Klobuchar is Clearly Not Ready

How on earth can a presidential candidate sit down for a friendly interview with Telemundo and NOT have at least been briefed on some basic facts about Mexico? Like who is their quite controversial and fairly new President AMLO? She tried to hide her ignorance, but it was really, really embarrassing for me to watch. That country is one of our largest trading partners! Plus, our nutty and corrupt current president is hell-bent on demonizing their citizens…. ya know?

Did she somehow not know what Telemundo was? (One of the biggest Spanish-language TV/media networks in the US? And that her words were going to be translated on air? and a lot of Hispanic and specifically Mexican-Americans might watch her interview?

Btw, if you can remember what FDR, JFK, MLK, and AOC all stand for, then you can remember AMLO. Interesting fellow. Is he a real rebel against a corrupt system, or is he just selling out? I donno. But our next president, whoever that may be, should at least know a little bit. And should have been briefed by a staffer!

Note: it is obvious that she did not merely forgot AMLO’s name — but that she had never heard of him or anything about the recent elections in the second most populous nation in North America. She claimed that she knew that they had elections in Mexico, and that the two nations shared a border, but that was about it.

Deer in headlights.

Not getting my vote.

Here is a link where you can find another link to watch the Klobuchar-Telemundo interview. I think I watched an unedited version up almost to the point where she walked out in embarrassment.

If that very kindly-spoken interviewer can make AK squirm like that, then, believe me, our extremely adept con artist and reality TV show star will make mincemeat out of her worse than Bush did to Dukakis.

This election is going to be real hardball. While I’ve known some women who can pitch a ‘softball’ underhand much, much faster and harder and more accurately than almost any men can throw a hardball overhand. I mean that both in sports and in debates in the public arena.

So, figuratively speaking, Klobuchar would just get slaughtered by MangoMussolini. Please give your support to someone else.

Apparently Tom Steyer failed that basic question too, but I didn’t watch the video. Did any of my readers get to do so? You can comment using the tiny, tiny comment button below.

Published in: on February 17, 2020 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fascist Americans like being unopposed

Article in Daily Kos about the stealth neo-Nazi march in DC last weekend and the cancelled KKK march on the other coast:


“In the meantime, we have also learned that far-right activists prefer to march without opposition—and that when the opposition is overwhelming in numbers, they may just choose to remain at home. That will be useful knowledge down the road.”

Published in: on February 17, 2020 at 9:56 am  Comments (1)  

Valerie Jablow Reports, Again …

… on the usual lack of transparency regarding DC public and charter schools, here:

(If you live in DC or are concerned about education and good governance, but you don’t subscribe to her newsletters, you need to change that!)

Published in: on February 17, 2020 at 9:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Bloomberg? No way.

Michael Bloomberg hired Joel Klein to be Chancellor of NYC schools.

Klein anointed Michelle Rhee to become Chancellor of DC public schools.

Rhee was a lying sociopath, thought she knew everything, failed at every single promise she made (except firing lots of teachers & other staff) and eventually resigned in disgrace. She made a bunch more hollow boasts after quitting, which also didn’t come true. She has fortunately disappeared from public view. But the damage that she, Bloomberg, and Klein have done to public schools in America lives on.

Thanks for nothing, Michael Bloomberg.

If you somehow buy the Democratic nomination, I don’t care how progressive some of your ideas may sound, I don’t think I could vote for you.

Published in: on February 16, 2020 at 8:27 pm  Comments (1)  

MLK on America’s Racism as a Way of Dividing and Ruling

But as scholars like MlK and Tim Wise have recognized White Supremacy is a form of class control. It was instituted and maintained to keep poor Whites and Blacks from uniting against an oppressive aristocracy. For the poor the “stake” they have in White supremacy is largely a psychological comfort. They would be infinitely better off if they could unite with people of color for the sake of securing economic justice for all.

I think this excerpt best exemplifies the idea, though it’s specific to segregation the underlying message is also true of American chattel slavery:

“Toward the end of the Reconstruction era, something very significant happened. (Listen to him) That is what was known as the Populist Movement. (Speak, sir) The leaders of this movement began awakening the poor white masses (Yes, sir) and the former Negro slaves to the fact that they were being fleeced by the emerging Bourbon interests. Not only that, but they began uniting the Negro and white masses (Yeah) into a voting bloc that threatened to drive the Bourbon interests from the command posts of political power in the South.

To meet this threat, the southern aristocracy began immediately to engineer this development of a segregated society. (Right) I want you to follow me through here because this is very important to see the roots of racism and the denial of the right to vote. Through their control of mass media, they revised the doctrine of white supremacy. They saturated the thinking of the poor white masses with it, (Yes) thus clouding their minds to the real issue involved in the Populist Movement. They then directed the placement on the books of the South of laws that made it a crime for Negroes and whites to come together as equals at any level. (Yes, sir) And that did it. That crippled and eventually destroyed the Populist Movement of the nineteenth century.

If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. (Yes, sir) He gave him Jim Crow. (Uh huh) And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, (Yes, sir) he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man. (Right sir) And he ate Jim Crow. (Uh huh) And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings. (Yes, sir) And his children, too, learned to feed upon Jim Crow, (Speak) their last outpost of psychological oblivion. (Yes, sir)

Thus, the threat of the free exercise of the ballot by the Negro and the white masses alike (Uh huh) resulted in the establishment of a segregated society. They segregated southern money from the poor whites; they segregated southern mores from the rich whites; (Yes, sir) they segregated southern churches from Christianity (Yes, sir); they segregated southern minds from honest thinking; (Yes, sir) and they segregated the Negro from everything. (Yes, sir) That’s what happened when the Negro and white masses of the South threatened to unite and build a great society: a society of justice where none would pray upon the weakness of others; a society of plenty where greed and poverty would be done away; a society of brotherhood where every man would respect the dignity and worth of human personality. (Yes, sir)–Martin Luther King Jr.”

Published in: on February 16, 2020 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

A geometry lesson inspired by a silvering company – and a rant about computerized learning programs

Here is some information that teachers at quite a few different levels could use* for a really interesting geometry lesson involving reflections involving two or more mirrors, placed at various angles!

Certain specific angles have very special effects, including 90, 72, 60, 45 degrees … But WHY?

This could be done with actual mirrors and a protractor, or with geometry software like Geometer’s Sketchpad or Desmos. Students could also end up making their own kaleidoscopes – either with little bits of colored plastic at the end or else with some sort of a wide-angle lens. (You can find many easy directions online for doing just that; some kits are a lot more optically perfect than others, but I don’t think I’ve even seen a kaleidoscope that had its mirrors set at any angle other than 60 degrees!)

I am reproducing a couple of the images and text that Angel Gilding provides on their website (which they set up to sell silvering kits (about which I’ve posted before, and which I am going to attempt using pretty soon, on a large astronomical mirror I’ve been polishing for quite some time)).

At 72º you see 4 complete reflections.

When two mirrors are parallel to each other, the number of reflections is infinite. Placing one mirror at a slight angle causes the reflections to curve.




Rant, in the form of a long footnote:

* assuming that the teacher are still allowed to initiate and carry out interesting projects for their students to use, and aren’t forced to follow a scripted curriculum. It would be a lot better use of computers than forcing kids to painfully walk through (and cheat, and goof off a lot) when an entire class is forced to use one of those very expensive but basically worthless highly-centralized, district-purchased computer-managed-instruction apps. God, what a waste of time – from personal experience attempting to be a volunteer community math tutor at such a school, and also from my experience as a paid or volunteer tutor in helping many many students who have had to use such programs as homework. Also when I was required to use them in my own classes, over a decade ago, I and most of my colleagues found them a waste of time. (Not all – I got officially reprimanded for telling my department chair that ‘Renaissance Math’ was either a ‘pile of crap’ or a ‘pile of shit’ to my then-department head, in the hearing of one of the APs, on a teacher-only day.

Keep in mind: I’m no Luddite! I realized early on that in math, science, and art, computers would be very, very useful. I learned how to write programs in BASIC on one of the very first time-share networks, 45 years ago. For the first ten years that my school system there was almost no decent useful software for math teachers to use with their classes unless you had AppleII computers. We had Commodore-64’s which were totally incompatible and there were very few companies (Sunburst was one) putting out any decent software for the latter. So when I saw some great ideas that would be ideal for kids to use on computers to make thinking about numbers, graphs, and equations actually fun and mentally engaging, often I would have to write them my self during whatever free time I could catch, at nights and weekends. Of course, doing this while being a daddy to 2 kids, and still trying to teach JHS math to a full load of students (100 to 150 different kids a day at Francis Junior High School) and running a school math club and later coaching soccer. (I won’t say I was a perfect person or a perfect teacher. I believe I learned to give better math explanations than most, didn’t believe that you either have a ‘m,ath gene’ or you don’t, at times had some interesting projects, and at times was very patient and clear, but had a terrible temper and often not good at defusing things. Ask my kids or my former students!) Later on, I collaborated with some French math teachers and a computer programmer to try to make an app/program called Geometrix for American geometry classes that was supposed to help kids figure out how to make all sorts of geometric constructions and then develop a proof of some property of that situation. It was a failure. I was the one writing the American version, including constructions and tasks from the text I was currently using. There was no way I could anticipate what sorts of obstacles students would find when using this program, until I had actual guinea pig students to use them with. Turns out the final crunch of writing however many hundreds of exercises took place over the summer, and no students to try them on. Figuring out hints and clues would require watching a whole bunch of kids and seeing what they were getting right or wrong. In other words, a lot of people’s full time job for a long time, maybe paying the kids as well to try it out so as to get good feedback, and so on. Maybe it could work, but it would require a lot more investment of resources that the tiny French and American companies involved could afford. We would have really needed a team of people, not just me and a single checker.

I find that none of these computer-dominated online learning programs (much less the one I worked on) can take the place of a good teacher. Being in class, listening to and communicating logically or emotionally with a number of other students and a knowledgeable adult or two, is in itself an extremely important skill  to learn. It’s also the best way to absorb new material in a way that will make sense and be added to one’s store of knowledge. That sort of group interaction is simply IMPOSSIBLE in a class where everybody is completely atomized and is on their own electronic device, engaged or not.

Without a human being trying to make sense out of the material, what I found quite consistently, in all the computerized settings, that most students absorbed nothing at all or else the wrong lessons altogether (such as, ‘if you randomly try all the multiple choice answers, you’ll eventually pick the right one and you can move on to some other stupid screen’; it doesn’t matter that all your prior choices were wrong; sometimes you get lucky and pick the right one first or second! Whee! It’s like a slot machine at a casino!).

By contrast, I found that with programs/apps/languages like Logo, Darts, Green Globs, or Geometer’s Sketchpad, with teacher guidance, students actually got engaged in the process, had fun, and learned something.

I find the canned computer “explanations” are almost always ignored by the students, and are sometimes flat-out wrong. Other times, although they may be mathematically correct, they assume either way too much or way too little, or else are just plain confusing. I have yet to detect much of any learning going on because of those programs.


International White Racist Terrorist Conspiracy

We Once Fought Jihadists. Now We Battle White Supremacists.
The truth about so-called domestic terrorism? There is nothing domestic about it.
By Max Rose and Ali H. Soufan
Mr. Rose is a Democratic member of Congress. Mr. Soufan is a former F.B.I. special agent.
• Feb. 11, 2020


Supporters of the National Socialist Movement, a white nationalist political group, give Nazi salutes while taking part in a swastika burning at an undisclosed location in Georgia in 2018.
Go Nakamura/Reuters
As a former soldier and F.B.I. agent, we both risked our lives to fight Al Qaeda. But the enemy we currently face is not a jihadist threat. It’s white supremacists — in the United States and overseas.
One American group, The Base, peppered a recruitment video with footage of our faces, intercut with shots of masked men machine-gunning a spray-painted Star of David. The Scandinavia-based Nordic Resistance Movement called us out by name, referring to us in a recent statement as “the Jew Max Rose” and “Arab F.B.I. agent Ali Soufan.” Defenders of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion, which the F.B.I. calls “a paramilitary unit” notorious for its “association with neo-Nazi ideology,” accuse us of being part of a Kremlin campaign to “demonize” the group.

Members of far right group Nordic Resistance Movement marching in Helsinki, Finland in 2017.
Markku Ulander/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Why the sudden attention? Because we, along with dedicated colleagues from across the political spectrum, are working to expose the truth about so-called domestic terrorism: There is nothing domestic about it.

Over the past several months — at congressional hearings, in a report by the Soufan Center, and in a letter to the State Department signed by 40 members of Congress — we have documented the existence of a global network of white supremacist extremists that stretches across North America, Europe and Australia. White supremacists today are organizing in a similar fashion to jihadist terrorist organizations, like Al Qaeda, in the 1980s and 1990s. They transcend national barriers with recruitment and dissemination of propaganda. And just as jihadists exploited conflicts in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Syria, so too are white supremacists using the conflict in Ukraine as a laboratory and training ground.
Yet despite these profound similarities, United States law has not caught up to the new threat we face. International white supremacist groups are still not designated as foreign terrorist organizations, which means our law enforcement and intelligence agencies cannot access the full suite of tools available to them in countering groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda.
A few examples lay bare the extent of this tangled, transnational web.
The Australian who in March last year murdered 51 worshipers at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, claimed in his manifesto that he had traveled to Ukraine; during the attacks he wore a symbol used by the Azov Battalion. The F.B.I. director recently warned that American extremists, too, are traveling overseas for paramilitary training. Among those who have trained with Azov are several of the men responsible for fomenting violence at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017. James Alex Fields Jr., who murdered a protester with his car, was a member of Vanguard America, a group with ties to the British network that celebrated Thomas Mair, the far-right extremist who assassinated the British legislator Jo Cox in 2016.

James Alex Fields Jr., a member of he far-right extremist group Vanguard America which had ties to overseas white nationalist terrorists, murdered Heather Heyer with his car while she participated in a demonstration against white nationalism in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017.
Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress, via Associated Press
Mr. Mair, who is serving a life sentence, was himself closely connected with National Action, a British group that has sought to funnel fighters to Ukraine. This past June, two more British citizens were convicted of terrorism offenses for promoting, among other groups, the United States-based Atomwaffen Division, of which The Base is an offshoot. Recently, Atomwaffen has begun publishing ISIS-style recruitment videos featuring a masked man gesticulating with a hunting knife as he promises a wave of “ever-encroaching terror.” The effect of these far-reaching connections on our homeland is clear. Since 9/11, far-right terrorists have killed 110 people on American soil, while jihadists have killed 107. And the trend is worsening: 2018 was the worst year for far-right violence since Timothy McVeigh attacked Oklahoma City in 1995.

Almost twice as many foreign fighters have traveled to join the civil war in Ukraine than to Afghanistan in the ’80s — a conflict which birthed Al Qaeda. The government is aware of the threat: In 2018 the Trump administration warned of violent foreign neo-Nazi groups forging ties with organizations in the United States.
Yet no white supremacist group has ever been designated a foreign terrorist organization under federal law. This omission leaves American law enforcement hobbled in its efforts to combat these groups and the rising tide of violence they represent. The arrest of members of The Base in January, including a Canadian national, illustrates not only the F.B.I.’s recognition of the threat and resolve to protect Americans, but also the international connections of American groups. But law enforcement cannot utilize the most effective tools to protect the country.
Designating these groups as foreign terrorist organizations would offer authorities three important advantages — ones they currently enjoy when dealing with jihadists. First, they could monitor communications between people connected to the designated groups. Second, they could share intelligence with our allies overseas, an important asset when dealing with international terrorism. And third, they could bring charges for providing material support to the designated groups, with appropriately severe penalties attached.
Terrorism is terrorism, however its perpetrators justify it inside their twisted minds. If these peddlers of hate hoped to silence us by attacking us online, they have failed. They’ve only hardened our resolve.
Max Rose (@MaxRose4NY), a veteran of the United States Army, serves New York’s 11th District in Congress. Ali H. Soufan (@Ali_H_Soufan) is a former F.B.I. special agent and the author, most recently, of “Anatomy of Terror: From the Death of Bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State.”

Published in: on February 12, 2020 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

A real digger!

I mean that in a good way!

Let me explain.

I’m now re-reading my second copy of Diane Ravitch’s latest book, “Slaying Goliath“, taking notes and looking stuff up. By the way, you can read about 33 pages of that book, at that link, for free, and you can then decide if you want o purchase the whole thing.

(Disclaimer: Ravitch asked her publisher to send me a free copy so I would review it. However, that copy got stolen along with the backpack and the best pair of binoculars I ever had… so I had to buy another copy if I wanted to complete the task. Sorry, Diane, I’m still working on it, but I’m slow.)

This is not that review, by the way. That will come later.

Today I just wanted to write about that digger, or sleuth, to whom Ravitch introduces us on page 211 of her book: a certain Maurice Cunningham, who has been diligently following the money. He has been researching, connecting the dots, and then showing the public how a handful of billionaires have been attempting to subvert democracy and buy public policy by undermining public education in Massachusetts. He’s still doing it, too, it appears. Here is a Link to his blog.

Ravitch writes:

“He was relentless in investigating the money behind the [pro-charter 2016 Massachusetts] campaign. He focused on one issue: Follow the money. The No on 2 alliance was easy. It came from teachers, their unions, and small individual contributions.

“The Yes on 2 funding, however, was mysterious and opaque. Cunningham shone a bright light on that funding. He was fascinated with Dark Money, and he often reminded readers that “money never sleeps.” He referred to the Corporate Disrupters as the Financial Privatization Cabal.”

For example, he discovered that the handful of people who paid for the vast majority of the extremely expensive pro-charter campaign were all extremely hedge fund managers: just 14 people versus an overwhelming majority who wanted to NOT open up every single district to charter schools.

Excellent work! We need more like him in every region! (And yes, I need to get busy again also.)

Published in: on February 11, 2020 at 12:05 pm  Comments (1)  

MLK was not always popular!

Let us recall that Martin Luther King was not always the nearly-sainted public figure he is today. The FBI bugged his phones because that agency concentrated on combatting what it saw as subversion by left-wing and civil rights groups (and ignored organized crime until forced to by the Kennedy brothers, if The Irishman is correct).

When King spoke against the American war in Vietnam and against segregation and discrimination in Northern states, he drew a lot of sharp attacks, even from the NYT, as Zaid Jilani writes at The Intercept:

‘The New York Times editorial board lambasted King for linking the war in Vietnam to the struggles of civil rights and poverty alleviation in the United States, saying it was “too facile a connection” and that he was doing a “disservice” to both causes. It concluded that there “are no simple answers to the war in Vietnam or to racial injustice in this country.” The Washington Post editorial board said King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country and his people.” A political cartoon in the Kansas City Star depicted the civil rights movement as a young black girl crying and begging for her drunk father King, who is consuming the contents of a bottle labeled “Anti-Vietnam.”

‘In all, 168 newspapers denounced him the next day. Johnson ended his formal relationship with King. “What is that goddamned nigger preacher doing to me?” Johnson reportedly remarked after the Riverside speech. “We gave him the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we gave him the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we gave him the war on poverty. What more does he want?”

‘The African-American establishment, fearful of Johnson’s reaction, also distanced itself from King.

‘The NAACP under the leadership of Roy Wilkins refused to oppose the war and explicitly condemned the effort to link the peace and civil rights movements. Whitney Young, the leader of the National Urban League, warned that “Johnson needs a consensus. If we are not with him on Vietnam, then he is not going to be with us on civil rights.” Jackie Robinson, the celebrated African-American baseball player and civil rights advocate, wrote to Johnson two weeks after King’s speech to distance himself from the civil rights leader: “While I am certain your faith has been shaken by demonstrations against the Viet Nam war, I hope the actions of any one individual does not make you feel as Vice President Humphrey does, that Dr. King’s stand will hurt the civil rights movement. It would not be fair to the thousands of our Negro fighting men who are giving their lives because they believe, in most instances, that our Viet Nam stand is just.” Many donors to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference wrote to King announcing they were pulling their support.

(I remember having arguments with some of my elementary, JHS, and even HS classmates who held sentiments like these, way back when…

Published in: on January 19, 2020 at 11:51 am  Comments (1)  

Scary Right-Wing Neo-Nazis Making Threats

Here is an article about some of the death threats being made by far-right gun nuts against people who oppose them, such as the single Democratic representative in the VA State House who owns up to belonging to the very-mild Democratic Socialists of America.  (I didn’t even know there was one!) He’s worried, because the gun nuts are lying that he wants to take away all their guns, which he doesn’t.

He is in favor of some gun laws, but has his reservation about the ‘red flag’ laws, as he explains here:

“Chief among [the] concerns [of this Socialist representative] is red flag laws, which allow police, relatives, or some other third parties to request that a court remove a person’s guns temporarily, and often, those judicial hearings are held “ex parte,” meaning the defendant doesn’t have to be there. Carter says that he monitors online forums where members of the extreme right converse (“because they regularly discuss killing me, so I kind of have to,” he says), and has seen them say that they would file false red flag orders against people they’d like to attack. Whether those efforts would be successful, or even possible, depends on how the particular red flag law is written.
Full link: https://dcist.com/story/20/01/16/death-threats-will-force-virginia-lawmaker-to-a-safe-house-during-pro-gun-rally/?fbclid=IwAR3_KLk7jHFa__APkdfcUs4kVR66DFXnAEVCoWyuko2smqjwcT0sFXL6GOo
From Wikipedia:

Lee Jin Carter (born June 2, 1987) is an American politician who has represented the 50th district in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2018. He defeated Jackson Miller, the Republican House Majority Whip, to win the seat. Born in North Carolina, Carter is a member of the Democratic Party, an IT specialist, and a former Marine. Carter serves on the Finance Committee and the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. He was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), of which he is a member.

As a U.S. Marine, Carter served in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. His unit was also one of the first to respond to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti.[1]

Published in: on January 18, 2020 at 9:09 pm  Comments (1)  
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