Scott versus Scott

Welcome to our blog. Here we will debate the days most serious topics and allow users the chance to discuss the topics as well. The range of topics will vary, but one thing will remain certain, the debate will rage on. Scott Lesinski is a proud conservative and Scott Jones is a proud liberal. However, the roles will switch on some topics. Stay tuned.

Scott Lesinski is currently an actuarial associate for a large human resources and insurance consulting firm in Saint Louis. He is also an avid student of US history and enjoys following current events, with an eye to their contextual relationship to the past. He is also, in fact, a former student of Mr. Scott Jones. Scott is working toward his FSA credentials, which is akin to earning a PHD in Actuarial Science.

Scott Jones is currently a high school social studies teacher at a high school in suburban St. Louis, MO. He teaches World History, AP American Government and Senior American Foreign Policy. He has a BS. Ed. (Secondary Social Studies) from the University of Missouri - Columbia and a M.A. (History) from Southeast Missouri State University. He is currently working on a dissertation in character education to earn a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Is Texas Synonymous With Today's Conservatism?

USA Today (Monday, April 12, 2010) featured a debate on education on its editorial page (9A). It was fairly revealing and also of no small concern to those of us who believe that our country guarantees certain freedoms to each citizen, including freedom of religion. It was no accident that Thomas Jefferson insisted upon "separation of church and state" as a condition for the new nation he helped form.

It was this very dedication to separation of church and state, (especially if the religion were not the old-fashioned Judaeo-Christian ethic to which the founding fathers ascribed), that has caused old Tom (Jefferson, that is) to fall in esteem in the Lone Star State.

The state of Texas---or, rather, we should say the Texas Board of Education---is intent on demoting Thomas Jefferson as a historical figure, precisely because he believed in separation of church and state, and, in a not-unrelated move, promoting Jefferson Davis, the president of the failed Confederate states who led the South into a Civil War that left over 600,000 dead.

None of the members of the Texas Board of Education are historians or even scholars, but members like Gail Lowe, its President, and Don McLeroy, a former member and former chairman of the Texas Board of Education, believe that it would be good if text books sang the praises of Jefferson Davis, downplayed the influence and importance of former President (and renowned intellectual) Thomas Jefferson. In areas like arts and literature the school board has discounted social influences like hip hop music deeming it "offensive," but they have given the green light for textbooks to include information on the importance of country and western music.

Even semantics rears its ugly head. "Capitalism" as a term is not okay, but is to be replaced by "free enterprise system." In a thinly veiled jab at President Obama's attempts to try to overhaul our health care system for the benefit of all Americans, former Texas Board President Don McLeroy said, "The left's principles are diametrically opposed to our founding principles. The left believes in big, not limited, government; they empower the state, not the individual; they focus on differences, not unity. This divide was clearly exposed on March 23, 2010, as the left celebrated health reform that Vice President Biden said 'charts a fundamentally different course for the country'---an unmistakable rejection of Jefferson's original course."

But---wait a minute---Jefferson is "wrong" when he maintains the importance of the separation of church and state, but "right" when he wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights"?

Apparently, all men are created equal and have rights unless they are hip-hop artists. The game plan for the Sarah Palin-led Tea Party-ers for 2012 becomes increasingly more transparent. Rail against Obama's health care reforms. Be "against" anything that represents progress for the United States to (finally) take its place amongst other nations that offer their citizens health care. Obama knows it, too, and, in Iowa City at a speech at the Fieldhouse, said, "Bring it on." This troubles me, as I remember the last time a president uttered those pugnacious words, and I didn't like what happened next.

I am reminded of a discussion I had with an English-speaking native of Switzerland inside the press tent at the Belmont Town Hall meeting. He could not understand how a country as great and as prosperous as the United States of America could think it was "right" to have so many citizens with no health care of any kind. I had no good response for him, but perhaps Don McLeroy could have spouted a bit more of the bilge I fear will be in ample supply come election year 2012.

It's one thing to be backwards and indoctrinated and closed-minded and so Old School that you cannot admit that some of the things that are being done under an admittedly left-leaning President are for the best (nuclear arms treaties that caution against the use of such dooms-day weapons).

But it's another thing entirely to be so Old School that---[no matter how telling the argument and how common sense the outcome, you protest and disagree, either politely or with bull-horns and through the person of bearded men in overalls who hold up pictures of our president depicted as Hitler]---you purposely influence the education of innocent school children who deserve to have a history book that gives an objective look at history.

Yes, this is "just Texas,"---now--- but with a 2 to 1 board majority leaning right ("In your heart you know they're right....far right") to quote USA Today: "Because of Texas' massive presence in the textbook market nationwide, the state board's idiosyncratic view of history is likely to show up in what's taught in schools across the USA for the next decade."

That is a truly scary thought. And it is completely unfair to the next generation of Americans.


  1. One more thing, the Texas School Board further mandated that any teaching of the Civil Rights Movement in the last half of the Twentieth Century must also include the Black Panthers.


    One of the things that teachers do (and all historians for that matter) is make judgments as to the winners and losers in history in the name of human progress. This is why the Black Panthers have been marginalized in the United States history classroom. Their motives and outcomes have been discredited as Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders have been chosen the winners of the movement.

    This is no different than any other topic we teach in the classroom. Take for instance the Loyalists in the American War for Independence. In the US History classroom (where it is taught as the American Revolution), these people are marginalized, if not completely forgotten. Even the tar and feathering of these people is seen as a forgivable sin by the colonists because their goal was acceptable.

    Try to find a good book on the loyalists during the American Revolution.

    No different than the teaching of the French Revolution in our world history classrooms. Those loyal to King Louis XVI are not part of the curriculum. Again, try to find a good book on the loyalists to Louis (and no biographies of Louis XVI count here).

    The only reason to include the Black Panthers is to make black people and the civil rights movement look bad. Elevate Jefferson Davis and lower the civil rights movement.

    And conservatives wonder why liberals think the tea party movement is a racist movement.

  2. Hey Scott, welcome back to the blog. I hope all is going well enough as can be expected for you.

    Interesting topic, I did read something about this when the decision came down from the Texas School Board. I don't have a bunch of time right now to research, but let me theorize on TJ.

    First, I'm not sure to what extent you claim he is being marginalized here. I hold to the evaluation that his now-infamous "separation of church and state" statement has long been abused by members of the Left to claim that this founder was on the side of the ACLU when it comes to the total eradication of anything religious whatsoever from anything public.

    It is my understanding that Jefferson (Tom) was a proponent of religion...just of a very bland version. He and the other founders didn't want government establishing a religion, but I have a hard time believing - based on what I've learned about him - that he would have been such a hard core anti-religionist to coin a phrase.

    So I'd like to find out more about the specifics of what's going in and coming out of text books.

    As far as Jefferson Davis goes, the same thing needs to be said. I don't know - in what way is TX adding him in? He ought to be there some -- during the discussion of the 1850-1865 era, but just what is being added?

    The way I understood this schoolboard's ruling, it seemed much more emphasis was going to be placed on the founders themselves, something I would find incredibly important. I've long said that Harriet Tubman was a great woman and did some very important things for the anti-slavery movement, but as a second-grader I distinctly remember spending weeks on a unit about her and I honestly could not have told you the first 5 Presidents... Which is more important?

    This gets into a discussion of our historical and civil education that has slowly been eroding over time (say, the past 60 years or so). You would agree that the educational emphasis has not been in the area of civics, historical context, American values from the viewpoints of the founding, etc. Your classroom aside, WAY TOO MANY people in this country have utterly no clue about the founders, the presidents, US history, or even how a bill becomes a law.

  3. Couple more side notes - We have not yet wrapped up the HRC debate. Over half (54%) polled in a recent Rassmussen poll want to repeal the bill. It is having a direct impact on companies' bottom lines immediately as I'm sure you've seen in the news, and its going to affect the labor market.

    But something else, stop impugning the Tea Party movement. This is the first time in recent history that a genuine conservative grassroots movement has sprung up to protest Tax and Spend policies.

    There is nothing racist about them, nor homophobic or mysoginistic, nor sexist, nor violent. The MSM is so irritated because millions of people protested calmly, cleanly, peacefully on April 15 and not even the sought after and paid for agitators were able to come off as angry to try to infiltrate them.

    Another recent poll showed that 48% of Americans identified with the message of the Tea party movement, that is lesser government spending and taxes - that's it mind you - than did identify that Obama is doing a good job at 46% job approval. WE, the Tea party movement, are not a marginal wacko group like the Eco-nuts or the Pinkos. We represent about half of America and we're gaining steam as people realize just who we are. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, all joined by a simple message: Less government.

    Why is that so threatening to you Liberals?

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  5. You say there is no element of racism involved in the tea parties however I don't see much evidence to back that up. You can see the racism as obviously as one can read the signs. Beyond that, you can check out the recent newsweekly study that surveyed around 1000 people, used pre-vetted questions, and found statistically noteworthy differences between the answers provided by those who associate themselves with the tea party, vs those who don't. I'd link to the site, but iPhones don't multitask well... A quick google search for newsweekly and tea party and racism should track it down quickly though.

    I'm not scared of the tea partiers, so much as I am disheartened. They scream and shout now - where were they for the last 8 years? Why is it when u ask them what they would get rid of from the budget, the first thing that pop up is Deptvof Education and the EPA. I mean, REALLY?! I hope those are minorities in the movement, and maybe they are, but still, how often have I heard tea partiers complaining bout defense spending? And why do you see so many people pissed about healthcare, as they bring their 8 homeschooled children (all on Medicaid mind you) to protest Washington HCR and spending in general.

    I don't want to divert too thoroughly from the origonal purpose of the post, but I just wanted to say: come on. I would love for you to be right Scott, I would love for tea partiers to be filled with younger conservatives that want more fiscal responsibility and care little for govt involvement in social issues, like gay marraige and want to preserve founding principles like separation of church and state. I hope it is a bunch of people willing to force the current republican party unto breaking apart from the religious right. If this is the case, I'd be much more excited. Sure I'd still disagree with them about thing like HCR, but we'd have much more in common, which is never a bad thing.

    Additionally, the tea party doesn't have any real power (yet, perhaps) and as such comparing some abstract group of people to the president doesn't mean too much. I mean, I could cite polls showing how Obamas approval ratings have been pretty solidly around 50% for about a year now, which ain't bad (ESP when u consider how pissed slot of progressives are at him) or polls that state people trust him SIGNIFICANTLY more than Republician in regards to finacial reform, the moral of the story is the polls can be real subjective and become even more so based on the questions asked, the demographics choosen the overall methodology, etc. I include these figures more to draw a general picture, than prove anything.

    The Texas School board BS is just more depressing news, it's sad to think that people with no real specialization in history can pick and choose what to include and what to leave out of history books. It's even sadder that what they decide has such a large impact in the entire country. I can only hope that DRM regulations and management gets better, and that as tech improves, more devices such a eReaders ( for txtbooks) will be used in classrooms, as an electronic medium may allow for less decisions made in a one-size-fits all manner due to economies of scale, and rather that states and districts will have more individual choice in terms of how and what information will be presented. Until then, I guess it's up to parents to ensure that kids r learning what they think they should and that the parents actively attenp to bridge gaps that may exist due to the politicalization of our Education ciriculum... I don't know that it's necessary anything other than NAU, sad to say.

    That's all I've got. I'm sorry for spelling or grammatical issues, the iPhone wasn't build this this sized response I think :D. So try and bear with it I wasn't able to do a thorough read through, so hears to hoping for a solid first draft!

  6. I've got a little bit of beef with at least one thing everyone has said.

    Scott J, you seem to be making the arguement texas school board=racist->
    conservative=tea partiers->

    Your in my humble opinion overgeneralizing, and that is the type of demonizing rhetoric you've protested against in the past. And I agree with scott l's response in that regard.

    Quick side note: One region of the country should not have a unproportional influence over the educational system of the entire country, and this is just another example of where capitalism (i.e. book publishers) doesn't solve everything on its own.

    Scott L, I feel you are over glorifying the Tea Party movement, not just you but, its no big secret that the country is split fairly evenly by people that identify themselves as republican or democrat. A 48% surveyed identifying with tea partiers sounds very much like most republicans identifying with exactly whom you would expect them to. 96% of Tea partiers identify themselves as republican or independent with only 4% of them identifying themselves as democrats. People behaving as moderates is nothing new.

    I will acknowledge their participation and visibility is much greater than most other recent political movements. But its still mostly who you would expect to complain, protesting, just a lot louder than they used to.

    Dem735 stated "You say there is no element of racism involved in the tea parties however I don't see much evidence to back that up." How the hell do you expect someone to have evidence of the absence of something. Proving the existence of something is possible because you can go 'there it is'. Give me an example of how one could prove the absence of racism, and I will do the best I can to find it as it relates to this story.

  7. Well said. You're absolutely right. My bad, I should have thought that sentence through.

  8. Dan,

    I can't let the assertion of racism stand in the tea party movement. Is it possible that you might find an occasional person who harbors some racist tendencies who is also in agreement that we need smaller government, less taxation, and less spending? Of course.

    I don't need to ask, but I will surely point out that you have never been to a tea party, and probably know all that you do about them from CNN, MSNBC, Anderson Cooper (also CNN), et al. in the MSM, because what you have described to me is the liberal media caricature of the tea party movement. If you ever go to one, you will surely realize that it is a peaceful, robust, energetic, fun atmosphere. I've been to two and they are always uplifting. We always start by saying the pledge of allegiance and somebody offers a nondenominational christian prayer (not so terrible considering probably 85% of the people in attendance are Christian...much like the country at large). There is absolutely NEVER any derision of Obama because of his race. All you get is a steady diet of patriotic speeches that discuss things like the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, various legislative bills being discussed, smaller government and the proper role thereof, and on and on. Its like going to a county fair that's also got a political bent.

    Trust me, GO to the next tea party, I'll take you, and you'll see what's going on there.

  9. Okay - Obviously the racism connection has caught fire here as I accused the Texas School Board of under-the-table racism in the insistence on the inclusion of the Black Panthers in all Civil Rights chapters. Since this conservative movement in Texas is being led by a man who is a proud "Tea Partier," I made the connection about whether or not the "Tea Party" movement is nothing more than angry white people who finally have a rallying cry - A minority President.

    Look, if the "Tea Party" movement is what Dem hopes it is - then, I'm on board as well. Sure we have some differences on policy, but I favor a limited government on many issues as well (i.e. privacy, religion, criminal law, etc), then the core of the above-the-table ideas are fine. Who is after all in favor the fiscal ruin of the United States? We would differ on the what we should spend money on and where the government needs to be very active, but the debate is healthy and actually would be beneficial the nation as a whole.

    However, where was the "Tea Party" movement a few years ago? President Bush created trillion dollar deficits, expanded the size and scope of the Federal Government with the Medicare drug plan and Gulf Coast spending program. Involved us in two foreign wars that cost $18 billion per month. He bailed out banks that "were too big too fail!" He paid for none of this with current funds in the Treasury.


    And now, the conservative right has a problem with what is happening???

    Bail out banks...GOOD Bail out auto companies...BAD

    Run a $1.2 trillion deficit...GOOD Run a $1.4 trillion deficity...BAD

    Expand government health insurance...GOOD Guarantee health insurance to the poor...BAD

    Spend $18 billion per month on war...GOOD Spend money to help poor kids...BAD

    The hypocricy of the "Tea Party" movement is stunning. Look, I know the left criticized Bush while embracing Obama's policies.

    However, the rhetoric against Obama has been shameful.

    Obama is Hitler? Really?
    Obama is a NAZI? Really?

    Come on. If the "Tea Party" movement, and based on the rherotic symbolism does, thinks President Obama is ready to round up people and put them in concentration camps for slave labor and gassings, then this movement is nothing more than a wonderful group of crazy government conspiracists and I hope there are no McVeigh types present.

    When the rhetoric against Obama reaches this level and criticism against Bush is absent, then we, on the left, are left to assume why.

    Scott - I know you have said that if this blog was running during the Bush Administration, you would've criticized his drunken sailor ways. Okay.

    Remember, though, that the biggest growth in the size and scope of the American Government occurred from 1981-1993 and again from 2001-2009. The common theme? Republican Presidents!!! Also, no "Tea Party" movements.

  10. I'm gonna be brief. I agree with scott j on the bank bailouts good auto bailouts bad thing. The research I did a while ago with regards to the new deal indicated that the economist who both agreed or disagreed with the new deal agreed that you can not let the financial system fail.

    Dem735, I wasn't trying to be too nit picky, but it is fundamentally difficult to prove something is true that has no posibility for evidence.

    Scott L. I think your guilty of generalizing the media with regards to your comment about MSNBC. etc. Don't demonize the media based on some accepted perception if you don't want others to do the same about the tea party movement. Please hold them to the same standard.

  11. Asemu 84 - I wasn't agreeing or disagreeing with the bank bailouts. All I was doing was pointing out the hypocricy of the conservatives opposing the auto industry bailouts while supporting the bank bailouts (at least those when Bush was in office). Since the banking industry has the Republicans in their back pocket and the auto industry has the Democrats in their back pocket, the special interest money wins again. I just think it is very hypocritical of the "tea partiers" to paint one as bad and the other good (or at least silent on that one).

  12. I had a really long response to SJ last night and when I hit "post comment", my computer crashed. Nevertheless, the general idea is that the tea partiers have always been around, but it has only been recently that we've seen such a vast increase in the level of government spending.

    Literally, if you look it up, the deficit was winding back to 0 as of 2007, but then for Fiscal years 2008 and 2009, we saw the deficit spike HUGE.

    SJ - what you are missing about the tea partiers is that the vast majority of us were (and still are) opposed to TARP and bailing out the banks. However, WE realize that while the banks certainly are not pure and clean as the wind driven snow, they were forced to create the toxic assets (mortgage backed securities) as a means of trying to create some value out of what they knew was crappy investments forced on them by Bill Clinton and Janet Reno with the Community Redevelopment and Reinvestment Act.

    So TARP is a direct result of crappy liberal social engineering policy. Still, we didn't and do not like it.

    Then, Obama gets elected and promptly spending close to $1 Trillion (787bn for "stimulus" and $200 bn for bribes and pork so his Congress would sign on) on a "stimulus" plan.

    That was in February of 2009. The Tea Parties began in St. Louis on February 27, 2009 as a DIRECT response to the level of wasteful government spending that Obama did nothing to curtail and greatly exacerbated.

    He just signed a $2.5 Trillion HCR bill that we know is bad for the country. Scott, you know as well as I that it does not take this much money or 2500 pages of legislation to create a new entitlement for the 12 million or so chronically uninsured Americans who legitimately needed help.

    They want to do Financial reform to "guarantee" we won't have business cycles...IDIOCY! They don't have a clue what they're doing! You can't get rid of business cycles and risk takers are what built this country.

    They want to give amnesty to 12-20 million illegal immigrants (to replace the millions of voters they've pissed off with all this liberal social engineering).

    They want to put "cap and trade" into place which will further cripple the economy and has no basis in scientific fact. CO2 does not cause global warming and man only contributes something like .4% of the CO2 in our atmosphere anyways.

    So you see, this movement has risen in opposition to not just the deficit, but the crazy fast way its being compiled and the total lack of apparent economic literacy being expressed by this administration. We can see what is happening to Greece and WE DON"T WANT THAT HERE!

    It has NOTHING to do with the fact that Barack Obama is black.