A great disappointment

As I had mentioned on Saturday, we are in Kentucky this week for vacation. I came to Louisville yesterday evening to spend some time with my best friend Ken, whom I had not seen since 2001. Ken is an old fashioned guy, one who still gets the newspaper delivered daily.

As a teenager, I had a paper route, delivering the Lexington Herald — later, and currently, the Lexington Herald-Leader, after the morning Herald merged with the afternoon Lexington Leader — and developed an interest in newspapers. The “newspaper of record” in Kentucky was The Courier-Journal, which was published in Louisville, and it was a full-sized publication, printed on a slightly more expensive paper, and it was a fine newspaper.

Now, I know full well that the newspaper business has been a rough one in the last decade or so, and have written a few stories about it under the category “18th Century Technology.” But while I’ve seen some of the effects of cost-cutting measures as time passed concerning The Philadelphia Inquirer, I hadn’t seen a copy of The Courier-Journal since the mid 1980s, and I have to say that I was stunned. Now owned by Gannett Company, it’s just barely bigger than tabloid sized papers, and it’s second section is simply a reprint of Gannett’s USA Today.

In short, it’s junk these days.  I’ve said previously that printed newspapers are dying technology; with the 24/7 cable news channels and the internet making almost any information a consumer might want available immediately, often for free, a medium which delivers news that is already hours old, and sometimes out-of-date, using dead trees and ink and ending up in the recycling bin — or the garbage can — has one foot in the grave already.


Heading for the Bluegrass State!

Rule 5 Blogging: Women in Combat in History

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Uma Thurman in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude. This week, a look back on some older photos, because, regardless of how we imagine things, armies have been using women in dangerous roles when they needed women in those roles.

Yugoslav fighters, members of the patriot forces, during training at an Allied camp in Italy on February 29, 1944. Click to enlarge.

Christian Lebanese women, members of Kataeb Phalangist party, train with weapons on Sept. 9, 1976. The Lebanese civil war erupted a year earlier. Erich Stering. Click to enlarge.

Jewish women in the Palestine Auxiliary Territorial Service of the British Army learn how to use gas masks, October 14, 1942. Many of them were in service on the Egyptian front. Click to enlarge.

Women help each other with bags at an embarkation port in the U.S. in this January 29, 1943, photo provided by the U.S. Army. They were bound for North Africa with the first detachment of the Women’’s Auxiliary Army Corps to be sent abroad. Click to enlarge.

A female Cambodian soldier totes a machine gun into combat during an operation across the Mekong River from Phnom Penh in the Prek Tamak area of Cambodia on Aug. 26, 1970. This region was the scene of heavy fighting between Cambodian troops and Viet Cong. The young woman is one of many who served as regular soldiers and medics in the rapidly expanded army . Ghislain Bellorget (Click to enlarge)

From Around the Blogroll

Robert Stacey Stacy McCain found the story of a college student, who had to get a restraining order against a very persistent and threatening deranged stalker:

“Eventually it all came to a climax when he attacked, well attempted to attack my then boyfriend in high school when I was 17-years-old and told him he should never speak to me again and threw hot coffee in his face. I got an emergency restraining order. When I returned to work the next morning, he was standing there and chased me back to my car. The restraining order was granted for a period of three years, this was August 2011. He was supposed to be out this month. He continued to contact me. He found me at Dartmouth, at my sorority, he found me at my family’s new home that they moved to. He found me through LinkedIn, Facebook, everything. I tried to delete things, he still found me. He hired a private investigator. We don’t know exactly where he gets his information, all I know is that when I returned home, after 18 months of not seeing this man, I got back to my parents’ house at 1:30 a.m. flying in from Dartmouth and at 8:30 a.m. the next morning he was knocking on my front door,” Woolrich detailed. “When he was arrested by the police, they found what they like to call a rape kit in the back of his car. It consisted of a sweatshirt, firewood, maps of the area, duct tape, a rope tied into a slip noose, hunting knives and various other items. He’s in custody now, because after doing that obvious act of harassment, that became enough for them to press felony charges, felony stalking charges vs. just a simple restraining order violation. When they obtained a search warrant for his house, they realized he had also found my address at school, my parents’ address, my mother’s full-name, he had pictures of me and my fiance that he had scratched my fiance out of.”

Dartmouth’s reaction, when the student said that she wished to carry a concealed weapon was that no, she couldn’t, but would have to call Safety and Security for security escorts, but they became quickly tired of this; she was a burden to them. One wonders: if Miss Woolrich is assaulted in campus, and is unable to defend herself because she’s being denied her Second Amendment rights, will the Dartmouth administrators who took the decision not to allow her to carry a weapon for her defense feel remorse or regret or shame? And would they be held accountable?

Deanna Fisher of the Victory Girls also addressed the story.

Sister Toldjah is taking a three-week summer vacation from blogging. As it happens, your Editor left for vacation this morning, for a week back in the Bluegrass State. A good part of this vacation will be camping, so I won’t have much internet connection.

Karen, the Lonely Conservative, noted that former President Jimmy Carter wants the United States to recognize officially Hamas, a terrorist group. I did a three part review of his book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, as well as a review of his We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work on he older site, and I cannot say that I was anywhere close to impressed. Democrats normally receive close to three quarters of the votes of American Jews, but, despite Mr Carter’s role in securing the Camp David Peace Accords, Jewish voters deserted him in 1980. Apparently, they could see in Mr Carter someone who was no friend.

Of course, many of us have noted that Barack Hussein Obama’s greatest accomplishment was to elevate Mr Carter to being only the second-worst President of modern times; sometimes it seems that Mr Carter is trying to regain his spot as worst ever.

Donald Douglas noted that almost 90% of those who do not get health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will not have to pay the penalty fine tax. As nearly as I can tell, the Affordable Care Act, which has granted exemptions and delays to large numbers of businesses and individuals alike, has succeeded not in getting uninsured Americans covered, but simply in extending federal government regulations over the insurance plans that most Americans already had.

Hube pointed out that the political leadership might have a different take on the illegal immigration problem because illegal immigrants are so rarely a problem for them, personally, or even anybody that they ever encounter.

On Truth Before Dishonor, John Hitchcock tracks another story demonstrating that those people claiming to be anti-Zionist just can’t help themselves when it comes to moving into straight anti-Semitism.

On Le*gal In*sur*rec*tion, William Jacobson is somewhat amused by the withdrawal of Senator John Walsh (D-MT) from the campaign, after it was discovered that he had plagiarized a good part of his masters thesis at the Army War College. Ain’t it amazing how getting into politics brings to light bad things people have done in the past? The obvious lesson: if you have gotten away with some shady stuff in the past, don’t run for, or accept appointment to, public office. Had he been Japanese, the almost expected penalty for getting caught cheating would have been harsher.

Jeff Goldstein waxed sarcastic over the case of Dr Lee Silverman, the psychiatrist who shot his armed attacker, who had already killed one nurse, and was firing at the doctor, because it was against hospital policy for employees to be armed.

William Teach of the Pirate’s Cove notes that the Obama Administration is again seeking to change the tax code without Congress, to keep American companies from reorganizing overseas for tax purposes.

And from Powerline:

Minnesota Cafe Charges “Minimum Wage Fee,” Liberals Outraged
By John Hinderaker

This is currently the most-read story on the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s web site: “Stillwater cafe faces heat for adding ‘minimum wage fee’ to tab.” Minnesota’s Democratic legislature recently voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $8 an hour, 75 cents more than the federal level. Naturally, that increase is leading to higher prices:

A small cafe in Stillwater has thrown itself into the big battle over Minnesota’s minimum wage increases, inundating the cafe with dozens of phone calls and online comments this week after it tacked on a 35-cent fee to meal tabs.

Oasis Cafe owner Craig Beemer said the fee is needed to offset the 75-cent wage hike that took effect Aug. 1, the first time Minnesota’s minimum wage has increased in a decade. Even with only half a dozen servers, Beemer says it will cost him $10,000 more a year to pay servers $8 an hour instead of the federal rate of $7.25 an hour.

What is unique about the Oasis is that the cafe wants its patrons to know where the higher prices are coming from.

There’s more at the link, including the state Democratic Party’s reaction. But what really upsets them isn’t that businesses have to pass along the additional costs, but that at least one business is telling its customers why prices are being increased. The left want you to think that government can simply mandate higher wages, and somehow, magically, such won’t cause higher prices. What this restaurant is doing is telling its customers exactly why prices are higher. Such notifications have the wonderful effect of educating people on just what impact leftist policies have, and that is something they just cannot stand.

The American Left and their (not so) subtle anti-Semitism

From The Wall Street Journal:

Palestine and Double Standards
The world is outraged by Israeli self-defense but only ‘concerned’ when Muslims kill Muslims.
By Bret Stephens | Aug. 4, 2014 7:29 p.m. ET

What follows are excerpts from a June 30, 2014, news account by Tim Craig, the Washington Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan:

Pakistan’s military launched a major ground offensive in the northwestern part of the country Monday, beginning what army commanders say will be a ‘house-to-house search’ for terrorist leaders and other militants.

The offensive began after two weeks of airstrikes in North Waziristan. . . .

In a statement, Pakistan’s military said its soldiers discovered ‘underground tunnels’ and ‘preparation factories’ for explosives during the initial hours of the ground assault. . . .

Backed by artillery and tanks, troops killed 17 terrorists Monday, the army said. Combined with the toll from airstrikes that began June 16, a total of 376 terrorists have died in the offensive, the army said. . . .

More than a half-million residents fled North Waziristan ahead of the ground offensive. The mass evacuation of the area, which has a population of about 600,000, was intended to limit civilian casualties during the operation. The military also set up checkpoints in the area to trap militants.

There’s a lot more at the link, but Mr Stephens, the author, takes us through what else has been happening:

  • Some 1,600 people were killed in Iraq in July, as ISIS fights against the government;
  • In the last ten days, about 1,800 people have been killed in the continuing civil war in Syria; we only heard about Syria when chemical weapons killed about 1,600 people, even though the civil war has produced about 100,000 deaths;
  • Fighting continues in Libya, where a couple hundred people have been killed; and
  • Boko Haram’s war in Nigeria continues, with about 3,000 killed and as many as half a million displaced. Most of the deaths are by one Muslim group against other Muslims. We only heard about Boko Haram when they kidnapped a few hundred girls, and, oddly enough, the fact that Boko Haram is an Islamic jihadist group tends to go unmentioned.

Mr Stephens’ point was explicit in his conclusion:

As for racism, people often point out how peculiar it is that the Jewish state seems to arouse a level of condemnation that never seems to apply equally elsewhere. But perhaps the real racism is the indifference to Muslim suffering around the world when the person dropping the bomb or pulling the trigger is another Muslim. A world that makes a fetish of the alleged guilt of Israel is also a world that holds too much Muslim life cheap.

We have already noted that many of the protests against the Israeli action in Gaza are just as much anti-Semitic as they are anti-Israeli policy. It is intellectually possible to be opposed to Zionism, the belief that the Jews should have a separate nation, and to Israeli government policy, and not be anti-Semtic, but it is an intellectual trick I have never personally seen accomplished.

Is the war in Gaza a nasty one? Yup, sure is! All war is nasty business, and people, innocent people, get killed in all wars. But the left are trying to attack Israel because there are some non-combatant casualties, some deaths among infants and children, while they don’t give two hoots about all of the innocent people killed when Muslims are fighting amongst themselves.

We pointed out how Brandeis University — a Jewish college! — withdrew a planned honorary degree award for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a native Somali woman who has spoken out against female genital mutilation and other excesses perpetrated in the name of Islam. In the name of multiculturalism, of course, because Brandeis can’t offend anyone.

There is a huge, huge double standard going on among the left, one which criticizes Israel for everything it does, yet sweeps under the rug any mention of the murders and wars and rapes and abuse of women when done by Muslims. Many on the left at least try to be subtle about it, and some don’t even realize exactly what they are saying, but it doesn’t take long to find out-right anti-Semitism, to find things which could have been lifted straight from Mein Kampf.

Norman Berdichevsky wrote American Jews’ Paradoxical Allegiance to the Democratic Party, trying — somewhat vainly — to explain the strong loyalty of American Jewish voters to the Democratic Party. If anything good comes out of the war in Gaza, it could be that American Jewish voters will finally see that, in giving their votes to the left, they are giving their votes to people who hate them.
Related Article:

Making some sense on welfare in New Mexico

From the Associated Press, via MSN Money:

State proposes work requirement for food stamps
By Barry Massey

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration proposes to re-impose and broaden work-related requirements on low-income New Mexicans to qualify for food stamps.

Starting in October, the state plans to restore a 20-hour-a-week work requirement for an estimated 26,600 childless adults to get food stamps. The mandate was suspended in 2009 because of the national recession. On-the-job training and community service also can help meet the work mandate.

The administration also proposes to implement a new requirement for low-income parents and other caregivers of children age 6 and older. Adults would have to search for a job or participate in community service to obtain the food assistance.

Food stamp-eligible parents or other household members caring for a child — regardless of the child’s age — have been exempt from job search requirements. Pregnant women and some others, including those who are considered physically or mentally unable to work, will continue to be exempt.

About 420,000 New Mexicans receive food stamps averaging $265 a month. Children represent about 46 percent of those receiving assistance.

The Human Services Department says it’s uncertain how many people would be affected by the proposed job search changes.

More at the original. But the interesting part was further down: since the state restored the work requirement on a limited basis last summer, the number of food stamp recipients dropped by about 20,000 people.

Now, what could account for that decrease? There are some possibilities which have nothing to do with the new work requirements, such as some past recipients moving out of state, or getting married and having a greater family income; there were probably even a few who died. But there are three major possibilities that are the most probable:

  1. Some recipients found new or better jobs without the incentive of losing food stamps;
  2. Some recipients found new or better jobs due to a more diligent search due to the new requirements; or
  3. Some recipients decided that they rather go without food stamps than get a job.

It’s probable that all three of those reasons took a significant chunk of those 20,000 people off of food stamps, and it doesn’t really matter which one it was: all are positives!

After President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 into law, welfare cases dropped. Some of that was due to a string economy, but part of it was also due to the hard incentive facing welfare recipients: a maximum of two consecutive years, and five years lifetime, on public assistance. People who were used to living on the dole realized that they couldn’t stay on welfare for very much longer, and, surprise, surprise, it turned out that many of them actually were able to work for a living, actually were able to get jobs.

The New Mexico regulations are somewhat different. They don’t establish a consecutive years or lifetime cap on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, the name under which the old food stamps program is run, but they do impose a requirement that able-bodied people either work or train for work to stay on the program. Why that would be the slightest bit controversial is beyond me.

The Real Hundred Years War, and It’s Still Raging

I came across this the other day and found it very interesting. I did send it to my “well into history” Brother and he said it was fairly factual. But this month 100 years ago the War to end all Wars, or The Great War started. Although a hideous and punative end Treaty to the war was signed at Paris. It was just a break until the next war started. That ended, and Firestorms have been fought since due to the effects of the First war. The article is interesting in that most of today’s issues have their genesis 100 years ago.

Did You Know These Facts About THE FIRST WORLD WAR?
August 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of what became known as the First World War.

Catastrophic Watershed
1914 marked the end of the greatest century of Missions and the beginning of what proved to be the worst century of persecution. The consequences of the First World War continue to have far reaching repercussions to this present day.

The Great War
Contemporaries called it The Great War because it was literally greater than any war ever waged before that time. In numbers of soldiers involved, in numbers of casualties, in terms of the disastrous consequences, it was the most catastrophic event in the history of civilization.

When Christians Ruled the World
In 1914, Christian nations ruled virtually the whole world. With the exception of China, Japan and the Ottoman Empire, the globe was dominated by Christian powers, either Protestant, as in the case of Britain, Germany and the United States, Roman Catholic as in the case of the Austria Hungarian Empire, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the French Empire, or Orthodox as in the case of the Russian Empire.

- See more at: http://reformationsa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=332&catid=76&Itemid=55#sthash.WIzRwUm9.dpuf

Education spending in Philadelphia

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Study says more money hasn’t helped Philadelphia schools
Martha Woodall, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer | Published Saturday, August 2, 2014, 1:07 AM

The day after state legislators canceled a vote on a cigarette tax to benefit Philadelphia schools, a Harrisburg think tank released a report that said the additional money the district has received in the past had not helped.

The fiscally conservative Commonwealth Foundation on Friday said its analysis showed that while the district’s annual budget had grown by $1 billion since 2002, student achievement has lagged: 80 percent of students cannot read or do math at grade level.

“There is no question there is a crisis and a need for serious reform in Philadelphia schools,” Nathaniel Benefield, a foundation vice president, said Friday.

But giving more money to the district through a “quick fix” like the $2-a-pack cigarette tax would not solve its problems, he said.

District officials dismissed the four-page report.

“It adds noise to a conversation that should be about facts,” district spokesman Fernando Gallard said. “You cannot apply simple math to a complex problem. That is what they are trying to do.”

More at the link, but the agenda of the city’s educational bureaucracy is obvious: Mr Gallard said that the “conversation” should be about the facts, but when it comes to a very inconvenient fact, why that’s just “noise.”

It is, as usual, a tactic of the left to try to dismiss inconvenient facts as “simple math (applied) to a complex problem,” as though “simple math” cannot possibly have anything to say about a complex problem, but the Commonwealth Foundation’s “simple math” demonstrates that “revenue and expenditures have increased despite declining enrollment,” and “Even accounting for inflation, the district has received revenue increases from state, local, and federal sources,” but student performance still lags.

Despite Spending More on Education, Performance is Lagging

  • Philadelphia is one of several large city school districts participating in the “Nation’s Report Card” using the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores every two years. Progress has been flat since 2009. In 2013:
    • More than 80 percent Philadelphia students failed to make proficiency in both reading and math.
    • Philadelphia’s fourth and eighth graders scored below average, when compared to other large U.S. cities, in both reading and math.
    • For both grade levels and subject matters, Philadelphia had approximately twice the number of students perform “below basic” than other participating cities.
  • Philadelphia charter schools outperformed Philadelphia district schools in the 2012-2013 Department of Education’s School Performance Profile. The average charter school earned a score of 66, while the average district school was at 57.5.
  • As a result, many parents are choosing to take their children out of district schools and enroll them in charter schools. Yet demand exceeds capacity. In 2013, 44,000 students were on waiting lists for placement in a charter school, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, most of these in Philadelphia.

Enrollment has Declined More Rapidly than Staff

  • Enrollment in Philadelphia district schools has consistently declined over the last ten years. The district was responsible for 25 percent fewer students in 2012-2013 than in 2002-2003.

More at the link; the .pdf file of the complete report may be found here.

The “simple math” of the Commonwealth Foundation notes that while there are now fewer teachers in the Philadelphia system, the number of students has dropped by a greater percentage than the number of teachers (6.71% vis a vis 25.32%), and the student/teacher ratio has actually declined, by a whopping 19.97%. If increasing per pupil expenditures and decreasing student/teacher ratios are the cures that the education bureaucracy have been telling us they are, then we should have seen a significant gain in student achievement in the City of Brotherly Love, but we have not. Rather, despite the school district’s yearly complaints about not having enough money, the district has been seeing more and more money spent, on a per pupil basis, even accounting for inflation, and continually decreasing student/teacher ratios, no progress at all has been made in Philadelphia, while the data show some improvements in large cities in general, in Pennsylvania statewide, and in the nation as a whole.

In any private business, if an increasing investment was being made in a particular project or product, and no increased return was being realized for that increased investment, the CEO would eliminate that increased investment and fire the lower-level executives who ran the program. In any rational assessment, the conclusion would have to be that the increased investments did not yield the projected results. It’s only in the strange world of the education bureaucracy and the Democratic Party that the failure of the increased investments to yield the projected results, to yield any results, that the conclusion would be that the investments have to be increased even more.

As for the proposed, but as yet not approved, $2.00 per pack cigarette tax, your Editor really doesn’t care whether it is passed or not. The tax would be collected only in Philadelphia, meaning that city residents anywhere close to the county lines1 who buy cigarettes will simply cross into the suburban counties to buy their cancer sticks. At $2.00 a pack, or $20.00 a carton, the trip is economically worthwhile. The Editor does not live in Philadelphia, nor does he smoke, so the tax doesn’t affect his family or him in the slightest. And, quite frankly, it puts the onus for increased spending on Philadelphia schools on Philadelphia residents, where it ought to be. Of course, poorer people tend to smoke in greater percentages than do the well-to-do, so this new tax, if approved, will fall more heavily on poorer people, and Democrats, so it’s kind of humorous to see the Democrats urging it on. And if the tax reduces cigarette consumption in Philadelphia, the anticipated revenues will not be realized, and the school district will come back, begging for more money. With the Democrats, with the educational bureaucracy, that’s simply a given. It won’t actually help anything, but when has that ever stopped the left from wanting to spend more tax dollars?

  1. Philadelphia County borders Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks Counties.

A Wondering Question – Christian Groups

I was just thinking about the slaughter of the Branch Davidians about two decades ago. Still wondering why they were handed a death sentence without a trial. Same as the fellow and his wife in Idaho a few years before that. We know that the other religion that is at war with anybody who dares disagree with them in the slightest. Now what if a sect of a non-denominational religion adopted all the tenents of the group that hates everyone, but does have, have say the hate filled rhetoric of the group from Kansas where its hate-filled leader recently died. But instead of being a small group like that, they were a group of millions everywhere. What would the government do? And would what they do to the other group to be “Fair” and “Equal”? Or would it be a Branch Davidian Redux? Wandering minds need to know?