Sunday, August 28, 2016

Some Thoughts on the Passing Scene

Heathen dance at the beginning of school.
School has begun again and I find myself in a maelstrom of activity, making me think once again of Macbeth's lament, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Not that school is nothing. It's just the sound and fury at the start that makes me wish for quieter days.

I started my new job in charge of yet another K-12 school with the high hopes that we can save some of the present generation from the ignorance broadcast through the public school system.

The college where I teach (now part time) also fired up its fall semester, so it has been a busy few weeks.

I also spend my days recruiting students for a program that allows folks who, for whatever reason, haven't had the chance to finish college. The program sets them on a pathway toward gaining a college education and degree.

The other day, a sixty-thousand dollar BMW X5 passed me while I was driving to work. It sported a bumper sticker that said, "Bernie - We the People - Not We the Rich." I can not imagine the mentality of people who can drive a car worth three times as much as mine, who think that other people are rich, not them. (I also cannot fathom what mental gymnastics people have to go through in order to think that the government will "take care of them." But that problem has been around for a long time.)

Long live the socialist state with its BMW X5's! Now, where's mine?

Hillary's designer came from North Korea.
Like many of you, I saw the photos of Hillary sporting her latest over-priced outfit that looks like a North Korean prison guard uniform (or an oven mitt, I can't decide), and I came to the obvious questions once again.

If Hillary were a man, would the press actually support her as a candidate for president of the US? If she were a Republican, would she have even made it off the starting blocks toward nomination?

Of course, the answer is no. But these lapses in fashion judgment bring these questions to the forefront.

The wife and I went to see the latest live screening of Rifftrax spoofing one of the best old sci-fi movies of all time. (By best, I actually mean worst.) We watched Mothra with amazement and more than a little giggling.

There's something about bad sci-fi movies that speak to my soul. Perhaps it's the deep plots or the fine characterization. Perhaps it's just the wonton destruction. Whatever the reason, we laughed a lot and enjoyed ourselves.


Come to think of it, we enjoyed this movie a lot more than the summer fare of new movies.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Heroin Overdoses Increase in Ohio: The Siren's Song That is Destroying Lives

In my last blog (link), I talked about the epidemic of heroin abuse and argued that closing the borders with Mexico is not merely a matter of the Progressive ideal to have illegal immigrants overrun the US. Closing the borders is a matter of security against the rampant epidemic of heroin abuse.

As a case in point, this week in Ohio and three other states, there have been a rash of heroin overdoses - more than 225 in the past week.

From one news source:
"It's unlike anything we've seen before," said Hamilton County Commissioner Dennis Deters, who called the outbreak a public health emergency (source).
Many of the overdoses are caused by the heroin being laced with fentanyl - a prescription painkiller - or with carfentanil - a pain killer used on large animals. Both drugs are manufactured in China and are being brought into the US over the border from Mexico, as well as from Canada.

Meanwhile, the progressive plunge into the abyss of nihilism fosters a culture that aids the spread of this epidemic. President Obama welcomes the immigration of illegals as long as they increase the ranks of the socialists. He and the news media ignore the dangers of allowing unrestrained immigration across the borders.

Congress continues to refuse to take responsibility and action to stem the power of the executive branch. Their members are too busy campaigning for reelection. They have very nearly abdicated all power to Obama.

The courts have been filled with ideologues who see nothing wrong with taking sides in the ideological battle, despite what the Constitution actually says or means.

Meanwhile, my lovely, young student languishes in a county jail for possession. She has fallen victim to the siren's song of heroin. While the song is pleasant to listen to at first, it doesn't take long for it to turn into a deadly and fearsome screech that destroys the lives of those who fall prey to its allure.

Our current national policy is 180 degrees wrong. We are paying the price with an epidemic that destroys and kills wherever it reaches.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Heroin and Closing the Borders: It's Not Just an Immigration Problem

This past week, I received some sad news about a previous student and dear friend of mine. Her grandmother called to tell me that she had been arrested for possession of heroin and for auto theft.

I had worked a long time with this student, who needed extra help to graduate school. She is smart, funny, beautiful, and has caring grandparents helping to raise her.

Unfortunately, soon after she left me as a teacher, she fell in with a group of teenaged thugs, including a deceitful and evil boyfriend who introduced her into a world filled with drugs, alcohol, sex, and all the "pleasures" that life has to offer. In a matter of a few months, my student's life had turned into a drug-induced hell.

And now this beautiful young woman is in jail, facing prison and a future life of continued pain and suffering.

While I cannot condone her poor choices that led her into the depths of a depraved life, I can point out that we, as a people, have fallen into a cesspool that accepts all sorts of destructive behavior as a moral imperative. Progressives preach dogmas that devalue human life on a scale that makes past pogroms and holocausts look like children's games.

Drug smuggling into the US is not only rising, it is rising exponentially. Heroin (and other dangerous drugs) are now brought into the US at record levels. Between 2000 and 2008, drug enforcement agencies seized about 500 kg of heroin each year. In 2013, more than 2100 kg was seized - four times as much (source). Heroin related deaths more than tripled between 2010 and 2014, with 10,574 heroin deaths in 2014 (source).

Heroin is highly addictive and highly destructive. All heroin in the US is smuggled in from foreign producers (source). Most of the smuggled heroin comes across the border with Mexico. The White House website notes, "Latin America evolved as the primary supplier of heroin to the United States, with Mexican heroin most prevalent west of the Mississippi and Colombian heroin most prevalent east of it (source)."

It's no secret that vast amounts of heroin are smuggled into the US through the Mexican border. However, in today's progressive culture that promotes politically correct dogmas, the fact that President Obama's nearly open border policies have promoted the heroin traffic is ignored as an inconvenient truth.

We have a heroin epidemic in the US and President Obama actively promotes policies that allow the epidemic to continue.

From the White House website: "The responsibility for curbing heroin production and trafficking lies primarily with the source countries."

In other words, President Obama's policy to stem the heroin traffic is to rely on Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, Mexico, and Colombia to curb production. His policy is "to help strengthen law enforcement in heroin source countries."

As we have seen from President Obama's Mideast and other foreign policies, he has a weak and ineffectual stand against the spread of terrorism, as well as the spread of heroin.

Closing the border with Mexico is not merely a matter of allowing thousands of illegal immigrants into the US. It is not a matter of "compassion" as the bleeding-heart liberal media would like us to believe.

It is a matter of survival.

Ten thousand people died in 2014 because Obama refuses to close the border with Mexico. While the numbers for 2015 aren't published yet, we can project another increase in heroin deaths for that year.

Meanwhile, my student, addicted to heroin, is not dead but in jail. She faces a life of misery having succumbed once to destructive and seductive forces which remove her ability to choose.

I am meeting with her in a few hours to lend love and support. Let's hope and pray that she doesn't become another statistic to President Obama's heroin epidemic.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Parable about Air Traffic Controllers, or How Liberals Fly Without the Rules

I have a friend who is a retired air traffic controller. He worked many years, standing in a control tower, reading radar screens, and directing air traffic in order to keep hundreds of jets and planes from crashing into each other. The pilots of the aircraft trusted him to make good decisions. In fact, they trusted him with their lives as he guided them away from danger and toward a safe landing.

To help him in his job, he followed a set of rules to keep all of the aircraft safe. Foremost, he had to follow the rules to keep the aircraft separated at a safe distance, taking into account both vertical and horizontal dangers. Some dangers weren't visible, like wake turbulence and wingtip vortices, which could destabilize or flip other aircraft. Occasionally, conflict between two aircraft would occur when they got too close to each other. The rules provided a buffer zone around each aircraft to prevent immediate disaster, and the rules helped the air traffic controller guide the two aircraft back into safe distances.

Modern conservatism bases its rules on the Constitution and the original ideals of the Founding Fathers. They understood as well as anyone, the dangers of government, as well as the dangers of individuals who don't follow the rules. Some dangers are immediate and obvious. Some are not visible.

Conservatives are the air traffic controllers of our day, desperately trying to enforce the rules to keep America from crashing and falling. Just as the air traffic controller believes the rules should apply to all aircraft to keep them all safe, conservatives believe the rules of the Constitution should apply to all Americans. Conservatives understand that to ignore the rules is to invite disaster.

Modern liberalism, on the other hand, bases its rules on political expediency and bankrupt socialist doctrine. Liberals believe in a "living" Constitution that can change according to the latest progressive dogmas. Liberals are like airplane pilots who ignore the control tower, thinking that every new idea is good. They fly in any direction, at any speed, and at any altitude, secure in the knowledge that they know better than some old-fashioned, outdated rules.

Occasionally,  a few pilots crash and burn, but liberals merely blame the air traffic controller for not keeping them safe. Then, they are off in another random direction, secure in their own wisdom that they are not the root cause of all the mid-air collisions.

Meanwhile, conservatives point to the rules and warn of dangers to come. Instead of heeding the warnings, liberals find new and ever shrill means to denigrate those left in the control tower.

"You don't want me to be free," they exclaim.

"You're in danger," the conservatives answer.

"You're taking away our rights," liberals shout back.

"You're destroying the rules that protect all of us," warn the conservatives.

"The rules are old-fashioned," they respond. "Start living in the 21st Century!"

"You're going to crash!" warn the conservatives.

"You're just a bunch of angry, white, bigoted, racist, misogynistic, homophobes!" they shout, as they steer their aircraft straight into the side of a mountain.

***

Should we, as modern conservatives, just give up the fight and leave the world to liberalism? At this point, the fiery crashes seem inevitable. I've often thought to just give up and let the world burn. Yet, there is something inside me that sees that the Constitution is still worth defending, that those good, old rules still offer the best hope to all individuals. I, for one, will continue to be a voice of warning.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Quoting Myself - Today's Problem with Education Compared with Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Today's educational models have fallen into a Catch 22 system. We've emphasized standards and assessments to the point where the entirety of K-12 education can be written into a 30 page exam, focused on only the narrowest of details. When student performance on the assessments runs flat, or decreases, more emphasis is placed on passing the exams. Around and around the system spins until no real learning happens.

The focus of education narrows down to a pinprick of Plato's shadows. When students look up from their studies in school, they only see a tiny speck of the shadow on the wall. Not only are students never allowed to see the source of the light, they are never shown the rest of the shadows. They are chained against the far wall and prevented from even seeing the whole picture projected in front of them.

--Euripides

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Tailgating Car Crash Illustrates Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives


This video appeared in our local Fox News network. It showed a woman (and her cat) tailgating a red pickup. A mattress sticking out in the highway caused the woman to swerve, overreacting to highway speeds, whereupon she lost control of her car, hit the truck on the right, then flipped her car over.

The driver (and the cat) were OK.

What interested me about this video were the hundreds of people's comments debating the cause of the crash. There were two major factions of interpretation.

On the one hand, a lot of people argued that the crash was the fault of the pickup truck driver, who didn't let the woman pass (while he was trying to pass the slower truck on the right). Many accused the pickup driver of deliberately slowing down. Many thought he broke the law by not moving over into the "slow lane." They spewed ad hominem attacks against the pickup driver, calling him stupid and spiteful.

Another group of people argued that the woman who tailgated the pickup was to blame for her own misfortune. She had clearly broken the law and had the misfortune to discover why tailgating is a bad idea.

Here are some observations: The red pickup was in the left-hand lane, driving at highway speed, slowly overtaking the truck on the right. The car drove up to the back of the pickup, then applied brakes in order to avoid hitting the pickup. The car maintained a very close distance, that you can see in this video, for several minutes, all the while applying the brakes. The pickup never applied the brakes and didn't seem to slow down. Rather, the truck on the right seemed to gain speed so the pickup driver couldn't pass so quickly. The pickup driver saw the mattress in the road and gently swerved out of its way. The car driver, saw the mattress at the last minute, overcorrected and lost control of her car.

Two items of note. 1) There is no law in Arizona designating a fast lane or a slow lane. 2) Tailgating is an illegal form of aggressive driving in Arizona.

Here's what I noticed. The two factions of interpretations in the comments section seemed to split along the lines of political ideology. Progressives tended to blame the driver of the pickup. Conservatives tended to blame the car driver for her own crash and for breaking the law.

This is a perfect illustration of a major difference between the two factions that inhabit our country. Progressives blame everyone but the obvious person when misfortune happens. Even if every decision progressives make is 180 degrees wrong, they will blame the person in front of them for getting in the way. When the inevitable crash happens, it's then the fault of the guy who got in the way.

Conservatives look at the evidence, look at the law, then conclude that poor ideas and practices caused the crash. They note that the woman driver did indeed break the law then suffered the consequences. They understand that all actions have consequences. While we can control our actions, we cannot control the consequences. They also note that any other interpretation of the crash seems foolish and off point.

The two factions of our country see the world in vastly different ways. As the commentary from this car crash illustrated, the ideological divide seeps into the interpretation of the very world around us.

It is also obvious to some, that the ability of progressives to accurately assess the world around them is quite a skewed vision of reality.