Thursday, March 28, 2013

Leftist Ridicule, "Right" Response, "It's Pirate Time!"

I have been learning a lot about the Left and its tactics in shaming conservatives, Republicans, and anyone who resists certain cultural changes at the expense of others.

Saul Alinsky's "Rules of Radicals" has served as a potent vehicle of outline and detailing the tactics which modern liberals, the media, and other leftist elites have used against the political opposition. Here is one of his rules:

"Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage."

Amelia Hamilton of "Red Alert Politics" commented on this tactic:

"Alinksy’s fifth rule is a favorite tactic employed among the Left – one hardly has to look at all to find evidence of it in use today. The Left is ready and willing to mock just about anything to tear it down.”

She later concluded:

"We need to learn to do the same as it’s an easy and effective method to combat those on the Left."

In other words: "It's Pirate Time!"

So exhorted Peggy Noonan, syndicated columnist of "The Wall Street Journal" to her conservative colleagues. What is it about pirates, or any other rebels, that makes them impervious to shame, blame, and regret? They live by a different code, they identify with their cause, they are not afraid of the open waters, they are not afraid of being outcasts.

They scorn the shame of the "Establishment". Today, the "Establishment" is Big Government, statist status quo liberalism.

Let's take an example of how one can take ridicule, and turn it on the heads of those who attack. The Third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, articulated the same idea, but directed his attacks at Trinitarian theists:

“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.” --- Thomas Jefferson

One has to wonder whether Jefferson would start laughing at bumble-bees.

According to rational aerodynamic theory, they are not supposed to be able to fly. But they fly.

According to secular scientists, the world was created over millions of years. Yet who created the Beginning?

There are many things in our experience which defy explanation based on human reason or experience.

Let us consider also the personal conduct of Mr. Jefferson.

He penned the sentence: "All men are created equal", yet he owned slaves. He deserves ridicule for this, does he not? Should we discard the Declaration of Independence because the person who wrote the sentence did not live up to its ideals?

He claimed "We are all Republicans. We are all Federalists." Then he began reversing the number of people in government of the Federalist persuasion, only then to adopt a number of their policies.

Does Jefferson deserve ridicule for that, too?

What's the response to ridicule? Rejoice!

"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." (Matthew 5: 11)

Here are some modern examples of this gracious attitude:

"I wear their scorn as a badge of honor." -- Dan Quayle.

If anyone was a target for ridicule, it was Bush 41's Vice President. Yet one of his most telling exchanges occurred during the "famous" Bensten-Quayle Debate. The exchange went as follows:

Bensten: "I knew Jack Kennedy, I worked with Jack Kennedy. Sir, you are no Jack Kennedy." -- applause.

Quayle's response was dignified and cutting:

"That was uncalled for, sir." The applause which followed rivaled the response to Bensten's retort. Sadly, Quayle's response gets little press today.

Then there's Texas' US Senator Ted Cruz, who has not only stood up to Dianne Feinstein, but has also taken on the entire Senate and even members of the more "Establishment" Republican caucus. John McCain called Cruz a "wacko bird" for filibuster the nomination of John Brennan as Director of the CIA. Cruz's response:

“If standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then count me a proud wacko bird.” -- Ted Cruz

When people make fun of you that means that they have lost the argument, that whatever points they were standing on to make a point have failed. Then do what Andrew Breitbart did:

"Andrew's favorite tool was Twitter, where hateful leftists spewed enough bile at him to melt through six feet of titanium. Andrew was the father of the now famous Twitter tactic: retweeting the hate. He loved to show the world what nasty people resided on the supposed kind and intolerant left." Ben Shapiro, Bullies

Take their shame and scorn it. Take their hate, and expose their own shame. Until now, Conservatives and Republicans have been "civil", refusing to respond to the lies, distortions, and hate of the Democratic leaders and their media machines. It's time to scorn the shame and fight back, it's time to expose the corruption and disrespect of the Left toward the very people whom they claim to champion.

In short, GOP, it's pirate time!

How to Deal with Ridicule

What's the response to ridicule? Rejoice!
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." (Matthew 5: 11)

"Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake." (Luke 6: 22)

and also

"9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10)

More modern examples of this gracious example:

"I wear their scorn as a badge of honor." -- Dan Quayle


“If standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then count me a proud wacko bird.” -- Ted Cruz

When people make fun of you, that means that they have lost the argument, that whatever points they were standing on to make a point have failed. Then do what Andrew Breitbart did:

"Andrew's favorite tool was Twitter, where hateful leftists spewed enough bile at him to melth throgh six feet of titanium. Andrew was the father of the now famous Twitter tactic: retweeting the hate. He loved to show the world whjat nasty people resided on the supposed kind and intolerant left." Ben Shapiro, Bullies

Take their shame and scorn it!

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12: 2)

Jesus was good at shutting down the shame-based adversaries:
"And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

"And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him." (Luke 13: 16-17)

Scorn the shame, stand on the truth that you have been made the righteousness of God in Christ, and let His grace minister in you, and you will reign in life (Romans 5: 17)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jack Neworth is an Illegitimate Bully

As a California conservative Republican, and a one-time Bush supporter (barely), I shared with this paper that “Laughing Matters” Columnist Jack Neworth and I agree on Seinfeld. Despite our previous exchange about sitcoms (on TV and in D.C.), Neworth still engages in petty attacks against conservatives, Republicans, or anyone who else disagrees with him.

The last straw for me was “Todd Akin: Legitimate Idiot”. Granted, the US Senate candidate’s staunch views on abortion offended many. But name-calling and widespread humiliation is corrosive and distorted. One Democrat from Palos Verdes, and a Waxman supporter, asked me what Akin meant when he said “legitimate rape”. “He was distinguishing forcible rape from statutory rape,” I answered. After a lively conversation, his parting words were: “I do not agree with your views, but I respect you”.

“Respect” makes discussion and compromise possible, in life and in government. However, with the Left, this necessary trait is disappearing. Conservatives honor their opponents’ opposing views without demonizing, demeaning, or diminishing the other. Neworth, and a growing number of liberals and Leftists, including President Obama claimed that rural voters “get bitter and cling to their guns and their Bibles”. Neworth calls people “idiot” or “wacko”, even when we discussed President Bush, Iraq, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction. I shared that five separate intelligence agencies had reported WMD. Democrats supported the authorization for War in Iraq: Henry Waxman, Howard Berman, Brad Sherman, and even my friend from Palos Verdes. Was Iraq a mistake? Yes. Should we learn from it? Absolutely. Does that make me or them heinous hate-mongering haters? No.

Republican US Senator Bob Portman “came out” for gay marriage because his son revealed that he was gay. I do not support gay marriage, nor do I support making judgments about oneself based on “feelings”, but I do respect Portman and his son. The Senator also agreed that people can differ on this issue without being disrespectful. If individuals want to live a homosexual lifestyle, that choice belongs to them. “Tolerance” is my code, but this sentiment provoked one gay activist told me: “You have to accept me!” “Have to accept make as much sense as “legitimate rape”. A society that tells people that they have to accept anything becomes a society which dictates to people what they think, say, or do: a tyranny. Today, “liberal” elements in the media are waging “shame-based” tyrannies against individuals who disagree on issues of substance, who then end up recipients of vulgar slurs, name-calling, and baseless attacks. In other words, they “bully” others.

“Bullying” is a prominent problem today, and its greater purveyors are on the Left, including Santa Monica Daily Press’ own Jack Neworth. Like many liberals, they attack people instead of criticize issues; They defame people instead of delineate their arguments. “” editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro confronted one “bully”, CNN host Piers Morgan, about his open disrespect for gun-control opponents. Shapiro’s outlined the troubling trend of “debate” from the left in this country: “Here’s where you go into the bullying....For weeks now, you have been saying that anybody who disagrees with your position is absurd, idiotic, and doesn’t care about the dead kids in Sandy Hook. And then when I say that’s a bullying tactic, you turn around and say that I’m bullying you.” Shapiro ended up “bullying the bully” with facts and numerous refutations, while Morgan resorted to more name-calling and empty attacks. Finding common ground starts with permitting people to disagree. So far, this reciprocal candor remains missing from our local media, and Neworth’s columns are deepening the disrespect.

In his second inaugural address, President Bush said: “America will not pretend that . . . any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.” Journalist Andrew Breitbart often voiced in public: “I hate bullies!” Their comments should mobilize readers to respond to and resist the media-political bullying repetitions which vilify others. I for one am standing up to syndicated columnists, local or national, who castigate well-meaning, well-doing individuals because they disagree with the liberal arguments no pressing issues.

Because of his ongoing personal attacks against conservatives and Republicans, one can arrive at no other conclusion than the following: Jack Neworth is an illegitimate bully. (And there is something wrong with that!) If the differing parties in government or the media cannot respect others in spite of fundamental disagreements on pressing issues, then there can be no rational discussion and comprehensive compromise. Respect does not mean suppressing passion or enthusiasm for any cause, either. At the National Prayer Breakfast, Dr. Ben Carson denounced political correctness as “very dangerous,” that we should not let our emotional insecurities stifle others from sharing ideas and discussing issues. Carson then criticized President Obama’s policies without bullying the President. Why can’t the local media, including columnist Jack Neworth, command the same respect?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Christie, Gay Aversion Therapy, and Leadership

I am dismayed to read that Governor Chris Christie is opposing gay-aversion therapy. Frankly, he and other leaders in our political culture should take a stand for truth and mercy in dealing with this issue, which has become politicized, and thus more complicated than it needs to be.

Gay activists confront opponents with, "You have to accept me," that is, accept them as "born gay". Despite his abject, vocal protestations, homosexual conduct is a choice, and a bad one. Without considering the growing numbers who abandon the "gay" lifestyle, human beings who continuing practicing such conduct are courting disease, dysfunction, and ultimately death in their lives. Even in countries where "gay marriage" has been embraced for decades, the higher incidence of disease and death persists among those practicing homosexuality.

As for adolescents, they are striving for identity in a rapidly transforming world, transitions which are neither welcome nor heart-warming. The departure from childhood to maturity is based on defining ourselves not by how we feel, nor by what we think, or even the opinions of others, but rather establishing ourselves in line with something greater than ourselves.

Parents and other authority figures should not accommodate the "emotion pleas" of their youth when they claim that they are "gay" because they "feel" a certain "way."

At the 2012 Republican convention, Christie challenged President Obama: "Real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls." Governor Christie needs to challenge the popular views on homosexuality, our youth, and the broad domains of parenting.

Senator Rob Portman is Wrong: Gay is Not Good

US Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) is a conservative Republican. For a long time, he opposed gay marriage, along with the majority of members of his party. Recently, he discovered that his son was "gay", or that he revealed that he was gay. When he learned this information, Portman had a "change of heart" about the issue, and now he has "come out" in favor of "gay marriage".

His initial opinion on the matter was based on tradition, moral law, and the proper conduct and foundation for men and women in our society. After this personal revelation about his son, he has changed his mind. His take on the issue conflates a number of issues which deserve greater scrutiny.

Sexuality in itself is a choice. Attraction is a response to what we are thinking. Our thinking, or identity, our actions should not be a response to what we are feeling. The fact that Rob Portman as father is accommodating his son rather than instructing him, or even informing him of the poor consequences of his decision, is disconcerting.

The culture in this country is drifting toward accommodation instead of education on the issue of homosexuality, which is unfortunate. The boundary between childhood and maturity often rests on our growing reliance on truth and verities greater than ourselves, instead of resting and acquiescing to our sentiments. Human beings who make massive life decisions based on feelings are dooming themselves to limited lives with very little to live on besides a race of appeasing one's feelings or shifting one's circumstances to acculturate ourselves to comfort measures.

Homosexuality is a choice, and a bad one. The high incidence of disease, dysfunction, and death creates ample evidence to suggest that human beings would be wise to avoid such conduct. The larger number of people who engage in homosexual conduct, only to break away, settle down and marry, then have children, all but refutes the notion that people are "born gay".

Sex is also a choice, one based on a proper understanding of ourselves, and our bodies. The growing consensus is some religious communities, however, indicates that instead of walking by faith, feelings and the "facts" of the moment are dominant. Sexual conduct should not be determined by feelings alone, anyway. The consequences of unimpeded emotional leadings on sex in our society has contributed to the rising number of women having children out of wedlock. The long-term consequences of raising children without a stable home, with a mother and a father, are staggering.

Yet returning to the issue of homosexuality, the argument that people are "born gay" has no validity or reliability in empirical, historical, anecdotal, or even sociological literature. Even Tammy Bruce, the openly gay talk show host, acknowledges that she chooses to be a "lesbian."

Even the Ancient Greeks, who celebrated homosexuality, in the end promoted marriage as the means for procreation and civic life. Other tribal societies which permit such conduct do not establish such relations as the final norm. This issue rises above law, tradition, or even religion. The truth of the matter remains: homosexuality is a choice, and a bad one.

What has created this turn of events in our culture, that now men and women accept the idea that people are born "gay" or straight? First, a manifest of "radical individualism" has taught people that they are who they think they are. Unfortunately, the disparate opinions of individuals cannot carry a person. As a result, we are swayed by the opinions of men, the largeness of groups, and a massive conformity ensues. Portman is wrong to change his mind about the issue simply because his son "says" that he is "gay", when the very notion of identifying oneself by one's conduct is foolish. The poverty of identity in our world has led people to succumb to sexual urges as a defining element of who they are.

Furthermore, a culture of shame and conformity, which has replaced a commitment to greater realities beyond ourselves, and certainly our sentiments, has created these attitudes in our society. Rather than standing up for what people believe, a growing number of people are accommodating the perverse choices of the few, with a quiet disdain now giving way to a raving refrain of "bigotry", "prejudice" and "discrimination" for those who choose to speak the truth on the matter.

US Senator Bob Portman is wrong to change his views on gay marriage simply because his son announced that he was "gay". Instead, the growing acceptance for an aberrant lifestyle is now informing people to adopt the conduct as "normal", when a person's own body resists such interactions in the first place.

Portman did not have a "change of heart", as much as he has allowed his feelings to lead on this issue, as much as his son's feelings have dictated his own sentiments. A good father, and a good country, would never despise a person for abusing his body, but would instead remind him of his innate dignity as a human being, then contrast this truth with the damage which will ensue should he choose to practice homosexuality.

US Senator Bob Portman is wrong: gay is not good.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Governor Lincoln Chafee: Amend the Sins of Your Father! Resurrect Rhode Island!

Two problems plague Rhode Island: union hall dominance in the statehouse and tax-and-spend statism. Of course, the hostile business climate is not helping matters, but the first two deserve closer attention. No wonder some residents have complained that Rhode Island turning into a microcosm of socialism, in which the takers outnumber the makers.

Then again, the idea that Rhode Island, or any other state, is on the brink is pure lunacy. A comeback is always possible. If the dead can be raised back to life, since Easter is the time to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, along with the rebirth of nature following the dormant months of winter, then surely even a state saddled with a strange yet perverse legacy of spending and entitlement burdens can bounce back and recover. too.

Public sector employees received collective bargaining rights during the tenure of Governor John Chafee, a Republican who abandoned his principles, even the ones that he campaigned on to get elected.

He also instituted a state income tax. Lord have mercy!

Former Governor John Chafee's legacy is still chafing the residents of Rhode Island today, and the Republican Party. The latest Republican election is showing the signs of life, including the growing pains of the "Old liberal wing" vs. the new leadership that wants to keep the voice, stand on the values, then get the votes for the Republican Party.

In the meantime, Governor Lincoln Chafee has the opportunity to amend the mistakes, or to correct the failures of his father. By doing so, he can further establish his "Independent" status, the same way that Republicans can cheer when President Obama issues waivers for the very un-Republican mandate "No Child Left Behind".

Instead of getting rid of the sales tax, which GOP minority leader Brian Newberry had suggested, why not get rid of the income tax? New Hampshire only taxes dividends and interest. No income tax!

As for collective bargaining and pension reforms, Chafee can take a cue from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who works with private sector union party bosses in the Trenton state house. In one interview, Christie reminded the journalist that New Jersey laborers will thank him years down the road, because the reforms that he instituted saved their pensions. Christie also cut taxes three years in a row while balancing the budget to do so.

For a better example of collective bargaining reform, look no further than Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose "Act 10" reforms instituted paycheck protection for public employees, while also requiring them to contribute more toward their pensions, though not as much as employees in the private sector. The most important reforms, however, freed up school districts and cities to renegotiate expensive medical benefits and other labor contracts without the resistance of labor unions.

If that's not enough, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's "Workplace Fairness and Equity" reforms have freed up all workers in the Wolverine State. Now, workers can choose whether to join a union or not, and the unions will be able to prove beyond any doubt that they serve the best interests of their members. The latter two governors' proposals may shake up Chafee more than Christie's efforts, but Rhode Island has a history of upstarts and rebellion.

Collective bargaining reforms do not have to strip workers of their right to organize, nor their dignity to be represented. However, the onerous entitlement systems which previous administrations have signed off on, without consent or even consideration of future geneations of taxpayers, has created an unsustainable system of debt and demand which may destroy the state's fiscal viability.

General Treasurer Gina Raimondo deserves credit for her candor with Ocean State residents. However, Rhode Island Republicans are also devising plans which will respect the constributions of public workers, both occupationa; and financial, while instituting structural changes which will save the state, workers' jobs, and their pensions. Democrats want to keep putting more blood in the corpse, while Republicans want to bring the state back to life and thriving commerce.

Governor Lincoln Chafee, 'tis the season to celebrate sacrifice and resurrection, the death of the Old Covenant and the installation of the New. Breathe life back into your state, atone for the sins of your father, and abolish the state income tax and reform collective bargaining entitlements in Providence.

Rhode Island GOP: Find Your Voice, Define Your Values, Get the Vote!

The Rhode Island GOP seems to be divided. At least, that is the impression which the media would like to impress on readers. The same false divide has emerged throughout the nationwide press. Despite the poor national showing of the Republican Party in 2012, the same party controls thirty governorships, with supermajorities in state legislatures across the country. Conservatives and liberals were willing to join forces and create a coalition caucus in Washington state, normally perceived as a liberal state where Republicans do not fare as well.

In Rhode Island, the leadership for the Republican Party seems fought and fraught between a "liberal" Dan Harrop and the "conservative" Mark Smiley. Just for the sake of argument, not judgment or condemnation or bias, the words "liberal" and "conservative" have been cited with "quotation marks".

Instead of allowing the outside to define the inside, every party, Democrat or Republican, must unify around one "voice", but the "voice" or the identity of the party is much more than who is in charge. The person who leads must articulate the identity of the party. For the GOP in any state, including Rhode Island, the leader must advance a vision of free markets, free enterprise, and free people; limited government, local control, individual liberty. However, individual liberty and personal responsibility must go hand in hand, like love and marriage or a horse and carriage, a union of good will and strong sentiment which the Democratic Party has sought to divide, sever, or ignore altogether.

Rhode Island has turned into a microcosm of liberal-statist-socialist policies. Rising pension obligations (promises without any pretense of paying them, apparently), tens of thousands of people on food stamps, an anti-business climate, and a hostile tax system are scaring away free markets, diminishing free enterprise, and decimating free people in Rhode Island. Republicans already have the answer, but their voice and their values now are gaining alliance to present their message.

The voice of the Republican Party is free markets, free enterprise, and free people. Once the identity of the party has been established, the stance on social issues will fall into place, whether for the more "liberal" or more "conservative" elements within the party. A more libertarian approach is welcome in the Republican Party to begin with ,since the line of thinking adheres and advances limited government, local control, and individual liberty. Social conservatives should not be treated as outcasts or cast out, either. The "voice" allows for some freedom on the values (what each person wants, and what the party wants), yet the core mission of the party does not have to change.

With the unified voice and the aligned and defined values, the Rhode Island GOP will get the votes that you need, and these principles should define not just the head but the spirit of the statewide party.

Consider this parable from the early 1970's, in which President Richard Nixon chased after votes by denying his voice and his values, compared to Elvis Presley, he kept his voice, chose his values, and got more than he imagined.

Republican President Richard Nixon enacted a massive Southern Strategy, which integrated the former "Solid South" toward the Republican Party, yet at the same time he did not trample on the civil rights issue. Yet when Richard Nixon lost his voice, gave up his values just to get the voice, he lost the popularity of the people, and the votes to stay in office in the face of growing scandals about his executive staff.

Then there's Elvis Presley, whose name, some claim, is derived from the Greek work "elpis", Greek for "hope"(also the motto for Rhode Island). "Hope" is a confident expectation of good, by the way, one in which a man keeps his voice, retains his values, and gets the votes, or the popularity, without striving.

Nixon and Presley met in 1971. While "The King of Rock and Roll" was making millions, going places, doing great things, selling and wowing crowds, he also liked to collect police badges. One evening, he decided to call on President Richard Nixon and ask for a Drug Enforcement Agency badge, which would allow him to help President Nixon prosecute drug offenses. Hopping on a red-eye flight to Washington, he penned a letter to the President, sharing his respect and offering to assist the President. Within days, the White House staff arranged a meeting between "the King and the President." Photos of this unique meeting showcase Nixon admiring Presley, not the other way around, then a handshake, and Presley got his badge.

Just for the sake of power, Nixon gave up his voice and values. He sold out to win, and he ending up losing. Presley was graced with a great voice, which he refused to give up, a voice which he had from the beginning (just like the GOP). Presley knew his values (what he wanted), and he sold out concerts and made millions. He often got what he wanted, too, which included an audience with the President of the United States.

The Republican Party, like any party, must stand for something, or it will end up falling for anything. Instead of letting the culture shape the party, the Republicans in Rhode Island have the opportunity to start shaping their culture once again, which cannot happen if they do not choose the voice (who they are), or decide their values (what they want). The "Christie" Principle applies just as well to the status of the GOP in Rhode Island: "Real leaders change polls, not follow them."

Stay with the voice of free markets, free enterprise, and free people. Argue for the values that you want: a thriving Rhode Island where everyone has their own cart, instead of the few pushing the many in only one cart. Then start singing, and get the vote!

Rhode Island GOP: Know who you are, know what you want, and then get out there and win!

Short-Order Summary Solution to Illegal Immigration

The United States federal government should revisit the arguments of free-market economist Milton Friedman for comprehensive immigration reform.

Friedman pointed out the paradox of the immigration problem now compared to the trends one hundred years ago. For decades, immigrants entered this country, got a health check up, passed a security clearance, filed paperwork, received passports, and became US citizens without any trouble.. Today, there is nothing but uproar and race-bating. What happened? The welfare state was born, which allows citizens, born or naturalized, to take advantage of state subsidies, along with creating a class of dependents who do not receive adequate training and preparation for work.

Ironically, Friedman claimed that illegal immigration is good because they do not qualify for entitlements. Friedman's most pithy remark on immigration deserves the greatest attention:

"It is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. You can't have both."

If the United States insists on a welfare state, then the federal government is inviting more dysfunctional immigration into the country.

Comprehensive immigration reform would provide the following: Deny benefits to immigrants, provide a pathway to independence for citizens, and deport the ones who commit crimes. End sanctuary cities. This solution to illegal immigration is conservative without being craven or uncaring. Conservatives and Republicans must heed Friedman on this issue. Attack the entitlements, not the people; demand more border patrols (not a fence), and Congress will be able to craft a bipartisan and humane solution to this neglected yet lingering issue.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

SB 559 -- End the Pink Slip Tsunami

Torrance Unified struggles with less revenue, larger class sizes. Now administrators must teach classes.

Manhattan Beach Unified plans on laying of twenty-four teachers. In 2012, the district projected fewer staff reductions. Hermosa Beach City School District mailed out ten pink-slips last year, but sixteen this year. These pink-slip "tsunamis" force teachers into untenable, stressful positions throughout the summer, as they wait and wonder whether they will be welcomed back to their teaching positions the following year. These preempted layoffs increase costs for districts, who hire substitutes while teachers contesting the layoffs, then waste more money when scrambling to rescind the notices.

State senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) introduced another bill, SB 559, which would move the deadline for preliminary layoff notices from March 15 to June 1, and the final notices from May 15 to August 1, which are more in line with school districts' final budget projections. Teachers already deal with more students, fewer supplies, and no pay raises. They should have some security about whether they will have a job the next school year.

As a reminder, the tax increases from Proposition 30 are not bring in the projected revenues, after all. Tax increases on "the rich" are taxes on our students, teachers, and communities. Nineteen businesses planned to leave the state after Prop 30's passage. California's tax hikes are great for Arizona and Nevada, since businesses and their tax dollars are resettling in these business-friendly states.

Hate to write it, but: "I told you so!"

California Plan: From Worst to First

Here's a positive agenda to take California from "worst to first":

1. Give cities, counties, and school districts freedom to negotiate labor costs pensions and benefits. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's 2011 "Act 10" reforms would be a good start: paycheck protection for public employees, plus restricting collective bargaining to wages.

2. Pension reform is a must, yet already the state legislature is planning on going backwards. Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) introduced AB 160, which would exempt the Teamsters unions from the reforms. Not OK.

3. Discipline and restrict the PERB board, which has struck down the 70% voter approved pension reforms in San Diego. Shame on Gov. Brown for not standing with San Diegans.

4. Eliminate the state income tax, which could be balanced with substantial cuts in overlapping agencies, followed by a rise in the state sales tax. At least individuals would have some choice in how much they paid in taxes.

5. A part-time state legislature, like in Texas, would be another step in the right direction.

6. Enact "Right to work", since forcing union membership on certain employees diminishes their paycheck, in the first place. (It's also immoral)

7. School Choice, SB 451, is up for vote in the state senate, will force competition and efficiency in our schools. A voucher would be better. Give tax credits to parents who homeschool their children.

8. Welfare to work (not "welfare to want"), please!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Heed Friedman on Illegal Immigration

As conservatives expand a vibrant country for free people, they should revisit the arguments of Milton Friedman, who outlined unique insights on immigration. By integrating the values of the free-market economist, then they can turn five years of stunning gridlock on this issue to winning compromise.

The paradox of illegal immigration contrasts the current problems compared to one hundred years ago. For decades, immigrants entered this country, got a health check up. passed a security clearance, filed paperwork, receive passports, and became US citizens. Up until 1914, no one in the United States complained about an immigration problem. Today, there is nothing but uproar and race-bating over this issue. What happened? The welfare state was born, with its growing entitlement burden. Citizens, born or naturalized, can take advantage of these subsidies, along with a growing class of dependents who have not received adequate training and preparation to get out and work.

Ironically enough, Friedman claimed that illegal Mexican immigration is good because people who come into the United States illegally do not qualify for those entitlements. Illegal immigration is good. They will migrate to jobs that most Americans refuse to take. They provide work that helps businesses in this country. They prefer to live here with its opportunities rather than Mexico as citizens cursed with poverty and danger.

Some critics will charge that the United States is forcing Mexicans to accept a low subsistence level. Responding to one student who felt that Mexican immigrants were cursed with choosing between bad and worse, Friedman pointed out that the lack of capital and free markets and the rule of law in their home country induces them to leave and seek a better life elsewhere. The immigrants who come to California do so because they are looking for a better life, and working in the fields of Central California is exceptional compared to living in the failed welfare-warfare states South of the Rio Grande.

In effect, no one should condemn immigrants with no opportunities by expecting the state to provide them the same level of life which native Californians expect for themselves. Just as one generation improved its economic standing over time, so migrant workers, legally established, can do the same, rising from entry-level to better-paying jobs. The arrogant elitism which shamefully drives our political class to pave the way for some into this country will only hurt the state and the immigrant communities more.

Of his many insights on issue, Milton Friedman's one pithy remark on the immigration deserves the greatest attention:

"It is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. You can't have both."

If the United States insists on a welfare state, then the federal government is inviting more dysfunctional illegal immigration into the country. The fence issue is "dead on arrival" as well, and will do nothing to stop the raiding of federal dollars nor prevent immigrants looking for a better life. One Republican, Texas Congressman and former Presidential Candidate Ron Paul, famously denounced our government for stationing more forces along the Afghani-Pakistani border than along the United States-Mexico border. Like Friedman, Paul attacks the overgenerous public subsidies. Hospitals can be charitable to individuals who come into this country and need care, but illegal immigrants should not have access to our public schools. Even Mexico requires enrollees to prove citizenship.

Congressman Paul has also advocated getting rid of the birth-right law in the Fourteenth Amendment. Passed originally to secure the civil rights of recently enfranchised African-Americans, the law has now permitted individuals to cross the border and give birth to their children on American soil, thus permitting them to become American citizens. Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid originally advocated reforming this provision of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Along with Friedman and Congressman Paul, Libertarian journalist John Stossel has pressed for open borders, but not with the welfare state. His colleagues in one forum suggested that immigrants who receive a college education with their Student Visas should also receive a Green Card. Attack the entitlement programs, and 90 percent of the argument would be gone about illegal immigration, they emphasized.

Beyond the extended arguments above, other reforms will encourage legal immigration while protecting the citizens of this country, both born and naturalized. Deny benefits to immigrants (and provide a pathway to independence for citizens) and deport the ones who commit crimes. End the outrageous policy of sanctuary cities. Stop with this political correctness that refuses to hold every person living in this country to the standard of the rule of law.There is a solution to the illegal immigration problem in the United States, a solution that is conservative without being craven or uncaring to PC interests or identity politics. Conservatives, Republicans must heed Friedman on this issue. Attack the entitlements, not the people; demand more border patrols (not a fence), and Congress will be able to craft a bipartisan and humane solution to this neglected yet lingering issue.

Random Lengths News, Sequester, Dependence, and the USA

I am saddened, not surprised, to read that Random Lengths News is drinking in and spewing out the media-hyped kool-aid about the federal sequester. Using “Mr. Pennybags” as a symbol for the “Big Bad Rich Guy” scheming with a meat clever over a photo of two adorable little children is great propaganda, but not great reporting. Lindell Tollstrup of San Pedro suggested that RLn use better editing. I suggest “truth serum”, followed by better ideas.

President Obama cried “Wolf!”, as in the sky would fall, if Congress did not avert the sequester. The sequester has sequenced through. Low and behold, life goes on. A few air traffic control towers in the Los Angeles area may have to close, but private airline pilots do not need air traffic controllers to land at Hawthorne or Santa Monica Airports. Housing subsidies may diminish, and private operators may have to cut costs instead of take federal dollars. Still, there are jobs out there, if people are willing to get out and get them.

What the American people should take away from the “piece-meal” sequester is the expansive dependence that “We the People” have on the federal government. I am not even talking about “poor people”, but also middle-class entitlements, and elite handouts, like tax credits for Big Business, Big Labor, Big Pharma, and other Big Special Interests (which seem to get Bigger every time Progressives come to power). Now more than ever, cities, states, and even the federal government need a handout. Former US Senator John Sununu lamented in Time Magazine that the United States is turning into “One Nation on the Dole.” Aside from Social Security Recipients, who paid into the system, and Medicare recipients, as long as they receive what they paid in (not three times the amount), the rest of states’ and our cities’ dependence on federal dollars is unconscionable, unsustainable, and unacceptable.

Americans have two hands on the ends of their arms. A firm faith in God’s grace and good will can do much more than state subsidies. Dependence breeds more dependence. Was it not “The Declaration of Independence” which signaled to the entire world that we would conduct our own affairs without handouts? For the record, a growing majority of Americans approve the sequester, believe that the country must cut spending, and also think that Congress should balance the federal budget. These statistics are from ABC News, not FOX.

Unions Argue From Ignorance

"Without a union, the boss could just fire you like that!"

I hear this line of thinking frequently from pro-union types.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Union representatives do not have the mindset or the viewpoints of a businessman.

Those who seek a profit, no matter how cynical or venal, are not just going to fire someone because they were ten minutes late.

On the contrary, employers need to make sure that they hire and keep their staff, for training takes time and money, and businesses cannot thrive as long as they are hiring and firing staff arbitrarily.

Wal-Mart has an established reputation with its workers, men and women who do not complain about unfair working conditions, as much as outside unions, whose influence are waning, would contend.

During the Christmas Season 2012, most of the protestors outside of Wal-Marts throughout the country were unaffiliated union mongers, while very few workers from Wal-Mart bothered to demonstrate along with their "labor brethren".

Unions argue from ignorance, having no full understanding of the costs which employers must absorb when hiring people. Furthermore, the notion that unions maintain high wages ignores the declining job opportunities, nor does this argument take into account the raising rates which emerge when men and women are willing to work, then work their way up.

Takers Getting Taken

Takers get taken.

This is the argument that more people need to hear.

Living off the state is not the case at all.

The state is  living off of every person who is taking a "handout" from the state.

The people in government who want to stay in power take advantage of human venality, which we all have a propensity to deal with, yet fosters the cult of dependence and envy, which in turn leads people to cast their votes for whomever they believe will "give them more things."

Except that people are not "getting more things."

They are getting less, much less.

Adam Corolla made this case perfectly. His mother was a "welfare queen" who tolerated poverty because if she got a job, she would lose her welfare. Corolla lamented that now we will never know what she was capable of, we will never know if she had great ideas, skills, powers to help and heal and serve others, which would have in turn helped her to prosper, not just "get by."

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has shared the sentiment of many people who are impoverished and struggling. They do not want to be there. They do not want to be dependent. They want to step up and take hold of opportunities in their lives, they want to advance their options, engage the potential within themselves and succeed. Walker's reforms have encourage people to leave welfare and work. President Bill Clinton offered them same reforms in 1996, with the intense prodding of a Republican Congress. Men and women who were barely making it on the dole, got off the dole and went on a roll reaching to family and friends, stepping back into the job market, and making more of themselves.
Working, earning, saving, investing. prospering. Takes longer than one would expect, perhaps, but prosperity must be nurtured over time, otherwise people waste their wealth as soon as they get it.

Poverty is a curse, and state subsidies merely deepen the dependence of citizens on the state, which makes everyone the poorer. In the end, takers get taken

Established Candidates are Established for a Reason

Establishment candidates in and of themselves are not bad.

They are "Establishment" candidates for a reason.

They worked hard networking with other voters, with other politicians, with the correct interest groups.

They know how to campaign, they know how to organize outreach, and they know how to watch out for the better interests of their inner circle of supporters as well as for voters by and large in their constituencies.

This kind of managerial outreach cannot be done in a day, but occurs over time.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) learned from the sudden downfall of Bob Bennett in 2010, and he started shoring up his Tea Party credentials. He faced a minor challenger in the 2012 election, but he won a hefty majority vote after the primary, and he cruised to reelection.

Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has raised the hackles of some Tea Party affiliates. He supported an establishment candidate  instead of Rand Paul, who ended up winning the nomination and the Senate seat in 2010, despite some missteps about the Civil Rights Act and his more libertarian views. McConnell since then reached out to his fellow Senator, shored up his credibility with the Tea Party as well as the statewide political apparatus. Taking no chances, McConnell has already aired television commercials, appealling to all Kentucky voters, gathering enough support so that even though some aggrieved Tea Party and Grassroots favorites may feel embittered about the fiscal cliff tax hikes, they can understand that he must respect tactics as well as tenets, principles and pragmatism together as Senate Minority Leader.

Established candidates are established for a reason. They know their audience, they know how to fight, they know how to form alliances, they know when to pick their fights, and when to draw down. The Tea Party and the Grassroots could learn a few things from the Establishment in the Republican Party. If anything is lacking now, it's the ground-game of pragmatic outreach which softens the image of the party and ingratiates as many as possible to join in, without giving the impression that no one really cares about the "little guy."

McConnell's fight and finances are just as important and Rand Paul's passion and Ted Cruz' fellowships and connections. Republicans are not at war with each other, they are simply learning to incorporate new moves into the dance, where everyone will be able to lead with their best foot forward.

Neworth, Bush-Bashing, and the Military-Industrial-Complex

The War in Iraq was a mistake. Many conservatives stated that before the authorization for war, and many more concede as much now. Whether “Bush lied, people died” remains up for discussion. Five separate intelligence agencies concluded that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, including France and Germany, which refused to allocate troops to the region. However, putting aside the heavy, heated partisanship of Jack Neworth’s latest letter, let us remember that Democrats also authorized the war, including Santa Monica’s own Henry Waxman, who resisted supporting articles of impeachment against President Bush. Instead he was investigating steroid use in baseball and ignoring the plight of our veterans. Also, the Democratically controlled Congress in 2007 approved Bush’s troop surge.

National building was and remains a foolish policy, one which Israeli activist Natan Sharansky impugned without first establishing a culture of natural right and respect through law and order. Unfortunately, our nation’s leaders still refuse to learn this lesson, but we the voters do not have to forget. So far, the United States military-industrial complex is staying out of Syria, a quagmire of differing tribal and religious factions which will only get worse.

If anyone demands prosecuting President Bush, then impeach President Obama, too; but not just for “war crimes”, but for “domestic insurrection”, because of massive debts, deficits, and unconscionable transfers of wealth from the US Treasury to bailout “Too Big to Fail” Banks. They are “Too Big to Exist” because of the “Military-Industrial-Complex”, which is something worth getting angry about.

Bill Maher (and Others): "Taxes are Too High"

"Taxes are too high!"
"So say 'the rich people'", deride the "populists", "The Occupiers", and liberals like Congressman Henry Waxman, along with every member of the Democratic Leadership in Sacramento and Washington D.C.

But wait, another "populist, Occupy-sympathizing liberal" also thinks that taxes are too high: HBO Real Time's "Bill Maher":

“You know what? Rich people – I’m sure you’d agree with this – actually do pay the freight in this country.”

“I just saw these statistics. . .I mean, something like 70 percent. And here in California, I just want to say liberals – you could actually lose me. It’s outrageous what we’re paying – over 50 percent. I’m willing to pay my share, but yeah, it’s ridiculous.”

So much for "liberal bias."

I need to write this again -- Bill Maher has threatened "Liberals -- you could actually lose me." Democrats are losing support from wealthy benefactors, and now even media elites are turning on the "tax and spend" juggernaut in this country.

Of course, Bill Maher is not the only wealthy California native getting tired of the high taxes in California: Phil Mickelson. He acknowledged that the high taxes are hurting him, forcing him to change his habits, what he can and cannot do with his personal wealth. With federal and state taxes hammering him, he has acknowledged that he will have to make some major changes. He later apologized for his remarks, but he has nothing to apologize for. He is paying too much money. He is not a "cold-hearted" capitalist which liberal elites love to deride and shame. His a golf player, and a good one. He uses his skills to make his game, and people pay him handsomely to do it. There is nothing wrong with that.

It is immoral to punish people with higher taxes just because they make more money. What's wrong with being wealthy? What's wrong with making money, investing your wealth, and creating jobs and industry for other people? Not all of us start right away being rich, but that does not mean we have to suffer with it.

No better example of this rise from dearth to wealth than Johns Hopkins Dr. Ben Carson, whose stunning speech at the National Prayer Breakfast criticized President Barack Obama's individual mandate, high taxes, and the prolix tax code. Carson shared his remarks while the President was sitting nearby, as well. He pointed out that many "rich" people put their money in off-shore accounts, but he did not shame the wealthy people for this transfer of wealth. He blamed the government, and the overly high taxes which impose on a few, when in fact "everyone should have some skin in the game".

Still, a record number of "rich people" are leaving the country, renouncing their citizenship to live elsewher, to avoid the outrageous tax hikes. Even Gerard Depardieu left his native France because of the skyrocketing tax rates. Then again, these reports may mean nothing to most of us. After all, they are "rich", right?

Put it in this perspective. Even if these "rich" people choose to stay in this country and live in states with higher tax rates, their consumption and purchasing power will be drastically reduced. The perks, the products, and the professions that they hire will have drastically reduced revenue. Just this past week, Manhattan Beach Unified and Hermosa Beach City School Districts announced more layoff notices than the previous year, even though California voters passed Prop 30 with the intention of delaying future layoffs. The culture of "soak the rich" is now "soaking everyone else", with wealth creators now taking their wealth elsewhere, and thus even less revenue is available to fund core services.

Taxing people does not make anyone wealthy, healthy, or wise. Do we want to live in a state where people are depending on one agency to take from one group of people in order to "fund" everyone else? This pattern of "tax and take" is not working.

State Senator Ted Lieu attempted to triple our car tax. Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi h made no promises to protect Prop 13, which maintains low tax rates on residential and commercialproperties. Congressman Henry Waxman mocked his rival's wealth, claiming that Bloomfield would be the only one paying higher taxes. Today, we are all paying higher taxes, whether its the wealthy losing their wealth, or middle class workers losing their work, or poor people who cannot get out of poverty. Now more than ever, the state of California needs more businesses, and businesses cannot survive, let alone thrive, without an easy tax burden and eased regulations.

Lower taxes leads to more businesses, more tax revenue, and more tax revenue means more school money. Lower taxes, less spending, and looser regulations will prosper California, not higher taxes, and all the unintended consequences of wealthy people, wealth creators, and wealth altogether leaving the state of California and the country. This idea is not as strange, since even comedian Bill Maher, along with golf great Paul Mickelson and Dr. Ben Carson agree that taxing the rich is a taxing idea which is not taxing all of us.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Walker: Republicans Can Have Head and Heart

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was a featured guest at the 2013 CPAC meeting in Maryland. In contrast to the disarming charm of libertarian Rand Paul, or the fiery and sarcastic oratory of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Governor Walker’s limited presence and rhetoric gave limited government, individual liberty, and free enterprise the most-need press.

Refusing to temper or even address questions about a possible Presidential run in 2016, he outlined the programs and policies which Republicans, which politicians in general, should be showcasing in their states by focusing on the results of the his reforms in Wisconsin.

“People do not want to be dependent”, Walker shared with an independent media resource. Instead of just cutting people off at the knees, however, Governor Walker and his Republican caucus have devised programs and implemented which can take the poor and dispossessed from hand-outs to hands-on training, to handing them a diploma, to using their own two hands to improve their lot in life.

Despite complaints about “taker vs. maker” or “gimme vs. give” which describes the competing political divisions in our current political discourse, Walker is drawing back the focus to the people who have been harmed and limited by the current fiscal and social policies under President Obama. More importantly, however, he has articulated that in spite of harm caused by the expansion of government and state-sponsored dependency, reintegrating limited government and fiscal discipline proves that Republicans can have a head and heart and lend a hand to those in need.

Lovely Hermosa, Meter Maids

Hermosa Beach is more famous than some people realize. For starters, Tonight Show Host Jay Leno plies his comedic craft at the Hermosa Beach Comedy and Magic Club every Sunday. He tries out all his jokes with a live audience (who pay a two drink minimum while listening, laughing, or groaning.) Horror novelist Stephen King's movie adaptation "1408" featured the Hermosa Beach post office in one scene. The city is also a booming battleground between public sector union leaders and city councilmembers, who are beholden to burdened taxpayers and generous pension obligations.

Recently reinstalled mayor Patrick "Kit" Bobko took the pension fight public, and shared his story with LA Weekly. The public sector unions were not pleased, to say the least. Union leaders have issued a long string of rebuttals, many of which do not withstand serious scrutiny in the face of the more serious situation -- a city with entitlement obligations beyond its budget to balance, short or long term. City public works leaders contend that Hermosa Beach will lose staff to neighboring cities should the city council amend benefits or reduce salaries for new workers. City leaders even mailed out flyers campaigning against massive, much-needed reforms

Some interesting stats about Hermosa Beach should give city residents pause about union leaders' concerns versus the looming consequences posed by lavish salaries, pensions, and benefits offered to these same public sector leaders:

From the city website, the following statistics are available:

The City of Hermosa Beach is a 1.3 square mile, general law City with a population of 19,435. The City is located 22 miles from the Los Angeles Civic Center and 5 miles south of the Los Angeles International Airport, at the heart of the “South Bay” region.

The community populationis not even one fifth the size of near-by Torrance.

The City has a budget of $35,000,000 and approximately 140 full time employees. Hermosa Beach is a full service City, with its own Police Department and Fire Department.

Hermosa Beach: small city, great parties, lots of money living in and around the area. All well and good. 140 employees, though? Really? As mentioned above, Mayor Bobko went public about the pension reforms-public worker disagreements to LA Weekly, which reported the following:

[Bobko] is troubled that union members of the Hermosa Beach Police Officers Association draw six-figure salaries in a laid-back, upper-middle-class, heavily white suburb that saw only a single murder in the past several years. He's disturbed that fire captains in the Hermosa Beach Firefighters Association, who deal with only a handful of structure fires citywide annually, rake in $240,000 a year.

With very few fires, and not much gun-fire, voters in the city should get "fired-up" about the flagrant obligations burning away the city's once and future funding. Big money goes to city leaders, who do not oversee much. In a subtle attempt to stifle Bobko's protests, empty investigations into Bobko's legal address, along with an intimidating union presence at city council meetings (aside from the occasional catwalk) have turned this budget battle into a personal drama as well as a battleground microcosm of the bigger battles ahead in California and many states in the country. While the Beatles were singing "Lovely Rita, Meter Maid!", the taxpayers, and the civic activists throughout the Beach Cities, may start singing another tune if Hermosa Beach city leaders do not take down these entitlement obligations.

The more egregious element of public worker pension problems centers on Hermosa's "elite" meter maid service. An employee checking the parking meters can earn up to $95,000 a year, while hard-pressed teachers of the Hermosa Beach City School District, who are taking on more students with fewer resources, take home $43,000 for their first year. After seventeen years, plus a Masters Degree and thirty semester units, an HBCSD teacher can earn $82,000: still less than a meter maid. Not so lovely.

Perhaps Hermosa Beach should contract all its city service to Los Angeles County, and let that government fund future pension obligations. Bobko and colleagues had suggested that Hermosa Beach contract out the meter maids, but tears and drama about the trauma over the fate of the "family of employees", hushed that up that option. Desperate times may call for desperate measures. City leaders could recruit volunteer police and fire from retirement homes, since they could serve the city for a stipend without the excessive entitlement costs.

If Hermosa Beach turns into a chartered city and breaks away from the state pension system, the city would have more freedom to negotiate pension liabilities. If city leaders explain effectively to residents the long-term consequences should the city refuse to act, then the leadership can float an voter initiative, just as San Jose and San Diego voters did, and enact pension reform through the ballot box. No matter what route HermosaBeach takes, nothing could be more "un"-lovey than meter maids getting big payouts, while teachers do without, and taxpayers in the city scramble for a way out of the long-term debt burden.

Everyone loves "Lovely Meter Maids", but they should not come with so unlovely a cost to Hermosa Beach taxpayers. This battle cannot rest on piece-meal reforms, but comprehensive structural changes which maintain law and order without bankrupting an entire city.

Paul's Shout-Out to Chicago!

“We need a Republican Party that shows up on the South side of Chicago and shouts at the top of our lungs, ‘We are the party of jobs and opportunity! The GOP is the ticket to the middle class.” -- Rand Paul

US Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is out of the mainstream for Washington and for the country.

He is a libertarian who embraces real compromise, something terribly lacking in the national capital. He is a "wacko bird" who insults Beltway Establishment types because he does not do what the party leaders tell him to do.

Unlike his elder or more stodgy colleagues, he does not filibuster with one phone call from one thousand miles away. To block the appointment of CIA Director nominee John Brennan, Paul talked for thirteen hours, demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder at least explain whether President Obama would have the authority to use unmanned drones on American citizens while on American soil.

"The Daily Show" Jon Stewart supported Rand Paul, a unique turn of events, considering that Stewart is an unapologetic liberal who skewers Republicans and conservatives more than "the other side". The Twitter-verse went ablaze with rallying support for Paul, who stood for the thirteen hours with some assists from other Tea Party Republicans, including Texas US Senator Ted Cruz and Florida's Marco Rubio. Even a Democrat, Robert Wyden of Oregon, joined the filibuster to protest President Obama's tacit approval of drone strikes on anyone.

Paul wants to defederalize controlled substances. He wants to give the states more power and authority over their own government and financial responsibilities. He supported the STEM Jobs Act, which the House passed with no support from the Senate. The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math cohorts in universities include remarkable people from foreign countries. They should not be prevented from getting VISAs and expedited citizenship into the country.

Paul wants to end foreign aid to all foreign countries, including nation-states which resist or at least remain hostile to American foreign policy and a global balance of power based on respect for individual rights, free markets, and free enterprise.

The Kentucky Senator is also the first Republican leader in years who mentioned the people of Chicago at CPAC (specifically, this past month) -- the Conservative Political Action Conference -- who steps up the need for Republican leaders to reach out to all constituencies, including the South Side, where poverty, crime, and gang elements are taking a city with great history and opportunity in the wrong direction.

Paul's shout-out is long-overdue from Republican leaders:

“We need a Republican Party that shows up on the South side of Chicago and shouts at the top of our lungs, ‘We are the party of jobs and opportunity! The GOP is the ticket to the middle class.” -- Rand Paul

Democratic policies "help" poor people. Republican policies help poor people not be poor. Democratic policies under President Obama have expanded dependence on the state, with an unprecedented 43 million Americans on food-stamps. Healthcare has become harder to access and afford, not easier, under President Obama's"Affordable Care Act", otherwise known as ObamaCare.

Democrats' taxes on "the rich" have ended up becoming taxes on the poor. President Obama has become a divider, not a uniter, and his attempt to rewrite the proper workings of government has created an inhospitable climate of hyperpartisanship in Washington.

People everywhere deserve to be free, and the libertarian-leaning Republican Senator from Kentucky is shouting out for Chicago residents of all backgrounds. It's time that city leaders started paying attention!

Reflections on "My Utmost" -- March 20 "Friendship With God"

"Friendship with God"
So begins the March 20 page from "My Utmost for His Highest"
I have often commented that Chambers spent too much time teaching us to look at ourselves, and not enough time looking at Jesus, who is the Author and Finished of Faith (Hebrews 12: 2).
The central theme of all Scripture is Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified, for His death in the Cross permits us to be made righteousness, sanctified, redeemed, and made wise through Him (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? — Genesis 18:17
Often, Chambers draws life lessons out of the Old Testament, which is commendable, yet we today live under a better covenant with better promises:
"But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises." (Hebrew 8: 6)s
Its Delights. This chapter brings out the delight of real friendship with God as compared with occasional feelings of His presence in prayer.

All of Chambers' talk about feelings becomes problematic for people. Feelings always speak of self, yet walking by faith depends on the renewing of our minds (Romans 12: 2), which we receive as we read His Word.

 To be so much in contact with God that you never need to ask Him to show you His will, is to be nearing the final stage of your discipline in the life of faith.

Yikes, here we go again with the modern understanding of Christ. We are so close to God, that John could write:

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

We have received the Spirit of adoption, which cries within us "Abba, Father -- Daddy!" (Romans 8:15)

When you are rightly related to God, it is a life of freedom and liberty and delight, you are God’s will, and all your common-sense decisions are His will for you unless He checks. You decide things in perfect delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will always check; when He checks, stop at once.

"When you are rightly related to God. . " What! We have been made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Chambers is way off on this point.

This whole thing about the "Spirit checking us" does make sense, but how do we establish this wonderful truth? The Bible is the best guide at all times:

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (Colossians 3:15, NIV)


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

and also

"27But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." (1 John 2: 27)

What does the Holy Spirit teach us and inform us about above all things? Jesus!:

"12I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (John 16: 12-15)

"you are God’s will"

This phrase caused great bondage for me, not freedom, as there was often the sense that whatever I wanted was not the best, or worse, the plunging sense of doubt which would rock every decision.

Such self-centered positing in fact operates contrary to the Word of God:

"12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2: 12-13)

He works in us! He grants us knowledge of His will through His Spirit, which brings us peace and grants us discernment in all matters. "I" am not the will of God, for I am dead in my flesh, but alive unto God through Christ (Romans 6: 11-12; Colossians 3: 1-3)

One has to wonder whether Chambers was reading his Bible first and foremost, or was making more of "His Utmost" instead of "His Highest".

Its Difficulties. Why did Abraham stop praying when he did? He was not intimate enough yet to go boldly on until God granted his desire, there was something yet to be desired in his relationship to God. Whenever we stop short in prayer and say – "Well, I don’t know; perhaps it is not God’s will," there is still another stage to go. We are not so intimately acquainted with God as Jesus was, and as He wants us to be – "That they may be one even as we are one." 

The last verse is John 17: 21. How can we attain a greater understanding of God's intimacy for us? The next few verses can explain:

"22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." (John 17: 22-23)

Wow! We have received the same glory as Jesus! God the Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus, too.

 Think of the last thing you prayed about – were you devoted to your desire or to God? Determined to get some gift of the Spirit or to get at God? "Your Heavenly Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him." 

That quoted verse is Matthew 6: 8, yet once again, if Chambers had gone further, he would have also mentioned:

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

Jesus made this statement while ministering to His people Israel under the Old Covenant. When His blood was shed, Jesus enacted the New Covenant, which accords to us His own righteousness (2 Corinthians 5: 21), a gift which God wants us to keep receiving through His Son (Romans 5: 17).

The point of asking is that you may get to know God better. "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Keep praying in order to get a perfect understanding of God Himself.

Chambers need to advance an expansive understanding of Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13: 8). He needed to expound on His fullness, outside of time and space, beyond self and others. He need to expound the crucial importance of righteousness and grace. We can know the Father, certainly, but knowing the Son, who is from the beginning, defines a father in the Body of Christ (1 John 2: 12-15)

Like many pastors and thinkers of the late eighteen hundreds, the emphasis was too existential, too psychological, too man-centered. The more that we permit the Bible to interpret the Bible, the more that we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, the more that we grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord in our lives.

It's all about Jesus our righteousness, redemption, sanctification, and wisdom. Chambers gave away a grand and foolish assumption when he wrote "We are not so intimately acquainted with God as Jesus was."

Jesus is seated right now at the right hand of the Father, and so are we! (Ephesians 2:4-6)

How much better acquainted can we get?!

We have more than friendship with God, as Abraham had. We are now sons of God (1 John 3: 1-3), and we are transformed from glory to glory as we look upon Him (2 Corinthians 3: 18)

Preachers and teachers of the Word of God need to reveal Jesus Christ and all His wonder and loveliness, not ourselves, not principles, not precepts, but the very Person of Jesus, a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18: 24)!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Brian Newberry: Teach the National GOP

I have not always been a big fan of the Northeast Republicn Party. US Senator Susan Collins of Maine has played the "moderate" card for a long time, yet she supported the 2009 Obama-Stimulus, which did not stimulate. However, she was a reliable vote against Obama-WaxmanCare, and she continues to caucus with the GOP. Scott Brown of Massachusetts was bipartisan, yet sometimes conservatives wanted to part ways with Brown, since he voted for Dodd-Frank, or he supported the repeal of "Don't Ask. Don't Tell." Still, he voted against Obama-WaxmanCare, and he supported the Republican Party's policies on fiscal discipline. Most importantly, he was willing to bridge the partisan gap in Washington as best as he could.

Sometimes, I assumed that Northeast Republican leaders and their supporters were at b est principled moderates, or unprincipled opportunists. Christopher Shays, former Congressman from Connecticut, issued nasty personal attacks to take down former WWF CEO Linda McMahon in the 2012 primary. Not good for either person.

All of that changed the day that I learned that the first black popularly elected, US Senator: Republican Edward Brooke of Massachusetts. Did I agree with every vote he cast and platform that he stood for? No, but I respected the man's character, a minority in a New England state who stood up for principle, who reached out to everyone, a candidate that men and women could believe would do the job. He was a moderate on certain issues, but he was full of integrity.

Beyond Brooke, most of the New England representatives, aside from the John Sununu Sr. and Jr. and Judd Gregg in New Hampshire, were wasted out, watered down sellouts who would gladly spend money that this country did not have, but just not as much as the Democrats pledged. Or so I thoughy. . .

I then learned about Rhode Island, the most liberal state in the union, yet one for which I had great respect. The smallest state has the longest name and a history of bucking trends for the great good of the individual. Colonial Founder Roger Williams established the colony based on the Gospel and religious tolerance. "Heretic" Anne Hutchinson preached the full Gospel of grace, caring and charismatic. The Ocean state resisted adopting the Constitution until the very end, holding out for its own status as long as it could. Rhode Island reminds me of the true and final arc of freedom.

I was also impressed to learn that Rhode Island was dealing with the largest pension deficit pro rata of the fifty states, and that the same lawyer who helped out San Jose, a liberal Democrat in a very liberal Democratic city, was doing more help for Rhode Island. I told David Boies, with General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, to "sue [CA Governor] Jerry Brown] So far, no papers have been filed.

Then I learned about RI GA House Minority leader Brian Newberry of Smithfield. I assumed that he would be a lukewarm moderate, one who would not talk tough about free markets, free enterprise, and free people.

I was greatly, and gratefully mistaken. In this February interview, Newberry laid out the principles which 2012 GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney should have shared. Taxing the rich hurts everybody. Taxes on the "rich" end up soaking the poor and middle class voters with higher costs, fewer job opportunities, and economic stagnation. Tax credits are not that great, either, because they allow government to pick winners and losers, instead of letting the consumers decide. He wants a streamlined tax code, just like me, and many other conservatives and Republicans throughout the United States.

I was shocked when he admitted: "There are Democrats more conservative than I." If that is the case, then the RI GOP needs to start reaching out across the aisle and pull Democrats away from tax and spend unionism to support all Rhode Islanders.

In another interview, Newberry candidly pointed out some hard truths. For example, Local leaders want the state to take the political hits for difficult decisions which local leaders have to make. Perhaps Newberry should remind city leaders that individual cities like San Diego and San Jose led the charge on their own through the initiative process to enforce massive pension reforms.

Newberry then said the obvious: "We are a very difficult state to do business in." Time and again, Republicans want to make business good for everyone. One of the things. Newberry reaches out to small business owners and asks them the hard questions. What he terms "the Management of walking around", he notices that the regulatory burdens in Rhode Island (as well as California and the federal government) need to be "more lean".

Rhode Island does not sell well with other businesses, and the state needs more sizzle. While Governor Chafee wants to raise taxes, everyone else opposes them. He shared that the gov's sales tax plan is a poor idea, but with responsible planning, Rhode Island can eliminate the sales tax altogether. Expand gambling and create serious competition with neighboring states. More tables means more tourism, which means more business. The car tax in Rhode Island takes into account the highest valuation of the car? That is just not fair, and the Rhode Island GOP wants to make it fair.

Newberry is Very savvy with connecting with constituents. He is not afraid to tell people bad news, but he provides good plans -- something that the National GOP needs to learn about.

I also witnessed this lone Republican challenge a dubious redistricting effort. In last year's roundtable with leading Democrats, he stood his ground about the spending problems in Rhode Island, which the Republican Party had been warming everyone about for years.

"Give us twenty-six GOP seats -- That's what we must do!"Newberry offered to viewers. caucus which will stop the Democratic hypermajority from overriding gubernatorial vetoes, and will stop the tax-and-spend, regulate-frustrate frenzy which is eating up Rhode Island.

Visalia Times -- Support SB 451 and SB 452

State Senator Michael Rubio (D-Shafter), a business-friendly Democrat, suddenly resigned his seat, citing family concerns, although state leaders and investigating his dubious ties to the Chevron Corporation. Three candidates have thrown their hat in the ring to replace Rubio in State Senate District 16, a constituency which stretches from Kings to Kern Country, from Fresno to Bakersfield. The candidates are Democrats Leticia Perez and Fran Florez, and Republicans John Estrada and Andy Vidak.

Whoever campaigns for the seat in the upcoming special election, those contenders must share with voters whether they will support SB 451 and SB 452 once it comes to committee next month. The first bill offers to expand "open enrollment" or "school choice" to every student in the state of California, while the second bill will empower parents to press for more reforms at their local schools.

These two bills were submitting by State Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), who also authored the effective, nationally-recognized parent-trigger law, which has empowered frustrated students and furious parents to stand up to school district bureaucracies and union leader chicanery and take over failing schools, specifically in Adelanto and South Los Angeles.

Golden State citizens have a Golden opportunity to enact school choice for all students. The candidate who voices support for SB 451 and SB 452 deserves to win the special election for State Senate District 16. Every voter must demand that our legislators support the expansion of educational fairness and scholastic equity in the state of California.

Monday, March 18, 2013

PERV Administrative Judge Strikes Down Pension Reforms

An administrative judge from California’s Public Employment Relations Board struck down as “Illegal” San Diego’s pension reforms enacted in Proposition B because former mayor former Mayor Jerry Sanders “failed to first ‘negotiate’ the plan with employee unions”.

It was a ballot initiative inspired by the people, who should have ruled on the contracts in the first place.

The judge should have ruled that San Diego public workers’ pension obligations are “immoral” and “unenforceable” because previous city leaders had brokered those lavish contracts without the forethought of the city taxpayers capacity to pay, or the foreknowledge of the onerous obligations which these entitlements would impose.

Instead of “PERB”, the Public Employment Relations Board should be renamed “PERV “– Public Entitlements Ripping off Voters, since this one adjudicator has perverted the democratic process and the proper confines of justice, thus permitting the public sector unions to rip off the voters, not just by taking their tax dollars, which are needed for public services, but also frustrating their rights as citizens to ensure that the city of San Diego remains funded to provide essential services in the future.

I hope that city leaders, grassroots organizers, and enough angry taxpayers launch a vital challenge to this judicial arrogance. Not just in California, but states across the country are waging a necessary fight to reform public sector pension obligations, including Wisconsin, Michigan, and even Rhode Island, where pension obligations are about to bankrupt the state and are forcing thousands to flee, just like in California.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's Pirate Time, Santa Monica!

Sir Francis Drake, an mercenary, naval pilot and pirate, landed along the California coast five centuries ago. His independent, piratical spirit is rising up once again among Santa Monica Bay--LA residents, who are tired of city, country, and state officials plundering them for more of their money.

The Argonaut reported that the Washington D.C. sequester may shut down the air towers at the Santa Monica Airport. For the record, that sequester was "land-lubber" President Obama's idea from the start, and remains a signal of his failure for his unwillingness to avert its implementation with real cost, cutting, budget-balancing compromise.

Furthermore, Mar Vista resident Walter Davie's letter represents the independent spirit of this country, and the "piratical independence" of her citizens. When the governments fails to do its job (as is often the case), the American people step up and finish the job better, as they often do. Trained pilots do not need an operating tower to operate their airplanes. In fact, most Americans do not need the government for much of anything, since the government either robs our time or wastes our money. As the late Robert Novak advised: "Always love your country, but never trust your government."

The ongoing pink-slip tsunami in our local schools validates that Prop 30 increased taxes, nothing more. Los Angeles City residents rejected a sales tax increase in the last election The tabling of LA County's Clean Water, Clean Beaches" initiative further proves that "We the People" rule, not "They the Government". Dedicated activists charged that the proposed tax would have cleaned out Santa Monica Bay residents' wallets, or force them to clear out of their homes.

Forget the "TEA Party". Santa Monica Bay residents are saying: "It's Pirate Time!" They are rebelling against the excessive taxation and legal piracy of "Big Government"!

School Choice Now -- Support SB 451 and 452

Manhattan Beach Unified School District reported that they had to issue layoff notices for the next academic year. Torrance schools still suffer with at least forty kids per class. What happened to all of that Prop 30 tax money? The tax increase was supposed to save our schools from the pink-slip" tsunamis. The taxpayers in the state of California, which includes everyone, not just the so-called "rich", should let this bait-and-switch be the last time that they permit Sacramento to pressure anyone for more tax dollars.

Instead of bringing down class sizes, shoring up staff, and expanding resources and technology, the tax increases have chased away more businesses, while funding over-generous pensions and benefits, and compensating staff for lost furlough days.

Instead of taxes, our legislators must support school choice, and now they have the chance to do so. State senate minority leaders Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) just introduced SB 451, which will extend the "open enrollment" provision to every student and every school in the state of California. A companion, SB 452, will empower parents to demand more reforms from their local schools.

These laws will not be popular with union-friendly Democrats, but if the Democratic Party expects to remain a relevant force in the Golden State, then they should take this golden opportunity to support state-wide school choice.

Contact your state legislators: demand that they support SB 451 and SB 452

State Senator Ted Lieu: (310) 318-6994 or (916) 651-4028

Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi: (310) 316-2164 or (916) 319-2066

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bob Huff, School Choice, and the Crisis of the California Democratic Party

California Republican state senate minority leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) just introduced an "open enrollment" bill which would permit California students to enroll in any school that they want to. State Senator Huff has done much to improve public education in California. He authored the school choice parent-trigger law, which allows parents to take over the operations of their children's local school should the test scores and the achievement of the students suffers. Adelanto families successfully implemented the program with rave reviews from all over the country supporting the parents. Parents in Lynwood, Compton, and even Los Angeles are taking steps to take back their local schools and take control of their children's learning from bureaucrats and union influences. Huff has a long and legacied history stumping for education equality and access in the Golden State.

Before his bold "open enrollment" initiative, Huff pressed for ending the excessive "pink slip" culture which harms our teachers with fears of early layoff notices every year. Instead of forcing schools to inform teachers of potential layoffs by the middle of March, Huff wants to give school districts more time before informing staff of potential reductions in force. Teachers deserve more stability on the school site, and districts can save money from the costly arbitration which often ensues from the annual March 15 pink-slip tsunami.

It's amazing that the Democratic Party leaders in Sacramento have not taken a lead on improving the quality and the culture of students or their teachers in public schools. Of course, this should come as no surprise, since four assembly members helped kill SB 1530, which would have empowered school districts to fire incompetent, improvident, or immoral teachers more quickly.

Huff also submitted a resolution on school choice last December. He then submitted a "name change" bill, SB 172 which would remove the "low achievement" stigma from schools which are improving, and cast them as "open enrollment" schools, instead. He also submitted a resolution recognizing "School Choice Week" earlier this year. Senator Huff's latest bills including SB 451, which will extend open enrollment to every school, every student in the state of California. SB 452 will empower parents to demand reforms from their local schools, in compliance with President Obama's "Race to the Top" legislation.

"Open enrollment", or "school choice", is anathema to union-backed Democrats, since allowing parents to choose where they enroll their children, regardless of the status or the quality of the school, will take power and funding away from the school bureaucracy and union leadership in public education, and put the power of the purse and the pupil back in the hands of the parents, where it belongs.

Despite their negative influence in the public sector, unions have become the dominant force in Democratic politics over the last ten years, but Huff's bill can put an end to their immoral imposition. Over the past two years, union influence has been waning, which may assist a minority bill getting more attention. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker signed into law "Act 10", with its collective bargaining reforms. Cities and school districts saved millions of dollars, and union membership declined considerably since Act 10 enacted paycheck protection. President Obama did not bother to campaign for recall challenger Tom Barrett in 2012. In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law right-to-work legislation, which will permit individual employees to choose whether they join a workplace union or not. In California, where Democrats have just obtained supermajority in the legislature, the union dominance is coming to the forefront like never before. Even failed mayoral candidate Jan Perry complained about union influence in state politics. Because of Perry's staunch Democratic status representing liberal constituencies for nearly two decades, her statements are a refreshing admission for voters frustrated with the special interest status quo, and an alarm for those who like to maintain the special interest dominance of the union hall in city halls and the state house.

School choice is a losing proposition for unions, and threatens the hegemony of the California Democratic Party, the open enrollment bill represents a win for everyone else, and a winning issue for Republicans. Democratic leaders now have a crisis on their hands. Will they support the people, or will they support the payouts? The Republican Party is demonstrating resolve to move on what should be a bipartisan issue. Of course, Republicans must lead not just on school choice, but also on right-to-work legislation, as well as comprehensive pension reform, issues which affect every voter in the state of California, regardless of their political affiliation.

Republican State senate minority leader Bob Huff should be commended for leading on education reform, whether his party was in power or not, because the best interests of our students rise above the politics of the moment. The Democratic Party has a choice: represent the people, or keep suppressing the best interests of the state, her citizens, and especially her students in order to further their diminished support from the overextended union lobby.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rounds, Huff, School Choice, and RI GOP

Before reading about the lean estate of the Rhode Island Republican Party, I had learned about the mean estate of the high schools in Providence. All the teachers got laid off from one high school because they refused to negotiate after-school tutoring. Then one specific teacher from Providence, Stephen Round, took out his final frustrations on YouTube. This fifteen year veteran of Charles Fort Magnet Academy was earning $70,000 a year, plus generous benefits and a secure pension (if General Treasurer Gina Raimondo's reforms work out). He taught second graders. Announcing his final grievances to the camera, Round quit his job.

"Educrats" have taken over the classroom, Rounds proclaimed. Standardized testing (which eats away an average of one month out of the school year) has created a confined and demeaning education for the students. They no longer get to play, they no longer get to socialize, and because they have gotten so loud and rambunctious in the classroom (with all their pent up energy), they act up in class, and the teacher cannot teach. Round read the rounds on the stale horror of the classroom, the lunchroom, over every day in the school system.

While the Sandy Hook school massacre had immediate and emotional impact, the slow torture of our youth in the public school system today remains unnoticed over the long-term. In Los Angeles, CA, literacy and math coaches are dictating lesson plans to teachers, many of whom must also cope with larger classes and fewer resources. All the attention to standardized tests has taken all the fun out of learning. Teachers face this dreary, drudgerous nightmare because of "No Child Left Behind," the 2001 federal mandate which is leaving behind frustrated teachers, bankrupted schools, and feckless administrators with neither support nor sanity to run the mad-houses of public education. The cry of this Rhode Island teacher is echoed throughout the country. Former President George W. Bush is to blame, along with partner in "educrat malfeasance" Ted "Chappaquiddick" Kennedy, whose ill-conceived law has put more public schools under water than any other legislative overreach in the last thirty years.

As a former teacher, I share Round's calm yet calamitous complaints. I worked in an inner city school, with brand new buildings, but the same desiccated culture of disrespect and accommodation of failure. The department meetings were a joke. One "veteran" teacher shared about her frequent visits to district-financed psychiatrists: "It’s all free! You can tell them all your problems!" A month of therapy could not cure what ails teachers today. Because I assumed that the school and that coven of administrators were at fault, not the system, I took a job in a wealthier district. There, I confronted the wealthy parents with "wealthy" attitudes, and wealth-driven lawyers. Kids always win, the teacher loses. Frustrated and burned out, I walked off that job, too. Teaching has gotten worse, not better, especially for teachers, who are expected to be parent, psychologist, social worker, nutritionist, and even police officer, all in a six-hour day.

Our kids deserve better from our public schools, and so do our teachers.

Rhode Island's Stephen Round called it quits after fifteen years. In Los Angeles, the late Jaime "Stand and Deliver" Escalante quit after fourteen years, fed up with the infighting, back-biting, and lack of respect. New York "Teacher of the Year" John Taylor Gatto (and author of the Underground History of Education in the United States), lasted thirty years, going to work "angry every day." More teachers may have to walk off the job if state legislatures and school districts resist real reforms, like school choice and voluntary enrollment, both of which would grant more freedom and opportunity to families and school staff.

With my and many other teachers’ complaints, frustrations, and outright despair, I implore every leader in the state of Rhode Island to pass a "school choice" or "open enrollment" law, which will permit students not only to choose their public school, but will offer them a voucher to attend a private school. The statehouse and the local governments must free up charter schools to flourish, as well as allow parents more opportunities to homeschool their children, like giving them a tax credit if they choose not to enroll their students in public school. If there is a ray of hope in the dismal darkness of public education, look at Alabama, which just passed a statewide school choice initiative (although Indiana beat them to it). In California the state senate minority leader Bob Huff just introduced an "open enrollment" or "school choice" bill. (And Huff is a Republican, mind you!)

Stephen Rounds squarely defined the failings of public education. Rhode Island must approve open enrollment, and prove to the Establishment (Democrats) that choice is best when it comes to education for our youth. The Democratic Party in Rhode Island (as in California) panders to unions, unfortunately. Those organizations have lost their reform-minded edge and their proper focus: the kids. If the Rhode Island Democratic Party will not support school choice, then voters in the Ocean State (and the Golden State) must stop supporting them.