Can We Agree to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable?


Today #HB1523 is trending on Twitter. Reactions range from “this is legalized discrimination” to “thanks for standing up for the First Amendment”. Of course, this is just another battle in a misguided war. I gave a quick treatment to this topic a couple of years ago. The argument hasn’t changed much, but that’s never stopped me from talking.

There is a key point, which opponents of HB1523 don’t seem to grasp: there can be no absence of discrimination in this debate. Opponents are quick to point out that Christians are discriminating against the LGBT community by refusing to bake cakes for them; however, they aren’t as quick to acknowledge that to force the Christian to bake a cake is also a form of discrimination. Gay couples are purposely targeting Christians in order to force them to provide services against their conscience. While you can argue all day long about the finer points of this dilemma, the argument is unnecessary because the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Or so you thought…

By this point it seems clear that the LGBT community found a loophole that the Founders did not anticipate. The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law…” because they didn’t anticipate that the time would come when the Executive and Judicial branches of government would be writing the laws. Pretty sneaky, Sis!

As I mentioned in my previous treatment of this topic, the LGBT cause is a religion. This is what Merriam-Webster gives as the definition of “religion”:

  • the belief in a god or in a group of gods

  • an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods

  • an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group

The LGBT Movement fits well under any definition of the word. Their god is the LGBT cause. By forcing others to make cakes, take pictures, etc. they are forcing their beliefs on others. In this sense, they are committing the greater sin. The Christian businesses simply declined to provide a service, but they never forced their beliefs on the customer.

The cake is a red herring, though. The real concern is about churches being forced to perform gay marriages. If a Christian can be forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding then why can’t a church be forced to perform a marriage ceremony for a gay couple? The answer is obvious: there is no reason. It’s all part of the same argument.

The Mississippi law frustrates me because it feels like an acknowledgement that the First Amendment doesn’t actually provide these protections, which is, of course, false. On the other hand, what choice do states have when the courts have run amok? The courts clearly feel they have the right to deny civil rights to one group in the name of securing rights for another. It becomes all the more frustrating because there are plenty of bakeries and photographers that would be happy to provide services for gay weddings. The LGBT community has decided to target Christian businesses for no reason other than to force their religion on them.

Many of the people screaming on Twitter are outraged by the hate surrounding HB1523. While I’ll agree that the hate is unhinged, I’ll disagree with where it’s coming from. I’ll include just a couple of messages from the top of the list. You can look it up yourself if you want more:

C'mon, guys, what do you expect.These inbred #Mississippi retards haven't even changed their racist flag yet.#HB1523

— imfabulous (@imfabulous13) April 5, 2016

If you can't remember how to spell Mississippi, remember it's:
D-U-M-B-A-S-S-H-O-L-E-S #HB1523

— Benjamin Siemon (@BenjaminJS) April 5, 2016

The solution is obvious, but is certainly unpopular in today’s climate. First, the Constitution guarantees religious liberty. It does not guarantee cakes or wedding photography. The Bill of Rights places restrictions on the government, but does not guarantee services. Phrases such as “shall make no law”, “shall not be infringed” and “shall not be violated” indicate that the Founders intended for limitations to be placed on government, not the people.

There is another side to this coin, though. Gay couples, Constitutionally speaking, should have the right to be married. As should any other combination or quantity of adults. Churches can teach against it and they can refuse to perform these marriages, but people can leave and go find another church that will perform the marriage (there are plenty).

There is no scenario where at least some form of discrimination does not exist. This does not mean hate. It does not mean bigotry. It just means people with different ideas will choose not to do business with each other. If we acknowledge this we can have a peaceful, loving world. By constantly suing and destroying the businesses of those with whom the LGBT community disagrees, they are only perpetuating and exacerbating the problem. They are creating wedges and division and fostering the kind of world they claim to deride.

For the Record: Why I Voted for Cruz


It’s easy to trash Trump and his supporters. It feels pretty good, too. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do any good.

I’m going on record to say why I voted for Ted Cruz in the Nevada Caucus.

The most important issue for me is integrity. I know that Trump has a “Lyin’ Ted Cruz” narrative going, but I just don’t see anything to base that on. It started when some Cruz people said that Carson dropped out of the race after seeing a story about it on CNN. Ben Carson’s actions were odd, so he shares some blame for getting this fire started. The move for Carson to leave the campaign trail at such a critical time seemed odd, so when CNN kept saying it was “unusual” it was easy to make an incorrect assumption. Still, Cruz apologized for the misunderstanding even though he had done nothing wrong. Cruz took personal responsibility for something that was out of his control, which speaks for his integrity. Instead of accepting the undeserved apology and moving on, Carson and Trump used it as a political wedge to further their own campaigns.

Another thing Trump likes to bring up about “Lyin’ Ted” is the misreporting of campaign finances. Trump likes to paint this as a donation from Goldman Sachs that Cruz was trying to hide. This is not true. It was a loan from Cruz’s own investment account, which was included in one filing and omitted (accidentally) in another. I believe that Cruz’s explanation best fits the facts. Trump is clearly being dishonest in order to convince people that Cruz is bought and paid for by Wall Street while he is personally “self-funded”. Cruz gets money from Goldman Sachs, but this is not why Trump is attacking him. It’s about “Lyin’ Ted’s” misreporting. Trump is clearly in the wrong on this. (** More on this at the end.)

Division and enmity are some of the greatest challenges that our country faces. Democrats and Republicans. Trump and NeverTrump. Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. 99% and 1%. Everything about our culture is meant to pit people against each other. Often overlooked in this campaign is the relationship between Ted Cruz and Glenn Beck. Evangelicals like Cruz are supposed to hate Mormons like Beck. Yet Beck has been campaigning with Cruz for several weeks. The message they share together is this: the Constitution was inspired by God and our country can only be repaired by returning to the founding principles. That should be a unifying message for almost everyone. Even if you don’t believe in God, you likely believe that the Constitution is special and worth preserving. While Trump is driving wedges, Cruz is sharing a unifying message through both his words and actions. It doesn’t seem like much because Cruz and Beck make it seem natural, but when you consider that Romney was hated by evangelicals in 2012 you can begin to appreciate the Cruz/Beck relationship. (Google these four names for a reminder of the 2012 mess: Romney, Perry, Huckabee and Jeffress.)

As someone who loves the Constitution, Cruz is the best one to help save it. Trump only mentions the Constitution to talk about how he’s going to change it. I believe strongly that Cruz can be trusted to pick good nominees for the Supreme Court. He’s never done anything that makes me think he will weaken the already fragile life left in the Constitution. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything Cruz says or does, but I believe he recognizes that there is a Higher Standard that we our all beholden to. The Constitution is the best representation we have of that Higher Standard.

Finally, Cruz has shown that he will do what he promises even if it’s unpopular. Trump likes to say that Cruz is the most hated man in Washington. Good. I want the man who is willing to stand up by himself to do what’s right. I’m tired of people sacrificing their personal values for money and/or power.

Cruz’s opponents look like a bunch of confused octopi reaching for anything they can find to hurt Cruz. There are basically three types of attacks Cruz gets. First, ad hominem attacks like “everyone hates Ted” or “Ted is really unlikable”. Second, attacks based on lies. Third, attacks on Cruz SuperPACs. Personally, I’m not voting for a personality. I want someone who is honest and will treat the Office of President with dignity and respect. If someone hates the President because he won’t compromise his values then good. If people have to make stuff up when attacking Cruz then his core character must be pretty good. Finally, I don’t like some of the SuperPAC ads, but Cruz has nothing to do with those ads. There are legal restrictions about what involvement a candidate can have with a SuperPAC. If you have proof that Ted Cruz is violating campaign law then please make said proof available.

In a nutshell, that’s why I like Cruz. I can vote for a good man with whom I disagree sooner than I can vote for a dishonest man who says what I want to hear. Fortunately, I don’t have to make that choice with Cruz. He’s a good man with whom I agree on many – if not most – things.

** The Goldman Sachs issue tends to be the one that Trump supporters have latched on to. Even Ron Paul made disparaging remarks about Ted Cruz by saying that “[Cruz is] owned by Goldman Sachs.” I’m not aware of Cruz sacrificing his principles in order to help Goldman Sachs. If you have examples please let me know. Most importantly, why should this matter to the beacon of pure libertarianism, Ron Paul? Shouldn’t a private business be able to donate what they want to whomever they want? If Cruz votes to use taxpayer money to prop-up a failing business (TARP) then we can talk. As it stands, I see nothing improprietous in Cruz’s actions.

GOP Debates (America’s Plague)


Against my better judgement, I sat and watched most of the GOP debate tonight. Then, in an act of masochism, I followed along on Twitter as ABC tortured America. It seemed a bit duplicitous to badger the candidates with questions about waterboarding while subjecting viewers to this spectacle.

My discomfort started with the GOP tweeters who were just there to support their candidate and demean all the others. Even Kasich had people tweeting about his knockdown punches. Yeah, I was wondering what they were talking about, too.

Later in the debate – during the discussion on abortion, specifically – the Democrats tweeters suddenly came alive. The two most common comments were that “no one supports abortion at 9 months” and “my body, my choice”. If it weren’t so tragic, it would be comical. These progressive intellectuals proudly standing up for black lives and civilian lives in Libya and the sacred lives of cop-killers and terrorist lives in Guantanamo and the lives of dehydrated border-crossers suddenly forget what they’re about when you talk about truly innocent lives. Then it’s not a life, it’s a choice.

I think I get where they’re coming from. I vehemently disagree, but I try to understand. I’m curious if these so-called pro-choice advocates are capable of understanding the pro-life argument.

Hillary Clinton has made the following comment: “When it comes to women’s health, there are two kinds of experts: women and their doctors.” I imagine a setting with three people sitting in a room – me, my mom and a doctor. My mom and the doctor are deciding whether or not I should be killed. I’m not allowed to say anything; I just have to sit there and accept whatever choice they make. After all, it’s my mom’s choice. If she decides I should die, then I must simply accept it. I wouldn’t want to inconvenience her by continuing to live, even though she brought me into the world.

This scenario seems ridiculous, but it’s exactly what happens when a woman chooses to abort her child. Are pro-choicers capable of seeing abortion this way? I don’t think they are; otherwise, they wouldn’t be so flippant and crass when discussing the issue. Regardless of how you feel about abortion, don’t matters of life and death deserve respect when discussing?

Contrary to their most fundamental beliefs, even the libertarians like to jump on this bus. Apparently, natural rights don’t take effect until an arbitrary future date, which is determined by the government they claim to hate.

How do people come together for a common good? How do we temper the rhetoric? How do we find enough common ground to move forward?

Gay marriage is an example of something we can solve together. One side says gay couples should be able to marry. The other side says they don’t want churches forced to perform gay marriages. The solution? Get the government out of the marriage business. Churches can perform gay marriages or not. You can get a civil contract in order to obtain benefits if necessary. Everyone wins, right? Wrong! Now you have to bake me a cake.

We have an acceptable solution right in front of us, but one side refuses to accept it. Both sides, to some extent. How do we overcome this? Is there any hope?

I’m asking seriously, because I don’t know. A lot of my confusion is caused by my changing beliefs (a subject for a future episode). I thought America was on the same ride as me when the Tea Party appeared. I thought we were in it together to restore America to her former glory! In 2010, we rocked the politicians on both sides as an answer to the establishment collusion on Obamacare. Now, we seem to be falling back asleep. When candidates talk about repealing Obamacare it mostly elicits a golf clap or two.

On the Democrat side, half their party is willing to overlook the felonious actions of their front-runner. On the Republican side, they say they must defeat Hillary at any cost! Even if it means electing a candidate who doesn’t share our values and beliefs (even Hitler would be better than Hillary!).

We’re better than this. I think the Republicans just need to pop a caffeine pill and make sure they’re awake and on task a little bit longer. Hopefully, the Democrats will have their own Tea Party-style awakening and will begin to reject their establishment. When they do, we all need to be ready to come together. I think the old phrase “united we stand, divided we fall” is particularly true for our time. Washington calculates ways to drive a wedge between people and for too long we’ve fallen for it.

Now that we know their game, it’s up to us to rewrite the rules…

Trump Redux – More Crazy Pills


Today is a big day in the 2016 Presidential Election. Today, Iowa is caucusing and America gets its first official glimpse at the sordid road that we will travel together in 2016.

This morning I caught a few minutes of Rush Limbaugh and heard an exchange where a caller made an impassioned plea for Donald Trump. He moaned that we’re always trying to convert people to our way of thinking and that makes Trump the perfect candidate! Here’s someone – Trump – who used to be against everything we believe but now embraces our principles with his whole heart. We would be hypocrites not to nominate him as our candidate!

It’s great when we can help someone see the light, but that doesn’t mean I want them as a presidential candidate. Especially when he just had those opposing views a few months ago. And the only thing that seems to have caused his conversion is that he’s running for president. And there are other people who actually share our beliefs ready for the job.

Republicans have always claimed to believe in two things: personal integrity and constitutional values. It doesn’t take a Ben Carson to see that Trump is unqualified because 1) he clearly lacks integrity and 2) he does not share our constitutional values. Consider how he speaks of anyone with whom he disagrees. We wouldn’t tolerate this from a Democrat candidate. Remember the whole Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky thing? “Character matters” was the mantra of the day. It was the reason why Republicans wanted Clinton impeached. Democrats said, “He only lied about sex. Everyone lies about sex.” Republicans responded “CHARACTER MATTERS! If he lies about this then who knows what else he’ll lie about?” It supposedly mattered then, so why are Republicans ignoring it now?

So, character no longer matters now; we only care about electing an outsider. People who think Trump is an outsider are delusional. As a donor, Trump has been more involved in politics than just about any other person on the stage. And the people he has donated to are mostly the Anthony Weiners, Harry Reids, Lindsey Grahams, etc. (this page has a breakdown). Can you imagine any scenario where you would donate to Charlie Rangel or Tom Daschle?

I’ve heard friends say they don’t like Cruz because “he can’t get anything done in Washington.” Okay, I disagree, but let’s think this through. This coin has two sides: one side is the politician who makes enemies and “can’t get anything done” and the other side is the politician who knows how to work with others. Kind of like John Boehner. The one we forced out because he did such a good job working with others to get things done in Washington. Why did we ditch Boehner but then embrace Trump? Consistency is apparently not one of our core values. (Note: this coin actually has an edge in addition to the two sides. The “edge” is the fraction of politicians who use principled compromise to get things done instead of doing a fire sale with everything we believe.)

Switching course, a few weeks ago I taught a lesson in church that was not about politics. Of course, when you have things on your mind then the scriptures take on different meaning as you read. In an effort to preserve my soul, I’m not going to use scripture to make a political point; however, I’ll provide one of the quotes that I found interesting:

And what of the meek? In a world too preoccupied with winning through intimidation and seeking to be number one, no large crowd of folk is standing in line to buy books that call for mere meekness. But the meek shall inherit the earth, a pretty impressive corporate takeover—and done without intimidation! Sooner or later, and we pray sooner than later, everyone will acknowledge that Christ’s way is not only the right way, but ultimately the only way to hope and joy. Every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that gentleness is better than brutality, that kindness is greater than coercion, that the soft voice turneth away wrath. In the end, and sooner than that whenever possible, we must be more like him.

Those words came from Howard W. Hunter and were certainly not about Donald Trump. But they could have been. Moving on!

Hopefully this doesn’t sound blasphemous, but consider faith. In a religious context, we know that you cannot have faith in something which is not true. Rather, you can exercise perfect faith in a golden idol, but this will get you nowhere because your faith is in something false. I believe many have turned Trump into a false idol and they are either too stubborn or too ashamed to look away. Maybe the false idol is that only he can beat Hillary. Or that he is the only one who can get things done in Washington.

So, who is the right candidate? Well, it’s easy to pinpoint who’s not. It’s also easy to identify who the right candidate might be. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” First, look for the candidates with personal integrity. Next, identify the ones that believe in the values put forth by our Founding Fathers. If you’re left with multiple choices, then you might want to consider who has the best chance of winning. In any case, you’ll be better off than if you select someone just because you think he might be the only person who can beat Hillary.

Support for Trump has come from surprising apologists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, etc. They may not be crusading the way many Americans are, but they are certainly turning a blind eye to this catastrophe. It’s up to us to look at the facts with both eyes (my apologies to any readers who may have lost an eye) and do the right thing. Not the cool thing, the popular thing or the “logical” thing. The right thing. And then find a friend and bring them along.

Voting for Trump (Clear Conscience Not Included)


Do you feel like you’re going crazy? I do. People I thought I knew are ripping away their masks and revealing that they are not, as they led me to believe, human, but rather some kind of weird flesh-eating zombie martians. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I’d be less surprised if that were actually the case.

Do you remember arguing with Obama supporters in ’08? They didn’t know anything about him, but they couldn’t wait to cast their vote for him. Even when facts appeared showing how radical Obama was (is), people shrugged it off. It became an emotional election rather than a competition of ideas. The whole Obama thing became so nonsensical that people resorted to voting for John McCain in a last-ditch attempt to deal with Obama supporters. John. McCain. Do you see where I’m going with this?

This election has become a repeat of the 2008 election in many ways. The only difference is that the Republicans are doing it this time around. Sadly, the result is going to be the same. Possibly much worse.

I’m not going to present a bunch of facts or try to make a lengthy argument against Trump (we’ve already seen that Trump supporters are immune to facts). I’m going to present my opinion as briefly as I can and I would love to hear someone make a logical argument for supporting Trump. Please leave a comment or send me a message.

One of the biggest problems I have with Barack Obama is that he does not recognize anything greater than himself. He’s a narcissist and is willing to do almost anything to get his way. You probably remember when he made this comment: “…I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.” It was his way of saying that he doesn’t need Congress – he can simply use executive orders to write legislation as he sees fit. Most countries with this form of government don’t call it a republic, they call it a dictatorship.

Trump fits the profile for a narcissist nicely. In fact, that’s pretty much what he’s famous for. Republicans don’t have a problem with it, though. Trump isn’t even hiding the fact that he would continue to use executive orders, but he says “I’m going to use them much better and they’re going to serve a much better purpose than what [Obama’s] done.” I understand that Bush did it, Obama did it and the next president will do it. The problem is that they are bypassing a branch of government to force their will on people. If the president wants to sign an executive order declaring Talk Like a Pirate Day to be a nationally recognized workday then I’m okay with that. If he wants to sign an order to ban firearms then we have a problem. I’m not comfortable with any president taking it upon himself to create laws, especially when they are contrary to rights protected by the Constitution. Don’t think this would be a problem for Trump? Think about what he has said about Muslims. Does it seem plausible that he could issue an executive order contrary to the First Amendment?

So, the man is a narcissist just like Obama. What about saying whatever it takes to get what you want? Obama has shown time and again that he is willing to say whatever it takes to get his way. There are plenty of articles and videos out there about this so I won’t belabor the point, but this sounds a lot like Trump. Here’s a person who praises someone one day, then turns on them like a rabid dog the next day simply because poll numbers have changed. The only things he remains constant on are the bad things. He has remained true to his beliefs about abortion and eminent domain, but that’s not a good thing. The big thing everyone seems to love about him is his spiel about building a wall and making Mexico pay for it. The problem is that his immigration plan is essentially amnesty. He wants a ‘uge wall (that Mexico will pay for), then he’s going to deport everyone and make them come back through the door. Like the burglar who broke in through your window who must now leave and come in through the door. Maybe that’s a bad analogy, but he’s still a bad candidate.

Trump has a lot of good things to say about Obama. Do you have a lot of good things to say about Obama? Of course Trump would be a big “cheerleader” for Obama. They have very similar political beliefs. Well, they did until Trump decided to run as a Republican candidate for president. In 2004, John Kerry was best known for being a “flip-flopper”. Now, Republicans have embraced the idea of a flip-flopper for president. What changed? Trump was for a Canadian-style healthcare system before he ran for president. “But he wants to repeal it now,” you say. That’s correct. Now he wants to repeal it. Now that he wants to be president. The list goes on an on.

So, why shouldn’t you support Trump? Well, the man is a bully. He tries to demonize and destroy anyone who doesn’t join his team. Look at what he did to Megyn Kelly. Personally, I think he is only running to stroke his own ego. Did anyone ever take Trump seriously before his presidential run? I don’t think Trump hates America, but I don’t think this campaign is about “[Making] America Great Again”. I think it has more to do with “Making Trump Great Again.” Of course, that would imply that he was great at some point. You decide.

There have been several great people in this race who are legitimate conservative/constitutional candidates. Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul come to mind. Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio might even be in the game. (Note: some of these I still couldn’t vote for for other reasons.) How did we lose Bobby Jindal and end up with Trump in the lead? I’m not going to say anything about the other candidates for now. Maybe that will give me a good reason to come back and pick the issue up again.

If Trump is the Republican nominee, I will not be voting for him. I said that about McCain in 2008 and voted for him anyway, but my views have changed dramatically since then. That’s part of the reason I haven’t been able to bring myself to post articles; because I’ve had some deep internal struggles with what I believe. I’ll say this: I believe it’s time to stop trying to win and time to start doing what’s right. I voted for Bush, McCain and Romney but I was wrong. I will not do it again. I thought Bush would better than Kerry and Gore, but Bush gave us Medicare Part D, TARP and a doubling of the national debt. I’m done voting for someone just to keep a different political party from winning.

I believe Trump will damage this country just as much as Obama (and Bush) did. I don’t believe a Clinton or Sanders would be worse. That’s a game that’s been played my whole life and I’m removing myself as a player. Washington has conditioned each party to treat the other as an enemy. What did Hillary say during a Democrat debate when asked which enemy she was most proud of? “Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians; probably the Republicans.” I don’t want to be an enemy. I want to be an American. I want us to be one country. I want us to be able to debate and disagree without treating everyone who doesn’t believe the same thing as the devil. This is not Trump. He has enemies. If you don’t believe it try getting close to him in the polls.

Why I Don’t Heart Common Core


If you aren’t familiar with Common Core by now then there’s not much I can do to help you. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but it’s dead and the activity can be fantastic for relieving stress. Now that I’ve thought about it I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided to beat a dead horse.

There are several problems I tend to encounter when discussing Common Core with others. I’m not going to dive too deep here, but I’d like to hit the major points I’ve considered regarding Common Core. I would love to know what you think.

First, I don’t care about Common Core math. There! I’ve said it. This seems to be what most most people think about when Common Core is mentioned. They talk about the crazy math that kids are being forced to do. I think the math is strange, too. I don’t always understand it and sometimes I have to go online to learn how to do things so I can help my kids. That said, the homework almost always says something like “Use the trade-first or any other method you want to solve these problems.” If you’re child connects with one method over another then they are always free to use a different method. My child really connects with the “lattice method” when solving multiplication problems. He will do math all day long and he gets the right answer every time. So who cares? You can even force your kids to learn your math methods and then have them complete the homework your way (as long as they show the work). Common Core math is weird. I don’t think it’s the easiest method. But I really don’t care. To focus on the math is to miss opportunities to discuss much bigger problems with Common Core.

So, what are the bigger problems? There are many, but I’ll touch on a few that bother me the most.

First, I don’t like a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching. Common Core is about treating all children as if they were the same. My own children have been left in the classroom with nothing to do while the teacher tries to help students who are struggling. This might not be directly related to Common Core, but I’ve heard a lot of other parents complain of the same thing since Common Core stepped onto the stage. It’s more about getting everyone to the minimum than about helping every child achieve their own maximum potential. This means smarter kids might spend a lot of classroom time just sitting at a desk reading a book. Not terrible, but they can do that at home.

Another big problem is the testing. Your government paid $350 million to develop tests for Common Core assessment. Were the old tests so bad that we needed to spend $350 million for new ones? Can our government afford to spend $350 million to develop tests? (Hint: No, it cannot.) And that was just to develop the tests. States still need to pay per child, per test. Can the states afford this? No, not really. Do you know what the purpose is of the test? Here’s the kicker: to get federal funding. That’s it. Test results are not received until well into the next school year, which makes the results useless in regards to helping your child progress. Yet, the tests are mandatory! Why? Because your state’s funding is affected if you don’t have at least a 95% participation rate in testing. The solution was obvious to Nevada lawmakers: make it “illegal” to not take the test. Your child is being sold by the state to the federal government to get funding. (Funding your government cannot afford to provide, mind you.)

Funding. That’s all this is about. Governor Sandoval wants to tax businesses more to pay for education. He insists that all the people of Nevada need to pay more for education. We’ve whored our state out to get federal funding by clinging to Common Core. No matter how much money is collected for education it’s never enough. The state keeps collecting but who knows where the money goes? The school my children go to is over capacity by nearly 3 times. Their playground is full of portable classrooms. Nearby schools have similar challenges. There doesn’t appear to be any effort to build new schools (at least not anytime soon). So, Sandoval punishes everyone in the name of education and we stay at the bottom. Kind of makes you think it’s not actually about education at all.

When you talk Common Core with people they generally will not have a problem with any of these points. The one that causes trouble is the dreaded data mining. Unfortunately, as soon as you say those two words people tend to tune out. What is data mining? Have you ever been searching for something online and then you realize that every website you go to has ads for those things you were searching for? It’s because your computer is building a profile about you to be used for marketing. It knows what pages you go to, what products you’ve been researching and then websites create a customized ad campaign to get you to buy those things.

This is very similar to what our school are doing to our kids. Nevada received $10 million in grant money (code for “paid for with your tax dollars”) to build a “longitudinal database”. This is basically just a system used to track information about kids in school. What kind of information would they need to track? The obvious answer would be test results and grades. I’m pretty sure that if this is all they were tracking they could do it for a lot less money. This database is actually designed to track test scores, grades AND information like religion and family income. And several hundred more data points. Many points are fairly innocuous, but there are a lot of questions about these databases. I guess it helps the government to figure how who is smarter between Catholics/Buddhists, hispanics/asians, boys/girls/other. But for what? It’s not necessary in order for my child to get a good education. Is the information being sold then? Does it go in a permanent file that follows children into adult life and forever after? I don’t think children should be treated like a product.

Of course, the biggest and brightest red flag is federal control of education. This is probably the easiest argument to make against Common Core. First, it’s argued that Common Core is not a federal curriculum. The problem is that the testing is federal, which means that teachers must teach to the test in order to get their students to pass. Which means it’s a federal curriculum. So, what’s the problem with having a federal baseline that states are required to meet? Pop quiz! Name something the federal government does well. Don’t worry, this is not a timed test. Healthcare? Postal service? Money management? Taxation? Border security? FDA? EPA? NSA? There are a couple things we could probably debate, but for the most part the federal government makes a disaster out of everything it touches. Do you really want these same people in charge of the education of your children?

There are more things I’ve thought a lot about, but many of these things tend to get clumped in the “conspiracy theory” category. They may be completely true; however, I think we’ve got a big enough fight with the things we’ve mentioned that we can put these other things on the back burner (for now, at least).

Unfortunately for you, I’ve got at least one more Common Core post in me. There’s good news, though. Once I’m done whining about Common Core it will be time to start with the 2016 election season. Yay.

You and the Elected Representatives Ruling Class


I’m finding that life is often complicated by life. I want to be here showering the world with drivel, but this can be a challenging challenge. To apply a serious thought to a trite matter, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” But enough excuses. I’m here now and ready to extract the blood from your eyes with the power of extreme inanity.

Over the past several months I’ve tried hard to become involved. When I say involved, I mean actually doing something. It’s not that I think that #hashtagtivism is worthless. The problem is that posting, sharing, retweeting, etc. is really the least you can do. Soooo, I’m trying to take it to the next level. Whatever that is.

In the past couple of months, I’ve attended a WCSD School Board meeting (that was amazing, let me tell you!), the legislative session when AB303 was discussed (amazing), as well as the session last Monday when Assemblyman Brent Jones proposed his amendment to SB75, which would have allowed parents the choice to opt their children out of SBAC testing (A. Maz. Ing.).

Monday was a particularly good example of state government at work. More than an hour and a half after the session should have started, officials were still wandering around as if they had nothing to do that day. Once they finally started (a couple hours late), they began with the formalities and blah, blah. Eventually, Assemblyman Jones stood up and presented his proposed amendment to SB75. First, they called for the ayes and a substantial number called out in the affirmative. Then, they called for the nays. A seemingly similar number of people opposed, only MUCH LOUDER. Since they yelled their opposition instead of simply saying “nay”, the amendment went down in flames. Since the decision rests solely in the hands of the chairman based on what he hears, there is no accounting of who was for or against the proposed amendment.

In addition to meeting up with others and attending meetings where important decisions are made, I’ve tried to get those around me involved. I’m extremely lucky that my beautiful bride has taken the lead when dealing with our children’s school regarding Common Core. We met together with the principal and let her know that we would not allow our child the take the SBAC exam, but we were essentially told, “Not an option. Too bad.” When WCSD finally decided to allow opt-outs, my wife again marched over to the school and completed the official request to opt our child out. She has educated herself and has become a great voice against Common Core.

(Interesting side note: When they took our child out of class during the testing, other kids were asking why our child was not taking the test. The teacher explained that there weren’t enough computers available and our child would be taking the test later. Liar.)

A frustrating part of this experience has been the realization that our educators and government are pitted against us as parents. The amendment on Monday was nothing more than language that would have officially allowed parents to opt their children out of SBAC testing. Those opposed were very clearly stating that you should not, as a parent, have any say in the education of your child.

Most frustrating has been the realization about why we are where we are. Many (most) people I talk to don’t know anything about Common Core. They don’t know what the SBAC test is, let alone why they should be for or against it. They don’t wonder why so much money is being poured into education, yet schools are 2-3 times over capacity. How can we expect anything different from our elected officials when no one is paying attention to what they’re doing?

I can’t do anything about anyone else, but I can do something about me. I’m trying some new things and I’ve got a few other things in the works. If you’re reading this I hope you’ll make a commitment to do the same.

For my next trick, I’ll try explaining what issues I have with Nevada education, Common Core and SBAC testing. If I start writing now maybe I can have two posts in 2015!

Happy Sesquicentennial Birthday, Nevada!


Today marks the glorious sesquicentennial for the magnificent state of Nevada. To mark this momentous occasion we’ve arranged for “legal” Nevada Day to coincide with actual Nevada Day.

You may remember that Nevada was admitted into the Union on the last Friday in October, 1864. You see, they wanted to ensure that the creation of the Union’s greatest state would be appropriately marked by a three-day weekend.

Of course, this is absurd. Nevada’s existence as a state began on October 31st, 1864, which happened to be a Monday. And now that you know that, Monday will surely be your favorite day of the week! To reduce one of the greatest events in the history of mankind to nothing more than an excuse for a long weekend is disgraceful.

Mark Amodei, in his darkest hour, initiated this tripe known as AB396 in 1997. Even Sharron Angle supported this preposterous act of terror against our state. Brian Sandoval stood as a lone warrior in his party, but was joined by four Democrats. They stood against this monstrosity, but to no avail.

This evil was put to a vote in 1998 and subsequently became “law” after passing by 5 shameful points. One has to wonder how the vote would have been different had transplants been excluded from the vote. If you have no interest in the state or its history then what business do you have even voting on something like this? Nevertheless, state law does not differentiate between blue-blooded Nevadans and commie-red-blooded California transplants.

I also wonder what would have happened had the ballot question been worded more accurately. For example, “Do you support changing history, which isn’t even possible?”

So, I’d like to take a moment to tell Mark Amodei “thanks”. Thanks for nothing.

Happy Birthday, Nevada!

Do You Have an Impeach-mint? Perhaps some Binaca?


The case for impeachment can easily be made, especially when President Obama is embroiled in so many scandals that it’s almost impossible to keep track of them all. That said, I can’t figure out why people like Sarah Palin are calling for impeachment. What purpose would it serve? As much as this president deserves to be removed (and probably locked-up), I think there are at least two major reasons why impeachment should be off the table.

First, I believe we’ve reached a delicate point in the history of our nation. Many of the people who voted Obama into office continue to support him. I have no doubt that they would continue to support him even if he broke into their homes and personally destroyed their children’s most beloved toys. And killed the family pet. And used the bathroom without flushing. Many of his supporters would find a way to excuse his actions and blame the Republicans or the 1% or the Koch brothers or whomever. But there’s  another group of supporters that are waking up. Whether it’s Obamacare, Common Core, immigration or something else, these people are fed-up and are beginning to question the Democrat Party and its leaders.

Many Republicans went through the same process during George W. Bush’s presidency. They wanted to believe that Bush was on their side, but he started down a path that many could not follow. It may have been immigration, TARP, Medicare Part D, war or something else, but they knew that they were not being represented or served by their party or president. The defection from the Republican party continues even now – perhaps especially now.

We’ve been pushed into a hyper-partisan world and told that those with whom we disagree are not just wrong, but evil. This lie is perpetuated by Washington. Americans are finding they have more in common with each other than they previously thought. Those on the “left” and “right” have a chance to come together because they both feel betrayed by Washington and they are tired of partisan bickering.

If Republicans begin discussing impeachment, I think it’s likely this movement will be reset.

To explain what I mean, let me share my own experience. During the 2000 election, Bush talked a lot about lowering taxes, privatizing Social Security and using private sector alternatives for Medicare, etc. This all sounded good to me and I gladly supported Bush; however, after he was sworn into office in 2001 he quickly began talking about amnesty for “guest workers” and other illegals. What’s more, he continued to push it even though Republicans were wildly against it. The Republican leaders were betraying the will of their constituents (not much has changed). Out of frustration, I headed for the registrar and officially left the GOP. Keep in mind that this all happened before September 11, so the betrayal and subsequent party change occurred rather quickly.

Fast-forward a few years and I found myself re-registering as a Republican because I was so frustrated by the hate and vitriol being spewed toward Bush by the left. Whether you agree with the man or not, the way he was treated was disgusting. My registration as a Republican was a reaction to the Bush-haters; an act of defiance toward them as much as an act of support for the president.

I believe that any discussion of impeachment will have a similar affect on those struggling with Obama. They might not like what Obama is doing, but they still view Republicans as “the enemy”. An attack on their “leader” will cause a reaction and they will reflexively defend him. By abandoning the talk of impeachment, these people will be further exposed to the corruption of this administration and others in Washington (both parties). This will hopefully allow time for their feelings to steel.

As this happens to both Republicans and Democrats, we have a chance to act as Americans to clean house in Washington. As a Nevadan, I don’t want two Dean Hellers any more than I want two Harry Reids.

Second, there is perhaps a more obvious reason to stop talking about impeachment. Here is a partial list of successors (in order) should Obama be removed from office:

  • Joe Biden
  • John Boehner
  • Patrick Leahy
  • John Kerry
  • Jack Lew
  • Chuck Hagel
  • Eric Holder

Tell me which name you stopped on and thought, “he would do a good job!”

So, impeachment really wouldn’t solve any problems and it would present a whole slew of new ones.

In case you were wondering after reading my spellbinding tale, I left the GOP again in 2009 and have no intention of returning. It presents some frustration since Nevada is not friendly to anyone outside the (R) or (D) clubs, but the answer is to improve fairness in voting rather than force voters to choose between two evils.

ALERT: Students FORCED to go to college and take on debt!

I’ve been struggling for a while now. I’ve been asking myself many of the same questions all of us ask. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What flavor of wings should I order today? Honestly, it’s not quite that dramatic. Not quite. But I have been suffering a crisis of sorts trying to reconcile my beliefs with the world around me. On occasion, I take to the blog and concoct some crazy tripe about my personal predicament. Never satisfied, I save the draft and walk away.

Until I can achieve some kind of personal peace with my political persuasion, I suppose I can find some relief by yammering about something else. Today’s topic is an asinine email I received from Senator Harry Reid. You can read the full text of the email here:

Get a tissue because you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and most likely give yourself a bloody nose.

Fair warning, after reading my thoughts you’ll probably feel the same way (except for the laughing and crying part).

So, here’s the gist: Students have too much college debt, so the government must bail them out!

Why do students have too much debt? Because “As higher education becomes more expensive, students are forced to take out more loan debt.” (emphasis added.) They are forced! Of course, the natural question is who is forcing students to take out more loan debt? Logically, you would then ask why is higher education becoming more expensive? After asking these questions, you might think it a good idea to find out who’s jacking up the cost of education and then forcing students to take out loans to pay for it. Wrong! We need a bailout.

There are three things that I ponder as I read the Senator’s words.

First, college education is a choice. Students go into college knowing the cost. If they choose this path in life, then they are also choosing the price that goes with it. If a person goes to a dealership and buys a Ferrari, then it seems silly that they would complain about being forced to make the payments month after month. Maybe they should be more pragmatic in their decisions. They can choose not to go to college or they can choose a less expensive school. There is no coercion.

Second, why is the cost of education going up? While the economy continues to suffer, the cost of higher education just climbs and climbs. Rather than do any real research, I’m just going to paste a couple of the first links that come up in Google when searching for information regarding the increasing cost of education:

The bottom line is that education costs have increased more than 1000% since the 70’s. Name something else that has increased similarly.

Add this to the fact that many schools are already incredibly wealthy. Harvard, for example, has an endowment of about $30 billion. Stanford and Princeton are almost $20 billion each. Yale is more than $20 billion. (Just for kicks, guess what BYU’s endowment is. Less than $1 million.) So again, why is the cost of higher education going up?

Third, Harry Reid says “the average debt per student is at an all-time high – nearly $29,000.” I’m no mathemagician, but that doesn’t seem so high that we need to start bailing everyone out. For example, a lower-end Ford Taurus can run you around $30,000. My guess is that a lot of college students are driving cars that cost more than their college debt.

It seems obvious why this issue is coming up now. The Democrats are trying to buy the votes of college students. To some extent it might work; however, I think a lot of younger voters are starting to wise-up to the political tricks of those in Washington.