Sunday, March 26, 2006

Spring Cleaning

The past several days I've been doing intensive Spring cleaning, so I've been too busy and tired to blog.

Tomorrow we go on vacation out of town for a week. There is not only no internet access where we're going, there is no phone line -- which reminds me to add "cell phone" to the list of things to take. And maybe some games, like our Treehouse of Horror Monopoly set. At least there's cable.

I will be back Monday, April whatever. I'm tired.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Tweety Sees the Light

I just heard Sam Sedar, who's subbing on Al Franken's show, say that Chris Matthews said something interesting on Imus' show this morning.

Matthews was actually scoffing at President Bush's assertion that he never said there was a direct connection between Saddam and 9/11, and mentioned the letter to Congress which made the direct link.

I'll try to remember to check the website later for a link to the excerpt they played.

Dem Caucus Attendance Up

DemNotes has various reports about caucus attendance statewide.

Notably, Colorado Springs' Republican attendance was lackluster, which its chair chalked up to bad weather and typical lack of enthusiasm during a non-presidential election year. Yeah, right.

Most Democratic caucuses were very well represented, including my own precinct, which had 8 people show up.

Colorado Luis Closed

But he'll still be posting in places under his title.

Tancredo Flip Flop

He was for immigration before he was against it.

Fake TV Christians Hate Real Christians

News Hounds reports on Hannity & Colmes last night as they discussed, with Newt Gingrich, the Christian Peacemakers Teams hostages who were released. (You remember, the people whose captivity and impending possible deaths Rush Limbaugh found so gratifying).

It is really amazing seeing people who sound and act like actual Christians in the truest sense, people who really are willing to put their lives on the line for peace and love -- you know, like Christ himself did -- get blasted by other people who build political and television careers and get rich by claiming to be Christians.

Link to CPT statement concerning the release of the hostages and their thanks to the soldiers who rescued them through News Hounds.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

C for Confusing Caucus

I don't think I've ever lived in a state with a caucus system. At any rate, I've never participated in a caucus before. I was confused most of the time, despite being roped into being the precinct secretary. I just happened to be sitting next to the precinct chair, who slid the paperwork in front of me and handed me a pen. I'm also apparently a delegate to the general assembly on April 8, and narrowly missed being entered into the race for State House of Representatives.

I'm exaggerating, of course, but it was certainly nice to see a good turnout and so much political passion. I was also shocked to see a map of my precinct with the houses of registered democrats highlighted. There were a lot more here in conservative Centennial than I had suspected.

V for Vendetta Review; No Spoilers

Having now seen V for Vendetta, I am absolutely astounded at the reaction some on the Right have had. There was a time that conservatives were distrustful of government, particularly big government that had too much control over people's lives. No more, it seems.

The graphic novel upon which the movie was based was written during Margaret Thatcher's reign in England, so it isn't about Bush. It isn't even necessarily about Thatcher. Rather, it is a tale with a universal theme. It could happen anywhere at any time, given the right set of circumstances. In fact, it has happened, more than once. It is instructive, however, that some on the Right despise this movie as a fever dream of the Left, a projection of who liberals are and our hatred of Bush. They deny, through their dismissal of its themes, that such a thing has ever happened before, or could happen again. But such denial, in fact, is what leads to tyranny.

This movie is about totalitarian control, and the many means that are used to control populaces. Use of religion, external or internal threats, intimidation, political suppression, and the disappearance in the night of enemies of the state are all well-documented tools of tyrants, and have been used by both the extreme right (fascists) and extreme left (communists). It is about abuse of power, the cowing of a populace, and the belief that an idea, once spoken and shared (and emphasized by action and reclaiming of power), can change the world. It is a cautionary tale to remind us of our not so distant past and our propensity, in times of fear and trouble, to seek security at the expense of freedom and justice.

Political complaints about the movie seem to be knee-jerk and shallow. First there is the accusation of an attack on Christianity, as there is a state religion. Owning a copy of the Koran is punishable by death. Ignored is the historical (Inquisition) and current (Taliban) fact that religion has been used as a means to control, to root out dissidents, and to scapegoat. But that happens mainly when the church and the state are united. I'm dismayed that conservatives support forcing religious exercises on people in the form of school prayer, a pledge of allegiance which includes swearing allegiance to God, and singing the praises of Jesus Christ in school plays. Such blending of church and state inevitably leads to abuse of religious minorities.

The comparisons to Bush which seem so obvious to conservatives were not so obvious to me. To Big Brother and Hitler, yes. I had to force myself to remember to look for comparisons to Bush, who is small beans and will ultimately not be anything like Big Brother or Hitler. We still have a robust nation of dissenters who, despite having been attacked by terrorists, still love freedom enough to give Bush a low popularity rating, distrust his unsupervised spying program, respect democratic processes, and support reining in a government that shows much disdain for checks and balances. If Bush is trying to set himself up as dictator, he's just as incompetent at that as at everything else he's ever done.

As to the accusation that the movie glorifies terrorism, it is again quite telling that some conservatives describe V as a terrorist. It was the government in the movie that committed terrorist acts against the populace, not V. V's actions were directed at a specific group who had conspired, for money and power, to oppress their people. He blew up unoccupied government buildings, not civilians. The citizenry were not terrorized, the objectively bad government was. In fact, the populace was inspired by and supportive of V. Since one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, and the definition depends on where one's sympathies lie, it follows that those conservatives who describe V as a terrorist sympathize with totalitarian government.

There were many interpretations of the film in the review that I linked that I disagree with -- vehemently. But there was one misrepresentation that, when I read it, I thought would have made a hokey, stupid, worrisome scene. It was the scene the reviewer described as "conformist goose-steppers." I imagined a scene that showed the oppressed taking up the mantle of the oppressors. That's just inaccurate. Think Tianenmen Square, not Red Square, and if you really want hokey, imagine they are all singing "Can you hear the people sing/Singing a song of angry men/It is the music of a people/Who will not be slaves again."

I recommend the film.

President Pants on Fire

Bush has been trying to shore up his support, especially over the Iraq war. His news conference was filled with delusional thinking and lies that I considered fisking, but I've got stuff to do today (get car serviced, see V for Vendetta, go to Dem caucus).

But I got an email from Democrats.org that points out an egregious Bush lie from yesterday's news conference.
BUSH: "First, just if I might correct a misperception, I don't think we ever said -- at least I know I didn't say that there was a direct connection between September the 11th and Saddam Hussein."

And they correct it.
"The use of armed forces against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." [President George W. Bush, Letter to Congress, 3/21/03]

He was lying then, and he's lying now.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bloodless Revolutions

WashParkProphet saw V for Vendetta, and noticed something interesting about Guy Fawkes Day.
...one wonders if the founders really chose the first Tuesday following the first Monday of November to hold our elections without symbolic meaning. One time in seven, election day in the United States falls on Guy Fawkes day. In every other year, it is never more than three days from Guy Fawkes day, something which wouldn’t have happened had they made the seemingly more straight forward decision to hold elections on the first Tuesday in November.

After the bloody Revolution, was it a way to commemorate the fact that we have peaceful, civilized means of effecting change? We don't need to blow up buildings or assassinate kings, because we all have the power to overthrow ineffective, corrupt governments through democratic procedures, including things like impeachment.

Warning then: mess with our electoral process at your own peril. I'm looking at you, Diebold.

Science Says Cons are Whiny Ass Titty Babies

Hey, it's science, ("whiny ass titty baby" from Atrios).
In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months.

...

A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests.

...

Block admits in his paper that liberal Berkeley is not representative of the whole country. But within his sample, he says, the results hold. He reasons that insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority, and find it in conservative politics. The more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives to the way things are, and find liberal politics more congenial.

When faced with science they don't like, the whiny ass titty babies react predictably -- like whiny ass titty babies.
Similar conclusions a few years ago from another academic saw him excoriated on right-wing blogs, and even led to a Congressional investigation into his research funding.

But to be fair, unlike certain cons about the happiness poll, this is open to interpretation and isn't absolute:
...personality is not the only factor that determines political leanings. For instance, there was a .27 correlation between being self-reliant in nursery school and being a liberal as an adult. ... Seven per cent is fairly strong for social science, but it still leaves an awful lot of room for other influences, such as friends, family, education, personal experience and plain old intellect.

And finally, because I am so very fair, resilient, and confident, a bleeding heart liberal who cares about the feelings of others,
For conservatives whose feelings are still hurt, there is a more flattering way for them to look at the results. Even if they really did tend to be insecure complainers as kids, they might simply have recognized that the world is a scary, unfair place.

Their grown-up conclusion that the safest thing is to stick to tradition could well be the right one. As for their "rigidity," maybe that's just moral certainty.

The grown-up liberal men, on the other hand, with their introspection and recognition of complexity in the world, could be seen as self-indulgent and ineffectual.

I'm sure both sides are right to an extent. A critic, for instance, makes the point that left-wingers can be whiny and insecure, too, as I'm sure we've all seen. In China, the defensive, rigid people are probably the ones who gravitate toward the left-wing ideology and cling to the security of the party. But we're not in China, so I don't know that his point is particularly relevant to a wider discussion of American politics. It's still the same -- rigid, whiny, insecure people tend toward totalitarianism because it makes them feel safer.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Movie to Make the Cons Cry

I can't see V for Vendetta till Tuesday at the earliest (for those who don't know which actor plays V, like me thirty seconds ago, the linked review has a spoiler, dammit).

My husband tells me the cons have already panned it (link to con review in which he says the movie is liberal projection, hate- and fear-mongering), because it glorifies terrorism. It probably just puts terrorism in its proper context, as a technique. It makes Bennish's point for him, that one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter, which is the truth.

But I really can't judge more without having seen it.

Energy Savings This Spring

This is my first full year living in Colorado, and I am ready for warm weather. I lived in Florida for six and a half years, and I was looking forward to the day I could say that. Last year was the first time I anticipated summer with happines since I was in school, when summer meant something good. Northern California summer is pretty pleasant, and combined with no school is awesome.

In Florida, with the horribly insulated homes and humid weather, the energy bill was regularly high up there. Summers were high bills, winter were lower bills. Only in December last year, with the incredibly low temperatures, did we have a month comparable in cost to Florida, but the rest of the time our bills look like they did in winter in Florida.

So I'm very happy that this Spring, Xcel is expecting energy bills to drop 38%. Despite December's cold, this has been a warmer season, so there is a gas surplus.

Will the Crises Never End?

Last night at 10:30, my son started screaming because he had bitten the inside of his mouth in his sleep (the first time ever he's bitten his cheek). You'd think he bit his lip off, the screaming and crying, "It hurts too much!" So I had to go out to get Anbesol, and by the time I got back, he and the toddler were half asleep on my husband's lap.

Then from 12:30 - 1 am, the toddler was screaming because he couldn't decide where to sleep, and kept tossing blankets and pillows.

At 3:30am, the older boy came in to wake me up because he had an ear ache, so I took him to the ER. Of course he has an ear infection, his first one ever, actually. We got home a little after 6am and went back to bed.

I asked my husband to get up with the toddler at about 8am, but he just got the boy a bowl of cereal and went back to bed. At 9am my older son complained of pain again, and when I went downstairs to get him the Tylenol with codeine that we got at the hospital, I saw the toddler on the floor in front of the TV with the bowl of cereal sitting in a puddle of milk on the entertainment center. So my husband got up and slept in the recliner to at least nominally mind the toddler while I went back to bed with my older son until 11am.

My husband got back in bed for a nap, and so he and the older boy are still sleeping at 12:30pm.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Update StarFest 2006 Guests

I got a postcard invitation in the mail with an updated guest list:

Joe Flannigan -- Shepherd, Stargate: Atlantis (hubba hubba)
Tricia Helfer -- Number Six, Battlestar Galactica
Karl Urban -- Eomer, Lord of the Rings (drool)
George Takei -- Mr. Sulu, Star Trek
Moon Bloodgood -- StarFire, Pathfinder (new movie, never heard of her or it)
Dirk Benedict -- Starbuck, Battlestar Galactica; Peck, A-Team
Dwight Schultz -- Lt. Barclay, ST:TNG
Denise Crosby -- Lt. Yar, ST:TNG
Gary Jones -- Sgt. Harriman, Stargate:SG-1
Dean Haglund -- Langly, The X-Files

This lineup may change things a bit. In the top running, in no particular order, are Joe Flannigan, Karl Urban, Dwight Schultz, Gary Jones, and Dean Haglund.

If anyone at all from Firefly shows up, the frontrunners are getting dumped. Hard.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Offered With No Comment

The government wasted millions of dollars in its award of post-Katrina contracts for disaster relief, including at least $3 million for 4,000 beds that were never used, federal auditors said Thursday.

...

Of more than 700 contracts valued at $500,000 or greater, more than half were awarded without competition, often to politically connected companies such as Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, Bechtel Corp. and AshBritt Inc.

Democrats, in particular, in recent weeks have called for limits on
no-bid agreements, which they say have been awarded to politically connected companies at the expense of a slow Gulf Coast rebuilding effort.

...

“The Bush administration has learned nothing from its disastrous contract management in Iraq,” [Henry Waxman] said. “The administration seems incapable of spending money in a way that actually meets the needs of Gulf Coast residents.”

Republican Pharisees?

This is a quote from the Perspectives page of the March 20, 2006 Newsweek:
"Right now, I wouldn't vote Democratic if Jesus Christ was running." Judy Deats, a Texas Republican, who is standing by Rep. Tom DeLay in his re-election bid despite the fact that his association with lobbyist Jack Abramoff has made him vulnerable to political opposition for the first time in more than 20 years.

At least she knows what political party Jesus Christ would belong to now -- and also, what side she's working for.

"Unprecedented! Well, There Was This One Time..."

Allard to Denver Post:

The whole issue is (that) what he's proposed in trying to censure the president is unconstitutional. It's never been done before. Maybe one time before.

Next year during Bush's impeachment: "Trying to impeach the president is unconstitutional. It's never been done before. Maybe two times before. And that one time I voted to remove Clinton."

Remember the unprecedented attempt to filibuster judicial nominees?

But at least we know Allard is capable of making arguments rather than ad hominems, which shows his treason comment was calculated and purposeful. Here's what he said Tuesday on a liberal radio program, which he re-released in a statement:

"I have tremendous respect for and share Senator Feingold's determination to protect the First Amendment rights of every U.S. citizen," the statement reads in part. "However, in case of the NSA's surveillance of terrorists, I think Senator Feingold is barking up the wrong tree. We should be looking for new ways to better track and apprehend terrorists, not punishing the president for fulfilling his constitutional responsibilities."

But when he gets in the comfort zone of a right-wing radio program the next day, he knows the red meat button to press.

Shorter Rachael Sunbarger

"Having sex with farm animals is wrong."

Colorado Dems: "But you're having sex with a farm animal right now!"

Rachael Sunbarger: "This isn't about me. Quit trying to change the subject."

Your Liberal Crony Media

Ed Bradley (not the 60 Minutes Ed Bradley) was the general manager of CBS affiliate KSLA in Shreveport, LA, for a long time. But he quit just last month to run for mayor.

Recently, KSLA reporter Jeff Ferrell asked his former boss about campaign finances in a taped interview. Perfectly normal question, but Bradley got upset and started to rant. Bradley ordered his other former employee to stop taping. (My husband used to be a photog, and he always took great pleasure in defying orders by subjects to stop taping, or even better, to turn over the tape). The photog refused to stop.

Ferrell turned the tape over to News Director, Jayne Ruben, who promptly "lost" the tape and pulled Ferrell from all future campaign stories.

Via Newsblues (subsc. req)

Letter to Ken Salazar RE: Allard's Comment;Update, Response

Dear Senator Salazar,

I'm sure you know your colleague and fellow Coloradan, Senator Allard, said that, in offering a resolution to censure the President for his illegal NSA spying program, Russ Feingold has sided with the terrorists. More than that, that Senator Feingold has sided with the terrorists on more than one occasion.

I know you don't agree with that sentiment at all. It's ridiculous to compare legal, peaceful acts that are part of the democratic process to terrorism, and it is the height of irresponsibility to try to attempt to undermine our democracy by labelling political opponents traitors. Combating such rhetoric requires action.

When Jean Schmidt got up in the House of Representatives and called Rep. Murtha a coward, there was an immediate cry of outrage from Democrats. Ms. Schmidt had to apologize for her irresponsible words. Where is a comparable cry of outrage from our Democratic Senators?

Will you stand up to demand that Senator Allard apologize for besmirching a colleague's patriotism and honor, and for calling American democratic procedures, free speech, and the rule of law terrorist acts?

Sincerely,
Julie O.


***

Dear Julie:

Thank you for contacting me regarding Senator Feingold's resolution to censure the President concerning warrantless wiretaps.

I believe that warrantless spying on Americans is extremely serious. I also believe that Congress must insist on collecting all of the facts about any warrantless spying program and thoroughly accounting for precisely what actions were taken by the Administration before considering other action.

Censure of an American president has occurred only once in our history, back in the early days of our Republic, when Andrew Jackson was President.

Thank you again for writing.

Sincerely,
Ken Salazar
United States Senator

My comment: I will remember what John Conyers said at the Harper's impeachment meeting on C-SPAN. Let the process work. Use democratic procedures to deal with a president who would undermine democracy and democratic procedures. The fact is, censure and impeachment are off the table while Republicans have control of everything.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Second Letter to Allard RE: Treason

Dear Senator Allard,

The other day you accused fellow Senator Russ Feingold of siding with the terrorists for introducing a resolution to censure President Bush for illegally spying on Americans.

Yet you have nothing on your website about this subject. Do you stand by your comments? Do you believe a resolution to censure the President for an illegal act is tantamount to treason?

If so, what sort of message do you think it would send to, say, President Hillary Clinton that anytime there is a threat to the United States, which is always, democratically elected Senators such as yourself should be regarded as traitors for using legal, constitutional, democratic mechanisms for voicing opposition to bad leadership?

If so, did you also consider your fellow Senators Inhofe, Gregg, and Lugar; Representatives DeLay, Hastert, and Cunningham; and presidential candidates Quayle, Buchanan, and George W. Bush traitors for siding with Milosevic by criticizing President Bill Clinton during the Kosovo "time of war?"

I would appreciate a serious response to these serious questions.

Sincerely,
Julie O.

Shaggy Dog

One of the downsides/benefits of having children is being obliged/having cover to go see kids movies.

The boy and I are going to see the Shaggy Dog in a while. I hope it doesn't suck.

Update: At least the boy enjoyed it.

Paranoid Napoleon

That's how Keith Olbermann described sexual predator today on Franken's show.

I had been wondering what sexual predator's particular pathology was, and I think Olbermann nailed it, absolutely. He's a bully, that's obvious. But he's also paranoid. That's why sexual predator always threatens people that "they're being watched," that "we know where you are," "they'll get a visit from someone," or "they'll be taken care of." That's what frightens him, so he thinks that it will frighten everyone else.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Senator Allard Letter; Censure Resolution is Terrorism

Dear Senator Allard,

You said on FOX News Radio that Senator Russ Feingold, in introducing a resolution to censure President Bush, was siding with the terrorists.

I hadn't realized that censure resolutions were a new terrorist tactic. It's an insidious maneuver.

No one should ever side with terrorists, especially when they use democratic procedures to voice their dismay and outrage.

Thank you, Senator Allard, for siding with America against democracy.

Sincerely,
Julie O.

...Letter written using ProgressNow's easy online form. via Atrios.

What Was Bennish's Sin?

Once again the anti-intellect forces have prevailed.

A teacher's passion for teaching is curbed, and another class that's actually an exciting experience is destroyed. Children must not be taught how to think, they must not even be taught what to think. They must be taught to be good little drones.

This is not my bleeding liberal heart talking. This is historical fact.

[John Taylor] Gatto was voted the New York City Teacher of the Year three times and the New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991. But he became disillusioned with schools—the way they enforce conformity, the way they kill the natural creativity, inquisitiveness, and love of learning that every little child has at the beginning. So he began to dig into terra incognita, the roots of America's educational system.

In 1888, the Senate Committee on Education was getting jittery about the localized, non-standardized, non-mandatory form of education that was actually teaching children to read at advanced levels, to comprehend history, and, egads, to think for themselves. The committee's report stated, "We believe that education is one of the principal causes of discontent of late years manifesting itself among the laboring classes."

...

The famous philosopher and educator John Dewey wrote in 1897:

Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth.

In his 1905 dissertation for Columbia Teachers College, Elwood Cubberly—the future Dean of Education at Stanford—wrote that schools should be factories "in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products...manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry."

...

While President of Harvard from 1933 to 1953, James Bryant Conant wrote that the change to a forced, rigid, potential-destroying educational system had been demanded by "certain industrialists and the innovative who were altering the nature of the industrial process."

In other words, the captains of industry and government explicitly wanted an educational system that would maintain social order by teaching us just enough to get by but not enough so that we could think for ourselves, question the sociopolitical order, or communicate articulately. We were to become good worker-drones, with a razor-thin slice of the population—mainly the children of the captains of industry and government—to rise to the level where they could continue running things.


Bennish's sin was teaching children to think.

Monday, March 13, 2006

StarFest 2006 -- Neep

Coming April 21-23 to the DTC Marriott.

We went last year when Shatner was there (I saw the top of his head woot!), but my husband had to leave early to go to work, and we had the boys, so we didn't do much. It was my first convention. (BTW, if you get a chance to watch How William Shatner Changed the World, do so and get an appreciation for how much we all rely on geeks and nerds for our modern cool world. I'm talking to you and your "cool" friends, Erin.)

Dean Haglund's (The Lone Gunmen -- why do so many things I like just go away after one season?) talk was very entertaining. This year he'll be doing Star Trek improv with Stargate's Gary Jones. I looooove improv (when it's done well, of course).

We're taking the boys to the grandparents' for the weekend, and hubby's taking the day off. I truly am geeking out already. I'm even going to get an autograph this time, but I don't know whose yet. Any suggestions?

Here are the choices:
Tricia Helfer -- Number Six, Battlestar Galactica
George Takei -- Mr. Sulu, Star Trek
Dwight Schultz -- Lt. Barclay, ST:TNG
Denise Crosby -- Lt. Yar, ST:TNG
Dirk Benedict -- Starbuck, Original Battlestar Galactica
Gary Jones -- Sgt. Harriman, Stargate SG-1
Dean Haglund -- Langly, Lone Gunmen & X-Files

I am equally geeky for all of them, but keep in mind it needs to go with the rest of my autogaph collection: Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. I also got linebacker Floyd Rice's autograph when I was a kid, but that was really more for my mom.

Who's the Jerk?

In response to this "anti-religious knee-jerk left" nonsense


"... since the Left's hostility to religion and spirituality has become such a major stumbling block to the chances that progressive forces will ever win enough power to actually change the socially and environmentally destructive policies of the West, it becomes important to explore the roots of this hostility."

And this


... secular liberals, who made up about 16% of the Kerry vote (more stats here) seem to have a disproportionate impact on the party's image and approach.

And this
Finally, a religious candidate who actually deserves the scorn of the knee-jerk left.

I will let my judicious use of excerpts speak for me.

PZ Myers


... it's hard to imagine how frantic they'd be if we "secular liberals" were actually represented by our party. And that is a real problem.

We campaign for and vote for Christian candidates, so I'm not at all sure what more these lunatics want from us. Are we supposed to bow down and convert and tithe, or would it be enough to merely acknowledge the superiority of their Lord Jesus Christ and look sorrowful about having to go to hell?

Digby


It would seem to me that this entire argument is nothing but a political football used to shut down criticism and advance a particular agenda without having to debate the issues on their own merits.

...

We have enthusiastically backed candidates who are from every religious tradition and from every region. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were both born again, southern evangelicals. We do not scorn religious candidates, period.

Prosecutorial Misconduct in Moussaoui Case

Is anyone in this government capable of doing anything right?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sexual Predator!

Is Sexual Predator a porno about a rastafarian alien who molests topless coeds in the jungle?

Or is Sexual Predator a cheesy band that performs I Believe the Children are the Future at NAMBLA fundraisers?

Perhaps sexual predator is my husband's nickname for his little soldier, since it has a "low initial thrust" and "can be safely fired from enclosed positions."

No, it's just another googlebomb.

Sexual predator!

See ubikkibu's post at SoapBlox Colorado.

Benefits of the Unreality-Based Community; Update

Square in the Nuts summarizes a Boston Globe op-ed piece of shit
It's as if somebody macerated a bunch of Republican talking points in a blender, then decanted the resulting ooze into a clyster and inserted it in the author's right ear.

Linda Gosselin says conservatives are happier than libs because cons look on the Bright Side of Life.

Do I really need to point out that the whistling, singing Jews were still nailed to crosses and about to die? But at least they were happy, and that's what really counts.

...Mahablog has a post that complements this one, about Bubble Boy Bush.
...senior staff members insist that Mr. Bush is in good spirits ... he has become so inured to outside criticism that he increasingly tunes it out.

The President’s snowballing political problems are not the result of his being “off his game.” It’s a result of [going on] six years of flaming incompetence finally catching up to him. A ship of state as big as the U.S. will sail along for a while out of sheer entropy, no matter who’s guiding it. But not forever.

But at least Bush is in good spirits.

Update: The issue isn't that it is true that Republicans report to being happier than Democrats. The issue is why Republicans are happier than Democrats.

George Will has his theory (hat tip 6thcitizen): because Conservatives are pessimists, they are rarely disappointed or proven wrong, are happy to be proven wrong when they are, and believe in fending for themselves.

I think Will's theory reinforces my own: Conservatives are living in a fantasy land.

The poll itself makes no statements about why Republicans are happier, but it does say there are many factors that go into determining happiness, all of which are dominated by Republicans. (BTW, the poll makes the distinction between conservatives and Republicans; it's Republicans more than conservatives who are happier).

I'm not sure why it is that Republicans are happier, but it can't simply be that any one or combination of factors alone determines it. Some factors have more weight than others. For instance, education, wealth, religiosity, marital life and age, by themselves and in groups, are some of the indicators of happiness. But more than any other, good health is "the factor that makes the most difference in predicting happiness ..."

And the factor that most correlates with unhappiness is being unhealthy. If Universal Healthcare creates a healthier population, would more people be happier and become Republicans? Possibly, but only if Republicans supported Universal Healthcare. But I think the more likely outcome would be that more Democrats would report being happy.

The counter-argument would be that poor Republicans, with all the attendant social problems, are still happier than poor Democrats. That may be so, but I still question: why? I've known plenty of poor Republicans, and their happiness stems from their ability to bitch about how much wrong has been done to them. But they're still happy!

So what does it mean? Until we have Universal Healthcare with a healthier, happier population, we may never know for sure. But I still think it has to do with delusional thinking. People who can look past the garbage in their yard to appreciate the sun slanting through the trees will surely be happier than people who focus on the garbage. (The latter are also more likely to pick the garbage up ... but if you acknowledge the reality that more garbage will collect, you might get unhappy).

Today's Theme: Delusionally Happy Repubs
Delusional Smug Superiority
Ignorance is Bliss
More Con Happiness
Al Qaeda Heroes in a Half Shell

Common, Street-Level Crime

I had heard of the yet-another-scandal-and-resignation-of-a-White-House-aide, Claude Allen. But I hadn't realized it was for, "a scheme in which he received more than $5,000 in refunds for items he never bought at various stories [sic]."

He's a stunning underachiever, by conservative standards.

Delusional Smug Superiority

Another basis for conservative happiness (hat tip Norwegianity).

Ignorance is Bliss

I've heard of the poll that shows the majority of soldiers in Iraq want to come home within a year. But I hadn't seen this part of the poll, via Make It Stop!
While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”

How much trouble is the Administration in when the troops who totally bought the original, subliminal rationale that Saddam was involved in 9/11 -- and who haven't been disabused of that notion -- overwhelmingly support withdrawal from Iraq?

More Con Happiness

Via Digby, another example of those cons finding the silver lining. Rush Limbaugh's reaction to the kidnapping of four Christian Peacemaker Teams activists by Iraqi insurgents:
Well, here's why I like it. I like any time a bunch of leftist feel-good hand-wringers are shown reality.

I especially like Digby's deconstruction of a winger's defense of Rush, who says, "There is nothing hateful about enjoying the suffering of other people when that suffering is due to their own stupidity."

To which Digby says:
If it is true that this suffering and death serves as a sort of teachable moment, we should also "kind of like" the beheadings of the other civilians captured in Iraq and Pakistan. They are dead at the hands of the same people who are teaching those peace activists a lesson. And they too were told that it is dangerous to do what they did and they did it anyway ... One did it purely for money. Another lived there for years working for Lockheed. One did it to tell "a story." Another was there for decades doing humanitarian work. Should the lesson we take from their deaths be that they deserved what they got because they were too stupid to know that they might be killed?

The winger is partially right. It isn't necessarily hateful to laugh at suicidal stupidity. But Darwin Awards don't go to murder victims, because murder isn't funny. At least, not to a gloomy gus lib like me.

Al Qaeda Heroes in a Half Shell

What Conservative wouldn't be happy with such an active fantasy life?
...Umer Hayat admitted visiting several terrorist training camps, including the one allegedly attended by his son. But his account sometimes bordered on the fantastic, with tales of a thousand terrorists wearing masks “like Ninja Turtle” as they practiced twirling curved swords, firing automatic weapons and pole-vaulting rivers in an immense underground compound: a description that roughly tracks the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television show.

"I just always wanted to open a door on spies in training." -- Wayne Campbell

Saturday, March 11, 2006

More on Bennett Teacher

Bill Johnson's column had more information about Tresa Waggoner's situation in Bennett.
Some folks think the real reason Waggoner became a target was more because of the school's Christmas play than her playing 12 minutes of Faust.

Karen Grossiant, who resigned as Bennett mayor after Tresa Waggoner was placed on leave - saying it was "the last straw" - acknowledged as much.

The true problem: Waggoner did not put Christian songs in the play. This outraged some townsfolk. She had to go.

Cory Babi, wife of Bennett School Board member Mike Babi, had threatened Waggoner for not putting Christmas songs in the school play.
Cory Babi, the wife of school board member Mike Babi, called four days before the program and said there would be problems if there were no Christmas songs, said Waggoner.

...

After Waggoner showed less than 12 minutes of the Faust videotape, Cory Babi said her daughter asked about abortion and suicide. Babi declined comment Thursday.

"The connection is transparent. They lied and said Faust is about abortion," said Waggoner. "The only thing I can do is expose this as the injustice that it is."

Just like the Bennish case, it's about politics and punishing people who don't obey the Repug party line.

Bennish Conclusion

Jay Bennish was reinstated, with a warning to be more balanced in his classroom discussions, meaning to make sure he balances his comments that same day, rather than the following day or later in the week.
According to Lane, Bennish reiterated his commitment to school district policies and outlined for administrators the ways he has brought balance to his classroom.

For example, he said, Bennish presented the cartoons that have caused such an uproar in the Muslim world.

One day, Lane said, Bennish touched on the Islamic perspective. The next day, Bennish "put out the basic Western liberal line about, you know, this is a free society, everything is fair game, why would you have a religion that is based on peace and love going out and killing people over some cartoons?"

The fact that Bennish does cover multiple perspectives bolsters the assertion that Sean Allen just didn't want to have to listen to views which disturbed his comfy little world.

Allen won't be going back to Overland, and might go to Cherry Creek High School.

Columnist Bill Johnson makes a great point: this was never about the children, it was about politics.

TalkLeft -- Liberal Denver Teacher to Return to Classroom Monday
SoapBlox Colorado -- Bennish to Return to Class Monday

Sick

I was having problems with blogger and I have a wicked flu. My older son has influenza A, and yesterday was his worse day, last Sunday was my husband's worst day. Today and last night are my worst days. At least the baby had his flu shots, so he's barely sick.

Anyway, time for the exciting conclusion of the Bennish story.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Abortion in Mexico

WashParkProphet takes a sobering look at abortion in Mexico, where it is illegal, and compare it to the U.S.

Tancredo: Another One for the Ethics Panel

I've mainly been using the RMN for Bennish updates and Sudoku these days, so it was left to ColoradoLib to discover Tancredo's naughtiness.

Nothing at Tancredo's website about it, though. No room for mea culpas when there's immigrants to be bashed.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bennish & School Administrators

There was a "spat" over Bennish during a State Board meeting. The board is made of three Repugs and four Dems, and of course the three GOoPers wanted to string Bennish up. The Dems stopped it.

But David Lane feels confident Bennish will return to class Monday without being disciplined in anyway after his meeting with the Cherry Creek District today.

Lane said he heard nothing that led him to believe Bennish would be disciplined.


He predicted serious consequences if he is.


Meaning, if Bennish is disciplined in any way, the school district can expect a Federal lawsuit.

But we won't know until Friday afternoon, when Superintendent Moses is expected to talk to reporters.

Bennett Teacher Fired for Educating

In all the hoopla over Bennish, I totally forgot until this morning -- when Jay Marvin reminded me -- that a teacher in Bennett, Colorado, was driven out of town by drooling mouthbreathers for showing 1st graders a 33-year-old children's video about opera that included an excerpt of Faust. She was called a witch and a satanist, and put on leave.

J.D. Griffioen at Blogging Baby made a sad point.
People who believed in medical diagnoses of "bad humors" and phrenology and bloodletting were not threatened by the classic tale of a doctor who risked his eternal soul for earthly pleasure only to find it came at too high a cost. But some parents in Bennett feel threatened by the opera Faust.
The excerpt gave some children nightmares for a week! Eight minutes of sock puppets singing in French gave 1st graders nightmares for a week. That prompted me to call bullshit and place the blame where it belongs, on the parents and the effect of such religious indoctrination and fearmongering in small children.

February 16, 50 parents went to the school board meeting to support her, while only 6 sought to have her fired. She asked to return to class and was turned down.
"I asked Dr. Sauter why couldn't I come back because the majority of parents want me," she said. "He said it would be too disruptive to the parents and the students."

Waggoner said she told Sauter that she will pray for him.

"I've done nothing wrong. I believe you have to pray for your enemies," said Waggoner, who has made two CDs of Christian music and regularly sings at churches. "I told him I would have to pray for him so he could live with himself for doing something wrong."

Witchy woman, using her dark powers to "pray." You can do much better than Bennett, honey, though I feel bad for the vast majority of parents whose children are being dragged down by the idiot minority.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Colorado Gay Marriage Amendment

In January, 2006, Pam's House Blend reported on the expected push by Dobson's followers to put a anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot for this November. Michael Brewer, public policy director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender Community Center of Colorado, says

"This law is already on the books," Brewer said. "Therefore this is nothing but a political ploy. It is designed to motivate and get the core of ultraconservative voters to the polls in 2006."

It's also a ploy to get money, since we all know the measure would likely pass no matter what. After all, in 2004, 11 states had anti-gay initiatives on their ballots, and all 11 passed, including in liberal Oregon.

We got a letter from former U.S. Senator William L. Armstrong, writing for Coloradans for Marriage about the upcoming fight to amend the Colorado State Constitution.

Here's the text of the letter (emphases in original):


Dear Friends,

This November, you will have the opportunity to cast a crucial vote in support of an amendment to the Colorado State Constitution that will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

Without this amendment, Colorado is exposed to the danger that an activist judge will change our common sense definition of marriage. We know that we have a battle on our hands, but we are devoted to protecting and promoting the value of the traditional family.

Over the next several months, you will see our campaign supporters spreading our message in neighborhoods and communities across Colorado. We must be prepared, and we will need your support to win.

A gay activist who lives in Colorado and who has provided funding to advance the homosexual agenda around the country vows to spend as much as $30 million to fight against this amendment here in his home state.

Professional consulting groups have warned us that we will need at least $6 million to counteract the staggering force of our opposition. Because we do not have a huge network of special interest groups from which to draw money, we are asking to individuals like you to offer us what you can TODAY!

You have a chance to help preserve the sanctitiy of marriage and protect our children and our families. We need every person who receives this letter to respond with a gift of $35, $50, or even $100.

Big or small, your contribution is greatly appreciated.

Talk to your neighbors, congregation, friends, and co-workers, and relay the importance of making the largest contribution possible.

Together, let's defend the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, in an effort to protect the American family.

Bill Armstrong
U.S. Senator 1979-1991

P.S. You can make a difference in preserving the traditional definition of marriage. Any contribution that you can make will be extremely helpful. From $25.00 to $5,000.00, your contribution will go toward a great effort. Please don't delay!

Mail in your contribution today, as this most important campaign is in full swing.




Paid for by Coloradans for Marriage


Could the "gay activist who lives in Colorado" be Tim Gill?

... Janus Online questions the veracity of Dr. Dobson's group.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The First Step

Georgia10 at Daily Kos passes on Senator Rockefeller's words which illustrate why changing the political make up of the Congress (both houses, I say) is so crucial to our democracy.
``[The Senate Intelligence] committee is basically under control of the White House,'' Rockefeller told reporters after the two-hour meeting today in Washington [in which they voted to not investigate the WH spying program]. ``It's an unprecedented bout of political pressure from the White House.''

Whatever the candidate's positions -- such as pro-life candidate Bill Ritter -- if he has a "D" after his name, vote for him. Control of the Congress, right now, is the paramount issue.

Judge Humor

Via WashParkProphet.
Before the court is a motion entitled “Defendant’s Motion to Discharge Response to Plaintiff’s Response to Defendant’s Response Opposing Objection to Discharge.”

...

The Defendant’s motion is accordingly denied for being incomprehensible.

The gold is found in the footnote.
1 Or, in the words of the competition judge to Adam Sandler’s title character in the movie, “Billy Madison ...”

Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I've ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Bennish, Unions, Joss Whedon's Serenity

It's like playing Six Degrees of Joss Whedon, isn't it?

Richard Myers also passed along a listserv (no link) from TPM regular, Nathan Newman, who writes about union issues.

Newman wrote about why the union is not backing Bennish with resources and support:

...spending scarce funds on the issue, especially in states like Colorado where no teacher has to join the union, would create a massive burden on the small number of dues paying members to shoulder. In Colorado, the rightwing Governor Bill Owens used an executive order to deny unions the ability to collect dues through payroll deductions and they have been scrambling to keep membership up -- they've lost fifty to seventy percent of union membership in the last couple of years.

I was also delighted to find an article by Newman about Joss Whedon -- Union Hero, which has fun insider information about Hollywood film financing:

...Whedon has made a big budget sci-fi film for the comparatively low price of $50 million -- a requirement for him to revive his baby.

How'd he do it? Not by running overseas to some low-wage location but by sticking at home in high-wage unionized Hollywood.

...

The executive producer of the show, David Lester, gave the example of building the large set of the show, the spaceship Serenity, which was economic precisely because it was done union.

...

The [L.A. Times] article is fascinating in outlining how a high-wage economy creates an ecology of high skill workers who can flexibly work on multiple projects.


Who would have thought outsourcing is not as economical and positive for the U.S. as Repugs would have us believe?

Really, does this Admin and its supporters do anything that would actually be a benefit for the U.S., either in the short-term or the long-term?

Buy Serenity now, sidebar on the right.

More Bennish Links

SoapBlox Colorado's Young Angry Liberal, EMRosa -- how can we trust Dems to back us up if they ignore Bennish? (update: Several commenters who initially argued against Bennish have re-evaluated their positions in light of emerging, balanced presentation of evidence.)

UCLA Bruin Editorial -- (passed on by Richard Myers) "To suggest he is indoctrinating his class implies high school students are so passive that they'll swallow everything and anything their teachers say without seeking information of their own accord. That not only insults high school students, but it sends a contradictory message to today's youth: Society blames you for being politically apathetic, but it'll coddle you when anything that resembles a political discussion occurs."

...Smile At Me -- Allen, who exercised his free speech, sought to suppress Bennish's.

...Skippy the Bush Kangaroo -- Skippy, a former Aurora student, discovers the often overlooked details.

Evil Mommy -- one of my local blogs (she lives pretty close to me), realizes she has good instincts for sniffing out a suspicious circumstance.

Democratic Senators Represent More Americans -- notices the increasing support for Bennish, and mentions Me (I don't know Jay Bennish personally, or anyone who does).

Media Needle -- "The increasing incidents of classroom spying are another symptom of extremist right wing ideology, meant to reform what they view as an unraveled social fabric, which has diminished their economic and social advantage, and to quell any dissent from their plan. As such, they take inspiration from role models who advocate techniques such as domestic spying, as means of retaining the upper hand in policy making, in order to benefit an elite ruling class."

Mel's Diner -- a basic attack on freedom of speech.

Thought Alarm -- "Is it really worth harming a mind that hasn't been used in 16 years to try to get a teen ager to think about an issue? And isn't Bennish a little late in comparing Bush to Hitler? That is so 2005 (see previous blogs)."


See also:
Bennish Links
Bennish Transcript
Bennish Today Show Transcript

Bennish Decision Postponed

In the RMN, after the TV interview, the district decided to extend the investigation:
The district received phone calls from people who have something they think may be pertinent to the investigation, district spokeswoman Tustin Amole said.

Highlights of the Bennish Interview

Three points that emphasize that the excerpt Sean Allen taped has been taken out of context, along with my suspicion that Allen set Bennish up.

My class syllabus clearly outlines all of the material that will be covered, this is signed by parents, this is registered with the school, it's been approved by the school.

...

Well, you know, the lecture initially was an introduction to world geography and we were covering very stereotypical terms, like mental mapping and cultural landscapes and I was receiving questions from Sean as well as from other students trying to get me to respond to the State of the Union Address that was the night before, and I explained to the students that, in the case of the State of the Union, this is applicable to a world geography class, because for many people around the world this speech might impact their lives moreso than the speeches that their own leaders give.

...

And I would like to reiterate also that all of my students are encouraged to take those types of things and go home, reflect on that, and look at other current events and get extra credit regardless of what their viewpoints are.

Bennish Today Show Transcript



(The link is gone, and I don't know where to find another. Sorry. Crooks and Liars doesn't even have it.)



Lauer: And Jay Bennish is here for his first interview. Mr. Bennish, good to see you, good morning.

Bennish: Good morning.

Lauer: You should say right off the bat, I know you think that this one particular excerpt of this lesson, this lecture, has been played over and over again, and perhaps it's been taken out of context, because this was a much longer discussion, a 50 minute class. But do you understand why there's an uproar over this?

Bennish: Sure, of course. I mean I think it's only natural, especially the way it's been presented, uh, that people are going to be upset. And this country is a lively democracy. And people are entitled to their various opinions.

Lauer: Is it being presented incorrectly?

Bennish: In my opinion, yes.

Lauer: Alright, give me your side, then, before I play the tape.

Bennish: Well, the first thing I'd like to do is just say thank you so much to all of the students, and my family and friends who've been so supportive to me over these past couple of weeks. It really means a lot to me to see the overwhelming students, the overwhelming number of students come out and, to my defense.

Lauer: And yet, you're sitting here as a guy who's on paid leave, so obviously the school board is investigating this closely. They wanna know if you violated school policy on presenting balanced viewpoints, and even intimidating students. Let me play the tape and then we can talk about it on the other side.

[Graphic and audio]: ... it is our duty as Americans to use the military to go out into the world and make the whole world like us. Sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler use to say.We're the only ones who are right. Everyone else is backwards. And it's our job to conquer the world and make sure they live just like we want them to. Now, I'm not saying that Bush and Hitler are exactly the same. Obviously, they are not. Ok. But there are some eerie similarities to the tones that they use.

Lauer: Again, that's one portion of a much larger discussion, but you don't make statements like that without looking for a reaction. The reaction you got, is it what you expected?

Bennish: From the students, yes. From the national media and the attention from people all over the country, obviously not. You know, my job as a teacher is to challenge students to think critically about issues that are affecting our world and our society. And, you know, the process of cognitive dissonance is one way to activate their minds, and to get them to think about these various things.

Lauer: Is that role, to take on that role as a teacher, to get students to think, should teachers, in your opinion, be allowed to say anything? Pure freedom of speech?

Bennish: I certainly think there could be some constraints to what teachers would say, but everything that was discussed in the class fits within the curriculum of the class. My class syllabus clearly outlines all of the material that will be covered, this is signed by parents, this is registered with the school, it's been approved by the school...

Lauer: Had you gotten complaints from students, had parents called saying my student's not comfortable with some of the messages you're delivering in class?

Bennish: No, I have not, and, you know, like you said, and I would like to reiterate that this is twenty minutes...most people aren't listening to the entire tape ... And this is twenty minutes out of a 50 minute calss, and the rest of the class provides the balance.

Lauer: The family here, the student's family, didn't go to the school board with this tape.

Bennish: They never contacted me, and they have still never contacted me with any type of concerns.

Lauer: They basically shopped it around to conservative media outlets, and when they finally released it to one it created an uproar. And on the tape you can hear Sean Allen asking you questions that seem to be egging you on a little bit. Do you feel you were set up?

Bennish: Well, you know, the lecture initially was an introduction to world geography and we were covering very stereotypical terms, like mental mapping and cultural landscapes and I was receiving questions from Sean as well as from other students trying to get me to respond to the State of the Union Address that was the night before, and I explained to the students that, in the case of the State of the Union, this is applicable to a world geography class, because for many people around the world this speech might impact their lives moreso than the speeches that their own leaders give.

Lauer: And after the portion that we heard you did say something else, and, in fairness, I want to play that portion as well.

[graphic & audio] Bennish: I'm not in any way implying that you should agree with me. I don't even know if I'm necessarily taking a position. But what I'm trying to get you to do is to think about these issues more in depth, and not just take things from the surface. And I'm glad you asked all your questions because they're good, legitimate questions. And hopefully that allows other people to think about some of those things, too.

Lauer: So after comparing Bush and loosely to Hitler and questioning the legality of the war in Iraq, and stating the U.S. is one of the most violent nations on Earth, is that enough of a disclaimer, in your opinion?

Bennish: Well, like I said, this is a small section of one class. You know, my job as a social studies teacher is to argue alternative perspectives and viewpoints so that students are aware of those point of views. They do not necessarily reflect my own views, they are simply thrown out there to encourage critical thought so that students are aware that those views do exist in the world, and that they can then contemplate them and decide to make up their own mind. And I would like to reiterate also that all of my students are encouraged to take those types of things and go home, reflect on that, and look at other current events and eget extra credit regardless of what their viewpoints are.

Lauer: Let me just make a point that Sean Allen's family now says they didn't want to get you fired, they don't want you fired. Do you think you'll be reinstated, and would you welcome Sean Allen back into your class if you are?

Bennish: Of course I would. Like you heard me say on the tape, until this all happened, I really thought Sean was asking good questions and that allowed other students to hear that particular viewpoint, and it just adds to the whole dynamic of the critical thought that was taking place.

Lauer: Jay Bennish. Jay, good to have you here, thanks very much.

End recording.

See also:
Bennish Transcript
More Bennish Links
Bennish & School Administrators

What Does Bennish Think?

The popular argument against Jay Bennish is that he was passing off his own views as lecture points. The problem is, we don’t know that Jay Bennish actually does hold those views. It seems to me that there is very little opinion which can be attributed to Bennish himself.

He states directly that he thought Bush’s SOTU had the tone of a Hitler speech. I think that is the only time he truly shares his own opinion. And he does state it as opinion, not fact.

There are other times he seems to share his opinions, like that the U.S. is the most violent nation on Earth. But those are actually facts that may be disputed (a more accurate and fair statement may have been “The U.S., considered by many to be the greatest democracy on Earth, is one of the most violent nations on Earth).

He suggests by implication what he may think, if you jump to conclusions — like that the Iraq war may have been started mainly for profit, or that capitalism may be inhumane. But those, if the context of the entire class were known, may actually be opinions of others which he passes on. He was talking about Venezuela when the recording started. Could he have been referring to why people like Hugo Chavez would urge the world to transcend capitalism?

Other opinions he shared, such as that the United States and Israel are terrorists, are definitely attributed to others.

What is always left out when Bennish is being castigated for indoctrinating students and not fostering critical thinking is the fact that the students were expected to research, analyze, and dissect everything said in class, and write a paper or make an oral argument for extra credit.

(Another comment on someone else's blog that I liked so much, I reposted it here.)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Bennish to Break Silence

Jay Bennish is scheduled to appear on NBC's Today show tomorrow, Tuesday, March 7, so we'll be able to see the current Bennish, not the one from his high school yearbook. Also, the Cherry Creek School District should be having a press conference either Tuesday afternoon or early Wednesday about the outcome of the investigation.

And despite speaking up nine times on the recording he himself made, actually being encouraged by Bennish, who used a calm tone of voice to say things like "I think that's a good point," and "I'm glad you asked all of your questions, 'cause they're all very good, legitimate questions;" despite the fact that Bennish was providing fodder for either a written or oral argument in class that, if presented cogently and with support, would earn students extra credit [from Bennish's lawyer, on TV news, no link], Sean Allen has the nerve to claim
he never had a chance to bring up political viewpoints that were different from Bennish's and other students in his class also felt uncomfortable speaking up.

I Called It

As I predicted, the Administration is using a weasel in a CYA attempt. It's pretty pathetic, really.

Media Matters for America explains why.
First, Bush himself reportedly raised the question of levee breaches as the hurricane hit on August 29, 2005, as indicated by a portion of the videotape that Myers played earlier in the segment.

Second, in the early morning of August 29, just before Katrina hit land, the Department of Homeland Security warned the White House that, based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's July 2004 "Hurricane Pam" planning exercise, Katrina could cause levee breaching as well as overtopping.

And third, preliminary engineering findings from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Lousiana State University (LSU) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) have stated that erosion from overtopping in fact caused many of the levee breaches.

Repug Priorities

Liberal teachers challenging students' preconceptions, conventional wisdom and indoctrination while inviting an exercise of free speech: Never! say Republics.

Conservative Christian teachers having sex with students: [crickets chirping]! say Republics. (hat tip Republicans for Satan)

Bennish Stifled Allen's Speech?

"Where's Sean's free speech?" asks his mother:

Bennish, inviting a free exercise of speech in class: 'I'm throwing all this out to you guys. I want you guys to write about what I've said. I want you to take it apart. I want you to criticize it. I want you to analyze it, and if you do that I will give you extra credit. It doesn't matter what your position is - you can agree with me; you can disagree with me.'

Sean Allen, exercising free speech in class:
  1. Isn't there a difference of, of, having Hamas being like, we wanna attack Israelis because they're Israelis, and having us say we want to attack people who are known terrorists? Isn't there a difference between saying we're going to attack innocents and we're going to attack people who are not innocent?
  2. Well, when people attack us on our own soil and are actually attempting to take American lives and want to take American lives, whereas, Israelies in this situation, aren't saying we want to blow up Palestine...
  3. We gave it to them.
  4. But is it [just] to say it's [ok] to attack Israel? If it's ok to attack known terrorists, it's ok to attack Israel?
  5. But we did not have the intention of killing innocent people. We had the intention of killing an al Qaeda terrorist.
  6. So, you're saying the U. S. has the intention to kill innocent people?
  7. But what gain do we get from killing innocent people in the middle east? What gain does that pose to us? [ed: from Malkin transcript]
  8. There's more in that. He stated that he's trying to kill innocents ...
  9. That we, that, that we were the ones that were attacked first. On September 11th, 2001, we were the ones that were attacked. We were not attacking, we were not attacking anybody until that point, then we said, okay, we're going to go to Afghanistan, then we said, okay, the Iraqi government has ties with al Qaeda, we're gonna go into Iraq. We were the ones that were attacked.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Roboprof



And you thought Professor Kingsfield was tough.

Bennish Links

Most of the results from Bennish searches yield anti-Bennish posts, so I'm going to link to whatever pro-Bennish -- or at least fairly considered -- posts I can find.

And, yup, ten pages of Google returns these three posts.
SoapBlox Colorado -- My post about the subject over there.

Good Students -- elemental visions notices there was ample opportunity for opposite views in the classroom.

The Smirking Chimp -- compares Sean Allen to Thought Police snitch in 1985.


A few from Technorati:
Lee Moyer Liverjournal -- points out pro-Bush comments wouldn't have raised such a shitstorm.

Daily Kos post by Buckley Roberts -- it was one small excerpt from one class which did in fact include an opportunity for dissenting opinions.

Everybody Seems to Be Kerbabbled -- why shouldn't students be challenged?

The Battler -- outrage over Bennish is manufactured propaganda.

Democratic Senators Represent More Americans -- partisans try to shut out speech they don't want to hear.

Life As We Know It -- Dual-Aussie citizen with take on free speech.

The Butch Stroll -- issue blown out of proportion, Bennish not propagandizing.

BiblioSquirrel -- "For folks who constantly complain about what a piss poor job public education does, they sure are quick to believe that whatever comes out of a teacher's mouth is what their kids will clutch to their grimy bosoms and remember forever and always." Heh, indeedy (<-- there it is). ...More links: South(west) Paw -- points of discussion seem fair.

TPM Cafe -- "A tenth grade teacher dreams of young citizens thinking for themselves. He challenges with provocative examples, yet asks them to form their own opinions."

...Another: MikeFitz with overflow bit set -- (is that Aussie slang? [nope, Mike says it's computerese. Link fixed]) sometimes you need to be at a distance to gain some perspective, makes good points about it.

See Also:
More Bennish Links
Bennish Transcript
Bennish Today Show Transcript

What Kind of Honors Student is Sean Allen?

I made this argument over at Soapblox Colorado, and I liked it so much, I thought I'd post it here (mainly I post things for my husband to read, and he doesn't read the comments over there).
I'm sure as were most of us who comment here, I was in honors classes in high school. Most everybody in those classes were exceptionally smart, capable of discourse, had knowledge of the world beyond MTV, and could form their own opinions. Anybody remember forensic debate? Argue with some of those tenth graders.

It is also very obvious that Bennish's classroom has an atmosphere which allows and encourages dissent (he never jumped down Allen's throat or belittled him for speaking up in class with different opinions).

In fact, Bennish told his students to dissect and analyze everything he said for extra credit. What honors student wouldn't jump at the chance to prove his teacher wrong and get extra credit for doing so? (My answer, an honors student who doesn't like having his indoctrinated opinions challenged).

Add to that the fact that Bennish handed out a memo (FOX News video) at the beginning of the school year which stated that he is very opinionated, will discuss things some students might not like to hear, and suggested an alternate class (was it an elective class?) and you apparently don't have impressionable youths being held captive by a radical teacher. You have highly intelligent students being challenged by an unorthodox teacher.

Allens' Story Doesn't Add Up

A commenter at In Remembrance and Heedlessness has a link to the FOX News coverage of the Bennish student walk-out last Thursday (as well as other links of local coverage).

As I thought I had remembered hearing, Sean Allen was trying to say he had just made the recording to take notes, not to try to get his teacher in trouble. I wonder why he didn't record from the beginning of the discussion or provide his "notes" from the end of the discussion, then.

Another discrepency -- the story is that Allen's father didn't like what he heard on the tape, complained to the school, didn't get an adequate response, so turned it over to Mike Rosen. Both father and son claim they aren't seeking publicity, but are simply concerned about curbing a biased teacher.

But left out is the fact that Allen's father first sent a copy to columnist Walter Williams in the middle of February. Apparently that column didn't get an adequate response, either, so Allen shopped it to Mike Rosen.

It certainly seems as though the Allens worked very hard to drum up the publicity and controversy they shun.

As for Allen's mom being a Democrat, I know how much that means. In California, my dad had registered as a Democrat, but that was only so my parents could get campaign information from both parties. I don't think my dad ever voted Democratic when he was registered as one, and I know he doesn't support Democratic policies, either now or then.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Fark Photoshop

Normally, Fark posts somewhat normal pictures with silly potential that photoshoppers have fun playing with.

This seems like a brilliant photoshop, but it's the original picture that was submitted. The 50's don't need to be photoshopped to make them ridiculous.

And this was the era my mom thinks was the closest to perfection on earth.

Jīng Liàng



You scored as Serenity (Firefly).
You like to live your own way and don't enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Serenity (Firefly)

94%

Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)

69%

Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)

69%

Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)

63%

Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)

56%

FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)

56%

Moya (Farscape)

56%

Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)

50%

Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)

50%

SG-1 (Stargate)

50%

Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)

50%

Enterprise D (Star Trek)

50%


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II:
which sci-fi crew
would you best fit in? (pics)

created with QuizFarm.com



I think Star Trek has a low score because I would be bothered by eccentric aliens, and these days I really am not fond of (the current) government. (This was my score the first time, too. I didn't keep doing it till I got my preferred answer.)

(The title of the post: Trying to be clever by using the Chinese adjective for "shiny," though kù, the slang for "cool," would probably be more appropriate. Oh God, I just swan-dived into the geek pool.)

Hat tip to Pharygula.

Something Lighter

On the day I was born, Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In by the 5th Dimension was the #1 song. Very appropriate.

Inappropriately, but hilariously ... on the day my husband was born, the #1 song was My Sweet Lord/Isn't It a Pity, by George Harrison. High-larious.

Check your song. Via Pharyngula.

Letter to Dr. Moses

Dear Dr. Moses,

I understand the initial negative reaction to Mr. Bennish's comments, as I had them myself. The reason for the suspension given in the media is that it appears Mr. Bennish did not give an opportunity for balance of controversial and sensitive subjects. But how can that be known if only a twenty minute excerpt of a 50 minute class that included neither the beginning nor the end of the discussion was provided as evidence?

And despite the unfairness of relying on an excerpt of a class in which the subject matter was obviously taken out of context from a larger discussion, it was clear that the students in the class were engaged, participating, and given ample opportunity to challenge Mr. Bennish on any point, which Sean Allen did readily, repeatedly, and without fear of retribution.

Further, from Mr. Bennish's lawyer's statements in the press, and from the course syllabus which I can only assume was approved by the school, such discussions of current events, politics, history, and economics were a normal part of the course curriculum, were expected to be researched and challenged, and were for extra credit.

It seems clear that, rather than challenging Mr. Bennish in any intelligent manner and as proscribed by the classroom's syllabus and the teacher's instructions, Mr. Allen simply chose to punish his teacher by releasing the recording to the media in an attempt to shame and suppress speech he disagrees with and doesn't like.

It also seems clear that Mr. Bennish's suspension was unwarranted, especially given the fact that the school has no way of knowing whether Mr. Bennish's comments were balanced by other parts of the discussion which were either not recorded or edited out.

Sincerely,

Julie O.

Lack of Bennish Support

Michael Yates at Monthly Review notices, as I do, that many liberals are shying away from supporting Jay Bennish.

Yeah, the excerpts of what he says, taken out of context, sound alarming and embarrassing. And at first glance it appears Bennish went off on a tangent, completely outside the scope of world geography, propagandizing to students. The popular, centrist, reasonable stance appears to be "I agree with what Bennish said, but it was one-sided and outside the scope of geography, and therefore inappropriate." But that is simply not true.

Yates also called the Colorado Education Association, the union at Overland, and discovered it is not throwing support behind Bennish because he's not a member (well, there goes that Repug talking point).

But Yates has contact information for Dr. Monte Moses, superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools.

Update: Progress Now Action also suggests joining the ACLU and Students for a Democratic Society (warning: when you click on SDS, there's corny folk music).

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