Your one stop pundit shop.
The American dream was alive and well and seemingly unassailable. But somehow, following the oil shocks, the hyperinflation and other traumas of the 1970s, Americans allowed the right-wingers to get a toehold — and they began the serious work of smothering the dream. [...]
The right-wingers were crafty: You smother the dream by crippling the programs that support it, by starving the government of money to pay for them, by funneling the government’s revenues to the rich through tax cuts and other benefits, by looting the government the way gangsters loot legitimate businesses and then pleading poverty when it comes time to fund the services required by the people. [...]
Now, with the economy in free fall and likely to get worse, Americans — despite their suffering — have an opportunity to reshape the society, and then to move it in a fairer, smarter and ultimately more productive direction. That is the only way to revive the dream, but it will take a long time and require great courage and sacrifice.
The right-wingers do not want that to happen, which is why they are rooting so hard for President Obama’s initiatives to fail. They like the direction that the country took over the past 30 years. They’d love to do it all again.
The G.O.P. leaders have adopted a posture that allows the Democrats to make all the proposals while all the Republicans can say is “no.” They’ve apparently decided that it’s easier to repeat the familiar talking points than actually think through a response to the extraordinary crisis at hand.
This is a tricky, auspicious moment for a young president. He is ending one century, beginning another. Concisely, he essentially laid out his approach to foreign policy in a blurb for a recently reissued book by the late theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. He wrote that he took away from Niebuhr's works "the compelling idea that there's serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain." He added that "we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn't use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction."
This, then, is the Obama Doctrine: wisely, to have none at all.
In his 2010 budget, President Obama wants $31.5 billion from oil companies over the next 10 years with new taxes and by closing tax loopholes. This is a mere $3.15 billion a year, but the oil execs still say Obama is the creature stealing their black lagoon. [...]
Americans should be flabbergasted that the industry most in the black has the nerve to cry as millions of Americans are seeing pink and sinking into the red. Obama's proposal, if anything, is relatively modest.
As many pundits and even party officials have noted, given the dramatic cultural and demographic changes under way in this country, the GOP faces a real possibility of being reduced to a regional party of limited national relevance unless it broadens its appeal beyond angry white men living primarily in the states of the old Confederacy. That being the case, why are they kissing the ring of the angry white man who broadcasts from West Palm Beach? [...]
The GOP has reliably been able to woo them by demonizing gays, people of color, Muslims, feminists and anyone else who did not fit their white picket fence fantasies. But the changes afoot in our country suggest that won't work quite as well in the future as it has up till now. So it's all well and good if the party feels a need to apologize.
But they're facing the wrong way.
Anyone who yearned for a national conversation about domestic violence now has one. [...]
But one element of the story has a particularly crucial lesson to teach.
To domestic violence experts, choking is not just another element in a brutal attack. It is a harbinger of potential murder. [...]
Robyn Rihanna Fenty, 21, may wish that her private life were not so public. Brown, 19, who was charged last week with two felonies, may not appreciate the way his case will be followed and reported in detail.
But the spotlight that shines on celebrities can also light the way to knowledge. May this teachable moment educate us all, but particularly those trapped in darkness who need the lesson most.
It is our hope that the Alinsky legacy will continue as the next generation of idealistic young people develop the expertise to change lives for the better in the neighborhoods and barrios of the big cities, in the rural countryside and on the Native American reservations.
They will be the inheritors of the ground broken by Saul Alinsky that enables grassroots leaders from congregations and neighborhoods to be a powerful presence when decisions are being made about their lives.
THE BUZZFLASH EDITOR'S BLOG
By Mark Karlin
BuzzFlash has written a lot lately about the economic infomercial known as CNBC, which burst into the national discussion due to Jon Stewart's searing take down of the network after Rick Santelli's televised "stunt" defense of the moneyed-class.
As Stewart recently pointed out while guesting on the Letterman show, the Wall Street cheerleading (advertising) that CNBC does is pretty typical of the financial networks. Why you even have CNBC -- after the complete failure of de-regulation due to greed and legalized financial gambling debts in the hundreds of billions of dollars -- blaming Obama (who has barely got his feet wet) for the drop in stocks because he won't hype their "salesperson value" over their actual value.Bookmark/Search this post with: buzzflash | delicious | digg | yahoo | technorati Technorati Tags: EditorBlog CNBC General Electric
In a March 10 article reporting that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was "expected to be introduced" that day, The Wall Street Journal falsely suggested that a secret ballot election is currently required before workers can form a union. The article asserted that the EFCA "would allow unions to organize workers without a secret ballot, giving employees the power to organize by simply signing cards agreeing to join." In fact, current law already allows a union that shows it has the support[...]
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There's nothing like he said-she said journalism, where for reasons that only a newspaper editor would understand, reporters feel obligated to treat a one-sided discussion as if each party has equal standing. If 99% of scientists say Intelligent Design is crackpot territory, there's always someone working for some right wing funded "institute" that can be counted on to supply a counter-point. And goodness knows, the reporter will find them, but all too often won't add some fact-checking to the mix.
Today we get to read Sheryl Gay Stolberg's nonsense in the NY Times about how Obama's science policy isn't really about shielding science from politics, it's just substituting one set of politics for another.
How do we know this? Because, on the one hand we have Harold Varmus, a distinguished scientist and academician:
"Scientists should have no illusions about whether they make policy — they don’t," said Harold Varmus, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and co-chairman of a panel that advises Mr. Obama on science matters.
The directive, Dr. Varmus said, was simply intended "to provide the best available scientific information" to those who make policy decision.
as well as this from Alan I. Lesher:
"We’re not dumb — we know that policy is made on the basis of facts and values," said Alan I. Lesher, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse under President Bill Clinton and, briefly, Mr. Bush.
But by asserting "the centrality of science to every issue of modern life," Dr. Lesher said, Mr. Obama is suggesting that science rather than ideology will be the foundation for his decision making. "What you are seeing now is both a response to the last eight years, and a genuine reaction to President Obama’s enthusiasm for science," he said.
Of course, to counter those common sense arguments, Stolberg was able to find a noted and distinguished science expert and academician, one with a long record of published achievement in the field, a sterling curriculum vitae that includes teaching as well as research, and someone with the respect of his scientific peers, Karl (THE Math) Rove, Court Magician:
But Mr. Bush’s defenders see Mr. Obama as just imposing an ideology of his own. They say Mr. Bush did not ignore scientific facts; rather, he took the counsel of scientists and used it to make a policy determination that reflected his values, just as Mr. Obama is doing in lifting Mr. Bush’s restrictions on stem cell research.
"Those who suggest that the Bush administration did not rigorously apply science are themselves ignoring the facts," said Karl Rove, the former president’s political strategist.
This isn't an even playing field, and the interviewees don't have equal standing. Harold Varmus and Alan Lesher are merely distinguished scientists with a long track record of achievement in the field (what could they possibly know about the topic?), whereas Karl Rove has something they don't have: he is a known Republican. Varmus and Lesher are clearly at an unfair disadvantage here.
Oh, wait. George Bush isn't President any more.
If America's economy is grossly unequal (ie. if a disproportionate share of the country's wealth is[...]
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After the announcement that Earl Devaney would step into the role of financial watchdog for the TARP and other fund disbursements during the ongoing financial crisis, I have to admit I was thrilled. As Interior Department IG, Devaney's accountability[...]
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“I don?t want him to fail in his mission of restoring our economy,? says Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in an interview with Politico. “These are terrible, perilous times, so I will seek ways to work with the president of the United States.”
Key Senate Democrats “are wavering in their support” of the Employee Free Choice Act which is expected to be introduced today. Six Democratic senators and one Republican who have voted to move forward with the legislation “now say they are opposed or not sure — an indication that Senate Democratic leaders are short of the 60 votes they need for approval.”
Democratic leaders in Congress are beginning to take a knife to President Obama’s “audacious budget,” with the “apparent first casualty” being the plan to limit tax deductions for the wealthiest 1.2 percent of taxpayers in order to pay for health care reform. The chairmen of the House and Senate tax-writing committees, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), have objected to the proposal.
“Republican infighting escalated Monday” at the RNC, after chairman Michael Steele issued $1 million checks to the campaign committees — checks some tell The Hill were slashed from the $3 million promised by former chairman Mike Duncan. “That is a ‘lie,’ says the RNC ? and so another round of recrimination begins.”
In a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce today, President Obama will outline an education plan that would institute merit-based pay for teachers. Obama?s recommendation has previously upset the teachers? unions. ?The White House plan also includes new incentives for states to boost quality in their preschool programs, to raise standards for student achievement and to reduce the high school drop-out rate.?
"It's all about Meeeeeeeeee"
Everyone I know in North Carolina politics was certain, the state's most reactionary Democrat was going to give up his House seat and challenge Republican obstructionist Richard Burr, one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents up for re-election in 2010. Although I'd love to see Burr lose-- and I knew bumbling ex-quarterback and even worse congressman wasn't the man who could pull that off-- I was pretty excited about seeing Shuler's retirement from politics. Congress would be a far better place without Rahm Emanuel's greatest hit.
But last night his district's papers all reported that Heath is one Blue Dog who knows when he better just stay.
?I was flattered to have been asked by so many people across North Carolina to run for the U.S. Senate in 2010,? Shuler said in a statement released Monday night. ?However, with our nation facing the most difficult economic times in generations, I feel my efforts are better utilized focusing on solutions to these challenges rather than campaigning across the state. My focus is and will remain on representing the people of the 11th Congressional District of North Carolina.?
On Jan. 26, Shuler had a fundraiser in Raleigh hosted by former President Bill Clinton, adding to the conjecture that he may pursue a statewide office, and he has a massive financial war chest on hand. A former University of Tennessee and National Football League quarterback, Shuler has millions in personal wealth and finished 2008 with almost $950,000 in cash on hand in his official campaign fund.
From the Office of the Press Secretary.
These remarks will be made later today, and include merit pay for teachers.
Fact Sheet: Expanding the Promise of Education in America
“In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity, it is a pre-requisite. That is why it will be the goal of this Administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.”
- President Barack Obama
Address to Joint Session of Congress, February 24, 2009
Providing a high-quality education for all children is critical to America’s economic future. Education has always been the foundation for achieving the American dream, providing opportunity to millions of American families, newcomers, and immigrants. Our nation’s economic competitiveness depends on providing every child with an education that will enable them to compete in a global economy that is predicated on knowledge and innovation.
Progress toward this goal requires a race to the top to reform our nation’s schools. It requires holding schools accountable for helping all students meet world-class standards aligned to the demands of the 21st century workforce. It requires solutions for schools to close the achievement gap, and strategies to accelerate the learning of those that are the furthest behind. It requires new reforms to promote effective teaching and attract the best and brightest into the profession. It requires a national strategy to confront America’s persistent dropout crisis, and strengthen transitions to college and career.
President Obama’s agenda will improve outcomes for students at every point along the educational pipeline.[Details after the jump]
Early Education: A Strong Foundation for Success
Research demonstrates that the years before kindergarten comprise the most critical time in a child’s life to influence educational outcomes. It’s time that our nation make the early investments that will transform lives, create opportunity and save money in the long term
· President Obama is committed to helping states develop seamless, comprehensive, and coordinated “Zero to Five” systems to improve developmental outcomes and early learning for all children.
· In the 2010 budget, Early Learning Challenge Grants will encourage states to raise the bar on the quality of early education, upgrade workforce quality, and drive improvements across multiple federal, state, and local funding streams.
· Incentive grants to states will support data collection across programs (Head Start, child care, Pre-kindergarten, and other early learning settings), push for uniform quality standards, and step-up efforts for the most disadvantaged children.
K-12: Fostering a Race to the Top
To excel in the global economy, we must adopt world-class standards, assessments, and accountability systems to upgrade the quality of teaching and learning in America’s classrooms.
· The President encourages an end to the practice of low-balling state reading and math standards, and will promote efforts to enhance the rigor of state-level curriculum to better foster critical thinking, problem solving, and the innovative use of knowledge needed to meet 21st century demands.
· He will push to end the use of ineffective “off-the-shelf” tests, and promote the development of new, state-of-the-art data and assessment systems that provide timely and useful information about the learning and progress of individual students.
· With funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the U.S. Department of Education will work with states to upgrade data systems to track students progress and measure the effectiveness of teachers.
Teachers are the single most important resource to a child’s learning.
America must re-invest in the teaching profession by recruiting mid-career professional and ensuring that teachers have the world’s best training and preparation. We must take action to improve teaching in classrooms that need it most, while demanding accountability and performance.
· The President will teacher quality by dramatically expanding successful performance pay models and rewards for effective teachers, scaling up federal support for such programs in up to an additional 150 school districts nationwide.
· He supports improved professional development and mentoring for new and less effective teachers, and will insist on shaping new processes to remove ineffective teachers.
· The President supports a new, national investment in recruiting the best and brightest to the field of teaching, and will invest in scaling-up innovative teacher preparation and induction models.
Driving Innovation and Expecting Excellence
America’s schools must be incubators of innovation and success. Where charter schools are successful, states should be challenged to lift arbitrary caps and make use of successful lessons to drive reform throughout other schools.
· President Obama will encourage the growth of successful, high-quality charter schools, and challenge states to reform their charter rules and lift limits that stifle growth and success among excellent schools.
· The President supports rigorous accountability for all charter schools, and will encourage higher-quality processes for the approval and review of charter schools, as well as plans to shut-down charters if schools are failing to serve students well.
America’s competitiveness demands a focus on the needs of our lowest-performing students and schools.
Our middle- and high- schools must identify students at-risk of dropping out, and we must scale-up models that keep students on a path toward graduation. Reform in America’s lowest-performing schools must be systemic and transformational. For some, partnerships and additional support can bring about change and drive improvement. Others may need to move beyond the late 19th century and expand the school day.
· The President supports a national strategy to address the dropout crisis in America’s communities, and efforts to transform the nation’s lowest-performing schools. 2,000 of the nation’s struggling high schools produce over half of America’s dropouts. The President will invest in re-engaging and recovering at-risk students, including those enrolled in the middle school grades.
· The FY 2010 budget will support the development and scaling of effective dropout prevention and recovery models – such as transfer schools that combine education and job training for high school students that are far behind.
· President Obama supports the acceleration of America’s lowest-performing schools, and will make a robust investment toward recovery for schools failing standards under the No Child Left Behind Act.
Restoring America’s Leadership in Higher Education
Our competitiveness abroad depends on opening the doors of higher education for more of America’s students. The U.S. ranks seventh in terms of the percentage of 18-24 year olds enrolled in college, but only 15th in terms of the number of certificates and degrees awarded. A lack of financial resources should never obstruct the promise of college opportunity. And it’s America’s shared responsibility to ensure that more of our students not only reach the doors of college, but also persist, succeed, and obtain their degree.
· President Obama’s FY 2010 budget makes a historic commitment to increasing college access and success by restructuring and dramatically expanding financial aid, while making federal programs simpler, more reliable, and more efficient.
· The President will restore the buying power of the Pell Grant for America’s neediest students and guarantee an annual increase tied to inflation. His plan will end wasteful subsidies to banks under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, and re-direct billions in savings toward student aid.
· And it will dramatically simplify the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), making it easier to complete and more effective for students.
· The President supports strengthening the higher education pipeline to ensure that more students succeed and complete their college education. His plan will invest in community colleges to conduct an analysis of high-demand skills and technical education, and shape new degree programs for emerging industries.
From TPM Reader NM ...Bobby Jindal is to Kenneth the Page as Michael Steele is to ... Michael Scott. [...]
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