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Friday, January 10, 2003

Undergarments Required at Cherokee High!

Tony Adragna
Dahlia's at it again, Will. This time she writes of "[t]he ill-conceived school bans on cheesy Confederate T-shirts." She concludes
If American kids can be counted on for anything it's this: Tell them they can't do/wear/say something and they'll do/wear/say it 'til their heads blow off. This is why Dixie Outfitters sold a million T-shirts last year, and why virtually every kid disciplined for wearing a Confederate flag to school shows up the day after the suspension in either the same T-shirt or one with a bigger flag. Yes, it would be a more civil world if we could all just agree once and for all that the Confederate flag is either beautiful or vile. But until that day comes, it would be a useful and educational exercise to at least hear one another out on the subject. One might think a school would be a good laboratory for such efforts. One would hope there's no better place to try.
I decided to look a little deeper into the situation vis a vis "dress" at this high school, and I'm sure I don't like most of what I see in the school districts policy. For instance, Cherokee County School District Dress Code[begins on pg 12 of the pdf doc] includes the following
• Appropriate undergarments must be worn at all times.
As someone who has gone "commando" since I was able to dress myself — 'cept during boot camp — I've got to sympathize with these kids.

Besides, I'd like to know how it is that the school district enforces this requirement. How do they know if a student isn't wearing skivvies? Who's responsible for checking that the students are not only wearing undergarments, but that the undergarments are "appropriate". And, what's "appropriate"?

It's a silly rule!

The "NOT APPROVED FOR SCHOOL WEAR" heading definitely wouldn't meet with approbation from most high schoolers I know
•Pants that touch the ground or floor;
•Wide legged pants, skin-tight pants; form-fitting clothing;
•Holes or patches above the knee;
•Pants, dresses, skirts, and shirts that have frayed ends;
•See-through clothing;
•Sleeveless shirts, blouses, without appropriate (tight-fitting) armholes;*
•Deep-scooped necklines;
•Clothing that shows the bare midriff, bare back or the bare shoulders;
•Pajamas, bedroom shoes, or other sleep wear;
•Articles of clothing which advertise or display the symbols of drugs, tobacco products or alcoholic beverages;
•Clothing which displays or implies profane or obscene language or symbols;
•Emblems, insignias, badges, tattoos or other symbols where the effect thereof is to unreasonably attract the attention of other students or cause disruption or interference with the operation of the school;
•Hats, sunglasses and caps are not to be worn in the school building unless approved for special occasions. (All hats and caps shall be properly stored during the school day).
•Chains hanging from wallets or clothing;
•Exposure of undergarments of any type;
•Visible piercing type jewelry or paraphernalia (other than the ears) including tongue piercing is not allowed;
•Display or wearing of any gang articles, paraphernalia or clothing that can be construed as being gang related (e.g., bandanas, sweat bands, head rags, etc.);
•Jewelry that is offensive, distracts or is studded or pointed is unacceptable. Heavy chains are not allowed.

Where do I come down on the ban that Dahlia discusses? Well, I don't like it any more than I like much of the rest of the bans. I've the luxury, though, of not running a school full of knuckleheads...

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Didn't Lose My Marbles in the ROK...

Tony Adragna
How 'bout a little bi-partisan agreement on the question of U.S. troops on the DMZ
Some prominent political commentators argue that we should reduce our risks and pull all our forces out of South Korea. This would have the effect of telling the South Korean people that they're on their own, while at the same time hinting to the North Koreans that we are prepared to destroy them from a distance without sacrificing large pools of American blood.

Such a proposal has a superficial and chauvinistic appeal, to be sure. But to pull our troops out of South Korea would risk creating a leadership vacuum in the region and cause further destabilization. Domestic pressure would build quickly in Japan, for example, to remove many, if not all, of the U.S. forces stationed there.

If such a vacuum were to exist, several actions of questionable desirability would likely follow. China would certainly seek to fill the void. Japan would either have to contest China's growing military power, including building its own nuclear arsenal, or strike some power-sharing arrangement with the Chinese. The effect would be felt well beyond the region, with India potentially motivated to expand its capabilities in reaction to Chinese stratagems. The economic consequences that would follow from such instability (and potential military conflict), while not immediately calculable, would be significant.
That's former Republican senator and Clinton administration SecDef Wiiliam S. Cohen writing in today's WaPo. He goes on to agree that pressuring the regional powers — China, Japan, and the ROK — to get serious about the North Korean threat is the right thing to do, but
The United States, in turn, perhaps acting indirectly and discreetly, will inevitably need to address some of Pyongyang's concerns. Those who wish to pursue a harder line may see this approach as little more than a diplomatic Kabuki dance, choreographed to conceal what they would consider a policy of appeasement. But huffing and puffing is unlikely to blow down the house of Kim Jong Il or calm the high anxieties of those in the region.
I agree100%, and Mr. Bush is coming around.

How many of us have been to South Korea? I have, and so I feel a little bit like I need to knock the burr off some of the "they need to do more for themselves" rhetoric. We've heard lots 'bout the 37,000 U.S. troops on the DMZ, but not so much 'bout the 600,000 ROK troops there. That difference in troop strength is as it ought be, but I just thought it might need mentioning as it puts our committment of troops into some perspective.

I've also heard much 'bout how the South Korean populace isn't as supportive as they should be. That I know from experience to be true — the Korean War generation was very receptive and greatful to us sailors wherever we went, but they're going the same way as our WWII generation. The younger generation has had to live with the "costs to liberty" of living in a nation at war all of their lives, and it's taken a toll. Am I saying that this younger generation is correct in renouncing the U.S. and wanting to appease Kim? Certainly not, but neither is their weariness of the status quo ante beyond our grasp — just look at the debates we've had on civil liberties v. security.

I think the South Korean younguns are wanting the wrong solution and blaming the wrong people, but I do know whence comes their angst...

Update: The blaster thinks I've said something that I didn't say, and I respond to blaster that he has read me totally wrong
...Where did I make the case "we're wrong to want to pull out, but wrong to be there." I never did! I never said, or even implied, that the "angst" comes from U.S. presence in South Korea. What I said is, "The younger generation has had to live with the 'costs to liberty' of living in a nation at war all of their lives, and it's taken a toll." The "status quo" I'm talking about is "the state of war" that continues between the two countries. I explicitly point out that they're wrong to blame the U.S. for that condition -- they should be blaming Kim Jong Il.

Your reading of the point I was making is logically inconsistent with everything else I've written, so I've no clue how you read it that way.

Niether did I say, or even imply, that I "know[ ] way more than anyone else." I do, however, know something of conditions in the ROK, it's "something" that's widely known, yet few have made the observation. So, I did...
I'm waiting for a response...

Update II: blaster responds. On "batting at the straw man", blaster makes no sense. I was drawing a comparison between U.S. troop levels and ROK troop levels in order to put the level of committment into perspective. It's bit of data that's glossed over when blaster says "South Korea owes its very existence to a US presence they no longer want" without noting that lots of ROK troops gave their lives defending their country, and are still willing to notwithstanding what we hear of public sentiment. How about South Korea owing its existince to those guys, too.

I certainly never addressed "a critique that says South Korea should be doing more for themselves as if they were doing nothing...", so why is that there? Is blaster "batting at a straw man"[you decide]. The sentence concludes "or not enough, for themselves already", and he even takes exception with that. Why? I don't know — there is a "they need to do more for themselves" argument vis a vis the security of the region, and there's validity to that argument. Read what blaster wrote in another post
Seeking a change in the security arrangement is not just criticism. This is a real difference of opinion between the two countries - the question of whether South Korea should be defended against North Korea. The South Koreans have evidently decided the answer is no.
He asserts that South Korea isn't committed at all to its own defense: i.e. If they want our help, then "they need to do more for themselves".

On the "costs to liberty", he's correct — there has been relaxation since the end of martial law in '81. There may, or may not, be as many military checkpoints on the roadways as when I was last there in '87, but the country is still at war, and "security" still trumps "civil rights" — read what our own State Department notes on the ROK's "National Security Laws". Makes our USA-PATRIOT Act look like a grade school primer...

The real objection from blaster is on "appeasement", a point he made clear in the original post, and was just as clear without the unnecessary misapprehension of my comments on from "whence comes their angst..." We'll just have to disagree on this point because he insists that what myself & Cohen call for is "appeasement" even though both of us argue that our "concessions" must be linked to "abandonment of [North Korea's nuclear] ambitions", and this "will require a degree of international monitoring and verification far in excess of what has been in place to date."

Nancy Went and Done It!

Tony Adragna
I'm ecstatic, Will! I'm certainly no economist, so I'll not venture an offering on which plan is better. But, I like what Pelosi got the House Dems to put together.

Foremost, I like the Democratic plan because it's a plan! We've had enough carping on Mr. Bush's plan, and now we've finally seen an alternative. And, it's a plan that purports to have "consensus" support in the caucus — part of the problem last year was that Democratic alternatives tended to be piecemeal and in competition with other Democratic proposals. Finally, it signals that Democrats are capable of taking a unified position vesus simply being unified in opposition.

My tummy was telling me that Pelosi could do the job. Now, if we could just get Chris Dodd to replace Daschle[which isn't likely since Daschle decided not to run for Prez in '04]

What I do know 'bout both plans is that amending the Internal Revenue Code doesn't get you "stimulus" in the short-term — even if they could pass an amendment tomorrow, 'twould be months before the Treasury comes up with Regs to implement the change, and nobody's gonna do anything 'til they know exactly what The Rule is...

Where has Tony been lately? Dahlia recently wrote an article on "The bizarre world of 'second-parent' adoption laws" looking at the two lesbians who left Virginia in order to take advantage of Maryland's liberal stance on allowing gays to adopt. I decided to take the bait and see if I could draw people into a little "Fred Friendly Seminar" kind of discussion on the repercusions of being the child of a "two mommy" or "two daddy" family and whether any harm to the child there should count against deciding to adopt in this circumstance[n.b.: this is distinct from the question of single homosexuals adopting as single parents]

I presented myself thusly
Being gay and having given consideration to adopting, I've come up with a problem that keeps getting in the way of deciding to adopt: The harm done by taunting & ostracization of children of same sex parents. That shouldn't be an argument against same sex couples adopting — I wish I could just go for it and not worry about the impact of social pressures on someone I care for — but so long as the potential for this kind of harm persists, then I can't but keep arguing myself out of adopting
Now, I'm not arguing that the practice oughtn't be allowed. I'm only saying that there's a potential "harm" here that prospective parents ought give some consideration to, and be prepared for. In my case, the "decision" was I'm not ready for that burden.

Surprisingly, the overwhelming response was: But, Tony, yes you are, and your thoughtful consideration of the child's best interests proves you are!

Go figure!

Addendum: Sorry for the paucity of entries lately, but I just haven't been much inspired...

Sunday, January 05, 2003

I Really Need to Get Out More....
... I mean Really!

Tony Adragna
Will, I just cruised the ether over to Newschannel 8 and discovered that the top story is "Winter Storm Slicks Roads, Causes Hundreds of Accidents". Then I see under related stories "Snow Causes Numerous Accidents". Both stories are datelined "Washington".

I yell out to William, "Hey, did it snow today?" He walks across the sitting room, sticks his head inside my door, and gives me the look that says you're pathetic, Tony. Seeing the look, I'm like "What?" So, he grabs me by the hand, walks me downstairs, opens the front door, and gives me the other look — the one that says what do you think?...

I'm putting my boots on so's I can go play in the snow now — got 'bout three inches, which means I can collect enough from the front yard to build a snow woman...

Governor Ehrlich's Gamble

Tony Adragna
It's looking like Mr. Ehrlich is going to have more problem than I thought selling slots, Will, and I think that's good.

It's not that I oppose legalized gambling — I support it along with a few other vices that oughtn't be illegal. Neither am I looking for a partisan fight for its own sake, though I don't frown on partisanship. And I admit that the proposal has revenue generating potential — Ehrlich's annual revenue estimates are of $800 million, but that $1.5 billion worth is potential according to the Maryland Taxpayers Association, Inc. [though that MTA figure is just for the first year].

My concern is about what happens to that revenue once it's no longer needed to recover the shortfall. It then is not only a reason not to make hard choices on cutting spending, but becomes a tempting source of revenue for government growth. Or, it might tempt toward lowering taxes. In either case, when tough times come around again we're then back to making decisions that will be even harder to make than if made now.

An aside, but on the same topic of getting Mr. Ehrlich's slot proposal through the General Assembly, there's a bit of tragic irony here. The former Speaker Casper Taylor — who lost his seat — supported slots while the Republican challenger — LeRoy E. Meyers, Jr. — opposed the idea.

Speaking of "tough choices", Broder tells of how the GOP has decided against term limits, notwithstanding that the notion had been championed by Gingrich & Co. What's of particular interest is how the lack of experience makes it harder to sell legislators on the painful prescriptions. Gov. Engler tackled the question of term limits vis a vis lobbying
[...] he said, "it certainly did not add any political courage." Backers of term limits have argued that if members knew they would serve for only a few years, they would be more resistant to lobbying pressures. Engler said exactly the opposite has been true in Michigan, where legislators approaching the end of their tenure often are looking for ways to line up jobs with interest groups. An effort to create more charter schools in Detroit had just been foiled by a term-limited Republican looking for work with the teachers' union, he said.

By the way, "term limits" isn't the only "contract clause" that the GOP has found itself ultimately unable to perform on — remember the "Balanced Budget Amendment"?

Now I gotta go read Punditwatch — I'm afeard, Will, that my response will be the same Gov. Dean's

Eye-Rolling, A Quip, and an Exposé

Will Vehrs
The first Punditwatch of the year has been posted. Paul Krugman makes a rare appearance, a former Senator now gets the same respect as Sean Penn, and George Will's machinations are exposed. The more Democratic candidates, the merrier!

BTW, Tony, Senator John McCain, R-AZ, on Face the Nation, seemed to favor the option of letting Japan go nuclear. Vermont Governor Howard Dean, after the requisite statement of admiration for McCain, disagreed.