Surely You Read It

I am on a little vacation in Portland with the Frustrated Son visiting the Frustrated Mother and her new Frustrated Boyfriend!  It's very nice for mom to have someone she feels good with, and the boyfriend is very lucky--and he knows it!  Good for both of them.

I read the Nick Anderson piece in the WaPo about Arne Duncan's failure in Chicago.  Did you?  Maybe you should!

Basically, while CEO of Chicago public schools Arne did not perform miracles.  In fact he may have done damage of the sort he is doing now.  Get critical citizens, media!

The Re-Segregation Is Almost Complete; Viva Revolution!!

Jim Horn over at Schools Matter is concerned about the re-segregation the charter movement (and by extension, due to the inability of the press to report anything real, the great, unwashed masses and our elected officials) seems to embrace.  We They are sowing the seeds of revolution--a revolution that they will be on the losing end of; the Have-nots have more people now than ever.
This new corporate system of penal pedagogy, enabled by spineless and corrupt pols who don't [give] a shit about the poor, or the children of the poor, represents the squalid end of the path of least resistance for a society blinded by greed, the culmination of a generational malignant neglect of the principles of justice and social justice, thus assuring the acquiescence to a policy of segregation, containment, and constant surveillance that is worse than segregation during Jim Crow. At least then the black teachers in the apartheid schools were professionals who had the children's best interest in mind, rather than the de-certified ragtime corps of white female corporate missionaries intent upon a few years of do-gooderism before law school or breeding.

Unless this corporatization of American urban education is turned back by a society that now seems intent upon ignoring it, we will have successfully planted the certain seeds of violent revolution, or worse, the kind of terrorism that, heretofore, we have had to look abroad to war against. Any economic system that, in the end, must feed upon its own children to survive, is doomed, as it should be. Just as any political system that enables such atrocities to occur surely deserves the same end.


Heck Of A Job...

JibJab 2009

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Cutting Off Noses To Spite Faces

Sent to the Pioneer Press (Twin Cities, MN)

One of the strategies Carver Elementary is using to increase its unsatisfactory test scores ("A school on the edge," Dec. 28) is "vocabulary study." Research consistently shows that by far the best way to boost vocabulary is through wide, self-selected reading. Picking up words by reading is faster than word study and gives children more complete knowledge of words. Wide reading, in fact, has a positive influence on nearly every subject taught in school.

Wide self-selected reading requires access to lots of books. For many children, especially children of poverty (38% of the Carver student population receives free or reduced price lunch), the school library is the major source of reading material. Study after study confirms that school library quality and the presence of a credentialed librarian are positively related to growth in literacy.

Carver Elementary is in a district that let all their elementary school librarians go four years ago. Now one middle school librarian is also responsible for three elementary schools. Firing the librarian and then instituting vocabulary study is like stealing all your money and then giving you a bus token to get home with.

Tori Jensen
President Elect, Minnesota Educational Media Organization

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California

Original article at: http://www.twincities.com/ci_14070492?source=email
And then there's this from Berkeley, CA:
Berkeley High School is considering eliminating science labs and the five science teachers who teach them because science labs were largely classes for white students.
America: land of the free (from thought) and home of the brave (or blind).


Robert Reich Blames Wall Street; Still

2009: The Year Wall Street Bounced Back and Main Street Got Shafted

In less than a year, Wall Street was back. The five largest remaining banks are today larger, their executives and traders richer, their strategies of placing large bets with other people's money no less bold than before the meltdown. The possibility of new regulations emanating from Congress has barely inhibited the Street's exuberance.
Go read it. We are screwed.


Hendrik Hertzberg: Militant Atheist?

Hendrik Hertzberg gets emails. He responds to them, too. Here is a bit of a response to an email Rick got about his post about the CHRIST-mas tree:
...But to get back to today, i.e., Christmas. And the cross. What I am objecting to in the Jesus story is something I object to in certain other religious traditions: human sacrifice. Indeed, the human sacrifice of the crucifixion seems to me to be more objectionable, conceptually at least, than the human sacrifices practiced by, say, the Aztecs (or, for that matter, by tribal Hebrews like Abraham). The Aztecs were people trying to propitiate angry, nasty, bloodthirsty gods. (Abraham, by being willing to cut Isaac’s throat, was doing the same for testy old Yahweh.) But who sacrifices Jesus? Not the Romans—they were just enforcing the law as they saw it. Not the Jews—when they made sacrifices, post-Abraham, they offered up goats and lambs and the like. No, in the story of Jesus, the sacrificer seems to be God himself. He kills his “only begotten” son. And why? In order to propitiate himself, apparently. Somehow, by killing his own son, he causes himself to refrain from condemning or killing everybody else. Well, not everybody else—just those who show the proper appreciation and gratitude for his sacrifice.

But is it really a sacrifice? Doesn’t Jesus turn up rather quickly at the right hand of God? Isn’t he said to be part of God, in some special way that the rest of us are not? He (Jesus) goes through the experience of dying, as every human being must do, but he doesn’t end up dead. So how great is the sacrifice, really? And what is the connection between the sacrifice (the crown of thorns, death on the cross) and the benefit it purchases for believers (the crown of righteousness, eternal life)? If God wants to forgive us our sins, can’t he just forgive us our sins? Does he have to torture and murder his own son first—and then take it back by resurrecting the son and making him an object of worship for millions? For the sacrifice to be real, wouldn’t Jesus have to stay dead? The resurrection is a powerful story, but (if you analyze it logically) doesn’t it make the crucifixion a bit of a sham?..[emphasis mine]

James Gurley Of Big Brother And The Holding Company: R.I.P.

James Gurley was Janice Joplin's guitarist. His sound is one of the most recognizable of the psychedelic era. He died Sunday in Palm Springs at 69.


Christmastime For The Jews

Do You Know These Kids VI? Updated

Mick Jagger

John Lennon

One of these guys was born in 1943, the other in 1940. One is alive, the other is not. They are both British.

Update: Barry Garelick, who works for the government, got the answer to both: Mick Jagger and John Lennon. I know Salt of the Earth starts out with Keith's vocals, but it's such a great song I used it for Mick.

Well done, Barry. Keep those edureformers honest!

Do You Know This Kid V? Updated (Already)

Jerry Garcia

Here is your Christmas present. Do you know this kid? He was born in 1942. He is dead.

Update: My friend Althea got this one, as I figured.  Jerry Garcia

Thursday Cartoon Fun: A Puppy Edition


Tangled Up In Blue JGB Style

For all my friends, especially Althea,  or Sugaree or Jessica: (edited for no reason)

Yong Zhao On Race To The Top

Over the Top
Six Tips for Winning 'Race to the Top' Money
By Yong Zhao

I have been reading through the voluminous document published in the Nov. 18, 2009, Federal RegisterRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader, giving the final versions of application guidelines, selection criteria, and priorities for $4 billion in competitive grants under the Race to the Top Fund, the largest education grant program in U.S. history.

From news reports, op-ed pieces, and blog posts, I can guess that many states are working hard now to prepare their applications. My reading of the criteria leads me to suggest that the following are winning strategies and actions to include, even though they may be inconsistent with research findings or common sense.

1. Stop paying teachers and principals a salary. Instead, pay them on a per-standardized-test-point basis each day. At the end of the school day, simply give each student a standardized test. Then calculate what the teacher and principal will be paid that day based on the growth of the student, that is, on how much the student has improved over the previous day.

This is true accountability and is sure to keep teachers and principals on their toes. (It also seems to be the true intention behind this requirement: “At the time the State submits its application, the State does not have any legal, statutory, or regulatory barriers at the State level to linking data on student achievement or student growth to teachers and principals for the purpose of teacher and principal evaluation.”)

But to do it, you must not ask the question of whether this accountability will lead to better teaching. You also will need to ignore the fact that “accountability” has driven many teachers out of the schools, and to forget about attracting highly qualified talent to the teaching profession.

2. Remove all “non-core” academic activities and courses and reduce all teaching to math and reading. What the U.S. secretary of education wants is “increasing student achievement in (at a minimum) reading/language arts and mathematics, as reported by the [National Assessment of Educational Progress] and the assessments required under the [Elementary and Secondary Education Act]” and “decreasing achievement gaps between subgroups in reading/language arts and mathematics, as reported by the NAEP and the assessments required under the ESEA.” Actually, no need to teach students these subjects; just teaching them how to pass the tests may be even more effective.

But to do so, you have to forget the reasons for education in the first place, ignore all research findings about the negative consequences of high-stakes testing, and suppress any desire to care about the students’ emotional well-being, to cultivate their creativity and entrepreneurship, or to consider their interests and strengths.

3. Make sure every child takes courses in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the more the merrier. This is because, as the guidelines state, “Emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)” is a “Competitive Preference Priority,” worth 15 points, and you either get 15 points or nothing.

But this requires you to ignore research findings such as those from Lindsay Lowell and Hal SalzmanRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader, showing that “over the past decade, U.S. colleges and universities graduated roughly three times more scientists and engineers than were employed in the growing science and engineering workforce,” and that “there is no evidence of a long-term decline in the proportion of American students with the relevant training and qualifications to pursue STEM jobs.” You also must not think about what children will really need to be successful in the 21st-century global economy, such as cross-cultural competencies, foreign languages, and digital capabilities.

4. This suggestion is only for the states of Alaska and Texas, because the others have already committed themselves to doing it: Develop and adopt “a common set of K-12 standards … that are supported by evidence that they are internationally benchmarked and build toward college and career readiness by the time of high school graduation.” The other 48 states have signed on to the Common Core State Standards Initiative spearheaded by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. So I guess the initiative counts, even though it covers only two subjects.

Well, there may be a small problem: how to prove that the standards are internationally benchmarked. Did the authors benchmark against national standards in Canada, our closest neighbor, or Australia, a large federation of states like the United States? Of course not, because these countries do not have national standards. Or perhaps they benchmarked against China, since it is our perceived competitor. Probably not, because China has been reforming its curriculum over the past two decades and loosening its national control on curriculum. Or perhaps it is against the Program for International Student Assessment or the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study—yet these are tests, not curriculum standards.

To wholeheartedly embrace this suggestion, states have to overlook the damages national standards can do to education, and not take into consideration the fact that having national standards neither improves education for students nor narrows achievement gaps.

5. Write in lots of money for testing companies and assessment consultants in the application, because you will be rewarded for “developing and implementing common, high-quality assessments.” In the spirit of this recommendation, I would also suggest that you promise to test the students more frequently, at least twice a day—once when they come to school and once when they leave—because this will help you collect more data to meet the data-systems requirement and hold teachers accountable.

Of course, what this means is that you cannot think about students’ individual differences, the need for diverse talents, or the costs of standardized tests. You cannot think about who will eventually benefit from the assessments either. And in no way should you worry about the corruption that high-stakes standardized testing brings with it.

6. Oh, and while you’re at it, include a proposal to bar all children under the age of 18 from entering museums, public libraries, and music events; lock up all musical instruments in schools, and fire all music, art, and physical education teachers; close sports facilities; disconnect all Internet connections; and cut down on lunch time, because the Race to the Top initiative wants to lengthen the school year and school day, and all these are distracting kids from studying for the tests. Of course, these actions will save money as well.

But that requires you to discard the notion that creativity, talent, and technology are important for the future. You must also not think that a healthy society needs musicians, artists, and athletes. Nor can you assume that a well-rounded human being is essential for a democracy. Of course, you should also deny the fact that creativity, art, design, and music play significant roles in the world of science and technology today.

But other than all that, your new federal funding should enable you to do great things.

Do You Know This Kid II? Updated And Answered

Since the last ones were easy, here is a really easy one.

Do you know this kid?

Tiny Tim

He is dead. He was famous. He was deeper than he let on or most knew.

Update: I guess this one is harder than I thought. He was born in 1932 and died in 1996. He used an alias. He appeared on television frequently. You know who it is!

Update II: Finally we get the correct answer. Tiny Tim!

Wednesday Cartoon Fun: Then And Now Edition

Yes He Did!


Obama Seeks Lowest Common Denominator

From Drew Westen at HuffPo:
...Somehow the president has managed to turn a base of new and progressive voters he himself energized like no one else could in 2008 into the likely stay-at-home voters of 2010, souring an entire generation of young people to the political process. It isn't hard for them to see that the winners seem to be the same no matter who the voters select (Wall Street, big oil, big Pharma, the insurance industry). In fact, the president's leadership style, combined with the Democratic Congress's penchant for making its sausage in public and producing new and usually more tasteless recipes every day, has had a very high toll far from the left: smack in the center of the political spectrum.

What's costing the president and courting danger for Democrats in 2010 isn't a question of left or right, because the president has accomplished the remarkable feat of both demoralizing the base and completely turning off voters in the center. If this were an ideological issue, that would not be the case. He would be holding either the middle or the left, not losing both.

What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting...
h/t DWT

Tuesday Cartoon Fun: Original Concept Edition

Nurses Say No To The Bill

I got this link in an email from a friend of a friend who is a nurse:

Nation’s Largest RN Organization Says Healthcare Bill Cedes Too Much to Insurance Industry
By National Nurses United

December 21, 2009

The 150,000 member National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union and professional organization of registered nurses in the U.S., today criticized the healthcare bill now advancing in the U.S. Senate saying it is deeply flawed and grants too much power to the giant insurers.

“It is tragic to see the promise from Washington this year for genuine, comprehensive reform ground down to a seriously flawed bill that could actually exacerbate the healthcare crisis and financial insecurity for American families, and that cedes far too much additional power to the tyranny of a callous insurance industry,” said NNU co-president Karen Higgins, RN.

NNU Co-president Deborah Burger, RN challenged arguments of legislation proponents that the bill should still be passed because of expanded coverage, new regulations on insurers, and the hope that it will be improved in the House-Senate conference committee or future years.

“Those wishful statements ignore the reality that much of the expanded coverage is based on forced purchase of private insurance without effective controls on industry pricing practices or real competition and gaping loopholes in the insurance reforms,” said Burger.

Further, said NNU Co-president Jean Ross, RN, “the bill seems more likely to be eroded, not improved, in future years due to the unchecked influence of the healthcare industry lobbyists and the lessons of this year in which all the compromises have been made to the right.”

“Sadly, we have ended up with legislation that fails to meet the test of true healthcare reform, guaranteeing high quality, cost effective care for all Americans, and instead are further locking into place a system that entrenches the chokehold of the profit-making insurance giants on our health. If this bill passes, the industry will become more powerful and could be beyond the reach of reform for generations,” Higgins said.

NNU cited ten significant problems in the legislation, noting many of the same flaws also exist in the House version and are likely to remain in the bill that emerges from the House-Senate reconciliation process:
  1. The individual mandate forcing all those without coverage to buy private insurance, with insufficient cost controls on skyrocketing premiums and other insurance costs.

  2. No challenge to insurance company monopolies, especially in the top 94 metropolitan areas where one or two companies dominate, severely limiting choice and competition.

  3. An affordability mirage. Congressional Budget Office estimates say a family of four with a household income of $54,000 would be expected to pay 17 percent of their income, $9,000, on healthcare exposing too many families to grave financial risk.

  4. The excise tax on comprehensive insurance plans which will encourage employers to reduce benefits, shift more costs to employees, promote proliferation of high-deductible plans, and lead to more self-rationing of care and medical bankruptcies, especially as more plans are subject to the tax every year due to the lack of adequate price controls. A Towers-Perrin survey in September found 30 percent of employers said they would reduce employment if their health costs go up, 86 percent said they’d pass the higher costs to their employees.

  5. Major loopholes in the insurance reforms that promise bans on exclusion for pre-existing conditions, and no cancellations for sickness. The loopholes include:

    • Provisions permitting insurers and companies to more than double charges to employees who fail “wellness” programs because they have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol readings, or other medical conditions.
    • Insurers are permitted to sell policies “across state lines”, exempting patient protections passed in other states. Insurers will thus set up in the least regulated states in a race to the bottom threatening public protections won by consumers in various states.
    • Insurers can charge four times more based on age plus more for certain conditions, and continue to use marketing techniques to cherry-pick healthier, less costly enrollees.
    • Insurers may continue to rescind policies for “fraud or intentional misrepresentation” – the main pretext insurance companies now use to cancel coverage.

  6. Minimal oversight on insurance denials of care; a report by the California Nurses Association/NNOC in September found that six of California’s largest insurers have rejected more than one-fifth of all claims since 2002.

  7. Inadequate limits on drug prices, especially after Senate rejection of an amendment, to protect a White House deal with pharmaceutical giants, allowing pharmacies and wholesalers to import lower-cost drugs.

  8. New burdens for our public safety net. With a shortage of primary care physicians and a continuing fiscal crisis at the state and local level, public hospitals and clinics will be a dumping ground for those the private system doesn’t want. 

  9. Reduced reproductive rights for women.

  10. No single standard of care. Our multi-tiered system remains with access to care still determined by ability to pay. Nothing changes in basic structure of the system; healthcare remains a privilege, not a right.
“Desperation to pass a bill, regardless of its flaws, has made the White House and Congress subject to the worst political extortion and new, crippling concessions every day,” Burger said.

“NNU and nurses will continue to work with the thousands of grassroots activists across the nation to campaign for the best reform, which would be to expand Medicare to cover everyone, the same type of system working more effectively in every other industrial country. The day of that reform will come,” said Ross.



A powerful short animation.

Lucky from EB Hu on Vimeo.
h/t ??

Warning: Contains animated, cartoony blood spurts.

Health Insurance Company Stock Soaring

I know the stock market is not the best indicator of financial health...unless you are an insurance company!

Those Malignant And Vindictive Passions...

Sheldon Whitehouse is as eloquent as they get...

New Rule

If my land-line is busy don't call my cell.  This goes for all calls to those who live alone or with a kid who never answers the phone.


Oregon's Race To The Top Recommendations

I don't know what feelings well up inside you when you read this kind of thing, but for me it's feelings of dread and futility.

Just read some of the nonsense that schools now have to concern themselves with if they want money to buy books and pencils. It's a disgusting commentary on what Americans either find important or are unable to understand.

School is not rocket science. Never was. Shouldn't be. But we are creating an atmosphere where every education policy is driven by "data" which are erroneous or forced at best, as well as inconclusive in the main.

Enough already. Let teachers teach, inspire, entertain, enliven, and care for their students as human beings first, workers for "the man" second, instead of the other way around.

Stand Assmt and Data Oregon                                                                                                                                                    

h/t KL

Brother, Or Sister, Can You Spare A Dime? Updated

(This post will remain at the top for a while)

I don't think I have ever asked, outright, for money.  I don't know how except to just ask.

Could you help support TFT by donating via PayPal or making a purchase of some TFT swag at Cafe Press?

I would really appreciate it!

Update: Thanks to both of you.

Do You Know This Kid IV? Updated

Jimmy Page

Do you know this kid? He is famous. To some, infamous. He is alive. He was born in 1944.  Good luck.

Update: A reader emailed me with the correct response.  Jimmy Page!

Sunday Cartoon Fun: Ineptitude Edition

Avatar: Racist?

I have not yet seen the movie Avatar, but with vacation on I am sure the Frustrated Son and I will be going soon. I found this review interesting.

A snippet from L,G and M:
But the racial essentialism of the film creates a whopper of an unintended thematic irony.* The planet and everything on it do not simply coexist in a harmonious balance of the New Age variety: they are hard-wired into a single neural network that makes the entire planet into a single entity and "the space people" less like a colonizing mercenary force than a disease. The humans are to be resisted not because they are economic imperialists (though they are) and not because they glory in militaristic combat (though they do) but because they are different. They do not belong to the planet and therefore there is no possibility for peaceful coexistence. The only way humans can be accepted is for them to forsake their humanity and become Na'vi. (Think literal assimilation.)

This is not a vision of a racially harmonious social politic: it is an inversion of the logic of passing that seems acceptable only because it imagines the experience of becoming a person of color as necessarily ennobling. The film argues that once a white person truly and deeply understands the non-white experience, he becomes an unstoppable combination of non-white primitivism and white rationalism which is exactly what happens. In order for the audience to support the transformation of Jake Sully into Braveheart Smurf, it must accept the essentialist assumptions that make such a combination possible ... and those assumptions are racist. In football terms, this is a variation of the black quarterback "problem."

The Nelson Compromise (Are You Effin' Kidding Me?)

From digby:
Put another way: If you're buying insurance with help from the government, and the policy you want to buy covers abortions, you have to write two checks (or authorize two credit card transactions, etc.) for your plan. If the plan costs $1000 a month, and the insurer plans to sequester $50 to put into a pool that covers abortions, you have to make one payment of $950 and a separate payment of $50.


Dylan Ratigan Is A Stock Analyst, Debbie Wasserman Schultz Is Not, Updated And Updated

I think the Dems should start listening to their party members who have not been elected to anything; you know, the ones like you and me?

Obviously, Dylan is correct that the health care stocks are rising due to the feebleness of the bill to have any cost controls. I am not in favor of a bill that mandates I buy insurance from an unregulated, competition-less, monopoly of an industry. Fuck that.

h/t JM

Update: From Emptywheel:
And for those who promise we’ll go back and fix this later, once we achieve universal health care, understand what will have happened in the meantime. The idea, of course, is to establish some means to get people single payer coverage (before Lieberman, this would have been through a public option or Medicare buy-in) and, over time, expand it.

In fact, this bill will move toward single payer, too–though not the kind we want. For the large number of people who live in a place where there is limited competition, this bill will require them to get health care through the oligopoly or monopoly provider. It’ll work great for the provider: they will be able to dictate rates. But the Senate bill allows these blossoming single payer providers to keep up to 25% of the benefit in profits and marketing costs, and pass little of that benefit onto citizens. If we make private corporations our single payer, how are we going to convince them to cede control when we ask them to let the government be the single payer?

The reason this matters, though, is the power it gives the health care corporations. We can’t ditch Halliburton or Blackwater because they have become the sole primary contractor providing precisely the services they do. And so, like it or not, we’re dependent on them. And if we were to try to exercise oversight over them, we’d ultimately face the reality that we have no leverage over them, so we’d have to accept whatever they chose to provide. This bill gives the health care industry the leverage we’ve already given Halliburton and Blackwater.

It’s the 9.8% tithe that bothers me the most. But for those who think we can fix it, consider this, too. If the Senate bill passes, in its current form, it will mean that the health care industry was able to dictate–through their Senators Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson–what they wanted the US Congress to do. They will have succeeded in dictating the precise terms of legislation.

Now, that’s not the first time that has happened. It certainly happened on telecom immunity. It certainly has happened, repeatedly, on Defense contracting (see also Randy Cunningham). But none of these egregious instances of corporations dictating legislation included a tithe–the requirement that citizens pay corporations to provide their service, rather than allowing the government to contract the service.

This is a fundamentally different relationship we’re talking about–one that gives corporations vast new powers. And the fact that–with one temper tantrum from Joe Lieberman–the corporations were able to dictate the terms of this new relationship deeply troubles me.

When this passes, it will become clear that Congress is no longer the sovereign of this nation. Rather, the corporations dictating the laws will be.

I understand the temptation to offer 30 million people health care. What I don’t understand is the nonchalance with which we’re about to fundamentally shift the relationships of governance in doing so.

We’ve seen our Constitution and means of government under attack in the last 8 years. This does so in a different–but every bit as significant way. We don’t mandate tithing corporations in this country–at least not yet. And it troubles me that so many Democrats are rushing to do so, without considering the logical consequences.
Update II: Dylan apologizes...


Learning Styles: Nonsense

Cognitive Scientists Debunk Learning-Style Theories
By Debra Viadero on December 17, 2009 9:47 AM

At one time or another, we've all heard "experts" assert that children have different learning styles. Some children, for instance, may be visual learners, while others best absorb information by hearing it. Other theories categorize learners as "assimilators," "divergers," and who knows what else. A teacher's job, according to this line of thinking, is to find out what student's individual learning styles are and tailor instruction accordingly.

A study published this week points up one big problem with these kinds of theories: There's no evidence for them.

Writing in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, cognitive scientists Hal Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer, and Robert Bjork argue that, of the thousands of articles published on learning styles in recent decades, few really put the theory to an adequate test.
More at the title link.

Blast From The Past

Back in the day I spent some time at Dead shows. New Year's Eve was a pretty big deal, and every year one could hear this song on the radio as Deadheads geared up for the annual ticket purchase (which required money orders, snail mail, and some good hippie art) and got ready for the show and the hours in line.

Here is that song, with some stills thrown in by?:

The Known Universe

Better late than never, I always say...

I'm With Keith

Keith Olbermann, who is rich enough to self-insure, will not buy the health insurance the Senate is destined to pass. He won't buy it, even under penalty of fine or jail. He is against it. I am with Keith.

Franken Objects To Lieberman (So Do I)

Thursday Cartoon Fun: Fat Cat Edition

The Senate vs. The Netherlands

FDL put up this comparison of the Senate bill and the Dutch health care system in response to Jonathan Cohn's TNR post. Don't let anyone tell you the Senate is headed in the right direction.

This "reform" seems pretty horrible to me.


Conflict Is Necessary

For those of you who know me personally:
Nice is overrated
Written by: Mélanie Frappier | Appears in: Issue 43

Mélanie Frappier on the necessity of conflict, as exemplified by House. M.D.

House and Socrates. Two cases, same symptoms. House’s best friends describe him as rude, arrogant, and offensive. He never misses a chance to sarcastically pick people apart. He refuses any administrative or clinic duty. His sharp mind has made him a leading expert in diagnostic medicine, yet he doesn’t write up his medical cases for journals; the “ducklings” – Foreman, Cameron, and Chase – do it for him.

The only person who sometimes manages to control House is Cuddy, the dean of medicine and hospital administrator. While she admits that he is the best doctor she has, House’s obsession with his cases is at times a costly nightmare. He hides when on compulsory clinic duty. His unorthodox, and sometimes outright unauthorised, treatments lead to billing problems and lawsuits. His refusal to endorse a new drug costs the hospital a $100 million donation. He destroys the hospital’s MRI machine, attempting to scan the bullet-riddled skull of a corpse (a scan Cuddy had, of course, forbidden).

House doesn’t show any more concern for people than for financial matters. He bursts in on other doctors when they’re with their patients, or calls them in the middle of the night to discuss his cases. Yet he doesn’t listen to their opinions but sarcastically rejects all their answers, taking a vicious pleasure in humiliating them in front of their peers and patients. An “equal opportunity offender”, House is aggressive and demeaning with his own patients.

Is House simply a “raving lunatic”, or is his obnoxious behaviour a symptom of a more serious condition? We could paraphrase House (in “The Socratic Method”) and answer: “Pick your specialist, you pick your symptoms. I’m a jerk. It’s my only symptom. I go see three doctors. The neurologist tells me it’s my pituitary gland, the endocrinologist says it’s an adrenal gland tumor, the intensivist…can’t be bothered, sends me to a witty philosopher, who tells me I push others because I think I’m Socrates.”

In Defense Of The (Nearly) Worthless Penny, By williamyard

williamyard is back, this time with a defense of the worthless penny at TNR:
And once again, the bleatings of the utilitarians must be heard!

Well, my friends, allow me to defend the humble $0.01. It occupies a far more important niche than its prosaic brethren the dime, the dollar, the mighty Jackson. It is, in fact, an artful artifact of philosophy, right there on the sidewalk next to the blackened gum and the pigeon poop where no one in their right mind will stoop to pick it up.

In our frenzied search for efficiency we kill serendipity in the public square: we leave no (wrong) turn unstoned. Forget meandering, traipsing, or taking the long way home: either lead, follow, or get out of the way. All hail GPS!

Nowhere does our fetish for boiling life down to every possible digital datum hold more sway than in finance. We must run those numbers, again and again. Why, I bet some math Ph.D. will figure out how to bundle debt obligations and make a market out of them. Won't that be a great idea? Forget the penny: derivatives are where it's at!

Standing against history's tawdry tsunami is our little copper friend. He is more trouble than he is worth--like an elderly relative in a nursing home, or a homeless vet living under a bridge. He can't survive without society's help, like a single mom raising her kids alone. He's worth more dead than alive--like millions of Americans with a life insurance policy and an underwater mortgage.

You want to see what a penny looks like? Look in the mirror.

No, my friends. The penny should not be eliminated because it is worthless; the penny should be RETAINED because it is worthless.

More On Why The Bill Should Be Killed

Healthcare: First They Came for the Banksters

by Thom Hartmann

With apologies to Pastor Niemöller:

First they came for the banksters, and showered them with money and put them in the Administration in a way that was not change we could believe in.

Then they came for the military industrial complex, and sent more and more of our children to die in faraway lands that had never attacked us in a way that was not change we could believe in.

And now they’ve sold out our hope for a national health care system not run by millionaire gangsters in suits. And who is left to speak for us?

President Obama is playing the Bill Clinton game of throwing people a bone and telling them it’s steak. Perhaps he’s doing it because he thinks it’s his only choice; perhaps it’s because he’s surrounded himself with Bill Clinton advisors (and Hillary as Secretary of State); whatever the reason, while it worked for Clinton, it won’t work for Obama.

It worked for Reagan, and for the first Bush, and even worked somewhat for George W. Bush.

But it won’t work anymore. Here’s why.

From 1929 until the 1980s, most Americans were “high information voters.” They were paying attention to politics. The Republican Great Depression of 1929-1938, World War II, the Korean War, Kennedy’s election, and the War in Vietnam were all Big Events that caused Americans to pay attention. Americans of that era needed to know what was up in Washington, DC, because they felt the consequences directly.

This is why in November of 1954, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote a letter to his John Bircher brother Edgar, “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

The voters knew. Even as late as 1977, when George W. Bush ran for Congress from Texas on a nearly singular platform of privatizing Social Security, he lost badly. The voters knew.

Then came Reagan. He seemed so nice. He talked friendly. At the very minute – to the second – that he put his hand on the bible to be sworn in, those nasty Iranians let go the hostages they’d been holding (a kidnapping that had so humiliated the Carter administration that Carter lost the election).

America was once again a “shining city on the hill” and even though there were a few small invasions, Panama and Grenada and all, and a small recession, and a few S&L bank failures, mostly people lost interest in politics. TV was going big, home entertainment was huge, blockbuster movies were coming onto the big screen, and America was prosperous. Americans partied on cheap debt. We went to sleep. It was the beginning of the era of the “low information voter.”

Howard Dean's Own Words: "Kill The Bill"


Do You Know This Kid III? Updated And Answered

This one might be harder.

Mel Torme

He's dead. He was famous. He was multi-talented.

Update:  This is not Bing Crosby, Dean Martin or George Gershwin.

Update II: Sweet_Jane got it: Mel Torme

Support The Electronic Frontier Foundation

Senator Al Franken Schools Thune

"No Religious Test Shall Ever Be Required As A Qualification..."

Lawsuit threatened over atheist councilman in NC

RALEIGH, N.C. – Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell believes in ending the death penalty, conserving water and reforming government — but he doesn't believe in God. His political opponents say that's a sin that makes him unworthy of serving in office, and they've got the North Carolina Constitution on their side.

Bothwell's detractors are threatening to take the city to court for swearing him in, even though the state's antiquated requirement that officeholders believe in God is unenforceable because it violates the U.S. Consititution.

"The question of whether or not God exists is not particularly interesting to me and it's certainly not relevant to public office," the recently elected 59-year-old said.

Bothwell ran this fall on a platform that also included limiting the height of downtown buildings and saving trees in the city's core, views that appealed to voters in the liberal-leaning community at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains. When Bothwell was sworn into office on Monday, he used an alternative oath that doesn't require officials to swear on a Bible or reference "Almighty God."

That has riled conservative activists, who cite a little-noticed quirk in North Carolina's Constitution that disqualifies officeholders "who shall deny the being of Almighty God." The provision was included when the document was drafted in 1868 and wasn't revised when North Carolina amended its constitution in 1971. One foe, H.K. Edgerton, is threatening to file a lawsuit in state court against the city to challenge Bothwell's appointment.
Let's remember a couple of things. First, the United States Constitution Supremacy Clause:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
And now Article VI, section 6, of the Constitution of the United States:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
Obviously, the North Carolina law is unconstitutional. And disgusting. And insulting. Where are the adults?

Doctor Dean Says "Kill The Senate Bill"

I am not alone in thinking it is better to kill it than pass it:
Howard Dean: “Kill The Senate Bill”

In a blow to the bill grinding through the Senate, Howard Dean bluntly called for the bill to be killed in a pre-recorded interview set to air later this afternoon, denouncing it as “the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate,” the reporter who conducted the interview tells me.

Dean said the removal of the Medicare buy-in made the bill not worth supporting, and urged Dem leaders to start over with the process of reconciliation in the interview, which is set to air at 5:50 PM today on Vermont Public Radio, political reporter Bob Kinzel confirms to me.

The gauntlet from Dean — whose voice on health care is well respsected among liberals — will energize those on the left who are mobilizing against the bill, and make it tougher for liberals to embrace the emerging proposal. In an excerpt Kinzel gave me, Dean says:
“This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate. Honestly the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill.”
Kinzel added that Dean essentially said that if Democratic leaders cave into Joe Lieberman right now they’ll be left with a bill that’s not worth supporting.

Dean had previously endorsed the Medicare buy-in compromise without a public option, saying that the key question should be whether the bill contains enough “real reform” to be worthy of progressives’ support. Dean has apparently concluded that the “real reform” has been removed at Lieberman’s behest — which won’t make it easier for liberals to swallow the emerging compromise.

"But It Damn Well Better Be Positive Change"

I think Jay has it just about right below. Unfortunately, the incremental change, which requires fines for not buying insurance, will piss off all the poor people this economy has created, put them deeper into the poorhouse, and seal the deal for Republicans.

I am leaning towards scrapping the whole thing.
I hate to keep beating this drum, but the going in objectives for health care reform were to increase coverage and control costs.  It's become increasingly clear that one requires the other, and passing a bill that mandates coverage and doesn't do enough control costs is stupid and political suicide.  At some point, Americans will realize spiraling health care costs are sapping the economy, putting American industry at a disadvantage, keeping wages depressed, impacting unemployment, and stunting small business growth.  And, at that point, Americans will go looking for someone to blame.

I'm, begrudgingly, OK with incremental change.  But it damn well better be positive change.

Tuesday Bonus Cartoon Fun: It Must Be A Cold Day In Hell Edition

Let Joe Go

Yes, I watch Countdown. I saw Sherrod Brown talking last night and he mentioned retribution and punishment. His mention was one of 'worry about it later' because we have a chance to pass massive health care reform. Well, what would we have had without this smarmy bastard?

So I post this most cogent and brief piece from Lawyers, Guns and Money:


I will concede that at the time the decision was made, we didn't know whether the decision to let Joe Lieberman keep his chairmanship was a good idea or not. Well, at this point we know it was a disaster, and surely relieving him of his perks has become a no-brainer. This isn't a question of balancing a desire for revenge against the pragmatic interests of the party. Continuing to reward people who double-cross you and continuing to trust people who have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can't be trusted is just bad strategy.

Tuesday Cartoon Fun: North Pole Edition

Time To Take 'Em Back

National Call for March 4 Strike and Day of Action To Defend Public Education

California has recently seen a massive movement erupt in defense of public education — but layoffs, fee hikes, cuts, and the re-segregation of public education are attacks taking place throughout the country. A nationwide resistance movement is needed.

We call on all students, workers, teachers, parents, and their organizations and communities across the country to massively mobilize for a Strike and Day of Action in Defense of Public Education on March 4, 2010. Education cuts are attacks against all of us, particularly in working-class communities and communities of color.

The politicians and administrators say there is no money for education and social services. They say that “there is no alternative” to the cuts. But if there’s money for wars, bank bailouts, and prisons, why is there no money for public education?

We can beat back the cuts if we unite students, workers, and teachers across all sectors of public education — Pre K-12, adult education, community colleges, and state-funded universities. We appeal to the leaders of the trade union movement to support and organize strikes and/or mass actions on March 4. The weight of workers and students united in strikes and mobilizations would shift the balance of forces entirely against the current agenda of cuts and make victory possible.

Building a powerful movement to defend public education will, in turn, advance the struggle in defense of all public-sector workers and services and will be an inspiration to all those fighting against the wars, for immigrants rights, in defense of jobs, for single-payer health care, and other progressive causes.

Why March 4? On October 24, 2009 more than 800 students, workers, and teachers converged at UC Berkeley at the Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education. This massive meeting brought together representatives from over 100 different schools, unions, and organizations from all across California and from all sectors of public education. After hours of open collective discussion, the participants voted democratically, as their main decision, to call for a Strike and Day of Action on March 4, 2010. All schools, unions and organizations are free to choose their specific demands and tactics — such as strikes, rallies, walkouts, occupations, sit-ins, teach-ins, etc. — as well as the duration of such actions.

Let’s make March 4 an historic turning point in the struggle against the cuts, layoffs, fee hikes, and the re-segregation of public education.

- The California Coordinating Committee

(To endorse this call and to receive more information contact march4strikeanddayofaction@gmail.com )


California's Charter School Mafia Boss: Arnold

Governor's ties to charter schools driving Race to Top goals?

SACRAMENTO — Charter school advocates were livid. The Assembly's "Race to the Top" legislation was trying to "change the DNA of charters," as one charter school leader put it, by clamping down with "stifling" oversight provisions.

They had little doubt, however, that they'd have a potent weapon to beat back the proposed changes: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger's deep ties to the charter school movement haven't been a secret. He has taken at least $1 million in contributions from charter school advocates, stacked the State Board of Education with charter school educators, overseen since taking office in 2003 more than a doubling in the number of charter schools and steered hundreds of millions of construction bond money to charter schools.

Now, with a potential $700 million in federal cash dangling before lawmakers who have seen $17 billion drained from public schools over the past two years, some critics say Schwarzenegger has used the Race to the Top competition to further his long-term goal of cutting into the powers of traditional public schools while elevating his own sacred cow — the charter movement.
h/t KL

Do You Know This Kid? Updated Again And Again, Finally, Really, I Swear

Since I got such a huge response from my last Do You Know? post I thought I would give you another.

So, do you know this kid? She was born in 1925.

Margaret Thatcher

Update:  It is not Angela Landsbury or Sandra Day O'Connor.  An email response already got it right, but I'll wait a bit more for some others to chime in.  And don't forget the other Do You Know with Yoko Ono (anonymous friend got her) and a yet to be identified dead guy.

Update II:  She is not my mother (mom is 8 years her junior), nor is she Flannery O'Connor.  And she's still alive and kicking.  And she is famous or infamous, depending on your view of, um, things.

Update III:  We have a winner winners!  Minnesotastan of TYWKIWDBI and another anonymous friend who likes to comment using Grateful Dead Song girl names pegged this young lady as the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher.  Good job.


Hey Arne! STFU!

Praise, not scorn

Sent to the Washington Post, Dec. 13

Education Secretary Duncan thinks that Schools of Education do a "mediocre job" and need strict accountability ("Louisiana serves as model in teacher assessment," Dec. 12).

American Schools of Education deserve praise, not scorn. If international test scores are the criteria for judging performance, American children do very well, as long as the effect of poverty is taken into consideration. There is very good evidence that poverty must be considered.

American schools where less than 25 percent of the students are poor outscore nearly all other countries in math and science. American children only fall below the international average when 75 percent or more of the students in a school live in poverty. Poverty means hunger, poor diet, toxins in the environment, and a lack of reading material. All of these seriously affect academic performance. The US has the highest level of childhood poverty of all industrialized countries, 25%, compared to Denmark's 2%.

Poverty is beyond the control of Schools of Education. Low achievement is the fault of a society that allows so many children to live in poverty.

Also, if we accept Secretary Duncan's logic, we should hold schools of business accountable for the current economic crisis.

Stephen Krashen

Sunday Cartoon Fun: Public Option II Edition


On Being Professional

Professionalism is one of those concepts I can't get my head around, like this guy:
But I have never felt professional in my life. I have felt conscientious, occasionally to the point of agony and sleeplessness; I have felt devoted at times and indifferent at other times; I have tried to understand those in my care as best I could; I tried to be interesting and friendly and interested: but I never regarded these things as professionalism. Professionalism was getting my reports in at the right time, phrasing them in the correct way, taking my part in the career structure, making constructive criticisms and looking for ever greater efficiency, or rather, ways of registering ever greater efficiency even when the result of registering was less efficiency.

This process has come a long way. First, students were invited to evaluate classes on forms, which is fine and even useful. Then students were instructed to anonymise their work so that we shouldn't be able to discriminate against them, and to put their evaluations of the class into an envelope that we might deliver their sealed evaluations to the appropriate place. Then it was further determined that only students should carry the envelope to the appropriate place. Why? Because we were not to be trusted, of course.

Not trusting us, or anyone, is truly professional. Distrust is the one true mark of the professional.
Go read the whole post.

Saturday Cartoon Fun: Good Speech Edition

Child Hunger Is A Complex Problem (It's More Than Just Food)

The hunger problem, like the achievement gap, is more complicated than one might think due to multiple factors that Americans are not equipped to deal with; unequipped due to consumerism, selfishness, and an inability to hold 2 thoughts in one's head at a time. Life is complicated, lots of grey. Complexity is not bad, just harder than simplicity. Americans are good at simplicity.
Missing more than a meal
Child hunger, called the 'silent epidemic,' is an increasingly complex problem

Even when children are not hungry, studies have found that slight shortages of food in their homes are associated with serious problems. Babies and toddlers in those homes are far more likely to be hospitalized than children in families with similar incomes but adequate food. School-age children tend to learn and grow more slowly, and to get into trouble more often. Teenage girls are more prone to be depressed or even flirt with thoughts of suicide.

Solving the problem is further complicated by its subtle nature. "Most people who are hungry are not clinically manifesting what we consider hunger. It doesn't even affect body weight," said Mariana Chilton, a Drexel University medical anthropologist who is part of Children's HealthWatch, a network of pediatricians and public health researchers in Philadelphia and four other cities. Hunger cannot be solved by food alone, their work shows, because it is one strand in a web of pressures that trap families, including housing and energy costs.

A nuanced problem

This more nuanced picture is emerging as the problem has become more widespread. With the economy faltering, the number of youngsters living in homes without enough food soared in 2008 from 13 million to nearly 17 million, the Agriculture Department reported last month.

Help The Military With Holiday Gifts That Matter

From DWT:
My friend Mimi's nephew Devin is a Marine Captain stationed in Iraq. He's been there for several tours and he wrote a letter home to his family this week that Mimi gave me permission to publish.

Dear family,

If you were wondering "what does Devin want for Christmas??," please follow the below link and choose from a number of great products:


Do not worry, I have done thorough research on the organization and it is legitimate. Also, a close friend from high school used to work with them and can vouch. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) was founded in 1933 at the request of the head of the International Relief Association (IRA), Albert Einstein, in order to assist Germans suffering under Hitler (sean-hope I have your attention). Since then the IRC has provided aid to Refugees fleeing from conflicts in Vietnam, Zaire, East Pakistan, Uganda, Chile, Soviet Union, Lebanon, El Salvador, Poland, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Iraq, and most recently Afghanistan. For over 75 years, the International Rescue Committee has been a leader in humanitarian relief. They mobilize quickly, bringing sustained support to regions devastated by violence and deprivation. The most important aspect of their mission, in my mind, is that they provide hope to extremely vulnerable populations. I will explain what that means in a minute.

First, I'm sure you're asking at this point.. "uh.. is he serious? Isn't he a Marine? Has he gone soft? Is this spam??.." Nope, just hang with me. Providing support to a population who have become refugees as a result of armed conflict benefits more than just those individuals. It benefits you, your family, and your MARINES fighting abroad. How you ask?

I shall explain:

As I'm sure you can imagine, refugee camps are a terrible place. They are filled with displaced individuals who are jobless, moneyless, education-less, hungry, and angry because they were forced from their home/family (directly or indirectly) and moved to a trash heap in a countr that doesn't want them.

The depression that results from this environment breeds something called "hopelessness," especially in youths. Back in my F&M days while studying the Hopelessness Theory of Depression I learned that experiences in such negative environments can lead to the formation of dysfunctional beliefs, which in turn lead to negative self views, which in turn leads to depression, followed by desperation. THIS is why you have a "vulnerable population" within these refugee camps. Desperate people are easily exploited. Many terrorist organizations or extremist groups recognize this and are taking advantage of the social and psychological dysfunction within these camps to breed dysfunctional beliefs (Radical Islamic Extremism) and recruit suicide bombers.

You often wonder, "how can someone walk into a crowded square and blow themselves up?" Research refugee camps on the border of conflict ridden regions and Im sure you will understand how easy it would be for an al-Qaida operative to recruit individuals using promises of hope, meaning to life, and a guaranteed spot in heaven. A large majority of the suicide bombers who are killing our troops in Afghanistan are not Taliban. They are extremists who grew up in refugee camps bordering Pakistan. Look deeply into conflicts in Somalia and the Congo, you will find similar backgrounds in the majority of the extremists, guerrillas, or terrorists involved.

SO, by getting me my Christmas present you can save a life and disrupt the proliferation of terrorism by providing these underprivileged individuals with an alternative form of hope. Give them education to fight extremist views, food and medicine to maintain their desire to live, and HOPE that they can create a better life for themselves and their families. Help fight the long war.

If you can find a present like this in a store at the mall.. Let me know... I'll buy stock.

Thanks for taking the time to consider my Christmas list. There are many organizations to give to during the holidays and this is certainly not the only one you should look into. I look forward to seeing/hearing from you all this Christmas. Take care, Miss you!!


Total Pageviews