The Confirmation Circus

Confirmation hearings for Trump’s nominees have become quite a circus. It was to be expected, unfortunately. I remember when Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin was putting forth his agenda a few years ago. Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature ran away to Illinois so there wouldn’t be a quorum to conduct business. Senate Democrats seem to be copying that strategy, refusing to show up to vote on whether to send nominees to the full Senate.

It’s a tried and true method used by toddlers, angry juveniles, and immature people everywhere.

Republicans had to alter the rules even to get the nominees out of committee. Perhaps it’s the only way to deal with temper tantrums.

In the Democrats’ crosshairs now is Betsy DeVos, slated to be the new education secretary. Since she’s an advocate for private schooling, the teachers’ unions are up in arms. They’ve been busy consolidating their support with the Democrats:

I’m always amused by cries of “influence” when aimed at various conservative groups who donate to Republicans. The National Education Association (NEA) and its allies practically own Democrats; they have more money to throw around than all conservative groups combined.

Soon we’ll be treated with the confirmation hearing for Neil Gorsuch, chosen to take Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court. The circus will continue. Over a decade ago, Gorsuch received a unanimous vote for his current judicial position. That’s history.

I trust Gorsuch is prepared for what he is about to experience:

Will Republicans have to turn to what is called the “nuclear option,” not allowing a filibuster on the nomination?

What a shame that this scenario has turned into an unbridgeable political divide. Democrats have become unhinged over these nominees, using their outrage to raise even more funding for their theatrics.

I know that theatrics have played a role throughout American political history, but I don’t believe we’ve ever witnessed the kind of role-playing that has come to the forefront ever since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, at least not on such a sustained basis. We are a nation that is verging on a complete cultural and political division not seen since the Civil War.

What will be the result?

The Latest Threats to Education

The fallout from the Supreme Court same-sex marriage pronouncement continues. I’ve often commented on how education will be affected, all the way from elementary school through college. Two examples.

NEA LogoFirst, the National Education Association (NEA) held its annual meeting in Orlando this past week. That organization is far more associated with radical ideology than genuine education, and has been for most of its history. For years, it has advocated every Leftist idea and has trashed Christian beliefs.

This year, a resolution passed that called upon its state affiliates and members to develop educational materials to counter all religious freedom restoration acts. The goal is to brainwash the children into the new “truth” of acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and to portray Christians as the primary opponents of equality.

Also at this meeting, one of the speakers, a woman, used her time at the microphone to propose marriage to her female partner.

No alternate voice was allowed to be heard at any time during this annual meeting. That’s not unusual for the NEA. It’s not really an educational organization; it’s a lobbying group bent on destroying what education ought to be.

Barry LynnThen, on the college and university front, Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State came out in favor of eliminating all federal student loans and other federal government funding to Christian educational institutions that don’t make provision for housing same-sex couples.

Lynn stated,

I would not want to be a person at a fundamentalist academy who is trying to defend the practice, that is taking a reasonable amount of government funds and refusing to allow a same-sex married couple to live in the married student housing. I think even now, that would be on the edge of the indefensible.

Lynn, by the way, has been around a long time and uses his credential as a minister in the United Church of Christ as leverage to get what he wants. For those who are unfamiliar with that denomination, it is one of the most liberal in existence, and has cut itself off from real Christianity.

Personally, I don’t think Christian colleges and universities should be part of a government funding system anyway. However, this is a direct attack, knowing that since most of those colleges have decided to wed themselves to the system, it will lead to severe economic hardship and the closure of many of the colleges.

That is the ultimate goal.

These are only the beginnings of what we will see in the coming days. It is a time of testing for Christians. We will find out who is really part of the Bride of Christ and who is only a wedding crasher. Only those truly devoted to their Savior will stand.

Seniority over Quality

Yesterday’s topic was unions. I wrote quite a bit. How about if I keep it short and simple today? Same theme, though, brought to you by our friends at the National Education Association, where seniority is everything and quality education is not an issue. After all, what’s really most important, right?

To all the very good teachers out there, this was not directed at you. The establishment is the problem. For some eye-opening revelations, try Googling the NEA’s annual resolutions. Doing one’s own research can be quite rewarding.

The Present Crisis

The intent of yesterday’s post was to ensure we understand that there have always been bad times in American history, and that we’ve been at the point of despair before. Our future as a nation is still open; the decisions we make now will determine our path.

Today I do want to emphasize the severity of our current problems, as a kind of counterpoint to yesterday’s hopeful thoughts. It’s important that we don’t put our heads in the sand, figuratively speaking. What are we facing right now, and how do these problems compare to previous ones? I’m going to provide what I consider to be the key list of issues with which we have to deal:

  • As a nation, we have never been this deep in debt. Credit agencies are threatening to lower America’s rating for dependability in paying our creditors. In just two and one-half years of the Obama administration, we’ve added $5 trillion in debt, rushing rapidly toward a grand total of $15 trillion. That means more than one-third of that debt has accumulated on Obama’s watch. Yet he doesn’t even seem to take it seriously. There’s no attempt on his part to cut back on the spending. Instead, he hopes to pass another stimulus and raise taxes.

  • We are going to burst through our debt ceiling in August unless we cut spending. But what solution do the Democrats offer? Keep raising the ceiling. It doesn’t work for governments any more than it does for individuals and families.

The logic used by the administration is fascinating:

  • The ideology behind Obama’s policies is more socialistic than anything proposed by FDR or LBJ. He has taken over one-sixth of the economy by ramming through a very unpopular and unconstitutional healthcare bill.
  • We are stuck in a recession that has similarities to the Great Depression. The housing market has now been declared worse than what we experienced in the 1930s. Obama’s socialist policies have undercut the free market, ruined small business, and kept unemployment high.
  • On the education front, he has taken steps to end school voucher programs, such as the one that was working well in Washington, DC, forcing poor children into awful government schools where they will learn virtually nothing. He is in the pocket of the educational establishment, which is more attuned to maintaining its stranglehold on education than achieving results. The NEA, in particular, has a political agenda perfectly in line with Obama’s ideology. Any attempt by conservatives to change this broken system is met with hysteria and hyperbole.

  • Culturally, we have degenerated to a place unparalleled in our history. Over fifty million unborn children have been murdered since 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision. Homosexuality, which was always considered a perversion of God’s gift of sex, is now being touted as a laudable lifestyle, no longer a choice but simply a genetic difference. Last week, New York’s legislature, pushed by Democrat Governor Cuomo and acquiesced in by enough Republicans, made homosexual marriage legal. The Rubicon has been crossed. Marriage itself is being trivialized and degraded. We have broken with Christian belief and tradition to our detriment.

  • The homosexual advance has become so dominant that it is difficult to watch television without finding a sympathetic homosexual character on a program. It’s an all-out assault on basic Biblical morality.
  • Speaking of morality, our political leaders have fallen short at a record pace lately. I don’t need to review all of the scandals; you know them. Anthony Weiner has become a classic symbol of all that is wrong with our moral compass.

  • When we turn to foreign policy, we see the United States practically laughed at in most of the world, the takedown of bin Laden being the exception to the rule. Few in other nations, friend or foe, take Obama seriously. He has become Israel’s worst nightmare. He’s now expanding that bad dream by sitting down and talking with the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, operating on the illusion that they have renounced violence. What a fantasy world! Both are dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the overthrow of Western civilization. This is a travesty of the highest order.

Have I forgotten anything really important? Possibly. I’m sure some of you could add to the list. Taken all together, this set of problems may signal the worst crisis we have ever faced as a nation. We could be on the verge of falling apart completely, morally and politically.

An essential part of the solution is to rid ourselves of the current political leadership, but that’s only a part of the solution. There is a more foundational need. That’s my subject for tomorrow.

My Educational Perspective

When I critique education in America, some may misunderstand my perspective. I’m not enamored with a system that is directed from the government, be it state or federal. I believe God gave educational responsibility to parents first, and only secondarily to whomever they entrust their children. Entrusting them to the government is not Biblically appropriate, in my view.

First, civil government’s primary responsibility is to protect and defend citizens. There is nothing in the Scriptures endorsing government control of education, no matter how hard you look.

Second, there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution giving authority to the federal government to get involved in education, yet it has waded into this morass and made it even worse.

States, if their constitutions mention it, have the authority to oversee education, but I argue that it’s still a bad idea. Early Americans were concerned about putting the state in charge simply because they realized it could then dictate what every student should learn. All it takes is an ideological agenda in the state, and education becomes political—from only one side. To a large extent, that is what has already occurred.

Added to this misery is the role of teachers’ unions such as the National Education Association. They do their best to indoctrinate [all you have to do is examine the annual resolutions of that organization to see its cultural and political bent] and to protect teachers. Now, some teachers need protection, but it has turned into a tenure situation that rewards longevity over quality. And when anyone tries to fix the system, the reverberations can be felt nationwide:

Critique the way education is run and you may be accused of hating education, along with a few other things:

Sometimes, the teachers organize a resistance by getting the students to do the protesting for them:

Of course, I don’t teach at that level. I’m in a university, and we all know that higher education is where real learning takes place:

Don’t get me wrong; I believe in education. I’d just like to see more of it actually occur.

Unions: Members & Leaders

Protesters have finally left the Wisconsin capitol, but estimates are coming in as to the cost of that occupation. We’re learning now it could cost as much as $7.5 million to clean up and repair the damage they have done to the building. Most of that, $6 million, is to restore the marble inside the building; another $1 million to do the same to the outside. As one commentator has noted,

Imagine how many teacher positions, textbooks, and new computers the state could buy with $7.5 million. … Remember when attendants at President Obama’s Inauguration Ceremony trashed the National Mall? But 9.12 tea party protesters along with attendants at Glenn Beck’s 8.28 Restoring Honor event left the National Mall squeaky clean?

That has something to do with respect for the country and for property. The current protesters, their protests notwithstanding, seem to lack respect not only for public buildings, but for the proper functioning of the government.

And while these rank-and-file union members take time off from work to declare their solidarity, I think it might be instructive to look at their leaders, and the benefits they gain from being in leadership. A new study by The Center for Public Integrity shows where a lot of those union dues are going.

The study identifies the ten largest unions in the country, whether private or public. It then details the salaries paid to the leadership and how the money is being spent on political activity. Here’s a summary:

  • The largest union is the National Education Association [NEA] with 3.2 million members. Its president receives in salary and benefits $397,000 per year. The NEA spent $3.7 million on political activity for the 2010 elections, with 98% of that money going to Democrats.
  • The Service Employees International Union [SEIU] comes in second with a membership of 1.8 million. Its past president, Andy Stern, who is a close confidant of President Obama, received slightly over $300,000 in 2009, then got a 5% raise the next year before he left the post. Nine other SEIU leaders receive more than $200,000 per year. Over the past two years, the SEIU gave $2 million to Democratic candidates and $8,500 to Republicans. Notice the difference?
  • Third on the list is the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees [AFSCME], which is one of the fastest growing unions in the nation. Its president was paid $479,000 in 2009; ten others receive more than $200,000. Political donations in the past two years total $2.3 million for Democrats and $13,000 for Republicans.

I could go on, but if you are interested, check out the article at http://www.publicintegrity.org/articles/entry/2964/.

Meanwhile, don’t tell anyone, but Ohio is poised to pass a similar law as the one proposed in Wisconsin, and it’s occurring without legislators leaving the state or massive occupation of government buildings. In other words, representative government is at work in Ohio. Elections do have consequences.

Education's Inconvenient Truths

There’s a new movie out—a documentary—entitled Waiting for Superman. It’s an indictment of what some people call public education. The more accurate name for it is government-controlled education. I haven’t seen this documentary yet, but the director, Davis Guggenheim, is a liberal who directed Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, which will never qualify as one of my favorite movies. This time, though, he has some genuine inconvenient truths regarding the educational establishment. Apparently, there are some liberals who are scared about the quality of education the current generation is receiving. Will this film wake up the general public?

Now we come to the real problem—the teachers’ unions. They have a stranglehold on the educational profession. Part of the problem is the circle-the-wagons mentality that wants to hold on to tenure and make quality secondary. The other part of the problem is the ideology to which the unions are wedded:

As I noted in a previous post about the NEA, the resolutions it passes every year at its annual convention are the essence of radicalism: the focus is on every progressive icon—racism, feminism, environmentalism, homophobia, etc.

When you combine a radical ideology with a mania for job security, you don’t want anything to interfere with your near-monopoly, no matter how poorly it’s performing:

We keep tinkering around with the externals rather than rooting out the false ideologies. We continue to trust government and the teachers’ unions rather than allowing the free market to determine educational success. I remember when Bill Clinton made a big deal about wanting to put an extra 100,000 teachers in the classrooms. What does that really solve if you don’t deal with the more fundamental problems?

And woe to any students who might really want to learn:

Unless we attack this problem at the root, we’ll never find a real solution.