Snooki speaks to college students?

I must admit, I am not very familiar with Nicole”Snooki” Polizzi. But on occasion, I have picked up my wife’s copy of “People Magazine” and  I have seen an article or two about this reality TV star. I suppose she is entertaining enough in her own way. But I hope she is not the caliber of person we wish our daughters and grand daughters to aspire to become.

Being a Tea Party activist, I spend much more time reading the hundreds of emails I get daily and wading through article after article on topics related to the current conditions in our communities, the legislative activity in our states and the course being set by our representatives in Washington DC. There is plenty of dialog regarding the fiscal crisis our federal budget is in and much is being written about the financial challenges our state governments face. From FOX News to the Huffington Post, there is opinion after opinion regarding who will be hurt if this bill is passed or that policy is put in place. A frequent part of this discussion is education and the expense related to educating our children from kindergarten thru high school and then on to one of our institutions of higher learning.

Recently, I watched Representatives in the Congress debate cuts to the Pell Grant program on C-SPAN. Several legislators were angered at a proposed cut of $850/yr in funds available to students thru that program. In my own state of Alabama, representatives of both Auburn University and the University of Alabama have been outspoken regarding cuts to their budgets and the need to raise tuition costs to their students or cut services because of funding cuts made necessary due to revenue shortages and a decrease in General Fund appropriations from the state.

Teachers and other public employees have recently demonstrated in Wisconsin and other states to protest reductions in benefits and increases made to their contributory costs to participate in health care benefits and retirement programs. I have read several articles in our local papers detailing costs paid by teachers and parents for supplies because school system budgets do not contain sufficient supplies to run classes properly. “We need more money!” is the request of educators, city and county officials, state governors and our officials in Washington DC. At the same time, there are those that demand we cut spend and stop the borrowing to pay for government spending.

So what does all of this have to do with a reality TV personality named “Snooki”?

Recently, Rutgers, New Jersey’s largest university, paid Nicole Polizzi $32,000 to “dish” on her hairstyle, and on her GTL (gym, tanning and laundry) lifestyle. The speakers fee was paid from a “Mandatory” student activity fee collected from students at the university. While some students considered the expenditure to be  a bargain, others would have preferred to spend their money on books or educational materials.

And what did the Rutgers students and faculty get for their $32,000? Snooki’s advice………”Study hard, but party harder!” Now that is a message that had not occurred to the student body at such a prestigious institution I’m sure. My point?

At a time when America is feeling the financial pressures in all aspects of our life. When individuals and private institutions are compelled to cut expenses, lay off workers and to make personal and family sacrifices to adjust to the economic hard times. Public officials and administrators just don’t seem to understand they must make the same sacrifices and exercise the same kind of discipline. We can no longer afford wasteful, unnecessary expenditures. Not in our private lives, and not in our public institutions.


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It has been several days since I opened this Blog. I wanted my first effort to have some punch and impact. I have written three rough drafts, edited them and re-written them before I deleted them unsatisfied with my efforts.

Then I received a forwarded email from my wife Judy. It pertains to an event that took place back on January 30, 2003. I was surprised I had not seen this account before even though it was regarding a major national news story.

Perhaps, you have not seen this before either. If you have, I believe it is probably worth reading again. At least I hope you think so.

I would gladly give credit to the first individual who reported this, but after some research, I’m not sure who that is.  But the words were spoken by U.S. District Court Judge William Young while sentencing “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. They are profound and far more worthy than anything I could have written.

Judge Young:     “Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you.

On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutively. (That’s 80 years.)

On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years again, to be served consecutively to the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you for each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 that’s an aggregate fine of $2 million. The Court accepts the government’s recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines.

The Court imposes upon you an $800 special assessment. The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further.

This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.

Now, let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist.  To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether the officers of government do it or your attorney does it, or if you think you are a soldier, you are not—– you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You’re no warrior. I’ve known warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and the TV crews were, and he said: ‘You’re no big deal.’

You are no big deal.

What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today?

I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing? And, I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom, so that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom’s sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf, have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges..”

We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties.  Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. The day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure.

Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That’s the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it always will.

Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down

I don’t recall hearing Judge Young’s words on TV or reading them in local or national publications. Perhaps I just don’t view the right programming or subscribe to the proper periodicals. But I do know we need more judges like the Honorable Judge William Young.

Thank you for reading. Until next time. My God bless America!

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