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madfloridian

Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Florida
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 81,559

About Me

Retired teacher who sees much harm to public education from the "reforms" being pushed by corporations. Privatizing education is the wrong way to go. Children can not be treated as products, thought of in terms of profit and loss.

Journal Archives

I have a couple of ideas why the middle class is not as strong.

Both involve conscious decisions made by the Democratic party think tank, DLC, which had too much influence on the party.

A couple of quotes from Simon Rosenberg, one of the founders of the DLC paint a pretty clear picture.

On the reason they founded the think tank called the Democratic Leadership Council:

"freed... from positions making it difficult for us to win. "...Simon Rosenberg.

"Simon Rosenberg, the former field director for the DLC who directs the New Democrat Network, a spin-off political action committee, says, "We're trying to raise money to help them lessen their reliance on traditional interest groups in the Democratic Party. In that way," he adds, "they are ideologically freed, frankly, from taking positions that make it difficult for Democrats to win."


And another quote just after we lost the 2004 presidential election.

The clash will be between the "governing class" and the "activist class."

From an article called "What Happens to the Losing Team".

If there's a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, predicts Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network, a moderate advocacy group, it won't be the usual skirmish between the liberals and moderates of the professional political class in Washington but one between the Washington insiders on one side and the rank-and-file activists spread out across the country on the other. "What's changed over the past two years is that activist Democrats believe that Republicans are venal people," says Rosenberg. These activists "are going to be very intolerant of Democrats in Washington who cooperate with the Republicans. There's going to be tremendous pressure to stand up and fight and not roll over and play dead."


From the NYT Matt Bai in 2005:

Nothing better illustrated the passing of the party's long
ideological debate better than the explosive presidential campaign of Howard
Dean (now the party's chairman), whose record as a pro-gun, pro-Democratic
Leadership Council governor did nothing to prevent him from seamlessly
assuming the role of chief spokesman for those liberal voters who had always
embodied the so-called Democratic left.

What Dean's candidacy brought into the open, however, was another kind of
growing and powerful tension in Democratic politics that had little to do
with ideology. Activists often describe this divide as being between
"insiders" and "outsiders," but the best description I've heard came from
Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic operative who runs the advocacy group N.D.N.
(formerly New Democrat Network), which sprang from Clintonian centrism of
the early 1990's. As Rosenberg explained it, the party is currently riven
between its "governing class" and its "activist class." The former includes
the establishment types who populate Washington - politicians, interest
groups, consultants and policy makers. The second comprises "Net roots"
Democrats on the local level; that is, grass-roots Democrats, many of whom
were inspired by Dean and who connect to politics primarily online, through
blogs or Web-based activist groups like MoveOn.org. The argument between the
camps isn't about policy so much as about tactics, and a lot of Democrats in
Washington don't even seem to know it's happening.


The party that should have been standing for the grassroots failed to do so.

Yes, benefits will be reduced and the cost of stuff won't.

Here's a good article from Huff Post's Daniel Marans.

Ten Reasons Why the Chained CPI Is Terrible Policy
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-marans/social-security-fiscal-cliff_b_2363997.html

Here are the first four listed. Note how very hard it would be to pick out which ones are the most needy and then exempt them.

Now that Christmas is over, President Obama and Speaker Boehner will soon resume talks to cut Social Security as part of a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. Here are 10 reasons why the chained CPI -- the Social Security cut they are considering -- is terrible policy.

....1. Chained CPI is a significant benefit cut that compounds over time, hitting late old-age beneficiaries and the long-time disabled hardest. For a worker with average earnings retiring at age 65 in 2015, chained CPI would cut benefits $653 a year (3.7 percent) at age 75, $1,139 a year (6.5 percent) at age 85 and $1,611 a year (9.2 percent) at age 95.

2. Chained CPI hits current beneficiaries. Even Paul Ryan tried to hold people ages 55 and older harmless from his plan to privatize Medicare (and Social Security before that). Seriously. Check out page 52 of his 2013 budget, and every speech he ever gave on the topic. The theory is, if you're gonna burn people, give them some time to adopt a Spartan lifestyle for several years so they can make up for the lost pension money in time for retirement.

3. Chained CPI cuts benefits for veterans. At least 771,000 veterans receive both Social Security and VA disability benefits. Under chained CPI, both would be cut. A fully disabled veteran claiming benefits at age 30 in 2012 would see a cut in VA benefits alone of $1,425 a year (4.3 percent) at age 45, $2,341 a year (7 percent) at age 55, and $3,231 a year (9.7 percent) at age 65.

4. Chained CPI cuts benefits for the indigent elderly and disabled on Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Do I need to add detail here? These are the poorest of the poor.

Judged now by loyalty to a political leader? No disagreement accepted.

This is a partial rewrite from last year, last December in fact. It so perfectly describes the situation now.

I see the situation clearly because I was in such a place myself at one time. It was my first real political activism, and I stretched the loyalty past its appropriate time.

I am sure many remember my loyalty to Dean's campaign during the 2004 election. I was mocked for being devoted to a political personality. Many of us were.

Most of us realized eventually that he was moving on, going back to his centrist roots....and we went other directions as well. I still believe that in that year he could have been a power house against Bush.

It's ironic that so many who mocked me back then are even more devoted to a political personality. They judge me now not by my public education advocacy, not by the stances I take, but because I question some of the policies of this administration.

I believe that as the election year of 2012 progresses, there will be added pressure not to speak out on pertinent issues. Our country is in deep trouble, and we in 2008 gave our party a majority to fix it. They had two years in which they could have turned around so many things, but they did not.

And we lost in 2010 to a group of uninformed people who actually stood up and spoke out loudly for their beliefs, confused and wrongheaded though those beliefs might be. That old canard of Bill Clinton, that it is better to be "wrong and strong" than "weak and right" really took hold. And that was a shame. Being "wrong and strong" is dangerous indeed.


It's been almost impossible to get the word out about the privatization of public education. It has been a topic of mine and of many other bloggers, but the big media outlets have not and probably will never tell of it honestly.

It is a topic that is of necessity critical of the president....because it is his policy. Yet it is easy to be considered disloyal and ignored if we speak of it.

There has been an offer to change the way the cost of living is figured for seniors on Social Security, a change that will cover all other programs as well. It is in reality a cut, but it is not being called that. We are supposed to accept it.

It dates back to the 2010 fiscal commission which had a co-chair who said this of Social Security.

Social Security Is 'A Milk Cow With 310 Million Tits'

"I've made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know 'em too...We've reached a point now where it's like a milk cow with 310 million tits!"

"Stop yapping your lips and listen good. This commission might be packed with millionaires, but we're looking out for little people who need Social Security."


Yes, that's the man chosen by the president to co-chair the commission to determine our financial future. The other is not that much better.

More from my rewrite:

The changes to the social safety nets for seniors, the sneaky ways to turn public schools over to management companies who get taxpayer money, the denigration of public school teachers....these things that the right wing and conservative Democrats have wanted for ages are finally coming to pass right now.

.."When there is only one basis for judging the character and worth of people, and that basis is devotion to one man....it will drive away those who are sincere and push them aside from the party.


I remember during the lead up to the Iraq invasion. It was a time our country invaded another country based on lies. I remember that the Republicans would not utter a single word against George Bush. Nor would the media. Nor would our leading Democrats. People like Phil Donahue with high ratings were taken off the air for being anti-war openly.

There's a harm in asking people not to express their views, and to ask them to walk in lockstep.

Crossposted at Twitter


CEO of non-profit that services FL Juvenile Justice System..over $1.2 million a year public money.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/27/v-fullstory/3158686/florida-department-of-juvenile.html

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice calls executive’s pay ‘excessive’

A nonprofit company that holds two dozen state contracts to care for troubled juveniles in Florida pays its chief executive more than $1.2 million a year in salary and benefits, most of it courtesy of taxpayers.

Outraged, the state Department of Juvenile Justice says the money paid to William Schossler is excessive and should be spent to help kids.

...“This is a hell of a way to do business, throwing me under the bus,” Schossler said of Walters’ criticism.

The foundation opposes the elimination of its funding under Walters’ reorganization proposal.


Floridians might be beginning to be aware of where their taxpayer money is going. In October we learned about a failed charter school in Orlando which paid their principal $824,000 while only allowing $366,000 on teacher salaries and instruction in the 2010-2011 school year.

http://journals.democraticunderground.com/madfloridian/8490

The principal in question not only received a $519,000 severance check, but she took home her $305,000 annual salary for a grand total of $824,000 during the 2010-2011 school year. The Orlando Sentinel also reported last week the school only spent $366,000 on teacher salaries and instruction during that school year. Nothing can justify that imbalance, especially for the leader of a charter that failed.

Public school district superintendents don't even make that kind of unconscionable salary. School boards would face public rage for even proposing such pay.

.."Last week the Miami Herald reported that Charter Schools USA handed out in excess of $205,000 in contributions to political organizations and candidates for this election, three times the amount the Fort Lauderdale-based company spent two years ago.

That money must come from the profits the company earns at taxpayer expense; in effect, the public is paying that political price so charter schools can leverage even greater profits from the Legislature.




More from David Plouffe's warning "left" of tough times. How I feel about such warnings.

I just posted Ed Schultz's segment on David Plouffe in the video forum.

It was about Plouffe's visit to the campus of the University of Delaware. There he told the group that Medicare and Medicaid were the chief drivers of the deficit. He warned that the "left" would have tough times. In fact he said Democrats would have to do tough things on spending entitlement and be criticized by "their left." He did not say "our left", he could have at least made it a little more personal.

There are constant jibes at the left, the liberals. We are always talked about in the 3rd person. Like we are in a separate place or location in time and space from the rest of the party. We are referred to as they or them, never in the 1st person plural like we or us.

As we have moved to the right things have changed in this country. The wars are growing longer, the rich are getting richer, and now the poor are growing poorer.

Each time we get in power now we move right so as not to offend the Republicans, while they have no hesitation about offending us greatly and often.

The most annoying thing of all is the attempt to portray liberals as not very bright, not very politically savvy, unable to see the big picture.

I remembered a post at Daily Kos in 2010 about a diarist talking with David Plouffe at the Tom Harkin steak fry in Iowa. Apparently he showed those colors about the left and the future stances of the party even then.

Social Security and David Plouffe: An Action Diary (Updated)

When David Plouffe held out his hand, I introduced myself as a precinct captain, and told him I'm concerned about the future. I said that I fear that the debt commission will recommend cutting Social Security by raising the retirement age and messing with cost of living adjustments, and that the President will sign the bill.

..."Instead of responding on Social Security, Plouffe started talking about the deficit and how it had to be addressed, implying that it would justify changes to Social Security. I said that according to Krugman and other economists, Social Security doesn't affect the deficit, and people want to cut it just to make the bond market happy. He said they don't always agree with Krugman, and made a little face that said he isn't their favorite. Then he started talking about China and the trade situation, and a mixed salad of other "big issues" facing the White House. I don't remember everything he brought up because I was thinking that he was filibustering to avoid talking about Social Security, and it was frustrating. I think his point was that they have big problems to address, but he did not explain why any of it was relevant to raising the Social Security retirement age.

..."In 2012, he wants Iowa precinct captains on his side, so it would have been in his interest to reassure me when I declined to be distracted by GOP privatization threats and the trade deficit. It would have been easy, but he didn't even try. His body language was closed. He seemed uncomfortable or slightly irritated.







Plouffe in Nov. said Medicare, Medicaid driving deficit. Says "left" must accept tough things.

David Plouffe is close with this administration. He said this in November after Obama's big win. He is warning the left. Seems to me when "the left" tries to stand for things Democrats traditionally have stood for, things like Social Security and public education, they are often "warned" they will harm the party.

Ed Schultz, liberals unhappy with David Plouffe for suggesting entitlement reform

We’re all familiar with the Obama administration’s “I won” approach to compromise, but White House senior advisor David Plouffe today earned the scorn of liberals when video of him naming Medicare and Medicaid as the chief drivers of the deficit made the rounds. MSNBC’s Ed Schultz was among those trying to reel Plouffe back from the edge of reality.




For politicians: "'How-to Manual' for Betraying Seniors and People with Disabilities"

From Huff Post by Nancy Altman of Social Security Works and Eric Kingson of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

This paints a pretty sad picture of the Democrats who are in a quandary right now over the cuts in Social Security which are being called something else.

Our 'How-to Manual' for Betraying Seniors and People with Disabilities

They want to be counted as among the "serious people in the room." You know, the folks who are willing to "compromise" the well-being of everyday Americans and vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities to claim credit for striking a "grand bargain."

But they're in a bind. Most, including President Obama and Speaker Boehner, have acknowledged that Social Security has not and cannot contribute a penny to the federal debt.
Nearly all are on record as promising that they will never, ever cut the benefits of today's seniors and people with disabilities. They've seen those pesky polls showing that the American people, Republicans, Independents and Democrats, alike, strongly oppose benefit cuts. Constituents understand that playing around with the way COLAs are calculated is a benefit cut, pure and simple. They state their opposition in polls; some have expressed their opposition by calling or even paying visits to the offices of those elected to represent them.

Yes, pity those poor politicians. They don't want to be held accountable, they certainly don't want to lose the next election, but they don't want to take their constituents' side in opposition to Wall Street CEOs, elite media, and others pushing for bad policy. These politicians sorely need a "way out" and we are pleased to help by summarizing five lessons from our path-breaking new book, "Betraying Seniors and People with Disabilities: A How to Manual for your Garden Variety Politician."


Be sure to read all five of the "lessons", and you will see just how it is all playing out right now.

Number 4 of the five lessons they quote is the one that really caught my attention.

Lesson Number 4: Explain that it could have been worse. Float even worse policy ideas like increasing the nation's health care costs by throwing those aged 65 and 66 off of Medicare. Draw as much attention as you can toward those numbskull ideas, hoping that Americans will be relieved that you didn't do worse.


You can follow Nancy Altman's campaign FOR Social Security at Twitter:

NoSocSecCuts

Crossposted at Madfloridian's Twitter page





I am not ready to eat crow and assume the cuts to Social Security are off the table.

I am eagerly awaiting word that the new COLA using Chained CPI is no longer up for discussion.

So far I have not seen anything definitive. I have seen pictures of crows and read call outs for those of us who are speaking up about Democrats putting such cuts up for discussion with a bunch of extremist Republicans.

Let me quote Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer. Then I will quote the words of a union leader.

Chained CPI Not A Deal Breaker For Many Democrats

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), however, said this week that she did not consider chained CPI a benefit cut and that she could get enough Democrats to support it.


More from Pelosi:

Pelosi and Hoyer keeping an open mind to cuts to entitlement programs

The Democrats will stick with the president,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday when asked about the Social Security provisions on MSNBC.

Pelosi emphasized that the details of the plan “are not all ironed out,” and acknowledged that “maybe not every single Democrat” would support it. But she expressed confidence that an agreement backed by Obama — if it protected the oldest and the poorest — would win significant support from her troops.


Steny Hoyer, from that same article:

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) delivered a similar message Tuesday.

“Everybody needs to understand that nobody is going to be happy with every provision of a deal,” Hoyer warned. “Some members will have problems with some parts, but … if we get an agreement that the president can support, hopefully we can get a majority in the House — Republicans and Democrats — and Speaker John Boehner and the leader Pelosi and I will convince members that we ought to move forward.”

Hoyer added, “Affecting entitlements would not be our first choice, but then again, I don’t think you get there from here without dealing, in some respects, with entitlements.”


And the vague indefinite words from Richard Trumka on the chained CPI:

Richard Trumka On Fiscal Cliff: Not Ready To Blow Up Deal Over Obama's Social Security Concession

In other words it sounds like he does not want to be the first to blink. If everyone acts that way, no telling what we will end up with in the final agreement.

WASHINGTON -- The head of the most powerful union federation in the country is holding off judgment on President Obama's most recent debt reduction proposal, despite its inclusion of cuts to Social Security beneficiaries.

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka called the chained-CPI proposal offered by Obama as part of his recent effort to resolve the so-called fiscal cliff standoff, "bad policy" that he and his group were strongly against. But in an interview with The Huffington Post on Thursday morning, Trumka stopped notably short of urging Democrats to walk away from the table because of it.

"I want to see more of the details. But we oppose the cuts," Trumka said. "We'll oppose the cuts. We will be talking to them about a number of things. Obviously I want to look at the whole deal before we make any decision."


Trumka, like others in the labor community, has been placed in a political pickle following the president's most recent offer. Having spent months demanding that Democrats remove Social Security from the negotiating table, he's now confronted with the choice of supporting a deal with those very cuts, or demanding their removal and risking no deal at all. The latter would mean no chained-CPI, which would result in less generous cost of living adjustments for those on Social Security. But it also would mean the loss of two other labor priorities: unemployment benefits and infrastructure money, both of which are also in Obama's latest proposal.


And what about all our calls and emails?

So what do you do when the president puts Social Security cuts on the table for discussion? You can say they are not cuts, they are making it stronger. We have heard that so many times before.

Sounds to me like all three leaders above are not paying attention to what the people are saying very loudly..."no cuts to Social Security." They seem to be determined to stay on talking points and not make waves about it.

When people are ridiculed and asked to eat crow before all the facts are in, there is a dark cloud put over honest and clear discussions of party policy.

It should not be us vs them in an atmosphere of gotcha.




Chalkface blog kudos. Tired warriors in the education fight.

From one of my favorite education blogs and twitterers:

Tired warriors in the fight for public education

Weary is the best word to describe it. Many are tired.

There are those who’ve had backs against walls. Others who’ve been marginalized. “Naysayers, crazies, lunatics, loose cannons,” they are told. Or, in some cases, worse.

We must remain true to some very basic principles:

1. Those who’ve never taught should not dictate education policy, at any level. I’ve stood before classes of young children, even as recently as four months ago.

2. We must understand that the various connections between for-profit companies and public education mandates are no coincidence. Someone, somewhere wants a piece of the roughly $600 billion education marketplace.


And one of my favorite posts at the blog:

What did you do in school today...what they don't tell you (written by a teacher)

“What did you do in school today?” “Nothing.” Ah….the generic response of children when confronted upon their parents arrival home from work. No need to press the issue. As a 15-year veteran public school teacher, I’ll share the 411 from an insider’s perspective — with a well-deserved angle of candidness and transparency for parents and tax payers.

Your child is becoming highly proficient with filling in little circles on bubble sheets and is acquiring a wealth of knowledge on the questioning and structure of standardized tests.

Today’s students are test-taking gurus, a direct result of being instructed via a curriculum driven by high-stakes standardized testing.
A 4th grader in New York, for instance, will spend around five weeks in which they’ll be subjected to some form of standardized assessments. This figure does not account for far more time which is allocated towards test preparation — aka “teaching for the test”. Live in NY and thinking about moving? Don’t. Analogous situations exist in the other states. Your child is being shortchanged of basic academic skills, life skills, crucial thinking, social interaction, and creativity as more time, effort, resources, and money are spent on standardized testing.


As a matter of fact one large charter school chain in NY brags about their little test-taking machines.

Charter school director: When "test day came, they were like little test-taking machines.


"We have a gap to close," says Paul Fucaloro, director of instruction. "I want the kids on edge, constantly."
(Photo: Yolo Monakhov for New York Magazine)


The day before the scheduled math test, the city got socked with eight inches of snow. Of 1,499 schools in the city, 1,498 were closed. But at Harlem Success Academy 1, 50-odd third-graders trudged through 35-mile-per-hour gusts for a four-hour session over Subway sandwiches. As Moskowitz told the Times, "I was ready to come in this morning and crank the heating boilers myself if I had to."

"We have a gap to close, so I want the kids on edge, constantly," Fucaloro adds. "By the time test day came, they were like little test-taking machines."


Crossposted at Twitter

Read some Dem comments about Chained CPI. Let's not pretend it won't pass. It might.

It does represent a cut to Social Security. That is not a stance I expect from Democrats. Many of these statements from Democrats in Congress lack a real stance against this new way of figuring the COLA.

The most disturbing one to me is by Nancy Pelosi.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), however, said this week that she did not consider chained CPI a benefit cut and that she could get enough Democrats to support it.


More:

Chained CPI Not A Deal Breaker For Many Democrats

When asked during the conference by The Huffington Post if they would vote against such a deal, they did not say they would.

"It is conceivable that you could have a package that is attractive in so many other ways that you might swallow it," Frank said, "but here's the problem ... there are going to have to be compromises in other areas, and what we are saying is this one for many of us is a deal breaker, or close to a deal breaker by itself, and so it might could well be part of a broader package, but that broader package ain't gonna be no Christmas present."


Close to a dealbreaker? Not good enough.

"What we're saying here today is a deal is not done yet," Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) said at the presser. "And so there is still time in the negotiations, because we want to make it clear both to the president and to our leadership that the chained CPI is an inaccurate reflection of what real living costs are for our seniors, and would result in a real benefit cut for them."


There should be no deal on the table. Rep. Edwards, I am quite sure the president and leadership are well-versed on the Chained CPI. It should not be on the table.

I heard Chris Van Hollen on MSNBC last night. He did not sound very convincing at all about being opposed to this deal.

This post in the comments caught my eye. I agree.

Social Security does not belong in this discussion. It does not and has not contributed to our debt. This is simply an excuse to cut a program that is unrelated to the problem.

Cutting Social Security to fix the deficit is like invading Iraq to get Bin Laden. It's simply an excuse to pursue a hidden agenda.


The Democratic think tanks have considered this method for quite a while. These think tanks usually get their policies enacted because they have the money, and money is power.

The Third Way openly and proudly included this last year when they openly and proudly presented their plans for Social Security reform.

It was put on the table by Democrats.
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