In a country where high school dropout rates approach 50% in many cities, and where Philadelphia, Detroit, Dallas, Houston and Baltimore graduate fewer than 45% of their students, it's nice to see someone trying something that is showing promise.
Diplomas Now is a program funded by a $5 million grant from the PepsiCo foundation. (Yes, your soda dollars at work.) The thought was that by the time a kid gets to high school, it's way too late. So the program looks at at-risk kids beginning in 6th grade. Not just in terms of attendance, but also in terms of those who fail math and English or have behaviour problems. It appears that problems that early blossom over time. Results of one of the pilot programs?
Why do I bring this up? Not because I care about education, which I do, but because there is current Federal legislation winding its way through the process. Click here to read about it and then PLEASE call your reps.
Welcome to Texas. home of revisionist history. If you missed it, you can start here. Rick Perry's band of merry men on the Board are sticking to their guns and working towards making Texas public school education more evangelical than based on fact. At the hearing a couple days ago, 206 people showed up to comment: most in opposition, including Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP. From the review by educators:
We have reunited as public citizens to voice our concern, our collective disgust if you will, at the distorted culmination of our work.
Plus, 72% of Texans don't want to see a religious co-opting of education:
Nearly three-quarters of Texas voters (72 percent) say that teachers and academic scholars should be responsible for writing curriculum standards and textbook requirements for Texas’ public schools. Only 19 percent prefer that an elected school board decide curriculum.
The Boards' reaction? Shrug, we're holding the vote anyway. (It's today, and the curriculum will pass.)
Elena Kagan was once a clerk of Thurgood Marshall when he was a Supreme. Before joining SCOTUS, Justice Marshall argued separate but equal in Brown v. Board of Ed in front of the high court. That was in 1954. You'd think there would have been progress...but, from USA Today, 19 May, page 9A:
A study by the Southern Education Foundation -- which was founded in 1867 to improve educational equity in the South -- concluded that in six southern states, at least 30% of the black public school students attend schools that have a population of at least 95% black. Among these, Maryland (which some don't consider a Southern state) has the highest percentage at 45%, followed by Alabama (40%), Mississippi (39%), Tennessee (38%), Georgia (32%) and Texas (30%). [...]
[T]he rest of the country is as bad or worse: In New York state, 52% of black public school students attend predominately black schools. In neighboring New Jersey, 43% do. In Illinois, 57% do. In Michigan, 55% do. In fact, this clustering of black public school students at "black" schools is far work in Midwestern and Northeastern states than in Southern ones based on overall percentages.
I plan to write about certain of the following excretions from the decomposing body politic in detail at some point in the future. But I'm beginning to feel like total shit physically again, so who knows when that will be. (Hey! If you want to be a real pal, you could make a donation to Artie's Fund to Go to the Doctor Once in a Blue Moon and Maybe Before the Heart Attack that Will Kill Him Happens. Or not. My deep thanks to the 10 or 12 readers who make regular donations. You are, truly and genuinely, saints, and I am profoundly grateful for your spectacular generosity. As for the rest of my vast readership -- ha ha ha HA! [that's laughter about the "vast," which, you know, it isn't] -- oh, well. And, nope, I can't cover next month's rent. But given how I feel at the moment, I mean, I can barely stand up, or even sit up half the time, without feeling that I'm about to keel over, I have the strong sense that whether I can pay next month's rent won't matter a damn. Well, we knew this day would come, right? I certainly have, for quite a while. No, acceptance isn't worth shit, if you were wondering.)
So just to take our bearings very briefly -- sort of to, ya know, have a handy-dandy map of contemporary moronity in our itsy-bitsy widdle heads -- let's consider the first item on my list:
"Libertarians" who "justify" their support for what are indisputably racist immigration laws by pointing to public opinion polls. I absolutely love this one. Consider: "libertarians" say they're individualists, in favor of individual rights above all. So to "justify" irrational, blatantly discriminatory policies, they cite polls which indicate that majorities of groups of morons agree with them. It's the libertarian thing to do! The height of individualism!
Recall that in 1968, a year after the Supreme Court decision striking down anti-miscegenation laws, a decisive majority of Americans (roughly 72%) remained opposed to marriages between blacks and whites. Shoulda left those laws in place! If we'd been real individualists, we would have!
And that brings us to the other aspect of this especially moronic approach. "Aw, how can it be racist? We just wanna enforce the law!"
For some words on that subject, start with another rude post. There are lotsa links there to take you to other essays about "the law." (Try this one, or this one.) "The law" means absolutely nothing in terms of what's just or, as in this case, even remotely defensible. To reframe an old saying for this issue (and many others): appeals to "the law" are the last refuge of scoundrels, racists and worse. And may we please always keep in mind that in contemporary America, no person who is a racist and/or who advocates racist policies, and who wishes to be taken "seriously" or achieve any degree of "respectability," is going to admit that's what he is or what he's doing? There. That didn't hurt too much, did it?
When immigration was a hot topic a few years ago, I wrote several essays about it. Here are some links, with some excerpts. The full essays have much, much more on the subject.
From three years ago, in "The Triumph of Racism":
[T]he record is disgustingly clear on the question of the single major factor that led to the death of this bill: the most repellent and primitive kind of racism. Ann Coulter is a singular blight on our cultural landscape, but she does possess one useful characteristic: she will often rip aside the false mask of more "acceptable" arguments concerning a particular controversy and allow us to see the remarkably ugly truth that seethes beneath. [I include Coulter's sickeningly racist statements, all of which are accompanied by her indignant protestations that she is not a racist. As events today demonstrate again, Coulter is very far from alone in these efforts. And just keep reading. Gotta love this fucking country.]From March 2008, in "The United States: Now a Private and Exclusive Country Club, Ruled by Monsters":
Here is the fuller truth that most Americans don't want to acknowledge, including and often especially "well-intentioned" liberals. This kind of vicious racism is usually kept more skillfully under wraps, especially in the last couple of decades when those in public life have learned to become increasingly clever at deploying hatefully wrong ideas covered with effective camouflage. But Hillary Clinton expressed much the same idea, in a comment at the last presidential debate that went almost entirely unnoticed. (Ruth Conniff noticed it, but she's one of the very few who did.) As I note in that post about Clinton, John Kerry offers a similar perspective, as does virtually everyone in our governing class.
As I've discussed in a number of essays, racism has been a foundational element of the United States since its earliest beginnings, long before an independent nation was even formed.
Despite all this, the myth of an inclusive America, one that opens its arms to all, continues. During the past week, I heard and read any number of comments that insist we affirmatively welcome immigrants. We welcome them so long as they are "legal" -- disregarding the hugely and incomprehensibly arbitrary nature of our immigration laws, and that those laws are crafted by already vested interests, those who also possess immense political power; we welcome them so long as they are willing to be fully "assimilated," that is, they are willing to be "Americanized," self-reliant, and independent in the mode adopted specifically by the ruling class in America -- which is to say, by affluent, white (and until very recently, exclusively male) Americans, who have always determined the particular content of the term, "American."
In short, if the United States government decides you are not the "right kind" of person, you are not wanted and you will not be admitted. Following general principles of truth in advertising, I suggest we immediately rename America:Well, this turned out to be not so brief. But I still have further points to make about this latest eruption of the disgusting racism that lies at the core of the American State and of American culture. I'll get to it, I hope.The United States, a Private and Exclusive Country ClubThis should properly be followed by a brief warning to prospective applicants for membership, as well as to those requesting only brief visiting rights:Please be advised that our membership requirements are restrictive in the extreme. We maintain the most rigorous standards of admittance, and only allow a select number of new members to join each year. If you think you have cause to wonder whether you are the right kind of person for our club, you are not....
Finally, consider the following. Sebastian Horsley is a private citizen, who happens to have written a book. He was detained for eight hours, questioned extensively about personal behavior that is not criminal by any reasonable and valid standard, and then sent packing back to London. Your kind is not wanted here, he was told. And the United States government used its considerable power to enforce its judgment.
At the same time, the United States government begins the sixth year of a criminal and illegal occupation of a country that never threatened it, and it has murdered more than one million innocent people. It appears to me, as I think it would appear to any sane human being, that these are actual crimes -- and crimes on a world historical scale, of a scope that is stupefying and almost ungraspable. Has even one person been called to account for those crimes? No. And with the deeply corrupt collaboration of the Democrats who have controlled Congress for over a year, no one ever will be.
For the United States is not just any exclusive, highly restricted country club. It is a country club run by and for a profoundly immoral and corrupt ruling class, led by those who order and direct genocidal murder and those who aid them in their monstrous crimes.
Our troops did the job they were asked to do. They got rid of Saddam Hussein. They conducted the search for weapons of mass destruction. They gave the Iraqi people a chance for elections and to have a government. It is the Iraqis who have failed to take advantage of that opportunity.I discuss the significance and nauseating immorality of Clinton's statement in, "Some Races Are Just Not as Good as Others." I have much, much more to say about the monstrousness of Hillary Clinton in particular. That may be the next installment of what I think will be a separate series: "Things that Make Me Want to Tell People to Shut the Hell Up." There is an astonishingly large number of "dissenting" progressives who strongly condemn many of Obama's policies and who simultaneously offer a ridiculously sanitized, even romanticized, view of Hillary Clinton. But Hillary Clinton is a war criminal and a monster. She has lots of company -- indeed, with less than a handful of exceptions, the same is true of the entire national governing class. On her record, such a judgment is unavoidable. I imagine some readers want more evidence and demand to see the full case. Oh, I'll provide it. You may be sorry you asked.
Last night, Ed Schultz's straw-polling question was: "Do you think the GOP should dump Rand Paul?" Only the usual two options were offered, Yes or No, although in this instance a third was advisable: What, are you nuts? Absolutely not.
Mr. Paul had instantly transformed his Republican primary victory into Democratic serendipity, yet for unstrategic reasons that encroach on the inexplicable, 75 percent of Schultz's presumably liberal responding audience voted Yes.
To be sure, within the abashed confines of Washington's GOP establishment, the tally would have been 100, assuming Mitch McConnell could have paused his piercing laughter just long enough to vote the revengeful, told-you-so dumping of Rand Paul.
For as both a creature and progenitor of the Tea Party movement, Paul had committed the unpardonable political sin: He spoke -- from his point of view -- honestly. Now of course that's a quality that all voters say they most desire in a pol -- Just give us a man who'll speak his mind outright, and, be it right or wrong, we'll at least admire his grit -- although most voters don't quite expect gritty honesty to equal profound Neanderthalism.
In politics, honesty kills, as any experienced pol, presuming extreme inebriation, would happily confirm. But Paul is no experienced pol; he is, rather, a checkers-over-chess babe with a libertarian machine gun. As the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza observed parenthetically: "A clue that Paul should have stopped going down this rhetorical road -- his mention of 'an abstract, obscure conversation from 1964.' That phrase screams 'FULL STOP' to any political strategist."
That Paul would openly regard the indispensible element of legal segregation within a decades-long struggle of monumental and even revolutionary import to be "obscure" was bizarrely uninformed, but to label the brutalizing and very real apartheid system of Jim Crow as "abstract" was downright demented.
As an eagerly learning lad bouncing on Daddy Paul's lap and slurping up libertarian pieties, was any mention ever made of transcendent Constitutional rights, equal protection under the law, or even common human decency as enshrined in American ideals -- to be enforced, if necessary, by higher authorities?
Or was one principle and one principle only handed down -- the inviolable sanctity of private property, no matter its ugliest, most dehumanizing repercussions on actual human beings. That question would seem to be rhetorical.
Rand Paul, following in his father's sophistic footsteps, enjoyed playing a little game of reductio ad absurdum with Rachel Maddow the other night, trying his best to confuse the historic issue of public segregation with discursive ramblings about free speech and Second Amendment rights, as though any collateral constitutionalities had never occurred to the Supreme Court. Think marriage, think bestiality, think Rick Santorum.
I, in turn, tried my best to follow his distractions heaped on abstractions, but I regret to report that I'm a trifle out of practice with drunken, midnight dorm-room sophomorics; yet what's more confusing is that in Mr. Paul's mind some towering "abstractions" seem to ineluctably count, while others don't. Jim Crowism dwelt in the latter, gun rights the former.
If all of this appears insufferably tangled, that's only because it is, and further because the extremist, ideological likes of Mr. Paul know well that circumlocutory sophistry will always impress and dazzle the multitudes -- that false intellectualism will always appeal to America's intensely anti-intellectual tradition.
Well, almost always. Because sometimes the reactionary likes of Mr. Paul go just too damn far, which is to say, they ascend the highest mounts of self-uncensored self-honesty and thereby reveal themselves to the uncommitted as idiots.
And then they become an embarrassment to The Cause; some pieties are permitted only a wink and a nod and the secret handshake among the true believers -- for heaven's sake they're not to be publicly advertised.
So, should you happen to be a Kentucky resident and receive a call asking if the GOP should dump Rand Paul, please, think not a moment before responding, What, are you nuts? Absolutely not. This guy is the best thing to happen to electoral sanity all year.
The Midwest High Speed Rail Association (MHSRA) advocates for fast, frequent and dependable trains linking the entire Midwest. The MHSRA website lists compelling arguments why the Midwest, in particular, needs high-speed rail for its economy to achieve its potential:The Midwest is a strong and diverse economy. The area stretching from the Allegheny Mountains to the Missouri [...]Related posts:
By William Hamilton -- Special to the Blog
Yesterday, Jim DeMint was cornered and stated that he supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 after the firestorm erupted over Rand Paul?s desperate evasions about that legislation which left everyone fairly certain that Rand is OK with legally allowing ?White?s Only? lunch counters, even though personally Rand wouldn?t operate one.
Last week DeMint endorsed Paul, and if he followed his usual practice, DeMint sent Paul some campaign contributions from his PACs and activated the vast right wing donation chain DeMint?s connected to.
A look into DeMint's book shows that while he's more careful than Paul when talking about 40 year old federal legislation, that his thoughts about freedom and civil rights are even more disappointing that Paul's 20 minute wrestling match with Rachael Maddow which at least praised the movement and its leaders.
As usual, when ?Waterloo? starts talking, we must take on the unpleasant and always disappointing work of opening the pages of his right wing manifesto and fairy tale collection, Saving Freedom to see what DeMint has said about this issue (or more accurately what someone collected from the right wing world of cut and paste for Jim to put his name on).
What you say can and will be used against you in American politics.
DeMint?s book doesn?t have a complete index or a functional table of contents, but a version of it appears on Google Books that enables key word searches of the entire text, along with most of the text itself.
?Civil Rights? is mentioned in DeMint?s book only twice. Since its subject is supposedly freedom, that is rather remarkable.
On page 99 the Civil Rights movement is dismissed having been thwarted by a Socialist values agenda which resulted in American minorities being doomed to live in poverty in a lengthy quote from Myron Magnet?s The Dream and the Nightmare. http://books.google.com/...
Page 170 apparently criticizes a historical treatment of the Civil Rights movement for failing to mention the prominent role of churches within the movement.
DeMint?s only reference to Martin Luther King is also found on that same page. DeMint complains that King?s only mentioned in the Capital visitors center three times, but King rates only that one tangential reference in DeMint?s book on ?freedom.?
Other than that, 200 pages allegedly written about freedom doesn?t talk about Civil Rights in the context of the American freedom movement. Most of DeMint?s discussion is about economic rights, which belong, of course, only to those who have money. DeMint spends a lot of time talking about how important it is for people to have the opportunity to accumulate money, but the freedom money provides is a rather academic concept to someone who doesn?t have any.
The conclusion one reaches is that Jim DeMint doesn?t value the Civil Rights movement or its achievements very highly. He?s smart enough not to sign on for segregated lunch counters when Think Progress has a video camera pointed at him, but freedom for Jim DeMint is about owning things and having things. It?s about tax cuts and privatizing Social Security. He?s far more concerned with the sandwich on the counter and the counter, than anyone?s right to sit down there and order.
Today Vic Rawl, DeMint?s Democratic Challenger for the US Senate, called on DeMint to withdraw his endorsement of Paul. Rawl lived through the Civil Rights movement in South Carolina as a young man and its later stages as a four term legislator. He?s presided over cases relevant to it as a Judge. Rawl is on a first name basis with dozens of men and women in South Carolina for whom the risks and struggles of the Civil Rights era were their personal experience and the major work of their lives. Some of them are working on his campaign. They always bring something special into a room with them. Rawl has served on the Board of the Public Defender Corporation and the League of Women Voters. You can read Rawl?s challenge to DeMint on his website at http://www.vicrawl.com/...
It?s disturbing that a United State?s Senator like Jim DeMint can?t weigh the significance of a movement which transformed life in his own state in his lifetime. DeMint was born in 1951. He must remember desegregation in South Carolina which transformed life in the state, sometimes with violence and nearly always with controversy. Somehow, it made little impression on him and he doesn?t consider it very relevant to the sort of ?freedom? that matters.
When I went to the Lincoln Memorial with my son?s class from Moultrie Middle School in Mt. Pleasant, SC, I made sure to find the exact spot where King spoke. I pointed it out to the African American student who was unknowingly standing on it. (The words ?I have a dream? are chiseled into the steps there.) I then told her to look forward to what King saw, the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument, and then behind her to the visage of Lincoln looking out through the columns. I assured her that those words, uttered from that place, would never be forgotten. I promised her they would resonate down through history.
They ought to, but they only will if we elect men to public office who carry them in their heart and mind. Rawl does that. DeMint doesn't. His book betrays it.
DeMint had nothing of value to say about Civil Rights today when Think Progress chased him down. He had nothing to say about it in his book. He clearly doesn?t place it centrally in his understanding of freedom. That proves Jim DeMint doesn?t really understand freedom at all.
Financial Reform passes, it's all relatively derivative of something.[...]
Read The Full Article:
A judge will investigate claims that British intelligence agencies were complicit in the torture of terror suspects, William Hague, the foreign secretary, said tonight.I find myself in the astonishing position of backing William Hague's proposal on something whilst condemning the inaction of Barack Obama. This is not where I expected to find myself.
Hague's remarks appear to have caught the Foreign Office by surprise, as no details were yet available on how the inquiry will be conducted, its terms of reference or when it will start work.
Hague will come under pressure to ensure the inquiry is public and comprehensive. He first called last year for an independent judicial inquiry into claims that British officials had colluded in the torture of Binyam Mohamed, the former Guantánamo detainee and a UK resident.
Mohamed claimed that he was tortured by US forces in Pakistan and Morocco, and that MI5 fed the CIA questions that were used by US forces.
Philippe Sands QC, professor of law at University College London, said tonight: "To restore trust in government, both here and abroad, and to get to the truth, the inquiry needs to be deep and broad and as open as possible. It should address, in particular, who authorised what and when and why, what the relevant legal advice said, and how it related to any change in US practice in 2002 and 2003."
Tayab Ali, a London solicitor who represents a number of men alleging torture, said the inquiry presented "a significant and precious opportunity" for the British public to understand their country's role in torture.
"So far ministers have stuck to the mantra that 'we never condone, authorise or co-operate in torture'," Hague wrote. "But this does not dispel any of the accusations. If anything, there is now a direct and irreconcilable conflict between such ministerial assurances and the account given by Mr Mohamed. That must be resolved."All Hague is asking for is that we find out what is true. He's not yet promising prosecution, he's merely saying that we need to find out who is telling the truth here.
The police are focusing on a single intruder who disappeared with five paintings from the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani. What kind of a person steals such pieces of art? Even worse, what kind of bottom dweller would think to buy them?"
This is a serious attack on the heritage of humanity," said Christophe Girard, deputy culture secretary at Paris city hall, standing on the steps of the museum amid a swarm of television cameras. Listing works by Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani and Fernard Léger, Bertrand Delanoe, the city's mayor, urged that everything be done "to recover these masterpieces".
Girard said it remained unclear whether the thief, who removed the paintings from their frames and rolled them up to so that they could be carried away easily, had been acting alone or with a team.
Sources pointed out that if the thief had had people waiting for him, he would have been able to make a speedy getaway, thanks to the museum's proximity to the fast-moving traffic of roads running along the side of the Seine.
So, the Wall Street reform bill passed in the Senate. It's on to conference with the House. Expectations are for a final bill before the July 4th recess. We'll see. Things have a way of not happening as intended here in DC -- even on bills that have strong public support. Lots of people blame lobbyists, but lobbyists only have power and influence because lawmakers let them have power and influence.
Can't wait to see what the stock market does today. Remember how we all used our tax dollars to save the financial sector? Yeah.
The oil is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. I just don't think we've begun to fully grasp the extent of the massive damage its doing. Senator Bill Nelson and Rep. Ed Markey have forced BP to provide a live feed of the oil spill. It's here on Markey's site, but it's been overloaded since it went live. Senator Bill Nelson has a widget on his website that estimates the amount of oil pouring into the Gulf.
Next week, we should see votes to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell on the floor of the House and in the Senate Armed Services Committee. Both votes will occur as amendments to the 2011 Defense Authorization bill. If you haven't called your members of Congress to urge a vote for repeal yet, do it. Our opponents are going to be burning up the phone lines. The main number for the Capitol is: 202-224-3121. It's especially critical to make calls if one of these six members of the Senate Armed Services Committee is your Senator:
Robert C. Byrd (D-West Virginia)Call today. And, then call back next week. If you need inspiration to make the calls, check out some of the letters in SLDN's series, Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama. For the past four weeks, an open letter has been sent every day to Obama from someone impacted by DADT. Over 50 blogs, including AMERICAblog Gay, have posted the letters. Today's is from an Active Duty Marine who wants to serve his country. These letters have been very powerful.
Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska)
Bill Nelson (D-Florida)
Evan Bayh (D-Indiana)
Jim Webb (D-Virginia)
Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts)
video details and more
video details and more
Rand Paul and other right wingers have an unbelievable belief in the power of the market to correct all wrongs, even after the market almost utterly collapsed due to individual greed.
Here, Rand Paul argues that he is not a racist - and I am happy to believe that he is not - but he also argues that individual business's should be allowed to discriminate if they so choose.
He puts such faith in the market that he is actually unwilling to answer whether or not the Woolworth lunch counter should be allowed to remain segregated.
This is an extremist position. He has such faith in the market that he is adamant that private business should have no government interference at all, even if the private individual who owns the business is determined to deprive other people of their human rights based on nothing other than their skin colour.
"I wouldn't attend, wouldn't support, wouldn't go to," a private institution that discriminates, he told Rachel Maddow. But he would let them discriminate.He might not agree with discrimination, and he might wish to take his business elsewhere when faced with restaurants and bars which discriminate against people based on their colour, but he nevertheless argues for their right to discriminate.
I'm always impressed by broadcast journalists who can, without getting angry, grab the point of contention and drive at it in a manner that is as civil as it is relentless. This is the art of killing softy, of quietly twisting the knife.Rand Paul may not be a racist, but he believes that the right of the individual - rather than the collective - should always have supremacy. To that end he is prepared to argue that racist bar owners should be allowed to discriminate.
"It was a poor political decision and probably won't be happening anytime in the near future," the Tea Party endorsed Senate candidate said on the Laura Ingraham show on Thursday morning. "Because, yeah, they can play things and want to say, 'Oh you believed in beating up people that were trying to sit in restaurants in the 1960s.' And that is such a ridiculous notion and something that no rational person is in favor of. [But] she went on and on about that."He's playing "shoot the messenger", but the problem here is his message. Racism and discrimination are simply wrong. And governments should have the power to stop people, even individual business owners, when they seek to discriminate against others. To me, that point is simply inarguable.