Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Which Is The Party Of The Rich?

According to this article, it's the Republocrats:
Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early '90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that's not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don't respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that's not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don't respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.
Neither party should be the party of "the rich" or of "the minorities" or of "the middle class". They should both be parties of "the Americans", and perhaps have different views on how to get to a similar goal. But I'm naive that way.

Too Pretty To Do Math

I'm a guy, so this doesn't apply to me.
Isis caught this screenshot from the store Forever21 (a store that I think we have in our mall here; I'll have to see if they carry this particular product)...

Yes, for less than $4, you too can tell the girls in your life that they're too attractive for math.
The point of the article is that it isn't always sexism or misogyny that holds women back.

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Josip Broz (Marshal) Tito.

Today's question, the last in 1980-1989 Week, is:
Who replaced Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos after the “People Power Revolution” of February 1986?

Just for fun, we're not heading into the 90's tomorrow. No, 1985 was such an interesting year that we'll devote a week of trivia to it!

Soldier Is College Valedictorian

Here's someone with a can-do spirit!
After working 12 hours a day as a hazardous materials specialist at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, Army Staff Sgt. Dysha Huggins-Hodge studied in the computer lab, determined to complete an associate degree at Anne Arundel Community College on schedule — and to earn A’s. Now stationed in Maryland, the 4.0 student gave the valedictorian speech at her graduation last week, reports the Washington Post.

Teacher Training In Math Doesn't Result In Higher Student Achievement

Joanne has the story:
Over two years, teachers were supposed to get 114 “contact hours” of training on how to teach about rational numbers, including summer institutes, one-day follow-up seminars, and in-school coaching visits.

Teachers with one or more years of training did score higher on “knowing what types of graphic representations will best convey specific ideas clearly, and knowing the common student misunderstandings.”

But training didn’t lead to higher student achievement.

Teachers’ general math knowledge, which wasn’t affected by the training, correlated to significantly higher student achievement, the study found.

Masters degrees don't correlate to higher student achievement, either, but I need to get one if I ever want to see a pay raise.

Hire A Vet

It would have been too easy to post this yesterday, so I'll post it today in hopes that people will read it with less of a maudlin, holiday viewing:
But it's the unemployment problem facing young vets that really demands this country's immediate attention.

This is the postwar battle that Donna Bachler fights right now.

Donna deployed with the U.S. Army in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. She left the Army as a first lieutenant, but not before suffering a serious leg injury. She uses a cane to get around and has been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Despite years of experience in both the fitness and administrative industries before and during her military service, she now finds that prospective employers view veterans as potential liabilities.

"All they see is a hospital day count, not understanding how dedicated to work the military makes you," she says. "As soon as I walk into an interview with a cane, the interview is essentially over." Donna has taken to picking up freelance opportunities on the web so employers can't discriminate against her physical injury. Recurrently unemployed, this wounded warrior who once worked as a personal trainer and ran her own fitness boot camp can't find steady work because of societal failures, not her own. And her story isn't rare.

The Department of Labor reported in April that 10.9 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans are currently unemployed, a full two percentage points higher than the national average. An internal survey of IAVA members suggests that number is actually much higher at 20 percent. By now, it's well known that the veterans of this generation won't be getting a welcome-home parade. Most have come to accept this after 10 years. But it's a travesty that so many are coming home to an unemployment check.

These numbers show that employers are shying away from hiring veterans. Sometimes, years of military training and certificates don't perfectly translate to a civilian marketplace. Other times, if that candidate is still in the National Guard or Reserves, the employer cites concerns about future deployments. And still other times, it's that tired old stereotype of the crazed vet afflicted with PTSD.

It's another way to really support the troops.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Gawd, I Look Worse Than I Thought

A friend has been visiting all weekend and we went to the mall one day just so I could get out of the house and practice moving around in my dad-modified wheelchair.
(click to enlarge, but why would you want to?)

If I can say one thing positive about this picture, it's that at least I don't look fat. Old and decrepit, yes, but not fat. (And yes, I'm wearing a leg immobilizer under the ultra-baggy sweat pants.)

How Much Responsibility Is On The Teacher, and How Much Is On The Student?

Mandated passing rates? Really? Have these idiots never heard the saying, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink"?
First, a professional in a Manhattan high school wrote to say that teachers in her school are "encouraged" to pass 80 percent of students, no matter their grades or attendance. She offered student writing samples filled with glaring errors of spelling and grammar to prove that "social promotion is alive and well"...

"Our mandated passing rate is 60 percent," one wrote. "We need to explain in detail why this student failed, what methods were used to get him to pass, how much home contact was made.

"The one group that is not called in for interrogation is the students themselves. No blame falls on them . . . The students know what is going on. It has empowered them to feel that they can work less or not at all and still pass the class."

These teachers, and others mentioned in the linked article, must feel helpless in such a perverted system.

Update, 5/31/11: Even the New York Times has noticed:
Teachers are fed up with being blamed for the failures of American education, and legislators are starting to hear them. A spate of bills introduced in various states now takes aim squarely at the parents. If you think you can legislate teaching, the notion goes, why not try legislating parenting?

It is a complicated idea, taking on the controversial question of whether parents, teachers or children are most to blame when a child fails to learn.

Shocker of the Day

From Gallup:
U.S. military veterans and those currently on active military duty are less likely to approve of President Obama's job performance than are Americans of comparable ages who are not in the military.
I was just kidding. It's not really a shocker at all. The shocker is that so many of them gave him positive marks, much higher than I would have thought.

What Can't Be Done By Fiat...

...will be done anyway.
The path to socialized medicine is painfully obvious. The government (state and federal) can drive up the cost of health insurance through mandates and other requirements, and then refuse to allow private insurance companies to raise rates to levels that make the business profitable. As private carriers exit the health insurance market, government "insurance" will be offered as the only alternative. President Obama is on record as saying that his intention is to drive private insurance into extinction over a ten to twenty year period. This purpose is being advanced across a broad front.

Do you really want a federal government that can and definitely will attempt to put legitimate companies out of business?

Cool Frisbee Trick Shots

It's appropriate that on the unofficial start of the summer season I post this video of someone who seems to have a lot of time on his hands to practice stuff like this ;)

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
Who was the Yugoslavian communist leader who died in May 1980?

Academic Lectures at Universities

"Dubious academic or societal merit":
Here at the Pope Center, we keep track of public lectures and panel discussions at North Carolina colleges and universities, primarily by monitoring the lectures posted on university websites. In this article, I review the highlights of the past semester (from January through May 2011).

On the positive side, we found significant interest in private-sector innovation, especially entrepreneurship, and also lectures on legitimate social ills. On the not-so-positive side, we found many events centered on trendy themes of dubious academic or societal merit. These included government-funded “innovation,” everything “green,” the oppression of ostensibly victimized groups, globalization, sex, and whichever way lecturers could think to mix and match them (see, for example, “The Sexual Politics of Meat,” a lecture given at Davidson College).

If the talk is left-wing enough, and if the speaker cares, students will be swaying back and forty like a python. Note: in case you didn't get it the first time, none of those "dubious" topics is considered "conservative".

What Will Power Their Country?

Unless they come up with some pixie dust or something, I'm not quite sure what they're planning that will keep the lights on:
Germany on Monday became the first major industrialised power to agree an end to nuclear power in the wake of the disaster in Japan, with a phase-out to be completed by 2022.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the decision, hammered out by her centre-right coalition overnight, marked the start of a "fundamental" rethink of energy policy in the world's number four economy...

Monday's decision, which could run into legal challenges from energy companies, means Germany will have to find the 22 percent of its electricity needs that were covered by nuclear power from other sources...

Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said the plan would uphold four priorities: Germany's standing as a top global economy, an affordable and sufficient energy supply, climate protection and independence from energy imports.
I don't know what they're expecting, but it'll be interesting to watch. It doesn't get much more affordable, sufficient, and "climate protection-y" than nuclear.

Update, 6/2/11: Hard to disagree with this:
The scenarios with the most catastrophic outcomes of global warming are low probability outcomes -- a fact that explains why the world’s governments in practice treat reducing CO2 emissions as a low priority, despite paying lip service to it. But even if the worst outcomes were likely, the rational response would not be a conversion to wind and solar power but a massive build-out of nuclear power. Nuclear energy already provides around 13-14 percent of the world’s electricity and nearly 3 percent of global final energy consumption, while wind, solar and geothermal power combined account for less than one percent of global final energy consumption.
And they will continue to account for such small amounts because they are either not reliable, not continuous, or not plentiful enough (geothermal).

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dating Sites: A Practical Application of Statistics

Let's see how we can apply our knowledge of statistics, boys and girls:
Every six weeks or so, the bloggers — all former math majors from Harvard — examine the gold mine of dating data collected from their members' online interactions (properly scrubbed and anonymized, of course). They sort and sift, crunch and correlate, catching whatever nuggets of mating wisdom fall out.

Then they post a report of their findings — and the resultant dating tips — often with pop culture references, statistical graphs and pictures of half-naked young men and women.

"It's our version of an advice column," says Sam Yagan, OkCupid's chief executive. "We love the fact that our own data tell us what works on a date."

Even scientists drop by to see what they're up to — though their opinions on what they find there varies a lot.

"I'm a big fan," says Eli Finkel, associate professor of social psychology at Northwestern University. "The posts are generally insightful, well-written and fun."

"These are not necessarily statistically reliable findings," says Viren Swami, a psychology researcher at the University of Westminster in London and co-author of "The Psychology of Physical Attraction."

Fun and interesting does not necessarily mean "statistically reliable"--kinda like astrology!

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Islas Malvinas.

Today's question is:
In 1981 the Israelis destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor near which city?

Crony Capitalism

Is Obama's latest plan a sham, or just a bad idea?
Even if it is instead a legitimate attempt to spur the economy, it should be met with skepticism — as should all such government programs. Government is rarely good at picking economic winners and losers, even when attempting to be objective. Startup America openly mixes political priorities with economic goals. Specifically, one of its core goals is to “inspire and empower an ever-greater diversity of communities and individuals.” Such a divided mission is a blueprint for failure and political payoffs...

The program has two distinct strategies. One part is government action — mainly, providing capital for startup companies using $2 billion given by the Small Business Administration. This infusion of capital is probably the wrong tool for the job of jump-starting the economy. “A shortage of private equity is not what’s holding back America,” says Karlyn Mitchell, professor at NC State University and former Federal Reserve economist specializing in small business finance. (The more likely culprit for the economic malaise is uncertainty about the future.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It All Evens Out

I tried out my new wheelchair today.

Shortly after my skiing accident I was able to borrow a motorized scooter (from the Scooter Store!) in order to get around the neighborhood. It has enough juice to get me over a mile and a half to the store and home without even using half a charge. When it's sunny I sometimes take it for a lap or two around the block, just to get outside.

But that scooter weighs probably 200 lbs and doesn't fold, so no way is it going to fit into the trunk of anybody's car. So I was able to borrow a folding wheelchair.

The major problem is that I wear a leg immobilizer that goes from halfway down my thigh to halfway down my calf. If I'm to sit in a chair, my leg must be held out in front of me. My dad, the retired machinist that he is, modified both the scooter and the wheelchair with brackets to hold my leg up. I just use my right leg to lift my left leg into a stirrup-type device, and off I go!

He just finished the wheelchair modification yesterday, and today a friend took me to the mall just so I could get out. I learned very quickly that if I use that wheelchair much I will develop a serious set of biceps! It's really a lot of effort to move a wheelchair, and if I'd done it too much longer I'd probably have broken a major sweat. One trip up the mall and back was all we needed, as neither of us needed to buy any clothing (and clothing is about all they sell at this mall anymore). Then we made a stop at Sam's Club (always lots of sample snackies there, and I needed a root beer float) and then we came home. It was a very good first run in the wheelchair today.

But the title of this post is It All Evens Out.

Amazingly enough, it was raining a bit when we got home. My dog was barking and wanted to come in the house. As I let him in I gave him the command "pillow" (go lay on your pillow), which he immediately ignored as he raced by me into the garage (he thought he was going to go play in the front yard). When he found the garage door closed he tore back into the house and, turning on the wood floor to get to his pillow, slammed into my injured leg at full speed.

Even with all the doors and windows closed and with the rain falling outside, I'm sure all my neighbors heard my yell of pain.

It's a couple hours later now, and it doesn't hurt as much. If it still hurts tomorrow I'm going to have to get myself to a doctor to see if he caused any serious damage.

Darned dog.

Update, 5/29/11: I'm probably going to live.

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
January 1986.

Today's question is:
By what name did the Argentinians call the Falkland Islands, which they unsuccessfully tried to take from Britain in 1982?

His Name Makes It Too Easy

Crazy Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner (snicker) is saying is Twitter account was hacked, that he didn't really send a woman a picture of his erect package in underwear.

When Republicans do stupid stuff--even something like sending shirtless pics of themselves to women--they resign. Pronto. Weiner's claiming hackery.

I'm sure his wife can tell if that's his or not.

Update, 5/29/11: Would your spouse buy your explanation?

Update #2, 5/29/11: Mediaite gives two sides of the story, why Weiner might be covering up and why this might actually be a framing/hacking.

Update #3, 5/31/11: Weiner's story is falling apart.
He brusquely says he'd like to go back to work. I'm sure he would. I'm sure Mark Foley, Larry Craig, Mark Sanford, Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, Chris Lee and heck, John Edwards, wanted to go back to their very important work too. Our world doesn't work like that. The truth will come out and it seems very obvious what that truth will be.
Update #4, 6/6/11: He finally admits it:
A week after claiming a hacker had posted a lewd photo to his Twitter account, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner on Monday apologized for lying about the ordeal and admitted carrying on inappropriate relationships with several women he'd met online.
He says he won't resign, of course. Only Republicans resign after displaying such poor judgement; in fact, only Republicans are called upon to resign after displaying such poor judgement.

Are Allegations of Being White Supremacists Enough?

Students near Santa Cruz were suspended for wearing white T-shirts for their senior class photo. As one explains, the jocks were going to wear one type of shirt, the girls were going to wear pink, his group of friends--which isn't all white--was going to wear white shirts so they could easily identify themselves in the picture, so they'd stand out.

It's been alleged that they're white supremacists, though, and wearing the white shirts bought them 3 days' suspension.

With no specific actions identified, and certainly no on-campus conduct worthy of suspension, is the mere accusation now all that's needed? They'll miss finals and perhaps graduation, all because someone says they might be racists.

Somehow, I'd think we'd need more evidence of wrongdoing.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Michael Dukakis and Lloyd “You're no Jack Kennedy” Bentsen.

Today's question is:
In what month and year was the shuttle Challenger destroyed?

A New Escalante?

A Muslim woman at a Catholic school!
And the work is unceasing. Ali calls her teaching style 'drill and skill.' Next to her desk, there's a cart sagging with the weight of binders full of transparencies and teaching materials.

"She doesn't just give you homework... she makes you learn it," says former student Brittany Duhn, now a sophomore at Foothill High School in Tustin.

"She's small, but intimidating."

She's also caring.

Justine Mationg didn't pass Ali's entrance test the first time she took it. Or the second.

But after a summer spent working with Ali, Mationg passed the test and got into Advanced Math, where students work as a team, often explaining problems to each other.

This year, at 14, she won the Mathfax competition.
I've used the "drill and skill" phrase for years to challenge those who don't believe in actually learning anything, those who refer to "drill and kill". To this day I thank my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Barton, for ensuring that every one of us learned our multiplication tables up to 12x12. That lady understood drill and skill.

The Socialist Utopia of California

Two tiers of Californians:
A quarter-century ago, I wrote a series of articles about California's megatrends that transmogrified into a book, "The New California: Facing the 21st Century."

My chief premise was that intertwining cultural, demographic, economic and political forces were radically transforming the state.

I quoted one academic study that saw "the possible emerging of a two-tier economy with Asians and non-Hispanic whites competing for high-status positions while Hispanics and blacks struggle to get low-paying service jobs."

Last week's release of detailed 2010 census data and this week's unveiling of a massive statistical study of Californians' educations, incomes and health confirm that what was theory in 1985 has become reality.

This is what a Democrat-run, socialist paradise looks like.

Berkeley Schools Suck At Teaching Minorities

Forget all that talk about "marginalized peoples". Forget all that talk about the "legacy of Jim Crow". Forget all that talk about "empowerment". Forget all that talk about "improving the lives of the oppressed". Forget all that talk about "diversity is our strength". Forget all that talk about "social justice". Forget all that talk about how only liberals can be counted on to help "people of color".

Forget it all:
The Berkeley Unified School District was ranked among the worst in California for serving African American, Hispanic and low-income students, according to a recent study by Education Trust-West, an advocacy group based in Oakland.

The study, released April 27, gathered Academic Performance Index scores of students from 146 California school districts across the state. The districts were then ranked based on a combination of college-readiness, improvement of scores over time and gaps in achievement between white and minority students.

The school district was given a “D” overall, along with several other East Bay districts, and received an “F” for a wide achievement gap — coming in at 125 out of 126 schools measured in that category.

The very next sentences in the story start making excuses. But then we get to the meat:
“Our hope is that this study is used by district leaders and community members to start asking questions about their schools,” Stuart said. “If students of color are scoring so much lower than their white peers, what is happening in the district?”
One of the most liberal places in the country sucks at teaching minorities. Maybe the liberals in Berkeley (and everywhere else) need to wake up to the fact that the achievement gap is not the fault of conservatives, or of white people, or of racism (institutional or otherwise), or of any of their other bugaboos. Maybe they need to realize that there are cultures out there--and not just racial or ethnic cultures, either--that don't look at schools and education the same way that the middle and upper classes do.

Of course, if they realized that and acted on it, they'd have to admit that their ideology is a sham, and they have too much invested in it to let it go. If just feels too good for them, the saviors of the downtrodden.

Hat tip to NewAlert.

More Good News On ROTC

It's now returning to Yale as well:
U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and University President Richard C. Levin signed an agreement today to establish an ROTC unit at Yale, which will be the Navy's only ROTC unit in Connecticut. The Yale unit's first class of ROTC midshipmen will enter in the fall of 2012. In addition to Yale College students, the Yale unit will enroll students from other public and private universities in the state that participate under cross-town arrangements to take the ROTC program at Yale.

I Told You Lefties There Was Nothing Wrong With The Patriot Act!

And I'll accept that you know I'm right and are hypocrites, until I see you out protesting in the streets:
Minutes before a midnight deadline, President Barack Obama signed into law a four-year extension of post-Sept. 11 powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists.

"It's an important tool for us to continue dealing with an ongoing terrorist threat," Obama said Friday after a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

With Obama in France, the White House said the president used an autopen machine that holds a pen and signs his actual signature. It is only used with proper authorization of the president.

Update, 5/31/11: At least we have a president who will stop shredding the Constitution! (snicker snicker):
Civil libertarians once looked to this president to right the constitutional balance. But what Obama has wrought is the same old "Terror Presidency" with new rhetoric.

Gen. Michael Hayden, President George W. Bush's CIA director, notes a "powerful continuity" between the two administrations on national security powers. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney now grudgingly praises Obama for leaving most of the Bush framework intact.

In some areas, "44" has gone even further than "43." Bush claimed "inherent power" to attack other countries at will, but never fought a war without congressional authorization.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question, the first in 1980-1989 Week, is:
Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989.

Today's question is:
Vice President Bush and Dan Quayle ran successfully for US President and Vice President against which Democratic pair in 1988?

I've Agreed With Him Before

Former President Bill Clinton provided a stark warning to his fellow Democrats about the consequences of failing to take the lead on issues of debt and deficit.

“The Democrats are going to have to be willing to give up maybe some short-term political gain by whipping up fears on some of these things if it's a reasonable Social Security proposal or a reasonable Medicare proposal,” Clinton said at a bipartisan debt forum in Washington. “We have to deal with these things. You cannot have healthcare devour the economy.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/05/26/obama-dems-dont-listen-clinton-debt/#ixzz1NToxSCrb
It's hard to say you're "reasonable" if you disagree with the above. And before you say this is the only time I've ever agreed with Bill, I'll point you to this post and this post and this post and this post. When someone not of my political stripe says something I agree with, I note it. I can still disagree with them on the other stuff.

Look At What They Think Of You

High gas prices are good for you--because so many of the hillbillies won't be able to afford anything!
What if gas hit $5 a gallon? Here are some benefits (and we're serious about most of them):

Fewer people would die on the road...
(No driving at all would solve that. Why not advocate for that?)

Demand for high-mileage cars could grow...
(Why is this automatically a good thing?)

Shorter security lines. Airlines fares are extremely fuel-price reactive. Soon, hardly anyone will be able to afford to fly willy-nilly around the country or globe. You will breeze through the maze of airport checkpoints.
(Don't you love the condescension in that one?)

Less pollution...
(Lots of things would lead to less pollution, but...you get the point.)

Less congestion. Ever notice how well rush-hour freeway traffic flows on the minor holidays when most of the rest of us are working? A 2% drop in miles driven can make a big difference, allowing you to drive faster, although you now won't want to...
(Only important people will be able to afford to drive?)

High prices lead to lower prices. Mackubin Thomas Owens, a professor of national-security affairs at the Naval War College and the editor of Orbis, the journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, theorizes that if gas prices rise enough, the government will open up areas now closed to oil production and oil companies will be able to invest in more-expensive methods of extracting oil. Soon we will be drowning in the stuff, and prices will drop again.
(Why not just open those areas now, then?)

More exercise. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that by 2020, three out of four Americans will be categorized as overweight or obese. So, it can't hurt to walk the three blocks to the grocery or bike to school or work...
(People can do that now, if they wanted to. You'd rather compel them?)

End of wars.
(There were no wars before oil. And how much oil is in Afghanistan?)

Local businesses could profit. If you can't afford to drive out to Wal-Mart or Home Depot, you may be buying instead at the local supermarket or neighborhood hardware store...
(Where you would pay more than at Wal-Mart.)

It's all about democracy.
(That's a classic.)

Should driving be one of those things reserved only for people who can afford to pay a lot for it? Something for the "haves" only? This was clearly written by someone who looks down on the "common", working American. It was probably not written by a political conservative.

The ACLU Had To Do Something

The right thing to do would be nothing, but I guess they felt they had to do something:
In the May 25 letter to school board attorney James T. Hundley, ACLU lawyers Jeffery M. Pollock and Seval Yildirim said although they “continue to have general concern with a public school graduation ceremony being held at a facility with a large cross on the front of the building, we are also appreciative of both your efforts as well as that of the Board of Education to amicably resolve the dispute at issue.”

The compromise requires the district to cover a religious sign on a choir door entrance and the nation’s longest running electric signs that read “Holiness to the Lord” and “So be ye Holy” as well as keep the signature 20-foot illuminated exterior white cross dark during commencements. All hymn, prayers and religious content have been removed from the ceremony, Schools Superintendent David A. Mooij has said.

Geez, is holding a graduation in a church's auditorium (it's the only place in town big enough to hold graduation, and it's been held there for 70 years) an establishment of religion?

A comment under the picture in the article is what really caught my attention:
The Neptune High School graduation ceremony is slated for 7 p.m. June 17 at the Great Auditorium. The agreement with the ACLU requires students and guests to enter through the historic buildings back and side doors to avoid its signature 20-foot white cross illuminated during evening hours.
So no one even has to see the cross outside, everyone has to enter through side and back doors. Doesn't that sound just a bit silly? But again, the ACLU had to do something.

OK, you ask, would I be happy if my graduation were held in the local union hall? There'd be pro-labor, probably socialist sayings on the walls, things like that. Well, I certainly wouldn't like going into a union hall, but since I wouldn't be there to sing the Internationale and wouldn't be hearing speeches extolling the virtues of socialism, I would probably survive. (Yes, that's sarcasm--I'd have no trouble with it at all.) Of course, we could keep changing the scenario to make it more and more uncomfortable--pictures of Karl Marx and Che Guevara, for example--until eventually we'd cross some line, but that doesn't seem to be the case in the current story, unless, of course, you just cannot tolerate even seeing a cross.

Whoever complained about this and got the ACLU involved--are you happy? Are you satisfied? Did you get what you wanted?

Won't Be Trying That Again For Awhile

I get a little stir crazy sitting around the house, and yesterday it was raining (at the end of May! in the Sacramento Valley!) so I couldn't get in my motorized wheelchair/scooter and go for a spin around the block.

I've got a busy couple of days now. Today a former student of mine, who just finished his freshman year at Colorado School of Mines, is coming to visit, and tonight I'm having my 3rd Annual Dinner With My Graduating Seniors at a Mongolian Barbecue restaurant. Tomorrow a friend of mine from Long Beach is flying in to hang out for the long weekend.

Dinner out, and picking up a friend at the airport. What do you think I tried to do last night?

It took several minutes for me to contort and scoot and maneuver myself into the car, and then I had to position the seat in such a way that I could drive. Without going into too much detail, though, that essentially meant that I was, for all practical purposes, "standing" on my left (injured) leg while using my right leg for the gas and brake. My weight was on my left leg, not on my butt on the seat.

I took a lap around the block and returned immediately to the garage. It was uncomfortable, and it was unsafe. I won't be trying that again for awhile.

So mommy is taking me to meet my students for dinner tonight, and I'm trying to convince my friend to get someone else to give him a ride from the airport to my place (as opposed to renting a car for the weekend) or take a shuttle.

I'm unable to drive. Grrrrrrrrrrr. I hate being so dependent on others.

A Story That Makes Me Proud of California Law

I cannot imagine having to pay fees for school. Yes, my son's school tries to charge some fees, and I fight them every time--I even have an "illegal fees" category for blog posts!--but even his school doesn't go crazy like this one in Ohio does:
Karen Dombi was thrilled when her three oldest children were picked for student government this year—not because she envisioned careers in politics, but because it was one of the few programs at their public high school that didn’t charge kids to participate.
Either the government provides a free public education for all, or it doesn't. None of this "we'll provide a baseline, but you have to pay to run track or take Spanish" crap. All you socialists out there, you can't support this, can you? You can't support a two-tier education system, with one tier for the haves and one for the have-nots, can you? I'd like to think that this is an area on which we can find common ground.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Getting Closer To The Day

Columbia is getting closer to having ROTC back on campus:
The U.S. Navy and Columbia University will sign an agreement allowing the ROTC back onto campus for the first time since the military training program was banned amid Vietnam War protests, the university said Wednesday.

Student and faculty leaders voted in April to allow the Reserve Officers Training Corps back after the U.S. military dropped its ban on openly gay soldiers.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and university president Lee C. Bollinger will sign the agreement aboard the USS Iwo Jima as part of New York's annual Fleet Week on Thursday, the university said in a written statement. The Navy confirmed the agreement.

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question, the last in 1970-1979 Week, is:
April 1975.

Today's question, the first in 1980-1989 Week, is:
The United States invaded two countries in the Western Hemisphere in the 1980s. Which were they?

Wish I Could Get A Gig Like This

Sustainable? You be the judge:
After 34 years of teaching sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I recently retired at age 64 at 80 percent of my pay for life. This calculation was based on a salary spiked by summer teaching, and since I no longer pay into the retirement fund, I now receive significantly more than when I “worked.” But that’s not all: There’s a generous health insurance plan, a guaranteed 3 percent annual cost of living increase, and a few other perquisites. Having overinvested in my retirement annuity, I received a fat refund and—when it rains, it pours—another for unused sick leave. I was also offered the opportunity to teach as an emeritus for three years, receiving $8,000 per course, double the pay for adjuncts, which works out to over $200 an hour. Another going-away present was summer pay, one ninth of my salary, with no teaching obligation.

Hat tip to NewsAlert.

Who Likes Obamacare?

I don't, and I'm not the only one:
Question: What do the following have in common? Eckert Cold Storage Co., Kerly Homes of Yuma, Classic Party Rentals, West Coast Turf Inc., Ellenbecker Investment Group Inc., Only in San Francisco, Hotel Nikko, International Pacific Halibut Commission, City of Puyallup, Local 485 Health and Welfare Fund, Chicago Plastering Institute Health & Welfare Fund, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Teamsters Local 522 Fund Welfare Fund Roofers Division, StayWell Saipan Basic Plan, CIGNA, Caribbean Workers' Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Health and Welfare Plan.

Answer: They are all among the 1,372 businesses, state and local governments, labor unions and insurers, covering 3,095,593 individuals or families, that have been granted a waiver from Obamacare by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

All of which raises another question: If Obamacare is so great, why do so many people want to get out from under it?

More specifically, why are more than half of those 3,095,593 in plans run by labor unions, which were among Obamacare's biggest political supporters? Union members are only 12 percent of all employees but have gotten 50.3 percent of Obamacare waivers.

The gist of the article is that the president illegally rewards his supporters and punishes his opponents.
Punishing enemies and rewarding friends -- politics Chicago style -- seems to be the unifying principle that helps explain the Obamacare waivers, the NLRB action against Boeing and the IRS' gift-tax assault on 501(c)(4) donors.

They look like examples of crony capitalism, bailout favoritism and gangster government.

Quit Complaining

It's easy for me to get into a funk; I'm a relatively active person, and this injury prevents me from doing much of anything. In that way it is both physically and emotionally brutal.

Being a usually upbeat person, I can tell when I start falling into the trap of self-pity and disappointment. It's one thing to get frustrated about my situation sometimes, but completely another to get into "woe is me" mode. I do not want to go there, but it's one of the few places I can get to easily given my current lack of mobility.

The last couple weeks I've taken to saying that I've noticed no improvement in my condition. Just last night, though, I read this post, wherein I celebrated being able to take 6 3" steps before collapsing onto crutches. That was 3 weeks ago.

Yes, there are very strong limitations on what I can do, and I may be very near to those limits, but there has been improvement. I just have to assume that any time in which improvement isn't noticeable is probably time wherein the tendon is healing--getting me closer to that day when I can take off the immobilizer and learn to walk again.

Gonna keep a positive outlook. What good does being disconsolate accomplish?

Education Buzz

This week's is posted here, and includes my post about the teacher who was fired for posting an explicit Craigslist ad.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

President Buffoon--A Two-fer Today!

Earlier today President Obama signed a guest book at Westminster Abbey. He signed his name and dated the entry: 24 May 2008.

Not being content to embarrass our country only once today, he completely screwed up by offering a toast to the queen as God Save The Queen was playing. Protocol dictates that one stays silent during the song, and toasts afterwards.

Some comments from HotAir.com:
"And they look down on hillbillies."
"SNL wouldn’t bother spoofing this unless it was Palin or Bush that did it."
"Just curious, did Obama bow to the Queen, or does he save that for Arab princes?"
"The most brilliant president we have ever had required note cards to offer a toast at dinner…. *sigh*"
"Somewhere in Heaven… Winston Churchill is smiling."
"AMG so awkward I had to stop watching, I didn’t even enjoy it for the schadenfreude."
And from the ABC story about the event: "Seriously, reading off note cards for a toast? and his supporters ragged on Palin for writing speaking points for a speech on her hand??? Lol, the irony!"

What's sad is that by extension he makes the rest of us look bad.

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Salvador Allende.

Today's question, the last in 1970-1979 Week, is:
In what month and year was this famous picture taken?

At Least She Wasn't Having Sex With Them

It's sad when that is your standard for bad vs. not-as-bad behavior:
A teacher at Livingston High School was arrested Monday morning after police say they're investigating reports that she helped students ingest chloroform.

Japhia Smith Huhndorf, 34, of Atwater, had assisted three male students, 16, 17 and 18 years old, as they ingested the chemical, which can be used as an anesthetic, said Sgt. Ray Fong of the Livingston Police Department.
Update 5/26/11: This story just gets better:
A chemistry teacher accused of helping students ingest chloroform was arrested again Wednesday after investigators learned she might be storing an explosive-making material in her classroom.

Another One Bites The Dust

I was scheduled to go to Las Vegas right after school gets out. That trip now joins my Colorado trip as canceled, and I'm working on getting the travel agency and airline to allow me to at least postpone my Iceland trip for a year (it's not going well).

This injury sucks.

Lucrative Majors

But exactly what an English major makes in a lifetime has never been clear, and some defenders of the humanities have said that their students are endowed with “critical thinking” and other skills that could enable them to catch up to other students in earnings.

Turns out, on average, they were wrong.

Over a lifetime, the earnings of workers who have majored in engineering, computer science or business are as much as 50 percent higher than the earnings of those who major in the humanities, the arts, education and psychology, according to an analysis by researchers at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. link

Absolutely, college should be for more than just job certification. On the other hand, there's nothing contradictory about having a top-notch math/science/engineering education as part of a solid liberal arts education. I attended a school that did both, and did both well.

You've Got To Love The Double Standard!

As a former teachers union representative and member of our union's strike committee, I can tell you firsthand the actions that teachers unions consider when planning a strike:

1. protesting at the superintendent's and board members' houses
2. trying to cause as much pain as possible to students, our only leverage
3. finding out where the district is recruiting so-called scabs from
4. trying to identify the so-called scabs by name by targeting the area from which they're being recruited
5. videotaping (for intimidation's sake) all the so-called scabs

That's enough for now, as I'm sure you get the idea. These happy teachers unions like to get personal, and make life painful for those with whom they disagree.

But when the shoe's on the other foot, do you think the unions support being so forthcoming with information?
Conservative groups are asking for the names of teachers who called in sick during the Wisconsin protests earlier this year, and most districts that were asked have released the names. The Madison School District, however, has denied several of the public records requests, fearing for the safety of its teachers, and the state’s largest teachers union asked a judge to halt the release of names in two other districts. Presumably, such records are open to the public under the state’s open records law unless the government determines otherwise, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

You might imagine that the unions are howling at such requests. I wonder why?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
Whom did Augusto Pinochet replace as leader of Chile in the September 1973 coup?

Happy Victoria Day...

...to all my Canadian readers and visitors!

It Was One Month Ago Today

I'm now one month into my three months in a leg immobilizer due to my skiing accident. Seems like forever. The doctors tell me that barring the unforeseen, I can expect a full recovery in six to twelve months--only five to eleven more to go!

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Just remember, it's all about the children:
Twin Rivers Unified School District's use of AmeriCorps volunteers has pleased parents and angered the California School Employees Association, which has filed an unfair practice charge with the Public Employment Relations Board...

Officials at the CSEA and its Twin Rivers chapter say the district is replacing trained teacher aides with "college kids with no training," said Carlo Tarantola, CSEA labor relations representative...

Twin Rivers teachers union President John Ennis said he has not seen evidence that teacher aides are being supplanted by AmeriCorps.

Somehow, I'm thinking that terms like union "brothers" and "sisters" are currently not in vogue in the Twin Rivers district.

Hoist By His Own Petard

On the other hand, they’re stuck themselves. “While the motorcade was making its exit, Obama’s limousine, nicknamed ‘The Beast’ for its thick armor, got stuck on a ramp. Obama and the first lady were reportedly made to get out of the car as a result.” link
What, there were no Republicans with Slurpees around to help get the car out of the ditch???

If you want to make smart-aleck comments about your political opponents, you better not believe in karma :-)

The Candy Cane Case

Don't you sometimes wish that school administrators would spend more time ensuring that all students are given a top quality education and less time on zero tolerance idiocy or events like this?
Do young children have First Amendment rights? Federal judges in New Orleans will hear a case Monday morning that could answer that question. Dubbed the ‘Candy Cane Case,’ it all started when a student in the Plano Independent School District was told that he was not allowed to hand out candy canes with religious messages attached.

Officials with the Plano ISD said that they were simply following a district-wide policy that prevents students from distributing religious materials. But as a result, a group of families sued the school district.

The 2004 lawsuit lists several examples of students being prohibited from promoting their beliefs. The young boy was told that he could not pass out candy canes that were tagged with religious messages. In another instance, a little girl was threatened for handing out tickets to an after-school play with a religious theme. Students were also told not to write the words “Merry Christmas” on cards being sent to troops serving overseas.

Since there's no indication that this caused a "disruption to the learning environment" the district's policy was wrong. No, children don't have the same 1st Amendment rights as adults do, but we should restrict those rights only as much as is needed to maintain the learning environment.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Few Years Ago This Would Have Been Considered Out Of Bounds

What a difference a few years (and a bad economy and poor state fiscal management) make:
Fundraising for schools once meant kids hawking cookie dough and gift wrap door to door to pay for field trips and memorial benches, but now districts are looking for big money to keep programs afloat and teachers employed, and to buy books and materials.

Freeman is trying to sign up enough school districts to make advertising in gyms, cafeterias and other spaces at schools attractive to big-name companies such as Apple, Sprint and Adidas.

Education Funding Partners is one of the many new businesses popping up across the country that specialize in helping school districts find or save money...

In California, school boards decide whether advertising is allowed on district campuses. Board policy generally outlines what types of ads are permissible.

San Juan Unified's board decided to allow corporate signage on its middle and high school campuses, but will limit it to common areas away from classrooms and curriculum. The district's administrators will decide which signs and sponsors are appropriate for their schools, (District spokesman) Allen said...

San Juan Unified already displays sponsors' signs on its athletic fields and for years mailed out a newsletter that included coupons and advertisements from businesses who paid for its shipping.

Allen said its new partnership with Education Funding Partners takes these efforts "to the next level," allowing for sponsorships of field trips or equipment in classrooms, among other things.

Critics may say that these new businesses are taking advantage of school districts in their time of need. But Freeman calls himself a social entrepreneur and says Education Funding Partners is a company with a conscience.

"We're doing well by doing good," he said.

The article also mentioned other local school districts, but you can get the gist from what's quoted above.

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
In what year was Jaws released, becoming a summer blockbuster?

Not Quite Your Average Trip To The Store

My son's "been here" all weekend, but I certainly haven't seen much of him. He's a teenager, and teenagers hang out with their friends. I didn't make friends easily when I was his age so I'm thankful that he does, even though it's meant that I haven't gotten to spend much time with him this weekend.

Yesterday a friend of mine from school came over, and in a show of extreme caring and generosity she brought over not only some tamales and chips and salsa, but also some of those soft cookies with the frosting on top. Oh, I do love those!

So it's not like there's no food in the house, but what's missing is "lunchable"-type food for my son to take to school. He's usually here 2 school nights a week, so I need 6 more lunches for him to get him through the school year. I told him earlier this week that the weather was expected to be great this weekend (and it has been), so I'd like it if he and I could walk up to Grocery Outlet on Sunday.

We just got back.

My wheelchair/scooter was fully charged, and even though it's over 1.5 miles to the store, it still had almost a full charge when we got home. (This means that I could easily make it to Wal-Mart if I want or need to!) There aren't wheelchair ramps on every corner between here and the store, so it was good to have my son there when I had to drive off the sidewalk and into the street--there was a small possibility of tipping over, and that would not have been optimal.

It's strange outside--hazy looking, but not too hot and not very humid at all. Very agreeable weather for a walk. We get a lot of talking done when we go on walks together.

We found some lunchable-type items he'd like (they even have cups of pineapple in them) and, among other things, also got some ice cream. I've been craving ice cream lately. So now we're going to have some ice cream and finish off those frosting cookies--and call it a weekend.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Living Constitution

This comment comes from the SF Chronicle article about the filibuster of Goodwin Liu, and it's as good a synopsis of limited government as any I've read:
I am getting tired of arguing with the 'living Constitution' advocates - as their view begs the question of why the Constitution doesn't just say "Do whatever the hell you want...". Why go through the contortions, the word parsing, the pain of trying to bend logic and language around a re-distributionist/social justice model when they could have just given the Feds absolute power in the first place? The document is a useless jumble of words if the 'living' view holds - and we've just been deluding ourselves for 250 years waiting to find out the truth.

A Little Bit of Arithmetic Goes A Long Way

Given everything we know about Detroit, does this anecdote surprise anyone?
The Detroit Public Library won't close any branches after all, but questions linger about how officials almost did because of botched budget numbers.

At a committee meeting of the Detroit Library Commission today, administrators withdrew a recommendation to close as many as 10 of 23 neighborhood branches and lay off dozens of staffers...

Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cromer, who does budget projections for the library, said Thursday he is "willing to take the heat" for initial Doomsday predictions, but said he "wanted the correct information out."

After recommending closing most branches last month, administrators have repeatedly scaled back plans as errors emerged in their math.

Last week, the list was cut after The Detroit News pointed out officials misinterpreted tax collection projections for the system that is largely funded through a 4.6-mill tax.

This week, Cromer acknowledged the library forgot to factor in savings from the loss of 70 staffers to layoffs and retirements this spring.

Well, arithmetic, organization, and a couple of functioning brain cells would all be useful in this situation....

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
November 4, 1979. They were held for 444 days, being released on the day President Reagan was inaugurated. President Reagan asked President Carter to greet the former hostages at the hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany, an offer Carter accepted. After medical checkups and debriefings the former hostages were taken to West Point for a hero's welcome.

Today's question is:
What country did the Soviet Union invade in 1979?

Out. Of. Control.

With a shocking altercation between Philadelphia police and a 25-year-old IT worker putting the spotlight back on open-carry gun laws, local authorities are warning gun owners that they will be "inconvenienced" if they carry unconcealed handguns in the city.

Lt. Raymond Evers, a spokesman for the city police, told FoxNews.com that gun owners who open carry, which is legal in the city, may be asked to lay on the ground until officers feel safe while they check permits. link

They are stating outright that they will intentionally "inconvenience" citizens who follow the law, and for whom there is no reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. How long will people tolerate that kind of behavior from their public employees?

Friday, May 20, 2011

At The State Level, I Could Support This

I'm much more lenient about what I think states should be able to do legally versus what the federal government can legally do. States can do all sorts of things, and while I might not agree with all of them, for any number of reasons, I'm more likely to challenge them on economic grounds than on constitutional grounds.

This socialist-type law is one that strikes me as humane, decent, and not overly-injurious to business, and hence can support it:
Workers in California would be entitled to bereavement leave after the death of a close relative under legislation that cleared the Assembly this week.

The measure would allow employees to take up to four days off work upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild or domestic partner.

Proposed by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, Assembly Bill 325 cleared the lower house Thursday by a vote of 48-26, with no Republican support. It now goes to the Senate.

Employees could be required to document the death of their relative, perhaps by an obituary or funeral notice. They would not be entitled to pay during bereavement, unless they use vacation, leave, or other compensatory time off.

I'd have a totally different opinion if this law mandated paid time off, but since it doesn't, count me as a supporter. (Full disclosure: one of my employment benefits is paid time off for bereavement leave for certain family members, and I've taken paid time off after the death of a brother and the death of one of my grandmothers).

Of course, this being California, lawmakers went overboard and added some stupid-sounding provisions:
Opponents counter that businesses need flexibility to work such matters out with employees, free of political interference. They also ridicule provisions that allow leave to be taken for up to 13 months after the relative's death -- and on days that are not consecutive.
I'm sure the reasoning for that could be having to deal with wills and probate and attorneys and the like, which are not dealt with immediately upon death, but I counter that that's not "bereavement". Bereavement is for when you're just too distraught to come to work, or need to be with family in the very trying times of a close death.

Still, when put on balance, I see this as more positive than negative and, as I said, not overly injurious to business. I'll still support it.

The Deadline Was Today

What action did the President take with respect to the War Powers Act? None. I could find no story on CNN's home page, and here's what I got from Fox:
The deadline for President Obama to secure congressional authorization for the military operation in Libya went whizzing by Friday without such a vote, fueling lawmakers' concerns that the administration was flouting the law, but the White House insisted it was on solid legal footing...

Asked about the requirements in the law, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney cited the president's ongoing consultation with Congress and claimed his actions "have been and are consistent with the War Powers Resolution." He said the White House would continue to consult with Congress, adding that the administration would "welcome an expression of support" from lawmakers.

But sporadic attempts to cobble together language in support of U.S. intervention so far have not yielded a firm resolution in Congress. The House wasn't even in session this week.

Let's see what the Constitution has to say is the role of the president:
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States. (boldface mine--Darren)

Agree with the law or not, is he faithfully executing it? Only a partisan can answer that question in the affirmative.

The president has gone beyond buffoon into far more dangerous territory.

Update, 5/21/11: Didn't you just know he'd try to play this reindeer game?
In an effort to satisfy those arguing he needs to seek congressional authorization to continue US military activity in accordance with the War Powers Resolution, President Obama wrote a letter to congressional leaders this afternoon suggesting that the role is now so “limited” he does not need to seek congressional approval.

The last president who tried the "it's not illegal if the president does it" game resigned prior to impeachment.

If the law is unconstitutional, and it could be, then a court should decide that, not the president.

Update #2, 5/25/11: Is the WPA good law?
President Barack Obama has violated the 1973 War Powers Resolution.

That is a good thing. The War Powers Resolution was constitutionally dubious when it was passed -- by a Democratic Party-controlled Congress intent on obstructing the powers of a Republican president.

Instead of taking a principled stance against a questionable law, however, President Obama chose to mask his violation with cleverness -- a corrosive, shallow cleverness smacking of the worst in partisan skullduggery.

Too bad. Tackling the War Powers Act would have strengthened the presidency as an institution and reinforced Obama's moral authority.
Good law or not, it is the law.

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
On what date were the American Embassy hostages in Iran taken?

Who Supports Free Speech?

Not these college students.

My favorite line: "I've got no tolerance, man."

It's Been Awhile Since We've Had A "Teachers Behaving Badly" Post

And the story comes from the Daily Mail in the UK:
Police in Texas have arrested another two teachers for allegedly having sex with their students.

Angela New, 39, was jailed after she allegedly slept with an 18-year old from her school a month before he was due to graduate.

And April Alexander, 26, was jailed after being accused of having sex with a 16-year old student on more than 25 occasions.

The arrest of the two women follows the jailing of mother of three Brittni Colleps, who allegedly staged a sex orgy at her home while her serviceman husband was away on duty.

Colleps is accused of inviting the boys to her home in Arlington, Texas, where she allowed their sex romps to be filmed on cell phone cameras.

The 27-year old is facing up to ten years in jail after being charged with five felony counts of inappropriate relationships between a student and a teacher.

In the latest incidents, biology teacher Alexander was arrested at her home in Irving, Texas, after police received a tip off that she had been seeing one of her former students.

A police investigation alleges she began a relationship with a former student two years ago...

A day after Alexander's arrest, police in Gladewater, Texas, arrested 39-year old Angela New.

School chiefs had been tipped off about her alleged affair with the 18-year old and launched an investigation before calling in police.

If stuff like this is going on at my school, I don't know about it and don't want to know about it.

Patriotism and Common Sense at the University of Missouri

Not much of either, at least in one course:
While claiming the American flag represents racism and discussing today’s Progressive Movement’s efforts to defeat America both at home and abroad, including on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to help their international “comrades,” Communist Tony Pecinovsky pulls the mask off today’s Progressive Movement in two new exclusive Big Government videos of a University of Missouri course offering, already much in the news...

Finally, to think that a university selling this anti-American, anti-Capitalist ideology would get $400 million in taxpayer dollars, only to squander some portion of it on classes and an institute of some kind to poison young minds against the very country that built and now largely funds said institution, is only adding insult to injury.

I keep a list of quotations that appeal to me, and one quote by Eric Hoffer no doubt fits this situation:
"People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them."

Communists are cowards.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Damned Injury

Tomorrow was supposed to be the first and only day of school I'd miss all year. I made it through cold and flu season without a sniffle and didn't even take a mental health day off all year, but Friday, May 20th, that was supposed to be a biggie. I've had it on my calendar for months. I was going to attend an ROTC graduation at the University of San Francisco, the first time a former student had invited me to attend a graduation. And the fact that it's ROTC made it even more significant to me.

I can't drive, and even if I could get to USF, I can't hobble more than a couple dozen yards without exhausting myself. There's no way I could get around campus to a graduation in my condition. And it really bothers me.

I just Skyped with this officer-to-be, and while he definitely understands my plight, I'm still bothered. I wanted more than this, more than being a invalid in my own house on such an important day.

To Lieutenant Rochelle (doesn't that just sound awesome?!): I'm very proud of you. Well done!

To whatever force I can blame this injury on: screw you.

Gotta Change The Name Of That School

For decades, a San Francisco preschool in an underserved, predominantly black neighborhood bore the name of Peter Burnett, California's first elected civilian governor.

The problem is, Burnett was a staunch racist who supported the exclusion of blacks from the state, the suspension of Chinese immigration and the extermination of Native Americans.

Last year, while reading a book about the history of race relations in California, local NAACP chapter president Rev. Amos Brown said he uncovered "the chilling details" of Burnett's tenure from 1849 to 1851.

"I called the superintendent and I said, 'We need to change the name of that school,'" he said of the Burnett Child Development Center in the Bayview-Hunter's Point neighborhood. "There was a great team effort in the community after I sounded the alarm." link

I don't believe in changing the name of schools and the like, but hey, I'm hip, I'm groovy, I'm modern, I'm willing to play along, I can move with the times. The City of Berkeley was named after a slave-owning Anglican priest. And the City of San Francisco is named after a Catholic, of all people, and we all know what those Catholic priests do to children, and what they think of homosexuality and abortion.

You know what? I'm converted to the cause. Let the name-changing begin!

It's Been Awhile Since I Posted A "Strange Things In California" Post

No, I'm not going to talk about Schwarzenegger's 13-year-old son that few knew about until a few days ago. I mean, seriously, is that "strange"? Sad, perhaps, but certainly not out of the ordinary.

No, there are two stories I came across today that show that we're a bit off here in the land of fruits and nuts. In the first, the Speaker of the state Assembly (lower house of the legislature) has seemingly lied, or at the very least hasn't corrected miscommunications, about his status as a college graduate:
But the record is wrong: Pérez dropped out of UC Berkeley and never returned.

For a decade, Pérez's designation as a UC Berkeley graduate went unchallenged in newspaper articles, biographies and public pronouncements - until after he won his first Assembly race in 2008.

Since his election, Pérez has emerged as one of California's most powerful officials. He was elected Assembly speaker in 2009. As speaker, he is also an ex-officio regent of the University of California.

His latest official biography says he attended UC Berkeley. But until 2008, biographies of Pérez often said he had graduated from the prestigious public university, records show.

As you might imagine, this will not be news in California, and his position as Assembly Speaker is no doubt safe. Neither a college degree nor honesty is required for the job.

This next one is one of those flaky stories you don't think will every really happen until it does, and then, wow, you learn it's working its way through the legislature:
Lawmakers have taken a step to make California more relevant in presidential politics, voting to give the state's electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

That's right, boys and girls, Candidate A could win the popular vote in California but all of California's electoral votes could go to Candidate B if Candidate B wins the national popular vote! Since California now votes reliably Democratic, expect this law, if passed, to go by the wayside the next time a Republican wins the national popular vote.

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
In what year were women first admitted to the US Military, Naval, Air Force, and Coast Guard Academies?

Unwittingly Funny Headline From The Washington Post

California Gov. Brown takes step toward testing sanity

He tested it and didn't like it.

Obama Circuit Court Pick Successfully Filibustered By Republicans

Just over a year ago I wrote about Goodwin Liu, President Obama's pick to sit on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Today his nomination was filibustered in the Senate; Professor Liu will not be a circuit court judge.

I listened to Hugh Hewitt a few moments ago as he interviewed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the Liu filibuster was discussed at length. Hewitt's link on the subject is here, which should shortly contain a transcript of that interview so you can judge for yourself if what I present here is accurate.

There are some Democratic chickens that are coming home to roost here. Democrats, are you happy with this outcome? Senator McConnell stated that Democrats filibustered President Bush's nominations--specifically mentioning Miguel Estrada--and that Republicans effectively lost the "up-or-down vote" battle when that happened and are now merely adjusting to the new reality of the Senate. Again--Democrats, are you happy with those seeds you've sown? Hewitt stated that he thinks all nominees reported out of committee deserve an up-or-down vote; did Senator McConnell think that this could serve notice to the Democrats that maybe they should sit down with Republicans and craft some "no filibuster on judicial nominees" rule? McConnell replied that he did not see such a discussion in the near future.

What I got from Hewitt was very much a consistent, reasoned set of questions on Liu, and from McConnell an acknowledgement of Realpolitik in the Senate. I cannot remember which one said it--I guess we'll find out when Hewitt posts the transcript--but one of them said that Republicans cannot just roll over when Democrats change the rules of the game (when they started filibustering judicial nominations under President Bush) and continue to play by the old rules of comity. McConnell also said that Liu's views are very extreme, that his writings seem to imply that judges can make law up as they go along.

Both sides have now slapped. Will they consider themselves "even" and try to work these kinds of issues out together in the future, or will this escalate into a brawl?

Update: Less than two hours later the transcript is posted at the link above. I'll quote some of the highlights.
MM (Mitch McConnell): So I think the reason for it (Liu's filibuster) is quite clear. He had the view that it’s perfectly permissible, and even desirable for judges to kind of make it up as they go, in other words, to act as legislators. It probably didn’t help him any that he testified against both Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, and used some rather strident language in describing both of them. But I think the core reason he was denied a vote, and therefore defeated, was because he seemed to be uninterested in what the Constitution, or even the case law, might require a judge to do, and really, pretty openly, said he believed in judges ought to do whatever they think is the right thing to do.

HH (Hugh Hewitt): Now Leader McConnell, a lot of scholars, including Ken Starr, president of Baylor, former solicitor general and D.C. Circuit judge, weighed in on behalf of Professor Liu. Was it a close call in the minds of many of the Senators in your caucus? Or was this an easy one for them to invoke filibuster on?

MM: Well, Republicans…hey, you know, in the early part of the previous decade, argued very strenuously against filibustering judges. But frankly, we lost that battle. They filibustered Miguel Estrada, an extremely well-qualified nominee of President Bush’s seven times, and hung up a huge number of his judges. And I think it just dawned on a bunch of us that that battle had been lost, and clearly, the Senate would now filibuster a judge when it deemed the judge objectionable. And so all we did today was simply follow the new norm in the Senate, and I’m pleased that with one exception, every single Republican voted against giving Mr. Liu a vote.

There's that Realpolitik I spoke of. And it was Hewitt who mentioned "rolling over":
HH: My question, Leader McConnell, is does this open the door for some kind of an amendment of the Senate rules so that all judicial nominees, both Republican and Democrats, are guaranteed up or down votes if they get out of committee? Is there a chance here to go back, because I’m one of those critics of the extra-Constitutional standard. At the same time, I don’t believe the Republicans can roll over and allow their judges to be filibustered and not pay back when the Democrats come along. Is there a chance now to perhaps reopen that and get a rule that guarantees nominees an up or down?

MM: No, I don’t think so.

Go read the full transcript; I think you'll see the differences I spoke of--McConnell's reality vs. Hewitt's "way it outta be".

Update #2: From the Washington Examiner:
Liu's nomination was blocked by a Republican filibuster Thursday -- the first successful filibuster against a judicial nominee since Democrats stopped all 10 of George W. Bush's appeals court nominees from 2003 to 2005. Although no one back then could have predicted that today's fight would be about Liu, everyone knew it was going to happen sometime. Once Democrats crossed the line to filibuster those Bush nominees, you could bet Republicans would strike back. And now they have.

If the Republicans really want to pay the insult back, they have 9 more to filibuster. Hey lefties, is this how you want your government run? No? Then maybe you need to learn to play nice.

Did He Lie?

If not, what's the significant change that's merited this tectonic flip-flop?
In 2008 Barack Obama told American Jewish leaders that he would not divide Jerusalem.

But that was when he needed the Jewish vote.

Today Obama rewarded the Hamas-Farah alliance by telling Israel to divide Jerusalem and move back to the 1967 borders.

Jews, who in this country vote overwhelmingly Democrat, should be embarrassed by their support of this president.

Update, 5/20/11: Does this guy sound like a madman? He sounds calm and realistic to me.

Update #2, 5/22/11: Did Obama backtrack? Reiterate? Say whatever he had to in order to get reelection money from AIPAC? Regarding his speech at AIPAC:
The president did not disappoint. The speech, as you can read for yourself, was full of obligatory promises of how the United States stands by Israel, and how his administration has done whatever it had to in order to guarantee Israel’s military requirements and security...

So what are we to make of all this?

On this issue, the critical response came during the panel that followed. The points in the president’s speech, Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens said, “are not as innocent as he made them out to be.” To this, Stephens received a large ovation from the assembled delegates, more than Obama received for any points that he had made...

So the question is, as I conclude, whether or not the president means it, whether or not he will backpedal in the other direction, and whether he will seek to mend matters with Prime Minister Netanyahu, rather than push him in directions Israel does not want to go. We now have evidence that in a few short days, the pressure moved the president away from the contentious trap he set before meeting PM Netanyahu. Will he now change again facing pressure from the “realists,” the anti-Israel left wing, and the Arab nations — including those of the Arab Spring that are turning out to be vigorous enemies of Israel? Time, as usual, will tell.

President Richard Milhous Obama

That's the funniest line I've read in awhile, and it comes from this article:
Boston Herald, welcome to the official “Enemies List!”

No, my Herald colleagues, you aren’t the first journalists to feel the wrath of President Richard Milhaus Obama. And you won’t be the last.

Giving a reporter the boot because you don’t like the Herald’s coverage — classic Obama, says David Freddoso, author of the book “Gangster Government,” who reminded me that during the 2010 campaign, the president promised that “We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends.”

And the Boston Herald is not one of the president’s friends.

Remember the White House’s self-declared “War On Fox News?” Upset by unfavorable coverage, they declared that Fox was “not a legitimate news organization,” tried to get a Fox reporter banned from a press pool interview and announced no more Obama interviews for the rest of the year. Team Obama only backed down when other media outlets objected.

Last month the White House kicked San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci out of the local press pool for recording protesters at an Obama event. And according to Chronicle editor at large Phil Bronstein, “more than a few journalists familiar with this story are aware of some implied threats from the White House of additional and wider punishment if Carla’s spanking became public.”

Then there was the Orlando Sentinel reporter stuck in a closet during a Joe Biden fundraiser by White House hacks. “Every time I . . . stepped out to see what was going on a staffer told me I couldn’t come out yet,” Scott Powers reported.

And now it’s the Herald.

“I tend to consider the degree to which papers have demonstrated to covering the White House regularly and fairly in determining local pool reporters,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said.

Some conservatives are using this to mock “the most transparent administration in history,” but I disagree completely. Team Obama is beyond transparent — it’s utterly shameless.

Seriously — barring “unfriendly” reporters from political events? What’s next — a Biden speech about the “nattering nabobs of negativity?”

The last time we had a president this paranoid about his enemies, Woody Allen was still making movies that were actually funny.

And remember, this is the administration that wants prospective government contractors to disclose how much money they've given to Republican causes before they get the government contracts.

Dogs and Cats, Lying Down Together

Politics makes strange bedfellows, so to speak:
The former president of the Washington Teachers' Union is joining Michelle Rhee's education advocacy group as a senior fellow...

If you'll recall, the teachers' union and Rhee got along like a tornado crawling with bedbugs and virtually anything else. Parker was ousted from his presidency by his vice president, Nathan Saunders, who charged Parker with being too soft at the negotiating table with Rhee and her deputy, now Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson.

In the release, Rhee acknowledged that she and Parker are strange bedfellows.

"George and I clearly don't see eye-to-eye on everything," she said. "But ... he and I came up with a teachers' contract that dramatically changed how D.C. public schools operate. I hope, working together again, we can come up with effective ideas for improving how schools serve children nationally."

For his part, Parker doesn't toss unions out the window. Sort of. "I also look forward to advancing the role of unions in education reform," he said. "Teachers unions represent a very unique component of the American workforce. If our country's schools are to improve, the unions must be an integral part of the solution."

If he thinks unions are "integral" to school improvement, I don't see how he and Rhee can work together. This can't last.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How The Mighty Have Fallen

It's hard to feel sorry for Ted Rall, disgusting human that he is. I actually find it entertaining that he has the gall to whine that no one will publish his work now:
Ted Rall's cartoons and opinion pieces were all the rage when he was attacking George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and American soldiers.

But now that there's a man in the White House the press absolutely adore, the once syndicated polemicist claims he's having a hard time getting anyone to publish his work:

In the past, editorial rejections had numerous causes: low budgets, lack of space, an editor who simply preferred another creator's work over yours.

Now there' s a new cause for refusal: Too tough on the president.

I've heard that from enough "liberal" websites and print publications to consider it a significant trend.

A sample of recent rejections, each from editors at different left-of-center media outlets:

· "I am familiar with and enjoy your cartoons. However the readers of our site would not be comfortable with your (admittedly on point) criticism of Obama."

· "Don't be such a hater on O and we could use your stuff. Can't you focus more on the GOP?"

· "Our first African-American president deserves a chance to clean up Bush's mess without being attacked by us."

I have many more like that.

What's weird is that these cultish attitudes come from editors and publishers whose politics line up neatly with mine. They oppose the bailouts. They want us out of Afghanistan and Iraq. They disapprove of Obama's new war against Libya. They want Obama to renounce torture and Guantánamo.

Did he really believe they published his crap because he was "right on"? What a tool. Ted, you're what's known as a "useful idiot" and you've outlived your usefulness, at least until the next Republican president. And believe me, "idiot" is the nicest term that could be applied to you.

The War Powers Act

I first learned about the War Powers Act in law class at West Point. At the time I questioned its legality, but in the intervening years I'm come to think that the Founders would have approved of allowing the President to act immediately in a situation but would, in fact, have to get Congressional approval within a reasonable time. The presidency is not imperial, and being the Commander-in-Chief does not give the president unchecked authority to use the military however he wants. It's obvious--except, perhaps, for the most rabidly partisan--that the Founders intended that both the executive and the legislature would have a say in military operations, each in their own way. The War Powers Act seems to me to be reasonably in accord with that sentiment.

So what happens in two days?
This week, the War Powers Act confronts its moment of truth. Friday will mark the 60th day since President Obama told Congress of his Libyan campaign. According to the act, that declaration started a 60-day clock: If Obama fails to obtain congressional support for his decision within this time limit, he has only one option — end American involvement within the following 30 days...

His (Obama's) March 21 letter to Congress telling of the Libyan campaign stated that it was “consistent with the War Powers Resolution.” And his Justice Department issued an opinion that acknowledged the 60-day rule without questioning its constitutionality.

Why, then, hasn’t the president been pressing Congress to approve the war before the looming deadline? Because it’s easier to paper over the problem with new legal fictions pretending that the time limit doesn’t apply to this instance...

Once Obama crosses the Rubicon, future presidents will simply cite Libya when they unilaterally commit America to far more ambitious NATO campaigns.

Make no mistake: Obama is breaking new ground, moving decisively beyond his predecessors. George W. Bush gained congressional approval for his wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bill Clinton acted unilaterally when he committed American forces to NATO’s bombing campaign in Kosovo, but he persuaded Congress to approve special funding for his initiative within 60 days. And the entire operation ended on its 78th day.

In contrast, Congress has not granted special funds for Libya since the bombing began, and the campaign is likely to continue beyond the 30-day limit set for termination of all operations.
I'm sure our friends on the left will explain to us how President Bush's presidency was "imperial" but President Obama's is something else--maybe they'll call it "practical" or something that sounds equally innocuous. Or maybe, after supporting it for almost 40 years, they'll say it's unconstitutional.

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question, the last in 1960-1969 Week, is:
Stonewall Inn, from which comes the name of the Stonewall Riots.

Today's question, the first in 1970-1979 Week, is:
In what year were women first allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon?

A Little Needling For The Nanny-Staters

C.S. Lewis once wrote that "of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." Rulers who just want to exploit us may relax once their greed's sated.

But "those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience," Lewis said.

Via Reason.