Sunday, November 20, 2016

Free Speech: The Sword Cuts Both Ways

So this morning I read this.

I am an avid theater goer. My daughter is a frequent performer, choreographer and this spring, director, on the Dallas area stage. I understand her peers and performers are often a diverse and liberal lot, but I still accept them. When we have social events at her home, we celebrate a type of armed truce-they don't act out in outrageous fashion and I don't express views they would find upsetting. It's called manners-something sorely lacking in our society today.

Vice-President Elect Pence AND HIS WIFE attended "Hamilton", the recent Broadway smash hit. I'm sure he was interested, as many are, in the content and whether the play itself addresses the issues that produced our nation. But during and after the show, one of the actors felt it necessary to behave in a strident and truly disrespectful manner toward Mr. Pence. This is New York, part of the same city that produced such incorrect polling to assume the deeply flawed Hillary Clinton would win the presidency. So for the Times to chortle about this sort of public verbal flogging may play well in bastions of liberalism, but it does not do the theater or the musical well.

Consider this, supporters of the actor in question: Where else in the world would he get the kind of treatment needed to remain alive and HIV positive? Where else would he get social and medical support for his condition? Where else would he be even permitted to publicly claim his status as both gay and HIV+ in places outside the EU? So by that, this nation's Constitution has served him well, because he has free speech and access to those mechanisms necessary to survive.

But there is also this-you cannot just accept part of the Constitution. With great rights come great responsibilities and among those is the freedom to DISAGREE. While the actor from "Hamilton" was certainly free to express his opinions-did he take a poll to assure that they reflected every other player, union worker and member of the audience? Or did he instead use his position to play the bully and take what should be a positive social event and turn it into yet another boring liberal political moment?

Beyond the liberal coasts, this doesn't necessarily play well. I teach Art History and one thing we noted as a class is that art can only be produced in those societies functioning well enough to afford their members to do things beyond the production of goods for survival. Right now, as reflected in the recent election, many many more Americans feel this nation is headed down the wrong path. Americans by and large do not trust the media outlets, who have used their position to bully in a similar fashion and it is hurting them. Newspapers are struggling. And you would think that artists, being more creative and observant, would learn from their mistakes.

While "Hamilton" will be a huge hit in large and liberal cities, the power of a play or musical is it's "legs" or it's ability to endure. If Americans decide that "Hamilton" is too high minded or too offensive or too dismissive of mainstream American views, they will not buy tickets when it comes to their town. This means in addition that regional and local theater groups will not pay to perform it and the musical will wither and die on the vine, a forgotten relic of a contentious age-as have so many others. Either these "artists" in their self-serving rage have forgotten "The Play's the Thing" or they do not care if it dies.

Free speech works both ways. Sauce for the goose, baby, sauce for the gander.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Color Me Surprised

I voted for Trump.
I did it after much self-loathing because a vote for Hillary Clinton would have been so much worse.
Imagine my surprise that he won. I honestly didn't think he would win. My husband and I avoided all news outlets until 10:30 Tuesday night. We were in shock. I needed to go to bed, but I couldn't. I poured through RealClearPolitics state by state and county by county voting trends. I called Pennsylvania long, long before the networks. Florida hung at 99% for five hours. It was as if the MSM was loathe to admit Trump had won.

The next morning, three conservative teachers gathered in an out of the way classroom not to celebrate but to express utter relief that we would not be faced with a bitter and burdensome continuation of liberal goals.

Reading about the Clinton campaign's plans for her celebration (complete with confetti that would look like broken glass to represent the glass ceiling)I have to think she is and was totally out of touch with mainstream America and that was her undoing. You cannot go collecting demographic groups like stamps in an album and think the mail service will stop delivering the mail.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

I Can't Do This Anymore

When I became a teacher, I went into the job hoping to help students learn. I envisioned a class where I would share ideas, where I would help students build their skills and develop their own dreams. I was young. I was naive, but inside any good teacher is that kernel of altruism that resonates in ways I can't explain.

I can't do this anymore. For every student I have who really wants to learn, ten others (and their parents) are using intimidation and bogus special needs demands to game the system. I'm not talking about students who legitimately need assistance-that a whole different ball game. I'm talking about parents who make claims in order to get their kid more time on tests, more help on work, fewer questions, less homework. It would be one thing if they were in regular classes, but now we are encountering them in AP courses.

I teach an AP course. It is not easy because the test itself is one of the most difficult non-math tests AP offers. As such I have to teach 25,000 of art, teach students how to categorize and define artworks in terms of other artworks. We delve into every culture from Assyria to modern Africa and beyond. I spend around two hours a night making presentations. I post these presentations online for students to review. I spent three solid weeks eliminating unnecessary reading in the very intimidating AP Art History text. I spend evenings and weekends grading or writing assessments. I try to throw in things that are fun like Kahoot reviews and activities that can help students to internalize their learning.

But what do you do when a student lets a parent schedule appointments during a part of the exam and then refuses to show up during Block the next day to make it up? I waited all during lunch. I waited after school on the half day which is the end of the semester. The student didn't show up. The student tried to show up while I was conducting portfolio reviews with my studio class. I told the student to return after school was out but never showed up. What is galling is that another student-who is texting buddies with this one-is now claiming I didn't give additional time although he turned in his work well before the end of class and was given a chance the next day to do a different prompt-but left after ten minutes. I knew I should never look at my emails on the weekend.

I am so sick of this and what is more I HAVE NO OPTIONS. Thanks to the dreadful Obama induced economy and the additional burden of a husband who despite countless resumes and interviews cannot find a job I am really at the end of my rope. I hate this election. I hate this economy. It wasn't supposed to be like this. I'm working myself to death and then get snippy emails from young AP's who seem to do nothing to help teachers and always take the students and parents side. I can't do this anymore.

I just can't.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

This Toxic Election

Here's an email I sent to a local talk radio station. While the host is conservative, he's troubled by the same things that trouble me. How have we gotten to this position with two of the most despicable candidates imaginable? I believe the media set us up. At any rate, this is my email to him. I believe it resonates with what many middle class Americans are feeling.

PS. I predict one of the lowest voter turnouts ever. People are just simply disgusted.

"What you're talking about tonight is a topic my husband and I have discussed for over a year. It's truly ironic that Trump finds himself on the other side of a smear campaign after how he shoved Ted Cruz out of the race by using the friendship with National Inquirer's owner to allege a series of deliberate lies. It comes out as Trump being able to dish it out, but not take it. To be fair, my guy was always Ted Cruz due to his brilliance on policy. Also, my husband is a true gentleman who has protected women from predators at his former job and who despises men that act like cads. That the media tries to make all conservatives into Neanderthals is despicable. My husband supports Trump because the media has given us no options. I have opposed Trump and he's not making my husband's attempt to change my mind any easier.

Please don't get me wrong. I believe Hillary Clinton is a horrible person. She is a traitor, she is a thief, she is a liar and she will take this nation down the path to destruction. Any of the other 17 candidates could have taken her down handily because frankly the people in this nation see the damage done by unchecked far left policies. So ask yourself, how come Trump won? He won because the MEDIA lapped up and promoted him as the next new thing. They glossed over his history-which was tarnished long before he entered the race-and indeed attacked anyone who opposed him. What was the lead story in every newscast during the primary season? It was always Trump and his word was golden. So when he claimed that Ted Cruz set up other candidates, Trump's much louder voice drowned out the voices of reason. As a result the best conservative running was not just forced to step down for the safety of his family, but was reviled by the same party leadership that now are shunning Trump. What gives?

Here's how I see it. Trump was never going to win. He's big buddies with the Clintons and indeed has far more in common policy wise with them and their money man George Soros than average Americans. I believe the Clintons knew Hillary was in political trouble. They knew that without a cover story to hide behind, the Wikileaks stories would haunt her. The Clintons have always believed "it's her turn" and seem clueless on the fact that at 70, Hillary Clinton is not in any shape for the rigors of the position. So who will be calling the shots? I believe it's a consortium of those who have given the Clintons millions over the years. They will make decisions that benefit the Buffets (ex. the use of railway over pipeline for oil tar sands transport) and Gates and Soros' of the world at the expense of the rest of us. Her leak on desiring completely open borders should be a signal that this woman has no intent in helping American workers who are already at one of the lowest participation rates in 100 years. So they set up Trump to run against her knowing that he would behave in outrageous fashion to make Clinton appear a valid choice.

The truth is neither are valid choices. Both are toxic. Clinton has undisclosed medical issues and Trump is a walking ad for a stroke. No matter who wins I doubt either of them survive the four years. So we have to look to the VP candidates. Kaine is a wash. Nobody knows him outside the east coast that the few that do don't like him. He has a reputation of being a "difficult" person. Pence on the other hand has a reputation as a builder. He is someone I can support. So when I vote, as an American, as a woman, I will vote for the Republican ticket-but only because I believe ultimately Pence will be in charge.

Just my thoughts,
Please don't use my whole name as I'm a teacher and frankly I'm not too sure what kind of havoc my opinions would produce"

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

This Cannot Continue

So would anyone tolerate a group called White Lives Matter? Of course not-it would be laughed off as patently racist. So why are we giving a group, and inviting to the White House, DeRay McKesson and Elzie Johnson, two people who created a brand of particularly offensive hate aimed at police in general and white police specifically? I'm not exonerating the role of bad cops, but you cannot exort your franchises in Seattle and St. Louis and New York to chant things like "What do we want...dead cops...when do we want it" and then pretend like it wasn't some sort of fulfillment when two cops were ambushed in New York City and now five in Dallas.

As brand creators, the self proclaimed national leaders of BLM are responsible for the rhetoric and actions that ensue. So when innocent cops (and civilians!) get hurt or killed as the result of the seed they plant via their incindiery and often misleading campaigns, they cannot dodge the blood spatter that it creates. I think the American public needs to know who is funding this "movement" because quite honestly I don't think it's all that pure. It's strange how a self proclaimed "poor grad student" has been able to travel on a last minute ticket to any of the handpicked incidents they choose to exploit. And make no mistake, they do pick and choose cases where they believe they can get the most social media and economic traction.

Perhaps we could make sense of this had Dallas not been working hard to alleviate the very problems BLM lays out. But it is troubling that as we see this parade of grievances marched out, we also see in our communities and our schools, more young people out of control and defiant. I shudder to think what attitudes this school year brings. While nobody wants to see anyone else hurt needlessly, lets not make the mistake of thinking all people are angels. Left to our own devices, people will often take the easy way out. That is why we train and have trusted individuals to keep us on the straight and narrow-even when we don't like it, even when it maeks us mad. So can we please stop hyphenating groups, glorifying BLM and believing that race makes us victims or victors? In reality, ALL LIVES MATTER.

Saturday, July 09, 2016


This time yesterday, five Dallas cops were escorting a peaceful group of protesters down the street. There was no violence. There were photos and chants and maybe some prayers. People were showing they were angry and hoping that this action would bring attention to their cause. This time yesterday, people held some hope because such events being peaceful have become the exception, not the norm. This time yesterday five families went through their lives. They went to ball games, picked kids up from soccer practice, went to the grocery store. This time yesterday they did was was normal.This time yesterday five police officers were doing their job. They were helping control traffic, they were protecting protesters and businesses, they were chatting with protesters down the line. This time yesterday, five families hadn't been shattered by the mindless, vindictive act of a shooter. This time yesterday, fathers, grandfathers, husbands, brothers and sons were still alive.

But that was yesterday. Now it's today and we're left to pick up the pieces. Most of us are sick of the excuses from all sides and equally sick of politicians posturing for best effect. Does anyone really care about the people-and make no mistake cops are people too? Long after the floral memorials have faded and been hauled away the pain will remain. Wives will slowly give away the clothing. Children will find other teachers to learn how to ride a bike, or tie a tie. Fathers will gaze on the photos at holidays and hear the echo of "what if...." No healing can fill that hole no matter what people say. My son said today "We don't have a cop problem, we have a people problem." and no truer words were spoken. We've become a society of narcissists ruled by selfie sticks and social media. People are more concerned about their own narrow world than the world at large. Andy Warhol predicted "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes." He never said it would be a good thing. Perhaps it is time to start with the man in the mirror in order to clean up the world. And that doesn't mean some people, it means ALL. You cannot claim you are unbiased if you do not include all lives in your prayers.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

On the Dangers of Diversity

From Tao:

Lets consider how the concept of identity politics has made it almost impossible to make any sort of progress on controlling crime, limiting illegal immigration or eliminating violence. If we said things such as "People should comply with the police," we end up with a litany from various groups on why such a thing would not happen. If we say "People should obey the laws," we have countless politicians and plaintiffs telling us they will not. The Progressive desire to serve all parts based on a subjective order of "fairness" has resulted in a system that is falling apart because the key structural elements are being ignored and in some cases, such as certain Constitutional rights, in danger of being removed completely.

Consider a Ferris wheel. While the cars that carry passengers may be shiny and colorful, the integrity of the structure of the device is what makes it possible for all to ride. If we sad only the people in the green cars get cotton candy, the others are not well served. If we try to make some cars go faster for the sake of benefiting one group, the other groups are stranded. If we remove central parts of the device, the entire machine crashes to the ground. Our nation and its Constitutional structure are the Ferris wheel. Various groups have a chance to ride the wheel, but they have to do so at the same pace as everyone else. To select winners and losers, which is what Progressives seek to do, damages the very mechanisms that make the device or nation function.

When we are distracted by the colors and noise that fill our society, we forget the core values that override every other manmade "right". When we allow ourselves to be distracted by fringe issues that serve only a few, we ignore those key elements that provide us with strength. Government exists to provide security first. That means protecting and maintaining our sovereignty. Open borders and loose standards on immigration does not do that. It is a European experiment that has failed and it will fail here as well. At one point in history this nation was truly a melting pot. While we kept family heritage, all Americans shared the same language and goals. Now we're a fruit salad where the bananas and strawberries gang up against the grapes and apples. Everyone wants to be at the front of the line and everyone wants to impose their culture as an overlay on our own.

We have become blinded by too many colors and the idea that different and new are always better. To quote my Mom "we've thrown out the baby with the bath water" on some sort of wrongheaded quest for newest chattering toy instead of seeking value in what we hold in our hands.