Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday thoughts of the Obamas

Romans 2:11: "For God shows no partiality."

It is early Sunday morning, and in reading my Bible, my thoughts turn to my fellow Christians, Barack and Michelle Obama and their little girls. Like them, I am a churchgoing Christian. Like Barack, I had a conversion experience that changed my life. Like the Obamas, for years I have been taking my children to Sunday school and to church and church functions so that we can enjoy the fruits of fellowship in a community of Christians, take advantage of opportunities to serve the needy, and learn more about God and Jesus Christ, faith and salvation, and the way to abundant and eternal life as promised and shown in the Bible. I have discovered that there will always be more vivid lessons to learn when it comes to what God wants for us. There is no graduating from this class.

Like the Obama family, I have tried to follow the teachings, wisdom, and inspiring examples of my pastors and my fellow Christians in challenging myself to move closer to God and to do more and better good works for Him in this world. Despite what seems like some possibly opportunistic political reasons for the Obamas to have chosen Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's Southside in particular as their place of worship for the past 20 years, I cannot know for certain what was or is in their hearts. And I do not doubt for one minute the sincerity or the seriousness of their Christian faith, expressed in churchgoing for 20 years. That is not for me or anyone else but God to judge.

Their professed Christian faith makes the Obamas my brother and sisters in Christ, and it behooves me to consider them with Christian love this morning and every day. On that basis right now I feel sorry for them that Barack's choice to run for the Presidency has put them, thanks to their association with their particular church, and their evidently much-loved pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in a very uncomfortable hot seat. Barack's very human loyalty in continuing to stick up for and try to excuse or minimize the perverted teachings of the pastor he has looked up to for so long is touching--even as it drives him into telling evident lies and continues to damage his Presidential prospects. I see him now humanly fumbling as he tries to be compassionate in excusing the inexcusable. But the bald fact remains that the Obamas joined this church and stayed there for so long, assimilating such teachings without repudiating them until the spotlight of national politics forced them to acknowledge what they were living with and, by their presence, their prayers, and their contributions of money, time, and talent, supporting.


I would rather not be thinking of the church lives and religious beliefs of politicians and electoral candidates at all. I was raised on the notion of the separation of church and state, and the idea that religious beliefs are a private matter for each individual to resolve in his or her own heart (insofar as one's actions do not cause harm or constitute illegal behavior). For most of my life I believed that a candidate's personal faith or religion--like gender and skin color--should have no bearing on his or her performance in elected office. I was raised to be a big "Mind Your Own Business" advocate when it comes to religion, thinking that attitude, sprung from Article 6 ("no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States") and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"), to be one of the finer tokens of being both a good American and a decent person.

Unfortunately I see now that that is a fine ideal that really doesn't float well in the caustic brew of real life. Religion, if not a test, has been a factor in U.S. politics from the start, to one extent or another. We should not fool ourselves that this Presidential race is any different, nor are we inquisitive and caustic postmodern Americans any different in character or human frailities than earlier generations.

On the basis of evaluating personality and character, a candidate's religious beliefs and actions, offering evidence of with whom he voluntarily associates, what he believes, and how and why he will make decisions in future, all become part of his resume to be mulled over by the voters.

Gender and skin color, however, being unchosen, remain unpredictive of past, present, or future beliefs or actions, contrary to what proponents of "identity politics" want us to believe these days.


From the Trinity United Church of Christ website:
We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.

The Pastor as well as the membership of Trinity United Church of Christ is committed to a 10-point Vision:

  1. A congregation committed to ADORATION.
  2. A congregation preaching SALVATION.
  3. A congregation actively seeking RECONCILIATION.
  4. A congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA.
  5. A congregation committed to BIBLICAL EDUCATION.
  6. A congregation committed to CULTURAL EDUCATION.
  8. A congregation committed to LIBERATION.
  9. A congregation committed to RESTORATION.
  10. A congregation working towards ECONOMIC PARITY.
Does this make you as queasy and sick as it makes me? Imagine the substitution of a few adjectives:
We are a congregation which is Unashamedly White and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the White religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are a Caucasian people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. ...We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a White worship service and ministries which address the White Community.

I just don't see how such a creed could be promulgated as in any way desirable or civilized, let alone extolled in any sense as Christian or Godly--not in keeping with the Bible I know. And it is certainly not in keeping with the goals of the United States where "all men are created equal" and people are to be judged not "by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Don't people--especially Christians--know by now that two grievous wrongs do not make things right?

It is my observation that the Obamas and indeed their entire "black church" and all the "black churches" in our country have been found out to be promulgating a racism so deep that even educated and compassionate and well-meaning people like the Obamas are not even aware of it. I am reminded of how many educated, compassionate, and well-meaning Southerners justified and felt completely comfortable in their all-white churches prior to the 1960's. Thanks to giants like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., so much progress has been made, and so many hearts and minds have been opened that very few white people in America would ever think to hold, let alone publicly excuse or attempt to "contextualize" or minimize such racist sentiments today. Yet "black churches" like Trinity United Church of Christ seem unaware of how inappropriate such racism inside their own walls still looks today.

None of us is perfect or perfected. I see Barack Obama resisting, fumbling, and struggling with this realization of his church's inherent racism, as well he may. I hope I see his heart opening to a larger truth of what Christianity is. I hope I see many hearts in the "black churches" of America opening because of all this (no thanks to leaders like Rev. Jeremiah Wright who continue to demonize whites, push a victimization mindset and the Marxist-socialist black liberation theology on blacks, and polarize the races by telling lies and inflaming hate while wearing the robes of Christianity).

For many reasons, almost all of them having nothing to do with his religion, I do not think Barack Obama is qualified to be President. But I am wondering if he will in the end become an even more significant "change agent" for the betterment of all Americans in how his experiences and leadership may revolutionize and ultimately eliminate the need for any "black church."

UPDATE: If journalists did their jobs, these are the questions we would hear being asked.

UPDATE: Here's a very interesting interview of Obama that appeared in the Chicago Reader in 1995 (via Nice Deb at Ace). Gives great insight into how the guy's a longtime collectivist, eager to use his sophisticated talents to incorporate black churches into his masterplan to provide the community that all black people hunger for, according to him. "We must unite in collective action!" Gee, it worked for the Russians in 1917--why not on the Southside of Chicago? Why not in American with Obama as President?

UPDATE: "Buh-bye Obama"

UPDATE: Obama: a "basically decent person" or a politician? That's the question, isn't it? Will he have the integrity to change his ways and stand up against racism from blacks as well as from white--or will he pander for votes?

UPDATE: Okay, that does it. I no longer feel sorry for Barack Obama. I've learned what I need to know about him, and it just ain't pretty. But he's more to be censured than pitied, that's for sure.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Falling into habits

I like eating half a toasted bagel with cream cheese on top for breakfast. The first time I had that was when I was living in San Francisco after graduating from UCSB, and working for a temporary employment agency on a long-term assignment as the receptionist at the Baker, Knapp and Tubbs furniture showroom on Jackson Square. Whenever I would get downtown early in the morning by bus or trolley from my apartment on Ninth Avenue in the Sunset, I would have a few extra minutes for a breakfast treat in a coffee shop before work started. One morning I felt prompted to order half a toasted bagel that came topped with not just a schmeer, but a huge, immoderate slab of cream cheese. I am not sure I had ever tasted cream cheese before, more than once or twice in my whole life. It was so delicious it became an occasional morning habit (not that I could afford it often), and I have liked it ever since.

Similar thing happened when my Dreamboat and I moved to the Washington, D.C. area. This was before we had children, and I was working at a place north of Dupont Circle. We would go to work together each morning, driving from our townhouse to the Vienna station at the end of the Orange Line of the Metro. We would park our car there for the day, and ride the Metro to work, but he got off at Foggy Bottom. I rode further and changed to a Red Line train at Metro Center, and then I would take the alarmingly long and tall escalator up to street level and would walk several blocks to where I worked. Commuting with my sweetie, I had ample free time before my workday started, so after escaping the Metro I would stop in at a coffee shop. I'd order coffee and an almond croissant (filled with almond paste and topped with slivered almonds), and I would sit there and eat and sip and compose and design little newsletters of our new life in Washington D.C. to send to our family and friends. Now every time I see almond croissants I think of that period of my life. That was in 1989, just before there were Starbucks coffee places everywhere. Another era.

Speaking of croissants, that reminds me of when my Dreamboat and I went for a week to the Virgin Islands on December 31, 1988, to celebrate his earning his Ph.D. We flew to the island of St. Thomas and then took a ferry to the island of St. John. It was New Year’s Eve when we arrived and the ferry was decorated with aluminum pie plates and other rustic and handmade holiday festoons. We stayed in one of the canvas and concrete cubicles near the beach at Virgin Islands National Park on St. John. We ate our meals in an open-air commons.

It was my first time off the North American continent, and everything seemed exotic and foreign to me (cars driving on the wrong side of the road, wild donkeys wandering through the mangroves, etc.). We soon fell into a self-constructed routine of having croissants and jam for our breakfast, at the picnic tables under the commons' shelter, where local feral cats would come by looking for crumbs. I learned then how under the most unusual and foreign circumstances humans will invariably begin to manufacture and retreat into routines and the familiar to make themselves feel less at sea. We did the same in Manly, Australia when we were staying there for another conference in 2000, too: ended up looking forward to our routine of morning croissants and coffee at the same place on the Corso each morning. In Manly there were antic magpies begging for crumbs instead of cats. But our habit (good croissants & coffee = comfort) remained the same.

Now I am sure the success of any large-scale innovation or colonization (whether of the New World or of extra-terrestrial planets) always depends on the colonists being able to construct some such small routines and habits to keep themselves sane and courageous. I have new respect for the Sons of Liberty and those who backed them when they threw that British tea overboard in Boston Harbor.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

"Rape jihad" vs. DNA testing

Yikes. Here's a dispatch from the "clash of cultures" ongoing in England. Score one for the scientists. Via Little Green Footballs.


The legal case against same-sex marriage

For those mentally able to accommodate dispassionate reasoning on the subject, Big Lizards sums up some legal arguments (via Bookworm):

...Gender is just one of the restrictions; if the others don't violate equal protection, then neither does the gender restriction. And if it does violate equal protection... then what's the legal rationale for banning polygamy?

Cat got your tongue? "But my four wives and I really love each other!"

With all restrictions dropped but the declaration that "we love each other," what's to stop gang members from all marrying each other, so that none will be able to testify against another? How do you prevent an entire building full of spinsters marrying the same guy, so each can receive Social Security? How do we prevent one American citizen from marrying five hundred Argentinian women and men to bring them all here as permanent residents?

Marriage needs restrictions: Without them, it's no more special a relationship than a bowling team or union membership....

Interesting--read the whole thing. Bottom line:

The courts should never drive society willy nilly towards the utopian leanings of the judges. That is the difference between leftists, who favor totalitarian, top-down rule by "experts" in all areas of life (from economics to religion to marriage)... and those of us on the right, who prefer individualism, Capitalism, and democracy, where the women and men in society get to decide for themselves, through the ballot box, what axioms define society.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Sad times for race relations

I guess now we're having that national conversation on race in America that Barack Obama says we should have. I, for one voter, have certainly (and sadly) been enlightened by recent revelations of the unexpected extent and depth of racism still festering and being fostered in some of the black congregations of America. Victor Davis Hanson writes:

I admire Barack’s Obama rhetorical skills and ability to run against Clinton, Inc., but racial polarization will be the legacy of an Obama campaign that promised to transcend race....

Indeed, as two liberal candidates duke it out, we now matter-of-factly talk of the “white voter” and the “black voter” and the “Latino voter.” The overwhelming majority of black commentators on television who hear the replays of the Wright venom find ways of assuring audiences that what they are hearing is not what they think they are hearing—given that listeners are not experienced with that past grievance or this present custom in the black religious community.

Reporters hunt in vain for a black preacher or members of churches similar to Trinity who find Wright’s racism, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism abominable. But then why should they when Barack Obama himself has put such hatred in the proper context of ‘everyone does it’—your rabbi, his grandmother, the “corporate culture”, the “Reagan Coalition”, Geraldine Ferraro, and all the other racists who are moral equivalents of Rev. Wright spouting out “God Damn America”, “rich white folks,” the “KKK of A”, “Clarence Colon” and all the other sickness? (In this regard I smiled when the Rev. Sharpton the other night swore that the Rev. Wright had not said anything untoward about “whites” (cf.”KKK of A”) or toward any one person (cf. e.g., “Clarence Colon”, “Condamnesia” Rice).

Giddy elite whites chime in solemn tones that the “speech” was historical and the burden is on the less sensitive than they to appreciate it and fall into line. Meanwhile tens of millions in the middle-class of all races remain appalled. They are puzzled that their intelligence is being insulted—that a would-be President can neither explain his past intimacy with a racist nor promise to disassociate himself from the font of such hatred....

Read the whole thing. And then also his related comments on education as espoused by Obama (and most leaders on the left):

[A]nyone familiar with the historical illiteracy of today’s college student understands that more of the “oppression” history that Sen. Obama is advocating is precisely the problem, not the solution. Our high school students already know who Harriet Tubman is, but not U.S. Grant or Shiloh. They have been introduced to Crispus Attucks, but not Alexander Hamilton. They know World War II largely as the Japanese internment and Hiroshima (cf. Reverend Wright on that), but have not a clue about the Bulge or Okinawa or the Munich travesty.

In other words, it is precisely this pick-and-choose therapeutic curriculum of “oppression” history presented as a melodrama of winners (white male Christian capitalists) and losers (women, people of color, the working classes) that has ensured an entire generation of historical illiterates, who can’t distinguish between the profound and trivial, or identify basic names, dates, and places to ground even their politically-correct views. They are told to remember and repeat that Hiroshima is bad, but not why or how it occurred, what were the alternatives, and what were the consequences in a war of bad and worse choices....

What continues to be so disturbing about the Obama rhetoric is that in the abstract he always talks of utopian brotherhood and idealism, but whenever he devolves into the concrete, we learn that he promotes victimhood, identity politics, and subsidizes both by his presence and his purse racial intolerance and invective....

I am glad to see these truths being said, and said so precisely and skillfully. But I am saddened that in this day and age they still need to be said (and they do). This kind of national "conversation," arguing (or waffling) for and against the idea that racism is wrong no matter who is promoting it, I had thought more of us had long since settled.

UPDATE: Ace sez (in a post entitled "Obama's Church Published Pro-Hamas Manifesto"): "So long as we're having that "open, candid" discussion about race we've all so long wanted to have, perhaps we can finally begin to address the virulent anti-semitism infecting large segments of the black population while we're at it, huh? Or wait-- are we not having that "open, candid" a discussion?"

If there's one good thing coming out in all of this race/Rev. Wright/black liberation theology/Obama mess, it's that we are indeed having an open conversation about what various segments of Americans really do believe (no thanks to Obama who would clearly rather not be having these discussions). Repugnant as some of these revealed views are, it is in our best interest as a nation to shine the disinfectant of public sunlight on them and throw them and their philosophical premises open to discussion and dissection.

UPDATE: Charles Krauthammer asks a few more questions that Obama probably will not answer (via Roger L. Simon, who thinks the Rev. Wright flap reveals as much about Michelle Obama as it does about Barack. I think he's right.)

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Go home, Barack

Game over. You've missed something important.

Barack, this is about a pathological minister whose uncontrolled anger wounds his own people and keeps them down.

Roger L. Simon sums it all up in some terse poetical lines, a must-read. The comments are good too.

Betsy rues what wasn't said:

One thing I'd been waiting to hear from him is, if he says he rejects Reverend Wrights diatribes against America, why does he? When he attends a church where the country that Obama wants to lead is regularly portrayed as a place of evils and a guilty history, it wasn't enough to say that the Senator disagreed, but he needed to say why he disagreed and what he found to admire and be proud of in our country.

and regrets what was:

However, I found it disturbing that he threw his grandmother under the bus by making her privately stated qualms about race equivalent to what Reverend Wright has been saying about white America. She is still alive. Did he call her up and let her know that he was going to tell the whole world that she had said things that had made him cringe?

And I keep on thinking about how he chooses to bring his children to hear these sermons that he says now he says presented "a profoundly distorted view of this country." Of course, just a few days ago he was saying that he hadn't heard anything like those clips that were being played on TV. I guess that denial is no longer operative.

And of course Obama was a lot more assertive in his condemnation of Don Imus's "nappy-headed ho's" comment and the effect that such words have on his daughters. As Ace points out, how does he explain to his daughters that the minister he takes him to hear says that the government created the AIDS virus to kill black people?

He implied in his speech that people found the sight of his reverend's sermons and the response among the congregation shocking because they don't know what the atmosphere is like in a black church. I find that insulting.

Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

People weren't finding that laughter and humor what was jarring. It was hearing someone assert, five days after 9/11, that the "chickens were coming home to roost" or blaming white America for the AIDS virus.

Powerline also sticks up for Obama's Grandma (I cringed at Obama's inclusion of her in his self-justifying speech yesterday too):

Even amid the false equivalencies and obvious evasions of his speech today, Obama's misuse of his grandmother seems to me a striking sign of poor character.

And Bookworm helpfully points out that the Associated Press assures us there is nothing to worry about in black liberation theology anyway:

While the AP’s watered down version of the Christianity Obama has been absorbing for 22 years shouldn’t worry any reasonable person too much, the movement’s own beliefs and goals should worry a great deal those who envision a MLKing-esque society in which black and white walk are considered equal and given full equality of opportunity.Understanding the whole black liberation theology thing makes me less sanguine about the AP writer’s reminder that:

Often lost in the attention paid to Wright’s fiery sermons is the typical conclusion, Hopkins said—that despite all obstacles, you are a child of God and “can make a way out of no way.”

As far as I can tell, I’m not a child of God. You are, if you’re black, but I’m not, because I’m white and, worse, Jewish. No comfort there, Mr. AP religious writer.

Barack, you've now revealed yourself to be not a uniter of America transcending race, not a man equipped and willing to grapple with new ideas and conversations that should be held--but just another two-faced politician trading on the race card, more shrewdly than most. But not as shrewdly as you'd hoped.

Barack, go back to South Chicago where you have an unquestioning constituency who loves your pastor, your church, and its Black Value System. Go back to where evidently your show plays better than in the national eye where too many people recognize and abhor racism and antisemitism no matter what colors are involved.

UPDATE: "What has also become clear to me -- what has been a revelation to me -- in the last week is that you do find racism embedded in some Christian Fundamentalist churches; churches whose congregation is almost strictly African-American."

UPDATE: "That this self-serving relativism was used to address a self-induced political disaster is especially unfortunate for a self-appointed moralist."

UPDATE: "[I]f I understand it correctly, Obama showed a bravery uncommon in ordinary human beings by attending a racist church for 22 years, lying about his relationship to the church and its ideas, and then giving a speech that manages in one package to lie, make invidious comparisons, deny race is an issue, set himself up as the living embodiment of racial healing, and parrot the usual leftist crap about victimhood and the need for government money. Give the man a medal!"

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stupid legislation is international

It's always nice to see that Americans are not the only ones promulgating and tolerating stupid legislation. American Ph.D.s working in Germany are now being investigated for the crime of referring to themselves as "Dr." (via Annoying Pedant). It seems like a safe bet this Nazi-era law will soon be amended, only because it currently offends and penalizes sought-after visiting American eggheads recruited by the Germans. Maybe someday it will even be safe for Canadian Ph.D.s' to call themselves "Dr." in Germany, too (they can dream, anyway).

On the other hand, nobody seems to break a leg rushing to change stupid laws in any timely way. According to, Massachusetts is just one state evidently dragging its feet in revising its own outmoded or outrageously intrusive prohibitions:
At a wake, mourners may eat no more than three sandwiches.

Snoring is prohibited unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked.

An old ordinance declares goatees illegal unless you first pay a special license fee for the privilege of wearing one in public.

Taxi drivers are prohibited from making love in the front seat of their taxi during their shifts.

All men must carry a rifle to church on Sunday.

It is also illegal to sing off-key in North Carolina (where, be advised, elephants may not be used to plow cotton fields), and in Chico, California, detonating a nuclear device within the city limits results in a $500 fine.

Such laws remain on the books as an apt and vivid testament to the self-importance and the wasteful perspective of legislators everywhere.


Following up on a troubling story

Here's an update on the story of the two teenage girls, Amina and Sarah Said, abused and murdered by their father in Irving, Texas (to punish them for refusing to submit to his Islamic sharia edicts). The fugitive, Yasser Abdel Said, remains at large.

Is the Irving Police Dept. really doing all it can to bring this man to justice?

Photo of Amina and Sarah Said from Jihad Watch.

News coverage showing the fugitive's face:

Mug shot at "America's Most Wanted."

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Life in the U.S.A.

Harbingers of spring: daffodils, robins, and Girl Scout cookies.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Modern-day slavery

I am no fan of George Bush's performance as President of the U.S. But to be fair, for those of you who have asked yourself "What good has Bush accomplished as President in eight years?" you can add this to the Bush tax cuts, appointing Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court, overthrowing the Taliban, freeing the Kurds, ending a fascist dictatorship in Iraq, sending money to help combat AIDS in Africa, and arguably thwarting any large post-9/11 attacks against our country:

[T]he Bush Administration can boast of the most aggressive antislavery record since Lincoln.

E. Benjamin Skinner's new book, A Crime So Montrous: Face to Face with Modern-Day Slavery, sounds like a must-read. (Via Powerline.)


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Apt thought well expressed for today

German has the useful word Tantenverführer: “a young man of excessively good manners you suspect of devious motives (literally, an aunt seducer).” Obama’s determination to “change something” has seduced Europe, although like everyone else Europeans aren’t sure what he wants to change. Instead, of hard thought about the future, there’s a tingling glowing feeling that under the leadership of a black politician — and isn’t it wonderful he’s black? — everything beastly about Bush’s America will go, and the United States will turn into an eco-friendly, peace-loving nation, respectful of the views of foreign countries which won’t risk their troops in the war against the Taliban or say a harsh word about Vladimir Putin.

Via Instapundit, who links to Nick Cohen's article "Why Brits Don't Swoon Over Obama" at Pajamas Media.

Just love it: Tantenverführer = Obama. Must tickle some vestigial German funnybone in me.

Friday, March 07, 2008

In California your children are not your own

As a recovering Californian (now living somewhere in flyover country USA) I read stories like this (via Neal Boortz) with a sense of huge relief that I no longer live in Paradise:

LOS ANGELES — California parents who don't have teaching credentials no longer can home school their children, according to a recent state appellate court ruling.

"Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey wrote in a Feb. 28 opinion for the 2nd District Court of Appeals.

Noncompliance could lead to a criminal complaint against the parents, Croskey said....

I spent my junior high, high school, and college years attending California schools, and it was clear to me, a transplant from New York State, that the educational system in California was at least a year behind my New York curriculum (that was back in 1967 when I made the transition). Things got worse until the 1990's when some improvements to the curriculum were achieved, but not all remains sunny in either the academic subjects or the arts.

But if my Dreamboat and I still lived in California now, and if, as parents, we decided to homeschool our own children to give them a better education than what they could get wherever in Paradise we might live, my husband and I would, despite his PhD and my BA, be in big trouble with the cops for daring to teach our own children, according to this story at the San Francisco Chronicle's blog, SF Gate (via Drudge Report), which tells how "parents can be criminally prosecuted:"
"With this case law, anyone in California who is homeschooling without a teaching credential is subject to prosecution for truancy violation, which could require community service, heavy fines and possibly removal of their children under allegations of educational neglect," Dacus said.
Of course the teachers' unions are happy about eliminating the possibility of being shown up by the competition (or rather, the small minority of dissenters who can and do choose to do better):

The ruling was applauded by a director for the state's largest teachers union.

"We're happy," said Lloyd Porter, who is on the California Teachers Association board of directors. "We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting."

And the court system is happy to assert the state's claim on the children within its borders:

"California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. "Parents have a legal duty to see to their children's schooling under the provisions of these laws."

Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.

"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare," the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.

Scary. As Ed Morrissey says:

Got that? If you choose to reject the government education monopoly and can’t afford a private school, you will face criminal prosecution. That will make the parents of an estimated 166,000 children criminals overnight.

This "news" is not really news when it comes to California judges ruling against parents as parents. The Ninth Circuit has previously ruled that “the constitutional right of parents to raise their children does not include the right to restrict what a public school may teach their children” and that parents “have no constitutional right … to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise….”

Smart parents with means can usually finesse their own circumstances and situations to find the better, or even excellent public schools within any state system, poor or good, for their children to attend. What they can't finesse in California, however, is the growing case law that clearly names the government as the final arbiter of the education (or indoctrination, if the state so chooses) of their children rather than themselves--to the point of taking the children away from the parents. I am now wondering if these smart parents in California who recognize the shockingly anti-American nature of this threat will put up an effective fight or if they will vote with their feet and leave the state.

Where I live now, the ocean's far away, the mountains can barely qualify as mountains, the climate and the weather sometimes stink, and the culture is less about beautiful people than about the salt of the earth. But you know what? It's growing on me. And at least where I live now, everybody knows that as Mom and Dad my husband and I can be trusted to know best what's good for our own children, and here that's considered what's good for and about America.

So California: good riddance. Still a great place to visit, but not a free place to raise your kids.

UPDATE: Teacher Betsy points out the obvious: "We seem to have a lot of credentialed teachers who have trouble teaching students how to read and write....I say let's have all teachers and homeschooling parents be judged by the same criteria - are the students learning. The teachers union would be a lot less happy if teachers were losing their jobs if their students were failing."

UPDATE: Gates of Vienna furthers the discussion.

UPDATE: "Two Million Minutes" is a new documentary film contrasting how U.S., Indian, and Chinese high school students spend their two million minutes while in high school, and tells "the broader story of the universal importance of education today, and addres[es]s what many are calling a crisis for U.S. schools regarding chronically low scores in math and science indicators."

Statistics for American high school students give rise to concern for our student[s'] education in math and science. Less than 40 percent of U.S. students take a science course more rigorous than general biology, and a mere 18 percent take advanced classes in physics, chemistry or biology. Only 45 percent of U.S. students take math coursework beyond two years of algebra and one year of geometry. And 50 percent of all college freshmen require remedial coursework.

Meanwhile, both India and China have made dramatic leaps in educating their middle classes - each comparable in size to the entire U.S. population. Compared to the U.S., China now produces eight times more scientists and engineers, while India puts out up to three times as many as the U.S. Additionally, given the affordability of their wages, China and India are now preferred destinations for increasing numbers of multinational high-tech corporations.

Is it really wise to be discouraging or outlawing parents who are achieving better results than the public schools do by educating their own kids?

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Sign the Fair Tax petition

I've added my name to the petition of thousands that will be presented to Congress on April 15th. You can do the same. Please let our leaders know that the current tax system is no longer tolerable except for those who profit from it--the tax lawyers, accountants, lobbyists, and politicians who use it to invade Americans' privacy, manipulate behavior or reward special interests.

Let them know we're on to them and we want our taxes to do just one thing: fund what government's necessary, simply, fairly, and transparently. And yes, the Fair Tax would also turn the U.S. into the hottest tax haven to attract investment and capital in the world. That means more jobs for Americans, in case you haven't thought about that. And less time wasted figuring out, documenting, avoiding, or paying somebody else to figure out, taxes.

Don't know about the Fair Tax? Find out:

The FairTax Book: Saying Goodbye to the Income Tax and the IRS

Fair Tax: The Truth--Answering the Critics

Think it just won't ever happen? It won't if people like you don't get off your duffs.