Thursday, January 31, 2008

Son of Cain acts like a son of a...

I don't know how many people know this, but the Mc in all those Scottish/Irish names, like McDonald and McLeod means Son of. I think it is totally fitting then that McCain means Son of Cain, because that seems to be more and more like what the Republican frontrunner strikes me as being.

I made the mistake of watching my very first presidential debate last night. It was essentially a two-man show as Son of Cain and Romney went at each other, with Mike Huckabee whining all night about his lack of airtime, and Ron Paul talking over most commoners' heads about monetary policy. I'm not saying Paul's analysis about monetary policy was wrong, but his approach is unfortunately not made for the soundbite style of a televised debate.

My biggest impression of the debate was seeing for the first time what a smarmy, smug asshole Son of Cain can be. His fecal-eating grins and shakes of the head as Romney spoke reminded me of the infantile huffing and puffing that Al Gore engaged in during his debates with George W. Bush eight years ago. I have no great love for that slick used-car salesmanesque Romney either, but Son of Cain was simply deplorable. I have come to the conclusion that if someone put a gun to my head and made me choose between Son of Cain or Mitt Romney, I would choose Romney.

I read a great post tonight from a blog called Polipundit, in which Son of Cain's non-conservative bonafides were listed in a most informative and succinct way. Polipundit lays out why I could never vote for Son of Cain, no matter which Democrat runs against him:
1. They say God put Republicans on earth to cut taxes. But John McCain was one of only two Republicans to vote against the Bush tax cuts.

2. McCain was the biggest supporter, and co-sponsor, of McCain-Feingold, the greatest assault on free speech in at least three decades.

3. McCain backs all kinds of anti-gun legislation.

4. McCain attempted to give terrorists at Gitmo various “rights.”

5. McCain supports various intrusive government regulations to stop “global warming.”

6. McCain insulted various Christian leaders during the 2000 campaign.

7. McCain called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth “dishonest and dishonorable” because they dared question what John Kerry had done in Vietnam.

8. McCain championed, sponsored, and repeatedly attempted to ram through a bill to amnesty 20 million illegal aliens, and import tens of millions of poor, low-skilled, under-educated, non-English-speaking Third Worlders.

If Mitt Romney is a “full-spectrum conservative,” McCain is a full-spectrum anti-conservative.

If McCain is selected as the Republican party’s nominee, I will not be able to vote for him, any more than I could vote for Hillary Clinton. I will leave my vote blank at the top of the ticket, or find a third party candidate to support.
Of the items on that list, #2 and #8 concern me the most. I have talked about both of those positions of his in the past, and I have more to say about Son of Cain's support of amnesty for illegal aliens. I found the following video on YouTube that gives a great soundbite rundown of the views of Juan Hernandez, the "Hispanic Outreach Director" for Son of Cain's campaign. Son of Cain says he has listened to the American people who rejected his Shamnesty bill and has strengthened his resolve to "secure the border". Oh really? Let's hear what Dr. Juan has to say about that "border":

As I watch this guy speak, I think of the famous quote that says, "When fascism comes... it will come with a smile on its face."

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Think you have it bad?

The Washington Post has been doing a multi-part series on the state of the schools in the District of Columbia - you may have to register with WaPo in order to access the online articles. So, regarding the situation in the D.C. schools: What a frickin' train wreck, is all I have to say. One of the most interesting parts of the online articles is the interactive gallery where you can read and listen to the thoughts of eight different teachers who work in the district. Here is just a little bit of what one teacher - Harold Cox - thinks:
You have to start off so the students know what the consequences are when they act out, and you have to involve the parents in those consequences. A lot of teachers threaten to call the parents or only call the parents if it's gotten completely out of hand. I don't hesitate. In fact, I don't look for a reason. I lean on the parents' authority. I've collected parent email addresses and made myself a database. Almost everyday, somebody is getting an email.

Some parents don't believe their children lie. If they are sleeping, I take pictures of them sleeping in class. It takes the whole ‘do I believe the teacher or my child?' out of the equation.

I think it would be good to have parents come and spend at least a half-day each month in school. Even the worst student would act differently if their parent were sitting in the class with them or walking the halls...

...I don't have any joy [teaching] anymore. It has become not a labor of love anymore, just labor.
Imagine the soul-smashing behavior and apathy that can bring a teacher to this point. I know I complain about my school sometimes, but I would bet a teacher in some of those D.C. schools would look at my worst students as comparative angels.

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Manners are not his strong suit

Every once in a while, in order to show how open-minded and tolerant they are, some state legislature will have their traditional opening prayer delivered by a non-Protestant or a non-Christian. This can lead to some interesting happenings when a Muslim is asked to give a prayer.

In Iowa the other day, the state legislature invited one Imam Muhammad Khan of the Islamic Center of Des Moines. The money quote from the good Imam's prayer was when he asked for victory over "those who disbelieve". The last time I checked, that would be anyone who is not Muslim.

Don't you love tolerance and multiculturalism?

Good Day to You, Sir

Leftist revisionism coming to a theater near you

Have you ever heard of a book called A People's History of the United States by former Boston College professor Howard Zinn? The book is a favorite of leftists everywhere because its narrative of the history of our country is one of racism, subjugation, genocide, and imperialism. While I don't deny that some of these things took place, Zinn essentially ignores anything good this country has ever done - and the list is distinguished - and makes us the focus of evil in the modern world. When the facts don't fit his narrative, he simply makes stuff up to fill in the holes.

Actor Matt Damon grew up with Howard Zinn as his next-door neighbor. Damon is an ultra-leftist in his own right, and is planning to make a film out of Zinn's magnum opus, with a who's-who of Hollywood leftdom serving as readers. I have no doubt that if this film is made, it will be as popular in America's classrooms as An Inconvenient Truth is now.

For more about what a crock of steaming pile A People's History of the United States really is, do yourself a favor and read this article by Dan Flynn, where he takes you into the mind of Howard Zinn, complete with his white guilt and hatred of the country that has purchased over a million copies of his book since its release in 1980.

Just some of many points that Flynn makes in his article include:
...Zinn sarcastically adds, “When we look at the American Revolution this way, it was a work of genius, and the Founding Fathers deserve the awed tribute they have received over the centuries. They created the most effective system of national control devised in modern times, and showed future generations of leaders the advantages of combining paternalism with command.” Rather than the spark that lit the fire of freedom and self-government throughout much of the world, the American Founding is portrayed as a diabolically creative way to ensure oppression. If the Founders wanted a society they could direct, why didn’t they put forth a dictatorship or a monarchy resembling most other governments at the time? Why go through the trouble of devising a constitution guaranteeing rights, mass political participation, jury trials, and checks on power? Zinn doesn’t explain, contending that these freedoms and rights were merely a facade designed to prevent class revolution...

More striking than Zinn’s inaccuracies—intentional and otherwise—is what he leaves out. 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....
If you want a real history of our country, buy the book I am currently reading: A Patriot's History of the United States. It pulls no punches, it mentions the bad things our country has done, but it also has no problem pointing out the good we have done in the world. In other words, it's fair and objective... imagine that.

Good Day to You, Sir

When the Left eat their own

Author and columnist Alexander Cockburn, who is practically a Stalinist, is none too happy about the treatment he has received from his fellow leftists when he had the gall to question the veracity of global warming.

The Church of Global Warming is starting to look more and more like the Cult of Global Warming.

Good Day to You, Sir

Teacher abused by students, then the LAUSD

Here's what the Writers Guild strike can get you. A screenwriter begins substitute teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District. At a gang-infested middle school (middle school - natch), she is body-slammed by several students and suffers serious long-term injuries. Guess who is stonewalling her in her effort to be reimbursed for her injuries?

Read the rest right here.

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Another "lie" about John McCain

In my most recent post, I told you about an article written by radio talker Michael Medved, in which he defended John McCain's positions and branded any opposing views as "lies". I only took Medved to task on his defense of the atrocious free-speech-hating law known as the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform. However, in light of information that came to light yesterday, I have to call out Medved on another of his "lies" from the article, and that would be:
LIE #5: McCain is an advocate of “amnesty” and “open borders.”

TRUTH: As Senior Senator from Arizona, McCain has fought for years to tighten border security, stop illegal immigration, increase workplace enforcement and to resist “amnesty” for those who entered the country without authorization. McCain’s rival for the nomination, Mitt Romney, unequivocally and rightly acknowledged that his opponent’s position in no way amounts to “amnesty” or “open borders.” In the Fox News debate in South Carolina on January 10, Governor Romney declared: “All of us on this stage agree… that we secure the border, we have the fence, and we have enough Border Patrol agents to secure the border; and that we have an employment verification system of some kind….We all agree that anybody who’s committed a crime should be sent home.”

As Romney pointed then out: “The place of difference between us is what we do with the 12 million people who are here illegally.” Romney’s answer? “Those who are here illegally today would be looked at person by person, given a specific time period by which they arrange their affairs, they stay here during that time period. When that time period is over, they go home…”

Alone among Presidential candidates, McCain has shown the courage to stand up against such simplistic sloganeering. No President will ever succeed in driving out all 12 million illegals – the greatest forced migration in all human history. Illegals represent more than 5% of America’s work force and the cost of firing and, ultimately, deporting for forcing out every one of those people would cripple the economy far worse than any recession. The immigration bills McCain supported (along with President Bush and the Senate Republican leadership of Mitch McConnell, Trent Lott and John Kyl) never granted “amnesty” or automatic citizenship for undocumented aliens. Instead, McCain’s idea of immigration reform always emphasized “earned legalization” and assimilation– not automatic privileges – in an effort to separate the immigrants who wanted to begin playing by the rules and to enter the American mainstream, from those who continued to defy those rules and have no long-term stake in the country. It’s not amnesty to charge $6,000 in fines and payment of back taxes, to require background checks and mastery of English, and to demand registry with the government and acknowledgment of wrong-doing before an immigrant received legal status. Before an illegal could become a citizen, the process required at least nine years (and in most cases fourteen) of cooperation, commitment and patience. Moreover, two crucial elements of last year’s immigration bill received almost no attention: under the bill any immigrant who attempted to enter America illegally after the passage of immigration reform would be apprehended, identified, finger-printed and biometrically recorded, and forever banned from receiving legal status to work or live in the United States. Second, the unfinished (and ultimately unsuccessful) compromise bill included a “trigger provision”: no illegal immigrant would receive legal status until after Congress certified that the border had been effectively secured. McCain emphasizes this provision in his current proposals: insisting we secure the border first, before we make arrangements for future guest workers and give a chance to some (but by no means all) current illegal residents to earn legal status in the U.S.
I know that's a lot of wordiness on Medved's part, but I don't like to partially quote people. Medved's defense of McCain on immigration issues is simply laughable, because all you have to do is look at McCain's prior words and actions. McCain was quoted complaining about the "goddamn fence" when he was asked whether or not he supported the building of a proper fence on the U.S./Mexico border, and just the fact that McCain's primary co-sponsor on last summer's Shamnesty bill was none other than Mr. 1965-Immigration-Act-phony, Teddy Kennedy, is about all you need to know about McCain's position on immigration - illegal or otherwise.

Now, McCain has really outdone himself. Yesterday, Michelle Malkin broke a story about who John McCain has hired as his "Hispanic Outreach Director". The man's name is Juan Hernandez, and Mrs. Malkin has tussled with this guy before when she guest-hosted the O'Reilly Factor. Mr. Hernandez holds a dual American/Mexican citizenship, and actually served in the administration of former Mexican president, Vicente Fox. Mr. Hernandez looks at the United States and Mexico, not as two different countries, but simply as a "region". He has also admonished Americans of Mexican descent, no matter how many generations removed, to always "put Mexico first". Naturally, Mr. Hernandez is all in favor of amnesty, open borders, the whole shebang. Watch him state some of his open-borders views as he verbally jousts with Michelle Malkin:

So this is the man that John McCain has hired to "reach out" to Hispanics. Through his actions, John McCain shows us what he actually believes. Please pay more attention to what he does rather than what he says.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Michael Medved has lost his mind

I have always enjoyed listening to conservative (or is he?) radio talk-show host Michael Medved. While I have never seen eye-to-eye with him on everything, I have always appreciated his thoughtful and eloquent debating style, and yes, on most issues, I agree with him.

Lately though, Medved has appeared to be drinking the establishment-Republican Kool-Aid, even in the face of total irrationality. Medved began losing me last summer when he was sticking up for the Shamnesty bill that was being pushed by both Democrats and Republicans, including our dim-bulb President. Luckily, the American people jammed the switchboards, emails, and mailboxes of our illustrious politicians, and the Shamnesty bill went down to defeat.

Now, Michael Medved's blind defense of that turncoat John McCain has me shaking my head in disgust. Medved proves just how blind he has become with a column he released today entitled Six Big Lies About John McCain. I am not here to affirm or attack all six points that Medved makes - no, I only need to address one, and that would be:
LIE #6: McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform represents a devastating assault on free speech.

TRUTH: McCain-Feingold was a piece of useless, misguided legislation but it’s done no serious damage to the country, the constitution or the conservative pro-life cause. After nearly seven years on the books, robust and impassioned discussion of political issues and candidates is more vibrant and free-wheeling than ever. The pro-life movement (with McCain’s enthusiastic support) has made substantial progress in the last seven years, changing minds and hearts and driving abortion rates to their lowest point in 29 years—unimpeded by McCain-Feingold. More people are involved in donating to candidates and causes than before the legislation, and there’s been an increase in the broadcast of campaign ads and distribution of political materials, not a reduction. Does any American – particularly those in key primary states – honestly believe we now have a shortage of political ads on TV? Those who say that McCain-Feingold took away free speech make no more sense than leftists who claim that the Patriot Act destroyed civil liberties or crushed dissent: their arguments remain utterly disconnected from the real world experience of every American. Hard-hitting, free wheeling debate is alive and well in the land of the free. McCain favored counterweights to lobbyist influence and the corrupting impact of money in politics because he saw that commercial involvement as a powerful force toward corporate welfare and government expansion—betraying the small government ideals he has always embraced.
So, apparently the standard is no longer one of unconstitutionality, but one of damage control. Incredibly, Medved concedes that McCain screwed the pooch and pushed through a stinking heap of a law that attacks free speech. He simply argues that it's just not that bad; not bad enough about which to worry your pretty little head about it. Well thank God for small miracles! Unfortunately, whether or not the law causes any damage is not the point. The First Amendment is very simple: Congress shall make no law prohibiting free speech. What is McCain-Feingold? It is a law, passed by Congress, which prohibits free speech. How does it prohibit free speech? It dictates that certain groups cannot run certain kinds of political ads within a set time limit before an election. It's called precedent Mr. Medved. You, with your law degree from Yale, certainly have to know what precedent is. If McCain-Feingold can be passed, that simply emboldens Congress to turn the screws a little tighter and try to pass another free-speech-inhibiting law that might not be so harmless. Of course, I don't think McCain-Feingold is as harmless as Medved makes it out to be. While all politicians might be safe from attack ads during the last few weeks before the election, the law does not apply to mainstream media, who are well known to pick and choose their favorite candidates and help them accordingly with positive news coverage, while at the same time, denigrating the candidates they hate with negative news coverage.

And let us not forget the case of two Seattle-area radio talk show hosts who were actually sued by local government for their efforts in opposing a 9.5% hike in a municipal gas tax. The rationale was that the radio segments where the hosts talked about opposing the gas tax were an "in-kind campaign contribution." The radio hosts won the case, but not before it went all the way to the Washington state Supreme Court, and the radio station and its owners undoubtedly spent untold thousands of dollars defending their position. The punishment is in the process.

That is just a taste of what McCain-Feingold's "Campaign Finance Reform" can do to free speech in this country, and that is why Michael Medved is dead wrong when he defends the indefensible. If you want a much more truthful assessment of the problems with John McCain, I urge you to read Ann Coulter's latest column, which just came out today. She pulls no punches, and she always gets to the point.

Good Day to You, Sir

This week's Carnival of Education

It's up and running at The Median Sib. Strike while the iron is hot, and take note that my post about my "Green" teaching colleague has been included for the world's reading pleasure!

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Textbook trickery

WorldNetDaily recently ran an article about a parent in the Sacramento area who took umbrage with a history textbook that is being used in the local area, and throughout California. The parent's complaints concern the way Islam is presented in the 7th grade edition of the History Alive! textbook, which is published by the Teachers' Curriculum Institute, also known as TCI.

This article quickly grabbed my attention because
a) I teach 7th grade world history, which includes the unit on Islam, and
b) I teach with a History Alive! textbook, albeit the U.S. History edition with my 8th graders. My 7th graders use a text from Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.

WorldNetDaily quotes the parent thus:
I was disturbed probably the greatest portion of this book is about Islam. It goes into the doctrine of Islam in detail," she said. "There are 35 chapters. Out of those, I counted at least seven [that focus] on Islam..."

"I am very troubled that in the name of tolerance and educating American children about the Muslim empire in history they get away with giving beginning Islamic teaching which may cause many to perhaps one day become Muslims...."
Although I don't use this 7th grade History Alive! book in the classroom, I do happen to possess a copy of it. We went through textbook adoption last year, and the different publishing companies often sent us teachers samples of their textbooks and supporting materials. TCI sent me the 7th grade textbook and the interactive student notebook that complements the text. After flipping through the chapter pages on Islam, I verified the passages quoted in the WorldNetDaily article and found other quotes and passages that I find rather disturbing. First and foremost, I share the parent's concern over the whitewashing engaged in by TCI in defining and describing Jihad.

In Chapter 9.9, Jihad is simply defined as "to strive." They then go further:
Jihad represents the human struggle to overcome difficulties and do things that would be pleasing to God. Muslims strive to respond positively to personal difficulties as well as worldly challenges. For instance, they might work to become better people, reform society, or correct injustice.
Whoa! Do you honestly believe that this would be the same definition that you would receive from the terrorist group known as Islamic Jihad? Their idea of "responding positively to personal difficulties", "reforming society", and "correcting injustice" is to blow up women and children and slash innocents' throats just to put the fear of Allah into people. How about the bombings and killings that Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were "striving" to commit, and whose exploits have been immortalized in the Muslim world? How about the current jihads in Thailand and the Philippines, where Muslims are killing people left and right in an attempt to establish sharia law in those countries? I saw no mention of or allusion to those situations in this textbook; just a total whitewash of any modern day excesses or concerns about the state of jihad around the world.

Almost the entire Chapter 9 is dedicated to just describing the five pillars of Islam, with each pillar being given its own sub-chapter. Had I written the book, I could have easily fit descriptions of all five pillars into one sub--chapter. Having a sub-chapter for each pillar heavily reeks of overkill.

I also take issue with the apologetic way in which the chapters on Islam are written. One example that caught my eye is found in Chapter 8.8, which describes the Umayyad Dynasty. For those of you who don't know Muslim history very well, it was the Umayyads who spread Islam through the sword across North Africa, into Spain, and then into France, all within less than 100 years after the death of Muhammad. That's right, you cursors of the Crusades, the Muslims invaded western Europe three hundred years before any crusading European set foot in the Holy Land. Here is the quote from the book:
In 711, Muslim armies began their conquests of present-day Spain. However, at the Battle of Tours in 732, enemy forces under the Frankish king Charles Martel turned the Muslims back in west-central France. This battle marked the extent of Muslim advances into Europe.
It's the little words that matter. Notice how the narrative was turned around so that the invading Muslims are simply "Muslim armies", while the Franks - who were defending their land - were the enemy forces? And I don't see the word "invasion" or "conversion" anywhere in that passage. Instead, the Muslims "began their conquest" of Spain, and even better, going into Spain and France were Muslim "advances" into Europe. Anything to take the sting out of the fact that these Muslim armies were in Europe to convert Europeans to Islam, or make them submit to Islam in dhimmitude.

Which brings me to my final example - and its a whopper - of the obfuscations presented as facts in these Chapters on Islam within the History Alive! textbook. Going back to Chapter 9.9 (which describes Jihad), you find this tongue-clucker:
Early Muslims considered their efforts to protect their territory and extend their rule over other regions to be a form of jihad. However, the Qur'an forbade Muslims to force others to convert to Islam. So, non-Muslims who came under Muslim rule were allowed to continue practicing their faiths
Huh? Here is what Muhammad himself had to say about what to do with "disbelievers":
When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. Then invite them to migrate from their lands to the land of Muhairs and inform them that, if they do so, they shall have all the privileges and obligations of the Muhajirs. If they refuse to migrate, tell them that they will have the status of Bedouin Muilims and will be subjected to the Commands of Allah like other Muslims, but they will not get any share from the spoils of war or Fai' except when they actually fight with the Muslims (against the disbelievers). If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya (a tax). If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them.
To sum that up, you either convert to Islam, or pay a heavy tax and live a humiliating and submissive life as a substandard non-Muslim (dhimmitude), or you die.

I do part ways with one aspect of the complaining parent's argument from the WorldNetDaily article:
"The upsetting part is not only do they go into the history (which would be acceptable) but also the teaching of Islam," she said. "This book does not really go into Christianity or the teachings of Christ, nor does it address religious doctrine elsewhere to the degree it does Islam."
There is a reason for that. According to the California state standards for social science, the origins and beliefs of Islam are to be covered in the 7th grade year. Within those same standards, the origins and beliefs of both Christianity and Judaism are to be covered during the 6th grade. In middle and high school, California state social science standards cover history in a chronological fashion. Islam is covered a year later than Christianity and Judaism because Islam is the most recent religion of the three. I have attempted to get my hands on a 6th grade edition of a History Alive! textbook to see what they say about Christianity and Judaism, but so far, I have been unsuccessful in finding one. TCI's History Alive! website didn't give me anything to work with either.

I do have a rather cynical piece of good news out of all this worry about what the History Alive! textbooks do or do not say about the religion of Islam. If the typical 7th grade student is anything like the 7th graders I teach, you won't have to worry about most students cracking this book anyway. I usually can't get many of my students to read a single page out of their textbooks. Instead, they rely more on my lessons and lectures, where I can set the record straight.

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Illuminating fascism

Sometimes I am amazed by news stories that basically go in one ear of the American people and right out the other, when they should be marching in the streets with furious anger.

Are you aware that President Bush recently signed a law approved by Congress that will phase out the incandescent light bulb - you know, the one Edison gave us that we all use today? - by the year 2014, which is just 6 short years away. Naturally, it always comes back to global warming, because the bulb ban is being touted as a way to keep 100 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the air every year. Of course, compared to the CO2 emissions of volcanos and cow farts, 100 million tons pales in comparison.

So what is to take the place of our current light bulbs? Try those buzzing, flickering, annoying flourescent light bulbs that give me a massive headache. The flourescent bulbs that are filled with mercury and are not even supposed to be thrown away in the regular garbage on trash day.

Now, you can argue with me about the merits of the two bulbs, and whether the energy savings makes the law worth it, but here's the problem: please point out to me that part of the Constitution which grants Congress and the President the power to tell me what kind of light bulb I can use. I'd love to hear it.

Once again, our federal government has way overstepped its bounds, and applied an unconstitutional one-size-fits-all law to the American people which is unnecessary to begin with. When a better bulb comes along, I will be the first to switch over, but how dare our government dictate to me what kind of frickin' light bulb I'm going to use.

It is easy to wave this off as a trivial matter - it's not. It is a classic case of the camel getting his nose under the tent. The government keeps seeing what it can get away with, and when they find that no one protests about light bulbs, then they move on to the next life-controlling law.
Always remember ladies and gentlemen: every law passed by our government represents one more freedom that has been taken away from us. When is enough going to be enough?

I'll tell you one thing: for the next few years, I shall be stocking up and hoarding incandescent light bulbs. Start buying them now, because the price will be going up as other people figure out that these nitwits in Washington are actually serious.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Teaching indoctrination

On my first day back from the Christmas break, one of our Language Arts teachers walked up to me near the teachers lounge and told me she was going around and asking all the teachers she could find if they could make themselves available to her students as interviewees if needed.

"Sure", I said, "What for?" The teacher told me she was doing a six to eight-week (!) project on the environment - DANGER! DANGER! She started listing off all the things she was going to do with her students, while all the time, I was wondering why she, a Language Arts teacher, was doing this instead of a Science teacher. Then she said it: "I'm also going to show two films: An Inconvenient Truth, and Who Killed the Electric Car!" I had to practically put my hand under my jaw to keep it from dropping open. Who was this woman? Did they find her in a cliche' factory? I couldn't keep my trap shut; I said, "Well, then definitely send your students my way, I have plenty to say on this subject."

"Really?", she said, "Are you green too?" Yes, she actually asked me that. I replied, "Sure I am; who isn't? However, I think that Al Gore film is full of crap." You should have seen the look on her face. You would have thought I had just told a Muslim that Muhammad was a murdering scumbag.

She quickly composed herself, and said that she would loooove for her students to come to me for a different opinion. That is all well and good lady, but what would have happened if you had never spoken to me in the first place? You would have gone full speed ahead with your one-sided presentation and never known that a different point of view even exists on campus. She is still going to show those two films, with no film or any other form of media offering any kind of counterpoint. I know there is that documentary from Channel 4 in the U.K. called The Great Global Warming Swindle, but I don't think it's out on DVD yet, and YouTube, where I have watched that documentary, is blocked by our district firewall.

The Church of Global Warming strikes again!

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Forget defense and the economy - is he a good kisser?

I know I am going to incur the wrath of women out there but here goes:

Do you remember the 2000 Democrat National Convention when Al Gore awkwardly planted a big swooning kiss on his wife while they were up on stage? Before that kiss, Gore was behind George W. Bush in the polls. After that kiss, Gore led Bush by as much as 6 percentage points and got an incredible 16 point bounce in the polls among single women. That's right, women flocked to vote for Al Gore because he kissed his wife - not because of his politics or his policy positions.

Fast forward 8 years, and you have Hillary Clinton losing to Barack Obama in the Iowa Caucus, and things are not looking good for Hillary going into the New Hampshire Primary. And then, Hillary gets glassy-eyed and chokes up during a Q&A while explaining how she keeps soldiering on in the campaign. Boom! Big bounce among female voters in New Hampshire, and Hillary pulls out a 3 point win against Obama in the primary. Until her "emotional" moment, Hillary Clinton was going to most likely lose New Hampshire.

What does this say about your average female voter in this country? It certainly doesn't paint a positive picture in the eyes of many, and sensible women voters out there have to be mortified by the illogical behavior of their sisteren. I know the fairer sex is more apt to be ruled by their emotions, but this is the future of our country and our way of life we are talking about here. I am by no means painting every woman in this country with some broad brush; not by a long shot. Some of the most dynamic and knowledgeable pundits and polemicists out there are women. My week is not complete unless I have had the chance to consider the input of Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and Michelle Malkin. In fact, I'm a pansy compared to Ann Coulter - she has opined that women should have their suffrage revoked!

For the record, I disagree with Coulter. Women should be allowed to vote. However, that won't stop me from venting my frustration at the results of those votes, where the ability to kiss your wife, or the ability to shed a tear makes many female voters oooh and ahhh more than a candidate's dedication to, say, free-markets and limited government.

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fun's Over

After being off work since December 22, tomorrow is my last day of the Christmas break. It has been a lovely three weeks off away from the chaos and near-anarchy that is the school in which I teach.

I have bookmarked, and I will be checking it a few times a week for any job opportunities that might pop up. At this point, I would even be willing to give up my tenure by taking a job in a different district. I love teaching, but the problem for me right now is that I don't get to do much of it. I am a cop, a babysitter, a conflict mediator, and an all-around scold; teaching is something I get to do if I'm lucky.

The one thing I plan to do when I return on Monday is to really turn the screws when it comes to calling parents. Calling home is such a time intensive activity, but I have learned from experience that it really does make a difference. I told my students at the beginning of the year that I would call home if I had to warn them about their behavior more than once in a class period. Some days during August and early September, I was making 10+ calls a day during my prep period or after school. After a while, the calls began to diminish as many of my repeat-offender students got the message that I was serious and they quit goofing off. Then, after we came back from Thanksgiving, I started to lose my resolve. We only had a month until an even longer Christmas break, and I have a hard time steeling myself to make those parent phone calls in the first place, so it is pretty easy for me to come up with an excuse not to do it. Sure enough, the behavior in some of my classes, which was pretty much tenuous to begin with, went south in a big hurry.

For this new semester, the stakes will be even higher. I will reacquire the period that was under the tutelage of my student teacher last semester. They ate him alive quite often, and I look forward to regaining control of many of the students in that class, including one student who I do not believe should be in a regular classroom environment, and has an enabling mother on top of it (the dad is out of the picture).

So as you go about your upcoming Monday, keep me in your prayers as I once again face a gauntlet of adolescent angst and belligerence while I attempt to actually teach these students something.

Good Day to You, Sir

Early bird voter

My wife and I received our absentee ballots for the California primary election in the mail this afternoon. Being the efficient people that we are, we have already voted, and the envelopes sit signed and stamped, waiting to be mailed tomorrow.

For reasons of pragmatism, I am registered as a Republican, mainly for the primary elections so I can exercise my miniscule influence on my wayward party. It was quite an experience looking down the list of Republican candidates and saying, "Nope... nope... nope...." A small part of me wanted to consider the biggest three or four names - McCain, Romney, Huckabee, and Giuliani - of the candidates who have a chance of being nominated and just choose one of them, but in the end, I stuck to my principles. I darkened the little oval next to Duncan Hunter. I know he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting the nomination, but his views most closely represent my own, so that is who I voted for. A couple posts ago, I explained why I could not vote for the bigger names on the list, and I stuck to that.

I can already tell that the general election is shaping up to once again - in the words of my father - be a choice between an asshole and an idiot. It just amazes me that in a country of 300 million people, the current list of the candidates of both major parties is the best that can be presented to We the People.

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Gloria Steinem supports Hillary Clinton for President.

Who would have figured?

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, January 07, 2008

Weathering the storm

The fam and I are back from a wedding weekend, where my cousin tied the knot. She is 27, but I still have trouble remembering that she isn't in elementary school! We spent the last couple days in lovely Chico, California, which is just under 2 hours north of Sacramento. Most Americans know of Chico because of the now-twenty-years-ago designation by Playboy magazine of California State University, Chico as the top party school in the country.

We were wondering if we'd make it to Chico at all. On Friday when we were planning to leave, a tremendous wind and rain storm pounded the area. By the time we departed for Chico in the mid-afternoon, the wind had died down, but there were power outages everywhere. As we passed through the little farm towns of Live Oak and Gridley on our way north, we saw nothing but darkened businesses, and candles shining through the windows of peoples' homes. Orchard after orchard exhibited signs of the violence of the wind. Random nut and fruit trees lay prostrate among the rows of trees still standing. Being the history teacher I am, the downed trees lying among the regimented rows reminded me of some arboreal version of a battle from the Revolutionary or Civil Wars.

It was all rather interesting to see until we got to Chico - population 85,000 - and found that the power was still out there too. We had been forewarned by my parents, who had arrived hours earlier, so we had brought blankets and flashlights with us... thank God! The Days Inn where we had reservations was without power. Surely the power at the Inn would be restored before the start of the rehearsal dinner. Nope. We got to the rehearsal dinner where the power was out there too, but the lights came on about ten minutes after our arrival. Surely, the power would be restored at the Days Inn when we returned from the rehearsal dinner. Nope. We slept in the dark that night and used flashlights to get into our pajamas. Surely, the power would be restored at the Inn when we awoke the next morning. Nope. To make matters even worse, that's when we found that there wasn't even any hot water, even though we had been told that since it was heated by gas instead of electricity, there wouldn't be a problem. That was it - time to go. We secured a coveted room at a hotel a few miles away whose power had been restored. We got in there in time for the kids to take their naps and for us to shower before the wedding was to begin - a wedding which was to take place at a church that had no power.

Power was restored at the church not long before the ceremony. The day before, the location of the reception had no power, but that was restored early on Saturday, so no problems there. We left the reception around 9:30pm, and on our way back to our new hotel, we drove by the Days Inn which we had vacated. Surely, power would have been restored to the Inn by now? Nope, Still no power. Had we not secured a room at another hotel, we would have been spending another night in the pitch dark.

Power outages are kind of fun as long as the whole town is without power. In the little town where I grew up, the power would be out in the whole town for two or three days. But when you are without power for days, while the block across the street has juice again, then it becomes not so fun. I am just happy that the power was restored one step ahead of each event of the wedding weekend. It was easy to light up the rehearsal dinner cafe with candles, but I was wondering how they were going to pull off the wedding ceremony had power to the church not been restored. Just another adventure living on the wild and wacky west coast!

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Something to do on day one of the new year

Happy 2008 everyone! If you are like me (and hopefully you are), you don't want to spend the day watching football. Instead, try this geography game onto which Neal Boortz (see blogroll) turned me on.

I have played games before where you click the mouse on the country whose capital is Paris, but in this game, that's not good enough. In this game, you have to click in the vicinity of part of France where Paris is located. The closer you click to the actual location, the more points you receive; the more points you receive, the better the chances are that you will make it to the next level. There are 12 levels in all - I made it to level 11. As the levels progress, the locations get more remote and the time to locate them becomes less and less. By level 11, I was being asked to click on Bandeh Aceh, Indonesia!

If you think you are good at geography, this game is definitely for you. Check it out.

Good Year to You, Sir