America gets a big fat "F."

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Postby barfle » Thu Nov 09, 2006 11:50 am

And here comes the voice of reason. :wink:

I'm sure Shapley will disagree with some of what I have to say, and I doubt that anyone will agree with everything, but here goes.

I discovered that voting for candidates is a fool's game. They lie. It is impossible to be an informed voter. The closest they come to telling the truth is when they call their opponent a liar. They tell you what they think they want you to hear from them, then when they are elected, they hire professional excuse makers to tell you why they tried soooo hard to keep their promises, but just couldn't.

I don't leave Libertarians out of this group, but at least they don't stand a chance of winning, so it's probably safe to vote for them.

Voting in favor of initiatives is almost always giving in to an emotional appeal by a well-financed special interest group. These people want a road through the pristine forest, and stand to gain millions, so they figure out a way to hide their true purpose in legalese and make it sound like free ice cream for everyone. They are liars, too.

If I seem a bit cynical, then you seem quite perceptive. :rant:
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Postby analog » Thu Nov 09, 2006 1:25 pm

barfle wrote: ............

I discovered that voting for candidates is a fool's game. They lie. It is impossible to be an informed voter. ..........


One sometimes just has to vote against what he sees as the greater of two evils. Faced with choice of an ideologue or a fool , what can you do but try to judge their respective handlers?


If I seem a bit cynical, then you seem quite perceptive. :rant:


Gentle cynicism is probably healthier than pollyanna-ism... I seem to oscillate between the two extremes never finding that happy medium. I look for solace by reading quotations of thoughtful people, hoping some will rub off.

The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not. e hoffer
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Postby piqaboo » Thu Nov 09, 2006 3:53 pm

[quote=bigjon]The If you don't vote, don't complain crowd puts my shorts into a knot. Only a leftist or fascist would say such a thing. This is the United States of America, we have the right to complain about anything and anyone at any time. It's that darn, little inconvenient thing called freedom of speech[/quote]

Yes, they have a legal right. But, since they also have the opportunity to excercise their power for change, and they elect not to, its somewhat impolite for them to bitch. Particularly those who say "You guys elected....."
Hasnt ever stopped me tho. :raz:
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Postby barfle » Thu Nov 09, 2006 4:58 pm

analog wrote:One sometimes just has to vote against what he sees as the greater of two evils. Faced with choice of an ideologue or a fool , what can you do but try to judge their respective handlers?

This is what I call voting your fears instead of your dreams. But making a point about the fact that you feel the available candidates are all unworthy by withholding your vote from all of them is, IMNSHO, a vaild message from the voice of the governed.

I should probably make a differentiation between the disgusted citizen and the lazy citizen. I often go to the polls and turn in an unmarked ballot, or perhaps one that has all the initiatives marked "no." That is a far more directed statement than simply staying home. Voting for a third party candidate (if you believe in him or her) is also a positive statement of dissatisfaction with the status quo.

My conscience doesn't let me say I like a candidate when I don't. And the winners of elections think people like what he wants to do, because they voted for him. The reality is usually far different, but too many people vote their fears instead of their dreams.
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Postby BigJon » Thu Nov 09, 2006 9:01 pm

piqaboo wrote:
bigjon wrote:The If you don't vote, don't complain crowd puts my shorts into a knot. Only a leftist or fascist would say such a thing. This is the United States of America, we have the right to complain about anything and anyone at any time. It's that darn, little inconvenient thing called freedom of speech

Yes, they have a legal right. But, since they also have the opportunity to exercise their power for change, and they elect not to, its somewhat impolite for them to bitch. Particularly those who say "You guys elected....."
Hasn't ever stopped me tho. :raz:

If you view the two main parties as essentially populist and socialist, only differing by degree, why vote? Yet you continue to retain your right to petition the government to redress grievance and injustice no matter what your voting record. Darn that Constitution preserving our rights for us and all that.
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Postby analog » Thu Nov 09, 2006 10:16 pm

BigJon wrote:
If you view the two main parties as essentially populist and socialist, only differing by degree, why vote?


Damage control. When one is getting strong vote for the other. Manipulating the spoils system, keeping government in turmoil, is the people's only check against creeping bureaucracy. "Great job, FEMA director du jour!".



Barfle: ...I often go to the polls and turn in an unmarked ballot, or perhaps one that has all the initiatives marked "no." ........ My conscience doesn't let me say I like a candidate when I don't...


Indeed, it's way more effective, and honest too, to sit down and write a short note to your congressman than to cast an anonymous vote against him.... only downside to writing personally is you get on a political mailing list but if you have a fireplace that's not all bad either.

a.
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Postby barfle » Fri Nov 10, 2006 11:45 pm

analog wrote:Indeed, it's way more effective, and honest too, to sit down and write a short note to your congressman than to cast an anonymous vote against him.... only downside to writing personally is you get on a political mailing list but if you have a fireplace that's not all bad either.

a.

I haven't found letter writing to have much of an effect on the political stance of politicians. Indeed, my track record on having my representatives vote according to my reasoned recommendations is so poor, I often feel I am snake bit on the topic.

My political activism in recent years was to get my bus stop moved from a horrid no-man's land on the only corner of the intersection with no crosswalks, no sidewalk, no pedestrian signal controls, and very poor visibility up a street I had to cross. Every politician and bureaucrat I contacted said there was someone else's regulation that they couldn't violate. But about six weeks after I contacted a newspaper reporter, the bus stop was moved to a far more reasonable location.

Bar says the reporter should be grateful to me because I wrote three of his columns for him (almost true - he did quote my letters fairly extensively - my original detailed concerns, my note that shrubbery blocking the visibility being trimmed, and my final note of appreciation when the stop was moved). BTW, none of those politicians and bureaucrats ever contacted me for a followup. Wish my bureaucrat job was that easy.
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby Haggis@wk » Tue Oct 07, 2008 11:52 am

The great historian David McCullough was on C-SPAN last week, looking like a beaten man while describing the crushing level of historical ignorance among America's youth. He summed up with the warning that one can never love a country one doesn't know. It sounded like an epitaph.

Quotes from McCullough's address when he accepted the National Book Award:

We, in our time, are raising a new generation of Americans who, to an alarming degree, are historically illiterate. ...

Warning signals, in special studies and reports, have been sounded for years, and most emphatically by the Bradley Report of 1988. Now, we have the blunt conclusions of a new survey by the Education Department: The decided majority, some 60 percent, of the nation's high school seniors haven't even the most basic understanding of American history. The statistical breakdowns on specific examples are appalling.

But I speak also from experience. On a winter morning on the campus of one of our finest colleges, in a lively Ivy League setting with the snow falling outside the window, I sat with a seminar of some twenty-five students, all seniors majoring in history, all honors students-the cream of the crop. "How many of you know who George Marshall was?" I asked. None. Not one.


We have noted several times Barack Obama's surprising ignorance of American history. But in that context, maybe it isn't surprising at all. Maybe Obama is above average by today's standards.

The schools can teach anything if they care about it. The problem is that they don't care about teaching history, least of all American history. Public education is agenda-driven, and American history--the facts of American history--is not on the agenda.

Which leaves us with McCullough's sad conclusion. The heritage that our forefathers sacrificed so much to leave us will most likely soon be lost, because the next generation won't even know what that heritage is.
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Alexis De Tocqueville 1835
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby Shapley » Tue Oct 07, 2008 12:14 pm

Not surprising. Every year, there is more history to teach, and probably less, rather than more, time allotted to teach it.

When I was in school, we new the name of George C. Marshall only with respect to the plan that bore his name. I do not recall that we knew of his role in the victory in World War II (although that may be the result of my poor memory). To the best of recollection, credit for winning the war was given to the political leaders, rather than the military ones, and very little focus on the mechanics of fighting the war was offered. Not being a college graduate, I do not know how the subject is taught there, though the college-level courses I took also did not cover the war from a military standpoint.

We had a crash course in military history in boot camp, though. Perhaps our history teachers should push for the return of the draft. :D
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Tue Oct 07, 2008 12:20 pm

History is a sore subject with me. All through the obligatory 12 grades of school, I had history class after history class, with various titles such as "world" and "US" and "California" and "Ancient" and so forth. Uniformly dull, and taught by uniformly disinterested teachers.

As an adult, I found out that history is stories. Lots of stories. One after another. With people, and adventures, and disasters, and, and, and...

I am incredibly cheezed off that history teachers somehow manage to gut such a fascinating thing as a huge collection of stories, and turn it into mind-numbing lists of dates to be memorized. It's a sin and a crying shame. Not one of them ever thought to put down the book and just tell some stories.
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby Shapley » Tue Oct 07, 2008 12:33 pm

Selma in Sandy Eggo wrote:I am incredibly cheezed off that history teachers somehow manage to gut such a fascinating thing as a huge collection of stories, and turn it into mind-numbing lists of dates to be memorized. It's a sin and a crying shame. Not one of them ever thought to put down the book and just tell some stories.


In college, my World History teacher used to walk in, say "Good Morning", and then start writing a list of names, dates, and other 'keywords' on the board. He would then begin lecturing in a dull monotone that would put most students to sleep. Many of us would copy down the names, etc., into our notebooks, leaving space to jot down notes on what he said about them. Since we did not know shorthand, we would usually miss two or three 'keywords' while writing down one. We were never smart enough to get together and have different members take notes on every 'Xth' keyword, so that we got them all. He did not lecture from the book, and many of the things he found noteworthy must not have been thought so by the book's authors, as numerous items could not be found there. The "A" students would spend hours in the library trying to find out about them. I was content with a low "B".

I was reminded of him when I read the Harry Potter series, particularly Professor Binns, the "History of Magic" teacher who, Harry said, could even make giant wars and goblin revolutions sound dull. I suspect that Ms. Rowling's experience with history class was much the same as mine.

V/R
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby shostakovich » Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:03 pm

Haggis@wk wrote:The great historian David McCullough was on C-SPAN last week, looking like a beaten man while describing the crushing level of historical ignorance among America's youth. He summed up with the warning that one can never love a country one doesn't know. It sounded like an epitaph.

Quotes from McCullough's address when he accepted the National Book Award:

We, in our time, are raising a new generation of Americans who, to an alarming degree, are historically illiterate. ...

Warning signals, in special studies and reports, have been sounded for years, and most emphatically by the Bradley Report of 1988. Now, we have the blunt conclusions of a new survey by the Education Department: The decided majority, some 60 percent, of the nation's high school seniors haven't even the most basic understanding of American history. The statistical breakdowns on specific examples are appalling.

But I speak also from experience. On a winter morning on the campus of one of our finest colleges, in a lively Ivy League setting with the snow falling outside the window, I sat with a seminar of some twenty-five students, all seniors majoring in history, all honors students-the cream of the crop. "How many of you know who George Marshall was?" I asked. None. Not one.


We have noted several times Barack Obama's surprising ignorance of American history. But in that context, maybe it isn't surprising at all. Maybe Obama is above average by today's standards.

The schools can teach anything if they care about it. The problem is that they don't care about teaching history, least of all American history. Public education is agenda-driven, and American history--the facts of American history--is not on the agenda.

Which leaves us with McCullough's sad conclusion. The heritage that our forefathers sacrificed so much to leave us will most likely soon be lost, because the next generation won't even know what that heritage is.


I would never claim that a large portion of our population has even a mediocre sense of American history, but "Who was George Marshall?" was not a good question. Any decent sized city would have several listed in the phone book. If the name had been preceded by "general", the response might have been better.
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby Haggis@wk » Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:14 pm

I've commented here before on my history teacher, George Nied, in the 11th grade. We spent most of the year going over the Constitution but as a retired USAF Colonel he taught the history of WWII from the book and from the aspect of a young pilot flying fighters protecting B-17s. He was a profound influence in my late High School life and apparently on others as well, I think that was the last or next to the last year as a teacher. After I graduated he was a principal and I recall that he did something either on the school board or county commission, I forget which.

I guess I was lucky, I had a series of history teachers who were interested and interesting and I always have like history.

But, remember I'm the kind of guy who is re-reading a book called "Starling of the White House" published in 1946 about a man who worked in the White House as a Secret Service agent from 1914 - 1945. I'd first read it when I found it in my mother in law's bookcase in the 70's but that copy was damaged in a flood and was thrown out. I mentioned the book to a friend a while back and he found a copy of the Internet and bought it for me.

It's telling that a reasonably Internet savvy guy I fancy myself never thought about goggling for the book. DUH!

If there's ever a trivia contest that asked for the name of Edith Wilson's maid's sister, I ready for it.

It is interesting to read a book from the contemporary viewpoint of a disinterested observer when talking about the decisions that led to WWI or the little known incident when Wilson had a stroke and it appeared that Edith Wilson might have been running the U.S.
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Alexis De Tocqueville 1835
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby dai bread » Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:11 pm

As usual, we're out of step with the Northern Hemisphere. We are very interested in our history here in NZ. When Michael King's "History of NZ" came out it topped the best-seller lists for weeks. One of the most popular TV shows at the time it was shown was an academic treatise on the 19thC Land Wars. (Illustrated, of course, being on Tv.)

I don't know how this shows up in schools. I'll find out when my grandson starts learning it. In the Grammar school I visit occasionally, the emphasis seems to be on Britain and Europe. Nazi Germany, for instance. I must ask my neighbour (a high-school teacher) what is taught about Japan.
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby piqaboo » Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:55 am

I was taught about the revolutionary war 4 times. Very little other history. Some ancient greek and roman.
Sad. I love timelines.
I had a wonderful highschool physics book that had 10 stacked timelines -
political, art, science, medicine, music, etc.
Only time I've ever seen the various changes arrayed in context of each other.
Wasnt smart enough to steal the book - didnt realize how unusual a thing that frontispiece was.
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby Haggis@wk » Mon Oct 27, 2008 1:59 pm

dai bread wrote: I must ask my neighbour (a high-school teacher) what is taught about Japan.


In the late 70's and early 80's when it appeared Japan was going to buy America there were several controversies over the de-emphasis of Japan's role in WWII. I remember seeing a billboard of a Mitsubishi car with the text "From the same people who brought you the Zero and Pearl Harbor"

The boys' history books spent more space on the inhumanity of locking up American Japanese citizens than on Nanking or the fact that 37% of American POWs died in Japanese POW camps, eight times the death rate of Americans in German or Italian camps.

My father, a combat infantry officer in the Pacific during WWII and a member of the Army of Occupation in Japan after the war never had a favorable opinion of Japanese in general and never even owned a Japanese car until he was in his 70’s and my wife convinced him that the car was made in the U.S.

An accquaintance in the USAF married a Japanese girl when he was station in Japan and said that his father had never spoken to him or his wife after they were married.

Of course, I remember one of my bosses, Major Jim Church who was married to a Japanese American, told me how he was locked up in Virginia in 1962 for violation of Virginia's antimiscegenation laws. He spent one or two nights in jail before the USAF lawyers could get him released.

The strong, anti-japanese sentiment is probably dieing out in the U.S. now, but there are some lingering resenment, rekindled during the 70s and 80s.
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Alexis De Tocqueville 1835
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby Giant Communist Robot » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:21 pm

I live on the hills just above Pearl Harbor; its a short walk across the grass and through the trees you can see the Arizona Memorial and the top of the superstructure of the Missouri. I've not been numbed by seeing them every single day. I don't think people here see them just as tourist attractions, but also as reminders of horrendous deaths.

Its possible to forgive, but we should never forget.
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby Shapley » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:22 pm

It is now anti-Chinese sentiment, fueled over the 'fact' that the Chinese own the lion's share of our national debt (Japan actually owns a larger percentage than the Chinese.)

I recall a time when anti-Japanese resentment was still rampant. Interesting that anti-German resentment didn't last as long.

We had a survivor of the Bataan Death March living in my home town (I believe he has since passed away, but I could be mistaken), as well as couple of other survivors of Japanese prison camps. I wonder how many school children today learn about the Bataan Death March, Corregidor, Iron-Bottom Sound, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Wake Island?
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby piqaboo » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:26 pm

Shapley wrote:It is now anti-Chinese sentiment, fueled over the 'fact' that the Chinese own the lion's share of our national debt (Japan actually owns a larger percentage than the Chinese.)

I recall a time when anti-Japanese resentment was still rampant. Interesting that anti-German resentment didn't last as long.

We had a survivor of the Bataan Death March living in my home town (I believe he has since passed away, but I could be mistaken), as well as couple of other survivors of Japanese prison camps. I wonder how many school children today learn about the Bataan Death March, Corregidor, Iron-Bottom Sound, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Wake Island?


The anti-German thing lasted well and truely in Britain and France.
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Re: America gets a big fat "F."

Postby jamiebk » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:39 pm

While I'll not use the terms here, my dad still refers to Germans and Japanese by their war-given nick-names. I cringe a bit when out in public, but considering his time and experience on Saipan and other "vacation" spots, he's not about to change and I suppose to some extent it would be unfair to ask him to do so.
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