FREE SPEECH: 101

As you may or may not know, I made a documentary film entitled THIS DIVIDED STATE. The film chronicles Michael Moore's controversial visit to Utah Valley State College 2 weeks before the 2004 presidential election. Protests, bribery, and death threats descended upon the school in a fanatical effort to cancel Moore's speech.

One of the key players of the documentary was Joe Vogel. Joe was the Student Body Vice President and was ultimately responsible for inviting Michael Moore. In the end, Joe was forced to resign from his office and lost a scholarship because of his involvement in the Moore fiasco. As facts began to emerge about Joe's resignation, it became clear that it was because of a "tell all" book that Joe was writing that caused many people in the college administration and Utah legislator to get extremely angry at Joe. They asked Joe to "vow on oath of silence" about the book. Joe said "no". They said, "You must resign".

You see, Joe had been present in many secret meetings and had heard first hand the corruption that lied under the surface of the quiet Utah town of Orem. Now, that book, full of explosive facts and extremely frightening accounts is hitting book shelves nationwide. Joe has called it FREE SPEECH 101. And he's naming names and pulling no punches.

Not only does it talk about the Moore controversy, but expounds on the growing trend of colleges and universities becoming corporations owned and controlled by those with money, power, and agendas. A very important book...

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Al "Grandpa" Lewis dies at a reported 95

Al Lewis, who played Grandpa on the comedy series the Munsters, has passed away at the age of 95, although CNN says he was only 82. Lewis became well known for playing officer Leo Schanuzer on Car 54 where are you, but he was best known for playing the goofy, wise cracking Granpa on the Munsters. In 1988, he decided to run for Governor of New York for the Green party. He garnered over 52,000 votes. Lewis was in failing health over the past 5 years, and according to his publicist, died peacefully in his home, surrounded by family members.

Did Bob Gammage Vote Against Wiretapping Warrants?

Did Bob Gammage, a candidate for Texas governor, vote to give any president the unfettered authority to invade innocent citizen's privacy? Did Bob Gammage vote against the original FISA bill? In conference no less? Did he vote against fundamental constitutional checks and balances? A document indicated he did all the above and the rest of the story can be found at The Agonist.

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Arizona's English Language Learners

In Arizona, Governor Janet Napolitano (D) has been engaged in a long-running and hotly-contested battle with the Republican-led State Legislature over funding for teaching English to Spanish-speaking youngsters attending our public schools.  Of course, this battle goes back many years, and has been all about a federal lawsuit in which the judge found for the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest and which brought the lawsuit forward.  This legal case is known as Flores v. Arizona.

However, national right wing ideology intruded into the state's politics in the 1980's in which the Republican Party was determined to eliminate our public school education and to be replaced with an undefined private school systemic.  This view was well-articulated by the former Secretary of Education, Bill Bennett and of course, President Reagan was a firm believer in this nonsense.  

In Arizona in the late 1980's, this Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest the State of Arizona to task for its lack of a Constitutional behavior for adequately funding its public schools, and the federal courts ruled in favor of this public interest law firm.  As such, the State Legislature was forced to go back to square one and to create and implement a mechanism in which equalization was eventually achieved between the poor and rich school districts for delivering quality education.  But to even more surprise for the Republican-led Legislature, the Federal Court Judge in Tucson ruled that equalization must be achieved as well, relative to English Language Learners.

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Small Government: When 307,999,999 People Can’t Agree

A funny thing is happening on the way to the ballot box. Voters of all stripes decry the excesses of big government. The reflexive complaint from both ends of the political spectrum, although voiced most loudly by conservatives and tea drinkers, is that big government is inherently bad, a foregone conclusion needing no evidence for proof. It’s a lot like religion that way. “I believe in God, so therefore there must be a God.” “I believe big government is evil, so therefore it must be true.”

It’s curious that the louder the screams about government size, the fewer practical suggestions the screamers give regarding how to make it smaller. There’s the all or nothing crowd – the government shouldn’t do anything but maintain an army. Or, the “limited” governmental types who want to lop off entire government departments, like the Department of Education, Federal Reserve, or Department of Homeland (In)Security. But, there’s precious little in the way of a platform to explain how we’ll reach this government nirvana.

Saying No is Fun
You might expect voters wouldn’t clamor for details. After all, it’s great fun to go watch Glenn Beck scream political science screeds or wave protest signs or accuse people of being anti-Christ socialists. It’s also great to campaign and hear the yelps of Grizzly Mommas in full-throated rapture about how wonderful you are. But the day in and day out grind of actually governing or even setting goals … not so much. In other words, the universal Republican “plan” for everything – “NO” – gives voters, candidates, and sitting politicians the chance to be righteous without the responsibilities of righteousness.

Come to think of it, that’s a little like some religious folks too.

There are roughly 308 million citizens in the US. That means there are at least 308 million opinions on how to reduce the government. Farmers kind of like crop subsidies, especially if their name is Farmer ConAgra. Some people are really behind “drill baby, drill”, without the inconvenient fact that without government regulation, a well might one day pop up in their backyard.

“Take that you NIMBY bastards!”

The “local levelites” don’t want an Islamic center in Manhattan, but are unwilling to accept the decisions of the local planning commission. And Reaganites complain, for example that transportation decisions be made on a state-by-state basis. However, they don’t seem to realize that building a road is building a road whether Uncle Sam funds it or your state increases taxes to offset the downsizing of Federal tax dollars. And, the private enterprisers would be the loudest to complain if RoadCo ran the highways and every country lane and freeway in their state started charging tolls.

Immutable Laws of Government
Americans need to understand a few immutable laws of government and human nature. First, nobody wants a bigger government. Second, everybody wants a smaller government so long as it gets smaller at someone else’s expense. Third, everyone wants the government to work. And fourth, those elected will become “inside” professional politicians as soon as they take their hand off the swearing-in Bible. They will be in your business for good and ill from then on as a result. This is especially true if you want the government to decide who gets married, who serves in the armed forces, who gets government assistance, and dozens of other meat and potatoes governmental decisions that must be made to support your idea of how smaller government should stay out of your life.

American individualism is a great strength. It’s the engine that drove the idea of American exceptionalism in the last century. But, when individualists forget there’s such a thing as shared goals and common needs that strength becomes a drag on the country.

Especially when you and the other 307,999,999 of us can’t agree on just what small government means.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

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