Mind the Gap

Written by Yappy.

"Disappointing numbers were released Thursday, showing the achievement gap between white students and students of color in Minnesota remains far apart" reads the headline.  One might think it embarrassing that such a progressive and tolerant state as Minnesota has one of the largest gaps in educational achievement between white students and students of color, but of course embarrassment and hypocrisy are alien concepts to progressives.  So is doing what works, or seeing reality for what it is.  Thus we have statements like, “What is the actual purpose of [these] test[s]?  What’s it measuring?”  You’re getting into the mode of always getting ready for another test rather than learning the skills necessary to achieve.” 

Criticisms like this imply that "teaching to the test" is not an adequate education, and that may be true.  But it stands to reason that if teachers WERE teaching to the test, the test scores would be better, would they not?  Apparently, teachers are no better at teaching to the test than they are teaching anything else and that isn't a condemnation of teachers, but rather the "system" in which they work.  The gap we should mind and be addressing is the gap between what our expensive public schools promise and what they deliver.  Then, the other gap will take care of itself.

Finally Understanding

Written by Yappy.

I have been trying for months to understand the reasons why people say they will never vote for Donald Trump.  I assumed that if I could find those reasons that perhaps, like all other reasoning Republicans, they could be persuaded otherwise, rather than this being a case of trying to reason someone out of a position that they had not reasoned themselves into in the first place.  I also note that many of these good people have more than one reason, either simultaneously or in a progression as events unfold.

The first and most obvious reason would have been that one preferred a different candidate.  That was a very good reason for quite a long time, but with Tuesday night's roll call of the states, that objection must surely, on reasonable grounds, be set aside.  Somewhat akin to that was the reasoning that said he couldn't win the nomination because he wasn't somehow "playing the game right."  That reason as well has been made inoperative, since he won the most Republican primary votes of any candidate in history.

There have also been two very good and very Republican reasons to oppose the Trump candidacy.  One was that he would have a huge negative impact on the down-ballot contests, perhaps giving Congress back to the Democrats.  Recent polls on these individual races, even as the Trump candidacy became more certain, seem to be largely disproving this "reverse coattails" effect.  The other concern was quite similar, that Trump was so unlikable and un-liked that Hillary would win in a landslide.  With the polls already showing a very close race and showing Trump ahead in some battleground states, that reason needs to be surrendered, as well.

Finally, there are only two reasons remaining.  The first is that Donald Trump is not a very good conservative.  While I am not certain that means as much as it should, especially considering that Hillary Clinton is a TERRIBLE conservative, I'm reminded that the same thing was said about Mister Romney, about Mister McCain, and about Mister Dole.  If that was the reason why Republican voters stayed home and caused these estimable gentlemen to lose, I hope to Heaven these folks see reason to come out to vote against Hillary. 

The last reason to be "NeverTrump" is that he is just not a very good man, and I am only now understanding why.  Purely and simply, too many Republicans and conservatives have once again been duped by the Democrats and their major media allies.  I am amazed at the apparent number of people who have not yet recognized the "playbook" being used.  In every presidential year, the drive-by media will talk up one of our Republican candidates, calling them the front-runner and so forth, and then tear them down to focus on another-- lather, rinse repeat.  Usually the last one they build up is the candidate they have essentially chosen for us but, immediately after the nomination, the destructive news cycle begins.  Mister Trump has refused to play by this playbook and actually turned the tables on them by using their coverage of him to win the nomination.  Unfortunately they started their assaults on his character long ago (it will no doubt get worse) and too many of us have believed it.  We've simply got to quit doing that, and use our reason.  There is no reason not to.

Speaking Advice

Written by Yappy.

Dear President Obama:

It has become painfully obvious that you have absolutely no idea "who we are," or what "the right thing to do" is.  Your actions do not "reflect our values" because, "let me be perfectly clear," your values and ours have nothing in common.  Therefore it would be much appreciated if you would stop using these meaningless and deceptive phrases in every one of your vacuous pronouncements, on every subject.  Thank you. 

Virtuous Voting

Written by Yappy.

Assuming for the moment that the general election comes down to choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and realistically those WILL be the only choices, is there a proper course of action for those who would like to cast a vote in favor of values and virtues?  I claim that there is a rational decision-making process to arriving at that choice.

First of all, I think almost everyone would see this choice as one more instance of choosing the lesser of two evils.  It is the conventional wisdom that virtue requires one to choose the lesser evil because otherwise the greater evil wins.  Those of strong virtue, however, argue that the lesser evil is still evil, and refuse to endorse either evil with their vote.  Unfortunately, "none of the above" has never been an option on the ballot.  Think of it this way: if you believe that those supporting the greater evil are themselves more evil than you, as they must be, then can you believe they have the same strong virtue as you and will likewise NOT vote?  Or would they vote for the greater evil willingly and knowingly?  Under those circumstances, the greater evil triumphs because the virtuous refuse to "get their hands dirty."  You don't have to be enthusiastic about your choices, but you have to make the most virtuous vote, by whatever slim margin, that you can.    

Climate Hustle

Written by Yappy.

I attended the one-night-only showing of the new movie "Climate Hustle" last evening.  I must confess it was disappointing.  I had hoped for a large crowd and that they would be exposed to the overwhelming scientific evidence that this "catastrophic anthropogenic (man-made) global warming" (CAGW) was a fraud, a great pseudoscientific hoax.  Instead I got sort of a Sesame-Street, short-attention-span flurry of images followed by several rounds of talking-head discussion.  The arguments in favor boil down to three rather questionably useful precepts:  1) a trend will continue until it changes, 2) correlation is proof of causation, and 3) that we can reliably predict the future AND we can change it (mostly by wishing it so).  All of these, quite reasonably, were shown by simple logic and observed data to be false.  There was enough real science to completely disprove the CAGW theory, but mostly the message was that this is a religious and political movement with ZERO scientific evidence in support of it.  I guess "hustle" was the correct title, but didn't we already know that?

Abide With Me

Written by Yappy.

No, I'm not talking about the old Hymn.  I'm talking about the current silly season of GOP endorsing conventions.  Everywhere you turn you see  Party activists asking, or even demanding, that candidates "abide by the endorsement" (rather than run in a primary), as if issue positions and electability were not important.  And you see candidates either promising it and criticizing those who promise not, waffling on the subject, or honestly saying they are going to the primary.  That last seems to really matter most to the delegates, and they often push to forcing such a pledge on every candidate.  Really, that is backwards.

What it amounts to is an attempt to make the endorsement have value, by fiat, when what we should be doing is making the endorsement have REAL value!  That is, the endorsement should carry with it financial support, volunteer hours, publicity and media exposure, and vigorous support.  This means that 100%-- every single one— of the delegates must go out and somehow convince, literally, 1000 general election voters that their endorsed candidate is the best one!  Endorsement, in short, should almost guarantee victory in November.  That is the only value endorsement can have.

But that is not what actually happens.  When the 60% of votes required to gain endorsement is reached, those 60% essentially say, "Well, I got him the endorsement, so I'm done."  And the 40% that wanted somebody else essentially say, "He's not my guy, so I'm done."  Therefore, almost 100% of the delegates, instead of doing everything they can and must do to win the election, go home and open a bag of Cheetos.  Such an endorsement has almost no value and it's our fault.  Maybe WE are the ones that need to take responsibility for and abide by the endorsement?

Trumping Truth

Written by Yappy.

So, Donald Trump is running all over complaining about how Colorado Republicans "cheated" him of victory, "denied people a vote," or that the system was "rigged" against him.  Balderdash.  As usual, the Powerline guys are right on, with a historic cartoon labeled, "Colorado 1912: Caucus system adopted to screw Trump out of delegates." 

I hope people catch on that Trump is simply a whining loser who won't even take the time to learn the rules of the game, let alone play fairly within them.  It should be most obvious to Minnesotans, who have the same system as Colorado.  We (and they) have always had a caucus and convention system to eventually choose delegates to the National Convention, where delegates vote their choice for the Presidential nominee of the Party.  Nobody is "denied a vote" because caucuses have always been open to everybody, it's just that most people do not make the "effort" of a few hours every two years, and the world belongs to those who show up. 

Both Minnesota and Colorado have, for the last several cycles, added a "Presidential straw poll" feature to their caucuses.  It increased turnout and garnered us some small bit of attention from the Presidential campaigns.  Last year, however, the Republican National Committee, in its role of controlling the Presidential primary calendar (Iowa first, New Hampshire second, etc) ruled that states had two choices:  Have their caucus at their assigned time in the calendar (both MN and CO were March 1) WITHOUT a straw poll, or have it at the same time and make the straw poll "binding" on National Delegates, essentially turning the straw poll into a primary.  Colorado wisely chose the former, continuing as they always have but without the straw poll.  Minnesota chose the latter and, indeed, more people—almost double—turned out to vote, overwhelming the caucus facilities and facilitators, but that is ALL they did.  They didn't stay and actually become involved in the Party or in choosing state and local candidates or discussing platform issues.  Not only that, but Marco Rubio won the State, his only state win, and Donald Trump still came in third!  Why isn't Trump complaining about US?  A little attention from his campaign might be nice, since surely we did something wrong if he didn't win.  :-/

Trump Supporters

Written by Yappy.

No, I am not going to talk about those crowds that attend Trump's rallies or vote for him in "winning" numbers in the primary process.  I don't feel the need to psychoanalyze them as some sort of fool, groupie, racist or revolutionary.  I think they have a righteous anger against the tyranny of political correctness, the corruption of our news media and of our government, and against the "stupidity" of the current administration's outrages and the Republican fecklessness at curbing it.  Leave them be; they have the right message but a poor messenger. 

The supporters I am talking about are those who are angry just because they are ALWAYS angry at anyone who dares to speak the truth and makes no apologies for it.  These are the PC Nazis and their tactics are straight out of the Leftist playbook.  They riot, they shout down, they intimidate, they spout lies at every opportunity, and the media gives them extensive coverage and a head-pat.  With every riot, though, sympathy and support for Trump goes UP.  And in this odd campaign, the would-be powers that be in the GOP have the same problem.  Every time some GOP "establishment" type makes some statement about "stopping Trump" or talking about what a problem he is, THAT adds to Trump's appeal as an "anti-establishment" candidate.  A man can be known by the enemies he makes, perhaps even better than by his friends.  If the GOP really wanted to stop Trump, they should shut up about him.  Getting on the same side as the leftist rioters isn't a winning strategy; it just makes Trump stronger.

About that three-way

Written by Yappy.

It is said that every man's dream is to have a three-way, but the current Republican Presidential contest looks a lot more like a nightmare, with too many of the possible combinations leading to an unpleasant outcome.  First, of course, you have the much-ballyhooed competition between Donald Trump and the not-Trumps, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Because of "the Donald's" long history of saying and doing things NOT conservative, this is perhaps the most important and worrisome combination. 

 But you also have the anti-establishment – Trump and Cruz – vs. (unfairly or not) establishment darling Rubio.  This could also be called the Angry vs. the Docile, again perhaps unfair, but "The Young and the Restless" was already taken for a different soap opera and besides, that would better apply to Cruz and Rubio against the more elderly Trump.  Lastly, you have the Leader vs. the Dealmakers, which is Cruz against Trump and Rubio.  Never mind that Trump claims he will make "such good deals you won't believe it," they are still deals, and Rubio still believes he can work with Democrats.  Now whether Cruz can deliver on his clear policy objectives without making deals and compromises, even assuming Republicans maintain control of Congress, isn't an unreasonable question.  I know how I would vote, but unfortunately I don't get to vote for everybody else.  There is such a thing as too many in a three-way.

Sure, When You Say it THAT Way

Written by Yappy.

It is difficult to disagree with the Alliance for Better Minnesota (ABM) and their aims, when they state them as they do, but how many of us really recognize the issues when described this way?  For those not familiar with how the English language can be twisted for propaganda purposes, I offer a translation and comment.

"Continue Minnesota’s push to create clean energy jobs and protecting our natural resources from extreme Republican legislation."  This means government should continue to favor energy that costs 3 times more than conventional sources, "creating" jobs at $250,000 each while eliminating two other jobs, while doing almost zero (less than one part in 100 million reduction in CO2, if that even matters) for the environment.  That "extreme Republican" stuff is just boilerplate for when Republicans are right on an issue.  You see it a lot.  
 
"Fight back against Republican efforts to make it hard for legal voters to vote."  What this really means is that the DFL favors making it easy for ILLEGAL voters to vote, thereby corrupting the integrity of Minnesota elections.  From what I know about our current Secretary of State, I would be amazed if any election was fair.  The only reason for hope is Hugh Hewitt's book title "If It Ain't Close They Can't Cheat."

"Holding corporations using profits to buy elections accountable to their customers."  That means we want to completely excuse unions and other liberal special interests from using FORCED dues and forced taxpayer dollars to buy elections.  I know when I saw Target stand up to these liberal bullies, I doubled my shopping there. Too bad I can't choose to withhold the "profits" of the teachers union.

"Preventing Republicans from stripping rights away from LGBT Minnesotans, and helping advance anti-bullying legislation."  This would first require that LBGT Minnesotans be granted some new special rights and privileges that they have never had, which is what ABM wants. "Anti-bullying legislation" is just a way of forcing everyone, starting with children, to accept that which they do not want to accept.  It's bullying.

"Preventing the most vulnerable from being cut from health insurance coverage, driving up costs for everyone."  The flaw in this formulation is that cuts to government health insurance-- if there are ever true cuts-- always start, as perhaps they should, with those LEAST vulnerable-- those who could afford some form of coverage if government wasn't so quick and willing to provide it.  The cost of health coverage could be reduced drastically if government would simply get OUT of the health care business.


"Protecting eduction [sic] funding, keeping class sizes low, and paying our teachers what they're worth." We can't spell education, but the underqualified (based on results)and overpaid union teachers need more money to be less effective with fewer students.  Education funding is, after all, DFL funding.  


"Push to fund a jobs bill before tax cuts for big business."  We believe that the legislature should repeal the laws of economics, whereby business income and expansion creates jobs. Being 47th best of the 50 states in business climate isn't  enough; we need to be 49th, next to last. 


"Restore tax fairness to Minnesota."  We should further punish success and reward failure in the economy. Being the 4th highest taxing state in the nation isn't good enough; we want to be number 1!   


"Stop Republican attempts to gerrymander new districts to their advantage."  Unlike the other items, it is difficult to see how this particular language is going to appeal to the general public.  It would not be any more palatable if they said they would stop DFL attempts to gerrymander new districts.  Including this as their last point simply lets slip the truth that all of these items are on the DFL's hyper-partisan wish list, not some unbiased listing of desirable public policy.

The political left and their media allies have long used language to elude rather than to elucidate.  When they traduce, we must translate.

Say What You Will

Written by Yappy.

Say what you will about Donald Trump as a candidate for president.  It seems the mainstream media cannot say enough about him; it's like he's a celebrity or something.  Say what you will about Donald Trump as a conservative.  Just about everybody saying they themselves are a conservative for fun or profit, including most recently the whole crowd at National Review, are saying that Trump is not.  Say what you will, but Trump's gift seems to be saying what YOU will about the contentious issues in a contentious way.  And say what you will about Trump supporters, but you must concede that their righteous but unfocused anger and frustration are reasonable given the circumstances.  I am not convinced that this anger necessarily translates into votes for Mr. Trump, nor if it does, how that translates into desirable and effective public policy.  We will know about the first question tomorrow, in Iowa.  I really wish I had more faith in the second.