Justin Hollander’s 10/10/12 New York Times op-ed entitled Long Live Paper makes a good case against the replacement of paper textbooks with digital technologies. Despite the reasons he cited for keeping paper textbooks around, none will likely prove as compelling as the cost benefits associated with going digital. That said, I think the author missed the most important reason to stick with textbooks: because they cost more and are, therefore, more resistant to casual and frivolous change.

We have seen the circus called the Texas Textbook Adoption where the conservative Texas School Board of Education has pushed for ideologically driven changes which reduce the prominence of Thomas Jefferson in favor of Tea Party hero John Calvin, and the inclusion of doubts about evolution. And that’s with paper textbooks! Imagine the trouble that Darwin will be in, and how Christian our nation will become if it becomes easier and cheaper to make changes reflective of the tooth fairy politics of the Right?

 

Is it possible that Mitt Romney can he put his foot in his mouth as often as he does by accident? I‘m not saying he’s trying to do it, but it’s gotten so bad that you can’t that you can’t precede the word gaff with the word latest because it probably isn’t the latest as soon as you write it.

Here’s a recent…though not the latest :)…example: In Virginia the other day Romney spoke about his compassion  for people citing his Massachusetts’ health care law as evidence. Shockingly, he went on to say that this wasn’t something he could talk about during the primaries because it wouldn’t have been “effective.” What does that mean?…that he had to duck what he actually did?

There are possible explanations for this. One is that he’s losing his grip on reality and his wife, of all people, might have elevated the probability of this explanation.  Anne Romney, as originally reported by Reuters, said “her biggest concern if her husband becomes president was his ‘mental well-being.’” Maybe she’s concerned about his current mental well-being, too.

Another explanation is one that David Brooks, the conservative op-ed writer for the NYT suggested in a recent column. He said that Mitt’s problem is that he has no overarching political ideology to serve as his political…and verbal…compass. That observation is dead on as far as it goes, but it fails to illuminate an ideology that does fuel Mitt’s quest for the White House: he believes that his wealth and privilege entitles him to the job of president the same way it entitled Bain Capital to “harvest” companies without regard to the human costs, or tell the American people that he won’t disclose any more tax returns because the people have seen enough, or tell a room full of his rich investors that 47% of the American people suck.

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But now it’s coming apart and it’s putting great stress on him and his campaign. The polls show that more and more Americans see Mitt for what he is: a political opportunist who will say anything he needs to say to close the deal. He reminds me of some liquored-up dude telling a woman at 2 AM that he’ll love her in the morning, but  isn’t around for the wake-up call.

Good luck, Mitt!

No problem except for one thing; when the president saw that the nation’s business was held hostage for short-term political gain he should have taken his case to the people.

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In a recent interview with a Nevada television station, Ann Romney, in addition to confessing should her husband outdo the more heavily favored snowball in Hell and actually win the election this November, said that her main concern would be for his “mental health.” But she also said something that reinforces a common right-wing lie. She said, “This economy has been under his control for the last four years, and we have seen no jobs,” Romney said. “It’s been a jobless recovery.” That is not true.

Most Americans do not know how their U. S. Senate operates. It is not exactly a democratic (small-“d”) institution.

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The continuing unrest in Europe demands answers to fundamental questions.

  • Why must the people shoulder the immense pain of austerity when they neither caused the financial collapse nor did they profit from it?
  • What difference is there between Europe’s austerity measures and Paul Ryan’s draconian budget?
  • Isn’t it time that the fat cats who run the world’s financial system heard a very loud and clear message from the people that goes something like this: NO MORE!

Instead of the people eating trickle-down cake it’s time for fat cats and banksters to feel the people’s’ trickle-up pain.

While subbing at a local high school recently I found myself engaged with students in a discussion of free-trade agreements. Given my position as a teacher proxy I had an academic responsibility to be a facilitator rather than an advocate.

The students, all of them quite bright and surprisingly well informed, were pretty evenly split between  free-trade opposition and advocacy with the advocates arguing that globalism is a realty and to get used to it, and the opponents taking up the cause of American workers whose jobs got off-shored. The debate went back and forth until I suggested that instead of focusing on the offshoring of jobs (the effect of free trade agreements) they should consider the cause.  What role, I asked, does capitalism play in the loss of jobs and the decline in wages? I then had the pleasure of watching and listening to these young people wrestle with fundamental questions about the structure of our economy, the class stratification of our society and even the survival of our country.

My belief, which I did not share with the students, is that we are teetering on the edge of a political and economic abyss. We need to take a dispassionate look the basic nature of capitalism, which posits that labor is a cost to be minimized, while profit is to be maximized…often at the expense of labor. Through that lens there is absolutely nothing wrong with offshoring jobs despite what it means to workers, families, and the middle class. Through that lens corporations and big money rule; the rich get insanely rich, and everyone else eats their trickled-down cake. If anyone says this isn’t happening right now they just aren’t paying attention. And these economic problems didn’t just happen in the wake of the financial meltdown; they would have happened anyway, just not as fast nor as dramatically as they did.

In fact, this is an economic horror story that has been playing out since the 1970s when the trend lines of productivity and personal employment income crossed; workers produced more while earning less. The trend was exacerbated by women entering the labor force in greater numbers, increased migration from the south and, most recently, by the offshoring of good jobs in huge numbers. The result has been the gutting of the middle class, the dashing of dreams, high unemployment and destructive underemployment.

So, as the classroom debate unfolded and the bell about to ring, I asked one final question: If the problem that we were examining is structural rather than cyclical do you believe that the American people will be best served by an active and engaged government or should the government disengage and allow capitalism, as it is currently expressing itself in the United States dictate the fate of the people?

I haven’t seen the students in the class since that day. I can only hope that they challenge those who are far too content to accept the status quo, a condition that, all too often, serves the pocketbooks of those who advocate it.

Moderate Republicans in Washington no longer exist.

In today’s Republican Party the Tea Party and big money rule, while the middle class loses, women lose, seniors lose, education loses, the environment loses, cities lose, health care loses, Latinos lose, unions lose and, most importantly, America loses.

Make no mistake about it, this election is about power and the Republicans will do anything they can, including Jim-Crow style voter suppression, to win it all: the White House, the House and even the Senate. If that happens corporations will decide what’s best for you and me, and a packed Supreme Court will doom America to generations of ultra-right-wing policies.

Personally, I will fight that with everything I have and I implore you do to the same. Talk to your friends. Tell them how you feel and why their vote for all Democratic candidates is so very, very important. And reach out to moderate Republicans. The party that they once knew has been hijacked by extremists with whom they have nothing in common.

This is not just another election. Thank you for caring about all Americans. Thank you for fighting back!

I don’t get it. I don’t understand how pre-tea-party Republicans can stand what happening in their party. Let’s just imagine for a moment that Mitt Romney is rational, more like he was as governor of Massachusetts. Of course it’s impossible to know precisely what he believes any more since he changes his tune faster than a teenager can hit the buttons on a car radio. But, put that aside. Everyone knows that the tea-party rules the Republican Party. Do you think that Mitt Romney can swim against that tide? Do you think that he will even try to when even a suggestion of compromise unleashes a tidal wave of push back from right-wing zealots? No way. That’s why I don’t get it. Certainly, rational Republicans know what’s happened over the past 4 years:

  • Before President Obama even took office plans were under way by the Republican leadership…including Paul Ryan…to limit Obama to one term by making him look bad.
  • Obstructionism started on Obama’s first day in office because he was politically vulnerable: his name is Barack Hussein Obama, he is and uppity black man and his wife is an angry black woman who does terrorist fist bumps.  In other words, he symbolized the demographic changes sweeping the nation. He had to be stopped.
  • Everything Obama tried to do…even things that had been recommended in the past by Republicans…was obstructed. Super majorities became the rule of the day.
  • The right-wing communication machine hammered him unmercifully as being not one of us, and as someone who didn’t understand America. It didn’t help that people throughout the world perceived him as a change agent, a fact that fed right into the right-wing’s xenophobic view that he didn’t like America.
  • Political differences were stoked to the level of political hatred. Listen to how Romney supporters talk about the president. He’s the enemy, not a political option.

Why doesn’t this stuff matter? Have the “crazies,” as Chris Christie calls them, taken over the party as well as the minds of reasonable Republicans? How could Obama possibly be a worse choice than a tea-party controlled puppet in the White House?

Frankly, I could be a lot happier than I am with the President, but I will vote for him and work as best I can to support his campaign. On the other side I desperately fear that America will descend into fascism and theocracy if Romney wins. For the majority of Americans, and for the planet we live on, that will be tragic.