Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Common Core Math Emphasizes Process Over Correct Answers

Friday, April 19th, 2013

By Elois Zeanah

The adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover” was demonstrated again in a meeting of the Alabama Senate Education Policy Committee on Wednesday during a vote on whether to repeal Common Core.  Alabama Senator Bill Holzclaw is on a mission to scuttle his Republican peers’ bill to repeal Common Core, and he says he will fight them to the end.  I’m still trying to understand his agenda, although I’m suspicious since I know who the primary opposition is – the Business Council of Alabama (BCA).  But you have to give him credit for courage since this bill, SB403, is sponsored by fellow Republican Scott Beason and is backed by every Republican organization in the State. 

In a “show and tell” moment, Senator Holzclaw held up a fifth grade Common Core math textbook.  He stated there was nothing offensive about that book.  Granted, it was a pretty book – bright blue in color with a pretty abstract symbol that looked benign.  However, did Senator Holzclaw read the book?  Did he try any of the math problems?  Does he understand how Common Core math is different from traditional math?  Does he understand that neither parents nor legislators can take actions to make changes since the math standards are copyrighted by trade associations in Washington, D.C. and coordinated/directored by the federal government?

Common Core Math Emphasizes Process of Discovery over Correct Answers

If Senator Holzclaw had tried to work some of the math problems, he might have encountered the same feelings of confusion and turn-off by students or the frustrations of parents.  He might have even found himself unable to get the right answers. 

A child can get all the answers to math problems correctly but these will be marked wrong if the child can’t explain the “why and how” the correct answer is arrived at – such as drawing pictures, etc.  I wonder if Senator Holzclaw feels his valuable time as a parent or the added hours of mental anguish by students, which can turn model students into behavior problems (as some parents are reporting), are worth losing control of Alabama’s education standards, which parents and legislators can’t fix since these are copyright standards by trade associations and are decided by unaccountable and unelected bureaucrats outside of Alabama? 

In addition to the emotional and behavioral problems of children being reported by parents, some math experts assert that the new Common Core math standards will cause students’ performance to decline because of content and quality.

Common Core Math Dumbs Down Traditional Math Standards

“Ze’ev Wurman, an expert on mathematics standards and assessment and former U.S. Department of Education official, analyzed three separate studies of the Common Core math standards in the Summer 2012 issue of Education Next.[i]  He stated that the Common Core standards “may be higher than some state standards but they are certainly lower than the best of them.”[ii]

Common Core math standards do not prepare students to be “college-ready”

Mr. Wurman notes that the promise of college readiness rings hollow.  “Its college-readiness standards are below the admission requirements of most four-year state colleges.”[iii]

  • This echoes other education experts who state that Common Core prepares students for two-year, not four-year colleges.
  • Of great concern is Wurman’s prediction that “Common Core marks the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States.”[iv]

Common Core math standards are NOT research-based.  Mr. Wurman notes that they:

  • Defer fluency in division to grade 6
  • Tend to be wordy and hard to read
  • Defer Algebra to ninth grade from eighth grade
  • Teach geometry by an experimental method
  • Fail on clarity and rigor compared to better state standards and to those of high-achieving countries

Common Core math standards are NOT internationally bench-marked. 

Professor R. James Milgram of Stanford, the only professional mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the common Core standards. He states:

  • Common Core math standards are actually two or more years behind international expectations by eighth grade
  • Students continue to fall further behind as they progress to higher grades
  • Math standards don’t even fully cover the material in a solid geometry course, or in the second-year algebra course

A legislator can read the math standards, but refuse to read analyses of math experts.  He can look at pretty book covers, but not work the problems or listen to parents who have.  And he can be so loyal to special interest groups that he can refuse to heed the warnings that Common Core math standards are NOT research-based or internationally benchmarked — and be dogged determined to scuttle what his fellow Republicans are trying to do: 

  • Keep control of Alabama standards here in Alabama
  • Preserve choice and competition which mandatory nationalized standards prohibit
  • Strive to give our children opportunities to be “exceptional”, not “common”

SB403 could reach the Senate floor for a vote as early as Tuesday.  Senator Bill Holzclaw has pledged to fight this bill and offer his same substitute on the floor that was rejected by the Senate Education Policy Committee.  This will take valuable time.  There’s only eight “calendar” days left in this legislative session. 

If Holzclaw is really dogged determined to fight this bill and take valuable time from other bills, why doesn’t he use time productively to explain why he believes educational experts are wrong when they say Common Core is not research-based, is not internationally benchmarked, will put our children at least two years behind countries with the best standards, and will handicap our children’s future since they will not be prepared to be independent thinkers and good citizens or college-ready.   So far no one has been able to. 

 

 

 



[i] The assessments were done by the Fordham Institute; by Andrew Porter, Dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and colleagues; and by University of Southern California professor Morgan Polikoff.  Education Reporter (Number 326, March 2013)

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

COMMON CORE: A New Education Reform or a Resurrection of “That Thing from the Grave”?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

By Elois Zeanah

National Common Core standards are being sold to the public as a new education reform that’s going to save failing schools.  Jay Greene, the endowed professor of education at the University of Arkansas characterized Common Core Standards as “that thing from the grave” which gets “resurrected about every decade.” 

Progressives have worked to get national education standards for decades.  It started in the early 1900s.  The last time it was tried was in the 1990s during the Clinton Administration.  Each time national standards were resurrected, they got buried again under the barrage of public criticism and Congressional disapproval.  Frustrated but ever determined, this time proponents of national standards decided to bypass the democratic process.  The latest exhumation from the grave resumed in 2007.

Jay Greene put it bluntly when he said that “their entire project” of getting national standards approved “depends on stealth.  If we have an open and vigorous debate about whether it is desirable for our large, diverse country to have a uniform national set of standards, curriculum, and assessments, I am confident that they would lose.  Time and time again the American people through their political and educational leaders have rejected nationalization of education when it has been proposed in a straightforward way.”[1] 

The latest plot to nationalize standards included stealth by special interests and speed to rush through implementation before the public could catch on and organize resistance.  They got away with it, thanks to complicit state boards of education.  Now that Common Core is being implemented and we’re learning what’s at stake and that it’s going to steal our liberties and states’ rights and cost taxpayers a fortune, will “we the people” stop this travesty?

The Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSSI) was Created by Special Interests

The “Common Core State Standards Initiative claims that is a state-led effort, implying that it had legislative grants of authority from individual states.  In fact, through 2008, the Common Core Initiative was a plan of private groups being implemented through trade associations, albeit trade associations that had ‘official’-sounding names [like the National Governor’s Association] …. Throughout 2008-2009, the Standards had not been drafted.  Yet the Common Core proponents wanted to quickly lock the states into the Standards and thus avoid, from their viewpoint, the difficulties inherent in the democratic process.[2]

The “people and their elected legislators had no opportunity to deliberate on the Standards and assessments before their adoption.”  This is of great importance “given that the Common Core system removes significant education policy decisions from the people and their elected representatives …. The federal government and private organizations have pushed their Common Core agenda on the states by impairing state autonomy, and they plan to retain their stranglehold on the states.”[3] 

Common Core was Written Behind Closed Doors & Washington Bureaucrats who will Police Common Core cannot be held Accountable

Former “Attorney General Ed Meese, former Assistant Secretary of Education Bill Evers, and hundreds of other professors and experts from a wide range of disciplines signed the Closing the Door on Innovation statement, arguing that, “we do not believe Congress or the public supports having [national standards] developed behind closed doors with no public accountability …. The Common Core Initiative and the manner in which the Standards were imposed on the American people undermine our federalist system of divided powers.”[4]

Who are these people who are so bold to participate in attempts to end-run Congress, to violate federal laws, and to abuse the public process?

Sponsors of the Common Core State Standards Initiative

The “current phase” of national standards “began in 2007.  That year, the Gates and Eli Broad foundations pledged $60 million to inject their education vision, including uniform ‘American standards,’ into the 2008 [presidential] campaigns.  Then, in May 2008, the Gates Foundation awarded the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy a $2.2 million grant ‘to work with governors and other key stakeholders’ to promote the adoption of standards.  The following month, Hunt and the National Governors Association hosted a symposium to explore education strategies …. In December 2008, during the transition to the Obama administration, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve, Inc. (an entity founded by the National Governors Association, governed by six state governors and six corporate leaders, and funded by several mega-corporations and foundations) set out their education vision in ‘Benchmarking for Success,’ funded by the Gates Foundation …. Including nationwide standards.”[5]

Speed was Important to Stealth

The National Governors Association (NGA) “wanted to implement its plan quickly – and avoid the tedium of the democratic process …. The 2009 stimulus bill provided NGA’s breakthrough.  It increased the Education Department’s discretionary spending by 25,500 percent, giving it a fresh pot of money and a means to shape state and local curricula without congressional interference.

“In March 2009, one month after passage of the stimulus bill, the Education Department announced a two-part “Race to the Top” national competition to distribute the money …. A state could not get the money unless it signed onto the standards.

“In March 2010, NGA released the ‘first official public draft’ of the standards, followed by a June release of the final product …. States had only two months to commit to adopting the standards …. Rutgers professor Joseph Rosenstein remarked in Education Week, ‘Deciding so quickly … is irresponsible.

“NGA is not an official body of the states.  Yet, it is acting like a legislative body and, on a transformative initiative, helped cut the American people out of the democratic process.”  Neither is the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) an official body of the states.  “CCSSO was involved in the Clinton Administration’s attempt to create national tests.”  Fordham Institute President Chester Finn described CCSSO as a major and long-term member of the liberal movement on federal education policy which has an “ancient and cozy relationship with the U.S. Education Department and can be counted on to do its bidding.”[6]

What Can We Do?

Will these private interests who are arrogant enough to hammer “the last nail of so-called reform … in the coffin of traditional American education which made our nation the envy of the Free World and which produced famous scientists, mathematicians, writers, artists, musicians, doctors, etc.”[7] get away with their disrespect of the public and the democratic process? 

Let’s ask state legislators. 

What will Legislators Do?

Legislators are the people’s last line of defense to stop the federal government’s assault on parental control of local education and states’ rights.   Legislators should rescind and defund the implementation of Common Core immediately.  They, as others, were shut out of the public process when special interests used stealth to create and get state boards of education to adopt national Common Core standards, and their rushed implementation.  But state legislatures are now being forced to fund the conversion of their states’ current education standards to Common Core standards.

The cost to implement Common Core nationwide is estimated to be $16 billion.  Legislators have the power of the purse.  Will legislators be complicit in letting special interests and the federal government violate the U.S. Constitution and undermine federalism as state boards of education did?  Or will they fight for the rule of law, the democratic process, parents, taxpayers, and most of all, for our children?   

Legislators will decide.  Either they will bury “that thing from the grave” again, or legislators will hammer the nail in the coffin of traditional American education that promotes creativity and innovation and helps define American Exceptionalism.



[2] Emmet McGroarty and Jane Robbins, “Controlling from the Top:  Why Common Core is Bad for America” Nay 2012

[3] “National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards”:  A project by Pioneer Institute, American Principles Project, Pacific Research Institute, and AccountabilityWorks

[4] Emmet McGroarty and Jane Robbins, “Controlling from the Top:  Why Common Core is Bad for America

[5] Emmet McGroarty, “Education Revolution … Without The People”? February 23, 2011

[6] Ibid.

 

 



COMMON CORE: What is it?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

By Elois Zeanah

Remember the movie “A Wrinkle in Time,” in which identically dressed children came out of identical houses to all bounce a ball in an identical way?  That’s what national Common Core standards are:  A one-size-fits-all curriculum – for all states, all schools, and all students.

Common Core is the name given to a new revolutionary education reform called the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).  Its euphemism is college and career readiness.  Radical changes of Common Core include: 

(1) moving away from the founding principle that parents and states, not federal government, control local education;

(2) making obsolete federal protection against developing a national student database and tracking children from preschool through their careers;

 (3) transforming schools to broaden education policy to include and provide “supports” that intervene with external, non-academic factors that interfere with student achievement, and

(4) nationalizing education which weakens academic standards.

What is the Purpose of Common Core?

The purpose of Common Core is to nationalize K-12 education by standardizing courses, textbooks and instructional materials, tests and assessments. 

The argument for national standards is to set high standards, make all schools meet them, then student achievement will soar and students will be able to compete globally.  This all sounds good – a lot like No Child Left Behind.  But, then, isn’t every NEW government regulation that takes away more free choice and personal freedom always spun to sound like utopia?  For leftists, the issue is to get states to cede local control of children’s K-12 education to the federal government.  For conservatives, it’s a Tenth Amendment issue and protecting our children and our culture – and, incidentally, our U.S. Constitution.

It’s precisely because arguments FOR Common Core can’t stand scrutiny – and similar ventures for nationalized education in the past have failed miserably because the public and Congress reject them every time – that proponents strategized to use stealth and avoid public awareness and the messy democratic process.   And they’ve won!  But for how long?  Parents, teachers, legislators and other concerned citizens, who were left in the dark, are beginning to be alerted, and “have only just begun to fight!”  But we must hurry!

RECAP/RESULTS OF THE SEPTEMBER 18 SPECIAL ELECTION ON THE TRUST FUND CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

By Elois Zeanah
President, Alabama Federation of Republican Women

Elected officials are interpreting their win in the September 18th special election as “trust” for them.   The truth is that voters who cast a “yes” vote did so because they were threatened and scared!  This wasn’t “trust”.  Elected officials also dealt in obfuscation.  In addition, they unashamedly voted to reschedule the vote from the general election to a special election to preempt opposition they saw forming – at a cost to taxpayers of $3 million — to prevent transparency!  These tactics may be good politics but they’re not good government

 AFRW, Tea Parties and other Conservative organizations opposed the amendment on fiscal and moral grounds.

     *  There was no need to rewrite the constitution to balance the budget.  Other options were available. 

    * The real purpose of the amendment was to redefine “income” so politicians could take more money out of the Trust Fund than the constitution allowed.  The amendment allows politicians to now take half of all gas/oil revenues that currently flow into the Trust Fund annually, which earn interest and dividends to supplement the general fund, and to reduce the principal by $450 million, which sets a precedent for future raids without the legal obligation to pay it back and without a vote of the people in future years. 

    * Elected Officials say they will repay the $450 million as an attempt to quiet opposition.  Where are they going to get the money?  The state already owes $600-$700 million from past borrowing from the ATF.  And the state is burrowing deeper into debt.  A $100 million bond was issued this year for education and the legislature is talking about borrowing more this session.  Medicaid expenses are growing faster than revenues.  All the while, the legislature passed many bills to raise fees last session and more bills are being filed this year which raise costs for citizens.  Further, it’s disingenuous for legislators to say they will repay the money.  The bill they filed kicks the can down the road to future legislators; and the bill doesn’t solve the other problems of this amendment, which will likely deplete the fund in a decade or so according to some financial analysts.

 Now that legislative leaders coerced voters to rewrite the constitution so they could take more money out of the Trust Fund, they say they are serious about making budget reforms.  Although, as we pointed out during the campaign, they could have made these reforms without having to raid the trust fund and rob future earnings, we are pleased to hear this

 In conclusion, I want to applaud voters in several counties that stood up for fiscal responsibility and accountability and didn’t drink the Kool-Aid.  These were:  DeKalb, Pickens, Madison, Coffee, Elmore, Autauga, Limestone, Bibb, Morgan, Chilton, Cullman, Marshall, Cleburne, Winston, Shelby, Blount, Baldwin, and St. Clair.  The counties that had the highest turnout and voted “yes” were Greene, Sumter, Wilcox and Perry. 

 People can disagree on the merits of an issue.  But we should have a frank discussion of the pros and cons instead of resorting to what happened in this special election to scare voters and silence opposition.  I hope that Alabama won’t ever again see such a lack of transparency, widespread and orchestrated misinformation and scare tactics that elected officials used to coerce voters to give then a “yes” vote.   This is not the type of government voters expect from Republicans, and it’s not why we elected a supermajority legislature and constitutional officers. 

 We love and support all our Republican elected officials.  We “trust” them to do what’s right based on conservative values, but when they stray we stay true to our Party’s core values and ask that they do, too.

ALABAMA’S SEPTEMBER 2012 SPECIAL ELECTION: What’s It All About?

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

SHOULD THE STATE USE THE ALABAMA TRUST FUND TO BALANCE THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS?
By Elois Zeanah, President, Alabama Federation of Republican Women

SYNOPSIS:  The proposed Constitutional Amendment would take $437 million from the Alabama Trust Fund.  The State General Fund (GF) budget for FY 2012-2013 of $1.67 billion is short $145.8 million.  The State must either cut more spending or find funds to cover this deficiency.

The Leigslature voted to balance the 2013 GF by taking money from the Alabama Trust Fund (ATF), CONTINGENT on voters passing a Constitutional Amendment (CA) on September 18, 2012.  The CA has become controversial for several reasons:

(1)  It takes money from the principal but there is no legal obligation to repay it.

(2) It asks voters to approve using ATF funds to balance the GF budget for the next THREE years, not just for 2013 — by $145.8 million each year.

(3) The $437.8 million effectively redirects the repayment of $437.8 million owed by the Education Trust Fund to the ETF Rainy Day fund within the ATF.  This ETF debt must be repaid over the next three years. 

The Governor has stated that if the CA fails, he will likely call a special session of the Legislature to find additional cuts to balance the 2013 budget.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT Q & A

Why is the State spending scarce money for a special election in September to approve a Constitutional Amendment since there is a November general election?  The State is required by its Constitution to balance the budget and the 2013 budget year begins October 1.

Why is the State asking to withdraw money from the Alabama Trust Fund for THREE YEARS?  The General Fund budget has had shortfalls in recent years and shortfalls are expected to continue.  The State wants enough to bail out the GF budgets for the next three years since revenues from traditional funding sources are either unreliable or dwindling, the GF funding structure needs to be reformed, and three years would give the State time to find permanent solutions.

Why does the State want to raid the principal of the ATF since the ATF has a General Fund Rainy Day Account?  This account is depleted due to borrowing to bail out General Fund budgets in past years, and these funds have not been repaid.

Why is a Constitutional Amendment necessary?  To change the formula for distributing ATF funds and to amend the Constitution which currently requires repayment when Rainy Day Funds are transferred to the GF.  This CA allows the State to transfer $437.8 million WITHOUT repaying the money.

PROs and CONs for the CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT:

PROs:

* Rainy Day funds have been drained to prop up past GF budgets, leaving no cushion for this year’s budget crisis.

* Without the CA which would provide $145.8 million of the $1.67 billion GF budget for the fiscal year that starts October 1, more cuts to state agencies’ budgets and services will be necessary.

* Some state agencies’ budgets have already been cut between 25-40% in the past two years.

* Draconian cuts to state agencies don’t have to be made when the ATF investment account has $2.4 billion.

* A short-term fix to the GF budget is attractive when you consider the potential impact of additioanl cuts.  The impact could be widespread for the Department of Corrections and Medicaid.  Cuts in Medicaid would hurt 90,000 lower-income/disabled recipients and nursing home residents as well as hospitals, doctors, and nursing homes.

CONs:

* Some of these arguments for another CA short-term fix include some of the same arguments and scare tactics made for Amendment One; but we must keep in mind that this only a short-term fix since it won’t solve the underlying problems.  The can will only be kicked down the road once more.

      — Medicaid expenses are expected to increase faster than revenue for the GF in future years.  GF revenue sources must be re-structured or services cut in the long run.

      — It’s not wise to draw down the principal of the $2.4 billion ATF account any time, but especially when inflows from royalties are slowing to a trickle.

      — Interest income and capital gains from the ATF are one of the largest revenue sources for the GF.

      — Cutting the principal reduces the yearly income for the GF from earnings.  This means there will be less future revenue for the GF, which will require new taxes or a new funding source.

* It’s the State’s responsibility to pass a balanced budget on realistic revenue projections — not to continually siphon savings accounts to balance the budget until Rainy Day funds are depleted, then to raid the principal.

* Taking one-fifth of the principal of the State’s $2.4 billion investment/savings account without paying it back is irresponsible, and sets a bad precedent.

* The first sentence in the bill which authorizes the CA sets a new formula to distribute ATF funds.  This formula could deplete the entire ATF in a decade or two.

* A permanent fix is needed, not another bailout for a broken system for another three years.  It’s now or later.

* It isn’t lost on the public that THREE YEARS GET ELECTED OFFICIALS PAST THE NEXT ELECTION.

NOTE:  The Governor tried to engage legislators in discussion about his ideas of structural reforms of the GF during the 2012 legislative session.  Since, several additional ideas have come forth.  Solutions will be hard, some politically toxic, and will require sacrifices, but a permanent fix must be found.

THE ALABAMA TRUST FUND (ATF)

What is the ATF?  This is a “savings account” fund created in 1985 to capture/invest money received from offshore drilling rights and from royalties on oil and gas production.  IT WAS APPROVED BY VOTERS AS AN IRREVOCABLE, PERMANENT TRUST FUND.  10% of income is invested/reinvested each year.  The bulk of the remaining income goes to the State General Fund each year.

What is the General Fund Rainy Day Account within the ATF?  In 2008, voters approved a CA that established a General Fund Rainy Day Account whithin the ATF which acts like a line of credit.  THE PURPOSE WAS TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL (EMERGENCY) FUNDING TO SHORE UP THE GF IN TIMES OF PRORATION.  This authorized a line of credit of up to 10% of the previous year’s GF budget.  It also built in protections to prevent depletion of the ATF, including:  (1) Money borrowed from this rainy day account must be repaid within 10 years.  (2)  The rainy day fund could be tapped only when proration was declared.

Why not borrow money from the ATF General Fund Rainy Day Account instead of raiding the principal?  This account held about $180 million in 2010 before the State withdrew $180 million in 2010 before the State withdrew $161.6 million to prop up the GF, leaving too little to plug the $145 million needed this year to balance the GF budget.

Is there a concern about the ATF being depleted?  According to a Birmingham News editorial on July 8, 2011, “This pot of money that would be raided to bail out the General Fund” is in threat of being depleted in future years.

      — ATF assets fell from $3.3 billion in 2007 to $2.3 billion in s012.
      — Annual royalties inflow fell from a high of $373 million in 2006 to just under $120 million in 2011.
      — Royalties are expected to total a little more than $72 million in the current budget year which ends September 30.
      — Annual royalties are expected to be only $32 million by 2025.

How does the CA change the annual distribution formula for ATF funds?  The annual ATF contribution to the GF would no longer be based on earnings to the Fund, but wuld be a 33% share of royalties flowing in, plus a reduction of assets equal to 5% of the average market value of assets over the previous three fiscal years.

What happens if voters don’t approve the Constitutional Amendment?  A failed CA would bring hardships but it would force all parties to make necessary and long overdue reforms now instead of continuing to postone permanent fixes.

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT:

Proposing an amendment for the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide adequate funding for the State General Fund budget, to prevent the mass release of prisoners from Alabama prisons, and to protect critical health services to Alabama children, elderly, and mothers by transferring funds from the Alabama Trust Fund to the State General Fund beginning with the state’s 2012-2013 fiscal year and concluding with the state’s 2014-2015 fiscal year; to provide a new procedure for distributions made from the Alabama Trust Fund beginning 2012-2013 fiscal year; to create a County and Municipal Government Capital Improvement Trust Fund.  (Proposed by Act No. 2012-49)

Is Obama Leading America Toward a Venezuelan-Style Democracy?

Sunday, December 4th, 2011
 

By Elois Zeanah

 “We can’t wait” is a phrase we hear often from President Obama  when Congress won’t fall in line with his agenda. Obama uses the  excuse “we can’t wait” to end-run Congress, Courts and the Constitution through regulations, executive orders and other arbitrary actions. 

What about the Constitution’s separation of powers and checks and balances, did you ask?  When has that stopped this president, who appointed czars, 45 total to date according to Judicial Watch, which are unconstitutional at the outset?   

President Obama makes it clear from his statements and actions that he believes our American system of government, created and protected by our Constitution, is obsolete and needs to be redesigned.  He has surrounded himself with czars who are socialists, Marxists, Communists, and admirers of Hugo Chavez, to help him get around what he sees as barriers within the Constitution to an imperial presidency.  Is Obama leading America toward a Venezuelan-style democracy?

Similarities Between What Obama is Doing and What Hugo Chavez Does

  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez “constantly attacks the moneyed classes charging them with creating that nation’s problems.” 
    • Obama argues “that the moneyed classes of Wall Street have created the financial crisis through greed and fraud”[i] and plays the class warfare card.
  • The Venezuelan-style economic model is based on statist-driven crony capitalism.[ii]
    • Obama’s administration makes “relentless attempts to inculcate the practices” of this model.[iii]
    • Obama is using regulations to crush free enterprise through regulations as political favors to unions and environmental groups and to expand the powers of the presidency. (Examples are enormous and some are covered in upcoming articles regarding the abuses of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Labor Relations Boards, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Justice, etc.)
  • The political and economic model developed by Venezuelan President Chavez “concentrated power in the hands of the executive, curtailed the independence of the judiciary, [and] show[ed] limited tolerance for domestic critics….”[iv] 
    • President Obama is using czars to create a shadow government within the executive branch completely outside the framework of the Constitution.
    • President Obama is attempting a government takeover of the healthcare, energy and education sectors to create central-government planning.
    • President Obama closed thousands of private automobile dealerships without payment of any sort and demanded that they turn over their assets and customer lists to competitors via General Motors, which was characterized as “gangster government”.[v] 
  • President Obama wants courts to break free from Constitutional constraints to interpret laws and, instead, to make laws by venturing into issues of redistribution of wealth; and political, economic, and social justice.   
  • President Obama repeatedly shows limited tolerance for domestic critics and uses intimidation and harassment tactics to silence private businesses, Legislators, conservative cable TV and radio talk show hosts, and ordinary citizens.

By his behavior, President Obama seems to think he can imitate President Hugo Chavez’s charisma and make revolutionary changes to the Constitution by ignoring it, by silencing critics, by federal takeovers of private sectors of the economy, by increasingly taking on dictatorial powers and stifling the judiciary and the press in the process[vi], and by redistribution of wealth and expanding the base of Americans who depend on government handouts.  After all, Chavez received 58% of the vote in a national referendum, mostly from making poor people dependent on government. 

Can Obama expand the base of Americans who depend on government handouts and convince enough people to give up more freedoms in return to ensure his re-election?  President Obama continues to excuse his violations of the Constitution by his slogan, “We can’t wait.”  Some say, “Yes, we can!”


[i] “Dick Dove on ‘Venezuelan Style Democracy’”

[ii] Mike Curtiss, The Wall Street Journal letters, “No Risk Discipline, No Return Potential, No Shame”, November 21, 2011

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] CSR No. 20, November 2006, Council on Foreign Affairs, “Living with Hugo,” by Richard Lapper

[v] Michael Barone, a senior writer with U.S. News & World Report and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics, called this “gangster government.” 

It is Immoral that OBAMA is “Passing the Buck” to Young People to Pay for Illegal Immigration

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

By Elois Zeanah

President Obama’s plans to legalize illegal immigration reminds me of the TV game show “Pass the Buck” which premiered in 1978:  It relied on luck, instant decisions under pressure, and players risked losing everything.  “Pass the Buck” lasted only 13 weeks and dissolved into the long-running game show, “The Price is Right”. 

Let’s hope Obama’s shortsighted vision to pass the buck to young people with illegal immigration will also fizzle and get the boot by voters, so that we can return to “The Price is Right”.  Otherwise, the same young voters who put Obama in office will ironically pay for his folly, forfeiting family income that should go to improve their quality of life to burdensome taxes to pay for the past generation’s free ride.   

Economic Impact of Passing the Buck to Our Kids and Grandkids is a Moral Issue

It is immoral to pass the buck to our children and grandchildren to pay our debt and steal their quality of life even while they are in diapers and before they grow up to earn their first pay check.  It is our duty to protect our children and grandchildren in every way – including their economic future and freedoms.

How narcissistic and reckless to force our children and grandchildren to forfeit their future family income, that should go to improve their quality of life, to burdensome taxes to pay for our generation’s free ride! 

Even as the federal government is debating NOW how to avoid an immediate debt default, we’re talking not about reducing the principal of our debt that will pass to the next generation, but about defaulting on the interest payments.  Interest payments on the U.S. debt is $29 billion a month.  There is no plan and no way in sight to start paying down the $14 trillion debt (which does not include trillions more in unfunded liabilities).

Consider the Tragedy This Generation is Forcing on Young People

Let’s face the tragedy that this generation is forcing upon our children and grandchildren by considering this scenario.  A 30-year-old daughter’s parents are retiring.  The parents have worked hard and scrimped all their lives to live their last 20 years in retirement in comfort.  After all they deserve it!  They’ve been fiscally frugal their whole lives and have sacrificed to give their children more than they had growing up.  Their children are now grown and on their own.

Now that the parents have retired, they decided their money has been reduced in value by inflation and while they can live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement, they decided they’d like to live a more luxurious lifestyle instead.  The parents have a great credit rating, so what’s stopping them?  After all, America has become an entitlement society, so why should they not have everything they want even if they can’t pay for it when so many other people do?  So they buy their dream by borrowing far beyond their means!

This Generation is Passing the Buck

In this scenario, when the 30-year-old daughter’s parents die, she expects to live a similar comfortable lifestyle as her parents, but she discovers to her dismay, her parents passed the bills for past pleasures to her.

Alarmed, she wrestles with the reality that not only will she not inherit money from her parents, or be able to have the freedom to pursue her dreams with her own money, or be able to provide for her basic needs without considerable sacrifice, or to help her children achieve more than she did or give her children the benefits equal to what she had had growing up.  Instead, she is worse off than her parents were and will have to spend almost every penny she earns to pay off her parent’s debts.  Horrified, the daughter wonders how her parents failed to see through the high-falutin’ illusion of their retirement while there was still time to change the outcome.

This is analogous to the entitlement mentality of illegal aliens and those who support them.  Illegal immigrants are not entitled to other people’s money and to put our own poor people as well as future generations at risk financially.

Today’s Young Generation will face this dilemma unless enough young people and their parents slow down the gathering storms that could overshadow the future adult lives of today’s young people.  We, the Older Generation, are the guardians of the American Dream and of our children’s well being, and it’s our responsibility to safeguard our children’s future.

How can people sleep at night and suggest that government borrow more money we don’t have?  We must pay back money hundreds of billions of dollars every year in money we don’t have to give to people who break our law; who throw the balance of our immigration law out of whack and make immigration work against us, not for us; who take money intended for the poorest among us; and who run up our indebtedness that our children and grandchildren will have to pay, while enjoying none of the benefits?

How can President Obama’s conscience allow him to continue to talk about more borrowing and more spending while passing the buck to today’s young people who will have to deal with his reckless spending?  He has in three years raised our national debt by four trillion dollars.  If he succeeds in giving amnesty (a path to citizenship) to 11 million illegal aliens, he will borrow and spend another additional trillion dollars every year forevermore — of someone else’s money:  our kids and grandkids.  This is immoral!

SHOWDOWN ON DEBT CEILING: Is Obama “The Great Pretender” to Seniors?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

By Elois Zeanah

The Great Pretender” is a much nicer phrase than “con man,” so I recall the catchy Rhythm-and-Blues tune of the 1950’s that would imprison my brain without escape as I write about President Obama’s attempt to manipulate Republicans to raise the debt ceiling – while he pretends to care.  I will do so, in part, with parody.  

Obama pretends he cares about how expanding entitlements grow the deficit, but what he really wants is for Republicans to lay out a plan (which he won’t do) to cut entitlements (which he knows must be done) so he can attack Republicans and gain political points. 

Oh, oh, oh, yes, I’m the great pretender
Pretending to seniors that I care
Their need is such
They’re blind to my touch
So lonely they’re easy to scare

If Obama really cared for seniors, he’d be truthful with seniors and work with Republicans to ensure that those currently on Medicare will not lose benefits while shoring up Medicare for future retirees, instead of:

  • using scare tactics like MediScare,
  • using ObamaCare to load up and bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid at a faster pace,
  • appointing a health advisor to ration their health care,
  •  putting new taxes on medical devices that seniors depend upon heavily,
  • stripping $500 million from Medicare, and
  • appointing a health czar that has repeated stated that the Hippocratic Oath should not be applied to seniors – or anyone else for that matter.

Oh, yes, I’m the great pretender
Creating a world of my own
I play the game but to my real shame
I’ve left seniors to fend so all alone

Too real is this feeling of make-believe
So real is my power to so well conceal

Oh, yes, I’m the great pretender
Just laughing and gay like a clown
I seem to be what I’m not you see
I’m wearing my ego like a crown
Pretending that I care when seniors ‘re around

DEBT REDUCTION: Alternative To Break Deadlock

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

By Elois Zeanah

In his less than three years in office, President Obama has asked that the debt ceiling be raised three times.  Now he’s asking for the debt ceiling to be raised for the fourth time.  The last time Obama asked to raise the debt ceiling in February 2010, Congress voted to do so with the condition that the Government Accounting Office (GAO)  find ways to cut federal spending to cut the deficit.  This provision was inserted on the request of Representative Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma).

Negotiations to find ways to cut $2 trillion in spending are needlessly churning, as both political sides draw lines they won’t cross.  There’s an easier way:   Take from the table the fixes to Medicare and Social Security, since the President and Democrats prefer to put off solving these problems, and STOP the outrageous expenditures that American taxpayers are forced to fund that deal with fraud, waste, and duplicative government programs.  Several ways are listed in this short article.

President Obama promised when campaigning in 2007 that he would address similar issues, so he could not “spin the story” to keep from doing nothing in hopes of blaming Republicans for not raising the debt ceiling. 

Since a condition was placed on the last debt ceiling raise that ways be found by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to cut spending to reduce the deficit the third time Obama requested additional borrowing, it would be appropriate to use the suggestions GAO identified in a March 2011 report to cut spending as part of a negotiated settlement to raise the debt ceiling this time

The GAO report is the first of several reports on ways to cut spending to reduce the deficit.  The March report “uncovers billions of dollars in wasteful spending by the U.S. government due to duplicative work done by dozens of agencies.”[i]

GAO identified between $100 billion and $200 billion in duplicative spending

It has been estimated that there are 1,000 duplicate programs which waste billions of dollars annually.[ii] The GAO report “could serve as a template for lawmakers in both parties as they move to cut federal spending and consolidate programs to reduce the deficit.”[iii]  For example:

  • 15 different agencies oversee food-safety laws
  • 20+ separate programs deal with ways to help the homeless
  • 80 programs involve economic development
  • 82 federal programs focus on improving teacher quality
  • 80 programs help disadvantaged people with transportation
  • 47 programs deal with job training and employment
  • 56 programs help people understand finances
  • 18 programs on food and nutrition assistance

The GAO report states “Reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of tax dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services.”  There are many other ways to cut spending other than entitlement programs. 

$150 billion every year is spent on fraud in Medicare and Medicaid

Fraud in government healthcare runs 15% (versus 1% in the private sector). This outrageous waste of tax dollars by government through fraud in Medicare and Medicare should be stopped now!  This would save $150 billion a year[iv] – and help shore up both healthcare programs at the same time.  President Obama promised to do this when he took office. 

Cancel unspent TARP funds (up to $396 million)[v]

Cancel unspent Stimulus funds ($266 billion)[vi]

Reduce government employment by hiring one person for every two who leaves civilian government service until workforce is reduce to pre-Obama levels ($35 billion)[vii]

Freeze government civilian pay for one year ($30 billion)[viii]

Reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ($30 billion)[ix]

These are just a few way to cut spending by billions of dollars to cut the deficit without dealing with entitlement programs and could break the deadlock.


[i] The Wall Street Journal, “Billions in Bloat Uncovered in Beltway,” by Damian Paletta, March 1, 2011

[ii] “National Suicide:  How Washington is Destroying the American Dream from A to Z” by investigative reporter Martin Gross, released in September 2009

[iii] The Wall Street Journal, “Billions in Bloat Uncovered in Beltway,” by Damian Paletta, March 1, 2011

[iv] Cal Thomas “Deficit has gone far beyond being our children’s burden,” August 26, 20009

[v] H.R. 3140 introduced by Rep. Tom Price of Georgia

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] H.R. 5348 introduced by Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming

[viii] Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin

[ix] H.R. 1294 introduced by Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas; H.R. 4653 introduced by Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey

HOW TO BREAK THE DEBT CEILING IMPASSE: The President & Congress Should Take the Same Medicine They Force on Seniors

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

By Elois Zeanah

 I have a unique proposal to solve the debt ceiling impasse: Take off the table fixes to Medicare and Social Security, and ask President Obama to take the same medicine he forces seniors to take: ObamaCare.

Money saved could go toward the deficit and this would show the “good faith” that the President asks of others. Neither the president nor Congress is affected by the health of Medicare or Social Security; therefore they have no stake in them and are in no hurry to fix them.

Politicians Should be Held to the Same Laws They Force on Seniors

Listed below are a few suggestions dealing with healthcare costs that politicians have legislated for themselves but which are not available to seniors or other citizens.

#1 Recommendation: The President and Congress should be covered by ObamaCare the same as seniors and have no better insurance coverage that the rest of us.

#2 Recommendation: The President and Congress should pay for their own healthcare. Currently, taxpayers, who cannot afford health care themselves, pay 75% of politicians’ insurance premiums.

#3 Recommendation: End the taxpayer subsidy for extra health care perks (their own pharmacy in the Capitol, including a team of doctors, technicians and nurses), which costs taxpayers an additional $2 million a month.

#4 Recommendation: Repeal the generous tax break politicians gave themselves but not seniors which subtracts their health care premium from their income before taxes.

#5 Recommendation: Revise the Medicare Reform Act of 2004 which prohibits Medicare from negotiating for lower prices with pharmaceutical companies.

If the President and Congress are not bound by laws they pass, they have no stake in them.  It’s time they had some skin in the game!