Monthly Archives: March 2012

In Which First Contact Goes Horribly Awry

First Contact: Not the desired outcome

I had an interesting encounter on Twitter this morning, that could surely be used as a case study for alienating people who should be your allies.

Let me preface this by saying that @jimmiebjr is one of my oldest and dearest Twitter friends. In fact, he registered for Twitter the same day as I and was probably one of my first follows. He was unfailingly helpful to me as a new blogger, and still is a source of support and encouragement. So when this turned up in my timeline, you can imagine that I was a little put out.

Okay, I’ve never seen you before and not only do you show up in my timeline, insulting a friend, but you toss in some minor vulgarity to boot. And here’s where it all goes…weird. Mute? Huh? Until April? This apparently means “block,” but not before shooting off a couple of self-righteous DMs. Whoa! Way to overreact! And call names! And condescend! Tell me this. Am I crazy, or did he not involve me by including me in an @ reply? And really, what was the point of including me, other than to try and make Jimmie look bad in front of his friends? How childish is that? Honestly, I don’t even know what their debate was all about. I was just objecting to him insinuating himself into my consciousness by insulting a friend. Talk about being an a**hole…Pot! Meet! Kettle!

Here’s a tip for Mr. Crabbypants. If you don’t want people to respond to you, don’t include them in your @ replies. And if they do reply, don’t quote Scripture to them to try to shame them for participating in a conversation into which you invited them. I believe this is all covered in Social Media 98: Remedial Twitter. Oh, and another thing. Blocking people for having the temerity to point out your own rudeness? Not the best way to maximize your network.

Zefram Cochrane would be turning over in his grave. You know, if he were born yet. So the next time you approach someone for the first time, how about a simple “Live long and prosper.” You’ll be better for it.

(Of course Mr. Crabbypants will never see this post because – hey! – he blocked me. And he’ll continue to wonder why people accuse him of being condescending.)


Update: It appears that Mr. Crabbypants’ awkward use of social media puts him in good company. In fact, Chapstick gets it so wrong, they actually make him look good. I hope they’re not actually, you know, paying anyone good money to update their Facebook for them.

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“Mensa Was Not At Panama City Beach”

The O’Reilly Factor’s Jesse Watters went on special assignment to spring break, or Panama City, to be exact, to ask college students to grade President Obama.

Watters’ World goes on spring break. (Sorry, Fox News video won’t embed…but click through and watch the video. The important part is at 3:46. Especially if you’re from the south. Just don’t forget to come back and read the rest of this post.)

Does this not perfectly illustrate the Northeastern elitist journalism bubble that we’ve all come to know and abhor? What is that even supposed to mean, “This is the SEC. You have University of Kentucky. You have University of Alabama.”

To his credit, O’Reilly sensed they were on shaky ground.

“No, no, no. You can’t disparage those schools,” he said, to which Watters replies, “I’m not. I’m just saying, Mensa was not at Panama City Beach.”

If Watters were a member of Mensa he would know that disparage means, “to speak of or treat slightingly; depreciate; belittle.” Which he clearly did do and tried to backpedal.

News flash for Jesse Watters! There aren’t enough Ivy League schools to accommodate all the smart kids. Also, not all the smart kids want to go to an Ivy League school and be forced to hang out with arrogant jerks like you.

Do you remember that old commercial for instant mashed potatoes? It went something like, “The good cook mashes and mashes her potatoes, the great cook uses a ricer, but the smart cook, blah, blah, blah…”

So, yeah, Jesse, there are plenty of smart cooks attending State Universities on full-ride academic scholarships. You can look down your nose at them all you want, but they’re going to graduate from college debt-free. How stupid are they going to look then? Maybe they weren’t at Panama City Beach because they were at home, studying, because that’s what smart people do.

What an bigoted, ignorant ass, you are, Jesse Watters. How dare you imply that the students at schools like Alabama and Kentucky – my daughter included – are a cohesive mass of blithering idiots? Puts me in mind of this.

Update 1:  Not everyone is as nice about this as I am, although this blogger did use a few descriptive terms that I seriously considered using for the first time ever.

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More On That Quitting Quitter

That would be Jay Inslee.

Check out this video from the WSRP.

Meanwhile, State Attorney General Rob McKenna is busy fulfilling the obligations of his elected office, despite the rather serious hindrance to his campaign. Which, it appears, the Democrats are busy milking to Inslee’s advantage.

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Rewarding Irresponsible Behavior

Update: I originally wrote this back in March when Rep. Hansen Clarke introduced his Student Loan Forgiveness Act, which would lead to the regrettably unfair situation of some people paying back their student loans in full, while others would qualify to have tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt forgiven.

Lately, with the prospect of the cost of student loans set to double, it’s relevant again to make the case that it’s possible to acquire a college education without taking on a crippling load of debt. We’re fortunate that our daughter was capable of qualifying for academic merit scholarships (no stinkin’ FAFSA for us, baby!), but if that hadn’t been the case, we would have explored other options, including attending an in-state university while living at home, attending two years of community college as part of her undergrad degree, dipping more heavily into our savings, or, heaven forbid, managing it the way they did in the old days and requiring her to work her way through school.

America’s collective student debt has reached $1 trillion. That can’t be a good thing. It’s time for parents to start acting like parents instead of The League of Fairy Godmothers, happily seeing to their childrens’ whims and start saying, “No.” As in, “No, we can’t afford to send you to Harvard,” and, “No, you can’t live on campus,” and, “No, you won’t die of shame if you attend community college,” and, “No, we won’t co-sign a loan for you.”

When parents and prospective students start to approach the college selection process as consumers, rather than spoiled children in a candy store, maybe colleges and universities will have some incentive to start controlling costs.


I think we can all agree that when you reward a particular behavior, you’re likely to see more of it. That’s the reason we tell our children, “good job,” when they finish their homework on time or give the dog a biscuit for responding correctly to a command. So it’s quite shocking, really, to see someone suggest that rich rewards should be offered to people for irresponsible behavior, yet that’s exactly what Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI) is proposing with his Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 (HR4170).

Melissa Horton, a practicing attorney who apparently saddled herself with a mountain of student loan-debt, rather self-servingly pimped the legislation for Rep. Clarke, penning an op-ed that appeared in the March 16th edition of the Washington Post. She explains how the legislation would work.

Clarke’s bill proposes forgiving as much as $45,520 of eligible student-loan debt after new borrowers have made 120 payments — equivalent to 10 percent of their discretionary income for 10 years — or would forgive any outstanding debt for those whose loans predate enactment if the borrower has already made 120 payments in the past 10 years. Even better, the forgiven amount will not count as income, so debtors need not fear paying higher income taxes for 2012.

Then, just in case you’re not quite as excited as she is about this, she goes on to explain how this is really just a bill to kick start the economy.

This legislation would be an impetus for economic growth by helping indebted college graduates get out of the renting cycle, build a small business, or stop putting off major life decisions such as starting a family.

As it happens, my youngest child is currently attending the University of Alabama, a state school. We’re not Alabama residents, so tuition runs a little over $20,000 a year, plus room and board, books and travel expenses between Alabama and our home in Washington State. My husband is a blue collar worker, and I work part-time from home so you might be wondering why I’m not thrilled at the prospect of possible relief from her crushing load of debt.

The short answer? She’s going to graduate from college 100% debt-free. I know we’ve all been conditioned to believe that a college education is impossibly expensive and can’t be financed without government subsidized loans, but I submit that it’s very doable if you encourage your child to have realistic expectations and to work hard so as to qualify for as many merit scholarships as possible.

Our daughter loves the University of Alabama, but, honestly, it wouldn’t have made her short list if money had not been an object. She would have loved to attend an Ivy League school or Santa Clara University or Stanford, and, like Ms. Horton, would likely have been accepted anywhere she applied. Unlike Ms. Horton, she made a mature and financially responsible decision to attend a school that was within our means. Well within our means as it turned out, as Alabama offered her a generous package of scholarships.

Given her academic credentials and minority status, Ms. Horton undoubtedly could have found many colleges who would have made her a similar offer. Instead, she chose to attend a college she clearly couldn’t afford, possibly for reasons of vanity, and now makes quite a point of blaming her parents for her current level of student debt.

Looking back, it’s easy to say that my parents failed. They should have asked more questions and sought counsel. More important, they should never have co-signed the loans or allowed their financial information in our aid applications because they had no intention, nor means, of paying for our pricey educations.

Then, for good measure, she goes on to curse  something or someone for failing to tell her parents that allowing their child to take on $100,000 in debt before graduating from college is a very, very bad idea.

Nine years, two degrees and one military commission later, I curse the lack of assistance my parents received in preparing me for school debt.

Ms. Horton’s parents are employed as a nurse and a law enforcement officer, two professions where you would hope common sense would be applied on a daily basis, but, for whatever reason, it was clearly not applied to to reach a rational decision regarding college debt and foolish, irresponsible commitments were made. Wouldn’t it be a slap in the face to my daughter and others like her, who did the responsible thing and set aside their desires to attend more prestigious schools, to be forced to subsidize the cost of attendance at those schools…for someone else? 

Moreover, and returning to my original point, wouldn’t the number of people making theses kinds of reckless financial decisions increase if the behavior were rewarded with rather large financial incentives? Who would even try to pay their loans back in full, when their college education could be discounted by a full year’s tuition at a private university? Liberals – and I’m assuming that Rep. Clarke is liberal – are constantly yammering on about fairness and social justice. Where’s the fairness here?

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Too Mentally Unstable To Practice Medicine

But not too unstable to teach college students, apparently.

It’s not that I don’t have sympathy for people who suffer from mental illness. Really, I do. But one of the reasons Clinkingbeard’s medical credentials were revoked is that she was resistant to treatment. I don’t think it takes a particularly vivid imagination to see how this story could have had a very different and far more tragic outcome. What if Clinkingbeard had taken the gun into her classroom? What if she’d used it? It wouldn’t have been the first time a college professor snapped with fatal consequences.

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Critical Race Theory, Racism And The Tea Party

“The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture.”

Critical Race Theory has been in the news since the release of video footage last week of Barack Obama introducing Professor Derrick Bell during his (Obama’s) days as a Harvard Law student. Professor Bell, a Harvard Law professor, was one of the leading proponents of the theory. Using language more suited to a big tent revival than the halls of education, the young Obama asks the audience to “open their hearts and minds” to the words of Professor Bell.

I’ll be honest with you:  I’d never heard of Critical Race Theory before Breitbart released the video in question, so my knowledge is limited to what I can read about it online. God knows, it’s not something we discussed in my high school Civics class…mainly because I was years out of high school before Professor Bell conceived of this – dare I say radical? – concept.

Reading up about it has been fascinating, with articles ranging from plain vanilla, palatable for the masses, to those discussing the more controversial components of the theory.

Even bland vanilla, possibly inadvertently, can shed some light on the underlying assumptions of CRT.

“Learning to look critically at race relations is a key part of critical race theory. Examining everyday interactions, and finding the racial component in them…” (emphasis added)

Applying common rules of English usage, we learn from the above passage that a racial component is assumed for every interaction between people with minority status and, presumably, white people (although if you continue reading, the example given mentions several combinations of white and minority people; I’m not sure if CRT would actually consider all of them or if they’re included merely to add to the yummy vanilla flavor of the article).

Moving on to the even more controversial aspects of the theory, we learn:

“CRT recognizes that racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society. The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture. This is the analytical lens that CRT uses in examining existing power structures. CRT identifies that these power structures are based on white privilege and white supremacy, which perpetuates the marginalization of people of color. CRT also rejects the traditions of liberalism and meritocracy. Legal discourse says that the law is neutral and colorblind, however, CRT challenges this legal “truth” by examining liberalism and meritocracy as a vehicle for self-interest, power, and privilege.  CRT also recognizes that liberalism and meritocracy are often stories heard from those with wealth, power, and privilege. These stories paint a false picture of meritocracy; everyone who works hard can attain wealth, power, and privilege while ignoring the systemic inequalities that institutional racism provides.” (emphasis added)

For those of us who have spent the last three years wondering how in the absence of any real evidence, the race industry has felt justified in calling the Tea Party racist, we now have an answer. Yes, I understand that many of those doing the name-calling were doing so solely for purposes of political expediency, but others were motivated by sincerely-held beliefs, shaped by Critical Race Theory, about the nature of our culture.

CRT tells us that whether or not there are any actual racists involved with the Tea Party is irrelevant, because the Tea Party is defending a dominant and inherently racist culture. Tea Partiers look at the Constitution and see an enduring document intended to preserve and protect the rights of all citizens, and CRT sees a document that serves only to protect white privilege. Tea Partiers look at the Supreme Court and believe Justices should be selected based on their willingness to operate within the bounds of the Constitution as written  and CRT believes they should be selected based on racial status, because miniorities have unique experiences that will lead to greater overall “justice.” Tea Partiers embrace Martin Luther King’s ideal that we should judge people not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” and CRT tells us that a meritocracy is not and can never be colorblind.

It sounds absurd to me to say that racism can exist in the absence of any actual racists, but that’s obviously because I’m an ignorant, white yokel, incapable of understanding the more nuanced approach of Critical Race Theory. As I once wrote, “God save me from a nuanced approach. Nuance is the mantle intellectuals like to don when espousing ideas that slap common sense in the face.” I believe common sense is reeling from the blow.

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Q: When Is Your Friend Not Your Friend?

A: When he abandons you when you’re in need.

So, yeah, Eric Cantor is no friend of mine.

Behavior like this from House members makes you wonder – who is, at the core, ready to advance the conservative principles in which I believe? Who even wants to?

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