Thursday, April 29, 2010

White House Takes Bigger Role in Spill in the Oil Spill Cleanup

Why? Did they make the mess? Will they charge BP for services?

We Don't Need the Wildcatter Suites, Casper Oilman Mr. John Martin

E-mails show UW faced pressure

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LARAMIE -- The University of Wyoming received dozens of e-mails threatening to withhold funding from the university in the days before the March 31 cancellation of Bill Ayers’ appearance at the school, a study of UW e-mails shows.

The e-mails were obtained by the Star-Tribune on Wednesday following a public records request. Also included in the release of documents by the university were e-mails between UW officials regarding the Ayers controversy. While many e-mails addressed loss of financial and other support as a result of the planned visit, few made mention of campus security concerns.

UW Social Justice Research Center director Francisco Rios e-mailed UW Provost Myron Allen on March 28 to say that he was troubled at the outcry against the planned SJRC-sponsored visit by Ayers, who was to talk about education issues April 5-6.

However, "I still believe his visit is important to the UW, challenging as it may be," Rios wrote. "His current work is exemplary and is on target for what I and the Center have come to believe is the meaning and vision of social justice education and research. This is an historic moment for the country, the state, and UW in terms of how these entities respond to his visit."

Still, Rios wrote that he’d withdraw Ayers’ invitation to speak if Allen believed a campus visit by the 1960s radical-turned-academic would "significantly harm" UW or the SJRC. The following day, Rios canceled Ayers’ visit, saying he made the decision on his own without university pressure.

However, UW trustee David Palmerlee wrote in a March 31 e-mail to former UW Board of Trustees President Walter Saunders that "the pressure got to the point that (UW President) Tom (Buchanan) had little choice but to see that the invitation was withdrawn so that the board was not forced to step in."

Palmerlee said Wednesday in a phone interview that he didn’t think Buchanan forced Rios to cancel Ayers’ SJRC invitation. Rios and Buchanan have also steadfastly denied any such pressure.

Ayers ended up speaking at UW on Wednesday, after a group of students and professors invited him back and a federal judge ordered UW to allow Ayers to speak on campus.

During a federal court hearing in Casper on Monday, Buchanan said he decided to ban Ayers from speaking at the UniWyo Sports Complex because of security concerns raised by the "torrent" of "angry, hurtful and venomous" e-mails and calls the university had received. It had nothing to do with threats of withholding donations to UW, he testified.

After news spread of Ayers’ initial planned appearance, university administrators and trustees were bombarded with hundreds of e-mails and phone calls opposing Ayers’ visit. In 1969, Ayers co-founded the Weather Underground, a militant anti-war group that claimed responsibility for nonfatal explosions at the U.S. Capitol and Pentagon. He’s currently an education professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Attorneys for UW entered into the court record a handful of strongly worded e-mails received by UW that they said prompted Buchanan's decision to try to block Wednesday's appearance by Ayers. U.S. District Judge William Downes on Tuesday dismissed those communications from members of the public as "veiled" and "indirect" threats.

The Star-Tribune review of e-mails released by UW show that Gov. Dave Freudenthal was among those who opposed Ayers’ visit.

In a March 29 e-mail to UW administrator Don Richards, Chris Boswell, Freudenthal’s chief of staff, told Buchanan that the governor would "strongly support the UW administration pulling the plug on Ayers, but recognizes that may not be possible."

Boswell said Freudenthal "could even personally call for the rescinding of the invitation" if Buchanan preferred.

Freudenthal’s office drafted a statement stating that the governor believed that inviting Ayers was "a mistake" because "the nature of the messenger overshadows the educational message."

The statement was held after rumors of Rios’ cancellation surfaced. The statement was never released publicly.

After the cancellation, Boswell e-mailed UW trustees, Richards and Buchanan to say, "The governor appreciates the action by the director of the Social Justice Research Center, and commends President Buchanan for his leadership."

Dozens of other e-mails received by university officials threatened to withdraw financial support if Ayers was allowed to speak on campus.

The most significant threat came from John Martin, a wealthy Casper oilman.

In an e-mail to Buchanan and UW spokeswoman Jessica Lowell, University of Wyoming Foundation CEO/President Ben Blaylock said Martin called to say his family was considering "not funding" the final $2 million of War Memorial Stadium’s "Wildcatter Suites" project. With the state matching that money, that would cost UW $4 million.

Martin's wife, Mari Ann, would also resign as a member of the UW Foundation Board, Blaylock said in the e-mail.

"This decision is not in the best interests of our students, the University or the state of Wyoming," the Martins subsequently wrote in a letter to UW, referring to the planned Ayers visit. "It gives recognition to a known terrorist who intentionally attacked our country and believes in the violent overthrow of our government."

The Martins did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.

In the midst of the controversy, Allen himself wrote to reassure his colleagues.

"In my time here, UW has survived speaking engagements by Bobby Seale, Kwame Toure (formerly Stokely Carmichael), Angela Davis, and Noam Chomsky," Allen wrote in an e-mail. "We’ll get through this one."

Contact capital bureau reporter Jeremy Pelzer at (307) 632-1244 or

Star-Tribune reporter Joshua Wolfson contributed to this report.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"fear is not enough to override the First Amendment."

Take that, you treasonous faux patriots!

Thanks, Meg Lanker, David Lane, and particularly Judge William Downes, for upholding our constitution, rather than pandering to the malicious shouts of a bunch of scared Wyoming citizens.

Univeristy of Wyoming and Bill Ayers Update

forthcoming. Decision to be made today.

Meanwhile, in response to the new Arizona law about which Jalan so aptly said yesterday that it is now illegal to be illegal there,

I'm so glad, personally, that now the cops in Arizona will have plenty to do, asking people for papers, and that the crime wave killing spree of good Americans on the border will promptly cease. Whew.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Liar liar

Friday, April 23, 2010

I get the hype!

The strategy of the NFL draft is intriguing. Plus, all those guys up there in their nice suits (or t-shirts, tattoos and giant necklaces), just look so happy when they get picked! They're like little kids talking on the phone, looking like they just opened exactly what they wanted for Christmas.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chill Bear

At our house, we have a candy bear that makes clicky noise, a sweet present my bro and sis-in-law brought from Yellowstone. We put a Miller Chill beer cap on the bear's head, and I call him, alternately, Park Bear or Chill Bear, and frequently tell Catsy to stop knocking the bear off the window sill.

Chill Bear. Last week I became embroiled in a group on FaceBook in which many rude words were exchanged, and at the end of a day of trying to talk reason with the torch-bearing young masses, I was told by one guy that I take life too seriously and that I needed to drink a beer.

Well, the FFM has told me on numerous occasions pretty much the same thing, and I took it to heart and decided to chill.

And today, I am offering the same weight-releasing, mellowing suggestion to the Muslim world, or, to be clearer, at least to those who figure prominently in creating a reason for the warning to Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of one of the ultimate politically incorrect, joking and jabbing cartoons, South Park.

Really, guys, it does feel way better to just chill. I mean, really, what is this insane fear people of all stripes demonstrate so aggressively when someone disagrees with them? Yuck. Crap, who's right? Who's wrong? Who cares? believe what you want, and let the rest of us do the same. Simple!

In fact, if it weren't 8:27 in the morning, I might chill with a beer right now.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baaaaahhh! We are sheep, and shock media is our shepherd.

I have two things to mention today.

First, I have been thinking since yesterday morning when I got to campus and saw the backpacks all over Prexy's Pasture, about suicide and how sad it is that so many people, including young people, get to a point that they feel like there is no reason to live. There were backpacks all over the field out there, for Pack in the Silence (do I have that name correct?), demonstrating the number of college students who kill themselves in this country every year. It was an impressive and very moving sight. We need to think more about why people are so desperate. Not just the social and socio-economic inequities that make people feel hopeless, but the fact that depression is still stigmatized.

So, the next issue just arose. I was on Facebook a couple minutes ago and saw a post from my conservative friend Silvie about having returned from WalMart, where she saw people of all ages who were just huge- obese, and opening up to conversation the fact that we need to take better care of our kids in this country because this just isn't healthy. So, I commented that we harp on Michelle Obama to leave our kids alone, but we don't care for them ourselves.

And I was attacked immediately. This guy Tom jumped to the conclusion that I want "Mama Obama" to take care of my kids instead. Now, how the hell do you come to that conclusion based on my words?

So, I am going to copy for you my response right here because, frankly, I am sick and tired of being attacked from all sides for trying to have reasoned discourse with people. My blood pressure rises, I feel it, and I get anxious every time someone throws some offhand comment without truly hearing what the other person says- without listening.

Here it is, and I dare you to misinterpret because you are a slave to the media shock talkers:

Tom, don't read what you think my lips are saying; read the words: WE DON'T TAKE CARE OF THEM. I don't think someone else should. As I told Sylvie (re: her comment... "unless we help ourselves first,") "WELL SAID." I'm a libertarian, man; I believe firmly it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to take care of our own.

Sorry if I sound grumpy, but honestly, I am getting tired of trying to have a reasonable, thoughtful conversation with people and having them jump to conclusions. The radio and tv shock show hosts are doing too damn good a job getting people all up in arms in this country and we aren't talking and solving problems, just placing blame and making assumptions.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weird Al's Grammar Lesson

I just love this. Thanks, FFM.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dear John Barrasso

Yesterday I got your most recent Barrasso Report. In this you noted that you are going to ask hard questions about the latest START negotiations, that Wyoming holds an important place in nuclear security.

Well, at least some of your constituents, who think about political issues, are wondering why you didn't just come right out and admit the fact that Warren AFB contributes to Wyoming's, and especially Cheyenne's, economy, and that your concern is that if that base is closed down, as the FFM so aptly noted, "Cheyenne would dry up and blow away."

I have friends whose job has been to sit underground for extended periods of time waiting for someone to tell them to push a button. These friends are intelligent citizens of this country and could be better employed within the military.

I would suggest that your concern for the potential closure of Warren AFB continue into asking yourself and the rest of us in this state the hard question of how we can diversify our economy meet such an occasion, rather than whether we ought to advocate continuing a program that is not necessarily useful, on any count.

If your concern truly is American security, it is your duty as a representative to our US Senate to do your homework, so to speak, regarding the nuclear issue. For instance, did you know that no one, aside from the US twice in Japan toward the end of WWII, has detonated a nuclear weapon purposely to kill another nation's people? That is despite the fact that a multitude of country's, many of whom are in disagreement with us on more than one political issue. And did you know that uranium and plutonium have gone missing in various amounts ever since we began our atomic industry? Yet no one has ever used a nuclear weapon against us?

You can begin with these very simple facts and build a case from there. My guess is that if you are to give the US security issue a good solid bit of thought, and apply facts, you will find that more people in this country were killed by airplanes crashing into buildings and American citizens (Timothy McVeigh) using conventional blast weapons to destroy them.

Next time I receive the Barrasso Report, I look forward to that letter containing your thoughtful reaction to facts, rather than political spin designed to engage pure emotional response to a perceived but not necessarily valid threat.

Thank you for your time.

Friday, April 16, 2010

America, the Beautiful... Civilized discourse does still exist!


Vernon Shunn Well I appreciate your civilized approach which is more than I can say for some others on this page. Simply stated though, I have nothing against what Bill Ayers had to SAY, I am more against him as an individual and that actions he was involved with and condoned. I am very for free speech and I believe it to be very important but because of who he is not what he had to say was the main reason for his invitation being revoked. It was also revoked because of all the threats towards him, anyone who attended his speech and so on which is a serious safety issue and I dont feel that nobody's life is worth the risk of Bill Ayers visit here. Even though he invitation was revoked he was still paid the 5,000 some dollars he would have received if he had come and that should have compensated for his troubles. The reason I am against this lawsuit is that is for all the wrong reasons, Meg Lanker claims his first amendment was violated which from a particular standpoint some would agree but because that was not the reason his invitation was revoked this lawsuit is just silly and a waste of time. The university chose to sway to the side of caution and not risk an incident which i feel was the correct decision and does not warrant a lawsuit. I am tired of people assuming that this page is an attack on Meg, it clearly is not, it was created for civilized discussion and opinion sharing to inform everyone that mistakes were made and this lawsuit is only going to do more harm than good. I have been told that Meg did not sue when Cheney was allowed to speak but at the same time lives were not threatened and due to the way politics are in today society he would never be cancelled because he is one of the biggest donator's of funds to this university and that is just a side effect of today's politics. I hope this clears some things up for you, and feel free to ask more questions if there is still something I did not explain.

Lisa Cox Thanks! That is incredibly clear. I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine this morning. Generally we agree politically, and we found ourselves at odds, but the bottom line is that we actually did our homework and had reasons for saying what we did to each other. I was really bummed out to get up this morning, looking forward to discussion, to find that there were all these people using the group as a... I don't know... I just cannot condone aggression like that, any more than I can condone Bill Ayers's violent actions in the 60s (whether or not people were hurt or killed.) It's the violence- and latent violence- that bugs me so much.

Take your point about Cheney: it keeps coming to my mind that it is indeed true that he was not threatened or harmed, despite that there were those who protested his visit. To me, that shows the hope that there are those out there who would hold civilized discourse and use their freedom of speech to protest without aggression in the form of slander, threats or outright physical aggression. On the other hand, BINGO! I think you are right on that the politics of the day dictate who is allowed and who is not, to speak on campus, and that being a reason, as opposed to educational opportunity, for a university administration to make a decision in this instance, is case in point why I have recently sworn off following through with getting a PhD and also have committed that when I am done earning the degree I am working on now, I will not go back into teaching, where I worked for many years.

And, all that said, despite my disagreement with Bill Ayers's past behavior with the Weather Underground, I admire his commitment to researching, forming theory and dispensing information on the injustices in our education system.

I believe I understand you, and I am really appreciative that you have made yourself clear. We can disagree on some aspects of this issue, but more than anything, I'm grateful we can agree on civil discourse rather than knee jerk reaction. The question that has come to my mind over and over around this entire issue, having seen the latter, is "Where does the fear arise that presses people to respond to a situation with such aggression?"

Thanks, and have a good weekend, and I hope that there are more people out there who will speak freely but thoughtfully.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Why do you people persist?

I just have a real problem with this. I am trying not to be mean, but it's hard when our democratic right to free speech is being tromped on by people I'd wager consider themselves patriotic Americans.

And they would be opposed to a man they don't even know personally speaking because they don't like him..? Huh? That was common practice in what elementary school grade? You know, before 9th grade Civics?

New Facebook group (I joined and started a discussion. We'll see if anything aside from fearful blustering diatribe ensues):

Against the lawsuit to sue UW for declining venue to terrorist Bill Ayers!

Against the lawsuit to sue UW for declining venue to terrorist Bill Ayers!
Organisations - Political Organisations
The student body spoke, along with alumni and sponsers of the University of Wyoming to keep terrorist William "Bill" Ayers from speaking on campus. It had very little to do with what he had to say and more to do with him as an individual and his actions! Meg Lanker, you are an idiot and will lose this lawsuit! Meg Lanker, for Bill Ayers and yet was against Dick Cheney coming to the same campus!
Privacy type:
Open: All content is public.

University of Wyoming's Slippery Slope

This is, GORGEOUS.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sarah Palin and Bill Ayers

Let's talk about selfishness today, peeps. First, let me tell you about a Dear Abby letter I read this morning (yes, I did.) "Grinched" was upset that his girlfriend gave the dozen roses he'd bought her for Valentine's Day to a young man in a store who was beside himself because he couldn't afford to buy his own GF roses for the occasion. Yep, this "Grinched" considers his girlfriend's actions "thoughtless and insensitive."

OK, am I so far off base as to not be a good American? Are we all really so selfish as to think when we buy roses for someone they are still our roses and that person should put us up on some pedestal and think of us while staring at the damn roses all day? To my mind, "Grinched" is really "The Grinch," and his girlfriend, who probably would have liked to have looked at those beautiful roses and thought about how nice it was to have them, was thoughtful and sensitive. So, Abby says she can understand the dude felt upset at spending so much money to have the roses go bye-bye, but really, what better use than to brighten someone else's day (two people's) with an occasion they would not normally have been able to enjoy. The way I see it, hellz, four people could have benefitted from the whole situation, but one chose to be angry and pity himself instead. Selfish? I think so.

Let's move on, with that "s" word selfish, to Sarah Palin.

Read this and tell me she isn't:

Look, peeps, I can fully understand the request for two bottles of water and bendy straws for the girl so she can be comfy and give a speech and have her whistle all wetted and not be coughing or rasping or whatever. However, what the hell does she need a giant jet for?

All of you out there who think this woman represents you, if she truly does, you are not repressed, oppressed, downtrodden or anything else, just selfish and myopic, and probably carrying a crapload more money in your wallet and bank account than most Americans- and not because the rest of us are lazy. Can you say "slaves to money and power?"

Or, perhaps, again, I am just a crappy American, as in not a true red white and blue patriotic one.

And now, on to our final subject: Bill Ayers. You know, that "terrorist." Let me be honest and indignant here for a moment. See, the University of Wyoming cancelled a speaking visit by Ayers, and has most recently decided he can not speak on campus even if a student request a venue for him, without the University having to pay a red cent. So, the latest is that Ayers has an attorney who is threatening to sue the University for bludgeoning free speech. On this we can all agree, right? Violation of first amendment rights?

Well, apparently not. There are forces out there, scared people with money and power in this state, who call Ayers a terrorist (much like Selfish Sarah did during Presidential campaign time), and call him out for killing people. I kid you not; the local paper has actually printed letters in which people accuse him of killing people, when the buildings his group bombed (and Ayers himself has said, ya know, maybe that wasn't common sense?) were empty.

Yet these same myopic and terrified (of exactly what, I do not know, and my guess is they don't know themselves because they are too busy blustering in their sheep herd to actually go sit under a tree alone and think about it) people would threaten Bill Ayers's safety?

Why do I simply think this is not OK? I guess, once again, I am a terrible, unpatriotic American. If that's the case, so be it. I'M NOT YOU MEAN-SPIRITED, SCARED AND SUPERFICIAL PEOPLE!

Below is the text of an article on the latest Ayers development in Laramie, from the Billings (MT) Gazette. I thought it appropriate, as this is not just a local- or even regional- issue.

Peeps, this is an important moment: Either we can recognize that these people who claim to be patriotic Americans would violate the constitution and stop them, or we could continue along in our daily little sheep ways and let democracy cave under the political will of those same crushers of democratic values.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Doodeedoodeedoo... We're all in bed together.

I so trust these guys. I mean, just look into their honest eyes. Shifty? ha!

Oops, gotta puke.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Peeps, this is kind of freaking me out. Go to and punch in your name, then voila! See what comes up. These bastards listed me three times in WY, two old addresses as well as my current. And there is a passel of pics on there associated with my name that ARE NOT ME.

You can go into the privacy settings, in teeny tiny letters at the bottom of the screen, and delist yourself, but guess what? The punks want your url, your e-mail address, blah blah blah.

The hellz with the gubmint knowing everything about us; it's pretty creepy when there is just enough info on the internet out there to paint a faulty picture of someone.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Honest to Jesus

Thursday, April 8, 2010

No Place for Education

This is a long one, but please read and share. It's muy importante.

Doublespeak at the University of Wyoming

William Ayers, University of Illinois at Chicago
April 5, 2010 10:13 AM MDT

On March 30, 2010, officials at the University of Wyoming, citing “security threats” and “controversy,” canceled two talks I was invited to give in early April, one a public lecture entitled “Trudge Toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action,” and the other, a talk to faculty and graduate students called “Teaching and Research in the Public Interest: Solidarity and Identity.” I’d been invited in August, 2009, but one week before I was to travel to Laramie, I was told I had been “disinvited.”

In February, as the University began to publicize my scheduled visit, a campaign to rescind the invitation was initiated on right-wing blogs, accelerating quickly to a wider space where a demonizing and dishonest narrative dominated all discussion. A wave of hateful messages and death threats hit the University, and was joined soon enough by a few political leaders and wealthy donors instructing officials in ominous tones to cancel my visit to the campus. On March 28 an administrator wrote to tell me that the University was receiving vicious e-mails and threatening letters, as well as promises of physical disruption were I to show up. This is becoming drearily familiar to me, as I’ll explain.

A particularly despicable note from Frank Smith who lives in Cheyenne and is active in the Wyoming Patriot Alliance, said, “Maybe someone could take him out and show him the Matthew Sheppard (sic) Commerative (sic) Fence and he could bless it or something.” He was referring to Matthew Shepard, the young gay man who was tortured and murdered in 1998, left to die tied to a storm fence outside Laramie.

Republican candidate for Governor Ron Micheli released a letter he’d sent to all members of the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees asking them to rescind the invitation. Matt Mead, another gubernatorial candidate, said through a press release that while he is a self-described “fervent believer in free speech and the free exchange of ideas,” that still allowing me to speak would be “reprehensible.” He concluded that I should have “no place lecturing our students.”

I sympathized with the University, and told the folks I was in touch with how sorry I was that all of this was happening to them. I also said that I thought it was a bit of a tempest in a tea pot, and that it would surely pass. Certainly no matter what a couple of thugs threatened to do, I said, I thought that Wyoming law enforcement could get me to the podium, and I would handle myself from there, as I do elsewhere. I said I thought we should stand together and refuse to accede to these kinds of pressures to demonize someone and suppress students’ right to freely engage in open dialogue. After all a public university is not the personal fiefdom or the political clubhouse of the governor, and donors are not permitted to call the shots when it comes to the content or conduct of academic matters. We should not allow ourselves to collapse in fear if a small mob gathers with torches at the gates. I wouldn’t force myself on the University, of course, but I felt that canceling would be terribly unfair to the faculty and students who had invited me, and would send a big message that bullying works. It would be another step down the slippery slope of giving up on the precious ideal of a free university in a free society.

No good. On March 30, 2010 the University posted an announcement of the cancellation of my visit with a long and rambling comment from President Tom Buchanan. He begins with the obligatory assertion that academic freedom is a core principle of the University, but quickly adds that “freedom requires a commensurate dose of responsibility.” We are charged to enact free speech and thought “in concert with mutual respect.”

Nothing that I did or said in this matter was disrespectful or irresponsible, and yet, in the absence of specific references, readers are led to imagine all kinds of offenses.
The announcement is punctuated with a deep defensiveness: anyone who thinks the University “caved in to external pressure,” Buchanan writes, would be “incorrect.” Anticipating what any casual observer would conclude, he builds a strained and somewhat desperate counter-narrative. Buchanan pleads that UW is “one of the few institutions remaining in today’s environment that garners the confidence of the public,” and that a speech by me would somehow undermine that confidence.

He concludes that “this episode illustrated an opportunity to hear and critically evaluate a variety of ideas thoughtfully, through open, reasoned, and civil debate, it also demonstrates that we must be mindful of the real consequences our actions and decisions have on others.” That’s some sentence, and while it’s impossible to know definitively what he’s referring to as the “episode” (it might be the public lecture itself, but then it could be the cancellation of the lecture, or even the barbarians at the gates threatening to burn the place down, or withhold funds, that would provide the opportunity to critically evaluate matters). It has an unmistakable Orwellian ring: we cancelled that lecture as an expression of our support for lectures! And it’s eerily similar to the classics: We destroyed that village in order to save it! Work will make you free! War is peace!

One of the truly weird qualities of the Buchanan statement is a hole in its center, the deafening silence concerning why the campaign against me was organized in the first place. The reason is familiar to me as noted: in the 1960’s I was a leader of the militant anti-war group, Students for a Democratic Society, and then a founder of the Weather Underground, an organization that carried out dramatic symbolic attacks against several monuments to war and racism, crossed lines of legality, of propriety, and perhaps even of common sense. And then during the 2008 presidential I was unwittingly and unwillingly thrust upon the stage because I had known—like thousands of others—Barack Obama in Chicago. The infamous charge that the candidate was “pallin' around with terrorists,” designed to injure Obama, also demonized me. I’ve been an educator and professor for decades, but the hard right has accelerated the lunacy against thousands of folks— activists and artists, academics and theorists, outspoken radical thinkers—and wherever possible mounted campaigns exactly like the one in Wyoming. Often university officials stand up on principle and resist the howling mob, as they did recently at St. Mary’s in California; sometimes—as at a student-run conference at the University of Pittsburgh in March—they compromise, restricting access to talks and surrounding a speaker with unwanted and unnecessary police protection; sometimes, as in this case, the university turns and runs. It’s a sad sight.

Of course I wasn’t invited to speak about any of this, and it’s unlikely any of it would have come up without the active campaigning and noisy thunder from the relatively tiny group that is the ultra-right.

I would have focused my talk on the unique characteristics of education in a democracy, an enterprise that rests on the twin pillars of enlightenment and liberation, knowledge and human freedom. Education engages dynamic questions of morality and ethics, identity and location, agency and action. We want to know more, to see more, to experience more in order to do more—to be more competent and powerful and capable in our projects and our pursuits, to be more astute and aware and wide-awake, more fully engaged in the world that we inherit, the world we are simultaneously destined to change.

To deny students the right to question the circumstances of their lives, and to wonder how they might be otherwise, is to deny democracy itself.

It’s reasonable to assume that education in a democracy is distinct from education under a dictatorship or a monarchy; surely school leaders in fascist Germany or Albania or Saudi Arabia or apartheid South Africa all agreed, for example, that students should behave well, stay away from drugs and crime, do their homework, study hard, and master the subject matters; they also graduated fine scientists and musicians and athletes, so none of those things differentiate a democratic education from any other.

What makes education in a democracy, at least theoretically, distinct is a commitment to a particularly precious and fragile ideal: every human being is of infinite and incalculable value, each a unique intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual, and creative force. Every human being is born free and equal in dignity and rights; each is endowed with reason and conscience, and deserves, then, a sense of solidarity, brotherhood and sisterhood, recognition and respect. Democracy is geared toward participation and engagement, and that points to an educational system in which the fullest development of all is seen as the necessary condition for the full development of each, and conversely, that the fullest development of each is necessary for the full development of all.

In a vibrant and participatory democracy, we might conclude that whatever the wisest and most privileged parents want for their children is precisely the baseline and standard for what the wider community wants for all of its children. If children of privilege get to have small classes, abundant resources, and a curriculum based on opportunities to experiment and explore, ask questions and pursue answers to the furthest limit, if the Obama kids, for example, attend such a school, one where they also find a respected and unionized teacher corps, shouldn’t that be good enough for the kids in public schools everywhere? Any other ideal for our schools, in John Dewey’s words, “is narrow and unlovely; acted upon it destroys our democracy.”

We want our students to be able to think for themselves, to make judgments based on evidence and argument, to develop minds of their own. We want them to ask fundamental questions—who in the world am I? How did I get here and where am I going? What in the world are my choices? How in the world shall I proceed?—and to pursue answers wherever they might take them. Our efforts focus not on the production of things so much as on the production of fully developed human beings who are capable of controlling and transforming their own lives, citizens who can participate fully in civic life.

Teaching in a democracy encourages students to develop initiative and imagination, the capacity to name the world, to identify the obstacles to their full humanity, and the courage to act upon whatever the known demands. Education in a democracy is always about opening doors and opening minds as students forge their own pathways into a wider world.

How do our schools at every level—K-16—measure up to the democratic ideal?

Much of what we call schooling forecloses or shuts down or walls off meaningful choice-making. Much of it is based on obedience and conformity, the hallmarks of every authoritarian regime. Much of it banishes the unpopular, squirms in the presence of the unorthodox, hides the unpleasant. There’s no space for skepticism, irreverence, or even doubt. While many long for an education that is transcendent and powerful, we find ourselves too-often locked in situations that reduce schooling to a kind of glorified clerking that passes along a curriculum of received wisdom and predigested and often false bits of information. This is a recipe for disaster in the long run.

Educators, students, and citizens must press for an education worthy of a democracy, including an end to sorting people into winners and losers through expensive standardized tests which act as pseudo-scientific forms of surveillance; an end to starving public schools—including public higher education—of needed resources and then blaming teachers for dismal outcomes; and an end to the rapidly accumulating “educational debt,” the resources due to communities historically segregated, under-funded and under-served. All children and youth in a democracy, regardless of economic circumstance, deserve full access to richly-resourced classrooms led by caring, qualified and generously compensated teachers.

We might try now to create open spaces in our schools and our various communities where we expect fresh and startling winds to blow, unaccustomed winds that are sure to electrify and confound and fascinate us. We begin by throwing open the windows. We declare that in this corner of this place—in this open space we are constructing together—people will begin to experience themselves as powerful authors of their own narratives, actors in their own dramas, the essential architects and creators of their own lives, participants in a dynamic and inter-connected community-in-the-making. Here they will discover a zillion ways to articulate their own desires and demands and questions. Here everyone will live in search of rather than in accordance with or in accommodation to. Here we will join one another and our democratic futures can be born.

A primary job of teachers and scholars and journalists, and a responsibility of all engaged citizens, is to challenge orthodoxy, dogma, and mindless complacency, to be skeptical of all authoritative claims, to interrogate and trouble the given and the taken-for-granted. The growth of knowledge, insight, and understanding depends on that kind of effort, and the inevitable clash of ideas that follows must be nourished and not crushed.

As campuses contract and constrain, the main victims becomes truth, honesty, integrity, curiosity, imagination, freedom itself. When college campuses fall silent, other victims include the high school history teacher on the west side of Chicago or in Laramie or Cheyenne, the English literature teacher in Detroit, or the math teacher in an Oakland middle school. They and countless others immediately get the message: be careful what you say; stay close to the official story; stick to the authorized text; keep quiet with your head covered.

In Brecht’s play Galileo the great astronomer set forth into a world dominated by a mighty church and an authoritarian power: “The cities are narrow and so are the brains,” he declared recklessly. Intoxicated with his own insights, Galileo found himself propelled toward revolution. Not only did his radical discoveries about the movement of the stars free them from the “crystal vault” that received truth insistently claimed fastened them to the sky, but his insights suggested something even more dangerous: that we, too, are embarked on a great voyage, that we are free and without the easy support that dogma provides. Here Galileo raised the stakes and risked taking on the establishment in the realm of its own authority, and it struck back fiercely. Forced to renounce his life’s work under the exquisite pressure of the Inquisition, he denounced what he knew to be true, and was welcomed back into the church and the ranks of the faithful, but exiled from humanity—by his own word. A former student confronted him in the street then: “Many on all sides followed you…believing that you stood, not only for a particular view of the movement of the stars, but even more for the liberty of teaching— in all fields. Not then for any particular thoughts, but for the right to think at all. Which is in dispute.”

This is surely in play today: the right to talk to whomever you please, the right to read and wonder, the right to pursue an argument into uncharted spaces, the right to challenge the state or the church and its orthodoxy in the public square. The right to think at all.

This is some of what I would have discussed in Wyoming, but that will not happen, at least not this week. Canceling this talk underlines the urgency of having multiple and far-ranging speeches, dialogue, and discussions at every level and throughout the public square.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

No Pilgrims at Thanksgiving?!

It's true, peeps. I was just playing a round of Family Feud, and you know how many people said pilgrims are associated with Thanksgiving? Zero.

What has this country come to?

And really, it makes even less sense when you think about how many ridiculous, puritanical values and actions we continue to espouse.


OMG, not an embarrassment and inconvenience

to the United States of America!?

Forget that people are dead and wounded.


Upheaval in Kyrgyzstan as Leader Flees

MOSCOW — Large-scale protests on Wednesday appeared to overthrow the government of Kyrgyzstan, an important American ally in Central Asia. Government officials said at least 41 people had been killed in bloody fighting between riot police and demonstrators in the capital of Bishkek and elsewhere in the country.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Another reason to be proud to be an American...

... and "Christian:"

May the people of this land never fully step out of the dark ages. Preserve ignorance and intolerance for future generations.

Who says we don't care about our legacy?

Monday, April 5, 2010


Today I was walking over to clean the house I clean every Monday, for pay, and thinking about how something I am actually good at is coordinating, logistics... planning, scheduling and getting things done for people.

And how that parlays into a Secretary type position.

And how any Secretary position outside of, say, Secretary of State, would not pay me what I am worth.

And how it's a pretty cruel and outdated world that still underpays the people who make things happen for the bigwigs.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Abortion doc's killer lashes out at court

Peeps, it makes me so happy to see the level of personal irresponsibility that exists within the borders of this fine nation. Hellz, it's helpful to be reminded by these people what "rights" and "freedoms" really are. Honestly, I did not know.

In case you haven't already read:

WICHITA, Kan. – A man who murdered one of the few U.S. doctors who performed late-term abortions lashed out at the court during his sentencing hearing Thursday and took the opportunity to describe abortion procedures in detail, which he was previously forbidden from doing during the trial.

Scott Roeder, 52, accused Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert of "duplicity" and said his trial was a miscarriage of justice because he wasn't allowed to present testimony about the evils of abortion. He said the deaths of a few providers like Dr. George Tiller must be weighed against the millions of abortions that have been performed.

"I stopped him so he could not dismember another innocent baby," Roeder said. "Wichita is a far safer place for unborn babies without George Tiller."

Roeder has admitted gunning down Tiller in the back of Tiller's Wichita church last May. He faces a mandatory life prison sentence, and Wilbert must decide whether to make him eligible for parole after 25 or 50 years. The judge indicated during the hearing that there appeared to be enough evidence to qualify Roeder for the harsher of the two sentences.

Roeder was barred from describing abortion procedures during the testimony portion of his trial. Abortion is legal in Kansas, and prosecutors were careful not turn the trial into a referendum on abortion.

On Thursday, Roeder told the court that Tiller "dismembered living children with the nod of approval from the state."

He said God's judgment against the U.S. will "sweep over this land like a prairie wind."

"He will avenge every drop of innocent blood," Roeder said.

Earlier Thursday, Lee Thompson, who was Tiller's friend and attorney and still represents the Tiller family, asked Wilbert to give Roeder the harshest sentence possible, saying anything less would encourage other anti-abortion fanatics to follow in Roeder's footsteps.

"It will happen again and again," Thompson said. "This is domestic terrorism. This act will be repeated by this person if he ever sees the light of day again."

Thompson described Tiller as a devoted husband, father and grandfather and a strong believer in women's rights. He said his office still receives calls from women seeking medical services. As he spoke, Tiller's widow Jeanne cried. Roeder at times looked away, yawned and took a drink of water.

"The impact of his death on women throughout the world is like an earthquake," Thompson said. "They ask, where can I go? What will I do?' I have to say, 'I'm sorry, I can't tell you.' That's the impact of this crime."

More at:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Hampshire

This seriously kicks it and made my day:

Thanks, Chris. It's not a wine coolah!