Entries Tagged 'I Love Irony' ↓

Listen to Kayleigh

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

From Nicholas Kristof, NYT, 7/2/2020

The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, deflects questions about Trump and masks by insisting that mask-wearing is simply a “personal choice.”

Wearing a mask is also the path to a quicker economic recovery. Did she forget to say that? I love irony.

Thanks to Hope Hicks

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

Who knew Hope Hicks would return to infiltrate the White House and plan activities that make Trump look silly?

According to the NYT:

St. John’s, the so-called Church of the Presidents, had been briefly set ablaze as the protests devolved on Sunday evening. After Mr. Trump’s aides spent much of the day Monday expressing outrage over the burning of a place of worship, one of his most trusted advisers, Hope Hicks, worked with others on ideas, eventually hatching a plan to have Mr. Trump walk over to the building, according to an official familiar with the plans.

Way to go, Hope. Last night’s clown act with the bible was hilarious.

Clarity for November

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

Peter Baker (NYT, 5/7/2020) reported that Trump said this about our lockdown:

“We can’t have our whole country out. We can’t do it. The country won’t take it. It won’t stand it. It’s not sustainable.”

Trump’s statement connects our pandemic situation with his view of human nature. Everything about this is clear, if you see that the meaning of the words is the same as the reason for uttering them. The meaning is that Americans feel no responsibility for the well-being of other Americans. Trump is describing what he sees in himself and his followers, and he envisions them nodding in agreement, which is why he said it.

A different president might say other things about how Americans will respond to a lockdown. That person might weigh our selfish, uneducated human nature against our generous, educated human nature; and say something like, “In this time of difficulty, Americans will make the sacrifices needed to get back to normal as soon as possible.”

Trump could never say that because he knows it would sound ridiculous coming from him. And his followers would not be nodding in agreement.

I love the irony of proclaiming that opening the economy enriches us for later, when doing so may impoverish us for a long time. Is that irony, or just stupidity?

What grade are you in?

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

Headline (3/3/2020)

Trump says he spoke to Taliban leader, had ‘good conversation’

Story

Trump told reporters. “We had a good conversation. We’ve agreed there’s no violence. We don’t want violence. We’ll see what happens.”

If Trumpty Dumpty was a fourth-grader, the teacher’s two questions would be (1) What do you mean by “good?” (2) Why do you think it was “good?”

This may be a decent report for a third grader, but a fourth grader would get a C-. A stable genius he is not–a third-grader? Maybe.

I love irony.

Kavanaugh again

None of the accusations against Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh have been judged to be true. As I pointed out in a different blog, about a Cal Thomas editorial, however,

He (Cal Thomas) was arguing against re-opening the Kavanaugh background file. Why do Republicans refuse to hear under-oath testimony from anybody other than Kavanaugh and the accuser? Why isn’t Kavanaugh calling for testimony from others? Why isn’t he offering to take a lie-detector test?”

http://sixvirtues.com/blog/2018/09/30/fbi-investigations-and-politics/

Cristine Blase Ford took a lie detector test, and she passed. In other words, common sense tells us that Christine Blase Ford was telling the truth, even if “the rule of law” has not spoken.

Now we have new accusations against Kavanaugh, when he was at Yale.

Nothing will be done, but we need to put this in perspective:

Two of the six males on the Supreme Court have been credibly accused of either sexual harassment or assault. Apparently, Republicans can’t find male nominees to the Supreme Court who haven’t sexually harassed women in their thirties, or sexually assaulted them in high school and college. (BTW–Anita Hill passed a lie detector test, too. Clarence Thomas refused to take one.)

You gotta love that rule of law thing. Clarence and Bart are two more examples of its real purpose–to protect powerful, uneducated men– especially those who attended Yale law school. I love irony.

A primer on standardized tests

According to his sign-off, Peter Green “spent 39 years as a high school English teacher, looking at how hot new reform policies affect the classroom.” Recently he wrote about standardized tests and education accountability for Forbes.com.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergreene/2018/09/20/is-the-big-standardized-test-a-big-standardized-flop/?fbclid=IwAR0rZSrLUCmkvCryOpYsXT2Iwbp8EZejJ2eOQm5Kp7V5lyHpk1px0X9oP8I#6839ec004937

He argued that standardized testing and the accountability movement have not produced a better educated citizenry. This paragraph captures his main point:

But there is one critical lesson that ed reform testing apostates should keep in mind. The idea that the Big Standardized Test does not measure what it claims to measure, the idea that it actually does damage to schools, the idea that it simply isn’t what it claims to be–while these ideas are presented as new notions for ed reformers, classroom teachers have been raising these concerns for about 20 years.

Of course Green is right. The purpose of this blog is to explain why, which space limitations at Forbes.com did not allow him to do.

Standardized tests are of two types. As their names suggest, criterion-referenced tests match student responses against a criterion, and norm-referenced tests match student responses against a reference group or a norm.

The written driver’s license test is a criterion-referenced test. The first step in creating this type of test is to define the body of knowledge to be assessed. The knowledge needed to pass the test is described in the driver’s manual, so the manual defines the knowledge required to pass the test.

The second step for administering a criterion-referenced, standardized test is to set the cut-off point for passing. Driver’s license applicants in North Carolina must correctly answer at least 80% of the questions to qualify for the road test.

When I was an assistant principal at Stoughton High School (Wisconsin), I was on a district committee assigned to develop grade level, criterion-referenced tests for every academic subject. We thought, how hard can that be? The driver’s license people do it. Why can’t we?

Our first stumbling block was that students of the Stoughton Area School District, needed to have both knowledge and skills assessed. (The driver’s test assesses only knowledge because skills are assessed in the road test.) Third grade math students, for example, need to understand mathematical principles and must also be able to use them to solve mathematical problems. Our committee’s task was to define all the desired knowledge and skills. That was the first step toward creating tests that would assess students knowledge and ability against those criteria. Still–how hard can that be?

Our work came to an abrupt halt after we hired a statistician to assist us. During his first meeting with us, we described what we wanted to accomplish. He responded by explaining that each specific knowledge or skill proficiency would require students to answer more than one multiple-choice question. In many cases, we needed at least five questions to test for a single skill. That meant the number of tests and questions would have to be many times greater than we assumed. We concluded that it was a good idea to develop criterion-referenced tests, but creating and administering them would take too much time.

Standardized, norm-referenced tests have limitations, too. Greene mentioned some of them, but the main one is that they are not designed as improvement tools. Instead, their main purpose is to tell students how they score in relation to other test takers. Results are reported as percentiles, not as percentages.

This type of test is like a machine that is balanced for proper operation. Easy-to-answer items are balanced with those that are slightly more difficult and others that are very difficult. Balancing items this way enables the results to discriminate across the knowledge and skill levels of test takers. Some students will be high scorers, some will score in the middle, and some will score toward the bottom.

A perceptive reader sees that a test designed for these results means that students scoring at the lower percentiles make it possible for others to score at higher percentiles. It’s as though teachers prepare students for a test that requires their lowest ability students to score low, and their high ability students to score high. (Then they scold low scoring students.)

Educators do this because they are ignorant of the way standardized tests operate. For example, some schools develop annual school improvement goals that focus on improving students’ scores on end-of-grade exams. They must not realize that their annual goal–the idea that focuses their efforts for 5 hours per day, 180 days per year—will be achieved if students average 1 more correct answer on an end-of-grade exam. A shallower, more meaningless annual goal might be possible, but I can’t think of one.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  –

Those are the explanations Greene could not give in his limited space. And those are the reasons why standardized tests fail as school improvement tools. They do not tell us what students know, and they distract schools from their most important goal, which is modeling and teaching the six virtues of the educated person. But aphilosophical educators never define what it means to be educated (I love irony), and space limitations prevent me from explaining the reasons. You have to read the book. Order it at

https://rowman.com/ISBN/978-1-60709-274-2

To report or not to report. That is the question.

What is wrong with the liberal, main stream media? Why do they report what Donald Trump says? He lies all the time, he changes his positions to get what he wants in the moment, and he is powerless to act on his claims. The swamp is not drained, tax returns have not been shared, sexual assault accusers have not been sued, our infrastructure and health care have not been improved. Why do media outlets report the utterances of a person who does nothing but forward American Enterprise Institute approved nominees to the federal courts?

See what happens with the military at the border, with the caravan coming for asylum, with the citizenship right of babies born in the U. S. There will be no change in policy, but the liberal media report Trump utterances and claim he is trying to motivate his supporters before an election.

Thanks to their reporting, his supporters are motivated–not because of what they report, but because Trump supporters are riveted to Fox News, which reports how liberals resist the president. The main stream media believe they are protesting the president’s violation of political norms, but their reports legitimize the violations they are protesting. I love irony.

Do media outlets have a responsibility to recognize when they are being manipulated? Oh–I forgot–their primary responsibility is to get ratings that bring in advertisers. Reporting Trump utterances attracts viewers, so they report Trump utterances.

So, let’s understand that liberal media reports are not a form of resistance to the president. They are a form of profiting. The exact same point was made at the end of Bill Maher’s interview with Barbra Streisand on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, which aired on 11/2/2018.

I wrote these last three paragraphs on November 1, and then added the part about the Streisand interview. I also wrote them before I read George Orwell’s essay, The Lion and the Unicorn, where he wrote this about the English media in 1941:

Is the English press honest or dishonest? At normal times it is deeply dishonest. All the papers that matter live off their advertisements, and the advertisers exercise an indirect censorship over news.

So, to answer the question in the first sentence—What is wrong with the liberal, main stream media?—they are tarnished by the profit motive. I love irony.

Thanks Joe, Heidi and Susan

Thanks to Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, and Susan Collins we have three more examples of the principle that has corrupted both political parties–above all else, get re-elected.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin was the only democrat on the Judiciary Committee to vote “yes” on Brett “Bart” Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Why is that? The reason behind Manchin’s vote is the same as the reason behind all Senators’ votes. They vote the way they do to get re-elected, including Heidi Heitkamp. She could vote “No” on confirmation because she was already losing by 12 points in the polls. Way to go, Heidi and Joe.

When Susan Collins went to the floor of the Senate to explain her vote, she should have saved her breath. No explanation was necessary. She voted the way she did so she would be re-elected in 2020.

But I was troubled by some of the points she made in her speech. After describing the partisanship of the Democrats’ opposition to Kavanaugh, she said,

One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom.

Evidently, Senator Collins is blinded by her own partisanship. (I love irony.) The process “hit rock bottom” with the nomination of Merrick Garland.

Collins went on to say that she values the Senate’s advice and consent role:

Against this backdrop, it is up to each individual senator to decide what the Constitution’s advice and consent duty means.

Informed by Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 76, I have interpreted this to mean that the president has broad discretion to consider a nominee’s philosophy, whereas my duty as a senator is to focus on the nominee’s qualifications as long as that nominee’s philosophy is within the mainstream of judicial thought.

I have always opposed litmus tests for judicial nominees with respect to their personal views or politics, but I fully expect them to be able to put aside any and all personal preferences in deciding the cases that come before them. I have never considered the President’s identity or party when evaluating Supreme Court nominations. (italics added)

Really? I don’t recall Senator Collins lobbying Mitch McConnell for hearings and a vote on Merrick Garland. In that case, consideration of the president’s party was the only factor in evaluating a Supreme Court nominee. Just look at those three paragraphs. They are beautifully constructed to mask the lie that is the last sentence. Way to go Susan.

Senator Collins’  speech went on to describe her private discussions with Kavanaugh and her assessment of his judicial record. Her speech is primarily noteworthy, however, for what she did not say. She did not say she believes Kavanaugh’s under-oath testimony in front of the committee. If she had, it would mean she believes what nobody believes–(1) “the devil’s triangle” is a drinking game, (2) students in all-boy high schools express their respect for girls in their yearbook, and (3) Brett never referred to himself as Bart.

So, Senator Collins’ speech taught us about the difference between how Republicans and Democrats try to hide the reason for their votes. There was no “hiding” for Joe Manchin or Heidi Heitkamp. He had to vote “Yes” in West Virginia, and she had nothing to lose for her “No” vote, for which the left-wing press called her courageous. Republican Susan Collins gave a long speech of platitudes to hide the reason she voted “Yes.”

Cut the Crap

Heitkamp is just as courageous as Kavanaugh and Collins are honest. How is that term limit thing going, Senator Collins? Or did you say you were in favor of term limits just so you could get elected? Never mind. No more speeches. We know the answer.

Kavanaugh confirmation

Republicans are weighing their options — either re-open the Kavanaugh background file, or act on their own self-interest, which is their highest value. Also, they are accusing Democrats of trying to stall the hearings for a supreme court nominee. I love irony.

 

Bill Bennett — Conservative intellectual, hypocrite, or both?

According to Bill Bennett (1998):

Our current president seems, by a large quantity of evidence, to be possessed of several improper proclivities, sexual and moral in a large sense, and one begins to suspect that each episode is not an isolated failing but rather a symptom of something more fundamental, and quite relevant. Chronic indiscipline, compulsion, exploitation, the easy betrayal of vows, all suggest something wrong at a deep level—something habitual and beyond control.

Bennett (1998) used those words to describe President Bill Clinton in, The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the assault on American ideals. Naturally, I was interested in reading what The Book of Virtues author had to say about a president who violates norms of decency, honesty, and other American ideals.

I want to comment on just one of the arguments against the Clinton presidency in Bennett’s 154-page book. In describing the feminist defense of Clinton, who was an adulterer and liar, Bennett calls their position “consequentialism.” Or, as he explains: “To nonphilosophers, this is known as ‘the ends justify the means.’”

He wrote,

For feminists, the end that earns (almost) unwavering support is the president’s commitment to the feminist agenda – expanding child care, providing toll-free domestic abuse hotlines, supporting the Family and Medical Leave Act, and above all, backing abortion on demand. (Notice the straw man — a lot of feminists do not back “abortion on demand,” but back reasonable contraceptive and abortion services.)

And he wrote,

Feminists are quite open about this. . . Call it breathtaking hypocrisy, or call it a sellout of principle, but so speaks the sisterhood.

Feminist support for Bill Clinton demonstrates why one strong argument against utilitarianism is its limited utility. By showing themselves to be intellectually dishonest and unserious, feminists have not only destroyed whatever credibility they once had, they have given a very public very green light to sexual predators.

Fast-forward 18 years.

In August, 2016, Bennett started his blog this way:

People often ask me how I — a so-called conservative intellectual and author of “The Book of Virtues”- can support and vote for Donald Trump. I have many good reasons, but nothing on the home front is more important than the Supreme Court.

If that lead triggered your interest, read the whole blog. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/08/23/what_a_clinton_supreme_court_would_mean_for_america_131586.html

Bennett’s argument for a Trump vote perfectly matches the feminist argument he ridiculed in 1998. Feminists argued for “expanding child care, providing toll-free domestic abuse hotlines, supporting the Family and Medical Leave Act, and above all, backing abortion on demand.”

In 2016 the Bennett blog argued for the Trump agenda related to immigration, religious liberty, transgender bathrooms, the second amendment, the EPA, and abortion. Was his blog “breathtaking hypocrisy,” or a “sell out of principle?” Or was he intellectually dishonest in 1998, when he ridiculed feminists for doing exactly what he recommended in 2016?

Bennett wrote about this, too (1998; pp. 66-67):

Nixonian ethics are wrong because moral precepts are real; they are not like warm candle wax, easily shaped to fit the ends of this or that president, or this or that cause. We do not–or at least we should not–subscribe to the notion that laws apply only to presidents (or causes) we disagree with, but can be suspended for those with whom we agree.

I love irony.