Condoleezza’s Insights Will Be Missed at Rutgers

“I am honored to have served my country.  I have defended America’s belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas.”  These are the words of Condoleezza Rice in her recent statement declining an invitation to speak at the commencement ceremony for graduating seniors at Rutgers University, due to protests from a small, but vocal, group of faculty and students.

It is unfortunate that select students and faculty at Rutgers are so enamored with a narrow perspective on life that it renders them incapable of considering the viewpoint of an individual mindful of a different angle.  The free exchange of ideas, so universally respected in American campuses, is seemingly limited to the free exchange of thoughts deemed progressive or liberal.  To some, the voice of a conservative is not deemed worthy of admission at a graduation ceremony.  Though unfortunate for its representation of narrow-minded academia run amuck, the greater injustice is to the graduating seniors themselves, who miss out on an opportunity to listen to the words of a historical figure in American history.  Condoleezza Rice, a woman of immense and diverse talents, would undoubtedly provide the graduating seniors with useful words of wisdom.

For instance, she might offer insights into the importance of the arts or athletics for a well-rounded individual – a relevant topic for Rice given her background as a renowned concert pianist and the fact that she was the first female entrant into the nation’s most prestigious golf club, Augusta National.  Additionally a former Board of Trustee member for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Rice has also performed music publicly with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, one of the great cellists of our time.  Her years of classical training and experience with the high arts give her authority to speak on the topic.

Alternatively, she could offer her thoughts on the significance of higher education and the need to sharpen one’s mind throughout every stage of life.   Her tenure as a professor for over 30 years at one of the world’s premier institutions, Stanford University, might provide some appropriate perspective for this topic.  She might also add insights on the role of academia by discussing her position within the university’s administration, in which she served as the first female, first minority and youngest Provost in the history of Stanford.

Perhaps she might provide unique insights into a relevant issue of the day, such as the unfolding situation in Ukraine and Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea.  After all, she studied at Moscow State University in 1979 and has a Ph.D.  in political science, with a particular expertise in Russian and former Soviet affairs.  It was her expertise in this area that was the catalyst for her foray into public service, which would likely interest a few of the graduating seniors.  Speaking of public service, many students would welcome Rice’s thoughts as to how she was able to overcome the anger and despair of growing up in racially segregated Alabama to eventually become the first female African American Secretary of State in the history of the United States.

Or Rice could alternatively inform the students that one’s perspective on life is capable of evolving over time.  For instance, she could tell the story of a woman who viewed the world through a lens of inexperience and idealism in the late 1970s and called herself a Democrat.  Dissatisfaction with Democratic foreign policy in the late 70s and early 80s in part led her to become a Republican.  Rising within the ranks of the Republican party, she would go on to speak at the 2000 Republican National Convention.  There, she would tell the Convention that, “my father joined our party because the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him to vote.  The Republicans did.”

Rather than discussing her own experiences, she could sum up an overall message that a student’s perspective on life, particularly at the age of 22, is limited and subject to change.  She might quote single line from Hamlet, one of the most famous books in the English language: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Instead, the Rutgers students who successfully lobbied for Rice to drop herself as commencement speaker will continue to view the world from a particular, limited vantage point.  Perhaps one day, that perspective will change.

(Ben Everard is a contributor to California Political Review. Originally published on California Political Review.)

Benghazi Spin

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Sentencing Delayed for Sen. Rod Wright

From The Sacramento Bee:

For the second time, the sentencing hearing for suspended state Sen. Rod Wright has been delayed for two months in the criminal trial that alleged he lied about where he lived when he ran for office in 2008.

A Los Angeles jury found the Democrat guilty in January of eight perjury and voter fraud felonies for claiming a home in Inglewood as his official address while he actually lived a few miles away in the tonier community of Baldwin Hills. Wright’s sentencing was originally set for March but wasdelayed until May 16. Today it was delayed again, this time until July 21, according to Wright’s lawyer Winston Kevin McKesson.

(Read Full Article)

rod wright

Obama and Holder Undermining IRS Investigation

From The Daily Caller:

House Republicans Friday introduced a resolution calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS targeting scandal, blasting Holder for purposely failing to seriously investigate the agency.

Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, accused President Obama and his administration of having “publicly undermined the investigation on multiple occasions.”

(Read Full Article)

eric holder attorney general

CA Dark Money Bill Passes Assembly

From The Sacramento Bee:

Legislation cracking down on anonymous campaign donations, amended to protect donors who have given money for this election, advanced from the California Assembly on a 56-7 vote Monday.

Lawmakers have sought to rein in secretive campaign spending since out-of-state groupsfunneled $15 million against Proposition 30 and for Proposition 32 in 2012. Senate Bill 27, by Sen.Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, would help that cause by triggering disclosure of the donors when donations hit a certain amount.

“The law needs to catch up with the way in which nonprofits avoid reporting requirements,” Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, said on Monday.

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

Congress Can’t Stop Obama On Global Warming

From The Daily Caller:

White House adviser John Podesta told reporters Monday afternoon that Congress could not derail the Obama administration’s efforts to unilaterally enact policies to fight global warming.

Podesta said that the president was committed to using executive orders to pass regulations under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon dioxide emissions that they say cause global warming.

(Read Full Article)

Enviromental Protection Agency

Time to Revisit Outdated Master Plan for Higher Education

From The Sacramento Bee:

As California’s population surged from migration and a postwar baby boom in the 1950s, education and political leaders wrote a Master Plan for Higher Education that envisioned a seamless array of low-cost, high-quality coursework.

Community colleges would offer two-year degree programs, technical training and lower-division classes for students planning to transfer to four-year schools.

The state college – later university – system would train the teachers, engineers and other professionals that a growing state would need in great abundance.

(Read Full Article)


Supreme Court Upholds Prayer at Public Meetings

From Politico:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday, 5-4, that sectarian prayers can be presented at official government meetings without running afoul of the Constitution’s prohibition on establishment of religion.

Acting in a case brought against Greece, N.Y., over its practice of allowing local ministers to deliver prayers at town board meetings containing beliefs specific to particular Christian denominations, the court’s majority said such prayers are legally permissible as long as the government does not discriminate among those seeking to present a prayer.

(Read Full Article)

Photo courtesy Envios, flickr

Photo courtesy Envios, flickr

The Symbiotic Relationship that Short Changes Americans

Wealthy democratic donors met with Big Labor and high interest liberal groups in Chicago this week to plot strategy for the 2014 Mid-Term Elections. The approaching elections, however, may very well be the beginning of the end for these symbiotic partners.

The liberal left has already begun to suggest that their pending demise is due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case in 2012 (see Supreme Court Rejects Corporate Campaign Spending Limits). In that case, the Court opened the door for unrestricted corporate spending on political elections stating that, “Political speech does not lose its First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation.”

Listening to the democrats’ complaints, one would have thought that the Democratic Party had been put at a tremendous disadvantage. However, statistics show that the fact is that Union money overshadows Koch influence in politics. Big labor and the Democratic Party suggest that it is the Koch brothers, major corporate donors to the Republican Party, who are the largest donors to political causes. This is simply not true. In the 2011 – 2012 election cycle, labor unions donated approximately 91% of its $143 million, or $130 million, in contributions to Democratic candidates for federal office (state and local campaign spending, and lobbying expenditures, are not included in this total); while the Koch’s donated approximately $36 million to conservative candidates. In addition, big labor spent an additional $3.3 billion from 2005 through 2011 on political “ground” activity as exposed in Big Labor’s Expense for Election Foot Soldiers, Finally in Media Spotlight. It is easy to do the math and understand that political spending to support the progressive/liberal cause far out paces conservative donors. These numbers do not include donations from non-union, progressive donors like George Soros or Tom Steyer.

It is no wonder Union Members are Not Happy with Their Leader’s Political Spending. Its political bent is a primary reason why the unions have been declining (see Why the Unions Declined). Big Labor’s identity crisis is directly related to the fact that it continues to utilize an outdated business model to politically bribe Democrats to pass new laws and regulations that would allow big labor to force unionize employees through Corporate Campaigns instead of providing true value to its membership outside the realm of politics.

The fact is, big labor is The elephant in the political spending room. In cooperation with the Democratic party, they continue to use a Divide and Conquer strategy against the American people as they are desperate to reinforce their failed strategies such as the minimum wage hike and bribing politicians (see Democrats See Doomed Minimum- Wage Plan as Election Boost and Dem Honda’s Silicon Valley Campaign Office is Inside SEIU HQ).

Conservatives need to wake up and utilize the one weapon unions fear most, which is personal contact with people/voters of all stripes. Discussion with, and education of the people ultimately served as the demise of the SEIU’s Death by a Thousand Cuts Corporate Campaign against my company as chronicled in The Devil at Our Doorstep.

(David A. Bego is the President and CEO of EMS, an industry leader in the field of environmental workplace maintenance, employing nearly 5000 workers in thirty-three states. Bego is the author of “The Devil at My Doorstep,” as well as the just released sequel, “The Devil at Our Doorstep,” based on his experiences fighting back against one of the most powerful unions in existence today. Originally published on Union Watch.)

Support for Boosting School Taxes Drops

Proposition 13 still garners broad support across California 36 years after the tax-limitation measure was passed.

According to the latest opinion poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California,  support for loosening Prop. 13′s two-thirds vote requirement for approving local parcel taxes for schools has dropped from 46 percent in April 2011 to 39 percent in April 2014.

Democrats have lost their supermajority in the state Senate this year when three senators were suspended from office due to scandals. Thus, the Legislature is unlikely to be able to surmount Republican opposition to any modification of Prop. 13.

The two-thirds requirement for passing school construction bonds already was dropped to 55 percent when voters passed Prop. 39 in 2000. The PPIC question was about doing the same thing for school parcel taxes.

The PPIC poll is the first to measure any change in public opinion on taxes since the passage of Proposition 30 in Nov. 2012. It increased income and sales taxes $7 billion to fund revenues for K-12 public schools.

The PPIC poll also found that, compared to when it asked the questions in 2011:

  • 6 percentage points fewer would vote Yes on a school parcel tax, down to 48 percent.
  • 10 percentage points fewer believe funding for public schools is “not enough,” down to 49 percent.

The only school-related tax for which slightly stronger support was expressed was for school construction bonds, up 2 percentage points to 55 percent.

However, the track record so far for passing such taxes already is high. “Since 2001, the statewide passage rate for local school bonds has been 81 percent and for local school parcel taxes, 60 percent,” reported EdSource. However, it said the PPIC poll could mean “trouble ahead” for future school tax ballot measures.

Whether the PPIC poll actually indicates a slight shift downward in approving such local taxes will be seen next month in the primary election.

Democratic voters

The percentage of likely majority Democratic Party voters, 44 percent, did not change since 2011. Thus, because PPIC surveys quotas of likely voters by political party registration, there was no change in the percentage of Democratic voters polled from 2011 to 2014.

Change of Likely Voters Opinions on K-12 Public School Taxes from 2011 to 2014
Percent of Likely Voters Who: Registered as Democrat/
Decline to State
Would Vote Yes If School Bond on Ballot Would Vote Yes on School Parcel Tax Say State Funding ‘Not Enough’ for Public Schools Would vote to reduce 2/3 vote requirement of Prop. 13
2011 44%/31%/20% 53% 54% 59% 46%
2014 44%/28%/22% 55% 48% 49% 39%
% Change 0%/-3%/+2% +2% -6% -10% -7%
Data Sources:
PPIC Annual Education Poll 2011
PPIC Annual Education Poll 2014

The percentage of Republican registered voters dropped 3 percentage points. But that did not make an apparent difference in the direction of the opinions on school taxes.

Voter concern

EdSource also wrote:

“It is possible that voter concern about school funding needs will surface later this year, as school districts implement two dramatic changes: the Common Core Standards in the classroom and the Local Control Funding Formula, which provides more money for districts with higher proportions of English learners and lower-income students. These changes could offer two new avenues to engage voters about the need for local school funding.”

The new funding formula sends more money to low-performing schools, largely in poor areas, by taking it from high-performing schools, largely in wealthy areas. This could prompt local schools officials in the wealthier areas to make up for the lost funds by putting parcel taxes before voters.

The controversial Common Core program already has cost the state education budget $1.3 billion, with $1.6 billion total being expected. It replaces more rigorous 1998 standards.

The PPIC survey also asked about Common Core. It found:

“A majority of Californians (56%) say they have heard either a lot (19%) or a little (37%) about the new set of English and math standards, while 43 percent say they have heard nothing at all. … Awareness among public school parents is much higher today than it was last April (9% a lot, 36% a little, 54% nothing at all).”

As Common Core is implemented, it will be interesting to see how those numbers rise in next year’s PPIC survey.

(Wayne Lusvardi is a contributor to CalWatchdog. Originally posted on CalWatchdog.)