Gleanings from the Alternative Fact-World of Betsy ‘Checkbook’ DeVos

Your first installment from the pearls of wisdom from the perennial purchaser of politicians, Betsy ‘Checkbook’ DeVos:

devos-on-alpha-beta-schools

(source: Washington Post, the Parent-Herald and several of my Facebook friends and former colleagues)

Maybe we should look at the actual graduation rates for DC public and charter schools, courtesy of the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education, or OSSE:

Here are the official 4-year graduation rates for 2016:

hs-graduation-rates

hs-graduation-rates-part-2

 

I highlighted some of the schools. The pink ones are the five DC charter high schools where the graduation rate is decidedly BELOW 70%. The orange ones are the ten (10) regular DCPS high schools where the graduation rate is decidedly ABOVE 70%.

(This is not counting two DC charter schools that closed for extremely low performance or for wide-spread theft by their founders.)

(Full disclosure: my own children graduated from Banneker and School Without Walls some years ago. Notice what the graduation rates are from those two schools.)

Also, notice that the overall graduation rates from the regular public high schools in DC (69.0%) and from the DC charter school sector (72.9%) are not all that different. And that’s even though the charter schools can and do push out students to the regular public schools. This is also despite the fact that to get into a charter school, students have to have parents or guardians who can navigate the application process — and we have a lot of students here in DC where the parents are ‘MIA’.

I will also let you look at the official four-year graduation rates by the various subgroups (by gender, ethnicity, and so on). Once again, you will not see the huge disparities claimed by Billionaire Betsy between graduation rates in the regular DC public schools and in the charter schools. [There is one large disparity: the number of white, Asian, or multi-racial students in the DC charter high schools is tiny; they are almost all in the regular DC public schools!]

grad-rates-dc-pub-and-charters-by-subgroups

 

So, I guess we can expect lots more ‘alternative facts’ from Billionaire Betsy, just like we have gotten used to seeing them coming from Marmalade Mussolini, aka #45.

 

A list of HELP senators’ fax numbers

This is so you can bug them with faxes, telling them not to vote in favor of Bigoted, Billionaire Betsy.

Al Franken                          MN        (202) 224-0044

Bill Cassidy                          LA            (225) 929-7688

Christopher S. Murphy  CT           (202) 224-9750

Elizabeth Warren             MA         no faxes

Johnny Isakson                 GA          202-228-0724

Lamar Alexander              TN          (202) 228-3398

Lisa Murkowski                 AK          202-224-5302

Maggie  Hassan                 NH          no faxes

Michael F. Bennet            CO          303-455-3358

Pat Roberts                         KS           202-224-3514

Rand Paul                            KY           (202) 228-6917

Richard Burr                       NC          (202) 228-2981

Robert P. Casey, Jr           PA          (202) 228-0604

Sheldon Whitehouse       RI            (401) 453-5085

Susan Collins                      ME         (202) 224-2693

Tim Scott                             SC           (855) 802-9355

Todd Young                        IN           no faxes

Patty Murray                     WA          (202) 224-0238

And here is my letter to them (I’ve visited, or lived in, 46 of the states so far):

Dear Senator:

I have visited your great state in the past, but since I was born and raised in the District of Columbia and still live there, I have no senator. So I’m calling on you.

I would like to put myself on the record as vigorously opposing the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Not only does she have ZERO personal experience with public education in any form, she in fact is on record as favoring turning ALL education over to private businessmen and religious groups, including the weird form of messianic Christian fundamentalism her billionaire family favors. Her billions of dollars of personal wealth, mostly gained by a pyramid scheme that should have put her family in jail long ago, have been used to purchase politicians to promote her useless ideas, because she was never able to get voters to approve them.

During her confirmation hearings, she demonstrated that she has NO understanding of ANY of the most important issues concerning students and their parents today.

As a result of her machinations, local control has been removed from Black and Brown communities all over Michigan, and educational funds are flowing to all sorts of unethical, unregulated, for-profit charter school operators and religious fundamentalists running unregulated, storefront voucher schools. As a result, the scores of Michigan students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have, over the past 20 years, tumbled from being significantly above the national averages to being significantly below the national averages, both in reading and in math. And Detroit now has the very worst scores of any city in the nation. Thanks to Betsy Devos. And let us not forget that her policies also brought us the national shame of polluted water in the entire city of Flint.

You must vote AGAINST DeVos for Secretary of Education.

Thank you.

 

Guy Brandenburg

DC Resident, DC Native, Parent of two DC public school grads

 

What is Marmalade Mussolini’s “Real” Name? You Decide

Here are a few choices:

trump-names-2

Thoughts on Day 3 of the Reign of the Orange Kleptocrat-in-Chief

Yesterday I took part in the largest protest demonstration I have ever experienced, right here in Washington, DC. Our numbers were so large that it was simply impossible to have us all march together down any one avenue – even that Mall was too small to contain us! Essentially we took over the entire Mall, the entire Federal Triangle, and much of downtown DC, entirely peacefully. We had no official marshals and the police mostly stayed out of our way except to occasionally usher an ambulance or wheelchair through.

We made history.

img_6343

Never in American history has there ever been a demonstration (strike that, HUNDREDS of simultaneous demonstrations, all over the entire NATION) so big against any president, the very day after his election. Actually, including all those others, this was probably the largest demonstration in US history against anything whatsoever.

I felt euphoric! As soon as I got onto the very crowded Metro subway train at the Brookland-CUA station, almost all of whose passengers were also going to the March, I realized that we were indeed doing something historic.

But it’s not enough.

 

Not nearly enough. It’s got to be just the beginning! What we need to do is first of all, make it impossible for Trump to confirm his remaining Cabinet appointees. Let me explain why:

Many Trump voters chose him because he pretended he would do something about the fact that so many American factories went out of business, which meant that across the nation, untold thousands of workers (and their families) lost their jobs AND their pensions AND what used to be a decent health-care plan, all won by the strength of organized labor. They also lost their homes, having been suckered into taking on way more debt than they could possibly handle. Many of the machines were shipped overseas. Local, state and federal regulations or laws were maneuvered around by high-priced lawyers so that the financiers who took over the corporations were able to get out of paying for any of these losses. Quoting Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post:

Wilbur Ross, the pick for commerce secretary, started out trading distressed debt at a Wall Street investment bank before setting out on his own as a vulture investor, buying up dying steel mills, coal mines and textile factories for pennies on the dollar of outstanding debt. As a turnaround specialist, Ross became a grand master at using the bankruptcy process to break leases and union contracts and renege on pension obligations in order to get the companies back on their feet before selling them at a handsome profit. His net worth is estimated at close to $3 billion.

So, if you would like to pick any single person responsible for the distress of many Trump voters, it would be the man that Donald Trump has picked to be US Secretary of Commerce. As Pearlstein notes, there are are NO actual businessmen on Trump’s list. Instead, you have con-women (Betsy DeVos) and mortgage vultures like Steven Mnuchin; and you have several Goldman Sachs financial wizards. But that wizardry is just being good at moving money around in very complicated ways to make it end up in their own pockets — it doesn’t actually build or make anything to benefit anybody else.

And coordinating all economic policy will be Gary Cohn, the new director of the National Economic Council, who like Icahn started out trading options and over a 25-year career rose to become No. 2 at Goldman Sachs. According to Bloomberg, he’ll walk away from Goldman with $266 million of stock and an exit package valued at $59 million.

When will Trump voters finally wake up and realize they have just been conned? The very vultures who made your lives miserable — using complicated financial transactions nobody can understand, and whose actions dRumpf has been railing against during his entire campaign — are the very same people whom Orangehead has nominated to be in charge of Federal policy for the next four years!

We need to make it impossible for these frauds to be confirmed!

Phone calls to your senators and congressmen are good, if you have them. Here is a link to a schedule of hearings and a list of appointees. (I don’t have any congressional representation, since I live here in Washington DC. Our token DC representative, E.H. Norton, has no vote.)

But actual bodies, with signs and chants and possibly mass civil disobedience at the Capitol or wherever the hearings are being held, are even better. We need to make them back down or else to have the whole world see what criminal frauds they really are.

After that, we need to organize to do a HUGE number of things, to prevent the Plutocratic Party agenda from being rolled into place, to impede their plans, to remove these truly crooked politicians from office, and install politicians who really DO represent the people. Instead of the plutocrats and kleptocrats that many American voters were fooled into voting for.

Again – that has got to be merely the very first step. We must resist, we must be smart, and we must be organized for real social justice and against legal thievery by the billionaires.

 

 

Who judges whether a reform is a success or not in education?

Excellent question, posed by Larry Cuban, on the case history of the once-widely-celebtrated Gary Plan for education.About 100 years ago, its blend of manual and mental training, along with night schools for recent immigrants, was seen as a marvel and widely copied. Now nobody remembers it even existed, partly because of how they defined ‘success’, according to Cuban. Here’s the link

I’ve certainly noticed that if you ask people about any sort of reform, you NOT necessarily find agreement. I have spoken to Turks who vehemently deny that there was any sort of systematic genocide of Armenians roughly a century ago, and Chinese who deny that anything bad is happenig in Tibet. There are even people who defend the memory of Genghis Khan, Franco, Hitler, Mao, Stalin, and the KKK!

 

Even the NYT Editorial Board Has Doubts About Betsy DeVos

I don’t normally agree with the editorial board of the New York Times on education, but even they have a hard time stomaching Betsy DeVos:

Big Worries About Betsy DeVos

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

JAN. 10, 2017

The director of the Office of Government Ethics, the nonpartisan agency charged with vetting the financial disclosures of cabinet nominees for potential conflicts of interest, sent an extraordinary letter to Senate Democratic leaders late last week. Never in the four-decade history of the agency, he wrote, have ethics officials felt such “undue pressure … to rush through these important reviews,” leaving “some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.”

 

As the Senate races forward with confirmation hearings this week, the spottiest disclosures have come from wealthy private-sector nominees with no governing experience and many potential conflicts. In other words, the people most in need of a complete ethics review.

 

Exhibit A is Betsy DeVos, a billionaire and education lobbyist who is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary. Ms. DeVos’s finances are a tangle that could take weeks to investigate. Despite that, Republicans had set her confirmation hearing for Wednesday. But late Monday night, they pushed it back to next Tuesday.

 

People who have seen her financial disclosures so far say that Ms. DeVos and her husband, Dick DeVos, have investments in some 250 companies registered to a single Grand Rapids, Mich., address, entities whose investments could take weeks for the ethics office to research. Already, though, there are reports that the DeVoses are indirect investors in Social Finance Inc., a private company that refinances student loans. Private lenders like Social Finance are banned from most of the direct student lending market; their lobbyists have already written to the Trump transition team pitching to change that. That’s only one potential conflict. What if her family has holdings in educational technology or for-profit colleges? Given time, the ethics office will learn this, and reach an agreement with Ms. DeVos to sell off assets that could pose a conflict.

 

Beyond erasing concerns about her many possible financial conflicts, Ms. DeVos also faces a big challenge in explaining the damage she’s done to public education in her home state, Michigan. She has poured money into charter schools advocacy, winning legislative changes that have reduced oversight and accountability. About 80 percent of the charter schools in Michigan are operated by for-profit companies, far higher than anywhere else. She has also argued for shutting down Detroit public schools, with the system turned over to charters or taxpayer money given out as vouchers for private schools. In that city, charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse.

 

Mr. Trump has at times displayed breathtaking ignorance about the powers and basic function of government. Many on his transition team are new to government service as well. But the Senate, and people advising him, including Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, have no excuse.

 

Mr. Trump’s nominees will need only a simple majority vote to be confirmed. So what’s the hurry? Republicans seem worried that the more time the Senate has to examine some of these nominees’ backgrounds, the more chance a Republican or three could break ranks. Maybe they’re afraid of Mr. Trump’s ire, should any of his picks generate red flags. That’s backward thinking, of course: The potential for conflicts is more reason, not less, to take the time needed for thorough vetting, and the only route to a responsible vote.

Accountability and Following the Law in DC Education

Valerie Jablow has yet another well-researched column on how the laws on accountability and transparency are NOT enforced in the education sphere in DC, especially for charter schools. I highly recommend reading and digesting it, and then figuring out how to act on her recommendations.

 

What Lessons Has DC Drawn From PISA?

Basically, the lessons drawn by those in charge of education in Washington, DC, is to do exactly the opposite of everything being done by nations with high test scores. Valerie Jablow at EducationDC explains the details.

A Tweet-Storm from Eric Garland

(I have no idea who Eric Garland is, but this was excellent rant, on Twitter, of all things. I took out all the nasty Twitter lingo to make it more readable. I suspect he is part of the IC, or ‘intelligence community’.- GFB)

From Eric Garland,  Strategic analyst for businesses and government agencies. Linguist. Bassist.

I’m now hearing this meme that says Obama, Clinton, et al. are doing nothing, just gave up.

Guys. It’s time for some game theory.

ACTOR ANALYSIS: The Russians enter the Game with a broad objective, flexible tactics, and several acceptable outcomes.

Russian interests have been, for many years now, the subversion of Western institutions, principally NATO, but any will do.

This subversion can take many forms: driving wedges between US-Commonwealth-Euro intel cooperation, break up NATO, create chaos.

This game has been developing for many years, is asymmetrical, and much cheaper than building a decent aircraft carrier.

Plus, the Russians f**king rule at covert shit. Always have. Ask a cold warrior. Mucho respect for our adversaries. They do clever work!

Post-communism, they’re reduced to Drunk Uncle status in the global balance of power. Mouthy, smart, degraded, much reduced in stature.

Russians as *people* are civilized, artistic, enamored of brilliance and tragedy, and generally proud. And should be. They do not like this.

From this position launches an initiative from an old hand at the KGB, now solidified in influence: Subvert for the throat. Go big. Go hard.

While the West is frivolous and lazy and “Post-History,” the clever take advantage. And here begins our present story.

Let’s skip ahead to “Wikileaks.” BRILLIANT. Ingratiate the Left into this anti-establishment distrust of Western intel.

George W Bush and Dick Cheney being slovenly, reckless idiots, the moral authority of Iraq and US intel is nil. In step “journalists.”

Stealing hard drives from US intel and dumping them to foreign agents? That’s *snicker* “journalism!” FREE SPEECH! ROFLMAO.

Oh, and such grand characters, so well run: Manning, Greenwald. So righteous, yet fragile! And feisty! Try a Twitter war with Glenn!

OH YOU PHILISTINE, YOU JUST HATE JOURNALISM! *sigh* *swigs something strong* And Moscow must have been doubling over.

THEN, OMG, that worked so well that the pièce de résistance was next: SNOWDEN!!! BOOYAH! THE BIG GAME! NSA! PRISM! SPASM!

 (incidentally, the NSA was about the only agency the Russians took seriously) But then this EARNEST young man. He tells THE TROOTH!

DID YOU KNOW YOUR TOASTER IS SPYING ON YOU? THE GUBMINT! IT IS EVERYWHERE! THEY SPY ON (*controls snickering*) ALLIES! ALL BAD!

And still hungover from the rotten venality of the Iraq War and Bush’s perversion of the IC as reliable, Wikileaks journalisms the NSA!

DON’T YOU CALL IT SOMETHING ELSE. HARD DRIVES FROM THE NSA IZ JOURNALISM! Even when you take the files to Brazil! Honest! Ask Glenn!

And then, automagically, our man Ed ends up…what’s this now? In Russia? Well, they are such welcoming folks! How…nice!

Langley and Fort Meade run out of bourbon in about three hours, and every intel guy in Russia is drunk, dancing on the desks, and LAFFING.

AND THE LEFT! HOLY F**KING ADORABLE BATMAN! Honi soit qui mal y pense! How dare you suggest untoward Russian involvement! Journamalisms!!!!

US intel snorts all of the Robotussin in the DC/MD/VA area. Putin calls Snowden “A weird guy.” LOLZ.

Moving on to the current chapter.

MEANWHILE, AT THE FOX NATION FORUMS: The other part of this impressive op is percolating – the buttress of the Alt-Right.

ONCE UPON A TIME, Dan Rather chased Nixon around a room asking him questions VERY HARSHLY and the notion of the Evil Media Elite was born.

See, because Nixon got impeached, that meant the media was in on it! WaPo! NYT! Traitors! We look bad! And the media hate begins.

Never mind that to know something in Topeka, somebody’s gotta send you a newspaper or a radio signal or whatevs: The Media Is Lying.

Now, it’s true, high level journalists and editors don’t always see the world like Johnny Lunchpail in Missouri. True facts. But. Trouble.

Republicans decide to create a whole new layer of think tanks and media outlets in the 1980s dedicated to The Other Side.

The think tanks have a POV, but some are quite good, Cato in particular. Heritage came up with what’s now Obamacare. AEI…ehhh. 2 outta 3.

But then the media play comes in. The cranky insane tent pastors on AM radio get…a makeover. They become Legitimate. Embraced.

Magnates start investing in outlets. Brand new pundits get huge audiences yelling about The Way Things Ought to Be (for White People).

David Fahrenthold ‏@Fahrenthold  Dec 11

@ericgarland damn, man, this is great writing, using a form that doesn’t usually lend itself to greatness.

We go kick a bunch of barbarian ass in Afghanistan, as well we should have. They were beating women and destroying Buddhas. F**k ’em.

We are at present in a place of danger where some of our fellow citizens have forgotten our most cherished values.

We’ve been here before.

America, reluctantly but dutifully, recognizes its internal contradictions and failings.

Slavery. Racism. Internment. Classism.

The genius documents that gave rise to noble American sentiments were themselves authored by those who failed them. (h/t @ Mr. Jefferson)

We spilled the blood of our brothers to resolve the contradictions of slavery and then abandoned the project while killing Indians.

Americans proclaimed the equality of all men while treating women as chattel and all non-whites as lesser. We are indeed hypocrites.

But to be American is to accept that unflinchingly and to soldier forth for future generations, and DO BETTER, GODDAMN IT.

There are those who would mire us in worldly cynicism, to anchor us in a world where our institutions betray forever, where values perish.

And to be American is to face that intellectual, moral, and spiritual assault with the unshakeable devotion to something more lofty.

And when that loftiness fails, as it so often does, to be American is to seize it again and again, knowing that our Creator desire Progress.

Progress can come from Traditionalists or Labor Unionists or mystics or musicians or doctors or Senators or journalists. All are exhorted.

The Progress demanded by our Creator can be achieved by immigrants and natives, skeptics and believers, the elite and the humble alike.

That is America. That is the promise that Americans oft ignore and which more cynical nations would defile for their own gain.

That America will last long after I have died, long after new people have picked the torch.

Long after we betray it again, as we will.

But America will go on, even if by another name, unless all who have heard her name are extinguished.

This is just the locus of promise.

America came from the olive groves of Italy and the shipyard of Plymouth and the islands of the Philippines. Indivisible.

America came from the Torah and Voltaire’s Candide and Adam Smith and zen koans and Greek mathematics and Rumi’s poetry.

America is all these things, and should yet another absolutist demagogue, foreign or domestic seize her, it will be far from the end.

Now is a time for patriots.

It’s also Sunday afternoon. I’m gonna get a beer and watch football.

God Bless America, and all nations.

 

Stealing hard drives from US intel and dumping them to foreign agents? That’s *snicker* “journalism!” FREE SPEECH! ROFLMAO.

Oh, and such grand characters, so well run: Manning, Greenwald. So righteous, yet fragile! And feisty! Try a Twitter war with Glenn!

OH YOU PHILISTINE, YOU JUST HATE JOURNALISM! *sigh* *swigs something strong* And Moscow must have been doubling over.

THEN, OMG, that worked so well that the pièce de résistance was next: SNOWDEN!!! BOOYAH! THE BIG GAME! NSA! PRISM! SPASM!

 (incidentally, the NSA was about the only agency the Russians took seriously) But then this EARNEST young man. He tells THE TROOTH!

DID YOU KNOW YOUR TOASTER IS SPYING ON YOU? THE GUBMINT! IT IS EVERYWHERE! THEY SPY ON (*controls snickering*) ALLIES! ALL BAD!

And still hungover from the rotten venality of the Iraq War and Bush’s perversion of the IC as reliable, Wikileaks journalisms the NSA!

DON’T YOU CALL IT SOMETHING ELSE. HARD DRIVES FROM THE NSA IZ JOURNALISM! Even when you take the files to Brazil! Honest! Ask Glenn!

And then, automagically, our man Ed ends up…what’s this now? In Russia? Well, they are such welcoming folks! How…nice!

Langley and Fort Meade run out of bourbon in about three hours, and every intel guy in Russia is drunk, dancing on the desks, and LAFFING.

AND THE LEFT! HOLY F**KING ADORABLE BATMAN! Honi soit qui mal y pense! How dare you suggest untoward Russian involvement! Journamalisms!!!!

US intel snorts all of the Robotussin in the DC/MD/VA area. Putin calls Snowden “A weird guy.” LOLZ.

Moving on to the current chapter.

MEANWHILE, AT THE FOX NATION FORUMS: The other part of this impressive op is percolating – the buttress of the Alt-Right.

ONCE UPON A TIME, Dan Rather chased Nixon around a room asking him questions VERY HARSHLY and the notion of the Evil Media Elite was born.

See, because Nixon got impeached, that meant the media was in on it! WaPo! NYT! Traitors! We look bad! And the media hate begins.

Never mind that to know something in Topeka, somebody’s gotta send you a newspaper or a radio signal or whatevs: The Media Is Lying.

Now, it’s true, high level journalists and editors don’t always see the world like Johnny Lunchpail in Missouri. True facts. But. Trouble.

Republicans decide to create a whole new layer of think tanks and media outlets in the 1980s dedicated to The Other Side.

The think tanks have a POV, but some are quite good, Cato in particular. Heritage came up with what’s now Obamacare. AEI…ehhh. 2 outta 3.

But then the media play comes in. The cranky insane tent pastors on AM radio get…a makeover. They become Legitimate. Embraced.

Magnates start investing in outlets. Brand new pundits get huge audiences yelling about The Way Things Ought to Be (for White People).

And it’s more successful than free chicken and beer. The money flows, the ratings swell. An Australian starts a TV network in the US.

What develops is an attractive, well-produced alternate universe. You no longer need an alternate take. You have alternate facts.

Al Gore mutters and bores his way out of a presidency in a race against a guy who spoke English like he learned it from Rosetta Stone.

And now, the stage is set for a metastasis of batshit nuttery, jingoism, and irrational autocratic fervor. A party becomes a cult.

September 11, 2001 occurs. A buncha guys are in DC who couldn’t wait to go to Iraq. And the right wing media is shiny and tuned-up.

We go kick a bunch of barbarian ass in Afghanistan, as well we should have. They were beating women and destroying Buddhas. F**k ’em.

But then, The Axis of Evil Speech. And all the analysts in DC I know collectively go, “Oh, fuuuuu…they’re not serious, are they?”

Bill Clinton spent most of his years pounding the living snot out of Hussein. Dude built anything funny lookin’, in came the rockets.

There was one concerning nation-state for most, and – hint – it’s in Asia. The other threat was non-state actors. *ahem* Which played out.

And now – *headdesk* – they’re going to Iraq. With bullshit intel.

Goddamn it. GODDAMN IT. This is going to suck, said smart people.

And there’s the entire right-wing think tank and media machine blaring, careening, gloating. From the gov’t itself, and from every outlet.

HOW DARE YOU BE SKEPTICAL? WE HAVE AGENCIES! INTEL! IT’S SECRET! DO YOU WANT MORE PLANES IN YOUR NOSTRILS, UP YOUR BUTTS? BE PATRIOTIC!

And goddamn, did those media outlets sell a lot of ads for trucks, pain killers, pharmaceuticals and financial services. $$$$$$

Many earnest patriots also pointed out, hey, um, there apparently are no weapons that could have blown up Cleveland, so…

But now, this whole thing has morphed into tribalism. YES THEY DID TOO FIND WEAPONS OF MASS DEPRESSION AND YOU SUCK BUSH ROCKS PUSSY

Ann Coulter comes on TV to talk over B-roll of rusty munitions WE SOLD HUSSEIN and said, well look, there they are. Total. Propaganda.

America looks like shit. Our intel services take a helluva beating. Iraq’s invasion – which was basically unplanned – results in chaos.

Katrina. Bush. Looking out the window. Confused.

Hey, but in intel news, the National Geospatial-Intel Agency helps critically.

  1. The housing Ponzi we used to get out of the DotComBust-9/11-era recession has now gone pear-shaped. Utterly nuclear.

America’s banks, the one thing other than movies and video games we do reliably, all shit the bed simultaneously.

We then elect a cappuccino-colored president whose middle name is Hussein.

The Right goes completely over the f**king cliff into insane.

They start the TEA PARTY! YO REMEMBER BOSTON! PAAAATRIOTS SOMETHING SOMETHING! TEA PARTY! NOTHING MATTERS TAKE IT ALL BACK YAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

This political movement happens when the only thing Obama has really said with conviction is “Fired up! Ready to go!” In late November 2008.

But ON GEORGE WASHINGTON’S GRAVE THIS HAS GONE TOO FAR!!! And the entire right-wing media gets its next several years of revenue LOCKED.

Now, we’ve got a really, reaaaally fertile field in which former KGB agents can make a long play.

And Moscow gets to work.

America’s at this weird nihilistic place, which is one thing for France and Russia, but NOT for earnest midwesterners who are agape.

Now the American Left has got some juice back again. But the Right is just apoplectic from pure suffering.

Both are ripe for subversion.

The Left is out of love with American business and military-industrial, the Right foams at the mouth against legitimate government.

And the guys who have been twisting minds from Vladivostok to Havana and back get to work building an “alt” media structure.

We’ve already covered the genius of that who Wikileaks op on the Left. SCORE!

Now for the perversion of the formerly nationalist Right.

JESUS TAPDANCING CHRIST THERE’S A BLACK DUDE IN THE WHITE HOUSE! LIVING THERE!

It’s not hard to convince Southerners this is insane.

But put a little elbow grease in on some internet forums, and pretty soon you can have Northern John Adams-type conservatives, too.

A whole generation of disaffect Rush Limbaugh fans (WE LISTENED AND DITTOED SO HARD WHY IS THERE A BLACK DUDE THERE?) is ripe for picking.

In addition to alt-finance sites and “Russia Today” a new TV network, they start infiltrating “social media.”

Disclosure: Because I’m mouthy all the time like this, RT had me on as a guest. They prop up US “subversives.” And they don’t edit you!

Fun fact: Al Jazeera and RT just let me talk. US media almost always wants some hand in your final product before booking you. Ironic, no?

But from about 2009 to the 2016 election, a madness is being brewed and slowly poured down the throats of increasingly hysterical Americans.

When you imbibe from this potion, everything is awful and everyone official is lying to you.

Only other members of the cult are with you!

US media, which is complicit in many of our problems, is portrayed for the extremists as conspiratorial liars. All the time.

Formerly sane members of US society start sounding like my schizophrenic grandfather, who said Government was keeping him from His Mission.

David Fahrenthold ‏@Fahrenthold  Dec 11

@ericgarland damn, man, this is great writing, using a form that doesn’t usually lend itself to greatness.

We go kick a bunch of barbarian ass in Afghanistan, as well we should have. They were beating women and destroying Buddhas. F**k ’em.

There was one concerning nation-state for most, and – hint – it’s in Asia. The other threat was non-state actors. *ahem* Which played out.

And now – *headdesk* – they’re going to Iraq. With bullshit intel.

Goddamn it. GODDAMN IT. This is going to suck, said smart people.

And there’s the entire right-wing think tank and media machine blaring, careening, gloating. From the gov’t itself, and from every outlet.

HOW DARE YOU BE SKEPTICAL? WE HAVE AGENCIES! INTEL! IT’S SECRET! DO YOU WANT MORE PLANES IN YOUR NOSTRILS, UP YOUR BUTTS? BE PATRIOTIC!

And goddamn, did those media outlets sell a lot of ads for trucks, pain killers, pharmaceuticals and financial services. $$$$$$

Many earnest patriots also pointed out, hey, um, there apparently are no weapons that could have blown up Cleveland, so…

But now, this whole thing has morphed into tribalism. YES THEY DID TOO FIND WEAPONS OF MASS DEPRESSION AND YOU SUCK BUSH ROCKS PUSSY

Ann Coulter comes on TV to talk over B-roll of rusty munitions WE SOLD HUSSEIN and said, well look, there they are. Total. Propaganda.

America looks like shit. Our intel services take a helluva beating. Iraq’s invasion – which was basically unplanned – results in chaos.

Katrina. Bush. Looking out the window. Confused.

Hey, but in intel news, the National Geospatial-Intel Agency helps critically.

  1. The housing Ponzi we used to get out of the DotComBust-9/11-era recession has now gone pear-shaped. Utterly nuclear.

America’s banks, the one thing other than movies and video games we do reliably, all shit the bed simultaneously.

We then elect a cappuccino-colored president whose middle name is Hussein.

The Right goes completely over the f**king cliff into insane.

They start the TEA PARTY! YO REMEMBER BOSTON! PAAAATRIOTS SOMETHING SOMETHING! TEA PARTY! NOTHING MATTERS TAKE IT ALL BACK YAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

This political movement happens when the only thing Obama has really said with conviction is “Fired up! Ready to go!” In late November 2008.

But ON GEORGE WASHINGTON’S GRAVE THIS HAS GONE TOO FAR!!! And the entire right-wing media gets its next several years of revenue LOCKED.

Now, we’ve got a really, reaaaally fertile field in which former KGB agents can make a long play.

 

And Moscow gets to work.

America’s at this weird nihilistic place, which is one thing for France and Russia, but NOT for earnest midwesterners who are agape.

Now the American Left has got some juice back again. But the Right is just apoplectic from pure suffering.

Both are ripe for subversion.

The Left is out of love with American business and military-industrial, the Right foams at the mouth against legitimate government.

And the guys who have been twisting minds from Vladivostok to Havana and back get to work building an “alt” media structure.

We’ve already covered the genius of that who Wikileaks op on the Left. SCORE!

Now for the perversion of the formerly nationalist Right.

JESUS TAPDANCING CHRIST THERE’S A BLACK DUDE IN THE WHITE HOUSE! LIVING THERE!

It’s not hard to convince Southerners this is insane.

But put a little elbow grease in on some internet forums, and pretty soon you can have Northern John Adams-type conservatives, too.

A whole generation of disaffect Rush Limbaugh fans (WE LISTENED AND DITTOED SO HARD WHY IS THERE A BLACK DUDE THERE?) is ripe for picking.

In addition to alt-finance sites and “Russia Today” a new TV network, they start infiltrating “social media.”

Disclosure: Because I’m mouthy all the time like this, RT had me on as a guest. They prop up US “subversives.” And they don’t edit you!

Fun fact: Al Jazeera and RT just let me talk. US media almost always wants some hand in your final product before booking you. Ironic, no?

But from about 2009 to the 2016 election, a madness is being brewed and slowly poured down the throats of increasingly hysterical Americans.

When you imbibe from this potion, everything is awful and everyone official is lying to you.

Only other members of the cult are with you!

US media, which is complicit in many of our problems, is portrayed for the extremists as conspiratorial liars. All the time.

Formerly sane members of US society start sounding like my schizophrenic grandfather, who said Government was keeping him from His Mission.

Only the Gubmint knew the Archangel Gabriel was sending him to find the next Jesus.

So, cut it out, CIA! Stop it, Giant Conspiracy!

And then people you knew from Functional Daily Life started talking that way. People with car dealerships. Dentists. Regular folk.

They started with CONSPIRACY, especially after 2012, because DAMMIT NO THERE SHOULDN’T BE A BLACK DUDE TWO TERMS NOOOO! NO NO NO NO NO NO

THEY ARE ALL IN ON IT. THE CORPORATIONS. THE MEDIA WHORES. THE GOVERNMENT! (except for my Medicare, don’t touch that) ALL OF THEM!

A CABAL CALLED The Pentaveret: The Queen. The Pope. The Gettys. The Rothschilds. AND COLONEL SANDERS, BEFORE HE WENT TITS UP!

If you haven’t unfollowed by now, 1. You’re nuts and 2. Thank you for indulging my So I Married an Axe Murderer reference.

MOVING ON. The conspiratorial fever at about 108, we begin the 2016 election – AGAINST EVERYTHING HOLY – in 2015.

The Republicans debate over 712 times, discussing topics such as who hated Obamacare more, and who had a large penis.

Jesus, that happened.

The Democrats all debate who’s going to get out of Hillary’s way first, except for VERMONT’S OWN BERNIE SANDERS, who…gets popular?

I’m from Vermont and have known Bernie forever, so I’m very surprised, but everyone kinda likes it.

Hillary wins anyhow.

And now, the target for electoral mischief is enormous. Hillary is the most known quantity in America, with huge backstory.

Creating a conspiracy narrative around the Clintons is like creating a “southern” narrative around NASCAR and grits.

Now – with Trump as the non-conformist, not-like-all-the-other-rotten-conspiratorial-assholes paragon, the Russians go into overdrive.

The Russians didn’t create Trump – only New York City and American gullibility could have done that.

But they’ve got a SWEETHEART outcome.

Trump – a moron – is probably unlikely to take the whole enchilada, but that’s perfect. If he gets close enough, he can cry UNFAIR! forever.

Amazing scenario for Russia – instead of RT, they get an institutional nihilist chowderhead with American credentials. They butter him up.

Hell, to hear many tell of it, the have kompromat on him. But anyhow, they invest in his stuff. He was there in 2013. They have a lever.

IF on the off chance, Trump actually (and who could guess this) wins, then…wow, they’ve got quite an opening.

Either way, on the run-up to Nov 2016, Russian involvement was as subtle as a fart in a spacesuit.

Scroll down my TL for details.

The U.S. IC had its hair on fire. This situation was incredibly dangerous. A paranoid U.S. faction backing a rogue with ties to Russia.

OK, Jesus, at LONG LAST, back to my initial premise. Why didn’t Obama and Clinton “do something?”

JESUS, WHAT CAN YOU DO?

You come out and have the CIA enter the goddamn race for Clinton? True or not, we look like some weird cryptofascist state.

Or, you let the Russkis laugh and taunt and infiltrate Facebook with majillions of propaganda tales for idiots? Just let them run around?

Do you come out the day after this totally weird-smelling abomination of an election with all its technical difficulties?

Do you tell America the day after the election that Russia spearfished all of our think tanks in brazen fashion?

Hillary, for her part, gives a brief and all-too-calm speech and goes hiking.

Probably the best move on the board.

Obama WELCOMES! Mr. Trump in an intense, welcoming welcome. To the White House. Mr. Big Winner Guy! Welcome! Fellow American!

Trump looks like he swallowed a goldfish and stares at the floor a bit too long.

As if maybe a joke has gone too far.

In the next month, a small band of propagandists run in a circle and try to look like they’re forming a government.

It’s ungainly.

And now, it’s December 11th. Trump says he don’t need no stinkin’ intel agencies.

Russia (BWA HAHAHAHAAAA) blames Ukraine! LOLOLOLOLZZZ

A lot of Republicans stare into the middle distance, except for McCain and Graham who are NOT HAVING THIS SHIT. (I salute you, gentlemen.)

And here we are. Americans. Hopefully soon united. This isn’t a partisan issue. Obama isn’t late to the party. People are doing their jobs.

If you think any of this is easy, you’re ignorant and delusional.

Tonight, though, I write to you with great hope.

This may be America’s finest hour, as we act together with unshakable resolve to deal with enemies foreign and domestic.

We have done so in the past and come out a stronger, more just, more pluralistic nation.

We will do so now.

And for me? Or die trying.

America is the steward of a genius system entrusted to flawed stewards whose descendants seem to act on the right side of history.

This system is not rotten, not beyond repair, not exiled from the future.

We have been infiltrated by agents who would drive us mad.

This is a nation built on civilization, humanity, and reason, rejecting the febrile superstitions of the past.

It must stand. And will.

We are at present in a place of danger where some of our fellow citizens have forgotten our most cherished values.

We’ve been here before.

America, reluctantly but dutifully, recognizes its internal contradictions and failings.

Slavery. Racism. Internment. Classism.

The genius documents that gave rise to noble American sentiments were themselves authored by those who failed them. (h/t @ Mr. Jefferson)

We spilled the blood of our brothers to resolve the contradictions of slavery and then abandoned the project while killing Indians.

Americans proclaimed the equality of all men while treating women as chattel and all non-whites as lesser. We are indeed hypocrites.

But to be American is to accept that unflinchingly and to soldier forth for future generations, and DO BETTER, GODDAMN IT.

There are those who would mire us in worldly cynicism, to anchor us in a world where our institutions betray forever, where values perish.

And to be American is to face that intellectual, moral, and spiritual assault with the unshakeable devotion to something more lofty.

And when that loftiness fails, as it so often does, to be American is to seize it again and again, knowing that our Creator desire Progress.

Progress can come from Traditionalists or Labor Unionists or mystics or musicians or doctors or Senators or journalists. All are exhorted.

The Progress demanded by our Creator can be achieved by immigrants and natives, skeptics and believers, the elite and the humble alike.

That is America. That is the promise that Americans oft ignore and which more cynical nations would defile for their own gain.

That America will last long after I have died, long after new people have picked the torch.

Long after we betray it again, as we will.

But America will go on, even if by another name, unless all who have heard her name are extinguished.

This is just the locus of promise.

America came from the olive groves of Italy and the shipyard of Plymouth and the islands of the Philippines. Indivisible.

America came from the Torah and Voltaire’s Candide and Adam Smith and zen koans and Greek mathematics and Rumi’s poetry.

America is all these things, and should yet another absolutist demagogue, foreign or domestic seize her, it will be far from the end.

Now is a time for patriots.

It’s also Sunday afternoon. I’m gonna get a beer and watch football.

God Bless America, and all nations.

The Blackest Heart ‏@TheReddestRose  Dec 11

@ericgarland That was amazing. Thank you. I’ve never heard anyone put the kind of patriotism I ascribe to into words. Beautiful.

 

If US Students Are Doing Worse After 15 Years of Test & Punish (NCLB, RTTT, ESSA, etc), Then By All Means Do It Harder and More Vigorously!

You probably saw the results that American students actually did a little worse than in previous years on the international math/reading/science test known as PISA, and are falling behind their international peers. If you didn’t, here are a few links: here, here, and here.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that since 2001, the American public education system has been laboring under various ridiculous laws like ‘No Child Left Behind’ which mandated that by 2014, every single student in every single subgroup in every single school would magically become ‘proficient’ on American tests that are similar to PISA, or else their teachers and administrators would be fired, the schools would be shut down, and their education would be turned over to private charter operators.

Of course, not all American students became magically proficient – that was not possible, just like not everybody can run a 5 or 6 minute mile, no matter how many coaches you fire. However, many, many schools were shut down, many teachers and principals were fired, and private charter operators have taken over the profits from educating more and more students.

Two states stand out from the rest: Michigan and Massachusetts.

Michigan, the home of incoming EdSec Betsy Devos, has turned over the education of its poorest students to lots of charter and voucher schools — and if you look at the results, they are terrible. Detroit appears to be the worst of all cities tested, in fact. (See graph below) Therefore, she (and many other ‘reformers’) want to extend those efforts to all 50 states.

Massachusetts, however, has a serious cap on the number of charter schools. Its citizents recently voted down a proposal funded by people like DeVos to remove that limit and open up dozens of additional charter schools. May I add that Massachusetts has the highest NAEP scores in the nation? * And teachers who are generally union members? Quoting from one of the Post articles, our current secretary of education, who thinks that the solution to everything educational is more charters, more testing, more standards, and more vouchers:

“King pointed to Massachusetts, where students excelled on the PISA test, as an example of how states can get education right.”

In other words, if you do everything that King and Devos recommend, then you might guess that your test scores will go DOWN. If you do the opposite of what they recommend, then it looks like scores go UP.

math_tuda_barchart1-2015

  • Although Boston is not #1 in scores of all large separately-tested cities, Massachusetts as a whole is in fact #1 on the latest NAEP. Don’t believe me? Look it up here.

 

 

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