Is it just me or have the Palins become our favorite reality show?

I am not sure why Bristol thinks I should know about how she lost her virginity, why she is even being interviewed or why the whole family demands spotlight and TV time. I am not sure why mom Sarah is so proud of her daughter being on a dance show, just exactly the kind of activity that will endear her little one to grow up with fond memories of the domesticity of the family. The last thing I want to see as an adult is a photo of my mom in a skimpy outfit out dancing while I am in childcare. Grow up, mom.

I am by and large a Sarah Palin fan. I am a limited government man and eschew that view of the state which reduces individual liberty and responsibility. But Palin loves a carnival and has found a way to get and keep attention that is unbecoming of a serious political figure who should be spending the resources of life on the public good.

And there is something in me that is repelled by turning conservatism and what is at stake in the political debate for the welfare of tens of millions of Americans into an over the top means to enrich oneself. I expect a more sober life from those who want to affect my future and maybe even have me vote for them.

There is something in all of this Sarah Palin does not get. And that she does not get it, bothers me. I wish she did get it. I wish she sobered up, was less interested in her financial future, and entered into serious political discourse apart from the speaker’s lectern. She has wasted her political start-up capital and soon will be a mere political hang-around.

To borrow a phrase, she coulda been a contenda.

Student scores to be key factor in teacher evaluations. Duhhhhh!!!!!

The Boston Globe reports

In a dramatic departure from past practice, students’ MCAS scores and other achievement data will become key barometers in evaluating the performance of their teachers and administrators, under new criteria the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved yesterday.

How was this ever an issue anyway? There is really no other way to evaluate a teacher in the here and now. Yes, even though the student may not be able to read and write and add, when he is 25 years old at least he is not in prison. And he owes it all to his teacher. Well, that may be true. So let’s put off teacher evaluations for at least 20 years and keep an open file on all former students to track down their progress.

Can you imagine any other human enterprise saying that there can be no real means of evaluating job performance in the present? How does that work at Burger King? I am sure the adult who now works there because he had one of these teachers gets the same treatment that he got in school – “don’t worry, Larry, you can’t put that hamburger together right but in 20 years we know that you’ll be making a contribution to society.”

Believe me, I have seen not just products of the public sector try to make it in the private sector, but actual employees of the public sector get fired from $10 an hour jobs because they can’t get it right. “Get it right” at Burger King doesn’t exactly call for strong verbal and math scores.

In the “right now” there is no other way to evaluate a teacher than by her or his students success at academics. That the education establishment can’t get this says something about who is teaching and the nature of the “profession.”

Oh, by the way, I am required to say, as all the articles do, there are many excellent teachers out there doing a first rate job.

If you have the stomach to pay the price, it can be done

Gov Scott Walker got it done. He balanced the Wisconsin state budget without raising taxes.

What a price he paid!! A simple “no” to spending more than we take in can be done. It can. The problem is that adults are not minding the store. There are things adults have to do – and one of them is live within their means and fight like mad until it is done. Truly, there is a ruthlessness to it. That is why it takes an adult to do it. Children can’t say “no” very easy.

In today’s political atmosphere we don’t need great leaders. We just need some adults in the room. Hats off to Gov Walker for not playing dead or crying about how hard it is to be Governor. He is one of a new breed of governors who have the stomach (a word I hesitate to use relative to Chris Christie but you know what I mean) to simply go about the business of managing government.

I think the problem with President Obama is not his ideology (which is troubling) as much as his psychology. He does not have a fully formed adult psyche. He still thinks as a ready-made knee jerk reaction “there’s more where that came from”. That is not what “grown up” adults think.

Interestingly enough for me, the GOP presidential candidate ranks has women who can say no and mean it. This makes President Obama look even less an adult. Women have historically been a cultural treasure house of necessary elements of cultural transmission, such as understanding, hard relational work, nurturing and a readiness to put others first. Even with that cultural history, the increasing number of women who are catching man #1 with his hand continually in the cookie jar is almost a stereotypical marriage joke. It’s even embarrassing.

Maybe 2012 will prove to be “the year of the grown up”.

I don’t want someone for President who needs to be President as bad as Mitt Romney does

I think most people have concluded that Mitt Romney will say anything and do anything as long as people will like him enough to make him President.

Someone who needs to be President that bad has already shown he cannot lead.

Romney is perennially in the race and always making up his “we already thought he had his mind made up” mind. I think a politician is allowed to change his mind. But he  is not allowed to change his mind three times, as Romney has done on abortion. The third time around and no one can avoid the nearest available conclusion – Romney is using babies to chase votes.

I think Romney is essentially a nice conservative. Conservative as in the Judeo-Christian Tradition. And nice, as in “please and thank you.” He does not have the fire for an extended battle and standing by the stuff. He will back off a position simply because it makes someone mad at him. It makes me want to mess up his hair!!!

I personally find it hard to get past what he did for a living-restructuring troubled companies. I know the kind. Have been around them. They really don’t earn a living, produce a good, and take it to market. With capital they buy a troubled business, move in and fire people in heaps to reduce expenses, reconfigure the organization, and then put it back on the market at a price that means whoever buys it will pay such a premium that most such deals end up in failure once again. This means that essentially what he did for a living is lose people’s jobs for them.

It’s fair and it’s capitalist. But it’s repo work, and I don’t want a repo man as President.

Romney will not be the nominee of the Republican Party. He is a nuisance they have to dispense with before they get on to the real candidate.  But in the mean time I feel sort of sorry for a man who needs a job this bad.

13 signs your sermon isn’t going well

from Mike Wittmer

13.  Your associate pastor is warming up in the bullpen.

12.  The praise band begins playing you off the stage.

11.  When asked to read from the King James Version, you involuntarily blush every time you say the word “ass.”

10.  The congregation is filling in the blanks of your outline before you get there.

9.  You think the lyrics to a bluegrass song are really connecting with your audience.

8.  When you pause for dramatic effect, several people giggle.

7.  Your cell phone starts ringing, and you answer it.

6.  The person signing for the deaf just pulled on mittens.

5.  When the children are dismissed to junior church, most of their parents go, too.

4.  Your sermon took shape over a glass of wine and volume three of Left Behind.

3.  Your interpreter just rolled his eyes and put your last statement in air quotes.

2. Desperate mothers are pinching their babies.

1.  The ushers are handing out refunds.

Trying to forget the Jimmy Carter years and President Obama is not helping

It was during Jimmy Carter’s presidency that I was doing the things growing up people do – have a family, buy a home, find a first full time career job. All of which, President Carter made unbelievably difficult.

Unfortunately I had voted for him. I had had enough of the Republicans, Nixon and company. Vietnam, Watergate, cultural confusion, racial tension, petulant Republican leaders who acted more like offended children than grown-ups who could lead and do the hard work of compromise. Carter was not Republican and that was a good thing.

Was I ever wrong!!!! His indecisiveness was maddening. His lack of leadership during challenges was discouraging. His malaise speeches and sweaters in the White House to save money on heating oil made me scream at the TV. His pathetic view of religion made following Jesus just for women (and for that I apologize to the women). He was preachy and cranky.

And the inflation was crippling. No one could afford a house with 17% to 21% interest rates. This is not to mention the gas crisis, the gas lines and only being able to buy gas on odd or even days.

This generation’s bloc of young voters have never seen how badly one President can cripple a whole country economically. You wouldn’t think things could go off the ramp that readily within a two to four years period of time. It can. And it is. The US economy is not too big to fail. A President can cater to our worst instincts, offer something for nothing (or offer something at somebody else’s expense), place the rich man/poor man card, shake the citizenry’s faith in justice, stack the deck in favor of voting blocks, make us remember our failures and forget our dreams, and hang with people most Americans consider crooks.

Welcome to this generation’s Jimmy Carter. I had hoped that in one lifetime I would only see one of him. Not so.

We are in for an economic bruising the likes of which none can imagine. I am betting that there are some who sound the trumpet, stand by the stuff and keep pointing the way out of the valley of the shadow. It is not easy to stand up to the hating, the jeering, the comedic jabbing, the sneering, the condescending elitism.

President Obama has lived a life based on the largess of others. It makes one soft and unaware that the day to day lives of Americans has no such relief valve. It’s work and pay – just work and pay. My hope is that someone will rise up and save the forgotten man and bring justice.

The technology of communications is the new kid on the block. News does not have to be filtered through New York City elites nor be ABC, NBC or CBS. Joe the plumber can write a blog, twitter, and post a video. Democracy is the way through. The battle is no longer fought behind the scenes in sequestered rooms in the White House and the halls of Congress. It is out in the streets. There are strong voices rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition speaking and offering a way out of the wilderness. This is most hopeful, for now and for our future.

And while we are a republic and not a democracy, we are becoming a republic where the democratic spirit is alive and growing even stronger. I don’t think the trend is going to be reversed. The speaking of the people is going to be louder. A revived, renewing, spiritually strong citizenry is a tidal wave force that White House and Congress cannot resist.