Tag Archives: families

Denying minorities and poor people an education, keeps them ghettoized and voting for Democrats…Shame on Eric Holder

This story is all too emblematic of the problem with today’s liberal agenda. Claiming to defend the interests of poor and minority students through its actions, the Justice Department is doing the bidding of the biggest of the Democrat’s special interest overlords — the teachers’ unions. How can anyone claim to want to help children by denying them the best education available?

The Justice Department’s motion has tremendous human implications, personified by Mary Edler, whose grandsons are using vouchers to attend kindergarten and second grade in a Louisiana private school. All of the public schools in their district are graded C, D or F. Thanks to the scholarship program, Mrs. Edler says, “My grandsons are flourishing at Ascension of Our Lord in all aspects. They have small classes and an outstanding principal and staff.” She calls the tuition vouchers a “true blessing”—one that will be lost if the Justice Department prevails.

In its zeal, the Justice Department has transformed a bipartisan education reform program into a partisan opportunity. On Sept. 17, House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders wrote an open letter to Attorney General Holder, calling Justice’s motion “extremely troubling and paradoxical in nature,” given that it hurts the “very children you profess to be protecting.”

Read it all here.

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I bought my first handgun…Why?

Last week I purchased my first handgun. It is a .45 caliber Heckler & Koch USP. This is a full-sized, semi-automatic pistol which means that every time you pull the trigger it fires a shot (if the chamber has a round in it.) A .45 caliber is a large and powerful load frequently propelling a bullet that weighs 230 grains or 15 grams. The specific cartridge for my gun is a .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol.) This cartridge was designed by the legendary John Browning in 1904. He designed it for use in his automatic handgun design, the M1911, so called because of its adoption by the United States army as its official sidearm in 1911. The cartridge is known to have superior “stopping power,” or the ability to do maximum damage to a human target. The gun’s magazine (legal in Connecticut) holds ten of these rounds and can also have one in its chamber for a maximum capacity of 11 cartridges. In other states it is possible to buy a twelve round magazine.

HK-USP1

The gun is German designed and manufactured. Heckler & Koch is a high-end armorer, know for innovative, reliable and durable weapons. It was expensive, costing just about a $1,000. I purchased it after shooting several different handguns, all .45 ACPs. I test-shot a Beretta PX4-Storm, a Ruger 1911, a Glock 21, a Smith & Wesson M&P (Military & Police) and the HK USP. Each of these guns felt very different in terms of grip, recoil, weight, and sight-configuration. I felt most comfortable (and shot most accurately) with the USP so that is what I bought.

Owning this gun comes with a responsibility. It is a weapon designed to deliver deadly force – to kill another human being. Learning its proper operation and safe handling is something that I take very seriously. Storing it properly is very important. When it is in my house, I store it in a biometric gun safe which can only be opened by my fingerprint. I keep its ammunition locked up in a separate place. I try to follow basic safety rules – I always point the gun in a safe direction, never at something I do not want to harm or destroy; I always keep the gun unloaded but assume that it is loaded until I have confirmed it is not;  I do not put my finger on the trigger until I intend to fire and; I know my target and what is beyond it.

I have shot and enjoyed long-guns (rifles and shotguns) since I was twelve years old but until now I did not have an interest in handguns. When I took the Connecticut-required gun safety course at a local shooting range, I found that handguns are fun to shoot and much more challenging and exhilarating than I had ever imagined. Pistols are powerful, skillfully engineered tools and I look forward to becoming proficient in using them.

But why did I decide to buy this gun now? There are many parts to the answer. I first became interested in learning more about handguns when the national debate about gun control was re-kindled by the tragedy at Sandy Hook, CT, a mere 18 miles away from my home. As I observed the emotional and non-rational response to the tragedy and saw shameless politicians move swiftly to exploit it, I became concerned that the right to obtain a handgun was at risk of being taken away. And I believe that owning one may be a more important right than ever before.

For a number of reasons, I feel far less confident and secure about my family’s safety and my ability to protect them. We live in an affluent community that is only miles away from severe urban poverty. The national dialogue about income inequality, the vilification of capitalism, media caricatures of greed-driven, soulless corporations, our country’s confiscatory tax regime and the redistributionist rhetoric of the current administration are all of a piece. In today’s America, I have come to believe that protecting my home and family, and securing my personal property from conventional criminals or from the ones in our government are ultimately my own responsibilities.

Will I need a handgun to do this? If confronted by a home invader, would I be able and willing to use deadly force? I am not sure. I need to continue to practicing with my pistol and become expert in its use. When it comes down to protecting my family, I want to have every available tool and advantage. Though it may present me with hard choices to make, as a legally licensed handgun owner, I at least have the freedom to make those choices.

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An equally weighted look at addressing income inequality…

In Foreign Affairs, professor Jerry Z. Muller, chair of the history department at Washington’s Catholic University, takes a thoughtful and balanced look at what the left and right get wrong in the discussion of income inequality in the United States.

Recent political debate in the United States and other advanced capitalist democracies has been dominated by two issues: the rise of economic inequality and the scale of government intervention to address it. As the 2012 U.S. presidential election and the battles over the “fiscal cliff” have demonstrated, the central focus of the left today is on increasing government taxing and spending, primarily to reverse the growing stratification of society, whereas the central focus of the right is on decreasing taxing and spending, primarily to ensure economic dynamism. Each side minimizes the concerns of the other, and each seems to believe that its desired policies are sufficient to ensure prosperity and social stability. Both are wrong.

He takes a thoughtful look at how social and economic changes have affected different social strata in the united States and how equality of opportunity has not increased the equality of outcomes. He also explains how conventional approaches to addressing inequality are increasingly producing diminishing returns. His most trenchant observations revolve around the family’s role in enabling future achievement – I wish he had explored ways to help encourage strong families throughout social strata. Read the whole thing.

It makes me think that if we want to address the problem, one crucial element is to better encourage the strength of two-parent, stable families. There seems to be no debate about their ability to create environments where children are given the tools they need to achieve their highest potential throughout life. When we help people in need, we should be careful not to create incentives for different environments that perpetuate a cycle of poverty and underachievement.

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The Second Daughter – A first class read

A friend of mine has published his first novel and it is marvelous.

The Second Daughter is a book of charm and wit but ultimately, it shows us great emotional depth too. Its characters are very well drawn. My friend does an exceptional job of making readers empathize and care for a set of people who (with one exception) are not really likable or empathetic – at least in a conventional way. The initial love story pairs a classic odd couple of opposites and yet you can see how they come together and their relationship never seems implausible.  The narrative makes the reader take the same emotional journey as the characters and introduces us to a wonderful cast of unique individuals. It strikes a remarkable balance — a very fun and funny book that ultimately also is sad, profound and redeeming.

It is a story about the Gale family. An uptight mother, her spontaneous, irresponsible husband and their two daughters; but ultimately it is about love in all its changing forms – romantic love, spousal love (and how it can be lost), sibling rivalry and parental love (and how it evolves.)

While the plot is a familiar well-worn journey, as told here, it is an intimate journey nevertheless. The anticipation of predictable events adds to the engagement with the reader – “I know what’s coming, I dread what’s coming, I have to read what’s coming next…”

I have to confess that I am jealous. My friend’s writing style is really engaging and readable. While it is funny and light, it still succeeds in painting detailed portraits. This book is so accessible in all the best ways – not insipid at all – but it never runs the risk of losing a reader by appearing to be written over someone’s head (the author is a very accomplished university philosophy professor.) I wish that I could write this well.

Finally this book’s subject and mastery of displaying the intimate connections that we make in families and screw up and regret and redeem against all odds is truly exceptional. My friend writes so well about women and relationships, establishing such strong empathy that this book while “chick-flickesque” in its subject matter, is a very good read for men or women alike. Check it out.

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