Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tell me again why I live in California?

The title of the article says it all:

22 Facts About California That Make You Wonder Why Anyone Would Still Want To Live In That Hellhole Of A State

Some of those facts are rather regional, such as Oakland's police department having to disregard certain calls due to budget cuts. But I will list three more relevant facts to get you started:

#3 The state of California currently has the third highest state income tax in the nation: a 9.55% tax bracket at $47,055 and a 10.55% bracket at $1,000,000.

#4 California has the highest state sales tax rate in the nation by far at 8.25%. Indiana has the next highest at 7%.

#5 Residents of California pay the highest gasoline taxes (over 67 cents per gallon) in the United States.

The statists, environmentalists, and anti-business fanatics have taken this beautiful state and flushed it right down the toilet. It's a damn shame.

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

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'm thinking this guy got beaten up a lot when he was a kid

He probably also received quite a few head swirlies in the boys' bathroom toilets, along with quite a few wedgies as well. Not to mention, he probably deserved every one of them.

Washington Times reporter Kerry Pickett was attending a recent presser where the mayor of D.C. was explaining why he opposed any school voucher program being implemented in the District. Pickett's earlier questions to the mayor (that had already been asked when the following footage began) obviously riled some in attendance, especially the pasty-faced second guy who literally looks like he just crawled out from under a rock and pipes up in this video footage from Pickett, who had her camera rolling during the event.

Kudos to Pickett for keeping her cool, as it made this insufferable so-called man increasingly hostile and obnoxious. Watch if you can stand it:

When I took psychology in college, I learned about something called projection. That is where you take your psychological defects and attribute them to your opponent. The Left is quite adept at doing this, and this creature is no different.

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The planet they would save depends on which planet they are from

Brian Sussman, the morning talk host from conservative radio station KSFO in San Francisco (yes, there are conservatives in the Bay Area!) took a little trip down to Santa Cruz and went undercover at an Earth Day Fair being held in that hippie hot spot.

He went around with a video camera and asked some of the attendees a simple question:

"How can we save the planet?"

The answers, appearance, and vacant cult-like countenances of the interviewees is something to behold. I sat there in disbelief that people like this and people like myself actually live on the same planet.


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

Friday, April 15, 2011

TSA: Freedom of Speech, just watch what you say

So what helps TSA officials at the airport decide who to pick out of line for a goosing and who to let slide by?

Here's one indicator that will send up a red flag: Displays arrogance and verbally expresses contempt for the screening process.

CNN has a refreshingly candid story about this lesson in keeping your feelings about our all-powerful benevolent government to yourself if you know what's good for you.

Yup, uttering your disgust at watching your fellow passengers get the reach-around from TSA goons will likely get you a molestation session of your own.

Gosh, it makes me wonder what this six year-old girl said right before her lesson in the birds and the bees, courtesy of the TSA.

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

Tax Day TEA Party Rally - Cal Expo, Sacramento

Tomorrow (Saturday, April 16, 2011) from Noon to 3pm, there will be a TEA Party event being held at Cal Expo in Sacramento.

My son has a baseball game in the late morning, so I will be showing up late to the Party, but I do plan on attending. I will be wearing a gold t-shirt with a coiled DONT TREAD ON ME snake on the front and back. Don't be afraid to say howdy; I don't bite. However, I will most likely have both my kids with me, and they do bite. I'm just kidding. Not really.

For more information on tomorrow's rally, click here.

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

It's the most... wonderful tiiiime... of the yeeeeear!

It's April 15th, and you know what that means, kids: It's Tax Day!

If you haven't already done so, it's time to pull out those checkbooks and hand over your blood, sweat, and tears to Uncle Sugar!

And if you were "fortunate" enough to receive a refund this year, remember not to get too giddy. Keep in mind that you still paid a fortune in income taxes; the refund is just the amount that the feds overcharged you. So instead of you having access to that money, where it could have been sitting in an interest-bearing account, it was instead residing with the federal government, where they were enjoying your little interest-bearing loan for a few months! My wife and I took a good-sized chunk of our refund and bought silver with it, but we had to wait for the refund. If we had access to the money earlier, we could have bought the silver at a much lower price. As it is, silver has gone up by $8 and ounce since we purchased ours at the beginning of March.

It does my heart well to think of President Obama's deficit speech from the other day and think about what he and his fellow kleptocrats in the Congress want to do with our hard-earned money.

Today's festivities arrive just three days after this year's version of Tax Freedom Day, which is the date when we have worked long enough to earn the money to pay off our local, state, and federal taxes. Hope you enjoyed working all of January, February, March, and half of April just to pay off the Man.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Loretta Sanchez steps in it again

I have previously written about the racist ranting of California congresscritter Loretta Sanchez in the days leading up to the 2010 mid-terms when her seat was on the line with a challenge from California state legislator Van Tran. Sanchez ultimately prevailed in her reelection, but not before using racist scare tactics by going on a Spanish language television station and informing viewers that the Vietnamese were trying to take her Hispanic congressional seat.

Now Sanchez is back, and this time, she not only reinforces her racist bonafides, but she also proves how ignorant she is of the Constitution.

While being interviewed in friendly radio territory by ultra-statist host Stephanie Miller, Sanchez went off on her Republican colleagues, complaining that they think everything she wants to do is unconstitutional, and then making fun of them by joining in with Miller by speaking with a stereotypical southern redneck accent.

Listen for yourself:

Stay classy, Loretta.

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

California Teachers Association is planning on pulling a Wisconsin

Yet another reason that I am proud to proclaim that although I am a California teacher, I am not a member of the California Teachers Association (CTA). If I still was, my dues money would still be going to pay for what is scheduled to take place next month.

Although the infantile behavior by the public employee unions in Wisconsin was ultimately unsuccessful in achieving their goals, it seems that their California counterparts think they will prevail. Seeing as how California is in the grip of the political left in a way that Wisconsin is not, the CTA and their cohorts in the state's public employee unions are probably right.

The CTA has a plethora of activities planned for the week of May 9-13 of this year. To get a handle on all the fun, check out their online flyer that gives a day-by-day breakdown of their plans. My favorite is their quest for at least 300 volunteers to participate in a sit-in at California's capitol building in downtown Sacramento, with the sit-in scheduled to last throughout the week.

Seeing as how my teaching location is not too far from downtown, I will look into going down to the capitol after I get off work to see if I can record anything of note with my Flip camera.

I am a teacher in this state, and believe me, the budget affects me directly. That being said, I cannot agree with my fellow teachers and their precious union that there is not enough money in this state going toward education; there is plenty of money. The problem is that California's education budget is grossly misappropriated, mismanaged, and generally wasted away down countless bureaucratic black holes.

I will provide more information about this week-long event as it becomes available.

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

So do "the rich" pay their fair share?

President Obama made it very clear in his campaign speech last night that he thinks that "the rich" are getting off easy in our economy. He even said that they can afford to, "pay a little more."

So how much exactly are they paying right now? It just so happens that the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) has the breakdown of who pays what when comes to our income taxes:
  • The top 1 percent of taxpayers pay 38 percent of all the income taxes despite having just 20 percent of the income.
  • The top 10 percent of taxpayers pay 70 percent of the income tax while having just 46 percent of the income.
  • At the other end, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers pay just 2.7 percent of the income tax while having 13 percent of the income.
So percentage-wise, the people who are getting off the easiest are the people who Obama calls "the less fortunate."

My question is - and people like Obama never seem to have the answer - how much is enough? Exactly how much should we tax the rich? It is always described as, in the words of Obama, "a little more." How much more?

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

My thoughts on last night's Obama campaign speech

You bet I called it a campaign speech. Just days after our Dear Leader made it official that he is going for another four years in the 2012 election, he came out last night and gave a speech that had all the right class warfare buzzwords and appealed to the basest emotions of his silly supporters who seem to never stop thinking of how they can get something for nothing.

Since I can no longer bear to listen to that lisping, clipped way of speaking at which our Dear Leader excels, I went to the White House's website this morning where last night's campaign speech is posted and I read what Obama had to say - and boy did he say a lot!

Just a few fisking comments about his rhetoric, and any emphasis you see is mine. First he sets us up with something people on my side can agree with:
From our first days as a nation, we have put our faith in free markets and free enterprise as the engine of America’s wealth and prosperity. More than citizens of any other country, we are rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government.
Not bad except for using the word "faith." Having faith means you believe something is so, even though you have no evidence of it. Sorry, but that does not apply to our adherence to a free market system. But why quibble about a single word? After Obama sets us up with trying to find common ground with us conservative free-market people, he then slams down the big "But":
We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff may strike any one of us. “There but for the grace of God go I,” we say to ourselves. And so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, those with disabilities. We’re a better country because of these commitments. I’ll go further. We would not be a great country without those commitments.
First off, we don't "contribute" to these federal social programs; our so-called contributions are forcibly taken from us by the government simply because we draw a paycheck. As bad as the use of that word is, this paragraph ends with the end all, beat all of Obama's life philosophy, and the philosophy of so many statists of the political left. Obama thinks this country is great because of government, not because of our reputation as rugged individualists who exhibit self-reliance. What Obama failed to mention is that even though billions, if not trillions, of our tax dollars are forcibly taken from us in the name of government-mandated charity, we Americans are still the most generous people on the planet when it comes to giving to charity of our own free will. Imagine how much more we could give if our money wasn't first taken and squandered by an inefficient government.

My next point of contention comes when Obama said the following:
Now, for much of the last century, our nation found a way to afford these investments and priorities with the taxes paid by its citizens. As a country that values fairness, wealthier individuals have traditionally borne a greater share of this burden than the middle class or those less fortunate. Everybody pays, but the wealthier have borne a little more. This is not because we begrudge those who’ve done well -– we rightly celebrate their success. Instead, it’s a basic reflection of our belief that those who’ve benefited most from our way of life can afford to give back a little bit more. Moreover, this belief hasn’t hindered the success of those at the top of the income scale. They continue to do better and better with each passing year.
Seriously? Our nation found a way to afford these "investments"? Looking at our current national debt, I don't think that statement is very accurate, do you? And then Obama goes deep into the tried-and-true cliches of the class-warfare rhetoric. First he mentions "fairness." Apparently, it's not fair that some people make more than others. What, does he think a ditch digger should make the same income as a brain surgeon? Next he throws in the term "less fortunate." I am not a wealthy man, however my family and I live rather comfortably. This is not because I am simply "fortunate," - read "lucky." I worked my caboose off and risked my life in the military to gain the financial resources to pay for the opportunity to work my caboose off to finish a B.A, a teaching credential, and an M.A, so I could work my caboose off on a daily basis as I attempt to teach the next generation. All this did not happen from luck. It happened from conscious effort and preparation. After explaining all of that, it then makes no sense that if I give to charity to help those that Obama calls "less fortunate," I am not "giving back" to anyone. I am simply giving. To "give back," as Obama calls it, implies that I took something from someone else in the first place. I did no such thing, and I take offense when someone uses that term.

Now, we move to Obama's misinformation on the Bush tax cuts:
But after Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, we lost our way in the decade that followed. We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program -– but we didn’t pay for any of this new spending. Instead, we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts -– tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country; tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year over the next decade.
How exactly does government "pay for" a tax cut, unless the government believes that all our income is theirs to begin with, and the government is simply letting us keep part of what we make in income? Not to mention, the Bush tax cuts did not reduce revenues to the government, in fact, revenues from income taxes increased after the tax cuts were implemented. Unfortunately, what also increased at an even greater rate was government spending, which outstripped the rise in revenues. And yes you can "thank" George W. Bush for that, even though the spending increases on which he signed off absolutely pale in comparison to what Obama has approved. Bottom line folks - and our governments at all levels are loathe to tell you this - we don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.

It’s a vision [of the Republicans] that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit. Who are these 50 million Americans? Many are somebody’s grandparents -- may be one of yours -- who wouldn’t be able to afford nursing home care without Medicaid. Many are poor children. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down’s syndrome. Some of these kids with disabilities are -- the disabilities are so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the Americans we’d be telling to fend for themselves.

And worst of all, this is a vision that says even though Americans can’t afford to invest in education at current levels, or clean energy, even though we can’t afford to maintain our commitment on Medicare and Medicaid, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy. Think about that.
Everything that Obama just mentioned - and that I bolded - that he thinks it would be horrible if funding was reduced is unconstitutional for the federal government to fund. Those are all state functions. You can scream all you want about how the cow has already been let out of the barn on these federal functions, but I'm sorry, these are all state functions, not federal ones.

One last critique:
Indeed, to those in my own party, I say that if we truly believe in a progressive vision of our society, we have an obligation to prove that we can afford our commitments. If we believe the government can make a difference in people’s lives, we have the obligation to prove that it works -– by making government smarter, and leaner and more effective.
You want to know how the government can make a difference in people's lives? By getting out of the way, letting us live our lives without meddling in them, and only intervene if some people's actions are resulting in some sort of injury, be it physical or property.

There is plenty more of this speech I could dissect, but this post is already way too long. It just goes to show how off-base I believe our Dear Leader to be.

Hopefully, on January 20, 2013, we won't have to worry about speeches like these any longer.

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thomas Sowell's take on solving our budget crisis

I do love me some Thomas Sowell. In another outstanding column, he gives a criticism-proof plan of how to seriously reduce our deficits by cutting spending. When conservatives talk of cutting government spending, out come the usual canards from the Harry Reids and Nancy Pelosis of the world about how these spending cuts will kill children and the elderly.

Not so with Sowell's plan:
My plan would start by cutting off all government transfer payments to billionaires. Many, if not most, people are probably unaware that the government is handing out the taxpayers' money to billionaires. But agricultural subsidies go to a number of billionaires. Very little goes to the ordinary farmer.

Big corporations also get big bucks from the government, not only in agricultural subsidies but also in the name of "green" policies, in the name of "alternative energy" policies and in the name of whatever else will rationalize shoveling the taxpayers' money out the door to whomever the administration designates, for its own political reasons.

The usual political counterattacks against spending cuts will not work against this new kind of spending-cut approach. How many heart-rending stories can the media run about billionaires who have lost their handouts from the taxpayers? How many tears will be shed if General Motors gets dumped off the gravy train?

It would also be eye-opening to many people to discover how much government money is going into subsidizing all sorts of things that have nothing to do with helping "the poor" or protecting the public. This would include government-subsidized insurance for posh and pricey coastal resorts, located too dangerously close to the ocean for a private insurance company to risk insuring them.

This approach would not only circumvent the sob stories, it would also circumvent the ideological battles over whether to cut off money to Planned Parenthood or National Public Radio.

The money to be saved by cutting off agricultural subsidies to the wealthy and the big corporations is vastly greater than the money to be saved by cutting off Planned Parenthood or National Public Radio, much as they both deserve to be cut off....

By all means, read the rest!

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

California Federation of Teachers sets its priorities by passing a resolution supporting a cop-killer

I have to admit, I am more familiar with the work of the California Teachers Association (CTA), but apparently, there is also a California Federation of Teachers (CFT). During their recent annual convention, the CFT got down to business and approved a resolution where they expressed their support for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the perennial death row inmate who in 1982 was convicted and sentenced to death for the brutal 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

In the almost 30 years since Mumia Abu-Jamal (born Wesley Cook) was sentenced to death, he has become a cultish cause celebre for the Loony Left. People like these morons at the CFT are convinced that Mumia Abu Jamal is innocent of his crime and that he is a political prisoner.

Just check out their resolution:
Resolution 19
Reaffirm support for death row journalist
Mumia Abu-Jama

Whereas, Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial in Philadelphia was characterized by illegal suppression of evidence, police coercion, illegal exclusion of black jurors, and unfair and unconstitutional rulings by
the judge; and
Whereas, the trial judge, Albert Sabo, has been quoted in a sworn statement to have vowed at the time of the trial to help the prosecution ‘fry the n-----;’ and
Whereas, subsequent appellate rulings have bent the law out of shape to sustain the guilty verdict of that trial; and
Whereas, the appellate courts have also refused to consider strong evidence of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s innocence that has emerged continuously in the years subsequent to the trial; and
Whereas, the U.S. Supreme Court, in denying relief to Mumia Abu-Jamal, ignored key precedents such as its own ruling in Batson v Kentucky, which was supposed to prevent exclusion of jurors on the basis of race; and
Whereas, Mumia Abu-Jamal still is incarcerated on Death Row while awaiting a decision from the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals that could remove a stay on his execution; and
Whereas, Mumia Abu-Jamal has for decades as a journalist fought courageously against racism and police brutality and for the human rights of all people and has taken strong stands in support of working people involved in labor struggles and in support of well-funded, quality, public education;
Whereas, the continued unjust incarceration of Mumia Abu-Jamal represents a threat to the civil rights of all people; and
Whereas, the CFT has at a previous Convention voiced its support for justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the California Federation of Teachers reaffirm its support and demand that the courts consider the evidence of innocence of Mumia Abu-Jamal; and
Be it further resolved, that the CFT introduce and advocate on behalf of a resolution at the 2012 AFT Convention reaffirming the AFT’s support for justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal should he not have been cleared of charges and released by that time.
If you just read that and nothing else, you might think that this poor guy got railroaded. But then of course, there is the other side of the story. These BS myths put forward by the CST and the rest of the "Free Mumia" crowd are thoroughly debunked here in case you are interested.

In the meantime, while our educational system is falling down in ruins around us, this is what our teachers are focusing on. It is crap like this that sometimes makes me ashamed to tell people I am a teacher.

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

The War Between the States: 150 years later

On this day 150 years ago - April 12, 1861 - South Carolina artillerymen opened fire on Fort Sumter, a federal installation on an island in Charleston Harbor. The War Between the States was underway.

Almost exactly 4 years later - April 9, 1865 - Robert E. Lee would surrender to Ulysses S. Grant, thus effectively ending the war. In that four-year period, 620,000 Americans - from both North and South - would perish. That number is roughly equal to the number of Americans killed in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, combined. It boggles the mind.

The outcome of the War Between the States was an incredibly strengthened federal government that showed once and for all that it was superior to the individual states, even though it was the states that had created the federal government - Frankenstein's monster turning on the good doctor, if you will. By the way, you notice that I call this conflict "The War Between the States." I do this because as easy as it is to simply refer to it as the Civil War, technically, it was no such thing. A true civil war is when two factions are fighting for control of the national government. However, the Confederates were not trying to march into Washington D.C. and take over the federal government - in fact quite the opposite. They were trying to break away from the United States. You could even more accurately call this war the War for Southern Independence. Even if you disagree with the cause for which the South was fighting for independence, that doesn't change the fact that this was the outcome for which they were fighting.

I freely acknowledge that the situation in North America would have been detestable if the Confederacy had prevailed in this war - slavery would have most likely lasted a couple more decades, for instance - but as fashionable as it may be to unquestionably cheer a Union victory, an honest student of history must acknowledge that with the victory going to the federal leviathan, the damage done to our individual freedoms across this entire nation cannot be overlooked.

From the moment the War ended, the term "states rights" has been considered a code word for slavery and racism. We see this today when individual states attempt to push back against the mandates our federal government places upon them, and the first thing we hear from the federal government-loving statists out there is that it is racist for a state to assert its rights, even if the issue - like health care - has nothing to do with race.

The War Between the States came down to an impossible choice between the excesses of the individual southern states, and the excesses of the federal government. The difference however is that if an individual state becomes too oppressive, one can always move to a less-oppressive state, or the other states can put pressure on the offending state(s). However, when the federal government reigns over us all, there is nowhere to run.

The Confederacy learned this lesson the hard way.

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

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Obama insults townhall questioners

I don't know how to more delicately say this: our president is an asshole... at least to the people from whom he took questions during a townhall meeting in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, April 6th.

Seriously, listen how he talks down to and insults these people:

The man is an embarrassment.

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

Wanna feel *this* small and meaningless?

Watch this simulation of what would happen if a 300 mile-wide asteroid hit the earth. Apparently, it happened before, as recently as 4 billion years ago.

If 10 minutes is too much for you, the first 2 or 3 minutes will give you plenty to ponder.


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

Obvious question of the day about the impending government "shutdown"

So the U.S. government is scheduled to shut down come this Friday at Midnight if an agreement between the House, Senate, and President is not reached.

If you read a little deeper, you will find that the government will not actually shut down. What will happen is that non-essential federal employees will be sent home.

According to this article from Reuters, these employees are not to do any work from home. They are not to use government-owned Blackberries, laptops, or any other such equipment.

You probably know where this is going, so go there I will. If these employees are so non-essential that they can go home and not work, and the government will run without them, then why do we need them?

The Reuters article pegs at 800,000 the number of non-essential employees who would be sent home as a result of the so-called government shutdown.

I am not a math whiz, but I took that number and multiplied it by $81,258. That represents the average salary of a federal employee that I found cited at

The resulting dollar amount is $65,006,400,000. If that many numerals confuse you, we are talking just over $65 billion. It is a rather small amount in the Age of Obama, where our latest annual deficit is $1.65 trillion, but keep in mind that once upon a time, way back during the G.W. Bush presidency, $65 billion represented about one-half to one-third of one of his budget deficits. I figure $65 billion would be as good place as any to start cutting our deficits and slash spending. Let these non-essential employees find a job out there where they would be found to be essential.

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

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

American military abides by Sharia law in Afghanistan by "encouraging" our female soldiers to wear the hijab

Take a good long look at that picture. Those are American servicewomen wearing one of the main symbols of Muslim oppression of women. To read more on this travesty, I highly suggest you take a look at this article from the Daily Caller (see blogroll).

While our female soldiers are merely "encouraged" to wear this headpiece when appropriate, I can see the writing on the wall. Having served 12 years in the U.S. Army, I can assure you that when were "encouraged" to do something, it meant, "do it."

Cultural and mysoginistic issues aside, if I was walking around Afghanistan, where bullets or IEDs could erupt at any second, I would much rather be wearing my kevlar brain bucket than a thin piece of cloth. On so many levels, this is a case of sacrificing our female soldiers on the altar of political correctness, including having many of them there in the first place. We still have a rule against putting our women into combat, however, the military has found ways around that rule by not putting our female soldiers into combat units like infantry and artillery, but putting them into designated non-combat units that are then sent into combat situations.

Disagree with me about female roles in our military if you like, but I can't see how you can defend forcing our female soldiers into the Islamic hijab.

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

California's high speed rail boondoggle just got more boondoggle-y

I shook my head with amazed disgust back in 2008 when the voters of California approved a $10 billion dollar bond measure that would fund the construction of a high-speed rail system in our late, great state. Keep in mind that this $10 billion dollars was really nothing more than a down payment. Once construction was approved, then the real costs would start to pile up.

According to the National Center for Policy Analysis and the Reason Foundation, the projected cost for the San Francisco to Los Angeles line has already risen from $33B to $43B, with the $7B spur to Sacramento most likely not even being built now. An S.F-L.A ticket that was formerly estimated to be $55 is now projected to cost $105.

And my favorite statistic: The California High-Speed Rail Authority estimates that ridership would be as high as 117 million passengers a year. To put this overblown number into perspective, the Amtrak line that serves the corridor connecting Boston-New York-Washington D.C. serves just 3 million passengers a year, and the entire Amtrak system around the entire country serves just 27 million.

That's OK, though. California is in great financial shape. We can afford these losses. /sarc

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

The New Untouchables

When I hear the word "untouchables," I think of two things: the 1987 movie starring Kevin Costner and Sean Connery, and the term for people in India who lived at the bottom of the caste system.

Now I have a third association with this word, and it's not a good one.

One morning a couple of weeks ago, a colleague of mine - a science teacher - came down to my end of the building and shot the breeze with me a bit. He has lived all over the world, and he likes to come to my classroom to ogle my 8' x 13' map on my wall. We were discussing the rapid deterioration of the behavior of many of our students. He told me that one cause of our behavior problems was from a hard-core group of students about whom he talked with the VP in charge of discipline. The VP told him that this small group of students - about 5 of them - were "untouchable." Word had come down from on high (the District Office, or D.O.) that they couldn't be expelled, they couldn't be suspended, they could not be disciplined in any meaningful way. When I asked why, my colleague didn't know exactly. Our best guess was that these students are special ed, and it is written into their Individual Education Plan (IEP) that their bad behavior is caused by their disability.

Fast forward to my bus duty after school today. As I was standing in the big parking area where the buses were lined up, I kept hearing a student in one of the buses yell to another student somewhere, "So-and-so is a bitch!" Then he yelled it again.

Over the eons, teachers have learned that if we want to catch a student doing something he shouldn't, you must first act like you don't see or hear what he is up to, but all the while, you are watching him out of the corner of your eye, waiting to get the visual and/or audio proof you need to nail him. That is what I did in this situation. When he yelled it a second time, I didn't snap my head in his direction and fruitlessly scan the bus windows; instead, I nonchalantly went about my business, but turned my body slightly toward the bus, so I could watch it out of the corner of my eye. Sure enough, a few seconds later, the kid leaned out the window and again let loose with, "So-and-so is a bitch," and then he punctuated this statement with an obscene flickering of his tongue. That was all I needed. I ran up to the bus driver and told her I needed to remove a student. I went to the window at which he was sitting and motioned for him to leave the bus. I then went to the bus door and waited for the kid to come out. Upon his exit, the kid pulled the old, "What did I do?" routine. I told him, "You can't act like that on the bus; you will have to call someone for a ride home."

As we walked toward the admin building, I asked the kid his name, and he said in a faux Hispanic accent, "You can call me 'Chinchito,'" or something to that effect. I asked him two more times what his name was, but all he would say was, "Don't worry about it." I told him that refusing to identify yourself to a staff member would get you a referral and a possible suspension, to which he replied, "I don't care, I hate this school." As we got closer to the admin building, the kid started getting more agitated and began telling me that he was going to go home and wasn't going to follow me to the VP's office. "Besides," he said, "It's after school; you can't do anything to me anyway." So many of our students don't realize that they are under our rules until they get home from school.

The whole walk from the bus to the VP's office, this kid seemed totally and utterly unconcerned about any consequences for what he did on the bus, how he was talking to me, or even what would happen to him when he had to call home to get a ride because he got kicked off the bus. I was soon to find out the source of his non-concern.

We reached the VP's office, and I told the kid to have a seat outside the door. The VP was standing right there, and when he saw who I brought in, he got the strangest look on his face. I told the VP, "I removed him from the bus for doing some nasty stuff, but I don't know who he is because he refused to identify himself."

The VP motioned me to our copy room, and what he told me about made my jaw drop. Rumor was about to become reality. The VP told me, "His name is ******. I can't do anything to him. His IEP says that the way he acts is because of his disability, so once he reaches ten days of suspension for the school year, we can't suspend him anymore. He reached ten days quite a while ago." I interrupted and said, "Is he one of these 'untouchables' that I have heard about?" The VP nodded his head, and I said, "So the rumor is true?" The VP said, "Yep, the rumor is true. The D.O. says we can't touch him."

People ask what is wrong with our educational system in this country? Right there is Exhibit A. When people find out I am a teacher, they often ask me what can be done to fix our educational system, and my primary answer is that we need to return to the concept that to receive a public education is a privilege, not a right.

Teachers, and more importantly, other students must endure disruptive, disrespectful, and dysfunctional kids like this in our classrooms because according to the California Education Code, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, this kid is entitled to a free and appropriate public education. Entitled, mind you. That must change.

I don't give a rip if this kid's behavior is caused by some disability. That means little to the students, the parents of the other students, and staff who must endure his disruptions. If his behavior is so out-of-control that he has become an "untouchable," then that means he needs to go elsewhere, to a special school that is designed to take on kids like him.

Instead, the situation with which we are currently presented regarding kids like this, and others like him, is sheer and utter madness. Only politicians and bureaucrats - especially ones who have never spent any significant time in your typical public school - could come up with a byzantine educational system such as ours.

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

Friday, April 01, 2011

Republicans help out Obama for his first 2012 campaign ad

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has given us a little slice of genius. You have to admit, the antics of Obama (and Biden) make for quite a target-rich environment. Oops, can I still say, "target"?

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