Sunday, October 30, 2005

God's Country

Whew! After those last few posts, I need something to remind me that life does have merit. What better way to do that than to document some of the most beautiful places on earth? This rendition of God's Country features my first foreign location. What you see there is the Mediterranean Sea about 100 yds away from downtown Positano, Italy. Positano is located near the city of Naples on the Amalfi Coast. The Med is clear, warm, and sparkles like a million diamonds in the hot Italian sun. I climbed up high to snap the photo, then climbed down to the rocks you see above the water, and jumped right in. Positano and the Amalfi Coast deserve to be included in God's Country.

Good Day to You, Sir

The Religion of Peace Strikes Again

Yesterday in Indonesia, four 16 year old Christian girls were walking home from school. They were attacked by a group of Muslims wearing black, and carrying machetes. When the attack was finished, three of the girls had been beheaded, and the fourth girl managed to escape with some serious cuts and hide in some bushes. Here is a link to a photo of one of the dead victims. I warn you that her head is not attached to her neck, so the photo is extremely graphic. I want people to see this photo if they can stomach it, because I want people to see that evil is not some esoteric concept. It is real, it is alive, and it exists among us. This photo shows what evil is capable of doing, and it also shows yet again, that the religion of Islam is desperately in need of a reformation. I have stated before that I believe Islam to be a cult. Some Muslims are more into the cult than others, but when one studies the history of the religion; its beginnings, its morally questionable founder, its spread by the sword, and its past and current excesses, how can one think anything else about this religion other than its status as a cult? Do other religions have their extremists? You bet. But tell me another religion that produces news-making stories of horrific violence day in and day out all over the world. I am sick to death of hearing about another bombing, another hostage situation, another beheading, another hijacking - all carried out while screaming "Allahu Akbar!" What sickens me just as much is the leftist media in the U.S. and Great Britain continuing to downplay who is carrying out all this violence. You hear the terms - militants, insurgents, gunmen, hostage-takers, activists (no, I'm not kidding), attackers, perpetrators - but you rarely hear the media state what these subhumans truly are: Islamic Terrorists. Case in point - read the Reuters article I linked above. Try to find one mention of the killers being Muslim. Yes, Islam is mentioned in the article, but is it directly attributed to the killers who did the beheading? See for yourself.

Good Day to You, Sir

And the Hits Just Keep On Coming

Yet another update on this Michael Steele racist photo affair. It appears that Steve Gilliard, the blogger who started this uproar has retracted his photo, and replaced it with a photo bearing an unmolested image of Lt. Governor Steele. From what I surmise, the photo that Gilliard doctored came from the Washington Post, and the Post wasn't too thrilled with their photo being manipulated into racist imagery. Apparently, the Washington Post didn't think Steve Gilliard was an insignificant crank either. Now that the photo has been changed, that hasn't stopped Gilliard from calling Steele a "Simple Sambo"; more racist hate from the "tolerant and compassionate" leftists and Democrats. Remember, even though Gilliard changed the photo, you can still see it right here. We must not forget what those on the political left actually think about minorities. Everything is fine as long as the minorities toe the party line. But if a minority dares to leave the leftist plantation, it's the days of Jim Crow all over again.

Good Day to You, Sir

Friday, October 28, 2005

Update on the Party of Racism

Yesterday, I blogged about a racist rendered photo of Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele that was published in a left-wing blog run by a guy named Steve Gilliard. I presented this picture as a typical example of how the political left treats black people who don't agree with them. I received a comment from Howard Davis, who also runs a blog, disputing my characterization as being just an isolated incident; that the blogger was some insignificant crank. Well, today, I come to find out that the blog in question was running advertising that was purchased by Lt. Governor Tim Kaine, the major Democrat candidate in the Virginia gubernatorial election. So much for being an insignificant crank. Lt. Governors and Gubernatorial candidates don't pay for advertising on a blog run by a crank. The fact that this blog is read by enough people that it warrants advertising kills the notion that this Gilliard is insignificant.

I will concede this, though. As soon as word of this "minstrel photo" made the rounds on the blogs out there, Kaine's campaign staff pulled a month's worth of advertising off of Gilliard's blog. The Democrats may be insane, but they are not stupid. Or are they? Now that Kaine's campaign has pulled that advertising, not just Gilliard, but also the most influential left-wing blog of all - the Daily Kos - is calling Lt. Governor Kaine a coward for pulling the advertising from Gilliard's blog. So it appears many on the left don't have a problem with making a black person look like Al Jolson as long as that black person is a conservative. Again, I ask: which party is the party of racism?

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ixnay on Miers

I could say that I knew this would happen, but I won't. I honestly thought that the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court would go forward to the hearings process. Nope. Miers is outta there, and I am relieved. She was just too much of an unknown, and I had horrible visions of David Souter painted all over this nomination. Now the strategic wrangling begins. I was listening to one of the AM radio talk shows on the way to work and heard an interesting theory: Bush will now nominate a sacrificial lamb who will be filibustered by the Democrats, then the nomination will be dropped. Then, the true nominee will be offered and the Democrats will be afraid to filibuster again for the fear of being viewed as obstructionists. Then again, what if Bush offered up the sacrificial lamb and the Democrats in Congress didn't put up resistance? Then would we be stuck with a lemon. This is going to get interesting. Hanging in the balance is a Supreme Court that currently has a majority that is willing to validate the taking of property from one private party and giving it to another private party in that name of increased tax revenue; that is willing to deny states the right to outlaw a practice that has killed over 30 million babies since 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided. I am sorry that this country has gotten to the point where we depend this much on the word of nine demi-gods in black robes, but one must work within the system he is provided. The best thing we can do is take back this Court from the left-wing while at the same time, pressuring Congress to do their constitutional duty and limit the power of the lower federal courts and bring them back under their constitutional role as described in that document.

Good Day to You, Sir.

Bravo to the NBA!

I usually think sports are a rather insignificant sideshow to the bigger issues we face today. However, as a middle school teacher, I notice how much sports figures influence the fashions and more importantly, the behavior of many of my students. Logic dictates that dressing like a thug from the ghetto can tend to encourage you to act like a thug from the ghetto, even if you are no such thing. Not long ago, the commissioner of the NBA, David Stern instituted new dress code rules for players who are "on duty". Not surprisingly, some of the players are not happy. I gotta tell you, their whining and excuses are pathetic. For specifics, check out the musings of one of my heroes Larry Elder, regarding this subject.

Good Day to You, Sir

Black Republicans are Eeeeeeeevil!

Another example of the machinations of the
warm and fuzzy progressives. You can obviously see a big difference in these two photos. It is the same photo, but one was obviously doctored. The doctored photo appeared in the online version of USA Today newspaper. It was taken down with an apology from USA Today. You will notice that the doctored version makes Condi Rice seem not just evil, but eeeeeeveel. Now, USA Today says they made an error. Some conservative bloggers like Michelle Malkin contacted USA Today, who said they made an innocent error as they were trying to sharpen the image of the photo, and I'll keep an open mind. However I do have two points to make about that. First, it is always amusing to watch someone deny they did something like this intentionally, because my retort is, "Oh I see, you are not malicious, you are just incompetent." Second, eeeeeveel pictures of other conservatives have also been seen before, with Cheney's snarl, and Bush's "Nazi salute" photos. Why is it that this phenomenon seems to happen only to conservatives? Just a thought.

Good Day to You, Sir

Now, Tell Me Again, Which Party is the Party of Racism?

Hat tip to Little Green Footballs on this one, and no folks, I did not take this photo! Among the leftists and so-called progressives out there, it is an accepted fact that conservatives and Republicans are racists and hate black people. What you see here is a maliciously doctored photo of Maryland Lt. Governor Michael S. Steele, who just threw his hat in the ring for a Senate seat in Maryland. The catch is that Lt. Governor Steele is black, and he is a Republican. With that in mind, he is being excoriated by the left, because how DARE a black person be a Republican! This photo was posted at a left-wing blog that you can visit here. It makes sense really. Democrats were (and are still) the party of racism and slavery. Those southern sheriffs during the Jim Crow period? Democrats. Those southern politicians who wanted segregation to stick around? Democrats. I'll bet you didn't know that more Republicans voted in favor of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill than did Democrats. Did you know that the "conscience" of the Senate, Robert Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia is a former honcho in the Ku Klux Klan? He is in the Senate as we speak, and the lefties do nothing but defend him. And here with this photo, we have a shining example of what the left does to black people who try to leave the leftist plantation. Don't blacks realize they are supposed to swear their allegiance to the Democrats in exchange for the paltry crumbs that the Dems throw their way? It is sickening to see how blacks who think independently are treated by the left. Look at the vitriol that they still sling at Clarence Thomas. Look at what happened to Bill Cosby when he expressed some criticism about some of the bad choices being made by members of the black community. Look at what happened to Janice Rogers Brown when she was nominated for the Federal Circuit Court. Check out this cartoon that was created to ridicule her. Keep in mind that this cartoon was run in a leftist publication, and a black one at that.

Bottom line, it is disgusting how the left treats black people who believe that they don't need help and handouts from whitey in order to be moral and successful. Don't take my word for it, listen to the eloquent words of Frederick Douglass, spoken 140 years ago:

"In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us ... I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! ... And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! ... Your interference is doing him positive injury."

Is that so hard for you on the left to understand?

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, October 24, 2005

Oh, Just One More!

Cut me some slack folks. I couldn't bear to skip the one with the flowers. Thank you for indulging me!

Good Day to You, Sir

God's Country

Now for something completely different...
I took these (and other) shots at a private estate near Bodega Bay on Memorial Day Weekend, 2003. I could not have asked for more perfect conditions. I am by far an amateur when it comes to taking photos. I have never had a single class, and I have never used any special equipment. One thing I have learned on my own is that my best shots tend to happen on days that are cloudy or when the direct sun is blocked. The clouds (or fog in this case) serve the role of those umbrellas that professional photographers use to mute the camera's flash. That top photo reminds me of one you would find on the sleeve of a Pink Floyd album.

I have always loved visiting the ocean, but I don't think I could ever live there. Aside from the weird people and the seeming dumpiness of most towns near the sea, I don't think I could handle the constant dampness. I grew up in a little mountain town that got 70 inches and upwards of rain per year, but at least during the summer, it would get well over 100 degrees. Living near the ocean however is just constant wet and damp, and for me, that negates the absolute visual beauty of the seascapes, cliffs, and woods that you find on the northern coast of California.

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Maybe President Bush CAN Control Mother Nature

I'm sure you have all heard the oft-repeated lunatic opinion of the political left that George W. Bush is to blame for Hurricane Katrina and the hurricane season in general because of his refusal to sign off on the Kyoto Treaty, which apparently is the only thing that will save us all from "global warming" (Funny- in the 1970s, even as a little kid, I remember everyone talking about "global cooling"). So the bottom line is that the lefties who think that President Bush is a moron who can't tie his own shoes, is also an omnipotent god who can control Mother Nature with his actions. I am beginning to believe they are right. Check out this article about the recent earthquake in Pakistan. Among the 80,000 dead were an estimated 3,000 terrorists.

Way to go President Bush! Next, I want to see you throw lightning bolts!

Good Day to You, Sir

Friday, October 21, 2005

Too Bad Democrats: No Politics of Personal Destruction This Time

So you have been indicted by a corrupt, partisan Democrat prosecutor named Ronnie Earle, from arguably the most leftist county in the state of Texas. After the first indictment is thrown out because the "crime" for which you were indicted wasn't even a crime when you "committed" it, the prosecutor goes grand jury shopping and on his third attempt, he finally secures an indictment after reportedly verbally haranguing the second grand jury after they failed to come back with an indictment. So after you are finally indicted, you are ordered to report to be arrested and your mugshot taken. For Congressman Tom Delay (R) of Texas, this mugshot could have been political suicide. You have seen mugshots before - Think Nick Nolte with his wigged out hair and pained expression. Can you imagine what the Democrats would have done with Delay's mugshot had he worn the same expression? They would have attached it to every campaign commercial, the "mainstream" media would have blasted the image all over the news, and Delay would have been a political dead duck. Instead of frowning for the camera, Delay made a genius move and "mugged" for the camera instead. He even wore a suit and his House of Representatives pin on his lapel along with a huge happy grin on his face. Does that picture look like a mugshot to you? It could be hanging on his office wall instead. Way to go Congressman Delay! You totally disarmed the Democrat attack machine with that one. If you want to know what could have happened instead, take a look at this mugshot of former Congressman (and current prison inmate) James Traficant (D) of Ohio. All I can say is, "Oh My!". Now ask yourself, could you get reelected with a picture like this floating around out there?

My thanks to for the use of their photos.

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, October 20, 2005

God's Country

I have grown weary of coming up with catchy titles that are a variation on my "God's Country" theme, so from now on, I am just going to title these pictures, "God's Country". How about that? Life is so much simpler that way. Not long ago, I promised that I would post another picture of Mount Shasta, and I always keep my promises. Unlike the other one, I can proudly claim this photo as my own. I took it in early June of 2004. I am standing in the Shasta Valley, just north of the town of Weed. You are hard pressed to find a more majestic mountain anywhere. I have seen many that are close, but Mount Shasta seems to be in a class all its own.

Good Day to You, Sir

We Don't Need No Education

Seeing as how I teach for a living, I haven't really done a lot of blog posts regarding education. This is my first real post dealing with educational wonkism. The picture you see is one I took tonight of a poster that hangs on the wall at Chapman University in Roseville, which is a suburb of Sacramento. I have had to look at that infernal poster for three years now. I started my teacher credential program at Chapman in 2002, and now that I am working on my Masters Degree in Education, I have to look at that poster once again. If you cannot read the finer print, be sure to click on the photo and it will enlarge. As you can see, this poster spells out what Chapman University considers to be the attributes of an effective teacher. For those who are not familiar with educationese, many of these terms are buzzwords that make educationists slobber all over themselves with delight. Let us start with the very first attribute: Constructivist. There is this philosophy that permeates schools of education and that philosophy is Constructivism. According to constructivists, the teacher is supposed to step aside and let the kids discover - or construct - knowledge for themselves. You see? On the surface, doesn't that sound wonderful? What it means in real life is that a math teacher is not supposed to make kids memorize their times tables or teach them that a triangle is always 180 degrees; the students are supposed to "discover" that knowledge for themselves. According to the religion of constructivism, instead of being a "sage on the stage", teachers are supposed to become "guides on the side". Isn't that great? Instead of passing on thousands of years of wisdom that have been discovered by some of the most brilliant minds in world history, teachers are supposed to shut up and expect students to reinvent the wheel. What's funny is that when I was going through my credential program, and my constructivist-loving instructor told us that we weren't supposed to lecture; that we were supposed to let students discover the knowledge for themselves - how is it that my instructor let me know about this little nugget of information? That's right, in a lecture!
Let us move on to my next bone to pick: Mediator of Diversity. OK, what the hell is that anyway? How does one mediate diversity? The only translation I can think of is to separate the whites from the blacks from the hispanics from the Asians so they don't beat the tar out of one another. How's that for mediation? What an empty insipid statement. Only a bunch of pointy-headed college academics could have come up with that one. If you look underneath that Mediator heading, you will see a sub-heading called unity within differences. That reminds me of something Bill Clinton once said, and that was, "Our diversity is our strength". No, sorry Bill and sorry Chapman, our diversity is not our strength and our unity is not within our differences. Our unity is derived from our commonalities. Our commonalities are what makes us all Americans. The belief in the rule of law, the belief in hard work and individual effort, the belief that we are all created equal. There are some common beliefs that we all share, or at least, we all should share. The fact that we are a diverse people is fine, but what holds a country together is a shared set of values, culture, and language. For confirmation of my position on this matter, please visit eastern Canada, Serbia/Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, or any other country where people focus on their diversity instead of their commonalities.
Next, let's discuss that trait known as Change Agent. This is one of my favorites, because it is one of the most subversive. "Change" what? Unfortunately, I being a teacher and a reader of some great books outlining the history of our country's educational system, I can tell you what changes they are talking about. How about indoctrinating Kindergarteners about the homosexual lifestyle? How about the passing out of condoms to school children because after all, they are just animalistic beasts with no self control who are "going to do it anyway". How about the continued teaching of whole language instead of phonics in many of our country's schools? I could do a whole other post on whole language (which I probably will soon). This is the method of teaching children to read whereby instead of being taught the sounds of letters and combinations of letters, students are taught to guess a word's meaning based on its shape or context. California changed to Whole Language (WL) in 1987. Within five years, California's reading scores were tied with Mississippi's for last place in the country. California has since scrapped WL, but the upper grades who (supposedly) learned to read in the mid 1990s are still struggling. There's much more to this story, but like I said, it is a whole other post. This change agent crap goes all the way back to educator John Dewey in the 1890s and early 1900s. It was Dewey who led the way in changing our educational system from one that concentrated on teaching our kids cognitive (academic) skills, to one that concentrated on teaching our kids social skills, all in the name of switching the United States from a capitalistic, individualistic society, to a socialist, collectivist one. I would say that we are well on our way. Even today, with all the talk of academic standards and content, teacher candidates are being taught that students should learn these standards in social ways that I consider to be incompatible with quality teaching and learning, such as collaborative work whereby a group is given a grade instead of each individual student. I'm sure many are familiar with this concept. If you were the smart kid in the group, you ended up doing all the work, and the lazy kid in your group got the same grade you did. Constructivist teachers think that collaborative work is just the berries. If you look under the Facilitator heading on the poster, you will see that one of the sub-headings is collaborative. By the way, teachers are not supposed to be teachers anymore; they are supposed to be facilitators. This plays into that "guide on the side" garbage. The way I figure, if I am supposed to sit there and let the students do all this themselves and not corrupt them with my knowledge and influence:
1) Why did I go to college for four years and then another year to get a teaching credential?
2) Why does my school district pay me tens of thousands of dollars a year to sit there as a glorified cheerleader/babysitter as my charge "discover" their knowledge for themselves?

Just another day on the education battlefield.

Good Day to You, Sir.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

That was Money Well Spent

Behold! Your tax dollars at work. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in what I believe was an unprecedented move, handed out $2,000 in cash to over 600,ooo survivors of Hurricane Katrina who had been relocated from New Orleans. Many of these relocated survivors came from places like the 9th Ward of New Orleans - one of the poorest neighborhoods in Louisiana, if not the entire country. Many of the benighted residents of the 9th Ward spent their days sitting on their porch drinking booze purchased with welfare money. What in Sam Hill did the federal government think that these people would do with $2,000 just handed to them with no strings attached? Read this attached article and be amused and sickened at the same time as you are regaled with stories of liquor, strippers, and drunken trips to Wal-Mart. One of my conservative heroes, Neal Boortz, puts it best. He says that the reason the rich get richer and poor get poorer is that the rich keep doing the things that make them richer, and the poor keep doing the things that make them poorer. Sure enough, instead of spending this $2,000 wisely on necessities or saving it, many of these "poor" people went out and blew it on crap. And remember folks, this money came from YOU. The federal government thought it was more important for these people to buy booze and lap dances than it was for you to keep that money and save for your kids' college education or add an addition to your house, or to buy a new car, or save a little for a rainy day. Think about that every time you pay your taxes. Think about all those pork projects that Congresscritters guide toward their districts. All of that was purchased with YOUR money. It's enough to make a grown man cry. By the way, hat tip to the Boston Herald for the accompanying photo.

Good Day to You, Sir

Friday, October 14, 2005

Another Heaping Spoonful of God's Country

After I post my doom and gloom, you know that I always like to dilute it with a picture of some great scenery, with of course the picture taken by yours truly. In the background is the clear, blue, and beautiful Lake Tahoe. Right below that is the smaller but just as beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake. I am standing at the summit of Echo Peak, elevation 9,000+ feet. How hard was the climb up there? I puked on the way up; does that give you a clue? Just goes to show you what I am willing to endure to capture a great photo.

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Who Are We Fighting in Iraq?

Speaking of the Religion of Peace....

Here is another subject that came up the other day in class. One of my students asked me a question. She said, "Why are we still in Iraq when all these Iraqis are fighting our soldiers and trying to kill them? If the Iraqis don't want us there, why don't we just leave?"

That is a good question young lady. The thing is, I needed to correct her, because by and large, most Iraqis want us to stay, and it is not Iraqis who we are mostly fighting. The men we are fighting, such as these fine specimens in Fallujah pictured above, are predominately from Muslim countries other than Iraq, starting with the most wanted man of all in Iraq right now: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is the leader of the group called al-Qaeda in Iraq. Actually, I just recently heard that now they want to be called al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia... seriously. al-Zarqawi, the holy head chopper himself, is from Jordan. The men who fight for al-Zarqawi and bomb American soldiers and (Muslim) Iraqi citizens with equal fervor are mostly from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan, "Palestine", Chechnya, Afghanistan, Yemen, and every other Middle Eastern stinkhole you can think of. I'm not saying that there are no Iraqis fighting our troops; of course there are. But, by and large, the average Iraqi on the street recognizes what the U.S. is trying to accomplish, and they support our efforts. If you read some of the blogs and other accounts written by our troops themselves, instead of the doom and gloom of the U.S. media, you would find that more is going right over there than you realize. For some true and straight skinny, visit this blog by Michael Yon. He is an independent journalist who was embedded with an American unit for 8 months, and just recently returned to Iraq to do it again. His stories and photos are amazing. Even if things were going crappy for us, and yes sometimes it is, we cannot back out now. We are committed and we must finish what we started. This letter from al-Zawahiri to al-Zarqawi that was released to the media the other day, that describes Iraq as where the terrorists have chosen to fight the Americans, perfectly illustrates why we must stay and see this through.

My only complaint about the War in Iraq so far is that we haven't been fighting it hard enough. When our Marines are told to be careful where they shoot, lest a Mosque receive a few errant bullet holes - well, that's just a bunch of dog squeeze. Fight to win, or get the hell out. I thought we learned that lesson in Vietnam. I'll tell you another lesson we learned from Vietnam. After we cut and ran in 1973, Southeast Asia turned into a bloodbath in which possibly up to 3-5 million Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians were killed, and millions more were "reeducated" or permanently displaced, and our national psyche was scarred for the next 20 years. Only the success of the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991 exorcised the ghost of Vietnam from our national conscience. Of course, then two years later, we went back to our old ways when we cut and ran out of Somalia with our tail between our legs. It has been determined that our hasty departure from Somalia was not lost on the al Qaeda and the masterminds who cooked up September 11th and their current effort to make the world Muslim. George W. Bush needs to stop worrying about offending the Muslims and start doing what it takes to win. Most of the resistance in Iraq is happening in certain cities and in pockets of different cities. Places like Fallujah should have been reduced to grease spots a long time ago. Compassion does not impress these people who fight us, only overwhelming and violent force does that. Does our country still have the guts to make that happen? I'm not optimistic.

Good Day to You, Sir

Muslim Intolerance

In my 7th grade Social Studies class, we are currently learning about the history of Islam. That is always a touchy subject, especially when I have a Muslim student in 7th period who insisted to me and the rest of the class that Islam was never spread by the sword; it was only spread through trade and "sending gifts" to lands outside Arabia. I kid you not, that's what the student said. He is partly right, Islam did spread through interaction with other cultures that was precipitated by trade. But to deny the role of military conquest, occupation, and subjugation by Islamic armies is patently ridiculous. Then again, most claims by Muslims that I have heard lately are patently ridiculous. This kid is just learning the party line early on: "We are religion of peace. Islam never hurt anyone, we are just misunderstood." In my humble opinion, Islam is a cult. Don't worry, they are not the only cult out there, they are just the biggest. The way I figure, any religion that limits your contact with other people and their ideas is a cult. I feel the same way about some other "mainstream" religions such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, as they also limit their contact with "others". The town I grew up in had a disproportionately high number of Jehovah's Witnesses. When we would travel on the bus for band trips, the lone Jehovah's Witness student (a flute player), was not allowed to go on the trip, because there wouldn't be any other Jehovah's Witnesses on the bus. CULT ALERT!! If anyone is offended by this, then you need to worry less about what little old me thinks of you; you'll get over it. It's not like I want to have your religion banned or anything, or have to power to make it happen even if I wanted to. You go on practicing your religion as that is your 1st Amendment right, and I will go on thinking you are a frickin' lunatic as that is my 1st Amendment right. See? All better.

So how does Islam achieve cult status in my eyes? Allow me enlighten you: Last year, I had the aforementioned Muslim student for 6th grade Social Studies. In 6th grade, they learn about Judaism and Christianity. To illustrate the point that the Jewish Torah and the Christian Bible share the same space, and to illustrate that the religions are very similar, I have the students summarize for me the basic subjects of the first five books of the Bible (which is also the Torah - see the connection?). Aforementioned Muslim student told me that his parents wouldn't let him do the assignment because he wasn't allowed to touch a Bible. Not just read mind you, but TOUCH a Bible. Whoa! I am floored by all the open-mindedness and tolerance of the Religion of Peace (Sarcasm Alert!). We have read some passages from the Qur'an so far this year, and I have yet to have a Christian student - or any other student for that matter - tell me that their parents won't let them read (or touch) a Qur'an.

All this love and tolerance is not confined to the Religion of Peace. Last year when we were studying the origins of Christianity, a girl of Vietnamese heritage (and a Buddhist), walked up to me at the beginning of class and handed me a letter from her mother. She looked rather embarassed as she handed it to me. To paraphrase, the letter from Mom said, "I understand you are teaching Christianity in class. I thought we had separation of church and state in this country? I thought you are not allowed to teach Christianity in schools?" Sigh.... First of all, don't even get me started on the whole church and state business. Read the First Amendment and point out to me where it says the words, "separation of church and state". If you can find it, I will pay you $1,000,000,000,000,000. Back to anti-Christian bigot Mom, I turned the letter over and wrote this (I'm paraphrasing again), "Yes it is true, I am teaching about Christianity right now. So far this year, we have also learned about the religious customs of early man such as Neanderthals, the pagan polytheistic religions of the Mesopotamians and Egyptians, Hinduism, BUDDHISM, Confucianism, and Judaism. Now, in accordance with the chronological method of studying history, we have now arrived at Christianity - one of many religions we have learned about this year. Next year, the students will learn about Islam too, you close-minded, intolerant, ignorant buffoon." OK, so I didn't say that last part... but I wanted to.

Good Day to You, Sir

Friday, October 07, 2005

How Prop 74 Affects Me (and my family)

I have spoken about Prop 75, now it is time to talk about the other proposition that affects me greatly: Prop 74. This one would increase the probationary period for teachers before they can get tenure, from two years to five years. I am now in my second year of probationary period and I am on track to receive tenure at the beginning of the next school year. But if Prop 74 passes, my tenure would be pushed back another three years. I am affected by this because it would apply to any teacher who began his/her probationary period during or after the 2003/2004 school year. I began my period at the beginning of the 2004/2005 school year. This in itself is a bunch of dog squeeze. Isn't that an ex post facto law? Besides that, I got my job with the agreement that my probationary period would be two years. How can they not only just change the rules in the middle of the game like this, but go back and change them retroactively?

In my frustration, I wrote a letter to one of our local conservative talk radio hosts, Eric Hogue. He supports Prop 74, most likely because his hero, Arnold the Governator does. My emailed letter to Mr. Hogue, who I happen to agree with on almost every other topic but this one, is reprinted below:

Dear Eric,
I am a local middle school teacher, and I am also a God-fearing, right-wing-and-proud-of-it conservative. I am now in my second year of teaching. Before that, I spent 12 years in the active Army and working full time for the California National Guard. I had always wanted to be a teacher, so with the encouragement of my wife, who is also a teacher, I went to school at night using the GI Bill, and got my B.A., my teaching credential, and I am currently working on a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

Since I am in my second year of teaching, under the current rules, I am up for tenure at the end of this school year. If Prop 74 passes, I won’t be up for tenure until the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. I don’t know if anyone has told you, but not every teacher is a left-wing lunatic (just most of them are). I am as conservative as they come, and I was looking so forward to getting tenure next year so I would no longer have to worry about not having my contract renewed because I might say something politically “offensive” that would ruffle the feathers of the very P.C. administration and staff. I am teaching 7th grade world history this year, and we are currently studying Islam. Do you know how hard it is to teach that subject while feeling compelled to mouth all the politically correct platitudes about the “religion of peace” and leave out the juicier (but absolutely true) information about exactly how Islam spread and how Islam is being practiced today? It is damn hard. Right now, I can have my contract not renewed for any reason, and for a conservative teacher, it wouldn’t take much. I have been watching what I say, and it isn’t easy since almost every period I teach has at least one Muslim student who seems to be just waiting for something negative to be said about his religion.

I love your program and your politics, but it is tough for me to listen to you on my way to work in the morning as you push for Prop 74 to be passed, never realizing that it contributes toward shutting up teachers like me who want to give students both sides of the story, but are afraid of doing so due to the fear of being fired. And Prop 74 doesn’t stop there. If an administrator doing my evaluation didn’t like what I had to say during my lessons, just give me two bad evaluations and I am out of there without the opportunity to defend myself. I read Prop 74 tonight, word for word, and I don’t see anything in the amended parts that gives me the right to a hearing if an administrator gives me two negative evaluations.

I know there are horror stories of truly incompetent teachers who were difficult to fire. An argument in favor of Prop 74 in the write-up by the A.G.’s office mentions a teacher who was paid $25,000 to quit because they couldn’t fire her even after she cussed at students, called them derogatory names, and showed them R-rated movies.

By all means, fire these teachers! Set up the proper mechanism to get rid of them! But please, don’t set up another mechanism to punish me in the process.

Please Eric, even if this letter doesn’t change your mind about your support for Prop 74, at least share with your listeners this dilemma that I am experiencing. It is a scenario that I have a feeling not too many people have considered. One more thing though: I am fully in favor of Proposition 75! Don’t let my coerced CTA dues be used to support their left-wing agenda.

Thank you,

Good Day to You, Sir

California's Mount Fuji

I wish I could take credit for this lovely picture of Mount Shasta, but alas, I cannot. This was on the homepage of today's issue of the Siskiyou Daily News out of Yreka, California. The bad part is that you cannot enlarge this picture by clicking on it. You will just have to enjoy it as is. The good news is that I have plenty of pictures of Mount Shasta in closeup that you can enlarge. I will make sure to do that soon.

I attended college near the slopes of that mountain for three years, and during that entire time, I never ever got tired of just standing there and looking at it.

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, October 06, 2005

What is the Definition of Irony?

Why, I will tell you:
In the upcoming special election here in California, one of the propositions on the ballot is Prop 75, which, if passed, would require unions to obtain permission from its members to use their dues for political purposes. Here is the good part: The California Teachers Association is charging each of its members $60 in order to build up the funds needed to fight Prop 75 and the other initiatives on the ballot. I am a member of the CTA, and I don't want $60 forcibly taken out of my paycheck, because I happen to support Prop 75. Well guess what? The $60 gets taken anyway. Isn't this EXACTLY why people want Prop 75 passed in the first place? So you might tell me to just leave the CTA. To that I say, I can't. Actually, I can, but - and it is a big but - even if I was no longer a member of the CTA, I would still have to pay dues to them because they hold a monopoly on contract negotiations in this state. Since I benefit from any contract negotiations, I must pay dues to the CTA whether or not I am a member. There is a convoluted and drawn out process whereby you can arrange to have the CTA send you a refund of any dues that you pay that would have been spent for political purposes, but why should I have to worry about all that in the first place? Just don't spend my money on your stupid left-wing causes in the first place.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propogation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical." The CTA and these other unions - usually public employee unions who shouldn't be allowed to unionize in the first place - should heed Jefferson's learned words.

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Why Not Another Helping of God's Country?

In the northern part of California's Central Valley, about halfway between Sacramento and Redding is this island in a sea of flat farm fields. Sutter Buttes is often called the smallest mountain range in the world. If you look it up on a map, you will see that it's a pretty accurate description. I have always been fascinated by Sutter Buttes, and I every time I drive north from Sacramento, there they are off of I5 in the distance. I recently read something interesting about its history. Before the white man came and leveed the Sacramento River and drained the Valley to make way for farm fields, the Central Valley would flood every winter. The Indians who lived in the Valley would evacuate to the Buttes as they were the only high ground for miles around. In March of this year, the fetching Mrs. Chanman and my infant son went for a little day trip to Sutter Buttes to check them out. The funny thing about Sutter Buttes is that they are all privately owned. Only a few months ago did California get a chance to buy a part of the land so it can be turned into a state park, and the landowners within the Buttes are fighting the sale tooth and nail. The saving grace is that there is a public highway that cuts right through the middle of the Buttes. It was along this highway that I took the photo on the bottom. So the hill you see in that photo is just one small part of the entire range. Once we exited the Buttes, I took the long shot from the highway that circumvents the Buttes. That of course would be the photo on the top. There is a golf course within Sutter Buttes that I would love to play. If that catches your interest, here is the course's website.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, October 03, 2005

Something to Cheer You Up!

After the depressing news of the previous post, I thought another personal snapshot of God's Country was in order.

This picture was taken no more than a mile from the real Buckhorn Road.

Good Day to You, Sir.

George W. Bush's Betrayal

We now move from the war in Iraq to the war in the Republican Party. When George W. Bush was running for office in 2000 and 2004, both times he assured the party faithful that if given the chance to appoint anyone to the Supreme Court, he would appoint only "strict constructionists" who would interpret our laws according to the Constitution, as opposed to these seditious loonies like Ruth Bader Ginsburg (former head counsel for the ACLU by the way), who has done her utmost to blow the Constitution to smithereens. Looking at President Bush's two recent choices for the Supreme Court, I can't help but think that he has pulled a fast one on the people who voted for him. The Republican Party has always done a great job of pissing me off, because never have I seen a group of people who have done a better job of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The establishment Republicans - especially in the Senate - are a bunch of spineless jellyfish who are way too worried about making sure they play by the political equivalent of Marquis of Queensbury rules, while their Democrat counterparts bite, kick, and stomp on their noggins. The Republicans are always so afraid of putting up a fight. Remember the "filibusters" that the Republicans carried out on behalf of the Circuit court picks last year, or two years ago? What a joke that was. When the Democrats threaten a filibuster, why won't the Republicans make them do a real filibuster where one guy stands up there and talks for 30 hours straight as he reads recipies from a cookbook. Senators used to get away with that stuff, but with C-Span around now, what would the American people think about the Democrats paralyzing the Senate because they don't like the politics of a Supreme Court or Circuit Court nominee, no matter how qualified they are? What has really frustrated me both during my lifetime and reading about the events before my birth are the picks for the Supreme Court that have been made by Republican presidents. What do Earl Warren, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter all have in common? I'm sad to say, they were all picked by Republican presidents, and they all proved to be either out and out liberal, or center-left. Every once in a while, a gem scoots through, such as William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas; but for every Clarence Thomas, that made it, there is a Robert Bork who didn't.

When President Bush chose John Roberts, I was (and still am) a little nervous. He has somewhat solid conservative credentials, and he appears to be a very intelligent man, but he is still quite a question mark on any number of issues. I did like when during his hearing, he had some good things to say about not believing in taking international law into account when considering Constitutional questions. I wish someone had told this to Sandra Day O'Connor and Stephen Breyer, who have both advocated seeing how the rest of the world handles an issue and then applying that to the decision in a Supreme Court case. Now we have Harriet Miers being nominated by President Bush to take the spot vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor, who was one of President Reagan's few mistakes. It doesn't bother me that Miers has never been a judge - some of our best Supreme Court judges had no previous judicial experience. What does bother me is that we have no idea what this woman stands for. One thing we do know: In 1987, she gave $1,000 to the Presidential campaign of that nutball Al Gore and his running mate, Lloyd Bentsen. She also has some past positions that I'm not too thrilled about. What really scares me about Harriet Miers is not so much who opposes her, like many conservatives do and will, but who supports her. When you have Democrat opinions running the gamut of supportive enthusiasm, as in the case of House minority leader Harry Reid (D-NV), to the careful optimism of Senator Charles Schumer (D-Stalingrad), then we have a serious problem. Anything those so-called men support, I certainly do not.

So what is the bottom line? I believe that once again, the Republicans, led by President Bush, have blown it. They own the presidency, the House, and the Senate, and they still can't get their agenda through, or what they claim is their agenda. George W. Bush could have put two more justices on the Supreme Court who were of the same vein as Justices Scalia and Thomas. Instead he took the easy way out, and what we have most likely been given are two David Souter clones. Please God, let me be proven wrong, but I have to concede that I will most likely be proven right.

Good Day to You, Sir