Thursday, October 10, 2013

Common Core Teaches About Protesting & Activism!

I recently saw an article about Common Core ("CC") curriculum teaching children about protests and strikes. The CC-approved third-grade teacher's guide presents students with a scenario where janitors - members of the Services Employees International Union ("SEIU") - were not earning what they considered to be a "fair wage". I thought this might be a bit much for a third grader to handle, but then again, when has the Federal government ever given me a reason to doubt its wisdom or motives?

So, I gathered my children around to learn about some underpaid janitors who were allegedly being oppressed by their employers. These janitors went on strike "for more money because their wages [were] too low to be fair." The text book taught kids important vocabulary words like "protest" and "activism". As instructed by the book, I reminded them that a protest is "an event in which people publicly show their strong disapproval of something." I then challenged my kids to use the vocabulary words while speaking and writing.

Now that they had been properly instructed in activism, it was time to act. As instructed, we discussed problems they believe exist in their school. I encouraged them to make signs and organize themselves using examples found in the book.

As I said, I had my doubts early on. I wasn't sure if the message would really sink in or if they would understand, but they really took everything to heart. It didn't take them long to zero in on a big problem they saw in school and to make signs and organize a plan to protest the injustice they had identified. As the fair-minded, objective voice of reason, I may have given them some suggestions, but in no way influenced them in their thinking, much like the state-run education systems are disinterested, non-partisan educators. So, without further ado, let me present you with what they came up with:

[Scroll down to see their sign]


Thanks, Common Core! You'll be happy to know that my children are applying the lesson quite effectively. In fact, we reward them every time they shout "Protest Common Core!" or "Stop Common Core Facism!" It's really cute how they've embraced education.

[BTW, you can actually find those fine "Stop Common Core" buttons at]

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Letter Re: My Concerns With Common Core

Dear Governor Herbert, Utah State School Board, State Superintendent Menlove, Attorney General Swallow, State Legislators, Local School Boards, et al.:

As an involved parent, I am extremely concerned about the work my children are bringing home as a result of the Utah Common Core State Standards (“CCSS”). Below you will find some of my concerns.

First, my children are NOT merely bricks in a wall. They are unique and wonderful children! They have different strengths and weaknesses. My daughter - like her lawyer father - is more geared towards language, words, reading and logic. My son - like his college-educated mother - is more gifted in mathematics and science. My third son is a healthy mixture of the two. My daughter prefers to learn through practical examples and illustrations while my six year-old son likes to learn through straightforward facts and numbers. We cannot successfully parent and teach each of them the same way, so how do you propose that CCSS can successfully teach them and their unique classmates in the exact same manner?

Second, my children are overwhelmed with the amount of unnecessary busy homework they have to complete when they get home from school. To begin with, the kids are awake from about 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. Of those 13 waking hours they are at school from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Then when they get home, they read for 25 minutes and take about 27 minutes to complete homework - and they are in 1st and 3rd grade! I’ll make this really simple using the “Lattice Method”: there are 60 minutes in one hour and the kids are awake for 13 hours, so they are awake for 3x0 + 3x6 + 0x1 + 6x1 / / / hours. They spend 0x7 + 7x7 + 0x0 + 7x0 / / / at school. Then, they spend 25 + (27 + 3 = 30) = 45 - 3 = 42 minutes doing homework. That only leaves 780 (+20 to round to 800) minutes minus 420 (subtract 20 to round to 400) minus 42 (subtract 2 to round to 40) minutes to spend with their family and to just be kids and learn on their own. Yeah, that’s 800 - 400 = 400 minus 20 = 380 minus 20 = 360 minus 42 homework minutes (subtract 2 to round to 40) equals 320 minus 2 to get to 318 free minutes. It would be one thing if the homework stimulated their brains or if the work was preparing them for the real world, but it is full of mindless estimations and backward mathematical methods, as demonstrated above.

Third [I will give you 30 seconds to read this paragraph. If you do not read it in 30 seconds, you are not up to MY standards], there is an over-utilization of timed reading in the curriculum and not enough focus on comprehension.  When I was in elementary school, I learned to read and comprehend what I was reading. I don’t know how many words I could read in a minute at each level, but I learned to read at a comfortable pace, while absorbing the material I was reading. Is there some time-sensitive aspect of the “global economy” that I don’t understand? I have lived in Southeast Asia and all over the United States, I have completed 20 years of education and have passed a Bar exam; I do not remember ever benefiting from being able to read something at the fastest pace possible with there being no inherent penalties/drawbacks for lack of comprehension. Why is this so important to state standards? You may have read this paragraph in 30 seconds, but did you comprehend it? It matters.

Fourth, as I mentioned above, I have lived in Asia and I have witnessed many of the school systems there. The students are generally sharp, disciplined and dedicated to their work. The work, however, usually requires almost exclusively memorization and regurgitation. I often hear that the Asian education system is so wonderful and America is way behind in education because the kids in Asia score well on tests, but I don’t see a lot of innovation coming from those countries. Sure, they they produce many great products, but I don’t recall many breakthroughs coming from Asia. Am I wrong? They are generally good at following instructions and reproducing results, but I have found a huge inability to think outside the box, to interpret unique data, and to understand context. In my experience, many of them (but not all) are followers, but not thinkers. Why would you want to create students like that here in America? It’s almost as if you are trying to create a generation of followers and not thinkers…

Fifth, I have an assignment for you. Assume that the Constitution of the United States is outdated and needs to be changed (that shouldn’t be too hard for some of you). You - a Federal government agency - want to develop a one-size-fits-all education system for the entire Nation, but the Constitution does not specifically grant that right to your agency. What would you add or take away from the Constitution in order to make this new standard system of education constitutional? You will need to prioritize, prune and add text to turn your system into a constitutionally acceptable form of education. Then, propose a plan for how to lure the States to go along with your education program. Money is not an issue; you can promise them as much money as it takes, but you must get them signed up. Your proposal will be submitted in its final form as a persuasive presentation to the American people. They have been given the important individual charge - by their Creator - to educate their own children and, having partially delegated that responsibility to local school districts, will judge your proposal based on the validity and veracity of your arguments as to whether you have any right and/or ability to educate their children in the manner proposed. Your score will not be shared with you. We will keep your proposal in our database for future reference.

Sixth, suppose you are the Governor of Utah and in your 2012 gubernatorial election you received 624,678 votes, or 68.4%. Further suppose that during the Republican convention, you received 2,253 votes, or 57.67%. Now suppose that since your election your supporters, who oppose Common Core at the federal and state level, discover that you support Common Core at one or both of those levels. Suppose that these supporters are very serious about the education of their children and do not approve of their elected leaders supporting such a massive, radical form of standardized education. If (let’s put our estimation hats on) half of those supporters become former supporters and choose to vote for one of your Republican challengers instead of you, how many people would still support you in the convention and, if you survive the convention, how many Utahans would turn out to vote for you in the next election? The number is not important. The WHY is everything. As long as you understand WHY, maybe, just maybe you will survive in the Utah - not global - economy.

Thank you for your time and attention to our concerns. As parents of OUR children, my wife and I have the ultimate responsibility for educating OUR children and preparing them for the future. We take OUR responsibility very seriously. You, as public “servants,” work for US. If you do not serve the good of OUR children, we will relieve you of your post or we will remove our children from your collective, destructive influence.

Your Bosses,
The Halls

Monday, October 7, 2013

GOP Voting Pledge

As the Democrats continue to push a unified statist message in opposition to the GOP, they are also increasingly successful in painting the GOP as a house divided...and they're right. My Twitter timeline is full of "RINOs" and "Tea Party crazies" - all of whom want to defeat the Democrats - but who cannot agree on policies and strategy.

It's simple; if the GOP is continuously divided, the Democrats win. That doesn't mean that either the RINOs or the Tea Party must give up and give in so the other side can take over. The two groups can still fight to be heard, but we have to agree to be unified in our fight against progressivism. In an attempt to work around the difficulties presented by a divided party, I present this voting pledge, which is intended for anyone who considers him/herself to be a Republican - or at least sympathetic to the GOP.

GOP Voting Pledge

I, _______________________________, officially pledge to my fellow Americans that I will observe and keep the terms of the agreement below.


WHEREAS, progressivism is destroying the United States of America,

WHEREAS, the Republican Party - even with its faults - is the most powerful vehicle currently in existence for fighting against progressivism,

WHEREAS the Republican Party has hitherto been divided by well-intentioned ideological groups (who refer to each other as "RINOs" and "Tea Partiers" or some variation), which has resulted in Republican candidates losing to beatable Democrat candidates,

WHEREAS, even a "RINO" is better than a "Liberal progressive",

WHEREAS, the Republican Party will continue to suffer defeats unless its candidates and voters UNITE,


NOW THEREFORE in consideration of stemming the tide of destructive progressivism, I pledge  to exercise my voting rights as follows:

I will vigorously and respectfully support the primary candidate(s) with whom I agree and will encourage others to do the same;

I will vote in ALL Republican primaries in which I am legally able to vote and will accept the results of such primaries;

I will put my full support behind whichever Republican primary candidates are chosen, even if my candidates lose and even if I continue to have issues or concerns with the nominee(s); 

I will cast my vote for Republican nominees in ALL races - local, state, and national - in which I can legally vote, as long as I objectively believe that the Republican nominees are at least as desirable as the Democrat nominees;

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have executed this Pledge by signing my name in the comments section. 



If I do not agree to the terms stated above and if I choose not to exercise my voting rights because I am not satisfied with a particular Republican candidate, I agree to waive my rights to criticize, attack and/or complain about the newly elected or re-elected Democrat politicians in races in which I could have voted. 



"Anyone that is willing to stand next to me to fight the progressive left, I will be in that bunker. And if you're not in that bunker because you're not satisfied with this candidate; more than shame on're on the other side." - Andrew Breitbart, CPAC 2012

Sunday, October 6, 2013

My Heart is with the Tea Party; My Head is with the GOP

As Sen. Ted Cruz was preparing to 'filibuster' for 21 hours on the Senate floor, I thought it was a fool's mission. What good could come of it? Did he really think the Democrat-controlled Senate would listen to him and work with him to defund or reform the signature legislation ("Obamacare") of their Democratic leader? Is the fight worth it if you know you can't win? I was not optimistic and I thought it would have negative on the GOP.

A few hours into the "filibuster" I decided to tune in to see what Sen. Cruz was talking about. I missed the famous "Green Eggs and Ham" reading, but discovered something incredibly important that the media missed or - more likely - blatantly ignored. I realized that Ted Cruz is insightful, analytical, focused, amiable, persuasive and willing to debate issues with his Democratic colleagues. Here is a sample:

I admire Sen. Cruz's passion, his knowledge and his willingness to fight for his convictions. As I watched him speak, I was caught up in the 'heart' of what he was saying. In other words, my heart - my fighting spirit - admired what he was doing and how he was doing it. There was no snark or pettiness is what he was saying. When Democratic colleagues questioned him, he was respectful and polite. He may have been engaging in a bit of self-aggrandizement, but he wasn't going for cheap political points and snarky MSNBC-esque soundbites. This was contrasted dramatically when Sen. Harry Reid showed up to take the floor back with all the class and dignity of a Las Vegas casino boss. Sen. Cruz had spoken for 21 hours without making cheap personal attacks and Sen. Reid couldn't go 21 seconds.

I was quite blown away; especially by how much - in my heart - I applauded who Cruz was and what he did. Then, reality set in and I realized that, though he had rallied the Conservative right, he hadn't done much, if anything, to move the needle. He was still arguing from an lose-lose position, no matter how much I actually agreed with that position. Indeed, after skillfully picking apart ObamaCare for 21 hours, the only thing I heard the news report was his reading of "Green Eggs and Ham" and they even managed to find multiple faults with that.

How do I rectify this conundrum? My heart is with Ted Cruz, but my head knows his Republican colleagues in the Senate are correct, at least from a strategic political standpoint in this case. If I let my head - analytical, logical capacities - govern everything I say and do, I run the risk of becoming stale and overly calculating and never challenging the status quo. If I let my heart govern my actions, I wind up fighting everything and becoming overwhelmingly disheartened when I suffer losses that I should have seen coming. Isn't there a middle ground?

Not on Twitter, apparently. According to most tweeters, you were either a Tea Party nut job or a RINO. Even if you liked Ted Cruz, but didn't agree with his strategy, you were deemed a RINO, a sell-out, or part of the "Surrender Caucus." If you were a Conservative then the RINOs called you crazy or "wacko birds" (Isn't John McCain a gem?) if you supported the Cruz strategy. You would expect this type of name-calling between Democrats and Republicans, but it is happening all too often between 'Conservatives' and 'Moderates' both of whom claim Ronald Reagan as their idle. Yes, Ronald Reagan, who popularized the famous 11th commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican." My how we've strayed.

This doesn't mean that we have to like everything our colleagues and congressmen/women do, but we have to be united. The purity tests and at-all-costs primary threats are losers for us. Shutting down conservative candidates because they don't do the bidding of the "establishment" is a loser for us. If you are Conservative, vote for the most Conservative candidate you want in the primaries. If you are more Moderate, vote for a Moderate candidate. When your candidate loses, don't whine and stay home like a petulant child. Get out and support the GOP candidate, whomever it is. If your candidate wins, open your arms to accept the supports of the losing candidates and vow to work with them. It isn't that hard.

Conservatives and Moderate Republicans (and everyone in between) need to commit that they will vote in EVERY election no matter who the candidates are. There's always a better and worse candidate. In 2012, some Republicans/Conservatives framed the race as "Obama vs. Obama-lite". I disagree with that characterization, but even if it's true, wouldn't you rather have Obama-lite right now? There is a lot of distance between Obama and Mitt Romney; important distance that makes a HUGE difference to our personal freedoms and individual rights. To act like there is little difference is patently false and it's a losing attitude. To pretend that a Conservative cannot win a general election is equally false.

We need to fight (fair) during the primaries, but then unite after all of the voices have been heard! If we don't, the Dems will continue to win. And I hate watching the Dems win. There is a way to put our hearts and minds in support of the GOP, but it takes patience, humility and wisdom. We've got to find those virtues, because our current inner conflict is a loser - both in strategy and in policy.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Obama Administration - A Superseding Cause in the Government Shutdown

I'm not going to argue the merits of the partial shutdown, because I think both sides are being rather childish. But, I keep hearing that House Republicans are responsible for all things that have been shut down over the past week. To say that closures of the WWII Memorial, Panda Cam, Florida Bay, etc. automatically flow from the shutdown - and are therefore the fault of whomever caused the partial shutdown - is not correct. These are discretionary - high visibility - items, which require someone in the Executive Branch to affirmatively and punitively target for closure.

For example, the administration attempted to close Mount Vernon this week, which is privately funded. That was 100% wrong and 100% didn't naturally flow from the partial shutdown. Why would anyone do that? Simple: to win the public perception battle by making it hurt Americans ten fold and then use the PR machine to assign blame in an attempt to destroy the opponent. It is actually a good, though callous, political strategy, unless of course you get caught in your callousness. Unfortunately for the admin, Breitbart isn't the only outlet to quote the anonymous park ranger as saying, “[w]e’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.” It is.

So, even if you blame the GOP for the partial shutdown, you can't blame them for ALL of the closures we're seeing, because these closures require a superseding cause, e.g. the Obama Administration. Of course, people will believe what they will believe and House Republicans are a good/easy target (and the Obama administration knows this). But, to believe that the closures all flow from the actions of one part of a three-branched government is to allow the Obama Administration to shut down the faculties of our critical analysis. We, like the WWII Veterans, must push through those barricades (or Barry-cades) and demand answers. Whether you believe that President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid own the shutdown, you must agree that they own the barricades.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Silent Night / ABC News (Newtown, CT shooting)

In 1966, Simon & Garfunkel released a version of Silent Night, which had the 7 O'clock news playing in the background. Here is the background:

"7 O'Clock News/Silent Night" is the twelfth and final track on Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, a 1966 album by Simon and Garfunkel. The track consists of an overdubbing of two contrasting recordings: a simple arrangement of the Christmas carol "Silent Night", and a simulated "7 O'Clock News" bulletin of the actual events of 3 August 1966.
The "Silent Night" track consists of Simon and Garfunkel singing the first verse twice over, accompanied by Garfunkel on piano. The voice of the newscaster is that of Charlie O'Donnell, then a radio disc jockey. As the track progresses, the song becomes fainter and the news report louder. Matthew Greenwald calls the effect "positively chilling".[1] Bruce Eder describes the track as "a grim and ironic (and prophetic) comment on the state of the United States in 1966".[2]

It is indeed chilling, but also a reminder of the peace that comes through Jesus Christ and the evil and tragedy that mankind creates. I thought of this juxtaposition in the wake of the Newtown, CT shooting and decided to put this together. Nothing can erase the pain of this tragedy, but with the Savior, peace is still possible.

Who will protect gun control advocates on THAT day?

In the wake of that terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the gun control advocates are out in full force. Liberals are perfectly willing to relinquish constitutional rights for the good of us all. After all, they know better than we do.

This Liberal "logic" makes me think of a great moment from the Robert Bolt play, A Man For All Seasons. The scene takes place between Sir Thomas More and his future son-in-law, William Roper.
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!  
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?  
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that! 
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake! 
It is frightening how quickly gun control advocates will cut down constitutional rights in a simplistic attempt to fix a complicated problem. Yet, they rationalize and justify cutting down the Second Amendment because it makes them feel they have control of something. It feels safer. 

So, we are to relinquish a constitutional right for the benefit of the children. Trade rights for desired safety and security. Liberals tend to make arguments in this manner, because it feels good and it seems like there is causation. There isn't. It is an illogical argument. Laws and bans do NOT stop criminals from acting on their evil plans, thus the reason they are "criminals" in the first place.

Considering we are a nation ready to give up on the "war on drugs" because drugs are so rampant that we cannot enforce our laws, how can we expect law enforcement to keep guns away from criminals and protect law-abiding citizens who are defenseless? Banning guns for law-abiding citizens would likely embolden and enable criminals, making the nation - and yes, children - less safe.

The gun culture in America is a serious problem. There are too many gun deaths. There is too much violence. Our culture is suffering. We have a morality problem. We have an entitlement and envy problem. We have a respect-for-life problem. But, we must have honest, all-encompassing debates about the problems and the solutions. In this case, seeking to cut down the Second Amendment is a knee-jerk reaction which could prove disastrous for all Americans. And if the guns are legislated away, who will protect the gun control advocates on THAT day?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

What Does Obama Have In HIS Binders?

The ridiculous "binders" story is not worthy of a post. So, I thought I'd just post a picture instead, just to prove that Obama does indeed know what a binder is, and that he actually uses them. According to Harry Reid, he could have anything in there and until he reveals what is in there, we can assume he is hiding something. So, what does Obama have in his binders? Leave guesses in the comments section...

He could have anything in there!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Obama in 2008 on National Security: "The Buck Will Stop With ME!"

In light of Hillary Clinton taking the blame for failures in the Benghazi attack while Obama remains in hiding (from reporters), let us take a moment to remember yet another lofty promise Obama made back in 2008: