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About nooneofanyimport

Interests: Truth, politics, law, parenting, finally learning history, sound finances, preservation of sanity

All In All You’re Just A . . .

As you may already know, homeschooling is with rare exception illegal in Germany, as well as many other countries.  Over the last few years Sweden and Germany have become more tyrannical over the issue, even raiding homes SWAT-style, removing children and putting parents in jail.

Since learning of the Romeikes’ quest for political asylum here in the United States, all I’ve done so far is look up the basic criteria for granting asylum:

“a well-founded fear of persecution based on at least one of five internationally recognized grounds:  race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”

and briefly attempt to debate a commenter over at Tom’s who, unsurprisingly, didn’t stick around for much of my argumentative stylings:

The criteria to which you refer are race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and social group.  I could reasonably argue that social group and political opinion apply, but the most obvious criterion is religion.

Want to take another stab at your argument that their decision to homeschool is not religiously based?

He did not want to take another stab.

The 6th Circuit ruled several weeks ago that the German homeschooling-and-evangelical-Christian family is not eligible for refugee status and should be deported.  The Romeikes appealed for a rehearing en banc. The DOJ responded on the 26th of June.  At this point, the parties are waiting to see if the 6th Circuit will grant the rehearing.  If they do not, the Romeikes’ next step will be to appeal directly to SCOTUS.

Now I’ve had a peek at the two latest briefs.  They aren’t long or complicated.  Basically, the Petitioners said the 6th Circuit panel did not follow precedent for evaluating asylum claims, and further that the panel’s new rule is flawed and the decision erroneous.

The United States responded first with the obligatory standard of proof argument that every party not bearing heightened scrutiny uses in the hopes of winning without getting to the merits of the case.  Then they basically said nuh-uh, they did too decide correctly.

The arguments are mainly legal, but the DOJ also disagrees on a crucial point of fact: whether the German government uses its compulsory attendance law in order to prevent Christians from homeschooling their children for religious reasons.

Appellate courts give deference to trial-level findings of fact.  Since this was an administrative case, the trial level wasn’t in a federal district court, but rather before an administrative judge, who granted the Romeikes’ request for asylum.  In order to rule in their favor, the judge must have made factual findings in favor of the Romeikes.  Yet, the only reference to findings of fact is in a DOJ reference to the “Board.” How that relates to the administrative judge’s decision, I do not know.

Anyhow, in the latest brief the Petitioners used a quote from a high-level German court to demonstrate intent to prevent religiously motivated homeschooling:

Home-schoolers are prosecuted . . . because “[t]he general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religious or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities in this area.”

Konrad, Bundesver-fassungsgericht [Federal Constitutional Court] April 29, 2003, 1 BvR 436/03 (F.R.G.). A.R. 760.

Got that?  The public is justified in counteracting minority religious groups.  Hilariously, the DOJ expands the very same quote, arguing that the context disproves the quote’s own plain meaning:

Romeike continues to make much of a single line in a German court’s opinion upholding the law here, indicating that the public has an interest in counteracting the development of religious or philosophically motivated “parallel societies.” . . . But one need look no further than the same paragraph from which the “offending” line is drawn to determine that . . . the law has nothing to do with marginalizing Romeike based on any protected status.

The subtle misuse of quotation marks is a nice touch–using them only for the “parallel society,” which should really be a quote within a quote, then coupling it with “offending,” which isn’t a quote at all but a sly way to say yeah right.  The impression is that the “parallel society” phrase might merely be the Petitioners’ over-dramatization, rather than, you know, the actual words used by the German court to describe homeschoolers.

If you are still reading this getting-longer-by-the-minute post, you must be ready to see how the expanded quote shows that counteracting is by no means marginalizing, let alone persecuting:

“The general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities in this area.  Integration does not only require that the majority of the population does not exclude religious or ideological minorities, but, in fact, that these minorities do not segregate themselves and that they do not close themselves off to a dialogue with dissenters and people of other beliefs.  Dialogue with such minorities is an enrichment for an open pluralistic society.  The learning and practicing of this in the sense of the experienced tolerance is an important lesson right from the elementary school stage.  The presence of a broad spectrum of convictions in a classroom can sustainably develop the ability of all pupils in being tolerant and exercising the dialogue that is a basic requirement of democratic decision-making process.”

For anyone whose eyes keep sliding off this formidable bulwark of progressive platitude (dialog with dissenters! experienced tolerance! sustainably develop!), let me rephrase:  we have to be intolerant of you in order to teach your children tolerance.

I can’t help but admire this reasoning.  It’s a perfect example of Orwellian doublespeak–a work of art, assuming you can buy the idea that lying is an art.

Now, I’m no fancy German judge nor United States attorney, but I’m pretty sure that a “religiously motivated ‘parallel society'” is a social group.  You know, one of those little criterion for being granted asylum in the United States if you have a well-grounded fear of being persecuted for membership in it.

Interestingly, social groups to whom the United States has granted asylum in the past include parents of Burmese student dissidents, Mexican men who identify themselves as women and are sexually attracted to other men, and former members of a Salvadoran street gang.  Yet religiously motivated homeschoolers aren’t a social group within the context of asylum?

And threats of jail and loss of your children defo isn’t persecution.

This post has grown too long, the hour has grown too late, and I just used “defoin a sentence.  I need to wrap things up.

You can read more on this case here, and here.  You can sign up for the latest updates on the Romeike case and sign a petition here.  Or you can bang your head in frustration right here, on this handy-dandy visual representation of what children are to those who believe natural rights do not include the right to educate your own kids:

brick wall

cross-posted at No One Of Any Import

 
 

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Help The Tampa Bay HEAT (Home Educators Athletic Teams)

I want to talk about my decision to fundraise for the Tampa Bay HEAT.

My decision is based on something bigger than the gratitude I feel for this organization.  I am fundraising for the HEAT’s dream of a full service school building because I see a tremendous need for it.

As I have encountered various homeschool groups in the last two years, I have noticed a pattern.  Each group tends to have a particular focus: academics, informal fellowship, or sports.  Of course, these goals overlap, but most groups give priority to one category over the others.

Without question, the hardest need to satisfy when homeschooling is participation in team sports.  “Tebow” laws are great but not a complete answer to the question of how we provide team sports to the homeschooling community at large.

Groups like the HEAT provide these needed team sports.  They have popped up all over the country.  Here are just a few examples:  Richmond VA, Knoxville TN, Lakeshore WI, Albuquerque NM, and West Michigan.

I don’t know how every group finds space for practice and home games.  I don’t know which ones have an easy time finding the space, and which ones have a hard of it.

Except the HEAT.  I know they have a hard time.  A huge chunk of their efforts and money goes to finding and renting practice space, and then finding and scheduling games against local private schools.  Their need for a gymnasium and sports field is as obvious a wart on a prom queen’s nose.

I’ve also seen how an effort like the HEAT draws so many other incidental programs:  academic classes, special interest clubs, field trips and social gatherings.

I couldn’t help but imagine how easy and wonderful it would be if they could do all these things under one roof.  A homeschool building.

When I mentioned this to the HEAT’s founder, Teresa Manganello . . . well.  It turns out I was preaching to the choir.

It also turns out that at least one homeschool community has already turned this vision into reality:  The Homeschool Building.  The facility in Wyoming, Michigan, is a great example of how a thriving homeschool community can come together under one roof.  Their school facility provides for the needs of the homeschooling community without assuming responsibility for the academic curricula.

A homeschool basketball association near Wyoming, Michigan, explains the importance of a physical school facility:

“As home schoolers, we are truly blessed to live in one of the best places in the world to educate our children as we see fit. One huge factor in that assessment is our access to the Home School Building. Through the years, the HSB [Home School Building] has hosted tutoring classes, soccer practices, volleyball games marching band, orchestras and, of course, basketball games and practices. It is difficult to imagine how different the WMHSAA basketball league would be without the HSB for meetings, practices and games.”

Did you catch that?  Folks have a hard time imagining how their homeschool sports league could have blossomed without the support of a homeschool-run school building.

It’s funny; we homeschoolers escaped brick-and-mortar schools in the best interest of our children.  Now, it turns out that brick-and-mortar buildings may be the best bet for homeschooling’s future.

Please consider donating a purely symbolic amount to the Tampa Bay HEAT building fund, here:  http://www.youcaring.com/nonprofits/tampa-bay-heat-mustard-seed-dream-fund/64690  So far my pledge to match up to $500 total of donations from my readers has elicited only one small donation.  Help me out here, guys, could you?  Just put in the comments that you donated as a No One Of Any Import reader, and I’ll match it up to a $500 total.

Crossposted at http://nooneofanyimport.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/homeschooling-in-and-out-of-our-league/

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2013 in Education, freedom

 

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The Existential Angst of Being

When I read about why one woman chose not to have children (hat tip to Missy:  thanks for giving me something to post about!), and then why another has remained single, my heart ached for these ladies.  A light-hearted rant about why it’s better to “die alone” than face motherhood didn’t cheer me any, so I wrapped up my research with an explanation why sleeping until 10am is proof that childlessness is the better choice.

My sympathy doesn’t stem from reasons one might expect:  the sadness of childlessness!  the loneliness of an old maid!

The problem is deeper than that, don’t you think?

Children, spouses, families:  as all-consuming as they can be, they are still just trees in that deep dark forest called Your Life.  The above-linked souls seem well and truly lost in their own forests, regardless of the kind of trees growing there.

Let’s pull back and try a broader perspective.  The further away our view, the less details can distract.  The picture becomes simpler, people turn into ants, then disappear, then bam!  The forest is right in front of you.

The question isn’t whether it’s better to have kids or not, or whether it’s better to marry or not.  The real question is, how do I find meaning in life?  Oh, that pesky human need to feel that life is meaningful:

I’m doing the right thing, right?  What’s it all for, anyway?

Interestingly, the articles written from more experienced perspectives (here and here) seem particularly riddled with doubt and worry, although I suspect the basic question–why am I here?–drifts like mist through every forest.  Perhaps the younger two authors haven’t wandered around long enough to feel the damp chill of worry yet.

Now, on to the meaning of life.  Having kids is pretty much the quickest, no-brainer kind of way to find meaning.  Those wiggly, squalling little blobs of secretion are great “purpose-givers,” are they not?

Yet children are only one of the myriad ways toward a meaningful life.  If you decide not to have them, or if circumstances decide for you, then what?  Life’s meaningless?  Of course not.  Let’s see, a thousand different religions, causes, good deeds, great adventures, ardent competitions, grand visions, or creative ambitions might fill up your life quite nicely.  Might.

The younger two writers point out the more practical benefit to childlessness, here:

“Because we are not having kids, I’ve been able to leave my old career and go back to school full time to pursue a new passion. My husband, forever the car enthusiast, has his sites [sic] set on a new Nissan GTR.”

And here, in an inverse fashion:

“Having kids is making a decision to live a life with strollers, diaper bags, breast pumps, sleep deprivation, and the withering looks from strangers like me, who wonder why you thought it was a good idea to bring your toddler to a Victorian painting exhibit.”

These explanations encapsulate the hope that living for yourself will provide meaning enough.  After all, if you don’t seek after your own interests, who will?

“For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things.  But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.  Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Oh, dear.  I’ve gone there, haven’t I?  To the very thing that would probably provoke eyerolls and scoffing from the kind of person who writes things like:

“I believe women who are supported by men are prostitutes, that is that, and I am heartbroken to live through a time where Wall Street money means these women are not treated with due disdain.”

It’s funny how that quote doesn’t bother me.  Me, the stay-at-home whore mom.  I’m no more insulted than I am when my younger son gets really upset and claims he’s going to run away.  How can I take the insult to heart, when the same article holds this angst:

“Convention serves a purpose: It gives life meaning, and without it, one is in a constant existential crisis. If you don’t have the imposition of family to remind you of what is at stake, something else will. I was alone in a lonely apartment with only a stalker to show for my accomplishments and my years.”

And more angst:

“I have lost my life. I had a lot of friends, saw people, had full days. I don’t know where anyone is anymore, and I can’t even remember who it is that is gone.”

Jeepers.  I hope Ms. Wurtzel finds good answers for those existential questions, and some peace in life.  If she or anyone else should happen to read this post, and if she or anyone else should further happen to find themselves unable to satisfy that need for meaning, no matter what is acquired or accomplished, well.

That particular Bible quote I used is Luke 20:30-32.  You could start there.

cross-posted at No One Of Any Import.

 
 

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If You Have a Problem, Consult 10th Newspeak Dictionary

Via The Corner at NRO, I’ve learned that “common core state standards in English spark a war over words.”  The Post article I’m quoting is currently a page not found, but it’s still up at The Independent:

“The Common Core State Standards in English, which have been adopted in 46 states and the District, call for public schools to ramp up nonfiction so that by 12th grade students will be reading mostly ‘informational text’ instead of fictional literature. . . .

Proponents of the new standards, including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, say U.S. students have suffered from a diet of easy reading and lack the ability to digest complex nonfiction, including studies, reports and primary documents. That has left too many students unprepared for the rigors of college and demands of the workplace, experts say.”

A “diet of easy reading” is one of the big problems in schools these days.  Huh.  The problem’s nothing to do with the dog’s breakfast already known as public school textbooks.  Well never fear–we’ve got our Little Helpers In DC to straighten out the problem:

“The new standards, which are slowly rolling out now and will be in place by 2014, require that nonfiction texts represent 50 percent of reading assignments in elementary schools, and the requirement grows to 70 percent by grade 12.

Among the suggested nonfiction pieces for high school juniors and seniors are Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” “FedViews,” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (2009) and “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management,” published by the General Services Administration.”

Notice the little bit of chaff used to throw us off:  de Tocqueville.  Nothing wrong with a more vigorous curriculum that requires some classic foundations of political philosophy, is there?

Maybe I’d be sold, notwithstanding the fact that de Tocqueville belongs in history, social studies, or some kind of government or civics class, not english.  When the de Tocqueville example is immediately followed by stereo instructions from a Federal Reserve Bank, and then a bureaucratic, Dilbert-inspired double-speaking document full of fluffy non-action action plans and catch phrases (Caveat:  I haven’t read that particular Executive Order.  Does anybody want to check my description for accuracy?), I can’t help but wonder exactly what kind of “workplace demands” for which these educators are preparing our young people.

A particular movie scene comes to mind.  Requiring students to read excessive amounts of tedious legalese might prepare them quite nicely for that cozy little cubicle in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth, as seen at 6:00:

cross-posted at No One Of Any Import

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Education

 

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The Top Ten Reasons To Vote For Obama 2012

I’ve limited my list to only those reasons stated by Obama’s official campaign, an administration spokesperson, or uttered by President Obama himself.

Here we go.

10.  Will Ferrell will eat anything (“garbage, hair, human toenails”) if you vote for Obama.  The idea of using your civic duty to pay for the degradation of a fellow-man is funny, right?

9.   Mitt Romney wants to cut investments in alternative energy.  For this reason to make sense, then cutting investments in alternative energy must be a bad thing.  Nevermind the fact that cronies are wasting other people’s money; you have to think like a true believer here.

8.  President Obama coined the term “Romnesia,” which is both witty and devastating for Mitt Romney, because he forgets things.  President Obama doesn’t forget things.  Except maybe this or this . . . or this.  Also, it appears Obama didn’t coin the term after all.  Hmm, maybe I should move on.

7.  Who can forget Attack Waaaaatch?  Okay, technically the campaign used only one “a” for this nifty little idea to tattle on fellow citizens who criticize the President.  Nowadays, though, the parody is all that is left of the original website.  The more congenial “Truth Team” has replaced it, leaving only the website address as a reminder of bolder times.

6. Obama says you should vote for him for one very simple reason: revenge.  I’m sure this is not any attempt to foment class resentment or anything.  It’s not class warfare, it’s math.  Revenge math.

Hoo, I’m halfway through already?  It must be time to list the really substantive reasons why President Obama should be reelected . . .

5.  All vaginas and uteri depend on Barack Obama.  Maybe this notion sounds silly to you.  If so, let me explain its true meaning:  President Obama is zealously pro-business, assuming your business is an abortion clinic.

4.  If this election is your first, then you should vote for Barack Obama because your first vote is a lot like the first time you have sex.  And having sex with Obama is better than having sex with Mitt Romney.  Okay.  I need a shower now.

3.  Obama should get your vote because his speeches come from his loins.  Ew, I’m still needing that shower.  Maybe . . . this isn’t really a reference to presidential genitals.  I mean, who talks about loins anyway, outside a cheesy romance novel?  You know, “Girding your loins“ means preparing for the worst.  I think Axelrod accidentally telegraphed the fact that Obama is preparing to lose.

2.  Obama is willing to use expletives while publicly name-calling his opponent.  This is a great reason for the edgy, Rolling Stone-reading, first-time voting, rock-and-roll-lifestyling set to choose Obama, assuming they weren’t all won over by Lena Dunham’s sex joke.

Oh dear.  I have more than one reason left, but I’ve already reached the number one.  What to do, what to do?  Math is so hard.

The three number one reasons to vote for Obama:

1(a).  The beautiful people have told us to vote for him.  They have way more fashion sense than we do, you know.

1(b).  Osama bin Ladin is still dead.

1(c).  Obama says that Al Qaeda has been “decimated.”  Given the chance, Ambassador Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Glenn Doherty, and Sean Smith might have begged to differ on this.  Prayers for their grieving loved ones.

Two more days to go, folks.  Two.  More.  Days.

 

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For All

Really, things have gotten so ridiculous that it’s a little hard to keep blogging.  After the eternity that has been Obama’s first term, continually explaining why 2 + 2 = 4 becomes a tiresome chore indeed, especially when one suspects that she is only preaching to the choir and making little headway otherwise.  I know, I know, speaking out is still important . . . but the little things get me down.

Like when I ran into a friend from three duty stations ago, and the upcoming presidential election came up.  I was treated to a casual remark that, while the current President’s record is unsatisfactory, she was afraid that an elected Romney wouldn’t let people have the freedom to marry who they want, and also he would require all women to wear skirts. (!?!eleventy!?!)

National security is more important than homosexual “rights,” I said, bringing up the hot mic incident, during which Obama demonstrated that he is willing to say one thing to the electorate, but another thing entirely to Russian leadership.  She had never heard about it.

Sigh.  Since I ran into this person at the commissary, at least I was able to soothe my nerves by buying some extra nonperishables.

Now, don’t you worry or nothin.  I haven’t given up hope.  I’m just running low on steam.  There’s not much for me to add to the conversation right now . . . at least, not anything that you and I haven’t said a hundred times apiece.

Only thing new to me is a little tidbit from Older Son’s curriculum.  I’ll share it, and see if it’s new to you as well.  You see, I’ve heard comparisons aplenty of the Democrat hold on black voters to the slavery of old.  C.L. Bryant made a whole movie on this very idea.  Click here to see if Runaway Slave is playing at a theater near you.

What I’ve never heard before is a positive comparison of slavery with the protective nanny-state progressives are always striving to achieve.  Apparently, though, pre-civil war Southerners made this very argument.  All defensive about their “peculiar institution,” many Southern apologists sought to explain why slavery was not a necessary evil, but actually for the best.  One of those apologists was George Fitzhugh.

Fitzhugh asserted in Cannibals All! or Slaves without Masters that Southern slaves were luckier than free Northern workers.  The Landmark History of the American People by Daniel Boorstin explains Fitzhugh’s argument:

“They were slaves with masters.  They had the best kind of social security.  Whatever happened, it was not their worry.  They did not have to pay any bills.  They had no problem of unemployment.  Slavery, as Fitzhugh described it, was a kind of socialism, where all property was put in the hands of the people (the white people) best qualified to use it, for the benefit of everybody, whites and Negroes.  Three cheers for slavery!”

Hmm.  Property put in the hands best qualified to use it for the benefit of everybody?  For the benefit of all?  Oh, yeah, I get it#ForAll.

Cross posted at NoOneOfAnyImport.

 

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About That Enthusiasm Gap . . .

I mentioned yesterday that continued comparisons between the two campaigns could be interesting.  I’m just laying out what I found, with no cherry-picking.  Here’s a line of folks (via Twitter) waiting outside an OFA office August 11th, for tickets to Obama’s appearance at Oskaloosa today, Tuesday August 14th:

Next are the photos of the actual Obama in Oskaloosa event that I found on Twitter today.

First, “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” is now stuck in my head.

Second is the line of folks waiting outside the Nelson Pioneer Farm and Museum.  “Really, really, really long line for tickets to attend Pres. Obama’s event in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Enthusiasm gap? HA!”

The above photo of the queue is getting some distribution on the Twitterz.  I’m not sure what time it was taken, but the tweet above was sent at 11:11am.  The event was to begin at 9am according to this report.

Here are the rest that I found, in chronological order.  10:19am:

11:42am:

12:35pm:

12:50pm:

1:50pm:

2:19pm:  Oh dear.  I couldn’t embed this picture for some reason.  You’ll have to click over.

And finally, a Fox News photo from a 2:37pm tweet:

Whew, this linking and saving and attaching is pretty tedious.  Nevermind, I shall perservere.

On to the Paul Ryan event in Lakewood, Colorado, also held today (Tuesday August 14th).  This event was set to begin at 10am.

9:14am, the queue waiting to get inside:

9:44am, another view of the queue:

11:56am:

At 12:03pm @Chris_Moody tweets:  “Paul Ryan about to address totally packed gym in Lakewood, Colorado.”  Here’s his photo:

12:05pm:

At 12:10pm, @JoyLinFN tweets:  “Fire marshal says gymnasium at Lakewood High School has reached max capacity for Paul Ryan speech.  Crowd waits.”  Here is her photo:

At 12:13pm, @tripgabriel tweets:  “Packed to the rafters awaiting Paul Ryan at Lakewood HS in Colorado.”  His pic:

12:26pm:

12:57pm from @ShepherdCNN:

And finally, at 12:58pm, @KContiforCO tweets:  “Paul Ryan.  Addresses a Rockin’ crowd at Lakewood High School.”  Her photo:

These comparisons are proving interesting to me.  What do you think?

Here’s a strange thing.  At this very moment, the headlining topic at Memeorandum is  “GOP pros fret over Paul Ryan.”  Huh.  Perhaps there is a disconnect between the pros and the actual voters?

Related:  Rasmussen: Ohio likely voters favorable toward Ryan, 51/39

cross-posted at NoOneOfAnyImport

 

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