The Shifting Political Climate

I haven’t yet commented on a special election from last week here in my state of Florida. Many are seeing it as a portent for what awaits Democrats this November. In a race to fill a congressional seat in the Tampa area left vacant by the death of a long-time Republican representative, Democrats thought they had a slam dunk with Alex Sink, a woman who barely lost the governor’s race in 2010. In that race, she had won this congressional district, and the district, despite having the Republican congressman, had gone for Obama in both presidential elections.

David JollySink was running against a largely unknown Republican, David Jolly, who had to battle the image of being a lobbyist. Polls all along predicted a Sink victory, only to find the real poll on election night was more accurate. Jolly won the seat, primarily running against Obamacare. All Sink could do about Obamacare was offer some vague promise to “fix” it, whatever than meant.

The result was somewhat of a shock. Immediately, Democrats said the loss had nothing to do with Obamacare, that this was somehow a stolen election because Jolly got so much funding from groups nationwide. Never mind, of course, that Sink outspent him four-to-one; that fact is inconvenient.

Those who didn’t use the “election stolen” line tried the other old tactic: this race is not an indication of what’s coming; it was simply one insignificant special election in a district that already had a Republican congressman and Obamacare had absolutely nothing to do with the loss. Doubling down, one Democrat consultant, Bob Shrum, has now told Democrats to boldly run on Obamacare in the November elections. Shrum, by the way, is primarily known for running losing campaigns at the federal level.

Well, I would like to echo Shrum’s advice: please run on Obamacare.

Dems Sinking

In case Democrats haven’t noticed, the political climate is shifting:

Then-Now

It’s hard to say whether Obama or Obamacare is more unpopular—they’re running neck-and-neck. Democrats’ great hope now is that they can put forward another “historic” figure for the next presidential cycle. They’re counting on the idea that it’s a woman’s turn and that Hillary Clinton will waltz into the White House. I’m sure they’re already busy working on some winning campaign themes:

Barack Who

They’re also counting on collective amnesia:

Best Possible

The only real question remaining is whether Republicans will put up a challenger who has a strong message and can deliver it in a way that will attract voters. I’m not yet prepared to say who I think that person will be. Watch and pray is a Scriptural admonition; it applies in this situation as well.

Making Life Difficult: It’s Disgusting

“It’s disgusting.” Who said that? A National Parks ranger when asked to comment on the directives the National Park Service has received from the Obama administration with respect to shutting down national monuments and parks and closing off access to the public. Here’s his full quote:

It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation. We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.

I commented last week on the shutdown of the WWII Memorial, a move so blatantly political that it astounds even the most cynical amongst us. That memorial is an open-air monument to those who served in WWII. There’s really nothing to “close.” People walk through it if they are on the National Mall. The only explanation is the one provided by that Park Ranger, who, I hope, has not lost his job for speaking the truth.

Mt. RushmoreBut the outrage at the WWII Memorial was only just the beginning. Mt. Rushmore is the chief tourist attraction in South Dakota. Not only are the trails closed, but cones were placed along the highway viewing areas, keeping tourists from pulling over and taking pictures of the mountain.  The Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism stated, “They won’t even let you pull off on the side of the road. I just don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish.”

I can tell you, Mr. Secretary. They want the annoyance to be so great that the public will blame those the Obama administration wants them to blame—Republicans in Congress. Of course, those are the same Republicans who have passed out of the House seven separate bills funding key agencies; those bills, however, are not even being allowed a vote in the Senate, and President Obama has vowed to veto them even if they should pass through Congress.

So who’s to blame?

Let’s don’t stop itemizing those “disgusting” actions. I have a few more.

Mt. VernonMt. Vernon, George Washington’s home, is a privately owned and operated historic site. The only connection to the federal government are some jointly owned parking lots. That, apparently, was enough to order rangers to close off those parking lots, keeping visitors from going to Mt. Vernon. Meanwhile, a lesser-known historic site, the Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McClean, Virginia, was closed, even though it receives no federal funding at all. To our federal government, there seems to be no distinction between public and private.

In my state of Florida, charter guides received a message from the National Park Service that they can’t take clients fishing in Florida Bay, which is more than 1,100 square miles from the tip of the Florida mainland to the Florida Keys. So that means even the ocean is off limits? Can anything be more absurd?

Well, they’re making an attempt at greater absurdity. In Nevada, people who have lived in their privately owned homes for nearly forty years have been turned out and not allowed access to them because they sit on federal land by Lake Mead. One couple, aged 80 and 77, have had to live in a family-owned ice cream parlor for days now, and won’t be allowed to return until the shutdown is over. I’m glad they had an ice cream parlor to go to, but that’s hardly a home, certainly not the one they’ve lived in since the 1970s. Funny how no other government shutdown—and there have been about 17 of those over the years—ever required that citizens lose access to their homes. This has happened only under the Obama administration.

REIDMaybe one of the senators from Nevada could help this couple. Let’s see, who represents that state in the Senate? Oh, yes, that would be Harry Reid, erstwhile Majority Leader. You know, the one who won’t allow a vote on funding. This is strange. We all know it’s Republicans who hate children and old people, always starving them and throwing them out on the streets. At least that’s the rhetoric we always hear.

I’m also a little tired of the moral equivalence game being played, where both sides are held equally to blame for this situation. It’s the president who says he won’t negotiate, not the Republicans. It’s the Democrat Senate that won’t fund separate bills, not the Republican House. This is the height of political manipulation aided amply by the Obama media.

The mainstream media will do all in its power to promote the Obama propaganda. Alternative voices must be raised to counter the propaganda. I will do my part, however small my audience. If we all do our part, perhaps enough people will hear the truth and confront the real culprits. I will do what I can; I will not remain silent in the face of such massive manipulation and dishonesty.

The Obama minions are doing all they can to make life difficult for Americans. I agree with the aforementioned park ranger: “It’s disgusting.”

The Real Critique of Common Core

Common CoreUp until now, I’ve not written anything specific with respect to the Common Core program being promoted from on high and apparently accepted as a guideline/goal by more than forty states. The promise is that it will set standards to prepare students for college and the workplace. Thus far, standards have been set for math and English language, with plans to extend them to other subject areas.

One reason why I’ve not waded into this field prior to now is that I have almost no interest in it. I realize that may sound strange, coming from an educator. As a university professor, shouldn’t I care about this? Well, I do care. It’s just that I’ve never had any faith whatsoever in any “plan” to raise educational standards, especially any plan imposed from those who consider themselves to be the experts. Above all, I’ve never accepted the rationale that education is a legitimate function of the government, whether at the federal or state level. Therefore, my interest level in what they propose is naturally low.

I have seen the critiques of Common Core from the perspective of those who believe it actually lowers expectations rather than raising them. The critiques sound reasonable. Even though there are some cultural conservatives backing this initiative, I think they are misguided in their support. They mean well; they want higher standards in theory. Yet there are solid reasons to doubt that Common Core will provide them.

Rotten Common Core

That’s the practical level of criticism. My critique, as I’ve already noted, is more basic. I’m opposed to any government-sanctioned and/or government-funded plan. Education is the responsibility of the parents who, ideally, should have a market in the private sector from which to choose the source of their children’s education. We messed that up in the mid-nineteenth century when we began to set up state educational establishments called boards of education.

All studies show that children educated at home or in private schools perform significantly better on standardized tests (another bugaboo of mine, but I’ll set that aside for the moment). As public policy, government at both the federal and state levels should be expanding the private sector in education, not seeking to curtail it or force it into a predetermined mold like Common Core.

Robert Small ProtestProponents have sold Common Core as a grassroots movement; it’s anything but that. All one has to do is look at an incident last week in Maryland where one parent, Robert Small, stood up and raised his objections to the orchestrated meeting parents were attending to learn more about the plan. He was frustrated by the lack of interaction allowed at the meeting; everything was prearranged to push parents into approving the new standards, with no other views allowed to be expressed. For his “repugnant” act of standing up to the educational establishment, he was ushered from the room by security and threatened with prosecution. A little bit of common sense prevailed when that specific threat was withdrawn.

Stop Fed EdThis is the face of the Common Core establishment in action. I cannot support it. I’m pleased to report that Rick Scott, governor of my state of Florida, shortly after that incident, withdrew our state from the Common Core testing regimen. Hopefully, that is the first step toward complete disengagement from the plan. I have a feeling, as protests mount, that a number of states who originally signed on to this initiative will have second thoughts and withdraw as well.

Early Americans were always cautious about handing over control of their children’s education to the government. Their concerns were specific:

  • The threat of the government dictating the type of education, and of determining what is acceptable and what is not, thereby opening the door for tyranny.
  • The threat of removing the responsibility of education from the proper sphere of family, church, and locality.
  • The threat of higher taxes to pay for whatever the government deemed to be “legitimate” education.

In other words, they feared government control over the minds and pocketbooks of citizens.

By the way, search as you might through the federal Constitution, you will never find any authorization for the federal government to legislate or spend even one cent on education. It’s time to get that level of government out of the education business. Then we can work on getting states out of it also. The private sector will do just fine educating the next generation, particularly if we return all that tax money to the parents and hold out tax privileges to those who wish to contribute voluntarily toward helping those who might not be able to afford tuition.

Yes, there is a path toward better education, but it doesn’t come via Common Core.

The Christian Response to Zimmerman-Martin

I’ve made pretty clear in my last two posts that I don’t think race had anything to do with the events on the night Trayvon Martin was killed. Yet we are now mired once again in racial tension over the verdict in that trial. America doesn’t need this. We’re already a severely divided nation; this only increases that divide.

Black & White

Unfortunately, there are some who want to foment unrest over the trial’s outcome. One of the premier agitators is the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is calling for massive protests in one hundred cities. He’s also calling for a boycott of Florida, as if all of Florida is responsible for what happened. Does he not realize it was Florida’s government that went forward with the Zimmerman prosecution? He also insists this was a racial thing, despite all the evidence to the contrary—or more correctly, the complete absence of any evidence that points to racism.

Stand My Ground

I’ve watched the Rev. Al for many years. He has been responsible for foisting fraud upon the American people—anyone remember Tawana Brawley? Look it up. His inflammatory rhetoric also incited a mob to riot, leading to one death in the Jewish community in New York City. Now here he is again. Frankly, I don’t mind if Al Sharpton decides to boycott my state of Florida. I would rather he not grace us with his presence.

What has disturbed me most about Sharpton is his title: Rev. I find nothing in his spirit that is consistent with the Holy Spirit. Many use the name of Christian, but their actions belie their words.

How should a genuine Christian—one who seeks to honor the Lord in everything he/she does—respond to what has transpired in the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin incident?

First, we need to recognize that God has created only one race, and it’s called “human.” Within that one race is diversity. God likes diversity. He also wants us to judge one another, not on outward features such as skin color, but on inward character. Isn’t that what Martin Luther King said in his “I Have a Dream” speech? This means that all prejudice based on what our society deems as “race,” must be banished from a Christian’s heart.

Second, we all live under, and are responsible to, God’s eternal law. He is always just in his judgments, so we, as His hands, feet, and voice on this earth, must also be just. Any white person who names the name of Christ, yet assumed Zimmerman’s innocence before having any evidence, would be violating God’s standards. Conversely, any black person who claims a Christian testimony, yet assumed Martin was innocent prior to hearing both sides of the story, would also be in violation of God’s justice.

Third, anyone who furthers attitudes of bitterness and resentment—whether white, black, or any shade in between—does not have God’s heart. We are called to do all we can to bring reconciliation, which requires repentance for any wrong attitude. No one can incite others to violence and have any credibility as a Christian.

What we have before us now is an opportunity to show the world that Christians of all colors can unite as one in Christ. I’m a member of a church that is multiracial; everyone is welcome regardless of ethnicity. Why? Because we recognize that we are all sons and daughters of the Most High. We will spend an eternity together, so we might as well get used to one another now. I teach classes comprised of white, black, Hispanic, and Asian students. While I know we all have different backgrounds and cultures, I also know that for those who are true Christians, there is no real divide.

Now is the time for those who have taken up the Cross and committed themselves to discipleship to stand out and be noticed for their love and unity. That’s God’s call to us in these troubled times. We need to be faithful to that call.

Fascinating–and Unbelievable–Polls

Fascinating. Truly fascinating. And totally unbelievable. To what am I referring? Polls released yesterday indicate that Obama is ten points ahead of Romney in Ohio and nine points ahead in Florida. Why don’t I believe them? I’ll get to that in a moment, but first, are we really supposed to believe that a president who consistently shows weakness in polls about policy is that far ahead in these critical swing states? I mean, there’s an awful lot of baggage to consider:

But the media is fighting diligently for his reelection. Last week, when an audio tape surfaced of Obama in 1998 declaring his belief in redistribution, there was no pile-on by media elites. To them, this was not in the same league as Romney’s 47% remark. Romney was excoriated over that one, while Obama got his usual pass:

It is possible, of course, that the electorate is deaf, dumb, and blind to what has occurred over the last four years. In that case, these polls might be accurate. There are videos going viral right now showing Obama voters displaying their ignorance over the basic facts of American government, current policies, and even the identification of the candidates. So, yes, there is the possibility those polls are revealing this abysmal lack of knowledge and astounding ideological rigidity.

But there are solid reasons to question the accuracy of the latest round of polls. A look at the breakdown of those being polled reveals a stupefying oversampling of Democrats and undersampling of Republicans and independents. Most of the pollsters—not all, thankfully—and the ones who are receiving all the publicity, are using the 2008 election turnout as their basis for whom to poll. Well, 2008 was the high water mark for Democrat turnout. Is it even reasonable to assume the turnout will be the same for 2012? Not only is the energy level of Obama voters ebbing, but independents who went for him in 2008 are having a lot of second thoughts. Nearly every poll indicates they are disillusioned with the results of 2008.

What are the pollsters missing? How about the 2010 congressional elections? Remember those? That’s when the House turned Republican and Republicans increased their numbers in the Senate. It’s when Tea Party-backed candidates such as Marco Rubio stunned the political establishment. Florida voters put Rubio in office even as he ran not only against a Democrat, but also against turncoat Charlie Crist. Rubio, in that three-way race, still broke the 50% mark. Is that same electorate going to go strongly for Obama? Hardly likely. It seems to me that 2010 is a better marker for following the voting trend.

Think a minute. Has Obama done anything since the congressional elections to increase his popularity? The economic news remains dismal. His Obamacare mandates are forcing religious organizations to go against their beliefs, putting freedom of religion in jeopardy. He is currently being caught in a boldfaced lie about the real cause of the Libyan uprising.

It is manifestly dishonest to conduct skewed polling. It is a violation of sound journalistic practice to become a cheerleading squad for the president. I’ll be very interested to see what the true voice of the people is when the one poll that counts is tallied on November 6.

The Lakeland Rally

 

The Republican convention ended on Thursday evening, and right away the next morning, both Romney and Ryan showed up just down the street from me. For whatever reason, the Romney plane was at the Lakeland Regional Airport; they chose that as their departure place rather than the Tampa International Airport. That means they had to drive from Tampa to Lakeland, about a 45-minute jaunt by bus. Since they were going to be this close, I figured I should travel that mile or so over to the airport to see them off. The rally was much larger than I anticipated.

Romney’s plane already was there as a patriotic backdrop. I didn’t get there as early as some, so my view wasn’t the greatest. I did see and hear our congressman Dennis Ross, though, who is a principled man who stands by his convictions.

As is the case with most of these presidential rallies, nothing starts on time, so even though the official starting time was 9:30, the principals didn’t arrive until at least 10:15. You can see the kind of view I had in this picture:

In case you can’t tell, let me confirm that is Ryan speaking in the distance. Binoculars would have been nice. They did try to help out, though, with a screen off to the left:

Someone else who was there had a much better vantage point, so I owe the following two pictures to him:

Photo Courtesy of Michael Barrett

Photo Courtesy of Michael Barrett

Why a stop in Lakeland? We are the center of the Florida political universe. Northern Florida is resoundingly Republican. The southeast, anchored by Miami, Palm Beach, and Ft. Lauderdale, is predominantly Democrat, with the exception of the Cuban enclave. Central Florida, where I am, is the mixed area, and will determine the direction Florida goes in this election. Lakeland is right between Tampa and Orlando, so we see the candidates quite often. I’m sure this won’t be the last opportunity before November.

I watched a lot of the Republican convention and was impressed with how women and minorities have become a key contingent within the party. While many speeches smack of boilerplate in both parties, there were some addresses that transcended the ordinary. Anytime Marco Rubio speaks, it’s from the heart. Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech was nothing short of stupendous. Romney’s was just what it needed to be, as he introduced himself to the country as someone who took risks and had to work his way up on his own. He didn’t come across as an emotionless robot at all; I’m convinced that many undecided voters who were watching him had to come away from this speech impressed with the fact that he is very human, a true success story, and someone who just might be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

The comments today at the rally were nothing new, but recycled from those convention speeches. That’s fine. There hardly was time to come up with anything new. What I did sense in the crowd was anticipation and excitement. They think Barack Obama is in his final weeks as president.

As he should be.

Life Goes On

Tropical storm Isaac never really threatened the Tampa area. On Monday, I was wondering how bad it was going to be when I went out in the car. I found out it was almost a normal day. A little rain, even less wind, no problem. The Republican convention played it safe by calling off all activities that day; that’s understandable. If they hadn’t, the media would have bludgeoned them forever as insensitive. Some will do it anyway simply because Isaac is now upon New Orleans. In their view, all of life must come to a standstill over this storm.

Well, life goes on . . . and so does the convention. If you’re watching any station covering the proceedings besides Fox News, you have to prepare yourself ahead of time for what you will hear:

Protesters can be seen in the streets doing their usual thing. Even Joe Biden is coming to Florida during the convention. He had planned to be in Tampa, attempting to divert coverage and offer some of his typical inane commentary, but his handlers apparently thought better of it at the last minute. Their cover was that his presence would have interfered with any emergency situations that might arise. Well, that could be the real reason, but then again, given Mr. Biden’s predilection for foot-in-mouth disease, one can be excused for believing otherwise.

Meanwhile, the president is busy focusing on the essential issues facing the nation:

I wonder how long he’s going to try to get away with that?