Friday, November 4, 2011

Prove it!

This sound clip is for all of those who cling to the idea that we are just making all of this "socialist" stuff up. People want proof that those in power have socialist and/or Marxist beliefs and are doing their best to make those beliefs into policy.

Well, if that crap heap of socialist healthcare that was forced on us isn't enough proof, how about this?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tea Party vs. Occupy Wall Street

Posted by South Park Diva

I sent this email to my family and some of my friends last night:

My friends and family - as you go through your busy days, I hope you will take the time to read this email and follow the links I have provided. This is not a time to be uninformed about what is going on in our country. Period. It is a time of prayer and preparation. Kierstin

Protesters Stage Performance Against the Police?

It seems pretty clear that the police are being set up. We've had situations recently where people are taunting the police and chanting a countdown to charge them, as others are ready with their cameras to record every move. And now this latest - obviously a setup, hoping to pit these "good, moral people" (who are anything but) against our nation's police officers. Pray for our men and women in uniform around the country and the globe.

So who are these "young, enthusiastic" people "occupying" our major cities. Most in the media would have you believe that they are "everyman" - that they are like the Tea Party only much, much better, nicer, friendlier, whatever. Not quite.

The next time someone tells you that the Tea Party is a violent and racist movement, while those who Occupy Wall Street, Atlanta and other cities are "just like you and me", think on this - not one Tea Partier has been arrested in any protests or gatherings. Tea Partiers clean up after themselves. They get the proper permits to be in an area. They respect the police. They do not urinate or defecate in public - especially not on police cars. They do not distribute condoms, so that they can have sex on public streets and in parks. They do not march with someone's "head" on pike. They do not call for cannibalism, nor do they encourage gay teens to "kill your parents." They do not destroy private or public property.

If someone shows up at a Tea Party event with a racist attitude, they are CHASED OFF!!!! It's that simple. They are told that no one agrees with that disgusting display and asked/told to LEAVE. When the Occupy Wall Street protestors start yelling anti-Semitic slurs and insulting Jewish people in the streets, people generally look on and do nothing. Or worse, they agree. In fact, the American Nazi Party has just given these lovely people their endorsement.

Of course, there is the alleged "spitting" and N-word incident back when the Health Care bill was passed. And Andrew Breitbart offered $100K to ANYONE who could come up with a shred of evidence to support that claim. In fact, the entire incident was up on the news wire in 90 minutes - claiming that the N-word was chanted 15 times - and no one got it on film? And that story was put together, edited and run in 90 minutes! No one was arrested? Indicted? No one came forward to get their reward money?! And if you're thinking "but I saw this on a video," well, think again. Videos can be edited.

I hope when you think on the Tea Party you do not fall victim to the media hype. I am a proud Tea Party member, and you know me. Who do you think I am? Do you trust me? Do you think I am a good person? While you may not agree with the beliefs of the Tea Party (small government, fiscal conservatism and the Constitution being the trifecta), don't ever believe we are ANYTHING like these "useful idiots" currently occupying our nation's cities. Every movement has a few kooks, but the overwhelming majority of the Tea Party are good solid people - not racist, not gay-haters, not calling for violent revolution in the streets - can you truly say the same of the people who are at this moment tearing up the streets of our cities?

Pray if you are the praying type. And prepare. Decide where you want to stand and stand there firmly. It is time to decide who YOU are and how you want to be remembered in this world.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

9/11 Memorial

Posted by South Park Diva

This year I organized a simple 9/11 Memorial around a few songs from my choirs at the college where I teach. I am pretty darn proud of my "kids" for putting this together so quickly. They are a small group, but they have a lot of heart.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Letter to Senator Boozman

Posted by South Park Diva

This is the letter I wrote to my Senator this evening:

"Dear Senator Boozman,

I haven't heard much lately about who you support for the presidential nomination, and I just wanted to let you know how I and many others feel.

I have the unusual situation of living in Northwest Arkansas, but working in Southwest MO, and since I spend more time in MO than in AR, I have joined a group called Heartland Conservatives of Neosho. Nice group of people! As I talk with fellow conservatives, listen to talk radio and just tune into what is going on, I find that many people agree with me on one important thing: the time to vote "hold your nose and vote the Republican ticket" is past. Long past!

I'm not sure about your opinions on the whole Tea Party movement - or whether you buy into the whole "Tea Party are terrorists/hobbits/violent/racists" meme - but conservatives as a whole are just plain tired of politicians who will not stick to conservative principles. Politicians who feel we should say safe things, rather than sticking to principles. RINOS!

I've heard recently that "Republican Insiders" seem to feel that Mitt Romney is the best choice for the Republican nomination. The GOP as whole seems to be attacking the Tea Party and determined to put a big government, progressive Republican in the White House. I can assure you that if Mitt Romney is the Republican nomination I will either write in a third candidate or not vote at all. It's that simple.

It is time for conservatives to take a stand. I am not going to let the fear of four more years of Obama cause me to vote for someone who is just "Obama-lite." Let's nominate a truly conservative candidate. Someone who is politically and fiscally conservative. One who stands with conservatives on issues of immigration, global warming, reducing taxes and reducing the size of the government. No more progressive Republicans. No more RINOs.

I've spent a lot of time in the past six years paying attention to politics, trying to figure out what I truly believe. I've listened to different arguments and come to my own conclusions. Back in 2008 I voted for McCain. It is a mistake I will not make again.

It seems as if the GOP is terrified of the power of the conservative people who make up the Tea Party. They perhaps hear the death knell of their party. I wonder if we are viewing the death of the Republican party. I feel that it is time to take a strong stand for true conservatism - political AND fiscal conservatism. And that means reducing taxes AND reducing the size of the government. Making the hard cuts and allowing Americans to be the strong supporters of each other that we always have been.

I hope that if you have an opportunity to speak to your colleagues in Washington DC you will pass on my sentiments and assure them that this is the way the wind is blowing in the Republican party. We are tired of politicians who are concerned only with keeping themselves in power. We are certainly tired of politicians who feel the need to belittle the very important movement of the Tea Party, which has gotten millions of Americans truly involved for the first time in a long time.

I do not believe you are one of these corrupt politicians, which is why I gladly supported your campaign - and why I am writing this letter to you now. I just ask that you speak up for the true conservatives who are hoping that the GOP will not insult us by insisting on putting a big government PROGRESSIVE on the party ticket.

Thank you, as always, for being a politician who listens!"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Torpedo Squadron Nine

In trying to research names for the next section of my grandfather's Carrier Air Group Nine yearbook from World War II, I came across a February 1948 issue of Naval Aviation News that has an article on Torpedo Squadron Nine. It's on pages 10 & 11 of the PDF. I look forward to taking the time to read the whole thing.

Monday, July 4, 2011

2011 Project Valour-IT fundraising campaign

I didn't join a team this year for the competition. I've taken on other responsibilities that prevent me from being able to post daily for during the campaign. But, that doesn't mean I won't help spread the word. Soldiers' Angels' goal is $100,000 over the two-weeks from July 1 to July 14. If you aren't familiar with Project Valour-IT, here's what Chuck has to say:

In 2005, I was wounded. For some months, I was unable to use my hands. They were simply too badly damaged from the blast, and the surgeries to make them usable again left me unable to do anything for myself.

Then came Soldier's Angels, who gave me a laptop, and paired it with special software that allowed me to control the computer, using only my voice! Imagine, being able to do anything you can do with a mouse and keyboard, using just your voice. For me, it allowed me to do one thing, that I could do before I was wounded.

That one thing--when everything: feeding, cleaning, scratching, everything had to be done for me--that one thing I could do for myself allowed me to connect to my soldiers, friends, and family. That one thing... that one thing began a long road to recovery. It gave me hope; that I could learn to do other things like I did before.

That one thing is only possible if people like you care enough to help. We have provided thousands of these systems since 2005, but the needs for these systems is still increasing. I visit military medical facilities and meet with wounded troops, and know that there are ways to help them... and right now, I have to tell them to wait because we need funding.

Should our wounded have to wait for something that can help them heal, take their mind off their pain, or bring them a little sense of self?

Please help us raise $100,000 between July 1-14; to keep us in the business of providing for our wounded. It seems like a lot of money, but every single dollar helps. Every dollar donated goes to the troops. None of the VALOUR-IT donation goes to administrative or other costs. You'd be hard pressed to find any charity that does that, but it was a stipulation I made when we set it up. That number seems huge, insurmountable. But you know how you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time. Give what you can, please. I know times are tough. Times were pretty tough for me, too, and are pretty tough for young men and women learning how to use prosthesis, getting skin grafts, having wounds washed out.

Donate if you can, please share the message with others. Get your friends to give what they can. Write about it on Facebook and twitter. Call in to a radio or TV show. Spread the word. Spread the love. Spread the hope.

Thank you.

Chuck Ziegenfuss

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Last Fish

When I first posted about finding my grandfather's yearbook from his time with Carrier Air Group Nine during World War II, I soon had a comment from artist Scott Nelson, looking for some guidance about the markings of the aircraft assigned to the USS Yorktown. With a little help from BillT's comments on that same post, Scott got the information he needed to complete his project. Last weekend, I received an email letting me know the painting was finished:
I had promised to get the photo of the painting to you, you can post it you want. The painting was a surprize for Stew Bass at his 90th BD party held at the Air Museum, Fargo ND. Stew signed the painting. The second pict. is Stew Bass and me.

The painting shows half of Torpedo 9, 7 planes (the other half, 6 planes were attacking the Yamato in the upper right of the painting). Stew's flight attacked the cruiser Yahagi, coming in at a pie shaped formation, altitude around 800 feet, releasing the torpedoes around 1500 yards from the ship. This was the high speed, high altitude, torpedo attack developed by the Navy.


The artwork:

With Stew and Scott:

I emailed back to ask if the piece had a title yet. Not officially, but he explained:

...have thought about the title "THE LAST FISH". Fish refers to what the Navy flyers called the torpedo. One of the planes from Torpedo Nine dropped the last arial torpedo ever used against enemy shipping. (could have been Stew?)

I haven't gotten to Stew's section in the yearbook yet, but I promise I haven't given up on this project. It will just take a bit of time, considering I want to research the names of the men in the book, to share whatever it is that can be shared about who they are/were. Would that there were more hours in the day ;-)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Remembering Kile

Today marks four years since 1Lt Kile G. West gave his life for this country. I remember.

Previous posts about Kile here.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

YouServed livestreaming 2011 Milblog Conference

If you wanted to attended the 2011 Milblog Conference but were unable to be here in person, you can participate online here. Once again, the Conference will be livestreamed and you can participate in the online chat (and I think you'll even be able to ask questions of the panels that way!). I sat in on the livestream last year and think it's great that it is being done again this year, thanks once again to YouServed's sponsor, the VA Mortgage Center.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Flash Mob of Kindness

Posted by South Park Diva

On April 21st I participated in the amazing "Flash Mob of Kindness" that swept our great nation. It was an experience that I will not soon forget.

I am a teacher at a small community college in Missouri. I have, from time to time, given my students gas money, food money, food or just treated them to lunch, snacks or a hot beverage at the local coffee shop! I know that many of them struggle to not only pay for their education, but to just have enough to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some of them have kids, which makes the struggle that much more difficult. They know they need to stay in school, but it sure is hard when they also need to work and provide for their families. Some of them are international students, who are excited to be here in the United States, but live on almost nothing. So I do understand that there is plenty of need around me.

When Glenn Beck invited his viewers to take part in a "Flash Mob of Kindness", I got all excited about it. I immediately got onto Freedom Connector and posted that I wanted to lead a group in my area. I checked back a couple of days, didn't see much and kind of lost my enthusiasm. I forgot to check back, thinking that Freedom Connector would email me a notice if I got any replies. It didn't. Finally, I received an email asking about it. I replied positively, but inside I was thinking "Okay, how the heck do I organize this thing?" I went back to the website, and saw a few people had posted replies, and posted my own response. I changed my settings to be sure I'd get an email notice. I didn't...

Finally, I received an email on Tuesday, two days before the planned event. My first contact, Steve, was still interested. I thought "Okay, I'm going to do this - for Glenn!". Steve stopped by and dropped off a box of food. He told me he probably couldn't take part in the event, since he worked nights and would be sleeping at the time we wanted to do this. His positive attitude heartened me, and I got back onto Freedom Connector to see who I could contact. A few hours later I'd made connections with another teacher from a different school. We decided that between me and him and his wife and Steve, we could put together five packs of groceries. I then started sending out emails trying to find out who might need our help. I also put in a last minute order for "Tea Party Patriots" t-shirts at the local print/graphics shop. It was only three people, but I figured we needed to show them who we are. We're proud Tea Party Patriots - not racists, not violent - just people who want to help out. Show people in our little community that people care and that we are praying for them.

I received back some replies and realized just how much our small effort was going to help out some people who were just barely hanging on. It was humbling.

I went shopping that night and picked up my list of items - canned fruit and veggies, peanut butter and evaporated milk - and found myself adding in some small hams, a package of gum, some Hershey's kisses and even a pack of raisins. I was excited at the prospect of just being able to help someone out.

On Thursday, I was able to talk to a prospective recipient. A mother going to school, with a teenage son and just barely hanging on. The gratitude in her voice was humbling and I wanted to thank her for allowing me the opportunity to help.

Then another phone call to the sister of an Army retiree. Disabled from a stroke, he's lost his house, car and wife. His sister pays his rent and buys him groceries, because he cannot get assistance. The Army admits that he is due his retirement after 22 years, but it is "pending". That "pending" status means he is not eligible for any assistance at all. His sister was so grateful. She felt he might be too proud to take it from us, but I was more than happy to drop the food off with her.

Finally, a quick text to some international students of mine. Two wonderful "kids" from the Congo. Both great people, always smiling and ready to work hard. And I had no idea that they needed a little help. The coordinator for these students sent the following in an email: "It's always amazing to see this group do well academically, work every opportunity they are allowed by law, and manage each day without the basic necessities. Honestly, I learn from them more than they will ever know." How true!

After knowing for sure who we were visiting, I ran out to pick up our t-shirts and then made a quick trip to Wal-Mart for a few more things. I just couldn't resist. And I couldn't wait for 5PM when my Freedom Connector friends would arrive!

At 5PM, "Doc" Broom and his wife, Lisa, arrived with more piles of food. We sorted things out by groups - mother and son - Army guy - students - and piled into the car to visit our first group, the international students. I know two of them, so we delivered the groceries to them and they promised to distribute them. They were so happy to receive the food and so grateful. It made me feel wonderful. My student asked us to pray and bless their little house. We happily complied. We got a few pictures and we were heading out to the next stop - the mother with son.

The mother was embarrassed about her little house, but gladly let us in and hugged us. Her autistic son was playing some video games, but was very cheerful when we blocked his view. She hugged us enthusiastically and asked "What is this Tea Party thing?" We answered that we're basically a political group, Republicans and left it at that.

Finally, the soldier. His street was flooded, so we had to grab the items and hike across a couple of lawns. His sister warned us that he might not talk much, but he was happy to see us and shook our hands. We talked for a few minutes about his situation, and Doc said he just might know someone who could get the ball rolling for him. We shook hands all around and his sister thanked us for being a blessing. I told her that it was a blessing to be able to help and it was!

As we left, we agreed how amazing it was to be able to help. I spent about $75 and with a few other people was able to help so many. We bought items that really go a long way and the recipients were so grateful. We're hoping to make this into a habit and keep helping people. We threw our little group together at the last minute and were still able to accomplish something important. And the man who not give up and kept asking me about it? Well, he couldn't take part in the actual distribution, but he knew it was important to contribute, and he got me moving when I had given up on the idea.

Glenn Beck gave so many in this great nation this wonderful idea. Get out and help people - let them see you and know that you care and are praying for them. Some may not even know what the Tea Party is, but that's okay. Let them see you and feel your love and compassion.

We knew we could be a great blessing - a force of good. What I didn't realize was what a blessing it was to help - to be able to help. It's a good feeling, and I hope to feel it many more times!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Texas Army National Guard @ the 2011 American Heroes Celebration

I spent much of this past weekend volunteering for Soldiers' Angels. A lot of that time was at the American Heroes Celebration at Camp Mabry in Austin, which is the headquarters for the Texas Army National Guard. On Sunday, they had a couple of demonstrations at the parade ground (there were also various reenactments taking place over the weekend which I unfortunately wasn't able to see).

I wasn't right there on the parade ground when it started, so I didn't catch the very beginning of the first demonstration, so I'm not sure exactly what the setup was (terrorist event, mock insurgent engagement?), but here's what I recorded of it, once I got my camera on and walked from the Soldiers' Angels booth to the parade ground:

The next demonstration we had to wait a bit for. The Special Forces unit out of Camp Mabry jumped out of a helicopter at about 3000 feet. It was very windy Sunday, and it took quite a while before they got their clearance to proceed with jumping out of a perfectly good helicopter. With the display on my camera, I couldn't tell if I had the helicopter, and later the jumpers, in the frame; I could only point it in the general direction and hope I had it right. Thankfully, for the most part, I did. The tiny black spot is their UH-60 Black Hawk, and then the tiny white spots are the canopies for the soldiers. On this one, you can hear the announcer well enough, too:

One guy standing near me (who I think has done this sort of thing before) commented that this was actually a more dangerous jump: windy conditions, nearby power lines, oh, and the Mopac Expressway running alongside the parade ground to the east. Looks like they jumped with all their combat gear, too:

I didn't get a chance to go talk to the guys from the unit that did these demonstrations. We were too busy making sure our canopy didn't blow away on us, when we were down to only two people! Maybe next year...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Carrier Air Group Nine, Introduction

I've been able to scan more pages from the book. Some were done out-of-order based on a comment on the previous post from artist Scott Nelson who was looking for information about the markings for an Avenger attached to the Yorktown for a project he's working on depicting the events of April 7, 1945. While I sent pages along to Scott, I'll not post them here until I "get to them" in page order. I'll do my best to post the pages as they appear with the book open. These are the next four pages.

First is a chronology for Carrier Air Group Nine from the commissioning on March 1, 1942 through to the return to San Francisco on July 6, 1945 with the carriers Yorktown and Lexington on the opposite page.

Next, "The Score". Ships sunk, probably sunk, damaged. Planes destroyed, probably destroyed, damaged, both airborne and on the ground. Sorties by squadron. Personnel lost. Aircraft lost. Operations.

Lieutenant Commander Herbert N. Houck replaced Commander Philip H. Torrey, Jr.

Lieutenant Commander Houck passed away at the age of 86 on February 24, 2002, in Cape Coral, Florida. According to the article, he flew Hellcats. My grandfather doesn't mention April 7, 1945 in his combat diary, but I wonder if he was involved. Surely, he knew Houck. Would that I had been able to talk to Grandpa about his time in the Navy...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Carrier Air Group Nine, March 1944-July 1945

As I have mentioned before, my grandfather was a Naval Aviator in the Pacific during World War II. Recently, my parents found Grandpa's yearbook from back then. The binding is fragile, so I need to be careful handling it. I will slowly work through scanning the whole thing. Here's a start:

I've been lucky enough to tour both the Lexington, in Corpus Christi, Texas, and the Yorktown, at Patriot's Point, South Carolina, both carriers on which Grandpa served.

Tonight, though, I'll stop with the dedication pages:

Commander Philip H. Torrey, Jr.
United States Navy

Commander, Carrier Air Group Nine
December 1943 - February 1944

Killed in First Carrier Raids on Tokyo
16 February 1944

"Outstanding leadership is the quality above all others that inspires fighting spirit. The remarkable records of some air groups reveal and confirm the fact that the Air Group Commanders were outstandingly capable leaders. It has now become axiomatic that the fighting spirit, combat efficiency and success of air groups reflect in almost an exact ratio, the extent to which those qualities are found in their leaders"
-Commander Air Force, Pacific Fleet

Commander Philip H. Torrey, Jr., United States Navy:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Philip H. Torrey, Jr., Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Plane and Commander of Air Group NINE (AG-9), embarked from the U.S.S. ESSEX (CV-9), in action on 16 and 17 February 1944, while deployed over Truk in the Caroline Islands. His outstanding courage and determined skill were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Born: April 25, 1913 at Washington, D.C.
Home Town: Long Beach, California

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fair and Balanced? You Decide!!!

Posted by South Park Diva

From an email I sent to a work colleague...

Here is a great example of why I get a great deal of my news from The Blaze, which is a fairly new website sponsored by Glenn Beck's Mercury Productions.

Have you heard the latest on the NPR funding controversy? Including some undercover video that appears to be very damning to some top execs? There has been one person fired and another person has resigned as a direct result of the video. Naturally, conservatives and Tea Party members were incensed and are currently organizing to pull NPR's federal funding. However, when The Blaze first reported this story, they questioned the journalism methods and raised some interesting questions. They then went to the trouble to get the raw footage of the video and followed up with this report and analysis: (it includes a link to the first story they posted).

This is not a news source that is going to gleefully jump on the liberal-bashing bandwagon, regardless of what actually happened. If a conservative does something slimy, unethical, etc., they are not going to ignore it, excuse it or try to cover it up. And if they feel that someone on the conservative side has perhaps engaged in some questionable ethics in securing or airing/broadcasting/reporting an important story, they are going to talk about that! Their motto comes from Glenn: "The Truth has no agenda."

Perhaps you remember the whole Shirley Sherrod issue? Well, as many were pushing to have her fired, Glenn was cautioning his viewers, saying "we don't have the whole story - it looks like her comments were taken out of context." In the end, she was fired and he was absolutely right - and eventually apologies were issued, and she got her job back. But not before people actually blamed Glenn and Fox news for her being fired. She was fired before the story ever hit the airwaves! And neither jumped on the "Shirley Sherrod is racist and should be fired" bandwagon...

And lastly, I don't know if you are familiar with the voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party in Philly. This case has been largely ignored by our Attorney General, and there are hearings concerning this case going on right now (the AG has been accused of ignoring any voter intimidation cases where the defendant is not white). AG Eric Holder made some comments that have been damned by many on the conservative side. At first, Glenn Beck was very critical (on his radio show) of what could be considered inappropriate comments. But when he heard the audio of the hearing, he realized that he may have misunderstood. He decided not to go ahead with the planned TV segment and then apologized to Holder the next day on his radio show.

He said, when there is doubt, we'll give him a pass on that. And that matches up with my philosophy of giving people the benefit of the doubt when it makes sense to do so. Glenn reminds me not to just jump on the liberal-bashing bandwagon, but to think critically about different stories - and to do my own research. As he often says, he is NOT a journalist, but an opinion person. His news site, The Blaze is journalism - with a debate sort of twist. You'll see all types in the comments section. Some real jerks and some normal, run-of-the mill conservatives. Takes all types to make a world! And of course, you'll see the same people over and over commenting. I'm like "why do you have all this time to comment back and forth, people? Don't you have jobs?!"

Anyway, just thought I'd share that with you. I'm very passionate about defending Glenn Beck, and I feel I have good reason. And I although I do not go looking for liberal blogs, I do trust that I am getting news from a wide variety - and from sources who honestly try to get the whole story, even when it reflects poorly on conservatives. I especially trust Michelle Malkin, Stephen Green, Glenn Beck and of course The Blaze. I have seen many issues on all four where they are willing to a) criticize conservatives b) present facts that reflect poorly on a conservative or the conservatives as a group c) do some research before they start pointing fingers at liberals and d) apologize and correct themselves when they have made an error. And they do NOT bury the apology or correction on "page 10"!!!!

Public vs. Private Unions

Posted by South Park Diva

Another exchange concerning unions - this one on Facebook. I posted this link to stand with Governor Scott Walker: I had also previously posted about the whole private versus public union conundrum.

To which an old HS replied: "oh yeah they are also entitled to earn a living wage which unions actually got workers earlier in the last century. if people working for private industry didn't have collective bargaining, do you really believe that big companies would actually pay a fair wage? as far as state workers go when was the last time anyone complained that teachers were over paid? without collective bargaining, they'd be paid a lot less.
as for the situation in WI the union agreed to an 8 percent cut in salary already. the governor doesn't want to give up anything. government that doesn't compromise is a dictatorship and in the U.S. wont last long especially in a state that has left leaning tendancies until recently."

To which I replied:

"My post was concerning public unions. Private unions are a different matter. Remember that when a public union goes to the bargaining table, they are basically bargaining with themselves with YOUR money! Politicians know that union money helps to win elections. So it is in their interest to keep unions happy. So when the government sits down with public unions, they are bargaining with taxpayer money - and they don't necessarily care about protecting the taxpayer, so much as protecting their own interests and getting re-elected. Unions know this. Politicians know this. Unfortunately, the taxpayers are getting duped far too often. Walker wants to end this strangle hold that public unions have on the taxpayer's wallet by taking away some (not all) of their collective bargaining rights. Basically, he only wants them to be able to negotiate salary, but not the massive pension and insurance packages that are bankrupting the state. Even FDR, a very progressive president, understood that public unions were a very bad idea.

Private unions definitely serve a purpose to combat dishonesty and greed in private industry, but they can still cause trouble in the long run. Look at our auto industry. At least some of GM's problems stemmed from unions. Remember that collective bargaining rewards people who do not want to work their hardest, perform their best and produce results. When your wages are decided in collective bargaining incentives, including raises, where is the incentive to work hard? Why should I bust my hiny to produce the best results, if my raise/bonus is already assured. My husband works for a company that is non-union. His raise is directly related to two things - first, how well does he do his job and second, how well the company is doing over all. The company will not reward him for crappy work and they will also not give out raises that they cannot afford. It's that simple. And the company is still in business after many, many decades. But what happens to a unionized company who has collectively bargained for raises at a certain percentage, but then the company has a bad year or two years? And they still have to give out larger raises (that are NOT based on performance), regardless of the fact that the company is suffering. So what do they do? Probably either lay off workers or raise prices. And raising prices can just hurt business more...

Unions have definitely served an important purpose. But when people aren't given a choice about joining, or when the union bosses admittedly don't actually care about the workers, but are more interested in creating some kind of revolution, we all suffer for it.

And last but not least, the government is under NO obligation to compromise with the union. The elected officials can pass this law if they have the majority, and in this case they do. Elections have consequences, and the consequences of electing a conservative majority into Wisconsin, is that the governor is not obliged to compromise in this legislation, as long as it does not go against the WI or US Constitution. A case in point can be seen in the massive healthcare bill that was passed last year around this time. Although polls showed that 60% of Americans were against the bill, Democrats rammed it through. There was no compromise with Republicans, because THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO. They had the majority, and that's how it goes. This is not a dictatorship. This is the consequences of elections. Period. And you will notice that Republicans did not abandon their posts in an effort to stall or kill the bill. Conservatives did not sit inside the capitol building chanting profanities and beating drums all day and night. We took our lumps and moved on. And now that conservatives have a majority in the House, they are attempting to legally reverse the decision made last year. That is how our law works. If the party in complete power does not compromise, that is not a dictatorship. That is partisan politics. And the people will have the chance to voice their feelings at the next election. That's how our REPUBLIC works. We are a Constitutional Republic."

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Conversation About Unions With My Brother

Posted by Southpark Diva

I recently sent my friends and family a link to a really excellent article concerning public unions from the Ludwig von Mises Institute. I prefaced the link with these words: "As a teacher, I am so grateful that I am not forced to join a union, nor do I work in a school that has tenure-track positions. I have to WORK to keep my job and produce RESULTS! And I contribute to my own retirement!"

To understand this blogpost, you really need to read the article. If you wouldn't mind taking a moment reading it? Thank you! Going on!

My brother, someone who is very liberal, had this to say in reply:

"Are you serious? Unions are all about collective bargaining and worker's rights. We all work to keep our jobs... oh, and this article is crap... did you take critical thinking and writing? Who says that the MAIN reason States are going bankrupt is government run monopolies and government unions - oh and why doesn't the article mention more about the monopolies? What about natural disasters? What about deficit spending on state run projects? What about corrupt budget practices. Stripping the unions power away from them will not make a government fiscally responsible. Break down why a specific state is going bankrupt and work to change that, don't take away people's rights. Look, I'm in the middle of working on reforming the way the USAF spends money and it's very painful, but we are doing it. (just wrote a multi-million $ federally funded contract that will put many people to work and defend our country from jerks that want to sell us out to wikileaks). The efficiency movement is under way... why mess with my public school teachers? I can't afford private school for my kids."

After some careful consideration, I replied:

"Yes, unions are all about collective bargaining and workers rights. And they make it far too easy for someone to NOT work efficiently and well and still remained employed! And it's often the taxpayer and the students who suffer in the cases of teachers. Why should a teacher be forced to join a union and give up a nice chunk of their paycheck for a union that does not truly represent them? Why should our children suffer when it is nearly impossible to get rid of a bad/immoral/etc teacher who has achieved tenured status? This happens a lot in public schools - elementary, secondary and university. I firmly believe that teachers should be given a choice as to whether they unionize, but far too many states do not give them the option. So they are forced to pay for a union that is more concerned with staying in power/business than with the welfare of the students and the teachers. And union leaders have freely admitted that if they do not force teachers to join, then many will choose not to join. Can't have that!

A big problem in our nation is the unionization of government jobs (i.e. teachers), because the government does not need to worry about the bottom line. They can continue to pull money from the taxpayer without producing results. We pour billions into our education, and yet it clearly does not make a difference. We continue to employ teachers who do not deserve to be employed, who do not produce results. Why is this? Because unions have made it very hard to get rid of someone. When a teacher is still collecting their pension after sexually harassing his students, something is clearly wrong. Or when that same teacher is still teaching! And yes, this happens far too often...

Unions can be held responsible for certain auto companies going out of business. They run contrary to the basic principle of "Return on Investment", and businesses suffer for it. In 2003 to 2008, those states with the greatest unionization had the least private sector job growth. Businesses suffer when unions hold the power, because they no longer base labor costs on the free-market system of supply and demand. This certainly happened with GM. The company should have been allowed to declare bankruptcy and get restructured. Instead, our government, who is very tight with the unions (Richard Trumpka, the president of AFL-CIO spends more time with the president than many of his cabinet members - he was just quoted as saying he is at the White House every day!) jumped in to save a company that should have been allowed to fail. And taxpayers once again foot the bill for a company that was not run efficiently.

And yes, there are other causes, but why do so many states run a huge deficit? Because they are being crushed by the large payroll of government workers (who make 45% more than the person in the private sector for the same job!) and of course those tasty pensions that the government (both state and federal) cannot afford. Why do we continue to hold the taxpayer and future generations of taxpayers hostages for wages and pensions that we can't afford? If we can't afford it, we need to cut it. Period. I'm sure you, as the head of your household, understand that. Do not pay for things you can't afford. And don't get started on the difference between micro and macro economics. I don't live in a Keynsian world where the key to reducing debt is to spend, spend, spend!

Unions have a strangle hold on our politicians and on the taxpayer. I'm not talking about the typical union worker, but the union bosses, who have an entirely different agenda. It's no longer about protecting the worker. It's about keeping themselves in power. Yes, unions once functioned to break the strangle hold of monopolies on the American worker. But now unions themselves are relying on the monopoly of the government to stay alive and in power. Remember that public union employees are protected, whether or not they produce results or have any real talent at their job. Status and pay are set in collective bargaining agreements, rather then on your actual performance, so why bother working hard? And it's pretty darn hard to get rid of someone who is not performing, so we just keep paying for inefficiency. And paying, and paying. Yes, there are workers who still take pride in their work, and there are teachers (many teachers!) who love their students and just want to teach and help educate young minds. But they are working in a system that does not reward excellence, but protects mediocrity. And often protects outright criminals! My own voice teacher has told me how many college professors work hard to shine, shine, shine....until they get tenure. And then they just sit back and do the bare minimum to stay employed.

And what about those private schools. If unions didn't have a strangle hold on our public education, school choice would be a reality all over the country and you could put my niece and nephew in private schools without paying any extra. Yes indeed. In fact, that was just killed in DC in 2010. God forbid a parent has the right to decide where to send his/her children to school! Instead, it was killed by politicians (yes, Democrats) who are in the pockets of teachers unions. Teacher's unions do NOT like school choice, since it means that parents just may choose a school where teachers aren't unionized. And these schools are often higher performing schools, since teachers must actually prove every year that they are doing a good job!

Of course, 38% of Congress chooses to send their kids to private schools, so they don't have to deal with the results of decisions they themselves have made on the behalf of teacher's unions.

And your arguments on other problems in the government? Well, you just stated a great argument for Tea Party ideas. Smaller government. In private business, corruption eventually is punished. Bad business practices are eventually punished. The system of the free market cannot sustain bad business decisions. Criminals get convicted and go to jail. If we are running a deficit on state-run projects, then shouldn't we step back and think maybe we can't afford these projects?

If unions lost some of their stranglehold on our politicians, perhaps our politicians might actually do something that is in the interest of the taxpayer, rather than in the interest of the union. Just a thought. Much of what is wrong with our government cannot be cured by decreased union power, but much of it can. Just take a look at Chris Christie, who is taking the union thugs in NJ head on and not backing down. He has frozen spending on many projects that the state just can't afford, and is working to release the strangle hold unions have on the state. And he was voted in, in a resoundingly blue state - the people finally realized that things just weren't working any more. Period.

Natural disasters? Like Katrina? Where the government and the people of the US pour millions into a reconstruction effort? Blizzards, where cities and states receive aid? And people pull together to help each other out? This is why we're going bankrupt? I think that perhaps it is more complex than that. Yes, natural disasters will always have an effect on business and on money in a state, but the free-market system, if it is allowed to run freely, will help reset things. Some businesses will increase as they provide goods and services to combat the troubles. Other businesses, such as the evil Wal-Mart, will step in to provide aid in many different forms. The great people of the USA will step in and donate time, money, physical labor, homes and prayers to those affected. All too often it is politicians who stand in the way of these moves. Let's not forget LA governor Blanco turning back the Red Cross...

Yes, our economic woes are a complex issue. But a very big part of it is certainly the unions. When a person no longer has to deliver results in order to stay employed - when they are collecting a large amount of money in pay and benefits when they are not performing, or have been fired - when the government is forced to pay for more for union labor than in the private sector, something is indeed wrong. Again, in the private sector, businesses (usually) will be allowed to fail if a union asks for more than the actual business can afford, but in the public sector, we just keep paying for bad business."

I haven't blogged in quite a while (since I got back from 8/28), but I thought it was time to share these thoughts. I am a teacher at a rapidly growing community college. Today in a faculty meeting, we discussed the possibility of hiring new faculty in the coming year, despite state budget cuts. One faculty member stood up and asked our interim dean to make sure that the new faculty coming in really understood our culture of Servant Leadership. Because that is how we do things at our school. We are there first and foremost for the student, and it shows. We work together to figure out the best way to serve our student body, rather than just hunkering down and doing the bare minimum to keeping our jobs. And no, we are NOT union, and yes, we DO have to contribute to our own retirement. Our pay is not great, but not horrible either. Many of us work overloads to make extra money (my husband and I are trying hard to pay off the bulk of our debt). In the end, we just want our students to succeed. I cannot consider myself a success if I am not working hard to ensure the success of my students.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

In Loving Memory of Tipsy

September 9, 1996 - January 29, 2011

Like Abby, you were my dog all your life. As with your sister, it was time to let you go. I'll always remember my amazement when I saw you scale the 6-foot private fence so you could go play with the neighbor dog. I hated seeing you barely able to climb the stairs. I miss you already, but now you and your sister are together again.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

At the Blanton

I went to the Blanton Museum of Art on the University of Texas campus this afternoon. It was the last day of the exhibit Turner to Monet: Masterpieces from the Walters Art Museum. When I was finished seeing the special exhibit, I wandered upstairs to see the other pieces of art on display. I walked into one room, turning the corner to see the first piece on the wall.

And there was Frodo Baggins....

frodo baggins, lord of the rings, peter paul rubens, head of a young man

Seems I'm not the only one who think so ;-)

Peter Paul Rubens' "Head of a Young Man" is part of the permanent collection at the Blanton.