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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Teachers need the benefit of the doubt!

This subject is one of my pet peeves. You see, as a teacher I have sometimes been interpreted as making inappropriate comments. Much of it comes from the subject matter; the course standards for Spanish include a good amount of cultural analysis and comparison. This can lead to discussions of complex topics about which some people are quite sensitive.

As any reader may attest, I don't consider someone's race a very important factor in who that person is. Having lived in South America for years, my perspective on questions of nationality is similar.  Moreover, I find it useful sometimes to "illustrate absurdity by being absurd;" that is, point out cultural stereotypes in order to display their inaccuracy. Sometimes the only part of the discussion that makes its way home is the stereotype rather than the fact that it was subsequently analyzed and disproved. This is a shame. How am I to defeat cultural misconceptions if I must fear misrepresentation and reprisals for doing so?

Perhaps I should just ignore these issues. I should simply state, "Let's not talk about that" and allow the teachable moment to slide by. Certainly my life would be easier if I took that avenue, but that's not why I decided to be a teacher. Analyzing complex topics is what breeds human intelligence, and I went into this business to do just that.

Nevertheless, I am sometimes called upon to defend my honor, so to speak, as the result of concerns expressed directly to an administrator rather than to me. I cannot emphasize enough that all teachers hate this! We expect to be given at least the opportunity to clarify or explain the true circumstances in any given misunderstanding before having to explain ourselves before an administrator. Children are not exactly the best message-carriers. If you don't believe me, try having one of your children deliver a message for you after only hearing it once and waiting a few hours before repeating it. I rest my case.

Parents, please talk to the teacher before contacting anyone else! Nothing eats away at a good relationship between parents and teachers more than distrust, and so much of that could be very easily resolved through a simple phone call or email to the teacher. Nothing so annoys a good teacher than to be misrepresented negatively in front of the administration.

Let's think logically. What incentive does the teacher have to be purposefully offensive, to punish your child for no reason, or to otherwise create conflict? I have news for you--the teacher has none. Logic would therefore dictate that most second-hand information that seems to be questionable might be related in an inaccurate way. At the very least, let the teacher have the opportunity to defend himself. (I'll use the generic masculine here, which some might find offensive in and of itself. Oh well!)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

False Equivalency

I have noted that the news media, especially left-wing outlets. like to make comparisons that don't quite fit. For a long time, I've lamented the fact that the media equate the Gay Rights movement to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Race and sexual proclivity have nothing in common.

Race is an innate quality, and to discriminate against someone based solely on that criterion is illogical. In the modern era, most Americans cannot claim descent from solely one race, so such a bias is increasingly ridiculous. I am a blend of mostly European stock and a smaller percentage of Cherokee blood. Three of my children are 3/4 Mexican and 1/4 Pomo Indian, and the Mexican side is an unknown concentration of Amerindian, Spanish, and possibly African blood. Most Black Americans are, in fact, of mixed African and European descent. However, all of these lineages have one thing in common--they are inherent characteristics that came with birth.

Sexual preference is not. Period. All reputable studies confirm that homosexuality emerges as the result of key life experiences, often traumatic ones. Three studies have been used by proponents of garriage (my term for the contradiction in terms "gay marriage") to suggest that homosexuality is innate, however all three fail to pass the rigors of proper science. The most famous of these was done by Simon LeVay, who suggested that a certain area in the brain was larger for gay men and females in cadavers he had studied. However, the size range for both groups was equal, with some individuals in all groups having similar brain sizes in this area,  and it is unknown how he confirmed which cadavers were and were not homosexual. Moreover, the study was not blind, and the groups studied were not large enough to be statistically sound. In addition, no researcher has been able to reproduce his findings.

Science also confirms that there is a difference between the relationship that comprises a marriage and the relationship between a gay couple. For starters, biology itself has dictated that men and women are to procreate. It is the means of procreation for not only our species, but also most other complex animal species. The benefits of such an arrangement are myriad, but all lead to the production of hardier individuals and the survival of the species. Marriage simply formalizes what biology has already determined. Indeed, government did not create the concept of marriage, but simply recognizes it and authorizes people to perform recognized ceremonies.

However, the news and entertainment media insist that both relationships are the same, while simple logic and human anatomy would make the opposite case. Proponents make an argumentum ad ignorantiam, basically saying, "Why not?" However, this logical fallacy is neither unanswerable nor sufficient to make sweeping changes in the way we legislate.

Aside from that issue, we also see the media asserting a false equivalency between Hamas and Israel. Hamas is a terrorist group that attacks specifically non-military targets. Moreover, it fires its missiles from crowded residential areas to maximize civilian casualties when retaliatory strikes occur. It has dishonored truce after truce, and will accept nothing less than the utter annihilation of the Israeli state. It victimizes its own people purposefully, murdering in cold blood any Palestinian who voices dissent or refuses to cooperate.

Israel, meanwhile, uses its missiles to target the areas from which Hamas has fired its rockets. It takes extraordinary measures to minimize civilian casualties, even making phone calls to the places it intends to strike to warn civilians to clear out. It has negotiated truce after truce, and would stop its military actions the moment Hamas actually honored its bargains. Israel fires missiles away from its civilian population. Some have argued that Hamas cannot do so because all of Gaza consists of crowded urban sprawl, but a quick look at Google Maps will confirm that such is not the case.

Add to that the false equivalencies of the Occupy protests and the Tea Party, social conservatives and Nazis (who were anything but), et al ad infinitum. Those who fail to pay close attention fall victim to these tactics. They were used often by Goebbels, who made false equivalencies between Jews, communists and anarchists. The concept of the Big Lie is nothing new. It is shameful how readily we fall prey to it as Americans who should know better.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Boko Haram Obama

Okay, I realize that the title of this piece may be a tad inflammatory, unless you're a Low Information Voter, in which case you're scratching your armpits and wondering how you found this website when you were searching for cat videos.

For those of you who pay attention to world events, the people of Nigeria are quite upset at an Islamofascist terrorist group by the name of Boko Haram. This group kidnapped over 250 girls from the Chibok school, forcing some to marry their captors. Many of the girls are ill and suffering from other forms of abuse. A worldwide Twitter campaign has tried to draw attention to the situation, but nothing tangible and effective has been done. (You can Twitter in one hand and crap in the other and see which gets full first.)

We face a similar situation in this country, but from the reverse perspective. We have engaged in policy-making that resulted in busload after busload of unaccompanied children streaming into our country. Our government ought to be making efforts to reunify these children with their families in their native lands. Instead, they are being relocated across the country with strangers.

It is not mercy to steal a generation of children from impoverished nations. Yes, many of the countries from which these children come are terrible places to live. Many are nations in which there is an ever-present danger of violence. As many have commented before me, we have such areas in our own country. There are neighborhoods in Chicago with the same dangers.

The parents of these children are lacking the same commitment and attachment to their offspring that the parents in Nigeria have. To send a child off all alone with known criminals is a crime of the deepest neglect. Every American feels instant empathy for these children, but to keep them here is abduction. The president, in approving the dispersal across the country of these children, is making the statement that he intends the separation to be permanent.

While this may seem to the less family-oriented out there as the right thing to do, we must always judge an idea or policy by the results it gets and not by the intentions of those who came up with it. That's called living in reality, something liberals don't do very often. So, what is the reality of our policy towards these children?

Children are living in cramped quarters, housed in close proximity to children sent because of disease and contagious illness. Can anyone honestly say that this is a better life than the one they left behind?

I recommend a few simple policy changes to help these (and future) children while simultaneously stemming the tide of illegal immigration into the country. Here is my plan:

1. The children who have already arrived will be treated, fed, and sent home with new shoes and clean clothing.

2. The immigration loophole the parents are abusing will be closed.

3. The U.S. Border Patrol will be granted the status it deserves as a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. After all, its function closely parallels that of the Coast Guard.

4. A twenty-foot wall will be built along the border in every area in which it is geologically feasible. I'm tired of people saying this can't be done; we've got thousands of miles of this along our freeways just so people can sleep without hearing traffic noise. A stronger wall using a similar construction style could be built within a few months if multiple contracts were awarded at intervals along the border.

5. Congress will pass a law clarifying the Constitution to make it clear that only children of citizens acquire automatic citizenship by birth. This law will contain a clause exempting it from the jurisdiction of any of the federal courts, including the Supreme Court. (Congress has the authority to define the limits of the federal courts' jurisdiction.)

6. An law will be passed stating that only spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens will be granted immigration preferences. Siblings, parents, adult children, and extended family will no longer receive exceptions.

7. A law will be passed mandating every employer to use the E-Verify system to ensure that they are hiring workers legally. This will remove much of the incentive for illegal entry into the U.S.

8. Economic advisors will be sent to these children's home countries to guide them with regard to economic policy. These advisors will be chosen from the business schools of U.S. universities.

Will this be kindness? Yes, if we take the long view of things. Too often we seek only immediate relief and forget that leaving the illness untreated is worse than momentary pain. For too long our nation's borders have served as a pressure-release valve for the corrupt and despotic, a way to rid themselves of those who would otherwise seek reform. We are doing the people of these nations no favor by obliging.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Hitler-Hamas Connection

The Palestinians launch terror attacks on Israel. Israel retaliates. Terrorists hide behind their women and children. A few women and children die in the retaliation. The world condemns Israel. World leaders urge both sides to “come to terms,” which involves Israel giving up land for peace. Land is given. Peace lasts a few months to a year. Palestinians commit acts of terror and hide behind their women and children. Rinse and repeat.

Is everyone in the community of nations brain-dead? Now we see Vladimir Putin using the same tactics to seize the Crimean region and, if he gets his way, Ukraine. Yet Putin is being condemned. One has to wonder why. After all, he is funding separatists, just as Iran funds Hamas within Israel, for ostensibly the same reason--to supplant the nation in which they reside and seize power. Why are the Russian separatists seen as bad guys, and the Palestinians portrayed as the good guys?

 Let’s indulge in a brief history lesson. Muhammad Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti (religious authority) in Palestine in the early Twentieth Century, was a zealous Jew hater. You can see him in the top photo, advising Hitler on how to handle the Jews. He fanned the flames of Anti-Semitism and recommended what became known as the Final Solution.

Having gained favor with Hitler, al-Husayni is exiled from Palestine for inciting a rebellion from the British. He flees to Bosnia, where he encourages a union with Hitler. 100,000 Bosnian Muslims join with the Nazis. They also begin a campaign of ethnic cleansing, killing 200,000 Christian Serbs, 22,000 Jewish Bosnians, and over 40,000 Gypsies.
Flag of the Bosnian Muslim division of the Third Reich Army

 The Grand Mufti’s anti-Western, anti-Jewish philosophy remains intact after his death through a group of his acolytes known as the Muslim Brotherhood. They carried over his desire to kill the Jews and carry out a Jihad on the West. They also subscribe to essentially the same perspective as Adolf Hitler, that all the world’s troubles can be traced to Jewish influence. The Muslim Brotherhood inspires other groups, including Al Qaida, Hamas, Fatah, and others. All of these groups carry Hitler’s torch of Anti-Judaism.
It is therefore highly ironic to hear the spokesmen for Hamas compare Israelis to Nazis. The Jews learned from the Holocaust. Their motto: “Never again.” And yet President Obama and the rest of the world’s leaders encourage Israel to bargain away territory for peace, suffering death by a thousand cuts. Gaza becomes a staging area for missiles targeting Israeli civilians, and we have the audacity to ask Israel for more concessions.

There is but one path to peace, a path the gutless leaders of the Western world would deny to Israel just as they refuse to follow it themselves. No lasting peace has been achieved without an unconditional surrender by one party in a war, which follows a victory so decisive as to make a treaty a mere formality. Treaties that come without decisive victory may as well be written on toilet paper. Israel has signed treaty after treaty and granted concession after concession, all to no avail. Why? We have held them on a tight leash and kept them from achieving a decisive victory.
Hamas rules the Palestinian Authority right now. Israel knows where the leadership meets. One well-placed missile and a sudden surge would be enough to put Hamas on the defensive. Eject them and any sympathizers from Israeli territory, including any gained after the Six Day War. Retake all concessions; the terms were never honored, so Israel has no obligation to honor its part in the bargain either. Let those who supposedly sympathize with and support the Palestinians host them as refugees. This will let the world know just how much sympathy they really have. (Jordan kicked them out for rabble-rousing soon after the Six Day War.)

It is my hope that our leaders here in the U.S. would have the testicular fortitude to defend us against attack without worrying about world opinion. I would expect them to seek a decisive and unquestionable victory, and demand an unconditional surrender and end to the conflict. And, I would expect them to greet any breach of that agreement with extreme prejudice. I expect no less from Israel. We are hypocrites to require of them what we would never accept ourselves.
For a more detailed history of the link between modern anti-Israeli terrorism and the Nazis, view the video on the following link: Hitler's Mufti

If you’ve been brainwashed by a selective interpretation of history, being taught only what anti-Israeli Liberals want you to know, much of this may seem shocking to you. However, it is all factual. We will never be able to improve reality until we know what it actually is.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Edmund Burke and America 2014

I've been re-reading Edmund Burke's commentary on the French Revolution and I'm astounded at his prescience. He and Alexis de Toqueville were very prophetic in their view of things to come. Burke's tone is both comical and erudite; he pokes fun at the sacred cows of his day, political booster clubs that made grand pronouncements on world affairs as if they spoke for the nation instead of a handful of nutjobs. America is full of those, and now they have the Internet as a tool for spreading their doctrines.

Just a few quotes from Burke will show how right-on he is even when it comes to today's political situation:

"...I cannot stand forward, and give praise or blame to anything which relates to human actions, and human concerns, on a simple view of the object, as it stands stripped of every relation, in all the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction. Circumstances (which with some gentlemen pass for nothing) give in reality to every political principle its distinguishing colour and discriminating effect. The circumstances are what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind." (In other words, it's only a good idea if it actually works out in the real world.)

"I should therefore suspend my congratulations on the new liberty of France, until I was informed how it had been combined with government; with public force; with the discipline and obedience of armies; with the collection of an effective and well-distributed revenue; with morality and religion; with the solidity of property; with peace and order; with civil and social manners. All these (in their way) are good things too; and, without them, liberty is not a benefit whilst it lasts, and it is not likely to continue long." (This is a list of priorities that determine if a policy is good for society or not.)

"A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation. Without such means it might even risk the loss of that part of the constitution which it wished the most religiously to preserve." (This relates directly to the Convention of States project to amend the Constitution using Article V of the Constitution, which would allow state legislatures to fix problem with federal overreach without having the federal government itself, which is guilty of the overreach, vote on how it is done.)

"A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper, and confined views." (As good a description of Progressivism as I've ever heard.)

"Compute your gains: see what is got by those extravagant and presumptuous speculations which have taught your leaders to despise all their predecessors, and all their contemporaries, and even to despise themselves, until the moment in which they become truly despicable. [...] This was unnatural. The rest is in order. They have found their punishment in their success. Laws overturned; tribunals subverted; industry without vigor; commerce expiring; the revenue unpaid, yet the people impoverished; a church pillaged, and a state not relieved; civil and military anarchy made the constitution of the kingdom; everything human and divine sacrificed to the idol of the public credit, and national bankruptcy the consequence; and, to crown all, the paper securities of new, precarious, tottering power, the discredited paper securities of impoverished fraud and beggared rapine, held out as a currency for support of an empire..."

That last quote is uncanny, especially when you compare it to the current state of affairs in the United States. We are being led by ideologues who despise their own country and its traditions. The Progressives want to tax churches. We borrow spend trillions on "economic stimulus" and yet our middle class is drying up. We are printing a paper currency based on nothing, using a fancy term like "quantitative easing" to justify it as a good instead of a means of devaluing the dollar. In other words, we are doing everything the French revolutionaries did wrong. Can we really expect a different outcome?

Edmund Burke's central thesis, that traditions exist because they accomplished a good for society and should not be tossed aside lightly, is the core of Conservatism. The Neo Con revolution has subverted true Conservatism in our country. Radicalism under the guise of Free Market Capitalism and the Bush Doctrine have replaced the wisdom of our Founders. If even our so-called Conservatives are radicals, we're really in trouble.

Anyone who calls himself a Conservative should read Reflections on the Revolution in France. Those of you who think that the current Republican policy positions represent Conservatism will be in for a shock.

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Conservatives" and Education: Why is local control such a radical idea?

The State of Indiana is meddling again. We have a solid Republican legislature, a Republican governor, and a Conservative state supreme court. Nevertheless, the state thinks it's perfectly alright to mandate exactly how local school boards do their business. They feel the need to reach into every classroom and have people who've never taught a single lesson in school decide what form of pedagogy works best. They have seized property taxes from local municipalities and used it to enforce their pet theories with an iron fist. All of this has been done, ostensibly, in the name of Conservatism.

Even talk radio hosts have jumped on this bandwagon. Both Limbaugh and Hannity tend to paint the lack of positive outcomes for certain students as a problem of the local schools, something changeable by legislative (i.e. state-level) means. Yet, in all other areas, they extol the virtues of governance at the most local level possible. They cite the overspending caused by unnecessary bureaucracy. They cite the unresponsiveness of a distant and cumbersome centralized government. They cite the wastefulness of collecting funds from local areas and then redistributing a fraction of that money back to the same places it was taken from. In all of this they are absolutely right. For some reason, there is a disconnect between the principles of true Conservatism and so-called Conservatives' opinions on public education.

Can it be said that state control of local school policies has improved our educational standing compared to the rest of the world? Certainly not, and these selfsame pundits are constantly citing the widening gulf in achievement between the United States and the rest of the industrialized world. They have bought wholesale into the Progressive idea that equalizing funding via state redistribution schemes will equalize achievement, yet we can all see that this notion has completely failed. The same people who deny that funding makes a difference in achievement are perfectly fine with norming funding so that all schools within a state spend the same amount per pupil.

I suppose that makes me either an extreme right-winger or a liberal, depending upon whether you consider public education to be exempt from the principles that govern the rest of Conservative thought. I, for one, don't think so. Let's keep the state's paws out of local schools. They've done enough harm already.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Shutdown and the Debt Clock

Listening to the radio the other day, I noted that Glenn Beck was ranting about the debt clock being unrealistically slow, as if to say that it's being slowed down to make Obama look good. Normally, the debt clock is running so fast that the numbers on the end are just an unreadable blur. To see what the debt is at any point in time, go to this site. Hit refresh every second or two and you can see our national debt go up by a few tens of thousands of dollars. It's great fun!

It then occurred to me that America was in the midst of a government "shutdown," meaning that only the essential functions of government were in operation -- the military, national security, etc. Because of this, our rate of expenditure was drastically lower than normal, so our debt was increasing very slowly. (Sadly, though, it was still increasing.)

I also noted that Wall Street was on the rise through most of the shutdown. Could it be that a less-intrusive government is actually good for the economy? Could it be that supply-side, free-market economics actually works? Though analysts were constantly reporting on Wall Street, none of them even brought up this question. Even FOX analysts reported on the numbers as if Wall Street was hoping the shutdown would end; no one got the real lesson: Less government = good business.

I realize that the Republicans lost the war of words over the shutdown. Well, it's hard to win a war when you're only fighting defensively. As usual, the Republican Party chose to respond to criticism rather than level any. They chose to allow President Obama to set the tone and framework of the argument. I should have seen every Republican leader in Washington angrily wagging a finger at the president, laying the blame for the shutdown squarely on his shoulders. He refused to even discuss the issue, holding the nation hostage over a pet program he himself admits needs to be improved. He refused to fund individual programs, sent one-by-one, in a tantrum of epic proportions. He failed to respect the Constitutional framework which grants the power of the purse to the House of Representatives. He ignored the will of the people, the vast majority of whom are dead-set against his ironically-named Affordable Health Care Act.

The Republican Party should have been spending wads of money on a barrage of attack ads on radio, television, and the Internet. Instead, they allowed themselves to be whipped into submission. Why do the spineless ones always get control of our party? How do they do it? You would think the assertive would be the logical winners in a power struggle. It makes no sense to me.

The debt clock will soon be a giant digital blur in the sky. It saddens me. For a brief time, we almost had our spending under control. It makes me wonder, why does the government even hire workers who are nonessential in the first place? Perhaps that is the most important issue, again ignored by the media, to come out of this whole debacle.