A bit of local pride first: the Houston Rockets are on a record-breaking winning streak. Despite the fact that our premier star, Yao Ming, is injured and not playing Center, the Rockets won again this afternoon at Reliant Stadium. That makes 22 in a row, sports fans. The Lakers, the losing team in the match up today, with a score of 104-92, holds the record of straight wins. Theirs is 33 wins back in the 1972-73 season.
This is the weekend so that means C-SPAN's Book TV and Food Network viewing. Yesterday's lineup on C-SPAN included an interview with David Boren promoting his new book, "A Letter to America." I look forward to reading it in the near future. Boren is a former Senator from Oklahoma for eighteen years and the former governor of Oklahoma. Now his current day job is President of the University of Oklahoma. He is a Democrat.
"A Letter to America" speaks to the need for bi-partisanship in politics. He sees it as the only route to solving the big issues such as health insurance and education. He speaks to the fact that politicians are too busy scoring partisan points and not interested in working with the other side of the aisle. He is particularly disgusted with the current trend in Washington coming from the far left that preaches pessimism and defeat and nothing but harsh and hate filled language of the opposition party. He refers to the all time low ratings of Congress, ratings even lower than the current President, disliked to the point of mental derangement.
Boren points to the fact that Americans are defined by optimism. We are a country of can-do people, not whining losers. Leadership is needed, especially in politics, to encourage a change in tone.
Boren also sits on a panel as an interviewer for finalists of Rhodes scholarships and encourages college age students to enter public service with fresh eyes and open minds. He pointed out that only 8% of colleges and universities require a single course in American History to graduate. That is just sickening and certainly explains a lot. "Teachers teach to lead", he said.
Political discourse has "gone from arguing issues into destroying the person", said Boren. Reminded me of the static John McCain gets for working with the other side of the aisle. He doesn't resort to name calling to make gratuitous points and is the only candidate currently running for President with a track record of the extent he does of working with both sides. Obama has no record of it and Clinton has only sporadically worked with Republicans as she got closer to running for President.
After that interview I watched a tape of a 15 minute speech given by Laura Bush at the NYC Yale Club. The occasion was the 2008 General Annual Meeting of the Association of American Publishers. Former Congresswoman and one-time Presidential candidate Patricia Schroeder, currently President and CEO of the Assoc of American Publishers introduced Mrs. Bush. I found a wee bit of pleasure in Schroeder doing that with such flowery and complimentary terms. In the years of the Bush administration, Schroeder has been a nasty critic of Republicans and going so far as last year stating about the subject of conservatives reading habits: "The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: 'No, don't raise my taxes, no new taxes,' It's pretty hard to write a book saying, 'No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes' on every page. She said liberals tend to be policy wonks who "can't say anything in less than paragraphs. We really want the whole picture, want to peel the onion." That from NewsBusters.org, 8/21/2007. Especially in today's politics, the old canard that liberals are so much more intellectual than conservatives is laughable. And, further proving her ignorance of the real world, she insulted half of her potential reading audience.
Of Laura Bush, Shroeder said, "She's done more for literature, reading, books than anyone we've ever seen." "She has our passion for reading, for libraries." She ran down some of Mrs. Bush's credits, such as creating the National Book Festival in 2001, patterning it after the Texas Book Festival she started in 1995.
Laura Bush and Jenna Bush have a book coming out in April about a little boy who doesn't want to read.
May is National Get Caught Reading month. Laura Bush spoke about the Reach Out and Read program that pairs pediatric health care and reading. Children in waiting rooms are able to take home a book of their choice that has been donated to that doctor or hospital.
"A nation that does not read for itself cannot think for itself". I liked that line. She spoke about reading scores in schools across the country. Middle school reading scores are flat and high school scores are declining.
She spoke of the White House Conference on Global Literacy with UNESCO. She spoke of the efforts of this administration to bring literacy to Africa. Over 600,000 teachers in Africa have been trained, using Africa-centric textbooks.
She is co-chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council. The council promotes literacy and education, reading and teaching the next generation. Girl children are being educated in Afghanistan now.
Approximately 774 million adults around the world cannot read. Literate countries are free countries. Literacy and freedom go hand in hand.
Two good events to watch. The glass is half full.