Wisdom from American History – An Important Consideration

The Vice President of the United States, responding to a controversial act signed into law by his boss – the President of the United States, declared of this:

“Resolved, That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral part, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.”

Who was this Vice President who dare to challenge his boss’s authority with this damning reminder of the U.S. Constitution?

Thomas Jefferson.

Who was this President of the USA?

John Adams.

Vice President Thomas Jefferson wrote the above statement for the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, of which he penned in secret for the Kentucky legislature, opposing the Alien and Sedition Acts which was pushed by U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Adams. His fellow Virginian, James Madison, also wrote the Virginia Resolutions for the Virginia legislature in secret. The facts both men wrote these resolutions were not known until 25 years later.

I should note the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were a hasty response to pro-French sentiments in the US, in which a segment of French immigrants and illegal aliens supported the French Revolution and Napoleon, bringing fear and anxiety among the American population of a pending war with France and its supporters at the time. It is in no way comparable to the today’s ongoing battle over immigration laws in Arizona and in the US. The ASA of 1798 was not about illegal immigration, but it was about stopping the potential holes in the naturalization process for immigrants in the USA: whether an immigrant is sincerely wanting to migrate and settle in America or being a secret agent of a foreign power trying to undermine America’s interests. It was a very paranoid time and President Adams won’t have any sort of criticism to his policies and his administration governing the United States at home and overseas, especially while he was trying to avoid war with France or taking side with the British.

Jefferson was obviously pro-French, because he was saw the French Revolution while as an US minister to France. However, his argument against the ASA of 1798 was more about states’ rights and disputed the assertion that the federal government was to have all the final says for the union, reminding Congress not to ignore the Tenth Amendment and the foundational thinking of the Declaration of Independence.

The reason I selected this wisdom from the future 3rd President of the United States is because I believe that all powers of the United States government are reserved to the states respectively and to the American people. It was true in Jefferson’s time, it is true today and it should be true in the future. A federal government that is growing in scope, scale and power, virtually unchecked or manipulatively designed, can become a danger to the states and to the American people who reside in these states, and can violate the said compact in letter, in principle and in spirit.

Keep that in mind when you think of the reasons what the Tea Party movement is really about across America.

Five years after the ASA of 1798 (expired after 1800), as President of the United States, Jefferson oversaw the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France, opening the way for American expansion into the West.

Into Dangerous Territory: Obama’s Naive Nuclear Posture Gambit

Not too long ago, President Obama made a stunning change regarding America’s nuclear posture strategy – by rewriting a long-held policy of effective nuclear deterrence and ambiguity, dating back to the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. In this post-9/11 world, Obama decided that the United States should not retaliate with a nuclear response toward any country that aid or contribute to any WMD attack on America, despite any country’s compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran, are exceptions under the re-written policy. When I learned of this, I was beside myself with shock and anger, concluding that Obama has gotten America into a very dangerous territory by endorsing a policy with a certain language that spell very clearly to the enemies of the USA: it is perfectly opportunistic to attack and maim America at anytime, for that the U.S. does not have the moral standing to retaliate in kind. It is like a kid about to be rudely sucker-punched by a bully at any moment and the kid should not fight back in kind, even in defense.

Obama’s revised nuclear posture strategy is dangerously naive, for that he pledged a long-held campaign promise to rid the world of nuclear weapons (an unrealistic, impossible goal) by the means of continued negotiation and diplomacy with nuclear powers (of which he is hosting a nuclear summit in Washington, DC today and tomorrow), in hope that it would offer the USA a better standing and legitimacy confronting nuclear terrorism and rogue entities that can develop and deploy nuclear weapons as a mean of intimidation (and blackmail). Bad guys follow rules they can make up or goes for none; good guys have rules to adhere to and follow rules accordingly. What’s the difference? One side can break the rules willingly or in act of desperation.

However, the problem is that bad guys can be supported, one way or another, by few nuclear powers who are attending Obama’s nuclear security summit today. Do you honestly believe that nuclear states look out for America’s best interest in keeping the world free of nuclear weapons? I don’t. To them, weapons of mass destruction are the only means to have just in case and no one’s the wiser.

Even worse, Obama removed the notion of ambiguity from the language of the revised policy. Ambiguity, not only deterrence, is the central key to the U.S. nuclear posture strategy for many decades, for that it has effectively kept the enemies into guessing games with headache-inducing anxieties and sleepless nights about what kind of retaliation America would respond with. It has even prevented the Soviet Union and Saddam Hussein over the decades from attacking the US in any way without a virtual reassurance of what to expect from an awesome American retaliation (on a side note, I wonder if that’s one of the reasons why the Soviets had been producing too many nuclear warheads over the years?). The language of bluffing and posturing by nuclear powers are common in the negotiation tables and high-level meetings, but it must be backed by substantiated facts and verified hard data by certain sides, lest they resort to foolishly boasting its destructive capabilities without backing them up. Bluffing and posturing gives each side a sense of what they can or could do.

Yet, America has a wide-ranging arsenal of destructive capabilities at its disposal, but there’s no weapon far more effectively with the threat of nuclear retaliation and that’s ambiguity. In any case, America’s enemies are uncertain what kind of an awesome American retaliation they’re going to get, but there will be huge smoking ruins and permanent glassy parking lots anyway.

But Obama has taken that crucial option out of his revised nuclear posture policy, unfortunately.

We have a history of staying out others’ conflicts but circumstances forced us otherwise. It is for that reason we have such a history: we don’t like to be bothered or aggravated by some idiots doing some stupid shits while we’re minding and going about our business peaceably. Look at what the Imperialist Japan did to America with Pearl Harbor. Look at what the Nazis had designs on America if Britain fails. Then look at what we did to both of them within few years in kind. Then we had to deal with Uncle Joe and the Ruskies doing some stupid shits with taking over half of Europe and coming up with their own nukes. And the rest is history.

Frankly, I do not like what Obama is re-tooling (or fooling around) America’s strategic capabilities with defense, nuclear weapons, and appropriate responsive measures in such ways that it could render America into a weakened state, or with weaker responsive measures, and embolden the enemies with better opportunities of attack by any mean. Perhaps one such attack could make the 9/11 attacks seem like a walk in the park. I applauded Obama for keeping Bush’s man, Robert Gates as the Secretary of Defense, but I questioned the wisdom of Gates’ agreeing to stick around with his new boss, since the new boss is the complete opposite of Gates’ old boss. I mean what’s the big catch there? The revised policy doesn’t seem to come from Gates, but who originally pushed or influenced Obama in that direction? Or it came from Obama himself? Some media pundits have you thinking Obama is selling the revised policy to appease the liberal doves and giving himself a run for the money in dealing with nuclear powers in the summit today, an upper hand in moral preening if you will. Perhaps. But it is really showing his naivete in this post-9/11 world.

I think that Obama is operating on the assumption that America should be more evolved and enlightened about itself, that such a murderous mass killing of Americans from a WMD attack should mean little to America, that enduring such an attack should worth the price of showing restraint and having a stronger moral standing among the community of nations.

The problem is that, after we learned from the deaths of nearly 3000 people on 9/11, America, as a nation, is deeply affected by an act of cold-blooded, violent murder upon Americans by terrorists on the American soil. It’s like your neighbor has been home-invaded and murdered next door, and you feel affected and violated by it, because it happened next door and your neighbor is murdered as result. You’ll get angry and you wanted meted-out justice, damn the consequences. Americans, as a whole, don’t take an act of cold-blooded murder on a large scale kindly, even living in the most powerful and most envious country in the world, an object of admiration and hate worldwide. Even America have done terrible things in the past and admitted culpability in them, even as a supposedly “evolved and enlightened” country, as Obama would wanted us to believe. No matter, America cannot accept this kind of thing. Nevertheless, Obama, in his unrealistic belief about a nuclear weapon-free world, is playing a risky gambit with American lives with the revised nuclear posture policy. As if any WMD attack on an American city is worth the price of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

This is why Obama has gotten America into a very dangerous territory. It’s not going to force America’s enemies to become instant friends, all’s forgiven, bye-bye nukes, and sing Kumbaya-we-are-the-world-shit. In fact, it would embolden them, become more creative, and get into the business of proxy operations to kick America’s behind or devastate it. We’re not dealing with some bad guys with criminal connections or terrorist networking, we’re dealing with malicious players of cold-blood international reputation or rogue states with no compunction about using a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon against the United States. We’re dealing with these extremely patient entities determined to destroy the United States of America as a world power and as a country. It’s a matter of when, not if.

All things considering, you have to ask: cui bono? Who benefits? I mean who would benefit in seeing the USA destroyed as a world power and as a country? I’m talking of geopolitical implications in the future.

Having said all of above, I wanted to stress that Obama’s revised nuclear posture policy is not all set in stone, not all of the eyes has been dotted and the tees has been crossed. Obama, to his credit, left the door ajar in the revised policy, allowing him the option to strike back with a nuclear retaliation, as long as he realizes the magnitude of a WMD attack and in consultation with the right people to give him all the necessary options. He may only hope it doesn’t have to come to that but we’ll never know until one day – it happens.

Still, the fault would be on Obama as President of the United States. After all, it’s his job to protect America.

Two good articles:

Charles Krauthammer: Nuclear Posturing, Obama-style

Ace of SpadesHQ: Obama’s No Nukes Policy – Hungry for “Accomplishments”

Michael Ramirez‘s great political cartoon illustrating the silliness of Obama’s nuclear posture policy, courtesy of IBDEditorials.com and Townhall.com:

Andrew Klavan: Jaime Escalante vs Teachers Union – Who won?

Andrew Klavan, the author of international bestselling crime novels (which two were made into films), has a nice article about how the teachers union forced out the legendary Bolivian-born math teacher, Jaime Escalante from Garfield High in early 1990s: The Sequel that will never be made. Escalante was the inspiration for the 1988 movie, “Stand and Deliver”, a movie that I really did enjoyed the first time I saw it in captions; even I didn’t fare well with math or calculus myself, I was rooting for him and his students at Garfield High. The math teacher died last week on March 30, 2010 at the age of 79.

In Andrew Klavan’s article, he cited the teachers’ union as the reason for forcing out Escalante from his position in 1991 at Garfield High, excerpt:

The union opposed Escalante’s classes at the beginning when they were smaller than union rules allowed and at their peak when they became larger.  There were complaints he came to work too early and left too late, and gripes about his high standards and tough discipline.  “If you looked into what is going on in this school in the name of the union,” Escalante wrote the union president in 1990, “I think…  you would be appalled.”  Escalante was able to triumph over this opposition because his success had made him famous and because he had the support of another hero, Garfield principal Henry Gradillas.

But Gradillas had made an enemy of the union too and, in 1988, after he took a year-long sabbatical, he was reassigned to a position supervising asbestos removal.  Unprotected by the administration, Escalante was harried and demoted until, disgusted, he finally left the school in 1991.  A new teacher tried to continue his program but the union, backed by the new principal, chased him out with constraints and restrictions within a year.  By 1996, only 11 Garfield students passed the AP exam, down from a high of 85.

The teachers’ unions – National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have been largely responsible for the decline and failing of the American public education of children, as many conservatives pointed out for years, with the end result of the majority of American children falling behind in math, science, and reading in comparison with other countries (US is no. 7 in reading, no. 14 in science, no. 19 in math).

All because the teachers’ unions are more interesting in protecting teachers (and itself), even the incompetent ones and the very bad ones, from being fired or dismissed for poor performance or inability to improve students’ grades. Escalante’s philosophy for the disadvantaged students was simple: hard work, discipline, and study hard responsibly. Escalante’s control of his math and calculus program at Garfield High allowed him to improvise and expand the school’s educational and mathematical success in teaching poor and disadvantaged students, with limited financial supports, as opposed to well-off, elite high schools such as Beverly Hills High. It paid off in dividends for him and Garfield High. But the problems Escalante encountered at Garfield were resentment and petty jealousy from some of his fellow teachers and the teachers’ union representing them. To them, Escalante was antithesis to everything what the teachers union and the school administrators are about: protecting themselves and their reputations, notwithstanding students’ academic performances or the schools’ standing on the local and national levels.

Since Escalante left in 1991, his program at Garfield declined in academic performances and number of students over the years. He took another position at a Sacramento, CA. high school and improved the students’ calculus there, but it wasn’t the same for him. It took him over a decade to build up what he did at Garfield and he was in his 60s at another high school, so he didn’t have any more energy to build up another program there. He eventually left California to return home to Bolivia in 2001 and continued to teach math at a local university, with occasional visits to the US until his death last week.

I’m no fan of the teachers’ unions. They are never about accountability and are only responsible for themselves. If we are to have a real education reform in the US and to greatly improve students’ academic performances, from the rich ones to the disadvantaged ones, we needed to do away the teachers’ unions or reduce their powers. To see more information and exposure of the teachers unions and its powers, go here. Even good teachers and the best teachers are always the target of the teachers unions’ ire and wrath. I agreed with John Stossel: the teachers unions are killing the public schools.

The powers of the teachers unions have grown too big and too dangerous for the American public education, the teachers themselves, and the students, and the unions needed to be carved down. The legacy of Jaime Escalante would not go down in vain.

Jesse James is a cad, not a monster; stupid Us magazine cover

Recently, I saw this Us magazine on the newsstands and it depicts a bemused Sandra Bullock (an odd choice of picture) and a screaming bold headline: “Married to a Monster” with an inset picture of Jesse James. ZOMFG! Run, Sandra Bullocks fans, run from Jesse James! He’s a monster!

Jesus Henry Christ.

Are the people at Us magazine infantile-minded or stupidly sensationalistic on purpose? Jesse James is a cad, not a monster. Sandra married a man who could not get away from his old vices and good old days of hard-life biking and licentious babes. I thought Jesse James would have become a better man after he married Ms. Congeniality but I was wrong. However, the word to describe Jesse James is totally wrong.

To Us magazine people, a little education: this is a monster, this is a monster, this is a monster, this is a monster, this is a monster. There are well-known historic monsters: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam, Vlad the Impaler, Elizabeth Bathory, etc.

Jesse James is not a monster. Period. “Married to a Cad”, yes.

Not to make excuses for Jesse James, but a recent picture of him putting on a Nazi hat, used fingers to stimulate Hitler’s mustache, and doing the sieg heil salutation is no bombshell, a non-issue. He’s spoofing around, no different than Mel Brooks donning a Nazi uniform and spoofing the Nazis in the movie, The Producers (he was uncredited in this movie as a singer for “Springtime for Hitler”).

Shame on you, Jesse James, for not being a real man or a better man than you were in the “good” old days. What the hell were you thinking?!


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