An Ugly Yard Sign

I recently saw a yard sign that said, “Fire Obama.” It made me wonder:

If the homeowner is that angry with a president who has done nothing to destroy American life, he/she must have been livid with the Bush administration’s intelligence failures leading up to 9/11, thousands of dead and wounded American soldiers in Iraq, and the economic collapse of 2008.

The yard sign must have been REALLY ugly back in 2008.


Learned watching cable news, #2

Week of January 16, 2012

1.  According to Newt Gingrich, “The fact is that under President Obama more people have been added to the food stamp program than under any other president.”  (PBS Newshour, January 17, 2012)

The former Speaker forgot to say the American economy was heading for the brink of disaster, just as Obama was taking office.  Because of this second fact, it would be surprising if the first were not true.  Gingrich the historian is an abomination.  Gingrich the candidate is afraid of truth.

2.  Dick Morris, the master flip-flopper, believes both Gingrich and Romney are good presidential candidates.  (O”Reilly on Fox)  Enough said.

3.  The six vices of our uneducated nature are on display in the Republican primary race.  The GOP is no longer marching to the orders of Rove and Cheney, so Republican candidates are criticizing each other (PBS, MSNBC, CNN, even Fox).  Both Democrats and Republicans know they won’t be elected if they don’t demonstrate the six vices of:  (1) ignorance (aka) using sound-bites to explain complex issues, (2) intellectual incompetence (aka) staying on message, (3) weakness (aka) pandering, (4) fear of truth (aka) crafting an image that hides the real person, (5) pride (aka) being proud of the accident of birthplace, (6) selfishness (aka) assuring re-election before everything else. Nobody notices because the ugliness of American presidential campaigns is accepted.

4.  I grew up in Wisconsin for 37 years, so I am humbled by the Scott Walker recall efforts of normal, beautiful Wisconsinites.  During a time of middle class prosperity I learned the six virtues growing up in Appleton.

5.  Greta Van Susteren illustrated Wisconsinite beauty in her interview with Governor Walker (January 18, 2012).  Like me, she grew up in Appleton and attended Xavier High School.  I wondered how she would do, since she is on Fox.  She challenged the governor’s talking point about the recall being backed by national union financiers, reminding him twice that he relies on outside money, too.  You get integrity from a Wisconsinite, even one on Fox News.

That’s your suggestion? Now give me the opposite.

I am troubled by Ron Suskind’s description of the Obama White House during the economic crisis of 2009:

He paints a not-so-pretty picture of the White House discussion.  We were confronting an economic disaster, and getting elected president does not make one expert in everything Americans care about.  Every president has to rely on the advice of experts.

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A Return to False Equivalency

Now that MSNBC has exploded over President Obama’s “compromise” with Republicans, I want to return to Jon Stewart’s claim that MSNBC and Fox News are guilty of the same kind of biased journalism. In my earlier False Equivalency blog I asked readers to compare how often Fox News and MSNBC commentators prop up a “straw man,” which is the debating technique that distorts an opponent’s belief, and then ridicules the distortion.

In the earlier blog I claimed MSNBC does this much less than Fox News, making a false equivalency of Jon Stewart’s claim that the two channels do the same thing from opposite perspectives. I told Stewart that political discernment makes him funny, and he needs more discernment before making MSNBC the liberal equivalent of Fox News.
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Soft Bigotry of Which Expectations?

It’s early December. I am reading final papers from fall semester and planning new courses for spring. I have been moved by both experiences.

I am moved by the reflections of teachers who love their students. Elementary teachers love their little ones — the imagination, the questions, the sincerity, the innocence. Middle grade teachers love their pre-teens — the struggles, the needs, the cooperative moments and the challenging days. High school teachers love their teenagers — the enthusiasm, the energy, the blossoming potential.

I teach adults. I love my students (who are teachers) for their dedication, strength, and generosity. Many of them have written beautifully about their classroom and school struggles, and I have been deeply moved this week.
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