COLLEGE COSTS: Who Cares, and Why Thinking Parents Care About Who Doesn’t

30 09 2008

It’s worth thinking about whether education is even more crucial to bail out than business, considering this new story from the Chronicle of Higher Education, plenty of data and daunting perspective to keep us up nights.

Don’t assume it’s just the elite and impossibly pricey privates. Conservative financial adviser Dave Ramsey sensibly preaches public in-state college as a practical value for the middle class — I hear him do it all the time — yet with all his economic expertise, doesn’t seem to notice or care about what’s happening to THOSE costs and why. Public colleges and universities are losing bigtime, and it’s starting to look like a key strategy of the grand elitist “free market” white male ideology McCain’s economic masterminds have been working so hard on for a couple of decades now, to dismantle government and all general public opportunity for those of us they dismiss as just a “nation of whiners.”

Our higher education sticker shock problem totals half the size of the monster bailout bill for the whole economy — $375 billion.  One of the two presidential candidates cares enough to think about fixing it for all Americans, and is able to work on it in an integrated way, without suspending his campaign.  Now that he and his wife have fulfilled their own scholarship obligations and paid off their own student loans, they need to figure out how to finance college opportunities for their own two young daughters.

“We need to put a college education within reach of every American. That’s the best investment we can make in our future. I’ll create a new and fully refundable tax credit worth $4,000 for tuition and fees every year, which will cover two-thirds of the tuition at the average public college or university. I’ll also simplify the financial aid application process so that we don’t have a million students who aren’t applying for aid because it’s too difficult. I will start by eliminating the current student aid form altogether – we’ll use tax data instead.”
[Barack Obama, Reclaiming the American Dream Speech, Bettendorf, IA, 11/7/07]

The other candidate has no reason to sweat his teenage daughter’s college costs. ACTUALLY, he and his wife have a hundred million reasons not to know or care what it will cost their family. 

But as for all our kids, well, job skills from a bargain community college will do, not even veterans need a real university education paid for by a grateful nation, and his one big education reform idea is eliminate education earmarks and research funding. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Banned Books Week — Read Something Shocking!

27 09 2008

Is this a good time to mention BANNED BOOKS WEEK is upon us again?  And how fitting that the vice-presidential debate falls right in the middle of it!

“Closing Books Shuts Out Ideas”
[Last year’s theme was “Free People Read Freely!”]
September 27- October 4, 2008

For more:
Palin’s “Actual Responsibilities” as Madame Mayor”

Ignorance Makes the N-Word Even Scarier

Family and Politics

Ban the Book-burning Book for Banned Books Week??

Or maybe you’d like Mess is Robust, With Resonance!

One shudders to think how much more Big School can stand to systemize! Is even more corporate power to tidy up both school and home really healthy for children and families? Rowdy recess games are long gone, purses and cupcakes are being banned as unacceptably untidy, long lists of clothing, toys and ingestible substances including candy have been purged, along with  books judged too stimulating and therefore disorderly for school shelves.

So I tend to welcome counterpoint now and then, toward uncontrolled, untidy thought, word and deed.

Strategy versus Tactics

27 09 2008

I enjoyed this piece — On Strategy and Tactics by James Fallows — because I saw myself in this bit:

Obama would have pleased his base better if he had fought back more harshly in those 90 minutes — cutting McCain off, delivering a similarly harsh closing judgment, using comparably hostile body language, and in general acting more like a combative House of Commons debater. Those would have been effective tactics minute by minute.

But Obama either figured out, or instinctively understood, that the real battle was to make himself seem comfortable, reasonable, responsible, well-versed, and in all ways “safe” and non-outsiderish to the audience just making up its mind about him.

I wanted a stronger performance by Obama. I was wrong. He was thinking way ahead of me.

How nice. 🙂


13 Ways Republican Party Profits From Mindless White Privilege

25 09 2008

. . .courtesy of Lorem Ipsum without whom I wouldn’t have seen Tim Wise’s white power of story and in whose footsteps I follow by reprinting and illustrating same.

By Tim Wise, BuzzFlash — September 18, 2008.
13 ways McCain and Palin have enjoyed preferential treatment in the presidential race.

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at 17 like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-size colleges, and then governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. senator, two-term state senator and constitutional law scholar means you’re “untested.”

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office — since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s — while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school, requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you. White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do — like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the eight-hour workday, or an end to child labor — and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small-town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college — you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women and made them give your party a “second look.”

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt. Read the rest of this entry »

Did JJ Write This Note to Bill Clinton?

24 09 2008

No, she didn’t, of course. Paul Slanksy did. But I wish I had. And I hope he reads it and we all hold him accountable for his own monstrous self-indulgence as a supposed leader. FINALLY!

Given that we would never have had the odious George W. Bush in the White House in the first place if it wasn’t for your blow jobs, Bill, it seems obvious that you owe it to the people of this country, and especially to the parents whose kids died in the Iraq War that Gore would never have started, and to all the parents whose kids would be killed in the WarFest that would be a McCain/Palin — sorry, Palin/McCain administration — to do everything in your power to get Barack Obama elected.

But that’s not what you’re doing, Bill, and it’s not going unnoticed. We see your rage, Bill, it’s too huge to hide. We see that — as Chris Rock so brilliantly pointed out — it pains you to even speak Obama’s name. We see you petulantly rooting against him even as you go through the motions of doing the barest minimum on his behalf to avoid being blamed if he loses.

You’re not fooling anyone, Bill. You’ve gotten so caught up in yesterday that you’ve stopped thinking about tomorrow. You have the power to influence millions of voters and you’re spitefully sitting on it. Surely you’ve noticed what’s going on in the country. Surely you’re aware of what’s at stake on November 4th. This is not a game that you can afford to take your ball and go home with if you don’t get to play the position you want. An Obama loss will most certainly be part of your legacy.

There’s still time to fix it. How about this for an October surprise? Bill Clinton gets on the road and spends every day until the election sincerely and wholeheartedly communicating the urgency of electing Obama. You’re the greatest politician of your generation, Bill. Surely you can fake enthusiasm for a month.

Oh, and stop talking about how much you like Senator McCain. Have you forgotten the vile joke he told a decade ago at your wife’s and daughter’s expense? Let me remind you: “Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? She’s the child of Janet Reno and Hillary Clinton.” Are you saying, Bill, that you can forgive McCain for calling Chelsea “ugly” but you can’t forgive Obama for defeating Hillary?

If Obama loses a close election — one in which even one state where you could have made a difference goes for McCain because you sat home and pouted — it will be on you. We will remember that you couldn’t be bothered to rise above your petty resentments for something as trivial as saving your country from the enemies of everything you profess to believe in. We forgave you for Monica, Bill, but we won’t forgive you for this.

Lipsticked Kiss of the Spiderwoman?

19 09 2008

All very interesting but I probably didn’t respond to this study the way the researcher intended. I was trying to figure out which politician best fit his various threat pictures. Who would be the dazed and bloodied guy as president, who would be the spiderwoman? 😉

Politics & Society
Could Political Views Be Driven By Biology?
by Nell Greenfieldboyce

Morning Edition, September 19, 2008 · In a recent television interview, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin stressed that she did not blink when Sen. John McCain asked her to be his running mate. But a new study suggests that people with conservative views on certain political issues may be more likely to blink hard when startled.

John Hibbing, a researcher at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has been studying whether people’s political beliefs might be linked to biological traits such as their startle reflex.

. . .The volunteers sat in front of a computer with sensors on their fingers, to measure skin moisture — that’s a kind of stress test. They also had sensors under their eyes, to measure how hard they blinked. The researchers told them to watch as some images flashed on the computer screen.

“Some of these pictures are very soothing, like a sunset or a bunny rabbit,” says Hibbing, “and others are quite threatening.”

The threatening pictures included a dazed man covered with blood, an open wound with maggots, and a large spider crawling across someone’s face. . .

Pit Bull Moose and Mugwumps

17 09 2008

So John McCain’s latest power of story is that Teddy Roosevelt is his ACTUAL Republican soulmate, not the pitbull moose in his hand nor two Bushes in the Byrd.

Did John McCain’s Rove-Cheney handlers and rich corporate and foreign power lobbyists, vet the Bull Moose any better than the Pit Bull? The kids and I are having all sorts of fun playing with the power of story in Teddy Roosevelt’s wikipedia entry.

We see similarities between John Sidney McCain and TR, sure — TR left his daughter to be raised by others while he was off adventuring, he loved to fight even within his own party, his views on race were so belligerent and extreme that President NIXON had to clean up after him (see below); and he promised if elected to limit his terms voluntarily–

Roosevelt argued the frontier conditions created a new race: the American people that replaced the “scattered savage tribes, whose life was but a few degrees less meaningless, squalid, and ferocious than that of the wild beasts with whom they held joint ownership.” He believed, “the conquest and settlement by the whites of the Indian lands was necessary to the greatness of the race and to the well-being of civilized mankind.”
. . .In The Winning of the West (1889–1896), Roosevelt’s frontier thesis stressed a racial struggle between “civilization” (white, especially Germanic peoples) and supposed savagery (of people of color, i.e., Native American Indians). Excerpts:

1. “The settler and pioneer have at bottom had justice on their side; this great continent could not have been kept as nothing but a game preserve for squalid savages.”
2. “The most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages.”
3. “American and Indian, Boer and Zulu, Cossack and Tartar, New Zealander and Maori, — in each case the victor, horrible though many of his deeds are, has laid deep the foundations for the future greatness of a mighty people.”
4. “ is of incalculable importance that America, Australia, and Siberia should pass out of the hands of their red, black, and yellow aboriginal owners, and become the heritage of the dominant world races.” Read the rest of this entry »

McCain More Radical Than Bush — on Economy

16 09 2008

More Radical Than Bush by Jonathan Cohn
The full horror of John McCain’s economic agenda.
Post Date Wednesday, September 24, 2008

John Goodman is a conservative economist who thinks all the fuss over people without health insurance is just hooey. . . .As the Morning News noted, Goodman had helped craft McCain’s health care plan. In other words, he is a McCain adviser.

Or, at least, he used to be. When Goodman’s quote got the attention of reporters, a McCain spokesman issued a terse statement: “John Goodman is not an adviser to this campaign.” When that position became untenable–it turns out Goodman had identified himself as an adviser not only to the Morning News but also in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, to which the McCain campaign never objected–the official story changed.

Yes, Goodman had offered advice to McCain. But it was on an unpaid, voluntary basis, and McCain had since made clear that Goodman’s input was not necessary. “John McCain could not disagree more strongly with Mr. Goodman,” a spokesman said. “John McCain believes that addressing the problem of the nation’s uninsured is one of our most pressing national priorities.” (Goodman has been traveling and unavailable for comment.)

It wasn’t the first time this campaign season that McCain distanced himself from a conservative adviser over controversial statements. Former Texas senator Phil Gramm, as a top economic adviser, had far more influence than Goodman. Fortune magazine actually called him “McCain’s econ brain.” But, in June, Gramm told a Washington Times reporter that the economy was stronger than most Americans realized.

The real problem, he suggested, was a “mental recession”–that “we have sort of become a nation of whiners.” Again, Gramm was offering a refrain common among conservatives, who think the press constantly dwells on bad economic news. But did McCain believe it, too? This time, McCain himself issued a denial.

“Phil Gramm does not speak for me,” he said. “America is in great difficulty. And we are experiencing enormous challenges.” Soon Gramm was told his services, too, were no longer required.

Goodman and Gramm had, of course, committed political crimes. But, while they were guilty of ill-chosen rhetoric, they had also told the truth. Read the rest of this entry »

Stupid Power of Story — Just Got Trapped in a Gas Panic

12 09 2008

Betty’s right. The American people in cynically whipped-up news-cycle crowds, are just downright stupid. A danger to themselves and OTHERS, which would include me and my kids. . .so if Sarah Palin is the patron saint of Big Oil and Stupid People, this is what her ticket’s America would be like?

JJ is quite hungry and cross.

From the afternoon update to my Tallahassee Democrat, too late to save me innocently venturing out into the middle of bedlam:
. . .Rumors of a fuel shortage spread like wildfire across the state, prompting Agriculture and Consumers Services Commissioner Charlie Bronson to call a late afternoon press conference.

“There is no fuel shortage in Florida,” Bronson said. “There’s hundreds of millions of gallons available.”

. . .A fuel panic swept Gainesville on Thursday, where long gas lines spilled over onto a busy thoroughfare, tempers flared and the police were called, said Randy Bly, a spokesman for AAA Auto Club South.

“Our office has been flooded with calls,” Bly said “This was consumer -driven, it was like a run on the bank. There really is no shortage, we are well supplied. . .”

Rumpy-Pumpy Minerals Management in Peep-Toe Patent Leather?

12 09 2008

Honestly, who needs to write whole posts anymore?

I heard on morning radio that someone has a new book out: Eccentric Glamour. Probably it’s not about our country’s newest campaign combatant, The People’s Pitbull tricked out for war with Russia in lipstick and patent leather, but who knows or has the capacity to care anymore?

It was led by news that the Japanese spectacle frame suppliers for the naughty librarian’s look, are back-ordered, and followed by sex-drugs-and-corruption among the ethically challenged Bush administration’s Big Oil um, drill-me-here, drill-me-now female regulators (is that sexist to mention?):

. . .revelations of rumpy-pumpy may finally inspire a real shake-up. . .It all gives a whole new meaning to getting screwed by the oil industry.

Revelations of rumpy-pumpy?
Which side deserves credit or blame for “election protection” in Ohio?
Just grab a few words for a headline and you’re exhausted . . .
And absent adrenal glands in perpetual hyperdrive like yours and mine — fight-flight, fight-flight, FIGHT-FLIGHT!!!! — who could believe anything we’d truthfully write, anyway?

Is this the Republicans’ secret master plan for renewable domestic energy? Adrenaline?
It’s certainly cheap!
And yeah, we do “actually” control it ourselves, no need to depend on foreign powers to generate it.
Its potential to animate America appears to be unlimited.
But calling the end result “clean” is just going too far, a bridge to nowhere. . .

The Only Other Woman Governor With Kids at Home

10 09 2008

according to an MSNBC interview just now, is Jennifer Granholm, governor of Michigan, where 400,000 jobs already have been lost in this Bush-McCain economy.

“We are the poster child for this global shift in manufacturing jobs” said Granholm . . .

Governor Granholm responded to the Detroit mayor’s scandal and the McCain-Palin ad regarding same: “this is exactly what they want to do, is create a divisive atmosphere. . .by race. . . it is a cynical and wrong attack” —

Thinking Parents so enthusiastically defending Gov. Sarah Palin’s virtues, might ask themselves whether they “feel” the same about Granholm — and if not, why not?

More on Phony and Foolish Political Psychology, For Thinking Parents

10 09 2008

A commenter named Stephanie takes issue with Snook for being politically “one-sided” lately. And she disagrees with all the Edge dot org cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists, linguists and political scientists I linked to yesterday as a banquet for serious thought, as opposed to empty partisan calories served up as “news” lately.

[On my tv right now, Harvard constitutional scholar Barack Obama is speaking not about lipsticked animals gussied up as world leaders, but about real education IDEAS for America’s future, after saying that “enough is enough” of the phony same old same old that Bush-McCain politics have kept our kids dumbed down with:
“They’d rather this election be about phony and foolish diversions . . .I don’t care what they say about ME but I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swiftboat politics. Enough is enough!”]

Anyway,  as I read her comment, Stephanie feels her thinking has no feeling (?) and argues her own politics are pure logic with no emotion or rationalization, no childhood scripts and stories embedded in her intelligent software, nope, nope.  She is a veritable Vulcan, Mr. Spock in lipstick!   😉

All of which I thank her for, because it has my creativity stirring and neurons firing this morning, remembering all sorts of stimulating ideas more worthy of Thinking Parent conversation than the phony fear-mongering and “news” reporting these past couple of weeks. 

Btw, tomorrow is the anniversary of September 11, after all the Republican leadership’s (to me shocking) cynical exploitation of the overwhelming emotions that day evokes. I grew up in the South where “waving the bloody shirt” has been a cynically successful form of politics by division for 150 years:

The Republican party thus continued to depend upon the bloody shirt long after the war was over, with Lewis Gould noting that in the post-Reconstruction years sectionalism was “a genuine and continuing source of Republican strength.”

And it’s similarly shocking to see John McCain now intentionally exploiting for partisan division, another bloody shirt already 50 years old. Talk about playing to emotion! Must we accept for the next 100 years, then, nine-eleven bloody shirts waved by old warriors every election cycle, to keep our past the most powerful enemy of our future, our own divisions making a dysfunctional mockery of this “united” states? Does that make us safer in a third-millennium world and economy finding new equilibrium without following our lead, or make us throwbacks unable to lead even ourselves?

But think about it — we CAN learn to do better. For example, here’s something I remember posting about psychological power of story research, from Wired:

Some scary things are not really as risky as they seem, and others are better handled by staying in the scary situation to set up a more advantageous future response. This means there’s an evolutionary advantage to being able to hold off the reflexive fight-or-flight response while you work out a more sophisticated analysis of the situation and your options for handling it. . .

So here’s the first fundamental problem: Read the rest of this entry »