Of Government and 2nd Graders

Wow.  I just got back from talking about “the government” to David's 2nd grade class.  What an amazing experience.  Virtually all the kids were very engaged and desperately attempting to answer my questions and get their many questions and comments answered.  Americans may be apathetic about the government, but this was certainly not the case in 2nd grade.  What happens to these kids?  Why, when 95% of these 2nd graders were desperate to say virtually anything in front of my classmates do I have classes of 18-22 year-olds where more than half the class seems literally afraid to speak?  Why when these kids seem so interested in and excited about the government do college kids (and most adults) have such apathy about government and politics?  I don't have much thought on the first question (though, it is a great sociological question).  On the second, I wonder how much the media's incredibly inane, game-obsessed, form of political coverage turns people off who might actually still be paying attention of more political coverage actually talked about stuff that matters.  In my 40 minutes today, I talked about federalism, the many policies that actually affect their (all of our) lives, and things like freedom and liberty.  If we got a little more of that and a little less what somebody spent on their haircut or the tactical implications of somebody's speech, I wonder if things would be better. 

Mitt’s Rough Draft

Thanks to Ezra Klein (now blogging at The American Prospect), I came across this tremendously hilarious parody of Mitt Romney's comments on a draft of his big religion speech last week (from the Weekly Standard, no less).  Do take a look.

I also must mention that I especially loved the part about Pentecostals, as I was actually listening to some serious banjo-playing bluegrass music while I read this. 

Democrats and Torture

On one level I've known that Democrats in Congress are almost as responsible for enabling Bush's authoritarian crusade as are Republicans, yet its still very distressing to read story's like this in Sunday's Post:

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA
program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism
suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group,
which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention
sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make
their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was
waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as
torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill.
But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two
lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials
said.

As for any defense of the complicit Democrats, Glenn Greenwald takes them apart well here.  My favorite part:

Why would they even bother to go to the briefings if they tell
themselves ahead of time: “even if intelligence officials confess to
serial, deliberate lawbreaking and vow to continue breaking the law,
there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, because I'm sworn to
secrecy”? That's absurd. Their obligation to maintain the secrecy of
classified information applies to proper and legal
intelligence activities. They're not only able, but duty-bound, to act
to impede patent lawbreaking (such as torture). That's the whole
purpose of “oversight.”

I've been watching Rescue Dawn (half way through; so far, so good) and as I'm watching the appalling scenes of American POW's being tortured in Vietnam, I was literally thinking about how barbaric it was and that I'm so glad I live in a country where expect better out of people.  Unfortunately, not enough of the people that matter feel the same way.

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