September 25, 2015

It Is Too Bad That Political Parties Cannot Reject Voters Who Seek To Join, Stop Would-Be Candidates Who Want To Run

Because Kim Davis in no way represents Republican values.

A county clerk in Kentucky who was briefly jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples said on Friday that she and her family have switched to the Republican Party because the Democrats no longer represented them.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, 50, who has said her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, said they had changed parties last week. She was a long-time Democrat in eastern Kentucky.

"My husband and I had talked about it for quite a while and we came to the conclusion that the Democratic Party left us a long time ago, so why were we hanging on?" she told Reuters in an interview at a hotel in Washington, where she has traveled to be feted at a Family Research Council event later on Friday.

I'm hoping that we don't find out that this backwoods snake-handling, Constitution-hating hillbilly was recruited by GOP officials in Kentucky. I have no interest in this lawless Democrat become the face of my party, any more than I want to see Donald Trump in that role..


|| Greg, 04:49 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (19) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 14, 2015

Parents Up In Arms Over Students Being Expected To Know Things They Don’t Like

Why is it that these parents remind me of the mother who had her child pulled from my class after I taught a lesson on evolution?

Middle school parents in Tennessee are up in arms on learning that their children were instructed to recite and write, “Allah is the only god,” as part of a world history project.

In the Maury County School District, students were assigned a Five Pillars of Islam project that included the translation of the pillar of “Shahada” as being, “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is his prophet.”

Joy Ellis, the mother of a seventh-grader at Spring Hill Middle School, said that Christian children should not be instructed to write the Shahada.

“This is a seventh grade state standard, and will be on the TCAP,” Ellis said. “I didn’t have a problem with the history of Islam being taught, but to go so far as to make my child write the Shahada, is unacceptable.”

From what I can see of the assignment, it is a foldable made out of three papers, folded into a booklet. There is a cover labeled “Five Pillars of Islam”, and five tabs with the name of each of the Pillars. The student then writes an explanation of that aspect of Islam – one of which, the Shahada, is the profession of faith that “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is his prophet.” In this context it is clear that far from being a tool of proselytism, this is a tool to help students remember five key components of the Islamic faith that are being taught in the unit. I teach the same information in my World Geography class, only using different format – and I do expect my students to know those same words. The only difference is that I teach it as a part of a unit on world religions rather than as a part of a stand-alone unit on Islam.

By the way, let me offer you one sure way of knowing that an opponent of Common Core does not know what they are talking about – when they start discussing “Common Core standards” for social studies, they are making stuff up. There are no social studies standards for social studies.

|| Greg, 03:18 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (18) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 13, 2015

Time To Send Kim Davis Back To Jail

She's already looking to once again impose her religion on the taxpayers of Rowan County, Kentucky and on her subordinates, in violation of the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, her oath of office, and the order of a federal court.

A Kentucky county clerk who was recently jailed for denying same-sex couples marriage licenses filed an appeal Friday that asks for another delay in issuing the licenses.

Attorneys for Kim Davis, who objects to gay marriage on religious grounds, argued in their motion to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that all the same-sex couples who sued Davis for a license received one from her deputies while she was in jail. Therefore, they said, her office should not be required to issue them to any more couples once she returns to work.

U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning wrote that his mandate to issue licenses applied to all couples, not only those who filed suit.

Frankly, Bunning should have ordered her held until she resigned her office or agreed to follow the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, her oath of office, and his court order. His act of mercy in releasing her one of those two things simply because her subordinates were able to do their jobs while she was not present was clearly an error.

|| Greg, 05:12 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (26) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 08, 2015

Watcher’s Council Forum On Kim Davis

As I began my sabbatical from blogging last month, I resigned my seat on the Watcher’s Council. As an emeritus member of the group, I do still have the option of participating in the weekly Forum in which the members of the Council and various guests take on a weekly question. This week the topic was Kim Davis and whether she is engaged in bigotry or civil disobedience. My answer is below.

* * *

Simply put, this is not an either/or question.

One can be a bigot or a racist and still engage in civil disobedience can be a despicable human being and still protest against injustice. One can even be wrong about the justice or propriety of a law or policy and still properly engage in civil disobedience by violating that law and accepting one's punishment as a way of seeking to garner support for a change to that which you believe to be unjust.

And that is the key thing that Kim Davis and her supporters are missing here. Crying "civil disobedience" is not a talisman that shields you from punishment or a "get out of jail free" card. As exemplars of civil disobedience like Thoreau, Gandhi and King show us, civil disobedience requires submission to the rule of law as a means of shocking the consciences of others in order to spur change.

But in Kim Davis's case, there is another angle that should be considered. Davis is not acting as a private person here; rather, she is acting in her official capacity to deny the citizenry that which the law and the Constitution require she give them in that capacity -- a legal document granting legal recognition to their marriage. One can strongly argue against the holding in Obergefell (and I do) and still recognize the danger to liberty and the rule of law that her actions represent.

Of particular concern to me is Davis's abuse of the First Amendment to justify her malfeasance in office and defiance of a court order. She claims the right to not only refuse to issue marriage licenses herself, but to also forbid every employee of her office from issuing them. That has the effect of officially establishing her religion as the official religion of Rowan County. And while one might be tempted to cut her slack because of the relative ease with which couple could work around her decree and the troubling nature of the Obergefell decision which created this situation, one has to look at other situations. Would we accept the declaration of a county prosecutor that there will be no prosecutions of spousal rape because she believes that allowing her office to move forward with such cases would violate the Biblical principle that wives must submit to their husbands? Of course not -- the very notion is offensive to anyone with a sense of moral decency, no matter how broadly we interpret the First Amendment's religious liberty guarantee.

So let me be quite clear on this matter -- regardless of the sincerity of her faith (a matter that has no bearing here) Kim Davis belongs in jail until such time as she either agrees to a) issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples, b) stand aside and allow her subordinates to do so for her, or c) resigns or is removed from her position and county clerk. If this spurs a change in the national attitude towards gay marriage and results in a reversal of Obergefell, perhaps her short-lived effort to make her faith the established religion of Rowan County will have had some positive impact. Until that time, let her failed claim of privilege serve as a reminder that the rule of law requires we abide by a court order until it expires or is overturned on appeal, even if we believe it is wrong and in violation of our rights.

* * *

I would like to add one more point to what I wrote above. I believe Obergefell was wrongly decided. I believe it should be overturned, either via a further court challenge to the decision (creating an opportunity for SCOTUS to overturn it) or via a constitutional amendment. That said, I believe that Kim Davis has chosen the wrong way to go about resisting the decision, and is the wrong person to make such a challenge. Her actions here damage the case of those who support the traditional definition of marriage in the eyes of the general public, and risks creating additional court decisions that shore up the logic of Obergefell and tear down the logic behind religious accommodations under the law. The simple truth is that in this battle over the authority of the Supreme Court to interpret the Fourteenth Amendment,Kim Davis is not James Meredith -- she is George Wallace. Despite the claims of her supporters, she is not Rosa Parks – she is Rosa Parks’ bus driver. Her actions ought to be rejected by every American who believes in the rule of law.

ADDENDUM: Since I wrote those last words over lunch today, Kim Davis has been released from jail. For all that she and her supporters wish to claim victory, the truth is that Kim Davis lost her battle with Judge Bunning.

And if Kim Davis abides by the new order, she in effect concedes that she was in the wrong last week and that her jailing for contempt was proper.

Personally, I'm hoping the local US Attorney will seek to indict her for violating Title 18, Section 242 of the United States Code, which reads as follows:

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. . . shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both....

After all, Davis is clearly guilty of having done precisely that.

|| Greg, 03:43 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (31) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Republicans Can Win The Youth Vote, If We Pick Wisely

If there’s one thing that is constant about being a teacher, it is that you never quit being your students’ teacher. I mean, several former students have made that transition to colleague yet from time to time find themselves relating to me the same way they did when they were in my classroom. One of my former students took a job as a nurse in the office of one of my wife’s doctors and initially had trouble getting used to the idea that I looked to her as the expert rather than the other way around. There are advantages, no doubt, to that connection, too – I almost invariably get better treatment than I have any right to expect when I go to a restaurant or store and get assistance from one of my former students. And in recent years there are the special ones who reach out and with a friend request on Facebook after they graduate, seeking to keep the relationship we developed in the classroom alive even after they have moved on to “real life”.

It was one of this last group, a girl who I adored as a sweet ninth grader and then got to watch grow into a bright and confident young lady before she graduated a couple of years back, who sent me the following message Labor Day morning. She was full of questions at 14, and still has plenty to ask as she tries to become an informed adult in today’s rather confusing political climate

Hey, can we talk political? And I don't really mean in a debate, I just really don't know who is good to vote for. Trump is insane. Sanders is popular with my generation but he supports a lot of things I don't, gun control, de- militarizing the police, liberal stuff like that I'm not on board for. And how is he gonna make so much stuff free? Tax the hell out of us. I don't really want that. I'm just wondering is there is a likely candidate who isn't out of their mind.

How did I respond to her? I won’t go into details, beyond saying that I agreed with her observations on the two candidates she mentioned and offered her a few names – including one Democrat – who she might want to look at based upon the positions she expressed in the message and in her posts on Facebook. We chatted on and off for a while, batting around issues and ideas. It was fun – and it gave me hope.

Yes, that’s right – hope. In a day when too many of my generation have gotten caught up in the rhetoric of a reality show star who is temperamentally unfit for public office, here is one of those who is a part of a generation many conservatives have written off who is open to conservatism and isn’t falling for the cult-like candidate on either side of the spectrum. Over the course of the discussion it became clear that she wants a reason to vote for a Republican because she doesn’t like what the Democrats have to offer – but not at the cost of voting for a man whose approach to governance seems to have more in common with Mussolini than the Founding Fathers.

And the great thing is that she isn’t alone. In the first two weeks of school I’ve found a bunch of them. One of my seniors asked if he “ask a couple of questions” before he went to lunch – and we spent the whole 30 minutes of that lunch period discussing the Republican presidential candidates, some of whom he found rather appealing even as he was repulsed by rhetoric from Trump that made him, the son of Mexican immigrants, feel unwelcome in the Party of Lincoln and Reagan. Another told me about meeting the local leader of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition at an event this summer – and was surprised to learn that Ann Lee is a friend of mine. And still another has said he’s already decided to vote for Rand Paul in the Republican primary in March. Perhaps the most interesting is the African-American student who approached me after school and, after acknowledging that Barack Obama has not been a successful president, asked me why she ought to consider voting Republican.

You know what makes this the most interesting thing? As a government teacher, I go out of my way to not push my views on my students. I’m honest with them about what I think when I’m asked, but I always present the other side as well and make it clear that disagreeing with me acceptable. But what I’m finding is that these students are interested in politics and government and ready to get involved – and that they are looking for a reason to be something other than a liberal Democrat.

I've not had that happen ever before in my teaching career. That makes this phenomenon rather encouraging – but it also raises the question of whether or not we are reaching out to this generation. After all, so many of us who have been active in conservative/Republican politics these last 30 years cast our first presidential ballot for Ronald Reagan in 1984 or George Bush in 1988 – the last time the youth vote went for the Republican nominee. We have the potential to bring in the next generation of young conservatives – but that won’t happen if it means being Trump Republicans. And as all the research tells us, if young people vote for the same party in their first two or three elections, they will do generally do so for the rest of their lives. So not only is outreach important, but so is who we choose as our presidential candidate in 2016 -- because that choice will determine not only who wins in 2016, but also which party will have the advantage for the next couple decades.

|| Greg, 02:27 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (19) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why The Long Silence?

I have to be honest with you, my readers about this one. I just got tired. Having suffered from a combination of writers block and a decline in quality, I realized I needed to stop insisting upon demanding daily output for the blog. That didn’t help – and then life intervened. Paula became seriously ill, I became physically and emotionally exhausted, and I realized that I needed to work on other matters in my life (both personal and professional). I decided to drop blogging for as long as necessary – and return to it on a less rigorous schedule only when I felt it was time.

Well, I’m back – sort of. I will be writing, but not every day. I’m not going to take on every issue or every story. Hopefully that is going to make this a better blog than what it was before the Great Hiatus.

|| Greg, 02:23 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (187) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

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About Me

NAME: Greg
AGE: 50-ish
SEX: Male
OCCUPATION: Social Studies Teacher
LOCATION: Seabrook, TX
DISCLAIMER: All posts reflect my views alone, and not the view of my wife, my dogs, my employer, or anyone else. All comments reflect the view of the commenter, and permitting a comment to remain on this site in no way indicates my support for the ideas expressed in the comment.

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It Is Too Bad That Political Parties Cannot Reject Voters Who Seek To Join, Stop Would-Be Candidates Who Want To Run
Parents Up In Arms Over Students Being Expected To Know Things They Don’t Like
Time To Send Kim Davis Back To Jail
Watcher’s Council Forum On Kim Davis
Republicans Can Win The Youth Vote, If We Pick Wisely
Why The Long Silence?


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