Constitution

Citizenship, the border, and the census

typography white door fence

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Are you a citizen of the United States of America?

Seems like a fair question. A questions that any country of the world should be able to ask of anyone residing within its borders (Are you a citizen of ___*current location in the world*___?). A country has a right to know whom resides within its borders, right? A country also has a right to know if those who reside within its borders are citizens or not. Otherwise, what’s the point of borders, or even visas for that matter? The citizenship question and whether it can be included on the next census will get answered by SCOTUS here in the near future.

It should be a relatively straight forward answer, especially if you are a citizen or in the country legally. It’s as simple as YES or NO. If you are a citizen, I would venture a guess that nearly everyone would admit that they are. If you are not a citizen, you’re either going to lie or refuse to answer that you’re not a citizen. If you’re in the country illegally and DO admit that you’re not a citizen, you should be afraid of deportation, because you have broken the law.

If I speed, am I afraid to get caught? Sure. I don’t want to pay the fine. If I am caught stealing, do I want to get caught? Nope. I don’t want to go to jail. If I were to murder someone, do I want to get caught? Definitely not. I don’t want the possibility of the death penalty (yes, I know, another debate for another day). So why would illegal immigration be any different? If you are in the country without permission to legally be there, then you have broken the law and there are consequences for breaking the law, or at least there used to be.

It was recently reported that the border of our country is in crisis. The media is working overtime to make people to believe that it isn’t. The Democrats would like Americans to believe that it isn’t. But the numbers for the year don’t lie. The NYT recently reported numbers from the US Border Patrol that most definitely show there is a crisis. It can’t be denied. When you have a record number of people crossing the border per month, at the rate of 19,000 per week (on average) or approximately 633 per day, there really can’t be any other conclusion. To deny that there isn’t a crisis is just plain fantasy…or, it plays into a political agenda.

Why were illegal crossings way down a year to a year and a half ago? Why have things changed so dramatically in the last 6 months? Because we have a segment of the our population who are actively encouraging illegal crossings and actively pushing for law enforcement to turn a blind eye to breaking the law. There isn’t another explanation for this and there can’t be a claim of “humanitarian crisis” if you have sent the message that you aren’t going to enforce the laws. If there is a crisis, it was created in order to serve a political agenda.

I am not talking about a “political crisis” to build a wall. That need has always been there, but our politicians have punted that ball from one Congress to the next hoping that someone will do the hard work and get it done, unless of course it fits your agenda to not get it done. Is it possible to build a physical wall on the entirety of the border? Not even remotely. Is it possible to stem illegal immigration in totality with a wall? Definitely not. But, the effect of a wall would surely act as a deterrent and it would definitely slow it down. That is really the ultimate goal, to get it to slow down and eventually stop.

Why is illegal immigration such a big deal? Because it hurts the country. This isn’t about legal immigration. That helps the country. There are positives and negatives, but the distinction between legal and illegal has to be kept clear. You can’t encourage illegal immigration and you can’t encourage the breaking of laws because there may be an economic gain, but more importantly you can’t encourage it because it will give you political leverage.

Illegal immigration doesn’t just strain the border enforcement resources. It has an impact on resources well inside the border as well. Our doctor’s offices and hospitals are full and illegal immigrants with no insurance strain the resources of those facilities while those who have insurance bear the cost of increased insurance rates to make up the difference. Our schools (in many areas of the country) are bursting at the seams with students who are not in the country legally, but schools are required to educate the students without asking if they’re legal or not. Who bears the cost  of that? Those who pay the local taxes and, maybe in even worse, the students who wouldn’t have normally been in an overcrowded classroom. Illegal immigrants (in many places) can get driver’s licenses. By reasonable extension then, you can deduce that they are likely getting aid when in a car crash and in many cases they aren’t insured, so those drivers who are insured bear the cost of increased rates to make up for uninsured motorists. The list could go on and on.

My family were immigrants when they came to the country a really long time ago. They did it legally. I don’t think it is too much to ask that others follow the law and do it legally too. That is why we have a system that allows for it, and encourages people from all over the world to do it legally. We are stronger if we are a nation that follows its own laws, not if we are a nation that allows for some to break them and not face the consequences for it.

 

 

 

I choose life

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There is so much to say about this topic and I just can’t process all there is to say, so I will say it in a rather short, blunt manner.

New York, you’ve got it all wrong. I suppose you were outraged by the news of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, but honestly this just puts you on a similar level – only now you make it legal.

Apparently, in New York, the definition of life involves which side of the vagina a baby is on, inside or outside. Outside the vagina, you’re good, kid! Inside the vagina, well, you’re SOL! Doesn’t anyone (ok that is a generalization) in New York recognize that mere seconds doesn’t make life? A baby is a baby. Inside or outside. There is no difference.

It hurts my heart to see that people actually cheered for this as it was signed. The level of stupid has reached new heights. You seriously need to question your morals if you think this is even remotely a good idea.

Get this contradiction: In New York, it is illegal to kill a convicted criminal but it isn’t illegal to kill a completely innocent baby.

Yeah, let that sink in.

Nice work, America. You have managed to tarnish that whole “LIFE, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” thing.

 

Checks, Balances, and Gridlock

Andertoons.com

It is unfortunate that our system of government has been HIJACKED by political parties. Instead of doing what is right for the American people, we have two parties who do what is best for themselves based on ideology first, then try to sell it to the American people by telling them this is what is best for them.

Our first president, George Washington, warned against political parties and, even then, we didn’t heed his wisdom:

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

FAREWELL ADDRESS | SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1796

*emphasis is mine*

It is getting rather old. Oh, and before we start bashing on one party more than the other, let’s get one thing straight – BOTH parties are guilty of it to a high degree and NEITHER party is the answer to everything. There has to be cooperation and sacrifice. Neither party can do what is best for the people that way. The problem then is that when one party “takes control” they force their agenda on the American people, whether is it best for them or not. That is not a way to govern.

You wanna know why we are where we are today and why Americans are so cynical about our government? Wanna know why we are more divided politically than ever? Look in the mirror.

It’s our fault really. We created it. We put up with it. We don’t do anything about it.

Look in the mirror. This is your fault.

The Decline of American Society: Cause and Solution

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Ok, guys, this is a pretty serious topic and it warrants a long discussion. However, I am going to let the article speak for itself and reserve my comments for a discussion, should one actually occur.

This topic doesn’t just apply to American colleges, but at all levels of education and society in general. We have trained out students incorrectly, done them a huge disservice, and I have been saying it for years.

Before I share the article, I would like to suggest that microaggressions don’t actually exist. I would posit instead that they actually should be referred to, and focus on the opposing source, as microsensitivities (not hypersensitivity), meaning one is so sensitive that anything and everything could cause an individual to over-react in nearly all situations. In essence, one is so fragile that they believe they and others should be protected from reality. We have an entire segment of society that avoids anything that causes discomfort and if it is challenging they won’t even attempt it.

I ask that you read the WHOLE article below before making a comment  (it is a long one). It is well written, well reasoned, and well supported. We need more of this type of journalism and thought.

 

The Coddling of the American Mind

 

What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments.

Fake News and Media Evaluation

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In a world where “fake news” is a thing, whether on social media or on an actual network, and lots of people are looking for ways to back up their own opinion YOU can do something to be aware of your own bias. Everyone needs a wider view of the world and being informed in a well-rounded manner could only make things better.

I used to tell my students there was no such thing as unbiased media – everyone has a slant – and I stand by that statement. However, there are media resources/outlets that do their best to remain “neutral”, as hard as that may be. One thing we know, even if an outlet tries to remain bias free the person/people contributing the media still have a bias.

I recently found a source I wish I had known about while I was in the classroom. It would have been incredibly valuable! The site is called AllSides.com. The cool thing is that you can get news from across the political spectrum – the Left, Center, and the Right. So, if you are a news hound like I am, you can get your news from all perspectives, not just the ones Google thinks you want to see (remember, Google logs your clicks and searches so it progressively narrows the results you get based on your selections).

Allsides

AllSides.com site banner

An interesting part of this website is the ability to check your own bias. It has you take their short bias survey, but you also have the ability to complete a bias survey from Pew Research as well as a political party quiz from Pew (for confirmation of where you fall, specifically, or seriously have no idea). All together those surveys give you a pretty complete picture of your social and political bias.

From there, you can rate the numerous media outlets based on your perception of their bias. Of course, your opinion is only a small part of the overall bias rating. They take all the submissions (a sort of crowd-sourcing) and then use statistical research and methodologies to develop on over-all rating for the media source. The methods they are using is really quite interesting. For me, I agreed with the bias rating on about 70% of the media outlets. I gave my input and added it to the aggregate results.

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An example of what you would see at AllSides.com

The important thing here is that you are contributing to bias awareness. Why is that important? Well, too many American’s get their information from too few sources. If more Americans took time to look at the same topic from different sources/perspectives, they might understand the topic in a more well-rounded way. Instead, many Americans fall into or use a confirmation bias. This is dangerous, especially in a technological, highly connected society that is hyper-sensitive and hyper-politicized.

We have to (no, really NEED to) stop using just one source to support our argument. Or, even better, we need to stop using sources that fit our point of view. We need to encourage more media sources to go back to what they used to do – report, without editorial and bias. We need to stop trying to argue our points over social media and instead demand truthful, unbiased reporting.

I know. Maybe I am too hopeful that we can “turn this ship around”. But, I believe that if we are more aware of our own bias we might have a chance. I think using websites like this is a good first step in the right direction.

**Disclaimer: This is not a paid endorsement for the website mentioned above and I am in no way affiliated with the organization. Just a satisfied new user.**

Vote today, make a difference tomorrow

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A vote cast today, means your voice will make a difference tomorrow.

Your civic duty, no, your Constitutional right is to be used.

I don’t care which “side” you are on, as long as you’re legally allowed to vote. As an American citizen you should care.

Use your voice, or hold it until the next election, because whining about the results after not having cast your vote is just plain stupidity.

So, don’t be stupid.

Vote.

 

In the land of self-identification

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The idea of self-identification is absurd, a scam really. It is fraught with so many contradictions that society can’t keep up, so it just keeps creating more exceptions to make it float. Logic, rational, and even science are disregarded as “false” because it doesn’t fit with one’s idea of who they want to be. There is no rhyme or reason, it is “just because I want to.”

So, I have decided to join the conversation with my own self-identification.

From now on, I am going to identify as a 67-YEAR OLD, RETIRED WHITE MALE.

I am really 46, but that is beside the point. Who are you to tell me that I can’t be a retired 67 year old male? Are you going to deny my the right to identify as I please?

Now that I am retired, I am no longer going to show up at work. Why would I? I am retired. However, my work will now have to grant me my pension and continue to pay me on a monthly basis based on my past employment.

Also, since I am now retired, the government can start paying me my social security and medicare/medicaid benefits as well. How much should I receive in benefits? Well, that is hard to determine since I haven’t continued to work for the next 21 years. But, let’s assume that my current wage will increase on an average of 5.4% (plus, COLA and inflation)per year. Once my highest wage has been calculated then they can figure out my benefits. I want them now, I am retired.

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Oh, call AARP too. I want my membership card. Watch out everyone who has senior discounts at your stores and restaurants, I am coming for those benefits as well.

Hmmm, what other benefits can I derive from my new found identity?

Um, what?? You don’t like this idea?? Wait, you say I can’t do this?? Why??

Are you discriminating against me because of my age? That makes you an “ageist” and that is illegal.

Are you discriminating against me because I am a male? That makes you “sexist” and that is illegal.

Are you discriminating against me because I am white? That makes you “racist” and that is illegal.

Are you discriminating against me because I haven’t made enough money or because I make too much? That makes you an “economist.” Oh wait, probably not that but…hell, I don’t know, but is probably has something to do with socioeconomic status…

I think you get the point. At least I hope you do. I am RETIRED. Nothing you say or do can deny me of this right.

Now, give me my money and benefits before I take you to court and sue your ass.

Truman and Free Speech

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“There is no more fundamental axiom of American freedom than the familiar statement: In a free country, we punish men for the crimes they commit, but never for the opinions they have. And the reason this is so fundamental to freedom is not, as many suppose, that it protects the few unorthodox from suppression by the majority. To permit freedom of expression is primarily for the benefit of the majority because it protects criticism, and criticism leads to progress…But we would betray our finest traditions if we attempted…to curb the simple expression of opinion. This we should never do, no matter how distasteful the opinion may be to the vast majority of our people…We need not fear the expression of ideas—we do need to fear their suppression.”

– President Harry S. Truman

Context: fighting communism in the United States and around the world.

The emphasis above is mine. One of the most important freedoms we have is under attack and I’m afraid it will only get worse. The attacks are coming fast and furious and from every side. I doubt there will be a turn from this trend, only a charging straight into an unknown and dark future.

“We punish men for the crimes they commit, but never for the opinions they have”

We have sunk so low these days that we are punishing people for their opinions. I don’t mean we are legally punishing them, though I suspect we aren’t far off from this. (On second thought, maybe we are – see the baker, the florist, the photographer, the wedding venue, etc. being prosecuted because of their beliefs and opinions.)

We are now punishing people in the public arena via social media, sometimes even to the point of violence off-line. There is no crime in holding an opinion and expressing it, yet many people apparently believe it is these days. The trend to punish people for their opinions has gone to name calling, bullying, harassing, taunting, threatening, unfriending, embarrassing, humiliating, and in some cases even following through with physical violence simply because someone disagrees with another person’s opinion or disagrees with their extreme viewpoint.

Take this student photo article as an example. No harm done, to anyone, by her posting a photo she is proud of. It is easy to imagine that anyone would post a picture they have when they got it while interacting with someone famous. So, when did it become acceptable to treat someone so poorly because you disagree with them?

We teach our kids in school not to bully, harass, threaten, or otherwise make someone uncomfortable (Really? Because that’s reality…). Yet, there is no reasonable expectation among the adult world that this will carry forth into daily life. We aren’t practicing what we preach. It brings to mind that whole “Do what I say, not what I do” adage.

Now, it appears at least as adults, we celebrate people who go out of their way to bully, harass, or even attack others who have opinions that don’t line up with mainstream opinion. We are teaching our kids that it is ok to fight detestable and offensive opinions with violence and intimidation and bullying and harassment, etc. as long as we believe it to be repugnant.

The whole point of the United States and it’s foundation was to protect free speech, even the kind we find repugnant. Our Founders, who were persecuted for their beliefs and opinions, are celebrated because they fought against a society that believed their ideas were repugnant. (Back to the whole historical argument – were our Founders patriots or terrorists? It depends on your point of view.) Our Constitution is meant to protect all ideas and opinions, even the ones we don’t like, because we are supposed to have a “marketplace of ideas”. Take the ones you like and leave the ones you don’t. There is nothing in the Constitution about convincing others they are wrong by bullying and harassing them into changing their idea.

Truman understood that “To permit freedom of expression is primarily for the benefit of the majority because it protects criticism, and criticism leads to progress…”  He understood that if there is a problem in society it needed to be discussed and worked on until it was fixed. If there is a belief that our country is going in the wrong direction, then there needs to be open dialogue about it not suppression and violence.

If we become a society that suppresses ideas we don’t like or find repugnant, how do we move forward? Censorship at every corner and in every facet of life? I know everyone hates the cliche “slippery slope,” but we are seeing some prime examples these days. Where does the suppression of ideas or thoughts, or opinions end? What one person finds objectionable, another finds acceptable. Who gets to decide in a open and free society?

 

 

 

Bullying – Do Children Need to be Taught to Cope Better?

*Originally posted on the blog 10/21/2013

I had an interesting conversation with my senior students (this is a Contemporary Issues class) this morning. We were watching the NBC Nightly News broadcast from October 20, 2013. There was a story about a student who was bullied and how it was handled, including how it is helping others around the country. Following their viewing of the broadcast, I asked them if there was anything that that caught their attention, something that they wanted to discuss further. One student raised his hand and asked, “Should we be teaching our students to cope better with bullying?” What do you think? Is this a valid question or just insensitivity?

They are, of course, aware of the case, and others like it, where a middle school student jumped from the top of the abandoned cement factory because of the bullying she endured from kids at school.  Some of them also admitted to instances in their past where they were being bullied and how they dealt with the situations. But, many of the students agreed with the first student that asked the question. Many agreed that if students were taught skills to cope with adversity in life, kids might not react so drastically.

Before I get too deep into that part of the conversation, let me also mention that the students, nearly to the person, said that bullying was a problem in society and that is has rightly gotten the attention that is deserves. Several students brought up the fact that there is a fine line between playful teasing, something that can happen between friends or family, and becoming mean – usually where bullying resides. They acknowledge that students need to be sensitive to others’ feelings and they also agreed that laws protecting those who are being bullied are necessary.

However, many of the students said that we live in a hypersensitive society. Too many people today, they felt, are too quickly offended, too quick to sue, too quick to play the victim. They said that we have become “soft” and that one of the reasons we are this way is because we have failed to develop “thick skin” when it comes to what other people do or say to us. Several examples they used (again, we watch the news) to demonstrate their point were the case where a school banned balls of any kind on the playground, the school that banned playing tag on the playground because children get hurt, or even from their own school where a former superintendent banned dodge ball because a student broke his wrist in a freak accident be stepping on a ball as he jumped out of the way. All of these cases, they felt, were from people overreacting to incidents because they were afraid that someone might sue. While these cases don’t have a direct connection to bullying, the point was well taken. Adults have been a bad example of how do deal with instances of conflict and our kids see how it has been handled and they act accordingly.

So, how do we teach our kids to have thicker skin? Better yet, how do we, as adults, begin to demonstrate that trait? Surely there is a need in our society to have thicker skin.

I am short and I get short jokes all the time. I have always been teased, maybe even ridiculed. But it hasn’t ever bothered me. It is a fact of my life. It isn’t something I can change so I accept it and make jokes about my own height as well. How did I develop the skill to cope with such treatment? I am not sure. But I am sure that there must be some value in teaching others the skills to cope in similar situations as well.

Admittedly, we all are different and what might set one person off doesn’t set another off. We all have different “breaking points” or we all have a threshold for tolerance. But why is that threshold so low in some and so high in others?

I would like to hear your thoughts. What do you think? Did my senior student have a valid point or was he just being insensitive?