February 26, 2005

Are WE paying for Limbaugh trip?

While in Afghanistan to highlight America's ongoing relief efforts in that country, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh delivered a partisan attack against a "political party," an apparent reference to Democrats, in a discussion with American troops. Recounting his remarks during a phone interview with guest host Roger Hedgecock on the February 22 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh noted that he told the troops he wouldn't "go politically correct on them" by hiding liberals' "opposition" to the troops and their mission:

LIMBAUGH: And, by the way, folks, if you're wondering, I didn't go politically correct on them. I told them exactly who's saying what about them in an opposition fashion. I told them what I think is the sort of phony-baloney, plastic-banana, good-time rock 'n' roller of some members of the American left saying they support the troops but they don't support their mission --

And I haven't run into anybody who has snickered. They're eager for the truth here.

Later in the program, Limbaugh explained that when a soldier asked him whether the U.S. should permit Afghanistan to adopt its own system of government, Limbaugh replied to a group of troops:

LIMBAUGH: And I said, "There are a lot of people in America who don't trust free people to do the right thing. I won't mention a political party -- you all know it -- and I won't mention the ideology -- you all know it."

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School plan must help those who lack choice

I don't believe Gov. Mark Sanford really wants to destroy public schools. But he has a strange way of showing it.

[Paul Hyde, phyde@greenvillenews.com]

Statements by Sanford and his spokesman have played right into the hands of critics who claim this governor, who sends his own children to private school, is hostile toward public schools.

Those critics say Sanford's school-choice initiative, known as Put Parents in Charge, aims to undermine the public schools attended by 670,000 South Carolina young people.

So far, Sanford has failed to convince South Carolinians that critics are wrong — partly because he and his staff have made disparaging remarks about public schools.

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Is the religious community's support for vouchers really wise?

By ALLEN BRILL, Guest columnist

The attitude of some evangelical Christians in the debate about the relative merits of public and private schools is puzzling to me.

Born-again Christians are among the most outspoken advocates for voucher and tax-credit programs that would help support private Christian schools. Last summer, two South Carolina Southern Baptists even made a proposal to the Southern Baptist Convention which was rejected that the denomination officially encourage its members to withdraw their children from public schools.

I've come to wonder more and more about whether private Christian schools really make sense in the light of Jesus' teaching. This is despite the positive experience our family had with the Lutheran parochial schools our children attended before we moved to South Carolina. Lying behind the arguments of Christians who disparage public schools is what really amounts to a lack of confidence in the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit.

They decry the œsecularism of the public schools and claim that our children are being indoctrinated into some kind of godless worldview. Such an accusation is laughable here in South Carolina, where so many of our public school teachers are active Christians. Do we really believe that the alto who never misses choir practice on Thursday nights becomes a proselytizing atheist in front of her fourth-grade class? What these Christians really seem to want is for that fourth-grade teacher to use her authority to evangelize her young charges. Has the good news of Jesus so lost its appeal that it requires help from the government for people to believe?

Less explicit in the case some Christians make for separate schools, but perhaps more fundamental to their attitude, is the fear that their children will catch the immorality of our society. There's no question that our culture seems to have lost its way, but how curious it is for Christians to find the solution in withdrawing and hiding in their own little enclaves. It's likely that places such as Corinth, Rome and Ephesus were just as immoral in the first century. Secularist ideas were rampant in cities such as Athens. Caesar's government was more likely to behead Christians like Paul than to promote Christianity.

If the earliest Christians had separated themselves from society, gone to Christian schools and bought only from Christian merchants, it's unlikely that any of us ever would have heard of Jesus. We can be thankful that these Christians had enough confidence in the Gospel and Holy Spirit to believe that the rest of the world would catch their values, rather than vice versa.

Jesus calls his followers the salt of the earth. But how can salt ever affect the flavor of this world if it's kept pure and separate in its shaker? Public schools are just the kind of institutions that Christians should be celebrating, where believers and unbelievers mix on a daily basis. If we just have enough confidence in the Gospel and in our children we'll see our local schools as an opportunity to improve our communities as we live the call to be in this world but not of it.

The Rev. Brill, a Lutheran pastor and member of the South Carolina Bar, administers Why Not, South Carolina? at www.whynotsouthcarolina.org

Screw The Children

Harsh language, but the cold reality of the Bush Budget demands straight talk.

[By Molly Ivins, Alternet.org]

What's really sad about the budget is that all this damage is being done to real, living children - to save what is, in Washington terms, pennies.

Budgets are the guts of government. That's where you find the answer to the first of the three important questions about who runs a society: Who's getting screwed? Who's doing the screwing? And what the hell will they do to us next?

With President Bush's proposed budget, may it die in committee, no pause is necessary. Read any overview of the proposal, and you can see exactly who's getting screwed: children.

Good Lord, what a nasty document. The cuts are in health care, childcare, Head Start, nutrition programs, food stamps and foster care. Because budgets are such abstract things - add a little here, cut some there, all produced by the Department of Great Big Numbers - it's hard to see what they actually mean to real people's lives.

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Arguments for Governor Mark Sanford's voucher-and-tax-credit scheme took a beating Thursday...
[From the South Carolina Education Association]

...in a forum sponsored by the Greater Greenville Forum, a group of about 100 business and community leaders, at the Westin Poinsett Hotel. Following remarks by Barbara Nielsen, Sanford's third K-12 education advisor, and Sen. Joel Lourie of Columbia, business leaders unleashed a barrage of questions critical of the bill, critical of disinformation tactics by out-of-state voucher advocates, and critical of lawmakers' constant attacks on public schools and educators. Unfortunately, the meeting was closed to the press. The forum was not styled as a debate between Nielsen, a voucher-and-tax-credit proponent, and Lourie, a supporter of public schools.

But after remarks from the two speakers, a question-and-answer session led to vigorous exchanges between the two, and between Nielsen and several questioners. Nielsen appeared to have been unaware that the forum was intended to discuss H 3204, the Sanford voucher-and-tax-credit bill. After prefacing her remarks by saying that voucher-and-tax-credit advocates were not attacking the progress made by public schools, their students, parents and educators, she embarked on a 15-minute attack on the progress made by public schools, their students, parents and educators.

'Dean Scream' clip was media fraud


Last year, a young cable news producer attended one of our twice-yearly Ethics Institutes at Washington and Lee University, in which students and journalists gather to discuss newsroom wrongdoing. He brought two clips.
The first was the familiar pool footage of Dean in Iowa. The candidate filled the screen, no supporters were visible. Crowd noise was silenced by the microphone he held, which deadened ambient sounds. You saw only him and heard only his inexplicable screaming.
The second clip was the same speech taped by a supporter on the floor of the hall. The difference was stunning. The place was packed. The noise was deafening. Dean was on the podium, but you couldn't hear him. The roar from his supporters was drowning him out.
Dean was no longer scary, unhinged, volcanic, over the top. He was like the coach of a would-be championship NCAA football team at a pre-game rally, trying to be heard over a gym full of determined, wildly enthusiastic fans. I saw energy, not lunacy.
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