businessman-sitting-in-corner-with-dunce-hatCommon Core Standards have become the backdoor to a standard national curriculum.

There is some slight chance that they will prove useful in a few small areas – the sequence of instruction for mathematics, perhaps. But this will likely be due to the broken clock phenomenon. The experts who brought us “New Math” in the 1960s were never discredited, just recycled.

I can guarantee you that they will militantly require the instruction and acceptance of the evolutionary model.

And I can guarantee you with 100% certainty their objectives in social studies will be an abomination of political correctness.

A national curriculum is a terrible idea – for public, private, and homeschoolers. It presupposes that there are “experts” who understand child development with such precision that they can prescribe what every child needs to know when.

And this initiative comes from those who have devised and imposed a system of public education that is a patchwork of occasional, in-spite-of-themselves successes and a succession of overwhelming tragic failures of epic proportions.

The schools of education lack any true appreciation or understanding of human nature. They refuse to acknowledge the simplest, common sense observations of the difference between boys and girls or the variations of ability and interest within each gender. The do not respect children as unique persons.

They lack understanding, credibility, or any track record of success.

Why should they be consulted about curriculum, or paid the least bit of attention again?

/rant off

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Apparently, the end of the world is nigh.

Come March 1, 800,000 federal employees will be furloughed, policeman and fireman will no longer respond to emergencies, teachers will be fired, parents with children will be turned away from daycare centers, and old people will be left to die in the streets.

Something called the “Sequester” will strike the US and life as we know it will end.

Let’s go to the numbers, shall we?

The 2013 budget for the United States Federal Government is $3.803 trillion (or $3,803 billion).

The amount of spending cuts mandated by the sequester is $85.4 billion.

Let’s translate that back to human scales.

Imagine that your annual household budgeted spending was $38,030 dollars.

And let’s further imagine that you and the missus decided that for reasons inexplicable you needed to reduce your total annual spending by $854. Clearly, this would be a family crisis of epic proportions.  That would amount to $16.42 per week in cuts. If you’re in the habit of hitting Starbucks on the way to the office, you might have to forgo the pleasure of overly-priced coffee on three of the five days of the week.

Imagine now that either you, or your spouse rebelled against this harsh austerity. Imagine that instead of cutting back on the lattes, you announced that because of the budget cuts, you were going to have to euthanize the family pets.

Here’s the really maddening and tear-inducing irony. The 2013 sequester cuts amount to  2.245% of the Federal budget.

And not 60 days ago, the insanity that was the payroll tax holiday expired for all wage-earning Americans. Do you know what sort of immediate pay cut we all faced? That’s right. Two percent. 2%.

Obama & the Congress put together a budget deal to avoid the fiscal cliff and the brilliance-inside-the-beltway assured us that it was oh-so-good and responsible and only imposed a 2% cut in Americans take-home wages. And we all grumbled a bit when we first saw it, made a few adjustments and moved on.

But asking the federal government to cut their spending by 2.245%?

Clearly, an outrageous and unreasonable demand. Which will have dire consequences for the entire US economy.

Which the 2% cut in wages to American workers clearly did not have.

Because government economists! That’s why!

Why must you be so unreasonable?

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One of the things I dislike intensely is the attempt to re-write history.

The assertion that the 2nd amendment was never intended to allow private citizens to own military style weapons is a particularly obnoxious, ideologically-driven example of willful ignorance.

Other writers have done extensive research on the intentions and meanings of the amendment to those who proposed, adopted & ratified the amendments in 1791.

CMP BadgeOverlooked in the debate (at least so far I haven’t seen any citation) has been the quiet, ongoing work of providing military rifles and training to citizens carried out by the Civilian Marksmanship Program for the past 110 years. Recently converted to a congressionally chartered 501(c)(3) corporation, the CMP continues to receive donated .22 and .30 caliber rifles directly from the US Army and provides them at cost to civilians. Before 1996, the CMP was administered directly by the US Army.

“Any U.S. citizen who is not legally prohibited from owning a firearm may purchase a military surplus rifle from the CMP, provided they are a member of a CMP affiliated club.” There are CMP clubs in all 50 states. There are 139 such clubs in TN alone.

The CMP has been providing military grade weapons to US citizens since 1903.

The main infantry battle rifle of WW2, the Garand M1 has been available for years, and continues to be sold – including “sniper” models. You can also buy a Garand bayonet.

Oh, and by the way, the M1 Garand clip (it uses a clip, not a magazine) holds 8 rounds. Every M1 Garand 8-round clip has just been declared a prohibited, contraband item by the New York state legislature – at the same time that the US government is supplying those clips from their armory surpluses to the CMP for sale to civilians.

Military-style rifles, with high-capacity clips, and not just bayonet lugs, but actual bayonets – sold the the US public by the US Army. The horrors!

And a stubborn fact that destroys the argument that the 2nd amendment was never intended to allow civilians to own military-style rifles.

 

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The demand for action following the latest public horror by a mass murderer is understandable.

But a moment or two of reflection ought to slow the rush to take precipitate action.

No one seems to have spent much time on the notion of what might actually be effective in preventing the horror from being repeated.

A short perusal of the list of mass murderers and school massacres on the internet shows quickly that they occur and recur through history and across geography. They occur in countries with tough restrictions on firearm ownership and in countries with few restrictions on firearm ownership. Evil men do evil deeds. There is no evidence that human nature has changed over time at all.

If one could wave a magic wand and cause all nuclear weapons to disappear from the planet, I suppose that would be a good thing. But it wouldn’t stop war – or genocide.

If one could wave a magic wand and cause all guns to disappear from the planet, it might at first seem to be a good thing – but a few minutes continuing the thought experiment should give us pause. Thousands died at the hands of soldiers, brigands, & thieves long before the invention of the gun. Cain killed Abel with a rock.

It can be plausibly argued that the handgun as prevented far more violence (and murders) than it has caused.

Colt AdAs Samuel Colt said, “God made them all. Colt makes them equal.”

Be that as it may.

IF (and its a very big “if”) a large enough majority of US citizens are of the opinion that the ownership of handguns, or of semi-automatic rifles, or of all guns ought to be severely regulated, or even outlawed, then there is a mechanism for them to achieve their ends.

Those who drafted and ratified the US Constitution were aware that it is impossible to create a perfect charter of government. They recognized that there would be defects in the Constitution that might become apparent over time. They provided a mechanism to correct any perceived defect. The process to amend the constitution is relatively straight-forward, though it takes some time and political capital. Its been done five times in my lifetime.

Here’s what you need to do:

    1. Pass the proposed amendment in both houses of Congress by a 2/3 vote.
    2. Have 3/4 of the states ratify the amendment.

That’s it. It’s that simple.

What’s that you say? There’s no way to get 2/3 of both the Senate and the House to vote to repeal or alter the 2nd amendment? And no way to get 3/4 of the states to ratify?

Then perhaps there’s not the requisite consensus on what we should do about guns.

Feel free to continue to make your case and try to persuade the body politic that the constitution should be amended. The first amendment guarantees your right to do so. It also guarantees the right of those opposed to repealing or altering the 2nd amendment to present their case.

But until you have the requisite political capital to amend the constitution, please, let’s not have talk of executive orders or even new laws to infringe on the 2nd amendment.

Because abandoning the Constitution would put all of us in far greater peril that all the evil done by all the mass murderers in our history.

– Barack Obama, June 4, 2008

Obama stops the rise of the ocean

 

This was the moment

Steven Ozment is, undoubtedly, one of the leading historians of the Reformation in the world. I first read his early, seminal works in grad school (The Reformation in the Cities and The Age of Reform 1250-1550). He is a professor of history at Harvard where he continues to teach both graduate students and undergraduate course in western civilization.

I admire and have enjoyed his writings, more recently Magdalena & Balthasar and Protestants.

One of my beach books is his new study of Martin Luther and the Saxon court artist, Lucas Cranach, titled The Serpent and the Lamb.

It is a fascinating, provocative, frustrating, maddening, illuminating, challenging and informative read.

Cranach’s life is intertwined with Luther’s in numerous ways. Cranach illustrated some of Luther’s pamphlets, and was a partner in one of the printing presses that published Luther’s writings, including Luther’s German translation of the New Testament. They developed a close personal relationship. Cranach was a witness at Luther’s wedding and later godfather to his children.

Cranach himself was more than just a court painter. He has been justifiably placed in the first rank or artists with his friend and rival, Albrecht Durer. He was also a successful businessman, entrepreneur, large landowner, and city official (twice mayor) in Wittenberg.

Ozment’s biography of Cranach (with special attention to his relationship with Luther) is a magisterial tour de force. Ozment is in command of all the details and figures of Reformation Germany and deftly places Cranach in context and relationship with the major players: Frederick the Wise, elector of Saxony, Albrecht of Halle, twice arch-bishop, Emperor Maximillian and his grand-son, Charles V.

Ozment is also an observant analyst of the subjects and style of Cranach’s paintings over succeeding decades.

I’d recommend the book for anyone who is curious about Cranach’s life and art, and the relationship between the Reformation and the arts.

Having said all that, there is one howler in Ozment’s otherwise astute analysis that is indicative of one of the blind spots of current historical analysis.

In his discussion of Cranach’s treatment of women in a series of paintings of Old Testament heroines (an otherwise fascinating analysis), he turns to a 1528 painting by Cranach entitled Lot and His Daughters. Here’s how he summarizes the biblical story which Cranach depicted:

“The ending and moral of this story are also of great biblical complexity. Both daughters were impregnated by their father and delivered healthy boys who grew up to be leading Hebrew tribesmen. By its silence, the Old Testament implies that God took no offense at the daughters’ and the father’s transgression of the incest taboo. Apparently the daughters’ benevolent desire to salvage the future of their family, and perhaps all of humankind, made their gamble forgivable in the eyes of God.”

The story is told in Genesis 19 and the two healthy boys here are Moab and Ammon. Although descended from Terah (the father of Abraham) they are decidedly NOT Hebrew. The nations of Moab and Ammon became rivals, enemies, and at times oppressors of Israel. It’s a bit jarring, in an otherwise exceptionally well written book, to see such a simple factual error. All the more jarring, since one expects a historian of the Reformation to have a better than average knowledge of the Bible.

Doesn’t diminish the utility of the book, and my admiration for the author. Just a reminder that he’s not an expert in all areas.

RedHatRob at the Cranach House in Wittenberg

RedHatRob at the Cranach House in Wittenberg

 

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Facts are stubborn things.

Robert Oscar Lopez is a fact. And a very brave man.

Ph.D., Asst. Prof. of English at Cal State-Northridge.

He also describes himself this way:

“I am the gay community’s problem without a solution.  I don’t fit any of their narratives.  Through no fault of my own, I explode every one of their myths, from the narrative of idyllic same-sex couple parenting to the supposed fabulousness of post-Stonewall New York to the insistence that gay people are born a certain way and sexual orientation can never change.

I feel like walking around with a sign on my chest saying, “Dear Gays, Please Forgive Me For Existing.”  Their instinct would be to do what they usually do, which is ignore me.  Anyway, I am conservative.  That makes me Satan.”

H/T to The American Thinker. Read the full Articles: The Soul-Crushing Scorched-Earth Battle for Gay Marriage.

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Marriage: Just a Piece of Paper? [VHS]My irony meter has been pegged for a long time by the spectacle of the leftist intelligentsia’s hypocrisy on marriage. I’m a boomer. I cut my teeth on the denunciations of marriage as oppressive and outmoded. “Why do we need a piece of paper, man?”

Ladies, you may not have noticed, but these were the arguments advanced by men who wanted to have sex without having to make a commitment.

But in the last 15 years, the same leftists who denounced marriage have now demanded, as the sine qua non of social justice, the right of gay couples to get married.

As justification, they often cite the maudlin examples of gay lovers denied access to their partner’s side in a hospital, while husbands and wives get automatic access. It’s not fair!

Or the right to name a same-sex partner as a beneficiary for health insurance or retirement benefits the same way in which husbands and wives can. Also not fair!

There are, of course, easily implemented policy changes to deal with both those situations.

And, Surprise! – both of these situations are already easily dealt with.

The first is resolved with a “durable power of attorney for healthcare,” which I recommend for all adults, straight, gay, married or single. You should clearly designate who you want to be in charge of healthcare decisions should you be incapacitated. That person then has full rights to request and receive information on your status from hospitals & doctors and to visit you.

The second situation is also already resolved for the vast majority of citizens. You can designate a domestic partner (spouse, friend, room-mate, what have you) as your beneficiary. In fact, the ridiculous canard about Sally Ride’s widow being unjustly denied any access to her federal benefits is completely false.

OPM's Beneficiary Form

OPM's Beneficiary Form

Everyone, including Sally Ride, is/was perfectly free to name whomever they want as beneficiary on their insurance policies.

In fact, here’s the spot on the Federal Office of Personnel Management form for federal employees, with the helpful example of how to fill it out for a “domestic partner.”

Are we supposed to believe that Sally Ride deliberately chose NOT to list her partner as her beneficiary? And that is somehow the fault of those who are opposed to gay marriage?

But it’s not really about the practical details, is it?

Gay marriage stands for the symbolic triumph of approval.

The activists do not want tolerance, or accommodation. They demand approval – or silence.

They are pursuing gay marriage not for its practical or spiritual benefits – but because in achieving it, they will be forcing society at large, and the religious institutions who perform marriages to give their approval.

I think this explains the disproportionate response to the Chick-fil-A, “we support traditional marriage” imbroglio.

What the gay activists are after is the demonizing of anyone who would speak anything but praise & approval of homosexuality.

Americans, by and large, are (and have been) tolerant. And I expect they will remain so.

They are, however, not likely to be cowed or bullied into giving their approval to anything under compulsion.

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A short and very nice summary of the role of Scripture and the Church.

Human beings can err.

Scientists sometimes get it wrong. Even when the all agree. The test is always to return to the natural world and observe closely.

Popes can err.

General Councils of the Church can err.

The test is to return to scripture and read it carefully.

“Accurate interpretation does not mean forbidding “private interpretation” any more than good science forbids backyard telescopes.”

H/T to: Stand Firm -> Sola Scriptura and Interpreting the Bible Badly.

Short, but very much worth reading.

“Donde esta los weapons de automaticos?”

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