Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Time for a father/son adventure!

Not that I have been blogging all that much lately - I have been very much enjoying my summer vacation - the blogging is going to get even more sparse for a few more days.

After five years away from my hometown, I am going there tomorrow with my son on an overnight camping trip. Since he was born, my son has served as a measuring stick for how long I have been away from the woods I love so much. Now that he is about to start Kindergarten, I figured it was time.

Our itinerary includes sneaking a peek at the house in which I grew up, throwing rocks in the creek, shooting some guns, and doing some trail hiking. I already know where we will be camping; it will not be in a campground. It will be on a wide spot on a bend on a logging road where the views include this, this and this. I took those pictures during my last visit, and I will post more pictures upon our return, which will not be until after this Sunday.

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ma'am not good enough for you? How about B****?

Stuff like the following usually sticks in my craw for a few hours or a day, and then I brain-dump it. My anger about this is not going away. Even my wife told me she can't let it go, and my wife almost never obsesses about politics as much as I do.

Watch the absolute petty arrogance displayed by Senator Barbara Boxer, who unfortunately represents my own home state of the late, great, California:

I will bet dollars to donuts that the Brigadier General worked a lot harder to gain his title than Boxer ever did to gain hers. Nevertheless, the General is undoubtedly satisfied being called "Sir."

I am so utterly embarassed that Boxer represents my state in Congress.

Good Day To You, Sir

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I'm how old?

In just a half-hour, I will step over the threshold that separates my mid-thirties from my late-thirties. Yes, I am about to turn 37.

Except for my chronically sore elbow, I don't feel 37. How can I be 37? Am I talking to myself?


Good Day to You, Sir........ 37.

1965: Year Zero

Being a teacher and student of history, dates are important to me. Although memorizing dates has fallen out of favor in many history classrooms, many of us are still able to instantly name the important events that happened in such years as 476, 1066, 1492, 1620, 1776, 1865, 1914, 1945, 2001, and so on.

I have another year for you to remember: 1965. Over the years, I have come to designate this particular year as the one in which we, perhaps irretrievably, lost our country. So many society-changing events and acts of legislation were passed in 1965, I cannot think of another year in our nation's history - not even during the Civil War or the Great Depression - that so permanently altered the fabric of our society and, consequently, our nation as a whole. I expect that many people will disagree with my analysis, and could give their own reasons why another year should be considered instead of 1965, but let us consider the following:

The Great Society - What better catastrophe to start off our list than Lyndon Johnson's grotesque dream-cum-nightmare that has sapped our nation's coffers and its motivation ever since its inception. This series of government programs, announced by Johnson during his State of the Union speech on January 4th, 1965, began to remove the stigma of welfare and set our nation down the road to a dependence on government that has been seared into our populace more and more with each ensuing generation; unfortunately demonstrating disproportionate effects in our nation's racial and ethnic minority communities. The chaos in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina could be considered Exhibit A in that assertion.

The Social Security Act of 1965 - You may never have heard of this law, but you have definitely heard of two of the government programs it spawned: Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare provides taxpayer-funded health care for Americans over the age of 65. Medicaid provides taxpayer-funded health care for Americans who subsist at certain poverty levels. These programs were instituted under the belief that health care in the United States was too expensive... so how's that working out for us? A surefire economic law is that when you subsidize something, the price of it tends to increase. Once government's deep pockets began picking up the tab for millions of people's medical bills, thus distorting the incentives of the free market, costs for medical care unsurprisingly went up. Medicare/Medicaid have become so expensive, that hands are now wringing in the media and our government on how to pay for the trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities these programs are experiencing. President Obama and Congress' solution is to take the Medicare/Medicaid model and apply it to all Americans under a so-called Single Payer System. "Single Payer" is a quaint little euphemism that fails to note that the "single payer" is you, the taxpayer. That way, everyone can now be dependent on the government for our health care!

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) - This law expanded the federal government's role in the education of our nation's children like nothing before. Although the Constitution grants no powers of regulating education to the federal government, Congress did an end-run around this obstacle by dangling ESEA money in front of the states. Once the states accepted that money, then the states had to play by the federal government's rules. As the octopus arms of this law have slipped into the classrooms of most of our nations's schools, the result has been the educational wasteland that culminated in the 1983 Nation at Risk report that said if a foreign power had imposed our lackluster educational system upon us, we would have considered it an act of war. Instead, we have done this to ourselves. The one-size-fits-all approach of the ESEA provides almost limitless federal funding for just about every ineffectual educational fad that comes down the pipe, giving parents and schools nowhere to hide but for paying taxes toward public education in addition to tuition for private school. Over the years, those fads have included Title I funding of which studies have shown no gain; Whole Language instruction, which turned a generation of children into semi-literate non-readers; block scheduling, which tried to force teachers to abandon the traditional models of instruction that have worked for thousands of years, and the list goes on. Our schools, which used to be the envy of the world have been ravaged by this law that still exists today as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002.

The Watts Riots - On August 11, 1965, the city of Los Angeles exploded with fire and violence, as a routine traffic stop between a white police officer and a black motorist turned into days of nihilism which ended with millions of dollars in property damage and 34 people dead. Beyond the immediate death and damage, years of misery awaited as the Watts Riots served as a catalyst for the "Black Power" movement, which announced itself less than a year later. The Civil Rights movement for blacks in the United States was a necessary and noble endeavor. For some blacks however, the non-violent, integrationist methods of Martin Luther King and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee were plodding along too slowly. The violence, intimidation, and self-segregation of the Black Power movement became an alternative method to non-violence and integration, and looking at the state of Black America today, with its self-imposed segregation, belligerence, disproportionate crime rates, and high rate of out-of-wedlock births, it is unfortunate to note that Black Power won out in the war of ideas.

The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 - Back in 1924, Congress realized that the United States had been ingesting an enormous amount of immigration for the previous 30 years. In an effort to let that meal settle, immigration was brought down to practically nil between 1924 and 1965. During that forty-year period, immigrants and their offspring had the chance to assimilate into American society without having to compete economically and culturally with ever more new arrivals. Ethnic groups such as Italians and Slavs moved up the economic ladder, moved out of the cities in which they had originally arrived, and began fanning out across our great melting pot. In 1965, that all changed. Whereas the 1924 Immigration Act dictated that the nationality of immigrants should match the then-current demographic makeup of the United States, a new immigration act was passed - under the leadership of none other than Teddy Kennedy - that removed nationality quotas, meaning people from any country in the world could arrive on our shores. While only 500,000 immigrants arrived in the United States during the entire decade of the 1930s, over 1 million immigrant arrived in just the year of 1996. There is nothing wrong with immigration as long as the people who arrive here are motivated to become part of our American society, to adopt our culture, and not carve out their own "communities" where they languish in self-segregation. This is what is occurring today, and has been since 1965, as the U.S. receives millions of immigrants from third-world countries whose cultures, religions, and political philosophies are often anathema to what has made the United States a place to which people around the world are willing to risk their lives to reach in the first place.

According to Ted Kennedy, this was not supposed to be the result of the 1965 Immigration Act. What has come to pass regarding that law was vehemently denied by Kennedy and other proponents as being even a possibility. Here is Kennedy's money quote about the bill during floor debate:

"First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same ... Secondly, the ethnic mix will not be upset . . . Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and deprived nations of Africa and Asia...."
One only has to look at our current demographics to know that Kennedy's soothing words turned out to be a bunch of hokum. To make matters worse, take the massive levels of third-world immigration we have experienced under this law, and couple it with the Great Society-inspired welfare that is still very much available, and you begin to understand the bigger picture I am trying to illustrate for you.

Escalation of the Vietnam War and the protests the war inspired - The year 1965 was the first year that actual combat troops - as opposed to military advisors - were sent to fight in Vietnam. It was also the first year that the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and other left-wing groups began the mass protests that would define the War back home. There was nothing wrong with the United States involving itself in the Vietnam War. It was a necessary action that checked increasing Soviet designs on world domination. The tragedy was that Lyndon Johnson was not playing to win, and tens of thousands of American soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice for Johnson's equivocation. In addition to the thousands of actual American deaths in the battlefields of Vietnam, the war also gave rise to the death of our institutions back home; institutions such as respect for authority, unabashed patriotism, and common decency. The duplicity exhibited by many of our politicians in their efforts to not win the War in Vietnam gave many an American a reason to never again trust our government to do the right thing, even if our government truly is doing the right thing. This fact was made painfully apparent during the numerous protests held on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and in other large cities around the country in which people openly supported our communist enemies and called for the United States to lose the War in Vietnam.


If you wish to see the legacy of 1965, you only need to go right now to your television or newspaper and turn it on or open it up, or take a walk down the street or visit a local school.

President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress have just in the last few days fired their opening salvos in their fight to force socialized health care down the throats of the American people. The seeds for that possibility can easily be traced back to the incremental imposition of Medicare and Medicaid for certain portions of our population.

I have seen with my own eyes and photographed with my own camera hundreds of modern-day anti-war protestors who call for the defeat of the United States and the death of our brave soldiers in the fight against Islamic terrorism and the Islamists' attempts to reestablish a Caliphate that would make the Soviet Union a paradise by comparison.

I teach in a school where over 30 different languages and dialects are spoken. I have driven through certain parts of downtown Los Angeles that are practically indistinguishable from Tijuana. I have sadly marveled at the sight Muslim women walking down the sidewalks of my hometown, covered from head to toe in their mysoginistic uniform of flowing clothes and hijab. Great Britain is currently flirting with the idea of allowing Sharia law to be used in its court system. How long before this horrible decision reaches our shores as well?

The school at which I teach exhibits the racial "achievement gap" in test scores which is prevalent in just about every school district in the country. Our black students bring up the back of the pack in every measurable academic category. They also lead the pack in discipline referrals, suspensions, and expulsions. The belligerence and self-defeating attitudes of the Black Power movement continue to hold back an entire generation of black students who could do so well if they just applied themselves and not worry that doing so would be abandoning their "blackness."

And tying all of the above together is the legacy of the Great Society, in which government largess personal independence, personal pride, and personal responsibility for too many people. Social pathology and dysfunction continue to be rewarded, subsidized, and multiplied.

Over forty years have come and gone since 1965, which means we are now working on our third generation that has lived in the aftermath of that seminal year. The tragedy in this fact is that for a major portion of our country's population, the American people know of no other reality than the one that was imposed upon us in 1965. How does one impress upon millions of people who don't know any better the fact that things weren't always this way, and they don't always have to be?

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Today is the day before my final day of the school year. Tomorrow, I will travel with the 7th graders as a chaperone for their trip to a local waterslide park.

In the meantime, I have a crudload of work to do. My school is moving campuses, so I have had to pack up everything in my classroom for the move. We teachers tend to be natural pack rats, so not only have I had to box everything up, but I have had to scrutinize every book and stack of paper to decide what makes the move and what gets purged. This makes for an agonizingly slow boxing-up process.

As much as I hate to admit it, I am going to need one day next week to pack up the rest of my classroom and move much of it to my new classroom. We received a set number of boxes to pack up our official classroom stuff, but anything personal, I will have to move myself. My new classroom is on the building's third floor, so I am definitely going to be getting my workout.

I am so looking forward to summer and bidding adieu to this year's group of 8th graders.

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Sacramento Citizen is up and running

Not long ago, I informed you about a new online publication serving the Sacramento area, called the Sacramento Citizen (it's also linked on my blogroll).

After messing with the format and getting rid of - in the words of its editor - its "bloggy" appearance, the Citizen is updated in both form and content and looks outstanding. Furthermore, the Citizen has a recurring column called Tales from the Classroom, which features an education columnist who you might know and revere. Check out this columnist's initial effort in the Citizen right here. Hopefully, many informative columns will follow, and I will let you know here when a new column appears in the Citizen.

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, June 06, 2009

65 years ago today

Read the accounts of two men - one American, one British - who fought that day.

Arthur Selzer -

"I wasn't worried about getting shot, I was worried about not drowning. When we finally got to the beach there was no craters for us to hide in and naturally machine guns up there were firing. Omaha got the name 'bloody Omaha' because the only thing you could see was soldiers lying on the beach that were dead, blood all around you."
Jim Tuckwell -

"I came face to face with a German, and I beat him to the draw. I killed him. I sat on the grass and was sick and I cried ... he was some mother's son."
God Bless these men, and all the rest who fought, bled, and died that day, June 6, 1944.

Good Day to You, Sir

Friday, June 05, 2009

Those mean conservatives!

A pundit of whom I have grown quite fond is Andrew Klavan of Pajamas Media/PJTV/Big Hollywood (See blogroll). He is a novelist who has had a couple of his books made into major Hollywood Movies (Don't Say a Word with Michael Douglas, True Crime with Clint Eastwood).

On PJTV, Klavan does an occasional video blog, and his latest is absolutely brilliant. Behold, as he uses the writings of Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville to explain why the fight to retain our God-given liberties (yes, my dear troll, I said "God-given") is not as "mean" as some people out there think it is.

Good Day to You, Sir

Happiness is...

...having both my kids sleeping in between my wife and me in bed last night. My son and daughter came running in just after midnight when Sacramento was hit by what was easily the most violent thunderstorm I have seen in this city in my 11 years living here. The storm was on par with some of the monster light and sound shows that I saw in South Carolina when I went through Army basic training there in the summer of 1993.

Last night, the flashes were piling on top of each other; the rumbles, cracks, and crashes of lightning overlapped each other; and the Chanman family was huddled together on the king-size bed in the master bedroom, riding out the storm. Both my kids fell asleep with their hands over their ears!

Those are the priceless family moments that you just cannot quantify.

Good Day to You, Sir