Stopping the Academic Boycott of Israel

Yesterday, at the Modern Language Association (MLA) annual meetings in Chicago there was Panel 48, one of more than 800 on this year’s program. The MLA has a membership of more than 30,000 university and college academic specialists in English, literature and history. This panel in particular has drawn media attention and controversy because of the theme, “Academic Boycotts: A Conversation about Israel and Palestine”. It is reflective of the furor raised over recent resolutions favoring Academic Boycotts passed by both the 5,000 member American Studies Association (ASA) and even smaller 1,700 member Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) in mid-December 2013. These academic groups are a distinct minority in the groves of American Academia.

Moreover the Academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions is a two edged sword, as it would bar contact with a number of similarly minded Israeli academics.  The uproar has led to formal rejection of the academic boycott  of Israeli  institutions by more than 150 American Universities, including some of the universities where MLA Panel 48 members are affiliated.  Six of the objecting Universities have withdrawn department affiliations with the ASA. Further the 47,000 member  American Association of University Professors (AAUP), with 500 local campus and 39 state chapters, has opposed the ASA and NAISA Israel academic boycotts on the grounds of denial of academic freedom as contained its 1940 protocol and 2005 restatement.

Across town in Chicago another panel was convened under the auspices of the Chicago Jewish Federation to express opposing views from pro-Israel advocates including Hillel International (HI), the Israel Campus Initiative (ICI), and StandWithUs.  Pro-Israel and anti-boycott advocates had protested the denial of opportunities to present opposing views  at the MLA panel.  Moreover as noted in a January 2, 2014 JNS.org release on the contretemps the MLA had advised them that counter panels would have had to file by the deadline, April 1, 2013.  The JNS.org release noted the exchange between MLA executive director Rosemary G. Feal who wrote ICC director Jacob Baime, “We do not rent space at our convention for nonmembers to hold discussions.”  To which ICC‘s Baime and HI’s Neusner replied:

“We believe the members of the MLA deserve to hear a far more diverse set of perspectives on the issue of academic freedom in Israel and nearby countries. The MLA members, as academics, certainly can appreciate the value of multiple perspectives on what is a very controversial issue,” ICC’s Baime said.

“MLA has its policies, as any organization is privileged to do. We are disappointed that they wouldn’t make room for us at the convention,” Noam Neusner, a spokesman for Hillel International said.

Panel 48 presenters included Samer M. Ali, Univ. of Texas, Austin; Omar Barghouti, Independent Scholar; Barbara Jane Harlow, Univ. of Texas, Austin; David C. Lloyd, Univ. of California, Riverside; and Richard M. Ohmann, Wesleyan Univ.  Samer Ali of Texas University presided at MLA Panel 48. He indicated that the genesis was the unsuccessful intervention by New York City politicians and Mayoral candidates to prevent pro-BDS advocates from appearing at Brooklyn College in February 2013.

Weekly Standard article by American Enterprise Institute Fellow Max Eden, “Why this Boycott is Not like the Others” provided background on the panelists. Eden wrote:

The panel on Thursday will feature four belligerent anti-Israel activist advocates and a moderator who makes the panelists look like Likudniks. Barbara Harlow has already publicly endorsed an academic boycott. Richard Ohmann has declared that our “taxes have for years supported Israel’s project of ethnic cleansing.” David Lloyd wrote in the Electronic Intifada, a website devoted to Israel’s destruction, “It is not only that … all Israeli institutions are complicit in the occupation. It is that the occupation and its practices are the truth of Israel itself.” Omar Barghouti, the fourth panelist, is a co-founder of the BDS movement who says “the white race is the most violent in the history of mankind.” In a hypocrisy nearly too great to be believed, Barghouti earned a Master’s degree from Tel Aviv University and is currently pursuing his second Master’s there.  The university was overwhelmed by a petition with more than 175,000 signatures calling for Barghouti’s expulsion, but it stood on principle and refused.

The panel moderator is UT-Austin’s Samer Ali, whose public Facebook page gives away the game. One of his posts reads: “Our enemy is not radical Islam. It is global capitalism.” This page features multiple posts depicting Iranians as morally superior to Republicans and a link to a video highlighting Ayatollah Khomeini’s alleged personal generosity.

Three separate reports provide coverage  of what transpired at the dueling sessions in Chicago yesterday:  Inside Higher Ed blog article, “The Two Session Solution”;   Ha’aretz, report  “Israel boycott debate sows dissent at annual MLA convention“; and, JNS.org coverage, “Dueling panels debate BDS inside and outside of MLA convention.  They provide a  comprehensive picture of the proceedings  and  the proposed resolution of MLA Panel 48 to be introduced at Saturday’s plenary session.. That resolution condemns Israel for barring American scholars from pursuing academic engagements with Palestinian universities in Gaza and the West Bank.  The Forward noted in its article on the MLA contretemps, “Israel Battle Roils the Modern Language Association”, the language for the proposed resolution of MLA Panel 48:

MLA urges the U.S. Department of State to contest Israel’s arbitrary denials of entry to Gaza and the West Bank by U.S. academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.

The Panel 48 resolution is to be introduced at the plenary session Saturday by Ohmann of Wesleyan University and Columbia University English Professor Bruce Robbins.  We know Robbins because of the debate that roiled the Morningside Campus with the release of the Columbia Unbecoming documentary about intimidation of Jewish students by members of Middle East Arts Language and Culture faculty. That was crystallized by the controversial tenure appointment of pro-Palestinian Professor Joseph Massad.  Robbins, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia was quoted during the episode saying, “The Israeli government has no right to the sufferings of the Holocaust” and has “betrayed the memory of the Holocaust.”

Cary_Nelson

Professor Cary Nelson, University of Illinois. Former AAUP head and anti-Boycott advocate.

Former AAUP President and University of Illinois professor, Cary Nelson, who appeared at yesterday’s second panel, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Another AntiIsrael Vote Comes to Academia in which he laid out the issues confronting academia.  His conclusion was:

A truer indication of the real goal is the boycott movement’s success at increasing intolerance on American campuses. Junior faculty members sympathetic to Israel fear for their jobs if they make their views known. Established faculty who grasp the complexity of Middle East politics hold their tongues for fear of harassment by those who are more interested in offering lessons in contemporary demonology than in sound history. The politically correct stance in many academic departments is that Palestinians are victims and Israelis are oppressors. Period.

The fundamental goal of the boycott movement is not the peaceful coexistence of two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian, but rather the elimination of Israel. One nation called Palestine would rule from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Those Jews not exiled or killed in the transition to an Arab-dominated nation would live as second-class citizens without fundamental rights.

There is no political route toward a one-state solution. But some American professors are too blinded by hatred of Israel—or too naive—to see that they are inadvertently advocating for armed conflict.

At the MLA panel 48 discussions, Barghouti took Nelson to task, by suggesting that AAUP’s long standing Academic Freedom standards did not comply with the  lesser ones of the United Nations.  Nelson at the second opposing panel countered suggesting that the arguments of Barghouti and others on the panel  were “delusional and irrational”:

…praising Barghouti for at least admitting that he was calling for academics to give up some freedom.

Nelson said that was the least of the problems with the boycott as envisioned by Barghouti and the ASA. Nelson noted that the groups have left open the possibility of working with Israeli scholars deemed to be supportive of the Palestinian cause. However one feels about that cause, Nelson said, the idea of creating lists of acceptable and unacceptable scholars can’t be taken seriously as consistent with academic freedom.

This system creates “the right to suppress people he doesn’t like,” Nelson said. “This is selective academic tyranny.”

Russell Berman, director of German studies and professor of comparative literature at Stanford University and former MLA President drew attention to the selective anti-Semitic stands of the Israeli academic boycott supporters, saying:

That when boycott defenders talk about facing false charges of anti-Semitism, they are engaged in “an attempt to silence the Jewish community.” When pro-boycott people criticize the “Zionist lobby,” they are trying to question the right of anyone affiliated with certain groups to participate in the debate.

[…]

What does it mean, Berman said, if boycott supporters have “come around to Jew counting?”

According to the JNS.org account of yesterday’s session less than 125 of the 4,000 conference attendees were at the Israeli Academic Boycott MLA Panel 48.  Perhaps, that may be a forecast of a possible defeat for the misguided resolution at Saturday’s plenary session of the MLA.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

An Open Letter To Ways And Means

Welcome back to Washington and Happy New Year

As you return to the business of the House Committee on Ways and Means, you and your colleagues will, in many ways, determine the direction of our nation by the decisions you will soon make on fundamental tax reform.

You have a clear and distinct choice to make. You can continue to pander to the special interests that will forever hold you hostage to their gluttonous demands, or you can break from this insidious cycle and fully represent the will of the people who elected you.

If you choose to continue in the bondage of special interest slavery, the demands they exact will rise to levels that even you cannot imagine. Once the fatted calf becomes addicted to the feed trough, its’ appetite becomes insatiable.

Contrast this to the people who elected you who simply want to pay their fair share of taxes without the fear and intimidation of an agency that continues to be used as a political weapon.

Even the IRS’s own watchdog, Nina Olson, stated in her just published annual report, “Public trust in [IRS] fairness and impartiality was called into question because of reports the IRS subjected certain applicants for tax exempt status to greater review based on political-sounding games.”

Sadly, Olson’s only remedy is an IRS generated U.S. taxpayer Bill of Rights. By the way, didn’t you already try this in 1988 when Congress passed the first of three Taxpayer Bill of Rights?

To Olson’s suggestion, ladies and gentlemen, isn’t this a little like the fox guarding the hen house; just like the U.S. Justice Department appointing Barbara Bosserman to lead the IRS targeting investigation?

fox guards henhouse

Silly me, I am sure any individual who shelled out over $6,000 in donations to the Obama campaign will show total impartiality during a criminal probe involving conservative organizations.

The bottom line is this – the American people want a simple and fair system of taxation without all the drama, theatrics and corruption. They want the fox to leave the hen house and they want their representatives to put a stop to the longstanding reign of terror by the IRS.

The FairTax® Plan does this and more.

Reduced to its most basic terms, the FairTax eliminates taxes on wages while taxing wealth and borrowing when spent. It eliminates the income/payroll tax system and replaces it with a single rate tax on consumption.

More importantly, it is fair, simple and universal in application – no exceptions, no exclusions, and no more special interests feeding at the trough.  And, it fosters economic growth and efficiency while fully funding the government. 

You will soon have a decision to make on fundamental tax reform.

Option 1: You tinker with the current system, call it major reform and continue in the bondage of special interests.  With this option the American people continue as the losers.

Option 2: You represent the will of the people who elected you and enact HR 25, The FairTax Act, freeing them from the bondage of an out-of-control IRS and a gobbledygook tax code that is fast approaching 100,000 pages. With this option, the American people have a fair and simple tax code that also eliminates the yearly tax return nightmare that has already begun.

Which decision will you make? Perhaps you can draw inspiration from General Robert E. Lee who once said, “You have only always to do what is right. It will become easier by practice, and you enjoy in the midst of your trials the pleasure of an approving conscience.”

Your electorate awaits your decision. Remember, they too have decisions to make in November 2014.

New Ad titled “Sanction” Targets Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL)

Today the Emergency Committee for Israel released “Sanction,” a 30-second TV ad that will begin airing this weekend in Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s congressional district.

The ad contrasts Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s very public pro-Israel rhetoric and tough talk on Iran with her behind the scenes obstruction of a new bipartisan Iran sanctions bill.

The spot will air multiple times on Sunday political shows in South Florida and will run through next week on cable news and during sports events.

Emergency Committee for Israel executive director Noah Pollak said, “This ad highlights the contradiction between Rep. Wasserman-Schultz’s very public pronouncements of support for Israel and her behind the scenes campaign to stymie bipartisan Iran sanctions on behalf of President Obama. As her constituents find out the truth, we hope they will demand a more responsible approach on this important issue.”

[youtube]http://youtu.be/FoOpDukqlVM[/youtube]

ABOUT THE EMERGENCY COMMITTEE FOR ISRAEL

The Emergency Committee for Israel seeks to provide citizens with the facts they need to be sure that their public officials are supporting a strong US-Israel relationship. The Committee’s mission is to educate the public about the serious challenges to Israel’s security and about what elected officials in this country are doing and should do in order to meet those challenges.

In 2010, Israel faces an increasing threat from terrorism supported by hostile regimes that refuse to accept the Jewish State. Iran continues its pursuit of a nuclear weapon and its support of terrorist groups. Syria continues to arm Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon with ever more modern weapons. And Hamas, with Iranian support, continues to hold hostage the people of Gaza, refusing to renounce violence or recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Despite these threats, Israel has made unprecedented concessions in the name of peace, unilaterally withdrawing from territory, supporting Palestinian aspirations for an independent state, and offering to engage without precondition in talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Still, the current administration in Washington seems determined to extract ever more concessions from Israel, and to respond to each setback in the peace process by placing more pressure on the Israeli government. This policy of making one-sided demands on Israel has failed to produce progress and has only emboldened Israel’s enemies.

At the same time, the American people overwhelmingly favor a policy of strong support for the Israeli people and their democratically elected government.

We know that, when provided with the facts, the American public will support those public officials dedicated to maintaining a strong US-Israel relationship and committed to keeping Israel safe and secure. The Emergency Committee for Israel will engage in the public debate about U.S. policy toward Israel, and will keep the public informed about the votes, statements, and records of their elected leaders so as to help hold them accountable to the pro-Israel voters they represent.

SEMANTICS: Everyday Terms that Sometimes Cause Confusion

Too many times I find myself in discussions with another person where we both might be on the same page, but end up comparing apples to oranges. In most cases, the difficulty with verbal intercourse is due to either a misunderstanding or unfamiliarity of certain terms. Many words have more than one meaning, especially in the English language, lending more confusion to communication. Some organizations, such as our military, “coin” or write their own definitions of words to fit a particular situation. Used to be the goal of a soldier was to kill the enemy. Today, the military talks about “servicing the enemy.” Does that mean kill? Injure? Wound? Change his oil?

COMMON LAW: Principles of law which are based on custom or judgments of courts rather than upon an enactment of written law. Though our nation is based on custom and historical decree, we are not a common-law nation – we are a statutory country whereas only conduct expressly forbidden by statute is punishable by law.

CONSERVATIVE: A person whose political thinking is to the right side of the political scale. Capitalistic. Conservatives lean toward viewing less government control as being better than more control. One who tends to believe in conserving or preserving established rules and traditions and one who believes that when change is needed, the proper procedures should be followed.

CONSTITUTION: Basic and underlying system of rules of which all other laws and behavior is judged. The supreme law. The rule of law.

CONSTITUTIONAL CORRECTNESS: Sometimes called Strict Constructionist. Persons, who believe in a rigid adherence to the rule-of-law. These citizens believe that if the majority of the citizens wish to act in contravention to a constitution, the only legitimate method for doing so is by amending this Constitution.

CRIME: An act which has been determined (by enactment of a law) to be injurious to the public. We are a statutory nation inasmuch as unless there is a law against a certain act, the act is not a crime. If the subject law is in violation of any constitutional provision, it is not a crime to violate that law.

DEMOCRACY: A nation that is governed by the concept of majority rules. In a true democracy the people decide all issues by whatever the majority wishes. Without any guiding provision, such as a constitution, the rules of conduct change as the majority of the population changes. If the majority is comprised of X persons, they can repress or control Y persons. If there is a shift in population where Y persons suddenly become the majority, then they are free to discriminate (retaliate with their vote) against X persons. America is not a democracy, it is a republic (see REPUBLIC and RULE OF LAW) where this discriminating practice is negated. Some American erroneously believe they can enact and enforce any law (anti-gun, school prayer, etc.) merely by garnering the majority of votes to pass these statutes, regardless of constitutional mandates.

INALIENABLE: (aka unalienable) Something that cannot be taken away. An intrinsic right such as the right to life and with it the right to use what tools (firearms) necessary to protect that right.

LAW: Rules, customs and practices a society has established to regulate and control the actions of its constituents. The “pecking order” is: Ordinances (city/village laws) are subordinate to statutes (state laws) which are under federal acts and laws. All of which must be in compliance with the Constitution (see Rule-of-law).

LIBERAL: A person on the left side of political beliefs. Socialistic. Considers more government control to be better than less control. Persons who view our Constitution as a guideline inasmuch as they believe it can be circumvented and molded to fit the POLITICAL CORRECTNESS du jour – as opposed to amending the Constitution.

LIBERTARIAN: A person who believes in full individual freedom and a very limited size and role of government. It has been said that a REPUBLICAN is one who was robbed last night; a DEMOCRAT is one who was arrested last night and a LIBERTARIAN is one who shot the person robbing him.

MALA IN SE: (Latin) Acts that are wrong in and of themselves – morally wrong. American’s don’t need a law to tell us that murder is wrong. Championing (voting) to pass laws that violate one’s constitutional or INALIENABLE RIGHTS is MALA IN SE.

MALA PROHIBITA: (Latin) Acts that are wrong only because society says it’s wrong. Parking your car in a no parking zone is only wrong because society, via laws, has deemed it so.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: A rhetorician, with a virtuosity complex, who ignores the rule of law to further a political agenda. A slang catechism meaning the most expedient thing to do regardless of legalities. For example, those who desire to restrict or control firearms by passing unconstitutional laws, will justify their position with the pseudo belief that their actions are (in their opinion) in the best interest of society. (see RULE-OF-LAW)

REPUBLIC: A nation operating under a RULE-OF-LAW where its citizens have the sole power to elect representatives to enforce the rule-of-law and conduct the nation’s business to the best interest of its citizens – in accordance with a constitution. The difference between a true democracy (see DEMOCRACY) and a republic is in a democracy the majority rules, i.e., there is no controlling factors (constitutions) to hinder the will of the majority of the citizens or their representatives. In a republic, the citizens/representatives can only act in accordance within the established RULES-OF-LAW. Of course if the majority wishes to act in opposition to their own rule-of-law (a constitution), they must first change this RULE-OF-LAW/Constitution.

RIGHTS: aka privileges or immunities. That which belongs to a person by law, nature or tradition. Some rights have been established by law, edict, court decrees and constitutions. Others are intrinsic (see: INALIENABLE).

RULE-OF-LAW: An organization (including a nation) that has agreed to live (operate) by a set of pre-established rules or laws and that these codes take precedent over all else. The U.S. Constitution is our rule-of-law inasmuch as it is the set of laws to which all other laws, statutes, ordinances, court orders and executive edicts must conform. It doesn’t always work to perfection as witness how the Judicial Branch forces its uncontested opinion of the law upon juries in direct conflict with the 6th Amendment (see Government Corruption with Solutions, Part 3 – 29 Dec 05).

© 2014 Chuck Klein

The New Liberal Killing Fields

As President Obama returns from a well deserved and earned two-week vacation in Hawaii – ok, being quite facetious here – I wonder if he did any reflection between rounds of golf. And why is it that the First Lady remained in Hawaii to celebrate her 50th birthday?

Regardless, I reflected upon the words of George Santayana, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Reason being, as President Obama returns to Washington DC he is part of a repeat of history. After the fall of South Vietnam the rise of Southeast Asian communism ensued, Cambodia was embroiled in a five-year civil war, 1970-1975, resulting in the ascension of the Khmer Rouge. Under the brutal leadership of Pol Pot the following four years resulted in one of the most horrific acts of genocide.

It what would come to be known as the “Killing Fields” the Khymer Rouge reign contributed to the deaths of between 1.7 to 2.5 million. Pol Pot presided over a communist dictatorship that imposed a radical form of agrarian socialism on the country. His government forced urban dwellers to relocate to the countryside to work in collective farms and forced labor projects. The combined effects of executions, forced labor, malnutrition, and poor medical care caused the deaths of approximately 25 percent of the Cambodian population.

His death grip over the Democratic Kampuchea (funny how communists and socialists always call themselves Democratic) ended with the Cambodian-Vietnamese War.

Then as now, the liberal progressives of the Democrat (there’s that word again) party ardently protested and undermined the efforts of our military forces – then Vietnam, now Iraq. Then it was communism, now it is Islamic totalitarianism. Then it was the killing fields of Pol Pot, today the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. Just as the Democrats abandoned Southeast Asia, now they have abandoned the Middle East.

President Obama as true to his colors, believed that a political promise was far more important than a strategic decision. Therefore, against the recommendations of Commanders on the ground, he decided against any residual force to remain in Iraq. There will be the detractors who will say, Americans were tired of fighting. My response is that America was not fighting, it was committed Men and Women, warriors, who had defeated a vile, vicious Islamic terrorist, jihadist enemy.

Just as men like my older Brother had embarked to fight in Vietnam, yet again, politicians let them down – some things never change.

Leadership, principled, courageous leadership, would have explained to the American people why a complete withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq would not bode well. Leadership would have reminded the American people of the killing fields of Pol Pot.

Leadership would have held a press conference and stated, “I have consulted with the Commanders on the ground in Iraq, combat leaders, and concur with their recommendation for a residual force. Our men and women in Iraq have done that which many, to include myself and others in my party said was impossible. Against all odds they persevered, displayed American warrior resolve, and defeated Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism. Now, those of you would say, it is time to withdraw, retreat, claim victory, but that is not how we sustain these fragile gains. We will maintain a residual force in Iraq that will provide an external cordon for this fledgling but historic land and people to recover. We will position our forces along the borders with Syria and Iran in order to interdict any terrorist elements. As well, we shall station forces in northern Iraq to foster military to military relations with our Kurdish friends and ensure their security along with any Christian (Assyrian and Chaldean) minorities. This may not be a popular decision, but I am not here to be a popular person, but a strategic minded President, a visionary leader. I have studied history and recall what happened after our precipitous, and dishonorable, exit from Vietnam and the killing fields of Pol Pot and the bloodthirsty communists. We shall not abandon those who risked their lives to support our efforts in Iraq. We shall not steal defeat from the jaws of success. We shall not dishonor the sacrifices of so many who over these eight years gave the last full measure of devotion. We will not let up and now is the time, now is a moment when we can, and we will, drive a stake into the heart of Islamic terrorism and send a clear message, “you can run but America will ensure that you will die tired”.

Instead, America saw a charlatan, a political imposter who, with the aid of a complicit, propagandized media, made our Nation believe there was honor in retreating. That combined with the insidious lie, “Al Qaeda is decimated and on the run” now means that a new killing field is being harvested. It is happening on the ground where American blood was shed in order to plant the seeds of liberty and freedom from islamists.

Thanks to President Barack Hussein Obama the black Al Qaeda flag now flies in Fallujah and may soon fly in Ramadi, it already flies in Benghazi.

Secretary of State John Kerry has stated that we will not send US troops – he lies. Unlike the Vietnam where he went to visit, this enemy will not rest until they have restored a global caliphate, and it starts in the Middle East. Somewhere, sometime, we will have to send US troops, again.

I served in Operation Desert Shield/ Storm. I served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. And I spent two and a half years in southern Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom as a civilian-military advisor to the Afghan National Army. I wonder how long it will be before the Taliban flag is flying once again in Kandahar?

Florida Threat of Force to Stop Attackers SB 448 passes Criminal Justice Committee 5-0

Senate Bill 448 by Senator Greg Evers was on the agenda for the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Meeting on Wednesday, January 8 at 9:00 am. SB-448 passed the Committee by a vote of 5 to 0.

SB-448 by Senator Greg Evers is a bill to stop abusive prosecutors from using 10-20-LIFE to prosecute people who, in self-defense, threaten to use deadly force against an attacker as a means to stop an attack.

Some anti-gun, anti-self-defense prosecutors have been abusing the 10-20-LIFE law to prosecute average citizens who displayed a weapon or gun in self-defense to make an attacker back off.

Bill Cervone, the State Attorney for the 8th Judicial Circuit represented the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, attempted to defend prosecutors who have been violating the intent of 10-20-Life and abusing their discretion.

As reported by the News Service of Florida, the following misleading statement was made to the Committee in testimony by State Attorney Bill Cervone:

“If somebody is in prison for one of these situations, it’s because a judge and a jury rejected his version claiming self-defense.”

We know that statement is not accurate. Unfortunately, there are also people in prison because prosecutors threatened them with 10 or 20 years if they did not plead to a lesser number of years. That is coercion and abuse in these cases.

The threat of extreme mandatory sentences coerces innocent people into pleading — even if not to prison, to a felony crime with probation. This is especially true for citizens who have too much to lose (job, house, family) to risk going to trial.

Further, in some cases people have been convicted and imprisoned as a result of improper jury instructions. And Greg Newburn of FAMM reports that approximately 1/3 of these self-defense cases where people are being wrongly charged with aggravated assault under 10-20-Life for exercising lawful self-defense, result in judges throwing the cases out of court or juries acquitting these people who were wrongfully prosecuted.

Click here to view a news article in The Florida Times-Union by Matt Dixon titled, Hearing on “warning shot” bill sparks spat between Greg Evers, prosecutor, that describes the dispute “spat” between Committee Chairman Greg Evers and Cervone over Cervone’s statements.

Florida Public Service Commission caves to FP&L smart meter demands

As expected the Florida Public Service Commission approved the staff recommendation today to allow FP&L to charge $95 upfront and $13 per month to those customers who wish to opt out of a smart meter.

My apologies, I did not know you could call in and make verbal public comments at this meeting over the phone. One citizen did that.

The OPC did little but suggest a reduced fee of $75 upfront and $10/month and based it off of California. They also recommended two paragraph’s be included in the Order. It was read quickly and I did not fully understand the significance, if any, of those inclusions. But basically OPC supported the tariff and the fee being charged.

Health and medical exemptions were never even discussed. No discussion of the definition of a non-communicating meter occurred, nor any of the other issues brought up to mitigate costs such as self-readings.

FP&L did admit that the fee needed to be and was designed to be high enough to disincentivize opt outs!

When questioned, they claimed customers who had an analog could keep it but also said there were NO savings by people opting out (which is not true since they will not be spending money putting on a smart meter). They also re-enforced that at any time if a customer wants to switch from an analog to a smart meter that there would be NO fee. Those customers refusing to pay the fees will be put into their normal collection process for non-payment. They admitted that the $77 visit charge may not occur for all customers but some customer may have 5 visits and it is meant to be an average assumption (so much for cost based and cost causer!).

If you wish to watch the meeting, it will be archived at this link and Item #6 starts at the 57 minute mark: http://www.floridapsc.com/agendas/audiovideo/index.aspx

FP&L will be revising their tariff and resubmitting today to reflect the staff recommendations. They indicated that they expected this service to become effective in May 2014 (I assume that is when they will start charging us).

If no protest is filed, the Order will become effective in 21 days.

Defeat Franken in 2014: One Less Obama Henchman!

Many are outraged that Obama would nominate a cop killer advocate to head the DOJ Civil Rights Division. When will people realize that Obama is a lawless Chicago thug politician who surrounds himself with henchmen?

One such Obama henchman that we have a golden opportunity to defeat is Senator Al Franken. Franken’s numbers are tanking. Only 39% of Minnesota voters have a favorable opinion of Al Franken.

While Obama deceitfully gives pious speeches about bipartisanship and civility, his henchman says things like this, “Republicans are shameless d**ks. No, that’s not fair. Republican politicians are shameless d**ks.” Al Franken: The Truth (With Jokes) p. 58

Franken has become notorious on Capitol Hill for numerous over-the-top angry outbursts against Republican Senators and staffers; behavior unbecoming of a U.S. Senator.  Minnesota voters deserve much, much better than Franken.

Loyal henchman Al Franken rubber-stamps Obama’s every lawless decree. He voted for higher taxes, higher deficits and Obama’s stimulus. Franken urged his boss to militarily intervene in Syria without seeking congressional authorization.

Not only did henchman Franken help write the tyrannical Obamacare, he cast the deciding vote and boldly parroted Obama’s infamous lie, “If you like your health care plan and doctor, you can keep them.”

Franken wrote a letter to fellow Obama hench-persons at the IRS instructing them to harass conservative groups. Have you ever heard of such arrogant unethical behavior by a U.S. Senator? Are we dealing with a presidential Administration or a crime family?

Elected to the U.S. Senate under suspicious circumstances, Franken has been a tool of radical liberal special interest groups, rather than pursuing the best interest of the people of Minnesota.

Franken is so radical, he received a zero percent rating from numerous groups that include Citizens Against Government Waste, National Association of Manufacturers, Campaign for Working Families, Concerned Women for America, American Library Association, Sportsman and Animal Owners Voting Alliance and the American Conservative Union.

Franken is hellbent on protecting his boss’ signature power grab, Obamacare, which is wreaking havoc in the lives of millions of Americans. Removing the vulnerable Al Franken from the U.S. Senate is a powerful step towards repealing Obamacare.

As Obama re enforces his ranks with new henchmen like his disgusting DOJ nominee, it is crucial that we exploit every opportunity to weaken Obama’s ability to lawlessly bully us into submission. In 2014 we need to make it a national priority to defeat Al Franken; one less henchman for Obama.

RELATED COLUMN: FBI, dragging feet on IRS probe, finally contacts tea party groups

Exposed: Hillary Clinton’s Sex Scandals

Exposed: Hillary Clinton’s Sex Scandals is presented by The Western Center for Journalism and is produced, written, and edited by Kris Zane. Narrated by Tom Hinchey.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvxUuAl85ho[/youtube]

ABOUT THE WESTERN CENTER FOR JOURNALISM

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French Court Bans Performances of Anti-Semitic Comic Dieudonné

Pictured: French Anti-Semitic Comic Dieudonne’ and French Soccer star Nicolas Anelka in Nazi-like quenelle salute

French Court of the State re imposed a ban on the performance of controversial comic Dieudonne’ within minutes of an administrative tribunal decision in Nantes lifting it.   Dieudonné was in the midst of a tour of several major French cities, despite having over 9 convictions with penalties of $80,000 for violating French hate laws.  These violations are regarding his comments about the Holocaust and Jewish personalities that some, including his former Jewish comic sidekick, consider Anti-Semitic.  His performance in Nantes had been banned by a local French government official in furtherance public order issued by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, Tuesday.  Valls said  today:

“This is a political battle and not just a legal one. We must not let these intolerable statements go unanswered.” The Socialist politician said Dieudonné’s anti-Semitic and racist outbursts were “not an opinion, but a felony” and underlined that “the action I have undertaken has the advantage of mobilizing everyone, including the offices of the State.”

On Tuesday French President Hollande said:

I am calling on all representatives of the state, particularly its prefects, to be on alert and inflexible. No one should be able to use this show for provocation and to promote openly anti-Semitic ideas.

A World Jewish Congress (WJC) report noted:

Earlier this week,  Interior Minister Valls said racial and anti-Semitic remarks in Dieudonné’s show were legal infractions and “no longer belong to the artistic and creative dimension”. In a three-page circular letter sent on Monday to prefects and mayors across France, Valls said that the show contained “disgraceful and anti-Semitic words toward Jewish personalities or the Jewish community” and “virulent and shocking attacks on the memory of victims of the Holocaust.”

[…]

World Jewish Congress Vice-President Roger Cukierman, the head of the French Jewish umbrella body CRIF, told ‘France Info’ radio on Tuesday morning that he was satisfied that the French government had now acted. He called on French citizens to speak out against Dieudonné’s anti-Semitism. “No, France is not an anti-Semitic country, but therefore, one has to put stop to [Dieudonné’s] actions and prosecute him wherever possible.” Cukierman is among eight persons and institutions against who Dieudonné has threatened a defamation suit.

Even a right wing Political Leader, Marnie Le Pen of the National Front, expressed “shock’ at Dieudonné’s behavior in remarks to Le Figaro, although hedging that perhaps the French government may have gone too far with this ban.

Much of the controversy surrounding Dieudonne arises from his use of an alleged pro-Nazi gesture, the quenelle.  The WJC report noted:

The ‘quenelle’ gesture – holding one hand to the chest or shoulder, with the other extended rigidly downward, [is] like a lowered Nazi salute. Dieudonné’s companion Noémie Montagne has patented the gesture, as well as the use of its name for beverages, a television network and a public relations company.

The quenelle gesture was used by Nicolas Anelka, French Soccer star of the West Bromwich Albion English Premier League Soccer, team when scoring goals in a West Ham match.  Anelka Tweeted: “This gesture was a special dedication to my friend Dieudonné.”That gave rise to a Tweet from French Sports Minister, Valerie Fourneyron, who called it “Provocative”.   A WJC report cited European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor  urging  football’s governing bodies to punish Anelka as if he “had made the infamous outstretched arm salute” of the Nazis.

Dieudonné’s  loyal followers believe today’s legal battles, denied him  free speech.  In the US it could e considered protected speech under the First Amendment upheld under several Supreme Court decisions, beginning with the Brandenburg v. Ohio decision in 1969.

Prior to the reinstatement  today of the ban by the French Court of State, Dieudonné’s counsel Jacques Verdiersaid  was  cited by AFP  hastily saying:

 The judge’s ruling amounted to a “total victory”. A statement from the court said it did not regard the show as having “an attack on human dignity as its main object”.

Over 5,600 held tickets to the performance at the Zenith Theater in Nantes. Mayors in Bordeaux, Marseilles and Tours have banned Dieudonne’s performances in response to the order from French President Hollande and Interior Minister Valls.

Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala is the son of a French mother and Cameroonian father. He has made a career engaging in anti-Semitic references about the Holocaust, international Jewish control and inventing a Nazi-like gesture, the quenelle, mimicked by his followers. He has courted both far-right and far-left groups, as well as African and Muslim émigré communities in France.  Dieudonné had a Jewish partner, Eli Semour,  on TV and live performances. Dieudonné would appear in a KKK white sheet costume, while Semour would be decked out in a Nazi SS uniform. That was years ago. Now Semour is appalled at the depths of his former partner’s anti-Semitic routines.

One example of Dieudonne’s attacks on Jewish personalities was the case of French radio personality Patrick Cohen. The Wall Street Journal in its coverage of the most recent Dieudonné contretemps reported:

The latest controversy began last month, when state television channel France 2 broadcast footage captured by a hidden camera and showing Dieudonné commenting about French-Jewish radio anchor Patrick Cohen during a private performance.

“Me, you see, when I hear Patrick Cohen speak, I think to myself: Gas chambers…too bad,” the comedian was shown saying on stage. Dieudonné’s lawyers don’t dispute the video’s veracity.

Dieudonné’s remarks followed a previous remark by Mr. Cohen on a TV show that he was against hosting a number of “sick brains” in his morning radio shows, listing Dieudonné among others.

Later in December, Paris prosecutors said they had launched a preliminary probe against Dieudonné. In a TV interview, Mr. Cohen said he wouldn’t comment on the legal process. Dieudonné says the latest episode shows that France’s mainstream media has double standards over alleged racism.

“When it’s about blacks, people laugh, nobody bothers even though the pain and the misery are at least as deep,” Dieudonné said in a video posted on his YouTube channel.

Coinciding with this breaking news on Dieudonné and rising French Antisemitism, we interviewed yesterday Michel Gurfinkiel.  He is French journalist, author, founder and President of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative  think-thank in France. He is a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum.    Among issues covered in the conversation were French Jewry, rising anti-Semitism, French government initiatives and multi-cultural and Muslim émigré problems including the current controversy over Dieudonné.

At one point in our conversation we discussed a separate initiative by the Hollande government that was controversial. This was a draft posted on the government’s website directed at cultivating the anti-racist, African and Muslim émigré voting constituencies. The draft fostered recognition of multi-cultural origins of these groups effectively denying integration with French history, language and cultural values.  The ruckus the proposal caused led to the withdrawal of the draft.  Gurfinkiel characterized it as one more step towards national suicide. Meanwhile, he noted that young French Jews are increasingly committed towards aliyah to Israel, while others are moving into predominately safer Christian areas in France.  As Gurfinkiel put it, French Jewry, transformed by Holocaust survivors and émigrés expelled from former French Muslim possessions and other Islamic countries, feel threatened.  The Dieudonné episode is another expression of that threat.

Look for more insights from Gurfinkiel in our interview with him in the February 2014 edition of the NER.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

ACTION ALERT: ZOA calls for boycott of Emma Thompson’s “Saving Mr. Banks”

British actress Emma Thompson calls for boycotting Israel’s Habima theater. The least we can do is return the favor and boycott  her recent movie “Saving Mr. Banks” and any other movie she stars in.

The following is the ZOA press release giving the background and rationale for a boycott of Emma Thompson:

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned actress Emma Thompson and three dozen other British actors, for seeking the boycotting of Israel’s celebrated Habima Theater troupe, which is to perform later this year in a six-week theatrical festival taking place at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Thompson and her colleagues cite spurious human rights concerns but hypocritically fail to call for a boycott of the National Theater of China, which is participating in the same festival. The ZOA has condemned Thompson and urged people to boycott her recently-released movie, Saving Mr. Banks.

In a letter to the British Guardian newspaper, Thompson and her colleagues accused Habima of having  “a shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory [sic] … By inviting Habima, Shakespeare’s Globe is undermining the conscientious Israeli actors and playwrights who have refused to break international law … by inviting Habima, the Globe is associating itself with policies of exclusion practised by the Israeli state and endorsed by its national theatre company … We ask the Globe to withdraw the invitation so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land” (Nathan Burstein, ‘Oscar winner Emma Thompson calls for Israeli theater’s ban,’ Times of Israel, April 1, 2014).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We condemn  Emma Thompson and her colleagues for their advocacy of boycotting Israel’s famed Habima Theater. Their call is in no way justified, or in any way less serious or worthy of condemnation, because Habima has refused to boycott a cultural center that opened in Ariel.

“Jews have a perfect right in law and morality to live and build homes and communities in Judea and Samaria, part of the territory earmarked for Jewish settlement at the 1920 San Remo Conference. Contrary to Thompson’s ignorant/malicious claim of illegality, the right of Jews to live and settle in these territories has never been extinguished by any subsequent, legally binding international agreement. Moreover, under the Oslo II agreement, it was specifically stated in Chapter 3, Article 17 that the Jewish communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza would remain under Israeli jurisdiction, pending a final peace agreement. In other words, the PA itself has signed a legally binding agreement that explicitly accepts the existence of Jewish communities under Israeli control.

“Jewish growth in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem has a fundamental legitimacy and poses no obstacle to a true peace if Palestinians are ready for one, so the repeated, periodic international calls for a Jewish construction freeze, or the removal of Jewish communities, or the boycott and ostracism of anyone who fails to oppose their existence, would remain inappropriate even if the prospect of genuine peace negotiations with a truly peaceful Palestinian partner were possible.

“Why may not 300,000 Jews live among 2 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria while 1.2 million Arabs live among 6 million Jews in Israel? Emma Thompson and her colleagues are displaying ignorance and prejudice in working towards a world in which Jews are banned from and expelled from their religious, historical and legal homeland.

“These people claim to be concerned about justice and peace. But one never hears them criticize the Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or their rejection of the 2000 Clinton peace plan, or their resort to a wave of terror. They never issue statements demanding that the PA end terror and incitement to hatred and murder against Israel – the demonization of Jews does not disturb these haters of the Jewish state and expose their own vicious bias, dressed up as concern for human rights.

“We also note the rank hypocrisy of Thompson and her ilk condemning Habima and seeking its boycott –– but having no problem with the National Theater of China participating in the same festival, even though China’s observance of human rights is, to put it mildly, abysmal.

“Emma Thompson and these other actors are clearly people who, because they are celebrities, enjoy unmerited influence and ability to publicize their political views. This places an even greater responsibility on them to think carefully before speaking on political matters, which they have clearly failed. They deserve to be condemned and shunned by the Jewish, pro-Israel community and all other people of goodwill. We urge everyone to boycott Emma Thompson’s current movie, Saving Mr. Banks.”

How many of the Communist Goals have Democrats implemented? You will be surprised!

The communists don’t have to overrun the United States of America.  The Democrats are doing it for them.  Here are just the some of the forty-five Communist Goals read into the Congressional Record in 1963 that have already happened. The full list is below my video:

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Congressional Record–Appendix, pp. A34-A35

January 10, 1963

Current Communist Goals

EXTENSION OF REMARKS OF HON. A. S. HERLONG, JR. OF FLORIDA IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Thursday, January 10, 1963

Mr. HERLONG. Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Patricia Nordman of De Land, Fla., is an ardent and articulate opponent of communism, and until recently published the De Land Courier, which she dedicated to the purpose of alerting the public to the dangers of communism in America.

At Mrs. Nordman’s request, I include in the RECORD, under unanimous consent, the following “Current Communist Goals,” which she identifies as an excerpt from “The Naked Communist,” by Cleon Skousen:

[From “The Naked Communist,” by Cleon Skousen]

CURRENT COMMUNIST GOALS

1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.

2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.

3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.

4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.

5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.

6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.

7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.

8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev’s promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.

9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.

10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.

11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the U.N. as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other as they are now doing in the Congo.)

12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.

13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.

14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.

15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.

16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.

17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.

18. Gain control of all student newspapers.

19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.

20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.

21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.

22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.”

23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”

24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.

25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.

26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”

27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”

28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”

29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.

30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”

31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.” Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.

32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture–education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.

33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.

34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.

36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.

37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.

38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].

39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.

40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.

41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.

42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use [“]united force[“] to solve economic, political or social problems.

43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.

44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.

45. Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction [over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction] over nations and individuals alike.

Common Core: What’s behind Arne Duncan’s Race Card?

A stated goal of Common Core has been closing “the achievement gap” that exists largely between inner-city and suburban schools, and white and minority students. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan let slip a key aim: equalizing educational outcomes by redefining proficiency. Objective measurements as traditional letter grades A through F are also being abandoned.

During a November speech, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan claimed that opposition to the “Common Core State Standards” was coming from “white, suburban moms” upset because their children were no longer as “brilliant” and their schools no longer as “good” as they thought they were.

Duncan’s statement increased pushback to Common Core and its unconstitutional mandated “standards” for math and English Language Arts, national testing, and data tracking of students and teachers. Michelle Malkin, calling herself a “brown, suburban mom,” swung back in a column. A group called MAD, Moms against Duncan, gathered 2,000 members in two days.

The Secretary of Education was blaming their children for being confused by math assignments that involve byzantine drawings and narratives, complicating straightforward math problems. Students who mastered the math got no or only partial credit, but those who had only a partial grasp could get credit for explanations and drawings. Algebra has moved from eighth grade to ninth. Conversely, younger students are asked to do developmentally inappropriate tasks, like “collaborate.” And “informational texts” replace much of the literary reading.

Duncan’s “apology,” issued the following Monday as a blog post titled, “High standards for All Schools and Students, Everywhere,” only admitted that he had used “some clumsy phrasing.” In fact, Duncan doubled down on his original point. He again attributed the drops in scores to “a result of a more realistic assessment of students’ knowledge and skills”—in other words, to students’ shortcomings that earlier tests were incapable of discerning. He redeployed the sales pitches of “higher standards,” widely supported by teachers (through unspecified “surveys”) and “leaders from both sides of the aisle.”

Claiming “Other countries are rapidly passing us by in preparing their students,” Duncan disingenuously turned his original statement around by saying, “we want more for all students.

A stated goal of Common Core has been closing “the achievement gap” that exists largely between inner-city and suburban schools, and white and minority students. Duncan let slip a key aim: equalizing educational outcomes by redefining proficiency.

Academic measurements through assessments and grades are being changed. Eliminating competition through objective standards has been the career goal of radical educators, the most famous perhaps, Bill Ayers.

Bill Ayers does not have an official post in the Department of Education, but his close colleague, Stanford Education Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, does. After serving as head of Obama’s education transition team, she was put in charge of developing one of the two national Common Core tests.

While Ayers rails wildly against testing, recalling the school-as-prison metaphor from his Weatherman days, Darling-Hammond is more circumspect. In journal articles she has expressed goals that align with the stated goal of “closing the achievement gap” posted on the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign site. In the Summer 2009Harvard Educational Review, she heralded the Obama administration’s “opportunity to transform our nation’s schools.” What drew her to the Obama campaign, she wrote, was, “a sincerity and a depth of commitment to education, a genuine concern for improving the quality of teaching and learning, an intolerance of a status quo that promotes inequality, and a drive to move our education system into the twenty-first century—not only in math, science, and technology but also in developing creativity, critical thinking skills, and the capacity to innovate—a much needed change from the narrow views of the last eight years” (emphases added).

She reasserted her commitment to such “creative” attributes in the April 28, 2010, issue of Education Week, promising that her new “balanced assessment system” would go “beyond recall of facts and show students’ abilities to evaluate evidence, problem solve and understand contexts.” Importantly, this new testing would serve to end “inequality.”

Darling-Hammond’s definition of “inequality” is radical: it means outcomes, not just opportunity. In a December 2008 Phi Delta Kappan article, “Assessment for Learning Around the World,” she wrote, “The integration of curriculum, assessment, and instruction in a well-developed teaching and learning system creates the foundation for much more equitable and productive outcomes.”

The questions released by Darling-Hammond’s group, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, attempt to assess the elusive “creativity, critical thinking skills, and the capacity to innovate” that she named in her Harvard Education Review article. The sample questions were empty of content and provided much opportunity forsubjective grading.

Darling-Hammond’s model follows those of five California high schools that she and Diane Friedlander described in an article for the May 2008 issue of Educational Leadership, “Creating Excellent and Equitable Schools.” In it, Darling-Hammond castigates high schools that track and place students on academic scales as based on “the 20th-century factory model.” In contrast, the June Jordan School for Equity employs “a project-based college preparatory curriculum infused with social-justice and civic-engagement themes,” relying on community-service internships and work portfolios. Leadership High School similarly “focuses on creating community leaders”; portfolios and projects ensure “equitable outcomes for all students.”

In a 2010 article liberally citing Ayers heroes, John Dewey, Maxine Greene, and Paulo Freire, “Documentation and Democratic Education,” co-written with Beverly Falk, Darling-Hammond promoted similar “documentary practices” that help “students to understand themselves and each other, both as learners and as members of a collective community” (Theory Into Practice). Invoking Marxist Paulo Freire’s “pedagogy for empowerment,” described in Teachers as cultural workers, Darling-Hammond and Falk urge teachers to “truly see students” by learning “to look and listen carefully and non-judgmentally. . . .”

Under this model, the teacher is a “facilitator” helping students to develop and answer their own questions, and “ultimately, manage and guide their own learning” based on everyday events. This kind of teaching emphasizes “looking and listening rather than quizzing and telling.” Such “documentary” assessments require teachers to record students’ bursts of creativity, insights, or problems.

But the results of such alternative assessments have been disastrous, when measured by current standards. The 2010 statistics for the June Jordan School for Social Equity, one of the five schools noted in Darling-Hammond’s Educational Leadership article, are damning. The enrollment stood at only 194, but the city-data.com school rating for test scores gave it a 7, out of a possible 100 in 2010. That year, the school did even not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress Report and had not met AYP since 2005. The “equitable outcomes” have been across the bottom.

The recent downward spiral with Common Core assessments, especially in New York State, seems to indicate a trend in the same direction. Secretary Duncan claimed that plummeting scores were an indication of “a more realistic assessment of students’ knowledge and skills.” But what does Duncan mean by “realistic assessments”?

On April 30, at the annual American Educational Research Association (AERA) meeting (with Darling-Hammond and Bill Ayers listed as participants), Duncan promised that the new assessments would diagnose problems and would measure “non-cognitive skills.” In other words, students’ attitudes and behaviors would be monitored. The measurement of such “soft skills” through psychologically invasive means has raised alarms.

Objective measurements as traditional letter grades A through F are also being abandoned.

Joan Tornow, Ph.D., a “Federal Way-based curriculum specialist” in a blog post announced that “As we adapt to the Common Core, our traditional grading system of A-F is on the chopping block, and rightfully so.” Defying logic – or standard word definitions – she writes, “Our A-F grading system has been built on the assumption that it is natural for only a certain percentage of students to excel.” For Tornow, it seems that all students should excel, and they will under Common Core’s “Standards-based education (SBE).”

According to Tornow, with SBE, “students are not ranked against their classmates—or sorted like so many potatoes or apples. Rather, students are evaluated in terms of progress towards objective standards.” The word “objective” too is redefined – to mean having each student “achieve his or her potential.” Tornow calls standards-based education “part of a national vision in which education is more democratic and effective.”

In an interview on NPR recently, Alissa Peltzman, vice president for state policy for Achieve, the well-connected nonprofit that put together Common Core, noted that many districts across the country were moving to standards-based grading. Brian Stack, a New Hampshire principal, described the new system at his high school as consisting of E, M, IP, LP, NM, NYC (not yet competent), and IWC (insufficient work shown).

At a New Hampshire elementary school, a four-point scale is used, with numbers being assigned for various abilities like skills, homework, participation, and paying attention. The principal maintains that the new system has the advantage of being able to point out a bad work ethic, even when the student is getting a good grade.

One thinks back to Duncan’s promise to measure “non-cognitive skills.” Is this a way to help ease grade disparities, to award points for behavior?

Indeed, the Common Core standards themselves reward behavior – but conformist behavior. “Literacy” skills require students grades 3 through 8 to: “Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on [appropriate grade] topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.” The criteria are similar for high school.

Reward for such collective behavior is part of the new assessment strategy. Bill Ayers complains about schools “sorting” students, and so do less notorious educators working in and with the Obama administration’s Department of Education. Ensuring “equality of outcome,” however, is not the answer.

RELATED COLUMN: Obama DOJ’s Message To Schools: Singling Out Blacks For Poor Behavior Is ‘Racist’

Common Core, Equality of Outcome, the Heavy Hand of Ed

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about the dangers of confusing equal rights with equal outcomes.  Our system of justice is based on the rights of the individual.  We believe in rewarding individual merit, in school and on the job.  But the U.S. Department of Education is intent on guaranteeing equality of outcomes and is pulling the race card.

First, came the comment by Arne Duncan in November about the “white suburban moms” being upset that Common Core “standards” were revealing that their kids weren’t as “brilliant” as they thought they were.  I don’t think too many people have noticed (or maybe haven’t wanted to say), but a large part of the new crazy Common Core  standards concerns equalizing academic outcomes.

When you give points for creativity, explanations about how you got the wrong answer, and agreeing with “diverse” views, you can ensure equitable outcomes in grades.  That has been the career goal of Linda Darling-Hammond, Obama’s education transition director, who has been in charge of creating one of the two national Common Core tests.  I look at some of her articles and take apart the standards in today’s article, “Common Core: What’s Behind Arne Duncan’s Race Card?,” at the Selous Foundation.

Equality of outcomes in grades is scary, but equality of outcomes in school discipline is terrifying.  But the Department of Education is teaming up with the Department of Justice with a new policy.  We’ve all heard the stories about bullies, right?  The new policy includes “social and emotional learning” for bullies, “restorative justice,” and ending the “school to prison pipeline” (as if the infractions themselves were caused by the schools).  This is truly chilling, and frightening, especially for a child going to a school where administrators are afraid to punish kids for fear of lawsuits for racial discrimination from the feds. The Department of Justice already gives preferential treatment to certain groups.  Remember the case of the intimidation by the Black Panthers at a polling place during the 2008 election?  Now it’s coming into our schools and interfering with our ability to keep them safe for all kids.  For this administration it’s not enough that punishment is meted out equally according to the infraction, but that groups, according to race and ethnicity, are punished equally in a statistical manner.

The federal government is imposing itself through the Department of Education on two fronts: classroom content through Common Core and discipline through the Department of Justice.

The fight is about education, and more.  It’s about maintaining local control, and maintaining our justice system and our values.  To get insights and strategies about the political angle, read www.tinatrent.com.  Read her latest post, on the “listening tours,” “Common Core: It Will Take a Village to Fight a Village.”  Our politicians need to do more than “listen.”  Tina will tell us how to get them to.

RELATED COLUMN: Obama DOJ’s Message To Schools: Singling Out Blacks For Poor Behavior Is ‘Racist’

The GOP Needs Major PR Shot in the A _ _!

As someone who started out his career as a newspaper reporter and editor, discovering that those in public relations pitching their stories were making much more, it didn’t take long for me to enter that profession. For me, the truth is always the best PR.

As the mainstream print and broadcast media’s editors and reporters filled up with those graduating from the schools and universities of the 1960s and since, it became more and more obvious that reporting anything fairly and honestly about the Republican Party and its candidates was a very low priority. Many arrived at their job with a negative image firmly intact.

Take civil rights. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican. It was the Republican Party that came into being largely in opposition to slavery and it was the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, who put in motion the freeing of slaves.

That was followed for a century by a Democratic Party that, in the South, existed to oppress blacks and deprive them of the Constitutional rights. And yet blacks are a major part of the party’s coalition!

The Democratic Party is most identified with the 1930s Great Depression era in which Franklin Delano Roosevelt instituted government spending as a way out of the economic doldrums and led the creation of Social Security, followed by Medicare and Medicaid under Lyndon Johnson, but it took World War Two to break free of the Depression and the two social programs are, for all intents and purposes, insolvent and will be without some reform.

When Americans wanted to see the economy improve they elected Republicans like Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and the Bush father and son. Bush43, serving when 9/11 occurred and initiating two Middle East conflicts, added five trillion over two terms. Obama added six trillion in his first term.

Obama has set some kind of record for refusing to negotiate with Republicans in Congress and his namesake “legacy” legislation, Obamacare, was passed in 2009 without a single Republican vote. If you have been negatively affected by it, keep in mind it is a totally Democratic Party bill with origins that reach back to Hillarycare in the 1990s and earlier.

One gets different figures regarding the membership of the two parties but one source says fifty-five million belong to the Republican Party. That is less than the seventy-two million in the Democratic Party.

A record 42% of Americans now identify themselves as independents, the highest since Gallup began measuring this over the past 25 years. Republican identification fell to 25%, the lowest ever over the time span. Democratic identification, 31%, has remained the same, unchanged from the last four years, but down from 36% in 2008. Americans are bailing out of the two-party system.

When I was growing up in the 1940s and 50s, the “image” of the Republican Party was one composed of upper class, country club and corporate members. I think that “image” remains to this day. The choice of Mitt Romney in the 2012 election reinforced it. Ironically, he lost because several million Republicans stayed home on Election Day. Why? Because serious Republicans—conservatives—did not see a party or a candidate that vigorously defended their core values and the policies they want enacted. What victories the GOP had in 2012 were as often as not the result of the infusion of new blood called Tea Party candidates.

There were other factors such as the growing diversity of the American population and the Republican Party is not reaching out to them. They don’t receive much support from the black population, but neither did they garner much from Hispanics and Asians. If the Republican Party is only interested in white people, they will continue to lose elections.

What worries me most as 2014 begins is what passes for the leadership of the Republican Party. Neither John Boehner, nor Mitch McConnell, majority leader in the House and minority leader in the Senate, have any support. A Public Policy poll in November of Republicans gave only 15% to Boehner and 4% to McConnell.

From the point of view of a public relations counselor, I can tell you that, in addition to the bias of the mainstream media, the Democrats have waged a far more successful PR program against the Republicans for a very long time. It is the Democrats who have portrayed the Republican Party as anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, and anti-poor. These are lies, but the sheer repetition has been effective.

The GOP wants the government to spend less because, if it doesn’t, the nation’s financial system will collapse, but I suspect many Americans have not grasped this simple truth, particularly if they are among those receiving a government check of some kind and nearly half of the population is.

Republicans want to avoid the disaster of Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” that did not end it, but did expand the welfare system. It took a Republican Congress during the Clinton years that reformed welfare, even though Clinton, of course, now takes credit for it.

In 2014 Obama will talk endlessly about “income inequality.” There is no such thing in the real world. There are people who earn more because they are worth more, are more productive, provide services people want, or have taken on the risks involving investment and business development. What he never mentions is “income mobility”, the ability to earn more. Obama is, in fact, crushing the middle class. Obamacare is filled with hidden taxes, higher costs, and fines.

When the GOP opposed the raising of the borrowing limit yet again, leading to the shutdown, it was widely said that it hurt their image even though it was Obama who had ended the White House tours in response to sequestration limits and, during the shutdown, ordered that veterans be kept from visiting their open air memorial in the nation’s capital. Who’s cold-blooded? Obama or a GOP trying to save the nation from dangerous levels of government spending and borrowing?

The Republican Party is in trouble because the nation is in trouble. We live in a nation where the annual killing of a million unborn babies is regarded as okay by a large part of the population in which the number who believe in God is decreasing. By contrast, traditional supporters of the Republican Party are southern, white, evangelical Christians.

When 2013 began, the Republican Party’s “image” was at a historical low; according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 62% of the public regarded the GOP as out of touch with the American people, 56% thought it was not open to change, and 52% thought it was too “extreme.” The GOP’s favorable rating has not been above 50% since shortly after George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004, a decade ago.

Ironically, Republicans are more critical of their party than Democrats! They do, however, credit it for its strong principles “and 80% of Republicans say their party is looking out for the country’s long-term future.” They’re right.

If the Republican Party needs assistance to get its message out, the Democratic Party has given it a gift that will keep on giving all the way to the 2014 midterm elections in November and beyond to 2016’s national elections. Nothing has demonstrated the arrogance, duplicity, and total incompetence of the Democratic Party and the Obama administration than Obamacare. The GOP must commit openly and repeatedly to repealing it.

What worries me most as 2014 begins is what passes for the leadership of the Republican Party. Neither Boehner, nor McConnell, have any support. A Public Policy poll in November of Republicans gave only 15% to Boehner and 4% to McConnell.

Worse still, McConnell on an Oct 30 conference call organized by Karl Rove’s Crossroads organization for large donors said that the Tea Party movement, in his view, is “nothing but a bunch of bullies” that he plans to “punch in the nose.” Boehner has expressed similar animosity. In effect GOP elites have declared war on the Tea Party movement. There is no PR that can justify such stupidity and arrogance.

The Republican National Party has to begin to raise the funds to craft a campaign of television commercials that will improve the party’s image in 2014. Its candidates will need to talk about Obamacare until they are blue in the face.

© Alan Caruba, 2014