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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 22,075

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The "homogeneity" of Finland is mostly irrelevant to its educational success.

Finland is "small," but it's on the same scale as most large US school systems. Same population as Kentucky, so why can't Kentucky copy Finland?

The key elements are eminently reproducible. Finland has twice as many teachers per student as New York City. They are paid well. They have secure jobs and a strong union. Being a teacher is an attractive and respected career. If you could bring those conditions here, the greater diversity here would not be a problem.

Furthermore they don't start drilling their children from infancy. No "head start," no early tracking. School starts at age seven! Foreign languages are taught from the beginning. Grades aren't given until, I believe, the sixth grade. Standardized tests aren't given until high school, and yet Finnish students in the 12th grade score among the highest in international comparisons. They don't teach the test, they educate the person, and then the older person has no problems with the test.

The real problem here is not the heterogeneity of the population, but the stubborness of the mainstream culture. It's very hard for Americans, both PTB and most others, to accept that a humane and cooperative and loving approach is superior to the constant competition and stress and authoritarian harangues of our rat race.

Honestly? Wishful thinking.

There is little interest in inflating "our" way out of this mess, which would imply a desire to do good by the people (in capitalist economic terms) by making the economy competitive in international trade (also reducing debt burdens).

The system doesn't work for that purpose. It is set up to funnel ever-larger portions of overall wealth to the rich, which is accomplished through debt on the people, regressive taxation and deflationary economics. All this money creation via the Fed is in the form of notional trillions that end up on bank balance sheets (whether as loans or government bonds) to offset the fact that the too-big-to-exist banks are insolvent. The bailouts are bad because they keep the financial gangsters in power, allowing them to continue extracting rentier income in the form of interest and through their ownership of key assets. But extra trillions on the bank books do not translate into increased demand in the real economy, and it's not money supply but demand that drives goods inflation. Cost of living gets more expensive in sectors essential to the life of the majority (food and fuel and various rentier payments such as insurance and interest) but the overall economic situation remains deflationary, causing defaults and bankruptcies as wealth concentrates further and "assets return to their rightful owners" in the words of the robber baron and Treasury secretary Andrew Mellon. That's how a depression works. You should read more Michael Hudson and less of these many libertarian "investors," often goldbugs peddling inflation panics on their own behalf. In this scheme, a hyperinflation is not impossible but it would be a failure, a genuine collapse that will also threaten the "one percent." It took me a while to figure this out, since we're all deprived of proper economic education (including economists, most of whom are little more than trained ideologists).

An honest statement of divide and conquer, at least.

It's a degenerately instrumental view of politics to set up an unnecessary and bogus competition between inalienable human rights and declare that some (such as those protected by the habeas corpus clause and the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments) are dispensable, as long as others you "value" more highly are protected. In this you're acknowledging to be no different than what you accuse Ron Paul of doing (valuing only those rights that are important to him and his group or class).

I value reproductive rights as derived from the 9th amendment, and all civil rights -- those protected by the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments as well as those protected by the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as well as those derived since then through case law and after the many struggles and sacrifices of the people for equality and justice in social and economic spheres.

Whereas, just as you accuse of Ron Paul (more or less correctly), you seem to value those rights that seem vital to your political goals, and have now suggested you don't care who is trampled if you don't think their rights are important to those goals.

Those most responsible for it will have the consolation of scapegoating "the left."

Same story in 1980, 1984, 1988, of course 2000, and 2004. The punditry will claim Obama was too far to the left for America after all, regardless of how far to the right he goes. Along with the DLC-type factions, here on DU a certain set who have declared themselves as the most committed to Obama's reelection -- although their policy ideas and style of rhetoric don't help his prospects -- have already established that they will be blaming leftists within and without the Democratic party for wanting too many ponies and being too mean to Obama.

With regard to your statement: "Obama restored the checks and balances of the Constitution."

How? You might have a case for saying: He wanted to, he tried here and there. But please tell what checks and balances upset under Bush (or before) have been restored under Obama? Was there an end to any of the following: general warrantless surveillance of millions, the power of indefinite preemptive detention of suspects without legal counsel or informing their family, Guantanamo and secret prisons, presidential power to designate enemy combatants (under whatever label) who are fair game for assassination without trial, authority to assassinate foreign leaders, the concept that the whole world including the "homeland" is battlefield, the USA PATRIOT Act with its expansive definitions of "terrorism," the Homeland Security Department, militarization of police, use of military as police, vertical and horizontal integration of hundreds of state and local police agencies under federal supervision without independent let alone civilian oversight, plans for "Code Red" without the silly colors, harrassment of whistleblowers (Thomas Drake), unwarranted classification and over-classification of millions of documents, vast secret agencies that are unaccountable and barely overseen by another branch ("Top Secret" budget now up to 80 billion dollars), privatization of government security functions (two thirds of "Top Secret" budget now goes to private contractors), legal harrassment of voters off the rolls and use of felony as a means to suppress the vote? Some of these, it is true (like the last example) you can say Obama tried or is trying to change; some of these Bush "achievements" accomplished ad-hoc his administration has consciously consolidated or made worse (as with the just-signed Defense Authorization). But which of these has gotten better since 2009? What has actually changed in the law or in common government practice, that you can make the statement in the past tense: "Obama restored the checks and balances of the Constitution"? Please tell us.

It may be your judgement that primaries always damage the winner...

but it is not true. Certainly on the presidential level, almost every new incumbent arrived through a competitive primary, proving at the least they must not have been "damaged" by it to the point where they could not win a general election. Even more opposite to your judgement on this is that the most recent presidential primary fight strengthened the eventual nominee's prospects in November, contrary to what pundits were bemoaning at the time, and again, contrary to this tired wisdom that internal dissent is always bad for a party. Please, try an empirical approach.

However, more fundamental here is that you have confused right and wrong with what you think is good or bad for "the President's electoral prospects." You seem unwilling to imagine any other acceptable standard for making decisions, and thus the president can do no wrong and no criticism can be accepted; in the end, all criticism of the administration is characterized as crypto-Republican.

I agree with the OP. It's important to attach an exact one-word label to everybody.

There are so many people! When I try to count all the people, my brain hurts!

And there are so many words, too! Look at all those words and words!

It's so very hard to use more than word per person. I need a word, one word, that tells me right away if I love someone or if I hate him.

Oh, how I hate people who have bad words attached to them! Hate, hate, hate! It's fun. Every day, for two minutes.

So I'm glad someone is pursuing this important question.

But please don't confuse me with big, non-existent words like liberaltarian.

Apparently the rights of two million people in the prison system...

most of them caught up in the drug war for sales and possession offenses...

a disproportionate number of them minorities from a poor background...

or the resulting disenfranchisement of a large proportion of black men through felony convictions...

or the fact that prisons are also labor camps used to suppress all working people's wages...

or that millions of black and latino people are subjected to unreasonable search and seizure...

all of which has the drug war as one of the main pretexts...

matter even less to you.

Your statement is flat-out wrong. If it were merely making the absurd argument that it's all right to imprison people for possessing marijuana long as other peoples' rights (presumably yours?) are protected, that would be bad enough.

However the drug war has millions of victims, corrupts entire societies (especially police forces), forms the basis for enormous money laundering and offshore influence on politics, costs untold billions in state and federal funds, has devastated entire nations (Mexico and Colombia), funds narco-dictatorships and death squads, uses fear just like the "war on terror" to move politics to the right, and was condemned for all this last year by a commission of the UN consisting mostly of liberal and conservative former presidents of many of the most hard-hit countries! Oh yeah, the drug profits made possible by prohibition have also funded covert operations and paramilitaries around the world for decades, from the Kuomintang to the Contras to the Afghan mujahedeen (both when they were US allies and when they were enemies).

It is an epically disastrous and inhumane policy with effects that go beyond the already intolerable injustice of imprisoning people for their personal consumption choices (whether or not these are bad choices).

Sorry LynneSin, you shouldn't narrow this huge issue down to dismissable (if wrong) simplistic talking points.

"Missing Foundation," long defunct band...

but thanks to the symbol, the cult devotion to MF continues among many, most of whom have never even heard the music.

And it's a champagne glass. The symbol means, "The Party's Over." As in the party of the present civilization and empire. Which it is: the party, anyway, not yet the empire. The three sticks and the cross-stick mean, "Stop World War III." And in the late 1980s, they had tagged it around literally every single subway station in the New York system.

I have my opinion, as do you...

Like me and everyone else, you, too, decide what the "right thing" is, all the time.

You can bet that to Gaga or any other professional performer with agents and managers, there is no such thing as just being at a "New Year's celebration" on live national TV. To her, it was a negotiated, booked appearance for the purpose of advancing her career, first and foremost.

I don't really care about it, and as condemnations go, mine in this case is mild. Let her do what she likes. But it's not to her credit, and not very cognizant of our times.

Actually, she is no doubt cognizant of whom she is kissing, and of what he currently stands for to the world: the excuser of Wall Street criminality, the brutalizer of street protest.

If she presents herself as an advocate for the right thing in some cases (as in "Born This Way" then she knows that conferring a kiss on this particular character is also a decision.
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