American Elephants


Is America Exceptional? Big Debate in Nebraska. Kids Won. by The Elephant's Child

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Students in Nebraska are getting new standards for social studies curriculum, after weeks of intense debate. The state Board of Education reached agreement on two items of controversy this week: whether to include “American exceptionalism” and how to teach about “climate change,” in the first revision of the curriculum in twenty years.

The words”American exceptionalism” do not appear in the final draft, but the concept does. In the sixth through eighth grade U.S. history standards, one of the “indicators” —indicators of what to teach— is “the unique nature of the creation and organization of the American Government, and the United States as an exceptional nation based upon personal freedom, the inherent nature of citizens’ rights and democratic ideals.”

Climate change  appears in the sixth-through eighth-grade geography standards, but is presented as a theory, not as fact, asking students to evaluate “recent global climate change theories and evidence that supports and refutes such theories.”

Well, that’s about as namby-pamby as you can get, but they are at least on the right track. I think most of us could improve on the phrasing, and clarify the thought.

Lefty rag Mother Jones is horrified. The headline is  “Nebraska Kids to Learn America is Awesome, Climate Change is Just a Theory.” Well, the climate is always changing, just as it always has. And there has been no warming for sixteen years, but “theory” is maybe a little strong. The story by Kate Sheppard is straightforward, but the comments are quite clear that only knuckle-dragging Christian fundamentalists could believe such nonsense.

Those who deny American exceptionalism demonstrate only their ignorance of American history, or their having been swayed by the prop0aganda of Howard Zinn’s dreadful A People’s History of the United States, which is actually assigned in many school districts across the country, to our shame.



You Can Keep Trying to Blame Bush, But the Truth Will Out. by The Elephant's Child

The ironymeter just overheated and burst. According to the invaluable Byron York, eighteen Democrat U.S. Senators have asked to delay the Obamacare medical device tax because raising taxes on manufacturers will cost jobs. Oh ho ho.

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President Obama has admitted — in detailed print with his signature — that the Bush tax cuts worked.

The 2012 Economic Report of the President —the official government document on the economy published by the Obama Administration and signed personally by Obama himself, admits the Bush tax cuts caused government revenue to go up not down. So the President knows perfectly well that all his “tax the rich” rhetoric, his claims are factually untrue:

“We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do very well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.

Some, however, still advocate going back to the same economic policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years.”

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“So when you put it all together, what you need is a package that keeps taxes where they are for middle-class families; we make some tough spending cuts on things that we don’t need; and then we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a slightly higher tax rate. And that’s a principle I won’t compromise on, because I’m not going to have a situation where the wealthiest among us, including folks like me, get to keep all our tax breaks, and then we’re asking students to pay higher student loans. Or suddenly, a school doesn’t have schoolbooks because the school district couldn’t afford it. Or some family that has a disabled kid isn’t getting the help that they need through Medicaid.”

This was yesterday at the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant in Redford, MI.  If taxes are not increased on the wealthy, schools will suddenly be unable to afford schoolbooks (paid for with local taxes) disabled children will be denied Medicaid. (Obama was perfectly happy to cut $110 billion from Medicaid during the fiscal cliff negotiations of 2011.

The federal debt is more than $16.3 trillion and it increases on average by nearly $4 billion every single day. If Obama taxed 100% of the income of the wealthiest, it would pay for about 8 to 10 days of government spending.  Nothing left over for the kids’ schoolbooks. You will notice that Obama variously needs that extra money because it’s “fair,” to lower the deficit, to have a new stimulus for the economy, help the disabled, end the war, and buy those schoolbooks. It’s only politics, and fairly clumsy politics at that.




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