Monday, January 30, 2012


Academic mutants, as with cultural mutants generally, should wear their "disability" almost as a badge of honor. That is, NOT to succeed when the school system is debilitated and the social fabric is ruptured means that those students have not bought into a status quo gone amok. So students of "high need" should not be ashamed of themselves. After all, if their basic physiological, safety and belonging needs are tenuous due to the constellation of difficulties inherent in poverty, then such students are on a hero’s journey of self-discovery. This is not to say that such students bear no responsibility for themselves; rather, it means that they need to be gently guided toward wanting to accept the responsibilities that come with the long passage into adult life in contemporary society.

Understanding oneself and society in an age of electronic gizmo distractions, entertainment, and instant gratification is no easy task. But helping students to stabilize, orienting them to the world, and motivating them to want to improve themselves, are the foundations of effective learning.

It would be a challenge to teach in a “high-need” school, but one worth the effort. Why? I would rather be helping misfits and non-conformists to have faith in themselves. It is these kids, from the street-school of hard knocks, who can offer more than kids who have everything handed to them and who simply schlep along through school, just as they will almost predictably schlep along through the rest of their lives. A kid with lots of challenges who learns from them and who can rise above them in spite of everything and become stronger for doing so becomes a kid with a stronger character, a kid with guts. I believe that these students are the ones who go on to make a mark in the world; it is these kids who make a difference that counts for something. Consequently, even if I, as a teacher, make a difference in just one student’s life, it would be a worthwhile effort.

I think I would make an effective teacher in a high-need school for two reasons: (1) I tend to think of myself as a cultural mutant and so I understand the phenomenon, and (2) I have a heart and teach with love. The rest, the imparting of knowledge, is the easier part. Knowledge of how to properly communicate using the English language is a hard-won experiential skill that comes with much practice and much patience. Role modeling the language is important too and I would do my best to show them what marvels can be had with good English language skills. I would hope that the memory of my example would remain with them as a guiding and positive force.

Kids bring mental/emotional trick bags with them in the form of various self-protecting devices. What manifests is usually obnoxious and insulting behavior meant to trigger a teacher's anger response. For example, they might talk at inappropriate times, ignore the correction of the teacher and/or say disrespectful things to the teacher or to others, and they can dream up numerous ways of 'absenting themselves,' viz., their minds, from the lessons at hand. And so students will test their teacher and challenge his or her commitment to being there and to breaking through to them. If they are successful, then they can project their failure by blaming the teacher's own failure in being able to successfully negotiate their challenges, and thus both engage in the dynamics wherein they continue not to learn.

Kids whose lives have been affected by traumas bring heavy psychological baggage to the classroom. Transcending outright disrespect can be one of the most trying aspects of teaching. The greatest challenge for me would initially be to successfully deflect student attempts to trigger a negative, unhelpful response from me. And it is not simply a matter of deflecting their often clever snares. Gaining their trust by earning their respect in the first few encounters is, I believe, the greatest challenge.

My role, as a teacher, in addressing this challenge is to be an accomplished master gamesman. My role is NOT to become a disciplinarian full of conceit and who is tense with anger. Overcoming the guile and deceit of students can only be achieved via a kind practiced patience; a learning not to play the action/reaction game, at least not on THEIR terms. This means that I must exhibit a calmness and reason sufficient to convince them that I am able to see through various cunning strategies that, in the end, do a disservice to themselves and to their classmates. It means that I succeed in winning them over to the understanding that uncontrollable disruptions are not contributive to the learning of English.

After getting over that hurdle it is essential to present the subject of English in a format that will attract and nurture their interest in it. Besides infusing my teaching with my own personal enthusiasm for the language, I would lean toward a learner-centered approach. This would entail models of cooperative/collaborative learning that are participatory, exciting, even kinetic in some way. This would include having the students keep journals. These would not be diaries, exactly. Rather, they would be exhorted to write a few one-page stories each week based on immediate sensory impressions, trying to avoid second-level, thought-processed or conclusory-type writing. They would be exposed to literature and would be encouraged to express their thoughts in class discussions about the readings. It is hoped that such discussions might lead to some "ah-ha!" moments wherein they start to glimpse some insights and taste the wonders that are vicariously available to them through reading.

In discussing the experience of being an ESL teacher it is important to preface the discussion by considerations involving the students' native language and culture, and whether the students are required to be there or whether they come to study voluntarily.

I taught ESL in countries that do not use the Western alphabet: Korea, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. In Korea I taught university students; in Turkey I taught at a language institute that catered mostly to students and young working people; and in Saudi Arabia I taught young soldiers training to be medics.

In terms of culture, Koreans topped the list as being the most distinctly different; the strident Muslim culture of the Saudis ranked second; and the Turks were probably the least different from my own Western culture (although differences obviously existed).

I always told my classes that I spoke three languages: the international language of English, and the universal languages of humor and love. (As a musician I also speak the universal language of music.) I proceeded to use humor and love to bridge the language barrier. I sought to make students feel comfortable and safe and instill confidence in their speaking and writing abilities. It was usually an uphill battle. I was not often very successful. It required patience and yet more patience. I found that teaching ESL overseas caused me to really tease-apart the non-phonetic aspect of the English language and think deeply about the spelling and pronunciation of words, its labyrinth of grammatical rules, and the sensibilities of syntax and colloquial expressions. I concluded that the language is best learned via immersion in it, and I exhorted my students to travel to English-speaking countries.

Probably most distressing to me (a self-described cultural mutant), teaching ESL often required me to be an exemplar of Western culture. I had a hard time trying to explain a culture from which I often felt alienated, even ashamed. And so I learned a lot about myself over those four or so years I spent as an ESL teacher.

In the end I felt that I connected with a handful of students. Whatever English skills I managed to impart, I always hoped that I left them with some sense of the commonality we share IN SPITE OF our language and cultural differences.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Imagine if the incumbent president and all of his Republican challengers were required to respond to a civics test so as to determine their suitability for office. The test would concern the constitutionality of three things: (1) the current money and financial systems (incl. foreign aid); (2) the conducting of undeclared foreign wars, and; (3) the recent legislative attempt to deprive the People of their unalienable Rights.under §1031 of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Instead of debate after stage-managed debate, why not insist on having each prospective office-seeker commit to responding to this little civics test? After all, if the underlying fundamentals of our laws are simply ignored, how can an aspirant to the nation’s highest elective office be tolerated and even seriously considered? How can such a person be acting in the best interests of the People, viz., the true Sovereign for whom our system of government was established?

Accordingly, I challenge President Obama and the Republicans seeking the nomination to respond to my little civics test, as presented below, by unequivocally stating their respective positions in essay form:


The U.S. Constitution of 1787 was a world novelty. No nation prior to this time had a written constitution in place.[1] Since its adoption in 1789, the U.S. Constitution has been the supreme law of the land. Today it consists of seven articles and twenty-six amendments.[2] Do you believe in adhering to our Constitution?

Article I, Section 8, Cl. 5, reserves to the U.S. Congress the power to create money,[3] i.e., to control, exercise, and benefit from the power of the purse for the People as a whole (instead of glutting the avarice of special banking interests as agents of economic globalization). How little attention is paid to the unconstitutional monetary system of fiat money and the financial system of fractional reserve banking, conducted by private banksters[4] under the auspices of an unconstitutional cartel misleadingly referred to as the “Federal Reserve System”[5] (financed by the illegal activities of its collection agency, the IRS). And how unquestioningly the populace and the courts accept Wall Street’s securitization of mortgage loans as the ingenuity of an enterprising “capitalist” system, hardly stopping to see the corroding effect this has had on titles to real property and the hostile assault that its unlegislated (MERS) transfer mechanisms has had on the states’ venerable, time-tested land records systems. It is truly ironic that such arguments might at first blush seem quaint or outlandish, or even be considered “ahead of their time” when their validity can be traced to ancient moorings in our Constitution (as well as in commercial and real property laws).

The States are prohibited from creating money under Article I, Sec. 10, Cl.1.[6] If the states are not permitted to create money and thus increase the money supply, it hardly seems possible that Congress delegated that power to private banks to do so, even if it could lawfully do so and it cannot. It is hoped that the courts will begin to scrutinize more closely the inherent unlawfulness and inequities of what today pass for the accepted norm. In fact, is it not incumbent upon all three branches of government to consider the illegitimacy of the whole monetary system as a perversion of the highest law of the land?[7] And where in the U.S. Constitution does it permit foreign aid to be distributed? If there is no constitutional power to do so, how is it that such a violation of the U.S. Constitution persists? Do you support foreign aid?

Article I, Section 8, Cl. 11 reserves to the U.S. Congress the power to declare War. A president has no right to effectively declare War by committing military troops and assets by simple fiat. In fact, under Article II, Sec. 2, Cl. 1 “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;”(emphasis added) This condition means that in the absence of a declared War, the President is NOT Commander in Chief. Given these constitutional hurdles, how are our military intrusions worldwide legally valid and acceptable?

The first ten Amendments taken together are known as the Bill of Rights. These are a further articulation of the unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness set forth in the Declaration of Independence.

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate passed legislation purporting to do away with the rights of the People as enumerated in the Bill of Rights. They acted in reaction to some amorphous threat of “terrorism.” Can a statute efface unalienable rights of the People? Explain.


As the 2012 presidential election gears up, the nation is in the strange position of allowing a sitting president to continue in office despite his failure to “defend, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” pursuant to his oath of office as prescribed in Article 2, Sec. 1, Cl. 8.

§ President Obama has accepted the current fiat money system and fractional reserve banking of the Federal Reserve System. In fact, he has bailed it out and done everything he can to perpetuate that system;
§ President Obama has not closed Guantanamo Bay, has not really ceased hostilities in Iraq, and has intensified the undeclared war in Afghanistan, and hostilities in Pakistan and Iran and elsewhere; and
§ President Obama has signed the despicable legislation passed by Congress that purports to strip the People of their unalienable, constitutionally-protected rights.
By these numerous constitutional violations should President Obama be impeached under Article 2, Sec. 4?

Should those in Congress who voted to bailout the banksters, who do not question the constitutionality of our money and the status quo financial system, who vote for (undeclared) War expenditures and otherwise endorse military hostilities and the giving away of foreign aid, and who voted to deny the People their unalienable rights – should these Congressmen and women be impeached for their failure to support the Constitution of the United States as they are required to do under Article VI, Cl. 3?

Are not their votes and support, and the president’s failures to act and his unconstitutional actions, tantamount to treason?


1. The French Constitution of 1792 was soon to follow, and from this era onwards there was a movement in every country (except in the Habsburg empire, and Britain, the great mother of anomalies) towards political reform, or national independence, or both, which anchors the structures of liberty in a written constitution with the force of law.

2. Actually twenty-seven if you count the Sixteenth Amendment. But this amendment was never properly ratified, and was wrongfully certified by the Secretary of State. Benson & Beckman, The Law That Never Was (1985). See,

3. The right to “coin Money, regulate the value thereof…”

4. Farrell, Joseph P., Babylon’s Banksters: The Alchemy of Deep Physics, High Finance and Ancient Religion (2010); Astle, David, The Babylonian Woe (undated), last retrieved at on Feb. 25, 2011

5. Brown, Ellen H., Web of Deb: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System -- The Sleight of Hand That Has Trapped Us in Debt and How We Can Break Free (2007, 2008)

6. “No State shall…coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts…”

7. Vieira, Edwin, Pieces of Eight: The Monetary Powers and Disabilities of the United States Constitution, (2002, 2011); also see Dr. Vieira’s instructive five-part lecture at

Jonathan D. Suss is an attorney licensed in Maryland who publishes occasional articles, currently making a marginal living as a blues piano player and woodworker. He can be contacted at and at