I can't say how happy I am to see someone come right out (The Rant, November 19th issue) and call Joe Lieberman for what he is: a mealymouthed, self-interested mamzer! When one wonders why, with majorities in the House and Senate, the Democrats can't get anything done, all you have to do is look at Joe.
He is the manifestation of "soft" politics and cajoling. It is pretty obvious that the Dems let Lieberman caucus with them because he made some deals and, in return, gets to keep his committee chairmanship. It shows the ineffectiveness of our system.
Saying that he will filibuster any health- care-reform plan that contains a public option should be seen as an outrage to the Democrats and, most importantly, his constituents. The man really needs a dose of reality, and, after the Senate vote — hopefully a successful one for health reform — the Democrats should kick him out of the caucus.
The Bush years were tough, but we can only wonder what eight years of Vice President Lieberman would have been like.
The Gates Grant
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made an incredibly important decision to fund Memphis City Schools with nearly $100 million over five years to improve teacher effectiveness. Now, Memphis is expected to raise $50 million to continue the project.
The plan outlined by Superintendent Kriner Cash will use the money to effectively train, recruit, and incentivize teachers who, in the past, often preferred jobs in other districts. It is a good strategy for improving MCS and the students it serves. I hope the plan is baked enough to have an immediate effect on Memphis, a city where only 23.7 percent of the population has earned a college degree. Reportedly, an increase in college degree attainment by 1 percent would raise the local economy $1 billion annually.
Memphis now has an opportunity to upgrade its education system, thanks in part to the Gates Foundation. Now, Memphis, let's deliver, because our students deserve it, and our economy needs it.
Food for Thought
Last week, a failed vice-presidential candidate claimed that animals belong next to the mashed potatoes. This week, our president is pardoning two turkeys. It's food for thought.
Each of us has the presidential power to pardon a turkey this Thanksgiving. It shows our compassion for an innocent animal, as well as our concern for our family's and our planet's health. It's a most fitting way to give thanks for our own life, health, and happiness.
The 270 million turkeys abused and slaughtered in the U.S. each year have nothing to give thanks for. They breathe toxic fumes in crowded sheds. Their beaks and toes are severed. At the slaughter-house, workers cut their throats and dump them into boiling water, sometimes while still conscious.
Consumers too pay a heavy price. Turkey flesh is laced with cholesterol and saturated fats that elevate the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Careful adherence to government warning labels is required to avoid food poisoning. Turkey excrement pollutes our water supplies.
This Thanksgiving, I won't be calling the Poultry Hot Line or staying awake wondering how that turkey lived and died. I will be joining millions of other Americans in observing this joyful family holiday with nonviolent healthful products of the earth's bounty: vegetables, fruits, and grains.
Morals and Rhetoric
Rhetoric should have meaning. Language should have value. What then is meant by the phrase we are now hearing from the politicos: "We have a moral obligation to pass this legislation"?
Morals must be based on some standard. Frequent standards used as a basis for moral values are Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. Most of our government officials have rejected Scripture and traditional values. When scrutinized, the legislation they are trying to pass does not hold up to sound reason. And experience teaches that big government doesn't produce anything good.
So, other than just being persuasive words, what value do these so-called moral obligations have? Why is a government that has propagated the educational system that teaches no moral absolutes telling us that we absolutely have a moral obligation to do what they are demanding?
My point is simple: Listening to our present leadership talk about moral obligations is about as logical as listening to Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner talk about chastity!