Saturday, May 31, 2008

Who Would Be Left?

Given what I've said about McCain, also know my thoughts concerning Obama and Clinton are not that great either, as I've mentioned in previous posts.

So, the question I have is, if God decided to "clean house" in Washington D.C. as He did in Sodom and Gomorrah, who would be left?

McCain, Part 3

I've seen some articles on McCain recently that are not too flattering:



US News And World Report


The Arizona Republic

You would think that there would be laws in the Constitution stating staff members of elected officials cannot work as lobbyists. It breaches conflict of interest rules, to say the least.

At least I now know why McCain's staff had no interest in pursuing a better plan for FEMA - mine or other plans people have to fix that train wreck - their staff members are either too busy getting paid by their lobbying sponsors for other work to be done, or perhaps they were (presumably) getting lobbied directly by those profiting from the mess FEMA made.

Either way, the survivors of Hurricane Katrina were the ones who lost the most.

I wonder how many of the survivors have lost the homes they are getting back as a result of the sub-prime mortgage mess?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My New Blogging Toy

Yes, folks, I have finally arrived into the 21st century. I have finally purchased an mp3 player (my first ever). It is an iPod Touch and I am typing this blog entry on it - wirelessly! If my students could see me now!

That's all for now, I have so much more to talk about, like the opportunity I had to meet Ralph Nader earlier this month. It was an honor to meet him and he is a very nice man. More on that the in my next post.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Some Illegal Immigrants Do Pay U.S. Taxes

For those of you who are under the misguided impression that all illegal immigrants "sponge" off of the U.S. Welfare system, please read some of the following reports:

The Reason Foundation

The Washington Post

The New York Times

The truth is, many illegal immigrants do pay taxes, but are not entitled to many of the benefits those taxes pay for. As for free college tuition, that would only be possible through scholarships payed for by private donors, illegal immigrants are not entitled to receive public money for a college education.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

John McCain Part 2

An answer to a posted comment: The ideas I sent to McCain were sent in Feb. 2006, not now. He wasn't running for President then (at least not announced), but was rather feathering his own cap on a book tour.

Also keep in mind it took 3 months to get a response when his staff said his normal response time is 1 month. The problem was that his staff couldn't find a pre-formatted letter to respond to what I had sent in. Instead of actually coming up with something original, his staff instead provided a pre-formatted letter based on 2 - 3 lines out of the entire document, only dealing with people's pets instead of the people themselves.

At least I'm assuming it was a very, very stupid staffer who did this. which only begs the question: how much of the mail to the Senator actually reaches his eyes? This is part of the problem of our current President and Vice-President, they are so insulated within their own group the American people (namely the voters) are left out in the cold.

John McCain has also tried to change his image from being the "Maverick" Senator from Arizona to being the conservative who kisses the Republican bottoms. I'm sorry to put it that way, but there it is.

I'm not saying Obama or Clinton are the ideal choice, the Republicans and the Democrats both have their own set of agendas they want to meet, regardless of what the American people actually need. This is why I'm actually voting Independent this time. Canada has a 5 party system, why not the U.S.?

I will also add one more experience with this: in June 2007 I got a call from McCain's staff asking for a campaign donation. When I informed this staffer of what had transpired and how disappointed I was in the response I got and I would not be making any kind of donation, I was informed by the staffer "but that is how you get the Senator's "ear", by making a campaign donation". I'm not joking, they actually told me this. Apparently my votes for him all these years didn't count for anything.

For those who are new to the political arena, this is how it works: pay some money to the candidate, get exclusive access to that elected official once they are in office. It's called lobbying, and trust me, elected officials get paid a lot more than what they make in their "official" salaries by doing this.

This is also how earmarks come into play, but perhaps I should save that for another post...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Why I Will Never Vote For McCain Again

With election time rolling around, I wanted to share with my friends a little something that happened to me a few years ago when I tried to contact Senator John McCain.

If you haven't guessed yet, I live in Arizona, so Senator John McCain is one of the elected officials who is supposed to be representing my interests.

I saw the CNN news reports on what happened in the Gulf Coast region of the U.S. in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. An idea came to mind as to what FEMA could be doing to better prepare themselves and the U.S. citizens in handling a natural disaster such as what happened in Hurricane Katrina.

Given that this was also the time when reports were coming out (namely on Oprah) showing all of the unused trailers that had been purchased by FEMA to house those affected. These trailers, numbering in the thousands, were sitting vacant on land that FEMA was paying thousands of dollars to lease. It was a complete waste of the taxpayers money. The idea I had at that time encompassed a way to utilize the trailers and cut the burden on the taxpayer at the same time.

This is what I sent (repeatedly) to Senator McCain:

This was the process of getting this idea to Senator McCain, and a scanned copy of the letter I received from his office in response:

Hopefully you've now read both of these. I would now change the housing to more permanent housing (either barracks or apartment type housing).

I can only say I hope the Senator didn't actually read what I sent and what his staff sent in response, or I would be asking for him to be removed from office right now. As it stands, it appears he is so isolated from his own constituents in Arizona, think about what kind of President of the U.S. he will make?

This is why I will never vote for Senator John McCain again, in any election.

Immigration Reform, Part 3

My very good friend, Shellee, brought up a great point that I would like to briefly discuss. She asked how can we tell who is coming across the border to work vs. crossing our borders to harm U.S. citizens?

This is going to involve a little bit of math, so I hope you guys can bear with me for just a moment.

Let's take a look at the current scenario that is playing out with border crossings. Right now we have some people legally crossing our borders to work in the U.S. These are people who have already passed background checks in order to receive permission to enter the U.S. and work.

We have others crossing illegally, at the risk of their own lives, in order to work. There are also others crossing our borders to either attack Americans or smuggle drugs into the U.S.

If we could better educate the people of Mexico on how to incite change within their country, do you think they will do it? I think the answer is yes. These are people who have left their homes and family to work and send money back to Mexico. They would much rather be at home, working for a decent wage to pay for their necessities in Mexico. If this need were filled, with good jobs, good wages and educational opportunities for their children, do you think they will be motivated to put their lives at risk trying to cross our borders? No.

If these people are no longer crossing our borders illegally, then who will be? Those who are smuggling drugs or have plans to attack Americans. Those who still wish to work in the U.S. can do so with a background check, and an employment verification, to receive a guest worker permit.

It's supply and demand. If the demand for jobs in the U.S. is no longer there, than the supply of illegal immigrants will drop.

In the meantime, the citizens of the U.S. can work on bring up their own living wages to match the cost of living...and on improving our own educational system.

Let's continue this conversation, shall we?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Education & Income Inequality, Or Vice Versa?

Here's another topic I've touched on in previous posts: education. We definitely need education reform in this country, however you cannot have a conversation about education reform without a conversation in income inequality. The reason is because they feed off of one another, and at this point in time, they are spiraling downward.

How can you afford to support yourself and your family with no education? How can you afford to go to college - and graduate - without money?

How much should we spend per child to get them to their grade level for reading, writing and math?

Should we ditch those subjects in favor of teaching technology?

These are some of the issues being thrown around in education circles. I hear both sides of the last question given that I run the computer lab at a K-8 school. I recently attended a conference over Spring Break for technology in education, and I left feeling somewhat frustrated. One of the last classes I attended was about the Technology Assessment that is now mandated by the Arizona Dept. of Education (ADE). This is a great start to show the importance of teaching technology, internet safety and copyright issues, however there is this bandwagon that people are jumping on with the idea that we should ditch the traditional education standards for something more "modern". There are some who feel that books are dead.

There is one problem I see with that logic: what good is a users manual for computer software to be electronic, if you need to use it because the computer will not start? There is a reason why software manuals are still written as books. You can get digital copies, however there are instances where you will want the bound copies at your fingertips.

The English language is also not dead, in place of the "shorthand" used for text-messaging and instant messaging, because there is still a need to communicate world-wide with others who may not understand these fad languages.

Personally, my opinion is we would do better to teach children how to read (and eventually be able to read the software manuals themselves) than just simply which buttons to push. If you have ever used Microsoft Office, think of the difference between versions 2000, 2003 and 2007 for Windows and you'll understand what I'm talking about. The 2007 version is almost so completely different from the previous versions, you need to read the manual on it to understand it.

The next item within education is the quality of education based upon the income of the child's family. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that there is a difference in the quality of education received in schools based upon the income levels of the families attending public schools. There are exceptions to the rule on this, where schools in the low income neighborhoods are making a difference. Unfortunately it is because these schools do not have the financial support of wealthy parents they cannot offer more opportunities to the students than what the financially strapped school districts can provide.

Now, to talk about income inequality. This basically means, to use an old phrase, "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer". There is a larger gap between those who are considered to be successful in their lives and those who are not. The recession issues now occurring in the U.S. are driving the point home to more people, as those who have not felt the pinch at the pump, or the rising cost of food, feel it more acutely than they are now.

The reason for this is because those who are more successful, and actually have the cash to back up their lifestyle, are more insulated from downturns in the economy than those who are living paycheck to paycheck. I did make one caveat in this: they must have the cash to keep their lifestyle. This is where the term "big hat, no cattle" plays an important role. This is a phrase I learned in the book, "The Millionaire Next Door". It means they have a lot of expensive toys, but are cash poor and are putting a fake front on their lifestyle. Those who live this way are walking a tightrope and the number of foreclosures on expensive homes is a good indicator as to whom these people are.

For those who do have the cash, this downturn in the economy is only a small dent in their pocketbooks.

I'll post more on this conversation later...

Immigration Reform Part 2

To continue with the conversation on immigration reform, here's a few articles to provide some food for thought.

The first is the most recent, from CNN, called No More Money To Mexico. The downturn in the economy is hurting the immigrants as well as the citizens of the U.S.

The other article is from the February 2008 issue of National Geographic Magazine. The article is called Mexico's Other Border and talks about the immigration problem Mexico has with its own Southern border.

This is a huge issue, reaching down into South America. However I still feel the start is to help the people of Mexico create a better Mexico.

It will probably mean a change in our country's leadership as well as Mexico's leadership. Our government is spending too much time playing politics and have forgotten whom they truly represent.

It will mean a change in educating Mexico's citizens (children as well as adults) in order for this transition to occur. Did you know that most children in Mexico do not go to school if the family cannot afford it? There are no truancy laws in Mexico because education has not been a priority in the smaller areas of the country. Many of the children going to school here fear of having to go live in Mexico because they know they will not have a future there. There are no opportunities to go to college if the family cannot afford the cost of tuition for an elementary education.

There is a solution, it's called technology. Not only to educate the students, but to also provide long-distance professional development for the teachers as well.

Let's continue this conversation...