A struggling political operative by the name of Mike Basford is attempting to master the blogging profession. He is calling his blog "Basford's Spin City."
It is Isthmus's attempt to abate the ire of the torch-bearing mob, incensed that the bastion of Leftist exposition would allow your congenial host to challenge the one true (but unexamined) faith. To balance the scholarly erudition of yours truly, The Daily Page sought some reasoned reflections from the Left side of the political spectrum. Failing that, they got Basford.
I don't mind throwing business his way, since we both line up at the same paymaster's counter. Go visit his blog but keep your windows rolled up and your car doors locked. It helps if you have OnStar and a paid-up insurance policy.
In response to my "Long Hot Summer" blog, Basford counters:
Most of us are spending this weekend grilling and chilling, working in our yards and keeping in our thoughts those who sacrificed for our country and the reason for the upcoming holiday.
Others in our community and around America are working overtime to try and keep us frightened. From Cheney's snarl to Blaska's Blog, there are those who want us afraid and want to exploit that fear for no other reason than their political ends. Those tactics didn't work for the Republicans in 2006 and 2008, they didn't work for Nancy Mistele in April and they won't work for Dave Glomp next year.
That small minority that insist on spending their time and energy cowering in their homes and hoarding guns while waiting for instructions from Glenn Beck can have that. Meanwhile, like the rest of America, I'm going to check to see if the burgers are done. [Basford's Spin City]
That's right, SpinMeister Mike. I'm only trying to scare people. BOO! Are you scared? Bu-wha-ha-ha.
Thanks for calling me on my ruse. I made up the stuff about kids wrecking lawn decorations. The bullets fired into Meadowood Shopping Center in the busy drive-home time? Pulp fiction. The gang with baseball bats breaking car windows? Where did I ever get that one! And kids spewing the M-F word at high decibels? We all know that today's young'uns don't use no profanity.
The Dick Cheney reference was spot-on. A small criticism, you forgot to invoke talk radio and the Christian Right.
Setting aside the sarcasm for now, the Left congratulates itself on the depth of its compassion. Another myth exploded! Wait, I forgot. You guys are fresh out of tears for the victims of crime, most of whom had it coming anyway. According to your narrative, they're all racists and the Iraq war has something to do with it. Oil, Cheney, Big Corporations, racism, Rush Limbaugh, welfare reform, NAFTA, yadda yadda.
A word of utmost sincerity: ignoring anti-social behavior does no favor to the victim or the perpetrator. Some of these young folks need an intervention and soon, lest they come to the same sad ends as their biological parents. (I must qualify the noun "parent" that way because, in its most usual sense, the word denotes the transitive verb "to parent" in the sense of coitus being only the prelude to the ensuing responsibilities. We know that is not happening in too many cases.)
Enjoy your burgers, Basford. I'll enjoy mine at Stately Blaska Manor, with a chilled sauvignon blanc - if Ruben Mamoulian hasn't barricaded himself in the wine cellar again. But give a thought to those less fortunate than you - and some attention to the reason why others gave their lives in the ultimate act of unselfishness.
I do not think those heroes died for the First Amendment "right" to spew the M-F word at Flad Park. In my old age, I'm working on this little corner of the world.
They are called "no excuses" schools.
They are charter schools operated by the Harlem Children's Zone, not the teacher's union-riddled New York City school district. New York Times columnist David Brooks took a close look at one of them, a middle school called "Promise Academy." These schools
pay meticulous attention to behavior and attitudes. They teach students how to look at the person who is talking, how to shake hands.
The very stuff of which I spoke in "Loll not the tongue." As I quoted historian Richard Brookhiser, "externals of life" that "can strike us as superficial. Yet ...externals have a way of working inwards." David Brooks continues:
The basic theory is that middle-class kids enter adolescence with certain working models in their heads: what I can achieve; how to control impulses; how to work hard. Many kids from poorer, disorganized homes don't have these internalized models. The schools create a disciplined, orderly and demanding counterculture to inculcate middle-class values.
The usual teachers' union nostrums - reducing class size, raising teacher pay - improve results by 0.1 to 0.3 "standard deviations." Promise Academy produced gains of 1.3 and 1.4 standard deviations. "That's off the charts," Brooks writes.
Some experts, mostly surrounding the education establishment, argue that schools alone can't produce big changes. The problems are in society, and you have to work on broader issues like economic inequality. [Brooks, The N.Y. Times, " The Harlem Miracle"]
A common failing of liberal thinkers (if that is not an oxymoron) is to reach for broad, systemic solutions. Anything less does not get at the "root causes." These are generally held to be poverty, racial discrimination, and lack of "family supporting" jobs.
It's the syndrome that makes The Capital Times call for "smart programs to help families" - whatever that means - instead of reasonable curfew hours for children.
Maybe it's the other way around. Conservatives believe that people are performers who write their own outcomes. Destructive performances - substance abuse, school truancy, criminal behavior - make poverty in the flushest of times. Put another way, productive people produce productive societies, not the other way around. Let's face it, this country was peopled by those looking for opportunity, not a softer safety net.
The small and the particular.
Confusing cause and result
Dane County, the State of Wisconsin, and these United States are engaged in a fundamental logical fallacy of equating racial disparities with racism.
On the federal level, Attorney General Eric Holder is leading a task force looking at racial disparities in drug sentencing. Gov. Jim E. Doyle has a task force investigating the racial imbalance of state prisons compared to population. Dane County is doing likewise.
They are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal notes that half of the black representatives in Congress voted for greater penalties for crack than for powder cocaine, "Nor are these critics overly concerned with whether the black population is helped or hurt when crack dealers are locked up longer for pushing a drug that has had an especially devastating effect on black communities."
One of the more effective ways to address this problem is by providing black children with decent schooling. Repeated studies have shown an inverse relationship between educational attainment and the likelihood of incarceration. Our prison are not teeming with high school and college graduates and it is no coincidence that cities with high crime rates also tend to have low-performing public schools."
Of course, the Democrat(ic) majority in Congress is busy trying to scuttle Washington D.C.'s school choice program. ("The latest evaluation by his own Education Department showed [school choice participants] - 99% of whom are black or Hispanic - outperforming their publicschool peers in reading.