Sunday, March 14, 2010


posted by Armadillo Joe

Hey, Blog-O-Maniacs, been gone a while. Been busy, but the sched is easing up so I hope to resume posting here with some greater frequency. In the meantime, I've been exercising my re-awakening debate skills on some folks on a friend's page at Facebook.

I enjoy reading all the lefty blogs, but rather than join the "fuck, yeah!" tone of most comments sections I'm more and more drawn to engaging on Facebook because I have come to believe that, apart from our calls-to-arms phoning of Congress at key points, we aren't doing much to actually change minds out there. By focusing on each other, we're ignoring the millions who never meet a liberal in their daily lives, and only hear a steady stream of FOX and Limbaugh and Hannity. They never ever have their assumptions challenged. I increasingly think Facebook might be the only place to really do that, since most of us want to keep the family peace and don't engage when cranky Uncle Ray starts talkin' about the uppity niggers and them wimmin-folk having abortions for fun and sport.

But, on Facebook, we have a real audience and not just the person we're locking horns with, but all your common friends and family and all their friends and family. For many of the silent lurking readers, it might be the first time a lib-ruhl wasn't a burned-out 1960's era relic (a Grateful Dead-ender, if you will) or Alan Colmes. Smart, strong and engaged liberals who don't back down are a rarity throughout most of the country and our recent political history is a testament to the extent we've disengaged our fellow Americans, allowing FOX to fill the void. I urge you, all of you, to go out and give them an example and win their respect or, failing that, their silence.

As a re-introductory post, I thought I'd cross-post and get your reactions, to gauge how I did.

This is long, but worth it, I think.

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend - Can we just portray history? Dear God.

Texas Hearing Considers Deeper Conservative Stamp on Textbooks -
The Texas school board held hearings on proposed changes to the state’s social studies curriculum that would portray conservatives in a more positive light.

Thu at 8:12am · Comment · Like · Share

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend
What a bleeped up mess. Feel free. Add some of this. I'm not a Reagan fan, but to not emphasize him in a curriculum is dumb. BUT to no longer use the term American "imperialism"? Seriously people? Or to talk about how the Civil War set up unrealistic expectations? Ah man, I have a raging headache now.
Thu at 8:18am

Armadillo Joe
K, the only way these people can support their political agenda is to make up a glorious history chock-full of "facts" to support it. Since reality has a well-known liberal bias, they have to make up their own facts, just like authoritarians always have from the Nazis to the Soviets, and implant them in the unformed minds of the young. Its called indoctrination and its the only way the GOP can hope to have a coherent political party in the coming decades, by cultivating a whole generation of mis-educated nitwits.

Orwell said it best: "Who controls the past, controls the future; who controls the present, controls the past."

This post from one of my favorite bloggers sums up the whole ugly recent history of things very nicely --
Thu at 9:06am

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend
Aaaahhhh - deep sigh of relief. Missed you!
Thu at 9:42

Wingnut Douchebag's wife
I love starting the morning being called a nazi.
Thu at 9:46

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend
You could've chosen the Russkie analogy. I'll admit you and B are on remarkably different sides of the spectrum, but I guarantee he was not intending to call you a murderer.

I think anything history is a difficult world because years away give you different perspective. But I think some of the things they are trying to push through on textbooks here is truly damaging.

More importantly, I missed B because I have a couple other threads with my nut job conservatives.
Thu at 9:58

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend's husband
Erica, didn't you only convert to Judaism after you met Dan? Are you a sleeper agent?!?
Thu at 10:14

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend
Ok, I'm hoping she enjoyed that as much as me. I laughed out loud!
Thu at 10:16

Wingnut Douchebag's wife
Nice. You're really gonna hit the fan when you find out i also used to be liberal
Thu at 10:36

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend
Ah shit! Guess my request to get the families together is going to have to be flushed. D is obviously a brainwasher!
Thu at 10:38

Armadillo Joe
I wasn't calling anyone a murderer. Nor was I calling anyone a Nazi. Or a Soviet. I was calling them authoritarians and likening their strategy and tactics to those of the Nazis and Soviets. Anyone who signs on for this program of school book purification in Texas is an authoritarian with an agenda, less interested in creating a generation of well-educated citizens able to join in the give-and-take of our participatory democracy than churning out fact-averse robots, making the whole population adhere to their private system of religious and political beliefs. That's authoritarian.
Thu at 11:53am

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend's husband
I'm gonna hit the fan? Are you calling me shit? Freakin' Nazi....
Thu at 12:06pm via Email Reply

Wingnut Douchebag
There's really nothing suspect in having kids read Jefferson Davis's inaugeral address...

[***Editor's Note:  Continue reading the fireworks between Armadillo Joe and Wingnut Douchebag here.] 

Wingnut Douchebag
There's really nothing suspect in having kids read Jefferson Davis's inaugeral address. It sounds like a fascinating assignment that would force students to think critically about history. We need more of that. Similarly, it's got to be more interesting to read about Stonewall Jackson as a model of leadership than to read about Ralph Nader. One was the officer who had John Brown executed and then a leading figure in opposing the army of emancipation -- that's a fascinating life story. Ralph Nader's story is not.

Similarly, it's probably a good idea to notice that politics did not end with the ascendancy of the Great Society in the 1960s. Students should know that a major chapter of our political history followed that, including the Reagan Revolution and the Speaker's Rebellion. The history of the 30 years following 1980 should get the same kind of attention as those of the 36 years following 1932. That's not political bias, it's just acknowledging that time moves and we have more history now.

One last thought: a Texas curriculum studying Texas history probably should include the Texicans in the story.
Thu at 4:22

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend
1) not listening you brainwasher!!
2) you already have to take a full course on Texas History
3) and you are talking about critical thinking, not really the norm in an average class
Thu at 4:25

Armadillo Joe
D --

Your counter points are disingenuous at best. I have no more an objection to any young person reading Jefferson Davis' inaugural address than I do to them reading Huck Finn, chock-full though both are with intellectual relics of an earlier time which offend our modern sensibilities. Nor do I object to Stonewall Jackson as an object of study as a person of historical interest. He certainly was an interesting cat. That said, he and Jefferson Davis and all who wore the gray uniform in that conflict (including Robert E. Lee) committed treason against the United States of America in defense of human chattel slavery.

I'll say that again -- they were traitors. When material about them is presented in a classroom in the United States, it should always be with the caveat that they were traitors to this nation and its ideals and the material evaluated accordingly.

You also reveal your biases when you try to impose an argument on me which I'm not trying to make. I never said that history magically ended in the 1960's, with utopia forever. As far as I know, no one I know would try, certainly not anyone with any credibility. Yet, as ever, something about all those dirty F'n hippies smokin' dope 40 years ago still gets under Republican skin to this very day.

But then we get into the trouble with trying to cover recent history. Since we're all still living it, it's not so much history. And everyone has an opinion about it. But then, if we're still arguing about FDR and Jefferson Davis, then it will be a long and sad twilight struggle to put Reagan in his proper historical context. If we can't all even agree that McCarthy (Joe, not Eugene) and HUAC was a dark chapter in American history, or that Nixon ought to forever be blacklisted for Watergate, then what hope do we have of ever reaching a consensus as a citizenry? Certainly never when one side thinks Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly, and the Moral Majority should be held in the same regard as Martin Luther King, Betty Friedan, and the American Indian Movement.

Because, at the end of the day, it is easier to talk about the 1930's through the 1960's because -- for most of the rest of the country -- it is settled history. Laissez-Faire economic policies in the 1920's culminated in the Great Depression and the rise of fascism in Europe, which FDR's New Deal helped the country dig out of, all the while arming itself to eventually win WW2 and move on to widespread prosperity in the 1950's. The rest are the lyrics of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire" (or the plot of "Forrest Gump"), but you know the litany: Cold War, USSR, CIvil Rights, JFK, LBJ, Vietnam... the whole lot.

Except what kind of education would pit a giant of American history like MLK against a snake-oil salesman like Gingrich? I would consider it the same form and severity of child-abuse as deliberately mis-educating a child that some type of evolution "controversy" exists. Scopes Monkey Trial notwithstanding, it is settled science, just like gravity and Climate Change. Just because the corporate and Old Money underwriters of the modern GOP want Newtie to be a hero to all the little children and to keep them confused as to whether carbon emissions are really so bad, doesn't mean to do so is good public policy.

You might be comfortable pretending that all these people really want to do is magnanimously broaden the horizons of the young folks for the greater good, but we all know they have an agenda intended to advance a specific political, religious, historical and socio-economic worldview. That you seem to sign on for some portion of that worldview is immaterial to the fact that no single component of it can be separated from a wider long-term strategy that is authoritarian in nature and tone and is fundamentally antithetical to the spirit of the free society America aspires to become.

And, last, I agree with K, especially on point #3. The differentiation needed would require a level of critical-thinking not generally found in a basic history class. Jus' the facts, if we could ever all agree on what those actually were.
Thu at 8:35pm

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend's husband
Oh, SNAP!!!
Thu at 8:48pm via Email Reply

Wingnut Douchebag
Does it hurt your back to always carry all that baggage around all the time?

1) A board of elected officials suggested changes to class materials used in the system they're responsible for.

2) You call them authoritarians employing Nazi tactics for doing so.

3) I went back and read their suggestions. They include: (i) comparing the inaugural addresses of Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln; (ii) focusing on the personal leadership of Stonewall Jackson; (iii) reducing emphasis on Ralph Nader; and (iv) adjusting an over-representation of the New Deal and Great Society to reflect the political backlash of the 1980s and 1990s.

4) To guage your assertion that there's something wrong with those suggestions, I actually considered them on their merits.

If you're still living those decades (and the baggage suggests you are), you should share your time machine. For everyone else, they've been over for more than 10 years.

And by the way, your last post is utterly vacuous. Let's take your alleged parallels seriously for a moment. The parallel to Newt Gingrich would be LBJ, not King. Both are flawed individuals who were capable legislative leaders. One was clearly more successful than the other. Both shaped their eras and those eras politics. On Betty Friedan and Phyllis Schlafly, well, at least it's a better parallel, although they're contemporaries and Schlafly's position roundly drubbed Friedans -- or did you not know that the ERA was rejected and never re-proposed? I won't even dignify the comparison of the Moral Majority to the AIM: when the MOral Majority engages in shoot-outs with Federal Agents, in an act of treason, you come tell me.

For the meantime, I have no interest in dissecting what your biases are or pretending that you have the slightest idea what mine are.
Thu at 9:08

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend's husband
Oh, DOUBLE snap!!!
Thu at 10:20pm via Email Reply

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend
Ok gentlemen (1) B stop being antagonistic and (2) I LOVE the intellectual arguments, but stop with the sarcasm and name calling, please.

And Dan, if they were pushing creationism in this religious push, would you still think they were so innocent and appropriate?
Fri at 7:22

Wingnut Douchebag
A) They would still be an elected board doing their job, subject to an electoral check (several of the board members lost a primary last week, for spending an inordinate amount of time on that kind of issue rather than focusing on more mission-critical issues like the average Texas students testing poorly, not improving, and dropping out at higher-than-normal rates). So I would still question whether them doing their job as they see it would constitute "authoritarian" behavior, rather than something appropriate and reversable after they're voted out.

B) I'd want to know more about the hypothetical. Are we talking about changing the curricula to spend months examining evidence that this is an accurate depiction of life on Earth 5,000 years ago ( or some more sophisticated critique of Darwin (like disclosing that evolution is a theory, which by its nature can't be verified through the kind of peer repetition in a lab that tests most scientific theories, coupled with an exploration of what it does and doesn't explain well)? That could be appropriate, depending on the grade-level that it's going to be presented in -- as part of high school biology or AP Bio, solid, as part of 1st grade science class, really inappropriately complex as a notion...
Fri at 9:30

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend
a) the short response to that is that even the ones that were voted out have stated their resolve to push thru ideas before their term is up. Textbooks can not easily be rewritten and are only up for discussion for 10 years. So, a whole generation is affected before we an "reverse" anything.

b) my reference was to the Kansas curriculum which is more like your first example than your second which is an appropriate AP high school or college course

Or maybe a great discussion over McCormick & Schmicks? : - )
Fri at 10:34

Random Facebook Friend #1
Wow - my head is spinning!
Fri at 4:58

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend
Did you read it all? And are your kids studying creationism?? ;-)
Fri at 5:30pm

Armadillo Joe
D --

Ah, the old "baggage" canard. Nice try, Sparky, but not every liberal is a 60's-era burnout pining for pre-Reagan America.

1&2) Yes, the Nazis came to power through the legitimate electoral channels with a fully authoritarian agenda. My original claim remains intact.

3&4) All of their suggestions derive not from some spontaneous wellspring of intellectual curiosity but from well-worn talking points published by existing organizations with known agendas, from the Daughters of the Confederacy to the "intelligent design" hucksters to the myriad D.C. think tanks financed by corporations on behalf of the GOP. So, I'm fairly certain you did not consider them on their merits, but rather found an intellectual affinity for them. The giveaway? The way to you used the word theory to address Darwin's idea, which is a Scientific Theory and not just an unprovable "hunch". I quote the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

"A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than "just a theory." It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact."

Which is why anything with the slightest whiff of creationism or Intelligent Design has no more a place in a science classroom than teaching about elves or fairies or unicorns.

And "utterly vacuous"? "Roundly drubbed" Really? So, Newt should be discussed as a parallel with the 36th President (truly one of the giants of 20th Century American history) because Newt assembled a petty little GOP majority in Congress that avenged Nixon's impeachment? And because a bunch of misogynists in Congress have continually and successfully scuttled the ERA, it means Schlafly trumps Friedan as an historical figure? How? And the Moral Majority, as in Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, the same Jerry Falwell who blamed 9/11 on gays and abortion and the same Moral Majority so obsessed with the sexual habits of other people that it wants to make pornography a felony and it once publicly condemned a harmless Hollywood bedroom farce -- Billy Wilder's "Kiss Me, Stupid!" (starring Dean Martin & K Novak)? Somehow these sanctimonious busybody Luddites merit the same classroom attention as the AIM, who, yes, got into a shootout with the Feds at a place called Wounded Knee in February of 1973. Ring a bell, that place name? If your side has its way, school kids across Texas won't know why a bunch of Native Americans were upset and why it is significant that they chose to express that anger at that particular place, to the point of violence. But they sure will know that Jerry Falwell didn't want the fags to be a-kissin'. Now, that's a well-rounded education.

But it seems your side got some of its way today, though. How do any of these changes do anything but advance an agenda?

– To avoid exposing students to “transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else,” the Board struck the curriculum’s reference to “sex and gender as social constructs.”

– The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”

– The Board refused to require that “students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others.”

– The Board struck the word “democratic” from the description of the U.S. government, instead terming it a “constitutional republic.”

Thomas Jefferson? Really? The guy who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the preamble to the Constitution?

Because Jerry Falwell is so much more important.

- B
Fri at 8:00pm

Armadillo Joe’s high-school friend
Well, one has to say this is quite an enjoyable intellectual tennis match!
Fri at 10:07

Wingnut Douchebag
I'll just play fact checker:

1) The Nazi's obtained a plurality in a multi-party, proportional-representation parliament. They never elected a majority. Then they burned down their own parliament and ruled by dictat until they managed to have their nation obliterated in a total war of their own making against the entire civilized world and the Soviets. Not much of a parallel to elected officials in Texas, several of whom JUST LOST A PRIMARY AND WILL LEAVE OFFICE NEXT YEAR, taking votes and winning them when they have a majority. But, please, continue to violate Godwin's Law (emphasis on the "win").

2) I never said that evolution was a "hunch," nor was anything about science voted on this year at the SBOE. It's an irrelevancy that seems to just remain packed into your "baggage" to be pulled out, appropo of nothing, like an old, dirty sock. I did say that evolution is a theory. That's just true. Parse words as much as you want. When you run a laboratory experiment that repeats the development of Kingdoms, Phylums, Classes, Orders, Genuses, and Species from a single cell (or can explain where cells came from, with the same rigor), I'll agree that you have the right to declare what's been "confirmed through observation and experiment." Until you do, you should really stick to the scientific method if you're going to speak for science. One might say that your preference to declare that the time for questioning is over (something far more reminiscent of the Medieval church then Galileo, Newton, the Curries, Eisenberg, or Einstein) is, oh, I don't know, authoritarian and anti-scientific. Oh, and while I do enjoy the logical fallacy of appeals to authority, if the American Association for the Advancement of Science has forgotten that, they should be reminded by scientists, not applauded for it. As an aside, you again insist on claiming that you know what I think about an issue that you clearly don't -- but I don't really feel like explaining myself just now. I'll just again note that you've guessed wrong what I believe.

3) The ERA was defeated in the states, not Congress. The American people chose not to ratify it. If you want to call us all "misogynists," you go ahead. I would prefer a world where we focused that kind of energy on issues that matter: breast burning and genital mutilation in Africa, selective abortion of daughters in India and China. But, by all means, pretend that America, with Title 9 and all, is just like them. And keep wondering why it is that Friedan's heirs aren't taken seriously, while majorities in America recognize Phyllis Schlafly as a historically important figure.

4) LBJ's first epic political achievement was passing the first Civil Rights bill in 100 years out of the Senate; Newt Gingrich's was being the first American leader to abolish an entitlement. Yes, those are parallel achievements. It's sad that you think the accomplishment of the Speaker's Rebellion was impeachment. Again, you seem stuck in the '90s. In any case, LBJ obviously accomplished more -- as I said above, "One was clearly more successful than the other." Of course, only one is dead and that yet may change. But that's not history, yet, so irrelevant to this discussion.

5) They didn't vote to take Wounded Knee out of the curriculum. AIM is a domestic terrorist organization and, ultimately, as domestic movements go, the smallest of small potatoes. If your disagreements on issues really leaves you unable to recognize the difference between them and the millions of Evangelicals who played an important role in revolutionizing American politics, I just feel sorry for you.

6) Oh, and Thomas Jefferson did not write the preamble to the Constitution. He was our envoy to France at the time of the Convention, busy praising the Terror and backing genocide ("I would have seen half the earth desolated; were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is."). Try again.

7) Have you read the Federalist Papers? We are a Federal, constitutional republic. The Founders despised democracy as lawless mob rule. If they're making this point and explaining it in Texas's new curriculum, all the better.
Yesterday at 9:27am

Random Facebook Friend #2
Do either of you have a book deal yet 'cause you both sure talk pretty!
Yesterday at 9:38am

Armadillo Joe
D --

1) Your understanding of the word "Law" seems to be little better than your understanding of the word "Theory." Godwin's Law, besides being tongue-and-cheek, is a descriptive law in the scientific sense and not a normative law in the judicial sense. Thus, I can't really violate it. I can, however, adhere to it. And I did!

Nevertheless, you keep trying to make my original claim stronger than I ever made it. The Nazis, like the Soviets, came into power legally, through legitimate electoral channels. The fact that the Weimar Republic (and the Karinsky government, for that matter) was too corrupt and too weak and too culturally lacking in a history of representative government to withstand the authoritarian assault on it (and the American government, by extension, is strong enough) does nothing to diminish the fact that the people who have taken over the Texas State School Board are trying to use the power of the educational system to ram a very narrow set of views into the state's teaching of history, an essential component of any socio-cultural identity. Authoritarians and their enablers throughout history, from Peter the Great to Napoleon Bonaparte to Saddam Hussein, have always done the same thing. Yes, we fought a big ol' war and put down them Nazis, but that's because their march to total power succeeded. So far, these narrow-minded goosesteppers have been thwarted. I hope that continues. Slick little dig, BTW -- "the entire civilized world and the Soviets." Yeesh, do you guys ever let up?

2) No irrelevant baggage on my part here. I intentionally baited you and you took it, hook-line-and-sinker. I figured your stance on the rest of the issues before the school board put you on the side of those who advocate "teaching the controversy." I was right, you went after it like a shark goes after a trail of chum.

Well, sorry, but the only controversy is with those who ignore the experts when it is inconvenient. Funny that you accused me of a logical fallacy when I quoted the AAAS because the whole point of setting science education standards (or any standards in any educational field, for that matter) is to teach what the experts say is important, experts like the good people at the AAAS. John Q. Bible-Thumper can teach his kids whatever superstitious mythologies he wants in the privacy of his own home and at church on Sunday, but in a science classroom his private beliefs have no place whatsoever. So, where's the fallacy in deferring to the verbiage of the experts? They say creationism and intelligent design are non-starters for science curriculum. That's good enough for me.

That should be the end of the issue, yet you try to draw a pathetic (and unintentionally humorously ironic) historical parallel between Modern Science and the Medieval Church, when in truth the only people who think this is a controversy at all happen to largely agree with the dictates of the Medieval Church with regards to science, in spirit if not in actual word. If you want to talk about logical fallacies, I believe you just committed the fallacy of false equivalence. Just because the opinion of modern science is that the position of the creationists isn't worth considering doesn't mean it is exactly the same thing as the Medieval Church declaring the earth 6,000 years old and banning the investigation of vacuums. For that to be the case, both sides would have to have equal merit. Yet, one is a broad, global consensus reached through decades of verifiable research by hundreds of thousands of experts in a broad range of fields, from chemistry to geology to mathematics to paleobiology, while the other is derived from fealty to a book of questionable authorship by a narrow, hierarchical ruling class with a vested interest in hoarding knowledge. Who also had the power to kill anyone who defied them (see Galilei comma Galileo). Death sentences for dissent is pretty much the definition of authoritarian to me. As far as I know, Modern Science lacks that power, unless you count those who opt out, like the faith healers.

3) You're right, Congress didn't scuttle the ERA, the states did. A factual error. My bad, OK, but how does that change my essential point? And yes, those horrific things do happen in Africa and China and India but that's a red herring, also a logical fallacy. I believe we are morally obligated work to solve those problems, to end those travesties, but since we were talking about goings-on on this side of the Atlantic, what is so objectionable about the ERA and why is its defeat to be celebrated? And where did I ever say that voting down the ERA was somehow just exactly the same and just exactly as bad and misogynistic as female genital mutilation in Africa?

Again, you're the one who keeps trying to pack extra baggage (dirty socks and all) into my arguments. Not sure which logical fallacy that is, but it seems to qualify under at least the Straw Man and the Red Herring. And who doesn't take Friedan seriously? Lots of people you know, I'm sure, but just because you don't know anyone who takes her seriously and a majority who do take Schlafly seriously, doesn't make that true for the rest of the country. I believe that's called the Fallacy of the Biased Sample. Got any stats on your claim that "majorities in America recognize Phyllis Schlafly as a historically important figure"? Schlafly is just one more reactionary in a long line of reactionaries (going all the way back to the first caveman who bitched about how stupid hot all that new-fangled "fire" was) who wax poetic about an earlier, simpler time and more or less just complain about the modern world while exhorting the masses to go back to the way things used to be. The fact that she, with not one jot of self-reflection, got rich and famous as a woman who urged all the other women to stay at home and make babies and service their husbands, is not without a certain delicious irony and a healthy dollop of hypocrisy. As far as I can tell, Schlafly's only really famous for going after “the gay and lesbian agenda,” calling for the “impeachment” of Supreme Court justices, calling anyone who believes in evolution an “atheist,” and opposing the Violence Against Women Act, claiming that women “are too emotional to handle intellectual or scientific debate” and describing sex education as “in-home sales parties for abortions.” If that makes her more important than Betty Friedan launching Second Wave Feminism, somehow, please explain in greater detail.

4) I can hardly bring myself to dignify this claim with a rejoinder, but... the fight to pass the Civil Rights Bills of 1964 & 1965 against the backdrop of violence and social turmoil is a parallel achievement to Gingrich's passing a broad legislative agenda of welfare reform, term limits, tougher crime laws and a balanced budget law during a time of relative peace and prosperity? Egads, maybe it's just me but I think LBJ (a white Southern politician at a time when his party's whole base of power depended on mollifying the racist white Southern politicians) using all the political capital he'd garnered over decades -- in one heroic achievement -- to move epic legislation that redressed a century of institutionalized racism which itself had followed four centuries of race-specific enslavement at great cost to himself and his party versus... some tax cuts... is a no-brainer for the lasting and more historically significant achievement.

And I'm not even deducting points for Newt's tantrum when he shut down the government because he didn't get a seat in the right part of Air Force One. And, of course, the whole impeachment thing, which was after he left (in shame and under ethics charges), but it was his team's roster who pushed that dog-and-pony show through the House. Which you think is sad. To which I say, so what? Still, I seriously doubt little Newtie will ever actually accomplish enough to ever be worthy of polishing LBJ's boots in heaven (or purgatory or wherever), much less considered a co-equal, but you're right: he ain't dead yet, so it remains to be seen, I suppose. Smart money wouldn't bet that way, but stranger things have happened.

5) Yes, I know they didn't vote to take Wounded Knee out of the curriculum. Yet. But since both the 1890 and the 1973 incidents make America look bad, how long until they do? Because oooh, "domestic terrorist organization" -- booga, booga, booga!! And you feel sorry for me? Aw, thanks, dude. Much obliged, because that's really what I'm after here: your pity.

Look, I know your side enjoys employing the logical fallacy of the Appeal to Fear, shutting down rational debate by using scary labels, but just calling them "domestic terrorists" doesn't do anything to examine who they are, what they want or why they feel they have to use the tactics and strategy they do. Considering that the Feds, such as they are, have only really ever swindled them out of their native lands, herded them onto barren reservations, violated virtually every treaty they ever signed and otherwise methodically committed genocide against them (smallpox and blankets or whisky or -- failing that -- the Gatling Gun), you reveal your historical amnesia by dismissing them with such a contemporary notion as "domestic terrorist" and belittling them as small potatoes. Who's domesticity are we talking about here? Last I checked, they were here first.

And as for a few million white, heterosexual fundamentalist Christians forming an organization to assert their rights as white, heterosexual fundamentalist Christians to keep participating in (and, frankly, dominating) American politics hardly qualifies as revolutionary.

6) Yes, busted. Another factual error. A gent named Gouverneur Morris wrote the preamble. Which totally proves me completely wrong in every way, so touché -- Thomas Jefferson was a rabble-loving troublemaker unfit for the dignified halls of American Valhalla. Hence, you're right to toe the emerging GOP party line and purge Thomas Jefferson from the ranks of acceptable American heroes. Boy howdy, you fell in line quick on that one. Way to follow orders. With Teddy Roosevelt no longer in the ranks of the "good" presidents (thanks to Glenn Beck) and Abie Baby always on the ropes for having been on the wrong side of the War of Northern Aggression, I guess Mount Rushmore should just be detonated and turned into one gigantic bust of Saint Ronnie?

7) I have read the Federalist Papers. So what? No we are not a direct democracy. Never were, Electoral College and all that. And besides, the word "democratic" is also the name of a certain political party, as much as you guys like the schoolyard taunt of dropping the "ic" from the end of it. Not that the homonymousnature of the two words had anything to do with it, I'm sure. Anymore than "constitutional republic" also happens to sound very much like another particular political party.

But since all "democracy" really means is "rule of the people," in that sense of the word, of course we are a democracy: a representative democracy, which is a type of republic. And, beyond that, which level of government are you talking about? We directly elect our senators (we even passed a Constitutional Amendment to make that happen, the 17th -- gasp! a deviation from the Framer's Original Intent! O My!) and directly elect our representatives to the House and we directly elect our state bodies of government as well as county and local. Some states even allow statewide referendums, most famously California.

So, how much of the Federalist Papers has anything to do with who and what we are now? Again, a Red Herring logical fallacy. The SBOE struck the word from the description of the type of government we are now, today, not the one envisioned in the Federalist Papers and that is wrong, factually wrong. Yes, our mighty Founding Fathers (except for that big, bad Thomas Jefferson, the scoundrel and third president) recoiled at the thought of democracy and mob rule. That's why they limited representation to white, wealthy land-owners, many of whom were also slave owners.

Hey, I know you don't like this word, but we've evolved since then.

-- B
Yesterday at 6:57pm

Wingnut Douchebag
I'll be brief:

No, the point of teaching science is to inculcate the scientific method, not to learn what experts say is important. The method is the whole ball of wax.

No. Newt Gingrich did not leave under an ethical cloud. He was dumped by a caucus sick of him shooting his mouth off and committing them to things without their consent. And he resigned rather than return to a back bench.
Yesterday at 7:53pm

Armadillo Joe
gracious lord, your first counterpoint is mere sophistry. The reason creationism is categorically excluded from science curriculum is precisely because the scientific method precludes considering it.

your second ignores the plain fact that in the fall of 1998 Gingrich was in the midst of settling the only fine ever leveled at a seated Speaker of the House for ethics violations, however much damage his unctious personality may have done to GOP electoral results notwithstanding. Many at the time thought his resignation was a brokered deal to fend off felony charges. The fact that he tried to make his resignation sound dignified and principled doesn't make it true.
9 hours ago

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