Monday, August 30, 2004
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
According to Glenn Reynolds over at the Instapundit, the Kerry campaign has been attempting to buy up all of the existing copies of John Kerry's anti-war screed The New Soldier (Kerry was a main contributor to the work). As Prof. Reynolds has pointed out, they apparently didn't count on the Internet factor. In the spirit of "Freedom of the Press", I have downloaded copies of the 3 PDF (Adobe Acrobat) files that comprise this electronic edition of the Kerry book. (See below, and I will be permanently linking to them on the right, too). Additionally, another site, Wintersoldier.com, has more web-friendly versions of the book as well as a plethora of information on the entire Vietnam Veterans Against the War movement.
The book is comprised of an Introduction, written by the editors, a Main Section, which contains "first hand" testimonies by Vietnam Vets, a two-page Epilogue penned by John Kerry and an Appendix. One may think that Kerry's contribution to the work is relatively insignificant, though the fact that he was given the primary credit (the "By John Kerry") indicates the editors of the work thought otherwise. Needless to say, the very fact that the Kerry campaign is attempting limit access to this book speaks, er, volumes, doesn't it?
I have read Kerry's Epilogue in The New Soldier, and have determined there really isn't too much there (it's only two pages long). It seems that the Kerry campaign is more concerned with the associations one could infer from Kerry penning the Epilogue than from anything within the actual two-page piece. Their real concern should be with Kerry's 1971 Senate Testimony (Thanks to Wintersoldier.com for posting the document. I have now made it available here at the Ocean State Blogger). Nonetheless, here are some of excerpts of Kerry's contribution to The New Soldier:
We will not quickly join those who march on Veteran's Day waving small flags, calling to memory those thousands whod died for the "greater glory of the United States." We will not accept the rhetoric. We will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars-in fact, we will find it hard to join anythig at all and when we do, we will demand relevancy such as other organizations have recently been unable to provide. We will not take solace from the creation of monuments or the naming of parks after a select few of the thousands of dead Americans and Vietnamese. We will not uphold traditions which decorously memorialize that which was base and grim.
It is from these things that the New Soldier is asking America to turn. We are asking America to turn from false glory, hollow victory, fabricated foreign threats, fear which threatens us as a nation, shallow pride which feeds off fear, and mostly from the promises which have proven so deceiving these past ten years. ("The New Soldier" - Epilogue, page 1 of New-Soldier-Epilogue.pdf)
We were sent to Vietnam to kill COmmunism. But we found instead that we were killing women and children. We knew the saying "War is hell" and we knew also that wars take their toll in civilian casualties. In Vietnam, though, the "greatest soldiers in the world," better armed and better equipped than the opposition, unleashed the power of the greatest technology in the world against thatch huts and mud paths. In the process we created a nation of refugees, bomb craters, amputees, orphans, widows, and prostitutes, and we gave new meaning to the words of the ROman historian Tacitus: "Where they made a desert they called it peace." ("The New Soldier" - Epilogue, page 1 of New-Soldier-Epilogue.pdf)
Certainly not all veterans of this war are New Soldiers. Not all want to be or even understand what many of their veteran contemporaries are trying to say. ("The New Soldier" - Epilogue, page 2 of New-Soldier-Epilogue.pdf)
I myself went into the service with very little awareness of the people in the streets. I accepted then and still accept the idea of service to one's country. But because of all that I saw in Vietnam, the treatment of civilians, the ravaging of their countryside, the needless, useless deaths, the deception and duplicity of our policy, I changed. Traditional assumptions and expectations simply were not enough. I still want to serve my country. I am still willing to pick up arms and defend it--die for it, if necessary. Now, however, I will not go blindly because my government says that I must go. I will not go unless we can make real our promises of self-determination and justice at home. I will not go unless the threat is a real one and we all know it to be so. I will not go unless the people of this country decided ror themselves that we must all of us go. ("The New Soldier" - Epilogue, page 2 of New-Soldier-Epilogue.pdf)
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Justin first summarizes the exchange between David Sweeney, a lawyer versed in contract negotiation, who responded to James Hosey, a retired teacher. Hosey originally attempted to refute many of the points originally put forth by Donald Hawthorne in an earlier ProJo Op-Ed. (The same Donald Hawthorne from which I received some statistical evidence, btw.)
Justin then updated some of my figures, particularly regarding the wage and benefits disparity between public and private workers in Rhode Island and as compared to other states. He also included some nice graphs to aid in the presentation. (I wish my bandwidth allowed for that!).
Friday, August 20, 2004
But for a while most of us felt that we had an established press whose canons, techniques, competition, and honorable tradition gave us news that was fairly reliable and when in error, honestly so, or at least the result of the coarsening and immediacy implicit in the medium. That trust is gone -- not just among Republicans and conservatives, but as the polls show, among Democrats, Independents, and liberals as well. It was bad luck for the Gray Ladies that their minions chose to break the tradition of trust just at the moment that powerful new media emerged from the boiling ferment of electronic technology, and that alternatives now exist. It may be that the old media are now self-destructing, and that like the medieval Vatican, the Ching Dynasty, the Holy Roman Empire, the French Academy, the Victorian Church of England, and the Communist Party, they are losing their hard-won authority because of wanton abuse.
So we set out now, like Adam and Eve at the end of Milton's great poem on the Fall, into a new informational world, a new period of history where we cannot rely on journalistic authority and have no guide as to what to believe. It is a fallen world, but it has a certain excitement. For we may now start learning about the current world from each other -- from Chinese or Iraqi or Israeli or Indian or Persian or Spanish or U.S. eyewitnesses, from bloggers and friends on the telephone and radio callers whose trustworthiness we must judge on our own -- just as we did before the great nineteenth and twentieth century newspapers came along.
Perhaps we could put it in an even more radical way. As such institutions as coffee-houses, town meetings, old fashioned barber shops, primary caucuses, soap box gatherings, debates, and suchlike fell into disuse, and the networks and newspapers took over, the Public itself began to disappear, to be replaced by a segmented demographic mass swayed by centralized journalistic voices and shaped by polls. What is now happening is that rather swiftly a new Public is forming, self-organizing around Google and link lists and blog chatrooms. And it will demand a new Res Publica.
He alludes to how Blogs are essentially a modern version of "pamphleteering." Not the first to do so, I might add. Which is further proof that not many ever have an original idea. Ever since reading Bernard Bailyn's Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, I had equated blogs with those Revolutionary era pamphlets. I'd urge all to read both the aforementioned post (by Dan Bricklin) and Bailyn's book. It appears we bloggers have simply relit the torch our forefathers used to explain and contextualize the evolving relationship between America and Great Britain in the 18th century. Indeed, it is the very lifeblood of our nation for citizens to offer commentary. When the founders guaranteed the Freedom of the Press, they weren't referring to just newspapers: many had been coaxed toward revolution by the words of the pamphleteers. They recognized the power of the pamphlet and how vital they had been in inspiring the Revolution. It seems that the major media had better acknowledge the power of the blog, the pamphlet of the 21st century. If they won't tell the whole truth, they will be eclipsed by those who will while acknowledging the biases they hold.
A review of the previous contract shows that the annual salary increases is effectively just under 7.5% through the course of the three year contract. What is not usually graphically represented is that these increases are based on years in service. In other words, a new teacher at step 1 (one year or less experience) earned $30,348 in 2000-01. A new teacher at the same level in 2001-02 receive an increase in salary of 3.7% over, even though they hadn't worked a day. In other words, the position received a raise, not the people in them! And what about that new teacher, the one who earned $30,348 in 2000-01? Well, with another year of experience, they are now "Step 2", so they moved up a step, and since it was now 2001-02, they went from earning $30,348 to earning $34,722. This translates to an actual salary increase of 14.4% for one year of experience and moving up from step 1 to step 2. This is never talked about, much less accurately represented. Below IS and accurate representation (thanks to Don Hawthorne for illuminating me on this hidden raise and for this tabular presentation).
Increases received as teachers move up 1 step/year until at step 10 (these are the massive, hidden increases: HI= Hidden Increase Percentage)
Step .... 2000-01...... 2001-02 .... (HI)...... 2002-03 .... (HI)
1 .......$30,348....... $31,486................ $32,588
2 .......$33,467....... $34,722 ... 14.4% ... $35,937 ... 14.1%
3 .......$36,032....... $37,383 ... 11.7% ... $38,691 ... 11.4%
4 .......$38,597....... $40,044 ... 11.1% ... $41,446 ... 10.9%
5 .......$41,162....... $42,706 ... 10.6% ... $44,201 ... 10.4%
6 .......$43,726....... $45,366 ... 10.2% ... $46,954 ... 9.9%
7 .......$46,528....... $48,273 ... 10.4% ... $49,963 ... 10.1%
8 .......$48,862....... $50,694 ... 9.0% ... $52,468 ... 8.7%
9 .......$50,958....... $52,869 ... 8.2% ... $54,719 ... 7.9%
10.......$55,973....... $58,072 ... 14.0% ... $60,105 ... 13.7%
Additionally, what is never included in the salary increase percentages are the "Longevity Increments" earned (also in Appendix A of the past contract):
For 20 years of service, of which 15 have been in Warwick
2000 - 2001 - $ 916
2001 - 2002 - $1266
2002 - 2003 - $1616
For 25 years of service, of which 20 have been in Warwick
2000 - 2001 - $1136
2001 - 2002 - $1486
2002 - 2003 - $1836
For 30 years of service, of which 25 have been in Warwick
2000 - 2001 - $1356
2001 - 2002 - $1706
2002 - 2003 - $2056
There are also "Advanced Increments" that every teacher can earn, though I don't have as much of a problem with these essentially merit-based salary increases. The others are a problem to me because they are NOT based on performance.
This is all just particular to the Warwick Teachers' Union, as a whole, Rhode Island is well above the national average in Teacher and Public employee compensation. According to a document entitled “Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends 2002” located at the American Federation of Teachers own web site [Go to Table I-1 on page 7 9page 15 of the linked PDF document], the average RI teachers’ salary was $51,619 in 2001-2002, 4th highest among the 50 states and 16% above the national average. The report also shows that the average teacher salary of $51,619 versus the average salary of $32,186 earned during 2001 in the RI private sector. [See Table I-5 on page 11 (page 19 of the PDF document) of the report].
As a sidenote, the $32,186 figure was taken from this Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of annual pay, which reveals that the national average is $36,214, putting Rhode Island close to $4,000 below the national average. It gets worse. A comparison of the Rhode Island average to Connecticut ($47,732) and Massachusetts ($45,562), first and third highest in the U.S., respectively, reveals how relatively poorly paid the private sector in Rhode Island is compared to its Southern New England neighbors. This is important because we pay our teachers some of the best salaries in the nation, but those who pay those salaries, private sector, tax-paying citizens, earn less than the national average and the teachers they are subsidizing! (Also, notice how Washington, D.C. has the highest private sector salaries of all...heh.)
What does this mean? Well, the Warwick teachers make more money, pay less for health care, and receive pensions thanks to the taxes paid by privately employed workers who make less money, pay for a far greater percentage of their health care, and are lucky if their 401(k) isn't currently in the red. I don't want to attack teachers, As Dan Yorke of WPRO says, taken individually, teachers are good people and are worthy of our respect, but when they congregate and talk contracts, something happens. The degree to which they are being influence or harangued by the union bosses is unknown to me. Regardless, and despite my personal regard for teachers, my problem is not with them per se, as it is with their seeming inability to recognize that we are in a new time. On a relative basis, they make far more, too much more, than those who pay for them. We are not asking them to work for slave wages, just to contribute "their fair share." Is that too much to ask?
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Friday, August 06, 2004
1) State Legislature passed a referendum question concerning the casino for November's ballot.
2) Gov. Carcieri vetoed, then questioned its constitutionality. The State Constitution only authorizes the state to operate lotteries (including slots). [Sidebar: If all lotteries are gambling, is all gambling the same as a lottery?] Because of this, no casino can operate slots, only the state can operate slots. So, the Gov. petitioned the State Supreme Court for an advisory opinion.
3) Faced with this, the Legislature pondered changing the State Constitution to accomodate the casino question, thought better of it, and simply voted to overried the veto.
4) As far as the mechanics, there is an Aug. 19 deadline to print question on ballot and the Secretary of State said the question will be on ballot unless the Supreme Court says that a casino, defined as it has been, is indeed illegal.
The question is simply this, if this is all unconstitutional does it make sense to go through this whole referendum process, and the advertising and everything else ad naseum, when the point may be moot anyway? I don't think so, do you?
The court will have an answer in a week, they said.
Well, there's something to think on. See you later.
"I would never have imagined that journalists, academics, actors, artists, and the intelligentsia in general would have so opposed the end of dictatorship and promotion of democracy abroad. And who would have thought that Vietnam would become the source for Democratic nostalgia, rather than the usual recrimination? Did anyone think the appointment of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, promises of $15 billion in grants to combat AIDS in Africa, and lectures to the politically powerful Arab world to cease the genocide of black Sudanese would earn George Bush slurs evoking the Taliban, the old Confederacy, and fascism? Have we become children who live in a world of bedtime stories, afraid to face the cruel truth around us?"
The Clinton years were, you say, glorious because "we were not at war and young Americans were not deployed." Did not the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, followed by the attacks on the Khobar Towers, the USS Cole and the East African embassies mean we were at war but were uncomprehending? Have not scores of thousands of young Americans been deployed, ashore and on ships, since 1942?
You say, "I stood up and fought against Richard Nixon's war in Vietnam." Nixon's war? Did it start after John Kennedy put U.S. combat troops there, and after Lyndon Johnson increased the number to 500,000?
The easily distressed abortion rights groups were distressed when you said that your faith teaches you what elementary biology teaches everyone: life begins at conception. But you say personhood does not. Fine. When does it? What are its defining attributes? Does, say, an elderly person with dementia have it, and hence a right to life?
You oppose, on federalism grounds, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. You say marriage law is traditionally a state responsibility. But so was abortion law for the Republic's first 197 years, until 1973. What is the difference?
When the Pope said Catholic legislators have a duty to oppose gay marriage, you said he had "crossed the line" because "it is important not to have the Church instructing politicians." Have you felt that way even when the Church has instructed politicians take liberal positions regarding economic justice, race and other matters?
You have often said — e.g., in Algona, Iowa, last year, when your campaign was impoverished — that "there's too much money loose in the American political system." Now your campaign is awash with money. So are the 527 groups that are supporting your campaign — but of course without even a smidgen of "coordination" with it, because that would be a crime under the new campaign finance law. Do you advocate new laws to discourage the kind of people who are choosing to participate in politics through financial contributions on your behalf?
Do you think he'll answer them?
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Because I am a conservative I support the party that best represents conservative views, the Republican Party. Sometimes I get mad at it; often it disappoints me. It is imperfect, and not perfectible. But to a greater degree than in the past I feel an urge to help it. Since peace was wrenched off the tracks on 9/11, deep in my heart I have pulled for President Bush, Vice President Cheney, members of the current administration, and Republicans in the Senate and the House. With the decline of the Democratic Party I have become convinced there is a greater chance we will win the war if the Republican Party wins the election.Perhaps she felt she could contribute in other ways, by appearing on "Hardball" or other NBC shows, but she seems to have found that route unfulfilling.
In the past four years I have written about and given advice to both parties in this column. But a week ago, while watching the Democratic convention, I made a decision.
I am going to take three months' unpaid leave from The Wall Street Journal and attempt to support the Republican Party in the coming and crucial election.
A while back I also agreed to spend part of the 2004 election year commentating on MSNBC and NBC. But it was not fully satisfying. I never felt I was moving the ball forward either for my beliefs or for myself or for that elusive thing that yet exists called "what is true." The oppositional nature of TV news shows--there's a liberal and a conservative and they fight, which equals drama, which equals ratings--often keeps progress from happening and truth from being said. And in an odd way people talk a lot on these shows--there's a high syllabic content--but they often don't say what they really mean.But she will be back, regardless of the results.
Anyway, I never felt I was moving the ball forward. So I ended my contract and figured out where I should be. I decided it's good to be on TV in whatever venue seems right when you feel you have something important you want to say. I also decided that when you are living through crucial history and you believe one political party is on balance right, and trying to fight a valiant fight, you should join in if you can.
When I return after the election I hope I will bring to my work a new and deeper knowledge of modern politics, the American electorate, and changes in media coverage of both. If it turns out things go well I'll come back and tell you why I think it went well. If things don't go well--if the Republicans lose, or they lose plus I'm a big flop in my efforts--I'll tell you about that too.I'll miss her, but I hope that her free advice given publicly will be just as good, and more politically useful, when given privately. Good Luck, Ms. Noonan.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
THE FIVE NON-NEGOTIABLE ISSUES
These five issues are called non-negotiable because they concern actions that are always morally wrong and must never be promoted by the law. It is a serious sin to endorse or promote any of these actions, and no candidate who really wants to advance the common good will support any of the five non-negotiables.
What are these issues? Abortion, Euthanasia ("mercy killing" or "doctor assisted suicide"), Fetal Stem Cell Research (notice that it is FETAL, not all), Human Cloning, and Homosexual "Marriage" (scare quotes are theirs). Another area of the document that may be more palatable to all are these guides on how to vote, or how not to vote:
HOW NOT TO VOTE
1. Do not base your vote on your political party affiliation, your earlier voting habits, or your family's voting tradition. Years ago, these may have been trustworthy ways to determine whom to vote for, but today they are not reliable. You need to look at each candidate as an individual. This means that you may end up casting votes for candidates from more than one party.
2. Do not cast your vote based on candidates' appearance, personality, or "media savvy." Some attractive, engaging, and "sound-bite-capable" candidates endorse intrinsic evils and so should be opposed, while other candidates, who may be plain-looking, uninspiring, and ill at ease in front of cameras, endorse legislation in accord with basic Christian principles.
3. Do not vote for candidates simply because they declare themselves to be Catholic. Unfortunately, many self-described Catholic candidates reject basic Catholic moral teaching. They are "Catholic" only when seeking votes from Catholics.
4. Do not choose among candidates based on "What's in it for me?" Make your decision based on which candidates seem most likely to promote the common good, even if you will not benefit directly or immediately from the legislation they propose.
5. Do not reward with your vote candidates who are right on lesser issues but who are wrong on key moral issues. One candidate may have a record of voting exactly as you wish, aside from voting also in favor of, say, euthanasia. Such a candidate should not get your vote. Candidates need to learn that being wrong on even one of the non-negotiable issues is enough to exclude them from consideration.
HOW TO VOTE
1. For each office, first determine how each candidate stands on each of the five non-negotiable issues.
2. Eliminate from consideration candidates who are wrong on any of the non-negotiable issues. No matter how right they may be on other issues, they should be considered disqualified if they are wrong on even one of the non-negotiables.
3. Choose from among the remaining candidates, based on your assessment of each candidate's views on other, lesser issues.
It also instructs on how to choose the lesser of two evils, if you choose at all, and wraps up with a call to heed your conscience and if you can't trust said conscience, turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a moral guide.
The Church has it's problems, but its ideals are still admirable. The negative feelings towards the institutions and individuals within the church, caused by the problems and controversies of the past and present, shouldn't be assigned to the ideas and morality it teaches. Though the stances it takes are predictable (which shouldn't be taken to mean that I disagree with them!), it is a good foundation from which one can build a philosophy of politics of their own. If you don't feel that the five issues mentioned are non-negotiable, perhaps you can find some of your own. I think these are pretty solid as they are.