Saturday, June 30, 2012

Is Chief Justice Roberts Souter Redux?

“We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.” – President Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address, Tuesday, January 20, 1981

Is Chief Justice Roberts Souter Redux?
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 30, 2012

In an 11th hour twist seen by most so-called experts and pundits as unexpected, the Affordable Health Care Act, a.k.a. Obama Care, has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court. The individual mandate has been declared constitutional in a five to four decision authored by none other than Chief Justice John Roberts.

Roberts, a heretofore reliable conservative appointed by former President George W. Bush, wrote in his majority opinion, that while the individual mandate did not stand up to the constitutional smell test under either the Commerce Clause or the necessary and Proper Clause, it did however, pass muster as a tax.

Slice and dice it six ways from Sunday, this irresponsible decision by a feckless majority of the high court’s jurists, has given the federal government carte blanche to dictate medical decisions over the states and over the American people. Siding with Roberts are the usual liberal suspects: Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. The four dissenting justices were Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

With Roberts, there is the eerily similar turn a la former Justice David Souter, a 1990 appointment of President George H. W. Bush. Souter seen as a conservative became a reliable liberal jurist on the high court until his retirement in 2009. Will Roberts follow Souter as another Bush appointment to disappoint? Or will this landmark decision simply prove to be an aberration? Time will tell.

Regardless of how the individual mandate crossed the finish line, this is largely seen as a victory for the Obama administration. This has been his signature piece of legislation defining his term thus far. Largely seen, because the administration must now defend the largest tax increase in the history of the republic.

Yet, the so-called Affordable Health Care Act has been repeatedly defended by Obama saying, “This is absolutely not a tax increase.” His campaign mantra in 2008 had been that “taxes would not be raised by one thin dime.”

The federal government now has the constitutional authority to levy a tax on those people who chose not to purchase a health insurance policy. The American people can now be punished for opting not to buy something.

For adults with no coverage this translates into one percent of one’s income or $95 in 2014; two percent or $325 in 2015 and two and a half percent or $695 in 2016. Notice how the taxing penalties don’t take effect until after the 2012 presidential election? Wonder why? Wonder no more.

According to The Indianapolis Star “The IRS can’t prosecute violators or place liens against them; its only enforcement option may be withholding money from refunds.” (June 29, 2012; A-1)

Here’s a damn good suggestion folks: adjust your withholding by amending the W-4 form filed with employers. Have less money deducted from paychecks so there won’t be a refund coming to you the following April. This will do two positive things: put more money in your pockets every pay period and deny the federal government an interest free loan given them by overpaying your taxes. Sure, you may have to write a check to the IRS in April, but, better that than the possibility of the government stealing your refund because you choose not to purchase a product the government is forcing you to buy.

The Roberts’ Court decision on health care is precedent setting in that the federal government can now potentially mandate that we the people should be forced to buy a certain brand of vehicle that suits the administrations’ green agenda. Or perhaps a future Republican administration wishes to mandate that everyone must purchase a firearm to help keep police costs at bay.

Another disturbing aspect of the government seizure of health care is that it is about to hire an additional 16,000 IRS agents to enforce this legislation, proving that it is in fact, a tax. After all, the IRS is in the business of collecting taxes. This is more money spent, that we the people are funding, when the government is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

Not only do a majority of the American people oppose Obama Care – the tax, but the medical profession is widely against it, many suggesting they will not be able to afford to keep their practices open. Costs will surely rise and fewer qualified doctors will remain in the profession.

Obama will need to defend this largest tax increase in American history in his campaign for reelection against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. How will he juxtapose his campaign rhetoric of 2008 imploring voters that anyone earning less than $250,000 would not see a tax increase with an acknowledgement from the Supreme Court that Obama’s victory is a tax? That figure then became $200,000.

In reality, Obama Care will institute more than a trillion dollars in new taxes – 75 percent of which to be paid by those earning less than $120,000 and 50 percent of that to be incurred by those brining home between $25,000 and $75,000.

This must not be allowed to stand. In order to generate a repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act, a simple majority in Congress is required in what is known as a reconciliation vote. That would necessitate a minimum of 218 votes to overturn a tax, a.k.a. a budget item. The Republicans must gain a majority in the Senate in order to support their Congressional brethren, should this come down to a partisan vote, which it almost guarantees to do.

This is an attack on the liberty of a free people whose freedoms are eroding partly due to the expediency of entitlements and partly due to a lack of knowledge of American History and the Constitution. If we do not save ourselves, who will?

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Supremes Weaken National Security in AZ Case

Supremes Weaken National Security in AZ Case
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 26, 2012

In a severe blow to states’ rights and sovereignty, the Supreme Court has effectively tied the hands of the State of Arizona from enforcing SB 1070 – the illegal immigration law officially entitled “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.”

The Supreme Court ruled that the State of Arizona interfered with Congressional authority over the borders of the United States. Yet, the Grand Canyon State passed legislation in the best interest of its citizens and legal residents. Congress, and by extension, the federal government as a whole, has either refused to do its job or has done so in such a poor manner as to necessitate Arizona to do for themselves what the feds have not or would not.

Porous borders, too few border patrol agents, and a feckless Justice Department unwilling to do its job of halting illegal immigration, made it incumbent upon the states, whether Arizona, via SB 1070, or any other legislative acts, to do what the federal government refuses to do.

Yet, the Supreme Court, in cherry-picking where the federal government’s responsibilities lie and do not lie, has long accepted the existence, and uncooperative behavior of, sanctuary cities that would juxtapose the ruling it handed down on June 25. No city declaring itself a sanctuary should be entitled a single dollar of federal funding. For those who think that punishment is Draconian, that is the severity of the scourge of illegal immigration deleterious to the security of the United States.

And yet, “We will not be issuing detainers on people unless they meet our priorities,” was a statement from the Barack Hussein Obama administration. Those priorities are to turn a blind eye on any illegal who has not committed a crime, according to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. BEING IN THIS COUNTRY ILLEGALLY IS A CRIME! As the former Arizona governor, Napolitano should understand the challenges faced in that state and the region as a whole.

“There has come to pass, and is with us today, the specter that Arizona… predicted: A Federal Government that does not want to enforce the immigration laws as written, and leaves the States’ borders unprotected…. So the issue is a stark one. Are the sovereign States at the mercy of the Federal Executive’s refusal to enforce the Nation’s immigration laws?” asked Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in writing his minority opinion.

The frightening answer is YES, the states are indeed at the mercy of the federal executive – a federal executive who has balked at every opportunity to close loopholes providing illegals with free and unfettered medical care, food stamps, education for their children and citizenship for children born in the United States, thanks to a weak interpretation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

A “patchwork of state laws is not a solution – it’s part of the problem,” said Obama in defending the indefensible – continuing to support sanctuary cities and the striking down of three of the four main provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070. Obama expressed his opposition even prior to Governor Jan Brewer (R) boldly signing the bill into law in 2010. Obama has, for political purposes, opposed efforts to combat illegal immigration.

Obama’s pandering to the Hispanic community, which is not monolithic, is actually insulting all Hispanic-Americans who immigrated to the United States legally. It insults them on two levels: that their legal immigration is meaningless and that just because the illegals in question are predominantly Hispanic, their legal brethren would welcome them with open arms.

“The government of the United States has broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens,” wrote Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy in his majority opinion. “Immigration policy can affect trade, investment, tourism and diplomatic relations for the entire nation,” continued Kennedy for Chief Justice John Roberts, along with associate justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor in a five to three decision. Associate Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from this case having served as Solicitor General during the litigation stages. (

Three of the four components of SB 1070 were struck down:

Section Three, defeated six to two with Associate Justice Samuel Alito joining the aforementioned majority, would have declared it a state crime if immigrants failed to register with the federal government or failed to carry a required registration card.

Quite frankly, if all legal residents and citizens were required to carry a photo ID, be it a drivers’ license, which cannot legally be obtained by illegals, or another official federal ID, there would be fewer problems and would also eliminate the voter ID issue.

In the case of sections Five-C and Six, Alito joined the minority of associate justices Scalia and Clarence Thomas in the five to three decisions.

Section Five-C would have made it a crime for an illegal alien to solicit work if not authorized to work in the United States. A jail sentence would have accompanied that crime.

Denying the legality of this section of SB 1070 puts the onus completely on the shoulders of the employers, who, according to federal law, are punishable for hiring illegals. The only saving grace for employers would be if illegals used forged documentation or perjured themselves in an effort to garner employment.

Striking this portion of SB 1070 is practically a free pass for foreigners to continue invading the United States in hopes of finding employment, thus defrauding the country they claim to wish to join. Such a violation should be countered with deportation and inclusion on a data base which lists all such violators. Should the violation be repeated, jail time should be the next penalty with a concomitant reduction in aid to the miscreant’s country of origin.

Section Six would have granted state and local law enforcement the right to arrest immigrants in some cases without a warrant. Granted, there are times when an arrest without a warrant is imperative, but it should apply to immigrants and natives alike equally.

The majority “deprives States of what most would consider the defining characteristic of sovereignty: the power to exclude from the sovereign’s territory people who have no right to be there,” Scalia opined in the minority. (

It can’t get simpler than that. In other words, what part of illegal does the executive branch of the federal government not understand? What part of illegal do justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kennedy, Roberts, and Sotomayor not understand? One does not need a law degree or teach constitutional law to comprehend this basic concept.

What was upheld by the High Court was Section Two-B: maintaining state and local law enforcements’ authority to determine the immigration status of anyone stopped under suspicion of committing another crime. This provision, known as status-check, is rather weak, as it does not include any authority to hold illegals without federal permission.

In spite of the weakness of the upheld portion of SB 1070, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio offered his spin on the partial victory. “It shows cops can ask someone if they’re here illegally when you stop them for another crime,” said the sheriff known for his dogged determination to fight illegal immigration. (

“The State has the sovereign power to protect its borders more rigorously if it wishes, absent any valid prohibition. The Executive’s policy choice of lax federal enforcement does not constitute such a provision… If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign State,” wrote Scalia in his minority opinion.

Scalia, as per his usual, presents so eloquent an opinion; it is baffling how it was not supported by the five justices in the majority. Only those with an agenda similar to that of Obama could possibly object, and they did, in effect endangering the security of the United States.

With the potential retirements of swing voter Kennedy and reliable conservative Scalia during the next presidential term, all the more reason for the defeat of Obama and the election of Mitt Romney. Romney may not be the darling of the conservatives, but he will presumably make more intelligent Supreme Court appointments than Obama.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pelosi Insanely Links Fast & Furious with Voter Suppression

Pelosi Insanely Links Fast & Furious with Voter Suppression
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 21, 2012

US Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s cheese has finally slipped off its cracker. Her elevator is officially not rising to the top floor. She is without a doubt one taco shy of a full combination plate.

To understand what brought on this barrage of “platitudes” toward Pelosi, all one need do is listen to the absolutely convoluted speech she gave on Thursday in response to the decision made Wednesday by the Congressional Oversight and Government Reform Committee to charge Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt of Congress.

“They [the Republicans] are going after Eric Holder because he is trying to overturn voter suppression in the states. This is the plan,” said Pelosi, the House Minority Leader.

In continuing with what she called a “theory,” Pelosi made the illogical and emotional leap from a legitimate charge against a stonewalling Holder, who refuses to provide a congressional committee with the necessary documents to investigate the Fast and Furious gun scandal, to the accusation that the GOP is hell bent on stifling the vote of liberals and minorities.

“These very same people are holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote. They are closely allied with those who are suffocating the system – unlimited special interests – secret money – and they are poisoning the debate. This is no accident. This is their plan,” said Pelosi in a rambling finger-pointing screed.

US Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) called Pelosi’s comments “beneath the office of Congress,” and “mind-numbingly stupid.”

There must be a separation between Holder’s involvement in the Fast and Furious scandal cover-up and the Holder that is attempting to prevent states from performing their duties of purging their voter rolls of those who should not be permitted to vote. In both cases Holder is wrong. Both cases are supremely significant, but the two are unrelated.

The case before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee pertains to the Fast and Furious gun scandal that put thousands of guns in the hands of Mexicans – criminals, drug dealers and cartel leaders and other miscreant thugs – from the United States government. Both AG Holder and Barack Obama claimed no knowledge of such a transaction. Holder continued his denials when questioned about who did have such knowledge, who did allow for such a criminal operation to occur. Taking a page out of the Bill Clinton playbook, Holder continued to deny, deny, deny.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is chaired by US Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). His repeated pressing for the thousands upon thousands of documents related to Fast and Furious were arrogantly rejected time and again by Holder, who not only owes answers to the committee, the American people, but to Josephine and Ken Terry.

Josephine and Ken Terry are the parents of the late Brian Terry, a heroic border agent murdered by guns linked to the Fast and Furious scandal in 2010. Two guns found at his body are linked to those firearms released into the hands of nefarious sources in the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious program. This administration is responsible for the murder of border agent Brian Terry.

“They’re lying and hiding it,” said Ken Terry, interviewed by Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

Compounding the scandal, Obama declared Executive Privilege, further impeding the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s ability to collect the documents that Holder is obligated to present.

“The decision to invoke Executive Privilege is an admission that White House officials were involved in decisions that misled the Congress and have covered up the truth,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH).

Meanwhile, the flip side of the Pelosi ramblings and illogical accusations, claim it is the GOP that is attempting to suppress votes by performing legal operations of purging the rolls. It is not, as Pelosi said, “suffocating the system,” to ensure voter fairness by preventing illegals from casting votes that would dilute the power of votes cast by citizens. Nor is it “a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote” when certain states are purging the names of the deceased to ensure their names are not used by people committing voter fraud by casting a ballot in those names.

It is neither a scheme to suppress the vote nor a plan to suffocate the system to require ALL voters to present a photo ID at the polling places – something Holder has been fighting calling such a requirement racist.

This is simply a scheme by the Obama administration to deflect from the disastrous economy, high rates of unemployment, high misery index, ever-rising gas prices and an unwillingness to do what is right by the American people.

The Fast and Furious scandal and subsequent cover-up is making Watergate look like child’s play and the “third rate burglary” as had been described as for the past 40 years. Watergate was wrong; but nobody died.

Clearly, there is blood on the hands of the Obama administration. Where is the openness and transparency promised by Obama ad nauseum?

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Daniels a Coup for Purdue

Daniels a Coup for Purdue
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 20, 2012

For those of us disappointed he opted to sit on the sidelines for the 2012 GOP presidential nominating cavalcade, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will in fact, become president – of Purdue University.

In selecting the Monongahela, PA native as its 12th president, Purdue welcomes a major league name to lead an engineering-based institution in a major league conference – the Big Ten. Daniels, 63, no stranger to the limelight, but who tends to shy away from the cameras, is far from aloof as he has a good personality, wry sense of humor and is rather cerebral.

Daniels commands tremendous respect from people and as such carries with him the ability to assemble a winning team – something that helped make him a successful two-term governor. That, along with his connections, will surely compensate for his lack of experience in the academic arena.

Daniels will overcome whatever learning curve and shortcomings his critics aver simply by listening to their experience-based suggestions. After all, they will want Daniels to succeed as a non-partisan university president which is a less combative position than governor. The only hope of failure could emerge from spiteful academic elitists who oppose a Republican or of course 11 other Big Ten rivals!

He will also succeed by staying true to his fiscal roots of budget cutting and overall penurious demeanor. Daniels brings to West Lafayette solid business acumen, including his time as a senior executive at Eli Lilly and tenure as director of the federal Office of Management and Budget.

Daniels should fast become a favorite of students as the governor has worked strenuously to keep costs down and supports making college affordable for all students. He played an active role in increasing the visibility of Western Governor’s University here in Indiana. And he’s no academic slouch himself, earning his bachelor’s degree at Princeton University and his law degree at Georgetown University.

With college and university costs continuing to skyrocket, “Our Man Mitch,” may very well be the answer not just for Purdue but as an example for how it might be done on campuses across the nation. Daniels could very well leave a stronger legacy in academia than in government.

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

Friday, June 15, 2012

Obama Opens Front Door for Illegals

Obama Opens Front Door for Illegals
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 15, 2012

Another disgraceful decision by the insipid Obama administration is to be implemented immediately. In a continuing attempt to redistribute wealth and hamstring legal residents and American citizens, amnesty-lite is being awarded to upwards of 800,000 illegals who are lawbreakers simply by their mere presence in the United States.

Young illegals - defined as under age 30, will no longer be deported, but instead be given work permits - because the unemployment figures are so damn low - provided they meet certain criteria: in the US for five years prior to age 16, graduated from a US high school or earned a GED, or served in the military, and having no criminal record.

FYI – stepping one foot on American soil MAKES an illegal a criminal. This is an executive order, unilaterally issued by Obama, bypassing Congress and violating the separation of powers once again. The dictator in chief has spoken. We cannot oust the unctuous Obama fast enough. This must be overturned on January 20, 2013 for the sake of the nation, for the sake of the republic and for the sake of our economic survival.

This only opens the flood gates further. How stupid is this latest scheme just based on the recent announcement that the newest graduates are facing unemployment above 30 percent? This only rewards bad behavior, whether the "young" person's or their criminal parents. That the announcement is coming from the Department of Homeland Security also does not bode well as this is a national security issue.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said we are a nation of laws when announcing Obama’s latest edict. If that is true, why are lawbreakers being given rights? This most certainly is a political move made by an obsequious administration pandering to a constituency that should oppose this directive with vim and vigor. It absolutely IS amnesty and a slippery slope toward citizenship and suffrage rights. Clearly this violated the rule of law and sets a poor precedent.

For those who support this deplorable decision on the grounds that children should not be punished for the wrongs committed by their parents, consider the concept of “fruit from the poisonous tree.” When a search is deemed illegal by a judge in court, all evidence collected as a result of said search is considered exculpatory and thrown out, not to be considered by a jury when rendering their verdict. Such evidence is deemed “fruit of the poisonous tree.” As such, so should the children of parents who are in the United States illegally. The parents broke the law coming to this country illegally and bringing their children makes them just as illegal, all of whom have no right to remain.

One possible solution to mitigate the concern by those objecting to Obama’s thoughtless decision would be if the aforementioned 800,000 illegals are permitted to remain in the United States, they must register with the government – federal and state as being in the country illegally, not be granted citizenship or enfranchisement rights and any criminal act is a one way ticket back to their country of origin.

Additionally, the parents of these illegals would be required to self-deport in exchange for allowing their children to remain in the United States. Should the parents return to the United States, their children would be deported along with their miscreant parents.

For those who might consider such a plan draconian, law breaking is not to be rewarded and those who violate the statutes of the United States or the several states should be subject to strict punishment to hopefully deter other potential scofflaws to follow in the footsteps of their fellow illegal travelers.

That rumbling under the ground is the sound of the Founding Fathers spinning in their graves like Chanukah dreidls. May G-d save the republic, because mere mortals don't seem to have a chance in hell of doing so.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Proud to be an American - Even at PS 90

Proud to be an American – Even at PS 90
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 12, 2012

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, G-d Bless the USA” – Lee Greenwood, G-d Bless the USA

If there’s an American who takes offense with the Lee Greenwood anthem, G-d Bless the USA, they are heartily invited to pack their bags and find a freer nation in which to live. In other words, America: love it or leave it! After all, no one is forced to be in the United States.

And yet, earlier this week, Greta Hawkins, principal of the Edna Cohen School on Coney Island, NY (PS 90), banned the singing of Greenwood’s song at the upcoming promotion ceremony of kindergarteners to the first grade, saying, “We don’t want to offend other cultures.”

If anything, umbrage should be taken with Hawkins for being more concerned with the reaction of non-American cultures instead of the disappointment of her students who had practiced the song for weeks in preparation of their school year ending program.

So disappointed, that one mother, Luz Lozada appeared on Fox & Friends Monday morning, June 11, with her kindergarten son to express that sadness representing almost all of the parents of the school that is ethnically diverse. Lozada’s son, however, had his moment in the sun as he sang the first verse and the refrain of the Greenwood song on live television.

Lozada said there is a large immigrant population at PS 90 and strong support for the singing of G-d Bless the USA. Instead the Justin Bieber song Baby was deemed a suitable substitute, which is about teenage love and rejection. FYI, a day later, the Bieber song was also scratched.

Greenwood also appeared on the same Fox & Friends program via telephone to discuss the song. Initially it had been reported that Hawkins took issue with the opening line of the song, but that was merely a ruse to deflect from her real concern about culture and the presence of G-d in the song.

“If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life. And I had to start again with just my children and my wife,” is the first line of G-d Bless the USA. Greenwood explained that that stanza is all about the struggle his grandparents faced in losing their family farm.

What could possibly be offensive to any other culture about Greenwood’s G-d Bless the USA? An expression in pride in one’s country? An expression of gratitude to the men and women in uniform who made the ultimate sacrifice? An expression of the beauty of the American country? An expression of the gratitude one has for freedom? Other cultures could be so lucky to have what Americans have in the United States.

If there are legal immigrants in this country who are offended by such a song, their loyalty to the United States must be questioned. If someone chooses the United States, their loyalty ought to be beyond reproach. Likewise, if an American decides to expatriate him or herself, he or she should be loyal to their new country of choice.

Where is our collective sense of patriotism? I am damn proud to be an American and I don’t care what anyone from any other country, culture, continent or corner of the world thinks or says about it, and nor should any other American.

It is not arrogance but confidence in knowing we live in a country that stands for something greater than itself; a nation that is repeatedly there for other countries, friend and foe alike in times of need; generous to a fault; a place where people risk their lives to get into, not sneak out of.

May G-d continue to bless the USA.

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

How Exceptional are We, Really?

How Exceptional are We, Really?
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 12, 2012

In a demonstration of his patriotism, Frank Burns, a somewhat obsequious character on M*A*S*H once commented, “When that flag goes up the pole every morning, I go with it.”

I, too, raise the flag each morning and as one who has taught grades six through college, I was oftentimes the only teacher with an American flag in his or her classroom. But for all the patriotism and all the greatness that is the United States of America, it pains me to report that educationally, we are not exceptional any longer.

While the truth hurts, a bright light must be shone upon it and it must no longer be buried under platitudes, false hope, the watering down of the educational process and the interference by teachers’ unions that do little to ameliorate the process. Having been in the trenches, experience and wisdom is speaking.

Make no mistake; this is still the greatest country on earth – more generous than any other, going to the aid of friend and foe alike in times of need, and the place where people still look to as a beacon to legally receive the downtrodden, abused and persecuted. But greatness and patriotism does not justify the slumping of the educational system.

The United States is in a severe academic decline – a bona fide crisis preventing this and future generations of Americans from competing globally and the convergence of three sets of data drive home how badly this nation is in need of educational reform.

Heather Hollingsworth of the Associated Press outlined rather starkly in her May 29 article “Research: Remedial classes not helping,” that more and more students are graduating high school ill-prepared for the rigors of a college classroom.

“Each year, an estimated 1.7 million U.S. college students are steered to remedial classes to prepare them for regular coursework,” wrote Hollingsworth. Students are paying for these classes and oftentimes are not earning degrees, but are left with a mountain of debt in student loans.

Whether remedial math, reading or writing, the increased need for such classes by more and more so-called college students demonstrates the lessening of standards at the elementary and high school levels. And the continuation of social promotion in hopes that students will make up their shortcomings further down the academic road is fantasy.

In reality, stricter standards need to be adopted with more rigorous academic preparation for the next level – be that college, the military or the work force. Students needing more and more remedial courses in college are simply not ready for the college classroom. More than 20 years ago, former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight said that college is not for everyone. He was right then and is still right today.

The shame is in the lack of preparation at the high school level – often because teachers are expected to do more with and for less. Schools are laden with layers of high priced administrations who, more often than not, have forgotten what teaching in the classroom is all about, and teachers find themselves with little support.

Teachers are expected to be nutritionists, counselors, doctors, nurses, psychologists, parents, advocates and even clergy, while occasionally finding time to teach. Teachers are often treated as servants by administrators and parents, considered less than professional by the outside world who does not realize the teacher’s day does not end at 3 p.m. or that the school year does not end in mid-June.

Teachers often work two jobs to make ends meet, typically in order to live in or near the town/city where they teach, which is often less affordable on a teacher’s salary. Teachers take additional classes, conduct research during the summer to hone their skills and stay atop the latest technology.

Yet, too much time is spent teaching to tests instead of teaching the necessary skills and material required for today’s students to be able to compete globally. Too much time is taken by teachers forced to prepare multiple lesson plans and teach to the lowest common denominator because schools are inclusionary which hurts both the top and bottom students.

Yes, there it is in print – some students are at the top of the food chain and some are at the bottom. There seemed to be some touchy-feely need to put all academic level of student in the same classroom because mommy and daddy didn’t want the self-esteem of their little angel damaged because he or she would be in a less rigorous class based upon ability.

Here’s the dirty little secret – inclusion damages the self-esteem of the weaker academic students and holds back the stronger academic students. Strong students get easily bored while more time is spent with those less academically gifted and weaker students act out due to their frustration of not being able to keep up with their academic superiors. Again, having been in the trenches, experience and wisdom is speaking.

A second piece of data in this triumvirate is statistics from the U.S. Department of Education that support the aforementioned crisis.

The global rankings in science from first to fifth include: Finland, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Canada, with the United States trailing in 17th place. This is according to the “Average score of 15-year-old students on science literacy scales, 2009.” (

In math, the top five nations are: Shanghai-China, Singapore, Hong Kong-China, South Korea and Chinese-Taipei. The United States languishes far down the trough in 31st place. This is according to “Average score of 15-year-old students on math literacy scales, 2009.” (

The reading rankings have Shanghai-China, South Korea, Finland, Hong Kong-China and Singapore in the top five, with the United States down in 15th place. This is according to “Average score of 15-year-old students on reading literacy scales, 2009.” (

These are deplorable statistics that must not be swept under the rug. It’s not funny when programs like “The Tonight Show,” depict real morons on Jay Leno’s Jaywalking segment laughing at how stupid they really are. Not being able to identify George Washington in a picture; not knowing what is in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; not knowing the difference between there/their/they’re or your/you’re; not being able to make change in a store; not being able to calculate a 15 percent tip in a restaurant and on it goes. These are basic skills – not rocket science.

The last leg of data comes in the form of George Will’s June 11 column “Subprime college education.” While Will focused much of his excellent column on the economics of college, I culled the diversity section for these purposes.

One of the reasons the United States is in educational crisis mode is the exclusion of more American History, World History, Literature, business-style writing and real math and science classes to produce globally competitive graduates. The inclusion of touchy-feely classes should be restricted to the Oprah channel on television.

Will cites in his column that UC San Diego “lost three cancer researchers to Rice University, which offered them 40 percent pay increases.” Yet, UCSD created a vice chancellorship for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

UC Davis has a Diversity Trainers Institute as well as a “Diversity Education Series that awards Understanding Diversity Certificates in ‘Unpacking Oppression.’” And the list goes on.

Where does it end? Does it end when everyone is in touch with their feelings but can’t add two plus two or spell diversity? Back to the basics we the people must go before this nation becomes a third world calamity and a footnote to history.

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

Friday, June 1, 2012

It Has Happened - Mets First No Hitter

It Has Happened! Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 1, 2012

On Friday, June 1, in game number 8,020 in the 51st season of the storied history of the New York Mets, the virtually unthinkable has finally transpired: a Mets pitcher has tossed a no-hitter. Johan Santana, the 33-year-old southpaw authored the no-no in an 8-0 victory over the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field before 27,069 fans. Santana spun his gem in 2:35, while walking five batters to raise his record to 3-2.

After missing all of the 2011 season due to shoulder surgery and the subsequent recovery, just getting back to the majors was a key goal for Santana. While there were a number of close calls, the catch by Mike Baxter in leftfield in the seventh inning will forever be linked to preserving the no-hitter, also the first in Santana's career which includes two Cy Young awards.

Santana threw 134 pitches, including eight strikeouts in crafting his masterpiece, which ended when he fanned David Freese before being mobbed by his Mets teammates in front of the mound. Santana expressed his pride in being able to bring the Mets fans the team's first no-hitter, but also humbly explained how this was a team effort.

I never thought I would see this day come, having been a Mets fan since 1972 when I was but six-years-old watching games with my father, a Blessed memory, on the black and white television in my parents' bedroom, first in South Orange, NJ then in Springfield, NJ.

Summers in the '70s and early '80s suffering through 90-plus losses year in and year out were the norm. No-hit futility struck my hero Tom Seaver on several occasions, having lost three bids in the ninth inning alone before finally tossing his gem also against the Cardinals, but while wearing a Cincinnati Reds uniform.

And Seaver was not alone. Futility in a Mets uniform came to Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, David Cone and Dwight Gooden – all of whom tossed no-hitters for other teams. Ryan threw seven such gems for the California Angels, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. Scott threw a no-hitter for the Astros as well, clinching the 1986 Western Division. Both Cone and Gooden tossed their gems for the hated New York Yankees – Gooden in 1996 and Cone in 1999, his being a perfecto.

Lesser known former Mets Hideo Nomo and Phillip Humber also have no-hitters on their baseball resumes. Humber threw Major League Baseball's 21st perfect game this season for the Chicago White Sox. Nomo threw two no-nos, one in each league – in 1996 for the Dodgers and one in 2001 for the Red Sox.

The Mets have had stellar pitchers come and go over the years without throwing a no-hitter. Not Jerry Koosman; not Jon Matlack; not Craig Swan; not Ron Darling; not Sid Fernandez; not Orel Hershiser; not Frank Viola; not Tom Glavine; not even the great Warren Spahn, so quite frankly, during each radio broadcast upon the Mets surrendering their first hit of the game and Howie Rose would announce how many games it had been for the Mets without a no-hitter, I would chuckle and sometimes say out loud, "it's never going to happen."

Well it finally did, and Mets television announcer Gary Cohen shouted, "He struck him out. It has happened..." as if he was talking directly to me, and I wasn't even watching the game. I did manage to listen to some of it on the radio, as I do most nights, tuning in on XM-Radio, as I no longer live in the New York area.

I caught an inning's worth on the way from synagogue following Sabbath evening services heading to dinner with friends, thinking nothing other than, with the three-run homer hit by Lucas Duda in the sixth inning, the Mets had a 5-0 lead, a cushion that should net them a win.

Upon returning home and seeing the crawl on Fox News that the almost impossible finally became possible, the experience became surreal. I watched as many highlights as possible on the Mets website, the MLB site and on ESPN – over and over again – mesmerized – with chills running up and down my spine and arms.

I now almost know how Boston Red Sox fans felt in 2004 after their 87-year World Series championship draught finally ended – almost.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. He has been a fan of the New York Mets fan since 1972, attending his first game at Shea Stadium in 1974 with his father and maternal grandfather, both, sadly, Blessed memories.

Grim REPA Lowers Standards in Indy

Grim REPA Lowers Standards in Indy
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 1, 2012  

The sad truth behind “Lowering standards in the name of reform,” written by Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the School of Education at Indiana University (May 27, 2012; The Indianapolis Star) is that standards will only continue to spiral downward.

Living in an era where it is better to be fair than honest; where it is better to coddle than constructively criticize; where it is better to hold a hand than occasionally swat it; where everyone is declared the winner and there are no losers and the score isn’t kept and everyone takes home a trophy because, G-d forbid, anyone’s precious self-esteem gets damaged, standards are tumbling to a level lower than a gopher’s basement.

Television commercials talk about the greatness of America, but then reveal the paltry statistics indicating how far the United States lags behind in reading, math and science to countries with fewer resources and dollars (or their foreign equivalent).

Closer to home in Indiana, Gonzalez adroitly indicates how a potential set of rule changes regarding the preparation and licensing of teachers in the Hoosier State will further water down the requirements, thus lessening the quality of the teachers and principals found in the schools.

Under REPA 2 (Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability), for example, any college graduate with a bachelor’s degree, a minimum 3.0 grade point average and passage of a content exam could qualify to become an “adjunct” teacher – even without the necessary courses that prepare one to teach in a classroom. (On the other hand, having a Master’s in Education, there is nothing to prepare anyone for the inner-city classroom awaiting rookie educators.)

Another weakening of the standards includes eliminating a requirement that special education teachers be licensed in a content area, even though they would be permitted to teach from preschool through high school. This helps no one and turns special education teachers into glorified baby sitters.

Knowledge of a content area is VITAL. A teacher can’t very well teach history unless he or she understands why the Battle of Trenton was a pivotal turning point in the American colonists winning the Revolutionary War. A person who does not have at least an undergraduate degree in the content area he or she wishes to teach, is ill prepared for the classroom.

As a history major while an undergraduate, I was disgusted to learn that in the state of New Jersey, an education major wishing to teach history merely needed two classes in the subject. Two classes do not a proficient teacher of history make.

Yet another lowering of the bar in Indiana is the eliminating of the requirement that principals earn a master’s degree. Additionally, the discussion of national accreditation of educator preparation programs has vanished from the lexicon.

All of the watering down and reduction of requirements for teachers and principals serves to better no one. The continuation of lowering standards will make students in the United States softer, less educated and less prepared to face the competition of the real world that parents and teachers alike are avoiding at the salvation of their precious children’s self-esteem, which sadly, ultimately, will take an unmerciful beating in the future.

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