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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 07:58 PM
Number of posts: 39,405

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When our current political system will die

The Democratic Party is patiently waiting for the death (or at least permanent disabling) of the Republican Party as their base of whites who fondly remember the days of Jim Crow dies off and whites in general become a small enough demographic that the percentage of racists and cranks in our midst won't be enough to add up to an electoral majority at the national level.

A similar demographic change could end the stranglehold both parties have on political power.

When people who grew up getting their news from a local paper and TV become a minority, that will be the end of it.

Progressive talk show hosts and pundits rail about the sins of the mainstream media, the Sunday talk shows, columnists at the major papers and what stories those papers get wrong or don't choose to cover at all.

But younger people don't even tune in those sources. We have a myriad of sources available to us online, and if someone is just repeating empty talking points and bringing no real facts or new angles to an issue, we simply move on to a source that does.

I'm fifty, and feel like I sit in the middle of this. I grew up with TV and physical newspapers, but shortly after 9/11, I realized I could get better and more information in five minutes online than I could from any TV news show, and I had already given up reading the print edition of the local newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, except as a Sunday brunch ritual. When they raised the price and cut back content, I gave up even that.

Even though I don't rely exclusively on the LA Times, NY Times, or some equivalent, I still feel a kind of reflexive deference when their take on a story differs from the progressive one, even if the progressive one is backed by reputable studies, declassified government documents, or whistleblowers with solid credentials, and respectable news organizations around the world.

There's still a part of me that suspects that pre-packaged "conventional wisdom" is true, that the ghost of Walter Cronkite is guiding the writers and editors and newsreaders of the mainstream news media toward accuracy over balance and the public interest over the owners and investor class.

I'm not sure how much younger than me they are, but there's a generation coming up who won't know who the hell Walter Cronkite is.

When they become the voting majority, no one will be able to convince them that they have only two choices, and there are things that they shouldn't know. They will know the other choices and they will find out what those in power don't want them to know.

And if some old fart calls some opinion of theirs a conspiracy theory, they will know there's a decent chance that facts will eventually leak out making today's conspiracy theory tomorrow's ho-hum accepted history.

When they become the majority, things will start to change faster than our pot laws are now.

Corporate Democrats Act Like the Cable Company

After enduring another round of DLC/Third Way/Centrist whatever the fuck they're calling themselves this week berating of progressives after and even before the election because we didn't adequately support their candidates, I just realized their behavior is a lot like the cable company.

Remember that guy who tried to cancel his service a while back, and the cable company kept him on the phone haranguing him about what a good deal he was giving up?

Where else are you gonna go? Back to the three shitty channels you get with an antenna?

Corporate Dems think they are cable and Republicans are the antenna. They know fewer and fewer people like the handful of channels they get with the antenna: tax cuts for the rich, cuts to government services, fear of gays, blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, and some foreigners yet to be determine, and military spending and war 24/7.

So the corporate Dems give us some channels we like: gay rights, better education spending, health care reform, Social Security, and a couple of others.

But they also make us pay for a lot of channels we don't want, including a lot of the worst Republican ones: trade deals, privatization of government services like education, weak punishment and regulation of Wall Street crimes, the surveillance state, and endless war.

Sure there are third parties like the satellite systems, but they are set up much like the cable companies, and while they offer a better deal, they don't really cut into the cable business in most places.

They think they just have to wait for the old farts that like antenna's racist, "get off my lawn" audience to die off, and they will own the market.

But like cable, competition could come from some entirely unexpected direction.

People are cutting their cable and getting the programs they want a la carte on Amazon, iTunes, and the like.

The corporate Democrats don't seem to realize that that kind of unexpected changes is coming to politics.

Even if they took better care of their customers, it would only delay the inevitable.

The cable box is going to end up in the dumpster along with the last rabbit ears antennas.

And if they don't take better care of us, we might throw the box out before we figure out what the replacement is.

VIRUNGA: documentary on gorillas vs. oil companies

This looks pretty compelling.

After listening to Obama's statement on the midterms, it seems like this is the situation he wanted

all along.

Even when he had both chambers of Congress at the start of his presidency, he talked and made proposals as if Democrats were in the minority, and was far quicker to criticize the progressive wing of the Democratic Party than Republicans.

If that sounds crazy, consider how Andrew Cuomo is governing in New York. The Working Families Party gave him their endorsement in part by getting him to promise to work to elect a Democratic majority state senate.

Think about that: a third party had to bargain to get a Democratic governor to work for a fully democratic state legislature. Shouldn't that be automatic?

And he didn't even keep that promise that shouldn't have been necessary in the first place.

Instead, Cuomo has worked with Republicans and adopted some of the policies wholesale, like privatization of K-12 public education (Obama has as well).

On ebola, he is literally following the Republican playbook.

That seems to be the DLC way. A lot of what Bill Clinton got done during his administration were neoliberal policies, most of which Republicans could love.

Obama and Mitch McConnell have already had a love fest on trade deals that average Americans across the political spectrum loathe.

The DLCers seem to be embarrassed when their own party controls the legislature because they can't pretend the Republicans are forcing them to enact policies that hurt average Americans.

So they do as little as possible, this time helped by Republican obstruction, until the Republicans regain the majority.

And then they have the perfect illusion of checks and balances, and excuse to "compromise," which is really capitulation to the corporate agenda.

I don't think Obama is going to become "Dr. No," and wield the veto pen, nor do I think Democrats in the Senate will be one-tenth or even one one-hundredth the obstruction Republicans have been.

Instead, a few will put up token opposition, definitely sincere from a very few, but the rest will relax, knowing that the natural order has been restored.

Did Democrats do ANYTHING to stop GOP vote suppression like CROSS CHECK?

Would Democratic politicians rather lose than risk losing rich donors?

I heard an interview with Ralph Nader last night, and he said the Democrats had a winning issue with the minimum wage and one that easily set them apart from the GOP.

Nader met with Harry Reid and said if Obama had gone barnstorming around the country asking voters to give him the Congress that would pass such a bill for him to sign, it would have made a huge difference. Reid agreed but said instead, Obama was fundraising, and the party didn't present a unified message.

This morning on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman said minimum wage ballot measures passed even in very conservative states, indirectly confirming Nader's point.

If Democrats don't run on a simple, easy to explain progressive issue that is overwhelmingly popular, you have to wonder whether keeping their wealthy donors is more important than actually winning.

I guess they figure if they side with the rest of us instead of the 1% and they lose, we can't offer the consolation prize of high paying jobs as lobbyists, CEO's, corporate lawyers, or consultants. We can only offer the jobs we elect them to do, so they can win or lose. With the fat cat 1%, they win either way.

What do you think?

The Big Problem With Time's Teacher-Bashing Cover Story

Wall Street has had their eye on the hundreds of billions of our tax dollars that go to public education for a couple of decades. They think it rightly belongs in their pockets. So they have campaigned relentlessly to demonize teachers and reduce their control over what goes on in the classroom and replace them with short term recent college grads, who quickly burn out and move on to other professions, standardize testing and curriculum to make it easier for a few companies to monopolize, and replace public schools with privatized, for profit charter schools and education management companies (get our tax dollars but skim some off as profits).

The people pushing this movement don't advocate the same changes for the private schools their own children attend.

This movement has had some major setbacks recently with several states investigating fraud and embezzling at charter chains, and the superintendent of LA schools being fired in part for buying a billion dollars worth of iPads at full retail price, acting as an agent of Apple rather than of the public.
With this movement on the ropes, Time magazine decided that this was a good time to bash teachers again rather than investigate how a few wealthy people bought our federal education policy, and are doing to public education what they did to our manufacturing base and housing market.

If Democrats wanted to turn the election around, they could drop this corrupt education policy that puts Wall Street profits ahead of our kids' futures.

There are a few problems with the story, but the biggest one is pretty familiar: It buries the lead. The Time piece, by Haley Sweetland Edwards, waits until the very end to tell readers that the teacher evaluation scheme central to argument is advancing is highly dubious.

The article is about how a small group of very wealthy Silicon Valley millionaires have decided they're the ones who can fix America's public schools–a "half-dozen tech titans who are making the repair of public education something of a second career." The movement has been joined by people like "CNN anchor turned education activist Campbell Brown."

The piece focuses on a relatively unknown figure named David Welch, an "unassuming father of three" who "clearly prefers a world of concrete facts to taking sides." Welch evidently came up with the novel legal strategy behind the Vergara case in California. A court ruling in June found that tenure provisions serve to protect failing public school teachers, and thus the civil rights of the students forced to endure these conditions have been violated.

Time tells readers that Welch arrived at this simple conclusion by asking a "big-city California superintendent" how to fix the schools. His answer "blew Welch away"...


Obama could do labor a big favor WITHOUT the help of Congress

Simply enforce the anti-union Taft Hartley law as vigorously as every president since Reagan has enforced the Sherman Anti-Trust law, which is to say as close as possible to not at all.

That would slightly even the playing field between big corporations and average Americans.

I don't think it will happen, but for our DLC friends who hide behind the skirts of Republican obstruction, it's a good example of what a creative president could still get done.

We sure as hell see this kind of creativity on drone strikes and military action against the terrorist group of the week.

GLENN FORD: How to Pay for a Free, Non-Racist Higher Education

Cut off the federal financial aid for for-profit colleges, which amount to welfare for Wall Street and hedge fund managers, and we could use the money we save to make real colleges (public and non-profit private) cheaper or even free.

As a college instructor myself who teaches at community colleges, I tell my students an ironic truth about higher education: since most instructors are forced to string together multiple part time jobs, some of my colleagues teach at private for-profit colleges as well as community college and others at prestigious, nationally recognized non-profits.

They deliver the same content at every school.

The only thing that changes is the price tag.

The premium price you pay at a non-profit gets you smaller classes and networking with wealthier classmates. At a for profit, it gets you life-crushing debt.

Democrats need to get off the Wall Street teat on this one, put more daylight between themselves and Republicans, and put the future of kids trying to better themselves ahead of for profit scammers.

The dominos are falling in the for-profit college racket, a cauldron of corruption that has crushed the dreams of millions of African Americans in desperate search for tools to navigate their way through a racist, cut-throat capitalist society. Corinthian College’s stock fell from a peak of $33 a share, ten years ago, to 33 cents last month, when it became clear that the federal government intended to pull the plug on the $1.6 billion a year rip-off. Corinthian – known to victims by the brand names Heald College, Everest, and WyoTech – will soon file for bankruptcy protection, shielding its bankster and hedge fund profiteers from liability for wanton theft and massive life-wrecking. More than 70,000 students at 107 campuses, half of whom were statistically certain to drop out before completely their courses, will struggle to find another route to mobility and dignity.

Corinthian is only the third or fourth-worst offender in the pantheon of for-profit colleges created for the sole purpose of diverting public money to the coffers of hedge funds and mega-banks. Although the titans of this fraudulent industry have committed crimes far larger than Bernard Madoff, none of them will join him in prison, since their victims are largely Black people whose usefulness to Wall Street is limited to availability for super-exploitation, demonization and incarceration.

Corinthian’s collapse – and the panic that reigns in the rest of the for-profit education pack – was triggered by the Obama administration’s decision to shut off the criminal enterprise’s federal funding faucet, which accounted for at least 83 percent of the company’s revenue stream. Since Corinthian, like its sister shysters, was created as a pass-through of federal dollars, it could not withstand the slightest pause in payments from various federal agencies. So, it folded. Other corporate educational fraudsters will soon follow Corinthian into bankruptcy, causing a shakeup in the industry that will probably result in a leaner and more vertically integrated structure of dream-sploitation. Billions of educational dollars will continue flowing straight from federal programs to Wall Street, but with little improvement to the life-chances of the supposed beneficiaries: the educationally deprived.

“For-profit colleges educate only 12 percent of all college students in America. Yet, a disproportionate 25 percent of all federal aid to education goes to for-profit colleges. And a staggering 47 percent of all student loan defaults are among for-profit school students.


Sen. Durbin points out that $32 billion dollars a year is the spending equivalent of “the ninth-largest agency in our government.” If that is the case, then why not create such an agency? With Wall Street no longer skimming profits, $32 billion would go a lot farther in providing free public education and training to the huge population that has already been defined and reached by the predatory for-profit outfits.


Story of the Day: Education Entrepreneurs Set to Disrupt Our Schools for Their Profit

How many times do the dots have to get connected before at least Democrats in Congress and the White House give up these destructive, corrupt policies?

They might consider the case of LBJ: He did great things on the domestic front, Civil Rights, Medicare, financial aid for higher ed, but is only remembered for the quagmire of Vietnam.

On going after financial criminals and education, Obama won't even have a domestic fig leaf.

This is the most important article you will read this week, this month, maybe this year. Lee Fang, a brilliant investigative reporter at the Nation Institute, documents the rise and growth of the new for-profit education industry. They seek out ways to make money by selling products to the schools, developing new technologies for the Common Core, writing lucrative leasing deals for charter school properties, mining students' personal data and selling it, and investing in lucrative charter schools.

Their basic strategy: disrupt public education by selling a propaganda narrative of failure, which then generates consumer demand for new, privately managed forms of schooling (charters and vouchers), for new products (a laptop for every child), and for new standards (the Common Core) that require the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars for new technology, consultants, and other new teaching products. The Common Core has the subsidiary effect of reducing test scores dramatically, thus reinforcing the failure narrative and the need for new schools and new products. Meanwhile, absent any evidence, the boosters of the Common Core promise dramatic results ("bigger better cleaner than clean, the best ever, everything you ever dreamed of, success for all, no more achievement gap, everyone a winner", while reaping the rewards.

The end goal is the reaping of billions in profits for entrepreneurs and investors.

The crucial enabler of the entrepreneurial takeover of American public education has been the Obama administration. From the beginning, its Race to the Top was intended to close schools with low scores, require more charter schools, all to create a larger market for charter organizations. Its requirement to adopt "college-and-career-ready standards" established the Common Core standards in 45 states, thus creating a national market for products. Its funding of two national tests guaranteed that all future testing would be done online, thus generating a multi-billion dollar market for technology companies that produce software and hardware. At the same time, the Obama administration was curiously silent as state after state eliminated collective bargaining and silenced the one force that might impede its plans. Neither President Obama nor Arne Duncan made an appearance in Wisconsin when tens of thousands of working people protested Scott Walker's anti-union program.

Lee Fang has connected the dots that show the connection between entrepreneurs, the Obama administration, ALEC, and Wall Street. We now know that their promises and their profit-driven schemes do not benefit students or teachers or education. Students will be taught by computers in large classes. Experienced and respected teachers do not like the new paradigm; they will leave and be replaced by young teachers willing to follow a script, work with few or no benefits, then leave for another career choice. Turnover of teachers will become the norm, as it is in charter schools. "Success" will be defined as test scores, which will be generated by computer drills.

This is the future the entrepreneurs are planning. Their own children will be in private schools not subject to the Common Core, or large computer-based classes, or inexperienced teachers. The public's children will be victims of policies promoted by Arne Duncan to benefit the entrepreneurs.

We see the future unfolding in communities across the nation. It can be stopped by vigilant and informed citizens. If we organize and act, we can push back and defeat this terrible plan to monetize our children and our public schools.

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