Monday, February 25, 2013

Did Dorner Have a Point?

A hundred years after Lincoln’s assassination the following question might have taken on a humorous hue: “Putting aside the shooting, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

It’s indicative of the moral vacuity of our age that within twenty-four hours of the time Christopher Dorner murdered San Bernardino Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremiah MacKay, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin could pose this question to four panelists: “Take the murderous rampage out of it, would he have had a point?”

Even worse than Baldwin’s question was the positive response proffered by Columbia Professor Marc Lamont Hill. Hill was almost giddy in his insistence that Dorner’s “manifesto” had prompted “an important conversation” about police brutality and corruption.

Hill also noted that Dorner had been “like a real life superhero to many people” who were rooting for him to extract vengeance against a system that had wronged him. Judging by his tone and enthusiasm, Hill clearly sympathized with those moral cretins for whom Dorner’s murderous rampage was “almost like watching ‘Django Unchained’ in real life. It’s kind of exciting.”

Parenthetically, Hill conceded that “what [Dorner] did was awful” and that “killing innocent people [is] bad,” but quickly refocused on the murderer’s manifesto that proved “he wasn’t entirely crazy.”

One wonders if Hill bothered to read this document that combined vulgar self-justification and bizarre cultural commentary with angry accusations against the Los Angeles Police Department. The manifesto reached all the way back to Dorner’s bitter resentment toward a first grade principal who “swatted” both him and a “fellow student” that young Dorner had punched and kicked for calling him the n-word.

Those collected “injustices” (real or perceived) were used by Dorner to justify the murder of 28-year-old Monica Quan, an assistant basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton, along with her fiancĂ©e, Keith Lawrence—a promising young black officer at The University of Southern California’s Department of Public Safety.

Dorner’s feelings of victimization also justified, in his self-obsessed mind, the killing of Riverside police officer Michael Crain and the aforementioned deputy Jeremiah MacKay, neither of whom worked for LAPD but both of whom left behind wives and two young children.

Put more accurately, Brooke Baldwin’s question would look like this: Putting aside the murder of two completely innocent young people and putting aside the murder of two non-LAPD police officers and ignoring the pain endured by those officers’ wives, Regina and Lynette, and dismissing from consideration the tears of Regina’s children, Ian (10) and Kaitlyn (4) as well as those of MacKay’s 7-year-old stepdaughter and 4-month-old son—did Dorner have a point?

No one who asks such a question or responds with a positive answer possesses a functioning moral compass.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Celebrities can only safely spout leftist dogma

Rancho Santa Fe’s Phil Mickelson landed in a gnarly political hazard a few weeks ago when he said he might be making some major changes due to recent increases in state and national tax rates—increases that specifically target rich folks like him.

The mavens of permissible public discourse immediately descended on Lefty for these “insensitive” remarks. This feeding frenzy produced a couple of quick mea culpas from Mickelson for exercising the freedom of speech that’s employed in intolerant spades by celebrities whose ideas mirror those of President Obama and his adoring media gallery.

Mickelson noted in his two recovery attempts that he shouldn’t have used his golf fame as a forum for airing thoughts about his “personal” economic situation. He also issued an apology to those who might have found his remarks “insensitive”—such as “people who are not able to find a job” or those “struggling paycheck to paycheck.”

Since Phil’s originally unscripted comments included the figures 62 and 63 percent, CNN and CNBC dutifully published articles designed to discredit Mickelson’s math and to assure the nation’s tax-the-rich entitlement crowd that the golfer was “only” paying about half his income to various governments. The exact percentage depended, one piece speculated, on the skill of his tax accountant and the amount Mickelson donates to charity.

It speaks volumes about the mindset of this analyst that Mickelson’s substantial generosity would be employed against him and that those funds would be placed on the golfer’s side of the accounting ledger simply because they aren’t dispersed by the duffers in Sacramento and Washington D.C. By this reasoning Mickelson could keep most of his money—as long as he gives it away.

Significantly, no major repercussions ensued when Chris Rock and scores of other celebrities thoroughly trashed former President Bush or employed their professional forums to lionize Mr. Obama. Similarly, Alec Baldwin received much less grief in 1998 for passionately “kidding” about “stoning” GOP Rep. Henry Hyde “and his family” than Clint Eastwood encountered last year for his comic anti-Obama performance at the Republican national convention. Indeed, Baldwin is now the commercial spokesman for Capital One.

Clearly Mickelson’s tax comments were closer to the middle of the fairway than the outrageous political hooks and slices regularly proffered by leftwing celebs.

It’s uncertain if Mickelson will follow the advice of Texas governor Rick Perry and the example of Tiger Woods and move to a state that doesn’t practice the politics of envy or hold rich folks responsible for the economic distress of others. What’s obvious is that mainstream media will severely penalize any public figure who doesn’t meekly accept Gov. Brown’s and President Obama’s dubious economic club selections.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

CTA and API: How to Frustrate School Reform

If a parent knew that in 2012 Menifee’s Paloma Valley High School had a score of 814 on the state’s Academic Performance Index and in the prior year received a score of 819, how helpful would that information be?

Moms and dads can easily discover that the state sets a target score of 800 for all schools and thus be assured that Paloma Valley meets this basic standard. Knowing more precisely what goes into calculating the API number, however, is an exercise best left to folks who don’t mind observing how sausage is made.

I invite individuals with a strong cognitive stomach to peruse the state’s Academic Performance Index information guide—and especially it’s multi-page answer to the question, “What is the API?”

The short version is that the API combines a number of variously weighted tests into a single number between 200 and 1000. Dangerously inquisitive minds can explore the specific weights and tests on the California Department of Education’s website.

I commented back in 1999 when the Public Schools Accountability Act was passed by the legislature that if politicians wished to obfuscate information about education, they could hardly do better than creating this hyper-opaque system.

Not surprisingly, various components of the API have been tweaked since its inception—a fact that makes it impossible to accurately compare results from earlier years with more recent data.

Moreover, last fall Governor Brown signed a bill (SB 1458) sponsored by Sen. Darrell Steinberg that will further modify the API by de-emphasizing standardized tests and including in the numerical mix factors like technical training, graduation and college attendance rates.

In his effusive praise of this educational placebo, Steinberg graciously acknowledged that the API is not “the cause of all our school woes” and even conceded that his numerical sugar pill didn’t constitute a “singular solution.” The notion, however, that this new tweak might, in the senator’s words, “fundamentally change public education in California” is laughable.

What might actually change public schools where an Hispanic mom discovered that her sixth grader was reading at a first grade level or where two veteran teachers were recently accused of molesting dozens of children within the same L.A. Unified District would be institutional changes that reduce the power of the California Teachers Association—a group that actually helped kill legislation making it easier to fire teachers accused of sexual misconduct against students.

For now, laws giving parents the ability to restructure failing schools (the “parent-trigger” law) and to transfer their kids to different public schools are two of the best tools available in a state where the CTA exercises immense change-frustrating power.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

The Politicizing and Sexualizing of History

In July of 2011 Governor Brown approved a first-in-the-nation bill that requires California public schools to add lessons about gay history to social studies classes.

More specifically, the law puts “sexual orientation” alongside women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, and other classifications as groups that must be included in lessons about their members’ social contributions. Starting in the 2013-14 school year, this legislation also prohibits schools from using instructional materials that reflect adversely on gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

When he signed the law, Brown declared that “history should be honest.” In all likelihood this new requirement sponsored by San Francisco State Senator Mark Leno will make classes even more politicized than they already are.

Significantly, SB 48 places homosexual, bisexual, and transgender individuals alongside various racial and ethnic groups—implying that “sexual orientation” is a purely genetic trait and that teachers could find themselves in hot water if other possible causes for these “orientations” are considered.

Despite decades of ideologically motivated attempts to find a purely biological basis for homosexuality, it has become clear that genetics is only one among many possible causative factors—like parental dynamics, abuse, and cultural mores. The inclusion of bisexuality and transgender folks into this omnibus classification makes a genes-alone, same-as-race assumption even more problematic.

One wonders whether presenting the cultural component for homosexuality in ancient Greece’s Spartan culture would fit into or violate this law’s inclusive-but-non-discriminatory requirements. (I’ve never heard anyone address this obvious example of the impact of culture on “sexual orientation.”)

Even before SB 48, students have regularly been given misleading information about AIDS as an equal opportunity disease—in the name of political correctness. In fact, the vast majority of these cases impact homosexuals and IV drug users.

The Center for Disease Control’s website notes that among American men 13 and over, almost 80% of new HIV infections in 2009 and 2010 involved homosexual relations—a statistic that could “reflect adversely” on a now-specially-recognized class of individuals.

One also wonders if California’s new history standards would permit teachers to honestly discuss the fraudulent and even criminal activities undertaken by the bisexual sado-masochist Alfred Kinsey—an individual whose “contribution” to society can be measured by the proliferation of pornography and the frequency with which adults now abuse children, a group Kinsey grotesquely sexualized.

I doubt that Dr. Judith Reisman’s books about the perverse zoologist’s legacy (“Sexual Sabotage” and “Kinsey, Crimes & Consequences”) will be on the reading list of SB-48 conforming classrooms this fall—or any information that conflicts with PC renderings of the past.

In sum, history designed to boost the self-esteem of select groups isn’t “honest” history.