Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Parent-Teacher Conference, or Fine? You Decide.

In Texas, where parents can be fined if their children are excessively truant, a legislator has proposed a law that would fine parents for missing parent-teacher conferences.

I understand the sentiment here, I really do. But the negatives that are addressed in this story--well, I don't have any answers to them.

"Sometimes I think they think we're out to get them. When you're talking about fining and pressing criminal charges, it kind of reflects that attitude."

Carlson said she used to teach at a school in Irving with many children of illegal immigrants.

"They were afraid to come to parent-teacher conferences because they were almost afraid of the authority," of the school district, she said.

Some parents have job or [transportation] issues that make it difficult to keep appointments, Reed said.

"If the idea is to create communication, to send them into the criminal justice system ... is going to do nothing but have a negative impact. It would make parents more scared of the school."

So, what would be a good way to get parents involved in their child's education at school?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Soldiers Respond To Criticism of the War

A few days ago I quoted from an email I received from an American in Baghdad. In that same post I explained how and why the excessive, and for the most part unearned, criticism of the war can lead to disaster.

Now hear what a few soldiers in Iraq think--you know, the "troops" you lefties (DQTP) support--in their own words, courtesy of Instapundit, YouTube, and NBC.

Streaking Is *So* 70s

I'm just going to give you the highlights from's report. If you laugh as much as I did when reading them, go read the whole story.

• Student rubs body with oil and runs naked through school cafeteria, police say
• Police used a stun gun on him, but the student got up and kept running
• Frightened students huddled in a corner
• Taylor Killian, 18, is in jail, charged with inducing panic and other offenses

OK, I can't resist. Here's a little teaser:

Taylor Killian, 18, had rubbed his body with grapeseed oil to keep from being caught, and got up after the first time he was shocked to continue running toward a group of frightened students huddled in a corner at Westerville North High School, Lt. Jeff Gaylor said.

"That prank went a little farther than he intended, I guess," Gaylor said.

You think?

What Is The Best Way To Combat Racial and Ethnic Stereotypes at Universities?

Why, encourage them, of course!

Read what's going on, and then see if you can accept this closing paragraph:

Done properly, "diversity training" at universities could help contribute to a a vast improvement over the days when "out groups" were relegated to the margins of university life. Done foolishly, it reinforces stereotypes, relies on caricatures of reality, and encourages both a victim mentality among some, and resentment for being tagged as "the enemy" based solely on immutable status among others. Unfortunately, it seems to be done foolishly quite often.

Many of the comments in the linked post are, as the Brits would say, spot on.

President Bush *Finally* Acknowledges Global Warming


Here are some interesting tidbits about the lack of credible people arguing against global warming:

Allow me to present a few names. Massachusetts Institute of Technollogy's Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology Richard S. Lindzen complained to the Boston Globe about the "shrill alarmism" of Gore's flic. Neil Frank, who was considered authoritative when he was the director of the National Hurricane Center, told the Washington Post that global warming is "a hoax." Hurricane expert William Gray of Colorado State University believes the Earth will start to cool within 10 years.

University of Virginia professor emeritus Fred Singer' co-authored a book," Unstoppable Global Warming -- Every 1,500 Years," that argues that global warming is not human-induced but based on a solar cycle. Last year, 60 Canadian scientists signed a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in which they argued that there is no consensus among climate scientists.

By Debra Saunders, whose writing I respect immensely.

Update, 1/31/07: One person I do not respect is John Travolta. He wants me to do something about global warming while he trots around the world in his own private Boeing 707.

Update #2, 1/31/07: Global warming is a paper tiger?

My rule of thumb is that anyone who demands the other side not be allowed to be heard, is the wrong side.

Update #3, 2/2/07: Instapundit says it best:

THE BIG GLOBAL WARMING PUSH IS UNDERWAY: I won't take it seriously until they ban private jets and stretch limos.

No, seriously. A Gulfstream III releases 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide an hour. How can we demand "sacrifice" from ordinary Americans when our leaders -- including those who call for the sacrifice -- are flying in jets like this? If commercial first-class isn't good enough, they should stay home.

Update #4, 2/2/07: OK, Neal Boortz says it even better than Instapundit--but isn't as pithy. (Right now I can't get a direct Permalink, but go here and it's the first post on February 2nd).


Update #5, 2/3/07: More about scientists who don't agree with the UN report.

Update #6, 2/3/07: I don't think there's anything in this Instapundit post with which I disagree. For those of you who attend the Church of Global Warming, read it and see if it seems reasonable to you.

Update #7, 2/3/07: What would be so bad if the world got a little bit warmer?

Update #8, 2/7/07: I wonder what Nancy Pelosi's take on global warming is?

Update #9, 2/7/07: It just gets better with Nancy!

Schools Should Butt Out of College Students' Off-Campus Behaviors

Private schools, I guess, are selling a product (their name) and, since they're not agents of the state, can regulate student conduct however they want. Students pay to go there and agree to live by the rules. BYU has some pretty stringent behavioral rules for students, as does St. Mary's College of California. I mention those two only because I myself have talked to students at those schools about their requirements.

State schools, however, need to focus on teaching and forget about social engineering. Some students are going to be idiots and do idiotic things. Sometimes their off-campus behavior will offend others. Rather than trying to punish the entirely legal but boorish behavior of some dolts, schools would better serve their students if they taught the offended students the simple fact that no one has a right not to be offended.

Recently, two public schools have entered the spotlight because they're taking action against students who held theme parties in exceedingly poor taste on Dr. King's birthday holiday. Read here about Tarleton State University in Texas, and here about Clemson University.

Idiotic behavior, inappropriateness, and "insensitivity" should merit nothing more than an official nod to individual freedoms and an expression distancing the school from the particular incident in question. Weeping apologies and NAACP witch hunts merely advance a victimhood culture that is, or at least should be, distinctly un-American. Social opprobrium, not official sanction, is the appropriate remedy here.

Update, 2/11/07: Here's a private school doing the same thing.

The Proverbial Stopped Clock

Just as a stopped clock is right twice a day, the ACLU, I am pleased to report, is on the correct side on not one but two cases that I found whilst surfing the internet today.

In the first, a school had a stupid school rule that wasn't applied consistently or fairly.

A school district that initially refused to publish a yearbook photo showing a senior dressed in chain mail and holding a sword has agreed to print it after all, lawyers for both sides said Monday...

Agin, 17, dressed in costume for his senior photo. He belongs to the Society for Creative Anachronism, a group of 35,000 dues-paying members who stage mock battles, learn arts like calligraphy and conduct demonstrations in shopping malls.

Portsmouth High officials claimed the photo violated the school's "zero-tolerance" policy for weapons. Agin and his mother sued with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, saying the decision infringed his right to free speech.

This isn't a free speech issue. You have no right to free speech in the school yearbook. I will concede that the rule here is stupid--no one could be harmed by a picture of a sword--but the school could have any stupid rule it wants with regards to the yearbook. My school required us seniors to go to a portrait studio downtown and get our yearbook pictures taken--boys in tuxes, girls in gowns, no argument, the decision is final. Stupid rules aren't unlawful, they're just stupid.

What makes this case a loser for the school district, to the tune of $2,000 in ACLU legal fees, is that the stupid rule wasn't consistently applied.

School officials can regulate the yearbook's content, the commissioner said, but rules were being enforced unfairly, since past editions of the yearbook contain photos of toy guns, arrows and a knife. The school band's banner depicts a rifle-toting patriot.

They deserved to lose that one. I'm glad the kid fought it.

In the second story, a school in New Jersey is going to give urinalysis tests to students on Monday morning to identify those that were drinking alcohol over the weekend. Students who test as having had alcohol will be counseled and their parents notified.

Long-time readers of Right On The Left Coast will know that this is one of my hot buttons--it's none of the school's business what students do on their own time. The school needs to be teaching them to read, write, calculate, and think; let their parents determine if their other activities are beyond the pale. Not that I advocate student drinking, but had my high school done this, they'd have ended up calling my mother. She'd have asked if I was causing any trouble at school, they'd have said no; she'd have asked if I was maintaining my 4.00 unweighted GPA, they'd have said yes; she'd have told them to mind their own business. She might even have told them that she bought the alcohol for me, as did several parents of students I hung out with. Many of these students ended up graduating at the top of our class, wearing California Scholarship Federation stoles and going off to prestigious universities. You'd be hard pressed to find any disciplinary records on any of them.

So butt out. Schools have enough to do trying to teach academic content, and should only try to play parent, social worker, and/or confidant in exceptional cases and not as the rule.

But in the New Jersey story, school officials are excited about conducting this testing. In steps the ACLU.

"Medical care and treatment are issues between parents and children," said Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.

Except, of course, where abortions are concerned. And then, since we can't be sure the parents will make the right decision (kill the baby!), we ensure (at least in California) that medical care and treatment regarding abortions are issues between children and anyone but their parents (e.g., the school, the doctor, the courts, the teachers union).

Because of this inconsistency, I can't give ACLU two full points here. I'll only give half credit for the second story, so for these two situations the ACLU gets 1-1/2 points out of 2. That's 75%, a C.

Considering my views on the ACLU, a C is probably as good as they're ever going to get from me.

Monday, January 29, 2007

University of California Still Tries To Flout the Law

I love it when the title of an article is crystal clear while at the same time politically incorrect:

Elites to Anti-Affirmative-Action Voters: Drop Dead

In 1996, Californians voted to ban race and gender preferences in government and education. Ten years later, the chancellor of the state-funded University of California at Berkeley, Robert Birgeneau, announced a new Vice Chancellorship for Equity and Inclusion, charged with making Berkeley more “inclusive” and “less hostile” to “underrepresented minority . . . groups.” This move is just the latest expression of the University of California’s unrelenting resistance to the 1996 voter initiative, in every way possible short of patent violation. Stasi apparatchiks disappeared more meekly after the Soviet Empire’s collapse than California’s race commissars have retreated after voters tried to oust their preference regime.

The last decade in California shows the power, and the limitations, of the crusade for a colorblind America led by Ward Connerly, architect of the 1996 anti-preference initiative. Without a doubt, Proposition 209, as that measure is called, has cut the use of race quotas in the Golden State’s government. But it has also exposed the contempt of the elites, above all in education, for the popular will. “Diversity”—meaning socially engineered racial proportionality (boldface mine--Darren)—is now the only official ideology of the education behemoth, and California shows what happens when that ideology comes into conflict with the law.

Those are just the first two paragraphs, and it gets better from there. Go read the whole thing.

Was 9/11 Really That Bad?

When that's the title of an opinion piece in the LA Times, you know it's going to be bad.

The author argues that the US has overreacted to the 9/11 attacks, and that by historical standards, they were small indeed. In fact,

But it is no disrespect to the victims of 9/11, or to the men and women of our armed forces, to say that, by the standards of past wars, the war against terrorism has so far inflicted a very small human cost on the United States...Even if one counts our dead in Iraq and Afghanistan as casualties of the war against terrorism, which brings us to about 6,500, we should remember that roughly the same number of Americans die every two months in automobile accidents.

The conclusion, then, is that war was not the appropriate response to this 9/11 pinprick. Bull-bungabunga.

Here's the conclusion:

To fight them effectively, we need coolness, resolve and stamina. But we also need to overcome long habit and remind ourselves that not every enemy is in fact a threat to our existence.

Obviously our author is rather struthious. He, like other anti-war (anti-Bush, really) lefties, doesn't listen when the enemy speaks. He chooses to believe what he wants about them, rather than believe what they say. Isn't it the height of cultural arrogance to impose your own cultural standards and beliefs on someone else, in total contravention to what they clearly say? Our enemy has stated that they are a threat to our existence. Our enemy demonstrates cunning, patience, and tenacity. They use our own legal and cultural systems against us (such as our political correctness, our respect for diversity, our culture of victimhood), and operate on a time schedule that is long-term when compared to what we are used to in our own society. We see what large numbers of Muslims are doing in the Netherlands, France, and Britain--if you don't, you should read Little Green Footballs (see blogroll at left) more often, as he links directly to respected news sources.

Our enemy has told us what they want; people like the author of the linked opinion post should listen--and then get on board with killing them. Because keeping your head in the sand only does two things: keeps you from acknowledging and reacting to the menace, and keeps your butt pointed in the air so the enemy can kick it.

Writing Logically and Intelligently

There is a dramatic difference between business writing, which is generally formal, and informal communication. It's often important to know when one mode or the other is the more appropriate. It's exceedingly important to know which mode to use if you're an MBA student.

As part of his interviews with M.B.A. students, Darren Whissen, a financial-services recruiter in California, provides an executive summary of a fictitious company and asks them to write about 500 words recommending whether to invest in the business. At worst, he receives "sub-seventh-grade-level" responses with spelling and grammar errors. "More often than not," he says, "I find M.B.A. writing samples have a casual tone lacking the professionalism necessary to communicate with sophisticated investors. I have found that many seemingly qualified candidates are unable to write even the simplest of arguments. No matter how strong one's financial model is, if one cannot write a logical, compelling story, then investors are going to look elsewhere. And in my business, that means death...

I've also seen other recent articles in the business media complaining about the lack of articulateness of college graduates, including MBAs. It's been suggested that MBA programs need to pay more attention to teaching effective writing.

Seems to me that an MBA program is way too late to be worrying about teaching effective writing, which should be learned at the undergraduate level if not in high school. So should at least the basics of effective presentation. How about making sure that these attributes are present to a reasonable degree before someone is admitted to an MBA program?

Before being admitted? Really?


Good thing I'm not submitting this particular post to a journal for publication!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Variations On a Joke's Theme

The best things in life are Chinese food, a Japanese wife and American citizenship. The worst things in life are Japanese food, an American wife and Chinese citizenship.

Heaven is where the Americans govern, the Germans are the mechanics, the British are the police, and the Italians are the lovers. Hell is where the Italians govern, the British are the mechanics, the Germans are the police, and the Americans are the lovers.

Heaven is where the police are English, the cooks French, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian, and everything is run by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the cooks English, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss and everything is run by the Italians.

Another View of Asians At Elite Universities

This post was written by an Asian who apparently has attended and taught at some prestigious universities. At first glance I thought this was going to be another "affirmative action helps blacks/Hispanics at the expense of Asians" article. Instead, it's a "we've got to have affirmative action for blacks/Hispanics, but not at the expense of Asians" article.

This sentence stuck out to me:

The ultimate goal is diversity in our colleges and graduate schools.

Why, exactly, is that our ultimate goal, and not educating the best and brightest?

Anyway, these comments were, I think, the best retorts to that view:

When folks use race as a proxy for diversity -- in what sense are they defining diversity?


"What is specifically hurting Asian Americans is alleged discrimination in favor of white applicants."

Again, it always comes down to white people being racist.

"Being white does not add to the diversity of the Princeton student body."

...because us white people are all the same.

Pretty much, yeah. We all look alike, too.

Capitalists, Socialists, and Anti-War Protesters

Bono wants you to pay more in taxes while he shelters his income from taxes.

Revenue from the Vertigo tour is funneled through companies that are mostly registered in Ireland and structured to minimize taxes. ``U2 are arch-capitalists -- arch-capitalists -- but it looks as if they're not,'' says Jim Aiken, a music promoter who helped stage U2 concerts in Ireland during the 1980s and 1990s.

Socialists John Kerry and John Edwards seem to enjoy their wealth--heck, Edwards lives in the largest and most expensive house in his county!

John Kerry was married to one of the richest people in the country,and John Edwards was a good ideological pick.No word yet on Edwards or Kerry voluntarily paying more in taxes to bridge the "gap" between the two Americas.Who ever said socialism was a movement of the downtrodden?

Actually, there was word. Massachusetts has a provision in which taxpayers can opt to pay a slightly higher tax rate--just check a block on their income tax return. Kerry chose not to.

And now the anti-war protesters, who are in reality either anti-American or anti-Bush.

None of these people are (sic) anti-war. They're only anti-America. There are about 20 wars going on in the world today and the only one that any leftist anywhere can get excited about is whatever America is doing to protect itself.

I don't heart leftists of any stripe, even when they use capitalism to make their stupid points.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Is This A Legitimate Reason To Fire A Teacher?

YONKERS, N.Y. - A teacher has been barred from classes for having his seventh-grade students draw male genitalia on the blackboard during health class, school officials say...

Pierorazio said the teacher opened a lesson on human anatomy and sexuality by asking students in a class of boys and girls to volunteer to come to the board to draw male anatomy.

I'll admit, at first glance it sounds kind of weird to me, but anything can sound weird or inappropriate when taken out of context. The superintendent is going to ask board members to fire the teacher.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I've Always Liked Deb Saunders' Writing

And this column is no exception:

On climate change, Bush has learned that when it comes to greenhouse gas, hot air rises. President Clinton did next to nothing about automobile fuel-efficiency standards and never even tried to ratify the Kyoto global warming pact, but he said he supported Kyoto -- and that gave him big environmental cred.

Schwarzenegger signed a bill to cut California greenhouse gases by 25 percent in 2020, 10 years after he is out of office -- and that makes him a green governor. Bush already has increased fuel-efficiency standards for light trucks and SUVs, more than Clinton ever did, but critics only notice that he rejected Kyoto. Now he's promising big gasoline reductions in the future, too.

Big promises sell better than small but actual remedies. One big difference between Bush and Schwarzenegger: The more Schwarzenegger tries to do his job -- balance the state budget and reform state government -- the worse he fares in the polls. Bush, on the other hand, has sunk in voter approval precisely because voters feel that he failed as an executive on Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. By doing his job better, Bush should be more popular. Tuesday night, Bush showed that he has the courage of his convictions -- while Democratic leaders do not.

Is that awesome, or what? Go read the whole thing.

Teacher Speaks His Mind About A Stupid Form

Fortunately I've only had to fill out one of these once. The teacher who wrote the post has had it up to here, apparently.

Distractions Cause Teen Accidents

I have a student who rolled the family auto recently. Fortunately he wasn't hurt at all, but it's still scary to hear about. We had a student who died in a rather gruesome car accident shortly before graduation a couple of years ago. It wasn't a happy campus. I can't imagine what his parents went through.

I read this today and one statistic was rather sobering:

But teens reported a host of other in-car distractions that researchers say help make traffic accidents the No. 1 killer of U.S. teens, with a fatality rate four times higher than drivers aged 25-69, based on miles driven. About 5,600 teens died in traffic accidents in 2005, and about 7,500 were driving cars involved in fatal accidents.

That's more dead teenagers in one year than we've lost soldiers in Iraq in 4 years. Quagmire indeed.

But wait, there's more:

Researchers found that one teenage passenger with a teen driver doubles the risk of a fatal crash, while the risk is five times higher when two or more teens ride along. Most states have laws restricting passengers when teens drive, but 15 states do not.

Nearly 90 percent of teens reported seeing peers drive while talking on cell phones and more than half spotted drivers using hand-held games, listening devices or sending text messages.


Giving Teachers A Bad Name

The hosts of the talk radio show I listen to on my drive to work were discussing a new law here in the People's Republic. San Francisco now requires that every company in the city offer sick leave to employees, even to part-time or temporary employees. Every 30 hrs worked gives 1 hr of sick time.

The first caller was a teacher--I have no reason to doubt she was for real, especially when she (correctly) stated that the law grants us 10 sick days a year. Paraphrasing here, but recalling as accurately as I can: "We call those mental health days. Sometimes we stay home and grade papers, but other times I do things like go get my hair done or get my nails done. Sometimes we're just too mentally drained to go to work."

Sure, because no one else in any other profession gets "mentally drained". Way to make us look good. It's one thing to do what she does, it's entirely different to get on a radio show with thousands of listeners and say something that makes all of us look bad.

I'm a proponent of "paid time off". Employees (of any type of organization) would have x days a year to take off however they wish. If they're healthy employees, they get lots of vacation time. If they're sickly, then they don't enjoy their time off so much. As a teacher I get 10 sick days a year, but I can take a certain number of them as "personal necessity" days. Why the distinction? Why compel me to save them up till retirement--and then increase my retirement pay?! Doesn't sound like the bosses are thinking this process through all the way.

New Orleans Needs More Teachers

Let me see if I understand this correctly. A doomed and corrupt city reelects an incompetent mayor--and they want people like me to flock there to teach? Oh heyall no!

Wanted: Idealistic teachers looking for a Peace Corps-style adventure in a city in distress.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I received the following from an email list of which I am a member. I've received permission to to post this message here, leaving out any identifying names. The person who wrote it currently works in Baghdad but is not a civilian contractor or a member of the US military. I don't know that I have her permission to identify her employer, so I won't.

First, and with all due respect, you (not directed at me--Darren) are wrong about this. Very, very wrong. Come join me in Baghdad and work with my Iraq staff of Shia, Sunni, Kurd and Christian for even a week and then tell me there is not such thing as the Iraqi people. They are Iraqis - they have extremely strong ties to their religious groups as is part of their culture but they all firmly believe they are Iraqi. The majority of Iraqis are not extremists. This is SO important to understand. They don't have to agree with the insurgents but to disagree without the weapons to defend yourself is certain death in this town.

Second, the attacks in Baghdad have increased because the troops are coming. 20K Americans and 6 Brigades of trained Iraqi troops. The insurgent groups are striking hard while they can - before the neighborhoods are cut off and cleared out. Even Sadr has ended is boycott of the government and come back to the table.

Third, this is no puppet government. It was democratically elected by the Iraqi people and the historic significance of that fact should not be belittled. Get that idea out of your head. Are they strongly influenced by the US? Yes. We expected too much of them to think they could hit the ground running in 2006. There is corruption - no argument, but there is corruption in EVERY government. Deal with it.

Lastly, 90% of the violence in Iraq occurs in only 4 of the 18 provinces. Only 4. What do you think is happening in the rest of the country? Progress. What would be fool hardy would be to pull out now. You are believing the media hype. A stable, democratic Iraq is very much a possible future reality, but we have to stay the course.

There's one person's view, a view I agree with (for the most part) from a person whose views I respect even when I don't agree with them.

Of course I watched the State of the Union speech last night. I think it would have been more accurate for the President to say, "Our nation is strong, but the state of our union is weak." Honestly, genuinely, truly, I think there are people in Congress who want us to lose this war. This isn't the war we wanted, but it is the war we've got, and some want us to lose it so they can gain political points.

I now fear that Iraq can become like Vietnam--but not in the way the lefties claim. General Giap later wrote that he was ready to sue for peace after the Tet '68 Offensive. Make no mistake about it--we were surprised by that offensive, but reacted quickly and violently and stacked up Viet Cong bodies like cord wood. In fact, Tet was such a military blunder for the VC that the Cong ceased being an effective fighting force; after Tet '68, the North Vietnamese Army was our principal foe. Giap knew they had lost and was ready to sue for peace--until he saw the American media describe America's defeat. At that point his plan changed from winning to not losing; he would simply wait the Americans out.

Even then we tried to fight a politically correct war. We allowed the enemy sanctuary in Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam. We forbad our aircraft to fire unless fired upon, the proverbial Catch 22. We kept trying to negotiate a peace instead of win a war.

Still, our soldiers fought on. And they did an exceptional job. Even fighting with one arm tied behind their back as I described above, they still punished the enemy. The NVA was abused. Let's not forget--our last fighting men left Vietnam in 1973, but it wasn't for two more years, in 1975, that the North Vietnamese could mount the invasion that finished off South Vietnam. That's a pretty bad thrashing they must have taken, not to be able to strike decisively at the South for two years.

And what happened after we abandoned the South Vietnamese--while the Soviets continued to assist the North? The history is well-known, there's no need for me to detail it here. The history of communism is consistent, if nothing else--executions and reeducation camps top the list, with numbers of victims rising well into the millions. With Vietnam you can add the "boat people", those who fled on anything that would float to get to freedom. I've heard the stories firsthand, I've worked with boat people. They knew what they were leaving behind, and were willing to risk perilous days on rickety boats just for a chance to exchange their lot for freedom. How many people died on the boats? How many were "reeducated"? How many were tortured? The Left doesn't like to answer those questions; those are "unfortunate events" that occur whenever there's a "change in government". Euphemisms are the stock of the Left.

This brings us back to Iraq. It's difficult to fight a real war today--war is ugly, it's brutal, and free people don't have much of a stomach for seeing such brutality on tv. We try to fight it nicely, all civilized-like, while our enemies slice throats and put the video on YouTube. Just like in Vietnam, our news media serve us a daily dish of "the war is lost", "it's hopeless", "we're losing". Like General Giap, our enemy sees this and knows that they need only hold on long enough to outlast the American public. We could win, but many in Congress want us to withdraw--just as we did in Vietnam. We see the difficulties that exist today; is there any reason to believe the strategic situation will be any better, for us or for the Iraqis, if we abandon them like we abandoned the South Vietnamese?

I think of World War II, and wonder how today's media would have dealt with that war. After getting hit at Pearl Harbor we got lucky at Midway. After that we bled our way across the Pacific, but at least we had a few patches of sand in the ocean to show for our efforts. Let's look at the European Theater.

1941: Japanese conduct secret attack on US Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Why are we fighting the Germans?

1942: U-boats sink allied shipping at will. This is unwinnable; we need to withdraw and let the Brits deal with this themselves. The Nazis didn't have anything to do with Pearl Harbor.

1942: US 8th Air Force begins daylight bombing raids over continental Europe. Casualties are atrocious, reaching as high as 25% on any single mission. This expenditure of American blood and treasure is too costly and isn't stopping the Nazis at all. That's because the Nazis aren't fighting for a country, they're fighting for an ideology--and you can't fight an ideology militarily. We need to negotiate--or let the British fight this fight. We should "redeploy" our forces to North America and defend our borders. We've already lost more men than we lost at Pearl Harbor--a "grim milestone".

1942: Americans land in Algeria and Morocco--and are attacked by French forces, our supposed allies. This is an obvious failure of diplomacy, showing what a political lightweight Roosevelt is. He should stop smirking with that cigar in his mouth.

1943: Our first encounter with the Germans, at the Kasserine Pass, goes horribly for the Americans. Our men are outgunned, out-trained, and out-generaled. There's no reason for us to be fighting in North Africa. It's time to discuss impeaching Roosevelt.

1943: Still bombing the Germans, but they're still fighting. How much is this war costing us each day? How many bombers are we losing? How many schools could we build with the money spent on the bombers that are shot out of the sky each day?

1943: American amphibious landing at Anzio, near Rome, results in heavy US casualties. We're no closer to defeating the Germans. Italy is a quagmire.

1944: We're still bombing the Germans, and they're still fighting back--harder than ever. How many more airplanes must we lose before we realize this is a lost cause? We keep sending and losing more aircraft and men, with no end in sight. Congress is abdicating its oversight of the executive branch.

1944: D-Day invasion results in an allied toehold on continental Europe. It took two weeks for allied forces to achieve the objectives that they planned to reach on the first day. Obviously Roosevelt and Eisenhower had no plan for dealing with German opposition. Normandy is a quagmire. What companies are getting rich off this war?

1944: Allied movement across France requires carpet bombing. How many innocent French have to die for Roosevelt's war? We bomb their houses, destroy their towns--and we expect them to welcome us as liberators? Republicans should press for a non-binding resolution to demand the President stop sending more troops to "liberate" Europe.

1944: Germans counterattack through Belgium in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. They achieved complete surprise over the allies, whose losses were heavy. Where was allied intelligence? How come they had no idea the Germans were coming? How could the Germans mass such forces right under allied noses and the allies not know it? Republicans in Congress should consider hearings on the conduct of the war. Europe is a quagmire.

1945: Germans surrender. Roosevelt betrays Eastern Europe to the communists. Wait, we like the communists. But Roosevelt is a warmonger. How should we cover this?

I've said it before: our Fourth Estate is a Fifth Column. It gives aid and comfort to our enemies. It didn't do so in WWII, but General Giap himself said it did in Vietnam, and it's doing so in Iraq today.

Is it too early to wonder, and fear, if night is descending on civilization itself?

Update, 1/25/07: I don't usually read the Huffington Post, but this post ties in with what I've written above. The comments on that post indicate why I don't usually read the Huffington Post.

103rd Carnival of Education

This week's is back home at the Education Wonks.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Principal Arrested and Charged With Obstruction of Justice

Cheerleaders and booze--that's the makin's of a good story.

Update, 1/27/07: But wait, there's more--including sex with national guardsmen!

Two Years Ago Today...

...I started this blog. It's my blogiversary. Go here to see my first post.

It didn't take me long to get fired up--my second post was a letter to the NEA, and my third was a letter to the CTA.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Two Environmental Stories

1. The UN (did you hear that, lefties? The U-freakin'-N!) says that cow farts are the world's greatest threat to climate, forests, and wildlife. Didn't we hear this story in the 80s, and wasn't it poo-poo'd (pardon the pun) then?

2. Local pollution will destroy some pre-Aztec stone murals in "10, 20 or 100 years". Unless Mexico implements stricter pollution controls, this will continue. Acid rain was a topic of discussion in the US Northeast back in the early 80s, a topic that was sometimes discussed at West Point (with it's granite-like buildings).

Make Him Well, Doc--So We Can Hang Him

The January 22nd Communique from EIA (see blogroll at left) has the wildly entertaining story about a Tennessee teacher who wants out of the union. OK, so the story isn't so entertaining, but the final paragraph merits a belly laugh:

Just When I Thought That I Was Out, They Pull Me Back In. Nashville teacher Kristy Carr decided she no longer wished to be a member of the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association (MNEA). She sent official notice of her resignation to MNEA and the school district, both received on or about October 25, 2006.

But on November 8, Carr received a letter signed by MNEA President Jamye Merritt, informing her that she could not resign until the period April 1-May 31, 2007, because that is the window established in the MNEA bylaws and, Merritt wrote, “As President of the Association, it is my responsibility to uphold the Bylaws.”

Carr sued, and considering the mammoth amount of legal precedent, is likely to prevail.

What is the union’s position? That Carr violated the bylaws? What is the punishment for that? Expulsion.

Race Relations at Princeton

Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web Today links to a moderately amusing story about yet another race-related brouhaha at yet another university . I'm feeling somewhat under the weather and would have just read this and moved on had the closing sentence not been such a 2x4 right between the eyes:

According to the "diversity" ethos that prevails at America's elite universities, then, it is racist to make fun of people for their race but perfectly fine to discriminate on that basis.

Go read the Best of the Web link for the article and fantastic commentary.

(Thanks for the tip, MikeAT.)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Worst Colleges

Via RightWingNation (see blogroll at left) I read Radar's (who?) article about the worst colleges in America. My son came in several times and asked what was so funny. Well, snippets like this, about Bennington College in Vermont, are what's so funny:

School Pride: As one Students Review poster puts it, "Unless you value an extremely isolated environment with the lamest town in the world around you, self-absorbed pretentious hippies, a very 'white' homogenous campus, and a lack of a wide range of courses in one discipline, do not come to Bennington College."

Fun Fact: The number of bird species on campus (121) is more than the number of black (10), Hispanic (18), international (19), Asian (14), and American Indian (1) students combined.

Tuition: $43,980

I guess not every leftie school in the country values "diversity". There are no Republicans there.

How about this one, about Liberty University (huh?):

Thanks to a strictly enforced schoolwide ban on alcohol, dancing, tobacco, R-rated movies, and horseplay, students at the ironically named college don't seem to enjoy much of a social life.

Fun Fact: Kudos to Falwell for naming the fervently anti-gay university's football team the Flames.

Even though the write-ups were clearly not written by someone with a right-of-center political slant, they're still enjoyable and eye-opening.

A Professor's Hypocrisy

How many times must I say it (and with over 1700 blog posts so far, I've said it a lot): hypocrisy is a strong suit of the Left.

Populism, Progressives, and Poverty

Mike Rosen has an excellent column on the topic. Here are some tidbits that really spoke to me:

This is a major issue for "progressives" (when you hear that word, think "socialists")...

By populism, I mean the exploitation of the uninformed, angry impulses and unfiltered passions of the masses. That anger and resentment has historically been directed at the usual villains and cardboard stereotypes: bankers, insurance companies, "big pharma" (that means drug companies), agri-business, "the military-industrial complex," free trade, free markets and, of course, "the rich." This mentality feeds on conspiracy theories and simplistic fantasies about the way the world works. It seeks to impale the minority of "haves" on the pitchforks of the more numerous "have nots." When you do the political calculus, it can seem like a seductive winning formula for many politicians...

Politicians and the U.S. government have long been in the business of redistributing income through progressive taxation (the top 2 percent of Americans pay two-thirds of all income taxes; the bottom 50 percent pay only 3 percent) on the one hand, and transfer payments to the poor and middle class on the other...

Individual incomes are determined objectively in the marketplace. When politicians or labor unions don't like the results, they meddle in people's lives and businesses in pursuit of power while invoking the name of "social justice," today's name for egalitarianism. Excessive concentration of income and wealth can destroy a society politically. We're nowhere near that point. Excessive redistribution of income and wealth - without regard for talent and productivity - can destroy a society economically. That's the more tangible danger.

Can I get an "Amen!"?

Harvard's Bastion of Sexism

According to an apparent militant feminist, Harvard's landscape architecture department is a "bastion of sexism".

Martha Schwartz, 56, complained that the department has never had a tenured female professor in its 106 years.

The time frame notwithstanding--since our culture didn't allow women in such jobs for a healthy part of those 106 years--maybe Ms. Schwartz has a point. I think we should check for tenured male conservatives in the Wymyn's Studies Department, in any of the fuzzy social sciences (that excepts econ), the English Department, the...

I Have A Future As A Tutor In Hong Kong

Sex appeal has become a hot selling point, just as important as teaching ability and knowledge, in Hong Kong's hypercompetitive world of cram schools — or "bou zap se" in the local Cantonese dialect...

"When our rivals are equally good at predicting the exam questions, we need a new ground to outrun them," Ng said. "And that is the tutor's appearance."

I don't think I'd be comfortable being marketed as a sex object, as nothing more than a piece of meat. That's why this tutoring gig appeals to me so much--I'd be marketed as a smart piece of meat.

Rent A Protester To Protest Capitalism For You

Renting protesters. Renting protesters. The mind boggles.

Reminds me of the union which hired non-union, unemployed people--at less than union wages!--to protest outside a Wal*Mart near Las Vegas. Also reminds me of the Wisconsin story about the group that paid sub-minimum wages to canvassers whose job it was to convince voters to, among other things, support an increase in the minimum wage!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"Elite" Professors Post Morphs Into A Free Markets Post

I'm not sure which I enjoyed more: this post about whether or not to take the beliefs of "elite" professors at more than face value, or the comment string that post generated.

We can define "elite professors" as those at elite institutions or those who are well-known by people outside of their fields (e.g. Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky). Here's the foundation of the post:

Having thus spent 60% of my life hanging out with elite professors, I feel confident in saying that: If all I know about a view was that professors held it more, and elite professors even more so, I would be inclined to be skeptical of that view.


When it comes to matters outside their area of expertise, such as whether God exists...elite faculty deserve no more deference than any other smart people... Outside their areas of expertise (and sometimes even inside it), their beliefs tend to be colored by their ideology and by the need to conform to the expectations of their colleagues.

From there the post sways into liberalism in academia, specifically the anti-free market views of much of the professoriate. And while this next comment is unsupported by evidence in the post, I believe it to be true:

Now the free market, buttressed by public education, has raised more people out of poverty than all government poverty and redistributive programs together have done.

Add Wal*Mart to that list as well.

The entire post is better written than the two excerpts above, but those snips summarize the views contained rather nicely. The comment thread, though, is spectacular. I genuinely enjoyed the reference to the "philosopher-king" (translate: benevolent dictator) needed to oversee liberals' desired government control over the products of society.

The concepts addressed in the linked post tie in nicely with those mentioned in my post on the so-called Fairness Doctrine.

Friday, January 19, 2007

At Least One Student at the University of Michigan Understands

Via Discriminations (see blogroll at left) comes this link:

Diversity at the University should extend to all parts of campus

To the Daily:
With all the debate over the passage of Proposal 2, I don't understand how we can demand such diversity only in the student body. If we need diversity in the classroom, then shouldn't we expect it on the football field or basketball court? Our football and basketball teams are composed primarily of black players. Whites are the minority on the basketball court, and there are no Asians at all. Is this because black people are some of the most talented football and basketball players? Yes.

Recruiters look for the best talent, and that is also what admissions officers should do. If we started filling our sports teams with students who are racially diverse but not quite as talented, Michigan would lose its reputation as one of the most competitive and best athletic programs in the nation.

Diversity is not measured by race or gender, but by thoughts, experiences and talents. I have learned about diversity from my friends who went to private schools, had different religious backgrounds or grew up in different states, which shows why diversity should have nothing to do with skin color.

Sabrina Valenti
LSA junior

Sabrina gets it.

"Why I Joined"

The following is from the Myspace page of an army lieutenant in Iraq. I'm going to boldface some key points.

Why I Joined:

This question has been asked of me so many times in so many different contexts that I thought it would be best if I wrote my reasons for joining the Army on my page for all to see. First, the more accurate question is why I volunteered to go to Iraq. After all, I joined the Army a week after we declared war on Saddam's government with the intention of going to Iraq. Now, after years of training and preparation, I am finally here.

Much has changed in the last three years. The criminal Ba'ath regime has been replaced by an insurgency fueled by Iraq's neighbors who hope to partition Iraq for their own ends. This is coupled with the ever present transnational militant Islamist movement which has seized upon Iraq What was once a paralyzed state of fear is now the staging ground for one of the largest transformations of power and ideology the Middle East has experienced since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Thanks to Iran, Syria, and other enlightened local actors, this transformation will be plagued by interregional hatred and genocide. And I am now in the center of this. as the greatest way to kill Americans, along with anyone else they happen to be standing near.

Is this why I joined?

Yes. Much has been said about America's intentions in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and seeking to establish a new state based upon political representation and individual rights. Many have framed the paradigm through which they view the conflict around one-word explanations such as "oil" or "terrorism," favoring the one which best serves their political persuasion. I did the same thing, and anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception (though there are countless like me).

I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day "humanists" who claim to possess a genuine concern for human beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow their fellow "global citizens" to suffer under the most hideous state apparatuses and conditions. Their excuses used to be my excuses. When asked why we shouldn't confront the Ba'ath party, the Taliban or the various other tyrannies throughout this world, my answers would allude to vague notions of cultural tolerance (forcing women to wear a veil and stay indoors is such a quaint cultural tradition), the sanctity of national sovereignty (how eager we internationalists are to throw up borders to defend dictatorships!) or even a creeping suspicion of America's intentions. When all else failed, I would retreat to my fragile moral ecosystem that years of living in peace and liberty had provided me. I would write off war because civilian casualties were guaranteed, or temporary alliances with illiberal forces would be made, or tank fuel was toxic for the environment. My fellow "humanists" and I would relish contently in our self righteous declaration of opposition against all military campaigns against dictatorships, congratulating one another for refusing to taint that aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday. Others would point to America's historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran, which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time, eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America's initial engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as the ultimate argument against America's moral crusade.

And maybe it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are.

So that is why I joined. In the time it took for you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny. Every tool of philosophical advancement and communication that we use to develop our opinions about this war are denied to countless human beings on this planet, many of whom live under the regimes that have, in my opinion, been legitimately targeted for destruction. Some have allowed their resentment of the President to stir silent applause for setbacks in Iraq. Others have ironically decried the war because it has tied up our forces and prevented them from confronting criminal regimes in Sudan, Uganda, and elsewhere.

I simply decided that the time for candid discussions of the oppressed was over, and I joined.

In digesting this posting, please remember that America's commitment to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his sons existed before the current administration and would exist into our future children's lives had we not acted. Please remember that the problems that plague Iraq today were set in motion centuries ago and were up until now held back by the most cruel of cages. Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed. Don't overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war but don't cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck"

Mark Daily

Good luck won't serve him anymore. He died this past Monday, leaving behind his wife, his parents, and his siblings. Obviously he doesn't think his life was given in a failed venture, or even a wrong one.

For those of you who think our military is full of blood-thirsty automatons, I say two things to you:

1. you have no idea what you're talking about, and

2. Mark Daily isn't unique in his thoughts.

Hat tip to Hugh Hewitt for mentioning, on his radio show today, Lt. Daily's post.

Washington State To "Stay The Course" With Fuzzy Math

Washington State is run by libs, and no doubt those libs decry every move the President makes regarding Iraq as "stay the course"--said in a condescending way. While we haven't won a decisive victory in Iraq, a clear victory along the lines of World War II, there are enough counterexamples to the "quagmire" and doom and gloom cries that calling the venture a failure would be exceedingly premature (not to mention anti-American). Yet, libs stumble over themselves to state how we've done nothing right in Iraq, that it's a lost cause, that we've failed.

Why is it, then, that in the face of overwhelming evidence of failure, the libs in Washington State want to "stay the course" regarding their state math standards and the assessment of student achievement thereof?

Why? Because libs are as dogmatic as they accuse conservatives of being.

Oregon to Raise Graduation Requirements

My opinion--and it's only my opinion, completely unsupported by any evidence--is that the problem with graduation requirements is at the low end of the spectrum, not the high end. Kids who can't pass today's requirements aren't going to be able to pass tomorrow's. What does Oregon gain by this?

Those who graduate will definitely have a better education, and that's a good thing. But what about those at the bottom? I wonder what Oregon's real drop-out rate is, and how they're addressing that with these new requirements.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

HS Dropout Steals Identity, Gets Into Ivy League

There are so many plot twists in this story, you just have to go read the whole thing yourself. Here's the part that caught my eye:

There is no evidence that Reed used the false ID and some other false ID's for illegal financial gain. But authorities are investigating relationships she had with at least four officer candidates at West Point and Annapolis, as well as money transfers she received from outside the country. Officials want to make sure she's not a spy.

The Fairness Doctrine

For the last few days, the Democrats and other assorted liberals have been having a field day. Ever since a Congressman a few days ago suggested a return to the Fairness Doctrine, which required stations to give "equal time" to opposing viewpoints on "controversial" topics, conservatives have been aghast. The topic has been discussed on every talk radio show I've listened to. Why is that? Because talk radio is the only communication medium dominated by conservatives! And you can bet that any new so-called Fairness Doctrine would only apply to talk radio, and not to ABC/NBC/CBS/CNN/NYT/Time/etc. Here's a great post on the topic.

Honestly, do the libs really want to get into viewpoint discrimination? Would this Supreme Court really stand for it?

I hope not.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

This Week's Carnival of Education

It's posted at a union-loving site, but go check it out anyway =)

Another University With Issues

I've written about Gallaudet University before. Students create trouble and blame everyone but themselves. Out comes a milquetoast report that assigns a little bit of blame to everyone involved, so no one group's feelings need be hurt.

Some universities need to hold their students to a higher standard of behavior than they currently do. Getting physical with police officers or anyone else is not protected by the First Amendment, and universities and society in general need to do a better job of teaching that.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

UC Santa Cruz Has Some Issues

Officials at the University of California at Santa Cruz have indefinitely postponed a job fair scheduled for this month, citing concerns for the safety of military recruiters who might attend and other frequent targets of student protesters, the Associated Press reported.

This is what you get when you teach crap and allow students to act like crap--you lose any semblance of civilized society, and then in the name of public safety everyone loses out. The companies who now don't have a Santa Cruz job fair at which to recruit can, with a little extra money and effort, go recruit somewhere else. Enjoy the drive from Santa Cruz, you student morons, while you go track those companies down. You've shot yourselves in the foot, demonstrating your own hatred in the process.

The administration at UCSC should really consider whether or not this is the kind of school they want Santa Cruz to be.

Monday, January 15, 2007

"Oh snap" Is Right

When you're supposed to turn in your (take-home) final exam on CD, make sure you don't give your professor your CD containing child pornography by mistake.

I'll bet he is "Sorry for the mix up."

The Joke's On The Environmentalists links to a Penn and Teller clip showing environmentalist nutjobs signing a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide--used by styrofoam companies, pesticide companies, nuclear companies, etc. It's pretty entertaining. Some asked no questions; as soon as they were asked to sign the petition to ban the substance, they did. Scary.

They probably look up to these twits, too.

His Dream, Our Dream

It's been over 40 years since Dr. King delivered his speech from the Lincoln Memorial. Read it, every word of it, and see how far we've come.

There are those who say we haven't come far enough. I don't agree with that, especially from a standpoint of law. In King's day there existed the segregationists, today we have the preferentialists; both are wrong, as they're opposite sides of the same coin. Look at the specifics Dr. King mentioned in his speech, look at our country today, and tell me what you see.

There are those who will point out statistics about black Americans--this is not the place for that, and this is not the day. It is for us today to rededicate ourselves to the principles of which Dr. King spoke, and which were enshrined a year later in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is for us today to give thanks that men such as Dr. King have walked among us.

He started that walk on this day, in 1929.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The View From My Kitchen Window

This picture was taken a week and a half ago, but it doesn't look so different today.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Don't Insult Your Teacher

RightWingProf comments lavishly on a post I linked to, and added this tidbit, which should every student should hear:

Please don't ask insulting questions. The ones I'm thinking of are "Is this going to be on the test?" or "Did we do anything important on Friday?" or "Do you care about grammar on the paper?" or some variant. If it's covered in class or the materials, it's fair game for the test. As for the second, well, no, we though instead of having class, we'd have a big party because you weren't there. And no, we don't care about your grammar! Turn in a big steaming pile of rhinoceros doo-doo! We don't care! Why would we care?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Patriotism and History In Our Schools

There was a time when everyone just accepted that patriotism and pro-American sentiments would be taught in our public schools. Even the NEA published a pamphlet during WWII that talked about "the Japs"--they were certainly on board with wanting us to win that war.

How far we've fallen when New Jersey proposes to relieve schools of the burden of teaching the meanings of Veteran's Day and Memorial Day, as well as other holidays. I'm not a proponent of unvarnished, rose-colored history, but we don't need to insist that our students should hate their country, either.

Other holidays about which schools no longer would be required to teach include Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Arbor Day and Commodore Barry Day, which commemorates Revolutionary War hero John Barry.

New Jersey schools must observe the holidays under a 1967 law designed to promote "the development of a higher spirit of patriotism." Florida, Nebraska and Washington are among states with similar laws.

What possible valuable, worthy reason could someone have for not wanting children to learn about these holidays? I anxiously await the anti-Columbus crowd (yawn) and the Hate America First crowd, among others.

State Senate Rejects CTA U-bot Reappointment to State Board of Education

He had plenty of Democrat votes, but not enough Republican votes.

New College Sport


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jimmy Carter, Still A Loser

Recently, one person at the Carter Center had resigned because of Carter's blatant one-sidedness (and I'm being kind there) in his recent book about Israel and the Palestinians. Now, le deluge.

Update, 1/19/07: Our Worst Ex-President.

Davenport v. WEA

Argued before the US Supreme Court yesterday was a case arising from Washington State. At issue: whether or not unions should be able to spend non-member (agency fee payers, like I am) dues money on political causes without getting the payer's permission to do so.

Obviously, we at CTEN are watching the case closely!

What's wild is that I know someone who actually got to sit in the courtroom and hear the case as it was argued. How cool is that? Can you imagine how amazing it would be to hear arguments before the Supreme Court in a case that has some personal significance for you? I'll try to get her to send me some of her impressions so I can post them here--a firsthand account of watching the Supreme Court in action. I'm obviously in awe, and somewhat jealous.

Here are a few links from different sources about yesterday's case:

Wall Street Journal Online
The Seattle Times
New York Times
Washington (DC) Post

Slate simplifies the case in the most entertaining manner:

Remember that first day of college, when the dean of students explained to the young women that 19-year-old boys would be inclined to grope them pretty much constantly for the next four years unless they yelled, "No"? Section 760 more or less shifted the burden to the boys to ask if the girls want to be groped...

This probably isn't good news for the unions, which are about to see their power to engage in political advocacy sharply limited by the high court. But as the justices seem mostly to agree today, it's certainly not illogical to assume that if that cute freshman from your Russian-lit class already told you she didn't want to go on a date with you, it's a pretty safe bet she doesn't want to have sex with you, either.

I told you it was entertaining!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

High School Boys Got The Mojo

What else could explain their penchant for being the preferred sexual toys of legislators?

I'm not talking about Foley (Republican), who, to the best of my knowledge, never actually touched the boy(s) he was emailing. I'm not even talking about Studds (Democrat), who actually did diddle the boys and still served plenty of years in the House after doing so.

No, I'm talking about the state senator in South Dakota who is accused of having "fondled" an 18-year-old page.

Foley emailed pages who were at or above the age of consent in the jurisdiction where the flirting took place (DC), and we all know what happened to him. I anxiously await the Democrats' calls for this man to resign and face the penalties associated with his conduct.

I think I'll be waiting a long time. There's no election to make hay over--oh, and he's one of their own.

Update, 1/11/07: Apparently it's not just legislators.

Snyder was suspended from teaching at Southern Lehigh High School shortly after he was charged in 2005 with corruption of minors, solicitation of a minor to pose nude and evidence tampering.

Several teenage boys who were Snyder's former students testified this week that Snyder paid them extra if they performed chores at his home while bare-chested or wearing skimpy bathing suits or wrestling singlets.

Isn't that special.

Best High School Movie of All Time

There was a time when I would have said that The Breakfast Club was the best high school movie of all time. The math teacher in me screams for Stand And Deliver. However, my son and I just finished watching the best parent, high school, and comic movie--all rolled into one--of all time: Sky High.

Socialist Health Care in California

The governor has proposed a new health care plan. I found an article on the topic, an article with which I completely agree. Since my long-time readers know that I'm against socialized medicine, and socialism in almost any other form, the fact that I agree with this article will not be surprising in the least.

Before I get into what I hope to be a well-reasoned and economically sound discussion of Arnold Schwarzenegger's new "universal health care" plan, please bear with the following outburst: Arnold's plan is some of the most muddle-headed, idiotic, socialist crap I have ever seen from a serious politician, much less from a Republican...

The idea that somehow health care (or any other big industry) is somehow immune from market forces and human nature has been so repeatedly and dramatically disproved over the past few generations that it is truly shocking and depressing to see serious people still arguing for socialist policies...

Health care costs are high and rising fast, but it is not because the private market doesn't work. It is because, like the California electricity crisis, the government doesn't let it work. In health care, there is a massive disconnect between consumers and suppliers...

Imagine what the effect would be if car insurance were A) mandatory, B) subsidized, and C) covered even the most minor damage with low deductibles, and D) routed through employers. People would go get the smallest scratches repaired, driving up demand and cost for car repair. Employers would hedge to continue to take on the liability, especially with prices "artificially" high because of the implied tax required for the subsidies. They would look to hire people without cars. The equivalent of all of these things is already happening with health care, and Arnold's proposal will only exacerbate the problem...

Health care is not a Constitutional right. It is an individual responsibility. The closer we get toward socialized medicine, the further we get from the best medical system we could have. Just imagine when California has to implement a rule like England has: A mandatory minimum waiting time for someone to see a doctor, because the government can't afford the health care system to move any more efficiently...

As long as we have politicians who believe that it is the proper role of the state to redistribute money, interfere in private contracts, and use their power to reward their favored constituencies regardless of the cost to taxpayers, we will never be safe from the dead hand of government. When even Republicans are willing to legislate as Communists (and I do not use that term as hyperbole), there is little reason to have hope.

Sadly, the author's correct on all points.

OK, so maybe you don't trust that author or the site on which he posted. Then how about the Wall Street Journal?

Gov. Schwarzenegger writes a prescription for disaster...

If a version of Gov. Schwarzenegger's plan passes, the only thing certain is that there will be more regulation, more government spending and more taxes.
Update, 1/12/07: OK, so this is hopeful:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking on just about every major interest group in California in his audacious effort to bring universal health care to the nation's biggest state: unions, small business, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, conservatives.
Update #2, 1/18/07: A federal appeals court has struck down a similar law in Maryland.

When Will You Have Time To Study...

...when you're trying to learn 57 Tips for Writing Your Term Paper?!

Jerry Springer at School

I'm glad I don't teach at a place like this.

WOONSOCKET, Rhode Island (AP) -- Two mothers and their 13-year-old daughters were arrested after police say one woman drove her already suspended daughter to school to fight a teenage rival.

Teachers, Students, and Off-Campus Conduct

What teachers and students do on their own time, away from school, is no one's business but theirs.

I continue to be amazed that schools think they can get involved in what students put on their Myspace pages, or when students have issues with each other outside of school. At that point, the problem becomes that of the parents, not the school.

I'm sure that school administrators would then claim that such issues could create a disruption or distraction on campus, and hence they have a duty to act. Acting to prevent a potential disruption or distraction gets into a gray area with me, in the realm of thought crimes and such. What constitutes a potential disruption?

Similarly, these "morals clauses" in teachers' contracts or ed code really frost me. Yes, I work with children, but that doesn't mean I should have to be a saint. Whose morals do we go with? If a teacher gets a DUI and has to ride his/her bike to school each day, wouldn't that violate someone's morals? What if a teacher--gasp!--solicited a prostitute? What if a teacher has a night job as a stripper? What if a teacher were spotted entering an adult establishment? What if a teacher does sexual things with a cigar, or has sex with an intern? What if a teacher has an affair with a consenting adult?

Of course, the ideal would be if students never heard about these situations--and any teacher that opted to share with students details of participating in such activities could very well be considered to have crossed the line. However, what if students hear about these activities through other means, like from their parents, for example? Is the mere knowledge of these activities enough to constitute a disruption or distraction that would merit administrative action?

I bring all this up because the butt-print artist has now been fired.

Murmer, a teacher at Monacan High School, was suspended in December after objections were raised about his private abstract artwork, much of which includes smearing his posterior and genitals with paint and pressing them against canvas.

His paintings sell for as much as $900 each on his Web site.

The unique approach to art became a topic when a clip showing Murmer, wearing a fake nose and glasses, a towel on his head and black thong, turned up on and became the talk of the high school.

Weird, I'll give you that. But I don't see this weirdo's actions as meriting being fired. Had he directed students to the YouTube video, or displayed his "art" in class, I could understand that. But when doing something entirely legal, completely outside of school, becomes a cause to fire a teacher, we've gone too far.

Tolerance In San Francisco

There seems to be some debate as to whether Yale's a cappella group was jumped and beaten up because they sang the Star Spangled Banner or because they were being hit on (pardon the pun) too much by the locals, but whatever the case, I think Scott Makenzie was wrong when he said

If you're going to San Francisco
You're going to meet some gentle people there.

Anyway, isn't it interesting how the denizens of that city keep showing how intolerant they are, as they break their arms patting themselves on the back congratulating themselves for how tolerant they are?

101st Carnival of Education


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Questions Universities Should Answer

Following the lead of Discriminations (see blogroll at left), I questioned whether any scientific evidence exists that justifies the push towards so-called diversity on university campuses. Then I linked to the EIA (see blogroll at left) post which questioned the (non-existent) links between political arguments in education and student achievement. For a three-fer I'll link to the eminent Victor Davis Hanson, who has some questions that universities should answer about how far they've fallen from the ideal. (His post contains several shorter posts; I'm directing you only to the first, Cry The Once Beloved University.)

Parent Doesn't Quite Get It

A teacher I know received the following email from a parent. If you're not a teacher and you wonder if those horror story parents really exist, here's proof of at least one. Let me be clear: I know for sure that this email is 100% authentic.

I got rid of course titles and anything else that might identify the student, the school, or even what year this email was sent. I've left the pronouns in--it would be too distracting to read the email with them removed.

Dear xxxxx,
I know that my daughter struggles in your xxxxx class greatly, however I also know that she attends class daily, takes all your tests and does all her homework. How is it possible for her to be failing? Don't you think that there is something wrong with this picture? What is the point of showing up at all, seems to me the grade would be the same! Maybe she is really that stupid, or maybe she just doesn't understand xxxxx and needs some extra help. At the beginning of the year you said that you don't want the kids to run out and get tutors but I am told by both of my kids that you are not there before or after school and that it is hit and miss during lunch, even when they ask if you are going to be around for help (I doubt this is true, but it's what the parent wrote--Darren). She is also in xxxxx and gets tutoring in that class for your xxxxx class, I have instructed her to go to the library for tutoring after school Monday through Wednesday. xxxxx cannot fail your class, it is unacceptable on both of your parts! What are we going to do about this problem?

I want to fisk this letter, sentence by sentence; I really do. I mean, just reread the first two sentences: My kid shows up, does homework, and takes tests--how can my kid be failing? Ugh!

If I wanted to be kind, I could point out that at least the parent is concerned (before report cards came out!) and is trying to help his/her student, but the tone and content of the email just don't allow me to be kind. This parent is frustrated, and understandably so, but this is not how mature and rational adults communicate with each other.

Texas Pizza Chain Accepts Pesos

I support this wholeheartedly.

See, it's entirely legal for them to accept pesos. They think it gives them a competitive advantage to accept pesos. Many of their customers like that they accept pesos. Some don't.

"This is America, We speak English and our currency is the U.S. dollar. I will no longer visit your restaurant due to your demonstrated inability to assimilate into the culture of this country," said one irate former customer in an e-mail sent to Pizza Patron on Monday morning.

And that's fine, too. Because when businesses do something to attract one segment of population, that sometimes turns off another segment of population. It's the business' job to determine if they come out ahead in the process or if they lose money.

Notice what's lacking in this story? Government interference. Government hasn't told Pizza Patron that is must, or is not allowed to, accept pesos. The company is doing this all on its own.

The market at work.

Update, 1/12/07: Apparently, not everyone is as tolerant as I am. Not everyone believes in the virtues of the free market as I do.