Here’s the latest chapter in The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.
According to Forward Progressives:
There’s a saying that goes, “If you can’t win, cheat like hell” and it’s apparently the motto that the GOP has taken to heart across the country in their latest attempts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
What does their newest attempt involve? Creating fake websites with misinformation that look like state insurance exchanges in order to confuse consumers trying to find out what their new insurance options are under Obamacare.
Forward Progressives cites three websites recently shut down by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, including kynect101.com, which, according to the Kentucky AG, was “deceptively similar to kynect.ky.gov, Kentucky’s official health insurance exchange website….[S]ome consumers attempting to locate the site through search engines were being deceptively steered to the kynect101.com website instead of kynect.ky.gov, where they were provided false information about their options under the federal Affordable Care Act, including being informed that there were no plans with federal subsidies available to offset a portion of their insurance premiums.”
In a conspiratorial whisper, Forward Progressives blames Republicans. And what passes for proof with this crowd?
“f you were running a sabotage campaign, why not run it in a state with a fully functional health insurance exchange site and (not coincidentally) a GOP Senator who is facing a battle for re-election both from Democrats as well as from within his own party?
So apparently, as this conspiracy theory goes (if I’m following it correctly), because Kentucky is operating one of the only (mostly) functioning state exchanges in the country, Republicans, wishing to protect Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s immense Power to Control Everything have been running around creating bogus websites that would not only give Kentucky residents misinformation about their insurance options under the exchanges, but would also potentially leave their personal data in the hands of hackers. (Which, thank goodness, is totally unlike the actual Democrat-created marketplace website that gives Americans misinformation about their insurance options and leaves their personal data in the hands of hackers.) And Republicans have been doing this “across the country” according to Forward Progressives.
And you thought Bush Derangement Syndrome was bad? Progressives, usually content to wait a few years to start their revisionist history, are now revising on the fly. In their alternative reality, they’ve found a way to blame Republicans for (arguably) the most epic website failure in the history of the internet.
[Note to Sen. McConnell’s campaign: After the site was banned by the Kentucky AG, http://kynect101.com is once again available on Go Daddy for the low, low price of $69.99 plus commission.]
On Wednesday, Piers Morgan continued his anti-gun crusade, interviewing Neil Heslin, whose son Jess Lewis was tragically killed in the Newtown shooting, and also author and Pastor Rick Warren, whose son committed suicide in April after a long struggle with mental illness.
Warren was there, purportedly, to pitch his new book, The Daniel Plan, which focuses on weight loss and healthy eating. However, Morgan couldn’t resist trying to pull Warren, whose son killed himself last April with a gun he purchased on the internet, onto his ban-the-guns-bandwagon, asking him to react to the release of the 911 tapes from the Sandy Hook massacre.
Morgan asked, “We’ve seen so many incidents since then — the naval yard shooting and the Virginia senator, Creigh Deeds, and so on. A lot of incidents come back, it seems, to this lethal cocktail of mental illness and the ready availability of guns. No one seems to be tackling this. How do we get to grips with this?”
Warren, conceding that there are almost as many guns as people in the United states, said he couldn’t foresee a future where guns could be taken from law-abiding citizens. “First of all, the Constitution allows them to have it.” Warren then turned the conversation to the issue of mental illness, saying that we should focus on what we could do to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people. “I don’t care whether you’re conservative or you’re liberal or anywhere in between…everyone’s going to agree. Guns do not belong in the hand of mentally ill people,” Warren said.
Undeterred, Morgan tried a second time to enlist Warren in his anti-gun movement:
“What does it say, though, that a great country like America, the greatest superpower of the world, that here we are a year after twenty elementary school children were literally blown to pieces in their classrooms, and the president stood there a few days later and literally said, ‘I will take action,’ and here we are a year later and absolutely nothing has been done. Nothing. No background checks brought in. No ban on assault weapons. No ban on high capacity magazines.”
“Nobody in Washington has done anything to try and prevent this happening again. What does that tell you about the state of the debate about all this?” Morgan demanded of Warren.
Warren again deflected and for a second time turned the discussion to the problem of mental illness.
One of the casualties of the Common Core standards may be that this generation of children will never learn cursive handwriting because the new standards emphasize keyboard skills and fail to include cursive. Currently, at least 41 states do not require that students learn to read and write in cursive, with many states leaving the decision up to individual school districts. In Ohio, prior to the implementation of the Common Core standards, the state recommended that children learn cursive in grades 3 to 4. Now, it’s optional. Between the emphasis on keyboard skills in the Common Core and the fact that it will not be included in testing (tests are administered via computer), schools are likely to continue to de-emphasize what once was a mandatory skill for all school children.
To be fair, the decline in cursive began before the onset of Common Core. In 2006 only fifteen percent of students taking the SAT wrote their essay answers in cursive and in 2007, ten percent of teachers said their schools no longer taught it.
Proponents of cursive handwriting point to the benefits: improved fine motor skills, development in thinking, language and working memory and increased speed and efficiency. But perhaps the greatest loss will be the ability to read original historical documents. Students who are not taught to read in cursive will miss out on both important documents like the Declaration of Independence and more trivial pieces of the American story, like signed photographs from celebrities.
Below are some examples of what the Common Core generation will miss if we neglect to teach them cursive:
1. The U.S. Declaration of Independence
Though Thomas Jefferson is credited with writing the Declaration of Independence, master penman Timothy Matlack was recruited to put a feather quill pen to parchment on the original document. In those days, elegant penmanship was a considered a sign of social status and master penmen like Matlack were commissioned to copy important documents like deeds, birth and marriage certificates. Future Americans who visit the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence won’t have the thrill their predecessors experienced of squinting at the faded cursive words and John Hancock’s signature — they’ll have to rely on the printed transcript.
From the recently released report by the Connecticut state attorney’s office in Danbury on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School:
[Nancy Lanza] was concerned about him and said that he hadn’t gone anywhere in three months and would only communicate with her by e-mail, though they were living in the same house. … The mother did the shooter’s laundry on a daily basis as the shooter often changed clothing during the day. She was not allowed in the shooter’s room, however, even to clean. No one was allowed in his room. The shooter disliked birthdays, Christmas and holidays. He would not allow his mother to put up a Christmas tree. The mother explained it by saying that shooter had no emotions or feelings. The mother also got rid of a cat because the shooter did not want it in the house.
When I read this, my first inclination was to think that it was a case of bad parenting — Adam Lanza, who shot and killed twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was obviously a kid in need of discipline. There was clearly a breakdown in the authority structure in the home. My husband and I would not have tolerated our children dictating what we were “allowed” to do in our own home. Indeed, we probably would have had to suppress our laughter if they had ever attempted to launch such a coup d’état. When one of our sons went through a bedroom door-slamming phase, out came the screwdriver and down came the bedroom door until he understood that there would be no door-slamming while he was living under our roof. If one of our kids had ever tried to use the silent treatment as a weapon he would have been met with the loss of privileges and electronics — the car, the computer, the internet, the cell phone.
It seems like these behaviors would be easy enough to solve with a little tough love, right?
Except that Adam Lanza wasn’t like my kids.
Yesterday I missed being crunched in the middle of this sandwich of cars by ten seconds. I was at the front of the line waiting to turn left when the pile-up happened. I glanced into my rearview mirror before making my turn and couldn’t quite comprehend what I was seeing — a car perched almost vertically atop another. The airbag in the blue car did not engage and although he was able to climb out of it, the driver was extremely disoriented. He kept asking where he was and wondering where he had been heading. I convinced him to hand me his cell phone because his incoherent rambling was surely terrifying his wife on the other end. I explained to her what had happened as paramedics loaded him into the EMS unit. After examining him, the paramedic shouted to his partner that they needed to go — immediately.
Though I wasn’t involved in the accident myself, I realized after I got home that I was feeling a bit shaken by the ordeal. In moments like that, one gets a clear view of how fleeting life is and how quickly it can end. I don’t worry about that — as a Christian, I’m sure that the moment I die I will be “at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). But the accident reminded me how seldom I’m thankful for God’s mercies that are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Obviously, I’m very thankful that I wasn’t hurt in the accident. And I’m thankful my son wasn’t injured when his car slid off the road in the snowstorm on Tuesday. And I’m thankful that a dear friend left work to help the coatless boys who had also managed to lock the keys in the car.
But beyond that, I take a lot for granted. Breathing, for example. When I stop to contemplate that my lungs inflate and deflate and do their oxygenating business without me ever having to consciously think about it, I am speechless. They just go in and out and in and out day after day after day, despite the fact that I barely ever think about my breathing. By decree of the God who knows the number of hairs on my head I will draw 17,280 breaths today, even though I rarely ever thank Him for his goodness.
And my hands. I’m staring at them now as I type and I consider my fine motor skills. I can feel my yellow lab’s smooth fur when he puts his head on my lap. They were stiff and freezing at the scene of the accident as the blood vessels constricted so that blood (and oxygen) could be diverted away from my extremities to my vital organs to keep my body alive in case I was stranded out in the frigid weather for an extended period of time. Awesome (awe·some – adjective: causing feelings of fear and wonder : causing feelings of awe).
I think about my sons, those two precious little boys that I rocked and changed and cuddled just a few minutes ago. At least it seems like it was a few minutes ago. Somehow, they’ve grown into these big, hairy men celebrating No Shave November. Somehow, they survived their childhood with imperfect parents and, by God’s grace, avoided most of the mistakes we made when we were their age. What a miracle to watch them growing in their faith, despite the frailties of their parents.
Last week I went through my collection of old 45 records (LMGTFY if you’re under the age of 40) and ended up taking a trip in the Wayback Machine — back to the beloved songs of my childhood in the 1970′s. I wasn’t old enough then to understand the cultural implications of the songs and I was largely sheltered from the tumultuous cultural shifts of that era in my family’s suburban community. Listening to those songs now, knowing the history and the context (and also seeing parallels to today’s cultural conflicts), it’s interesting to see how these battles were both reflected in the music of the time and affected by it.
The year 1972 was a heady time for women’s rights. The first woman was admitted to Dartmouth, the first female FBI agents were hired, Sally Priesand became the first female U.S. rabbi and perhaps most significant, both houses of Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution and sent it to the states for ratification. Opponents of the ERA warned that if it passed, we’d see women in combat, the disappearance of single-sex bathrooms, and women losing custody of their children in divorce cases. (It seems ironic now that all of those warnings have come to fruition, despite the failure of the states to ratify the amendment.)
That same year, the Supreme Court heard Roe v. Wade, which became the law of the land a year later when the Justices of the nation’s high court discovered a previously unknown right to privacy in the Constitution. The ruling effectively invalidated most state and federal laws that placed restrictions on abortion.
Also in 1972, Australian-born singer/songwriter Helen Reddy won the Grammy award for Best Female Performance for her song, “I Am Woman.” In her acceptance speech, Reddy thanked “God, because She makes everything possible.”
Secretar of State Kerry: “We have created the time and the space in order to be able to pursue an agreement that would finish the work that President Obama began on his first day in office…blah, blah, blah…”
I can hardly stand to listen to this.
On Saturday, Kerry — and by extension, our president — shook hands with the leader of the country near the top of the list of the world’s human rights abusers. And Kerry waxed eloquent about “mutual respect.” During the press conference the reporter from Bloomberg News cheerily said, “Congratulations to you and your team.”
Without getting too deeply into the weeds of the deal with Iran, it appears that we are going to hand over billions of dollars to Iran — removing sanctions — because Iran pinky-promised to stop making nukes. Did anyone check to see if Hassan Rouhani had his fingers crossed when he shook hands with Kerry and agreed to “provide the most far-reaching insight and view of Iran’s nuclear program that the international community has ever had.” Fox New’s Judith Miller chirped on Saturday about how wonderful it is that Iran has finally come to the table, saying, “I’m stunned that we got this much!”
President Obama spoke like a man who really, truly believes that the the Iranians are going to let his inspectors come in and snoop around at will, like Michelle ferreting out hamburgers and nachos from the White House pantry.
The problem is that Iran does not have a stellar track record on the “far-reaching insight” front.
A U.N. report published in late October has criticized Iran’s recent human rights record. Compiled by Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Islamic Republic, the report focuses on executions and violations of freedom of expression.
The article notes that the UN’s Special Rapporteur had to rely on interviews submitted by human rights groups because “Shaheed has not been allowed to visit Iran since his appointment as Special Rapporteur.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
If Iran has barred a UN human rights inspector from having access to the country, what makes anyone think nuclear inspectors will fare any better? It’s dangerously farcical.
Recently, in response to Martin Bashir’s segment on Sarah Palin, I wrote that the MSNBC host had “taken Palin Derangement Syndrome to a new level of hysteria” and called the attack vile and despicable.
This week, Bashir issued an apology that many found shocking because of its apparent stark sincerity and lack of caveats or blame-shifting. The oft-heard “if I offended anyone” was absent, as Bashir simply said, “I wanted to take this opportunity to say ‘sorry’ to Mrs. Palin and to also offer an unreserved apology to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers, and anyone who may have heard what I said. My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate nor fair.” He said he was deeply sorry and added, “I deeply regret what I said.”
Whatever you think of Bashir and his often liberal political posturing, this is the blueprint for an excellent apology. When I heard it, my first thought was: “This is how you apologize.”
In many ways this does not seem like the same man who viciously attacked Palin and regularly attacks and mocks conservatives on his show, which is why it caught many off guard and engendred accusations of less-than-honorable motives on Bashir’s part, despite the forthrightness of his apology.
While I will not presume to ascribe motives to Bashir, I would like to add a bit of context that may perhaps shed some light on how it’s both plausible and possible that he may have gone from harsh, ugly vitriol on Friday to humility and repentance just a few days later.
Last night I was searching YouTube for a video of someone interesting reciting the Gettysburg Address to post on a Facebook page I manage. I was hoping to find a recitation done by someone who would be non-controversial and could convey Lincoln’s message without irritating anyone’s sensitive political nerves. (As it turns out, that’s a rather tall order).
I figured YouTube would be overflowing with videos of school children reciting Lincoln’s famous speech, which he delivered 150 years ago today. When I was growing up, it wasn’t uncommon for school children to memorize it. I made my kids learn it as part of their homeschooling education and I figured it was still common for children to memorize it. (One son was very glad we did this when he was asked to recite it in a college interview!) Unfortunately — and much to my surprise — there aren’t nearly as many videos of children reciting the Gettysburg Address as I expected to find online. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum made a valiant attempt, creating walk-up videos of people reciting the speech in honor of the 150th anniversary, but sadly, many of the children and adults who participated struggled to even read the cue cards, so unfamiliar were they with Lincoln’s words.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon an absolute gem that restored my faith in Western Civilization (at least for today). The video shows Clara, a 96-year old grandmother and resident of Willow Falls Senior Living Community in Crest Hill, Illinois, reciting the Gettysburg Address from memory. The video’s description simply says:
Clara memorized the Gettysburg address in 7th grade…83 years later she still knows it by heart.
I predict this will be more inspiring than all of the professionally produced Gettysburg Address videos you’ll see today! Maybe it will inspire you to learn it yourself if you don’t already know it and hopefully, you’ll teach it to your children. (Confession: I never memorized the speech until I learned it with my kids.)
Oh, and after a bit of searching, I did find some children reciting the speech. It turns out hundreds of Utah school children memorized the Gettysburg Address to commemorate the 150th anniversary. Way to go, Utah!
We know you were surprised when we decided to homeschool your grandchildren. We were the first in the family to ever consider doing something so preposterous and it’s understandable that you would have doubts and suspicions about our ability to educate our children at home, without the help of the government schools. After all, generations of children in our family have attended public schools and they turned out just fine — well for the most part (except for the ones who didn’t). You wonder if we think the education that we received was somehow inferior or harmful. You hear us complaining about the dangers of public schools and you think perhaps we are judging you for the decisions you made as parents. We recognize that you might feel a bit hurt or defensive about our decisions.
Beyond our initial decision to homeschool, you interact with our children and realize that they’re “different.” Perhaps they’re more mature than their peers and they don’t understand current pop culture references. You wonder how they’ll ever make friends or interact in the “real world” if they can’t even name a single Kardashian and they don’t know how to “twerk.” Or you have concerns that they’re not “socialized” because they don’t get to spend six hours a day, five days a week in a school classroom. And what about the prom?
You question whether there is any way we can provide for the academic needs of your grandchildren. How can we possibly duplicate the myriad of experiences our children would receive in the public schools? After all, the schools have millions of dollars to spend on faculty and state-of-the art facilities. We have a 3-bedroom home — and we can barely manage to keep the bathrooms clean! How absurd to think we can provide these kids with a 21st-century education.
We understand that it doesn’t seem right that our 9-year-old isn’t reading yet and the 10-year-old is doing algebra. And how can we manage to educate them when we’re running around town all day or letting the kids run wild in the backyard? Surely, we must be doing something wrong.
Martin Bashir, a soldier in the left’s War on Women, dropped a stink bomb on Sarah Palin at the end of his show on Friday. Bashir took Palin Derangement Syndrome to a new level of hysteria this week when he viciously attacked her for a comment she made at Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Coalition event last weekend.
During his “Clear the Air” segment, Bashir called Palin America’s “resident dunce,” accusing her of “scraping the barrel of her long-deceased mind, and using her all-time favorite analogy in an attempt to sound intelligent about the national debt.” Calling Palin a “world class idiot” Bashir went further, saying she deserved the same punishment as slaves — specifically, that someone should defecate and urinate in her mouth. Claiming she would be an “outstanding candidate” for such torture, the misogynistic Bashir said Palin is “qualified for a dose of discipline.”
Bashir described the diary of a Jamaican plantation overseer named Thomas Thistlewood, who tortured and brutalized the slaves in his care. “What is most shocking about Thistlewood’s diary is not simply the fact that he assumes the right to own and possess other human beings, but is the sheer cruelty and brutality of his regime,” Bashir said. “In 1756, he records that a slave named Darby ‘catched eating kanes had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, s-h-i-t in his mouth.’”
“This became known as ‘Darby’s Dose,’ a punishment invented by Thistlewood that spoke only of inhumanity.”
One of the more interesting shows on television is Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown on CNN. Sunday was the season finale, where host Bourdain traveled to Detroit to explore the food and culture. After the episode — “The Last Bite” — Bourdain gathered with friends in a Las Vegas bar to discuss the season, which included a segment filmed in New Mexico that featured “gun culture.” CNN host Don Lemon joined Bourdain, along with Roy Choi (author of L.A. Son) and actor Wendell Pierce.
Bourdain, an avowed “New York lefty,” admitted that he likes guns and expressed his respect for American gun owners:
These people in the segment, as many people in red state America — in gun country America — these are nice people. They like guns. As a matter of fact, I’ve gotta admit, I like guns. I like holding guns. I like shooting guns.
He explained more in a blog post about the New Mexico episode:
In New York, where I live, the appearance of a gun—anywhere—is a cause for immediate and extreme alarm. Yet, in much of America, I have come to find, it’s perfectly normal. I’ve walked many times into bars in Missouri, Nevada, Texas, where absolutely everyone is packing. I’ve sat down many times to dinner in perfectly nice family homes where—at end of dinner—Mom swings open the gun locker and invites us all to step into the back yard and pot some beer cans. That may not be Piers Morgan’s idea of normal. It may not be yours. But that’s a facet of American life that’s unlikely to change.
Bourdain described author Roy Choi as a peace-loving leftist, recalling that his family had defended Koreatown during the ‘92 riots with semi-automatic guns and shotguns with no support from the city government or the police. He asked Choi if Americans should be able to get AR-15s easily.
Choi said, “I’m from Los Angeles, so the numbers and the semi-automatics are, for us, it’s more about protection, whether it’s the Korean community or down in the inner cities. It’s really about — the guns are a part of the culture in Los Angeles, whether or not we want to agree with it or not and they — in the Korean community a lot of times they existed in stores. They existed as protection.” Choi said we should be talking about jobs and human rights instead of guns.
Lemon admitted that he had once owned an AR-15. “Listen, similar to you, I did own an AR-15. After covering [the Aurora shooting] I bought an AR-15 in Colorado because I wanted to go through the process of seeing how quickly — took me 20-30 minutes to get an AR-15 and I wasn’t even a resident of Colorado.” Lemon has since sold the gun but said he has “evolved” on his gun stance over the last year. “I don’t want to be a sitting duck. If other people have guns and they’re not going away, I’m wondering, should I be armed myself if everyone on the block is armed and I’m not?”
Bourdain said we shouldn’t compare the United States to Europe or Great Britain and said doing so didn’t help the discourse. “It doesn’t help. We’re not them.”
Lemon agreed, adding that comparing all gun owners to those who shoot up shopping malls isn’t helpful, either. “Those people who you were out shooting with — those were law-abiding citizens who were trained for guns and respect them. They’re not the people going into malls and shooting people. So there are two different ways to look at this. Yes, it’s mental health. But for the most part the people who have guns and who carry AR-15s, most of them are not shooting up people.”
My little brother — they shot him in the chest. His name was Gideon and he died at the age of ten. I saw my father bleeding seriously from the attack. He’s always kind, always telling us to read the Bible and be close to God. And that was the last time I saw him. He is not dead. Definitely one day we are going to meet again.
—Victoria, age 13
That day last year, eighteen people were shot and twelve died when Muslim extremists attacked Deeper Life Church in Gombe, Nigeria, during a church service. The Christian community in Nigeria has been under attack by Boko Haram, which has committed shootings, kidnappings, and bombings of schools and churches. Boko Haram seeks to eradicate Christians in their quest to enforce their strict version of Sharia law on Nigeria.
In September, an Afghan convert from Islam to Christianity was scalded with boiling water and acid at a refugee processing center in Norway. “If you don’t return to Islam, we will kill you,” his attackers told him.
Another Afghan Christian, Aman Ali, fled Afghanistan in 2010 after a video of his baptism was leaked to the press. “Someone had reported my activities to the secret police of Afghanistan and they were looking for evidence to arrest me, but I was so careful and had to stop my work,” Aman told International Christian Concern. “After the television showed pictures from a baptism ceremony, the Afghan government started arresting believers from different parts of Kabul… Most Afghan believers were scared… and left the country. So did me and my family.”
Ali and several others fled to India, seeking refugee status with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), but his application for status based on “well-founded fear of persecution by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion” was rejected. Ali said the UNHCR did not view his conversion to Christianity as a legitimate threat to his life. Nearly a dozen other Afghans from the baptism video have been turned down by the UNHCR, including Ratimullah, who said, “I cannot return to my country because I will be arrested and executed by the Afghan government.” Ratimullah wrote in an appeal to the UNHCR, “A definite death is waiting for me in my homeland.” Most are now in hiding, fearing they will be sent back to Afghanistan. Some have fled to other countries, including Turkey, where they languish in refugee camps, often facing persecution from Muslim refugees.
Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “In 2011, at least two Christians in Afghanistan were imprisoned by the Karzai administration, another was brutally beheaded by the Taliban, and nearly all Afghan Christians lived in fear of persecution. There is no evidence to suggest that the situation for Christians is improving, but every indication that it is only getting worse.”
In the Sinai Peninsula, controlled by Egypt, Bedouin Muslims abduct Christians from Africa, holding them in torture camps, demanding that their families pay ransoms of $40,000 to $50,000, which most cannot afford. “They torture them in horrible methods, like hanging upside down from the ceiling, like using electric shocks, like burning them on their bodies,” Shahar Shoham, director of Physicians for Human Rights, told CBNNews. Eritrean and Ethiopian Christians are fleeing their homelands, seeking refuge in Europe and Israel from the kidnappings and brutal torture. “They hang us the way [Jesus] was hanged and they take off their clothes. While they are naked they will hang them. And they will just hit them with big bats like all day for hours.”
On Friday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz made his first appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Leno, allegedly in his last season as host of the Tonight Show, has not been known as a particularly partisan entertainer, so it was surprising to see him go “Candy Crowley” on Ted Cruz. You may recall that CNN’s Crowley, who moderated a debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, became part of the debate when she began reciting (false) White House talking points on Benghazi. Some on Twitter compared Leno to a prosecuting attorney as he interrupted Cruz and accused him of everything from shutting down the government to wanting violent psychopaths to have guns.
Cruz, for his part, used the appearance to his advantage, clearly understanding both the venue and the audience. Although Cruz is certainly more than capable of holding his own in a debate with Leno, he chose mostly to keep his powder dry, defying the media-generated image of him as a hostile aggressor. He was relaxed and laid back, despite the tough questioning. It seemed to go over well with the audience, which erupted into cheers after several of Cruz’s points.
It’s interesting to go back and watch Leno’s interview with President Obama from this past August and compare the questions and tone with Leno’s interview with Cruz last night. The most obviously noticeable difference is how often Leno interrupts Cruz compared to Obama. Leno lets the president finish nearly every answer. Even when Obama lapses into “um…uh….uh…,” Leno patiently waits for Obama to continue.
There is a stark contrast in how often Leno uses the pronoun “you” when questioning Cruz. Also, Leno speaks about policies and events as if the president has nothing to do with them.
On the following pages you can read the questions side-by-side. Where a question is preceded by dashes (- – ), it means Leno interrupted the interviewee.
The Rittman Indians have been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. A poem read in class by disgruntled Indians football player Nick Andre – an ill-conceived English assignment — lambasted the head coach, his teammates, and the team’s losing record and sloppy play. When the 16-year-old Ohio player was suspended and kicked off the team for what the school principal called “hazing and harassment,” the story went viral, even making the national news. After serving part of his 4-day suspension, Andre was allowed back on the team, but not before the head coach resigned in the wake of the controversy. Suffice it to say that it’s been a bad year for the Indians with little hope of redeeming the season.
But with the help of coaches from the Waynedale Golden Bears and the officials, the Indians season ended on an remarkably positive note on Friday. The Daily Record’s Aaron Dorksen reported:
Coaches on the Rittman and Waynedale sidelines were both thinking the same thing in the final minutes of what would turn out to be a 49-6 Golden Bears’ win Friday: “Let’s let ‘Big Mike’ score a touchdown.”
The players and even game officials all got in on it, too.
So with less than a minute left in the season finale for both teams, the spotlight and the football were given to Rittman senior Michael Halliwell, a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder with autism who was seeing his first varsity action of the year on that drive.
For the first few plays, Halliwell had lined up at left tackle and the PA announcer congratulated him for a good block.
Indians coach Lane Knore used his final timeout to set up a handoff from quarterback Matt Evans to Halliwell, who ran it 31 yards with 22 seconds left for the most heart-warming touchdown anyone in Indians Stadium is likely to ever see. A Rittman assistant had run over to Waynedale’s sideline just prior to the play to ask Bears coach Matt Zuercher and his staff if it would be OK, to which Zuercher responded, “We were already thinking the same thing.”
Waynedale’s coaches, including defensive coordinator, Todd Barkan, who is a special education teacher, had taken the players to a local children’s home earlier in the week to perform community service. “We talked about giving back and helping others, but who knew we’d be able to do something like that in our game Friday? It was a special night for our team to be a part of, too,” Coach Zuercher told the Daily Record.
Mike’s father, Allen Halliwell, told the Daily Record that to “Big Mike” the touchdown was real. “He ran as fast as he ever has, all 6-5, 300 pounds of him clutching the ball with two hands until teammates mobbed him in the end zone.” He said the Golden Bears congratulated him as well. ”Mike is proud to be a Rittman Indian,” Allen Halliwell said. “He knows he’s part of something bigger than himself.”
“I finally got to do something I’ve always dreamed of since I was a little boy — make a touchdown,” Mike said.
Read the whole story here.
Today, millions of voters will go to the polls and see state and local school board candidates on their ballots. We know that turnout for school board elections is pathetically low. A recent state school board election in Arkansas only managed to turn out 2 percent of the state’s registered voters. Two percent! Reasons voters give for failing to vote for school board candidates include not having enough information about them or thinking that the election is not particularly important — that it won’t really affect their lives.
Though most people pay little attention to these races and cannot name their elected state school board representatives or even their local school board members, these board members often play a vital role in implementing education laws passed by the legislature and creating policies that can affect every child who attends public school. In Ohio, the State Board of Education is charged with writing the regulations to enforce the new Common Core standards and the state-mandated testing that goes along with the standards. They also administer the regulations for private schools, charter schools, and homeschools. They even have the power to radically change the homeschooling regulations without involving the legislature. Yet a large number of Ohioans don’t vote in these elections and don’t pay any attention to what the board does.
Likewise with local school board elections, many people are uninformed about the candidates and their views. Your local school board decides how the money your district collects for the schools is spent. Is the board stacked with union hacks? Many — if not most — of them are. State and local teachers unions spend a boatload of money to maintain control of school boards. Union-controlled board members will likely happily give in to union demands at contract time and tell the football team to take a hike when the money runs out. They know the voters will usually cave in and vote for a school levy if they make the kids and parent feel the pain by cutting out sports and busing. They know most voters won’t bother to read the union contracts to find out about the Cadillac benefit plans the teachers enjoy (with no co-pays or deductibles on their health insurance and 100% employer-funded pension plans). It’s for the children, they’ll cry, as they hold out their tin cups and beg beleaguered taxpayers for more money.
Since most school board elections are nonpartisan, it’s often difficult to discern which side of important issues candidates are on. Your local newspaper probably won’t report if a candidate is a union plant, a rabid anti-school choice zealot, or a vocal homeschooling opponent. Most candidates read their talking-point twaddle when the newspaper calls to interview them. “I believe that strong schools make our community better,” they intone. You’ll rarely hear them saying they want to raise your taxes or run the charter school out of town when they’re running for office. You won’t know until after they’re elected that they’re zero-tolerance zealots who will turn your child over to the county prosecutor when he chews his peanut butter and jelly sandwich into the shape of an assault rifle. These are important questions that are rarely asked, because we’re told the important things are vague notions about “great schools” and “property values.” We’re lulled into thinking that everything will work out OK as long as the candidates support “strong schools,” whatever that means.
Last week, a dear lady at our church who ministers to widows in Kenya shared a prayer request during our church’s prayer meeting:
A dear pastor who interpreted for us earlier this year in Kenya, was killed by a hippo a few days ago. He left a widow, Mary, with six children.
My first thought was, “What a terrible way to die.” Smithsonian says that male hippos can weigh up to 6000 lbs. and they “have trampled or gored people who strayed too near, dragged them into lakes, tipped over their boats, and bitten off their heads.” Hippos likely “kill more people each year than lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes and rhinos combined,” according to Smithsonian. They can bite your head off?? Apparently, despite their adorable ears and cute backsides, hippos are aggressive, nasty animals. Death by hippopotamus is not the way I want to exit this world.
My second thought when I heard this story was that I’m grateful to live in a country where we don’t have hippos charging up out of lakes to kill people. I know this may sound silly, but as I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve been filled with an incredible sense of gratitude to live in a country that is exponentially better than Kenya in so many ways. Aside from the marauding hippo problem, the life expectancy there is only 50 years of age. Forty percent of Kenyans die from HIV, TB, or malaria, all preventable diseases. A full 34% die of other communicable diseases. While we are debating Obamacare and screaming about a website that doesn’t work here in the United States, Kenyans are still trying to eradicate tuberculosis and malaria. It’s something we need to keep in perspective.
If you own a home, you may be familiar with force-placed homeowners insurance. Basically, in order to protect their interests, your mortgage lender usually has the right to force you to purchase homeowners insurance. That way, if there is a serious loss of property — say the house burns to the ground — the lender does not have to absorb the loss. The insurance company assumes the risk. As a homeowner borrowing money to purchase a home, you are not permitted by your lender to assume the risk yourself — in most cases you are forced to purchase homeowners insurance that meets certain requirements. You’re allowed to purchase insurance on the open market and rates are fairly reasonable — unless you let your policy lapse for some reason. Then the mortgage lender has the right to force-place homeowners insurance on you, and the policy they choose may be a lot more expensive than the policy you chose for yourself. You consented to the possibility of a force-placed policy when you (probably mindlessly) signed the two-inch pile of papers at closing.
This actually happened to our family when we purchased our home. We had shopped around for the best price and best policy to fit our family’s needs and, as we did with our previous home, we planned to pay for it out of an escrow account, so it was combined with our mortgage payment. Somehow, there was a paperwork mix-up and the mortgage company never paid the premium, resulting in cancellation of the policy. A few months after we moved in, we suddenly found that we had been force-placed into a high-cost homeowners insurance policy chosen for us by our mortgage company. It was three times the cost of the policy we had chosen, but because our policy had lapsed, the lender had the right to force-place us into another plan. Eventually, we were able to drop that policy and get back to the one we wanted, but it was not an easy process.
You don’t have to be a Lutheran to celebrate Reformation Day. If your family chooses not to participate in Trick or Treat and other Halloween activities — or if you’d like to add a spiritual dimension to October 31st — consider commemorating the day in 1517 when Martin Luther posted his “Ninety-Five Theses” on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany.
Luther, a Catholic monk, posted the list of items he wished to debate on the door of the church, a common practice among academics of his day, “out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light.” In his list of complaints against the Catholic Church, Luther railed against the practice of enriching the Church and granting false security to members by selling indulgences, fees paid to the Church that were said to shorten the duration of time one spent in purgatory. “The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men, ” Luther wrote.
The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.
Luther’s “Ninety-Five Theses” sparked a debate between Luther and those aligned with the pope, leading to the Reformation which resulted in a rediscovery of the doctrine of justification—God’s act of declaring a sinner righteous—through faith alone by God’s grace alone. Many agreed with Luther’s teaching — contrary to Catholic Church doctrine — that Christ offered them salvation not because of any good works or righteousness on their part, but because of what Christ had already done on the cross.
The Reformation caused religious, political, social, and cultural upheaval in Germany and across Europe and changed the course of history. Ultimately, the Reformation led to the formation of the Protestantism, which many today celebrate, as Luther originally proclaimed, “out of love for the truth.”
If your family would like to celebrate Reformation Day this year, here are a few ideas to help make your day fun, educational, and even meaningful.
I was reading a Facebook post recently where someone expressed concerns that some well-known homeschooling books were now aligned to Common Core Standards (CCS). The comments after the post made it clear that many of the parents, without reviewing the books, were crossing that book publisher off their fall shopping list. Are these parents right to keep their children safe from all books that might be tainted by the dreaded Common Core or is this an overreaction?
In case you’ve been living under a rock or on Kiribati, 1650 miles from civilization, CCS is the set of national education standards that have been adopted by forty-five states. It was heavily promoted by the National Governor’s Association and backed by testing companies (who stand to make huge profits from the heavy testing requirements) and other corporate and philanthropic interests. In addition to the heavy testing, many parents say that the standards are dumbed-down and will cause children to fall further behind in school. The standards also rely on national data tracking, a concern for many parents. Michelle Malkin has done a fabulous job of documenting the many problems with the new standards.
Does this mean that any book or worksheet that says it is aligned with Common Core is automatically bad and part of the Statist Conspiracy to take over education? I don’t mean to minimize concerns about CCS — I share them and am supporting efforts in my own state to repeal Common Core. But it’s important to know that there is sometimes a difference between books that are designed to fall in line with Common Core and those that happen to tick off a few items on a checklist so the publishers can slap a Common Core label on them for marketing purposes.
Michael McShane of the American Enterprise Institute explains:
As it turns out, pretty much anyone can slap a “Common Core Aligned” sticker onto a textbook, professional development module, or supplemental resource. It is incumbent on states, districts, and schools to wade through all of these, but given the enormous volume of resources out there, they’re drinking from a fire hose. Without some meaningful vetting process, all of the benefits of the nationwide market for new tools will be washed away in the flood of misaligned materials.
These days, interfaith dialogue is often reduced to a slogan — a Coexist bumper sticker, perhaps, or a vow to embrace diversity. The words “brutal honesty” are perhaps not the first that come to mind when we think of interfaith dialogue because our culture has trained us to avoid offending people at all costs. Disagreeing with others or speaking too forthrightly — particularly about religion — is not considered to be virtuous. Americans in the 21st century are so sensitive and so fragile that they must be shielded from uncomfortable truths, we are told.
And then there is Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who demonstrates how intellectual and spiritual honesty can be noble and even preferable to false unity.
Dr. Mohler recently gave an address at Brigham Young University, showing how we can share an interfaith dialogue that is both respectful and honest. Oftentimes those with substantive theological differences will seek to find common ground while truth is sacrificed in the process. Mohler managed to accomplish both in his address to almost 400 students and faculty at the nearly packed auditorium at BYU.
Mohler expressed that he respected his audience enough to acknowledge their differences:
I come as a Christian theologian to speak explicitly and respectfully as a Christian—a Christian who defines Christianity only within the historic creeds and confessions of the Christian church and who comes as one committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the ancient and eternal Trinitarian faith of the Christian church. I have not come as less, and you know whom you have invited. I come knowing who you are—to an institution that stands as the most powerful intellectual center of the Latter-Day Saints, the most visible academic institution of Mormonism. You know who I am and what I believe. I know who you are and what you believe.
In a world where conflict and disagreement are often seen as the enemies of the common good, Mohler walked to the podium and gave truth its rightful place of honor in his dialogue with those in attendance. While it might have been tempting in that situation to exude a more conciliatory tone, emphasizing only areas of agreement, Mohler made it clear from the start that he recognized the differences and wanted to begin a dialogue coming from a place of truth.
Mohler, who had met earlier in the day with members of the religious studies faculty at BYU, talked about his warm friendship with several leaders of the LDS church, saying the relationships are richer because they are based in truth:
It has been my great privilege to know friendship and share conversation with leaders of the LDS church. … We do not enjoy such friendship and constructive conversation in spite of our theological differences, but in light of them. This does not eliminate the possibility of conversation. To the contrary, this kind of convictional difference at the deepest level makes for the most important kind of conversation. This is why I am so thankful for your gracious invitation.
Remember when President Obama groused about the rise of job-killing technology?
There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate. All these things have created changes in the economy, and what we have to do … is identifying where the jobs for the future are going to be.
Let’s hope the president hasn’t seen these high-tech Japanese restaurants, devoid of human servers — the concept will undoubtedly cause him to make statements that will give the stock markets the jitters as he predicts our country’s impending demise.
Called “kaiten,” translated as “revolving” in Japanese, the automated sushi restaurants deliver food on microchip-embedded plates. Instead of a waiter taking your order, a conveyor belt meanders past your table and you select plates as they go by. The plates are covered by special ”sendo-kun” — “Mr. Fresh” — domes. The transparent domes protect the food and maintain the optimum temperature. The microchips keep track of the dishes so the kitchen personnel know how long they’ve been floating around the conveyor and which dishes have been consumed so they can keep their inventory stocked and fresh.
If you want a special order, there’s a touchscreen tablet conveniently located above the table and the conveyor belt will promptly deliver your special request within a couple minutes. After you’re done eating, simply deposit your plates into a slot next to your table where they are scanned and your bill is tabulated.
And then comes the part that will likely get Mrs. Obama’s kimono all in a twist: For every five plates you send down the shoot you are rewarded with a spin of your tablet’s roulette wheel where you can win small prizes. The more you eat, the more you win!
Mothers of picky eaters everywhere will rejoice when this comes to America.
And if they can find a way to replace the raw fish with pulled pork, I’m all in.
Homeschooling was the topic of a recent of edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, with Sen. Ron Paul as guest. Paul expressed his hope that more people would choose homeschooling. “I want people to be able to homeschool their children. Not everybody is designed to pick out the leaders who want to, and maybe 20 percent might be interested in doing this.”
Paul’s lofty goal of 20% of families homeschooling their children would obviously revolutionize American education and have a dramatic impact on families. According to the federal government, the percent of homeschooled children in the United States is currently in the single digits.
But rather than focusing on education, MSNBC Morning Joe commentator Katty Kay worried that bringing all those children home with their mothers would deal a devastating blow to opportunities for women in the workplace.
Twenty percent of children being homeschooled — that’s going to mean a vast drop in the number of women in the work force because it’s largely women who are doing the homeschooling. A lot of women can’t afford to give up their jobs. A lot of families can’t afford that and do we actually want to be encouraging women not to take part of the work force because we know how valuable that diversity is. I’m just, I’m concerned about advocating homeschooling on this level when women are having such a hard time already, staying in the work force.
Did you ever notice that liberals are all “for the children” until it comes to sacrificing their personal desires or their beloved “diversity,” which apparently ranks higher than “the children” in these debates? With the current state of the American family, the decline of the culture, the behemoth welfare state, and the soaring incarceration rates, should diversity in the workplace even be a consideration in the decision about whether or not to homeschool?
The Dispatch reported last week:
House Republicans are preparing to potentially sue GOP Gov. John Kasich over taking Medicaid expansion to the state Controlling Board, and they would base their lawsuit on the arguments laid out in a formal protest they filed yesterday. Thirty-nine GOP representatives signed a letter in protest of Kasich’s plan to ask the seven-member legislative-spending oversight panel on Monday to approve $2.56 billion in federal money over two years to cover about 275,000 more poor Ohioans under Medicaid. They said Kasich’s maneuver will circumvent the “clear intent of the General Assembly,” a violation of Ohio law.
Kasich has been obsessive in his desire to use Obamacare funds to expand Medicaid in the state, bringing cheers from the left and infuriating conservatives. The Ohio governor has repeatedly used God as his wingman in his quest to shove the program through the legislature — unsuccessfully. Kasich has (for now) become the darling of the left for his single-minded determination to expand the welfare rolls in Ohio. Many are speculating that Kasich is positioning himself for a presidential run that will focus on independent voters. Others think his shift to the left will appeal to moderates in his re-election bid. Still others say Kasich really believes that God has put him in the position to use the power of the state government to help the poor. It may be all of the above.
“You don’t have to say any more prayers about that. We are going to expand,” Kasich told Medicaid-expansion advocates Friday.
Why is it some people don’t get it?… It’s probably because they don’t understand the problem. … Can you imagine being in a position where you have no health insurance?
With this recent move Kasich has upped the ante, creating a constitutional crisis over the separation of powers. Kasich had originally included the Medicaid expansion in his state budget. The legislature stripped it out and then added language prohibiting the state from expanding Medicaid in the final budget sent to the governor. But Kasich struck that language from the budget with his line-item veto. Remaining in the budget after all the changes is a section authorizing the state Medicaid director to do the expansion. Republican legislators maintain that Kasich must receive the final legislative financial support to fund expansion, but Kasich has asked the seven-member Controlling Board, which usually does little more than transfer funds between accounts, to authorize accepting the federal funds to expand the program — though there are no guarantees that the federal government would continue to fund the program in future years, which means the burden of funding the program could suddenly shift to the state in the years to come.
The seven-member Controlling Board is made up of Democrats and Republicans appointed by House and Senate leadership as well as a Kasich appointee. The two Democrats and the Kasich appointee are thought to be a lock for Kasich, and Rep. Chris Widener is widely thought to be the Republican “yes” vote Kasich needs for a majority.