Suggestions on what to do about the Supreme Court nominee, redux

Remember the list of suggestions by Bill Svelmoe for what to do about Amy Coney Barrett’s illegitimate nomination to the US Supreme Court?

The list went viral, as you may be able to read below.

I hope that Harris and other senators are taking those suggestions seriously.

DA Never Gave Grand Jury the Option of Indicting Cops for Murder

Notoriously corrupt, convicted ex-judge Sol Wachsler once said that he could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, if that’s what the powers that be wanted the DA to do.

But as the case of Breonna Taylor shows, DA’s really, really don’t like indicting cops. As you can see by reading these details in Salon:

==========

Breonna Taylor case grand juror: We weren’t given the option of indicting the two cops who shot her

Grand juror said AG Daniel Cameron misrepresented the deliberations. Cameron agreed to release grand jury recording

IGOR DERYSH

SEPTEMBER 29, 2020 3:25PM (UTC)

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he would comply with a judge’s order to release the grand jury recording in the Breonna Taylor case after a grand juror alleged that Cameron had misrepresented the deliberations.

The juror filed a motion calling for the release of the transcripts on Monday so that “the truth may prevail.”

“The Grand Jury is meant to be a secretive body. It’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen,” a spokesperson for Cameron said in a statement. Despite the concerns over the release, the attorney general’s office said it would comply with the order to release the recording on Wednesday in response to the juror’s complaint.

An attorney for the juror told The New York Times that Cameron “misrepresented” the deliberations and “failed to offer the panel the option of indicting the two officers who fatally shot the young woman.”

The attorney general’s office said it is “confident” in the case they presented but acknowledged that jurors were not given the option of indicting Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove in Taylor’s shooting.

“The evidence supported that Sergeant Mattingly and Detective Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Taylor’s boyfriend, the statement said. “For that reason, the only charge recommended was wanton endangerment.”

Former Det. Brett Hankison, the lone officer fired after the shooting, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment after some of the bullets he “blindly” fired into Taylor’s home struck a wall adjoining her neighbors’ apartment. None of the three officers who fired their weapons were charged in Taylor’s death, even though the city of Louisville agreed to pay Taylor’s family $12 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.

Hankison pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Kevin Glogower, the juror’s lawyer, told the Times that the juror approached him after Cameron claimed during a news conference that state law prevented him from charging Mattingly and Cosgrove.

“While there are six possible homicide charges under Kentucky law, these charges are not applicable to the facts before us because our investigation showed — and the grand jury agreed — that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon,” Cameron said during the news conference last week.

Glogower told the outlet that the juror was “unsettled” by the fact that they were only presented with possible charges for Hankison. He said in the petition that it was “patently unjust” that Cameron “attempted to make it very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision.”

“Using the grand jurors as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility for these decisions only sows more seeds of doubt in the process while leaving a cold chill down the spines of future grand jurors,” the petition said.

According to Walker, the lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family, and more than a dozen neighbors, the officers serving a “no knock” search warrant, part of a narcotics investigation targeting Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, did not announce themselves. Cameron claimed at the news conference that a lone witness corroborated the officers’ statement that they made an announcement, arguing that it was not a “no knock” warrant.

Walker opened fire on the officers, claiming he believed someone was breaking in. Mattingly and Cosgrove returned fire, hitting Taylor six times. An FBI analysis determined that Cosgrove fired the fatal shot. Hankison ran into a parking lot and shot into Taylor’s home through a sliding door and bedroom window, resulting in charges against him. Unlike the other officers, he was not shot at by Walker.

Cameron claimed at the news conference that ballistics showed that the bullet that struck Mattingly during the gunfire was Walker’s. But Vice News reported last week that the initial ballistics report did not prove the bullet was Walker’s and found that “due to limited markings of comparative value, [the bullet] was neither identified nor eliminated as having been fired from” Walker’s gun.

Vice News also published a video of body camera footage showing Hankison entering Taylor’s apartment as investigators were working the scene in an apparent violation of department protocol.

Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family, called the grand jury process a “sham proceeding that did nothing to give Breonna Taylor a voice.”

“I never had faith in Daniel Cameron to begin with,” Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said after the decision. “I was reassured Wednesday of why I have no faith in the legal system, in the police, in the law. They are not made to protect us Black and brown people.”

IGOR DERYSH

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

Tips/Email: iderysh@salon.com Twitter: @IgorDerysh

Who is crazy enough to believe such bullshit?

What this senior Trump hack is alleging is complete, bat-shit crazy nonsense. Apparently a good fraction of the American people believe it, even though Caputo apparently also says that he himself is nuts.

Read for yourself. This is from the NYT.

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

Trump Health Aide Falsely Alleges Conspiracies and Warns of Armed Revolt

Michael R. Caputo told a Facebook audience without evidence that left-wing hit squads were being trained for insurrection and accused C.D.C. scientists of “sedition.”

Michael Caputo, the top communications official at the Department of Health and Human Services, complained that he was under siege by the news media and said his “mental health has definitely failed.”Credit…Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

By Sharon LaFraniere

  • Sept. 14, 2020Updated 6:35 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — The top communications official at the powerful cabinet department in charge of combating the coronavirus made outlandish and false accusations on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election.

Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Trump, even if that opposition bolsters the Covid-19 death toll.

Mr. Caputo, who has faced intense criticism for leading efforts to warp C.D.C. weekly bulletins to fit Mr. Trump’s pandemic narrative, suggested that he personally could be in danger from opponents of the administration. “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get,” he urged his followers.

To a certain extent, Mr. Caputo’s comments in a video he hosted live on his personal Facebook page were simply an amplified version of remarks that the president himself has made. Both men have singled out government scientists and health officials as disloyal, suggested that the election will not be fairly decided, and insinuated that left-wing groups are secretly plotting to incite violence across the United States.

But Mr. Caputo’s attacks were more direct, and they came from the official most responsible for shaping communications around the coronavirus.

C.D.C. scientists “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump next,” Mr. Caputo said. “There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president.”

A longtime Trump loyalist with no background in health care, Mr. Caputo, 58, was appointed by the White House to his post in April, at a time when the president’s aides suspected the health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, of protecting his public image instead of Mr. Trump’s. Mr. Caputo coordinates the messaging of an 80,000-employee department that is the center of the federal public health bureaucracy. The Department of Health and Human Services oversees the Food and Drug Administration, the C.D.C. and the National Institutes of Health., three agencies that are all deeply involved in the pandemic response.

“Mr. Caputo is a critical, integral part of the president’s coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

Mr. Caputo’s Facebook comments were another sign of the administration’s deep antipathy and suspicion for its own scientific experts across the bureaucracy and the growing political pressure on those experts to toe a political line favorable to Mr. Trump.

This weekend, first Politico, then The New York Times and other news media organizations published accounts of how Mr. Caputo and a top aide had routinely worked to revise, delay or even scuttle the core health bulletins of the C.D.C. to paint the administration’s pandemic response in a more positive light. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports had previously been so thoroughly shielded from political interference that political appointees only saw them just before they were published.

Mr. Caputo’s 26-minute broadside on Facebook against scientists, the news media and Democrats was also another example of a senior administration official stoking conspiracy theories about the “deep state” — the label Mr. Trump often attaches to the federal Civil Service bureaucracy — and public anxiety over the election.

Mr. Caputo predicted that the president would win re-election in November, but that his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., would refuse to concede, leading to violence. “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.”

There were no obvious signs from administration officials on Monday that Mr. Caputo’s job was in danger. On the contrary, Mr. Trump again added his voice to the administration’s science denialism. As the president visited California to show solidarity with the fire-ravaged West, he challenged the established science of climate change, declaring, “It will start getting cooler.” He added: “Just watch. I don’t think science knows, actually.”

Mr. Caputo’s remarks also dovetailed in part with those of Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime confidant of both Mr. Caputo and Mr. Trump. Mr. Stone, whose 40-month prison sentence for lying to Congress was commuted by the president in July, told the conspiracy website Infowars on Friday that Democrats were striving to rig the November vote, and that Mr. Trump should consider declaring martial law if he lost re-election.

Mr. Caputo noted with pleasure during his Facebook monologue that Grant Smith, a lawyer for Mr. Stone, was among the followers who had joined his talk on Sunday. Mr. Caputo has 5,000 Facebook friends, and his video was viewed more than 850 times and shared by 44 followers. He has now shut down his account.

Over all, his tone was deeply ominous: He warned, again without evidence, that “there are hit squads being trained all over this country” to mount armed opposition to a second term for Mr. Trump. “You understand that they’re going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going,” Mr. Caputo added.

He said his physical health was in question, and his “mental health has definitely failed.”

“I don’t like being alone in Washington,” Mr. Caputo said, describing “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long.” He also said the mounting number of Covid-19 deaths was taking a toll on him, telling his viewers, “You are not waking up every morning and talking about dead Americans.” The United States has lost more than 194,000 people to the virus. Mr. Caputo urged people to attend Trump rallies, but only with masks.

In a statement on Monday, Mr. Caputo told The Times: “Since joining the administration, my family and I have been continually threatened” and harassed by people who have later been prosecuted. “This weighs heavily on us, and we deeply appreciate the friendship and support of President Trump as we address these matters and keep our children safe.”

He insisted on Facebook that he would weather the controversies, saying, “I’m not going anywhere.” And he boasted of the importance of his role, stating that the president had personally put him in charge of a $250 million public service advertising campaign intended to help the United States return to normal.

The Department of Health and Human Services is trying to use that campaign to attract more minority volunteers for clinical trials of potential Covid-19 vaccines and to ask people who have recovered to donate their blood plasma to help other infected patients. Department officials have complained that Democratic members of Congress are obstructing them.

While Mr. Caputo characterized C.D.C. scientists in withering terms, he said the agency’s director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, was “one of my closest friends in Washington,” adding, “He is such a good man.” Mr. Caputo is partly credited with helping choose Dr. Redfield’s new interim chief of staff.

Critics say Dr. Redfield has left the agency open to so much political interference that career scientists are the verge of resigning. The agency, based in Atlanta, was previously seen as mostly apolitical; its reports were internationally respected for their importance and expertise.

Mr. Caputo charged that scientists “deep in the bowels of the C.D.C. have given up science and become political animals.” He said they “walk around like they are monks” and “holy men” but engaged in “rotten science.”

He fiercely defended his scientific adviser, Dr. Paul Alexander, who was heavily involved in the effort to reshape the C.D.C.’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports. Mr. Caputo described Dr. Alexander, an assistant professor at McMaster University in Canada, as “a genius” and said that public criticism had served only to make his position “permanent” as a watchdog over politically motivated scientists.

“To allow people to die so that you can replace the president is a grievous venial sin, venial sin,” Mr. Caputo said. “And these people are all going to hell.”

A public relations specialist, Mr. Caputo has repeatedly claimed that his family and his business suffered hugely because of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Caputo was a minor figure in that inquiry, but he was of interest partly because he had once lived in Russia, had worked for Russian politicians and was contacted in 2016 by a Russian who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Caputo referred that person to Mr. Stone and was never charged with any wrongdoing. Mr. Caputo later wrote a book and produced a documentary, both entitled “The Ukraine Hoax,” to undermine the case for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Mr. Caputo worked on Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign for a time but was passed over for a job early in the administration. He remained friendly with Dan Scavino, the former campaign aide who is now the deputy chief of staff for White House communications and played a role in reconnecting Mr. Trump and Mr. Caputo.

Some of Mr. Caputo’s most disturbing comments were centered on what he described as a left-wing plot to harm the administration’s supporters. He claimed baselessly that the killing of a Trump supporter in Portland, Ore., in August by an avowed supporter of the left-wing collective known as antifa was part of that effort.

“Remember the Trump supporter who was shot and killed?” Mr. Caputo said. “That was a drill.”

The man suspected in the shooting, Michael Forest Reinoehl, was shot dead this month by officers from a federally led fugitive task force in Washington State. He “went down fighting,” Mr. Caputo said. “Why? Because he couldn’t say what he had inside him.”

Mr. Caputo continued his social media messaging after the Facebook event, retweeting a conspiratorial post that hinted with no evidence that armed camps were being established in Washington, D.C.: “Occupants don’t look like vagrants. Looks like forward basing for militant street ops,” J. Michael Waller, a conservative provocateur, posted on Twitter.

On Monday, Mr. Caputo blocked access to his personal Twitter account.

Part Two: Cheating in DCPS

DC Education Reform Ten Years After, 

Part 2: Test Cheats

Richard P Phelps

Ten years ago, I worked as the Director of Assessments for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). For temporal context, I arrived after the first of the infamous test cheating scandals and left just before the incident that spawned a second. Indeed, I filled a new position created to both manage test security and design an expanded testing program. I departed shortly after Vincent Gray, who opposed an expanded testing program, defeated Adrian Fenty in the September 2010 DC mayoral primary. My tenure coincided with Michelle Rhee’s last nine months as Chancellor. 

The recurring test cheating scandals of the Rhee-Henderson years may seem extraordinary but, in fairness, DCPS was more likely than the average US school district to be caught because it received a much higher degree of scrutiny. Given how tests are typically administered in this country, the incidence of cheating is likely far greater than news accounts suggest, for several reasons: 

·      in most cases, those who administer tests—schoolteachers and administrators—have an interest in their results;

·      test security protocols are numerous and complicated yet, nonetheless, the responsibility of non-expert ordinary school personnel, guaranteeing their inconsistent application across schools and over time; 

·      after-the-fact statistical analyses are not legal proof—the odds of a certain amount of wrong-to-right erasures in a single classroom on a paper-and-pencil test being coincidental may be a thousand to one, but one-in-a-thousand is still legally plausible; and

·      after-the-fact investigations based on interviews are time-consuming, scattershot, and uneven. 

Still, there were measures that the Rhee-Henderson administrations could have adopted to substantially reduce the incidence of cheating, but they chose none that might have been effective. Rather, they dug in their heels, insisted that only a few schools had issues, which they thoroughly resolved, and repeatedly denied any systematic problem.  

Cheating scandals

From 2007 to 2009 rumors percolated of an extraordinary level of wrong-to-right erasures on the test answer sheets at many DCPS schools. “Erasure analysis” is one among several “red flag” indicators that testing contractors calculate to monitor cheating. The testing companies take no responsibility for investigating suspected test cheating, however; that is the customer’s, the local or state education agency. 

In her autobiographical account of her time as DCPS Chancellor, Michelle Johnson (nee Rhee), wrote (p. 197)

“For the first time in the history of DCPS, we brought in an outside expert to examine and audit our system. Caveon Test Security – the leading expert in the field at the time – assessed our tests, results, and security measures. Their investigators interviewed teachers, principals, and administrators.

“Caveon found no evidence of systematic cheating. None.”

Caveon, however, had not looked for “systematic” cheating. All they did was interview a few people at several schools where the statistical anomalies were more extraordinary than at others. As none of those individuals would admit to knowingly cheating, Caveon branded all their excuses as “plausible” explanations. That’s it; that is all that Caveon did. But, Caveon’s statement that they found no evidence of “widespread” cheating—despite not having looked for it—would be frequently invoked by DCPS leaders over the next several years.[1]

Incidentally, prior to the revelation of its infamous decades-long, systematic test cheating, the Atlanta Public Schools had similarly retained Caveon Test Security and was, likewise, granted a clean bill of health. Only later did the Georgia state attorney general swoop in and reveal the truth. 

In its defense, Caveon would note that several cheating prevention measures it had recommended to DCPS were never adopted.[2] None of the cheating prevention measures that I recommended were adopted, either.

The single most effective means for reducing in-classroom cheating would have been to rotate teachers on test days so that no teacher administered a test to his or her own students. It would not have been that difficult to randomly assign teachers to different classrooms on test days.

The single most effective means for reducing school administratorcheating would have been to rotate test administrators on test days so that none managed the test materials for their own schools. The visiting test administrators would have been responsible for keeping test materials away from the school until test day, distributing sealed test booklets to the rotated teachers on test day, and for collecting re-sealed test booklets at the end of testing and immediately removing them from the school. 

Instead of implementing these, or a number of other feasible and effective test security measures, DCPS leaders increased the number of test proctors, assigning each of a few dozen or so central office staff a school to monitor. Those proctors could not reasonably manage the volume of oversight required. A single DC test administration could encompass a hundred schools and a thousand classrooms.

Investigations

So, what effort, if any, did DCPS make to counter test cheating? They hired me, but then rejected all my suggestions for increasing security. Also, they established a telephone tip line. Anyone who suspected cheating could report it, even anonymously, and, allegedly, their tip would be investigated. 

Some forms of cheating are best investigated through interviews. Probably the most frequent forms of cheating at DCPS—teachers helping students during test administrations and school administrators looking at test forms prior to administration—leave no statistical residue. Eyewitness testimony is the only type of legal evidence available in such cases, but it is not just inconsistent, it may be socially destructive. 

I remember two investigations best: one occurred in a relatively well-to-do neighborhood with well-educated parents active in school affairs; the other in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Superficially, the cases were similar—an individual teacher was accused of helping his or her own students with answers during test administrations. Making a case against either elementary school teacher required sworn testimony from eyewitnesses, that is, students—eight-to-ten-year olds. 

My investigations, then, consisted of calling children into the principal’s office one-by-one to be questioned about their teacher’s behavior. We couldn’t hide the reason we were asking the questions. And, even though each student agreed not to tell others what had occurred in their visit to the principal’s office, we knew we had only one shot at an uncorrupted jury pool. 

Though the accusations against the two teachers were similar and the cases against them equally strong, the outcomes could not have been more different. In the high-poverty neighborhood, the students seemed suspicious and said little; none would implicate the teacher, whom they all seemed to like. 

In the more prosperous neighborhood, students were more outgoing, freely divulging what they had witnessed. The students had discussed the alleged coaching with their parents who, in turn, urged them to tell investigators what they knew. During his turn in the principal’s office, the accused teacher denied any wrongdoing. I wrote up each interview, then requested that each student read and sign. 

Thankfully, that accused teacher made a deal and left the school system a few weeks later. Had he not, we would have required the presence in court of the eight-to-ten-year olds to testify under oath against their former teacher, who taught multi-grade classes. Had that prosecution not succeeded, the eyewitness students could have been routinely assigned to his classroom the following school year.

My conclusion? Only in certain schools is the successful prosecution of a cheating teacher through eyewitness testimony even possible. But, even where possible, it consumes inordinate amounts of time and, otherwise, comes at a high price, turning young innocents against authority figures they naturally trusted. 

Cheating blueprints

Arguably the most widespread and persistent testing malfeasance in DCPS received little attention from the press. Moreover, it was directly propagated by District leaders, who published test blueprints on the web. Put simply, test “blueprints” are lists of the curricular standards (e.g., “student shall correctly add two-digit numbers”) and the number of test items included in an upcoming test related to each standard. DC had been advance publishing its blueprints for years.

I argued that the way DC did it was unethical. The head of the Division of Data & Accountability, Erin McGoldrick, however, defended the practice, claimed it was common, and cited its existence in the state of California as precedent. The next time she and I met for a conference call with one of DCPS’s test providers, Discover Education, I asked their sales agent how many of their hundreds of other customers advance-published blueprints. His answer: none.

In the state of California, the location of McGoldrick’s only prior professional experience, blueprints were, indeed, published in advance of test administrations. But their tests were longer than DC’s and all standards were tested. Publication of California’s blueprints served more to remind the populace what the standards were in advance of each test administration. Occasionally, a standard considered to be of unusual importance might be assigned a greater number of test items than the average, and the California blueprints signaled that emphasis. 

In Washington, DC, the tests used in judging teacher performance were shorter, covering only some of each year’s standards. So, DC’s blueprints showed everyone well in advance of the test dates exactly which standards would be tested and which would not. For each teacher, this posed an ethical dilemma: should they “narrow the curriculum” by teaching only that content they knew would be tested? Or, should they do the right thing and teach all the standards, as they were legally and ethically bound to, even though it meant spending less time on the to-be-tested content? It’s quite a conundrum when one risks punishment for behaving ethically.

Monthly meetings convened to discuss issues with the districtwide testing program, the DC Comprehensive Assessment System (DC-CAS)—administered to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. All public schools, both DCPS and charters, administered those tests. At one of these regular meetings, two representatives from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announced plans to repair the broken blueprint process.[3]

The State Office employees argued thoughtfully and reasonably that it was professionally unethical to advance publish DC test blueprints. Moreover, they had surveyed other US jurisdictions in an effort to find others that followed DC’s practice and found none. I was the highest-ranking DCPS employee at the meeting and I expressed my support, congratulating them for doing the right thing. I assumed that their decision was final.

I mentioned the decision to McGoldrick, who expressed surprise and speculation that it might have not been made at the highest level in the organizational hierarchy. Wasting no time, she met with other DCPS senior managers and the proposed change was forthwith shelved. In that, and other ways, the DCPS tail wagged the OSSE dog. 

* * *

It may be too easy to finger ethical deficits for the recalcitrant attitude toward test security of the Rhee-Henderson era ed reformers. The columnist Peter Greene insists that knowledge deficits among self-appointed education reformers also matter: 

“… the reformistan bubble … has been built from Day One without any actual educators inside it. Instead, the bubble is populated by rich people, people who want rich people’s money, people who think they have great ideas about education, and even people who sincerely want to make education better. The bubble does not include people who can turn to an Arne Duncan or a Betsy DeVos or a Bill Gates and say, ‘Based on my years of experience in a classroom, I’d have to say that idea is ridiculous bullshit.’”

“There are a tiny handful of people within the bubble who will occasionally act as bullshit detectors, but they are not enough. The ed reform movement has gathered power and money and set up a parallel education system even as it has managed to capture leadership roles within public education, but the ed reform movement still lacks what it has always lacked–actual teachers and experienced educators who know what the hell they’re talking about.”

In my twenties, I worked for several years in the research department of a state education agency. My primary political lesson from that experience, consistently reinforced subsequently, is that most education bureaucrats tell the public that the system they manage works just fine, no matter what the reality. They can get away with this because they control most of the evidence and can suppress it or spin it to their advantage.

In this proclivity, the DCPS central office leaders of the Rhee-Henderson era proved themselves to be no different than the traditional public-school educators they so casually demonized. 

US school systems are structured to be opaque and, it seems, both educators and testing contractors like it that way. For their part, and contrary to their rhetoric, Rhee, Henderson, and McGoldrick passed on many opportunities to make their system more transparent and accountable.

Education policy will not improve until control of the evidence is ceded to genuinely independent third parties, hired neither by the public education establishment nor by the education reform club.

The author gratefully acknowledges the fact-checking assistance of Erich Martel and Mary Levy.

Access this testimonial in .pdf format

Citation:  Phelps, R. P. (2020, September). Looking Back on DC Education Reform 10 Years After, Part 2: Test Cheats. Nonpartisan Education Review / Testimonials. https://nonpartisaneducation.org/Review/Testimonials/v16n3.htm


[1] A perusal of Caveon’s website clarifies that their mission is to help their clients–state and local education departments–not get caught. Sometimes this means not cheating in the first place; other times it might mean something else. One might argue that, ironically, Caveon could be helping its clients to cheat in more sophisticated ways and cover their tracks better.

[2] Among them: test booklets should be sealed until the students open them and resealed by the students immediately after; and students should be assigned seats on test day and a seating chart submitted to test coordinators (necessary for verifying cluster patterns in student responses that would suggest answer copying).

[3] Yes, for those new to the area, the District of Columbia has an Office of the “State” Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Its domain of relationships includes not just the regular public schools (i.e., DCPS), but also other public schools (i.e., charters) and private schools. Practically, it primarily serves as a conduit for funneling money from a menagerie of federal education-related grant and aid programs

Gangsters Like Trump Don’t Like Written Records, but they DO Expect to Get their Cut

The point being, Donald Trump is acting like a gangster. As usual. Pay attention to what this criminal actually says.

From The Bulwark (so I, Guy Brandenburg did NOT write this.)

1. A Piece of the Action
My favorite movie of the 2000s (non-Dark Knight division) is a British gangster film called Layer Cake.

I highly recommend it.

Layer Cake is a lot of things: It’s about class and ambition and history and generational conflict. 

But as much as anything else, it’s about business. I say this with all sincerity: Layer Cake is probably the best business movie ever made.

Please permit a digression from the movie.

Layercake revolves around a drug dealer called Mr. X who is a middle-tier operator. He buys from wholesalers and then sells the product to the regional distributors, who then split the parcels up and get them to local dealers. Who finally punt it to the end users.

At each step along on the chain, one of the middlemen takes a bite.

At the top of the pyramid is semi-respectable mogul named Jimmy Price. And Jimmy is the supplier who puts Mr. X in touch with the wholesalers. For this, Jimmy gets a cut of every transaction.

At the start of the movie, Jimmy puts Mr. X together with a gangster called the Duke, who has one million tabs of ecstasy. When Mr. X discovers that the Duke has stolen those pills from a Serbian gang run by war criminals—who are trying to get them back—he decides that he should walk away from the deal, because it’s going to get him killed.

And at this point, Mr. X tries to tell Jimmy’s right-hand enforcer, Gene, that the deal with the Duke is off. At which point Gene explains to him the facts of life:
 Gene: Between you and the Duke, you promised Jimmy a bumper payday. So you better get busy.Mr. X: I said I’d try and offload—Gene: He put you together. You and Duke. That’s his job. If you two can’t make music? He’s gonna want his whack out, either way. That’s business.
I mention all of this because on Tuesday the president of the United States held forth on the prospective sale of the Chinese spyware engine TikTok to Microsoft. Here is what the president said: We set a date, I set a date, of around September 15th, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States. But if somebody, whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, buys it, that’ll be interesting.I did say that if you buy it, whatever the price is, that goes to whoever owns it, because I guess it’s China, essentially, but more than anything else, I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States. Because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen. Right now they don’t have any rights, unless we give it to ’em. So if we’re going to give them the rights, then it has to come into, it has to come into this country.
I mean, this isn’t exactly what Gene tells Mr. X in Layer Cake. But it’s . . . close?

The president of the United States has set a deadline for a sale and told the prospective buyer and seller that he expects to get his whack out. And that he believes he is entitled to do this because neither the buyer nor seller “[have] any rights unless we give it to ’em.”The only thing Trump isn’t doing here is telling Microsoft that they’re going to have to pay whether or not the deal gets done, because he did his job of putting them together.

This is not normal.

This is not how first-world governments work.

It is, however, how gangsters operate.

Do you remember the scene in the Mueller report where Trump flips out at his lawyer, Don McGahn, about his note-taking?
 The President also asked McGahn in the meeting why he had told Special Counsel’s Office investigators that the President had told him to have the Special Counsel removed. McGahn responded that he had to and these conversations with the President were not protected by attorney-client privilege. The President then asked, “What about these notes? Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes.” McGahn responded that he keeps notes because he is a “real lawyer” and explained that notes create a record and are not a bad thing. (page 117)
Or do you remember when Trump wanted to communicate a message to his attorney general, but instead of calling him, or drafting a memo, or dispatching his chief of staff, he called in a private citizen (Corey Lewandowski), dictated a note to him (insisting that he write it down), then dispatched him to deliver the message to his own AG, and the messenger refused to give the message to the AG over the phone or at DoJ, since either of those methods of communication would leave a trail.

Again: This is not normal.

America is being run like a banana republic. A kleptocracy. A criminal enterprise.

And keep in mind this TikTok stuff is a subject where, as I said on Monday, Trump is right on the merits!

But even when he’s right, his corruption is so total that everything he touches is toxified.

How to decide if anybody should listen to your ideas on how and whether to re-open schools, or maybe you should just hush.

Peter Greene has provided a nice flow chart to let you decide whether you should open your mouth with your ideas on how and whether to re-open the public schools, or whether you should just be quiet and listen.

So, should you just hush, or do you have something valuable to contribute to this subject?

My wife and I each taught for 30 years or so, and so we would be in the ‘speak right up’ category, but I don’t really know how the USA can get public education to work next year, especially since the danger is not going away, but apparently once more growing at an exponential clip.

Nobody should be listening to billionaires or their bought-and-paid-for policy wonks who once spent a whole two years in a classroom.

A few quotes from Greene’s column. (He is a much better writer than me, and much more original as well.)

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

To everyone who was never a classroom teacher but who has some ideas about how school should be reopened in the fall:

Hush.

Just hush.

There are some special categories of life experiences. Divorce. Parenthood. Deafness. Living as a Black person in the US. Classroom teacher. They are very different experiences, but they all have on thing in common.

You can read about these things. But if you haven’t lived it, you don’t know. You can study up, read up, talk to people. And in some rare cases that brings you close enough to knowing that your insights might actually be useful.

But mostly, you are a Dunning-Krueger case study just waiting to be written up.

The last thirty-seven-ish years of education have been marked by one major feature– a whole lot of people who just don’t know, throwing their weight around and trying to set the conditions under which the people who actually do the work will have to try to actually do the work. Policy wonks, privateers, Teach for America pass-throughs, guys who wanted to run for President, folks walking by on the street who happen to be filthy rich, amateurs who believe their ignorance is a qualification– everyone has stuck their oar in to try to reshape US education. And in ordinary times, as much as I argue against these folks, I would not wave my magic wand to silence them, because 1) educators are just as susceptible as anyone to becoming too insular and entrenched and convinced of their own eternal rightness and 2) it is a teacher’s job to serve all those amateurs, so it behooves the education world to listen, even if what they hear is 98% bosh.

But that’s in ordinary times, and these are not ordinary times.

There’s a whole lot of discussion about the issues involved in starting up school this fall. The discussion is made difficult by the fact that all options stink. It is further complicated by the loud voices of people who literally do not know what they are talking about.

100 Reasons to Conclude DJT is Unfit to be President

This is from something called Bulwark. But they left out a lot! Here is the article:

Part of the mad genius of Donald J. Trump is that he never runs from scandals. He just creates more of them. So many more that anyone attempting to track them all risks becoming numb as a survival mechanism.

A collective amnesia sets in. We ask ourselves, “Do you remember that time when Trump got impeached, said that super-racist thing, cozied up to dictators, threatened our elections, or oh, whatever that was?”

Well, we at The Bulwark do. Yes, it can be hard to keep up. We all need reminders. So, lest anyone forget or require convincing, here’s a non-exhaustive list of 100 reasons Donald Trump is unfit to be president.

1  1985-1994

Reported $1.17 billion in business losses over the decade. Trump “appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer,” according to the New York Times.

2  May 1, 1989

Took out $85,000-worth of full-page ads in New York newspapers calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five—whose convictions were later vacated after DNA evidence proved their innocence. Trump never apologized.

3  1990s

Contrary to his story of being a self-made billionaire, Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real-estate empire, much of it transferred through suspect tax-dodging schemes.

4  1991-2009

Declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy for his various businesses six times.

5  2005

Bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy” in a conversation with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush picked up on a hot mic.

6  2011-2016

Promoted birtherism against President Barack Obama—the false claim that Obama was not born in the United States, that his birth certificate was fraudulent, and that therefore he was constitutionally ineligible for the presidency.

7  2015-2016

Attacked in sexist and demeaning ways women who raised critical questions about his character. See: Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina, Hillary Clinton.

8  2015-present

Denies accusations of sexual misconduct, ranging from unwanted kissing to rape, by calling the women “liars” and not “his type.”

9  June 16, 2015

Announced his presidential campaign by describing America as “a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.” Mexicans coming to America, he said, were “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

10  July 18, 2015

Said Vietnam POW John McCain is “not a war hero” and “I like people who weren’t captured.”

11  November 22, 2015

Claimed that “thousands and thousands” of people in New Jersey’s Arab communities cheered on 9/11.

12  2016 campaign season

Encouraged violence. Said that he’d like to punch a protester “in the face”; that his supporters should “knock the hell” out of protesters—“I promise you, I’ll pay the legal bills”; and that the police should not protect suspects’ heads when loading them into squad cars.

13  May 11, 2016

Refused to release his tax returns for public inspection after having previously promised to do so. On other occasions, he falsely claimed he could not release them because he was under audit. When, in 2019, Congress subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to comply—kicking off cases that went to the Supreme Court.

14  May-June 2016

Said Judge Gonzalo Curiel is unfit to rule on a lawsuit filed by Trump University students because “he’s a Mexican” (in fact, the judge is an American citizen born in Indiana). Trump would later settle the lawsuit for $25 million.

15  July 27, 2016

Called on Russia to hack and release Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails.

16  July 30, 2016

Denigrated the family of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in 2004 while serving in Iraq, after Khan’s father delivered remarks at the Democratic National Convention.

17  July 30, 2016

Broke with U.S. policy of supporting Ukraine over Russia’s invasion of Crimea, saying: “The people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.”

18  Fall 2016

Before Election Day, repeatedly hyped unfounded fears of a “rigged” election. Then, after Election Day, he stated, without any evidence, “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

January 20, 2017

Trump inaugurated, becomes the 45th president of the United States.

19  January 21, 2017

As one of his first official acts as president, deployed White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to lie about the size of his inauguration crowds.

20  January 21, 2017

Blasted the news media and bragged about the size of his inauguration crowds—as well as his intellect—in front of the CIA’s wall of stars memorializing agents who died in service to the country.

21  January 27, 2017

Enacted the “Muslim ban” that, through executive order, prevented foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days; the order was quickly contested in the courts, and its enforcement was blocked.

22  April 29, 2017

Told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who had sanctioned the extrajudicial killing of drug suspects, that he was doing an “unbelievable job” of cracking down on his country’s drug problem.

23  May 9, 2017

Fired FBI Director James Comey. Comey later said that Trump had told him during a private January 2017 dinner that “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”

24  May 11, 2017

Created a federal commission to investigate voter fraud that failed to find any examples of voter fraud.

25  May 16, 2017

Remained silent when security forces working for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, attacked protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C.

26  July 9, 2017

Considered creating a joint cyber security task force with Russia, despite the fact that Russia has been responsible for a host of cyber attacks against the United States. He tweeted, “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded.” Putin confirmed in a 2018 event that he had discussed the idea with Trump.

27  August 15, 2017

Said there were “very fine people on both sides” of the alt-right protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

28  August 25, 2017

Pardoned Joe Arapaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who had been convicted of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial-profiling case.

29  October 11, 2017

Tweeted a suggestion that “fake news” networks, such as NBC, should have their broadcast licenses “challenge[d].”

30  October 24, 2017

Asked then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo to meet with a conspiracy theorist who believes that Russia didn’t hack emails from the Democratic National Committee computers during the 2016 campaign, but that the DNC itself leaked them.

31  November 26, 2017

Stood by Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore amid credible accusations that Moore had committed acts of sexual misconduct.

32  January 2, 2018

Escalated nuclear tensions with North Korea by tweeting, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

33  January 11, 2018

During an Oval Office meeting about immigration, asked lawmakers “Why do we want all these people from shithole countries coming here?”

34  February 5, 2018

Said Democrats who declined to applaud his State of the Union speech were “treasonous,” a charge that he would go on to level at other political opponents as well.

35  February 21, 2018

Required a handwritten reminder to appear empathetic when he met with students and parents affected by school shootings.

36  March 3, 2018

Congratulated Chinese President Xi Jinping on eliminating term limits. “I think it’s great,” Trump said. “Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

37  April 5, 2018

Denied any knowledge of the $130,000 hush-money payment his lawyer Michael Cohen made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her silent during the 2016 election. A book by Daniels laying out the details of her alleged 2006 affair with the married Trump was published later in 2018.

38  April 6, 2018

Instituted a “zero tolerance” policy at the border requiring the forced separation of families; it was rescinded weeks later, after more than 2,300 children had been separated from their parents.

39  May 2018

Overruled objections from national security officials to give son-in-law Jared Kushner a security clearance.

40  May 2018

Accepted a memo from President Erdoğan of Turkey that claimed innocence for a Turkish firm under investigation by the Southern District of New York. According to John Bolton’s 2020 memoir of his time as Trump’s national security advisor, Trump “told Erdogan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people.” (On June 20, 2020, he did fire the U.S. Attorney for the SDNY, Geoffrey Berman, who not only had indicted the Turkish-owned firm but had reportedly opened an inquiry into Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.)

41  June 2018-present

Makes a habit of questioning the intelligence and mental stability of his black critics—such as Rep. Maxine Waters, CNN host Don Lemon, and NBA star LeBron James.

42  July 12, 2018

Threatened that the United States might “go our own way”—interpreted as a signal that he wanted to pull out of NATO—throwing a summit with world leaders into turmoil. He had repeatedly called NATO “obsolete” during the 2016 campaign, then “not so obsolete” once he was in office.

43  July 13, 2018

Lifted a ban preventing the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE from doing business with U.S. companies. ZTE was widely considered to be a threat to U.S. national security; without Trump’s intervention, it likely would have gone bankrupt.

44  July 16, 2018

Sided with Russian president Vladimir Putin in rejecting the findings of the U.S. intelligence community about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election during a joint news conference with Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

45  July 22, 2018

Used Twitter to issue an all-caps threat to Iran.

46  August 15, 2018

Revoked former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance in retaliation for his criticism of the president.

47  September 13, 2018

Denied that 3,000 Puerto Ricans died in hurricane Maria and Irma and blamed Democrats for manipulating the numbers to make him look bad.

48  September 25, 2018

Claimed at the U.N. General Assembly that his administration had accomplished more in two years than “almost any administration in the history of our country”—a boast that immediately elicited the laughter of world leaders.

49  September 29, 2018

Talked affectionately of his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un: “We fell in love, okay?”

50  October 29, 2018

Just days after Trump fanatic Cesar Sayoc was arrested for sending pipe bombs to CNN offices and to prominent Trump critics, Trump tweeted, “The Fake News Media the true Enemy of the People.”

51  November 7, 2018

Fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president’s chief grudge against Sessions? The fact that Sessions recused himself from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Sessions was legally obligated to do so as a participant of Trump’s campaign.)

52  December 6, 2018

The New York Times reported that the Trump Organization employed undocumented workers at his New Jersey golf course.

53  December 12, 2018

Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen is sentenced to three years in prison.

54  December 19, 2018

Ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, abandoning America’s Kurdish allies, which led to the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

55  December 22, 2018-January 25, 2019

Caused the longest government shutdown in American history, because he could not persuade Congress to fund the border wall he wanted to build.

56  February 15, 2019

Declared a “national emergency concerning the southern border of the United States”—a move that allowed him to shift funding from the Pentagon budget to help pay for the border wall. (As of 2020, the sections of the wall that have been built have cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $30 million per mile. Mexico has not paid for the wall as Trump promised it would.)

57  February 25, 2019

Falsely credited his daughter Ivanka with creating “millions of jobs.” (In 2016, he had said that his children would have no role in the White House; instead, Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner were given large advisory portfolios.)

58  March 13, 2019

Paul Manafort, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison after being convicted of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to disclose a foreign bank account.

59  March 24, 2019

Attorney General William Barr released a misleading four-page summary of the long-anticipated Mueller Report. Three days later, Mueller wrote that Barr’s summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.”

60  April 24, 2019

Recalled U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch after Trump’s lawyer Rudy Guiliani and his associates led a smear campaign against her. (Seven months later, he would attack her while she testified before Congress.)

61  May 20, 2019

Blocked former White House counsel and Mueller Report key witness Don McGahn from testifying before Congress—one of numerous witnesses the White House refused to let testify.

62  May 24, 2019

Circumvented Congress by declaring an “emergency” over Iran so he could sell arms to Saudia Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.

63  June 19, 2019

Began pushing aides to block military aid to Ukraine, an action that was carried out later and that the Government Accountability Office said broke the law. This same day, he also falsely implied in a TV interview that Ukraine, not Russia, was somehow linked to the hacking of the DNC emails during the 2016 campaign.

64  June 28-29, 2019

Lauded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and declined questions about the brutal killing of Washington Post writer and legal U.S resident Jamal Khashoggi, whom the CIA concluded the prince had ordered dead.

65  June 28-29, 2019

Asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him get re-elected, according to then-National Security Advisor John Bolton’s later account: During the G-20 meeting, Trump “stunningly . . . turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. . . . He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.” Bolton also reports that Trump told Xi he supports his building of concentration camps that hold an estimated one million Uighurs.

66  July 14, 2019

Said of a trio of freshman minority Democratic congresswomen, “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

67  July 23, 2019

Attacked Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the eve of his testimony before Congress.

68  July 25, 2019

Asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden—the action that led to President Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives in December 2019 and trial in the Senate in January and February 2020.

69  August 20, 2019

Said that Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats are guilty of “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

70  August-September 2019

Invited the Taliban to Camp David.

71  September 2019

Canceled GOP presidential caucuses and primaries in four states.

72  September 4, 2019

Displayed an official National Weather Service map in the Oval Office that was falsified with a Sharpie to make it seem as if government forecasters had during the previous week projected that Hurricane Dorian might strike Alabama, as he had erroneously claimed.

73  October 1, 2019

Reports surfaced that Trump had suggested soldiers shoot migrants illegally crossing into the United States. He reportedly also inquired about putting a “water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators” at the border, “prompting aides to seek a cost estimate.”

74  October 23, 2019

Described NeverTrump Republicans as “human scum.”

75  October 27, 2019

Claimed that he had predicted Osama bin Laden’s 9/11 attack.

76  November 2019

Intervened in the case of Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, following his trial for war crimes. Upon Trump’s order, Gallagher’s demotion was undone and he was allowed to keep his Navy SEAL Trident insignia, which he was about to be stripped of. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was fired for opposing the president’s intervention.

77  November 7, 2019

Ordered to pay $2 million in damages to settle claims brought by the New York state government that the Trump Foundation had misused funds. (The foundation was already being dissolved because of what New York officials called a “shocking pattern of illegality . . . including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.” Much of this story was first unearthed by Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold.)

78  November 19, 2019

Smeared Alexander Vindman, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel detailed to the National Security Council, after Vindman testified in the House impeachment investigation.

79  February 7, 2020

Fired impeachment witnesses Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. (Also fired Alex Vindman’s brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, also a National Security Council staffer.)

80 February 20, 2020

Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was sentenced to more than three years in prison after his conviction on seven felony charges, including lying under oath to Congress and obstructing the investigation into the 2016 election.

81  February 26, 2020

Said that “within a couple days” the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States—there were then 15 confirmed cases—was “going to be down to close to zero.” (See also the Bulwark timeline “The Ten Weeks That Lost the War.”)

82  February 28, 2020

Said that Democrats “are politicizing the coronavirus” and that “this is their new hoax.”

83  March-May 2020

Repeatedly touted the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as treatments for COVID-19, despite the lack of high-quality evidence regarding either their effectiveness or their potential harmful side effects. On April 20, the administration demoted a top government virologist who questioned the scientific merits of these drugs for treating COVID-19. On May 18, Trump claimed that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine pills himself, although a note released that evening by the White House physician did not confirm the claim. By June, with the president’s attention elsewhere, both the NIH and the FDA cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treating COVID-19.

84  March 11, 2020

Botched European travel ban forced thousands of Americans to scramble to get home, taking unnecessary coronavirus flight risks along the way.

85  April 3, 2020

Fired the intelligence community inspector general in retaliation for delivering the whistleblower complaint that triggered impeachment.

86  April 4, 2020

Blasted Navy Capt. Brett Crozier for writing a letter informing Navy leaders about the outbreak of coronavirus among sailors aboard the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

87  April 7, 2020

Said that “mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters.” But President Trump had himself voted absentee by mail the previous month, and the vice president, the attorney general, several cabinet members, and numerous White House staffers had voted by mail as well.

88  April 23, 2020

Suggested that light or disinfectants could be applied to the human body to treat coronavirus: “Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous—whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light. . . . supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too. It sounds interesting. . . . And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs.”

89  May 12, 2020

Promoted a conspiracy theory accusing MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough of murder.

90  May 2020

Pushed a new conspiracy theory, “OBAMAGATE,” that alleges that his predecessor used the final days of his presidency to lead a coup against the incoming Trump presidency—a scandal that would, in Trump’s words, be “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!” Trump later said, without evidence, that Obama had committed “treason.”

91  May 15, 2020

Fired the inspector general of the Department of State at the request of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whom the IG was investigating.

92  May 20, 2020

Threatened to withhold federal funding from Michigan and Nevada if officials go forward with plans to mail absentee ballots or applications to voters.

93  May 26, 2020

Tweeted misinformation about mail-in ballots, forcing Twitter to label Trump’s tweet with a fact-check.

94  May 29, 2020

As of this date, according to a database compiled by the Washington Post, President Trump had told over 19,000 lies since he assumed office.

95  May 29, 2020

Called Minneapolis protesters “THUGS” and said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter flagged the tweet as violating the platform’s rules against glorifying violence.

96  June 1, 2020

Ordered the dispersal of peaceful protesters—by law-enforcement officers who attacked them with flash grenades, smoke grenades, rubber-ball grenades, pepper spray (a kind of tear gas), and pepper balls—so that he could walk from the White House across Lafayette Square for a photo op in front of St. John’s Church. In the days that followed, representatives from the White House, the Trump campaign, and various law-enforcement agencies denied that tear gas was used during the incident, although they later walked back their denials. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff later apologized for his presence at the scene. The incident also led former secretary of defense James Mattis to condemn the president: “We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square.”

97  June 9, 2020

Speculated that a 75-year-old Black Lives Matter protester who was hospitalized after being shoved on June 4 by Buffalo police is an “ANTIFA provocateur.”

98  June 20, 2020

Held an indoor campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma—without requiring the masks and social distancing recommended by government health authorities. Told the crowd that he believed too many cases of coronavirus were being logged and that he had instructed “my people” to “slow the testing down.” (After initial speculation that this was a joke, he later said that it was not, and that he really had ordered a slowdown in testing.) Two Secret Service agents present at the Tulsa rally later tested positive for COVID-19, a fact that then resulted in dozens of Secret Service personnel having to quarantine themselves. Eight staffers from Trump’s campaign staff also tested positive, so all campaign staffers who attended the rally reportedly had to quarantine themselves.

99  June 21, 2020

Said that he delayed sanctions against Chinese officials involved in running concentration camps because he thought it would hurt his trade deal with the country.

100  June 26, 2020

As of this date:

The national debt stands at more than $26 trillion, having increased by at least $5.2 trillion since President Trump assumed office.

The most recent estimate for the monthly unemployment rate was 13.3 percent.

More than 124,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

Is it venal treason for Trump’s personal profit? Or sheer stupidity? You decide

Short version of the story:

Putin goon squad promises and delivers bonus payments to Afghan Taliban to kill American, Allied, and government soldiers, according to American intelligence. The latter informs the US National Security Council, which includes, by law, Cheeto45, VP Pence, heads of Cabinet, some important Congressmen and Senators, big brass from the Pentagon, and others. They know about all this. They are on record as discussing this. Trump decides to not only do nothing, but to continue to encourage Putin.

Some of the frustrated members of the NSC leak the information, finally, to WaPo and NYT. We know that Trump has personal financial interests with Russian oligarchs and mobsters.

This example of either complete cluelessness and idiocy by #45, or else out-and-out treason for his own personal benefit, comes on top of all the hundreds of misdeeds committed by those tiny, fat hands and the thousands of lies that have spewed out of his fat, heavily made-up mouth. And on his deadly mishandling of coronavirus, police brutality, racism, and health care.

This maneuver was obviously clever on Putin’s part. However: for Trump and his gang to have full knowledge of this apparently successful scheme to promote the death of American service members and their allies, and then to decide not only to do nothing about it but to then improve ties with Putin, either sounds like treason for the personal profit of Cheeto45, or else they are ALL completely stupid at realpolitik. Not sure which. But to his now-shrinking base, MangoMussolini and his entire corrupt coven of billionaire swamp spawn can do no wrong.

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

June 26, 2020 (Friday)Today the United States registered 44,702 new coronavirus cases, a single-day record. Six states– Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho, and Utah– also set new single-day highs. In an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, officials in Florida and Texas, where governors have been aggressive about reopening, have both reversed course, announcing that bars must close immediately.Incredibly, that’s not the day’s biggest story. This evening, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both broke extraordinary news. Months ago, American intelligence officials concluded that during peace talks to end the war in Afghanistan, a Russian military intelligence group offered to Taliban-linked fighters bounties for killing American troops. They paid up, too, although it is unclear which of the twenty U.S. deaths happened under the deal. The military intelligence unit officials judge to be behind this program, the G.R.U., is the same one that is engaged in a so-called “hybrid war” against America and other western countries, destabilizing them through disinformation, cyberattacks, and covert military operations and assassinations. Urging deadly attacks on American and other NATO troops is a significant escalation of that hostility. New York Times reporter Michael Schwirtz tweeted “it’s hard to overstate what a major escalation this is from Russia. Election meddling and the occasional poisoning are one thing. Paying the Taliban to kill American troops, that’s something entirely new.”

According to the New York Times, the National Security Council discussed the intelligence finding in late March and came up with a range of responses, none of which has been deployed. The NSC can include a number of different officials, but by law it includes the president, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. It usually also includes Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, and Director of National Intelligence, who in March was acting DNI Richard Grenell (it is now John Ratcliffe).

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) took to Twitter to note that Congress had not been informed of the information. “Congress should have been told,” he said. “And not just leadership or the Intel Committee.”

Instead of addressing this extraordinary intelligence, Trump strengthened U.S. ties to Russia, which have been rocky since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. In response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, the U.S. imposed economic sanctions on the country. After Russia attacked the 2016 U.S. election, the U.S. government expanded those sanctions. The eagerness of Russian leaders, especially President Vladimir Putin, to have the sanctions lifted was key to Russian support for Trump in the 2016 election.Just after the NSC discussed the intelligence findings, on April 1, a Russian plane brought ventilators and other medical supplies to the United States. The shipment was such a propaganda coup for Russia that the state television channel RT carried the plane’s arrival in New York live. Not only was it a show of strength for Russia to provide aid to the U.S., but also the equipment Russia sent was produced by a state-run company that is under U.S. sanctions. This was evidently intended to be a demonstration that sanctions did not mix well with a global pandemic. Just days before, Putin had publicly called for ending sanctions to enable the world to combat the coronavirus more effectively. On April 25, 2020, Trump raised eyebrows by issuing a joint statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin commemorating the 75th anniversary of the historic meeting between American and Soviet troops on the bridge of the Elbe River in Germany that signaled the final defeat of the Nazis. Their statement said “The “Spirit of the Elbe” is an example of how our countries can put aside differences, build trust, and cooperate in pursuit of a greater cause.” On May 3, Trump called Putin and talked for an hour and a half, a discussion Trump called “very positive.” He tweeted: “Had a long and very good conversation with President Putin of Russia. As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone else is a good thing, not a bad thing.”On May 21, the U.S. sent a humanitarian aid package worth $5.6 million to Moscow to help fight coronavirus there. The shipment included 50 ventilators, with another 150 promised for the next week. On June 1, Trump called Putin and talked about including Russia in the G7, the international organization of seven major countries with the largest advanced economies in the world. Russia had become part of the organization in 1998 despite its smaller economy– making the group the G8– but was expelled in 2014 after it invaded Ukraine. Trump told reporters Russia should be in the group “because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia,” and the old organization was “outdated” and doesn’t represent “what’s going on in the world.” On June 15, news broke that Trump has ordered the removal of 9,500 troops from Germany, where they support NATO against Russian aggression. The removal leaves 25,000 troops there. All of these friendly overtures to Russia were alarming enough when all we knew was that Russia attacked the 2016 U.S. election and is doing so again in 2020. But it is far worse that those overtures took place when the administration knew that Russia had actively targeted American soldiers. This news is bad, bad enough that it apparently prompted worried intelligence officials to give up their hope that the administration would respond to the crisis, and instead to leak the story to two major newspapers.

I got tested!

I finally got COVID- tested today. It took quite a lot of phone calls, and leads from a bunch of people, and searches through clinics until I hit pay dirt. Mine was through Kaiser Permanente, our medical plan. I probably could have done it through the DC government as well, again for free.
A few days ago I got a form reply to a request I had made to my KP GP for a test; the reply said that I didn’t fit the profile of someone who needed one. I found a number of places where I could spend $150 to $2200 for one out of pocket.
Today I talked to my doctor, and I checked off enough boxes in the questionnaire he gave me to qualify: 70 yo, Crohn’s disease, immunosupressant (infliximab./Remicade) and plus I had sniffles and a stomach ache…
My reason for testing is to go help with grand-toddlers in NC while my son and DIL are trying to keep their business afloat remotely and – hopefully – reopen in a week or two if all goes well.
I don’t remember whether I got the antigen test or the antibody test, but I guess I’ll find that out tomorrow. on Monday the 18th. EDIT: It was the antigen test.
The testing procedure itself was very efficient: I had a 12:30 appointment. There were several parking spaces set aside with cones, in front of a huge medical van, on 2nd St NE in DC, on the street opposite Kaiser’s Capitol Hill center. I drove in, showed my ID at a distance to somebody in a mask on my right, on the sidewalk; he went back to the van, and less than a minute later a nurse (I guess) in full PPE came out, took a closer look at my face and my ID, checked that against the printout she had; then she stuck a long Q-tip into each nostril, and then she told me I was all done.
That sort of efficient testing is what Trump and Brix promised would happen ‘next week’ when he declared on March 13 a national emergency, for anyone. It’s still only for some people, TWO MONTHS LATER.
Such a fine job. Not.
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EDIT:
I just got the results this morning (5/18/2020) for the antigen test, and it was negative. As I strongly suspected.

The Pandemic Is Far From Over

While the rate of increase per day in the number of deaths is generally down, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. In general, more people are still dying each day in the US from this disease than the day before, as you can see from this data, which is taken from the CDC. The very tall bar on day 27 is when New York City finally added thousands of poor souls who had in fact died from this virus. (Day 27 means April 9, and Day 41 means April 30, which is today.)

Opening up the economy and encouraging everybody to go back to work, play, and school will mean a rebirth of exponential growth in deaths and in diagnosed cases after about 2 weeks, since this disease takes about that long to be noticed in those who have been exposed. And once everybody is back on the streets and in the stores and schools, the disease WILL spread exponentially. Opening wide right now, when we still can’t test or follow those who may be infected, would be a huge mistake.

us covid deaths per day

Only somebody as clueless as our current Grifter-In-Chief and his brainless acolytes could be recommending something so irresponsible, against the advice of every medical expert. Maybe they think that only the poor, the black, and the brown will get this disease. Wrong.

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