Entries Tagged 'Politics Blogs' ↓

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?

 

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.