Attorney General says ‘White supremacist groups pose a rising US threat’

“White supremacist groups pose rising U.S. threat, Garland says” by Mark Hosenball of Reuters is a title that jumped off my browser feed yesterday. Attorney General Merrick Garland said made this comment and he would know based on his past experience prosecuting people.

Here are a few excerpts from the article a link to which is below.

“Domestic violent extremist groups, particularly white supremacists, pose a growing threat to the United States, Attorney General Merrick Garland told a Senate panel on Wednesday.

‘The threat of lethality is higher than it ever was … I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the U.S. Capitol’ by rioters on Jan. 6, said Garland, who as a prosecutor led the investigation into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

Garland noted the FBI recently said that the top domestic violent extremist threat facing the United States is from ‘racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race.’

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the committee that racially or ethnically motivated extremists are ‘most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians,’ while people tied to right-wing militia groups are the most likely to target police and government employees and buildings.

I am not going to add anything more to these cautions. They speak for themselves and should give us all pause. We must not condone violence in any way to promote any cause. Full stop.

White supremacist groups pose rising U.S. threat, Garland says (msn.com)

“This is not a difference on positions – it is a difference between truth and lies”

This morning I spoke with a aide for a Republican Congressman to share my concerns over what a shame it is Representative Liz Cheney is being ousted from her position in House leadership in the Republican Party citing my arguments. After he listened to me, he noted I had a right to share my difference on positions.

I said, this is not a difference on positions – it is a difference between truth and lies. I said I do not agree with many of the positions of Liz Cheney, but in this instance she is calling out the former president for his lying and sedition. There is no widespread election fraud and the president invited and incited an insurrection on members of Congress, endangering your boss. That is unforgiveable.

Then, I shared that this is not just my opinion, David Brooks, a conservative pundit said on PBS News Hour just this Friday that “to be a leader in the Republican party, you have to lie.” I did ask him, as an independent and former Republican, what am I supposed to think about all of this? He could not offer me his opinion, which I knew. beforehand, but I wanted to pose the question. It should be noted that Senator Mitt Romney noted that Republicans are not going to gain one vote from this and will lose many.

I closed with sharing we need a viable Republican Party, but right now the party is adrift. In fact, GOP Representative Adam Kinzinger equated the party with a slow-sinking Titanic. I told him I agree with that statement.

“It is like the Titanic”

In an article called “GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger Compares Trump-Mesmerized Republican Party To The Titanic” by Mary Papenfuss of HuffPost, the title says pretty much what one needs to know about the opinions of this Republican who continually calls the former president on the carpet. Kinzinger is one of ten House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection on the Capitol building on January 6.

Per Kinzinger and other truth telling Republicans, he sees what is happening to his party as a death knell. He is particulary amazed how a consistent conservative Republican like Liz Cheney is could be ousted from her #3 Republican position in the House because she had the temerity to call the former president what he is – untruthful and a seditionist.. There was no widespread election fraud and the former president did have a hand in inviting, revving up and siccing rioters on the Capitol endangering members of Congress and the Vice President and his family.

Per the article, which has the subtitle “And Donald Trump is hunting for ‘women’s clothing’ so he can ‘get on the first lifeboat,’ the Illinois lawmaker said,” note the following few paragraphs:

“Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said Sunday that the sharply divided Republican Party is in a “slow sink,” like the Titanic, doomed by leaders’ stubborn fascination with reelection loser Donald Trump.

‘Right now it’s basically the Titanic. We’re … in the middle of this slow sink,’ he explained on ‘Face the Nation’ on CBS. “We have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it’s fine. And, meanwhile, Donald Trump’s running around trying to find women’s clothing and get on the first lifeboat.

Kinzinger pulled out the Titanic metaphor as he criticized party leaders’ attacks on Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) for blasting Trump for his ‘big lie’ that the presidential election was rigged and for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

‘It’s incredible. Liz Cheney is saying exactly what [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy said the day of the insurrection,’ holding Trump accountable for urging the violence, Kinzinger said. ‘A few weeks later, Kevin McCarthy changed to attacking other people.

McCarthy was reportedly rebuffed by the former president on Jan. 6 when he implored Trump to call off the Capitol rioters. McCarthy said later on the House floor that Trump ‘bears responsibility for the attack on Congress by mob rioters.’ Trump ‘should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,’ he added. McCarthy called then for ‘justice’ and for a ‘censure resolution’ against Trump.

Kinzinger said the Republican Party still needs to have ‘an internal look and a full accounting as to what led to Jan. 6.’ It’s been only four months since the ‘insurrection — something that was unthinkable in this country,’ he noted.

Like Cheney, Senator Mitt Romney and others who voted to impeach or convict the former president, they are on the side of the Angels on this issue. Yet, they are being vilified and threatened for it. That is inexcusable. But, so is what the former president and his partners in crime did on January 6.

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger Compares Trump-Mesmerized Republican Party To The Titanic | HuffPost

The Lord wanted me to have nice things – a reprise

The following post was written about seven years ago, but still stands the test of time. With the prosperity tele-evangelists who have multiple homes, cars and airplanes, taking gullible people’s hard earned money to promote their own lifestyle is beyond poor stewardship – it is shameful. I have worked with many fine ministers who are wonderful public servants, but greed is something we all must guard against, even the most pious amongst us.

These words were uttered by Reverend Jim Bakker, who founded the Praise The Lord (PTL) Club, shortly before he went to prison for defrauding donors and accounting irregularities. He was being interviewed on a local TV station at his home when the focus came on his solid gold faucets. “The Lord wanted me to have nice things,” he said on camera. For several years before that moment, one of the local DJs used to do a skit called the “Pass The Loot” Club, as many locals caught on to his act before the national TV audience did.

This week, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta has come under fire for building a $2.2 million, 6,400 square foot home. His house was built primarily with funds donated to help those in need. After the notoriety, the church will likely be selling the residence. This is on the heels of the even larger spend in Germany by Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst on his residence mansion, whose repairs totaled over $40 million in US dollars.

Pope Francis has been a staunch advocate for the impoverished and has not been too fond of over-indulging priests and bishops. By taking the name of St. Francis who focused his life on helping the poor and by choosing to live in more austere settings than the Pope’s usual residence, Pope Francis has sent a clear message that is still being heard. My guess is many church leaders are laying very low. Hopefully, the message will resonate with all members of the Catholic clergy and other religious sects.

But, as Bakker has shown, the indulgences are not limited to those leaders in the Catholic faith. The minister of a prominent and growing church in my metro-area has come under fire for his opulent house, which exceeds the price of the Atlanta Archbishop’s. Two years ago, two married ministers in my area went to jail on tax evasion. The congregation is still in disbelief after they were arrested for not reporting their very fine way of life. And, not to be outdone, even Reverend Franklin Graham came under fire for receiving two million dollar (approximately) salaries for two different organizations he leads. He has remedied this to my knowledge, once it became public, but it did not seem to bother him before the press.

However, the one who takes the cake is Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh of Oregon. He was eventually arrested in Charlotte for immigration fraud, but had a knack for courting wealthy donors who would give up millions of dollars to his organization. When arrested, he had a fleet of many Rolls-Royces and several private jets. You can read more about the Bhagwan with attached link: http://www.ohs.org/the-oregon-history-project/biographies/Bhagwan-Shree-Rajneesh.cfm

As someone of faith, I do not begrudge ministers and religious leaders for receiving a reasonable income. They work long hours and are constantly on call. Yet, I do feel it is hypocritical to take advantage and live extravagantly at the expense of others. Like the above, some have been too keen on living well. It likely starts as self-justification for doing good. This happens in politics, business and other organization leadership, as well. That is why “stewardship” is a key word to me. The people who oversee these leaders and the leaders themselves have to be good stewards with peoples’ money. Otherwise, you breach their trust and sometimes, break the law.

Purging Liz Cheney will purge some GOP voters along as well

It has long been observed by Thomas Wells, an attorney who worked with the former president before he was elected, if you are on Donald Trump’s good side, do not get used to it, as you won’t be there for long. You will not jump high enough or genuflect lowly enough to remain in favor. Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney long sided with the former president in supporting his actions. Yet, she has the temerity to challenge his lies with respect to the election and call him out for inciting an insurrection against the Capitol.

Yet, the impetus to remove Cheney from her number three position in the Republican caucus, may cause the loss of Republican voters. These voters see Cheney as something the former president and his sycophants are not – a truth teller.

In a Newsweek opinion article called “If Republicans Purge Liz Cheney, They’re Purging Many of Us Voters Along With Her” by Jonathan Frank, he predicts the firing of Cheney will be harmful to the party. Here a re few paragraphs:

Republican House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy said “‘I’ve had it… I’ve lost confidence.’ …McCarthy saved these words for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), a dutiful, third-term Congresswoman and mother of five who, as Chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, is the lone female in House Republican leadership.

Cheney is a stalwart conservative who voted with President Trump 93 percent of the time, earns an A+ rating from the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, and is ranked by GovTrack as “most politically right” compared to other members of House Republican leadership. But McCarthy and a chorus of House Republican cannot be bothered with such facts.

Cheney committed the cardinal sin of holding President Trump accountable for the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, a position that McCarthy briefly held himself, before changing course in fearful obedience to the former President.

In January, Cheney joined nine other House Republicans in voting to impeach Trump for his role in the January 6th attack, a move she called a ‘vote of conscience.’ Lest voters think this move reveals Cheney as some sort of secret moderate, her record shows she has continued to vote with House Republicans 95 percent of the time this year.

Still, some House Republicans remain set on purging the lawmaker from her leadership post in the middle of the year, even as they rail against ‘the extreme left’s cancel culture’ and stress ‘party unity’ without the slightest hint of self-awareness. Punchbowl News rightly describes it as ‘unlike anything in modern House GOP internal politics.’

Their preferred pick to succeed Cheney: Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), a Congresswoman whose recent unyielding devotion to Trump belies a spotty conservative record.

Stefanik earns a failing 43 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union and a similarly lackluster 48 percent lifetime score from Heritage Action for America, compared to Cheney’s scores of 78 and 80 percent respectively. Stefanik also voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Trump’s signature legislative accomplishment, while Cheney helped secure its passage.

But Stefanik redeemed herself with Trump in late 2019 when she helped lead the former President’s defense in his first impeachment trial. Trump tweeted approvingly that ‘a new Republican star is born.’ With that, the Harvard grad and former George W. Bush administration aide’s transition from pragmatic Republican institutionalist to populist MAGA adherent was complete.

A Republican Party that does not have room for a principled conservative like Liz Cheney does not have room for many of us. In scheming to overthrow her, House Republicans are sending a clear message that support for the former President’s policies is not enough. Meeting the new and ever-changing definition of a true Republican requires one to accept and parrot Trump’s every claim, the truth and the rule of law notwithstanding.”

Or, as conservative pundit David Brooks said on PBS Newshour Friday night, “To be a Republican leader means you have to lie.”

If Republicans Purge Liz Cheney, They’re Purging Many of Us Voters Along With Her | Opinion (msn.com)

My Mother the Teacher – a reprise

The following post was written seven years ago while my mother was still alive. We lost her on early Christmas morning a couple of years later. Since two weeks ago was National Teacher Appreciation Week and today being Mother’s Day, this post seemed fitting to revisit.

When one of the boys I was coaching in baseball found out my mother had been his teacher, he said immediately about the sweetest woman I know, “Your mother is mean.” I asked him why he would say that and he said my mother put his desk up front by her desk. Now, if you remember anything about teachers, you know when a teacher does this she is beyond her last straw. I also knew the boy was more animated than others in practice and would not listen very well. When I mentioned this later to my mother, she said, “He was a real pill.”

Teaching is a hard job. It can be very rewarding, but it also can be very thankless. My mother has always been a teacher, whether as a second (or first) grade teacher, as a substitute or as a bible study teacher. She would spend (and still does at age 83) hours preparing her lessons and, in the case of elementary school, grading papers. In her paying job, she probably worked ten to twelve hours days. Some might say, teachers get summer off, but they work a week after school is out and a few weeks before every one comes back. But, when you add up the hours, they can rival most year-round employment jobs.

However, because they are relatively low paid, especially in my state of North Carolina where we are 46th in teacher pay, many work summer jobs as well. Our state is trying to remedy the problem it created with frozen budgets and cutbacks on additional pay for masters degrees. Teachers have been voting with their feet leaving the state and the Moral Monday protests added a large voice to that of teachers to shame the legislators into doing something. They are still arguing over this as of this writing.

Yet, through this process, teachers have not been shown the respect they have earned. Of course, there are some poor teachers. But for the large part, my experience has been with very dedicated professionals. And, they also take the blame for things outside of their control. My mother would tell you that it does take a village to raise and educate a child. A good teacher cannot do the parent’s job. It needs to be a team effort between the teacher, parents, counselors and teacher assistants. Also, volunteers help, in a large way, especially if there is not enough teacher assistants to cover the classes.

But, you may have noticed I used the plural of parents. The dilemma these days is if you looked at the demographics of classrooms, the number of kids with divorced parents would not be insignificant. Further, the number of those kids with only one parent in their relationship would not be inconsequential, especially in high poverty schools. In the volunteer work I do for homeless families, there is a significant percentage of single parent families. Divorced or single parent families make it tougher on the kids.

A couple of years ago, I tutored two fifth graders in math. They were interesting and attentive little girls who asked for help in writing. This blew me away. One had ten people and three generations in her house and the other had seven people. Each had a heavy list of chores beyond the normal 5th grader, so school work was difficult to fit in. The nice part is a school counselor was working with the teachers and parents to help these girls keep up. Since English was their second language, word math problems gave them trouble, as did geometry, but that can give anyone nightmares. We worked through their issues and they passed.

Seeing my mother with my kids and my nieces and nephews, she has the patience of Job. She embodies what teachers are all about. They want to help people and take great pride when the children learn and can apply their learnings to something else. In Finland, teaching is one of their most honored professions. Their brightest aspire to these roles and are given the freedom to teach. They are paid well and Finland routinely ranks high in education achievement.

We should value people like my mother. They make such a huge difference in our kids’ lives. They did in my life, as well. So, big shout outs to Mr. Batten, Ms. Bowden, Ms. Regan, Ms. Shrout, Mr. Brickell and countless others. Thanks for teaching me. And, the biggest thanks go to Mom. You are my first and best teacher. I love you, Mom.

Casablanca quotes still resonate in real life

The following post was written abut five years ago, but the real life references still resonate with the quotes. Please share with me your thoughts and overlooked quotes.

One of my favorite movies is “Casablanca” and, from its ranking on the list of greatest movies, I am not alone in my admiration. A love triangle is set in the context of the outset of World War II after Germany took possession of France. But, it is also filled with an interesting plot and characters played by marvelous actors who say some wonderfully written lines primarily written by Julius and Philip Epstein.

In another list of the 100 greatest movie quotes, lines from “Casablanca” appears six times. These and other lines from the movie still resonate today as a reflection of our times. Here are a few from memory, so I will likely misquote them.

We will always have Paris – Rick (Humphrey Bogart) says this a couple of times to Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) as a reminder of their relationship where they met. To me, this reminds us of our own special places that mean so much, whether it is a love interest or a special time in our lives.

Louie, I think this is the beginning of beautiful friendship – A key subplot is the relationship between Rick and Captain Louie Renault (Claude Rains), which is friendly, but with some distance. When they come together at the end to go fight the Germans, it lifts your spirits to see the two walk off together with a mission and true bond of kinship.

I am shocked, shocked there is gambling going on here – Captain Renault is asked to close Rick’s (a bar) at the behest of Nazi Major Heinrich Strasser (Conradt Veight) and used gambling as the reason, even though it is routine. The line is followed by the pit boss handing him his winnings. This reminds me of politicians, who know or allow a problem to occur, and then act shocked when the problem does occur.

Human life is cheap – This evil line is uttered by Major Strasser and gives me chills. People traveled to Casablanca to get transport to America, but must wait to bribe or pay heavily for papers to get out. This reminds me of the refugees who are being exploited by opportunist to sell them unsafe passage to Europe. Whether they get there is irrelevant.

Round up the usual suspects – This is a key line in the movie that is used often. Captain Renault uses it several times to convey that he is doing something about a crime, but actually is doing nothing. It is also how the writers figured out the ending, which they were struggling with. I find this line is also indicative of politicians who are good at pretending to do something, when they are actually doing nothing. Over 50 repeal votes of Obamacare is too easy an example.

Here’s looking at you kid – Rick, who is older than Ilsa, uses this line to show great affection, usually touching her chin lightly to look into her eyes. It plays an important part in Rick’s journey back. It reminds me of lines we use with each other that mean more than the words themselves. In the movie “Ghost” the line “Ditto” had huge meaning in the plot, e.g.

Play it for me Sam. Play “As Time Goes By” – I probably misquoted this misquoted line from Ilsa, which usually is seen as “play it again Sam.” Sam (Dooley Wilson), who has a velvet voice sings this melancholic song which lilts often through the movie. Like Paris, it reminds the two lovers of better times, as Sam who has always accompanied Rick when he sets up a bar, would play it for the two of them. We each have milestone songs that take us back in time. This may be music’s greatest gift.

Play it. Play La Marseillaise – To me, this is the most powerful moment in the movie. You see first hand the leadership and bravery of Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) as he asks the band to play the French national anthem to drown out the Nazi bar singers. In an interview, the Jewish writers said it gave them chill bumps as they wrote it. Leaders like this are few and far between and are much needed, as their quiet fortitude speaks louder than any bombastic chest beater.

Welcome back to the fight – This line is uttered by Victor to Rick as they say goodbye. It is a major moment of recognition of the noble efforts of Rick that are not unnoticed by one who does them all of the time. Today, we need more folks who are willing to speak their mind against tyranny, bigotry, disenfranchisement and hatred.

I realize I left off several key lines for space reasons. I also recognize I left off the contributions of Peter Lorre* and Sidney Greenstreet who added so much color to the movie. Let me know what you think and please share your favorites. As time goes by…

*Note: A very underrated singer/ songwriter is Al Stewart, whose opening stanza to “Year of the Cat” is a reference to Lorre who appeared in a couple of Bogart movies. This is what I remember most about Lorre in Casablanca.

“On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime”

Words of a caution about a ‘deformed party’ construct

The following is an excerpt from an article called Trump’s Big Lie Devoured the G.O.P. and Now Eyes Our Democracyby one of my favorite authors and columnists, Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman. Friedman wrote “The World is Flat” and “That Used to be Us: How America fell behind in the world it created and how it can come back.” A link to the article in Jill’s post “We are not okay” can be found below.

” Here is what Representative Anthony Gonzalez, one of the few Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, told The Hill about the campaign within the party to oust Representative Liz Cheney from her House G.O.P. leadership position, because of her refusal to go along with the Big Lie:

“’f a prerequisite for leading our conference is continuing to lie to our voters, then Liz is not the best fit. Liz isn’t going to lie to people. … She’s going to stand on principle.

Think about that for a second. To be a leader in today’s G.O.P. you either have to play dumb or be dumb on the central issue facing our Republic: the integrity of our election. You have to accept everything that Trump has said about the election — without a shred of evidence — and ignore everything his own attorney general, F.B.I. director and election security director said — based on the evidence — that there was no substantive fraud.

What kind of deformed party will such a dynamic produce? A party so willing to be marinated in such a baldfaced lie will lie about anything, including who wins the next election and every one after that.

Another favorite conservative pundit Michael Gerson said it more bluntly about the Republican leaders who support this path forward. He said you either have to be a “sucker or a liar” to be a leader in the new GOP. The Democrats are not perfect and, while I agree on many of their policies, not all curry my support. Yet, the Democrats are at least discussing issues while the GOP is just adrift supporting the most deceitful, corrupt and seditious president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon.

Republicans are being lied to by its so-called leadership. The sad fact is the leaders know they are lying and simply are looking to get away with it. Do Democrats lie? Yes, but the party currency is not deceit which apparently is what matters to the GOP more than anything. We need a viable GOP, but this one is headed down a dark alley.

We Are Not Okay | Filosofa’s Word (jilldennison.com)

GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney notes Republicans are at a ‘turning point’

I do not agree with several of the positions of Republican Representative Liz Cheney. Cheney, but she remains a hero to me and should to Americans and her own party, even though they are trying to oust her from her caucus leadership post. Why is she a hero? She is a truth teller in her party, but is getting vilified for daring to call out the former president for his untruthfulness and danger to our democracy. This sad affair speaks volumes about what is important in the party.

Cheney wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post which is reported on by Ben Leonard in an article called “Cheney doubles down in op-ed, says Republicans are at a ‘turning point (see below for a link).

Here a few paragraphs that give you the gist of her points.

“‘The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” the Wyoming Republican wrote in the op-ed. “History is watching. Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process’

In the op-ed, Cheney slammed Trump and said she would continue to do so ‘no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.

‘We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process,’ Cheney wrote.

In the op-ed, she also called for Republicans to support the Justice Department’s investigations into the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and renewed her calls for a bipartisan, 9/11-style fact-finding commission with subpoena power and no current members of Congress participating.

She also called on the party to move away from the ‘dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.

It should be noted, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal has defended Cheney and recommended she not be removed from her seat. Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, a Trump supporter, also supported Cheney’s right to remain in her position. And, conservative pundit Michael Gerson even went further saying to be loyal to this kind of Republican party that would vilify truth tellers means leaders are either “suckers or liars.”

But, to me a question that I want answered by MAGA supporters and other Republicans who support Trump is the following. Liz Cheney and others have spoken out against the deceitful and seditious actions of the former president knowing they would be vilified and get death threats. Yet, they did it anyway and still are. Now, why would they do that? The answer is “political courage.”

Cheney doubles down in op-ed, says Republicans are at a ‘turning point’ (msn.com)

My Favorite Teacher Movies

In honor or Teachers Appreciation Week, here is a post from seven years ago. It received wonderful suggestions in the comments section as there are so many good ones I did not mention. Please add yours below.

I was inspired to write this having seen a review of all the musical performers who went on “The Ed Sullivan Show” with a focus on performers from Great Britain. So, what does this have to do with teachers, you ask? In 1967, the singer Lulu came on the show to sing the title song from “To Sir, with love” a song that lives beyond its boundaries. The movie by the same name is one of my four favorite movies about teachers.

“To Sir, with love” was set in the 1960s in a working class area. Sidney Poitier played the role of “Sir” which was what the male teachers were called. After much angst of trying to teach these high school seniors, he realized that they were about to go into the real world, so he decided to teach them about life. I must confess I get chills writing this, as he taught them how to act toward each other; he taught them about race relations and human dignity; he taught them the beautiful things in the world and showed them opportunity. And, he taught them that the world was not going to give you anything, so you better work hard. If you have not seen the movie, I will not spoil the ending.

The next three were hard to pick from, but I went with “Dead Poet’s Society” perhaps Robin Williams’ best movie filmed in 1989. Williams’ character Mr. Keating returned to a prep school for boys that he had attended. The boys had been taught to conform and toe the line, but Keating taught them poetry and passion. He taught them about carpe diem. And, they called him “Oh Captain, my Captain.” The best moment in the movie is when he teaches Ethan Hawke’s character how to improvise a poem, since he was having so much trouble writing one. After he does so, Keating whispers in his ear, “don’t you ever forget this.”

“Stand and Deliver” with Edward James Olmos made in 1988 is a about a math teacher who decided to teach Calculus to Latin American high school students in an impoverished neighborhood. He is ridiculed and laughed at by the other math teachers and principal. He drafts kids who work over the summer on pre-calculus material, to be prepared for the even harder stuff in the fall. Lou Diamond Phillips plays one of his students and Andy Garcia plays a testing official with the Advanced Placement organization. These kids fight an uphill battle with Olmos’ coaching, teaching and coercing. And, just when they succeed, they get slapped down and have to do it again. It is an inspiring true story about what blood, sweat and tears mixed with some passion and intellect can do.

The final member of my quartet is “Mr. Holland’s Opus” made in 1995 with Richard Dreyfus as Mr. Holland, the music and band teacher. Take a lot of tissue to the couch if you watch this one. Mr. Holland worked on his opus for years, but found out later that his real opus was the kids he taught. Along the way, he had a challenge he needed to overcome and that was when his son was born deaf. But, his son being deaf was not the biggest obstacle, it was him finding the way to show his son his passion and bring him into his world and becoming more a part of his son’s. Being the father of band students over the years, with my oldest being in the marching and jazz bands, this show has extra meaning for me. Hats off to Jay Thomas as Holland’s friend and the school’s athletic coach. And, Bill H. Macy and Olympia Dukakis play important roles, although you will not care for Macy’s character at all.

I think movies about great teachers have a special place in our hearts. We all have been inspired by one or more teachers. And, just like these inspirational teachers, there are other excellent movies about teachers – “Finding Forrester” with Sean Connery, “Dangerous Minds,” with Michelle Pfeiffer, “Teachers” with Nick Nolte and JoBeth Williams, “The Great Debaters” with Denzel Washington and “Lean on Me” with Morgan Freeman to name a few. 

I would love to hear about your favorites. Did I miss one that I should have highlighted? Have you seen the above? What teacher did you have that made a difference in your life?