Dear Mr. Trump

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In 1988 the teachers in Los Angeles, represented by the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), were in contract negotiations with the School Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) which ended after a successful strike in the spring and early summer of1989.

In previous contract negotiations the teachers had accepted certain one-time concessions with the understanding that these would be addressed in the teachers’ favor the next time the contract was to be negotiated. It had been an agreement made in good faith that gave the Board time to consider and prepare for the next round.

Instead, the Board reneged on the agreement and attempted to misrepresent facts in an effort to have teachers make more concessions in the areas of hours, wages, and conditions of employment, and was trying to influence the public into believing that, while they were out for what was best for students, the teachers were exhibiting a selfish dislike for them and their education.

The School Board had a public relations department which, as spokespeople for the district, had a connection with local media, and had, therefore, constant access to the print and broadcast media to get the Board’s misinformation out.

The teachers, not having this access, had to find ways to get their message out to as many people as possible, and as easily as possible.

I was hired by my Union to do a series of political cartoons for its publication that went to the 36,000 teachers and others that explained the facts of what the Board was doing, and exposed the misinformation for what it was.

One cartoon appeared on a number of public buses in the city to expose the fact that the superintendent’s chauffeur/bodyguard was making three times the salary of the highest paid teacher for what was essentially a part time job.

In a city like Los Angeles, with its various socio-economic levels and its various levels of literacy, a cartoon could inform an audience about complicated issues quickly, even if members of that audience could not read the Los Angeles Times, or speak the language of the broadcast media. It also could get the message across to the highly literate who might not have had the time to read a complete article about the topic covered in order to grasp it.

This approach became so effective that the Board approached the president of the Union and informed him, actually threatened, that if the Union did not cease publishing the cartoons, they would begin dismissal hearings to remove the cartoonist from  his teaching post.

That would have been me.

I was called into the president’s office, informed of the Board’s threat, and asked if , knowing of the threat, I chose to cease or continue my cartoons.

Besides being obviously flattered that my cartoons were found to be so effective they were considered threatening to its subjects, and not wanting to give up my first amendment rights as a cartoonist, I chose to continue, and did.

Jerry Falwell had gone after Larry Flynt because of a cartoon of him that appeared in Flynt’s magazine, Hustler, and that case progressed up to the Supreme Court of the United States.

In 1983 Falwell had sued Flynt citing emotional distress caused by an offensive ad parody in Hustler that suggested that Falwell’s first sexual encounter was with his mother in an out-house. In 1988, Flynt won an important Supreme Court decision, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, when the Court ruled that public figures cannot recover damages for “intentional infliction of emotional distress” based on parodies.

“At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern. The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty – and thus a good unto itself – but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole. We have therefore been particularly vigilant to ensure that individual expressions of ideas remain free from governmentally imposed sanctions.”

The subjects of my cartoons had no leg to stand on in their opposition to the cartoons provided they were not false and made with “actual malice”, that is, with knowledge of its falsehood or with reckless disregard for the truth of the statement.

Even though my cartoons may have made the Board members uncomfortable, they did not make false statements that were implied to be true, so they could not be the subject of damages.

Because of that ruling, the threat to my employment was withdrawn, and my cartoons kept coming.

Now we have Donald Trump, who, finding some are critical of his outlandish statements, lack of policy details, constant talk about himself, use of foul language when it suits him, and his promotion of bigotry toward fellow Americans, and have spoken about it in print media that includes political cartoons, wants to be able to take legal action against those he thinks are unkind to him in their reporting.

In Texas, the day after that school yard fight of a  Republican debate last week, Trump announced,

“One of the things I’m gonna do, and this is only gonna make it tougher for me, and I’ve never said this before, but one of the things I’m gonna do if I win… is I’m gonna open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re gonna open up those libel laws. With me, they’re not protected, because I’m not like other people…We’re gonna open up those libel laws, folks, and we’re gonna have people sue you like you never got sued before.”

He thinks “the media is among the most dishonest groups of people I’ve ever met. They’re terrible.”

He basically wants to do away with the First Amendment which states,
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

He justifies this undoing or ignoring of this Amendment because, “I’m not like other people.”

There are all the other Americans, and then, according to himself, there is Donald Trump.

Obviously he believes that if he becomes president, he can just write off those parts of the Constitution that he believes do not apply to him, or merely offend his sensibilities.

It will be interesting to see how many people who have objected to the low number of executive orders issued by President Obama in comparison to previous presidents, including George W and the Sainted Reagan, because they claim that he ignores the Constitution will vote for someone who is announcing he will just ignore the Constitution or simply rewrite it and expect people to accept that.

The man who panders to gun owners and the gun industry by claiming the Second Amendment is sacred, seems to have no problem erasing the the First for his own ends.

It is obvious that things do not work that way, but by painting the media as evil, and describing their reporting on the things he says as unfairly attacking his great American self, he is hoping to get his supporters to buy this idea.

Is he objecting to political cartoons because he, like Mohamed, is too sacred to be drawn?

If the Second Amendment is sacred and untouchable, so is the First.

And, if people are having their right to bear arms protected, so should any  writer or cartoonist have their right to bear pens as equally protected.

 

What could go wrong?

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Colleges should be places where, beyond learning new ideas, people discuss them.

They should be hot beds of critical thinking and the exchange of ideas.

But, when Texas passed a bill compelling public universities to allow license holders aged 21 and over to bring concealed handguns on to most areas of campus, things changed.

And, remember, students between the ages of 18 and up to 21 also attend the classes with those who can carry.

What could go wrong?

Students and academics have warned of a chilling effect on freedom of expression since it has been suggested, for obvious reasons, that faculty members should “be careful discussing sensitive topics; drop certain topics from your curriculum; not ‘go there’ if you sense anger; limit student access off hours; go to appointment-only office hours; only meet ‘that student’ in controlled circumstances.”

The University of Houston faculty senate wrote a resolution opposing this law that said in part, “The diverse academic communities and free academic discourse are especially threatened by the presence of deadly weapons in teaching, research and living spaces.”

The law allows private universities to ban guns, and no private school has chosen to allow guns.

This prompted Jonathan Snow, president of the University of Houston faculty senate to point out, “Academics know the intrusion of gun culture into campus inevitably harms academic culture.”

If a professor knows a topic may result in a heavy discussion, and might fear someone could get angry enough to snap, banning guns during that topic’s coverage would violate the law making the professor a criminal.

Imagine the potential chaos in a class that discusses abortion or religion.

Supporters of guns on campus claim that there will only be a small number of responsible license holders who have undergone training and background checks and that guns were already allowed in some outside areas of Texas campuses, but the fantasy that proper classroom decorum will be maintained, and discussions will be reasonable gets sort of shot down in light of what the last Republican debate devolved into.

Even the military doesn’t allow guns in barracks and classrooms.

Obviously, extremist legislators serving the gun lobby not the academic community, won out.

Fifty years ago this summer, when the new carry law goes into effect, Charles Whitman took guns and ammunition to the top of the 300-foot tower at the University of Texas at Austin and shot 46 people, killing 14 and wounding 31 with one person dying 35 years later in 2001 from wounds received that day .

Concealed carry on campus is a most thoughtful anniversary gift.

Equal = special?

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Ben Carson is “irritated” by the comparison between the fight for same-sex marriage rights and the Civil Rights Movement.

According to him there is no overt segregation against gays.

He doesn’t “ remember any times when there were signs up that says, you know, ‘everybody else here and gay people have to drink at this fountain.”

He obviously thinks segregation is only real if there is some sort of posted sign proclaiming it.

People being turned away from hotels, restaurants, bakeries, doctors’ offices, and schools aren’t being denied service if there is no posted sign.

Now, if memory serves me correctly, up until 1964, the United States was a White man’s country. There were two sets of rules- one for the whites and one for the Blacks. Blacks couldn’t do many things that White people could, and Blacks were very aware of where they could go without any push back even if there were no signs.

Then with the Civil Rights Act, the rights that were extended to Blacks were considered “Equal”, not “Special” as they would be if they were really only White people’s rights and Blacks only got them through White largess.

This would make them special rights.

According to Ben Carson, though, this was merely a correction of a misreading of the Constitutional.

While he believes gay people are entitled to their rights, Carson drew the line at “extra rights”.

“Of course gay people should have the same rights as everyone else, but they don’t get extra rights,” Carson said.

In April 2013, Carson stepped down as commencement speaker for Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine after making some gay marriage comments in which he equated all Gay people to bestiality and NAMBLA, a group many Gays individually and Gay organizations officially reject.

Meanwhile the American Family Association, a group that not only opposes Gay people, but makes things up to justify its hatred, asserts that while Carson was on the Boards of Kellogg and Costco from the late 90 until 2015, when he began his campaign for the White House, he “supported aggressive gay rights policies”.

According to Reuters (emphasis mine throughout):
“Carson supported various initiatives at both companies, such as barring discrimination based on gender identity, providing health insurance for employees’ domestic partners, and offering more diversity training. Because of such changes the companies now are ranked as some of the best in the United States by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates.”

And since the religious right believes that laws that ban employment discrimination against homosexuals require employment discrimination against Christians, the AFA is not too thrilled with him.

According to AFA, not only did he not speak against nondiscrimination policies, it claims “Fellow directors said they do not recall Carson opposing any of the initiatives presented to the board.

“Ben Carson never came into the boardroom with any kind of social policy commentary,” said Jeffrey Brotman, who chairs Costco’s board.Kellogg director Donald Knauss said he also remembers Carson went along with the policy changes.”

They are upset that “not once but twice Dr. Carson used his influence to promote special protections for non-normative sexual behavior in the public marketplace.”

So, is he over compensating to get the religious right vote, was he just sleeping through Board meetings, or, is he pandering?

The Bible dance

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Here’s what I mean.

Biblical marriage.

Polygamous Marriage, one man with more than one wife which was accepted by God.
God chose Abraham to be the father of his chosen people. He would have children more numerous than the sands on the seashore, and Hagar was Abram’s second wife while Sarah was still alive and married to Abraham.

Genesis 16:3 “So after Abraham had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarah his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.”

Then there are

Lamech with two wives (Genesis 4:19), Esau with three (Genesis 26:34 & 28:9), Jacob with four (Genesis 29:28 & 30:4-9), Gideon with a bunch of them (Judges 8:30), and Abijah with 14 wives (II Chronicles 13:21).

Levirate Marriage where if a man died without having children, his brother was expected to marry his widow and produce children to continue the lineage of the deceased brother (Deuteronomy 25:5-10).

Slave marriage. Abraham and Sarah conspired to get their slave girl Hagar to marry Abraham and produce children because a slave girl had no option except compliance (Genesis 16:1ff), and a male slave had no right to keep his wife and children if his master sold him or them (Exodus 21:1-6).

Prisoner of war marriage. At God’s instruction, the Israelite Army killed all the men and boys of Midian and all the Midianite women who were not virgins, and then married the surviving virgins. (Numbers 31:18).

In modern times these types of marriage would have the “ick” factor that Gay marriages have for conservatives, but in rejecting them in favor of the one man/one woman model is to have redefined marriage to get out the ick.

Nowhere in the Bible did God ever say that He affirmed only the Adam and Eve style marriage.

This brings us to the partnership of Jonathan and David.

Saul acknowledged there was a relationship between Dave and Jon, and the Hebrew words used to describe Jonathan and David’s love indicate romantic, emotional attachment.

King Saul refers to their relationship with a vulgar Hebrew idiomatic expression when he yelled at Jonathan, “Thou son of a perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own shame, and unto the shame of thy mother’s nakedness?”(I Samuel 20:30).

This was after Jonathan’s father referred to David as his son in law. He offers his daughter to David saying, “Today you have a second chance to become my son-in-law!” (I Samuel 18:21).

The only way David could have had a second chance was if there had been a first, and that as Jonathan.

And as mad as Saul might have been, look how well David fared in the eyes of God.

And for those who will chime in that Saul had another daughter that Davis did not want to marry, this can only be explained by arranged marriages based on political advantage, which would be frowned on today as a false marriage joined by man not God.

Thrown in exchanging your daughter for goats and cows, and it’s plain that the definition of marriage has changed, and was changed by the very people who now say it should not be done.

In spite of objections to the redefinition of marriage, Mormons had Biblically based polygamy until on July 8, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act into law, which forbade the practice of polygamy in U.S. territories, and polygamy became an impediment to Utah being admitted as a state with Congress amending the Morrill Act in 1882 making polygamy a felony punishable by a $500 fine and five years in prison.

So, what is now called “biblical marriage” is based on ignoring the Bible for, perhaps, political reasons.

As far as the political ploy that personhood is bestowed upon conception, the Bible h thing to say about that.

In Genesis 2:7, even though Adam was a fully formed human body, it was only when God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and it was then that the man became a living being”.

In Ezekiel 37:5-6 we have, “Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

According to Exodus 21:22, “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart [from her], and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.”

But in Exodus 21:23, if any harm comes to the woman, then the man who did injury must be put to death.

If the fetus is killed, there is a fine. If the woman is killed, there is the death penalty. The man has killed a person in the latter case but not in the former. If the fetus has been a person according to the Bible as the woman was, its death should merit the death penalty.

It’s amazing how flexible the Bible becomes when it helps  person politically.

 

 

 

Teachers are not the problem

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In spite of what people choose to believe, teachers are in the profession because they know the importance and benefits of an education, and want students to experience those benefits.

Although not true of all of them, too many people move as quickly out of the classroom into administration as possible, some for what at the time seemed the right thing to do for the benefit of students, while for others it is because the further you are away from the children the higher the prestige and the money that goes with it.

For teachers, what is important is how well the students are doing and how much of the information they should be learning, they are. Considering the negative attitudes promoted concerning teachers, which benefit those with an anti-public school agenda, (teachers have a difficult time dealing with the continuous attacks and the attempts to constantly paint them as anti-children), they still do the best they can under circumstances over which they have little to no control.

The reasons for the lack of control of their profession and the classrooms in which they teach go back to the beginnings of public education and its improper use to promote family members, to train students to think a certain way so as to support the existing power structure, and to give those with political aspirations the first step, or the only step, in a political career having relied on voter apathy and the lack of interest in education as opposed sports, politics, and religion to get elected

There has been a lot of political talk of late about the need to fix public education. This need to fix what was not broken by those in the classroom is a need to repair all the political damage done to public education by those who have little more than a political interest in it. To understand the “problem” and its source, it is necessary to look at the history of the public education system.

When public education began, the United States was agricultural/mercantile, so education needed to deal with only the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. The upper class males had had the opportunity of education for centuries through peerage and the church. Their education was practical and geared toward whatever was necessary for the exercise of civil or religious power, later on in industry.

Women were limited in what they could learn, and that usually allowed them to read a long English novel to other upper class ladies as they knitted or sewed in the drawing room while their husbands led countries or conducted business.

The larger cities, which were in the minority, needed an educational system that would ready people to enter the workforce with the education needed to get the work done. In rural areas with an emphasis on agriculture, education had to be basic and practical.

The world had yet to progress to where more was needed by the majority of the population than an eighth grade education, if they even went that far. Education was not a priority, but it did serve a purpose, and definitely was never an end in itself. It had to be relevant to the needs of the community, anything more being a luxury that would waste time. It was a chore that someone, other than the parents, had to do since at the beginning of the country, because of their own limited education and need to work, the parents were either unable to, or had no time to instruct their children in the basics. But educating the children was something that had to be done, and hopefully at little cost. Too much education was not only a dangerous thing, but it was a costly danger if properly supported.

Since anyone who had gotten a basic education would be able to pass it on to those who were younger, and as it also would serve as day care for the children while the parents took care of business, it made sense to hire a young, nurturing female not much older than the oldest student in town, who would eventually marry and move on leaving the position opened to be filled, if needed, by an exact replica.

It was not a manly profession, but men were in charge of the boards that set up the system. Theirs was the realm of politics and control.

Women knew their place, and were to follow the orders of the men and teach the basics. It was a system that would need little money either in salary or in costs to run as there was only one building the size of a small house and one young woman glad to get whatever pay she was lucky to get in a world where most women did not work outside the home, or make money on their own to use as they saw fit, and who would eventually find a husband who brought home the bacon.

In some places the rules of the teacher’s behavior were reasonable, in others not. Sometimes the responsibilities of the teacher involved just teaching and nurturing. Sometimes they also included more strenuous physical responsibilities like building fires, sweeping rooms, or doing the building maintenance at the little red school house.

In any case, the teacher was an expendable commodity, grateful to have a job, and very glad to do what was required to keep it. This is made clear when a review of teacher rules in many places shows they forbad dating in public, and required the teacher resign upon marriage as pregnancy was an assumed next step, and no one wanted children who grew up on farms and saw gestating animals on a regular basis to see an actually pregnant person. This would not have necessarily been the case if men were the teachers, but that was not the case in the beginning when the mindset was first formed, and men teaching seemed a little too unmanly.

Times changed over the years as the requirements of an industrialized country called for a higher level of education than the basics; a trend that has not stopped. Where once a few years of schooling was sufficient for a decent career, first a high school diploma then a college degree, or at least an associate’s degree, has now become that minimum. Sadly the power structure has not evolved as it should have in either operational procedures or mindsets. While public education is in the twenty first century, those in charge are still applying the methods of running the system that were passed down from elected board to elected board like a Mason’s secret. This is how it was done; this is how it still is.

There are various reasons why a person runs for a School Board seat, perhaps as many as the number of people who have, or who will ever run for the position. But a common thread is the exercise of power which is still wielded like teachers were the same expendable commodities as were the originals, and who in spite of their college degrees are still treated as if they know only a little more than the oldest student in the school and, therefore, are indoor field hands, not professionals.

Administrators are chosen according to how closely they will perpetuate the system, and how close their philosophies match those of the Board. The administrators’ loyalties are more toward the board than the teachers because of who signs the paychecks, allows people to keep their jobs, and decides who will get the higher paying position with the more prestigious title and image. A suggestion from below them that may be valid is seen as a threat because, not being their idea, it might appear the one making it is smarter and, therefore, a worthy replacement.

The administrators usually recommend a similar type to themselves to a leadership position when the Board asks for input in hiring. It becomes viral, and actually has already.

When it comes to the teachers, they are never consulted on educational matters; their input is never sought, and if offered, routinely ignored; and unless they promote the administrators in the eyes of their superiors, they are seen as undesirable trouble makers. The waters of the administrative lake must remain ripple free so the captain of the boat, no matter how incompetent, will appear expert if not challenged.

The days of the easily ignored “school marm” and the occasional male teacher treated like one ended when the Second World War ended, the space age began, the world became more modern, and men saw education as much as a calling as women did. The men did not get married, then pregnant, and have to leave for the convenience of those in charge who liked the power but lacked the required acumen. The first great wave of male teachers beyond universities and church schools came after World War II, and these were the men who had faced death, given orders in life and death situations, followed serious orders in those same situations, and then came home having seen the value of education in a post Depression, World War era.

The existing and expected continuance of the Ichabod Crane school master wound down. But women continued to teach in the majority, generally being a second income to the husband’s more serious employment, and the comfort of running things as school boards had always been running things was slow to go away. School Boards were slow to realize that the people teaching were changing in attitude and expertise, and were no longer just a few years ahead of their students and waiting for a Prince Charming. They were professional, and as a group became more so as attrition in the field helped the system change further away from the Miss Crabtree, spinster, or soon to meet a man, stereotype.

Power is not easy to give up. What seems worse is being the one who is the last of the line and the final one to have occupied the throne. That place in history is seen more as the negative loss of power, than the positive win of accepting reality and exercising the real potency that it truly is. So, the status quo continues as does the time and energy required to protect and justify it.

As the world became more complicated and demanding, so did the classroom. Normal Schools which had trained armies of young girls in the fundamentals of “Readin’, ‘Ritin’, and ‘Rithmatic”, the rudiments of art and music, basic practical sciences like sewing and cooking, and general socially acceptable fine points of deportment became colleges with stricter curricula in all areas of study including science and math, especially after an atomic bomb could be dropped on the earth, whipping out huge acreages at once, and a rocket could be shot into space with a satellite or a man in it.

However, those who inherited a system of running schools as overlords with unrestricted power were slow to move along. They continued the mindset that had attracted them to their position on boards of education in the first place which generally amounted to their getting elected to the highest political position they would ever hold, the chance to help their own children when it came to preference in certain programs like sports, and the chance to be in charge of people who would not question them either because they knew their place or were only going to be around until they found a husband, or got fired because they were seen in public on a date, or, of course, worse, pregnant.

Bureaucracy grew as school districts did with directors, chairs, and chief operation officers added on as seemingly needed. Positions were often jerry-rigged into the system as a stop gap measure to handle new situations, and these often became the reasons for their own existence. What was forgotten was that the focal point of the districts was not its central administration, but the classrooms. Instead of the district and its administrators supporting the teachers in the classrooms, the teachers worked for the administrators and for their purposes.

What has been turned around is the purpose. The purpose of an administrator should be to insure the teacher in the classroom has what the teacher needs to get the job done, not dictate to the teacher what he/she is to teach and with what they will be allowed to teach it.

The word, administrator, itself comes from the Latin “to minister to”. The professional educator is the one in the classroom who on a daily basis assesses students both formally and informally, educationally and socially. They see the students work as individuals or members of groups, see what sparks a student or causes boredom; develop a rapport which allows for a relationship based on reason, a firm set of beliefs, and a degree of kindness; and all this on an ongoing, morphing basis that goes largely ignored in the decision making process of those in charge but who are not in a classroom or near a student.

The present from-the-top-down approach has actually perpetuated old problems while also introducing new ones, ones that could have been avoided if more input was accepted from those in the classroom. People in charge of school districts, like Boards of Education, cannot be involved in the day to day running of schools and so a lot of delegating takes place. They may not be familiar with all the personnel under them, so school boards come to rely on recommendations from those who should be when it comes to promotions and programs, and as in most cases what, or who is promoted is based more closely on what is familiar and friendly to the ones making the recommendations than on anything else. And, this being the case, as stated before, those most like the ones in charge are moved up and a type of culture develops based on their shared beliefs whether correct or not.

Compliance with what is recommended or who is promoted is usually accompanied by the threat of dismissal if not followed, so there is a built in guarantee that all new ideas and all new appointments will go unchallenged. This obey-or-perish approach has replaced the public dating, marrying, or pregnancy of the girls who used to be the teaching force as the most convenient way to rid the board of thinking teachers, or those who appear to be a threat to the positions and pay of those who should face the occasional threat for what they have done to education.

For the majority of my career, education had been a good thing. Teachers had the freedom in their classrooms to approach their subject matter as they saw fit, according to their talents and th observable needs and talents of their students.

There were results.

However, when the politicians found education was a vote getter because, after all, children were involved, things began to change as what teachers knew needed to be done was abandoned for what the politicians wanted for their own purposes. Then education became a question of compliance to what administrators believed would make them look very successful, even if the students really learned nothing.

The main objection to teachers having collective bargaining rights and Unions is that the decision making has to be shared with those in the classroom, and when authority and power is threatened, even as they should be and for the right reasons, those who are invested in them due to their own agenda become defensive.
The desire to bring back the day of the compliant and easily threatened and dismissed “school marm” becomes very strong and attractive.

It is comfortable.

What is threatening is a thinking and strong teacher force that knows what is best and will fight to have it realized.

That is why those who are in position of authority, and in the majority have never actually taught will design policies that will eliminate what they consider a threat.

Consider the state of Oklahoma’s House Bill SB 1187 which recently passed out of the Education Committee. It would allow school districts to request an exemption from the State Board of Education to get out of all statutory requirements and State Board of Education rules.

Charter schools in that state are already exempt.

The following may result from the passage of this bill:

-Elimination of the teacher’s minimum salary schedule.
-Elimination of the requirement for school districts to participate in the Oklahoma Teacher’s Retirement System (OTRS).
-Elimination of school district provided health insurance.
-Elimination of criminal background checks on school employees.
-Elimination of teacher evaluation and due process protections.
-Elimination of payroll deduction.
-Elimination of due process protections for support staff.
-Elimination of all certification requirements for all school district positions.
-Elimination of negotiations between a school district and employees.
-Elimination of student curriculum requirements.
-Elimination of required continuing education for local board of education members.

This state is so proud of its history (except all that Native American stuff, like stealing their land, wiping out their culture, and taking children away from parents and putting them in medieval boarding schools, and the cheating during the Land Runs that they gloss over) that they want to bring their already poorly performing and teacher short schools back to the 19th Century.

Let’s hope this anti-education attitude does not spread.

The will of the American people HAS been expressed.

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In both 2008 an 2012 I voted for President Obama.

I have to assume that since he won both times, I was not alone. In fact, I would assume I was with the majority.

I voted for him to do what a president is supposed to do.

I might not have always been pleased with what he did or how he did it, but I voted for him the first time to get things done, and in spite of my occasional disapproval, I approved of his record enough to vote for him a second time.

I was totally aware that both terms would be four years each, eight in total, so I knew up until he left office he would be doing things.

So when the GOP writes a letter that says,

“Because our decision is based on constitutional principle and born of a necessity to protect the will of the American people, this Committee will not hold hearings on any Supreme Court nominee until after our next President is sworn in on January 20, 2017”,

and is signed by Republicans Cornyn, Graham, Hatch, Grassley, Sessions, Lee, Flake, Vitter, Perdue, Tillis, and Cruz (who wants to be that president sworn in on January 20, 2017), it really chaps my hide and jerks my chain when they say they want to “protect the will of the American people”.

They know the will of the people, and it was to have President Obama do his job for the full eight years.

How are they protecting the will of the American people when they choose to ignore it.

And McConnell insisted,

“I don’t know how many times we need to say this. The Judiciary Committee has unanimously recommended to me that we not hold a hearing”.

They remind me of that spoiled kid in the school yard who agrees to flip a coin and give whatever is at stake to the one who gets the best two out of three, but, when it doesn’t go his way, demands it be the best four out of five, and then the best six out of seven until he just takes the ball and sits on it on the sidelines scowling at the rest of the kids because none of the tosses went his way.

In spite of Senator Roger Wicker’s statement,

“Let me just say, we are very comfortable letting the American people speak on this issue”,

the Republican senators obviously aren’t all that comfortable since they are choosing to ignore the results of two presidential elections.

So, which American people are they referring to?

Money well spent for America

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With the need to fix our crumbling national infrastructure, that’s roads and bridges for those who aren’t sure, rather than  doing that and discussing where the money will come from, people like Trump and his supporters want to build a wall at the border while claiming a foreign country will somehow foot the bill.

Unless he is going to use some military pressure, how is he going to get another country to pay for something we built?

Isn’t that what happened in Iraq?

The oil there was supposed to pay for the war, but it is costing us a fortune, and no foreign country, especially the one we supposedly saved, is paying for it.

So when that bridge or overpass crumbles beneath your car, and as you plunge into whatever is below, at least you can be happy that the money that could have been spent so you would still be on the bridge went to a great cause.

And, that is what will make America great again and the envy of the world.

 

One sentence and one response does not an ongoing battle make.

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First let get something straight.

The pope said something. Donald Trump responded. That does not equal the “battle” that the media is pretending it is. They are not locking horns or going at each other.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Pope Francis reportedly said when asked about Trump on his flight back to Rome from Mexico.

People seem to forget, or perhaps never knew, that the title “Pontiff”, often used to refer to the pope, is the shortened form of “Pontifex Maximus” meaning “the Great Bridge Builder” because that is what Christians are supposed to do, build bridges between people and between people and Christ, and the pope is at the top of the heap.

So, obviously, if someone emphasizes walls and never mentions doors or bridges, the pope might just have a problem with that.

Trump, of course, hates being criticized, so his response was typical bloviation,
“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President. No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith.”

And yet, while wanting to be our leader, Mr. Trump has no problem not only questioning the president’s religion, directly or through insinuation, but that of his competitors in the primaries and caucuses.

When looking for something, anything to condemn the president for, Obama’s opponents made a big deal about his alleged following of the preaching of Reverend Wright, which would mean, President Obama would have had to attend his church on a regular basis.

But there were those who then, and now, claim he is not Christian, but a secret Muslim working to undo America.

“He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there’s something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim,” Trump told Fox News in 2011. “I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t want that.”

A year later, Madonna made what she called an “ironic” remark on stage about Obama being “a black Muslim,” andTrump tweeted,

“Does Madonna know something we all don’t about Barack? At a concert she said ‘we have a black Muslim in the White House.'”

At a campaign event, he had this interaction with a person attending it,

“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims,” a man said. “You know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American.”

Without any effort to correct the man, Trump responded,

“We need this question. This is the first question. We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things. You know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening. We’re going to be looking at that and many other things.”

And he’s not alone in questioning the president’s religion, or to not, at least, speak against the assumptions.

“Silence gives consent” as the saying goes, and letting a comment stand gives it a degree of validity

In February of 2015, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told the Washington Post that he was unsure of the president’s commitment to Christianity.

“I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that. I’ve never asked him that. You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How (could) I say if I know either of you are a Christian?”

When a woman addressed Rick Santorum with,

“I never refer to Obama as President Obama because legally he is not. He constantly says that our constitution is passé, and he ignores it as you know and does what he darn well pleases. He is an avowed Muslim and my question is, why isn’t something being done to get him out of government? He has no legal right to be calling himself president”,

and Santorum let the Muslim reference stand, his defense was that it wasn’t his responsibility to correct the record every time a supporter makes an incorrect statement.

Yes it is.

“I don’t feel it’s my obligation every time someone says something I don’t agree with to contradict them, and the President’s a big boy, he can defend himself and his record and I’m going to go out and talk about the issues that the President and I disagree on and try to defeat him because I think that’s the best thing that we can do for the future of our country. My position is clear, the President’s position is clear. I don’t think the President’s a Muslim, but I don’t think it’s my obligation to go out and repeat that every time someone who feels that way says something.”

He ignores that while the president could defend himself, he wasn’t there, but Santorum was.

At the recent debate Trump even went after Cruz’s religion,

“How can Ted Cruz be an Evangelical Christian when he lies so much and is so dishonest? Just remember this – you gotta remember, in all fairness, to the best of my knowledge, not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba, OK?”

When threatened by Ben Carson’s lead in Iowa, in attempting to appeal to the evangelicals, Trump said this about Ben Carson,

“I’m Presbyterian. Boy, that’s down the middle of the road folks, in all fairness, I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.”

As if in response, although his staff said he would not comment on Trump’s religious question Carson questioned Trump’s faith, saying the difference between him and Trump was that,

“I’ve realized where my success has come from, and I don’t in any way deny my faith in God”.

During the 2012 presidential elections, when asked about Obama being a Christian, Franklin Graham responded,

“I think people have to ask Barack Obama. He’s come out saying he’s a Christian, so I think the question is, ‘What is a Christian?’ “

But then he added,

“All I know is under Obama, President Obama, the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries. Under Islamic law — Sharia law — Islam sees him as a son of Islam. Because his father was a Muslim, his grandfather was a Muslim … that’s just the way it works … that’s the way they see it.”

Although for Graham, Obama saying he was a Christian isn’t good enough, when it came to New Gingrinch, the multiply divorced and married defender of marriage, he had stated,

“I think Newt is a Christian. At least he told me he is.”

When he was asked about Obama’s religious faith in Iowa, Raphael Eduardo Cruz began his response in neutral with,
“The president’s faith is between him and God. I’m not going to speculate on the president’s faith,”

but then went on to say, as if it were not a form of questioning the president’s religious faith,

“What I will talk about is his policies. And his policies have been profoundly damaging to this country. His policies and this administration’s animosity to religious liberty and, in fact, antagonism to Christians has been one of the most troubling aspects of the Obama administration.”

At the United Nations in 2012 President Obama said,

“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. To be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.”

But my favorite social satirist, who doesn’t even know he is one, whose show should be on Comedy Central, Pat Robertson, ignored the whole quote, only concentrating on the first line and said,

“Our president is frankly out of his mind, making a statement like that The future belongs to those who belong to God almighty, not those who believe in this stuff,”

Pat has called the president a Crypto-Muslim who is someone who is a “revolutionary leftist” working with “hardcore Islamists” to bring down “Judeo-Christian western civilization” and “traditional America,” according to Pat’s friend and CBN terrorism “expert”/sports reporter Erick Stakelbeck.

Pat also said when the president was going to visit Indonesia,

“They say he’s going back to the place that he spent his childhood, he spent four years in Indonesia, I don’t know if he was trained in a madrassa, one of those Muslim schools, but nevertheless that is his inclination. His father was a Kenyan socialist and he talks about the roots of his father. So he’s got an African and an Indonesian background. I don’t know what his mother was doing; she just sort of flitted around. But nevertheless, this may give him a warped perspective of what needs to be done to make America the greatest nation on earth.”

The madrassa, by the way was a Roman Catholic school, run by the “whore of Babylon”, while the other school he had attended there was a prestigious and wealthy primary school founded by Dutch colonialists.

Lots of Muslim teaching going on at both schools apparently

It should also be mentioned that, unless he is really something special, Obama’s childhood was, like with the rest of us, more like 14 to 18 years than 4.

Jerry Falwell is dead, so we don’t get to hear his routine.

When asked about President Obama’s visit to a mosque recently Trump said,

“I don’t have much thought, I think that we can go to lots of places. Right now, I don’t know if he’s — maybe he feels comfortable there.”

Some may say that this is not a direct questioning of Obama’s faith, and we know Donald will claim it is not, but Trump claims that he did not actually say the “F” word in a recent speech/rant, but merely mouthed it, so he should not be criticize for using indecent language.

At the mosque this past week, the president had said.

“… we have to understand an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths. And when any religious group is targeted, we all have a responsibility to speak up. And we have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias, and targets people because of religion.”

Marco Rubio responded with,

“Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today: he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims….It’s this constant pitting people against each other that I can’t stand.”

At a fall town hall meeting in New Hampshire, when asked about Obama’s being a Muslim, Trump had responded,

“There’s something going on with him that we don’t know about.”

And, just Saturday when it came to the President’s not attending the funeral of Justice Scalia because of the confusion that would be caused by his security detail and the disruption that would cause the family, something he explained to them and they accepted, Trump snarkily tweeted,
“I wonder if President Obama would have attended the funeral of Justice Scalia if it were held in a mosque. Very sad that he did not go.”

So the man who questions the president’s religion, either directly or through insinuation, and also questions the religion of his fellow candidates the same way, gets all upset when an historic religious leader questions his because of things he says and supports.

But, then again, what would a pope know about Christianity.

Apparently, as evangelical leaders question the president’s religion, and as candidates to lead this country question the president’s and each other’s religion, it’s only the pope who can’t?