Trump Administration Opposes Actual Science, Because That Would Cost Money to the 0.001% and Instead Help Ordinary People and the Planet

I predict that history will judge that this Administration is by far the worst that the American people ever elected. Yes, worse than Bush2, Harding, or Buchanan.

Unless future history is written by flunkies hired by Jerry Fallwell or the Koch brothers.

God forbid! (If there is one; if God actually exists, all the evidence shows that he/it/it/she/they is/are incompetent, when you think of all the mass murderers, swindlers, and dictators who have lived to a ripe old age surrounded in luxury, while millions if not billions of people suffer in unimaginable squalor in slums, favelas, tent cities, or refugee camps, while we simultaneously wipe out all the big land- and sea-dwelling mammals and pollute the air, land, and oceans for posterity with poisons, plastics, and poop.)

One piece of evidence comes from this rather long article in the New York Times which points out how much they have been either attacking science directly or simply ignoring it: science advisory positions that have existed since World War Two aren’t filled, science advisory panels to government agencies are ignored or eliminated, scientific data is ignored or denied, and instead, polluters who used to be regulated and fined by agencies are instead put in charge of them.

Here is the link.

And, yes, this is new. There are many things for which you can find fault with previous American administrations, including Obama (who was worse on education even than GWBush, and we know that all American governments lie constantly [eg Gulf of Tonkin Incident, The Sinking of the Maine, Iraq’s nonexistent Weapons of Mass Destruction, etc, etc), but actively fighting science was never one of them.

#45 is even going to try to ‘negotiate’ next week with North Korea without having actual advisors on nuclear weapons. What could possibly go wrong with that?

It’s really scary.

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Why DT is Not a Good Leader

This is all from Ross Cohen on Quora:

“A good leader leads by example; Donald Trump fires people who follow his example.

A good leader takes responsibility for both his and his people’s actions; Donald Trump has never taken responsibility for anything in his life.

A good leader inspires loyalty and respect from his troops; Donald Trump’s troops badmouth him behind his back at every turn.

A good leader inspires with positivity; Donald Trump employs fear, hostility, and divisiveness.

A good leader is a good judge of character; 40% of Trump’s cabinet have had ethics scandals, with no fewer than 11 open ethics investigations on his EPA administrator alone.

A good leader demonstrates loyalty to his people; Donald Trump is loyal to no one, publicly attacking or firing the

moment someone displeases him.

A good leader empowers his people, delegating authority and supporting their decisions; Donald Trump routinely undercuts his people, criticizing, over-ruling, and publicly contradicting them.

A good leader praises in public and criticizes in private; Donald Trump savagely criticizes, publicly berates, and revels in their humiliation.

A good leader encourages cooperation and teamwork; Donald Trump foments rivalries and back-stabbing. His administration has been described as “a circular firing squad.”

A good leader listens to his team’s advice and makes them feel heard; Donald Trump is notorious for ignoring his team’s advice. His team leaks to the media just to get his attention and feel heard.

A good leader shares credit with his team; Donald Tump bristles at others sharing credit and fires those who dare to diminish his share of it.

A good leader values honest feedback; Donald Trump demands sycophancy and punishes truth-telling.

A good leader learns from his mistakes; Donald Trump makes the same mistakes again and again.

A good leader puts the country ahead of himself; Donald Trump is profiting off the presidency.

A good leader models strong work ethic for his employees; Donald Trump spends most mornings watching TV at home and has spent a third of his term at resorts, three times as many vacation days as his predecessor.

A good leader communicates his positions clearly; Donald Trump regularly contradicts his own statements seconds after making them.

President Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality of leadership is unquestionably integrity”; Donald Trump has told more than 3,000 documented lies since taking office, averaging about 6.5 public lies per day.

A good leader consults key stakeholders before announcing big decisions; Donald Trump typically blindsides his own staff and allies with major changes in policy.

A good leader is a reliable partner their allies can count on; Donald Trump constantly surprises and undercuts his own allies, even those carrying out his previous wishes.

A good leader has the humility to admit they aren’t perfect; Donald Trump is incapable of admitting fault.

A good leader has the humility to admit when they’re wrong; Donald Trump never admits when he’s wrong. Perhaps the only regret he admits is hiring Jeff Sessions.

A good leader plans well into the future, even sacrificing short term gains to do so; Donald Trump lives entirely for the short term and is utterly beholden to his whims, a slave to impulse and emotion.

A good leader hires in large part based on competence and integrity; Donald Trump hires based on nepotism and personal loyalty.

A good leader avoids setting up his subordinates for failure; Donald Trump tasked his inexperienced son-in-law with government reform, fixing the opioid crisis, criminal justice reform, Muslim outreach, diplomacy with Mexico, diplomacy with China…and Middle East peace.

A good leader holds themselves to a higher standard; Donald Trump explicitly holds himself to lower ethical standards than his employees have to, and brags about it.

A good leader is engaged, focused on the problem at hand; Donald Trump can’t stay on topic, his meetings and calls with staff and allies meander far afield from topic, he interrupts conversations to bring up his electoral vote or the Russia investigation, his intelligence briefers make heavy use of pictures and his name to keep his attention.

A good leader has the character to give close associates bad news personally; Donald Trump fires people via Tweet, via letter, via TV, or via delegate, never personally.

A good leader abhors and avoids yes-men; Donald Trump surrounds himself with them, basking in their fawning obsequiousness.

A good leader is in control of their emotions; Donald Trump is controlled by his emotions.

A good leader considers their words carefully; Donald Trump…is Donald Trump.

A good leader exhibits maturity and an ability to be the bigger person in difficult situations; Donald Trump is never the bigger person (figuratively speaking).

A good leader brings out the best in people; Donald Trump brings out the worst.

A good leader wants the best for his people; Donald Trump damages the futures of all who work for him.

A good leader treats people with respect; Donald Trump insults people’s wives, parents, appearance, etc.

A good leader adapts well to new information; Donald Trump resists it, ignoring inconvenient facts, findings, data, developments, etc.

A good leader does not have their mental fitness questioned; Donald Trump’s has been called into serious question by dozens of mental health professionals.

A good leader leaves the bragging about their personal qualities to others most of the time; Donald Trump calls himself the best everything and a “stable genius”.

A good leader lets his doctor speak truthfully on his behalf; Donald Trump dictated his own medical report.

A good leader’s lawyer does not need to pronounce he can’t be indicted;

Donald Trump’s lawyer just did.

A good leader’s speeches to civic groups are never a bad idea; Donald Trump’s led to an apology from the Boy Scouts for inviting him.

A good leader’s publicly stated policy positions are not reversed lightly; Donald Trump’s positions are often reversed within days or hours.

A good leader has few run-ins with the law, if any; Donald Trump has had many.

A good leader has few criminal associates; Donald Trump has many.

A good leader has no mob connections; Donald Trump has quite a few.

A good leader has no need to praise murderous dictators; Donald Trump praises basically all of them.

We could do this all day…

Suffice to say, the distance between Donald Trump and admirable leadership is astronomical.”

Published in: on June 1, 2018 at 8:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Osama Bin Laden Wasn’t Killed In the Manner We Were Told

If Seymour Hersch is correct, then almost everything we have been told about the assassination of Osama Bin Laden is false.

For example, the Pakistani military actually had him under house arrest in Abbotabad.

Secondly, it wasn’t American-sponsored vaccination teams who found him there: it was a Pakistani intelligence official who told the CIA.

Thirdly, the Pakistani high command wasn’t kept in the dark. Instead, they were in on the plan and pulled their surveillance planes so that the SEAL team could fly in. They also made sure that the armed guards were not at his home/prison compound that night.

Fourthly, Bin Laden was ill, delusional, and no longer in touch with his followers.

Fifthly, there was no haul of intelligence documents after he was killed.

Sixthly, he was neither using anybody as a human shield nor engaging in a firefight when he was shot. The Americans shot him up so much that he was unrecognizable as human.

Seventh, he was not buried at sea from the USS Carl Vinson.

Here is the link.

Published in: on May 31, 2018 at 12:45 pm  Comments (3)  

Anthology of Early American Socialist Writings on Racism

Racist ideas and practices have long been used to divide the American working class against itself. This division has caused many defeats for ordinary working people (such as the worst and most expensive medical care in the developed world, the longest work weeks, the least paid vacations, the least job security, and much more), together with the wealthiest ruling class in history.

The Left (socialists, abolitionists, communists, liberals, black organizations of all sorts, etc) have obviously done the most work over the to fight American racism. Some socialists, however, were unfortunately extremely racist — Jack London being an example. On the other hand, American communists in the 1930s and 40s were almost the only group standing up against racism and attempting to organize black and white workers together in their own interests, against the capitalist bosses. It was a hard fight, though, because so many white workers were infected with the most bitter and virulent racist ideology. Many struggles were lost, for example the Gastonia textile workers strike, because of that racism.

Now comes an anthology of early writings, published by Haymarket Press, on how leftists dealt with American racism in days gone by. I haven’t read it, but it looks interesting indeed.

Published in: on May 30, 2018 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Surprise: GMOs *Reduce* rather than Increase crop yields

Monsanto has been touting genetically modified crops as the solution to world, claiming farmers would see huge increases in yields per acre of corn, soybeans, and other crops.

Such GMO crops often contain an artificially-inserted gene that makes the crops resistant to Roundup (aka glyphosate), allowing farmers to forego conventional plowing and tilling to remove weeds. Instead, they drench their fields with Roundup, supposedly killing all the weeds but allowing the GM crops to grow luxuriously.

But it doesn’t work.

First of all, yields of the GMO plants are about 10% LOWER than for conventional crops. (Link)

Second, many weeds actually grow better in no-till fields — which is of course worse for the farmer.

Third, the costs to the farmer are likely higher with the Monsanto trifecta of special patented seeds that the farmer may not (and cannot) reuse the next year, much higher use of Monsanto’s herbicides, and lower yields.

While I think that in theory, GMOs have real potential in agriculture and science, and are not a Crazy scary sci-fi monster, the way they are being touted by American agribusine$$ is apparently just a scam.

another link here

Published in: on May 29, 2018 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Some debate in Chevy Chase (DC) on significance of latest NAEP scores …

On a local DC list-serve for the region where I last taught (and also went to Junior High School), I posted this:

==========================================================

Those of us with kids in Chevy Chase – DC, either now, in the future, or in the past, have seen many changes in education here in DC, especially since 2007, when the elected board of education was stripped of all powers under PERAA and Chancellor Rhee was appointed by Mayor Fenty.
[I personally went to Junior High School here at Deal back in the early 1960s, taught math in DCPS from 1978 to 2009, including 15 years at Deal (much to my surprise) and my own kids went K-12 in DCPS, graduating from Walls and Banneker, respectively]
Was mayoral control of schools in DC a success? Is the hype we have all heard about rising test scores for real?
We now have statistics from  NAEP* for about two decades, and we can compare scores for various subgroups before and after that 2007 milestone.
Did Black students make faster improvements after PERAA than beforehand? Nope. To contrary: their scores were inching up faster *before* 2007 than they have been doing since that time.
Did Hispanic students make faster improvements under the reformers? Nope, again.
How about students whose parent(s) didn’t graduate high school, and/or those who finished grade 12 but either never went to college or else didn’t earn a degree – surely they did better after Rhee, Henderson et al. took over? Again, no.
Then what group of students in Washington DC *did* make more progress on the NAEP after the Reformers took over?
You guessed it, I bet:
White students, and students with parents who earned a college degree.
Amazing.
Guy Brandenburg
*National Assessment of Educational Progress
======================================================================
Another person contested my assessment and wrote the following:
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The NAEP is cross-sectional data, i.e. it does nothing to adjust for changes in composition of test-takers over time, which is why Steve Glazerman refers to comparisons of NAEP scores over time as “misNAEPery” [https://ggwash.org/view/ 31061/bad-advocacy-research- abounds-on-school-reform] and I have referred to the same thing as “jackaNAEPery” [https://www.urban.org/urban- wire/how-good-are-dcs-schools] .
There has been a dramatic, even shocking, compositional change since 2000 in births across the city, entering cohorts of students, and exit rates from DC schools and the city.
Most noticeably in NW, better educated parents are substantially more likely to have kids in DC, enroll them in DC public schools, and stay past 3rd grade.
Any analysis of test score change needs to grapple with that compositional change.
But more importantly, the compositional change itself is a policy outcome of note, which the DC Council and Mayor have an interest in promoting.
The only evidence one should accept must *at minimum* use longitudinal data on students to compute *learning* as opposed to static achievement, e.g. this analysis of 2008 school closures:
A lot of other things happened 1996-2008 of course, including a rapid expansion of charters, a shrinking proportion of DC residents attending private schools, etc.In 2008 alone, a lot of Catholic schools closed, and some converted to public charter schools.
During this time, we also had a voucher program that produced some gains early on, and then began to lower test scores relative to public options:
All of this is not to say DCPS and charter schools shouldn’t serve less advantaged students better than they do–obviously they should! But the evidence is nuanced, and DC has made huge gains across the board since the 1990’s that make attributing any changes to policy rather than shifting population composition problematic at best.
Interestingly, the NAEP data explorer [https://www. nationsreportcard.gov/ndecore/ xplore/nde]does not report scores for white 8th graders in 1990, 1992, and 1996, presumably because too few were tested. I.e. the means by race show a lot of  “‡ Reporting standards not met.
[I personally attended DCPS (Hyde, Hardy, and School Without Walls) 1976-1989, have 2 children currently in Deal and SWW.]
Austin Nichols
========================================================================
I wrote a response to Nichols, but it hasn’t been posted yet, and might never be:
========================================================================
My previous reply got lost somewhere in cyberspace.
If looking at long-term trends in the NAEP and TUDA is ‘misnaepery’ or ‘jacknaepery’, as Mr Austin would have us believe, then the entire NAEP bureaucracy has been doing just that. (In fact, an entire branch of the National Center for Education Statistics is devoted to, yes, Long Term Trends: https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/ltt/ )
It’s a laughable idea that we could just use the tests chosen by DCPS and later by OSSE and administered every year, to tell how good DC public or charter schools are, over time. First of all, the tests administered here have changed dramatically. Back in the 1990s it was the CTBS. Then it was the SAT-9, developed by a different company. Then it was the DC-CAS, again, a different vendor. Now we have the PARCC produced by yet another vendor. We also know that in the past there has been major fraud with these tests, committed by adults, in order to gain bonuses and keep their jobs. We also have no way of comparing DC with any other city or state using those tests, since only a handful of states even use the PARCC and for all I know, their cut scores and questions might be different from what we use here in DC.
The idea of measuring median student improvement from year to year might appear to have some merit, until you talk to students and teachers involved. You discover that many of the older students see no reason to take the tests seriously; they bubble in, or click on, answers as fast as possible, without reading the questions, in order to be free to leave the room and go do something else. Any results from that test are simply unreliable, and it is simply not possible to tell whether DC education policies have improved over time based on the PARCC, DC-CAS, SAT-9, or CTBS, no matter what sort of fancy statistical procedures are employed.
With the NAEP, on the other hand, there has never been any suggestion of impropriety, and the same agency has been devising, administering, and scoring these tests for decades. We have no other nation-wide test that has been systematically given to a random sample of students for any length of time.
Obviously the 4th or 8th graders who took the NAEP in 2017 were not the same ones who took it in 2015. (Duh!) However, we do in fact have a record of NAEP scores in every state and DC since the 1990s, and they are also broken down by lots of subgroups. Obviously DC is gentrifying rapidly, and there are more white students in DCPS than there were 10 or 20 years ago. If we trace the various subgroups (say, African-American students, or Hispanics, or students whose parents didn’t finish high school, or whatever group you like), you can watch the trends over time in each subgroup. However, Mr Austin does inadvertently raise one valid point: since the proportion of black students in DC is decreasing, and the proportion of white students with college-educated parents is rising, then the natural conclusion would be that this gentrification has *inflated* overall scores for 4th and 8th grade students in DC (and DCPS), especially since 2007. Which is more evidence that ‘reform’ is not working. Not evidence that we should throw the scores out and ignore them completely.
Those trends show something quite different from what Mayor Bowser keeps proclaiming. For one thing, if you look at the simple graphs that I made (and you can examine the numbers yourselves) you can see that any improvements overall in DC, or for any subgroups, began a decade before the ‘reformers’ took over DC schools. ( see https://bit.ly/2K3UyZ1 to begin poking around.) Secondly, for most of the subgroups, those improvements over time were greater before Rhee was anointed Chancellor. Only two groups had better rates of change AFTER Rhee: white students, and those with parents with college degrees – the ones that are inflating overall scores for DC and DCPS during the last decade.
I would note also that the previous writer’s salary is paid by one of the Reform organizations supported by billionaires Gates and Arnold. You can look at the funding page yourself ( page 3 at https://urbn.is/2II1YQQ ). I suspect that when ‘reform’ advocates say not to look at our one consistent source of educational data, it’s because they don’t like what the data is saying.
Guy Brandenburg

The A$$hole Lawyer who doesn’t like it when folks talk in Spanish

When his ancestors* sailed here from Europe some generations ago, (*at least some of them Jewish with a name like Schlossberg) — chances are very good that they were regarded as inferior, ignorant, and unskilled by the anti-Semitic, racist, and pro-eugenics elite of the US at the time. The Army Alpha Test “proved” that Jewish immigrants were almost as stupid as Mexicans and Negroes (look it up).

Chances are, those of his ancestors who were born in the Pale of Settlement (look it up) spoke Yiddish, Russian, Polish, and/regular German, but hardly any English.

If he has Italian or Irish ancestors, most of those statements would still apply to them as well … that man

Emigrating to America from the shithole that was Eastern or Southern Europe was for many such folks the dream of a lifetime. Those who made it had to through a lot of grief — often renting themselves out for so many years, and finding themselves severely exploited and looked down upon.

It’s so sad that a portion of the current generation of American Jews have gone so far over to the far right, won over primarily by anti-Muslim racism.

Their grand- or Great-grandparents, many of whom were very far left wing and militant, would be spinning in their figurative graves — if such a thing were physically possible.

That applies to every single one of those groups: Jews, Irish, Italians; and even now to workers from Latin America and Africa.

Published in: on May 17, 2018 at 2:02 pm  Comments (1)  

Mayoral Control of Schools in Washington DC Appears to have Benefitted Children of College Grads, But Nobody Else

The reason given for having the office of the Mayor (originally Adrian Fenty) take over the school system in Washington DC, and abolishing all the powers of the elected school board, was to help the poorest kids.

But that’s not how it worked out, according to official test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Using those stats, harvested for me by the parent of a former student of mine from the NAEP database, we see that children in DC whose parents did NOT finish college made lower gains after 2007 (the date of the changeover) than they did before that date. However, children of college graduates in DC made higher gains after 2007.

Amazing.

And yet another sign that the education ‘reform’ movement is a complete failure.

Here are my graphs and raw data. (Right-click to see them enlarged, if you have a PC – not sure what to do if you have an Apple product.)

annualized gains pre and post mayoral control, DC, 8th grade math, by parental education

The vertical orange line shows the date (June of 2007) when Michelle Rhee was appointed as the first Chancellor of DC Public Schools. The black, dashed line represents average scale scores on the 8th grade math NAEP for students who reported that their parent(s) graduated from college, and the other lines shows scores for kids whose parent(s) did or did not graduate high school, had some college courses. The thin, double blue line represents those students who were unsure of their parental education.

I asked Excel to calculate the annual rate of change pre- and post-mayoral control, and you can see the results in the last two columns. The boxes filled in with yellow are the ‘winners’, so to speak. Note that for the period 2000-2007, the annualized change in NAEP scale scores on the 8th grade NAEP math test in DC is 2.63, which means that on the average, that group of students (yeah, it’s a different group of students for each testing event) saw their scores rise by 2.63 points per year, or 5.26 points every two years. However, for the period 2007-2017, after mayoral control, that same group of students saw their gains cut nearly in half – it tumbled to 1.41 points per year. Kids whose parents did graduate from high school (but went no further) and those whose parents had some education after high school, also saw their rates of increase tumble drastically. Kids who were unsure of their parental education levels or who didn’t report it also saw a drop, but not so large: dropping from 2.08 down to 1.88 points per year.

The only group which saw their annualized scores increase after mayoral control were the children of college graduates: their rate went from 1.16 points/year to 2.60 points per year, which to me looks rather significant.

Ironic, huh?

And here are the results for reading:

annualized gains pre and post mayoral control, dc, 8th grade reading, by parental education

Once again, the results for students whose parents did NOT graduate from college (the first three lines of the table) tumbled dramatically after mayoral control. However, students whose parents did graduate from college (the fourth line) saw a dramatic increase. The last line, representing kids who didn’t know or didn’t report their parental education, saw a little uptick after mayoral control.

Remind me again why  we got rid of the elected school board and put the mayor in charge? Was it really to make sure that the ‘haves’ would get more and that the ‘have-nots’ would have less?

Let me point out the obvious: white parents in DC are overwhelmingly college-educated. Those in DC who did not graduate from high school, or who graduated from 12th grade and went no further, are overwhelmingly African-American or Hispanic. So our ‘reforms’ have had a disproportionately negative impact on black and hispanic students, and a positive one on white kids.

Was that really the intent all along?

Pruitt at EPA Demanded Armed Guard 24/7 from his very first day in office

Evidently Scott Pruitt knew that he would piss off a whole lot of people as he set out to dismantle the EPA and all of the good things that it has done in protecting and improving our environment.

So he demanded, and got, a 24-hour-per-day, -day-a-week armed guard, starting on his very first day in office. Because anybody who is going to let the wealthy capitalists destroy the environment for private profit needs protection from ordinary people.

I’m not making this up. Read the details here.

More Scandals Define DCPS ‘Reform’ Leadership

Not in my wildest dreams could I make this stuff up about how completely incompetent and criminal is the leadership of DC Public Schools. But these incidents are all reported in today’s Washington Post.

1. The flagship DC high school for the performing arts, Duke Ellington, was found to have fraudulently given about 30% of its highly-coveted student slots to kids whose families neither lived in DC nor paid out-of-state tuition. Those fraudulent slots of course meant that hundreds of talented DC students were rejected. (Part of the reason for Ellington leaders getting away with this is the overlapping public and private leadership of the school, allowing them to report much less detail to any central authority. Similar to the situation in charter schools here and elsewhere.)

2. Somebody has fraudulently erased the records of unexcused first-semester absences for a bunch of students at Roosevelt SHS so they would be eligible to graduate. These students had been absent so much that they had received Fs. However, their records now indicate that they had ZERO absences in the first quarter. Teachers reported the erasures but are afraid of reprisals.

3. Same article: Only 29% of Roosevelt’s seniors are on track to graduate *next month*; and “Nearly 38% of students who started at Roosevelt as freshmen in 2014 and were considered part of the Class of 2018 have withdrawn from the school.” So that means about 62% remain. And 29% of 62% is not much: my calculator says that’s about 18% [EIGHTEEN PERCENT!!!] of the Roosevelt Rough Rider class of 2018 is on track to graduate from that school with their peers.

Such “success” defines the leadership of DCPS for the past 11 years: made-up numbers, erasing data that makes them look bad (anybody remember Wayne Ryan and Noyes ES?), and sheer incompetence at educating the hard-to-reach.

Published in: on May 12, 2018 at 7:31 pm  Comments (4)  
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