Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Crappy prisons

So I read Hali's blog about a man named Marvin Wilson who was executed despite the fact that he was found mentally incapacitated. The blog continues to call for a reformation of the way Texas uses the death penalty, and says that currently it's use is a little out of control. Even though Wilson's case might be a little iffy, I can definitely agree with the fact that as a state, Texas favors the death penalty way more than it should. But, excessive executions are just symptoms of a fairly crappy prison system. Rick Perry heavily supported the privitization of state prisons, turning state institutions into privately run and owned corporations who specialize in keeping criminals locked up. These prisons get paid by the Texas government for each criminal they hold. This turns criminals, who are in fact people no matter how deranged, into a commodity. Money is made from keeping criminals in prison. The whole notion of rehabilitation has been completely lost, and this system doesn't really give an imprisoned criminal any other choice but to stay a criminal. This dehumanization of prisoners, along with the vicious cycle that keeps them behind bars, makes the death penalty a little easier for Texans to handle ethically, simply because in Texas, once you're a criminal you're always a criminal. And let's not forget how much tax money is being wasted paying room and board for prisoners that are doomed to be forever part of the justice system. In my opinion, fix the prison system first, and create a platform to call for death penalty reformation after. Maybe education incentives are the way to go, offering sentences of degree requirements instead of hard time. Maybe the state needs to fund some additional research. Either way, Texas prisons are criminal factories, creating the general public opinion that criminals are not people, and should just be executed. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Let's talk about Romney's running mate

Lets talk about Mitt Romney's running mate. For those of you who don't know, Paul Ryan has been named as the next "vice president of the United States," and Ryan couldn't be more "excited and honored to join [Mitt] as [his] running mate." At 42, Ryan is definitely younger than Romney, and I think voters can relate a little bit more to the guy. Personality is certainly something the Romney campaign could use a little more of. Ryan has a family, is famous for his affinity for extreme fitness, and is the author of a very a drastic and conservative budget plan that is very popular among conservative legislators. Honestly, this guy should be running for president. He's marketable and smart, and just when I thought it would be impossible to include a "cool" conservative in the Republican presidential campaign, some very smart campaign coordinator tracked this guy down and introduced him to Romney. To me, Paul Ryan is the anti-Obama, and the conservative poster boy could be a deadly weapon against the Democratic campaign. Romney has been pretty good at alienating conservative voters, partly because of his identity (mormon, cold, doesn't drink) but mostly because he seems so fake and rehearsed in public. Ryan's attitude, down to earth conservatism, and confident smile are all things Romney is lacking. If the Republicans are smart, they'll give Ryan as much face time as they possibly can, letting him say the things that Romney has been saying, just in a much more cool and relatable way. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

You're gonna have to go through me first

I hate Steve Jobs quotes. Don't get me wrong, I think Apple is an awesome company, mainly because of how Jobs ran it, but to be honest I think he was kind of an asshole. You're opinion, however is definitely something I can agree with. Critical thinking is critical (haha) in public education, including the questioning of traditional values and beliefs that go along with it. It seemed like in your blog post that you were making it out as if the GOP's platform was directly attacking "Higher Order Thinking Skills." The Republican party openly admitted that the inclusion of this specific text was a mistake, so it's hard to say that they are in fact openly against teaching kids how to think for themselves. The interesting part, and something that the GOP can't deny, is that they were at least considering making this anti-thinking stance an official part of their platform. This would make sense, as the conservative ideology prefers to keep things traditional, and critically questioning traditional, parent-taught values doesn't really mesh well with Texas Republicans that lean far to the right. However, the GOP knows that actually stating this in something as official and concrete as their political platform would drive away more moderate conservatives, aka the people that decide elections. So here's my deduced insight into the Texas Republican Party: A) They accidentally included a section in their official platform that states an intention to eliminate critical thinking in publican school curriculum, B) They openly stated that this was an accident and that the Republican Party does not in fact want to critical thinking in schools, C) In my head this means that the Texas GOP does in fact want to strip kids of the right to think for themselves, they just don't want to tell anybody else about it because they know how crazy that sounds. This actually kind of scares me. So it's up to you and I Mindy to keep progressivist thinking in schools. Just because Republicans are too scared to openly attack it now, doesn't mean they won't try in the future.