Thursday, July 25

Fun With Monogamy, Vol. MMCDLXXXI

TELEVISION Blitherer: The baby's name will be George Alexander Louis. 

My Poor Wife: Damn! I was hoping for “Dakota”! 

Wednesday, July 24

You’ll Never Believe It

“I don’t read Reason magazine.”
-Mitch “Cut and Paste” Daniels

NO, that’s not Reason’s ad campaign for this fall, though the way things are going they might consider it; it’s former genius Mitch Daniels trying to extricate himself from the plagiarism scandal he started while trying to extricate himself from last week’s book burning scandal.

Evidently Daniels released a statement last week which seems to’ve borrowed copiously from two publications: yet another anti-Zinn obit from 2010 in Reason, and a  press release from Stanford concerning Professor Sam Wineburg critique of Zinn. The Wineburg quote was later excised from Daniels’ statement, after Wineburg complained, saying, “I have criticized Zinn but will defend to my death the right to teach him. Shame on Mitch Daniels,” on the Twitter thing.
Excerpt of Daniels’ first statement defending his criticism of history Howard Zinn, sent to reporters on July 17: 
“No one need take my word that my concerns were well-founded. Respected scholars and communicators of all ideologies agree that the work of Howard Zinn was irredeemably slanted and unsuited for teaching to schoolchildren. 
“Arthur M. Schlesinger said, ‘I don’t take him very seriously. He’s a polemicist, not a historian.’ Socialist historian Michael Kazin judged Zinn’s work as ‘bad history, albeit tilted with virtuous intentions’ and said the book was more suited to a ‘conspiracy monger’s website than to a work of scholarship.’ Reviewing the text in The American Scholar, Harvard University professor Oscar Handlin denounced ‘the deranged quality of his fairy tale, in which the incidents are made to fit the legend, no matter how intractable the evidence of American history.’ 
“Stanford history education expert Sam Wineburg cautioned that exposing children to a heavily filtered and weighted interpretation such as Zinn’s work is irresponsible when ‘we are talking about how we educate the young, those who do not yet get the interpretive game.’ 
“Many more such condemnations by persons of political viewpoints different from my own are available on request.” 
Excerpt of Michael Moynihan’s Reason magazine article 2010: 
“Much of the criticism of Zinn has come from dissenters on the left. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. once remarked that ‘I don’t take him very seriously. He’s a polemicist, not a historian.’ Last year, the liberal historian Sean Wilentz referred to the ‘balefully influential works of Howard Zinn.’ Reviewing A People’s History in The American Scholar, Harvard University professor Oscar Handlin denounced ‘the deranged quality of his fairy tale, in which the incidents are made to fit the legend, no matter how intractable the evidence of American history.’ Socialist historian Michael Kazin judged Zinn’s most famous work ‘bad history, albeit gilded with virtuous intentions.’” 
Excerpt from 2012 Stanford University press release quoting Stanford education professor Sam Wineburg on Howard Zinn’s work: 
“Wineburg writes that a heavily filtered and weighted interpretation becomes dangerous when ‘we are talking about how we educate the young, those who do not yet get the interpretive game.’”  
Excerpt of Daniels’ statement, still dated July 17, as it appeared on Purdue University’s website Tuesday: 
“No one need take my word that my concerns were well founded. Respected scholars and communicators of all ideologies agree that the work of Howard Zinn was irredeemably slanted and unsuited for teaching to schoolchildren. Arthur M. Schlesinger said, “I don’t take him very seriously. He’s a polemicist, not a historian.” Many more such condemnations by persons of political viewpoints different from my own are available on request.”
Anyone who’s ever graded a paper recognizes the technique. It’s not even a question. It’s sloppy, at best, and it wasn’t at the service of convincing the paper-grader you’d read the assignment; this was the President of a major uni…, I mean, Purdue, trying to defend an idea he shouldn’t have had in the first place. (Not to mention one which, as we noted last week, he rather obviously didn’t have before he read Sneering Haberdashery Republican Roger Kimball’s Zinn obit in the National Review. That led Daniels to tell his henchmen that there were “errors on every page” of A People’s History.)

So we had Mitch Daniels trying to use the power of the state to censor teachers, and professors, over a book he’d only heard described, and which wasn’t in use anywhere among Indiana public schools, insisting, first, that he was only speaking of secondary schools even though the entire conversation revolved around changing standards for an education degree, then taking examples from two pieces in order to prove that Zinn had been criticized. By Even the Liberal Arthur Schlessinger, Jr. Of course he had to swipe examples. How was he supposed to sound like he knew what he was talking about?

By the way, this is the eight-year history of the state of Indiana under Daniels’ governorship. Except for the part where he gets called out for what he said and did.

Wednesday, July 17

Little Man

SO Mitch Daniels, former CEO of Auction Indiana, Inc., appears to’ve been a little more interested in education reform than previously suspected:
Emails obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request show Daniels requested that historian and anti-war activist Howard Zinn's writings be banned from classrooms and asked for a "cleanup" of college courses. In another exchange, the Republican talks about cutting funding for a program run by a local university professor who was one of his sharpest critics.

The emails are here and here. In case you’re blissfully unaware of Indiana politics, “Tony Bennett” was Daniels’ education henchman, and such an egregious turd he lost his bid for reelection in a Republican year in Indiana.

Now, at the risk of shocking some readers, I’m not completely surprised to learn that Mitch Daniels was a petty tyrant, an intellectual lightweight, a Bill of Rights hypocrite, nor a vindictive runt. I’m sure he comes off a little worse simply because the A.P. was not able to obtain his detailed supplemental list of the errors “on every page” of A People’s History.

I would just like to take a moment this AM to point out a couple things. First, Daniels refers to Zinn “finally” passing away; apart from the standard display of Daniels’ class and wit, it suggests that his familiarity with Zinn had begun less than a week earlier, with Roger Kimball’s piece in the National Review. Daniels even appropriates Kimball’s “textbook of choice in high schools and colleges across the country” line, a classic example of how anti-fluoridationist hyperbole becomes established fact the moment it reaches a pair of ears.

(I will admit, under the circumstances, that I frankly admire Daniels’ ability to get through the thing in just six days, while taking notes, seeing how occupied he was at the time with paying for someone else’s coal gasification plant, half-completing I-69, and finding reasons to avoid testifying in the FSSA suits and countersuits.)

The salient point, though, is Daniels’ reaction when a series of emails detailing efforts to get the recently discovered and deceased Zinn out of the education curriculum at state universities: he insisted he was talking about K-12 only.

Anybody ever read a standard K-12 history book in this country? Dear God, they’ve been watered-down Chamber of Commerce pamphlets since Mitch Daniels was knee high to…I mean, since he was a lad. The introduction of Howard Zinn to Indiana classrooms (Daniels’ hench-emailers found nary a copy) would improve the teaching of history no matter what you think of what he says. Hell, Howard Stern would improve our secondary History curriculum.

This isn’t about free speech, or Daniels’ Randian dedication to it, though that’s plenty enough for starters. It’s about the Nixonian dishonesty at the heart of education “reform”. It’s about the wingnut echo chamber where even “reasonable” Republicans reside. It’s about the fact that you can somehow get an Ivy League education and not understand the concept of research.

On a personal note, once the quarter-stick-of-dynamite Freedom fireworks Daniels let into the state stopped blowing up last night, it got so quiet I thought I heard the Purdue faculty laughing its collective asses off. And the prolonged celebration of the Fourth reminded me that Howard Zinn "finally" died as a veteran of WWII. When it comes time to piss on Mitch Daniels' grave that, fortunately, won't be an issue.

Sunday, July 14


I KNOW two things about juries: I don't want my life or my liberty decided by one, and I don't want my sense of justice in the hands of one.

I don't think anyone with a sense of the history of this country imagined that justice was going to come out of that Florida jury. Put another way, Trayvon Martin received the full measure of American justice. Yesterday completed it. George Zimmerman is the model American. George Zimmerman is the fucking walking embodiment of America: we've got the gun, and the guy we don't like the looks of is supposed to jump when we say jump. And then, we it all goes wrong, we change the rules, congratulate ourselves on a job well done, and pretend it never happened.

There was never going to be any justice for Trayvon Martin come out of that courtroom. His chance for justice was killed by some mope who wanted to assume the moral superiority of the small-town bully cop, with none of the restraints. If he didn't die a mean and meaningless death, let that be for the one reason that's left him, and his parents: that what should die with him is the witless song and dance about this country being "over" its racist "past". 

Tuesday, July 9

Tuesday Olio: Summer Rerun Edition

• In 2006 the homicide rate in Indianapolis skyrocketed. In 2007 we accidentally elected a new Republican mayor, in no small measure because of the furor over the previous year’s murder rate.

We’re off to a record-breaking summer, as they say in the ad biz, up 60% from last year, poised to smash that record season. So much so that the local teleprompter readers have not been able to ignore it, the way they’ve ignored the rest of Mayor Gomer’s record. Indianapolis’ murder rate per 100,000 residents is now higher than Chicago’s.

It was my Poor Wife who’s pointed this out to me, my own memory being what scientists call “shitty”: during 2006 the climb to the new Homicide record was followed like the progress of a moon landing. Every station had a Homicide Graphic to go along with the daily count, which was announced, well, at least daily.

Today record-keeping has gotten a little sloppy. There’s no denying the problem, not when they’re finding multiple murders on a daily basis. But the scoreboards have been taken down.

Back then the issue was the city’s deep hole over police and fire pensions. The force was reduced. Democrat-Republican Mayor Bart Petersmythe signed onto a local option tax—set up by the state legislature—to pay down the debt. The proto-Teabag Republicans screamed about tax hikes. Right up to the day their man Gomer was elected. He’s kept it around to pay for other things.

Today the issue is the number of cops on the street; Indianapolis has about 75% of the force suggested for a city its size. The (Democrat-Republican controlled) City-County Council wanted to use $6 million earmarked for streets for a one-year effort to increase the number of new officers. Mayor Gomer vetoed it, and last night the Council failed to override that veto.

Meanwhile, the Gomer Plan, which was to simply shuffle assignments around and hope for some good numbers, gets touted as an actual Plan by the locals. He was on all four networks last night with a plan that would increase the number of Academy recruits in 2016. This was repeatedly referred to, on two channels I saw, as “in a couple years.” We not only need recall elections in this town, we need the right to recall news teams.

• Meanwhile, I got to catch some footage of Lance Armstrong entering some mountain bike race, and thanks so much. This on a channel, one of four, which can’t be bothered to mention that the Tour de France, the major event in what’s left of professional cycling after Juan Pelota, is presently entering its second week.

And I don’t blame them for ignoring it, because Americans who made that goon into a national hero don’t care anymore. But covering Armstrong entering a race somewhere was like breaking the story that a tertiary-syphilitic Al Capone had taken up home brewing.

• Speaking of which, I caught up with a woman on the Trail this morning who was decked out in yellow, and, just as I feared, it was some of that Armstrong “charity” finery. I wanted to ask her if she’d like to swap it for my Aaron Hernandez jersey.

• Last week USAToday ("The Nation's High School Newspaper") asked whether fans would ever forgive cycling for the Armstrong/Strongarm/doping era. They interviewed a couple of team managers who said, essentially, “Of course.” Then Team Sky dropped an entire field of professionals the first day in the mountains, and that social media thing exploded in accusations.

Team Sky got roughed up the following day, all except team leader/sure bet Chris Froome, which caused me not to twitter “I guess they’ve learned how to look like they’re not juiced.” So much for the question. If you fucking cheat you’re a fucking cheater. This is why fucking cheaters should be exposed, no matter how much money they have to throw around. Nobody who paid any attention at the time thought that Armstrong (and, yes, much of the rest of the sport) was clean.

• Which just put me in mind of Bashful John McCain, demanding some more of that US unilaterally magical action in every Middle Eastern country save one. Being exposed as a liar doesn’t make you right.

Wednesday, July 3

Your Victory Celebration Was Gauche. The Only Thing That Will Redeem It Is Giving Up.

Kathleen “Pulitzer” Parker, "Wendy Davis shouldn’t be sainted for her filibuster".  July 2

JEEZ Louise, I was gonna stop-and-frisk this thing, then I realized that this  was quicker and more effective:
The abortion conundrum is further complicated by the dishonesty of our terminology. Simplistic phrases such as “pro-life” and “pro-choice” distort the complexity of how most people feel.

Parker takes 623 words to get there. Here are fifteen of them:

• "a woman’s right to destroy an unborn child"

• "flaxen-haired damsel"

• "Pro-abortion rights folks"

Nope, no complications there.
One may wish to leave unfettered a woman’s right to do anything to herself, even if it means destroying her own offspring, but shouldn’t one be at least somewhat discomfited? 
Instead, we celebrate.
This bit of disingenuousness is forty years old, and for forty years it’s been recognized as disingenuous, but Kathleen Parker thinks it might work if we try it again.

C’mon, it looks like a baby. C’mon, compromise. You can trust us. Look at me. I mean, I’m willing to compromise on gun control. It’s just that that wouldn’t work.