Something Sarah Palin Won’t Like Reading

30 10 2008

. . .in The Economist, if she wasn’t just making that up along with most of what she says: today’s thoughtful, even-handed endorsement for President:

. . .this cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent.

Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.

What “Earning It” Means in America

30 10 2008

I got to thinking about what “earning it” really means in America, because of criticism like Spunky’s that yes, Barack Obama had paid for his 30 minutes of campaign airtime yet he had not really “earned” the right to have and enjoy it, even after paying for it.

What does earning it mean in America’s power of story, and who should decide, provided the goal is better times for us all in the present and future we share (like it or not)?

I’ve been reflecting on what this resentment of Obama as uncontributing interloper could mean then, in the context of the same faction’s defense of $100 million worth of John and Cindy McCain’s houses and cars — evidently numbering beyond what this rich old man married to a beer heiress can even remember — and the latest socialist/Marxist backlash against tax cuts for the working class instead of the corporate kings and Wall Street wizards. Someone commenting here at Snook defended the second Mrs. McCain’s $300,000 outfit at the RNC by saying hey, she EARNED that or at least her father had done, by working hard!

And Joe the Plumber who reportedly doesn’t earn much of a living plumbing and doesn’t keep up with paying the taxes on what he DOES earn and enjoy, seems to have signed with an entertainment agent to see how much he can “earn” as a [gasp!] celebrity of whatever type the traffic in tough times will bear, so far having earned it only by subtracting from our public discourse rather than adding to it, for knowing little and doing nothing at all.

And say he does strike it rich — stupider celebrities have done — somehow earning our squeezed consumer dollars for whatever unworthy and unregulated sewage he gets a contract to pump through our public pipes. Will he then be righteously justified in hoarding his “earned” prosperity all for himself, continuing to see taxes as socialist and failing to help support the economy with any of his “small business” wealth?

Is profiting from the people’s choice of country music and beer, while begrudging the payment of taxes on those profits, the real American Dream? Is that “earning it” — more than the national leadership of a hardworking constitutional lawyer and community organizer, also benefiting from the people’s choice, now poised to organize the whole nation into a better future for us all (even for the unholy and illogical GOP alliance of surly poor and surlier rich?)

Who is the poster child for the America Dream your children are learning to pursue?

Daryl Finds PERFECT Power of Story in Prayer!

30 10 2008

. . .from Pharyngula.

Favorite Daughter, our power of religion college student, is gonna love this one. 
Wonder if the (power of personality and Prada over policy) Republican running mate is familiar with Exodus 32, and would like to choose a side in this story?  (Talk about damned if you do and damned if you don’t!)

I’m tempted — not Biblically! — to post the art here as a teaser but I’ll be good — not Biblically! — and let you get the full impact for yourself, at the link.  😀

Go to Where’s Charlton Heston When You Need Him?

Pulitzer Power of Story Author Jane Smiley Says. . .

29 10 2008

Power of story, y’all. If you read here much, probably you consider yourself a lifelong learner and evolved education advocate, a Thinking Parent, perhaps home-educating or even a whole-life unschooler who knows better than to teach academics and enforce rules with fear, shame, hitting and the spectre of eternal damnation?

Then join Jane Smiley (and Snook!) in understanding the power of the human mind and real education, to help write a much smarter, more loving and happier ending for the horror novel America has been living through.

“Goodbye Cruel World” —

This is the world we have been living in for the past thirty years. In a week, we have a chance to leave this world behind.

If we look at our two candidates, the differences between them are stark. John McCain, who was raised by and accepts the authoritarian model, is evidently never at peace.

. . .Barack Obama . . .seems to have been reared in a non-authoritarian household, by a loving mother and loving grandparents. He thinks that the world is a rational place that can be understood and modified. His own family seems happy and loving.

. . . When we choose between these two men, we are choosing between two worlds — the world of ignorance, fear, manipulation, and cruelty, and the world of rational investigation, weighing of options, and planning. This world is a world where sexual preference is not such a big deal, salvation is not an eternal mystery, and life goes on. It’s a world where bad things happen, but there is no malign Godly intention behind them.

It is world that understands the temptations of human nature and attempts to deal with them rationally and systematically. Some of these attempts will fail, but on balance, not as many as have failed in the last twenty-five years.

Drinking the ACORN Kool-Aid: Who Said You Could Vote the GOP Out??

28 10 2008

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and co-author summarize their hard-hitting, eye-opening investigation here; you can download their Rolling Stone article plus a comic book voter guide free (or make a donation) at

The Republicans have created an obstacle course of barriers designed to suppress the vote, purge tens of thousands of Democratic voters from voting rolls, create mayhem and delay at voting venues on Election Day, and stop millions of votes from being counted this election cycle.

Jailed GOP activist Jack Abramoff and his fellow convict, Congressman Bob Ney, wrote the most sinister provisions of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which Congress passed in 2002 creating a series of diabolically cunning new voting impediments. HAVA, for example, allows state voting officials to purge tens of thousands of voters from the polls using algorithms and voter ID requirements that disproportionately disenfranchise black, Hispanic and minority voters, and other Democratic demographics including senior citizens and young people.

In 2004, highly organized GOP tacticians helped disenfranchise no less than 2.7 million American voters. Almost a million of them were African Americans. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has found black voters were nine times more likely to have their votes discarded than white voters and that over one-third of the million provisional ballots cast in 2004 — ballots handed disproportionately to African Americans — were never counted but simply thrown into dumpsters.

In a technique known as “caging” RNC operatives send millions of first class letters to black voters across the country marked ‘do not forward.’ Republican operatives armed with lists then invade black precincts on Election Day to challenge those voters whose letters were returned to the RNC because the voter was not home to sign when the mail arrived. That tactic deliberately targets black voters, resurrecting Old Dixie’s Jim Crow procedures designed to rid the lists of black voters and create long lines in black precincts.

In this election, new HAVA mandates permit voting officials to precisely match registration form information with the voter’s driver’s license and Social Security application. While it may sound reasonable, in practice, any change, even a dropped hyphen, is cause for eliminating the voter from the rolls. Since 2004, Colorado’s Republican Secretaries of State have purged one out of every five voters from the rolls. The current Secretary of State, Mike Coffman, a Republican also running for office, recently purged an additional 37,000 voters and discarded 6,400 new voter registrations — overwhelmingly Democratic — based upon an obscure technical mistake that Coffman’s office encouraged voters to make in the first place.

The GOP “anti-fraud” campaign resulted in one in nine New Mexico Democratic voters finding their names had disappeared from voter roles during this year’s caucus.

Despite a recent Supreme Court decision upholding Ohio’s refusal to disenfranchise 200,000 legitimate voters based on this absurd demand to “match” voter names to databases, White House operatives are still fighting to purge these names from the rolls. President George Bush last week personally asked his Attorney General Mike Mukasey to renew Republican efforts to disenfranchise these voters.

Contrary to Mr. McCain’s assertions, the real threat to democracy is from the GOP itself. Read the rest of this entry »

Next President’s Dream Team – Foreign Policy Magazine

27 10 2008

“The Dream Team”
November/December 2008

The next American president will confront a host of potential cataclysms: from a virulent financial crisis to a vicious terrorist enemy, nuclear proliferation to climate change. He’ll need his country’s brightest minds—not his party’s usual suspects. So, we asked 10 of the world’s top thinkers to name the unlikely team that can best guide No. 44 through the turbulent years ahead. . .

REAL Domestic Terrorism (otherwise, shut up about it)

27 10 2008

ATF foils plot to assassinate Obama
Associated Press
Posted: October 27, 2008 (31 minutes ago)

WASHINGTON — Federal agents have broken up a plot to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 102 black people in a Tennessee murder spree, ATF officials said today.

In court records unsealed today, federal agents said they disrupted plans to rob a gun store and target a predominantly African-American high school by two neo-Nazi skinheads. Agents said the skinheads did not identify the school by name.

Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the Nashville field office for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the two men planned to shoot 88 black people and decapitate another 14. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community.

The men also sought to go on a national killing spree, with Obama as its final target, Cavanaugh told The Associated Press.

“They said that would be their last, final act — that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama,” Cavanaugh said. “They didn’t believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying.”

Singing for Life, Liberty, Health and Happiness

27 10 2008

This is an article about singing. It’s about you singing. I’m writing this because I want to encourage you to sing. . .
If I were asked to redesign the educational system, I’d insist group singing be part of the daily routine.”

— Brian Eno, ODE Magazine

Learning and Thinking As We Age: Yet Another Strike Against Republican Ticket

27 10 2008

How learning and reason decline — painful truths we’d rather deny (and some good news too, so read to the end!) from the former editor of Psychology Today:

The American public is predictably divided on this issue. Obama appears to many to be short on experience and too young to assume such high office, even though John F. Kennedy was 43 when he became president. McCain is considered by others to be too old. After all, Ronald Reagan showed signs of Alzheimer’s disease during his second term in office, when he was in his late seventies. Barely three years out of office, his cognitive impairment had become severe. But could it be that Obama, at 46, is also declining? When are we at our cognitive peak?

At 55, having been a research psychologist for 30 years, I decided to take a dispassionate look at these issues. The process proved to be painful in some respects, but when it comes to cognitive decline, knowing might also be the best defence . . .

Fascinating truths about different types of intelligence and the age cohort at which they typically peak, and also this:

Although not central to the cognition issue, I would be remiss in failing to point out that most of our perceptual and motor capabilities also fit this disturbing pattern: our visual acuity, overall hearing ability, ability to discriminate speech sounds (important during delicate meetings of state), touch sensitivity, and so on. Elderly people sometimes, ahem, face odor challenges because–according to a study conducted in the 1980s — they lose much of their sense of smell in their 70s and 80s. More to the point, reaction time — our ability to respond swiftly to sudden events, which is undoubtedly an important competency for leaders — also follows this pattern.

Especially in our education and home education communities, seems to me we should use this science to inform our politics. So share this article with everyone you know who still believes Obama is the riskier choice and believes their view to be based on facts and truths and objective analysis. Then their new learning can help us all — if they’re not already too far gone cognitively themselves. 🙂

“They grow good people in the smart cities . . .”

26 10 2008

Frisky cock of the snook to Dr. Daryl Cobranchi (smart and home-educating in North Carolina):

These are vibrant, prosperous places where a knowledge economy and cool things to do after hours attract people from all over the country. Among the top 10, only two of those metro areas — Raleigh, N.C., and Lexington, Ky. — voted Republican in the 2004 presidential election.

This year, all 10 are likely to go Democratic. What’s more, with Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia now trending blue, Republicans stand to lose the nation’s 10 best-educated states as well.

It would be easy to say these places are not the real America, in the peculiar us-and-them parlance of Sarah Palin. It’s easy to say because Republicans have been insinuating for years now that some of the brightest, most productive communities in the United States are fake American — a tactic that dates to Newt Gingrich’s reign in the capitol.

Brainy cities have low divorce rates, low crime, high job creation, ethnic diversity and creative capitalism. They’re places like Pittsburgh, with its top-notch universities; Albuquerque, with its surging Latino middle class; and Denver, with its outdoor-loving young people. They grow good people in the smart cities.

But in the politically suicidal greenhouse that Republicans have constructed for themselves, these cities are not welcome. They are disparaged as nests of latte-sipping weenies, alt-lifestyle types and “other” Americans, somehow inauthentic.

If that’s what Republicans want, they are doomed to be the party of yesterday. . .

Halloween Art to Make Anyone Smile

25 10 2008

Wags and whiskers
(AP photo by Ernest Coleman / October 18, 2008)
Mowgli Joe the dog, dressed up as a scarecrow, gives 1-year-old Veronica Miller, who is wearing a dog costume, a friendly nose rub at the Wags and Whiskers Dog Rescue Howl-O-Ween fundraiser festival in Independence, Ky.

Two Types of Southern “Christianity” in Politics Being Exposed

25 10 2008

Emancipation from a “Christianity” that was totally distorted by slaveholders would go a long way toward making the white South “free at last.”

The historian and liberal arts professor author of this essay, also wrote the book with what must be acknowledged as my current favorite title ever:
“Grand Theft Jesus.”