Cool Bear Photos?

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My 23 year-old son took these photos in the woods on the south side of Mt. Adams. He and his friends spend an awful lot of time hiking the woods and four-wheeling the mountain roads around here. Few people get the opportunity they do to see large, wild mammals up close. Even those of us who live here year round.

Anyway, he keeps sending me cool pics and I’ll keep posting them for him. If you didn’t see his other picture from a month ago, click for his cougar photo. If you like these you’ll love that one.

 

 

 

 

Ed Reform: Seductive Arguments and Attractive Solutions

Today, all fifty states are under fire from a well-organized effort to totally discredit public education. The efforts come in a variety of guises: No Child Left Behind followed by Race to the Top; Standardized testing with built in failure; ridiculous attacks on science education with a push for pseudo-science teaching, such as Intelligent Design; Revisionist History; elimination of Hispanic and other ethnic study courses; privatization designed to ruin education, such as we are seeing in Louisiana; sub-contracting evaluations and assessments to private companies who have a financial stake in rating failure, such as we are seeing in nearly every state; the inflated data on Charter and Private school success. Republicans and Democrats are equally at fault here. Neither party can govern in regards to education. That is clear!

I have been a professional educator for over 20 years as both a teacher and as an administrator. While I am an insider, make no mistake, I am no huge fan of the system of education we have in America. While we don’t fail as many students as pundits would have us believe, we fail too many because in most cases we operate in the same form we used in 1930, 1950, 1980 and 2000, with little more than the cosmetic changes that blow in with political movements. Sure we have on-line classes now. We have more “accountability” while we end up with less and less local control. But not much real change has occurred in the past century. The entire system needs a dramatic overhaul. But if we continue to make changes based on misleading data and false storylines we will exacerbate problems rather than fix them. There is money—huge profits—in convincing the American people that schools are doing worse than they are but there is even bigger money in not really fixing the problems.

Below, I try to shed some light on many of the popular and widespread criticisms of public education.  I have written a long diary. But there is a lot to say and a lot of misinformation out there that needs correcting.

Anyone paying any attention at all will have come across the following statements at one time or another—and most likely has heard these things repeated so often that it would be hard not to believe them.

  • High school graduation rates nationwide are alarmingly low, particularly for ethnic groups.
  • American students are not prepared for college and need remediation in math science to be eligible for college level courses.
  • Because we aren’t doing well enough in math and science we aren’t graduating enough engineers from college to meet the current needs of American business.
  • American high school students do so poorly in math and science compared to the rest of the world that they are not prepared to compete internationally.
  • Overall, American public education is in decline.

What about graduation rates? The Official U.S. Dept. of Education Blog Site made this post on January 23, 2013:  

A new report from the Department of Education shows that high school graduation rates are at their highest level since 1974. According to the report, during the 2009-10 school year, 78.2 percent of high school students nationwide graduated on time, which is a substantial increase from the 73.4 percent recorded in 2005-6. The report shows that graduation rates were up for all ethnic groups in 2010, and that the rate for Hispanic students has jumped almost 10 points since 2006. http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsb0407/

So yes, the graduation rate is alarmingly low. It always has been. That is a tragedy. However, it isn’t new. What is new is that the public education system is working to correct the problem with more success now than in the past 40 years. Graduation rates are up not down! And this is despite the dynamics of an economic crisis and two wars. If we were scoring this one I would have to give it to the schools.

But just because we are doing better doesn’t mean our work is exemplary. One out of every four students who enters American high schools still does not graduate. The rate is getting better yes, but not at a fast enough pace. The problem here is that the popular and well-funded solutions being proposed will not do any better, and may likely make things worse. But schools are not doing enough, largely because they are buying into and are being force-fed a steady diet of medicine that only makes the patient worse.

What about the charge that entering freshmen are simply not as prepared as their predecessors for the rigors of college coursework? In a report published by ASCD it seems pretty clear.

Another measure of lack of college preparation is the proportion of students who find themselves in remedial college courses, often because they fail a readiness exam after they have been accepted. According to 2004 Department of Education data, 43 percent of all students attending public two-year institutions and 29 percent of those attending public four-year colleges said they had been required to enroll in a remedial course. And these data, the report points out, do not include the approximately 1.2 million students who dropped out of college that year. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov08/vol66/num03/Unprepared-for-College.aspx

However, once again the full truth is not as clear. Yes, there are more freshmen entering college who are not fully prepared. But there are apparently more freshmen entering college who are prepared, too. And the reason is so simple one wonders why we are even discussing this. More freshmen are actually entering college. A lot more! And that growth has been pretty consistent for quite a while.

During the period of 1975 through 2010, the immediate college enrollment rate [for high school graduages] ranged from a low of 49 percent to a high of 70 percent. Specifically, this rate increased from 1975 to 1997 (51 to 67 percent), declined from 1997 to 2001 (to 62 percent), then increased from 2001 to 2009 (to 70 percent). There was no measurable difference between the rate for 2009 and that for 2010 (68 percent). http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d11/tables/dt11_209.asp

But what about ethnic groups?

During the longer period of 1975 to 2010, immediate college enrollment rates increased for White (51 vs. 70 percent) and Black high school completers (43 vs. 66 percent). After accounting for possible sampling error, there was no measurable difference in Hispanic rates over this period of time (approximately 60 percent in both years). In each year between 2003 and 2010, the immediate college enrollment rate of Asian high school completers was higher than the rates of White, Black, and Hispanic high school completers. The immediate college enrollment rate of White high school completers was also higher than the rate for Hispanic students in every year during this period and for Black students in every year from 2003 to 2009. In 2010, there was no measurable difference between the rates for Whites and for Blacks. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d11/tables/dt11_209.asp

To summarize: More students are entering college unprepared. More students are entering college prepared. More ethnic students are entering college unprepared. More students are entering college prepared.

To summarize further: High schools are doing a pretty good job of getting their students into college.  Better than ever, in fact. Colleges are doing a pretty good job of accepting students they would not have accepted and taken money from in the past. And by the way, taking money for remedial classes is really big business on campuses. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/college-inc/post/study-two-fifths-of-high-school-graduates-are-unprepared/2011/12/12/gIQArZKnpO_blog.html

What about high schools and colleges not producing enough scientists and engineers? Doesn’t this one sound believable? For those of us who are old enough to remember, this is reminiscent of the “missile gap” of the 50’s. Without enough scientists and engineers the United State will fall behind all of the other nations that are trying to beat us at…anything. Much of this fear comes from a 2004 warning from the National Science Foundation that there is “an emerging and critical problem of the science and engineering labor force.” (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsb0407/)  Since that report was made public it has been echoed by publication after publication and has been mentioned in speech after speech. And America is worried. In fact we have specific measures designed to increase these positions.

But is it true? This response comes from Sharon Begley at the Daily Beast:

Let’s not exaggerate: science and engineering are not the new Comp Lit or philosophy, those undergraduate majors for which employment prospects are so dicey your parents practically beg you to go to a trade school instead. But about those claims that the nation suffers from a shortage of scientists and engineers—claims such as the National Science Foundation’s warning in 2004 of “an emerging and critical problem of the science and engineering labor force”—Vivek Wadhwa, founder of Relativity Technologies and executive in residence at Duke University, has a terse response: “It’s a lie.”

“Science and engineering are perceived as so crucial to our economic engine and national security, it’s easy to get people panicked over the possibility of a shortage,” says demographer Michael Teitelbaum of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. But those who do not have a financial stake in getting more students to choose S&E (the more job hunters, the less you have to pay them) are catching on. Science magazine recently noted “the striking discrepancy between the glutted market for early-career scientists and the numerous prestigious reports [about] … a looming shortage.”

A 2008 report by the RAND Corporation, requested by the office of the Secretary of Defense, concluded that “there is no evidence of a current shortage of S&E workers.” http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/08/17/or-maybe-major-in-comp-lit.html

And this from In the Pipeline, reprinted on the Discover web site:

1. Companies, in most cases, are not moving R&D operations overseas because they just can’t find anyone here to do the jobs. They’re doing that for the same reason so many other employers have sent jobs abroad: because it’s cheaper that way (or appears to be; the jury’s probably still out in many instances)—people in many other countries simply do their jobs for less money. And it’s often the ordinary grunt work that’s being outsourced, which makes the “we even need mediocre scientists” line especially wrong-headed.

2. We are not, as far as I can see, facing the constant and well-known “critical shortage of scientists and engineers.” There have been headlines with that phrase in them for decades, and I wish people would think about that before writing another one. Some fields may have shortages (and these vary over time), but that’s a different story entirely.

3. And that brings up another point, as mentioned above: while the earlier stages of science and math education are a common pathway, things then branch out, and how. Saying that there are so-many-thousand “science PhDs” is a pretty useless statistic, because by that point, they’re scattered into all sorts of fields. A semiconductor firm will not be hiring me, for example. http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2012/06/06/how_not_to_do_science_education.php

Summary: No there is no shortage of scientists and engineers of the kind the fear mongers and school critics claim. Sources as diverse as the Rand Corp., Discover Magazine, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, various scientists and college professors are telling us that this is simply false.

What about American high school students do so poorly in math and science compared to the rest of the world that they are not prepared to compete internationally? It seems that every news source in America makes this claim. Is it true that American students do worse than their counterparts in other nations? Yes. Or no. It depends on who the “counterparts in other nations” are. Certainly the results of recent international tests among 4th and 8th graders  show that students in Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Finland outperform the US. In the Asian nations we must remember that there is a strong culture of testing and rote memorization at the expense of creative and critical thinking. Finland has virtually no poverty and, while it de-emphasizes a testing culture, it has a strong culture of respect for schools and teachers.

So when we compare ourselves to our “counterparts” in other nations what is the most important factor? It becomes clear that poverty levels are the most meaningful variable. National Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director, Dr. Gerald N. Tirozz summarizes the data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), one of the main organizations that does international testing:

A more accurate assessment of the performance of U.S. students would be obtained by comparing the scores of American schools with comparable poverty rates to those of other countries.

Schools in the United States with less than a 10% poverty rate had a PISA score of 551.  When compared to the ten countries with similar poverty numbers, that score ranked first.

In the next category (10-24.9%) the U.S. average of 527 placed first out of the ten comparable nations.

For the remaining U.S. schools, their poverty rates over 25% far exceed any other country tested.  However, when the U.S. average of 502 for poverty rates between 25-49.9% is compared with other countries it is still in the upper half of the scores. http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2012/06/06/how_not_to_do_science_education.php

Summary: When we compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges we do very well indeed! The problem is not more testing. It is poverty relief.

So, is American public education in decline? No it isn’t. We are educating more students in better ways and sending more students to post-secondary levels of education than ever before. But that is not a satisfactory answer because we can do much, much better. We won’t get better by implementing ill-conceived plans that are built on false data. When we politicize and incentivize profits in the realm of education we lose sight of what we are trying to accomplish and we lose even more our grasp on how to make meaningful and effective changes.

 

Redefining Majority: The Conservative Crusade

Lately I have been reading an increasing number of blogs and comments blaming President Obama for not compromising more with the Republicans. I call BS. I want to start moving forward economically, environmentally, socially and globally as much as the next guy, but to place the fault at Obama’s feet is to disregard the will of the vast majority of people on issues such as gun control, immigration, taxation, Social Security, climate change, energy, and fairness to women. Am I a total apologist for everything Obama is doing? Nope. Do I wish some things were being handled differently? Of course. But none of that changes the fact that Republican obstruction is an intentional delay tactic that gives the big bold middle finger to most of America. This power hungry, arrogant gridlock in Congress in but one piece of the Republican’s great and terrible plan. The plan involves a simple dynamic, but will take years even decades to be fulfilled, and that is what makes it so insidious. Republicans are more than willing to wait for their long-term plans to hatch as they hold all of America hostage. They simply cannot afford to allow any business to take place in Congress until they have redefined the very meaning of the voting electorate. In the meantime… almost nothing gets done in Congress.

Conservative think tanks have for decades now been privately and nervously projecting the truth about America’s demographics: without voter numbers being reduced, the day will come (has arrived?) when Republicans cannot win at the national level. Redistricting, gerrymandering, voter suppression, Electoral College reform, Fox News–these are all designed to redefine the numerical majority of American voters. Not by presenting ideas that appeal to most people nor by winning anyone to their existing conservative ideals. They have concluded that they cannot increase their own voter numbers relative to the Democrats.  Their plan is to marginalize the legitimacy of the ever growing opposition to Conservative thinking by either a) making sure that the opposition doesn’t/can’t vote or b) reducing the value of the opposition votes themselves. And in the meantime nothing of substance gets done until the newly and narrowly defined majority gets back in power.  In their selfish righteousness they are convinced that any victory for the Democrats, no matter how beneficial to the nation, is bad for the ultimate goal of regaining power.

Paul Ryan is the champion of this. He readily admits that his budget assumes the repeal of ObamaCare. His budget assumes he has the majority. His budget assumes his party is the will of the people. And he is absolutely wrong on all counts. His budget cannot get passed. And he knows it can’t. So he waits while his party manipulates its way back into power.

But how do the Conservatives justify this near total lack of accomplishment, after all, their approval numbers flirt with single digits? Simple. They have a Crusade mentality that justifies everything. They are fighting a spiritual war against Islam and Socialism and Science and Enlightenment. (Remember that European leaders had no problem going broke to fight a Crusade.) There is something Messianic in their view–which is probably why they defensively attack Obama as a false Messiah. Conservatives are so sure they are right, and that nobody else is, that they live in perpetual denial of the opinions of the actual majority of Americans. Doubt me? Think Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry, George Bush and Dick Cheney, Pat Roberson and Rush Limbaugh. They are a diverse coalition of political symbols that favor a single political, economic, social and empire-building agenda. Some of them are “right” with their God, but they are all “right” with their corporate donors. In this modern Crusade, the strategists and disciples are Karl Rove and the Koch brothers and ALEC and the Five Supreme Court Justices who are anything but an independent judiciary.The foot soldiers and serfs who end up as casualties in battle are the Tea Party members and Fox News faithful and those who sit in the pews of Evangelical churches–and most unfairly of all, the rest of us who didn’t want a Crusade in the first place. The Captains and Kings of this Crusade either ignore majority views–think background checks on gun purchases–or claim the majority opinion is so evil that it must be denounced–think gay rights–or make up their own Dark Age thinking–consider global climate changes. Without question, the overwhelming majority of Americans have united views on these issues, yet the Crusaders ignore or deny this in their obstinate  tunnel vision. And they continue to block any legislation in opposition to their Crusade.

Understanding the Conservative Messianic mindset makes it simple to see why the Republicans refuse to allow the majority of Americans to get what they want. The only question left is: Will the real majority of Americans allow it?

Pretty Cool Cougar Photo?

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My son took this photo in the Mt. Adams area of Washington State. It was getting near sundown. Those eyes are not retouched. I don’t know, but I think it’s a pretty good shot.

He tells me he was about fifty feet away standing on a steep hill, just about even height with the cat.

The Small Town Hate Sign Strikes Again

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This guy really doesn’t like Democrats. I just wonder if he gets his messages from a service or if he thinks these up all by himself. I give him a little credit for being witty, sort of. What is it about people who make them want to go out of their way to insult more than half of the population? Not just to disagree with them but to hurl insults. Oh well…

Switzerland Is An Excellent Model for the Second Amendment: But Probably Not for the Reasons You Think.

Students in my Contemporary World Issues class have been have been engaged in some serious and at times intense debate over guns, gun violence and the 2nd Amendment. Frequently in those debates, Switzerland has been mentioned as the best proof that more gun ownership does not lead to more gun violence. I admit that I have read this many, many times in blog posts and have heard it many times on television and radio, and in the past I more or less accepted that argument. So, as is often the case, I had to do some quick and serious research to keep up with my students. Since what I found was fascinating, to say the least, I wanted to share a few Internet sources and pass on some information about Switzerland and their gun laws. Sources are cited at the end of the post.

Bullet Points (pun intended) on Firearms in Switzerland

  • Nearly every male in Switzerland goes through firearm training at the age of 20.
  • Swiss males are allowed to keep their firearms after the end of their military service at age 30. The fully automatic weapons must be converted to semi automatic before they can keep them as civilians.
  • Switzerland has universal gun registration on gun ownership.
  • Switzerland has universal background checks on all gun purchases.
  • Switzerland requires universal reporting of firearm transactions, whether commercial or private transfer of ownership.
  • Switzerland’s carry laws are highly regulated and very restricted. Other than militia members transporting their firearms on their way to militia training, very few people are allowed to actually carry firearms. And they cannot be loaded.
  • Despite the militia requirement in Switzerland, the rate of gun ownership (by percentage) in the United States is much higher than in Switzerland.
  • Males berween 20 and 30 years of age are required to own firearms in Switzerland because they are the nation’s well regulated milita. Switzerland has no standing army. It is their civilian militia (much like the intent of the American 2nd amendment) that defends their nation against foreign aggression.
  • The vast majority of militia members are not even allowed to store ammo at home. And for the 2ooo or so–that’s right only 2000–militia members who do have ammo, it is sealed and inspected regularly.
  • Switzerland’s gun ownership rate is only fourth highest in the world. Surprised?

In reality, and perhaps ironically, and to the chagrin of the NRA, Switzerland is a fine model for the intent of the American Constitution’s 2nd Amendment. They have a well-regulated militia instead of a standing army. They have universal background checks and universal licensing. They require firearm training before a gun can be owned. They have near total restrictions on the purchase and use of ammunition. In fact, they regulate and restrict much more than America does. Interesting.

http://www.politifact.com/rhode-island/statements/2013/jan/06/facebook-posts/facebook-posting-says-gun-rich-swiss-have-lowest-f/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Switzerland

http://www.ehow.com/facts_6766770_switzerland-gun-safety.html

NRA: The Re-Emergence of the Neanderthal Gene?

Every now and then something happens to make me consider the real possibility that humanity has evolved into at least two distinct species. Before you start writing your comments telling me that this is ridiculous, let me say, I know it’s ridiculous. But I like to think that my species entertains crazy ideas and is willing to reflect on the seemingly ridiculous from time to time in hopes that it leads to better understanding.

I first began to seriously explore this possibility when George W. Bush was reelected. How could half of the American people really believe that this guy was capable of being President of the United States? Clearly the most failed presidency since Franklin Pierce. I carefully re-considered  those people who could look me straight in the eye and claim that GW was a great president, and without blinking, turning away or cracking a smile, declare that they would vote for him. I wondered how their brains were programmed. How could they, humans who shared nearly every piece of the same gene pie with me come to such different conclusions? Was it all nurture or was nature doing something insidious to the top Primates on the planet? Were we, I wondered, reverting to a 25,000 year-old Neanderthal/Homo Sapiens type of competition for the top of the pecking order on our small planet? Yes. I suppose we are.

So I Binged some research and came up with some interesting stuff. I admit I had read about this controversial idea before just now, but you tell me, doesn’t this help make some sense out of the craziness?

…there are some commentators that think that Homo Sapiens may not have completely prevailed, that perhaps Neanderthal man still effects the modern gene pool. Yes, many reckon that far from eating Neanderthal man, we may  in fact have mated with them. It’s a contentious issue… Source: http://ezinearticles.com/…

Then, today I hear the spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, NRA’s top lobbyist (read Neanderthal), Wayne LaPierre, tell the American public, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good [Neanderthal] with a gun.” And I am more convinced than ever that there are Neanderthal genes swimming in the American pool.

Again, from Wayne LaPierre, in an effort to deflect blame from guns and bullets to movies and television:

“In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes.”

I could not agree with him more. He is absolutely right in his assessment. Violent movies and music, video games, the UFC with blood splattered all over the contestants and the mat–all are offensive to civilized society. But his conclusions and solutions are all twisted.  Only a Neanderthal could excuse the primitive image that looks back at him in his mirror. Truly, is anything more offensive  to “every standard of civilized society…a more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty” than gun violence? And his only answer is to get more guns into society. More people armed. More profits for the gun manufacturers. Wyatt Earp. OK Corral. Hang the horse thief and all cattle rustlers. Get a rope, Ma. Better yet, load the six-guns, I’m a goin’ to town. (Do those who long for the glorious days of yesteryear even realize that guns in the hands of the citizenry terrorized the townspeople? The first thing Wyatt Earp and others did was to ban guns in town!) I will stop here as I have written other posts on this topic and feel I am beating a horse that isn’t likely to get up and run any time soon…Write your senators and representatives in congress.

Merry Christmas.

Arming the Adults in Schools Is a Very, Very Bad Idea. Here’s Why.

First let me say that I am heartsick over this tragedy.  When my principal came to me and told me there was a breaking story about an elementary school shooting I was stunned—this is not the kind of thing one gets used to. When I heard it was a kindergarten classroom involving as many as twenty children dead, I was literally heartsick. I hurt. If anyone doubts the existence of evil in the world this was pretty solid evidence. Like every school in America these events cause us to take stock in our policies and procedures: If it happened on my watch should we hunker down in the classroom or should we take our students and flee as fast and far as we could? How do we further restrict access to the building? How much will we be talking about this with students on Monday? What’s appropriate, what’s needed, what’s too much? These are discussions that will be taking place this next week all over the country in schools both public and private. There are many conclusions and many answers, depending on the particular school and their particular circumstances. But one thing I am sure of: arming the adults at the school is a very, very bad idea.

The first parent I saw on Friday at the end of the day confronted me right in front of our library as kids were heading out to their buses. He said, “After today’s shooting, I have two words for you,” and he gave me the first and last name of a high school boy at my school. I’d been speechless all afternoon and I was beginning to feel comfortable there. But not this time. Yes, the boy he mentioned has had difficulties at our school over the last 7 or 8 years, struggling through his parents’ nasty divorce, living with a mother who works for minimum wages at the Wal-Mart so he doesn’t have the same “toys” as all his peers (sounds cliché but it’s true). He is socially awkward and he sometimes is annoying to teachers. But violent he is not. And he has come light years from his first days at our school, in large part because the administration has fought the adults who want him isolated, even expelled, just because they see him as “weird”.  The parent was completely surprised when I told him that what he just said was an awful and that I don’t want that repeated where anyone can hear it. He ignored my pleas and continued right on so I ushered him into the library where there weren’t any kids.

He started right in with, “If I have been here with a gun the first thing I’d have done was blow his fucking head off!” This coming from a recent retiree from the Army. 24 years of service with multiple tours in Iraq I, Iraq II and as a contractor in Afghanistan. He is from the warrior class. No doubt. And his first thought would have been to shoot…the boy he just named.  That his first thought even was to shoot anybody at all is bad enough, but to already have a kid in mind is exactly what many who want to carry guns would do.

And there is the problem. Guns kill people. Forget the cute slogans. Forget the NRA propaganda that absolves them from all responsibility. Guns kill people. And they don’t often kill the “right” people. These are facts we know. These are facts that are in the news every day. Every day.  I don’t think I have to review the research on all of that in this post. We know that countries with easy access to small arms are more violent. We know that thousands of deaths each year in America are attributable to guns—both intentional and accidental. We know that in the absence of 20, 30, 40 round magazines it would be much more difficult for those who are determined to do their worst to do what they intend to do. But today, I am more concerned with the notion that more guns somehow makes the country safer.

You see, the parent I was speaking with had worked for the school for a short time. After his military retirement we hired him on as a part-time bus driver. After two weeks of the occasional stopping the bus and ripping into students—literally terrorizing the youngest ones—we had to let him go. He made horrible decisions about who to discipline and who to ignore. He screamed at kids who had their feet in the aisle. He stopped the bus and yelled at kids who talked too loud. The many who cannot make good decisions about who to discipline on a bus route is NOT the guy I want coming into my building, armed to the teeth, looking for the bad guys. I fear a lot of good student and staff collateral damage in that scenario. So, give me all the arguments you want about gun restrictions and the second amendment and “armed citizens are safe citizens” bologna, my best response is that if we arm everyone, even more crazy people will have guns.

 

Has Romney Offended You Yet? Don’t Worry, There’s Still Time.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are counting on one of two things: either you don’t know or you don’t care. If you fall into any other category they have already written you off. Think for just a moment about the kinds of things you have heard from Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan. They have told you that the President cut $700 million  from Medicare benefits. Not only is that false, Ryan’s own budget plan makes real cuts to Medicare. They have told you that Romney planned to save the auto industry exactly like Obama did. False, and anyone who has read or listened to Romney’s statement at the time knows this to be false. They have recently made wild and exaggerated claims that they are for the middle class worker. Do I really need to comment on that one? And now Romney is running an ad that accuses President Obama of “selling Chrysler to the Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American Job.” What a load of horse-crap. Romney knows that no Jeep jobs are moving to China. But he expects that the voter does not know it. And the only job he ever fought for was his own. But my favorite line in the add was this one: “Fact-Checkers confirm Obama’s claims are false.” We all know candidates stretch the truth when campaigning, but Romney invoking the Fact-Checkers in his own defense is right out of George Orwell or more to the point, right out of Karl Rove’s playbook. So, if Romney hasn’t done anything to offend you yet today, stay tuned. I’m sure he is working on it. And if you are offended you are probably informed, intelligent and have a memory longer than yesterday. If you aren’t offended, perhaps you need to pay a bit more attention.

The Romney Action Figure: He Can Change His Position in Hundreds of Ways

Earlier I posted the comment below on a popular web site that gets a bit more traffic than mine.

“Republicans have one overriding strategy: say it first and get it out there. Let it run for a period of time and see how it polls. When negative response hits certain threshholds, certain specific responses are fed to the media. Different responses for different outlets. The usual comments are what we hear everyday: some version of apologizing for our misunderstanding of their remarks. Why anyone would vote for the representatives of this party escapes me. I try, I really do try to understand but can only conclude that they will say anything and with no shame whatsoever take it back the next day. Why would I believe anything they say? Any position they claim? Really, someone tell me why I should believe them.”

Anyway, I got a number of responses and many were from presumed Republicans It is possible that I am wrong on that. You decide.

wobrien861: “You have just described liberal Democrats with one exception; they SHOUT it out.”

Rusty Spitfire: “Wow. exactly the same thing I would say about democrats.”
mikenc is a slightly different response: “and they are no different than the democrats. everyone who is an incumbent should be sent packing no matter what party. its the only way to get our country back.”
And then there were the lectures like this one from grgfld1: “When cheering for someone turns into adulation, something is wrong. Excessive adulation is indicative of a personality cult. The cult of personality is often created when the general population is discontent. A charismatic leader can seize the opportunity and project himself as an agent of change and a revolutionary leader. Often, people, tired of the status quo, do not have the patience to examine the nature of the proposed change. All they want is change. During 1979, when the Iranians were tired of the dictatorial regime of the late Shah, they embraced Khomeini, not because they wanted Islam, but because he promised them change. The word in the street was, “anything is better than the Shah.” They found their error when it was too late. Just as we are with Obama”

Nobody gave one argument FOR Romney. Is that because they can’t? Because they just won’t?  Is their reading comprehension level so low that they can’t understand the basic question I am asking? The consistent response is always some variation of: I know I am but what are you? Open question to all Romney voters: Is that really good enough for you?

We could talk policy forever but really, really–does policy matter if there is absolutely no reason to believe anything that the candidate says? All three debates were fact-checked extensively. It seems that the only time when Romney wasn’t lieing or just making up stuff was when he was copying Obama’s ideas nearly word for word. But if he wants to conduct foreign policy exactly the way Obama is conducting foreign policy, how can he criticize Obama’s foreign policy? Seems awfully simple to me. And so, if Romney were to be elected, why should anyone expect Romney to do anything other than exactly what his donors and handlers tell him to do. His own personal beliefs seem to have such shallow roots.

Why should I believe anything Mitt Romney has to say? Everything he stands for changes with his audience. If he were a Hasbro Romney Action Hero he would be marketed as “having more positions than the Kama Sutra.” No we’d better not use that one. How about “more positions than the yoga chart on Jane Fonda’s wall.” With the story-telling (greatgrandmother’s term for lieing) so prevalent, if he was my own child I wouldn’t believe him. If he was my student I wouldn’t believe him. If he was my teacher I wouldn’t believe him. If he was my neighbor I’d be making a lot more money than I do right now. So, here’s your chance Republicans: Can you give me one reason why I should believe him as a candidate for President of the United States of America?