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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

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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It is time I said something about the latest controversy – emails.  Since it came out that Hillary Clinton used a personal email address while Secretary of State, you would think that the entire world was set upside down.  There are some questions that do need to be answered that I believe are valid.  The major one is if the email server Clinton used is really secure.

Look, I know about maintaining classified material and secure communications.  If she used her personal email account and personal server for official business, then it must be made certain that the server has the proper security level necessary.  If not, it is possible that something may have been compromised, and that is not good.

On the other hand, the rest of this new controversy is total bullshit!  This is not defending Clinton.  It is merely making a point.  With the possible exception of Lindsey Graham who claims to never have sent an email, everyone in government uses private emails.  This includes Trey Gowdy who is demanding that Clinton turn over every single email she ever sent or received while Secretary of State.

He isn’t alone either.  The business card for Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who succeeded Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to be head of the House’s Government Oversight committee lists a Gmail address.  Why not his official email address?  It also came out that Secretary of State Colin Powell used a personal email account while in office.

What makes Clinton’s use of personal email such a controversy is the never-ending Benghazi Investigations.  I lost count of how many there have been, but so far none of them came up with anything.  Now the email “scandal” is supposed to be the smoking gun.  Gowdy claims she must be hiding something in her personal email account.

Clinton has already released over 55,000 printed pages of emails.  Gowdy wants every single personal email she sent while Secretary of State in the name of transparency.  There is that word again.  Transparency.  We have seen that word used way too much to justify any witch-hunt someone wants to conduct on both sides of the aisle.

I am all for transparency.  But, everyone doesn’t seem to think like I do, not even Gowdy.  For example, AlterNet asked Gowdy’s press secretary how he segregates work he conducts through his personal domain vs congressional work. They also inquired about where his personal email server is stored and how it is secured.  They even tried to contact Gowdy’s campaign manager George Ramsey but he did not return the phone calls.  As of yet, no response was received to these questions.

I don’t know what the “law” everyone talks about actually says about email accounts.  But, if we are going to constantly talk about transparency, then it is wrong to criticize anyone without following your own words about transparency.

I know that a lot of trolls out there would love to peer into the personal email accounts of public officials.  I find that disgusting and an invasion of privacy.  However, if you are going to make a scandal over emails about one person, you must follow through and release your own personal emails so we can judge if you are as pure as you say you are.  Or, is this another case of Congress exempting themselves from laws they pass about other branches of government?

Hillary Clinton wants to be president.  We know that there are a lot of people who are completely against her even running for the office.  That means anything is fair game as far as they are concerned.  The problem I have with all of this is more about judgment.

You know I ask some questions that others won’t, so I will ask this one.  What the f**k was she thinking?  She should have known that anything that even appeared to be wrong would come back to haunt her.  She was slow in her response to the “scandal” too.

In the meantime, this email scandal will go on forever.  The news media loves covering stories about the Clintons.  Either good stories or bad stories.  But, remember, she is not alone in combining personal emails with business.  Only we won’t know who is and who isn’t doing the same until all personal emails are made public for every elected or appointed official.

Hell, if we are going to be a tabloid news nation, what better way to feed the rags than letting everyone see your emails.  As I said before, I find that totally disgusting.  Then again, I can think of a few people whose email accounts I might be interested in seeing.  I am sure you can too.  What gems might they contain?

 

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The FCC ruled on its net neutrality decision.  The new regulations bar companies such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. from blocking or slowing online traffic, or offering faster service in return for payment.  The idea is to ensure that the internet remains open to everyone.

The FCC vote seeks to settle more than a decade of debate about whether the Internet should be a highway offered to all users on equal terms, or whether broadband providers can levy fees and restrict access.

Of course, Republicans are against net neutrality.  Or, at least the type where companies can’t slow down or charge extra for faster service.  House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said lawmakers would try to stop what he called the FCC’s “misguided scheme.”

The vote also brought wireless service under net neutrality rules as well.  That didn’t sit well with Meredith Attwell Baker, president of CTIA-The Wireless Association, a Washington-based trade group with members including AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc., who said the ruling was  “disappointing and unnecessary.”

Under this ruling, the agency has taken authority to judge whether Internet service providers offer fair terms for accepting Web traffic from the likes of video streamer Netflix Inc. and data shippers such as Cogent Communications Holdings Inc. and Level 3 Communications Inc.

It also allows the agency to judge mobile deals that exempt services such as music streaming from counting against subscribers’ data caps. The agency can accept complaints and might ban an anti-competitive plan.  Venture capitalists had told the FCC that these deals violate the concept that all Web traffic should receive equal treatment.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said:  “The action that we take today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free and open access to the Internet.”  Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak was one of the people in the spectator gallery and said that this action is “an indication that the people can sometimes win.”  He went on to say “This is a victory for the people, the consumers, the average Joes.”

You may wonder why the Republicans are so against this ruling?  Well it is very simple.  They only see dollars and cents for their contributors.  If internet providers are allowed to decide which sites will be in their infamous “fast lane” and which will be slowed down, the internet providers will essentially be allowed to control what you see or get on the internet.

You will hear the Republicans complain that all of this is “government overreach” and that is why they are against it.  They are lying.  They want companies to control the highway known as the internet.  They want to be able to bully certain providers to say what can be seen and what cannot.

Republican legislatures all across the country are slashing education funding including university funding.  They have been attacking education like it is a cancer that is making our citizens too smart.  The internet offers open access to sites that help us learn more about today’s world.  With an intelligent constituency, Republicans fear their “fear mongering” won’t work anymore.  So, they want to put the clamp down on the internet as well as public education.

Since the internet and wireless are both monopolies, it would be easy to bully them into doing just that.  This isn’t just about streaming like Netflix, it is about education as well.  As a result, they want internet providers and wireless providers to be able to charge extra for internet users to get into their “fast lane” so their streaming will not be hindered.

How long do you think it would be before special interest groups started bullying internet providers to “slow down” or deny access through their services to users who do not comply with their ideals?  The AP History curriculum is under attack in several states.  What would stop them from bullying or passing a law that denies access to the very parts of the curriculum they don’t like over the internet?

We will see various lawsuits over this ruling.  We will see Republicans introduce legislation trying to overturn this ruling.  As David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, said the FCC action portends “inevitable litigation and years of regulatory uncertainty.”

The real problem for Republicans in this ruling is that these rules are designed to preserve the Internet as an open medium.  Open mediums are not what the Republicans want.  They want control.  They are even willing to let internet providers be their arm for control over what’s on the internet.

This fight isn’t over.  We still have too many conservative judges , even a conservative Supreme Court, that can overturn these rulings.  Only time will tell if they stand or not.  If they do, then the people have finally won one over the oligarchs and Republicans.

 

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There has been an awful lot written about Brian Williams and his fall from grace at NBC News.  When it first came out that he “exaggerated” his helicopter flight in 2003 when he said they had been fired on, I thought: What was he thinking?”  This was the nightly anchor for a major network’s news reporting.  He needn’t exaggerate anything.  He wasn’t there to show how brave he was.  He was there to report the news.

But you see, that is what is wrong with the nightly news today.  Rather than simply reporting what happened, news reporters believe they should become part of the story.  Worse, if there isn’t anything “sexy” to report, then something needs to be made up.

The real issue in all of this is integrity.  If news reporters have no integrity, they have no right to be on the air.  I don’t care who they are either.  If Williams is guilty of exaggerating other stories, he deserves to be fired, not just suspended.  But, Williams is just a symptom of the problem, not the cause.

Brian Williams is not alone in this either.  When Ronald Reagan got the part about, equal time, dropped from the airways, the real problems in reporting began in earnest.  As you my remember, if a news organization, or TV station said something political, then the other side was given the right, by law, to respond to those comments.  Reagan got that little law erased.

With that erasure, people like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, and others started hitting the airways.  It was simple.  Since they did not have to offer air time to their opponents, they could simply say whatever they wanted and get a way with it.  The unfortunate side effect of this was that it began to bleed into “regular” news outlets as well.

With the success of those “talk radio” hosts, Fox News was invented.  It claimed to be “fair and balanced” but we all know that isn’t true.  Unless you believe that “fair and balanced” means you attack anything that isn’t male, white and rich.  As a result of all of this, we have seen our nightly news on the major networks become something other than news.  It has fallen into the trap of “entertainment” which is what the conservative media really is.

When you become entertainment, you lose sight of what your real purpose is.  You lose tract that you are supposed to “report the news” and not become a part of it.  It really doesn’t matter if you lean left or right as a person.  You are supposed to simply report the news without a bias.  Yes, that is hard to do, but it has been done in the past.

We remember news anchors like Cronkite, Smith, Brinkley, and Huntley.  These people understood their jobs.  They didn’t need to overly dramatize what was happening.  But, as with all things, times change and people change.  As a result, the news has changed, too.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of seeing news people on-screen showing “deep emotions” whenever a tragedy occurs.  I am tired of news reporters standing in front of some scene of tragedy with tears in their eyes blubbering about “how terrible this was.”  We already know how terrible it was.  But that is what happens when news becomes entertainment.

The news is supposed to let us know what is happening in our world.  It is supposed to give us information so we can make up our own minds when it comes to politics or issues.  It is not supposed to be our decision maker.  It is not supposed to “entertain” us.

I can remember only two times when the past news anchors showed emotion on air.  Once when JFK was killed, and the other was when we landed on the moon.  Unfortunately, showing emotion and becoming part of the story is common-place today.

I am not trying to pile on the Brian Williams bashing bandwagon.  I don’t know what his motivation was, and frankly I don’t care.  Rather, I am simply saying that Brian Williams is a product of today’s news organizations trying to be entertaining instead of informative.  That is no more evident than Bill O’Reilly defending him on the Kimmel Show the other day.  But then, when you make a living fabricating the news for your living, it is easy to defend someone else who fabricated a story.

The Brian Williams issue simply shows a light on how bad the nightly news has become.  It places a spotlight on everything that is wrong with today’s news.  News is news, it is not entertainment!  When the networks and other news organizations come back to that simple reality, maybe we will get nightly news that is worth watching again.

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It is time to wake up, the cows have finally come home!  With unbelievable timing, the Republicans suddenly have shown us a “replacement” to the Affordable Care Act.  Well, “replacement” is about all I could call it.  It is not very pretty.

The proposal was devised by Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the chairman of the Finance Committee; Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee; and Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, a member of the Finance and Health committees.

One of the biggest reasons they decided to put their proposal forward is that they anticipate, as many people do, that the Roberts Court will gut the subsidies from the Affordable Care Act later this year.  Since almost everyone who will lose their subsidies, and therefore their insurance, are in Republican controlled states, they figured they better come up with something.  Plus they want to be able to argue against Democrats who say they haven’t got a plan.

I am sure you are all anxiously waiting to hear what is inside their “plan.”  So, here are some of the key points:

It will eliminate the mandate that individuals must have insurance and employers must offer it to employees or pay a penalty.  “If consumers do not want to buy coverage, they don’t have to,” according to a document describing the Republican plan.  That means we go back to hospitals losing money because people without insurance coverage will still have to be treated without paying for it.

The plan repeals the new taxes placed on insurance companies and manufacturers of prescription drugs and medical devices.  The very taxes that pay for the subsidies many people need to afford health insurance.  Yet, the government would offer subsidies, in the form of tax credits, for the purchase of “health care coverage or services,” according to the proposal.

The subsidies would be available to people with incomes up to three times the poverty level, compared with four times the poverty level under the Affordable Care Act.  That is real nice.  But, with the taxes that pay for subsidies eliminated, how are the Republicans going to “pay for” these subsidies?  Also, it means that millions of low-income earners will lose their subsidies, and probably their insurance as well.

Under this proposal, states would be provided a “capped allotment” to finance coverage for certain Medicaid beneficiaries. Money would be allocated according to the number of poor people in each state.  Increases in future years would be tied to the CPI  plus one percentage point and would “reflect demographic and population changes.”

The proposal says “no one can be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition.”  But there are “conditions” for this coverage.  It mostly goes to people who have had continuous coverage.  They don’t define how long “continuous coverage” is.  If you have not had “continuous coverage,” you may get a one-time chance during an open-enrollment period to get coverage.  If you don’t enroll then, you are out of luck of getting that protection.

You will be able to keep your children on your insurance plan up to age 26.  That is of course if the state you live in doesn’t “opt out” of this provision.  Republicans seem to love that “opt-out” phrase.

Only the states will be able to tell insurance companies what must be covered.  In other words, things like the maternity coverage that the Federal Government says must be included in health coverage, can be eliminated if your state doesn’t want it in there.

I saved the best part for last.  I really think you are going to LOVE this part.  Or, maybe not.

Workers would have to pay federal income tax on the value of employer-provided health benefits that exceed certain annual thresholds — $12,000 for individuals and $30,000 for families. Health benefits above those levels would be treated and taxed as regular income for the employee. The thresholds would increase over time.

Employers could still take tax deductions for the cost of employee health benefits as an incentive to continue providing coverage, Republicans said. Moreover, a summary of the proposal says that “economists across the political spectrum largely agree” that the current tax break for employer-provided insurance is fueling the growth of health costs.

How about that!  Bet you didn’t know that you getting a tax break on your health insurance is fueling the growth of health costs, but the tax break your employer gets isn’t affecting the health costs.

There are the usual Republican talking points in the proposal as well.  Like tort reform, deregulating insurance companies, abortion restrictions, you know their usual laundry list.

So, there you have it.  With one fell swoop, the Republicans have a “replacement” to the Affordable Care Act.  And as expected it favors the health insurance companies and employers.  But, as usual, it punishes the people who need health coverage, mainly the American People.

This proposal is even worse than the status quo that we had before the ACA.  This plan is reportedly being backed by the Republican leadership.  I must give the conservatives some credit here.  They truly live up to the conservative credo:  “Backwards, ever backwards!!”

 

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Last week the Senate passed the Keystone XL Pipeline after the House had already passed it.  Conservatives around the country are cheering this destructive piece of legislation.  Some have even gone so far as to say “we have finally broken away from the middle east oil tit.”  TransCanada spoke up and said that the pipeline will have 42,000 “enduring” jobs.  Of course that is a flat-out lie.

It is estimated that approximately 42,000 construction jobs will be used to build the pipeline.  I like the sound of that number.  However, those 42,000 construction jobs will be gone in less than two years after the start of construction.  After the pipeline has been built, it will keep a whopping 35 jobs.

Imagine that!  If the President came up with a plan that would create 35 long-lasting jobs, the conservatives would be having a fit.  But, since creating those 35 long-lasting jobs is their idea, they are overjoyed with the prospect.  It is even dubious, from TransCanada’s own statements in the past, that 42,000 construction jobs would be created with the pipeline.  Some estimates have it at less than 30,000.

I know I have written about this project quite a bit in the past, but it is time to bring up some points again.  Some of the points we discussed in the past even go against conservative “land ownership rights” stances.

First.  The Keystone XL Pipeline WILL NOT break us from the Middle East Oil Tit!  All of the oil that is scheduled to be sent through this pipeline is destined for Europe and/or China.  We will not be “Importing Oil From A Friend” we will simply be the roadway that gets it shipped overseas.  Therefore, THERE WILL BE NO BENEFIT to American gas and oil supplies!

Second.  TransCanada has a history of leaks in their pipelines.  Their pipes leak all of the time.  The biggest concern in this area is that the Pipeline will traverse over the largest fresh water aquifer in the U.S.  This aquifer is under several states in the Midwest.  This is where millions of people get their drinking water.  It is also where farmers get their irrigation water for their fields.

If a leak occurs, and TransCanada’s record indicates it will, and it seeps into the aquifer, millions of people will have to drink contaminated water.  There is no way to clean up an oil spill in an underground aquifer.  Not only that, but farmers will not be able to use the aquifer to irrigate their crops because that would contaminate our food supply.

Third.  In order to make the pipeline happen, a foreign company is being allowed to use “Eminent Domain” laws to force land owners to give up their land for the pipeline.  Eminent Domain is supposed to be used only when there is a great public need or for safety purposes.  This pipeline does not meet either of these criteria.

On top of that, the land owner is the only people that is at risk should something happen.  TransCanada has written the agreements in such a way that the land owner will be held responsible completely if there is a leak in TransCanada’s pipeline.  If a leak occurs, TransCanada will find some lame excuse to blame the land owner.  Like they shouldn’t have driven their harvester so close to the pipeline.  There are even cases where the pipeline will be less and 250 feet from the owner’s primary residence!

Even if, after years of legal haggling, the land owner is found faultless, it will be too late and they will have gone bankrupt.  The land owners who are affected by the pipeline have filed suit against the use of Eminent Domain in this case.  They claim that Eminent Domain cannot be used to forcefully make them give up their land for the pipeline.  These legal cases should tie up the pipeline for years.

There are a lot of other reasons for this pipeline NOT to be built.  There is one big reason that conservatives, and especially the Tea Party want it to be built.  The name of that reason is the Koch Brothers!  The Koch Brothers through their Koch Industries, own a substantial part of the Tar Sands Oil from which this oil is coming.  Since they are the largest contributors to conservatives and the Tea Party, this boondoggle is extremely important to them, and therefore must be made real.

Of course none of the pipeline will traverse any of the Koch Brothers property.  How convenient.  It reminds me of the Exxon Oil executive who briefly joined an anti-fracking lawsuit in Texas saying that fracking was hurting his property’s value.  Of course when his participation in the suit became public, he backed away.

Maybe we should reroute the pipeline so it crossed the Koch Brothers property!  If they are certain that it won’t cause any harm to the land or environment, they should be proud to have it cross their land.  Wouldn’t you call that leadership through example?  Don’t hold your breath!

Everyone who is touting the benefits of the Keystone XL Pipeline are simple “snake oil” salesmen.  The pipeline holds no value to the U.S. only risks.  It will NOT affect our oil supply since it is all earmarked to be exported.  It will NOT create thousands of permanent jobs, only 35.  It takes away land from farmers and others, not for the public good, but to enrich a foreign corporation.

That is why the President must veto this lousy piece of legislation!

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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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