Posts Tagged ‘GOP
A message from the office of John Boehner:
Suck on that during your “Christmas” with your “presents” and “happiness,” Poors!
Another quick note on our educated populace. I recently watched someone try to learn physics on his own. He was assiduous about the learning, and–being availed any number of written, online, and hands-on resources–one would think he quickly became an expert. And yet, after 4 years of trying, he still has a serious misunderstanding of the fundamentals of the science. Is it because he’s unteachable? No. Is it because physics is too difficult to comprehend, even at its basest level? No. Why, then, could he fail to learn it after trying so hard?
What I have noticed in my (admittedly paltry) year-ish of teaching here in the States is that more and more people have a serious difficulty synthesizing information. While the problem my students have in communicating a hypothesis effectively is understandable (as is their lack of being able to formulate good game plans in general), what I find interesting is their seeming lack of ability to analyze their own results. For example, say a student indirectly measures the height of a table by seeing how long a pencil takes to fall off of it. If one measurement says the table is 4 feet tall, and another says it’s 8, they have a very difficult time understanding what that data means. In truth, they tend to just not think about it. They report it, then move on.
This is a problem I’ve seen reflected in myriad instances in the country. Immediate utility, rather than broad applicability, is what has increasingly become of the focus of a populace ever more terrified and bewildered by the idea of thinking critically about subjects. It seems that the emphasis in everyday problem-solving has become immediate gratification. Maybe it’s the result of the Sesame Street generation growing up. Maybe the further infantilization of the Facebook crowd is adding to it. I tend to think, however, that the problem is one that has historically plagued anyone who is obsessed with linear thought.
Linear thought processes are great. They can help keep ideas organized, can keep ideas focused, and can keep blogs on-track. They are not, however, so great at seeing the forest for the forest. Take the titular case of Rosalind Franklin, for example. While her photograph of DNA’s structure may have been the first, her inability to see it for what it was led to her getting scooped by James Watson on her own data.
Our country has always purported to encourage the Ben Franklins amongst us to greatness. Those who can understand that the electricity coming out of the bulb might be the same as the luminescence visible during a thunderstorm are supposed to always find a home here. More and more, though, this kind of thinking is being seen as suspect and, worse yet, European.
Nowhere is the lack of understanding the causation of the big picture from the little picture more evident (and evidently disastrous) than in California.
California boasts a “direct democracy.” In other words, voters decide on policy. It sounds great, but it’s actually a horrible idea given the lack of ability of the statewide electorate to understand and extrapolate from data. Want better parks? Sure. Better schools? Absolutely. More cops and firemen on the streets? You bet! Want to pay more taxes? No way! And that, in a nutshell, is how a state with a huge economy can go bankrupt.
The basic understanding of how the little picture relates to the big picture is part of what makes a science like physics fun to teach. Look at the pencil fall off the table. That’s also what holds our universe together (and on, and on). It’s also what makes nations work. Looking at the data of our society right now, we can derive the following: we are not recovering from an almost-depression as quickly as we should; we are quickly becoming a nation of the chronically un-and-under-employed; we are coexisting with other first-world markets that are equally hurting; we are trying to mitigate terrorist threats from multiple countries of origin; and we are paying historically little in taxes. After reading this list of problems the next president will need to address, one can easily derive that the next president must be:
1. Highly proactive and persuasive to a bipartisan group
2. A master diplomat
3. Tough-minded and steady
Nate Silver’s work has shown as much. Specifically, it said that, if the economy continues to recover slowly, the GOP candidate is a shoe-in against Obama. Just so long as he’s neither an extremist nor has taken crazily extreme positions.
Noted failure and hapless funnymaker, Michael Steele, has once again unwittingly helped Democratic claims about the GOP’s lack of inclusiveness.
Steele told the audience that “no one knows what the hell it means” when the GOP refers to itself as a “big tent.”
So he offered another analogy: The GOP is a hat.
Some people wear a hat frontwards, others cocked to the left, he explained. Some wear it backwards, he added, echoing a past statement,”because that’s how they roll.” But “the strength of the party is in this: … the fact that you’re willing to put the damn thing on… The problem we’ve had as a party is: too many of our friends, neighbors, colleagues are taking the hat off, because we’ve decided we don’t like the way they wear it… The GOP is not about how you wear the hat, but the fact that you want to wear the hat.”
I see where he was going, but, as usual, he didn’t convey HIS message so much as he did Obama’s. Cause, seriously, who wears hats regularly nowadays? Besides white guys in the deep South (where trucker caps and cowboy hats are still king), no other demographic is regularly sporting headgear anymore. So, yes, it was a perfect analogy to the GOP base as of now: You can wear your cowboy hat while fake-clearing brush, or your trucker cap while listening to Rush in the morning, but both are acceptable. As are those whose hat-wearing habits date back to the 1930s. Everybody else, though, is irrelevant. Or maybe invisible. Certainly they’re not in the party.
Well said, my good sir.
I’m just getting serious here for a second. About Guantanamo.
No, I’m not going to echo the left’s civil-libertarian outrage at the President’s seeming bait-and-switch on it. I may be naive, but I still think it’s going to get closed. Once Congress is brought in on the decision making, they say they’ll stop holding their breath too and vote for it. So I’m still just waiting to be outraged about that.
Here’s the thing, though: the arguments against transferring the detainees to U.S. prisons are getting to me.
Not the BUT THERE WILL BE TERRORISTS ROASTING LAMB ON OUR LAWNS!!! argument, which is so patently ridiculous as to not warrant retort. What I’m talking about is the more “reasonable” of the scare tactics being used by the right (and, let’s face it, Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein): If we let the detainees mingle with our current prisoners, they will become terrorists all.
Don’t get me wrong: I think neither that our current prison population is composed of happy workers paying their due, nor that there probably isn’t sympathy for sociopathy within the walls of your average SuperMax. What I am wondering, though, is what ever happened to our original penal system?
Let me explain…
The Quakers began this whole ball rolling, from what I remember from my days passing out in whiskey comas with the History Channel playing in the background. The point was that, if someone in society makes a mistake, you send them to prison to teach them how and why they shouldn’t make it again. They originally proposed the SuperMax idea (solitary confinement), for the purpose of religious reflection, believing that the criminal would one day Satori himself right back onto the straight and narrow. Given current SuperMax footage, it seems like said Satoris look more like skizophrenias, but the point is this: Prison, in this country, was meant to be for rehabilitation, not punishment.
When did our penal system devolve into such a state where we believe that–if confronted with the people who (allegedly) are the cruelest, most sociopathic of the Arab lot (as claim the Cheneys of the world reside in Gitmo)–our prisoners will side with them?? Is our current state of prisoner rehabilitation so tenuous (or, I fear, nonexistent) that we think that, if given the choice between going home to their families and helping out their community, or siding with the people who (again, allegedly) sympathize with perpetrators of the worst, cruelest, most hateful (and still recent) act ever to take place on American soil?
And, if the prison population is deemed so sociopathic already as to already have terrorist leanings, how long before they are also deemed too dangerous to even release?
Part of me (the Bay-Area-native part who mistrusts all things double-speak) is thinking that these fearmongers hyping Gitmo’s detainees as potential fomenters of a million societal rebellions are maybe right, and maybe know exactly of which they speak. They may know that mixing together people who have all been collectively locked away and forgotten about for little or no reason by the same society may find some common ground and rebel. Maybe they would. How best to show their rage?
Torch the banks and the credit card companies?
Torch Wall Street?
Publicly embarrass the U.S. around the world?
Elect a NEGRO to the White House?
Elect a SOCIALIST SECRET MUSLIM to the White House?
Michael Steele, I hope hope hope hopehopehope you keep this RNC Chairman gig. Really. Not only are you comically bad at your job, but you’re hilarious while you’re being comically bad at your job. Humor bonuses all around!
How is Michael Steele being an epic failure yet AGAIN today? Why, by decrying gay marriage as being bad for small businesses.
Republicans can reach a broader base by recasting gay marriage as an issue that could dent pocketbooks as small businesses spend more on health care and other benefits, GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Saturday.
“Now all of a sudden I’ve got someone who wasn’t a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for,” Steele told Republicans at the state convention in traditionally conservative Georgia. “So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money.”
Obviously, The ChairMan of Steele got the memo that the GOP wants to focus on gay marriage, rather than abortion, as its core social issue (another epically bad idea, but that’s a topic for another post). So he was halfway there in the benefitting-his-party thang. It’s only that pesky, undoubtedly inadvertent, argument he just made for universal health care that got in the way of this being a pretty acceptable Bush-era-conservative speech.
Then again, maybe Michael Steele missed the Obama administration’s argument that federally-provided health insurance would save small businesses an assload of money. After all, if you Google “Obama health care small business,” only 19,400,000 results pop up. And who’s got the time to read all that shizzle, Baby?!
Noted hilarious idiot, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, just said this crazy thing Friday, so that the other crazy things he says most other days wouldn’t get lonely:
“What was so outstanding about Miss California, let’s do a little parallel… This is what an empathetic judge looks like,” Steele said of celeb-blogger Perez Hilton. “The empathetic judge in this case, the judge of the beauty pageant, asked this woman a question and instead of taking her answer at face value, he was empathetic to a particular community and he thought her answer should be favorably disposed towards that particular community. And as a consequence she answered a different way. She answered honestly. She answered based on the facts of her situation, the facts of her upbringing, the facts of this country, which by and large sides with her.”
“To even get off on this tangent of asking her a socially controversial question and then getting ticked off because you don’t like her answer. Then what the heck did you ask the question for? Just because she is Miss California you presume she is going to have a left-of-center answer on gay marriage? Come on. This is the slippery slope this nation is putting itself on and I’m telling you folks to stop it. Don’t go there.”
First of all, you’re supposed to ask socially controversial questions during a competition based around poise. Asking some dumb bitch if she likes applesauce ain’t gonna cut it.
Secondly, I hate to break it to Mr. Steele, but…ahem…you’re empathizing with said dumb bitch. Yes, YOU are, in fact, evincing the very quality you find so abhorrent in a judge.
Lastly, though, I need to thank Michael Steele for reminding me that we all have dreams. I, for one, would rather be swimming naked in a sawbuck sea for the rest of my life. But I can’t begrudge the man his.