Dr. Elizabeth Warren On The Economy


American Maps

More Truth Comes Out On School Reform

From truthout:
Education Reform: Wrong Diagnosis, So Wrong Cure

If Congress and the administration are wise, they'll use their levers of power not to tighten but to loosen the rigor screws and end the innovation-stifling role of Carnegie Units, course distribution requirements, mandated instructional programs, and other curriculum-standardizing measures. They'll do what enlightened school boards have always done and say to educators, "We want you to unleash creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness, imagination and enthusiasm, and send the young off with a lasting love of learning. Tell us what you need in order to make that happen, and we'll do our best to provide the necessary support."

Even the suggestion of such a policy will appall many. We say we're big on freedom, democracy, individualism, autonomy, choice and so on, but advocating aligning our schools with our political rhetoric invites being labeled as too radical to be taken seriously. Such a policy, most are likely to believe, would trigger chaos, pandemonium, anarchy.

Not so. Two things would happen. In most schools, institutional inertia, entrenched bureaucracy and pressure from powerful corporate interests would maintain the status quo.

In most schools, but not all. A few would point the way to a better-than-world-class education by demonstrating what experienced teachers have always known, that the traditional curriculum barely scratches the surface of kids' intellectual potential.


Thursday Cartoon Bonus Fun: End Game Edition

The Votes Are Pouring In!

Only two votes?!  We can do better than that!! Click here and vote (please).

We Should Quit Dinking Around

Jay McDonough on Afghanistan:
More simply put:  the U.S. can only accomplish its stated objectives in Afghanistan with hundreds of thousands more troops.  That's not gonna happen.  Therefore, the U.S. will be unable to accomplish its stated objectives.  Dinking around like we are only wastes lives and money.

Thursday Cartoon Fun: The Party Of ??? Edition

Dan Savage On Marriage

I really like Dan Savage. He is a very bright, take-no-prisoners advocate for gay rights. He pulls no punches, and I respect that.


The Weblog Awards

I have been nominated for Best Education blog by a far superior blogger than I.

Jay McDonough at swimming freestyle nominated me.  He is a brilliant blogger who dissects the news for us and often finds great, obscure music and art to post as well.  Jay also blogs at Newshoggers.

To vote for swimming freestyle for Best Political blog, click here and find the comment where he has been nominated, then, just under the comment is a little green + sign you click to vote!

Click here to vote for me (follow the same procedure above, but look for me!).

Go look around the Weblog Awards site and vote/nominate away!

The 2009 Weblog Awards

I post-dated this post so it would post at the top for a bit...

Charter Food Fight = Jail

I am sure when Chip and Buffy get into it at their school they don't end up in jail. But in a Chicago reform school, you shape up or go to jail!
CHICAGO — The food fight here started the way such bouts do in school lunchrooms most anywhere: an apple was tossed, a cookie turned into a torpedo, and an orange plunked someone in the head. Within minutes, dozens of middle-school students had joined in the ruckus, and spattered adults were ducking for cover.

By the end of the day, 25 of the students, ages 11 to 15, had been rounded up, arrested, taken from school and put in jail. A spokesman for the Chicago police said the charges were reckless conduct, a misdemeanor.

Lester Cohen: A Quiet Hero This Veterans Day

A friend of mine, who happens to be Lester's son, sent this to me this Veterans Day. Lester is a sweet, funny man who, with his wife Honey, raised a couple of fantastic kids. One grew up to be my friend and then go on to found the Global Pediatric Alliance, which you should find at the bottom of this blog and to which you should donate all the money you have left!

Lester Cohen. Son. Soldier. Husband. Father. Grandfather. Hero.

Lester Cohen poses at his Bangor home on Monday with a picture of his three brothers
(from left), Sam, Bernard, Lester and George,
in uniform during WWII.

BANGOR, Maine — The scars of war are not always visible.

Many World War II veterans, including Bangor resident Lester Cohen, have kept quiet about their wartime experiences during the 64 years since the war in Europe ended, attempting to hide their invisible scars.

Those veterans, now in their 80s, endeavored to protect themselves and the ones they love from the pain and grief that is associated with death and injury, and the knowledge that their innocence was lost forever.

“Growing up we were taught to be good, and the Army taught us to kill,” Cohen said last week as he sat in his Chickadee Lane home.

Cohen was 19 when he led a group of eight soldiers up the steep banks of Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day and later fought against the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge and other major confrontations in the European theater.

As he reminisced last week, he held in his lap a thin envelope of memorabilia from WWII, including a few letters he wrote home to his mom in Biddeford, his discharge papers, newspaper clippings, photos of his brothers-in-arms and one of him in his youth with his three brothers in uniform.

“It’s been a long, long time since I’ve even seen this stuff,” he said.

Cohen’s story is not unlike others from his youth. He was the youngest of seven children and all three of his older brothers and his brothers-in-law were serving this country in the military during WWII. Cohen was enrolled at the University of Maine in Orono, “and everyday I’d go to class there would be less and less boys,” he said.

Halfway through his second semester, he hitchhiked home to Biddeford to tell his mom, who raised him and siblings alone after his father died when he was 14, that he could wait no longer and that he was enlisting.

He joined the U.S. Army in March 1943. After basic training in Massachusetts he was sent to Europe with Battery B of the 110th Infantry Gunnery Battalion, which was attached to the 1st Army.

Cohen has kept the secrets of war quietly locked away for six decades, and only in the last few years has he been able to speak about his experiences.

“To say they don’t talk — that’s an understatement,” said Honey Cohen, who married him on Feb. 15, 1959.

By the time Cohen enlisted to fight along with his brothers and many others in the United States and Europe to defeat Hitler and the Nazis, millions of Jews already had died by the hands of those who followed the German dictator.

To be Jewish was a dangerous thing, and having an obviously Jewish given name placed a target on Cohen who decided to crush and throw away his military dog tags, just in case he was captured.

“I hated the Germans” for what they did, he said, anger still in his voice.

As he quietly recalled stories of the battles he fought in Europe — tales of the carnage of war — there were some good memories, of the people that he and his fellow soldiers helped to liberate.

“Have you ever seen people who were crazy with happiness?” he wrote in an Aug. 30, 1944, letter to his mother, Celia. “That is the way people are here” in France.

He recalled the French people shouted “the liberators” in their native tongue, when he and his battalion — the first Americans to arrive — made their way into Paris.
“They all tried to touch you. To kiss you,” he said, his eyes wet and far away in thought.

The fact that many were Jewish lifted his heart.

“I have met quite a few Jewish people since arriving here” in Paris, his letter states. “Many have been hiding in cellars and houses and other places for four years and many have kept their nationality a secret for fear of being harmed.”

A few of the stories, the ones that cut the deepest, Cohen just could not finish. He left them hanging in the air as silence permeated the room. Then he would gather his composure and, using a diversion technique that is well oiled, tell a story about the beautiful European women he met while traveling from town to town.

Cohen was shipped home to the U.S. before many of his fellow soldiers because his mother was seriously ill with brittle diabetes.

When he arrived home in Biddeford it was around midnight and his mother was already asleep.

The next morning, using her walker, she made her way into his room and Cohen pretended to be asleep. “She lifted up my shirt and checked me all over,” he said. “She knew if I got hurt I’d never tell her.”

Cohen has no physical scars from the war he served in so many years ago, but the emotional scars remain. They run so deep that he said he is not participating in today’s Veterans Day activities.

“It’s too tough.”


That Was Not the Health Care Bill We Were Looking For

From Open Source comes an interview snippet with dear old Ralph Nader. He is still fighting the good fight. I forgive him:
RN: The problem is the nature of power, and the corporate entity controlling government, which Franklin Roosevelt, in 1938, called fascism… The global corporate model is all powerful, has no competition in terms of a model… They have nationalized the savings of the American people. They are too big to fail, so that they are bailed out, as Wall Street is bailed out. They have monetized elections, nullifying effectively people’s votes. They select the politicians, put them in office, and when they retire they hire them and give them a half a million dollars or more a year as lobbyists. It is the most clever, dynamic, creative system of controlling power in the history of the world. And they give people entertainment, and they allow people to confuse personal freedom with civic freedom. So you’ve got a lot of people in this country who say, “what do you mean we don’t live in a free country?” That’s right, you have personal freedom, you can eat what you want, buy whatever clothes you want, date who you want, divorce who you want, choose the friends you want, pick the music you want, get the bicycle you want, get into a five-thousand pound vehicle and go three blocks and buy chiclets if you want. That is personal freedom. It’s not civic freedom. Civic freedom is what’s been shredded. As Cicero said “freedom is participation in power.” What kind of freedom do we have by that standard?

… Right now we have a dystopia on the ground. It’s called the liberal progressive intelligentsia and their flock. They think if they keep writing more books (the way Bill Greider and Bob Kuttner and Jim Hightower and Ralph Nader and others keep writing, exposing, proposing, diagnosing, denouncing and suggesting) that something is going to happen. We have hit a stone wall — one reason I ran for President three times. Congress has shut down. Washington is corporate-occupied territory. That’s the dystopia on the ground… Between that real life dystopia of the progressive liberal intelligentsia and their world, and their least-worst voting for the Democrats over the Republicans and never pulling the Democrats in their direction — between that and my practical utopia I’ll take my proposal as more realistic.

CL: That’s a very serious question you’re talking about. And we all know it intuitively around health care. We all know that what Congress is doing has almost nothing to do with what people want, or even what the wonks say are the best provisions of the best policy. it’s about what the healthcare industry will let us have.

RN: That’s been documented in books from A to Z. Here’s where this book kicks in. Let’s say ten elderly super-billionaries get together and they say look, enough is enough. 45,000 Americans are dying every year because they can’t afford health insurance. Trillions of dollars lost, claims denied, anxiety, grieving, it’s an incredible mess, a pay or die system in the richest country in the world. Suppose these guys get together at the Four Seasons. They’re on their third martini. They say, “you know, I met a couple of great organizers… and they said if they had a billion dollars they could organize every congressional district and move the thirty-percent of congress who’s already privately for single-payer health insurance to a majority. Obama will sign it because he’s for single-payer, but wasn’t willing to take on the drug and health-insurance companies. That’ll happen in eighteen months.”

You wanna argue that with me? A billion dollars organizing the congressional districts the way Donald Ross and others know how to do it. Eighteen months, we’d have single-payer. Eighteen months. No one will die in America because they can’t afford health insurance. Just like no one dies in England, Germany, France, Sweden or Canada because they’re insured from day one when they’re born. That’s what I mean about money. You’ve got people all over the country — the majority support single payer; a majority of doctors support it; even larger majority of nurses support it. And it’s going nowhere because there isn’t one full-time lobbyist on Capitol Hill for single payer, and there are 2000 corporate lobbyists for the drug companies and the Aetnas and the hospital chains. When are we going to face up to the money issue? Money is not enough. You have to have smarts, strategy, determination, humanity, time, diligence — but you can have all those, and if you do not have money it goes nowhere.

Kucinich Explains His "No" Vote On Health Care

“We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing health care. We cannot fault the insurance companies for being what they are. But we can fault legislation in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem. When health insurance companies deny care or raise premiums, co-pays and deductibles they are simply trying to make a profit. That is our system.

“Clearly, the insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. They are driving up the cost of health care. Because their massive bureaucracy avoids paying bills so effectively, they force hospitals and doctors to hire their own bureaucracy to fight the insurance companies to avoid getting stuck with an unfair share of the bills. The result is that since 1970, the number of physicians has increased by less than 200% while the number of administrators has increased by 3000%. It is no wonder that 31 cents of every health care dollar goes to administrative costs, not toward providing care. Even those with insurance are at risk. The single biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. is health insurance policies that do not cover you when you get sick.

“But instead of working toward the elimination of for-profit insurance, H.R. 3962 would put the government in the role of accelerating the privatization of health care. In H.R. 3962, the government is requiring at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies — a bailout under a blue cross.

“By incurring only a new requirement to cover pre-existing conditions, a weakened public option, and a few other important but limited concessions, the health insurance companies are getting quite a deal. The Center for American Progress’ blog, Think Progress, states “since the President signaled that he is backing away from the public option, health insurance stocks have been on the rise.” Similarly, healthcare stocks rallied when Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill without a public option. Bloomberg reports that Curtis Lane, a prominent health industry investor, predicted a few weeks ago that “money will start flowing in again” to health insurance stocks after passage of the legislation. Investors.com last month reported that pharmacy benefit managers share prices are hitting all-time highs, with the only industry worry that the Administration would reverse its decision not to negotiate Medicare Part D drug prices, leaving in place a Bush Administration policy.

“During the debate, when the interests of insurance companies would have been effectively challenged, that challenge was turned back. The “robust public option” which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration. Looking ahead, we cringe at the prospect of even greater favors for insurance companies.

“Recent rises in unemployment indicate a widening separation between the finance economy and the real economy. The finance economy considers the health of Wall Street, rising corporate profits, and banks’ hoarding of cash, much of it from taxpayers, as sign of an economic recovery. However in the real economy -- in which most Americans live -- the recession is not over. Rising unemployment, business failures, bankruptcies and foreclosures are still hammering Main Street.

“This health care bill continues the redistribution of wealth to Wall Street at the expense of America’s manufacturing and service economies which suffer from costs other countries do not have to bear, especially the cost of health care. America continues to stand out among all industrialized nations for its privatized health care system. As a result, we are less competitive in steel, automotive, aerospace and shipping while other countries subsidize their exports in these areas through socializing the cost of health care.

“Notwithstanding the fate of H.R. 3962, America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system, which is good for the American people and good for America’s businesses, with of course the notable exceptions being insurance and pharmaceuticals.” [emphasis mine]
The Cleveland Leader

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