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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 07:58 PM
Number of posts: 35,965

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on Skinnydipping in Galileegate: Is paying for congressional travel a form of bribery?

That is really the only outrage I felt when I read about the congressman skinnydipping in the Sea of Galilee.

If someone pays for you to take a trip, that creates a debt as much as a campaign donation, an insider stock tip, a job for a layabout relative, or the promise of a job after they leave office.

And that debt creates access (at a minimum).

I don't know about you, but I can't afford to buy airfare for a planeload of Congressmen to come investigate my issues.

Maybe I'm missing something, but what's wrong with this rule:

  • If it's official business, the government should pay.

  • If it's campaign related, donors should pay.

  • If it's skinnydipping in the Sea of Galilee, they should pay their own fucking way.

What do you think?

I regret that Romney didn't pick Chris Christie.

He was the only hope of making this race entertaining with his cartoonish thuggishness.

He would make Joe Biden look like George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and FDR all rolled into one in the VP debates even if Biden didn't open his mouth.

Paul Ryan will do the same thing, but it will take a few more minutes to get there.

Romney's VP pick Paul Ryan: help, hurt, no difference on Romney's chances?

Ryan is a good pick only graded on a curve that would include the likes of Sarah Palin and Dan Quayle.

Unlike either of those two, Ryan does seem to possess average or above IQ, and the ability to speak English.

PIC: Republicans want less government for same reason criminals want less cops

Public School Privatizers Bare Their Greedy Faces Without Shame

Privatizers Bare Their Faces Without Shame
by dianerav

Last week we saw a report from Reuters about the conference for equity investors held at the posh University Club in Manhattan.

And we learned there about the many new frontiers for making a buck by jumping into the public education marketplace.

Here is another article from the same conference, this one in Education Week, reporting with a straight face that the equity investors see new opportunities to make money when the new national tests inevitably produce low scores.


Arne Duncan says Obama agrees with NJ GOP thug Gov. Christie on education

Chris Christie is something straight out of 19th century Thomas Nast cartoon, so obviously a corrupt thug without even the normal Republican pretense of religiosity that the mere mention of his name should be an indictment of the GOP.

Instead, Obama's Secretary of Education is saying his president agrees this moral filth.

A talking point like this is probably meant to reassure the rich that Obama will carry their water as far and as faithfully on breaking teachers unions and privatizing public education to funnel our tax dollars into their already wealthy pockets, but it demoralizes teachers who are going to vote for him because he's better than Romney but still kicking them in the nuts.

It is also worth noting what the interview asked and Duncan couldn't answer: why are you continuing with this set of policies even though they don't seem to work?

The obvious answer is because they are being paid to since the research and even common sense don't support the conservative education reform agenda at all.

Additionally, every time the two parties agree on something like this, it effectively deprives us of democracy on the issue since we get the same thing however we vote.

Here is the latest interview with the Secretary of Education. It begins with a stomach-turning but accurate admission that education is the one thing that President Obama and the teacher-bashing governor of New Jersey Chris Christie agree on. How's that for a reassuring opening?

When asked why the evidence for the reforms he is pushing seems weak, Duncan replies it is because they are new and therefore don't have a 50-year track record. Oh, please, they don't have any track record at all, yet he is pushing these untested, invalid measures on schools across the nation. Of course, everyone wants great teachers and great principals and great schools, but nothing he is doing is producing those results.

The questioner gently asks why there were no "dramatic" improvements in New York City or Washington, D.C. or Chicago, where Duncan was in charge for eight years. The answer is so vague as to be indecipherable. Ten years of Duncan-style reform in New York City, six years in D.C., twelve years in Chicago, and nothing to show for it. Just have faith! Believe!


Matt Taibbi: can cities save homes by condemning them?

This sounds like it could work apart from the "cooked up by a bunch of businessmen and ex-venture capitalists," which is like saying a bunch of donut shop owners have come up with a cure for obesity.

This would also require local governments be immune to the bribes or threats to from the wealthy who would rather see the rest of us complete our slide into Third World abject poverty. So far, too few politicians at all levels have been immune to that temptation or coercion to make a difference.

Under the proposal, towns would essentially be seizing and condemning the man-made mess resulting from the housing bubble. Cooked up by a small group of businessmen and ex-venture capitalists, the audacious idea falls under the category of "That’s so crazy, it just might work!" One of the plan’s originators described it to me as a "four-bank pool shot."

Here’s how the New York Times described it in an article from earlier this week entitled, "California County Weighs Drastic Plan to Aid Homeowners":

Desperate for a way out of a housing collapse that has crippled the region, officials in San Bernardino County … are exploring a drastic option — using eminent domain to buy up mortgages for homes that are underwater.

Then, the idea goes, the county could cut the mortgages to the current value of the homes and resell the mortgages to a private investment firm, which would allow homeowners to lower their monthly payments and hang onto their property.


Like NAACP debacle, audience of Romney's Brit trip was domestic conservatives

At heart, conservatives fear and distrust ALL foreigners, and even Europeans they only like when the agree with American conservatives.

Otherwise, they are dirty socialists who use the godless metric system.

Baby Bush made any number of gaffes in Europe, including scolding an American reporter for speaking French in front of him, calling long time allies irrelevant, "Old Europe" when they wouldn't join him in the Iraq War, giving an unsolicited backrub to Angela Merkel, and probably farting on Queen Elizabeth.

None of which embarrassed righties in the least.

Mitt probably even gained grounds with righties with his Olympics criticism even if it was groundless since it was an America talking down to the foreigners. The Brits negative reaction probably enhanced that positive perception since to them it was like a bad dog yelping after you hit it with a rolled up newspaper.

When righties talk about Obama diminishing our stature in the world, they mean he is too polite to inferior peoples, which is everyone in their minds.

This will be less than a blip with swing voters but will polish Romney's apple with the extra chromosome set as GOP strategist Lee Atwater called them.

Next up: gay and Muslim bashing.

Count on it.

UK GUARDIAN: Romney's Anglo-Sax Appeal

Funny stuff, especially that Romney is forgetting the Norman (aka FRENCH) layer of Brit culture and that we are two nations separated by a common BMI.

The Republican presidential challenger, Mitt Romney, is reported to want to restore "Anglo-Saxon" relations between Britain and the US as part of a concerted effort to lay down a set of foreign policies to counter accusations from Obama's supporters that he doesn't have enough experience on the world stage.

It's an intriguing idea, even if it is couched in rather lazy terms. What, for instance, happened to the past thousand years of culture bequeathed to us by the Normans, including the lineage of our monarchy (a blood line which has its fair share of German corpuscles)? If Romney wants to forge some kind of union with an anachronistic view of Britain, what are Anglo-Saxon values anyway? Here's a list to get him started …

Our language

"Two nations separated by a common language" – this quotation, often misattributed to Winston Churchill (whose bust Romney wants to return to the White House as part of his re-alignment with Britain) was actually uttered by either Oscar Wilde or George Bernard Shaw … but whatever the source, the language has its roots in Germanic dialects. Old English, as spoken by the Anglo-Saxons, has been continually modified over the years. After the Norman invasion and its French influence, it gradually changed over hundreds of years into Middle English and, from the 15th century, evolved into the language we are all familiar with today. Its greatest threat these days is probably the former Republican president's "Bushisms".

Alfred: not so Great at cookery

The king of Wessex was allegedly so preoccupied with ridding us of the Danes that he accidentally left cakes, entrusted to him by a peasant woman, to burn in the fire. This simple tale tells us all we need to know, not only about the otherworldliness of our betters, but also about our deep distrust of gastronomic excellence. It is why all true Anglo-Saxons – who have to hold down jobs, raise children, watch television and avoid taxes levied upon them by a militantly unjust crown – believe that the ready meal and the takeaway are the pinnacles of western culinary achievement. Our Anglo-Saxon transatlantic brethren, it is noted, invented the TV dinner, the hamburger "restaurant" and morbid obesity; we are but one nation separated by a common BMI...


Brits worry that Murdoch will import our corrupt education "reform"

Other countries seem to realize that our education "reform" simply reforms taxpayer dollars into the pockets of sharks like Rupert Murdoch.

If you don't recognize the names of the other players and companies mentioned toward the end, they are all involved in the forced privatization of our public schools.

If this continues, pretty soon "American innovation" will mean roughly the same thing as a Nigerian email telling you how much you need to send to collect the inheritance from your long lost uncle.

The curious episode at the center of the article is the description of a conference about creating charter schools in the U.K., encouraged by the Conservative government's Minister of Education Michael Gove:

To see where News Corp's interest might lie, we can look to a conference organised by Gove's department in January 2011. Gove had invited Gerald Klein, who was then chancellor of the New York City Board of Education, to speak to people “interested in setting up free schools”. (So called “free schools” are a version of academies which both front benches favour.) Four days after Gove extended the invitation, Klein was appointed to the Board of News International. By the time Klein attended the conference he was a News Corp employee, although Gove says he did not know about the appointment.

Also attending the conference, and present at a dinner hosted by the Department for Education, were Mike Feinberg, co-Founder of KIPP Houston, Paul Castro, Head of High Schools KIPP Houston, Aaron Brenner, Head of Primary schools KIPP Houston, Jo Baker, Director of Washington Public Charter School Board, and Monique Miller, Performance Manager of Washington DC Public Charter School Board.

This goes a way towards explaining Murdoch's enthusiastic support for charter schools, and his ceaseless disparagement of public schools, in his many media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and Fox News.

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