Friday, January 29, 2010

"Why do Democrats hate us working people so much, and love the losers?"

So said a comment to an article from the San Francisco Chronicle, which announced that the California State Senate passed a single-payer health care bill along party lines with a vote of 22-14.

The bill will go to the Assembly, which will undoubtedly pass the bill as well, seeing as how they are even more loony left than the Senate. Mercifully, I have been assured by an anonymous source at the Capitol that Governor Schwarzenegger will veto the bill should it come across his desk.

This health care plan would cost California taxpayers about $200 billion dollars a year and would receive its funding from a payroll tax. A PAYROLL TAX! That would mean, once again, that the working stiffs in this state would subsidize the lazy and indolent. Yeah, yeah, there would be a sob story in there somewhere, but the exceptions to the rule do not require a massive new entitlement like this that California could ill-afford, seeing as how we are $20 billion in the hole as we speak, and just today, our state's controller announced that the state is set to run out of money on April 1st.

If I didn't know any better, I would say that certain members of our state's legislature are purposely trying to destroy the once great state of California. They would deny it of course, but I'm sure you know the old saying regarding actions vs. words.

Good Day to You, Sir

Uhhh... you're welcome?

In an attempt to stave off a larger human tragedy than what has already occurred on the beleaguered nation of Haiti, the United States military has been operating off the coast of Haiti and in the city of Port-au-Prince as they attempt to treat injured people, and more importantly, provide food and water to people who have lost everything.

So what kind of response has greeted our soldiers? Let's hear from a Lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division:
Yesterday, they threw water bottles back at us and said, ‘We don’t want your water’,” Lt Kerfoot says. “When we gave out high energy biscuits, they threw them on the ground and stomped on them when they saw they were cookies. My soldiers and I think they’re ungrateful.
Oh, but these Haitians actually provide a reason to be upset about these abysmal rations they are receiving. The article goes on to explain:
The displaced Haitians want food, not water, a Haitian woman explained to [Lt Kerfoot]. And in their culture, biscuits are not real food, but something given to children.
And you wonder why Haiti was a pathological basket case even before the earthquake struck.

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Zinn lied, then he died

Author and retired Boston University professor Howard Zinn has gone to that great socialist paradise in the sky at the age of 87. Zinn made a name for himself as author of A People's History of the United States, one of society's most damaging books in our country's history.

I say damaging because its cynical and slanderous description of the history of our country has now been forced upon two generations of high school and college students since its release in 1980. The book has little if anything good to say about the United States. It is a narrative in which every action taken by the United States has been motivated by genocide and greed, and every event was always a class struggle in which nothing good ever came from someone who actually had the audacity to make a profit from his endeavors to make the world a better place.

What is most telling about this book is what it does and does not include. First of all, and perhaps most importantly, A People's History doesn't have footnotes. Then there is what gets covered and what doesn't. I will let columnist Dan Flynn of Frontpage Magazine give you an idea of the intellectual vacuousness of Zinn's magnum opus:
Washington’s Farewell Address, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Reagan’s speech at the Brandenburg Gate all fail to merit a mention. Nowhere do we learn that Americans were first in flight, first to fly across the Atlantic, and first to walk on the moon. Alexander Graham Bell, Jonas Salk, and the Wright Brothers are entirely absent. Instead, the reader is treated to the exploits of Speckled Snake, Joan Baez, and the Berrigan brothers. While Zinn sees fit to mention that immigrants often went into professions like ditch-digging and prostitution, American success stories like those of Alexander Hamilton, John Jacob Astor, and Louis B. Mayer—to name but a few—are excluded. Valley Forge rates a single fleeting reference, while D-Day’s Normandy invasion, Gettysburg, and other important military battles are left out. In their place, we get several pages on the My Lai massacre and colorful descriptions of U.S. bombs falling on hotels, air-raid shelters, and markets during the Gulf War of the early 1990s.
Nevertheless, A People's History continues to be practically required reading in any college or high school AP history class.

Zinn's death comes just weeks after the History Channel aired The People Speak, which was based on his book, and was a two-hour snoozefest of leftist actors and entertainers performing spoken word performances of the "little people" who Zinn fetishized as being the real America. Of course, you were only one of those little people if you were in one of the left-wing preferred victim groups.

In an increasingly infamous scene in the movie Good Will Hunting (a movie I absolutely love by the way), there is a scene where uber-genius Will (played by Zinn-bot Matt Damon) tells his shrink Sean Maguire (played by Robin Williams) to "read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States," because that book would, "knock you on your ass." I will leave you with some constructive advice. I suggest you spend your money on something more worthwhile, namely an antidote to Zinn's silly screed, entitled A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. Now that book will knock you on your ass, as Schweikart (a history professor at the University of Dayton) and Allen (a history professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma) present a fair view of the United States, complete with its successes and its failures, its proud moments and shameful moments. Oh, and it's heavily footnoted.

I wish Howard Zinn Godspeed, and of course I feel for his family who I'm sure will miss him, but it's too bad Zinn's book didn't die with him.

Good Day to You, Sir

How to speak Obama

Columnist Ben Shapiro gives us a great tutorial on what Obama actually means when he speaks to us. Click the link and learn the leftist lexicon. Just one example:
“Unprecedented”: When he’s doing something beneficial for the American people, Obama claims he is the first to ever think of it; when he’s doing something harmful, he seems to always find a precedent for it in FDR or LBJ.
Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One mention on tonight's State of the Union speech

I am on my way to Slumberland, but I had to make one quick comment before I turn in for the night.

I think Nancy Pelosi is mentally deranged. Don't get me wrong, I think her political philosophy is batcrap insane as well, but this goes beyond her politics; I would be saying the same thing about her were she a Republican.

As I was watching the State of the Union speech tonight, I found myself merely listening to President Obama, because I was too fixated on watching ol' Nancy, who was sitting behind him.

She had a constantly loopy smile and vacant look in her eyes the entire time. She was blinking about 3 times per second. She kept licking her lips. She kept using both hands to move her hair away from her eyes like some lovestruck teenage girl. That woman is downright creepy.

And she is third in line to the presidency.


Good Day to You, Sir

The core of the problem

***WARNING: Bad language follows***

As I usually do (being a schoolteacher and all), I have been giving a lot of thought into why our nation's school system is circling the drain; especially when considering the fact that test scores show that the longer our students are in our nation's schools, the more academically incompetent they become.

I'm sure you have heard all the usual reasons: not enough money for our schools; the achievement gap; kids in poverty; teachers' low expectations of the students; poor teacher training; constructivist education where the students are expected to teach themselves. Believe me, all of these play some part (except for the excuse of the schools not getting enough money - they are getting more money than ever before).

However, when you look past the symptoms and begin looking for the disease, your view of our educational system can look much more clear if you compare our system of today to our system of yesteryear when our nation's schools were the envy of the world. What changed? Among other things, what changed was the whole idea of why our students are in school in the first place. In the last few decades, there has been an undeniable shift in the whole purpose of our schools from that of an academic institution to that of a social institution. Say all you want about our current obsession with standards and test scores; none of that matters as long as the current mission of schools continues to be to keep as many of our kids in these places no matter what the cost. A good way to illustrate this point is to compare discipline policies. What would have happened to a high school or junior high school student in 1960 if he or she had cussed out or otherwise verbally abused a teacher? The default would have been instant and permanent expulsion. How about today? I can give you examples from my own campus, and I can assure you that the situation is similar on tens of thousands of other campuses across our nation. Frankly, it takes a heck of a lot more bad behavior to be permanently removed from school today, than fifty years ago. Because of this, we have a multitude of students who, even though they make up a small minority, are tearing apart the solemn academic environment that could exist if they were permanently removed. But they are not. Keeping in mind what would have happened to these students fifty years ago, take a look at just a few examples of the behavior of some students at my site and what their punishment ended up being for their transgression(s):
  • "[the student] got upset and yelled out loud at me, "You better not be yelling at me, Nigga!" I sent him out of the classroom to the VP's office. On his way out, he exclaimed, "I don't care about this bitch ass nigga." - The student received a two-day teacher suspension from the classroom, and even though the administration received a referral from the teacher, no administrative suspension or expulsion hearing was administered.
  • ...[the student] called me a "crackhead". She was given a consequence earlier this year for calling a teacher a "bitch." - This student received a one day suspension from school for this incident.
  • The sub in his math class sent a referral for [the student]. He was disruptive, Talked to another student and was constantly off task. He told [the sub] to "shut up" and later said, " women never shut-up." He also made a verbal slur saying she had a "Mexican mustache." - This student received a one-day classroom suspension from the teacher, even though a referral was turned in to the administration.
  • [the student] responded to the teacher saying, "stop all that nonsense," by saying, "You are nonsense and I should drop you." - This student received a two-day suspension from school.
  • [the student] was observed hanging out of the bus window as she yelled at a student passing by on the sidewalk to "lick my ass!" I boarded the bus and told the student to come with me to the office. The student refused to leave the bus until she was told the bus would not leave with her on it. Once off the bus, the student refused to follow my instructions to follow me to the office, instead, walking away from me. I followed the student and continued to instruct her to follow me to the office. The student then yelled a string of profanities at me that included multiple uses of the the words "fuck" "fucking" and "motherfucker." - This student received a three-day suspension from school.
Once again, I ask you to imagine the fate that awaited these students at your average high school or junior high school in 1960. Do you imagine their punishment would have stopped at a mere few days of suspension?

With this modern-day mindset permeating our educational system: that it is essentially acceptable for students to talk to teachers this way, it is perfectly natural that you are not going to see a lot of excellence in our schools. You cannot expect students to do well in school if they are surrounded by these kinds of disturbances all day, every day. Keep in mind that these are merely the disruptions that were actually reported. A long slow burn of behavior like this is the norm in so many of our schools - even schools that are thought to be quality campuses in desirable locations.

Now, why is this behavior tolerated like it is? That brings us to the next big problem, and that is our lawmakers. So many legal protections have been instituted to keep these students from facing the consequences of their actions, that to act the way they do has become practically painless. The painful truth is that the default behavior of young people can be quite savage unless there is some kind of outside influence to contain their natural instincts. That is what we adults are for, but as the adults in charge of our nation's schools, we have been hogtied by state education codes that create a labyrinthine set of rules to which we must comply before a disruptive student can finally be dealt with. And even then, when a student is actually expelled, he is, more often than not, back the following school year. So an expulsion isn't even an expulsion anymore.

I have a student who is currently serving a five-day suspension for bringing a steak knife to school. This is his second offense now for bringing a knife. Last year, he was kicked out of summer school for bringing a knife and actually threatening other students with it, including even chasing them. Not only that, this student was expelled from school last year for exposing his genitals to a girl on the bus. This was the second time he had exposed his genitals to a girl, and he also has been in trouble for touching girls in inappropriate ways. But there's more. This student has received multiple suspensions this year for leading a little posse of cohorts on our campus and randomly attacking smaller, weaker students, including one assault that was caught on one of our school's video cameras. After this latest incident with the knife, the admin referral that I read on our system says this student "will possibly be recommended for expulsion." This latest five-day suspension now gives him a total of 19 days this year that he has been suspended from school. Keep in mind, that after all I have told you that this student has done, he continues to sit in our classrooms and patrol our campus every day, intimidating other students and making miserable the lives of students and teachers alike.

Lawmakers and squishy high-level administrators will tell you that students like this must be kept in school because by law, all kids have a legal right to a free and appropriate public education, and that keeping him out of the classroom or the school is violating that right. My retort is to always ask about the effect on other students and their right to that same education when they are being abused and intimidated by this student and many others just like him.

It was when public education went from being a privilege to being a right that we lost our educational system in this country and we began losing generations of Americans to the personal prison of ignorance and our country to a path toward decline.

What was it Thomas Jefferson famously said? "A nation that expects to be ignorant and free... expects what never was and never will be."

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I was just thinking

Yes, that happens every once in a while.

I was coming home from work the other day and I encountered traffic on the freeway, which had come to a near standstill. As we crawled along, I could see flashing lights up ahead. When I got closer, I saw that the emergency vehicles and the fender bender that caused them to deploy were all on the other side the jersey barrier in the opposing lanes of traffic. This means that were absolutely no impediments on my side of the freeway, yet traffic had slowed to a crawl as it went past the wreck on the other side of the freeway. Now, this phenomenon is not new, in fact there is even a time-honored name for the practice: rubbernecking. However, have you ever thought through what exactly had to occur for traffic to come to a standstill on the side of the freeway where the wreck didn't even happen?

This means some rubbernecking jackass, of his own volition, actually slowed down on the freeway to some 5 to 10 miles an hour to take a look at the wreck that occured on the other side of the freeway. Naturally, when jackass or jackasses (maybe more than one slowed down) brings their auto to a crawl, everyone behind the jackass(es) had to slow down as well, and voila! Traffic jam. Have you ever had the urge to voluntarily slow from 70 mph to a crawl on a busy freeway so you could gawk at a wreck that doesn't even impede your path? Neither have I, but obviously, some people are not as swift.

When it comes to behavior that I cannot imagine myself doing, I also am struck with this same feeling of disbelief when I look at all the trash on the ground around the lunchtime eating area on the campus at which I teach. Practically every potato chip bag, soda can, and sandwich wrapper had to have been purposely dropped there. I imagine myself standing down there, talking to my friends, and the thought of taking that paper bag that held my lunch and simply dropping it on the asphalt and walking away is a notion that is so alien to me that my brain has trouble wrapping itself around the concept. Obviously, the brains of many of the students at my school are not as easily burdened with such a complex process of thinking. Lucky them.

It's not easy being perfect.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, January 25, 2010

A window into the world of windows

When my wife and I bought our house almost two years ago, we recognized early on that the windows would have to eventually be replaced. The current windows (which have presumably been there since the house was built in 1966) are aluminum frame, single pane dinosaurs that emit cold drafts into the house that you can especially feel from our massive living room window when sitting on the couch watching television.

Naturally, during the winter, we must constantly run our heater - the fireplace will only reach the common areas - and our air conditioner during the summer. The current economic situation is a good one for home improvements if you have the financial resources to make it happen, so last week, my wife and I decided to take the plunge and have some estimates done to replace all 15 windows plus the sliding glass door which accesses the back porch.

The first estimate came in just under $8,000, which is pretty not bad. Nevertheless, it's never a good idea to go forward on just one estimate, so we had a competing company come out, which means we had to endure another two hours of measuring and window presentation.

When the rep from this second company was finished tabulating his estimate, he pushed the piece of paper across the table to me, and it was just over $13,000.

However, as they say in the biz, BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

We told the rep that it was a fair amount based on the company's reputation and the quality of the windows, but we would need to reevaluate his estimate after our mid-February tax appointment, as the prospect of a substantial refund would be a major factor toward considering his estimate. It was here where the sales rep killed any remaining chance he might have had.

He told us that the $13,000 dollar estimate was good for the next 30 days, but if we agreed to sign that night, he was authorized to give us a large discount from the current number. He wouldn't tell us what that amount would be, mind you; we would just have to commit that night and hope for the best.

Apparently my wife and I had suddenly donned some crazy costumes because all of a sudden, our sales rep was Monty Hall and we were on Let's Make a Deal: Do you stay with Door Number One? Or do you risk it all and see what's behind Door Number Two? As soon as he did that, the meeting was over.

It was only then - after we had refused the offer - that the sales rep revealed what the discount would have been had we accepted it: $2,000. So the final tally for the estimate would have been $11,000. This tactic revealed a couple of things to my wife and me.

First, sales tactics like that are an instant turn off; even if it really was done in good faith, it left us with the feeling that we were being played.

Second, if the job could really be done for $11,000, then why wasn't that the original estimate to begin with? Why was it necessary to play secret games with us in order to pressure us into committing to this company to do the work?

To ask the question, of course, is to answer it.

After our experiences with this episode, there is little wonder that the Better Business Bureau fields more inquiries about the home improvement industry than any other sector of our economy, and fields the 7th largest number of complaints.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When Hitler ain't happy, ain't nobody happy

Uh oh. Adolf just found out that Scott Brown won the election:

Just so you know, this scene has been lampooned on many other topics besides politics. It comes from a movie called "Downfall." Search YouTube, and you will find quite a few of these. It's a wonderful movie, too.

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What do these two guys have in common?

Neither of them were able to get Martha Coakley elected! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Has this been a great night or what? As soon as I got a chance to find out that Scott Brown was ahead 52%-47% and that Coakley had conceded, I turned on the cable news the first chance I got. And was it Fox News to which I tuned first? Hell no! I wanted to watch the left-wing morons on MSDNC beclown themselves as they attempted to explain this one away. I was not disappointed.

I tuned in just in time to watch Rachel Maddow tell us all that we shouldn't be too shocked about Scott Brown's win, because Massachusetts isn't a "bastion of liberalism" like everyone thinks by citing all the Republican governors the state has elected. She then went on to begin lamenting the "dire record" that Massachusetts has of never having elected a female senator or governor. So now all of a sudden, Massachusetts is a bastion of conservatism and sexism; at least according to Rachel Maddow. Stellar analysis there, dude.

Then Maddow brought on unstable leftist harpy Joan Walsh of, who insisted that this election was not a referendum on President Obama. Hmm, had Coakley won, I would bet dollars to donuts that Walsh would have insisted otherwise. These statist busybodies are oh, so disingenuous.

Later in the coverage, Maddow joined Chris "Obama gives me a thrill up my leg" Matthews in some Boston bar where their every lefty talking point was cheered by the partisan peanut gallery in the background.

I could finally take no more, so I switched over to Fox News where I watched Scott Brown give his victory speech. My favorite part is when he held up a copy of the Boston Herald which had a huge photo of Brown along with a headline that read, "HE DID IT!" Boy, did he.

Let us take quick stock of what exactly Scott Brown has done. In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a factor of 3 to 1; where Barack Obama received 62% of the popular vote over John McCain's 36%; where Democrat Ted Kennedy - The Lion of the Senate - had occupied the up-for-grabs senate seat since 1962 and his even more famous brother, John F. Kennedy had held the same seat since 1952, Republican Scott Brown beat his Democrat challenger by five percentage points. Due to Brown's amazing victory, the Democrats in the U.S. Senate have now lost their short lived 60-vote supermajority.

Let the games begin!

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, January 18, 2010

At least he is honest about being dishonest

I have only ever caught snippets of MSDNC/Radio talker Ed Schultz on his television show, but what I have noticed is that it always looks like his head is about to explode. Just by looking at him, me thinks the guy has some major blood pressure issues.

Come tomorrow, if Republican Scott Brown defeats Democrat Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race to fill "Teddy Kennedy's Seat," I think you might just watch Ed's brain matter splat against the inside of you television screen.

Of course, if the statists in Massachusetts try to do what Ed calls for in this clip from his radio show, perhaps Brown won't have much of a chance of winning after all. Listen as Ed Schultz blatantly, explicitly, unashamedly, and (to Republicans and the Right) insultingly encourage Dem voters in Massachusetts to cheat in order to ensure that Martha Coakley gets elected:

Wow. Way to encourage people to break the law, Ed. The great part about all this is that the damage has been done. The fact that this late in the game, Scott Brown is actually leading in most polls is astounding. Keep in mind that he is a Republican candidate in one of the most lopsidedly Democrat states in the nation, and he is not just running for any old senate seat. This is the one that was held by Ted Kennedy since the early 1960s, and by none other than John F. Kennedy before that. The damage to the Democrats' confidence has already been done. If Brown actually ends up winning this thing, that will just be the icing on the already very delicious cake.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Quote of the year... so far

I have been closely watching this U.S. Senate special election in Massachusetts where Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley are battling to gain control of the seat vacated by Ted Kennedy when he died last summer.

Notice I say "the seat vacated by Ted Kennedy." If you haven't already watched it, or if you want to feel that sense of satisfaction by watching it again, watch and listen to Brown's absolutely brilliant response to debate moderator David Gergen when Gergen refers to "Teddy Kennedy's seat."

Meanwhile, Martha Coakley seems to be doing everything she can to lose this race in a state that is extremely friendly to Democrats. After one of her campaign ads misspelled her state as "Massachussetes" the other day, her campaign is taking another hit after one of her campaign aides appeared to assault a reporter from the Weekly Standard by shoving the reporter into a metal railing, and then blocking the reporter's way in order to keep the reporter from asking Coakley more embarassing questions about her corrupt ways. The shove into the rail is admittedly hard to make out, but there is no mistaking the harassment the aide gives the reporter after the reporter gets back up.

Boston politics the Chicago Way! I hope Brown takes Coakley down in next week's election.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sharpton, Obama, and Hillary weigh in

I have been chuckling at the usual hypocrisy from those pesky Dems. Seven years ago, they called for Trent Lott's head for his remarks at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party, where Lott said that if Thurmond's 1948 Dixiecrat presidential candidacy had been successful,
I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.
Trent Lott resigned from his position as Senate Majority Leader, and I was rather happy to see the helmet-haired pantywaist fall by the wayside.

Now we have Harry Reid, who is quoted in a soon-to-be-released book about the 2008 presidential election campaign as saying about then-candidate Barack Obama that Obama had a chance of winning the presidency because he was "light skinned" and spoke with no "Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

It has been fun watching the left tie themselves in knots as they attempt to defend and/or justify Senator Reid's bigoted remarks. I was listening to a soundbite of the so-called Reverend Al Sharpton on the radio this morning where he excused Reid because his remarks were made as a compliment to Obama, so what's the problem? Wow! If that's the case, does that mean I can sing the praises of our light-skinned Negro president who doesn't sound like a Negro? Sharpton himself let me know that I am in the clear. Unlike the most powerful member of the U.S. Senate, I refuse to stoop there.

I have also found amusement by reading what then-Illinois State Senator Obama had to say about Trent Lott in 2002:
"It seems to be that we can forgive a 100-year-old senator for some of the indiscretion of his youth, but, what is more difficult to forgive is the current president of the U.S. Senate (Lott) suggesting we had been better off if we had followed a segregationist path in this country after all of the battles and fights for civil rights and all the work that we still have to do... The Republican Party itself has to drive out Trent Lott. If they have to stand for something, they have to stand up and say this is not the person we want representing our party."
Not surprisingly, Obama has accepted Reid's apology - he obviously was not swayed by Lott's multiple apologies - and has suggested that we should all move on.

My biggest chuckle of the day came this morning when Mike Gallagher, on his daily radio show, sought clarification from Hillary Clinton as to what constitutes a "Negro" dialect. He played the following clip:

Alan Colmes generously called that a "southern accent." I don't think that was exactly what Hillary was going for.

In all seriousness, I would love to just look at Dirty Harry's remarks as a tempest in a teapot and, yes, move on. The problem is that you know that if these remarks had come from the lips of a conservative, you would never hear the end of it from the media or the leftist politicians and pundits. What's good for the Republican Senator from Mississippi is good for the Democrat Senator from Nevada. If we on the right don't start standing up from ourselves and demanding the same pound of flesh from the left that they demand of us; if continue to bend to their will and let double standards stand, then we might as well just pack it in. With that in mind, Dirty Harry Reid needs to step down from his leadership position, if not the Senate.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

"Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" - more post-speech analysis

I first focused on the Governator's done-deal proposals regarding educational reform that have already passed the state legislature and are currently awaiting his signature because, being a California teacher and all, the issue of education in this state is near and dear to my heart (and my wallet). Bottom line is that in the pursuit of $700 million Race to the Top federal grants, our state government has decided to once again call teachers and school administrators to full account, while demanding no accountability of the parents and students.

However, as important as education is in this state - neither the state Democrats nor the Governator want education funding to be touched - the dominant priority in Schwarzenegger's remarks today focused on jobs. As he put it: "Jobs, jobs, jobs." Here is the relevant part of this morning's speech to the state legislature:
[T]here are four proposals to spur job growth that I will introduce:

First, you will receive a $500 million jobs package that we estimate could train up to 140,000 workers and help create 100,000 jobs.

Second, you will receive a measure to streamline the permitting of construction projects that already have a completed environmental report.

Third, to stimulate other construction jobs, you will receive a proposal for homebuyer tax credits of up to $10,000 for the purchase of new or existing homes.

And fourth, since we want California to be the dynamo of green technology, I ask you to pass our proposal exempting the purchase of green tech manufacturing equipment from the sales tax.
Let's pick these proposals apart where they need picking, shall we? And more importantly, let's consider some alternatives that I would have proposed had I been up at that podium instead the Governator.

First, I get nervous when politicians start talking about how many jobs they are going to create with their new programs. They even give actual numbers - in this case, 100,000. Human nature being what it is, how can you honestly deign to estimate how many jobs you are going to create? And why the discrepancy between 140,000 workers and only 100,000 jobs? What happens to the other 40,000? And for what jobs are you going to train these 140,000 workers? Do you have it all figured out where in the job sector these jobs are needed? Does government have some magical crystal ball that knows better than the free market what kind of jobs are needed and where? On top of that, according to this Heritage Foundation article, job training programs at the federal level have largely been found to be failures in achieving their stated goals. What this portends is $500 million dollars sunk down a rat hole. With our state at least $20 billion in the hole, that is another half-billion dollars that we can ill-afford. Instead, how about cutting personal and business tax rates that will cause businesses to feel more confident to invest and expand, thereby creating the jobs that this state so desperately needs? The governor provided a very enlightening statistic during his speech. Did you know that 50% of our state's tax revenues are provided by only 144,000 California taxpayers? Imagine that: 144,000 people pay half our state's taxes, while the other 37,866,000 pay the other half. Not surprisingly, these 144,000 comprise those evil hated rich people who just happen to employ hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Californians. Imagine how many more Californians could find employment if these suffocative tax rates were eased on this small minority of taxpayers so that their hard-earned money could be put to work through investment and expansion, rather than being shoved down the entitlement rat hole. In the meantime, millions of California residents who are currently either not contributing, or barely contributing, their share of income taxes need to become taxpayers who are properly invested in the system so that their role is more clearly defined as that of a producer, rather than a consumer. This means revamping our outrageous state tax code and implementing a system that is more consistent, more predictable, and more equitable. This means getting rid of our progressive income tax system; I system, I must remind you, that is the very first plank in Marx's Communist Manifesto.

Second, I agree with Governor Schwarzenegger that the mischief committed by environmental activists must be curtailed. Unfortunately, I attended the press conference where the Democrat legislative leaders - Karen Bass of the Assembly and Darrell Steinberg of the Senate - stated in unequivocal terms that they are opposed to any "rollback" of environmental laws - evidently, even at the expense of these oh-so-important jobs that the Democrats keep blubbering that our state needs. As long as the Dems have an airtight lock on the majority of the legislative seats in this state, nothing is going to change in the area of easing back environmental laws that create such a hostile and expensive business climate in California. This means that Conservatives, Republicans, Tea Party folks - I don't care - need to do a better job of pointing out to Californians examples of just how damaging environmental lawsuits and stonewalling can be to people. Make the environmentalists clearly own their desire to see insignificant animals be sustained while priceless human beings suffer.

Third, Schwarzenegger's idea to "stimulate other construction jobs," by offering homebuyers a $10,000 tax credit for the purchase of a new or existing home is admirable, but why now? My wife and I bought a home in 2008... where is our tax credit? If this idea ever passed into law, would it be made retroactive at all? My other concern is that I can think of a glut of homes that have been built just in the Sacramento area in the past couple years, and they sit empty. Will that $10,000 credit be enough to get people to buy the homes that no one currently wants, or will it simply spur builders to build even more homes that no one will buy? If you think construction firms won't build them, think of the recently-burst bubble that prompted them to build the homes that currently sit empty.

Fourth, I object to yet another attempt to change peoples' behavior through manipulation of our tax code. So we supposedly want to go solar... that means the solar - and wind, presumably - industry gets a leg up on other energy industries. And government gets to play favorites by picking winners and losers rather than the free market. One green industry of which I heard no mention was nuclear energy. Ooooh, I know - scary stuff, that nasty nuclear. Just ignore the fact that France produces somewhere around 80% of their energy with nuclear power, and just ignore the fact that the production of nuclear energy produces little to none of the greenhouse gasses that so scare the pants off the Cult of Global Warming crowd - cult members that include many of the Assembly and Senate Democrats, along with Governor Schwarzenegger himself.

But, you might say, what about the nuclear waste that is produced? What about it? What does France do with theirs? What is never mentioned is the waste and inefficient use of land that is part and parcel of the production and use of solar panels and windmills. According to an article in the Washington Post, the production of solar panels produces a highly toxic by-product called silicon tetrachloride. Many solar panels are produced in China, and the article gives some rather enlightening details about this chemical:

"The land where you dump or bury it will be infertile. No grass or trees will grow in the place. . . . It is like dynamite -- it is poisonous, it is polluting. Human beings can never touch it," said Ren Bingyan, a professor at the School of Material Sciences at Hebei Industrial University.

Wow. Go Green!

Then of course, there would be no sales tax to be paid on these wind farms that take up thousands of acres of land and are littered with 300 foot-tall monstrosities that look absolutely horrible, cause an ornithological holocaust, and don't really produce all that much energy for the amount of resources and space that are used to build and place them.

All in all, the speech was a classic Shakespeare moment. It was a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Signifying nothing that is but a further invitation for federal involvement in what is supposed to be a state and local issue: education. While the jobs proposals are just that: proposals, the education reforms are soon to be reality. As a teacher, I am not too pleased about all that will be demanded of me when I will have little authority that is necessary to make it happen.

Good Day to You, Sir

Post-speech analysis

I gotta tell you, liveblogging a speech isn't easy. The speaker has no regard for the fact that I am on a traditional keyboard and not a steno machine.

I do want to emphasize a direct quote from the governor's speech:

"Just last night, the Assembly passed major educational refom, reform that once seemed impossible, but now will become law as soon as it hits my desk. for too many years, too many children were trapped in low-performing schools; the exit doors may as well have been chained.

Now, for the first time, parents - without the principal's permission - have the right to free their children from these destructive schools.

That is a great freedom. Also in the past, parents had no power to bring about change in their children's schools. But that will now change.

Parents will now have the means to get rid of incompetent principals and take other necessary steps to improve their childrens' education. To increase accountability, we broke down the firewall so that teacher performance can be linked to student performance."

As an educator, I want to hear the devil in these details. I teach in a challenging school with apathetic students and often adversarial or just-as-apathetic parents. Please tell me how you are going to link my performance with results over which I have no control, especially when the student performance is often based on standardized state testing that the student doesn't even have to take or try hard on completing. I have watched many students just put down all "C's" on their multiple choice state test. Am I responsible for their performance? I will post more thoughts soon.

Good Day to You, Sir

Live from the State of the State Speech

9:57am - We just conducted the prayer and pledge of allegience. I wonder how many legislators were cringing during all the mentions of God?

9:59am - Assembly Speaker Karen Bass is telling everyone to take seats and silence cell phones. People are still milling about and the gavel is now being banged.

10:00am - Maria Shriver and family was just introduced. The Governor just entered the chamber from the back while the introductions are being made.

10:01am - Introduction of Constitutional officers still going.

10:03 - The governor has been introduced and is making his way to the podium.

10:04 - Senate Prez Pro Tem Steinberg is making remarks, and has now introduced Schwarzenegger.

10:06: Lots of shoutouts and thank yous

10:06: Governor is introducting guests in the gallery. Former Sec of State George Schultz is here. Mayor and former Speaker Willie Brown is here. All of this is so self-congratulatory and ritualistic. All of these people obviously relish their role as being masters of the universe.

10:09: Arnold is starting off with a story of all the animals that live at his house (dogs, pony, pig). You know how speeches often start off with a personal anecdote. This is it.

10:10: "Last year in this room, we did great work together." He just talked about closing a budget gap of "$60 billion dollars, plus." Hmm, what about the current $30 billion debt?

10:11: Now parents, without principal's permission, they can move their children, and can move to get rid of incompetent principals, and children's performance can be linked to teacher's performance.

10:13: Calling for the passage of $11 billion dollars of bonds to fix the state's water system. The bonds are on the ballot in November. Heck, why not billions more in debt?

10:14: Summary of the coming year: priorities. First priority getting the economy and jobs back. "jobs, jobs, jobs."

10:15: $500 million dollar jobs package to create 100,000 jobs. Stimulate construction jobs, $10K homebuyer tax credit for new and exisiting homes. Exempt "Green Jobs" sector from sales tax.

10:16: We must reform our budget and tax system. Our basic problem is that our tax system does not reflect our economy. Our economy is diverse but our tax system is not. 38 million Californians depend on the taxes of 100,000 taxpayers, who pay 50% of our taxes.

10:19: We must reform the tax system because we cannot wait for the rich to bounce back.

10:20: The current tax and budget system is cruel. Which child do we cut? The poor one or the sick one?

10:21: Gov cites a $19.9 billion deficit. He calls for additional cuts. "We have no choice." He says he will protect education funding in his upcoming budget. This got lots of applause.

10:22: Just cited statistics that our spending on schools and prisons has flipped over the years; we used to spend more on schools, now we spend more on prisons.

10:24: The fed government is part of our budget problem. We only get $.78 from the feds for every dollar we spend their way. We aren't asking for a federal bailout, we are only asking for federal fairness.

10:25: Health Care - just complained about the "sweetheart deals" that other states are receiving. Just mentioned Nelson of Nebraska. "Nebraska gets the corn, and we get the husk."

10:27: Wants the equivalent of a water deal on pensions. Compares the pension issue to a train coming our way.

10:28: Currently reading quotes from a recent Time Magazine article that is singing California's praises.

10:29: Talking about his experiences during his visit to Iraq. Talking about the hardships that soldiers have faced (divorces, lost homes, PTSD). CA has more returning veterans - lots of applause - than any other state. Our state as well as the federal government... has a fundamental obligation for anyone who has shed blood. This is a priority.

10:31: Long applause for some returned Iraq veterans who are up in the gallery.

10:32: Speech over.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Live, from the Capitol!

I have just been given a unique opportunity. Tomorrow at 10am, I will be on the floor of the California State Assembly chamber at the State Capitol building in downtown Sacramento. I will be live-blogging Governor Schwarzenegger's State of the State Speech. I have my press pass and a wireless connection, and I'm ready to make the magic happen.

This should be interesting!

Good Day to You, Sir

Friday, January 01, 2010

Welcome to the future! Please watch your step.

Anyone remember this movie? It came out in 1984 and starred the late, great Roy "You're gonna need a bigger boat" Scheider. I remember watching this flick soon after it came out on video, and even though I was only 13 at the time, I was fascinated by the movie's vision of what 2010 would look like and also by the fact that, barring any unforseen pianos falling on my head, I would live to see if the movie's vision would match reality.

I now have that chance, especially since my wife and I don't own a piano.

I still don't think it has fully struck me that another decade has passed. I remember so vividly when the '80s ended - I was a senior in high school - and who can forget the end of the '90s, with it also being the end of the century AND the millenium? And please don't start with the whole, "well, the century didn't really end until 2001... I know, I get it!

It's funny how each decade has its own personality. Don't get me started on the 1960s, even though the first half was an extension of the 1950s; it was actually the 1970s when things got really insane. Then we pulled back from the brink of insanity in the 1980s as we enjoyed the governance of Ronald Reagan, and yes, greed really was good. The 1990s I look at as the calm before the storm. Things were beginning to deteriorate, but we were just too fat and happy to care. Then along came the '00s... the Oughts?... the Ones? What the hell do we call this decade anyway?

I have mixed feelings about the '00s.

On a micro (personal) scale, they were pretty good to me. I got married to a wonderful and loving wife; had two amazing children; worked for and received a B.A., a teaching credential, and a M.A.; began teaching, bought a house (two actually; I like the current one better); and settled in to a comfortable life of domesticity. Not bad.

On a macro scale, I think this decade stunk up the joint. September 11, 2001 changed us forever; thousands of families lost loved ones either in the attacks that day or in the battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan; the feeling of freedom that we still had was denigrated badly, both by worries about terrorism, but even more so, I believe, by our own government. Whether it regarded national security or economics, we are not as free today as we were ten years ago. Just look at the increasing hassle we face at the airport as children, nuns, and little old ladies continue to be goosed at the airport while Abdul from Nigeria sails right on through with his undies full of boom-boom. Just look at the downright criminal behavior of our kleptocratic congresscritters and our enabling presidents (yes, Bush, you too!) as they passed and increasingly continue to pass all manner of legalized theft that extinguishes - in the words of Milton Friedman - our freedom to choose.

With this in mind, I get the feeling that this decade is shaping up to be a barnburner. When you have the Tea Party, which isn't even an established political party, beating out both the Democrats and Republicans in polls, you just know that something has to give. With neither side - statist or conservative - willing to back down, it's just a question of whether or not our current national cultural and political conflict will continue to be debated at the ballot box rather than the ammo box. Believe me, I am not calling for violence here; I am merely reporting the writing that I see on the wall. I truly fear for the future of our country in the upcoming decade.

With the aforementioned wife and children I previously mentioned, I think about these possibilities each and every day.

With that not-so-cheerful thought, I wish all of you a stellar, safe, and satisfying 2010, and

Good Day to You, Sir