Thursday, September 29, 2011

CPAC Florida

This past weekend, the American Conservative Union hosted the first regional Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a 1-day event which took place in Orlando, Florida. Delegates from various local organizations voted in a presidential straw poll, which Herman Cain won by a landslide:

Additionally, a Senate straw poll was taken in which everyone attending the conference was invited to vote. The Florida candidates were Adam Hasner (who won with 34%), Mike McCalister (30%), George LeMieux (24%), and Craig Miller (12%).

I voted for George LeMieux because I was impressed with his anti-corruption record and openly Christian stances (very similar to Rick Santorum in the Presidential sphere). Adam Hasner is uniquely in favor of 12-year Congressional term limits, which is a very good idea. However, I walked out on Mike McCalister's speech because his stereotypical, military-Republican bludgeoning was aggravating me, so I never got to listen to Craig Miller. But I walked out on Mr. McCalister for the same reason I walked out on the speech by the VP of the NRA, which was simply that there were other things to listen to (the schedule carried quite a bit of overlap) and I am not particularly interested in becoming one of the more vehement supporters of gun rights. I can respect that owning a gun is a right granted by the Constitution, but I will likely never own a gun myself. Sort of like non-religious people supporting freedom of religion but not necessarily wanting to sit in on a sermon. That kind of thing.

Having not listened to the Thursday night Fox News debate (I decided to get a good night's sleep for CPAC; also, strangely enough, I had no idea it was occurring), the results of the Presidential straw poll were surprising to me based on the candidates' speeches on Friday. Michele Bachmann gave us a lot of the same stuff she's been giving us, Newt Gingrich talked about Reagan and American history (apparently he's a historian by training; who knew), Mitt Romney made the most sense, where Rick Perry was contradicting himself at every turn; Gary Johnson got nervous and seemed to be trying to please his audience, where Ron Paul and Rick Santorum were absolutely on fire. Herman Cain, however, seemed to lack substance. I know a lot of people really love him, especially Tea Party people, but personally, I can't get past the fact that he's not qualified. I can't vote for someone who is all fire and no wood. In fact, I'd like to choose the most boring candidate out there so that I can rest assured that they're not going to do anything stupid. That's what we need right now: not a motivational speaker, but a boring President whom young people will magically support. (But I did hear that Herman Cain did very well during the debate.)

I went to CPAC FL because I wanted to get a better picture of who I was going to support in the Primaries. However, not much changed. I'm still leaning toward either Michele Bachmann or Newt Gingrich. Michele Bachmann is appealing to me because of her pro-Israel stance, which for her means more than just being pro-Israel: she derived that view from Scripture, which means that she will be a President who seeks counsel from God before acting. However, many people who I talked to at CPAC were afraid that because Middle Eastern culture weighs respect heavily in war and also sees women as inferior, having a female Commander-in-Chief could potentially be dangerous for us—not because of us, but because of those who want to kill us. I'm not sure about this, but I found it to be an intriguing observation. Newt Gingrich is appealing to me because he is knowledgeable. Not only is he knowledgeable in history and has a love of learning, but he has economic experience that will be very valuable to us in our current position. He helped balance the budget in 1994 under Clinton.

Additionally, because this was a regional CPAC, a panel of Cuban-Americans gave us an enlightening and much-needed lesson on the current state of Cuba under the Castro regime. Apparently people are trying to protest, but are being arrested and even killed. There is even an American journalist who has been held hostage in Cuba for the past 2 years. The Internet in the form that we know it is not permitted in Cuba, and neither is gathering in the streets if you're a group of more than 4 people. The regime keeps tight control over what information comes into Cuba and what information gets out into America, and much of what you've been hearing (or, more accurately, not hearing) about Cuba in the past decade or two has been regime-sponsored media. If you're interested in this, please check out these blogs: BabalĂș and Alberto de la Cruz.

Here is a picture of me with two Revolutionary era "Tea Partiers." They spoke with English accents and said things like, "Down with the monarchy and down with kings!"


Too bad I didn't get a picture with a candidate, though, huh? Oh well, maybe next time!

Friday, September 16, 2011

1979: California Supreme Court rules that IQ tests are biased against African Americans

The following is taken from the tests and measurements textbook, Foundations in Psychological Testing: A Practical Approach (3rd Edition) by Miller, McIntire, and Lovler.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION BOX 2.1
Can IQ Tests be illegal?

Unless you live in California, you are probably not aware of the controversy surrounding the use of IQ scores as a method for placing children in
Educable Mentally Retarded (EMR) classes. In 1979, in the case of Larry P. v. Riles, testimony suggested that IQ tests are biased against African American children. The plaintiff, the party bringing the suit, showed that six African American children who scored low on one intelligence test scored much higher on the same test when it was revised to reflect the African American children's cultural background. The African American children's first scores placed them in the range labeled "retarded"; however, the scores from the revised test labeled them as "normal." In addition, evidence was given that a higher proportion of African American children, compared with the rest of the student body, were n EMR classes. This information caused the judge to rule that schools in California may not use IQ test scores to place African American children in EMR classes or their "substantial equivalent."

California abolished EMR classes, and in 1986 the same judge modified his ruling, this time banning the use of IQ tests to evaluate African American children referred for any special assessment. This ruling did not please all parents. For instance, Wendy Strong, the mother of a 7-year-old, tried to get help for her daughter, Brianna, who had problems in learning. Because her race was shown as African American on school records, school psychologists were not able to administer IQ tests to Brianna. Brianna's mother threatened to have her daughter's racial category changed so that she could be tested. Such a change was possible because Brianna had one African American parent and one White parent.

Eventually, another suit was brought be African American parents who wished to have their children tested. In 1994, the appeals court ruled that parents such as the Strongs were not adequately represented in the 1986 proceedings. Therefore, the court canceled the 1986 ruling but upheld the original 1979 ruling.

SOURCE: Adapted from
Crawford v. Honig, 9th Cir. 37 F.3d 485 (1994).

California's best solution to this problem was to have IQ tests banned, not just rewritten? My goodness, California has got to be one of the most ban-happy states in the country.


Come to think of it, at least preventing discrimination halfway makes sense. Today, cities in California are up to banning more useful things like circumcision (thankfully, struck down), plastic and paper bags, and goldfish.

SOURCE:

Miller, Leslie A., McIntire, Sandra A. & Lovler, Robert L. (2011). Foundations of psychological testing: A practical approach (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Attack Watch. Really, Obama?

In case you missed it today, the official campaign organization Obama for America launched a website called Attack Watch asking citizens to report attacks on the President's reputation. From BarackObama.com:
We’ve launched a new campaign resource today: AttackWatch.com.

If you’re worried about the increasing negativity of the attacks on President Obama and his record, now's your chance to fight back with the facts. Visit AttackWatch.com to learn the truth about frequent smears, track new attacks as they happen, and report false allegations you’ve seen or heard.

We’ve heard it all since 2008, from lies about the Affordable Care Act to false rumors that the Obama administration hasn’t been an ally to Israel. These aren’t just unfounded allegations about the President—they’re attempts to derail the momentum of this movement and undermine everything we’ve accomplished together in the last three years.

Check out AttackWatch.com to help stop these attacks before they start.

Here are some screen shots I took in case they take it down. Because how can you fail so hard without somebody saying something?




As Orwellian as it looks, it's probably just a campaign website (you can donate to the Obama campaign by clicking on "Support the Truth"). But is the image of a scary totalitarian who wants to silence dissenters really the image that Obama wants to portray for re-election? And what's with the freaky red-and-black?

Attack Watch is almost as bad sounding as Obama's jobs speech (read: campaign speech) a few days ago. "PASS THIS JOBS BILL NOW, RIGHT NOW (what bill?) and I'll make Warren Buffett and his friends cough up the $447 billion." Well now if that doesn't sound Socialist, I must not know what Socialism is. This is how he's campaigning? I guarantee you that if you know the slightest bit of American history but you voted for Obama in 2008, after you listen to the jobs speech you won't want to re-elect him in 2012. He's doing it to himself. It's actually quite hilarious to watch.



It's not just that. The White House has been spamming Twitter and advertising itself on the Internet as though it were a business. And this morning, The Daily Caller reported that Obama is alienating wealthy donors to charity by limiting tax deductions (granted, I think tax deductions are weird, but I'm not rich.) Quote:
One email from an Obama donor asked if Democrats believe “government does it best and charities are bystanders?” Obama’s proposal, the email said, “perhaps is enough to make me a Republican after all.”

I sincerely wonder if he's doing this because he's sick and tired of being President. Maybe he needs a break. Either way, he's snapped.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Where Were You When the Twin Towers Fell?

Yesterday, America commemorated the tenth anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attacks. At the large memorial service in New York, George and Laura Bush were present, Yo-Yo Ma performed on the cello, and President Barack Obama read Psalm 46. Israel held another memorial service in Jerusalem as President Shimon Peres expressed Israel's solidarity with the United States of America.

I remember exactly what I was doing when the twin towers fell. I was in seventh grade in 2001. Those of us who were outside in P.E. classes that morning heard the news later than most everyone in the school. However, I had asked my coach if I could go to my locker to get my asthma inhaler. As I was walking through the hallway in the courtyard of Adams Middle School, every classroom had its door open and the television tuned in to the same station. Teachers were covering their mouths and walking to neighboring classrooms. Not knowing what was happening, I simply shrugged and went back to P.E.

It wasn't until 3rd period with my unforgettable Irish-speaking Geography teacher Mr. Ellis that we realized what had happened. The math teacher from the neighboring classroom, Mrs. Garcia, interrupted our project about fifteen minutes into class and asked Mr. Ellis to turn on the news station. The second tower had been hit. It was hard to make myself realize that what was happening was real and not a movie, but we watched as the towers came crumbling down in a heap of rubble, and a cloud of smoke, dust and ash rose up where those tall buildings had been. I knew it was serious when we were asked not to complete our project because it didn't matter.

About an hour later, my mom was one of the many moms who pulled their kids out of school for the rest of the day. As we were arriving at the door of our apartment, our neighbor urgently told my mom that there were rumors that the Pentagon had been hit, but that no one knew whether it was an accident borne out of a strange coincidence or if it was related. We walked into our dark apartment. The electricity was off and the air conditioner had covered the carpet with dirty water that sloshed between our toes. We got the electricity back. Even though our couch was turned up on its side, we turned on the news and watched as America realized that it had been attacked by terrorists. We had lunch upstairs on my bed where it wasn't wet, and my mom, for the first and only time I have seen her do this, led us in a tearful prayer.

That next Sunday, and about four Sundays after that, we went to church for the first time in our lives. It was a different church each Sunday because we were "church shopping." My mom made me dresses because I didn't have any, but I could tell that she was scared, because she was an excellent seamstress and none of these dresses fit. All of the adults around me seemed terrified and emotional, and I started seeing American flags and crosses everywhere. One of these churches gave me a blue paperback NIV Bible and assigned me homework out of the book of Proverbs. I felt a little lost, but I read anyway.

I am thankful to whatever church this was, because a year or so later, I started reading Genesis, then the next year, Matthew, as, alone in my room, I began my journey to knowing God. This Bible was eventually confiscated after I began going to church against my mom's wishes in 10th grade. When I was baptized secretly in 11th grade, I was forced to run away and go into hiding so that, after my plans to live elsewhere had been solidified, I could go to church and college. After having been beaten and humiliated for my faith, I didn't have much else to lose, and money and belongings meant very little.

Looking back, September 11th, 2001 played a large part in my life. If I didn't have that Bible, I'm not sure where I would be right now. I regret that I don't know who it was who gave it to me, but I know that God knows and will reward all those who used that terrible day to bring light into people's lives.

Where were you when the twin towers fell?