I don’t read Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star much. It suffers from the same problems that most dead-tree publications around the country do today that are resulting in the spiraling loss of readership and revenue, but every now and then it does something that makes readers remember what local newspapers are really there for – to inform local citizens on what the hell is going on in their town.

Here’s an example that I’m going to quote in full for archival purposes. Read and learn what the Tucson Unified School District thinks is a good idea:

TUSD’s Raza unit survives under fire
Ethnic studies dept. could grow, reach younger kids
By Rhonda Bodfield

Calls are heating up to kill the Tucson Unified School District’s ethnic studies program — at the same time it becomes more likely that the district’s most controversial department could expand to reach more, and younger, students.

Critics, from the state’s schools chief to lawmakers to conservative talk-show hosts and columnists, have singled out Mexican-American/Raza Studies in particular, saying it’s divisive and turns students into angry revolutionaries.

For those unfamiliar, “Raza” is Spanish for “race.” The group “La Raza” bills itself as a “civil rights” organization. It is also associated with the racist organization MEChA – Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán. You remember Aztlán, right?

Would we be comfortable with a German-American Studies department that went by “Der Volk”?

But supporters say the program’s reach is too limited, given that it boosts student achievement by providing relevant and rigorous work to students all too often overlooked.

In a ruling last month that conditionally lifted the district’s decades-old racial balance order, a federal judge noted that “it is unimaginable that the eight-staff Mexican American/Raza Studies department would be capable of serving the (district’s) 30,118 Hispanic students.”

It is unimaginable to me that a judge would be sanguine about “Race studies” in elementary and secondary education.

TUSD’s budget crisis is putting the kibosh on any new money for this coming school year, but Governing Board member Adelita Grijalva says she’s committed to seeing the program grow the following year.

Oh, I imagine she is. Adelita is the daughter of U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva. More on this later.

For now, she’s asking for a discussion about equity within the ethnic studies’ $2.3 million budget, given that African-American Studies gets more funding and staff in a district overwhelmingly Latino.

Raza Studies serves about 500 high school students, who take a four-course block of history, social justice and two Chicano literature classes.

There’s that term again – “social justice.” I like Eric Schie’s take on it:

(T)he left-wing communitarian term “social justice,” which, although indefinable, clearly implies that the legal system should be involved in things like property redistribution and “human rights commissions.”

History? Actually teaching history would be great, but I imagine they use a text like Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.

The program should reach younger students, a 2006 outside audit said. Auditors recommended a feeder pipeline starting in the elementary schools.

Although they criticized the African-American, Pan-Asian and Native American departments for too few accountability measures, they lauded Raza Studies as the program’s “flagship.”

Inside the classroom

It’s the end of the school year and Raza Studies students at Tucson High Magnet School are presenting research findings to their principal.

Their PowerPoint presentation is critical of policies toward English learners; some concerns hinge on whether students are funneled to vocational tracks, and some focus on inferior equipment.

Then comes an exploration of classroom décor, with photos of classroom items students consider culturally insensitive.

First up is a baseball poster, which they say should be soccer or rugby to validate other cultures. Next up flashes the Pledge of Allegiance and a patriotic poster featuring the Statue of Liberty, the American flag and an eagle.

“Most of the kids are from a different country, and this is showing them that this is the country that’s the greatest and yours doesn’t matter,” a student maintains.

Kid, you’re living HERE. I don’t think that schools in Guatemala teach that their country sucks. They teach patriotism, too.

Principal Abel Morado tells the students he disagrees with their perspective. An initial role of public education was to mold a citizenry united under one democratic blanket, he says.

“It’s in our DNA in public schools to be sure we’re teaching you about being citizens of this nation,” Morado says.

The recent California court decision (PDF file) effectively banning homeschooling said very much the same:

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.

Welcome to America!

Morado says he considers the dialogue valuable because it’s important to reflect that America does not have just one culture or value system.

Tom Horne, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, considers the program’s very premise grounds to publicly rail against it, and, if necessary, to ban it through legislation.

“One of the most basic American values is that we judge people as individuals based on what they know and what they can do and what their character is like — and not based on what ethnic group they happen to have been born into,” Horne says. “I think it’s profoundly wrong to divide students up by ethnicity.”

Or religion. Or eye color.

When you do that, it’s called “balkanization.”

The director

Augustine Romero took over as head of ethnic studies two years ago, after running Raza Studies for four years. In his view, the system already divides students by ethnicity.

When he was a senior at Tucson High, his father asked school counselors to make military recruiters stop calling. His counselor couldn’t believe Romero planned to go to college.

He proved the counselor wrong, and the 41-year-old just finished his doctorate. “Yes, there are examples of people who have made it, but we’ve made it by having to work harder than most people because we’ve had to endure the inequities of the system,” he says.

Uh, dude… ANYBODY who earns a PhD has to work harder than most people. This is America. You bust your ass and try your best and HERE you have a chance to do anything you can dream. Ask Raul Grijalva, whose father was a migrant farm worker who entered the U.S. on the Bracero Program. How far do you think he’d have gotten if his father had stayed in Mexico?

Romero summons the work of Brazilian educationalist Paulo Freire to explain the premise of the program, hauling out a dog-eared and extensively highlighted copy of “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” He points to a passage: “This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well.”

Wow. Good to know I’m an “oppressor” just because my skin is white.

If people don’t like being called oppressors, Romero offers no apology. “We have to be able to be honest. If we have cancer, should we not name the cancer and overcome it? If oppression and subordination are our cancers, should we not name them?”

Even better! I’m a cancer!

But they’re not teaching hate or anything.

Anglos often don’t see racism, he says, so it needs to be pointed out, even though it has led to accusations that he propagates reverse racism. “When you name racism, people think you’re playing the race card and then they say, ‘You don’t like me because I’m white.’ No, I don’t like what was said. Because I’m one who names these things, some have the perception that I’m a racist and that I only care about children of color.”

Those children clearly need advocates, Romero says. There are glaring performance disparities between white and minority students — even in this district, where whites are only 30 percent of the student body.

Gee, do you think it might be because of parental involvement in their children’s education? There was a study recently published on that. There are “glaring performance disparities” between Asian students and all the rest, too. Is that because Asians discriminate against everyone else?

The recent court ruling noted test scores for black and Hispanic students lagged 10 percent to 15 percent behind those of their white counterparts, and up to 21 percent for Native Americans.

Ergo, it’s the fault of whites?

A person can take two views on this, Romero says.

The first: Blame the students and say their ethnic heritage in some way is deficient.

The second: Acknowledge that the educational system perpetuates white privilege and is stacked against minorities. These students are not at-risk, he says. “The system created risk for them.”

Yes, it’s the fault of the whites.

Sweet bleeding jeebus. Here’s an alternate for you Romey: Perhaps blame the students because they don’t study enough. It’s a proven cultural phenomenon. It’s why Asians do, on average, very well in school and blacks do, on average, very poorly. How well you perform in school is directly related not to race but to EFFORT.

A program like Raza Studies can even the odds, he says. Raza students outperform peers on AIMS tests. Scores from the 2006 senior class show 95 percent of the students passed reading, 97 percent passed writing and 77 percent passed math. Five out of six on a recent survey said the program kept them in school.

That’s great! But how? Did it make them mad enough to actually STUDY? You know, to “Prove whitey wrong”?

Do you think, just maybe, there might be some other way to motivate students to STUDY? Perhaps you should have a conversation with Jaime Escalante – but eventually school administration resistance made him give up and he went home to Bolivia.

Tucson High’s Morado visits the classes and doesn’t believe they’re divisive. “They offer a sense of identity for students who have historically not found that within these walls.”

One recent Raza Studies research project highlighted the fact that minorities take too few Advanced Placement courses and too many remedial classes — something the administration has been trying to address. “What those kids are talking about is the new civil rights movement of the 21st century,” Morado says.

The critics

The program’s critics range from elected state officials to high school students.

The campus Republicans at Tucson High circulated a petition in April to rein in the class after seeing a banner in a class window asking, “Who’s the illegal alien, pilgrim?”

The petition, signed by 50 of the school’s 2,900 students, was forwarded to a handful of state legislators, along with a note that maintained the department “is creating a hostile environment for non-Hispanic students and students who oppose creating a racially charged school environment.”

Fifty out of 2,900. (Carry the one…) That’s 1.7%. Big presence.

John Ward taught in the department in the 2002-03 school year. Of Latino heritage despite his Anglo-sounding name, Ward was all for more thoroughly integrating the contributions of Mexican-Americans into U.S. history. But once he started teaching, he became concerned about the program’s focus on victimization.

Color me shocked.

“They really wanted to identify the victimizer, which was the dominant group — in this case white America — and they wanted students to have a revolution against upper-class white America,” says Ward, who now works as a state auditor.

Ward, with his Anglo name, is obviously a race-traitor!

“They had a clear message that political departments in the U.S. are arms of the dominant culture designed to keep minorities in the ghetto and to keep them downtrodden. They’re teaching on the taxpayers’ dime that police officers and teachers are trying to keep them down. What a perverse message to teach these kids.”

Such messages, he says, won’t be found in the program’s textbooks, such as “Occupied America.”

“The department doesn’t look bad on paper. It’s what happens verbally that moves the debate from benign to pernicious,” Ward says.

The tone worried him: “The students had become very angry by the end of the year. I saw a marked change in them.”

That anger was evident in a presentation director Romero gave at a social justice symposium at the University of Arizona in April. Exploring ways schools create racially hostile environments, the presentation flashed quotes from former Raza Studies students.

Nate Camacho complained that teachers actually encouraged students to fight each other.

Vanessa Aragón said students see violence differently from what school officials see. “For us, it is violence we face from our teachers, administrators and TPD (the Tucson Police Department) every single day,” she said.

So the teachers and administrators physically abuse the students on a daily basis?

Kim Dominguez maintained she didn’t feel valued because nothing in class reflected her life. “We don’t really have a chance,” she said.

So they taught you self-pity. How wonderful!

Romero says anger is essential for transformation, but insists teachers work to transform that anger into something positive. “For me, there’s a real fine line between anger and awareness,” he says.

And you think you can control it?!?!

He chalks up the dispute with Ward to politics, saying Ward didn’t fit in because he was a conservative while he and the teachers in the department are liberal.

And he’s a race-traitor!

The students

Kristin Grijalva, 17, counts this last year as the most transformative of her school career. She was so shy as a young student that her teachers assumed she spoke only Spanish and put her in an English-learners class. “Now I’ve gained so much confidence,” says Grijalva, who plans to attend the University of Arizona to study medicine, with a minor in theater. “I have learned so much about myself that now I can talk and use my voice to inform people.”

And is Kristin the granddaughter of Raul? Even if not, shouldn’t she learn something from the Grijalva family history here? From the son of a migrant farm worker to a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Why shouldn’t she be able to do anything she sets her mind to?

Raza Studies teachers push students hard, she says, but are so supportive that they share cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses and encourage students to text or call anytime.

Grijalva says that when she learned more about Christopher Columbus, she became angry that he remains a celebrated figure. But she was taught to use her anger to be a warrior, not a soldier. Soldiers do what they’re told, she says. Warriors fight with their minds.

Grijalva acted like a warrior when a student asked her to sign the “pilgrim” petition. Before, she would have ripped up the paper, she says. Instead, she explained to the student that pilgrims from Europe seeking freedom weren’t all that different from Mexicans coming here.

Her fellow students would be just as angry to hear a white person called a “cracker” as a Mexican person called a “beaner,” Grijalva says.

“We realize it’s not only Euro-Americans who are against our class. There are our own Chicanos and African-Americans against our class,” she says. “It’s what we call ‘internal oppression.’ When you hate your own race, you’re basically hating yourself, but they’re going with what they hear instead of what they see.”

Like I said – balkanization. Everyone against everyone based on external features.

“Warriors.” Wonderful.

In class, students are encouraged to think critically and to defend their positions.

One day in early May, students analyzed a political cartoon to determine if the artist was liberal or conservative. With the newspaper required reading, they discussed the Democratic presidential nomination.

During a recent presentation, a student noted, “Even a game of chess can reflect the inequalities of our society. From way back, white always goes first.”

Teacher Jose Gonzalez nodded approvingly. “That’s deep. That’s powerful.”

That’s petty and bullshit.

Amy Rusk, Tucson High’s chief librarian who taught Chicano literature in the department for three years, says that as a white woman, she finds white privilege is “very much embedded in the system and that’s why we have to talk about it.”

Kids need to read literature where the grandmother switches back and forth between English and Spanish, just like they hear at home, she says.

They need to name 10 important Hispanic and 10 important black figures in U.S. history. And they need to know the system was set up to block minority achievement, she says. “I think to pretend everything is fine is very unfair to the kids,” Rusk says.

I think to make them think every gesture or utterance is a slight is unfair to the kids.

She says she’s heard students say they can’t do some academic work because they aren’t white and they aren’t smart. But not Raza Studies students; they come to her library more than their peers, and are more able to do independent research.

Who tells them that they aren’t smart because they aren’t white? Who is it that tells black students that studying is “acting white”? It isn’t white people.

“This program has much more to do with figuring out ways to help kids succeed who have not had academic identities before,” Rusk says. “And this system has let them not have those academic identities.”

“Academic identity.” Is that one of those terms like “social justice”?

The afternoon paper, The Tucson Citizen published a guest editorial by John Ward, the teacher mentioned above. I suggest you give it a read, too. A sample:

During the 2002-2003 school year, I taught a U.S. history course with a Mexican-American perspective. The course was part of the Raza/Chicano studies department.

Within one week of the course beginning, I was told that I was a “teacher of record,” meaning that I was expected only to assign grades. The Raza studies department staff would teach the class.

I was assigned to be a “teacher of record” because some members of the Raza studies staff lacked teaching certificates. It was a convenient way of circumventing the rules.

I stated that I expected to do more than assign grades. I expected to be involved in teaching the class. The department was less than enthusiastic but agreed.

Immediately it was clear that the class was not a U.S. history course, which the state of Arizona requires for graduation. The class was similar to a sociology course one expects to see at a university.

Where history was missing from the course, it was filled by controversial and biased curriculum.

The basic theme of the curriculum was that Mexican-Americans were and continue to be victims of a racist American society driven by the interests of middle and upper-class whites.

In this narrative, whites are able to maintain their influence only if minorities are held down. Thus, social, political and economic events in America must be understood through this lens.

This biased and sole paradigm justified teaching that our community police officers are an extension of the white power structure and that they are the strongmen used “to keep minorities in their ghettos.”

It justified telling the class that there are fewer Mexican-Americans in Tucson Magnet High School’s advanced placement courses because their “white teachers” do not believe they are capable and do not want them to get ahead.

I repeat: who is telling them that they aren’t smart because they aren’t white? Other hispanics. But that’s not what they’re being told. They’re being told that whites think they aren’t smart, and that’s something else entirely.

They’re building race-hatred, and blaming it on “the oppressor.” And yep, he’s a race-traitor, but in Spanish they call it “vendido” – “sellout.”

What happened to teaching the three “R’s”?

Ayn Rand Was Right

Do you really think we want those laws to be observed? We want them broken. There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking the law. Create a nation of lawbreakers and then you can cash in on the guilt. Now that’s the system! – Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957

Several bloggers have reported on the 10 year old Winchendon, Massachusetts boy who was suspended from school for five days for bringing a spent (that’s “fired,” “inert,” or “empty” for those of you in the Journalism profession) blank (that’s “never had a projectile” – the pointy bit that’s designed to come out of the barrel, the long tube-thingy that… never mind.) cartridge case to his school – a fired blank case that was given to him by a veteran, presumably after it was fired in a 21-gun salute on Memorial Day.

Yes, that’s outrageous.

But Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell has a little different spin on the story:

Well, the problem is, if you don’t have a license to have a firearm in Massachuetts, you can’t even possess ammunition or ammunition components. The truth is, this kid and everyone involved in this situation is lucky that it’s only resulting in a five day suspension. Under Massachusetts law, both the kid, the veteran who gave the kid the empty shell casing, and the teacher to took if from the kid could be looking at two years in prison for having ammunition components without a license.

These are the “reasonable restrictions” that the Brady Campaign wants to impose on the rest of the country. And they call us “nuts” and “paranoid” for arguing that these regulations are anything but reasonable.

I would be very curious to learn how often these laws are actually used in prosecution against armed robbers, drug dealers and the like.

A license to possess a spent cartridge case. It boggles.

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week

Proofs in geometry class have been a mainstay of mathematics. In fact, proofs were always considered an essential part of high school geometry, not only because of their importance in higher math, but because learning the rules of logical argument and reasoning has applications in science, law, political science, and writing. To see proofs being shortchanged in a geometry textbook was shocking. – Barry Garelick An A-Maze-ing Approach To Math, Education Next, Spring 2005, Vol. 4, No. 2

If you have young children in school, read the piece. If you have older children in schools using “Everyday Mathematics” or other National Council of Teachers of Mathematics approved curricula, get them out.

Secondary QotD from the same piece:

The education theory at the heart of the dispute can be traced to John Dewey, an early proponent of learning through discovery.

My buddy Dewey…

The Nuclear Option

The Nuclear Option

As I’ve noted previously, I have a copy of Barack HopeChange Obama’s audiobook The Audacity of Hope, and I’ve been listening to it, off and on, throughout my workday. Today I began section 2, which contains chapters 2 and 3 (as far as I’ve gotten to date.)

But today’s excerpt had something I found interesting and important. Beginning at about 35 minutes into part 2:

Gaining control of the courts generally, and the Supreme Court in particular, had become the holy grail for a generation of conservative activists. And not just, they insisted, because they viewed the Court as the last bastion of pro-abortion, pro-Affirmative Action, pro-homosexual, pro-criminal, pro-regulation, anti-religious liberal elitism. According to these activists, liberal judges had placed themselves above the law, basing their opinions not on the Constitution, but on their own whims and desired results, finding rights to abortion, or sodomy that did not exist in the Constitution, subverting the democratic process, and perverting the Founding Fathers’ original intent.

To return the courts to their proper role required the appointment of strict constructionists to the Federal bench – men and women who understood the difference between interpreting and making laws.

Those on the Left saw the situation quite differently. With conservative Republicans making gains in the congressional and presidential elections, many liberals viewed the courts as the only thing standing in the way of a radical effort to roll back civil rights, women’s rights, civil liberties, environmental regulation, church and state separation, and the entire legacy of the New Deal.

He then goes on to discuss how the nomination of Robert Bork was defeated, awakening the Right to the fact that they, too, needed “grassroots” organizations to promote and defend their nominees, and defeat those of the Left. He goes on to relate how the Republican majority defeated 61 of Clinton’s nominees,

…and for the brief time that they held the majority, the Democrats tried the same tactic on George W. Bush’s nominees.

But when the Democrats lost their Senate majority in 2002, they had only one arrow left in their quiver, a strategy that could be summed up in one word, the battle-cry around which the Democratic faithful now rallied: Filibuster!

The Constitution makes no mention of the filibuster. It is a Senate rule, one that dates back to the first Congress. The basic idea is simple. Because all Senate business is conducted by unanimous consent, any Senator can bring proceedings to a halt by exercising his right to unlimited debate, refusing to move on to the next order of business. In other words, he can talk – for as long as he wants. So long as he, or like-minded colleagues are willing to stay on the floor and talk, everything else has to wait, which gives each Senator an enormous amount of leverage, and a determined minority effective veto power over any piece of legislation.

Throughout the Senate’s modern history, the filibuster has remained a preciously guarded prerogative, one of the distinguishing features, it is said, along with six year terms, and the allocation of two Senators to each state regardless of population, that separates the Senate from the House and serves as a firewall against the dangers of majority overreach.

There’s another, grimmer history of the filibuster, though, one that carries special relevance for me.

He then goes on to detail how the Southern Democrats used the filibuster to protect Jim Crow and prevent any civil rights legislation from passing. Of course, he doesn’t mention the fact that most of those Senators were Democrats. He mentions Richard B. Russell by name, and names his state, but not his party affiliation.

Then he returns to Bush’s court nominations.

So it came to pass that President Bush, emboldened by a bigger Republican majority in the Senate and his self-proclaimed mandate, decided in the first few weeks of his second term to re-nominate seven previously filibustered judges. As a poke in the eye to the Democrats, it produced the desired response. Democratic leader Harry Reid called it a “big wet kiss” to the far Right, and renewed the threat of a filibuster. Republicans, sensing that this was the time to go in for the kill, announced that if Democrats continued in their obstructionist ways, they would have no choice but to invoke the dreaded “nuclear option,” a novel procedural maneuver that would involve the Senate’s presiding officer – perhaps Vice President Cheney himself – ignoring the opinion of the Senate Parliamentarian, breaking 200 years of Senate precedent, and deciding with the simple bang of a gavel that the use of the filibuster was no longer permissible under the Senate rules – at least when it came to judicial nominations.

To me, the threat to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominations was just one more example of Republicans changing the rules in the middle of the game.

Uh, right. Like putting up Frank Lautenberg for Senate in 2002 when it became blindingly apparent that the legally nominated but corrupt Robert Torricelli was going to lose his election? A case in which the notoriously “liberal” New Jersey Supreme Court said “It’s OK, go ahead and break your own rules!”? That kind of “changing the rules in the middle of the game”?

Changing the rules,” yes – but I was not aware that we were in the middle of the “game” of this Republic.

He continues:

Moreover, a good argument could be made that a vote on judicial nominations is precisely the situation where the filibuster’s supermajority requirement makes sense. Because federal judges receive lifetime appointments, and often serve through the terms of multiple Presidents, it behooves the President and benefits our Democracy to find moderate nominees who can find some measure of bipartisan support.

I’ve written on the topic of the Courts on numerous occasions, and I’m going to repeat myself here because this is precisely the kind of post that demands it. Barack Bipartisan Obama said early on in this excerpt, “According to these activists, liberal judges had placed themselves above the law, basing their opinions not on the Constitution, but on their own whims and desired results, finding rights to abortion, or sodomy that did not exist in the Constitution, subverting the democratic process, and perverting the Founding Fathers’ original intent”, subtly pooh-poohing the very idea that results-oriented judges exist on the Left. Once again, I’d like to quote the words of 9th Circuit judge Alex Kozinski on this very subject:

Judges know very well how to read the Constitution broadly when they are sympathetic to the right being asserted. We have held, without much ado, that “speech, or . . . the press” also means the Internet…and that “persons, houses, papers, and effects” also means public telephone booths….When a particular right comports especially well with our notions of good social policy, we build magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases – or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text. But, as the panel amply demonstrates, when we’re none too keen on a particular constitutional guarantee, we can be equally ingenious in burying language that is incontrovertibly there.

It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as springboards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us. As guardians of the Constitution, we must be consistent in interpreting its provisions. If we adopt a jurisprudence sympathetic to individual rights, we must give broad compass to all constitutional provisions that protect individuals from tyranny. If we take a more statist approach, we must give all such provisions narrow scope. Expanding some to gargantuan proportions while discarding others like a crumpled gum wrapper is not faithfully applying the Constitution; it’s using our power as federal judges to constitutionalize our personal preferences.

The able judges of the panel majority are usually very sympathetic to individual rights, but they have succumbed to the temptation to pick and choose.Silveira v. Lockyer, denial to hear appeal en banc, dissenting.

George Will in a piece from 2005 wrote:

When (Senator Harry) Reid endorsed Scalia for chief justice, he said: “I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are (sic) very hard to dispute.” There you have, starkly and ingenuously confessed, the judicial philosophy — if it can be dignified as such — of Reid and like-minded Democrats: Regardless of constitutional reasoning that can be annoyingly hard to refute, we care only about results. How many thoughtful Democrats will wish to take their stand where Reid has planted that flag?

This is the debate the country has needed for several generations: Should the Constitution be treated as so plastic, so changeable that it enables justices to reach whatever social outcomes — “results” — they, like the result-oriented senators who confirm them, consider desirable? If so, in what sense does the Constitution still constitute the nation?

Barack Middle of the Road Obama suggests that the selection of moderate judges should be preferred, since they “benefit our Democracy.”

It’s not supposed to be a DEMOCRACY. It’s supposed to be a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC. One in which the CONSTITUTION defines and limits the powers of the federal government, and the Judicial branch has to abide by it just like the Legislative and the Executive. It is the Constitution that Senators swear an oath to uphold and defend, not our “democracy.”

“Moderate” judges? I’ll let Scalia answer that one, since he’s been vetted by Reid himself and found to pass muster:

What in the world is a ‘moderate interpretation’ of the text? Halfway between what it really says and what you want it to say?

It is literally true that the U.S. Supreme Court has entirely liberated itself from the text of the Constitution.

What ‘we the people’ want most of all is someone who will agree with us as to what the evolving constitution says.

We are free at last, free at last. There is no respect in which we are chained or bound by the text of the Constitution. All it takes is five hands. – Antonin Scalia, excerpts from a speech quoted in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/10/04

Then we get to the meat of the excerpt:

Few of the Bush (appellate court) nominees in question fell into the “moderate” category. Rather they showed a pattern of hostility towards civil rights, privacy, and checks on executive power that put them to the Right of even most Republican judges. One particularly troubling nominee had derisively called Social Security and other New Deal programs quote “the triumph of our own socialist revolution” unquote.

Interestingly, Barack I’m not a Socialist Obama doesn’t tell his readers (or listeners) that the “particularly troubling nominee” was Janice Rogers Brown, an African-American woman nominated to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. district. Her remark comes from a speech she gave to the Federalist Society, April 20, 2000, entitled “A Whiter Shade of Pale”: Sense and Nonsense – The Pursuit of Perfection in Law and Politics, which I strongly recommend you read. Here’s her quote in context:

There is nothing new, of course, in the idea that the framers did not buy into the notion of human perfectibility. And the document they drafted and the nation adopted in 1789 is shot through with provisions that can only be understood against the supposition that humanity’s capacity for evil and tyranny is quite as real and quite as great as its capacity for reason and altruism. Indeed, as noted earlier, in politics, the framers may have envisioned the former tendency as the stronger, especially in the wake of the country’s experience under the Articles of Confederation. The fear of “factions,” of an “encroaching tyranny”; the need for ambition to counter ambition”; all of these concerns identified in the Federalist Papers have stratagems designed to defend against them in the Constitution itself. We needed them, the framers were convinced, because “angels do not govern”; men do.

It was a quite opposite notion of humanity, of its fundamental nature and capacities, that animated the great concurrent event in the West in 1789 — the revolution in France. Out of that revolutionary holocaust — intellectually an improbable melding of Rousseau with Descartes — the powerful notion of abstract human rights was born. At the risk of being skewered by historians of ideas, I want to suggest that the belief in and the impulse toward human perfection, at least in the political life of a nation, is an idea whose arc can be traced from the Enlightenment, through the Terror, to Marx and Engels, to the Revolutions of 1917 and 1937. The latter date marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution. All of these events were manifestations of a particularly skewed view of human nature and the nature of human reason. To the extent the Enlightenment sought to substitute the paradigm of reason for faith, custom or tradition, it failed to provide rational explanation of the significance of human life. It thus led, in a sort of ultimate irony, to the repudiation of reason and to a full-fledged flight from truth — what Revel describes as “an almost pathological indifference to the truth.”

There were obviously urgent economic and social reasons driving not only the political culture but the constitutional culture in the mid-1930’s — though it was actually the mistakes of governments (closed borders, high tariffs, and other protectionist measures) that transformed a “momentary breakdown into an international cataclysm.” The climate of opinion favoring collectivist social and political solutions had a worldwide dimension.

Politically, the belief in human perfectibility is another way of asserting that differences between the few and the many can, over time, be erased. That creed is a critical philosophical proposition underlying the New Deal. What is extraordinary is the way that thesis infiltrated and affected American constitutionalism over the next three-quarters of a century. Its effect was not simply to repudiate, both philosophically and in legal doctrine, the framers’ conception of humanity, but to cut away the very ground on which the Constitution rests. Because the only way to come to terms with an enduring Constitution is to believe that the human condition is itself enduring.

For complex reasons, attempts to impose a collectivist political solution in the United States failed. But, the political failure was of little practical concern, in a way that is oddly unappreciated, that same impulse succeeded within the judiciary, especially in the federal high court. The idea of abstract rights, government entitlements as the most significant form of property, is well suited to conditions of economic distress and the emergence of a propertyless class. But the economic convulsions of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s passed away; the doctrinal underpinnings of West Coast Hotel and the “switch in time” did not. Indeed, over the next half century it consumed much of the classical conception of the Constitution.

Barack New Deal Obama protests that nominees like Ms. Brown want to “roll back” the “progress” that the courts have brought about. I’ve discussed this before, too. Law professor (and now Dean of the U.C. Irvine School of Law) Erwin Chemerinsky appears on the radio talk show of Republican apparatchik Hugh Hewitt weekly as one of the “Smart Guys,” along with Chapman University law professor John Eastman. Coincidentally, on Wednesday, June 8, 2005 – the day of Janice Rogers Brown’s confirmation to the Appellate position on a partisan 56-43 vote (with only one Democrat crossing the aisle to vote in her favor – Ben Nelson of Nebraska) – the Smart Guys were on Hewitt’s show, and Chemerinski made precisely the same argument. First, Eastman responds to Chuck Schumer’s objection to Brown’s confirmation

You know, I mean, it’s just so preposterous, I don’t even know where to begin. The reason Chuck Schumer is so upset about this is Justice Brown is the kind of judge who will, you know, adhere to the Constitution. And when the members of the legislature, even the exalted Chuck Schumer himself, want to take actions that is not authorized by the Constitution, she’ll be willing to stand up and do her duty, and strike it down. That’s not an arrogance, that’s what the judges are there for, to adhere to the Constitution, and not to let the legislature roll over them and do whatever they want. You know, it really is preposterous. We’ve turned this upside down. The judges that do exactly what they’re supposed to do are demonized, and those that take a powder and let the legislature get away with every abuse, every extension of power imaginable, are touted at the cocktail circuit.

Chemerinsky then throws in the “roll back” language – in his case “shred” – used by Obama:

I think what Senator Schumer is saying, and is absolutely right, is that Janice Rogers Brown’s repeated statements that she believes that the New Deal programs like social security are unconstitutional, is truly a radical view. That’s not a judge who wants to uphold the Constitution. That’s a judge who wants to shred the last eighty years of American Constitutional law. Janice Rogers Brown saying she believes that the Bill of Rights should not apply to the states, would undo the last seventy years of Constitutional law. That’s not a judge who wants to follow the law. That’s a judge who wants to make the law in her own radical, conservative views.

But Eastman understands exactly what Chemerinski – and, by extension Obama, is arguing:

Hang on, here, because Erwin…there’s a wonderfully subtle change in your phraseology that demonstrates what’s going on here. You said she won’t follow the Constitution, and then you said it’s because she won’t follow the last seventy or eighty years of Constitutional law. What happened seventy or eighty years ago that changed the Constitution? There was not a single amendment at issue in the 1930’s that changed the Constitution. Some radical, federal programs were pushed through. Some radical judges, under pressure, finally signed on them, and the notion that we can’t question that unconstitutional action that occurred in the 1930’s, and somehow that defending that unconstitutionality is adherent to the rule of law, is rather extraordinary. There are scholars on left and right that have understood that what went on in the 1930’s was…had no basis in Constitutional law, or in the letter of the Constitution itself.

So Obama wants moderate nominees?

The title of this essay is “The Nuclear Option.” I named it that for a reason. John McCain has caught a lot of flak for preventing the implementation of “The Nuclear Option” with his Gang of 14 who negotiated the compromise that also resulted in Judge Brown’s confirmation.

But he was right.

As we go into the 2008 elections, the Democrats will, once again, control the House and Senate – perhaps with significant majorities. No matter who ends up in the White House, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be run by Democrats, and any and all nominees will be vetted by them. If John McCain wins the White House, then “moderates” are the best we as a nation can expect to see confirmed, but if Obama or Hillary wins, then Republicans will be in precisely the same position the Democrats were in. Filibuster will be the Republican’s only arrow in their quiver.

What do you want to bet that “The Nuclear Option” will be brought up by the Democrats in that event?

At least that’s not a tool the Republicans generously handed them.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

Stress is the great finisher of the unpracticed shooter. After the battle of Gettysburg, 27,574 muskets were collected from the field. Of these, 24,000 were loaded; 12,000 were at least double-loaded, and of these, 6,000 had anywhere between 3 to 10 charges down the barrel. The soldiers who had left them behind were so terrified that they loaded without realizing they were not firing. – David E. Petzal, Field & Stream’s “The Gun Nut,” Amateur Hour

I’d seen those stats before, I believe, in On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by LTC Dave Grossman, but I thought it was interesting enough to be QotD.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

Every human life counts. Your life counts. You have a right to live it as you choose, to follow your bliss. You have a right to seek satisfaction in accomplishment. And if you chase after the almighty dollar, you just might find that you are led, as if by an invisible hand, to do things that improve the lives of others. – David Boaz, Our Collectivist Candidates, Wall Street Journal Online, 5/28/08, p. A17 of the dead-tree version.

Found at The Volokh Conspiracy.

And I still think we have to “embrace teh suck” and vote McCain, because – as Rachel Lucas opined

I don’t give a flying fuck that McCain is more liberal than we would like and that he’s basically an asshole, because I’m operating with the awareness that he’s still better than Obama by about a hundred orders of magnitude.

Okay, maybe only five or six orders of magnitude…

Bumper Stickers

As noted in the post below, I’m offering for sale the “F^*K IT! McCAIN ’08” bumper sticker. I have some on order now, but not enough to cover the orders (if y’all are being serious) that have already come in.

I prefer to run The Smallest Minority as a non-profit. It makes that “fair use” disclaimer at the bottom of the page much more believable if I don’t benefit from the operation of this site, but handling a bunch of bumper sticker orders looks to me to be at least a minor PITA, so earning a little cash on the deal is tempting.

Was tempting.

I hereby announce that any and all profits on these stickers will go to Jed at Freedomsight to help pay for his very necessary dental work. In fact, if we can arrange it, I would prefer that you hit his tipjar then he can contact me and let me know where to send the bumper stickers, and how many. That way I’m not even handling the money.

Let me know what you think. I haven’t even sprung it on him yet, but I will as soon as I hit the “Publish Post” button.

UPDATE: We’re on! Jed emails:

My observation of PayPal e-mails is that they provide a comment area, so purchasers can supply quantity and mailing address, and I can just forward that info to you.

So head on over, hit his tipjar, give him the name and address in the comment area, and we can get this show on the road!

For those preferring another payment method over PayPal, drop me an email at gunrightsATcomcastDOTnet and we’ll see what we can work out.


Qty. 1 to 4, $5 each

Qty. 5 to 9, $4 each

Qty. 10+, $3 each.

So if you want 4 it’s $20, (and you’ll receive 5).

These prices include postage. And remember, it’s for a good guy, that’s why the pricing is wacky. (Are you really going to order nine???)

UPDATE: Jed has his system worked out now. Go here, follow his instructions and place your orders.

Again, if you don’t want to use PayPal, drop me an email.

Repulsive Presidential Candidates

Hmm… Perhaps I should print a few gross of these up and sell them:

It’s getting to be popular. Snowflakes in Hell mentioned it, and the inestimable Rachel Lucas picked it up not once, but twice. Ol’Broad gave it a mention last week, too.

If you’ve seen it elsewhere, cited or not, please let me know.

UPDATE I: As others have reminded me, it has also appeared at The Geek with a .45, where Curtis Lowe found it. Candy for Idiots has placed it on their sidebar, and Gary Cruise has posted on it as well.

It’s a meme!

UPDATE II: At the request demand of the Blue-Eyed Infidel, I have some of these on order. I expect them to take a few days to get here, though. How does $5 each or 5 for $20 sound, postage paid? Get your orders in.

UPDATE III: It is a meme! The bumper sticker is now linked at:

Classical Values

Grief in Brief

Political inSecurity

Pun Salad

And The Jawa Report.

So far (if they’re serious) I have 41 requested.

Edited to add: One commenter at The Jawa Report suggested a good alternative:

Unfortunately, not enough people get the military slang.

And another one:

The text is too small, but the sentiment is perfect.

UPDATE IV: If you’ve just clicked in to this post as a single, and you’re at all interested in purchasing a bumper sticker or twelve, please read the post above this one.

Range Report

To celebrate Memorial Day, I took the 700 5R back to the range with a small range of loads to test. First, yesterday afternoon I thoroughly cleaned the barrel until it was as sqeeky-clean as I could get it. I did not, per the recommendation, use Bore Paste on a patch wrapped around a brush, since this barrel had, at that point, only 50 rounds fired through it. I scrubbed it three times with foaming bore cleaner, followed by Butch’s Bore Shine until the patches came out clean. Then I treated it with Ultra Bore Coat per the instructions, and let it sit overnight.

At the range, after setting up everything (except my spotting scope, which I neglected to bring), I fired 20 rounds at a load-and-fire rate to warm the barrel up and condition it, also per the UBC instructions. If you recall from my previous range trip, I had to move the scope back on the Picatinny rail, so it was no longer sighted in. It took me another 15 rounds before I was back on paper, because it was shooting a little low and a lot right. After I got it sighted in, I cleaned. The instructions warn to not use a bore brush, and if you must, us a nylon one. I used just a slotted jag and a patch soaked with Butch’s Bore Shine, and then a button jag and patch after patch. The first couple of patches had flakes of what I assume must be the Bore Coat material – black, shiny specks, but fairly rapidly the patches started coming out clean. No copper fouling was evident.

Then I settled in to do some shooting.

I brought 100 rounds of 175 grain Sierra Match Kings in Lapua brass, loaded with Varget and primed with WLR primers. Twenty each of 42.0, 42.2, 42.4, 42.6, and 42.8* grains. I’d burned two of each load warming up the barrel, and fifteen more of the 42.0 getting on target. That left me three of the 42.0 load, and eighteen each of the others. I fired the three 42.0’s to foul the barrel, and then started shooting for groups.

Overall, I’m pretty happy. The heavier I went with the charge weight, the better it shot. After I’d put about forty rounds through it, I cleaned it again, and I was getting almost spotless patches quite rapidly. (As I noted previously, I don’t like cleaning, and I’m not a fanatic about it.) The best group of the day was the last one I shot – rounds 91-95, with a center-to-center spread of 1.24″ at 200 meters, or a hair over 0.6MOA.

That was with the 42.8 grain load. One other thing: this rifle craters primers. Even at 42.0 grains, there’s a little cratering evident, so I’m no longer going to assume that the cratering I saw previously is actually a sign of high pressure. There was no evidence of piercing at all.

Other comments: The HS Precision stock looks very nice, but it is not very ergonomic – at least not for me, shooting off the bench. My right hand is sore from assuming an odd position in order to get my finger on the trigger properly. Major kudos to Ninth Stage for providing the spirit level. It’s amazing how easy it is to cant the rifle off of vertical without noticing, and that little device stops that cold. Ninety-five rounds of 175 grain SMKs at something on the order of 2600fps beats the CRAP out of you. Individually, they’re not bad, but the beating is cumulative. I let somebody else shoot the last five. I think my next test will be with the 155 grain Lapua Scenars, which are actually as long as the 180SMK. The Williams bottom metal was worth the money, as was the Evolution Gun Works 20MOA scope base. The bottom metal doesn’t make it shoot better (I don’t think), but it appears to be a lot more rugged. The Burris Xtreme mounts do not let the scope move a nanometer, and the scope? Given its wince-inducing price, it does the job I bought it for. It’s clear and crisp, the adjustments are positive and repeatable, the side focus works as advertised. I’m very pleased with the whole package.

*Use this load data at your own risk. Not responsible for typos or tyros who blow up their guns using load data from someone you don’t even know. This is safe in MY rifle. YMMV.