Sponsers of Revolution

For my History of Literacy class, I had to read an article by Deborah Brandt about sponsors of literacy. Brandt’s ideas reminded me of a writing by Carl Kaestle and his explanation of social consequences of literacy. I was thinking about the scale of religion’s sponsorship of literacy, which has been tremendous throughout modern history. Of particular interest to me is the period of revolutionary thought in America in the late 1700′s. It was the rise of those new ideology’s and their communication through the colonies that allowed ordinary colonists to shrug of the weight of tyranny from the Crown. Most historians will agree it was the establishment of roads and a fledgling mail service that opened to floodgates for the spread of revolutionary thought via letter, newspaper, broadside, and pamphlet through the colonies. An impressive measure of literacy was already in place in America. In fact the colonies had a literacy rate of just around 70 percent, which was better than that of England at the time. By 1776, America also had 7 colleges, from which a few of the founding fathers were graduates.

This relative excellency in literacy can be traced back just over a century to the Puritans in Massachusetts. Led by John Winthrop and his quest to create the City on a Hill, literacy was a cornerstone of Puritan life. It was essential for community leaders who tended to be extremely well educated in a variety of disciplines. All Puritan ministers were university trained, and it was for that purpose that Harvard was founded. All this combined to make Massachusetts the most literate place in the world by 1660. When coupled with the Quakers, Calvinists, and other European religions, it becomes clear just how greatly religious beliefs sponsored early colonial literacy.

The next century would be a critically important one for American development. 4 wars would be fought on the North American continent, and their would be hundreds of conflicts with Native Americans. Spain, France, and England would all fight for control of America while the colonists absorbed the effects. By the time the French and Indian War ended and England turned its attention back to the colonies, they were no longer just that. A new American identity had formed and the literacy the majority of  its citizens possessed only served to disseminate the ideas further into the populace. The incendiary worlds of Particle Henry, Samuel Adams, and Ben Franklin could be read throughout all 13 colonies as could the tyrannical acts of King George and his Parliament. In the summer of 1776 John Hancock put quill to paper to become the first signer of the Deceleration of Independence. Freedom was taken with the rifle and musket, but Independence was realized by the acts of writing and reading.

By Evan Lonergan

 

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Sequester and Stagnation

A month has gone by, and we now find ourselves in February of the new year. I would like to purpose a resolution, let’s get our politics moving. With the deadline for a budget agreement postponed to March, congress is finding itself once again in partisan deadlock. It seems obvious by now, that austerity measures alone are not a feasible way of creating a healthy economy. We can’t cut our way to prosperity. The fact that House Republicans are clinging to spending cuts as a solution to fiscal 2013 is outrageous. A responsible budget agreement is going to have to be balanced. I’m talking loopholes, revenue, austerity measures, and infrastructure spending. The economy will benefit from the stability of passing a budget agreement alone. Clinging to this ideology of no taxes under any circumstances is reprehensible. It is a ideological sinking ship. Whether the sequester takes effect by the deadline or not, current House leadership will be to blame for  the stagnation. I would rather a deal be reached, so Americans don’t have go down with the ship.
These days it seems like a constant echo, but it needs to be repeated; We need better leadership and more action in congress. There are going to be some key legislations coming down the pipe in the next few months concerning immigration and gun control. The American people need the stability of a new fiscal budget, we can’t progress with the threat of recession looming. Congress cant afford to be hung up negotiating a budget deal. We do not have the time to spend playing games of opposition. If our representatives don’t act, then maybe we the people need to act. There needs to be a degree of change on Capital Hill, and it needed to happen yesterday.

By Evan Lonergan

Obama’s Wish List

The state of the union is progressive. In is speech Tuesday night, President Obama swung left to start off his second term. In his address he offered a progressive wish list for the next four years. He proposed raising the minimum wage, spending on infrastructure and education, equal pay for women, renewed commitment to climate change, and he promised to continue to push for immigration reform and gun control. The President sated his belief that the public backed his policy visions, and called on congress to act. “Newtown deserves a vote.” A different Obama took the stage Tuesday night, the Obama not afraid of conflict, and who plans to use his bully pulpit power to shape public opinion. How much of the wish list will come to fruition is the question everyone is asking. Boehner has already denied increasing the minimum wage. In a congress still staunchly divided it will be difficult for progressive legislation to pass.

By Evan Lonergan

Victory Runs Deeper Than the President

Victory Runs Deeper Than the President

President Obama won re-election last night, but the Democratic Victory was deeper than the presidential race alone. Here is a run down of important wins.

The President

Obama wins the popular vote, and the electoral collage for a second term. Ohio put him over 270 for the win.

The Senate

Democrats maintained control of the Senate after last nights elections. Key Victories and upsets across the country leaves the democrats with 53 seats. The GOP came away with 45, and independents with 2.

Key wins
Florida: (D)Bill Nelson wins

Virginia: (D)Tim Kaine wins a vey close race at the last minute

Ohio: (D)Sherrod Brown wins

Massachusetts: (D)Elizabeth Warren wins Ted Kennedy’s old seat held by (R)Scott Brown

Montana: (D)John Tester wins in one of the closest and most heated races

Connecticut: (D) Chris Murphy wins

Missouri: (D)Claire McCaskill wins out over (R)Todd Akin

Pennsylvania: (D)Bob Casey wins

Indiana: (D)Joe Donnelly wins a last minute upset of (R)Richard Mourdock

Wisconsin: (D)Tammy Baldwin wins as the first openly gay senator

North Dakota: (D)Heidi Heitkamp wins a very close race

Maine: (I)Angus King wins and will caucus with the Democrats

The House

Democrats were not able to regain the house, but held decent ground. As of now they have 196 seats to a Republican 223. Dems are projected to hit 199 when its all over.

Key wins
Florida district 18: (D)Patrick Murphy wins out over Tea Party freshman (R)Allen West

Utah district 4: (D)Jim Matheson wins narrowly beating star (R)Mia Love

Illinois district 8: (D)Tammy Duckworth wins as a handicapped veteran.

Tuesday night handed out some big losses outside of the races, including the now disgraced Donald Trump, the always silly Sarah Palin, and the unfortunate Karl Rove and his miserable band of billionaires.

 

Compiled by Evan Lonergan

An Election Story

The forest was abundant with activity as it usually is around these times, it is after all election season. Everywhere gossip could be heard about the goings on, and this was especially for the birds. The winged creatures always talked loud and talked often, although due in part to their frivolity the credibility of the talk was at the least questionable. After all, one of their own was up for re-election. The Bald Eagle, a cold and distant, but commanding creature, desired another term as ruler of the forest. Difficult times had come to the forest, but the Bald Eagle was determined to lift resident creatures of all kinds out of these hard times and bring prosperity and equality back to the wood. The Bald Eagle believed very much in democracy and the creatures, a belief that could become his bane. The creatures of the forest faced more devision than ever before. Ideologies about the nature of forest control were deeply split and fiercely polarizing.
Never before had the virtues that made the woods such a fantastic place to live seemed so in jeopardy. The democracy that the Bald Eagle so desperately believed in was allowing itself to fall to the influence of pernicious prevarications, egregious misinformation by the many voices in the wood, and the influence of wildflower pedals. This was the first election to allow unlimited spending of pedals, the currency of choice in the forest, by non political creatures. The fate of the woods held in the balance, and the Weasel and his running mate, the Snake, were perilously close to winning the election. Despite a campaign of devoid of real information on proposed forest policies, and numerous role reversals on those policies, the election was in a dead heat. All the while times had grown no easier for the average creature. The squirrels and the rabbits fared worse and the elk and the bears became more well off. The forest itself was in danger of survival unless the inhabitants could learn to live side by side and return to commonwealth values that the forest first begun with.
The Bald Eagle was thundering through the woods on his way to the great tree when he noticed the Weasel and the Snake out of the corner of his eye. He swooped down and landed silently on a branch just above their heads. They were conversing with a few elderly squirrels about acorncare policy. The Snake was telling the squirrels how thee acorns provided for them in his plan would be provided though a voucher system. A squirrel questioned whether that would leave him out of acorns when the policy came into effect. The Snake responded with an explanation of how the system of vouchers would allow squirrels to a better quality of acorncare due to competition between gatherers. The weasel was quick to add that a free acorn market was the best.
From up on his branch the Bald Eagle was disheartened, this was a recurring theme in the race. Creatures of the forest just did not have the knowledge to discern what was truly good for them. He felt that feeling of exasperation he could never show publicly. Did the squirrels not see that the Snakes plan allowed gathers the freedom to pick and choose who gets acorncare at will. The Bald Eagle was not anti gathering, stalking, or scavenging, he just knew that without regulation the focus of those things falls not on what is best on the Forrest, but on what what is most profitable for the individual. The average animal just lacked the intelligence, and access to correct information on forest policies to make informed decisions. This was why the Bald Eagle placed emphasis on education and the ability of all animals to gain knowledge. Democracy is a vicious circle, particularly in the forest. With the election on the way, it can only be hoped for that the Bald Eagles faith in democracy was not misplaced. A new day will dawn in the forest very soon, the fate of democracy hangs in the balance.

By Evan Lonergan

The Latest and Greatest Aberrations to Democracy

Dinesh D’Souza, if there is anybody who can tear our country apart from the inside, it is that man. The garbage D’Souza spews in writing, film, and word, is media malpractice at its very finest. I can only assume people gobble it up for the same reason a car accident is inherently fascinating, there is something horrifyingly fascinating about destruction. That, I would say, is why D’Souza’s poorly written lies, talking points, and made up facts that effectively destroy democracy end up on best seller lists. Despite being continuously knocked back by actual facts, D’Souza continually comes back for more. 2 weeks ago he accused President Obama of attacking traditional christian values. Very ironic considering this damaging news came out the week later. D’Souza was caught having an affair with a married woman, traditional christian values indeed. It would appear that he finally brought upon himself some of what he deserves. How this man ever slept at night is beyond me. At least now he has lost his seven figure salary he was receiving from King’s College, a christian college where he was president.

This brings me to another wonderful pundit we all know and love. Ann Coulter is disgusting and vile. I have heard her opinions on talk shows before, but after scrolling through her twitter feed I have learned it is far worse than I thought. For a white, privileged, healthy, (and regrettably) influential woman to degrade the handicapped, spew racism and ignorance, and insult those with differing opinions in a public forum exemplifies the worst of this country. It is pathetic behavior of the worst kind, and the fact that it is in part embraced and accepted is deeply saddening. The sheer lack of respect for the President, and her fellow Americans is atrocious. Mr. Stephens commands my respect for handing the situation with more grace than I ever could. What a beautiful response in the face of complete disrespect and disregard. Dinesh D’Souza had to face his karma last week. Ann Coulter will get hers. I hope one day have the chance to meet Miss Coulter, so she can hear this from me personally.

As if it was hard enough to participate in democracy while being egregiously misinformed by the people who get payed to lie, there is a trend now of extremely wealthy business owners threatening their own employes if they vote “wrong”.  David Siegal, a Florida timeshare mogul has threatened to fire his employes if President Obama is re-elected. His threats were thinly veiled in this letter.

Subject: Message from David Siegel
Date:Mon, 08 Oct 2012 13:58:05 -0400 (EDT)
From: [David Siegel]
To: [All employees]
To All My Valued Employees,
As most of you know our company, Westgate Resorts, has continued to succeed in spite of a very dismal economy. There is no question that the economy has changed for the worse and we have not seen any improvement over the past four years. In spite of all of the challenges we have faced, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration. Of course, as your employer, I can’t tell you whom to vote for, and I certainly wouldn’t interfere with your right to vote for whomever you choose. In fact, I encourage you to vote for whomever you think will serve your interests the best.
However, let me share a few facts that might help you decide what is in your best interest.
[…]
So where am I going with all this? It’s quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.
So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn’t? Whose policies will endanger your job? Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of protecting and saving your job. While the media wants to tell you to believe the “1 percenters” are bad, I’m telling you they are not. They create most of the jobs. If you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the “1%”; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country.
Yes, that is really the email sent to his employes. It should be mentioned that the company has had its most profitable four years ever under president Obama, with record profits. Also worthy of noting, Siegel is a billionaire who not long ago was on the quest to build the worlds largest house. There is a entire documentary about the perverse and obscene project. David Siegal needs a tax, should be a joke. Unfortunately this man is very serious, and that makes it not funny at all. Whats even worse is Mitt Romney will give him that break no questions asked. This type of thing should be illegal.

I know I am late on the draw here, but the way things are going I felt I couldn’t leave this one out. The new employment numbers came out a few weeks ago, they were down to 7.8, good news for the Dems. Jack Welch, ex CEO of GE immediately took to twitter with a response alleging the job numbers had been fudged. He said “these Chicago guys will do anything”. His conspiracy theories placed him in a bit of hot water, and he received substantial and deserved backlash. Before having the chance to be fired, he quit his position as columnist for Fortune and Reuters, which delights me since I no longer feel obligated to read it(It was never very good). My father taught me never to quit, it is not a display of good character. “Win with character, loose with grace”. Why he decided to criticize the President on the jobs number I will never know. How did that work out for you Jack?

I am not even going to get into this… or this. All I have to say is, really?

Democracy is a fantastic privilege, lest we forget.

I will leave you with some humor from last week.

By Evan Lonergan