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When Michael McCaul (R-Texas 10th District) replaced Lloyd Doggett as my representative in Congress, I signed up for his e-mail newsletter. I like to know what the people who represent me in government are doing.

During this shutdown, it seems that he can still send e-mails out, but the service for sending e-mails to him is not functioning. So I've pasted my latest message below.

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Today on Face the Nation, Lindsey Graham expressed his outrage at the deficits in our intelligence regarding the Benghazi affair. Why didn’t we know what was happening there? Why did it take so long for the truth to come out? Why was the Obama administration so slow in dealing with the situation?

If we are going to do some finger-pointing about intelligence, I would like to ask Senator Graham where he was during the Bush administration when we were receiving faulty intelligence about the situation in Iraq. Where was his outrage when we found no weapons of mass destruction? Why we were not (as promised) greeted as liberators by the people whose country we were invading?

Four citizens of this great United States died because of the attack on the consulate at Benghazi. They died in service to their country, and we mourn their deaths. If they died as a result of intelligence failure, however, they are in exactly the same category as the more than four thousand American troops who died as a result of the great intelligence failures that led to the war in Iraq.

So, Senator Graham, Senator McCain, and all the other lawmakers who have their panties in a wad about Benghazi, let’s have a complete and thorough investigation of intelligence failures, starting with the previous administration.  It is time to get a committee together to investigate who knew what, and when. Besides the previous President and his cabinet and advisors, let’s include all the Senators and Congressmen who voted for war in Iraq. What was the motive of the Bush administration? Did they know the intelligence was flawed? Why didn’t the lawmakers do a better job of vetting the information that was given to them before they accepted the reports they were given, and moved to support the President? This was surely a dereliction of duty on the part of each and every one of them.

I am deeply troubled by this. I want answers.

If you are upset by the unnecessary deaths of four members of a diplomatic mission because of flawed intelligence, you should also be upset by the unnecessary deaths of 4,486 members of our military who died in the Iraq war which was based on flawed intelligence.

This should never happen in a country as great as ours. The people who allowed it to happen were clearly unfit to do the jobs which they were required to do.

It is past time for an investigation. Let’s start now!

Poll

Should there be an investigation of Iraq War intelligence failures?

96%503 votes
3%17 votes

| 520 votes | Vote | Results

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Mon May 28, 2012 at 06:08 PM PDT

Why Class Size Matters

by Gary of Austin

Today I’ve been reading the stories about Mitt Romney’s comments that class sizes don’t matter in how well students do in school, and I’m turning the keyboard over to an experienced high school teacher, Mrs. Gary of Austin.  Here’s what she has to say:

There are many variables in a classroom, all of which affect student performance.  
First, there is the condition of the student himself or herself: Has he or she had a good breakfast?  A good night’s sleep? A fight with the parents/guardians? A fight with the girlfriend/boyfriend?

Then, there are the conditions under which the student has studied to prepare for the day. Was there a quiet place with good lighting, no distractions, and ample time to finish the assignments? Did the parents/guardians and other family members respect the student’s need for time and quiet to focus on schoolwork? What else was happening in the home while the student was trying to do homework?

All of these things take place outside the classroom, and all of them affect what happens inside the classroom. None of them have anything to do with individual student capability.  A Math genius who has to take care of her baby sister because her mother is working the night shift might be too tired to perform well in class—or on that all-important exam.  A student who has to help his father in the family business every night until closing time might fall asleep over his History homework—because he saved his favorite subject for last.

In these situations, and in many others, a teacher with a smaller class size is more able to give individual attention to his/her students and help them over the rougher spots of their educational life so that they can attain their full potential. A teacher with a larger class size may be so overwhelmed by the multiple students needing attention that he/she gives up on the “problem kids” and just focuses on the “good kids,” the ones who consistently perform well in the classroom.  

These “good kids” would probably do as well in a small classroom as in a large classroom. Having learned how to achieve high grades, they will continue to study well, and they will complete their education well.  So some folks, like Mr. Romney, or the authors of the Harvard study he cited, might say that class size doesn’t matter. Cream will rise to the top, no matter where it is found.

But smaller class sizes allow the teacher to focus on everyone, including the “problem kids.” Smaller class sizes allow “problem kids” to have more attention and help from their teachers and their school administrators in overcoming their problems. Instead of just slapping a failing grade on a paper, for example, the teacher can explain why and how the assignment failed and guide the student to success on the next assignment.  That is possible only when the teacher has a manageable number of papers to grade and a manageable number of students to guide.

Even sassy troublemakers who lead their friends into mischievous pranks can succeed academically if the teachers and the administrators are on their side. Surely Mr. Romney ought to know that.

Discuss

Mon May 28, 2012 at 11:09 AM PDT

Introduction

by Gary of Austin

I grew up in a family of Roosevelt Democrats, who believed in the New Deal.  They grew up in the Dust Bowl days, and their families knew how to stretch a penny.  I became a Republican in my rebellious college days, then a political independent when Reagan was President, and finally a Democrat again during the Clinton years. Today I’m a proud liberal deep in the heart of Texas, where I’ve been living for more than 30 years, although my original roots are in cowboy country, out west of the Pecos and north of the Red River.  

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