Friday, August 31, 2012

Sacramento Starts -- Prop 32 Will Finish

The California state legislature has initiated pension reform. Like Governor Brown, I am displeased that the legislature failed to pass budget reform to curtail health care costs.

Still the public sector unions do not negotiate with the taxpayers for pay raises. They can still promote politicians who will provide higher salaries, benefits, and pensions, while those who are paying for these lavish payouts have no say in the accounts, the accountability, or the final count on how the money is allocated.

Prop 32 will have to finish the job that the state legislature has begun. The public sector unions have an automatic purse from their own employees, who have to contribute union dues every year, and their monies fund candidates and causes of the union leadership's choosing, whether the employees support the same or not. This abuse of the individual's paycheck must end, and Prop 32 will make that happen.

Sacramento Steps Up on Pension Reform

The California state legislature has taken some much needed steps to reform pension abuse.

Among the reforms passed by the Senate and the Assembly:

1. Increase the retirement age for new employees.

2. Cap the annual payout at $132,120.

3. Eliminate numerous abuses of the system -- pension spiking has already been identified.

4. Require workers who are not contributing half of their retirement costs to pay more.

The "Yahoo" report neglected to mention that public officials who commit public integrity crime will be barred from receiving a pension. This is a moral, though hardly a fiscal victory for the state. The fiscal mismanagement in the Coliseum comes to mind. Yet no one has stood up to the Teachers Union in the state, and to this day nothing has advanced the expedited dismissal of predatory teachers or their the denial of pension receipt for those who engage in moral turpitude with a minor.

Brown was not pleased that the following reforms, which he requested in his 12-point plan, would not be implemented:

1. No hybrid public-private (401(k)) pension plan.

2. No reforms to control  retiree health care costs.

3. No reforms for board of the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

I would add to the list of missed opportunities forcing current workers to contribute more toward their pensions. Rhode Island required current workers to contribute more toward their pension pay. Permitting retirees to take home 90% of their salary is inexcusable.

Prop 32 will have to finish the job that the state legislature has begun. The public sector unions in this state have an automatic purse from their own employees, who have to contribute union dues every year, whether they support the union or not, and their monies fund candidates and causes of the union leadership's choosing, whether the employees support the same or not. This abuse of the individual's paycheck must end, and Prop 32 will make that happen.

About the pension reform deal which just passed through the Sacramento legislature, State Senate President Darrell Steinberg commented:

"As this debate has gone on, I, for one, am tired of public employees being the sole and, I think, unfair focus of the state's problems," Steinberg told his colleagues on the Senate floor. "People who enter the public service are public servants, and you have great public employees, mediocre, and the rest, just like you have in the private sector."

His critique forgets one fundamental factor: public sector employees are paid by public taxpayers, yet the public sector unions do not negotiate with the taxpayers for pay raises. Instead, the promote politicians who will provide higher salaries, benefits, and pensions, while those who are paying for these lavish payouts have no say in the accounts, the accountability, or the final count on how the money is allocated.

This entitlement is robbing the California taxpayer blind and beggarly. This arrangement has gone on for far too long.

Mimi Walters of Lake Forest correctly pointed out that this pension "change" does not enact the deep and painful reforms needed to even out the current pension liability, a massive future burden which threatens the largest state in the union with the largest bankruptcy on record. Three cities have already filed for bankruptcy protection -- will Sacramento have to do the same?

Buchanan's Pessimism

Columnist Pat Buchanan is at it again with his culture-war pessimism, this time hitting on the unlikely success of an economic resurgence from the Romney-Ryan ticket.

In his latest piece, "The 'Larger Purpose' of the Romney-Ryan ticket, the national conservative begins his argument pointing out the 49-state landslides of Nixon the Reagan during tough economic times, men who poised themselves to carry every state in the union because they stuck to and stood for a "larger purpose" of taking our troops out of unnecessary foreign conflicts or cutting taxes to jump-start the economy.

Yet he foresees only difficult options which Romney-Ryan will not be able to implement without harming hordes of voters who demand their handouts.

I wish to rebut his cynicism, which seems mostly a long-term shtick which distinguishes him from the more "conservative" conservatives who practice a measured optimism in this fallen world.

For consider the major categories of federal spending.

The largest domestic programs are Medicare and Social Security. Pare back these middle-class entitlements, and a President Romney will be at war with AARP, tens of millions of seniors and an army of baby boomers now reaching retirement age at a rate of 10,000 a day.

Governor Christie announced his belief that seniors in this country are not going to throw their grandchildren under the  bus for a subsidy which is dwindling faster than current revenues can even put a dint on stemming. If Marco Rubio could ride to Senate victory pledging entitlement reform in a state populated with elderly recipients, then the politicians in Washington can no longer plug away at the lie that voters in this country or so selfish and short-sighted to recognize the truth about this nation's dire financial situation.

If Romney is going to bring the budget even close to balance, he has to end U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and stay out of any new wars in Syria or Iran. But a policy of no war where no vital U.S. vital interest is imperiled would be seen as a moral abdication by the democracy crusaders and a betrayal by the neoconservatives.

"Neoconservative" is a bad word, and the majority of GOP presidential candidates ran on a platform of measured retraction from armed conflicts around the world.

As for defense, Romney has taken that off the table and would increase it to 4 percent of GDP.
What about education? The major items here are Head Start, Bush II's No Child Left Behind, Pell grants and student loans. Has any president since Sputnik jolted America awake ever cut back on education?

Obama offered a waiver to the states to opt out of "NCLB", so what's stopping the next generation of Republicans from doing the same? There will be no Pell grants if the federal government does not subsidizing higher education, which is only raising college costs with less return.

What about infrastructure? Since the Interstate Highway Act of President Eisenhower, when has federal spending for highways, roads, bridges, airports, ports and mass transit ever been cut?
Among the major poverty programs are rent supplements, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, welfare and Medicaid. Would a Romney administration that is slashing tax rates for the top 20 percent dare to cut programs that benefit the working poor?

The decisions to cut, cut, cut cannot wait any longer. The voters in this country are not stupid. The Tea Party upstarts

Only once in the lifetime of Americans now living did the U.S. government slash spending. Right after World War II, the feds' share of the U.S. economy was cut by two-thirds, and all those dollars put away in wartime savings came flooding out to buy the homes, cars, TVs, freezers, and washers and dryers suddenly available.

This country faces unprecedented challenges, and therefore the leaders in this country will have to make unprecedented choices. The "past is prologue" argument is hollow all the way, considering that Tea Party elements in the House and the Senate forced cuts for the first time in years, even if the billions of dollars taken out of the budget were a mere rounding error. The fact that federal legislators spent time talking about cuts is a sign of better things to come.

What would a Romney-Ryan administration do once in office?

A guess: freeze federal spending rather than slash it. Retain the Bush tax cuts, and pass the new Romney rates. Take a chainsaw to regulations choking free enterprise. Tighten eligibility for federal programs. Cut federal payrolls through attrition.

 I can hear John McLaughin booming "Predictions, Pat!", and this is the answer that Buchanan would rattle off.

"Freeze federal spending' -- that's a winner, something the President can do without Congressional approval.

"Retain the Bush tax cuts" -- Yes, he certainly will do that, and extend them so that the debt-deficit-tax cut dance does not break out once again, tying up the government while setting off businesses and investors throughout the world.

"Take a chainsaw to regulations" -- Senatorial and Congressional candidates have signalled their support to put every regulation through rigorous scrutiny. Linda McMahon of Connecticut and Bill Bloomfield of Los Angeles are two of many voices challenging the institutional incumbency of regulations reigning in Washington.

"Tighten eligibility for federal programs" -- the Romney-Ryan ticket will have the upper hand on this one, because if they do nothing, there will be no federal programs left. Rescinding Obama's Executive Order softening Clinton's welfare reform requirements will be a step in the right direction, without any Congressional stalling to prevent the move.

"Cut federal payrolls through attrition" -- perfect move. City and state governments are doing the same thing.

Yet Buchanan failed to mention Ryan's voucher proposal for Medicare, he forgot to mention the repeal of ObamaCare, which will replace the multi-billion dollar raid on Medicare. He neglected to mention the Simpson-Bowles suggestions, which may have a more receptive audience with Republican majorities defined and confined by Tea Party purism.

And pray it all works, as it did for the Gipper not so long ago.

GOP operatives must stop looking backward to the Big Gipper. Those days are long gone, when Presidents could talk up tax cuts yet ignore the necessary spending cuts, as Reagan did all too easily. This country is not facing the same geopolitical threat then, which precipitated a questionable military build-up.

But however it turns out, those 49-state landslides are history.

This country, these reforms, do not depend on landslides, but measured majorities. More than any previous time in history, voters are well-informed and well-aware, and they demand that their leaders in Washington do well on their behalf to curb entitlements, cut the spending, and care for the basic requirements of the Constitution without crossing over.

Richard Simmons, Weight Loss, and the Gospel

Richard Simmons
I was surprised when I heard Richard Simmons talk about the most important thing that people have to do before they lose weight:

"You have to love yourself. You have to be OK with yourself before you start losing weight."

In other words:

"Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." (3 John 2)

If men and women try to lose weight in their own efforts, then in their own efforts they will have to maintain this weight loss, and such efforts are a crap-shoot at best.

How many people out there have lost weight, only to gain it back, or worse to gain more than they had to begin with? Most people end up weighing more because on top of having failed to keep the weight off, they feel more shame because they could not in their own effort keep off what they had put off in their own efforts.

Man has to deal with the inside first. Forget about focusing on what you are eating. What's eating you? A man's soul cannot prosper if within himself he has no peace.

Man can do nothing in his own effort:

"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26: 41)

God has not left us without power, though:

"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." (Romans 8: 3)

We do not need strength for any endeavor in or life, We need life, and that more abundantly:

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10: 10)


"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3: 4)

In any thing that we struggle, let us rather rest in the righteousness which Christ has made us to be (2 Corinthians 5: 21). Righteousness is the status of "perfected", "justified", "fully accepted" in Christ. Because He first loved us, then we can love ourselves (1 John 4: 19), and this love has been perfected for us as follows:

"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4: 17)

"Weight gain" or "Overweight" are some of many judgments which we face in this world, yet we can face even these minuscule problems by resting in the righteousness that we are. Then God's grace flows in our lives, and the Holy Spirit leads us in what we are to do, to eat, and how to walk in Him.

Let Him bear the weight of all your cares, even your weight, and His peace will rule in you as to what do, first by convicting you of your righteous standing in Him.

What Really Killed the King

I believe that Elvis Presley was blessed with the gifts of God.

"But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." (1 John 2: 20)

He had Holy Spirit charisma pouring all over him, enough that the President of the United States was willing to clear out his calendar so that he could spend a hour with the King of Rock and Roll.

When you walk in the favor of God, kings and princes of the earth will make way for you:

"And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me." (Isaiah 49: 23)

Elvis Presley's mother was a Pentecostal, and she believe in the gifts of the Spirit, that Jesus, who is the same "yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13: 8) still performs miracles.

Jesus promised the same to His believers:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." (John 14: 12)

How do we do these works? By the Power of the Holy Spirit:

"God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost. . ."(Hebrews 2: 4)

One report indicated that Elvis Presley laid hands on a sick back-up singer, and she recovered. Whether these reports are true or not, all Glory must go to Him who give us all power.

I also believe that Elvis Presley's life ended all too soon. I believe that he, like many believers in the Body of Christ, was not firmly established in the gift of righteousness, and even as Elvis sang Gospel songs into the wee hours of the morning, this man could find no rest for all that he did.

I believe that he felt guilty about sins that he had done in the past, and for that reason, he resorted to drugs to find peace.

Yet in Christ, we all have peace:

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14: 27)

This peace is a gift, yet the devil and his messengers go out of their way to distract us from who we are and what we have in Christ:

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" (1 Peter 5: 8)

Yet faith is all that it takes to take down the enemy:

"Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." (Ephesians 6: 16)

This faith we receive as a gift because of our life in Jesus:

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2: 20)

Faith takes, besides, and we take in abundance of grace and righteousness (Romans 5: 17)

Too many believers, though, do not stand in righteousness nor do they actively receive God's grace, and thus they fall prey to attacks -- lies, fears, worries -- in their lives.

Jesus told his disciples then, and we need to still hear this now:

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6: 33)

I believe that Elvis Presley was not actively receiving the gift of God's righteousness in his life, so he fell prey to empty attacks from the enemy and his minions. All the drug use and gospel-singing in the world could never give him the peace he was looking for, because in Christ he already had it!

It is sad that his life was cut short all too soon. It is still sadder that men and women chose to believe that he is still alive, that aliens abducted him, or that he still haunts the lands of Graceland. The same God who blessed him with the grace to swing and sway millions with his voice -- this same Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, sending forth His Spirit of favor and fervor to a dying world desperate for life and that more abundantly. When men and women know and believe that God's gift of righteousness is fully extended to a dying world, which grace we can receive by faith, then more men and women will know the freedom and life that will allow them to live and reign in life like Kings.

Even though Elvis died all too soon, his example can still bless millions, for the grace of God goes beyond the death of one man.

Beloved, live like the King that Christ Jesus has made you to be, and do not let the enemy distract you with fear and shame for one more minute for living out the life that He lives in you!

"Dream Deferred" by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?
Langston Hughes is the synonymous leader of the early 1900s Harlem Renaissance.
His work pushed the "Black Experience" beyond the segregation and discrimination, from the back of the bus to front of the anthologies, and his poems are read and enjoyed in classrooms throughout the country to this day. Hughes' work deserves this honor. So pervasive has been the influence of his work, that one line, "raisin in the sun" became the title of a well-known play, documenting distinct perspectives on the Black experience.
"What happens to a dream deferred?"
"Defer" at its core signals difference and delay, and dreams inevitably contain the germ of tardiness, or otherwise they would not be dreams, but present and apparent realities.
"What happens to a dream deferred?"
"What happens" suggests that dreams just sit around and wait. Dreams do not exist in and of themselves, but are the product and profession of another, in the febrile mind of a fun man, or the feverish demand of a weak personality.
"What happens to a dream deferred?"
Dream deferred, the alliteration of noun and verb announces the start and finish of this poem, the central goal of all that is taking place in this poem.
"Defer" -- What does it mean '" to defer"? It can mean to put something off until a later time. This delay can be for the better or for the worse. Does a dream get better just because a man has no plan to advance the dream in his mind? More specifically, "to defer" can also mean to put someone off from military service, like a reprieve. Dreamers may dream, but in many cases they must fight to make their dreams come true. "Defer" can also imply submission, or respect, like an inferior officer stepping aside to a man with greater reason and rank. Some dreams are in the infancy stage, requiring more time, more thought, more preference until a better time arrives.
Yet what does the poet say? What does happen to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
A raisin in the sun, rays in the sun, the suns rays make the grape more sweet, more tough. Raisins last a long time. Raisins do not go bad. Raisins can survive the long haul in a lunch sack.
In the Bible, raisins are a sensuous source of strength:
"Stay me with flagons [lit. raisin cakes], comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love." (Song of Solomon 2: 5)
In First Samuel Chapter 30, David the Beloved gave raisins to the starving and deprive Egyptian, who then led the anointed king to victory over the Philistines.
Raisins speak of love, victory, sustenance, restoration, the culmination of great joy, just as time must pass for the grape to dry up into a more delicious fruit.
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
A sore that festers -- what a ghastly sight! A site of infection, of stench. A wound that grows decay and disease, this grim image imparts to the reader the lingering pain of a dream that waits to be realized, that waits to take place, that waits and waits, and then it runs. Yet in so sickening a sight, the notion of a "running sore" indirectly implies life and opportunity. A sore that runs is a mess that heals, and in the same vein, a dream deferred will not remain ignored,  but will break forth in the life of a man.
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Rotten meat, stinking like the sore, sits on a table, on a plate, or perhaps in the trash, waiting to be removed forever from the one who refused to eat. Yet meat that rots, meat the stinks, this is meat in which new life also lives, for what makes this stench so strong is the new creation of bacteria air-borne landing on a piece of flesh. Just as the macabre poet of the Boulevard, Charles Baudelaire, found a soul in the rotting carcase, just as he sang songs of praise to Don Juan in Hell, or commiserated with the great princes of the air, Albatrosses, who dragged to the earth still convey a sorrowful royalty, the deepest ugliness can remind the appalled viewer that life will not remain uncovered forever.
Does the poet see this life? Does he see the seething meat as anything more than an eyesore?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Now the poet rhymes, how meet that meat does rhyme with sweet. So much time is spent on "ee" -- is the dream, then, something to eat? Or does the dream still eat at the dreamer? "Crust'", a covering, protects the dream. Even if the plan does not come to pass, the time passing passes over and protects the dream for future passage. "Sugar over" the crust is and does, a symbol both active and passive, that the "dream deferred" is not lost nor forlorn. The dream gets bigger, gets smaller, but will not be static and stay still.
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Sags -- a dream that sags? Still, it will not be still. The dream will not stay, like the smell, good or bad, noisome or noisy, that flies invisible from the sore, the meat, or the raisins so sweet. A heavy load intones the poet, oh oh oh, a burden that goes nowhere. Yet the baggy dream is saggy dream, and a sad does more than "just" nothing -- only this bad "justly" sags. The "dream deferred" will not defer forever.
Or does it explode?
Dreams that explode, come to pass, or pass through mind and heart to a mindless, heartless world, pressing past the staunch, stench, stink, sticking to the walls. The raisin does not explode, except in the mouth of a dry and weary traveler, renews his strength, gives him ease for the journey. The dream is now alive, refused to be put away. Not rotten, not running, not run down, but ready to be read.
The poem -- "Dream Deferred" -- has waited long enough, and for the reader, the surprised catches him, comprised no more with guesses. The dreams he had, or has, or they still deferred? From running sores to rotten meat, from sugary sweets, what does he see? The "dream" cannot never be "deferred" but grow, alive for better or for worse.
"Dream Deferred" draws out the dreams deferred in a reader. When the poet poses the question, the reader goes from wondering to pondering. The poem says a lot, like the rotting meat, teeming with life while seeming lifeless, like the dream that waits to be inferred, not just implied.
The poem is so sweet, so juicy, unlike the dry raisin, yet just as tasty. The little poem backs a big, bomb punch, "explodes" in the mind, where  dreams deferred are referred and preferred at a later date -- or raisin!

Elite Opinions About Vouchers

As a Masters Degree candidate at Cal State Los Angeles, I could not understand the bias which so many of my educator-colleagues had toward voucher systems. The instructor in one class would rebuff any discussion of giving choice to parents for their children's education.

When I discussed the research and the results which supported injecting choice and competition into the public system in Milwaukee and Arizona, and even in Washington D.C., the students whom I studied with just dismissed these findings.

"C'mon, Arthur, Vouchers just do not work."

No amount of research and reality would persuade them So much for elite opinions.

What holds so many teachers back from accepting empirical data? The world view which grips and blinds many teachers starts in the halls of academia, where every teacher, including myself, had to suffer through four years of schooling just to get the Bachelors degree, then two more years to get a Masters/Teaching Credential.

The coursework of a Masters Degrees in education leaves much to be desired. Half the courses that I took at Cal State Los Angeles reminded me of the first-year and introductory courses which I took at UC Irvine. The research/methods course which I took during the Summer of 2007 reminded me of the same summer course which I had enrolled in during the summer of 2001, when I needed to make up classes at the last minute in order to switch majors.

The circular reasoning which pervades the Ivory Tower of our university systems should raise serious concern among legislators who care about the well-being of our students, of our future. Teachers are not rewarded for independent thought, so it seems, especially in the seminars which they must endure in order to earn a Masters degree and thus advance on the salary schedules of their local school districts.

The whole thing seems like a cartel, a racket among the school district, the legislatures, and the public universities, forcing teachers to keep going to school learning facts and figures that do not figure with the facts of the real world, the same bill of goods that gets teachers in training excited about teaching, only to run smack-dab into the harrowing mess of conflicting rules, contradictory administrators, and contrary goals.

Elite opinions which dismiss vouchers are a mere symptom of the growing confusion and corruption corroding our public schools. And professional "educators" indoctrinate teachers to perpetuate this madness for incremental pay raises.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"The Scout" and Grace

Another film that I have been thinking about over the past week, "The Scout", starring Albert Brooks as a sport talent scout and Brendan Fraser as a multi-talented baseball player living in Mexico, reminded me of the prime role that motivation plays in the life of the believer.

Albert Brooks was down on his luck. The last rookie that he brought into the Major Leagues turned out to be a frightened religious fanatic who did not deliver at all. The whole episode was so humiliating, that his agency then sent him south to Mexico to look for another talent.

Then he attended a local game, where the star of the whole show, played by Brendan Fraser, shut out every hitter who came up to bat. This pitcher was beyond magnificent, revered as a god by the local inhabitants, who treated him to eat whatever he wanted at the local restaurant on the house.

Brook's agency fired him on the spot, but he refused to give up on the amazing ball that he had just found, seeing money just rolling into his life.

After bringing the Mexican baseball star to New York, Brooks noticed that the man was not as well-adjusted after all. In one scene, he starts throwing dinner plates at a crowd of photographers. In a session with a well-known psychiatrist, Brooks finds out that the man had a strained, abusive relationship with his father, somewhat like the same tensions that start to spark up between the talent agent and the player right then and there.

A long, drawn out emotional battle emerges between the two main character, up to the point where Brooks wants to fly in the Mexican pitcher on a helicopter for the first game, but the sports star is less and less interested in getting involved.

The fight between the two escalates then culminates at the top of the stadium, at which point Fraser refused to go down and throw any pitches at all. At that point, Brooks relents:

"All right, you know what, you don't have to go down and play."

"Really?" Fraser responds, surprised and somewhat relieved."

"No, that's all right. .  Let's go home."

"Well, you know what, maybe it will be fun after all," Fraser admits out loud. "Why not? I think it will be fun!"

"You'll go!" Brooks asked, excited.

So Fraser and Brooks descend into the helicopter, Fraser steps out to pitch for the entire game, a predictable shut-out like his previous successes in Mexico.

At the end of the movie, Brooks and Fraser settle down to do the baseball star's laundry, the most relaxing part of the day for him.

The part of the movie, the final confrontation at the top of the stadium, reminds me of the battle which erupts inside of believers. To the degree that they are required to do something, which is Law, they then find themselves completely resistance and unwilling. Yet when believers understand that God is not mad at them, not forcing them to do anything, that He will accept them just as they are, this love then quickens believers to go out and do great things, just as Fraser was willing to pitch once he knew that he did not have to, or that he did not have to in order to have the esteem of Brooks.

This is the gospel -- that God so loved us to send His Son to die in our place, that in Him we are totally accepted. He then comes to live in us and quicken us in His love to go out there and live out His life in us!

This is grace at its simplest, moved by the Spirit of love to love others!

Crist Dissed the GOP

Crist the Dissed Dissed and Missed
If there is any more blatant example of "poor loser" it's Big Government Republican Charlie Crist, the former governor of Florida who lost the GOP primary to Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio, only to lose to him again as an independent, when Crist had pledged that he would not leave his party to run again.

"Sore loser" is another term that comes to mind when pondering Charlie Crist. Now he has stepped forward to endorse Barack Obama, the same man form whom he received stimulus dollars and then gave a big hug, the big hug which signalled to unhappy grassroots voters that it was one hug too big for a Big Government president from a Big Government governor.

Our two-system has permitted members to cross over and endorse the opposition or to run third-party campaigns, before. To this day, Tea Party upstarts are upsetting the Establishment candidates in many states. Independents like Angus King and Bill Bloomfield are also running from the labels to stand out from the dichotomous myopia which to some is eating away at this country's political culture.

Crist dissed the GOP because he chose to play up to Big Government policies, then got dumped by the grass-roots that demanded more purity and parity from candidates than Crist was willing to offer.

The fact that he then changed his mind at the last minute, going back on his political vow not to run as an Independent in the General election, simply sent the same old message of politicians out for power instead of moved by purpose.

Crist is just one vote in Florida, a state that is trending GOP once again this election. Crist has dissed himself, and the GOP no longer needs such double-dealing in its ranks.

The Greatest Threat to the Body of Christ -- The Church

I have no particular interest in being petty or judgmental, necessarily.

I have come to this conclusion only after going into many church buildings, where the Pharisee spirit of "get in line with our teaching" has come to dominate the discourse of the community.

In some churches, men and women are convinced that still they must go through the motions of confessing their sin and working for his grace and forgiveness in their lives. They are refusing to rest in the knowledge and belief that Jesus Christ has paid for it all.

This mixed message is playing havoc with people's mind. Some of the parishioners behave better  than the clerics. The older class of individuals who attend these services give off the impression that they both know and believe better than everyone else. I was appalled at the rude comments which would fall out of the mouths of some elderly people in the churches which I had attended.

Church people can be the meanest people out there. I am certain that I was one of them, convinced that if I did more things for the church, if I helped out in kid's clubs, if I went to Bible studies, if I went out and told people about Jesus, then I would be a "good little Christian boy" with no qualms before God the Father.

Of course, this was never the case. Much of the time, I found myself involved in activities which did not magnify the love of Jesus and His Finished Work. In many cases, the believers whom I sat and worshipped with would talk about Jesus as if He were not even in the room. It was a sad sight, to say the least. Jesus gets a lot of attention from our mouths, but then we spend the rest of the time focusing on ourselves and what we must do for Him.

Where have we gotten these ridiculous ideas from? The Bible is clear -- we are dead in our trespasses from the moment that we emerge from our mother's womb, and only the life of Jesus Christ sets us free from sin then grants us the liberty to walk in His Spirit and serve Him in His strength.

For too long, this has been lost on almost every church that I have attended, even Lutheran and  Four Square churches, both Protestant denominations which have done nothing to advance our righteous standing before God because of all that He had done for us. Jesus is so wonderful, yet to this day many believers have not yet even begun to taste and see how good the Lord is!

Instead, the jealousies and rage and hurting and devouring that carry on in many churches discourages people from doing anything. It also discourages people, myself included, from going to church on a regular basis, only to hear demands and not the supply which we receive by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us!

I cannot believe the amount of back-biting and gossip which is so pervasive in many churches. Sometimes, I am so tempted to get upset, upset, upset, but that I see that this is just a set-up, and in Christ I am already seated in heavenly places.

Prayer meetings have turned into covens where old women dish on the latest news about other members in the local church, then the women sit around for hours begging God to move in their lives, when from the Cross until today the Holy Spirit has never stopped moving, and if we would only believe, then He can move His grace into our lives.

I was offended at one church, when one elderly lady insulted me when I refused to drop everything and run down to Mexico to build a house for the impoverished indigenous people in Ensanada. Even from an economic standpoint, such pious charity does more harm than good. What use is there to live in a new home if you still have a spirit of poverty, shame, and condemnation which holds you back from doing anything?

How many people have I run into in local churches who are scurrying around doing, doing, doing, and in all of their doing, the badger and bully others, shaming them because they are not as busy as they? All of this provocation is no good, and does no good.

Let us rest in what Jesus has said to us:

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. " (Matthew 11: 28-30)

We are called to rest in Him, for Jesus is our rest. Sadly, many church people know nothing about rest, which in fact is the Promise which God the Father has left to us:

"There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." (Hebrews 4: 9)

Have you entered into this rest? Does it mean that we "do nothing"?

Paul cuts through that folly right away:

"But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1  Corinthians 15: 10) 

God's grace flows in us when we stop striving in our own efforts. When we let our flesh rest dead, then the Spirit of God flows, flows, flows. His grace glows, glows, glows in us, too, and the Light of God's Truth shines forth in us to a dark world:

"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid." (Matthew 5: 14)

Yet back to the issue of bitterness and back-biting in the Body of Christ. The biggest reason, I believe, as do many believers and teachers, is that many people are still trying to please a God who has called us fully justified and wants to fully supply all our needs:

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4: 13)


"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4: 19)

The way that many believers live, though, they act as if Jesus is outside of us, or even if He lives within us, He is nagging us for not doing enough for Him.

Yet the two verses make it crystal clear that He is working, not us!

The members of the Body of Christ do not believe that they are full righteous, yet that indispensable element is crucial to fellowship:

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1: 7)

The Blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing us, therefore we have no further reason to keep looking at ourselves to make sure that we are OK in God's eyes. We are called instead to fix our eyes on Him who called us, who redeemed us, made us righteousness and sanctified, and supplies us with all wisdom (1 Corinthians 1: 30).

When believers rest in the truth that they do not have to earn God's love -- as if they ever could! -- then the rivalry and rage will fall away. Men and women will spend time looking at one another's faults and fall in love with the Savior who gave us all, and still gives all, that we may in turn give all that we have to Him and to others:

"We love him, because he first loved us." (1 John 4: 19).

If we spent more time focusing on how much He loves us, then we find the grace and truth to go out and give the same to everyone else.

Sadly, though, many churches are still pushing a mixed-message on the world. God has died for us and given us His grace for forgiveness. The worst of sinners can then enter the church and receive goodness at the hands of God. But then after joining the church, he suffers under hurt and condemnation from the same people who so warmly accepted him just two weeks ago! This lack of love and tolerance is just stifling. No wonder people are leaving churches in growing numbers.

The greatest enemy to the Body of Christ is no longer Satan, who has been judged, but the erroneous teachings of men and women from elite seminaries who are receiving a mixed message about the grace of God, or who do know it yet refuse to preach it for fear of "losing control" of their congregations.

For this reason, I have not attended church in the last few  months. I see no value in attending services where people spend more time warring about social issues while railing against particular sins instead of rejoicing in the life and godliness and grace which we have receive through Christ Jesus.

I believe that a growing re-revelation or re-revolution of God's grace is hitting the world. From Bob George to Andrew Wommack to Joseph Prince of Singapore, and even here and now, the gospel in all of its fullness is preached, and for this cause Jesus call to us:

"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6: 29)


"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4: 17)

The more that we see Him, the more that we believe in all that He has done, then the more that we will see Him in us, and the more that He does in us for the world. This is the call of the Body of Christ, and at this time, the "little C" Church is not doing it.

Third Rock from the Son: Dick Solomon and the Lunch Lady

John Lithgow as Dick Solomon
Every workplace has certain people who just get on our nerves.

We assume, much of the time, that people can make us mad, when in truth, if we are established in our righteousness before God (Isaiah 54: 14), then no weapon can prosper against or tongue rail against us (Isaiah 54: 17).

Yet in our minds, in our bodies, sometimes there will still be the stress of people we just do not like.

Mean Lunch Lady -- A Picture of Our Adversary
For most people, the biggest challenge is the distraught secretary, one pushed to the edge so many times that she has grown accustomed to snapping at everyone. Then there's the Lunch Lady.

The Lunch Lady, or server, is usually some gruff and stuffy lady who is down on her luck, frustrated with her lot in life, and her only interest is heckling people that she "does not like."

I remember one scene from the hit sitcom "Third Rock From the Sun" starring John Lithgow as an alien disguised as a professor name Dick Solomon. He was living in Ohio with his three attending alien-space retinue, Tommy, Harry, and Sally. The show ran for five years, a great plot, set-up with the aliens in human bodies trying to make sense of the weird and wacky world of human beings.

Among the many challenges that this same professor, Dick Solomon, faced, there was the unique upset he dealt with when he confronted a fussy lunch lady at the university cafeteria. She was a squat, unhappy woman who would let everyone else get free crackers with their meal, but for Dick, she would charge him $. 25 cents.

At first, Dick obliged. The next time, he asked why he had to pay money while everyone else got something for free. She simply told him to pay up. The next few days, he realized that the lunch was targeting him. He did not know what to do.

First, he just walked up to her, asking why she was treating him so unfairly: "I just don't like you,"  was her answer, then she gave off a snide smile.

He tried smiling back, placating her, which did not work. He then brought her flowers, but that did not work either. Distraught, he started to cry in his office. Then his sweetheart Mary Albright walked in and asked him what was wrong.. When he cried about how the Lunch Lady was so mean to him, picking on him to pay for crackers when everyone else would get them for free.

Do you have someone like that in your workplace? In your home? Perhaps a nosy neighbor down the street? If you are a believer, you have such an Adversary -- Satan -- and his messengers.  But they have no power. And some people in your life who attempt to frustrate you are struggling with fear, anger, or upset, unsure of who they are, so the best they can do is "attack".

Dick's girlfriend Mary refused to pity Dick. "You can't let one person ruin your life," she adamantly told him. He still cried, sobbed, not knowing what to do at all. "I'll just have to start eating my lunch elsewhere!" he complained. Mary could not believe Dick's cowardice. Why would he cut and run from a lunch lady when he had faced down so many other challenges in his life? Of course, Mary had no knowledge that Dick was an alien from outer space, and no doubt he had faced many other problems of a universal magnitude in his life.

So, at once he resolved that he was not going to let this lunch lady get on his nerves. Her only jollies was getting under his skin, and so he decided to beat her at her own game.

The next time he lined up at the cashier, he dumped a whole bunch of quarters on the counter, and took all of the cracker packages. He then set at a table right across from the cashier, looked the Lunch Lady in the eye, then went about munching, munching, munching away. Instead of smiling, the squat and unhappy lunch lady got madder and madder.

Solomon disarmed the one element that the Lunch Lady had over Dick, and from that point on the alien-turned-professor had no more problems.

The more that I reflect on this moment in TV comedy, the more I realize what it is about certain people who hurt our feeling, who make us scared. Just as Dick was targeted and made to feel '' left out", so people who make us feel "reproached" or "ashamed" cause us to feel dis-ease, then fear in our lives.

When we rest in our righteous standing before God, which works by faith in God's unconditional love for us, we find that all of our fears are banished altogether, and we then discover that people who used to "make us mad" no longer have the power to upset us!

Our greatest enemy is either ourselves, the Enemy, or the world -- and all have been crucified, judged, and overcome in Christ. Do not look at your problems. Rest in our righteous standing before God the Father in His Son, and let the Holy Spirit in your heart minister to you that you are righteous, righteous, righteous! -- and there is nothing that you, the devil, or the world can do about it!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Mr. Destiny" -- A Different Take

Mr. Destiny Poster
A Different Take
The first time I formed a real set of views about movie, I was surprised to learn that many people had arrived at a different conclusion, or interpretation, of the film entirely.

I felt kind of proud about having a different point of view about something compared to the older people who commented on the movie in commercials,  endorsing the film for others to see it.

The film that comes to mind when I think about this unique discrepancy is "Mr. Destiny", starring James Belushi and co-starring Michael Caine.

The film starts out with Belushi, playing a middle-aged man named Larry Joseph Burrows, who in  many ways is burrowed in problems. He has a bad 35th Birthday, to start out. No breakfast to start off. The contractor working on the front of his home refuses to get anything done. Yet he still ends up writing the guy a check.

Then he gets to work, where he discovers that his boss is engaged in some compromising, illicit activities. Instead of getting any kudos for finding out what happened, he gets fired. Last of all, his car breaks down, a piece of junk which barely starts then gets nowhere fast.

He ends up at a corner bar, where he meets Mike, or Mr. Destiny, played by Michael Caine.

Burrows settles down to complain about the nasty turns which his life has taken. If only he had made that home run when he as a kid playing in a local little league game, his life would have turned out much differently, or so he thinks.

Little does Burrows realize, but the bartender puts together a "magical drink", one which lets him go back in time, hit the homerun, get ushered off the field in praise, then move on in the world to becoming the head of the very company he was working for as a middling manager.

So, Burrows experiences a totally new life, one which based on having hit that one homerun in little league that changes his life into wealth, health, and all kinds of success.

The bartender, Mike, now tags along from time to time, like a guardian angel of sorts, outlining for him the major transformations which have taken place in his life. He finds that he is  married to the elderly CEO's  daughter, too, not the wife whom he had left at home the day before, when he was just a middling manager.

So, he is rich, he has everything that he could want -- yet he is not happy. Even though he is married to the boss' daughter and looks to inherit the company, he falls in love all over again with the woman he had first marrried.

He reaches out to her again, has fun with her at the same old haunts. His liaisons with a different woman, however, sets off the ire of rich wife whom he has married in this alternative. Then another employee, the same man who as the boss in Burrow's previous life. This man ends up killing the CEO of the company, yet implicates Burrows in the death. The police go to arrest him, but the main character runs for help.

Frantic to get away from this life, Burrows drives back to the same bar. He scurries around to find Mike the bartender, yet when he cannot find the guy, he starts mixing a drink for himself, trying to find the same  concoction which blasted him into this alternative universe.

Instead of police, a tow-truck man appears at the door. Burrows is back in his old life as a middling manager, and he is grateful. Later than evening, he returns home, giving up his junkie car to the tow-truck man. Just as he walks in, "Suprise!" all of his co-workers, plus his lovely wife, throw him a big birthday party. The son of the elderly CEO arrives in time to give him a big present -- Burrows is offered the job which belonged to his boss, the same man who had fired him because he was engaging in illicit activities on the job.

The day ends pretty well for Mr. Burrows.

After I saw that movie, I was really surprised by how many people took the film as an aggrandizing invitation for people to pursue their dreams, that whatever people wanted in life, that the could go out and get it for themselves.

I did not get that message from this movie. James Belushi's character did have all of his dreams come true, he did get what he wanted, he got to go back in time and fix the "mistake" which he thought had ruined his life. Yet for all of those changes, it did not make his life any better. He missed his wife, even though in his "better life" he was married to the CEO's daughter. He faced immense pressures as a major leader in a company that he did not want to be in.

The message which I gathered from this film, which I hope that more people would have taken, is that no matter how bad your life circumstances may seem, it is not going to stay that way. Wishing that certain things had not happened in the past will do nothing to create a peace for the present or prosperity in the future.

Instead of a change in his life, Burrows received a change in his attitude, choosing not to feel bad that he had stood up to his boss, even if he ended up losing his job. Just because he had a bad day did not mean that he was destined to have a bad life. Just because he missed out on an important play in the past, just because he made a set of bad choices earlier in his life, that did not mean that he was doomed to having absolutely nothing to look forward to.

It's not so much that our dreams have to come true as that we see better than our dreams taking place in our lives. When we refuse to get down on ourselves because of our circumstances, when we resist the nasty challenges of the present and ignore the blunders of the past, then and only then do we receive the grace to win and reign in life, and we witness the worst-cases scenarios turn into blessed certainties in our lives.

Our dreams do not depend on our past, our failures do not dictate our future. This is the message that more people need to receive in their lives.

On the Armor of God

Many people who went to Sunday School -- or Children's Church, if you prefer -- learned about the Armor of God:

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

"Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

"And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

"Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" (Ephesians 6: 11-17)

Most Sunday School -- or Children's Church -- lessons break down each element of the Armor of God. Some pastors will outline at length the basis of each piece of the Christian soldier's regalia.

However, Paul uses different comparisons when discussing the Armor of God:

"But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." (1 Thessalonians 5: 8)

In two different epistles, Paul identifies the breastplate with righteousness and with faith and love.

The helmet is outlined with "salvation" and "the hope of salvation".

For this post, I just want to discuss a different element of these powerful scriptures.

In most teachings, the lesson separates and analyzes the diverse parts of the Armor of God, yet the distinct categories attached to the different parts in Ephesians then in First Thessalonians suggest that rather than pulling them apart, the believer needs to look at the whole regalia as one composite whole.

Who is our righteousness? Who is our hope of salvation? Who is the Truth? Jesus Christ, from the top of the helmet to the soles of our feet, and in Him our lives are hid:

"For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Colossians 3: 3)

Christ is our refuge, our strength. These elements of the Roman fighting apparel come together in Christ Jesus. Instead of breaking apart and analyzing the separate parts, let us rather focus on the Person in whom we have our refuge, strength, and power to do all that we are called to do!

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4: 13)

In the Body of Christ, let us stop separating and parsing out differences. Christ is simple (2 Corinthians 11: 3). Let us rest in His greatness, and let His life be released in us!

About the Fruits of the Spirit

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

"Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5: 22-23)

In Sunday School, which for me met on Wednesday nights, too (They called it "Kids Club"), I learned about the different "fruits"of the Spirit. For the next nine weeks, the pastor for "Kids Club" taught us about each of the "fruits" of the Spirit.

Yet the Bible is very clear: the FRUIT -- singular -- of the Spirit -- IS -- singular again!

The notion that we are to cultivate these different fruits in our lives is unscriptural.

Teaching each of these attributes of God's Spirit as if they are distinct and independent makes no sense, either.

Paul makes clear the composite whole of the results of the fruit of the Spirit:

"I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5: 16)


"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Galatians 5: 25)


"Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." (Romans 13: 10)

We are not called to focus on the fruit. Trees do not strive to bear fruit, but rather the branches rest in the trunk, in the main part of the tree, out of which flows the sap, which travels into the branches, and thus brings forth the fruit.

This illustration Jesus gave to His disciples just before He was sent to be crucified:

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman." (John 15: 1)

Jesus is our vine. He provides for us all that we need.

"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." (v. 2)

"Taketh away" is better translated "lifteth up" -- for our Father the Husbandman will not just toss away a branch that is not bearing fruit, but will place a stone under a failing branch so that with the support the branch will receive more strength to bear fruit. As every branch continues to bear fruit, God the Father will cleanse, water, and prune back anything which impedes the branches from bearing, which is any effort on our part to do anything apart from Him.

"Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." (v. 3)

What greater endorsement are we seeking than to know that in Christ's Word, we are made clean, purified. The more that we come to God's Word, the cleaner we become, the more fruitful we become in Him.

'Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." (v. 4)

We do not focus on the fruit, we do not focus on ourselves, we focus on the vine. We rest in the Same Power who framed the universe by speaking forth, the same God who became a man to live out the life that He now lives in every believer.

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15: 5)

Jesus tells us again -- "I am the vine." We are the branches, called to depend on Him for all things. In no way should we think, or presume, or limit ourselves to depending on our own strength for anything.

In Children's Church, the students need to learn not about the FRUITS, for every aspect, from love to goodness to temperance, is brought forth in us by the Holy Spirit, who manifest Christ in us, our hope of glory. Focus on the Vine, for in Him is the fullness of life!

Christie's Key Note Before the Keynote Speech

I could not get enough of New Jersey Governor Christie’s Keynote Speech at the GOP National Convention this past week.

However, Christie’s comments about the tarnished mess in California also got my attention. I was hopping mad about the current fiscal straits in my home state, then hoping again that just as the Garden Shine is seeing some green again, that indeed the Golden State may shine once more – with real leadership that will tell the voters the truth.

“Jerry Brown is an old retread”, Christie shared with the California GOP delegation before his Keynote speech.

Jerry Brown won the New Jersey Presidential Primary in 1976: a telling case for how out-of-touch the illiberal liberal Governor “Moonbeam” was and always will be. Bill Clinton hammered Brown for wanting to undo Prop 13, the only safeguard protecting California voters for the rapacious state legislature.

Governor Brown even had the audacity to scold Governor Christie:  “Stop telling people I’m trying to raise their taxes.”  Despite offering the voters a choice, Brown has millions to support tax increases that will hurt businesses. While supporting tax hikes on consumers, Brown refuses to stand up to the public sector unions who bleed California dry yet still demand more.

 “New Jersey, you’re stuck with me,” Governor Christie has shared on more than one occasion.

Instead of a failed seminarian, now a bald, tired Sacramento hold-over who eschews leadership, I would rather be stuck with a federal prosecutor who tells the truth and gets the job done.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One More Trend in "School News"

Also in the "School News" publication, I noticed that some school districts, the superintendents crowed that they provided their student with a public education at a private school price.

Why do public school administrators go out of their way to compare their schools and services with private firms?

The efficacy of private schools is past question. These institutions must respond the needs and interests of the parents and the students. If they fail to provide a safe and fruitful learning environment, then the consumers can pull out their kids and go elsewhere.

Unfortunately, in more impoverished neighborhoods, public schools, with the help of compulsory attendance laws, stifle inner city families' quest for prosperity and social mobility. Students have to go the local school just because it's close, and the districts do not go out of their way to inform parents that there are oblique, arcane options for them to enroll elsewhere.

My father had to drive to Downtown Los Angeles to file paperwork so that I did not have to go to the local Los Angeles Unified high school, one where riots took place on an all too frequent basis. My father told me that he would move heaven and earth to attend the high school in a smaller local district, or enroll me in a private school.

Yet how parents have the time, the means, or the tenacity to jump through so many bureaucratic hurdles? How parents know that they have an option? Most public schools will do all that they can to prevent prospective enrollees from fleeing to another school district.

Because of these outrageous zipcode laws, more prosperous and prominent school districts will require new students to prove residence. As an aid in my high school counseling office, how many times did I hear the secretary demand from prospective parents to provide two proofs of residence:

"Trash, electric, water, but no phone bills" -- apparently, phone bills were easy to manipulate, easy to forge false addresses with. I do not understand why parents should be punished because they want their kids to go to a good school? I do not care how many new buildings our local school districts set up, they need to build up quality programs and effective teachers in the classrooms. All the top-down reforms are not working. Oversight has led to more unsightly oversight, or rather "Over-Look".

Competition is the engine that will prime the pump of innovation, not more rules and regulations which teachers can ignore and administrators can neglect to enforce. Private schools change and improve because they have to, or the competition will eat them up. To this day, public schools do not have to compete, and therefore they do not compare to the quality education which students can receive in private schools.

This trend is made manifold and manifest in "School News", where the higher-performing public schools advertize a "private education">

"School News": Hermosa Beach vs. Inglewood

"School News" Roll Call prints a summary of each of the 80 school districts in Los Angeles County.

Of the many subtle yet unsettling elements which I discovered in this paper, one features the prevalence of advertisements for school construction companies. Balfour Beatty occupies the entire inside front cover, taking in a great deal of attention for the casual observer who picks up and glances through the publication.

Even though schools are laying off and even closing throughout the county, the building craze is in full swing. From the Beach cities to the mountains, schools are expanding with new facilities. Whether there will be teachers to staff these new classrooms is another matter entirely.

Then the contents of "School News" grabs the reader. The eighty superintendents throughout the county have outlined the important and glowing stats for their respective districts.

The two most contrasting appear on adjacent pages: Hermosa Beach City School District and Inglewood Unified. Hermosa Beach is one of the higher performing schools in the country, with API scores in the upper 900s. The city school district has one K-2 Campus, and the other, Hermosa Valley, serves students 2-8. The superintendent who provided a description of the district, Dr. Bruce Newlin, minced no words about the unprecedented challenges which face the district:

"We are faced with the cost-cutting problems that all district in the state are faced with and like those other districts we are having to reduce the kinds of services we provide and to cut back on the people who provide those services. The net result is that our education programs will be dramatically impacted and our focus on quality will take a back seat to survival."

This grim appraisal sums up the descriptive outline of Dr. Newlin's district. He pulls no punches, writes the situation as it is, no pretense.

In stark contrast, superintendent Gary McHenry of Inglewood Unified, one of the poorest and most dysfunctional districts in the county, presents a rosy picture that "all is well" in  his district.

"Despite the low socio-economic level of students district-wide, IUSD elementary schools have earned national and international recognition for their out-standing [sic] performance."

So far, so good, so it seems.

"The Inglewood Unified School Districts [sic] strengths are demonstrated in its support from various partners, including local businesses, organizations, and institutions of higher learning." This is one of the vaguest promotions in the entire publication."

Yet for all these simple niceties, not one mention is made of the repeated financial failures and legal wranglings which are bringing the district into receivership by the state. Despite promoting a new school on La Tijera Blvd, no  mention is made of how this school completely failed to boost the drastically declining enrollment of a failed district which has received wide and diverse press for its record failure to educate inner city youth. The outlandish white-washing which persists in Mr.  McHenry's account of Inglewood Unified is a slap in the face to every reader, every share-holder, bond-holder, stake-holder, and stock-holder in the South Bay, in statewide education, or who even picks up a newspaper once a year, only to find another shocking story of epic failure in Inglewood Unified.

Hermosa Beach is a high-performing district facing immense financial difficulties, yet their chief spokesman did not hide these grim realities. In contrast, Mr. McHenry of IUSD gives the biggest spin of "We're just fine!" when nothing could be further from the truth. This everyone in the South Bay knows, and the Inglewood Superintendent is without excuse attempting to foist upon a casual reader that all is well, when that is just not the case.

Paul Supporters Insupportable

Paul Has Run the Race
I liked Ron Paul. I liked his constant and consistent advocacy of fiscal discipline without compromise, demanding an end to the Fed, and end to all the wars, all the  military bases, all the spending.

He even changed his mind about the Death Penalty, where as the Libertarian candidate for President, he supported capital punishment, he since then rescinded his support for the terrible measure.

Ron Paul is fiscal discipline with a capital "F. D." Sadly, his insistence received no assistance in Congress. His following, however dutiful across the country, was as deep as the Mariana Trench, yet as wide as a micrometer. Such diligence cannot delegate, let alone style itself a "revolution."

Rand His Son Will Take His Place
His foreign policy credentials were not credible, either. Unlike the Soviet Union or other previous hostile states, Iran's leadership subscribe to a fanatical, monomaniacal religious system, aberrant and abhorrent. Free trade works with free people, or at least with state which minimally respect the sanctity of their people's lives. Iran's theocracy thinks nothing of dropping nuclear bombs, wiping out a third of the world's population, and thus welcoming in the Muslim Messiah in an apocalyptic finale of fire and brimstone.

Ron Paul had a sound, though controversial fiscal policy of cut, cut, cut. Now if only his supporters would cut their incendiary insistence on rallying around the man. He lost the election. He gathered very little support during the GOP primaries. He fared terribly even in the caucus states, where he commanded very little support.

Paul's message is not lost, and his impact will be felt for years to come, starting with his Junior Senator son Rand of Kentucky, who is pushing "Right to Work" legislation while demanding a thorough audit of the Fed. Unlike his House bound father, Rand Paul is connecting with legislators from both sides of the aisle, making deals instead of just dealing out libertarian truth to an illiberal political class. His purpose, his prowess, deserves all the attention. Father Ron has run his race. Now his troops must get in line behind Romney, stop Obama, diffuse the tax bomb about to  drop January 2013, and get this country back on track.

Inglewood Unified Not out of the Fiscal Woods

Inglewood Unified School District is one of the most corrupt and dysfunctional districts in Los Angeles County. A report as far back as 1998 in LA Weekly  exposed a culture of failure and outrageous misconduct from administrators and classified personnel.

The enrollment for this district has plummeted in recent years, to such drastic lows that for two years in a row it seemed as if the school would inevitably enter into receivership.

While I was earning my credential at Cal State Long Beach, one of the teachers-in-training whom I was working with also worked as a substitute teacher in Inglewood. He reported that most subs would show up to work and talk on the phone all day. Some idealized graduate students, "true believers" in public education had stooped down from their Ivory Towers of Harvard and Yale to reach out to the poor, urban, "ghetto kids."

That young man had overcome some really circumstances in his life. He had emancipated himself from his biological parents and was adopted by one of his teachers just before he reached majority. It was an inspiring story, and at the time he was earning a credential so that he could give back to the same students who were in the place where he was.

Still, his comments about Inglewood were anything but glowing.

As a substitute in the Lawndale District, I remember one elementary school teachers telling me how after eight years, she got so fed up with the corruption, that she left the district.

As a substitute at Leuzinger High School,  I talked with students who actually lived in Inglewood, but they preferred to enroll at Leuzinger, a school which to them was a marked improvement over their local high schools. For years, Leuzinger had one of the poorest reputations, so I was quite surprised when students told me that LZ was a better alternative to anything that was available to them in Inglewood.

Last year, as a substitute for the county, I received a phone call informing me that I was assigned to be a substitute teacher of Inglewood Unified, even though at the time I was not on call to that district,  nor did I have any intention of working there. The human resources technician for Inglewood Unified informed me that I just needed to bring some paperwork in order to register as a subsitute for the district. The real issue, that my name was dropped and then implemented for the Inglewood sublist, still escaped this person. I thought that was a big problem, considering that I had assumed such information would remain confidential. As a county employee, my name was released to the Inglewood staff as a relief effort for the district, since they could not get enough substitute teachers. This was 2011, at a time when the district was already facing multi-million dollar shortfalls, with employees facing the prospect of not even getting paid.

And the Inglewood staff actually assumed that I was going to pull up stakes and take off north of Imperial Highway to cover classes for a week? They had even assigned me to the classes without my permisssion, so I cancelled right away.

Another student informed me about the growing number of charter schools breaking out in the region. The residents of that community wanted something better, and therer were plenty of entrepreneurs who would go out of their way to cull enrollment from the hordes of dissatisfied students and parents in the Inglewood area.

One young man whom I now who works near me told me that his parents pulled every string to enroll him in Westchester High School, as far away as possible from Inglewood Unified.

I could go on and on with the stories, both personal and in print, which I have learned about dictating and indicting Inglewood schools for their poor performance and culture of intellectual impoverishment.

The LA Times reported that parents got tired of the poor education that their children were receiving, or rather enduring. Teachers were unable to control their classrooms. Students were learning nothing, faring poorly on the standardized tests, even though on their report cards they were earning A's and B's. This kind of ghetto pity-pandering is prominent in urban public schools, a travesty of the public education model from which working-class parents cannot escape.

In California Crusader News , I read at the back of the paper every week for months about  a new middle school that was being built on La Tijera Blvd. This new school, later showcased once again in the LA Times, turned out to be another multi-million dollar boondoggle which failed to shore up the bleeding enrollment fleeing the district. The huge, risky investment turned out to be the very waste which certainly every share-holder and community member predicted that it would.

Such startlingly poor decisions cannot go unchecked for much longer. This nonsense is insany, pure and simple. Just revisiting these poor fiscal judgment should motivate men in power to demand a dissolution of school district bureaucracy without fail.

Now Inglewoood Unified is going to receive a $54 million loan, more non-money thrown after bad form the broken and broke Sacramento machine. The state superintendent will be taking over the school district to make the most of the public education debacle into which the neighborhood youth have been force to fess up to and dispense with.

 When will this insanity stop? More government, more waste, more fraud, more leaders and teachers reaching for the sky instead of helping students to reach for the stars. Inglewood once again is lost, lost, lost in the fiscal woods, with no light to shine the way out.

Harry Bridges Span School

Now Los Angeles Unified has added the dubious distinction of naming a school after an avowed communist. Is collectivization the central theme of public education now? Do not our children deserve real training in how economies work, as oppposed to the idealized pablum of "unity" which forces change or closes down the workplace?

Harry Bridges, a native Australian then West Coast transplant was instrumental in the foundation and then the proliferation of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, is the name sake for a new K-8 span school in Wilmington. This is a  new low for public education, exposing the bias which has nurtured the entitlement mentality of "99%"ers convinced that the world, the state, the group, and the groupthink which defines these collective measures, is the source of prosperity and peace in the world.

Another commonwealth man, Englishman William Hutt, produced the most comprehensive body of research and inquiry outlining the dangers and dysfunctions of unions and strike-actions. Instead of assisting individual workers, work actions create inaction while frustrating the liberty of individuals who want to work. There is no justification whatsoever for a group of workers, once leaving the job, then to preven the company or other workers from stepping in to take their place.

What are the long-term effects of union actions? Stores close, thus expanding the unemployment ranks. The price of the work increases, which is then passed onto the cosumers, while diminishing the wages of other workers. The actions are an encroachment of free speech and free enterprise, a use of force, even if the unions are private collectives striking against another private entity. Union action disrupts the price system for labor and product.

Notwithstanding the research which Mr. Hutt collected then presented, his work fell into disinterest and obscurity, even in his own lifetime, a sad fact which he joked about as a visiting professor to another institution.

Superintendent John Deasy shared the following at the open ceremonies for the school:

"From health care to all, to a living wage, to retirement, to free speech" -- these were the values which Harry Bridges stood for.

Health care of all -- have we seen one country where the policy of providing health care for everyone, no matter what the cost, has had any succcess? From the NHS in Great Britain, to the single-payer system in Canada, free health care has become long lines, rationing, and less adequate service all around.

"A living wage" -- what is that, exactly? How many economists have raged about the inherent frustration of forcing states to offer a certain wage, no matter what? The result is more unemployment, inflation, and less purchasing power every time. These sound bites are socially satisfying, but the working man can do much better without "help" from the state.

Random Lengths "Tripping" into the Future

The editing of Random Lengths News leaves much to be desired.

The subtitle for the editorial reads "Aiken", while the impolitic political cartoon next to the editorial reads "Dr. Akin's Guide to the Female Body."

I think that RLN should be "achin'' for a better editor.

At any rate, the notion that people look at San Pedro/Wilmington when things go bad, and see "The Port of Los Angeles" when things go well is more a function of which part of the city is thriving and which is diving.

The Port of Los Angeles takes in much of the press, good or bad, just by being the largest port in the country. If Downtown San Pedro truly wants to market itself, why not find a way to make living and shopping and going about one's life and times in the region a matter of more private initiative?

Getting rid of all those parking meters was a good start, even though the city spent all the money which it had made from the parking meters just to take them down again. Who is in charge of these inane policies? Where as Councilwoman then Congresswoman Janice Hahn when the meters were installed in the first place?

I wish that city and community leaders would get made enough to see the insanity that comes out of Downtown. Joe Buscaino should spend every minute of every day pushing for secession from the Empire of Los Angeles, and fast! Wilmington has a strong tax base, does it not? Time to dial back on the 1909 "consolidation".

As for Akin's "legitimate rape" comment, the real "lemmings" appear to be the mainstream media and the alternative media outlets which are marching in lock-step lunacy pillorying a Congressman whose gaffe poorly articulated the legal differences of forcible rape versus statutory rape. Vice Presidential candidate candidly cut through the crap during one interview, stating, "Rape is rape!" That is the final issue. However, since the media cannot ignore the flaps which fly out of the mouths of social conservatives, pundits will keep pounding Akin, who has rebounded from this debacle and is steadily moving back into the fight against "Tax-and-Spend" Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

Dredging in Redondo Beach

The 33rd Congressional District encompasses the entire Santa Monica Bay, from Palos Verdes to Malibu.

Redondo Beach is growing out because the US Army Corps of Engineers from the entrance channel of Marina del Rey so that Emergency responders can more easily enter the Marina.

The Port of Long Beach will also be receiving sand from Marina del Rey as part of its Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project.

Where has all the sand gone? Marina del Rey is opening up to more traffic, apparently, for better or for worse.

First Malibu reports that its shoreline is receding, then Redondo Beach gets extra coastline, instead. Why did the state of California not direct the extra sand to Malibu in the first place?

This is an interesting trend.

1944 -- The Year of Bipartisan Zionism

Rafael Medoff's editorial "Turning Point" was an informative piece which I discovered in the 8/23 edition of the LA Times.

FDR commanded a hefty share of the Jewish vote in for his first two terms. Yet his slow resolve to assist European Jewry plus his reluctance to push Britain to free up Palestine into a Jewish state frustrated many Jewish constituencies in this country.

In 1944, the Republican Party began to seek the Jewish vote actively, refusing to let the Democratic party hold its grip on the ethnic current in the country.

The same resolve is manifesting the GOP today, except this time the GOP is reaching out the Hispanics and Blacks in greater number. Governor Mitt Romney just released a commercial targeting Hispanics, a voting bloc which is suffering under an unemployment rate two points higher than the national average.

US Senate candidate Ted Cruz identified a crucial element of the Hispanic community: very rarely will anyone run into a Hispanic homeless person. The work ethic of this constituency connects very well with the elements of individual responsibility and efficacy promoted by the Republican party.

At any rate, 1944 was the year that Jewish liaisons with the GOP pushed the Democratic party to expand its platform to recognition of the plight and place of European Jewry, including a future Jewish state in Palestine.

The Jewish vote is up for grabs once again, as Jewish activists and Zionists are appalled at the poor reception which Israeli officials have endured from President Barack Obama, an executive who has placed conformity and complacency ahead of the well-being of Israel, an executive who has the incorrigible audacity to lecture to the Prime Minister that his nation should entertain land swaps while returning back to the pre-1967 borders. Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to counter such a reprehensible suggestion with anything but a firm explanation at a joint press conference, a fully justified explanation which left the President ham-handed and shunned.

1944 was the year of bipartisan Zionism, but 2008 to today has witnessed a shift in the Democratic party, at least according to its elected chief, that has placed global equality and appeasement over the best interests of this nation's one stable Western ally in thr Middle East.

Malibu's Receding Shoreline

Getting to Close to the Water?
I have heard of receding hairlines. Bosley Hair Restoration or Rogaine is the way to go if a man wants to regain his mane.

Now I am reading about receding shorelines. This is an interesting development.

The Beach Reporter recently shared that Malibu is "shopping for sand in Manhattan Beach"

Malibu, CA is shoreline all the way. Malibu's Broad Beach, north of Zuma, has diminished considerably, pushing the water levels closer to private properties. Other than the frequent transition shots from "Two and a Half Men", I have never gotten a long-lasting view of the shore, other than to view the waves lapping and slapping the jagged rocks, with the beautiful, multi-million dollar mansions looking over the wide Santa Monica Bay.

Residents of Malibu in the affected assessment district have assembled in order to appeal and then pay for sand to replenish their receding shoreline.

So severe has this recession of sand shore become that Malibu city leaders have appealed to Beach City neighbors south of Dockweiler.

Manhattan Beach heeded the call for "beach restoration".

Moving sand from one beach to another, though, is no small matter. Not just the money at stake, $20 million, not just the amount of sand -- 600,000 cubic yards -- but the shoots and ladders that Malibu will have to jump and slide through is just staggering

The State Lands Commission has stepped in to assess the impact on the coastline, which is a public of the entire state.

The California Coastal Commission, which will issue the permit to move the sand, has initiated its own investigation.

Even the US Army Corps of Engineers is getting involved. With all of these agencies and bureaucratic hurdles, one wonders if the city of Malibu will still be standing once the barges barge in on the North Shores of Manhattan Beach and start collecting the sand.

"Rogaine" for Seashores has not yet been prepared, so  dredging is the next best option.