Category Archives: General

DEMOCRAT John Sullivan

I happened to have a discussion last week ago with a fellow citizen of Illinois about Senator John Sullivan. It seems that this person didn’t really like that Sullivan is a Democrat, but “he’s a really good guy.” My response was that it really doesn’t matter how good of a guy he is if he votes with the Chicago Democrat machine.

So, it’s interesting that today I find out at Quincy Journal that Sullivan is announcing his reelection campaign with a fundraiser in Chicago. Not Rushville, which is his hometown, but Chicago where his crony Democrats love to congregate.

I didn’t vote for Sullivan. But, when he won, I held out some hope that he wouldn’t be just another typical liberal. After all, he’s from a rural area in West-Central Illinois. He’s from a farming and small-business family. He’s Roman Catholic. It would be tough to be a downstate junior Democrat, I knew. If he didn’t play the game he wouldn’t be given any real power. If he did play the game, he’d go against the interests of his constituents.

So how has he done? Let’s check out his voting record:

Sullivan voted for HB 4154 which exempts state employee performance evaluations from FOIA requests. This seems reasonable, but when you consider the corruption in state government, it’s important to be able to keep an eye on this sort of thing.

He voted against SB 2505 – the 67% income tax increase. This was a smart move on his part.

He voted for HB 3659, the Amazon Tax. This is a small-business killer and a dumb vote.

He voted for SB 744 to expand state-sanctioned gambling in Illinois. Another bad idea. Gambling can be very destructive to people and communities. For the state to encourage it is stupid. It’s especially stupid when the same state pays the police to shut down back-room poker tournaments. It’s all about the gambling revenues – greed, greed, greed.

He voted for HB 1716, which puts a person on a list of “recurrent requesters” if they submit too many Freedom of Information Requests. This is an effort to squash the public oversight of government. Bad vote, John.

He voted against HB 2987 for Project Labor Agreements, which is a good vote for him. Unfortunately it passed anyway, to the glee of the Unions.

He voted Present for SB 1349, which would have reformed Worker Compensation to keep businesses from paying the full amount of compensation when the injury wasn’t 100% caused at work. This should have been a no-brainer.

He voted for HB 1698, which is also Work Comp reform. However, it does not address causation, so businesses still have to pay 100% of compensation regardless of how much of the injury happened on the job. This is keeping work comp insurance rates high and is keeping businesses out of Illinois. Another bad vote.

He voted for SB 7, Education Reform. Good vote. Wish the bill would have gone further, but it’s a start.

He voted for SB 2185, the Dream Act. This helps illegal aliens to pay for college. With unemployment as high as it is, why are we helping illegals to stay here? Bad idea, John.

He voted for SB 1178 to redistrict (actually gerrymander) Illinois. This is a blatant attempt to push solid conservatives into new districts that will cause them to fall to Democrats or at the very least have very tough races. At the same time, it protects Democrats who will be up for election in the next cycle and were facing tough contests. Sullivan showed his true colors on this one, as a liberal helping liberals keep their choke-hold on downstate Illinois.

So, even though Sullivan had a few moments of clarity, overall he voted liberal on most of the important pieces of legislature. Our “really good guy” might as well be from Chicago, since he votes like a Chicago Dem.




Jim Carrey – joke or no?

Comedian and actor Jim Carrey has been in the news lately, but not necessarily in a good way. Apparently he made a short video of himself declaring his love for actress Emma Stone.

People are all over him about it, saying he’s “creepy” or “wierd”. Others insist that this is all just a big joke foisted on the gullible public by Carrey and that he is some kind of comedy genious.

A couple things to think about here… If you know anything about Jim Carrey, you can probably guess that he craves attention. Combine that with the fact that he hasn’t had any big movies lately, and this video could have just been a stunt to get attention and hopefully make himself more attractive to producers. Also, if he really wanted to get Emma Stone’s attention, I’m sure he could have had some flowers sent to her or something.

I watched the video, and he DID seem sincere, although he IS an actor. Probably the only part that seemed a little over-the-top was the chin quiver right at the end. Carrey tends to be a very expressive comedian, and the whole thing was pretty subdued except for that part right at the end. Also, it just wasn’t all that funny. I expected something more extreme, really.

So, was it creepy? I don’t know, I’ve been around the Internet since before there was a “world wide web”. I’ve seen and heard a lot of really deeply disturbing stuff, and Carrey’s video doesn’t even make the list. Wierd, maybe, but creepy – no. If you want creepy, here’s a clip of Carrey doing Mr. Rogers at the video store.



School Zone Speed Limit Redux

I’ve written about this before, as school zone rules are kind of a pet peeve of mine. Every time I drive through one I check out the signs to see which set of rules happen to apply, hoping that I’m obeying. Usually I end up just slowing down regardless, just to be sure. It appears to upset the drivers behind me when I’m tooling through a school zone at 20mph on a Sunday morning, but they’ll get over it.

With school starting back up soon, there have been a few public service announcements on the local radio stations, reminding everyone to be careful around the schools. The message given was to (and I paraphrase) remember that we need to slow down to 20mph between the hours of 7am and 4pm, when children are present. Also, it might be a good idea to slow down even if we don’t see any children.

If you go by that reasoning, I can drive 30 past a school, as long as I don’t see any kids. But what if a kid is behind a tree? I suppose if they stepped out into my vision, I’d be breaking the law, but as long as they stay hidden I’d be okay? What about kids that stay late after school for various sports? At 4:01pm I don’t need to slow down, even if there are 20 kids walking down the sidewalk?

The signs say one thing on this street, something else on that one. “Official” public service announcements say something else. Who knows what the actual ordinance says? Again, it’s the vagueness of it all that’s the problem. Why can’t the law be clearly defined? Wishy-washy rules make it appear that the police don’t really mind people messing up and getting caught once in awhile.

Just make the school zones 20mph, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. People will know what is expected and there won’t be any confusion. After all, the real intent is to reduce the risk of accidents where there are high concentrations of children, right?

A list of movies you should see

I’m just so disgusted by the liberals and RINO’s during this debt-ceiling debate that I can barely stand to even talk about it. Fake “deadlines”, lies about not sending social security checks…. and no one calls them out on it. Even FoxNews was running headlines supporting the lies.

So, on the lighter side of things, I thought I’d post a list of some movies I recommend watching. Rumor has it that Netflix will have a Facebook tie-in, which would be very cool. I’d love to be able to easily share my recommendations with people on Facebook. These movies are a wide range of genre, and I’m not going to even attempt to review them. I don’t write very good reviews, and I don’t want to inadvertently reveal any spoilers. So, here you go. This isn’t a complete list and I’ll probably post again in the future with more.

  • Surrogates
  • The Chronicles of Riddick
  • The Machinist
  • Sling Blade
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Escanaba in da Moonlight
  • The Shining
  • The Sixth Sense
  • The Fifth Element
  • Memento
  • Super Troopers
  • Cashback
  • I Am Legend
  • Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins
  • The Mist
  • 12 Monkeys
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • Garden State
  • Animal House
  • Countryman
  • Spaceballs
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
  • TiMER
  • Cool Hand Luke
  • The House of Yes
  • Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story
  • Children of the Corn
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Office Space
That should keep everyone busy for now. These are all available via Netflix, some streaming and some not. Be warned, some are not appropriate for children.

10 Common-sense interviewing tips

I’ve been on the giving end of my share of job interviews, and although I find the entire process uncomfortable, I have a few suggestions and thoughts for the job applicants out there. Don’t take these too personally, I struggled the different times I was the applicant as well.

1) Learn everything you can about the company. Unless you are completely familiar with the location, drive to it a few days before. Drive around the neighborhood. Google for news articles. Review their website for their history, products, etc… You WILL be asked at some point in your interview what you know about the company, so make sure you have something to say. It shows that you are truly interested in the job and that you have initiative.

2) Be early, but not TOO early. I’d say 15 minutes is a good amount. If you show up too early you risk annoying the interviewers because they know you’re sitting in reception waiting on them. If you show up too late, you risk the chance of actually being late. You might think that your watch is keeping perfect time, but the office clocks could all be off a few minutes. You could get stuck in a construction zone or be detoured unexpectedly around an accident. None of those excuses will matter to the interviewers when they’re waiting for you to show up. Promptness is key and it can kill your chances.

3) Appearance is important. Dress appropriately. Admittedly this can be tricky. Ideally, you should be dressed better than the job would normally expect, since it shows that you take your interview seriously. At the same time, you don’t want to overdo it and look ridiculous or show up your interviewers. Your potential boss wearing a $400 suit from JcPenney might not appreciate sitting across from you in your Italian suit and Rolex. Obviously, be clean: clean-shaven, nails trimmed, teeth brushed, hair combed… Sounds crazy, but you’d be surprised.

4) Be confident. Again, easier said than done, but very important. You’re a salesman and you’re selling yourself. If you aren’t confident that you should get the job, the interviewer will sense it. A lack of confidence comes off as hesitancy, and it’s a rare interviewer that is looking for hesitancy in a job applicant. In my opinion, a big killer of confidence in people I have interviewed is overselling themselves by padding their resume. They know full well they embellished their skills and how they’re afraid you’ll notice. Many times they’ll even out themselves and start talking themselves down. Be honest on your resume and then be proud of it. Also, make eye contact. You can’t project confidence if you can’t bring yourself to look the interviewer in the eyes.

5) Don’t fidget. It’s tough, it’s a bad habit, but try to control it. Don’t pop your knuckles, tap your pencil, or anything else like it. It’s annoying and it makes you appear bored.

6) Ask questions. Make sure, absolutely sure, that you have some questions ready to ask. I’ve never been in an interview where it failed to end with the question to the applicant, “So, do you have any questions for us?” If you don’t, you appear disinterested in the process. Something as simple as, “Assuming that I am offered the position, what do you see as a start date?” would be fine. It conveys confidence that you will be hired and shows that you are eager to start. If that subject was already covered, have a few backup questions. You should have these ready to go based on the company research you did beforehand.

7) You’ll probably get asked some odd questions that seem completely irrelevant. Go with it. Answer honestly and don’t get too concerned about the right answers on these. We like to joke that we’re going to ask, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” It sounds crazy, but these kind of questions get tossed at you just to see how well you think on your feet and adapt. I got to see a question asked recently that seemed completely innocent, but the applicant just blanked. The interviewer wasn’t trying to trip them up, but since the question wasn’t related to the job the applicant couldn’t make the mind shift to come up with and answer.

8) Avoid talking about religion, sports and politics. These are three subjects that tend to be polarizing. If the interviewer brings these up, they may just be curious. Or, they may be baiting you to see if you’ll bite. If they ask you what you think about the Chicago Bears, just say you enjoy football but don’t really have a favorite team.

9) Don’t try to be funny. It can backfire and ruin the interview. I wasn’t witness to it, but I was told about an applicant who used a funny story in an interview and tried to pretend that it had happened to them. The problem was, it was the well-known story about the person who thought their cdrom tray was a cupholder. Instead of being funny it ended up predictable and just strange that they tried to claim the story was their own.

10) Don’t criticize your previous employers or fellow employees. If you’ll talk bad about them to me, what will you say about me when I’m not around? Take the high road. When asked why you left your previous job, don’t say it’s because your boss was a real *&$#. If you get backed into a corner, the answer is that you felt you weren’t able to contribute fully and that you wanted to find a position that would help you advance your skills and career.

These may not come easily to you (they sure didn’t to me), but the short answer is, “DEAL WITH IT!” You want a job, buckle down and make it happen.

Ah, the Humanity of Walmart.

There’s nothing like standing in the checkout line at Walmart behind someone with a mountain of stuff in their cart, only to realize that they are paying with a Link card. For those who don’t know, the Link card is Illinois food stamps.

These people always seem to be buying WAY more items than I am. They flash their Link card around like it’s a badge of honor. If I was unfortunate enough to have to rely on food stamps, I don’t think I’d want everyone around me to know about it. But, what to me would be embarrassing apparently isn’t to many, since they make no effort to hide it.

The other thing that I can’t help but notice is WHAT they buy. Their cart is never full of ingredients for cooking balanced meals. No, instead it’s usually loaded up with junk food and frozen dinners. They either have no idea they they can stretch their money further by shopping smartly, or they just don’t care, since it’s not their money they’re spending.

This weekend I got to watch two women fill up 2 carts to overflowing with food. The older woman tried to pay with a check, which was rejected. The younger whipped our her Link card and paid, presumably for only those items that qualify for Link. Then the older woman used her check again, which passed, probably due to the reduced amount. I couldn’t help but notice the case of Coors Light in their cart, and I couldn’t help but wonder… What would they say if I asked them why they were buying beer with other people’s money? Would they feel guilt? Or would they say, “I bought that beer with MY money, and the groceries with my Link card!” Would they understand that if they didn’t use THEIR money for beer, maybe they’d have had more of THEIR money to pay for food, and wouldn’t need to use their Link card?

But, I held my peace and said nothing. The checkout line in Walmart is hardly the right place to try to educate someone about the folly of entitlement programs.

Voter identification

Wisconsin has just signed into law a voter photo ID requirement, which means a government-issued photo ID must be used as proof of identity to vote in Wisconsin elections. As usual, this has raised accusations of “voter disenfranchisement”.

So is requiring a photo ID intimidation? Is it an unreasonable requirement? It depends on who you ask. Democrats insist that it is a violation of voting rights for a potential voter to have to procure an ID. In fact, the typical claim is that this mainly affects the poor, young, old and “people of color”. (By the way, the term “people of color” annoys me greatly. We are all different colors.) It’s an interesting coincidence that the groups that are supposedly most susceptible are also those groups that are historically big supporters of Democrat candidates.

What I’d like someone to explain to me is why a black person or old person would experience any different process to get an ID that I, as a middle-aged white male do? We all stand in the same line at the DMV, we all answer the same questions, and we all smile for the same camera. To claim that somehow they would be intimidated is silly unless you also believe that they are inherently less equipped to perform a simple task like getting an ID.

They also claim that this would affect the poor because of the cost of a photo ID. Here in Illinois a state ID is $20 for 5 years. Anyone who cares enough about this country to bother to vote can raise $20 in 5 years, and if they claim otherwise they are liars. Besides, if the concern is about the cost of getting an ID, why aren’t the Democrats clamoring for financial aid for ID’s? It seems like that would be an obvious fix. We already have subsidized public transportation to take people to the DMV, it would be simple to check their public aid card and give them a free ID.

Of course, what most of us understand is that it’s not about blocking voters from the polls, unless you’re talking about dead people or imaginary people. It’s about the Democrats knowing that they will suffer big losses if steps like this are taken to cut down on fraud. The fraud game is what’s been keeping them in power in many cases and they know what this could mean for them.

For what it’s worth, in the precinct where I vote there is NO requirement. I tell them my name and they mark it off a list. The book of names is wide-open on the table in front of me. If I wanted to, I could vote late in the day, memorize a few names that aren’t marked off yet, and hand the names out to my waiting friends outside. It’s just one way of cheating the system, and it would be so easy to eliminate with a simple photo ID check.

Series: Improving education part 2

Dealing with the lack of discipline and respect in schools

This is arguably the biggest and most difficult to solve problem that we have in our schools today. Face it, many kids are disrespectful, lazy, and lack any real ambition or drive. They expect life to be easy and for everything to be handed to them. This problem isn’t isolated to the school environment. It’s pervasive throughout our society. I attended high school from 1988 – 90. I look back now and feel ashamed at how we treated teachers then, but that pales in comparison to today.

So, how do we fix it? How do we bring back respect? How do we encourage kids to work hard and strive to achieve? There’s no one magic answer, but there are a few things that can be done to get things moving in the right direction.

1) Recognize excellence. We encourage, recognize and reward excellence in sports. Cheering crowds, trophies, rides through town after a big tournament on a fire engine… We place a lot of pressure on kids to do their best in sports and to win. Kids have been known to cry when they lose the big game. Do we treat academics in the same way? We all remember the basketball stars – who remembers the name of the valedictorian those years? In our local school gym there are signs and banners commemorating scoring records and wins, but nothing about any academic success. The drive for success in sports is something that needs to be brought back into education. Kids should WANT to do their best.

2) Command respect. Too many teachers are trying to be friends with their students. This was the case when I was in school and I’m still seeing it today with my kids’ teachers. The ones that have the biggest problem controlling their classrooms are the ones who want to be liked by the kids. They encourage kids to call them by their first name. They share their personal life with their students. Eventually the kids become familiar to the point where they feel they are peers with their teacher. When that happens they no longer respect the teacher as an authority figure and basically ignore any attempt by the teacher to keep things under control. Teachers should be Mr. or Mrs. X. Keep your private life private. Don’t forget, these are kids; consistency and clarity are key. Kids constantly test their boundaries and it is important to establish those boundaries. It’s not my job to be my kids’ friend, it’s my job to be their parent. Teachers, it’s not your job to be their friend, it’s your job to be their teacher.

3) Enforce discipline. “Back in the day”, there were paddles, switches, rulers across the hands… We all know that the squishy liberals took corporal punishment out of the schools a long time ago. It took awhile for kids to adjust. For example, I remember a paddle hanging in the front of the bus and another in the principal’s office. I never saw it used, but we always thought it could be. Kids today know it can’t be and won’t be used. They know they can’t be touched. What we can do is to put pressure on the parents to deal with the discipline problem before it gets to the school. Schools should be suspending and expelling students that are violent, disrepectful or disruptive. Send the kids home and refuse to let them back in the door until the parents agree to make them behave. If things don’t change, their parents need to find somewhere else to send them, like a school for problem children. They aren’t learning anything at school anyway, why have them bring down the other students around them?

As I said, these aren’t magic bullets that will immediately fix the respect and discipline problem. Things didn’t go bad overnight and they won’t be fixed overnight either. It’s a good start however, and if we don’t do something to turn things around, it’s just going to get worse.

Next installment: Teachers’ Unions

Some things just don’t make sense.

So, I found this big article all about how the Episcopal Church is in an uproar. Apparently there was a lesbian wedding between a seminary president and a high-ranking official within the Church, and it was presided over by an Episcopal bishop.  Needless to say, that ruffled some feathers.

None of that was much of a surprise, to tell the truth. The Episcopal Church isn’t known to be very conservative. It was just a matter of time until they started approving same-sex marraige.

What it did, however, was bring to my attention Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, dean and president of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. This woman is head of a school that supposedly teaches Christian values, but it turns out that she’s a big Pro-Abortion supporter.

How is that possible? How can someone who claims to believe in God be so callous as to support the killing of unborn babies? How can someone be so evil and still claim to lead a Christian school?

It’s one thing for someone who doesn’t know any better to think it’s okay to have an abortion. Many people don’t understand the full implications of their actions and make bad decisions. Ragsdale, on the other hand, should know full well what it means to abort a baby, and therefore she has no excuse.

The article ends by citing statistics showing that the Episcopal Church membership in the US is shrinking. Is it any wonder when they allow themselves to stray so far from His way?

And now for another article from the “obvious” folder…

H/T UsaToday:

Amazingly enough, studies are showing that college kids aren’t getting much out of college, unless you count drugs, booze and sex.

Of course, most of us didn’t need a study to tell us that. All we need to do is look around us at the current crop of graduates.

I’ve long been an advocate against the trend to push everyone towards attending a 4-year school. It’s become almost assumed that the goal for every kid is to go to college after high school and get a bachelor’s degree. If someone decides to go to a technical school, or God-forbid, not go to college at all, they’re an oddity.

The reality is, many people aren’t college material. It’s not that they aren’t capable, it’s that they don’t have the drive to make it through. These kids have been through 13 years of school already, and now they’re signing up for another 4. These next 4 are likely going to be the hardest yet, and now they’re on their own with no one to look over their shoulder and make sure they’re getting their homework done and making it to class on time. They’re tired of school, they have new-found freedom, and they’re surrounded by distractions and temptations. This isn’t a recipe for success.

The kids that do make it through, whether in 4 years, or 5, or even more, end up with huge school loan debts to pay off. In many cases, the degree they chose won’t bring them a very high-paying job, so it will take them forever to pay the debt. An example is a woman I used to work with that had an accounting degree. She had a little over $100K in school loans, and was working as a staff accountant making around $30K.

So what’s the answer? For starters, we need to stop staring at people who choose not to attend college at all. They aren’t freaks, they’re just people who enjoy working in areas that aren’t taught in school. There are many brilliant people in the world who knew what they wanted to do and did it.

For those who do what to go to college, we need to encourage them to really understand what they’re getting into. 4 years of college is a long time, and a lot of it is made up by subjects and classes that aren’t directly related to your major. It can get pretty frustrating to go off to college, thinking you’re going to be finally doing something interesting, only to find yourself sitting in humanities classes. Most of the interesting classes come in the 3rd and 4th years, if you can stick with it that long.

We should encourage technical schools. They are a good way to learn a valuable skill, especially in certain areas, such as HVAC and cosmetology. These are things that CAN be learned on the job, if the person can manage to get hired, but a technical school can cover all the bases and give someone the knowledge they need to go directly to work.

Lastly, there IS a reason to have 4-year schools. Some people genuinely enjoy learning a broad range of subjects. Mathematicians, doctors, philosophers – all take years and years of dedicated study.

In the long run, it makes sense to understand and encourage ALL of the options. It’s not helpful to have people wasting time and money on college if they’re not getting anything out of it. It’s in their best interest to find a solution that is more appropriate to their personality and goals. A change in attitudes could result in less overall student loan debt, fewer loan defaults due to inability to find a job good enough to cover the payments, and faster transitioning of new adults from being dependent on their parents into being self-sufficient.