Common Core and Common Sense – The Orange County Board of Education Hearings- Round One

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Last night the Orange County Board of Education held the first of two special meetings to discuss the concerns of parents and educators with the Common Core curriculum now being introduced around the country. A standing room only crowd attended.

This first exchange featured a panel of speakers, each given an initial 5 minutes to discuss support for the introduction of Common Core and opposition to same.

The first comment was by Trustee David Boyd, who looked something like Gregory Peck’s Captain Ahab with a bad haircut and bad attitude. He launched into a tirade against the Tea Party and called for the meeting to be suspended. The meeting then proceeded.

Next came pro and con appeals from 4  selected attendees from each side. One of them, representing an organization of charter schools, strongly supported the curriculum. Another, against, pointed out that the curriculum has not been tested or proven and that California has ranked #1 or #2 nationally in math and language skills using the proven curriculum.

A mother told the story of her straight “A” daughter now struggling with her math lessons. “There are no books, and the teachers themselves are confused.” she said.

The first panelist speaking on the “pro” side was Dr. Claire Cavallaro of Cal State Fullerton, who pointed out that 1/3 of college freshmen in California require remedial English and Math. (note: that would not seem to jibe with California’s ranking). She said that Common Core is new and misunderstood and threatening. She asked that the curriculum be allowed to roll out further and that the bugs be fixed.

The next was Celia Jaffe from the PTA. She stated the state PTA’s support of Common Core and that it represented the latest in and most up to date thinking in education. It’s focus on critical thinking is essential for our changing economy and learning becomes more robust to paraphrase.

The third pro CC panelist was Dr. Glen Thomas, who began the process of introduction of Common Core while State Secretary of Education under Arnold Schwarzenegger. His statement was  a history of the process of introduction that was foreshortened by the 5 minute time limit.

Last came Glen Warren, one Orange County’s Teachers of the Year for 2014, who spoke from a classroom perspective about empowerment and collaboration and creativity and information literacy. Powerful buzz words.

The can the prepared remarks counseling caution.

Robin Eubanks, a corporate counsel from Georgia spoke first, cautioning that the purpose of Common Core in the words of its developers is to shape the values, attitudes and perceptions of students. Underlying this are agendas far beyond simple education. Phrases such as “change of consciousness”, “positive social identity” and “identity, orientations and dispositions” are a subtext that runs through the core of Common Core. It is no longer about teaching our children how to read and write and prepare them for the next grade from Ms. Eubanks perspective, and she cited the very word’s of the curriculum’s developers to substantiate her claims.

Next came Hugh Hewitt, a constitutional law professor and nationally syndicated conservative radio show host . He was brief and to the point. He noted that when United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan tied federal funding to the implementation of Common Core it constituted the biggest power grab by the Federal government in 100 years. An issue of local and state control was federalized by fiat against the express wishes of Congress.

Dr. Gary Thompson, a clinical psychologist specializing in early childhood development and special education then spoke. He opened by recounting the series of errors committed by psychologists in experimenting on their patients and cautioned the Board of Trustees not to institute and unproven and potentially detrimental syllabus on the children of Orange County. He presented a binder with multiple peer-reviewed articles on the effects of various parts of the Common Core curriculum on children.

Last came Lydia Guiterrez, a Master Teacher and program director at UCLA, who emphasized the lack of transparency and lack of data on the success of Common Core to date. She spoke of the difficulties seen in school districts around the country that have had significant issues with implementation. She emphasized the lack of flexibility in adapting the standards to local needs because of federal requirements.

Next came questions from the Trustees themselves.  The first was from Trustee Lindholm who asked “why is the math in Common Core so hard and complex?” One of the pro-Common Core panelists stated that there is no evidence of this.

Next came Trustee Beskell, who was to the point. He asked if Common Core was pre-Obama. Yes, stated one of the panelists. “Which states have opted out so far? ” Indiana came the response.

Trustee Williams asked Ms. Eubanks about data mining. There are significant concerns about who has access to the data and how it is used and how extensive that data is in light of the NSA scandal and the efforts by companies such as Google and Microsoft in this field.

Another question by Trustee Williams was “what is the effect of the gaming used in the classroom today and of virtual reality”. Dr. Thompson expressed deep concerns and noted that several of the medical papers he had earlier submitted indicated detrimental psychological effects.

Trustee Hammond asked two very pointed questions of each panelist. “Would you enforce a law that was unconstitutional?” was the first. The second was if there is a federal law that allows control of local education. The responses were interesting. While the pro Common Core were both uncomfortable and mixed in their response, those expressing concern were unanimous in their desire to challenge the legality of such a mandate.

Lastly, Trustee Boyd lectured Mr. Hewitt specifically on the cost of such litigation. Mr. Hewitt responded by suggesting that there are law firms and attorneys that might act on a pro-bono basis and that this might be investigated. What Mr. Boyd may not have known was that the Pacific Legal Foundation participated in a press conference just prior to the hearing in which they offered to take the case at no cost to the Board of Education. Oops.

I am not an expert, but I do know that when the jargon clogs the language clarity is lost. When agendas are developed without transparency there is suspicion. When someone connects the dots on those promoting that agenda along with their financial interests and political dogmas,  those suspicions are raised further.

Editorials and polls indicate that trust in government is at an all time low regardless of one’s ideology.

Just the other day President Obama joked that he could no longer help with his children’s math homework. Anecdotal evidence of major structural problems within Common Core is building rapidly.

One thing is certain. The science is not settled.

Math meme

 

 

 

Lost in Space – Episode XXIII – Obama’s Dilemma

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Shit just got real with Russia today when their government announced that the United States would be barred from the International Space Station after 2020. In addition, they will no longer sell engines to the United States for military applications. I hope that we have a bunch of them on the shelf but somehow I doubt it.

The NK-33 (1,505 kN) and RD-180 engines (4,150 kN) are two of the key powerplants for our space program. The NK-33 is used in the first stage of the Antares rocket, which launches payloads of up to 5,000 Kg into low earth orbit; basically satellites. The RD-180 is used as the first stage of the ULA (Lockheed Martin & Boeing JV) Atlas V heavy lift rocket for satellite launches. It was also projected to be used in a new Atlas V CTS (Crew Transportation System), a heavier lift version originally scheduled to come on-line in approximately 2020.

The Thiokol Ares solid rocket booster used in the Space Shuttle at 14,000,000 N is the most powerful booster ever made. The Saturn V delivered 6,770,000 N and was the most powerful liquid fueled rocket ever built. The most powerful rocket now being built in the United States is the Aerojet RS-68 liquid rocket, which produces 2,950Kn.

The current delivery vehicle to the ISS is the Russian Soyuz, which uses 4 liquid fueled rockets developing 813 Kn each at liftoff. The Zenit engines used in Sea Launch’s vehicles develop 8,100,000 N and can deliver 30,000+ lbs into low earth orbit. The Zenits are built by the Russians as well. As I am trying to outline for liberals who may not understand science, we are screwed.Houston, we have a problem.

Every rocket system is different and there is very little mixing and matching. It is, in fact, rocket science.

We were until today looking at having another Russian technology and hardware based heavy lift capability in 2020, but are now being told rather impolitely to go screw.That the message was delivered by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin one of Putin’s closest cronies and a target of our sanctions as well as being the head of Russia’s space program, is even more to the point.

Obama’s NASA is more interested in climate change and Muslim outreach today and now we are faced with either a dispute over ownership of one of our own technology jewels or another climbdown by the Obama administration. The most popular dish in the White House Dining Room these days seems to be crow.

The is something fundamentally wrong with the administration’s ideology. It shows up in a chaotic foreign policy and a decision-making process that is almost exclusively politically driven. It now shows up in our greatest scientific endeavors where it has no place at all. It is time to face the fact that this is the most incompetent and dangerous government in our history.

 

8th Grader dies of overdose – Media silent

b6fc9d2c155111e3931722000a1fc67c_6The other day, an 8th grader at Niguel Hills Middle School in Laguna Niguel, CA died of a drug overdose. The cause of Branden Stock’s death was Vicodin, one of the most commonly prescribed drugs.

The only media report of his death was on Channel 5 News. His school and the district said nothing at all beyond their confines. He died at home alone. Imagine finding your child or your best friend cold and lifeless and there’s nothing you can do. His friends held a memorial service at Salt Creek Beach, where I spent many days in the water surfing like Branden was said to have loved to.

The death of a child is the most painful thing a parent goes through. No one should have to endure this burden. And yet his parents will carry this sadness for their entire lives. His friends will remember for a while and then more rarely and maybe a few will remember to pray for his soul sometimes over the course of their lives.

That the death barely made the news is indicative of the problem. Drug abuse begins in 6th-8th grade now. Kids are experimenting and going through new emotions and have left the cocoon of grade school. And the availability has never been greater. The taboos are gone. “Everyone is doing it.” I heard the same thing when I was a kid. And here we are 40 years later and we’re still getting it wrong.

And it’s not just public schools. It’s everywhere. Catholic schools, prep schools. If you go to the parking lot of Gelson’s in Newport Beach you can usually score within minutes. The Port Streets in Newport are considered one of the last bastions of the Ozzie & Harriet lifestyle and the drugs and alcohol usage by kids is pervasive. Laguna Niguel and every town in Orange County are the same.

Prescription drugs are the new battlefield. Vicodin, Codeine, Oxycontin, Zanax, Opana, Percocet, and Valium are all being abused at record levels. Between dirty doctors, pill shopping, and stealing from mom & dad’s medicine cabinet it is an epidemic. That people can even obtain some of these drugs like Opana, which is prescribed for very limited applications, indicates how awry the system is. And it is hitting 12 & 13 year olds, those who haven’t got a clue, the worst.

And after they can’t find the prescription drugs or can’t afford them, heroin lurks in the background ready to offer a brown haze from which there is little chance of escape. $80 for an Oxycontin or $6 for a bindle of Afghan white or black tar? This is the reality on the street here in the OC.

The Orange County Register did an article a few weeks back on heroin abuse in our high schools. The number of OC kids trying heroin has doubled since 2006. And once heroin has you it is a monkey on your back that is very difficult to remove.

And a lot of people just don’t want to know. Two girls were caught recently smoking heroin in a bathroom at Laguna Beach High School. “The girls caught smoking was an “isolated incident,” Laguna Beach High Principal Joanne Culverhouse said.”

30 years ago when I lived in Dana Point, Laguna Beach High School had one of the worst drug problems in the county. Nothing changes much, it seems. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

In San Clemente, the community has bonded together through CURE, which links the church, counselors, schools, parents, other stakeholders and the kids. We need such programs in every city. Every loss of a child is one too many.

Education is vital and we need to get to the heart of the matter and educate parents and children about the consequences of bad choices. We have the resources. But first we must recognize the problem honestly and without blinkers.

Drug abuse and self medication are the scourges of our times. Between addiction and mental health issues we have responded in a woeful manner. We must open our eyes and our hearts to this plague.

 

 

Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, Sartre, Foucault, Gramsci – Getting It All Wrong

Michael Totten noted the publication of the diary of the philosopher Martin Heidegger as critiqued in the most recent issue of The Weekly Standard with proper disgust. You see, Heidegger was an early convert to Naziism and even though he lived until 1976 he never expressed any regrets.

As  the most admired philosopher of the 20th century except for his political philosophy, Heidegger questioned the very essence of Being. That which had been assumed to be obvious for 2,500 years was called into question. “Cogito ergo sum” and all of the other variations on that theme became “WTF?”

The essence of philosophy centers on Ontology, or the nature of being; Epistemology, the nature and scope of knowledge; Logic, Metaphysics (the eternal why), and Aesthetics. Heidegger’s premise was to turn the work of his predecessors on its ear and deconstruct the history and principles of Western philosophy.

Heidegger’s work was considered the epitome of 20th century philosophy. His followers included Sartre, Derrida, and Foucault, the architects of modern existentialism, deconstructionism, and relativism and revisionism. His reputation was built on the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. Heidegger felt that Nietzsche was the culmination of Western metaphysics.

Nietzsche built his theories on Kierkegaard’s work and the dynamic of the aesthetic versus the ethical.  Nietzsche  attempted to synthesize Kierkegaard’s deeply held sense of the religious and of commitment and personal responsibility to strive for a higher level of being into the core principles of existentialism as outlined in “Man & Superman” which became the basis for Hitler’s Aryanism and perversely for Stalin’s New Soviet Man as well.

But it must be pointed out that Nietzsche was the Jim Morrison of 19th Century philosophy. He lived the lifestyle and threw philosophical bombs regularly. His arguments were contradictory, but the complexity and sheer scale of his eruptions of thought were overwhelming in the Victorian Age when all began to be questioned. He campaigned against morality and God Himself. He attacked the dichotomy of good and evil and his central expression of nihilism was the  greatest assault upon the nature of good and evil in history. He railed against Socrates and Aristotle and called for the death of metaphysics in favor of a transfigurative collapse and rebirth of the superman, separated from the masses through intellect and force of will.

This is the foundation of modern philosophy. The triumph of the Id over the Ego and Superego.

Existentialism fit the times. As all of the old order in Europe was collapsing in the midst of World War I the old ways were under extreme pressure. Religion, so deeply identified with the state in Europe, became another casualty of war. Faith was challenged by the carnage. The absurdity of war bred the absurdity of surrealism. Expressionism became another outlet for the authenticity demanded of existentialism.

Existentialists argues that authentic existence involves the idea that one has to “create oneself” and then live in accordance with this self. And yet Kierkegaard was explicit in his faith in an authentically Christian life well led. Nietzsche preferred the romanticism and role of the natural man outlined by Rousseau and this help synthesize his own ideal.

Marx and Engels developed the theories of dialectical materialism and class struggle that entranced those disillusioned by the economic divides of the Industrial Age. The romance of Nietzsche and of Rousseau was transformed into the new, atheist city on a hill offered by Marxism. In Germany Nietzsche’s social Darwinism drove National Socialism. the failure of both systems was both practically and philosophically inevitable in retrospect.

This was proven starkly by the fall of first the Nazi, and then the Soviet Empires. The moral and ethical underpinnings of each were rotten. Sartre defended Marxism, arguing that it had been applied incorrectly. We are still waiting on the workers paradise.

Foucault and Derrida pushed existential thought even further, into deconstructionism and revisionism. Gramsci’s contribution was historicism. Ideas simply cannot be understood outside of their historical or social contexts.  If all philosophies are simply alternative narratives how can one be held to be better than another? And if one can disassemble and then reassemble the facts into a new narrative that supports ones views, how can any narrative be true? There is, then, no objective truth according to these theories.

And yet this flies in the face of logic. Of course, both logic and metaphysics posit the existence of a higher force, God, who does not exist because His existence cannot be empirically proven according to the new rules.

But, as C.S. Lewis points out, the Tao exists across philosophies and cultures.

“The Tao, which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgments. If it is rejected, all value is rejected. If any value is retained, it is retained. The effort to refute it and raise a new system of value in its place is self-contradictory. There has never been, and never will be, a radically new judgment of value in the history of the world. What purport to be new systems or…ideologies…all consist of fragments from the Tao itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao and to it alone such validity as they posses.”

This set of principles has been arrived at completely separately in many cultures; In Greece; by the Jews; in India; in China. Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and many other traditions all reflect similar values on the basic levels.

These were not formulated as the tools for domination or the social constructs rationalizing ruling classes as deconstructionists or Marxists believe, but rather as social compacts derived from divine sources.

The histories of civilizations were best prepared by scholars to accurately depict the events of the times under study. Perhaps certain biases seep into narratives, but overall these histories are confirmed by multiple sources; scientific, mathematical, and historical. In each tradition accountability was demanded by a shared responsibility to future generations. You may not like some of history, but you are not allowed to choose that history. It can be critiqued, but it cannot be changed.

So if the foundations for modern philosophy can be so easily discredited why have our intelligentsia chosen not to do so?

Rationalism demands logic and order. Facts must be confirmed. The greater the theory, the more demanding the criticism of that theory must be in order to confirm or deny it. And yet if rationalism and logic are denied, how can we ascertain the essential truth.

Marxist dialectics emphasizes the primacy of the material way of life over all forms of social consciousness and the secondary, dependent character of the “ideal.”Thus as with Nietzsche’s theory God does not exist.

As St. Thomas Aquinas argued for the existence of God, there are 5 principles:

Motion -Some things undoubtedly move, though cannot cause their own motion. Since there can be no infinite chain of causes of motion, there must be a First Mover not moved by anything else, and this is what everyone understands by God.

Causation- As in the case of motion, nothing can cause itself, and an infinite chain of causation is impossible, so there must be a First Cause, called God.

Existence of necessary and the unnecessary- Our experience includes things certainly existing but apparently unnecessary. Not everything can be unnecessary, for then once there was nothing and there would still be nothing. Therefore, we are compelled to suppose something that exists necessarily, having this necessity only from itself; in fact itself the cause for other things to exist.

Gradation- If we can notice a gradation in things in the sense that some things are more hot, good, etc., there must be a superlative that is the truest and noblest thing, and so most fully existing. This then, we call God.

 

Ordered tendencies of nature- A direction of actions to an end is noticed in all bodies following natural laws. Anything without awareness tends to a goal under the guidance of one who is aware. This we call God.

The alternative is that Sh*t just happened. Which is more logical?

Today the vestiges of Nietzsche, Marx, Derrida, Sartre, and Foucault live on in a world of wishful thinking. Our intelligentisia see the world as the want or demand it to be rather than as it is. The destruction of logic and of critical thinking is leading to a new dark age, not in a physical sense but rather as one of illogic and superstition.

As we are finding out the hard way with dictators and national interests, reality is conflicting with the received wisdom. Despite 2,500 years of dialectics, we are being coerced into beliefs which defy logic.

Orwell, Huxley, Bradbury and others wrote of the dangers of modern irrationalism. Hofer’s True Believer was based upon the zealots of Naziism and Communism. Book burnings did happen. Races and those who disagreed were exterminated. The Jews, the kulaks in Ukraine, 50,000,000 victims of the cultural revolution and 3,000,000 more in Cambodia were all sacrificed within living memory on the altar of atheistic idealism.

Even in the face of the evidence the intelligentsia still hold many of those same beliefs in historicism and relativism and failed ideologies.

And yet the alternative is so simple that it has been obfuscated in a hurricane of sophism. All God has ever asked is to be believed. It’s called faith. Nietzsche is long dead. God isn’t.

To be continued…..

 

A Great Disturbance in the Force – The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church

An incredible thing happened the other day and I am still digesting it. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and Saddleback Church held “The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church“. This is a first certainly for California and perhaps for the world. From all over Southern California and the country, 3,500 people gathered at Saddleback Church and thousands more participated on-line in a frank discussion of how faith-based organizations can contribute more to ameliorate a problem that is growing out of control.

We live in an increasingly secular world today that is overwhelming us both emotionally and physically. New technology is bringing us closer together than ever before and yet isolating us even further. Old boundaries are crumbling and as a culture we are becoming ever more dysfunctional. The effects of our physical and psychological world are taking a toll on our souls that is sometimes unbearable. The widespread availability of drugs both legal and illegal has turned us into a self medicating nation.

According to the experts at the Gathering, 26% of adult Americans will be diagnosed with some form of mental illness this year. 7-8% of our population suffers from addiction. from depression to bipolar disorder to schizophrenia to personality disorders were are facing a crisis.

These are issues that hide in the back of our collective closets. Individuals feel stigmatized and marginalized and our societal bias against the mentally ill and addicted is deep and pervading. Families are tortured and damaged and the mentally ill are reduced to hopelessness by a system that is deeply fractured and nonresponsive.

There is a War on Drugs that costs over $50 Billion/year. Mental health treatment costs our nation over $170 Billion/year. Incarceration costs our country over $40 Billion/year. And there are significant overlaps. And what is ever more clear is that we are doing it wrong.

Government is the large hammer. Our medical system is designed to prescribe medicine and perform surgery. Even psychiatry has been increasingly defined as the adjustment and prescription of medications.

The etymology of the words psychology and psychiatry is the Greek word ψυχή, or soul. And yet in our modern, rationalist, scientistic world the soul is the last thing that is considered in the treatment of mental illness. Holistic treatment of mental illness is secondary to biochemical investigation and treatment. And this is where faith based organizations are increasingly seeing the need and the gap.

Pastor Rick Warren and Bishop Kevin Vann assembled a stellar array of health care professionals, psychiatrists, neurologists, and mental health experts from a wide range of specialties in order to examine and propose how faith based organizations can deliver effective care to those with mental health problems.

Saddleback Church has taken mental health on as one of their core ministries. Church is one of the first stops for many people with mental health issues and their families. Faith helps individuals and families cope and hope.

But there is a wall between faith and the rest of the world today that must be broken down if we are serve our brothers and sisters effectively. I am not neutral in this. I have skin in the game. We lose two young people per week to overdoses just in Orange County and mental health issues have affected my own family.

In studying what works in addiction treatment, 12 step programs stand out as the most effective tool. What is even more evident is that compassionate faith based recovery and treatment increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. Almost every study confirms these results. Compassion and empathy are critical.

Working with those with addictions and mental illness is among the most challenging of callings. Addicts are often not nice people. Certain mental illnesses can be especially difficult to cope with on a daily basis. I know.

But it is often that engagement that is at the heart of the matter. Depression may not be logical but to know that someone cares and is listening can be a lifeline.Borderline Personality Disorder is a license for drama and conflict but can be managed. Dual diagnoses such as Bipolar Disorder/Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder/Addiction require fortitude and compassion as well.

And yet our society is doing its best to remove faith from our national dialog. We warehouse the addicted and mentally ill in our prisons and an emaciated psychiatric treatment system. The VA is very good at dispensing pills but is not so good at counseling and longer term treatment of problems such as PTSD. Government is the large hammer and a scalpel is often required in mental health treatment.

Modern humanism has become a cult of its own using deconstruction, revisionism, and disproven cultural models such as Marxism to support an ever growing disassociation from reality. Perhaps this may contribute to the psychological dissonance of the mentally ill and addicted. They are adrift in a culture that makes little logical sense.

Faith is the ultimate expression of reason. It is only through logic and metaphysics that we can make sense of the world around us. It is imperative that we as a society use all of the available tools at our disposal to re-think mental health care and treatment.

Stigmatization has done terrible damage to the mentally ill and everyone around them. The first step is to remove this stigmatization. The Church is one of the most effective tools for doing so.

The Church, as was made obvious time and again during the Gathering on Mental Health, can also take a lead position in working with specialists in providing a support network and counseling of the mentally ill and their families. As Pastor Rick Warren and Bishop Vann said time and again, the Church can also take a lead role in counseling and providing resources to those with mental health issues. The Church is one of the first stops, regardless.

Mental health issues are some of the most delicate and complex to face those involved in them. Proper training, empathy, and the right personalities are critical to successful outcomes. It is not for the faint of heart. Compassion and competence must go hand in hand. It is not just a job. It is a calling.

Who better to make this critical contribution but the Church? We have been on the front lines of health care, both physical and mental, since the beginning. The Byzantine Church was the first to set up hospitals in the form quite recognizable now. Today we are being called to re-think and to commit to a new ministry, the healing of minds and souls.

The Gathering was a call to arms for Christians. To open our hearts and our eyes and our minds to the treatment of mental illness. Movements, like chemical reactions start with catalysts. I believe this was one of them.  The Force has been disturbed in a great and wondrous way.

 

The Deafening Silence on Leftist Corruption

The headlines have been full of the arrests of Democratic politicians on charges ranging from bribery to corruption to gun running and yet the opinion pages have been silent.

In 2006, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made the Republican “culture of corruption” a major campaign issue. The daughter of one of the most corrupt politicians in Maryland history, Thomas D’Allesandro, she hammered the Republicans for their support of legislation she and her allies deemed corrupt. It worked.

Then, in January of 2007, immediately after her election as Speaker of the House  the minimum wage was increased from $5.15 to $7.25. Pelosi had American Samoa exempted from the increase so that Del Monte Corporation would not have to pay the higher wage. Del Monte is based in her congressional district and at the time her husband held $17 million in shares in the company.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is famous for the influence she has peddled for her husband, Richard Blum. A few years ago she engineered a land swap that landed her husband’s company Pentagon held land that mining experts call perhaps one of the largest gold formations in the world in exchange for worthless rangeland in northern California. This is also the same man entrusted with the famous “Train to Nowhere” multi-billion dollar boondoggle.

So the recent arrests and convictions of a number of California politicians who happen to all be Democrats might come as a bit of a shock after such transparently obvious self dealing. Let’s look at the list, shall we?

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner – False Imprisonment & Battery

San Francisco Supervisor Ed Jew – Extortion & Perjury

State Senator Leland Yee – Arms Trafficking, Money Laundering, Murder for Hire, Drug Dealing, Bribery, Corruption and being a member of a Chinese Tong.

State Senator Ron Calderon – Bribery & Corruption

State Senator Rod Wright – Voter Fraud & Perjury

All of these politicians are on the far Left of the political spectrum. They are the ones who regularly accuse their political opponents of corruption, greed, racism and base motives. But time and again it seems that the ones who cry “Injustice” the loudest are in fact the most unjust.

Yee is one of the most vocal opponents of Second Amendment rights in America and yet he was caught on tape discussing the sale of automatic weapons and shoulder mounted rockets to terrorists in the Philippines, where U.S. Special Forces have been working side by side with the Philippine Army fighting those same terrorists.

Calderon was even more of a crook. Michael Drobot, who owned Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, bilked the state and federal governments of over $500 million in a sophisticated medical equipment scam. The same type of scam that our president promised to stamp out when selling Obamacare. Calderon facilitated Drobot’s  corrupt empire that included crooked doctors, medical equipment companies, and hospital personnel.

But the corruption of the left goes far beyond California. It is especially strong in Illinois; in New York and in a number of other blue states. In New York it even includes some of the Republican leadership.

On a national level the Obama Administration is open for business. The green energy scandals cost the taxpayers over $1 Trillion and much of the stimulus bill was parceled out for projects of very dubious utility. The GM and Chrysler bailouts benefited primarily the unions.

Crony capitalism is everywhere one chooses to gaze and yet the media is virtually silent. It even includes some Republicans and yet the thought leaders have chosen to ignore the problem because it does not fit the narrative. Just as the Nomenklatura pillaged the Soviet Union with their special privileges and dachas today’s Leftist politicians are carving their own “fair share” at the expense of the people.

In his 40 year career as a professional politician, Willie Brown was able to avoid indictment despite a highly flamboyant lifestyle and several investigations. He was admired by many for his style but he was dogged by corruption and favoritism charges throughout his career. Today, there are a thousand Willie Browns and Leland Yees and Ron Calderons and Dianne Feinsteins and Nancy Pelosis.

Now, indictments are coming fast and furious. You would think there is an opportunity for a Pulitzer, even.

And yet the same grifters in the press, in academia, the unions and the special interest groups are silent. For they too are part of the gravy train. Spout the proper slogans and steal all that you can that’s not nailed down and some of what is.

When I was a kid California was known as a “clean government” state. Starting back in the 1890’s the Populist Party was a disorganized amalgam of small businesspeople, workers, farmers, and political leaders. Activists such as Theodore Roosevelt rose in opposition to the “Reckless Decade” of the 1890’s.The clean government movement was founded to stamp out the rampant political corruption in many states. California was seen as a leader in good government. Now it is a banana republic as are so many of the “blue” states.

The map speaks for itself. From the wars on charter schools in Chicago and New York and Washington to the checkbook legislation in Washington our politicians are sitting behind the cash register and don’t give change.

We are in a new Reckless Decade where the oligarchs and the crony capitalists have been allowed to pillage. And because the disease is overwhelmingly on the Left today the country suffers. Our faith in justice is corrupted, and this is a very dangerous thing for our republic.

 

The Eternal Spotlessness of Obama’s Mind

This afternoon our president provided further evidence of his refusal to recognize objective reality and substitute it with his own. When asked if Mitt Romney was right about the threat Russia poses to the United States he misrepresented the actions of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and stated that a nuclear threat to Manhattan was our greatest threat. He also misrepresented the nature of the Russian state as a regional power. Which region does the president want to pick?

As Russia holds thousands of nuclear warheads and China’s military is growing at its fastest rate in history and countries such as Iran and Syria and Iraq and Pakistan and Afghanistan are thumbing their noses at the United States, our presidents actions and statements are deeply disconcerting.

Russia has fleets in the Pacific, Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Black  Seas and can project power globally. China has also been flexing its muscles. Both countries are clearly global, not regional powers. Russia has worked against our interests in the Middle East, in Africa, and in Latin America.

Mr. Obama drew a line in the sand in Syria that has been ignored globally. He is perhaps the most hated man in Egypt today. Hamid Karzai, who depends on American support for his survival, has openly thumbed his nose at Mr. Obama and his envoys.

The president has squandered thousands of American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and trillions of dollars with absolutely nothing to show for it. He has damaged our relationships with our allies throughout the world with his feckless policies and reckless spy programs.

And he has remained virtually silent in addressing the concerns of the American people with his actions. From his massive domestic spying program to being caught unaware of Russia’s coup in Crimea the president has faced almost no scrutiny for a lapdog press.

I was in Washington several years ago and had the chance to visit then Senator Obama’s office. I was amazed that it was almost pristine. No books, no memorabilia, no signs of what I had seen in 100 Congressional office over the years. It was sterile and disconcerting. For such a smart guy I was amazed at the lack of books.

Then, reports began to filter out of the insularity of the Obama White House. That the president did not engage with almost any of the members of Congress, including his own side. That the White House was an echo chamber for Obama’s ideology. That there was an “us versus them” attitude.

Then came the political control and use of the bureaucracy and its use against the president’s political opponents. Then came the czars and legislation through regulation.

And still there were few questions. And then came the stonewalling and use of secret e mail accounts and identities by senior government officials to communicate privately on public matters.

Bob Woodward has repeatedly described the insularity and extreme politicization of the White House staff. Bob Gates described the immaturity and insularity of the White House staff during his tenure under President Obama.

Even Dana Milbank, a strong Obama supporter quoted the Wall Street Journal about the administration’s distance from reality:

“In one account of what even administration officials acknowledge is a debacle, The Wall Street Journal reported that Obama’s policy advisers were aware long ago that the president’s promise that “if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it” wouldn’t hold up. “White House policy advisers objected to the breadth of Mr. Obama’s ‘keep your plan’ promise,” the Journal reported, citing a former senior administration official. “They were overruled by political aides, the former official said. The White House said it was unaware of the objections.”

The presidential press secretary, Jay Carney has resorted to the most tortured logic in defending the president’s actions, resorting to lies time and again whether on the Benghazi debacle, Obamacare, or any of 100 other subjects. This is, unfortunately, an objective truth which cannot be denied. Repeatedly we have been told that the president was unaware of any of the scandals surrounding him.

So which is it? President Chauncey Gardener or a single-minded politician who doesn’t care about the truth? We know of Obama’s devotion to the tenets of Alinsky and of his friendship with Bill Ayers now. The president has pushed harder and further left than any of his predecessors.

So how are we to analyze his latest remarks? Is it as delusional thinking or a calculated political desire to harm American interests. His expansions of spying on our citizenry and our allies portray a desire to be the all-knowing OZ, but to what end?

He knows nothing but he knows everything. He operates in a vacuum, we are told. Long ago my father told me to watch what someone does, not what they say.

Judging by his actions, our president is perhaps the greatest deceiver in history. he has honed saying one thing and doing another to the sharpness of a sushi knife. So it is not really a vacuous foolish president we have but a knave of the highest order.