Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Buying the War" from Bill Moyers and PBS

Watch this and encourage others to do so as well. The average "journalist" in/on Big Media has much to answer for yet their corporate masters have even more to explain. Peace ... or War!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Richard Clark and Bu$hCo's Puppy Dog Theory

I never did get around to reading Richard Clark's Against All Enemies yet certainly followed the coverage the work and his testimony received. Wednesday's New York Daily News had a nice op-ed from Mr. Clark that I thought I'd share.

Here's what I consider as the best portion:

Of course, nothing about our being "over there" in any way prevents terrorists from coming here. Quite the opposite, the evidence is overwhelming that our presence provides motivation for people throughout the Arab world to become anti-American terrorists.

Some 100,000 Iraqis, probably more, have been killed since our invasion. They have parents, children, cousins and fellow tribal clan members who have pledged revenge no matter how long it takes. For many, that revenge is focused on America.

At the same time, investing time, energy and resources in Iraq takes our eye off two far more urgent tasks at hand: one, guarding the homeland against terrorism much better than the pork-dispensing Department of Homeland Security currently does the job; and two, systematically dismantling Al Qaeda all over the world, from Canada to Asia to Africa. On both these fronts, the Bush administration's focus is sorely lacking.

Richard Clark's book, like that of the CIA's George Tenet which is just around the corner, and plenty of others will be part of the very interesting and yet so sad history of the Bu$hCo years. I truly think in time you'll have people either denying they voted for old Dubyah or making some interesting excuses of why they did so. Certainly our corporate Big Media, Karl Rove's tricks combined with the GOP machine's discipline, dreadfully flawed Democratic campaigns/consultants ... will provide cover for some denying their support. Still, the majority of informed and intelligent Americans I knew in 2004, and 2000 to a lesser extent, did not support Bu$hCo.

Truly Iraq was a disaster. Would that we could salvage something from the many failures. If another administration was handling perhaps we could even yet. John Kerry, and the other grown ups that actually had combat and other experience that he'd have brought into his administration, would have had two years now, but for Ohio and the fear-mongering of 9-11 and gay marriage. I often wonder what our foreign policy, including military force, would look like now. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Opelika-Auburn News Urges Health Care Reform

I hardly think of the Opelika-Auburn News as a Progressive paper plus the vague call for "health care reform" (while rightfully lamenting Alabama's Medicaid system) is limiting yet ... Hey, it's a start! I like the John Edwards plan and appreciate the fact he's up front about raising taxes on the more affluent to pay for the coverage. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Direction and decision time so light posting

I meant to get this posted yesterday. I'll not be blogging for at least a few days. I'd bet on myself this past year and into the start of 2007 yet so far that wager hasn't paid out. And it is about to be called due. In the next few days I'll be exploring both some "make do" work and some seriously long term opportunities. Peace ... or War!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Toon of Truth ~ Campaign Fundraising Influence

Joe Heller from The Green Bay Press-Gazette provides this image from Daryl Cagle's MSNBC Syndicate. The small dollar donations from average Americans are fine yet it would be so grand to have the candidates not requiring so much money to compete. Public financing plans ought to be part of the solution. Nothing else to add but an "Amen" I suppose. Peace .. or War!

Outlander of the Day ~ Alabama's Charles Bishop

Charles Bishop (R - Jasper) resigned as Alabama's Labor Secretary over Governor Riley's efforts to equalize Alabama's regressive tax system and then helped defeat the proposal. He was for the recent legislative pay raise before he was against it. At a rally pandering to a few pay raise opponents, he veered off topic and asked those attending if they believed "all those Mexicans should go back to Mexico", with the crowd responding enthusiastically. "All" of them? Should I go back to Scotland? And England? And ...?

Today's news that Senator Bishop wants the issue of an official state apology for slavery decided by a vote of the public shouldn't be surprising. Senator Bishop claims he's worried that "lawsuits" will result. While I'm not always happy with Senator Sanders, he's correct in the fact that most reparation claims are time barred. Corporations, rather than individuals, might face some exposure yet even that's a stretch. This MSNBC/AP article from the past summer is decent entry level material on the issue yet is interesting simply for the human angle.

Here's my beef though. Alabama has hardly had a real good record on these votes. Just today MSNBC/AP recalls 40% of Alabama voters voting against the removal of the ban on interracial marriages, which has long been unenforceable, from our antiquated Constitution. This old CNN coverage of the vote hardly comforted me on how our voters might handle this apology issue. We voted down removal of language on segregated schools!

Alabama voters just might serve up some numbers that might not be very pretty if Charles Bishop get his way. Peace ... or War!

UPDATE - July 2, 2008 - Like Dan I could also write many posts on Alabama's CCC. He reveals the following:

Alabama Senator Charles Bishop was the keynote speaker at 2008 Conference of the Council of Conservative Citizens. For those that don’t know, the CCC is an interesting Christian conservative organization. They have 14 principles — some of them are more than okay. I like the Bill of Rights too, even the ones that are out of favor currently. Other principles, however, are a little more than sublimely racist. Some of the highlights:

  • They believe the US is a “European” [white] country and should remain that way.
  • They oppose any and all Mexican immigration (as well as any other non-European immigrants).
  • They oppose interracial marriage.
  • There shouldn’t be histories, monuments, and cultural items that show anything but a European perspective of US history and culture.
  • They oppose “multicultural” and “Afrocentric” education in schools.

Cornerstone of the Day ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Image credit to Peter Yang and Rolling Stone from Douglas Brinkley's "Vonnegut's Apocalypse" from the not too distant past. I think and hope I clipped the actual article. Here's another of my favorites, and darned if it doesn't apply even more as of late:
Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before... He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way. - Cat's Cradle (1963)
I had a hard time deciding how to label this Cornerstone. I started with "resentment", then went to "ignorance", then to "learning", then to "waste", then to "regret", then to ... Any ideas? I reckon it's so deep that it applies to plenty.

I also suppose the beginning of the Brinkley piece (He survived being captured by the Nazis and the suicide of his mother to write some of the funniest, darkest novels of our time, but it took George W. Bush to break him.) applies to how many from the left might feel. Indeed the Bu$hCo years have been and remain a very dark chapter for our world. I'm not broken but seriously bent. Vonnegut had little faith in humanity before Commander Codpiece and the Mayberry Machiavellis started ruining everything they touched yet Bu$hCo was apparently the last straw. I've read his last work, Man Without a Country, and figure he'd pretty much given up on a nation that would settle for "leadership" by such a disaster of an administration.

Given that I hardly think Dubyah has worked hard at much of anything in his life, and "ignorant" certainly applies, maybe this applies to an extent. Yet, it's broader than simply this current President. From my own struggles of late to find my way in the working world to the Alabama politicians to the local yokels running things near my "home" to the ... I've got a powerful dose of resentment working these days. Hate to be in that place and hope it eases sooner rather than later. Peace .. or War

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Outlander of the Day ~ Paul Wolfowitz

Newsweek's Michael Hirsh provides "Why He’s Failing (Again)" which examines not only Wolfowitz' failures related to Iraq but also his ginning up a high paying job at State for his main squeeze Shaha Riza. So much for that focus on ending corruption around The World Bank! Certainly that talk that ending corruption was a prerequisite to ending poverty seems a little hollow. At least Ms. Riza's poverty isn't much of an issue since she makes more that Secretary Rice.

Heck of a job Georgie putting this rascal in at the #2 slot at Defense and then getting him, after the dreadful work he did related to Iraq, in as the top tomato at The World Bank. Peace ... or War!

I'm with Huey Long ... Let's "Soak the Rich!"

Huey Long is truly fascinating. I can't help but think how he and some of the old school Populists like Henry Wallace (or perhaps even Alabama's Lister Hill or John Sparkman or big Jim Folsom or ...) would respond the foolishness of tax/economic policies built on "Supply Side" theories. I expect they'd have a fine time tearing these Republican fantasies to shreds.

A few days ago I ran across Bruce Bartlett's Op-Ed in the Gray Lady titled "How Supply-Side Economics Trickled Down" and started to post off it. Folks may recall that Bartlett worked under both The Gipper and Bu$h the Elder. Today I located another NYT Busines Section piece from Robert H. Frank titled "In the Real World of Work and Wages, Trickle-Down Theories Don’t Hold Up".

Bartlett wrote, in part:
Today, supply-side economics has become associated with an obsession for cutting taxes under any and all circumstances. No longer do its advocates in Congress and elsewhere confine themselves to cutting marginal tax rates — the tax on each additional dollar earned — as the original supply-siders did. Rather, they support even the most gimmicky, economically dubious tax cuts with the same intensity.

I'm hardly a fan yet even this "Supply Side" cheerleader, at least back in the day, knows the doctrine had gone way off the reservation. He suggests a proper burial. Amen!

Mr. Frank begins his effort with:

When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton famously replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” The same logic explains the call by John Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidate, for higher taxes on top earners to underwrite his proposal for universal health coverage.

Providing universal coverage will be expensive. With the median wage, adjusted for inflation, lower now than in 1980, most middle-class families cannot afford additional taxes. In contrast, the top tenth of 1 percent of earners today make about four times as much as in 1980, while those higher up have enjoyed even larger gains. Chief executives of large American companies, for example, earn more than 10 times what they did in 1980. In short, top earners are where the money is. Universal health coverage cannot happen unless they pay higher taxes.

Trickle-down theorists are quick to object that higher taxes would cause top earners to work less and take fewer risks, thereby stifling economic growth. In their familiar rhetorical flourish, they insist that a more progressive tax system would kill the geese that lay the golden eggs. On close examination, however, this claim is supported neither by economic theory nor by empirical evidence.

He closes with:

In the United States, trickle-down theory’s insistence that a more progressive tax structure would compromise economic growth has long blocked attempts to provide valued public services. Thus, although every other industrial country provides universal health coverage, trickle-down theorists insist that the wealthiest country on earth cannot afford to do so. Elizabeth Edwards faces her battle with cancer with the full support of the world’s most advanced medical system, yet millions of other Americans face similar battles without even minimal access to that system.

Low- and middle-income families are not the only ones who have been harmed by our inability to provide valued public services. For example, rich and poor alike would benefit from an expansion of the Energy Department’s program to secure stockpiles of nuclear materials that remain poorly guarded in the former Soviet Union. Instead, the Bush administration has cut this program, even as terrorists actively seek to acquire nuclear weaponry.

The rich are where the money is. Many top earners would willingly pay higher taxes for public services that promise high value. Yet trickle-down theory, which is supported neither by theory nor evidence, continues to stand in the way. This theory is ripe for abandonment.

Soak the rich! I'm pretty much an Unreconstructed Keynesian so I'm waiting for those ideas to come back into vogue. Seriously, a stronger America requires a progressive tax code. Peace ... or War!

Kurt Vonnegut's Cornerstone of the Day

I'll place aside the Progressive Farmer Cornerstones books for a few days. This image is a nice one in that Mr. Vonnegut is smiling. In The Sirens of Titan (1959) Kurt Vonnegut wrote,
"The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart."
I use that quote as part of my Daily Kos comments plus I also recall relaying a sanitized version to several of my classes. The line can come across as a little arrogant and yet often seems appropriate in these times where so many people with power appear to be lacking in depth. Peace ... or War!

Toon of Truth ~ Ward Sutton's "Where's My Party"

Ward Sutton is back. The 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th lines are what chaps me most often. As a caveat, there are plenty of solid Democratic Party members and even a few leaders that do a fine job representing the party. Less of the regularly booked pundits and maybe even less of the consultant class see to "get it" however. I've seen the GOP's discipline and message machine routinely whipping my team and often I've felt we've allowed them to have their way with us. Why? I recall fussing in the last campaign I worked that we needed more command and less consensus, which I doubt the average Republican effort suffers from. Embracing Progressivism and Populism seems to me to be the way forward. Russ Feingold's "backbone" is a good example of what works. Peace ... or War!

Kurt Vonnegut ~ 1922 to 2007

Up late after a sister called me well into the evening to remind me how dire my circumstances are sans meaningful employment, like I wasn't aware of the same, I'm now thinking of Kurt Vonnegut. I'm not really sad as he'd surely done plenty in his many years and has left a legacy indeed yet I'd grown rather fond of this amazing man these last few years. It's perhaps appropriate to turn to the Indianapolis Star for the report of his death. Think I'll pull down his A Man Without a Country for a touch and then see if I can get some sleep. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"The dog at my homework" excuse offered by Bu$hCo on certain RNC e-mails

The WaPo/Reuters has just posted "Some W. House e-mails on fired attorneys may be lost". Tom Hamburger of the LA Times adds further information with "Officials' e-mail may be missing, White House says : Experts will attempt to recover messages on private system sought in probe of U.S. attorneys' firings". Worst administration ever! Peace ... or War!

Cornerstone of the Day ~ Art

I'm seeming to be attracted to French thinkers these days. Paul Valery, a broad intellectual that was perhaps as much poet as anything, said
"An artist never really finishes his work, he merely abandons it."
"Abandonment" might not be much better than "not finishing" yet it sound like it was more of a choice perhaps? I guess the thing is that the art in my mind can at least be portable, although my materials and canvas of late are hardly so. Peace ... or War!

Toon of Truth ~ Ward Sutton's "Spin the Democrat"

I may add a daily "Toon of Truth" to Captain Plaid, assuming I will be able to keep this thing up and running. In many of the classes I've taught, I used cartoons or images or ... as hooks to kick off a lesson. I've seen some of Ward Sutton's work before yet this one is perhaps my brand new favorite. I can imagine in right wing talk radio land they keep something like this around. Peace ... or War!

Senator Kim Benefield rolls up her sleeves!

Penny Pool of the Randolph Leader reports "Not content to wait for others, Sen. Benefield paints her office". Also noted was Kim's frustration with the lack of decorum and all the fussing that has marked the start of the Alabama Senate's "work" this year. Finally, and this is only my thinking, if she inherited Gerald "Dino" Dial's office I'd have advised her to get the space fumigated, steam cleaned, and then try the painting. Then again, after Dino's occupancy, an exorcism or some other type of ceremonial cleansing might have been a proper place to begin. Peace .. or War!

Outlander of the Day ~ Walking Wendell Mitchell

David White of the B'ham News reports "Senate panel rewrites PAC bill" in today's paper. That half-wit "Covenant for the Future" that certain leaders of the Alabama Democratic Party pushed last year was essentially foolishness and pandering yet the PAC to PAC ban was a promise that needed keeping. Of course much of the GOP's efforts on banning, or at least controlling via full disclosures, PAC to PAC transfers has been equally talk not walk. Is it third party time?

Certainly Walking Wendell wasn't the only one up on Goat Hill involved in this travesty yet he chairs the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that voted 10-0 to allow PAC money to still flow into various political party operations. After a 103-0 vote in the House to have you and yours pull this stunt gives you Outlander status that is well earned. Peace ... or War!

So banks & corporations do come first in Alabama?

Some of the Big Mules are seemingly being chafed by the 1901 Constitution. At least those portions that hinder them. The Anniston Star's editorial of today titled "Piecemeal reform not the best way: Redo all of the Constitution" gives us the most recent story of how the concentration of power in Alabama continues. Same old same old it appears up on Goat Hill. Peace ... or War!

Big Media begats Don Imus, Katie Couric ... Iraq

I've kept out of the Imus insults, the most recent ones related to the kids at Rutgers rather than ..., yet I do like the above cartoon of Mike Lane obtained via Daryl Cagle's MSNBC syndicate. I've never cared for Imus so I've mostly ignored him. However, I'm finding myself thinking of how a minor Katie Couric plagiarism scandal relates to this issue. Katie’s Couric's Notebook, generally delivered in first person, was apparently written by somebody else, that somebody being canned for borrowing the substance of writing from Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow. You'd think for their millions CBS would want her writing her own material yet that's not the subject of the post.

It's "Big Media" that's seemingly at issue here. Let's start with "Big Media Interlocks with Corporate America" by Peter Phillips from way back in 2005 on Common Dreams. Here's the money quote:
A research team at Sonoma State University has recently finished conducting a network analysis of the boards of directors of the ten big media organizations in the US. The team determined that only 118 people comprise the membership on the boards of director of the ten big media giants. This is a small enough group to fit in a moderate size university classroom. These 118 individuals in turn sit on the corporate boards of 288 national and international corporations. In fact, eight out of ten big media giants share common memberships on boards of directors with each other.
My take on Imus, Katie Couric ... Iraq is that the leadership making the decisions of Viacom, GE, Westwood One, MSNBC, CBS, Time, News Corp, etc. is following the profits. Capitalism requires this perhaps yet I'm increasingly nervous about the consequences. Additionally, my experience is that many people living the high life often lose touch with the world outside their elite surroundings. Truly if a person is living the American dream in the corporate world would they really upset the boat? Folks on down the food chain want to please those up at the top. That's reality in nearly every organization. The consequences for this occuring in mass media however go well beyond a grumpy big mouth like Don Imus saying outrageous things on our public airwaves or a cute and clever personality like Katie Couric getting a little sloppy with the script.

The Imus back-scratching seems certain. I found an old piece from 2002 titled "US Media Interests: Champions of Profit, Propaganda and Puffery" by John Stanton and Wayne Madsen that reads a little bumpy (pot calling the kettle black?) yet seems correct in many ways. Some quotes are:

A crisis without precedent is underway in the United States. And its consequences will be far graver than those wrought by the U.S. presidential election of 2000 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The collapse of the Jeffersonian "free and uncensored press" in America endangers the liberties of all Americans and, arguably, citizens from all walks of life around the globe. As the U.S. prepares to invade Iraq and preemptively strike anywhere in the world it feels threatened, the only remaining barrier to monstrous U.S. totalitarianism is a sickly and crippled U.S. media, an aggressive foreign media, and the hope that the heretofore somnambulant American public will awaken from its stupor. ...

They editorialize on issues that please advertisers and the profit margin. ...

... U.S. print and broadcast organs from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, from NBC to Fox, and from AM radio bands to FM bands, spew out a vile and banal concoction of information that numbs the mind and homogenizes the thought processes of a U.S. citizenry scurrying about to support the "war effort." So-called "news programs" seek to pacify and assure during the commute, the thunderstorm, the shopping spree, the murder. Weather, roads, guns, cars, food are all endowed by newsreaders with character as if those "things" are conscious entities. As Herbert Marcuse so adroitly pointed out, in this environment people don't "see" themselves, they project themselves into "things". Viewers are commodities to the U.S. media interests. "Thought" need not apply here. ...

So it's no surprise that U.S. media interests enthusiastically embrace all the activities that move money from one hand to another, but none that move a contrary, novel or critical idea from one mind to another. ...

... the stupefying advertisements and "news" inserts that come with viewing or listening to any broadcast programming from U.S. media interests leaves the viewer punch-drunk. The nauseating blend of politics, sound-bites, comedy, murder, "reality", "Hollywood", "news", "graphic footage" ---- intermixed with the viscous commercialism that plays on procreation, death, and productivity---put forth by owners and news readers of infotainment interests stands as one of the most mercenary acts in capitalist history. ...

Here's one portion relevant to the Iraq fiasco, and once again I'll claim opposition to this War of Choice, that seems very solid:
As U.S. military planners, politicians and corporations continue their global pacification campaign against a now trumped up Al Qeida, they have already planned for the invasion of Iraq and, perhaps, other members of the Axis of Evil. To garner public support for boundless U.S. military operations--from which new exploitable markets magically appear--the war machine has received the enthusiastic support of U.S. media interests whose task, it seems, is to keep the public busy and acquiescent. In reality, most American's are extraordinarily adverse to war, yet the U.S. media interests upon which they rely for "thought" are the integral operatives for U.S. war propaganda and concomitant public indoctrination.

I'll close with a portion of Jeff Cohen's "Cable News Confidential" provided by Greg Palast. Jeff, who will be in Huntsville, Alabama this Friday evening, wrote:
It’s says a lot about TV news that people like Phil Donahue, who correctly questioned the Iraq war, have been banished from the system. Yet I’m unaware of a single TV executive, anchor, pundit or “expert” who lost their job for getting such a huge story so totally wrong. I do know of a hawkish host on MSNBC who was taken off the air—he became the general manager of the channel.
Thank goodness for alternatives. I 'll remain a news junkie yet I surely get frustrated with what I hear and see. No coverage of the 2008 Presidential candidates issue positions but they'll cover the horse race for sure. At least we now know who the father is of Anna Nicole's daughter. What's the alternative to the dominance of "Big Media"? Studying, alternative sources, calling the media conglomerates on their BS, funding public highspeed, public media, checking foreign sources, regulations, exposure, less consumption, education, supporting public service journalism, fair elections, leadership, sharing of ideas, discourse ... Any othe solutions or at least ways to cope? Is there any hope? Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

NYC's Rudy Giuliani uses GOP script in Bama

Actually Rudy left out family values, culture of life, etc. Reckon why? However, per Bob Lowry of the Huntsville Times, he got the lines in that he could. Here's what he said:

Giuliani said the chief lesson he learned from Sept. 11 was that “Never will America be on defense against terrorists who are planning to come here and kill us.”

As president, Giuliani said he would also cut taxes and develop an energy policy less dependent on foreign oil.

As for the "less dependent on foreign oil", I guess that just means drill in ANWAR and pretty much anywhere a shaft can be sunk. Raising CAFE standards, tax incentives, investment in research, building out European/Japanese style public transportation ... be damned! We know Big Oil will be taken care of, unfortunately so, perhaps to a lesser extend should the Democratic Party keep or actually gain control, by whichever party is in power.

Rudy serves up the standard GOP response to "terrorism". Flawed as those positions are, that's what the true believers expect to hear. Once again guys, the 9-11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Those nations are hardly democracies or part of modernity but at least on paper they our allies. We invaded Afghanistan, for the most part a decision that nearly every American could accept, to go after the Taliban and al Qaeda yet Dubyah's boy, that enabling Tommy Franks, let Osama bin Laden escape at Tora Bora. He's likely in Pakistan. Many in Pakistan loathe our nation. They have nuclear capabilities. Heck of a job Georgie!

Of course we left Afghanistan, well before our work was done there. Truly that nation rebuilt properly could have been a model in a region that truly matters. Since some innocents were killed that would have been perhaps part of the balancing out. However, Bu$hCo and his handlers elected to go on a certain fool's errand in Iraq. Plenty of wise Americans knew this was coming, most mass media excepted of course, and I'll include myself in that mix. Bu$hCo and the neo-cons lied (or at least royally screwed up) the run up to the invasion and then the occupation has been an even larger disaster. Very few if any terrorists, certainly none affiliated with al Qaeda, were in Iraq before we invaded. Some are there now of course and Bu$hCo's occupation (plus torture policy!) is guaranteeing more and more extremists. The Brits, the Germans, the ... Hell, everybody does terrorism maintenance, and that's the best anyone will ever do you goobers, better than we do. Seriously, Osama and other enemies of our country couldn't have designed a more perfect disaster that that created by old Dubyah and his neo-cons.

This idea of never being on the defense against those planning is loony tunes material. What other choice do we have? Surely going after a known threat is a given but that's more likely if we have allies to help us identify and access threats. Bu$hCo has burned up so much good will that I'm figuring allies are in short supply. HUMINT Dubyah! Buying their favor is about all that is left and that's imperfect. Securing ports and borders seems wise yet that's still pretty much lacking under Bu$hCo. Militarism is seldom going to work in the long approach to fighting terrorism and this cowboy style of using our military is not only going to destroy our warriors and their families but it is creating more extremists.

That sort of brings me to the last of Rudy's script. When all else is lost there's always "tax cuts". Never before has a war been fought with the President telling everyone else to go shop and spend those tax cuts. What tax cuts? Some average American might have gotten a little less than a couple of hundred that has long been absorbed by local and state costs and fees and some even backed up. Tuition for instance really floored me. Everybody that is willing to look sees the so called tax cuts pretty much only favored the fat cats. And don't go into the Laffer Curve, supply side, voodoo economics as that dog doesn't hunt. It never did but to explain gets complicated. Trust me and if you doubt my position I'll get a post up upon your request. The taxes on work and wages, old fashioned sweat of the brow stuff, remain the same. Dividends and capital gains got their breaks. Hardly fair it would seem to this country boy. Under Bu$hCo's GOP approach those top few in the society have surely cashed in. Think, study, question ... and Rudy and the GOP's reliance on "tax cuts" is revealed as simply more garbage they are shoveling.

Finally, the above image is from Americans for Shared Sacrifice. Amen! Peace ... or War!

Outlander of the Day ~ Joe Turnham

Pictured to the left is Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham. Joe nearly won his race against Mike Rogers in 2002 which would have him in DC representing Alabama's 3rd District. I supported him in 1998 when he ran against Bob Riley for that same seat. Joe is of course the son of long time Alabama pol Pete Turnham. Pete served in Alabama's House for some forty years! I supported Joe and would perhaps support him again. However, today I'm wondering what the hell he's doing "leading" the Alabama Democratic Party.

Per Danny, here is what Joe Turnham said today that has my Scots up:

“While I respect Guiliani’s record as mayor of New York City, I am surprised that his liberal record on abortion, gun rights, and illegal immigration would find such a warm reception among Alabama Republicans. In fact, I believe all the leading Democratic candidates are more in line with Alabama values than Rudy Giuliani.”
I'll let the "I respect" mess go beyond wondering if Joe could have not run with plenty of Rudy's record there in NYC (hardly a perfect one Joe!), his business profiteering, Rudy's ties to Bernard Kerik ...? Giuliani's positions on reproductive choice, reasonable restrictions on assault weapons, and comprehensive immigration reforms are hardly where I'd attack him as even here in Alabama you'll actually get a rather broad spectrum of opinions.

Here's the problem I've got ... Why use "liberal record" and "Alabama values" in this statement and in this context? What do those phrases mean? Not only does it seem that Joe is using the frames of the right, he is more importantly also missing a chance to talk up a vision of our party that embraces Progressivism and/or Populism. I've mentioned before that the Alabama Democratic Party "leadership" seems to favor Republican Lite strategies yet Joe has had days to prepare for this opportunity. And this is the best he could do?

Why does Joe so easily fall right into the "liberal" label trap the Republicans have been laying for us for so very long? First of all, I'm a proud liberal. Here's the definition:
Liberal: adj. 1. relating to or having social and political views that favor progress and reform. 2. relating to or having policies or views advocating individual freedom. 3. giving and generous in temperament or behavior. 4. tolerant of other people. (Collins Concise English Dictionary)
Even if Joe wants to run from "liberal", and I'm not sure what the Alabama Democratic Party is about if the Chairperson does, allowing an opponent to frame what constructs mean is often fatal. We lefty types can't get past the language often and darned if we didn't do the framing for them in this case.

Somebody please buy Joe this book, this book, this book... We'll hope he'll visit Rockridge Institute and study up on Professor George Lakoff's work on framing. Surely in Alabama the biconceptualism material is an area he'll want to master. Read some Paul Krugman Joe. There are plenty more yet these will do for a start. Think of our role in the national picture for the party please. Please!

Alabama values? What are those? I don't expect Joe to talk negatively about the state and yet we've hardly been doing everything we should do here. And what of universal values like fair play, justice, education, environmentalism, affordable health care, diversity, broad prosperity, opportunity, tolerance, engagement, independence from foreign/fossil oil, open government ... ?

I can't promise that if Joe and the balance of the leadership in our party will get with the program then Progressivism/Populism will once again immediately get a foothold in Alabama. But I can promise you that continuing to head right, all the while falling for the right wing traps and frames, dooms this state party and perhaps the state as a whole. Economic Populism and Proud Progressivism is the way Joe. Peace ... or War!

Cornerstone of the Day ~ Work

Charles Baudelaire, pretty much THE French poet of the 19th century, provides our words of wisdom for the day. From what I've learned, and there's plenty more to grasp I'm sure, he was both a talented and troubled soul. He offers:
As a remedy against all ills - poverty, sickness, and melancholy, only one thing is absolutely necessary: a liking for work.
I'm not so sure about this always working however. It seems to have perhaps not always been so for Mr. Baudelaire as well. Maybe it did usually apply in simpler times? I like (love?) to work and often think I can do the work of two men. Finding somebody to pay me a reasonable wage for my work seems to be what is necessary right now. At least I've got my health. For now. Peace ... or War!

Bu$hCo's GOP - Another Lost Cause for the South?

The Anniston Star's editorial from yesterday asks "Will the South rise again?" recalling the rather recent days when Southerners controlled the government. Considering Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour, Dick Armey, Tom DeLay and Trent Lott, certainly the Republican Party had plenty of Southern orientation. Our last two Presidents have been Southerners yet the focus here is on Congressional leaders.

A portion of the editorial reads:

... By the mid-1990s Gingrich, Armey, DeLay, Lott and a host of lesser lights from south of the Mason-Dixon line seemed to be running the show.

Then it happened. They pushed too far. Bent the rules. Said things they shouldn't have said. Did things they shouldn't have done. Got the nation into things folks concluded the nation should not have gotten into. One by one they — and those like them — fell from grace.

With the Democrats now in control of Congress and the Republican president's approval ratings sinking, it's not likely that the GOP will soon exercise the power it once had.

Even if the Republicans rise, which could happen, it is not likely that the South will rise with them. The follies and foibles of Southern Republican leaders left a bad taste in the mouths of many party members outside the region. They might be willing to make Trent Lott the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, but they want someone less controversial to lead the party.

This offers a good, object lesson for Southern Republicans. As the GOP swings back to its more moderate roots, Southern Republicans need to swing with it. ...

This makes plenty of sense to me based on the numbers and trends I'm seeing. Reminds me of the Molly Ivins cure for a chicken killing dog post from a few days ago. The GOP brand is truly tarnished, and rightly so, yet Progressivism is still far from being the default position. Peace ... or War!

Monday, April 09, 2007

A call for help for Boadicea (Vicki Cosgrove)

Pictured to the left is an image of Boadicea which perhaps might make some sense later on. I know this blog gets limited traffic yet if anyone visiting can help my favorite redheaded Progressive activist out, I'd surely appreciate the favor. Vicki Cosgrove, the face of the McNerney for Congress effort from 2004 through 2006, has a tough personal and financial situation. Her husband John is facing a likely diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. John is facing some rather serious surgery and treatment to follow. Vicki has her own health troubles as well.

Either this Kos post or this MyDD post will give you more information about what the Cosgrove family is facing. Please recommend either or better yet both to increase their ranking. Vicki's personal blog on John's condition is here. The Progressive Connection has a method by which PayPal donations may be made.

Thanks for considering my request. Since Vicki is a true Peacemonger I probably should just close with Peace! Still, Vicki once told me a person she met called her "Boadicae" and explained this name was that of a tall, red haired warrior from a part of today's England that had fought against the Romans. I've always figured that fellow was a perceptive soul. Vicki is a scrapper. She's tough and brave and bold and ... Even so, a warrior like Vicki need a little help under circumstances such as these. Peace ... or War!

Cornerstone of the Day ~ Failure

Gustave Flaubert, of Madam Bovary fame, was a serious cynic. He opines, and today I completely concur, the following:
Nothing is more humiliating than to see idiots succeed in enterprises we have failed in.

Actually I am not of the opinion some of those that seem to be succeeding are idiots, well perhaps in a few cases, yet darned if I'm not beginning to wonder how some of these particular folks caught their breaks. Hardly the life I ordered and I'm trying to stay positive and bold but efforts to get back on my best path are proving so very frustrating. Peace ... or War!

Outlanders of the Day ~ Bu$hCo and the RNC

Tom Hamburger of the LA Times provides the most what appears to be the most recent coverage of the use of Republican National Committee email addresses by Bu$hCo employees. Karl Rove's activities are a focus of course, with reference to his (and Abramoff's?) former assistant Susan Ralston noted as well.

Clearly the fact that much of the recent DOJ scandal revolves around communications that occurred via these systems has broadened the inquiry. At least something is growing in America beyond casualties in Iraq and the deficit and ...

Also, please note that "some" emails are automatically purged every thirty days. Wonder which ones? I'll link to the US Code on The Presidential Records Act of 1978 yet I have not taken time to study. From everything I'm reading, it seems somebody has some 'splainin to do. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Cornerstone of the Day ~ Reading

Tip of the tam to the artist creating the work that I've used for our art. Jorge Luis Borges was an unknown yet this quote might be enough for me to investigate further:
I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. ~ Jorge Luis Borges

I'm personally hoping for a library with a garden plus a ... ? Peace ... or War!

Outlanders of the Day ~ Corporate Editorial Boards

Larisa Alexandrovna's HuffPo Why are they trying so hard to distract us? post from today says it better than I could ever hope to. I'm lucky to have the ability and desire to study up and seek so as to not just take what I'm told as the complete story. I also know that many Americans are either too busy, thick, lazy ... to go that extra distance. With that type of audience, perhaps the corporate media figures they can get away with their foolishness. I'll first give you Larisa's intro and then her close.

The national media continues to self destruct under the weight of its politically purchased editorial pages. Not content to simply slink away quietly after leading the nation into a disastrous war of choice through negligent and even highly corrupt reporting practices, the editorial boards of all of the major newspapers - still apparently strapped collectively into a mission accomplished payola flight suit - continue to play political attack dog for their paymasters.

After all, what is a little feigned concern for national security, a little faux patriotism between friends and corporate shills? ...

... Why are they trying so hard to distract us? Because they have already lied. Lies require more lies and more lies require myths and trumped up scandals. Would honest people ever spend this much time on distractions?

I think that with the exception of a few real journalists and honest columnists in the MSM, the American media-industrial-political complex is a discredited, decadent, ugly thing to behold and, sadly for us, a real danger to democracy. They are a collective Faust, selling their very souls for access, power, money and anything that relates to those three commodities so important to the morally vacuous. They sell their souls, we pay the price, and they make a profit.

I'm sure some clever soul deserves credit for the image. I think I first saw it on FireDogLake yet where I located this evening no attribution was present. Hardly the corporate media, perhaps my use will be forgiven. Certainly, using it in the good fight makes me feel a little less crummy by posting. Peace ... or War!

So can George W. Bush still stand himself?

I'm figuring he remains perfectly comfortable, yet expect it is more about innate arrogance and being surrounded by enablers. Maybe if there's really any "faith" then the idea of being persecuted appeals to Dubyah? I can't wait for the histories to be written yet want 2009 to get here with the least amount of damage possible. Let he and his limp along and we'll figure out just how flawed this administration was later on when he's back in Crawford.

The reason I ask is from my visiting this old Molly Ivins piece where she describes a Texas solution for curing a chicken killing dog. She suggested just wire a dead chicken to the dog and let it rot to the point where "the dog won't be able to stand himself." The late great Molly was talking to Progressives in mourning (I'm still there!) over the 2004 election telling us ...
The Bush administration is going to be wired around the neck of the American people for four more years, long enough for the stench to sicken everybody. It should cure the country of electing Republicans.

Molly's soothing rant was worked off of by Bob Davis in my local Anniston Star (even if he went with the more family rated wire the dead chicken to the cage version) where he rolled off an impressive list of Bu$hCo/GOP rotting chickens in his "The smell of scandals". There's however a caveat to thinking that future voters can really smell the rotting chickens in his close where he writes:
And let's not forget a virtual war on the press corps and the public's right to know, as more and more of what was once done in the open has been pulled behind a curtain and truth-tellers are demonized and hounded by prosecutors.

I have been ready for some oversight and still hope for some of the "journalist" cocktail set to grow a set or at least get the hell out of the way to allow some of the serious reporters to do their jobs. Great column and a reminder of how lucky I feel to have this paper as "my" local paper. I was not aware that Bob Davis worked with Molly Ivins. What a honor. Peace ... or War!

It's Sunday so 60 Grit & ... Get Spin Card Punched

Tip of the Tam to Maria at 2 Political Junkies for the image. I've noted previously that Kate's hubby James is part of the Loyalty Department but Kate is surely often punched for her work at the Spin Club. Of course, if it's Sunday morning it's conservative. Peace ... or War!

Kerik Homeland Security Appointment Botched

I noted Rudy G's reliance on his "gut" yesterday but darned if Bernard Kerik's nomination doesn't seem to confirm that Dubyah and Rudy both suffer from that affliction. With a little help from his friends, like Abu Gonzales and BFF Harriet Miers for instance, "the Decider" just keep churning out those hits.

John Solomon and Peter Baker, via WaPo/MSNBC , serve up "White House looked past alarms on Kerik : Giuliani, Gonzales pushed Department of Homeland Security bid forward". A portion follows:

... He joined Giuliani's 1993 campaign as his driver and was later given top appointments, including corrections commissioner and eventually police commissioner. After office, Giuliani and Kerik became partners in a security consulting firm.

So when Giuliani telephoned Bush to recommend that he make Kerik his second-term homeland security secretary, the president jumped at the idea. The sheen of a 9/11 hero seemed to be just what was needed to take on a troubled new department struggling to integrate 22 agencies and 180,000 employees to protect the nation's ports, borders and airports; enforce immigration and customs laws; and respond to major disasters. Only a few aides, including then-Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and senior adviser Karl Rove, were clued in to the president's decision.

As with every nominee, Kerik was given detailed financial disclosure and personal history questionnaires to fill out, all intended to unearth anything that might prove embarrassing in a confirmation hearing. Giuliani's firm assisted in filling out the forms, according to a source familiar with the situation, and the papers are now an issue in the federal criminal investigation. Kerik, his attorney and Giuliani Partners spokeswoman Sunny Mindel declined to comment.

Presidential nominees typically go through a full-fledged FBI background investigation before their appointments are announced. But because it is hard to keep Cabinet selections secret for so long, they are vetted only by the White House counsel's office before being made public. The FBI then conducts its full probe before Senate confirmation hearings begin.

The long nightmare of Bu$hCo is still far from over yet to think we'd have another version of Dubyah, even if he's surely sharper, in The White House makes it all the worse. With St. John stumbling perhaps some Bu$h backers will be shifting toward Rudy. Here's hoping the American public and media will take a strong look at Rudy. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Monica's "Goodling Friday" isn't end of DOJ story

Tip of the tam to John Holbo at Crooked Timber for examining "Goodling Friday" and creating the above image. Monica Goodling leaving DOJ will I hope not prevent further efforts to haul her before Congress. Giving her immunity might be one option yet I'd wait until they get Abu and some of the others on the record before even considering. Peace ... or War!

Will US voters switch from Dubyah to Rudy?

Listening to the GOP "moderates" like Rudy Giuliani rolled out by the RNC at the 2004 convention was frustrating and yet "America's Mayor" is seemingly getting some payback. I'm still doubting he'll make the cut, mostly since many social conservatives might just stay home if he gets the nomination, yet if he does it will be due to the belief that he's tough, experienced, smart, etc. However, this Greg Sargent post shares a recent example of why that's hardly accurate. I know faith in the American public is dangerous yet surely they'll not elect a rather grumpy man lacking pretty much any foreign policy experience that frequently operates from his gut feelings. Will they? Peace ... or War!

Outlanders of the Day ~ Michael Gordon, WaPo ...

The motives and messages do seem to all too often vary according to the reporter or paper. I expect no better from the obviously bent yet the Gray Lady and WaPo should be a cut above shouldn't they? Am I in "tin foil hat" territory here? Duncan's post has me in that place again today. When I heard of the recent discovery of a Explosive Formed Projectiles cache, actually a factory if I understand things correctly, in IRAQ, I immediately thought back to Michael Gordon, or more accurately the NYT piece he wrote back in February, where he conveyed the Bu$hCo line that the only source of EFPs could be IRAN. The screen capture shows the initial WaPo reporting with the EFP factory reference and yet that's gone now. Reckon why? Background on Michael Gordon follows via the link. More to come perhaps yet I'm thinking somebody has some 'splainin to do. Peace ... or War!

Cornerstone of the Day ~ Patriotism

Trying something new, at least for a while, I'll share a daily quote. They'll often be from two Progressive Farmer Cornerstones collections that date back to the early 90s. Looks like there are two more since I first obtained. Even when not I'll label as "Cornerstone" in that it relates to building, even if mostly symbolic. I find building rock walls, almost always just dry stacked, is one of my most rewarding activities. The craft, not to mention the physics, of making a good foundation that will hold might apply. Words of wisdom do that for our lives I suppose.

Progressive Farmer provides this one, from George Santayana, that follows
A man's feet should be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.
I suppose I'll ponder on this one, plus several other constructs, as I debate tackling some disturbing posts I stumbled across. These posts are on a blog that is apparently based in Madison, Alabama. I'd read the term before yet to see "dhimmicrat" thrown around so much forced me to use The Google. Some very harsh views and yet I'm not sure if I'd want to question the thinking of anyone that posts as "Sniper One" on "7.62mm Justice". Peace ... or War

Friday, April 06, 2007

Outlanders of the Day ~ The Alabama Senate

Bob Lowery of the Huntsville Times gives us a solid examination of the Alabama Senate's partisan feuding" yet WSFA's Helen Hammons' "As the Alabama Senate Stops" Show Continues or 'Groundhog Day' Returns" is especially entertaining. Read it and weep.

The "playful banter" needs to stop and the work needs to begin. Quit pouting and do the job!

Also, not everybody in the Senate ought to be labeled an Outlander. Some are ready and willing to work. I expect if some new blood was in charge there would be some progress. Finally, there aren't that many "Democrats" down in Montgomery and I'm thinking those few aren't the problem. Those Alabama Democrats that are part of holding things up seem to be those that most often practice Republican Lite.

Both factions have some blame here yet this foolishness is only hurting our state. Peace ... or War!

NPR's The Forgotten War on Drugs

The above image is certainly applicable around my neck of the woods yet perhaps is partly true all over the nation. In my "dry" county the law will often cuff you and stuff you for a VPL (Violation of Prohibition Law) so you can imagine what they do to folks with drugs. Chasing folks cooking meth takes time and yet investigating the crimes they commit in servicing their habits take time as well. We've got the good, bad, and ugly here in our legal and judicial system yet our system as a whole seems poor to fair at best. I'll likely always believe we waste many resources, financial and human, in the failed "War of Drugs". I've seen draconian punishments that were outrageous.

NPR has a new series that I've yet to wade through yet I'll put up since it looks very solid. I am also linking to an older Salon effort and expressly to this portion referencing the Contra Costa Courthouse near where I worked this past fall. California's Proposition 36, where first time offenders are sent to rehab and supervision, is examined. Hardly perfect yet better than more harsh approaches. Even in that system profiteering is present.

I'm in favor of fully legalizing marijuana and think liberalization of our drug policy makes sense as well. Not going to get off into a policy rant here yet hope people find the series useful. Peace ... or War!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Outlander of the Day ~ Dr. Francis Fukuyama

Part of the Project for a New American Century and other neo-conservative outfits for some years, Professor Fukuyama is, as we we might say down here in Alabama, crawfishing . Marcy long ago noted this effort plus I ran across a recent writing by Dr. Fukuyama in the Guardian that seems to confirm. I don't blame you for trying but it is simply too late. Used perhaps but when you lied (is the grammar correct or appropriate either way?) down with the dogs ...

We'll see how Zalmay Khalilzad manages to explain his PNAC fleas soon I suppose. Of course he's got lots of explaining to do I'd think. Peace ... or War!

The Care and Feeding of Smelly Bloggers!

Beccah Golubock Watson of The Nation examines the reality that for most Progressive bloggers their work, which is at times genuine service, is a labor of love. On the right, wingnut welfare often seems rather abundant. Peace ... or War!

Dr. Bob Terry Laments Lack of Faith in France

Dr. Bob Terry appears in today's Alabama Baptist with "Thoughts: A Religious Heritage Is Not Enough" where he offers up an opinion that the cheese eating surrender monkeys in France, for the record neither his description or mine beyond an effort to be clever, need to get them some Old Time Religion. Thanks to my time in the Bohannon Death March through Early Modern Europe I immediately thought of reasons why Pierre might be a little nervous about faith.

The above image is an effort to describe the St. Bartholomew's Massacre on August 24, 1572. I'll not bother with links as a person can use the Google if they are interested. The Wars of Religion, Thirty Years War, ... were mostly about various groups using the faithful to get or maintain power (damned if that doesn't resonate!) so maybe the French simply wised up. I'm thinking they don't need a fundamentalist from Alabama scolding them. Many Europeans, and apparently a good number of Republicans, simply think you true believers are nuts.

As an aside, Baby Plaid is being baptized this Easter weekend. I'll not attend, as at that church as I'd find not just one but two ex-wives, yet I'll be thinking of him, mostly as relates to the symbolism of the ritual. I've talked to him some about his faith and yet one day I figure we'll be able to share our respective thoughts more completely. I'll hope to not make the mistakes of claiming the truth, or even worse not engaging his ideas, as I'd argue most of my family has often done. I also hope he and I can visit France and the balance of Europe one day. Ought to make for some good conversations.

Vivre et laisser vivre. Paix ... ou Guerre!

Alabama's High End Beer Bill Is Still Alive!

Since my family members nearly stroke out when I scold Bu$hCo and other right wing "thinking" in the form of Letters to the Editor (or merely explaining to my "home church" why I'll no longer attend) I expect I'll need to pass on dropping anything in my local paper about the devil's drink. Posting, where folks have to come looking and there is some measure of anonymity, is another matter. Thanks to a little more digging, I now realize HB 195, the Gourmet Beer Bill, is still alive. Over in the Senate, SB 128 is also pending. Here's hoping we can get merely a reasonable examination of the legislation. After Richard Laird and DuWayne Bridges behaved so stupidly, we've got a good shot at shall we say the more sophisticated set.

My Representative Richard Laird has shown his ignorance so I'll not waste a call. I'll be calling or mailing Senator Benefield however. If you are here in Alabama, all five of you that visit, if you can take time to call your folks on Goat Hill, I'd surely appreciate. However, if you've only got one call in you then please burn it on Constitutional Reform. "Save the Ales!" gets trumped by saving the state. I'll argue protecting our kids requires a new constitution Representative Laird. You and I both know you're more about protecting the Big Mules. Banks, ALFA, Alabama Power ... have you nailed down where it counts so they'll let you get all Christianist on matters like this trivia. Talk about morality when you support immediate and total reform of the 1901 Constitution Sir!

When Alabama's own ABC stores sells everything from grain alcohol to Mad Dog 20/20, plus even has an Official State Spirit (the wonderful Conecuh Ridge brand that I personally can vouch for), there's simply no reason for not voting for this legislation. The only reason would be perhaps fearing the Bible thumpers but there's hope there even. Even a hardshell Baptist will agree high end beer ought to be available for legal purchase by adults once they learn the facts.

Free the Hops Alabama. Peace ... or War!

Washington Post Shills for Bu$hCo/Neo-Cons

Tweety's "it's a neo-con newspaper now" rings especially true today after reading the WaPo Pratfall in Damascus : Nancy Pelosi's foolish shuttle diplomacy editorial. The Boston Globe's take on Speaker Pelosi's work was different and other papers have hardly shilled the GOP and neo-con talking points once they bothered looking at the facts. Simply to bother Bu$hCo believers I'll link across the pond to the cheese eating surrender monkeys. Then again finding a NYT piece in The San Francisco Chronicle might be even more bothersome. Has the WaPo's editorial board become the equivalent to Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network? Peace ... or War!

UPDATE - If you want a solid understanding of the situation then Professor Juan Cole is certainly where I'd suggest a person start. Reckon the WaPo can't find him on the intertubes? Use the Google guys!

"Blame Game" on Educational Software Limitations

The WaPo's Amit R. Paley turns up on MSNBC with "Software's benefits on tests in doubt : Study says tools don't raise scores" that is worth visiting. I'd first point out that scores on many standardized measurements are hardly the whole picture on "learning". As an aside, Baby Plaid is in fact taking his battery of standardized tests this week but he'll do fine. Besides, he is such a neat kid that he sort of enjoys the damned thing. On the software piece, I found the finger pointing especially entertaining.

The article beings with

Educational software, a $2 billion-a-year industry that has become the darling of school systems across the country, has no significant impact on student performance, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education.

The long-awaited report amounts to a rebuke of educational technology, a business whose growth has been spurred by schools desperate for ways to meet the testing mandates of President Bush's No Child Left Behind law.

My most recent missive on NCLB asked Teddy Kennedy if he had a drinking problem and had links to various other rants. I've long felt like the whole accountability movement had simply gone way beyond what was reasonable as test scores of what little can be measured, via bubbling in a stinking scantron, is hardly indicative of true learning. While certainly it is difficult to cut the NCLB profiteers and Bu$hCo's DOE any slack, especially with all the finger pointing that is going on in the blame game, I'll offer a possible explanation.

It's the kids fault! Blame the little monsters, the twittering tweens, and the angst-filled adolescents. Even the most dedicated educator goes through spells where they do it. However, before you go there full out I'd suggest the proper place to look might be our society as a whole, the parents, and certainly the politicians. I'm willing to give the children a break usually and once I consider what we are asking of them in the current arrangement it is even more easily done.

Our society is just full of much garbage. We seldom if ever celebrate learning much less hard work. We're a fast food nation that is lacking in substance in so many ways. Our celebrity and sports obsessed world has now even gotten to the point where reality is a genre of entertainment. Kids are lazy. Reckon why? They can't think. Surprised? They won't behave. Like our pop tarts do? They can quote rap lyrics but not much else. What's up with that bitches? I could go on and on but I'll just stop.

I've had to work with some teens (plus parents or caregivers) that were simply asses. I know nearly every kid that was a real pain got at least some sympathy after meeting the parent(s). More than once I said, "Ya know ___ is doing OK all things considered." Some families have been truly pitiful in their ignorance. Generational poverty on steroids. Some just didn't have the skills and/or smarts to make things work. They'd try some yet struggled with the work over time. A few kids, often now with grandma, had past experiences that had gotten them in a real bind so they found it difficult to catch up. Lots of kids were in situations where alcohol and drugs were a problem. Many were in homes where the parent(s) worked around the clock to keep up in today's GOP economy. Some were lazy. Others were too cool for school. Raging hormones. Over stimulated from the cradle yet now sitting in a desk in a concrete block room was hard for many. Reading for content learning was tough for plenty of kids. Now I'll stop. I really mean it this time.

But here's the bottom line ... what goes on at home, and this includes a blend of economics and culture and attitudes and ..., is the main influence on what goes on at school. Some research suggests "home" might be over 80% of what will result in "learning". Welcome to the jungle educational software providers. At least y'all aren't treated like teachers. Yet?

Truly we're at the point where the politicians and profiteers are running our schools. "Learning" is struggling on despite NCLB and the accountability movement. Yet, studies like what we've learned about today show the reality. What are we going to do about it? I'll continue to raise hell about today's bizarre flawed educational policy. Molly Ivins taught me that. As far as society, I'll just do the best I can for me and mine. That brings me to another idea for a post yet I'll want to stew on it for a few days. Stay tuned. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

President Pelosi and an end to "Cowboy Diplomacy"? Would that it were!

In deciding on a title for this post I recalled John Kerry's "Would that it were." moment on The Daily Show and simply shuddered. I believe that was the first time I got a little shaky on his chances. Before long the GOP had him windsurfing and ... I'll always wonder about the what if and if only but these times they are a changing.

Matt Stoller nails an analysis on Nancy Pelosi's recent work in the Middle East with

... Pelosi is acting as a real Secretary of State or President would in foreign affairs. She is negotiating and representing an America that offers itself as a trusted partner for peace and collective security.

Much of what America did in international affairs prior to the Bush Presidency was to act as sort of buoy, or a neutral third party in negotiations, a bulwark that other nations could broadly trust. America didn't always keep its word, and it wasn't always a perfectly done role, but there really was no alternative. And I think what the Iraq war has shown is that the alternative really is total chaos, and that means that America can reclaim a leading role in global affairs if we begin to rebuild our credibility. ...

If there's a way forward it will be with our nation showing real leadership, although unfortunately that might let Dubyah fade away rather than make he and his answer for their crimes. Might be worth it yet I hope we, and that means the Big Mules and various right wing nut jobs that brought us this disaster of a Presidency, have learned our lesson. We, and that's without my vote for the record, sent a boy and his Mayberry Machiavellis to do a job that has proven simply more than they could or would accomplish. Peace .. or War!