bank on students loan fairness act

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time – when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance

If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we’re just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.

All over the world there are enormous numbers of smart, even gifted, people who harbor a passion for science. But that passion is unrequited. Surveys suggest that some 95 percent of Americans are “scientifically illiterate.” That’s just the same fraction as those African Americans, almost all of them slaves, who were illiterate just before the Civil War—when severe penalties were in force for anyone who taught a slave to read. Of course there’s a degree of arbitrariness about any determination of illiteracy, whether it applies to language or to science. But anything like 95 percent illiteracy is extremely serious.

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

I don’t think science is hard to teach because humans aren’t ready for it, or because it arose only through a fluke, or because, by and large, we don’t have the brainpower to grapple with it. Instead, the enormous zest for science that I see in first-graders and the lesson from the remnant hunter-gatherers both speak eloquently: A proclivity for science is embedded deeply within us, in all times, places, and cultures. It has been the means for our survival. It is our birthright. When, through indifference, inattention, incompetence, or fear of skepticism, we discourage children from science, we are disenfranchising them, taking from them the tools needed to manage their future.

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

haruspicus  asked:

Regarding the Democratic Primaries and the legacy of the Obama Administration, do you really consider Obama the best president of the last 50 years? I'm down with incremental change, but from my -admittedly limited- perspective, Obama managed to squeeze by incredibly little, having been forced to play on the defensive by the Far Right, who continue to bully liberal politicians and keep a tremendously unfair status quo in place because the left remains steadfastly on the defensive.

I do indeed; in fact, I don’t think it’s even close. Who’s his competition? Bill Clinton’s Presidency pales before Obama’s, and if you gave the former truth serum, he’d admit it. Obama’s massively exceeded my expectations, and I’d go so far as to rank him in the top handful of Presidents, full stop. 

The ACA alone, and Obama’s heroic insistence on getting it passed even as his own administration and Party advised him to throw in the towel, puts him ahead of any President since LBJ at his peak. Then there’s the stimulus, which as well as saving the country from Great Depression-levels of unemployment, basically enacted the Liberal Wish List that neither Clinton nor Jimmy Carter were actually on board with. From infrastructure to education to above all the genuine revolution it unleashed in green energy, the stimulus had a gigantic impact at every level of American society, and we’re still feeling the ripple effects to this day. And, and, it was all paid for, on time, with virtually no graft, which is just staggering given its size and speed of its implementation. (Thank Joe Biden for that, as he was in charge.) 

Then there’s Dodd-Frank, the auto bailout, kicking the banks out of the student loan process, eliminating Bush’s restrictions on stem cell research, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Fair Sentencing Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Food Safety Modernization Act, the new START treaty, the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, two great SCOTUS Justices, vital tax breaks for the poor coupled with tax increases on the wealthy, just a flood of kickass regulations on issues ranging from power plants and fuel efficiency to tobacco and credit cards…Obama’s record of accomplishments is so broad and deep, I could honestly keep going for hours! But let me just point to three genuine historical landmarks from this past year, in three different corners of the globe: the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate treaty, and the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Taken together, that trio sums up the hope and change I had in mind.

And of course, he got all this done despite inheriting the worst mess facing any new President since FDR, while facing a vicious, relentless opposition that (as both Mitch McConnell and Rush Limbaugh inconveniently said out loud) cared more about bringing him down than fixing said mess. 

While Obama certainly has negatives on his record (especially on foreign policy), I think he has far fewer than any President since…fuck, I honestly can’t think of one! Even FDR had the Japanese internment camps and court-packing, and none of Obama’s mistakes come close to those two. He’s probably the straightest arrow we’ve ever had in the White House; his administration has been just ridiculously scandal-free, which is why the GOP latched so desperately onto the nothingburger that is Benghazi. 

Finally, some historical context: it’s easy to forget that FDR’s monolithic achievements (especially Social Security) were in fact iterative, incremental, and worked within existing institutions…just like Obama’s. This is what reform looks like. And let’s give Obama credit, he was very clear about that in his 2008 campaign. It’s not his fault so many of his supporters (and opponents) mistook him for a revolutionary instead of the reformer he is. 

It’s been really great to see in recent days a crystalline clarity capture the 2016 Democratic race: it’s about whether you consider the Obama Presidency a remarkable success that needs to be defended and expanded, or a sad corrupt failure that needs to be brushed aside. If you believe the former, you probably support Hillary; if you believe the latter, you probably support Bernie. I consider Barack Obama to be one of our greatest Presidents as well as my personal hero. As such, I’m all in on HRC.