Will you see an American Reformation? It Depends on When You Were Born!

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” – Ronald Reagan

My Father was born in 1901 and was too young for World War One and too old to serve in World War Two. A gentle, quiet man, he would have been a terrible soldier. My older brother, however, was inducted in the U.S. Army and served during the Korean conflict. In the 1960s I served during a period of peace despite Cold War tensions.

In 1973, the U.S. ended military conscription, opting for an all-volunteer force. Those that chose to serve found themselves in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Earlier there were some minor engagements such as Panama in 1989. It was 9/1 that changed everything.

The thing about wars is that, if a nation wants to invade another one, all the laws and treaties mean nothing. One of the most useless international organizations, the United Nations, has a long record of not deterring all manner of wars, large and small, past and present. Then, too, wars are usually preceded by lies the aggressor puts forth to justify the action and much of what occurs is protected by a body of lies. The winner gets to write the history.

The last century had wars that killed millions, many of whom were civilians. A new generation is witnessing a Syrian war whose casualties now number 170,000. Two million Syrians are now refugees; a potential threat to the stability of Lebanon and Jordon. Both sides of the conflict have perpetrated horrors, but the use of poison gas by President Assad, a major crime against humanity, has not resulted in any loss of his power. Russia stepped in to give him cover. His other ally is Iran. Ukraine is likely to split between East and West.

The conflicts of the current century could escalate into even more massive loss of lives because nuclear weapons and poison gas have the capability of killing more people than the bombs of the last century.

Significantly, it took two atomic bombs to convince the Japanese leaders to surrender, but not until thousands died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The good news is that no atomic bombs have been used since. The bad news is that there a crazies like the Supreme Leader of Iran whose Islamic fanaticism cannot be counted upon to preclude his use of a nuclear weapon against Israel. Or us.

What is curious, foolish, and displays a huge ignorance of history is the way President Obama and his minions have been reducing America’s military. It has been American power that kept the Cold War with the former Soviet Union from turning into a hot war and it was that power that was instrumental in causing others to avoid military confrontations with us. Congress has to set aside the sequestration limits that affect our military strength and get busy rebuilding our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. It should do so tomorrow!

The generation that served in World War Two and in the Korean conflict is no longer represented by those serving in Congress. Older members have passed away or retired. The present Congress—particularly its Democratic Party members—are some of the dumbest and most duplicitous politicians to have ever served there.

Like the President, they do not hesitate to lie and to spin whatever occurs. In a nation almost evenly divided politically, it will take a shift by the moderates and independents in the center to transfer complete political power in Congress to the Republican Party. Then we have to hope the GOP will more strongly embrace its principles to undo the damage done by the two elections of Obama and thwart further damage in his remaining two years in office.

The newest generations of voters and those who have been around awhile have been living through a period in which they have been ill-served by a Congress that spent and borrowed too much. Congress did the same during the Great Depression through which my parents lived. It prolonged it from 1929 to 1941 when we entered WWII. One can only hope that those graduating from college with big loans and no job prospects will vote to put a stop to that. Joining them will be the Baby Boomers, many of whom also cannot find work or cannot retire.

We are living through our own Great Depression for the same reasons Franklin D. Roosevelt’s solutions did not work. It is the private sector, not the government that determines the health and growth of the economy. In our case, we have been a major economic power, number one since 1872. On August 5, 2011, the nation’s top credit rating was downgraded. The lesson from that event was lost on too many people.

That too many do not learn from history or are simply ignorant of it explains a lot about our present times.

No discussion of our present times would be complete without a look at one of the greatest legislative catastrophes, Obamacare, ever imposed. It will likely prove to be the final nail in the Democratic Party coffin for a while. It is a classic example of the liberal desire to control the most intimate aspects of our lives, our health and the care it requires, combined with the insane need to fashion legislation so complex that it cannot work. Worse, it will likely kill off large numbers of its alleged beneficiaries, particularly the old; denied or delayed access to nearby hospitals, their personal physicians, et cetera.

Obamacare is doomed. It will be repealed. A return of healthcare to the private sector will do what no amount of government ever can. It is fundamentally unconstitutional to require people to purchase something they do not want.

America may be at a significant turning point. Having indulged every government program to their near extinction—Social Security and Medicare are closing in on insolvency—we may return to more self-reliance, fiscal prudence, and less reliance on a government grown too large to do anything well.

It depends on when you were born whether you will live to see this occur. I likely will not.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

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Does Hollywood and America Finally Get It About Sharia?

Hollywood and perhaps America may finally get it about what constitutes Sharia, Islamic law. This week liberals, feminists and the mainstream media figures are even publicizing it. That may be sucking the media oxygen from accusations of Islamophobia by Muslim advocacy groups like CAIR, Emerge USA, and United Voices for America.  This was a perfect storm triggered by the conjunction of the Sultan of Brunei, who owns the Beverly Hills Hotel with Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres and mainstream feminists marching in outraged protests against Sharia at the fabled Hollywood Pink Palace.

Couple this with the rising national outrage about 300 Nigerian girls abducted by Boko Haram and revelations that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn’t seize the opportunity to designate the Jihadist group as a terrorist organization when afforded an opportunity to do so. Especially since Boko Haram (“Non-Muslim Teaching Is Forbidden” in English when translated from the Hausa language) has allegedly raised funds here in the US. That was noted on last night’s FoxNews, The Kelly File by host Megyn Kelly  with Brooke Goldstein of The Lawfare Project. See the You Tube video of that segment, here and this Fox News report, “Hillary Fought to keep Boko Haram off the Terrorist List.” The US  has designated  Boko Haram leader Abubakir Shekau a “global terrorist” and placed a $7 Million bounty on him.

The protests against the Beverly Hills Hotel were the flash point for Hollywood recognition and protests of Sharia largely because the Sultan of Brunei formally adopted Sharia for his Sultanate’s criminal code affecting women, gays and all infidels. Already those protests have resulted in the cancellation of 20 events at the Hollywood landmark producing a loss of $2 million in revenues. See the WSJ report on the protest at the fabled Hollywood “Pink Palace”: “Politics Engulf Famed Beverly Hills Hotel“.

What Leno and the rally protesters don’t realize is that Sharia may have already intruded in US state court decisions at both the lower and appellate levels.

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Couple that with the rising unease over the Boko Haram abduction and enslavement of the nearly 300 girls from the school in the Borno State in North Eastern Nigeria. Yesterday, we had the graphic image of First Lady Michelle Obama Tweeting a picture of her somber face holding hash-tag #Bring Back Our Girls.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s brilliant op ed in today’s  WSJ, “Boko Haram and the Kidnapped Schoolgirls,  lays bare how moderate Muslims’ silence  has abetted  the rise of Jihad in places like Mali, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, her homeland of Somalia  and even here in the West. Murderous acts committed by extremists like Abubakir Shekau, extolling the virtues of Islam’s exemplar, the Prophet Muhammad saying it is all about “I enjoy killing anyone that God commands me to kill, the way I enjoy killing chickens and rams.”  Ali at the conclusion of her oped notes:

I am often told that the average Muslim wholeheartedly rejects the use of violence and terror, does not share the radicals’ belief that a degenerate and corrupt Western culture needs to be replaced with an Islamic one, and abhors the denigration of women’s most basic rights. Well, it is time for those peace-loving Muslims to do more, much more, to resist those in their midst who engage in this type of proselytizing before they proceed to the phase of holy war.

It is also time for Western liberals to wake up. If they choose to regard Boko Haram as an aberration, they do so at their peril. The kidnapping of these schoolgirls is not an isolated tragedy; their fate reflects a new wave of jihadism that extends far beyond Nigeria and poses a mortal threat to the rights of women and girls. If my pointing this out offends some people more than the odious acts of Boko Haram, then so be it.

Next weekend, May 17th, there will be the first US Prayer March in Orlando March  Against  Persecution of Christians.  that we posted on our  Iconoclast blog post, “Join The March Against  Persecution of Christians  In Orlando on May 17th.” Nina Shea of the Washington, DC-based Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom has obtained 200 signatures of the heads of mainstream and Evangelical Christian groups on a petition Against Persecution of Christians in support of a bi-partisan effort led by US Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia in the House. See this Fox News report, “American Christians Pledge Solidarity with Persecuted Christians in Egypt, Iraq and Syria“.  Perhaps Shea was too  limited  in the  scope of  the petition on persecution of Christians in the Middle East.  Late news out  of Pakistan reported protests of the killing of a lawyer defending a Pakistani Christian. This was the latest outrage following last month’s death sentences handed down by a Pakistani court in another trumped up case against a Christian couple, because Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan criminalize any alleged criticism of the Prophet Mohammed and Islam. See Voice of America, “Pakistani Lawyers protest Killing of Rashid Rehmin.” Many Pakistani Christians falsely accused of Blasphemy are murdered by extra-judicial vigilantes.

The coincidence of protests in Hollywood and Washington over Sharia in Brunei and Jihad against innocent Nigerian girls by the murderous Boko Haram may have a positive effect on recent legislation passed by both chambers of the Florida legislature in the final week of the 2014 session, Senate Bill 386. Should  this landmark legislation  be enacted   it would provide protection against intrusive foreign laws thereby preserving the fundamental Constitutional rights of women, children and all Floridians.  If enacted it may serve as a model for consideration by other states.

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

The Real Cost of Healthcare: Questions Not Asked or Answered

A quick review of current literature on healthcare costs and healthcare cost containment is not a very productive use of one’s time.  Within minutes of beginning a review of the published literature, the researcher quickly finds himself so deep into the weeds that it is impossible to make any sense of what is being conveyed.

Throughout the entire public debate over the efficacy of Obamacare, no one seemed to be asking the pertinent questions.  No one has asked, why is healthcare so expensive, and who gets all that money?

I can recall once reading a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a Southeast Asian family who arrived in Philadelphia with their infant daughters… Siamese twins joined at the abdomen. Upon examination by a team of surgeons and pediatricians, doctors concluded that it would be possible to surgically separate the twins and that, after a period of recovery, the two little girls could expect to live happy and productive lives.

But then one of the reporters asked the operative question.  The Asian family had no healthcare insurance and very little money, so the question arose, how much would the estimated eleven-hour procedure cost?  The hospital spokesman responded, quite matter-of-factly, saying, “About a million dollars.”

No one batted an eye; no one questioned the estimate and no one asked for a cost breakdown.  Yet, it is necessary to ask, who gets all that money?  How many physicians would participate in the separation procedure?  How many nurses?  What would be the cost of disposable medical equipment?  What would be the cost of post-operative care?  A million dollars is a hell of a lot of money for an eleven-hour surgical procedure and a month or so of post-operative pediatric care.

If we assume five attending physicians… two surgeons, an anesthetist, an obstetrician, and a pediatrician… at $1,000 each per hour for eleven hours, the cost for physician’s services would come to $55,000.  If we assume five operating room and neo-natal nurses at $100 per hour for eleven hours, the cost of nursing care would come to $5,500.  If we assume a cost of $1,000 per hour for the use of the operating theater, the cost of surgical facilities would come to $11,000.  And if we assume a cost of $5,000 for drugs, medicines, and miscellaneous medical equipment, the direct costs accumulated on the day of the separation procedure would come to $76,500.

Then, if we assume a post-operative stay of 30 days for the twins, at $400 each, per day, for a bassinette in neo-natal recovery, that cost would come to $24,000.  And if we assume a cost of $1,000 per day to have surgeons look in on their patients, $500 per day for nursing care, and $500 per day for miscellaneous medicines, food, and diapers, the total cost of post-operative care would come to $84,000.  That would bring the total cost of the separation procedure and the post-op care to $160,500.

All of these estimated costs and daily and hourly rates are admittedly inflated.  So if the hospital prepares an invoice for $1,000,000, who gets the other $839,500?

No one in Congress, the White House, or in the mainstream media is asking the operative question that needs to be addressed.  No one is asking why healthcare is so expensive.  No one is asking, who gets all that money?

A part of the answer to that question was suggested by a recent caller to the Rush Limbaugh radio show.  The caller was a bookkeeper in the finance department of a major hospital; her husband was an orthopedic surgeon who practiced at the same hospital.  The woman explained that each time an orthopedic surgeon performed a hip-joint or knee-joint replacement, he/she was paid a flat rate of $1,250 for their time and talent.  However, when the manufacturer billed the hospital $8,000 for a prosthetic hip joint, the hospital routinely billed the patient, or the patient’s insurance company, $32,000… a 300% markup for the hardware.

Over the past three or four years, a close friend and neighbor has survived a serious bout with cancer.  And although I am unaware of the total cost of his cancer treatments by local physicians and cancer specialists at the M.D. Anderson Clinic in Houston, I am aware that the bill for his bone marrow transplant procedure came to approximately $1.2 million.

Again, how many physicians and nurses actually saw him?  How many hours did they spend treating him?  What was the actual cost of a few hours of operating room usage?  How was that $1.2 million split up between a few doctors, a few nurses, a few lab technicians, and the clinic itself?   Who got all that money?

In recent weeks, Dr. Tom Coburn has announced that he will retire from the U.S. Senate with two years remaining on his current term.  Dr. Coburn is one of the two or three finest members of the U.S. Senate and his departure will be a great loss to Oklahomans and to the country.  Unfortunately, Dr. Coburn suffers from cancer and is undergoing treatment at M.D. Anderson in Houston.  What caught my attention was a recent statement by Dr. Coburn, saying that each time he has a consultation at M.D. Anderson, he is billed for $32,000.

Again, how many physicians and nurses actually see him on each visit?  How many hours do they spend treating him or evaluating his condition?  What is the actual cost of the tests he undergoes?  How is that $32,000 split up between a few doctors, a few nurses, a few lab technicians, and the clinic itself for just a few hours of their time?   If the same team of doctors, nurses, and technicians see even as few as eight patients a day, the total income generated would come to $256,000.  Who gets all that money?

Those who work in the healthcare industry… in hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices… always have a ready answer.  They claim that it is the cost of high-tech equipment and facilities that runs up the cost of healthcare.  Baloney!  There are few hospitals or clinics in the country that cannot obtain the most expensive items of diagnostic equipment, such as MRI machines, through local philanthropy.

And those large portraits of distinguished-looking men and women hanging on the walls of hospitals and surgical wings?  Those are not oil portraits of the hospital’s “Employee of the Month.”  No, those are the portraits of the men and women who have shared their wealth by donating millions of dollars to build a wing onto the local hospital and whose names are enshrined in concrete and marble over the front door.

What is needed is a complete understanding by all concerned… especially those of us who pay the bills… of how a single dollar bill makes its way through the healthcare system and how it is divvied up at the end of the day.  To do so, it would be necessary to conduct a complete micro-economic study of a select number of major medical facilities, identifying over a specified period of time the source of every dollar that comes in the front door, and the recipient of every dollar that goes out the back door.

In other words, in any overhaul of our healthcare system, our first order of business should be to figure out exactly who is bilking the system… who is getting rich, and who is being bankrupted in the process.  Compared to the actual direct cost of healthcare, the price that consumers are asked to pay is far out of balance… perhaps by a factor of as much as four or five.  So who gets all that money?

Early in his first term, Barack Obama promised that he and congressional Democrats would reshape the American healthcare system.  They promised to insure 40 million uninsured, to substantially reduce the cost of healthcare for everyone, to save the average family as much as $2,400 a year in out-of-pocket healthcare costs, to increase the quality of healthcare for all Americans, and to do it all without increasing the number of doctors, nurses, and hospitals.

No one with an I.Q. larger than their hat size would believe they could do what they promised.  But enough low-information Kool-Ade drinkers fell for Obama’s false promise and they elected him.  Now they have to live with what he, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid have produced.  When the small company and large company extensions granted by Obama expire sometime in 2016, or before, everyone will be able to see the disaster that Obamacare is.

It is likely that, beginning in 2015, a Republican-controlled House and Senate will be left with the task of cleaning up Obama’s mess.  And when they do we can only hope that they will be wise enough to begin by asking the question, who gets all the money that pours into the healthcare system?  Until we confront that question, real healthcare reform will be nothing more than an impossible dream.

US Department of Education’s War On School Choice in Florida

The Office of the Inspector General for the United States Department of Education, by their actions, seems to have a double standard for wrongdoing and impropriety concerning charter schools and public schools in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Last month, The Miami Herald reported that South Miami-based Academica Corp., Florida’s largest charter school management company, is being investigated by the USDOE for “potential conflicts of interests in its business practices.”

Charter school critics said the Inspector General’s findings were a reason to push back on HB 7083, the bill that could weaken the power of school districts over new charter schools. HB 7083 died in the House K-12 Education Committee.

Critics of charter schools and school choice were quick to pounce on the USDOE audit that spotted “potential,” but not proven and definite, improprieties akin to those committed by the school district in terms of bogus teacher evaluation training, teacher certification fraud, and test cheating at Miami Norland Senior High School.

Raquel_Regalado-2012

Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado

“Obviously, there are some serious questions about the way the system works in Florida. The prudent thing for the Legislature to do would be to wait for the federal government to finish its work [on the audit] and then consider changes to the charter school law,” said Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado.

Jeff Wright, of the Florida Education Association, concurred: “If an audit like this is going on, the Legislature should not give charter schools more opportunities to game the system.”

But Rep. Manny Diaz, the Hialeah Republican sponsoring the bill, who left his job with the M-DCPS last year to become dean of a private college managed by Academica, said his proposal would not open the door to questionable business practices.

“This is not about opening up the Wild Wild West. We want there to be controls [over charter schools]. We just want to make sure the controls are uniform and transparent,” said Diaz.

It is interesting how Ms. Regalado and Mr. Wright come out on an unsubstantiated issue concerning charter schools, but where do they stand on substantiated wrongdoing by Miami-Dade County Public Schools on bogus teacher evaluation training, teacher certification fraud, and test cheating at Miami Norland Senior High School, and why have they not been vocal on those issues?

Furthermore, and more disturbing, the whistle-blower, Mr. Trevor Colestock, reported these issues to the USDOE OIG and they have done nothing to address them. Neither the USDOE or state officials have held anyone from Miami Norland Senior or M-DCPS to account.

Is it because charter schools and proponents of school choice espouse innovative teaching and offer students freedom from the Common Core and other federal government mandates and M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho embraces Common Core, Race To the Top, and other federal initiatives?

Miami-Dade: Student, Not Teachers, Feels Heavy Hand of Justice

In Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), there exists a double standard by the school system and its police department when dispensing justice between students and teachers.

For evidence of this, examine the circumstances between a student, Jose Bautista, an 18 year old senior at Dr. Michael Krop Senior High School, and Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, two teachers at Miami Norland Senior High School. Each did something terribly wrong, each was treated very differently.

The question: Has justice been served?

According to a local news report, Mr. Bautista, was arrested and charged with eight felonies counts for allegedly obtaining the principal’s network password and offering to change grades for four students for an unknown sum of money. He was on track to graduate with his class at the end of May. On Friday, May 2nd, a judge set Bautista’s bond at $20,000 and ordered him to be placed under house arrest with a GPS monitor. He has since been released from jail.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools released a statement saying, “The school district takes incidents like this very seriously.  In addition to the arrest and ongoing criminal investigation, the Code of Student Conduct provides for corrective strategies up to and including recommendation for expulsion.”

It is unclear if Bautista will be allowed to graduate.

During the 2011-2012 school year, Mr. Fleurantin and Mrs. Muchnick gave the answers to standardized tests, industry certification exams, to a large number of students. Seventeen students confessed to this, some saying whole classes received the answers.

The Miami-Dade OIG Final Report concluded that, “Miami Norland has benefited in the form of attaining a higher school grade and may have received financial compensation or other benefit resulting from its high pass rate on the industry certification exams” (page 13).

With the assistance of cheating, undertaken by Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, Miami Norland’s school grade went from a “C” for the 2010-11 school year to an “A” for the 2011-12 school year.

As a result, total federal funds (SIG, RTTT) given out due to a grade influenced by cheating was $100,560; the total state funds per FSRP was between $130,000- $140,000; the total overall combined federal and state incentive funds were $230,560- $240,560.

Each teacher at Miami Norland Senior High School received $1730.41 from all three payouts.

On October 16, 2013, the Miami-Dade School Board voted to terminate Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin for his role in what has become known as Adobegate.

On November 19, 2013, the Miami-Dade School Board voted to suspend Mrs. Brenda Muchnick for 30 working days without pay for her role in Adobegate.

Mr. Fleurantin is still awaiting the results from his Department of Administrative Hearings case, and Mrs. Muchnick served her inconsequential 30 day suspension without pay and has been back to work at Norland Since January 8, 2014, whereas the whistle-blower, Trevor Colestock, was illegally removed from Norland and has yet to be returned.

Mr. Fleurantin and Mrs. Muchnick were both investigated by M-DCPS and Schools Police, but unlike the student Jose Bautista, both were not charged, handcuffed, or appeared before a judge.

How does Bautista, a student who did something juvenile yet serious, gets charged, cuffed, goes before a judge, has a $20,000 bond, confined to home with a GPS monitor, local media scrutiny, and now has a felony record for the rest of his days, but yet two teachers who should have known better were never charged, cuffed, appeared in court despite unduly influencing the school grade and caused, or attempted to cause, an erroneous $250,000 payout of state and federal incentive funds?

Fleurantin and Muchnick engaged in far more serious crimes than Bautista: multiple potential counts of using a computer to commit and perpetrate a fraud, wire fraud, defrauding (or attempting to defraud) an out of state corporation (Certiport, the test vendor), and defrauding (or attempting to defraud) the State of Florida and the federal government and the taxpayers thereof.

Perhaps Fleurantin and Muchnick got off easy because they were doing what they were told and/or their actions benefited the school district and school/district administrators across the board in terms of recognition, promotion, and pay, and Bautista gets the heavy hand of justice because his actions only benefited himself and not M-DCPS whatsoever.

RELATED STORY: Teacher caught on video manhandling kindergartner will make your blood boil

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of the Miami-Dade Sheriff’s office.

Parental Advisory Councils and Common Core: Who’s Advising Whom?

In my previous article on the “new Common Core democracy” I reported on my experiences at various public hearings where Georgia citizens were allowed to speak for one to three minutes. This included the November 2013 Georgia state school board meeting where their parent engagement program manager, Michelle Tarbutton Sandrock, , elaborated at length about the presumed benefits of January’s Georgia Family Engagement conference.

But what a bureaucrat means by parental engagement is quite different from real parental engagement. The latter involves a critical look at the official education policies Washington hands down to the state, then to school districts, and paid for with tax dollars. Parents who review curriculum and standards critically, who are really engaged and want more say over their children’s education, are politely ignored—or escorted away by police, as with Tracey and Mary Finney in Marietta, Georgia, who opted their children out of state tests.

Education bureaucrats use “parental engagement” efforts, funded by federal Title I appropriations, to promote their own policies, including Common Core. Chamber of Commerce-affiliated non-profits then join in to promote Common Core, which benefits their own membership.

The February 10 minutes for the first Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council, Title I Parent Meeting, held after the January Georgia family engagement conference show Sandrock announcing “the need to locate a parent to participate in a panel for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education Policy Fellowship Program in March.” GPEE is the same Chamber of Commerce-affiliated nonprofit that sent Dana Rickman to give a one-sided, confusing presentation of Common Core at the engagement conference.

The parent ultimately chosen for the March 19 colloquium was Capucine Pansy, 2013 Georgia Parent Leadership Award winner and State School Superintendent Parent Advisory Council (PAC) member.

State Chooses Parent ‘Advisors’
The Board of Education controls which parents serve on PACs. According to Matt Cardoza, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education, each school district nominates one candidate. A committee of Georgia Department of Education representatives then chooses committee members based on applicants’ response to questions.

The PAC meetings provide cover for a top-down process, while offering a charade of “accountability.” The meeting minutes indicate that State Superintendent John Barge “began the meeting by asking a PAC member to comment on their account of a state legislature meeting. Dr. Barge stressed the importance of parents and constituents being involved and holding legislators accountable.”

This statement is laughable, especially considering the vehemence with which Barge has denounced Common Core opposition at public forums and the fact that he serves on the GPEE board, alongside Henry Huckaby, chair of the Board of Regents, and Bobby Cagle, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. State Rep. Amy Carter (R-Valdosta), who hostilely questioned Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick), sponsor of Common Core withdrawal legislation, is listed on the website as “a long-time friend.” State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), a Common Core proponent, was a speaker at one of the GPEE parent colloquiums. The names affiliated with this organization make up many of those who testified against Ligon’s bill, including GPEE President Stephen Dolinger, former Fulton County (Atlanta) School Superintendent, and former Fairfax, Virginia, school superintendent, who earned a salary of $250,000 and $7,500 in bonuses in 2011. GPEE’s “media symposium” was held at Georgia Public Broadcasting, which is largely taxpayer supported.

The question-and-answer session at the February PAC meeting provided an opportunity for Barge negatively spin Ligon’s bill, as his response to the first question, “Is there a way to politicize education in Georgia?” reveals: “. . . . It is going to get worse if this passes the way that it’s written. It does not remove Georgia from the common core standards.” The legislation is Ligon’s bill (SB 167). According to Cardoza, “[Barge] meant that the politicizing of education would get worse if SB 167 passed as written.”

The Mantra: ‘Local Control’
In spite of obvious contradictions between national standards, sold as providing “consistency” for students who move between states, and the idea of “local control,” at the meeting Barge claimed repeatedly that Georgia is a local control state. He said, “The constitution in Georgia puts education in control of the local education agency. . . .”

Barge responded to another question: “Georgia has always been a local control state. Legislators have always had their ears to their constituents. A lot of it is driven by outside parties.”

Apparently, Barge was telling these parents that anti-Common Core legislation was coming from “outside parties.” Clearly, by the questions posed, these parents are not very knowledgeable. The next question was, “Are we in the minority of being locally controlled?”

Barge’s response: “I don’t know if we are in the minority. An elected superintendent is the people’s voice but they have no authority when it comes to the budget. It’s always a challenge.”

Well, yes, he is the voice of these carefully selected people.

Standard Sales Pitch
After these confusing questions, Barge asked if members had “gotten feedback about Common Core.” A few had. Barge stated, “I don’t think the Common Core is bad.” He made the oft-repeated and false claim that the states “voluntarily adopted the Common Core and they can change them whenever they want.” He said there was “misinformation” that applying for the Race to the Top stimulus funds required adoption of Common Core: “Our standards were already college and career ready. [Race to the Top and Common Core] are very closely aligned.’”

As was the case at the conference, the meeting minutes indicate Barge provided confusing explanations: “He stated that people often confuse standards, curriculum, and instructional resources. The curriculum is how you teach those standards, the resources is how you implement the standards. The state department designs the curriculum.”

This “explanation” echoes the confusing one parents heard at the Family Engagement Conference by GPEE’s Rickman and at forums across the state.

The Real Beneficiaries of “Parental Engagement”
The last agenda item was Sandrock’s debriefing on the Family Engagement Conference. According to the minutes, parents thought the best things included the food, door prize incentives to visit all of the exhibitors, the venue, and Stephen Constantino’s keynote speech. My impression was that parent volunteers had a good time at the three-day, expense-paid event.

But those in the loop, who earn speaking fees in addition to handsome salaries, benefit more. Constantino, like the current president of GPEE, hails from Virginia; he is superintendant of Williamsburg-James City School District. His $5,000 speaking fee was paid by one of the conference’s sponsors, Successful Innovations, Inc., a company based in Lynchburg, Virginia, and founded by two former principals and a literacy coach. Successful Innovations names as “proud partners” the National Head Start Association and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.

Sandrock told me that no tax dollars were spent on the conference. Maybe not directly, but sponsors stand to profit by selling products that Title I tax dollars buy. Successful Innovations’ products include something that looks like a day-timer for $90, a guide called “Preparing Your Child for College” for $79.99, and a DVD called “Helping Your Child with Homework” also for $79.99. The company provides full-day professional development training sessions for $4,000 to $5,000.

Successful Innovations then sponsored the Mid-Atlantic Family Engagement Conference, March 13-14, in Lynchburg, Virginia, and now sells the DVD for $75. The National Family and Community Engagement conference, held in April, featured many from the same roster of big government activist types that were involved in the Georgia conference.

It turns out that parent engagement offers a way to monetize one’s experience as a teacher, principal, or superintendent, and to sway “parent volunteers.” When other parents object to their school’s policies they face this entrenched network of government agencies, non-profits, and well-connected vendors and administrators.

These bureaucrats, however, need to hear from real “parental advisory councils”—parents and citizens organized to vote out school superintendents and other bureaucrats who keep our money flowing to their pet projects.

Image by USDOE.

Downsizing Australia’s Government and Repealing Green Laws

Try to imagine a commission of the U.S. government recommending that it get rid of the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, countless agencies, and, for good measure, restructure Medicare so it doesn’t go broke. There are few Americans who will argue that our federal government isn’t big enough and many who trace our present problems to Big Government.

That is why what has been occurring in Australia caught my attention because its voters rid themselves of a political party that imposed both a carbon tax and renewable energy tax on them. The purpose of the latter was to fund the building of wind turbines and solar farms to provide electricity.

Taxing carbon emissions—greenhouse gases—said to be heating the Earth has happily died in the U.S. Senate, but in Australia the taxes were a major reason that the Liberal Party (which is actually politically conservative despite its name) took power after a former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, pushed it and the renewable energy tax through its parliament.

Gillard became the first woman PM after she challenged then PM Kevin Rudd to lead the Labor Party (which is politically liberal.) Like John Kerry, Gillard was against the taxes before she was for them. How liberal is Rudd? In February he was named a senior fellow of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Like Obama, Rudd came out in favor of same-sex marriage when he was the PM.

Bjorn Lomborg, writing in The Australian in late April, noted that both of the taxes “have contributed to household electricity costs rising 110 percent in the past five years, hitting the poor the hardest.” I repeat—110 percent!

It didn’t take Australians long to discover what a disaster taxing carbon emissions was and how useless renewable energy is. In both cases the taxes were based on the notion that “fossil fuels”, coal, oil and natural gas, are a threat to the environment. Despite an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the Earth has been cooling for the last seventeen years. Mother Nature always has the last word.

As of this writing, the repeal of the two Green laws is in the Parliament’s Senate after having won assent in the lower House. A September 2013 election provided enough new Senate lawmakers  to ensure the repeal.

The Commonwealth of Australia is the sixth largest nation by total area. It was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and New South Wales was used as a penal colony initially. As the general population grew and the continent was explored, five more self-governing crown colonies were established. On January 1, 1901, the six colonies and several territories federated to form the Commonwealth. The population is approximately 23 million is highly urbanized and lives primarily in the eastern states.

Australia is the world’s 12th largest economy making it one of the wealthiest in the world, but the environmentally-inspired taxes had a deleterious impact on its economy, particularly the mining of coal and iron. As noted, the cost of electricity skyrocketed.

The present Prime Minister is Anthony John “Tony” Abbott. He has held the office since 2013 and has been the leader of the Liberal Party since 2009. A Member of Parliament, he was first elected in 1994 as the representative of Warringah. He made a lot of news when he protested a proposed Emissions Trade Scheme and forced a leadership ballot that defeated it, becoming in the process the Liberal Party leader and leader of the opposition to Rudd and Gillard’s Labor Party.

As reported in the April 30 edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, Abbott’s Commission of Audit “has recommended massive cuts to the size of government, with whole agencies to be abolished, privatized, or devolved to the states, in what would be the biggest reworking of the federation ever undertaken.”

The Commission, the Herald reported, has 86 recommendations, among which are “calls for the axing of multiple agencies and the surrender of huge swathes of responsibility back to the states in education, health, and other services.”

The Australian reported that Joseph Benedict “Joe” Hockey, Australia’s Treasurer as part of the Abbott government, said that the proposed budget would axe “the vast number of (environmental) agencies that are involved in doing the same thing.” Hockey is no fan of wind power, saying “If I can be a little indulgent, I drive to Canberra to go to parliament and I must say I find those wind turbines around Lake George to be utterly offensive. I think they are a blight on the landscape.” That kind of candid talk, if he was an American politician, would be considered astonishing.

The best “transformation” America could undergo is not President Obama’s version, but a return to the limits set forth in the U.S. Constitution, a document that reflected the Founder’s distinct distrust of a large central government and its allocation of civic responsibilities to the individual states to the greatest degree possible, and to “the people.”

Australia is way ahead of the U.S. in that regard, learning from the errors of environment laws and the expansion of its government into areas of health and education. We would do well to follow its example.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Florida Common Core Protest Results in Face to Face with Governor Scott

For over a year I’ve been trying to get an opportunity to talk with the Governor about Common Core concerns to no avail.  We have been diverted to staff and flatly refused an audience after dozens of requests, letters and calls.  My curiosity has been growing for some time why such a good family man would possibly embrace what we know are the many dangers to our children and our society as a whole in Nationalizing Education under Common Core.

Being a logical and intelligent business leader, how could he swallow the line presented by those who stand to gain power and money from Common Core without logical proof of results?  In fact, we have mountains of evidence of the damages that children are now experiencing in the classroom. How could he violate the Constitution of the United States as well as Florida’s Constitution by implementing FED ED and removing parental control?

At our protest against Common Core at his fundraiser in Fort Myers yesterday, he graciously got out of his car and came over to talk with our orderly crowd of about 40 people waving Stop Common Core signs.  He looked certain that if we only knew what steps he had taken, we would realize there is no more danger.  Here is the exchange:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/SSKX9Meo7fo[/youtube]

Here is the summary of the point, counterpoint. I have added some comments to his points we were unable to make then.

He started by repeating numerous statistics showing how great Florida’s children are doing on tests.  He didn’t say which year these statistics reflect, but it must be 2-3 years ago.

We retorted, “Those figures are from past years, before Common Core was implemented.”  If we were doing so well, why is there a need give up parental control, local control and state control over education and pay Billions of dollars implementing a new program copyrighted by unaccountable Washington Bureaucrats?

He repeated more figures about minorities doing so well in Florida’s results.  We now say that Common Core’s effects will be impacting minorities the worst, as parents won’t be as available to guide them and tutor them through the hurdles.  One in our audience was autistic and talked earlier about the heavy impact on special needs students who cannot work within a “one size fits all” education formula.

Governor Scott changed the topic again, saying how he had held town hall meetings all over the state.  Not so fast, Governor…the group responded that there were only three meetings held in the entire state after a great deal of public pressure, and the cries to stop Common Core were ignored.  Experts were brought in from all over the country and met with Commissioner Stewart who also ignored their grave concerns about Florida’s adoption of Common Core’s standards which are lower than previous Florida standards and deeply flawed.  Less than 1% change was made to the standards and then they changed the name and claimed the standards are our own.

Governor Scott then started talking about the bills passed this legislative session that would prevent data mining and sharing of data.  This is another subterfuge which does not pass the smell test.  The Federal Law, FERPA,  which used to protect privacy, has been changed by the Obama administration to allow sharing of data without parental permission with a much wider group, including the education materials providers such as Microsoft and Pearson PLC, as well as data collection and testing companies.

This is an excerpt from the enrolled language of SB188:

(2) RIGHTS OF STUDENTS AND PARENTS.—The rights of students and their parents with respect to education records created, maintained, or used by public educational institutions and agencies shall be protected in accordance with the FamilyEducational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g,  the implementing regulations issued pursuant thereto, and this  section. In order to maintain the eligibility of public educational institutions and agencies to receive federal funds and participate in federal programs, the State Board of Education shall comply with the FERPA after the board has evaluated and determined that the FERPA is consistent with the following principles…

KEY POINT: The section does not provide how and when the “board” evaluates and determines FERPA is consistent with the principles outlined, and how they would possibly object to the data sharing required under the law.  In fact, FERPA has been watered down by the Obama administration and is not consistent with those principles so this bill is not functional on its face.

Here is a statement in the Ed Code defining privacy rights and providing that Federal FERPA law trumps Florida Law.  This means data will be sent to the Federal Government where FERPA laws apply and data WILL be distributed as planned and without parental consent in order to keep federal money flowing.

Title XLVIII
K-20 EDUCATION CODE

Chapter 1002 
STUDENT AND PARENTAL RIGHTS AND EDUCATIONAL CHOICES

View Entire Chapter

1002.221 K-12 education records.—(1) Education records, as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, and the federal regulations issued pursuant thereto, are confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.(2)(a) An agency, as defined in s. 1002.22(1)(a), or a public school, center, institution, or other entity that is part of Florida’s education system under s. 1000.04(1), (3), or (4), may not release a student’s education records without the written consent of the student or parent to any individual, agency, or organization, except in accordance with and as permitted by the FERPA. Education records released by an agency, as defined in s. 1002.22(1)(a), or by a public school, center, institution, or other entity that is part of Florida’s education system under s. 1000.04

Then the Governor brought up how he restored local control over textbook adoption with SB 864, which is subterfuge once again.  All textbooks and materials must be Common Core aligned and schools, teachers and students will be tested only on Common Core Standards.  With high stakes testing, there is no choice.   We can only choose which Common Core aligned education providers will poison our children’s brains the least.

These carefully planned “end around” bills do nothing to eliminate Common Core, and serve only to obfuscate this governor’s shameful effort to sell our children down the river for his political ally, Jeb Bush.  Meanwhile, HB 25 by Debby Mayfield, which actually would have stopped Common Core, died without a single committee hearing.

It seems either that Governor Scott has not read or understood the entire argument about Common Core,  and is so insulated by his bubble in the Capitol  that he actually believes his talking points, or he is complicit in a large scheme to obfuscate the realities of Common Core and sell our children down the river for political gain.  Perhaps it’s a little of both.

No matter which is true, the opposition to Common Core is growing and will continue to raise their voices to oppose Common Core and those who are force feeding this poison to our children.  There is a political consequence for their actions as was seen in the recent race for Congressional District 19 in Southwest Florida where the political outsider, Curt Clawson, handily won over the well -funded State Senate Majority Leader, Lizbeth Benaquisto, by 12 points.  She had sponsored the bill implementing Common Core in 2013 and the voters did not forget.  It is not just an issue to us.  It’s our children and our future.

RELATED STORY: Dad Arrested for Protesting Soft Core Porn in Common Core Curriculum

The Worst of Times, the Best of Times

I suppose that throughout history men and women have asked themselves if they were living through either the worst or best of times. The times between wars are most surely the best of times and the times leading up to and during a war qualify as the worst.  They are, however, rather quickly forgotten. It only takes about two generations—sometimes less—to move on from such events.

May 8, is “VE Day” celebrating the U.S. victory in Europe in World War Two. I suspect that most of our younger generations, including some of the Boomers, have no idea what the “VE” stands for.

World War Two ended seven decades ago, but not only have most Americans moved on from the horror of September 11, 2001, but it would appear that even the killing of an American ambassador and three security personnel in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 doesn’t arouse much anger even as we learn of a White House cover-up that utterly debases their sacrifice and loss. “Dude, that was two years ago,” said one White House staff member; as crass and crude a dismissal as one can imagine.

From a perspective of more than seventy and a half years, my mind flashes back to the Watergate scandal that began in June 1972 and concluded with President Nixon’s resignation in August 1974. That was a long two years as the attending events unfolded.

Forty-three people in the Nixon administration went to jail for their participation in the cover-up. The current Attorney General received a Contempt of Congress citation for his failure to provide information about one of the administration’s many scandals and during a recent speech to the National Action Network, a group founded by Rev. Al Sharpton, asked “What Attorney General has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?” Does the name John Mitchell ring a bell? He was Nixon’s Attorney General.

Holder apparently believes that the charges hurled at him and President Obama are mostly based on the color of their skin. We live in a nation that has a black President, a black Attorney General, and a black member of the Supreme Court, to name just a few Afro-Americans who have made it to the topmost circles of power. There are 43 black members of the House and one in the Senate. I grew up in a nation where blacks could not eat in certain restaurants, get a room at a hotel, and even had separate drinking fountains. I witnessed the Civil Rights era and these, for black Americans, are the best of times in the long history of our nation.

For nearly all Americans, however, these are far from the best of times. In 1981 President Reagan pulled the nation out of a recession and set it on a path of prosperity that lasted well in the Clinton years. A financial crisis occurred in the last year of President Bush’s second term. If President Obama didn’t want to “inherit” that, he should not have run for office, but he spent his entire first term blaming the economy and everything else on Bush to the point where he made himself look foolish. And then he was reelected!

We are now two years into Obama’s second term and failed economic and national security policies that include the shrinking of our military power to the levels of pre-World War Two years. Domestic policies are having their effect on failed foreign policies. There are some 90 million Americans out of work or who ceased to look for it.

Peace, some say, is the period between wars and there is great truth in that. Most of my life was spent in the last century, starting in the latter years of the 1930s. There were thirty-two wars, large and small, somewhere in the world during the last century, including a Cold War from 1945 to 1991 between the U.S. and the then-Soviet Union.

So far as the U.S. was concerned, our military saw action in World War One (1914-1918), World War Two (begun in 1939, we entered in 1941-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), the Vietnam War (begun in 1959 with initial U.S. participation in 1961. We would abandon the conflict in 1973). In 1990 the U.S. led the Persian Gulf War to drive Iraq’s Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. We would invade Iraq in 2003 to depose Hussein. In the wake of the 9/11/2001 attack, our forces were dispatched to Afghanistan and are in the process of withdrawing.

War is the way nations tend to settle their differences. Despite the creation of the United Nations after World War Two ended, the U.S. has been engaged in wars and their deterrence. The rest of the world during the last century pursued wars in places that included Mexico, Russia, China, Spain and the rest of Europe, the French Indochina War, the French-Algerian War, the Soviet-Afghan War, the Iran-Iraq War, the third Balkan War, the Rwandan genocide, and the wars that Israel has endured over the more than sixty years of its existence.

This is why many are inclined to think, not only in terms of the U.S. economy, but in response to events beyond our borders—once again in Europe—that the conflict in the Ukraine may metastasize into World War Three if NATO is forced to confront a Russia behaving like it did before its former government collapsed.

I would, however, suggest that the greatest threat of war is staring the entire world in the face and that is an Iran with nuclear weapons.

We have a President who has displayed virtually no knowledge, nor understanding of the history briefly detailed here. Instead, he has pursued a deal with an Iran that has hated the U.S. (and Israel) as the heart of its foreign policy since 1979, As one former senior intelligence official was recently quoted as saying, “The fear is that the Iranians are going to pretend to give up their nuclear weapons program—and we are going to pretend to believe them.”

The only outcome of that would be an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by Israel for whom a nuclear Iran would be a second Holocaust. Israel destroyed a nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007.

In a broader context, we and the rest of the world are living in an era in which Islam is challenging Western, modern civilization with precepts that embrace beheading, amputation, stoning to death, and other forms of violence, often against women, that must be confronted and defeated.

So, if these are best of times, they could rapidly turn into the worst of times…again.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Florida: Statement on Passage of Inspectors General Reform

Inspectors general reform (HB 1385) passed the Florida Senate by a vote of 37-1 on May 1st. The House approved the measure 114-0 on April 23rd. The bill now goes to Governor Rick Scott.

“Inspectors general are the public’s watchdogs within state government and this bill gives them more independence to conduct investigations,” said Dan Krassner, executive director of the nonpartisan research institute and government watchdog group Integrity Florida.

“We commend Senator Jack Latvala and Representative Dan Raulerson for their reform efforts (HB 1385) to increase oversight of state operations and accountability for the public’s money.

Presently, state agency heads are able to appoint and remove their own inspectors general, which creates built-in conflicts of interest. This bill calls for inspectors general to instead report directly to the governor’s chief inspector general. The reporting change should allow our internal government watchdogs to do their job without fear of retribution from leaders of the agencies they investigate.

Agency heads and their deputies should not be able to prevent an inspector general from conducting an audit or investigation. Floridians are counting on our internal watchdogs to root out fraud, waste and abuse within state government.

The chief inspector general would make the appointment and removal (only for cause) decisions for the agency inspectors general.”

ABOUT INTEGRITY FLORIDA

Integrity Florida is a nonpartisan research institute and government watchdog whose mission is to promote integrity in government and expose public corruption.  More information at www.integrityflorida.org.

The New A.P. U.S. History Exam: Providing Opportunities for Indoctrination

College Board dictates for the new Advanced Placement U.S. History exam have already garnered criticism. Jane Robbins and Larry Krieger charged that the new course of study “inculcates a consistently negative view of the nation’s past.” Units on colonial America stress “the development of a ‘rigid racial hierarchy’ and a ‘strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority.’” At the same time, the new Framework “ignores the United States’ founding principles and their influence in inspiring the spread of democracy and galvanizing the movement to abolish slavery.”

Advanced Placement (AP) teachers, of course, will need retraining for this; accordingly, Summer Institutes are being held across the country. I got a look at how teachers are pitched the new program at a session titled “Boundaries of Freedom: Teaching the Construction of Race and Slavery in the AP U.S. History Course” at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians (OAH), “the largest professional society dedicated to the teaching and study of American history,” in Atlanta this month. Identity politics and the assumption that conservatism is evil and backwards infused the conference. The AP session fit right into this year’s theme, “Crossing Borders,” highlighting the evils of the United States, in its past with slavery and segregation, and in its present in regards to “immigrants” (illegal aliens).

One of the AP panelists, Lawrence Charap, of the College Board, said that although there was no direct “coordination,” Common Core’s approach is being implemented in the AP and SAT exams by his boss, David Coleman, Common Core’s  architect and the new president of the College Board, which produces the AP and SAT exams. The new approach includes using the scholarly papers that one would find at this conference.

No More Facts, Ma’am
He told  high school teachers the new exams eliminate unnecessary memorization of facts and replace them with “historical thinking skills.” As examples of such irrelevant “facts,” Charap referred to Millard Fillmore and the Lend-Lease program.

The revisions to the exam began in 2006, at the request of college professors who said AP history tried to jam a college survey course, “a mile wide and an inch deep,” into a high school class, according to Charap. So the course has been redesigned to focus on skills, where students go in-depth and ask questions in an engaging way—traits AP shares with Common Core and the SAT. Accordingly, multiple-choice questions count for less of the score and have been reduced from 80 to 55, which Charap would like to reduce even further.

So what will replace facts about the thirteenth president or a controversial wartime program? Students will be tested for “skills,” in relating secondary (scholarly) sources back to the primary (historical) sources.

Dramatic Re-enactments
Such an exercise may sound good. But as I found out, it is a means by which teachers can impose their ideological views on students who do not yet have a foundation in history. The exercises showed that historically significant facts would be replaced with emotional exercises focused disproportionately on negative parts of American history. Two members of the AP development committee, UC-Irvine professor Jessica Millward and high school teacher James Sabathne, demonstrated how.

Millward said she brings her research on female slaves and their children in the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland into the classroom. She claimed her students use “critical thinking skills” and focus on concepts, like “freedom” and “bondage.” Millward also recognizes students don’t do the assigned reading, so she breaks them into groups and has them read assignments on the spot. The exercises include a visual timeline and scenarios in which students imagine a way to “resist and rebel” against, for example, the whipping of a six-month pregnant slave face down, her belly in a hole (to protect the future “property”). Millward then play-acts the slave owner. She praised the new “interactive exam” for allowing the freedom to recreate such experiences. She offered a list of online resources, such as the University of North Carolina’s Documenting the American South, the African American Mosaic, and Depression-era Works Progress Administration interviews at the Library of Congress, as well as secondary sources, including her article, “‘That All Her Increase Shall Be Free’: Enslaved Women’s Bodies and the 1809 Maryland Law of Manumission” in Women’s History Review. No one can deny her contention that slavery involves “heartbreak,” but she seems intent on exploiting it.

After one teacher in the audience noted that the U.S.’s share of slave trade was only 5 percent, the panelists suggested that that fact and the one that some blacks owned slaves should be downplayed to students. Clearly, the aim is to give high school students a limited, emotional perspective of white-on-black racism, instead of the larger historical one.

Racist White People
The next panelist, James Sabanthe, who teaches at Hononegah High School in Rockton, Illinois, heralded the new focus on “historical interpretations.” It became apparent from his, Millward’s and other teachers’ comments that although high school students are treated as adults who “think like historians,” they do not do the reading that real historians do. Because students do not read all 20 to 30 pages of a typical scholarly article, Sabanthe distributes excerpts among groups of students. As an example of an exercise, students would be asked to use their “historical thinking skills” to demonstrate change while comparing revolutions in France, Russia, and China, a conversation launched by asking students about prior knowledge of labor systems, Indians, servants, and racism.

For the unit on slavery, Sabanthe provided hand-outs, with sample readings. Half of his groups would tackle excerpts from Edmund S. Morgan’s “Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox,” in The Journal of American History (June 1972), and Kathleen M. Brown’s Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, & Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (1996). The other half would read excerpts from Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (1998) by Ira Berlin, former president of OAHand How Race Survived US History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon (2008) by David Roediger, who writes from a Marxist perspective. These groups would make “t charts” and Venn diagrams, and discuss similarities and differences between the excerpts.

But upon reading Sabanthe’s hand-out, it became clear the excerpts do not stand alone. Sometime surnames pop up, with prior references obviously in an omitted section. His assignment, to annotate the primary document, “’Decisions of the General Court’ regarding William Pierce’s Plantation, Virginia, 1640,” and relate it to Brown’s feminist tract, is bewildering. Students would need considerable direction. Instead of the full narrative of a textbook, history book, or full article that they could digest for themselves, students turn to their teacher for direction. Of course, this leaves wide open opportunities.

Trauma—From Whom?
This activity, according to the hand-out, fulfilled AP U.S. History Curriculum Framework, 2014, “Key Concepts,” pages 35-39, which focused on the especially racist qualities of the British system, for example: “Unlike Spanish, French, and Dutch colonies, which accepted intermarriage and cross-racial sexual unions with native peoples . . . , English colonies attracted both males and females who rarely intermarried with either native peoples or Africans, leading to the development of a rigid racial hierarchy” and “Reinforced by a strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority, the British system enslaved black people in perpetuity, altered African gender and kinship relationships in the colonies. . . ”

With all the attention on abuses of slavery, it’s no wonder that one of the teachers, who teaches in an Orthodox Jewish school, wondered how she should handle the only black student in her class. In response, Millward acknowledged that these topics bring up anger and white guilt. “I believe in educational affirmative action,” she said and suggested removing the black student from the class discussion to avoid “trauma.”

Quite obviously, the “trauma” is a problem of the teachers’ own making—now to be reinforced by the College Board.

The new AP exams, like Common Core, presumably are inspired by what “engages” students. From what I heard at this and other panels, the revisions come from what engages, and profits, teachers developing the exams.

Although Sabathne said he is getting away from textbooks, he also said he has been working with Charap and publishers on new AP-aligned history books and guides. Sabathne encouraged teachers to sign up for his upcoming week-long AP session in St. Petersburg. The huge publisher Bedford-St. Martins has been working with the College Board on new books and was a “platinum” (highest level) sponsor of the conference. Norton Publishing (silver sponsor) is also coming out with new books. Charap optimistically said that in three years there should be a good bank of materials to prepare students for the new AP exam.

No doubt there will be, at the expense of taxpayers who subsidize the indoctrination.

Fighting marriage battles in Hong Kong, Finland, and more

As the international homosexual movement pushes “gay marriage” around the world, pro-family citizens in several countries are turning to MassResistance for help fighting back.

VIDEO:
posted by Hong Kong pro-family activists
 — MassResistance video on marriage with audio in Cantonese!

Last September – originally at the request of activists in Australia — we created our comprehensive 28-minute videoWhat “gay marriage” did to Massachusetts. It documents in chilling detail how “gay marriage” really changes society in less than a decade over a wide range of areas including schools, courts, businesses, churches, and more. The video is an expansion of our 2012 booklet, What same-sex “marriage” has done to Massachusetts. Thousands of copies of that booklet have poured across America — from Hawaii to Maine — and several foreign countries.

Brand new — MassResistance stickers. Show your solidarity! (See below for how to get them.)

Here are some of the latest battles:

Hong Kong

At the beginning of the year the well-funded international homosexual lobby begantheir lobbying push in Hong Kong to legalize “gay marriage.” Pro-family activists there began working with MassResistance in February.

They have just released a version of the MassResistance video with the audio in Cantonese (see above) . It is now being widely shown in Hong Kong. They told us that they are very pleased that now people can watch the video and it will “help them to understand” what they are really facing.

Last week the activists emailed us:

[This video] will definitely benefit more people to understand the seriousness of the issue involved. Without your kind support, we really cannot make this happen! Many thanks indeed!

Now they can see what may be on the horizon. On Monday, we received the following message from one of the Hong Kong activists:

The issue on Gender Recognition is creeping in as there is a recent court ruling to recognise the reassigned gender after sex reassignment surgery. I saw that Transgenderism is also forcing its way to school education at your side. The battle is getting increasingly tough…

We’ll be working hard for them as things develop.

Finland

The Finnish Parliament is about to begin debating a “gay marriage” bill. Back in February the homosexual movement submitted thousands of petitions to force the issue into Parliament.

In March a group of Finnish religious leaders contacted MassResistance. They began using our materials to educate their people. A few days ago they posted a version ofour MassResistance video with Finnish sub-titles and began promoting it across the country.

VIDEO
Posted by Finnish religious leaders
 — MassResistance video on marriage with Finnish sub-titles.

They have also distributed our materials to Parliament. This week religious leaders will be meeting with Members of Parliament on the issue.

Here’s what the Finnish religious leaders wrote us on Monday:

Your materials have helped us very much indeed. Finnish Parliament Law Committee have asked some church leaders to come in there on Wednesday the 7th of May for the interview concerning the same sex marriage legislation.

We have forwarded your materials all over the land and to all members of Parliament.

We have sent your video all over the country and people are surprised
to see it — many have woken up to understand serious consequences of that foolish legislation.

I am going to encourage the church leaders to stand firm on that issue.
Media is one of the worst enemies propagating solely the same sex marriage.

I will let you know what happens here. May God bless you and all of us who uphold traditional life values. Yours in common cause!

Here is one of their sites with information on the “gay marriage” fight.

They also informed us on Monday that one of the Finnish national televisionstations has agreed to broadcast the MassResistance video nationwide! 

Sweden and Estonia

We have also just been informed that Swedish and Estonian language versions of the MassResistance video are being prepared for broadcast on national TV in those countries.

We’ll post those links when they become available.

Back in the USA: Virginia

Back here in the US, pro-family citizens in Virginia are reeling from an outrageous federal court ruling in February where an activist federal judge struck down the state’s “gay marriage” ban voted by the people in 2006. One of the reasons the judge gave was that it conflicts with the phrase “all men are created equal” in the state’s constitution!

And Virginia’s Democrat Attorney General, Mark Herring, has refused to defend it in court, claiming that it violates the U.S. Constitution. Nevertheless, the ruling is being appealed by pro-family lawyers. The Federal Appeals Court in Richmond will hear oral arguments May 13.

In the meantime, pro-family activists are not letting up. Marriage activists contacted MassResistance in February and we’ve sent materials.

VIDEO by Virginia marriage activists.A powerful lesson on “gay marriage” using some MassResistance material. One of the best.

On April 24, Virginia activists released a powerful video on marriage to call together Virginians to a rally at the May 13 court hearing, and also a marriage rally in Washington, DC. Their video uses some of our MassResistance material, and is really worth watching. This is one of the best general “gay marriage” videos we’ve seen yet.

And many other battles over the last several months

For many across the country and around the world, MassResistance is the go-to place for pro-family activism and information. In addition to the above, in just the last several months we’ve worked with pro-family activists in Australia, Croatia, Jamaica, England, France, Ghana, Uganda, and Canada. And here in the U.S. we’ve worked with activists in Hawaii, Minnesota, Illinois, Utah, Idaho, Louisiana. We get more calls every week.

In addition, of course, we’re on the ground here in Massachusetts!

What we’re also fighting: Big money and generated fear

The homosexual movement is able to push “gay marriage” and its other agendas on a large scale because it receives millions of dollars from major US corporations, wealthy liberals, and in many places, your tax dollars.

Unfortunately, the front-line pro-family movement fighting back gets virtually no funding from corporations, conservative donors (who’ve chickened out on this issue – don’t get us started on that), and certainly not government. Even on good days we’re probably outspent by 500-1 (or worse).

Much of this is because the homosexual movement is constantly working to create a climate of fear. They are trying to make everyone afraid to even speak up, much less get involved. We’ve all seen that over and over.

Show your solidarity and help MassResistance keep fighting back

Hot off the press: We have brand new MassResistance stickers, suitable for car bumpers or anywhere else! Be a part of the not-so-silent majority. Show your solidarity with the international pro-family movement fighting back! Let the world know you’re not afraid.

(Oval, 6″ wide, 4″ high)

Over the next three weeks — until Memorial Day — in return for any size donation ($10 or more if using the credit card page) you will get two stickers.

DONATE – DONATE – DONATE – Get your stickers!

We’re up against a funding behemoth, so front-line groups like MassResistance must get broad financial support from lots of ordinary people. It really makes a difference. We need your help to keep our fight going.

Especially if you haven’t donated before, this is the time to do it.

The big psychological weapon we have

Because our opponents thrive on our fear, one of the biggest psychological weapons the pro-family movement can use is to show that we’re not afraid of them — or of telling the truth. In our experience, that seemingly small thing is astonishingly effective.  It makes them uncomfortable and disoriented. It’s been a powerful tool against any totalitarian movement. In fact, Pope John Paul II attributed the ultimate fall of the Soviet empire to people’s acting without fear!

Soviet Socialism in the 21st Century Part 7: Knowledge is Power

The old saying “Knowledge is Power” is not a cliche, it is a reality of our life. I have an impression that knowledge has escaped the Obama Administration. Don’t the officials know that evil exists? Why they are not fighting it effectively? Do they have a cohesive view of what to do and what is their strategy in Ukraine this particular time? Considering the predicament, they either have no needed knowledge or they do not want to fight Evil… None of three rounds of the Obama weak and toothless sanctions will stop Russian aggression. Moreover, Russia is responsible for all the troubles in the world, including Ukraine, but the West fundamentally misunderstands Russia.

Annexation of Crimea is a beginning of the monumental offensive against Ukraine. Crimea has no drinking water, it was provided for two million people by the Ukrainian government. Russia has no other means to to do that, but the further occupation of the Ukrainian territory. The offensive will continue from different sides, South, North, West, and East. For your information, a former Soviet Republic Moldova can be a decisive point in this war. After the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist, all its military equipment had been brought to Moldova in town Kolbasnoe. Look at the map of Ukraine and see the strategic location of Moldova, which has pro-Russian enclave of separatist-Kazaks there. But don’t be confused–the storage of arms doesn’t mean only a military Russian offense.

The next Crimea’s peculiarity is its demography and history; both are intertwined in a dangerous knot of contradictions and antagonism. Crimea has many different ethic groups, yet only one can be called the native Crimean–Crimean Tatars, the part of really peaceful Muslims. Fifteen thousand of them had already left Crimea as the refugees: they remember the past and do not want to live under Russian regime. To know the tragedy of their deportation by Stalin and his “Russification policy” implemented in the country, please read Baltic Winds. History provides you with the modus operadi of Stalinism, you have already seen in Ukraine: subversive activities, provocations, and cover ups used by Russia.

Here is the report about the event taking place in the Eastern Ukraine: “World leaders and Jewish groups condemned a leaflet handed out in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in which Jews were told to “register” with the pro-Russian militants who have taken over a government office in an attempt to make Ukraine part of Russia, according to Ukrainian and Israeli media.Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website, and Ukraine’s Donbass news agency.”

Confusion has overwhelmed America. Who could do that in the 21st century?? ? History is the best teacher in all foreign and domestic affairs. We, the former citizens of the socialist countries know that history and know who committed that act, because we know Russian mentality, the KGB modus operandi , and the meaning of the term Spez. (special) Operation. The crises in Ukraine is not a mini-version of the Cold War, it is a military Spez. Operation, the continuation of WWIII, I have already described in the preceding articles. Russia is an anti-Western country with all the negative consequences of that for the world, while Ukraine wants freedom and a good relationship with the West. Current Russia is a cursed land, its agenda now to prevent the peaceful election in Ukraine. Please remember that.

Those who think that Putin is not a Soviet apparatchik are very wrong. Since the time he came to power, the liberties implemented by Yeltsin in the 1990s have been slowly but surely disappearing in Russia–the propaganda-machine of the past was reinstated. Putin is a devoted disciple of Andropov and Stalin–this is the crux of the matter in his strategy and agenda. The agenda hasn’t changed since the Stalin’s time and that is the task of this series to introduce the history of Soviet Socialism and the ideology design by Stalin. It was Stalin , who planned One World Government under the Kremlin auspices. I have already dedicated a lot of pages to him, and his activities as the Commissar for Nationalities, implementing bigotry, hate, racism, and aggression. This is an additional page.

I am not only a child of Stalinism, I am also a former Soviet defense attorney, who attended law school with some future members of the KGB and I continued a friendships with them after the graduation . Being an American citizen now, I am concerned about the state of affairs in my country America, because of what is going on in Ukraine is somewhat similar to the events going on in America. Don’t be surprised by my statement, I am intending to prove it by the comparative point… I have already started doing that on the Chapter 7, WWIII: Recruitment and Drugs, Infiltration and Assassinations, in my book titled What is Happening to America? The Hidden Truth of Global Destruction, Xlibris, 2012. It is time for you to read what Stalin had predicted for America seven decades ago:

Living in the Stalinist Russia under the predicament of constant lies and promises we knew the way Stalin would implement his agenda. Pay attention to Stalin’s targets–he concretely identified them. They are:the American “patriotism, its morality and its spiritual life.” When I heard Obama speaking about Benghazi my pulse went up–I knew, he was deceiving us, I knew about his partnership with Putin and Russian agenda in the Middle EAST. Several decades of WWIII, introduced by me earlier , also effected our foreign policy–the Stalinist offense is acting in many different fronts, in variety of forms and shapes to achieve that. It has also fundamentally effected and changed the political agenda of the Democrat Party, for the last decades.

Don’t you noticed a tremendous shift in our culture? The statements of the Democrat leaders in the Senate calling the Tea Party–the racist and terrorists are also an attempt to deceive, mislead us and to change our value system, our morality (watch Harry Reid.) The Tea Party is neither of the two. Like in Russia, the propaganda and a Spin Zone has occupied the Senate, ran by the Democrats, followed their leaders. So, let’s go to the history, comparing the events in Stalinist Russia with a contemporary America:

Truth was the main target of Soviet Socialism! Needing to defend its ideology and lacking trust in society, the system “invented” a new notion of Socialist Morality, which fundamentally affected traditional Russian culture. Socialist Morality was uniforming everything for conformity and control. This new “value” system changed the country and dehumanized its people, turning one against another, brother against brother and child against parent. Living in an atmosphere of constant fear and distrust had a profound influence on us and shaped us to a new reality.

Socialist Morality confused and cowed people. I saw it with my own eyes over the years, in the stories of thousands of people who visited my office looking for help. I could assist some of them, but there was nothing to be done for many others. We actually were forced to take part in building “the bright future of Communism.” A new, rigidly enforced set of rules and regulations in our collective society acted to discourage an individual from acting independently for fear of the consequences. Socialist Morality reigned supreme.

The Stalinist system was built on an enormous bureaucracy, and the mammoth security apparatus was an integral part of it. To safeguard the ideology and preserve Socialist Morality, Soviet Socialism created several institutions that kept us in a constant state of fear. One of them was the institutionalization of the informant system. Every office and enterprise had its cadre of informers. There were approximately 25 million informers in the country of 300 million people in 1980s. The concentration of informers was particularly intense in the intellectual fields of activity — in the educational system and especially within the media. Their numbers decreased in other fields. The informers did their “job” extremely well—the Gulag’s forced labor camps and mental institutions were filled to overflow with those who complained, criticized or dissented.

Another method of safeguarding Stalinist ideology and imposing Socialist Morality was the manipulation of religion. It made no difference if the faith was Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or some other sect. Priests, rabbis, imams and other prelates could function only under the supervision of the KGB. Every house of worship was registered and subordinated to a respective local KGB office. Those priests or rabbis who refused to cooperate were sent to the Gulag or to mental institutions. The congregants themselves were watched and often harassed, especially if the believer was among the younger generation. It was hardly worth the trouble of going after elderly believers, but ideological deviancy among youth – the country’s future – was intolerable.

The informant system and the manipulation of religion were only two methods among many for controlling the human psyche, but they were the most effective ways to enforce ideological orthodoxy. The use of violence, intimidation, deception, and the certainty of reprisal against ideological heresy kept the Russian people downtrodden and, most importantly, silent. The instruments of fear and violence did the job they were intended to do. That was our life under Soviet Socialism–we have been trapped in total Government’s control.

We are terrified to see patterns of Stalinism in our America the Beautiful today. I call a social model of Stalinism–Soviet Fascism.

To be continued www.simonapipko1.com

The Dream Tax?

If most politicians and bureaucrats were asked to describe their perfect tax, it would have the following characteristics:

  • Raise a lot of money;
  • Be easy to assess and can be collected automatically;
  • Be hidden in the price of goods;
  • Appears to only tax the very wealthy;
  • Be easily manipulated to favor the groups who contribute the most to the politicians but would not be easily seen by the public;
  • Not require tax returns.

The present income tax is sold as punishing the “rich.” However, the income tax has the liability that people see how much their wages, not some rich person’s wages, are reduced and too many tax returns must be filed. It is also necessary to have it collected by the Internal Revenue Service– a very troubled institution that is universally disliked and feared.

Many politicians would like to increase the income tax rates but are concerned that this will create more upset voters, and the most important thing for a politician is to keep his or her job.

Some say that a good tax is the value added tax (“VAT”). This is a tax that is added at each step of the production of a good. The value added tax does meet many of the politician’s requirements listed above. It can raise a lot of money. It is included in the price of goods and will lead to increased prices but the price increases, like the increased gasoline prices, can be blamed on greedy companies.

Because it is added on at each step of the production cycle, it is possible to decrease the tax rates for favored producers and increase the tax rates for less favored producers, and this could be hidden from the public. Finally, the VAT would not require any individuals to file tax returns.

However, the fact that the VAT caused price increases related to consumer purchases would be easy for the meddlesome people using the internet to expose, and people would see that the increase in the costs of all their goods was really, to a large degree, attributable to the VAT. This would create upset from the public who were initially told that the increase was due to greedy manufacturers and retailers and there might even be an attempt to unseat the politicians.

No, what the politicians want is a tax that can meet all of the above characteristics and many of them believe that they have found the perfect tax. The tax is called the financial transaction tax (“FTT”). The FTT could be levied each time stocks and bonds were traded, on derivative contracts, on options, on puts, on forward contracts, on stock swaps, on each credit card or check payment or other money transfer.

Placing a small tax on financial transactions is not new. In 1694, Britain actually collected a tax on stock purchases. In the United States, much of the financing for the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has come from “Section 31” fees. The SEC site explains, “When you sell a stock, you may have noticed that a small transaction fee, often just a few pennies, appears on your confirmation slip. Although some broker-dealers have described this charge as an ‘SEC Fee,’ the SEC does not actually impose this fee on individual investors. (https://www.sec.gov/answers/sec31.htm) Many other countries have seen the FTT as a way to obtain more funds for government or to fund specific purposes.

Some proponents of the FTT predict that by taxing the entire spectrum of financial transactions at a rate as low as ten basis points can bring in as much as $300 billion in tax revenues. (A basis point is one hundredth of one percent or equal to one cent of every $100.)

Proponents maintain that an FTT would eliminate much of the expenses of collecting revenue for the government because it would all be done automatically through the present electronic systems through which the financial transactions are processed. They say that a person with a $60,000 401(k) plan would see their return on investment reduced by approximately $60 per year.

Of course, what is ignored is the source of the $300 billion of tax revenue. Some of the bureaucrats seem to believe that these taxes come out of money that would have been spent on expensive yachts or mansions. The truth is that this tax, like all taxes, will be paid from higher prices to consumers, lower payments to labor or lower payments to capital. When possible, additional taxes are passed on to the consumer. If the prices cannot be raised enough, then either payments to labor or to capital must make up the difference. Often the additional tax costs are split between price increases, wage cuts, wage freezes or hiring freezes or lower returns to investors and business owners.

This means that consumers are going to pay these “hidden” taxes either in higher prices, lower wages for our neighbors or ourselves, or reduced company profits which will affect our investment accounts and the ability to expand and hire more workers.

On the other hand, one of the problems with the FTT is that some of the financial transactions can be completed in other non-tax locations. The result is that many economists argue that the actual tax revenue will be much less than predicted. This means that the FTT rate will need to be increased and this will mean that more of these transactions will either not happen with the present frequency or will be moved into non-tax areas.

Since it is important to keep the FTT tax revenue up, the natural thing will be to increase the FTT rate on transactions that can be controlled—like money transfers either through checks or credit card transactions or bank deposits. This results in, like most tax increases, the real burden falling more directly on each of us. But at least it is just a line item on our bank and credit card statements and for most of us is not a large number—not like withholding for income taxes and FICA taxes.

This will still be much less visible than the VAT or the income tax and the politicians and bureaucrats love this. After all, most of the politicians and bureaucrats believe strongly that they know better what is good for people because people cannot be trusted to make the right decisions on their own.

It is this paternalistic viewpoint that explains why so many of the politicians and bureaucrats oppose all tax cuts and particularly a tax like the retail sales tax. The retail sales tax is very visible and shows all consumers the real cost of government. It also gives people all of their earnings and allows people to decide, not politicians and bureaucrats, decide what is important and how to spend their money.

Many people want to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment. They believe that it will be great to eliminate the income tax. However, they should be aware that unless the public demands a tax like the FairTax®, a national retail sales tax, the taxes that replace the income tax will be hidden, will attempt to reward conduct that the lobbyists, politicians and bureaucrats believe is best and be subject to loopholes inserted by lobbyists working with politicians and bureaucrats.

RELATED STORY: One Tax To Rule Them All

The View from the Bottom

It tells you everything you need to know about the utter contempt those in the White House and the circles of power that the announcement of 0.01% economic growth thus far this year was blamed on—wait for it—the weather! Specifically, a cold winter.

AA - Blame the Weather

If you have been paying any attention of late, the weather and the climate have become the reason foreverything in general and for tornadoes, floods and forest fires, in particular. The fact that these natural events have always been subject to whatever the weather is or the larger climate trends seems to have escaped the notice of too many people. If winter automatically drives down the economy to a point of invisibility, that is news to me.

I’m surprised some economist hasn’t blamed winter for the major decline in home ownership. It has hit its lowest level since the mid-1990s according to the Census Bureau. As the Wall Street Journal reported, “despite two years of recovery in the housing market there are still fewer homeowners than there were before the recession.”  Oh? The recession is over? You could have fooled me.

It is no surprise, however, that China is poised to pass the United States as the world’s leading economic power this year. The U.S. has been the global leader since 1872 when it replaced the United Kingdom and now “most economists previously thought China would pull ahead in 2019 according to the Financial Times.

Bear in mind that the U.S. has survived financial crises in the past, but the 2008 meltdown has persisted since around January 20, 2009 when a new President was sworn into office. It didn’t take him long to receive a Nobel Peace Prize that year and to preside over the first reduction in the nation’s top ranked credit rating in 2011.

Could the economic decline have something to do with the insane increase of federal government regulation? As John Merline asked in Investor’s Business Daily, “After years of rapid growth during the Obama administration, the cost of federal regulations is now bigger than the entire economics of all but nine countries in the world.” He was reporting on the annual report. “Ten Thousands Commandments”, issued by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Compiled by Clyde Wayne Crews, this year’s report found that the “regulation tax” imposed on the economy now tops $1.86 trillion. “By comparison, Canada’s entire GDP is $1.82 trillion and India’s is $1.84 trillion.”

“The problem, Crews notes, is that the combined cost of this ‘tax’ never shows up anywhere in the federal budget—or any other official report—even though it is now bigger than individual and corporate income taxes combined.” The CEI report noted that federal regulatory costs average $14,974 per household “which is more than the typical household spends on just about anything else.”

So you don’t have to have an economics degree to figure out what is wrong. “Last year,” Merline reported, “regulators issued 3,659 rules. That’s equal to one new rule every 2 l/2 hours of every day7 or nearly two federal rules issued every business hour.” Why is this happening? Because the 2013 Federal Registered contains 79,311 pages, the fourth highest ever and the top two all-time totals were both under President Obama. Big government? No, TOO BIG Big Government.

A new poll surveying young Americans’ political attitudes was released at the end of April by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. As indoctrinated as those 18 to 29 have been in our public schools, they are not brain-dead. The survey found that the millennials have less trust in government than ever before in the President, Congress, the Supreme Court, the military, and federal government as a whole. There is a comparable lack of confidence in Wall Street and the United Nations. Unfortunately, less than one-in-four (25%) of Americans under 30 said they would definitely vote in the forthcoming midterm elections, a decrease since last autumn, though more Republican millennials will vote than Democrats.

It’s not just the youth who are unhappy. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll taken in late April revealed “a marked change from past decades” as “nearly half of those surveyed wanted the U.S. to be less active on the global state, with fewer than one-fifth call for more active engagement—and anti-interventionist current that sweeps across party lines.”

This is hardly a surprise as one looks back on the years since 9/11 in which engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq turned out to be failures. In this regard Obama has his finger on the pulse of Americans who are weary of military interventions, but it is equally true he has used this to impose vast reductions on the U.S. military. If they are needed, there will be far less of them and the arsenal they will need.

The poll showed that approval of Obama’s handling of foreign policy has sunk to the lowest level of his presidency with 38% approval. His overall job performance now pulls in 47% or so. Both are below half the population of likely voters. The poll also demonstrated how disenchanted they are with the economy “that many believe is stacked against them.” The views expressed correlated with income and education, rather than party affiliation.

The state of the economy reflects the factors noted; too much regulation, Obamacare’s attack on one sixth of the economy, replete with dozens of taxes within it, as well as the serious disruption of the healthcare system.  What it has also done is cause many businesses to put a cap on how many they employ, a dagger in the heart of those coming out of college with few real prospects, those seeking employment after having been laid off due to Obamacare and other factors—some 90 million still.

If the nation does survive Obama, historians will express wonder that he was reelected and that his approval ratings weren’t considerably lower. He is still being defended by the mainstream media, so that might account for the latter, but recent revelations about the Benghazi cover-up may have an impact.

The people I talk with are “hanging on”, struggling to get by on what money comes in. They are not happy and I suspect they reflect a general unhappiness from the millennials to the senior set.

They are observing the nation and the world from the bottom of the barrel.

We’re Americans. We don’t like being number two.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Angie Schwendemann. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.