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Open Thread for Night Owls
It's the season for making fun of state GOP party platforms (actually, the season lasts about a year, so we're well into it); the latest contribution to face national ridicule is from the Texas Republican Party [PDF]. In general, it is par for the course, containing demands to return to the gold standard, ban income taxes, ban most other taxes, ban corporate taxes, hand Social Security over to for-profit corporations, eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency, eliminating the Department of Energy, eliminating the Department of Education, and, let's say, the demand that each village in the land send one virgin a year to be sacrificed in the name of Chuck, God of Thunder and Fossil Fuels. How any of this counts as "conservative" I will leave to more capable minds than mine, since I have long since lost any ability to differentiate between "conservatism" and neo-feudalism or the like.

In a national movement where Batshit Crazy has come to be an outright requirement for higher office, however, sometimes it is the little things that stand out the most. The whole platform was clearly written by whichever small group of Republicans won the Texas annual Batshit Crazy Ron Paul Memorial Thunderdome-Off and Barbeque Weekend competition; even the font they chose to print it in seems a little off—no doubt because serifs are probably French. There are a few sentences about opposing czars, which only became a thing because some Republican somewhere, in the aftermath of the Obama election, decided that calling a passel of assorted, previously uncontroversial bureaucrats czars was now an abomination unto liberty. A bit of Tenth Amendment preening, a random aside declaring that they "strongly oppose" making the District of Columbia a state or otherwise giving it Congressional representation, a truly massive section opposing abortion, contraception, stem cell research and the like, and so on, and so on.

This one's good:

Germane Contents Requirement — All content of any bill must be germane to the title of the act.
Not only am I for that one, I think it should be backed up by the death penalty. There is a limit to how many anti-environmental bills should be passed off under names like the We Love Jesus Happy Puppy Act, or how many pro-Bush-Tax-cut bills really should be titled Anyone Voting Against This Is Objectively Pro-Terrorist. But I think they may want to have a talk with John Boehner about those things before enshrining them into law (if it were enshrined into law, no doubt the name of the bill would be the Anti-Terrorism Freedom Jesus Apple Pie Hand-Knitted-Sweater Act, because that's how Congress rolls).
Flag Code — The U.S. flag code should be made into Law and not left to the sole discretion of the President.
I see the flag you glued to your tailgate isn't lit up at night, my ostentatiously patriotic neighbor. Sorry, but it's Gitmo for you.
Human Trafficking ― The Republican Party of Texas adamantly opposes any form of human trafficking.
Um, all right. Good to know.

(Keep reading below the fold.)

It is the planks dealing with children, however, that seem especially odd. A demand that no person convicted of child abuse be granted custody or adoption of a child is followed later on by steadfast support of corporal punishment in schools, followed once again by a demand that all "official entities" be prevented from "detaining, questioning and/or disciplining our children" without parental consent. Sex education is summarily dispensed with: We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until marriage, which one can only presume precludes so much as a peep in regards to the whole "how your body works" or "why have I suddenly started bleeding, and am I going to die?" conversations.

Then there is this:

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
Which have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. I think we've found our new czar-level threat to America, right there. It is touch and go to oppose "critical thinking skills and similar programs"—granted, there are a great many "educational" programs that are flawed to one degree or another—but supposing the whole concept of critical thinking skills in general to be "behavior modification" programs, and to further suppose them to be a sinister plot to undermine parental authority, apparently because parental authority and critical thinking skills cannot possibly coexist in the same family ... I think that safely counts as a missive sent from the other side of the looking glass.

I admit it; teaching critical thinking skills is a liberal plot. I long for a day when every student in America, after some fateful day in which they have put their hand onto a red-hot stove burner, thinks to themselves, "Hmm, perhaps I should not have fucking done that." I dream of a land in which young people frolic, play, and observe that if they have ten dollars and spend eight dollars, they no longer have ten dollars. When someone makes an offer to their future selves that seems to good to be true, whether it be free candy in their van or tax cuts that magically make jobs rain down from the sky, I would be quite happy if they were to take a moment out of their day to determine if perhaps, just perhaps, the other person is not being honest with them.

Critical thinking, of course, is what allows a person to differentiate between fact and hokum. I will assume that this is the peeve being addressed by the party plank (which, as it turns out, doubles as a handy paddlin' board). Differentiating between fact and hokum sounds all fine and good until it leads to questioning your elders. When elders spout hokum, now that needs to be properly respected. If your elders say the Loch Ness Monster is proof that evolution never happened and that Noah's Ark was actually a hovercraft, you had better damn well not start using your newfound critical thinking skills on picking apart that. Believing something contrary to your parents counts as behavior modification only if the original behavior was a full-on brainwashing.

Then there is challenging the student's fixed beliefs. Would not that be, say, all of education? When my daughter was very young, she believed the moon to be closer to the earth than Los Angeles was to San Francisco. I did not threaten to upend the local school system if they attempted to teach my child otherwise, but apparently I should have. Does it apply to math problems, I wonder? If a child responds to a multiplication problem by declaring that their parents believe the answer to all multiplication problems to be "eleventeen," does the entire district have to revise their textbooks, or just that one school? I must confess I never even thought of challenging my student's fixed beliefs as being a scandalous activity—I had just assumed that it was a natural part of the learning process. Now, however, we learn that the whole process of thinking for oneself at all is a risky and un-American activity. Holy hell, I had no idea.

Sometimes it is the little things that grate the most. Conservative calls to abolish all federal educational programs are commonplace enough to no longer shock. Hearing the conservative notions of what education would entail once the rest was gutted, though, makes things a bit clearer. Our children have been living under the dark tyranny of potentially learning things about the world that their parents do not know or did not wish to teach them; while it has been a damn fine thing for thousands of years of human progress, we must call it off now, because the Republican parents of Texas do not approve.

Under the ancient versions of the Texas platform, then, the first primitive man to cook meat in a fire ought not have been feted, but instead beaten with a stick. It is best not to challenge your elders' fixed beliefs, after all, especially when they have made it clear that they will use corporal punishment to stop you.

And, by the way, the first primitive man did not exist. The Loch Ness Monster provides sufficient proof of that.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2007:

OK, so the subpoenas have been issued:
The Senate subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office Wednesday, demanding documents and elevating the confrontation with President Bush over the administration's warrant-free eavesdropping on Americans.

Besides issuing the subpoenas, the Senate Judiciary Committee also is summoning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to discuss the program and an array of other matters that have cost a half-dozen top Justice Department officials their jobs, committee chairman Patrick Leahy announced.

What happens if the White House and the VP tell Congress to go Cheney itself?

Essentially, the Senate's options for dealing with non-compliance are:

1. Move to hold the targets of the subpoenas in statutory contempt of Congress
2. Move to hold the targets in inherent contempt of Congress
3. Extend the deadline for compliance and make threats regarding either #1 or #2 above
4. Come to some negotiated settlement with the "administration" -- i.e., closed door, no transcript testimony, limited document release, etc.
5. Do nothing, complain loudly about obstructionism, stonewalling, and lawlessness, and hope that voters elect Democrats in 2008, because Republicans are so nasty
6. Ask the House to impeach

Tweet of the Day:

And the Democrats voting against Holder because of the NRA? I guess they really do need artificial penises.
@anamariecox via TweetDeck

Tune in Monday to Friday from 9-11 AM ET for Daily Kos Radio, hosted by David Waldman a/k/a KagroX.

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Today's show featured a visit from DemFromCt, making the first of what we hope will be a regular series of visits to talk us through the day's polling. Joining us toward the end of the show was Meteor Blades, plus of course Armando, to talk about the economic outlook, jobs numbers, defense spending, the threat of sequestration, etc. I also hit the stories of the primary election defeat of Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK-01), which matters because he's got a bit of a history of Teh Crazy; the gun lobby's curious interest in the Holder contempt of Congress vote; and I tried to get started with Ministry of Truth (aka Jesse LaGreca) on the motherlode of nuttiness that is the Texas Republican Party Platform for 2012. We ran into some technical difficulties and time constraints, but I can pretty much promise you that Texas is gonna stay crazy long enough for us to get back to that. You can listen to the podcast of today's show here.

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