Browsing the archives for the Obama Administration category.

In the Land of the Free

Obama Administration

A gunman killed at least thirteen people at a community college in Oregon today. So far we don’t know anything about the shooter.

What we do know: This afternoon the White House expressed frustration that nothing ever gets done about gun control. Naturally, the Federalist screamed that the White House had “politicized” the shootings. Because, you know, guns are not a political issue otherwise. And we’re not supposed to talk about gun control after a mass shooting, which happens frequently enough to keep us all permanently mute.

In another Adventure in Freedom, a woman who went public with her abortion story was forced into hiding after her address was published on line and the death threats began to pour in. Nothing says freedom like being able to terrorize people you don’t like into shutting up, I guess.

Update: Oh, please … already the rumors are starting that the shooter asked people if they were Christian, and shot them in the head when they said yes. This is based on a news report that the shooter asked people to state their religion, but the news report says he was shooting people randomly. In web forums this is turning into an account of people being shot in the head if they said they were Christian. Shades of Cassie Bernall, the so called “she said yes” martyr from Columbine, who actually didn’t say yes at all. That was something someone imagined.

By tomorrow the Christianists on Fox News will be absolutely wallowing in martyrdom, just in time for the “war on Christmas” season.


His Holiness the Troll

Obama Administration

Pope Francis spoke to the House today, and he spoke of caring for the poor, taking care of the earth, and abolishing the death penalty. It was a lovely speech, made better by invoking American icons like Lincoln and MLK. Here is the conclusion:

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

Who could argue with that? Do you have to ask? Conservatives are having a fit.

Steven “Cantaloupe Calves” King must be disappointed.  This is what he said a couple of days ago:

Conservative Rep. Steve King (R-IA) this week urged Pope Francis to steer away from the “politics” of climate change and income inequality during his Thursday address to Congress, and instead focus on issues King deems more appropriate for the Catholic church: abortion and marriage.

So, climate change and income inequality are “politics” but reproductive rights and marriage equality are not “politics.” I’m glad he cleared that up.

Today he said,

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said Pope Francis’ call to welcome immigrants to the country with open arms in his address to Congress on Thursday shows the Catholic leader doesn’t understand the necessity of national borders or the idea of nation states.

Because it’s more polite to suggest His Holiness is a simpleton rather than mistaken.

His Holiness avoided abortion except to mention “our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,” at which point, Charles Pierce says, “the zygote-fondling caucus went wild.” But when Pope Francis immediately pivoted abolishing the death penalty, “You could feel the air go out of the congresscritters who’d leaped to their feet. Both of Trey Gowdy’s faces fell.”

Ted Cruz actually said that he’s against abolishing the death penalty, because “the death penalty is a recognition of the preciousness of human life.” Seriously, he said that.

I wasn’t watching, but this news story says Republicans gave the speech muted applause, while the Dems gave it a standing ovation.  Bernie Sanders was thrilled the Pope mentioned Dorothy Day, btw. On the whole it was rather a lefty speech, which is to say it was humane and compassionate and dealt with real-world life.

The Breitbrats are annoyed with His Holiness for suggesting that the purpose of a legislature is to take care of the common good.

The Pope continued that Congressional authority sprang from the need to pursue the “common good,” adding, “legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.”

In Constitutional terms, this is plainly untrue. Legislative authority does not spring from care for the people, but from the consent of the people and non-violation of their rights.

The part about “called and convened by those who elected you” seems to have escaped the Breitbrat who wrote this, who went on to say that what the Pope suggests would lead to tyranny. Heaven forbid that We, the People should expect our legislators to be concerned with the general welfare of We, the People.

See also “Angry Conservatives Insist Pope Francis Is a Fake Christian” by David Horsey.


The Best Thing I’ve Read So Far on the Recent GOP Debates.

Obama Administration



Carly Fiorina Is the New Dick Cheney

Obama Administration

From the fallout of the “debate” last night, I take it Republicans are impressed with Carly Fiorina’s performance. Never mind that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.


… much of what Fiorina says is either untrue or incoherent, which her polished style of rapid-fire answers containing long lists of memorized specifics obscures. She is a master at what we used to call “dazzling them with BS.” She claims to have a well thought out plan for everything from dealing with the Ayatollah (only after conferring with her “good friend” Bibi Netanyahu) — by calling him up and demanding that he allows Americans to inspect his nuclear facilities anytime we choose or we’ll start “moving his money around the financial system” — to enlarging the sixth fleet and putting missile defense into Poland. The first bit of magical thinking is so common among the Republican candidates that it’s not worth commenting upon except to say that the presidency would be a part time job if it was that easy. As for her military “prescriptions,” let’s just say they are vacuous nonsense. Here’s what she said she would do about Russia

“What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message. By the way, the reason it is so critically important that every one of us know General Suleimani’s name is because Russia is in Syria right now, because the head of the Quds force traveled to Russia and talked Vladimir Putin into aligning themselves with Iran and Syria to prop up Bashar al- Assad.”

That sounds very impressive, except, as Ezra Klein pointed out, the nuclear armed Sixth Fleet is gigantic already, the U.S. is already conducting military exercises in the Baltics and we already have 40,000 troops in Germany. Oh, and Vladimir Putin, General Suleimani and Bashar al-Assad will have been dead for decades, if not centuries, by the time a missile shield is installed in Poland.

But she lies with total conviction and authority. Charles Pierce:

She was steely-eyed in her prevarication. She was relentless in her determination to launch pure crapola into the stratosphere. She smiled rarely. She glowered effectively. The woman stares daggers better than anyone I’ve ever seen. And, on many occasions, she lied her ass off with a formidable brand of armored certitude. If you eliminate “telling the truth” from the assessment, Carly Fiorina was every bit the winner she is universally acclaimed to be this morning.

It’s the Dick Cheney thing — exude enough gravitas, and people will take you seriously even if you are spouting nonsense.

The most egregious lie was about Planned Parenthood, which was so bizarre I don’t even want to repeat it. Just see Sarah Kliff. See also Carly Fiorina won the GOP debate, but fact checkers will have a field day.

As for her alleged skill as a businesswoman: Not only did she run Hewlett-Packard into the ground; she’s apparently responsible for the demise of Lucent. See Carly Fiorina’s troubling telecom past.



Obama Administration

The usual whackjobs want to attempt another government shutdown over funding Planned Parenthood.

Kim Davis goes back to work tomorrow. I’m saying she’ll go back to denying marriage licenses. She’s having way too much fun to stop.



Stuff to Read

Obama Administration

More articles on charter schools and what a rip-off they are.

Jeb’s charter school calamity: How the former Florida governor forged an industry of chaos and corruption

Take that, charter schools: Why a Washington court decision will force accountability to a movement that needs it badly

The more I learn about this stuff, the more I’m persuaded charter schools are a five-alarm scam.

Also: Read about how Republicans are doing everything they can to eliminate verifiable facts and data from policy decisions.

Also: The more I read about Jeremy Corbyn, the better I like him.


A Setback for the School Reform Grifters

Obama Administration

For one reason or another the U.S. public school system has been under constant attack since Brown v. Board of Education (1954), and the American people have been well primed to believe that public schools are cesspools of ignorance and depravity. Except for the schools their own kids go to, of course. It’s all those other schools that are rotten.

The first taxpayer-supported charter schools were set up after Brown so that taxpayer dollars could follow white children into what amounted to private all-white academies. But what started out as a reaction to desegregation soon turned into Opportunity! in the form of the charter school scam.

As conservatives continued to gripe about those awful public schools, charter schools were marketed as a way to empower parents to make better public schools. And on paper, it sounds like a grand idea. However, it’s also turned into a way to siphon taxpayer dollars into a for-profit education industry. Even officially non-profit charter schools turn to for-profit companies to manage them sometimes. See “Education for Profit: The Darker Side of Charter Schools.”

And what’s happening out in Real World Land is that many of these charters have become less accountable to parents and the communities than traditional public schools used to be. The charter school activists saw Hurricane Katrina as an opportunity to force New Orleans to accept a mostly charter school system. And today residents complain the New Orleans system is more like colonialism than reform. With no elected school board, schools are answerable only to the state chartering bureaucracy, not to communities and parents.

Having an elected school board created ways for the public to participate. When Katrina hit, I was serving on the search committee for a new superintendent. For years I served on the disciplinary review committee. It was much different from the dictatorial charter school environment.

The charters purport to give parents and teachers greater power, right? But you have little real voice. In the charter school world they say, “We don’t even want a PTA in our school, but we’ll survey our parents about satisfaction.” Well, goddamn it, we’re not consumers!

Now the grifters have hit a glitch. Last week, the Washington state Supreme Court decided that privately operated charter schools do not qualify as public institutions and do not qualify to receive tax support.

In the lead opinion, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen said the case wasn’t about the merits of charter schools, simply whether they were eligible for public funds. Citing state Supreme Court precedent from 1909, she said they are not eligible because they are not under the control of local voters. Washington charters are run by private nonprofit organizations that appoint their own boards. Most, including Tacoma’s charters, are also under the oversight of the appointed Washington State Charter School Commission.

(On Diane Ravitch’s invaluable blog, Peter Greene has a simple solution for the charter-school panjandrums – submit to the authority of an elected local school board. Yeah, that’ll happen.)

Because it happened on Friday of a holiday weekend in which Donald Trump is still running for president, this was a huge story that got buried in the news cycle, but it remains a signifying decision in the fight against the school “reformers.” This latest attempt was the result of the fourth statewide referendum on charter schools. This latest one squeaked through in 2012 because the pro-charter side brought in all the pros from Dover – Gates, the inexcusable Jeff Bezos, Ms. Rhee and her consort, Kevin Johnson. There is now great scrambling among the masters of the universe because public accountability and democratic institutions can be so damned…inconvenient. (Not that they’re done. There are higher courts.) Public education should be conducted in public schools. Period. Good on the Washington Supremes for reinforcing this simple truth.

Regarding quality of education, if you google for information you can find articles extolling the virtues of charter schools, and others complaining they’re teaching kids that cave men rode dinosaurs. (Forbes magazine loves them, which ought to make us suspicious right there.) The rules and regulations governing charters as well as how performances are measured vary from state to state, so it’s hard to make any general claims. But there are news stories telling us that in some states and school systems — Ohio, Chicago, and Arizona, for example — the charter schools are lagging behind public schools. See also Separating fact from fiction in 21 claims about charter schools.

Weirdly, both supporters and detractors of charter schools pull data from the same study to support their positions, so here is the study. It takes a while to load, and I haven’t had time to look at it in detail, but it appears to say that charter school performance can be better than public schools in some ways but are worse in others.


House Republicans Are, Um, Confused

Obama Administration

As I understand it: House GOP leadership had scheduled a procedural vote today to begin debate on the Iran deal. The whackjob fringe scuttled the vote.

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are demanding that the Obama administration send side deals between Iran and international nuclear inspectors to Congress as part of the Iran deal now under consideration. Opponents of the deal have argued that the clock on congressional consideration of the deal has not even begun until these side deals are submitted.

Under legislation approved earlier this year, Congress has 60 days to review the deal before the White House can begin lifting sanctions on Tehran, as required under the nuclear deal.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) has offered a resolution that would prevent a vote on the Iran deal until all of the documents of the international agreement — including the deals between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are provided to Congress for review.

The 60 days are up on September 17. Also, there are enough Democrats committed to supporting the deal (42) that they could stop the delaying measure from being voted on in the Senate.

Ted Cruz is in on this:

Cruz explained:

“Those side deals have not been submitted to Congress. Under the terms of Corker-Cardin, the review period has not started, and does not start until the entire deal is submitted to Congress and the president cannot lift these sanctions until the review period expires.”

I’m not sure if they think they ought to get a say in whatever deals Iran makes with the IAEA, or what.  It’s pretty certain that after September 17, the President’s hands are untied and the deal will be made.

On the plus side, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-WTF?) has vowed to quit Congress if the Iran deal goes through. Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out, Louie.


Labor Day Reads

Obama Administration

Ed Kilgore has some Labor Day posts up that deserve reading. Among other things, the last Union coal mine in Kentucky just shut down. See especially An Exceptional Hostility to Labor.


This Is No Time to Play Defense

Obama Administration

The third Republican presidential nomination debate is coming up in about ten days. It is one of 16 debates the GOP has scheduled, down from 20 last time.

How many Dem debates have been scheduled? Four. Maybe two more. The first one won’t be until October.

The story is that DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has decided to limit the debates to protect Hillary Clinton. I think this is a mistake for the Dems, and even a mistake for Hillary Clinton. She’s being portrayed as a criminal bitch queen in news media; she needs to get herself out in front of the public as often as possible so that people can see she doesn’t really have horns and a forked tail. She can be a compelling campaigner when she tries; we saw that in 2008.

Meanwhile, most of the public knows nothing about Bernie Sanders except (according to news media) that he’s some kind of crazy radical socialist and/or the left-wing equivalent of Donald Trump. And Matin O’Malley who?

This is no time to play defense. Yes, the Right is stepping all over itself putting on a clown show, but as far as most of the public is concerned the Republicans are the only candidates who actually appear to be running.  I think America needs to see the Dem field, direct and unfiltered, to be reassured they aren’t crazy, too. And they need to see it a lot.

I honestly think the Dem debates will go a long way toward making the Republicans look even crazier and showing America what serious candidates look like, before they forget. And this needs to happen sooner rather than later, so that the Dems don’t find themselves playing catch up in 2016.

How much of the Wasserman Schultz strategy is at Hillary Clinton’s request? I don’t know, of course, but it seems Clinton is playing a defensive strategy rather than trying to take on her rivals directly. We read in the New York Times that she’s trying to build up a “firewall” in the southern states in hopes of locking up the nomination in March.

In interviews, advisers said the campaign was increasingly devoting staff members and money to win the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27 while laying the groundwork to sweep Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia on March 1. Those Super Tuesday states are highlighted in red on maps in the offices of Mrs. Clinton’s senior aides in Brooklyn.

The eight primaries will deliver several hundred delegates for Mrs. Clinton, advisers believe, toward the goal of more than 2,200 needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. The campaign is barraging superdelegates in the South with requests for support — sometimes even jumping the gun by sending pledge forms prematurely — in hopes of adding scores of these party leaders who can bring their votes to the Clinton column at the Democratic National Convention.

The Southern firewall also includes Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina, which vote through mid-March. If Mrs. Clinton wins big in the Michigan and Ohio primaries that month, her advisers and supporters believe, the nomination will essentially be hers (though crossing the total delegate threshold takes time).

She’s hoping that minority voters will give her the votes in the South, and maybe they will. But how smart is it to base your nomination strategy on picking up delegates in states you have little hope of winning in the general election?

I agree with David Atkins:

This strategy may or may not be successful in the long run, but it’s terrible politics. Losing support among young progressive activists, white liberals and first-timers to politics, Clinton’s strategy isn’t to aggressively fight to win back the hearts and souls of those voters, but rather to build a firewall around her support among minority voters in the South.

First, there’s no guarantee that strategy will work. Contrary to the claims of some observers, Sanders’ low level of support among minority voters has far more to do with name recognition than with actual policy concerns or inside-the-tent scuffles with Black Lives Matter protesters. Nor is it possible to fully predict what might happen if Joe Biden were to enter the race. If Sanders or Biden do, shockingly, win in Iowa and New Hampshire, that event combined with a series of debates would almost certainly make an impact on minority Southern voters as well.

Second, it would have a crushing effect on Democratic activist enthusiasm. Barack Obama’s support among minority base voters was obviously a net benefit for the Party, but the Obama moment was driven equally much by the passionate activism of young people, liberal activists and political neophytes. If Clinton holds onto a win in spite of opposition from these groups, it will leave her in a weakened state and have depressive effects on Democratic turnout for every race down the ballot.

It would also have a depressive effect on the Democratic Party in the future, I believe. Instead of playing defense, she needs to be trying to win the votes of  young people, liberal activists and political neophytes, or at least some of  ‘em, and she’d better hurry up about it.

It might help to sign the petition. Can’t hurt.

« Older Posts

    About this blog

    About Maha
    Comment Policy

    Vintage Mahablog
    Email Me

    Support This Site

    eXTReMe Tracker

      Technorati Profile