Friday, September 29, 2006
Responses from college seniors to a selection of individual questions display how little they actually know about basic historical facts, ideas, and concepts germane to meaningful participation in American civic life.
* Seniors lack basic knowledge of America's history. More than half, 53.4 percent, could not identify the correct century when the first American colony was established at Jamestown. And 55.4 percent could not recognize Yorktown as the battle that brought the American Revolution to an end (28 percent even thought the Civil War battle at Gettysburg the correct answer).
* College seniors are also ignorant of America's founding documents. Fewer than half, 47.9 percent, recognized that the line "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," is from the Declaration of Independence. And an overwhelming majority, 72.8 percent, could not correctly identify the source of the idea of "a wall of separation" between church and state.
* More than half of college seniors did not know that the Bill of Rights explicitly prohibits the establishment of an official religion for the United States.
* Nearly half of all college seniors, 49.4 percent, did not know that The Federalist Papers—foundational texts of America's constitutional order—were written in support of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Seniors actually scored lower than freshmen on this question by 5.7 percentage points, illustrating negative learning while at college.
* More than 75 percent of college seniors could not identify that the purpose of the Monroe Doctrine was to prevent foreign expansion in the Western Hemisphere.
* Even with their country at war in Iraq, fewer than half of seniors, 45.2 percent, could identify the Baath party as the main source of Saddam Hussein's political support. In fact, 12.2 percent believed that Saddam Hussein found his most reliable supporters in the Communist Party. Almost 5.7 percent chose Israel.
The full study can be found here.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Michael Albert of ZNET recently wrote an excellent essay about Hugo Chavez's scolding of Dubya' at the UN; the best best part of the essay is the lessons he draws for the so-called "Left." I think in this paragraph he is RIGHT ON:
". . . I think the difference between Chavez and most others even on the left is that Chavez is seeking to win, and we are instead seeking, as often as not, to avoid alienating pundits or to even appeal to them. We are seeking to avoid annoying anyone we like, or anyone we might like, or who might like us. We are seeking to avoid looking odd to anyone, or to avoid making a mistake, or to avoid seeming shrill and angry, or self serving, or passionate. And we need to transcend all that."
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
The tune below is "Scatterbrain," with Vinnie Coliauta (used to play with Frank Zappa) on drums.
Mr. Harris will be a guest on Radio Commentary (WRST 90.3 FM) this coming Friday at 6:15 p.m. Web streaming is available at the WRST site.
You can learn more about Mark Harris at the Mark Harris Watch.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Madison -- While details of a third gubernatorial debate were released today, plans for another one were canceled.
Both Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Green turned down attending an Oct. 11 debate at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. It was the only debate Wisconsin Green candidate Nelson Eisman was invited to, and he was the sole candidate to accept the offer.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Nelson Eisman will speak at the UW Oshkosh Reeve Memorial Union, Room 227C, from 8:30 - 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 27. Admission is free and open to the public.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
The interview is can be found here.
Friday, September 22, 2006
First, and with all respect, I highly recommend this book by Noam Chomsky, one of the most prestigious intellectuals in America and the world, Chomsky. One of his most recent works: Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (The American Empire Project) . It’s an excellent work to understand what’s happened in the world in the 20th Century, what’s currently happening, and the greatest threat on this planet; the hegemonic pretension of the North American imperialism endangers the human race’s survival . . .
The book is in English, in Russian, in Arabic, in German.
I think that the first people who should read this book are our brothers and sisters in the United States, because their threat is in their own house. The devil is right at home. The devil -- the devil, himself, is right in the house.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I think the campus Greens should invite Ahmadinejad to speak at UW Oshkosh. Then before he gets here, our chancellor could assure everyone that no taxpayer dollars are being used to arrange the visit. Then he could reprise the Kevin Barrett provoked panel on "Why Smart People Believe Weird Things" and create another on "What Social and Psychological Conditions Predispose People to Develop and Accept Holocaust Denial?” He'd have to arrange these panels, of course, because our campus community apparently would not be smart enough to recognize on their own where Ahmadinejad is coming from, just like they are apparently not able to dissect the views of Kevin Barrett without first having his presentation framed as "weird." Plus the panels would allow our legislature and governor to rest assured knowing that we are good little boys and girls here at Oshkosh who will do what is necessary to stigmatize any event on campus that does not meet with the approval of Representive Steve Nass, right wing pundits, or other university haters.
I'm starting to think that we ought to replace the once venerated notion of "academic freedom" with one that is more realistic to the time we are living in, "academic slavery." In the era of academic freedom, the universities invite controversial ideas, urge an ethic of subjecting them to critical analysis, and defend the right of each individual to draw his or her own conclusions from the evidence presented to them. In the era of academic slavery, administrators and faculty go to lengths to protect their collective asses against the Nass-es of the world who are perceived as having power to punish us if we do not behave according to their definition of what is appropriate for the academy.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
My guess is that Lautenschlager will probably run for Congress someday, or some other office, and she's calculating that she's better off not offending even Democratic party lightweights like Doyle. So while hyper partisan Dems might worry that she'll embarrass him, the rest of us citizens should worry that she will turn a blind eye toward abuses that may be going on in the executive branch just to protect her future political prospects. I hope I'm wrong.
We all know that in November the garbage fee will be rejected, and so will this inane tax increase referendum. Instead of taking the easy way out and imposing an across the board 3% cut, it's time for the City Manager and this Council to start coming up with some criteria for determing what the city's priorities should be given the budget situation Madison has placed us in.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
The Green Party candidate for governor, Nelson Eisman, proposes a restoration of progressivity in our tax policy as the way to balance the budget. Unfortunately, the few people who will actually be watching the Doyle/Green snooze fest won't be hearing Eisman as the "We the People" (what people?) outfit has decided he is not worthy of being on the stage with candidates who will make the state's budget problems worse.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Then on Friday evening from 6:15 - 7:00 p.m., "Radio Commentary" returns to WRST 90.3 FM radio in Oshkosh. I will be interviewing soon-to-be former District 54 State Representative Gregg Underheim of Oshkosh. I ran against Gregg twice: in 1996 as a Democrat and in 2004 on the Green ticket. Web streaming is available on the radio station site.
Meanwhile, a couple of Princeton professors have just released a report showing how easy it is to hack the Diebold machines. Here's a summary. Diebold's rapid response PR team immediately sent out this response.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Peggy lost, in my opinion, because her campaign barely mentioned the fact that she has been the only official in the state standing between Jim Doyle and a complete turnover of the state to corporate interests. Yes, she talked about "standing up to special interests," but in a manner that was so general and vague that she essentially let Doyle off the hook. Lautenschlager needed to tell the voters that ours is a system of checks and balances, and especially being that Wisconsin gives its governor enormous budget and other powers, it is vital that the AG stand up to the governor whether he is a Democrat or Republican. Falk will be fine if Mark Green gets elected governor, but we have no assurances at this point that she will stand up to Doyle. A corporate Democrat governor with a toady in the AG's office is a frightening prospect. Let's hope Kathleen asserts some indepedence in the next few weeks.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Well, if true it at least proves that Bill O'Reilly is not the only genuine dumb ass in the world.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Below is an interview with Loose Change director Dylan Avery.
I think Rylance is correct in stating that our thinking has become more conformist since 911. Back in the day, a student group had to take over a campus building, or at least threaten to take one over, in order to be lambasted as irresponsible or lectured on civics by pompous and self-serving professors and administrators. Today it's enough just to announce the showing of a controversial movie and/or invite a speaker with unpopular views.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Too bad Kathleen Falk didn't do the right thing and challenge Doyle in a Dem primary.
Friday, September 08, 2006
“A lot of what you hear out there is we know we need these things, but we don’t want a fee, give it to us in taxes,” Castle said. “If they all vote down the garbage fee, that’s good to say, but put your vote where your mouth is.”
After that intro, I thought he was going to try and persuade us to become part of some movement to get justice for American workers--at the very least I thought he would ask us to write a letter to our congressman or something. Instead, and I'm not making this up, he said: "since you probably won't have more than a few days of vacation, you should spend that time in Boca Raton." The rest of the speech showed us pictures of beautiful Boca.
That student like so many American workers seemed to have internalized the idea that you just can't do anything about bad treatment anymore. In a recent essay, writer Mark Ames takes aim at the American worker for participating in his own demise. He writes:
. . . America's workers - are such willing collaborators in their own existential demise. According to a New York Times article, British workers get more than 50% more paid holiday per year than Americans, while the French and Italians get almost twice what the Americans get. The average American's response is neither admiration nor envy, but rather a kind of sick pride in their own wretchedness, combined with righteous contempt for their European worker counterparts, whom most Americans see as morally degenerate precisely because they have more leisure time, more job security, health benefits and other advantages.
It's like a classic case of East Bloc lumpen-spite: middle Americans would rather see the European system collapse than become beneficiaries themselves. If there is one favourite recurring propaganda fable Americans love to read about Europeans, it's the one about how Europe is decaying and its social system is on the verge of imploding; we Americans pray for that day to come, with even more fervour than we pray for the End of Days, because the very existence of these pampered workers makes us look like the suckers and slaves we really are. This is why you won't see Bono or Sir Bob Geldof rallying the bleeding-hearts anytime soon on behalf of America's workers. They're not in the least bit sympathetic. Better to stick with well-behaved victims like starving Africans.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
You can email Ed at Comments@FightingBob.com
I hope you're doing well. I am sending this email to again request speaking at "Fighting Bob Fest" this Saturday, September 9th. My campaign has asked several times, and has been turned down each time.
I was told I could not speak because I am running for office. It seems peculiar that Tammy Baldwin, a Democratic Party candidate for Congress, is allowed to speak at "Fighting Bob Fest" and I am not. It has come to my attention that Gwen Moore spoke in the past when she was running for Congress as a Democrat. And it is most unusual that no Green Party speaker at all is scheduled this Saturday.
I mentioned this situation in my WORT radio interview today at 12:30 pm, and numerous people called in, dismayed that "Fighting Bob Fest" is not living up to Robert La Follette's legacy. He ran for President in 1924 as a Progressive Party candidate, breaking with the Republican Party. I said on WORT that he is probably turning over in his grave, knowing that a Chautauqua in his name is denying third party candidates speaking privileges, especially given the theme "Hold Them Accountable." I am trying to hold Herb Kohl and others accountable for supporting the Iraq war, cuts on domestic programs, and infringements on our civil liberties.
I ask that you reconsider your decision and be accountable to those who want diverse voices at "Fighting Bob Fest 2006." I am interested in an equal opportunity to address the grandstand audience at the festival. I respectfully request a reply with your decision by 5:00 pm, Thursday, September 7th. I would be happy to speak with you directly about how long and the content of my speech. You can reach me at 608-237-1337.
Thank you for your time.
Rae Vogeler - http://www.VoteRae.org
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
A Response to the Kevin Barrett Visit Controversy
by Andy Sabai
There are many emotions and opinions that have bubbled up to the surface over the Campus Greens inviting Kevin Barrett to speak on campus October 26th. The Campus Greens have come under fire for bringing this controversial figure to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Unfortunately the release of this information was abrupt and did not include our reasons for hosting him.
First, it is important to understand what the Campus Greens are. Our organization is devoted to progressive change through political means. Beyond supporting Green Party candidates, we will work to support legislation that follows the four pillars of the Green Party: Peace and nonviolence, grassroots democracy, social justice, and ecological wisdom. We will hold politicians responsible for the legislation they support, and also work to educate the public as to the importance of these issues and how they can help.
Because we wish to educate the public about what we feel are the overstepping of the legislature's boundaries in calling for the firing of Kevin Barrett, we decided to invite him to come speak to our fellow students, faculty, and the community directly. Few people know any details of his views and the context in which this controversy began. We do not support or condemn his hypothesis on who is responsible for the tragic events of September 11, 20001--views that to my knowledge he does not even teach in class. Our opinion is that the state legislature should not impinge on the academic freedom given to professors, no matter what their full time status. The truth of Kevin Barrett's views will be decided by his peers, students, the public, and most of all history. This is the process of academic thought. The legislature does hold the purse strings on the university, but they should not be given the right to manipulate what university employees can discuss inside or outside the campus.
I am disappointed by many of the university staff who hope that this issue just go away. It will not. Kevin Barrett's view may be a far flung example of one idea that government wants to suppress, but many would also suppress stem cell research and mandate the teaching of creationism. If we have brought embarrassment to this institution by allowing one man to speak his mind, then I have grossly overestimated the strength and purpose of this university.
The condemnations of individual teachers by bureaucracies are some of the most embarrassing episodes of western history; e.g. Copernicus, Galileo, and John Scopes of the Scopes Monkey Trial fame. Of course, history and science have shown they were right. If they had been wrong they would hardly be worth mentioning, like Felix A. Pouchet who tried to show that the spontaneous generation of bacteria could happen. He was proved wrong by Louis Pasteur whose work was driven by his political and religious views as much as science.
The Campus Greens invitation to Mr. Barrett has already sparked debate as to the boundaries of academic freedom, the role of state government in this area, and whether or not he has a valid argument. I am proud to be a part of creating this dialogue. Those in the state capital are welcome to engage too, but they have no right to use their power to try to silence this kind of academic discussion.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
First of all, I want to applaud the Campus Greens, a group I have served as advisor for (I cannot serve as advisor this year because my schedule doesn't allow me to make the meeting times), for having the courage to stand up for academic freedom on our campuses. They understand that the effort to terminate Mr. Barrett from his teaching position at UW Madison had to do not with the quality of his teaching (the UW Madison administration examined his syllabus and course materials and concluded that what he is doing is completely acceptable), but with the views that he holds as a private citizen. They understand that the forces driving the move to terminate Barrett were not UW Madison students or his faculty and academic staff colleagues, but right wing talk radio and UW haters in the state legislature.
Reasonable people can disagree over whether the concept of academic freedom allows for professors to state unpopular views in the classroom (I think it does allow for that), BUT THAT IS NOT EVEN WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT AS REGARDS BARRETT, as he does not teach his 911 views in the classroom. The Barrett situation deals with whether academic freedom allows for professors to state unpopular views OUTSIDE the classroom without fear of losing their jobs. I find it unfortunate that UW Oshkosh Chancellor Wells chose to avoid the substantive issues raised by the Barrett visit in his apparent attempt to assure the UW haters in the legislature that we are all very responsible subordinates here at Oshkosh.
It's interesting that when the city of Oshkosh last year agreed to give a key to the city to a man who has two fake "degrees" from a diploma mill, we heard not a peep from the UW Oshkosh administration or the faculty most critical of the Barrett visit.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Friday, September 01, 2006
An hour with legendary folksinger and activist Pete Seeger talking about his music, politics, Woody Guthrie, censorship, the background to the songs "We Shall Overcome" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," and more.