Before I jump into the actual blog-story, I wanted to quickly say that I will soon return to my ongoing series on A New U.S. Constitution. Do not worry. Those of you awaiting Part 3 won’t be overly discouraged or disappointed that I might have forgotten. Because I knew you were. 😉 I’ve been wanting to post this quick musing for many months now and thought NOW would be just as good a time as any. Therefore, let’s jump right in… or as they say in football/soccer, “Get stuck in!”
∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼
The other day I was having a half-serious, half-joking discussion with a friend. She had asked how life was going for me. I replied to her with a question, as I often do, so as not to waste anyone’s time. I asked, “Do you want the prim-n-proper, standard, social answer, or do you want the brute truth?” She asked for the unadulterated truth. I appreciated that greatly, as I always do with people like her, that she wanted nothing diluted, nothing sugar-coated. And as she desired, here was my answer.
I told her that I was sick-n-tired of having to shave, trim, cleanup, and remove body-hair and whiskers at least every 6-8 days from anatomical places I’m convinced were NEVER meant to have primate-hairs growing out of them! At least, not on my metro-sexual body! No, no, and NO! It is all so damn annoying! I think hall of fame comedian Billy Crystal talked frequently about body hair in places it was not meant to be, ever! I told my laughing friend, I want to overhaul my ears, just replace them with new ones or relocate all the damn jungle-hair growing profusely out of my ears and side of my skull, and move it all to the top of my head and shrinking hairline on my forehead! I mean, I’m dead SERIOUS now!
Then I took a slightly different tack. I explained to her that I want to just go down to the local auto “body parts” store and purchase everything I desperately need replacing on me! “Um, yes. Do you have any hairless ears in stock?” She pointed in that direction to show me. “Oh really!? What about full hairline replacements? You’re probably all sold out on those, right?” As we walked, she informed me that they might have exactly what I’m looking for. I began to get really excited about this NEW Body Parts store! But then the most riddling thing happened.
We walked through the Men’s Intelligence & Brain aisle.
Now, I want to preface this next bit. Please remember that I live in a highly charged, super Red (Republican), Conservative, ultra-religiously bigoted part of the nation: Texas. That right there should give you adequate context to the remainder of my story. ☺️
As we moved further into the store, the shelves we came upon were crammed full of all sorts of gifted brains, from floor to near the ceiling! It was incredible. Every where you gazed you saw discounted, clearance sale prices on overstocked men’s brains. Hundreds and hundreds of highly intelligent brains everywhere! There were even Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Mark Twain, and many other famous replica brains marked down super cheap! The store-clerk told me that they’ve been TRYING to move these men’s brains for 5-10 years, but we just can’t sell them, not even one. Astounded, I couldn’t imagine why these men’s brains were not flying off the shelves!
Then we entered the next section of the store.
On either side of the aisle were empty shelves. Dust, then more dust on these shelves. It was as if there had been a crazed rush of Black Friday shoppers had cleared out all stock of whatever was in this section. I asked the kind, helpful store clerk… “Why are these shelves utterly empty?” She replied matter-of-factly…
“Oh, this is the men’s giant penis, or jumbo-dick section. We can NEVER keep this section stocked for barely even half a day.”
I said to myself, Pffft.Yep, that’s about right in Texas and the Deep South.
Live Well – Love Much – Laugh Often – Learn Always
Surprise! I am not a fan of horse-blinders, headless ostriches, or one-tree forests. I am not a fan of shallow, baseless rhetoric or opinion unless it is cleverly woven with satire and parody. Nor am I a fan of closed systems and strong-armed boxing in. Are you asking “What on Earth is he going on about?” Fair question.
What 2017 will become for Americans, and hopefully to a minimal extent the world, will be or has been partly determined by 2015-16, the state-of-the-Union and its unionists today, and what will result in 2018 and 2019 based on the past and present. This is the final post from the previous: 2016: Cries for Mutiny.
* * * * * * * * * * (line break)
The Past Two Years
2015 and 2016 in America saw many economic, political, social, and scientific headlines, many good as there were bad. Following are some of the biggest and in my opinion most impactful relative to the well-being of all U.S. citizens and citizens to be.
Racism, lethal violence, and gun-control, and so by default our nation’s outrageous incarceration rate, seems to never go away. The mass shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, a popular LGBT club, were two of the deadliest shootings in recent history. The Charleston Church shooting was reportedly motivated by a 21-year old white supremacist charged with 33 counts including murder, firearms charges, and federal hate-crime charges. The murderer’s beliefs prompted continued debate over the state’s long history of flying the 19th century Confederate Battle Flag atop the state capitol building. This shooting and other similar shootings in the U.S. including the Pulse nightclub—and Roseburg, Lafayette, Chattanooga, Planned Parenthood, San Bernardino—ignited again the still never-ending controversy of racism and gun-control.
The phrase Black Lives Matter became a common trending 2015 hashtag on social media following events such as the death of 25-year old Freddie Gray while in custody. Increased police violence and killing continued throughout 2016, primarily toward or effecting African-Americans, shockingly suggesting that the end of the American Civil War in 1865, the ratification of the 13th Amendment also in 1865, then decades later historical victories by the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and 70’s never happened! It seriously begs the question whether basic human rights in America have really taken firm roots after 151 years!
On a high note, in 2015 June 26th, the White House vowed its support for the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples. President Obama remarked:
“In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. It is gratifying to see that principle enshrined into law by this decision.”
But American history has shown that simple moral, ethical equality for all is still far from established, practiced, and protected within our national borders, e.g. Texas Rep. Andrew Murr in my previous post. And America is not always so embracing when it comes to foreigners and foreign affairs, despite what Lady Liberty is supposed to symbolize to the world.
The European refugee crisis from war-torn nations like Syria have been an embarrassing blemish across Lady Liberty and all Americans. Tens of thousands of people fleeing from the Middle East and Africa learned harshly just how paranoid and apathetic the United States has become. Germany, Sweden, and the U.K. on the other hand opened up their arms wide taking in far more than President Obama’s plan to allow 10,000. Other foreign aid into those warring nations reached all-time highs and lows for the international community despite U.S. peace and refusal talks. Yet, these refugee figures come out of European and American sources — the numbers are anywhere between 1.1 to 4.4 million refugees in African nations, ironically where some of the poorest nations in the world are located. Hmmmm.
The U.S. economy made several headlines as well, no surprise given the upcoming Presidential primaries and election in 2016. The federal deficit indeed shrunk over 2015. The final figures came in at $439 billion, about $45 billion less than in 2014. Employment rose, unemployment fell, and for the first time in the past 7-years, 2015’s real hourly pay climbed faster than 2%. Good news, yes. However, America’s widening zip code inequality continued to rise as poverty and a lack of upward mobility became not just social and economic problems, they became bigger geographical ones too. American living standards only saw limited gains creating a false illusion of recovery. This was reflected by a contraction of aggregate supply rather than a strong expansion of demand, all according to the Brookings Institute. Therefore, now is an easy segway into America’s federal politics and “Election 2016″… a campaign year that would go down in history as infamous, to put it mildly.
In an April 2015 two-minute video, Democrat Hillary Clinton announced her anticipated second run for president. With Democratic candidates Sanders and Clinton set, the race for the Republican nomination became a wild free-for-all. Another Bush from Florida entered the race, Jeb Bush, along with no less than 15 others, including the TV-reality star and business mogul Donald Trump. From that point on, the fiery “You’re Fired!” TV personality turned the campaigns into polarizing, even comical, reality shows. Soon after, as if to get in line for the next blockbuster show, rapper Kanye West proclaimed he would run in the 2020 presidential election. Why not! Come one, come all. No experience necessary.
In November 2016, what can only be described as a stunning outcome, Trump won not the popular vote, but the Electoral College vote to become the 45th President of the United States. Yes, the rest of the world was shocked, not shocked, and Vladimir Putin and Russia loved it.
In late 2016 the Brookings Institute spoke about Trump’s economic team forecasting doubled long-term GDP as “unrealistic.”
“Labor force growth is slowing to a crawl. The population is aging, the dramatic advance of women into the labor market is waning, and male participation has been declining for decades. We will be lucky if the labor force grows by 0.5 percent a year. That means labor productivity growth would have to grow by 3 percent a year. Over the past decade, it grew by just over 1 percent. So the Trump administration seems to be assuming that they can more than double productivity growth. So, is a near-doubling of the GDP growth rate realistic? No. But even if it were, it would be less important than ensuring that whatever growth we have is more equally distributed. But let’s assume we can bump up the growth rate. Even then, unless something is done to ensure that growth is more broadly distributed, the average American is unlikely to benefit very much. This lesson was reinforced recently by the release of new data showing that, on average, if you were born in 1940, you had a 90 percent chance of being better off than your parents, but the odds fell to 50 percent if you were born in the 1980s. Both lower growth and rising inequality contributed to this depressing story for today’s younger generations. In addition, the study—by Raj Chetty and colleagues—found that more equally distributing growth would be more effective at improving the average person’s life chances than simply restoring GDP growth to its golden years’ rate. In fact, in today’s lopsided economy, it would take a growth rate of more than 6 percent to revive the income trajectories experienced by middle class children in 1940.”
But don’t fret too much America. There are some very bright spots from 2015-16!
A shattered chromosome cured a woman of her immune disease then reassembled. This is known as chromothripsis, possibly paving the way for therapies against a variety of human diseases. 2015 saw the dawn of gene editing, the rise of immunotherapy and the first hints of a drug to slow the pace of Alzheimer’s disease. NASA’s Kepler telescope found 1,284 new planets of which nine could plausibly support human life. About 800-million years ago a slight genetic mutation lead to multicellular life on Earth. An ancient molecule known as GK-PID was discovered to be the reason single-celled organisms on Earth started evolving into multicellular organisms we have today. In mathematics a new prime number was discovered, further expanding and enhancing encryption programming: the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. Then perhaps one of the biggest headline for medical science in 2016 was made by the Stanford University School of Medicine! Stem cells injected into stroke patients re-enabled patients to walk again.
Finally and on the faith vs. science debate, cavefish were found that could walk up walls. This showed similarities to four-limbed vertebrates. The New Jersey Institute of Technology discovered a Taiwanese Cavefish that is capable of walking up walls with the same anatomical movement as any present-day amphibian or reptile. And in the state of Utah, the Black Dragon Canyon rock-art debate was finally solved! Due to pterosaur fossils being found in the area, young-Earth creationists — who believe our planet to be only 6,000 to 10,000 years old — have relentlessly cited the rock-painting as proof that humans and the winged reptiles had walked the region together. Archaeological chemist Dr. Marvin Rowe using “a photographic enhancement program known as DStretch and a technique called x-ray fluorescence,” completely debunked the creationist’s claim of the art.
There were many, many more major breakthroughs in medicine, history, and science for 2015-16 that simply could not all be listed here. Apologies.
The reviews are mixed about 2017. No surprise, right? It’s only January.
However, from a U.S. economic standpoint, the fiscal outlook for America’s “new POTUS” plans are not promising, says the Brookings Institute, and “it is likely to get worse soon.“
“The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that Trump’s tax and spending proposals – the latter including replacing the Affordable Care Act, modifying Medicaid, boosting military spending, and enacting savings in non-defense programs – imply that the debt will rise to 105 percent of GDP by 2026. The CRFB report leaves out any estimate of increased infrastructure spending, which Trump has said he would like to increase by roughly $1 trillion over a decade. Including that would add further to the debt figures.”
From a political standpoint, never before has the spirit of true, pure equality for ALL Americans been so threatened (e.g. 2016: Cries for Mutiny), arguably weakened the last 2-3 decades. Racism and hate-crimes littered our nation’s news media and if 2015-16 is any barometer, it isn’t going away anytime soon in 2017. For here and now and the sake of time, I am going to focus on sex-gender identities only.
Notwithstanding the obvious growing social trend of sex-gender equality across many states, the political-Conservative representation and processes, for various reasons, progressed at snail-paces. It took the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, after four pivotal landmark decisions—Lawrence v. Texas (2003), United States v. Windsor (2013), Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013), and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)—to make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Can you say it took not an act of Congress, but the gavel of the Supreme Court to finally follow its majority of people!?
From the social and scientific standpoints then, the future in America has wider glimmers of hope. Since 1991 the work of doctors and scientists — like Dr. Simon LeVay and medical/university colleagues across Massachusetts and New York with their supporting universities and clinics through 2001 — has led to the progression and evolution of tangible better understandings of sex-gender dynamics. For example, in 2006 the Council for Responsible Genetics reported:
“We are sexual beings, yet this does not mean that we are born homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual. Our sexual expression can change over time, towards different people, through different experiences. A lack of understanding about this type of human variability often leads to a perspective that our genes define who we are.
…Yet a narrow focus on the variability of sexual expression threatens to cloud the issue altogether. Without giving proper attention to the mutability of human sexual expression, questions regarding its origins and character cannot be answered. Without giving proper attention to the mutability of human sexual expression, questions regarding its origins and character cannot be answered.”
“For men, new research suggests that clues to sexual orientation may lie not just in the genes, but in the spaces between the DNA, where molecular marks instruct genes when to turn on and off and how strongly to express themselves.”
In individuals, said[UCLA molecular biologist Tuck C.]Ngun, the presence of these distinct molecular marks can predict homosexuality with an accuracy of close to 70%.
Researchers working in the young science of epigenetics acknowledge they are unsure just how an individual’s epigenome is formed. But they increasingly suspect it is forged, in part, by the stresses and demands of external influences. A set of chemical marks that lies between the genes, the epigenome changes the function of genetic material, turning the human body’s roughly 20,000 protein-coding genes on or off in response to the needs of the moment.
“Our best guess is that there are genes” that affect a man’s sexual orientation “because that’s what twin studies suggest,” said Northwestern University psychologist J. Michael Bailey, who has explored a range of physiological markers that point to homosexuality’s origins in the womb. But the existence of identical twin pairs in which only one is homosexual “conclusively suggest that genes don’t explain everything,” Bailey added.”
—Scientists find DNA differences between gay men and their straight twin brothers, by Melissa Healy – LA Times, October 2015
Stepping back from any one tree and examining the genetic or epigenetic forest strongly suggests that ancient and long-standing social-theological traditions of strictly an unbending binary paradigm in post-modern Europe and modern America are fast fading into fallacy. For the future growth of higher human virtues and education, this is great news!
This very month one of the most iconic American magazines, National Geographic, released their double-issues on the gender revolution. Since I can remember over the last 25+ years, this bold highly controversial step by a world-renown organization is long overdue in the U.S.! It paints the reality of the changing social stigma of sex-gender identity bringing it to our public squares to define the correct precise terms so misunderstood, and looks closely at the cultural, political, social, and most importantly the biological aspects! These are must copies for your personal library.
Topics the magazines cover include Helping Families Talk About Gender, Girls, Boys, and Gendered Toys, the power and influence of our society’s binaryColor Code on American children, a deeper look into children’s animated films of popular characters: Who’s the Fairest?, a detailed graph of Where In the World Are Women and Men Most-and Least-Equal, candid first-hand reports from 9-year olds around the globe of How (in their countries) Gender Affects Their Lives, Rethinking Gender: Can Science Help Us Navigate?, and then the lengthy article, Making A Man: How Does A 21st-century Boy Reach Manhood? that I found astonishing. And those articles and graphs are merely the first-half of the first magazine!
“Enveloped by the men of his family and Hasidic faith, Levi Tiechtel celebrates his 13th birthday at his bar mitzvah in Queens, New York. For millenia, Jews have been performing this ritual, which commemorates the[supposed]age when a male becomes accountable for his own actions and sins.”
—Making A Man: How Does A 21st-century Boy Reach Manhood?, January 2017 National Geographic, pp 86-87.
From 800 BCE Sparta to 1930 Italy and United States, “cultures have devised[not genetics or epigenetics necessarily]myriad practices and rituals to make boys into men. The methods — often secret and sacred — vary widely and continually evolve, says cultural anthropologist Gilbert Herdt. But they also share some universal themes that broadly reflect a community’s values and the roles its men are expected to play.” At such a young malleable age, in several cultures around the world, America included, it makes the decision to conform or not conform daunting or near impossible until perhaps an older age of increased independence and exposure to the world’s endless variety.
The Possible-Probable Forecast
Based on what I’ve written in this post and previous posts, my life experiences as an 8th-generation Texan as well as American, my 28-year futebol-soccer career across 4-of-the-6 inhabitable continents exposed and engrossed to a multitude of native cultures, the copiousness and curse of the internet, and my unconventional journey from young agnostic, to evangelical-fundamental Reformed theology with church leadership and practice, back toward a Freethinking Humanist today… and now an evolving, learning, and hopefully teaching social-sciences from basic chemistry to Quantum Physics, I would say the next 2-6 years in the United States looks promising through several lenses on the social and scientific fronts, but ominous on the economic and political battlefields. Why?
After 241-years as a nation and about 182 for Texas, we have nurtured the freedom to continually push the envelope of social refinement and scientific exploration, granted in pockets of the country, while also nurturing the fear of change and the consumer rewards of self-reliance and exclusion. When we examine the entire American forest over the lifetime of our nation, we stand at a pivotal ridge on our future’s horizon. Either we embrace a bigger global community, reverse the return or nuisance of old uncivilized ideologies which have crept or will creep back in, and instead keep pushing the scientific thresholds… else we risk increased fragmentation, polarization, and socioeconomic collapse in a few more generations, if not sooner.
I hope my seat behind this windshield and the view through my/our rearview mirror is different or temporarily malfunctioning! (half laughing, half nervous)
Tell me your thoughts and suggestions below. Whether you are American or not, I’d like to read them.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
This here is why it is so important to personally communicate with our state and federal officials, as well as be very active citizens exercising our civil duties and responsibilities!
The U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court, and integrity of the Union of 50 states has been under threat by a retro-popular sociopolitical mentality that is eerily reminiscent of Medieval Europe’s theocratic feudal systems. I address here one such local example out of many Texas Congressional members acutely bent on returning to those Dark Ages. Click his picture’s caption below for his full article and modus operandi. Following is my personal letter to the TX Congressman.
My personal written response to Mr. Murr’s article and posture:
Mr. Murr, Texas H.R. Dist. 53,
I read your July-Sept 2016 opinion-editorial (Op-Ed) article in HomeTown magazine entitled “What To Do When the Feds ‘Mess with Texas?‘” and I must say it was quite polarizing and partisan. I feel the claims made in your article may not completely represent those of your citizens in your 12 counties but your personal beliefs/opinions as is the Op-Ed designation. However, just in case it is based on a comprehensive survey of your 12-county citizens, I’d like to offer another perspective to those residents.
If there’s one factual statistic about Texas it is that it has become a more diverse culture of politics and beliefs than 30 or 50 years ago! The traditional sociopolitical landscape of Texas has and is quickly evolving into a ‘non-Caucasian’ spectrum, e.g. Texas is now primarily a Hispanic non-Caucasian demographic. Old Texas traditions are fortunately dying out.
While reading your first nine paragraphs, I couldn’t help but think this verbiage can represent any side of Texas sociopolitical issues: What does it mean to be one state unified with 49 others? What are the many benefits of being part of the United States of America? For starters, Texans and three other southwestern states are all protected and/or supported by federal law-enforcement staff and agencies from Mexican, Central, and South American drug cartels. Texans owe much gratitude to the commerce of 49 other states supporting Texas. These are just two benefits out of many! But sadly, the spirit of your article hinted of that old typical rhetoric of “Texas is better than the entire U.S. and can be a bully in federal politics if it so desires! After all, we are the ‘Lone Star’ state and we don’t need anyone! We can fly our state flag above the stars-n-stripes when we want!” This sort of arrogance I loathe as an 8th-generation Texan myself. Many times a year I remember the plethora of NATIONAL benefits we Texans enjoy as Americans! Your article hints of 1860’s secession, or worse… when Texas was a Republic and could not and did not stand on its own!
The very protections federal support provides economically, socially, and militarily (and you vaguely and implicitly touched on, if at all) CANNOT be provided by 254 Texas counties, let alone twelve. With due respect Mr. Representative, it is a give and take relationship with our federal union. Your three specific gripes: restrooms, equality, and Obamacare, are very minor issues compared to the numerous advantages Texas gains being an integral part of the Union of 50 United States! It would be quite arrogant for Texas to expect and dictate what is suitable for 49 other states to legislate, especially on such three MINOR issues you point out. Yet, you state later…
“There is little to suggest that Washington will ever curtail its intrusion into state and local affairs, regardless of the outcome of elections or change of administrations. So lets look at what we have done and what we can continue to do, both here in Texas and across the country, to take matters into OUR OWN HANDS.”
Wow! I am appalled by such mutinous cries!
I will contribute to the broader education or re-education of readers about the purpose of our U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land… even over Texas. But before I explain its purpose, let’s remember why we hold elections every 2- or 4-years, or it might vary depending on which state, county, and municipality voters reside.
Our frequency of political elections accommodates an evolving, changing spectrum of democratic civilization and its governing. Though arguably 4-8 years is seen by many as too long a term(s) in office, it is also reasonably argued that 4-8 years is inadequate for measuring the efficiency, feedback, accuracy, and success/failure of previous legislation and governing. Yet, there is no arguing this frequency/infrequency certainly does hold value for the SPIRIT of democracy! The people are heard. Therefore, there is rarely any cause for political hyper-tantrums or social anarchy when 2-4 years expires so quickly and the “voice of the people” can be heard and represented again.
The purpose of our U.S. Supreme Court is to be the final judge in all cases involving laws of Congress, and the highest law of all — the U.S. Constitution. This role DOES NOT make the Supreme Court all-powerful; in fact, far from it. Their power is limited or “checked” by the other two governing branches — Congress and the President along with his/her cabinet. Though governing a democratic people in this manner does not guarantee perfection in all cases at all times, but it seems to be one of the better governing systems in the world… when kept in parity and as pure as possible.
The democratic system represents in theory, and for the most part in practice, a system of governing which represents the “greatest good for the greatest number.” However, as history has adequately shown, it isn’t always pure. For example, in order for President Lincoln to have his 13th Amendment (via his Emancipation Proclamation) pass by a two-thirds majority in 1863 in the House chamber of Congress, Lincoln’s cabinet, aids, and lobbyists were forced to use ‘impure’ bribes and promises in order to capture certain Congressional votes or abstentions to get the 13th Amendment passed—the freeing of all slaves!
Our three-branched system doesn’t exempt the Supreme Court from impurities either. In 1857 the Supreme Court (Dred Scott vs Sandford) basically ruled that African-Americans were not part of the “sovereign people” who made the U.S. Constitution, were thus not U.S. citizens, and hence could not sue for their freedom. In this situation it is (pure?) good the federal Congress and White House later passed amendments that overturned this Supreme Court decision… and 8-9 years later did so with 5 slave-owning Justices (Democrats) and only 2 dissenting abolitionist Justices (Republicans).
It is worthy to note one example of the usefulness of Mr. Murr’s “democratic” battle-cry would ironically be our need to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in favor of Citizens United; which was a Republican-majority Supreme Court decision then undermining Mr. Murr’s “popular” democracy today. So it repeatedly begs the question, “How and why does a court case reach the final highest court of the land?” Research it and learn! Don’t just take anyone’s words for it or any politician’s battle-cry for it! Do the legwork and homework yourself!
Clearly, governing or ruling a people MUST be frequently evolving with several democratic “check-points” in the system to guard against a plutarchy (like Texas? 12 Texas counties?) from seizing and/or manipulating power and laws that DO NOT represent the majority of 49 other United States… and in which Texas is supposed to be part of. It is a give and take Mr. Murr.
As you correctly stated in your second paragraph:
“The Founding Fathers established our form of[Federal]government so that citizens, through their elected officials, could establish laws that reflect their desires;[and]particularly at the state and local levels.”
Though some/many Texans forget they are part of a bigger picture, a bigger Union and enjoying those many benefits of a Federal Team/Union—sometimes getting consumed by their own little world, or as you correctly said “particularly at the state and LOCAL levels”—having the protections of a Federal 3-branched Team is a wonderful blessing for ALL Americans, especially those who are not “in the majority” (oligarchy?) of social, political, or religious or non-religious sectors yet STILL deserve their individual rights, freedoms, and protections as American citizens, even in Texas.
Sincerely, Professor Taboo (here, in place of my real name)
My Conclusion For This Post The theme of my written letter to Congressman Murr was centered on his rallies (threats?) of mutiny aboard the U.S.S. America, e.g. “into OUR OWN HANDS.” His assertions about the function and authority of our Federal Branches as well as the spirit of six Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, additionally a lengthy history of Supreme Court decisions upholding the separation of church and state… are simply and as a whole misinformed. His direct attacks on “Public Restroom Policy” and “Same-Sex Marriage” politically are nothing to ignore or dismiss, but their protection and/or legislation is unambiguously paramount! I’ll address their defense and other inevitable sociopolitical issues more thoroughly in my next post, 2017: Our Past, Present & Forecast.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
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. 😮
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
President Ronald Reagan and his widow and former First Lady Nancy Reagan are familiar icons of American politics. What are some of the first things that come to mind when reflecting back on his presidency, administration, foreign policy, and his stance on social issues? Take a minute to remember some of the things he and Nancy were well-known to represent and implement. (line break)
* * * * * * * * * *
President Reagan is noted for supply-side economics pushing a laissez-faire philosophy, freer-market or less-regulated market, and significant reductions in individual tax rates for Americans. He is also noted for escalating the Cold War with the Soviet Union driving their economy bankrupt by attrition. Another notable mark by Reagan’s presidency is his staunch fight and campaign to return vocalized prayers in public schools, later reduced to a “moment of silence” due to opposition by the Supreme Court and Congress. President Reagan is highly regarded in conservative Right politics and economics. This is also the family environment that sons Ron and Michael, and daughters Patti Davis, Maureen, and Christine Reagan grew up. Their father continues to be a favorite historical figure of American conservatism. But that’s the public image, the general image usually portrayed. Examining closely the Reagan family dynamics with his four children, things are anything but conservatively unanimous and smooth. For a brief family background of the Reagans by PBS.org, click here. (line break)
Ron P. Reagan
In fascinating contrast to Reaganism, Ronald Prescott Reagan, son of the former President, joined forces with the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2009. In May 2014 a controversial advertisement aired with Ron Reagan addressing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions to legally allow government bodies to impose Christian prayer onto everyone at the opening of public meetings as well as other such intrusions beyond and outside of church-related activities and business. Here is the advertisement…
Constructive Change and How To Implement It
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” The same man said, A people become great exactly in the degree in which they work for the welfare of others. Mahatma Gandhi was perhaps the most prolific philanthropist and social activist of the modern era. All of his remarkable social change, democratic human rights movement, and struggle for independence from the Great British Empire were made and staunchly taught non-violently. Never did he himself raise a hand nor take up arms against the powers-at-be to facilitate the necessary change. He did it even in the face of cruel demeaning rhetoric and/or physical beatings by opposition. He allowed the arrogant self-righteous to become monsters and eventually self-destruct. Gandhi was the epitomy of proper change and how to encourage it.
Though I am inline with much of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s mission statement and campaigns, here is my question and dilemma with Ron’s final statement. When an ideology is CLEARLY wrong politically based upon our U.S. Constitution — that is the deterioration of separation of Church and State as Ron properly explains — is prodding or provoking or inflammatory comments to your opponents the best method to induce change? And even though Ron’s patronizing of America’s religious isn’t physical violence, is it the BEST approach to initiate political and social change? Below I’d very much like to read your thoughts and comments about my question and Ron Reagan’s ad.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always