Prop 8: How Mormons See It (Wrong!)

Religion sucks. Mormons suck more than most. And look how they write the date? So European!

7 November 2008

The Church issued the following statement today:

It is disturbing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election.

Members of the Church in California and millions of others from every faith, ethnicity and political affiliation who voted for Proposition 8 exercised the most sacrosanct and individual rights in the United States — that of free expression and voting.

While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process.

Once again, we call on those involved in the debate over same-sex marriage to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other. No one on either side of the question should be vilified, harassed or subject to erroneous information.
Um, fuck you. Here is a little more...
Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the Church were and are simply wrong. The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians. Even more, the Church does not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.
And fuck them a little more. They don't condone hostility? Riiiight. Why do we allow religious institutions to fund anything public? They should not be allowed. Religion Poisons Everything. I can't wait for Prop 8 to get shot down. And for anyone who thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman, what do you suggest I tell my students with 2 moms or 2 dads? Wait, I know, Fuck You.

Update: I was going back and reflecting on students I have had in my class who come from families with same-sex parents. Just the last 2 years (yes, I have had many students from same-sex families), these kids have been far above--far, far, far above--average in terms of academic ability, social consciousness, and societal awareness. They show empathy, a desire to learn, decorum, consideration, and kindness. They are humble, helpful, and a friend to those who need one. They are also clearly the result, at least in part (in large part, IMHO), of their same-sex parents. They are, in short, our future. The future looks bright, don't it?

Update II: It'll be a good day when I can just type the word parents.

Update III: About the last sentence in the second LDS blockquote--"blah blah constitutional rights of churches"--how long do they think those rights will last? Maybe they better play ball and stay the fuck out of peoples personal lives and the country's elections!

Public School And Special Needs Students

Do you have a child with special needs? If you do, you may want to think about how your child will be served in a public school setting. Here are the caveats:

First, public schools (in California at least) were mandated by law to serve these kids. Not that passing the law was a bad idea, but abiding it is not easy. Remember Prohibition?

Second, depending on the severity of your child's needs, they are likely to be considered an item in a schedule rather than a child. See, when figuring out how to share resources, schools look at severity. If your child has a physical limitation, they are likely to get an aid, because a physical limitation is easy to see, easy to deal with, and easy to show compliance. But, if your child has a different issue, like, say, mild autism (they can communicate, serve themselves food, be sweet) they will likely be ignored, or passed from one aid to another (not the aid's fault). Resource teachers who coordinate aid schedules are under the gun, short-staffed, and often spread a bit thin. That's no excuse, however, for the shortfalls.

Third, money is scant, and that makes many of the problems intractable.

Fourth, when schools are charged with serving a student with certain issues, paperwork and meetings are mandatory. They are required for compliance. Rarely are the meetings to help the child--they are CYA sessions for the administrators and specialists (often to the specialist's chagrin). Teachers are given short shrift at these meetings, even though WE are the ones who will have 99% of the responsibility for your child, and we will get 99% of the credit, or blame, for any outcome regardless the percentage of responsibility the resource folks SHOULD have.

Now, I am not saying that you should not consider public school for your child with special needs. If you are available to be there to be your child's aid, things should be okay. But, if you are like most parents, and have a job, you won't be able to do that. And considering the shuiffling around of your child from one specialist to another, or from one aid to another, or from one situation with a grownup who doesn't know your child to another, your child will not get what s/he deserves. Okay, maybe I am saying you shouldn't consider public school for your child.

This issue looms very large in society, and again, schools have been given the mandate to deal with it. We can't. It's that simple.

Advocate for your child. Make your demands to the PRINCIPAL, and require the principal follow-up with you. The teacher has little to say about how your child will be served. Most teachers are heartbroken by their special-needs kids because we see them flounder and there is so little we can do for them. We do all we can while not ignoring the other 20 kids in our class.

The next time you have an IEP (or whatever letters your district uses to call these mettings) bring a picture of your child. Lay that picture on the table and remind everyone why you all are there. When they decide to read you their report(s), you know, the one(s) they just gave you a copy of, remind them you can read, and you would rather have gotten the report prior to the meeting so when you were at the meeting you could discuss the report, not have it reported!

Come prepared with questions; who is with my child at lunch; who is with my child on the yard; do these people change willy-nilly, or is there a schedule; who is in charge of documenting progress or lack of it; what are my rights; what is the reality; why isn't the classroom teacher in this meeting; why is the principal talking--she doesn't know my kid; how will this meeting help; who will this meeting help; does my kid eat his lunch; where is he right now; why do you sound like a robot; why is the resource room always empty and the resource teacher on lunch duty; you get the picture.

I hope this was helpful, enlightening, and pisses you off!

Update: An enlightening anecdote here.

All Day Long I'd Bitty-Bitty Bum....

h/t BT

Very Cool Election Maps

Strange Maps has a link to some cool election maps, skewed to show actual prominence by state, county, electoral college, and more. I love this stuff! Here is Obamaland by county:

Education Change?

KDeRosa is dubious about education change under Obama. This is not an uncommon view. It's strange that such hope can be so easily halted just by knowing that the education industry is a complete mess, and not even our dream President-elect can do much about it. I am afraid I agree with the post from D-Ed Reckoning:

I've come back from my unannounced hiatus to discover that we have a brand new president.

A president that is for change. And, apparently, hope as well.

I "hope" that none of you wasted any time reading either candidate's platform. What politicians say they are going to do is very different from what they actually do once you've given them power. But you can rest assured that once elected their actions they will be consistent with them accruing power and ensuring that they retain power by getting re-elected. Keep that in mind because what you've just been promised (by both candidates) is inconsistent with their desire for power. Suffice it to say that you will be disappointed, and you would have been disappointed regardless of who was elected. That is the nature of politics.

Here is my prediction for education:

There will be change. That change will be superficial with respect to improving academic performance. It is extremely difficult to improve academic performance. The odds of academic performance improving in the next eight years in an educationally significant way are virtually nil.

It is easier to reduce academic performance by unwittingly changing things for the worse. This is because educating children is a difficult orchestration of detail that is difficult to get right and easy to screw-up. This remains true even though our current system remains horridly inefficient with much of the orchestration being badly out of tune.

Nonetheless the most likely scenario is that the change will produce no significant effect on outcomes. That is the history of education reform.

I wish my new president well but I don't have much hope that he is capable of improving education. He doesn't know how. And, as a result, he has no basis for selecting an education secretary that knows any better. Even an ideologically blind random selection is unlikely to produce better results because the field is replete with charlatans. Even if he were lucky enough to pick a winner, it is unlikely that that person could overcome the obstacles and vested interests in place that are anathema to improving academic performance.

We're going to get change. We always do. NCLB was change. But change doesn't guarantee improvement. Did you jump to that conclusion? I hope not. What you will get is something different, but that difference will likely not be an improvement.

There will be no shortage of wishful thinking and opinions of advisors. But since those opinions are almost certainly based on faulty science and informed by political correctness you should not necessarily expect beneficial results. Unless you're counting on luck. That's always a possibility. Even broken clocks are correct twice a day. Though, unfortunately, a clock that is five minutes slow is never correct.

That's what you're going to get -- an education secretary that is slow, broken, or both. Kind of like the current one.

So here's my prediction: the change you get in education will be different but not an improvement.

Let's hope that I am wrong. But don't count on it.


Rahmbo Is Chief Of Staff

Rahm Emanuel was a soldier in the Israeli army; that's how he lost that fingertip. He is considered one of the toughest and smartest. I think it's the smart that Obama wants. And apparently he has a dirty mouth. Fuckin' A!

Teachers And Time

Eduwonk has an interesting piece up. What happens if you are late to work, or miss work all together? Do 20 children get left alone with no supervision? Well, for a teacher, that's what often happens. This is a problem.
Time Off!

Well, a lot of teachers got Tuesday off as schools are increasingly closing on election day to make it easier to operate as polling places. But, as Ed Week reports here and here, teacher absenteeism is a larger issue than that. I get the idea that different policies can influence consumption of sick leave and so forth and those are issues worth considering. Still, aren’t there larger issue here?

Teachers get very frustrated that they end up spending their Saturdays doing the things that other workers get to do during the week. They can’t take lunches with friends for 9 or 10 months of the year. It’s hard to take a morning, or an afternoon, for personal issue. And even trips to the doctor become a logistical hassle.

Of course, when you’re thinking about schools there is a basic custodial function that matters. At a lot of jobs if you show up late it’s not that big of a deal. If you’re a first-grade teacher, it’s a big deal…

Yet shouldn’t we be having a bigger conversation about how to organize schools so that teachers have more discretionary time both for personal issues but also to collaborate together and so forth around the work? We could address some lifestyle issues that matter while also addressing the larger absenteeism issue through creative use of schedules and other ideas in that vein. Someone has to be with the kids at all times, but we can be a lot more creative about who that person is in a way that makes schools a more attractive place to work for the key members of our labor force — teachers. One school I’m aware of uses a concierge to help teachers with basic life maintenance issues to free up their time. Sounds gratuitous but is actually a really smart way to look after your people and one that is not uncommon in some other fields. Other places are experimenting with schedules.

Coupled with sensible policies on leave seems we need a lot more ideas in that spirit.
My district does not take off election day. But I think it is a great idea. In fact, why not make election day a federal holiday (except for the poll workers, the press, and the other essentials)?

Day One

For rory; the ultimate construction paper project.

Robert Gibbs: Press Secretary-Elect

Remember this guy? He's the one that ripped Sean Hannity a new one in front of everybody. Well, he will be the press secretary for Obama. Yummy!



h/t Sully

Good News For Prop 8 Opponents?

Kate Kendall, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said 3 million to 4 million ballots remain uncounted statewide.

Yes We Did

From slideshow


Proposition 8 passed here in California. It is just horrible.

Obama ascends. When will we?


Here are the only predictions I'm willing to make:
Secretary of Defense: Colin Powell

Secretary of Energy: The Terminator

Secretary of Education: Caroline Kennedy

Chief of Staff: Rahm Emanuel (this one's in the bag; and he's Israeli!)
What are your predictions for these or the rest of the cabinet? I'll check in the morning.

And to all, a very good night.

George Can Now Rest Easy(er)


President -Elect Obama

Congratulations, America.

Update: A couple thoughts from swimming freestyle:
1. If Obama gets above 50.1 percent, it will be the highest percentage for a Democratic nominee since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
2. If Obama surpasses 53.4 percent nationally, he will post the highest popular vote share for any nonincumbent candidate of either party since 1952 -- and if he can somehow push that figure over 55.2 percent, he will be able to boast the highest share for a nonincumbent president since 1932.
3. Unless he finishes second, or somehow the national turnout dips under 125 million (both campaigns expect at least 130 million, with Obama's team projecting a number still higher than that), Obama will receive more votes for president than any candidate in presidential history.
4. Among winning candidates, and presuming record turnout rates by African-Americans and projected performance rates among and expected growth of the Hispanic vote, Obama should win a higher share of nonwhite votes than any major-party candidate (winner or loser) in history.
Update II: Obama's acceptance speech...


6:53, west coast. It's over. Obama won. Plop plop, fizz fizz, Oh what a relief it is!

I Will Not Blog Until Morning

I'm too busy drinking!


Good Night, And Good Luck

On this historic eve, I go to bed to try to sleep, in California, full of hope, and anxiety. Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, make your country proud.

I remember feeling a little like this in 1992. A little. This is so much more important, in so many ways, for so many reasons.



Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world!


You have to go see the post to which this comment is attached to understand fully how hilarious it is. Though it is hilarious on its own:

There is the obligatory followup, but you go see for yourself. Good stuff. Nothing political. Just makin' fun of art!


Need I say more?

Andrew Sullivan Endorses Obama-Again

The whole, exhaustive, complete, long, terrifying, brilliant thing here. Snippet:
But until this unlikely fellow with the funny ears and strange name and exotic biography emerged on the scene, I had begun to wonder if it was possible at all. I had almost given up hope, and he helped restore it. That is what is stirring out there; and although you are welcome to mock me for it, I remain unashamed. As someone once said, in the unlikely story of America, there is never anything false about hope. Obama, moreover, seems to bring out the best in people, and the calmest, and the sanest. He seems to me to have a blend of Midwestern good sense, an intuitive understanding of the developing world that is as much our future now as theirs', an analyst's mind and a poet's tongue. He is human. He is flawed. He will make mistakes. His passivity and ambiguity are sometimes weaknesses as well as strengths.
Sully, I want to thank you for your tireless work this campaign, and the clarity, suspicion, and honesty with which you wrote these past many months. Good show!

Madelyn Dunham (Barack's Toot): R.I.P.

A very sad day for our next (hopefully) President:
Statement from Barack Obama and Maya Soetoro-Ng on the Death of Their Grandmother

It is with great sadness that we announce that our grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer. She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances. She was proud of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and left this world with the knowledge that her impact on all of us was meaningful and enduring. Our debt to her is beyond measure. Our family wants to thank all of those who sent flowers, cards, well-wishes, and prayers during this difficult time. It brought our grandmother and us great comfort. Our grandmother was a private woman, and we will respect her wish for a small private ceremony to be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make a donation to any worthy organization in search of a cure for cancer.
Update: Okay, now that I've posted it, and sat with it a couple minutes, I realize just how struck I am. I have known loss. More than my share it seems. I am also a very stoic guy and don't emote so much. I have been surfing and reading all that the blogosphere has to say about this loss, and the woman, and the man she raised. I keep wiping tears from my face. She is owed a debt of gratitude for raising Barack to be the kind of man he is, and the kind of man he will be when he is President.

Thank you Mrs. Dunham. If I believed in ghosts, I would hope that you are able to watch the fruit of your labor ascend, and bring us with him.

Mr. Fish Speaks For Me


Teary-Eyed Ghosts

publius at Obsidian Wings has a great post about what this election means to him, and hopefully, to us. I agree. Here is the snippet:
And if Obama is fortunate enough to win on Tuesday, his victory will be a victory for all those people too. Don’t get me wrong – ending slavery and ensuring the vote ain’t small potatoes. It’s not like their historical actions would otherwise have been in vain. But Obama – as talented as he is – comes on the shoulders of these past giants. His presidency is possible because people for the past 200 years believed in holding America to its standards. And in pursuit of that goal, they were willing to fight, and get beaten, and get lynched for the sake of basic equality – an equality we today have the luxury of taking for granted.

And that’s what’s so exciting about a potential Obama inauguration speech. You can literally imagine the area being filled not just with overflowing crowds, but with teary-eyed ghosts too. Generations of them, from Frederick Douglass to Thurgood Marshall to nameless farmers to voting rights activists.

It’s a powerful moment – particularly considering the magnitude of the historical obstacles it faced. Not in vain, those dead.

Prop 8: Terminate It!

Shhhhhhhh! Obama Will Win Big, But Shhhhhhhhh!

Polls by themselves are dubious. The aggregate polls we have all been seeing this election are far less dubious due to the sheer number and consistency. But they seem to be tightening. I say, not really. Here's why:

CELL PHONES. Yes. Cell phones are not included in many polls. Who uses cell phones as their only phone? Young folks. Who are young folks going to be voting for? Obama. None of the polls take this into account (well, some do, and they predict a bigger win for Obama, like I do).

So, when the pollsters call, they are not calling cell phones, they are calling land lines. The polls are simply leaving out a bunch of data. It's not their fault, it's just true.

So, turn off you cell phone, don't answer any pollster's questions, and watch Obama win bigger than you thought, like I predicted a few days ago.

John Dean on Republican Rule: Bad Idea, America!

John "There's a cancer growing on the presidency" Dean is a smart guy. He worked for Nixon, remember (he needed a job)? He says Republican rule hasn't just been bad, it has been, and IS, dangerous.
Occasionally, during the past eight years of writing this column, I have addressed the remarkably dangerous manner in which Republican Party officials rule the nation when they control one or more of the three branches of the federal government. Over the same period, I've also made this argument, even more directly and loudly, in three books on the subject.

In this column, I will be more pointed on this subject than I have ever been, while also repeating a few key facts that I have raised earlier - because Election Day 2008 now provides the only clear remedy for the ills of Republican rule.
You can read the whole thing after expansion...
The Evidence Establishes, without Question, that Republican Rule Is Dangerous: Why It Is High Time to Fix This Situation, For the Good of the Nation
Friday, Oct. 31, 2008

Occasionally, during the past eight years of writing this column, I have addressed the remarkably dangerous manner in which Republican Party officials rule the nation when they control one or more of the three branches of the federal government. Over the same period, I've also made this argument, even more directly and loudly, in three books on the subject.

In this column, I will be more pointed on this subject than I have ever been, while also repeating a few key facts that I have raised earlier - because Election Day 2008 now provides the only clear remedy for the ills of Republican rule.
Click here to find out more!

The Republican Approach to Government: Authoritarian Rule

Republicans rule, rather than govern, when they are in power by imposing their authoritarian conservative philosophy on everyone, as their answer for everything. This works for them because their interest is in power, and in what it can do for those who think as they do. Ruling, of course, must be distinguished from governing, which is a more nuanced process that entails give-and-take and the kind of compromises that are often necessary to find a consensus and solutions that will best serve the interests of all Americans.

Republicans' authoritarian rule can also be characterized by its striking incivility and intolerance toward those who do not view the world as Republicans do. Their insufferable attitude is not dangerous in itself, but it is employed to accomplish what they want, which is to take care of themselves and those who work to keep them in power.

Authoritarian conservatives are primarily anti-government, except where they believe the government can be useful to impose moral or social order (for example, with respect to matters like abortion, prayer in schools, or prohibiting sexually-explicit information from public view). Similarly, Republicans' limited-government attitude does not apply regarding national security, where they feel there can never be too much government activity - nor are the rights and liberties of individuals respected when national security is involved. Authoritarian Republicans do oppose the government interfering with markets and the economy, however - and generally oppose the government's doing anything to help anyone they feel should be able to help themselves.

In my book Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches, I set forth the facts regarding the consequences of the Republicans' controlling government for too many years. No Republican - nor anyone else, for that matter - has refuted these facts, and for good reason: They are irrefutable.

The McCain/Palin Ticket Perfectly Fits the Authoritarian Conservative Mold

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican candidates, have shown themselves to be unapologetic and archetypical authoritarian conservatives. Indeed, their campaign has warmed the hearts of fellow authoritarians, who applaud them for their negativity, nastiness, and dishonest ploys and only criticize them for not offering more of the same.

The McCain/Palin campaign has assumed a typical authoritarian posture: The candidates provide no true, specific proposals to address America's needs. Rather, they simply ask voters to "trust us" and suggest that their opponents - Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden - are not "real Americans" like McCain, Palin, and the voters they are seeking to court. Accordingly, McCain and Plain have called Obama "a socialist," "a redistributionist," "a Marxist," and "a communist" - without a shred of evidence to support their name-calling, for these terms are pejorative, rather than in any manner descriptive. This is the way authoritarian leaders operate.

In my book Conservatives Without Conscience, I set forth the traits of authoritarian leaders and followers, which have been distilled from a half-century of empirical research, during which thousands of people have voluntarily been interviewed by social scientists. The touch points in these somewhat-overlapping lists of character traits provide a clear picture of the characters of both John McCain and Sarah Palin.

McCain, especially, fits perfectly as an authoritarian leader. Such leaders possess most, if not all, of these traits:

* dominating
* opposes equality
* desirous of personal power
* amoral
* intimidating and bullying
* faintly hedonistic
* vengeful
* pitiless
* exploitive
* manipulative
* dishonest
* cheats to win
* highly prejudiced (racist, sexist, homophobic
* mean-spirited
* militant
* nationalistic
* tells others what they want to hear
* takes advantage of "suckers"
* specializes in creating false images to sell self
* may or may not be religious
* usually politically and economically conservative/Republican

Incidentally, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney also can be described by these well-defined and typical traits - which is why a McCain presidency is likely to be nearly identical to a Bush presidency.

Clearly, Sarah Palin also has some qualities typical of authoritarian leaders, not to mention almost all of the traits found among authoritarian followers. Specifically, such followers can be described as follows:

* submissive to authority
* aggressive on behalf of authority
* highly conventional in their behavior
* highly religious
* possessing moderate to little education
* trusting of untrustworthy authorities
* prejudiced (particularly against homosexuals and followers of religions other than their own)
* mean-spirited
* narrow-minded
* intolerant
* bullying
* zealous
* dogmatic
* uncritical toward chosen authority
* hypocritical
* inconsistent and contradictory
* prone to panic easily
* highly self-righteous
* moralistic
* strict disciplinarians
* severely punitive
* demanding loyalty and returning it
* possessing little self-awareness
* usually politically and economically conservative/Republican

The leading authority on right-wing authoritarianism, a man who devoted his career to developing hard empirical data about these people and their beliefs, is Robert Altemeyer. Altemeyer, a social scientist based in Canada, flushed out these typical character traits in decades of testing.

Altemeyer believes about 25 percent of the adult population in the United States is solidly authoritarian (with that group mostly composed of followers, and a small percentage of potential leaders). It is in these ranks of some 70 million that we find the core of the McCain/Palin supporters. They are people who are, in Altemeyer's words, are "so self-righteous, so ill-informed, and so dogmatic that nothing you can say or do will change their minds."

The Problem with Electing Authoritarian Conservatives

What is wrong with being an authoritarian conservative? Well, if you want to take the country where they do, nothing. "They would march America into a dictatorship and probably feel that things had improved as a result," Altemeyer told me. "The problem is that these authoritarian followers are much more active than the rest of the country. They have the mentality of 'old-time religion' on a crusade, and they generously give money, time and effort to the cause. They proselytize; they lick stamps; they put pressure on loved ones; and they revel in being loyal to a cohesive group of like thinkers. And they are so submissive to their leaders that they will believe and do virtually anything they are told. They are not going to let up and they are not going to go away."

I would nominate McCain's "Joe the Plumber" as a new poster-boy of the authoritarian followers. He is a believer, and he has signed on. On November 4, 2008, we will learn how many more Americans will join the ranks of the authoritarians.

Frankly, the fact that the pre-election polls are close - after eight years of authoritarian leadership from Bush and Cheney, and given its disastrous results - shows that many Americans either do not realize where a McCain/Palin presidency might take us, or they are happy to go there. Frankly, it scares the hell out of me, for there is only one way to deal with these conservative zealots: Keep them out of power.

This election should be a slam dunk for Barack Obama, who has run a masterful campaign. It was no small undertaking winning the nomination from Hillary Clinton, and in doing so, he has shown without any doubt (in my mind anyway) that he is not only qualified to be president, but that he might be a once-in-a-lifetime leader who can forever change the nation and the world for the better.

If Obama is rejected on November 4th for another authoritarian conservative like McCain, I must ask if Americans are sufficiently intelligent to competently govern themselves. I can understand authoritarian conservatives voting for McCain, for they know no better. It is well-understood that most everyone votes with his or her heart, not his or her head. Polls show that 81 percent of Americans "feel" (in their hearts and their heads) that our country is going the wrong way. How could anyone with such thoughts and feelings vote for more authoritarian conservatism, which has done so much to take the nation in the wrong direction?

We will all find out on (or about) November 5th.

Sunday Cartoon Fun

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