The Nation, 29 December 2008

nation-29-decIn this issue, Patricia Williams rakes up one of the celebrities made by Campaign 2008, claiming that in the gap between the actual Sam Wurtzelbacher and the imaginary Joe the Plumber lies the deadliest part of the American Dream.  Joe the Plumber is a man who labors ceaselessly, gets his hands dirty, is looked down on by the people who rule the country, and earns over $250,000 annually.  Sam the non-Plumber is a man who labors ceaselessly, gets his hands dirty, is looked down on the people who rule the country, and can barely pay his bills from month to month.  Americans work the longest hours and enjoy the fewest social protections of any industrialized population.  The “Joe the Plumber” story is the myth that keeps us from supporting reforms that would help us get rid of this system. 

An editorial urges readers to support Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond for US Secretary of Education.  Currently head of President-elect Obama’s working group on education policy, Darling-Hammond is identified with a group of educational thinkers whom The New York Times calls “professionalization advocates, ” believers in the idea that “the policy emphasis should be on raising student achievement by helping teachers improve their instruction.”  The school of thought which opposes the professionalization advocates, and which has in fact claimed a virtual monopoly on the title of “education reformers” in recent years,  are called “efficiency hawks,” who want ever more emphasis on standardized tests and centralized bureaucratic control of schools.  The editorial starts with an irresistible quote from Darling-Hammond: “If we taught babies to talk as most skills are taught in school, they would memorize lists of sounds in a predetermined order and practice them alone in a closet.”

A short piece details anti-Russian bias at the Washington Post.  There’s also a review of a couple of new slang dictionaries.


  1. cymast

     /  December 16, 2008

    What a weird, unflattering cover.

  2. acilius

     /  December 16, 2008

    It certainly is weird. Their cover pix usually are unflattering, even when they’re supposed to make the person look good.

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