Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Let's Get Back to the Issues that Matter!

Bill Neinast


The six bullet points on a resume’ with a job application are:
  “Man of Faith
  “Husband and Father
  “Committed Conservative
  “Pro-Life Leader, Endorsed by Texas Alliance for Life Pac
  “Defender of the 2nd Amendment--”A” Rating from the NRA
  “Proud Graduate of Texas A&M University”

If you assume that this application is for a church pastor’s position, you are wrong.  This is ¼ of the top of a one-page vote solicitation from Ryan Sitton.  He wants your help in getting him on the November ballot as a candidate for a commissioner’s seat on the Texas Railroad Commission.

He gets around to that in a short paragraph below the bullet points that reads, “But what qualifies him the most to serve as Railroad Commissioner is his experience as an oil and gas engineer who has worked in the energy industry his entire professional career.”

Of the four endorsements on the ad, only two deal exclusively with his qualifications to be a Railroad Commissioner.  The other two, both of which are at the top of the endorsements, emphasize his pro-life credentials.

Sitton may be the best qualified person to ever seek a seat on the Railroad Commission.  That determination cannot be made, however, from the ad that is the basis of this column.

Who is a man of faith?  In what religion does he have faith?  Is someone with faith in another religion less qualified than Sitton just because of their differences?  Is one without faith in any religion totally disqualified?

“Husband and Father” is code speak that he is not homosexual and is opposed to same sex marriage.  Does this mean that homosexuals need not apply?

A “committed conservative” means what today?  Is he a Tea Partier?  A far right Republican?  A middle of the roader who can work with individuals with different views? What is this committed conservative’s opinion on fracking?  What does he think about the Keystone Pipeline?  What is his position on liquifying natural gas for export?

How does a pro-life and pro-gun ownership stance relate to making rules for drilling oil and gas wells?  Does this mean he would deny a drilling permit if Planned Parenthood had an acre or two of land in the 650 acres designated as the pool for an oil/gas well?

An over riding concern about this particular type of campaigning is that it is endemic in today’s Republican Party.  No matter what office is being sought, the “base” must be wooed first.

The courting involves convincing voters that the candidate is more conservative than his or her opponent.  Today, that means the candidate is more opposed to abortion, same sex marriage, and “amnesty” for undocumented visitors than the opponent.  Important issues like balanced budgets, elimination of the deficit, freedom from government intrusion in private matters. and similar concerns about Big Brother have to take a seat way back in the campaign.

This type of fratricide over who is the most conservative wrecked the last two Republican presidential campaigns and, because of idiotic statements about abortion by three Republican senatorial candidates, probably kept Republicans from winning control of the Senate.

Capturing the base, as discussed above, controlled the campaigning in the Republican runoff election yesterday.  There was also the usual mix of character assassination of opponents.  Discussions of real issues were rare.

Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Dr. Monica Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon and pro-choice Republican, won the primary for an Oregon U.S. Senate seat. 

Wehby told a GOP forum that she was personally pro-life but did not want the government involved in a woman's decision on whether to have an abortion. She believes that abortion is a personal decision.

Her pro-choice stance did not keep her from out polling  four other Republican candidates.  Her opponents included a state representative and a former Republican county chair, one of whom was endorsed by the Oregon Right to Life organization.

Current polls indicate that she has an excellent chance of  winning the general election in November to take the seat of Democrat Senator Jeff Merkley 

This apostasy also had a nod of approval from another Republican currently in the headlines as a potential presidential candidate.  Dr. Ben Carson, also a neurosurgeon, said of Wehby. “She has a very good value system.  Now she is criticized by some because she's pro-choice. Personally, she's pro-life and does everything just like I do to try to preserve life, but she's pragmatic also and she knows that there’s no way you're going to win in Oregon with that stance." 

But win she did, even over allegations that she had “stalked” two former boy friends.

So here’s the perspective. 

Maybe, hopefully, Republican candidates will get back to campaigning on issues instead of who is the most conservative.  

Maybe Dr. Wehby will teach them that they can win without the open support of the “base.”  By following in the doctor’s footsteps, they may learn that a discussion of real issues attracts more independents and “moderate” Republicans.

Those independents and moderates will more than offset the ultra conservative Republicans upset because there is no “conservative” candidate.  The ultra conservatives may stay away from the polls, but they will not even think of voting for a Democrat.

Let’s get back to the issues that matter.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Time to reclaim Education in the US from the Bureaucrats and Central Planners

Bill Neinast

IN PERSPECTIVE by Bill Neinast

Education is a recurring topic in the national and local news.

Nationally, the subjects are the declining academic rankings in international comparisons and the CORE curricula.  Locally, the topics are homework and CSCOPE lesson plans.

A recent letter to the editor in The Banner-Press concerning too much homework gave credence to the concern about declining standards.  There were 23 grammatical and syntax errors in the eight paragraph letter.  Maybe there is not enough homework instead of too much.

The letter brought back memories of my days as a professor of state and federal government at Blinn College 30 years ago. I was appalled then at the lack of basic English grammar skills in my college students. 

Twenty years ago, I asked Dr. Wilfred Dietrich, Chairman of the English Department at Blinn, if the students’ grammar had improved since I left.  His answer, “Bill it’s gotten worse.”

Here is an example.  An end of semester research paper was required of each student.  The grade on the paper would be a substantial part of the student’s final grade.  

Written instructions for the paper were distributed on the first day of class. Although the subject was government, the students were told that one point would be deducted for each grammatical error and misspelled word. 

I suggested that they do their research and writing early in the semester, lay it aside for a week or so, and review it for clarity.  About a week before the paper was due, ask a friend to review it.  The friend might find errors that the author had skimmed over because of familiarity.

In every class, a substantial majority appeared to have been researched and written the night before they were due.

A copy of one of those papers is still on my desk.  The nine pages with very wide margins at the top, bottom, and both sides has 88 grammatical and spelling errors.  I gave the author 50 for content, and that was a gift, then deducted 88 for the errors.  Her research paper grade was a -38.

  That was then.  This is now when some college freshmen are required to take remedial courses in English, math, and other courses in order to progress at the college.

Why is there such a constant slide to lower standards and ranking?

One reason may be the federal and state mandates for standardized test.

I did not take a single final exam during my last two years of high school.  In 1944 the Somerville School District established programs that exempted students with final course grades of 90 or higher from final exams.  The administrators believed that anyone with semester grades in that range obviously knew the subject.

Last week, I discussed this no final exam policy with someone about 15 years younger than me.  She said that was also the policy in her school in the late 1950s.

Those schools graduated students who went on to earn college degrees without the need for remedial courses.  Among those students are Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller who developed the atomic bomb and Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.

In those days, teachers were allowed to use whatever method he or she thought was necessary to get the students to the level of understanding  desired by the teacher.  There was also no “social promotions.”  A student who did not rise to the level required by his teachers would be held back for another try.  Today, in some schools, teachers are not permitted to give even one failing grade.

This summary leads to one conclusion.  Federal and state politicians got into the act and violated a basic law of human activity.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The system seems to have been working fine until money began moving local control higher and higher.  Politicians and judges began to believe that it is not “fair” for some school districts to have more money than others.  So the state legislators said “We’ll fix that by moving money from one district to another. Now that we are controlling who gets what, we have to know that the money is being spent wisely.  The only way we can do that is to have every student in each grade take the same tests. That way we will know what teachers are doing well and teaching the students what we think they ought to know.”

So began the standardized, state-wide tests.  When the bureaucrats in Washington saw how this was placing more authority in their state underlings, they decided they wanted a piece of the pie.  Therein was born federal funds for local school and standardized national testing.

So here’s the perspective.

American education is in the pits and has been there for decades.  In the mid 1990s, I visited with a Polish high school exchange student in Somerville.  She said she was bored to death in the local schools.  They were studying algebra in high school that she had learned in grade school in Poland.

Shortly after that conversation I was having my computer repaired in Austin.  Upon overhearing one of his telephone conversations, I realized that he too was from Poland.  In our following conversation, he stated that he was returning to Poland with his family because the education system here was so inferior to that in his homeland.

The more we engage in standardized tests and curricula, the deeper we sink in ratings.  

Is it time to return to the system working beautifully before the bureaucrats decided to fix it?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

North Carolina man hit by plane while riding lawn mower

Gotta say, you don't see this everyday!

North Carolina man hit by plane while riding lawn mower

Posted: Apr 26, 2014 7:40 PM CDTUpdated: Apr 26, 2014 08:33 PM
A man riding a lawn mower was hit by a small plane. (Courtesy: NY Daily News)
A man riding a lawn mower was hit by a small plane. (Courtesy: NY Daily News)
TAYLORSVILLE, NC -A  man was hit by a small plane while he was on a riding lawn mower.

The incident happened Saturday at North Carolina’s Taylorsville Airport.

The NY Daily News reports the pilot, 84-year-old Edward Sisson, was flying in from Crossville, Tennessee and was trying to touch down on a grassy landing strip. Sisson ended up hitting John Ruffy, 74, as he rode a lawn mower going in the same direction.

Ruffy’s hand was severed by the plane’s propeller. He was airlifted to a nearby hospitalized where he remains in critical condition. Sisson was not injured.

Officials said the airport is privately owned and does not have a traffic control operator.

The National Transportation and Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the incident. No charges have been filed in the case.

*NY Daily News contributed to this report.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Good to see a Coach keep his head and priorities in Order!

Dabo Swinney: All faiths are welcome 
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has issued his first public statement in response to a complaint filed by The Freedom From Religion Foundation earlier this month charging him with "unconstitutional behavior" at the public university. 

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday he was "a little caught off guard" by a complaint filed by The Freedom From Religion Foundation earlier this month charging him with "unconstitutional behavior" at the public university.
The FFRF contends that Swinney violated the Constitution and university guidelines on hiring chaplains when he invited James Trapp to become the team chaplain. The organization also took issue with the coach's decision to schedule team devotionals and organize transportation to take coaches and players to "Church Days," and said Swinney gave Trapp access to the entire team for Bible studies.
"We do things the right way and always have," Swinney said on an ACC teleconference Wednesday. "We'll continue to run the program the way we always have.
Read Now 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bumps in the Road!

The poem was written by a MARINE CORPS Officer 


We're the battling 
boys of Benghazi  
No fame, no glory, no 
Just a fiery death in 
a blazing hell
Defending our country 
we loved so well.
It wasn't our job, but 
we answered the  
fought to the 
Consulate and scaled the wall. 
We pulled

Countrymen from the jaws of fate 
Led them to safety, 
and stood at the gate. 
Just the two of us,
and foes by the score, 
But we stood fast to 
bar the door.
Three calls for 
reinforcement, but all were denied, 
So we fought, and we 
fought, and we fought 'til we died.
We gave our all for 
our Uncle

But Barack Obama 
didn't give a damn.
Just two dead seals 
who carried the load 
No thanks to 
were just "Bumps In The 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Just How Big is Texas?

People often marvel at the size of Texas.  Here is a perspective for you that may help others visualize the vastness of this GREAT STATE!

Beaumont is closer to Tampa than El Paso.
Brownsville is closer to Mexico City than DFW.
Texarkana is closer to Atlanta than El Paso.
Corpus is closer to Cuba than Denver.
Austin is closer to New Orleans than El Paso
Downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas is longer than the Gaza Strip is long, longer than the English channel.
Dallas to Houston is nearly the same distance as Paris to London.

Enjoy and pass around to folks who love ask, "Just how big is Texas?"


Monday, March 24, 2014

Moe, Larry & Curly!

Bill Neinast


Moe, Larry, and Curly are familiar names to senior citizens.  They were the Three Stooges of slapstick comedy fame on the vaudeville stage and in film during the first part of the last century.

Today, when Barack, Joe, and John are mentioned, the Three Stooges come to mind.  This modern day, real life version, however, is much too real to be laughed off

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and John Kerry are the foreign affairs team of the U.S.  Although they are the laughing stock of the world, particularly of Russia and Iran, the consequences of their actions and utterances are too serious to be regarded as vaudeville.

The best description of this country’s current foreign relations is that it is abysmal.  No one in the triumvirate exhibits any awareness of geography, history, or geopolitics.  

 Unfortunately, this view of the world as you wish it were rather than the real world is prevalent among the lackeys and stooges in the ranks of media commentators.  They are the ones who harrumphed or shook their heads in disbelief when Mitt Romney stated during a debate with Obama that Russia is “our number one geopolitical foe.”

Romney recently restated that belief.  On March 17, he wrote in The Wall Street Journal:

“Able leaders anticipate events, prepare for them, and act in time to shape them. My career in business and politics has exposed me to scores of people in leadership positions, only a few of whom actually have these qualities. Some simply cannot envision the future and are thus unpleasantly surprised when it arrives. Some simply hope for the best. Others succumb to analysis paralysis, weighing trends and forecasts and choices beyond the time of opportunity.

“President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed.”

The current debacle of Russia expanding its borders, Iran moving full speed ahead on developing nuclear weapons, Syria maintaining its stockpile of chemical weapons (which are Saddam Hussein’s cache that some claim he never had), Iraq and Afghanistan refusing to allow American service personnel to remain in country under U.S. jurisdiction, is the sole responsibility of Barack, Joe, John, and, as noted by Romney, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton..

That may be an unfair criticism of Joe, John, and Hillary.  The basic cause is Barack.  He naively believes that the sheer force of his intellect and suave personality will cow any world leader into adoring agreement or submission.  His words, in his opinion, are more powerful than any weapons made by man.  In reality, however, as Romney noted, “We give.  Russia Gets.”

The way the rest of the world now views us, the former leaders of the free world, proves Barracks’s belief in his invincibility is as erroneous as his repeated promise that, “You can keep the insurance and doctors you have if you like them.”

If he had the understanding of world affairs of Mitt Romney and knew American history, he could have taken a page from President John F. Kennedy’s history and gotten serious attention from Russian President Vladimir Putin over Ukraine.

 JFK told tSoviet Union Premier Nikita Khrushchev to keep his missiles out of Cuba.  To make sure the Soviets knew that we meant business, JFK quarantined Cuba with the U.S. Navy and began moving combat troops into Florida.  Very quickly, the Soviet ships carrying missiles to Cuba reversed course and the missile sites being built were abandoned.

Obama could have replicated that strategy in Ukraine. A replay of meaning what you say, would have been to quickly arrange for joint military maneuvers with the Ukrainian military.  Several U.S. Army and Marine battalions could have been airlifted to the Ukrainian military bases in Crimea.  The troops would have raised American flags to fly beside the Ukrainian flags in their new encampments.

As those flags were unfurled, the applause and nods of approval from the heads of various NATO nations might have gotten Putin’s attention as quickly as the JFK’s troop movements gave Khrushchev second thoughts.

Instead of acting JFK tough, however, Obama talked softly to the bully.  He said, “We are going to impose economic and travel sanctions like we are so effectively doing in Iran.”  The Russians’ reaction, when they got through laughing, was to impose similar sanctions on Americans like Speaker of the House John Boehner and other congressional personnel.

So here’s the perspective.

Comparing President Obama to one of The Three Stooges was not the best comparison to make.  A much better comparison might be to call him “Neville” after a former Prime Minister of Great Britain.

An appreciation of this comparison requires a review of the history of the Sudetenland, a German speaking province of France in the 1930s.  That history reads like a screen play for the Ukraine of 2014.   

When reading the chapter on British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain meeting Hitler in Munich in1938 and agreeing not to oppose Hitler’s absorption of the Sudetenland into Germany, visions of Ukraine dance over the pages.

On 30 September 1938, Chamberlain returned to London with the Munich Agreement in hand and announced that he was, “bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.”  Instead of peace, however, the world exploded into WWII.

Sound familiar?  So is it Barack, Mo, or Neville?