Friday, June 24, 2011

Americans' Disgraceful Lack of Civics and Historical Knowledge

A few days back a friend of mine forwarded this civics/history test that was conducted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. The original test was administered to 2,508 Americans in 2008. The results were dismal. The overall average test score was a pathetic 49% correct. College Educators (professors & teachers and NOT just those with college degrees) only scored marginally better at 55%; still a failing grade. Indeed, over 70% of participants failed. Only 3.4% of participants received an “A” or “B” grade on the exam. I guess our education system really does need to grade on a curve to keep too many folks from appearing to be ignorant.

What really irked me, but actually did not surprise me greatly, was the fact that amongst those taking the exam were a statistically relevant portion of the population that had held or were holding elected office. Their average score was significantly worse than that of even the average American.

Those of you faithful readers of this blog will likely recall that in the past I have repeatedly decried the current abysmal state of our civics general knowledge, let alone that of our nation’s history.
It is because of this general lack of knowledge regarding how our representative republic was set up and is supposed to work, as well as the historical context and brilliance of our founding fathers in doing so, that leads folks today to vote for candidates that cannot even seemingly spell “Constitution” let alone have an idea as to the contents therein. The ultimate result of all of this disgraceful lack of knowledge regarding how our government is supposed to function is that we end up with a President who was supposedly a constitutional scholar and yet champions unconstitutional legislation and fails to abide by the dictates of that inspired document.

It is my opinion that every person running for elected office should have to pass an in-depth test of this sort prior to being seated. The only way to hold our elected officials accountable though is for us citizens to also know how the system is supposed to work and the history of our nation, as well as having a reasonable knowledge of current events. Those that do not know their history are doomed to repeat it, or so the saying goes.

This test is comprised of 33 questions and does not require too much time to take it. My own score was 100%. Granted, I am a civics/history/current events geek, but one would hope that a majority of our fellow Americans would at least be familiar enough with the government and the country's history under which they live that they could at least PASS this test.

Take the test yourself and see if you fair better than that of your typical fellow American!

H/T: Carrie. Thanks!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Tribute to My Dad

Today is Father’s Day.  For some reason I woke up today in a contemplative mood with just a slight touch of the melancholy.  You see, my father turned 83 twelve days ago, or at least he would have if he were he still alive.  As it is, he passed away when I was twelve due to a long and very arduous battle with cancer.  He was a young fifty years old when he died, despite the age that the horrible disease had visited upon his body in the waning years of his short life.

I occasionally stop and wonder what my life would have been like; indeed, what kind of man would I have become had my father lived and been there to guide me as I entered those teenage years and onward to today. 

My father had been married before meeting and marrying my mother.  He had a beautiful daughter, my half-sister, with his first wife.  Due to silly and needless family issues, I had not seen my wonderful sister since Dad’s funeral in 1978, that is until a few years ago when I decided to find her and have her be a part of my life once again.  While she has filled so many holes missing in my heart and soul, she has also recounted stories of which I was not aware about my Dad from when she was growing up.  My sister is obviously a few years older than I am and was grown and married when Dad passed.  

I had grown up thinking that Dad was a strong and honorable man.  It seems that he was not always of such sterling character when my sister was growing up with her Mom and our Dad.  I found this exceptionally hard to take initially, and was sorry and heartbroken for my sister and her less-than-ideal childhood, especially when compared to mine.  I wondered how could this man whom I loved and revered, who always had such a strong sense of right and wrong and demanded that my brother and I grow and act accordingly as young boys, could have lived such a very different life such as my sister described in her life.

It occurred to me that Dad had changed, for reasons I may never really know, into the father he became for me.  I do not know what moment or epiphany came to him, or if it was a gradual process over the course of years, but Dad was indeed the best father I could ever hope for as a boy.  He was strict, but also kind and loving.  He had tough standards and expected much out of everyone.  He was absolutely a man’s man, as was common for men of his generation.  He instilled in me a sense of honor and indeed was the one who insisted we go to church and learn of God, our heavenly Father, and what He would have us be.

Over the past years, I sorely wished that Dad was there so we could go on fishing trips, like he often took with my uncles and granddad.  I wish he could have taught me to golf.  (Dad was a scratch golfer and had two holes-in-one in his life; I assure you the talent is NOT hereditary.)  I wish I could have talked to Dad when I had questions about women, and my first girlfriend.  I wish Dad was around to be that strong hand that was needed as my little brother began to stray.  I wish he could have been there when I got married and when we had our baby girl.  I wish so many things, but then again, I look back and I am so grateful to God for the time I did have with my father.

You see, in spite of the man he may once have been, in my life he was exactly the man I needed him to be.  He was that role model that every boy absolutely needs.   He laid the foundation for my own sense of right and wrong, of fairness, of hard work.  He showed me how a real man should act and love.  He loved me, and I miss him so.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Never-ending Hypocrisy of Nancy Pelosi

The consummate politician (and I mean that in the worst possible context of the phrase), former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat down with Bob Schieffer on CBS’s Sunday talk show, Face the Nation,  a week and a half ago and once again proved that she and her Democratic colleagues should be held to a different standard than those that the "evil" Republicans are.  See the video for the particular moment that illustrates this "fact" so precisely.  Following is part of the transcript of that discussion:

Bob Schieffer:  You were talking in kind of a different way when unemployment went to 5% under George Bush.  What you said then,  ‘Americans are struggling with skyrocketing energy prices’ (gas was only $3/gallon then) and you said this morning… this is January 4th 2008, ‘This morning’s jobs report confirms what most Americans already knew- President Bush’s economic policies have failed our country’s middle class.’

Aren’t Republicans entitled to say you know, if you got gas was 3 dollars and unemployment was 5% and the president has failed the American people, don’t they have a right to say that this president has failed the American people?

Nancy Pelosi: Well if you want to go into the past, we can talk about the past all you want.  The public wants to know about the future.  What are you going to do to create jobs- good paying jobs-

Bob Schieffer: Well what are you going to do?

Nancy Pelosi: Well as I said, what the president has done has improved the situation from where it may have been.

Bob Schieffer: But the fact is that the congress has been in session since January and has done basically nothing.

Nancy Pelosi: Well you  can talk to Mr. Boehner about that.

Bob Schieffer:  So it’s all the their fault?  It’s not your fault?

So let me get this straight, Ms. Pelosi- 5% unemployment and $3/gallon gas under Bush equals a failed economic policy; however, 9.1% unemployment and $4/gallon gas under Obama equals "he kept it from being even worse" and "nobody cares about the past"?  In that amazingly audacious exchange in a long career of such hypocritical moments of yours, that one really is near the top of the heap.
One wonders what happened to the “fact” spouted by President Obama that his egregious and asinine spending was critically necessary in order to hold down unemployment below 8%.  I think America would today breathe a sigh of relief if the actual REAL unemployment rate were only 8%.  As for keeping energy prices low, Obama’s executive order to halt offshore drilling in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has only served to further increase our dependence on foreign sources of energy.

Ms. Pelosi is quick to claim that they inherited a huge deficit from Bush, and indeed they did; however, Obama and Pelosi’s Democratically-controlled 111th congress have since added another $1.6 TRILLION to that deficit, while doing absolutely nothing to cut spending or create sustainable jobs anywhere in the country.  Indeed the signature piece of legislation passed by Pelosi and Reid along strictly partisan lines and then signed into unconstitutional law by President Obama has been estimated by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to actually kill 800,000 jobs in the course of the coming years.  The fact that the law further doesn’t reduce health care costs, despite all of the Democratic rhetoric and promises that it would to the contrary, only further exacerbates the problem.

Once again, it would seem that being a Democratic elected official means that one can expect to be held to a different standard than that of their colleagues across the political aisle.  It means that only the vile and dastardly Republicans should be held to account for their statements and their actions.  Sorry Ms. Pelosi, but you are selling make-believe, and we don't buy that here.

Note: the section of the video for the transcript above is at 2:42 into it.  The entire video is good though in showing the dissembling, deception, and hypocrisy of the former Speaker of the House.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Sides with Governor Walker and the Taxpayers

Yesterday the Wisconsin Supreme Court handed down a 4 to 3 decision in favor of Governor Scott Walker’s law restricting public union rights and upheld that the law was indeed legal under Wisconsin state law and therefore could go into effect.   The ruling overturned Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi’s decision and stated that she had overstepped her authority when she said that Republican lawmakers had violated the state’s open meeting statutes in the process of passing the law, and she had consequently declared the controversial law void.

The polarizing law effectively eliminates most of the public employee unions’ collective bargaining rights and requires them to contribute slightly more for their health care and pensions instead of having nearly all of it paid through tax payer dollars. 

When Governor Walker introduced the bill last February, huge public protests ensued and the Democratic legislators in the Wisconsin Senate left the state in order to avoid having a quorum for the vote on which their side did not have enough numbers to prevent passage thereof.  I still find it absolutely amazing to think that the democratic process could be hijacked and that partisans could pick up their bat and ball and run home because they saw a bill they didn’t like coming down the pike and knew they didn’t have the votes in congress to thwart its passage.  Evidently, the union supporters in Wisconsin were fine with this tactic and indeed cheered these “brave” Democrat Senators as heroes.  One wonders if these folks would have been upset at this illegal tactic had the Republicans in the U.S.  congress acted similarly to prevent a quorum for the vote in March of 2010 for the pernicious and un-Constitutional Obamacare Act.  I suspect they would have cried “fascism” and other such epithets in that situation.  Regardless, the protests from public union supporters in Wisconsin numbered in the tens of thousands and went on for weeks. 

The passage of the law was necessary according to Governor Walker and the majority in the Wisconsin congress because of a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.  The Democrats in Wisconsin saw this as a specific attack on public employee unions and thus acted as they did in order to protect and curry favor with the vital pro-union voting block that makes up a significant percentage of their power base.  The Democrats’ childish attempts to prevent a vote on the law were thwarted though when Republicans cleverly retaliated by forming a special committee that removed certain fiscal elements from the bill that consequently allowed a vote on the measure despite having fewer senators present.  Governor Walker then signed the bill into law two days later in order to save the taxpayers in the state of Wisconsin millions of dollars accordingly.

The consequent fury and outrage from many on the left has been truly astounding in it ferocity accordingly.  Their claims that governor Walker was intentionally trying to bust public employee unions were common, despite the governor’s statement to the contrary.  Frankly, I am of the opinion that private sector unions have a valid place and particularly in many decades past were vital to improving workers rights in our country; however, the need for public unions is not necessary.  By definition, public union employees are paid their salaries from the coffers filled by the tax-payers.  You and me, in other words.  With that being the case, public unions should indeed be busted and made illegal, in my opinion.

It used to be that most federal and state public employee jobs were sought after because of the security of those jobs and the typically good benefits.  The salary offered, however, was typically not anywhere near as good as it was for their counterparts in the private sector.  This made sense and was a good arrangement as the burden of the benefits and salaries only added to the operational expenses of the local or state jurisdiction and thus increased the taxes that had to be paid by the citizens therein accordingly.  With all of the worker’s rights and worker’s safety protections codified in law, the need for public employee unions really has passed their time of need.  Further, even this new law in Wisconsin still gives public unions the right to collective bargain for their salaries going forward.  These unions simply cannot add to their other costly benefits now, by law.

I am certain that the left will howl in outrage and disgust and that the protests will return with all of their false and hateful rhetoric once again towards Governor Walker, the Wisconsin Senate Republicans, and now the Wisconsin State Supreme Court.  Evidently the need for civility and toning down of the hate speech “from the right” that we were all lectured to ad nauseum after the despicable and evil Jared Loughner shootings in Tucson last January is something of which the left need not abide.  Never mind the fact that there was nothing to tie Loughner to conservatism or “right wing hate speech”. 

Too bad that same standard is not applied to these past and forthcoming leftist protestors.  "We will hunt you down ...slit your throats ...drink your blood. I will have your decapitated head on a pike in the Madison town square." Those are the words of a union militant aimed directly at a Wisconsin state legislator for daring to vote to restrict Big Labor's forced dues control over Wisconsin state workers.  There were literally dozens of similar recorded death threats along with acts of vandalism leveled against Wisconsin state legislators and Governor Walker for not towing the union boss line.  Perhaps even more ominous, the Wisconsin State Journal reported police found "dozens of rounds of live ammunition outside the Capitol" during the height of the Wisconsin protests.

Yep, hate speech, intimidation, thwarting of the democratic process are all viable Saul Alinsky tactics that the left feels justified in using when the desired end result warrants such means.  Too bad the double standard continues, and too bad that we are almost certainly going to see more of this now that this Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in favor of Governor Walker, the majority Republican Senate, and the taxpayers of the great state of Wisconsin has been upheld.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Amazing Christopher and "Friends" Dance to YMCA

This guy is an absolute riot!  He goes by the name of The Amazing Christopher.  There is only one guy (the one in the middle) while the rest are all dummies.  What an ingenious idea!  Enjoy!

Andrew Klavan's One State Solution: Give the Middle East to the Jews

While Andrew Klavan is pointing out the absurdity of the current Middle East peace process by being absurd, he really does make an excellent case for his "one state Israel solution".

Friday, June 3, 2011

Obama and Admiral Mullen to Find Cuts in Spending Via Military Pay

I read an article at today that has absolutely infuriated me.  It seems that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking officer in the military, Admiral Mike Mullen  was quoted as saying yesterday that members of the armed forces will very likely see cuts in pay and benefits over the next twelve years as the military tries to come up with $400 billion in cuts to meet President Obama’s proposed budget spending cuts that are expected to largely come from the Department of Defense.

Admiral Mullen told reporters yesterday that expenses must be trimmed and that, “"Two of the big places the money is, is in pay and benefits, and so when I say all things are on the table, all things are on the table.”

Despite the fact that our Commander in Chief seemingly has at best an apathetic attitude towards our military, and at worst an outright disdain for them, I would hope that he would see the necessity of providing for and taking care of those heroic folks that have sacrificed so much in their lives by volunteering to serve and protect our nation in the military.  It is not like such men and women are getting rich from their government paychecks they receive for military service.  Further, these folks are sometimes put in harm’s way or support those good folks that are.  They damned well earn every cent they receive and every few benefit they are afforded.  They have truly earned these already pitifully inadequate paychecks and benefits.

Our President wouldn’t dream of making cuts to the welfare rolls and social safety net, despite the fraud and abuse that is rampant throughout the system there.  No, these folks are all reliable Democratic constituents by a large margin.  Never mind that there are many folks not working that could be doing so that receive any variety of tax payer funded benefits.  Cutting out the waste and fraud in this venue is taboo and strictly off the table to President Obama and the Democrats evidently.

On the other hand, since the military has traditionally been far more conservative in its voting predilections, cuts made there won’t come back to haunt President Obama and the Democrats as badly in the long run.  Never mind that we have THREE wars going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya that is severely straining our military as it is.  Far be it to fund one of the few items that the federal government is actually CONSTITUTIONALLY mandated to fund. 

Indeed, I am certain there is some waste and unnecessary things that can be cut in the Department of Defense, but it strikes me as a slap in the face to those very folks protecting us to now tell them that their meager pay and benefits will be cut.  Why don’t we start with cutting all civilian government employees’ pay first?  Why don’t we cut pay and benefits for each and every one in the Executive Branch, including the president, and everyone in the legislative branch?  If one wants to further save money from cuts to the DoD, why don’t we start by stopping the asinine social engineering the left has championed and the millions upon millions of dollars that will have to be spent to accommodate folks in our new gay-friendly military?

The military is there to protect and defend America and its freedoms and to ensure that its interests that make those freedoms possible in the world are never put in jeopardy.  It is an insult of the highest caliber to deny those sacrificing to do so with even less than what they already are given in exchange for a honorable life of service.  President Obama and Admiral Mullen should be ashamed of themselves accordingly!

Defund the Palestinian Authority Until Hamas is No Longer a Partner

The Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party signed a “unity” agreement with Hamas on May 4th of this year in Cairo in order to share governing power of the Palestinian territories with this terrorist group.  And make no mistake, Hamas is an unapologetic terrorist organization as recognized by the United States and the European Union.  The very charter of the Hamas organization calls for the complete destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews wherever they might be found.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton summed up longstanding United States policy when she stated in 2009 that, "We will not deal with nor in any way fund a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless and until Hamas has renounced violence, recognized Israel and agreed to follow previous obligations of the Palestinian authority."

Despite this unambiguous and principled stand, the United States is continuing its funding of the Palestinian Authority and its terrorist-partner-in-governing Hamas.  To make matters even worse, President Obama has encouraged Israel to continue to negotiate peace with the Palestinians, beginning with the supposition of a return to the 1967 borders for Israel as a starting point for all negotiations.  This is an egregious abrogation of support of our ally Israel, and places them in an untenable position.  Why would we endanger the very existence of our ally Israel and further abandon our own policy regarding Hamas, as stated by our Secretary of State? 

When this unity agreement was originally signed, President Obama should have immediately come out that day and stated that ALL funding of the Palestinian Authority would cease immediately and indefinitely until such a time that Hamas was no longer a governing partner nor had any operational influence in the governing of the Palestinian people.  By not doing so, and in continuing to fund the Palestinian Authority, we are further undermining our ally Israel and loudly making the pernicious statement to Hamas that terrorism does indeed work.

Now is NOT the time for politics, Mr. President.  Slick talk and ambiguous statements and excuses are not what is needed right now.  To continue to ignore this terroristic partnership is to further erode the chance for a real and true Middle East peace and to further encourage and empower the terrorists who have never wanted peace with Israel.

The excellent organization named Christians United for Israel has created a petition asking President Obama to support our ally Israel and remove U.S. funding from the Palestinian Authority until Hamas is no longer a partner with them.  I would encourage you to please click here now to demand that President Obama immediately isolate Hamas by adding your name to this petition.  Violence and terrorism cannot ever be rewarded.

Rush on Free Medical School for Primary Care Doctors

Well once again, Mr. Limbaugh makes an excellent observation.  It seems that even the Obama administration acknowledges that there will likely be around a 40,000 shortfall of needed primary care doctors by the year 2020.  One of the main reasons for this shortfall, they claim, is due to the exorbitant $150K in costs that it takes to complete medical school.  Their solution to this is to provide $2.5 Billion dollars a YEAR to provide free medical school tuition to those aspiring doctors that want to become primary care doctors.  If a doctor wants to specialize in a field, and thus make more money, then of course his tuition fees will not be waived and paid for by the tax-payers.

I find all of this particularly interesting in light of the fact that we were told that Obamacare would fix these problems.  Further, we were told that the conservatives were "lying" about all of the disincentives that were being created in the legislation that would cause many current doctors to thus leave their practices and discourage future potential doctors from ever entering the medical profession.  Evidently, the "lie" was actually the truth all along.

We won't even get into the fact that this shortage of primary care doctors when taken in conjunction with the 30 million more people now being covered by health insurance will create much longer waiting lines, higher costs, and rationing just by looking at the simple supply and demand economics equation of it all.  One adds more patients and has less doctors to treat those patients, then the inevitable results are poorer access and rationing of available doctors and services to all.  Wonderful job there, President Obama!  Thanks!

So now the solution to this shortfall of doctors, that the progressives' own un-Constitutional legislation has created, is to spend even more tax payer dollars in order to solve the problem.  I guess there is no issue that cannot be solved by big government and YOUR money, at least to the liberal mind's way of thinking, and may reality be damned!