Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chanukah 5774 / Thanksgiving 2013

Per the Hebrew calendar, the day begins at sundown, so tonight is the first night of Chanukah this year.  And tomorrow during the day will be the first day of Chanukah, and also Thanksgiving Day.  We thus have one of those exceedingly rare instances when the two coincide.

Barack Hussein Obama is effectively attempting to eliminate the celebration of Thanksgiving by destroying America, and is effectively attempting to eliminate the celebration of Chanukah by eliminating the Jewish people.  Whether or not he succeeds on the first count remains to be seen (though I fervently hope not).

But he absolutely WILL NOT succeed on the second!  G-d has guaranteed it!  The Jewish people will NEVER be destroyed!  Am Yisrael Chai!!

Wishing all a Happy Thanksgiving, and a Happy Chanukah!

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Scotsman Crosses Ethnic and Gender Lines

The "No True Scotsman" fallacy goes something to the effect that one Alistair MacTavish reads a story in the Edinburgh Evening News about a violent crime wave in London, which the Metropolitan Police Service detectives believe has been perpetuated by a single individual.  "No true Scotsman would ever do that," thinks MacTavish to himself.  The next evening, the finding of the mutilated body of another victim is reported in the Evening News, and a horrified MacTavish again insists that the perpetuator cannot possibly be a Scotsman.  After another two weeks, with another victim almost daily, the suspect is apprehended by the Mets.  The suspect is identified as one Duncan Forbes MacPherson, a native of Glasgow.  "He is not really a true Scotsman," declares MacTavish.

Amongst the insular Jewish religious community, there were similar sentiments expressed about two years ago during the Leiby Kletzky affair.  Leiby Kletzky, you will recall, was an autistic boy who, having become disoriented, was abducted, murdered and mutilated.  The murderer was a member of the same community, but a local shopkeeper named Eva Rosenbluh told a New York Daily News reporter that "To me, he is not an Orthodox [Jew] because an Orthodox Jew wouldn't do that."

Well, Eva Rosenbluh is in the New York Daily News again.  Eva is now arguably a victim of violence, having  had her wrists slapped by U.S. District Judge Allyne Ross.  Seems that in 1994, Eva's father died, but Eva continued to collect the old man's Social Security payments for 18 years.

So, Eva, pray tell just where do we draw the line between what an Orthodox Jew would and would not do?

But my scrutiny and interest are directed not only at Eva, but at the Social Security Administration and at Judge Ross.  Shouldn't the SSA know when someone dies?  Especially if the person dies in a nursing home in New York City, where the death is sure to be reported?

Note that Eva got 3 years probation, no fine, and no jail time, but had to repay within 90 days the $218,194.52 she collected in her father's name after the old man died.  And the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Paulsen, observed that this constituted "essentially a 20-year, tax-free loan from the government."
And Judge Ross, you said, "I believe the punishment effected by the loss of her home, the restitution and personal pain is sufficient."  And you say that Eva is unlikely to reoffend, and that jail time would serve no purpose. 
Yes, Your Honor, I can sort of see some justice in the conditions you placed upon Eva's probation, including the repayment (without interest) of the $218,194.52 within 90 days, which supposedly will necessitate the sale of Eva's home and her eviction therefrom.  And I can even see sparing the taxpayers the cost of incarcerating Eva if indeed she is unlikely to commit any more crimes.  I suppose that what really galls me here is that Your Honor seems to have fallen for defense counsel Jacob Laufer's line that Eva is a "profoundly decent person" whose charitable deeds included helping out poor brides with their weddings.  A noble cause indeed, but how noble can it really be if done with stolen money?

Another religious Jewish woman behaving poorly.  Or not.  After all, aren't we supposed to buy into the notion that no true Orthodox Jew would ever do something like that?

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Politically Correct Documentation (or Lack Thereof)

            I am a 3rd generation American.  I believe that we need to have an intelligent, practical and properly enforced immigration policy.  I believe that those who wish to latch onto the American Dream need to follow the rules, just as my grandparents did.  And I believe that we need to send away, and keep away, those who have come here but who have not played by the rules.

            It is my policy to not make inquiry of my students regarding such personal matters as religion, ethnicity, gender preference, or immigration status, effectively a very effective "Don't Ask - Don't Tell policy.  Nevertheless, I do become cognizant of such particulars quite often.  This, of course, gives rise to an inherent conflict when it comes to having a student whose presence in these United States was not accomplished according to the rules.  The way I resolve that conflict is to embrace the fiction that the law enforcement personnel are doing their jobs, thereby allowing me to ignore the immigration status matters and conduct an unimpeded professor-student relationship.   My students need to be able to approach me freely if they are to truly learn the subjects I teach.  Unless a student whom I know to be here illegally commits some sort of violence or larceny or other infraction of the safety and security of real Americans, I do not get involved in the immigration issues.

            Yesterday, I was giving a presentation to a group of my fellow faculty members.  None of my students (nor anyone else's students) were present.  During the presentation, I had occasion to mention that the exemptions from the insurance requirements of this Barack Hussein ObamaCare naufragio include "jailbirds and illegal aliens." 

            Three in the room, myself included, espoused what is commonly called the right-wing sentiment.  The remaining two dozen or so were approximately equally divided between the leftists and the ├╝berleftists.  One of the more vocal (and more ├╝ber) of the ├╝berleftists took great umbrage at my use of the term "illegal alien."  She indignantly interrupted my presentation:  "They are NOT "illegal aliens!  They are undocumented immigrants!"

            I don't know how I was able to muster up the presence of mind for my immediate response:  "Janetta, if they were legal then there would be documentation!"

            Some of the leftists gave me a look of grudging approval.  Political leanings notwithstanding, Janetta had been grating on them, and they were happy to see her get a comeuppance.

            After the meeting, one of the more rational of the leftists, who works with preparing female prison inmates for release and  reintegration into society, came up to me and said, "I wish that you wouldn't refer to prison inmates as 'jailbirds.'"

            Seems that the Political Correctness Police are on patrol!

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Thursday, November 07, 2013

Effective in his Ineffectiveness

The term "teacher accountability" has long been uttered from various quarters, and the teachers usually see red when they hear the term because a disproportionate percentage of those who use the term have some sort of agenda which is hostile to the teachers.  A number of years ago, when I served on the board of a Jewish day school, there were many an anguishing moments involving the question of teacher accountability.

I am all for teacher accountability, but teacher accountability is meaningless unless there is administration accountability, school board accountability, student accountability and parent accountability.  If you are not pushing for accountability for all, then chances are that you have some sort of ulterior anti-teacher motive when you say the words "teacher accountability."

New York State has recently instituted a new system for evaluating teachers.  It is called the Annual Professional Performance Review.

The teachers unions are, of course, against it, and while I normally do not side with the teachers unions on too many matters, I really, really am most skeptical at the entire concept behind the APPR.  Teacher effectiveness is difficult to quantify.

If my teachers were effective in teaching me, they were effective because they were given nearly absolute backing from my parents (the few exceptions were for good cause, including an instance where a certain vice-principal made an illy-veiled anti-Semitic remark to my Mom, and then wondered why I continued to have a piss-poor attitude about school for the remainder of the school year).

The APPR system requires teachers to submit various data and documents to the evaluators, who will then use those documents to rate the teachers.

But Craig Charvat, a teacher at Center Moriches High School on Long Island who has 15 years of experience and a known track record and reputation, refused to submit any documents.  He did it as a protest against the APPR system.  Because he failed to submit the required materials, he was rated as Ineffective.  And he has stepped forward to identify himself to the public.

One problem with the educational system is that it now teaches students what to think instead of how to think.  I do not know what Craig Charvat's politics are.  What I do know is that the best way to teach is by example; actions speak louder than words.  Craig Charvat's actions are effectively teaching his students (whether enrolled in his classes or otherwise) that one need not let "the system" do the thinking for them.  Craig Charvat's actions are teaching his students that sometimes one must take risks by standing up for what one believes.  Craig Charvat's actions are teaching his students that the governmental authorities are not infallible, and need to be questioned from time to time.

Would that all teachers be as "ineffective" as Craig Charvat.

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Friday, November 01, 2013

Devaluing Our Citizenship:

As a 3rd Generation American, I do not (and am very ill-postured to) oppose immigration.  I encourage those who would wish to become a contributing member of America's diverse society to immigrate here and become citizens, just as all four of my grandparents did.

But citizenship should have privileges.  Like voting.

But now, some members of the New York City Council are trying -- with a real chance of success -- to devaluate the privileges of citizenship by allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections.

There are many, many obvious problems with this, not the least of which is the potential for voting fraud.  If the same voting machines are used at the same time for City Council and Gubernatorial and Congressional elections, how will they ensure that the aliens only vote for the local offices and not the state or national ones?

And will the suburban municipalities on Long Island, where I live, do a "Monkey See, Monkey Do" and pass similar ordinances?

I can go on and on, but it is past my bedtime, we have busy day tomorrow, and I need my sleep.  I'm sure, dear reader, that you can continue this rant in my absence.  Exodus of wealth from New York.  Corruption.  Disrespect for those, such as my grandparents 100 years ago, and some of my students now, who qualified for and earned their citizenship.  The problems, as I said, are quite obvious.

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