Monday, June 30, 2014

Wo Is Me: Obama's Politics of Oppression and Entitlement

One of the summer classes that I teach ended this past week. It was a first semester US History class, giving an overview of the development of the US to the time of the Civil War. In every class I teach now, I inevitably receive dozens of pleas from my students asking for clemency for their inability to earn a good grade. (Of course, none of them actually use the word "clemency" in their whining and pleading since their English education never got past a sixth grade vocabulary.)

Here's a typical example:
Hi, I realize that I turned in my assignment late, I was working longer hours at work this last weekend and couldn't get around to turning in my assignment on time. I really need to pass this class in order to continue on to [another university]. If I could at least get partial credit for my assignment I would truly appreciate it. My missing and late assignments are due to working late and not finishing them on time. Let me know if I can please turn in the assignments for at least partial credit. Getting a passing grade in this class is crucial for my academic advancement.
As I said, this is typical. Notice the lack of personal responsibility this student exhibits. Notice the blame projected to longer hours at work. Notice the comma splices in the first sentence. Notice the reason the student "needs" to get a good grade - it is "crucial" to academic advancement. After all, she really, really needs a good grade, so I should just give it to her.

The student wants me to change the rules because they are inconvenient for her. They get in the way of her grades. Changing them is crucial to her achievement.

I get dozens of these every semester, essentially asking me not to "ruin" their grade because some unforeseen, external problem has prevented them from doing the work or getting the correct answer.

The excuses fly after every assignment: my car died; my roommate's boyfriend broke up with her; I was called unexpectedly to work; my grandmother died; I couldn't find the book; my computer hard drive crashed (and I had to destroy it); I had to bail my friend out of jail; the assignment was too hard; I searched everywhere but couldn't find any information about John Locke; I ran out of time; I need a good grade.

Those excuses were all from this past summer term. Well, except the one about destroying the hard drive, but I figure if the IRS can use that excuse, then my students won't be far behind in borrowing the idea.

When I first started teaching years ago, very few of my students made excuses for earning poor grades or for failing to turn in an assignment. They seemed to understand that they had to earn grades, rather than having grades given to them, like some sort of Obama phone handout. The fact is, that over the years as schools have become more and more obsessed with standards and assessments, the only real lesson we've taught our students is that they have to beg, borrow, or steal good grades by annoying their teachers.

Which brings me to the point of all this - the neo-liberal concept of entitlements. Neolibs have preached the gospel of oppression for so long, that its love child - entitlement - has grown into a leviathan which robs children of self worth, steals away initiative, mortgages our future, and destroys the foundations of America.

Oppression and entitlement dogmas backwash from modern English and history textbooks like a plugged toilet. Perched atop the throne of "equality," they inherently create huge class distinctions and a double standard of inequity. Its adherents and sycophants find every opportunity to blame others for misfortune, never taking responsibility for their own actions.

It's bad enough that my students make excuses and lay blame on everything but the real problem - themselves. It's worse when the leaders of our nation refuse to take responsibility for their poor decisions and bad actions.

Since day one of his presidency, Barack Obama has complained about opposition to him, to his policies, to the poor state of the economy, and to the governing of a nation. First it was Bush who created all the problems in the world. Next, Obama blamed Bush for all of his problems, since it worked so well the first time around.

When blaming Bush for All Evil in the world failed to excite the sycophants, Obama turned to blaming Republicans in general, as though each and every Republican stood as a barrier to him in stopping the rise of the oceans and the healing of the planet.

"Wo is me," he says again and again.
[Republicans] don’t do anything, except block me and call me names. If they were more interested in growing the economy for you and the issues that you are talking about instead of trying to mess with me, we would be doing a lot better.
Oh boo hoo.

Is this the president of the United States? Unfortunately, yes.

This is also the man who is a High Priest of oppression theology, of entitlement dogma. This is someone who wants to convince us to change the rules. Why? Because the rules are inconvenient to him. They are unfair to his achievements. He doesn't want to get a bad grade.

It's not about what is right and good for the country with entitlement politicians. It is all about them.

As Obama has shown, if he doesn't like the rules, he changes them or ignores them.

Are the healthcare laws politically inconvenient? *POOF* With a wave of his magic pen, Obama makes them go away, or at leasts kicks them down the road so they'll be politically inconvenient for the next president.

Have terrorists stormed the US consulate and killed our ambassador? *POOF* Send in a lackey to blame an obscure and idiotic video to throw blame away from the current administration. Then, when the truth comes out, ask the question: "At this point, what difference does it make?"

Is the IRS refusing to allow conservative non-profit organizations to form? *POOF* When the truth comes out stall and blame others, then, when that doesn't work, "accidentally" erase the very emails that would show collusion between Obama's administration and the IRS.

Is al-Qaeda destroying the fragile democracy of Iraq after years of US involvement with the blood of our soldiers spilt? *POOF* Go back to blaming Bush for the failures of current foreign policy.

Obama has refused to take responsibility for any of his many, many failures as president of the United States. Instead, he chooses to hid behind the thin veneer that he's so oppressed and so entitled.

I'd say he's become like one of my students, except that most of them, eventually, grow up and get real jobs.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Some Thoughts on Iraq's Violence and the US Responses in the Mideast

It was before the 2012 election that President Obama pulled every soldier out of Iraq in order to convince Americans to vote for him again. After all, he had personally killed Osama bin Laden (or so people think) and he ended that illegal war that Bush had started (or so people think).
After pulling troops out of Iraq, al-Qaeda terrorists who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria - ISIS - are now tearing the country apart, destroying lives and property, and leaving a vicious and corrupt regime in their wake.
The media blame Bush for the ongoing troubles. After all, he invaded Iraq without provocation (or so people think). It was Obama, however, who pulled troops out of Iraq at any and all costs. He has thrown away the blood and battles of American soldiers who threw al-Qaeda out of Iraq and who seriously challenged Shi'a terrorists.
It is easier to maintain the peace, than conquer it. Obama's foreign policy, however, doesn't recognize this axiom. Instead, his policy shifts with the sandy winds of the Mideast deserts, supporting some policies, ignoring others. Americans too have become short-sighted, allowing the media to convince them that we had to leave Iraq at all costs.
Obama has announced that the US will pull troops out of Afghanistan by 2016, giving the terrorists a schedule from which to plan an assault on the fragile government of that troubled country. Seeing the turmoil now in Iraq, it seems inevitable that Afghanistan will be another lost opportunity. Such losses come at the price of the blood of thousands of innocents.
Most agree that Libya is worse off after France's and Obama's military aid led to the overthrow of Gaddafi. The sectarian fighting there created the chaos that led to terrorists destroying the American consulate in Benghazi and to the death of four Americans, including the US ambassador.
Syria is no better off after Obama failed to maintain his "red line." He had to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin for assistance. Syria is now a wasteland of chaos and turmoil that invites further abuse by ISIS.
What is lacking in all of this is a clear US policy that would allow the US to maintain forces and a Mideast presence to keep the unstable governments of Afghanistan and Iraq stabilized. Whatever the public distaste for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is now in US interests to stay for the long haul. Without that  policy and maintenance, the US can be guaranteed another run in with genocidal tyrants and anti-US governments based on radical Islam.
The policy of using drone attacks, then leaving, was shown to be a failure in Libya. The Obama administration is now considering the same policy against ISIS in Iraq. Such a policy will fail.
Ignoring terrorism leads to disaster. Neolibs like Obama have created elaborate mythologies about Islamic history that simply ignores the realities. Obama suffers from postmodernist delusions about Islam that allow him to bow to kings, to make NASA into a Muslim outreach program, to create new and interesting ways not to say the words "Muslim terrorists," to romanticize his father's connection to Islam, or to declare radical Islam as "secular."
What such poor policy has led to in the past, and will always lead to, is conflict with the people of the Mideast. We learned that lesson on 9/11. Let's hope that we don't have to be reminded of the dangers of radical Islam with another such demonstration.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Road Rage and the Miscreants of Society

A woman stands at the Pearly Gates, getting her interview with St. Peter. It goes something like this:

St. Peter: I see you wasted a lot of your life cursing random strangers.

Woman: What do you mean?

St. Peter looks at a rather long scroll. He skips about ten feet of dense writing to find the spot he's looking for.

St. Peter: Well, here's one instance where you pulled alongside a stranger as you exited the freeway and took the time to flip him off, to profane God's name in the process, and to use His name in a sentence with a long list of rather dubious Anglo Saxon terms for bodily activities.

Woman: If I did that, the other driver deserved it.

St. Peter raises his eyebrows, pointedly staring at the woman.

St. Peter: And just what did this total stranger do to be the object of your wrath and blasphemy?

Woman: He was in front of me and I was in a hurry.

St. Peter: Ah! I see. You behaved like a miscreant monkey because the other driver was in front of you.

Woman: He was going too slowly, and I was in a hurry to get home.

St. Peter: How fast was he going?

Woman: It was too slow.

St. Peter: Let me look up his speed, just for the record....Oh! Tsk Tsk! My records show that he was going well over the speed limit. I must have a talk with him about that when he arrives. So you say he was going too slowly, yet he was actually speeding?

Woman: I don't know about that. He was going too slowly and I was in a hurry to get home, you see, and he was in front of me....In my way.

St. Peter: Hmmm. The record also shows that he was in the slow lane. Was there a lot of traffic so you couldn't go around him?

Woman: I don't recall. He was in front of me.

St. Peter: So, you couldn't have gone around him.

Woman: He was in front of me as we got off the freeway at the same off ramp.

St. Peter: As I recall, that particular off ramp is two lanes wide and opens up to four lanes.

Woman: That's how I finally got around him.

St. Peter: Oh, but you didn't go around him. The record shows that you pulled up alongside him, blocking traffic along the way, and waited for him to look at you. When he did, you performed those distasteful acts that I've already mentioned. I ask again, what did this total stranger do that made you behave so badly?

Woman: He. Was. In. Front. Of. Me.

St. Peter: I see,...and how did he react to your outburst?

Woman: That was the most infuriating thing of all! He didn't.

St. Peter: Didn't what?

Woman: React.

St. Peter: He didn't react?

Woman: Not at all. He just looked at me, then turned and drove into the far turn lane as if nothing happened.

St. Peter: Well, we've certainly established what sort of person you become when you feel you've been inconvenienced. Now let's take a look at how you treated your family....


What's the lesson to be learned here? What I took away from this incident, as I was the stranger in the other car, is that we've become so debased in our modern society that we've forgotten the social mores of courtesy, decency, proper behavior, and good-old-fashioned kindness.

I find it sad that miscreants rule society, as if there were no better way to act and react to others. I guess I shouldn't be surprised when people behave badly, but somehow through it all, I hope that people will indeed behave as humans, and not as animals.

I also feel nothing but pity for the woman who became ugly, oh so ugly, as she gave in to her basest feelings. She let her passions and her anger rule her, and probably blames me for "making" her feel angry. I can only hope that she treats her family and friends better than she treats complete strangers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Evil in Iraq - Video of ISIS Terrorists in Iraq WARNING: Extremely Graphic

I debated whether I should post the following. It is a video of ISIS, terrorists who have banded together to create an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. I finally decided that it is more important to uncover evil where it exists, and to lay it bare for what it is.

Evil should not be hidden so that it can grow and expand in secrecy. Brought into the light, evil can be seen for what it truly is. We cannot accept it. We must not glorify it. Above all, we must not let our own government and news agencies mask and sanitize it.

US troops fought and pushed this evil out of Iraq. They do the same to root out and to destroy this evil in Afghanistan. Yet President Obama and his neolib friends continue to assure us that such evil really doesn't exist. We are told that these men are merely "freedom fighters" whose culture and religion rest on the premises of peace and world brotherhood.

They are not. They are savages, promoting the worst kinds of violence in order to gain power and to force others to bend to their will.

They are evil.

I give fair warning. This video is extremely graphic. I mean it. It shows what death looks like administered by ISIS terrorists. It shows fanatic leadership. It shows men who behave as beasts.

And through it all they they praise their God as they perform heinous acts of murder.

Do not put these images into your mind if you cannot handle them. Also, those of my friends who have PTSD should avoid this as well.

I cannot support a president or a government that so badly handled the troop withdrawal in Iraq and that ignores the continued threat to freedom and peace that these terrorists pose. I cannot support an American ideology that preaches that there is no evil in the world, or that we need to accept all cultures as equally valid.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Gay Dogma and the Application of Force

This past week I had some time to make the rounds on various news websites in order to add my two cents to the comments sections. Delving into the liberal media has always felt like swatting at flies on a hot, summer day. No matter how many flies you take down, there are hundreds more swarming around to ruin your afternoon.

One story caught my attention, just for the absurdity of the "news" it purported to report. Texas governor Rick Perry was interviewed at a club in San Francisco, and, as anyone could have expected, was asked his views on homosexuality. He responded: "I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way."

There were gasps from the audience.

Of course there were. That's because gay dogma has reached such a point in its quest to become mainstream that any belief which doesn't conform is considered nearly illegal.

During the discussion following the CBS news story, I made the point:
Gay politics used to be about privacy in the bedroom. Now gay politics is all about forcing everyone to accept and condone homosexual behavior by any social and legal force available. This includes lying about homosexuality to preach its dogmas to the youngest generation. 
I could care less about homosexual behavior. I do care when the dogmas of the Religion of Homosexuality are forced on us.
This elicited the response:
how are they being forced on you? you can choose what to listen to, what programs to watch. knowing is forcing you to watch guy on guy porn. I mean who is to judge whats bad behavior. you have your right to believe whatever and your entitled to an opinion but cmon dude relax a bit.
The guy who wrote this eloquent diatribe has a point. How are gay dogmas being forced on me? Am I overreacting to the whole gay civil rights movement?

I took a look at my past experiences for some answers.

When I first began blogging in 2008, I was working to support an amendment to the Arizona constitution that defined marriage between a man and a women. At the time, those of us who wanted to protect marriage realized the political pressure to change the law, and to change the definition of marriage, supported by growing and well-funded gay advocacy groups. We proposed the amendment as a defense against the rising force to change the definition of marriage.

This was the same year that Proposition 8 passed in California - the same type of state constitutional amendment that we passed in Arizona. When Proposition 8 passed, gay activists erupted with indignation, immediately garnering millions of dollars to challenge the new law in the court system. They also attacked any one or any groups that supported the law. Most notably were the attacks on the Catholic and Mormon churches, whose general membership supported traditional marriage.

By attacks, I mean legal and physical attacks. Churches were defaced and picketed. Law suits were brought up. Proposition 8 donation records were made public. Individuals were singled out and publicly destroyed.

All this took place with the help of the mainstream media, which wore supporting same sex marriage as a badge of honor.

The challenge to Proposition 8 was fast-tracked all the way up to the Supreme Court, which, while not throwing out the law itself, stripped it of any meaning, which has allowed the gay activist machine to knock over state law after state law, like a row of dominoes.

That is force.

Gay activists use money and politics to change the very nature of society, marriage, families, education, and privacy.

What about the media? Can the media use force?

Yes, I can certainly choose what to listen to or what programs to watch. However, the media have become so immersed in the immoral, that it's impossible to turn it all off. (I suppose I could become a hermit with blinders and a tin foil hat.)

As a matter of principle, I gave up watching most television a long, long time ago. There simply isn't enough time in the day to waste my time watching what mostly had become either drivel, or immoral, or simply uninteresting.

Ignoring television works, up to the point where I want to enjoy some entertainment. For example, I and my family enjoy watching and participating in theatre. As I wrote last week about watching the Tony Awards, we all anticipated that we would be forced to endure some amount of liberal dogma. We were not disappointed as the opening of the show consisted of Hugh Jackman insulting anyone who doesn't support same sex marriage.

Sure, I could not watched the Tonys. Instead, I endure and ignore the continued efforts to push homosexual dogmas on the world.

I could stop watching the one show that I think is mostly clever and funny, but has its "obligatory" homosexual statement each week. It's not a show about homosexuality. In fact, it has no sex in it at all, except for the weekly homosexual innuendo. This show isn't unique. Somehow, Hollywood writers feel the need to include indoctrination into just about every show that becomes popular.

In order to get away from it, do I have to ignore all shows and subject myself to Duck Dynasty or Shark Week?

Oh wait. While Duck Dynasty is immune from homosexual dogmas, the media had a heyday raking one of its cast members over the coals for supporting traditional marriage.

That is force.

The news is filled with stories about gay activists and homosexual dogmas. Movies nearly always include some bit of propaganda endorsing homosexuality. Its dogmas are preached in the schools, at the universities, and now across the pulpits of "enlightened" Christian churches.

Arizona tried to pass a law protecting religious freedom. Gay activists, the media, and even the NFL decried the law, calling for the governor to veto it.

Sports teams are increasingly challenged to conform to gay dogma. Michael Sams was celebrated as the first openly gay member of the NFL. Donald Sterling had to sell his NBA team afer being slammed for remarks about gays.

Even in the books I love to read, I have to either skip whole sections or stop reading because authors find ways to include gay dogma into the writing.

That is force.

While I've fought against the abuse of power over the years, liberals continue to bury any individual or group who doesn't agree with them. Whether it's same sex marriage, abortion, illegal immigration, the decapitation of the military, destructive socialist programs, deficit spending, or the Absolute Faith in government, all these doctrines use the abuse of power to stifle opposition and to force immoral dogmas onto the unwilling.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lawsuit Against Gay Discriminatory Practices

To the Gay Community:

We, at the Monogamous and Heterosexual Education Network (MOHEN) have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the discriminatory practices of the gay community and 27 of its politically active organizations. In the lawsuit, we raise the concern of 752 plaintiffs who have been disenfranchised from the gay community simply because they were not lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered.

In the lawsuit, we argue that the social category "gay" is discriminatory and excludes any heterosexuals who want to express a caring and loving relationship without being homosexual. The belief that only same sex couples may participate in being gay is discriminatory and is therefore legally unjustifiable.

Gayness does not imply protected class status. That’s a false notion held within the gay community. Gayness is simply a variation of sexual practice. MOHEN argues that the heterosexual plaintiffs only want equal rights for themselves and for their children within the gay community. Both our Constitution and morality require it.

Those of us who support gay heterosexual equality realize that gays hold a bigoted view that discriminates against a specific group of citizens. Those who want to discriminate against heterosexual, monogamous couples in the granting of gay rights don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable in their bigotry. We recognize, however, that such feelings will come with the territory since gays hold a bigoted point of view. They need to get used to it.

What we ask for is simple. All we want is inclusion into the gay community as heterosexuals. We want to express our love and devotion to each other without the bitter stigma of not being gay. We want our rights as members of the gay community: to express our feelings to each other as heterosexual members of the gay community.

We agree with Keith Olbermann when he said:
"Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world."
We also ask the questions: How does keeping heterosexuals out of the gay community have any impact on homosexual behavior? What are you afraid of? How can having a gay monogamous heterosexual possibly affect your personal lives?

Therefore, we call upon gay activists everywhere to open their hearts and allow monogamous heterosexuals to join the gay community and be called gay.

A Note from Euripides:
Surely the point is obvious. Substitute the concepts of same sex marriage and notice the same arguments gay activists use in order to push their ideas of same sex marriage on the people of the US.

One argument conveniently tossed aside by gay activists is the argument against changing the definition of marriage. This post shows an analogy which validates the definition change argument. Just as there is no such thing as a gay monogamous heterosexual, there is equally no such thing as same sex marriage.

Marriage is not merely a legal definition but includes social, moral, and religious aspects. What this means is that, since the historical definition of marriage is a union between a man and a woman, gay activists indeed try to change the definition to suit their political goals.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Celebrating Decadence: The Tony Awards Promote Homosexuality, Bad Behavior, and Immoral Dogmas

The other night, Broadway celebrated another year of stage theatre with the Tony Awards. As usual, my family and I sat down to watch the festivities, something my wife and I have done since we were first married, even on our honeymoon. It has been a tradition in our home every year.

Over the past 20 years, just like other awards shows, the Tonys have seen a marked increase in the amount of political blather celebrating the display of bad behavior, usually centered around blatant sexuality and especially in praise of homosexuality.

The other night was no exception, as we were subjected to a monologue from none other than Hugh Jackman extolling the virtues of same sex marriage, while telling those of us with differing opinions that it is none of our business. I don't know about you, but I can think of nothing more offensive and politically charged than for the writers of a nationally televised awards show to tell half of the audience that our beliefs and politics are irrelevant.

Despite the politics and the politically correct attitude, I enjoyed the show and the entertainment.

That is, until we watched Neil Patrick Harris perform in the revival musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. In the musical, Harris portrays a singer from a fictional rock band who is transgendered and whose sex change operation was botched. Hence, he's left with an "angry inch."

Besides being one of the stupidest of ideas for a story, Harris' performance was a celebration of the basest of human actions. Dressed in drag, gyrating to one of the worst rock songs I've ever been subjected to, Harris ventured out into the audience to shake his genitals (which presumably haven't been surgically removed) in people's faces, to give a lap dance to Sting (who tolerated his antics, at best), and to snatch a kiss from another man.

The audience clapped and cheered. Harris won a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical. The show won a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.


Except that the music is banal. Harris' acting consists of trying to shock people, and the show, which originally opened in the late 1990s got a new breath of life, guaranteeing that decadence and Hedwig's disfigured genitals, will live on another few years.

The show Caberet was revived this year as well. From the selection aired on the Tonys, the show that originally demonstrated the evil and decadence of pre-Nazi Germany, and the greater evil of Naziism, instead glorifies pornography.

One of my friends texted late, after the show, to describe her frustration with the trend in theatre. She teaches a history of musical theatre class and feels that, when covering the last ten years, she's teaching a class on the demise of American culture.

It's true. I've run into the same problems myself when teaching US history. Both culture and politics have become painfully corrupted.

The trend on Broadway (even more than in Hollywood), is to praise and celebrate the most immoral dogmas of liberalism. These dogmas include the use of coercive force to stifle any dissent over same sex marriage. They include the celebration of bad behavior in the name of art. They encourage Tony voters to uphold the basest displays of human debauchery and ignorance by rewarding them with recognition.

And do you know something which surprises me? This year's Tony Awards was better than in previous years. Most of it actually celebrated and awarded honest talent.

But like so many award shows, it continues to promote the decadent, the banal, and the pretentious, all in the name of "art."

Last year's Tonys gave Best Musical to Kinky Boots, a story about an English shoe manufacturer who found a niche market in making ladies shoes to fit men. Now there's the basis for a great story!

I lie.

In the past few years, we've seen awards go to shows that glorified making fun of an entire religion, while also including more F bombs than all other Broadway shows combined (The Book of Mormon Musical). The Tonys have rewarded shows about homosexuals taking over a fantasy kingdom (Shrek), about kids having sex for the first time (Spring Awakening), about homosexual puppets and the virtues of pornography (Avenue Q), about drug abusers and homosexuals (Rent), and several about transvestites (for example, Hairspray).

It's almost axiomatic now that Tony winning shows must include some propaganda in favor of normalizing homosexuality.

We've come to accept such in our entertainment, as shows become more and more a celebration of decadence, pushing the boundaries of morality with each passing year, then telling those of us who don't like it to butt out.

Perhaps we've believed the lies, that such behavior is really none of our business. Perhaps the New America really is the land of free sex and the home of base human desire.

I don't believe it. Not yet. And in the meantime, it really is my business to keep pointing out the flaws of immoral dogma and the poor politics of decadence.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The De-education of America: How Liberal Education Has Hurt Our Children

Today's students get short-changed in their education. Who's to blame?

The response surprised me.

Gallup Poll several years back asked Americans what would be the best way to improve kindergarten through twelfth grade education in the US today. The poll determined that "Americans most commonly mention having higher-quality, better-educated, and more-involved teachers."

Why does this surprise me? For one, I completely disagree with Americans' perception of education in the US. The answer to the problem does not lie with the teachers, but with the support system that teaches, hires, and controls the teachers.

If I were to answer the Gallup Poll question, from my viewpoint as a teacher, I would point to eight entirely different things:
  1. Low teacher salaries;
  2. Failed university systems which neglect to teach the teachers;
  3. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and government concepts of "accountability";
  4. The adoption of national "Common Core" standards;
  5. Increased federal interference;
  6. Top-heavy school and district administration (i.e. district centralization versus department control);
  7. Failed approaches to teaching, propagated and amplified by 1960s liberal ideals;
  8. Self-serving teachers' unions;
  9. And last, but not least, lack of student responsibility.
In other words, poor-quality, poorly-educated, poorly-involved teachers isn't the problem. It's only a symptom of the greater problem with education in the US.

I created quite a list here. The Gallup Poll shows that very few of my top problems with education in the US even make it to the Gallup list. This means that average Americans aren't aware of some of the basic, underlying problems with education in the US. Why the discrepancy? Of course, I can attribute many problems I identify on my list to years of personal experience, as I have watched the decline in student interest and student ability in the classroom. Some I attribute to my basic distrust of government interference and big government-run institutions. Some I attribute to my distrust of liberalized educational dogmas with which I do not agree.

The problem remains, however, that students graduate from high school lacking many of the basic skills necessary to continue at the college level. I've seen a sharp decline in students' abilities over the past ten years or so. Students now lack the basic reading skills necessary to tackle the technical or specialized reading required for advanced education. For example, just yesterday, several of my students complained about a short article I had assigned them to read about the historical development of political ideologies. Many students couldn't read the article and grasp the author's main point. Many couldn't get past the author's language.

Also, yesterday I finished grading the first written assignment of the summer term, finding a considerable number of the short essays all but unreadable because of basic problems with grammar, spelling, and mechanics. Almost none of the students could properly group sentences together to form paragraphs, opting instead to break ideas randomly or to ignore paragraphs altogether. A significant number of students copied material straight from the textbook instead of paraphrasing - a clear indication to me of an inability to process information.

Which leads me to conclude that yes, the educational system is failing. Getting back to my own list of problems, I can suggest some solutions, none of which, of course, will ever happen since the educational system in the US is firmly under the control of federal power mongers: teachers' unions, and federal mandates and funding.

1 - Increase Teachers' Salaries According to Merit
I advocate across the board salary increases for teachers. While this may sound self-serving (which, of course it is), there is the fact that teachers' salaries simply cannot support a family. Speaking from experience, in order to make ends meet, I must supplement my teaching salary with an outside business and investment income. K-12 teachers are the worst hit, college teachers less so.

Teachers' salaries should be tied to performance, especially at the college and university levels. Performance, in this case, doesn't mean publishing the drivel that passes for research these days, but instead means contributing to teaching, retaining, and counseling students to successfully navigate through school. Bad and overpaid university professors should have their salaries reduced, and should be paid by the number of classes taught, rather than the number of years in the system.

2 - Get Rid of the Elementary Education Degree
The utter garbage teachers learn from a degree in elementary education astonishes me. We now produce college graduates who can spew the latest teaching theories of facilitation and collaboration, yet they cannot read, write, spell, or do math. How can we expect these graduates to become effective teachers themselves when they lack basic educational skills?

Getting rid of the programs to award degrees in elementary education, as well as their big sister, the doctorate of education, and requiring teachers to have graduated in science, history, English, or mathematics, would go a long way toward producing better teachers.

3 - Repeal the No Child Left Behind Act and Common Core
Of all the stupid things that George W. Bush has been blamed for, liberals seem to ignore this shining example of bad legislation among them. The NCLB controls schools at the local level by threatening reduced funding from the federal level. The NCLB also places great emphasis on some vague and poorly defined ideal of "accountability" measurable through standardized testing. The end result produces an almost universal "teaching to the test." It's happened in my local school district. It's a good bet it's happened in yours as well.

In order to "alleviate" the poor ideals behind NCLB, most states in the US have now adopted Common Core standards. This merely replaces bad law with more bad ideas. Instead of local control over teaching, Common Core forces schools and teachers to adopt national standards developed by, you guessed it, large corporations who sell standardized tests, such as ACT and College Board.

Common Core pretends to be a "grassroots" revision of education, but is, in fact, a top-down implementation of one size fits all standards that cater to liberal think tanks.

The emphasis on standardized testing has produced and will continue to produce problems such as "gaming" (fixing tests to show better results), changing test standards, teaching to the lowest level in classes, English-only assessment, or limiting local school control.

4 - Give Education Back to the States
Liberal dogmas and sensibilities say that we must ensure that all students, everywhere, are treated exactly the same. Little disturbs a modern liberal more than the thought that one school may enjoy a more privileged status than another. The solution to school funding inequity was to take school funding decisions away from the states and place them at the federal level.

The result produced many unintended consequences. First, because schools got federal funding, the states took money away from the schools. The net effect didn't raise up under-advantaged schools. It didn't "level" the playing field. It didn't provide more funds per student.

What it did was to lift educational responsibilities from the states and hand them to the federal government. The result is an actual decline in the schools' abilities to fund programs and pay teachers' salaries. Most schools in my state, including universities, now suffer from inadequate teacher funding.

How many examples of ineffective federal controls do we need before we figure out that the federal government simply cannot fix the problems it creates? When the Democrats passed federal health care "reform," we've discovered another shining example of wasteful federal spending and a poorly designed law. Large federal bureaucracies simply cannot respond to local needs.

5 - Return to School-Independent and Departmental Control
Following the example of the federal government, the school administration where I teach has discovered a newly found power in taking decisions away from the department to create greater control and centralization over the entire system. Where my department chair used to make decisions about teaching loads and class size, now a bureaucrat makes the decision for all the departments across all the campuses. Where each campus had its own email system, now students must have a system-wide email (as well as a campus email, forcing students to check both systems). Where each campus had a single database listing of students for each class, now we must access two systems: one for grading, one for contact information. The new centralized control has multiplied high-paid administrative positions, yet has reduced the number of classes, increased the numbers of adjunct teachers, and has significantly increased the numbers of students per class.

A simple rule applies here - centralization and big bureaucracies to not respond well to the needs at the local level. "Modern" centralized school administration growth buries teachers and students alike.

6 - Give Up Silly Liberal Teaching Models
The liberalization of today's educational system demands layer upon layer of bureaucracy to ensure such things as fairness, equality, compassion, and tolerance are taught in school. What suffers, of course, is the actual education of the students. Equality-based systems replace merit-based systems. Students learn that education is a right or an entitlement, rather than a process that demands effort. No Child Left Behind means reducing educational standards rather than lifting educational expectations.

The result is a generation of students who expect good grades whether earned or not. For example, more and more students who earn poor or failing grades in my class expect me to change their grades because they don't "feel" they've been treated fairly.

Recently, one of my students failed to turn in an exam and plagiarized a book report. He earned an F for the class. His mother, of all people, called me on the phone and insisted I allow him special privileges. Her explanation and reasoning? He needed to pass the class so he could transfer to another school. In her mind, skipping an exam and plagiarism were minor infractions, not worthy of a failing grade. Her son was a "good" student and tried very hard in everything he did. To her and her son, the effort satisfied the demands of education, despite the glaring omissions of any accomplishment whatsoever.

This example belies a deeper symptom of the failure of education. Instead of subject mastery, students expect the entitlement of passing a class. Instead of demonstrated skill, effort wins the grade. Instead of learning, copying and pasting someone else's effort is entirely acceptable. All these point to the disease of failed educational philosophies invented within the past 40 years.

7 - Treat All Political Lobbies as We Now Treat Corporations
One of the modern-day liberal boogeymen is the supposed "evil" corporation and attendant abuse of power. Under the Obama administration, banks, car manufacturers, insurance companies, Wall Street moguls, the rich, income inequality, and the nebulous "corporate greed" have all been blamed for our economic troubles. (As well as blaming the weather!) The federal government, in turn, has taken over and diminished the power of the corporations for supposedly failing the people of the US.

The problem, of course, arises from the abuse of power, wherever it may arise. Many corporations abused their power to create cheap wealth (Sallie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, are all examples). Teachers' unions, as well, have done their part to help destroy public education. These unions think and act just as large corporations and make political decisions based, not on altruism or the ideals of constituency, but on good-old American greed and lust for power.

Educational lobbies are just as harmful as any other power monger corporation, perhaps more so, since the future of education rests in their unscrupulous hands. They must be limited or destroyed.

8 - Expect More from Students
The last point is perhaps the most insidious, yet the easiest to correct. Teachers simply need to expect their student to perform. Administration simply needs to back up teacher decisions. Students should learn the basic lesson of education, that the responsibility of our education falls on our own shoulders and is utterly independent of teachers.

For example, I expect my students to write well. After initial poor attempts, many of my students learn to write and proofread and turn in great essays. It takes time and it takes a bit of practice. I find that my students will rise to my expectations. I also expect my students to think. I do not condone lazy thinking in my classes and, for the most part, the students rise to the occasion.

What this tells me is that, with a bit of effort, students can and will rise to the occasion and learn how to learn. Why they wait until they are adults in college to learn to read and write does not reflect well on our current K-12 system.

Can we implement solutions to bring us out of the mire of poor education? Given the political climate and the ideological bent of modern education, I'd have to reach the conclusion that no, we are stuck in a mire. Our schools seem to be locked into a badly designed system, spiraling downward toward the goal of pronounced mediocrity and delusions of adequacy. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Conversation with an Ex-Liberal at a Meeting of Liberals Anonymous

Liberalism can ultimately be cured.

I first met Ron at the local Liberals Anonymous meeting. That night, there were 25 or so people gathered at the Moose Lodge on Main Street, a dingy and run-down building that used to be a cheap liquor lounge. The windows were all boarded up, painted black. The old Moose sign hung on the side of the building, cracked with peeling paint from years under the hot, desert sun.

This was Ron's first meeting of Liberals Anonymous, having come out from under the fog of his addiction to liberalism long enough to read an opinion piece from the great historian of classics Victor Davis Hanson. Unable to reconcile leftist dogma with leftist practice, he went searching for answers, only to find them among those whom he had disdained and reviled only a few weeks before.

We sat in a darkened room. Bright light frightens most recovering liberals. The evening was warm, the air conditioning making little headway against the thin-walls and boarded-up windows of the old bar. We sat in the main room. The Loyal Order of Moose had set up metal folding chairs in serried rows. A long table dominated the front of the room. Flags hung along the front and pictures of famous Mooses lined the walls. It looked, in all, like a typical conference room.

Stenway Johnson, the local chapter leader of LA welcomed the group. I had been invited as a guest speaker, my objective that evening to cover basic principles of the Constitution and its amendments, answering any questions that the attendees might have.

After the opening formalities, each attendee got the chance to stand up and give testimony about his or her progress recovering from rampant liberalism. Michael, a plain-looking man in t-shirt and sweats, stood up first.

"Hi, I'm Michael, and I'm a liberaholic."

"Hello Michael," the rest replied.

"It's been 73 days since I rejected liberal dogma." Everyone enthusiastically clapped for Michael's achievement.

He went on. "It has not been an easy road. The other day, I caught myself thoughtlessly turning on the television to watch Bill Maher." A few members gasped. "But I caught myself in time, remembering the first step of recovery: Think for myself. I forced myself to sit down and talk to my wife. Instead of wasting my time with Maher, my wife and I actually had a nice little talk." More applause.

A woman stood up next, tall and slender, about 40 years old. "Hello, I'm Heather and I'm a liberaholic."

"Hello Heather."

And so the meeting went, each attendee standing to tell her or his story and to lend each other mutual support in recovering from liberalism. Some admitted having an easy time saying goodbye to liberalism, finding newly found strength in their independence from rootless dogmatists. Some, obviously struggled each day, fighting against the lure of easy money welfare systems or unable to grasp simple concepts of a free market economy.

Ron stood up last. I knew this was his first meeting, yet he stood tall and firm. Determination strengthened his face and I saw singular clarity in his eyes. He had discovered and come to grips with the duplicity of liberal thought, and had found the strength of will to reject duplicity in favor of historicity and foundational principles.

"Hi, my name is Ron and I'm a liberaholic."

"Hello Ron."

"I used to like President Obama," he said. "I felt good listening to him. I had hope. I'd been told all of the evil and vile things George W. Bush had done, the war in Iraq, the abuse of power."

No one spoke a word. They had all been there before.

"Then we got Barack Obama in office and I had hopes for change, such high hopes. Yet when I read the news, little by little I came to question the direction Obama was taking the country. Sure, when he was first elected, he was young and new and he needed to find his stride. I could hide the inconsistencies behind the tremendous feeling of pride I had that we finally had someone on our side in the White House."

Nods. Knowing whispers.

"Then, one day, I don't know why, I read an opinion piece by the opposition, you know, the right-wingers. It was by a guy named Victor Davis Hanson. At first, I thought, how pretentious this guy is to have three names. But I continued to read his works, and then I started to understand what he was saying."

Ron paused. "Hanson talked about things that Obama had said that weren't true, things about Obama's great-uncle supposedly did in World War II. He talked about how Obama made Muslims sound like they single-handidly saved Western Civilization. He talked about how civil rights were granted to Blacks without bloodshed."

"And I thought to myself, what about the Civil War? What about Martin Luther King getting assassinated? What about Malcom X?"

"I started looking at the things the President Obama had been saying around the world. Things that didn't sound like he was very proud of America or what a great country we live in."

"I started looking at what he's done here in the US, how much money he's spent and how bad the economy still is. My family all lost their jobs to the housing market crash. All I hear about it is how much liberal economics is going to help."

"But it hasn't. We've all had to go out and get jobs doing whatever we can to support ourselves."

Ron went on with his disillusionment and his eventual enlightenment into a different way of looking at the world, one in which he was not a victim but a player. One in which he could master his own destiny instead of hoping for change that wasn't coming.

I spoke with Ron after the meeting. We went down the street to a quiet Mexican food restaurant and had some grilled beef tacos and a couple of Mexican bottled Cokes. He told me of the hope he had for the future, now that he saw a clear path toward a better way with clear goals and a solid foundation built on constitutional principles. He wondered if he would ever slip back into the self-pity and victim status of his old liberalism.

I reassured him that I and others like me were there for his support and encouragement. We would all rise together to build a better future for ourselves and for our children.

One day at a time, brother. One day at a time.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Lust and Edmund Burke

An Irishman who served many years in the British Parliament, Edmund Burke (1729-1797) is considered the father of conservatism.

Edmund Burke is considered the father of conservatism. He spoke and wrote during the 18th Century during a time of great political upheaval in Europe and in the Americas. His views, though dated according to his own time, can still shed light on the conservative impulse and lead us to understand what it means to be conservative and to stand for conservative values.

I take this quote from a speech he gave, entitled Reflections on the French Revolution. This appears in the book, The Works of Edmund Burke.
When the people have emptied themselves of all the lust of selfish will, which without religion it is utterly impossible they ever should, when they are conscious that they exercise, and exercise perhaps in a higher link of the order of delegation, the power, which to be legitimate must be according to that eternal, immutable law, in which will and reason are the same, they will be more careful how they place power in base and incapable hands. In their nomination to office they will not appoint to the exercise of authority, as to a pitiful job, but as to a holy function; not according to their sordid, selfish interest, nor to their wanton caprice, nor to their arbitrary will; but they will confer that power (which any man may well tremble to give or to receive) on those only, in whom they may discern that predominant proportion of active virtue and wisdom, taken together and fitted to the charge, such, as in the great and inevitable mixed mass of human imperfections and infirmities, is to be found.
This is a lengthy quote but one well worth reading and understanding. Here's the basic idea: When electing a person into political office and giving him political power, we should only elect someone through our own careful thought and moral wisdom and choose leaders who have active virtue and wisdom.

At the risk of being pedantic, let me break this down step by step. Burke first considers those of us who put people into power. We have a duty and responsibility to rid ourselves "of all the lust of selfish will." Electing someone to power must not be a selfish act, not one based on our own lust for power. We are to act without selfishness, for the good of the whole. In other words, instead of asking "What can this candidate do for me?" we should, instead ask "What can this candidate do for the country?"

Getting rid of lust and selfishness is a tough task, one in which, according to Burke, religion plays a significant role. As he states, "without religion it is utterly impossible they ever should [be rid of lust and selfishness]." Here is a key to conservatism, belief that we should serve a higher purpose than our own base lusts. For "when they are conscious that they exercise,...the power, which to be legitimate must be according to that eternal, immutable law, in which will and reason are the same, they will be more careful how they place power in base and incapable hands."

We are to judge through a higher, immutable law in order to exercise caution in granting power to the lesser. In the US, we not only have the foundation of Christianity from which to build, but also a secular law - the Constitution. We must be extraordinarily careful in whom we grant power. We should not grant power willy-nilly, merely because a candidate pleases our ears or brings a tingle to our leg or gives us false hope or promises long-desired hedonism. We must filter our choice through the Constitution, asking such questions as: "Is this a candidate who will uphold the immutable law of the Constitution?"

If we cannot answer that question affirmatively, then we risk giving power into "incapable hands," merely to satisfy our base desires.

Again, Burke cautions us not to hand over power according to our whims, "not according to their sordid, selfish interest, nor to their wanton caprice, nor to their arbitrary will." Notice Burke's use of terms which apply to human desire: lust, sordid, selfish, wanton, arbitrary. He does not use these terms lightly and, as conservatives, we must recognize how much human feelings can play in today's politics. We elect far too many people into office merely to satisfy our own feelings, most of which are of the basest kind: lustful and selfish.

The danger, of course, is granting power to selfish, lustful, and morally weak individuals who will exercise their power for their own gain and not for the good of the whole. Instead of electing people who have "that predominant proportion of active virtue and wisdom" we find candidates who fall into "a proud and lawless domination."

This, then, is the state we find ourselves in today. Because liberal dogmas have prevailed in the United States, we find ourselves with fewer and fewer choices of candidates whose predominant portion consists of "active virtue and wisdom."

A few broad examples will suffice:

We have a US president who acts in the interests of enemy states, apologizing for America instead of acting in the best interests of his own country. We have a president who thinks we live in a Muslim nation, saying so to appease oil-rich nations. We have a vice president who admitted that no one has any clue what the massive government spending will do to the economy. We have a Speaker of the House who approves of selling our birthright to pork-barrel projects, letting our country's debt be bought up by China. We have state legislatures which are too stupid to recognize marriage when it stares them in the face and so vote to abandon a fundamental social institution to immoral expediency. We have a president and many governors fighting to take away basic civil rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. We have state governments threatening to close schools because they won't cut popular welfare programs.

What is our call to action? A recent Gallup Poll indicates that all is not lost, that the conservative mind still dominates in our country, despite shrinking in the past few years. Now, more than ever, we must find ways to politically unite our conservative ideology into a political force which can take back our country from base and incapable hands. Whether we revitalize the Republican party or create something new, we must stand in common purpose to put our country back on the track of political, social and economic responsibility. Let us have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people once again.