19 October 2016

Final Presidential Debate 2016

Regarding tonight's presidential debate: former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton is the worse presidential candidate I have seen in my lifetime, second only to Donald Trump. I make this comment NOT about each person's policies, but about each person as a candidate.

If VP Biden or Gov. O'Malley were the Democratic presidential nominee, either would be much farther ahead of Trump in the polls than is Clinton.

If Gov. Kasich were the Republican nominee, he would already have the election wrapped up over Clinton.

This is just my opinions about these individuals as candidates, not their respective policies.

10 October 2016

An Unwritten Political Rule in the United States Today

An unwritten political rule in the 21st Century American political scene: if you disagree with me, I have a right to classify you as the worse sort of person I can imagine. Plus, you have no right to disagree with me because your opinions have no worth, no insight, and therefore, are not worthy of thought and consideration.

28 September 2016

Political Moderates: Political Problem Solvers

What is a Moderate? A politically moderate person is someone who is a problem-solver because no plan or ideology survives first contact with reality.
- Rob Bittick

19 September 2016

Religiophobia: Acceptable Discrimination?

Just a thought: "Religiophobia" should be understood as both the fear of religious people and the fear of other people's religion. This seems to be an acceptable phobia in the United States. Many secular people seem to fear those of us who are religious, and define us by the worst examples of religious people. Likewise, many religious people fear others who peacefully practice a different religion whether they be Muslims, Evangelical Christians, etc.

This is a fear that should be discouraged. If a particular religions is violent by nature, then it is the violence that should be feared, not the practice of religion. John Locke explained this very well in his A Letter Concerning Toleration written in 1689.

09 September 2016

The only people who do not change their minds

"I have often thought that the only people who do not change their minds are sleeping peacefully in some cemetery or in an institution involuntarily -- and have lost the capacity of changing their minds. So I hope the time will never come when I can't adjust to new circumstances and new conditions, because it is an accelerated world."

- Everett Dirksen, Republican Senator from Illinois. Quoted in Dirksen of Illinois: Senatorial Statesman, by Edward L. Schapsmeier and Frederick H. Schapsmeier, University of Illinois Press, 1985, p. 28.

08 September 2016

Firing Bad Teachers or Creating Good Teachers

The Los Angeles Times ran an excellent Op-Ed article today by Karin Klein entitled, "Why firing bad teachers isn't nearly as important as creating good ones." I highly recommend reading this article.

I wish more of us understood how K-12 teaching is a most challenging profession. This is where the foundation is laid in students for their future careers and for our future society. It is also where learning and other behavioral disabilities in students are often first revealed. The critical professionals in this endeavor are not school administrators or politicians, but teachers. Yet, we overload such teachers with large classes, underpay them, do not provide them the resources they need to do the job, and then blame them when failures occur. And we wonder why there is a teacher shortage!

Some propose a business model to run schools. Yet, no successful business is run the way we run or propose to run schools. Furthermore, whatever the service or good provided by a business, the profit motive must be central. A business will die without eventually making a profit. In contrast, the student is the focus of education, not financial profit. So, while schools must be efficient and accountable with taxpayer's money, financial matters must serve the principle mission of schools: educating students. This means financial profit is not the goal.

In his classic book, The Administrative State (Transaction Publishers), political science and public administration scholar Dwight Waldo noted that the United States' culture is a business culture. This may explain why we hold education and educators in such low esteem. We respect business but belittle education. Solve that attitude and perspective problem, and we will then be able to find reasonable solutions to our education problems.

As a professor in higher education, I see the outcomes of the combined efforts of K-12 teachers in my students. I build on what these teachers and students have accomplished over the years. This is why I sincerely appreciate and value K-12 teachers.

01 August 2016

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime

It has been said, 

"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. 

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

If we really believe this, why don't we pay real teachers more and respect those who are real teachers better?

- Rob

25 July 2016

The Illegal Immigration Question

The illegal immigration question: if the US immigration system worked, would this person or family be here? If so, then they should be granted residency. Otherwise, we are keeping the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law.

19 July 2016

The Political Science that Predicted Trump's Rise.

An excellent video that explains Trump's political emergence is entitled, "Authoritarianism: The political science that predicted Trump's rise." Trump is no Hitler, but he resembles many authoritarian leaders throughout history in that he sees himself as the authority, but not under the authority of the law.

Although he promotes many extremist policies, his politics in some other ways are more moderate than those of Sen. Ted Cruz (e.g. his comments about Planned Parenting doing many good things other than abortion regarding women's health). However, his extremism is apparent in other policy areas, and can be especially seen in his way of using power.

In contrast, President Eisenhower was a man in authority and under authority.  He was the General and the Chief Executive in manner. He also saw himself under the authority of the U. S. Constitution and the American people. He was no authoritarian. This is in contrast to Trump who argues that the rules should bend to his own will. Listening to Trump speak now for several months, I conclude Trump clearly wants to be both in authority and the authority in spite of what the U. S. Constitution says.

For example, when Gov. John Kasich did not drop out the of the Republican race early this year, Trump argued that Kasich should not be allowed to run. Yes, he said "Kasich shouldn't be allowed to run. Honestly, Kasich should not be allowed to run..." ." In a free country, all qualified individuals are allowed to run for office, no one is forced to drop out until the final election results are certified. A man who understands he is under the authority of the law could say that Kasich should drop out of the race, but Trump said Kasich's liberties should be curtailed. His choice of words reveals his approach to politics: it must bend to his will.

Trump's nomination will at best set the Republican Party back by four to eight years or more, and at worse may destroy the party that once nominated such presidents as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight David Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan. What the Tea Party has not destroyed in the party of Lincoln, Trump is now finishing off.

18 July 2016

Gov. John Kasich - 2016 NAACP Convention in Cincinnati

Gov. John Kasich meets every other Monday with a group of men he calls his Bible guys. They have been meeting this way for the past twenty or more years to discuss the Bible and support each other. They all come from different denominations and political orientations, too. His book, Every Other Monday: Twenty Years of Life, Lunch, Faith, and Friendship, goes into this much more.

I should add that this does not mean you have to agree with his politics. Rather, I share this to explain why he strives to give a hopeful message to his listeners in his speeches.

It is worth listening to his speech to the NAACP 2016 Convention in Cincinnati (just over 14 minutes long).

16 June 2016

"America First" - A history of the term

Government Executive has posted an excellent article entitled, Trump's 'America First,' which provides a short history of the term, "America First." The article can be found here.

This is a good source for information about the Federal Government.

11 June 2016

Contrast Contemporary Presidential Debates with that of 1960

In President Nixon's opening comments in the first Nixon-Kennedy presidential debate of 1960, Nixon said:

"The final point that I would like to make is this: Senator Kennedy has suggested in his speeches that we lack compassion for the poor, for the old, and for others that are unfortunate. Let us understand throughout this campaign that his motives and mine are sincere. I know what it means to be poor. I know what it means to see people who are unemployed. I know Senator Kennedy feels as deeply about these problems as I do, but our disagreement is not about the goals for America but only about the means to reach those goals." (from Commission on Presidential Debates downloaded from: http://debates.org/index.php?page=september-26-1960-debate-transcript on June 11, 2016).

A few comments:

1. In this case, President Nixon, the Republican, really did understand what it meant to be poor, or at least lower middle class, whereas Senator Kennedy, the Democrat, was born to wealth.

2. Notice that Nixon says he shares the same goals as Kennedy, but disagrees with his policies.

3. Finally, notice that while Nixon disagrees with Kennedy's policies and comments, he does not question his character or motives.

It would be best for the United States today if we had such debates conducted with the same respect Nixon and Kennedy showed each other.

24 April 2016

Meditation & Water

“Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries—stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.”

Excerpt From: Melville, Herman. “Moby Dick, or, The Whale.” iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/Ux3Kx.l

18 April 2016

Why can't we reason together about tough issues?

One reason I think we find it hard to discuss tough issues reasonably is that we use language to create our world rather than to describe it. For example:

What is a fetus? An unwanted unborn baby.

What is an unborn baby? A fetus that is wanted.

So, to the person who is pro-choice, it is a fetus until it is wanted.

Likewise, to the person who is pro-life, it is an unborn baby until it is unwanted.

No wonder we cannot discuss this without arousing the flames of emotion.

12 April 2016

Draw people to the light...

In politics, it is better to draw people to the light than to beat them into submission. It is better to inspire people than to manipulate them. This is the reason I like Gov. Kasich. I see him trying to live up to both standards. Not a perfect man, but one who is trying to offer hope.