I’ve wondered if Donald Trump’s election win last year meant that we are doomed now to a cycle of emotional, demagogic, logic- and evidence-free campaigns and that the only way for Democrats to retake the White House (and maybe Congress and state offices) is to adopt Trump’s reality-TV theatrics Twitterrhea. Chris Matthews suggested something similar on TV yesterday:
“You know what’s happened in politics under Trump. But if he runs again, it’ll happen again. It’s not about resumé or qualifications, necessarily, or preparation or seriousness. It’s about how you behave on the stage… It’s on the stage, it’s in the moment,” Matthews said [Jacqueline Thomsen, “Franken: You Don’t ‘Have to Be Trump to Beat Trump,” The Hill, 2017.09.05].
National voice of reason Senator Al Franken of Minnesota holds out hope for a return to a decent, qualified President:
“I’m not sure that you have to be Trump to beat Trump,” Franken replied.
Franked pointed out that “the person who gets elected is often the opposite of the last guy,” noting that former President Barack Obama, seen as eloquent, followed former President George W. Bush, who was often viewed as the opposite.
“Maybe the next person to run against Trump shouldn’t feed into your narrative there, which is always a mistake, Chris,” Franken said [Thomsen, 2017.09.05].
Wow—if the electorate does follow the oppositional pattern Franken suggests, the 46th President of the United States is guaranteed a spot on Mount Rushmore.
Senator Bernie Sanders takes his turn to ask DeVos is she thinks she’d be on the edge of Secretaryship if she weren’t a multimillionaire, then tries to get her to address whether his free tuition plan is as important as her boss’s tax-cuts-for-the-rich plan:
Pay attention to that ending: offered an easy “you betcha” question, Secretary DeVos declines to not commit to enforcing existing rules that protect students from lying, cheating for-profit “colleges”.
DeVos is not up for Education Secretary because she understands real education issues or wants to help all Americans get an education. DeVos is up for this job because she is rich, and because she will fight to protect her fellow rich people.
Democrats, take note: Franken, Sanders, and Warren show us how to deal with Trumpists: by asking them direct questions that they can’t answer. Franken/Warren 2020.
Minnesota’s U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken both warmed up the crowd for Clinton. Senator Franken’s speech made several points, by turns sharp, funny, and touching, about education. Here’s the video of his speech:
For just a moment, let us gaze longingly across the Big Stone–Pipestone border and wish that any of our South Dakota delegation had the intelligence and flair to deliver a speech this enjoyable and informed from handwritten notes on a yellow legal pad.
Now, some highlights:
Senator Franken said “the only thing I liked about No Child Left Behind was the name. The name was o.k.” He said he heard from constituents that NCLB tests were “autopsies”, providing useless aggregated data after school was out.
Senator Franken said NCLB testing forced a “very perverse… race to the middle” in which teachers didn’t make the same effort for kids safely at the top or too far at the bottom as they did on kids who were close to the arbitrary “proficiency” cut-off line.
Senator Franken cited “McNamara’s Fallacy“: “The things that are easy to test will be tested. The things that are impossible to test, you won’t test. The only things that become important are the things that can be tested.” Senator Franken said employers want critical thinking, collaborative skills, and creativity, things that are really hard to test and thus are not measured. “So instead of letting teachers teach, teaching the way you know how to teach, teachers were reduced to drilling and killing and then were blamed when the NLCB, the results they wanted weren’t achieved.”
Senator Franken closes with some fond comments about his grade-school teachers, then tells a great story about an e-mail from another student of his fourth grade teacher at Cedar Manor in St. Louis Park:
Dear Mrs. Moline:
I was a student of yours in fourth grade at Cedar Manor, and I wasn’t a very good student. That’s because there was stuff happening in my home, and also your spelling tests were really hard. But I’ll never forget one day your staying… after school with me. You saw… that I like art, and I will never forget your painting a window with me after school.
I’m now a fourth grade teacher in Red Wing. I try to make every kid feel the same way you made me feel: loved. Loved [e-mail from a former student to her former teacher, relayed by Senator Al Franken, speech to AFT national meeting, Minneapolis, 2016.07.18].
Senator Franken understands how teachers make a difference. Standardized tests and the charter-school model will never figure in any grateful former student’s letter to a former teacher. Inspiration comes from teachers acting as loving professionals. As Senator Franken suggests, good policy gets out of the way of those loving professionals and lets them do the job they know how to do.
Senator John Thune will vote in favor of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act when it goes before the Senate this month. Thune says the bill will simply remove the legal and liability companies face now in sharing information about the threats.
…The bill exempts companies like SDN and others from anti-trust laws for sharing threat information with competitors and stops customers from suing if their information is turned over [Angela Kennecke, “Protection vs. Privacy,” KELO-TV, 2015.09.03].
Senator Thune admits there is opposition to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, but he dismisses that opposition as coming from extremists:
“The response doesn’t follow your traditional party lines,” Thune said. “You’ll have an alignment of the people on the far left and the far right.”
Thune said persons on the left are often concerned about personal liberties, while right-wing libertarians have concerns about the size of federal government and how much authority it should hold [Chuck Clement, “Senator Discusses Security Issues,” Madison Daily Leader, 2015.09.04].
The Electronic Frontier Foundation takes issue with giving companies blanket immunity to hand private information to the government:
The bill also retains near-blanket immunity for companies to monitor information systems and to share the information as long as it’s conducted according to the act. Again, “cybersecurity purpose” rears its overly broad head since a wide range of actions conducted for a cybersecurity purpose are allowed by the bill. The high bar immunizes an incredible amount of activity. Existing private rights of action for violations of the Wiretap Act, Stored Communications Act, and potentially the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act would be precluded or at least sharply restricted by the clause. It remains to be seen why such immunity is needed when just a few months ago, the FTC and DOJ noted they would not prosecute companies for sharing such information. It’s also unclear because we continue to see companies freely share information among each other and with the government both publicly via published reports, information sharing and analysis centers, and private communications [Mark Jaycox, “Senate Intelligence Committee Advances Terrible Cyberscurity Bill Surveillance Bill in Secret Session,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, 2015.03.19].
EFF also contends that CISA grants private companies too much authority to launch surveillance and counterattacks against citizens without due process or a warrant.
Senator Al Franken shares EFF’s concerns, citing a letter from Homeland Security stating that CISA could “sweep away important privacy protections.” The bill Senator Thune backs would also complicate cybersecurity by allowing companies to share threat information with any government agency:
The DHS, in its letter, doesn’t merely knock CISA for incomplete — at best — privacy guard rails, but also that the idea of sharing “cyber threat indicators […] among multiple agencies,” instead of through “one entity” will lead to more “complexity” and “inefficiency” for both the public and private sectors. That’s to say that if you fire all the data into every corner, it tends to pile up and bury the stuff you might have needed [Alex Wilhelm, “Department of Homeland Security Highlights Privacy Concerns in Senate Cybersecurity Bill,” TechCrunch, 2015.08.03].
“I think all Americans have a fundamental right to privacy—and it’s especially important in light of advancing technologies that continually threaten to outpace our laws,” said Sen. Franken, who is the top Democratic Senator on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law. “The Department of Homeland Security’s letter makes it overwhelmingly clear that, if the Senate moves forward with this cybersecurity information-sharing bill, we are at risk of sweeping away important privacy protections and civil liberties, and we would actually increase the difficulty and complexity of information sharing, undermining our nation’s cybersecurity objectives” [Senator Al Franken, press release, 2015.08.03].
Senator Thune may keep chanting that anyone opposing him is an extremist. We could page Barry Goldwater, or we could just ask Senator Thune what’s so extreme about (1) expecting government, not private vigilantes, to take care of law enforcement, (2) asking that he take our Fourth Amendment rights against warrantless searches and seizures as seriously as he takes the Second Amendment, and (3) asking for policy that makes cybersecurity better, not worse.