Precinct 333

Friday, June 11, 2004

A tribute to a friend

Another great American died this week, another son of Illinois returned home to his God. And while his death stirred much less notice, I would like to note the passing of Father Edwin H. Hustedde. Father Ed was noted for so many things in his life, whether it was his role as an innovative educator in southern Illinois during his time as founding principal of Gibault Catholic High School, his pastoral work in the Diocese of Belleville, or his reputation as "the Pitching Priest" for the Waterloo Buds baseball team.

I leave you with my thoughts from the online memorial book.

May God richly reward Father Ed as he enters the Kingdom of Heaven.

It was my experience that Father Ed was a deeply spiritual man, one who found his calling to serve God through the work of educating the children who passed the doors of Gibault. That institution will stand as a living memorial to his vision and devotion to that vocation. His example is one that inspires me to this day in my own teaching career.

To the Hustedde family and the Gibault community, as well as the many people touched through his parish ministry, I offer my deepest sympathy and my prayers for you in this time of loss.


Farewell, Mr. President

Ronald Reagan, fourtieth president of the United States, was laid to rest this evening. A man who defined an era and reshaped the American body-politic, his place in history is assured, even as we Americans resume the debate over how he should be remembered.

Tonight's service focused on Reagan as a man of faith, as every funeral should. The words that are most striking to me are those of his son and namesake, Ron Reagan.
Dad was also a deeply, unabashedly religious man. But he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage. True, after he was shot and nearly killed early in his presidency, he came to believe that God had spared him in order that he might do good. But he accepted that as a responsibility, not a mandate. And there is a profound difference.

Let it be sufficient to say that the son caught the essence of what was right about the role of faith in his father's political life, and what is wrong with all too many others, both conservative and liberal.

Most touching for me was Nancy Reagan's sob as she said her final goodbye. This expression of grief could not help but touch anyone who loved her husband. Even my darling wife, The Loyal Opposition, was moved to tears. Nancy has shown America a model of grace and dignity -- and of love and devotion.


Hey KPMG! Look at me!

I hear you guys don't like unauthorized links because they violate your company policy.

Guess what -- I don't work for your stinking company. And I am unaware of anything in my terms of service that would be violated by a simple link.

So here goes.


Every adoptive parents nightmare!

Better hope your adoptive child looks sufficiently like you if he or she decides to act up. Parents of a two-year-old found that out recently while flying out of Erie, PA.

According to airport authorities,
"The baby was screaming, 'Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,' and fussing, trying to get out of the hands of the woman holding her," he said. "I'm sorry they had to miss the flight, but I don't care if the baby was white, pink, blue or whatever color. Two people in particular voiced concern that the baby might not belong to them, and we had to check it out."

Really? You've never seen the "terrible twos" on an airplane before? You routinely demand that the parents of small children deplane so that you can check if the kid is "really theirs" if the kid is misbehaving? Exactly how many such cases have there been recently -- say in the last three years?


Thursday, June 10, 2004

After sodomy as a civil right and gay marriage by judicial fiat

why not this?

So, half the cops in a Utah town are Mormon Fundamentalists who practice polygamy. I'd be upset if the extension of a right to sexual privacy in Lawrence v. Texas didn't seem to give these folks the right to sleep with whoever they want. Similarly, the Goodridge decision in Massachusetts, if its logic is extended nationwide, would seem to preclude limiting marriage to only two people.

Calling all liberals -- what do you think? Is this what you had in mind?


But what will Barry Lynn say?

Liberal religious groups are acting to get organized politically. Cut out of the political left after the Left went secular, liberal religious leaders want back in the game -- especially liberal Christians. They don't want their conservative brothers and sisters to be seen as the only game in town for Christians in politics.

One problem, though. How will they square their policies with the Bible, which is the guidebook for Christians? Or is one of those strictly optional?


Gee, I could have told you that!

But what do I know? I’m just a teacher.

It seems that a company that specializes in educational testing and materials doesn’t think much of the new TAKS test. They say it is little more than a minimal skills test, and not a workforce readiness test. It doesn’t show if students are ready for college, they complain.

Well, DUH!

It is a test designed to show that students meet the MINIMUM standards to graduate. Never has it been billed as anything else. It is the TASP that serves as a college readiness test.

I am especially fond of the quote from the Texas Education Agency spokeswoman:
"They're trying to make these tests do more than they were ever intended to do," said TEA spokeswoman Debbie Graves Ratcliffe. "They weren't intended to determine whether a student was ready for the job market or college. We're trying to determine whether they've mastered mid-high school level achievement. The test does what it's supposed to do, it just doesn't do what they want it to do."

As a teacher, I’ve got lots of criticism of the TAKS test, but I think this one is dead wrong. The test is given in eleventh grade, and so why would anyone expect it to cover twelfth grade material? It covers minimum graduation standards, so why would it include material from advanced electives? This study proves what I have always believed – Those who can, teach. Those who can’t become consultants.


Reagan bashing for experts

Ted Rall certainly went a bit “beyond the pale” in his comments on President Reagan. Mind you, I don’t think the man is above criticism. And as a student and teacher of history, I know that the historical record is always fit fodder for discussion. But sometimes you just need to stop and not speak. There will be time enough for the harsh words later.

The sad part is that Rall gets so much wrong in his rant. While some students felt that they were not threatened, others believed that they were. The fact that all those Cuban construction workers were armed with AK-47s certainly makes a case that the airport there was military in nature. And we won’t get into the fact that Grenadians still support Reagan, two decades after his intervention following a bloody coup on their country.

Reagan was responsible for Osama? Continuing a policy begun under Carter, we aided those who opposed the illegal Russian invasion of the sovereign nation of Afghanistan. I guess the continued oppression of a nation by communists didn’t matter much to Mr. Rall. And if we want to get down to brass tacks, I could point out which American president refused to accept offers from other nations to turn bin Laden over to the US following terrorist attacks during the 1990s.

Ted – I think it is more likely that you will be basted and browned over a brimstone-fueled fire.


Reagan bashing for beginners

Well, we knew it wouldn’t last forever. They just couldn’t allow for a period of mourning and a decent burial with honors. Liberals have decided to abuse the corpse of a dead president before it ever makes it into the ground.

One of the more feeble attempts is that of Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson, who gladly accepts the view of Archbishop Desmond Tutu that any policy but sanctions against the apartheid government of South Africa constituted collaboration with that policy and was therefore “immoral, evil, and totally un-Christian.” Unfortunately for Jackson, his argument only shows the folly of his position.

Jackson huffs that
“(o)nly a year after Reagan left office, Mandela was released. One can only wonder how much sooner he would have been released and how many lives would have been saved had Reagan not behaved like the white chief of old.”

On the other hand, one could just as easily argue that one could wonder how much longer Mandela would have been imprisoned, and how many more black South Africans would have been died at the hands of that corrupt regime had Reagan adopted the hard-line policy of sanctions demanded by liberals. Much as is found today in Cuba and North Korea, such sanctions could have worsened the situation and caused the government to become that much more oppressive.

And as I recall, we have spent the last dozen years hearing about sanctions against the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein being the source of untold suffering and death among the common people of that nation, especially the children. I cannot help but believe that had Ronald Reagan agreed to those sanctions, we would be hearing the complaint that Reagan was willing to starve black children to death while white South Africans were well fed.

Please note – I do NOT think any president is above criticism, even those who have headed to whatever eternal realm their deeds have deserved. It’s just that common decency cries out for a time of silence to honor the man, the office, and the country – and to allow the family a time to heal. Would a week have been too much to ask?


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Come Let Us Sit Upon The Ground. . .

and tell sad stories of the deaths of presidents.

Sorry, Will, but the paraphrase seems fitting. I think that your plays are all in the public domain, in any event.

Ronald Reagan lies in the Capitol Rotunda this night, honored by the citizens of a nation which owes him much. I have spent much time thinking of what to say this night, and still can find no words better than those I placed in the remembrance book at the Reagan Library site on Saturday night.

My prayers and deepest sympathy are with you and the family at this time.

I first heard the name Ronald Reagan as a child living in California. I was only three years old when he was elected governor, but my parents taught me early that he was a good man, and one to be admired. I followed his career from then on.

As an adolescent I listened to Ronald Reagan on the radio. What he said made sense, and he was a major influence in the formation of my world-view. As he challenged for the presidential nomination in 1976, I hoped that he would be the one to make us proud of America again. My heart broke when he conceded.

Four years later I sat late into the night, waiting for him to appear and announce his vice- presidential candidate. I was 17, and excited by his words and vision. I had never worked on a campaign before, but I did then. I am one of that generation he inspired with his conservative vision and principles.

In 1984 I cast my first presidential vote for Ronald Reagan. He remains the standard by which I judge any candidate for office.

Tonight I weep. I weep because of the loss of a man who holds a unique place in my heart and life. I weep from gladness, that the suffering is over. And I weep for joy that Ronald Reagan is today with his God in Heaven.

Rest well, good and faithful servant.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004


This will be my first post here from Precinct 333, a congenial spot here in a congenial corner of Southeast Texas, not too far from Houston. I'm your friendly neighborhood Precinct Chair. I plan on devoting this site to my passions -- history, politics, education, religion, and, of course, my darling wife (AKA The Loyal Opposition). So come on in, take a seat, pour the beverage of your choice and see what develops!


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