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Archive for April 4th, 2007

Writing in the Washington Post, Peter Baker reports:

“He strode alone into the Rose Garden and complained that “it has now
been 57 days” since he asked Congress for more money for the Iraq war
and still has not gotten it. For President Bush, the fight over
war-spending legislation has become the only talking point — an
opportunity, his strategists hope, to demonstrate strength and turn the
tables on a Democratic Congress that may be overreaching.”


What, he thinks he just snaps his fingers and the Democratic Congress just wilts and complies? No, Georgie. In Civics 101 you should have learned about the Constitution of the United States, a document that established 3 co-equal branches of government each with a check on the other in order to maintain a pragmatic balance. But, gosh you must have been soused during those lectures. You have had no checks on your rule in the White House until now. But, oh my, get used to it for the remainder of your time in office.

Rather than asking for more money, perhaps you should begin to think about how you can work to restore balance in the Middle East so that it doesn’t erupt into the melting point for WWIII. But, that one will be on your hands as well. Perhaps you should join forces with Nancy Pelosi as she seeks to be a peacemaker rather than a mad bomber, as she tries to restore confidence in the reputation of America that you have ruined. But, you are do arrogant that I suspect that will never happen.

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Study gives teachers barely passing grade in classroom


The findings, published today in the weekly magazine Science, take teachers to task for spending too much time on basic reading and math skills and not enough on problem-solving, reasoning, science and social studies. They also suggest that U.S. education focuses too much on teacher qualifications and not enough on teachers being engaging and supportive. (emphasis added)

Why would such a conclusion surprise anyone? Given the constraints of NCLB and the emphasis on basic skills as the fundamental outcome of the entire process of education, is it any wonder that teachers spend far too much time on basic reading and math skills and not enough time on the stuff that actually matters to educated people? I am not surprised at all. What I am scandalized about, however, is that the research team led by Robert Pianta of the University of Virginia doesn’t address the core of the problem–NCLB as bad school policy. Rather, the research team lead by Pianta choose to engage in teacher bashing because teachers are an easy target. Better the National Institutes of Health, the funders of the study, should look at the underlying cause for schools reducing curriculum to only the basic skills that are tested. But, why kid myself. The NIH is a federal agency under the ultimate control of the Bush Administration; heaven only knows this group couldn’t stand for NCLB to look bad. Denial, Mr. President, ain’t just a river in Africa. Time to come out of the shadows and into the light and see that the emperor really has no clothes.

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Pelosi Brings Peace Message to Assad

The Chicago Tribune reports:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held talks with Syria’s leader Wednesday despite White House objections, saying she pressed President Bashar Assad over his country’s support for militant groups and passed him a peace message from Israel.

Place this along side the Bush remarks that insisted that sending delegations to Syria simply doesn’t work. So here is a question for you. Is it sending delegations that doesn’t work or is it that Assad and any other sane leader in the world knows that talking to Bush is something like talking to a wall. In Bush’s words..You’re either with us or against us. For Bush there is not now nor has there ever been a middle ground. There is no respect paid to cultures outside our own. The insensitivity of Bush and his neocon cronies is barbaric.

Now who the heck knows if Pelosi’s visit to Assad will be productive. In fact, that will be left to time, to the Syrians and the Israelis and other players in the Middle East. But the fact remains that refusal to engage in discourse, in dialog with the other is the surest way to not make any progress at all.

As the isolation of Syria begins to crumble, no thanks to Bush, the hopes for peace in the Middle East are raised. I applaud Pelosi’s courageous stance as she begins to open doors that Bush has kept closed and locked for the past six years.

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The paradox of sovereignty consists in the fact that the sovereign is, at the same time, outside and inside the juridical order.
Giorgio Agamben (1998)

In Agamben’s view, the sovereign has the implicit power to declare himself outside the law, to create an exception which cannot be subsumed by any other. In the United States, this creation of the exception is often couched in the language of “executive privilege” upon which Richard M. Nixon so heavily relied. The President of the United States, in whomever that office resides, has made a living drawing upon executive privilege. From Ford, to Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush, the claims of executive privilege distance the office of the president from the people the president is elected (or in the case of George W. Bush–SELECTED) to serve. Democrat, Republican who cares. The office itself carries with it an overwhelming need or desire to create a state of exception; of being at once outside and inside the law.

In the case of the present Bush White House, domestically that exceptionality has reached a boiling point surrounding the actions of Attorney General Gonzalez as he acted on behalf of the President. The White House demanded that in the Patriot Act, the President, through his AG, shall have the right to hire and fire and or replace federal prosecutors without the advice and consent of the Senate. In a Republican dominated Congress, one that did little, if any, oversight as was their duty as a fully authorized and equal constitutional branch of government along side the executive, the Patriot Act passed and was signed into law. The Patriot Act, by the way, creates many new areas of exceptionality but I’ll save those for later posts. The specific flap that concerns me here is that the AG chose to exercise the exceptional authority granted him as an agent of the President and allegedly fired a number of prosecutors for purely political reasons.

The White House had, but has since lost, the opportunity to step away from the problem by simply admitting to the problem and moving to rectify the situation. Bush, in this sense, is not unlike any of his predecessors. He chose to hunker down, to create a state of exception that places him simultaneously outside and inside the law. In the case of this sovereign, and much like Nixon, the state of exception is designed to protect his friends, foremost among them being AG Gonzalez. So Bush, taking his lead from Nixon (who, in the end, was not so successful in his defense of his friends), is declaring that he and his administration is both outside the law and is standing firmly within that law–after all, the AG acted in compliance with the Patriot Act, didn’t he?

The good news is there are less than two-years to go. Of course the bad news is that Bush’s replacement, whether Democrat or Republican, will necessarily fall into the same trap. It seems to be part of the territory of office.

References

Agamben, G. (1998). Homo Sacer: Sovereign power and bare life (D. Heller-Roazen, Trans.). Sanford, CA: Sanford University Press.

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