Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rep. Michelle Fay Slanders Her Constituents


In a June 25th article in the Caledonian Record, St. Johnsbury Representative, Democrat  Michelle Fay, was asked the reasons why there is a higher ratio of registered sex offenders in the Northeast Kingdom.  Other elected officials had indicated that the reason was likely as a result of the services provided to furloughed and paroled offenders in the area because of the location of the correctional facilities in St. Johnsbury and Newport--thus attracting such offenders to the area for treatment.  Rep. Fay would have none of that explanation.  In a remarkable slam against the people who voted her into office, she said that "violence against women and children is cultural" and the "NEK's [poverty and] isolation seem to nurture the  underlying beliefs and attitudes of these crimes." Ms. Fay's sentiments spoken to the Caledonian Record were not offhand remarks.  They are precisely the views she has espoused since she became CEO of Umbrella, Inc., a domestic violence prevention organization, more than ten years ago. Indeed she doubled down on those sentiments in an letter to the editor on July 3rd, exhorting us all to "get serious about making our communities safe".

There are two problems with St. Johnsbury's Representative's statements. First,  Rep. Fay's statement reflects her fixed belief that "violence against women and children" is an integral part of the culture of the district she represents.  This is symptomatic of those who, like Ms. Fay, earn their living from government grants or government employment.  Unlike the private sector, the people and organizations funded by taxpayers have an disincentive to eradicate or even reduce the problems they are paid to solve;  otherwise if they did, they would be out of a job.  Thirty years ago organizations helping abused women and children, like Umbrella, were volunteer groups with no public funding.  Fast forward to thirty years later, and Umbrella's budget alone (as of 2010--there is no more recent public information) for domestic violence is nearly $600,000, almost all of it in government funding.   If the problem of domestic violence were reduced or eradicated, that $600,000 would be decreased or disappear.  Hence Ms. Fay and the thousands of others who work in the domestic violence field have no impetus to report any progress in the reduction in  domestic violence. Not surprisingly, they have claimed no progress. Nationwide domestic violence statistics show that for the year 2012, $4 billion—paid mostly by taxpayers-- was spent on prevention. Yet Department of Justice statistics also show that in 1994-1995, "about 25 percent of women and 7.6 percent of men are raped or physically assaulted by their spouse, partner, or dating partner in their lifetime." In 2012 a New York Times article on domestic violence reported exactly the same statistics. Nothing has apparently changed in nearly 20 years. Moreover, in 2008 Human Rights Watch claimed that the rates of domestic violence in the United States were "soaring".  Despite the multiple billions spent over the last 30 years to reduce domestic violence, the problem has, to those in the field, remained intractable, and even increased.  If a private company had that track record, it would have been out of business long ago.

However, not surprisingly, Ms. Fay does not blame herself or her organization for these dismal statistics. She blames the community. According to her, we all need to get serious about domestic violence.

The second problem is related, and even more troubling.  Notice who Rep. Fay considers victims:  Women and children.   Men are not victims; ergo, they are the violent predators in Rep. Fay's worldview.   In this chilling perception of her constituency  where men are the perpetrators of violence and women are ignorant victims, Rep. Fay deprecates  the male half of those whom she represents and belittles the female half.

Fixed beliefs are often false, and Ms. Fay's beliefs about her NEK constituents are no exception.   I have been working with families in crisis in the NEK for almost 35 years--far longer than Rep. Fay-- and the Vermonters I have met and worked with over the last three and one half decades are far different than Rep. Fay's sour and patronizing portrait of her constituents.  Here is what I have observed of the families I have had the privilege to meet and represent:  Men and women who moved here not for its "isolation" , but to raise their children in a quiet, small town environment close to nature--and many more men and women who grew up here and stayed because they love our beautiful state and the family and community values they want to impart to their children.   Vermonters live here because it is a place to raise a family.

 Families who live here are not victims or violent predators, as Ms. Fay believes, but, in my experience, overwhelmingly extraordinary people.    Men and women who struggle with a family member’s mental illness, physical disease, emotional distress, or death of their loved ones with grace and courage.   Men who raise children alone, and men who work with their children's  mothers with  decency and honor.   Women who have been left with responsibilities at a too young an age with no one to help, who have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and gone on to successful careers.   Countless men and women who have overcome  seemingly insurmountable obstacles.   People who have quietly performed innumerable acts of extraordinary kindness and charity towards family, friends and strangers.   Men and women who work hard to support their families and make sure their children live a better life than they have experienced. Enterprising men and women who contribute countless benefits to their families, employees and communities. Grace, decency, courage, kindness and an independent spirit permeate the culture of the Northeast Kingdom.

Ms.  Fay's beliefs reflect today’s orthodox liberal ideology.    Liberals view Americans as immature victims needing a nanny state to regulate how they live, raise and educate their children, take care of their health, protect their families, and plan for their retirement.  Ms. Fay's blindness about the kindness, strength, courage, independence and resourcefulness of her constituents is no coincidence.  If she and her liberal allies truly recognized Vermonters’ strengths, they would be providing opportunities for them to prosper, not burdening them with countless regulations, mandates, requirements and obligations.

Rep. Fay should get serious about helping her constituents realize their hopes and dreams for themselves and their families instead of lecturing us on our alleged defects.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Words Matter

During inaugural week, Lyndon State College’s new President, Dr.  Joe Bertolino, presented a lively sketch he and his partner have performed all over the country entitled “When Gays Move into Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”.  Dr. Bertolino did a one man version of the presentation at the college on April 15th as a part of the week long celebration of his inauguration. The presentation was billed as a “funny, interactive, and challenging program to get today’s college students thinking about important ‘community issues’ such as diversity appreciation, homophobia, and heterosexism.”

The presentation was spirited and enlightening.  Dr. Bertolino’s theme was that we need be inclusive and tolerant of people who are different from ourselves—to get to know people for who they are so that myths and stereotypes can be dispelled.   That is a superb goal, and Dr. Bertolino should be commended for having the courage to bring the issue of intolerance before the community in such a public way.  By dong this, he is fulfilling the highest calling of an educator.

Tolerance and respect for people of different backgrounds and perspectives are lessons our children ought to be learning all their lives, and particularly when they enter the world of post secondary education.  Academia is where our children should be exposed to different ideas and viewpoints, because that exposure fosters critical thinking skills so important to a meaningful and productive life.

President Bertolino has just hired Dr. Kellie Bean as LSC’s new provost.  A provost is the senior academic administrator of an institution of higher learning.  It is the second most powerful position in the college.
Here are some excerpts from Dr. Bean’s writings which reveal how she feels about diversity appreciation:

On military veterans and military contractors:    “Wives and girlfriends face the implicit (and sometimes very real) violence imported home by their veteran loved ones and our government panders to the rapist, old boys club culture of military contractors.”

On our military heroes who liberated Iraq:  “What to say to women facing the misogynist fallout of the violence of war? ‘Step away from the fight, protect yourself’ may work as a temporary tactic, but cannot suffice in the face of institutional misogyny and systemic indifference.  …And as long as this is the case, the boys of Iraq and Washington will continue to be boys--and the women around them will continue to pay the price.”

On President Bush (and the tens of millions who voted for him)   “Americans live under an illegitimate leader, who was and is demonstrably unfit for office. A man whose most noteworthy accomplishments previous to his appointment [sic.] as President had been avoiding military service, drug addiction, not making a killing in oil on his own, and signing record numbers of death warrants as governor of Texas. Ours is a President with an appetite for torture…”  Dr. Bean’s venom is so poisonous that she defames our President with no regard for the truth.  President Bush was a military veteran, was never a drug addict, and never signed one death warrant. (The Texas constitution does not allow a governor to sign a death warrant.)

On Sarah Palin (and the tens of millions who voted for her):  “She is a walking stereotype, an abomination: all dressed up and hollowed out, a pin-up, or blow-up doll … upon which men and women alike project their ugliest fantasies of women.  Sarah Palin is …confused, mean-spirited, and kinda [sic.] dumb.  Palin endorses a movement proud to call for a return to Jim Crow laws, that places spunk above political experience, and sees truck ownership as a necessary qualification to hold public office.”  The Jim Crow reference in Dr. Bean’s statement is rich in irony:  no modern movement advocates a return to Jim Crow laws, and Jim Crow laws were in place for 100 years because elected Democrats enacted and enforced them.  The Republican Party, of which Sarah Palin is a member, vigorously opposed those laws.

On Fox News (and the millions who watch):  “Consider: pornography is visual entertainment which appeals to the visceral needs or drives of its audience; it offers a pleasure in looking, in watching the domination or degradation of one category of individual by another. see: Fox News”

On the tens of millions who voted for Republicans:  “My impulse is to say they get what they deserve, have gotten the obscene war, the rotting economy, the repressive culture they deserve.”

In her many writings, Dr. Bean frequently uses the word “misogynist”  to describe our country, our voters, our culture and the academic world she has been in for over a quarter century.   Her views are not confined to her writings.  It is surely no coincidence that one of her students who rated her on the “Rate My Professor” website recommended her class to others “unless you are super conservative misogynist”.   The definition of misogynist is a person who hates or mistreats women. 

Dr. Bean’s tweets and Facebook postings about those with whom she disagrees are too vulgar to be printed in a newspaper.

This is what passes for diversity appreciation and tolerance in institutions of higher learning.  The new provost believes that our community is inhabited by people who hate or mistreat women, that those of us who vote Republican, are politically conservative, or who admire Sarah Palin and President Bush are evil, stupid and racist, that those of us who listen to Fox News have a thing for pornography, and that the military veterans of our community are violent and dangerous. 

Dr. Bertolino emphasized in his April 15th presentation that “words matter” and “words hurt”.   Yet Lyndon State College’s new provost has published many words that are defamatory and wounding —and certainly not inclusive or accepting of those who disagree with her.    Dr. Bean’s belief that people who have viewpoints different from hers are dangerous, violent, evil, racist, dumb and even criminal demonstrates a lack of tolerance and a fear of diversity.

In his presentation, Dr. Bertolino said: “Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect,” and he urged the audience to “create an atmosphere of acceptance.” Dr. Bertolino is right.  Yet Dr. Bertolino’s new provost treats with disdain, disrespect and intolerance those with whom she disagrees.

Dr. Bertolino ended his April 15th presentation with a poem about Rosa Parks.  The poem states that Ms. Parks said one word that changed the nation.  That word was “no.” 

It is time to say “No” to academic leaders who disrespect and defame people of divergent views.  Dr. Bean’s narrow minded and illiberal view of millions of Americans and their viewpoints does a profound disservice to the young people who are coming to college to widen their intellectual horizons.   

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hot and Cool



Depending on which generation you are from, the Republican Party is the hottest or the coolest political party on the planet. The primordial magisterial classes, supported by establishment churches, media and universities, would have you believe otherwise. But they, like their counterparts in societies throughout history from the Roman Republic to pre-revolutionary France, to the Soviet Union, want to keep their power and prerogatives, so they project their own moldering ideas and reactionary qualities on Republicans.  But the empirical facts support how hot and cool the Republican Party is:

  • Republicans believe that people can run their own affairs without the ancien regime telling them what to do.  Republicans support parental choice for education, retirement choice for Social Security, individual choice for family health care.  Think about it:  no other major political movement in world history has at its core tenet the belief that individuals can run their own lives.  All other political movements proclaim they are the saviors of the benighted masses.
  • Because Republicans believe that people are intelligent enough to run their own affairs, we believe in small government.  This idea is truly revolutionary and very hot—or cool.  Dispersing power to the people, rather than amassing power to one’s own political party is so radical that no other major political movement has embraced the idea.    
  • Republicans believe, like Martin Luther King, that individuals must be judged on the content of their character, not the color of their skin or their station in life.  Republicans appreciate individuals, whereby the antediluvians in the American Establishment judge people by their skin color, ethnic background, gender, or sexual orientation.  Judging individuals by the color of their skin, their gender or ethnic heritage is so nineteenth century.  
  • Republicans believe in freedom.  Other political movements may talk about freedom, but Republicans actually believe in individual freedom.  We believe that our First Amendment rights should be vigorously defended. People should be able to practice their religion without being sued by the government for discrimination, or punished by the government for failing to follow government regulations that violate an individual’s religious beliefs. We believe in free speech, and oppose university speech codes, government regulation or subsidy of broadcast media, or jailing dissidents who dare question the prophet Mohammed.  We also believe that the freedom given to us by the Second Amendment should also be vigorously defended against government infringement.  
  • Republicans believe that people, not government, can solve the problems of our day.  The magisterial classes continually find “outrage” and “catastrophe” occurring, for which amassing government power and imposing government regulations are the only solutions. The result is a 21st century Puritanism, far more rigorous than the 17th century version, where nearly every aspect of our personal lives is regulated by the government in the name of safety, environmental protection, or fairness.
  • Republicans believe in private enterprise, not government subsidized and controlled industries. This is truly revolutionary.  Governments have favored certain businesses through subsidies, tax preferences, regulations and outright ownership since governments began, from the dynasties of Egypt and the patronage system of ancient Rome through the medieval guild system to modern day Nazism and communism.  This ancient idea that governments favor certain businesses is supported by the aristocrats in Washington and opposed by  Republicans. 


  • Republicans believe that civil discourse and civilized debate, and not name calling, should be the norm, not the exception in the 21st Century.  The establishment would have you believe that it favors civil discourse.  The opposite is true.  Vicious attacks, cheap shots, and ridicule on those men and women who dare question the aristocrats in Washington are de rigeur for the establishment.  Republicans and conservatives are called greedy, stupid, racist, liars, crazy and unpatriotic.  Our own Sen. Sanders, for example, has used these terms repeatedly when speaking about Republicans and conservatives in his speeches, his memoirs, and on his website.   


  • Finally, survey after survey over the decades has come to the same conclusion: Republicans or political “conservatives” (the establishment’s name for people who love freedom) are happier, more generous and even have a larger circle of friends than “liberals”.   


So, if you are into revolutionary politics, or just want to be hotter, cooler, or happier, the Republican party is the place for you.