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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sid on "Bullying," an Educationial Philosophy and the Future of the G.O.P.

Is the G.O.P at the End of the Line?

I am sick and tired of hearing Republican politicians attempting to justify their positions.  I urge you to go back to the final item on the posting of October 10, 2013 on this blog, and read about the underlying principal that rules the Republican Party and governs everything it does.   I cannot see why anyone who is not extremely wealthy would want to vote Republican.  

And now for this week’s latest news about the G.O.P’s lowlife fringe which calls the shots for that Party, and which shut down the government earlier this month and had no qualms (and still doesn’t) about almost pushing the country into financial default …


Some veterans are Democrats, some veterans are Republicans, some veterans are Independents … but there is no party affiliation which automatically attaches itself to veterans.  That is, until about two weeks ago when a veterans group, ostensibly in Washington to protest the government shutdown which closed the World War Two Memorial, manifested a distinctly Tea Party Republican tone.  Right wing stalwarts such as Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Mike Lee and Larry Klayman, a purveyor of sedition whose ideas would land him in jail in any country but ours, joined on the platform to turn a protest against the Memorial’s closure into a vicious, anti-Democratic, anti-Obama rally. It was shameful.  The closure, of course, was entirely blamed on President Obama by these charlatans despite the fact that it is an indisputable fact that the government shutdown was directly caused by Senator Cruz in a effort to force the government to defund the Affordable Care Act.  He has repeatedly said as much. 
Lee and Cruz, whose lack of integrity defies belief, should be shunned by their fellow Senators. (Normally, I would suggest that Ted Cruz run for dog catcher somewhere or other when his term is up, but that would be an insult to the integrity of the many hardworking dog catchers in this country.)

Try to comprehend how the people of Alaska actually elected Palin as their Governor, how the G.O.P. ever gave her the Vice-Presidential nomination in 2008 and how Cruz and Lee were able to be elected Senators from Texas and Utah respectively.  It's hard to understand. The only answer is that the voters in these elections were beyond being “gullible” and fall into a still more reprehensible category, which I leave to others to define.  How does this happen? The answer, sad to say, rests with the First Amendment of our Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and of the press. 
If you listen to “talk radio,” where you can hear the likes of Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz, Larry Elder, Mike Gallagher, Sean Hannity, Mike Huckabee, Laura Ingraham, Joyce Kaufman, Mark Levin, G. Gordon Liddy, Rush Limbaugh, Steve Malzberg and Michael Savage on a daily basis, some locally, but many syndicated nationwide, you will quickly understand why there are enough foolish people in this country to elect scoundrels like Palin, Bachmann, Cruz and Lee to public office.  Limbaugh, for one, refers to his loyal followers and listeners as “dittoheads.” 

  Limbaugh and Beck conning the ultra-gullible

Most of them are too naive to comprehend how insulting this expression is and the contempt with which Rush uses it, making their inability to think for themselves into a virtue.  Can we call this the “Seig Heil” phenomenon?

If they hear things on the radio day after day, they must be true, they think.  These are the same people who lined up at county fairs a century or so ago to buy snake oil from a travelling pitchman, and who you see on the streets of major cities being swindled in games of three card monte. They followed Father Coughlin during the 1930's and some were even convinced to join the Klan.  Unfortunately, these grossly misinformed people vote, and the Republican Party has grown to depend on them.   

Sooner or later, however, the G.O.P. will realize that in order to survive, it must jettison its extreme right wing so the rest of the party, where some sanity still reigns, can say “Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish” and start rebuilding.  Otherwise, the Grand Old Party may have reached the end of the line.
Jack Lippman


An Educational Philosophy from a Non-Educator

There are frequent articles in newspapers and magazines pointing out how children in America’s schools are increasingly ranked behind those from many other countries in reading and mathematical skills.  One of the reasons for this decline in the ranking of our schools is the heterogeneity in the makeup of our elementary and secondary student bodies. We are not like countries with homogenous populations such as Finland which is consistently ranked above the United States but whose students all speak the same language and come from similar backgrounds.  Our student populations are tremendously varied, posing a challenge to our educators.

This problem must be addressed, but it goes deeper than that.  To compete in today’s world, our country’s education structure must take giant steps forward to educate students in the scientific, technical, engineering and mathematic areas frequently referred to as “STEM,” even at the elementary and high school levels.

A lab is more than a breed of dog.

In these vital areas, many of those at the very top of our college and university classes and even those doing graduate work here are students whose elementary and secondary educations were received outside of the United States. We must be doing something wrong in our elementary and high schools.  Our educators know how to solve these problems, and they can best do it if our politicians keep their hands off of it, other than providing funds to address the problem.

Beyond elementary and secondary schools, however, we have giant problems at the college level.  Whereas institutions throughout the world are directed at providing STEM education, ours are mired in the luxuries of half a century ago, when it was permissible to invest an inordinate amount of resources on the liberal arts, the social sciences and athletics.  Liberal arts and social sciences are important, but in this century their role must be secondary today to educating students in the STEM areas.  While universities outside of the country stress turning out physics, mathematics and chemistry majors, we are still producing too many graduates with degrees in political science, history, sociology, marketing, psychology, literature, foreign languages or communications to name a few majors.  There always must be students concentrating in these areas, but not so many that their education is provided by using resources which would be better directed toward the STEM disciplines, in which the United States is in competition with the rest of the world. 

And even then, the fruits of the inadequate resources devoted to STEM courses in this country are often wasted when our immigration laws encourage those who have come here from overseas to study to go back, equipped with the education they received here, to their native lands. 

Athletics?  We have gone too far.  Big time intercollegiate athletics have no place in our colleges and universities in the twenty-first century.  They take up too much of the time and energy students should be devoting to “learning.”  The only sports activities colleges should have should be at the “club” level, and chiefly there for recreational purposes.  We have plenty of professional teams for people to root for. The comprehensive sports facilities and stadiums at many of our colleges and universities should be sold off to newly formed “sports organizations,” funded by our professional sports industry, where talented high school athletes can be hired, develop their skills and be paid out of the gate receipts. These organizations’ football games, for example, would be at the same level as is major college football today, but there would be no such thing as “student athletes” on the field. They all would be paid, and none of them would be enrolled in a college.   Eventually, the best players at this level would end up in the established professional leagues, as do the best college players today, many of whom barely masquerade as students.  Who is kidding whom?

A few years ago, Rutgers University had a very promising and talented quarterback who didn’t quite pan out and there was some conflict between him and the coach.  So after two years, he transferred out to the University of Arizona which had noted his talents and was willing to try him.  While "sitting out" a mandatory season because of the switch, he left Arizona too, because of a coaching change there.  He still had some college eligibility remaining though and I suppose that’s why Tom Savage is presently the starting quarterback at the University of Pittsburgh. 

  Savage runs and passes well

Someday he will make it big in the NFL. I hope so.  But as I said earlier, “who is kidding whom?”  What has this got to do with higher education in the United States?

Some say that big time college sports fund the entire physical education program at many schools and are thereby justified.  This money could be initially replaced by an ongoing flow of the money received from the sale of the stadiums and training facilities to the new “sports organizations,” which a college’s alumni might even informally adopt.  They might even have the same colors and a team name suggestive of the college or university which originally owned the stadium, but they would have nothing to do with that institution any longer.  Sounds pretty radical?  But we have to do it if we are to compete with countries where there is no Big 10 or SEC, no bowl games and the primary mission of all students is to study.

What about those not suited for college STEM curriculums or without the prowess to be hired by the proposed athletic organizations mentioned above?  That’s where community colleges and technical schools, coupled with apprenticeships in business and industry, can play a great role.  This is being done today in countries like Germany where well paying, lifetime jobs in industry are made available to promising secondary school students who then serve a paid apprenticeship after completing school.  And this also can be a back door to higher education, again in the STEM area, which such a student may not have qualified for a few years earlier.
Jack Lippman


 Sid Bolotin  (10-16-13)

In today’s news two girls, one fourteen, the other twelve were arrested and charged with bullying that caused another twelve year-old girl to commit suicide by jumping off a silo. The bullying was both physical and via social media. One of the tormenters is alleged to have posted on her Facebook page an admission to the bullying along with a callous, unremorseful comment that she didn’t give a fuck.

Upon learning of this my memory train began clickety-clacking back along the rails of my own experiences of being bullied when I was a youngster. Unlike today’s technology-prevalent world I was saved the intensity of bullying via the Internet. Even so, the pains of the memories caused me to have a visceral empathy with the victim’s torment that caused her to leap to her death at twelve-years old.

Physical bullying, emotional taunting, and insults written on school bathroom stalls are bad enough, I can only imagine the horror of exposure on the Internet to a world-wide audience that can post successive barbs. For the victim it must have been like a death by a thousand cuts.

All of us come into the world as blank slates, blobs of flesh needing to be taught personhood by our parents and the culture we happen to be born into. However each of us does contain an innate “something” that is our personal, unique, spiritual armature upon which the above teachings are hung…ala the wire armature upon which a sculptor hangs and shapes clay.

This was clearly evidenced to me by the recent birthing of thirteen puppies by my son’s Golden Retriever. At their birth they were virtually identical, moist, tiny, sightless, deaf blobs. Their only interest was survival via the struggle to get to one of mama’s ten teats. That meant that three were always left out. Their innate, individual determination combined with my son’s interventions evened out the sharing. Now that they’re five weeks old, their individual nature is clearly visible. Some are aggressive, some meek, some are bullies, and some are bullied.

And so it seems for humans too. We all know of biters in pre-school. We have all been witness to angry tots screaming “No! Mine!” when they’re clearly not the owner. How else to explain the senseless assaulting by the stronger upon the weaker? The well known book and film “Lord of the Flies” is a vivid example of this in children.

When Mother Teresa was once asked why she dedicated her life to the poor and needy of Calcutta, she is said to have replied, "Because I realized that I had a Hitler within me."  


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Jack Lippman