Sunday, February 28, 2010

I need more information on this one

I can always count on the Forum section in the Sunday Sacramento Bee to provide me with fodder for my forum; this weekend was no exception.

Special columnist Dr. Kay Judge wrote about a man named Donny, and started off her column with the following:
Donny Phillips died last month. Quietly, desperately, sadly. Donny was a 35-year old man, sick for most of his life, with a disease that health iunsurance does not acknowledge or reimburse for. At the end of his life, Donny could not get out of his bed. His body was too weak to hold him up, his lungs powerless to oxygenate him, his heart too worn out from overwork. He died without hope, a prisoner in his body, having spent the last six months in a hospital.
At this point, your thinking how terrible this all is. What could it be that could strike down a 35-year old man like this? Then Dr. Judge gives up the goods:
Donny was big. Really big: 800 pounds... he ballooned gradually. He got sicker and sicker. There was no medically reimbursable program available to help him lose weight. He got fatter and fatter.
Dr. Judge decried our health care and health insurance systems for Donny's overall care costing millions of dollars when his ailment could have been prevented with "the few thousand dollars for weight management that might have prevented it all [but] was not a covered expense."

My problem with Dr. Judge's article is yet another example of the malady that is rotting our nation, and that is the unwillingness to accept responsibility. Although she absolves Donny of his obesity by decrying the "[s]emantics, blame, and political correctness surround[ing] the issue of obesity, she fails to explain some rather important points that are integral to Donny's condition.

If this was simply a matter of obesity - as is repeatedly emphasized - I finished the column wondering how an 800 pound man could spend six months in the hospital and continue to get "fatter and fatter" as Dr. Judge so delicately put it?

I will always remember a segment on 20/20 or 60 Minutes, or one of those shows where they profiled a man who weighed about 1,000 pounds and was trapped in his own home. His wife took care of him in his infirmity. It was quite obvious why the man wasn't getting any thinner when a typical meal for him was a 12-piece bucket of KFC, furnished of course by his wife. This story was in the back of my mind as I read about Donny's predicament.

I'm sure that there are people suffering from obesity in this country who have have an honest-to-goodness medical condition that is responsible for it. But at the risk of sounding insensitive - and I don't believe that would be the first time - most obesity could be solved by people eating smaller portions and not shoving into their mouths excess amounts of high-calorie processed crap that is full of high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils.

It's a tragedy what happened to Donny, but I would have appreciated more information about the story of his demise in order to properly put his death in context. The health industry received plenty of blame in Dr. Judge's column, but did Donny have any responsibility in all this?

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Climategate blackout

Ever wonder why so many Americans are still irrationally clinging to their belief that the Earth's atmosphere is significantly warming to a catastrophic level, and that we humans are the cause? Perhaps it might be due to the fact that the American media is barely reporting on what is one of the most important frauds in human history.

Read here for an article that explains how the British press - both conservative and statist-leaning news outlets alike - are all over the various climate change scandals, but from the American media, we are receiving bupkus.

An excerpt:
I contacted all three papers — the LA Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Times — asking for comment, or for a pointer to the stories I had missed. Only one of the three replied, and they wouldn’t speak for attribution or on the record.

It’s truly a puzzle. This is a story that affects the future of human civilization, if some of the believers are right. It ties financially to people right up to the top of American politics, as well as major industries throughout the U.S. and the world. What’s more, the story would seem to be all wrapped up, ready for aggressive investigative reporters with the resources of the Times to expose. Some of the perpetrators have even begun to confess. Why wouldn’t the Times cover it at all...?
Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The "tolerant" Left strikes again

Donny Deutsch is a flunky who used to have his own CNBC show and now makes appearances as a talking head on MSDNC. He is an absolute rabid lefty statist, but I didn't realize just how much until today when I heard him refer to an Hispanic senatorial candidate from Florida as a "Coconut."

Marco Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants who fled Castro's paradise and is currently leading governor Charlie Crist for the Republican nomination. Crist is your typical sellout country club Republican, while Rubio is a conservative who is much more aligned with the Tea Party. Naturally, this makes his ethnicity fair game for those on the left. Watch the love and tolerance:


For the unknowing, the "Coconut" reference means Rubio is brown on the outside, but white on the inside, meaning that he is a supposed traitor to his race. Just like conservative blacks are often called "Oreos" for the same reason.

The question I have is what kind of disciplinary action, if any, will MSNBC take against Deutsch? You know exactly what would happen to him were he a conservative media commentator.

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, February 18, 2010

IRS airplane suicide pilot a tea partier?

You knew this was going to happen.

A guy rams his airplane into the side of a building in Austin, Texas with the apparent hope of a taking a couple of Infernal Revenue Service agents with him, and before you can say "right wing nutjob," you have the breathless leftists out there gloating that this is what the rhetoric of the Tea Party movement hath wrought. We already have a columnist from the Washington Post saying:
There's no information yet on whether he was involved in any anti-government groups or whether he was a lone wolf. But after reading his 34-paragraph screed, I am struck by how his alienation is similar to that we're hearing from the extreme elements of the Tea Party movement. (emphasis: Chanman)
Not so fast.

Luckily for us, our angry aviator left behind a lengthy manifesto in which he expressed what had possessed him to do what he did.

I read the entire manifesto, and a few statements stood out, especially since they were conveniently left out of the article in the Washington Post. Read these and tell me if this sounds like something a Tea Partier would say, especially through the ears of a statist who detests those mean ol' "tea baggers."
...that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God...
He definitely has a problem with organized religion, and especially the Catholic Church. Man, so do a lot of those lefties out there, especially when it comes to abortion and homosexuality.
...Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies...
Sounds to me like this guy was on board with the government taking over the health care system because of the greed of those nasty drug and insurance companies. Wow, did he steal this part of his manifesto from Obama's teleprompter?
...The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws...
Whoa! If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone on the left talking smack about George W. Bush like that, I would be like Scrooge McDuck in his giant vault, pushing his coins around with a bulldozer. I mean after all, aren't the Tea Party folks always being accused of being closet Republicans and are constantly catching flak for not starting this movement in earnest until after Bush had left office?

Finally, the manifesto ends with this critical comparison:
The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed
I will admit that I'm not sure if his intention is to trash both ideologies or to praise one and not the other, but it is painfully obvious that he is no fan of capitalism. Gosh, I know of countless lefties who could have written that line. Anyone who swoons over Michael Moore would be sure to swoon over this final line from the manifesto.

So, in true partisan form, I am going to come up with my own narrative, just like that jackass from the Washington Post. I say that this man who flew his plane into the IRS building in Austin was a left-wing, religion-hating, capitalism-hating extremist who was angry at George W. Bush and the Republicans for blocking the passage of government-run health care. That's why he flew the plane into the building. Wow, that was easy!

I have a better idea. Instead of trying to decide whether the guy was "right wing" or "left wing" or a "tea partier," how about we just chalk him up as a tortured soul who ended his life in a most extreme way. If you still disagree with me, I can always point out that, according to the Boston Herald, the college professor in Alabama who shot and killed three of her colleagues and wounded three others was described by those who knew her as, "a far-left political extremist who was 'obsessed' with President Obama to the point of being off-putting."

So there.

Good Day to You, Sir

Orwell, eat your heart out

I smell a lawsuit:

Administrator remotely activates student's webcam to watch his “improper behavior” at home.

You could chalk this up as some secretive private obsession on the part of the administrator, but if the charges are true, the creepiest part is that the student claims that the administrator told the student all about the use of the webcam. This would mean that the administrator actually thought that what she was doing was justified. Not only that, this might be happening with multiple school officials and multiple students.


Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Please God, make it stop

I remember the whole sagging pants atrocity taking hold around 1994 or so. Much to my chagrin, it was still going strong when I began teaching full-time around 2002. At that time, the male students who sagged were wearing these Barnum and Bailey-esque baggy clown jeans that were 5 sizes too large, yet they still sagged. A year or two ago, the jeans began getting skinnier, but they still sag.

Last year, I did notice that the whole sagging thing was showing signs of dying on the vine. I began seeing students who used to sag that were not doing it so much anymore. I began to hope against hope that this fashion catastrophe's days might be numbered. It turns out that I was premature in my wishful thinking.

This year, it was as if the former saggers suddenly realized the same thing I was seeing, and decided to double down on their efforts to keep the sagging atrocity alive. I have noticed this school year that sagging came back with a vengeance, even with their skinny jeans, which have a lot less room with which to sag.

I hate the sagging trend of course, but as long as the boys' shirts extend past the top of their pants, I tolerate it. I have one 8th grade student, however, who insists on walking in to my classroom every day with his boxers or athletic shorts exposed. It soon turned into a daily dance: I would tell this numbskull to pull up his pants; he would give his pants an apathetic tug that didn't change a damn thing; I would tell him again to pull up his pants; he would pull them to within what I could tolerate, but the pants were so loose, that by the middle of the period, his undergarments would be showing again. I would then tell him to pull his pants up again. And so it went.

Finally, this week, I couldn't take it anymore. This past Tuesday, I sent the following email to the student's mother:

I am writing to you to inform you that I had to send Numbskull to the office today due to his constantly sagging pants. It has become a daily dance between Numbskull and myself concerning the fact that he comes in every day with his pants sagging so low, I really cannot figure out how he keeps them from falling to his ankles. I have grown tired of being subjected to the sight of Numbskull’s undergarments, especially after so many prior warnings. The problem also is that not only do I have to warn him about his pants on a daily basis when he walks into the classroom, I then have to give him repeated warnings throughout the class period, as he usually never pulls them all the way up, or even if he actually does, he wears the pants so loosely that in no time, they are sagging right back where they were.

Numbskull has received more than enough warning from me about his pants, to no avail. From here on out, I will be sending him to the office every day he walks into my classroom with his pants sagging so that the office can give him a belt or rope to help him hold his pants up.

Thank you,

Mr. Chanman
Social Studies Teacher
Wannabe Ghetto Middle School
I haven't received an answer back from the mother, but having cc'd the email to my principal, she replied back to me, telling me, in part:
...please DO send him and others to the front office. Coincidentally, we discussed this matter at this morning's School Climate Committee since it was a topic that was brought to us by your colleagues. We have decided to take a hard stance on the matter. We will be asking students to leave their pants with us after changing into their P.E. shorts or sweatpants. We've discovered that many of the students are already wearing gym shorts underneath their sagging oversized or undersized skinny jeans....
Again, I sent this email on Tuesday, I was out yesterday (my son had a fever), and I was back today (Thursday). Fourth period rolled around today, and guess who walked in with his pants sagging below his butt cheeks, and his undergarments exposed for the world to see? He wasn't even halfway through the doorway when I told him to turn around and go to the office to get his pants fixed. He began to argue with me, but I told him I didn't even want to hear it; just go to the office. I called the office to let them know he was on his way and why.

About twenty minutes later, he returned to my classroom wearing his P.E. shorts, just as my principal had ordered. One problem: he was sagging his P.E. shorts.

With so little time left to deal with the issue, I simply told him to pull up his shorts and have a seat. I kept him after class and informed him that this daily ritual of removing him from my classroom for sagging would continue until he stopped doing it. In addition to telling him that he was exhibiting defiance toward me by continuing to sag and expose his undergarments, I even stooped to pulling out a play from the PC handbook and informed him that what he was doing was borderline sexual harrassment, directed both toward me and the female students in the room.

It will be amusing to see how he wears his pants tomorrow, and I wonder if I will ever receive a reply from his mother?

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A simple comparison regarding "Handgate"

I have resisted posting about this subject because I thought the whole controversy is rather obsurd, but it seems that the Statist media isn't near to being finished talking about a couple of crib notes on Sarah Palin's left hand.

Reporters such as Andrea Mitchell and even Obama's Pillsbury Doughboy of a press secretary, Robert Gibbs, have raked Palin over the coals for daring to jot a few reminder phrases on the palm of her hand for a speech she gave at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tennessee the other day. CNN was breathlessly reporting this news on the hour every hour the day after the incredible news broke that Palin had done this unspeakable deed.

One of the angles the Statist media kept using was that it was hypocritical for Palin to make fun of Obama for using a teleprompter at every opportunity when there she was with some crib notes on her hand. That argument is so idiotic on its face that it is tempting to just wave it off and move on. The problem is that in our current media culture, when absurdities like this go unanswered, you allow the Statist media to set the narrative, and the ignoramuses out there who live in their little hermetically sealed left-wing bubble begin to believe that Palin's oratory transgression was just as bad as Obama's dependence on his beloved teleprompter. Don't believe me? There are many people who think that Palin actually said that she could see Russia from her house, it was actually Tina Fey from Saturday Night Live who made that joke while impersonating Palin. Again, it's about setting a narrative.

So ask yourself, what shows more dependence on tools that can assist you in presenting your speech? What is the more significant crutch?


Or this?

I rest my case.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, February 08, 2010

John Murtha is no longer in the House

Representative John "Jack" Murtha of Pennslyvania died today at the age of 77. I have no comments about this man. I will let him speak for himself:

Meanwhile, let's get a conservative in Murtha's district.

Good Day to You, Sir

Green Police Ad: More terrifying than funny

I sort of watched the Super Bowl yesterday, but I did happen to be watching when the advertisement below was aired. It is an ad for some sort of bio-diesel car by Audi, but the Green Police that the Audi driver is able to circumvent due to his choice of car made my palms sweat because as comedy-driven as the ad is supposed to be, make no mistake that what the Green Police does in this ad is an environmentalist's wet dream.

As you watch this supposedly humorous ad, ask yourself if it is really that far-fetched:

Between federal Cap and Trade legislation; California's own Cap and Trade, known as AB 32; Congress banning incandescent light bulbs in 2014; and especially high-ranking enviro-wackos calling for man-made global warming skeptics to be fired or tried Nuremberg-style, I have to say that this ad seems more reality than fantasy, and that scares the hell out of me.

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, February 06, 2010

An enjoyable debate

I took a half-day off on Thursday in order to attend a debate between two political titans. On the Left was former California Speaker of the Assembly
and San Francisco Mayor, Willie Brown. On the Right (more like center-right) was political pollster Frank Luntz. They were at the Crest Theater, which is located in downtown Sacramento on K Street as a part of a debate series that is being put on by Sacramento Mayor, Kevin Johnson. There really was no specific theme in the debate between Brown and Luntz; it was a basic, no-holds-barred free-for-all on any and all topics of the day. The moderator was Eric Hogue, a local radio talk show host who helms a noontime call-in show on 1380 KTKZ in Sacramento.

The Crest Theater is a Sacramento landmark that harkens back to another time. It retains much of its golden-age-of-theater art deco-esque charm while usually showing independent movies that aren't big enough for mass release. I walked down some stairs to a smaller theater in a sub-level of the building where approximately 180 seats awaited a final audience that I estimated at about maybe 120. On the raised stage was a podium for the moderator and two leather-backed chairs facing each other at an oblique angle like you see on Jay Leno's 10pm show that was recently axed. I chose a seat about 30 feet away and settled in to wait for the showdown.

About 10 minutes before the debate was to begin, Mayor Kevin Johnson and a small entourage of staffers walked into the theater headed over to shoot the breeze with Eric Hogue, who had made no bones about the fact that he had supported Johnson over the incumbent Mayor, Heather Fargo, in the 2008 election. Johnson is of course the former NBA star who spent most of his years with the Phoenix Suns, but he is a Sacramento native.

The debate began around 1:30pm with some short remarks by Mayor Johnson, who then turned the microphone over to Eric Hogue. Mr. Hogue introduced the two debate participants, beginning with Willie Brown. Brown is a legend in California politics. As a 31-year Democrat member of the California state Assembly, he consolidated quite a bit of power during his almost 15 years as Speaker of that same Assembly. I imagine he would still be in the Assembly had not term limits been imposed on California political offices. I would suffice to say that Brown's headlock on power in this state was one of the main reasons that Californians called for term limits in the first place. Brown is one of those larger than life figures to whom nothing seems to stick, no matter how corrupt he might seem. He is known to be an impeccable dresser, and he did not disappoint this day. He was dressed in a gray, silky-looking suit, complete with vest, with a white dress shirt and cufflinks, and blackish tie. His outfit was topped off with a black handkerchief fancily placed in his coat pocket, and several gold rings on various fingers. During the debate, Brown was a smooth and eloquent talker who was gracious at every turn.

Then Frank Luntz walked up to the stage. His hair gave me the impression he had just rolled out of bed; he was wearing a disheveled white button up shirt with no tie, along with an an ordinary-looking pair of brown pants. Then there were the shoes: a pair of neon green, orange, and black tennis shoes. During the debate, Luntz was hilarious with his off-beat humor, and his brusque New England demeanor - he is from Connecticut - came out on several occasions as he dropped a couple S- and F-bombs.

What struck me funny is that many people have a stereotypical view of conservatives and Republicans being slick corporate fat cats, while liberals and Democrats are salt-of-the-earth working-class people. Yet at this event, it was the liberal Democrat in the the $2,000 suit and the Republican who looked liked Joe-Schmo. This point was driven home when during the debate, Frank Luntz took a second to comment on Willie Brown's cufflinks: "Your cufflinks cost more than my entire wardrobe. Look at those things!"

The first answers from Brown and Luntz that were of any consequence had to do with questions of exercising power. Not surprisingly, Willie Brown spoke of the importance of holding on to and expanding power. He said that he didn't believe in a certain percentage of a majority vote being necessary for a "mandate." To Brown, it doesn't matter if he got 50.1% of the vote - HE WON, and he would govern as if he had received a clear mandate, because to him, winning - no matter by what margin - is mandate enough. To these statements, Luntz exclaimed, "You're scaring the shit out of me right now." Luntz stated that it is not the job of politicians to consolidate power, and that voters should decide how much power our elected leaders have; not the leaders themselves.

There was much discussion about the role of voters in politics, and how they affect the behavior of politicians. Willie Brown summed it up best with a short story of the effect of the famous Prop 13, which was passed in 1978 and put a cap on property taxes on California residences. He said that on Monday, then-Governor Jerry Brown opposed Prop 13, but by Wednesday, he had written Prop 13. What had happened to change his stance? The election on Tuesday!

Brown was obviously against the voter initiatives and propositions, especially since just such an initiative - Proposition 140 in 1990 - had knocked him out of his seat of power in the Assembly. He referred to people who work to get these initiatives on the ballots as "nitwits." Further, he "can guarantee" that the people who sign the petitions that make the initiatives eligible to be on the ballot have not read the legislation they are supporting.

Frank Luntz had a pretty damning riposte to Brown's statement by asking Brown if elected legislators are any better at reading legislation; such as, how many members of Congress had actually read the 2,000+ page Health Care Reform (ObamaCare) legislation before it came to a vote?

The conversation then steered away from California politics and toward national politics - especially the gubernatorial and congressional races in Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois, and what can be read from the tea leaves regarding how these elections can give a preview of what might happen this November.

Willie Brown first expressed his belief that Jon Corzine of New Jersey had left the Senate to become New Jersey's governor with the intention of putting some executive experience on his resume' with an eye toward an eventual run at the White House. Well, that's not gonna happen. He then regurgitated a common left-wing talking point that the Dem losses in VA, NJ, and MA were more because of the lack of quality of the Dem candidates rather than voter anger at the Democrat message. Nevertheless, Brown then conceded that even Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois is in danger of being taken by the Republican candidate in November.

Brown and Luntz both agreed that the quality of presidential candidates in the last few cycles has been horrible. Luntz pointed out that John Kerry looked like the tree from the Wizard of Oz that threw apples at Dorothy, and he cracked a joke that the infamous "Don't taze me, Bro!" guy - who was tasered by police at a Kerry appearance - "was the first person ever electrified by a Kerry speech."

Both Brown and Luntz had some particularly insightful words about the current fight over health care in Congress.

Brown believes that Obama improperly punted the health care issue to Congress, and let the ideological junkyard dogs bite off too much. Brown said that had he been in Obama's place, he would have picked three or four items from the health care wish list, and moved them one at a time - as separate bills - through Congress. This was a rather candid statement: he was essentially admitting that the Democrats should have deceived the American people by staying under the radar and enacting their agenda through stealth tactics, instead of overplaying their hand and bringing on the ire of the Tea Party movement.

Luntz made his position very clear; clear enough that I can actually quote him directly:
To the Republicans in this room: understand that the American people do want health care reform.

To the Democrats in this room: understand that the American people do not want what Congress is trying to pass.
During a short audience Q&A, a California state legislator - I think it might have been State Senator Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) - asked Brown and Luntz about immigration policy. I am guessing it was Cedillo because the man is obsessed with immigration policy. Luntz had a brilliant response to the question. He said that the United States should have very tall fences, but very wide gates. By that he meant that we should most certainly have a mechanism in place for legal immigration, but we should absolutely crack down upon and prevent illegal immigration. He repeated the truism that an immigrant coming to this country should not make his or her very first act in coming here a violation of our laws.

There were other topics and discussions for which I either didn't have the time to take proper notes, or I left out of this post for brevity's sake. I sure did enjoy the discussion between Frank Luntz and Willie Brown, even though there were positions taken by both men with which I did not agree.

After I stepped out of the Crest and back onto K Street, I topped off my afternoon by grabbing a pale ale and some deep-fried calamari strips with chipotle tartar sauce at the Pyramid Alehouse just a few doors down. Uh, people at Pyramid, you can contact me anytime so I can tell you where to mail my promotion fee.

Good Day to You, Sir

Friday, February 05, 2010

Some more of that Obama eloquence

Our POTUS (President of the United States) was belting out yet another speech yesterday with the help of TOTUS (Teleprompter of the United States), but two things quickly became clear: Obama had not rehearsed this speech, and he has a serious lack of knowledge of the military he commands. Watch and listen:

A Navy Corpsman is a medic who accompanies Marines during combat operations. The battles in the Pacific during World War II were especially inundated with cries of "Corpsman! Corpsman!" from wounded Marines.

The one thing is that the Marines were yelling "Core-man!" not "Corpse-man!" Good job TOTUS.

Let's just hope someone briefed Obama on this gaffe before he goes off and makes a speech in which he mentions the U.S. Marine Corpse.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Deja Vu in the race for California Attorney General

Jerry Brown was governor of California from 1975 to 1982. He gained the nickname "Moonbeam" for his strange ideas of governance and his eccentric behavior, such as eschewing the Governor's mansion for an apartment with a mattress on the floor.

I was mortified when Brown was actually elected to the office of California Attorney General in 2006, and I will be equally mortified if he is actually elected back into office as California's governor, which is looking more and more like a certainty what with the Republican infighting between Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner.

Meanwhile, with Brown looking to vacate his current position, the California Attorney General's race is wide open. Last summer, there looked to be two front runners: San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris on the Democrat side, and California State Senator Tom Harman on the Republican ticket. The situation became more uncertain for the Republicans with the February 1st entrance of John Eastman, who just resigned as Dean of Chapman University Law School so he can run for California AG.

On June 4th of last year, Senator Harman posted a column entitled Why I am running for Attorney General on John Fleischman's Flash Report, a blog that covers California politics. In his column, Senator Harman emphasized his support for the death penalty, and also his willingness to support the will of the people of California by fighting lawsuits seeking to overturn Prop 8, which is a Constitutional amendment that defines marriage in the state of California as being only between one man and one woman.

On February 1st of this year, Mr. Eastman posted a column on Flash Report entitled... Why I am running for Attorney General. Wow, same title. In his column, Mr. Eastman emphasized his support for... the death penalty, and also his willingness... to support the will of the people of California by fighting lawsuits seeking to overturn Prop 8.

I can appreciate that Mr. Eastman is most likely sincere in his belief that these issues should be something worth addressing in his campaign, but I must say that it seems a bit disingenuous of him to allow Senator Harman to put himself out there and plow the road eight months in advance, and then swoop in to attempt to hijack these issues that Senator Harman, early on, made the focus of his campaign.

The wording of Mr. Eastman's column (save the title) may not quite smack of plagiarism, but the use of the exact same venue to announce his candidacy (the Flash Report), and the similarity of the major issues addressed by Mr. Eastman to the issues raised by Senator Harman back in June of 2009 is a different matter.

Mr. Eastman, I suggest that if you are going to run your own campaign, you should plow your own road to the AG's office.

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Carnival of Educators

Here is something I haven't done in a while: submit a post to the Carnival of Educators. Read (or re-read) my post on the core of the problem regarding discipline in our schools, plus other interesting reads around the world of education at this week's host blog:

Notes from a Homeschooling Mom.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, February 01, 2010

Apparently, our republic is "anti-democratic"

Every once in a while, I come across an opinion column that is so spectacularly wrong on so many levels, that after reading it, I feel depressed at the realization that there are people in our country who actually believe wholeheartedly in the writer's positions.

A column in the Forum section of the Sunday (31 Jan) Sacramento Bee that I suffered through is one of those instances. It was written by one Blair Bobier, the deputy director of a think tank in Washington D.C. called the New America Foundation. After reading his column, I thought that if what Mr. Bobier calls for is his idea of a New America, then I will stick with the Old America, thank you very much. I will quote from Mr. Bobier's column, but it will be very difficult to not post the entire text of the article, as he has that many ridiculous things to say.

The column, entitled Constitution's anti-democratic, outdated values in need of purge actually begins with a well-deserved criticism of California's constitution, which has been amended so many times by voter propositions, that it has become a riddle wrapped around a mystery inside an enigma and is currently the third-longest constitution in the world.

While I agree that California's constitution needs a major overhaul, Mr. Bobier's descriptions of the failings of our federal constitution is where he lost me. As I quote from his column, take note of how often he uses the word "democracy" or derivations thereof. For fun, I will highlight the times he uses that word. You, the reader, need to understand that our country's system of government is not a democracy and was never meant to be one. We are a republic, in which our rights are granted by God and protected by law (See the Declaration of Independence and Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution). In a democracy, your rights are granted by the majority, and they are at the whim of the majority. Not a place I would like to live, but it is what our country has devolved toward becoming, especially in the last eighty years or so.

Mr. Bobier's criticism of the U.S. Constitution begins with a channeling of the recently departed Howard Zinn:
The U.S. Constitution, a model of innovation at the time of its adoption, is similarly ill-suited to govern the lives of its increasingly diverse citizenry. Created by and for an exclusionary elitist society, the original Constitution established a government for a fledgling nation that was then a thin strip along the Eastern seaboard with a population of 2.5 million people. Not only did the original document enshrine slavery as an accepted practice, it crated a number of blatantly anti-democratic institutions.
I could write quite a lengthy blog post deconstructing just this paragraph, but we are only just getting started! The Constitution is ill-suited for our diverse citizenry, Mr. Bobier? You wouldn't be saying that the Constitution is only suited for white people would you, Sir? Are you saying that non-white races don't value freedom? I can only speculate, because Mr. Bobier doesn't explain what he means by "diverse." As for the expansion of our country beyond its original borders and population count, I just read an unrelated column today by Selwyn Duke that had a great line which instantly made me think of Mr. Bobier's ridiculous position. Mr. Duke said that truth transcends time, place, and people. The Constitution was written in 1787, with the Bill of Rights being added in 1791. The limits on government power, the descriptions on the role of government, and the prohibitions on the violation of our rights our just as relevant today as they were then, because the times may change, and technology may change, but human nature does not change. And if there ever is anything that absolutely needs to be changed or updated - and that need has occurred - the Constitution has an amendment process. After the Bill of Rights in 1791, the Constitution has been amended only 17 more times. Not bad. And no, the Constitution did not enshrine slavery as an accepted practice. If you actually read the document, you will see that slavery was merely tolerated, otherwise a lack of a compromise between the anti-slavery northern state delegates and the pro-slavery southern state delegates would most likely have sunk the whole 1787 Convention. See the 3/5 Compromise and the 1808 African slave trade compromise to see just how much opposition to slavery there really was.

Mr. Bobier continues:
In truth, [the Constitution never did belong to "We the People"]: the Declaration's pursuit of happiness was not meant to include people of color, women, and working-class citizens; all have been enfranchised, but only after years of struggle. Now the most dangerous threat to American democracy is the stubborn and misguided belief that we actually have one.
So in one breath, he says that everyone but white males was left out of the Declaration of Independence, but in the next breath, he admits that the problem has been rectified, although only after "years of struggle." Isn't that exactly the whole point? Through that trusty amendment process, those excluded groups gained their proper rights. And the way I figure, that struggle should make these groups appreciate their rights and political power all the more. And there Mr. Bobier goes, lamenting the democracy we supposedly no longer have, when we were never supposed to have one in the first place. Bravo, Sir.

After Mr. Bobier calls for restoring free speech by overturning the Supreme Court's recent decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, which... restored people's free speech, he then goes into some strange territory:
...the Senate and the presidency must be transformed as democratic institutions. The Senate is remarkably unrepresentative: California's 38 million people have equal representation with the 500,000 residents of Wyoming. The composition of the Senate, the vestige of an ancient compromise related to the perpetuation of slavery, threatens any legitimate claims this country has to a democracy.
Seriously, this column actually ran in a major metropolitan newspaper! So now he wants to abolish the United States Senate? Now, I will be the first one to step up and say that most of our current Senators should be put out to pasture, but that has much to do with the fact that since 1913, the United States Senate has been more in line with a democracy that Mr. Bobier so obviously desires, rather than the republic we are supposed to have. Until 1913, our Senators were chosen by the state legislatures; not by popular vote. The House of Representatives represented the American people, and the Senate represented the states. The 17th Amendment changed all that by requiring Senators to be chosen by popular vote as well. So you got a huge chunk of what you want, Mr. Bobier, and yet you still complain.

Mr. Bobier's next target is the Electoral College system:
Like the Senate, the Electoral College is a historical anachronism born of horse-trading and expediency. Since its electoral formula is based, in part, on the composition of the Senate, it too, is unquestionably anti-democratic (boy, he really hates the Senate)... For now, suffice it to say that, at a minimum, [the president] should be elected by a majority vote of the people.
Again, if the United States were a democracy, then it would make more sense to scrap the Electoral College. But we are not a democracy. We are not a contiguous, borderless country; we are a collection of semi-autonomous, sovereign states. As such, the results of the presidential election are counted by states, not by the sheer number of national votes. I often use the World Series as a method of explaining the Electoral College to my 8th Grade U.S. History students. In the World Series, it doesn't matter how many runs you score, it only matters how many games you win. It is entirely possible to have a team score many more overall runs than the other team, but still lose the series; only the number of victorious games count. I think you can see the parallels with the Electoral College system. Winning more overall games shows a winning consistency that simply scoring a bunch of points in one particular game does not. This also hold true in a presidential election. It wouldn't make sense for someone to be elected president just because he got more overall popular votes thanks to some freakishly populated state that overpowered the votes in the rest of the country. Using sheer numbers, Wyoming's population represents just .013% of California's. However, when you compare Wyoming's 3 Electoral College votes, that gives it a more competitive .054% of California's total of 55.

Mr. Bobier ends his column with one more call for democracy:
Free speech for all (by taking it away), a representative government (by abolishing the Senate), and a democratically elected president (by abolishing the Electoral College): "The world's greatest democracy" should settle for nothing less.
This whole column was one gigantic straw man argument, where Mr. Bobier set up the notion that we are supposed to be a democracy and then knocked down some of the key institutions that are keeping us from being that democracy that he says that we are supposed to be. I will leave Mr. Bobier, and you my dear readers, with a little bit of wisdom on that subject from some of those elitist white guys about whom Mr. Bobier seems to think so little.

James Madison said in Federalist Number 10:
Hence it is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths...
John Adams had this to say:
Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.
And leave it to Ben Franklin to make things really clear:
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!
And believe me, in a democracy, those wolves would also have voted to disarm the lamb! Let us thank God that we are still supposed to live in a republic, where our right to defend ourselves, and many other rights, belong to us because God gave them to us, and not because 50.1% of the people think we should or should not have them.

Good Day to You, Sir