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President Obama is planning on delivering a speech to public school students. As the Department of Education website notes

During this special address, the president will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.

A very commendable message indeed…except that some on the right have labeled it as an attempt to promote socialist ideals. In their report, Some Parents Oppose Obama School Speech, the New York Times quotes a parent in Pearland, TX

“The thing that concerned me most about it was it seemed like a direct channel from the president of the United States into the classroom, to my child,” said Brett Curtiss, an engineer from Pearland, Tex., who said he would keep his three children home.

“I don’t want our schools turned over to some socialist movement.”

(McKinley, James, Some Parents Oppose Obama School Speech, The New York Times, September 3, 2009)

Conservative talk shows and Conservative politicians like Oklahoma State Senator Steve Russell are all ablaze claiming that Obama is trying to create a cult of personality around himself in a similar manner to Kim Jung-il of North Korea and Saddam Hussein of Iraq. The Republican party chair of Florida even claimed that the speech is politically motivated and he “was appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology” (McKinley, James, Some Parents Oppose Obama School Speech, The New York Times, September 3, 2009).

What has happened to the Republican part of Ronald Reagan? Where has political discourse gone in the past 25 years? The fault is not just the Republicans — the Democrats are also very much to blame for the erosion of thoughtful, meaningful political discourse in today’s society. But the level to which these two sides will stoop appalls me. When I was a child we all listened to a speech given by the President of the United States. The man elected President was President of ALL Americans — not just liberals or conservatives — not just Republicans or Democrats — ALL Americans.

It is one thing to speak up in dissent of governmental policy or action (or inaction) – some consider that to be a form of patriotism (although the actual phrase is inaccurately attributed to Thomas Jefferson) and it is definitely free speech. But the politicization of even the simplest speech by the leader of our country and inaccurately portraying it as an attempt to promote a “socialist” or “liberal” agenda is shameful. Left wing pundits did it during the Bush administration and now the right wing pundits are doing their part during the Obama administration.

What has happened to civil discourse in this country? We need to find it again…or we, as a country, are lost and may well be doomed to repeat the Civil War some day.

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I rarely, if ever, watch Bill O’Reilly of the O’Reilly factor. I don’t really care for the man and the way he goes after anyone who comes on his show like some pitbull that smells fresh meat. A friend recently sent me the following YouTube link:

O’Reilly is a boor. Yes, Barney Frank is partly responsible, I agree, but to say “People bought stock and lost money” based on whatever Frank said is nonsense. If I bought stock every time someone said to me…”It looks good going forward” I’d be out of a house. People do stupid things and the first rule of investing is never invest in something without checking it out first. You can’t blame Barney Frank for the stupid things that people do.

Rep. Frank said that he didn’t think that Fannie and Freddie were good investments looking back but that they he thought they would be solid going forward because they were going to do “things to improve them” (I listened to the clip again). Anyway, he shouldn’t have said that but for O’Reilly to sit there and blame him for people losing their investments because they put money into Fannie and Freddie after his statement is a stretch (I think that Rep. Frank should have limited his comments in the clip that O’Reilly beats him over the head with to simple things and should not have made projections forward). This goes against the conservative philosophy of individual responsibility. Basically O’Reilly is making the argument that it’s Frank’s fault in duping people into investing in Fannie and Freddie.

I agree with O’Reilly on the idea that Rep. Frank should have come forward and said, “you know, I shouldn’t have said that and I shouldn’t have suggested that Fannie’s and Freddie’s prospects were solid looking forward” rather than try and shift the blame on the Republicans for loosening the regulations on Frannie and Freddie (which they played a part in — just as the Democrats did).

Again, O’Reilly is a real boor — and in my opinion he’s just some shmuck who thinks it’s his place to take someone “out to the shed” and punish them when, in fact, it’s not. O’Reilly does this because he gets off on it and that’s pretty pathetic.

Excellent video from the Obama campaign. It sums the situation quite well.

John McCain and Sarah Palin would simply be a continuation of the past 8 years of Bush/Cheney policies — and America can’t afford that anymore.

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