Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mayhem at the Marathon

Mayhem at the Marathon
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
April 16, 2013

So the person of interest concerning the dual bombings at the Boston Marathon is a Saudi national in the United States on a student visa. Hmm. Where have we heard this story before?

Call me paranoid, but were not 15 of the 19 homicide-hijackers on September 11, 2001 that murdered nearly 3,000 innocent people at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and in a field in Shanksville, PA also Saudis; most here with student visas?

When will we learn? Hoisted by our own petards, our openness is becoming the death of America as we know it. The United States prides herself on having a free and open society where we welcome legal immigrants, students on temporary visas, and permanent residents on work visas.

Terrorists prefer to attack when it makes a statement. What better statement than to draw blood in one of the birthplaces of democracy – Boston, on Patriot’s Day - Boston Massacre 2.0.

However, before more American cities resemble Tel Aviv, London, Madrid, and Mumbai, a genuine concerted effort must be undertaken to reduce the chances of terror being meted out upon our nation and upon our American people. Days of political correctness, turning a blind eye, and an unwillingness to call a terrorist a terrorist must cease at once and not at the traditional glacial speed of government.

While Congress continues arguing over how to make 12 million-plus illegal aliens legal, whether with or without citizenship, more and more teem across our porous borders leading to greater economic and national security detriment. Congress cannot dilly-dally any longer.

Democrats are guilty of seeking 12 million more voters for their side, while Republicans are guilty of providing 12 million more low wage workers to businesses that support the GOP financially and politically. Democrats are afraid of alienating Hispanic voters, who, quite frankly, should be offended that the Democrats support the legalization of people who broke the law, while those Hispanic citizens followed the law, stood in line and achieved their goal legally.

The more sieve-like the borders, the more likely enemies of the United States will have increased opportunities to wreak havoc on its citizens, economy, and way of life. If this is not unacceptable to all who legally live in this country, they are traitors and should feel free to pack their bags and live in Angola, China, Cuba, or North Korea.

In addition to sealing the borders, there should be an immigration moratorium – permanent for some, temporary for others. Making that decision should be easy. Any country voting against the United States in the United Nations 50 percent or more should permanently be barred from having its citizens enter the United States. For other countries, the moratorium could be lifted after the borders are secured.

The same should be true regarding student visas and foreign aid. The one area where I agreed with former presidential candidate and retired Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) was his notion that all countries should start at zero dollars and annually make their cases for foreign aid. Again, any country voting against the US in the UN would automatically be disqualified. Those same countries would be prohibited from sending their citizens to the US on student visas.

Of the students qualified for entrance into the United States via a student visa, they would be required to pay full price for their tuition and expenses as well as file updates every semester with the Department of Homeland Security. Failure to do so is causal for revocation of the student visa and immediate deportation back to the student’s country of origin. When the student visa expires, the student returns home to hopefully use his or her education to improve his or her home country. This is win-win for all involved.

The cost for these plans can be absorbed by money saved not cavalierly given to our enemies and a reduction in entitlement funding given to Americans who neither deserve nor earned it.

While no plan is perfect, neither is political correctness or turning a blind eye to the realities that the United States had better get used to becoming a bloody battlefield rife with terrorist attacks. Americans simply don’t have the stomach for it.

Americans don’t have the stomach to see the likes of Martin Richard, an eight-year-old little boy killed while cheering on his father run in the Boston Marathon. Government has the obligation to protect and defend its borders and citizenry and little else. It needs to remember why it exists before it no longer matters.

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

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Better a Fortress than a Funeral

Better a Fortress than a Funeral
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
April 4, 2013

As a strong proponent of armed security in America’s public, private, and charter schools, the juxtaposition of the news article written by Eric Weddle and Mary Beth Schneider, “School gun bill raises concerns,” and the letter to the editor penned by Charles Murray of Carmel “Proposal to arm school staff members has flaws,” both appearing in the April 4 Indianapolis Star, raises good points and questions that can be resolved forthwith.

Addressing Mr. Murray’s last question regarding the consultation of educators in the composition of the proposal for Indiana to mandate that one in-house staff member be required to carry a firearm, while I cannot answer his question, as someone who has taught in suburban and inner-city public and charter schools in New Jersey, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, my experience dictates that such a proposal is a step in the right direction.

I would offer an amendment to the mandate portion of SB-1, which was initially designed to “provide grant incentives for school districts to hire resource officers,” (The Indianapolis Star, p. 8, 04/04/13). The amendment, offered by State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) mandating the armed in-house employee, should allow for such action to be taken, but the decision should be left to the individual local schools.

Should such a mandate pass, Indiana would be the first state in the union to have such a requirement, should Gov. Mike Pence sign the bill into law. As an aforementioned supporter of firearm toting security on school campuses, I am not squeamish about a mandate. Giving the option to the local school districts presents a greater opportunity for such a bill to pass with wider support.

To alleviate some of Mr. Murray’s legitimate concerns pertaining to who should be the school employee to carry a firearm, what about that person’s absence or eventual retirement, and what about that person’s close proximity to students in a classroom, I envision security personnel being an off duty police officer, retired military personnel, or a member of the Reserves. This is a cadre of available human resources.

As for the cost, another legitimate issue raised by Mr. Murray, police and Reserve personnel are already paid for by their respective employers and this would be seen as an extension or continuation of their duties. The salary of retired military personnel could very easily be absorbed by eliminating a mid-level administrator.

This is a feasible plan that within SB-1 would set the parameters of training requirements and the certification of the armed personnel just as teachers and other educational staff have their certification requirements. While a rush to judgment to pass any bill simply for the sake of enactment would be irresponsible by the legislature, so to would not adopting a law that would provide for the safety of Hoosier children.

While no plan is perfect, nor can one armed security staff member be in all places at all times, this plan is certainly better than no plan at all. We are not going to curse the darkness when we are able to at least offer a flicker of light.

Another point in favor of armed security would be the potential to reduce home grown or in school violence such as bullying or worse. Mr. Murray indicated that Columbine had an armed guard and that did not prevent the heinous mass shooting that occurred there on April 20, 1999. While Mr. Murray is correct, that should not rule out passage of an amended SB-1. One failure should not dismiss the potential for myriad successes in preventing bullying and/or a home grown catastrophe especially with prior disasters as examples from which to learn and be better prepared.

Securing all entrances and exits along with increased camera presence will also help prevent another Newtown, CT.

For those who object to passage of SB-1, remember, banks have armed security guards. Why not where our most precious of resources spend the majority of their days? Parents should not have to worry whether or not their child will return home safely at the end of the day.

And for those who object to seeing schools resemble an armed fortress, better a fortress than a place where memorial gardens are planted.

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dodgeball a Symptom of America in Decline

“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” – Patches O’ Houlihan (Dodgeball)

Dodgeball a Symptom of America in Decline
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
April 2, 2013

It didn’t take the banning of dodgeball by the Windham School Board in New Hampshire to come to the easy conclusion that doing so emphasizes the physical and mental decline of America. Dodgeball is merely a symptom of this decline.

A rite of passage for virtually every American child since elementary school, dodgeball is a microcosm of battle and necessary combination of the use of brains and brawn. It’s not just about the bigger, stronger children whaling on the smaller, weaker children. It’s about the smarter children having a strategy to hide in the back of the field while the braggarts man the front lines. Being small has its advantages – one can typically move faster and is a tougher target to hit. And it’s also a team sport, so it pays to have better athletes up front to catch the ball and knock out the better players on the other team.

Is there a part of the game where bullying may come into play? Sure there is; and make no mistake, as the victim of bullies in junior high and high school, there is nothing I abhor more than to see the bullying of any student by either another student, or worse, a parent or teacher.

However, that is not a reason to eliminate dodgeball from gym class. In dodgeball, like any other gym class activity, there is opportunity for redemption. Lose today, win tomorrow. Improve the throwing and catching skills. And, like any gym class activity, there are the lessons of winning with grace and losing with dignity – notions barely recognizable any longer.

In this day and age, virtually all competition has been sidelined in favor of putting salve on a damaged self-esteem. Note to those parents and teachers more concerned with their child’s or student’s self-esteem over the learning how to win and lose: you are damaging your children and setting them up for failure and a rude awakening once they hit the real world.

This is a competition-based world in which we live and the sooner children learn this, the better prepared they will be to face life’s competitions – making the team, getting into college, getting the job, joining various clubs, and yes, even finding that special someone who will become one’s future spouse.

Windham Superintendent Henry LaBranche referred to dodgeball as a “human-target game” in an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader. Dodgeball is not a conspiracy, Mr. Superintendent, and while the intent is not to hit the opponent, the body is a “human-target” in baseball, football, hockey and many other contact sports. Are those sports to be banned as well?

It’s bad enough children are placed in virtual plastic bubbles to avoid them getting skinned knees and the like, but children are not eggs and their shells will not crack, unless parents and teachers continue to shelter them like fragile porcelain dolls. After all, dodgeball is played with the traditional squishy red bouncy ball we all remember also using for kickball, not a medicine ball.

Sadly, this treatment carries over to the classroom where more and more schools are doing away with awards, naming valedictorians, and instead presenting certificates of achievements simply for showing up. Again the nature of society is competitive and children who don’t learn this in the classroom as well on the field of play will merely get crushed when facing the harsh realities of the world around them.

The emasculation of boys leads to men who become obsequious, sniveling man-children afraid of their own shadows. Barack Obama said he doubts he would allow a son of his to play football because of the potential for injuries and concussion. Such fates exist in all competitive sports and considering the obesity crisis in the United States, children should be encouraged, not discouraged, from participating in team sports. Put down the video games and play ball!

Team sports also creates the next generation of leaders – be they in the boardrooms, ball fields, or battlefields.

Earlier I noted that dodgeball is a microcosm of battle. Having a winning strategy is what keeps one in the game as well as alive on the battlefield. The winners in dodgeball become those stellar strategists in the boardrooms and on the battlefields, while the whiners continue to become soft and unable to fight their own battles in life.

This softness is what leads to a sense of entitlement by this generation of students of the government as well as government allowing them to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26, but that’s another column for another day.

The coddling received as school children by being placed in cocoons by parents and teachers afraid they might break a nail will only stunt their growth as independent adults able to take personal responsibility for their own actions and their own lives instead of placing blame everywhere else.

This is not the fault of the children who at such ages don’t know any better, but the fault of parents afraid to see their precious child skin their knee, or teachers afraid to lose a job should a student get hurt, or administrators afraid of lawsuits should Johnny return home with a bruise from doing what Johnny does – play games with his friends.

Children must toughen up and adults must tough it out.

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

Monday, April 1, 2013

Transparency a Two-Party Responsibility

Transparency a Two-Party Responsibility
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
April 1, 2013

There’s a fine line between protecting an individual’s privacy rights and downright secrecy; and the Indiana House has pole vaulted over it in its complete abandonment of transparency according to “House opts for secrecy,” the article written by Ryan Sabalow in the March 26 Indy Star.

While protecting a citizen’s privacy is vital, there are ways to provide the public with information to which they are entitled pertaining to the spending of taxpayer dollars.

A party-line vote on an amendment availing the public to documentation regarding appraisals and relocations failed, thus keeping such information “permanently secret,” according to Sabalow.

The amendment, written by Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) didn’t garner any Republican support when it is typically the GOP calling for governmental transparency. Instead it was Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) among others who said such transparency would damage the state’s negotiating power and that appraisals could include photos of the properties in question, thus leading to miscreant behavior.

A solution to this quagmire could simply provide financial statistics to the public while eliminating any publication of photographs. This way the taxpaying public knows how the money is being allocated and the state would still bear the responsibility of explaining the motives for such expenditures.

This isn’t brain surgery. But then if it were, the state house would empty out pretty quickly.

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