Friday, April 30, 2010

Obama decides when you've had enough

The following should go down in the pantheon of Obama's idiotic, socialistic quotes - right along side his "spread the wealth around" nonsense that he stammered to Joe the Plumber.

Behold, as our Dear Leader tells us when enough salary is too much:

Does this standard apply to all the Wall Street bigwigs who have given hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to Obama's political campaigns? You know, the same bigwigs who Obama and his flunkies in the Congress are now bashing?

You know, I read recently that Obama made $5 million dollars last year. I have decided that this amount is beyond "enough"; it is too much. I think $3 million is enough. Give the remaining $2 million to me, Mr. President. It's only fair. C'mon, spread that wealth around!

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Supreme Court "crosses" the 9th Circuit

Good for the Supreme Court... five of the members, at least.

In 1934, some concerned citizens erected a 6-foot tall Latin cross on federal land in the Mojave desert in California as a monument to our soldiers who were killed in World War I.

This cross stood for decades, until 1999, when all of a sudden, someone couldn't accept a Christian cross standing on federal land. The mistaken notion of separation of church and state struck again as the mostly loony-toon 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared that this cross sitting in the middle of the desert constituted an establishment of religion. Things got so absurd, appeals courts ordered that the cross be covered with a big wooden box!

To make a long story short, the idea of the establishment clause of the First Amendment was to prevent Congress from favoring one Christian denomination over another. Hence, Congress could not decide that the Methodist Church would be the official church of the United States and other religions - say, the Quakers - could not be compelled to support the Methodist Church with their tax dollars.

Last time I checked, allowing a cross that was planted by private citizens to sit on federal land does not meet the standard established by the First Amendment.

I am happy to say that five of the nine justices of the Supreme Court agreed with me on April 28th of this year. Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, and Alito agreed that the cross should stay. On the other side, Ginsburg, Breyer, the "wise Latina" Sotomayor, and Stevens - in his final "F-You" to our nation - voted to scrap the cross.

On a personal note, I think we need more monuments to our World War I veterans. Did you know that of all the battles our military has fought in our nation's history, the bloodiest battle of all took place during World War I?

Think of three famous battles, all of which lasted between one and two months, that our troops fought in World War II, and the casualties our troops suffered in them:

The Battle of Iwo Jima, which took place in February and March of 1945 claimed the lives of just under 7,000 U.S. Marines. The Battle of Okinawa, which was fought from April to July 1945, killed about 12,500 American soldiers, sailors, and Marines. The most costly battle of World War II for the United States was the Battle of the Bulge, fought in December 1944 and January 1945, in which 19,000 American soldiers were killed.

As horrible were the casualties in those three battles, they don't come close to matching the number of American deaths that were suffered from September to November 1918 in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive at the end of World War I. In that 47-day battle, an astounding 26,300 American soldiers were killed. Another 96,000 were wounded.

Our reasons for entering World War I may have been seriously misguided, but that shouldn't stop us from better recognizing the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and the 26,300 American soldiers who died fighting in it. I think that's worth a cross in the desert.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I think you only mean "dissent" with which you agree

On my blogroll, you will find a link to the Sacramento Area Peace Action, which is a website run by our local leftists/statists, where they let everyone know what kind of marches, workshops, and events are coming up on the calendar. I have used it as a valuable resource to know when the good rallies are coming so I can be there with camera at the ready.

I check the SAPA website tonight, and found this upcoming event:
Thursday, Apr 29, 7pm, Film: The People Speak. Narrated by acclaimed historian Howard Zinn and based on his best-selling books, this film shows the rich history of dissent in our country and explores why it is so relevant and urgent today. Mike Pach, candidate for the Davis Food Co-op Board of Directors, will introduce the film. 345 L Street, Davis.
Dissent in our country is relevant and urgent, you say? Why do I have a feeling that your warm and fuzzy regards for dissent don't carry over to the "relevant" and "urgent" dissent of the Tea Party members who have been marching for over a year now? How about it SAPA? Does the dissent of the Tea Partiers qualify as being part of our "rich history of dissent"?

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Monday, April 26, 2010

What did they put in Gates's beer?

Remember Henry Louis Gates? He was the Harvard professor of African-American Studies who went off the deep end when two Cambridge, Massachusetts police officers detained him on suspicion of burglary when he attempted to break into his own house. Later, President Obama shot his mouth off about the incident, opining that the Cambridge police officers had "acted stupidly." All of this led to the famous "beer summit" held at the White House that featured Gates, the arresting officer, Obama, and Crazy Joe Biden.

Although my opinion of Henry Louis Gates is rather low on many matters, I have to give credit where credit is due when I say that he wrote one hell of an effective op-ed for the New York Times last week. Gates took on some of the myths and misunderstandings used by proponents of slavery reparations for today's black Americans.

Gates mentioned many of the same pieces of misinformation that I address with my students every year. Both the 7th grade World History and 8th grade U.S. History standards I teach address the issue of slavery, and many of my students are always shocked to find out that slavery wasn't just a white/black phenomenon, nor was its practice limited to just the United States. Many of these students are floored to discover that the vast majority of African slaves who were sent to the New World were first purchased from African slave owners. The European slave traders were merely buying Africans who had already been enslaved by their fellow Africans.

Gates addresses this and other pertinent points in his excellent piece. Here are just a few gems:
For centuries, Europeans in Africa kept close to their military and trading posts on the coast. Exploration of the interior, home to the bulk of Africans sold into bondage at the height of the slave trade, came only during the colonial conquests, which is why Henry Morton Stanley’s pursuit of Dr. David Livingstone in 1871 made for such compelling press: he was going where no (white) man had gone before...

Advocates of reparations for the descendants of those slaves generally ignore this untidy problem of the significant role that Africans played in the trade, choosing to believe the romanticized version that our ancestors were all kidnapped unawares by evil white men, like Kunta Kinte was in “Roots.” The truth, however, is much more complex: slavery was a business, highly organized and lucrative for European buyers and African sellers alike...

To be sure, the African role in the slave trade was greatly reduced after 1807, when abolitionists, first in Britain and then, a year later, in the United States, succeeded in banning the importation of slaves. Meanwhile, slaves continued to be bought and sold within the United States, and slavery as an institution would not be abolished until 1865. But the culpability of American plantation owners neither erases nor supplants that of the African slavers. In recent years, some African leaders have become more comfortable discussing this complicated past than African-Americans tend to be....
I highly suggest you read the whole of this informative and important column. There was, however, one position taken by Gates with which I disagreed. Right near the end, he wrote the following:
Fortunately, in President Obama, the child of an African and an American, we finally have a leader who is uniquely positioned to bridge the great reparations divide. He is uniquely placed to publicly attribute responsibility and culpability where they truly belong, to white people and black people, on both sides of the Atlantic, complicit alike in one of the greatest evils in the history of civilization. And reaching that understanding is a vital precursor to any just and lasting agreement on the divisive issue of slavery reparations.
What is humorous about that is that Obama's white side of the family had the last name of Dunham. With an old-school British name like that, it is highly plausible that this side of his family could have slave owners in its past. Meanwhile, the African side of his family comes from Kenya, which is in East Africa. American slaves were from West Africa. This adoption by Americans of African descent of East African cultural features such as the Swahili language and the east African-influenced pseudo-holiday Kwanzaa never made sense to me. It would be like someone of French ancestry adopting aspects of Lithuanian culture as part of his heritage - after all, both countries are from the same continent!

It would have been so easy for a man of Gates's stature and ideology to take the easy way out and put all the blame on the European contribution to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Instead, he stuck to his academic integrity and called it like it is. For this, Professor Gates has my respect regarding this matter.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

And now a word from our "post-racial" president

I swear, this man is making me more queasy by the day. Our Dear Leader, Barack Obama, has put out the clarion call for the racial minorities who elected him in 2008 to get off their duffs and come back to the polls for the 2010 mid-terms. What does that say about your constituency when you have to beg to them to not vote just once?

Now don't get me wrong, if minority voters want to vote for Barack Obama based on the color of his skin, that's their perogative - misguided though it is. However, I must ask you: What if a white politician sat there and asked his white constitutents to head back to the polls and pull the lever for his policies? Ya think some people might have a problem with that? Which is why no white politician would have made such a racially naked request in the first place. Ah, but our illustrious president has no problem going on YouTube and displaying his racial cynicism for everyone to see. Watch the entire 2 minute and 42 second video if you need something to make you drowsy, but please listen for the money quote at 1:58.

Remember, as a candidate for the presidency, Obama was the one who promised he would heal our divisions and bring us together. Now he is openly attempting to divide us along racial and gender lines. Yet another campaign promise dead and buried. Of course, looking at recent approval poll numbers, it isn't the loss of the votes of racial minorities that Obama should be worried about. He should be worrying about the loss of white independents who voted for him in 2008, and have left him in droves since then, while making numerous indications that they will punish the Dems in congress come November. Like I said recently, I can't wait until the evening of November 2, 2010! No matter what happens, it will be memorable.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Friday, April 23, 2010

If you enjoyed 1994, you're gonna LOVE 2010

Remember the voter anger in 1994 that kicked the Democrats out of their leadership positions in both house of Congress? Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal uses Pew research data to show just how angry the situation is now. You really need to read his whole article, but here is just a taste:
Here's the Pew blowout data:

In 1994 when the Democrats lost over 50 House seats at mid-term, the party's favorable rating was 62%, and for the Congress they controlled it was 53%. They still got killed. Now the party's favorable is 38% and Congress's approval is 25%. The Republicans' numbers are low, too, but they're not in charge.
I cannot wait to see what happens on November 2, 2010. No matter which ideology comes out on top, it is going to be a night to remember!

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Please, please watch this minute-and-half clip all the way to its primal conclusion.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

About those "racist" Tea Parties

Let's see what some of the attendees of last week's Tea Party in Washington D.C. had to say about the supposed racism that many on the left insist is part and parcel of the Tea Party movement. God Bless these people for following their principles and not being afraid to speak out. They have my utmost respect.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Guess what else causes global warming?

I checked my calendar; it's not April Fools Day. I checked the link; it's not a fake, funny news story from The Onion. This is the actual headline from a column in last Sunday's Los Angeles Times:

Why cleaner air could speed global warming

From what I can tell, they are dead serious folks. After decades of hand-wringing about our dirty air and smokestacks belching filth into our atmosphere, we are now told that we apparently need to bring all that back in the name of stopping the (non-existent) threat of human-caused global warming:
Cleaner air, one of the signature achievements of the U.S. environmental movement, is certainly worth celebrating. Scientists estimate that the U.S. Clean Air Act has cut a major air pollutant called sulfate aerosols, for example, by 30% to 50% since the 1980s, helping greatly reduce cases of asthma and other respiratory problems.

But even as industrialized and developing nations alike steadily reduce aerosol pollution -- caused primarily by burning coal -- climate scientists are beginning to understand just how much these tiny particles have helped keep the planet cool. A silent benefit of sulfates, in fact, is that they've been helpfully blocking sunlight from striking the Earth for many decades, by brightening clouds and expanding their coverage. Emerging science suggests that their underappreciated impact has been incredible....
Good God in Heaven, I think these global warming cultists are truly beginning to lose their already tenuous grip on reality. This is especially apparent when you read further into the column and find out what the author proposes be done:
In the face of severe climate risks, credible scientists are beginning to study geo-engineering -- tinkering with global systems to reduce warming directly. One scheme is to spew sulfates or other sun-blocking particles miles high in the stratosphere. If it worked, it would mimic the natural cooling effect of volcanoes, replacing the near-surface sulfate mask with a much higher one. But the possible side effects could be dire, including damage to the ozone layer. The potential geopolitical implications, like wars over the thermostat, could be devastating as well.
As a wag at the Newsbusters website (see my blogroll) so aptly put it, we have now reached the apex of "heads I win, tails you lose" global warming alarmism.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Monday, April 19, 2010

Please Babs, keep talking

Barbara "Call me Senator, don't call me Ma'am" Boxer has got to be the dumbest member of the U.S. Senate, if not the entire Congress.

When you are running for reelection in what is shaping up to be a tight race, perhaps you should not use your opponents as an example of what one should aspire to be.

Or... keep doing that. Whatever it takes for you to lose, just keep doing it... Ma'am.

Bonus question: What is with that weird giggle at the end of almost all of her sentences?

Extra Bonus question: Who are all these nitwits in the adoring crowd who would actually raise a Boxer sign and enthusiastically cheer this sorry excuse for a senator?

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, April 18, 2010

WaPo columnist attends D.C. Tea Party

He not only survived the experience, he actually came away with about as positive an attitude as a left-wing columnist from a left-wing newspaper is going to have:
I went to the "tea party" rally at the Washington Monument on Thursday to check out just how reactionary and potentially violent the movement truly was.

Answer: Not very.

Based on what I saw and heard, tea party members are not seething, ready-to-explode racists, as some liberal commentators have caricatured them.

Some are extremists and bigots, sure. The crowd was almost entirely white. I differ strenuously with the protesters on about 95 percent of the issues.

Nevertheless, on the whole, they struck me as passionate conservatives dedicated to working within the system rather than dangerous militia types or a revival of the Ku Klux Klan....
So, even though this Robert McCartney couldn't get through his piece without mentioning the whiteness of the crowd, he at least didn't go off the deep end with his description of the Tea Party that was held in Washington D.C. on Tax Day.

I was just wondering: if the supposed racism of a crowd is determined by which skin color overwhelmingly attends it, then I wonder if the same people who think the Tea Partiers are racists think the same thing about the so-called Million Man March that was held in D.C. about 15 years ago? Funny, I remember nothing but positive press coverage of that event at the time.

However, I will take a mark in the win column, and the more fair and balanced coverage this Washington Post columnist gave the D.C. Tea Party provides that mark.

It's a start, and certainly a refutation of the vicious craziness coming out of the mouths of the left-wing punditry on places like MSNBC.

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Do they have nothing better to do?

What is it with Congress and their weird obsession with Major League Baseball?

First, there were the hearings that Congress held regarding the use of steroids by MLB players. Now, wacko representative Henry Waxman (Democrat, naturally), who hails from my own dear state of California, wants to take on something of even more pressing concern than steroids.

After doing some sniffing around with those big ol' nostrils of his, Waxman has decided that it is of utmost importance that the use of chewing tobacco be banned in Major League Baseball. I kid you not:
Major League Baseball and the players’ union should “take action to end the use of smokeless tobacco by big league players,” said Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, at the start of a hearing today.
Aside from the fact that this is none of the business of Congress, even if it was, does not the U.S. Congress have more important matters to address? And if they actually have time to deal with an issue like this, then I think it is time to turn Congress into a part-time legislature. Seriously.

What is it Will Rodgers said? "No man's life, liberty or fortune is safe while our legislature is in session."

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I have my own children, thank you very much

One of the beliefs that is harbored by many non-teachers and certainly too many actual teachers is that we teachers must sacrifice all for our students.

You have probably seen those "Hero Teacher" movies where the selfless teacher goes into that inner-city school and saves the students however that teacher (usually a she) can manage. The teacher becomes a de facto parent, making visits to students' homes and tutoring the student on the teachers own time; the teacher reaches into her pocketbook and takes her students on field trips in order to give those students experiences that they would otherwise never have; the teacher dedicates her time and energy to her students to the point where her marriage deteriorates and eventually terminates.

And of course, we are constantly hearing from teachers who complain (or brag) about the hundreds of dollars that they spend out of their own pocket to buy supplies for their classroom that the district can't or won't provide.

What doesn't help in changing these entrenched opinions is when the education establishment itself calls for a continuation of this unrealistic altruism that is expected of teachers.

As I am not a member of the National Education Association/California Teachers Association, I instead belong to the Association of American Educators (AAE). The AAE sends me a monthly professional journal called Education Matters. I usually enjoy the articles in this journal, but every once in a while, our opinions clash. The front page article of the April 2010 issue provided one of these occasions.

The title of the article is rather intriguing: Teaching as Leadership: 6 traits of highly effective teachers. It was written by Jamie Davies O'Leary, who worked for a program called Teach For America (TFA).

While I certainly agreed with some of the writer's ideas of what makes an effective teacher, she lost me with trait #2:
Invest in students and their families. Teach For America doesn't have a monopoly on this; however, TFA may be unique in the extent to which its teachers will do nearly anything (dye their hair, shave their heads, pay for field trips out of their pockets) to motivate their pupils to learn.
I will even stipulate that I would be willing to dye my hair, and I already shave my head, but pay for a field trip out my own pocket? Not on your life!

What people sometimes forget is that the kids I teach are not my kids. In fact, I never refer to the kids I teach as "my kids." I make it a point to always refer to them as "my students." I already have kids; two of them. I am not going to take money from their mouths or their college funds in order to pay for a field trip for a bunch of my students who have their own parents or adult guardians at home who have their own responsibility to provide those experiences to their own kids.

I already know what some of you are thinking: "Oh, but some of these children come from deprived homes where they will never get the chance to have so many of these life-enriching experiences unless you, the teacher, provide them."

To that I say: Not my problem. Regarding those 180+ students that I teach every day; I am not their parent, and I am not their friend. I am their teacher. Teaching is a job. I go to my job, I perform it, and I go home to my family. And make no mistake, my family comes first. Isn't that the way it is supposed to be? And if the parent(s) or legal guardians of some of the students I teach choose not to put their family first, it sucks, but there isn't anything I can do about it, except to do my utmost to provide the most informative and quality classroom lessons I can. And when the end-of-day bell rings, the students go home, and they are no longer my legal or moral responsibility.

There are teachers at my school who I believe to be overinvolved in the lives of their students. They let the students come in their classrooms every day to eat lunch; they give their students rides home; they regularly attend their students' sports and band events.

I am not one of those teachers, and I absolutely refuse to feel guilty about it for even one second. I believe that not only can a teacher be effective without "investing" in the lives of his students and their families, it is actually imperative that a teacher maintain a professional distance from his students and their families, and leave parenting of the students to the parents.

Even though many teachers entered the teaching profession with expectations of saving the world, further investigation will show that that particular endeavor is not in the job description.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Monday, April 12, 2010

What ended the Great Depression?

I can tell you what didn't: The policies of Franklin Roosevelt. His New Deal disaster ensured that the Depression would just keep on going.

In an informative and refreshing article from the Wall Street Journal, history professor Burton Folsom has provided some valuable information on what exactly ended the Great Depression, and never mind the New Deal, Folsom even discounts the impact of World War II. I find this interesting, because I had been told my whole life that it was World War II that finally got us out of the Depression, but that never made any sense to me, because wasn't most of the economic activity from the war being funded with taxpayer money, just like the New Deal programs were funded by the taxpayer as well?

Folsom's article finally gives a clear cut answer: It wasn't World War II that got us out of the Depression; it was the decision of Congress not to return to the New Deal policies once the War had ended:
Congress—both chambers with Democratic majorities—responded by just saying "no." No to the whole New Deal revival: no federal program for health care, no full-employment act, only limited federal housing, and no increase in minimum wage or Social Security benefits.

Instead, Congress reduced taxes. Income tax rates were cut across the board. FDR's top marginal rate, 94% on all income over $200,000, was cut to 86.45%. The lowest rate was cut to 19% from 23%, and with a change in the amount of income exempt from taxation an estimated 12 million Americans were eliminated from the tax rolls entirely....
For the whole story, read the rest of the article. You won't be sorry.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Care to take a ride on a time machine?

Check out the city of San Francisco circa 1905 or 1906 - not long before the Great Quake. This is absolutely amazing footage was taken from an early camera mounted on the front of a cable car as it ambled up Market Street toward the Ferry Building.

The historian in me is drooling right now!

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Chanman gets a name change

In the almost five years I have been operating this blog, I have been posting under the name "Chanman" since day one. As much as it pains me to break tradition and also somewhat compromise my anonymity, I have found it necessary to begin posting under a new name.

This came about when I was recently invited by our local fishwrap, the Sacramento Bee, to become a partner in their new feature called Sacramento Connect. The Online department of the Bee was trying to think of new ways to connect their readers to further content on news stories and decided to enlist the help of local blogs to make it happen. Buckhorn Road was invited to be one of those initial blogs. The catch is that the Bee is uncomfortable with my posting under a completely anonymous name, especially since my content can be rather... controversial... at times.

After a little negotiation, we compromised that I don't have to use my full name, and I don't have to provide the name of the school at which I teach. I can live with that. My main concern is that I know my students Google me - they have told me as much. I figured that as long as I don't post under my full first and last name, then the chances of my students easily connecting me to this blog are much more slim. And if they do make the connection? What're ya gonna do? I never use the students' real names, I never mention the name of my school, and I have tenure.

Hence, Chanman is dead, long live W.R. Chandler.

This isn't unheard of. I remember when I first started reading Powerline blog (see blogroll on left), the posts were written by Big Trunk, Deacon, some other nonsensical nom de plume. Later, after these guys started becoming more well known and began guest hosting for Hugh Hewitt and what not, we learned that their names were John Hinderaker, Scott Johnson, and Paul Mirengoff. They have since dropped their old names entirely.

And while I'm at it, I figured that this would be a logical time to change my sign off as well. There is a quote from Thomas Jefferson that has always been a favorite of mine; I have it posted in my classroom. So from here on out, W.R. Chandler will sign off with:

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be. --Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Buckhorn Road finally discovers YouTube

After owning my Flip camera for almost two years, I finally figure out that it is compatible with YouTube. Don't be frightened; it's only me:

Good Day to You, Sir