Arguing with a Concrete Wall about a Deviant Berkeley, California

An old friend sent me a link to a blog post with the title Check Out Time at Berkeley’s Hotel California on Robin of Berkeley’s Blog that had an Alexa ranking of 19.3 million, when I checked, and no rank for the U.S. or any other country. The post was dated October 20, 2014.

On the About Page for this almost invisible blog—at least to search engines—I quickly learned that Robin of Berkeley is a pen name, so what we have is a Blog hosted by an anonymous person. Not exactly a dependable source, but one that my old friend, who I will call CW (for Concrete Wall) seems to have accepted without question.

“Robin of Berkeley” said, “This is a sad tale of a friend of mine. I’ll call her Jane.”

In summary, the alleged Jane is a young woman from a small town in Iowa, who comes with home grown values: church, school, wholesome activates, and respect for others, and she ends up at Cal Berkeley for her doctorate in education.

That would mean Jane had to be at least 23 or older when she arrived in Berkeley, and she probably earned her BA degree from a university in Iowa—this fact will be important later. In addition, if the alleged Jane was working toward a doctorate in education, she isn’t an innocent, gullible teenager. She is a young woman who probably left high school for college and has already lived away from her small-town home for several years.

In Robin of Berkeley’s story, Jane meets Brian, a San Francisco native who soon has Jane hooked on sex and drugs—at least that’s what Jane allegedly told Robin, because we never get a chance to hear anything from the alleged Brian.

Robin of Berkeley—the anonymous blogger, asks, “How can someone come to the SF Bay Area a relatively stable human being and end up in the drug and hook-up culture?”

Robin of Berkeley continues: “The temptation may not be drug and booze but the very dark underground sex scene, with its whips and chains and leather. Then there are those hook-ups with random strangers, as well as the ever present polyamorous and/or gay scenes. Some people don’t get involved in high-risk behavior, but become depressed, even suicidal, from the nihilistic spirit around them.”

Jane—of course, in this moralistic tale—gets her sanity back once she returns to Iowa, and Robin of Berkeley concludes that the key is to check out of Hotel California before it’s too late. “Given the severe housing shortage around here,” Robin of Berkeley says, “this Hotel may appear like the only affordable digs in town. But it comes with a gigantic price. For some people, it is their soul.”

After I read this moralizing, anonymous Blog post on an almost invisible Blog, I replied to CW, who thinks G. W. Bush is one of the greatest if not the greatest president the United States has ever had, agrees with the Tea Party movement, is a professed libertarian, a born-again evangelical Christian, and listens loyally to Dennis Prager, a conservative radio talk show host, who is basically a calmer voiced and friendlier version of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.

Here’s my first e-mail to CW after I read the anonymous Robin of Berkeley’s post: “I think we could find people like the ones in this story in every major city. There are also plenty of people who don’t do drugs, go to work every day and live a good life. Even in Berkeley and SF. I know this, because I’ve met many of them. I’ve also run into a few of the freaks/geeks but they tend to be outnumbered by normal, average people—even in Berkeley and SF. What this story does is it reinforces a stereotype, a bias, a lie.”

Then, a few hours later—after some thought—I sent another e-mail:

“Did you know that Houston is the main gateway into the United States for human trafficking (mostly sex slaves from children to women) and there are more illegal whore houses in Houston than the entire state of Nevada—an estimated average of 17,000 trafficked humans is funneled into the U.S. through Houston annually?

“Should we condemn everyone who lives in Houston?””

I also provided a few pull quotes from sources as evidence of Houston being the gateway for human trafficking in the United States just to prove my point.

CW replied, “I think you may find it of value to spend much time to reflect upon this.”

I did, and my next e-mail, a day later, was loaded with examples of moral corruption all over the United States. I provided links to the sources and pointed out that the San Francisco Bay Area wasn’t a mecca of corruption in the United States. In fact, California seldom ranks at the top of any illegal specific drug use, even tobacco, and of the 100 most dangerous cities in the United States, San Francisco and Berkeley didn’t even make the list.

As if I had said nothing, CW replied, “When a culture promotes deviant behavior, members of that culture are very susceptible to taking on that behavior because it becomes … normal. This young woman wasn’t equipped (like most young people for years now) to resist degrading influences. Berkeley is just the extreme that proves the norm. I read a similar story years ago about a young woman who moved into the Playboy mansion, took on that lifestyle, moved out, and then regained her sanity. We take for granite our morality, but really it is something we must fight to sustain. This is one reason I do not watch commercial TV.”

My next e-mail continued the argument: “That would include the deviant behavior of racism, homophobia, etc., wouldn’t it? Here’s an interesting piece that says “Homophobic Southern States Watch Most Gay Porn in America” and then I mentioned the “10 U.S. States Most Plagued by Hate Crimes”, and listed the top five states and pointed out their politics:

  1. Tennessee (GOP dominates this state)
  2. Kentucky (GOP governor and one state house has a GOP majority. The other house has a Democratic majority)
  3. North Dakota (state government 100% GOP majority)
  4. Michigan (Democratic governor but both state legislatures have a GOP majority)
  5. District of Columbia (The mayor is a Democrat)

CW’s next e-mail said, “I think any article that references the Southern Poverty Law Center as a factual source has instantly lost all credibility with any informed reader. However, I don’t see any connection between your sources and the Berkeley article, and this brings up another point, it appears that in order to avoid troubling cognitive dissonance you substitute thoughtful reflection with irrelevant sources.”

Note: I question how my sources and the point I was attempting to make was irrelevant compared to the anonymous Robin of Berkeley’s Blog and the alleged story about Jane.

Here are the sources I used to make my point that deviant behavior can exist anywhere, and I provided the links—something CW never does during this argument that is mostly one sided:

  1. Texas Monthly.com
  2. A piece published by My Fox Houston.com on a tour through human trafficking hell.
  3. UHCL The Signal.com, a WordPress blog post on Houston being named a major hub for six trafficking.
  4. A link to 2010-2011 surveys from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.
  5. Business Insider.com
  6. Democratic Underground.com reporting that Homophobic Southern States Watch the most gay porn in America.
  7. Atlantic Blackstar.com reporting on the 10 most racist stated in America.
  8. Richest.com on the 10 U.S. States most plagued by hate crimes

My next e-mail to CW said, “It is a waste of time to debate any subject with you when you have allowed yourself to be brainwashed by Dennis Prager. Did you learn this from your radio guru?”

There were other e-mails in another thread that continued this argument and they focused on parenting where I provided more evidence that any deviant sexual behavior or drug use is not exclusive to Berkeley. My first comment in that thread was “Here you are judging someone else’s thoughts about raising children and judging them a failure when you have never been married, never been a parent, and never raised a child. You live in a land of dangerous conservative idealism that is so far removed from reality that you might as well be living on a planet orbiting another start a few light years away.”

His response was: “Ad hominem again”

At some point, I wrote, “If this couple were white (I was talking about Jane and Brian), then they are representative of 24.8% of the U.C. Berkeley student population, but 17.5% are international students. Almost 40% are East Asian: Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Other Asian, South Asian, Vietnamese, Pacific Islander and this ethnic group tends to stay away from illegal drugs, has the lowest incidence of pregnancy outside of marriage, the highest rate of marriage, the highest HS graduation rate, the highest ratio of college graduation compared to other major ethnic groups, had the lowest divorce rate and the lowest unemployment rate in the country.”

That’s when CW wrote, “Your response is a beautiful example of a straw man fallacy.”

During the argument, CW never provided any evidence that the story by the anonymous blogger Robin of Berkeley was even real.

I’m not going to repeat the entire second e-mail thread here, because it will be a waste of time.

In conclusion, I’ve heard some of CW’s stories of how he behaved when he was a student at U.C. Berkeley, but I don’t think Berkeley is as extreme as he thinks based on his own experiences there. I base that statement on the fact that U.C. Berkeley didn’t even make the Princeton Review’s Top 20 Party Schools for 2015 (The top party schools ranking is based on survey questions relating to student use of alcohol and drugs …) In fact, the University of Santa Barbara was the only college in California that made the Princeton Review’s list—and get this, most of these party schools are in the Bible belt, the land of Jane and her so-called pure brethren.

The biggest surprise was when I discovered that the University of Iowa was #1 on the Princeton Review’s 2014 list, and #2 on the 2015 list of Party Schools. I wonder if Jane—if she were a real person and not fictional—attended the University of Iowa for her undergraduate work. If so, when she reached U.C. Berkeley, maybe she corrupted Brian, and only told her side of the story to the anonymous Robin of Berkeley. I wonder what Brian would say—that is if he wasn’t a fictional character too.

I did a search to find the best universities in Iowa known for their education programs. After all, it makes sense that a PhD candidate majoring in education at U.C. Berkeley would have majored in education for her BA.

The University of Iowa, one of the top two party schools in the United States, was listed as notable on a short list of colleges in Iowa that offered education majors, followed by Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and Upper Iowa University.

One last thing—I searched for a Hotel California in Berkeley and couldn’t find one. In fact, here’s a list of all the hotels around the UC Berkeley campus on a hotel guide provided by the university.

Here’s what I think. This story was fiction made up by a far-right conservative, tea party American who couldn’t find any stories to support his/her biased thinking about Berkeley, California so he/she made one up and then lied that it was real.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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The more things change, the more they stay the same

The quote I used for the title of this book review sums up what I learned while reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s nonfiction book, “The Bully Pulpit”, about Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden age of journalism. The quote comes from Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808 – 1890), a French critic, journalist and novelist.

Anyone who reads my Bog—Crazy Normal—knows that I support the resistance fighting for the survival of the public schools against the fake Ed reformer billionaires who want to destroy the transparent, democratically run, non-profit, US public schools and replace them with CEO controlled, corporate owned opaque Charter schools.

You might ask what today’s war on public education has to do with “The Bully Pulpit”, and I’d reply “Everything!”

Because the corruption that Roosevelt fought starting as a member of the New York State Assembly 1882 -1884 that continued with his work on the US Civil Service Commission fighting spoils politics; then his two years—starting in 1895—as the president of the board of New York City Police Commissioners where he reformed and cleaned up the corrupt police department, and then as the Republican Governor of New York where he was exposed to the corruption of the trusts, monopolies, labor relations and conservatism and where he also built an alliance with the main stream media. This has all been reversed and the situation may be worse today than it was before Roosevelt went to work to make the United States a better place for everyone instead of just the few.

Roosevelt was the champion of the common man, the working man, the average family, but the corrupt Republican political machine was controlled by the richest Americans who wanted to keep control of the United States, and the GOP in 1901, manipulated Roosevelt to become Vice President where he wouldn’t be in a position to go after corruption.

But something the GOP corrupt political machine didn’t count on was President McKinley being assassinated on September 6, 1901, causing Roosevelt to become president where he then went after the giant corporations that had a strangle hold on business through trusts and monopolies, and Roosevelt won this battle.

Roosevelt, a progressive president (1901 – 1909), curbed the power of large corporations and supported organized labor. However, more than a century later, organized labor has been demonized and is losing members after decades of brutal attacks using smear tactics, cheery picked facts, misinformation and lies paid for by billionaires and large corporations that have taken back the political power lost to the richest Americans when Roosevelt was president. For instance, by 2010, union membership in the U.S. fell to a 70-year low.

Today, thanks to large corporations and the billionaires who also own/control most of the traditional media, many Americans have been fooled into supporting agendas that will eventually hurt them.

In fact, with the power back in the hands of the few wealthiest Americans and large corporations, America’s public schools face the threat of closure and being turned over to corporations to teach our children while millions of teachers face the threat of losing their jobs and joining the ranks of those living in poverty; a possible end to cleaning up our air and water with the threat of global warming growing worse, and a roll back of women’s rights at the same time as the misuse of this power swells the ranks of those living in poverty while working for poverty wages in the fast food industry and for companies like Wal-Mart.

I bought an unabridged copy of the audio book of the “The Bully Pulpit” at Costco, and I highly recommend reading this book to discover what’s wrong with the United States today. Without public pressure, the wealthy will rule this country through the corrupting influence of their money and power just as they did before Theodore Roosevelt put a stop to that abuse.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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Who do Americans trust and why we should elect a nurse for President

Conservatives—studies show they are better organized than liberals—are great at spreading cherry-picked facts (better known as propaganda, lies and misinformation) to fool and confuse America, and I read an example of this recently. I wasn’t sure it was an example until I did some Google digging.

Newsmax.com (March 23, 2014) reported a Fox News Poll that claimed President Obama’s Approval Ratings Keep Sliding. “The Fox poll shows 54% of Americans disapprove of how he has done his job.” Reverse that and he enjoys a 46% approval rating.

But what happens when we compare President Obama’s approval rating with others. For instance, the Republican Party.

Examiner.com reported in January 2014 that “According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 80 percent of Americans don’t trust the Republican Party.”

Wow, does that mean only 20% trust them—less than half Obama’s trust factor?

I wonder why neoconservative Rupert Murdock’s Fox News didn’t report that fact.

Did you know that the Libertarian Koch brothers are spending tens of millions to influence the 2014 Congressional elections? Probably not, but they are. You may want to read “Covert Operations” published in The New Yorker to discover just who these billionaire brothers are and how they are subverting democracy and don’t forget, they are libertarians.

The New Yorker says: The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation.” In addition, “Koch Industries (is) one of the top ten air polluters in the United States.”

Do you trust the Koch brothers now?

Then I wanted to know how many American’s trust libertarians—after all the Koch brothers are the wealthiest, most powerful libertarians in America—according to Politico.com on September 11, 2013, “The poll surveyed all voters, not just those on the right, and overall 27 percent said they didn’t know enough to offer an opinion of libertarianism. About 40 percent of 18-to-32-year-olds view the word ‘libertarian’ favorably, although about a third don’t know what it means.” Having 60% of Americans either ignorant of what libertarianism means or against it still isn’t as good as the 46% who trust President Obama.

What about the tea party movement? After all, they are very loud. DailyKos.com says, “Americans still wouldn’t trust them with scissors.” A recent Bloomberg National Poll asked “Do you consider yourself a supporter of the Tea Party Movement?” Only 24% said yes and 66% said no. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll had the same results.

The Democrats don’t do much better with 72% of Americans lacking confidence in them—doesn’t say anything about not trusting them, just a lack of confidence. However, according to Politicususa.com, “Americans View Democrats as More Ethical and Honest. … Despite spending years attacking the character of President Obama and the Democrats, a new Pew Research Center survey found that the American people trust Democrats more than Republicans 41% to 31%.”

Is there anyone Americans trust more than Obama? Gallup answered that question with a December 17, 2013 poll. I think that’s recent enough to still be trusted.

Eighty-two percent of Americans trust Nurses and 70% grade school teachers. At the bottom are political lobbyists at 6% and members of Congress at 8%. Even newspaper reporters were trusted by only 21%. In fact, 34% think the wealthy are less honest.

I then wondered why a nurse or grade school teacher hasn’t run for president. But since we don’t have a nurse or grade school teacher as President, I guess we’ll just have to live with President Obama who does a whole lot better with the trust factor than everyone who’s badmouthing him in the media—like neoconservative Rupert Murdock’s Fox News and all those negative political ads the infamous libertarian Koch brothers are paying for to make democrats running for reelection look bad so Americans lose trust in them and vote for a Republican instead.

Since I was a teacher for thirty years and taught mostly 7th, 8th and 9th grades, I wanted to know what Americans thought about all public school teachers, not just grade school teachers. The Christian Science Monitor reported last August 2013 that “Americans remain largely critical of the US education system as a whole, but parents, especially, are increasingly pleased with their neighborhood schools and more displeased (unhappy) with the rising use of standardized, multiple choice tests to evaluate, and potentially punish, teachers, a new Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll suggests.” And “72 percent of respondents say they trust the men and women who are ‘teaching children in the public schools.’”

Maybe a nurse should run for president and a teacher for vice president. In fact, let’s fire Congress and fill those seats with nurses and public school teachers and let them run the country. In the meantime, President Obama still has the highest approval rating compared to both parties, Congress, the tea party people, the media, neoconservatives and libertarians. Do you think we can trust the media to report that?

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy. He was a public school teacher for thirty years (1975 – 2005)

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Understanding the wealthy who are robbing the rest of us and why we have to fight back

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Sun TzuThe Art of War

I read Diane Ravitch’s Blog daily and the names of wealthy robber barons and wolves of Sesame Street appear often, because these billionaire oligarchs are behind the push to destroy the democratically run public schools in the United States and then use that tax money to fund for-profit private schools that usually aren’t better than the public schools and are often worse. And little seems to stand in their way.

Taking advice from Sun Tzu, I wanted to understand the enemy—as I see them—and decided to do a bit of research starting with The American Conservative.com that said, “The rich elites of this country have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens. … Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension—and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?”

Payscale.com says, “The psychology of the rich is different than the psychology of the poor. … some studies suggest they lack empathy. For example, a study in California showed that drivers of the most expensive cars defied the law and did not stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, while drivers of more common cars obeyed the law and waited for pedestrians to cross the street.”

And if you think most Americans can depend on members of Congress to stop this robbery, think again. ABC News.com reported, “In contrast to lawmakers’ $1,008,767 median ‘average’ net worth calculated by the Center for Responsive Politics, median household net worth in the U.S. was $68,828 in 2011, the most recent year for which the U.S. Census Bureau has estimated household net worth.”

In addition, President Obama’s net worth is listed as $12.2 million. (CelebrityNetWorth.com)

I’m sure you’ve heard plenty about welfare and how deadbeats are living off taxpayers—for instance, free school lunches for the 21 million kids who live in poverty or food stamps for Wal-Mart employees who are paid poverty wages, but I’m also sure you haven’t heard much about how the Government spends more on Corporate Welfare Subsidies than Social Welfare Programs.

And the evidence suggests that the Congress takes care of its own, because the wealthy are never satisfied with what they’ve got and always want more. According to Think by Numbers.org, “About $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. So, the government spent 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance in 2006.”

In fact, BigThink.com says, “Recent experiments have demonstrated that people who associate greed with positive values—a view that correlates highly with having wealth—are more likely to behave unethically in a host of circumstances, including cutting off drivers in traffic and cheating while gambling. In fact, research shows that simply being in the presence of physical wealth reduces people’s propensity to share. Of course not all financial professionals are liars and cheats but the industry, by its nature, seems prone to unethical behavior.”

In conclusion, if you are familiar with what’s happening in the war to destroy the democratic public schools in the United States and the billionaire oligarchs—for instance, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdock, Michael Bloomberg, the Koch Brothers and the Walton Family, etc—who may profit off America’s middle class tax payers who pay taxes to support the public schools, you may have a better understanding of why they’re doing this.

This doesn’t excuse what these billionaires are doing. What it means is that the rest of us, the other 316+ million Americans who are not wealthy, have to fight back to hold on to what little we have left.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

International PISA test misconceptions (lies, lies and more lies) when comparing the US public schools to the world

On December 4, 2013, a New York Times headline shouted: “Shanghai Students Again Top Global Test”, and once again, America’s vocal critics of the U.S. Public Schools called for more reforms.

Not so fast. In fact, maybe not at all.

In China, the first nine years of education is compulsory starting before age 7. Primary school takes the first six of those nine years; then there’s middle school for grades 7, 8, and 9.

Fifteen is the age of students who take the international PISA test—and in China [so-called] compulsory education ends at the age of fifteen and students who decide to stay in school have a choice between a vocational or academic senior high school track. That’s where the choice ends because in China the senior high schools pick students based on merit.

To explain how this works, the CCP has acknowledged a “9-6-3 rule”. This means that nine of ten children began primary school between the ages of 6 and 7; six complete the first five years and three graduate from sixth grade with good performance.

By the time a student reaches senior high school—grades 10, 11, and 12—most enrollment is in the cities and not in rural China. Most rural Chinese don’t value education as much as urban Chinese do. And many of the migrant urban workers from rural China still have some family back in the village where they often leave their younger children. And many migrant workers, when they retire from factory work, return to the village and the family home.

The United States, by comparison, keeps most kids in school until the end of high school at age 17/18. About 75% graduate on time and another 15% earn their high school diploma or equivalent GED by age 24—all on an academic track because there is no vocational public schools k to 12 in the U.S.

In addition, in China there is the Zhongkao, the Senior High School Entrance Examination, held annually to distinguish the top students who then are admitted to the highest performing senior high schools. This means that if the highest rated high school in Shanghai has 1,000 openings for 10th graders, the students who earn the top 1,000 scores on the Zhongkao get in and then the second highest rated high school takes the next batch of kids until the lowest rated senior high school in Shanghai gets the kids with the bottom scores on the Zhongkao.

Maybe actual numbers will help clarify what this means:

In 2010, 121 million children attended China’s primary schools with another 78.4 million in junior and senior secondary schools. That total is 199.4 million kids.

According to World Education News & Reviews: “In 2010, senior high schools [in China] accommodated 46.8 million students (23.4% of the  199.5 million). But about 52 percent or only 40.8 million were enrolled in general senior high school, and 48 percent of those students were attending vocational senior high schools.”

That leaves 21.2 million enrolled in the senior high school academic track designed to prep kids for college—that’s 10.6% of the total. Then consider that Shanghai’s public schools are the best in China. This means that the fifteen-year-old students who take the international PISA in China are the elite of the elite attending China’s best public schools.

For a fair comparison—not what we’ll hear from the critics of public education in the United States—the Economic Policy Institute reports: “The U.S. administration of the most recent international (PISA) test resulted in students from the most disadvantaged schools being over-represented in the overall U.S. test-taker sample. This error further depressed the reported average U.S. test score. … But U.S. students from advantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the top-scoring countries [Canada, Finland, South Korea, France, Germany and the U.K.]” and “U.S. students from disadvantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the three similar post-industrial countries.”

In fact, “U.S. students from advantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the top-scoring countries of Finland and Canada. … and—on average—for almost every social class group, U.S. students do relatively better in reading than in math, compared to students in both the top-scoring and the similar post-industrial countries.”

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the multi-award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Who’s better off compared to what?

Carol Hymowitz writing for Bloomberg Business Week reported that [some] baby boomers are poorer in old age than their parents. My response: “Who cares?”

To gain a much wider perspective on the quality of life today, I think we must consider what life was like before minimum wage laws, labor unions, child labor laws and women gaining the right to vote and own property—that didn’t come about until the early 20th century contributing to the creation of America’s modern middle class.

For most Americans today even if they are worse off financially than their parents, they are still much better off than most Americans in the early 20th century and the entire 19th century.

For instance, the average life expectancy in America in 1900 was 48 years. Today that average life expectancy is 78.7.

And in 1900, only 6.4 percent of Americans earned high-school degrees compared to 90% today (by age 24 because some do not earn their high school degree on time at age 17/18). Logically, if only 6.4% of Americans graduated from high school in 1900, there must have been a high rate of illiteracy and ignorance in the United States.

What about college graduates in 1900 compared to today—how many graduated from college back then? The answer is 38,000 (in 1900 there were 76 million Americans meaning less than 0.05% of the population graduated from college mostly from families that were in the top 1% financially).

But this year: During the 2013–14 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award 943,000 associate’s degrees; 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees; 778,000 master’s degrees; and 177,000 doctor’s degrees.

In fact, more than 20% of adult Americans have college degrees today—that’s almost 46 million.

Even if the parents of Baby Boomers have more money—which makes since because they are older and worked longer—life is much better than it was in 1900 and the public schools are succeeding at the job of educating America’s youth better than at any time in the history of the United States regardless of what the critics who want to destroy public education claim.

And where did America’s modern middle class come from in the first place?

The period from the end of World War II to the early 1970s was a golden era of American capitalism because—for instance—the G.I. Bill financed a well-educated work force, and the middle class swelled.

The U.S. underwent a golden age of economic growth distributed fairly evenly across the economic classes, with some credit going to the strength of labor unions—labor union membership peaked historically in the U.S. during the 1950s, in the middle of this massive economic growth.

You also may want to seriously consider this: Think Progress.org reports that as union membership decreases, middle class income shrinks. In 1967, when union membership was high, the middle class earned more than 25% of the national income but by 2007, that ratio had fallen to 10% of income, and the rich—who are often critics and enemies of labor unions—just get richer.

In addition, much of the growth of the modern middle class came from the movement of low income farm workers into better paying jobs in the towns and cities—a process largely completed by 1960.

In 1801, when Jefferson became president, 95 percent of Americans essentially made their full-time living from agriculture. By the turn of the 20th century, it was 45 percent, and by the turn of the 21st less than 2 percent. (An America without farmers?)

Maybe the real truth is that following World War II, America grew a middle class urban bubble as Americans fled farms to the cities and now that bubble’s getting ready to pop just like the dot com and real estate bubbles exploded.

When many are starving in the cities, will the few farmers left in the United States be starving on their farms?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Did I hear Abraham Lincoln groan as he rolled over in his grave? Part 3 of 3

Back to the question that I asked in Part 1—why has it been so easy for the GOP to fool so many adult Americans into believing that President Obama is responsible for the growth of the national debt since he took the oath of office?

I think it has to do with adult literacy skills where one cannot understand what he or she reads, and those adults turn to some other source for information—for example—Fox News; Rush Limbaugh; Sean Hannity; Glenn Beck and others just like them who spew misinformation cherry-picked from facts that mislead fools.

In the United States, 43% of adults read at the most basic level and only 4% read at the highest level of literacy. … [the 43%] is a class of adults who, although not meeting criteria for functional illiteracy, face reduced job opportunities and life prospects due to inadequate literacy levels relative to the requirements of contemporary society.

And these people are eligible to vote. In fact, ten of the eleven poorest states in the US voted for McCain, the Republican candidate for president in 2008. In addition, the top 15 most educated states voted for Obama while 82% of the least educated states voted for McCain. Source: DailyKos.com


Bill Maher: most Americans are Dumb and Uneducated

My conclusion: if your literacy skills are so low you have no idea of how to find the facts to check what your favorite conservative claims is the truth as he or she cherry- picks the facts, then you are easy to fool.

And if you are among the 4% who read at the highest levels and you believe that President Obama is one-hundred percent responsible for the increase in the National Debt since he took the oath of office, then you are lazy because the facts are there—from primary sources—for anyone who wants to spend the time to discover them just like I did for this series of posts.

If you have read this far and want to learn more, you may want to read about discretionary spending versus mandatory spending at Keeping America Great.org. And if you read this short explanation, you may notice that the word “President” doesn’t appear anywhere. But the word “Congress” does—over and over.

Here’s my first recommendation for spending cuts: cut the Department of Defense by 50% and stop fighting wars with countries that never attacked America. Vietnam never attacked America. Iraq never attacked America.  And it could be argued that Afghanistan never attacked America. The attack on 9/11in New York was caused by al Qaeda who was operating out of Afghanistan when the Taliban ruled that country.

Al Qaeda is made up of terrorists who are scattered across many countries but rule none. They are hunted criminals, killers and outlaws and the Taliban were removed from power in Afghanistan during the war and now are no different than al Qaeda.

Do we really need to spend $700 billion annually to fight these terrorist gangs who have no country?

Abraham Lincoln was right. There will always be some people who will be fooled all of the time.

After reading all three of the posts in this series, if you still believe Obama is responsible for the increase in the National Debt while he has been in office, prove it by showing us where he increased discretionary spending without approval of the Congress.

Return to I heard Abraham Lincoln groan as he rolled over in his grave: Part 2 or start with Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Tesla fire panics herd of Wall Street Investors to run off cliff

What does a herd of Wall Street Investors sound like in a panic? Hint, they sound like cows or sheep in a stampede.

I read about this Tesla fire in a piece published by Yahoo! Autos called “First fire in a Tesla Model S burns $600 million off the company’s value”.

And I loved the last sentence in the piece Justin Hyde wrote for Motoramic.  He said, “For now there’s nothing in this case to suggest they’re anywhere near as flammable as the gallons of gasoline millions of drivers rely on daily.”

Curious about fires in gasoline powered vehicles, I turned to Google and discovered a fema.gov report that said about one in six fires is a highway vehicle fire and eighty-four percent of highway vehicle fires occur in passenger vehicles.

Get this, fema.gov reports that “From 2004 – 2006, an estimated 258,500 highway vehicle fires occurred each year. … and resulted in an average of approximately 490 deaths, 1,275 injuries, and $1 billion in property loss each year.”

That one fire in an electric-powered Tesla goes to prove that an ignorant mob is easy to lead around by the nose and is prone to panic. I think American politicians and radio talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh are very aware of this fact.

Imagine the panic caused if every fire in a gas-powered vehicle was reported by the media.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

A Politically Correct Mob Attacks Dr. Phil

Oprah’s Dr. Phil asked a question on his Twitter account and there was immediate outrage. [Oprah owns the Dr. Phil show]. Source: The Huffington Post

The message, sent late Tuesday afternoon to the self-help guru’s 1.1 million-plus followers, asked, “If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil.” It included the hashtag “#teensaccused.”

The anger that Dr. Phil’s Tweet unleashed is an example of how fast a mob driven by political correctness and ignorance can react.

A spokesperson for Dr. Phil’s show soon issued a statement: “This tweet was intended to evoke discussion leading into a very serious show topic. It was not intended to be taken lightly.  It’s based on a recent news story, hence the #teensaccused label.”

I don’t see Dr. Phil’s question as offensive.  I see it as a question to gather info to see what Americans think and to discover how many may think it is okay to take advantage of a drunk teen female.

For example, when I was still teaching high school English/literature, my students debated a similar topic when we were reading Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”.

That topic was about “no” meaning “no”.  The girls all agreed that “no” meant “no”, but many of the guys disagreed and said “no” meant “yes” and that “yes” meant “yes”.

I sided with the girls!

I taught “Romeo and Juliet” for sixteen years to about five classes each year [I taught for thirty years but the first 14 were mostly in 7th and 8th grade where we did not read Shakespeare].

That adds up to about 80 debates with about 3,000 students taking part and that was one of the more lively debates. By the way, the girls ended up winning all those debates but there were a few hard-core male teens that refused to agree.  My suggestion to the girls was not to date those guys.

Dr. Phil, if you are reading this,  that response in my classroom may offer an answer to your question regarding teens.

However, I was offended by the politically correct mob’s reaction that basically censured any honest debate, because who in their right mind would say it was okay even if he thought it was okay.

I’m interested to know if there are any females out there who would agree with the teen boys who said “no” means “yes”.  Never in sixteen years of debates on that question, did one girl agree with the teen boys who thought “no” meant “yes” and “yes” meant “yes”—it seems to me that this sort of thinking among many teen boys shows that parents need to do more parenting and start early.  But I suspect that when it comes to sex, many parents feel this topic is taboo and also politically incorrect explaining the knee jerk reaction of one of today’s politically correct and ignorant mobs.


Parents need to talk to their children about safe sex starting at a young age. Ignoring it, does not make it go away.

America’s Founding Fathers warned the citizens of a newly born United States about how democracy leads to mob rule and it is a challenge to hold on to freedom. This is another example.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

 

The Internet is not a Safe Haven for being Anonymous when Behaving Badly

There is no guarantee that being anonymous online offers a safe haven to be abusive to others.

Recently, I was in a scuffle with a flock of anonymous voices on Amazon and as I struggled to disengage from the issue, I was warned that I should apologize to all the anonymous voices hiding behind the masks, and I asked myself why do people do this in the first place?

Maybe this post on Standing in Your Power.com helps explains it better than I can:

“Did you know that up to 90% of our subconscious mind is filled with negative, counterproductive thoughts? That’s what Dr. Bruce Lipton reports, in his book The ‘Biology of Belief’. This negativity, if not reprogrammed, bubbles up as negative self-talk.”

And when our self-talk is dominated by negativity, how we interact with other people is often negative too. In addition, being anonymous on the Internet magnifies that negativity giving an individual a false sense of power that is explained by a behavior called disinhibition.

In fact, in the late 1980s, to change my life and rid myself of character traits that I did not like, on the advice of a close friend, I read a book called “What to Say When you Talk to Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter, and this book is still in print decades later. Reading that book helped me take charge of who I am so I could be a better person and chart my own course.

76% of 163 Amazon reviews rate “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself” with five stars (13% rate it with four stars). Only 4% rate it with one star, and this clearly says that not all opinions are equal.

When I read this book and followed Helmstetter’s advice, Amazon did not exist (Amazon was founded in 1994), and I am now planning to write a five-star review of the book because if I had not read it and followed the author’s advice in the 1980s, I’m sure that I would have continued to drift aimlessly through life letting the negative voices control me instead of setting goals to change what I wanted to change and achieve what I have achieved.

However, that doesn’t mean the battle is over. It never ends. Reading one book and following the advice of its author will not erase the negative voices that are always there tempting us to doubt who we are and to take the wrong path and make the wrong decisions in life—the same negative voices that I’m sure are the controlling factor in the behavior of all of the people I collided with on the Katherine Ashe and “Tough Cookie” Amazon threads where I struggled with a flock of mostly anonymous voices.

When we are aware of that negative voice in our head, and we discover it is a factor in something we said or did, then we have a choice to continue down the destructive path or change course.  In this case, I decided to change course.

But that does not erase the fact that some of these anonymous voices on Amazon have slandered me. For example the voice that called me an ”egotistical snob” for the whole world to see, and that was only one example possibly explaining the reason why the sales of my books that have held steady for several years suddenly—almost overnight—dropped by about fifty percent.

In addition, I think most of these anonymous voices have no intention of changing course and if that is true, then they may, inadvertently lead us all into court in a costly law suit that could possibly lead to laws that take away the privilege of anonymity on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Anonymity is not guaranteed. It is a privilege that can be taken away by Congress or the courts if through slanderous abuse, enough people, who do not hide behind anonymity, are injured as I now believe that my hard-earned reputation has been damaged.

In fact, you can read about the wider picture of this issue in Finding and Identifying Perpetrators of Online Defamation on Dancing With Lawyers.com

Attorney Nicholas Carroll says,  “Positively identifying (and/or proving) the person or people who are defaming you on the Internet is one of the most difficult parts of fighting online slander (or libel, more accurately).

“It’s also one of the most useful – and perhaps the most important – elements in stopping online defamation, because online slanderers rely heavily on staying anonymous. When they get a cease-and-desist letter arriving through snail mail at their physical address, they get scared. With good reason, because now they are the hunted, not the hunter.”

And Carroll recommends a company called Cyber Investigation Services.com that specializes in tracking down abusers of anonymity on the Internet.

Here’s what Cyber Investigations Services says, “WE SOLVE INTERNET DEFAMATION – GUARANTEED”

“When most victims or their attorneys see internet defamation attacks, it is often their first time. For CIS, we see 100′s per month and have developed techniques and solutions simply not known or available to others. This is why we are often able to offer our solutions with a PAY FOR PERFORMANCE ONLY agreement.”

Attorney Nicholas Carroll is the author of “Fighting Slander”, “Law of the Blog”, and “Dancing with Lawyers” (all of which are on the shelves of law libraries at eminent law schools.)

In conclusion, I have one question to ask: How do you slander and ruin the reputation and life of an anonymous person?

You don’t. They do it to themselves.

Discover more on this issue by reading Dealing with Internet Bullies


Sue Scheff won an $11.3 million internet defamation lawsuit in 2006, when false statements were being made about her online.

The laws that cover Internet behavior are still evolving. Sue Scheff’s case is one example of that evolution and it cost the anonymous bully or bullies a lot of money. In fact, there is an Internet Defamation Law Blog.

dba oracle.com says, “Many people on the web think that privacy laws protect their anonymity, but that’s not the case when criminal charges are filed.  Google’s motto is ‘Do no evil’ and they are cooperating with law enforcement to help prosecute crooks by introducing their Google searches as evidence.”

To discover more about this issue visit:

Dealing with Internet Bullies

Taking it Global: Online Freedom of Speech versus the 6th Amendment

Is this an example of Defamation?—not protected by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Who’s behaving badly? A culture of arrogance

Ginmar: Alleged Cyber Bully, Troll and Stalker?

Found Guilty because of Reckless and False Speech – based on true events

Other sites on this subject:

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”