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Category Archives: Uncategorized

On The Road Again

One of the things that Washington, DC is known for, other than corruption in government and a spectacularly high crime rate [1], is how difficult it is to drive there. It is congested [2], the layout is baffling, and its famous DuPont Circle is a notorious example of an intersection to be avoided at all costs.

Understandably, it’s a very common occurrence for people to become disoriented while driving in DC. This is exactly what happened to a hapless IRS employee who, a few days ago, made the worst left-hand turn of his life. It happened to put him right behind a motorcade carrying the Obama girls, and when he wasn’t stopped at a security checkpoint, he unknowingly followed it all the way into The White House perimeter before being pulled over.

After being arrested and investigated, it was determined that it was an accidental wrong turn and that he wasn’t a threat. However, he is still being charged with misdemeanor unlawful entry, which can carry a sentence of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine [3]. You heard correctly; this poor guy is facing half a year in jail for accidentally getting too close to the royal heirs.

I realize that there is a need for strong security for The First Family; however, the situation with this confused IRS agent seems too similar to the treatment that a lowly commoner would get for getting too close to royalty in centuries past.  The guy didn’t do or intend any harm and the real fault lies with whoever let him in in the first place.

With the extravagant vacations, huge staff, designer clothing, and constant association with celebrities that the Obamas indulge in, it feels like this is just one more facet of their royalty complex. Imagine what would have happened to the poor guy if he laid eyes on the precious princesses.

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Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

If It Looks Like a Duck

The TV network A&E’s best ratings come from the reality show Duck Dynasty, which follows the Robertson family and their duck hunting business in Louisiana. They are a devout Christian family, and the patriarch, Phil Robertson, has, in the past, taken exception to A&E’s editing out the name of Jesus in the family’s prayers and putting in fake censoring beeps to suggest that they use profanity.

Recently, Phil gave an interview in GQ magazine citing a bible verse that condemns homosexual behavior, and stating his views that homosexual behavior is a sin. For his views, which are what most Christian religions hold to be true, he was put on indefinite suspension by A&E, or in other words, fired.

Many people are claiming this is a violation of free speech, but let’s be clear. A&E is not a government organization, and they are free to determine the tone of their own channel. If they want to have a religiously-neutral pro-homosexuality channel, they can.

To me, the real issue is the tolerant gay and lesbian community’s intolerant response to the remarks. Phil’s actual words, while blunt, were critical of a behavior, and not of a group of people, and yet Wilson Cruz, the GLAAD spokesman, called for all of the Robertson’s sponsors to “reexamine their ties” to Robertson because of his “public disdain” for their lifestyle [1]. In other words, people who want to be treated with tolerance and respect because of their views want this man to lose his livelihood because they disagree with each other.

How is this tolerance? How can anyone expect to have a diverse and tolerant society when people are going to be fired for simply stating their opinion? A tolerant response is to give a reasoned and thoughtful rebuttal, not to call the other guy a liar and try to ruin him financially. To get tolerance, you should first give it.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in Equality, Freedom, Uncategorized

 

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A Rose by Any Other Name

If I drove into town one day and parked my car in a fire lane while I went shopping, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a ticket waiting for me when I returned. I would have been parked illegally, and by extension, I would have been an illegal parker, meaning one who parks illegally. It doesn’t mean that my car and I have no right to exist, are immoral, or have no value to society. It just means that I didn’t follow the law while parking.

Therefore, it completely escapes me why some people have a bee in their bonnet about the term “illegal immigrant.” It means one who has immigrated illegally, or a person who has not followed established procedures or laws to reside and work in a certain country. The term is race, ethnicity, gender, and it all other ways, neutral. It refers only to one’s adherence to immigration law, and is no better or worse, ethically-speaking, than the supposedly more politically correct alternatives being put forth, such as undocumented or unauthorized.

But no matter what you call it, the fact remains that there are millions of people living in this country who have not followed the law when it comes to immigration and something needs to be done about it. Everybody, from the left wing to the right, is interested in immigration reform and we all want immigrants to be in this country legally and above board. So maybe, instead of arguing over what terminology to use and accusing each other of being racist, we could actually do something to make authorized, documented, and legal immigration worth the time and effort, and stop making it so easy for people to come here and live like citizens without following the law.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

It’s Not My Fault

Our President seems unfamiliar with the concept of command responsibility. I would have thought that by now someone would have pulled him aside for a quiet chat to explain that the person at the top is responsible for what happens on their watch. The President certainly understands the idea of taking credit for things that are done by other people under his supervision, as evidenced by the constant reminders that he brought down Osama Bin Laden, but when it comes to massive blunders, all we hear is that it’s not his fault because he wasn’t informed[1].

The constantly changing story about the murders at the US embassy in Benghazi is the latest example of the President trying to dodge responsibility. We’ve heard lies about how an offensive YouTube video caused the attacks[2], followed shortly by the claim that the White House wasn’t told about the situation and that no one requested aid[1], a denial that they ever claimed the film was responsible, and Secretary of State Clinton trying to take the responsibility for the events in Benghazi[3].

However, all variations of the story have proven to be false. The White House knew just a few hours after the attack that it was carried out by terrorists, and was no protest over a video[4]. They received warnings and requests for extra assistance before the attacks and did not respond to them[5]. And despite Secretary Clinton’s claims that it’s all her fault, the truth is that the President is ultimately responsible for what happens under his administration. If President Obama was truly ignorant of the events unfolding in the situation room located in his own house, then it’s still his fault for being an incompetent administrator. To quote Stan Lee, “With great power comes great responsibility”[6]. Obama has shown he wants the great power. It’s time for him to accept the great responsibility.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Law of Unintended Consequences

There is a cartoon gag that shows a character at a leaky dam, plugging the leak with his finger. A new leak then forms, so he plugs it with another finger. The process continues until the character is out of ways to plug the leaks, at which point the dam bursts. This crumbling dam reminds me of our nation’s education system and the Looney Tunes trying to fix it. The idea of holding teachers “accountable” for student performance, mostly based on standardized test scores, is simply the latest finger in the leak. But, as in the cartoon, this will not fix the dam.

In trying to patch up the education system, the designers of the teacher accountability plan didn’t consider that there are a great many variables that determine student performance, and many of them are out of the teacher’s control. Students vary in health, self-motivation, parental involvement, academic talent, and socio-economic status. Teachers should motivate and teach to a high standard, but it is simply unfair to judge the performance of an affluent, self-motivated student with good nutrition and involved parents with the same measuring stick as a poor, malnourished student living in a dangerous neighborhood with a single parent who works three jobs. The problem is bigger than the classroom.

This plan will put teachers at so-called “problem” schools at an immediate and unfair disadvantage, rewarding them for their work at a challenging school with lower pay and fear of termination. The teacher accountability plan does not take into account what happens outside the classroom. The truth is that the leaks in the dam that is the education system are symptoms of instability in the entire structure. Plugging the leak of poor student performance by placing all the blame on teachers will only lead to a hemorrhage of qualified teachers. Intensive rebuilding is what is called for, not pointing fingers.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Get Out the Vote

Historically speaking, only a small fraction of people have ever been able to enjoy the right to vote, and to people who don’t yet have voting privileges, the right to vote has great value. But perhaps because we have lived with the privilege for so many generations, many Americans have lost sight of how precious it is. In the 2008 election, only 131 million out of 206 million eligible voters voted in the presidential election, and about 60 million people hadn’t even registered [1].

Many non-voters claim that they didn’t vote because they are simply too busy, [2] but this is a silly excuse. Anyone can register at registertovote.org in under five minutes, and internet access is available at public libraries if it’s not available at home. Also, voting in Oregon is all done by mail. If you feel that you are too busy to sit down and complete the ballot all at once, make one decision at a time whenever you have a few minutes, and then mail it in when you’re done.

Another reason that people say they don’t vote is because they feel their vote won’t matter [2]. This election year, that is simply not true. Our candidates have extremely different visions of where they want to take the country, and I think all political parties could agree that there are serious problems facing the nation right now. With the start of the Obamacare tax-cum-penalty just around the corner, the choice of the next president will have a significant and direct financial impact on every citizen.

We have three months to help as many people as we can get ready to vote. At wallbuilders.com/vote, you can check to see if you’re registered, as well as pledge to help others register to vote. This is our opportunity to change the course of history, and every vote will matter.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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