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On Tuesday, July 22, Glenn Beck spoke from some 700 movie screens to Americans who paid admission to hear him attack the “Common Core.” The “Common Core” consists of standards, offered to the states, defining the knowledge and skills that American school-children should learn at each stage of their education. Beck’s move here reminded me of “The Music Man,” the con man in the musical of that name who comes to an Iowa town to fleece the good people there. What Beck and the con artist in “The Music Man” have in common is that to accomplish their own hidden aims they tap into the anxieties that parents have regarding their children.
t-party vs. country club republicans
More than a century ago the “forgotten man” of Mississippi and across the South — the farmer, the common worker — decided he’d had enough of “Wall Street speculators who gambled on his crop futures; the railroad owners who evaded his taxes, bought legislatures, and over-charged him with discriminate rates; the manufacturers, who taxed him with a high tariff; the trusts that fleeced him with high prices; the middleman, who stole his profit.”
touched by better angels
There were superficial reasons—when he thundered on the political scene at the Democratic Convention in 2004 and then rode on the wave of that thunder to his election in 2008—to compare Barack Obama with Abraham Lincoln. There was the Illinois connection, for instance, and the gifted orator connection, and the “new birth of freedom” connection. Add to these the evident high esteem, even reverence, held by Obama…
dispirited liberals – part 4
Every human culture, it seems, has had some notion of the sacred, and has placed that notion at the center of its worldview. From this, we can conclude several things: 1) that a sense of the sacred – like other universals, such as language and music – is an inherent part of our humanity; 2) that therefore we can conclude that this sense has served the cause of life of our kind through the eons in which we developed; and 3) that the experience of “the sacred” …
all in this together
How did it come to this? How did our political life in America get to be so drenched in hostility? While reading an article about how “anti-environmentalists” are spending thousands of dollars to alter their vehicles to increase the smoke they produce, I came across this statement from one of that group, who call themselves “coal rollers”: “If [Obama’s] into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not.” And it’s not just the president they’re hostile to, it’s also those Prius-driving “librels” who…
dispirited liberals – part 3
But the sacred is something that Liberal America, by and large, has not been tapping into. That was not always true. One can sense the sacred in the words of FDR, for example, engraved in the granite in that memorial on the National Mall. (And FDR was not shy about going toe to toe against his enemies, whether it be to help make the nation a better place or to stop the predations of the fascist powers against much of the world.) That was then. But if one listens to the voice of Liberal America in these times…
world cup futbol
Dear Soccer: Congratulations! The World Cup has been truly great. You`ve really outdone yourself this time around. As it turns out, you really ARE a ‘beautiful game.’ You’ve had boffo TV ratings and you’ve inspired a resurgence of U.S. national pride. You’ve even raised our awareness of geography — such as the fact that South America is not really “… Alabama, Mississippi and the parts of Georgia that ain’t Atlanta” as many Americans previously thought. We learned other things too, such as…
dispirited liberals – part 2
Liberal America’s disconnection from the power of the spiritual dimension is not only manifested in this hopelessness I’ve heard from people. The costs of this condition go a lot deeper. Indeed, it is through Liberal America’s “dispirited” state that this side of America’s political divide has played an important role in letting destructive forces wield so much power in our political system.
lifting the veil
I am not an attorney. Indeed, the entire contents of this article is to be considered nothing more than what it is, an observation and rant regarding the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision and a potential unintended consequence thereof. As a citizen, I am entitled to make observations about any damn thing I choose. This is just such an observation and not legal advice and, again, I AIN’T A LAWYER.
dispirited liberals – part 1
Some of my liberal friends say they have lost all hope for American democracy (and a great many others act as if they had).
They see that the Money Power is wresting power from the American people and, with the help of the Supreme Court, making it ever harder for the people to retrieve what’s been taken from them.
As the US futbol team moved from regulation into that mysterious realm known as extra time during the elimination World Cup match against Belgium, I was attending the Richland (SC) County Council meeting. Minutes before the meeting kicked off, one of the council members found the streaming broadcast on his county provided laptop. Belgium scored and he was confused as to why the madness continued. In American sports, sudden death means sudden victory.
a court gone wrong
It is now something approaching settled law in the United States that corporations possess “personhood.” Corporations possess the right to freedom of speech and now, thanks to the Hobby Lobby decision, possess the right to a religious conscience and the right to exercise that religious conscience free of government interference.
Cochran's Mississippi Victory
The Lie: Up is Down, Night is Day. The dark spirit can lead people to see the world in a very different way than it is. There is indeed a very big problem with the Republicans, I say to the Tea Partiers, but it is the very opposite of the RINO problem you see it as. What a display of brokenness of consciousness, to see things as the very opposite of what they are! Thad Cochran isn’t aligned with the Democrats…
voice of the people
Alert Dew reader Bob Lamb suggested reposting “The Declaration of Independence, Updated” in honor of our holiday. We took it a step further – here are more Dew stories, which appeared around the 4th of July each year going back to our first 4th in 2009 – a pretty random and eclectic sample of great stories by some truly wonderful writers (apologies to anyone who feels left out). Click on the story title to read more. Enjoy. And please comment.
Cochran's Mississippi Victory
The Spirit of War. These unhinged Tea Partiers. We see they are unhinged because they are denouncing the “RINO’s” these days, trying to get rid of every Republican that is ever willing to talk to a Democrat, who’s willing to give up when the battle has been lost (like on Obamacare), who is willing to make the necessary concession when outplayed and not drive the nation into default. The unhingedness of the Tea Party — the great disconnect from reality — is also dark. It is the spirit of war. Conflict is all it will accept.
do it yourself
So, the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no Constitutional basis for agents of government requiring employers to provide particular kinds of health insurance coverage to their employees. But, I’d go further and argue that, if health services are part of the general welfare responsibilities of government, delegating those to employers is both irresponsible and inefficient. Adding a layer of middlemen in the form of insurance companies is bad enough. Expecting employers to pay the bill is adding insult to injury.
our artificial intelligence
Since we discovered rocks, it has been the desire of all thinking men to devise ways to kill from a distance. Drones are simply the latest step on that evolutionary chain. While still the stuff of special effects movies, remote controlled and/or robots you wear are receiving active research and development efforts as we write. So, whether the future foot solider turns out to be Iron Man or a materialized electro-mechanical monster operated by a champion video gamer situated in an undisclosed location next to Dick Cheney…
Cochran's Mississippi Victory
Too aligned with the Democrats? In the Tea Partiers denunciations of the Republicans, in the aftermath of Cochran’s victory in Mississippi, it keeps coming out that they see the Republicans as altogether too much like the Democrats, and too much working with them. Unhinged! Here we have a Republican opposition in Congress that has made the president’s failure its top priority from Day One, trying to keep him from accomplishing anything– not even CARING what kind of outcome would be best for the nation.
Cochran's Mississippi Victory
We often hear about the disconnect from reality on the right. Paul Krugman keeps exclaiming about the way his peers as professional economists, who are on the right, continue to generate zombie ideas (disproved but never die) and refuse to recognize when they’ve been proven wrong– contrary to every value of intellectual integrity that Krugman holds dear.
Here at Blue Virginia, Lowell Feld tells us, again and again between parentheses in the morning news report, how bat**** crazy so much of what we see on the right (think E.W. Jackson) is.
Something very interesting and, perhaps, very important happened in Mississippi last Tuesday. By now, everyone reading this knows that US Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi pulled out a remarkable victory in the Mississippi Republican primary for the Senate. He did so by increasing the number of black votes he received between the initial primary two weeks ago and the run off by something over 13,000 votes.
the choice is ours
Not until 1804 did the Earth’s human population first exceed one billion. Between 1804 and 2014, a 210-year period spanning just three consecutive human lifetimes, population skyrocketed: to 2 billion in 1927, 4 billion in 1974, and 7 billion at the end of 2011. What spurred such explosive growth?
It’s not accidental that the Homo sapiens explosion coincided with the advent of the Industrial Age…
“Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ [linking smoking with disease] that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy….” (Internal 1969 document of Brown & Williamson, a tobacco company, outlining their strategy to undermine medical science linking tobacco to cancer and heart disease)
I belong to a progressive faith community that is deeply concerned about the state of the Earth…
Is it possible for citizens to be bribed for their votes by a muffin and/or a couple of slices of pizza? I sure hope not. In my case, I was really put off by Comcast and “Ready for Hillary” getting access to New Hampshire Democrats at their state convention via an infusion of callories for breakfast and lunch. It’s hard to know what the party staff were thinking when they invited Comcast to make a fifteen minute presentation and the Hillary people comcast a full hour to flog her book. “Hard Choices” is a phrase no Democrat should use, since it inevitably means that someone other than the chooser is in for a tough time.
educator's lament: part 3
“You have to be confused before you can reach a new level of understanding anything.” — D. Herschbach (Harvard University chemist and Nobel laureate)
In the summer of 2007, I attended “Boot Camp for Profs” in Leadville, Colorado. For an entire week, a maverick team of educators from multiple disciplines — geology, chemistry, education, biology, and psychology among others — bombarded 30 college and university professors with the theory and practice of learning.
educator's lament: part 2
“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” — Wm. Butler Yeats
In the previous two posts — In Defense of Light and Magic and An Educator’s Lament: Part I — I argued that education is 1) the guardian of liberty, 2) the cornerstone of democracy, and 3) under siege in America. Today, we’ll delve into why. The primary culprits include neglect, austerity, anti-intellectual/anti-science attitudes, good intentions gone awry, and malevolence aforethought.
states have choice
The politics surrounding climate change is getting warmer.
President Obama has caused quite a ripple in this arena with his proposals to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent. He has taken a back door step to remove this issue from the do-nothing Congress, and exercised his executive power under the Clean Air Act to move toward fewer carbon emissions.
Like an amoeba, Rayonier is splitting, but not in the interest of promoting organic existence. Rather, the real transformative and productive endeavors, which informed the operations of the original corporation to convert trees into paper and other useful products, is being left behind, as the new moniker, Rayonier Advanced Materials, Inc., is clearly designed to disguise, in the interest of promoting speculation in Real Estate development. I suppose we could say it’s a matter of separating the doers from the seers.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
One wryly fascinating aspect of achieving "seniority" is that my senses have become more adept at finding free entertainment. Locating alternative sources of amusement has become almost a necessity these days. Daytime television remains abominable, cable TV is objectionally priced (probably by those same pirates who sell inkjet print cartridges) and the ransom one has to give up for seats to professional sporting events is unconscionable. Also, our local news daily, though not unreasonably priced is but a shell of its former self. It is no longer a joy to read. One amusing activity, I find, involves no equipment, no cover cha Read on →
My spouse of fifty years has a quirky brain. It looks for things that aren't there. Which is probably why one of his favorite poems is Antigonish or "The man who wasn't there," by Hughes Mearns. Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there. He wasn't there again today, I wish, I wish he'd go away... When I came home last night at three, The man was waiting there for me But when I looked around the hall, I couldn't see him there at all! Go away, go away, don't you come back any more! Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door... Last night I Read on →
Some are born lucky. Others are born rich or marry into money. Still others create endless streams of opportunity. And perhaps when we can’t answer yes to the aforementioned, we can easily feel entitled. But in other ways, the playing field remains level. Certain attributes of the human condition we have control over, starting with the meaning we assign to the events of our life. And yes, positive events lead us to assign more pleasant meanings. There is enormous manipulation, pursued in the name of profit, to get us thinking about our bodies with a “cattle mentality.” Once we buy into what we “s Read on →
Summary: Why does that the line from Yeats apply to America in our times? "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are filled with a passionate intensity." One important reason is that the battle playing out in our politics is fundamentally a moral and spiritual battle, and while the right is connected to their moral and spiritual passions (even though that connection has been made on the basis of lies) Liberal America is not. Much of that disconnection in Liberal America is due misguided beliefs, including: 1) that "value" is not really real, and 2) that there is nothing in Read on →