Friday, May 31, 2013

American Progressivism: Part 2 of 5

by R.J. Pestritto, Shipley Professor of the American Constitution at Hillsdale College

II. The Progressives and their Attack on America’s Founding

As I mentioned in my last piece, America’s Progressives aimed for a thorough transformation in America’s principles of government. While our founders understood that our national government must have the capacity to be strong and vigorous (this is why the Articles of Confederation were failing), th
ey also were very clear that this strength must always be confined to very limited ends or areas of responsibility; government, in other words, while not weak or tiny, was to be strictly limited.

The Progressive conception of government, on the other hand, was quite the opposite; Progressives had an “evolving” or a “living” notion of government (yes, we get the term “living constitution” from the Progressives), and thus wanted government to take on whatever role and scope the times demanded. The Progressives reasoned that people of the founding era may have wanted a limited government, given their particular experience with George III, but they argued that people of their own time wanted a much more activist government, and that we should adjust accordingly.

Quite simply, the Progressives detested the bedrock principles of American government. They detested the Declaration of Independence, which enshrines the protection of individual natural rights (like property) as the unchangeable purpose of government; and they detested the Constitution, which places permanent limits on the scope of government and is structured in a way that makes the extension of national power beyond its original purpose very difficult. “Progressivism” was, for them, all about progressing, or moving beyond, the principles of our founders.

This is why the Progressives were the first generation of Americans to denounce openly our founding documents. Woodrow Wilson, for example, once warned that “if you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface” – i.e. that part of the Declaration which talks about securing individual natural rights as the only legitimate purpose of government. And Theodore Roosevelt, when using the federal government to take over private businesses during the 1902 coal strike, is reported to have remarked, “To hell with the Constitution when people want coal!” This remark may be apocryphal, but it is a fair representation of how TR viewed these matters.

In the next piece, we’ll consider how the presidency was transformed under men like Wilson and TR.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"God is the future, and atheism is on its way out."

As we look around our nation, it's easy to become discouraged and overwhelmed. But I've been reading some good news and wanted to share.

In his 2007 book, What's So Great About Christianity, author Dinesh D'Souza examines the research to tell of a hopeful, emerging trend.

D'Souza points out that liberal Christianity is retreating, losing church members in droves: The Presbyterian church has lost half its membership since 1960, Episcopal one-third, United Church of Christ almost half, while the Southern Baptist Convention has increased from 8.7 million to 16.4 million.

One reason for the liberal fall is "how much intellectual and moral ground they concede to the adversaries of Christianity" by rejecting modern-day miracles and the Old Testament all-powerful God, while blaming the church for historical conflict and oppression.

"A small but influential segment of liberal Christianity rejects all the central doctrines of Christianity. H. Richard Niebuhr famously summed up their credo: 'A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.'"

Meanwhile, Christianity is exploding in the eastern and developing worlds. Citing author Philip Jenkins, D'Souza states that "what distinguishes [Eastern] Christians is that they immerse themselves in the world of the Bible to a degree that even devout Western Christians do not. For poor people around the world, the social landscape of the Bible is quite familiar. They, too, live in a world of hardship, poverty, money-lenders, and lepers. The themes of exile and persecution resonate with them. Supernatural evil seems quite real to them, and they have little problem in understanding the concept of hell. Some...even expect the miracles of ancient times to be witnessed in their own lifetimes...An African preacher...insisted that through God's grace he had performed innumerable headings...When [a western] pastor looked at him a bit doubtfully, he pointed to the Bible and said, 'Young man, there is a big difference between you and me. You see this book right here? We believe it.'"

"Third World Christianity is coming our way" with South Korea and China sending missionaries westward.

Students of history will recognize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ moved westward mostly through the northern continents from Asia, Europe, and then to North America. But now we are experiencing the expansion through the southern continents - what an exciting time to be alive!

"Christianity is winning, and secularism is losing...one trend seems clear. God is the future, and atheism is on its way out," D'Souza declares.

[Emphasis mine.]





Friday, May 24, 2013

American Progressivism: Part 1 of 5

To understand what is going on in our nation today, we must understand the history and purpose of Progressivism. 

Every Friday for the next five weeks I'll be posting an informative crash-course on American Progressivism by R.J. Pestritto, Shipley Professor of the American Constitution at Hillsdale College. 

Be always learning - and enjoy!


*******************************************

Part 1

Many on the left today call themselves “progressive,” and they do so not just because it’s a nicer way of saying “liberal,” but also because they very much intend to revive the political principles of America’s original Progressives, from the Progressive Era of the 1880s through World War I. Why would leftist politicians, like Mrs. Clinton, purposely identify themselves with this Progressive movement?

The reason is that America’s original Progressives were also its original, big-government liberals. Most people point to the New Deal era as the source of big government and the welfare state that we have today. While this is perfectly accurate, it is important to understand that the principles of the New Deal did not originate in the New Deal; rather, they came from the Progressives, who had dominated American politics and intellectual cultural a generation prior to the New Deal.

We have no less an authority on this connection than Franklin Roosevelt himself. When FDR campaigned in 1932, he pointed to the Progressives – and in particular to Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson – as the source of his ideas about government.

In terms of the personalities who made up the Progressive movement, some are familiar to us and others are less so. The movement was comprised of well known politicians like Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt; but it was also comprised of intellectuals and writers who are less well known but who have been very influential in America. There were folks like John Dewey, who was America’s public philosopher for much of the early 20th century. Even less well known was Herbert Croly, but Croly was highly influential, since he founded and was the first editor of The New Republic – which became the main organ of Progressive opinion in the United States, and is still one of the most important journals on the Left today. I should add here that Woodrow Wilson actually fell into both of these categories – he was both a well known politician and president, but also was, for decades prior to his entry into politics, a prominent intellectual (a college professor and president of Princeton) who wrote many books and influential articles.

As I’ll explain in my next piece, these Progressives wanted a thorough transformation in America’s principles of government, from a government permanently dedicated to securing individual liberty to one whose ends and scope would change to take on any and all social and economic ills. Here’s the order of the points we’ll consider in the pieces to follow:

1) What did Progressives think about the American founding, and why did they want to eradicate its principles?

2) How did we get today’s excessively powerful presidency from the Progressives?

3) What was the connection between Progressivism and Socialism? Were the Progressives actually Socialists?

4) What are some of the critical connections between Progressivism and what’s going on in our country today?

For more on the Progressives, two of my books may be of interest:

1) American Progressivism, which I co-edited with American historian William Atto, contains a basic introduction to progressive ideas written by Professor Atto and me, and then several selections from the actual writings of Progressives like Wilson, TR, Dewey, Croly, and others.





2) Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism, which is a much more in-depth look at Woodrow Wilson and how he was central to originating the liberalism that dominates America today. This is for those who are really interested in history and political theory. 







Monday, May 20, 2013

Common Core: One Mom's Story



Children for Sale
By Alyson Williams
No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.
In the spring of 2011 I received a receipt for the sale of my children. It came in the form of a flyer that simply notified me that my state and thereby my children’s school would comply with the Common Core. No other details of the transaction were included. The transaction was complete, and I had no say. In fact, it was the very first time I’d heard about it.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s outrageous! Common Core has nothing to do with selling things, especially not children!
Okay, so the idea that the State School Board and Governor who’d made this decision could be described as “selling” my children is hyperbole. It is an exaggeration intended to convey an emotion regarding who, in this land of the free, has ultimate authority over decisions that directly affect my children’s intellectual development, privacy, and future opportunities. It is not even an accurate representation of my initial reaction to the flyer. I say it to make a point that I didn’t realize until much, much later… this isn’t just an issue of education, but of money and control. Please allow me to explain.
That first day my husband picked up the flyer and asked me, “What is Common Core?” To be honest, I had no idea. We looked it up online. We read that they were standards for each grade that would be consistent across a number of states. They were described as higher standards, internationally benchmarked, state-led, and inclusive of parent and teacher in-put. It didn’t sound like a bad thing, but why hadn’t we ever heard about it before? Again, did I miss the parent in-put meeting or questionnaire… the vote in our legislature? Who from my state had helped to write the standards? In consideration of the decades of disagreement on education trends that I’ve observed regarding education, how in the world did that many states settle all their differences enough to agree on the same standards? It must have taken years, right? How could I have missed it?
At first it was really difficult to get answers to all my questions. I started by asking the people who were in charge of implementing the standards at the school district office, and later talked with my representative on the local school board. I made phone calls and I went to public meetings. We talked a lot about the standards themselves. No one seemed to know the answers to, or wanted to talk about my questions about how the decision was made, the cost, or how it influenced my ability as a parent to advocate for my children regarding curriculum. I even had the chance to ask the Governor himself at a couple of local political meetings. I was always given a similar response. It usually went something like this:
Question: “How much will this cost?”
Answer: “These are really good standards.”
Question: “I read that the Algebra that was offered in 8th grade, will now not be offered until 9th grade. How is this a higher standard?”
Answer: “These are better standards. They go deeper into concepts.”
Question: “Was there a public meeting that I missed?”
Answer: “You should really read the standards. This is a good thing.”
Question: “Isn’t it against the Constitution and the law of the land to have a national curriculum under the control of the federal government?’
Answer: “Don’t you want your kids to have the best curriculum?”
It got to the point where I felt like I was talking to Jedi masters who, instead of actually answering my questions, would wave their hand in my face and say, “You will like these standards.”
I stopped asking. I started reading.
I read the standards. I read about who wrote the standards. I read about the timeline of how we adopted the standards (before the standards were written.) I read my state’s Race to the Top grant application, in which we said we were going to adopt the standards. I read the rejection of that grant application and why we wouldn’t be given additional funding to pay for this commitment. I read how standardized national test scores are measured and how states are ranked. I read news articles, blogs, technical documents, legislation, speeches given by the US Education Secretary and other principle players, and even a few international resolutions regarding education.
I learned a lot.
I learned that most other parents didn’t know what the Common Core was either.
I learned that the standards were state accepted, but definitely not “state led.”
I learned that the international benchmark claim is a pretty shaky one and doesn’t mean they are better than or even equal to international standards that are considered high.
I learned that there was NO public input before the standards were adopted. State-level decision makers had very little time themselves and had to agree to them in principle as the actual standards were not yet complete.
I learned that the only content experts on the panel to review the standards had refused to sign off on them, and why they thought the standards were flawed.
I learned that much of the specific standards are not supported by research but are considered experimental.
I learned that in addition to national standards we agreed to new national tests that are funded and controlled by the federal government.
I learned that in my state, a portion of teacher pay is dependent on student test performance.
I learned that not only test scores, but additional personal information about my children and our family would be tracked in a state-wide data collection project for the express purpose of making decisions about their educational path and “aligning” them with the workforce.
I learned that there are fields for tracking home-schooled children in this database too.
I learned that the first step toward getting pre-school age children into this data project is currently underway with new legislation that would start a new state preschool program.
I learned that this data project was federally funded with a stipulation that it be compatible with other state’s data projects. Wouldn’t this feature create a de facto national database of children?
I learned that my parental rights to deny the collection of this data or restrict who has access to it have been changed at the federal level through executive regulation, not the legislative process.
I learned that these rights as protected under state law are currently under review and could also be changed.
I learned that the financing, writing, evaluation, and promotion of the standards had all been done by non-governmental special interest groups with a common agenda.
I learned that their agenda was in direct conflict with what I consider to be the best interests of my children, my family, and even my country.
Yes, I had concerns about the standards themselves, but suddenly that issue seemed small in comparison to the legal, financial, constitutional and representative issues hiding behind the standards and any good intentions to improve the educational experience of my children.
If it was really about the best standards, why did we adopt them before they were even written?
If they are so wonderful that all, or even a majority of parents would jump for joy to have them implemented, why wasn’t there any forum for parental input?
What about the part where I said I felt my children had been sold? I learned that the U.S. market for education is one of the most lucrative – bigger than energy or technology by one account – especially in light of these new national standards that not only create economy of scale for education vendors, but require schools to purchase all new materials, tests and related technology. Almost everything the schools had was suddenly outdated.
When I discovered that the vendors with the biggest market share and in the position to profit the most from this new regulation had actually helped write or finance the standards, the mama bear inside me ROARED!
Could it be that the new standards had more to do with profit than what was best for students? Good thing for their shareholders they were able to avoid a messy process involving parents or their legislative representatives.
As I kept note of the vast sums of money exchanging hands in connection with these standards with none of it going to address the critical needs of my local school – I felt cheated.
When I was told that the end would justify the means, that it was for the common good of our children and our society, and to sit back and trust that they had my children’s best interests at heart – they lost my trust.
As I listened to the Governor and education policy makers on a state and national level speak about my children and their education in terms of tracking, alignment, workforce, and human capital – I was offended.
When I was told that this is a done deal, and there was nothing as a parent or citizen that I could do about it – I was motivated.
Finally, I learned one more very important thing. I am not the only one who feels this way. Across the nation parents grandparents and other concerned citizens are educating themselves, sharing what they have learned and coming together. The problem is, it is not happening fast enough. Digging through all the evidence, as I have done, takes a lot of time – far more time than the most people are able to spend. In order to help, I summarized what I thought was some of the most important information into a flowchart so that others could see at a glance what I was talking about.
I am not asking you to take my word for it. I want people to check the references and question the sources. I am not asking for a vote or for money. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do believe with all my heart that a decision that affects the children of almost every state in the country should not be made without a much broader discussion, validated research, and much greater input from parents and citizens than it was originally afforded.
If you agree I encourage you to share this information. Post it, pin it, email it, tweet it.
No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.

Below is a graphic compiled by Mrs. Williams depicting the Common Core money flow in Utah:



Friday, May 17, 2013

Now Playing at a School Near You [Caution: Adult Theme]

Do you really know what's going on in your child's school?

This video below was played at a local middle school during math class without parental knowledge or consent.

You'll want to watch through the end. 



The "Anti-bullying" movement has its roots in this lobby. 

Know what you're signing onto when you support these things.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Answer to Our Crisis!


Wisdom and warning, as well as the answer to our current national crisis, from the Foundation for American Christian Education...

Is Tyranny Lurking Around the Corner?

"Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
- Thomas Jefferson

Last week, President Obama addressed the 2013 graduating class at Ohio State University. In a feeble effort to educate the newly-coined graduates in citizenship, the President commented, “Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems…. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”

Although on the surface the president’s attempt to encourage citizenship and belief in “good government” seems admirable, historically American citizenship is based on constant care of the principles that uphold liberty and by giving vigilant attention to the enemies of freedom.

In remembering our nation’s founding, we might recall that the reasons that sparked the Revolutionary War were based on forces of tyranny. Fortunately, the colonists were schooled in Biblical thinking—that the equality and rights of men are natural, essential and unalienable, and that the security of life, liberty and property should be the firm foundation of every good government.

Our aim should not be to serve government, trust government or even reject government, but our focus should be on improving our God-given talents and applying those talents to industry, education, business and government for the use and benefit of society. That worthy goal is best served in a nation that is free, and by individuals who are self-governed.

Self-government by a people strong in moral character, fidelity, patriotism and integrity is the first practice of citizenship, and naturally leads to an interest in the welfare of their fellow Americans. It is essential to know that tyranny does indeed “lurk just around the corner” and only the continual practice of the principles of liberty, vigilance and knowledge of our natural rights, secured by the Constitution, will be our first and possibly only protection against tyranny.

Do not reject the voices that warn of tyranny, but as foreshadowed by Thomas Jefferson that even the best forms of government can be perverted, be watchful to guard liberty, our most sacred trust.

[Emphasis mine.]

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Outrage of Injustice

The Obama administration, all the Democrats, and too many of the Republicans are salivating all over themselves trying to be the first "compassionate" party to provide widespread amnesty for all previous, current, and future illegals in America. 

In case you're so naive that it has to be spelled out for you: It's purely for political gain - to court that population and win their vote for life. 

And why not? That blueprint has worked exceedingly well for the Democrats for the past 50 years. 

[An aside: Here's a little bit of history, at no charge, that you won't hear in our Progressive Institutions of Indoctrination which we refer to as Public Schools - my 20 years there earned me the right to bestow that title.

Rewind back to the late 1950s - early 1960s. Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower twice proposed and signed civil rights acts into law, but not without much opposition from Congressional Democrats. And who even led a Senate filibuster opposing it?

Democrat Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Baines Johnson.

"But he's the president who signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act," you say.

First of all, there were several. That was the only one signed by a Democrat...and with a glaring admission:

"These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.” LBJ

As he outlined his massive government-dependence welfare scheme, he touted:

“I'll have those n*****s voting Democratic for the next 200 years." LBJ

Now, I ask you, does that sound like a man who has a love for his fellow man?

But it worked. And the Democrats have been known as the party for civil rights ever since.]

But, on this very day, as our politicians hammer out hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of legalese pages trying to prove their love and compassion for illegal immigrants, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is going out of its way to give one lawful immigrant family the boot.

Is it because they came here legally? Is it because they don't have a need nor do they want our welfare handouts? Is it because they are Christians? Is it because they home educate? Is it because their vote isn't for sale? Or is it because this family's worldview clashes with that of the government's?

The Romeike family fled their homeland Germany because homeschooling is illegal there. That community is under much persecution in Germany, and too often, children have been removed from their families to be placed in foster homes and even mental institutions.

If the Romeikes return to Germany, they will be severely punished and have their children removed.

They came to the US legally (their first mistake?) seeking asylum. A judge granted it to them, and they were golden. 

Enter President Obama and minions. The DOJ actually intervened to appeal the judge's decision, arguing that parents have no inherent right to educate their children as they see fit.

US Attorney General, Eric Holder, the highest law enforcer in the land has expressed that banning home education would not violate any fundamental liberties.

Did you catch that, parents? if you think this is only about homeschooling, begin reading this article again and pause at the instructions for the naive.

Through it all, President Obama remains silent as to why he wants to deport this family.

Yes, I'm cynical and I'm angry - no, livid. And why aren't more of you??

The irony of it all is nauseating to me. I am exhausted by politicians claiming to care for "Little Guy" (and getting by with it with the 60-second news-bite, distracted public) while their actions demonstrate otherwise.

Why are governments insistent that they dictate a child's education? What happens when that dictate conflicts with the conscience of the parents? Whose children are they anyway? Who is the final arbitrator? In the end, is the government responsible for the child?

Through the decades, we Americans have ceded more and more God-given liberties to our government. Where we find ourselves now is the logical progression. Just where does it end?

We must ask the tough questions, especially in light of the DOJ's position on this case and the current Common Core battle over who controls education, the federal government and a couple private entities or parents and local schools.

Remember that inscription on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty?
"Give me your tired, your poor,your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
"Send these, the homeless, tempest-sty to me, I lift up my lamp beside the golden door!"
Once a symbol for welcoming the likes of the Romeikes...no more.

Please share this article, tell others, sign the petition. Tell your congressmen to put aside their election concerns with amnesty and instead fight to keep the legal Romeike immigrants in America.

Let's see if they care enough for "Little Guy" when it's not about his vote.

Learn more and sign the petition here.







Sunday, May 12, 2013

Why the "Liberty Bellow"?

I thought along with the debut of the Liberty Bellow blog it would be helpful to us all to look at the definitions of those words, liberty and bellow.

I've learned over the past few years that studying the original meaning and intent of words really unlocks the word and allows for perspicuity, "that quality of writing or language which readily presents to the mind of another the precise ideas of the author, the first excellence of writing or speaking.


Here you'll discover the joys of using Webster's 1828 Dictionary.



Liberty

n. [L. libertas, from liber, free.]

Civil liberty, is the liberty of men in a state of society...only abridged and restrained as is necessary and expedient for the safety and interest of the society, state or nation.

A restraint of natural liberty, not necessary or expedient for the public, is tyranny or oppression.

Civil liberty is an exemption from the arbitrary will of others, which exemption is secured by established laws, which restrain every man from injuring or controlling another. Hence the restraints of law are essential to civil liberty.

Religious liberty, is the free right of adopting and enjoying opinions on religious subjects, and of worshiping the Supreme Being according to the dictates of conscience, without external control.

Bellow

v.i. [L.balo.] To roar, as the sea in a tempest

n. A loud outcry; roar.


Hopefully, that will give you a little understanding as to why the Liberty Bellow exists.

Enjoy the time we share together!

Photo courtesy Hillsdale College



Saturday, May 4, 2013

Liberty Bellow Blog Debuts!

Welcome to the debut of the Liberty Bellow blog.





In 2010, many close friends suggested that I start blogging in order to reach more people with the things that incite passion in me - namely, the exceptional nation that is America and the liberty it affords every citizen. My Facebook page, The Liberty Bellow, was birthed from that prodding of friends. 


Now, in an effort to expand my reach with the concepts of liberty through education, prayer, and action, I'm entering the blogging world. 


I once was in slumber. I enjoyed the freedoms of this land without even being aware of them. I traveled the world and began to gain a greater appreciation for the uniqueness of America. 


As time marched, my eyes opened more and more to the enemies of liberty. It dawned on me that liberty is akin to marriage: If you don't work to protect it, it erodes.


That is why I'm here. Most people I know are still asleep, desperately caught up in the busyness of life, even doing good, but not aware that they are on the cusp of losing the very things they hold so dear. 


I pray that through knowledge Americans will awake from their slumber, repent of their apathy, and be stirred to prayer and action.


"if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 1Chronicles 7:14


Approximately 75% of Americans claim the name of Jesus Christ, identifying themselves as Christians. Those are the people to whom I speak. It is up to us to follow 1 Chronicles 7:14 if we want to heal our land.


Will you join me? Will you share what you learn with others? Will you help awaken America?

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty 
to study mathematics and philosophy. 
~ John Adams