Entries Tagged 'Politics Blogs' ↓

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.

Not a Jim Brown fan

I was born in Wisconsin in 1952, so I was never a fan of Jim Brown. In fact I was happy when he retired early from the Cleveland Browns. (The Browns still have not recovered.)

Whose idea was it to bring him out of retirement to the White House? I am waiting to hear from him about his experiences, today. What does he have to say after listening to the fawning president and the irate Kanye? Brown used to be a vocal opponent of oppression in our society. What does he say, now?

Or did they drag him into the White House because, like the president, he is unable to speak coherently in his old age? We will have an answer in the coming days and weeks.

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 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 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.

What kind of person is DT?

“The Donald Trump I know would never over state his wealth to get loans, or under state it to reduce his taxes,” said no one ever.

I cannot prove a negative, so I am left to just “believe” nobody ever said that. If anyone can point to a person who said that, and meant it to represent the truth, I will stop believing nobody ever said that. Maybe there is one person out there.

 

FBI investigations and politics

Instead of re-opening the FBI investigation of Judge Kavanaugh, conservative columnist Cal Thomas wrote this:

If the FBI wants to investigate things that need investigation there is much behavior from the Bill and Hillary Clinton era that would keep agents busy and produce results of interest to the public and law enforcement, including alleged Chinese hacking of Hillary’s emails while she was secretary of state, Uranium One scandal, foreign gifts to the Clinton Foundation and so much more.

Accordingly, when Trump is out of office, I am sure Cal will call on the FBI to investigate the Trump company’s alleged associations with money laundering, foreign election contributions, overseas tax havens, and Melania’s immigration status.

Cut the Crap

Cal was not writing about FBI investigations. He 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?

We don’t need to know anything else to know who is telling the truth. It is common sense.

But we are governed by the rule of law, not by common sense. The rule of law is a fancy term for enabling powerful people to hide the truth. Thanks to Brett Kavanaugh we have a clear example of how this works.

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.

 

Public school educators are played for chumps

I just watched Diane Feinstein during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. She may be right, and she may have strong arguments for what she says; but it is futile. We are in this situation because democracy does not work without an educated electorate.

Of course, “educated” is different from “schooled.” Eighty percent of us are schooled for at least twelve years, 180 days per year, 5 hours per day. Since we have adopted the social science paradigm for improving schools, however, our purposes have been hijacked. Educators now focus on value-added scores, correct answers on multiple-choice tests and closing test-score gaps.

Instead, we should model and teach the six virtues of the educated person. Educators’ responses?

Update on “chumps:”

This morning’s headline in the Asheville Citizen-Times was,

Showing signs of improvement: After all-time low, Buncombe schools boost grades on annual report card.

30-minutes later, I read former governor Bev Perdue’s “NC Spin” headline describing scores across the state:

School performance grades down – listen to our teachers!

The second headline explains some of the good news in the first headline, but you have to understand norm-referenced testing to see the causal relationship. The poorer test performance reported by Perdue moved the bell-shaped curve to the left. As a result, some Buncombe County students percentile scores were higher than they would have been, if the curve had not moved.

Twenty minutes later, I read another “NC Spin” column. This one was by Phil Kirk, former State School Board chairperson, legislator and cabinet secretary. He made the following claims about the principal salary scale in NC:

For as long as we can remember, principals were paid primarily based on how many years they had served as principals, degrees and the size of their school.  It didn’t matter in terms of pay as to whether the principal was outstanding, mediocre, or weak…..hard to believe but that was the tradition even though it makes no sense and is not supported by any credible research.

Just as the legislature is wisely moving away from paying teachers based solely on how long they have lasted in the profession and how many advanced degrees they have, pay for principals is now based partially on growth in student performance.  What a novel idea to reward effectiveness!

He then described one of his definitions of “effectiveness:”

Because Governors Hunt and Easley gave me the opportunity to serve as Chairman of the State Board of Education for six and one-half years, I visited 750 schools in all 115 local school districts. While I don’t claim to be an expert in educational leadership, I could generally size up the effectiveness of the principal after about 15 minutes of touring the school with him or her and listening and talking about their daily challenges, successes, and disappointments.

Then he described his other definition of “effectiveness:”

As BEST NC says, “Research suggests that a full quarter of a school’s impact on student learning can be directly attributed to the school leader. . . “

Of course a principal might have an effect on students’ standardized test scores (which is what BEST NC means by “student learning.” In some schools it might be strong; in others it might be weak–just as longevity and graduate studies might improve a principal’s effectiveness, and in other cases it might not. This is why the social science paradigm for improving schools and making policy is a dead end — it all depends on your definition of “effectiveness.”

In this example Phil Kirk cites two conflicting definitions. He uses the definition that supports one set of biases to make one argument (“Effective” principals can describe their work during a 15-minute walk-around.) And then he uses another definition to support his other biases (“Effective principals are those serving in schools with high standardized test scores.)

There’s not much “science” in that.

 

 

Senator John McCain

Let’s look at how low the bar has to be set to find a member of either party who did something that was morally right, instead of what would get him/her re-elected. Senator McCain, one of the Keating Five, is being praised and honored for not agreeing with a woman who said Obama was a Muslim.

Furthermore, according to a David Ignatius column (8/28/2018):

McCain had the self-knowledge to understand that he wasn’t very good at waffling. He explained: “Every time I did something because I thought it would be politically helpful, it turned out badly.” As an example, he cited his pandering to southern conservatives during the 2000 South Carolina primary when he said flying the Confederate flag at the state Capitol was a state issue.

But this is not about John McCain. It is about where we set the bar for politicians’ moral behavior and intentions. A man who admits to doing what is politically helpful is being praised because he was a maverick once in a while. Why doesn’t the media follow McCain’s maverick example and point to when he lowered the bar, too?

Or is the bar so low that nobody can lower it. Here is my summary of recent coverage of John McCain’s career:

We lost a “great” man. There were times when he did not lie, cheat, steal, pander, obfuscate, distort, or denigrate others to get himself elected.

BTW–Now we know that McCain was not tortured by the north Vietnamese for five years at Hanoi Hilton. Instead, based on the perspective of his own political party, he was subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques.” How could he remain a Republican after the Bush administration? Oh — I forgot. He had to get re-elected in Barry Goldwater’s state of Arizona.

New laws are not the solution

I am listening to coverage of the Santa Fe High School mass shooting, which occurred this morning. I hear NRA-endorsed legislators say that stricter gun laws are not the solution.

Here is a news flash — no law is a SOLUTION to anything. Instead, every law is a statement of what we stand for. So, explain your stance on mass shootings. I already know what you don’t stand for. What do you stand for in the aftermath of another school shooting?

 

 

Who are the snowflakes now?

I was reading through the article entitled, Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think, by Professor Gerard Alexander (University of Virginia, political science) in the May 12, 2018, New York Times opinion section:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/12/opinion/sunday/liberals-youre-not-as-smart-as-you-think-you-are.html

The following three paragraphs seem to capture the author’s main point.

Consider some ways liberals have used their cultural prominence in recent years. They have rightly become more sensitive to racism and sexism in American society. News reports, academic commentary and movies now regularly relate accounts of racism in American history and condemn racial bigotry. These exercises in consciousness-raising and criticism have surely nudged some Americans to rethink their views, and to reflect more deeply on the status and experience of women and members of minority groups in this country.

So far, so good – racism and sexism have been part of American culture — do you think? From here it gets squishy:

But accusers can paint with very wide brushes. Racist is pretty much the most damning label that can be slapped on anyone in America today, which means it should be applied firmly and carefully. Yet some people have cavalierly leveled the charge against huge numbers of Americans — specifically, the more than 60 million people who voted for Mr. Trump.

In their ranks are people who sincerely consider themselves not bigoted, who might be open to reconsidering ways they have done things for years, but who are likely to be put off if they feel smeared before that conversation even takes place.

I get it now. Remember that “snowflake” thing – it doesn’t apply to liberals, it applies to Trump voters. I can hear them whimpering right now – “I was going consider the possibility that my life has benefited from white privilege, but since you called me a racist, I won’t consider that possibility, and I will vote for Trump again.”

Here is another paragraph from Alexander:

Pressing a political view from the Oscar stage, declaring a conservative campus speaker unacceptable, flatly categorizing huge segments of the country as misguided — these reveal a tremendous intellectual and moral self-confidence that smacks of superiority. It’s one thing to police your own language and a very different one to police other people’s. The former can set an example. The latter is domineering.

“Domineering?” – I guess those sensitive, Trump-voting snowflakes are melting fast.

Professor Alexander appears to be trying to help liberals. But does he really want to describe Trump voters this way? The “deplorables” was bad enough. Now he says they are sensitive, whiney people, whose judgment melts in the heat of political debate — especially when liberals think they are superior.

Who knew all those crusty Trump voters were such snowflakes?