Musings: cowardly snipers, Selma, the Oregon Cultural Trust and failing schools

Lot’s of random thoughts lately.

Cowardly snipers

That great progressive American patriot, Michael Moore, made another of his well-informed, well-reasoned comments the other day on his Twitter account. Speaking out about Clint Eastwood’s movie, “American Sniper”, Moore said, “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse.”

Current and former American soldiers alive today because of the effectiveness of American snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan had no comment.

AmericanSniper1

Selma

The hyperventilating critics of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s portrayal in the movie, Selma, need to chill out.

Joseph Califano Jr., a top assistant to Johnson, said, for example, that the movie took “dramatic, trumped-up license” with the truth and “falsely portrays President Lyndon B. Johnson as being at odds with Martin Luther King Jr. and even using the FBI to discredit him, as only reluctantly behind the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and as opposed to the Selma march itself.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965

It’s a MOVIE, folks, not a documentary. And, by the way, where were all you historical accuracy nuts when the idolatrous TV and theater movies about John F. Kennedy omitted scenes of his sexual escapades and the hagiographies about his brother, Ted Kennedy, skipped over his responsibility for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne?

Oregon Cultural Trust

The billboard on Broadway urges donations to the Oregon Cultural Trust. “Donate/Match, get the whole match back,” the billboard says.

CulturalTrust-Billboard

The way the program works is you add up your donations for the year to one or more of the participating cultural nonprofits and then make a donation to the Cultural Trust in an equal amount. Your donation to the Cultural Trust will come back to you dollar for dollar at tax time when you claim your cultural tax credit.

In 2009, the Legislature stole $1.8 million from the Trust for Cultural Development account of the Oregon Cultural Trust to deal with state budget pressures. The Senate tried to defend itself by claiming it just took money from Oregon Cultural Trust license plates, not public donations.

Horsepucky! It was out-and-out theft.

So don’t trust ’em. If they were willing to break the public trust over a lousy $1.8 million, they’ll do it again. Don’t donate a dime to the Trust this year, or next. We both know the Legislature will raid it again someday.

Failing schools

In his Jan. 20 State of the Union address, President Obama said he wants the federal and state governments to cover 100 percent of the junior college tuition for students who meet minimal standards. Of course, the program wouldn’t really be free. Obama wants to raise taxes to pay for the fed’s share.

And the proposal ignores the fact that the biggest problem at community colleges isn’t the cost, but the dismal completion rate. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, at 2-year degree-granting institutions, only 31 percent of first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a certificate or associate’s degree in fall 2009 attained it within three years. This graduation rate was just 20 percent at public 2-year institutions.

Portland Community College graduation

Portland Community College graduation

Part-time junior college students don’t do well either. Even when given four years to complete certificates and degrees, no more than a quarter make it to graduation day, according to a Complete College America report to the nation’s governors. The rest wander aimlessly through too many class choices, get committed to jobs, relationships mortgages and more and end up with nothing finished and backbreaking debt.

Of course, it’s not just the junior colleges that fail. Too many students arrive ill-prepared by their K-12 educations to succeed at higher education and channeled into remedial courses that don’t work.

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