Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ostrich feathers for your cap….

Given circulation trends, we’re pretty sure most of you don’t actually read The Ostrich.  For those few who do, we suspect you give it no more than 10-15 minutes of your busy day; you wonder what happened to objective and determined reporting, you grumble about their op-ed content, and then you toss it in the recycle heap like so much compost fodder. 

You try to forget about the waste of your time and money, and turn your attention to things that actually matter in your life.  You quickly forget about the few drops of water that landed on your head.

You’ve barely gotten your toes wet, we’re here to tell you.  We’ve been out of town recently, and a week or so ago, this correspondent sat down and consumed 5 days of Ostrich news and opinion offerings, on line, in a single sitting. If you’re generous, you could call it a ‘full immersion’ experience.

But Side is a realist, and instead, we’ll call it ‘full submersion.’  We were left gasping for breath after repeatedly having the oxygen of common sense and reality snatched from our airways.

The examples are too numerous to describe in full, so we’ll give you some of the lowlights.

‘Right to work’…or freeload?

Like the good little leftists they are, The Ostrich parroted the talking points given to them by union poobahs.

Imagine if our towns and cities operated under the same principle: Enjoy the benefits of public schools, police, fire protection, etc., but you don’t have to pay taxes if you don’t feel like it.

How ironic, given The Ostrich’s status as a tax delinquent; could they possibly be any more tone deaf?  They act the scold, as they often do, but somehow can’t face what they see in the mirror, if they would just look in it.

No matter, and no shame shown; Ostrich editors have ready claims that closed shop states fare better in the important things, even if they don’t cite their sources:

By every “quality of life” measure — health care, pensions, job creation, infant mortality — right-to-work states fare worse.

While we’re confident that short list doesn’t enumerate every quality of life measure, we’re also pretty sure right to work states have more flat tires, tougher pancakes, and more abrasive toilet-tissue.  And more sickly looking lawns, and rhodies that don’t bloom to their fullest potential. 

We wonder, however, how newspaper circulation trends look in right-to-work states.  And whether they have better lobster and small batch artisanal vodka.

We wonder as well what The Ostrich thinks about turnpike tolls, where only those who use it and benefit from it pay the tolls?  What does this say about the fairness of funding for government schools, libraries, and pay per bag trash collection? 

If K-12 should be paid for by everyone, whether they have students in the schools or not, why shouldn’t college and graduate school be?  Why shouldn’t all college be free?  And why shouldn’t all food, shelter, clothing, and transportation be free?

Oh, and there’s one other relevant point here.  It’s widely known that something like 80% of union dues is used by union officials to fund campaigns of those who pander to them.  In New Jersey, the teachers’ union collects $100 million in dues annually.  How much of that do you think is used to fund “collective bargaining” and other administrative activities of the union?

We’ll wait with bated breath for Ostrich editors to answer that, and to explain to us how much of our taxes are used to fund campaigns for those favored by the collectors of said taxes.  On the other hand, maybe the distinction has never occurred to them.

Fairness and social justice are wondrous concepts, aren’t they?  Especially when employed by the editors as they seek to form the attitudes of the little people who look to them for guidance.

We here at Side are hoping that The Ostrich will see the fairness and social justice in paying their taxes like the rest of us do.  On time, for a change.

Voter Fraud: “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”

There’s been more than one Ostrich pontification lately on the perceived injustice of requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls.  The gist of their argument against such policy is that there has been no voter fraud worthy of note, and therefore, no need to change things.

Such a claim is akin to asserting there is no speeding problem on Church Road or Pleasant Hill Road because the number of citations issued over the years is minimal.  Yeah, right.  Just like there is no problem of red lights and stop signs being run in Brunswick and elsewhere. 

Let’s be clear, to borrow a currently en vogue phrase.  Anyone who has worked at the polls (in any capacity,) or is familiar with the specifics of voter registration, knows full well that the entire election process, from A to Z, is fraught with more opportunities for fraud, abuse, and mischief than any other civic undertaking.  And that there are a variety of organizations, individuals, and political interests that are committed to keeping it that way.

To suggest otherwise is to deny reality and human nature.  We remember some years ago discovering that in one recent year, Maine had turnout in an election that exceeded 100% of registered voters.  We will be researching that data again to prove the point to you.

For now, we make this assertion: it’s a cakewalk for college students, like those at Bowdoin, to register to vote in  our town. This allows them to affect election outcomes for municipal and state officials and ballot questions, without establishing residency in our town, or complying with the obligations of residency.  These include acquiring a Maine drivers license and registering their vehicle within 30 days of establishing such residency.  And paying vehicle excise tax to our town.  You won’t find anyone who considers it their responsibility to enforce these rules of law.

We’ll also assert that nothing in the process prevents these students from double voting – here in Brunswick, and in their home towns, if only by absentee ballot. 

In so many words, the discipline associated with voting is roughly equivalent to the discipline associated with purchasing cigarettes and beer at local merchants.  And the lack of recorded prosecutions for such violations bears no witness at all to the scope of the problem.

“Something to ponder”

The Ostrich published this letter on the 14th of this month:

It seems that our government, in cutting the costs of schooling, has not seen the bumper sticker: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
Josephine Belknap, Brunswick

While Ms. Belknap might not be informed, how do the editors of said Ostrich explain being so totally clueless, and not challenging the author’s contention?  And how do they explain printing a submission whose premise is so certifiably false?

A very modest knowledge of Brunswick School budgets would show that per student spending has grown by roughly 50% in the last 5 years of so, as we’ve reported before.

So here’s a message for Josephine: if spending on education determines success, we should be producing an ever growing stream of budding Einsteins and Longfellows and Salks in recent years.  And if we were, it would be nice if they stayed here for their adult lives, rather than seeking viable futures elsewhere.

Oops; there we go again, chasing the pot of gold at the end of reality.  Please excuse us.  We’re only mortal, unlike professional journalists.

Never look a gift editorial in the mouth….

A recent Ostrich editorial contained this passage:

A good starting point is an extensive survey of Maine TANF families conducted by researchers at the University of New England and the University of Maine at Orono. Commissioned by Maine Equal Justice Partners and the Maine Women’s Lobby, here are some of its key findings….

We don’t know about you, but given that our watchdog editors can’t find the wherewithal to dig  1/4 inch deep into local facts and budgets, we’re not willing to accept that they actively research and validate ‘key findings’ at the state level.

We’re far more inclined to believe they are willing consumers of whatever canned propaganda issues forth from the leftist ideologues they revere, and that they proffer it to readers as well researched and validated opinion of their own construction.

But that’s just us; doubting Poppycocks.  Proceed at your own risk.

Another well thought out assertion

Here’s another recent passage of note in a letter to the editor:

But I am perplexed: Why are our modest retirement plans seen as the solution to economic and budgetary problems that we did not cause?

Apparently the editors sympathize with the claim of problems the writer ‘did not cause.’

We would expect then that they would pontificate on the current huge deficits in federal budgets, and point out how you and I did not cause them, and identify who and what did.

And while they’re at it, they could point out how the unbearable and unsustainable debt being kicked forward to our children, grandchildren, and the generations that follow them did not cause the problems they are being saddled with, unbeknownst to them.

They could, but that would take foresight, perspective, and objectivity on their part.  And a penchant for seeing beyond their unquestioning support for ever bigger and more profligate government programs and entitlements.

Dexter Doubles Down on Defense Demagoguery

Three weeks ago, we told you of our exchange with The Ostrich over a letter by Dexter Kamilewicz, and then the author himself.  We provided both with readily available data challenging the letter’s assertions.  The author could not substantiate his claims, but promised to get back to us with references that would.

Apparently, this slipped his mind, as we never heard back.

Another letter writer took issue with Dexter’s claims, and this was enough to spur him to respond.  Dexter wiggled and squirmed in a tortured attempt to explain his original claim, and never could get there.

We were struck especially by this inscrutable passage:

That $1.05 trillion total military spending is equal to 28 percent of the whole federal expenditure, but it does not take into consideration the full funding of Social Security/Medicare budget by those of us who pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, which paid off the Social Security/Medicare of $1.195 trillion in 2009.

We can’t grasp the point, unless its to say that Social Security/Medicare shouldn’t be considered part of federal spending because we pay taxes to fund them. 

Blanche, type up a Memo to Dexter: we pay taxes to fund every aspect of federal spending, and state spending, and municipal spending.  Selectively discarding inconvenient numbers to bolster an assertion is unworthy of one who would be congressman.

Or, now that we think about it, perhaps not.

Che Guevara, hero to Brunswick’s elite

We’ve always been perpexed by Brunswick’s official devotion to Cuba through it’s sister city program.  We love the idea of municipalities engaging in foreign policy while roads crumble and schools go unmaintained.

Now we’re wondering if space shouldn’t be dedicated on the town mall for a fitting memorial to Che Guevara, on a scale with that built to honor Joshua Chamberlain not that long ago.

On the 14th, one of the strutting peacocks in Brunswick’s aviary, Weld Henshaw, stated that he would ‘fairly call him a hero’ in The Ostrich.  This would be the same local icon who earlier told us that he knew who would be the best pick for ascension to the Supreme Court of our land, because he knew all the candidates.  Good for him.

Watch the paper to see where to send your donation for the statue.


In closing, we’ll leave you with this pearl heard recently:

“Buying a newspaper is like paying someone to lie to you.”

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