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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

As soon as the framework for a nuclear deal with Iran was announced, the right-wing went to war against the President.  What else is new?  As you remember, they started firing volleys before any deal was even announced.  Remember their letter to Iran?

But, things have gotten a lost worse since the deal was announced.  According to the right-wing, we are “giving away the house” with the deal and getting nothing in return.  It will surely mean that Iran will be nuking Israel within two months of signing any deal.

Of course, Netanyahu hit the talk shows yesterday complaining that this was a bad deal.  He claims that Iran is going to be able to have a free hand in making nuclear bombs if the deal is finalized.  But, he let loose with a few quotes that somehow makes his argument sound hollow, at least concerning the actual deal.  According to Netanyahu, the deal is bad because it does not force Iran out of the terrorism support game.

On ABC’s “This Week” he said:  “They’re not going to use it for schools or hospitals or roads,” Netanyahu said of the potential economic boost from sanctions relief. “Martha, they’re going to use it to pump up their terror machine worldwide and their military machine that is busy conquering the Middle East now.”

That would make the real concern for Israel’s Prime Minister not a nuclear bomb being achieved by Iran, but rather their support of terrorism.  That is a fair concern.  Israel does face many dangers and has many haters in the region.  But, one thing Netanyahu could do to help calm down a lot of this hatred is to sit at the negotiating table with the Palestinians and work out a peace deal recognizing the Palestinian State.

Of course that would mean he would have to stop the settlement program on the West Bank and that would piss off his own right-wing.  Since Netanyahu has publicly stated that there will be no “Palestinian State as long as I am Prime Minister,” the prospects of calming down the Mideast problems are slim to none.

Which brings us back to the deal’s framework that was announced.  I will be honest, as Republicans say, “I am not a scientist,” and most of this deal requires some scientific knowledge about nuclear material to fully understand it.  But, from what I understand of the deal, the so-called experts say it will hold back Iran from gaining any nuclear weapons for at least 10 years.  Some on our side of the Atlantic think that is too short and that we should just bomb the facilities.

Well, John Bolton – who places more faith than anyone in the power of bombs to solve problems – says that an enthusiastic application of explosives to Iranian nuclear sites could set the program back a whopping three to five years.  Call me silly, but 10 years seems longer than three to five years.  Besides, who knows what the two sides will look like after those ten years?  Things could be good enough to go back to the negotiating table.

Of course the whole deal is going to be dependent on whether or not Iran agrees to the verification process that will be necessary.  The one thing Ronald Reagan said that I do agree with is “trust but verify.”  Somehow, I think that if that policy was good enough to negotiate with the Soviet Union who was far more powerful, it should be good enough to negotiate with Iran.

There is nothing in the framework that would preclude sanctions to be imposed again if Iran breaks the deal.  That is the hammer that the world can use against them to ensure their compliance.  Besides, the sanctions do not immediately come off.  Iran needs to comply with the deal first.  What was announced was a “framework” not an actual finalized deal.  That still needs to be hammered out.  This can still fall apart.

Yet, the Republican Presidential Candidates all hate the deal.  Most have even gone so far as to say they would scrap it on the first day in office if elected.  One of their biggest claims against the President is that our “allies don’t trust us” anymore.  What better way to gain their trust than to break our word on you first day in office?

Remember, this deal is not just with the U.S.  It is with the 5 plus one nations.  These nations include France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China.  Their support is critical in making any deal with Iran stick.  If the U.S. decides not to go along with it and everyone else does, Iran will still have the vast majority of sanctions lifted by these other nations.  We will not be able force to Iran to the table again because acting alone won’t be enough to affect their politics or economy.  As a result, Iran would become even more dangerous than it already is.  And, it would be our fault.

Finally, what other options are there?  This question has been raised to these candidates and they don’t want to answer the question.  When asked what they would do if there was no deal or if they scrapped it, they don’t offer up anything.  The reason they don’t offer up anything is because the only other alternative is war.

Yes, there are basically two ways to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  One is through diplomacy, which is always tricky, and the other is through an invasion.  After almost 14 years of war, Americans are not ready for another one in the Mideast.  If you think Iran’s military is a pushover, you better think again.

The real reason the Republicans are so against this deal is not because it is so bad, it is because they don’t want a deal with Iran.  Their puppet-master in Israel is telling them that the only answer is war with Iran.  And, they are willing to fight the war for him.

As a result, we are getting more of the same fear-mongering about Iran that we got about the old Soviet Union.  It appears that our conservatives aren’t happy unless there is some kind of cold or hot war going on somewhere.  And, in order to keep their fear-mongering alive, they are even willing to break our word with our allies.

What a wonderful way to conduct foreign policy.  Break your word to you allies, and bomb your enemies.

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Climate change is something that can rile up almost anyone on both sides of the issue.  We have seen the peak winter arctic ice at its lowest levels in history this past winter.  The planet has just suffered through its warmest winter in history.  The GOP is still arguing that climate change is a hoax, and are looking to defang the EPA from doing its job in protecting our air and water.

Maybe it is time to stop talking about pollution being the cause of climate change, and refocus it back to pollution being a health hazard instead.  Maybe, if politicians are bombarded with complaints from constituents that pollution from coal-burning electric plants, or other manufacturing is affecting their health, they might listen.  But then again, I doubt that will happen either.

There are two cases pending in two different courts that exemplify this to a tee.  Two lawyers Brendan and Nessa Coppinger apparently live in a row house in Washington, D.C.  They have sued their neighbor for smoking in his own house.  That is right, they have sued their neighbor for smoking in his own house.

“This is a health concern,” Nessa Coppinger, who is 38 and pregnant with her second child, told the Washington Post. “We don’t smoke. We don’t allow smoking in our home. We have smoke in our house all the time.”.  In the law suit they are seeking damages in the amount of $500,000

D.C. Superior Court Judge Ronna Lee Beck ordered that all smoking, of all substances, be banned in the neighbor’s home until the lawsuit is resolved.  Of course, this whole mess raises intriguing questions about a person’s right to smoke in his own house.  Or, for that matter what rights a homeowner really has when it comes to his own property.

Now, this may all seem like something reasonable.  Except for one thing.  Records indicate that Nessa Coppinger, an “environmental lawyer” — often litigates against the environment, including cases in which she’s defended industry clients against people besieged by pollution.

Suncoke Energy, Inc. is being sued by four Ohioans.  The plaintiffs claim that a local metallurgical coke plant, operated by a subsidiary of the billion dollar corporation, “emitted and released blue/gray Noxious and Hazardous Substances-containing clouds or haze,” which poisoned their water, soil and, yes, air, with just about everything one might consider to be a health concern: “sludge-like deposits, strong odors, particulates, lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium, creosote, coal-tar pitch, coal-tar pitch volatiles, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g., benzo(a) pyrene and chrysene) (“PAHs”), sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, dioxins, volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”), hydrochloric acid (“HCL”), volatiles, carbon monoxide, benzene, flue gas, chemical clouds and haze, other solid and hazardous wastes, other hazardous substances and pollutants, and mixtures containing such substances.”

The lawyer defending the billion dollar giant is none other than Nessa Coppinger.  The plaintiffs reported experiencing unpleasant odors infiltrating their properties, claimed to suffer respiratory symptoms from the smoke and said they “are concerned and apprehensive about risks to their and their family members’ health from their past and ongoing exposure to said substances.”  No court order has prohibited the plant from spewing the pollutants, as alleged, onto its neighbors’ property.  This lawsuit has been ongoing for five years.

So we have a lawyer who is seeking $500,000 from a neighbor because his smoking in his own house is seeping into her house causing “second-hand smoke” issues defending a company who is polluting its neighbors with even more toxic pollutants.  The biggest difference is that the “smoker” is smoking within his own house.  The company polluting its neighbors are not polluting inside their own facility.  Rather they are openly polluting the entire area.

If this sounds rather familiar, remember the Exxon CEO who, last year, joined an anti-fracking lawsuit after nearby drilling activity threatened to lower his own property values.  The same Exxon CEO who claims that fracking is perfectly safe and won’t cause harm to the environment or property values.

I firmly believe that these cases point out the simple fact that the fight to protect polluters has nothing to do with climate change or anything like it.  It is to defend the billion dollar companies that are killing our planet and us.  But, as long as it happens to someone else, it is okay.  Just keep it from our neighborhood.

That is why the GOP will continue its stupidity on climate change and its attack on science and the EPA.

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The Canadian Senator is still talking about climate change as if it were a fairy tale.  He shared his thoughts with Seth Meyers on late night television the other day.  On the show he said:

I just came back from New Hampshire where there’s snow and ice everywhere. And my view actually is simple. Debates on this should follow science and should follow data. And many of the alarmists on global warming, they’ve got a problem because the science doesn’t back them up. And in particular, satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years there’s been zero warming, none whatsoever. It’s why, you remember how it used to be called global warming, and then magically the theory changed to climate change?  The reason is it wasn’t warming. But the computer models still say it is, except the satellites show it’s not.

Hey, someone on the Republican side actually said “debates on this should follow science and should follow data.”  However, I suggest that Mr. Cruz actually use the full science and data when he talks about climate change.  He has cherry picked the last 17 years to claim there has been no “warming.”

He has failed to say how come, then, that 13 of the hottest 14 years on record all came since 2000.  He also failed to mention that this last winter was the warmest than any winter in history.  I know he says that he just came from New Hampshire where there was “snow and ice everywhere.”  But as most people recognize, weather is not the same as climate.

Additionally, the satellites do show that the climate has been warming by an average of .2 degrees per decade since 1980 when satellite records began.  Now, maybe Cruz doesn’t think that .2 degrees per decade is showing any “warming” but when you add that all up since 1980 that means the planet has warmed by almost a full degree.

We already know that sea ice is melting.  We already know the glaciers are shrinking.  What does Senator Cruz thinks is causing all of this ice to melt?  Does he think that not “warming” will cause ice to melt?  Anyone with half of a brain knows that ice melts when it gets too hot to stay as ice.

But why are Cruz and the Republicans trying to claim that climate change isn’t real?  All you need do is look at the House’s proposed budget.  In this budget they scream about “government red-tape” is causing jobs to be lost.  Yet the only example they use is the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules on carbon emissions from burning coal.

We all know how much Republicans hate the EPA.  So this not anything unexpected.  But, when you take into consideration the consistent attack on global warming as being a big hoax, it is easy to see how their budget favoring polluters would be difficult to defend if they actually said climate change was real.

Our own Department of Defense has said that climate change is a real national security threat.  You know, the same Department of Defense that Republicans want to give more money to.  The same Department of Defense that is supposed to figure out what threats our national defense faces in the future in order to plan for them.  They say that climate change is a “national security threat” to our country.

DOD is smart enough to know that if people around the world start going hungry or thirsty due to major drought, they will look for those resources elsewhere.  And, that won’t be by buying it from another country.  It will be by invading another country.

It is being reported that California, which is suffering its worse drought in history, has about one year’s worth of water left.  What happens if that water runs out?  California isn’t alone in suffering from drought either.  Cruz’s own state of Texas is suffering from drought as well.  Especially in its western regions.

But instead of looking at the science and the data, Republicans are more interested in keeping the cash flows going to polluters.  They are more interested in their donor base than they are in the American people.  Over the years, pollution has caused public health problems.  Things like asthma increased because of pollution.  That was one of the biggest reasons Richard Nixon formed the EPA in the first place.

Now the science is telling us that pollution is causing the climate of our planet to change.  Sea temperatures are rising, causing sea ice to melt and making tropical storms more powerful.  The overall temperature of the planet is rising causing glaciers to melt.  Sea levels are rising threatening small things like islands and the majority of the state of Florida.

Yet the Republicans want you to believe that “climate change” is a hoax.  Hell, Florida even banned its government employees from using the term “climate change.”  How’s that for hiding our head in the sand.  Of course, if climate change keeps going, a lot of Florida will be under water so there won’t be any sand to stick your head in.

The one thing that I have never understood about this argument is the lack of initiative by the gas, oil, and coal companies.  The amazing thing is that none of them are doing anything about shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energies.  These are the companies that get huge tax subsidies from the government.  They already have infrastructure in place, yet they are reluctant, at best, to help wean us off of fossil fuels and onto renewable energy.

You would think that forward thinking executives at these companies would see the economic benefits of having their companies take the lean in moving the country to renewable energy.  I am not an economist, but it would seem to me that would help ensure their viability in the future, when their product runs out.

One example is several car companies have been experimenting with hydrogen run vehicles.  The major stumbling block to this technology becoming a reality is the infrastructure necessary is lacking.  Yet the oil industry hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon to get the infrastructure in place or even produce the hydrogen itself.  To me that is very short-term vision at best.

But then, if Republicans are going to continually say climate change is a hoax and keep passing budgets friendly to these companies, why should they change their vision?  Forget about the idea that renewable energy systems means real middle-class American jobs that cannot be outsourced.  Talk about creating jobs!

Unfortunately, scientists are not going to be able to change the debate on climate change.  Republicans hate scientist from the get go.  It is up to us, the citizens, to hold their feet to the fire on climate change.  It is our lives that are being affected by it, and it is up to us to make a change in the debate.

As long as Republicans feel “safe” in getting re-elected with the help of their contributors, they will never change on the issue.  We must force them to face losing the next election before they will act.  On the other hand, if you remain silent, nothing much is at stake.  Just the future of your children and grandchildren.

 

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Education is necessary for this country to compete in a global economy.  It has been the backbone of our innovations and achievements.  Without educating our children, we would become a country of morons.  Worse, we would go back to the days when companies “owned” your soul.  Most Americans don’t remember the days when companies owned you.  Corporations like coal mines owned the mine, the town, and everything in it including the people.

If you worked in a coal mine, you were forced to “rent’ your house from the coal company.  You were forced to get your food and clothing and furniture from the company owned store.  You were even charged for the tools you used on the job.  As a result of this as well as high costs for everything, you were basically owned by the coal company.  If you lost your job you were screwed.

Unions help bust these monopolies.  But, education was another important factor in breaking from company owned lives.  By getting an education, you had the opportunity to break-away from the company and branch out on your own.  This meant that fewer children from miners were heading down into the mine when they grew up.  More and more simply left for better opportunities.

This worked very well for America, in the 20th century, especially after World War Two.  Between better education and the unions, the middle-class surged.  Even factory workers with High School educations were better off than their fathers.  Things were looking up and America’s economy grew rapidly.

In the 1970s, things started to change.  Unions came under fierce attack.  States started passing “right to work” laws that basically took collective bargaining away from workers and resulted in lower pay.  The worst part was that education was also under attack.  Teachers were being vilified and treated as the enemy.  They found their pay stagnating and they were blamed if students didn’t do well on the standardized tests.

Funding for public education plummeted in certain areas of the country.  Especially in poor areas both urban and rural.  Education fell drastically.  Once having the highest rating for education in the world, we have fallen to about 25th in the world.

The problem is that the current Republican Party seems determined to lower that standing even more.  Republicans are introducing legislation in several states that will halt any real education of our children.  They aren’t even trying to make an argument for these changes either.  They simply want to stop educating our children altogether.

Some Examples:

1)  They have been pushing to get rid of Common Core Standards.  The irony is that they claim that Common Core is too challenging and causes too much stress.  I thought education was supposed to be challenging.  However, their real argument is that the Federal Government is pushing this on local communities.  That is what they don’t like.  By making sure that every child receives basically the same education, we will help ensure that these children can attain their dreams.  One group won’t lag behind others because they didn’t receive the best education possible.

As I wrote once before, I believe that in order to compete in a global economy, we cannot use “local control” when it comes to educating our children.  We need to make sure that all children receive the skills needed to compete in the real world.  That includes math, reading, science and history.  The Republicans want to “dictate” what the children in their states learn, the future be damned.

2) Most Republican controlled states have cut education funding dramatically.  Some states have cut it more than $1 Billion.  Places like Mississippi, which is the lowest funded public school in the country, wants to cut even more.  They don’t care if their children learn anything.  One of their state Representatives Gene Alday even compared education to welfare.  Especially when it comes to teaching black children.  He seems to think that educating black children is a waste of money.

That leads to defunding public education in general.  Meaning that he is very happy with his state being at the bottom of the education ladder.  No one in Mississippi seems to think that is the biggest reason the state ranks dead last in economics for its people.  Mississippi continuously rates as the poorest state in the union.  I will venture that their poor education system is the cause of this continued rating.

3)  There is a major push by Republicans to not teach AP History.  In Oklahoma, a committee voted along party lines 11-4 to outlaw the use of the AP History curriculum.  The reason isn’t because there is anything really wrong with the curriculum, but rather because it actually teaches students our faults as well as our achievements.

The bill’s sponsor, state representative Dan Fisher, argued that the schools should be teaching “American exceptionalism,” and avoiding teaching parts of American history that are less than flattering.  Even the Republican National Committee endorses the idea that AP history courses should teach less strife and present a more rah-rah view of American history.

Earlier in the school year, students in Colorado walked out of classes when that state tried to limit the AP History course.  To some, it may seem like a good idea that we teach only the rah-rah parts of history.  But, by doing so, we are failing our children.  One only need to look back to 1930s Germany to see what happens when governments rewrite history to achieve political agendas.

To paraphrase the book 1984, “To control the future you need to control the past.  You control the past by controlling the present.”  Rewriting history in order to make us look good and present the idea that America can do no wrong, is very dangerous for the future.  Without remembering our weaknesses, we will definitely relive them.

4)  Cutting education funding is not limited to just elementary and high school   Many states, like Wisconsin, are cutting funding to state universities as well.  This is resulting in higher tuition costs.  It also means that fewer students will be able to afford college.

As it is, the average college graduate leaves college with massive student loan debt.  By cutting funding to state universities, that debt will rise even more.  Plus, it will make a lot of people who wish to attend college turn away because they cannot afford the costs.

Walker and his staff haven’t really taken many pains to hide that this is rooted in a deeper hostility to the very idea of knowledge itself. “A harbinger of what Walker might face came in an immediate uproar on social media this month after his staff proposed changing the university’s ethereal focus on the pursuit of truth, known as the ‘Wisconsin Idea,’ to a grittier focus on ‘workforce needs.”

Even though there may be some conservative lip smacking about “saving money” Walker backed off recasting higher education as nothing more than job training after his critics pointed out he is a college dropout, but the fact that this wording change was proposed at all shows that the hostility to education is ideological and has little to nothing to do with saving money.

5)  Kansas has taken the spotlight again.  Kansas has become a cesspool of stupid ideas, especially since Brownback took office as Governor.  This state’s legislature wants everyone to know that you should wait for marriage before having sex.  But, that isn’t enough for them.  They want that taught in sex education classes.  They don’t want anything else being taught as “sex education.”  There’s growing support for having teachers fear jail time should they ever hint, during sex education, that sex is a thing people do for pleasure.

Citing a teacher who had used a poster in class that suggested that sex is sometimes used to show affection, Republicans are pushing a bill that would make it a crime for teachers to dare to acknowledge such a thing again.  You read that correctly.  They want to be able to put in jail any teacher who suggests that sex is sometimes used to show affection.

There are other examples as well.  Don’t forget about the conservative push to ban evolution being taught in science classes and replacing it with creationism.  The list goes a whole lot deeper.

The Republican Party has been fighting against education for generations.  This is really nothing new.  Education funding is always one of the first things to be cut in states under their rule.  Teachers are vilified and as you can see in Kansas, criminalized. Why is education under so much attack by Republicans?

You may or may not agree with this, but I believe that the Republican Party wants Americans to be as stupid as possible!  They don’t want us to think for ourselves.  They don’t want us to be able to question their policies.  Basically, they want to return us to the world of company towns again.

When the populace is uneducated, you can get them to believe your crazy ideas much easier.  When you rewrite history, you can make them believe whatever you want.  These are very dangerous philosophies.  We owe a better future to our children.

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Interior Secretary Sally Jewel was in Alaska yesterday.  She went to a small village to see first-hand the effects climate change is having on this village.  She visited Kivalina, a village of 370 on a barrier island just off Alaska’s northwest coast.

For those who don’t know very much about Alaska, savage winter storms can have a devastating effect on coastal areas.  Kivalina was protected in the past from some of these storms because of the ice which created a natural barrier.  However, in the last few decades, this natural barrier hasn’t been as effective because the ice freezes later in the winter than in the past.

As a result, coastal erosion has increased dramatically.  “You can see the impact of coastal erosion in the village,” Jewell said. “You can hear the fear in people’s voices about what’s happening with climate change. Things are changing up here, and that’s part of what I’m on this trip to learn about.”

The erosion has gotten so bad that residents have moved bodies from the village cemetery in order to prevent them from washing away.  Additionally, they report that due to migration route changes, subsistence hunters must travel greater distances to harvest caribou and whales.

The coastal erosion has also resulted in less land on the island.  That means there is less land to build new homes.  As a result, many residents are “cramming” up to 20 people in a 2 or 3 bedroom house.  “Hopefully this session will bring the kind of visibility that you need to Kivalina for the challenges you have with climate change,” Jewell said, pointing to television cameras carried by reporters. “Because you’re on the front lines, right here.”

But, there is another problem in Alaska that is harming villages like Kivalina.  The state budget is tied to the petroleum industry with 90% of its revenue coming from that industry alone.  With oil prices dropping, the state is now facing a multi-billion dollar deficit.

As a result, some of Alaska’s officials followed Jewel on her visit.  However, they didn’t seem to interested in the plight of the village or its population.  Rather, they were only interested in being able to produce more oil.  President Barack Obama’s announcement last month that he would seek wilderness status for the oil-rich coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, and Jewell’s announcement that she would remove five Arctic Ocean areas from future offshore lease sales, prompted protests from Alaska officials.

“I may be an easy target,” Jewell said. “But the reality is oil prices have fallen dramatically, and that’s impacted the state’s budget. We are supporting responsible and safe oil drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve and in the Outer Continental Shelf.”

Residents of Kivalina talked about something other than oil drilling.  “When I was in the village of Kivalina, they didn’t talk with me at all about resource development,” she said. “They talked to me about personal life and safety. They talked about subsistence. They talked about a change in climate, about melting permafrost that’s impacting berry picking and their movement across the landscape.”

U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska said past administrations have always treated Alaska like a “little jewel” without consideration about its residents.  He then went on to say that President Obama was even worse than past administrations.

“What’ll be accomplished? We don’t know,” Young said. “I’m not overly optimistic, because this is not the secretary’s, personally, I don’t think it’s her personal opinion. It’s an environmental group around the president. And the president’s decided to be against fossil fuels.”

His last comment came straight from the Republican and Oil Industry playbook.  He said:  “The idea that global warming is caused by people is the biggest charade ever perpetrated on the people of Alaska.”

Well Mr. Young, what does the State of Alaska plan to do to assist villages like Kivalina?  You never mentioned the plight of these people and their village.  If this continues, it is very possible that Kivalina is going to disappear from the map.  Do you have any plans to help them?

Climate change is very real.  2014 was the warmest the planet has been in history!  As a matter of fact, 13 of the warmest years in history have come since the year 2000.  All over Alaska the permafrost is melting.  The arctic ice is melting.  Sea levels are rising.  And people who live in areas like the little village of Kivalina are paying the price for it.

Still, a Congressman from Alaska has the audacity to claim that the idea of global warming being caused by humans is “the biggest charade” ever perpetrated on the people of Alaska.  If this idea is such a hoax, why has there been more snow on the east coast than in most parts of Alaska this winter?  Why is the temperature in a small village on the northwest coast of Alaska about the same as in Washington, D.C.?

As usual, this is really about economics.  Specifically the oil industry’s economics.  Since oil prices have fallen, something must be done to increase their revenues.  Never mind that a lack of snow in many parts of the west and Rockies have cost ski resorts money.  Never mind that global warming is threatening to wipe out this village in Alaska, and it isn’t the only one either.

For Mr. Young and his cohorts, it is about protecting your donor list.  It has nothing to do with the citizens he is supposed to be representing.  As I see it, Mr. Young considers the plight of the villagers in Kivalina about as much as he does stepping on a bug.  Not at all.  Just keep the money from the oil industry flowing into his coffers and the world will be a wonderful place.

 

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There are a lot of things in the world that threaten us and our very existence.  Ever since the end of WWII we have lived under the umbrella of potential nuclear destruction.  We have lived under the threat of being wiped out by another pandemic.  Human history has had plenty of cases of near extinction through pandemics.  Should a pandemic break out now, the anti-vaxers will probably be first in line for the shot to save their life.  But, when it comes to protecting their children from known diseases, “forget-about-it”.

I know there are valid medical reasons why some children don’t get vaccinated.  Sometimes allergic reactions can kill a child quicker than the disease.  Under these situations, I fully understand why a child may not be vaccinated.  That isn’t being “stupid parents” who refuse the vaccines for stupid reasons.

Through the years, man has worked extremely hard to find cures and preventions for diseases that can spread wildly and wipe us out.  We have seen the miracle of vaccines like polio, measles, mumps, and other diseases that killed our children before they grew up.

Many of these diseases were all but eliminated.  Small Pox for example was unheard of for a full generation.  Measles out breaks were unheard of for over 20 or 30 years.  That is all changing now.  The backwards slide into stupidity has run amuck.  And, no I am not going to pull any punches this time.  Not vaccinating your child against these deadly and highly infections diseases should be a crime.  At the very least it could be considered child neglect and it must stop!

This ultra-stupidity began with the bogus science that surfaced back in the 90s.  During that time, people began to cry that their children were being infected with diseases like autism because they got a vaccine.  It was then, and it still is now total bullshit!  You do not get autism because you get a vaccine!

The worst part of this bogus science is that politicians are willing to comply with spreading its lies!  We all heard Sarah Palin talking about in the 2008 elections.  We heard Michelle Bachman ramble on about this fictitious problem too.  Now we have two Republican politicians who are publicly saying vaccines should be voluntary.

This is all coming up again because of the measles outbreak that started at Disneyland in California.  There are now over 100 known cases in several states all connected to the outbreak at Disneyland.  The President said that children should get their vaccines.  But, Chris Christie, while visiting a vaccine laboratory in England said there “should be some measure of choice” on whether shots should be required for children.

But even worse, Ron Paul, who is supposed to be ophthalmologist completely went off the stupid cliff.  He not only said that vaccines should be voluntary, he cited “many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.”

Not being satisfied with that, he went further explaining how parents own their children.  “The state doesn’t own your children,” Paul said on CNBC, praising vaccines for their health benefits but insisting that the government should not mandate their use in most cases. “Parents own the children. And it is an issue of freedom and public health.”

I really love the way Republicans use that word “freedom” like it some kind of candy.  If you believe that a rule or law must be forced on everyone who doesn’t believe what you do, like banning abortion, it is your religious freedom that allows you to force these laws on women with different religious beliefs.

But, if a rule or law say you must vaccinate your children for their protection and the greater good of the public health of the country, they say you should have the “freedom” to say you don’t want to vaccinate your children.  Worse, you believe that once you subject your children to these diseases because you refuse to protect them, they can then go ahead and potentially infect other children in schools, parks, swimming pools, or amusement parks.

That is their definition of “freedom.”  If something is good for “me”, it is called “freedom.”  If something is good for the nation, it is call “government regulation.”  In the meantime hundreds of children are being exposed to measles because some stupid parent believed the false and bogus science that was intended to scare the shit out of parents for no reason at all.

With politicians like Christie and Paul supporting this bogus science and “parental choice” more children will get sick.  Some may even die from their disease.  But, according to Senator Paul, we “own” our children.  So, if we choose to potentially kill them by not vaccinating them against disease, that is our choice and the government can’t do a thing about it.

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Well, the 2016 campaign, at least on the Republican side, is officially on.  Many of the people who think they would make an excellent President went to Iowa last weekend for Rep. Steve King and Citizens United “Freedom Summit.”  This is the Tea Party’s dog-and-pony show for the most Conservative Candidates.  But the party was very limited in scope since Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Bobby Jindal, et al were not present.  As a matter of fact, King called the non-attendees “second stringers.”

One thing that all of the candidates railed against was Common Core.  Yes, they all went on about the “exceptionalism” of America, but they all seem to think that education is not part of that “exceptionalism.”  They are wrong.  Among the candidates were people like Scott Walker who is trying to kill unions in Wisconsin, especially the teacher’s unions.  Then there was Chris Christie who gutted $1 Billion from New Jersey’s education budget and laid-off thousands of teachers.

I believe there is an extreme weakness in the American Education Process.  It is what the right calls “local control” of our schools.  There was a time when I can see that “local control” of the schools was important.  But, as times have changed, local control of schools has actually hurt education more than it has helped.  In fact it my opinion that “local control” is killing education in America.

When America was young, people did not travel around much.  It was an agrarian society.  People went to school for fundamentals, but were expected to work the fields after they graduated.  As we moved into the twentieth century and urban centers more evolved, manufacturing became another place where people were expected to work.  As a result, global economics and even intra-state commerce were never considered in educating children.

Back in the 50s and 60s when I attended school, most people who graduated either went into the fields, factories, fishing boats, or other such occupations.  Yet, most children in those days could point to a map and tell you where Portugal was on it.  We all learned about reading, writing, and arithmetic, but we also learned about science, geography and history.  Everyone received an education that would make them eligible for college if that was their choice.

Many high schools also offered career oriented classes like shop.  If you were disinclined to attend college, you could learn a trade that would pay you a living wage.  Whether people want to believe it or not, there were national standards that had to be mastered.

With today’s global economy, it is not proper to let local communities determine the curricula for the schools anymore.  There are still areas in the country where people who graduate from school are still expected to work the fields, factory, or fishing boats, etc.  They have no concern about the global economy their children will be expected to live and survive in.

“American Exceptionalism” as the right likes to talk about is based on the ability of our citizens to be more productive and, basically, smarter than our competition.  Innovation, research, invention are all items necessary to continue to outpace the competition in the world.  With “local control” of our elementary and high school education, we are losing those competitive advantages.

The primary purpose of education is to prepare our children for the real world.  We must educate them in things like literature, science, math, history, and even geography.  Without these skills, they are at a disadvantage in the real world.  Besides, without these skills, they will never be able to critically think.  Critical thinking is what fosters innovation, research and invention.

It is time we stop the stupidity of “local control” of our education.  It is time that real standards be set so every student, wherever they live, get the same education as everyone else.  Common Core is not a federal government standard.  It is something that was put together by states.  Many states have adopted Common Core.  Many are fighting it tooth and nail.

The real reason this fight is going on is because of the “local control” aspect.  Local communities still believe they know what is best for their children.  But, they use education as a political football instead of something that is necessary.  They use “local control” to change science classes so things like evolution are not taught, but creationism is.  They go further to not teach climate change is real and that it is man-made even though all of the evidence proves them wrong.

But, if you live in an area that relies on coal mining, that is not something that you want your children to learn.  After they graduate, most are expected to work in the mines.  So, you have to teach that there is nothing wrong with coal.  Economically, it is a sound point since the whole economy of the region relies on the mines.  Educationally, it hampers those who decide to go on to college where they will be competing against students who were not hampered in science classes because of ideology.

Of course the biggest argument against Common Core is that the “feds” are running education.  That is always a fear for anyone who really doesn’t like the idea of a federal government.  But, as I mentioned above, Common Core is NOT run by the federal government, nor was it created by the federal government.

The paranoia the right-wing has created in this country is killing the very thing they like to crow about, “American Exceptionalism.”  You don’t have to look far to see I am right.  America used to lead the world in educating our children.  It has slipped to about 26th in the world.  If we don’t stop the attack on education by the right, we can see that standing slip even further.

Teachers are not the problem.  Teacher unions are not the problem.  Children are not the problem.  The real problem is “local control” of elementary and high school education.  Look at reality.  How many people on your local school board that determines the curriculum for your child’s education even have a college degree?  I believe that you will be amazed how many school board members never went to college.

Whether we keep Common Core, which I believe we should, or go with another version that is even more strict about standards, something must be done to remove “local control” from our education system.  If not, the only thing that will be “exceptional” about America is that we will be an industrialized nation with a third world education of our children.

Unfortunately, the attack on our education system by the right makes me think that is their true definition of “American Exeptionalism.”  As usual with their agenda, our country and our children are the true losers.

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