27 February 2011

Were They Reading the Same Book?

When I was a child, and thought as a child, I read as a child, voraciously and without discrimination. The adventures of Freddy the Pig and his friends, the Dr. Dolittle stories, Pogo, Mad Magazine, and Sherlock Holmes, Charles Darwin and Samuel Johnson, Henry Kuttner and Willy Ley, Frank Edwards and Edith Nesbit, Middle Earth and Narnia, myths and legends of all nations—Greek, Norse, Sumerian, Judean, the matter of Britain, native American legends—it was all grist to my mill. I read quickly, taking in an ordinary volume in an hour or so, and having the sponge-like mind of a child, I absorbed all this crap with an ease and facility that I can only envy now, with my sixtieth birthday looming.

From somewhere I had an old King James Bible—this isn’t the one the Gideons gave me in sixth grade that I think I’ve written about elsewhere—that had endless stupid questions at the end that could supposedly be answered by cited Biblical verses. (One of my favorites was How can I know the Bible is true? which was answered by a string of verses, the compiler seemingly oblivious of the obvious difficulty of a book testifying to its own veracity.) I occasionally read some in it—the stories of Lot and Moses and Joshua and Samson come to mind—it never really interested me that much. The New Testament—Paul’s letters in particular—seemed so bizarre and alien to me that I never looked seriously at it. The title of one section—“Jesus curses a fig tree”—kind of summed up the thing for me. Baffling and pointless.

And I have to say that a lot of kids in my approximate age range wouldn’t have stuck it out as long as I did. The Bible is not really a kid-friendly book, especially the King James Version. (The Rheims-Douay translation, which my mother would let us borrow from her so long as we handled it with kid gloves, wasn’t any better as far as I could tell.)

Take the story of Lot, for example (Genesis 19). Recognizably an ancient variation on the tale of Baucis and Philemon, with two angels standing in for Zeus and Hermes, it was in every way inferior. (No self-refilling pitcher, for one thing.) Lot takes in two visitors whom he obviously recognizes as supernatural, from his behavior, “and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house, and he made them a feast…” For some reason the people of Sodom take offense at this and they “compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter.” They demand that Lot give them up to them, but Lot (and this is the verse that turned my stomach) offers instead his “two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes…” The citizens don’t go for it; they reiterate their demand for the strangers and for Lot as well, at which point the two angels solve the problem by striking the citizens blind. (Well, as Mark Twain might have observed, they were angels, and didn’t know any better.) They then warn Lot to get the hell out of Sodom, as they’re going to destroy it, and he does, and they do, hurling brimstone and fire on it and on Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim as well, apparently through guilt by association. (Hermes and Zeus at least drowned only the city that had shown them no hospitality, rather than burning to death everybody in the surrounding countryside.) Warned not to look back, Lot’s unnamed wife does so anyway and is turned into a pillar of salt. (Baucis and Philemon at least got to live out the rest of their lives before being turned into trees.) And then, to cap it all off, Lot’s two daughters get their father drunk so they can have sex with him, and so become the ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites.

There’s no entertainment here, nothing edifying, nothing thought-provoking—it’s just garbage. And generally this was true across the board—Moses competing with the Egyptian magicians to show Pharaoh who could do the best magic tricks, Elijah’s lame stunt of pouring “water” from prepared jugs onto wood before “miraculously” igniting it, David’s sending a man out to be killed in battle so he can steal his wife, Solomon’s foolish and wasteful expenditures on his house and temple at the expense of his people (who promptly rebelled the moment he was out of the way), the thoroughly disgusting story of Samson, which has not one redeeming feature from one end to the other—it was all of a likeness to Jesus using his magic powers to curse a fig tree for not producing figs—out of season. What a bunch of thugs, con-men, and out-and-out bastards.

Which is why, when I read a statement like
…all must concede that the Bible presents the grandest characters in all history, and that through an acquaintance with those characters, gained in their daily school life, pupils may be stimulated to emulate them
I have to wonder, are they reading the same book?

25 February 2011

Quotation of the Day

Tax breaks for the wealthy add to deficits, don’t create jobs, won’t help in this economy, only serve ideological goals, and they weaken the middle class.

23 February 2011

You Could Look It Up

Historical ignorance abounds. One writer accuses a US president of hypocrisy on the basis of a political slogan that actually was used against him by his opponents. Yikes! Another blames the deaths of native Americans on their failure to convert to Christianity, using as an example native Americans who actually had converted—and were slaughtered anyway. Oops. And another chastises a fellow writer for his ignorance of history while attributing things to James Madison and Patrick Henry that they never said. Awkward.

Yeah. A little research could save a lot of embarrassment. Take the writer (me, actually) who incorrectly attributed the slogan “Fifty-four forty or fight” to the election campaign of James K. Polk. Polk may well be an underrated president (I think so anyway), but I don’t have to like the guy, and the hypocrisy of running on a slogan he never intended to carry out fit well with my theme of the moment. For those whose history is a bit rusty, Polk's the guy who staved off a two-front war against Britain to the north and Mexico to the south by adroitly compromising with the one side while starting a just war with the other to gain for the nation much of the far west, including the future states of Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona. The original dark horse candidate, he included the “reoccupation” of Oregon country as a plank in his expansionist platform, but left it vague as to what, exactly, Oregon country consisted of. Britain generally felt the Columbia River should be the boundary; expansionists in the US supported a northern boundary at 54 degrees 40 minutes, while Polk, seemingly, thought extending the line along the 49th parallel out to the Pacific was a reasonable compromise. Not everybody was happy with this idea; hence the slogan “Fifty-four-forty or fight” floated in the mid-term elections by unhappy opponents. Somewhere along the line this slogan got attributed to Polk, and a misconception was born. Despite not-so-recent debunkings older textbooks and those of us who learned from them continue the mistake. I could have looked it up, I suppose—but I was on a roll, and why let research spoil a perfectly good chance to make an ass of myself?

It was one Bryan Fischer who recently wrote a column defending genocide, and in the course of arguing that native Americans were morally unfit to inhabit the land, claimed that they got what was coming to them by failing to follow George Washington’s advice to convert to Christianity. This is essentially the same “moral unfitness” argument employed by so many frontier types and apostles of Manifest Destiny in the nineteenth century to justify extermination, with the Biblical example of Yahweh’s orders to destroy the Canaanites always lurking in the background. Hey, if God approves, it’s got to be okay, right? So following in that tradition Fischer blames the native Americans for their extermination by Euro-Americans, citing their refusal “to leave behind their superstition and occult practices for the light of Christianity and civilization” as justification for genocide. Speaking of the Lenape chiefs who petitioned Congress in 1782, Fischer claims “They rejected Washington’s direct counsel ... ‘You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ.’” Extermination was the consequence. Now I’ve written about this episode elsewhere, but the thing is, Fischer has got it about as wrong as it is possible to get it. Washington was not advising them, but commending them; the Moravian Brethren had set up a mission amongst the Lenape and many had converted. And what happened to those Lenape steeped in the religion of Jesus Christ? Well, actually, they were the ones who got murdered by a gang of Revolutionary War era militia. You could look it up—but maybe that would get in the way of a good diatribe.

And back last June or so one Jonathan Fickley of Chatanooga—who may teach American History there, if it’s the same person as the guy mentioned herewrote very confidently about the faith of the Founders, decrying “people [who] speak about things that they know nothing about”. He rattled off a string of alleged quotations including a mangled Franklin and a Jefferson frankenquote including among them the fake Henry “religionists” quotation and this doozy allegedly from James Madison:
Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.
Now this anti-education sentence has been kicking around since at least 1844 (see here for details) and is usually attributed either to John Witherspoon or Jonathan Dickinson, both presidents of Princeton University. I hope for the credit of either that neither actually said it, or perhaps were in jest, but in any case it is not until very recently that anybody attributed it to Madison—apparently on the grounds that as Madison attended Princeton, anything its president said could be attributed to him as well. Or something. “Please read again Patrick Henry’s quote,” Fickley wrote with overweening pride. “My advice to you is do not challenge people to research history of the founding fathers about Christianity to prove some anti-Christian bogus nonsense. Their own words repudiate your argument.” Oh, man—Henry’s quote? You gotta be kidding. That thing shows its bogosity every which way from Sunday. You could have looked it up—but why waste a good chance to display your own ignorance while chastising somebody else for his?

Now being careless, or foolish, or ignorant may not be crimes as such, but with the resources of the internet at our fingertips, what does a little research actually cost? Even ten years ago fact-checking often involved trips to libraries or other record repositories, long-distance phone calls, inter-library loan requests, and the like. Sometimes it still does. But often a quick trip to a search engine is all it takes to dispel some misconception, or verify some detail. It is possible to look these things up. Maybe you can’t be right all the time—but you can avoid many a baseless accusation, or idiotic claim, or piece of foolish posturing. And frankly, can’t we all do with a bit less of these things? I like to think so, anyway.

21 February 2011

Impossible to Verify

I stumbled onto an internet meme involving an odd use of the phrase “natural history” that led me here, to a weblog entry entitled simply “Natural History is Not Science” by somebody calling himself Dr. David Shormann. The piece turns out to be the usual claptrap about how geology and astronomy and the like are “interesting, fun, and adventure-filled pursuit[s]” but not “real science” because you can’t examine a supernova in a laboratory or watch the continents drift in real time or whatever the nonsense of the day is—as it’s retread stuff I didn’t really pay attention. The thing that did catch my attention, however, was the author’s bizarre claim that it is impossible to ever verify a historical event. Speaking about the past he says “you can theorize all day long, but unless you have a time machine, you can never verify your ideas”.

WTF? Where’d that come from? Of course you can verify your ideas—or disprove them, for that matter. Here’s an example from something I’m working on right now. I have a narrative in front of me, a narrative that purports to be the true story of a man’s life in nineteenth century America. It has some quite interesting material in it, if true. But is it? According to Dr. David Shormann there is no way on earth that I can determine this, since I don’t happen to have a time machine. I guess I just have to take it at face value.

Or do I? The author claims to have been raised by a man named Drake on a farm adjoining the land owned by former President Andrew Jackson. No way I can test this, right? Think again. Our narrator supposedly lived there from say 1836 to 1847. This means that if I look at the 1840 census I should find an entry for a man named Drake somewhere near the entry for Andrew Jackson, and there should be at least one male inhabitant in the correct age range for our narrator. Finding that would tend to confirm our narrative; not finding it to disconfirm. (No evidence of this sort of course proves or disproves a claim; proof belongs to logic and mathematics, not to history.) There was no such man, by the way, not a good sign.

Our narrator claims to have met Kit Carson in a St. Louis hotel in 1847, and to have accompanied him thereafter to Bent’s Fort in Colorado. Well, Kit Carson’s activities are well-documented for this time-period. If the narrative were true we would expect to find other records of Kit Carson staying at a St. Louis hotel, and leaving town with a fifteen-year-old boy in tow. The records do indicate that Carson was in St. Louis in 1847, but he stayed at a private residence, not a hotel, and he went from there to Arizona with an army regiment and went on from there to California—not to Bent’s Fort. And no fifteen-year-old boy puts in an appearance. Not conclusive, but a bad sign.

Again, he claims to have bought land on the Sacramento River and ranched there from 1867 to 1872. If he did, there should be a title transfer recorded in the land records there (and there isn’t). And he should have shown up in Sonoma county or thereabouts in the 1870 census. Instead he shows up in that census at the opposite end of the state, in Santa Barbara county, landless and breaking horses for a living.

And again he spent time in the 1860s fighting the Apaches with General Crook—when General Crook according to army records, newspaper accounts, and a host of other documents was fighting the Shoshones in Idaho. He was the scout who brought in the Modoc leader Captain Jack in 1873 according to his own account—but reporters on the scene make no mention of him, assigning that feat to a regular army detachment, assisted possibly by some Warm Springs Indians. This is supported by the military records, by recollections of participants, and by contemporary references, none of which so much as allude to our narrator’s participation in events.

Now, not everything in this guy’s narrative failed to pan out. He claims for example to have been in Seattle in 1888, and sure enough, his name appears there in the city directory, just as it should. He claimed to have known Buffalo Bill Cody—and there are witnesses who saw Buffalo Bill embrace him and give him a seat of honor when he showed up as an old man at one of his wild west shows. But when so many records of the time fail to bear out his story, or worse yet, place him elsewhere from the place he claimed to have been, it’s impossible to take his account very seriously.

My point is this: contrary to Dr. Shormann’s claims, it is entirely possible to verify, or to controvert, historical hypotheses. Police investigators do it every day. So do epidemiologists. Realtors. Lawyers. Accountants. It’s part and parcel of the way we do business in the world. And we don’t need time machines to do it.

20 February 2011

Lameass Greeting Card Alert

Here’s an e-card to send to that special someone you never want to hear from again (be warned; clicking on this link will start an idiotic recitation playing over your computer’s speakers). Entitled “We Need God in America, Again” and written by somebody called simply “Carmen” it shamelessly plagiarizes that demented internet bagatelle often referred to as “Forsaken Roots” or “History Forgotten” to produce the following gems attributed to various founders:
Our country was founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.—Patrick Henry
Fake. As mentioned here till you’re no doubt sick of it, first written in 1956 in The Virginian.
We’ve staked our future on our ability to follow the 10 commandments, with all our heart.—James Madison
Even faker. The original fake didn’t have any of this “with all our heart” stuff; this is a fake version of a fake quotation.
You can’t have national morality apart from religious principle.—George Washington
Actually it was the Reverend E. B. Webb who said that “There is no national morality apart from religious principle.” What Washington said in his farewell address was “…reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle,” which is the text Webb was paraphrasing.
The philosophy of the school room, in one generation, will be the philosophy of government in the next.—Abraham Lincoln
Another fake, probably. At least nobody has ever been able to find where ol’ Honest Abe actually said it, or anything much like it.

And this is the crop—not a genuine quotation in the bunch. And these rags are stitched together with the worst kind of blood-and-semen-drenched jibberjabber: “rape and murder are the trend” in our public schools while “Every day, a new holocaust of 5,000 unborn die”. “[P]ornography floods our streets” and “the spirit of Sodom and Gomorra” runs amok alongside “the blood bought saints of the living God” waiting for “Jesus Christ [to come] back again, in all His glory” to “send this evil lifestyle back to Satan” because “History tells us … to live like there is no God makes you a fool” and “Astrology won’t save you”. The only solution to America’s problems is “stop handing out condoms and start handing out the word of God in schools”; that should take care of America’s high teenage pregnancy rate [which has actually been declining since the mid-fifties] and its low literacy rate [apparently the author has never looked at the literacy rates in such places as Chad, Niger, or Afghanistan].

Reading this gilded cat-vomit makes me wonder something: where was this Carmen educated? If this combination of mendacity and ignorance is a product of America’s public schools, then, yeah, it’s obviously time for an overhaul. The disinfectant of critical thinking would be more to the point than more religious hogwash—does this character really suppose that handing out Korans or Books of Mormon or whatever is actually going to help somehow in this dire situation? Especially with all those spirits and saints and whatnot wandering around loose like a scene out A Christmas Carol. Maybe Kool-Aid™’s the real answer for you, eh, Carmen? I’m just saying.

18 February 2011

Quotation of the Day

And that is how conservatism continues. Not with some principled stand for The Way Things Were, but with an unprincipled demand for things that comfort the comfortable and protect the already-safe, all justified post hoc by insistence that this is “tradition.”

10 February 2011

Staggering through Sheol

Yeah, it’s that time of year. Sheol. The pits. Cold, nasty, empty and bleak. There’s something about the light, I think. The days are cut to fall-length, but they have a hollow slant not shared by the October sun. They’re getting longer, and that’s the hope of it all, but the sunlight is cold and barren, and new buds are as likely to be stillborn by frost as to reach full bloom.

It’s been a nasty and unpleasant day in some respects, with more notices fastened to our door by unseen lurkers, harbingers of some vague and nameless doom. There’s nothing to do, apparently, but fax them to our lawyer, and hope that he knows what he’s doing. But the threats upset me, as they are intended to do, and another day’s work goes down the drain. If I could put a face to the faceless—well, let’s just say that that person would find him- or her-self faceless in a way very different from that comfortable anonymity that allows a corporate functionary to steal the effort of a lifetime from a real person with lies and false promises.

I’m not interested in excuses. There’re a lot of people out there who are only doing their jobs. And like the people who were just following orders, they should not be surprised when reality turns and bites them. To paraphrase Pseudo-Burke, the hottest fires in hell are reserved for those who were only doing their jobs.

To distract myself from all this I’ve been burying myself in an old project, my New Testament translation. I’ve tried to eschew all fanciful translations—none of this “he ascended into heaven” stuff when the Greek says “he went up into the sky.” Some words defy translation—baptism, spirit/wind/breath, kingdom, and the like—reflections of a world categorized in such a different fashion from current understandings that any modern translation inevitably falsifies the meaning. Do I turn “slave” into “servant” like the KJV, or render it as “employee” or the like? It seems to me that a modern corporation has a lot more in common with the hierarchical “kingdom of heaven” envisioned by the NT writers—a sort of vast ante-bellum plantation with Yahweh as the nearly absent slaveowner—than any governmental structure familiar to modern Americans. Decisions, decisions.

Well, anyway, it’s late, and the old Rational Ranter’s got to get up tomorrow and start packing. No point leaving things to the last minute, right? And I can always unpack if the storm clouds lift.

09 February 2011

Voice Fiddle and Flute No Longer Be Mute

I see in the world at large that some pop singer is in trouble for mangling the US national anthem at a major sporting event. To be honest I’m not quite clear on who exactly Christina Aguilera is—an ex-Mouseketeer or something?—or what is the significance of the Superbowl in American culture. Early twenty-first century US history is way outside my field of study. Still, however, no matter my level of incompetency, I feel a few observations are in order.

We don’t really require much of a national anthem. It should be singable by the average untrained citizen, for one thing—no difficult intervals, range not much more than an octave, no tricky chord changes—and the words should be relatively simple. It should sound reasonably decent whether sung a cappella or played by a military brass band. It should invite people to sing along with it. “Paint it Black” would make a good national anthem.

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” however, fails on all counts. The music, with its octave-and-a-half range, seems made for the unearthly banshee howls of a theremin rather than a normal human voice, and the words are impenetrable in their obscurity. “Oh, say, can you see by the dawn’s early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming, whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, o’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?” Try diagramming that sentence sometime. Hey, now that the sun’s come up, can you still see the stars and stripes flying? You know, that thing we saluted so proudly last night and saw glimpses of it streaming over the ramparts while we watched the battle last night? That thing? Is it still there?

I mean, it must have been one hell of a moving moment for Mr. F. S. Key, held prisoner on a British ship till the battle ended, to “see by the dawn’s early light” that the American flag was still flying over Ft. McHenry, showing that the British attack had failed and at least for the moment the city of Baltimore had not fallen. But you had to be there. What does the defense of Ft. McHenry mean to a twenty-first century American citizen? Not much, apparently—as the first draft of a film presentation that escaped into the interwebs showed. Its author apparently thought that Ft. Henry (as he called it) was under attack during the Revolutionary War, not the misnamed War of 1812. The ace researcher whose account he used failed on even the simplest of facts.

And not to put too fine a point on it, Key himself doesn’t seem to have taken the thing too seriously. His piece was a double-retread—not only was the melody an old English drinking song (“To Anacreon in Heav’n”) but the words were recycled from an earlier song he’d written about the return of Stephen Decatur from the war with the Barbary pirates:
In the conflict resistless, each toil they endured,
’Till their foes fled dismayed from the war’s desolation;
And pale beamed the Crescent, its splendor obscured
By the light of the Star Spangled flag of our nation.
Where each radiant star gleamed a meteor of war,
And the turbaned heads bowed to its terrible glare,
Now, mixed with the olive, the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brows of the brave.
Same tune, same star-spangled flag, same rhyming of wave with brave. Originality clearly was not Key’s strong suit.

And, you know, revisiting Key’s published output, I’m struck by one thing. To describe Key as a mediocre poet would be wrong. No, not just wrong—it would be a flat-out lie. It would be such over-the-top flattery that even Donald Rumsfeld would choke on the bald-faced mendacity of it. Key was a wretched poet. Not as bad as Edward de Vere, the seventeenth earl of Oxford, perhaps the brass-standard of wretched poets, but a vile wordsmith from the same misbegotten tribe. Sham religiosity, pedantry, forced rhymes, pedestrian observations—gack. Consider the eighth and final quatrain of his exquisite “To a Rose-Bud”:
Then haste, and when, with anxious step,
Thy growth to mark, I next shall walk,
Then let me see thy blushing head
Bend with its dewy weight thy stalk.
Or here’s Key apparently channeling the spirit of a backwoods pre-Victorian schoolgirl:
Farewell, ye once delightful scenes! farewell!
No more your charms can soothe my aching heart;
These long-drawn sighs, these flowing tears, can tell
How much I grieve, sweet scenes! from you to part.
[—opening verse of “Stanzas”]
And here’s Key picturing some joyous future scene when the deaf will finally hear:
They shall hear the trumpet’s fearful blast,
And the crash of the rending tomb,
And the sinner’s cry of agony,
As he wakes to his dreaded doom.
[—from “Lines Given to William Darlington, a Deaf and Dumb Boy”]
I bet the deaf kid could hardly wait for that moment. Seriously, this is our best? In a country that boasts the likes of Carl Sandburg and Wallace Stevens, this incompetent hack is our National Lyricist? And as for the music—again, in the land of Charles Ives, Duke Ellington, and Kurt Cobain we have to fall back on a tune written by John Stafford Smith, a composer who is not only obscure, but British to boot?

Who picked this thing, anyway? Wasn’t that John Philip Sousa, composer of “The Stars and Stripes Forever” and other patriotic marches? Why the hell didn’t he write something himself? At the very least it would pass the brass band test.

It’s not like we don’t have a wealth of patriotic songs to choose from. What about “My Country ’Tis of Thee?” It’s singable, anyway. Okay, the lyrics suck and the tune is the British anthem “God Save the King”, but even so it’s better than what we got stuck with. And there’s “America the Beautiful”, right? Samuel Ward’s music is reasonably melodic, and not too hard for the average voice to wrap itself around. But the words…
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
Yeah, there’s an image to conjure with. If human beings aren’t weeping, who, or what is, in these alabaster cities? Crocodiles? Okay, how about Julia Ward Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic”?
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.”
Say, what? That’s pretty strange stuff coming from a Unitarian, not hardly PC at all. And way too much God for our modern secular state. But it's stirring, you gotta admit.

Or we could consider Woody Guthrie’s paean to mindless greed, “This Land Was Made for You and Me”. Or Israel Baline’s trite but reliable “God Bless America.” They're both noted for their sing-along qualities at any rate. I mean, there are other possibilities.

I’ll give you one example. It’s singable, it passes the brass band test, it’s got eagles flying and freedom ringing and all that good stuff.
To hear the sound of freedom many gave their lives;
They fought for you and me.
Those memories will always live inside us,
And now it’s our time to be free.

Where the eagles fly I will soon be there.
If you want to come along with me my friend,
Say the words and you’ll be free
From the mountains to the sea
We’ll fight for freedom again.
Okay, maybe it sounds a bit more like an air force recruiting song than a patriotic hymn, but what about it? Anyone for Manowar?

06 February 2011

Quotation of the Day

I must say here that few if any in the Founding era gave a good goddam what John Adams thought or said after the Revolutionary period, when he was a mover & shaker.

You could look it up. Nobody quoted him, and his master monographs like [A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States] were largely ignored.

I like him as an inquisitive mind of the Founding era more than the Founding era itself did; it found him annoying, which he was, and voted him out of the presidency as soon as possible, America’s first one-term president. … He is alleged to be a “key” Founder. Feh. John Adams was the first Irrelevant Man, the GeorgeHWBush41 of his day. They couldn’t wait to be rid of him.

03 February 2011

Quotation of the Day

…[D]oughnuts, even Spudnuts, don’t come close to the movement to improve American education inspired by the Soviet launch of Sputnik. From just getting history horribly in error, Palin came close to ridiculing American business with her idea of meeting the challenges like space exploration, with doughnuts and coffee. Doughnuts and coffee will not lift student test scores, nor are they the answer to lifting our economy today and keeping the U.S. competitive and on top, in the future.
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