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September 1, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

U.S. leaders need a chemistry lesson

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This election has shown the continuing trend in American politics to do away with the “melting pot” of America.

We saw ad after ad target specific groups of people in an attempt to persuade them to vote as a whole and not give individual thought to a given issue. Two of the more blatant examples covered immigration and support for Israel.

I am reminded of two terms from chemistry that often are confused: “compound” and “mixture.”

A compound is a substance that is made up of two or more chemical elements that are bonded together in such a fashion that a chemical process is needed to separate them. A mixture, on the other hand, is a physical mixing of two or more substances that can be isolated again by a simple mechanical means such as using a magnet to pull bits of iron from a recycling bin.

The American melting pot should produce a compound from all the people who live and come here. We should be bonded by the love of the ideals presented by our Declaration of Independence and embodied in our Bill of Rights. Instead, our politicians, our elected leaders, treat us as a simple mixture that can be broken apart at will when it comes election time by simple pandering.

We cannot expect to build a strong society going forward by using bricks made of mud and straw (a simple mixture) instead of chemically bonded concrete.

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  1. Excellent observation and letter Mr. Bacon.

    A note to Future:

    Romney's comment about illegals was only part of his problem. The GOP agenda in general was tainted and pissed off many other groups, especially women.

  2. This being Veteran's Day, I want to point out that although there is immense pride and inter-service rivalry between the military branches it's "all hands on deck!" when it is time to get the job done without regard to who is doing it. No one who has served will claim there is perfect harmony between the branches, but there is a very tight unity in purpose.

    We need to elect representatives who have that same attitude toward serving the American public. And the American public should recall those words spoken by JFK some fifty years ago: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

    We do not need representatives of particular groups. We need representatives of the American people, no matter what gender, skin color, ethnic background, sexual preference or church (or lack thereof) someone belongs to.

    I was speaking with someone just tonight who referred to America as a "salad bowl" where each group brings its own flavor. I disagree with this, I say we must be a melting pot, a crucible if you will, where each individual contributes to the total strength of the resulting alloy by taking responsibility for their part.

    It is by being responsible citizens that each of us can achieve and ensure that we all have the maximum individual liberty.

    By the way, this old swab jockey sends a belated Happy Birthday to all the jarheads. Semper Fi!

  3. Mr. Bacon:

    I have a better subject for you: Integrated Science. Physics and chemistry combined. The two sciences work in tandem not separately. Dr. Morris Lerner, conceived the subject, a two year HS course, and taught it for many years.

    CarmineD

  4. One's identity is one's strength. It is not necessary to lose one's identity to make a nation strong. To lose one's identity weakens one's resolve.

    An excellent chef, expertly blends each ingredient allowing each distinct flavor to add to the pleasure of eating a great salad.

    A salad where all ingredients are made to taste the same will not taste good.

    A great salad is akin to an orchestra where each instrument brings forth its own distinct sound sometimes on its own, at other times in tune with the others, at the behest of an expert's wand, making music that awakens feelings to soar with eagles.

    It takes true leadership - a skill to craft a vision and communicate that vision effectively by painting a compelling picture of what the future would look like. A true leader dispenses a single lens by which to gaze at that vision and shepherds each individual strength to achieve it.

    Ahhhh. If only, if only.

  5. In other words, social engineering does not work.

    We can instead use individual resolve to achieve what it is we want to achieve by making people realize we all want the same things, albeit in varying degrees.

    There is no need to denigrate the President. More people believe in him than the other. That is that. Negative comments may make one feel justified, but it's poison and breeds ill-will.

    Change has a greater chance of taking root if those who are to make them are involved in crafting them.

    We elected people to represent us. We can only hope they do.

  6. The USA is more "separated" then ever before, in my opinion. Not segregated - separated. It's "divide and conquer." Everything now has to be hyphenated - be it women eshewing tradition when marrying to race, ethnicity, religion and country of origin. African-American, Mexican-American, Polish-American, Jewish-American, Catholic-American, Native-American, Mrs. Smith-Jones, Mr. Jones-Smith. Bah, humbug! Little wonder the divide among us grows. The blame lies with pollsters, the media and, of course, conniving politicians and their slimy handlers. On the one hand, leftists cry, "Do your thing!" while "Political correctness" runs amok and everybody seems to be "offended" by something or someone. Too fricking bad! And, yes, we ourselves have to share the blame by going along with the nonsense. Resist it and we'll all be better off as just plain "Americans!"

  7. I think both political parties err in ignoring the wisdom and political clout of German-Irish beer drinkers. :-)

  8. The "Melting Pot" has only ever existed as a flag waving phrase, and not a reality, or even a realistic goal. Altho Whites, Hispanics and Asians do rather commonly intermarry, it is still a bit unusual for Blacks and Whites to follow the example of our Halfrican American President's parents.

    Religious splits used to be huge, it was thought JFK had no chance being a Catholic, but he squeaked by, no one thought much of it when a Jewish man stood for VP and we didn't hear any serious flak when a Mormon ran for president. I think we can assume that religious flavor (except Muslim) has lost the power it once had to divide us, perhaps because most religions are gradually losing their hold on the population. For those of us in the 21st Century is seems that people are more so slaves to their political party than to their church denomination.

    It is very rare for ones among us to move across the aisle in terms of gender.

    It is perfectly reasonable for politicians as well as business marketers to target messages of interest to people who share a commonality. I think a better metaphor than the academic ones put forward would be making a great beef stew. One does not pound the meat, vegies and potatos together into one mush, instead you cut these elements into nice mouthsized pieces, put them in the broth at measured times, and come out with a wonderful union of separately identifiable flavors.

    Let's enjoy the stew pot, not try the impossible task of melting it into mush.
    O.D.Nelson

  9. "...our politicians, our elected leaders, treat us as a simple mixture that can be broken apart at will when it comes election time by simple pandering."

    Bacon -- welcome to the herd. And why shouldn't they treat us the way you suggested? It works. This last election is proof again whoever puts on the best show wins.

    "In other words, social engineering does not work."

    ASadTeacher -- assuming you're a teacher in our public schools, that's some statement. "Social engineering" is what those schools do more than educate.

    "...we didn't hear any serious flak when a Mormon ran for president. I think we can assume that religious flavor (except Muslim) has lost the power it once had to divide us, perhaps because most religions are gradually losing their hold on the population."

    ODNelson -- good post, though I disagree on your point about religious influence losing its power. My view is Romney's run was by design. Compared to the religious fanatics he competed with before his nomination -- the ones dedicated to ruling America by biblical principles -- he was a moderate. We'll be hearing from them again, constantly.

    So long as We the people act like livestock we deserve to be treated like livestock!

    "Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them." -- Barry Goldwater in John Dean's "Conservatives Without Conscience" November 1994

  10. Totally off topic but since it is veterans day and just for veterans day:

    Recon Platoon, A Co.
    501st Infantry/2nd Airborne Battlegroup
    82nd Airborne Division

    "Geronimo!"
    "Those devils in baggy pants!"

    I served.

    Today I will be the Irish half of the German-Irish beer drinkers Mr. Weber. Cheers all!

  11. Oh yes, Killer. I am a teacher and proud to be one. In addition to reading, writing, and computing, I teach the children to think, respect authority, responsibility, and resilience.

    Teachers do not legislate whom to marry, birth control, or what to believe. Those you teach at home. We already have a full plate of the Core Curriculum Standards. Science and social studies take the back burner. Social engineering belongs to the powers-that-be.

    Okay? Man, your thinking cost you the election. Isn't it time to reassess? You better start now. 2014 is around the corner.

  12. It is one thing for a merchant to use targeted advertising, it is quite another for those running for office to deliberately try to pick us apart into isolated components. That goes against the grain of what makes this country great.

    Political strategies that do this are tearing at the fabric holds us together and provides a unity of purpose.

  13. Re:

    Did you understand the phrase - We must use it carefully? That is the crux of the article.

    Regardless of governmental influences on political correctness, there are still universal truths of what is right or wrong. A good teacher provides many sides of each situation and allows the student to think/decide for himself. A good teacher never allows his or her personal biases to influence student beliefs. That is why the article recommends awareness of one's belief system as vital to ensure filters when teaching.

    Are there teachers who do not have filters? Of course?

    But teaching respect, responsibility, and resilience and analytical thinking allows students to develop independent thought. That, the culture at home, and societal influences make up the child's total learning landscape.

    I would suggest that you remove your personal biases when you read my posts and try to understand its intent. Perhaps you will understand it better.

    As I said earlier, teachers show students various approaches and choices. It is NOT social engineering. Legislating who to marry, having children or not, or what beliefs to have IS.

    Thank you.

  14. Nancy...

    Great post!

  15. Thanks Jeff, Tee Hee, and GMAG: Thanks.

    The message I sent to my fellow teachers was plain (or so I thought): Yes they HAVE the power. That is why I urged them to be aware of their beliefs because they underpin their daily decisions. Awareness of those beliefs triggers the appropriate filters required when delivering lessons.

    As I said many times, our frames of references influence our perceptions. That is why Mr. Freeman has difficulties understanding any of our posts.

    Oh well, I suppose this forum provides entertainment, if nothing else.