Category Archives: Culture

Disney Caves to Chinese Pressure

One lady’s opinion.

Although you can’t judge a film by its trailer, the muted, unhumorous tone of this teaser hints at the film’s objective. Mulan is no longer the self-conscious teenager who disappoints her parents by failing to become the ideal wife, before her fierce and beautiful transformation into the woman she wants to be. Instead, she appears solemn and resolute: Mulan is a now robotic warrior. The removal of the songs is a big mistake: it eliminates the joy and emotional heart that Disney do so well. I can’t help wonder why Disney are remaking Mulan at all if they are simply going to pander to the nationalistic values espoused by the mainland Chinese government – especially as it looks exactly like the kind of “Imperial dramas” that the state media are currently taking aim at.

No doubt Disney have in mind the commercial failure in China of 1998’s Mulan; it was caught up in the controversy over the Disney-funded film Kundun about the Dalai Lama, which led to the Chinese government effectively banning Disney films. The timing of this trailer release is awful, with recent events in Hong Kong culminating in police brutality against anti-extradition bill protesters, and the ongoing oppression of ethnic Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. It feels like Disney is waving a big red flag in everyone’s faces in its desperation to secure success at the Chinese box office. For those who believe in democracy and freedom, this leaves a sour taste.

Half-Non-POC Rapper Triggered

Five years ago, such a headline would have been nonsensical.

The Eventbrite page for “AfroFuture Fest,” hosted by Afrofuture Youth, advertised an “Early Bird POC Ticket” for $10 — with POC meaning “people of color” — and an “Early Bird NONPOC Ticket” for $20. The group defined “NONPOC” as white people.
News of the group’s charging practices hit social media last week when rapper Tiny Jag said she was unknowingly added to the August event but agreed to support and perform. Tiny Jag told CNN she was not going to be paid for the performance. Once the rapper caught wind of the prices, she said she was “triggered.”
“A non-POC friend of mine brought to my attention that AfroFuture is requiring non-people-of-color to pay twice the amount to attend the festival as POC,” she tweeted on July 2. “This does not reflect the views of myself or the Tiny Jag team. I will not be playing this show. I apologize for anyone who may have been triggered or offended.”
The rapper said she is biracial and her grandmother is white. Tiny Jag told CNN Monday she felt emotionally triggered because the charging practice makes a group of people feel like they are not wanted at the event and like they’re paying a debt for another community.

Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Left Whips Up Hate

This kind of rhetoric reminds you of the hate that the anti-war Left spewed at our soldiers fighting in Vietnam. Our nation is still healing from that.

A human rights professor has called on the public to name and shame US Border Patrol guards to force them to quit their jobs.

Kate Cronin-Furman, an assistant professor of human rights at University College London, wrote in the New York Times that the guards needed to be pressured by their communities for the mistreatment of migrants.

She believes a ‘mass atrocity’ is taking place and says that people should expose guards who are ‘midlevel functionaries who make the system run’.

Cronin-Furman added that her plan would ensure that guards would be ‘internationally shamed’ as rights abusers, making them unable to say they were ‘just following orders.’

Taylor Swift Protests Sale of Catalog

This is a good lesson in contracts, ownership, and private property rights.

Taylor Swift has described herself as “sad and grossed out” by Scooter Braun’s acquisition of Big Machine Records, which holds the rights to her entire catalog up through 2017’s “Reputation,” calling the deal “my worst case scenario.” Swift said she was shocked to first learn of the transfer of her work through news accounts Sunday morning. Braun declined Variety‘s requests for comment.

Swift posted her impassioned reaction in a Tumblr post, which reads:

“For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work. Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums.

[…]

“This is my worst case scenario. This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept. And when that man says ‘Music has value’, he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it.

“When I left my masters in Scott’s hands, I made peace with the fact that eventually he would sell them. Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter. Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to. He knew what he was doing; they both did. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever.

While Swift has the right to object to the sale, the fact is that she doesn’t own it. It’s not hers. She sold her music. And it’s not like she didn’t get any value for the sale. She received money, access to the industry, and help in her rise to fame and fortune. Could she have reached her current level of stardom without Big Machine Records? Maybe. But we know for sure the result of her relationship with BMR. And since BMR owns the music, they have every right to sell it or monetize it in any way they see fit.

Think of it this way… when an artist paints a painting or creates a sculpture and sells it, does the artist retain the right to control the art after it is sold? Of course not. Does the fact that it is art that the artist created on their bedroom floor when they were 15 change anything? Nope.

Swift may be upset, but it’s not like she didn’t get anything out of the deal.

Taco Bell Hotel

With industrial commodes.

Taco Bell’s latest marketing venture, a pop-up hotel, opened at 10 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday. The rooms sold out within two minutes.

The resort has been called “The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort.” It’s located in Palm Springs, California.
The company is taking over the V Palm Springs hotel for an extended weekend in August. The plans for an exclusive, Taco Bell-themed resort were released in May.

Google’s Leftist Agenda Revealed

Again

A senior Google executive has been caught on an undercover video appearing to suggest the company is trying to stop ‘the next Trump situation’ in the 2020 presidential election.

Secret footage released by Project Veritas shows Google’s Head of Responsible Innovation, Jen Gennai, saying: ‘We all got screwed over in 2016, again it wasn’t just us, it was, the people got screwed over, the news media got screwed over, like, everybody got screwed over so we’ve rapidly been like, what happened there and how do we prevent it from happening again.’

A company insider provided Project Veritas with documents outlining Google’s explanation of ‘Machine Learning Fairness’ and ‘algorithmic unfairness,’ which appear to expose a liberal bent at the online giant.

A document leaked by the alleged insider contained language about addressing ‘unjust or prejudicial treatment,’ saying that even when search results are factually accurate, ‘it may be desirable to consider how we might help society reach a more fair and equitable state, via either product intervention or broader corporate social responsibility efforts.’

So much for this blog showing up in Google searches.

Governor Evers endorses new era of moral depravity

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here you go:

On Friday afternoon, as people all over Wisconsin were getting ready to enjoy the first official weekend of summer, Gov. Tony Evers vetoed four bills relating to abortion. While it is easy to discuss the vetoes in the context of the political gamesmanship between the Republicans and the Democrats, to do so is facile and fails to fully appreciate the depravity behind the action.

The political angle is simple. In response to radical pro-abortion laws being passed by Democrats in states like New York, Republicans across the country are trying to pass laws to protect the unborn. Both parties are acting to solidify state laws should the United States Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade and cast the responsibility for regulating abortions back to the states.

But behind these bills are the lives of real people. Let us take the four bills that Evers signed one by one.

The first bill would have prevented taxpayers from funding abortion providers through Medicaid. The two political parties have been fighting over this for years. The Republicans argue, rightly, that people who are morally opposed to killing babies in the womb should not be forced to fund organizations that do so. Democrats know that Planned Parenthood is a major financial and rhetorical supporter of the Democratic Party, so they must keep the taxpayer gravy train flowing. Evers vetoed the bill.

The second bill would have required that abortionists provide information that a woman may be able to change her mind and continue her pregnancy even after the first dose of mifepristone, a drug used as part of a drug cocktail to cause an abortion. The information would have been provided as part of the documentation that is already provided by abortionists. Evers vetoed the bill.

These two bills are somewhat procedural and wonkish, but the last two are morally crystal clear.

The third bill would have prohibited a woman from killing her baby based on its race, sex, or disabilities. Evers vetoed the bill. In doing so, Evers affirmed that women should have the ability to abort her baby if she does not like the color of its skin, the baby’s sex, or if the baby is disabled in some fashion. If a mom really wanted a boy but the ultrasound shows a girl, Evers supports her choice to kill the girl and try again. If a baby is shown to have a malformed foot, Evers supports the mom’s choice to kill the baby. If a mom does not want a black baby, Evers supports her choice. In short, Evers supports a woman’s choice to kill her baby even for the most capricious and vain reasons.

The fourth bill passed by the Legislature and vetoed by Governor Evers would have ensured that a baby who survives an abortion receives the same medical care and treatment that any newborn baby would. Sadly, abortionists are very effective, so the odds of a baby surviving an abortion is very rare. But when it does happen, the baby is, by any definition used since the dawn of humankind, born. The baby is outside the womb as a separate human. As such, the baby is entitled to all of the same protection and care as any other person. The fact that the baby survived an attempted abortion is immaterial in terms of the baby’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Not according to Governor Evers. According to our governor, a baby who is born and survived an abortion can still be quietly murdered because the abortionist and mother intended to kill it earlier. In Evers’ moral universe, the mother’s desire to kill her baby, even after it has left her body, trumps the baby’s right to exist.

We have come a long way from the old Bill Clinton mantra that abortions should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Now the rabid pro-abortionists like Governors Evers support abortions for any reason — even for anti-disabled, racist, or sexist reasons — up until the time of birth, and even for a while after birth. The moral decrepitude inherent in such a political position is astounding.

O.J. Simspn got a “little gettin’ even to do.”

Goodness. Someone get him a PR man.

O.J. Simpson launched a Twitter account with a video post in which the former football star said he’s got a “little gettin’ even to do.”

Simpson confirmed the new account to The Associated Press on Saturday, saying in a phone interview while on a Las Vegas golf course that it “will be a lot of fun.”

Bakery Wins Libel Suit

It’s nice to see a win over the hate mob. Hopefully this will be a lesson to others, but I doubt it.

(CNN)An Ohio jury has ordered Oberlin College to pay $11 million to a bakery which said it was libeled and wrongfully accused of racially profiling students.

The case stems from the November 2016 arrests of three black Oberlin students at Gibson’s Bakery and market near the college’s campus in Oberlin, Ohio.
One student, Jonathan Aladin, was accused of attempted robbery for allegedly trying to “steal wine or otherwise illegally obtain wine” from the bakery, according to a defamation lawsuit. He would eventually confess in a written statement to buying alcohol illegally.
Two other suspects, Cecelia Whettston and Endia J. Lawrence, were arrested and accused of misdemeanor assault, court documents state.
After that, Oberlin staff members tried to discredit the family-owned bakery, the lawsuit says.
Oberlin College staff — including deans and professors — and students engaged in demonstrations in front of Gibson’s Bakery following the arrests of the three students, the lawsuit stated.
The suit also said Oberlin Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo and other college staff members “handed out hundreds of copies” of a flier to the community and the media stating that Gibson’s Bakery and its owners racially profiled and discriminated against the three students.
The court documents include a copy of the flier, which included the words “DON’T BUY.”
“This is a RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION,” the flier read, according to the lawsuit.
The flier also listed 10 of the bakery’s competitors and urged customers to shop there instead.

Pro-Child Bills Pass Legislature

My State Senator was on the right side of history.

Madison, WI – Today, the Wisconsin Senate passed a package of bills aimed at protecting human life and ensuring that taxpayer dollars do not subsidize abortion clinics. Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) authored Assembly Bill 183, which directs the state Department of Health Services to exclude abortion clinics from the state’s Medicaid program, better known as BadgerCare.

State and federal law prohibit taxpayer funds from directly paying for abortions, but under Medicaid, abortion clinics may be reimbursed for non-abortion services provided to consumers.

After the vote, Stroebel made the following statement:

“This bill ensures that taxpayer funds do not subsidize the operations of any abortion clinic, it does not reduce funding for women’s care by a single penny. The killing of unborn children is wrong, and no taxpayer dollars should go to clinics that engage in this practice. Unfortunately, Wisconsin taxpayers gave the state’s largest abortion provider $94 million between 2011 and 2018. This bill ends that subsidy while preserving the funds for use by other women’s care providers.

“Pro-life legislative majorities have previously redirected state and federal family planning dollars away from abortion clinics, and this bill continues that theme. Additionally, a number of other states, including Iowa, Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Missouri have enacted legislation to this effect.

“It is important to note that there are more federally qualified health centers in Wisconsin than there are abortion clinics, and the $94 million previously sent to abortion clinics will now be able to flow to these other providers to provide true women’s healthcare.”

Stroebel also voted in favor of legislation requiring physicians to provide care to children who survive an abortion attempt, prohibit abortions based on the sex or genetic condition of a child, and enhance informed consent and reporting requirements related to abortion procedures.

Yes, Evers will veto these bills in his quest to kill more babies, but at least he will have to act on it.

Is it summer yet?

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Nothing serious this week… just a whimsical celebration of the birth of summer.

I do not want to jinx it, but I think it might be finally here. All of the signs are there. Kids are graduating. Grass is being cut. Crossing guards are enjoying sleeping in. Air conditioners are kicking on. Fragile winter skin is burning. After a long, cold winter and a nonexistent spring, the first warm days of summer appear to be upon us.

Summer is a glorious time in Wisconsin. I spent my youth in the desert sands of a foreign country and then the broiling summers of Texas. These are places where the seasons are defined by hot and slightly-less- hot. When I moved to Wisconsin nearly 20 years ago, the joy of summer was lost on me. Then I spent the winter here. I get it now.

I have a confession to make. Despite living almost within sight the old Washington County Courthouse — one of the most beautiful county courthouses in the state — I have never toured the inside of it. It is a shameful admission given my penchant for wandering into any old museum, historic building, battlefield, or historical marker when I travel. Like many, I am guilty of failing to appreciate what is in my backyard. I blame my negligence on the fact that there is so much to enjoy in Wisconsin during the warm summer months.

As I write this column, I am sitting on the SS Badger awaiting a trip across Lake Michigan. Like many of Wisconsin’s gems, a trip on the Badger is something that generations of Wisconsinites have enjoyed. The history of the vessel is like that of Wisconsin. Once an industrial ferry, now it carries everything from foreign tourists to Harleys to young families looking for a nice getaway.

Of course, one cannot pass through Manitowoc without spending little time on the USS Cobia and the Maritime Museum to explore Wisconsin’s rich seafaring legacy. Sitting betwixt two gigantic Great Lakes, Wisconsin has been building and sailing for generations.

One of the great things about Wisconsin’s summers are the public festivals available every weekend. While the big ones in Milwaukee like Summerfest get most of the attention (rightfully so), almost every Wisconsin community of any size has a festivals throughout the summer. It is a fantastic way for communities to celebrate their cultural heritage or just get together and have some fun.

Wisconsin has a lot of big events during the summer that draw people from all over the world. EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh is one of the largest and most unique. Little Oshkosh becomes the aviation center of the world for a week in July. Drawing well over a half-million attendees, AirVenture is a place for novices and aviation enthusiasts to see and learn about every form of aviation known to humankind.

Most of my favorite things to do in Wisconsin during the summer involve getting outside and enjoying our state’s natural beauty. Wisconsin is full of marvelous trails, parks, lakes, and other ways to enjoy nature. Many of the rails to trails, like the Eisenbahn or the Ozaukee Interurban trails, offer a smooth path for running, biking, or just walking. Trails like the many segments of the Ice Age Trail offer something bit more rugged. State and County parks are always a great way to find a campground, beach, path, swimming hole, wildlife, and fantastic views.

Summers in Wisconsin are short. That is part of what makes them so delightful. A Wisconsin summer always leaves you wanting more. Let us all get out from behind our screens, push back from our desks, jump off the couches, and get out to enjoy all that our wonderful state has to offer.

2SLGBTQQIA

I hadn’t seen this one before

2SLGBTQQIA [two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual]

Meryl Streep Decries Toxic Masculinity

Well, the phrase. Welcome to Friday. I’m just going to sit over here and agree with Meryl Streep.

“Sometimes I think we’re hurt. We hurt our boys by calling something toxic masculinity. I do,” Streep said. “And I don’t find [that] putting those two words together … because women can be pretty f***ing toxic.”

“It’s toxic people,” the Suffragette star said. “We have our good angles and we have our bad ones.”

Streep added that she thinks labels can be “less helpful” than direct communication when calling out detrimental behaviour.

“We’re all on the boat together. We’ve got to make it work,” she said.

Lawsuit Filed Against NY Education Department Over Racist “Equity” Plan

It ain’t just New York. Social Justice superseded education a long time ago in far too many government school systems.

Three white female executives in the New York Education Department were demoted in favor of less-qualified people of color, a $90 million suit launched by the women claims.

The longtime officials say they were unfairly targeted as part of the department’s crusade against ‘toxic whiteness’ through its controversial racial equity plan.

Lois Herrera started at the DOE in 1986 as a guidance counselor and worked her way up to lead its Office of Safety and Youth Development.

In the suit filed Tuesday, she claims she saw the culture shift when Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Richard Carranza as the chancellor of NYC‘s public schools in April 2018.

Lois Herrera is one of three women suing the New York Education Department for $90m over claims they were demoted in favor of less-qualified people of color

By June the Harvard graduate – who was recognized in 2017 for contributing to the ‘safest year on record’ in city schools – was abruptly removed from her position and demoted three levels.

[…]

Herrera was never given any reasoning for her demotion but claims she was told, ‘If you’ve been with the DOE for more than 20 years, you are responsible for the problem,’ by LaShawn Robinson, the then executive director of the DOE’s Office of Equity and Access.

[…]

Department insiders say that under Chancellor Richard Carranza, who was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, administrators are subjected to endless lectures and workshops critiquing ‘whiteness’ and attempting to root out ‘white supremacy’ in the workplace.

SCOTUS Leaves Transgender Bathroom Policy In Place

I agree with this decision.

Washington (CNN)The Supreme Court on Tuesday left in place a lower court ruling in favor of a Pennsylvania school district policy that allows some transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

This case is a challenge to a Pennsylvania’s school district’s policy that allows some transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. The plaintiffs are students who say the policy violates their privacy rights and constitutes sexual harassment in violation of Title IX, a federal law that bars discrimination based on sex in educational institutions that receive federal funds.
Tuesday’s ruling was issued without comment.
In court papers, lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that “forcing a teenager to share a locker room or restroom with a member of the opposite sex can cause embarrassment and distress.”
We don’t need, or want, the courts to decide every societal disagreement. This is a cultural issue that people can work out for themselves. If the folks in that Pennsylvania school district want to let people pick their own bathroom, fine. If the folks in Colorado have a different opinion, that’s fine too. The court should just leave some things alone for people to decide.

The high price of liberty

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here you go:

In a bit of serendipitous timing, I found myself in the nation’s capital last week. With Memorial Day looming, I took the time to spend several hours in Arlington National Cemetery, reflecting on the terrible price that liberty collects from each generation of Americans.

There are over 400,000 men and women buried in Arlington. To walk among the dead is to walk through our nation’s history of bloody sacrifice for the cause of liberty. After paying my respects to two family members near the McClellan Gate, I walked through every section. The dignity and respect of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier set an example that we should all follow when honoring our heroes.

While some parts of the cemetery were loud with swarms of schoolchildren on their year-end field trips, some areas were peaceful, as one would imagine eternity to be. The silent Argonne Cross standing watch over our fallen heroes of World War I; the crypt at the top of the hill where 2,111 unknown Union soldiers gathered after the Civil War in northern Virginia; the silence of the stones for those killed battling communism in Vietnam was only disturbed by the whir of the electric wheelchair of one of their brothers still watching over his comrades.

Two thoughts imprinted themselves on my mind as I left the cemetery that day. First, we all have a responsibility to honor their sacrifice by protecting our liberties and fulfilling the responsibilities that go with those liberties. Exercising our liberties responsibly is not only respectful of the sacrifices made to protect them, it is a sure way to protect them from oppressive impulses to restrict them in the name of civil order.

We have a right to speak freely, but we have a responsibility to do so with respect for one another. We must not use our voices to lie, slander, or disparage. Instead, we must use our voices to educate, advocate, and debate.

We have a right to keep and bear arms, but we have a responsibility to do so safely. To own and carry the means to end someone’s life carries with it the responsibility to maintain the weapons, learn how to use them, store and handle them safely.

We have a right to vote, but we have a responsibility to know what we are voting for. We must educate ourselves on the issues and cast a vote for a candidate in accordance with our conscience. A vote cast in ignorance is not an act of self-governance. It is an act of disrespect to those who died to guarantee our right to vote.

When we exercise our rights in a responsible manner, we rob tyrants of excuses to infringe on our rights.

The second thought that lingered was that death humbles all. Under that grass and marble, great commanders who led legions into war lie yards away from the simplest private who never made it through his first battle. All of them are part of the same dirt now. Arlington reminds me of a missive penned by Stephen F. Austin that life is just a “speck between two eternities.”

While we all took some time on Memorial Day to reflect on the ultimate price paid made by so many American heroes for our liberty, it is what we do on the other 364 days of the year that truly honors their sacrifice. Make those days worth their sacrifice.

Downsizing

Mark Belling has a good column today about the generational decline in the birth rate and its impact on schools.

Downsizing a school district shouldn’t be difficult. You just reduce administrators, teachers and buildings in the same proportion as your enrollment declines. The problems are: The administrators don’t want to downsize themselves, the teachers are overly specialized and parents go ballistic when somebody proposes to close their kids’ school. One local district even decided to keep an elementary school open for one more year even though its enrollment is down to 50 (for the entire school!).

Districts got overbuilt when my generation’s parents were spitting out kids like rabbits (thus, the baby “boom”). Then my huge generation and the Gen Xers decided to sprawl out to the suburbs, creating need for more buildings in the Brookfields, Mequons and Burlingtons of the world. Along came the millennials and all of their idiosyncrasies, including an evident dislike of large families (or any families). What we have are massively overbuilt school systems with ridiculously bloated staffs of specialists, counselors, directors of this, that and the other thing, and in-house custodians, groundskeepers and nurses.

The only way out of this mess is to: a.) force the millennials to have kids (you can’t do that); b.) hope the incoming Generation Z kids revert back to wanting kids (unlikely); or c.) downsizing. The worst option of all is to borrow globs of money, increase your spending and put up even more buildings. That disastrous option is exactly the one most Wisconsin districts are taking.

Evil Billionaire Pays off Debt

Very, very cool.

Billionaire investor Robert F. Smith earned some stunned looks on Sunday during his commencement address at Morehouse College.

He told the graduating students he’d pay off their student debt.

“On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country: We’re going to put a little fuel in your bus,” Smith sad.

He continued: “I’ve got the alumni over here. And this is a challenge to alumni. This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”

Baby Bust

This is an important trend to watch as we think about entitlement programs, education infrastructure, etc.

America’s baby bust isn’t over. The nation’s birth rates last year reached record lows for women in their teens and 20s, a government report shows, leading to the fewest babies in 32 years.

The provisional report, released Wednesday and based on more than 99% of U.S. birth records, found 3.788 million births last year. It was the fourth year the number of births has fallen, the lowest since 1986 and a surprise to some experts given the improving economy.

The fertility rate of 1.7 births per U.S. woman also fell 2%, meaning the current generation isn’t making enough babies to replace itself. The fertility rate is a hypothetical estimate based on lifetime projections of age-specific birth rates.