Monday, May 31, 2010
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Unless you have been living in a cave for the last year with no contact with the outside world, then you have to have heard the most popular Republican lie. The lie they want everyone to believe is that President Obama is responsible for the huge deficit our country now faces. They're hoping to ride that lie back to being a majority party next November.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
This is a sad day for me because an entertainment giant has passed away. Actor, director, photographer and artist Dennis Hopper died Saturday in his home of complications from prostate cancer. He was 74 years old.
The state agency that is supposed to assure that pollution does not endanger the citizens of Texas is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). But they have not been doing an adequate job of protecting Texans for many years now. Instead of protecting the air quality (and water quality), these Republican appointees seem instead to exist solely to allow the giant oil, gas, and chemical industries to operate without having to obey federal and state pollution laws.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday night to pass the Murphy amendment to the emergency Military Appropriations Bill. This is the amendment that will repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy that has been enforced by the United States Military for years. The new policy is to let gays and lesbians serve openly in the military without having to keep their sexual preference a secret. The amendment passed on a 234 to 194 vote, and will take effect after the military completes its study on how to implement the new policy (probably about the end of the year).
In the last post I wrote about Rand Paul, the teabagger Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky, I said I didn't know how Paul could go any lower than he has already done but I was sure he'd find a way to do it. I was right. After years of defending a strict constructionist view of the Constitution, Paul's newest desire is to ignore parts of the Constitution that don't agree with his new teabagger views.
Friday, May 28, 2010
In October of 2001, President Bush invaded Afghanistan. About a year and a half later (March 2003), he did the same in Iraq. Now it is nearly nine years later, and the occupation of both countries continues. Sadly, nothing has been accomplished. Both wars were entered into on the promise that they would provide more security for America, but they have not done that. The same terrorist dangers that existed in 2001, continue to exist today. In fact, it may be worse because with each killing of innocent civilians we create more enemies.
Finally someone has taken some action to stop the insanity of off-shore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Yesterday an environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity, filed suit in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans requesting a stop to any new off-shore drilling. In light of the current ecological disaster caused by BP and Transocean (and Halliburton), that makes imminent sense.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
As you must know by now, President Obama has nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the upcoming vacancy on the United States Supreme Court. Even though the Republicans probably cannot stop Kagan's confirmation, many of them are playing to their right-wing base and opposing the nomination. The problem is that Kagan has not left an extensive paper trail so they are having trouble finding grounds for their opposition.
“When I first came to the Supreme Court, three of my colleagues had never been a federal judge. William Rehnquist came to the Bench from the Office of Legal Counsel. Byron White was Deputy Attorney General. And Lewis Powell who was a private lawyer in Richmond and had been president of the American Bar Association.”
“Currently, there is nobody on the Court who has not served as a judge --indeed, as a federal judge -- all nine of us,” he continued. “. . . I am happy to see that this latest nominee is not a federal judge – and not a judge at all.”
A couple of weeks ago, it looked like Rand Paul had the inside track to becoming a United States senator. He rode the teabaggers' endorsement to the Kentucky Republican Party nomination for Jim Bunning's old seat, and most believed he would win again in November. But it took him less than a week to throw a monkey wrench into his own campaign machinery.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
For years now, the United States military has had a policy of "don't ask, don't tell" when it comes to homosexuality in the armed services. That means that any gay or lesbian soldier or sailor must keep his/her sexuality a secret or be unceremoniously kicked out of the military. This is not only unequal and morally wrong, but it has cost the military branches thousands of capable men and women who were doing an extraordinary job for their country.
A little over a week ago, the Rasmussen Poll showed incumbent Rick Perry with a double-digit lead over his Democratic opponent, Bill White (ex-mayor of Houston). Their poll showed Perry with 51% and White with 38% (with a 4.5 point margin of error). The Rasmussen Poll usually has a Republican bias, so I figured the lead was actually only 9 or 10 points (still a large lead though).
The blogger over at Zero Energy Construction has (with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek) revealed the ultra-secret left-wing conspiracy involving the 2010 U.S. census. I know all you liberal, socialist, pinko, progressive, commie, leftist, bleeding-heart, gay and minority-loving, tree huggers will find it hard to believe that our secret has now been exposed to the blinding light of day, but it is true. As proof (and with my own tongue planted in my own cheek), I am hereby reprinting the treacherous post below. Enjoy!
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Once again we find that Sarah Palin has been playing fast and loose with the truth. She has always been bad about finding a tiny kernel of truth and turning it into a big fat lie. This time she is accusing President Obama of being paid off by the oil companies ( a strange assertion coming from one of the boldest of the oil company apologists, who says she still believes in "Drill, Baby, Drill").
For all their pious holier-than-thou family values preaching, Republicans sure seem to like indulging in adulterous sexcapades. It's only been about a week since a Republican congressman admitted to an affair with one of his aides and resigned his seat. Now there are rumors of another adulterous affair, and the accusations don't come from the left, but from a Republican consultant and blogger named Will Folks.
Monday, May 24, 2010
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) recently did something that makes imminent sense. They installed metal detectors at the entrances to the Texas State Capitol Building (where both houses of the Texas legislature meets). This is long overdue, as county courthouses in the state have had the metal detectors for years now. After all, politics and courts can easily inflame the passions of citizens -- not all of whom have good sense.
Ever since President Obama took the oath of office, the Republicans have been telling lies about his administration to anyone who will listen. They have called him a "socialist" who promotes a government takeover of our lives, said he wants to outlaw gun ownership, and even accused him of trying to institute a ban on sport fishing. Of course, none of these things are even close to being true, but facts don't seem to mean much to Republicans these days.
The May meeting provided a good blueprint of what is wrong with the current board. At the outset of the public testimony, Chair Gail Lowe stated that with 205 signed up to speak, it would take ten hours for all the participants to deliver their three-minute statements. Ha! By mid-afternoon, they had only made their way through about seventeen speakers. Instead of simply sticking to their stated rules and allowing all of those signed up a chance to say their piece, board members indulged themselves in the opportunity to speak and air their own views at every possible occasion. Meanwhile, people who had driven 800 miles from El Paso and other far corners of the state fretted over whether they would have a chance to speak at all.
The board demonstrated the same lack of discipline in their own editing process. At times people were mired in minutiae of language or "grammarical changes," as Terri Leo put it. On other occasions extremist board members soared with their intoxication over big ideas. Terri Leo struggled to keep John Calvin in the Enlightenment, completely failing to understand what the Enlightenment was all about.
After hearing again and again that they should delay their final vote and send the mangled curriculum back to the review committees to clean up the mess board members had made, the board trudged through hundreds of tiny revisions, with no method and no plan. Instead of grouping revisions into some reasonable categories, say, and voting on "grammarical" and non-substantive changes in large blocks, the extremists on the board worry over every item with mind-numbing thoroughness. They are not thorough, however, in checking what really counts, such as plagiarized passages in their own suggested revisions.
This board has exactly the same problems I recognize in my students: poor critical thinking, research, language, and problem-solving skills. They mix up big concepts with specific examples. Their method for making the curriculum "fair" is simply to throw in a name from "their side" every place they recognize someone from the "other side," thus muddying such concepts as the Enlightenment or reform and muckracker movements by trying to add in totally unrelated figures who represented completely different schools of thought.
One story from the day seems to sum up both the current board’s attitude and its incompetence: it appears that this board left a plagiarized section in the current version, but they did change the UCLA website’s phrase (http://gseis.ucla.edu/courses/ed253a/american-exceptionalism.htm) from "democratic" republic to "constitutional" republic.
May the board learn what plagiarism is and stop doing it.
So what are we going to do? Stop dithering, like the current SBOE, and put our time, donations, and energy into electing good people in November.
The SBOE voted Friday to adopt Texas social studies standards that include their extremist agenda. The next two years provide additional opportunities for the State Board to make decisions based on ideology or on sound educational practice: science textbooks are scheduled for approval and adoption in 2011, social studies textbooks in 2012, and Career and Technology standards as well as Technology Applications standards will be approved in 2011. With your support, I plan to win the election this November to add one more voice of reason to the Board on behalf of the 4.7 million school children of Texas.
When I am elected to the Board I will insist on accuracy in the science and social studies textbooks that will be approved. I will also work to rescind the standards approved Friday. That will delay the implementation of the new curriculum and textbooks for a year while we go back to the standards originally proposed by the curriculum teams, and hold new public hearings. The current standards have been in place for ten years, and while I hate to delay one more year, I cannot let the students of Texas be subjected to personal ideology in the place of real history. When Career and Technology and Technology Applications standards are written and approved in 2011, I will ensure that they are up to date and accurate, providing our students with the technology skills of the 21st, not the 19th, century.
My election depends on the support of thousands of people like you. My opponent spent over two hundred thousand dollars of her own money to win her primary election and showed her willingness to pander to the far right. We have the momentum, we have the advantage, the district is winnable, and the voters want change, but we have to keep building. Please make a contribution today. Your support will enable me to communicate with the more than 400,000 voters who are expected to cast a vote in the SBOE District 10 election this year. Thank you for your support!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
By now you've probably heard about the furor caused by the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky -- Rand Paul. After winning that nomination, Paul let it be known that he believes the 1964 Civil Rights Act was wrong when it mandated that businesses could not discriminate on the basis of race. He said businesses should be able to discriminate against anyone they wanted to, and if they wanted to discriminate on the basis of race then they should be able to do that.