Monday, June 30, 2008

Michael Ciamarra's "thinking" on higher education

Michael Ciamarra gets space in today's Montgomery Advertiser for ALABAMA VOICES: Keeping college affordable and actually makes some sense. However, his radicalism seeps out. I've posted on this Alabama Policy Institute VP before. Note his role as Alabama's Chair for Newt's American Solutions. Yet is Michael suggesting he's on the outside with his lament that legislative activities "somehow escape the notice of the pundits" as he examines efforts to provide tuition assistance for Alabama college students?

Michael is correct to lament the dreadful costs of higher education yet tax cuts for the elites and trashing of the middle class do have consequences Sir. The Bu$hCo reductions in student aid options has occurred as tuition has risen.

Indeed it is great to get a degree and yet over the last few years real income for people with college degrees has dropped. And is higher education about creating workers or thinkers? I've asked this before when Alabama's own Dr. Gregory Fitch of ACHE seemed to suggest it was all about preparing future workers.

Michael cites "educator" Margaret Spellings efforts and I presume he's shilling for her corporate loaded commission that recently called for "a nationwide system for comparative performance purposes, using standard formats." Once again, how can standardized testing measure anything without a national curriculum? What should students know? Is this the measure of true learning? Reckon there might be some profit opportunities here for the big education companies? I've mentioned how dreadful a job these testing providers often do with the blessed data and how they still rake in the money.

Terrible tenure receives an obligatory bashing. Newt never could get tenured so obviously the concept is for the incompetent and unproductive.

I could moan and groan on and on about the state of education policy, and pretty much everything else, yet strongly believe the conservatives have had their decades of rather strong dominance in the arena, media, think tanks, ... John Gunn

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mobile Press-Register~ Just let the lawyers decide

I found The Failure of Corporate Law: Fundamental Flaws and Progressive Possibilities by Kent Greenfield thanks to the Mobile Press-Register. It might be a touch off topic for my interest yet when I read its description, which I'll share below, I thought it relevant. On June 24, 2008, the MP-R opined Alabama needs to flee 'tort purgatory' where I'll admit they got it right to suggest our method for electing judges is flawed. I've mentioned the Missouri Plan long ago and continue to think it wise policy.

The MP-R didn't send me to the book I referenced but rather transmitted the positions of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, their Institute for Legal Reform, and corporate defense counsel to their readers. In that I'd read this New York Times piece just a few days before I was under the impression big business was pretty much winning the "tort war".

The MP-R's logic in their concern follows ... "The short answer is that they [corporate counsel] can influence some of the key decisions of the businesses they represent, such as where those companies locate or choose to do business." Wouldn't the vast majority of the concerns of those about to set up shop in Alabama relate to workmen's compensation laws and thus completely distinct from "tort" troubles? And aren't we doing OK attracting some rather high end companies? As for choosing to do business, as far as goods in the stream of commerce, I'd suggest we hardly have a limited amount of choices for consumers. And if we didn't, isn't that according to the market MP-R? Don't you guys think the markets solve everything? So you want the markets to apply to public education but not to business?

The MP-R also opines
The state hasn't gone far enough in limiting punitive and non-economic damages. This isn't just an abstract observation based on the opinions of corporate lawyers. It's backed up by actual cases such as the wrongful death suit in Baldwin County that produced a staggering $50 million jury award last year.
Aren't all wrongful death cases about punitives in Alabama? That might be relevant to share to the readers I'd think. Since Dale Krantz lived for five days with severe burns over 90% of his body after a faulty water heater blew up and since his wife and kids were due something then I guess compensatory damages kicked in. Maybe they were moved by the nature of his injury and his family experiencing the tragedy? Perhaps the jury was frustrated or insulted by a defense that argues it was a gas leak that caused the harm and even if they thought it was the water heater then a million was all this husband and father was worth? If two other defendants settled for one million each, presumably their insurance limits, that might suggest this was a solid case.

I also note no mention was made of a verdict in Mobile later in 2007. That case involved businesses (Halliburton being one of the companies popped!) suing each other and was surely worthy of twice that of what the Krantz jury rendered. After all, this first case involved merely a human life. And the right in Alabama is all about a "culture of life" isn't it? Finally, I'd be willing to bet those business tort numbers eventually make into Chamber/IfLR propaganda!

Back to the book ... Here's a "product description":
When used in conjunction with corporations, the term “public” is misleading. Anyone can purchase shares of stock, but public corporations themselves are uninhibited by a sense of societal obligation or strict public oversight. In fact, managers of most large firms are prohibited by law from taking into account the interests of the public in decision making, if doing so hurts shareholders. But this has not always been the case, as until the beginning of the twentieth century, public corporations were deemed to have important civic responsibilities.

With The Failure of Corporate Law, Kent Greenfield hopes to return corporate law to a system in which the public has a greater say in how firms are governed. Greenfield maintains that the laws controlling firms should be much more protective of the public interest and of the corporation’s various stakeholders, such as employees. Only when the law of corporations is evaluated as a branch of public law—as with constitutional law or environmental law—will it be clear what types of changes can be made in corporate governance to improve the common good. Greenfield proposes changes in corporate governance that would enable corporations to meet the progressive goal of creating wealth for society as a whole rather than merely for shareholders and executives
The MP-R thinks corporate lawyers ought to influence how we structure our systems of justice in rather broad ways. It's shocking how radical an idea this is and yet they are willing to serve up with no shame. I, and hopefully others, cringe when I hear "corporate". Perhaps this is from reading and learning. I can also get a plug in for The Corporation here as well.

Finally, I find it interesting that the MP-R is so reliant on "corporate counsel" as I guarantee we'll soon have attacks from the right on the Democratic nominee for his lawyering. They've done it for pretty much every candidate in my memory as I think all but Jimmy Carter and Al Gore have been lawyers. Michelle Obama's ties to the corporate world as their "corporate counsel" will be noted in the most negative ways. "Those smarty pants lawyers ought not to be telling us how to ... "

The MP-R falls hook, line, and sinker for a clearly biased, methodologically flawed "study" from the Chamber of Commerce. John Gunn

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Some stenography for anti-teacher union group

AP/MSNBC delivers Superintendent: Bad teachers hard to fire - Some say teacher tenure rules need to be overhauled to address problem yet I can't imagine for whom. In the piece The Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability is mentioned and I'll send you to how they describe their effort. Also covered is The Center for Union Facts and I'll send you to how they describe their work.

As for the Foundation they've been given Bradley money and there is a Heartland Institute connection to boot. Dig a little deeper and it seems clear these jokers are on the wingnut welfare. If you've got money you can do pretty much anything in America can't you? The Nation has called the CUF The Center for Selective Facts. Source Watch describes them as part of a larger set of front groups.

I'll admit that I've seen some dreadful teachers and yet most were more about getting along with the administration and then doing little for the students. I'll stack the evil done via Bu$hCo's NCLB and other "accountability" or "reform" via vouchers and the like against the teacher's unions any day of the week. I can accept that educators reaching "tenure" might still need to be put out to pasture. I can also imagine a world where patronage determines who gets and keep a job. In rural Alabama and Georgia I ask my thirty to sixty readers to imagine the need to please those in the central office.

AP/MSNBC could have surely covered the issue without the stenography or at least with some background on the groups that fed them this propaganda. Then again, that might have required some journalism. And that is increasingly in short supply. John Gunn

Troy King shows how easy it is to be a dick

Alabama Attorney General Troy King is often a dick. Does he have an easy button? Prince Troy was Captain Bama's very first Outlander of the Day over two years ago. Still, I know that in Alabama his dickness might actually get him votes. So ... I was pleased to see the B'ham News opine It's easy to demagogue the U.S. Supreme Court barring the death penalty for child rapists - and Alabama Attorney General Troy King wasted no time. It's easy when you're Prince Troy! John Gunn

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another of Bu$hCo DOJ's God Squad violates law

First there was Monica Goodling. After reading Ideology-Based Hiring at Justice Broke Laws, Investigation Finds from the WaPo's Carrie Johnson it would seem that we now have Esther Slater McDonald. Pensacola Christian College is where she earned her undergraduate degree. TBogg examines “Optical intercourse”, the same apparently being an expulsion offense down at PCC.

I posted Willingly Ignorant Regent Law/GOP Defenders? after looking further into Monica Goodling's career at DOJ. In that post I looked Pat Robertson's Regent Law, where Ms. Goodling was "educated", and noted his very own "a regent is one who represents Christ, our Sovereign, in whatever sphere of life he or she may be called to serve Him." Reckon Ms. McDonald thought she was doing her part for Him? Or Him? Perhaps both?

Micheal Elston was apparently up to his eyeballs as well in the various DOJ scandals yet it appears he's landed on his feet. Many on the right do their dirty deeds and then move on to bigger and better it seems. As for this latest, "just grand political theater" you say President Bu$h? John Gunn

Is Bama's Artur Davis just "another political tool"?

The Birmingham Weekly's Courtney Haden serves up The weak in review: Artur Davis disses the Fourth Amendment where she rightly skewers Representative Davis for rolling over for Bu$hCo and Big Teleco on the FISA legislation. Then again, Jerry McNerney, a man I worked 7o to 80 hours a week for in the fall of 2006, voted wrong as well. However, Jerry was in another hard fight in a GOP-leaning District while Rep. Davis was coasting in his election. Maybe he's looking forward to Alabama's 2010 election of her Governor?

The Black Commentator has been examining the rise of Artur Davis for several years. He's a DLC "New Democrat" and you should always follow the money before assuming that set is operating under Progressive ideals. Seldom are they so bother not with assumption.

A proud centrist weenie, long before he rose to a leadership position, Rep. Davis is usually trying for Republican Lite. It would appear that Barack Obama is going down that route with his own failures on FISA. Here's what Senator Obama said early in the year and here's what he did this week. Adding in his pandering on the Supremes striking down Louisiana's law allowing the death penalty for the rape of a child and I'm disgusted with his candidacy right now.

Perhaps Representative Davis and Senator Obama will be able to recover? Today's lecturing of David Addington, Cheney's new Chief of Staff replacing Scotter Libby, and John Yoo, a former Justice Department official now toiling away in academia, rather than wasting time on questions toward these two radicals was a start for Artur Davis. I'll need much more however. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Evening of June 26, 2008 - Digby and Glenn Grenwald examine the myth of "Getting Things Done" under the the "Village fetish for bipartisanship".

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Richard Viguerie has my email address

I've posted on the "funding father" of Conservatism before yet to have an unsolicited email from him in today's junk mail was enough to merit another mention. In a special message to conservatives, which I'm hardly, Richard sent me $4.00 Gas is a Teaching Moment for Conservatives: America’s energy problems have been brought to us courtesy of the environmental movement and their political allies –liberal Democrats and timid or complacent Republicans. I missed the Democratic "proposals for socialization of the oil industry" Richard. Follow that link and you'll find Liberalism has caused our energy crisis: Free markets are the solution. To answer this rant would take far too long for me this evening, and I'm beat, so I'll merely close with a claim that this effort will rank high in the history of wing-nuttery. For me and other thinking people to dispareage him so harshly likely bothers him not. Like Liberace, he's long been crying all the way to the bank. John Gunn

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Emory Professor Drew Westen's The Political Brain

Dr. Drew Westen's The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation is a must read. Democratic leaders and strategists ought to study it closely yet I'd submit good Progressives need to as well. A good preview of his book comes from Winning Hearts and Minds: Why Rational Appeals Are Irrational If Your Goal is Winning Elections, a HuffPo piece he put up back in the middle of 2007. A Professor of Psychology at Emory, he also has a consulting effort going up there in Atlanta. John Gunn

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bama GOP thinks we need more convicted leaders

Dan at Daily Dixie tells us that today's "Good Morning Democrats" from the Alabama GOP contained language stating, "We need convicted leaders in Congress, not Pelosi pawns whose ..." Although I've certainly been at the mercy of early mornings, I do see an opening here.

The Alabama Democratic Party ought to remind Alabama voters of Ohio Representative Bob Ney, California Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham, and Idaho Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig as merely an opening salvo.

I'll give them Louisiana's William Jefferson and his various relatives yet only if they let me have Tom "The Hammer" DeLay's charges. Indeed various Democrats here in Alabama like E.B. McClain aren't without fault as well. Still, they are hardly leaders like "Hot Tub" Tom has been, and perhaps remains with claims that Obama is a Marxist, to the GOP.

In the House, California's Jerry Lewis is under investigation as is Alaska's Don Young, Arizona's Rick Renzi, and Florida's Tom Feeney. In the Senate, Alaska's Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski face inquiries. New Mexico's Senator Pete Domenici isn't running for office again after revelations that he made improper phone calls to a U.S. Attorney. Then again, our own Richard Shelby once leaked classified information.

Who can forget Florida Representative Mark Foley. Thanks for 2006 Mark!

John Albaugh, Chief of Staff to former Oklahoma Representative Ernest Istook and now a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, just entered a guilty plea. That Istook "basically asked what we want in the Transportation Bill" might not bode well for his future. "Murky process of appropriations" would seem to be an area of his expertise.

Don't leave off Scooter Libby, Claude Allen, Alabama's own Lester Crawford, J. Steven Griles, David Safavian ... working in or closely with Bu$hCo's White House. Bernard Kerik would have been there yet that appointment was pulled. There's Black Jack Abramoff as well, with his Alabama efforts being relevant perhaps. Homeland Security's Brian Doyle can't be left off. Neither should Kyle "Dusty" Foggo be forgotten.

Don't omit phone jammer Allen Raymond and others involved in the 2002 New Hampshire scandal. Those many phone calls on Election Day from New Hampshire to the White House remain rather intriguing. That Bu$hCo's DOJ delayed an investigation until after the 2004 election is likewise fascinating.

Monica Goodling remains under investigation the last I knew for the partisan firings of various U.S. Attorneys.

The CIA's Jose Rodriguez was being looked at for destroying torture tapes that would damage the Bu$h White House.

There's former Illinois governor George Ryan as well. Bu$h Pioneer fundraiser Thomas Noe merits mention also.

When the dust settles I'd suggest the years of Bu$hCo will easily outpace the corruption of Grant's administration yet this goes well beyond the White House. The cronyism and outright corruption that we know of in the modern GOP is certain. Once the clock runs out on Bu$hCo the secrets will really start flowing. Is this really a conversation the GOP wants to have? With this opening, I'd surely make them. John Gunn

A new Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life report

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has released a brand new U.S. Religious Landscape Survey that has some interesting data to drill down into. Matthai Kuruvila of The San Francisco Chronicle shared thoughts of Professor D. Michael Lindsay, a sociologist and religion demographer at Rice University, suggesting, "Religion in America is 3,000 miles wide, but it's only 3 inches deep. ... The issue is not that Americans don't believe in anything. It's that they believe in practically everything. It's possible for Americans to hold together contradictory beliefs at the same time." So should we be excited about tolerance or concerned about ignorance? That I'm in the 8% camp naturally pleases this contrarian. John Gunn

Opportunity in the swift boating of Barack Obama

I love this image from the GOP's 2004 convention and figure it will work as good as any for news that David Freddoso, with his a National Review Online and Human Events pedigree, Regnery Publishing, and Creative Response Concepts are teaming up for a negative book on Senator Obama. FDL's Blue Texan is right to scold Politico's Jonathan Martin for not adding "that a) the Swift Boat Liars are liars; b) that McSame called them liars; and that c) everyone but people like Jonathan Martin knows they're liars." Still, there's opportunity here.

Kate Zernike's Saturday NYT's reporting Still Fighting the ‘Swift Boat’ Battle is timely. I'd posted on the T. Boone Pickens vs. John Kerry back in the fall of 2007. Ms. Zernike wrote,

... Extensive media accounts undermined the Swift Boat charges in 2004, pointing out that some of the Swift Boat critics had written statements during Vietnam lauding Mr. Kerry for extraordinary bravery in the incidents they later said he made up. (One accuser in particular had become upset by his portrayal in a Kerry biography in 2004.) One critic had himself received a medal for heroism during a hail of gunfire he later claimed Mr. Kerry had concocted to win his third purple heart.

But that did not blunt the political impact. ...

Amen! One can only hope that the Obama campaign is ready to attack this book at its Regnery roots. To nip, nip, nip it in the bud I'd like to see them go after the right wing's message machine yet I might be hoping for far too much. Forget John McSame Blue Texan as the Obama campaign has a great chance to use this development to their advantage. Reminding the electorate of how fear and lies were a staple of the 2004 campaign can only help the Democratic nominee. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Afternoon of June 23, 2008 - This old 2006 post referencing Eight Easy Steps for Conservative Authors later came to mind.

The American Petroleum Institute's ad blitz

As a news junkie I often see the same commercials over and over. I've been noting API's ads for some time and had even been pondering a response. There's no need however as Kurt Cobb has at least tackled one theme of API's Energy Tomorrow effort. I found Mr. Cobb via Common Dreams yet his own blog "Resource Insights" is here. His Clever and Deceptive: The Oil Lobby’s New Ads makes sense to me. I note API is pushing back against "The 'Idle' Oil Field Fallacy".

As I've done this post I've seen an Exxon ad that was slick. Liz Cheney is now on MSNBC defending Dad's closed door energy policy. No mention was made of Big Oil being at the table. Andrea Mitchell (Mrs. Alan Greenspan) let her do a Tim Russert remembrance and then she claimed the White House policy was never a secret. Liz said you can go to the White House website and see the policy so how can it be a secret. She claims the Cheney task force started with conservation. I recall conservation being a personal virtue to Dead Eye Dick. In fact, number one through three of the four involved drilling or using oil shales.

I couldn't help but think of the film The Corporation while reading on this latest example of corporate propaganda. I would have sworn that I'd posted on the documentary yet can't find it if I did. Another project ...

The image above was located via Jim Hightower. I can't figure out a more appropriate credit. The ability of the powerful to craft and then spread a message seems rather a given. I'll suggest between the corporate media and the off the chart profits Big Oil has plenty of opportunities to distribute their propaganda. Being able to produce and put out slick ads is just a small piece of their power. It will be hard for the corporate media to call them on their misrepresentations I'd think. John Gunn

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The big mules pony up for Governor's inauguration

Phillips Rawls reports Alabama governor reveals who pays for inauguration. At the top of the list is Alabama Power, Bellsouth/ATT, and Regions Financial, each throwing in $50K. "$25,000 was chipped in by the Alabama Nursing Home Association, Alabama Road Builders, Balch & Bingham law firm, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Boeing, Bradley Arant law firm, Colonial Bank, Compass Bank, Credit Union Coalition, EADS, HDI Solutions, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, Northrop Grumman and the Alabama Association of Realtors." The image is from 1939 and remains a gem. John Gunn

Conservative Columnists & Right Wing Think Tanks

Perhaps those on the left and right both feel outnumbered and outgunned? Still, despite the right's working the refs while also whining about the liberal media establishment, I've long believed conservatives have a significant advantage. I was stewing on this again last night after seeing the many, many times Cal Thomas column titled The Next Attack: Coming Soon had been repeated. In one of the papers today I found George Will yet I'll link to his original column from the WaPo titled More Prisoners, Less Crime.

Reading Mr. Will, as is often the case, is a mixed bag. He's likely right to question language from Senator Obama claiming "more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities." yet there is more than just some truthiness there. This NYT's article Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn might be "amusing" to George Will yet this MSNBC piece Reports offer grim forecast for young black men: New studies find them falling further out of labor force, mainstream society from the same period echoes the same concern. The study Cellblocks or Classrooms?: The Funding of Higher Education and Corrections and Its Impact on African American Men might be another link worthy of sharing yet you'll need to click through ERIC for the PDF download.

The following suggests George Will just can't help himself:

... Liberalism likes victimization narratives and the related assumption that individuals are blank slates on which "society" writes. Hence liberals locate the cause of crime in flawed social conditions that liberalism supposedly can fix. ...
I'm at least somewhat a "liberal" George but you don't have permissions to speak on my behalf. Beyond his twisting what liberals believe, let's check out his own sources. He presumably relies much on Dr. Heather Mac Donald's recent Is the Criminal-Justice System Racist? - No: the high percentage of blacks behind bars reflects crime rates, not bigotry. This Manhattan Institute scholar is the "John M. Olin fellow at the Manhattan Institute and ... a recipient of 2005 Bradley Prize for Outstanding Intellectual Achievement." I'll not bother with wading into her research yet disagree from my time in the criminal defense trenches that to wind up in either state or federal prison is a "lifetime achievement award for persistence in criminal offending". That her writing begins with "The race industry and its elite enablers take it as self-evident that high black incarceration rates result from discrimination." also has me wondering about her work. "Elite enablers"?

George also relies on "America's premier social scientist" James Q. Wilson. Indeed Dr. Wilson is top drawer yet "premier" seems a bit bold. This Pepperdine University scholar is the Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy. That he's connected with the American Enterprise Institute should not be a surprise. A trustee of the RAND Corporation no less, he's connected with Big Insurance to boot. His widely used government textbook got some coverage this Spring over the issue of global warming denial. This is a book that he wrote with John DiIulio Jr., infamous among the Bu$hies for his Mayberry Machiavellian quote after he headed up Bu$hCo's White House office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.

Back to Professor Wilson, George adds an odd close. He writes,
... Wilson dryly adds, the report does not explore "whether society gets as much from universities as it does from prisons."
When two smart guys like George Will and Dr. Wilson seem to relish a little anti-intellectualism that worries me. Here's my real concern however ... In the marketplace of ideas, do people (those rare few that even bother reading the news) especially in Alabama, get a fair dose of competing ideas. Media Matters' Black and White and Re(a)d All Over:The Conservative Advantage in Syndicated Op-Ed Columns suggests that I'm right to be anxious. And for the record, I'm hardly thinking that Dean Broder is a centrist. What gives? John Gunn

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sweet Home Alabama ~ They needed a consultant

I stumbled across this older movie tonight. Bloodhounds aren't coon dogs you goobers! A clever movie yet you'd think somebody would have been able to keep them somewhat clear on the culture. I know Southern intricacies will always be complicated to for the Yamn Dankees. Tuscumbia's Coon Dog Cemetery is a treasure indeed. As is Alabama, despite her many, many flaws. I do miss her and can't wait to get home for good! John Gunn

The Army ~ Only a little more than four years to go

It has been a year since I enlisted and reported to Fort Benning for that long hot summer. My ETS date (when I get cut loose) remains October 17, 2012 yet it is nice to have a year down. Having Senator Webb's GI Bill there for me when I get out is also nice yet I'm certain it is not worth the price that others have paid. I can't help but note that Huggy and Dubyah are now trying to claim some credit. Little honor have they. I've learned much and yet know there is much more I need to work toward understanding. The 1-23rd Infantry crest is shown to the left. I'm often glad I wound up with this outfit yet I surely wish I were closer to the ones I love. We Serve! John Gunn

Alabama's Marie Ryder endorses John McCain

Unconfirmed Sources offers some snark that I'll share. "I thinks he would do a good job and kill all those commies and fags we got running around", Ms. Ryder claimed. "Not to mention lesbians, pinkos, nappies-headed hoes and them godless Liberals". ... "Why should them towel-heads control all the oil?" she asked. "McCain wants to put the oil back into the hands of honest god-fearing Americans where it belongs". John Gunn

Lunatics & Liars plus Charlie Fink ~ Oh McCain!

Is Bu$hCo merely running out the clock?

The LA Times Richard Simon reports White House invokes executive privilege in EPA inquiry: The Bush administration refuses to turn over subpoenaed documents related to the agency's decision to prevent California from enacting stricter emissions standards than the federal government. Who'd have imagined?

I've posted on Bu$hCo being rebuked by the Supremes, less Uncle Clarence and ... I then posted on Dubyah's EPA rejecting States Rights when that conflicted with the interests of their corporate masters. I later blogged on how EPA Chief Stephen Johnson had seen his agency managed by the White House. Loyal Republican George Gray was sent to Congress to explain it all yet Henry Waxman appropriately called Bushit.

Bu$hCo has long been willing to stall, distract, dissemble, ... With but a few more months to go then they'll only try this more. Congress and our Courts must not allow these actions to stand. If and when the Democratic Party holds the White House I can only imagine how the GOP will rant and rave over Executive abuses. John Gunn

Bob Riley ~ Is it really "F**k those union jobs?"

Yesterday George Talbot of the Mobile Press-Register reported Interest cooling in VW plant?: Possible union talks could be turnoff for state and today the Huntsville Times has Bob Lowery and Gina Hannah reporting ADO director denies state is cooling on VW. The first piece had the following:

... state officials involved in the recruitment said they were unsettled by persistent rumors that Volkswagen may have struck an agreement with the United Auto Workers. ...

Any such deal would be ill-received in Alabama, a state that has built a booming automotive industry by offering manufacturers big tax breaks and plenty of hard-working, nonunion laborers. Alabama is a right-to-work state, meaning its workers are not compelled to join unions as a condition of their employment. Similar laws have stymied labor organizers in other Southern states

Surely this can't be true? Would Bob Riley and others in Alabama be so against unions that this is a concern? Employment numbers are down in fact. Has the real Bob Riley once again stood up? This one merits watching. John Gunn

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cal Thomas - Gets ink in even The Anniston Star

Cal Thomas, a right wing nut job with a long record of foolishness, finds his way into my regional paper from back home with The next attack: Coming soon where he combines an attack on the Supremes, at least five of them, for their recent decision on the mess resulting from Bu$hCo's Overplaying Its Hand at Gitmo and beyond, with some other over the top writing.

The WaPo's Michael Ambramowitz files White House Dismissed Legal Advice On Detainees that further confirms how Bu$hCo ignored the advice of various lawyers and others within the gov't on indefinite detention that rationally explains how the Supremes came to the point where they once again had to step in and reel in the White House yet Cal and the fear mongers see a chance to push their radicalism. Cal Thomas should be ashamed. He writes:

Will the dead be wrapped in a copy of the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling granting foreign detainees, whose mission is to destroy our Constitution, our country and way of life, the right to appeal to U.S. civilian courts to challenge their detention, a right that should be reserved only for American citizens? Perhaps inside the caskets can go a statement by the State Department refusing to close Islamic schools underwritten by the government of Saudi Arabia, which teach visceral hatred of Jews, Christians and all things Western. ...

What is the purpose of the Saudi Islamic Academy and similar religious sites around the country if not to serve as cover for terrorists intent on endangering the public safety?

OMG! Let's ignore his over the top language and fear mongering and focus first on allegations related to the Islamic Saudi Academy. Google it and you'll get coverage ranging from World Nut Daily to Right Side News to Baptist Press to ... Please understand that I am in no way sympathetic to much of what the Kingdom of Saud represents and do indeed know that most of the 9-11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia. The Saudis literally have us over a barrel. As an aside, the Bu$h family has a long relationship with the Saudis yet I consider that issue, like the ISA, a distraction from the larger issue that Cal is flailing.

One piece that caught my eye on the ISA was Cinnamon (no, I'm not making up that name) Stillwell's Islam in America's public schools: Education or indoctrination? in the San Francisco Chronicle, an allegedly liberal rag. Cinnamon is affiliated with Campus Watch and is perhaps paid to stir up a stink so I'm wondering why this paper gives her space. Campus Watch is the spawn of Daniel Pipes who was a part of the lies that Barack Obama is some sort of secret Muslim.

For a less hysterical look at the Islamic Saudi Academy I'll turn to the WaPo's Kirstin Downey for her Board Extends Saudi School's Lease: Supervisor Finds No Reason for Concern Over Textbooks, Teachings. She writes in part the following:

Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, testified before the board in opposition to the extension of the lease, saying ... Saudi Arabian schools promote jihad, or religious war against nonbelievers.

She said she believes that county officials had made their decision out of "political correctness" and that it was a problem to have a school teaching violence so near ... Lafferty said Hyland was a "patsy" for the school.

This Traditional Values Coalition is an outfit that I'd ran across before yet failed to post on. I note their Who Are Barack And Michelle Obama? Their Homosexual Urban Legends is another. People for the American Way provides a solid summary of their efforts. Online Journal provides another. From back in 2004 Hanna Rosin of the WaPo also reports A Family Business: For the Rev. Lou Sheldon And His Daughter, Marriage Means Only One Thing.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom's recent Saudi Arabia: USCIRF Confirms Material Inciting Violence, Intolerance Remains in Textbooks Used at Saudi Government's Islamic Saudi Academy indeed merits some concern yet they surely aren't claiming, as Cal is, that "We are allowing a training ground for future terrorists on American soil."

Cal also claims "the Supreme Court decision will cause collateral damage. Granting terrorists seized on the battlefield access to civilian courts also sends another message; America is not serious about winning the war." Looking like sissies with a system of law that at times works is obviously more dangerous than an Executive Branch running roughshod over our Consitution and traditions. My understanding is that people in the Middle East living under totalitarian regimes are watching with admiration how the Israelis are seemingly handling the corruption in their government. Might people in the world see the rule of law in a more favorable way than Cal suggests?

George Will, surely a conservative, even measured against Cal Thomas, filed Contempt Of Courts: McCain's Posturing On Guantanamo in the WaPo just recently where he writes in part the following:

The nine justices are of varying quality, but there are not five fools or knaves. The question of the detainees' -- and the government's -- rights is a matter about which intelligent people of good will can differ.

The purpose of a writ of habeas corpus is to cause a government to release a prisoner or show through due process why the prisoner should be held. Of Guantanamo's approximately 270 detainees, many certainly are dangerous "enemy combatants." Some probably are not. None will be released by the court's decision, which does not even guarantee a right to a hearing. Rather, it guarantees only a right to request a hearing. Courts retain considerable discretion regarding such requests.

As such, the Supreme Court's ruling only begins marking a boundary against government's otherwise boundless power to detain people indefinitely, treating Guantanamo as (in Barack Obama's characterization) "a legal black hole." And public habeas hearings might benefit the Bush administration by reminding Americans how bad its worst enemies are.

George Will's reasoning and writing on this case is certainly appreciated as opposed to Cal's rambling. And once again ... what is "the war"? You can't fight terror or extremism!

Cal also writes, " According to Justice Antonin Scalia, 30 former detainees have 'allegedly' returned to the battlefield to kill American troops and others. On whose hands should be their blood?" Tom Lasseter of McClatchy has a timely piece titled Studies differ on threat from Guantanamo detainees that throws a little water on Justice Scalia's thinking, plus the talking points that Cal and John McCain and ... will now recycle through the right wing echo chambers. Here's a great place to share McClatchy's Beyond the Law effort. Journalism is still being practiced by at least some outfits.

Cal then writes, "This is bound to demoralize our soldiers who will wonder why they should bother to seize terrorists at all if they are just going to be released. They might kill them all in the field, but then they would probably be court-martialed." Thanks for the confidence in my/our professionalism ... not that Cal understands that construct given his long record of spreading wingnuttery into the heartland. How and why this goober gets ink into so many places is truly a mystery to me. John Gunn

Barack Obama might very well not get my vote

In Alabama I'm used to throwing away my votes. I've seldom if ever voted Republican, at least on the national level, and generally vote under the rooster. I may have voted for David Cobb in 2004 and Nader in 2000 in fact. In a close election I'd not have that luxury. In 2008 I'm thinking I'll remain the contrarian unless BO makes some significant turns to the left.

Today I'm chapped with several of the "leaders" in the Democratic Party. Most relates to the FISA legislation that passed The House today. There's Nancy Pelosi, Rhambo, and that damned Steny Hoyer, whom I've noted before is a corporate tool. Although some suggest Senator Obama might still do the right thing next week, if he wasn't able to stop these sellouts in the House from floating this dreadful deal then maybe he's either not strong enough or Progressive enough to deserve my vote. That he's lending a hand to Georgia Blue Dog John Barrow is yet another reason he's risking my vote. There's a slim chance Senator Majority Leader Reid might can salvage this mess yet I'm not hopeful.

At least Senator Russ Feingold and a few true Progressives are willing to call BS on this deal. RDF is all about the backbone! John Gunn

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bologna ~ Various Bama Letters to the Editor

I venture into the LTE portions of various papers every so often. Here are several I've noted lately. James Rainey of Montgomery provides stenography for the Bu$hCo White House in The Advertiser in his Numbers in soak-the-rich proposals do not add up. He writes in part the following:

While taxing the rich and rolling back the 2003 tax cuts are attractive rhetorically, the numbers don't add up. The 1960s-style big government entitlement programs being proposed can't be funded by rolling back the tax cuts and taxing the wealthiest taxpayers.

Should the 2003 tax cuts not be made permanent, a family earning $50,000 will see their taxes increase $2,100. Those families with incomes above the $50,000 figure also will see their tax burden increase.

Actually James your numbers, not to mention your morality, don't add up. I'll offer up Cult Cuts: Looking at Tax Policy from a Hysterical Perspective from Dana Chasin (Yale Philosophy and Political Science Degree with a J.D. from Harvard Law School and then a MPA from Harvard's JFK School of Government) where he shares ...

The Democratic candidates have proposed extending the Bush tax cuts for everybody except for those making over $250,000 a year. Some might think this is where the Trojan soldiers are hiding. But not really. 98 percent of all taxpayers would be unaffected by this proposal.
Dueling numbers and facts yet hasn't Bu$hCo and much of the right wing used up most of their credibility? St. John McSame's numbers are of course pretty much the same stuff they've been feeding folks like James.

Poor S. Lee Ryals of B'ham manages to get ink in The Advertiser for his McCain friend of environment on the same day Huggy Bear draws fire for a flip flop of his opposition to off shore drilling. Seriously, he's no Dubyah yet he's hardly Teddy Roosevelt S. Lee.

Lawrence E. Grinter of Montgomery also gets into The Advertiser with Obama offers clues to plans where he offers up some drivel that I'll not dignify with even a copy and paste. "So naturally" indeed Lawrence. John K. Deitz of Montgomery likewise gets a pass with his Science, religion can co-exist.

Mike Turner of Beulah/Opelika however gets the nod for bologna. He gets ink in the O-A News for his Don’t listen to the media about Obama, listen to what God has to say LTE. Mike writes "I am not writing to endorse a candidate for any office because my position causes me the inability to make one specifically from that position ..." yet I presume he's the Mike Turner that has been give the reins at Shady Grove Baptist in Opelika. In response to certain less than hysterical examination of Senator Obama's positions, Mike thinks "There is a Greek word for most of it—“bologna.” Greek rather than Italian Mike? He writes in part the following:

This letter goes out, not to everyone that will place their eyes on it, but to everyone who claims the name of Jesus Christ and says they believe in the Word of God as truth. ...

I have seen some disturbing information the mainstream media does not want you to see, but don’t listen to that or what Oprah or any of the media tells you about him.

You listen to what God, through His word, tells you.

If you, as a Christian (not Democrat), can study the principles set forth in the Bible between now and November and then still vote for Obama, then we have to accept it. His words sound great, enthusiastic and charismatic, but many Christians have been led astray by such actions from the pulpits.

Look up Second Timothy 4:3-4. Don’t listen to less than the whole truth because anything other than the whole truth is a lie. We as Christians have a God-given responsibility, regardless of party affiliation, to put people into our God-ordained government that line up with His word in their background and records, Obama’s most liberal in 2007.

There is a great tidal wave of change that is driven by Obama’s campaign, but change isn’t always good. Indonesia changed forever after the tsunami, which was a tidal wave. For the record, I don’t particularly like John McCain, either.

This goober has a congregation? Our gov't is God-ordained? Plus, does "the Christian (not Democrat)" portion mean what I fear it might? What I most fear is that this rascal might be more in line with the majority of "thinking" back in rural Alabama. They've bought the stuff James Dobson is selling (note the link to Focus on the Family on Shady Grove's website) it would appear. Folks like Mike Turner are useful idiots to the right. And that's a damn shame. John Gunn

Bama Senator Hank Erwin ~ Protecting my family!

I've posted on Pelham's Hank Erwin several times yet I think my thoughts on his plan to have college kids pack heat was my latest. The link within that post to his World Nut Daily piece claiming God's wrath was falling on the Gulf Coast via Hurricane Katrina for their sins is worthy of a click. Then there is also a link to Hank's personal website within that link.

One should never underestimate Holy Hank so I wasn't surprised to learn a week or so ago that he's trying to follow South Carolina's plan to issue an "I Believe" car tag. The B'ham News weighs in with State Sen. Hank Erwin's proposed I believe license plate promises trouble and poses troubling questions. I'm pleased they were hip enough to even be aware of The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Amen! John Gunn

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A tip of the tam to I'm Voting Republican

Charlie Steak and SyntheticHuman Pictures serve up the above. For more info on the truth behind their very clever effort please go here. John Gunn

Showing some linky love was certainly a resource I turned to in trying to find my job in the period after helping Jerry McNerney kick out the sell out. While I didn't find what I was looking for there (or on Monster, Career Builder, ... for that matter) Uncle Sam surely wanted me. A standard joke is that George Bu$h broke the Army so badly that even an old man could join. I'll remain an idealist even if carrying a M-4. And one day, in the fall of 2012 at the latest I suppose, I'll hope to be home with the bride and the boy, perhaps again turning to in the hopes that some effort wants a good hand to help them out. Anyways ... Ami Dar, Executive Director of who also happens to be a former Israeli paratrooper, asked for help in promoting their efforts and I'm pleased to do so. Their effort is top drawer and worthy of a tip of the tam. John Gunn

Bu$hCo's Margaret Spellings ~ Educator

Reverend Al Sharpton and then Alabama Policy Institute's Gary Palmer have recently been labeled "Educator" here yet now there's another. To the left you'll see Bu$hCo's Education Secretary Margaret Spellings speaking at the University of Houston, where she received her B.S. in Political Science in 1979. Since then they gave her an Honorary Doctorate. I find no honor in her once again at best missing, perhaps ignoring, and at worst twisting her own DOE's research.

The WaPo's Maria Glod and Bill Turque, focusing on DC's own Opportunity Scholarship Program, file Report Finds Little Gain From Vouchers. Here's their intro:

Students in the D.C. school voucher program, the first federal initiative to spend taxpayer dollars on private school tuition, generally did no better on reading and math tests after two years than public school ...

The findings mirror those in previous studies of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, passed by a Republican-led Congress in 2004 to place the District at the leading edge of the private school choice movement.

The DOE report came out yesterday. So what did Ms. Spellings do? She "renewed her call yesterday to preserve the program, stressing that it has shown promising achievement trends." Miss Margaret of course did essentially the same thing back in the summer of 2006. Reckon she tried to bury this research?

I'll give her credit though where credit is due. The way she frames the right's argument is more about emotions than rationality so maybe this student of politics and lobbying appreciates what Emory Professor Drew Westen is saying in the book he authored that I'm currently reading and via his Westen Strategies venture. The right might not be able to govern worth a damn but they sure can carry on the campaigns despite scarce evidence supporting their radicalism.

Still, it could just be that she's a liar. She's likely a loyal Bu$hie given her many, many years with Dubyah. In fact, I just stumbled across an older WaPo piece on her from March of 2001 that used her maiden name La Montagne. Tracking her choices of names is about as difficult as figuring out her role in the early days of The Reign of Error.

As an educator in voluntary exile, perhaps as exiled as one can be given my current profession, I did find this portion of the reporting interesting:

... among students who earned relatively high reading scores before the program started, those with scholarships progressed faster and are now about two months ahead of their peers.
I'll need to ponder that finding yet it might be that those higher performing kids most benefited from being in a setting that suited their abilities. "Researchers found gains in reading among some groups of scholarship recipients, although they said the bump could be due to statistical chance." appears in the WaPo reporting. Still, the bottom line is that Margaret Spellings is hardly suited to be called "educator" much less Secretary of Education. John Gunn

UPDATE - Late afternoon of June 17, 2008 - Testing doesn't always measure learning as many right wingers seem to think. Still, if they think it does, when the numbers suggest there's no measurable outcome to their approach once implemented, then I'm more than willing to at least share the data they so cherish.

Kennesaw State Political Science Professor Kerwin Swint Examines Faux News' Roger Ailes

Kerwin Swint, Professor of Political Science at Kennesaw State University, has a new book out titled Dark Genius: The Influential Career of Legendary Political Operative and Fox News Founder, Roger Ailes that might be a good one for a political junkie. I've long been aware of Roger Ailes connections to the right going back to Nixon and then Bu$h the Elder yet routinely run across people that aren't. Salon's Vincent Rossmeier provides a solid interview with Dr. Swint that I'll share. Well done Professor! John Gunn

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mike Rogers ~ "We are all environmentalists ..."

Alabama's 3rd District Representative Mike Rogers, perhaps still smarting from his suggesting we need "American-bred dog to help keep America safe", gets ink in the O-A News today with a piece titled Mike Rogers: Environment can lend hand to economy. Mike is almost as bad as Faux News above where they/he are hoping voters forget the GOP has been in power or at least with enough to stop true reform for many, many years. (Note that Nancy has asked Dubyah and his GOP to give her a hand in reversing the 138% increase in gas prices since January of 2001.)

Just a few days ago we had Senate GOP blocks windfall taxes on Big Oil revealing how the GOP operates with their filibuster proof numbers. Please note this portion of the reporting:

Shortly after the oil tax vote, Republicans blocked a second proposal that would extend tax breaks that have either expired or are scheduled to end this year for wind, solar and other alternative energy development, and for the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation. Again Democrats couldn't get the 60 votes to overcome a GOP filibuster. ...

In addition to the proposed windfall profits tax, the Democrats' bill also would have rescinded tax breaks that are expected to save the oil companies $17 billion over the next 10 years. The money would have been used to provide tax incentives for producers of wind, solar and other alternative energy sources as well as for energy conservation.

You're a Republican aren't you Mike? You might do the right thing on some oil subsidy votes at times but your party seldom does. According to the WaPo, "Mike Rogers has voted with a majority of his Republican colleagues 92.2% of the time during the current Congress." Your buddy Bu$h surely favors your approach to ANWR, assuming he can't wave a magic wand to solve our energy problems.

While Representative Rogers blames "the environmental lobby" for preventing the drill, drill, and drill some more approach favored by the GOP, I'd doubt the damned tree huggers have the power that Big Oil does.

I also note that Congressman Rogers uses the "potential oil reserves of 10.5 billion barrels" figure for ANWR. Actually, a 1998 USGS survey provided a range of "between 4.3 and 11.8 billion barrels". Back in 2004, MSNBC/AP reported Study: ANWR oil would have little impact: Heavy reliance on foreign imports would continue, agency finds. That the Bu$hCo Energy Department let this study see the light of day amazed me and to read a quote from the then Chairman of the House's Resources Committee Richard Pombo certainly gave me a little thrill. That I helped send Dirty Dick Pombo back to the ranch, or merely to working more directly for Big Oil/Timber/Mining ... surely pleases me. For instance, could this have occurred with Pombo in power?

Mike also manages to pull a Cheney with the following:

China has set up shop off the coast of Florida and is using oil our country could readily use instead.
Does Mike not have a researcher? Does he not read the papers? Perhaps the reference to "... you may have seen China has signed an agreement with Cuba to drill for this oil" that precedes his broad quote saves him some ridicule yet he's cutting it close. China isn't using oil if they've just started looking and/or it is onshore. So Mike, how is this oil our country can use? It seems obvious the GOP talking points made it to the folks down the food chain but Mike seems sharp enough to not have had another stumble, especially after his Super Dog fiasco. Then again, Mike also fell for the "Building a North American Community" foolishness yet hardly to the degree of Alabama State Senator Rusty Glover.

However, Mike is just plain wrong when he writes

We are all environmentalists and all want clear air, land and water. With the strong environmental laws already on the books ...
Huh? I've blogged on the Bu$hCo EPA rather often yet apparently Mike doesn't follow my blog. George Gray, the EPA's assistant administrator for research and development, has been scolded, as has EPA Chief Stephen L. Johnson. Hell, the Supremes, not counting The Fantastic Four that John McSame would expand if elected, even scolded Bu$hCo over not applying the Clean Air Act to carbon dioxide and other emissions.

Bu$hCo has radically rolled back enforcement of our allegedly strong environmental laws Mike! Less punishment has been a given! This WaPo piece from 2007 is titled Bush's EPA Is Pursuing Fewer Polluters: Probes and Prosecutions Have Declined Sharply for example. Again, do you read the newspapers Mike? Dubyah admits he doesn't yet I'm hoping you and yours might. So how can you back up these claims?

Given how the GOP has handled environmental concerns in the 2004 elections is this any surprise? Mike Rogers' Republican Party has long engaged in a "War on Science" and yet he claims we are all environmentalists? I'll accept that a few from the GOP are willing to engage in looking for solutions yet they are rather rare and often silenced via party discipline and massaging of their media.

With us looking North to Alaska, I'll admit Mike Rogers is at least no Polar Bear Hippie! I wonder if he has the potential to one day become a Senator Southern Company? Not if Josh Segall can retire him in this cycle!

Finally, Liquidation of the Commons: There has not been such a wholesale giveaway of America’s public assets since McKinley was president in the late 1800s from Adam Werbach in In these Times might be a fine piece to close with. I think Mike has it backwards as to how our environment can help the economy. And even if he doesn't, I surely find it bothersome that dreadful policies, admittedly due in part by some in both parties, even if primarily done via the GOP, get us into a position where the "Commons" is expected to take one for the team. John Gunn

Congress acts on oversight role in Plamegate

Marisa Taylor of McClatchy Newspapers reports House committee demands Bush, Cheney FBI transcripts. Representative Henry Waxman, long appreciated by this lefty blogger, is also seeking the unredacted responses of Scott McClellan, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and SOS Condoleezza Rice. Let's see if Attorney General Mukasey will cover for Bu$hCo yet once again. Judge, your reputation has left the building. John Gunn

A belated Happy Father's Day

I'd wanted to mention the many, many books I got last week for Father's Day yet thought I'd save for Sunday after I sent the boy back South. However, I got in a lather over both David Brooks, working off the "work" of Reverend Al Sharpton, and Alabama Policy Institute's Gary Palmer bringing their right wing "thinking" to our admittedly burdened education efforts. It seemed acceptable to wait until today to share my haul.

The bride sent me The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington from David Sirota, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Professor Jared Diamond, Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power by Slate's Fred Kaplan, Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age by Larry M. Bartels, and finally The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America by Ronald Brownstein.

While waiting at SEA-TAC, I found, and couldn't help but purchase, The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation by Emory Professor Drew Westen. The boy even brought me The Last Lecture by Professor Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow.

I'll now have plenty to read and then ponder over this summer. I'm sure these pages will be influenced by these books. Thanks! John Gunn

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Alabama Policy Institute's Gary Palmer ~ Educator

That I use essentially the same post title for Gary as I do for Reverend Al Sharpton might haunt Gary's dreams. Alabama Policy Institute's Gary Palmer gets space in the Mobile Press-Register to rightly lament the dreadful state of civic education in today's youth. Of course, Gary can't help but bring his own right wing views to his writing. Earning his keep at the Wingnut Welfare table, Mr. Palmer provides the obligatory reference to The Nation at Risk, manufacturing at least in part our current "crisis" in education.

Gary also cites the work of Dr. William Damon of Stanford University yet leaves off the fact he's a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. They provide the work of Dr. Jay Greene, the AJC's conservative tool's favorite source for education "policy". I expect Dr. Damon's work is being twisted and yet I'll not chase that rabbit. Here goes Gary ...

One is knowledge of ideas behind the governing system given to us by our Founding Fathers and how this constitutional republic is supposed to work. The other is a renewed sense of national pride in the great foundational principles which can inspire people to be involved citizens.

Past generations were unashamed to call this patriotism.

Damon identifies the problem in a lot of public education today: "When American history is taught and when the nature of American history is taught, it is taught from a critical perspective."

He adds, "Unfortunately, our students are learning more about our society's mistakes than its successes."

In other words, we are graduating students from our high schools and colleges with an inadequate knowledge of our history and principles, with the problem being compounded by the fact that many of these graduates have been indoctrinated with a very negative view of our nation.

The evidence of this can be seen in the current state of politics in America. Today, millions of Americans are nearly devoid of a deep understanding and appreciation for the principles on which our nation was founded and which are essential to its future.
As others have noted, American politics is no longer guided by civic-minded people engaged in an intelligent debate about the best means of achieving the common good. It is now the domain of angry activists of all types with axes to grind or whose own self-interests supersede the best interests of the nation.

Essential knowledge about America's history, our founding principles and the institutions that were created to uphold those principles, has been widely displaced by an emphasis on politically correct indoctrination that produces misinformed activists instead of educated citizens.

As the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and Common Core studies show, when it comes to ensuring that future generations have a solid knowledge and appreciation of the history and processes of the American republic, we are still a nation at risk

Let's check out Gary's last sources ... The Intercollegiate Studies Institute and Common Core are part of Gary's authority. ISI might be "non-profit" yet they are barely if all non-partisan in that their agenda is certain. Alfred S. Regnery is even the "Vice Chairman" at ISI!

The American Enterprise Institute offers the "research" of Common Core so that tells you what they are selling. Donors include the usual suspects like the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Louis Calder Foundation, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, geared in large part these days to provide grist for the mill of "school choice".

Gary's basic concerns about the sorry state of civic education somewhat echo what former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor indicated motivated her to help promote "our Courts" yet I'm sure he'd break with Justice O'Connor over her frustrations with lack of time to teach civics and critical thinking.

Gary's rant is classic wingnuttery. I'd suggest "knowledge of ideas behind the governing system given to us by our Founding Fathers and how this constitutional republic is supposed to work" would be a tremendous idea and yet I think our full grown "leaders" ought to brush up on this actually. Gary dares lash out at "angry activists of all types with axes to grind"?

Does Gary not accept that it might be wise to teach "a very negative view of our nation" when " our society's mistakes" are in fact undeniable? Where's the line Gary? Is there a ratio? To get wise voters for our future shouldn't kids learn about the times their government has behaved less than honorably?

Finally, Gary's call to "patriotism" is noted. I've written on Gary here, here, here, .. He's a shill, as would likely be anyone affiliated with the Alabama Policy Institute. "Paid to pander!" applies I'd argue. John Gunn

The Right Reverend Al Sharpton ~ Educator

There are times when I appreciate Reverend Al and yet I'd just as soon trade him in most days. His involvement with the Education Equality Project gives David Brooks ammunition to raise issues about Barack Obama's education policy. Fresh from his claiming that Obama wouldn't fit in at an Applebee's salad bar when in fact they have none, one might wonder if Mr. Brooks likewise knows squat about education.

I note that various big city superintendents are involved with EEP, most notably NYC's Joel Klein. I'll pass on figuring out "the former Clinton official" Andrew Rotherham. I do note that the Education Sector biography offers that he is completing his Doctorate in Political Science at UVA. He is a Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, an outfit infamous for their "third way" centrist weenieism.

Returning to Mr. Brooks, he writes (in the allegedly liberal New York Times where he supposedly plays the part as the token conservative) the following:

He proposes dozens of programs to build on top of the current system, but it’s not clear that he would challenge it. He’s all carrot, no stick. He’s politically astute — giving everybody the impression he’s on their side — but substantively vague. Change just isn’t that easy.

Obama endorses many good ideas and is more specific than the McCain campaign, which hasn’t even reported for duty on education. But his education remarks give the impression of a candidate who wants to be for big change without actually incurring the political costs inherent in that enterprise.

I've looked high and low for the October 2005 speech referenced by yet the closest thing I've found is this TNR piece from March that reads rather like Mr. Brooks column. I agree that change isn't easy, perhaps especially so in the complicated work of educating children in this society, and yet his positions on education on his campaign website isn't that much about the carrot but more about removing the stick. Surely there are sorry teachers that need to be removed yet right now I'd suggest more good teachers are leaving the profession thanks to right wing's sticks. St. John simply follow the right's belief that markets solve everything.

My take on No Child Left Behind from back in February of 2006 still essentially works for me yet with hopes that a Democrat will be in the White House with a solid majority in Congress perhaps the need is even greater to take a long, hard look at rolling back the right's stranglehold on education policy. David Brooks, or Reverend Al for that matter, isn't interested in taking that long, hard look. John Gunn

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Until Sunday I'll be with Baby Plaid

A strapping young man he is. He'll turn thirteen at the end of the month. Baby Plaid is flying in tomorrow to spend a few days with me about Tacoma-Seattle. A tip of the tam is due the eldest sister and the bride in getting him to and from the Atlanta airport. I'll do little if any posting and only wish I'd have him with me longer. Then again, being back home with my gal and the boy would be the ideal situation. I'll do my duty as that is what I promised. Still, if I could call it even with Uncle Sam and then find another way to serve my world closer to those I love it would suit me just fine. John Gunn