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Another well-educated dumbass

harvardA piece published Friday in Harvard Magazine is the latest salvo fired in the left’s never-ending battle against homeschooling.  This battle has picked up steam in the past few weeks with millions of Americans becoming involuntary homeschoolers.  However this new article in the august journal makes no mention at all of COVID-19 when it talks about the risk of homeschooling.  In short, Professor Elizabeth Bartholet argues for a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling.

I’ll take on her points one-by-one.

“Homeschooling not only violates children’s right to a “meaningful education” and their right to be protected from potential child abuse, but may keep them from contributing positively to a democratic society.

Two things.  Number one, there is no “right” to a meaningful education.  Nor to ANY education.  Just because something is a good idea does not make it a “right.”  Educations have to be provided.  If it is a “right,” then you are also assuming the right to conscript teachers to perform this service for whatever you decide to pay them—if you decide to pay them at all.  A lot of government mischief has come about because of the misattribution of “right” status to things that are simply “desirable.”

Secondly, her assertion that putting kids in schools protects them from child abuse is silly beyond belief.  If a child has abusive parents their chances of being abused does NOT increase if they are being homeschooled.  This is a college professor, folks.

“We have an essentially unregulated regime in the area of homeschooling, if you look at the legal regime governing homeschooling, there are very few requirements that parents do anything.”

Well, Brainiac I can tell you that in Virginia we are required to have our children periodically be tested to make sure they have mastered basic skills.  Ours have passed these ridiculously easy tests with flying colors.  My 13-year old autistic son recently observed, “Why I am taking a test for little children?”  They both scored in the upper-90 percentiles.  (Dad Brag).

Apart from that, why should you be concerned about the *manner* in which my kids are educated?  If they have the basic skills, what else do you need to know? Our journeys may take different routes, but if we arrive at the same destination, what’s the problem?

“Surveys of homeschoolers show that a majority of such families (by some estimates, up to 90 percent) are driven by conservative Christian beliefs, and seek to remove their children from mainstream culture. Some of these parents are extreme religious ideologues who question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy.”

And there we have it.  It is DANGEROUS for Christians to be able to educate their children in a non-secular environment!  Why they might miss out on Drag Queen Story Reading Time for pre-schoolers; or Middle School Teachers passing along vital information like demonstrating how to put a condom on a banana!  Homeschooling also means there’s also virtually no chance kids can be suspended for eating a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.

It is also instructive that a word search on her other published material produced no similar concerns from the good professor on Muslim parents homeschooling their children.  Weird.

Hey, professor!  Surveys ALSO show homeschooled children routinely have higher test scores, lower rates of teenage pregnancy and drug use, along with better performance at college and universities.  We wouldn’t want any of THAT would we?

In public schools, Karens like Bartholet can better ensure that “children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.”

Ah yes…tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.  Unless they’re Christian homeschoolers.  Spare me.

“Many of these parents have authoritarian control over their children. It’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.

Oh the irony.  So what the ever-so-smart professor is saying is that the burden of proof should be on parents to get permission to homeschool from the government.  Well she is only 100% wrong.  Our children don’t belong to the government.  The only way you think this way is if you believe that children actually belong to the State.

The bottom-line issue is the same as it ever was. Control. Those of the liberal persuasion (and those who already are in positions of authority) require a populace that is JUST smart enough to contribute, but without possessing any pesky intellectual curiosity. Their ideas work best when people think feelings are a substitute for thought…when people react rather than respond…and when people don’t ask “Why” too much.

I think this decades-old quote from one of my favorite pundits still applies today.

“I Would Rather Be Governed By the First 2,000 People in the Telephone Directory than by the Harvard University Faculty.” – William F. Buckley Jr.

Corona Blues

I haven’t written much long-form stuff since the COVID-19 pandemic began.  Yes, I was pretty skeptical of the claims at first.  That’s what happens when you’ve survived about two-dozen previous claims of WORST VIRUS EVAH!  It’s looking like this will be worse than the others, but well short of the Black Death.

 

betty coronaMost of my concern has been over our response.  That includes the near-shutdown of the greatest economic engine ever seen in human history, AND the unmitigated glee some have shown as they report their fellow citizens to the Schutzstaffel for jogging by themselves on a beach—or participating in a drive-in Easter Service—or playing catch with their little girl in the park.  It takes a concerted effort to undo several years of economic progress in a couple of weeks while cultivating a climate of snitching.  Fear is still an unchallenged #1 as the greatest human motivator.

 

I have unpopularly said several times that I do not think the reaction is commensurate with the threat.  Those living in hyperbolic chambers until this blows over have been indignant.  “How DARE you!  PROVE IT!”

It is impossible to prove or disprove.  Despite any model you may have seen there is no way we will ever know for sure if this global social distancing has made a great difference.  Oh I’m sure it has made SOME difference.  But has it been enough to justify the trillions of dollars in additional spending our children will have to pay for?  Is it worth the new powers that government has exercised?

 

My favorite counter-arguments have revolved around the canard that “If it saves just ONE life, it’s worth it!”  Well, not really.  That is a callous thing for me to say, of course.  But we make value judgements like that every day.  It’s true.

 

Despite the high regard we all have for human life (especially our own) we consistently do things that could shorten or end them. For some it’s eating way too much of the wrong things.  For others it’s tempting the ghost of Wile E. Coyote by crossing train tracks.  We do it by it hurtling through the air at several thousand miles per hours in a pressurized tube…or by zooming at 75 mph down an Interstate in a two-ton machine.

Why do we do such things?  Simple.  We value their benefits more than we fear the potential risks. There would NEVER be another fatal plane crash if we outlawed aviation.  But our economy and our very way of life would suffer.  So we have made the decision that flying is worth the risk.

 

How would you respond to someone who claims that because you believe in flying you WANT people to die fiery deaths.  You would ignore them, laugh at them or give them a fat lip for such nonsense.  Why, then, do we let people get away with arguing in favor of ANY government restriction in a pandemic with the defense that “it might save someone’s life!”?

 

Safety is an important thing, but it is not the ONLY thing. If our standard is “no reasonable risk of harm,” then there is very little human activity you cannot disqualify.  And let’s face it—all of the really FUN things contain an element of risk.  Drinking, smoking, eating red eat, driving fast, having a second dessert, sneaking into the drive-in, splitting Kings at the blackjack table.

 

In a perfect world governments wuld enact only policies that are driven by science and common sense, that are proportionate to the risks, and that do not last any longer than is absolutely necessary.

 

In my lifetime, we have averaged about one pandemic scare every three-to-four years.  I am worried that our (mostly) passive acceptance of restrictions in this instance will make Government more willing to institute similar policies during the next one—even if the threat is markedly smaller.  After all…”If it saves just one life!”

 

We MUST make sure that we don’t allow this unique period in our history to make us receptive to the idea that Government can take drastic measures under most any pretense.

Media Malpractice in the Coronavirus Age

The New York Times offered coverage of a conference call President Trump had this morning with various state and local officials about the coronavirus pandemic.  Intrepid reporter Julie Bosman had the byline, and tweeted out what she felt was the lede element of the story.

 

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Wow, indeed!  Sounds like Trump is being an asshole…again.  Bosman’s fellow reporters followed up her tweet.

 

nyt2nyt3

But a funny thing happened on the way to grab the tar, feathers and pitchforks.  It turns out there was a bit more that Trump had to say.  Quite a bit more.  The FULL quote includes these comments.

 

“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves.  We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”

 

Hmmm…that puts the quote in an entirely different context, doesn’t it?  It correctly frames the comment as part of a suggestion that local/regional procurement is much more cost-effective and less time-consuming than federal action.  Omitting this part of the quote makes it sound like Trump is telling the localities “you’re on your own.”  Even one of the “reporters” used that interpretation to punctuate their tweet with “WOW!”

 

Of course, that is *exactly* what they were hoping for.  All three of these reporters intentionally left out the second part of the quote because it would have nullified their goal of casting Trump in a negative light.

 

This is journalistic malpractice.  And it is also par for the course.  Truly objective journalism is now about as rare as four-leaf clovers and quarterbacks who remain in the pocket.  It is frustrating that even in a time of national crisis, we can’t depend on reporters to give us basic information without blatantly and willfully misleading us.  We cannot rely on the mainstream media to simply tell us what was said and what happened without them seeing it as an opportunity to score those oh-so-precious “political points” against someone they don’t like.

 

Even MORE frustrating are the people who insist that papers like the Washington Post and New York Times are straight arrows who are doing nothing more than calling balls and strikes.  If the mountain of evidence that I and many others have cited over the years is not enough to change your minds, your minds can NOT be changed.

 

But the MOST frustrating thing is that nothing will change.  These three reporters will never have to answer for this. They will continue on as de facto DNC stenographers and no one will bat an eye.  They will die and go to hell insisting that they are morally-upright paragons of truth, justice and the American Way.

 

Everybody PANIC!

panic_button“Is it a pandemic yet?” “Is it a pandemic yet?” “Is it a pandemic yet?” “Is it a pandemic yet?”

 

I imagine scientists with the World Health Organization are positively tingling these days. They have their “black plague.” Or at least they hope they do.  And THIS TIME they mean it!

 

Please forgive me if I’m not ready to stock up on antibiotics, hand sanitizer, Kleenex, chicken soup, ginger ale and Vitamin C. I don’t feel particularly compelled to buy in to Corona Virus panic just yet.

 

I course, if I die from this, you can file this blog post under “tragic irony.”  Oh well.  A chance I’m willing to take.  You see once you have lived through more than a half-century you have been exposed to thousands of things that most assuredly will spell Doomsday for you.  After the 100th false alarm you begin tuning them out.

 

Scientists who portended the end of the world with the Avian Flu 15 years ago, the Swine Flu 10 years ago, and (etc etc etc) are crossing their collective fingers, hoping they can say, “I told you so!” this time around. Never mind that Corona Virus has claimed fewer lives worldwide in the past week than have accidents involving livestock. (True statistic!) The Powers That Be won’t let a chance for a good crisis to go unexploited.

 

Corona Virus may be a legitimate concern, but it’s more likely that it’s the 2020 version of the “Shark Attack” scare—a scare that was wiped off of the headlines following 9-11-01.

 

Folks, I was in the news business for nearly thirty years. I know that nothing draws listeners (or viewers or readers) more than a good headline story. You can’t get much deeper in terms of public interest than “National Health Scare!” But let’s face facts. How many times have the scientific community cried “wolf?”

 

Doomsday scientists are swarming around the Corona Virus scare for the same reason that the Weather Channel executives root for maximum damage from tornadoes and hurricanes. It makes them relevant. No one gives a damn about Jim Cantore when it’s sunny and 72 degrees. No one calls the Centers for Disease Control when they’re feeling fine.

 

Of course more than just the usual suspects are touting the Bubonic Potential of Corona Virus.  Those who support any and every expansion of government power are also champing at the bit to use this scare as an excuse to erode civil liberties—even if just for a little while.  Remember the two rules of Statists:

  1. During an emergency, anti-democratic measures are needed to ensure public safety, national security, and the nation itself.

  1. There is always an emergency.

 And there is the additional layer of intrigue with Corona Virus, coming as it does during a Donald Trump Presidency.  The same people who just KNEW the Mueller Report was going to bring him down, that Ukraine Gate was going to send him packing are now flush with the possibility that a bungled response could boost the chances of whatever empty suit they nominate of becoming the 46th President of the United States.  Of course these are the same people who will bray with righteous indignation at any attempt by Trump or his supporters to “politicize the crisis!”

 

We know what will happen.  There will be a handful of American deaths from this before it runs it’s course.  Trump’s opponents will put the faces of the victims on metaphorical (or maybe even literal) billboards, suggesting that Trump did everything but personally inject them with the virus.

GOD I hate some people.

 

So join me, won’t you, in rejecting the hype. That is, of course, until you die in a livestock-related accident!

Our Top Cops are crooked

fisa fbiThis is a stunning development. But because of it’s nature I get the feeling that it won’t get a great deal of attention from certain members of the “unbiased” mainstream media.

What is it? Oh, nothing much. Just a FISA court body-slamming the FBI for its mishandling of the Carter Page FISA applications.  In what I can only call an extraordinary rebuke of the agency, the court goes on to say those abuses by the bureau call into question the accuracy of its other FISA applications. WOW!

Federal Judge Rosemary Collier calls the FBI’s handling of the Page FISA warrants “antithetical to the heightened duty of candor.”  She was just getting warmed up.

“The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable.”
Now remember, the FISA court has extraordinary powers in the wake of 9-11.  The vast majority of their work is done in secret.  As such we have VERY little in the ways of checks and balances against possible abuse.  It is the closest thing we have to a Star Chamber.  Because of that it is imperative that they make decisions based on honest and well-intentioned information-gathering procedures done by federal investigators and prosecutors.  That did not happen in this case.  And it is perfectly fair to question the FBI’s motives and methods in other cases.

Many of you who know me know I have said relatively little about the entire impeachment affair. What’s to say, really?  We more or less know what Trump did.  The only question is…does it merit impeachment?  Those who hate the very air Trump breathes had their minds made up long before any of this.  Ditto those who worship the ground on which he walks.

I have always had a high bar for impeachment.  To me, it amounts to the ultimate rebuke against a person who is entrusted with so much power.  As such I’ve always held that it should be reserved for Benedict Arnold-levels of treason and malfeasance.  Today, though, the terms “impeachment” and “recall” are tossed around like nickels…deployed when there is even the slightest policy agreement with ANY politician.  That is not a good thing.

But it is becoming clearer and clearer that the information which led to most of the Mueller investigation (and the ancillary probes) was based on a dishonest and bad faith effort by the FBI.  You can try and make the claim that this was a “few rogue agents.”  If you believe that you probably bought our former President’s explanation for the IRS scandal as coming from “rogue agents in Cincinnati.”  When we juxtapose the FBI’s behavior in this case with the trove of private e-mails of top agents who clearly despise Trump—well, it’s not hard to put two-and-two together.

C’mon now. Even you card-carrying Trump-haters who STILL have one of the Robert Mueller votive candles have to admit this information about the FBI is pretty damned bad. Right? No?

OK then. Imagine if these exact same shady procedures had been done to launch an investigation against then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008.  Would your opinion of the agency be different? Do you think one or two folks *might* have suggested racial bias within the FBI?

No, I get the impression that you would have not been an “ends justify the means” kinda guy under THOSE circumstances.

When we learned from the IG report that the FBI had committed 17 “errors” in the FISA process, the agency’s defenders wrote them off as “honest mistakes” and the agency themselves claimed “vindication.”  That was hilarious.  All 17 of those “mistakes” went in the same direction.  That is to say, all of them were bent in favor of pushing the court to authorize surveillance on Trump.  If these were truly “mistakes,” would not some of them have inadvertently fallen in Trump’s favor?  Law of averages and all that?  You are asking me to believe that a flipped coin landed on heads 17 straight times.

If a cop finds drugs on a motorist during an illegal stop and search on an Interstate, none of that evidence is admissible in court.  The officer is fired or disciplined, and every one of his or her previous arrests comes under scrutiny.  Will something similar happen with the FBI?  They knowingly submitted false information to a FISA court, while simultaneously withholding key information, in order to get a warrant to spy on an American citizen.   In a just world agents are arrested, charged and sent to jail.  This is a MAJOR violation of the trust we place in the hands of one of the most powerful agencies in our nation.

Of course the smart money says nothing will happen.  But I feel perfectly safe in stating that the FBI is a crooked agency and We the People are in trouble.

Who checks the fact-checkers?

dem debateRemember the Democratic Presidential debate where every candidate raised their hand when asked to “raise your hand if your government plan would provide coverage for undocumented immigrants?” It was a touching show of solidarity from a group of people who are pretty much on the same page when it comes to ignoring any restraints to government power and authority.
 
Since then, GOP operatives have (understandably) used this in their advertising. They claim Democratic candidates said they wanted to give free health care to illegals.  You don’t need a political guru to figure this is something to take advantage of.
 
Not so fast, says the holy, unimpeachable fact-checkers at PolitiFact! They correctly point out that the debate in question featured only HALF of the Democratic candidates. OK. Fine. The fact that every one of them raised their hands certainly suggests a broad consensus, but if you want to nitpick about this, go for it.
 
But no. The sacrosanct fact-checkers take it a bit further. Evidently they are drawing a clear distinction between wanting to “give free health care to illegals,” and “providing coverage for undocumented immigrants.” Seriously. That microscopic distinction was enough for them to take an obviously-true statement and rate it as “Mostly False.”
 
Let ME ask for a show of hands. If you hear that the government is going to provide something to you, isn’t the assumption that it will come at no direct cost? That is to say, without you having to shell out beyond your regular tax burden?  Let’s put it another way.  If the candidates supported a proposal to “provide people with cars,” wouldn’t that mean that you would get your car without having to cut a check? Is that not a reasonable expectation?
 
This is Clintonian-level word-parsing.  This exceedingly-minor difference is enough for the brave firefighters at PolitiFact to take an obvious truth that was broadcast to millions of people and call it a lie.  Well, “Mostly False,” at least.
 
Keep this in mind when someone cites a PolitiFact fact check as the final and unassailable Word of God.  Much like the Mainstream Media hides behind the cloak afforded them by their status as “journalists” to produce a steady stream of hackery; Politifact and their ilk do likewise while shielding themselves under the rubric of being saintly fact-checkers.
If you want to be a hack, that’s fine.  But embrace it. Don’t pretend to be something else.  That makes you look like a filthy, mendacious coward.

The 2019 Endorsements from Chuck’s Common Sense

Let’s see…Halloween hangover, rotting leaves, my favorite college football teams seeing their post-season hopes fade away.  Yup.  It must be time for an election.

 

And with that comes the once-coveted round of endorsements from Chuck’s Common Sense.  In bygone days the means by which these endorsements were secured changed the course of human history.  These days, I can be bought with a case of beer.

 

I will focus on events in my hometown, so most of you probably won’t give a rip.  That’s fine.  Hopefully you can find something entertaining regardless.  You get what you pay for.

 

In my hometown of Danville-Virginia there is a contested House of Delegates race…but it is contested in name only.  Full disclosure: I have done digital production work for Republican Delegate Danny Marshall who is seeking re-election.  Even if that were NOT the case, this would be a no-brainer.

 

Marshall’s opponent, political newcomer Eric Stamps, is a self-avowed Democratic Socialist in the vein of Bernie Sanders.  It’s a cute little philosophy…if you possess a fourth grade understanding of math, economics and basic human behavior.

 

DhQxHl0U8AAjHvwIf we are to take them at face value, what Democratic Socialists want is not really socialism. What they want is highly-taxed, heavily-regulated Capitalism to fund all of their great ideas. The problem is, Capitalism doesn’t flourish under such conditions. To pay for their good ideas, they will have to go MUCH further. Because what happens when this great engine stalls and sputters under their regulatory yoke and is no longer able to produce the revenue needed to make college free for everyone?

 

Why does socialism inevitably fail? Because it ignores our inherent desire for ownership. Shared means of production means no private property—this, no ownership. Without ownership, there is no incentive for innovation or improvement.  Forced mediocrity produces only an equality of misery.  History is littered with such examples. You can dress it up with the “Democratic” qualifier; but the envy that serves as the primary fuel remains the same.

 

Marshall is a reliable and steady conservative voice for Southside Virginia.  He eschews “the politics of politics.”  He’s a good man.

CCS proudly endorses Danny Marshall in the 14th district House of Delegates race.

 

The only other contested race in my area is the 20th District State Senate race.  Republican incumbent Bill Stanley faces a challenge from Independent Sherman Witcher.  I’m not Stanley’s biggest fan.  I think he is a politician first and a Senator second.  On several occasions I think he has been obtusely partisan when it was not necessary.  Still, he has a reliable conservative record, and has explored some out-of-the-box solutions on issues like health care and education.  His opponent, Witcher, is a perennial candidate for….something.

CCS endorses Bill Stanley in the 20th district Senate Race.

 

In Danville, voters will answer a pari-mutual betting question on the ballot.  If approved, it would allow Colonial Downs to open one of their Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums in Danville.

 

I am probably the LAST person who will darken the doors of this place, once it opens.  I have never even purchased a lottery ticket.  I have a basic understanding of math and the “thrill” that some people get from wagering is completely foreign to me.

 

Still, I will be an enthusiastic YES vote on this question.  As a libertarian I will support just about ANY effort to create jobs.  I would vote for a brothel.  Federal laws notwithstanding, I would support an opium den.  Also as a libertarian, I think it takes an unadulterated amount of hubris to tell people what they can and cannot do.  Some people have no problem doing that.  I don’t like those people.

 

CCS urges a “yes” vote on Pari-Mutual betting in Danville-Virginia

 

Although my endorsements are limited to local races, there is the specter of Democrats taking both houses of the General Assembly.  With Democrats simultaneously occupying the top three positions of the Executive Branch, that is bad news for people who cherish individual liberty.  With Democratic legislative AND executive control, there is no apparent obstacle to passing gun control laws that would make our Commonwealth more closely resemble California.  And while abortion is not my favorite issue to discuss, such a scenario would offer NO protection against a bill like the despicable one introduced last year by Kathy Tran from becoming law.

 

The social and political divides that pits US coastal and rural dwellers are played out on a smaller scale here in Virginia, where large swaths of “the sticks” are being overtaken by the ever-expanding suburbs and exburbs of Northern Virginia.  As would befit a population composed of a disproportionate number of federal government workers, Northern Virginia is VERY fond of policies that expand the power of government.  Unlike at the Federal Level, where minorities have protections afforded by Federalist principles like The Senate and The Electoral College; Virginia is strictly a democracy.  The biggest mob wins.

 

It is my fervent hope that at least one house of the Virginia General Assembly remains under Republican control.  That would serve as an effective check against people who think that all power comes from government and is shared with We the People.  It is the exact opposite.

 

CCS HEARTILY endorses a divided General Assembly…or a GOP-controlled legislature.

 

So there you have it.  There’s still time to send me a case of beer and change my mind.

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