Zero Tolerance

This is a law that shouldn’t need to be passed, but somehow it has become necessary, that is an actual law to keep children from being suspended for pointing their fingers like a gun.

Zero tolerance for zero tolerance. That’s how one lawmaker feels about young children being suspended from school for forming their finger or food in the shape of a gun.

As Gigi Barnett explains, he has a bill designed to keep students in class if they’re caught.

State Senator J.B. Jennings says he does not intend for this bill to be a part of the growing gun debate in Maryland, but he does say he wants it to bring some common sense discipline to state schools.

Anne Arundel County school leaders suspended 7-year-old Joshua Welch last week for eating a pastry in the shape of a gun.

“When you compare the caliber of the offense to the caliber of the punishment, they don’t match up,” the boy’s father said.

Back in January, 6-year-old Rodney Lynch received the same punishment for forming his fingers in the shape of a gun. Montgomery County school leaders sent Rodney home for two days.

“These kids are 6 or 7-years-old. They don’t understand what they’re doing,” said Sen. J.B. Jennings.

State Senator J.B. Jennings says zero tolerance rules on school campuses are going too far, so he wrote a bill. It bans school leaders from suspending students who make the shape of a gun with their fingers or food, or students who draw a gun on a piece of paper.

“If it’s done in a violent manner, then yes, we can take it to the next level. We can look at suspension,” said Jennings.

Jennings says his office has received several calls from parents who fear that a suspension in elementary school will mar their children’s academic career.

“So the parents are the one’s who’ve had concerns saying ‘okay, now my kid has to carry this.’ So when they get into middle school and they start placing them in classes, they’re going to look and say ‘well wait a minute, this kid has been suspended when he was in second grade.’ And he’s always going to be looked at as ‘what did he do?’” Jennings said.

If the bill passes and a student is caught forming their food or fingers in the shape of a gun, they would be sent to a counselor’s office first–not suspension.

Jennings says the  bill is heading to the Education Committee. If it passes, it goes to the full Senate for a vote.

I have noticed that zero tolerance often implies zero judgement or zero common sense. In these sort of cases, though, I wonder if the administrators in question are simply trying to indoctrinate children into believing that anything that looks like a gun is evil and dangerous. They surely can’t really believe that a boy who chews a pastry into the shape of a gun is going to show up in school the next day with a real gun. Surely no one is that detached from reality, right?

Hugo Chavez to be on Display

I have to wonder what it is about the followers of Socialist and Communist dictators that makes them want to put their dead leaders on public display. According to this article by the AP, that is the plan for Chavez’s corpse.

Hugo Chavez‘s body will be preserved and forever displayed inside a glass tomb at a military museum not far from the presidential palace from which he ruled for 14 years, his successor announced Thursday in a Caribbean version of the treatment given Communist revolutionary leaders such as Lenin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh.

English: Hugo Chavez Español: Hugo Chavez
Then again, being stuffed, he will do less damage to Venezuela(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s acting head of state, said Chavez would first lie in state for “at least” seven more days before the museum becomes his permanent home. It was not clear when exactly he would be moved from the military academy where his body has been since Wednesday.

I suppose this procedure is meant to continue the cult of personality, and for all I know, maybe the ancient Pharaohs of Egypt had their bodies mummified for that reason. It’s still a grisly custom, keeping a dead body preserved for people to gawk at, and I think they should just bury him.

By the way anti-war, far left wing nutcase Cindy Sheehan wrote quite a moving elegy for her fallen hero on her blog

A wonderful human being has passed.
What do I do when I am angry, happy, or sad? I write.
Back in 2004, shortly after my son, Casey, was killed in Iraq, a grief counselor advised me to write a letter to my son in a journal every night. I filled up three journals in the terrible months after his death. I often wrote at his grave and those journals did help me deal with the unspeakable loss.
Today, I write from a great well of sadness, but not just for me, for the world. My dear friend in peace and justice, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, just lost his fierce and valiant battle with cancer.
Many people know about Hugo Chavez, the president, and constant thorn in the side to El Imperio the meddlesome and harmful Empire to the north. But I want to eulogize Chavez the man I knew.
He was my dear friend and comrade in a way where we were united in the struggle for peace and economic justice and equality. It’s not like I could text him, or we would chat about current events, but whenever I had the privilege to be with him, warmth radiated from his heart and I was able to connect with him in very real and human ways. Compared to the palpable realness of Chavez, most of the US politicians I have met with are walking and talking ice sculptures.
She goes on and on, but that’s as far as I could read of this tribute to a tyrant before I started to gag. Still, I thought I might console her for her grief, so I left a comment saying, “Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll find another dictator to fawn over.” The comment was removed almost immediately. I guess she follows her hero’s example when it comes to opinions she doesn’t like.

Wacko Birds

John McCain is not too happy with Rand Paul’s filibuster, especially since it took attention away from his dinner with Barack Obama. Here is an article about it in the Washington Examiner.

Elder Sen. John McCain, who this week engaged in friendly fire when he launched his “maverick” missiles at fellow Republicans seeking clarification on the administration’s drone policies, has upped the ante, deriding Tea Party-backed GOP lawmakers as “wacko birds.”
McCain, who hit the Senate floor Thursday to belittle Sen. Rand Paul‘s filibuster, which succeeded in getting an answer from President Obama that drones won’t be used to kill Americans on U.S. soil, even suggested that the Kentucky senator and his allies, like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, don’t represent the GOP mainstream.

“It’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone,” McCain told Huffington Post’s Jon Ward in a story titled “John McCain: Getting Back To Maverick, With An Eye On Retirement.”

He added, “I think it can be harmful if there is a belief among the American people that those people are reflective of the views of the majority of Republicans. They’re not.”

Ward wrote: “I asked McCain to clarify who, specifically, he was talking about.”

McCain said, “Rand Paul, Cruz, Amash, whoever.”

Despite McCain’s view, several GOP leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, praised Paul’s efforts. McConnell even said he was “proud” of Paul, further proof of a growing divide in the Senate Republican caucus.

Conservatives have expressed outrage at McCain’s hit on Paul, raising anew the charges in the 2008 presidential campaign that he is too much of a maverick for the GOP.

“He showed his true colors. He has now attacked Senator Cruz and Senator Paul for basically leading and keeping promises they made to their constituents not too mention their oath to uphold the Constitution,” said one activist.

But the clash also put on display the fight between the old bulls and the new turks for control of the party, other said.

So, who does reflect the views of the majority of Republicans? “Maverick” John McCain, who stabs his fellow Republicans anytime he thinks it will get him good coverage in the New York Times? If actually standing up for conservative principles instead of being defensive and apologetic makes one a “wacko bird”, than we need more wacko birds out there. Maybe the Republicans can start winning elections for a change.

Ion Propulsion

Improved designs in ion engines may be the ticket for making trips to the outer solar system quicker and more feasible both for unmanned probes and (I hope) manned spacecraft. I haven’t been keeping up with space exploration as much as I used to, so I am glad to find this article in Gizmag which explains a little about ion engines and how scientists have been making them better.

The phrase “engage the ion drive” still has the ring of a line from Star Wars, but these engines have been used in space missions for more than four decades and remain the subject of ongoing research. Ion engines have incredible fuel efficiency, but their low thrust requires very long operating times … and therein lies the rub. To date, erosion within such an engine seriously limits its operational lifetime. Now a group of researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has developed a new design that largely eliminates this erosion, opening the gates for higher thrust and more efficient drives for manned and unmanned missions to the reaches of the Solar System.

There are many varieties and more proposals (the VASMIR engine comes to mind), but the operating principle is quite simple. There are two basic styles of ion engines, electrostatic and electromagnetic.

An electrostatic ion engine works by ionizing a fuel (often xenon or argon gas) by knocking off an electron to make a positive ion. The positive ions then diffuse into a region between two charged grids that contain an electrostatic field. This accelerates the positive ions out of the engine and away from the spacecraft, thereby generating thrust. Finally, an neutralizer sprays electrons into the exhaust plume at a rate that keeps the spacecraft electrically neutral.

An electromagnetic ion engine also works by ionizing a fuel. In this case a plasma is created that carries current between the ionizing anode and a cathode. The current in turn generates a magnetic field at right angles to the electric field, and thereby accelerates the positive ions out of the engine via the Lorentz force – basically the same effect on which railguns are based. Again a neutralizer keeps the spacecraft electrically neutral.

There are many varieties and more proposals (the VASMIR engine comes to mind), but the operating principle is quite simple. There are two basic styles of ion engines, electrostatic and electromagnetic.

 

There is a lot more in the article.

Even Scotty would be impressed by this.

Though, what we really need is warp drive. Anyone doing research on that?

 

Dr. Paul Goes to Washington

I don’t have much to say about Rand Paul‘s filibuster that hasn’t already been said, though I can recommend an article from Reason.com: Three Takeaways from Rand Paul’s Filibuster. Here are some excerpts.

Yet since showing up in D.C., Paul has been exactly what Reason dubbed him: “The most intersting man in the Senate” who has offered specific legislation and made extended arguments for a unified vision of limited government that is not only fully within some great lines of American political tradition but urgently needed in the current moment. Senators who pride themselves on their foreign policy expertise and have free-loaded for decades in D.C. haven’t made a speech as thoughtful and out-front as the one he delivered a while back at The Heritage Foundation, for god’s sake.

Make no mistake: Despite the presence of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), yesterday’s filibuster was a GOP-conducted orchestra. But what was most bracing and ultimately powerful thing about the filibuster was that none of the speakers exempted the Republican Party or former President George W. Bush, whose aggrandized view of executive power still roils the sleep of the Founding Fathers, from withering criticism and scrutiny. How else to explain that hard-left groups such as Code Pink were proud to #standwithrand yesterday on Twitter? The same with reliable Rand and GOP critic Eugene Robinson and many others who up until yesterday thought little of Rand Paul.

The filibuster succeeded precisely because it wasn’t a cheap partisan ploy but because the substance under discussion – why won’t the president of the United States, his attorney general, and his nominee to head the CIA explain their views on limits to their power? – transcends anything so banal or ephemeral as party affiliation or ideological score-settling.

The chills started early in the filibuster as Paul said things along the lines of, “If you’re gonna kill people in America [as terrorists], you need rules and we need to know your rules,” and “To be bombed in your sleep – there’s nothing American, nothing constitutional, about that” (these quotes are paraphrases). Those are not the words of a career politician trying to gain an advantage during the next round of horse-trading over a pork-barrel project. They are the words of a patriot who puts his country first and they inspire accordingly.

A year or so ago, we were debating whether the government had the right to force its citizens to engage in particular economic activity – that was the heart of the fight over the mandate to buy insurance in Obamacare. That overreach – and the fear that a government that can make you buy something can also theoretically make you eat broccoli – was at the heart of Rand Paul’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court ruled that in fact, the federal government not only has the right to regulate commercial transactions that take place anywhere in these United States, it has the right to force them to take place.

And now, we’re arguing over whether the president of the United States in his role as commander in chief in an ill-defined, barely articulated “global war on terror” has the right to kill U.S. citizens without presenting any sort of charges to any sort of court. In fact, it’s worse than that, since the president won’t even share his rationale for what he may or may not believe with the country’s legislature.

By foregounding the issues of limited government, transparency, and oversight as they relate specifically to the most obvious and brazen threat to civil liberties imaginable, Rand Paul and his filibuster have also tied a direct line to a far more wide-ranging and urgently needed conversation about what sort of government we have in America – and what sort of government we should have.

I am glad to see that somebody in Washington is doing his job. There needs to be some sort of discussion about when and where it is appropriate to use drones to assassinate suspected terrorists, not just their potential use against American citizens in the United States, but our general strategy abroad. I fear we have been too ready to trust the executive with these sort of life and death decisions. We might have had good cause in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, but perhaps it is time to step back and reconsider what we are trying to accomplish in the War on Terror and how we should go about it. This needs to be a bi-partisan discussion, if possible.

Meanwhile, I am starting to like Rand Paul. I understand that John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and some of the other establishment Republicans aren’t too happy with Paul. Well, they are the ones who have been running the GOP into the ground by not standing for much of anything.

 

Teaching the Bible in Schools

I have long felt that the Bible should be taught in public schools. Not as religious scripture, that would be unconstitutional and undesirable. I mean that the literary and historic aspects of the Bible should be taught as part of any effort to acquaint students of their American and Western heritage. Nothing comes even close to the impact that the Bible has had on Western civilization for the last two thousand years and it is all but impossible to really appreciate our cultural heritage without some knowledge of the Bible.It wasn’t that long ago that everyone was thoroughly familiar with the Bible. Public speakers, whatever their private opinions about religion could make allusions to Biblical verses and their audience would understand precisely what they were trying to say. Thus, Lincoln, who may have been a skeptic, could quote Jesus in saying that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. The founding fathers were a diverse lot regarding religious beliefs and practices, some were orthodox Christians, some were Deists, but the Bible was part of their education and all of them shared a common, biblical, Judeo-Christian worldview, even if any of them explicitly rejected the Christian religion. By effectively removing the Bible from our education and our culture, we have lost something very important.

I am glad to discover that I am not alone in that opinion, as this opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett shows. They make the case better than I could so I hope you don’t mind if I quote it in its entirety.

Have you ever sensed in your own life that “the handwriting was on the wall”? Or encouraged a loved one to walk “the straight and narrow”?

Have you ever laughed at something that came “out of the mouths of babes”? Or gone “the extra mile” for an opportunity that might vanish “in the twinkling of an eye”?

If you have, then you’ve been thinking of the Bible.

These phrases are just “a drop in the bucket” (another biblical phrase) of the many things we say and do every day that have their origins in the most read, most influential book of all time. The Bible has affected the world for centuries in innumerable ways, including art, literature, philosophy, government, philanthropy, education, social justice and humanitarianism. One would think that a text of such significance would be taught regularly in schools. Not so. That is because of the “stumbling block” (the Bible again) that is posed by the powers that be in America.

It’s time to change that, for the sake of the nation’s children. It’s time to encourage, perhaps even mandate, the teaching of the Bible in public schools as a primary document of Western civilization.

We know firsthand of its educational value, having grown up in Europe—Mark in England, Roma in Ireland—where Bible teaching was viewed as foundational to a well-rounded education. Now that we are naturalized U.S. citizens, we want to encourage public schools in America to give young people the same opportunity.

This is one of the reasons we created “The Bible,” a 10-part miniseries premiering March 3 on the History Channel that dramatizes key stories from Scriptures. It will encourage audiences around the world to open or reopen Bibles to understand and enjoy these stories.

Without the Bible, Shakespeare would read differently—there are more than 1,200 references to Scripture in his works. Without the Bible, there would be no Sistine Chapel and none of the biblically inspired masterpieces that hang in countless museums world-wide.

In movies, without biblical allegories, there would be no “Les Misérables,” no “Star Wars,” no “Matrix,” no “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, no “Narnia” and no “Ben-Hur.” There would be no Alcoholics Anonymous, Salvation Army or Harvard University—all of which found their roots in Scripture. And really, what would Bono sing about if there were no Bible?

Teaching the Bible is of course a touchy subject. One can’t broach it without someone barking “separation of church and state” and “forcing religion down my throat.”

Yet the Supreme Court has said it’s perfectly OK for schools to do so, ruling in 1963 (Abington School District v. Schempp) that “the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as a part of a secular (public school) program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”

The Supreme Court understood that we’re not talking about religion here, and certainly not about politics. We’re talking about knowledge. The foundations of knowledge of the ancient world—which informs the understanding of the modern world—are biblical in origin. Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president known more as a cigar-chomping Rough Rider than a hymn-signing Bible-thumper, once said: “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”

Can you imagine students not reading the Constitution in a U.S. government class? School administrators not sharing the periodic table of the elements with their science classes? A driver’s ed course that expected young men and women to pass written and road tests without having access to a booklet enumerating the rules of the road?

It would be the same thing, we believe, to deny America’s sons and daughters the benefits of an education that includes a study of the Bible. Although we are both Christians, the list is long of ardent atheists who appreciate the Bible’s educational heft while rejecting its spiritual claims. It is possible to have education without indoctrination. On this point, believers and nonbelievers should be able to “see eye to eye.” (More Bible goodness.)

Interestingly enough, the common desktop reference guide “The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy” best sums up the Bible’s value as a tool of cultural literacy. Its first page declares: “No one in the English speaking world can be considered literate without a basic knowledge of the Bible.”

Can we hear an amen?

It will never happen. Teaching the Bible would mean teaching our Judeo-Christian heritage and the Leftists who control our public education detest that heritage. Besides, the Bible was written by dead, white men and everyone knows that dead, white men have never contributed anything of worth. There is also the danger that some young person may get the idea that there is a higher source of morality than the needs of the state. We can’t have that. They might even find someone other than Dear Leader to worship.

Hugo Chavez Dead

Hugo Chávez, President since 1999.
He’s gone to where the goblins go-below (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hugo Chavez, the president and dictator of Venezuela died today.  Here is the story in Yahoo News.

President Hugo Chavez was a fighter. The former paratroop commander and fiery populist waged continual battle for his socialist ideals and outsmarted his rivals time and again, defeating a coup attempt, winning re-election three times and using his country’s vast oil wealth to his political advantage.

A self-described “subversive,” Chavez fashioned himself after the 19th Century independence leader Simon Bolivar and renamed his country the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

He called himself a “humble soldier” in a battle for socialism and against U.S. hegemony. He thrived on confrontation with Washington and his political opponents at home, and used those conflicts to rally his followers.

Almost the only adversary it seemed he couldn’t beat was cancer. He died Tuesday in Caracas at 4:25 local time after his prolonged illness. He was 58.

During more than 14 years in office, his leftist politics and grandiose style polarized Venezuelans. The barrel-chested leader electrified crowds with his booming voice, and won admiration among the poor with government social programs and a folksy, nationalistic style.

His opponents seethed at the larger-than-life character who demonized them on television and ordered the expropriation of farms and businesses. Many in the middle class cringed at his bombast and complained about rising crime, soaring inflation and government economic controls.

Chavez used his country’s vast oil wealth to launch social programs that included state-run food markets, new public housing, free health clinics and education programs. Poverty declined during Chavez’s presidency amid a historic boom in oil earnings, but critics said he failed to use the windfall of hundreds of billions of dollars to develop the country’s economy.

Inflation soared and the homicide rate rose to among the highest in the world

Supporters eagerly raised Chavez to the pantheon of revolutionary legends ranging from Castro to Argentine-born rebel Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Chavez nurtured that cult of personality, and even as he stayed out of sight for long stretches fighting cancer, his out-sized image appeared on buildings and billboard throughout Venezuela. The airwaves boomed with his baritone mantra: “I am a nation.” Supporters carried posters and wore masks of his eyes, chanting, “I am Chavez.”

In the battles Chavez waged at home and abroad, he captivated his base by championing his country’s poor.

“This is the path: the hard, long path, filled with doubts, filled with errors, filled with bitterness, but this is the path,” Chavez told his backers in 2011. “The path is this: socialism.”

On television, he would lambast his opponents as “oligarchs,” scold his aides, tell jokes, reminisce about his childhood, lecture Venezuelans on socialism and make sudden announcements, such as expelling the U.S. ambassador or ordering tanks to Venezuela’s border with Colombia.

Chavez carried his in-your-face style to the world stage as well. In a 2006 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he called President George W. Bush the devil, saying the podium reeked of sulfur after the U.S. president’s address.

At a summit in 2007, he repeatedly called Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a fascist, prompting Spain’s King Juan Carlos to snap, “Why don’t you shut up?”

Critics saw Chavez as a typical Latin American caudillo, a strongman who ruled through force of personality and showed disdain for democratic rules. Chavez concentrated power in his hands with allies who dominated the congress and justices who controlled the Supreme Court.

“El Comandante,” as he was known, insisted Venezuela remained a vibrant democracy and denied charges that he sought to restrict free speech. But some opponents faced criminal charges and were driven into exile. His government forced the opposition-aligned television channel, RCTV, off the air by refusing to renew its license.’

Chavez’s legacy is that he gutted the Venezuelan constitution and drove his country’s economy into the ground. I would hope that who ever follows him restores democracy to Venezuela, but I am sure his allies will maintain control.

I know that it is wrong to feel joy over anyone’s death, even the death of a tyrant. Everyone of us has some worth, oh, who am I trying to fool. Let the joyous news be spread! The wicked tyrant is finally dead!

 

 

 

Sarah Palin is Not an Idiot

 

The conventional wisdom about Sarah Palin is that she is an ignorant snowbilly, too stupid to be trusted with any responsible position. John McCain’s choice of her as his running mate was such an obvious blunder that it cost him the election.

English: Sarah Palin speaking at a rally in El...

Well, if Sarah Palin is really so stupid, how is it that she understands the necessity of the federal government putting its fiscal house in order better than anyone who is actually in Washington D.C. ?

          D.C.: Cut the Drama. Do Your Job.Americans are sick and tired of yet another ginned-up crisis. D.C. needs to grow up, get to work, and live within its means. The real economic Armageddon looming before us is our runaway debt, not the sequester, which the President advocated for and signed into law and is now running around denouncing because he never had any genuine intention of reining in his reckless spending.

Remember that this sequestration deal came about because of the long debt ceiling standoff in the summer of 2011. It wasn’t the ideal outcome for anyone, but it did at least include real deficit reduction of about $110 billion per year for 10 years, which is still nowhere near enough to close our massive deficit. Keep in mind that since the sequester passed, the President has already hit American families and small business owners with his tax increases, or “more revenue” as he likes to call it. The American public doesn’t want tax increases; we want government to rein in its overspending.

If we can’t stomach modest cuts that would lower federal spending by a mere 0.3% per year out of a current federal budget of $3.6 trillion, then we might as well signal to the whole world that we have no serious intention of dealing with our debt problem.

If we are going to wet our proverbial pants over 0.3% in annual spending cuts when we’re running up trillion dollar annual deficits, then we’re done. Put a fork in us. We’re finished. We’re going to default eventually and that’s why the feds are stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest.

If we ARE serious about putting our fiscal house in order, then let’s stop the hysterics, tighten our belts, and take our medicine.

– Sarah Palin

I have to make one small correction here. The 0.3% spending cuts are not cuts at all, at least not in the way that normal people would understand cuts, they are simply cuts in rate of growth.

 

I guess that Sarah Palin lacks the superior intelligence and budgetary management skills of Joe Biden.

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Samizdata for posting Sarah Palin’s comments first.