Saturday, January 7, 2012

Not a third world junta government

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has received plenty of support from the men and women in uniform. He has raised more money from those in uniform than any other Republican and as well as any Democrat. That includes President Barak Obama, the Commander in Chief.

The men and women in the military have the same rights as the rest of us on their personal time. They can donate money to political campaigns, work on elections and even go door to door in support of a political candidate. All of this according to the military code of conduct but also as granted in the Constitution and supported by any responsible community.

Cpl. Jesse Thorsen is just like any other individual that lives in the United States. That is except he is a reservist. As a reservist and in his fatigues, he was interviewed on CNN. During that interview, he endorsed Ron Paul for president. Thorsen later spoke at a rally for the presidential candidate. While he is allowed to support any candidate he wants, he just can’t do it in uniform. This rule is also part of the military code of conduct. (…and yes according to the Constitution and supported by any responsible community.)

In many countries around the world, the military commanders stand with selected candidates for office. This is their way of showing support for a political view point, a view point that is often directed by the military junta that controls the day to day activities of the government. Their appearance with candidates doesn’t support a free and open election process. Instead, it creates fear in the hearts of the voters who are being told how to vote – or else, some great harm will come their way to them and their families.

The authors of the Constitution knew in very personal terms the results of having the military stand over their shoulders when voting. Not only from what the English did to the colonist, but what was happening in Europe. That is why there are a lot of road blocks to military control. As a couple of examples, military budgets can’t be approved for more than two years and military personnel could not be quartered in private homes without permission.

Ron Paul, perhaps more than any other candidate, runs a campaign based on respect for the Constitution. In numerated and enumerated ways, the document makes it clear that the military is to stay out of elections and the civilian government. While Paul may not have been able to control the interview of Thorsen on CNN, Paul should not have allowed the corporal to speak at the rally.

Is this an oversight on Paul’s part or his campaign managers? Perhaps it is the mangers, but Paul isn’t the point. Let’s keep the military out of the elections. Unless, of course, we want to move the country in the direction of establishing Eisenhower’s military industrial complex he warned about.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Arizona's inferior education system

Expanding the base of knowledge that all students have about history and the path we took to get to the present is part of what education is all about. If students are allowed to examine our successes and failures, they can hopefully avoid the mistakes of the past and be better prepared for the future.

This makes sense most everywhere but in Arizona. There, the state superintendent of schools, John Huppenthal, determined that the Mexican American Heritage class taught at the Tucson Unified School District violated the law under House Bill 2281. That bill makes it illegal to include courses that are designed for particular ethnic groups and promote resentment toward a race or class of people. Huppenthal as a state senator worked to get the law passed in the Arizona legislature. Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed the bill in the spring of last year just a month after signing the toughest anti-immigration law in the country. (The immigration law is now being contested by the United States attorney general and parts of it have been placed on hold by the courts.)

Besides Mexican American studies, the Tucson Unified School District offers programs on African American and Native-American studies. The programs focus on history, literature and include information about the influence the ethnic group has had on United States history and culture. As an example, the American History class includes the role of the ethnic group in major United States historical events and has courses that emphasize the group’s literature.

Every community has the responsibility of educating its young and offering continuing education to those that are in need of it. By definition, education means providing all the relevant information about the subjecting being taught. Sometimes that means teaching about the failures of the past. But, with a solid understanding of the events that lead to those failures, we can hopefully do better in the future.

Those on the right of the political spectrum often bring up the term political correctness. This term has a very board and varied definition. But, under one definition of the term, this law fits. The conservatives that currently are in charge in Arizona want to focus just on the positive aspects of the current majority culture without any discussion of its failures. By offering no challenge to the prevailing culture, we can never be sure that we are the best we can be. This is very definition of a politically correct education.

Think of it as a science course teaching about rocketry. If the course didn’t include the many times experimental rockets failed and the reasons why, each new generation would have to experience failure after failure to find the right path. But, with knowledge of the failures of the past, students can build on what works.

Arizona’s students, if the state continues on this path, will have an inferior education. When they graduate and step into the real world, they will make decisions with only part of the information needed. A set up to failure – or at least, repeating the mistakes of the past.

A Responsible Community doesn’t limit inquiry. It also doesn’t prevent the knowledge that is learned from that inquiry from being assimilated nor does it limit the challenge to the current beliefs.

Anything else has a more than likely chance of repeating the failures of the past.

Note: Thank you to Nathan Collins for bringing attention to this important story.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

May this New Year bring you success in seeking your own personal happiness. May the privacy of your body be respected from everyone. That you can personally practice your own religion without interference. May who you love be given the same respect as anyone else in the community.

May you have the freedom to speak your mind and publish your ideas for others to consider. May you continue to have the right to join with others that share your outlook and ask that the community to address your concerns.

May you be safe in the environment. That you are safe and secure from invasion of outside forces and free of crime in your community. That government and business doesn’t intrude in your life any more than necessary.  That you free to own weapons. 

In this New Year, may the privacy of your home and other spaces you live and work in be as hollowed as the most sacred of places. May your personal property be free from intrusion. That if such a situation arises, that you are treated fairly by the courts and provided every opportunity to defend yourself.

As it should be, may the New Year allow you to openly inquire about all things. That you may share all that you have learned. In return, may you also have the right to openly challenge what others think so that the truth can be found.

May the community help when you have done everything possible but still find trouble. When you experience a loss of income, may the community share the responsibility in restoring your potential. That if your health is a problem, the community will be there to help.

In short, may you find that by respecting others and sharing the responsibility of the community with your neighbors, more will be accomplished than you could on your own.