20score's Journal - Archives
From the time of the Puritans in Salem, Massachusetts, hunting down witches in 1692 – 1693, through Glenn Beck’s rants about Progressives-Nazis, the country has been in flux politically. Our nation has gone through several bouts of irrationality, followed by corrections and then reflections on what went wrong. Although there has always been a segment of society that is less than stellar when it comes to reasonableness, they have rarely been in charge. And they have rarely held so much of the country under its sway.
During the 1920’s the Ku Klux Klan had between five and six million members with the country’s population just over a third of what it is now. They held political power in many states – especially Indiana - had the support of millions and regularly beat and lynched blacks who stood up for their rights. That was main stream at the time, but it didn’t last. During the McCarthy era paranoia was the norm in the houses of power. In the oxymoronic standard of the time, we needed to be less free in order to keep our freedom. Thankfully, that didn’t last either. At least it was dormant for a few decades. The extreme right of the John Birch Society types of the late 50’s and 1960’s, and the mean spirited McCarthy type right of the early 1950’s are now running an entire party, after recently running the country. Open bigotry has made it into media on a scale that would have been completely off limits just ten years ago. Although what Fox News and right-wing radio push is not recognized as bigotry by Fox and right-wing radio, it is bigotry none-the-less. Witness the non-stories of ACORN, the New Black Panthers and Shirley Sherrod, pushed to scare whites into thinking they are being overrun. Immigration is also hyped beyond all reason and presented in such a way as to enflame passions and preclude any meaningful conversation.
There are always bigots or people who are prone to hate and immune to logic. The difference between one era and another of course, is degrees. So, certain times stand out when the crazies rule the roost. The eras of inanity like the Salem Witch Trials, the KKK’s heyday, McCarthyism and the 21st century, always have at least two characteristics in common with each other. They are highly charged emotionally and there is a definite resistance to logic. Very traumatic experiences like the 9-11 terrorist attacks or The Great Depression move people in one or two ways. They either push people toward making a better society where the collective looks out for one another, or they push the populace into making a worse society by dividing them and stoking fear and anger.
The current war on reality didn’t start immediately after the terrorist attacks of 2001. Directly after the attacks there was a feeling of shock and a feeling of togetherness. People were more polite to each other and more helpful. But that was very short lived. Within a month there was talk was of giving up freedoms and of us versus them. Within a year just pointing out the obvious, like Iraq didn’t attack us, could lose a person friends and get one accused of being a terrorist sympathizer. From there, it wasn’t long before pointing out other obvious facts, such as, we are creating more terrorists than we are killing, or, tax cuts for the rich are going to hurt the economy, was cause for more accusations of terrorist sympathies, which has now morphed into being a communist or socialist.
During the Bush years the Christian Right was at the forefront of war on reality. They have faded in prominence, but the war is still going full force. With the same disregard for facts as a young-earther, a certain portion of society will defend torture insisting that it works, or avow that massive tax cuts increase government revenue. These people can look at a USA Today Poll that shows seventy-seven percent say they would prefer a public option in a health care bill, and insist no one wants a public option. These mostly Fox News viewers, will accuse someone of using the "Alinsky Method" when asked to site a source, and then become angry when told that source sighting is not part of the Alinsky Method. Like the word “socialism”, they have heard the term before many times, they know that it’s bad, but they don’t know what it means.
Glenn Beck has become a national figure and become very rich by pushing the most inane version of history or current events imaginable. This has pushed the crazy of the last decade and the war on reality into overdrive. His viewers are not only convinced that Hitler was a liberal, they will point a finger at those who disagree with that obvious lie and tell them they have no concept of history. Glenn beck stands next to a chalk board and acts like a teacher to his audience, telling them they are getting the “real history” now. I’d like to sugar coat this a little, but if someone can be convinced that Hitler was a liberal, or that FDR caused the Great depression, they aren’t really well informed about anything to begin with. He shouts absolute nonsense, tying together art from the 30’s with Obama’s “Nazi agenda” and his audience carries those ridiculous notions with them into their places of work and into the voting booth. It is not by accident that Beck has attacked empathy and social justice. Coupled with his distortion of history and current events, it makes his followers perfect solders in the war on reality – and it keeps the crazy going full force.
It has been close to nine years of this current incarnation of delusional politics and there is no sign of slowing down. We need to call out the resistance to logic and correct those who parrot irrational talking points. Otherwise, we will never be able to have the much needed discussions about how to fix what is broken, and get us to the point of corrections - and reflect about what went wrong.
At least where reincarnation is concerned. Because then so many of the worst of us would crawl around as real slugs, and give up the metaphorical positions they now hold. We’ve all met them in our day to day lives, we’ve read their writings, and we’ve all heard them on the radio and television. This is about people who love to put salt in the wounds of those who have just suffered. The people who blame the victims in the harshest possible terms.
Some of the worst have become multi-millionaires by spewing their bile over the airwaves on most days. Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage have said things on the radio that should get them decked in polite company. When a report came out last month about children possibly going hungry because school lunches would not be available in the summer, the poster boy for gluttony made a joke about this being the ticket for fixing childhood obesity. Then, true to his sadistic nature, made a pathetic attempt at humor and said the children should learn to dumpster-dive. I would like to call him a modern day Scrooge, but there aren’t enough tenses, for there to be enough Christmas ghosts… to ever redeem his considerable, sorry ass. Scrooge at least had a grain of decency at his core. As for Savage, he is so twisted a person he actually made fun of a father, whose seven year old child was missing, for crying in public. Too bad we don’t have the same luxury as Britain does, and just not allow him within our borders.
Some have become famous by using the same tactics in print that others use on the airwaves. One day after the Virginia Tech shootings where 32 people were killed, superman John Derbyshire of National Review Online asked, "Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake -- one of them reportedly a .22." So, to the families who lost loved ones, according to Derbyshire, it was their fault. It may just be a case of one of the world’s leading wimps fantasizing about being Dirty Harry, but the rumor is Derbyshire still throws his lunch money at any kid who blocks the hallway.
And who can forget God’s mouthpiece himself, Glenn Beck. Whose motto is, “There is no such thing as a bottom - because I always carry a shovel.” You see, there is more to Beck than just being shy some cognitive abilities, he’s also lacking in empathy, knowledge, decency, integrity, morals, manners and taste. Before he started to cry every time someone mentioned the country, he talked about how the victims of Katrina were “scumbags.” And before he tried to convince everyone that he would bring us back to the way we felt on 9-12-2001, with so much togetherness, he lamented the fact that, “it took me about a year to start hating the 9/11 victims’ families.”
But these people who have become rich and or famous by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, while simultaneously making the hypocrisy of televangelists look tame, have a lot of company in the country at large. A letter in the Los Angeles Times on 7/3/10, by Ed Skebe, perfectly illustrates the very judgmental, inhumane outlook of far too many.
“The Hesperia housing article was another typical Times one-sided sympathy story. Dawn Meenan is a bookkeeper and should have some financial savvy. The family had difficulty saving $3,000, yet had a fourth child and entered into a mortgage contract they could not afford. When they did manage to save some money they spent it on landscaping. A prudent bookkeeper would advise saving for future needs.
Why not point out that the irresponsibleness of their actions? People like this helped create the financial meltdown and now look for taxpayer relief.”
Now there are many times when people make mistakes and it should be pointed out. There are other times when the judgmental person may be saying things that are true. But is nitpicking a person’s life apart looking for any and all missteps really what the takeaway should be every time something bad happens to a person or a group of people?
Strangely enough, many of these metaphorical slugs are much more religious than many secularists who are much more forgiving. At least many of them claim to be, “Good Christians.” So, if it turns out that reincarnation is a myth, then who knows, maybe that means these good Christians are right about the afterlife. Now, it’s been years since I’ve been to church, but I seem to remember that other religions had a plan for people like these, too.
Talking to people of different political persuasions, about politics, is much harder in tough times than it is when the stakes aren’t quite as high. When life and death, or millions of jobs are on the line, fuses become shorter and the intensity of the explosions increases. People talk past each other, leaving everyone in the conversation wondering, “How could they not see something so obvious?”
Of course there are millions of reasons why a person may fall onto one side or the other of a particular issue. Personal experience, temperament, mood, strong emotions or access to information are some of the most obvious reasons. Some simply don’t care unless it affects them directly, others actually enjoy having one group that is in their mind, distinctly beneath them, and others just don’t have the time or inclination to examine a subject deeper than the most superficial depth. And many people tend to agree with a viewpoint that they hear espoused over and over. That is why so many points of view are more prevalent in one region as opposed to another. There is nothing in the water that makes people conservative in Tulsa and there is nothing in the food supply that makes people liberal in Santa Cruz. The prevalence of one point of view being heard again and again, coupled with propensity to take things at face value is the reason one country or region is associated with a particular viewpoint. Sometimes those viewpoints stand up well when measured against reality and facts, other times, not so much.
There have been other times in the country’s history when the populace has been divided. None more so than the 1850’s and 1860’s with the issue of slavery. Where that time period is concerned, it is very easy for us to look back and say definitively, that many involved were operating from a premise that did not match reality. But in the unexamined minds of many whites of that period, they were superior to people in other races. They believed in that falsehood as strongly as some people six or seven years ago believed that G.W. Bush was made president by God. (For some reason God only fixed that election, and not the other presidential elections. Go figure.) Another period of divisiveness was the 1960’s during the Vietnam War. But because there are still many people highly invested in that war, and a few that profit from a misreading of the lessons of Vietnam, there still exists a popular reality that does not mesh with the facts.
Some of the falsehoods disseminated by Fox News and others to create an alternate reality, and thus make it harder to have legitimate debates, don’t pass the laugh test - never mind the smell test. When Glenn Beck says that he is going to, “take back the civil rights movement” it should send people into fits of laughter. If that is not the most ridiculous thing ever said in the history of mankind, it is certainly in the running. More absurd than his crying jags and even more insulting than his channeling God to put “his plan” into action. There should be no one in this country ill-informed enough to buy that tripe. But, unfortunately there are people who will believe it. Ten years ago, laughter would have been the reaction by the vast majority to the ludicrous statement that, “Hitler was a liberal.” Now, millions have been fooled into believing that farcical assertion.
Other lies are not as obvious as the, Hitler is a liberal, or the, Glenn Beck is just picking up where Martin Luther King left off, deceits. Some of these lies are harder to overcome because they hold a grain of truth in them; as with many of dishonest memes about the economy, or they cover complicated subjects that most aren’t familiar with, such as global warming. Although this second set of deceptions is not as apparent as the first set, they are just as untrue and set up a boundary to honest discussion.
Do people really invest time and money to get others to harm their own country and work against their own interests? People do! Only a small fraction of the country actually benefits from increasing our use of fossil fuels. And even those few will encounter drawbacks from our over-dependence on fossil fuel energy. But millions of dollars are spent on confusing people with lies about science. The people pushing these types of lies ignore the consequences and focus on confusion. They never come out and say, “Let’s fall behind other nations and let them make some money for a change” or “Pollution rocks!” No, they get people to believe there is a left/right divide concerning the legitimacy of science. The same types of lies come into play when convincing people of economic policies that hurt the middle class and the vast majority of the country, but help multi-national companies. Free trade sounds great – unless you know what it really means.
All the lies, from the complicated to the insane, help create an alternate world-view that makes rational discussions almost impossible. Try having a discussion about the Jurassic period with someone who believes the earth is only 6,000 years old. That same fun can now be had when discussing everything from the Great Depression to the Iraq War. Bill Maher said it most succinctly and best when he said, “How do we solve this problem when the response of one half of the people who should be helping is, ‘I like turtles’?”
It’s hard enough to be a liberal, Nazi, progressive, communist, but with Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh uncovering your every devious plan, it’s damn near impossible. Every time my friends and I design an intricate, multi-faceted plot to take down America – one of those two is there. Shining sunlight on what should have forever remained in darkness.
We thought life would be easy after we elected a Muslim terrorist from Kenya. Especially after Our Socialist continued many of the same programs initiated under the Bush administration. But no, Beck and Limbaugh just doubled down on their investigative sleuthing. They left no stone unturned.
One of Limbaugh’s biggest coups was figuring out how my friends and I sabotaged the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. My wife and I were sitting in a drum circle with another couple pounding our bongos made of hemp and talking about how we need to ‘outlaw’ the feeling of being superior – when it hit us. Design and build a new kind of submarine that can go to the bottom of the ocean undetected, and blow up an oil rig. That would teach people that oil and water don’t mix. “There must be someone out there who doesn’t know this yet,” said Flower, Granola’s wife. Our plan was foolproof! But somehow, Limbaugh caught on and told the whole world, the rig was blown up by "hardcore environmentalist wackos." Now our plan is doubly ruined because Limbaugh is letting everyone in on the secret, oil is natural and won’t hurt anything. All that work for nothing!
And how were we found out, anyway?
This followed an entire year of Beck telling our biggest secrets. For the greater part of the century we were able to hide from everyone the true meanings of the words, ‘progressive’ and ‘Nazi.’ Liberals/progressives used to think that just because the people who identified themselves as either Nazi or progressive, thought their ideologies were diametrically opposed - and that the dictionary also said they are opposing philosophies - and that all educated people also agreed that the two philosophies were at opposite ends of the spectrum – that we were safe from anyone uncovering the true meanings of the words. Then Beck came along and uncovered our Uber-Super- Secret Dictionary/Encyclopedia. (That’s its real title.) He told the world that Progressives are Nazis and Nazis are Progressives. Now everyone knows that when someone says they want to help someone less fortunate, they really mean they want to put them into death camps. It makes it so much harder when people know your plans in advance.
We also used to believe that having scientists helping your side was a bonus. We figured out a way make the United States spend trillions and trillions of dollars and get nothing in return. We called it Global Warming. Another perfect plan - or so we thought. Then Glenn Beck noticed it was cold last winter and that some scientists argue. The jig was up! When we thought we had people convinced society was based on laws and improved with technology, Limbaugh found the true basis for society – plastic shopping bags.
Of course Beck and Limbaugh have some help. All of Fox News, Michael Savage and Hugh Hewitt to name a few. They help get the word out. But these two are the Kings of Truth. One thing after another has been uncovered by these two intrepid wonder boys, and if they don’t rest I don’t know how our side is going to destroy America and make it a tax and spend paradise. Where no one will be allowed to work, and the only people given a voice are gay, Muslim, illegal aliens who hate God and want America to fail.
One can dream.
(Repost with additions and better title.)
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is also bringing the debate about regulation to the forefront once more. Where it belongs. Time and time again, those who tout the “Government is the problem” meme manage to steer the conversation. The phrase is repeated by those who aren’t very introspective about their beliefs and in the minds of many, it becomes true. But it’s not. And it should be one of the most obvious things we deal with. The need for regulation should be a no-brainer. But, just like the mining disaster in West Virginia and the financial meltdown in 2008, this too will be blamed on the victims.
The financial industry spent five billion dollars to bribe politicians in order to game the system. They got what they wanted and they were also warned by many that the deregulation would cause a bubble and that bubble would break. Molly Ivins said of the deregulation 1998, “Not since Congress passed the Garn-St. Germain bill in 1981 – the one that deregulated the S&Ls and unleashed a half-a-trillion-dollar disaster, which the taxpayers of this country wound up paying for – has there been a move to match this for pure folly.” So the people who crashed the world’s economy and spend a good portion of their time talking about how great they are and how bad the government is, ran to the government to bail them out when it inevitably went south. But who got the blame on Fox News and right-wing radio? Poor people, brown people, black people and immigrants. Never ones with enough to character to stand up and take responsibility for what they have done, they quickly blamed the victims.
Within a week or so of the mining disaster in West Virginia – one that can be attributed to deregulation and a disregard for the regulations still in force – Rush Limbaugh tried to blame the unions. "Was there no union responsibility for improving mine safety? Where was the union here? Where was the union? The union is generally holding these companies up demanding all kinds of safety. Why were these miners continuing to work in what apparently was an unsafe atmosphere?" After more than twenty years of fighting to weaken unions, Limbaugh wants to know why the unions didn’t stop this from happening. There were questions and concerns voiced by people working in the Massey Energy mine, just as there was by some working on the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. But, just as with other foreseeable disasters, this was caused by the deregulation mindset so prevalent in some circles.
The people in our country are the victims of the broken system. Financial, safety related and ecological. The corporations pay the politicians to make counterproductive laws. Then they pay propagandists like Beck and Limbaugh, and Fox News, to lie to the people so they have popular support for those laws. In the meantime the middle class keeps shrinking and making less money. We keep going deeper and deeper in debt, and the people doing the damage keep privatizing the gains and socializing the losses. All the while making the people who follow them fight against their own interests. The need for regulation is very much common sense. Common sense and science. It follows the Cox Theorem.
Prediction: Remove B from the system and N will happen. In this case strong regulation and a disaster. Replace B and N will not happen. At least not to the degree as it was before B was reintroduced. This has been proven over and over again during the last century. But, memories are very short.
“Drill Baby Drill!” That less than stellar phrase is losing its popularity, lately. Where is that private industry that can handle this spill better than the government? Where is that private Coast Guard that can rescue people while making a big profit? To you teabaggers, propagandists and right-wing elite - you know your slogans are lies or you would be repeating them now, instead of crying for help from the government. All the damage you cause with your greed and shortsightedness is only compounded by your inability to take responsibility. And the responsibility for this spill, and the damage it has done and will continue to do, can be laid directly on all the people who have chanted, voted and pushed for deregulation.
After the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the obvious thing for the country to do was to cut our consumption of fossil fuel. We did the opposite. The obvious thing for us to do now after the Gulf oil spill is to put in strong regulations and cut our consumption of fossil fuel. But our track record for doing the right and obvious thing is not a great one. “Government is the problem” “The private industry does it better” “Don’t let big government stand in the way” Now that things have gotten out of hand in the Gulf, they are begging the government to fix it. Until the crisis is over, then they will start the process all over again. The talking points are ready to go the minute this spill is off the front page. We shouldn’t let them do it this time. Enough is enough. In fact, it’s already been far too much.
Your group does have a knack for identifying problems – I’ll give you that – but you get all discombobulated when you shout out solutions and try to assign blame. As with all of your very loud objections and complaints, your support of the new immigration law in Arizona is both counterproductive and antithetical to your professed beliefs. Remember that Constitution you so recently discovered? The one Beck told you about, but neglected to say what’s in it? Well, here’s something that might interest you. The fourth amendment:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” It is still part of the Constitution, for those of you aren’t familiar.
What is the acceptable level of harassment? When does your expressed love of the Constitution outweigh the need for vindictiveness? There is a solution that would allow the idea of a free nation to remain intact. We could make it unprofitable to hire illegal aliens, but that does take out all the fun of punishing someone. That’s the drawback.
I mean, in your world, didn’t these illegal immigrants crash the economy? Well, when you’re not blaming the Democrats, that is. So they must deserve all the bad things that come their way. Ignoring the five billion dollars spent on lobbying to deregulate the financial industry is what good Americans do, right? I suppose you could combine the Democrats and the Mexicans – let’s be honest, you don’t give a damn if someone is here from Sweden illegally – to say that both groups crashed the economy. And all you have to do is ignore the obvious. I know the right-wing talking point is “The Dems have held the power of the purse since 2006.” The only problem with that is you have to ignore reality, again. The Democrats took power, of congress, in January of 2007. The recession started in December of 2007. Before any programs – that Bush would have vetoed – even took effect, never mind affected the economy. Obviously the Dems gave way too much money to the Illegals. (The only thing a Democrat hates more than families is seeing someone work, who could be taking taxpayer money.) But hey, it’s not like you to let reality ruin a good talking point.
The fact that this was all figured out in the 1930’s and numerous people predicated the crash, plus common sense and history made the collapse inevitable, is no reason why a person should blame the ones in power. Nope, brown people did it. Them and those damned libs!
It is hard not to get upset when everything one group does is not only mean spirited, but counter-productive. Today’s teabaggers wanted to fight terrorism a few years ago, and they did it by invading the wrong country, creating enemies and future terrorists. They wanted prosperity and they did it by helping to trash unions and facilitating free trade which shipped jobs over-seas. They cheered tax cut which ballooned the debt, but now cry about that debt and attribute it to a stimulus bill that happened after the fact. Teabaggers say nothing if a multi-billion dollar company pays no taxes, but scream bloody socialism if a single mother barely scraping by on thirty thousand pays the same.
I could go on, but the word on the street is you’re now just concentrating on figuring out ways to make Bush look smart. Good luck with that.
A friend recently said to me that he thought Obama was weak because he gave the right-wing far too much power on issue after issue, time and time again. We had been discussing healthcare, offshore drilling and abstinence education. In all three of these subjects, the left ended up with less than they expected, and the right came out with more than they deserved. I countered that I thought it was the left that was weak, and not Obama. In my estimation, this has been the case for decades. Whether the subject is labor rights, war, trade, economics or healthcare, what is being labeled as “the left” is the first faction to be closed out of the conversation. And the marginalization of the left continues irrespective of the strength of the arguments or the number of people making said arguments. In many cases the positions held by the left are also held by, not just a plurality of the country, but a clear majority.
This is not because individuals on the left are weak themselves, as many on the right believe. There are millions of progressives that show the strength of heroes on a daily basis. This is because the right holds positions that overlap with corporate interests. And when corporations and moneyed interests come down on one side of a particular issue, that side is then labeled as the “moderate” position by the media. Then, it is just a matter of time until the moderate position is codified by law. The reasons for the overlap between the right and the corporations are un-important for this subject matter, but it is very hard to deny that the overlap exists.
This problem of the left losing battle after battle is more than just some people getting the short end of the stick - our health as a nation depends on the tide turning. During the 1930’s labor and the left were winning battle after battle and the middle class expanded and became much stronger because of those wins. Some of the recent wins for the corporations and the right include, deregulation of the financial industries, the Iraq War, trade deals that favor multi-nationals over American jobs, TARP, the PATRIOT ACT, privatization of schools, prisons and highways, and tax codes that siphon money to the top. There are many more of course, but those examples alone have harmed the country in myriad ways.
There are two ideas that I hope will help turn the tide in a direction more favorable to the left and the country as a whole. First, toughen up and be loyal to ideals and not a person. Compromise on tactics, not principles. Although it is a given that not all battles should be fought to the bitter end, and we should pick our battles and be ready to compromise in many circumstances, that compromise should not include a complete sellout of your main platform. How much better would the healthcare bill now be, if the left had demanded a public option as strongly as the right demanded that the non-existent death-panels be removed? And standing up for principles does not mean that you have sold out your own side. Some use the very weak and illogical argument that if a person stands up for a particular principle, then that person likes/stands with the other side. It was an offensive tactic when used by the right push the Iraq War – “If you’re against the war you must be for Hussein” – and it is an offensive tactic now.
The second and most important idea is one that I hope will come to fruition. There are umbrella groups that tie labor and environmental groups together, and other organizations that loosely tie certain groups on the left to one another. But there doesn’t seem to be one strong organization that ties labor with environmental groups, civil liberty organizations, consumer advocacy groups and progressive companies. An organization that would concentrate solely on lobbying and campaign donations. Working in conjunction with all the afore mentioned groups and political organizations like PDA, plus fundraising using average citizens for the donation pool. A citizens union, so to speak. This would be to counter the money spent by corporations, so that citizens would have more power and more of a voice in our legislative process. Without public financing of campaigns, or a citizens union, whatever average people will benefit from will continue to be sidelined as “the fringe” as long as Corporate America stands against it.
From the inside. This college is my wife's Alma mater and I have been hearing for years about the emphasis put on critical thinking. If the right succeeds in its bid to take over, this 150 year old institution will, for all intents and purposes be gone.
Why Thomas Lindsay Must Step Down
by Samuel Henderson - Tuesday, 23 March 2010, 04:05 AM
Please read the following, then sign the petition.
General Summary of President Lindsay’s Tenure
Thomas Lindsay assumed the presidency of Shimer College in January 2009.<1> Lindsay was not among the three candidates recommended by the search committee, and there are no public records as to the process by which he was chosen.<2> Since taking office, Lindsay has repeatedly violated the administrative procedures of the school in order to advance a his own agenda and place his associates in positions of importance.<3> In order to preserve their narrow majority, Lindsay's allies on the Board, who for the most part lack any connection to Shimer College, have blocked the candidacy of qualified alumni.<4> The most recent transgression by Lindsay and his allies has been the abrupt, wholesale alteration of the College's mission statement, over the unanimous objections of the faculty.<5> There is abundant reason to believe that the faculty and curriculum of Shimer College are in serious peril. <6>
Primary Issues of Concern:
Stacking the Board
For all his many faults, Lindsay would not pose a credible threat to the College if he did not enjoy the support of a majority on the Board of Trustees. At the moment that majority is quite narrow: Lindsay's mission statement passed by only two votes in the February meeting of the Board. This narrow majority was only obtained by flooding the Board with new members over the past two years. Almost none of these new members have any prior connection to the college. The impression of a hostile takeover is confirmed by the refusal of the Nominating Committee, on which these new members now hold a majority, to confirm any of the six eligible alumni candidates who have been put forward.
Lindsay and his appointees on the Board have used their narrow majority to push through an ideologically-loaded rewrite of the mission statement. This was done under false pretenses and against the express, nearly unanimous disapproval of the faculty and student bodies. Approximately half of the student body came out on a freezing Saturday morning, in February, in Chicago, in order to calmly and peacefully express their objections to the Board's planned action.
Lindsay has expressed a desire to remove what he views as "political correctness" from the curriculum. This suggests that he will press to remove the many works by women and persons of color that are currently included in the Core. It may also suggest a desire to remove non-canonical works, keeping only the historical Great Books. Furthermore, by unilaterally removing "citizenship" from the mission statement of the College, Lindsay has stricken out one of the three pillars of Great Books education as articulated by Robert Maynard Hutchins. This bodes extremely poorly for his future intentions, which remain in shadow.
Lindsay has threatened faculty <6> and members of the Board with removal if they do not support his agenda.
President Lindsay has fired skilled, professional staff members – notably Elaine Vincent, who modernized Shimer's admissions and achieved impressive gains in enrollment – in order to hire people he knows will support him. In this instance, he went against the express will of the committees that normally oversee personnel issues. Lindsay subsequently refused to discuss the rationale for his highly suspect firing of Ms. Vincent, even after a formal request by the faculty that he explain himself. <1> Elaine Vincent was replaced by a remarkably under-qualified Director of Admissions, Amy Pritts. In flagrant disregard of Shimer hiring procedures, Mrs. Pritts was re-inserted into the pool of applicants after three rounds of selection by the Administrative Committee per Lindsay’s directive. Mrs. Pritts had previously worked at the University of Dallas in a non-managerial capacity, further heightening suspicions of cronyism.
Lindsay's actions disregard the established, documented administrative institutions and procedures of Shimer College. His actions are most flagrantly in violation of the model of self-governance – reaffirmed by the Board as recently as 2008 – that has kept the college alive for so long against such incredible odds. But they also violate basic principles of sound management; Lindsay has made no effort to keep the community on board, or even to keep key stakeholders informed of his planned actions. In the process he has done the nearly impossible: united the Shimer community.
The rest of the petition:
In an effort to further bipartisanship and clarify the Senate’s disdain for average citizens, Senators Baucus and Shelby have introduced S.8008, or the “We Slap You in the Face” bill. The House is working on a companion bill that should reach the president’s deck before June of 2010.
“It has been years since congress has done anything that benefits the average citizen,” said Senator Kyl of Arizona. “And yet there are millions of people out there that actually believe we work for them and not the corporations. We think it is well past time to remedy that tragic situation. That’s why I am proud to be a cosponsor of this bill.”
The bill will allow designated time for legislators to cruise various neighborhoods and slap citizens in the face at will. It also helps in time management by permitting senators to do the Sunday morning talk show circuit, with camera crews in tow, while going door to door slapping people in the face.
“How are we supposed get any fund raising done if we have to act like we care about some poor clown in our district,” said Senator Tom Colburn. “That is time consuming. Some of us need to line up lobbying jobs for the future.”
“It’s hard to believe we have to go this far to show where we stand,” opined Congressman Eric Cantor. “I mean really, with what we’ve done for the financial industry, the insurance companies and the energy cartels you think it would be obvious where we stand; but some people just don’t get it. So, this will leave no doubt. We will finally get to stop the pretense of working for the peons and concentrate on what we think is important.”
The latest was Markos Moulitsas, whom I usually like, claiming that Dennis Kucinich deserves a primary challenge. He went so far as to say, “I’m going to hold people like Dennis Kucinich responsible for the forty-thousand Americans that die each year.” Inexcusable hyperbole. It is very reminiscent of the pro war arguments of 2002 and 2003. If not in substance, at least in form. People like Kucinich have been coming up with cogent arguments against the mandate, and reasons why we need actual health care reform that includes a Medicare expansion or a real public option, with the ability to compete with the insurance companies - and the response has been insults and platitudes.
Of course this bad bill, which even supporters like Moulitsas admit is “not perfect” will not be fixed at a later date. It has never been explained how this fix will come about. When the bill has become worse with each passing month and the popularity of the Democrats and the bill has dropped with each concession to the insurance industry, just how is this bill going to be improved with less energy from the populous and less Democrats in congress? Just like NAFTA and TARP were improved? Not buying because it’s not true.
Up until a few months ago, the public option was one of the central tenets of health care reform. Now, once it became obvious to all that Obama had no intention of fighting for it, even looking like he had been fighting against the public option, supporters started insulting those who point out obvious flaws by claiming the ones who object are unrealistic or crybabies. That they “don’t understand how politics works.” Actually, they do. Better than most - by a long shot. We are losing, or have lost our best shot at real reform, something almost everyone else in the world takes for granted, (at least in the industrialized world) not because some want to hold out for desperately needed reform, but because others are willing to sell out our principles for a few minor improvements. Are there still going to be many going bankrupt, many worse off financially, and many still dying for lack of insurance? I still agree with candidate Obama, forcing people to buy into a broken system is not reform.
For some time now people have been claiming that only an idiot would not understand that this is the best we can get. And for the same amount of time I have been asking these people to come up with proof they had always held this opinion. So far no takers. During the summer we had the right-wing fighting against phantom provisions like death panels, social Nazism and killing grandma. Ludicrous positions held by the gullible. And the left went out to fight for the betterment of the country and against the lies. Only now it seems like both sides were fighting for nonexistent provisions and easily sold out ideals.
The public option or a Medicare expansion has been continuously popular, not only with the left, but with the country as a whole. For that reason this bill is not only bad policy, it is bad politics. It is very hard to understand why people in power would indulge in such obvious self destructive behavior, but it is certainly not the first time. And no matter how often or loudly those that are on the side of the current bill insist it is the left who will be responsible for fallout that will surely happen, there is no doubt that it is the ones pushing the unpopular legislation that will be at fault. Just like it did for the Republicans before, reality will catch up. It always does.
When Moulitsas was asked how Dennis Kucinch’s position was viewed by the left-wing on the internet, he avoided the question and simply attacked by claiming the congressman’s approach was a “Naderesque.” He also claimed, against all logic and decency that his position was no different than the Republicans position. To make the claim that there is no difference between people who are proud of their greed and refuse on principle to help follow their countryman and those who trying their best to help everyone they can, is dishonest, and frankly reprehensible.
I don’t want to single out just one anti-science teacher, but Ray Shelton signed his name to a letter that proudly proclaimed his ignorance. So I’ll focus on him. Fortunately, the vast majority of teachers are well above the national average when it comes to intelligence, good demeanor and critical thinking. My mother taught English for twenty years at the high school level and now teaches at a college. And most of the teachers I know socially, the majority of my children’s teachers and most of the ones in my past, are fantastic.
The follow letter was published in the March, 8th 2010 Los Angeles Times:
“Re “Getting global warming right,” Editorial, March 3
In Wednesday's editorial, you again attack the rationality of global warming "deniers."
As a fifth-grade public school science teacher, I am one of those deniers -- as are thousands of respected climatologists.
Global warming scientists simply do not have solid scientific evidence behind their claims. What they do have is human-programmed computer modeling, error-filled statistical sampling, government-driven "crisis" funding and an anti-capitalist ideology.
Actual science is driven by facts, logic, inductive reasoning and a love of the truth.
Global warming is a hoax, plain and simple.
First off, no one who isn’t blinded by ideology would tie anti-capitalism to a neutral scientific theory. That can only come from someone who is extremely susceptible to today’s propaganda. And if one puts more value on baseless propaganda than on established science, then that person should re-evaluate his or her critical thinking skills. There is good reason why creationists are hitching their wagons to the global warming deniers. Both groups, “don’t think” the same. They both have their pre-determined answers and will gather all the minutia they can to back up that answer, while ignoring the larger picture at all costs. My personal favorite claims are that carbon-14 dating doesn’t work after six thousands years, and that scientists and hippies are using their vast powers to take money from the government and the poor energy companies. (And both claims are made with straight faces.)
It boils down to this, in very simple terms, no one is disputing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. This has been established science for over one hundred and fifty years when John Tyndall discovered its properties. Add that to another fact that no one disputes: That we are emitting 29 billion metric tons of this greenhouse gas into the air annually. When millions of years of accumulated and sequestered carbon is thrown back into the atmosphere, it will have an effect. There are multitudes of peer reviewed studies and an overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is happening and is anthropomorphic in nature. Even the anti-capitalists over at the Pentagon are in on the act, it seems.
I have three children, each of whom had a science teacher that should have been barred from any science classroom. My oldest daughter had a sixth grade teacher who took two full days to grasp a science experiment that my daughter and a partner did. Everyone else, including the children understood. My other daughter had a science teacher that was telling his students – until I stopped him – that homosexuality was a choice and some kids were going to hell. And my son had a teacher that insisted, until I complained to the principal, that the earth was only six thousand years old.
If you get your science from Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, you’re not getting your science. What I’m saying Ray, is that before you brag about being a fifth-grade science teacher, you should have a fifth-grade grasp of science.
“It’s not often that I make this type of explicate endorsement,” said The Prince of Darkness. “It’s usually just implied by the words and actions of my latest, um, ambassador, so to speak. You know, someone does a lot of evil deeds, becomes rich and famous and everyone just knows, we’re in business together. But, Glenn, well,” Satan trailed off with a look of pride on his face.
“What am I, chopped liver?” said Sean Hannity with a smile. Hannity booked an exclusive primetime interview with Satan, who said he was willing to break with tradition to make an appearance on his favorite network.
“Oh, I’ve done very well by you, Sean, and you know it,” Beelzebub teased. “In fact your whole network has kept me busy for years. You add Limbaugh, Savage, Coulter, Elder and the rest to Fox… plus I still have all the normal despots to attend to, well it’s just – no rest for the wicked as they say. It was much easier when I didn’t have all these media people to deal with. Just politicians, kings, emperors, business tycoons and the like.”
“What about all the thieves, rapists, murderers and such?” asked Sean.
“Oh, they’re just nuts, I make no deals with them,” said Satan. “Those are kind of one way relationships. I don’t have to give a thing.”
“But you said you didn’t make a deal with Glenn,” said Sean, thinking he had Satan in a ‘Gotcha’ moment. “And Rush is always bragging on the deal he got from you… said you two were like brothers. Thought he was your favorite”
“He was. Look, I’m not going to take away from all the good, er, bad – sometimes even I get confused – that Rush has done, but with Glenn it’s on an entirely different level. At first I was furious at Beck. I yelled and stabbed demons with my pitchfork, ‘Who the hell does this upstart think he is? I’m the Father of Lies, not him!’ It was kind of a hellish time for my helpers, if you know what I mean,” said The Tempter. “But then Glenn asked for a sit down and we talked for hours. Look, I know he’s not bright, in fact he’s an idiot, but he’s got a black soul, and I have a weak spot for that. He didn’t want anything. He was just happy to lie and turn history inside out. And if someone goes a little nuts because of his lies and people get hurt, well, that’s just icing on the cake. All he has I gave him gratis… First time for everything.”
“Look it’s been great and thanks for all your work,” Satan said while standing up. “I have to go, but tell Rove I want my books back!”
At least as far as the thought process goes.
For years people have been saying that the denial of climate change science is akin to the denial of evolution. Not that they are tied to together in any classical sense, just in the way that undesirable facts are pushed aside and critical thinking takes a back seat to just being critical. Now they are being tied together a real way, that could affect the thinking and science skills of a generation.
According to the New York Times:
Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.
Fundamentalists and corporatists have more than being politically right-of-center in common; both groups are also extremely tenacious. Every time creationism is shot down as religion masquerading as science, the religious right repackages it under an assumed name, and in less offensive wrappings. “It’s just Intelligent Design, it has nothing to do with any ‘particular’ religion.” Of course when it’s unwrapped, it’s still the Bible. And the corporatists that deny the science of climate change like to use a favorite of the fundamentalists – equal time. Whether a person is talking about global warming or creationism, equal time boils down to this: “We don’t like what science says about this, so we put forth that science doesn’t work…At least in this case.” So mountains of evidence are ignored, peer reviewed studies are tossed aside and the entire scientific method is forgotten in order to push a predetermined conclusion. The opposite of science in the name of sound science.
The advocates of torture use the same type of rationalizing that the fundamentalists and the corporatists use to come up with their desired results. (Hence the overlap in beliefs.) It’s also the same type of thinking that allowed for a 100% conviction rate of witches in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, albeit to a much worse degree. Considering where we are now as a country, this attack on reality coming from multiple quarters does not bode well for the future of our country.
Glenn Beck, as other demagogues have done before him, has capitalized on the ignorance and prejudices of his audience. He repeats ludicrous assertions about the Constitution and inverts the meaning of words, like “progressive,” knowing full well these people will not do the simple task of opening a dictionary, or the Constitution for that matter, that will prove him wrong. In reality, early progressives ended child labor, gave us safe food and fought for women to have a vote. In Beck’s twisted world, progressives started the ovens in Nazi Germany. He paints Hitler and fascism, the most right-wing person and ideology, respectively, of the modern age, as leftist. After he gets done disemboweling history and reversing the meaning of words, real history and real definitions have as much in common with his versions of reality as the “God of Love” did to the medieval God that demanded people be burned at the stake to save their souls. By enshrining this type of uncritical thought into a type of pseudoscience, taught in schools, we are guaranteeing that other counties will surpass us academically - and quickly.
In the past, even resent past, people used this type of thinking to rationalize their prejudices against other races. (Going to ignore the racists of today for this, because they don’t count as sentient beings.) The same non-thought that goes into bigotry goes into throwing out undesirable science. I am not implying that the outcomes are equal, only that the process is the same. The end result is known, and no amount of facts will change that outcome. But there are those today that use the excuse of religion to separate us from one another. They claim that sexuality is a choice, and maybe for them it is, but for most of us, it’s not. They ignore science, common sense and personal observation in order to hold on to the disgusting proposition that some are less than others.
We need real science and critical thinking taught in schools, regardless of how popular or unpopular the conclusions of science are. Until we can think critically and embrace reality, no matter how unpleasant it is for us, we will continue to have a bigoted, pro-pollution, pro-torture, superstitious segment of society. And that can’t be good.
Edit for link:
If the reaction to an attack is smart, forward looking and takes into account all the causes of the attack as well as any long-term goals that are beneficial, the terrorists will have failed. The first big thing the government did after the 9-11 terrorist attacks to ensure the terrorists were going to receive maximum effect for their efforts, was the PATRIOT ACT. A less than half-assed attempt to bring in Osama bin Laden and the actual perpetrators of the attacks, economic policies that hurt the middle class, programs that encouraged burning more fossil fuel and a war in Iraq soon followed. And of all these reactions, only the capturing of perpetrators is gaining any ground and heading in the right direction. (With caveats, of course.)
When the PATRIOT ACT was signed into law in October of 2001, there were millions of sentient beings, and one senator, who saw this for what it was - an over-reaction and a selling out of our ideals with the oxymoronic rational that we needed it to remain free. But even then, in 2001, a few weeks after the attacks, when most were still in shock, people knew there were sections of the bill so awful that they needed a sunset provision. Like the infamous Section 215, known as the Library Provision. Provisions that were just renewed under a different government - a government full of people that for years told us how bad these aspects of the bill are for the country.
As weak as the excuses were in 2001, the people that pushed the USA PATRIOT ACT through this time don’t even have those insulting pretexts to fall back on. And those pretexts were insulting. No one in a leadership position should be able to get away with pretending that they didn’t know of a historical pattern of over-reaction after a national tragedy. Now the outcry is muted compared to what it was years ago, and people don’t seem to be interested in justifying this renewal. Maybe after years of war crimes, attacks on the middle class, and the draining of our treasury, people are just on outrage overload. Or, maybe people just “get used to” almost anything.
Back in 2001 we happen to have been saddled with arguably the worst president in our history. Even a mediocre leader could have kept the country together, captured bin Laden, and gained alliances. And that leader could have easily pushed through programs that simultaneously helped our economy while weaning us off of fossil fuel. There is no telling where a great leader would have been able to take the country. Instead, we took the low road with Bush at the helm, and in the process we seem to have forgotten that it is our duty to improve society. We should not settle for whatever the banks, energy companies and various lobbyists let us have. After the attacks of 2001 we could have, and should have, made the country better. Now we’re finding it impossible to even bring the country back to the standards of the 1990’s. It is a very good thing that we are not trying to found a country in this environment.
A year ago many people were excited at the possibility that we could change the direction of the country. We were no longer going to have greed, stupidity and cruelty take the lead as our guiding principles. Circumstances have gotten better, but it is not even close to our potential. We should be demanding that trade policies be crafted to benefit all and not just multi-nationals. We should be demanding that people do not die due to a lack of health insurance, or go bankrupt due to scandalous practices by the insurers covering them. We should be demanding that green technology is given its proper place. And we should not let a reprehensible moron co-opt the 9-11 attacks to further division and push mean spirited programs.
What was true back in late 2001 is still true today. We can be so much better than we are now.
Re-post with a less confusing title. Think that shining a light on Beck's lies is important.
Glenn Beck does not just participate in your average, every day, run-of-the-mill stupidity, such as the “God sent this hurricane to punish the wicked” or “who did we fight in the Civil War?” type. No, Beck likes to mix his know-nothing tirades with insidious lies. Lies that serve a purpose. He doesn’t just get a few facts wrong; he turns history on its head. Nazism and communism become indistinguishable from one another. Hitler, who happened to have killed intellectuals and liberals along with Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, trade unionists, people of color and others, is being painted as a liberal himself. This is no accident; he is switching the labels of the good guys and the bad guys. Because as George Orwell said, "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future."
The year 2006 is when Beck started his television career on CNN Headline News. He was already known a kind of dimwitted hatemonger who made statements such as, “I didn’t think I could hate victims faster than the 9-11 victims,” talking about the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But his career in his special kind of malevolent inanity, a blend of idiocy and malice goes back to the 1980’s when Glenn Beck was working at the Phoenix station, KOY 95. Beck, always the class act, called a rival radio jock’s wife and mocked her recent miscarriage.
For decades the conservatives have worked at changing the definition of the word, liberal. The real definition according to Webster’s: “a : one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways b capitalized : a member or supporter of a liberal political party c : an advocate or adherent of liberalism especially in individual rights.” Or, according to Oxford: “1 willing to respect and accept behavior or opinions different from one’s own. 2 (of a society, law, etc.) favorable to individual rights and freedoms.” Sounds a lot like Thomas Paine – arguably the most liberal founding father - who Beck likes to think he is comparable. That should send people into fits of laughter, but unfortunately, some believe him. Now he’s working on changing the meaning of the word, progressive. The meaning of that word is as obvious as its history, from the progressives who worked on ending child labor and giving women the right to vote, to the progressives of today who are working towards equal rights for all, along with a living wage for workers. But somehow, just like Beck has managed to tarnish Thomas Paine’s image with ludicrous comparisons, so has he managed to paint Hitler and Mao Zedong as progressives.
The inverting of history and language should be as laughable as saying World War II caused World War I. But we have a portion of the public that is very gullible and a media that is more than happy, not only to let lies stand, but also to give the liars a microphone and all the publicity they can muster. It is beyond just irresponsible to give Beck a platform, given that in just the past few months Beck has talked about progressives and Obama while showing clips of Nazi Germany in the background. He has claimed a snowstorm on the east coast debunks global warming, he said that, yes Obama is heading toward eugenics. He said on February 5th that progressivism is the type of thinking that brought on the Holocaust, and that the first people in the gas chambers were done out of compassion. He has asserted progressives started Prohibition, when it was the left that ended it and the religious right of the day that pushed it into being. Plus, in his Star Trek like evil universe – minus the goatees - he claims the separation of church and state is a myth.
The biggest problem is, it’s starting to work. Any time within the past few decades if someone had suggested Hitler was a liberal, that person would have been laughed at. And rightly so. Now, a simple Google search with the combination of words, Hitler, liberal, Holocaust or killed in the search bar, comes up with numerous articles about how Hitler was a liberal, and liberals have killed more people than Hitler, etc. Reality is changing before our eyes. And while I believe Beck is eventually going to go the way of Father Coughlin and Joe McCarthy – he is just too idiotic and egotistical to last – it does not excuse those who are giving him a platform in the meantime.
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