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May 20, 2005

Tempest In A Toilet

Certain hysterical elements of the local left and crypto-left think they have found a story.

They're half right. There's a story there - but not the one they think they have.

Let's see if I can get the timeline down:

  1. A while ago, a member of the Teenage Republicans, after talking with either Michele Bachmann or someone on her staff, posted a request for peoples' stories about the stifling of academic dissent in high schools. Senator Bachmann, of course, is sponsoring a version of David Horowitz' Academic Bill of Rights - which, of course, pertains to colleges.
  2. While the piece was on the website, members of the Teachers' Union apparently reported the site to various activists, including Michael Boucher (allegedly from school computers, while on school time), the Perrier-drinking leader of the Minnesota Council of Social Studies.
  3. Boucher wrote a clankingly awful op-ed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about the subject, although I can spare you having to read it again by summing it all up; education system fine, Bachmann bad, there's no problem here, move along.
  4. In the midst of the "Crisis", someone from Senator Bachmann's staff left a comment in the Senator's name my original post - which gave a hefty case of the vapors to some of our more perspective-challenged local bloggers, as if that's not standard practice during the last week of the farging legislative session...
  5. Somewhere along the way, the Bachmann site removed the request, and Senator Bachmann distanced herself from the Teenage Republicans; there was, by all rational accounts, a miscommunication - Bachmann's bill has nothing to do with high schools (and by less rational accounts, apparently, either a right-wing conspiracy took hold or the Bachmann campaign fled to Brazil. It's hard to tell - the Dump Bachmann site deals in breathless inference and implied conspiracy in a way that'd make a Freeper yak up his skull).
So who said who could put what on who's website? Who told whom to take what off of where? Who told who what, and when, and why, and how?

Jeez. Who cares? I feel like I'm in a junior high study hall, listening to the girls in the back gossiping about who said what to whom, and when, and why, and "that Michele is such a bitch"...

To the extent that there's a "story" here, there are really only two issues of any interest to the non-obsessive:

  • The Strib published Michael Boucher's original editorial - fact-challenged as it was. When Senator Bachmann asked to be allowed to print a response, the Strib's editors limited her (sources close to the Senator tell me) to half the length of Boucher's diatribe. So the Senator wrote a response that fit within the limit - but was forced to remove a sentence saying that Boucher's claims were false because - again, this is from a source close to Bachmann's office - Boucher's piece was based on the Teenage Republicans' site, which included false information about the Academic Bill of Rights. In other words, "wrong but accurate". Close enough for Strib work, apparently. Boucher can say anything he wants - he read it on the Internet, so it must be true! But Senator Bachmann's response is censored, so as to...what? Not make the Strib's "fact checkers" feel bad?
  • I think the Teenage Republicans' original premise - collecting stories about academic bias in the high schools - is valid in and of itself. I applaud them for asking, and would support any efforts on their part to continue gathering their stories.

Posted by Mitch at May 20, 2005 12:50 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Mitch:

Did you check with the Strib on this - or did you just get this from your "source close to Bachmann's office?"

I'm curious whether you would consider the teaching of evolution without giving equal time to intelligent design creationism, which includes supernatural explanations for natural phenomena as an example of academic bias?

Thanks for the link to Dump Bachmann by the way.

Since you've been talking to Bachmann's office - or with an anonymous source close to Bachmann's office, did you ever find out whether the person who posted using her name was posting with her knowledge and approval, or whether the staffer was taking matters into their own hands.

I seem to remember you ripping City Pages big time for using an anonymous republican source talking about what a wingnut Bachmann is in their story: Michele Bachmann heads an all-star cast of GOP Christian flat-earthers in the Sixth District...

Remember your poignant criticisms of CP for including this in the story?

The old guard within her own party is not impressed. "I wish she would get on with something meaningful," says one GOP insider. "She is definitely not out to unite people. She's throwing out these ideological bombs. She's an obstructionist."

Posted by: Eva Young at May 21, 2005 09:36 PM

"(allegedly from school computers, while on school time)"

Nope. It came to my home email.

"which included false information about the Academic Bill of Rights."
Like what? The TAR site never mentioned the ABoR. Just "legislation."
I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

"wrong but accurate"
Which one?

"the Strib's editors limited her (sources close to the Senator tell me) to half the length of Boucher's diatribe."

Bachmann's 641 words
Mine 691
But most of mine was quoting the TARs. So really, she got a lot more then I did.

"I think the Teenage Republicans' original premise - collecting stories about academic bias in the high schools - is valid in and of itself. I applaud them for asking, and would support any efforts on their part to continue gathering their stories."
It is unfortunate that you support collecting Dossiers on private citizens.

Have a nice day
Michael

Posted by: Michael at May 21, 2005 11:38 PM

Eva,

"Did you check with the Strib on this - or did you just get this from your "source close to Bachmann's office?"

I've seen the STrib's reply.

"I'm curious whether you would consider the teaching of evolution without giving equal time to intelligent design creationism, which includes supernatural explanations for natural phenomena as an example of academic bias? "

Not really.

"Since you've been talking to Bachmann's office - or with an anonymous source close to Bachmann's office, did you ever find out whether the person who posted using her name was posting with her knowledge and approval, or whether the staffer was taking matters into their own hands. "

Asked and answered.

"I seem to remember you ripping City Pages big time for using an anonymous republican source talking about what a wingnut Bachmann is in their story: Michele Bachmann heads an all-star cast of GOP Christian flat-earthers in the Sixth District..."

Yep. But I'm not a "journalist", and my source is off the record. My article is, in addition, not defamatory, while the City Pages' piece was.

"The old guard within her own party is not impressed."

Some of the "old guard" are pining for a return to the days of Arne Carlson. Screw 'em.

Michael:

"Nope. It came to my home email."

So do you deny that it came from a Teacher's Union member, who got the link while browsing and emailing on school time?

You deny this?

"It is unfortunate that you support collecting Dossiers on private citizens."

Well, aren't we a drama queen! Nice try, but I'm talking about keeping government employees accountable for their bias. There's a huge difference.

As long as public "education" is compulsory for those of us who can't afford other options, it'd damn well better be impartial.

Posted by: mitch at May 22, 2005 12:48 AM

Ah, Mitch, you're missing the entire point.

We know that Bachmann's current policy is not to go after high schools. We've known that all along; the opposite policy would be disastrous to her campaign. What we don't know is what her future policy is going to be. Of course we're going to smack this one down now, while for all we know Bachmann and the TARs are getting stories of little Repubs who just broke up with their America-hating boyfriends that they plan to twist around and use in the future. The point is protecting students' freedom to sit in your study hall and say, "that Michele is such a bitch."

Also, Mitch, I'm surprised you're not on the Teenage Republicans email list yourself.

Finally, since you seem to be so passionate about education, could you help me with a math problem? I can't seem to figure out how 641/691 reduces to 1/2.

Posted by: theyeti at May 22, 2005 11:29 AM

"Of course we're going to smack this one down now, while for all we know Bachmann and the TARs are getting stories of little Repubs who just broke up with their America-hating boyfriends that they plan to twist around and use in the future."

Huh?

I mean, I don't take points off for incoherence, but...huh?

"Also, Mitch, I'm surprised you're not on the Teenage Republicans email list yourself."

Not being a teenager, having been completely unaware of the group's existence until last January, and not having made or received any contact from them, ever, for any reason, might have something to do with it.

"Finally, since you seem to be so passionate about education, could you help me with a math problem? I can't seem to figure out how 641/691 reduces to 1/2."

Gee whiz, this is a tough one. (He said one thing)+(She said another)+(the paper printed another)/(I don't care!)=42.

You peoples' mocking is cutesy and all, but the fact is that an awful lot of teachers ARE ethically challenged enough to bring their biases to class.

Posted by: mitch at May 22, 2005 12:32 PM

I've talked to a member of MOB who works in the schools at a computer lab - and frequently blogs while at work. The kids are quietly doing what they should on the computer. His function is just watching them.

Until recently, both John Hinderaker aka Hindrocket and Scott Johnson aka Big Trunk from Powerline gave their work numbers as contact information from the Powerline blog. They were getting media calls related to Powerline handled by the staff at their workplaces - Faegre and Benson and TCF.

Does NARN blogger, King Banaian do any blogging while at work? After all, King works for a state funded University. Does he ever look for links, or email about political things while at work?

Posted by: Eva Young at May 22, 2005 12:32 PM

"Until recently, both John Hinderaker aka Hindrocket and Scott Johnson aka Big Trunk from Powerline gave their work numbers as contact information from the Powerline blog. They were getting media calls related to Powerline handled by the staff at their workplaces - Faegre and Benson and TCF. "

Right. So what?

Neither of them gets paid by keystrokes per hour. Their employers measure each of their performances; TCF by their ongoing legal standing, F'nB by their success at trial and their billable revenues. If their performance measures up by those standards (which matter to them, as opposed to the parochial standards that so many of their dullwitted critics are trying to superimpose on them), who cares?

"Does NARN blogger, King Banaian do any blogging while at work? After all, King works for a state funded University. Does he ever look for links, or email about political things while at work? "

Why don't you challenge King's ethics to his face.

King? You wanna take this one?

Posted by: mitch at May 22, 2005 12:41 PM

So what? If I were a customer at TCF, I wouldn't want my fees to be going to pay for staff to handle media calls related to Powerline - which is not part of TCF's core business. The same goes for being a client - or another partner at Faegre and Benson.

I'm not challenging King's ethics. All I'm saying is that if you are going to go after people about whether they are not doing their jobs because they might do some web surfing and finding links during the work day, that there are examples of that on the right and on the left.

To me, it seems that King and PZ Myers are similar cases. Both have blogs. They blog from opposite political perspectives - and both are faculty on greater Minnesota campuses.

I got the tip about the TAR site on a Sunday. It came from an email unaffiliated from any public institution (it was a yahoo or hotmail address).

The only reason you bring this issue up - and are keeping on beating on it, is you are trying to intimidate teachers - like Mike Boucher - from speaking out. I'd suggest you go back to refuting what Boucher has said.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 22, 2005 01:07 PM

So what? If I were a customer at TCF, I wouldn't want my fees to be going to pay for staff to handle media calls related to Powerline - which is not part of TCF's core business. The same goes for being a client - or another partner at Faegre and Benson.

I'm not challenging King's ethics. All I'm saying is that if you are going to go after people about whether they are not doing their jobs because they might do some web surfing and finding links during the work day, that there are examples of that on the right and on the left.

To me, it seems that King and PZ Myers are similar cases. Both have blogs. They blog from opposite political perspectives - and both are faculty on greater Minnesota campuses.

I got the tip about the TAR site on a Sunday. It came from an email unaffiliated from any public institution (it was a yahoo or hotmail address).

The only reason you bring this issue up - and are keeping on beating on it, is you are trying to intimidate teachers - like Mike Boucher - from speaking out. I'd suggest you go back to refuting what Boucher has said.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 22, 2005 01:31 PM

And this double posted.... rats. I'm sorry about that.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 22, 2005 01:32 PM

"So what? If I were a customer at TCF, I wouldn't want my fees to be going to pay for staff to handle media calls related to Powerline"

They don't. They go to pay for staff, period. A call is a call. Scott does the media contact work, AND runs TCF's legal operation - and runs it by all accounts superlatively, which keeps TCF's legal house in order, which benefits TCF's clients. If Scott writes a post or takes a media call - so what?

" which is not part of TCF's core business. The same goes for being a client - or another partner at Faegre and Benson."

Well, why don't you take that up with all of John Hinderaker's clients, colleagues and management? Because it's a fair guess that he became a Senior Partner by earning his keep many times over.

"I'm not challenging King's ethics. All I'm saying is that if you are going to go after people about whether they are not doing their jobs because they might do some web surfing and finding links during the work day, that there are examples of that on the right and on the left."

So why bring it up?

"The only reason you bring this issue up - and are keeping on beating on it, is you are trying to intimidate teachers - like Mike Boucher - from speaking out. I'd suggest you go back to refuting what Boucher has said. "

Bullshit, Eva. That is clearly not what I said, ever; you're parroting Boucher's whine about dossiers. You're making it up as you go along, now.

Teachers can speak out and challenge students' beliefs. They can not penalize students for disagreeing, though - and that clearly happens, no matter how much establishment pollyannas like Boucher deny it.

Posted by: mitch at May 22, 2005 01:35 PM

Oh, and don't sweat the double-posts; I know there's a problem, and I have no idea how to fix it.

Posted by: mitch at May 22, 2005 01:45 PM

I forgot to add this bit here:

""I'm not challenging King's ethics. All I'm saying is that if you are going to go after people about whether they are not doing their jobs because they might do some web surfing and finding links during the work day, that there are examples of that on the right and on the left."

The main point is this: why are teachers reporting what kids are doing to the semi-official likes of Mike Boucher? Speaking of building dossiers and intimidating...

Speaking of which, Eva, since you're here; how did you learn that Ryan was a classmate of John Hinderaker's son? And why did you feel that rated a post on your blog(s)?

Because that seems just plain wierd.

Posted by: mitch at May 22, 2005 01:51 PM

>I mean, I don't take points off for incoherence, but...huh?

You had to read World O' Crap to get it... ;-)

What this all comes down to is whether the things Bachmann et al are alleging are true. If they are, where are the examples? Where are the stories? Who has penalized students for disagreeing? How is state-sponsored bias taking place?

We can argue semantics all day, but until you come up with some evidence, the fact remains that Bachmann's bill and the ABoR, even if we could figure out what they actually meant, are completely unneeded and serve no purpose but injecting government into education unnecessarily, something I thought conservatives were against.

Posted by: theyeti at May 22, 2005 02:13 PM

Ok, I won't sweat the double posts any more. That's why I use haloscan for comments for my blogs, Lloydletta and DB - because I have no desire to maintain my own server. I deal with enough server crap at work.

I got a reader tip on the matter - plus a link to this:

http://leftintheheartland.blogspot.com/2005/05/tars-babies.html

Posted by: Eva Young at May 22, 2005 03:32 PM

Mitch:

I forgot to add this bit here:

""I'm not challenging King's ethics. All I'm saying is that if you are going to go after people about whether they are not doing their jobs because they might do some web surfing and finding links during the work day, that there are examples of that on the right and on the left."

The main point is this: why are teachers reporting what kids are doing to the semi-official likes of Mike Boucher? Speaking of building dossiers and intimidating...

More Mitch:

"I'm not challenging King's ethics. All I'm saying is that if you are going to go after people about whether they are not doing their jobs because they might do some web surfing and finding links during the work day, that there are examples of that on the right and on the left."

So why bring it up?

"The only reason you bring this issue up - and are keeping on beating on it, is you are trying to intimidate teachers - like Mike Boucher - from speaking out. I'd suggest you go back to refuting what Boucher has said. "

Bullshit, Eva. That is clearly not what I said, ever; you're parroting Boucher's whine about dossiers. You're making it up as you go along, now.

EY: No Mitch, I was responding to this:

Mitch:
Michael:

"Nope. It came to my home email."

So do you deny that it came from a Teacher's Union member, who got the link while browsing and emailing on school time?

You deny this?

EY: I was just pointing out that if you want to try to get people in trouble at work, there are lots of people to get in trouble. This has nothing to do with being concerned that state money is being spent wisely, and everything to do with trying to intimidate people into not speaking out.

Hindrocket got inappropriate calls at work - called on by people at the Daily Kos site. I've also had people - both gay people from the left - and people from the right - trying to target me at work.

From what I've heard - and this is from a very left leaning professor - King Banaian is an excellent Professor at St Cloud State.

Hindrocket and Big Trunk might do their jobs impeccably - all without chipping a nail so to speak. I'm not sure they help their employers all that much by listing them on the the powerline blog. They did recently quit going by those names. I'm not sure if they ever explained on the blog why the posts now are signed by John, Scott and Paul rather than Hindrocket, Big Trunk and Deacon. I kind of think they might have been responding to Nick Coleman's redicule.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 22, 2005 03:48 PM

Sorry about that - this was the Left in the Heartland post by English Teach about Ryan from TAR that makes the connection to Hindrocket.

http://leftintheheartland.blogspot.com/2005/05/eastview-high-bastion-of-oppressive.html

Posted by: Eva Young at May 22, 2005 03:52 PM

"So do you deny that it came from a Teacher's Union member, who got the link while browsing and emailing on school time?"

Yup. I deny it. While I am not even a blogger anymore, much less a journalist. I also do not have to give my sources.

I will give you this because you are so curious and I am in the business of encouraging curiosity.

I recieved two emails about this and niether were from Union Members.

I then did my own research on the internet and found the TARS site through the Eva's blog.

Now your turn.
What state do you live in and why are you so interested in ours?
Michael

Posted by: michael at May 22, 2005 08:09 PM

Everything about your denial smells "technicality", but whatever. It's a non-story, and I stand by every word I said about your op-ed and comments.

What state do I live in? As it says on the top of my blog, Minnesota.

Why am I interested? Did you actually read any of the posts you commented on? I have two kids in the Saint Paul schools. I've also been a teacher, my father taught for a zillion years, and two of my grandparents were teachers - so keep your stereotypes about my hatred of organized education to yourself, they're as bogus and whiny as that "dossier" crack. That being said, I've found I've had to do a LOT of pushing back on what teachers tell my kids, especially as re social studies; many teachers are completely ignorant of the subject or are teaching to an agenda. My kids, fortunately, both push back. Some teachers appreciate it. Others don't.

Posted by: mitch at May 22, 2005 08:37 PM

I'm thinking what he meant was mental state, actually...

>That being said, I've found I've had to do a LOT of pushing back on what teachers tell my kids, especially as re social studies; many teachers are completely ignorant of the subject or are teaching to an agenda.

Could you expound on that some more? I'm not asking to be whiny; I seriously want to know because, as I've said in my posts on this issue several times, we're constantly hearing about the agenda but rarely about what that actually means. Even Bachmann herself couldn't find room in over 600 words to give an actual example of why she feels the need to push this bill.

Posted by: theyeti at May 22, 2005 09:27 PM

Hey Mitch, what happened to your reliable source? Of course, this isn't the first time, nor the last I'm sure, that The Gasbag of the Midway will traffic in misinformation and bullshit.

To quote yourself, Mitch: "You're making it up as you go along, now."

Posted by: Dump Bachmann at May 23, 2005 05:45 PM

My source said what my source said. The whole issue, as far as I'm concerned, is a worthless sideshow, anyway; I don't vote in the Sixth; the only part that matters to me is bias in education, anyway.

And it's not the first time that I've ignored the rantings of a pansy-assed little coward hiding behind anonymous comments.

Run back to Eva's and tell her I used profanity! Quick!

Posted by: mitch at May 23, 2005 06:48 PM

Mitch, don't you feel burned by your source - telling you that the strib cut Bachmann's piece down to half the words of Boucher's piece?

Don't feel too bad, way too many strib reporters take the claims of Bachmann's office on face value also.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 23, 2005 08:23 PM

Your source clearly lied.

Mitch, don't you feel burned by your source - telling you that the strib cut Bachmann's piece down to half the words of Boucher's piece?

Don't feel too bad, way too many strib reporters take the claims of Bachmann's office on face value also.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 23, 2005 08:25 PM

Eva,

Your problem - besides the constant double-posting and your keen ability to self-rationalize your self-serving ethics - is that you'll take a piece of data, wave it around like a pro wrestling trophy, dance up and down, and make big proclamations - and then the original data turns out ot be wrong. (For example your constant references to your "striking a nerve" when I respond, when the real reason is more like "Mitch is mighty bored". Or trying to mine rending significance from Koolaid Report and Nihilists' *satirical* reactions to the Governor's reception)

This being one example. The source was right - things apparently changed in the interim - but I can't go into details.

Make sure you wring a couple days' posting out of that! Hurry!

Posted by: mitch at May 23, 2005 08:56 PM

Aw, the old fake but accurate huh?

Posted by: Eva at May 26, 2005 06:36 PM
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