Entries Tagged 'Politics Blogs' ↓

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?

 

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.

 

Trump University Settlement

Donald Trump has settled for $25,000,000. Of course there is no admission of wrong-doing; but I have a different take on this. I call this being a loser; and I don’t like losers. Donald Trump — you are such a LOSER!

(Remember Donald — imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.)

 

As of tonight, Pence has all the power

It’s Friday night, October 7, and Mike Pence is the most powerful person in the world. With the video of Donald’s locker room talk being played over and over, Pence can give Trump the following ultimatum:

Either you step down as the Republican Presidential candidate, or I will quit as your running mate.

Trump is powerless. He can continue to run for President, but even he must know he cannot win the election after his running mate abandons him. Or he can try to save face by saying it was all rigged, and let Pence be the Republican Presidential nominee.

Either way, Donald loses. I love irony.

(BTW — You read it here, first.)

Saturday update:

The CNN website has several stories about whether or not Trump will quit the race and who has called for him to do so. Two headlines are Trump to WSJ: Zero chance I’ll quit, and Utah Republicans out front in opposing Trump after recording.

Other stories say Republicans can’t force Trump to quit, and Donald says the same thing in published reports. Nobody, however, discusses the ultimatum described above. Pence can’t be forced to continue as the running mate. If he quits, Donald becomes the laughing stock of presidential elections.

Instead, Pence said he cannot defend Trump’s remarks and he wants to hear what is in his heart at the debate on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 12 update

Still no ultimatum from Pence.

Cut the Crap, Mike Pence

Just call Donald and say:

Either you step down as the Republican Presidential candidate, or I quit as your running mate. Conversation over. (click)

“Rigged” irony

If he does not win the presidential election, Donald Trump said it will be because the political system is rigged. From the day of his birth, Trump has benefited from the rigged system we call capitalism. Here is my suggestion for how educators can teach about the extent to which capitalism is rigged.

We all played Monopoly as children. Teachers should teach economics by having students play Monopoly for short periods over the course of the year. Instead of starting with the same amount of Monopoly money, however, each student would start with the amount of money in inverse proportion to his/her family’s wealth. Poor students would be given the number of dollars that corresponds to starting as a wealthy family; and students in wealthy families, would be given the number of dollars that corresponds to starting as a poor family. Then — roll the dice.

Where are the economics professors interested in creating an algorithm teachers could use to make sure poor students get the Monopoly advantages experienced by wealthy families and wealthy students get the Monopoly disadvantages experienced by poor families? I am giving this idea to anybody who wants to create the algorithm. The profits are yours.

Furthermore, students would learn a lot from this data-driven approach to teaching. I love irony. (The irony, of course, is that no superintendent or school board would allow this game to be played, even though it is a “data-driven” approach to learning — what they claim to want.)

Trump Dilemma

Republicans are wringing their hands over the Trump candidacy. It has nothing to do with the candidate’s unfavorables, rhetoric, style, personality, or business record. It has to do with polls that show he will lose battleground states and the election.

The Republican party has two options. Divide the party by dumping Trump (and losing the election), or divide the party by keeping Trump (and losing the election).

If I am wrong, and Trump is elected, the American electorate will have demonstrated the three vices taught in our public schools:

  1. intellectual incompetence (Don’t think for yourself.)
  2. fear of truth (America may not be the greatest country in the world.)
  3. pride (first of the seven deadly sins).

Update (post election):

I was wrong. Let’s see what happens in the next four years.

Science that really matters

When educators make sure the “science” part of STEM focuses on building a healthier, more physically fit society, I will be its biggest proponent. Here is the plan:

  1. School boards establish standards for the improvement of health and fitness of its middle and high school graduates.
  2. Schools, teachers and students are rewarded for meeting or exceeding the health and fitness standards set for them. And, of course, they are punished for failing to meet them.

Students are taught the science behind all aspects of healthy living — diet, exercise, leisure, bio-metrics, and fitness. And their learning is evaluated by their health and fitness results. Naturally, everybody would work with Physical Education teachers to improve student health and fitness; which is, by far, the most important science related to the science portion of STEM.

Until then, public education’s emphasis on ScienceTEM is just more learning of unimportant facts. We teach enough of those already.

 

UNC Chancellors get raise

This morning’s Asheville Citizen-Times (11/20/2015) reported the salary increases granted to Chancellors across the UNC system. According to Lou Bissette, acting Board of Governors (BOG) chairman,  “We looked at our chancellors’ salaries as compared with chancellors across the country and very frankly we were so far below the median it was a little embarrassing for all of us.”

I met Mr. Bissette many years ago. He is a good, generous man who gives to his community in many ways. I shudder to think how embarrassed he and his colleagues will be when they realize salaries of faculty are also far below the median. Feeling such enormous embarrassment, they will hardly be able to sleep at night.

Update on embarrassment:

I just received my WCU salary increase letter. The university gave me a 1% increase because my salary is 86.6% of the “market value”at my rank and professional responsibilities. Now I make 87.5% of market value ($10,000 annually below market value). Thanks WCU.

And to Mr. Bissette:

I am sorry my salary is such an embarrassment to you.

Cut the Crap

Nobody is embarrassed over my salary because I get paid fine for what I do. And nobody should have been embarrassed over the Chancellors’ salaries because nobody put a gun to their heads when they were hired and accepted their salaries. Apparently Mr. Bissette is embarrassed about the poor salary bargains made by our Chancellors.

I thought Chancellors and BOG members were supposed to be smart people. They are not, when they make these kinds of judgments:

1. (Chancellors) accepting embarrassingly low salaries.

2. (BOG members) granting salary increases because of Chancellors’ embarrassingly bad judgment.

The airlines went too far

The flight attendant bragged that we were flying in one of American Airline’s new A319 aircraft.

Really? We were squashed into three seats, where there should have been two. And when I reclined, the person behind me said I was too far into his space, which I was.

On a recent Delta flight I was on an older A319 — way too little room, again. This aircraft takes profit to a new level of discomfort and indignity.

Capitalism is a good economic system, but not when the owner class treats the lower classes like animal cargo. The best economic systems dignify human experience for everyone, not just the few.

Remember airline deregulation was going to make air travel better and cheaper? “Competition in the market place” was the owner class’s mantra as they joined hands and laughed about what they could do with additional profits. Can you say fascism?

“Rotten Apples” and TIME

Dear Defenders of Public Education:

Get a grip. Outrage over the TIME magazine cover (November 2, 2014) reveals your ignorance of American capitalism. Describing teachers as “Rotten Apples” on the cover is meant to sell magazines — nothing more, nothing less. The real article headline (pp. 34-35) is “Taking on Teacher Tenure,” which is placed under a picture of three good apples and a rotten one.

Today’s lesson on the chalkboard as you enter the classroom:

Examples of Partial Truths

1. Teachers are rotten.

2. The percentage is 25%.

When it comes to magazine covers and graphics, partial truths are good enough, just as they are in all forms of advertising/marketing/promotion. “Rotten Apples” is a partial truth because, although it is not true that a high percentage of teachers are rotten, some teachers are. Using an illustration that says the ratio is one in four is also a partial truth because the actual percentage depends on the definition of “rotten.” Few people believe 25% of teachers are “rotten,” (as that word is commonly used), but some believe at least one out of every four teachers is “rotten.” There you have it — partial truth. We can’t know the actual percentage, and some people believe it is at least 25%.

Instead of outrage, do your job. Teach young people how our society works by helping them understand partial truths in advertising/marketing/promotion. Examples are all around them.