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Trump Trial Cliffhanger and the Consequences

Trump Trial Cliffhanger and the Consequences

Everyone makes a mistake now and then, but usually these mistakes don’t include six-figure payouts to porn stars while campaigning for president. Americans that care and understand the consequences sit in anticipation of the hush money trial verdict, a decision that could impact American democracy and cast a cloud of immorality and unethical compromise on our standards for leadership and politics. In other words this decision can dramatically hurt or dramatically improve the future of our country. Americans will begin to view leaders through this lens of compromise because the barriers and norms, the moral and ethical expectations for political leadership collapsed with Trump’s cruel, under-educated rhetoric and illegal, authoritarian mandates.

If the jury decides not to convict, autocrats like Trump will rejoice. The standards for leadership, fractured and in steady decline, will ultimately collapse. Our future governance will offer opportunities for profit and power to the exact wrong personality type: more Marjorie Taylor Greenes, more Lauren Bobarts, more strong men icons; a future of chaos and cruelty will become the new norm during a now unavoidable climate crisis. Some argue that this condition of cruelty and chaos, this collapse into civil unrest is a consequence of 9/11 and the political mistakes that followed the misguided war in Iraq. Others argue that this turn in society is non existent because the United States never provided a beacon of hope, that it has always, since slavery, been nothing but a cruel sham.

When I first started to analyze Trump’s speaking style, I considered him a buffoon, a simple minded, blathering idiot, that spewed nonsense and superficial vulgarities. But now I see him differently; I see him as a tool, most likely a Russian tool. The autocratic oppressive mind believes in Trump, whether it be a MAGA follower, an insurrectionist fool, or a power seeking greedy governor. Trump is a destructive, yet perfect, fun way to indulge in your lowest hateful tendencies. Fictionalizing threats, pretending pizza places are porn hubs, denying the death and murder of dozens of school children, and demonizing public sector workers, makes the meaningless mindless every day cycle of work and taxes more palatable for the ordinary, low income adult. Low income adults, people making less than a hundred k in our inflationary, capitalistic society, under a Trump tax plan will carry the debt burden.

Just as it was in the floundering decades of the Roman empire when dictatorships suppressed forensic and deliberative rhetoric, when discourse slipped into frivolities, and democratic ideals became misty memories, the era of Trump performs the same autocratic function, to stifle civil harmony and promote chaos and unrest. Violence is escalating and our civic values of honesty and fairness, compassion and empathy, flounder amidst the negativity. Each citizen must take a new oath, the oath of truth and freedom for all. No matter the outcome of the hush money porn trial, whether Trump steps forward as a presidential candidate, we all must maintain our humanity and continue to fight for equality. Only truth and equality will support civil stability in the new apocalyptic future.



An Appeal to Politicians Everywhere as We Begin to Experience the Horrors of Climate Change

This morning a red cardinal pecked away at the feeder hanging in my patio bird habitat. As I drove off to work, I thought about the delicate bones and feathers, the lightweight and aerodynamic body of the bird, and the interesting fact that birds are not hierarchical. In other words, the bird is never going to worship me the way my dog does because he doesn’t consider me above him. Birds, even though they are afraid of us, consider us rather beneath them. If you take something from your pet bird, he or she might pick a fight with you in an effort to take the perceived personal property straight back.  

But they can’t take back the world from us, the world that heats up a bit each year, smashing weather records causing species to die off. Most of us never take the time to think about the enormous amount of death caused by climate change. When species disappear, they leave a void in the ecosystem that they formerly populated, affecting the entire food chain. But even if, as amateur scientists and hobby writers, we understand this loss in its functional sense, the loss of a food source, most of us fail to realize how heartbroken we will be when commonplace animals and insects cease to exist.

Today, as I drove to my job, I thought about how much I love my little bird area and the interesting, verbally affluent characters that visit it each day for seeds and water. I also thought about what my patio area would look like without my colorful, feathered, and noisy little friends. Birds aside, we will soon experience the loss of polar bears in the wild, and when they go, the ecosystem will suffer in ways that we can yet understand. The suffering they now endure is painful to watch.

I hope we, as sentient beings fully capable of measuring and critiquing our effects on the environment, begin to analyze the consequences of failing to mitigate the horrors ahead of us if we continue to burn fossil fuels unabated. As a connected world, we will be able to view these tragedies, these heartbreaking cataclysmic moments, as they occur. It is time we felt a connection, and some kind of empathy, to our natural world.

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Emergency! Become Aware of the Creeping Consequences of Neoliberal Policy and Learn how to Fight Back 💲

            American parents and students must become aware of how neoliberal values creep into schools and negatively affect the quality of learning. Marketplace ideologies warp education because schools spend billions on test prep and curriculum materials that fail to regard student locality and culture. The “one-size-fits-all” approach to education supports the neoliberal agenda by ensuring that an oppressed underclass will always be available for cheap labor.

            Parents and students need a working definition of neoliberalism so that talking heads such as Sean Hannity can’t deceive them by twisting words such as “socialism” and redefining such words to fit the sneaky neoliberal motive: The removal of all public safety nets and the complete privatization of all pubic resources.

            This economic model has nothing to do with “liberalism” as commonly understood. Rather, neoliberals are generally politically conservative and are always decrying the evils of socialism, even though shared public resources do not equate to socialism and have always been a staple of free enterprise and capitalism. Neoliberals reject any restrictions or regulations on business no matter the human or environmental cost. Neoliberalism’s marketplace theory supports the complete removal or privatization of all public safety nets including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act.

            Neoliberals wish to privatize and profit from everything that is currently remaining in the public sector: National parks, existing state and federal roadways, libraries, remaining public utilities, federal lands, public schools and colleges, and any other form of shared public ownership that is intended to benefit all people in a democracy. NOTE: Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell exemplify neoliberalism in all of its greed, corporate welfare, and sneakiness.

            Neoliberalism’s parameters exist worldwide, as the creeping takeover of publicly owned enterprises means these institutions become corporate entities intended to serve the interests of profit and not people. This results in the bottom line, the profit margin, becoming more important than the quality of services rendered to the public. This is how teacher quality and educational access are affected.

            As we monitor the growing spectacle of neoliberalism, and the decay of all public goods and services, schools fight to hire the best educated teachers. But, because of neoliberal austerity policies, they have no budget to attract top talent. Colleges and universities cut funding to writing programs and bend to the will of corporate interests in an effort to meet tight budgets. An explosion of adjunct positions and dual credit courses intended to offset the consequences of neoliberal austerity measures have destroyed countless professional teaching careers, undermining education at all levels.

             Undervaluing the teaching community and ignoring school culture interferes with student ability to critique, write, and practice democracy. If students and teachers become critical thinkers and resist the regressive and punitive policies associated with neoliberalism, then neoliberal politics can no longer continue to infect all corners of our democracy and can no longer continue to profit from human suffering.    

Following is a list of books and articles that can aid in your understanding of neoliberalism as it pertains to education and the destruction of democracy.

For everyday people beginning to become aware of neoliberalism, this book works as an introduction.

Klein, Naomi. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York, Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2007.

If you are an academic and you are beginning to recognize the symptoms of neoliberalism in your own career or institution, this book can help you understand what is happening.

Giroux, Henry A. Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education. Pbk, ed., Chicago, Haymarket Books, 2014.

For writing teachers at all levels, this book of excellent academic articles can help you see what is happening in your classroom because of neoliberal economic policies. You will learn how your class is connected to the building of a democratic society, and how neoliberal policy is preventing you from fulfilling your pledge to your students.

Welch, Nancy, and Tony Scott. Composition in the Age of Austerity. Logan, Utah State UP, 2016.


A Few Reasons Why Standardized Testing is Creating a Crisis in Literacy

I'd like to ignore the neoliberal industry that now manages test prep, curriculum materials, and software packages. But I find it impossible to look away from the glossy, well packaged and unlimited amount of stuff that basically manages compliance with all of the so-called reform strategies that crept out of the hideous test and punish culture of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The revenue numbers and profit margins connected with the test and punish culture are astronomical. Even Obama doubled down on the test and punish gold mine to the horror of public school advocates. According to Education Market Watch, Pearson recorded 1.5Billion in revenue for 2017. This is money they are making off of the misery of millions of impoverished and underfunded school children. Most parents are not even aware that the test and punish cycle is a profit-driven machine supported by lucrative businesses with high level marketing and political lobbyists. Because of that, we may never live to see its demise; unfortunately, the negative effects are more pronounced in children of color and children of poverty, the most powerless and voiceless members of our society. 

Test prep, and the test and punish cycle, might be appropriate for some subjects such as biology, history, and math, but literacy is something quite personal and individualized. 

Let me list a few reasons why accountability-based standardized testing interferes with literacy.

  1. A dialogic classroom that focuses on local problems, issues, themes, and events is impossible because of the stale and static content of test prep material and the invasive nature of the test itself. Engaging points of discourse are sacrificed on the altar of accountability. Teachers are forced to introduce materials and standards that sanction a stripped down curriculum, and exploratory and expressivist writing is replaced by something that mimics the old Current-Traditional Rhetoric (CTR). CTR rejects a writing to learn approach, and focuses on correctness. However, even CTR didn't bastardize the essay form like the test prep culture does today. Typically, especially in schools that are labeled underperforming, students are taught to forego an introduction and just plunk in a broad and generalized thesis statement at the beginning of the essay. This creates confusion for young writers. Because of this confusion and because the test is so important to the school, some teachers never get around to teaching any other essay genre other than test-prep. How to really write an essay is never covered. How to write for a variety of purposes is usually only blushed over. Countless hours of classroom instructional time is wasted on teaching students how to write or type a nonacademic and disconnected, formulaic and uninteresting, piece of writing. 
  2. Doing away with context, both in the introduction of an essay and in the student's community, has a way of creating a passive learner. Someone that is forced to passively accept a formulaic, top-down strategy for something as democratic as writing is easier to control but harder to educate. Learning happens as we actively construct and change our reality. Writing enables us to view our thinking as others would see it and develop our style and voice. The top-down and one-size-fits-all test and punish culture erases this process with its need for duplication and stratification. 
  3. Marketed software packages insert control into the English classroom. By forcing students to spend hours responding to drill and kill type exercises via software and prepackaged materials, teachers are excluded from the creative process. These repetitive and joyless kinds of activities cause students to despise their own personal journey into literacy, a journey that should be individualized and sacred. Not only that, these kinds of packages deprofessionalize the act of teaching literacy because almost anyone can present test prep. Even though this is the least effective route to literacy, and millions of dollars in research proves that a qualified, professional teacher is the key to success, districts are spending millions on these products.

Next time I write on this subject, I am going to talk about two types of writing assessment. The least effective type is the rubric style used by the test and punish culture. I will explain why rubrics, while they are good for some basic writing efforts, are harmful to the beginner writer. 

Just to sum this all up, poverty is the problem. Neoliberal economic policy devalues human discourse and intellect, and it places an inordinate amount of importance on market-based principles. Neoliberal economic policy is not about the word "liberal." It is not about whether or not someone is a liberal. Neoliberal economic policy strives to dominate all aspects of culture and market everything to the highest bidder. In education, neoliberal policy doesn't care about civil discourse or civic duty. The object is to make workers out of everyone, and make sure the poor continue to have no access to power. Unless we can teach our students how to access democracy and become relevant (and, as you know, literacy is the key), our way of life will be lost. Everything we own as a society will be privatized and auctioned off. Think about that.



Trump and Tillerson: Fascists Hate Dissension

The fact that Trump keeps kicking people to the curb that disagree with him makes me think that he's so demented and hard line that he finds even the slightest bit of advice repugnant. If that's true, and by all accounts it is, then our country is in even deeper trouble than we imagined. His arrogance is unmatched by anyone, and he is the quintessential adult bully.  

As he becomes more authoritarian, his followers become more defensive of his behavior. The other day, when I was driving home from school, I tuned into Sean Hannity's radio program. I listen to Hannity so that I can hear the other side of the argument, and he is generally so facetious and such a liar that he makes me feel slimed while I listen. But he was one-upped last Friday by a whining female caller that couldn't get over the fact that the "liberal media" wouldn't admit that Trump is a "Godly man doing God's work." 

This kind of talk is sickening to say the least. Nothing anywhere is further from God than Trump, unless it's the devil himself. But the incident today ushers in a new low-level of hate mongering and potential violence because Tillerson's replacement, Mike Pompeo, supports and promotes torture as a method of extracting "information" from terror suspects. Even though it has been proven that evidence and intelligence garnered from torture is generally false or inconclusive, it appears that it will now become formal US policy. 

I can remember the first time it occurred to me that my country would actually officially torture a suspect, and I was in shocked disbelief. I knew that rogue military personnel would torture prisoners, but I had no idea that this behavior would ever be accepted by the leaders of my country. The unbelievable and hideous hypocrisy of these so-called Christians is just mind boggling. All of this is extremely disturbing, rather reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

Getting Trump and his mess out of our highest office must be a priority.

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A Few Reasons Why NFL and NBA Players Need to Take the Knee

If you've noticed the irony of Donald Trump's discourse concerning the recent NFL players form of silent protest against racism and inequity, then you are probably getting chills. We are on the brink of a possible conflict with North Korea, an authoritarian regime that requires citizens to literally worship public symbols. Is it not ironic that Donald Trump is demanding the same kind of subservience? Does his propensity for illogical and hypocritical thinking not raise a red flag? (no charge for the pun) NFL player Colin Kapernick's protest is a way for him to express his dissatisfaction with a country that he believes has failed to protect the Civil Rights of many of its citizens of color.

Symbols are an important way for people to express unity and peace, but when symbols oppress rather than free citizens, the feelings of nostalgia and unity are reversed. Forcing anyone to say a pledge or stand during a ceremony is useless if the person being forced has become disenchanted with what the symbol represents. It is best to observe who is feeling disenchanted and why, and then try to make corrections that will bring this segment of the society back into a state of political harmony.

It is typical of Trump to turn to capitalist notions of who owes what to whom in order to argue his point. But what he is forgetting is that citizens are free to protest in a peaceful way. By calling players "son of a bitches" and demanding they be fired, he is alienating his office (the most prominent symbol of American freedom) from even more politically active citizens. Instead of shouting down threats from his public platform, he should instead be asking what he can do to restore unity and harmony to the political and cultural landscape.

Because Trump, and people that share his bigoted beliefs, will never consider making adjustments to the decisive and unjust speech and actions that they support, every free-thinking person should take a knee. Free expression and the right to peacefully demonstrate a dislike for egregious public policies must continue to be a mainstay of American civil service. When people like Trump speak out against this kind of protest by referencing the military and first responders, they are trying to guilt the populace into submission. This is a tactic that the military and all public servants should reject as illogical and immoral. The American military is not in place to subject its citizens to tyranny, but instead to protect the freedom to dissent.

Rejecting a symbol is a tangible way to express dissatisfaction with the entity that it represents. 

My Brother and Vietnam

The Blade


My brother’s life had a very tragic ending. He was fifty-three when he died in the veteran’s hospital. I watched him suffer in a life that offered him no relief from the paranoia. He came home from Vietnam with glassy, angry eyes, and a hard bitter mouth. He was too quiet, too observant, and even though we didn’t know at the time, he was suffering from shock. The military sent him back for a second tour. He walked point again with his pistol and a knife. He hid in canals with leeches sucking the blood out of his veins; he cut throats and shot the enemy. When he got home after that tour he rarely put his knife down. He snapped the blade in and out constantly; he threw it long distances hitting targets with amazing accuracy. He could move around the house like a ghost, and hinted he could slip in and out of any building he wanted. I was just a little girl trying to start school and he terrified me. My heart would pound, and I could barely breathe when he came into the room. He never hurt me, but I was afraid he would accidently do something terrible. I loved him desperately, and my heart was broken. The brother I knew was completely gone, and I would have given my life to see him get well. Gradually, we adjusted to the problems he caused us. Slowly, we became a little bit like him so we could comprehend what he was putting us through. Several years later we were forced to remove him from our lives. We drove him out to highway 81, and my mother opened the door for him. An empty feeling crept into my heart that night; it was almost as if she had abandoned me on the side of the road. It was many years before we ever saw him again. The lessons my brother taught me: his view of the government, and the American cover up of the Vietnam catastrophe are components that predetermined my outlook and explain my unwillingness to trust authority, or accept the surface motives of any individual, or organization.


He is another dimension of me; the side of me that weeps hysterically. He lived in complete dependence on drugs, alcohol, and street wise wisdom. The tragedy we were learning to accept was that we were losing a man who should have become a great writer or teacher. His IQ was extremely high and he used to love to show off his knowledge and skill. But when he came back from Vietnam his vanity and personal style had disappeared. He taught me to be wary of people who were concerned about the way they looked in the mirror. He hated materialism, advertising, capitalism, and superficiality. He preached his ideas to me, his small captive audience. Too afraid to run from him, I started to listen. He was passionate in his beliefs. He could tell you the names of the arms makers and who the corrupt politicians were. He believed The United States of America was becoming a mutant fascist state. Our president was nothing but a puppet, and the authentic power rested in the hands of an elite secret group. He hated the middle class most of all. Not what we now label as middle class; he meant the nouveau-riche, the greedy, the white trash. I find myself influenced by his ideas even now when I occasionally read about a business person, or politician, that has risen to power barely competent enough to string two words together. I see the person as he does: snot-faced, dirty, greedy, ignorant and toothless with grimy fingers clutching a buck.


He also warned me about drugs, forgetting that small children learn by example. I knew all about substance abuse by the time I was ten. It was the early 70’s and we listened to “The Doors,” and “Deep Purple.” His friends carried guns, syringes, and wads of cash rolled up neat in their front pockets. The hopelessness of needle addiction broke my heart. I knew who the junkie was; what they were; and why they were. I witnessed the terrible lie the needle told my brother and his friends. My soul ached with terror and pity; I just knew I would come home from school and find my brother dead in the house. We took a trip to Houston to the methadone clinic. We picked one junkie up, hoping to drop off another. My brother would not get out of the car.



And now I walk quietly past the corporate world and watch it from the corners of my eyes. Unlike my brother, I really have no aversion to money or material wealth; I just don’t want to acquire anything the way that they do. They are so cold, heartless, and numerical. Their tall buildings jut into the sky like shafts of ice, filled with people involved in mechanical paper sorting activity, looking for ways to compete, profit, and cheat. If he was wrong about anything, it was not about them. I dipped my toe into their glassy, incandescent pool just to see for myself; but the water was too toxic, too chilled, and I walked softly on hoping they never really noticed me. But for a long time after that experience I could hear my brother’s blade snapping, click click, behind me. I ran harder, and harder, until it stopped.



There were many reasons to respect my brother and his blade was only one of them. People he chose to share his views with had a sense he was possibly correct. His vision was not blurred; he was very intellectual and literate. It seemed as if he was really in on some terrible truth and we all needed to know what it was. My innocence about my country, certain individuals, and authority suffered a shattering blow; but it wasn’t an altering of reality that I regretted. Instead, I felt fortunate, as if I had eaten from the tree of knowledge and hence was safe. I became determined to never sell myself out, or support anyone or anything I perceived to be false. I had my guard up early, and I am thankful to this very day.



While he served in Vietnam, my brother received a Purple Heart, and it earned him a small article in the local paper. Private Jessica Lynch, of the Iraqi conflict, got captured riding on the lost lunch truck. Special Forces made a rescue at great risk. Yet, Jessica and her comrades were labeled heroes by the national press. She got a movie deal; my brother and his fellow soldiers were villified by the 1960’s public, or they were completely ignored. These attitudes, and injustices, convince me his vision was both accurate and prophetic.



I deal with the tragedy of my brother in the only ways I can. I remember and honor his military service, and I take pride in his wisdom. He was a daring foot soldier in the Vietnam War. He deserves a movie, a parade, and a chance to relive his life with his family; a chance he will never get. I emulate him when times are harsh, and I persevere as courageously as possible. But most importantly, I keep one precious fact tucked tightly in my heart: we were brother and sister at a terrible time in our nation’s history. It was not that he lacked love for me, or intended to take away my childhood. These problems connected to his experiences in Vietnam made it impossible for my brother to buy me ice cream and walk me to school. Instead he made me tough enough to walk by myself, and made it unlikely I will ever believe their story.

The Fight Today

    This morning I am all of the faults my Grandmother detested: contemptuous, fatigued, imposed upon, and impatient. I never asked to come here, and my tenure has turned into a trap of sorts, a place I can walk away from; however, if I do, then I will self-destruct and all of my arrows will have missed the mark. A vision of my Grandmother passes before me dressed in her starched apron, her hands kneading the dough, a soft breeze rattling her screen door.

    We will all forget, as soon as humanly possible, the spoilt and petulant, slightly plump little valley girl feigning credentials, yet possessing none, but still allowed to trounce on the souls of hard working, dedicated professionals she perceives beneath her. But, in the academic world, she is simply nothing but a communications degree that failed to make a west coast splash, a loser of plump proportions, a twit beyond description.

     And in the hallways a woman creeps like a lizard peeking into the rooms, searching for fault, and when finding nothing, she constructs a drama from thin air, and she weaves these falsehoods to support the plump and gelatinous, the petulant and feigning. We watch these actions in horror, from behind our glasses, and our dependents look on helplessly, some of them resisting injustice, and others tricked by the duplicity, all of them cheated by the sheer force of the inept and incompetent leadership of our establishment; the falsehoods created to destroy me are openly discussed in the hallways, and this undermines my authority; I am defeated.

      I check under my eyes, and they are darker than ever with lines forming on my cheeks below, and after another bout with the illogical and duplicitous, I wipe a frustrated tear off my cheek, and I grit my teeth for another round because we have never had more to lose, and I do not want to disappoint my Grandmother.

      After all of my years on the docks, the roadways, and the cities and towns of  North America, and after all of the rough characters that have passed in and out of my life from the communities around the world, and after all of my experience, the scholars, the sages, the poets, the chiefs, the professors, the professionals, the workers, the soldiers, and the quitters, after all of these lessons, I was still not prepared for the disgraceful spectacle I now witness—a spectacle of negativity that completely derailed the future of an entire urban neighborhood.

     I question why our supreme leader sits on his hallowed throne and allows this scandal to continue, and I am answered by a poet with underworld connections,

“It is his golden rod, and those who parlay to kiss its tip are whisked away by a magical lizard.”

   My poet winks at me, and I nod in confusion unraveling the riddle, and pondering its meaning. I rock back on my heels, and my sudden laughter fills my vacant room as I comprehend the absurdity of our dilemma: the carnal weakness of man.

 In the world hereafter, I know my Grandmother is smiling.

Sequester of the Inept

Today we are happy for the gentle weather and our Katy home, a place where we can escape the unpleasant. And while I often look back on the earlier days of my life in discomfort, I am pleased with myself at 50. The decisions we make in our 20's contain only limited wisdom, and are generally reactionary, and if you haven't grown by 50, then you likely have surrounded yourself with people lacking character and independent thought.

Our school offices and government are filled to the brim with those sycophants, basking in their unethical points of view, and fundamentally perpetuating their mediocrity. Today, no matter the beautiful weather and the pleasantries of home, we are all at risk of losing our livelihoods to the wispy intelligence of the arrogant.

"We the people" join together over our coffees and our teas, and we discuss the mediocrity of the meritocracy. We languish about our homes with this axe over our heads, and we wait for "them" to act in some intelligent manner, to hand down some apology, and to create an artful plan that will stop the train wreck that surely lies ahead. We shake our heads and we contemplate the spectacular, and we question the inevitable, and the theme of our daily labors carries the notion, and often we verbalize in wonderment at our mistakes, and we ask each other, "how did they get there?"

Then we go to the polls, or to our local school boards, and we give "them" another chance, while they are denying us of any upward mobility. They purposely cheat our most fallible of citizens out of education, health, and wellbeing, padding their despicable pockets with bond money, and pork deals as we look on with disgust.

Be careful calling these insecure failures and phonies out, or they will do their best to destroy you. Going up and getting access to the power is all they care about. It never has been about the children, or the elderly, it has always been about the buck. Maybe, all in all, it is simply the "sequester of the fools."

Studying Bullies at the Texas Behavior Support Conference, and Beyond

Many of my breakout sessions this week focused on bullying. And while we have used this term for many years, I find it an insufficient description of what we are trying to control. Because, as we all know, bullying is multi-generational, and it is passed from parents to children. People, who have successfully "ganged up" on targets, are able to commandeer certain desired outcomes. You rarely find a bully acting alone, and they are usually proud of their ability to manipulate and mentally, or physically, harm someone.

In order to control this negative aspect of any social construct, then you must first investigate the source and determine the event. What I mean is that not all negative behaviors are true bullying. One excellent example was a case where the students in a certain clique used a hand signal to stop their cohort from slapping them on the chest. A teacher observing this behavior misconstrued the event, not understanding it was simply a childish game.

But sometimes problems persist, especially among cliques of people. And while I have spent this week focusing on this destructive adolescent behavior, I have been able to contemplate its effects on myself as an adult. All of us are ashamed of certain events from our years of growing up, and I have more than my share of immature regrets. Somehow, I have found forgiveness within myself, and have made every effort in my adult life to treat people with kindness, patience, and respect, always going the extra mile in order to balance out the pain I might have caused in the long ago past. But this doesn't mean I have forgotten the consequences; this doesn't mean I am going to cast away my rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and, last, but not least, this doesn't mean I won't get some really smart help when I need it the most.

Living alone in a small backwoods kind of place has given me a chance to analyze the bully issue from the generational standpoint. You find these adult perpetrators in places of authority: on the board, or in the city hall. Sometimes you discover these people at the local paper, or maybe in a radio station. They will call you names (liar, cheat, demon) and they will use every effort to "get rid of you." You will be made the villain, while all along you simply want to stick up for yourself and be allowed your privacy, and a chance to improve your life. And this is the same dilemma facing the target at school; the student feels alone, and awkward, like the whole place is against her/him. Usually help is unattainable because no one seems to witness the activity, but only perceive the negative results. Children who are bullied undergo severe personality changes. They become depressed, fearful, and angry; sometimes they act out in retaliation because no one has defended them from the ongoing abuse. People, as we all know, will commit suicide. I will never forget the tearful father I met via video who demonstrated how his only son had committed suicide by hanging himself in a closet.

Once this happens, then the bullies have really won. They have obtained their goal: getting "rid of" the target person.

It is my belief, that until the adults stop demonstrating and condoning this behavior publicly, then it will never stop. Most adults don't even realize what they are doing, but I can point out people my age, and even older, who engage in this activity as a group every single day. Bullies focus on the benign, and pick mercilessly away at a person's character, belongings, hairstyle, or way of life. They perform as a unit, and the goal is to "get rid of" the offensive target. Anyone, adult or child, that is different, or perceived in some odd way, is a potential object of scorn for the bully.

Honestly though, the bully has cheated him/herself. They have denied themselves an opportunity to learn from a unique, and sometimes fragile, human being. They forego a chance to experience peaceful contentment, the reward of tolerance, and acceptance. Instead of communicating from a positive perspective, they have chosen to vilify an innocent soul. And if they are adults, then they are passing this vexatious legacy onto their children. It is my hope that we are all moving on to a more mature society. I will let you know what I learn at the next behavior support conference. This one was fascinating.

Why "Take Back Our Country" is a Destructive Political Slogan

No political slogan in recent memory is as vaporous, meaningless, and divisive as Take Back Our Country. Shouted repeatedly by the Tea Partiers like a battle cry to the Alamo of  future Armageddon, regarded as a last chance to save America, and grossly understated, yet overstated, its negative message is what Orwell warned us about in his essay On Politics and the English Language

Recently, I asked my 12-year old child what he thought of the slogan's internal meaning. He said, "It sounds like they want to get the country back from the president." I honestly believe it is in retaliation for earlier commentary by democratic free thinkers who argue power is unfairly in the favor of elite business, and they dared to proclaim anti-Bush sentiments. Whatever the logic behind this vapid and useless statement, it has caused irreparable harm to our feelings of community, and helped create a negative political atmosphere beyond anything previously experienced. This slogan insinuates that some of us are in possession of something we do not own, the country. Like Palin's little crosshair map, it is incendiary in nature, destructive, and completely negative and erroneous.

In Texas, we are subjected to a Republican battle for a Senate seat. I don't care for either candidate...to me one is just as bland as the other. David Dewhurst, successful businessman, spokesman, rancher, lieutinent governor, is running against lawyer Ted Cruz. Dewhurst must have a huge war chest; we have to look at his message nearly everytime we are in front of a television. He is definitely going to balance the budget, take our country back, and hurl us in reverse to the much better 1950's as soon as he gets full power. The words, "Take Our Country Back" slip from his lips as easily as a wad of snot, and sound equally as obscene.

You can tell he will do what he says he will. Dewhurst always keeps his word, even though he isn't brave like his father--according to his own television testimonial. But, I promise, if someone pressured him to explain his slogan, his response would echo across the top of an empty barrel. He lacks, as well as the TeaParty, no possible logical response. The country is not taken.

Since it is an election year, I encourage everyone to get back into George Orwell. Think about the world, the words used, and the connection between what is realistic, and what is voluminous wisps of vaporous bull crappie. We are Americans, and we have unlimited media resources. We can educate ourselves to recognize the ridiculous. Our country already belongs to us...it hasn't slipped into the grip of something horrible. We have a president that cares, and we have a congress that is only concerned with preserving itself. Remember...1984 by George Orwell. Read his Politics and the English Language before you study this important novel again. It will all make sense... then you will be disgusted too.