Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Uncle Ion and Grandma's Orchard

A story from my upcoming book, “Death or Rebirth of Communism?”

In the fall of 2012 I was on a mission to see my Dad’s last three surviving siblings, two sisters and a brother. I wanted to visit uncle Ion, my Dad’s youngest brother, first. Had my Dad lived to a ripe old age, he would have probably looked very much like his sibling. When they were kids, Dad helped raise Ion and was his role model, especially after Grandma Elisabeta became a widow with eight kids at such a young age.

Ion turned 78 in 2013 and lived in Grandma Elisabeta’s house in Popesti, not far from the bustling city of Ploiesti, the center of the oil industry during the communist regime.

I drove the rented VW-Jetta through the sloping hills, dangerously close at times to the narrow ledge that separated the road from the deep ravines. The asphalt made it a quick and smooth journey unlike the long and bumpy ride of my childhood in the rickety communist bus that ran only twice a day, carrying a few workers back and forth to the village from their factory jobs and the occasional visitor to the city who needed medical attention. The Diesel engine fumes choked us through the open windows or the cracks through the doors. I could see the ground running along the route through the small rust holes on the floor board. The commies did not care that we rode like rodents in a rusty tin can. They had fancy and shiny Russian made Volgas with state paid chauffeurs.

We were thrown all over the bus every time it hit a pot hole and there were quite a few. Deep ruts cut during a heavy downpour by big rigs dried into uncomfortable and hard to navigate jarring tracks. When the road was muddy, the deep ruts made by previous vehicles stalled the bus. The men got out and pushed until the wheels stopped spinning and the bus got traction again. Nobody cared that they were caked in mud; they were already dirty from their factory jobs. I always felt bad for them. At least in the drab grey apartments in the city we had a tub and a sewer system. Even if the water was not running or was cold, we could carry buckets from other streets or we could heat it on the stove as long as the natural gas had not been turned off. We felt like royalty because we could bathe once a week. The poor villagers had to carry water from wells far away. It was thus precious, used for cooking and drinking. People went to bed dirty and got up the next day and dressed in the same clothes. It was hard work doing laundry by hand at the river.

Cousin Gigi's country store
I drove by the stream where we bathed in summertime and washed our clothes. Nothing seemed to have changed that much. The landscape is easily recognizable – I can almost see myself running through the tall weeds followed by my cousins, racing to be the first one in the cold water. A couple more hills and I arrived in the center where the bus stop used to be. It’s still there, clearly marked by a shiny painted sign. Across the road, the small state-run store that sold mostly alcohol, sugar, flour, corn meal, and a type of dried up pretzels called “covrigi” is gone, replaced by a new building with a modern fa├žade, large windows, and a neon sign. It was so frivolous and verboten to have large windows during the dark and energy-starved era of Ceausescu’s tyrannical communism. I stopped and peered inside. Neon lights, ads on a flat screen TV, a large freezer and a refrigerator held any imaginable item a convenience store would have and some. To my surprise, cousin Gigi owned the store. Still a relatively young man, his entrepreneurship paid off in the free market system. Remnants of the old communist system remained in the bribery and the overt political corruption. Gigi sold t-shirts, rented DVDs, meats, fish, cheese, dairy, candy, oil, wine, pastries, canned goods, and other foods that villagers could only dream of once. Abundance was here within their grasp. The second floor held a cozy restaurant/bar that served local dishes and beer.

Homes looked larger, more substantial, better maintained, with a car parked up front and intricate wrought-iron fencing; yet most still did not have running water. What was the point in having a bathroom with a tub if there was no sewer system or a septic tank?

Some houses looked shuttered, the owners gone somewhere in the European Union working hard for a year to bring home euros, save them, buy a car, pay for a wedding, buy a few pigs, cows, goats, or add another floor to the villa.

The steep hill in front of me had been blacktopped as well – no more trudging through mud. A few goats were grazing in the ditch, having escaped their enclosures. I decided to walk uphill to uncle Ion’s house. It was the same I had remembered. The weathered wood fence hid the tall fruit trees and the grape vines. The rusty metal gate looked like it had not been painted in years. A clothes line ran parallel with the gravel walkway and sported a few plastic grocery bags hanging out to dry. Nothing is discarded; everything is still reused, rewashed, repaired, and refurbished, just like under communism when nobody could afford to be wasteful.

Grandma's house
The house was the same stucco, half painted white and the other half a bright teal. Huge cracks along the side made it look like it was leaning. The wooden door was also painted teal. The small porch banister was peeling teal paint. I spent many days on this porch watching nature unfold in front of me, listening to the buzzing of bees, and counting bright stars at night. It was on this porch that my Dad’s and Grandma Elisabeta’s coffins were placed before the last journey to their resting place in the village cemetery. I peeked through the window of the room where Grandma used to sleep. The furniture was nicer and was very familiar; it was the furniture that belonged to my parents. Perhaps Dad had willed everything to uncle Ion. The packed dirt floor I knew, expertly swept by Grandma Elisabeta every day, had been replaced by poured concrete, covered by a handmade wool rug.  A crucifix with prayer beads was the only ornament on the wall. It was Grandma’s favorite; the beads were made of polished garnet and blessed by the Mitropolit, the leader of the Orthodox church.

I checked the other room, nobody was inside, it looked like a kitchen/storage room full of jars, bottles, dishes, and various small tools. I turned around, ready to leave, when I heard the creak of the metal gate. A very thin old man with hollow cheeks walked towards me. It was uncle Ion. I recognized his bright blue eyes. Half of the children inherited Grandma’s beautiful blue eyes and the other half had green eyes like my Dad. Uncle Ion was wearing tattered clothes and his pants were held up by a string. I flinched in dismay. It was Sunday and he did not look like he worked in the garden. I knew he had a good pension but he never spent it on himself – he supported his unemployed daughter and her two children. Unemployment hit hard the former communist countries like Romania who joined the European Union in 2007. Uncle Ion was too old to take advantage of the new economic opportunities; he was satisfied with his pension. His daughter quickly became the typical product of the European entitled welfare nanny state. I felt sorry for uncle Ion - I wanted to go buy him some clothes but he proudly declined. He was happy and content in his self-imposed poverty like a penitent monk.

Happy to see me, almost incredulous that I was there after 25 years, he kept digging in his pocket looking for his glasses that were obviously lost. We sat on the steps for a few hours, talking and remembering all relatives, dead and alive. My husband was a bit overwhelmed, not because he felt left out when he could not understand our conversation (he got the jest of it) but because this level of poverty, need, and misery was alien to him. He could not understand why people have not made more progress in 25 years since the “fall” of communism, why the former commies still live so well and are in charge, while ordinary people like uncle Ion were still so very poor? My hubby did not understand that uncle Ion chose to live this way because he wanted to support his daughter who did not work, and his grandchildren.

I tried to convince uncle Ion to let me erect a marble monument on my Dad’s tomb. Ion’s wife Angela is buried on the same plot and I offered to carve her name and photograph on a double monument. Ion refused my offer. As the only surviving senior male of the Apostolescu clan, he was de facto owner of the cemetery plot and I could not convince him unless I bribed him generously. Bribery still greased the wheels for everything in a country where most citizens learned to survive for forty years under communism through bribery, “borrowing” from work, and barter – old habits die hard. I would have offered whatever monetary compensation he was asking for but I knew the money was not going to benefit him in any way. I resented the lack of industriousness in young people and the entitled attitude that they were too good or too educated to work on menial or ordinary jobs.

Uncle Ion started to cry when we stood up to leave, it was almost dark. Last time I saw him he was young, vibrant, and defiant. He would have moved mountains to protect and care for his family. He had aged and mellowed a lot but was the same lively character with twinkly blue eyes. He picked a few plums and peaches from Grandma’s orchard and stuffed them in a well-worn paper bag, handing it to me. It was Grandma’s routine when I went for a visit. She always sent me back to the city with a bag full of fruits and vegetables. The purple plums were plump, juicy, sweet, and fragrant just as I remembered them in my dreams, scaling fences and climbing trees in the orchard and picking my own fruits.

I turned around and gazed at the silhouette holding on to the garden gate. I wanted to sear this moment into my memory. I was not sure if I would see uncle Ion again. In the twilight, his smile looked eerily similar to my Dad’s when I last saw him. He waved good-bye as the car sped off and my childhood orchard disappeared from sight.

On the drive back to the city, I gave the wheel to my husband. My eyes were filled with tears of regret and longing for a time and life that no longer existed, for family members who were now just a loving memory. I was distracted by the running landscape, the sheep and goats crossing the road, the orange sunset, the pungent smell of crushed grapes, and the cherished images of people and places playing through my mind’s eye.

Ten minutes with Silvio Canto, April 19, 2014

My ten minutes with Silvio Canto on the yet again postponed Keystone XL pipeline.
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cantotalk/2014/04/19/saturday--another-keystone-pipeline-delay-plus-a-few-other-thoughts

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lessons Learned and Lessons Missed from the Attempted Land Grab

Photo: freedigitalphotos.net
 
The recent standoff at the Bundy ranch in Nevada has taught us many lessons, but the most important one was missed. We learned that the government will do anything to private citizens in order to grab land and private property either under the guise of protecting an “endangered” desert tortoise that is actually overpopulated, or getting rid of “feral” and destructive “trespassing cattle” grazing the land for generations, cattle that are in the way of developing a $5 billion Chinese solar panel plant (ENN), and the exploitation of rare earth elements in the larger adjacent area.

Mr. Bundy was too stubborn, the last rancher standing in Clarke County, Nevada, clinging to his inconvenient “feral” cattle, his agreement with the State of Nevada, with the BLM, his “prescriptive rights,” and his ranch.  I thought cattle were domesticated, not feral, and were raised for beef consumption.  

Mr. Bundy may or may not owe the $1 million in grazing fees. The case is not clear-cut on either side and may go all the way to the Supreme Court. If someone trespasses or uses someone else’s land for at least five years without the owner of the land taking legal action, that person can claim prescriptive rights. In Mr. Bundy’s case, twenty years have lapsed since payment of fees have been in question. http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/04/blm-worried-cliven-bundy-might-prescriptive-rights-might-use-defense-court/#2V4JpF3xbCxPfjSW.99

Mark Levin explained in his April 11th broadcast that “Bundy had agreements with the State of Nevada before the BLM claimed jurisdiction.” http://politicalarena.org/2014/04/13/former-chief-of-staff-to-attorney-general-ed-meese-says-bundy-is-right/

Photo: freedigitalphoto.net
The sad lesson was how innocent animals were hurt and no animal protection agency stepped forward to protest their treatment, how people were manhandled, tazed, frightened by fully armed and menacing agents, and how massive, extreme, and expensive was the government’s response to one farmer who allegedly has not paid $1 million in grazing fees. How many people are currently in court that have embezzled other people’s money, or have failed to pay money owed to the federal government, yet have not received the Bundy treatment?

Another lesson missed was that the federal government has huge land holdings, particularly in the southwest. Lord Monckton mentioned in his article that “almost one-third of the entire 2.3 billion acres in the country are owned by the federal government.” He is of the opinion that there should be a statute of limitations on civil debt, including the right of use. http://www.wnd.com/2014/04/hands-off-the-bundy-ranch/

The BLM citing alleged environmental damage by the Bundy Ranch was not credible because ranchers grow up caring for the environment that provides their livelihood. They are not likely to abuse the land or any property that sustains them and their families for generations.

 
The other important lesson missed was that putting so many ranchers out of business, coupled with other variables, is having a negative impact on the price of beef. U.S. cattle inventory is at a 63-year low for several reasons. William Hahn of USDA explained that “cow numbers were down… and the lower supply meant higher prices.”

U.S. is the world’s largest beef producer and Texas is the leader. Demand from China and Japan for U.S. beef has increased. Supply is tight, “everything produced is consumed.” Dry seasons, increased cattle feed prices due to grain use for ethanol are some of the variables affecting supply and beef prices. Wrangling Mr. Bundy’s cattle with helicopters and exhausting some to death certainly would not help the price of beef.

Ranchers are happy with the higher prices but consumers are looking at an increase of 5-10 percent for steak this year and 10-15 percent for ground beef. Consumers can switch to cheaper priced meats. Economists call this the substitution effect. Restaurants are cutting beef portion size and increasing their prices.

According to USDA, “beef and veal prices, which are already at or near record levels across the country, rose 4 percent in February and are up 5.4 percent over this time last year. As the largest monthly increase in beef prices since November 2003, this reflects, in part, an increase in exports, a decrease in imports, and further reductions in the U.S. cattle inventory.” http://www.ers.usda.gove/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings.aspx#.UOvOfVevbwt

Replenishing the beef supply is not easy nor quick. It takes two years for cattle to be ready for slaughter.

There is an environmental push against meat consumption because cow flatulence produces methane. Methane is one of the gases which environmentalists blame for global warming. To mitigate such “pollution,” environmentalists would like to impose a flatulence tax per head.  

The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that animals emit greenhouse gases through flatulence and belching and pollute the air. The EPA is considering charging any farmer with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle, or 200 pigs an annual fee of $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 for each beef cattle and $20 per pig. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/epas-air-pollution-target-flatulent-cows/

To influence and discourage the public to consume meat, a study from the Netherlands by Monique van Nielen of Wageningen University claims that “too much animal protein is tied to diabetes risk.” The study was done ex post facto, looking at dietary data from 11,000 select people who developed type 2 diabetes and 15,000 people without diabetes.

The study should have randomly assigned subjects to eat varying amounts and types of protein. This would have given a better indication if “too much animal protein is tied to diabetes risk.” Instead, the study looked at the diets of people who developed diabetes and those who did not. There were so many other variables besides meat consumption that were not controlled in the study.  

The Diabetes Journal discussed the effect of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet on blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes in a 2004 study. http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/53/9/2375.full

The last and most important lesson about the Bundy land grab standoff in Nevada is heightened awareness to other land grabs, specifically what House Appropriation Committee Chairman Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky) calls “the biggest land grab in the history of the world” that would have a “profound economic impact” and it “would absolutely freeze economic activity in this country.”

What Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky) refers to is the joint EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers March 2014 proposed rule, Waters of the United States, to spell out which streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. http://www2.epa.gov/uswaters

During the Congressional budget testimony last week, it was revealed that Waters of the United States would give the EPA authority over streams on private property even when the water beds are dry or have been dry for a long time.

The EPA website posted the rule for a 90-day commentary period. The science behind the rule has not been completed. Yet EPA claims that “the proposed rule will benefit businesses by increasing efficiency in determining coverage of the Clean Water Act.”

The Assistant Secretary of the Army for civil works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, opined that the nation’s waters and wetlands “are valuable resources that must be protected today and for future generations.”

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy stated that the EPA and the USDA are going to regulate 56 farm practices so that farmers no longer need to ask questions whether their activities are considered exempt under the Clean Water Act. http://www.wnd.com/2014/04/biggest-land-grab-in-the-history-of-the-world/

“The proposed rule will:

-          Preserve current agricultural exemptions for Clean Water Act permitting, including:

-          Normal farming, silviculture, and ranching practices. Those activities include plowing, seeding, cultivating, minor drainage, and harvesting for production of food, fiber, and forest products.

-          Upland soil and water conservation practices.

-          Agricultural storm water discharges.

-          Return flows from irrigated agriculture.

-          Construction and maintenance of farm or stock ponds or irrigation ditches on dry land.

-          Maintenance of drainage ditches.

-          Construction or maintenance of farm, forest, and temporary mining roads.

-          Provide greater clarity and certainty to farmers.

-          Avoid economic burden on agriculture.

-          Encourage the use of voluntary conservation practices.

-          Be consistent with and support existing USDA programs.”


Congresswoman Murkowski and many farmers are troubled that the EPA, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), USDA, the Department of Energy, and the Army Corps of Engineers would gain so much power as to dictate grazing rights, food production, farming activities, animal husbandry, and the use of water and energy on private lands.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Butler on Business, April 9, 2014

My discussion with Alan Butler about my recent trip to the Smithsonian National Natural History Museum, the recipient of the almost-complete T. Rex fossil and all the global warming propaganda I found there. I come on at the 43 minute mark.
http://host1.cyberears.com//25652.mp3

Butler on Business, April 2, 2014

My two segments with Alan Butler on Cannibalism in China and Martha Boneta's latest indignities by the conservative easements environmentalists. I come on at the 28 minute mark.
http://host1.cyberears.com//25510.mp3

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Liberals and Progressives, Telling Other People How to Live Their Lives

Liberals and progressives (LPs) like to control and micromanage other people’s lives. They consider themselves the ultimate arbiter of every facet of our existence. You could say they are the proverbial busy-bodies. You can ignore the busy-body down the block. But, if you ignore liberals and progressives who have the power of the HOA, of violent protests, of boycotts, of the law, of the purse, and of the police behind them, you do so at your own peril.

LPs may be a minority of the population but they have their tentacles deeply embedded into the majority and into our national psyche, driving the message and the conversation and squashing dissent with labels of bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and islamophobia.

Americans are trained to comply peacefully, follow and respect law and order, no matter how badly conceived a law may be. After all, 435 chosen ones have voted and decided and 316 million subjects must obey.

The LP unholy alliance takes over our children at an early age in pre-school, telling them how to think, what to think, what to believe in, whom to recognize as ultimate authority, feeding them a manufactured history that would shame them into hating who they are instead of being proud of their heritage.

The LP alliance teaches our children intolerance of divergent opinions, racism, inappropriate sexuality, worship of primitive cultures, and staunch divisiveness in the stated propagandizing pursuit of equality, social justice, and fundamental transformation into an environmental utopia ruled by Mother Earth.

The LPs manipulate the main stream media and force upon the majority the perverted messages from the drug culture of Hollywood, the narcissistic lot who think of themselves as heroes and instant experts because they can act on stage or memorize lines on celluloid.   

The LPs dilute our Christian faith, the importance of family, tamper with our definition of marriage, and are responsible for the death of millions of innocent unborn children who want to live but are slaughtered through legal abortion.

The LPs control our medical care, our doctors, our hospitals, whether we are treated or not.  If we are good little Americans, pliant to their wishes, and cough up as much of our wealth as possible, they may let us be.

The LPs tell us what size houses we can build, where we can build them, how many stories tall they must be, and how densely populated the area.

LPs dictate what cars we can drive, how fast we can drive, and what kind of fuel we can use. LPs have already made plans to replace as many drivers with riders on light rail and on buses, preferably walkers and bikers. Corridors are being built and allotted to bus use only. Connecticut is a case in point.

LPs control what lands we can own, which ones we must give up to the federal government for re-wilding, where we can go camping, fishing, boating, and for recreation. There are specific areas for such activities, with very strict rules and regulations.

LPs instruct us where we can farm, what to farm, what we can feed our cattle, where we can graze our cattle, and how we can mitigate the impact the cow flatulence has on the levels of methane gas in the atmosphere.

The LPs know better what kind of energy we should use, no matter what the cost to us, which land must be used for solar power generation and wind power generation, no matter how many bird species are fried or killed, or no matter how many cattle ranchers or humans are displaced and hurt in the process.

LPs calculate how much water farmers are allowed to get from aquifers, rivers, and lakes. Wildlife always has priority over human life. A delta smelt, a desert tortoise, or a snowy owl have preference over the lives of millions of humans.

LPs decide through taxation how much money we should keep from accumulated wealth or earned income. It is unfair to the unsuccessful and the welfare-minded to have less money and wealth than the hard-working and the successful do. Social justice must prevent that from ever happening. Why should a doctor make more money than a grocery store clerk? Could it be that doctors study for 12 years to train in their profession?

LPs like to tell us what to eat, how much to eat, how much sugar, salt, and protein from meat. After all, a meat diet is bad for our health and cow flatulence contributes to global warming. Vegans live better and healthier lives, we are told by various “studies.” We are also informed that we grow more than enough vegetables on this planet to feed 7 billion humans. Do we?

LP billionaires now control the education of our children through Common Core, a bewildering way of thinking that will turn us back a few decades until the rest of the third world can catch up with us and we become good little equal global citizens, living in equal dumbed-down miserable existence.

LPs control politics, politicians, judges, the Supremes, and everyone else in between who like to have a life-long cushy job with no accountability to those little information voters who elected them time and time again.

Pretty drama queens from unknown districts relish in abusive power to make disastrous policies for 316 million Americans. Minions pay homage to the beauty that got them through school and through an election to such a powerful position in the world. They can’t help but wonder - how stupid are these people who put me here? Could they not see right through my ignorant background? Did they not know that I was a C and D student and have not learned much in school? But I’m on top of the world now and I can do whatever I want, nobody can stop me because I am an unstoppable politician for life.

The LPs arbitrate our water supply, pick our energy policy, control our food prices, make decisions about our roads, and select our agricultural production through subsidies. They are the feudal lords who told their subjects they could not hunt the animals in the forest because they belonged to the lord of the manor.

The LPs control our immigration policy, who comes into our country illegally, how many benefits they get immediately upon setting foot on American soil, free medical care, free college tuition, and other rewards not available to American citizens.

LPs determine amnesty and the ultimate fate, survival or demise, of our culture. They will be responsible for our country’s morphing into a regional fiefdom of the global elites.

 

 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Building the Machine," the Common Core Documentary

“Common sense of the common people is more important for the health of the nation than the ideas of the philosophical elites.” – Wayne Brasler


In 2013, sixty-two percent of Americans have not heard of Common Core. Ian A. Reid set out to change that. He directed the best documentary on the National Common Core Standards, “Building the Machine.” www.CommonCoreMovie.com

The national teaching standards were adopted by 45 states without parental or teacher input, under confidentiality agreements, without public debate, untested, untried, unproven, and certainly not “internationally benchmarked” as is now promoted in non-stop ads or “state-led.”

The bait for adoption was the $4.35 billion worth of grants offered through the President’s stimulus package. States had two months to write proposals in order to be eligible for the Race to the Top grants. Hurting for money because the economy was so depressed, 45 states applied and, in doing so, they accepted the Race to the Top Standards.

The standards, which were to become Common Core standards were not debated, “the drafts were cloaked,” there were no hearings, no testimony, just “some truncated public comments and no response to comments.”

“The Common Core standards were designed for an industrial model school,” claiming that they are “rigorous, even though they can’t tell you what makes for rigorous or non-rigorous standards.” Marc Tucker believes that they are designed for “work force development in the German model system.” Andrew Hacker, Professor Emeritus at Queens College, called Common Core standards, “a radical change from the past.”

According to the documentary, the “players” involved in developing, funding, adopting, and advertising national Common Core standards were:

-          Achieve, Inc.

-          Fordham Institute

-          The National Governors Association

-          Council of Chief State School Officers

-          U.S. Department of Education

-          Foundation for Excellence in Education

-          U.S. Chamber of Commerce

-          45 governors

-          Jeb Bush

-          Mike Huckabee

-          School Officers

-          Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (donated $200 million in 2012 alone to adopt Common Core)

The Validation Committee was composed of 30 people who had to sign a confidentiality agreement that they would not discuss what took place in the meetings. (Sandra Stotsky)

Five committee members, a significant percentage, did not sign the final standards and were thus “expunged from the record.” Dr. Jim Milgram said, “They are not giving the public any idea of what’s going on.” Dr. Milgram and Dr. Stotsky were the only mathematician and English language arts content specialists on the 30-person validation committee. Neither approved the standards.”

Dr. Jim Milgram objected to forcing college presidents to accept students from any high school who had passed algebra, without any remedial math courses. According to statistics from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, in 2010 “over 40 percent of college freshmen specifically need remedial mathematics and over 60 percent of new college students need remediation of some sort.”

Dr. Milgram believes that the long-term effect of non-remediation is that college course content will have to drop in order to meet the lower quality of students coming in from k-12, in essence dumbing down the college mathematics curriculum.

The much advertised “college readiness” with Common Core is not going to be good enough for STEM (an acronym that refers to the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), not good enough for selective colleges, it is going to be barely enough for a community college. But everybody can get into a community college. Common Core standards are not standards for excellence or competitive colleges, they are for mediocrity.

Ze’ev Wurman, 2010 member of CA Academic Content Standards Commission and former U.S. Department of Education official, argues that a student cannot be prepared for both “college and career readiness” as Common Core advertises. Declaring by fiat that everybody is “college and career ready” is “untenable,” in his opinion. Not all children want to go to college or should. Some children are better suited for a vocational career.

According to the documentary, the “Lead Common Core Standards writer, David Coleman, became president of the College Board in the fall of 2012. In 2013, the College Board began to simplify the material on the SAT exams and all AP courses to match the Common Core.”

Michael Farris, J.D., LL.M., founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, admits that David Coleman has some good ideas in education. What Michael Farris disagrees with is the fact that “David Coleman wants to use the force of law to require everybody to implement his ideas of education.”

Dr. Stotsky, who grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, believes in “independent citizens who choose for themselves,” people who don’t need a “monarch and a central planner” but self-government. “Central planners are people who like power; they think they are an elite who knows how to run other people’s lives.”

Dr. Andrew Hacker, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Queens College, said that 22 percent of 9th graders do not finish high school. Many variables contribute to a student’s success; however, the most important is parental involvement.

Alternate high schools in Finland and Germany offer 8 different tracks for graduation in order to better match the students’ interests, talent, ability, and motivation. “Duncan [Secretary of Education] does not like that approach because it leaves choices up to kids,” said Dr. Stotsky. “They want a centralized system where things are directed by people like them who think they know better what’s good for other people’s children.”

Wayne Brasler, Veteran Journalism Teacher, University of Chicago Lab Schools, explained that one standard for all is a ‘dead end.’ “It is stereotyping people that everyone wants to go to college, have the same career, same ability, same interests, and you are not worthwhile if you don’t do this.”

Dr. Andrew Hacker opined that “McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Gates, really regard education as a production line in which they are going to take little human beings and make them college or career ready.” Are these not our children, should we not have a say in what they learn? Is it the government’s right to teach our children what the government thinks our children should know?

Home-schooled children will not be insulated from this mediocre national curriculum. They will be affected because colleges, tests, and curriculum will be aligned with Common Core Standards.

Ian A. Reid, the director of the documentary, Building the Machine, wrote, “Lead writers of the Common Core, David Coleman, Susan Pimentel, and Jason Zimba, were asked to defend the standards in the film. Two declined, one never replied.”

American colleges were once the envy of the world. If we cut out chunks of mathematics that have been taught for 100 years, without proper research and testing, chances are great that we will no longer be the exceptional higher education bastion.

Quantifying everything will result in teaching to the standards in order to get the right score. Wayne Brasler thinks that “Systematization, centralization, and data collection are not good for the public schools but David Coleman believes so.”

Replacing basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication) with Constructivism, teaching children how to “construct” their own way of figuring out an answer, even if it’s the wrong answer, and replacing English literature selections with New Criticism Literary Analysis, using leftwing norms of morality and behavior, appears to be a recipe for mediocrity.

We are a diverse nation populated by individuals with different talents, ability, IQ, motivation, interests, and dissimilar childhood experiences. Some children live on farms and some in the cities, some are affluent and some are not.

College should help Americans become life-long learners, not ideological robots. Education should be about our children, not the “system.” Paul Horton, Veteran History Teacher, University of Chicago Lab Schools, thinks that the “Current policy makers see the purpose of education as training people to acquire the minimum level of skills that are required to work in a technical workplace.”

We are not trying to win a race, we are trying to pursue happiness and keep our constitutional republic intact and safe. What race are we supposed to win and against whom?