Monday, February 22, 2016

Dg Rocks  (Campaign DisFinance)  Race to the Top/No Child Left Behind Slam on Our Children?  (Scalia Devoted to Destroying Democracy)  Wanted:  Precisely Polished President  (Dead Alert!)

Honestly, it's getting almost too tough for me to write anything new these days because just as soon as I begin, some wittymetaphorism from Master  Driftglass floats out of my pen and plants itself on my blank page and refuses to stir. And it's Pulitzer level panic attacks every time. Dg's just about said it all while providing today's sterling real-time commentary on the U.S. WWE preliminary bouts providing the prelude to electing a newly polished president (and the absolute necessity of electing a new Congress - hopefully with this one having more than one or two actually qualified Republicans).

He leaves me planate, placoid, tabular with respect and only able to quote other very good sources:

Who's Paying For These Filthy Campaigns?

If you obsessively follow the money trail in politics and the Open Secrets 2016 presidential race page is a regular stop, you noticed that in the last week, Hillary displaced Jeb as the top fundraiser of the cycle. She and her SuperPACs are now at $163,672,986 - surpassing his $150,284,096. Interestingly, she raised just under $15 million in January - to Bernie's $21 million. Her Priorities USA superPAC brought in another $9.6 million, $3 million of it from one hedge fund billionaire, James Simons, a major Chuck Schumer/Steve Israel financier. Millions more came from Chicago criminals  from the Pritzker family and from the founder of Slim-Fast, Daniel Abraham.

Now that Jeb's dropped out, the top-financed Republicano is Ted Cruz. He's taken in just over $89.6 million. GOP Establishment darling, Marco Rubio, has taken in $61.5 million. (And for those counting, Bernie is at $75.1 million.) The latest FEC reporting deadline, for January, was last night. Herr Trumpf lent his campaign another $5 million in January, bringing his total investment in buying the White House to something under $18 million. (Before last night's report, Herr Trumpf's total intake was $21,299,726 and he had self-funded $12,838,864 of that.)

Presaging the demise of the Jeb campaign was just $379,000 for January that Right to Rise, his inept SuperPAC, took in ($250,000 of which came from Michigan neo-fasscist money-bags Richard DeVos - who gave an equal amount to Rubio on the same day). $379,000 in and $34.5 million spent the same month. What's wrong with that picture? ($7 million was for "operating expenses" so we know that at least some rich consultants got even richer giving Jeb terrible and fatal advise.)

The anti-Trumpf SuperPACs don't count as money for Cruz or Rubio or Hillary, even if that money is ultimately benefitting those candidates. Liz Mair hasn't been able to raise anything for her ineffective Make America Awesome SuperPAC - just $1,711 in December and $8,640 in January, but the Romney staffers that run the Our Principles SuperPAC have fared much better.

Maggie Haberman reporting for the "NY Times" this morning, exposed the big financier of the anti-Trumpf advertising barrage, Marlene Ricketts, the wife of Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts. A family spokesperson told "The Times" that "Marlene Ricketts shares the disappointment of many Trump supporters who believe that our leaders in Washington have failed us, and also believes our next president must be a principled leader. In her view, Donald Trump has not been a consistent conservative and therefore would be unpredictable as our party leader."

Will the wrecking of the public schools continue?

Feel the learn by feeling the Bern?

Corporate Reformers Wreck Public Schools:  Billionaire Foundations and Wall Street Financiers Are Not Out to Help Your Kids Learn

When Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in November 2008, I was grinding my way through the eighth grade, my final year at John F. Kennedy Middle School before I was to move up to high school. While I followed the election closely, the candidates’ positions on education policy weren’t of much interest to me. And at the time, I didn’t give any thought to how my school experience could be different.

Among many progressives and liberals, there were flickers of hope that Obama’s election signaled the prospect that his presidency would lead to the reversal of the "No Child Left Behind Act" and Bush-era policies. It sure seemed that way once he named Stanford professor and NCLB critic Linda Darling-Hammond to head his transition’s education policy team.

But then in December 2008, any remaining optimism suddenly vanished. The president-elect appointed the CEO of Chicago Public Schools and his friend (and basketball pal) Arne Duncan to the post of Secretary of Education. A report by the Broad Foundation, a group that has financed anti–public education reforms, noted that Obama’s election and the appointment of Duncan “marked the pinnacle of hope for our work in education reform. In many ways, we feel the stars have finally aligned.”

As head of Chicago schools, Duncan shook up the system — in a disturbing manner. He bounced kids around from school to school to make it appear as though schools were “turning around.” He did not confront the effect of poverty on learning in a city system where 80 percent of schoolchildren live below the poverty line. He dumbed down standards, misleading the public when he pronounced that test scores had improved. He shuttered “failing” schools, replacing neighborhood schools with charters, often financed and run by fat cats and corporations. This is the man Obama put his faith in to run the Department of Education of the most powerful nation in the world.

The Obama-Duncan duo began their campaign on public education by surreptitiously slipping the Race to the Top program into the stimulus package. Few were aware of the magnitude of this initiative. "Race to the Top" is a $4.35 billion sweepstakes contest that dangled dollar bills before states that adopted Duncan-backed policies. As with all races, there were many more losers than winners. Obama and Duncan were well aware that states were bleeding red ink, teachers were being laid off left and right, and school budgets were being slashed. States would have little choice but to comply.

In distilled terms, "Race to the Top" is "No Child Left Behind" on steroids. Obama’s education policies have had a broader and more harmful effect on schools than Bush’s policies.

In order to qualify for money, states had to agree to tie teacher evaluations to standardized test scores, implement the "Common Core" standards, institute charter-school-friendly policies, and expand performance-based pay for teachers. Eleven states and the District of Columbia netted a piece of the "Race to the Top" money in the first two rounds and another seven states in the third round. Even though many states didn’t win a dime, they nevertheless had aligned themselves with Duncan’s policies just to compete.

Educators, many of whom had campaigned for the president in 2008, have been utterly alienated by his administration’s strategy of bashing and firing teachers. Here’s one episode that demonstrates this precisely:  In 2010, when the school board of Central Falls, one of Rhode Island’s lowest-achieving and poorest school districts, voted to fire the entire high school’s teaching and support staff, President Obama and Secretary Duncan rhapsodized about the board’s decision.

The secretary declared the board was “showing courage and doing the right thing for kids.” He, of all people, should know better. As noted, Duncan’s policies in Chicago of closing schools instead of fixing them, blaming teachers instead of honoring and supporting them, had all failed to get the desired improvements. A study by researchers at the University of Chicago found that Duncan’s school “turnaround” policies only worsened the situation, turning the schools around in the wrong direction.

And from "The New Yorker:"

Antonin Scalia, who died this month, after nearly three decades on the Supreme Court, devoted his professional life to making the United States a less fair, less tolerant, and less admirable democracy. Fortunately, he mostly failed. Belligerent with his colleagues, dismissive of his critics, nostalgic for a world where outsiders knew their place and stayed there, Scalia represents a perfect model for everything that President Obama should avoid in a successor.

The great Justices of the Supreme Court have always looked forward; their words both anticipated and helped shape the nation that the United States was becoming. Chief Justice John Marshall read the new Constitution to allow for a vibrant and progressive federal government. Louis Brandeis understood the need for that government to regulate an industrializing economy. Earl Warren saw that segregation was poison in the modern world. Scalia, in contrast, looked backward.

His revulsion toward homosexuality, a touchstone of his world view, appeared straight out of his sheltered, nineteen-forties boyhood. When, in 2003, the Court ruled that gay people could no longer be thrown in prison for having consensual sex, Scalia dissented . . . .
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

So far ahead of their time.

Thanks, Paul and Joey.

And, Jerry, did you hear Dead and Company are touring this summer? (Yes, John Mayer too. Surprise! Surprise!)

Live long in our memory, sweet princes!

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