Texas Liberal

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In Texas, Kids Are Denied The Right To Arm Themselves With Knowledge—Blogger Round-Up

Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. You’ll find the round-up at the end of this post.

Some of the big news in Texas in this past week has been meetings of the Texas State Board of Education to determine what can be taught  to school kids in our Texas schools.

Far right-wingers, in control of the board, are purging textbooks of facts that disagree with their world view.

While Texas conservatives very much want you to have the right to bear arms no matter where you go, they are less open to the right to arm yourself with knowledge.

( In the picture above, I illustrate how history is now being taught in Texas. In the picture you see that the Samuel Slater bobble head has just walked off the Mayflower in West Texas–that is why there is a cactus–-and is being greeted by a Care Bear. You can teach any crazy thing in our schools now as long as it is false.)

This idiocy has attracted worldwide attention.

These folks want to take Thomas Jefferson out of our schools. Please click here to learn about Thomas Jefferson. The good news is that the federal protection of the First Amendment allows me to tell you about Thomas Jefferson no matter how much some of individual states of our Federal Union want to lie about our shared history.

Some of the best blogging about this issue has been done by leading Houston-area blogger Martha Griffin at her blog Musings. Martha was at the hearings and is an expert on education in Texas and about education issues nationally.

Here is a history of education in Texas from the excellent Handbook of Texas Online.

From this history—“During the latter half of the nineteenth century the educational system in Texas still operated on a sporadic and localized basis. Some Texans regarded education as a private matter and resented any state involvement. Private and church schools continued to play key roles in the educational development of Texas and in some areas offered the only choice of formal schooling. Schools short of funds often faced problems of low supplies, inadequate facilities, and poorly trained teachers. Since the days before the republic some government officials had called for guidelines specifying the qualifications of teachers.”

I suppose we have made some progress since that time. Maybe. Sort of.

Here is the round-up—

This week at Left of College Station, the spring semester ends and Teddy has made it through another twelve hours of classes. He wasn’t too busy to take a look at the developments in the campaign for TX-17, and how the Republicans are attempting to nationalize the midterm elections.
TXsharon of BLUEDAZE: Drilling Reform for Texas took some EPA officials from D.C. on a Barnett Shale tour last week.

Bay Area Houston says Arizona’s Governor Brewer is the new Face of the GOP.

Off the Kuff interviewed Democratic candidate for Lt. Gov. Linda Chavez-Thompson about Arizona’s immigration law and what comprehensive immigration reform would look like.

WhosPlayin has the final results from the Texas DSHS investigation of blood and urine for residents of Dish, TX; the conclusions are not by any means an exoneration for the industry because of significant limitations to the investigation. Continue reading

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

While You Can’t Learn About Thomas Jefferson In Texas Schools, You Can Learn About Jefferson At This Blog

The so-called Texas State Board of Education has decided to remove Thomas Jefferson from the curriculum taught to school kids in Texas.

(Above–Jefferson as painted by Rembrandt Peale in 1800.)

From a blog in the science magazine Discover

“Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with “the writings of”) and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson’s ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards. We don’t buy her argument at all. Board member Bob Craig of Lubbock points out that the curriculum writers clearly wanted to students to study Enlightenment ideas and Jefferson. Could Dunbar’s problem be that Jefferson was a Deist? The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards.”

The blog post above was written by the scientist Carl Zimmer. Mr. Zimmer often writes about evolution.

Evolution is real.

However, just because you can’t learn about Thomas Jefferson in our Texas schools, does not mean you can’t learn about our third President here in Texas.

You can learn about Thomas Jefferson right here at Texas Liberal.

Here are three strong resources to learn about Jefferson—

The Miller Center for Public affairs at the U. of Virginia has excellent profiles of the Presidents. Here is the profile for President Jefferson.

Here is the link to the plantation home of Mr. Jefferson. This Monticello web site is very well done.

Here are the Thomas Jefferson papers from the Library of Congress. There are also essays about Mr. Jefferson at this site.

Our Texas State Board of Education wants people to be ignorant. Yet we should not be ignorant.

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who I Would Have Supported For President—1788-1820

If I’d been around, who would I have supported for President between the years 1788 and 1820?

( Here is part two of this series–1824-1852)

Without knowing the past, we can’t grasp the present.

In the years 1788-1820, I would have been looking for a strong federal government, an expansion of our new found freedoms to include all people, and just treatment of Native Americans.

As it turned out, by 1820 there was little doubt that America was one nation united, it’s just that this unity often came at the expense of the freedoms and just treatment I would have hoped for.

Elections in these days were not decided by popular vote. Candidates were often nominated by caucuses of sitting members of Congress. This was the so-called King Caucus. Electoral votes were won by votes in state legislatures.  

1788—In the first Presidential election, I’d have backed George Washington of Virginia (above as painted by Gilbert Stuart.) I would have felt the new nation needed a solid start, and that General Washington would be best to provide that foundation. Also, General Washington had no opponent in 1788.

1792—Washington was again the only candidate. Though by this point an opposition was emerging to the ruling Federalists.

1796—While I would have been concerned by the elitist tendencies of Federalist Alexander Hamilton, I would have supported Federalist Party Vice President John Adams of Massachusetts. In part this is because I’m a native New Englander. More meaningfully, Thomas Jefferson’s vision of an agrarian slave holding republic would not have held much appeal. Adams beat Jefferson of Virginia in 1800.

Jefferson’s candidacy can be seen as a beginning of the very successful Democratic-Republican Party.

1800—While I would have been turned off by Adams’ Alien & Sedition Acts, I would have supported President Adams over repeat challenger Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s view against standing armies in peacetime and his advocacy of slavery and states rights would have gone against my support of strong central government and a move towards the end of slavery. Jefferson won the election. 

1804—The Federalist party was in disarray in 1804 and there was hardly a contest. I would have softened on Jefferson to a degree because of the Louisiana Purchase. This was an act of an assertive federal government no matter what Jefferson put forth as the official line. The Federalist was Charles Pinckney of South Carolina. Pinckney had a record of work and support for a strong federal government. By 1804 though, he had moved towards a more southern influenced view of these questions. I don’t think I would have backed either candidate.

( Below—The Louisiana Purchase and what America was in 1810.)

1808—This time it was Pinckney against Secretary of State James Madison of Virginia. At this point it would have all seemed useless. Many Virginia Federalists bolted and supported Madison. The narrowing of the Federalist party gave the party an increasingly aristocratic tint. I would have been frustrated in 1808.

Where were the champions of an America both more free and not looking towards the South? Madison won the election.

1812—Opposition to the Democratic-Republicans and the Virgina Dynasty got a moderate lift from debate over war with England. This is what would become known as the War of 1812. I would of have had a tough call in 1812. Democratic-Republican dissident DeWitt Clinton of New York was endorsed by Federalists to run against President Madison.

I would have liked Clinton for his role as “Father of the Erie Canal.” The canal helped unify the country. I would have been suspicious of the motives behind the War of 1812. I would have seen the war as about protecting the Southern cotton trade and as a vehicle to stop British assistance to Native Americans resisiting the advance of the United States across their lands.

On the other hand, I would have noted the nationalist sentiments behind the war and seen these feelings as, over the long haul, likely leading to the undermining of the states rights position.

( Below–The Erie Canal at Kirkville, New York. Looks like a nice place for a picnic.)  

I think I would have gone with Clinton. Madison won the election.

General Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812 helped set off an agressive white man’s democratic nationalism that I would have seen as a logical extension of Jefferson’s views many years earlier.

1816—I would have sat 1816 out. Opposition to the Democratic-Republican Party took the form of 1814’s Hartford Convention. Secession was an option considered at this meeting by some of the leading remaining Federalists. I could have never had gone for that program. Secretary of State James Monroe of Virginia won the White House in 1816. In this so-called Era of Good Feelings election, Monroe won easily. 

1820—Monroe was reelected without opposition. This would be the last election before the popular vote of eligible white males become the deciding factor.

David Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Electionsis the best online source of Presidential election history.   

The Penguin History of the USA by Hugh Brogan is a great one volume history of the nation.

Next up will be my Presidential choices for the years between 1824 and 1852.

( Below–White House portrait of James Monroe. I don’t think he is gazing out at the future. Monroe was the last of the Virginia Dynasty.)

October 16, 2008 Posted by | Who I Would Have Supported For President | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Life Is A Broad Whole—Not Fragments Without Context

 

( Blogger’s note—As part of my Summer Solstice blogging break, I’m giving a few posts from the past another go-around. Thanks for reading Texas Liberal and I’ll be back with new posts in a few days.)    

The painting above is Twilight In The Wilderness.

It was painted by Frederic Edwin Church in 1860.

Here is what it says about this painting in the book American Art and Architecture by Michael J. Lewis—

Church did not fragment his colors into intense local passages but subordinated them to an overall chromatic scheme…As with a musical composition, there is a dominant key signature against which contrasting harmonies resonate.   

That’s right!—Life is a few broad themes. Individual events take place within the broad themes. These broad themes last through time.

In the 1796 Presidential election, John Adams won nine states and Thomas Jefferson won seven states.

All nine states Mr. Adams won in ’96 were carried by John Kerry in 2004.

Of the seven states won by Mr. Jefferson, George W. Bush won six of them in ’04. ( Pennsylvania was the only state to switch, as it were, from Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Kerry.)  

As a general matter, the Adams’ states were in the North and the Jefferson states were in the South.

These regions of the country had different patterns of initial settlement. In the early years of the nation they had different institutions and different cultures to a greater extent than seen today.

The 2004 results would suggest, with admittedly some simplification, that despite the passage of 208 years, initial differences between the regions have formed broad general themes that have exercised some control of American political history.

Which, I’m sure, is just the point Mr. Church was getting at in his painting.

A great book to learn about the early years of the United States is American Colonies–The Settling Of North America by Alan Taylor. 

Frederic Edwin Church lived 1826-1900. Here is some information about Mr. Church

The above links to Mr. Adams, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Bush are from the first-rate presidential resources at the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.  

June 22, 2008 Posted by | Art, Books, History, Political History | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Strain Of Nihilism In My Belief In Democracy

In Revolutionary Characters–What Made The Founders Different, author Gordon Wood says the following about Thomas Jefferson—

Jefferson’s faith in the natural sociability of people…lay behind his belief in minimal government….Jefferson would have fully understood the Western world’s recent interest in devolution and localist democracy….For Jefferson, there could be no power independent of the people, in whom he had absolute faith.

I find myself tending more in a belief in democracy for its own sake. People must have a say in how they are governed. I don’t know to what extent the root of my belief in democracy is faith in the people. I don’t find I need that faith to believe in democracy.   

There is a strain of nihilism my view. The people must govern whatever the outcome. Safeguards must exist for the protection of minority groups in society. But in the end, if a society as a whole pursues policies that lead the end of that society, so be it.

People are born to be free. What they do what that freedom is another question.

May 28, 2008 Posted by | Books, History | , , , , | 3 Comments

Life & History Consists Of Broad Themes—It Is Not A Series Of Fragments

The painting above is Twilight In The Wilderness.

It was painted by Frederic Edwin Church in 1860.

Here is what it says about this painting in the book American Art and Architecture by Michael J. Lewis—

Church did not fragment his colors into intense local passages but subordinated them to an overall chromatic scheme…As with a musical composition, there is a dominant key signature against which contrasting harmonies resonate.   

That’s right!—Life is a few broad themes. Individual events take place within the broad themes. These broad themes last through time.

In the 1796 Presidential election, John Adams won nine states and Thomas Jefferson won seven states.

All nine states Mr. Adams won in ’96 were carried by John Kerry in 2004.

Of the seven states won by Mr. Jefferson, George W. Bush won six of them in ’04. ( Pennsylvania was the only state to switch, as it were, from Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Kerry.)  

As a general matter, the Adams’ states were in the North and the Jefferson states were in the South.

These regions of the country had different patterns of initial settlement. In the early years of the nation they had different institutions and different cultures to a greater extent than seen today.

The 2004 results would suggest, with admittedly some simplification, that despite the passage of 208 years, initial differences between the regions have formed broad general themes that have exercised some control of American political history.

Which, I’m sure, is just the point Mr. Church was getting at in his painting.

A great book to learn about the early years of the United States is American Colonies–The Settling Of North America by Alan Taylor. 

Frederic Edwin Church lived 1826-1900. Here is some information about Mr. Church

The above links to Mr. Adams, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Bush are from the first-rate presidential resources at the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.  

March 13, 2008 Posted by | Art, Books, Colonial America, History, Political History | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

One Year Until Bush Is Gone!—With A Cartoon & Links To Grant And Jefferson

 

 Excellent news—It’s just one year until George W. Bush is out of office. January 20, 2009 is the day.

To mark the relative proximity of the next inauguration, please note the cartoon above from the Ulysses S. Grant Inauguration of 1869. The point of the cartoon is to mock the ornate Grant ceremony in contrast to the alleged republican simplicity of Thomas Jefferson’s Inauguration in 1801.

Jefferson’s Inauguration is portrayed by the lone man on horseback–Jefferson—in the upper left of the cartoon.  

Ulysses Grant was President from 1869 until 1877.

Thomas Jefferson was President 1801 until 1809.   

Click the links above to Grant and Jefferson and you’ll get the first-rate Presidents pages at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.

Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virgina.    

Ulysses Grant smashed the Confederacy.

Mr. Jefferson’s first inaugural address is a famous speech.

Here is a well-known passage—But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world’s best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.”

Here is the full speech.

To come back to the cartoon, while General Grant may have held the more elaborate swearing-in, he was also born in this quite modest house. It is in Point Pleasant , Ohio which is just up the road from Cincinnati and along the Ohio River. I’ve been lucky enough to visit this home.   

 Below is Monticello where Jefferson lived—

 It is easy to be seen as virtuous when you can act as you have nothing to prove.

January 20, 2008 Posted by | Cincinnati, Political History | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments