constituents mail with the understanding that it is for information, not politicking.

Republican Party chair Conrad Lucas claims that House Democrats, fearful of losing their slender majority, have sent campaign style letters to targeted voters.  Specifically, 12 House Democrats mailed nearly 65,000 items to overwhelmingly Democratic recipients.  Delegates David Walker (Clay), Justin Marcum (Mingo), and Nancy Guthrie (Kanawha) mailed, according to the WVGOP, 95 percent of the time or more to Democrats alone.

Interestingly, Walker sent over 8,300 pieces of mail.  His district, men, women, and children, adds up to approximately 24,000 individuals.  Almost 2,800 of them turned out to vote in the primary in his 33rd District.

The letters sent out include photographs of the delegates.  This is highly unusual in constituent correspondence because the extra ink needed to print color photographs is cost prohibitive.  Typically, the body contains a list of Democratic accomplishments and good wishes for the constituent.  Since the mass mailings did not include regular GOP voters, however, the letters are seen as campaign mobilization rather than trying to inform every voter.

Democrats fired back by saying they do mail to Republicans.  Delegate Don Perdue from Wayne, who sent out over 4,000 pieces himself, noted on West Virginia Metro News' Talkline that it was "much ado about nothing" because he had gotten a complaint from one Republican voter.  Democrats also attacked the mailing practices of Congressman David McKinley, who has returned almost $370,000 to the US Treasury from his office budget since taking office. (Author's note: As a long time and regular 1st District voter, I can say that I have never received mail from David McKinley except in response to a specific concern.)

What makes the scandal more noteworthy is that elected officials have more free ways to reach the public than ever before.  Instead of a deluge of thousands of letters into Mineral County, Delegate Gary Howell writes a regular newspaper column and puts live legislative updates on his Twitter and Facebook accounts.  For no charge, the State Legislature itself puts out a comprehensive bulletin of all its activities while in session to anyone interested.  This renders a specific mailed list pointless.

Republican's figures date back to the beginning of the year and analysis is not complete.  Democrats may well fall back to the defense that the mailing added up to mere thousands of dollars out of millions in the state budget.  First, every bit counts.  The state may be on the verge of cutting the popular Courtesy Patrol, which helps stranded motorists on state highways.  Budgets will get vastly tighter when Medicaid expansion costs, agreed to by Democrats, start to sink in.  West Virginia cannot afford to pay for delegates' campaigns.

Second, this reflects an arrogance that has plagued state politics for a long time.  Elected officials too often exploit the gray areas.  Board of Public Works officials used state funds to pay for trinkets and billboards featuring their names until voters finally punished the most egregious offender, Darrel McGraw.  The state deserves better.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

West Virginia Republicans Shatter Stereotypes

Most people can list common stereotypes of West Virginians.  After all, academia and the media perpetuated them for years.  Demographically, the state is merely described as overwhelmingly white.  Many would add uneducated, insular, suspicious, misogynist, and a number of other three and four syllable words that add up to what West Virginians call "backwards."  In other words, they spread the smear that West Virginia Republicans are resentful of advancing women and are inherently racist.

Nationally, Democrats and other leftists work tirelessly to attach the same stereotype to the GOP as a whole.  In both cases they are wrong.  Elections over the past ten years prove it.

Do West Virginians, and Republicans in particular, mistrust immigrants who come, live, and thrive here legally?  State Republicans have nominated at least three first or second generation immigrants to important offices.  In 2006, second generation Lebanese-American Chris Wakim was nominated and strongly supported by the Republican base and independents. Left wing conventional wisdom assumes that Republicans are racist and West Virginians even more so, but Wakim's ancestry was no issue for GOP voters.

Two years later, state Republicans nominated Charleston businessman and Nigerian immigrant Charles Minimah for secretary of state.  Minimah, who also works to promote black history and cultural events in the Kanawha Valley, again garnered Republican and independent support despite a huge funding discrepancy between him and his opponent.  This year, he is in a tightly contested race for the 37th delegate district in Charleston. Republicans often cite his experience, kindness, and honesty when talking about their support for him.

Just this month, Republicans in the West Virginia Second District nominated Alex Mooney for Congress.  Voters responded positively to the story of his mother's escape from Cuban tyranny as forming part of the foundation for his ideals.  National predictions still see the district as "lean Republican."

As for the national liberal "War on Women" scheme to tar the party, the Mountain State shatters that myth too.  For many years, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and former secretary of state Betty Ireland served as pillars of leadership for the state GOP.  Ireland has since stepped back, while Capito is expected to cruise to victory in her US Senate race.

Also if state legislative races show anything, it's that the good ol' "boy" network of the Democratic Party remains alive and well.  Fifty percent more women ran in state senate and delegate races on the Republican side than the Democratic.  Many of them, including several incumbents, won their primaries or ran unopposed.  Seventeen year old Saira Blair received national and international attention for upsetting her primary opponent.

Democrats, mostly white male Protestant liberals in positions of influence, will rush out the tired old tales of Republicans being racist and hating women.  But the truth is not what is said, but what is done.  The West Virginia Republican Party has attracted and supported more female and minority candidates than its Democratic counterparts due to its more inclusive atmosphere and its more effective set of ideals.

Monday, May 19, 2014

An Alternative to America's Archaic Teacher Education System

Although one should always take statistics and standardized test scores with a grain of salt, the numbers indicate that US students get less out of public education than they did in 1980.  Several factors contribute to that, notably the life sucking increase of federal involvement.  It is possible, however, that those aspiring to teach are less prepared than ever.  Also, the rising cost of college education combined with rising student debt price many candidates out of the profession.

What's the answer?  Replace most of current teacher education with an apprenticeship program.

West Virginia University, in an effort to try and improve teacher education, put together a five year program.  It combines the heavy weight of endless education courses with more opportunities for the aspiring teacher to actually learn about what they are going to teach.  This is a considerable improvement from the content light programs in the 1990s.  Except, of course, that a five year program means that much more debt following the teacher into their low paying profession. 

A better alternative could be the following:

Aspiring teachers take 66 hours for a two year degree.  Three hours of educational foundations, three hours of an education course about the age group they will teach.  Six hours of classes outside of their field. That leaves 54 hours worth of classes to learn about their field and any related subjects. 

Next step, apprenticeship.  A junior apprentice would function as a teacher's aide only.  They would grade papers, assist with projects, observe the teacher handling their classroom.   Next would come the senior apprentice stage where the aspiring teacher would get to teach classes under the direct supervision of the classroom teacher.

Once a teacher passes the apprenticeship, then they reach "assistant teacher" status.  The assistant teacher can work as a substitute, at first only short term, later long term.  They would still work as aides when not filling in for others.  An assistant teacher can be trusted to handle and manage a classroom alone and also teach lessons.

Throughout this process, the candidates should be taking approved free online courses and webinars, attending presentations, reading on their subject. 

After that stage, then one would become a full-fledged teacher, ready to design curricula and handle a classroom all year.

What are the benefits?

An apprenticeship could be paid or unpaid, depending on the finances of the school system.  Either way, the aspiring teacher benefits because he or she pays nothing.  WVU boasts that their teacher education program can put a student in the classroom for a thousand hours.  Isn't that nice.  Future teachers can pay for the privilege of helping schools out.  

Apprenticeships put a premium on the real world instead of the theoretical.  Substitute teaching teaches more about classroom management than 40 hours of education courses.  Two courses can teach some basics.  Experience should teach the rest. 

Right now, going to the most pampered and elite schools gives any aspiring professional a mark of distinction.  A broad based apprenticeship system  does the opposite.  Just as a Royal Navy midshipman earned respect by going on the yardarms in treacherous storms, aspiring teachers can earn the most professional respect by going to the schools and the districts that have the most challenges and need the most help. 

Finally, in the epidemic coverage of teachers gone wrong, a system of supervised apprenticeship helps the schools to vet out those who might be considered suspect. The downside is that this can include vetting out candidates who simply disagree with the ideals of their mentors.  But it also renders other potential problems much more easy to spot.

Teacher education in the current climate does not help the aspiring teacher.  Get students out of five years of high tuition and get them into schools where they can learn the craft, help the schools, and help themselves.