The best thing about being a columnist is that there’s never a shortage of material—especially the kind that leaves you shaking your head. The bad part is that there isn’t enough time to cover all those topics thoroughly.
So the following is a brief perspective on various events, many of which the media has missed:
Pennsylvania School Choice Disaster: For the last year, those fighting for educational reform (comprehensive choice in education) but against Senate Bill 1, the fatally-flawed bill in Harrisburg that would have neither educated nor reformed (and is now dead), were lectured on the merits of "incrementalism" by SB 1 proponents. "You have to get a little at a time," they scolded.
Well, despite never actually trying to pass a broader bill that would include the middle class—which is why school choice failed—the SB 1 folks (pushing the incremental approach) were smashingly successful. They set the entire Movement back incrementally. Comprehensive school choice passed the senate in 1991, and garnered 89 votes in the House (of the needed 102). In 1995, an even broader bill had 101 votes—just one shy. Yet in 2011, with a governor who made vouchers a top priority, with Republican majorities in both chambers and with millions of dollars for lobbying, the SB 1 forces couldn’t even get 90 votes.
So let’s see. In 20 years, we went from 89 to 101 to 90. Not exactly progress, but definitely incrementalism.
Political Motivation: The "politically motivated" charge is an overused—and meaningless—line uttered by those who refuse to confront the truth. Consider two recent examples, with the typical lack of follow-up by the media to call the complainers on the carpet:
Herman Cain is certainly an affable chap, but had no business running for president for two reasons. First, he was clueless on the issues, as his entertaining responses illustrated. Second, if you’re going to be under the most intense spotlight in the world, you need to be up front with your skeletons so that they are revealed on your terms. But Cain didn’t do that, and he got burned.
How could he possibly think that three sexual harassment suits wouldn’t come to light? In his announcement speech, he could have denied wrongdoing, blamed bloodthirsty trial lawyers and wimpy settle-happy insurance companies, and moved on. Instead, he just kept blaming Rick Perry and later the Democrats for leaking it, self-righteously stating that the story was "politically motivated."
Hey, Herman, here’s a newsflash. You were running for President of the United States! Of course it’s politically motivated! So what? It’s not whether something is politically motivated but whether the allegations were true—which the national media never seemed to ask. Politicians leak things about their opponents all the time, motivated by their desire to win. If he had just been honest from the beginning, he might still be in the race.
And locally, we have all the Democratic leaders fuming about the new congressional districts, redrawn every 10 years by the party in power in Harrisburg, which happens to be the GOP. Therefore—you guessed it—we have the Dems leveling the charge that the gerrymandered districts were drawn that way for political purposes (or, as one classicly described the new 7th District, "Meehan-mandered").
Let’s see. They are congressional seats, filled by … politicians. They are designed by … politicians. They will remain unchanged for the next decade, so the drawing was done for … political purposes. Where’s the surprise? That’s the way it’s always worked. Interestingly, the Dems’ statements could be swapped word for word with Republicans when they were out of power.
It would have been refreshing to hear a Democratic official be honest and say, "Yes, the districts suck for us. Kudos to the GOP. They got slaughtered in 2006 and 2008, but won when it counted (2010), and now we have to live with the results. It’s our party’s fault, so we’ll be sure to gear up in 2020 to gerrymander them to our liking."
But that type of honesty is just a pipe dream in politics.
Catholic Church changes: Church leaders decided that it would be a nice idea to substantially change the liturgy using new translations. Brilliant move. It took centuries for most Catholics to even begin mumbling the prayers at Sunday Mass (though singing is still nonexistent), and now they change the whole works? You can hear the crickets now …
Fair or not, it has also left many wondering why the Church spent so much time and energy on such an endeavor while still not cleaning up its own house regarding the (continuing) sex scandals. And not coincidentally, more Catholic school closings will be announced next month. Sorry, that’s not because of the economy, demographics and population shifts, but lack of leadership, very little transparency and an image of arrogance that will be very hard to break. Amen.
Safe to Fly? Think Again: A hugely important story that got very little attention is the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules that don’t require children under 12 to take their shoes off for x-ray inspection. Additionally, children will receive significantly fewer pat-downs. (Despite the inevitable claims by one or two whining parents, these pat-downs are not intrusive and the parents are never separated from their children during the procedure.)
Well, at least it’s reassuring that terrorists don’t know about this new policy. Oh wait … they do.
Not only do we implement such an insane, politically correct procedure, but gleefully announce it to the world. And since there are numerous examples of terrorists strapping bombs to their children’s bodies in the name of God knows what, does anyone really think they won’t gleefully accept this gift, change their strategy, and place explosives in Junior’s shoe?
And when the next disaster occurs, we’ll all stand around wondering how on Earth this could have happened. For that answer, just look to the TSA signs announcing the policy.
Of course, before that tragedy occurs, we could end the security theatre and start profiling, make everyone take off their shoes, and have no exceptions for pat-downs.
As always, those who don’t like it can take the bus to Europe.
And finally, for all the Eagles fans who have been praying for Andy Reid’s firing at the end of the season, keep dreaming. The Birds will play just well enough to keep the best three-quarter coach in football right where he is. After all, this is Philadelphia, and we revel in the misery heaped upon us, year after year, by boneheaded decisions made by our teams.
And you can take that $10,000 bet right to the bank.
RELATED: Andy Reid, Congress, Eagles, Education, Herman Cain, School Choice, Screw-Ups, Travel
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