This is me...

This is me...
I'm having a mom moment....

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

So Here Is What Is Happening In Washington

There is a whole lot of political crap going on right now and y'all know I wasn't gonna be quiet about it.  I hate, loathe, and detest politics.  Politics -- not government.  I find government (not THE government) incredibly interesting.  The system that our forefathers put in place more than 200 years ago is amazing...when politics aren't screwing it up.  Right now politics, or more specifically, politicians are screwing it up.  But before we can get into how, we need a little lesson in what our government is and what that means.

There are lots of different government structures, but most can be boiled down into:

  • Monarchy or dictatorship: Rule by one (a king, dictator, or emperor)
  • Oligarchy: Rule by a few
  • Democracy: Rule by a majority
  • Republic: Rule by law

  • Many Americans falsely believe that we, here in America live in a democracy.  We don't.  We live in a REPUBLIC and very few people know the difference.  After the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were concluded and Ben Franklin was exiting Independence Hall, a woman named Mrs. Powel from Philadelphia approached him and asked "Well, Doctor, what have you given us, a republic or a monarchy?"  Without any hesitation, Franklin responded "A republic, if you can keep it."

    Check out this handy-dandy chart that I found HERE that explains the differences.

    The problem in the here and now is that our elected representatives want to act like we live in an Oligarchy and that they are our LEADERS.  They are not supposed to be our leaders, they are supposed to represent   us in Washington within the constraints of the law -- the Constitution.  They are supposed to operate within the constraints of the law to best represent the interests of the people.  When they start imposing laws that the people are opposed to, then they have overstepped their position.  When they exempt themselves and other special interest groups from certain laws, then they have overstepped their position.  And when they refuse to work together to further the interests of the people due to their own pride, their own agendas, or their own personality flaws, then they have abandoned their duty to the people that they represent.

    Which brings us to the mess that we currently have in Washington.

    Now, I am not sure if you are aware or not, but I am not a democrat or a republican.  I am a constitutional conservative.  That means, basically, that I am for less government and that the government that I DO support adheres strictly to the constitution.  (FYI, the united states constitution is the oldest and shortest constitution in the world, and every bit as relevant today as when it was written.)  There are some constitutional conservatives in the republican party, but not many -- most people wrongly lump us all together.  I personally take offense at being called a republican or a democrat because I am neither.  My values and what is important to me as an American do not line up with either party.  In fact, I would love to abolish the 2 party system.  I do not believe that any candidate ought to be allowed to say what party they are from -- they ought to have to convince the American public to vote for them on their own merit and not because they are "red" or "blue".  

    I also believe in personal responsibility.  I do not oppose helping those in need.   In fact, I relish the opportunity to help people in need within my own community and I admire those who do the same.  On a national level, I have no problem with welfare and other programs as long as they are used to give people a way out and do not keep them trapped in a never ending cycle of entitlement.  our welfare programs no longer give people a way out.  On the contrary, they are trapping people by convincing them that this is the best that they can do and that the only way that they will get more is if they elect people who will give them more.  I know people who have had to take government assistance during hard times in their lives.  They used it to do what it was meant to do -- to get out of their situation.  That is what it should be -- a way out not a way of life.

    Contrary to popular belief, conservatives would like to make it possible for all Americans to be insured.  However, we do not think that some 2,200 page pork-filled bill that doesn't apply to the entire country is the answer.  I personally read one version of the Affordable Health Care Act -- granted, the version I read was only about 1,800 pages, but the gist I got is that very little of it actually dealt with health care or providing it to anyone.  "Obamacare" as it was dubbed by the media, purports to be modeled after "Romneycare" and that may have been true in the beginning, but it has been added to, detracted from, twisted and turned into something that doesn't resemble much of anything.  And the democratic party loves it.  It makes then feel really good about themselves.  And the republican party hates it.  Not unjustifiably either, but I personally believe that the majority of the GOP hates it because the democrats love it.  See, I can say that because they haven't read it.  I can't really blame them, I mean it's 2,200 pages long and they kept changing it.  So the republicans came up with several of their own versions of a health care act, but they don't ALL agree on them either.  So the democrats, who controlled Congress at the time, passed the ACA without one single republican vote.  Let that sink in for a second. Not. One. Bipartisan. Vote. They bullied it through because they had the majority and because they could -- not because it was what was best for the American people. They could not have known even IF it was a good thing because they didn't read it either.

    The big stink right now is Obamacare.  And while I agree it is a terrible idea as a whole (2,200 pages? Seriously?), there are parts of it that are great -- no caps on coverage, no denial for pre-existing conditions, special needs kids cannot be removed from their parents policies, etc.  (Incidentally, I penned my own reform on health care.  It's about 225 words. Maybe I should publish it here and then send the link to the House and Senate.)  The republicans want to throw the baby out with the bath water while the democrats are treating the bath water like its the good part.

    So now, there is so much disdain between the 2 parties and between the House and the Senate that they won't even sit down together to talk about the Continuing Resolution.  (Because the reference to this vote as "the budget" is crap -- this administration has not passed a budget since they took office.)  The CR is meant to continue to fund the government beyond the spending limits until they can meet and argue over raising the debt ceiling so that they can spend more money (money that they don't really have, by the way since we are already $16 TRILLION in debt).  The House, which is controlled by the republicans, saw the CR as an opportunity to give the people an exemption from the health care mandate.  It doesn't do away with Obamacare.  What it does is gives the individual the same exemptions that the administrations have already granted to companies and corporations all over the country -- a one year delay.  In light of the complete failure of the Obamacare roll out on October 1st, I don't see the problem with delaying the mandate for a year.  They also want to do away with the excise tax on medical equipment because it will cause jobs to be shipped overseas, slow medical innovations, and cost Americans jobs. (Backup to these claims can be found in this 2012 article from the industry itself HERE).  Again, I don't have a problem with this either.  Then, they wanted to eliminate the exemptions for the Congress and the rest of the administration.  If this is so great, I do not see the problem.  But the Senate is so pissed that they have questioned anything that they won't budge.  To date, the republican house has sent four CR drafts to the Senate that fully funded the government through the end of the year except for funding Obamacare.  All 4 were rejected with little or no consideration.  So the government shut down.  800,000 people will not go to work, will not get paid, cannot support themselves or their families.  THAT I have a problem with.

    Who do I blame?    ALL of them.  Obama too, because a leader would get in there and force them to talk to each other.  

    So what is the answer?  I don't know.  What I do know, is that they need to get their acts together and do their jobs and quit posturing and pouting and trying to get their way.  Because THEIR way doesn't matter -- they work for us.

    So here is what I wish our representatives would do -- both democrats and republicans -- go home.  Go back to your states and talk to your constituency and find out what THEY want.  Then tuck your pride and your ego away and go back to Washington and talk to each other.   I WANT THEM TO DO THEIR JOBS.

    And people wonder why I am so in favor of LESS government.  

    Two years ago, I wrote THIS about some of the things that I would do if I was in charge.  Most of it is still an issue in government today.  I think that the government is completely out of touch with the people that they represent.  

    Tuesday, October 1, 2013

    I Am the Meanest Mom in the Whole World

    I have a cold.  I am positive that it is due to the amount of stress that my oldest has caused me over the past 2 weeks.  Are all eleven year old boys habitually forgetful and infuriatingly unconcerned about schoolwork, or is it just my kid?

    Two weeks ago, I received an email from the school reminding me that I should sign up for the parent portal on iNOW -- a handy little tool where the teachers enter grades and you can see how your kid is doing without waiting for report cards or progress reports.  Now, since I was procrastinating on doing housework and freelance stuff (shocking, I know), I decided to go ahead and set up my account. We were 4 weeks into school and I thought, "Hey, I am sure that there is nothing to worry about but for future references, lets do this."  So I did.  Kid one and kid two, the 2 youngest are in kindergarten and first grade and had no grades recorded. That makes sense because they do not start receiving letter grades until 2nd or 3rd grade.  Kid 3, the gifted one, had all A's.  In fact, her lowest average was a 96.  Again, no real surprises there.

    Then I logged onto the oldest's account.  HOLY CRAP.  Four C's and an F.  How does he have 4 C's and an F??!  It's the 4th week of school!

    As I perused the different classes and the entered grades, I noticed a trend.  Lots of 0/100 and 0/50 grades. All of them had the same notation beside them -- "NTN".  I immediately began emailing his teachers.  I quickly learned that NTN means "Not Turned In" (which should be NTI, but no one asked me).  I discovered through many, many emails that he has not been turning in his assignments and that he has not kept up things like his journal for English, his science folder, his math notebook, etc.  All of his teachers said that he was a great kid, but had no follow through.  I assured them that THAT was about to change.

    When he came home from school, we had, what you might call "A Come to Jesus Meeting."  I told him that the only thing saving him from military school was the lack of funds.

    I showed him all of the zeros on the computer.  His response was that those were "just participation grades." WHAT??  I pointed out that if you get a 100 for turning something in, and you get a 0 if you don't, then YOU TURN IT IN.

    It was like I was speaking a foreign language.

    He was placed on restriction.  From everything.  And he had to apologize to all of his teachers,  ask what he could do about the missing assignments, and promise to make more of an effort.  You would have thought I had said that he had to wear a diaper to school. I was the meanest mom ever.

    We began going over every single part of his homework in every subject, every night.  He has a few things working against him, but he is smart.  He is at a disadvantage particularly in math thanks to his stellar Texas education.  If you remember, I went rounds with his 3rd grade teacher over him learning the times tables.  She advised me that "rote memorization was not an effective method for learning" and basically ordered me not to have him memorize them.  Well, I ignored her and tried to teach them at home anyway, but I had 3 other kids and he was making A's so I honestly dropped it after a while.  Now, he is struggling in math because he doesn't know them.  His teacher here agrees with me.  Her exact quote was "Rote memorization of the multiplication facts through at least the 12's is essential and in fact crucial to moving forward."  And he should have learned them 3 years ago.

    Another thing that they never taught him was how to write.  I do not mean the alphabet -- I am referring to the ability to form thoughts, express ideas, and write in complete sentences.  In Texas, all he had to know how to do was fill in the correct bubble next to A, B, or C, and write "T" or "F".  They taught exactly what he needed to know how to do for the standardized tests and no more.  (FYI, if that doesn't make you throw out all of those state rankings on education, then maybe you need to go back to school yourself.)  Well now he is required to take short answer and essay tests.  He is having a very hard time with these.  I have pulled my hair out trying to help him to understand, and I am not sure if I am making any progress or not.  For example:  His science teacher allows them to correct any test that they score less than an 80 on to raise their grade up to an 80.  The test covered 3 specific hurricanes (Galveston in 1900, Camille in 1969, and Andrew in 1992).  The essay question was about early warning systems for storms and asked the students to write a response that used examples from each of the 3 storms to explain why early warning systems were important.  They were to have a strong topic sentence, 3 examples, and a strong conclusion.  He wrote a bunch of crap about NOAA, Hurricane planes, and radar systems without mentioning ANY of the storms or the IMPORTANCE of early warning systems.  I told him that it was all wrong and that he would have to redo it and he lost it.  He told me that what he wrote came straight out of the book and that it was correct.  I tried to explain that while it may have been FACTUAL, it did not address the question.  2 + 2 will always be 4, but if the question was what is 6 X 8, then 4 will never be the right answer.  We are working on it still, but I may need therapy before we are done.

    His dad and I have been working hard with him over the last 2 weeks and he has improved -- 3 B's and 2 C'c at this point.  However, we are still struggling with getting him to turn all of his work in.  We can make him do it, we can check it for errors, but we cannot turn it in for him.  And I have told him that I will go to bat for him if he does the work and gets an answer right that the teacher marks wrong, or if he is somehow cheated on a grade, but that where he is now is entirely his fault and he is on lockdown until the grades come up.  I will check his grades DAILY and I had better continue to see improvement or he will find himself in more serious trouble.