Tuesday, January 10, 2017

What do you mean "Time to Accept the Results?"

There have been lots of folks who are weary of the election season, who see the protests and complaints from those who voted for Ms. Clinton and over and over say "Just get over it." An Open Form in the Daily News Record yesterday (1/9/17) offered yet another plea that "Its Time to Accept the Results."  

The writer was responding to another Open Forum written on December 27, 2016 by Dr. Mwizenge Tembo, professor of Sociology at Bridgewater College who offered a very strong rebuke Mr. Trump and those who supported him in the past election. Comparing the political campaign of Mr. Trump to the behavior of an abusive spouse. He drew parallels between an abusive spouse and the way Mr. Trump bullied, lied, and used rhetorical violence to win the highest office in the land.

This writer used the same metaphor in response. Isn’t it also “spiteful” and “vitriolic?” Mr. Tembo’s metaphor is painful to think about but it effectively communicated the voice of those who believe that Mr. Trump disrespected, bullied and lied his way to the Presidency. It also voiced our concerns that many millions of Americans found his message appealing. Friends, there is real fear in the hearts of many Americans who voted for other candidates. Mr. Tembo used a metaphor that accurately described that fear.

Mr. Trump and those who voted for him will hear from all those who think he lied and bullied his way to the Presidency. They will be questioned often why they could support a person who uses his power and position to abuse the less powerful and the weak.  They will be questioned on why a wealthy and powerful businessman should be able to continue wheeling and dealing expanding a personal fortune. They will especially be questioned on why the levers of power should be handed to the wealthiest, most privileged persons on earth who have never served the public and who have always and only worked to build their own wealth and power.

We can’t get over this until at least a modicum of respect returns to the political debate, we  repudiate the “ends justifies the means” and show less dependence on excess outrage. We can't get over this until we stop referring to "mainstream Americans" and then everyone else. We can’t recover from this long, ugly political season as long as the response to the fear is to “just get over it.” Meryl Streep said it best, 
“Disrespect invites disrespect, violent incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”
More work to do...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Mr. Obenshain, Education Reformer? Be warned...

Mr. Obenshain is at it again. Solving problems that don’t exist. Charter schools? Really? Mr. Obenshain and the Virginia GOP are late comers to the whole charter school reform movement which has been going on since the mid 90's. It's an idea that started out with some promise but has been largely co-opted by "reformers" who wish to take public funds to support privatization of schools. 

The reform movement has been around long enough that the research has been done, and the results are clear. Charters don't improve education of children.  Charters have come to be a way of segregating the schools between the haves and have nots, the disabled and the abled, the religious zealots and the simply religious. 

I’ll say this again because it is such an important part of the Virginia GOP DNA, this is a solution for a problem that does not exist. Virginia’s public schools do a magnificent job of educating our children within the parameters that already exist. Programs are already in place for differentiated learning opportunities providing flexibility for students, teachers, and parents. Public schools are mandated to accept ALL students and provide the absolute best education possible for ALL of them. 

Charter schools divert money from the public schools and allow public funding of private schools. Private schools do not have to accept all students. Studies show that pretty soon, to keep their accreditation, they begin to cull students for various reasons finding ways that they don’t measure up. Then it’s back to the public schools. 

There is a pretty big pile of money sitting there in the education budget for public schools. Mr. Obenshein and his fellow reformers want to siphon off some of that cash and give it to the educational corporations that always follow the creation of charter schools. If the state gets involved, the proliferation of charter schools increases, privatization ensues and education becomes profitable but not better. 

“Students? Children? Oh… they’ll be ok.  Anyway, mine are safe in a charter school.”

For more about Charter Schools and their unique relationship to Public Education go here and spend some time reading.

More work to do… Brent Holl

Friday, December 30, 2016

Concerning “experience” for the job of POTUS

The issue of experience is interesting only because NOBODY has any when they take the oath of office as President for the first time. The real issue is what kind of experience makes the best president. 

In this, everyone is an expert. Business folk love the fact that Drumpf is one of their own, not a particularly great businessman, but can sell himself and "win." Liberals love Mr. Obama because of his experience as a community organizer, his Harvard law degree, his teaching of Constitutional law. 

The primary criterion should simply be, "Does the candidate have any bonifides as a public servant?" The office of the Presidency is, after all, the chance to serve the country and preserve and protect the constitution which guarantees the rights and liberties of us all. 

The danger of Mr. Drumpf's experience and that of the business types, moguls, and billionaires filling the jobs in the new administration, is simply that they have no experience in public service. They are great at capitalism, protecting the interests of their stockholders, and building their own wealth. That's a skill set that Mr. Drumpf is finding to be completely at odds with the job of President. Just holding the office will bring showers of cash to his holdings, enriching him and his family. This is unconstitutional.

Showers of cash, unfortunately for Mr. Drumpf, are the least of his problems. Even Rush Limbaugh has predicted the impeachment the new President. 

“They’ll be talking impeachment on day two, after the first Trump executive order.” 
Indeed the impeachment of Mr. Drumpf looks increasingly likely. Here's a list of impeachable offenses from Robert Reich:
  • Taking money from foreign governments, in violation of Article I Section 9 of the Constitution.
  • Colluding with a foreign power against the interests of the United States, considered treason.
  • Using the presidency for private gain, in violation of federal law (5 Code of Federal Regulations 2635.702).
  • Seeking to intimidate critics, in violation of the First Amendment.
  • Undermining the freedom and independence of the press, in violation of the First Amendment.
  • Attacking freedom of religion, in violation of the First Amendment.
  • Undermining the rule of law through arbitrary and capricious statements and orders, in violation of the Due Process clause of the First Amendment.
  • Suppressing the votes of minorities, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. 
Let the impeachment process begin. 

More work to do...

Brent Holl 

Friday, December 2, 2016

When is the President to be believed?

How important is it to believe what the President says?  Do we listen to his speeches and expect him to deliver on promises he makes? Do we listen to his words and expect them to be meaningful and true? Not according to Cory Lewandowski, a spokesman of the next President.

“This is the problem with the media. You guys took everything that Donald Trump said so literally,” Lewandowski said. “The American people didn’t. They understood it. They understood that sometimes — when you have a conversation with people, whether it’s around the dinner table or at a bar — you’re going to say things, and sometimes you don’t have all the facts to back it up.”

I suggest the media ignore the reality show that Mr. Trump expects to star in as President, or at minimum consign it to the Entertainment section of the news. Go straight to the policy makers he is choosing for his administration. Take him at his word that he will only go out and “make America great again” by basking in the glow of his followers at rallies around the country. Because Mr. Trump is not to be taken literally, the media must begin to dig a little deeper and report the machinations of the new administration from the actions and policies of those who have been delegated to govern. 

Mr. Trump should be treated as a figure head, a puppet, a pretty face to be trotted out at rallies as a rock star and summarily ignored. The media should take it’s collective eye off the shiny object attracting all the attention and concentrate on what is actually affecting the citizens of this great country. Will they?

Will they report on the cabinet that is starting to look like a Goldman Sachs board meeting?  Will they dig deep to find problems with the new Secretary of Education, a billionaire supporter of privatization who wants to gut public education? Will they look at the head of Health and Human Services who famously challenged the media to find even one woman who couldn’t afford an abortion? How about the new CIA director, Mike Pompeo, who would be happy to criminalize muslims across the country and torture suspected terrorists in violation of US and international law?

The media is in trouble. Nothing like this has ever happened in our country. We don’t have a leader, we have a corporate structure with a CEO. The CEO has delegated the sausage making of governance to his lieutenants. The media must learn to adapt and report on what is really happening in the government. Our country is at stake.