Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The ADHD Epidemic -- Sedate the Parents, Not the Kids

Like good breeding yuppies (many years ago), my wife and I looked at a number of expert guides on child rearing.  We saw that the advice of "experts" spanned 180 degrees, from "breast feed the child and let him sleep with you until he decides he's had enough" to "bottle feed and put him in his own room, letting him cry things out".  We also saw that our yuppie friends tended to buy and follow the advice of the expert whose advice synced with their own intuition and needs.  So, while the yuppies purchased a book, what they really were buying was peace of mind.  

Before we lay the ADHD issue wholly at the door of big pharma, big food, big government or big education/experts, then, let's take a look at the parents.  Having your child diagnosed with something takes away the blame and the guilt (though not the worry).  Many parents who are used to performing at a 95%+ success rate at work cannot accept a child who does not perform at that same rate.  I will invite condemnation by observing that, in particular, many high-performing women who have put their careers on hold or a side track to raise kids feel guilty when they don't score 95%+ as a parent based on their children's behavior and accomplishments.  

Kids are kids.  They develop with different personalities and at different rates.  Most five-year-old boys simply cannot sit through a school day.  (Diagnosis -- boy.)  There is a range in which the child adjusts to the grown-up world and the grown-up world adjusts to the child.  The French are at one end; most Americans tend toward the other.  French children are generally well behaved, but French adults are not.  If we start raising our kids the French way, when they grow up they will no doubt trash cafes to protest globalization.  Children need and want structure to feel secure.  There is a reasonable, though not always happy or tranquil, medium.  I submit that in almost all cases, grandparents are better sources of advice than experts, and parents are more in need of sedation than kids.  Chill out.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Institutional Roadkill

In a world changing as fast as ours, what will happen to institutions in the coming years?

My wife and I are thinking about home schooling our children.  Mulling over the decision is like pulling on the proverbial loose thread of a jacket: the whole sleeve threatens to come off.

Private education has become ungodly expensive.  The Internet brings quality instruction and instructional materials to our home for free or close to it.  Need one-on-one teaching?  We've already used Skype and Facetime for speech therapy and yoga instruction.

But what about the "socialization" aspect of school?  Well, why let school administrators pick your kids' friends?  Once you break free from the school commute and school-day schedule, a huge amount of time opens up for social activities and friends of YOUR choice, not the Admissions Department's.

Institutions like constancy.  Run by human beings rather than angels, institutions also tend towards rigidity, back-office bloat, and self-interest.  At the same time, technology gives individuals increasing flexibility, efficiency and freedom to choose.

So, we started by thinking about home schooling, but the bigger question has become whether our world is evolving faster than institutions can adapt.  I can't predict the future, but I can envision the stodgy institutions of our present quickly becoming part of our past.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Illegal Immigration -- Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Why does immigration policy matter so much to conservatives?

Immigration comprises three issues at the heart of republican (small "r") government: (i) defending the country; (ii) enforcing the law; and (iii) respecting the rights and duties of citizens.  

A fence, whether electrified, moated or alligatored, will not work unless defended.  So, many politicians who talk tough about a fence make no sense unless they also deal with what else must be done to secure the border.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Textbook Example of Being "Seriously Funny"

A CNN column by LZ Granderson today intones that "Everyone from Cornel West to Harry Belafonte to Jesse Jackson... has taken time to condemn [Herman] Cain."

Wow! That's the political spectrum ranging all the way from 1960's-era black progressive to 1960's-era black progressive.

Is Granderson trying to be funny, or does it just come naturally?

Friday, September 2, 2011

The 10th Commandment and the 10th Amendment

The 10th Commandment stands out from the other Commandments because it requires us to govern not our deeds but our thoughts.  Had the prohibition against coveting come sixth, the commandments dealing with interactions with others would only appear to describe the forbidden outcomes of coveting: murder, adultery, theft, and lying.  By coming last, the 10th Commandment expands the prohibition; placement at the end also underscores that harm from coveting manifests itself in innumerable ways.

The Founding Fathers saw America as a modern Israel.  Early suggestions for the Seal of the United States included the Israelites crossing into Canaan.  The Liberty Bell contains a quote from Leviticus proclaiming the jubilee.

It is no coincidence, therefore that the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution contains 10 amendments, nor that the 10th Amendment, stating that "[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people" comes at the end.  The 10th Amendment serves to expand and make general the limitations on the power of the federal government.  The parallel also extends to recognition of the covetousness inherent in people and in institutions.

The current Presidential campaign and upcoming Supreme Court review of Obamacare will bring the policy and practice of the 10th Amendment to the foreground.  We should bear in mind not only the Amendment's textual relation to the 10th Commandment, but the degree to which covetousness, when manifested in policy, does general and innumerable harm.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Obama Address to Serve as Half-Time Show for NFL Season Opener

Associate Press --

Bumped by Speaker Boehner from September 7 to September 8, and reluctant to drive his approval ratings down further by delaying the NFL Season Opener that evening, President Obama has agreed for his address to Congress to serve as the game's half-time show.

The White House briefly considered the President addressing the nation prior to kick-off, but this was considered to interfere with most families' dinner schedules.  "The First Lady was adamant," explained Presidential Press Secretary James Carney.  "The President has been so laser focused on jobs that Sasha and Malika haven't had any quality father time."

According to Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, "An Address to a Joint Session of Congress will allow Obama to appear at his most Presidential.  The Half-Time slot will show the silver-tongued Chief Executive off to brilliant advantage against both The Black-Eyed Peas and Howard Cosell."

Former President Bill Clinton will reportedly join the Secret Service in inspecting the cheerleaders of both teams for potential costume failures.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Outline for Obama's upcoming address on jobs has been stolen

An undercover Breitbart operative posing as a housekeeper at the $50,000/week estate in Martha's Vinyard where the Obama's vacationed has stolen an outline of Obama's upcoming address on jobs.

That outline is reproduced below:

0. Check that teleprompter is on
1. Note severity of crisis and historic challenge
2. Shout out to the person on Michelle's left who still has a federally funded green job
3. Praise self for everything bad that didn't happen
4. Shout out to Navy Seal's widow on Michelle's right; praise self for Bin Laden's demise
5. Blame Bush for everything bad that did happen
6. Blame earthquakes, etc, while praising government response to Irene as way of blaming Bush for Katrina
7. Call for government to "invest" more money on "targeted" programs to restart economy
8. Call for balance, civility and common effort in the national interest while castigating GOP as ideologically extreme, heartless, politically driven Tea Party scum
9. Blame GOP for everything bad that will happen if money not invested
10. Say Congress cannot afford to "do nothing" to establish liberal talking points of Do Nothing Republicans and Truman/Dewey analogy, which we will hear from now until November 2012
11. Close with soaring Obama rhetoric that acts like a Progressive date-rape drug -- Liberals swoon when drug is administered but shortly after coming to, can't recall anything that was said or done

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Black American: Object or Subject?

The dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial on the National Mall encourages us to reflect on our past as a people and to consider our future.

There is a Great American Myth that treats Blacks as objects rather than subjects.  In numerous movies, for example, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Mississippi Burning and Hairspray, Black Americans suffer with dignity until a moral Awakening transforms the hearts of White Americans.  The unspoken moral is that racial peace, freedom and equality come about when Whites decide to become liberals.

This gloss is wrong, repugnant and harmful.  It is wrong because throughout their history in America, Blacks struggled and fought for their own freedom, rights and welfare.  During the Civil War, hundreds of thousands of slaves emancipated themselves by escaping to Union lines.  Nearly 200,000 Black Americans served in uniform, while tens of thousands of others served in pioneer construction battalions or in the war economy.  Blacks fought and died for their rights during Reconstruction and persevered to maintain their families and communities during Jim Crow, with millions migrating North for work and freer lives.  As the Civil Rights era opened, Black Americans had organized themselves around churches, Black educational institutions and community organizations to militate for their rights. 

In light of this history, the Great American Myth as expressed in the film Mississippi Burning is particularly repugnant since it uses the backdrop of real events to tell a White buddy action story.  The FBI is portrayed as the white knight come to rescue the helpless Blacks.  In reality, Hoover's FBI was convinced the Civil Rights movement was Communist motivated and sought to weaken, not support, the movement.  What's particularly vile about Mississippi Burning is that, although Blacks have been murdered, raped and beaten throughout the story, the act which drives the by-the-book FBI agent to finally get tough is the beating of a White woman.

So why is all of this harmful?  In re-writing American history as a White Awakening, the Great American Myth treats Blacks as inferior and incapable.  As recipients of White sympathy and largess, Blacks remain the other, the passive objects of White benevolence, victims incapable of deciding and achieving for themselves.  Blacks serve as salves for White consciences and lab rats for Progressive social experimenters.

Rosa Parks, whose refusal to yield her bus seat to a White person triggered the Montgomery bus boycott, has been depicted as a "humble seamstress."  Like Mac in Yertle the Turtle, she cracked when she could take no more.  In reality, Ms Parks was a hard-nosed activist, part of a network of activists, who understood their rights and asserted them through a calculated act of law breaking.

Rosa Parks, like millions of other Black Americans who have struggled and fought in the political, economic and social arenas, was the subject of her own life.  To pretend otherwise so Whites can feel good about themselves, or so that politicians and activists of various races can make a living tending a grievance industry, is to perpetuate the racism and discrimination we should have rejected as a people long ago.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bush/Cheney and Iraq; Obama/Hillary and Libya

Former Vice President Dick Cheney's book is coming out.  We'll see what he has to say about the George W. Bush Administration's biggest blunder: the conquest of Iraq.

Our war on Iraq was a proxy attack on Saudi Arabian Wahhabiism, which has been the inspiration and funding source for Sunni global jihad, including Al Qaeda.  Since we could not invade Saudi Arabia directly, the goal was to topple an oil-rich dictatorship with a relatively educated populace and to establish a pluralistic government with a market economy that would drive down the price of oil and provide a counter-example to other Moslem dictatorships, especially Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria.

The war was a huge strategic gamble, akin to the U.S. invasion of Guadalcanal, which we launched before we were ready, but which took the Japanese so much by surprise that they did not view the invasion as a serious challenge until it was too late.

Where Bush, Cheney, et al, failed was in confusing overrunning Iraq with conquering it.  Army Chief of Staff Shinseki correctly estimated before the war that 300,000 occupation troops would be required.  For his outspoken prescience, he was forced to retire.

I suspect the decision to invade Iraq was made not long after September 11, 2001.  While Bush had the mandate, he should have called for 3,000,000 volunteers to go through basic training and to enter the Reserves.  This would have established an adequate pool of occupation troops to prevent Iraq from unraveling as it did.  The Administration also demonstrated cultural and historical ignorance in post-overrun relations with Iraqi society.  One example was the disbanding of the Iraqi army, which took its weapons, went home, and started an insurgency.

Bush and Cheney bear responsibility for their mistakes.  Now Obama and Hillary -- without Congressional authorzation -- have attacked Libya, a sovereign country that did not threaten us.  The country has been overrun by anti-government forces backed by U.S. airpower and likely elite ground units.  Is the U.S. any better prepared -- materially or morally -- for post-overrun conquest than the U.S. was in Iraq?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Marco Rubio Gets It Half Right

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio recently spoke at the Reagan Presidential Library.  He identified two broad goals for national policy: prosperity and compassion.

Rubio is a principled and thoughtful leader.  He combines strength and kindness.  He will play a great role on the national stage. 

But in the case of his speech, he is only half right. 

Prosperity is an appropriate policy goal because it is an outcome.  We can define the elements of prosperity and measure the efficacy and efficiency of efforts to achieve that outcome.

Compassion, on the other hand, cannot be a policy goal because it is a sentiment, not an outcome.  Motivated by this sentiment, I can act in ways that have wasteful or harmful results.  I can expend a dollar's worth of society's resources to do a penny's worth of good.  I can impose a restriction out of concern for one person that results in poverty, injury or death to others.  Out of compassion, I can even intentionally euthanize a fellow human being. 

Some would argue that "equality" is the policy goal that counterbalances prosperity.  But, history, including recent history, shows that the more we sacrifice prosperity for equality, the less we get of both.  History also shows that the more we promote freedom, the more we get of both prosperity and equality.

Let our overarching goal be freedom.