Friday, October 19, 2012

Nobody wins a debate, but education loses this one


ROMNESIA-- The unique ability to ignore what was said yesterday in order to say what is expedient today.  -- Believed to have first been used by President Obama during a speech Oct. 19, 2012, in Virginia.

Why is it that all the news coverage following a presidential debate involves who won and who lost?  The substance of what's said during the debates is lost among the next-day polls  and the constant blustering about winners and losers and gothcha moments the pundits think is important enough to fill the 24-hour news cycle.

What did they count in the first debate, 38 lies, misrepresentations and position reversals by Mitt Romney, but by every measure the news people tell us he won the debate and because of this received a bump in the omniscient polls.   And the reason he supposedly won was because President Obama took a reserved, more presidential demeanor, rather than get down in the muddy ditch with Romney.

Case in point: One statement Romney made in the first debate has yet to show up in any news story or opinion piece I have seen (if you can tell the difference any more).  He was asked how he would improve education in the United States, a pretty simple question.  As with every other question posed to this charlatan, his answer went to jobs.  I want to create jobs, he said, and with jobs people will have the money so they can move to a neighborhood that has better schools. WHAT????  How wealthy of him to say that.  Get rich with  a Romney-created job and leave your home and neighborhood so your kids can go to a better school.  It was surprising he didn't suggest paying to enter them in private school, like he did.  It is like it is outside his patrone consciousness that most people even when they have a good job slinging hamburgers can't afford or don't want to move to a better school district or send their children to Exeter.  After all, that's what the Romneys do.

And how the hell does students moving from one school district to another improve the education system?  It may give a few individuals a better education and then again maybe not.  First, what happens to the students who can't move?  How do they get a better education that could lift them out of their situation?  There wasn't even a hint of a suggestion how to improve schools for that portion of the population that even with new income can't or don't want to "move on up to a deluxe apartment in the sky."

Second, what would this huge migration of students whose parents now have prosperity with Romney jobs do to the schools in the better districts.  Romney once said school class size doesn't matter, so maybe in his world this isn't even a problem.  But, seriously, what happens when you overload classes in the better districts?  You get just what overcrowding does to schools everywhere else, overworked, stressed teachers; less individual attention to each student; less money to spend for each student; breakdowns in discipline, and an eventual decline in the quality of education.

However that is the partician Romney's plan for improving the education system in America:  Give a guy a job so he can move to a better neighborhood where the schools  are better.  Of course, education also will be better served when Mom is home every day by five to put a hot meal on the table and wash the clothes, too, another Romney program to improve life for the country's great unwashed.

But Romney won the debate according to people who apparently know how to score that sort of thing.  I don't because, you see, I came up in a school district that didn't think it was important to offer debating either as a class or a sport.  No one won either debate.  There was no scoreboard, no inning by inning tally of points,  no statistician, nothing, just impressions of demeanor, attitude, speaking ability, aggression, passivity, and a sort of celebrity-driven culture's image-influenced impressions of victory.

And education lost.  Romney did no put forth one idea that might improve education in this country.  But there is another aspect to his education policy.  Both he and his vice presidential pal Paul Ryan have proposed cuts to education funding as a way to their precious goal of balancing the budget on the backs of a majority of Americans without inconveniencing their rich pals.  And in the background sits their favorite pundit Rush Limbaugh, who voiced the opinion that teachers do not generate wealth, so do not help grow the economy, so by implication they are good targets for budget cutting.

But, Romney won that first debate. It was in all the news outlets, all over the Internet, in the papers, on TV, so it must be true.  Remember the old camera ads with Andre Agassi?  Image is everything?  That is the only way he could have "won."

What's wrong is that it's not important who won or lost.  What's important is the substance of what's said, the opportunity for the general public to hear where the candidates stand on various issues, an opportunity for the public to see the differences between candidates so as to make a more informed decision when they vote.  Waiting until the next day to hear talking heads tell us who won serves nobody.

Actually there is seldom an obvious winner in any traditional sense in a debate like these; mostly winning is in the minds of people who already supported one or the other of the contestants.  However, judging by what we have seen so far, a fairly substantial number of people are losing.

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Interesting quotations

"In the final analysis your life is only as good as the background music you dance to." – that was me

"Whether you think that you can or you think you can't, you are right." – Henry Ford

"You want to feel alive until the day you croak" – Frank Gallagher Shameless

"Smooth is good but sailing takes a brisk wind" – me

"I'm a drinker with writing problems." ~ Brendan Behan

"Religious Freedom is not about stopping persecution; it’s about being the one who gets to do it. Glory!" – Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's best Christian

It doesn't matter what you write, it only matters that you write.

"Give someone a book and they'll read all day. Teach someone to write a book and they'll spend a lifetime mired in paralyzing self doubt." – internet meme

"It's been a long time since I heard my backbone crack – Chuck Berry

“Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.” – JD

"I was the only person up on the hill with both racing numbers and a handicapped placard." – Kitty Delorey Fleischman, a grandmother who occasionally still races her Porsche in hill climbs.

Like most writers, I feel like a reprobate who does not deserve to live on any day that I do not write, but I also feel that four or five hours is enough to earn my stay on the planet for one more day. – anon

"Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool." – Mark Twain

Shit happens; you just come up with a different plan. – Kitty

Your body is not a temple. It's an amusement park. – Anthony Bourdain

Never too late for a happy childhood – Berkley Breathed

A real writer doesn't just want to write, a real writer has to write. – Internet meme

"It was like the aftermath of an orgasm with the wrong partner" – David Lagercrants, "The Girl in the Spider's Web"

The non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

We never comprehend how heavy the things are we insist on carrying until we set them down. jd

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio talk show host

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve