Sunday, October 19, 2014

Democracy and the Constitution

In announcing the 10/5/14 post in my email, I gave a quote from James Madison. It read, in pertinent part: "In framing a government which is to administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." Where do we stand with respect to our belief in the American system of democratic and limited government as based on our Constitution?

On the one hand, the conservative majority of the Jefferson County School Board tried to change the history curriculum to reflect the "benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights," and not having classes that support or condone "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law." Protests by teachers, students and others ensued immediately.

No doubt legitimate objections can be made to that policy. To give just one example, segregation was the law of the land for quite some time. Are we to discourage or denigrate the advances made by the civil rights movement? Of course not. However, I believe the School Board was on to something nonetheless. Clearly, they understood the assault on America and American values that occurs on a daily basis in our schools and universities.

There was an interesting opinion piece in the 9/27-9/28/14 weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. In article entitled "Democracy Requires a Patriotic Education," Professor Emeritus Donald Kagan of Yale notes that: "We live in a time when civic devotion has been undermined and national unity is under attack." In this writer's opinion, we suffer at times a failure to teach the basics of American Civics and Government; at other times we see the assault on American values by left wing teachers.

For those of you who watched Jay Leno on the "Tonight" show, you saw him speaking to people on the street. The lack of appreciation for - and basic understanding of - how our government works was astounding. Many could not name the three branches of government, or the names of the Vice President and top cabinet officials. President Obama was in Los Angeles recently at a fundraiser hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow. Reflecting a complete lack of appreciation for, and understanding of how our government works, Ms. Paltrow said: "It would be wonderful if we were able to give this man (Obama) all of the power that he needs to pass the things he needs to pass."

I do understand Ms. Paltrow's viewpoint. What she is really saying, like so many on the left believe, is: 'I believe in a dictatorship, as long as it is a dictatorship of the left.' Ms. Paltrow suffers not only from a lack of education, but also from the leftist ideology which holds all leftist viewpoints supreme - over truth, democracy and the US Constitution.

Lest you think Ms. Paltrow is alone in her dangerous and idiotic viewpoint, we have this story out of Houston. The City Council and Mayor approved the "Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (H.E.R.O.)." It sounds good enough, as it bars discrimination based on various group identities: "sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity or pregnancy." However, this ordinance apparently allows men to use women's restrooms, and vice versa. Some Houston Pastors objected, and raised enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot. Or so they thought. The City declared that there were "irregularities" in the signatures and threw out the petition.

Thereafter, the Pastors filed a lawsuit in order to get the their petition approved and the measure put on the ballot. Then the City did this - they issued subpoenas to various Pastors asking for copies of "all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to H.E.R.O., the petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession." It is difficult to imagine a greater attack on, and less appreciation for, the First Amendment to the Constitution, which protects both speech and religion. After initially defending the subpoenas, the City Attorney then seemed to say if the subpoenas were over broad they were issued by outside counsel, acting on behalf of the City Attorney's office.

It should be noted that Mayor Parker is the first openly lesbian mayor of Houston. It should also be noted that subpoenas were served on Pastors who did not even join in the lawsuit. If the subpoenas had simply inquired into the signature collection process, as that is the legal issue, fine. But Mayor Parker tweeted this: "If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermon are fair game." Really? At this point I wonder who has less understanding of our system of government - Parker or Paltrow?

I am curious, Madam Mayor, how the content of sermons is relevant to the legitimacy of the signatures obtained. And I am greatly concerned that because you believe some of the sermons might have "political" content, that that means you are entitled to copies. For what purpose? Do you intend to prosecute those Pastors for "hate speech" because they are advocating their religious views? Let's be clear; certain religious sermons can also be considered to contain political content - such as sermons on abortion or gay marriage. These are both religious and political issues. So what? Or is it your intent to suppress religious speech with which you disagree, giving us yet another example of leftist ideology trumping our American values, including the most basic values of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

So maybe Professor Kagan and the Jefferson County School Board have good points. Maybe it is not just Hollywood morons like Gwyneth Paltrow who need an education, but elected officials like Mayor Parker as well. Maybe, in fact, it is a systemic problem in our society that needs to be addressed - before it is too late.

My Dad graduated from high school in 1929. They had large and beautiful diplomas, listing all the high school subjects as well as the number of units each student took in each subject. Not surprisingly, he had the most units in English, with 20. But he also had 5 in Latin. And, most significantly, he not only had 2 1/2 in American History, but another 2 1/2 in "Community Civics" and yet another 2 1/2 in "Democracy." Sometimes older, not change, is better.

My Ex-Son and Ex-Daughters

(For those readers new to this blog please note that I previously wrote about "My Ex-Wife" on July 20, 2014. This post covers the latest news on this topic.)

Out of Lincoln, Nebraska comes this story, as reported by Todd Starnes on The assault on gender distinctions continues - even in the Heartland. A memo was apparently sent to teachers advising them "Don't use phrases such as 'boys and girls,' 'you guys,' 'ladies and gentlemen' and similarly gendered expressions to get kids' attention."

Let's recap. In California, the terms "husband" and "wife" are eliminated from the law because of their inherent bias. In California public schools, boys who feel like girls can use the girls' restrooms and play on girls' sports teams, and vice versa. Although, I am not quite sure why there still exists separate teams or restrooms for boys and girls, given that boys and girls don't exist. In Houston, a city ordinance passed allowing adults to use any restroom they feel best suits their gender identity. Opponents refer to the ordinance as the "Sexual Predators Protection" act, or something to that effect. (More on other issues related to the Houston ordinance in the next post.)

So, back to Lincoln. Brenda Leggiardo, described as the school district's "coordinator of social workers and counselors," defended the memo: "The agenda we're promoting is to help all kids succeed." I'm confused. Exactly how does the elimination of distinctions help kids succeed? I thought things like a good education and good work ethics and good values helped kids succeed. But, if we are eliminating distinctions, how do we make sure some kids are not taller than others, or heavier, or more athletic, or smarter, and on and on. We can make sure that everyone is blond, however, assuming that is a worthy goal.

What if a teacher wants to divide the class into two groups? The memo suggests asking kids who likes milk and who likes juice; or who like skateboards and who likes bikes? When it reaches this level of absurdity there is nothing more to say. Or is there? While suggesting teachers do not use the words "boys" or "girls" they do have a possible replacement: "purple penguins!" Okay, now we've hit the maximum level of absurdity.

Maybe my readers can help me out. What should I call my adult son and two adult daughters? Yes, I can use their actual names, of course. And I can use "child" or "children," but those terms seem much less personal. I still use "my son" or "my boy" when speaking to or emailing my son. I still use "my girls" or (horrors!) "ladies" when speaking to or emailing my daughters.

What is prompting all this politically correct nonsense? As I have stated before, once we start changing definitions, then we are headed down a path for which the ultimate outcome remains unknown. Yes, it started with redefining "marriage." I would love to know how many in favor of that change support all the other predictable changes to our language. I only hope that it will never reach the point in my lifetime where my boy and girls stop calling me "Dad."