USEFUL JOBS TO GET BY ON
Due to government shutdown
If working independently, compare pricing with other independent contractors’ prices
I laid awake last night thinking of jobs that can be more or less temporary, but at least pay minimum wage. This isn’t intended for replacement job ideas, but as something that might make a mortgage or rent payment for you until the government starts paying you again. Many people use these jobs to supplement their regular wages.
This is by no means a complete list. Anyone who knows of, or thinks of something I left out, please leave me a message and I will add it. Share this list with any form of media or print it and hang on bulletin boards. We need to help each other.
Uber or Lyft Driver (clean car in good condition and driver’s license required)
Handyman (Some skill/tools required) Advertise, Local HOA, Craig’s List or Sign with Home Advisor, Angie’s List, etc.
- Interior or exterior painting
- Hauling debris/trash
- Hanging ceiling fans/lights
- Fixing clogged or leaky faucets/sinks
- Installing shelving/closet kits
- Moving furniture
- Weed removal, hedge/tree trimming, light landscaping
- Snow shoveling and de-icing
- Furniture repair
Window Washing – residential or commercial
General Cleaning Services
Temporary Companion for Sick or Disabled
Driver – HandiCab or other transportation for the disabled or elderly
Deliveries: Pizza, Flowers, Groceries
File with Online Temp Services – Onforce, FieldNation, Swifthires, Craig’s List, etc.
Tutoring English, math, etc.
Waiter or waitress/bartender (small wage, but includes tips)
Typing & printing reports, thesis papers, or resumes for college students
Places that might hire furloughed gov’t workers: Home Depot, Lowes
Some schools currently hire people with a particular background or service experience to substitute teach, no teaching credentials required. Ex: accountants, mechanics, writers, secretaries
If your spouse is more employable, consider switching child care roles until gov’t opens up again.
WHAT IS A “DUTY TO ACT” LAW, REGARDING LAW INFORCEMENT?
Call them norms, or traditions, or customs… in a world that is changing faster and faster, we’re finding that behaviors and rules mean different things than they did when they were first introduced. Apparently it’s now becoming important for us as a society to legislate every aspect of public service. Common sense, morals and ethical behavior are no longer dependable guidelines of everyday conduct, for our citizens or our first responders. It’s unfortunate, but the reality is, no longer can we assume that “Protect and Serve” actually means to protect, or to serve. Before I go further, I want to explain that I am not criticizing the first responders or police in any way. They have a tough job, and do the best they can in difficult circumstances. I’m looking at a new set of legal findings that had not been a problem until the last decade or so.
Contrary to what the general public believes, police are not necessarily required to provide protection for citizens. This was news to me, but according to the Duty to Act Law, police only have a real commitment to protect people in their custody. Does this mean that if you have a court order of protection, the police may not come to assist you if the person the order is against has broken the terms of the order? Or might they just make him walk across the street, then drive off, leaving him there to taunt and threaten you? (I feel that most police officers will accept that it is their obligation to check on your welfare, and to see that you’re safe before leaving. But the law, as it stands, is up for interpretation.) These questions and others are being tested in our judicial system. So far, the courts are agreeing that the police have no legal responsibility to any individual not in their custody unless there is a specific Duty to Act law on the books of the State, or in some cases, the books of larger cities.
Duty to Act: Legal Obligations vs. Community Expectations, by Anthony S. Mangeri, Sr.
One part of this law states: “In 1981, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled in Warren vs. District of Columbia (444 A.2d. 1. D.C. Ct of Ap., 1981). The Court stated it is a “fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services such as police protection, to any individual.”
A quick review of state statutes found that very few states actually have laws that mandate a duty to act. Such statutes, which require an individual to respond to another being harmed, are relatively new.”
I grew up in an age where our parents told us that policemen were there to help us, and if we ever got lost or scared of someone to run to a policeman. Police held neighborhood meetings, gave talks at schools, and ran holiday drives for the poor. Of course, they often walked a “beat” back then, and knew many of the people in the neighborhood they were assigned to. I didn’t live in an area that had a “beat cop,” but I did see them downtown. Walking a beat is less common today. Law enforcement officers don’t generally know most of the people in their districts unless they have had police related interactions a few times in the past.
Regardless, most communities expect emergency personnel to be capable and ready to deliver common sense assistance in any situation. It seems that the courts, however, don’t agree with the expectations of the community. Many courts, as I stated earlier, have ruled that there is no “Duty to Act” unless explicitly stated in a law or statute.
So far, firefighters and first responders (EMTs, ambulances, etc.) are still required to provide aid and assistance. Frequently, the “Duty to Act” is part of the Mission statement for their services. It seems that sometimes, the Police Department doesn’t share that requirement when performing a first response action. More and more, police are reluctant to provide protection or perform a rescue. Possibly this is, in part, due to the fear of being sued – in other cases, fear of self-contamination. Mouth-to-mouth CPR, staunching blood flow and other medical techniques are not required. Police and other first responders are given latex gloves, and taught actions to take for their own safety. But it’s important that every member of a department be trained in the proper guidelines and techniques to administer aid, and to recognize the proper procedures for each type of emergency.
What states have laws that help the police and other first responders?
Vermont and Minnesota are two states that have added statutes requiring police to assist in first response services. Part of Vermont’s Statute, states: “A person who knows that another is exposed to grave physical harm shall, to the extent the same can be rendered without danger or peril to himself or without interference with important duties owed to others, give reasonable assistance to the exposed person unless that assistance or care is being provided by others.”
It also provides assurance that someone providing aid won’t be prosecuted or held responsible for civil damages unless they are expecting payment for said services.
Minnesota’s law is similar. Both states have Good Samaritan statues with these same precautions, as well. Where states have added these statutes, it becomes necessary to include specific training on how and when to provide needed aid.
Narcan® is a good example of an emergency service some police are reluctant to give. Narcan is the nasal spray developed to bring someone out of a potentially life-threatening overdose of opioids. It requires no medical training to administer. Unfortunately, police often don’t like the responsibility of having to carry the medication, or the task of attempting the life-saving technique. Police forces around the nation have now been giving short classes on how it works and how to use it, and how to recognize overdose from other unconscious states, but some police still fear they could be sued. This is one reason it’s becoming increasingly necessary for states and cities to write statutes that cover this possible threat, and to make sure their Good Samaritan laws cover all first responders.
Arizona has a Good Samaritan Statute, but it doesn’t directly address police Duty to Act issues. Across the nation, most states don’t have a real Duty to Act Statute. Pima County Sheriff’s Department in Arizona announced on January 3, 2019 that their officers will undergo training on opioid overdose recognition and began carrying Narcan in their emergency kits. In Tucson, I spoke with Officer Magos who very helpfully explained how Tucson police respond to emergencies and trouble calls. They follow a protocol called General Orders, which covers all their rules of conduct, including drug policy, code of ethics, firearms related orders of protection and a multitude of on-the-job issues, as well as regulations pertaining to working outside the police department, and other police related policies. They do carry Narcan and have first aid training, but no specific medical training. For an example of their general orders, I looked up Incident Scenes. Here is an excerpt:
“The responsibilities of members assigned to respond to incidents include, but are not limited to the safe response to the incident and the deployment of additional units as necessary. Members arriving on the scene of a crime or other police incident are responsible for:
_ Identification, security and protection of the scene;
_ Prevention of further injury or loss of life, to include the application of first-aid/CPR as appropriate;
_ Apprehension of suspects;
_ Completion of a thorough investigation;
_ Location and interview complainant and witnesses;
_ Collection of evidence; and
_ Completion of all required reports”
I attempted to find a list of states or cities that had laws and statutes that applied to police officers specifically, but was unsuccessful. All states now have some form of a Good Samaritan law, including protecting anyone from being sued or held liable for providing aid in life-threatening situations, but this does not necessarily require the police to instigate rescue or treatment. Each reader should look up the laws as they pertain to their state, county or town. If you think your state should develop clearer language regarding Good Samaritan and Police protection ethics and procedures, you might want to contact your State Legislative Representatives, usually found by going to your state legislative site. For example, a search for California legislature brought up http://www.legislature.ca.gov/ . You can also call your City Manager’s Office, or even your local Police Department or Sheriff’s Office. – THE END
CLIMATE CHANGE vs GLOBAL WARMING
Are they the same thing, and if not, what is the difference?
For answers, let’s look to some things we already know.
First, consider a few things that science has provided:
Medicine, Surgery, Dental solutions, Eye Glasses, artificial limbs, Hearing Aids, Blood Pressure Cuffs, Pacemakers, Stethoscopes, Defibrillators
Airplanes, Cars, Trucks, Trains, Subways, Ships, Submarines, Spacecraft
Cameras, Microscopes, Telescopes, Satellites, Thermometers, Altitude Meters, Anemometers, Compasses, Depth finders, X-rays, MRIs, C-Scans, PET-Scans, Mammography
Lights, Fans, Refrigerators, Stoves, Ovens, Microwaves, Dishwashers, Washing Machines, Dryers, A/C, Heaters, Radio, Television, Stereos, Computers, Telegraphs, Telephones, Cell Phones, DVD Players, Recorders, Projectors
Paper, Cardboard, Plastic, Rayon, Nylon, Vinyl, Glass, Fiberglass, Steel, Asphalt, Cement, Aluminum products, Copper products, Porcelain
Cloud Seeding, Rain Gauges, Wind Power, Water/Steam Power, Solar Power, Weather Balloons, Tornado tracking, Tsunami/Earthquake/Volcano Seismographs, Pollen Detectors
What science is able to predict about weather
We know about air currents and jet streams and how they affect weather patterns such as snow storms/blizzards, dust storms, hurricanes, cyclones, rain storms and their intensity, and tornadoes. Meteorologists can tell you within hours, sometimes within minutes, when an event will be in your area.
We can be informed about tsunamis in time to find higher ground. Warnings come early enough for us to evacuate during hurricanes and cyclones. Sometimes the information just helps us pick what route to take when driving or traveling. Other times, warnings regarding tornadoes, dust storms or heavy rain give us enough time to find shelter. We can even find information that shows the tendency for drought conditions and fire danger. All of this depends on equipment invented by scientists from before Aristotle to the space experts of today who have studied weather patterns and developed methods of measuring data.
We also know there are things we can’t do anything about, such as sun flares, which can adversely affect electronics and also give us marvelous light shows, (if we happen to be close enough to the north or south poles,) called the Aurora Borealis. The sun and its flares can constitute a major risk for astronauts and even airplane pilots, though. Risks include cancer and vision problems.
Right now, most of us are protected by earth’s atmosphere, so although we can get cancer from over exposure to the sun’s rays, we can also use sun screen or hats to help reduce the risk. Our atmosphere dilutes the rays, so that it takes a much larger concentration to hurt us than it does with pilots and astronauts who don’t have any atmospheric protection. The concern becomes – what is happening as the earth’s atmosphere is weakening due to carbon emissions and other pollutants (sometimes called greenhouse gases) coming from earth?
What is the difference between Climate Change & Global Warming?
Global Warming was an early term used to reflect what’s happening at the earth’s poles, where ice is melting and not being replenished. It still exists and affects more than just the North Pole and South Pole. Ice is also melting at an accelerated rate in places like Iceland, Canada and Alaska. One of the side effects of this is rising sea levels. Ice that would normally remain on land is sloughing off into the sea. When measured in inches, it doesn’t seem like much, but over time inches become a foot or more. Think about adding ice cubes to a nearly full glass of water. At some point, the water is going to overflow. There are several threatened communities already, where the ocean is taking homes and land.
In Shismaref, Alaska, inhabitants are moving their town back – away from the sea.
Shismaref, Alaska – 2005 (Photo: AP Photo/Diana Haecker)
In the Solomon Islands, several smaller islands have already been swallowed by the ocean. Others are rapidly losing shoreline.
Solomon Islands, 2013
Climate Change is a more inclusive term and includes the resulting changes seen in various areas of the earth, such as worsening storms, additional flooding or drought, and more and hotter forest fires. In some cases, it actually causes colder weather in the winter cycle, only to rebound with a hotter summer. In other places, the winters become milder with less snowfall, which decreases the amount of water the area receives in the spring as there is less snow to melt.
In this case, one argument is that the earth has undergone major changes over its history, long before we had automobiles, factories, and oil production. That is absolutely true. We’ve all heard of the great Ice Age. There have actually been several ice ages, of lesser degrees. We’re nearing the end of one right now. However, it isn’t one that we or our near ancestors would recognize as one. It started several thousand years ago, and has been receding now for centuries. Many factors figure into what finally causes the ice to recede. Some 20,000 years ago, earth’s inhabitants found that they were able to migrate a bit farther north (or south, in the southern hemisphere.) There are several things that might have contributed to that phenomena.
The earth has, indeed, had its positioning change in our solar system. The earth’s axis tilts slightly over long geographical periods of time, meaning thousands of years. But as we orbit the sun, our tilt (which is currently at a specific 23.5 degrees and pointing in the general direction of the North Star,) is leaning towards the sun for half the year. The other half of the year it tilts away causing our seasonal changes. We’re also exposed to gravity by other celestial bodies that pass nearby from time to time. Even the moon has a pull of gravity that affects our tides. Meteors have also pierced the atmosphere and slammed into earth. It’s possible that at one time, the earth’s orbit was brought closer to the sun during such an event, allowing a steady heating of the atmosphere in the past. But the earth hasn’t moved any closer or farther from the sun since scientists have been able to measure it, except for the naturally occurring range of earth’s orbit.
Meanwhile, most scientists claim that the rate of climate change is, to a large degree, man-made. That is also true. Indonesia and other locations on the globe currently have disappearing rain forests, due to man cutting natural trees to install seedlings that will produce palm oil trees – a product used in the manufacturing of diesel fuel. The cutting of trees and the burning of stumps and grasses have released exponentially larger amounts of CO2 and other gases into the atmosphere.
We have millions and millions of gas-driven vehicles on the roads, emitting tons of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. We have factories, and power plants emitting the same poisons, along with other pollutants such as Sulphur dioxide and Nitrogen oxide. We heat our homes with coal and oil products which produce even more CO2. By ignoring the effect of these practices on our air quality, we’re hastening the process so that the changes that might take place over several thousand years are taking place at a much faster rate.
Crops are susceptible to temperature changes of only a couple of degrees, depending on the stage of growth. Some plants become stunted when subjected to a slight rise in temperature during germination. For example, by mid-century, corn and rice will be affected by higher temperatures to the point of forcing farmers to plant other crops, instead of these staples. Other concerns to crops are droughts and seasonal flooding.
How can we know how much is man-made and how much is just nature in action?
Well, we know that changes are happening faster, so that might be one way. We can’t change the Universe, the Solar System or our Sun. What we can do is measure the changes on earth, watch them while continuing to do research, and doing the things we already know have had an impact in the past. In 1970 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created and adapted the Clean Air Act. Besides the damage the pollutants do to the atmosphere, they also contribute to asthma, bronchial difficulties, coronary heart disease and other cancers and disorders. A reduction in smog also brought a reduction in health complications to the big cities.
Scientists can also tell from ice cores and rock strata that CO2, or carbon monoxide played a part in warming from the Ice Age. This wouldn’t be man-made 20,000 years ago. But it could’ve come from natural sources such as the CO2 released by plant life, or even methane produced by dinosaurs. Volcanoes also spew ash into the air, blanketing and warming the earth. Those factors are still in play today, and the width of the layers on the cores or strata show a comparison of more recent changes to that of thousands of years ago.
One problem with that is, when large swaths of trees are cut, huge amounts of CO2 are released in the atmosphere. Where the peat wetlands need to be cleared after a drying period, the remaining stumps and debris are set afire. This releases even more CO2. This carbon monoxide is eating away at our protective layers of Ozone and the Stratosphere, allowing more and more of the sun’s rays to penetrate and cause land heating, plus risk factors to plants and animals, including humans for exposure to harmful UV rays. Indonesia is just an example. There are hundreds of forested areas around the globe that clear the trees for palm oil and other crops, or for community and industrial development.
Recently, the forest fires have contributed again to the smog levels. Some regulations have been cut so that factories are now puffing out pollutants again. The gray skies are returning.
The United States isn’t the only culprit. China, India, Europe and virtually every industrialized nation has pollution problems and smog. The Paris Agreement, reached in 2015 put together actions that we, as nations could and must take to reduce the destruction of our air, which if allowed to continue at the rate it is now, might make earth certainly less healthy, and possibly uninhabitable within a century or two. Fortunately, all industrial nations have signed onto the Paris Agreement and are working diligently to provide sustainable air quality. The United States government has stopped actively working against climate change, but most of the individual states have continued their efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
Climate Change is simply a more complete picture of what is happening with Global Warming. Global Warming doesn’t eliminate the fact that some winters are colder than others from time to time. It just means that the average temperature of the earth is rising on a steady basis. – The End
General Overview of the Three Branches of Government
as determined by the Constitution of the United States of America
I’ve seen several questions and comments lately on social media that indicate a large portion of our society doesn’t really understand how our government works, so I decided to try to develop a general overview of the three branches of government, how they function, and how they relate to us as citizens. The following chart shows a brief breakdown of each branch and their intended purpose. I followed that with a slightly more defined list of duties, and also links that you can use to find out more if you have a particular interest or question. Essentially, I wanted to show how ‘We The People’ need to use our vote as our voice to protect our own interests.
Too many people think the President of the United States carries all the power, and all the responsibility for how our nation runs. In fact, the President may have less than the other two. The President is expected to be a leader in actions and speech. He or she sits as an example of how we expect to be perceived by other nations, and how we should act as a country. Our Legislature makes the laws of the country to the benefit of the majority of its citizens. The Supreme Court is designed to insure that all laws are in compliance with the Constitution of the United States of America. These three branches are intended to work in unison, to protect our natural and given rights, and to keep us viable in global relationships of which we often have very little control. These people work for us and are paid by our tax dollars. They don’t rule us, and they aren’t above the law.
Our responsibility is to vote to the best of our ability. We need to look at the big picture and decide who can do the best job for the most people. There will never be a time when 100% of the citizenry are content with our government and its laws, so we have to trust that the majority will do their duty and elect the candidates who have intentions that are best for the general population, and not their own personal interests.
- Cannot make laws, but can veto laws presented for signature, which can only be overridden by 2/3 of House and Senate votes
- Can add some provisions/modifications to existing laws through Executive Order
- Needs Congressional approval to declare War (except when the U.S. is under attack), Sign Treaties
- Nominates/Appoints Justices for the Supreme Court, Federal Judges, U.S. District Judges, Cabinet Members & Ambassadors
- Commander in Chief, Armed Forces of the United States of America
- Promotes job creation and economic growth in coordination with business, universities, communities & workers
- Related Agencies – Commerce
Health & Human Services
Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
There are and can be other lesser Cabinet positions and duties. Each administration can make additional positions. These are the 15 that have always been carried over, and all of them are in line for the presidency, should there ever be a crisis where the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, and President pro tempore are unable to serve as President. The next in line is the Secretary of State. Cabinets of the United States
U.S. Senate (Vice President is President of the Senate – only casts deciding votes)
President pro tempore (steps in when V.P. unavailable, but is able to vote on all matters)
Senate Majority Leader (Chosen by the majority party)
Senate Minority Leader (Chosen by the minority party)
100 Senators (2 per state)
- Oversight of the Executive Branch through investigations and hearings
- Conviction of Impeachment (President and other federal officials)
- Appointment of Presidential nominees for Cabinets, Supreme Court and other federal courts & offices (see exceptions-House)
- Treaty Ratification (see exceptions-House)
- Law Making/Changing (both Senate and House must pass any new law)
- 17 Senate committees, 70 subcommittees
- Each committee is assigned to a general policy, i.e. Homeland Security
- The subcommittees take on more specific parts of the policy, such as ‘emergency preparedness’, ‘cybersecurity’, ‘border & maritime security’, etc.
U.S. House of Representatives
Head: Speaker of the House (Chosen by the members of the House)
435 Representatives (Based on percentage of state population and recounted with every census, 2010, 2020, 2030, etc.)
- Oversight of the Executive Branch through investigations and hearings
- Impeachment of federal offices, including president (This then goes to the Senate for trial)
- Law Making/Changing (both Senate and House must pass any new law)
- Casting the vote to break a tie in the Electoral College
- Originates most spending bills necessary to keep the government running
- *Exceptions to Senate power – House approval needed for Vice Presidential appointment and for treaties that involve foreign trade
- 23 House committees, 104 subcommittees
- Committees and subcommittees operate the same in both the Senate and House, and are subject to change in number and title for each new Congress
For more details, see Legislative Branches
- Supreme Court
- Interprets the Constitution
- Interprets the constitutionality of laws – can declare a law unconstitutional, even though the Congress and president have all approved it
- Has the final say on laws or court actions brought before it
- Court of Appeals
- Administrative Courts
- Circuit Courts
- District Courts
- Each state has its own Supreme Court, which works in a similar manner as the U.S. Supreme Court, but its rulings only apply to that state.
- Administrative Courts
- Superior Courts
- Family Courts
- State, County and City Trial Courts
- Many individual courts, such as bankruptcy, traffic, juvenile, probate, criminal, civil, and so forth
Besides interpreting laws and resolving legal disputes, courts also assign punishments, fines, sentences and supervisory details for individual cases.
In some states, local judges and magistrates are chosen by the people in a non-partisan election process. Most states have at least some judges appointed by commissions or governors. To find out what your state does, see: Selection of Judges by state
For a more in-depth view of the Judicial Branch and its processes, see the following: U.S. Judicial Branch -THE END
YOUR PROFILE CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR CAMPAIGN
Why you haven’t heard from me lately
Easy answer: I’ve been busy entering election information into a database.
Real answer: People, even educated people, don’t seem to know how to put together a profile or resume anymore.
While I’m taking a break from data input, I’ll explain what I mean, just in case one of my readers,
a. is running for office somewhere, or
b. knows or supports someone running for office, or
c. is trying to find information about potential senators, representatives, governors, mayors, councilpersons or dog catchers.
Putting together a profile for a campaign is somewhat like writing a resume. The same basic information is needed, but not in so much detail. It’s okay to start out with a little description of why you’re interested in the job, and what makes you think you’re the right person for the job. However, five or six paragraphs about what your parents did, how you learned to shoe your first horse, and your opinion on Kool-aide stands compared to Kiosks will probably lose you the vote (or job).
Some of your background is important to who you are… maybe you were raised by a single father, or your parents were non-English speaking immigrants, or you had 14 brothers and sisters. Most of this can be used after you get the pertinent details of your history down.
Here’s what I’m looking for:
Education and degree
Previous and current employment, including dates of employment, job description or position, and any civic services in particular that would prepare you for the position you now seek.
If you have experience as an elected official, a short list of your most important votes, projects completed, or committees you served on is good information.
Birthdate and age are helpful, but not required. (I do sort of hate to think I voted for a 30-something – see picture options – and got a 70-something, though.) Religion is also optional.
Picture options: Some people put in a good picture from shoulders up, and others like to be seen standing or maybe even a family shot. Those are pretty much the limits. Pictures should be from a decade reasonably near this one. Anything else is inappropriate for a basic profile.
What I’m telling you are the guidelines for submitting information to a profile site for a campaign – Ballotpedia, for example. If you’ve also set up your own campaign page, you can be more liberal with your information and images. Many candidates choose to use Face Book as a campaign site. If you do, make sure your page name is easy to find. “Why I decided to run for office” is not a good page name. “Bob Jones for Congress NY” is great. (I didn’t make that up… “Why I decided to run for office” was actually the name of a candidate’s Face Book page!) In the last few weeks I’ve lowered my expectations. If I search Face Book for Bob Jones, Robert Jones, Jones for Congress, Jones for NY and Jones for 2018, (with and without Bob or Robert) I give up.
I’ve literally spent hours searching for any single thing to put in as biographical information. I sometimes get lucky and find a one or two word job description in a news article about the candidates. I’ve put in as little as “US Veteran” or “Teacher”. If I can’t find some basic information, I put in a statement as follows – No education or employment on record.
About education information… what, exactly, does “studied at UCLA” mean? Did you use their library? Did you take a class? Wait… your campaign page refers to you as Dr. Jones. MD? DVM? PhD? DDS? Did you graduate across the board from UCLA, or did you get your doctorate at Harvard?
Jobs…It’s not necessary to list every job you’ve ever held, but I need something more detailed than “I’ve been everything from a trucker to CEO of two different companies.” I’m inclined, at that point to put in – Truck Driver.
Ideally, every candidate should have their own website. By putting one together, you show your organizational skills and make yourself more ‘available’ to you voters. There are as many formats to use as your imagination can handle. Just keep in mind that readers often have limited time, so make sure you give them the things they really need to know about you early on. Those that are really interested in you will keep reading to learn the details. One way to decide how to layout your web page is to look at some of your opponents. Look at the pages of some experienced politicians and see how they set their profile.
Other pieces of information you should include on your web page, or make available to go along with your profiles are: Face Book name, Twitter name, link to your webpage, link to other well-known social media such as Linked In, You Tube, and Instagram. A separate contact page is always a good idea. Include your email address and a phone number for your campaign office. Some people put in P.O. Box numbers, too.
I Hope you find these suggestions useful. There is still time to spruce up your profile before November 6th. – END
Friday, May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas, once again our nation watched the horror of a school shooting as the ambulances carried away the wounded, and the police checked teenagers’ backpacks after the fact. The dead lay inside the building, unseen and now forever unheard. Ten killed, ten more injured; among them, a substitute teacher killed and a school resource officer critically injured. There was a slight twist to this attack today. There were homemade bombs involved. The police haven’t said any went off, but they found several different types, including pipe bombs and at least one pressure cooker bomb.
The killer was arrested. Some reports say he was injured, but he had his initial court appearance today and we watched him stand, handcuffed, at the court window and sign the papers. He didn’t look injured. He didn’t look like a killer, either. He looked like a seventeen year old boy who wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.
Before I go any further, let me say that I’m not trying to drum up sympathy for the killer. I’m simply describing him to make a point. Social media went crazy all day, describing him as a Nazi lover using an AR-15, an introvert, a loner, an experienced gun user, and a person who wore black trench coats daily, even in the heat, and carried a duffel bag. Some of these things appear to be true, but according to police, they found no evidence of his association with any Nazi group, or any particular fascination with terrorist organizations at all, for that matter. He has a few different patches sown on his coat and a picture or two on Face Book showing the coat, the symbols it bore, and a tee shirt that was lettered with “BORN TO KILL” in bold letters. The rest of his pictures were pretty basic, normal looking stuff you would expect to see on a teen’s page.
WHAT CAUSED IT?
So far in 2018, more children in school have been murdered than soldiers in our military. https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/05/19/mark-kelly-washington-post-analysis-santa-fe-shooting-sot-ac.cnn
We might find out what caused this shooter to flip out, or we might not. He didn’t use the weapon of choice that most shooters use these days. He didn’t have an AR-15. He had an old-fashioned Revolver (six-shooter) and a shotgun. And bombs. The guns belonged to his dad. So this isn’t about banning assault weapons – at least not this particular case – but it is about the need to stop this irrational behavior in our young people.
Was this killer mentally ill? I kind of think that being a teenager is a form of mental illness, with all the insecurities, uncertainties, and confusing emotions, hormonal and otherwise. It’s definitely a time of strife hitting people who often aren’t mature enough to know how to deal with it. And I think that anyone who thinks there’s some kind of solution to their problems, or some kind of worthy revenge in killing others is not mentally stable. But I’m not a doctor or a psychologist. I don’t know if this killer would fit the label of clinically mentally ill. No matter what people said on social media today, this kid played football, was fairly good at it, had been on the honor roll a couple of years earlier, and wasn’t known to be antisocial in any particular way. The trench coat thing was weird, but hey… kids do weird things.
COULD IT HAVE BEEN PREVENTED?
My concern is how do you stop someone who shows no outward signs of being hostile or violent? How would teachers know, or friends know, or even his parents know? Often there are signals that we disregard, but sometimes there really isn’t a strong forewarning. So how do we fight that?
Here’s an idea: Maybe his parents could have made it next to impossible for anything like this to happen. What would have happened if the guns in his house were locked up in a safe, and only his parents had the key?
Why should they do that? Because it’s the responsible thing to do. It’s not because they don’t trust him, or that they have reason to think he might be emotionally unstable. It’s for the same reason we don’t give the car keys to a 14 yr. old, even if he knows how to drive. The maturity level to use good judgment just isn’t there, yet. Sure, some kids mature sooner than others. Some are more responsible. But why take the chance? Why lay out the temptation? Just set a rule and stick by it. Guns belong in a safe. Kids without a driver’s license don’t get keys to the car, and kids without a license to carry a gun don’t get access to the safe. Oh wait… there are no gun user licensing requirements. There are no safety classes required. The guns don’t even have to be registered, in most cases. And what about the bombs?
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
Let’s step back for a minute. Many people say that somehow when we were all younger, things just weren’t like this. There’s some truth in that. But what was different?
When I was a teen, my parents were in and out of my room so often that I couldn’t have accumulated enough materials to make a single pipe bomb. – Mom: “What’s the piece of pipe doing on your closet floor? Me: “Oh, it’s just for a science project…” Mom: “Oh, what’s it going to be? How does it work? What else do we need to gather up for it?” Me: “Never mind, I think I’m just going to do a litmus test on something.” Now parents are either too busy to keep track, or they’re afraid of “invading the space” of the child. More on that in a minute.
So this kid, it seems, had access to an empty trailer, and was maybe even living there – at 17 years old. This is where he built his bombs, albeit not very expertly, according to police. I don’t know if this trailer was on his family’s property, or just sitting vacant somewhere, but he had easy access and no one was questioning why a teenager was going in and out of it. Was it even legal for him to be there? Did his parents know he was hanging out there?
The definition of being a parent is “invading space.” You no longer have to change their diapers, dress them, or feed them, and you probably shouldn’t be doing their laundry. But you should be invading their space. You don’t have to be the warden, but you do need to know what’s going on. You should know their friends, know where they hang out, and have some idea of their interests and their feelings about things. There should be rules, and consequences for breaking them.
ARE THE PARENTS FAILING THEIR KIDS, OR ARE WE ALL FAILING THEM?
I’m not blaming the parents, but I am suggesting that parents may want to step up and do something immediately, to ensure their child doesn’t face a life in prison with no hope of parole, or even a worse fate.
Now, back to the guns. This is no longer a political issue, but a moral one. We know right from wrong by about the age of 7 years old. That doesn’t stop most of us from doing something we shouldn’t, now and then. I stole a candy bar when I was about 10 and got marched back to the store, where I had to admit what I’d done, apologize, and hand the manager the money to pay for what I’d taken. Then I had to do special chores to “earn” that money. I don’t remember what I had to do anymore, but I’ll never forget having to admit my theft and having to apologize. I don’t believe I’ve stolen a thing since that day. My point is, our kids know they aren’t supposed to mess with guns. They know that just shooting someone because they feel like it, is wrong. But they need parental guidance, at times, to overcome problems, to keep temptations out of reach, and to learn to make good judgments until they mature.
WE NEED SOLUTIONS AND WE NEED THEM NOW!
We all need the help of the law. The law isn’t there just to punish. It’s there to protect and guide, as well. I’ve talked to both Democrats and Republicans who agree that safety classes and usage licensing make sense in gun ownership. Some disagree on licensing firearms, but in reality, it helps them, too. If a gun is stolen, we can report that to the authorities, and with the use of a decent database, that gun could very well be returned to us in short order. Should that gun be used in a crime, the authorities can see that it was reported stolen, and maybe track down the criminal, thereby securing and returning our property. Coordinating that database with sales and ownership of guns is no more invasive than having a database of vehicle VIN numbers and licensed drivers.
Part of the problem could be addressed by a regulation requiring some kind of safe or locking device for firearms if there is anyone under the age of 21 living in the same home. In the event of a minor committing a crime with a gun that wasn’t locked up, the owner would be held responsible, according to the severity of the crime. That would mean that if a teenager took a gun to school and shot someone, the parent could be found guilty of some charge such as felony negligence or felony contempt of a law agreed upon when purchasing that firearm. This obviously doesn’t address all shooters, or all circumstances, but it may be a solution for impulsive actions, or to keep guns from being stolen. At least it’s a step we can take within our own rights. Whatever we come up with, it needs to be backed by law. But you don’t need a law to make this happen in your home today. I found prices ranging from under $25 to about $200 that would fit most people’s needs. Of course, you can certainly spend more on higher quality, or for display purposes. Whatever the case, I think we must all do something until we can get our representatives in Congress to recognize the pain our children are going through, or until we vote in representatives that understand that some regulations have value.
I’m open to other ideas, if anyone would care to propose something. -THE END
VOTING MADE EASY
BUT WHY SHOULD YOU VOTE?
Apathy (lack of concern) about voting has allowed us to become embroiled in an unimagined state of chaos within our government. Congress is no longer representing any of us. Our protections for water and air quality are being stripped. Regulations are being cut without regard to secondary effects. For instance, bankers and financial managers are no longer required to give you advice that will be helpful to you!!! How crazy is that? We can still correct this, but only if we vote. It isn’t always easy to know who to vote for, or how to go about it. I can’t tell you who or what to vote for, but I can help make it easier for you. Let me explain.
For more than 200 years, Americans have been fighting for the right to vote, in one sense or another. Our forefathers tried to build a Constitution to protect us all. They did a very good job, but, of course, they couldn’t foresee everything.
The Constitution is in some respects a work in progress. Ratified 6/21/1788, amendments have been added continually, the last time being 5/7/1992 for the Twenty-seventh Amendment. There are 5 amendments about voting (so far).
The Fifteenth Amendment: Ratified 2/3/1870
- The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
- The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Nineteenth Amendment: Ratified 8/18/1920
- The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
- The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Twenty-fourth Amendment: Ratified 1/23/1964
- The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors of President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or any other tax.
- The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified 12/6/1868 was the first attempt of setting voting rights, but it also included other citizens’ rights, direction on giving aid and comfort to our enemies, rules of insurrection and rebellion as it pertained to government officials, and references to slave ownership, U.S. public debt not to mention that the right to vote was given only to males in this amendment. If you’re interested to reading it in its entirety, the following link will take you to a site where you can click on separate links to the articles or amendments of the full Constitution. https://usconstitution.net/const.html
The Twenty-sixth Amendment changed the voting age from 21 to 18 years of age ratified 7/1/1971.
In addition. there was the Voting Rights Act, signed into law in 1965 by President Johnson, partly in response to the well-known violence that took place earlier that year between police and peaceful protesters in Selma. Alabama. It was written as a reinforcement of the Fifteenth Amendment.
One would think this should more than cover the whole proposition of voting. The Fifteenth Amendment even covers incarceration, in that it includes “…shall not be denied or abridged…previous condition of servitude.” This means once sentence and parole or probation have been concluded, voting rights must be restored.
One would think… Yet, states and organizations continually find ways to inhibit voting rights. Despite the clause about servitude, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia ban convicted felons from voting for life, while Maine and Vermont allow even prisoners to vote1. Some states don’t provide enough polling places to accommodate the population of certain districts, while other states restrict voter registration to county seats or Federal buildings. People who can’t drive are often deprived of the ability to register and vote. Usually these types of restrictions target the poorer, black/Hispanic or immigrant districts which commonly contain higher concentrations of Democrats, putting them at a disadvantage.
Sometimes political groups or agitators send out misleading or false mailers saying your polling place is now at a different address, or the election date has been changed. One pastor in Mississippi pinned a creative flyer to his notification board stating that because of unexpectedly large voter turnouts, if you were voting YES on the [Life Begins at the Moment of Fertilization] you should vote on Tues. Nov. 8th, (the correct date) and if you were voting NO to vote on Wed. Nov. 9th.2 Robocalls have been used in many states, giving out false dates and other information.
With the Internet, social media is full of misdirection and deceit. Of course you can find legitimate information online, but you have to search in the right places. We can no longer accept what we’re told just because it sounds good. We need to verify things better, and go to official sites to get important information. MEMEs can be funny, thought provoking, or outright lies, so check them out before accepting their message. Republicans hate Democrats and Democrats hate Republicans, or so they say. Even news stories can be misleading.
So here’s the point. With all these attempts to misinform and stop you from voting, it becomes obvious that your vote counts even more – otherwise, why would they bother? I’m going to give you a few tips to help you navigate the world of voting.
March 20, 2018 brings the first Primary Election and it’s for Illinois. Each state sets their own date, so you need to be sure you know when the primary is for your state. You also need to know where your polling place is located. If you go to the wrong one in most cases you will be turned away. More importantly, you need to make sure you’re registered. Even if you believe you are, it’s best to check. There have been reports of tampering with electronic data, and some states have had errors occur where the wrong political party has been assigned or data has accidentally been purged. You can check your registration status and polling information online at https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote , or at https://www.headcount.org/verify-voter-registration/ which will also provide you with a voter history report that will look similar to this:
Below is a list showing state options. Early voting at your polling place or the county recorder’s office is helpful if you know you aren’t able to make it on the date of the election. Mail-in is the easiest and most failsafe way to vote if your state offers it. Some states have a combination of early/mail-in and absentee voting. A few states only allow absentee voting. Colorado, Oregon and Washington are the only states that have mail-in only voting. Most states allow absentee voting (military, bed-ridden, business out of state, etc.) but some require proof of need.
Here’s one last thing. An open state seat in the Georgia House of Representatives – no incumbent. 7% of registered voters voted.
Quote from a friend’s post:
Georgia State House of Representatives, District 175, special election on 2-13-18:
Only 7 % of the registered voters in three South Georgia counties cast their ballot in the special election to fill the vacant House District 175 seat. Republican John LaHood of Brooks County won the seat with 2,337 votes, receiving 70 percent of the vote. Democrat Treva Gear finished second with 24 percent with 778 votes. Coy Reaves received 4 percent of the vote, and Bruce Phelps received 2 percent. All of Brooks County and parts of Lowndes and Thomas counties make up the 175 House of Representatives District.
7%? Really? Now, THAT is the epitome of apathy.
So why should you vote? To protect your rights; to protect the rights of your children and their children. To preserve our democracy. To take back what is ours!
VOTING IS NOT JUST YOUR RIGHT
It’s your duty – your responsibility!
IS AUTUMN FOLIAGE IN WINTER A HARBINGER OF WORSE THINGS TO COME?
I went golfing yesterday. It was a beautiful day, with the sun shining and temperatures rising quickly to shirtsleeve weather. The course has a well-manicured layout for casual golfers, but the grass is struggling this season because of the prolonged heat lingering through autumn and on into winter. It seems every one of the last several years has brought us a later start than usual for the cooler temperatures of fall. Normally, winter rye is planted in October on the desert courses, and it weathers well until the spring. The plan isn’t working quite so well this year. Did I mention it was 78° yesterday? Our average high in Southern Arizona for January is 64°. January mornings would normally hover around 30° and have the golfers waiting for the frost to clear before allowing the early birds to begin their rounds, but not this time. There’s no mention of climate change, but the facts are evident. The winter rye is burning, even though it receives daily watering. The sun is too much for it.
The golf course is surrounded by aging but well-kept homes, and with many thirty to forty year old trees offering much needed shade. Most of the trees are either desert types, such as Mesquite or Palo Verde, but there are quite a few Pine and Cedar trees as well. The desert trees will lose most of their leaves during the winter, and if late winter and early spring brings us the life-sustaining rains, we’ll be treated to a majestic show of intensely yellow flowering trees around April, before they develop their canopies of green leaves for summer.
This year, as last year, we see subtle changes, though. Normally, January would be colorless, with bare tree limbs and the occasional pine tree breaking up the horizon. We’ve had the cloudy days of winter, but without the cold and without much rain to speak of since last July. Even in the desert, a certain amount of rain is common. Winter is often a good time for 2-3 inches of rain, but not this year.
So back to the golf course. On the side of the 12th fairway stood a magnificent Oak tree (not native to Arizona, most likely planted by a homesick human transplant) dressed in full orange and red regalia, as if it were late September in Iowa, not early January anywhere! It was so out of place it struck me as surreal. But then I remembered that we had planted an Ash tree in August and it had only begun losing its yellowing leaves around Christmas, which seemed late to me, but I hadn’t given it much more thought.
Why am I telling you this? Because in this morning’s paper there was a front-page article about a nearby canyon still boasting full autumn foliage – with the worrisome thought that this might be cause for concern for the future of our natural weather patterns, and the effects that could have on our fragile desert flora and fauna. You might question the word “fragile” when you think of cactus with 2″ long spines, and scorpions, snakes, coyotes and javelina. But all these creatures depend on the vegetation to be at its appropriate stage when they begin having their offspring and teaching them to forage for water and food, and how to use the plants as camouflage for safety.
Another concern is what happens to the desert when it dries out after months of no rain and then a sudden thunderstorm in summer brings lightning to the canyons devoid of running streams, and strikes a dry tree, ready to burst into flames that race up the canyon, destroying brush, cactus, other trees and smaller wildlife that are unable to flee. The dried up earth can’t absorb the rain fast enough to contribute to the water tables, so the water runs off in raging floods through the canyons, while the debris from the fire forms a sludgy mess as the water roars down the hills. Seedlings are washed away, and healthy plants below the flood are overcome by mud and water and debris.
Scientists who study climate change need much more data than that of one autumn season that’s off kilter. Their information comes from all over the globe and covers years, decades, and where possible, centuries of information. Even so, when an unusual occurrence takes place, scientists take note, verifying everything from temperatures, rainfall amounts, and wind patterns, to sunspots.
There are reports from National Geographic and CNN that the ozone hole seems to be responding to our attempts to get rid of CFCs – Chlorofluorocarbons … those things in aerosol spray bottles and refrigerator coolants. http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/01/health/antarctic-ozone-layer-healing/index.html Good news for future generations of people, to be sure.
Closing the hole in the Ozone is one important goal, but decreasing global warming is another that isn’t faring so well. According to another article by CNN http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/18/world/2016-hottest-year/index.html 16 of the hottest years on record world-wide happened since 2000. The last time there was a record cold year was 1911 – more than 100 years ago.
Global warming does not mean the every country, every state, and every city will get warmer each year. It means that the overall warming of our planet (Earth) is rising by a degree or two almost every year. The seas are getting warmer, the poles are getting warmer. Air currents are getting warmer and changing patterns. These alterations are causing weather conditions to change, and CLIMATE CHANGE is a more understandable description than global warming. Although the globe is getting warmer overall, some areas are experiencing fiercer winter weather because of wind patterns bringing in colder lake or ocean effect weather with more snow and lower temperatures over a given time. Tornadoes and hurricanes are becoming stronger and more frequent for the same reasons. This week, a “bomb cyclone” or winter hurricane moved up the east coast of the United States. We never hear of hurricanes in the dead of winter, but here we have one. Although it’s bringing temporary colder weather, its cause is the climate change taking place as other places in the world continue to warm, and the winter temperature of the oceans stay higher than normal, contributing to the development of hurricane force winds. It works in conjunction with the normal jet stream pushing cold air down from Canada this time of year, so that parts of the Midwest and New England are trapped between two areas of colder than usual weather, creating a false impression of “global cooling” as opposed to global warming. But make no mistake, warming is taking place in the United States, and in Europe, Africa, Asia, Antarctica, Australia, and many other places, even if it’s cold where you are right now.
Fortunately, all the major countries in the world, with the exception of the United States, have formed an agreement to reduce carbon emissions and other atmospheric pollution in an attempt to stop the rising heat. The United States was one of the original parties to form the Paris Climate agreement, but has since backed out for inexplicable reasons. Nevertheless, many of our states and cities have contacted the members of the global agreement and pledged to continue to reduce pollutants and maintain safe levels of emissions.
We weren’t really aware of global warming until 1957, when a newspaper mentioned the idea of global warming in southern California. It concerned scientists due to escaping gases and carbons that appeared to heat the atmosphere and could possibly lead to changes in weather if left unchecked. But the idea itself wasn’t really new. As early as the 19th century a Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius, considered that the burning of fossil fuel (coal) could have an adverse warming effect on the planet. It’s taken more than a century for most of the population of the world to accept that indeed, the earth is warming, and the outcome might not be very good if we don’t get a grip on it right now, before the damage becomes irreversible.
If we don’t act against climate change and man’s contributing behaviors, what will become of autumn foliage, spring flowers, and ordinary grass? Will we be golfing on sand on the west coast, while the east coast fights hurricanes and snow cyclones year round? – END
I Turned My Coworker In To HR When She Gave Me A Christmas Card, And She Changed My Heart
A person who gives a gift featuring his or her sacred religious iconography is reaching out, showing kindness and sharing his or her faith with others.
By Chad Felix Greene
December 18, 2017
For years I have been one of the only Jewish people at my places of employment. I am currently the only Jew who wears a kippah at my office every day. In my heavily Southern Baptist and rural town, one would think I would be quite familiar with the consequences of being such an outsider.
But, as any honest minority will tell you, that singular idea of what America must be like simply is not accurate. This image often lives exclusively in the minds of those intent on viewing the world as a hostile place, filled with bigotry
This reminds me of a woman who illustrates this disconnect perfectly. For a long time, in my early working years, I felt extremely uncomfortable around Christmas time. I was far more liberal then and far more suspicious of Christians around me.
I would walk around listening to Christmas music while attempting to block out all religious connotations. I would drive past Nativity scenes on public property and scowl at their imposition of Christian faith on everybody. I bitterly frowned at the lack of Chanukah-related decorations at the local stores. I felt completely outside of society, looking in from the cold at happy families eating their large Christmas dinners,
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
An older woman who worked with me then gave everyone a personalized Christmas card each year. The card even had a small, hand-placed candy attached. The first time she gave me a card, I instantly frowned with disapproval, as the cover featured a glittery Nativity scene. I tossed the card aside and shook my head at her utter lack of respect for my religious beliefs.
She did not seem to notice. The following year she did the same, with another new religiously inspired card bearing another carefully placed candy, and a rosy smile as she handed each out.
In secret, I wanted to enjoy her gifts. I would even sneakily eat the candy hoping no one would notice. I instinctively smiled inside only to force a frown on the outside on pure principle. I often convinced myself that even if I wasn’t that offended, other people might be and it was my responsibility to speak up for them.
I felt a social obligation to educate her on the inappropriateness of her actions, while inside I intermittently felt envious of the others who so fully enjoyed them. In my loneliness her act of kindness gave me a moment of comfort. I chose to replace that with resentment.
She was otherwise a lovely woman whom I generally enjoyed, but I viewed her as an object of validation to my belief in a totalitarian and fascistic Christian Right attempting to take over the country. Her sheer audacity in providing me with a clearly religious symbol felt like an intentional assault, and in the third year I anticipated it with hostility.
When she once again presented me a hand-signed card, I stood up and marched to Human Resources, waving it in the air as evidence of being discriminated against. I angrily complained that her intentions did not matter as long as I felt the offense and the act itself made working there feel unsafe. So they spoke to her about the issue.
Overcoming Narrowness with Generosity
Although many of the other employees enjoyed her yearly gift and scorned me for complaining, I felt justified in my actions. She never confronted me, but she avoided wishing me a Merry Christmas for the rest of the season. I felt validated. But I also felt profoundly empty.
I watched each of my coworkers laughing and fully enjoying the spirit of the holidays, sharing gifts and treats with one another completely unburdened by self-consciousness. As I sat at my bare desk, the bright colors, glitter, and celebration of all things Christmas taunted me. My lone Chanukah teddy bear did not comfort me.
The last year I worked there, she once again presented everyone with a Christmas card. This time the cover was a Christmas tree with no religious iconography. I was busy when she approached my desk and I remember her pausing, smiling down at me, and saying, “I hope you have a lovely holiday,” before setting my hand-written card on my desk.
I stared at it for a long time before finally reaching for it and opening it. It was a simple message, and she wished me happiness and joy in her own writing inside. As I held the card I felt a tingle of recognition of what she did for each of her coworkers every year when she did not have to. I felt a pang of guilt.
A Coworker I Can Never Forget
I left for other opportunities, and over the years as my conservative worldview came into focus and the heavy cloaks of victimhood shed to the ground behind me, I often thought of her and her kindness. I have worked with many people who chose to give everyone at the office a personalized gift, which were often religious in nature. Despite HR warnings against religious imagery or politically correct scolding on diversity and religious tolerance, many chose to offer kindness anyway. It took me a long time to recognize that I was choosing to be offended.
That wonderful lady passed away this week, and as I lit my Chanukah candles I thought of her. Despite my cold and bitter temperament, she tried to warm my heart with a small and simple gift every single year she had the opportunity to do so. She provided a moment of joy and happiness to so many people with a small act. I remember her kind face and perfume as she walked by. I remember her soft voice and wide smile. I remember how nice she was to absolutely everyone she encountered.
Curious onlookers often ask me about my religious beliefs, and every year as Chanukah approaches I receive many an enthusiastic inquiry into the precise dates and practices. People always want to make sure they give me a gift at just the right time. They don’t want to miss the holiday and make me feel left out.
Sometimes those Chanukah gifts have images of Jesus on them. Despite what our media presents and my younger self firmly believed, this is not an act of aggression but one of innocent compassion. A person who gives a gift featuring his or her sacred religious iconography is reaching out, showing kindness and sharing his or her faith with others.
I’m a Jew, Yet I Love Christmas
These days I find myself loving Christmas and the cheer, colors, sounds, and small acts of kindness surrounding me. People love to make other people smile and they do so with hand-crafted gifts, treats, and homemade goods. They relish in watching the people they engage with daily partake in delicious candy and cookies, and they eagerly post cards they have received all around doorways and on walls.
That kind woman could have ignored me after the first year when I threw her card in the trash in open sight. But she didn’t.
I still receive Christmas cards with Nativity scenes on them, and they line my desk and my doorframe with pride. I appreciate the gifts others give me now, and I know it is always with the best of intentions at heart.
It is so easy to be offended, so easy to feel hostility and suspicion. Victimhood is attractive because it gives people permission to be judgmental without consequence and feel superior in doing so. It creates a sense of being special, enlightened, and above it all. But this merely traps people in a cycle of bitterness and loneliness as they fight the urge to simply enjoy the holiday season with everyone else. Ironically, the fact that they receive the same gift as everyone else demonstrates their inclusion in the group rather than highlighting their difference.
As a Jew, I can say that I appreciate Christians’ gestures during this time of year. Although it has become more risky over time, I encourage Christians to continue providing them. That kind woman could have ignored me after the first year when I threw her card in the trash in open sight. But she didn’t, and that matters.
Kindness matters. Even when the objects of your kindness reject your efforts, just know that deep down you are touching a part of them that they will hopefully come to appreciate in time. Not everyone will, but just enough of us can be rescued to be worth the effort. Your small act of generosity means more than you know. – END
Chad Felix Greene is a political and social writer focusing on truth in media, conservative ideas and goals, and true equality under the law. He has written and illustrated Jewish children’s books and writes for online publications.
WHAT IS A PLATFORM AND HOW DO WE UNDERSTAND IT?
I’m starting to hear rumblings about the need for candidate platforms soon, to help guide us in our voting in the 2018 elections. One problem has been we haven’t had a clear picture of just who’s running. Now that the filing date for running in 2018 has passed, maybe we’ll get some answers.[Correction: the deadline for filing to be on the ballot in Illinois and Texas has come and gone. Other states have later dates, with the latest being New Hampshire on June 15, 2018. https://ballotpedia.org/Filing_requirements_for_congressional_candidates.] It might be a good idea to watch for a rash of new candidates as many unknowns are looking into filing procedures. So let’s look at what a platform is all about, and what to look for from our candidates as they emerge.
Every major party puts together a platform to describe what their goals and plans are for the coming election period. This is done every four years. Below are two comparable excerpts from our two major parties, covering the period from 2016 to 2020. Each party writes short passages like these about their major tenets, then provides outlines for planning, with a longer description called a “plank” for each subject. Note that these are the platforms we are all operating under right now.
Quote from the 2016 Democratic Party Platform: https://www.democrats.org/party-platform
“It’s a simple but powerful idea: we are stronger together.
Democrats believe we are stronger when we have an economy that works for everyone—an economy that grows incomes for working people, creates good-paying jobs, and puts a middle-class life within reach for more Americans. Democrats believe we can spur more sustainable economic growth, which will create good-paying jobs and raise wages. And we can have more economic fairness, so the rewards are shared broadly, not just with those at the top. We need an economy that prioritizes long-term investment over short-term profit-seeking, rewards the common interest over self-interest, and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship.”
From the 2016 Republican Platform we see: https://prod-cdn-static.gop.com/media/documents/DRAFT_12_FINAL%5b1%5d-ben_1468872234.pdf
“Republicans consider the establishment of a pro-growth tax code a moral imperative. More than any other public policy, the way government raises revenue — how much, at what rates, under what circumstances, from whom, and for whom — has the greatest impact on our economy’s performance. It powerfully influences the level of economic growth and job creation, which translates into the level of opportunity for those who would otherwise be left behind. Getting our tax system right will be the most important factor in driving the entire economy back to prosperity.”
The full preamble, outlines and statements can be read by following the links above if you want to see the specifics.
To a lesser degree, candidates at all levels usually have their own platforms, based loosely around that of their preferred party. If they’re running for United States Congress (either Senate or House) they’re likely to hug their party line more tightly. But they should also be concerned with issues that directly affect their state and its population. This would mean something like keeping a strategic military base in their district, securing needed infrastructure repairs, or maybe some local concern with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Some candidates take on special priorities, as well. They may have interests in foreign policy, economic trade policy, law enforcement or education, to illustrate a few. Incumbents will have a voting record that they may use to show their effectiveness (or lack, thereof). Even if they don’t mention it, you should go to the government website and check it to see if they’ve voted as they portray themselves.
This link shows all recorded voting per each bill. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes
This is the link for general “report card” information, and is really useful in checking to see how your representatives are performing. It lists bill sponsors, committees and so forth: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/report-cards/2016
In addition, most Senators and Representatives have a webpage that contains their individual voting records.
The webpage of each Senator or House Representative should tell you several things. First, it should tell you a little bit about the person – age, basic education, family status, military experience, previous job experience, etc. Then it should tell you about any special experience, education or talent that might give his or her qualifications an additional boost. Lastly, it should provide the platform, or at least a few paragraphs on what the intended accomplishments will be if elected to office.
Here are some ideas on the topics that might be covered in a party platform:
- Do an evaluation on redundant social programs, merge where possible.
- Rate needs and set a plan for infrastructure improvements, including nuclear plants, dams, the electrical grid, oil pipelines and water / sewage plants.
- Send engineers and project managers to all Territories and evaluate their infrastructure needs – especially the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as relates to recent hurricanes.
- Consider adding Puerto Rico as 51st state.
- Develop a stronger Bureau of Indian Affairs / Reevaluate and strengthen tribal agreements.
It’s not just Congressional Senators and Representatives that we need to follow. We also elect Governors, State Legislators, and other state officials such as Treasurer, Secretary, etc. In addition, we should do our due diligence on the lower levels of government, as well. When we vote, we are choosing the people who will determine how our taxes are raised or lowered, what businesses our community attracts, how educational needs are addressed, and so much more. We elect officials to our county, our city or township, and even to our school boards, as well as local judges.
Each one of these people should be presenting an overview of their positions on all the current concerns – A Platform. Most will only be a paragraph or two after a short bio. Many states send out a booklet prior to elections that list the candidates and an abbreviated platform to save us from having to do a lot of research. Some of us simply don’t have the time to look everyone up online. That’s when these booklets can come in handy. If we want to know more after looking that over, then we can go look up someone or something specific that we need to investigate.
The candidates who hold town halls or speak at rallies will have “talking points” which are the more popular considerations in that given area. On the west coast, a talking point might be innovation and technology. In the Midwest, it might be farming subsidies. On the East coast it could be climate concerns, and in the south it might involve oil rigs in the gulf. These may or may not be part of their actual platform.
In today’s world, we’re fortunate to have the Internet, and the ability to read and research without going to the library or waiting to hear a speech. But we must use it! If we vote blindly, we risk setting our own needs back by years because we didn’t find out first what the person we want to vote for will do with the power we give them. It’s our job as constituents to hold them to their promises, and vote them out if they don’t follow their own platforms. – END
SEXUAL HARASSMENT PERCEPTION IN 2017
Over the last few weeks, much has been talked about regarding sexual harassment. There’s a popular movement on social media that uses hashtag “me too” #metoo by those that have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetimes. A number of actresses and other prominent women have come forward to offer their experiences publicly, as well as thousands of other women in all walks of life.
In 1980 the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) defined sexual harassment as unwanted sexual advances or lewd comments or behavior that created an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. http://theweek.com/articles/500609/sexual-harassment-fine-line. It was also defined as a form of discrimination where employment or advancement decisions were based on a person’s physical assets or appearance over performance.
Prior to the ‘80s, it was often accepted that men would whistle, make suggestive remarks, and occasionally touch someone in what we might call an inappropriate way – including kissing, or resting his hand on the extreme lower back. Most people have never included rape as an accepted behavior, but even that definition began changing in the second half of the 20th century. In the 1970s marital rape became recognized, and by 1993, all states had some form of law against it. Date rape is another area that has been controversial. By today’s definition, date rape can occur at any time in a relationship from the first date to between two people who have been intimate physically and consensually in the past, but one party no longer wants to have that relationship.
Groping – always considered crude and disrespectful – became even more frowned upon, considered unwanted sexual intimacy. (Groping can be defined in more than one way, from the innocent groping in the dark to find something or someone, or groping for words, but also to clutching or grabbing a person in ways considered personal or sexual such as on the breasts, buttocks or genitelia, even through clothing.) Most other suggestive behaviors like flirtatious remarks, off-color jokes and so forth were still tolerated into the ’90s.
At the end of the 20th century, things changed. Making a “pass” at a person was no longer accepted. Where a cat whistle was once considered a compliment to a woman, by the late ’90s it became obscene. Any kind of physical contact, especially at work, became taboo. It was a confusing time for both men and women. Some women were offended by a smile or a genuine compliment while others didn’t mind hearing an off-color joke. Men who were used to joking around with women in a flirtatious way suddenly found themselves being accused of harassment.
Which of these could be considered sexual harassment in 2017?
Both, or neither, depending on the circumstances. The question is not whether the behavior is appropriate, but whether it is sexual harassment. In the first picture, could he be helping her to a chair because she felt ill, or asking her out on a date? In the second picture, could she be congratulating him on a job well done? Or could she be taking advantage of a situation where she knew he would have to respond in a friendly manner?
Some people are naturally more affectionate than others. We’ve had to learn to withhold hugs, touching someone’s arm, or giving a pat on the back. I was a bartender for a good part of my younger years. I wasn’t easily offended, didn’t mind the flirty behavior, and knew how to tell someone to keep their hands to themselves. In my life, I have had moments where I felt someone was out of bounds, say, by holding too close or making pelvic thrusts on the dance floor. These were not, to me, emotionally traumatic, but rather examples of aggravating and tasteless behavior. Almost always, a woman knows the difference between an attempted rape and a crude overture. Back in the ‘70s, a man I knew slightly offered me a ride home because my car wouldn’t start after work one evening. When we pulled into my driveway he reached for me and by the way he did it, I knew exactly what his intentions were, though we had never so much as held hands or kissed. I was able to fight him off, but others are not always that lucky. I was momentarily frightened, but again, it hasn’t affected my life in any other way. Another person might have reacted much differently, though. (He was not an employee where I worked, so I couldn’t report him, and it might not have done much good back then, anyway.)
From the male perspective, my husband loves language jokes, which include double entendres (words or phrases that can have both an innocent and a sexually charged meaning), puns, and other word play that can sometimes be mistaken for a come-on. He would never touch a woman offensively, but was once called to HR because of a complaint filed against him for sexual harassment at a company function. I was with him at a tailgate party hosted by his company. Foam “noodles” were handed out to wave at the game. Nearing game time, a group of us began talking together while walking towards the stadium. Everyone was laughing and kidding around and at some point my husband reached forward and tapped one of the women on the head with the foam noodle and said something like “there, I banged you.” It was in response to some joke someone had made. Since I was right there, I can tell you that my husband was simply being playful, and not interested in furthering a relationship. But that’s what landed him in HR and had him taking a class about sexual harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately, that went on his work record.
It took some time for us to change our natural habits so as not to offend anyone. We still joke with one another, but not so much with our friends, and definitely not with co-workers.
Sensitivity really can’t be measured. When we’re hurt physically, we sometimes refer to a high or low “threshold of pain.” Doctors sometimes refer to a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extreme pain. With mental or emotional sensitivity, it’s not that simple. No one wants to be objectified, man or woman. Each of us want to be considered for our own worth and abilities. Some of this stems from the equality movement; equal pay and equal opportunities for all. But it’s also just a human reaction to people who don’t show respect and seem to feel entitled to acting on their basest instincts without regard to our feelings.
All reported claims of sexual harassment must be looked at seriously. Not only is it the law, but some forms of harassment turn into rape, whether it’s Bill Cosby, accused of plying women with drugs, or “casting couch” directors with their powers to give or withhold a job. Furthermore, some people, both men and women, truly suffer emotional distress from the unwanted familiarity, even if it doesn’t result in rape. Often, victims of sexual harassment carry some measure of guilt, thinking it must have been something they said or did to cause the other person to think approaching them in such a manner would be acceptable.
Sometimes people make accusations out of jealousy or retaliation. Rejection can lead an admirer to want to punish the person who turned them down for a more involved relationship. This can become a stalking situation, which is also a form of sexual harassment, and should be reported as soon as one realizes they are being stalked. This form of harassment is considered criminal and can often lead to more dangerous behaviors. Both men and women have been stalkers.
An easier way of getting quick revenge for rejection is to accuse one’s “love interest” of some kind of sexual overture. False accusations of rape have put more than one innocent person in jail. With less serious accusations, harm is still done. The falsely accused person could lose their job or career. Families can be affected, including causing divorce and financial loss through defense expense.
Emotions can cause the appearance of sexual harassment, yet upon further inspection, the accuser may realize that whatever happened was not intended to be sexual in nature. In this case, the complainant may not have lied, but may have simply misread the situation. This is where a good arbiter can aid in reaching the truth of the matter.
So are there “15 minutes of famers” out there who take advantage of opportunities to lay claim to things that simply didn’t happen? Sure there are! There are people who take advantage of an opportunity. It’s extremely rare, but something that investigators and attorneys look at when there are several complaints against one person – especially if that person is famous or wealthy. In some opinions, this kind of opportunistic accusation is a reverse form of sexual harassment. http://www.management-issues.com/opinion/1184/avoiding-reverse-harassment-and-discrimination/ . Proving it is difficult. The defendant is trying to prove something did not happen. A negative is the hardest thing to prove! Also, something can seem to be sexual harassment, and actually be an accident, a misunderstanding, or some form of unprofessional conduct that is not truly sexual in nature.
A person who knowingly makes false accusations can be tried in a court of law for slander or for defamation. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation to be found guilty of this crime (which can be either a civil or criminal case, depending on the circumstances) three things must be proven. For ordinary citizens those are (1) proving the statement is false, (2) proving it caused harm, and (3) the complaint was made without adequate research into the truthfulness of the statement. For a celebrity or public official, it must additionally be proven that the accusation was made with actual malice.
An excellent and in-depth article by a university complaints investigator regarding the various degrees of sexual harassment, and/or the assessment of interpretation and intent of the complainant can be found at https://academicmatters.ca/2011/10/false-allegations-of-sexual-harassment-misunderstandings-and-realities/ .
The majority of people under 40 in the 21st Century know the boundaries. But the boundaries have changed over the years. What was accepted even 20 or 30 years ago is no longer tolerated. Laws vary from state to state on Statute of Limitation for rape cases, but what about sexual harassment? According to https://employment-law.freeadvice.com/employment-law/sexual_harassment/time_limitations.htm , there are work limitations as short as 180 days.
It is important for people to feel that they can come forward with complaints of sexual harassment, but it’s also important to take into consideration what was the standard norm during the time the alleged harassment occurred. To claim whatever harassment occurring now is due to it being accepted in the past does not excuse it today. However, to besmirch someone’s reputation by referencing something from decades ago that was considered a minor or non-flagrant action at the time of occurrence is reverse harassment, as well, unless the behavior is still ongoing. Withholding complaints over fears of losing one’s job is certainly understandable. However, if it is happening to you, it is probably happening to someone else, as well. That’s something to consider while you determine your course of action. But to suddenly claim harassment 20 years after you left your job, without knowing for sure that it ever occurred to anyone else or is an ongoing issue, might be opening yourself up to a defamation or slander lawsuit. The other unfortunate outcome is ruining a person’s life when they have already accepted the new norm and now realize that their unwanted attentions are out of line, and have changed their attitudes and behavior.
By all means, if you have been sexually harassed, molested, or raped, you should report it! If you aren’t sure what to call it, or whether it is actually something wrong, seek the advice of a counselor, an HR professional, a doctor, or if you’re in school, talk to your parents, the school nurse or counselor, or a trusted teacher. You can also call the police and express the fears you have, explaining you aren’t sure if it’s something that needs to be reported. They have experts that can talk with you. If you know or suspect that someone is intent on harming you or stalking you, report it immediately. If you are a male, you are susceptible to the same treatment, so if you have a problem, handle it through the proper channels; don’t try to “man-up.”
There are crisis hotlines in most cities and towns. There is a national sexual assault line as well. That number is 1-800-656-4573 (1-899-656-HOPE). You don’t need to have actually been raped to call. There are also rape centers you can go to in many areas, that will help you deal with the multitude of feelings and concerns you have. Don’t hesitate to call for help! – End
I OWN A GUN AND THE NRA DOESN’T REPRESENT ME
By Bob Schneider
Glock, Pixabay Images
I own a gun. I own a Glock G30S, and I own it for personal protection. I receive many threats because I’m frank in stating my political opinions. Some say I’m more than frank. They would characterize me as harsh and abrasive.
Whether my style is frank, or harsh, I’ve collected my fair share of haters. Some have threatened me with harm. Are they just keyboard warriors shoot off their mouths? I don’t know if they are or not. I do know they give every appearance of being unbalanced mentally and I’m not taking any risks.
Before anyone says, “Bob has rediscovered his GOP,” save your breath. I’m a proud gun-toting Democrat. If the threats didn’t exist, would I own a gun? I might. Target shooting is a lot of fun. I doubt I would be shooting targets with a .45 caliber handgun. I would go with something smaller. God willing, I hope I never have to use it. I hope the threats I get are just keyboard warriors full of themselves.
How big is the gun industry in the USA?
According to NBC News, in 2015, the latest year we have industry figures for, the gun business earned 16.6 billion dollars. Of that number, 13.5 billion went to gun manufacturers. Gun stores and the ammunition business earned 3.1 billion dollars. That is big business.
In 2013, 10,847,792 pistols, shotguns, and rifles were built in the USA. Of those weapons built, only 4% were exported. That means 10.4 million of those firearms stayed in the USA. Pew Research estimates there are 270 to 310 million firearms in The United States. That is nearly one firearm for every person in the country. The figures represent legal gun sales in the USA. There is no way to track the illegal street sales.
The Pew research found a minority of people own all those guns. Collecting guns is a popular hobby in the USA. Sport shooting is also popular as is hunting. Not one Democratic proposal on gun control will affect any of those activities by law-abiding citizens.
I don’t need the NRA to protect my 2nd Amendment rights and neither do you
The National Rifle Association used to be a wonderful organization. Their focus used to be gun safety. They still offer gun safety courses. That is no longer their primary focus. The NRA of today are shills for gun manufacturers and have little to do with protecting the rights of gun owners. The great irony is that through fear and propaganda, the NRA has convinced gun owners to pay for the lobbying for gun manufacturers.
The NRA is one of the biggest, and best propaganda organizations on the planet. Anytime a common-sense gun law is discussed, the NRA starts the fear mongering. How many remember Actor Charlton Heston’s performance at an NRA gathering when he uttered the words, “My cold, dead fingers,” to the delight of the audience? There was a standing ovation.
The NRA is fond of fairy tales. The NRA loves to tell their membership the Democrats want to ban guns. It is a flat-out lie. I looked at their Twitter feed the day of the Las Vegas shooting. They went silent but in reading early tweets, they are still harping on President Obama taking guns away. Not a single gun ban was proposed, or a gun taken away by President Obama during his two terms. Deeper background checks and closing any loopholes in checking who is buying guns is not “banning” guns. That’s being smart.
Outlawing the kits people can buy to make a semi-automatic rifle like the AR-15 fully automatic is not banning guns. That is being smart. Selling machine guns to civilians is illegal as it should be. Making the sales of kits to convert rifles into machine guns should also be illegal. Will it stop the practice? Maybe, maybe not. I do know it will slow it down.
The same goes for silencers. Silencers have one purpose and that is to try and muffle the sound of a shooter so they won’t be detected. If the NRA tries to sell the idea it is to protect the hearing of the shooters then they should get out of the gun racket and go into comedy writing.
The people who protect your rights as a gun owner work in the building in the picture. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution exists and by that fact alone, our guns will not be banned. Chicago and Washington, DC banned all guns a few years back. In the DC case, The District of Columbia vs Heller, and MacDonald vs Chicago, the US Supreme Court struck down the laws banning guns. It is the law of the land and unless there is a new Amendment to the Constitution nullifying the 2nd Amendment, that is not changing.
What the NRA does is dangerous for America. They aren’t protecting Second Amendment rights. They stop common sense gun laws that will protect us. The NRA likes to say all we are doing is inconveniencing legal gun owners. As a legal gun owner, just let me say, feel free to inconvenience me. It is for the greater public good.
What the NRA is right about
Gun owners are fond of saying we don’t do enough about the poor mental health in America. Know what, they’re right. We do need to do more for those afflicted with severe mental health issues. One thing we can do for them is to help them, and ourselves, by making sure people who are psychotic can’t buy a firearm. The NRA opposes this idea. If someone has epilepsy they can’t have a driver’s license. I don’t see a major lobbying organization holding meetings saying, “Pry my car keys from my cold, dead fingers.”
The gun control isn’t a debate; it’s a shouting match
Have you noticed there never seems to be the right time to discuss gun control in the USA? The NRA accuses the left of dancing on the graves of the dead. The left accuses the NRA and gun owners of putting people in their graves. Neither case is entirely accurate. The NRA does block laws that may save lives. The left is correct about that. I emphasize “may” because there are no guarantees. The NRA didn’t pull the trigger in any of the shooting sprees in recent years. They argue new laws would not have made the outcome any different. That is an assumption they are making that is subject to debate.
I’m tired of reading the words “Prayers for the victims” on social media. I want a safer America. I don’t want to ban guns but I sure want us to use some sense about who gets them and who doesn’t.
The NRA is abusing the Second Amendment, and gun owners are being used as their patsies. If the NRA wants to really be useful, host a summit between the two sides of the debate and instead of shouting at each other, figure out what we can do to head off the next tragedy.
I realize the NRA will only advocate for the gun and ammunition manufacturers. That is what they do. As representatives of a large business sector, their voice should be heard too. It shouldn’t be the only voice.
SPECIAL KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS…DO WE LEAVE THEM OUT?
I saw this comment online recently and decided to talk with my daughter, who worked in special needs education for a time. Through her insight, it occurred to me that I should post this on my blog.
I can’t fairly evaluate or comment directly about the events that took place with these two children. I don’t have enough information. Special needs kids do not have a one-size-fits-all solution.
Let’s look at some possibilities with the first incident; the exclusion of an autistic child from participating in a school trip. How old was the child? Was he taking a special needs class, and being integrated into the mainstream school population? [More about this later.] Did they even have a special needs class at that school? Was there anyone at the school trained in supervising autistic children on outings? Was at least one of his parents able to go along? As explained to me, autistic children are particularly sensitive to lights and sounds. Something most of us take for granted could send an autistic child into a panic where he could lash out, or run, or simply withdraw inside himself. It could be the bleat of a goat at the zoo, or a loud bang from the assembly line at a manufacturing plant. Would there be flashing colored lights at exhibits? These questions need to be asked, answered and evaluated based on the level of his autism, his general aptitude, and past behavior. Remember that there is a safety factor here. The safety of the other students, and also his own safety could be in jeopardy.
Let’s look at student number two, a Down’s syndrome child; removed from a dance class when she wasn’t able to keep up with the other students. Some of the first set of questions still apply. What was her age? Was she being integrated into the mainstream, or was she a full-time student on the regular agenda? Down’s syndrome children are known to be some of the kindest, most loving kids you can ever meet. They often do well in a regular, age appropriate classroom setting. That doesn’t mean they’re up to all the challenges that other students their age can cope with. Some studies show that children with Down’s syndrome require more practice with motor movements, whether in dance, exercise, or sports, and may have a learning delay due to physical ability with the central nervous system. https://www.down-syndrome.org/information/motor/overview/ Were her needs such that other students were being held back in a way that could impact their learning and performance? Possibly she should be moved into a less advanced dance class, where she could learn at a slower pace.
There are a number of other children that fall into the category of special needs. Kids with Asperger’s ( a variation of autism), ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), ADD (Attention deficit disorder), vision impairment including dyslexia, hearing impairment, Tourette syndrome and multiple other conditions can fall into the category of special needs. Each of these children need to be placed where they can benefit most from the experience with the least disruption to the mainstream students’ learning processes. Many of these students recognize that they aren’t like the other students, but they still want and need friends and social activities. Go to this site to see famous celebrities who have battled dyslexia and other learning disorders. https://www.special-education-degree.net/25-famous-people-with-learning-disorders/
In larger communities, most public schools have classrooms with teachers and teaching assistants who are trained in working with special needs kids. As these kids develop, each at their own pace, most schools try to integrate them into standard classrooms, which works to the benefit of both the individual child and the other students in the school. Let me explain. When children are separated because of a condition, the other students consider them “different” and therefore not as sociably desirable. Meanwhile, the child from the special needs class begins to feel left out, unwanted, and so on. By moving the students with disabilities or learning problems into some of the standardized classrooms, they become “less weird” to the other children, and often assimilate quite well into the new structure. Of course, some children will adapt easier than others, but overall, it’s been proven that as abilities develop, integration benefits the child and stimulates learning. That said, sometimes events arise where special considerations must be made. Each case is going to be different, but the main thing is to maintain the safety of all children at all times. Sometimes a child can only be moved into one or two classes. For instance, some children with autism can actually do advanced math, while still not ready to try out social skills in the gymnasium. Conversely, a child suffering with ADHD might well benefit from a good workout in the gym.
Unfortunately, all schools do not have the facilities to separate the students, especially in smaller communities. Surprisingly, Down’s syndrome children can often do quite well in generalized study. Many others can too, but some children end up being home-schooled or even sent to a school specific to their needs, such as a school for the deaf and blind. Often, these schools provide boarding during the school year, since the kids come from several towns.
So the important thing here is to realize that each child will have different abilities and needs. I’m not just talking about special needs kids. If you think back to your childhood days, you’ll probably remember a kid or two that got teased a lot because they were smart, and another who was teased for being “dumb.” Maybe one of them was you. This idea of integrating the special needs students into as much standardized education as they can handle can actually help solve some of the teasing from happening as the students learn that even kids you thought were less capable can indeed learn and be funny and interesting and smart in their own ways.
Next time you get a chance, take a look at your child’s school. Find out what classes are offered for special needs students. If there are none, ask why not. Talk to your kids and find out if they know any special needs kids, and ask how they interact together. Explain to your children how all people have problems… some are just more obvious than others.
Of course all kids want to be included in outings and fun activities. Many times that’s possible and encouraged. Just remember that there are other students, too. Everyone’s safety must come first. Without knowing the special circumstances of the individual child, forming an opinion and making a judgement call can cause more stress and more harm than good. And if “winning” is the only goal, then yes, these children are being left behind. But remember that in a competition, tryouts leave out everyone who isn’t qualified to be on the team. Possibly pointing this out to special needs children would help them understand the difference between competition and general play. Also, show film/video of special Olympic events, to encourage their efforts.
And finally, parents must rise to the challenge too, of teaching their own children – whether special needs or not – that getting to know people that are different than they are can be a wonderful and inspiring experience. If there are special needs kids in your child’s class, encourage them to include that person in on things like birthday parties, or games, or just joining them for lunch. — END
A HOW-TO ABOUT CRITICISM OF THE OPPOSITION ONLINE
In a world where we can now speak out instantaneously about the latest news, it might be wise to consider a few things before posting.
I try to write my blog posts in an informative and unbiased way. Sometimes that’s harder to do than I anticipate. But I believe by pointing fingers and playing the blame game, we accomplish little and antagonize a lot. My goal is to try to reach out to the general public and offer useful, thought-provoking material that anyone can relate to. Sometimes I’m providing factual information, and sometimes I’m attempting to look at issues in a more philosophical manner, Today I want to do a little of both.
On a daily basis, we see cartoons, hear jokes, or read articles that are disparaging, derogatory or distasteful. Most of these are directed at political figures or groups, or at sports or entertainment celebrities. But some are against ordinary groups of people, like ‘all republicans’ or ‘all democrats’ or in the worst cases, against an ordinary individual. On occasion, the joke or cartoon is not meant to hurt anyone, but is a thoughtless depiction derived of a dark sense of humor. When aimed at an individual, it becomes a type of bullying and/or discrimination. This is the kind of stuff that we read about, where a teenager commits suicide after being shamed or humiliated online or at school. What started out as a bad joke can turn into an insulting, hurtful continuum of degrading ridicule, leading to utter despair by the targeted person.
Kids are generally not mean spirited and cruel by nature. Most of the time this is learned behavior – sometimes by the way they’re treated, and sometimes by watching the behavior of others around them. At times, they get swept up by their peers and join in tormenting others in order to be accepted by a desired social circle. However, more often than not, they learn this type of disrespect from their home environment, whether it be from parents, siblings, or other relatives. For more insight into what might lead to bullying behavior in your child, https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/the-parent-coach/causes-of-bullying-bullying-behavior-in-bullying-child/ leads to a site that offers a more in-depth explanation of how a child can become a bully, even when they aren’t actually being exposed to direct bullying tactics. One quote from this article jumped out at me because, as a parent, I know this to be true: “Just because a child might not always “listen” to our requests and instructions doesn’t mean they aren’t intently listening to our views of other kids, parents, teachers, neighbors, and so on.”
I would like to focus on the ways in which we unintentionally – or intentionally – bully and disrespect other people in our daily interactions. At work there is usually a code of behavior that’s implemented in the work environment. Human Resource Departments spend large quantities of their time arbitrating disputes and harassment claims between employees. Granted, some companies are better at doing this than others. At least there are rules.
But how do we interact with others in our “free time” or social activities? When approaching an opinion other than our own, do we let fly with the first thought that comes to mind, or do we consider the effectiveness of our words? There is a well-known saying, “Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” Of course, we’ve all said something at times that we wish we could take back. Anger generates an even more favorable climate for regrettable moments. Perhaps politics is the most conducive element for destructive thoughts, words and behavior. For one thing, we all think we’re right when it comes to politics. Of course that’s not possible, but who wants to go first and say, ‘maybe I was wrong’? Who’s going to even think it?
What’s shocking, though, is the amount of vitriol we see in social media. I often wonder, do these people talk this way to everyone, or is it the anonymity of the Internet that removes their inhibitions? I’m not going to give you any pictorial examples of the things I see posted on Face Book, Twitter, or other social media sites because if I did, most likely my site would be shut down for pornographic or inflammatory content. The verbal abuse is bad enough.
I’m not speaking of trolls, or paid antagonists, or juvenile personalities that jump onto their parent’s accounts. I’m talking about supposedly reasonable adults, maybe even relatives or people you know, that curse and insult not only a targeted politician like Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, but belittle anyone who supports them, or anyone who questions a political stance. Hillary Clinton used a poor choice of words when she called Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables.” I believe she was referring to the KKK which had endorsed Trump for president, or possibly the White Nationalists/Supremists who also backed him. Unfortunately, she unwittingly encompassed all Trump supporters with her statement. It sets up an atmosphere where it’s okay to use labels like repuklicans or demoRats. I suppose these names are considered to be clever. To me, the users seem ignorant. It’s as if they don’t have enough grasp of the English language to describe their thoughts and feelings, so they resort to name-calling of the basest sort.
Most people have also seen the vicious cartoons about the Obamas, either dressed in Muslim garb, or depicted as apes, and the one of Trump tweeting while on the toilet, or in an inappropriate embrace with Vladimir Putin. There are even pictures of a naked Trump statue that someone wasted their talents on. What kind of mentality finds this humorous? It’s true that the shock of seeing some of these elicits a reflexive or embarrassed laugh, but if this is a sign of a person’s true sense of humor, I don’t think I’d want to go see a comedy with them. In any event, I personally find these pictures offensive. I might agree with the sentiment, but I think less of the person who addresses it in this manner.
My parents brought me up to understand that hurting someone’s feelings is cruel. To attack their weaknesses or physical differences was shameful. To call someone fat, or ugly, or stupid, etc. shows that you are insensitive to others’ feelings. Furthermore, I can’t think of a single instance where this name-calling helped a situation. The same goes for cursing. I know all the words and what they mean, (and I’ve even used some in a fit of anger.) I know what STFU means, too, and GTFO. Google them, if you don’t. I was also taught that cursing shows a lack in vocabulary. That’s not necessarily always the case, though. Frustration often lends itself to cursing, but it’s still not a good way to communicate.
The question here is why are we arguing with people that we disagree with by going down to a level of hate-filled obnoxious commentary? When someone tells you to STFU, does their point of view even matter to you anymore? So if you talk to them that way, is there any reason to wonder why they don’t get your point? And the hate is so penetrating. In group discussions, I have seen people type that they no longer speak to members of their own family because of a political stance. They say they will never even knowingly talk to someone from the other political party. Why? How can you learn if you cut yourself off from understanding a different perspective? No one says you have to agree, but wouldn’t it be better if you consider their side, even if only to give yourself a better way to argue once you understand where their thoughts come from?
Here are some random comments I’ve seen on group postings and article comments. They come from both liberal and conservative sites and you would be wrong if you tried to guess:
- Drug addict
- You are a nitwit (unable to determine who)
- —shut places down so the Chinese and Russians can’t dump their trashy kids there…
- F’ing morons
- Facebook, please … add a puke emoticom
- Godzilla outshines Moo-shelle
- I can understand why leftist women are so angry. All you have to do is look at them, if you know what I mean.
- Who cares if it wipes out Mexico? LOL (re: Hurricane Katia)
- You pray and God preys
I’m going to throw two other points in here. One is criticism of a person’s religion (unless, of course, the subject is religion to begin with). The other is making false statements. These are two methods of arguing that are cheap shots and have no place in social discourse. False statements not only detract from your argument, but if believed can lead to serious mistakes and sometimes physical harm to other people – not to mention terrible election outcomes from time to time.
The best way to critique an article is by presenting facts and where you obtained them. Sometimes that might be personal experience, which is fine. Just use acceptable language and aim for good spelling and punctuation.
When replying to a meme, remember that lots of people you don’t know might be affected by what you say. You don’t have to sound like an English professor, and you may certainly offer criticism. That’s part of what makes these sites like Twitter, Instagram and Face Book so popular. Just be kind, or express your frustration or anger in a non-combative way. If you would be offended should someone say something similar to you, don’t say what you were about to say. – END
THREATS TODAY WITHIN OUR OWN GOVERNMENT
NOTE: For readers’ convenience, definitions of some terms used in this article can be found by scrolling to the end, with links to follow as needed.
In this first quarter of the twenty-first century, we as a nation are facing threats in various forms and from several directions.
From outside, we’re involved in on-going wars throughout the Middle East, with Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, ISIS insurgents in Iraq and Syria where, in Syria they become part of the Syrian civil war, to the continuing conflicts between Israel and Palestine. We have the ever-growing threat as North Korea fires off ICBMs, each time redefining the limits of their ability to strike at other countries, including the United States. Russia is pushing the borders of surrounding sovereign states, while dancing a fandango with our politically illiterate new president.
From inside our political parties are foundering, unable to connect within their own membership let alone work to reach agreements or compromises with those on the opposing side. Several of our leaders are fomenting the division deliberately, for reasons no one can determine. The oligarchs are running wild, gaining more and more wealth from the wallets of the middle and lower class citizens, some of whom are hanging on by their cracked and broken fingernails.
At first glance, our nation seems to be handling all this pretty well. The stock market is relatively stable with signs of an economic upswing in certain areas. Unemployment numbers are under 5%, although that may be an artificial reflection since many people have run out of unemployment benefits and are no longer included in the unemployed formula, and many others are employed only part time.
A second look tells us that we have major divisions in our population, with many issues coming back into play that had, a few years ago, appeared to be waning as our culture diversifies. We have an increase in hate crimes, aimed frequently at religious groups, but also directed at people of color, be it black or brown skin or some other feature that singles out a racial difference. There is a newer racism developed out of fear that is focused on immigrants from other parts of the world, and lesser understood cultures from the Middle East. Additionally, police relations with ordinary citizens are nearing a new low, and it goes both ways. Police have been ambushed or gunned down during traffic stops. Citizens have also been killed in horrific incidents of mistaken identity and hasty reactions. This is not rampant throughout America, but it is happening often enough that both sides are very jumpy and anxious when forced to interact. Add into this mix that many people are now completely stressed out about losing healthcare or their civil rights, or having their families torn apart through new regulations regarding deportation or immigration in general. On second thought, maybe our nation isn’t handling things so well after all. And maybe our Government is the biggest reason for this discontent.
First let’s ask, how does our president connect to all this? Donald Trump is a self-admitted opportunist and member of the capitalistic society. His books boast of his ability to manipulate investments and persuade people of influence and wealth to join in his business ventures. He brags about refusing to pay for contracted work, and hiring employees through the H-1B program that brings temporary workers from other countries here to work for lower wages. Politically speaking, for many years he was a registered Democrat but switched to the Republican Party in order to run for the presidency. He won the 2016 election through the Electoral College vote, but lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by over 3 million votes. It became apparent, even during the campaign, that Mr. Trump was arrogant, frequently deceitful, and bigoted, with a penchant for insulting people who dared to challenge him in any way. He promoted divisive behavior, bordering on suggested violence between his supporters and his critics. Early into his presidency, the majority of critics considered him an Oligarch while many people began to speculate that he wanted a Kleptocracy. That is to say, he was viewed as a wealthy, controlling personality, and that he saw the presidency as a way to increase his power and increase his business assets for himself and his immediate family. Before too long, it also became apparent that he thought himself above the law, and intended to rule, rather than lead the country. Mr. Trump seems to hold some strange fascination with various *strong men* in general, such as President Duterte of the Philippines, or Chinese President Xi Jinping. He has a particular interest in Russian President Vladimir Putin, and refuses to even acknowledge the interference of Russia in our 2016 election process, that every one of our security departments agree happened. As disturbing as all that is, his theories on governing are more frightening.
His idea has been to treat the government like one of his business entities. For example, when his Muslim Ban was stopped by the judicial system he railed at the courts, insisting that it was within his right alone as president to decide who entered this country. He thinks of himself as the ultimate decision maker, and it came as a hard lesson to him to find out that our democracy has checks and balances to prevent that very thing from happening. Our Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights, lays out clearly that we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people. There is no King or Emperor. He has mentioned on several occasions that the Constitution is outdated and needs to be redone. His style became that of a dictator or despot as he demanded loyalty from other government officials, and fired the ones that didn’t comply. (Government officials swear a loyalty to the Constitution of the United States. They are not required to be “loyal” to a person or group.) He continually refers to the media as “fake news” and regularly ignores questions they ask. Mr. Trump doesn’t seem satisfied with being president. He appears to want to reign over the United States of America.
For the sake of comparison, here is a short list of Dictators/Tyrants that have become the heads of countries: Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Gorbachev, Brezhnev, Putin, Bolivar, Noriega, Ortega, Hugo Chavez, Fidel and Raul Castro, Gaddafi, Arafat, Mubarak, Bashar al-Assad, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Kim il Sung, Kim Jong-un, Mao Zedong, and the list goes on.
What defines them as Dictators? Dictators rule through authoritarianism, discouraging or disallowing freedom of the press, speech, and other rights we recognize in a democracy.
- Although some countries may have limited access to television entertainment, any news is offered up through state media only. Freedom of speech is also limited, especially anything negative or questioning about the leader.
- Firm loyalty is a requirement, and any display of disloyalty can result in severe consequences up to and including imprisonment or death.
- Education is for the wealthy only, with most other children getting a rudimentary education until they become old enough to go to work. (That age varies from nation to nation.)
- Rights are basically meaningless under a dictatorship. Wages are what the government says they are. A worker stays until he is sent home and does the work he/she is told to do, whether it fits a certain job description or not.
- Only the wealthy can file a law suit, and then only in a limited way. If charged with a crime, there may or may not be a trial.
- Some dictators allow elections, but it’s hardly a choice when there is only one candidate.
- Woman are usually second rate citizens at best. More likely, they are treated like possessions or chattel.
- Religion may or may not factor into a dictatorship. North Korea does not recognize any religion other than the worship of Kim il Sung. Last year in Russia, Putin signed a law that allowed speaking of religion only in churches. Although Russia recognizes many religions and claims “freedom of religion” it is clear that the government controls how and where it is practiced. http://www.newsweek.com/vladimir-putin-russia-foreign-religion-crackdown-498551 ISIS, of course claims to be Islamic, but it is their own brand, not the true religion of Muslims around the world.
- An interesting note about our Constitution: It was written and signed by men of several religious denominations, but the majority of those involved were secular (non-religious). Freedom of religion meant the freedom from religion, as well. The separation of church and state was paramount to them, as they had come out from under the rule of the Church of England and did not want a religious marker on the new world.
As pertains to our country today, Mr. Trump promised great changes and a better system than we already had. As it turns out, most of the changes he’s been enacting are not the sorts of changes that we the people want, and so far they haven’t made America any greater.
Actual Losses, so far:
- Loss of International respect
- Loss of leadership position in Paris agreement
- Loss of leadership in the G20 summit meeting
- Cuts to public school funding
- Gutting of the EPA
- Severe cuts to the State Department
- Unreasonable Deportations resulting in the heart-breaking separation of families
- Cuts in Visas to workers for farmers and laborers for the trades
- State Department refusal to accept funding for protecting us from Internet interference from ISIS and Russia (Think about that!)
- Rollbacks on Obama Regulations (Some of these being challenged in court)
- Offshore Oil Drilling Limitations
- Clean Power Plan
- BLM restrictions on drilling on public lands, national parks
- Clean Water regulations for streams and rivers including Office of Surface Mining Stream Restrictions Act
- Complete cut of financial aid to Meals on Wheels
- Cuts to funding for school meals
- Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule
- Transgenders no longer allowed to serve militarily (as yet unenforced)
- Right to Privacy – Public posting of voting and other personal data
- Reactivation of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines construction
- Freedom of the Press (At least one member of the press has already been arrested, with several being temporarily detained at various events. The press has also been ejected at times from public political events)
- Freedom of Assembly and Speech (Limiting protests and rallies. **Congress is also trying to pass a bill that would criminalize boycotting or speaking critically of Israel.) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/democrats-join-republicans-in-bill-criminalizing-speech_us_5978bc17e4b0c6616f7ce6d9?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003
- Freedom of Religion (separation of church and state)
- Less restriction on police brutality
- The Right to Vote – You read that right. Mike Huckabee is currently asking congress to repeal the 17th amendment and allow governors to appoint Senators.
- Even more voter suppression through gerrymandering and limited access in certain districts
- Loss of healthcare to the most vulnerable (Seniors, Children, Disabled and the poor)
- Extreme Medicaid Cuts
- Cuts or privatization of Social Security and Medicare
- U.S. tax dollars spent building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico
- Banning of specific cultures, religions and nationalities
- Rollback of Dodd-Frank Act (Banking regulations, which, among other things, helps prevent poor lending and mortgage management, limits trading allowed by financial institutions, and requires proper ratings for valuations of business ventures.)
- Loss of Net Neutrality (large corporations like Verizon would “buy” parts of the Internet, then slow speeds or block entire portions of the web unless we pay a usage fee (above the Internet access fees we already pay)
The United States government affects us personally when it attacks health care or taxation and the like, but it also affects communities as a whole. We may not always recognize our place of residence as a community, but it almost always is. Even though farms and ranches are spread out, it’s still a rural, or farming community. Our cities are often divided into smaller hubs which are mixes of residential communities and industrial or mercantile communities.
Communities – In addition to continental divisions of East Coast, West Coast, Southern, and Midwestern, etc., the United States consists of sub-cultures and communities such as Urban, Rural, Suburban, Metropolitan, and Universities plus Religion Based and Ethnic communities. We have large Amish populations in the states surrounding the Great Lakes and the upper Midwest who generally live in their own separate communities. New York has several Jewish communities, while the South is largely populated by Baptists. In Metropolitan areas you may find large Chinese / Vietnamese / Korean communities offering goods and foods from their respective cultures. New York City is famous for having European ethnic groups, as well as Italians, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. Generally, the further west you travel the more likely you are to see less definition and more of a “melting pot” effect, although plenty of areas still have a majority of people of a certain ethnicity, such as Swedish or German or Russian, etc.
We also have economic sectors, like the “Rust Belt” which stretches from Minnesota around the Great Lakes and into New York. This was an area once recognized for its industrialization; manufacturing of cars, trucks, trailers, steel, and other industrial products. The name Rust Belt refers to the deterioration of the manufacturing businesses that either became outdated, or moved to areas that could provide cheaper labor, including overseas. Entire swaths of communities and neighborhoods fade into poverty as regulations are removed or programs are cut.
As we become more and more dependent on automation and technical advances, we see the casualties in our jobs market. Obvious things that once were profitable ventures, but are no longer viable include: Wagon Trains, Stage Coaches, Telegraphs, Horses for travel, Speakeasies, Bi-planes, Steam Boats, Crank Telephones, Analog or Landline Phones, Coal & Oil Heating, Manual Assembly Lines, Hand-Made Textiles, Steno Pools, Gas Station Attendants, to name just a few. These things are no longer manufactured, produced or used in the volumes they once were, and so require fewer, if any, operators and workers. (There is a mule rider that delivers mail to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, so some jobs hang on longer than others.)
Other changes are bound to follow. Here is a sampling of jobs headed for obsolescence:
- Auto mechanics
- Newspaper production staff
- Department store clerks/staff
- Bank tellers
- Furniture craftsmen
- Cab/Uber drivers
- Many in the service industries, like waiters and waitresses or travel agents.
- Family run farms and dairies are also taking a hit as large corporate entities take over with automated equipment and less need for manual labor.
The government, and specific candidates in particular, might make promises to shore up these businesses just like Mr. Trump did regarding coal mines, but the truth is, no one – not even the government – can force people or businesses to buy goods and products that no longer fill a need. In order to aid workers displaced by a shift in product demand, education and retraining are tools the government (both federal and local) can use to assimilate people into the modern marketplace, but so far that’s being scoffed at by the Republican Congress.
Normally, I try not to influence anyone’s decisions, but prefer to give all the angles and let everyone figure out what works best for them. In this case, though, I’m going to suggest that what we’ve done so far is taking us in the wrong direction. In fact, it’s taking us in the worst possible direction. We need to turn this bus around. Shake hands with your Republican or Democrat neighbor and say, “how can we work together to get ourselves out of this mess?”
Start by picking your battles. Stop competing with your potential allies. In the past, left and right have worked together and they can do it again. Write/text/email your congressmen, whether they are liberal or conservative, and tell them what you want, what you expect! Call them, too. Talk to your neighbors and co-workers, especially if they have different views than you do. Ask questions, but be sure to listen to the answers. I heard a great question the other day; are you listening to respond, or are you listening to understand? Think about that. I’m not suggesting you have to accept their way of thinking, but that you try to understand it from their point of view. Share your point of view but don’t push and don’t expect agreement. Just share. Then look for something that you can agree on – maybe something as simple as working together to get all of your neighbors or all of your work members to register to vote! Maybe there’s someone up for election that you both like… or even that you both think is doing a lousy job. Try combining your efforts to effect a change in that one seat!
And pay attention! Read a bit more, listen to a non-partisan news broadcast. DON’T assume everything you read on Face Book is legit! Research! If it doesn’t sound right, or sounds too good to be true, that’s probably the case. Don’t just wish for change, work for change.
Make your efforts count. Insults and name-calling will NOT help your cause. Bullying isn’t funny. Being rude isn’t funny. Take a deep breath and calm down before you respond with anger. If you can make a real, non-offensive joke, it can ease tensions. If that isn’t your thing then just speak honestly.
I will tell you this: In my opinion, the Tea Party is the worst thing that ever happened to our political system. They have fractured it in almost unrepairable ways. They want NO government except for things like telling us what religion to belong to, and getting us to tithe to them. (They need to try living in Yemen for a while. No government there. How’s that working out?) Secondly, the Republican Party as a whole has stopped representing the people. Now that the Supreme Court has decided that corporations are people, the GOP only represents corporations, and then only the ones who put serious money in their pockets. Yes, Democrats take money, too. It takes money to win elections, sadly. But you can look at where people are getting their money and determine where their votes are going to go. If they are getting money from Unions and Police and Firemen, they are usually going to be helping the needy, the middle class and small business. If they get money from big pharma, or the Koch brothers, or Wall Street they are probably going to support corporate wishes over the middle class. Wealth does not trickle down. That’s never worked and never will, so don’t buy it. Tax cuts do not encourage hiring. (It might work if the hiring was done first, in order to get the tax cuts.) Sure, there are good Republicans out there. I know several. Unfortunately, they aren’t running for office. One last thing… the Republicans want to tear down the Affordable Care Act (let it implode) and then start from scratch. Tell me something. If your roof started leaking, would you tear down your house and rebuild from the bottom up? Or would you fix the roof, and the ceilings too if necessary, and consider it a job well-done?
So again, pay attention, ask questions, share and listen. Don’t think that we can’t lose our rights, because we can! Apathy and complacency are two of the surest ways to lose them. Get involved! Work together! And remember:
WE CAN’T JUST WISH FOR CHANGE, WE HAVE TO WORK FOR CHANGE!
DEFINITION OF TERMS USED IN THIS ARTICLE
Democracy: A: a government by the people; especially: ruled of the majority. B: a government in which the supreme power is vested in [given to] the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy
Capitalism: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods [rather than the government] and, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/capitalism
Kleptocracy: government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kleptocracy [Klepto is a prefix taken from the Greek, meaning to steal.]
Opportunist: the art, policy or practice of taking advantage of opportunities or circumstances often with little regard for the principles or consequences. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opportunism
Oligarchy: A. a government by the few. [Usually the wealthiest] B. a government in which a small group exercises control for corrupt and selfish purposes. C. an organization under oligarchic control. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oligarchy
OUR RIGHTS AS AMERICANS; DO THEY STILL HOLD TRUE?
The Declaration of Independence proclaimed separation from the King of England and contained the following statement: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. – July 4, 1776
The Constitution was ratified over a period of years, but implemented in 1789. The Constitution begins with “We the People…” signifying that our government is to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The first three articles addressed the separation of powers, establishing the Executive branch, the Legislative branch and the Judicial branch which includes the Supreme Court.
The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791 and contained the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. Seventeen additional amendments have been added over the last 226 years.
Each amendment is important, but today I want to concentrate on the First amendment. It reads:
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.
This statement addresses two basic elements of our democracy, with the second one being broken into 4 parts:
1. The first element is the freedom of religion. In simple terms, it says that the government shall have no say in accepting or denying any religion, and cannot deny the rights of the people to choose their own religion and means of worship. It also does not declare any religion to be the dominate religion of America. Nor does it require that a citizen must adhere to any religion at all.
2. The second element is the freedom of speech in all its forms. To break this down to the simplest terms, consider a town square, or a large park with a raised platform, tree stump, etc. in it. (No doubt, one could stand on the ground, but then people might not be able to see as well.)
- Any person can climb up on that platform and speak his mind about any number of things. (Freedom of speech)
- People may freely gather around to listen, if they want to, and discuss. (Freedom of peaceable assembly)
- Any reporter may stand there and take notes or even ask questions, of the speaker or of the audience, and may then write or present his findings or interpretation to the public. (Freedom of the press)
- If the speaker, or any of his listeners decide that there is a problem that needs to be addressed, they can go to the government agency in charge of that particular faction and ask for an explanation and/or change of policy. (Freedom to petition the government)
While these rights are guaranteed in our constitution, there are some other rules of law that need to be considered. The following are legal exceptions to the freedoms listed above:
Slander: The utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation. A false and defamatory oral statement about a person. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slander
Defamation: The act of communicating false statements about a person that injure the reputation of that person. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defamation
Libel: A written or oral defamatory or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression. A statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/libel
Notice the key words: false / misrepresentations / unjustly / without just cause. In other words, whatever is being said needs to have some facts to back it up, and cannot be used just to demean another person or entity. This not only holds true for the speaker, but for the press, as well. Libel deals, in particular, with written or published statements that are false.
Ever hear the expression, “give him an inch and he’ll take a mile”? It refers to people who take unreasonable advantage of some privilege, kindness or other allowance bestowed on them. Let’s say you loan someone a dollar. In a day or two, they return, asking to borrow another dollar, and promising to pay back both dollars later. In other words, they are abusing the kindness you showed them. Sometimes, that’s how people are with ‘rights’ as well. Just because we have a right to do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. And even though the constitution gives us the right of free speech, it doesn’t mean a person has the right to say things that will incite a riot or a violent or destructive act.
In today’s world, we have all manner of speech and press. We have bill boards, murals, banners, signs, bumper stickers, newspapers, radio, television, the Internet, mail and even our phones. Some expressions of free speech are hanging on to that definition by a thread… things like sculptures, paintings, sketches, tattoos, and even clothing. Jokes are even considered freedom of speech. There has always been, and probably will always be, arguments over where freedom of speech or expression leaves off and becomes indecency. Indecency is described as morally offensive, especially in a sexual way; also, morally wrong and evil. An extreme example; exposing one’s genitals randomly to the public is not freedom of expression.
Cursing, insulting, degrading, and name-calling are not necessarily against the law, however, in some circumstances they can be. In any event, they will never resolve any issues at all, and only tend to inflame the situation. Verbal bullying usually includes one or more l of those behaviors. With young people, cyber-bullying has driven more than one student to commit suicide. Young people are often insecure, not sure where they fit. Bullying drives them into despair and depression. There have been conversations on how to control this kind of thing without infringing on everyone’s right to free speech. So far, no solution has been reached.
The arguments about freedoms are not particularly partisan arguments, but more a general disagreement about degrees. One group may feel that freedom of speech is being abused when speakers are invited to a closed event, such as a graduation, and that speaker talks against the very ideals and values the school advocates. This happened in May at Notre Dame. But other people at that event felt the speaker should be heard, precisely because of freedom of speech rights. Another situation might be during a protest. Most people agree that protesting is part of the democratic process and signs and messages shouldn’t be censored. But the degree of incendiary shouts and slogans becomes a problem. As in most large groups, a small percentage of participants will usually get carried away and step beyond the proverbial line. Sometimes it’s verbal, where frustrations boil over and words become hate-filled or racially charged. Is there a place where the right to free speech should not include the right to ridicule and belittle others? Or should freedom of speech extend into dangerous behaviors like setting bonfires, or throwing objects at each other? If I say, “we must fight for this cause!” does that mean to literally fight, with fists or weapons? Should a crush of protestors charge into a school or business, disregarding the safety of people inside? For that matter, should protesting be our first method of resistance or complaint?
On one hand, we don’t want to over-regulate, as each situation differs from the next. We shouldn’t ban all protests because one protest became a riot. But on the other hand, we also can’t condone riots and looting, property damage and vandalism. Where do we draw the line between the rights of freedom and the human rights of safety for property and self? I would love to hear the thoughts, ideas, or concerns of my readers on this!
The last concern I want to address is freedom of religion. This is a tough topic, because many of us look at religion as a moral standard. There are groups and cults who claim religion, but are not about religion in the accepted definition. A religion is a cultural belief system that is intended to lead its followers in a defined lifestyle, and generally adheres to some form of worship for some form of God. It is possible to be religious without belonging to a religion – that is, to have a belief in a Superior Being and follow the tenents of Biblical law, such as the 10 commandments or the golden rule.
As in most things in life, there are degrees of religious belief and behavior. The range is wide, from non-believers (atheists) to skeptics (agnostics), from devout to zealots. And there are around 5,000 religions (or more accurately, religious sects) to choose from, world-wide. Currently, many Americans want to identify as a Christian nation. But the truth is, there are a variety of Christian denominations, and they don’t always see eye to eye, either. Overall, the United States has approximately 50 active religions. A recent ABC poll found that 13% of Americans claim no religion. 83% claim Christianity, including Catholics, Protestants (of whom, 19% are non-affiliated with a particular denomination), Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. 4% stated other, including Judaism, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhism. However, this is an ever-changing dynamic. For more than 200 years we’ve been able to live together on this continent and accept each other. Each era brought some bias regarding one religion or another, but for the most part, we’ve adapted.
The current concern is about Muslims or the religion of Islam. This has arisen from the fear of terrorism and the attack on America in 2001 from terrorists claiming to embrace “radical Islam.” However, terrorism is not a religious tenent. We have had so-called Christian wars as well, but they, too, had little or nothing to do with religion. Wars are about money, property, greed and power. Our constitution gives complete freedom of religion. That includes Muslims. The worry over “Sharia Law”, which is taught in the Qu’ran, is much like laws in our Christian Bible from the Old Testament, where it says “an eye for an eye”, and that it is okay to kill your neighbor if he looks at your wife. You were also supposed to take your wife to a priest if she was pregnant and you suspected she had cheated on you. He would have her drink poison, and if it killed her and her baby, it was determined that she had indeed cheated. If, however, she and the baby survived, it indicated that she had remained faithful. The point here is that Sharia law is only a part of the Islamic teachings, and many Muslims no longer follow Sharia law to a point of killings or physical harm. If they do, they are subject to the laws of our government in the same way as you would be if someone poked your eye out and you went back and poked his eye out for revenge. Certainly, the individual states are struggling with how to set up laws that are fair to Americans while allowing as much religious freedom as possible. In the future, it may become necessary to make a federal law, or even an amendment to the constitution to address Sharia law while adhering to our constitutional right to freedom of religion. It is important to note that terrorism of any kind, for any reason, is not tolerated in the United States of America.
ARE POLITICANS TODAY IN TOUCH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
The question: Do our current leaders and candidates for either political party understand the lifestyles and needs of the citizens of America today?
Keep in mind the old saying: You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time – John Lydgate (poet)
First, there are the party line voters who will only vote for their party-of-choice candidates. With Republicans, this is because their party represents their values regarding a number of things, but primarily concerns over limited taxation, smaller, less restrictive government, religious/family values, second amendment (gun) rights, and anti-abortion stances. With Democrats, it’s because they value individual rights and freedoms, progressive actions to aid those less fortunate, climate and ecological concerns, and separation of church and state. Most of the people in the party line voting groups see no acceptable alternative path to the protection of their values and beliefs than the offerings of their party. Unless the candidates check the boxes of these talking points, party liners rarely consider anyone else.
This article is about the other voters who will look at the candidates and decide how to vote on an individual basis. I don’t want to single out Donald Trump here. These descriptions also fit supporters of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, etc. I start with Mr. Trump because he currently bears the title of President.
Here’s the deal with Donald Trump. He’s not in touch with the American people; he’s in touch with a segment of the American people… or possibly two segments. Let me make this clear: Everyone who supported Donald Trump is not bad, evil, racist, unschooled, or otherwise lacking in character. . Although Mr. Trump had no political experience whatsoever, his promises excited the people most hurt by the Recession and slow recovery because he promised JOBS and a WALL to keep the immigrants out.
Unfortunately, he’s in touch with the bigots, haters, white supremacists and conspiracy theorists because he recognizes them and plays to them. That doesn’t necessarily mean he adheres to their beliefs, or that he’s being honest with them. He tells them what they want to hear because they are the easiest groups to rally. They will generally get behind anyone who appears to support their cause(s). Most of the people in this culture group have been raised since babies to believe the things they stand for today. You’re not likely to be able to change their minds; they must look for someone who agrees with (or appears to agree with) what they see as the ultimate truth.
There’s a second group that are not necessarily biased or hateful, but are more susceptible to a type of conditioning, or brainwashing. They have legitimate gripes with the system as it affects them today, and they WANT to believe there is a simple solution, if only someone can come up with it. These are the people with the moral fiber to recognize Mr. Trump’s flaws, but still they excuse him, or ignore what they see because they want something –anything- different, that promises to make their lives better. Not coincidentally, these are often the same people who get caught up in pyramid schemes and fall for phone scams, and in worse cases, get involved with cults. (Remember Jonestown? Over 900 people “drank the kool-aid.”) To understand Mr. Trump’s strategy, you don’t need to take my word for it. You can read his book, ‘The Art of the Deal’. He explains in detail how he works his investors to get what he wants.
Psychiatrists and psychologists say that there are also certain personalities that, once they have reached a conclusion about something, are beyond stubborn. They may think things over and analyze it to the best of their ability, but when they feel they have determined the correct answer, no amount of cajoling or persuasive argument will change their minds, including pictures, video, audio statements, or being present as events unfold. Instead, they make excuses for what they saw/heard. One explanation of this phenomena is called the Dunning-Kruger effect which is discussed in the magazine, Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mind-in-the-machine/201609/the-psychology-behind-donald-trumps-unwavering-support . Basically, the premise is that some people are not able to consciously realize whether they are good at something or not. (In this case, reasoning.) They feel they have done their best, and that justifies whatever conclusion they reach. The next natural step is to conclude that other arguments are wrong.
Bernie Sanders had a grip on a large portion of the democratic voters as well as independents, but he was most beloved by college students and millennials in general. His main pitch was free college for everyone, and reduced payments or forgiven debt for college tuition of graduates. He also espoused single-payer medical insurance for all, and pronounced himself a “social democrat”. (Single payer insurance would be like Medicare – everyone having the same coverage, as it would be financed by a tax like Medicare.) He was in touch with the “flower children” of the 21st century. He was also critical of Wall Street, although his thoughts on that were a bit shaky. He wanted to break up the big banks, deemed “too big to fail” but didn’t really have a plan to do that.
Foreign policy was not his strong suit. Being of Jewish faith, he was current on issues involving Palestine and Israel, but less involved with the rest of the middle-east, or China, or foreign trade with anyone. He promised to pull out of the TPP agreement, but was not alone on that issue, as Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton also agreed to abandon the TPP.
Mr. Sanders ran on the democratic ticket, but has been an independent in his career with the Senate. His passion and sincerity drew large, enthusiastic crowds. He was the opposite of Trump as the other candidate for change. There have been allegations to the effect that the Democratic National Committee undermined his campaign because they preferred Hillary Clinton. Eventually, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the DNC, was forced to resign as a result of emails leaked that showed intent on the part of the DNC to smear Bernie Sanders’ name. In the end, Hillary Clinton won the Democratic Primary with 16.8 million votes to 13.2 million votes for Bernie Sanders. Many people thought Sanders would have beaten Trump, and that debate still goes on today. http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/was-the-democratic-primary-a-close-call-or-a-landslide/
Hillary Clinton had strong support from the establishment democrats. Ironically, this may have been her biggest downfall. A lot of people blamed the establishment for the lack of accomplishments to help the little guy. It was well-known that congress had been largely ineffective for a decade or more. But instead of cleaning house there (pardon the pun), they looked to the presidential candidates for the answer.
She also had two other major hurdles to overcome. For years the Clinton name had been dogged by conspiracy theories. There were questions regarding her involvement with the Whitewater scandal, involving real estate and banking dealings with the Clintons back in the 1990s. The Clintons were never prosecuted, but others were. Some felt that justice was never served. Then there were those who went further than insinuating the Clintons may have paid off people to “take the fall.” Getting away with murder became a literal accusation as unfounded conspiracy theories erupted that people who crossed the Clintons wound up dead. Other theories through the years would constitute a full article by themselves. Suffice to say, the Clinton Haters worked overtime. She was also investigated 9 times regarding the horrible terrorist attack against the U.S. staff in Benghazi. Nothing was ever found that indicated Secretary of State Clinton was at fault. Then there was the “email scandal.” This is where she had a private email server installed at her residence that she used to conduct state department business on. Actually, when she installed it, there was no regulation not to do so. Her intent was to avoid hacks into the government servers by foreign countries, which were already happening. The investigation into that was ongoing throughout her whole campaign, with no prosecutable evidence found.
Her other big problem was her inability to connect with the average citizen. Hillary labored for children’s causes, but couldn’t seem to attract the college-aged crowds or the working poor. Her demeanor was more business-like, and constituents didn’t warm to her easily. She tried town halls and meetings with some success, but the media only followed a few, and then latched onto the blustery Trump, so the impact of her attempts to reach out to everyday people got lost in the race for television ratings. The middle class felt abandoned, and struggled with the dilemma, Trump vs. Clinton. Neither seemed satisfactory to them, and many either opted for third parties, or ended up not voting at all. Although they may have liked President Obama, and Clinton promised to carry on his legacy, they didn’t trust her to do that.
Third party candidates did not have a clear enough message, or strong enough platforms to sway many voters. For the most part, their voter turnouts were in the single digits, but taking away from the other candidates.
All candidates had to address the need for more jobs. The subject swirled around the ideas that trade was the cause of job losses, or that immigrants had stolen all the jobs, or that large companies have moved their bases of production to countries like Thailand, China, Mexico, Indonesia and India because the labor there is much cheaper.
No one can argue that last fact. There is, however, a humanitarian aspect to consider. A few companies have berated the low pay and long hours, not to mention lack of child labor laws in foreign countries, as being inhumane and have refused to go in that direction.
It remains to be seen how much the immigration policies affect jobs. A few years ago, when there was a crack-down on migrant workers in the south, farmers ended up losing large amounts of their crops because with the workers carted off, no one else would do the hard work of harvesting the fruits and vegetables, and other commodities (cotton, tobacco, and so on) raised by the farmers. This will be retested now, as the deportation of immigrants has ramped up again, under Trump.
Trade is a much trickier issue: It reaches into the category of economics, and there are arguments galore, on the benefits of tariffs, taxes, penalties and so forth that come up when trade is discussed. This is one of the most contentious topics our politicians have to face. Something that looks good on paper may not work in practice. Our trading partners throughout the world are invaluable in many ways, including sales we make to them, as well as jobs provided in the United States when they do manufacturing here.
It’s important to note here that the president does not control any of these factors. He or she may negotiate deals with foreign countries, but those deals still have to be approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate. The president cannot pass laws on his own. He can only make certain changes, via Executive Orders, to existing laws. The president can have some influence over the congress, and can present bills for review that may then be considered adopted, but he alone cannot make a new law or repeal an existing law. THIS is where the voters generally go wrong. When they are unhappy with jobs, the economy, civil rights, or any number of things, they should be listening to their Senators’ and Representatives’ positions. Voters should ask questions – lots of questions!
More often than not, it is these members of congress who are not in touch with ordinary Americans. Some of them are not even forthright with the information they give their constituents. But even the ones who are honestly trying to give fair representation frequently have a skewed vision regarding the lives of the people they represent. They live a different lifestyle, and run in different circles. They aren’t out and about in the neighborhoods of the average working man or woman and their families. They make enough money that they don’t have to worry about getting good child-care while they work. If they are unfortunate enough to have someone in their family with a chronic condition such as asthma or diabetes, they have good insurance, paid for in large part by our tax dollars. They live in nice neighborhoods that don’t have high crime rates, and their children go to the best school districts, or to private schools. None of these things, in themselves, are bad. The problem comes as our representatives forget that we don’t all live like that. We can’t all live like that. Most middle-class and lower working-class people are teachers, nurses, technicians, truck drivers, construction workers, store clerks, waiters or waitresses, sales reps, or run a small business.
The national average wage in the United States in 2015 was $48,098.63. https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/AWI.html That amounts to $924.97 a week, before taxes. Taxes vary a great deal, especially state taxes, but a fair average for the middle class is currently at around 20%, so that means their take-home averages around $740 a week. That works out to around $3206 a month. Sounds okay, right? Well, let’s use round conservative numbers and see: $1400 rent or mortgage, $700 health insurance, $500 utilities, and that leaves $600 for:
- clothes and shoes
- medical co-pays
- medical expenses not covered by insurance (glasses, braces, etc.)
- car payments/repairs
- car insurance and tags
- renters/homeowner’s insurance
- child care
- school supplies
- birthday and holiday gifts
We haven’t even touched upon household repairs, like a new hot water heater, or roof repair or a broken window. What if you need to hire an attorney for some reason, or make an emergency trip because of an illness or death in the family? And vacation – forget that! Savings – not likely! Hopefully no one in the family gets a terrible disease requiring medication in the thousands of dollars.
Now, consider that since we used an average, some people make more and are better off, but the majority make less and are worse off. We say that because to get an average, you also factor in the wealthy. If you factored out the wealthy, the national average would drop significantly. The costs wouldn’t drop. Just the wages.
This is what our representatives in Washington don’t see. Even our state legislatures don’t always see it. How can we get their attention? By not being complacent. Make our voices heard at town halls, write letters to the editor of our newspapers, write our reps and senators, and most of all – vote them out if they don’t do their jobs!
Invite candidates to a mixed venue of voters with liberal and conservative needs. See if they can find compromise. Social media is also a good outlet as long as we remember to fact-check the articles we read, and do not post anything that is doubtful or known to be incorrect. That just does more harm because people learn not to trust us.
I think the answer to the original question is “No, our current leaders and candidates for either political party do not understand the lifestyles and needs of the citizens of America today.”
What do you think?
WE NEED FULL CREDIT GOVERNMENT CLASSES IN HIGH SCHOOL
As adults, we don’t know how to fit political information into our schedules. If we haven’t gained political education before we graduate, we aren’t likely to for several more years. We glance at the news to catch the weather, or a sports score, but seldom do we sit down to watch the entire broadcast. Even worse, we spend less time listening to our political figures when they speak at a State of the State, or State of the Union Address, for instance. Even people who say they get their news online often read only the headline and a paragraph or two. Practically speaking, we elect our leaders and our representatives based on a picture, a few sentences we’ve randomly heard them speak, and a well-written biographical paragraph by a paid marketer. Some voters watch for the political ads and decide by what they see there, not realizing that these are nothing but mini-commercials by marketing strategists, selling you their product. Rarely do we think to look up an incumbent’s voting record or find out what their previous jobs were and what their business reputation was. The truth is, unless we take courses in college related to the political arena, most of us know very little about our government and how it operates. Once we leave high school, our lives become a whole new world of responsibilities with a job, and/or college classes. Many marry and begin families which brings in a whole new dimension of responsibility. We now have bills to pay, and of course we want a social life. We need a car, or a place to live… and on and on. High school prepares us for this new world with information that helps us make good choices, but does it prepare us to improve our lives and our worlds through the power of the vote?
Just about everyone knows who the president of the country is, even if they didn’t vote. However, it’s surprising how many don’t even know who the vice president is, let alone who their senators and congressional representatives are. Even locally, 20-somethings to 40-somethings often don’t know who is representing them in their state legislature, or who the governor is, or the mayor of their own city, let alone their council members. This is somewhat understandable, given that many families have both parents working, or are single-parent households. With children, there are doctor appointments, babysitters to schedule, laundry, meals, constant housecleaning, and general bill-paying. Then comes school registrations, parent-teacher meetings, sports, holiday shows, birthday parties and other parent-child activities… all while working a full-time job and trying to have some family time. Whew!
So the last year or two of high school (before all that starts) is the best time to teach some life skills that can lead to a better future for the student as he/she becomes an adult. First, we need to acknowledge that History is not the same as Civics, and a class in Government is completely different than either one.
HISTORY is mostly about the names of Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Tribal Chiefs, Sheiks, Dictators and a few famous U. S. patriots and the dates of their birth, death, and times in power. It also focuses on wars and specific battles throughout the years.
CIVICS class is centered around the rights of citizens, mainly in the United States, and sometimes broken down to the state level. The Constitution is usually a part of this curriculum. Some voter information is usually included. It is an important course but it doesn’t teach much about how the government functions.
GOVERNMENT class is the study of how governments run, particularly in the United States. Besides learning about pacts and treaties and how they come to be, this course takes into account how the three branches of our federal government work (and the checks and balances this provides), and describes how policies and laws are made. Ideally, there is some overlap between government class and civics class, but one does not take the place of the other.
Today, civics classes are required as early as 7th grade. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember a single class I had when I was 12. Boys were discovering girls, and girls were discovering that boys were noticing them. Sports were being introduced on a competitive level. I remember that elective classes were added to the curriculum, and most of us chose something that seemed like fun; possibly shop or home economics (back in those days), or music, art, or typing.
The civics classes in school today are usually half-credit classes, paired with some kind of local government class. While this is better than nothing, the message is sent that the workings of government really aren’t very important to the average citizen. The amount of time allotted doesn’t allow for the setting up of a mock government and studying the variety of issues our three main branches face. How can we expect our next generation to be inspired to become involved if they don’t even know how it works? How can they know how to vote if they don’t even know that senators and representatives can write and submit bills, but both the house and the senate must approve them and the president must sign them before they become law? (Yes, the president has a veto power which allows him to keep a bill from becoming law, but the veto can be overwritten if it goes back to congress and passes both the senate and house of representatives by 2/3 majority in each.) Instead, we believe a president can actually change the law at will, without understanding that he can only do that with the help of congress. In fact, most presidential candidates don’t even know the full extent of their limitations until they begin receiving briefings. (Many people also confuse Executive Orders with Laws. Executive Orders can only pertain to laws that are currently in existence.)
And then of course, any new laws (or orders) have to be legal. That is, laws cannot be made that go against the Constitution. Our judicial system is set up to prevent that from happening. There are legal ways to circumvent that, such as adding a constitutional amendment – something that is very difficult and requires a great deal of work in order to reach an agreement which will win the necessary backing of the individual states. First a proposal must be developed and must pass both branches of congress by 2/3 majority of each branch. Then the bill must be sent to the states where their legislatures must agree, by simple majority, to the amendment. Three quarters of all states must approve of the amendment. The president cannot veto any step of this process. ***For more on amendments, see the end of this article.
Did you know all this? More importantly, did you know all this the first dozen or so times that you voted?
Shouldn’t our future voters and leaders know that federal judges are appointed for life – not only the Supreme Court? Shouldn’t our newest voters understand that there is a hierarchy to the court system?
Shouldn’t our schools teach that even the executive branch of the government must meet the standards of the Constitution, and that our congress and judicial systems may be called on to determine if any new law or regulation is constitutional? Wouldn’t all this stick in their minds more, the closer they got to voting age?
Isn’t it up to us to talk to our state legislators, boards of education, and our school districts to try to encourage more involvement for our students so they can go into the world armed with the best information they can get? Wouldn’t we have a better world if the youngest adults were as informed as we’ve become after raising our families and then finally finding the time to actually learn about the amazing way our forefathers set up our democracy?
While researching data, I found that most requirement information is only current through 2013, so some states may have modified their requirements in either direction during the last 4 years. At this website, I noticed some states had actually dropped government from their requirements. Reference for graduation requirements Info: http://ecs.force.com/mbdata/mbprofall?Rep=HS01
According to the referenced website, only 4 states and the District of Columbia show a full credit required for U.S. Government – Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, and Nevada.
Fifteen others show Government at a full credit, but mixed with other subjects such as history or civics.
Nine states show no Government requirement at all – Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The other 22 states require only ½ credit, sometimes mixed in with other subjects such as local government or history, and of these, some offer the classes as early as 7th grade.
In early 2017, several states reviewed and have changed, or are considering changing requirements for graduation. You can look up your local Board of Education to find requirements and other graduation information. If you would like to see the next generation graduate as a better informed and more aware group of young adults, you can begin with your local school board. Let them know what you want!
**** A final consideration might be to require that all students pass a citizenship test prior to graduation. Why do we expect new U.S. citizens to know more about how our government works than the young people that have gone to school here their entire lives?
There are currently many petitions and proposals circulating for a 28th amendment. A few are:
- Citizens United (campaign funding)
- Time limits on congressional and senate votes for appointed positions such as the Supreme Court.
- Social Security and healthcare as a right.
- Term limits for members of the House and Senate.
- More recently, limitations and requirements pertaining directly to the president, such as release of tax forms, medical records, and divestiture of business conflicts are being discussed.
CREATIVE CREATION of JOBS
The other evening I happened to run into a cousin of mine as I was cruising through some memes on Face Book. The meme we connected on questioned how the current congress is so willing to follow Christian beliefs by banning abortion and even birth control, but wants to eliminate help with healthcare for pregnant women or pediatric care for their children. The question; where is the help for the poor and needy, as the Christian bible promotes.
That is not what this article is about. But that topic sparked a good conversation and we found ourselves looking at a pretty interesting blend of left and right thinking.
Obviously, we have some social problems in the United States, and both liberals and conservatives recognize them. We have too many people on unemployment, on welfare, and receiving other services because they can’t find work, or work that pays enough to live on. We have recently come through a pretty steep recession, and there are some people who still haven’t been able to reestablish themselves in the work force. But we are too ready to lump everyone in the same category… if you are receiving assistance, you must be lazy, scamming the system, or addicted to something. Somehow, reducing the assistance programs and Medicaid – which is the medical safety net for lower income citizens – will force these people to go out and get jobs? Pretend you are somehow cast into one of these following situations.
Here are just a few reasons people are homeless, and/or can’t get jobs.
- To rent an apartment, you need a reference from your last residence. If your home was foreclosed on, you won’t have a reference. You must pass a credit check. You must also have a job, or provable income.
- To get a job, you must have a residence and a phone. Living in a car, or even a camper is not considered a residence. Neither is crashing on your friends’ couches… and P.O. Boxes won’t cut it. Many jobs also require a decent credit score. (Contrary to current belief, some people don’t have phones, either.)
- Some people have health problems that prevent them from working. These can swing from debilitating diseases like Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, Heart Failure… to things that require money or insurance to fix, such as bad teeth, body odor issues not related to cleanliness, poor eyesight, loss of hearing, back injuries, etc.
- Other problems that hinder finding jobs include transportation (buses don’t run everywhere), child care needs, lack of proper attire, and, of course, experience or education. The restaurant looking for a cook isn’t interested in how good of a mechanic you are. Even having a great resume can be a hindrance if you’re looking beneath your experience level. Call centers won’t hire you if you used to manage a call center, unless they’re looking for a manager, because they assume you will leave as soon as you get something better. (Probably true, but you see the problem.)
So let’s assume you get some assistance, and you solve the above problems for the moment. How do you find a job? Well, on the computer, of course. Oh wait, you don’t have one? Well, there is the library, but you will need an email address to even get a response. If you have a working phone, you can try to use that to check the Boards for help wanted, and you can add that needed email address (some are free). But what if there just aren’t any jobs that you’re qualified to do in your town. In many areas, assistance is available only for a limited time, and you must be looking for work. When the time is up – as little as one year in some places – you just stop getting aid.
This is where my cousin had some good ideas. Jobs could be created for people in these situations, and some of them might even end up helping others in that problem list above. Let me explain. Jobs could be created for people who are desperately seeking work. I’m going to make a list of jobs that almost anyone could do, and that don’t require a lot of training. Many of them are jobs currently being done by volunteers, but if local governments could fund some projects, people could be paid for jobs and climb out of their homelessness and poverty. In the long run, it would be cheaper than welfare and other assistance programs. It could even provide experience for potentially permanent jobs and careers.
- Many retired people own homes but can’t keep up their yards, or can’t afford repairs to keep the home safe and weatherproof. If they could call a community service and ask for yardwork or minor home repairs, someone could be assigned to go do that job and bring back a signed approval when the work was completed – at no cost to the elderly.
- This same service could send hospital helpers out to read to patients, to help feed them, and to work in volunteer positions in the hospital – giving directions, looking up patient rooms, connecting incoming calls, shuttling visitors to and from their cars, and the like – at no cost to the hospital.
- Those who are handy in the trades could be “hired” to build Tiny Homes. Old mobile home parks could be converted into places for the Tiny Homes. (See example pictures below. This is NOT a promotional article. ) People working in the program but not having a home could apply to rent one of these living spaces at a discounted rate, and now they have an address! These homes would remain the property of the city/parish/county, etc., and could possibly be a tax write-off for the agency.
- Child care centers could be set up near business districts and staffed by parents who have their own children to care for, but who could easily help care for others, too, until they finished a GED program, or a college class, or found an opening for their preferred type of work, or retired people needing to add a bit of additional income to their budget could help feed and rock infants, and prepare lunches for the little ones – at no cost to the working parents.
- Even minor street and sidewalk repairs or park maintenance could be done in smaller communities that don’t have regular maintenance contracts.
- Workers could repair school playground equipment, fix or build desks, and keep the school grounds clean.
- Shelters and soup kitchens often utilize volunteers, but this is also work that job-seekers could do to earn enough money to buy a phone, get a used car, and purchase some new shoes and clothing.
Of course, for most of these jobs, a background check would be needed. Tools might have to be provided, and if the job involved a team, transportation might be required. Sometimes, a person might need special insurance, if they had to drive, for instance. In the scheme of things, though, the developmental benefits received by everyone would far outweigh the costs incurred in setting up and running such a community service. Another huge benefit; it has been proven that job-seekers will be hired sooner if they are already working.
Meanwhile, some of the work could count towards new glasses, or a hearing aid, or dental work…things to help people present well for interviews. These needs might have to be provided prior to working, but could be placed on a “balance forward” jobs projection.
Of course, standard assistance programs will continue for those physically unable to work, such as the elderly and the very ill or injured. But some retired people, and even some who are sick or disabled might be able to do some work from home, such as computer data entry, or web design, or maybe just selling things on E-Bay for others in the work program.
Finally, how do we finance and maintain such a program? Well, we could make it a component of the assistance program that everyone who is healthy enough must either be attending classes for a GED, or must work a certain amount of hours per week unless going on verifiable job interviews. Instead of “collecting” welfare checks, they would receive their check for working – not to be lower than the normal welfare check after taxes. (Pay could go higher for additional hours, or supervisory work, but no lower.) In other words, the budgeted monies for welfare would be used as incentive. This work could be put on a resume, and would be eligible for a tax return for their reported income. Besides gaining income and experience, they gain pride in their work and a sense of worth that they will never attain by getting a welfare check.
Does this solve every problem? Of course not. What is does it provide a starting point for helping people learn to help themselves. For instance, if someone dropped out of school, getting a GED is going to be a minimal requirement, and should be part of this program. Also, there would have to be a minimum amount of hours worked per week… perhaps 30? Minimum wage would not apply, as this would be a temporary program designed to motivate welfare-dependent families to get back on track. This is not designed to be a full-time permanent job, but rather a way to get off assistance programs and develop skills that might lead to a new way of thinking, and even a new vocation. Do you think your local city council or mayor might be interested in something like this? What about your county supervisors?
Let’s hear your thoughts!
More information on tiny homes:
POLITICS and OUR RELATIONSHIPS
Let me ask one question: Have you ever met someone – at work, at a party, or by some other connection and found you were really enjoying this new person? Maybe they had a sense of humor that you appreciated. Maybe they were well-versed on a subject that interested you. Possibly you had common interests such as sports, cars, music, movies, hobbies, etc. Or you may have just seen them doing something kind for someone else and it touched your heart. So it looks like you have a new, friendly relationship and then WHAM! Politics! Did they just say they liked Obama, Clinton, Sanders…or Trump, Rubio, Cruz…? It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. Suddenly, you see them in a different light… not your kind of person at all! Hmmm, what a shame. I wonder how it is that all those positives things you saw a few minutes earlier no long have any value.
Sadly, this is how things seem to go these days. Politics has always been a tricky subject, often avoided in order to keep the peace. But this year in particular, it’s not only influencing first opinions, and snap judgements about others in general, but it’s breaking up long-standing friendships and even families in some cases.
I’m not going to discuss the parties, or the issues, or any particular politician. Instead, I think we need to take a look at what our values are, and why we let our political leanings influence the rest of our lives, especially our relationships.
First, let’s look at the basic definitions for the following categories we like to use to label ourselves.
Believing that government should be active in supporting social or political change; not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted. Also: broad-minded, not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liberal Sometimes referred to as Progressive.
Tending or disposed to maintain existing views; marked by moderation or caution; tending to favor established ideas, conditions or institutions. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conservative Sometimes referred to as Traditionalist.
I have to include Centrist, as you will see, because Centrists overlap Liberals and Conservatives. Remember, we’re going to discuss categories, not parties.
A person whose political views are not extreme; a person whose beliefs fall between those of liberals and conservatives. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/centrist Sometimes referred to as Moderate.
There are a number of other categories, such as Libertarian, Green, Constitutional, and Independent, as well as combinations of all of these, and several other limited groups often linked with religious organizations. For the sake of this conversation, I’ll stick to the three I’ve defined, as they represent the majority of citizens in the United States. (However, the number of Independents are increasing, politically, and may soon join the parties eligible for debates and primaries.)
It seems in today’s world we are defining our relationships by how they vote, who they support, and what causes they defend. Although this might be a good thing to consider as we look at the overall picture presented by a person, does a certain political view really reflect the substance of anyone? In fact, might we be missing an opportunity to expand our own thoughts and views – or is that what we’re afraid of?
Psychologists tell us that it’s normal to develop opinions, and once formed, it’s common to avoid discussions or information that might rebut what we’ve come to believe. This is not to say we should do this, but only that it’s common. On the contrary, it’s much healthier to consider other opinions on a regular basis. For one thing, situations change. Something that was true at one time might not be true at a later date. Example: For decades it was common knowledge that cars should have oil changes around every 3000 miles. In the last few years however, due to new technology, the current recommendation is somewhere between 5000 and 10,000 miles.
Also, over time, something understood as fact can be invalidated. The best example I can think of to illustrate that point is, for centuries the world was considered to be flat. People assumed that if one sailed to the edge, they would fall off. Magellan set off one day to try to find a route to the East Indies. Although he died in the Philippines, his expedition continued, and the circumnavigation was completed by Juan Sebastian Elcono and 17 other original crew members. We now know the world is round. We also now know that Magellan did not truly discover that the world was round, but his crewman, Elcono, did. And this is another example of how “truth” changes – misinformation. (I was taught in school that Magellan was the first person to sail around the world.)
In the world of politics, many issues change by degrees:
- Common-law marriages are recognized in some states, but not in others. Of those that do, the requirements vary from 3 to 10 years of cohabitation.
- The Federal government still has marijuana on its list of illegal drugs, yet several states now allow medicinal use of marijuana, and some, such as Alaska and Colorado, allow for recreational use as well.
- Twenty-eight states have tried, or use, a 3-strikes program for repeat criminals, beginning in 1952 (Texas). In the 1990s, other states joined in, as well as the Federal government. https://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-1032-sentencing-enhancement-three-strikes-law
The third strike mandates a much longer sentence, up to and including life. Many of these laws have since been modified to allow courts some latitude for circumstances, and do not include traffic tickets or other misdemeanors, while juveniles are generally exempt. Most states now use the law mainly for violent criminals. Some people find this cruel and unusual punishment, but others think habitual criminals need to be permanently locked up. By varying degrees, the statistics show some programs are more successful than others, with the most current findings showing that these programs work best when combined with education and counseling.
These are just a very few examples of political issues that have degrees of use, and supply plenty of fodder for debate.
This chart shows the overlap seen in a wide variety of topics that often arise in political discussions. There is a trend to be found, based on polling questions derived from a variety of news articles and exit polls from before the November 8th election until the inauguration on January 20, 2017.
Blue = Liberal Purple = Centrist Red = Conservative
You can see where the issues overlap to some degree. In other words, there are some conservatives who believe in reasonable gun control, with some liberals embracing the pro-life position, etc.
Centrists do not necessarily agree on all these topics, but generally there is a generous amount of carry-over from both sides with centrists/moderates. Remember, we aren’t talking about politicians, just about us; the general population.
The point here is to look at how things often overlap and flow into groups considered “the other side.” There is a blending, if you will, of thoughts, ideas and feelings towards these and many other issues. This is how democracy is intended to work. The majority is supposed to rule, and this is what we vote for when we elect our representatives. Tempers flare, (and rightfully so) when we see that our representation is lacking. As new information comes to light, representatives need to take stock of what their constituents really want.
We can help by writing, emailing, or calling the offices of our Senators and House Representatives. We can even contact our state legislature to enlist their help. We can be clear and concise, stating what we oppose and what we support. It’s recommended to leave a name and zip code. What we need to avoid is yelling, name calling and general rudeness. In a town hall setting, chanting may show enthusiasm, but will rarely have the effect you want. If you must do a chant, keep it clean and short. (“Do your job” was rather inspiring last week.)
So back to friends, family…and also consider the people online that we interact with, too. Maybe on Face Book, or maybe in a comments section after an article, whatever the occasion, make your point, but remember that ALL CAPS is considered yelling. Name-calling is juvenile, and insulting someone will never, ever be helpful. When referring to “Obumer” or “Drumf” (Trump’s actual ancestral name, but used as a slur) it comes across as childish, and is completely inappropriate. Remember too, rarely is one side ever 100% correct. It’s never a bad idea to verify information, whether you’re receiving it or passing it on. With your family or friends, refrain from derogatory remarks such as, “Man, how can you be so stupid?” or “I thought you were smarter than that.” And keep to the subject… never let a political discussion deteriorate into an all out rant about each other’s flaws.
Think about it this way; if you are arguing with your spouse or your friend, or your co-worker and they call you a name, are you likely to consider what they’re saying? I know I’m not. A friend of mine once mentioned that he’d had a spat with his wife. I asked what happened and he said, “I don’t even remember what the argument was about. I just remember that she called me a bastard and it really stung.”
Don’t let anger and frustration control an exchange of ideas. Try remembering things you really do like about this person, and change the subject if there is no true exchange of information or thoughtful opinion, or if negative speech creeps in. The best discussion you can have is between two or more people with differing ideas who are all willing to consider the other points of view. Most of all remember, our thoughts or beliefs may not overlap in all areas, but if given a chance, they will almost always overlap in some area, and to some degree!
Other information regarding the 3-strikes laws was found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-strikes_law