First off, I don't really tote my gun much. And I do have more than one. In fact I have three: two rifles and a pistol. They rest quietly in the closet, disassembled, no good to anyone but me. I don't fear for my life and have no plans to keep a firearm beside my bed, ready to shoot intruders. I detest the National Rifle Association. They are everything the media says about them and worse. They are a shill for the gun and ammo manufacturers and appear to have no real regard for citizens. But none of that is why I am writing this post. I am writing this for liberals and progressives and moderates and conservatives who don't own guns or have never been around guns much and don't understand them, and certainly don't understand the broad range of reasons for gun ownership. I am writing this as a liberal gun toter who hopes to help his "side" make better arguments for restricting gun ownership. Even more to the point, I want to get my liberal friends to stop making arguments that are so incorrect that the NRA loves you to say them.
I listen to the conservative talk show hosts jumping up and down all excitedly as they rush to be the first to assign blame for the tragic attack during the Boston Marathon. Of course they point to Islam as the perpetrator. And we may discover they are right. Or we may discover that it was American White Supremacists, or religious haters from the Mid-West or organized crime or ...
But before we go too far down that road consider the following, please.
A small percentage of the world's billion or so Muslims hate all Americans. It would appear that a much larger percentage of Americans hate all Muslims. How hard should it be for people to realize that we are threatened by extremists of all sorts, not by a particular religion?
Here is a tragic truth: America lost about 3000 civilians in the 9/11 attack. It was a horrible event that angered us all. As a result we took action that killed about 120,000 civilians in Iraq alone. Not one of those civilians had anything to do with 9/11.
So, couldn't we all just show a bit of restraint and wisdom before we start accusing and blaming and punishing this time?
I live in one of the most beautiful small towns in America. However, just about every visitor to our town has to drive by this sign just as they enter. The owner of the sign puts up a new angry message every few weeks. Here is the latest.
Drive through town and you see this idyllic creek. I get to drive over this bridge a couple of times every day.
It is a great formula: Lobby the nation to go to war over false pretenses. Stir up as much fear as possible. Ignore and discredit those who claim the threat is misrepresented. Destroy the target with impunity. Give huge government contracts to the predetermined private think-tanks and publishing houses and multi-national firms who have some capability to restore infrastructure—and who have friends in high places. Pay them (often former government officials) large salaries and amazing bonuses to reassemble the parts in a form that will continue to reap huge profits for themselves. And the most insidious piece of the puzzle—don’t hold the private contractors accountable for their actions.
No, I am not talking about Iraq. I am talking about the War on Public Education. Same exact formula. Really. As we all now know, in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, our leaders had to convince us that there existed a cause (WMD’s) worthy of destroying a nation. (Just think about that thought for a second!) In the war on Public Education, the new, but just as imaginary, Weapons of Mass Destruction are the oft-reported shortage of scientists and engineers, the so-called deplorable graduation rates, the ever-present low test scores, and the increasing need for remedial classes in college. Each of those charges is as fraudulent as any claims about WMD’s. (In a recent diaryI documented how much of the complaint against Public Ed. is unfounded and often totally fabricated.)
Anyway, he keeps sending me cool pics and I'll keep posting them for him. If you didn't see his other picture from a month ago, click for his cougar photo. If you like these you'll love that one.
Today, all fifty states are under fire from a well-organized effort to totally discredit public education. The efforts come in a variety of guises: No Child Left Behind followed by Race to the Top; Standardized testing with built in failure; ridiculous attacks on science education with a push for pseudo-science teaching, such as Intelligent Design; Revisionist History; elimination of Hispanic and other ethnic study courses; privatization designed to ruin education, such as we are seeing in Louisiana; sub-contracting evaluations and assessments to private companies who have a financial stake in rating failure, such as we are seeing in nearly every state; the inflated data on Charter and Private school success. Republicans and Democrats are equally at fault here. Neither party can govern in regards to education. That is clear!
I have been a professional educator for over 20 years as both a teacher and as an administrator. While I am an insider, make no mistake, I am no huge fan of the system of education we have in America. While we don’t fail as many students as pundits would have us believe, we fail too many because in most cases we operate in the same form we used in 1930, 1950, 1980 and 2000, with little more than the cosmetic changes that blow in with political movements. Sure we have on-line classes now. We have more “accountability” while we end up with less and less local control. But not much real change has occurred in the past century. The entire system needs a dramatic overhaul. But if we continue to make changes based on misleading data and false storylines we will exacerbate problems rather than fix them. There is money—huge profits—in convincing the American people that schools are doing worse than they are but there is even bigger money in not really fixing the problems.
Below, I try to shed some light on many of the popular and widespread criticisms of public education. I have written a long diary. But there is a lot to say and a lot of misinformation out there that needs correcting.
Lately I have been reading an increasing number of blogs and comments blaming President Obama for not compromising more with the Republicans. I call BS. I want to start moving forward economically, environmentally, socially and globally as much as the next guy, but to place the fault at Obama's feet is to disregard the will of the vast majority of people on issues such as gun control, immigration, taxation, Social Security, climate change, energy, and fairness to women. Am I a total apologist for everything Obama is doing? Nope. Do I wish some things were being handled differently? Of course. But none of that changes the fact that Republican obstruction is an intentional delay tactic that gives the big bold middle finger to most of America. This power hungry, arrogant gridlock in Congress in but one piece of the Republican's great and terrible plan. The plan involves a simple dynamic, but will take years even decades to be fulfilled, and that is what makes it so insidious. Republicans are more than willing to wait for their long-term plans to hatch as they hold all of America hostage. They simply cannot afford to allow any business to take place in Congress until they have redefined the very meaning of the voting electorate. In the meantime... almost nothing gets done in Congress.
Sequestration begins, cuts are already in place, and the Dow closes at its highest level this year. Near the all-time record. Hmmm...
What is it about people that makes them want to go out of their way to insult more than half of the population? Not just to disagree with them but to hurl insults. Oh well…
He tells me he was about fifty feet away standing on a steep hill, just about even height with the cat.
Recently, students in my Contemporary World Issues class have been engaged in some serious and at times intense debate over guns, gun violence and the 2nd Amendment. Frequently in those debates, Switzerland has been mentioned as the best proof that more gun ownership does not lead to more gun violence. I admit that I have read this many, many times in blog posts and have heard it many times on television and radio, and in the past I more or less accepted that argument. So, as is often the case, I had to do some quick and serious research to keep up with my students. Since what I found was fascinating, to say the least, I wanted to share a few Internet sources and pass on some information about Switzerland and their gun laws. Sources are cited at the end of the post.
I could be wrong. Really, I could be, but if you are watching Rubio right now you have to wonder what's wrong with his mouth?