Civil Responsibility 2016

I pointed to the classroom’s lesson hook on the board, I turned to my 8th graders and repeated the question, “Who has the power to do things in the United States?” I quickly had to add, “LEGALLY do things!

Over the years of teaching Social Studies, there is one answer I consistently get: “THE PRESIDENT!” I remain silent for as long as necessary. Why? For a number of fine reasons, comic relief is one, but mostly to gauge how extensive the class will need to cover U.S. government, and indirectly Texas state government, for the upcoming week or two. However, there is another reason I like to ask the class this hook question. Inevitably parental teaching and influence will surface between the lines of their responses, especially if I allow the students some time and freedom to challenge each other’s answer and explanation. Those opening minutes are not too unlike adult conversations over political issues you catch at town squares or workplace break rooms. Every four years these conversations, sometimes volatile debates, can be exactly the same as those my 8th graders start. 😮

Don Huffines - TX Senator

Senator Huffines reply to me about the absurd injustice of Texas businesses refusing service to any of the LGBT community on religious grounds

If all of you received a quality education in primary school through secondary school and graduated obtaining your diploma, perhaps in the upper half of your senior class or better, or had the fortune to attend four years of undergraduate studies obtaining a bachelor’s degree, then it is reasonable to assume that you know that our U.S. President does NOT have all the power to do things. There is a very good reason… it prevents one person, or one office, organization, branch, from gaining a greedy and/or abusive advantage; in a word: dictatorship. Yet, surprisingly (or not) a significant population of American adults under the age of 50 feel the U.S. President is the sole person responsible for good times and bad times. At the risk of stating the obvious, this political mentality is tragic, let alone harmful for a community’s, a state’s, or a nation’s future.

Critical thinking skills are sometimes (often?) NOT taught to our young children, adolescents, or undergraduates. This is partly due to how much freedom people and institutions are indeed given, e.g. the above image and response letter from Don Huffines, my Texas Senator, regarding the rights of business owners to refuse all services to gays-lesbians-transgendered whomever they choose. Another reason critical thinking skills are not taught or tested in primary and secondary schools is that until recently Common Core Standards in education did not exist 10-20 years ago. Thus, a generation of un-ingenious or unimaginative followers were raised. Today, 43 states have fortunately adopted Common Core Standards teaching critical thinking skills to young minds. But that is only in public education. It does not reflect the ever-increasing popularity in some states for charter or private schools, much less the home-schooling sector.

Following is a good 3-minute video about these skills and how ProCon.org promotes them in non-partisan fashion.

As I alluded to in my previous post, I have very little time at the moment to write in-depth 3,000 – 7,000 word posts on such MONUMENTAL subjects as voting and other civil responsibilities during campaign years, primaries, elections — and elections of public officers who APPOINT other officers or judges into positions of great power the general population will have no direct say in their placing — and how these officials will affect millions of citizens for years to follow. Knowing how your candidate might “appoint” other officials, collaborate with other officials, or remain consistent to their campaign positions and promises are just as crucial as your here-n-gone single vote for him or her! I feel this is a subject, a blog-post that is important enough to pause my hectic life for a few hours and share in a small way how paramount civil responsibility is to each of us… including your own children’s and grandchildren’s futures and how to make changes, improvements, even though they may be slow and gradual.

Therefore, if you would like to get a broad introduction into how to be a more informed wiser voter, I’ll recommend my post Oversimplification 2012 and its 4-part series as a starting point. However, if you’d prefer the abbreviated more shallow introduction — i.e. the version(s) many American voters prefer or only have time for — then continue reading. If you barely had time to read this far, then I beg you to try and at least watch completely the below video. It could cause you to reconsider your voting and political tendencies regarding our privileged, important, and free (or costly?) civil right to vote that each of us are gifted. Voting, and voting wisely, as well as freely, should never be ignored or taken lightly.

So many political issues and controversy are rooted in economics; its healthy or unhealthy status. This is partly why I chose Joseph Stiglitz’s video and commentary over his new book, The Great Divide. Also because he is a Nobel Prize winner in Economics and has loads of wisdom to impart!

I hope this very brief post has helped you and other voters to be a bit more informed, but informed in more objective broader ways. Please get or remain very involved in your community’s, your county’s, your municipal’s, your state’s, and your federal elections. Correspond with your elected officials frequently. Vote and vote wisely, and just as important, vote for a greater good for the greatest number!

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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26 thoughts on “Civil Responsibility 2016

  1. It’s why I like having a Queen. Power is held aside, which leaves the politicians to behave like school children given a little too much room to maneuver, but always knowledgeable that the teacher can whack sense into the matter if needed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • In certain cases I like having a Queen…Bee around as well with lots of “sense whacking” going on. I tell you John, it sure keeps people on their toes and more in-line! 😀

      Thank you Sir for stopping by. Apologies again for my blogosphere absence. Hopefully I will soon return to my regularly scheduled programming, catching up with your blog and others I follow. I noticed some juicy topics on your’s!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Hear, hear!
    I’d love to be a fly on your classroom wall.
    I’ve gotten several similar form letters from Huffines and the rest. I can’t even express how angry it makes me. I’m your constituent, I shouldn’t get a pre-written paragraph every damn time. Agree with them or disagree, once they’re in, it’s like we’re all white noise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • (raises his glass with Madalyn)
      Hear, hear!

      It is frustrating indeed when you are in the minority Madalyn. We both know that well don’t we? :/ Getting organized and very well funded are the first two ways to make our legislators listen. Once you’ve got their ear then it usually requires unbelievable amounts of persistence & patience to see change & progress through to the end. When one is dealing with several generations of unexamined principles, or traditional lifestyles as you might call it, it’s like trying to dig up & eradicate mesquite trees/bushes, if you follow the Texas analogy. It never seems to end. LOL

      Many people don’t like (hate?) change; at least, that’s the personality-types I usually confront on political-social issues.

      Like

  3. “Sincerely held religious beliefs” is going to backfire big time. Bills and shills that allow businesses and communities to rip apart the fabric of America should be seen for what they are: discriminatory, anti-social, and deeply un-American. That is my sincerely held religious belief.

    Great post, Professor.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You know Victoria, that is exactly where my logic took me as well. After reading Senator Huffines’ reply, I said to myself “Self, that’s a two-way street with NO WINNERS, NO SURVIVORS!” If all “sincerely” believing fanatics acted on those law-abiding extremes, the economy would collapse or at least trend stagnate. Example, I will NOT do business with you because your cowboy hat and belt-buckle are too friggin’ LARGE and indicates a Napoleon Syndrome or worse, a penile-complex! 😛

      As Joseph Stiglitz advocates in his video and last several books, the socio-economic approach must return to promoting, growing, and SHARING the prosperity — not austerity! — TOGETHER! A nation will fail, like the Romans did so, if society becomes increasingly “ego-elite” and segregated! That’s exactly what Senator Huffines is indirectly supporting! DANGER WILL ROBINSON! DANGER! 😮

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Spot on, Professor!! I can imagine the debates you hear in your class. Depending upon the “intensity” behind the beliefs, you will know which parents have such discussions in front of their kiddos. Also, I have to share an experience with respect to the “power” of the President.

    My intelligent daughter recently graduated with her Masters from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs (a graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin). Two years ago, when she first told me that she was accepted into the program and was going into politics, I kidded her: So fantastic! My daughter will be the first woman President!! She looked at me and shook her head: I don’t want to be President! The President doesn’t have any real power – I want to be a Lobbyist. AH!! Touché! She was so very right: no real power.

    As for the rest of your – as always – insightful and educational post – Thank you. Many of us get caught up in the busy-ness of life and take in what we hear as fact or accept what we hear as the source and act (erroneously?) on it simply because we don’t want to take the time to educate ourselves on the issue at hand. I do try to educate myself, but the food for thought you’ve given me here convinces me that I do not do enough.

    Keep it coming, Professor. I always look forward to reading your blogs!
    ~Dana

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    • Dana,

      HAH! Your wise daughter certainly has an excellent understanding of modern U.S. government, particularly the President’s often “Wizard of Oz” position. 😉 Hefty paychecks are certainly earned in corporate lobbying. The real impactful business of legislation takes place on Capitol Hill, unless of course you are Dick Cheney given carte blanche to bend, twist, even obliterate ethical political protocols in the wake of 9/11, Iraq, National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG), and Arabic POW’s, etc, etc. Cheney would argueably be considered one of America’s most powerful Vice-Presidents, if powerful is the correct term! 😉 LOL

      When I think about candidates in light of my children’s future & eventually (but not too soon!) grandchildren’s future, I get very earnest in researching candidate’s personal & professional history and government track record. This includes my municipal, county, and state; not just federal. In all honesty Dana, that research requires a significant amount of ‘objective’ examination and time. But it’s truly critical!

      Thank you for your continued visits. They are not unnoticed nor unappreciated. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • “Impact” is definitely what Monica is after in her goal to be a lobbyist. And, I am going to tell you something that will surprise you… she isn’t in it for the money. She was a member of Junior Model UN since middle school, and subsequently, Model UN in high school, and all the involvement in college to go on to do a year with Americorps right after graduation. Although politically minded, she is that way so that she can speak for the underdog, the little guy, the ones without a voice. For as young as she is (28), she blows my mind at her drive. She has opportunity to make the “big bucks”, but will not choose that over doing the “right” thing for her conscience. She is quite a rare find these days.

        I am blessed to have raised free-thinking contributors to society in my children. My son is active and vocal. The funny thing is, he and Monica are almost polar opposites in their opinions and their views on what they feel should be the government’s objections. You should be around our house at the holidays. 🙂 I have to make them call a truce because they are both so passionate and have no problem sharing the passion – loudly! 😀 Yes, I am a very proud mother.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Heck. Not my country, so not my issue. 😀 I can actually understand voter apathy when a) there is very little choice and b) we have the FPTP system which offers little incentive to smaller parties or independent candidates.

    And I’m not sure the response from your esteemed senator is any encouragement for engaging with one’s elected officials.

    The number of political appointments in your country horrifies me. Over on Ark’s blog, a few posts back, there was a general Christian post and St Paulie Girl posted about a clerk who refused to dish out marriage licences to same sex couples. Despite the law. Obviously a number have taken legal action against her. She’s refusing to resign her $80 thou job that she isn’t even doing properly, AND she can’t be sacked because she’s elected? What sort of crazy fucked up system elects administrative officials? Well?

    Back in the UK, you must have seen Yes Minister, the whole premise of which was about the civil service running the country and not elected officials. In fact, after being a civil servant and mixing with ministers, both as a civil servant and as a journalist, the civil service would in practice, if not in theory, be a better option.

    I’ll watch your vids later as I’m tight for time this morning with my own impending civic duty, about which, I shall no doubt, write about in the near future.

    Not following your blog indeed. Wouldn’t dare not. Dread to think what the punishment would be …

    Liked by 2 people

      • LOL…oh really? You prefer that previous ‘dark Victorian‘ wallpaper over the calm-green? Imagine that! 😉

        Is this the new countrified you?

        Hah! It is said that if one stays in one place long enough — or too long? — you become (in some ways) more like your surroundings. I think that is why over the brief 60,000 – 120,000 years that mankind has walked upright, we are better suited to move around…hunting, gathering, and pursuing pleasures. Wouldn’t you agree roughseas? 😀

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        • Fitted your steampunky image. And sort of dark, exciting, mysterious. But still, if that isn’t you, then best to find something more tranquil.

          As someone whose rarely stayed anywhere for long, I can’t say. I once got accused of being a parasite at a job interview because I moved every two or three years. So why were they interviewing me? No, I didn’t get it 😀

          Hunting no. Gathering and later growing yes.doesnt leave much time for pleasures. Well, not yours anyway 💋

          Liked by 1 person

    • a clerk who refused to dish out marriage licences to same sex couples. Despite the law. Obviously a number have taken legal action against her. She’s refusing to resign her $80 thou job that she isn’t even doing properly, AND she can’t be sacked because she’s elected? What sort of crazy fucked up system elects administrative officials? Well?

      LOL…yes, I totally understand how that Kentucky woman, Kim Davis, looks to the rest of the intelligent world. One of my trusted sources for good-to-excellent journalism is NPR (National Public Radio) who’s been around for eons and tends to be less biased on political issues than other more popular news agencies/corporations. Here is their latest article on Mrs. Davis and her pseudo-martyrdome:

      http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/02/436893283/heres-what-we-know-about-the-ky-clerk-refusing-gay-marriage-licenses

      I was discussing Mrs. Davis’ behaviour with my Mom — sometimes a very dangerous doing! — and after much labor explaining her individual rights versus the highest law of the land, I concluded to her… “You know, it really REALLY sucks to be in the minority in this country! But that’s democracy (in theory for all you pessimists 😉 )!” And I’ll quote what has been literally screamed at me countless times by hardcore Conservative patriots: ‘If you don’t like it then either get the hell out or go to prison!’ Their battle-cry applies here to Mrs. Davis just as it would to me. 🙂

      The REAL problem is that there is a vast majority in this country that proclaim “God’s authority trumps — no pun intended, please! — our highest court in the land ANYTIME ALL THE TIME!” Yet, the monumental problem with that logic/position is that “God’s authority” is so subjective, SO divergent & contradictory, that those who scream it like Mrs. Davis only look and sound like a percussive cymbal. In education many of us educators call it Attention-Seeking behaviour. 😉

      Not following your blog indeed. Wouldn’t dare not. Dread to think what the punishment would be

      LOL…I think I’d better leave that one alone. 😈

      Liked by 1 person

      • Here is wiki, it’s good enough for my purpose:

        United States of America – The United States does not have an official religion at either the federal or state level. There are some traditional customs such as the use of a Bible when taking oaths in court, or for the President of the United States during the oath of office, but neither of these are required or codified by law. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is written as “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” and is held to be applied to the various U.S. states via the Fourteenth Amendment. Furthermore, Article Six of the United States Constitution prohibits the use of any religious test as qualification for any public office. Nevertheless, the official motto of the United States is “In God we trust”, adopted in 1956. There are some U.S. states with laws that would prevent atheists from holding office, such as Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Texas. However, these laws are void and unenforceable because they are superseded by the Sixth article of the U.S. Constitution, which forbids them.

        Your country is defined as secular. Mine is not. I don’t care if she needs impeaching. Just sack her. She’s breaking the law and not doing her job. Sanctimonious three times divorced bigot who’s been born again. Never mind prohibiting atheists from holding office, what about banning people who think imaginary beings are above the law?

        … shame …

        Liked by 2 people

        • *stands up and APPLAUDES this comment!* Bravo roughseas! Bravo!

          You and Wikipedia could not have summed it up more acutely. You harken back to my previous post The Mistaken Identity of the U.S.! Indeed the U.S. government and its civil servants are to be secular/neutral in action, but they’re free to practice & preach what they desire privately at home or in church. And on that note, Mrs. Davis NEEDS TO BE REMINDED of Canonical gospel teachings:

          No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money [or Caesar].”

          Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s

          Pardon my biblical quoting roughseas; I know it is of no interest to you personally. I use it in order to speak to American Fundies, like Mrs. Kim Davis; I speak fluently their “spiritual” language as you know. 😉

          If Mrs. Davis TRULY wants to serve her own personal “God”, then she needs to take the appropriate action — if it isn’t already way too late! — and resign! Clearly she cannot serve two opposing Masters. 😀

          Liked by 2 people

        • Thank you darling. It seems fairly logical from this end. Incidentally, I didn’t think Kentucky was in the Bible Belt, so the religious creep in your country is insidiously frightening.

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        • Incidentally, I didn’t think Kentucky was in the Bible Belt, so the religious creep in your country is insidiously frightening.

          The term Bible Belt is a loosely used term and no longer reflects the 19th century American Civil War boundaries. Technically, Maryland and Delaware were slave-holding states that did not secede in 1860. Today, those are two of the most non-conservative states in the Union! Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Missouri, to name just four, today would all fall easily into a Bible Belt culture.

          “Insidious” is argueably the right definition. Although Mrs. Davis and her constituents would STRONGLY disagree to that image. In the Fundy circles and churches it would be no surprise if she attains ‘Saint-hood‘ so to speak, and if I can borrow a juxtaposed Catholic label. 😈

          P.S. In Mrs. Davis’ Evangelical-Fundy circles, the proper term would be Apostolic.

          Like

        • Barking. Totally loopy. Off the wall. They need to get a life. Sorry. Not a remotely intellectual comment on your thinking blog, but they are 🙂 I could never understand why people wanted to move to America. I understand it even less now. Well, I suppose property is cheap. Reminds me of a comment my travel companion said when we were in India, ‘life’s cheap in the street’. But with a cheap life comes problems. Not that American life is cheap anyway. Not with your health care system. Study Dutch darling, I say.

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        • I could never understand why people wanted to move to America. I understand it even less now. Well, I suppose property is cheap.

          LOL…assuming you are referencing the mass immigrations to The Land of the Free, well almost free, post-1600’s and 1800’s… it was “cheap” because of genocide to the original landowners 😛 and fairly safe from European imperialism (post 1780’s) by two oceans. Later, once Oklahoma (the Native America state” as they proudly claim) was “filled with unhappy tenants”, it got even MORE profitable to expand, expand, expand! Texas is perhaps, no, it IS the Icon of Free-dom. Here’s a rhetorical question, Did you know that 95% of Texas’ landmass is privately owned? “Private” as in Anglo-American owned. 🙂

          Reminds me of a comment my travel companion said when we were in India, ‘life’s cheap in the street’. But with a cheap life comes problems.

          Your travel companion hasn’t tried to live in/on American streets. Some “problems” are the same as in India or other nations, yes. However, in several U.S. states the homeless can be arrested. Now why churches or church-charities don’t help a lot more with this problem I cannot fathom given what their Holy Scriptures teach. The trending Xian culture in the U.S. and Texas today is Prosperity theology or a Prosperity Gospel, e.g. Joel Osteen and his mega-church and teachings. In other words, ‘God will and does reward (in the millions!) those who walk & talk piously.’ 😮

          Study Dutch darling, I say.

          LOL…indeed! I have not given up hope on that alternative Exodus. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

        • I concur with the Professor here, roughseasinthemed. Great Post. I had not read it before my comment below, but you are spot on – as is the Professor’s subsequent posts to this reply (and your subsequent posts as well). It is frustrating as hell to see this closed-minded person violating her own religious teachings the Professor speaks of:

          “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money [or Caesar].”

          “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s“

          She had decided to choose her god’s side – so she should leave her position. But I like your words better: She should be sacked. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        • Thank you Dana. I appreciate both you and the Professor accepting a comment from a foreigner without spinning off into a fizz. Which does sometimes happen … I’m also sorry I have somewhat sidetracked PT’s post, but as it was about civil duty, it seemed relevant as this elected employee clearly isn’t fulfilling her legal and employment obligations. Ergo …

          Liked by 2 people

        • Your angle/perspective roughseas — an ‘outsider’s‘ viewpoint — is invaluable and quite relevant to the post and subject as you correctly pointed out: civil duty. Big big difference from a personal, pious, theistic duty! By refusing other law-abiding citizens THEIR right to exercise love & commitment for each other, which Constitutionally makes a more stable united nation, SHE becomes the very tyrant she’s trying to make the Supreme Court look like, as well as the majority of Americans — that is, 48 out of 50 states. Her spirit might be genuine, but her cause is horribly flawed and flat-out illegal. LOL

          Liked by 2 people

      • Reverting back to one of your earlier, excellent posts on the fact that America was NOT founded on Christian principles, I have to ask (in relation to your comments above), Who’s God? She took a government job. There is “allegedly” to be a separation of Church and State – for this very reason! She took a government job KNOWING (or should have known) religion is NOT part of her job. She is supposed to serve ALL of her constituents, NOT just pick and choose which of her constituents she sides with. Shame on her! Practice religion OUTSIDE of your job. If the duties of that job offends her religion, then she should quit and move on to one that does not. Who’s God? She invokes her God, leaving all others worshipers of their own gods with no avenue by which to practice their religious’ freedoms (rights?). Why should her opinions be better or win over her constituents? SMH….

        Liked by 1 person

        • Who’s God? She invokes her God, leaving all others worshipers of their own gods with no avenue by which to practice their religious’ freedoms (rights?). Why should her opinions be better or win over her constituents? SMH….

          You hit the nail on the head Dana. That’s exactly my personal opinion as well: she’s trying (hypocrtically I must add) to serve two opposing Masters. Her church Minister — who I believe has been very outspoken in her defense of course — is ALSO unaware of her contradictory stance to her/their Canonical gospel teachings! That’s the “spiritual” side of it; her side of it. But as I was commenting earlier, she prefers to standout like a percussive cymbal, i.e. known in education as Attention-Seeking behaviour.

          Now, from a Humanist, Secular, or Neutral viewpoint, her personal claim to “God’s authority” as you’re referring too, is rout with holes and incongruencies! Fortunately for all of you readers here, I don’t have time to dissect or up-end those Xian tenets, doctrines, and ill-founded history they base their “God authority” on. I’ve already done that in many of my past posts. 😈

          But I am ALWAYS happy & willing to cover it all again for those truly interested, civil, and open-minded. 😉

          P.S. The thing that now gets under my skin about Fundy bible-thumping behaviours like those of Mrs. Davis and the like, is that they are indirectly (or directly in some cases) CLEARLY against a greater good for a greater number…which is philosophically an American tenet rather than their elitist segregating behaviour. Furthermore, they don’t usually realize that this specific behaviour isn’t Christian in the least; it’s Jewish Zionist, or older… just Trouble-making like some of my 7th or 8th graders. 😮 LOL

          Liked by 1 person

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