Monday, June 27, 2011

Happy Birthday to US

Happy Birthday to US
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 27, 2011

“The Declaration of Independence [is the] declaratory charter of our rights, and the rights of man.” – Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826); Founding Father; credited author of said document and third American president.

A housekeeping note – I dislike the expression “happy fourth of July.” Happy Independence Day is the correct expression or happy birthday America is acceptable. We the people are celebrating our independence from the tyrannical shackles of King George III and that of England. Every country has a fourth of July, but not every country has independence.

The long road toward independence did not end on July 4, 1776 – that was merely the date we the people declared enough was enough from England. Enough taxation without representation, enough quartering British soldiers at colonist’s expense, enough passing of laws unilaterally without regard to their effect on the people, enough denying the people local representation who would understand the needs and problems the colonists faced, enough deprivation of trial by jury to the people, enough denying the people the right to trade freely with other international partners, and enough of the general and overall usurpation of rights and freedoms, at a whim, given to free people.

Sadly, only 235 years since that declaration, this country finds itself once again at a crossroads fighting against a government that refuses to listen to the people. We the people have a government more strongly supporting eminent domain than ever before, thinking it knows what is best for the people. We the people have a government hell bent on stealing our freedoms one by one by denying us the right to make our own decisions regarding health care.

“I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.” – Thomas Jefferson. Imagine what he would think of the monstrosity called the federal government in 2011 instead of 1811. The bigger the government, the more far-reaching into our pockets and the firmer the grip it has on our rights and freedoms.

Both major political parties are complicit in allowing our borders to remain porous and unchecked. Both parties have taxed and spent this country into ever deepening debt and deficits that virtually all its members are complicit in not just stealing from the American people, but from future generations. More than 80 percent of the acts committed by the Congress – those elected members of the federal government we sent to represent us – are actually unconstitutional.

While on the subject of what is or is not constitutional, message to Barack Obama: spreading the wealth around: unconstitutional. “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.” – Founding Father James Madison (1751-1836); credited author of the United States Constitution and fourth American president.

“Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” – Thomas Jefferson; The Declaration of Independence. Those who seek our support and votes are also answerable to us as well. They must be held accountable every day – they work for us – not the other way around.

Heed this message: don’t let the other guy worry about our country – take personal responsibility – learn about candidates and vote on Election Day – every year – not just in presidential elections. The ignorant can be enslaved, the learned can prevent tyranny.

Tyranny can also be prevented by the preparation and strength of our defenses. We have our freedoms because of the determination of a military willing to sacrifice their most precious and ultimate gifts – their lives – then, as well as today. From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan and all wars and conflicts in between, it is the military – the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and reservists that preserve our rights and freedoms and enable us to live in peace in the United States.

“To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” – Founding Father George Washington (1732-1799); Revolutionary War general and first American president.

Independence forever.” – The last public words of John Adams (1735-1826); Founding Father who, for some time, stood alone in pushing for Independence from England before it became popular and second American president. The nation mourned the loss of Adams and his friend and rival Jefferson simultaneously as the two giants died on July 4, 1826.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. The 10 year City resident still keeps a finger on the pulse of Alexandria.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Jersey's Cafe - Not Worth the Wait

Jersey’s Café – Not Worth the Wait
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 17, 2011

As a native of New Jersey, if you are thinking of dining out at Jersey’s Café in Carmel, I say, “fugetabout it.”

Hearing high praise about the small restaurant on North Meridian Street, I went last weekend for a slice of the Garden State and opted for take-out. While cognizant of the hour-plus wait for food, according to a sign on the door, there was no sign indicating one needn’t wait in line to place a to-go order. With only two groups of four in front of me, it was still a half hour before reaching the counter.

Upon reaching the counter, I had a menu-related question and the person to whom I was addressing walked away in mid-question, as did the next person. The reputation of the lousy Jersey attitude is most pervasive in this establishment and a good reason why I no longer live in NJ.

I eventually placed an order for a meatball sub and requested in simple, plain English that there not be any peppers in my meal. I was informed my wait time would be an hour and fifteen minutes.

I returned a few minutes prior to my food being ready so it wouldn’t sit waiting for me. Getting home in roughly 10 minutes, I opened my container to find three meatballs surrounded by sauce chock full of peppers atop the soggiest bread possible. The three meatballs were hard as rocks and dry as a bone, sauce notwithstanding – a virtually inedible meal.

Too tired to return that night, two days later, with receipt in tow, I spoke with Donna, a manager and explained my miserable experience. I specifically asked to speak with her away from the counter so our conversation would not be overheard. Donna took a defensive posture, telling me there have never been any complaints about the food or the service. ( has at least eight complaint stories lodged since April alone.)

Donna then said she wished there were something she could do for me. I said, there is, but you have chosen not to. As a manager, she could have done virtually anything to satisfy an unhappy customer – refund my money, offer me a fresh sandwich gratis, offer me a coupon/gift card for a future visit, etc.

She then said something that made me laugh – that she hoped I would come back again.

Not only will I not return to Jersey’s Café, but I hope this column will forewarn unsuspecting restaurant patrons to steer clear of an establishment that does not believe in customer service, does not believe the customer is right, cannot get orders correct or provide decent food.

Jersey’s Café is playing on their reputation that was enhanced by Guy Fieri on his Food Network program Diner, Drive-ins & Dives. To paraphrase Andy Warhol, for Jersey’s Café, their 15 minutes is over.  

Sanford D. Horn is an educator and writer living in Westfield, IN.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

We, the Anthem Singers

We, the Anthem Singers
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 11, 2011

Patriotic kudos to Robert Giannini of Indianapolis for his most eloquently written and passionate LTTE of Friday, June 10, 2011 (The national anthem is…).

For far too long the song that should cause Americans to swell with pride has forced us to grimace in embarrassment at the bastardization and butchery of the Star Spangled Banner. So-called entertainers have more than reinterpreted the tune, but have added words Francis Scott Key never wrote or omitted words he did write.

Giannini rightly suggested that we the people conduct a coup and take back the anthem and sing it loud and proud at sporting events et al. In fact, Giannini’s timing was impeccable. Prior to Friday night’s NHL Stanley Cup game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins, the American and Canadian national anthems were sung exceptionally well – with one twist.

The singer of the Star Spangled Banner sang the anthem as intended. Then, the singer of O Canada, following the first verse, gave way to the crowd in a way that would have made Giannini proud. The hockey fans in Vancouver launched into their anthem in full-throated song as if they had just won the Cup, Olympic gold and a war all in one fell swoop.

We the people of the United States should have such pride and dominion over our anthem.

Sanford D. Horn is an educator and writer living in Westfield, IN.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Culture of the Cover Up - A Tricky Spin on Weiner

The Culture of the Cover Up – A Tricky Spin on Weiner
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 9, 2011

A Weiner by any other name is still a Nixon.

In this, the month of the cover up of all cover ups, US Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) should have learned a lesson from history that the cover up and subsequent lies are typically worse than the original act.

June 17, 1972 – a date that should have lived in obscurity was the Watergate break-in – the name that would lend itself to political scandals henceforth and forever more. Travel-gate, Monica-gate, Nanny-gate, Trooper-gate, and now, Weenie-gate, which will no doubt permeate the nightmares of many for some time to come.

Watergate – a third-rate burglary by the famed “Plumbers” unit, whether authorized or not by President Richard M. Nixon lead to the unraveling of his presidency. Not because of the break-in, but because of the lies and cover up that ensued.

Nixon’s own psyche and deep-rooted paranoia lead to his ultimate undoing and subsequent resignation on August 9, 1974. All Nixon had to do was to announce what the five burglars had done, have them prosecuted and then pardon them following the reelection in November of 1972. Watergate would have been a forgotten footnote of history and Nixon would have completed his term in office.

Instead, the lies and cover up lead to the first presidential resignation in United States history. Nixon was, as many are, too concerned what the public would think of him. His was a special brand of paranoia – he didn’t like people, but in public life was forced to be surrounded by them. He believed his closest confidants were out to get him.

And arrogance knew no bounds as it did with “Tricky Dick,” a nickname Nixon acquired going back to the days of his U.S. Senate campaign against Helen Gahagan Douglas in California in 1950 – a race he won handily 59 percent to 41 percent. Nixon told British journalist David Frost in a post-presidential interview, “It’s not against the law when the president does it.”

Congressman Weiner may not have broken the law, but he certainly leads the league in arrogance. He said he will not resign, and that is his choice. But Weiner has also given his constituents a choice too – send an arrogant troll back to Congress to represent their best interests, or send him a message that deviant behavior should not be rewarded with the responsibility of elected office.

Supposedly George Washington could not tell a lie and Abraham Lincoln’s moniker was “Honest Abe.” Some myths of history are worth both perpetuating as well as emulating.

Sanford D. Horn is an educator and writer living in Westfield, IN.

[This column appeared in the Current in Westfield.]

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Skipping Senior year - A Step in the Wrong Direction

Skipping Senior Year – A Step in the Wrong Direction
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 8, 2011

With remedial classes overflowing with unprepared so-called college students, the notion of permitting them to skip their senior year in high school is terribly irresponsible.

That Governor Mitch Daniels is relying upon the conversations with relatively immature high school students to determine a need for legislation that passed in April to allow for the aforementioned senior year skip is also irresponsible. (“Skip senior year, go right to college – or not?” June 7, 2011)

The passage of such legislation allows for rising seniors who have completed their core requirements to bypass their last year of high school and head off to college. Nothing is said of earning the requisite number of credits required for graduation. Such legislation will prove deleterious to the affected students.

With the educational crisis the United States as a whole is mired in, students should be required to take more, not fewer, classes in the areas of American History, government, mathematics, English, writing, basic business and ethics, foreign language and science. This would better prepare the students for the rigors of the college classroom, as well as the so-called real world.

The United States’ ranking versus other countries is both embarrassing and demoralizing. How does the richest country on earth justify cities whose schools graduate 30.5 percent of its students? ( That is a recent figure regarding the Indianapolis schools. In Alexandria, VA, from where I just moved, the graduation rate was 70.4 percent – and that is in a school system spending $18,323 per pupil, one of the highest figures in the Commonwealth of Virginia. (

Governor Daniels’ plan is not a cost cutting measure either. His plan is to use the money saved by not having that senior in a high school classroom; that money would be used by that same student to attend college. This plan is suspect, as funding for high school and for college comes from different sources.

American high school students are already ill-prepared for life on a college campus as the Star article denotes. “Slightly more than half of students at public four-year schools graduated in six years, and only 29 percent did so in four years.” Juniors bypassing their senior year will not improve those statistics.

These students will be a year younger and certainly a year less mature than the traditional college freshman. They will, for the most part, still maintain friendships with their current friends who will be seniors in high school. They will miss activities such as homecoming, the senior prom and other rites of passage that they will forfeit in bypassing their senior year.

Instead of listening to rising high school seniors bemoan their boredom and then shipping them off to college, they need greater challenges their senior year to better prepare them for college. The core curriculum needs to be expanded.

Balance the left brain and the right brain with more art and music classes. More, assuming there are any in the first place. Add classes on economics and ethics. Certainly tomorrow’s leaders can’t be any worse than the current crop of miscreants held up as alleged role models. As a society we can do better than the Bernie Madoffs, Rod Blagojeviches and the Anthony Weiners of the world.

Add more skill-based electives such as journalism, photography, graphic arts, more computer classes, more industrial arts and home economics. High school should be a place where a student gets as well-rounded education as possible so that he or she can make better informed decisions about what to study in college. Once in college students will hone in on a particular major and course of study they will have chosen having experienced a myriad subject matter in high school.

To those critics who suggest the costs will outweigh the benefits, a public-private partnership should be considered.

School systems could hire professional musicians to teach music and float from campus to campus, thus needing fewer of them. The same with professional artists, chefs, journalists, businessmen, etc. Their fulltime employers would pick up the tab for these part-time teachers and would get a tax write off for that value.

This would be a win-win situation. High school students would be exposed to a greater selection of educational materials and employers providing these instructors would benefit from the positive publicity as being active members of the community. The schools, of course, would need to provide some training in classroom management – but that is something from which all teachers would benefit.

From personal experience as a middle and high school teacher of social studies and American history, I welcomed a member of the business community into the classroom as part of the Junior Achievement program. I would then incorporate those visits into my curriculum and lesson plans.

A segment of Friday’s classes would be dedicated to a stock market competition amongst my classes and students divided into teams. This not only had history and economics components, but was cross-curricular with the math classes as well. The experience proved both fun and educational for the students who left with additional skills that they might not ordinarily have gotten.

With the educational crisis in the United States reaching pandemic stages, we, as educators, parents, business leaders and yes, even elected officials, must reinvent the wheel, or there may not be anyone capable of steering the school bus to the front door of the school.

Sanford D. Horn is an educator with a Master’s in Education living in Westfield, IN.