There is one candidate in the race for mayor in the City of Kingston who has risen above the petty name calling and personal criticism that has taken place. With determination and grit this person has managed to defy both political establishments in Kingston. This candidate is where he is because of his own effort and resolve. He owes nothing to any special interest group or political machine, and his only allegiance is to the taxpayer. I refer of course to Ron Polacco, Republican candidate for mayor. Ron has displayed no small amount of political savvy, and is by far the most fair and open minded candidate in the field. The city’s next chief executive will have to confront a host of tough issues. The character traits that Ron possesses will be of great value in bringing together Kingston’s many diverse communities. Unlike many, I am cautiously optimistic about Kingston’s future and believe the City can again get the wind in it’s sails. In order for that to happen, Kingston must go in a new direction and I believe Ron Polacco is the best candidate to chart that course.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
The great Yogi Berra once wryly observed “When you come to a fork in the road take it.” That thought comes to mind as we approach perhaps the most important election in a generation. It is a rare American that does not admit to at least some foreboding about the nations future. The past two plus years have been a whir of government intervention and expansion involving mind boggling amounts of money. There remains however, a great unease at the governments continuing record levels of spending and debt. There is an intuitive understanding that it simply cannot last. The question many people have is what is there to show for this immense debt? In the midst of the worst economic recovery of the post WW ll era the Democrats have given us the kafkaesque “recovery summer” tour of Joe Biden.
Elected under the banner of hope and change and admittedly trying circumstances, the president and his party had an unique opportunity to move the country forward. What did they do? Instead of playing the role of a surgeon on the battlefield performing triage on the nations wounded economy, the Democrats had other ideas. Giddy at holding all the levers of power in the American government, the Democrats decided to take the nation on an idealogical, power mad bender. In a fit of historic political tone deafness, they rammed through congress, bills, thousands of pages long, they didn’t even read, and whose effects have been to paralyze the nation.
- A stimulus bill, that was great if you worked for a public union or a liberal special interest group, but a dud for everybody else. And in an even bigger joke on all of us, the administration now tells us the recession ended in June of ’09. That’s before a nickel of stimulus was even spent. So much for the claim that the stimulus averted a depression.
- The healthcare law - where does one begin? This epic clusterfark is the biggest government power grab ever enacted. Already it is having the opposite effect of all it’s stated claims as insurance premiums are going up. Forget about it’s additional sixteen thousand new IRS agents, the most insidious aspect of this bill is the threat it poses to our nations preeminent position in medical research and innovation.
- Financial regulation anyone? The government did such a bang up job with fannie and freddie that we need more of it.
- In childlike, almost romper room fashion they employed a “reset” button to our nations foreign policy. From sucking up to our enemies, to running down our friends, they seem to do the opposite of what every situation calls for.
The president didn’t achieve this all on his own. He had the help of congress and one member in particular. This members views are in total accord and sympathy with the president, so much so that their names are interchangeable. I refer of course to our erstwhile assemblyman now congressman Maurice Hinchey. What we have witnessed these past two years is the distilled essence of modern liberalism coming into contact with reality. It is not a pretty sight and it’s little wonder that the nation is in a funk. There was a time when Mr. Hinchey had his finger on the pulse of his constituency. Now, if you go to his government website, you can read his rants against the Bush administration! This is not just out of touch but dangerously so. The nation is in peril and the same old same old is not good enough. We need a change in thinking and leadership and that’s why I’m casting my vote for George Phillips for congress.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Dear Fellow Conservatives:
Ronald Reagan once said, “One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!” This quote comes to mind because I believe it aptly describes the instinctual reaction of millions of Americans to the actions of their government over the past year. Americans sense danger in the out of control spending of the stimulus bill; the massive power grab and intrusion into our health care; and the naive, incoherent conduct of our foreign policy. And rightly so.
Whether we are deciding who sits on the local Board of Education, or who we elect to this nations highest office, elections do matter. I am writing this letter to you because I feel that the next election cycles in 2010 and 2012 are the most important in more than a generation. They will literally determine whether America enters into a state of permanent decline or whether we right our course and return to the values and principles that made this nation great. What follows is an action plan that we, as grass roots Conservatives, need to do.
The Saugerties School Board election and budget vote will be held on May 18, 2010. School taxes are, for most of us, one of the largest bills we have to pay. I have long argued that the entire public education structure is broken and in need of reform. This need for reform has become even more apparent as we face a 21.1% increase in our Saugerties school taxes. This effrontery comes from an education establishment that views the taxpayer as a bottomless source of revenue. I take a backseat to no one in caring about providing our children with a quality education. But I am just as concerned with people being taxed out of their homes. For this reason it is important that we have people on the Saugerties school board that reflect the taxpayers perspective. Re-electing two dedicated and hard working Conservatives, George Heidcamp and Jim Steinhilber will be a step in the right direction. They voted against the massive budget increase. These gentleman will provide seasoned judgment and the taxpayers perspective. This will be necessary when the new board begins negotiating teachers contracts. The teachers union, powerful as it is, does not need even more influence on the school board. I urge you to tell your friends and neighbors to re-elect George Heidcamp and Jim Steinhilber. These candidates meet the criteria that will best help the community, the student and the beleaguered taxpayer.
In the larger picture we are reminded how actions of our federal government impact us locally. There is no doubt that President Obama came into office under demanding circumstances. By promising a new era of hope, change, transparency and post partisanship, he engendered the good will of a vast majority of Americans. Over the past fifteen months both he and the Democrat Party have squandered that good will. In a short time they have added over two trillion dollars to the deficit in a frenzied spending spree. In an act of historic political tone deafness and against the will of the American people, they rammed through a hyper partisan health care law. This law allows the government to take over nearly 20% of the economy. This new massive entitlement comes at a time when we can not afford existing entitlements. The bad news is there is no way the economy can grow fast enough to pay for any of it. Within two years our total debt will be over 100% of GDP. Servicing that debt will consume over 10% of the federal budget. This is unsustainable.
Instead of concentrating on the most critical need, that of getting the economy back on track, both the present administration and the congress have followed a socialist script to create a European welfare state right here in America. In what can only be a calculated strategy on their part, this script is, if allowed to proceed, a blueprint for disaster. So wedded to this script are the Democrats that they are willing to label vast swaths of the American public as racists and worse. I refer of course to the Tea Party movement. I consider the Tea Party movement to be the most wholesome development in politics in my lifetime. The fact that millions of Americans are concerned over out of control government spending, questioning the legitimate role of government in our lives, and studying our founding documents is a good thing.
The upcoming November 4th, 2010 election represents an opportunity for American citizens to change the present course of America for the better. The logical step is voting Democrat Congressman Maurice Hinchey out of office. Protected as Hinchey is by his praetorian guard of local media, his leftism has been allowed to run unchecked and unquestioned. Congressman Hinchey is also using his power to feather his own nest and to avoid rules he gladly applies to others. For true hope and change, it is time to vote Maurice Hinchey out of office. I urge everyone to vote for George Phillips, the Republican candidate in the upcoming November 2010 Congressional Election.
When this nation was facing similar economic and social crisis, Ronald Reagan, in his inaugural address, said “The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we’ve had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.” Let no one tell you that elections do not matter!
Monday, March 8, 2010
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
“I happen to agree with damn near every semi-colon and comma that Mr. Gatto has written. Thank you, thank you, thank you, John Taylor Gatto: perhaps American’s most brilliant educator.” - Tom Peters, management guru and author of In Search of Excellence.
"I've loved John Gatto's work ever since I first encountered his astounding essays in The Sun. This analysis of schooling is
presented with daring, panache, and a humorous passion that leaps off the page. I give this book [Underground History of American Education] a standing ovation! Bravo! " - Christine Northrup, author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom
“Gatto’s voice is strong and unique... a Socrates of the educational world.” -Thomas Moore, author, Care of the Soul
“How does he probe so deeply the complex issues surrounding our schools when so many experts can hardly penetrate the surface at all? Here a master lecturer works his magic to cast the issues surrounding our schools in a new light. An examination of the assumptions behind compulsory schooling is the goal of this book [Underground History of American Education] . Haunting. A minor classic.” - Eric Schultes, The Whitehead Institute, M.I.T.
“Gatto is a singular antidote to stale convention.” - David Guterson, author, Snow Falling on Cedars
“A remarkable achievement. I can’t remember ever reading such a profound analysis of modern education.” - Howard Zinn, on Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education
“Gatto’s ideas are splendid. I just hope someone is listening.” - Christopher Lasch, author of Culture of Narcissism and The Revolt of the Elites
“Every word Gatto writes comes from the depth of his caring about the lives of children.” - SKOLE: The Journal of Alternative Education
“Anyone interested in the fate of our schools should make this book [Underground History of American Education] a priority.” - Dan Greenberg, Co-founder, the Sudbury Valley School
“In this fine work [Underground History of American Education], John Taylor Gatto traces the historic sources of educational corruption and pleads for a new deal for children, one grounded in the family and an intelligible order of the good.” - John E. Coons, Professor, University of California Law School at Berkeley, author, Making School Choice Work
“In his lectures and his writing Gatto not only adeptly denounces public schools, but also makes radical suggestions for improving them. These suggestions are grounded not in hypothetical clouds, but rather on his own innovative sturdy, apprenticeships, and solitude.” - Grace Llewellyn, author of The Teenage Liberation Handbook
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Are you interested in innovative ideas? Do you seek creative and fresh thought that might cause you to consider the world around you a bit differently? Are you tired of being fed filtered news and information? Do you care about your country and its future? If you answered yes to any of these questions, than you are not alone.
Fortunately for you a new lecture series has been organized which will serve as a forum to hear engaging speakers talk about topics of general interest in addition to important public policy issues. The lecture series, known as Hudson River Lyceum (HRL), has been created for everyone who feels that education doesn’t end with formal schooling but rather is a life long endeavor. It is designed to encourage you, your friends, neighbors and fellow citizens to gather in a public setting to hear a real live speaker. This simple act of community seems to be disappearing from the scene as a plethora of various media vies for our attention.
You may be excused if the word lyceum conjures up an image of a movie theater, (it does have an association with entertainment) but it is actually a very old word whose roots go back to ancient Greece. Originally it was a place of learning famous for it’s association with Aristotle and it’s importance in the development of western science and philosophy. In this country, lyceums have a rich history and are regarded as one of the earliest instruments for the diffusion of general education to arise. The lyceum was a purely small town institution which was designed to provide opportunities to people of all ages to study history, art, science and hear lectures on public issues.
The first lyceum was established by Josiah Holbrook in 1826. Within a few short years the idea spread over most of New England and the northeast, extending to the midwest and some southern states. New York became a leader in the lyceum movement, the first one being formed in Troy and establishing the first state lyceum in the country in 1831. Along with other voluntary organizations such as “mechanics institutes” lyceums helped in the founding of both public and private libraries. At it’s peak there were over three thousand lyceums in the United States.
The lyceum became nineteenth century America’s version of a inexpensive night out. For a very modest price a family could get a subscription to a lyceum which entitled them to courses, lectures and entertainment. Part of it’s original mission was the application of the latest scientific advances to the problems ordinary people confronted. Practical courses were offered to farmers on subjects like soil depletion, and there were offerings for tradesman and merchants. A popular form of entertainment for a family was to diagram sentences, if you can believe it! Some of the most notable personalities of the time from poets and philosophers, writers, orators and lecturers, and entertainers traveled what was known as the “lyceum circuit.” Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Daniel Webster, Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Jenny Lind and even Abraham Lincoln spoke at lyceums.
Closer to home there were lyceums in Kingston, known as the Rondout Lyceum and also at Saugerties. In 1855 the Saugerties Lyceum held a lecture given by Horace Greeley, one of the more in demand personalities on the “lyceum circuit.” At the time, Greeley was the most influential newspaper editor in the country. Often remembered today for his advice to his readers to “go west young man, go west,” Greeley was actually much more. A rather eccentric fellow, which was noted at length in the newspaper account of his lecture, Greeley none the less impressed his audience. A strong advocate for reform he championed the cause of women’s rights, temperance, and anti-slavery.
The lyceum movement was a quintessentially American phenomenon. A shining example of a free citizenry filling a need by forming voluntary associations. It is hoped that this new lecture series will initiate a dialog on public issues that will match the vibrancy of the original lyceums in their heyday. The inaugural lecture, which will be free and open to the public will take place in the very near future with a very special guest. Further details as to the time and venue to be announced shortly so stay tuned!