Haunted by Santayana’s Ghost: FDR warns about Republican hypocrisy and sarcasm, from 1936

July 23, 2011

A haunting by Santayana’s Ghost:

Was this a convention speech?  I wonder when and where it was.  Can anyone help?

_____________

Ha!  In comments, SBH points us to the text of the speech.  FDR addressed the New York State Democratic Convention, in Syracuse, on September 29, 1936 (Can you imagine — does any state have such thing still —  state party conventions so late in the year, today?).  He found it at UC-Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project website.  Here’s the text of the excerpt above, plus a little:

In New York and in Washington, Government which has rendered more than lip service to our Constitutional Democracy has done a work for the protection and preservation of our institutions that could not have been accomplished by repression and force.

Let me warn you and let me warn the Nation against the smooth evasion which says, “Of course we believe all these things; we believe in social security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present Administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them- we will do more of them we will do them better; and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.”

But, my friends, these evaders are banking too heavily on the shortness of our memories. No one will forget that they had their golden opportunity—twelve long years of it.

Remember, too, that the first essential of doing a job well is to want to see the job done. Make no mistake about this: the Republican leadership today is not against the way we have done the job. The Republican leadership is against the job’s being done.


Quote of the moment, and Rick Santorum: Langston Hughes, “Let America be America again”

April 25, 2011

Rick Santorum, CBS News image

Rick Santorum: Running with . . .

Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes

. . . political philosopher, and Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes?

News item: Rick Santorum is running for president. No, seriously — he is. In order to run, a candidate needs a catchy slogan.

Santorum’s campaign announced he is planning to use “Let America be America, again” as his slogan.

It’s a phrase borrowed from Langston Hughes.  One wonders if Rick Santorum reads any poetry, let alone someone from the Harlem Renaissance.

Did Santorum really intend to borrow from Hughes?  Does he think Hughes would approve?

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

Full text of the poem here, at the American Academy of Poets.

No, it appears Santorum did not wish to affiliate with Langston Hughes. One more reason to vote against Santorum, as if anyone needed more.  Santorum even admits not being much of a poetry fan.

How about this for a Santorum slogan:  “All santorum, no guts or brains.”

Tip of the old scrub brush to Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.


Republican policy: Forward to the Gilded Age

April 10, 2011

Cover of "The Gilded Age"

Cover of "The Gilded Age," a novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner published in 1873. Image courtesy of the Center for Mark Twain Studies, Elmira College.

You know why it was called the Gilded Age, right?

Santayana’s Ghost keeps telling me the Republicans don’t know why.  Republicans as a rule do not read Mark Twain, so it’s a cinch they’ve never read Mark Twain plus Charles Dudley Warner.

Mark Twain, PBS image from Mark Twain House

Mark Twain, who wrote the novel, The Gilded Age, with Charles Dudley Warner. Twain wrote of the Republican Manifesto earlier: "What is the chief end of man?--to get rich. In what way? -- dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must." Image from Mark Twain House, Hartford, Connecticut, via PBS

Still, don’t you recall with some fondness the Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford years, when Republicans at least pretended not to be grand misanthropes?  Do you remember that?  Nixon tried to make nicey-nice with conservationists and environmentalists, expanding the National Parks and creating the Environmental Protection Agency (fitting, since the environmental movement had been born among and from wealthy  and smart Republicans); even after killing the air traffic controllers union, Ronald Reagan enjoyed easy camradary with Teamsters, and to some degree, even with the heads of the AFL-CIO.    Reagan encouraged and signed a jobs training bill, and signed our first home health care law, making it possible for people to go home to die, where they ironically lived much longer than in hospitals, but at much reduced cost to Medicare.

Forget those days.  Forget that human compassion.  Today’s conservatives don’t have time for the wimpiness of Ronald Reagan.

Did you see the full list of proposed agency cuts the Republicans tried to pin on the 2011 appropriations bill, H.R. 1?

Here’s the entire list, from OMB Watch:  OMB_Watch-HR1_Policy_Riders (April 7, 2011).  I’m sure OMB Watch  has a bias, but the descriptions of the cuts are so balanced and neutral that they may hide some of the more unscrupulous, Scroogey actions.

In consumer protection, for example, Republicans inexplicably oppose the creation of watchdogs to prevent another housing bubble — are Republicans protecting criminals here?

Prohibits the Federal Reserve from transferring more than $80 million to the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, Sec. 1517
Prohibits funds for a government sponsored “consumer products complaints database,” Sec. 4046.

No one to prevent new crimes, and no collecting of information to warn consumers of dangerous products.  Wonderful.

Prohibits funds to take any action to effect or implement the disestablishment, closure or realignment of the US Joint Forces Command.  Sec. 4020

No, no, don’t want the Pentagon to save money — heaven knows, wasting money at the Pentagon is flag-waving patriotism — so let’s ban the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, from making changes that save money.  It’s in the Bible that this must be done, I’m sure.

Prohibits funds for implementing a provision specific to the State of Texas in the “Education Job Fund.”  Sec. 4051

After claiming he wouldn’t accept “bailouts” from the federal government, Texas Gov. Rick Perry accepted money from Congress to prevent the loss of teaching jobs — but then threw the money into a different pot, so teachers were not protected.  U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, amended the last appropriation bill to say that Texas can’t take money from the teachers — but the Republicans want to allow Perry to take the money, and keep it from the teachers, again.  It’s the old playground game where the big kids play keep away from a little kid.  It’s vicious, of course, and should be criminal — but the older kids have a lot of fun.

Prohibits funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program or the State Energy Program.  Sec. 1434

Let the poor people freeze in the dark — they all vote Democratic, anyway.  But wait!  Tea Partiers, fresh from the Mad Hatter’s, say that global warming will take care of the poor people!   No need for weatherization.

Prohibits funding for various environmental projects in California.  Sec. 1475
Prohibits funding for a climate change czar in the White House.  Sec. 1535
Prohibits funding for EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.  Sec. 1746

Oh, well, maybe there isn’t any global warming.  Yeah, this is contrary to what the Republicans said about warming keeping the poor from needing weatherization — but they’re just poor people, the Republicans say.  Let ’em get a job!  (Where?  Not the problem of Republicans; Republicans identified that the poor need to get a job, and that should be the limit of federal action . . .).

This morning on CBS, New York Sen. Charles Schumer said he would not list cuts until he sees a final copy of the bill.  Probably wise — but it’s also almost a cinch that almost all of the cuts will be mean-spirited, worthy of Ebenezer Scrooge before his conversion, and damaging to the U.S. people and the U.S. economy.

What in the hell is going on in Washington?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Jean Detjen, protecting the nation from being over-run by Canadians up there in the north, in Wisconsin.


Ironic anniversary: Marshall Plan, April 3, 1948

April 4, 2011

Texas Republicans rammed through their radical budget cut program on April 3, 2011 — ironically on the anniversary of another legislative decision made in the depths of deficit spending.

President Truman signing legislation to create the Marshall Plan, 1948 - Library of Congress, Averill Harriman collection

Caption from Library of Congress: "Surrounded by members of Congress and his cabinet, on April 3, 1948, President Harry S Truman (1884-1972) signed the Foreign Assistance Act, the legislation establishing the Marshall Plan. His official statement said, "Few presidents have had the opportunity to sign legislation of such importance. . . . This measure is America's answer to the challenge facing the free world today." The Marshall Plan was a bipartisan effort--proposed by a Democratic president and enacted into law by a Republican Congress in a hotly contested presidential election year. The plan's supporters shown in the photograph are (l-r) Senator Arthur Vandenberg (R--Mich.), Treasury Secretary John Snyder, Representative Charles Eaton (R--N.J.), Senator Tom Connally (D--Tex.), Secretary of the Interior Julius A. Krug, Representative Joseph Martin (R--Mass.), Representative Sol Bloom (D--N.Y.),and Attorney General Tom Clark." Copyprint from The Marshall Plan at the Mid-Mark. Averell Harriman Papers, Manuscript Division

April 3 is the traditional anniversary of the Marshall Plan.  From the U.S. Census Bureau:

SUNDAY, APRIL 3: MARSHALL PLAN

Profile America — Sunday, April 3rd.  One of the major programs that helped to shape history after World War II was signed into law on this date in 1948.  The European Recovery Program — far better known as the Marshall Plan, was suggested a year earlier by Secretary of State George Marshall. It had become clear that the economies of the nations battered by the war were not recovering on their own, and millions of people were not only jobless, but were also going hungry.  The Marshall Plan lasted for four years, distributing some 130 billion in today’s dollars, and helped many nations on the road to recovery.  Recently, the U.S. has given nearly $34 billion a year in economic aid and some $15.5 billion in military aid to countries around the world.  Profile America is in its 14th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sources:  Chase’s Calendar of Events 2011, p. 204

Statistical Abstract of the United States 2011, t. 1298

Profile America is produced by the Public Information Office of the U.S. Census Bureau. These daily features are available as produced segments, ready to air, on a monthly CD or on the Internet at http://www.census.gov (look for “Multimedia Gallery” by the “Newsroom” button).

SOURCE U.S. Census Bureau

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/04/02/3523990/us-census-bureau-daily-feature.html#ixzz1IY7ec6mu

On that date in 1948, the U.S. faced the greatest deficits the nation had ever seen, leftover from World War II. Faced with the choice of deeper deficits or no Marshall Plan, Members of Congress chose to borrow the money to rebuild nations hammered by the war,  including our enemies, Germany, Italy and Japan.

What would have happened had the U.S. said “we can’t afford a Marshall Plan?”  Santayana’s Ghost shakes his head.  The U.S. would not have had the aid of growing, free-market economics in France, Germany, Italy, England and Japan, during the Cold War.  Advantages would have been conceded to the Soviet Union and communism, worldwide.

Notice the photograph includes Republicans and Democrats.

What are Texas and U.S. legislators thinking these days?

Resources:


Boston Tea Party: An anti-corporation protest?

April 3, 2011

Thom Hartmann said so.  In Hartmann’s reading, the 1773 Boston Tea Party was as much a protest against corporate oligarchy as a protest against government — quite the opposite of the way most Neo Tea Partiers see things.   Is he right?  Historians, what say you?

Hartmann relies on his copy of George R. T. Hewes’ book, A retrospect of the Boston tea-party, with a memoir of George R. T. Hewes, a survivor of the little band of patriots who drowned the tea in Boston harbour in 1773 (1834). Are you familiar with the book?

George R. T. Hewes in 1835, a veteran of the 1773 Boston Tea Party - CUNY image

George Robert Twelves Hewes in 1835 at age 93, a veteran of the 1773 Boston Tea Party. Painting by Joseph G. Cole. CUNY image

More, and resources:


Can’t fire the bums to make a quality school: Principals division

February 8, 2011

Be sure to see the story in the New York Times today. Obama administration “Race to the Top” money went to states who proposed to replace principals in failing schools. A problem in the strategy threatens the program:  Not enough qualified people exist to replace all the “bad” ones.

Wrong-headed education “reformers” keep talking about “firing the bad ones,” teachers, administrators, or janitors.  Without significantly raising the pay for teachers, without greatly increasing the number of teachers and administrators in the pipeline from teaching colleges or any other source, reformers can’t attract anyone better qualified than the people they wish to replace.

Pres. Obama and Sec. Duncan and the 6th grade at Graham Road Elementary, Falls Church, Virginia

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan took questions from a 6th grade class at Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia, January 18, 2010 – photo credit unknown

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time these reformers took a step back and did some study, perhaps from the quality gurus, Deming and Juran and Crosby, or from the heights of championship performance, in basketball, football, soccer, sailing (try the America Cup), horse racing or politics:  No one can use firing as a chief tool to turn an organization around, nor to lead any organization to a championship.  Threatening people’s jobs does not motivate them, nor make the jobs attractive to others.

How can we tell the fire-the-teachers-and-principals group is on the wrong track?  See the article:

“To think that the same leader with a bit more money is going to accomplish tremendous change is misguided,” said Tim Cawley, a managing director at the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit group that began leading turnaround efforts in Chicago when Mr. Duncan was the superintendent there.

“This idea of a light-touch turnaround is going to sully the whole effort,” Mr. Cawley added.

Tell that to Steve Jobs, who turned Apple around.  Tell it to Jack Welch, the tough-guy boss from GE (who had his own peccadilloes about firing, but who emphasized hiring and pay, at least, as the way to create a succession plan for the vacancies).  Tell it to any CEO who turned around his organization without falling on his own sword.

Any competent quality consultant would have foreseen this problem:  Nobody wants to train for a job with little future, less money to do the job right, little authority to get the job done, and the sole promise that the exit door is always open.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan should know better, intuitively.  He used to play basketball, professionally.  Surely he knows something about team building and team turnarounds.  What caused his astounding, expensive amnesia?

Part of the issue identified in the article is training:

Because leading schools out of chronic failure is harder than managing a successful school — often requiring more creative problem-solving abilities and stronger leadership, among other skills — the supply of principals capable of doing the work is tiny.

Most of the nation’s 1,200 schools, colleges and departments of education do offer school leadership training. “But only a tiny percentage really prepare leaders for school turnaround,” said Arthur Levine, a former president of Teachers College who wrote a 2005 study of principal training.

That only contributes to the larger problem, that people in the positions are, often, the best ones for the job already; firing them damages turnaround efforts.

In Chicago, federal money is financing an overhaul of Phillips Academy High School. Mr. Cawley’s nonprofit trained Phillips’s new principal, Terrance Little, by having him work alongside mentor principals experienced at school makeovers.

“If we’re talking about turning around 700 schools, I don’t think you can find 700 principals who are capable of taking on the challenge of this work,” Mr. Little said. “If you could, why would we have this many failing schools?”

Education’s problems are many.  Few of the problems are the result of the person at the chalkboard in the classroom.  Firing teachers won’t help.  W. Edwards Deming claimed that 85% of the problems that plague front-line employees, like teachers, are management-caused.  Firing their bosses won’t solve those problems, either, but will just push the problems around.   (What?  “Deck chairs?”  “Titanic?”  What are you talking about?)

Did you hear?  Texas plans to cut state funding to all education by at least 25% for next year, due to Gov. Rick Perry’s $25 billion deficit, which he worked so hard to conceal during last year’s election campaign.

Santayana’s Ghost just dropped by to remind us, suitably the day after Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday anniversary, of the Report of the Commission on Excellence in Education, the report that saved Reagan’s presidency and got him a second term:

Our nation is at risk. The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity. If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament. History is not kind to idlers.

When do we get political leaders who will swim against that tide instead of trying to surf it?

 

Dan Wasserman cartoon, Boston.com

Dan Wasserman, Boston Globe

See a small collection of  Dan Wasserman’s cartoons on Race to the Top, here.


The future: Promise, or threat?

January 30, 2011

Rather sweeping changes coming in Advanced Placement courses — World History, German and French for the coming year, Spanish and Latin for 2012-13, and probably Biology.  Changes for U.S. History (APUSH) got delayed however.

At AP’s website where teachers can look at the proposed changes, three quotes alternate on the first page, including one from our resident ghost, George Santayana:

We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past.

Promise?  Threat?  Meant to cheer, or strike fear and doubt?

Or is it  just a good line from Santayana in an ambiguous situation?

(You’ll find the quote here:  The Philosophy of George Santayana, Northwestern University Press, 1940, p. 560)


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