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Sun Nov 09, 2014 at 05:45 PM PST

The message

by vickijean

Quick, what is the GOP message? No snark, for real, what do they say they are for? Lower taxes and less government. Less regulation. Traditional values.

OK. I get it. It is more complex than that. But this is the message, the very same exact message they have been pushing since the 80s. No variation. No equivocation. They don't bother to explain, to put forth solutions, to act on anything. But their message is startlingly clear. And this is the important part: people believe them.

Quick what is the Democratic message? Income inequality? GOP is crazy. GOP is regressive. Why do people listen to Fox? We are better. Tolerance. Umm.

Here is what President Obama said in May:

"We believe in pay equity; they say, no. We believe in a higher minimum wage; they say, no. We believe in making sure that we’re investing in our infrastructure and putting people back to work, and investing in innovation and basic research that can unlock cures for things like Alzheimer’s; their budget takes us in the opposite direction. We believe in early childhood education to make sure that opportunity for all actually means something, that it’s not just a slogan; they say, no. We think climate change is real. Some of them say it’s a hoax, that we’re fabricating it. And the biggest challenge we have is not just that there’s a fundamental difference in vision and where we want to take the country, not just the fact that they continue to subscribe to a top-down approach to economic growth and opportunity and we believe that the economy works better when it works for everybody and that real growth happens from the bottom up and the middle out."'
Pretty catchy, eh? We are blaming voters, the Koch brothers, voter disenfranchisement, GOP negativity, ad nauseum. What we need is five words. Five things we stand for. And then we need to recite those 5 things as the answer to every question. In every interview, in every press conference, in every ad buy.

Our voters are not lazy and unmotivated. They are overwhelmed. Life is loud and noisy and complex. Five words. Not paragraphs. Not exegesis. Not 15 point policies. Five words. First get people's attention. First get their affirmation. Then we can be wonks again.

Discuss

Thu Nov 06, 2014 at 08:14 AM PST

Neo- Confederates Emboldened

by vickijean

In case you haven't heard, the GOP won big on Tuesday. We have responded by wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending our garments. All appropriate responses. Some have moved on to speculating what the GOP will do with all that power. Continue to obstruct? Work in a reasonable fashion to pass legislation on which there is common ground? Or pass every extreme bit of fantasy they have ever dreamed of? There is strong evidence of the latter in Mississippi.

On Wednesday AM, this little gem popped up in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger: Ballot Petition Aims to Protect Confederate Heritage.

A Mississippi heritage group has launched a proposed ballot measure which would amend the state's constitution to recognize Christianity as the official religion of the state and English as the official language of the state.

The 12-part measure would also establish "Confederate Heritage Month," which would provide a curriculum base for school children to learn about "Mississippi's Confederate history, heritage, achievements, and prominent people," the initiative reads.

The article understates the byzantine nature of the petition. Read on.
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Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 12:23 PM PDT

They just don't get it

by vickijean

A constant theme here in Kos-world is what to do with friends, neighbors, relatives who are lunatic fringe conservatives. Solutions range from just ignore them/change the subject, to run for your life, to fight to the death. I finally have come to the conclusion that there simply is no rational response to irrational behavior. I am not a quitter, but honest to God, how can otherwise intelligent people be so clueless?

First, some context. I live in the reddest of red states, but I live in a blue county. The combination of being a university town and a population that is 64% African American led to a 69% vote for Obama in 2012 when the state voted 55% for Romney. But this is the old South, the unrepentant South, the defiant South. Traditional conservative values: Tea Party need not apply. Thad Cochran won by 68% in the primary against Tea Party darling Chris McDaniel, then 71% in the runoff in this county. That race was a near tie statewide

So let me tell you about a conversation with my friend Camille that illustrates the contradictions in the conservative belief system.

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[Dolly:]
Put on your Sunday clothes when you feel down and out
Strut down the street and have your picture took
Dressed like a dream your spirits seem to turn about
That Sunday shine is a certain sign
That you feel as fine as you look!

Dolly & Ambrose:
Beneath your parasol, the world is all a smile
That makes you feel brand new down to your toes

[Dolly, Ambrose, Cornelius, & Barnaby:]
Get out your feathers, your patent leathers
Your beads and buckles and bows
For there's no blue Monday in your Sunday...
No Monday in your Sunday...
No Monday in your Sunday clothes!

For years, one of my favorite movies was Hello Dolly. It was a go-to movie when, as they say, I felt down and out. Then I ran across an article about the brutal unsolved murder of one the co-stars, just a few years after the movie was released. The movie never felt the same again. Although the murder had nothing to do with the movie, the young shining face with the dazzling dance moves no longer seemed as joyous and free.

Wait, you say. You title mentioned Reagan? Right, getting to it. Republicans point to Reagan as their role model. They fall all over themselves to claim his mantle. The part of the Reagan myth they most treasure is the message that government is the problem. They have spent the years after Reagan in what they see as faithful adherence to this message. It has morphed from message to pledge to mandate to creed. The quest for smaller government has morphed into a loathing for government.

What they missed from the Reagan legacy has been the so-called sunny optimism. Do a Google search for sunny optimism and guess what- there is Reagan early in the search. It may have been an act, he was an actor, after all, but he made people feel good about life in general. His policies were disastrous; and, in fact, he was not terribly popular as a president. But his demeanor was pleasant and people felt good about it.

Bill Clinton remains a popular figure. Yes, his policies were better than those before him and those who came after him. But he was a sleazy philanderer and people still loved him. Is it because he is smarter than the average bear (he is, no doubt)? Is it because he worked with the opposition to get things done (he did, so did Reagan)? No, it is because of that big smile and the sense that he is having such a very good time.

The GOP has done much damage in the post- Reagan years. Unfunded wars, the building of the surveillance state, the unitary executive; the list goes on. But, to my mind, the most pernicious legacy of the GOP is the poisoning of the American Spirit. Their loathing of government, their seething hatred of Obama, their relentless negativity, the shouting, the fighting, the grim determination to shut down all things government have infected the popular square with anger and depression.

Lately there have been several articles about the serious decline in the number of people voting in midterm elections. Invariably it is attributed to the belief that your vote doesn't count. The relatively strong turnout in the Obama years is attributed to minority turnout for a black candidate.

Partly right and partly wrong. I think Obama stirred something deeper than race. He stirred a feeling of optimism. That we could find our better nature and act on it. The decline in voting is indicative of a deep disillusionment. Not only do we believe that  our vote not count, but neither does our optimism. The sour, the mean, the angry, the unpleasant keep winning. This is the Reagan legacy. The GOP only remembers a fragment of his message.

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Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 08:26 AM PDT

I am teaching college in my pajamas

by vickijean

Don't you love those commercials for online universities? You can go to college at home, in your pajamas!! Well, I teach at a small state-located university and I am now training special education teachers on the Master's level, at home, everyone in pajamas. Sort of.

Where do I start? First, my comment on teaching at a state-located university. For those of you not in the ed. biz, that may need some clarification. When I first came here, 23 years ago, we considered ourselves a state university. With budget cuts, we began calling ourselves a state-sponsored university. Now with GOP governor and legislature, we  think of ourselves as state-located. The state provides less than 30% of our funding.

What does this have to do with online education? We make our budget by recruiting and retaining students. We are in a rural area with declining population. To stay alive, increasingly we have to recruit by offering classes, even entire degrees, online.

I have mixed feelings about this.

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Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 04:10 PM PDT

Vote for Cochran (not)

by vickijean

Yes, there is a Thad Cochran sign in my yard. No, I did not put it there. My landlord did. If you know me, you know I am a straight party Democrat. But, because the sign is in my yard, I am going to put my two cents in on this run off.

I have always respected Thad Cochran. He was the last of dying breed of gentlemen statesmen, people who believed in working together to get things done. In recent years he has migrated further right with the rest of his party. He didn't seem comfortable there, but he was a pragmatist. By now you have probably noticed my use of past tense. I think Senator Cochran is no longer alert enough to serve as Senator. He is being heavily handled by his staff.

As for Chris McDaniel, I have serious concerns about the Tea Party. This state is heavily dependent on Federal funds. While it is noble to suggest that dependence on entitlements is not healthy, I am not sure farmers, schools, universities, and the military are ready for the budget slashing the Tea Party will impose on this country if they take the Senate.

So I am, not for the first time, glad to be a Democrat. The run off on Tuesday is not my problem, not my business, even if there is a sign in my yard.

This is what I just posted on Facebook. Expanded thoughts after the orange magnolia:

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Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:54 AM PDT

Why Benghazi Won't Go Away

by vickijean

We laugh; we scoff; we sneer. Those poor rubes, being taken in by the Benghazi hysteria on Fox and in the right wing blogosphere. It is so very obvious that this is election year politics at its worst, trotting out old scandals which have been disproven over and over again.

But here is the problem. A friend posted this poster on Facebook:
 

A friend of hers responded:
there were no "stand down" orders given on those ... it's knowing and doing nothing that has Americans upset....

I don't usually engage with trolls, but that one was simple. Everyone knows that assertion has been discredited. So I Googled Benghazi stand down. And guess what?
There was not a single source I could use that a FOX fan would accept as credible:
Snopes? Left wing
Washington Post? Liberal
Media Matters? Don't make me laugh
Slate? Jonah Goldberg criticized it at their own request!!
Politfact? Now you are just messing with me. There is a whole website showing how messed up they are.

 On every issue that so polarizes our political system, there are two completely separate realities. You truly can, in our current media world, have your own facts. the whole concept of fact checking is no longer valid. I cannot prove or disprove anything. That is scary.

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Thu May 15, 2014 at 11:40 PM PDT

The Problem Isn't Common Core

by vickijean

A friend, who is a teacher and should know better,  just re-posted one of those apocalyptic rants about Common Core.  It was one of the ones with "old fashion" (sic) math compared to Common Core and a story about children in tears over homework. And how it is the end of civilization as we know it.  OK, don't get riled up,  I am not going to defend Common Core,  I have mixed feelings about it. What I am going to suggest is that tears over homework has been going on for years, and that if it is worse; it is because no one will admit what the real problem is.

Let's use our imaginations a bit. Let's say you are working at a job that is monotonous and routine. Your boss is cranky, but not unkind, a bit of a micromanager. Your work setting is cramped, 25 fellow workers in a very small room, your desks are less than a foot apart. Each task in the day is first done as a group, and then you have to do the same thing by yourself. You aren't allowed to talk during the day,  even at lunch.  You are never alone; you are always in a group.

At the end of this day, when you get home, you have to do the same task again, this time with a different supervisor, who is also cranky, but kind, who criticizes your day supervisor or insists you do things a different "better" way.

Add to this that you have to do this the minute you get home with no time to relax,  so you can be through before supper. Or you can't start until after supper because you have another supervised activity with cranky but kind adults and another group of kids immediately after school.

The kids I see are hamsters in a wheel. They have a highly regimented school day witb no recreation, no down time, no social time. After school, they have sports, dance, music lessons. They get home at 7 or later. Supper, then homework. In bed too late. Their day is overscheduled, oversupervised and way too long. They are exhausted.  So are their parents. And so are their teachers.  You could use Common Core, SRA, or the McGuffey readers. You would still get tears and tantrums. We need to give kids a break, literally.

Add to this that they are also overstimulated and distracted. Cell phones, tablets, computers, game systems, cable TV, satellite TV, texting, Instagram..... And that is just the parents!!! Seriously, no one thinks to turn off all the noise and distraction, even at dinner, even while studying, even during conversation. Why are more kids being diagnosed as ADHD? Anymore, who can tell?  

Discuss

Thu May 08, 2014 at 04:59 AM PDT

Apology to Jonestown, MS

by vickijean

Recently I published a blog entry in which I made statements about the Jonestown community which were unfounded and unprofessional. I deeply regret the impression they may have left with readers and apologize to this community.

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Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 03:26 PM PDT

Chasing sunset: photo diary

by vickijean

Are you all feeling as tense as I am lately? It seems that it is getting uglier and uglier out there in our country. People are so angry and selfish and unkind. The media has stopped reporting issues and instead covers infighting and gossip.

I have begun to escape the tension with my camera. I carry it everywhere I go. I give myself extra time to go everywhere in case I need to stop to take pictures.

Spring in the Mississippi Delta is glorious. So many shades of green and bursts of color. Sometimes I even forget to miss the mountains (another story for another day). But the true beauty of this place for me are the sunsets. So, for your viewing pleasure: Good Friday sunset.

More after the break
Poll

How do you escape from the negativity?

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| 24 votes | Vote | Results

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Sat Apr 19, 2014 at 08:13 PM PDT

The Tina Conservatives

by vickijean

My mom and I have a running joke when we go out to eat: are you going to leave a Tina tip or a Bob tip. My late father, Bob, overtipped. He had been a country club manager and knew how overworked and underpaid waiters were. Tina is my mom's neighbor. She not only looks for a reason not to tip, she looks for a reason not to pay: the food is overcooked, undercooked, inedible. After she has eaten most of it, of course.

Tina is the new conservative: always aggrieved, always inconvenienced, always annoyed. When we first met her, she was  a Democrat, and her husband was a Foxfan Dittohead. But by the time Obama was elected, she was a rabid conservative. Was it racism? Partially. But it was more. She was angry about a school bond vote, because she doesn't have children. Selfish? Sure. She was enraged about the government shutdown because her husband, retired military, works as a civilian at Ft. Rucker. Hypocritical? Uh huh. She hates Nancy Pelosi. Why? Because.

But the incident that to me most exemplifies the Tina conservative mindset involved a patio set. She had a patio set she wanted to get rid of. She called my mom to see if she wanted it. She was offering to give it to her. Mom didn't need it, she has patio furniture. She suggested Tina give it to Goodwill, they would even pick it up. Tina said no, she would put it on the street for trash pickup. But first, she said, she would smash it. When mom asked her why she said that she paid for it and she didn't want anyone to have it for free. Tina Conservatives are selfish, racist, hypocritical, but most of all, vindictive. They will destroy it, even if they don't need it, before they will let THEM have it.

New ending: Tina Consevatives are not the majority. They are just a loud aggressive new voice calling themselves conservatives. Most conservatives want what is best for their communities. But this new group is given power by their agression and their volume. Traditional conservatives, at least up to now, have been slow to correct them.

Discuss

Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 01:41 PM PDT

I pledge to encourage new diaries

by vickijean

After reading our chatisement about not rec'd each other's diaries, I hung my head in shame and made a pledge.
1. From now on I will read the non-recommended diaries first.
2. I will keep reading until I have recommended at least 5 new diaries.
3. Then I will read the diaries from the "popular kids".

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