I have a confession: I graduated college a bright-eyed, optimistic liberal, who considered conservative views cruel and downright viscious. Ten years later, I now count myself among conservatives in many issues, and one, by far, is in dealing with teenagers.

Want a conservative educators advice on teenagers? Here you go: Don’t worry so much about students’ self-esteem. Yes, I can hear the protests of bleeding hearts right now, but have been in the trenches first-hand and dealt with thousands of students. A firm hand is far more effective than a limp one in the classroom. That’s not advice, that’s just common sense.

In fact, and I tell this to my students, this liberal overprotectiveness is a bit insulting for them. Quite literally, policy-makers in academia and educational theorists believe children are stupid, like a bunch of Pavlovian zombies. They are not. Children are much tougher and smarter than most people think, and underestimating their abilities to perceive and manipulate the system has led to most of our problems. Our current education system isn’t preparing them for life. It’s preparing them for Candyland.

Parents, teachers and those dealing with kids: When you talk to kids, don’t worry so much about saying things that might hurt their feelings. If they are doing something ridiculous, tell them to “Stop being stupid” (but don’t call them stupid…a big difference). If they cranked out in an essay in minutes, don’t tout the positives of it. Tell them “This is terrible.” That doesn’t mean been cruel to them, but don’t be afraid to teach them a lesson.

Their fragile minds aren’t as fragile as you think and honesty, for good or bad, goes a long way to earning their respect. Just like adults, kids respect an adult that is honest and tells them the truth. They like a straight-shooter.

My son can’t take his eyes off my smartphone or my tablet or the television, and he’s only four months old. It terrifies me, since I make my living writing for the Internet. I know exactly what’s out there and while a lot of it’s good, a lot of is very, very bad. And I’m not the only parent that should worry.

New research conducted by Family Kids and Youth, an education research company, shows that 4 out of 10 children consider themselves “addicted to the Internet.” The trend is only increasing, as well as expanding into younger generations. Online bullying has become a buzz word, but for many kids, it’s a reality. Adults say horrible things to one another online, and to a child’s fragile ego, this virtual torture is real. They haven’t learned to “shut it off.” Teaching that is a parent’s responsibility. There’s no great trick to it.

Don’t allow your child to use Facebook or social media until you know, beyond a doubt, they are ready for it. Don’t give them a device until you know they can handle it. Maintain total access to their devices, including phones, tablets and computers. If your son or daughter insists their privacy is important, give them a diary and pen and tell them you’ll stay out of that. That might seem intrusive to some parents, but there’s such a thing as too much freedom for children, something many of today’s parents don’t realize. Kids are kids. They are not adults. You need to realize this as much as your child does. They have as many rights as you let them and no more.

To be honest, I almost feel like a hypocrite writing this article, considering I spend hours upon hours on the Internet, researching, writing, communicating and, yes, wasting time. That’s my job. Ironically, I almost never socialize online and prefer communications through texts or good old-fashioned phones calls. It strikes a good balance, I think, and has situated the Internet as a tool in my mind and not a world.

I can only hope my son makes the same distinction. In the mean time, his hands stay off. Maybe when he’s 18.

Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan, Afghanistan…and (as of May 1st) Brunei, a small country in Southeast Asia–These countries are all dominated by sharia law, a legal system based on the Quran and scholarly interpretations of Muslim leaders. For Westerners, this system of laws can seem harsh if not downright barbaric. Now sharia law is being established in Brunei. For those not in the know, its oil fields make Brunei the fifth-richest nation in the world and the only country other than Libya to have no national debt. In this particular case, size really doesn’t matter.

Delving into sharia law could take a college semester, so I’ll run through an example of ‘due process’ under this Draconian law, which is most often enforced by religious policemen, or mutaween. First, a crime is reported by two to four eyewitnesses or by a confession. The eyewitnesses, of course, can only be adult Muslim men. Even if these criteria aren’t met, a judge can still impose sentencing without enough evidence. The range of crimes range from adultery to theft, but the crimes most shocking to Westerners are the subtle ones. For example, a male doctor cannot examine a female patient, under any circumstances, without a family member present. In 2013, a Afghan doctor forgot this law, and both he and his female patient were brutally stoned by a mob. The fate of two is unknown, but many suspect the doctor either died or fled the country after recovering.

To be fair, there are many levels of sharia law, and countries don’t adopt ALL aspects of it. Some allow citizens to choose sharia law’s application, and some only use it in regard to civil instances.

However, the question is how far should the U.S. go to understand and appreciate a foreign country’s religious customs, even when those customs are downright barbaric? We’re not talking a different idol or different language. We’re talking actions that are so distasteful to Americans that, if committed in the U.S., would result in a life sentence or even death for the instigator. How can we tolerate a country that holds these same individuals up as models of righteousness?

Simple. We can’t.

By no means do I agree with what Donald Sterling said. He encouraged his narcissistic girlfriend to avoid African-Americans and that’s a deplorable thing for anyone to say. But for the longest-running owner of an NBA team, you’d think they at least wait a few days before running him out of town on a rail. They didn’t.
They labeled him, then promptly cut him off from the NBA. It’s only a matter of time before he’s forced to sell his team. I am not saying those steps are excessive. In light of his position, they are most likely entirely necessary. But the speed with which they were enacted hints that accusers were almost waiting in the shadows. To me, it’s like everyone is trying to show how racist they AREN’T by imposing harsher and harsher words on Sterling. The only level-headed comment I heard on Sterling was by basketball legend Charles Barkley: “…you can’t have this guy making statements like that … (if it’s Sterling on the recording), (Silver) has to suspend and fine him immediately.”

Notice Barkley first wanted to ensure it was Sterling that made the comments and then suggested a fine or suspension. Not crucifiction.

Everyone has someone in the family that has a racist streak. A grandfather that slips out a racist joke during Christmas, or some uncle that makes a crack about homosexuals. We roll our eyes or frown with disapproval and say “He comes from a different time.” We don’t like it, and we don’t really tolerate it, but we don’t immediately tar and feather them for saying it.

Sterling didn’t even get a day in court. Within days, his thirty-year career comes to a half and people are lining up to discuss what a horrible man he is. No one mentioned getting him sensitivity training, rehabilitation or therapy. They just want to see the man burn and light the candle of their self-righteousness off the flames. A little melodramatic, I know, but that’s nothing compared to the way he’s being lambasted on the airwaves.

Last week, a New Jersey woman named Susan Morgan sued the state for not permitting a vanity plate reading 8THEIST but allowing one reading BAPTIST. She said the state was discriminating against atheists.

Like many things in life, the incident reminded me of a South Park episode. Not everyone is fan of the show, so bear with me, but conservatives should be, since the creators take more jabs at runaway liberalism than anything else. On one episode, a rabidly radical mother decided a school’s Christmas decorations were offensive, so the town eliminated all references to religion in its Christmas decor. Eventually the Christmas pageant became children on an empty stage, dressed in monochrome costumes and chanting Happy happy happy happy. A strangely prophetic view of the U.S.

Whatever opinion you have of the show, its writers make a good point: eliminate everything considered “offensive” and the world’s going to become a pretty drab place.

I won’t argue with Shannon Morgan’s right to have the 8THEIST plate, but what exactly are her motives? Her lawsuit is making a point, and in doing so, she’s willing to chip away at the happiness of the vast majority of the country. She simply wants to make a stand for her atheist beliefs (ironic, isn’t it?).

Whether she wins or loses, it’s a slippery slope the U.S. is already sliding down. No religious license plate. No “Under God” in the Pledge. No Nativity scenes. No mention of God on our currency. It goes on and on. Every year, I hear “Merry Christmas” fewer and fewer times. Now it’s “Happy Holidays” everywhere. Public depictions of Christianity, because of frivolous lawsuits from the likes of Shannon Morgan, are now subtle and timid. In a decade or two, I’ll be attending my son’s Winter Solstice play, listening to him chant generic Winter songs and wondering what the holiday is all about. Even Santa Claus will become taboo.

Thanks, Shannon Morgan.

North Korea is what Stalin and Mao Zedong dreamed of creating, only in the case of the “Hermit Nation”, it worked. Millions of people working only for the good of the state, and the state boiling down to a single despotic ruler. No Roman ruler ever exerted such autonomous control. The rule of Kim il-Sung’s dynasty is so absolute, it’s almost a living cartoon. And, of course, it’s a living cartoon that is now preparing for yet another nuclear test, according to recent reports from South Korea.

It’s amazing to me that we have allowed North Korea to exist as long as it has, considering it is a country bent on the destruction of the U.S. That is not opinion; that is North Korea’s national policy. Just take a look at the country’s website. Equally amazing is the fact that we allow this brainwashed mass of Marxist zombies to reside within a literal stone’s throw from one of our closest allies, South Korea. I appreciate the technological products of South Korea, especially since I am using one of their intuitive products right now: a Samsung Chromebook. Our best opportunity to topple the nation, after the death of Kim Jong-il, came and went (with no move by President Obama) and with each passing day, his baby-faced son, Kim Jong-un, grows more dug in.

This is not like Russia or China, where the attraction and prosperity of capitalism eventually eclipsed the rhetoric of capitalism. North Korea’s leaders created such intense isolation with the Juche philosophy that there will never be a flood of capitalism, only a trickle.

With improved technology and a young leader that needs to prove himself to his obedient masses, the next few years with North Korea should be filled with more than rhetoric, and unless the U.S. steps in to silence the constant threats and lies of the nation, the cost may be our greatest Asian ally, South Korea.

Mark Snowden is a self-promoting figurehead of delusional Internet-based ethics. He flaunts NSA security policy secrets like a pop-up ad. Snowden leveraged his notoriety into celebrity, and he’s kept himself most recently in the news as a anti-surveillance guru by asking Putin for advice.

People have differing views of what America is, which is part of the First Amendment, but Snowden’s view is a democracy, it’s anarchy. Strangely enough, he found refuge in the exact opposite of an anarchist state.

I’m not a big fan of Mark Snowden. National security aside, I don’t like him because I see him as the most prominent symbol of a generation that mistakes tech savviness for wisdom, and we all know common sense is in short supply in cyberspace. Anyone over the age of 35 knows that the last country on Earth that should be touted for its open-minded with media is the former Soviet Union.

I will not bother dragging out the skeleton of the Soviet Union for this one. There’s no need. After beginning his second marathon as the executive arm of the Soviet Union–excuse me, I mean Russia–Putin has done his best to ensure citizens stay in line with Mother Russia, and began building the new Berlin cyber-Wall. So here’s a few modern examples of government censorship and surveillance?

– The Russian government has blocked several sites critical of their current intrusion into Ukraine, calling these sites “extremist.”
– Russia has shut down several TV stations after they aired programs critical of Vladimir Putin.
– Russia has an entire department dedicated to the interception of ALL electronic communication; tourists visiting Sochi for the Olympics this year known about firsthand.

That Mark Snowden would somehow consider Russia a bastion of free speech and openness is beyond absurd. Of course, for a guy who traded his oaths to the U.S. government for fame, I guess it makes perfect sense. Anything for a headline.

Everytime I hear it, I cringe, the same way I cringe when I think of chewing aluminum foil: “The problem of income equality.” What on Earth does that mean?
There are rich people and there are poor people. A good Christian (or Jew or Muslim or Hindu) offers a portion of their money for charity, helping those in need. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the declaration of “income inequality” as a global problem makes me cringe. I have the image of bureaucratic fingers digging into our bank accounts, angry that we were able to manage and save our money well over the years.

As far as a global problem, I can understand that. You have countries with per capita income of less than $100 a year in Africa, and the despotic leaders lounging in gold bathtubs. That’s wrong, but that’s also a problem for the UN. My money has nothing to do with that scenario. But in the U.S.?

The phrase itself conjures differing mindsets of money. When I think of my savings account, 401k, 403b, pension fund and checking account, I consider the time and effort I put into building them up. Reading books on finance, advice from my father, even attending a workshop by Dave Ramsey…It’s not simply an account but a construction of patience and forward thinking. Those who believe that all people should have equal income see it as a fattened sow waiting to be butchered. THAT makes me nervous.

I don’t mind helping the poor. Really, I don’t. Show me commercials, solicit outside the grocery stores and Walgreens, that’s all fine. I’ve never been able to pass up a Humane Society stand without dropping in at least a $10.

Categorizing my financial stability as a problem tells me that if I happened to pass a Salvation Army stand and don’t drop in my change, they have every right to stop me, yank open my wallet and take the money. The oddest thing is that’s not an exaggeration. That’s exactly what liberals want as a solution for “income inequality.” If you don’t donate as much as we think you should, we’ll just take it.

First off, I am not keen on supporting a group that wants to have a 1880s era showdown with the federal government using shotguns and rifles. That’s both brave and stupid. There’s no deserted street in frontier towns anymore (although some paramilitary groups think there are). Courtrooms are the place for duels today.

That said, I do support cattle rancher Cliven Bundy’s desire to bring attention to his plight in Nevada, and perhaps the threat of violence was the only way to do it. His family had used the land for cattle grazing for over a hundred years and, frankly, it was scrub land no one wanted. Somehow he made it work, and only now had the federal government decided to pursue him actively. The Feds say Bundy owes $1 million. Bundy says $300,000, which he will gladly pay…to the state of Nevada. The Bundy clan claims the issue is state’s rights and the intrusion of the U.S. government, and they gathered family and friends to defend their property with all the firearms the 2nd Amendment allows.

Honestly, I don’t think guns or violence or even sovereignty are the issues. What I see in all this is the lack of oversight by the federal government, and the complete waste of our money in going after Mr. Bundy. I see incompetence bordering on epic.

For a century his family used the land without a word from Uncle Sam. After the Feds claimed some kind of sovereignty over the land, Bundy used it for another twenty years. THEN the government decided to round up his cattle, taking 400 head before backing down to prevent violence. I see this as a shining example of bureaucracy at it’s worst. It takes the Feds twenty years to do something about an apparent “theft” and when they do, they spare no expense in destroying the man’s livelihood. No wonder why Bundy decided to pack a shotgun. I probably would as well.

On April 2nd, 54-year-old Steven Utash struck a 10-year-old boy as the child stepped into a busy road. Horrified, Utash stopped the car and got out to check on the child. As he did, a dozen observers surrounded him and dragged him away from the boy, beating him nearly to death. The group would have beat him to death had a nearby nurse not intervened to stop the crowd. The incident itself isn’t what made headlines. It was race. Utash, white. Boy, African-American. Crowd, African-American. Nurse, African-American. That’s why it made news.

In an incident that harkens back to the L.A. Riots of the early 90s, civil rights groups are inflamed by the incident, noting the implied double-standard. Since it was a white man as the victim, the story has a different context. Had he been African-American, the outcry would choke media outlets. The long-term implications of this incident as far as race relations and the future of Detroit have been speculated (to death) in thousands of articles.

For me, I wonder about Utash himself. He could easily have simply driven away. Or, when he saw the crowd of people watching, decided to stay in his truck and drive away. He would have been well within his rights since the angered mob presented a threat to his life. But he did none of that.

Whether it was his fault or the boy’s isn’t essential. He was trying to be a decent person by checking on a wounded child, rather than worry about his liability or personal safety first. For that, a group nearly beat him to death. Five people were arrested in connection to the beating, all of them facing charges of assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm. They wanted to kill the man.

Even as this blog is being written, Utash remains in a coma, attended to by doctors, family and friends. He only woke once in nearly two weeks and asked a single question: “Is the boy dead?”
Decent human being.

Of the entire Bush clan, I admit Jeb Bush has never been my favorite. George H. W. Bush should have been a two-termer. World War II hero, ambassador, director of the CIA (my personal favorite) and eight years under the tutelage of Reagan. George W. Bush was a decent, hard-working man who fell victim to bad circumstances and never earned the loathing liberals love to heap upon him. Jeb Bush, though, eh… I would vote for him, but with a little caution. And his recent comments on immigration in a Fox News interview are exactly why.

During the interview at his brother’s presidential library, Fox News correspondent Shannon Bream asked about Bush’s policy toward immigration. His statement was a watery appeal to please immigrant voters, no doubt. “Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family,” the former Florida governor said. Obviously, he wasn’t talking to the interviewer. He was speaking to potential voters.

Running for president does mean compromise. That’s understandable. The smartest summary I ever heard of a presidential bid was Get half the vote. Plus a little more. To gather that nationwide support, you need to compromise a little. But Jeb Bush’s comments are such a bleeding heart appeal to immigrant voters that it sounds like a pamphlet from Ralph Nader, not someone of Bush blood. Compromise legislation is one thing, but compromising beliefs is another.

If he runs, he plans on racing spreading a “hopeful, optimistic message.” Nothing wrong with a little optimism, but our incumbent president ran under the same philosophy and while the entire country waited for change, the change never happened, at least not for the better. For the last six years the Republican party has done little more than spin its tires in Congress, and it’s time for less optimism and more realism. George H. W. Bush took a realistic approach to Iraq, and his son took the same approach to terrorist threats and both made the world safer, albeit with a little controversy.

If he’s looking for blind optimism and wishful thinking, then maybe Jeb needs to switch political parties.

Former CEO of Mozilla Brenden Eich became the next man to burn as a result of his conservative views, and the LGBT communities could not be happier. In 2008, Eich donated $1,000 to support Proposition 8, the California law that would prohibit same-sex marriage in the state. In 2014, Eich was fired for it.

This is not about same-sex marriage or Proposition 8. This is not even about his politics. It is about a brainwashed atmosphere in media that believes having a different opinion is not just unpopular, it’s criminal. That certainly how they treated Eich. Not only was he the CEO of Mozilla, but he co-founded the company (a company that, by the way, designs and builds excellent software for free).

It seems media only tolerates public figures that are either ultra-liberal or silently apolitical. Anyone that discusses their political opinions that lean even slightly to the right gets lambasted. Consider the fates of Mel Gibson or Jim Caviezel. The only Republicans Hollywood will allow are passive ones. Now the progress of portable technology is making the Silicon Valley into the next Hollywood.

For a group that touts Freedom of Speech at any cost, even at the cost of national security, the liberals use of dirty means like a threatened boycott is about as undemocratic as you can get. It’s double-speak in the best Orwellian sense: think whatever you want, as long as it’s what liberals think. It’s not a matter of what’s right and wrong. It’s about having the freedom to have a public opinion.

What kind of political dialog can there be when anyone with a differing opinion in this way? What would the Founding Fathers think? That last piece of rhetoric spices speeches on both sides of the fence, but it’s only rhetoric. We will never know. It was a different world in 1776.

But we can be sure they wouldn’t want a political atmosphere so intolerant of political dynamics that public figures can only argue over inches or become pariahs. In fact, I think they have names for such countries.
They call them dictatorships.

The Danger of Underestimating Putin

Conspicuously molding himself into a Tsarist-Soviet-Capitalist hybrid, Vladimir Putin is pushing his greedy agenda as far as it can go, and the combined US and EU sanctions are merely a tickle on his grasping hand.

In some ways Russia isn’t what it used to be, and we don’t ever want to see that despotic regime of automatons again, but in other ways Russia is the same icy behemoth dealt with by President Roosevelt on down. Cold, calculating and single-minded. They couldn’t have picked a better leader (lest we forget, he spent his formative years as a KGB agent specializing in grooming agents to infiltrate the US).

Obama’s missteps aside, generations needs to remember what the Soviet Empire was and what the former-Soviet Empire is capable of. The country has changed since the days of glasnost and perestrioka, certainly, but those missiles are still buried in the tundra and its boomer subs still slouch beneath the seas. As a recent Russian news anchor reminded us, they still have the power to turn us into radioactive dust. Younger generations need to be reminded of this, perhaps by a national airing of The Day After.

Today, too many Americans have an image of Russia as a capitalist democracy wrapped in Cyrillic lettering. That’s far from the reality. Its government censors the news to such a point that news isn’t news, it’s propaganda masked as news (which is far more dangerous than simple propaganda).

I’m not saying a full-on US military intervention is the key, because a war with Russia can only end badly for both sides. But limp-wristed sanctions aimed at key Russians that reduce their wealth from $8 billion to $7 billion isn’t going to drop this new Berlin Wall. In fact, that reaction is exactly what Putin bet on when he first moved into the Crimea and staged its elections.

If it was that easy to take Crimea, why not move into the rest of the Ukraine? The only thing stopping him in a bickering boardroom full of aging bureaucrats, dead set at keeping the peace at any cost, even if that means allowing Putin to restore the Soviet Union piece-by-piece.

Crafting and home decor giant Hobby Lobby is a national chain that promotes family values and actually follows through with them. Now the company stands at the feet of the Supreme Court, battling an Obamacare mandate that requires coverage for all forms of contraceptives to employees.

This case quickly shot to the forefront of the contraceptive coverage battle, not only because Hobby Lobby is a massive retail chain employing 13,000 people, but also because the Christian company’s complaint is so reasonable. It will cover most forms of contraceptives, but does not want to cover IUDs and morning-after pills, which it considers methods of early abortion. It’s not a question of slippery slope (as rabid pro-choice supporters fear), since those are clearly methods of post-conception birth control.

Hobby Lobby’s ability to maintain its family values in today’s competitive market is nothing short of extraordinary: reasonable hours, clean stores, good wages and still closed on Sundays (the last of which is monumental for a national retail chain). The company’s willingness to negotiate the sweeping mandates of the Affordable Healthcare Act is just as amazing; it only contests the single provision of emergency contraception coverage.

Simply put, Hobby Lobby made a reasonable request in defense of decades of Christian values, but the sweeping arm of Obamacare refuses to take that into account. If Hobby Lobby loses the court case, the private values of this privately-owned company will be pushed aside in generic “reform.”

Hobby Lobby can choose to simply pay the obligatory fine in not providing health care, which would be cheaper than the actual cost, but its concern for employees ends that option. The company wants to provide health care, but it doesn’t want to compromise its values. Hobby Lobby’s owners understand that financially supporting abortion by paying for emergency contraceptives will erode the company’s long-proven values into empty rhetoric, and there’s entirely too much of that today anyway.