Sunday, November 30, 2008

145 chances

Almost un--be--liev--able. After 146 criminal charges and just 5 days after his latest conviction he obtains a gun, attempts to rob a convenience store and gets himself killed by an off duty security guard who obviously doesn't work for Wackenhut. Here's the MNPD press release. Emphasis added.

November 30, 2008

Detectives are classifying this morning’s shooting death of armed robbery suspect Jamie L. Sullivan as justifiable homicide.

Sullivan, 37, entered the Mapco market, 2101 Murfreesboro Pike, at 1:45 a.m. wearing a mask and carrying a pistol. Also in the market was uniformed security guard Eric Gordon, 22, who had stopped in to buy gasoline. According to Gordon, Sullivan pointed his pistol at Gordon’s head and threatened to kill him if he (Gordon) didn’t surrender his holstered gun. As Sullivan moved to take Gordon’s gun, a struggle ensued. Gordon drew his nine millimeter pistol and shot Sullivan one time in the face. Sullivan died at the scene. Detectives subsequently discovered that Sullivan’s gun was a BB pistol that closely resembled a real firearm.

Sullivan had been charged by Metro police with 146 offenses over the past 19 years (between June 1989 and this month). His last arrest was November 20 for trespassing, which resulted in a conviction and a 30-day sentence on November 25.

Sullivan’s photograph is being withheld at present so as not to jeopardize potential photo lineups as South Precinct detectives investigate whether he was involved in other crimes.

Gordon is a security guard for ASPI Services.
Who was the judge who didn't send him directly to jail upon his conviction? Sullivan would likely be alive now and two citizens wouldn't be two more victims.


File this with the statements from folks who think outlawing guns will actually work. This from the chairman of the corporation that owns the hotel in Mumbai, India that was attacked this past week.

However, [Ratan] Tata said the attackers did not enter through the entrance that has a metal detector. Instead, they came in a back entrance, he said.

"They knew what they were doing, and they did not go through the front. All of our arrangements are in the front," he said.

"They planned everything," he said of the attackers. "I believe the first thing they did, they shot a sniffer dog and his handler. They went through the kitchen."

Melanie Phillips is exactly right on in calling this another specific attack on civilization. These Islamic Terrorist picked that location and the people that would be there. We need to quit being surprised that they're using non-conventional tactics. It's completely foolish to expect people at war to use the front door and politely wait to be scanned for metal. Apparently, our local middle schools have better intrusion protection than this luxury hotel in an area that has a history of violence between factions. How dare they come in the back way?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spreading the wealth

I love contrasting the Jamestown and Plymouth Plantation settlements while teaching. There were important differences. The Heritage Foundation's Insider reminds us during this season of remembering the first Thanksgiving that spreading the wealth didn't work then and won't work now:

William Bradford, governor of Plymouth, wrote in his journal that the experience taught him: “the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by men of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.”
Further the authors at the Insider write:
But after a three-year experiment, it was clear the system was failing miserably. Everyone was equal, but the Pilgrims took little comfort in the fact they were starving to death equally.
In this season of bailing out businesess that ought to be allowed to sink or swim on their own we have a congress that is hell bent on ensuring that we all 'starve to death equally' during the time set aside for feasting. Enjoy that turkey and trimmings. It might be much harder to come by next year.

Show us the paper

It's a great question Joe The Farmer asks:

The question not being asked by the holders of power, who dismiss this as a rightwing conspiracy, is what's the downside of disclosing?
Really--what is the downside of disclosing? The longer Obama withholds his "Certificate of Live Birth" from the public the more concerned I get. Obama may be a man with a global view of citizenship but the Constitution he's about to swear he'll preserve, protect and defend still requires our presidents to be 'natural born' citizens. At some point we've got to decide how we're going to enforce that Constitutional provision or else it, and the rest of the document, is worthless.

If that wasn't bad

My state representative opines on the new Republican controlled Tennessee legislature:

"I think our friends across the aisle have some bad things in store for the people of Tennessee," said Old Hickory Rep. Mike Turner, who was elected [Democrat] caucus chairman.
  • Like 600 billion 800 million dollars in illegal over the Copeland Cap spending?
  • Like a 17 million dollar party bunker?
  • Like Crutchfield, Ford, Ford, Bowers, Dixon, Briley & Cooper?
  • Like stealing elections from fellow party member Kurita and making a mockery of the election process?
  • Like propping up a Lt. Governor who pontificates to the point that, to paraphrase O. Ford, hasn't been hitting on nothing with most of us for some time?
  • Like allowing junior high treatment of 'friends across the aisle' in committee meetings?
  • Like using the Calendar and Rules Committee to kill legislation that did manage to get through the stacked against it committee system?
  • Like refusing to require recorded votes in every committee to ensure cover for election time?
  • Like creating a literal back room for deal making during recent renovations?
  • Like ignoring a huge ethics issue with the Speaker and his lobbyist wife
  • Like expending money for golf courses and college quads over classroom funding for K-12?
  • Like letting Memphis legislators drive education policy for the whole state?
I'm sure others can quickly add to the list of abuses by the Democratically controlled legislature that were and have been bad for Tennesseans for some time. If the above weren't bad for Tennesseans---just what is?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How smart are they?

Great take on the Obama's hypocritical choice of Sidwell Friends for their daughters at Jay Greene's site. Turns out, according to education experts, Sidwell Friends is in horrible shape and is no place to send a child. Jay sums up a great post with:

Or maybe we should be worried. After all, the Obamas did pick this shockingly substandard school, even though they had the opportunity to go with the nation’s most lavishly funded and heavily unionized schools in the D.C. public system, so how smart can they be?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Equity of rights

Great quote in the December 2008 edition of the School Reform News:

"Americans insist on equality of opportunity in housing, employment, and public accommodations, yet we trample upon this right where it hurts us most--the raising and nurturing of our children," said Rabbi Israel Teitelbaum cofounder of Parents for Free Choice in Education...
In the meantime another family that can afford choice gets a free pass to use it:
President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle “have every right” to send their children to public or private school, and no one should “criticize” their decision, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), said in an interview with on Monday at the National Press Club.
Got that? NO ONE should criticize their decision. But it's OK to hamper the efforts of poor families in Milwaukee, Cleveland, Washington DC and Nashville, TN to use vouchers and charters in order to raise and nurture their children as they determine is best for them.

No hope or change here.

UPDATE: They Obama's have chosen Sidwell Friends (again replicating the Clinton administration).

They will also be joining the grandchildren of Vice President Elect Joe Biden. In fact, Malia had told her parents she wanted to attend Sidwell because of her friendship with one of the grandchildren, according to sources familiar with the decision.

In selecting Sidwell, the Obamas have chosen a rigorous school where many of Washington's most prominent and moneyed families have sent their children. Vice President Gore moved his son, Albert Gore III, to Sidwell from St. Albans in the 1990s, and Washington Post Co. chairman Donald Graham sent his children there as well.

Ben Cunningham has the tuition numbers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

RIP: Marshall Fritz

A strong voice for children and their parents is gone. Marshall Fritz has passed according to his Separation of Church and State site.

He wisely advised that "Sunday School, Monday School—Neither is the Business of Government." He wrote, "some people think that the American "public school system" is broken so they try to fix it. The truth is that public schooling is not broken. Rather, it is succeeding in its main objective—strengthening government by undermining parents..." via Lisa Snell at Hawaii Reporter

Hat tip: Why Homeschool

On the same day

On the same day that homeschooling blogs are abuzz about the latest offensive and ignorant comments from Joy Behar of "The View" in which she called homeschoolers 'demented' we also get this report from the Hoover Institute. Here are some snips:

While home schooling may have particular appeal to celebrities, over the last decade families of all kinds have embraced the practice for widely varying reasons: no longer is home schooling exclusive to Christian fundamentalism and the countercultural Left. Along with growing acceptance of home schooling nationally has come increasing diversification of who home schools and of what home schooling actually means.
By the 21st century, state laws were well established and uncontested, though nearly every year state legislators or judges, especially in the most permissive states, seek to increase regulations on home-schooling families in the name of accountability. Such initiatives nearly always fail due to the astonishing grass-roots organization and political mobilization of home schoolers.

Home schooling is blending with other education movements to lead the way toward a 21st-century education matrix that is far more dynamic and adaptive than the schooling patterns of the past.

Again, as our new Tennessee Legislature starts working on their plans for education I want to encourage them to read this Hoover Institue article and craft and fund a public education system that isn't anchored to the old way of delivering education and embraces the new, more efficient and more customizable ways. The goal is not full employment of teachers, brick layers or bus drivers. The goal is to educate children. The how must fit the child.

Hat Tip Hoover Institute essay: Ben Cunningham

No room for failure

From CitizenNetMom:

The big problem for us is not the advanced students, though. It’s those who struggle to pass Algebra 1, and who will have loads of trouble with everything beyond that. There’s no room for failure, as repeating a class would require taking two math classes in the same year. (snip)

The bottom line is, today’s high school students have many fewer options than their parents did, and next year’s freshmen will have still fewer options than their older siblings did. There is no room for experimentation — they’re essentially picking a "major" for high school. Unlike college, there is no room for changing majors.

At 14, a student must choose a path for the rest of her life.

She has a lot more to say about the new tougher requirements I will encourage parents and legislators to read through it. I'll remind people that we've had Democrats in control of the House Education Committee for a good long time and that committee, which was Memphis heavy, was responsible for these standards. I can't explain why they thought this was a good idea when they clearly knew that too many of their students couldn't reliably maintain a B average to qualify for lottery scholarships.

Taxpayers, voters and parents should look toward the new Republican controlled Tennessee legislature and encourage them to seriously consider rolling back some of this. These new standards may look good on paper and in theory however, they will not improve the graduation rates. They will only increase the dropout rate as more and more students who didn't get Algebra I, partly because their basic arithmetic or reading skills were insufficient, get frustrated and leave.

It seems a good time to review just what our society can afford to provide in the way of education. It has got to be clear to nearly everyone that the sky is not the limit. Let's set some reasonable benchmarks and once they've mastered those skills let's free up students to move on with their lives outside of taxpayer supported government schooling in the workplace or further education or training.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mapping Middle School

Based on the chart MNPS Middle schools are looking pretty good.

Green with a dot = Exceptional
Green = Exceeds Standards
Yellow = Meets Standards

The Democrat Bus

AC Kleinheider at the Nashville Post asks:

Has (Republican Lt. Gov. Ron) Ramsey just thrown Rosalind Kurita under the bus?
Rosalind Kurita's problems are not the Republican Party's problem. It's the problem of the Democrat Party solely.

They were the ones that didn't groom anyone to take over the Lt. Gov. job before it became obvious Wilder was becoming incompetent. Anyone with sense, like Kurita, realized he was unfit to continue in the office and that wasn't good for the Democrat Party or, more importantly, the State of Tennessee. She did the right thing and she was rewarded for her brave move with the Speaker Pro Tempore job for two years.

Democrats were the ones who stole the election from Kurita as payback for not supporting Wilder.

Democrats owned and drove the bus that drove over Kurita.

It's their party and they can cry if they want to but don't come begging to Republicans for sympathy.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Judging the Judges

One of the most frustrating parts of being an informed voter is the lack of information regarding judges. Never having appeared in a courtroom, other than to be sworn in as a BOE member, I haven't had much opportunity to observe judges in action, so when it came time to vote for or retain judges, it's been a tough call. It's very difficult to find legitimate information on which to base a vote.

NewsChannel5's Phil Williams does voters another solid with his recent reports on local judges.

Yesterday it was Judge Gale Robinson. Yes, he is of the Nashville Robinson Funeral Home family which includes among others Muriel and Robb Robinson. The Memphis Ford family (John, Ophelia and the rest) and Nashville's own Robinson political family have found it very convenient to operate funeral parlors and have a second (or is that first) career in politics. Throw in a Garrett or two and ya gotta wonder: what is it about politics and funeral operators? I guess it's the ability to set your own hours.

The money quote:

"My first priority has always and will continue to be always my judicial duties," Robinson said, walking off.
Clearly this is not the case else the Judge wouldn't be moonlighting during the day while mere citizens, who don't dare raise a stink out of fear of retribution, are left to wait for the judge to grant them an audience.

Today it's Judge Gloria Dumas of the Environmental Court.

Her response after admitting that she has a tardiness problem:
"Am I saying that's my big old flaw? Yeah," she added. "If you're looking for perfect, you need to throw me out because I am not perfect."

No. We're not looking for perfect. We are looking for someone who'll actually do the job. If we're already paying her and another attorney to do her work--someone is expendable. Let's remember this come election time.

What I can't figure out is why the rest of the judges enable this activity and don't have a 'come to Jesus' meeting with these who aren't pulling their weight. What's in it for them that they would continue to cover for them?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fully expected

The City Paper headline tells us: MNPS denies all three charter school applications. That was fully expected. Coulda written that headline months ago.

This is another reason to be thankful they'll be a Republican House and Senate in Tennessee. We can rewrite these charter school laws so that the school boards, which consider these public schools competitors, don't have the authority to approve or deny these applications in such a routine manner. Alan Coverstone (District 9) has the right idea. Let's approve them with provisions. Especially ones with track records of success like Smithson-Craighead and KIPP that want to expand. Typical protectionism. If you can't or won't improve your own job performance, make sure there are no other choices.

And here's the incredible truth that makes one wonder why, when one considers the lack in their own system, the MNPS BOE should have any say in judging a charter school's fitness:

Both Smithson-Craighead and KIPP Academy have met all benchmarks set by federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, despite serving populations of students considered by many to be high-risk. All of Smithson-Craighead’s students, and 94.3 percent of KIPP Academy’s, are considered economically disadvantaged by state Report Card data. LEAD just completed its first year of operation, so no Report Card data is available.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good start

The Tennessee Republican Caucus has issued a statement (with the 50 signatures of its members) demonstrating their

"...unified commitment to vote for a Republican for Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. We also commit to vote for a Republican Speaker Pro Tempore."
I'm waiting to also see a version of this letter for the constitutional officers and every committee chair in the House and Senate. Then I'll feel a bit more comfortable about whether they really understand what our votes meant.
Tennessee voters asked for change by electing Republicans to lead, and Tennessee voters are ready for common sense to make a comeback in government.
Common sense says we voted a Republican majority we want Republicans, not RINOS, not Democrats who voted with us now and again and figure they're owed any sort of bone, but Republicans who are real conservatives running the legislature and those constitutional offices.

Do not mess this first step up! We cannot show Tennesseans how superior conservatism is if we act all hands-across-the aisle and lose that hand to get the job done. Let the Democrats squeal and complain. I'll start listening to their complaints about how unfair it is in about 140 years.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Repesentative Naifeh meet Speaker Mumpower

Last legislative session: Lt. Gov. Ramsey, Representative Wilder
2009: Speaker Mumpower, Representative Naifeh
Man that looks good. That's some serious progress.

I'm glad to read from WPLN:

State Republican Party by-laws were recently revised to require caucus members to vote along party lines on certain issues. State party chairwoman Robin Smith says the rule will be in effect when the General Assembly votes for Secretary of State, Treasury and Comptroller.
“Not asking for every member to stand in line and cast a straight party ballot every single time, but if you’re going to run on the Republican ticket, enjoy the benefits of the Republican Party, there’s a few votes procedurally and leadership-wise, that are expected to benefit the caucus.” (emphasis added)
I certainly hope those Republican by-laws extend to the Speakership of the House. It's been tremendously frustrating to see Republican's make accommodations for their Democrat colleagues and essentially give away the power necessary to accomplish what mere voters sent them to the legislature to accomplish. We don't need to 'reach across the aisle' and give away the farm. Sorry. What we need, especially now, is Republicans that will vote like real conservatives and not RINOS. We have a perfect opportunity to demonstrate why we don't need the Democrats to return to power. That means being fiscally conservative as well as socially. That means being willing to be accountable and honest. We can finger point at how Wilder and Naifeh enabled the Fords, Crutchfields, and Briley's of their party but Tennessee cannot afford to have a Republican version of the same misuse of power. Don't enable anyone's bad behavior.

According to the Tennessean's Gail Kerr this morning long time House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh isn't ready to leave his comfortable position: "Naifeh is already working to try to pull together a bipartisan collection of votes to stay put."

If any Republican makes a deal with Naifeh he should be given former Senator Mike Williams old office in the parking garage and his bills should get the "Campfield" treatment.

It's only just begun

Is this the mantra for a new administration in Washington?

"I want my money today! It's my money. I want it right now!" WTHR TV
This time he earned it. Will those who expect government entitlements be shouting the same thing in the not too distant future based on promises made during the campaign?

It's only just begun. I think The Onion makes it clear what's ahead for the newbie.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Good news for Tennessee

I'm sighing big with relief this morning that the Republicans have control of both the Tennessee House and Senate. Thank you to all of you who worked so hard to create this change of guard. This is even better than just defeating one or two troublesome legislators. This is a fundamental shift in how the House will be doing business. As a result of yesterday's election we'll have Republican control of the committee system that has stymied ethics reform and freedoms. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

I am so thankful Naifeh isn't in control of the House. I'm so thankful that the Odem/Naifeh fight over the speakership is a moot point. So thankful I won't have to work hard to get legislation through the House TEA leaning Education Committees only to have it die in the Democrat controlled Calendar and Rules Committee which is the House trump card when all else fails.

The difference between the success here in Tennessee for the Republicans and those across the nation is that Republicans here have clearly demonstrated their difference from the Democrats. Party Chair Robin Smith has taken a LOT of heat about how she's run that organization but the proof most certainly is in the pudding. Look at what her leadership has brought us. Thank you, Robin. Thank you to every Republican who put themselves out there as a candidate. Thank you to every phone, poll, sign, financial volunteer. Thank you to every voter.

I'm already looking forward to a Christmas that doesn't have the dread of a January opening of the legislature and the shenanigans that might ensue. Yes, I'm breathing easier today.