Monthly Archives: September 2010

Let’s review

I just read an article that appeared a year ago in the Centennial Review, a publication of Colorado Christian University. Written by CCU President and former Sen. Bill Armstrong, it’s one of the best articles I’ve seen on the economic downturn, so I commend it to anyone who wants to understand what has happened, in basic terms, or to be able to communicate that to others.

With the mid-terms rapidly approaching, the economy continues to be the number one issue for this election. We need leaders who can communicate boldy, intelligently, and effectively about theses issues – and each of us, as individual citizens, would do well to also be able to discuss this issue in similar fashion. We can’t let the many distorted stories being told to us from Washington go unchallenged.

Financial Crisis Made in Washington

by William L. Armstrong


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Filed under Economy

Teacher evaluations now sent to state

It’s not always that I agree with teachers unions or other vested-interest public education groups, but they may have a good point on this issue. Ozarks Public Radio KSMU reports that the Missouri State Teachers Association is upset with a new policy that requires local school districts to share teacher evaluations with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

MSTA sources quoted in the news report cited privacy concerns, saying teacher evaluations and accompanying personal information should not be shared beyond the local level. I’m inclined to agree, though I want to learn more of the reasoning behind the new policy, which was imposed as a condition of accepting federal stimulus money.

There may be some benefits to it, but I’ve got to say the harm would seem to outweigh the good. […]

-NOTE: This entry edited on 09/28/10.

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Filed under Education

Journali$tic Ethic$

A word from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on political giving by journalists.  Via Combest. I don’t understand how working reporters – certainly at least those who cover politics and related subjects – for mainstream news outlets would make campaign contributions. It’s one thing for someone doing commentary, or who does not claim to be a purely objective journalist, or who works for a publication which openly embraces a particular philosophical orientation. In fact, I’ve given money to candidates, and I’ve written for several different publications. I’ve also never claimed to be a professional, purely objective reporter working for a neutral news source.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some journalists don’t realize that their names and contributions become part of the public record. They aren’t the only ones. I’ve heard at least a couple stories of high profile individuals (including a top MU official, and a major church leader in the KC area) making a campaign contribution only to realize after the fact – upon being confronted – that the support they offered would not be kept secret but rather open for all to see. Personally, I think it’s wise for practicing, professional journalists, especially those covering government, to avoid making such contributions. It has even been asked be media ethicists whether journalists should vote. I think that’s going a bit far, but I can see the impulse to refrain from casting a ballot.

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IHOP comes under fire

That headline was written with no pun intended, btw. But the IHOP worship center in south KCMO is being sued by the IHOP pancake chain for trademark infringement. This article by Donald Bradley in the Kansas City Star – linked to by the Drudge Report tonight – has some of the details. Frankly, I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner. It would seems the restaurant corporation has at least a decent case, though I’m unfamiliar with the details of trademark law.

I read all the comments on the Star’s website, and some are quite critical of IHOP and its members. There are also a few IHOP defenders making their points and offering thoughts. Yes, there’s the question of the trademark dispute, but there’s also the question of IHOP itself and the nature of its essence. Like most things, simple characterizations one way or the other do not accurately portray the real nature of this issue.

I grew up in South KCMO before IHOP was around. I swam at the Red Bridge YMCA, played baseball at 3&2 near the Grandview triangle, attended church at Colonial Presbyterian Church at 95th and Wornall. It’s not a perfect place but in many ways its a pretty good one. Places always change, and this part of town has changed, is changing, and will continue to change in the near future. IHOP seems to be part of that.

IHOP no doubt sees its mission as a global one and a spiritual one. But IHOP lives in the temporal world, and has a street address. It has bills to pay, floors to clean and neighbors to live with. For the locals, and particularly those who lived in the area before IHOP arrived, it is the practical things that define this new resident and whether its presence is a welcome or unwelcome one.

Spoken or otherwise, there are questions and answers that will determine these matters. Are its members kind and courteous? Are they honest and responsible? Do they treat the place and its people with respect? As religious people, are they thoughtful and temperate, or superstitious and fanatic? The IHOP family must first and always seek to love its neighbors.

I’ve known a number of IHOP folks over the years, including several I regard with affection and respect. To a modest degree, I’ve had some contact with the extended Bickle family, and, as it’s said, have “known people who know” the Bickles well. I’ve personally been to IHOP on a handful of occassions, mostly several years ago, usually to sit in the prayer room and read a bit of my Bible, and to pray and think and take in some of the music. I’m something of a night owl, so it was nice having a place open 24/7 where I could go and do that.

However, I do think there is at least potentially something to the general notion that IHOP is trafficking in the strange and sensational (a topic I have started to write about and will try to publish on later), and that its followers have developed a certain set of psycho-social distinctions, not all of them positive (though I would not call it a cult, as one or two commenters on the Star’s website did). I say this even though, let me repeat, that I know and care for some who have been involved with IHOP at one time or another.

There are all sorts of groups out there, with all kinds of beliefs and practices. Here in America, that sort of thing flourishes, and always has. The one thing they all have in common, however, is an opportunity and obligation to do what is in their ability to be good neighboors. It’s up to IHOP to determine what that means, both as local residents and responsible members of the business community.

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Filed under Christianity, Kansas City

Don’t write that

For the writers, via NAS, in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Michael Munger is Chairman of the Political Science Department at Duke University, and shares a few tips – ten, actually – on writing.

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Filed under Writing

Show Me the Money

A new political documentary, “I Want Your Money,” is the work of a filmmaker with Missouri ties. The New York Times today writes that:

“Raised almost entirely in Germany until he was 17, Mr. Griggs, the son of an Air Force officer, said he learned political lessons by observing life in Europe while absorbing American culture from afar. On returning to the United States, he worked at a television station in Missouri, then began his own business, making commercials and corporate videos.

“His formal introduction to politics, Mr. Griggs said, came with his work as a campaign manager, then staff member, for Rob Schaaf, a Republican in the Missouri House of Representatives. Mr. Griggs was known for whimsical campaign ads that had Mr. Schaaf talking from the bottom of a coffee cup.”

Former Missouri GOP state auditor candidate Allen Icet also makes an appearance. You can watch the trailer for the movie on YouTube.

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Filed under General & Miscellaneous

Glenn Beck’s Cross of Gold

Writing in Hot Air, Patrick Ishmael examines Glenn Beck‘s populism and the historic precedent of Williams Jenning Bryan. Both infused their politics with healthy doses of religion, while speaking out against economic policies of the day. Missouri readers know Ishmael as a KC native and young but seasoned GOP politico and conservative thinker.

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Filed under General & Miscellaneous