Saturday, November 26, 2005

Laura Hinojosa's Open House

Join the Laura Hinojosa for District Clerk of Hidalgo County Campaign Open House on Saturday December 3rd from 10 am - 5 pm. The campaign headquarters is located at 120 N. 17th St in McAllen, on the Nortwest corner of Bus. 83 and 17th St. There will be food and refreshments available.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Behaviour in Politics

I've been pondering the political scene lately and am seeing discrepancies. Call it ying yang, dichotomy, or just plain contradiction. What I mean is, there are opposites in play. This goes beyond just the Republican v Democrat fight. At the moment, they are like an old couple that likes to argue for the sake of arguing rather than trying to solve anything. But this is not what I mean. Let me point out some things and perhaps you can help me explain it better.

Hillary Clinton. We know she will run for President in the next election. As a senator, she could stay liberal and remain in office in New York indefinitely. Yet, you see her moving her position to the center. Today, she is advising against an Iraqi pullout. Of course, she has been known to criticize the current administration of lying to the public and the regular slew of anti-Bush talking points. Here is the opposing point. Her husband, the notorious Bill Clinton, recently told students in the Middle East that going to Iraq was a mistake. Dick Morris, Clinton's former political advisor, the one responsible for Bill's re-election, has pointed out that this is a team effort between Bill and Hillary to win back the white house. She can say that she is a moderate while Bill is out there appealing to the liberal base. She is presenting her game face while Bill is out expressing her true beliefs. This way, she can stand on two sides of the issues. She can be moderate and Bill can shore up the base. They are playing both sides of the fence.

Democrats jumped at the opportunity to back a Republican, Jack Murtha, who called for an immediate troop pullout. This is what they want, the Democrats, but they don't have the guts to make it an agenda item. They can't officially make it their position unless a Republican says it. Of course, this is great for Hillary because the Dems can swing left to give her the opportunity to appear to be in the center. As the election comes closer, I think this will become more prominent. The Dems will become super leftists to make Hillary appear like the best choice.
The recent "political stunt" the Republicans pulled to force a vote on whether or not to have an immediate withdrawal was genius. This forced the Dems to take a stand on the record. I once experienced a similar position. A friend and I were lost in the Da Vinci airport in Rome. I was complaining that we were jumping from country to country without a plan. So, my friend tells me, "OK, then you take over. Tell me what we should do." Of course, I had no plan. I was just as lost. So, I stopped complaining. We eventually found a place to stay. In essence, that is what happened to the Democrats and will continue to happen. I was being a whiny little bitch, and and they are being it now. They have no plan. Some have said that they don't need a plan as they are not in power. Of course, this is bull. If they have no plan, then they can't get back in power. Who is going to vote for somebody who doesn't know what to do? At least now they can go around saying that they support the troops AND.... voted to keep them deployed.


Another instance is that Republicans have the power of Government. They have been put there by the socially and fiscally conservative "religious right". Obviously, the thinking is that a Republican in office is better than a spend happy Democrat. Well, no. The Republicans are behaving like Democrats. They are spending money as fast as it comes into the treasury. They also support conservative issues, but run away from any criticism for supporting what their constituents want. Opposite of the Democrats who can't say what they truly represent in order to get elected, the Republicans can't do or support what they truly represent and aren't afraid to say. Dems can't say what they'll do; Republicans can't do what they say. I think both stem from lack of conviction from our elected officials. I don't know which is worse.

There are plenty of contradictions out there. I'm sure you know of some. These are just two that come to mind at the moment.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Unusually cold

Can you believe we were in the upper 40s last night? It rarely gets that cold in the Rio Grande Valley. That's getting close to freezing. Once in a while, we'll have freezing temperatures. Those last a day or two, and only at night. Last year was a freak event, we had snow! That was a real Christmas treat. Global warming my....

Anyway, the RGV really has only two seasons, summer and not summer. Or, similar to white, there is summer and off-summer. Things are warming up today. We'll probably have a warm Thanksgiving day.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Clarification of gay marriage position.

I have got more comments about the Prop 2 post than any other. I don't think I made myself clear. I will address a couple items and then clarify my position. Just to make it known, I don't see how gay marriage is anything other than a property rights issue. I will give reasons why. So, put your politically correct bigotry aside and read ahead with a true open mind. And, so you don't get lost, my main point is, work with what you've got.

First, why are politically correct people so intolerant of bible thumpers? Just because they are different from you? Why don't bigots get the same protection and respect as politically correct people? How is it that it's OK to hate some closed-minded people and not others? Radical muslims (Koran-thumping) who are bent on killing you and your family somehow cause PC people to bend over backwards to show that Islam is accepted and celebrated. There are many other religions out there that don't raise a stink about Christianity. They just go about their business. If it weren't against Christian values, you'd see people lined up to strap on bombs to destroy people and things with which they disagree. Of course, it's not the Christian thing to do, especially for the bible thumpers. The reason why there is such hatred towards Christianity is because it is winning in the arena of ideas and values. Most of the hatred comes from the inside, people who disagree with a few minor points like gay marriage.

I don't know about other denominations, I'm Catholic. The Catholic church is not a democracy. You believe the doctrine and are Catholic, or you don't and are not Catholic. There is no voting or propositions made about what the church believes. When the church does change something, it is after it is clearly evident that its position was in error. Many many years later. The world has to change before the church does. I looked up the church's doctrine on this issue. It is, love gay people with the same respect and dignity as anybody else. They can't help being gay. They are still expected to avoid sin. So, being gay, according to the Catholic church, is NOT a sin. Some gay behaviors, however, are sins. This is what the church opposes. Your bigoted mind is probably thinking: WELL THE CHURCH IS WRONG! Again, who are you to decide what a group of people ought to think? Especially a group of people who outnumber you and outvote you? Shouldn't you be thinking about winning their hearts and minds rather than force them to oppose you? If you oppose a majority, you'll get stomped. That's what's happening to the gay community. They are trying force people to accept too much too soon. It's been less than a century since being openly gay is generally accepted. In time, it may not be a big deal.

It used to be that teen pregnancy or having kids out of wedlock was a cause for shame. The reason behind the cause for shame hasn't changed. However, the social stigma is not as bad. The reason for teen pregancy or having illegitimate children was and is bad is because it is tough for a single woman to bring up a child on her own. It is a hardship that the mother and her family must bear. Traditionally, it's something that the mother and father endure together. Women were not able, until last century, earn as much as men. It was just stupid for a girl to have doomed herself to a life of poverty and dependence on others by getting pregnant. In the present day, women have better opportunities to succeed despite being a single mom. Therefore, the stigma is not as bad as it used to be. Sure, life is not easy. But things aren't as bad as they used to be. A woman's chances of survival being unwed with children are much better now. Our ideas and hearts changed. There are so many unmarried women that it's not a big deal. Of course, women who sleep around and have kids with different fathers don't garner any respect. A single mom can still redeem herself by raising a good child and contributing to society in a positive way.

Similarly, being gay still has some social stigma. It's not the right time to be trying to force things. This will only harden minds and hearts against you. Gay people should go to work, get a hobby, live a decent and stable life as an openly gay person. In time, they will become accepted by the community. When nobody cares about sexuality, that's the time to ask for changes. Nobody will care because you have been an outstanding citizen. Just like with the slut in the previous paragraph, if you are gay and sleep around with different people all the time, don't expect the community to respect you. For every decent gay or lesbian couple that exists and is accepted, there are a bunch of jerks who undermine the positive influence with their in-your-face militancy.

Seeking black rights was not the same as seeking gay rights today. This is a bad comparison. Gay people are not denied voting rights, education, justice, or the right to work amongst other things. Gay people have not been treated as less than human. Last I checked, gay people have always had all of these fundamental rights. I'll be the first to tell you that racial discrimination was wrong. I'll also point out that discriminating against gay people is unjust. But this is an apples and oranges issue. A majority of Americans wanted to guarantee equality for all African Amerians on the basis that they are human beings who deserve the same respect and dignity. A majority was necessary to be able to force the stalwarts to go along. And we did.

A majority of Americans do NOT want gay marriage. The only way to change this is for gay couples to show the country that there is injustice. Simply stating that so and so can do something and we can't is not an argument. Native Americans can legally grow and use peyote and I can't. Congress can vote themselves a pay raise, and I can't. Rich people can invest in private offerings and I can't. Many things are unfair. I accept them and do my best with what I have. If I can't have peyote, I'll have to continue drinking beer. If I can't vote myself a payraise, I'll have to work more. If I can't invest in private offerings, I'll have to look for other investments. If I were gay and couldn't marry, I would just live with somebody. If I wanted a ceremonial type thing, I'd invite my friends and family to attend a public announcement of my lifelong love and commitment to my partner and a chicken dinner. If the state doesn't recognize it, so what? Everybody who would matter to me would have witnessed my promise. I would do it out of love. You don't need a license to love. Everybody who cares about me would then know that I am exclusively committed to my partner. Do the best with what you have. If all you have is contracts, power of attorney, wills, inheritance through children, business partnerships, and other legal remedies, use them. Eventually, a good lawyer will win a case to establish precedent to ensure the same rights and courtesies if not marriage itself.

You want the church to recognize it? Tough luck. Start your own church. You either accept what the church is, or you don't. You can't say that you accept what it is and expect it to be something else. Otherwise, everybody would define what is and isn't right or wrong for themselves. Then why bother having a church? You can't argue that God wants you to be happy. If you are gay, you'd have been born female; if you are lesbian, you'd have been born male. God had different plans for your anatomy. I think we are expected to be humble, accept what God gives us, and do the best with what we have. If you say that God is wrong, they why bother with church?

The easiest explanation for being against gay marriage is this. There are cats and there are dogs. If we pass a law that cats are now dogs, that doesn't make cats into dogs. We must treat cats like dogs, but cats won't act like dogs. They will act like cats. They will eat like cats. And they will still be cats even if we call them and treat them like dogs. The same is true for gay marriage. We can pass a law that gay couples can marry. There is already a definition for marriage. Gay couples would be treated like married couples, but they would not be the same as the previously defined marriage. There will be many similarities between a traditional marriage and a gay marriage, just as cats and dogs have similarities, but they won't be the same. So, it's pointless.

If gay marriage is about love, you don't need laws. The government does not give rights, God gives us rights. The Government only takes rights away, even when it intends to do the opposite. Make up your own marriage and certify it through some organization that you create. This way, you can rack up statistics and show the world that you aren't that much different. That could help the argument.

Finally, a point that just occurred to me as to a difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage. Homosexuality is not reproducible. A gay couple cannot give birth to or knowingly adopt a gay child. It's statistically improbable, but not impossible. Married couples are likely to have straight children with the small chance of having a gay one. A straight man or woman probably will be at a loss when trying to help a gay child deal with the difference. It's much easier to teach a boy traditional boy things and a girl traditional boy things because we have millenia of tradition from which to draw. The same holds true for gay couples helping a gay child cope. They are better suited. Fortunately for gay couples, they are far outnumbered and were raised in traditional households so that they can know normal and customary behavior for non-gay boys and girls. It would be ideal if gay couples had gay children for the sake of continuity of the culture. You know, actions like passing on family traditions and customs are what marriage provides. In this way, we could treat the gay community like a people or culture much like we treat people of a certain religion or country with their set identity and customs. The gay community is not the same, however, due to the erratic origins of all its members. All with different customs and cultures. They lack the continuity that traditional couples have. As it is, being different from the majority, there is a tendency to want to do away with most customs. You cannot eat your cake and have it too. Gay couples need to accept that they are different and have different challeges. Even if they could marry, they would still be a minority and would face bigotry. They would still not be able to have children with each other, they'd need the intervention of a third person or would need to adopt. There is nothing normal about the whole idea. The best that can be achieved is some acceptance.

I accept that if two guys or two girls fancy each other and want to live together forever, it's their decision. Do it. With the challenges of everyday life being gay, marriage is the least of their problems. They are better off paired up to help each other through the challenges than toughing it alone. I am sympathetic to their plight. I just don't accept that a gay marriage is the same as my marriage with my wife. Now, you can get upset and hate me, somebody who wouldn't mind inviting a gay couple to dinner if they were good friends. By hating, you alienate me and others who would treat gay couples with dignity and respect. You basically lump me and people like me with the zealous bigots. If you do that, how can I respect you? I am offering acceptance of who you are and your desire for love and companionship. I simply don't agree that it should be called marriage. Such a minor point of disagreement surely can't outweigh my compassion? But that's the way liberals work, you either agree or you're a bigot. Why help people who are ungrateful for what they already have?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

County Judge Seeking Second Term In Office

Here is an article from the Progress Times in Mission, Tx. This is about County Judge Ramon Garcia's announcement to run for office.

There will be an Hidalgo County Christmas Party on December 2nd by another County Judge. My wife works for Hidalgo County, so I have the opportunity to attend. Last year's party was a blast. The band, Latin Beat (668-9609) was very entertaining and energetic. We'll go again this year. Hopefully Latin Beat will be playing again.

Brownsville to Create a Hike and Bike Trail

I love walking and biking, so this is welcome news. The Rio Grande Valley needs more public areas like this to encourage our citizens to get out and do something. Our heavily Hispanic population is prone to diabetes. Anything that can be done to get people out and exercise is a benefit.

Personally, I can't wait to go try out the hike and bike trail when it is completed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dem Doublespeak

I was just watching some Democrat Doublespeak on video. Disappointing. Click here.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Proposition 2 Aftermath

I was just reading an article in The Monitor related to the recently passed amendment known as Proposition 2. My reaction is, shut the heck up. This is complex, so I will have to take it one section at a time. I am not anti-gay, I just think the gay community is being stupid about this.

First, let's establish this. I supported Proposition 2. This amendment basically cements the definition of marriage in the state of Texas as a union between a man and a woman. I have reasons for this. I am a bad Catholic, so I won't use that as a reason. I will use history as an argument. Long ago, a man chose a woman as his wife and if her parents agreed, she was his. That was it. That was marriage. Then, the whole thing was formalized to protect children. If a man married a woman and fathered children, his property was passed to them. If there was a mistress, she did not count, nor did her children. That is all that official marriage is. It protects the rights of official offspring to inherit the wealth of the deceased. If it weren't for marriage, if you were a widow, your father-in-law could take all your husband's property and you would be either cast out or subject to his whims. This is why you go to the courthouse to get a wedding license. Getting married isn't complex. The priest, minister, judge, or official does all the work. Why would you need a license? The reason is, you need to record whom you are marrying so that any legal disputes over inheritance can be resolved. If you die intestate and are married, all your property will go to your wife or husband and children. If there is a testament, things will be divied up according to the will.

Gays and lesbians have the wrong idea about marriage. The ceremony is not the marriage. That's just a publich show. The marriage happens when the papers are filed. Those of us who follow the tradition, even unknowingly, have reason to have supported proposition 2. Marriage is basically an official way to establish lineage and, by extension, inheritance. If you are gay or lesbian, tell me where this is necessary. Your child will be a bastard unless you married in the traditional sense. If you are gay, you need a woman to carry your child. If you are lesbian, you need a sperm donor. Either way, you are involving a third party. If you are truly interested in making an event of your union with your gay or lesbian parter, have a huge event and put an ad in the paper. It may not be legally recognized, but it will be socially recognized. Nothing in the law prevents you from wearing a wedding ring to show your bond.

Let's say that your child is a bastard child. You can still leave a will that gives all your possesions to your child or children (if you are gay). If you are lesbian, as the mother your stuff goes to your children unless your will divides your possessions otherwise.

What about recognition by other entities like insurance companies, hospitals, and such? There is a legal function known as power of attorney. This won't help you with insurance unless the insurance company recognizes "domestic parters". If the state doesn't recognize gay marriage, nothing prohibits private companies from doing so. Their recognition simply won't have legal status in court. However, if your insurance company is willing to accept your significant other as a spouse or dependent, why do you need the state to recognize your union? After all, companies now offer their employees pet insurance. Why wouldn't they try to accomodate gay or lesbian employees?

The same goes for hospitals. If you are listed as power of attorney and are responsible for paying the bills, why wouldn't the hospital allow you to visit or make decisions for your partner? You can pre-shop for hospitals, you know. If I were in the hospital or insurance business, I'd have a niche as the Gay Friendly company. I don't want you to be married like I am, but I don't see why your dollars are worth less than mine. If you want to include your lover in your health insurance, that's fine. If you want your sigificant other to make health decisions for you, I'd have a lawyer on hand to help set up power of attorney. My point is, there are opportunities for those companies willing to accomodate the gay lifestyle regardless of any laws. That ought to be your focus rather than forcing the rest of us to accept a redefinition of the law and tradition.

What I'm saying is that if you are gay or lesbian, you don't need to change traditional marriage. There are ways around the obstacles you face if you really try to find them. I have made some suggestions. Even if you are unsuccessful, will that diminish the love you have for your significant other? Will this prevent you from living a full and happy liffe? I recognize that you face challenges that straight people don't. I hate to give cliche advice, so I'm hating when I say, "take lemons and make lemonade".

If you are truly intellectually honest, by allowing gay marriage or similar arrangements, you are asking 98% of the population to accept the dictates of 2%. Come on, be realistic. When the population is sympathetic to your plight, we will agree. When you try to force it upon us, two letters suffice. F.U. My crudeness is for dramatic effect.

My advice to our homosexual population, don't worry. You're just as gay as you were before Prop 2. You probably still love your partner. You haven't lost anything. Nothing has changed for you that you did not already face. If you are upset, it really is about nothing. You are still free to live your life and love as you wish. The only difference is that you can't force the the rest of Texas to change the definition of marriage. I sincerely wish you good luck and recommend that you set up legal documents to give your partner as much say over your welfare that the rest of us enjoy with our spouses. Most of all, I recommend that you don't be haters. Hating works two ways.

Obstacles to Excellence

Being smarter, better, or different are not celebrated in society. Oftentimes, if you are unusual to your approach to things, you are ostracized. Often as a child, I had teachers tell me, "that's not the right answer, we haven't learned that yet". I also heard plenty of "don't get ahead of the rest of the class". I also heard "give the other kids a chance to answer questions".

My wife, received a BA in History. She never took an education course. Unfortunately, she needs to take a few courses to become a teacher. Fine, she'll jump through that hoop. As a HeadStart teacher for Hidalgo County, however, she is facing obstacles. She has a different approach to education that works for her and her students. Yet, the system starting from her aide to administration keep telling her that "we don't do things that way".

My daughter, a young nerd in her own right, faces the same challenges I did as a child. She has enough sense not to make the teacher look stupid in front of the class. She has accepted that she must work with the system handed to her.

Education suffers from this shortsightedness. I have been critical of the President for instituting the TAAKS and the No Child Left Behind initiative. Teachers and school administrations have taken these to be the gold standards for education. If students pass the TAAKS and meet the standards set by No Child Left Behind, they have done their job. I have realized the error of my thinking. Yes, I was wrong. Four words come to mind, and they are very rude.

I completely missed the point of the President's demand for standards. Now, I am more upset at public schools for their soft bigotry of low expectations. Before I start complaining, let me tell you how I realized my error.

I work in retail. I sell stuff. Often, when vendors want to make a point about he quality of their product, they will mention that they "meet or exceed government standards". Most recently I heard this on KURV for Noni Juice at Hector's Health Co. It clicked today that the TAAKS and No Child Left Behind are federal government MINIMUMS. That is to say, the student must master these things or better to pass to the next grade. Obviously, a child who has high aptitude and ability will breeze through the tests. What about the others who have average aptitude and ability? Teachers are spending so much time teaching these average students to meet the MINIMUM standard. Did I mention MINIMUM?

Here is how you should see it. If you know that you will work as a dancer and need to be able to do the splits when you get on stage. When you stretch, will you try to stretch more than your current ability or try to stretch beyond your current ability? There are some people with a good aptitude for stretchy things and will be able to do the splits on the first day or in a short time. There are others who have to work on the ability over a few weeks. Those who need to work on it can't simply stretch their muscles to the minimum if they expect to do the splits. They need to stretch as much as possible without injury. The same goes for our children's brains.

Yet, we don't see teachers or administration telling us that they want to "meet or exceed government standards". They are simply trying to meet the "MINIMUM" standards. Are you getting the picture? They are trying to convince us that if their students pass the TAAKS, they have done their job. Expletives withheld.

We need to demand more from teachers. For a while there, I felt sorry for teachers for all the crap they deal with from Administrators, parents, and government programs. Now I realize that they are not working to make a difference. They are working to preserve their jobs. If you are a teacher and that is you main motivation, you shouldn't be a teacher.

Before you give me any lip about this, my wife likes being a teacher. She likes pushing the 4 year olds beyond expectations. She wants them to give her everything they've got. She doesn't worry about her job because she knows that she can get a better job. I make sure to remind her of that. She knows that if she can't find a job, she can make a job. She knows human resources, payroll, history, childcare, reasearch, catering, sales, and so many other things that we have done together. If you are a teacher and are afraid to lose your job, get over it. Try to "stretch" beyond what you know and push the limits. If you believe that you will not have a job as good as teaching, you are in the wrong job. You are hindering our students. If you know you can do better and are not afraid of pushing the limits, you are definitely a teacher. My best teachers were the ones who expected more from me. My worst teachers were the ones who expected the least (spelled M-I-N-I-M-U-M). What kind of teacher are you?

To sum up, I'm sorry Mr. President for doubting your wisdom. I have seen the error of my ways and will now work to enlighten others.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Listen to Rio Grande Valley news as recorded live.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Valley Veterans Protest Walk to San Antonio

Valley Veterans are conducting a 6 day, 225 mile walk to San Antonio. The walk is a protest to show how far our local Veterans must travel to visit a VA hospital. State Representative Aaron Pena, Jr. has joined the walk on a spur of the moment. The Rep has posted news about his first day on the walk.

I must say that I identify with the plight of these Veterans. My father recently had to have heart bypass surgery. He had to visit the VA Hospital in San Antonio. Unfortunately, his scheduled surgery date was too far and he had to have the surgery done here at the McAllen Heart Hospital. Still, while disabled from his heart condition and the ensuing recovery, it was a hardship for him and for us to travel to San Antonio. I am sure that other Veterans and their families have similar difficulties.

I wish the Veterans luck and good luck to the state rep. Write your Congressman and Senators about this if you wish to help. Let them know that a closer VA hospital would make a world of difference.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Problem with Administration

I was just reading an article by Chris Ardis at The Monitor. Chris mentions how teaching is no longer an enjoyable job and how the stress of teaching makes people sick or want to quit. I know exactly what the problem is and I know that it can only get worse. Public education needs to be reformed. Let me give you an example about why teachers are in the position they are in using my own experience.

I helped open up a store, almost 3 years ago. I've been a central figure in establishing operations there. At first, none of us knew what to do. We opened for business, but none of us had worked in the type of business we operate. We had great lattitude and freedom in what we could do because there were no rules. Basically, it was help the customer find what he or she needs and check them out. With time, we noticed that some actions were time consuming and if continued would cost more than we would earn. So, we made a rule. Don't do that unless certain conditions exist. Then, we had problems remembering delivery fees and a problem with an employee giving free delivery in exchange for favors. So, we created a form and required attaching a receipt to show that a delivery fee was charged. Then there were issues with charging customers a certain way and providing refunds. We had issues with employee behavior. Add more and more rules.

I'm good at making rules. I'm not necessarily good at following them. The reason is that there are so many damned rules and so many things to execute for certain types of sales. I have made most of the rules or contributed to their creation. There is a reason why we made them. We want to be sure that certain things get done and have proof that they were done right. This is a microcosm of the publich school system.

Public school is in actuality much worse. You have teachers who are constrained by the department chair, by the school district, by the state, by the federal government, and by parents. Each one has procedures that they want the teacher to follow, which may even be contradicting. On top of that, the teacher is fed a bunch of socialist boloney in college about the "right way" to educate a student in a perfect world with an unlimited budget. If a teacher messes up, a whole bunch of people come down on him or her about it. I don't blame teachers for documenting things and spending so much time jumping through administration hoops just to keep their jobs.

There are just too many people with too many rules with their hand in the process of educating a child. At the store, if it were me alone with no employees and no owner, it would be simple. If I have it, I'll sell it if you want it. Give me the money and I'll give you the goods. Teaching is just as simple. If there is material, the teacher can teach it if the student wants to learn it. The student does the work and the teacher will evaluate. If you want proof of this, look at home schooled students. They often have higher test scores than public school students. One teacher with a lesson plan and one student is all that is involved.The parent's main concern is getting the child to master the material and move on to the next lesson. In home schooling there is no documentation, conferences, training, meetings, or other administrative overhead that public school teachers have to endure.

So, if we really want to reform public education, we should do the total opposite of what we are inclined to do. Instead of going in there and busting heads with new requirements and regulations that will require even more administration to keep track of all of that, we should step back and give some slack. In one way, this is the fault of teachers too. Teachers need to root out bad teachers by pointing fingers at them. If teachers had not abdicated this responsibility to students, they would not have all these requirements heaped upon them. It's the same idea when there is a substitute teacher in class and one or two kids misbehave. The whole class gets punished.

Teachers, you need to give up some stuff. Give up on the idea of job security. Schools need to get rid of bad teachers when it is apparent that a teacher is one. One bad teacher means that the next year's teacher has to teach remedial material on top of the current year's material. Yours is not an elite fraternity. You don't have to cover for each other. If you police yourselves and set your own high standards, you won't need as many administrators all over you. Most of the rules I made at the store were to keep employees in line and to standardize their actions. If I could trust that they would always do what was best for the business, I wouldn't have to rely on rules. Unfortunately, too many bad teachers have ruined the profession for everybody. So, I suggest looking at charter schools or private schools. Unlike public schools, they have to turn a profit. If you are dead weight, you are out. In addition, private schools and charter schools can't afford layers upon layers of administrators.

GW is a rising star

I was just reading a short piece by William Kristol from the Weekly Standard. He mentions how October 2005 had been a tough month for the President. Something that had come to mind last month when the President's popularity rating was at an all time low and we had Harriet Miers as the prospective SCOTUS Justice was that GW was at his most popular and strongest when he didn't give in to the Dems. In fact, whenever he goes against the grain is when I like him the most. When he wimps out and gives in to the Dems, I lose a little respect for him. I know he wants to be a uniter and not a divider, but they don't play that game. Working with the Dems is like working with the devil. Ted Kennedy, for instance, used the President to get his education bill passed. Once that happened, Kennedy has become one of the President's worst critics. The Dems in Congress have no interest in getting along with the President. Whatever it is that he and the spineless Republicans in Congress propose, they're against. So, it's better to just give them hell and put the Dems on the defensive.

Here is my thinking, the Dems owe so many allegiances to so many disparate groups that they have little room to maneuvre. This is similar to a liar who has to remember each lie he ever told in order to keep the lie going. The elite like to call this a "nuanced position". It's just verbal acrobatics to be able to please a bunch of special interest groups with little in common other than that the Dems are the messenger boys. Put the Dems under stress by attacking them, and they become shrill and unsubstantive. They can't fight back without offending one of their allegiances.

Credit Card Companies Raise Minimum Payments

Click here for audio story.

It is a good thing that credit card companies have decided to raise minimum payments. They have been trying to find ways to reduce minimum payments so that you can stay in debt to infinity. A new Citibank card, for instance, lets you skip a monthly payment so long as you charge at least one item per month. Can you believe that?

I've become a fan of the Dave Ramsey approach to debt. The approach is to not have any. Pay for what you need in cash. The only plastic you need is a debit card. Just pay off everything you owe. So, I am working on that as much as I can now. By raising the minimum payment, credit card companies are giving debtors a way out of the hole in which they are. Of course, it doesn't address the real problem, overspending. This doesn't mean spending more than you thought you would. Overspending means spending more money than you make. I am a financial sinner, but have seen the light. Credit cards will not be a part of my future. I will use the money save in finance charges to invest in my future.

If you are one of those affected by the raise in minimum payments, be glad. You should also not put any more stuff on credit. Stop it. Bad shopper.

Lawsuit Demands Refunds on Cell Phone Insurance

A report from NPR News this morning talks about a lawsuit agains cell phone insurance companies. I used to work at T-Mobile as a customer service representative and sold the insurance provided by Asurion. Here are some things you need to keep in mind when you buy cell phone insurance:
  1. Your $4 to $5 per month will total up to $60 a year.
  2. Most companies will give you a free phone as you get closer to the end of your contract.
  3. T-mobile, I can't say about the other companies, will repair your phone for about $70 or give you a new for $70 if yours is irrepairable. You will get the same model or one of equal value, which will be refurbished. If it is defective, you'll get another at no charge.

So, if you break your phone, or drop it in the water, or somehow damage it so that the warranty is voided, you'll spend $70 using T-mobile warranty. Using the warranty, you do need to send in the poor phone. With insurance, you'll spend the $60 per year in premiums, plus a deductible. You can use the insurance if you lost your phone or had it stolen. So here are your options.

If you had a cheap of free phone, forget the insurance. The warranty will cover most problems anyway. If anything happens to your cheap or free phone, you won't spend so much to replace it. In fact, you can probably get one off of ebay.

Insurance is worth the premiums if you have one of the expensive $300 to $500 handsets. This is because the handsets are worth many times what the premiums will cost. You get about 3 or 4 claims per year. So, if you have a blackberry, pocket pc phone, treo, or sidekick, go for the insurance. I used insurance and warranty, which you are allowed to do, as an employee at T-mobile for my treo. I never would have paid insurance for my cheap Nokia 3595. Now, I use Virgin prepaid, so I can get another phone for as little as $40.

So, the idea is simple. Cheap phone, no insurance. Expensive phone, get insurance. Even if you get a refurbished replacement phone from the insurance, you're better off than being left without a phone. If it's defective, it's covered by warranty.

Logical arguments

I was just reading more about how to argue. I did not realize it, but this guy is a coauthor of the Copi book, Informal Logic. This was the textbook I used for my Logic class years ago. I have to admit that I have not maintained my logic skills nor my ability to form a consistent argument. One thing that is most poignant for me is his suggestion that I must tailor my arguments to the audience in question. Writing this blog, I have a "general audience" in mind. What the hell does that mean? This blog currently has no core direction. I write about living in the Rio Grande Valley. I write about politics. I write about local news. I'm all over the place.

I need to rethink this setup. I want to report and opine about what happens in the Rio Grande Valley. I also want to pursuade my audience to join me on the right side. It is their destiny. How do I go about it? Aw, geez.

In agreement on Prop 2

I was just reading a post on Analphilosopher.com about Proposition 2. This guy is pretty smart, judging by the degrees he has. In an earlier post, I wrote that we should just go ahead and vote for the proposition to become an amendment to the Texas Constitution. If at a later time it is judged that society would be severely impaired by this amendment, we could always repeal the amendment. Keith Burgess-Jackson further argues that by leaving the issue to simple legislation, we would argue the issue over and over. By letting Texans decide on the issue, it will not be up for debate by politicians or struck down by courts.

As a nation, we ought to take up amending the U.S. Constitution to prevent politicians from meddling with issues that are obviously over their heads. Amending the constitution also keeps the Supreme Courts of Texas and the U.S. from legislating from the bench. They would both be bound by the Constitutional amendments. Just my two cents.

The Monitor's Lone Conservative

If you live in the Rio Grande Valley, you can forget about supporting a Republican for office. The Democrats run the show here. If you are conservative, your only hope is to run under the Democrat party. Even so, you need to mask your beliefs well. You have the local newspapers against you. Our reporters may not admit to it, but they vote Dem. About the only conservative voice you will read in The Monitor is Michelle Malkin, a syndicated columnist not from the RGV. Her column runs in the Opinion section. The other leftward slanting articles are not in the Opinion section; they make front page.
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