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Monday, November 19, 2012

R.I.P. Hostess

I have a decent collection of old comic books, many from the 1970s that were passed down by my dad. Some of the most common advertisements in these comics, aside from the ads for X-ray specs and BB guns, were ads featuring superheroes pacifying villains by giving them Hostess snacks. It's classic Americana.

What's sad is that, in the era when these ads were current, childhood obesity was not a large-scale issue. Michelle Obama would have nothing to complain about. Teaching middle school, at least a third of my students are overweight. (I can't talk on that issue, but let's not go there.) In the 1970s and 1980s, kids were, on average, much leaner. I was the chubby kid in middle school, but I'd be about average in a modern classroom. Of course, we spent a lot of time outside in those days, playing football in the street, climbing trees, and shooting walnuts at each other in the backyard with home-made slingshots. These are, of course, things many parents are far too cautious to allow modern children to do.

Still, Hostess wasn't shut down for health reasons. It closed because of a poor economy and the refusal of the bakers' union to make any concessions. Instead of taking a pay cut of a few percent, they decided to force everyone, even members of other unions, to lose 100 percent. That was smart, wasn't it?

Now, I'm not anti-union by any means. I belong to a union, albeit a rather ineffective one, and staunchly support the right of workers to bargain cooperatively. However, the bakers' union failed to address one critical component in its decision-making: reality. Hostess was already going through bankruptcy proceedings. Add in Obamacare expenditures (most companies are having to pay a lot more for health care under the new legislation), and you're going to have to cut costs somewhere. There is greater competition in the current market. Store brands, Little Debbie, all have cut into Hostess' revenue stream. Add to that the effects of increased fuel costs (you have to deliver the goods) and a lousy economy, and Hostess was simply forced to either cut pay  or close its doors. When the bakers' union decided to call what it assumed was a bluff, Hostess folded.

I wonder how many other beloved American companies will fold in the next few years? Will they be able to meet the demands of increased regulation, unfunded mandates, and higher taxes that President Obama has promised are in store? How many more American jobs will be lost in the foolish pursuit of socialism? With Hostess alone, we lost 18,000.

Thank you, President Obama. We now have one less company to pay your increasing tax burden. I'm guessing this will be the start of a trend. Now, I have to get to the grocery store and grab a box of Hostess Cup Cakes. I'll have my own little memorial service for them later.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Leaping Off the Cliff

President Obama is attempting to use the coming "fiscal cliff," or the enactment of a set of laws designed to drastically reduce deficit spending, as a threat to induce Congress to, you guessed it, spend more money and tax those institutions that drive the economy.

Oddly enough, what Obama's stick in this scenario is the same, from the Republican perspective, as what he's trying to get Republicans to agree to. The two parts of this fiscal cliff are:

1. Increase taxation of higher-end earners in an attempt to increase revenue.

2. Sharply reduce spending with across-the-board spending cuts.

What Obama is asking for is that Republicans agree to enact the first part of the cliff and avoid the second half. Now, I may be just a naive sap, but the second half of the cliff doesn't seem so bad from a conservative perspective. Republicans wouldn't see that as a threat. As a Republican, I'd be telling Obama to go rot in Hell. At least spending will finally be cut.

President Obama, along with most Democrats, doesn't understand much about economics. Raising taxes often reduces revenue, and lowering them raises it. It worked for G.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and John F. Kennedy. Anyone who has played Sim City knows how this works. Overtaxing causes businesses to either shut down or relocate. You can't get revenue from businesses that aren't there anymore. Case closed.

Here's a graphic of projected deficit spending, with or without the fiscal cliff legislation being enacted. The flat line in the middle represents spending exactly what we take in.

The gray area represents how far from balancing the budget we will be if we stay on the course we are currently following--massive debt. The blue area represents where we'd be if the fiscal cliff was enacted.

I'd rather see lower deficits, thank you. Of course, we'd get there even faster with a combination of spending, tax and regulation cuts. However, President Obama is unlikely to allow that route due to his rigid ideology.

Ah, screw it. Let's jump off the cliff and see what happens. How could it be worse?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Don't be a teacher!

If there is one bit of advice I can give to those thinking of going into the field of K-12 education, it is to find another profession. Don't waste another minute, another red cent pursuing this goal.

I know why you want to teach. You have a kind heart and want to benefit future generations by helping them to become intelligent and knowledgeable. You believe that you can make a difference in the lives of your students, perhaps even the neediest of students. You are a noble individual and believe society will value your nobility, that you will be allowed to use your talents and good intentions to help America's youth.

You couldn't be more wrong.

Teachers are no longer valued by society. The very government agencies you work for see you as cogs in a machine, inefficient ones at that. The classroom in which you work will never be yours; while teachers were ones the rulers of their kingdoms, they are now little better than serfs assigned to a plot of land. Your feudal lords inspect your plot daily, not to offer a helping hand but to find excuses to beat you down. If the land is dry or there is a blight killing your crops, the problem is assumed to be yours alone.

Whoever you are, you deserve a better life than that.

The worst part is that, after teaching for a few years, you become pigeon-holed into the career. I've been teaching for over a decade. My resume is a lead weight around my neck. Whenever I apply for a job, my potential employers cannot help but notice that my professional career is one-dimensional. Sure, I've worked as a freelance business analyst. Sure, I have a Master's degree in public policy. What employers see is a dozen years as a classroom educator. That makes it very difficult to get an interview.

If I had it all to do over, I'd have chosen a different path. Engineering would have been a good fit, or perhaps public administration. I would have been capable of either. Now, I'd have to tackle the challenge of entering a field as a novice near the age of forty. It isn't easy to be considered for an entry-level position in a profession at my age. Believe me; I spent all of last summer trying.

I am still seeking something new. What's sad is that I love teaching, when I'm allowed to do it. My methods have proven successful, whether or not they fit the latest research-based fad. I just got out of a meeting where we were advised to stop following a model we had been trained in and to follow a newer model. Both teaching styles are backed by a plethora of research. I guess one has picked up more momentum among those who think they can teach better than actual teachers.

After twenty years of increased micromanagement of what goes on in classrooms, our country elected a president who promises to accrue massive debt, seize the profits of those companies still making any money, and somehow improve the national economy by doing so. Apparently all of this "school improvement" hasn't made the American voter any smarter.

I got into education because of Thomas Jefferson's assertion that a republic requires an informed citizenry. Well, I'm not allowed to inform the citizenry anymore. If I spend more than ten minutes informing them, my lesson is judged as too "teacher driven." Unless they spend at least half of their time doing worksheets, I'm not doing my job.

I want to choke something.

I'm still looking for a job that will pay enough to support my family and allow me to use my talents and expertise without making them moot by scripting my every move. Any suggestions?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

How conservatives should respond to this election

Analyzing election data, a couple of salient points appear. They do not bode well for our democracy, in case you were wondering. I am beginning to believe that this race was won via massive, systemic fraud. I know, I know, it sounds like something a Gore loser would say, but hear me out. By the end of this article, I think you'll agree with me.

The Electoral Map

Take a look at the following maps, first of how the electoral college results turned out:

Now look at this map of states requiring photo I.D. to be shown at the polling place:

Green states are those in which a photo I.D. requirement is mandatory, as opposed to allowing for some other form of identification, such as recent bills, etc. Of course, without a photo I.D. there is no way to ensure that the person doing the voting is the actual person registered.

Do you notice anything? All states with a voter I.D. requirement were taken by Romney, and handily so. What does this suggest? In states where there was no way for, let's say, deceased voters to vote (or at least for someone to vote in their name), or for non-existent voters to be registered and then be used as decoys so people could vote in more than one precinct, Obama didn't stand a chance.

Notice that the Republicans are consistently in favor of both photo identification for voters and mandating that proof of citizenship be presented at the time and place of registration. Republicans are also the ones who call for regular "scrubbing" of the voter registration rolls, eliminating those who have deceased between elections and those who are not verified to be American citizens.

Democrats, on the other hand, are consistently opposed to the idea of verifying voter eligibility. Any attempt to ensure the legality of votes is considered to be an effort to suppress the minority vote, and in a certain sense this is true. After all, deceased and non-citizen voters are, hopefully, a minority. However, the claim that increasing the effort required for registration will disproportionately affect minorities is downright racist.

Think about it. To assume that requiring voters to present proof of citizenship at registration and a photo I.D. at the polls will disproportionately affect minorities, one must also assume that minorities are either less able or less willing to go through the trouble of obtaining these documents. In other words, there is an inherent assumption of laziness, disorganization, or stupidity. Such an assumption is racist on its face.

Republicans must push for laws that mandate the presentation of citizenship documents at registration and a photo identification at the polling place. This must be a consistent effort over decades, if necessary, until such laws exist in every state. The best bet is to push such legislation forward quietly during midterm elections, in the case of ballot propositions, so as to benefit from the turnout differential Republicans typically have in less-media-saturated election years.

Republicans must also push for laws that require the voter rolls to be inspected and "scrubbed" between each election cycle. This is essential. Opportunities to commit voter fraud (and yes, it is fraud when non-citizens vote) must be eliminated.

The Power of a Few Cities

The electoral college map above tells only a limited story. A much more interesting story is told when the election results are broken down by county:

As in the state-by-state map, red counties voted for Romney and blue ones voted for Obama. Geographically, it is evident that the vast majority of America wanted Romney for president. Even in most states Obama won, the geographical majority voted for Romney.

Having lived both in the San Francisco Bay Area and in a more rural area north of Sacramento, I am acutely aware that California is politically two states. The coast votes Democrat, while the interior is solidly Republican. Subtracting the votes from Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, California is a far-Right conservative state.

The same is true of Illinois, even more dramatically, as well as Florida and Pennsylvania. Were New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Oakland, Chicago, Detroit and Miami eliminated from the equation, no Democrat would ever be elected to the presidency again. Before any insane Leftist jumps to the wrong conclusion, I am not advocating violence or even the mass deportation of American citizens. Nevertheless, the disproportionate power of these urban zones is troubling, both from the Republican perspective and for the preservation of our democracy.

What has occurred in California, Michigan, and Illinois is that the lazy have acquired sufficient numbers to force the rest of the state to pay for their wants and needs. Hence, people in Gridley, California pay taxes to enable the sloth and drug addiction of people in Los Angeles. Aside from simply abandoning these states altogether, there is only one solution to this problem. Republicans must push for ballot initiatives to divide electoral votes proportionately between the candidates, especially in key states such as California and Illinois. In fact, had Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Illinois and New York been split proportionately, the final tally would have been Obama with 259 electoral votes and Romney with 276. (You can do the math yourself using figures from here.)

Thus, Republicans need to make every effort, for decades if need be, to enact proportionate electoral vote laws in these states. Every time a Democrat sweeps California, forty percent of Californians are disenfranchised. This needs to stop.

The Census

A final nail in the coffin of Democratic shenanigans would be to pass a law to the effect that only citizens are to be counted during the census, or at least that only the number of citizens will affect reapportionment. This would dramatically reduce the electoral power of high-immigration states like New York and California. Why should non-citizens, many of whom are not even here legally, enable some citizens to be over-represented? If only full-fledged citizens were factored into legislative district apportionment, the balance of power would revert to something much more accurate.

In Short...

There is still hope for America, but much work remains to be done. We cannot allow our democracy to be stolen from us. It is more important to ensure that the democratic process is still legitimate than to worry about the image we would present by making it so. Symbolism may make us feel good, but we're screwed if our republic has lost its substance.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

¿Qué diablos? (What the hell?)

Barack Obama won a second term. Tocqueville was right. Once the indolent realize they can vote themselves wealth from those who produce, the republic is over.

It was a good run, America, while it lasted.

For those of us who can see down the road, it's time to start buying food storage supplies. That includes guns, ammunition, and camping equipment. Learn to fish. Learn to hunt. Learn to forage. Skin and cook your own meat, just to make sure you know how.

We can't keep running huge debt and maintain a viable economy. There are not enough people producing to provide for those who refuse to pull their own weight. They are now a majority. We'll have to feed our own kids and the children of those who refuse to get off the couch.

It's Atlas Shrugged time. I never thought I'd live to see this day. I hoped I never would. Two states legalized recreational marijuana use. Both states have generous welfare programs. Putting two and two together, our taxes will be paying for people to smoke dope and amount to nothing. Munchies? Food stamps will buy you a bag of Hot Cheetos.

One possible reaction? All of us who are tired of feeding the leeches could simply quit and do as they do. With nobody to pay taxes, the freebies would necessarily end. Then we could pick up the pieces and start over. As despondent as I am now, it's the only solution I can see.

I have some election data to analyze. We may not have lost the majority, but simply the legitimacy of our democracy. I'll get back to you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wait... There's a Mexican in this race? Why Mitt Romney would be our first Mexican-American president

It's election day, the day our nation celebrates its greatest sacrament, the renewal of our democracy.(Okay, we're a republic, but we elect our representatives democratically.) Much ado has been made of having our first African-American president, and perhaps we were right to celebrate that aspect of things. Granted, I'd have hoped for a better individual to make that milestone, but at least we can say we've done it. Fait accompli, as it were.

Still, I wish we had elected someone of the caliber of a Colin Powell, Condi Rice, or even Alan Keyes. Okay, I threw Keyes in there because I voted for him in two Republican primaries, but any rational thinker must admit that he would have been a much better FBP (First Black President) than Barack Obama. He certainly would have done more to defeat stereotypes about the way African-Americans see their place in society.

Now we have the opportunity for another couple of historic accomplishments. We could, by electing Mitt Romney, elect both our first Mormon president and our first Mexican-American president.

Yes, I said Mexican-American.

Sure, Romney's a guero (Spanish for white guy), but his dad was born in Mexico, making him as Mexican-American as any other child of Mexican immigrants. You see, Mexico isn't a race; it's a country. There are Black, White, Native American, and Oriental Mexicans, just as there are U.S. citizens of all of those races. Granted, most Mexicans are mestizos, mixed-heritage people with Spanish and Aztec or Mayan roots. Sure, the Romneys moved to Mexico as the result of fleeing religious persecution, but there are still plenty of Romneys living in Mexico today.

Okay, you say, hold on a minute. His dad may be from Mexico, but that doesn't mean he was a real Mexican. Let's try that logic out to see how well it works. If an Asian immigrant to the United States has a child here, is that child not a real American? Well of course he is, we all chime in. So how is Romney's case different?

I think it would gall racists on both sides of the aisle to consider Mitt Romney our first Mexican-American president. Liberal racists define Mexicans as brown people with thick accents who are underprivileged and in need of social services. Right wing racists define Mexicans as drug-running border jumpers. Neither of those definitions fit Mitt Romney, making his "Mexicanity" a difficult thing for racists to wrap their tiny minds around.

Here's hoping I awaken tomorrow to news that we've elected out first Mexican-American president.

¡Viva Mitt Romney!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Election 2012 and the Stupid Effect

It's been quite a while since my last post, and with things looking up for Romney I feel like gloating a bit. However, I'm sure it would be unbecoming of me and thus will refrain. With Mitt up in the polls according to Gallup (and, heck, even in Yahoo!'s poll when I voted), it's really hard. Still, it ain't over 'till the fat lady sings, and Rosie O'Donnell has been awful quiet lately.

You know it looks bad when your California liberal Democrat family members don't like Obama. Even some I know who have expressed to me an anti-Mormon bias are voting for Romney, which goes to show that, yes, we still enjoy freedom of religion here in the United States. I'm glad to see that the Atheist liberal mafia have once again underestimated the intelligence of the Evangelical Christian community. They may disagree with Romney on whether or not Joseph Smith was a prophet, but they are smart enough to realize that Obama represents the only real threat to their Christian liberty this election.

I am a bit discouraged at the fact that even the blatantly stupid are allowed to vote in this country. To whit, there is a Twitter rumor circulating that Mitt Romney plans to ban hair weaves once in office. Thousands have voiced outrage at this dastardly plot to limit Americans' hairstyle choices. Wow, there are a lot of stupid people out there.

Just to be clear, there are idiots on both sides of the aisle. There are conservatives who staunchly insist that Barack Obama is a closet Muslim. To make this assumption, they have to ignore the fact that he holds beer summits (Muslims don't drink), supports gay marriage, and has a wife who yells at him. (Okay, that last one was an assumption, but just looking at Michelle makes me think she can get pretty cross.)

I've been told by several middle school students that they've heard Romney only cares about rich white people. As a teacher, I have to say nothing, but sometimes I ask, "Oh, really? Where did the person who told you this come by that information?" Sadly, all I get is a blank stare; the idea that one has to justify his assertions is beyond most people, especially middle school students. Worse yet, I'm fairly certain they got this information at home from people no more factually discerning than themselves.

This period in an election is where the circus antics come out. The zombies who rise on Halloween will stay around to vote Democrat a week later. (Dead people always vote Democrat for some reason.) Expect non-citizens and even illegal immigrants to flood the polls in key states. Expect any and every attempt to keep things honest to be decried as racism by the liberals in the media. Expect a Romney win to be denounced as evidence that America is still racist.

You know, if you go through life with rose-colored lenses, you'll tend to see a lot of roses. The same principle applies to those who see racism everywhere they look.

I expect Romney to win by a larger margin than anyone predicted. The polls will start to come around soon, owing to the fact that if they keep fudging the numbers their undeserved credibility will evaporate once the election makes it obvious to everyone that they were trying to shape public opinion rather than report it.

I have high hopes this November. I think business will begin to rebound once corporations have been assured that they will not be punished for prospering. The dependency class will have to go get jobs, but once they obtain the sense of dignity that comes from earning their way in life, they may well switch political allegiances. After all, if the Republican constituency is the well-off, it logically follows that they would want to have as high a percentage of well-off voters as possible. Thus, their policies would be designed to achieve that goal. A corollary to this argument is that Democrats, who stand for the poor, benefit most politically from maximizing poverty and government dependency. If one makes the cynical-yet-accurate observation that politicians do whatever they can to keep themselves in power, it stands to reason that the poor should be voting en masse for Republicans if they want to better their circumstances.

Well, it's only a couple of short weeks until election day. Don't screw this up, America!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What makes us human?

There's a lot of talk in liberal circles about gay marriage and the right of gays to marry whomever it is they feel attracted to. As a Christian, the idea repulses me, and in the Bible it is clearly forbidden. Speaking to liberals, however, even those who consider themselves Christian, this argument is thrown out. They will not hear that God has declared it an abomination (Leviticus 20:13), or that those who practice such things are excluded from exaltation (Galatians 5:19 - 21). As Christians, we are taught in scripture that such sins may be erased through repentance. However, to liberals, the idea that a homosexual should strive to overcome this temptation is anathema.

Some commenters on other posts have responded with the idea that homosexuality cannot be outside of the natural order of things for two reasons. First, if humans do it, and we are part of nature, then it must be part of the natural order. Second, members of other species engage in it, so it is not unique to humans and therefore natural for all species. Both arguments are invalid, as I will proceed to explain.

The first argument is easy to refute using liberals' own logic. Humans pollute. We manufacture and drive around Hummers. We fill the air with toxins and (according to most liberals) are causing global temperatures to spike dangerously. Species are disappearing because of us evil humans. We are destroying nature. If anything humans do is inherently part of the natural order, then we shouldn't worry about such things. Nature must want this to happen, or we wouldn't be doing it. If nature wants to destroy itself, who are we to object? We should not interfere with what is natural, but should simply go with it. If humans want to do it, it's good and natural.

Of course, I don't know of anyone, liberal or conservative, who would agree with that argument. Apply it to sexual behavior, however, and somehow liberals find it totally acceptable. Indeed, liberals have no problem judging and restricting a whole host of human behaviors: smoking, eating or drinking calorie-laden food or beverages, speaking out about one's most profound religious convictions in public spaces, defending oneself against aggression by means of deadly force; the list goes on and on. However, when it comes to sexual activity, everything goes. If you want to engage in sadomasochistic violence for sexual reasons, it's your constitutional right. If you want to have sex and produce offspring with a string of women, who's to stop you? Sexual expression is fine and dandy in all its various forms. Bestiality? Just make sure the animal enjoys it too. If these activities lead to death and disease, with expensive medications being paid for out of public monies? This is as it should be. The alternative is to (gasp!) encourage people to refrain from giving in to whatever sexual impulses they might have. However, commercials against smoking and drug use are fine, and restricting propaganda designed to encourage smoking is entirely proper. After all, we will all have to pay for their treatment when they are dying of cancer and heart disease.

The second argument has already been refuted by none other than acclaimed primatologist Jane Goodall. When asked whether homosexual acts between apes implies that the impulse is also natural to humans, she corrected the very premise of the question. Apes are never homosexual. They do not engage in anal sex; they engage in mounting behavior. No penetration is involved. Mounting behavior is a sign of dominance. It is one male saying to another, "I am stronger than you are. I am able to treat you as if you were a female. You must obey me as such." This same behavior exists in many other species. My family raised Chihuahuas for many years. An older male Chihuahua was accustomed to mounting both our female and, from time to time, the smaller male Chihuahua. The smaller male would growl and nip at the larger one, but he was dominated and humiliated, essentially put in his place. Interestingly enough, as the larger male grew older and the smaller male proved much more virile, the smaller male began to mount the larger one, who would nip and object just as the younger male had done. In addition, the female would mount the poor old dog as well to demonstrate her dominance. Part of me wonders if this theme of dominance may indeed contribute to the psychology of human behaviors, but that is a discussion for another time.

Humans are different from animals precisely because we are capable of controlling and directing our instinctual behavior. We have sufficient intellect to judge between constructive and destructive behavior, between right and wrong. Refusal to judge in this manner is a refusal to engage in full humanity. Do I believe homosexuality should be illegal? No, for it would deprive people of the opportunity to choose between right and wrong. A people forced to behave nobly never have the chance to become noble for their own reasons. People must be free to choose between good and evil, so long as their choices do not endanger others or deprive them of their own right to choose.

However, it would be foolish for society to place a stamp of approval for a behavior that offers no positives and plenty of negatives. The legal recognition of marriage between a man and a woman exists to encourage stability within family units. The more reproductive partners remain loyal to each other, the less government must step in and clean up the mess. Homosexuals do indeed adopt, but so do heterosexual couples. I myself was only able to produce one child the "old fashioned" way, and so adopted three more children. I love them as my own. Marriage is not a prerequisite for adoption, so the argument that gays should be able to marry because of adoption is specious at best.

The relationship between a husband and wife is the basis for any and all societal order. As marriage has become less and less common among reproductive partners, society has suffered. Illegitimacy is the greatest predictor of childhood poverty. Let us not compound this problem by removing from marriage any distinguishment from a mere formalizing of sexual relationships. It is much more than this. Homosexual pairings are inherently different from those which are the basis of a marriage. Technically, homosexuals do not engage in sex at all, if you define sex as intercourse. On that basis, homosexual relationships may not even qualify as sexual in nature at all.

It amazes me that we have so lost our moral bearings that things which were universally acknowledged as immoral a short while ago are now being considered for recognition as valid and legally binding by the government. This is a classic case of defining deviancy down. You may disagree with me, but please address my arguments. Do not engage in ad hominem, though such tactics are a favorite of the liberal and amoral. I pray that we, as a nation, will continue to have the common sense to distinguish between things that are obviously different, and thus by definition, unequal. I fear for the day we are no longer able to do so.

We will have abandoned one of the key characteristics that make us human.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Romney: Why and how he will beat Obama

Mitt Romney has finally won the Republican primary election. He is the first Mormon ever to do so, though his father came close a generation ago. All that aside, he now faces an incumbent president who has aligned an array of narrowly partisan groups into a formidable voting bloc. President Obama has pandered to gays (approximately 1.5% of the population), Hispanics (closer to 12.5%), and already has a stranglehold on the African-American population (amounting to 12.3%). This data comes from, a non-partisan data gathering organization. Grant him atheists (at 0.4%) and registered Democrats (at 31% of the population) and we come to a grand total of 57.7%. Assuming that nearly all gays and African-Americans (about 90%) would register as Democrats and that roughly sixty-five percent of Hispanics align themselves with the Democrat party and you have a rough estimate of Obama's assembled voting bloc, virtually guaranteed, at 47.3% of the population (adding in majorities of Jews and Asians who also tend to vote Democratic). This assembled array of minorities and partisans closely aligns with Obama's reported AP-GfK poll data reporting that 47% of respondents would vote for Obama if the election were held today.

What challenges does this pose for Mitt Romney? First, he will have to break through some of the traditional barriers posed to any and all Republican candidates. While Republicans have been making steady progress in attracting Hispanic voters, Obama's unilateral (and unconstitutional) amnesty proposal has had real and measurable effects on voting preferences, essentially shoring up that part of his bloc. Given Black misconceptions about Mormonism, Romney will have a difficult time winning over that group. Gays are virtually a lost cause. This leaves former Obama voters in the Asian, Jewish, and White categories.

There is a marked disillusionment with Obama in these groups. Simply from my wife's conversations with her side of the family, uniformly liberal in political orientation, nobody is happy with Obama's performance. They either wanted more socialism or less, more jobs, faster withdrawal from foreign entanglements, and other promises kept which were not. These are the voters who will enable Romney to win in November. This is Obama's Achilles' heel. He has lost the support of White, middle class America. This group, counting only registered Democrats, accounts for twenty-three of his forty-seven percent voting bloc. If they fail to vote, or switch to vote for a Republican who is at least perceived as being fairly moderate, Obama will lose. The excitement over having the first Black president elected has ebbed. Mission accomplished! Voters are now beginning to judge him by his performance, which has been extremely poor.

I think Romney will handily win this election. To enable this, Republicans will have to be extra vigilant about voter fraud, especially with regard to non-citizens voting. The illegal immigrants (and even legal immigrants who are not citizens) cannot legally vote and should be prevented from doing so, yet there have been many instances in which voting by non-citizens has been documented, even in very close elections. If the Republican party can control this factor, Obama's pandering to illegal immigrants will lose much of its benefit and become, in fact, a disadvantage with the vast majority of voters who are against amnesty.

Republicans will likely show up in droves, increasing the traditional gulf between Republicans and Democrats who actually cast ballots on election day. Certainly many Democrats will also participate, but the advantage held by the historic quality of the last election will be greatly diminished. There is much stronger antipathy for Obama among voters than there is excitement for his candidacy.

Romney's task now is to speak aggressively for conservative principles, explain why and how his ideas will revitalize the economy, and attack the Obama record using facts and figures. Americans have become increasingly savvy about economics and how government policy affects such matters, especially those who vote. Talk radio has been a driving force behind this, even for liberals, who must now attempt to refute the arguments of their conservative peers. This means that the voting public will be able to follow detailed explanations of how and why Obama's policies have weakened the economy and why a conservative alternative would strengthen it. Romney is just the person to make that argument.

Obama will likely use ad hominem attacks against Romney's business acumen, attempting to use class envy and misinformation to turn a positive into a negative in the minds of voters. Facts and raw data, clearly presented, will overcome this. Paint Obama as he is, a narrow partisan who ignores reality and the nation's well-being in favor of his pet ideas, and Romney will win by a landslide.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Realistic accountability will retain good teachers

Everyone believes that teachers and schools should be accountable for the quality of their efforts, and rightly so. Teachers are supportive of that notion as well, so long as the methods of measuring accountability are based on something tangible and realistic. Random and subjective methods of evaluating teacher performance are frustrating and lead to a loss of morale, ultimately resulting in a lack of qualified teachers. Such a situation is bad for all stakeholders: teachers, students, parents, and society in general.

The State of Indiana has put together something called the RISE rubric, which it deems to be a fair and effective way to measure teacher effectiveness. To be fair, the skills measured by the rubric are indeed important to quality instruction. However, the method of acquiring those scores is subjective, random, and largely based upon the personality and biases of the person performing the evaluation.

It is likely to improve in the next few years as districts come up with ways to tailor the RISE rubric to their own situations. Urban teachers are likely to score much lower in areas such as classroom management and lesson pacing, for example, since urban culture does not mesh well with the traditional models of education. Vocal volume tends to be higher in urban classrooms, and students tend to be less on-task, at least to the casual observer. In my experience as an urban teacher, some of the most seemingly inattentive students are able to absorb classroom material and retain that information amazingly well, even compared to the quiet, manse students from whom one would typically expect better results.

Using the RISE criteria, if students are discussing other subjects while working on a group project, the teacher's management skills and/or lesson planning are deemed to fall into the  "Needs Improvement" category or, even worse, be "Ineffective." If a teacher should have to remind a few students to stay on track during independent practice (math problems, etc.), it is chalked up to poor planning and discipline. Even the content of class projects is put under the microscope, which will ultimately lead to teachers who are unwilling to think beyond the by-the-book types of lessons and experiment with ideas that really enhance absorption of the material.

As a new teacher in middle school social studies, I felt free to invent very involved projects that allowed my students to experience history and really get a feel for the cultures being studied. We used meditation and chanting to memorize the Chinese dynasties in order, complete with lotus position (for those flexible enough) and a bell to ring in between recitations. We practiced jousting with wooden shields and foam-tipped lances, students balanced on their knees on the backs of larger classmates. We designed suits of armor and constructed them using metallic poster board. We built sections of the Great Wall of China and linked them to make our own model that circled the classroom. In short, we made the material come alive.

When the principal walked in from time to time, he did not balk at the volume of the students as they cheered for their friends while jousting. He did not ask which standards were being addressed by building a suit of armor. He understood that such enrichment added to students' appreciation for history. In fact, every time I met former students in public, even years and years later, the students would recite the dynasties in order just to show me they still knew them.

As a Spanish teacher, I try to enhance grammar with cultural experiences and use art as a means to enhance comprehension. Students build their own piñatas and do other projects that enhance their experience in class. They illustrate picture dictionaries to access the visual memory area of their brains, associating new words with the tactile and visual process of creating art. From a pedagogical, brain function perspective, such activities are highly effective. When my principal dropped in for his hour-long random evaluation visit, he derided the picture dictionaries as an ineffective use of time, essentially a waste. My principal is a former science teacher. He has never taught a foreign language. I have taught Spanish as a bilingual instructor, at the middle school level, and as an adjunct college professor. In all areas, my results have been outstanding. Indeed, even this year, one hundred percent of my students in the high school credit class passed their End of Course Assessments with a score of eighty percent or higher, exceeding the "Highly Effective" standard of ninety-eight percent. My end-of-year RISE rubric score? "Needs Improvement." Why? During two of the four random visits, three of which occurred when I was with my least cooperative class, I had to remind a few students to remain on-task. I was punished in my evaluation for using twenty-five minutes of class to make picture dictionaries. Although my results were solid, I was punished for my methods, even though they produced outstanding results.

I am seeking asylum in another state, or perhaps a change of occupation is in order. If I am limited to teaching in a manner dictated by a state agency whose members have not been teaching for decades, if at all, I cannot be the kind of teacher I want to be. If my results count for less than teaching "by the book," why am I doing this? I may soon be one of the many teachers to abandon the sinking ship. Experiments in education do not always succeed. Every creative lesson risks failure, but to abandon creativity means admitting defeat, refusing to adapt to the interests of students. I do not want to be a teacher in such an environment.

For more information on the RISE rubric, go to this link. I warn you, it looks good on paper. In practice, however, it is destined to result in stale lessons taught by overly cautious teachers. At least results will count for something next year; they counted for nothing this year. Had they counted, I would have been rated an "Effective" teacher. Such inconsistency and injustice is pushing me, as well as many other teachers, out of the system. Fewer and fewer college students are enrolling in teacher training programs. Well, the state has made its bed. I just feel sorry for the students who will have to lie in it.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I'm no moderate, just an unorthodox extremist

While my political views are overwhelmingly conservative, there are areas in which I disagree with what the pundits call conservative orthodoxy. Do I believe in fiscal responsibility? Of course. Do I believe we need a strong military, including missile defense? Hell yes! Do I believe abortion is murder? By definition. Do I believe that government which governs least governs best? Definitely.

I am what you might call a Jeffersonian Republican. The federal government has its role, but it should not overshadow the states or the individual. I'm excited about the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a program in which a majority of states have come together to adopt universal standards for what is to be taught without federal intervention. This is a good first step. Thomas Jefferson would have approved, as he was the first prominent spokesperson for the idea of common schools.

Education in public schools is essential to having a common culture. I've seen it for many years as an educator. So long as we have immigration, we will need public schools. Assimilation will never occur in an education environment dominated by an array of narrowly-tailored private and charter schools. Why go to a school with the infidel, for example, when you can establish an all-Islamic school at government expense? Why learn to blend in when you can simply exist within the comfortable cocoon of your own ethnicity? Public schools not only routinely outperform charters (see data here), but also perform social functions private institutions simply cannot match.

Republicans also tend to give the concept of free trade quite a lot of undeserved credit. America is undergoing so much dumping (the sale of cut-rate merchandise that destroys native manufacturing) that it isn't funny. I'm all for free trade, all being equal. But all is not equal. We are competing against totalitarian dictatorships who force their citizens to work at slave wages in unsafe conditions. We are facing nations who manipulate their currency to make their goods sell for less internationally. We are giving nations a free pass on tariffs that tax our goods at such a rate that their government often makes more from the purchase of our goods than our own companies do.

I say we tax foreign goods, category by category, at the same rate they tax ours. I say we establish our own exchange rates for foreign currencies; what's good for the goose is good for the gander. I say we abolish income taxes in general and establish a national sales tax of twenty percent on all goods except food, medicine, utilities, and any housing in the first three quartiles of home values for each state. This may sound like a lot of taxes, but when you consider the percentage of one's income that goes to mundane expenses, most people would be paying fewer taxes. However, all foreign goods sold in our country would contribute to federal revenue, whereas under the current system they contribute nothing. In addition, such a policy would remove a major incentive to relocate businesses out of the country and add an incentive to move them back.

However, on none of these issues am I a moderate. There is nothing "wishy-washy" about any of my policy positions. I just try to look at things objectively and rationally with the intention of solving problems by the most efficient means. That doesn't make me a moderate, just someone who exercises the use of reason.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The injustice of being a teacher

I am a bit angry today. I inadvertently let slip the word "hell" in my middle school classroom and had a discussion with my principal about it, who said he understood that such things happen from time to time but to be more careful. I thought that the slip-up and resulting discussion were sufficient and resolved to work on how I phrased things.

This morning I got a note in my mailbox.

It was printed on school letterhead and must be in my personnel file by now. It misquoted me in a way that entirely misrepresented what I had actually said and the context in which the word "hell" appeared. After misquoting me, it said I had taken responsibility for my actions (which I had, but not for the words attributed to me) and warned me that further incidences of using "profanity" in front of students would result in formal reprimands.

I now understand why the more uncooperative students in the room were bragging that they had "told on me" about what I had said. (The cooperative students saw no problem with it and most probably agreed with me.) What galls me about this event is not simply the fact that I was betrayed by my principal, whose tone indicated that he understood that we all slipped up from time to time and had to be careful. What bothers me most is the fact that these same students whose pretended outrage sparked the whole discussion are routinely allowed by the administration to curse in such a way as to shame a rap musician. They tell their teachers to "F*** off!" They call each other "faggots" and "motherf***ers." When sent to the office for such disrespectful behavior, the office referral routinely reads: "Spoke with child. Timed out for rest of period."

Not only do these children receive no consequences for disrespecting those who are attempting to instruct them, but they get to skip class. They are being rewarded (in their minds) for disrespecting their teachers. They receive the acclaim of their peers and are treated as heroes by their less-reputable classmates. Meanwhile, a teacher slips up and uses the word "hell" and his personnel file is forever marked.

There is a disparity between the reaction to a word as common as "hell" and the reaction to calling one's teacher a "fat motherf***er." I realize that asking a few students who refuse to stop conversing loudly during a lesson "Why can't you just listen? Is it really so hard? What the hell is wrong?" is a bit on the uncivil side, but labeling it "profanity" is over the top. Technically, perhaps, the label applies, but semantically it conjures the image of someone who crazily throws out F-bombs and uses the most foul sort of language imaginable. I am not that person and resent being characterized as such.

I have resolved to leave the public education sector. My results have been consistently stellar. One hundred percent of my students passed their End of Course Assessment with a score of eighty percent or higher, most above ninety. This test had to be approved first by my principal and then by the district office. It was comprehensive and rigorous and incorporated every single state standard. Judging by my results, I am an awesome teacher. Results, however, matter little in the politics of modern education.

I believe that the private sector will be a better fit. There, my results will weigh most heavily. Profits will matter more than politics. I will not be frustrated by the expectation that I simply accept indignation after indignation. (The creation of a hostile work environment, after all, is subject to litigation.) I will be judged by my own performance.

I feel sorry for those who are currently in college to become teachers. Most will likely have to work outside of their field or at charter schools which offer no retirement benefits and pay teachers as if they were assistant managers at fast food restaurants. They will never be able to pay off their student loans. Their sense of self-worth will be eroded by a daily barrage of insults and injustice from children who are poorly raised and whose parents will likely spend more energy cursing at the teacher than disciplining their own children if they are contacted about misbehavior.

We have abandoned Thomas Jefferson's vision of an educational system whose primary purpose is to prepare a generation of patriotic and productive citizens. Civics and citizenship classes have, for the most part, been abolished. Teachers are often chastised for requiring students to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, at least in those states that still even recite it. The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are a perfect example of the end result of this decline. We have raised up a generation of sociopaths and ingrates whose modus operandi is to bite the hand that feeds.

I should have chosen my words better. In that much, I was wrong. It was the type of slip-up that rarely ever occurs for me, as I almost never curse even in my private life. However, the reaction to it compared to the administration's attitude toward language routinely used by students to their teachers is infuriating. It is difficult to smile when you are screaming inside.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Zombie Armageddon

We're already a few years into it, the long-dreaded Zombie Armageddon. As many of you know, science fiction tends to generate ideas that later become reality. The Star Trek flip-phones would now be considered old technology. Night of the Living Dead is now come upon mankind. It all started three-and-a-half years ago...

The real zombies aren't only in Florida. They're everywhere outdated and disproved liberal ideas are discussed. They're aged hippies teaching in universities who have lost the hair on top of their heads but still wear a long grey ponytail in back. They're Democrat politicians who still believe that simply handing out welfare benefits to the poor will end poverty. They're liberal media figures who slavishly praise Fidel Castro and rue the demise of the USSR. There are lots of zombies around. They do, in fact, crave brains--the young, impressionable brains of our youth. We send them to college to be educated and they come out speaking in zombie-English, half-formed thoughts repeated ad nauseum as if they are self-evident truths. Argue with them and their eyes glaze over. They may, in fact, physically attack you.

There is only one way to defeat these zombies. They must be forced to face reality. The chronically unmotivated must be made to feel hunger. If they want to earn a day's food, they must perform a day's labor. It angers me that the United States government pays for jobs involving manual labor when people are being paid to sit and keep Maury Povich employed. Politicians must be forced to pay the taxes they impose. A law should be passed mandating that anyone who votes in favor of a new tax or tax increase must file a 1040-EZ for the years in which the tax takes effect. College students must read Tocqueville, Aristotle, Plato, Edmund Burke, and the Federalist Papers. They must be made to understand basic market economics, including supply and demand, how people and corporations respond to incentives, and how the long term outcome of economic legislation may be vastly different from the immediate effects. They should be taught how and why Communism has never worked and why even the Chinese have abandoned it as an economic model.

A zombie's worst enemy is knowledge. Fortunately, liberal zombism is a curable disease. A dose of cold reality and a sustained dosage of time-tested Truth will cure all but the most severe cases. For example, it seems that this poor victim is irredeemable:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On Christian Unity

As the Republican primary winds to a close, let me get something off my chest. As a Mormon, I'm very proud of my party right now. We've proved that we are not a bunch of intolerant hicks, that Evangelical Christians may not see eye to eye with all of Mormon doctrine but can think beyond those differences when electing a president. I am very encouraged for the future of conservatism right now. I am even more encouraged for the future of the religious Right. We may just be able to stop fighting among ourselves and turn that energy into something beneficial to society. We are on the verge of uniting against those who threaten all of our right to worship Jesus Christ openly and in public. We may just turn the tide.

We know from the story of the prophet Daniel in the Bible that the enemies of faith will gladly ban the worship of God in public. This is nothing new historically. The Romans did it, the Babylonians did it, and the Left has been doing it now for years. If we, as Christians, allow ourselves to waste energy attacking each other, we will never have the resources necessary to overcome the secular-minded world. At this point, all God-fearing men and women need to stop picking each other apart and instead stand up for their right to worship. The election of Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee is a huge leap in that direction.

However, for those of you who may have questions about just what differentiates Mormon Christianity from other branches, let me offer a few points of clarification.

1. Mormons do not accept the doctrine that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one being. We believe that they are three divine beings who are united in purpose. All power emanates from the Father, who has granted it to Christ as His emissary. Christ represents the Father here on earth and is the intermediary between Man and the Father. All salvation comes through a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice enables the reunion of fallen mankind with God the Father. The Holy Ghost serves as a comforter and revealer of truth on an individual basis. We believe Jesus Christ ascended bodily into Heaven and retains that glorified body today.

2. Mormons accept the Bible as the revealed word of God, but understand (as all modern Bible scholars do) that the translations we have today are imperfect and thus may be easily interpreted to suit the predispositions of those who preach from them. For example, in what is considered mainstream Christianity there is a lot of disagreement about what precisely one must do to be saved. Some argue that a verbal confession of faith is sufficient while others argue that salvation is predestined and thus any effort toward it would be futile. As for those who hold that baptism is essential to salvation, some argue that a sprinkling of water on the head constitutes baptism while others maintain that only complete immersion is acceptable. Thus, even the requirements for salvation vary depending on how one interprets the Bible. This does not diminish the importance of the Bible, but simply makes it clear that there is a need for clarification.

3. Mormons believe that as part of God's effort to clarify His intent, He has called prophets in modern times and revealed His word through them. The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price are three examples of modern revelation Mormons consider to be equally as important as the Bible. While such a thought might seem blasphemy to some, the same dilemma occurred at the addition of the New Testament to the canon of holy scripture. However, if it is true that God still reveals His will to men today, the written account of that communication would indeed be the word of God and thus scripture.

4. Mormons believe that God will have work for us to do in Heaven. The exact type of work will depend upon our own nature as spiritual beings, which we are learning and shaping during mortality. Some will be engaged in extending God's creation, while others will serve as angelic messengers. Whatever the case, our eternal destiny will not be to sit around chatting idly. The work of creation is infinite and we will assist in various ways depending on our faithfulness and obedience.

There are other doctrinal differences, but these are no more distinct than those that exist between most Christian denominations. If a Lutheran, a Calvinist, a Baptist and a Non-denominational Christian can all accept each other's Christian credentials, there should be no problem accepting Mormons into the fold.

As for Mormons, we accept the honest efforts of our fellow Christians to become closer to God (an aspiration we all share) and wish them the best. When people ask what Mormons believe, I often reply, "We believe everything you do about Jesus, and then some."

I hope there is no one who will take offense from the above doctrinal points. You don't have to agree with all of them; this is America and, thank the Lord, we are free to believe and worship as we choose. As Christians, it is imperative that we unite and fight to keep that freedom.

A few good resources to clarify Mormon doctrines are the following:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

C'mon Romney! Don't jump on the anti-teacher bandwagon!

One of the things I like most about Mitt Romney is his ability to think "outside of the box." It is therefore especially disappointing to see him advocating the same, tired education reform ideas that have been killing public education (and student outcomes) in this country for over a decade. I realize that there is a very rich and powerful pro-voucher lobby supported by, among others, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. I realize that tapping into such funds for campaign contributions seems like a good idea, though it's clear from his book No Apology that Romney has advocated this position for quite some time. However, the real issue is never addressed because it is even more controversial than reconsidering Medicare and Social Security funding. The real issue lies with students themselves.

We have simply stopped holding students accountable for the results of their own efforts and behavior. At the middle school at which I am employed, a student may fail all of his or her courses and still be promoted from grade to grade, even to high school. Only recently has the State of Indiana begun to enforce even a small amount of student accountability, which is merely making students who do not demonstrate adequate reading proficiency in third grade remain grouped with third graders the next school year for reading. They are still promoted and will rejoin their same-age peers regardless of success the next school year.

What is even more interesting is the lack of superior results demonstrated by charter schools. Charter schools are a fairly small minority of the total number of schools in the state of Indiana. Nevertheless, half of the ten lowest performing schools on the IREAD-3 test (the third grade reading exam) are charter schools. On the ISTEP+ test (Indiana's primary measure of school accountability), charter schools consistently crowd the bottom of the list. Given the evidence that charter schools perform no better than public ones, and in fact most often worse, why then does Governor Mitch Daniels insist in hailing charters are panaceas? Why does Mitt Romney hop on this bandwagon? The evidence in raw data confirms that charter schools, which pay less, offer no teacher protections, and are not required to hire licensed teachers, are simply less effective. If state test scores are indeed the Holy Grail of measuring achievement, why are our leaders ignoring them?

*Sigh.* Mitt, I'm still going to vote for you. On this issue Democrats (and especially President Obama) propose the same exact set of solutions. I suppose the issue of education reform is candidate-neutral. Why is it that every time there is bipartisan agreement it is on a terrible idea? Me, I'll stick with bitter partisan feuds. They at least have some hope of offering up a good idea or two. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Adding Hillary -- Just how obvious can pandering get?

There is a lot of noise being made about whether President Obama should dump Vice President Biden and add Hillary to the ticket. It would be an unprecedented move. Just the fact that it is up for discussion reveals the desperation of the Democrat camp right now. However, I doubt it would be good for Obama. Here's why:

1. It makes Obama look desperate. It would be the same sort of move that adding Sarah Palin was for McCain. I'm not criticizing Sarah Palin, God bless her, but let's face it, adding a pretty and inexperienced female to the ticket was a move designed for aesthetic purposes. She was young and energetic; McCain was old and tired. She overshadowed her running mate and may have lost him the election.

2. The Clinton name comes with heavy negatives. While hardcore liberals would be practically orgasmic over an Obama-Clinton ticket, the rest of America would groan. Nobody thinks of the Clinton name without images of a stained dress creeping into their heads. Plus, the possibility of Bill causing yet another scandal by lewd behavior while living in the White House is too great. The last thing President Obama needs is for his presidency to be marred by something the Vice President's husband did with someone on the White House custodial staff.

3. Hillary is not the manse type. A Vice President has to bow to the views and policies endorsed by the President. It's clear from listening to Bill on the campaign trail that he and Hillary disagree with much of Obama's message. Biden made a slip about gay marriage. Hillary could possibly let it slip that she disagrees with the efficacy of confiscatory taxes. The potential to be contradicted by a bold New Democrat is huge.

4. Hillary would likely decline the invitation. She intends to run in 2016, I am quite sure. She does not want to share a ticket with a man who will likely lose the election, nor does she want to associate her name with someone whose policies have been so disastrous for the nation. That would be political suicide, and the Clintons are well known for their political savvy. It's a move Hillary is just too astute to make. The rumor would emerge that Hillary had declined (if two or more people know something, it's not a secret for long), and it would make Obama look like an even bigger loser.

I do not think President Obama will ask Hillary Clinton to be his running mate. I don't think even he would be that foolhardy. Even if he himself isn't astute enough to realize that it would be a mistake, I'm sure someone on his staff would warn him. If he asks her and she accepts I will be amazed. I would love to see the debates. Romney would eat Obama alive on the economy, and an articulate Republican running mate would do the same to Hillary. At the very least it would lead to her contradicting Obama, which would be a huge problem for the Democrats. While I'd love to see Obama shoot himself in the foot, I doubt it will happen.

Dang it!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Diversity versus perversity

Any regular listener to talk show host Michael Savage will recognize the words, "Diversity is perversity." I don't claim to have created the phrase, but it is becoming more and more true. President Obama's recent pronouncement regarding gay marriage is a perfect example. While I realize that a slippery slope argument is considered a logical fallacy, the trend in society is quite obvious. Society is changing incrementally, and the change is not one toward Judeo-Christian values.

Racial and ethnic diversity is a fact of life, and as such is value-neutral. It strikes me as odd when people use trite language such as, "Celebrate diversity!" Diversity is neither to be celebrated nor denigrated. It simply is. In the modern era, one must be able to navigate potential landmines associated with diversity while at the same time using it to one's advantage. For example, when speaking to someone with a Spanish accent I often slip into Spanish myself. This is pleasing to the listener and reinforces the idea that we have something in common. I do the same thing when speaking with Muslims or people from northern India. I throw in common phrases I have learned and enjoy the smiles. It is a way to make a positive impression and also an enjoyable experience.

Nothing expresses the promise of American freedom like the swearing in of new citizens...

However, the term diversity has become so all-inclusive that it now includes things that, only a few decades ago, would have been abhorrent. The acceptance of homosexuality as a valid lifestyle choice is one of those things, as are out-of-wedlock birth, promiscuity, welfare as a way of life, and blatant attacks on (Bible-based) religion. It is one thing to suggest that certain behaviors or beliefs should be tolerated. The word tolerate means to put up with, so this simply means that while you may not like it, you recognize that everyone has the freedom to act as they wish so long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.

However, under the guise of tolerance we are being asked to accept and legally recognize homosexuality as being equal to the relationship between man and wife. Logic itself dictates that the two things are different. The relationship that exists in a marriage is intrinsically valuable, not just to those directly involved but to society as a whole. Without heterosexual relations between men and women, the species would cease to exist. Marriage as an institution predates the government of the United States. Our government does not grant marriages but simply recognizes the institution as binding and legal. Homosexuality is not necessary nor does it accomplish any good to society as a whole. The government has no interest in recognizing such relationships because they do not create offspring. Their stability has nothing to do with the stability of society, whereas marriage (in the eons-old sense) is a stabilizing factor. The decline of lifelong marriages has contributed to the decline of society in a very real sense. The government ought to do all it can to encourage marriage between men and women and discourage reproduction outside of that framework.

The Judeo-Christian scriptures are replete with admonitions against homosexuality. They exist for good reason and should not be ignored. From both a logical and religious perspective, the push to diversify the definition of marriage is a bad idea. It will inevitably devalue the marriage covenant, a covenant which has already been hit hard enough by the increasingly self-centered culture we have created in the past half-century. Let us not deliver the final death blow.

Diversity has contributed much to our culture. I cannot imagine life without Mexican or Chinese food. I was raised in the midst of a largely Hispanic culture. There is much to be learned and gained from other cultures. However, lowering our moral standards is never a good idea, even in the name of diversity. We are already suffering the consequences enough as it is.

Just as a frame of reference, the following graph should be useful.

Government has enabled this trend by replacing fathers as the default breadwinner. The responsibility to care for one's offspring financially was a huge motivator for childbearing couples to marry. We have eliminated this positive pressure. Moreover, women need not rely on men's incomes if the government will supply their wants and needs. This allows many to simply leave a relationship because it is convenient. Boredom has become an acceptable reason for divorce.

All of this we are asked to accept in the cherished name of diversity. Diverse types of families, sexual relationships, and moral codes are to be not only tolerated but celebrated. As a Mormon, Romney is already the target of animus due to his church's opposition to gay marriage and its efforts against it, particularly in California. As Christians, are they not obliged to make that stand? I, for one, am glad that at least somebody is doing so.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Obama campaigns for Romney

If you haven't been living under a rock for the last week, you know that Obama has finally come out of the closet as being in favor of "gay marriage." Let's put aside for the moment the fact that "gay marriage" is a contradiction in terms. What President Obama and his people are doing is exactly what Romney needs them to do. They are widening the perceptual gap between themselves and Romney.

Mitt Romney suffers from having proposed a health care plan for Massachusetts that bears a vague resemblance to Obama's. Massachusetts' state plan used federal funds (which were coming whether the state asked or not) to defray the cost of private health insurance rather than sending it to hospitals as a supplement for those who couldn't pay. Essentially, the same money was being used for the same purpose, only more efficiently. The private sector was the solution in this plan, not the problem. In Romney's proposal, nobody received free health insurance. A government option did not exist. Those who could afford health insurance but chose not to purchase any would lose the tax exemption associated with having purchased health care. In concept it was the equivalent of a mortgage exception--you aren't being penalized for not having a mortgage, but rewarded for making the investment. He even vetoed all of the clauses in the insurance bill that would make it remotely comparable to Obamacare. For example, he vetoed a clause that would require employers of eleven or more people to provide insurance or pay a fee and another that provided coverage for immigrants who would be ineligible under Medicaid. Unfortunately, all of Romney's eight vetoes were overridden by the Massachusetts legislature. For this reason, Romney's opponents often apply the term Romneycare to parts of the law that he did not propose and, in fact, vetoed. This is either disingenuous or starkly ignorant.

This is really the only similarity between Romney and Obama and is demonstrably a false canard. Romney's challenge is to demonstrate that there is a vast difference between himself and Obama on social, fiscal, and foreign policy. Thankfully, President Obama seems more than willing to oblige. Having eliminated Don't Ask, Don't Tell and come out for "gay marriage," Obama is revealing his true colors (red) on social issues just as he already has on economics.

Thanks you, President Obama. If you lose this fall, perhaps the Republicans can use you as a campaign adviser. You've certainly done a lot for their P.R. thus far.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Trayvon Martin and the impressionable young mind

As a classroom teacher in the state of Indiana, I have often seen the power of media and popular culture to influence the thoughts of the young on social issues. In no way is this more true than in the case of Trayvon Martin. I have many African American students, and nearly all of them hold the strong opinion that Trayvon was murdered in cold blood by a racist white man who decided to kill him when first he glanced a black boy daring to take a stroll in his neighborhood. When the subject comes up (usually as students start to walk into class before the bell rings), I'll often just say, "Let's not judge anyone before the facts are all out."

This elicits a reaction, often vitriolic, of disgust. "Of course it was racism! Like anybody really thinks it wasn't! Zimmerman was white, Trayvon was black, and Zimmerman followed and killed him because he was black. Stop pretending something else happened! We all know what it really was."

This sort of animus is quite useful to certain people. The media feed off the interest in the story like sharks in bloody water. They exaggerate the story, even stooping to editing audio to create a false impression. They publish old, outdated photos of both parties to the tragedy in an effort to sensationalize the event.

Witness these images of Martin and Zimmerman.

Most widely published photos:

More up to date photos, starting with Trayvon (from his Twitter account):

And George Zimmerman (in a non-mugshot photo):

Now granted, the more recent photos are just as biased as the old ones being shown, what with Trayvon shirtless flipping the bird and Zimmerman smiling in a suit. Still, the age and build of the second set of photos does at least display that George Zimmerman might well have been physically afraid for his life in a physical confrontation with a large tattooed seventeen-year-old. What the more recent photos don't do is give the impression of Trayvon as an angelic eleven-year-old hunted down like a dog by a larger, armed adult.

Now, I don't claim to know exactly what happened. Personally, I think Zimmerman got carried away in his role as neighborhood watch captain (you don't need a gun to keep an eye on the neighborhood), followed Trayvon around until Trayvon became irate, and Trayvon lashed out in anger. He probably felt singled out, and perhaps he was. I don't believe there was a racial motive since several black families resided in the neighborhood in question, but it's evident that Zimmerman was angry at the break-ins and determined to find a culprit. If he was as involved in his community as it seems, he might have simply followed Trayvon because he didn't recognize him. Still, from the wounds on Zimmerman's head he was taking quite the beating. Most likely he panicked and used his gun in what he considered to be self-defense. Was it overkill? Certainly. In my opinion, George Zimmerman is at the very least guilty of manslaughter. However, these are opinions. I have no idea what happened, nor does anyone else outside of George Zimmerman and perhaps the police who responded to the incident.

What upsets me is the way young people, especially young people of color, are being militarized by the event  so as to cause a degree of racial hatred not seen for a very long time. It reminds me of the six-second (or so) clip shown relentlessly on the news during the Rodney King trial. According to the jurors, the full video of the incident told quite a different story than did the few seconds shown on television. Still, that fact did not sway the emotions of those who engaged in wanton violence and criminality, which they justified as a reaction to the verdict.

I don't think George Zimmerman can be convicted on a second degree murder charge. To qualify as second degree murder in the State of Florida, the killer must be determined to have shown a depraved mind with no regard for human life. Zimmerman has shown contrition. How can the state prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he is mentally depraved to the point that human life means nothing to him? No, I think perhaps that he was charged with a crime that the prosecution knew had no hope of conviction. It was a way out. The district attorney can claim she was tough on the suspect, but that the system made the decision. It's likely that she believes he did indeed act in self-defense, and so raised the burden of proof well beyond what could possibly result in a conviction.

With emotions raging so bitterly, violence may well erupt if and when a Not Guilty verdict is read. I hope it doesn't. I hope the African American community can stop providing justification for racist stereotypes. I understand the anger. The death of a young man, despite whatever "tough guy" public persona he may have had, is tragic. Let's not allow this tragedy to tarnish the image of the African American community. That would be an even greater tragedy.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Liberal lexicon

I recently read a list of conservative vocabulary words on some obscure and unreadable website (not that I can talk, at least as far as obscurity goes). I decided I'd write a liberal lexicon so conservatives could understand what liberals are really saying. They tend to speak in code for some reason rather than just coming out and saying what they really think. Frankly, those few who are upfront and honest have my sincere admiration, although my disdain for their opinions knows no bounds.

So, in an attempt to translate liberalism into something more plain-spoken, here goes nothing...

Christianity: An old superstition based on the idea that a cis-male god impregnated a teenage virgin and allowed his son to be tortured for the greater good. It evolved out of the Jewish religion, but since they weren't the primary victims of Hitler, Christians are fair targets in the culture war. Christian churches (with the exception of the AME and other primarily-black churches) are enemies to diversity as they teach that humans must control their sexual impulses and that humans were designed to function as their bodies indicate rather than as the gender/species they choose. They are also the major perpetrators of Islamophobia worldwide.

Conservatives: Unsophisticated simpletons who believe in things like common sense, the work ethic, individualism, God and other outdated notions. Conservatives seek to return to the days of slavery and strive to return women to being barefoot and pregnant. They wage a war on women and have even brainwashed many women into believing that abortion is murder instead of a sacred right and rite of feminism. The denizens of trailer parks and corporate board rooms, conservatives are either troglodytes or maniacal geniuses bent on world domination for personal profit. (In the case of George W. Bush, both are true simultaneously, an idea solemnized as part of the famous Berkeley Creed. Conservatives can be both brilliant and stone stupid simultaneously; don't ask why because it's a Mystery.)

The Constitution: An impediment to the progress of human rights and equality in general. Also a useful tool for opposing any reasonable effort to protect Americans from the Islamist terrorists, who only seek to exact a richly-deserved vengeance. It is hoped that this document will be made irrelevant by enlightened Supreme Court justices who will ignore it in favor of the legal precedents set by such great nations as Cuba, Venezuela, and France. The Constitution was written by Evil White Men who included a three-fifths clause seeking to empower slave owners and demean Black Americans. For this alone it should be run through a paper shredder, mashed into pulp, and recycled as toilet paper.

Education: A right every child has, to be passively transferred by teachers who have been stripped of the right to discipline students. Discipline is cruel. Not subject to sociological forces, every student is willing to cooperate so long as teachers are able to discern his or her particular learning style. Thus, teachers are obligated to create an individualized lesson for every student every day and teach all of the lessons simultaneously. Effective teachers will have no problem doing this. Education serves to enforce the important and universal societal values of diversity, tolerance, acceptance of alternative lifestyle choices, the ability to comprehend and respect Islam, disdain for traditional American religions such as Christianity, and equality of outcome. No consequences will exist for students who do not meet course standards, since consequences such as retention are demeaning. Teachers will bear the sole responsibility for student outcomes, regardless of whether the students entered class with the prerequisite skills or made any effort toward learning anything. If this formula fails to work, more money is needed and a larger state bureaucracy should be created.

Evil White Man: Any straight male of primarily European descent who did not vote for Barack Obama. The sacrament of voting for The Obama absolves white men of guilt for the original sins of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Seriously religious Evil White Men are especially dangerous as they may be carrying guns and/or Bibles, both of which are dangerous weapons. Evil White Men are the cause of all the world's evil.

Europe: A mixed bag. On the one hand, it is where communism emerged and government largess is most rampant, both of which are pleasing qualities to liberals. Fornication has replaced marriage in much of modern Europe, and the birth rate is too low to maintain the population. This keeps evil humans from killing Mother Earth. On the other hand, Europe is where Evil White Men come from and was the historic stronghold of Christianity. Modern Europe disdains this past, however, and has redeemed itself. Plus, the Evil White Men are failing to reproduce and the population is being replaced with Muslims. This is good because most Muslims are not pasty Evil White Men and do not practice Christianity.

Health care: A natural right of man, inalienable, granted by Nature (as liberals have no God). This involves the right to drain resources from those who have labored to procure them and divert them to those who have not for the preservation of the unproductive. Ostensibly, the first government health care plan was enacted when early humans went to a village elder who smeared feces on a wound to prevent infection. Liberal health care plans will be at least slightly more effective, but vastly more expensive. However, money is no object unless you get to a certain age, at which time you will be counseled to accept a quick death so as to avoid being a burden.

Marxism: The optimal state of human affairs, not to be referred to in public by political figures. A replacement for Deity in the liberal world, The Communist Manifesto being the book of holy scripture. Every liberal must read this book and highlight pertinent passages. Rules for Radicals is only a commentary on the Manifesto, but is required reading as well. Private property is a social evil that implies that some human beings are superior to others in intellect, ability and effort. If, in fact, such differences do exist they should be suppressed at all costs.

Normal: An adjective used to describe a narrow, cisgendered and sexually-repressed subsection of the population who spend all their time watching television, gardening and playing cards with their couple friends. They tend to have more than two children per couple, and thus are contributing to the global population explosion and thus Armageddon due to climate change. They also tend to live in suburban areas to avoid exposure to more interesting and diverse kinds of people.

Reagan: The liberal equivalent of Satan, Reagan brought about the downfall of the beloved Soviet Union and dashed (or delayed) liberal hopes of a communistic one-world government. Reagan is to be reviled alongside figures such as George W. Bush and Glenn Beck. The reverence held toward Reagan in the United States is proof of American mental inferiority.

Talk Radio: Where Evil White Men exchange ignorant ideas such as self-reliance, private property, The Constitution, and sexual responsibility. At times they even stoop to using the word "slut" to describe promiscuous women who are just exercising their right to engage in non-reproductive reproductive activity. Talk radio is where the insidious concepts of financial responsibility and freedom of religion (even for Christians) are spread among the unsuspecting and ignorant populace. Talk radio must be suppressed or eliminated since it inhibits the creation of a more refined, revisionist interpretation of history and current events. The exception to this rule is National Public Radio, which is funded by government and thus easily controlled.

United States of America: The evil empire, produced by the unholy union of slavery and patriarchal rule. Redeemable only by and through a conversion to liberalism, Americans must be made to see the shame in their heritage and accept the error of their capitalistic ways. It is hoped that the enlightened people of the Third World will eventually overturn the national pride of the American people and counsel them to accept milder cultural norms, like public beheadings of women who speak to men in public. Patriotism is the trite and pathetic expression of a primitive tribal impulse.

This list is far from comprehensive. Feel free to add new vocabulary and definitions in the Comments section.