Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Plains Pops: Still More Stuff I Wish I Had Written

This entire Conor Friedersdorf post is worth reading.  The highlights include the following paragraphs.
Given all that, it is remarkable that so many conservatives regard Obamacare as the biggest threat to liberty, that they fret about deficits while staunchly opposing any cuts to defense spending, and that their paranoia about big government and the endemic corruption, inefficiency, and power hungriness that characterizes it somehow never extends to the military or national security state. Equally remarkable are the liberals who are outraged when gays are denied the right to marry (a position I also share), but who are silent as the standard-bearer for the Democratic Party imprisons people indefinitely without due process, spies on an unknowable number of innocent Americans, and normalizes the worst excesses of the Bush years, sometimes by amassing a record that's even worse. . . .

Excepting slavery and Jim Crow, all the most oppressive laws and extra-legal measures in American history have been passed in the name of war or national security: the Alien and Sedition Acts, Abraham Lincoln's suspension of habeus corpus, the Espionage Act and Woodrow Wilson's other radical World War I era excesses. You'd think that the advent of another war would cause left and right alike to be on guard against excesses. Throughout American history, during just, necessary wars and wars of choice alike, civil liberties have suffered in the most extreme ways. . . .

Ten years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, this blindness is the most notable feature of American life, and the one that represents the gravest danger to our future. After past periods of overzealous attacks on civil liberties, there has always been a backlash. Alas, the tea party is insufficiently enamored with liberty to do the job.
I don't agree with the conclusions of this David Frum post, but the analysis is interesting, especially given its source.
One political party has decided that the only thing that matters – or anyway, that can be achieved – is to enhance America’s long-term growth path by reducing regulations, rationalizing taxes, and restraining government spending in future years. As for today’s economic crisis? We’ll just have to tough it out. And when it says “we,” it means: the unemployed, those without health insurance, etc.
The other political party, by contrast has lots of ideas for remedying the crisis: monetary ease, fiscal stimulus, middle-income tax relief, tax credits to hire the unemployed, etc. And their ideas for the longer term future of the country? More of the same, forever, leading to a permanently enlarged state, financed by permanently higher taxes – and taxes of the most peculiarly destructive kind.
Finally, this David Sirota summary of the corporate educational reformers is worth reading.  The key introductory paragraphs:
As Brill and most other education correspondents tell it, those most aggressively trying to privatize public schools and focus education around standardized tests just "happen to be" Wall Streeters -- as if that's merely a random, inconsequential coincidence. Somehow, we are to assume that these same Wall Streeters who make millions off of "parasitic" investment schemes to leech public institutions for private profit couldn't have ulterior motives when it comes to public schools.
No, in the standard fairy tale sold as education journalism, these "reformers" are presented as having had an honest, entirely altruistic "epiphany" that led them to discover that "the reforms that are necessary" (ie., only the policies Wall Street deems acceptable) comprise "the civil rights issue of this era."
In this framing, millionaires and billionaires trying to eviscerate traditional public education from their Manhattan office suites are the new Martin Luther Kings -- even though the  empirical data tell us that their schemes to charter-ize and privatize schools have been a systemic failure, often further disadvantaging the most economically challenged students of all (one example: see Stanford's landmark study showing more than a third of kids whom reformers ushered into charter schools were educationally harmed by the move).
The truth, of course, is that for all the denialist agitprop to the contrary, corporate education "reformers" are motivated by self-interest, too. In a sense, these "reformers" are akin to the Bush administration neoconservatives when it came to Iraq. Some of them wanted to invade for oil, some wanted to invade to create a new sphere of influence, some wanted to invade to further isolate Iran, and still others wanted to invade to "spread democracy." But as  Paul Wolfowitz famously said, they "settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction" as the public rationale for war.
Same thing for those who fund corporate education "reform": they have a lot of different self-interests, but they've settled on schools as a political target that unifies them all.

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