Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Greatest Danger We Face

In the Parade magazine within the Arizona Republic, July 25, 1993, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Daniel J. Boorstin, wrote an article "The Greatest Danger We Face". He warns of a menace to our society--the emphasis on what separates us rather than on what brings us together.
Mr. Boorstin, was the Librarian of Congress, the highest intellectual honor the U.S. Government can bestow, he was the editor of the 30-volume "Chicago History of American Civilization, his trilogy "The Americans" (The Colonial Experience, The National Experience and the Democratic Experience. Two hugely successful "The Discoverers" and " The Creators."
Yes, I agree this article is dated, however, what he says in 1993 has become prophetic in 2009.
Mr. Boorstin says: "I am wary of the emphasis on power rather than on a sense of community."
"The separate groups in our country are concerned about their power--whether it be black power or white power, the power of any particular group."
"I think the notion of a hyphenated American is un-American. I believe there are only AMERICANS. Polish-Americans, Italian-Americans or Africian-Americans are an emphasis that is not fertile."
We can see that in today's society. Minorities are vying for political positioning so they can have an edge--an edge on whatever they desire. If you read Mexifornia, by Victor Hanson, you will find that Americans of Mexican heritage are very well organized in an effort to move into the USA without any intention of assimulating into the American culture. Their goal is to retain sovereignty over the entire Mexican Cession that took place after the Mexican-American war. That would include such notable states as California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, just to name a few. The invasion of Mexican nationals into America has bankrupted California once it may happen again in a few months. Working with the Federal Government, who says that a hospital may not turn away anyone, plus the U.S. Constitution granting citizenship to anyone who has been born on American soil, the invading Mexican population uses up the tax payer money, that they have not paid into, to have the child on American soil, thus the child has American status, and must have an accompanying parent to watch out for the rights of the child. Once here, they receive welfare benefits, again, not paying into it. This quickly drains the state budget.
The last school I taught at had a 60+% of Mexican immigrants. When asked why they do this, the response was "because we can, your government isn't making us go back, so why not?
What about one of the Viet Namese tribes that helped American in the mountains. They did not have any written language, nor any technical skills. A church group in Maine decided to foster one family to their small town of approximately 2500. The first family was very happy to leave VietNam and come to the USA. Asian families tend to have many generations within one household, so year after year that one family grew to approximately 500 people. The Federal government mandates that the local school board has to provide interpreters for anyone not speaking English. This school board had to hire someone to come in and write out their verbal language, then make a curriculum based on that as well as have it taught in their langage. It bankrupted the school district. Then to add insult to injury, one of their number was elected to the school board and demanded more curriculum for these immigrants.
I agree with Mr. Boorstin. Assimulation into the community is the key. He says, "There has been so much emphasis recently on the diversity of our peoples..I think it's time that we reaffirmed the fact that what has built our country is community and that community is not dependent on government. It's dependent on the willingness of people to build together."
Today, with the election of Barack Obama, with the rise of multi-cultural /racial relationships
with a trust that is growing amongst old adversaries America is reaching down into it's soul to come up with a new America. All groups are being treated more fairly than ever before, that doesn't mean there still isn't a ways to go, but we are striving in the right direction.
I further agree with him about the hyphenated American. Blacks are called African-Americans, which was a phrase coined by Jesse Jackson back in the day because he didn't like the term Blacks. A more politically correct term would be Americans with African heritage, Italians, would be Americans of Italian heritage, etc. By doing this, the community comes first, which is what he is saying in the above quotes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

That's why we are the trouble we are in

Yesterday President Obama, realizing there was uneasiness with Republican Representatives over the stimulus package. So, The President of the United States, head of the Executive Branch came to the House of Representatives for a sit down conversation with the Republicans in the House. I made mention in my last blog how neat an idea I thought that was!
Well, today's vote, which passed with 188 nay votes, ALL THE REPUBLICAN Representatives and 11 Democrats voting against the measure. So much for attempting to work together. It shows the collusion within the GOP that has kept the legislative branch at checkmate for the past eight years, except for what they want to pass. In this particular case, President Obama already had the votes, he just wanted a BIPARTISAN vote indicating a joint effort to get the country back on its feet. Instead it shows the real inside of the Republican soul. They want everything for them, nothing for the rest of the country. Well, they better take a second look at this position, the people have already spoken about what they think of what the Republican party has already done to the country, President Obama was trying to allow them to be "Man" enough to dig in and help.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama really means what he says

This week, President Obama means what he says. Calling a meeting of Republicans in the House and in Senate with him proves he wants to have his programs on a bi-partisan basis. The Republicans were given something special, a face to face with the President, the head of the Executive Branch, seeking their input on his proposed legislation to help American climb out of the hole we are in. I would venture to say that this will not be the last time this occurs. What a great idea.

Being an educated citizen shows your character

Character, what you are made of. Doing what you know to be right, even though no one is watching. An educated citizen must have strong character. The rules, regulations, obligations, responsibilities within a nation must be intrinsic to a person. When you are driving the streets, your knowledge of and following of the traffic rules shows your character. Your traffic record shows a person whether or not you follow rules. Multiple DWI's shows that you cannot hold your alcohol and you put everyone else on the street at risk. How many defenseless people are killed on the highway because of DWI drivers? Sweden, the beginning of the designated driver era, has such strict DWI laws that no one wants to be arrested for that crime. In our country, people can have multiple DWI's and still drive on the streets. The government is responsible for any deaths these multiple DWI drivers commit. Remember, driving is a privledge not a right, it can be taken away at any time. They are coming up with items for DWI people, such as breathelyzers before the key will work in the car. Ask any DWI person how they like having to pay for such a device and using it for 6 months. It is your obligation as a citizen to stop people that you know have drank too much from driving home. Drive them home, get them a cab, have a designated driver--or have a party where there is no alcohol served. When a drunk gets behiind the wheel of a car he becomes all of our problems.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Burning desire

Today, I want to discuss something that is a must in all people. I speak of a burning desire to do something. A burning desire drives you towards an objective you seek. As an example; When I was in high school, I as a pretty fair baseball player. I never worried about becoming a good ballplayer, because I had a burning desire to acheive that goal. That desire drove me towards that goal. It helped me with decisions--if I was to acheive that goal, I needed to take more batting practice, take more fielding practice, play more games against good competition, that burning desire kept me going. The same with college, I new I was going to acheive a college degree, a new burning desire allowed me to acheive good grades. I never waivered from my goal of acheiving a college degree, and did.
American's need that burning desire to help America be strong. Our citizens need to take the responsibility on their shoulders to accomplish the things citizens are expected to do to such as, being an informed citizen about the various news items, political items, bills being written, voicing your opinion to your representatives in government be it local, state or federal. Taking an active role in rallies, letterwriting, knocking on doors, letting others know how you feel.
Barack Obama's election is a perfect example. The electorate (those registered to vote) became upset at the previous administration for their actions. They made sure others of like feelings were registered and voted. They acheived their desired goal. Their burning desire was the leading element towards winning. Yes, it takes work, citizenship is a work in progress.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Immigration song 1920's

I just had a friend of mine e-mail me a You Tube video-song, with words flashed upon the screen. It seems immigration has had it's problems for a long period of time.
This is a video and song about immigration that was very popular around the late 1920's and early 30's. Remember, this song is from another era when politically correct was not present and prejudice was accepted. The website for this video is:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Civics ed, learning experiences, practice goverance, for adults and new citizens

I have been a part of the educational system, teaching government and U.S.History. Most school systems wait until students are in their junior and senior years for these courses.
I looked through Ms O'Connor's website: Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools -Educating for Democracy. It appears that most of what is there is for students on their way to becoming adults. What I have found in my teaching experience is that students do not really take what they receive in the courses to heart. They are too busy with hormones, testing for college, graduation state testing, working, whatever. Most of the time they do not read the assignments and understand them.
What this blog is about, is the adult population that is out in the world, making a living, raising a family, trying to fit a little of the American Dream into their lives. Voting, elections, candidates, democratic principles, what are these things? The adult population needs to have "renewal" classes, new citizens need more than the naturalization test. They need coursework during the time they must be here to achieve naturalization and beyond.
In The Civic Mission of Schools report, it identifies six promising approaches to civic learning.
(Remember, these are directed towards students)
1. Formal instruction in government, history, law and democracy
2. Guided discussion of current local, national, and international issues and events.
3. Active learning experiences where students perform community service and/or service/learning.
4. Co-Curricular activities to foster engagement with schools and communities.
5. Student participation in school governance.
6. Student participation in simulations of democratic processes.

Why can't we apply these items, if in fact these can apply to the after-school and new citizen crowd, to the existing electorate? This would enhance the electorate in participation in the democratic process. But, does the government/political scene really want the electorate to be better informed/educated?
1. Governmental people know the ins and outs of the governmental process, for the most part unless people have been involved, they do not know correct procedures, when they can speak, where they can speak, etc. These little things stop most people. For instance, people attending a City Council meeting may be upset about a certain item, however, because they did not know that could not do more than request that they be put on the next meeting's agenda about the item, because the rules say the council people can only listen to what new items can say, but they can not speak, or act upon anything not already on the agenda. So these people that were upset and came to the meeting, may not come to the next meeting in any strength, because they aren't going to give anymore time to the item.
2. Elections. Parties control elections. Example: say a bond election comes up for citizen passage so a school can receive more funds to meet demand. The side that wants the election to succeed finds out how many people voted in the last bond election, that is their target number:
a)have their side get absentee ballots. One for each member and have each member give out 5 absentee ballots to people of like thinking. An absentee ballot will be sent to those people. What an easy way to vote, at home! The target number from the last bond election is usually low,,say 10% of the registered voters. The group ensures victory for their bond election in two ways.
b) they get the names and addresses of the registered voters who voted in the last election and they send their literature to ONLY them. They save money in a small mailing, and a more direct mailing to those who voted last time. They will receive a larger percentage from that mailing. At the election eve, there is no surprise that the bond election passed!! If you are not aware of this tactic, shame on you. This group just "burdened" the entire electorate for the new bond money, by using their heads, absentee ballots and voter apathy.
3, Congressmen do not want you to know too much. Watch the movie "Distinguished Gentleman "for a better understanding. Hallow Laws: these laws are like a log laying in the woods for a while. It becomes hollow on the inside, yet stable looking on the outside. Let's say that people live near a river. Upriver from them is a plant that is polluting the water that goes down stream. These downriver people find that many of their population are dying from the pollution. They become very angry, gather together fighting for their rights. They call their Congressman, he is very courteous and understanding. He tells them that he will get right on it. The downriver people are excited that they have their Congressman working for them. In fact the Congressman calls the manager of the plant, who's parent company has spent many dollars in the Congressman's campaign funding. They discuss the issue. The plant manager says he will write up a bill for the Congressman and in fact, does just that. The Congressman swiftly gets the bill passed and signed into law. Wow, the downriver people are elated, they used the system and the system worked for them, and oh, by the way, don't forget to vote for your"helpful" Congressman. Time passes, the downriver people see no depreciation in the number of sick people. They go to the Congressman and ask what is the deal, didn't he pass a bill stopping the plant from polluting. The Congressman comes back saying the upriver plant was exempted from the law. The law said any plant of 50,000 sq ft had to stop polluting, but the plant upriver is only 20,000 square feet, therefore exempt. A HOLLOW LAW, it looks good on the outside, but there is nothing on the inside.
The Congressman quelled the crowd by listening to them, therefore they broke apart and awaited action. When action was received, they THOUGHT their wishes had been put into action by the Congressman, however, because the Congressman was beholden of the parent company's lobby money into his campaign fund, his loyalty was in fact with the parent company, not his electorate.

Sandra Day O'Connor advocate for civics and community service

In a January 19th Arizona Republic editorial, Sandra Day O'Connor asks the question: "But what happens after Tuesday, Jan 20th, when we go back about our busy lives?" Her responses brings about how easy it is for citizens to take democracy for granted and stop keeping our democracy healthy by being an active informed citizenry.
Active citizenry takes constant vigilence of their representatives, economic policies, foreign policies and community issues. The ability to think critically and enter into dialogue on the issues that you may have different perspectives.
O'Connor desires our students to take the next step beyond understanding civics; to actually exercise the responsibilities of citizenship. Examples would be: helping your neighbor, building your community, or making a contribution to the life of your country that leaves it a better place for future generations. Examples would be Teaching Corps, Job Corps, and Habitat for Humanity.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor served as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and is co-chair of the Campaign for the Civic Misson of Schools. (

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A new President upon us.

Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States January 20, 2009. His election took place because the citizens became involved in the political process and made sure their candidate won the election. Congratulations to everyone. Your views appear to have won the day and the new administration shall try to follow your wishes. Remember, the political process is not an easy road. This new group will attempt to do all that you desire, however, there are still elements of society that do not want what you want. Economic interests, lobbyists, other political parties, various group that are opposed to your wants. President-elect Obama has his hands full, be patient, be helpful with your opinions, your support and let your representatives and senators know what you feel about the issues as they come up. Oh, did I forget to mention, make sure you let them know if you disagree--not just that you disagree, but have a reason for the disagreement and a possible solution. Remember, if you tear down, you must help rebuild.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Handy reference guides to educating citizenry

Becoming an educated citizen requires knowledge of the political system you are working within.
The democratic-republic we have in America is guided by written documents. Everyone thinks our English heritage gave us the idea of a written document for governing, but alas, the English do not have a written document similar to ours. We made our written documents because the English did not have any! The guidance for the government needs to be written down, for people to read, reference, use and understand. We are fortunate to have The Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and The Federalist Papers. Of course there are many more, however a knowledge of these documents is essential for an educated citizenry. The first two of these documents can be found in a concise 160 page book by Dave Kluge The People's Guide to The United States Constitution, my copy is a 1994 edition, I am sure there is a newer copy. I like the book because it is at the normal citizen's level.
"Nearly anyone can read this easy-to-understand annotated version of America's founding
documents. Every difficult word or phrase is followed by a simple definition; every complex concept or clause is fully explained."(Inside leaf description of book) The third document The Federalist Papers is a handy reference to understanding what was in the mind-sets of the Founding Father's as they wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The Papers were written to encourage ratification of the new United States Constitution to replace the existing Articles of Confederation. "They appeared in New York newspapers between the end of the Constitutional Convention in September, 1787 and New York's vote to ratify the Constitution the following spring."(The Federalist Papers introduction) There is a very well-done edition of these Papers . It's title is: The Federalist Papers In Modern Language Indexed for Today's Political Issues Edited by Mary E. Webster. "Ms Webster has broken up long sentences and long paragraphs (numbering the original paragraphs), substituted words more commonly used today, titled each Paper and subtitled each original paragraph. The titles and subtitles create an outline of the Papers."( Editor's Preface.)
These reference books help citizens learn who, what, why and where, these documents came from and explanations for their existence. Getting involved in America is a right most other nations do not have. We have everything in writing, so we can always reference it and everyone is on the same plate!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What does it take to become an educated citizen?

An educated citizen follows the happenings of the day. If that means listening to the radio, example, NPR, CNN, Rush Limbaugh, whatever fits for you, but you need to try and listen to:1) the issue involved; 2) both sides of the solution or discussion 3)try to fit your answer into your frame of reference. What you are familiar with in earlier decisions. 4) Does the proposed solution need support? Then, you need to search out that support, from whatever side of the issue--try to keep an open mind--make up your decision that you can comfortably support. Are you able to explain the issue and explain your solution to someone who is opposition and win your "argument". Remember, the other person has his reasons for his decision. Listen with an open mind, see if it alters your decision, if it does, make an alteration, if not stick to your opinion.
If you watch TV, watch at least one national and one local tv station, so you can keep up with national and local events, at least enough to discuss them until you have gathered enough evidence to make a reasoned decision.
Read newspapers. National, like USA TODAY, or CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, or National newspapers like THE L.A.TIMES, OR NEW YORK TIMES, OR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. Follow Online newspapers, national or local. Follow Blogs.
Remember: before you decide which source you read/watch/listen to, you need to establish that source's bias.
On the whole, most media generate liberal views--keeping an open mind is part of liberal viewpoints, however, many media sources are conservative in their presentation. For example: CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR is generally considered the most neutral of the newspers, Fox News is conservative, USA TODAY is generally neutral, the WALL STREET JOURNAL is somewhat unbiased, however with conservative leanings. Rush Limbaugh is conservative, Larry Elder is a libertarian, Hillary Clinton is a liberal.
Your "frame of reference", or what you have accepted into your brain over your lifetime, will help direct you to accept or reject people's viewpoints.
You need to make decisions on such active issues as: Abortion, racial issues, affirmative action, civil rights, immigration, taxes, etc. You will hear a term: Polorization. Usually a polorized position is one in which there is no middle ground. Abortion is an example. You are either for or against abortion. You can't be a little bit pregnant. You either believe that the woman has the right to abort her fetus, or the state needs to step in and deny her the right to abort the fetus. Of course, there are more to these issues, but you need to study the issue and make a decision. If a candidate supports abortion on demand, and you are against it, will that make your decision against that candidate, just because of that one issue? Watching MEET THE PRESS, LARRY KING LIVE, other talk shows that discuss the pressing issues, helps you see both sides and make up your mind.
As you can see; all of this takes time---but remember, a democratic republic gives it's citizens the right to help make decisions. An autocracy, or a one ruler government does not. The ruler makes the decisions for the people and they have to live with that decision. Do you want to allow someone to make these heavy decisions without your imput and discussion? Comment?