I was driving around Houston a few days ago and I came upon this road repair area. It seemed unfortunately symbolic of where we are politically —for the moment at least—-in both Texas and in our nation. In this picture you see that Cesar Chavez Boulevard is closed and has been detoured to the right. The [...]
Read The Full Article:
Watching the Right come unglued as their circus primaries unwind is the most fun I’ve had watching politics in a very long time. Seeing Sean Hannity’s face fall when Mr. Trump criticized Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget on Thursday was a[...]
Read The Full Article:
I guess it all depends on what the meaning of "save" is.
Asked point blank by Chris Matthews last night whether House Republicans had just voted to eliminate Medicare by replacing the popular government-funded health care program with a voucher of diminishing value that would force frail elders onto the predatory private market instead, California Republican Dan Lungren dutifully recited lines scripted for Republicans by Frank Luntz when he said, basically, of course not, Chris, how can you possibly think such a thing?
Republicans "saved" Medicare, Lungren insisted again and again, saying that on its current trajectory Medicare will "go broke" in about 12 years and so is on a "path to oblivion."
Therefore, in Republican parlance, launching a preemptive budget strike to deliberately blow up the program in advance of that day of reckoning by shifting much of its costs onto seniors themselves, is what Republicans mean by "save."
So, when you scratch the surface you discover that when Republicans talk of saving Medicare they do not mean save in the conventional sense -- as in saving it for the elderly who use Medicare. Rather, what Republicans mean is saving the healthy and the wealthy from Medicare's rising costs.
Tellingly, nowhere in the Ryan budget plan passed by the House this week on a straight party line vote, do Republicans go after the rising costs of health care itself in ways that might make Republican supporters in the medical and health insurance industries take any kind of hit.
Instead, they merely take these rising costs as a given and shift the cost burden away from government and onto the elderly so as to create "savings" that can be passed along to the wealthy in the form of another 10% cut in the rate of taxes they pay.
Compounding their cynicism, as Lungren mentioned himself yesterday as well, the one area Republicans do propose more government and taxpayer involvement is in the creation and public funding of a high risk insurance pool for the sickest elderly that the private insurance market can't figure out a way to exploit for profit. Creating a taxpayer-funded high risk poll goes hand-in-hand with conservative proposals to let health insurance companies make even bigger profits by cherry-picking customers across state lines that are least likely to actually need care.
Matthews' exchange with Congressman Lungren also uncovered another prevalent Republican character flaw, one that had me shouting obscenities at my TV.
Matthews played for Lungren a clip of President Obama at a Democratic fundraiser ridiculing Congressman Ryan for his new-found fiscal austerity, considering that the architect of the Republicans "brave" and "serious" budget proposal had voted for two wars that were not paid for, had voted for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that were not paid for and had voted for a Medicare prescription drug entitlement that wasn't paid for either and which was, in fact, more expensive than the president's own health care bill.
Given a chance to defend Ryan's deficit-exploding votes in light of Ryan's House-passed plan to take from the poor to give to the rich, Lungren mumbled something unintelligible about Ryan's intention to correct those votes before launching into a personal and ad hominem attack against the President. Lungren whined that it was "beneath the dignity of the President of the United States" to engage in such "bitterly partisan" and "ad hominem attacks" against his Republican rivals.
Lungren also complained, falsely, that President Obama had called Republicans out for being "un-American." First of all, the President did no such thing. And second, such an accusation is rich coming as it does from the representative of a Republican Party, a significant percentage of which, doesn't even accept that the President of the United States is an American citizen.
"What the president did yesterday was describe the vision put forward by the House Republican plan and describe his own vision, the vision that he thinks is preferable," press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday. "Just because there's a lot of heat in these discussions, in these debates, a lot of firmly held convictions, doesn't mean that we cannot come together and find common ground."
The President himself denies calling Republicans un-American. He only said that their budget proposal paints a vision of America and of American values that he does not recognize. If Republicans want to think that makes them un-American, that's not the President's fault.
"That wasn't a critique," the President said of his attacks on Ryan's ideas. "That was a description. The speech I gave yesterday [Wednesday] was not a partisan shot at the other side. It was an attempt to clarify the choice that we have as a country right now."
Later, Obama told Democratic donors that, "What we now have is a very stark choice. Under their vision, we can't invest in roads and bridges and broadband and high-speed rail. I mean, we would be a nation of potholes, and our airports would be worse than places that we thought -- that we used to call-- the Third World, but who are now investing in infrastructure."
Yet on the Matthews' program, Lungren behaved like many other Republicans today when he brushed aside the President's detailed and specific criticisms in favor of poll-tested pouting that his personal integrity had been impugned. "Let's talk facts and not engage in personal attacks," whined Lungren, completely ignoring Matthews' invitation to do just that.
These guys can dish it out but they sure can't take it, can they? Like all bullies who are fundamentally sissies underneath all that swagger and braggadocio, Republicans are rigid doctrinaires who have made a virtue of their unwillingness to compromise, who think "politics" is a dirty word and who have made their politics so much about their own personal identity that they inevitably treat political disagreement as a personal affront.
But just for the record: calling someone a hypocrite (as Obama did Paul Ryan at the Chicago fundraiser this week) but then citing chapter and verse the reasons why you think he is one (as Obama also did when he called out Ryan for his deficit-aggravating votes) is neither ad hominem nor even remotely the same thing as what right wingers do all the time, which is to label their enemies as socialists, fascists or worse and leave it at that.
Now, that's ad hominem.
As Steve Benen notes, Republicans proposed a fraudulent and callous budget plan. They eliminated Medicare. They punished the elderly, the disabled, and low-income families, and rewarded millionaires and billionaires. They called for devastating cuts that would do widespread damage to the middle class and the economy. Yet, they were shocked, shocked, that the President would tell them to their face that their vision of America does not comport with his own, using words that were not pre-scrubbed by Frank Luntz ahead of time to obscure their meaning.
What we see in the comments made by Congressman Lungren to Chris Matthews yesterday is that Republican brains are so rotted by their own far right ideology that they can no longer distinguish between a concrete argument, made on the basis of specific and documented facts, and a counter-opinion that departs from the right wing party line. All Republicans can hear is that President Obama is not one of them, which they find disgraceful. And so they must surround and destroy him like anti-bodies consuming a foreign virus.
As Steve Benen aptly summarized: "The Republicans' politics of personal grievance is based solely on their hurt feelings. They're not saying the president lied or that his numbers don't add up, but rather, they're outraged that Obama was a big meanie. That's kind of pathetic, and it reinforces fears that the House GOP majority is dominated by right-wing lawmakers with the temperament of children."
Juvenile, that's the right word for all these Republicans who pretend they want an "adult conversation" but show they don't even know the meaning of "save."
Read The Full Article:
Here's some PR advice for Righthaven LLC that I promised you.
Let me preface with some personal advice for Righthavan atty, Steven Ganim: Run and don't walk to the U.S. Atty's office and tell them you want full immunity as a cooperating witness against Righthaven.
A JD is a terrible thing to waste.
Attys Coons, Chu, Odunze and Pieroni have left; join them fast. Atty Mangano will handle things fine as his shake-down responsibilities will be curtailed after the coming RICO investigation. That's my guess. But maybe can head off the U.S. DoJ and plead out.
As for PR advice: Don't claim exclusive ownership of copyrights to federal court judges if this claim is not true.
Bad move, guys.
Talk to you next Tuesday.
I think it's been pretty well established by now that right-wing education "reformer" Michelle Rhee is just a discredited huckster for the corporate push to take over and profitize the school system, she's just the latest tool that corporate America has loosed on the public school system (not unlike, in her own way, Scott Walker, Rick Scott, John Kasich, Rick Snyder, Jan Brewer, etc). Corporate behemoths will never be able to take over the public education system without first destroying the teachers' unions. And that has long been one of the primary goals of the for-profit-charter-school movement.
Micah Ali is a friend of mine and a member of the Compton School Board, a progressive and a tireless fighter for the ordinary working families in some of L.A.'s most economically and socially challenged neighborhoods. Unions don't have a better friend in local government than Micah. So a few weeks ago I was shocked when we had dinner and he told me he was pushing a plan for charter schools. This was from the guy who almost single-handedly prevented the McKinley Elementary School takeover by a for-profit predator. He's got a new plan, though, what he calls a "dependent charter," one that is independent of the school board but not independent of responsibility and accountability. Micah penned an OpEd for the Los Angeles Wave this week explaining his proposal.
Thomas Jefferson said it best when he proclaimed, ?Every generation needs a revolution.? But today, we often make the mistake of declaring a revolution against each other based on our own selfish agendas. We must stop wasting time casting blame and attacking one another, and instead start focusing on finding real solutions that work for our schools.
When less than 50 percent of Compton students are not graduating, it is time to take a brave stand. What we need now, more than ever, is to come together for the sake of our children. I am calling to action every stakeholder in the Compton Unified School District to join me in igniting a revolution to ensure that every child has access to a high-quality education in a safe learning environment that meets individual student needs.
We must become open to new educational methods while holding on to what already works. What we do know is that Compton has satisfactory performing elementary schools, although we must increase academic performance levels for our K-5 grade students. Where we are falling short is our middle and high schools, which have some of the lowest academic performance scores in California.
Compton has been a longtime supporter of traditional education. And while that has adequately served our elementary schools, it clearly is not working for our middle and high schools. We need to begin searching for innovative solutions that have proven to work for other school districts. The solutions that I champion are threatening to some because I?m fighting against a system that seeks to hold onto traditional educational methods that have not worked for our schools for decades.
It is time for the Compton Unified School District to study the feasibility of a dependent charter school. It is well documented that dependent charter schools-- charters overseen by a school district-- design programs that suit the individual learning needs of the students, with the ease of certain regulations, allowing teachers and administrators to develop often more effective learning strategies. A dependent charter school can also receive federal funding and other grants that meet the financial needs of a top performing school.
To create a level playing field for our schools to compete on a national scale, we must appeal to our federal and state governments to provide more desperately needed funding to Compton schools. Academic performances in Compton schools began declining in 1978 after Proposition 13 forced California cities to redistribute their taxes, significantly cutting funding from our public schools. Our community must launch a district-wide movement to demand that our federal and state leaders put more local tax monies back into our public schools.
We all know that children are our future. That means we must prepare a generation of college and career-ready students. One way our district can make this happen is by working closely with local trade unions to provide apprenticeship training to our middle and high school students, giving them valuable skills for future job placement.
Another way we can ensure their future is by creating a village setting for our students, parents and teachers. To do this, we must establish small learning communities that will provide immediate intervention for the specific challenges affecting each neighborhood school. But to make this village a reality, our parents must become more active in their children?s education and get involved in parent organizations, like the PTA. Studies have shown that parent engagement is the number one indicator of student success.
When our schools improve, our community improves. How can we tackle other social issues ailing our community-- from the economy, to crime, to housing-- if we lack a skilled workforce to address these problems? It all starts with education.
Like many, I am outraged by the state of Compton?s school performance levels. I challenge the community to redirect that energy by making a positive difference. We are all in a position to do something to improve our schools. I will continue leveraging my position as a board member of the Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees by introducing and supporting measures that result in better educational outcomes for our students. I ask that we join together in making it our collective revolution to fight for the future of our children.
This is going to be a very expensive problem to fix for Rupert Murdoch. The Guardian:
A high court hearing to timetable and organise the growing civil claims for damages against Rupert Murdoch's News International heard that the new police investigation believed the scale of potential victims was much higher than leading officers had previously said.
Previously the Metropolitan police said they had found a total of 91 pin numbers ? necessary to access a mobile phone's voicemail ? in the possession of the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
But Jason Beer QC, representing the Met, told the hearing the number of potential victims is "substantially" higher than 91. "It is wrong to say that 91 is the answer, that that is the maximum [number of victims]. It may be on a bigger scale."
Paul Ryan is proving more useful than any of could have possibly dreamed. His plan, as analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), drives home the simple truth that the long-term budget problem is a health care problem.
Ryan radically reduces the cost of Medicare in the decades ahead, eliminating the projected explosion of the budget deficit, by transferring the costs to seniors. In addition to the direct transfer of money, CBO projects that Ryan's plan will add $30 trillion (that's trillion with a "T," as the budget hawks always say) to the country's health care bill due to the fact that private insurers are less efficient in providing health care than the Medicare system.
For perspective, this $30 trillion is roughly six times the size of the projected short fall in Social Security over its 75-year planning horizon. It comes to almost $100,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country.
A transfer this large to the insurance industry and health care providers would have an enormous impact on the living standards of our children and grandchildren. But none of the endless group of Peterson funded organization -- the Concord Coalition, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation or even their invented presidential candidate Hugh Jidette -- have issued any warnings about the devastating impact that the Ryan plan will have on the living standards of our children and grandchildren. This silence could even cause one to question the sincerity of Mr. Peterson and his employees.
These stories are so commonplace, I barely notice them anymore:
Since 2008, Akron-based White Hat Management, has collected around $230 million to run charter schools in Ohio. The company has grown into a national chain and reports that it has about 20,000 students across the country.
But now 10 of its own schools and the state of Ohio are suing, complaining that many White Hat students are failing, and that the company has refused to account for how it has spent the money.
The dispute between White Hat and Ohio, which is unfolding in court in Franklin County, provides a glimpse of a larger trend: the growing role of private management companies in publicly funded charter schools.
Contrary to the idea of charters as small, locally run schools, around a third of the schools now pay management companies ? which can be either for-profit or nonprofit ? to perform many of the most fundamental school services, like hiring and firing staff, developing curricula and disciplining students.
But while the shortcomings of traditional public schools have received much attention in recent years, a look at the private sector?s efforts to run schools in Ohio, Florida and New York shows that turning things over to a company has created its own set of problems.
Maybe it's because I see so many stories like this in my local paper:
A federal grand jury has indicted two former top officials at a charter school in Northwest Philadelphia on charges of stealing $522,000 in taxpayer funds.
The 27-count indictment charges Hugh C. Clark, 64, and Ina M. Walker, 58, with conspiracy, wire fraud, and theft from a federally funded program, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger announced Thursday.
The pair, both from Philadelphia, allegedly used the money slated for New Media charter school to pay expenses at Lotus Academy, a small private school they controlled; to fund personal businesses, including the Black Olive health-food store and the Black Olive restaurant in Mount Airy; and for personal expenses, including meals and credit-card bills, Memeger said.
The indictments, which were unsealed Thursday, came nearly two years after The Inquirer first reported allegations of fiscal mismanagement and conflicts of interest at the school, which has campuses in the Stenton and Germantown neighborhoods.
And that was just this week. We have problems going back to the beginning of the charter school movement in Philadelphia, and I'd guess this is going on all over the country: the management contracts are handed out as patronage plums to incompetent, unethical, or outright fraudulent management.
Why, we even have one school that was doubling as a nightclub, and selling booze on the weekends. (I wish I was kidding.)
But we're "saving the inner city schools," and it makes rich CEOs feel like they're helping, so it's all good!
The President signed the 2011 appropriations bill yesterday, and he attached a signing statement to it. There were two bones of contention. The first was the measure banning funds to transfer prisoners from Guantanamo. The second, the bill defunded the[...]
Read The Full Article:
On Wednesday, the Alaska Senate shot down a health bill that would expand a program that provides medical services to the low-income children and pregnant women. The 14-year-old program, Denali Kid Care, is specifically “designed to ensure that children and teens of both working and non-working families can have the health insurance they need.” The bill seeks to “restore the original income eligibility threshold established more than a decade ago, raising it from the current 175 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty line” — a move that bill sponsor State Sen. Bettye Davis (D) said would cover nearly 1,300 more children and about 250 pregnant women. But the bill — which passed the Senate last year 15 to 4 — failed this year. The obstacle? A woman’s right to choose.
The Alaska Supreme Court holds that the state must fund medically necessary abortions if it funds medically necessary services for others with financial needs. The mere possibility that a woman could have even a “medically necessary” abortion under this health insurance program was enough for Republicans to stall the bill in a 10 to 10 vote:
– Abortion was a key issue in floor debate Wednesday. Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, said he believes the Senate has shown a propensity for standing up for children and families but that he in good conscience could not vote for a bill that would help some but also result in abortions.
– “I think there are just a lot of unknowns about what is ‘medically necessary,’ what is considered an abortion,” said Sen. Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage), who did not support the bill.
According to Davis, the program expansion “might” fund 22 abortions. But that hypothetical number was enough for 9 Republicans and 1 Democrat to block coverage for over 1,000 Alaskan women and children. “Six Senators who voted for the measure last year voted against it today.” Only one Republican — state Sen. Lesil McGuire — supported the measure, stating “that the Senate cannot turn its back on pregnant women who need help.”
While Davis reserved the right to reconsider the bill later, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) — who vetoed the very same bill last year over abortion — said “he cannot envision a scenario in which he’d support an expansion.”