Saturday, November 26, 2016

On the Bright Side, the Trump Presidency will help my knowledge of Civics

Everyone has an abundance of life experience prior to gaining any elected office. This leads to the creation of regulations of what you can and cannot do while in that office. At any level it is important that the elected official act in the best interests of his/her constituents while functioning in that position. Each level of government, and even more specifically each office often has its own set of regulations and guidelines to make certain that the elected officials knows what he or she is allowed to do. 

I can tell you from experience that there are very strict obligations at the very lowest level of government, and that even the appearance of impropriety in this regard can lead to significant concern, and then trouble for those involved. Unfortunately, our society seems to make a joke of the idea that all politicians are corrupt, in my experience nothing could be farther from the truth. There are however, significant opportunities to act in a corrupt manner.

When someone is tasked with managing the budget, or the resources of a community, they need to be steadfast in those dealings. When managing someone else’s money, transparency in private business, and in the public’s business is of the utmost importance. In some cases this is a very hard lesson for new politicians to understand. One of the very first things some small towns do is put new officials through an orientation, so that these rules can be explained.

There are two different concerns that I feel might be a concern with President-Elect Trump. The first and the one being reported on most by the media is the ‘Emoluments Clause’. This is in reference to Article I section IX, clause VIII, and a possible violation of this clause. Now I will admit that I did not know the exact definition of the word ‘emolument’, I know most of you use the word all the time, but I do not so I went ahead and looked it up. Emolument means: “ the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites”. (Merriam-Webster)

Now this basically states, as I understand it that the President can not be bribed. From my perspective, that only takes care of half of the problem. The President-Elect has a myriad of business holding through out the world. This was one of the reasons some people felt that he should be elected to the office in the first place.

However, these same interests might be getting in the way. In some countries there is an expectation of bribery in business dealings. In response to this the US government passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. This Act does not allow American companies to bribe foreign officials to garner business.  (Hamilton, 1981)  So not only can the President not take a bribe, but he/she can not be seen as offering a bribe either, if it just so happens that he has private business concerns.

President Trump is on record as saying that the law is ‘horrible’ and that countries such as Mexico and China that allow bribes, should be the watchdogs for this sort of behavior. (Silverstein, 2015) There are rumors that President-Elect Trump spoke to elected officials in both Great Britain, and in South America about various personal business dealings. Can we be sure that there was no offer of special political favors if the private concerns were properly addressed?

Is this making ‘America Great Again’ fulfilling our national destiny as a ‘Shining City on a Hill’, showing our ‘Exceptionality’, or is this just about creating a business advantage and making us even with countries that have no labor protections or expectations of transparency?

Hamilton, M. (1981, May 22nd). Hill Told Bribe Law Suspension Would Boost Worldwide Pact. Washington Post .
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Emolument. Retrieved from
Silverstein, E. (2015, August). Donald Trump has called the FCPA a 'horrible' law. Inside Counsel .

Monday, November 21, 2016

If 2008 was 'Hope and Change', 2016 was 'Fear and Loathing'.

It has been quite a while but here goes nothing.... I've been out of the blogging business for quite some time, but a part of me decided today that I should pick it back up. I've been a news junkie for a good bit of my adult life, but have limited myself to roughly 1 hour of news a day since the election. Compare that to roughly 4-6 hours a day, on average, for the last few years. The day after the election I watched 6 episodes of 'SpongeBob Squareparents' in a row. My daughter hasn't watched that show in years, and oh by the way I hate it. Hated it then, and still hate it. I'm very conflicted about this election. In the last two weeks, I've watched 'Sanford and Son', 'Good Times', and even 'Petticoat Junction'. In an attempt to harken back to a time when the country was more unified I decided to watch some 'All in the Family'. I mean the early '70s just had Vietnam and Watergate, heck those were nothing, they were unified singing 'Kumbayah' just ask anyone under 30. I just started watching the news again, not much mind you but some, a few family members have suggested to give the President Elect a chance. This person who has spent the last 18 months or so making fun of the election process, disregarding any level of decorum, and bullying anyone who disagrees, has also shown a remarkable disinterest in learning about the job, he is about to take on. Anyone reading this can get that sort of evaluation anywhere, I do not need to go into the weeds about that. As I write this I guess, I'm not willing to take a wait and see approach, the immediate future is quite bleak. The long term effects are most likely going to be felt as it regards the Judiciary. Not only is there one immediate openinng, but Anthony Kennedy is 80, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83, and Stephen Breyer is 78. That is potentially four Supreme Court nominations, something that could fundamentally affect our every day lives for many years past either 2020, or 2024. I very like will follow up on that issue in the near future. Honestly though, I find one reaction truly intriguing. Steve Bannon, the chief strategist for the President-Elect has suggested that they would be able to create a ruling coalition for the next 50 years.This is funny. They lost the popular vote, by over a million votes and are preparing for a coalition that will stand for 50 years. Curious. The Republicans won the areas of the country they always win, the rural and some suburban areas, of just about every state. It just so happens that they were able to energize those voters more than the Democrats energized the base that normally comes out for them. Now the Democrats are trying to figure out how to get back into power. The sad thing is one of the leading candidates, the one I happen to like the most, Rep. Keith Ellison, suggested they just didn't properly engage their constituency. This might be true, but it is not a long term answer for the party. Personally, I think the long term demographic and geographic trends will favor the Democrats, but they should be a bit more proactive. Just because the urban and coastal areas are getting more populous, and the rural areas are inherently becoming less populous means thar the Democrats should keep doing what they are doing. We have serious problems in this country both at the individual, and the macro levels. Both parties have serious concerns to confront in the next few cycles: Income inequality is a real problem, not only for those people on the plains of Texas, but also in the apartment complexes of South Florida. Rather than ignoring the farmer or rancher in Wyoming, listen and take to heart their concerns. Farmers and Ranchers are often strong proponents of the E.P.A., because not only do they rely on nature for their livelihood, they likely grew up enjoying it. Rather than ignoring those of us in urban areas because you know how we are going to vote, fashion part of your platform that is inclusive of the people you think should give you a chance. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats respected all of the voters. Note to Republicans this is not an equal distribution... David Duke and Alex Jones are truly despicable creatures. Their followers are as well. However, the President-Elect should spend more time focusing on how to fix the big problems of this country, and less time worrying about people that are exercising their First Amendment Rights. Calling women 'pigs', and denigrating the disabled, and some of his other actions I would find reprehensible in elementary aged kids. The people who are being displaced by lack of opportunity and/or education need to be respected and listened to. Contrary to some on the left, just because you are a welder in Hattiesburg, doesn't mean you can or should be ignored. Contrary to some on the right, just because I am quite educated does not mean I don't work hard for a living. In closing, I've spent years focused on process and the institutions of government. I abhor the idea of any sort of voting restrictions, and challenged in any way I could, attempts to disenfranchize voters. I complained about Republican attempts to strip the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I called legislators who voted on Bills related to Voter IDs, and other voting issues. I now urge the Democratic candidates to focus on putting forward solutions to problems not only in the urban areas, but also in the upper Midwest, the South and even in the Great Plains. Destroying the Constitutional Institutution of the Electoral College is not the answer, ideas that respect all of us, and address the needs and concerns of all of us is the way to go. Donald J. Trump has done nothing in his choices of rhetoric, or his staffing decisions have done nothing but scare the hell out of me. I pray to G-D I'm wrong, unfortunately I don't expect that to be the case.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Public Education for the 21st Century?

Education is a touchy subject these days. I figured that it was the right time of year to put in my two cents on the topic. I figured my opinion was worth at least that much considering my career (educator) and my role as a parent to a school age daughter. Schools are just starting to fire up. Many states are trying to change public schools into public private partnerships.

Considering the current reputation of public education in this country, I can understand the interest in alternatives. These public-private partnerships are FOR PROFIT. I didn't understand how this worked until this year, when we started considering a charter school for our daughter. I knew that charter schools typically (in my state) get about 70% of the government funding that the average traditional public school gets.

How then do they make it work? How does a school like that make enough money to be profitable. Well, the school we are considering, could get sponsorships from local businesses. They could also sell advertising. Imagine that.....

As you enter your child's classroom, you hear over the loudspeaker...
"Excuse me for the intrusion, Ms. Peterson, but 3rd grade today will be brought to you by Coca Cola corporation, children please remember It is the Real Thing. Ms. Peterson, you may now continue with your discussion of Integers."

Also realize that there are numerous programs (Gifted, ESOL , or ESE), that are required to be available in the traditional public school. These same programs are not guaranteed in the charter school setting. The traditional public school is THE great melting pot for our society.

It is my feeling that public schools don't need more money, nor do you need to pull your child out and put them into charter schools for the perfect educational experience. To guarantee a solid education for your kids, do one thing .

Spend 1 hour with your child doing homework or going over what happened in school. In other words, take ownership in your child's education and they will soar, regardless of the school setting.

By the way, here is the school supply list for the charter school for each child:

1 8 ct. Crayola watercolor paint set
1 pack of construction paper
1 primary half page journal composition book
2 primary full page composition books
1 regular composition notebook
3 packs of 3X 5” (lined) index cards
1 ruler with inches and centimeters
4 packs of #2 Ticonderoga (brand name) sharpened pencils
2 packs of 24 Crayola crayons (no twistables please)
1 pack of 8 count Crayola markers (thick)
12 glue sticks
1 pair of blunt scissors
1 pencil pouch (no boxes please)
6 rolls of paper towels
2 hand sanitizer bottles
2 containers of Clorox wipe cleaners
2 cans of Lysol spray
3 boxes of tissue
3 bottles of liquid hand soap
2 red plastic duo-tang with side pockets and center clips
2 green plastic duo-tang with side pockets and center clips
3 reams of copy paper
1 pack of Primary Writing Paper
1 pack of multicolor Expo dry erase markers (thick)
1 pack of black Expo dry erase markers (thin)
2 white magic rub erasers
1 pack of brown paper lunch bags
2 packs of Ziploc quart size bags
2 packs of Ziploc gallon size bags
1 disposable camera
***1 labeled seat sack
Spanish – green folder (duo tang w/ pockets)
composition notebook
pocket size Spanish-English dictionary
ream of paper

I wonder why I'm not supposed to label this stuff with my child's name on it?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

I don't think that word means what you think it means

3. The right to guaranteed benefits under a government program, as Social Security or unemployment compensation.

1825–35; entitle + -ment

As a youth, I watched the political establishment warp and maim ideas so that people became embarrassed to be labeled certain things. The most obvious example I can give is the word liberal. Hell, that word has been so successfully maligned over the last 30 years, that the liberal elements in this country now call themselves "Progressives". As far as I know liberal means vile things like open-mindedness and the nasty willingness to embrace change for the purposes of improvement. Improvement and open-mindedness, the mere concepts make me sick.

The same thing appears to be going on now in the media with the word (get ready to run from your monitor), ENTITLEMENT..... Did the lights flicker over your head, or the thunder crash right near you when you read that NASTY word?

I'm going to say it now; when I work for someone I am ENTITLED to a paycheck. It is an ENTITLEMENT. There is that nasty word again. No one gave me anything, I worked and under the terms of that contract I am ENTITLED to get paid. Well, when taxes are pulled out of my check, some of those taxes go to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and unemployment insurance. Therefore, as I work I am paying some of the costs of those various programs.

I am ENTITLED to the benefits of those programs, as are all of us because as we work we make a deal with government that we paid into the system and when we retire because of age or infirmity we are guaranteed a social safety net to avoid poverty. The word ENTITLEMENT is being redefined as government giveaway.

I don't think anything is a giveaway, if I've already earned it in my paycheck. Please feel free to correct me...

I'm now going to watch " The Real L word "; I hear it has some real Liberals.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Praying at the Altar of Stupidity

As I approach my 40th birthday, it might make sense that I have mellowed, relaxed, chilled or “slowed my roll”. Churchill

said  If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart,

if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain?”. I decided not to

google the quote but am certain it is something like that. Hell, since this is a blog about laziness, I’m going to google the term now and get you the exact quote. The summer is upon us, and it truly is not the heat, but the stupidity that disturbs me.


Whether it is the idiocy of Representative Weiner who along with countless others does not understand the ramifications of cyberspace communications, or the countless politicians who have taken leave of their respective senses and are about to drive the shaky economic recovery over a cliff, because they don’t understand what the debt ceiling is. I’m giving them credit; they might want to destroy numerous Americans’ jobs for political gain. Neither ignorance nor political avarice are terribly attractive in politicians.


Everyone reading this blog is probably very well aware of the debt ceiling debate as well as the various and tawdry personal scandals that pervade Congress, lately. The real question is “ Why should anyone be surprised?” I’m concerned about the possibility of federal default because I have a job that is at least partially federally funded. (I figure full disclosure is the way to go.) I also have numerous friends that are unemployed, and a default probably won’t help them in their various searches for gainful employment.


Honestly though, why is it surprising that politicians are acting like idiots. Look at the way we disrespect education in this country. Most industrialized countries in the world are putting a greater emphasis on education than we are? If anyone really needs an outside source on this one here it is. No matter which state you are reading this from, it is almost a certainty that schools in your community are having funding cut. With funding cuts teachers have to do more with less. While the education system us being starved, the American public has become enamored of shows such as Jersey Shore and various other reality T.V. shows. It has also become almost a political liability to be perceived as intellectual. To be fair, that problem appears to go back to the 1950s at least in Presidential elections.


As I approach my 40th birthday, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want my politicians to be someone who I can have a beer with. I don’t want every tawdry detail of their respective lives on a 24-hour feed. I want these people to understand the ramifications of their actions both in relation to legislation, and personal restraint so that they might set forth the best path for our country. In return, we as citizens should be expected to educate ourselves, and take responsibility for our children and what they do.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Interesting take from Huff Post

I find this interesting, just heard a writer from Huff Post say that this was going to be discussed as part of the debt limit debate. I wonder what this might mean, I mean these documents are so vague. The U.S. Constitution is well known for being written in a specifically vague manner. I mean it seems clear to be clear to me, but I'm just a simpleton.

U.S. Constitution Amendment 14-4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

If the Bill in question, concerning the debt limit of the nation has been raised numerous times previously, then precedent says it is an acceptable part of legislation. Boy it would be nice if I was more well read.

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Saturday, June 04, 2011

It's Coming.....