scharrison's blog

Critical thinking is back in the White House

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Uncle Joe wants all your information, and no bullshit:

Quick decision-making is not Mr. Biden’s style. His reputation as a plain-speaking politician hides a more complicated truth. Before making up his mind, the president demands hours of detail-laden debate from scores of policy experts, taking everyone around him on what some in the West Wing refer to as his Socratic “journey” before arriving at a conclusion.

Those trips are often difficult for his advisers, who are peppered with sometimes obscure questions. Avoiding Mr. Biden’s ire during one of his decision-making seminars means not only going beyond the vague talking points that he will reject, but also steering clear of responses laced with acronyms or too much policy minutiae, which will prompt an outburst of frustration, often laced with profanity.

The contrast to Trump is stark, and that's a good thing. He didn't want any pesky information, and if it couldn't fit on a post-it note he wouldn't read it. But if you want good policy, it needs to be hashed out in detail. That's how you discover (ahead of time) any potential negative consequences. He should reign in that frustration if possible though, because it could stifle some input that could be critical. But it's early days still, and the sooner his people figure out he's not a blowhard like Trump the better:

Art Pope needs to be removed from UNC BOG

Orchestrating a character assassination of a new journalism professor:

“This is the story of a leader returning to a place that transformed her life and career trajectory,” said Susan King, dean of the Hussman School, in announcing the hire. “Giving back is part of Nikole’s DNA, and now one of the most respected investigative journalists in America will be working with our students on projects that will move their careers forward and ignite critically important conversations.”

On the state’s political right, however, Hanna-Jones has been met with a very different reception. Pulitzer Prize? MacArthur Fellowship? “Questionable credentials,” said the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal (formerly known as the Pope Center for Higher Education). One of America’s most respected investigative journalists? The same group termed that a “charade” concocted by “a powerful coalition with Democratic socialists, the media, and ‘woke’ crony capitalists.”

Make no mistake, one of Art Pope's lifelong crusades has been to force major changes to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Stymied in his effort to install a School of Western Civilization (White European Supremacy) several years ago, he has nevertheless continued efforts to bend the University to his will. His minions were instrumental in the closure of UNC's Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, proving that if he's not allowed to "add" to the University, he will settle with subtracting. Hanna-Jones is actually ideal for this teaching slot:

White Supremacy in the ranks: Removing extremists not as easy as it sounds

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Testing the limits of the 1st Amendment:

California is one of four states, including Oregon, Minnesota and Tennessee, along with Washington, D.C., that have proposed new laws to give law enforcement agencies more power to exclude officers with ties to extremism.

Various such efforts have been simmering around the country for years, spurred by F.B.I. reports starting more than 15 years ago that document a concerted effort by white supremacist and other extremist organizations to infiltrate the police.

They actually stumbled across intel in 2004 that pushed them to investigate further, discovering the deployment of "Ghost Skins." These are White Supremacists who don't wear the garb (or tattoos) of neo-nazis, so they can blend in and work from inside police and other organizations. Here's the redacted 2006 report released last year (can't copy and paste, you'll have to read it yourself). Here's more on the rights of racists:

Stifling public comments on...stifling public comments?

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Yeah, it's just as absurd as it sounds:

A Senate committee on Wednesday shut down public discussion of a contentious portion of the Farm Act, which coincidentally, sharply curbs public input on swine farms that install biogas systems and anaerobic digesters.

The public was allowed to comment on Tuesday before the Senate Agriculture, Energy and Environment Committee, which approved the bill and sent it on to the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Wednesday, though, when the Judiciary Committee discussed the legislation, committee leaders limited public comment to non-controversial sections and specifically excluded the digester issue.

Republicans have refined this tactic over the years (only allowing certain topics for public comments). Senator Amy Galey was notorious for this as Chair of the Alamance County Commission, and kept deputies handy to drag out speakers who deviated from her "allowed" comments. FWIW, it is tempting to set such parameters. I've conducted several meetings where public commenters have gone way past their allotted speaking times, repeating almost verbatim what several others have said, and I have contemplated asking if anybody had a comment not related to a certain issue. But I held my tongue, because I didn't want anybody feeling they had been stifled. Back to the pigshit:

Vaccine hesitancy is rife in rural North Carolina

Robeson County is stuck at about 25% vaccinated:

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday more than 50% of adults 18 and older in the state have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 43% of the adult population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

In Robeson County, 25.6% of adults are vaccinated, according to Bill Smith, county Health Department director. The county has 101,622 residents who are 18 years old and older. Of that population segment, 26,033 have been vaccinated. For the entire Robeson County population of 130,620 people only 20% have been vaccinated. That takes into account that almost 26,000 Robesonians are too young to get vaccinated.

We're not talking about a slight deviation from the state average, that's half of it. And this attempt to focus on young people doesn't account for that huge gap either:

Justin Parmenter on the GOP's "indoctrination" conspiracy theory

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Grabbing a quote and running with it:

The Iredell County legislator ignored the overall point I was making about the challenges the pandemic has wrought for teachers and students, directing his tunnel vision at my opening words: “Not long ago I was leading a discussion about environmental pollution with my 7th grade English class…”

For McNeely, this line, which I “prominently displayed” in the state’s three largest newspapers, exposes a sinister plot to deviate from state standards in support of the leftist agenda.

I'm actually seeing this more and more with Conservatives these days. If they seem to be "listening intently" to what you are saying, don't make the mistake of assuming they're interested in the point you're driving at. They are simply waiting for some kind of "gotcha" element to pounce on, however trivial or out of context it is. It is intellectually weak to do this, and riddled with logical fallacies. But they don't care about stuff like that. Back to Justin's message about the proper approach to teaching:

HB 749: Recruiting and retaining school psychologists

The need is greater now than ever:

North Carolina has 780 school psychologists serving one million five hundred thousand public school students.

North Carolina's ratio of school psychologists to students is currently 1 school psychologist for every 1,943 students, and the nationally recommended ratio of school psychologists to students is 1 school psychologist for every 500 students.

If you read my comment Sunday you would know that 1 in 5 (20%) Americans have a diagnosable mental health condition. That's 388 at-risk students per school psychologist, under our current horrifically understaffed system. Not fixing this would be criminally negligent, as it endangers the safety of all students (and faculty). It's also costly as hell, because many of those kids won't become a "productive" member of society and will clash with the justice system on a regular basis. In other words, for those of you who are empathy-deficient, not spending the money to fix this is a false economy. And this is why it's so important to tackle this on the state level:

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