The Society Page

By Gene Mahoney

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Welcome to the San Francisco Herald, formerly known as the California Herald, which was formerly known as the San Francisco Herald, unless you’re reading the Silicon Valley Herald, the San Mateo Herald, the Marin Herald, the Berkeley Herald, the Santa Cruz Herald, the Sacramento Herald, or the Santa Monica Herald.

As you can see, last issue’s plan to make the San Francisco Herald into a state-wide paper called the California Herald has taken a new twist: several different editions of the same thing. I tell ya; what you have to do for advertisers. Okay, on with the column…

Pancho Villa for Senator

Cesar Chavez

Here’s an excerpt from Ruben Navarrette, Jr., a Mexican-American columnist for the San Diego Union, on the school walkouts that occurred commemorating the birthday of late United Farm Worker president Cesar Chavez. The students were protesting the proposed illegal immigration bill in congress, as well as the Arizona Minutemen, those volunteers who patrol the border and report illegal crossings:

Here’s the ironic part: Despite the fact that Chávez is these days revered among Mexican-American activists, the labor leader in his day was no more tolerant of illegal immigration than the Arizona Minutemen are now. Worried that the hiring of illegal immigrants drove down wages, Chávez – according to numerous historical accounts – instructed union members to call the Immigration and Naturalization Service to report the presence of illegal immigrants in the fields and demand that the agency deport them. UFW officials were even known to picket INS offices to demand a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

And in 1973, in one of the most disgraceful chapters in UFW history, the union set up a “wet line” to prevent Mexican immigrants from entering the United States. Under the guidance of Chávez‘s cousin, Manuel, UFW members tried at first to convince the immigrants not to cross. When that didn’t work, they physically attacked the immigrants and left some bloody in the process. It happened in the same place that the Minutemen are now planning to gather: the Arizona-Mexico border.

And shortly after the bill looked like it would pass, and then was surprisingly defeated at the last minute, Don Feder of Frontpagemag.com opined:

At their press conference announcing this rape of our national identity, McCain, Specter, Reid et al. couldn’t even refer to the objects of their beneficence as illegal aliens. They were undocumented workers – the weaseliest of weasel words. Sure, and the man who breaks into my house is an uninvited guest. 

Perhaps the most hilarious comments at the press conference came from stand-up comic and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D - Nevada), who spoke of all the undocumented workers employed by Las Vegas casino-hotels, as maids, dishwashers, etc, and how much the industry has come to rely on their (cheap) labor. 

Does he think the average American actually cares about the labor costs, hence the profit-margin, of Caesar’s Palace or the MGM Grand? (Gosh, whatever would we do without a gaming industry?) If they don’t want to pay an American wage and fill those jobs with American workers, why should I care about their bottom-line?

Reid sang a different tune (which sounded more like “The Star-Spangled Banner” than “The Bonaparte’s Retreat”) in 1993, when he observed: “Our borders have overflowed with illegal immigrants placing tremendous burdens on our criminal justice system, schools and social programs. …Our federal wallet is stretched to the limit by illegal aliens getting welfare, food stamps, medical care and other benefits often without paying any taxes. … These programs were not meant to entice freeloaders and scam artists from around the world. Even worse, Americans have seen heinous crimes committed by individuals who are here illegally.”

What changed for Reid in the interim isn’t the reality of illegal immigration, but the rise of the lawbreakers’ lobby in his home state, combined with his becoming the Senate leader of the party of plunder and shameless pandering.

Feder predictably attacks Reid and the Democrats, but there’s a reason his article is titled No Amnesty for Republicans:

If Republicans lose either or both Houses of Congress this year, blame it on the immigration-sellout of the McCains, Specters and Hegels.

GOP strategists think Middle Americans have no place else to go in November. We don’t have to go anywhere – just stay comfortably at home.

But that will be only the beginning. The Whig Party committed suicide by refusing to take a stand on slavery. Instead, it sought accommodations with evil, like the Compromise of 1850. 

Republicans are emulating their pusillanimous predecessors. The party’s conservative base – its very essence – is furious with this unpardonable betrayal. 

If this gift to illegal aliens becomes law, there will be no amnesty for the Republican Party.

You tell ‘em, Don. Hey, let’s hear what the new Gandhi has to say about this:

SAN FRANCISCO - Mayor Gavin Newsom said Thursday that The City will not comply with any federal legislation that criminalizes efforts to help illegal immigrants.

Newsom also signed a resolution sponsored by Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, and passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, urging San Francisco law enforcement not to comply with criminal provisions of any new immigration bill.

“San Francisco stands foursquare in strong opposition to the rhetoric coming out of Washington, D.C.,” Newsom said. “If people think we were defiant on the gay marriage issue, they haven’t seen defiance.”

You have to admire Mayor Newsom “standing up” for gays and Hispanics, who just happen to be two of the largest voting blocs in San Francisco. What courage. On a similar note…

Tim Paulson, San Francisco Labor Council leader, said he would assure that all workers in the community will be treated with justice.

“There is no such thing as an illegal worker,” he said. “There is no such thing as an illegal human being.”

Terry Anderson (of KRLA radio in Los Angeles) had an interesting rebuttal to Mr. Paulson’s grand proclamation:

“If I broke into Tim Paulson’s house and ate his food and put my feet up on his coffee table while watching his big-screen TV, when he got home, do you think he’d consider me an illegal human being?”

It’s April 10th as I type this paragraph, a day after I typed the ones above, and there are nation-wide protests supporting illegal immigration going on across the country. Although the protesters seem to be waving American flags, smiling, and chanting “U.S.A.!” today instead of waving Mexican flags, flipping people off, and yelling “Go back to Europe, Whitey!” like they did last week. I guess they realized that outside of San Francisco and a few other Bay Area cities (where doing that will get you elected mayor) it wasn’t good PR. As Don Feder notes in his follow-up FrontPageMag.com piece titled Rally Round the Criminals:

[H]ave you ever seen a picture of the Mexican Congress? It’s whiter than the Santa Monica Yacht Club. In its entire history, Mexico has had exactly one Indian president (Benito Juarez). Mexico deliberately exports its excess population (its most uneducated and least skilled), then has the chutzpah to call us racists when we object.

This is just anecdotal, but from my vantage point everything seems to be running fine, so I think the protesters’ plan to shut down the U.S. economy by taking the day off work isn’t panning out so well.

Hey, I shouldn’t be so hard on them. I mean, this is America, right? Any citizen can march in the street and exercise their right to free speech. Oh, uh… “citizen”? Sorry. How insensitive. I’m sure the protesters mean well, though. I just wonder how they all spontaneously stopped the anti-American rhetoric and started waving American flags. Hmmm. Wait, what’s this…

Rally organizer tied to Marxist party, By Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES, 4/11/06:

One of the key organizers of the immigration protests and rallies nationwide, including yesterday’s in Washington, is a group whose leaders are tied to the Workers World Party, a Marxist organization that has expressed support for dictators Kim Jong-il of North Korea and Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition, which also has proposed a nationwide boycott on May 1 to protest congressional efforts at immigration reform and border security, is an offshoot of the International Action Coalition, an anti-capitalism group founded by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

In a press release celebrating a March 25 rally in Los Angeles against immigration-law enforcement that drew an estimated 500,000 people, ANSWER said it helped organize “a major contingent in the march” and provided logistical support. The march was co-chaired by Juan Jose Gutierrez, director of Latino Movement USA, who also is a member of ANSWER’s Los Angeles steering committee.

I’m not accusing anybody of anything. Why, I’m sure it’s just a big coincidence. I’m typing this column in April, and by the time you read it the nationwide boycott on May 1st (May Day) to “protest congressional efforts at immigration reform and border security” will be over. But let me tell you, on May 1st I am buying everything in sight. I’m the least materialistic guy I know, but on May 1st I’m throwing everything I can into a shopping cart. I’m going to go to those awful fast-food joints I always avoid and will eat six or seven meals that day. I’m going to gain 20 pounds. If you want to discuss immigration with our senator, Diane Feinstein, her contact info can be found online at feinstein.senate.gov. Don’t even bother contacting the other one we’ve got; she’s too far gone. Adios.

School Daze

Here’s an interesting excerpt from an article titled The Teacher-Pay Myth from the September 22, 2005 edition of the New York Post. It’s written by Jay P. Greene and Marcus Winters, authors of a recent book titled Education Myths:

FEW cliches permeate our culture more thoroughly than that of the underpaid schoolteacher. In fact, many people would say that if they know anything about public schools it is that teachers deserve far more money than they actually get. Thus, many will sympathize with this week’s vote by the New York City teachers union to hold a strike vote in a few weeks if stalled contract talks continue to deny them a raise.

But the idea that teachers are underpaid is a myth. When we discard our presuppositions and look at the evidence, it turns out that teachers actually are better paid than many people realize.

As of 2002, the average salary for teachers nationwide was about $44,600. That does seem modest. But we need account for the relatively few hours that teachers actually spend working compared to other professionals.

Teachers have long vacation periods, several personal and sick days and work a shorter day than most other professionals. We can only properly understand these hours away from work as a benefit of the teaching profession. That is, a teacher who earns $45,000 to work for nine months is clearly better paid than a nurse who gets the same salary for working 12 months.

Since teachers’ work schedule distorts direct salary comparisons with other jobs, we need to look at hourly pay.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average public elementary school teacher in the United States earns about $30.75 an hour. The average hourly pay of other public-service employees - such as firefighters ($17.91) or police officers ($22.64) - pales in comparison.

Indeed, teachers’ hourly rate exceeds even those in professions that require far more training and expertise. Compare the schoolteacher’s $30.75 to the average biologist’s $28.07 an hour - or the mechanical engineer’s $29.76 or the chemist’s $30.68.

Whose hourly pay is competitive with that of teachers? Computer scientists ($32.86), dentists ($35.51) and even nuclear engineers ($36.16).

Note, too, that these hourly figures exclude benefits, such as health coverage and retirement accounts, which are typically more generous for government employees, such as teachers, than for private-sector workers.

New York City’s teachers are especially well paid. According to the state’s school district profile, the median teacher in the city earns $53,017 a year. Unfortunately, information on the number of hours worked by the average teacher in the City is not readily available. But, if we make the generous assumption that the average teacher in New York works the maximum 6.6 hours a day allowed by the union contract for the full 181 school days, that works out to $44.38 an hour.

So, if teachers are underpaid, then workers in other professions are badly underpaid, too. But there’s no clamor to raise the pay of computer scientists, dentists or engineers.

But don’t teachers spend a great deal of time grading papers and creating lesson plans while away from school? Some do - but the comparisons here are still fair - because other professionals do work away from the office, too. Engineers and computer scientists are certainly no strangers to long nights working at home.

Nor do teachers spend all of their time at school in the classroom. In fact, teachers spend fewer hours actually instructing students than many recognize. Stanford’s Terry Moe worked with data straight from the nation’s largest teacher union’s own data - and found that the average teacher in a department setting (that is, where students have different teachers for different subjects) was in the classroom for fewer than 3.9 hours out of the 7.3 hours at school each day.

With several hours set aside at school for course-planning and grading, it strains plausibility that on average teachers must spend more hours working at home than do other professionals.

The myth that teachers are underpaid is a significant hurdle to educational reform because it helps prop up the falsehood that schools in general are underfunded. In fact, taxpayers spend more money on public K-12 schools than they do on national defense, even more than the Gross Domestic Product of Russia.

Yet, despite this generous investment, student outcomes as measured by standardized tests and graduation rates have been stagnant since the Ford administration.

A recent column by Brian Riedl in the Salt Lake City Tribune may help explain how misleading the claims made by many activists are:

Education spending is primarily a state and local function; 9 percent of the total comes from Washington. Federal education spending has surged 137 percent since the 2001 enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act. Most federal dollars are spent on low-income school districts, special education and college student financial aid.

Increased education spending would affect police and fire departments much, much more than it would the military. This from a 2002 analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (cbpp.org):

Financing public education is primarily the responsibility of state and local government. In state fiscal year 1999, 49 percent of education funds come from state appropriations, 44 percent from local revenues, and seven percent from the federal government. Local governments raise funds for education primarily through property taxes, while states rely on a variety of taxes including personal and corporate income taxes, and sales and excise taxes. While the federal government’s small role in funding public schools has remained relatively constant over time, the share of education financed with state dollars has been increasing and the local share shrinking. The state share of school funding has risen from 30 percent in 1940 to 40 percent in 1970 to 49 percent in 1999.

Wouldn’t it be great if the military had all the money it needed and schools had to hold a bake sale to buy a textbook?

Earth Day in the Balance

Here’s an excerpt from a frontpagemag.com article titled Earth Day Going from Red to Green. It’s the latest from the great Lowell Ponte:

April 22 has become a political holiday for those pseudo-environmentalists known as Watermelons, green on the outside but red on the inside. The fall of the Iron Curtain revealed that pollution in Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe was thousands of times worse than anything in the West – but these phony ecologists uttered no anathema against Marxist dictatorships. (The late David Brower, the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club, at Soviet request, visited Lake Baikal in Siberia, and Russian propagandists used this to project an international image of the dictatorship’s environmental awareness and caring.)

Ponte continues:

But as the Left concocted it, Earth Day was supposed to be “commercialized” and exploited in ways that brought lots of green – to them. It may not give them as much power as Leftists crave, but Earth Day as an annual event continues to bring them fat, juicy profits.  

This single holiday employs at least 3,400 leaders of tax-exempt environmental groups, many pocketing $150,000 or more per year, doing quite well by doing “good.” It has become an industry for the Left, a lucrative industry that would shut down if environmental fear and doomsaying came to an end. The wealth in the environmental organization business comes from mining other peoples’ wallets, using never-ending crises as tools to pry loose their money. Not surprisingly, it’s a dirty and often deceitful business that puts the “con” in conservation. 

Hoover Institution fellow Peter Schweitzer documents such leftwing greed in his wonderful 2005 book Do As I Say (Not as I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy. From radical Noam Chomsky to Marxist historian Howard Zinn to radio talk host and Democratic Party shill Al Franken, today’s lefties have made themselves millionaires by denouncing capitalism. They have called for confiscatory taxation of the “rich” while using shelters and other means to avoid paying taxes themselves.

The leaders of environmental organizations exhibit similar hypocrisy. The Sierra Club refused to oppose illegal immigration despite the huge ecological damage it causes. Like its watermelon comrades, the Sierra Clubbers thereby show themselves to be more concerned about partisan politics than the environment.

Greenpeace opposed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, even though this dictator’s deliberate destruction of Iraq’s marshlands did environmental damage comparable to the deforestation in the Amazon basin. The Nature Conservancy sold land donated for preservation for pennies on the dollar to one of its officials, who built a luxury waterfront estate on it. Almost everywhere you look closely enough in the leftward environmental movement, you find sleaze, hypocrisy, self-aggrandizement, dishonesty and corruption.  

Even the so-called Green Party in 2004 stabbed in the back its former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, an honest and sincere leftist, and cut a backroom deal with the Democratic Party not to undermine its candidate Senator John Kerry in as many as 17 pivotal states. How much money changed hands in this deal remains to be discovered. In effect, the Green Party sold its followers out by becoming a mere auxiliary of the corrupt Democratic Party.

America’s self-appointed environmental spokesman, the prating and pompous former Vice President Al Gore (now a sock puppet for the radical group MoveOn.org and its bank-roller anti-American billionaire George Soros) continues to enrich himself through oil company dealings.  At the same time, Gore spews unscientific hot air about purported global warming as part of a carefully orchestrated worldwide propaganda campaign to increase taxes, regulation and government power everywhere.

If you think Lowell doesn’t care about the environment, read his much-publicized 1976 book The Cooling, about an impending ice age, which is what all the media-savvy scientists were talking about back then. If you want to read more about Al Gore’s oil connections, type Gore’s Oil Money by Ken Silverstein into a search engine. It’s from the May 22, 2000 issue of The Nation.

Frog News

Here’s a great piece, which appeared February 26 in the Chicago Sun-Times, from Mark Steyn (marksteyn.com) titled Needing to wake up, West just closes its eyes:

In five years’ time, how many Jews will be living in France? Two years ago, a 23-year-old Paris disc jockey called Sebastien Selam was heading off to work from his parents’ apartment when he was jumped in the parking garage by his Muslim neighbor Adel. Selam’s throat was slit twice, to the point of near-decapitation; his face was ripped off with a fork; and his eyes were gouged out. Adel climbed the stairs of the apartment house dripping blood and yelling, “I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven.”

Is that a gripping story? You’d think so. Particularly when, in the same city, on the same night, a Jewish woman was brutally murdered in the presence of her daughter by another Muslim. You’ve got the making of a mini-trend there, and the media love trends. Yet no major French newspaper carried the story.

This month, there was another murder. Ilan Halimi, also 23, also Jewish, was found by a railway track outside Paris with burns and knife wounds all over his body. He died en route to the hospital, having been held prisoner, hooded and naked, and brutally tortured for almost three weeks by a gang that had demanded half a million dollars from his family. Can you take a wild guess at the particular identity of the gang? During the ransom phone calls, his uncle reported that they were made to listen to Ilan’s screams as he was being burned while his torturers read out verses from the Quran.

This time around, the French media did carry the story, yet every public official insisted there was no anti-Jewish element. Just one of those things. Coulda happened to anyone. And, if the gang did seem inordinately fixated on, ah, Jews, it was just because, as one police detective put it, ‘’Jews equal money.’’ In London, the Observer couldn’t even bring itself to pursue that particular angle. Its report of the murder managed to avoid any mention of the unfortunate Halimi’s, um, Jewishness. Another British paper, the Independent, did dwell on the particular, er, identity groups involved in the incident but only in the context of a protest march by Parisian Jews marred by ‘’radical young Jewish men’’ who’d attacked an ‘’Arab-run grocery.’’

At one level, those spokesmonsieurs are right: It could happen to anyone. Even in the most civilized societies, there are depraved monsters who do terrible things. When they do, they rip apart entire families, like the Halimis and Selams. But what inflicts the real lasting damage on society as a whole is the silence and evasions of the state and the media and the broader culture.

Steyn goes on and then wraps it up with this:

What, in the end, are all these supposedly unconnected matters from Danish cartoons to the murder of a Dutch filmmaker to gender-segregated swimming sessions in French municipal pools about? Answer: sovereignty. Islam claims universal jurisdiction and always has. The only difference is that they’re now acting upon it. The signature act of the new age was the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran: Even hostile states generally respect the convention that diplomatic missions are the sovereign territory of their respective countries. Tehran then advanced to claiming jurisdiction over the citizens of sovereign states and killing them -- as it did to Salman Rushdie’s translators and publishers. Now in the cartoon jihad and other episodes, the restraints of Islamic law are being extended piecemeal to the advanced world, by intimidation and violence but also by the usual cooing promotion of a spurious multicultural “respect” by Bill Clinton, the United Church of Canada, European foreign ministers, etc.

The I’d-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-in-perfect-harmonee crowd have always spoken favorably of one-worldism. From the op-ed pages of Jutland newspapers to les banlieues of Paris, the Pan-Islamists are getting on with it.###

All contents © 2006 by Gene Mahoney