Education In Texas – Ruled by Conservative Ideology, It’s Failing The Nation

This is getting to be a familiar scenario: The Texas Board of Education, preparing to adopt new curriculum standards, makes our schoolchildren’s textbooks a matter of highly partisan wrangling.

When the board met last week to discuss what to teach Texas’s; public school students in history, geography, government and economics, their preliminary druthers were heavily weighted in favor of the blatantly divisive and ideological views of the board’s conservative majority.

In May 2009, reported Scharrer, an exasperated Leticia Van de Putte, Democratic senator from San Antonio, told the Senate that the board had become the “laughingstock of the nation” under the two-year leadership of Don McLeroy, a Bryan dentist who believes the Earth is about 6,000 years old.

This pattern would be troublesome in any agency, but when it concerns the very foundation of what we teach our 4.8 million public school students, how we equip them to grow into functioning adults and to compete in a national and international market, it is untenable. (via One more time: Texas education board yet again promotes ideology over academics | Editorial | – Houston Chronicle.)

In Texas the biggest chasm, and the biggest fights over ideology, have always taken place in the School Board and Board of Education elections. I find it sad that the education I was given in the 1960’s was probably head and shoulders above what will now be taught to my grandkids. Open minded, science based education has become the missing link in Texas political culture. Sadly, as goes Texas so goes the rest of the nation due to the Texas market for school books.

Sometimes you have to wonder at the rest of the nation’s blindness in watching Texas education practices become the national norm…From President Bush’s No Child Left Behind and it’s reliance on skills testing while cutting costs to the conservative block’s block on textbooks that really teach, Texas isn’t leading this country’s education system anywhere but to the bottom. I guess that could be the idea. If everyone is “dumbed down” to your level, the playing field is pretty level…Until that is, you have to compete on the international stage…

Hell, even Paul Krugman has noticed this little game being played in the wasteland of news coverage and asked what gives them the right to set the nations educational standards…

And Now…A Special Comment

Keith Olberman has his say on the Supreme Court ruling…

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The Transcript…

Olbermann: U.S. government for sale

With no limits on campaign financing, corporations will take over the government
By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, ‘Countdown’
updated 8:29 p.m. CT, Thurs., Jan. 21, 2010

Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on the Supreme Court’s ruling today in the case titled “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.”

On the cold morning of Friday, March 6th, 1857, a very old man who was born just eight months and thirteen days after the Declaration of Independence was adopted; a man who was married to the sister of the man who wrote “The Star Spangled Banner;” a man who was enlightened enough to have freed his own slaves and given pensions to the ones who had become too old to work read aloud, in a reed-thin voice, a very long document.

In it, he ruled on a legal case involving a slave, brought by his owner to live in a free state; yet to remain a slave.

The slave sought his freedom, and sued. And looking back over legal precedent, and the Constitution, and the America in which it was created, this judge ruled that no black man could ever be considered an actual citizen of the United States.

“They had for more than a century before been, regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far unfit, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

The case, of course, was Dred Scott. The old man was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States of America, Roger Brooke Tawney. And the outcome, he believed, would be to remove the burning question of the abolition of slavery from the political arena for once and for all.

The outcome, in fact, was the Civil War. No American ever made a single bigger misjudgment. No American ever carried the responsibility for the deaths and suffering of more Americans. No American ever was more quickly vilified. Within four years Chief Justice Tawney’s rulings were being ignored in the South and the North.

Within five, President Lincoln at minimum contemplated arresting him. Within seven, he died, in poverty, while still Chief Justice. Within eight, Congress had voted to not place a bust of him alongside those of the other former Chief Justices.

But good news tonight, Roger B. Tawney is off the hook.

Today, the Supreme Court, of Chief Justice John Roberts, in a decision that might actually have more dire implications than “Dred Scott v Sandford,” declared that because of the alchemy of its 19th Century predecessors in deciding that corporations had all the rights of people, any restrictions on how these corporate-beings spend their money on political advertising, are unconstitutional.

In short, the first amendment — free speech for persons — which went into affect in 1791, applies to corporations, which were not recognized as the equivalents of persons until 1886. In short, there are now no checks on the ability of corporations or unions or other giant aggregations of power to decide our elections.

None. They can spend all the money they want. And if they can spend all the money they want — sooner, rather than later — they will implant the legislators of their choice in every office from President to head of the Visiting Nurse Service.

And if senators and congressmen and governors and mayors and councilmen and everyone in between are entirely beholden to the corporations for election and re-election to office soon they will erase whatever checks there might still exist to just slow down the ability of corporations to decide the laws.

It is almost literally true that any political science fiction nightmare you can now dream up, no matter whether you are conservative or liberal, it is now legal. Because the people who can make it legal, can now be entirely bought and sold, no actual citizens required in the campaign-fund-raising process.

And the entirely bought and sold politicians, can change any laws. And any legal defense you can structure now, can be undone by the politicians who will be bought and sold into office this November, or two years from now.

And any legal defense which honest politicians can somehow wedge up against them this November, or two years from now, can be undone by the next even larger set of politicians who will be bought and sold into office in 2014, or 2016, or 2018.

Mentioning Lincoln’s supposed ruminations about arresting Roger B. Tawney, he didn’t say the original of this, but what the hell:

Right now, you can prostitute all of the politicians some of the time, and prostitute some of the politicians all the time, but you cannot prostitute all the politicians all the time. Thanks to Chief Justice Roberts this will change. Unless this mortal blow is somehow undone, within ten years, every politician in this country will be a prostitute.

And now let’s contemplate what that perfectly symmetrical, money-driven world might look like. Be prepared, first, for laws criminalizing or at least neutering unions. In today’s Court Decision, they are the weaker of the non-human sisters unfettered by the Court. So, like in ancient Rome or medieval England, they will necessarily be strangled by the stronger sibling, the corporations, so they pose no further threat to the Corporations’ total control of our political system.

Be prepared, then, for the reduction of taxes for the wealth, and for the corporations, and the elimination of the social safety nets for everybody else, because money spent on the poor means less money left for the corporations.

Be prepared, then, for wars sold as the “new products” which Andy Card once described them as,  year-after-year, as if they were new Fox Reality Shows, because Military Industrial Complex Corporations are still corporations. Be prepared, then, for the ban on same-sex marriage, on abortion, on evolution, on separation of church and state. The most politically agitated group of citizens left are the evangelicals, throw them some red meat to feed their holier-than-thou rationalizations, and they won’t care what else you do to this corporate nation.

Be prepared, then, for racial and religious profiling, because you’ve got to blame somebody for all the reductions in domestic spending and civil liberties, just to make sure the agitators against the United Corporate States of America are kept unheard.

Be prepared for those poor dumb manipulated bastards, the Tea Partiers, to have a glorious few years as the front men as the corporations that bankroll them slowly unroll their total control of our political system. And then be prepared to watch them be banished, maybe outlawed, when a few of the brighter ones suddenly realize that the corporations have made them the Judas Goats of American Freedom.

And be prepared, then, for the bank reforms that President Obama has just this day vowed to enable, to be rolled back by his successor purchased by the banks, with the money President Bush gave them his successor, presumably President Palin, because if you need a friendly face of fascism, you might as well get one that can wink, and if you need a tool of whichever large industries buy her first, you might as well get somebody who lives up to that word “tool.”

Be prepared for the little changes, too. If there are any small towns left to take-over, Wal-Mart can now soften them up with carpet advertising for their Wal-Mart town council candidates, brought to you by Wal-Mart.

Be prepared for the Richard Mellon Scaifes to drop such inefficiencies as vanity newspapers and simply buy and install their own city governments in the Pittsburghs. Be prepared for the personally wealthy men like John Kerry to become the paupers of the Senate, or the ones like Mike Bloomberg not even surviving the primary against Halliburton’s choice for Mayor of New York City.

Be prepared for the end of what you’re watching now. I don’t just mean me, or this program, or this network. I mean all the independent news organizations, and the propagandists like Fox for that matter, because Fox inflames people against the state, and after today’s ruling, the corporations will only need a few more years of inflaming people, before the message suddenly shifts to “everything’s great.”

Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh don’t even realize it: today, John Roberts just cut their throats too. So, with critics silenced or bought off, and even the town assessor who lives next door to you elected to office with campaign funds 99.9 percent drawn from corporate coffers — what are you going to do about it? The Internet!

The Internet? Ask them about the Internet in China. Kiss net neutrality goodbye. Kiss whatever right to privacy you think you currently have, goodbye. And anyway, what are you going to complain about, if you don’t even know it happened? In the new world unveiled this morning by John Roberts, who stops Rupert Murdoch from buying the Associated Press?

This decision, which in mythology would rank somewhere between “The Bottomless Pit” and “The Opening Of Pandora’s Box,” got next to no coverage in the right-wing media today, almost nothing in the middle, and a lot less than necessary on the left.

The right wing won’t even tell their constituents that they are being sold into bondage alongside the rest of us. And why should they? For them, the start of this will be wonderful.

The Republicans, Conservatives, Joe Liebermans, and Tea Partiers are in the front aisle at the political prostitution store. They are specially discounted old favorites for their Corporate Masters. Like the first years of irreversible climate change, for the conservatives the previously cold winter will grow delightfully warm. Only later will it be hot. Then unbearable. Then flames.

And the conservatives will burn with the rest of us. And they’ll never know it happened. So, what are you going to do about it? Turn to free speech advocates? These were the free speech advocates! The lawyer for that Humunculous who filed this suit, Dave Bossie, is Floyd Abrams.

Floyd Abrams, who has spent his life defending American freedoms, especially freedom of speech. Apparently this life was spent this way in order to guarantee that when it really counted, he could help the corporations destroy free speech.

His argument, translated from self-satisfied legal jargon, is that as a function of the First Amendment, you must allow for the raping and pillaging of the First Amendment, by people who can buy the First Amendment.

He will go down in the history books as the Quisling of freedom of speech in this country. That is if the corporations who now buy the school boards which decide which history books get printed, approve. If there are still history books. So, what are you going to do about it?

Russ Feingold told me today there might yet be ways to work around this, to restrict corporate governance, and how corporations make and spend their money. I pointed out that any such legislation, even if it somehow sneaked past the last U.S. Senate not funded by a generous gift from the Chubb Group would eventually wind up in front of a Supreme Court, and whether or not John Roberts is still at its head would be irrelevant.

The next nine men and women on the Supreme Court will get there not because of their judgement nor even their politics. They will get there because they were appointed by purchased presidents and confirmed by purchased Senators.

This is what John Roberts did today. This is a Supreme Court-sanctioned murder of what little actual Democracy is left in this Democracy. It is government of the people by the corporations for the corporations. It is the Dark Ages. It is our Dred Scott. I would suggest a revolution but a revolution against the corporations? The corporations that make all the guns and the bullets?

Maybe it won’t be this bad. Maybe the corporations legally defined as human beings, but without the pesky occasional human attributes of conscience and compassion maybe when handed the only keys to the electoral machine, they will simply not re-design America in their own corporate image.

But let me leave you with this final question: After today who’s going to stop them?

© 2010


Decision 2000…The Decision That Keeps On Giving

Supreme Court

A divided Supreme Court on Thursday swept aside decades of legislative restrictions on the role of corporations in political campaigns, ruling that companies can dip into their treasuries to spend as much as they want to support or oppose individual candidates. (via Supreme Court rejects limits on corporate spending on political campaigns –

And so it goes…The Bush Supreme Court continues it’s record of decisions against people and for the “corporate citizen”. Isn’t it amazing how a the third rail of our government has perverted itself? Instead of protecting the rights of it’s citizens, it keeps abrogating those rights and expanding the rights of a comercial citizen that doesn’t (not in reality anyway) exist.

Walking down this road is going to mean the death of any hopes of keeping politicians honest. With the ability to spend unlimited corporate money to “speak” to and about candidates, the common man has just had his voice squelched. It’s kind of like standing at a burning house and trying to pee the fire out…When the fire company shows up with their unlimited water supply who do you think the flames will be listening to? The analogy breaks down though, because with the fire the result you are both trying to accomplish is to put out the fire…Corporations have only one reason for being and that is to make a profit. Seldom is their ability to maximize profit aligned with the common good of the people.

I guess the next move we need to watch out for is the vote…Is each corporate citizen going to be given just one vote? Or, as it seems more likely now, will we give them a vote for every “real” body they have on the payroll? Or better yet, can they have every vote they can buy? Since we all know the free market rules, I think I’ll just go ahead and beat the crowd and open a voter’s exchange…Wait, better idea, let’s move the exchange to Washington. We’ll let the people have a market to peddle influence just like their “elected” representatives. Do you think congress will allow us to intrude on their monopoly?

Maybe what we need to do is set up a third house of legislation. One just for these imaginary citizens that lawyers are so insistent must have their rights protected. Let them elect their own representative and keep their money grubbing hands off of ours. We can call it “The House of Chairmen”. It can be kind of like the British House of Lords…except, like all good corporate executives they can sit and meetings all day and blame the failures on the other two houses.

The one thing I have yet to figure out though is…How do we keep these corporate contributions from becoming a way for foreign nationals to influence our elections? I mean, think about it, don’t most large corporations claim legal citizenship in other countries just to avoid taxation? If you are not going to pay your fair share of taxes in America, why do you think you should have a say at all in our elections? Damn, maybe those crazy conservatives are on to something after all…Hell they all claim to be fiscal conservatives. Maybe they are trying to force all of these corporations to become real citizens and “pay to play”…Naw…I doubt it even crossed their minds.

I would say this would really have the “states rights” conservatives up in arms…Can’t you just hear Rick Perry talking about secession over this overturning of Texas constitutional rights. Hell in Texas we don’t allow any “corporate money” in campaigns. But, since it always seems to trip them up when the auditors go looking, I am sure he wont be screaming about this usurpation  of a states right to decide what is best for it’s own citizens…

It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.

~ President Barak Obama

I guess it really is a difference of perspective…Doesn’t it seem strange that it is only the conservatives who equate free speech with money?

The ruling will protect the Constitution’s First Amendment rights of free speech and association.

~ Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

It seems the right of “free association” just got a higher price tag…

evil plans and big companies | Gapingvoid

Today I found myself re-reading the latest ebook from Seth Godin (A Weekday Routine Is Always Disrupted By A Weekend… | Coffee Muses) and ended up following the link to Hugh Macleod’s where I stumbled over this gem…A list of 6 ways to execute “Evil Plans” within a large company. Number 5 struck a real chord with me and my 35 year history at Freeman.

5. Create your own luck. Create your own job desc­rip­tion. None of the best jobs in large cor­po­ra­tion are ever crea­ted by your boss. They’re crea­ted by you taking the ini­tia­tive. And there’s a defi­nite art to that. ~ evil plans and big companies | Gapingvoid.

It was the second part that caught my eye…One of the things I always said when I was at Freeman was that the minute they came up with a job description for whatever job title I had at the moment it was time to change my title. For the longest, I was able to gety away with that policy. My General Managers valued my contribution and the way I would work across department boundaries. My experience and my talents and skills allowed me to fit in with every department within our local branch. Sadly for me, managers change and the corporate culture became defined by MBA graduates. Everything must fit within the corporate definition. Anything that doesn’t is culled…

So in the end I was culled…And the company posted it’s worst year ever fiscally. The manager who didn’t value my talents is gone…Also culled. And the company goes forward into the third generation of management.I begin to believe the analysis of my cousin with the double degree…Most companies fail when the scond generation takes over the reins…Almost none make it to the third…It was after we had that conversation that I realized that Freeman, though having a second generation in the top seat, still relied on the first generation of upper management. As I watched those managers retire the feel of the company changed. More credit was placed in academic degrees, less attention was placed on the benefits of long experience. Another change, with the hiring of more and more MBA executives, there was a push to free up Freeman stock in the Freeman ESOP…Making all of us long-term employees a problem in their recruiting…I enjoyed a long, friend filled relationship with the company… I wish them luck.

For the record The list for those that don’t want to follow the links…

  1. An EVIL PLAN’S suc­cess is 90% the peo­ple around you.
  2. If your EVIL PLAN is not alig­ned with what your com­pany is doing, you have two choi­ces.
  3. Patience is a vir­tue.
  4. Risk.
  5. Create your own luck. Create your own job desc­rip­tion.
  6. Prac­tice. Fail.

To see the full list with all of the paragraphs and not just the first sentences…Follow the link: evil plans and big companies | Gapingvoid.

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