Friday ReadsPosted: April 27, 2012
I’ve been livid recently about our Governor’s jihad against public education. Here’s some details on how Bobby Jindal used the ALEC play book to turn the state’s public schools upside down.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has remade the Louisiana public schools system with impressive speed over the past legislative session. Last week, he signed into law a suite of landmark reform bills that will likely change the direction of public education in Louisiana forever. But not all change is good, and critics say both Jindal’s agenda and the strategy to move it come right from the playbook of conservative advocacy group ALEC, in an effort to revive Jindal’s national political profile.
Louisiana is now home to the nation’s most expansive school voucher program. Charter school authorization powers have been broadened. And teacher tenure policies have been radically transformed. Louisiana already had something of a reputation as a radical-reform state, thanks to the post-Katrina educational climate in New Orleans. But not all change is good, and education advocates have deep concerns about the efficacy of Jindal’s overhaul, and the interests that have push it.
ALEC will survive, of course, kept afloat largely by the billionaire Koch brothers and their corporate allies. But as activists keep up the pressure, they must not lose sight of the worst culprits, who must be identified and targeted: the more than 2,000 legislative members of ALEC. The Center for Media and Democracy maintains a list of lawmakers allied with ALEC at ALECexposed.org. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has begun to pressure dozens of Democrats involved with the overwhelmingly Republican group to quit. Their exit from ALEC would put the lie to the claim that ALEC is nonpartisan.
Common Cause argues that ALEC has abused its tax-exempt status by lobbying, and Wisconsin State Representative Mark Pocan has introduced a bill requiring ALEC to register as a lobbyist in that state. But especially as November approaches, the Exit ALEC movement must go beyond the group to confront some of the damage it has done. In the past two years, thirty-four states have introduced bills to restrict voting for some 5 million eligible voters; nine have passed voter ID laws; dozens of other states have gotten rid of early voting or tried to hobble voter registration drives. In Florida get-out-the-vote efforts by the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote have been sabotaged. The most affected are blacks, Latinos and other groups that skew Democratic.
If you haven’t been following CISPA, you really should. Here’s a primer from Truth Dig.
What is CISPA?
CISPA, an abbreviation for the Cyber Intelligence Security and Protection Act, was introduced in the House of Representatives on November 30, 2011 by Mike Rogers (R-MI), as well as 111 co-sponsors. Since then, a number of amendments have been introduced. The House is expected to vote on the bill Friday and its author has said that the latest changes brought the number of supporting Congressmen “well past” the threshold of 218 necessary for the adoption of the legislation. It is therefore very likely that the bill will be passed by the House. However, it’s not all that certain whether the bill will be made into law, especially with the White House’s latest statement that President Obama would be advised to veto the legislation.
What does CISPA entail for internet users?
The act says it is meant to create procedures allowing “elements of the intelligence community to share cyber threat intelligence with private-sector entities and to encourage the sharing of such intelligence.” It also states that a cyber-security provider or a self-protected entity may share “cyber threat information” “with any other entity designated by such protected entity, including… the Federal Government.”
But what does that mean?
Unnecessarily broad definitions are the factor which makes CISPA so controversial with web users.
Experts argue that the bill would give the government the ability to circumvent internet privacy laws and obtain information on user activities from private companies – be it providers, hosting companies or social networks – essentially any company involved in the Internet.
The bill does specifically say that the Federal Government can only use the information obtained for a “cybersecurity purpose” or the “protection of the national security of the United States,” but the broad definitions of the terms could potentially lump an average Internet user sending an encrypted e-mail into the same threat category as a terrorist. Privately owned corporations could, under the pretext of cyber and national security, spy on users and transfer their data to a government agency.
“You will get no accountability for that,” explains David Seaman, host of The DL Show. “If findings are turned against you in the worst possible way, you won’t be able to get a lawyer and sue because of the litigation immunity.”
You can find more analysis and links at Cannonfire. The House has already passed CISPA. No surprises there since these guys are standing in line to monitor US women’s menstrual periods and want to peer into every woman’s uterus. As usual, a few Democrats joined in the effort to expand government’s intrusion into your personal lives. Here’s wishing Obama follows through with his threat to veto.
The final tally was 248-168, enough to pass the measure but not enough to override the threatened veto. Forty-two Democrats broke with the White House to vote for the bill, and 28 Republicans voted against it.
The administration and Democratic critics opposed the bill because of privacy and civil liberties concerns. The other main sticking point was that, unlike a Senate bill by Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), CISPA would not mandate new security requirements for a critical infrastructure network.
Although those disagreements still exist, House Republicans have now jumped ahead of the Senate in a race to avoid the political fallout in the event of a major cyberattack.
At least some of CISPA’s Democratic supporters weren’t happy with their colleagues’ opposition to the bill, nor with the White House.
After the White House issued the veto threat Wednesday, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, Rogers’s chief Democratic ally, launched an all-out lobbying effort to persuade his fellow Democrats to back the bill.
Here’s an article that pretty much outlines my worst nightmares: “How Christian Groups Push Right-Wing Religion With the Help of Your Tax Dollars”;Taxpayer-funded crisis pregnancy centers are using religion to oppose abortion, and many of them only hire Christians.
If you want to help carry out the anti-abortion mission of the taxpayer-funded Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center, you have to be a Christian.
It’s right there on the Rapid City, S.D., center’s volunteer application.
“Do you consider yourself a Christian?” “If yes, how long have you been a Christian?” “As a Christian, what is the basis of your salvation?” “Please provide the following information concerning your local church. Church name … Denomination … Pastor’s name.” “This organization is a Christian pro-life ministry. We believe that our faith in Jesus Christ empowers us, enables us, and motivates us to provide pregnancy services in this community. Please write a brief statement about how your faith would affect your volunteer work at this center.”
But that hasn’t stopped the center from receiving federal funding and other forms of government support.
In 2010, it was awarded a $34,000 “capacity building” grant as part of President Obama’s stimulus bill.
Last year, the nonprofit National Fatherhood Initiative, with “support from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Family Assistance,” awarded the center $25,000 for capacity building.
And when South Dakota passed a law requiring that women get counseling from a “pregnancy help center” before receiving an abortion, the Rapid City center was quick to sign up — becoming one of three such facilities listed on the state’s official website.
When do we get our country back from these whackos and when do we get to say that they don’t get our money?
I’m sending Hugs out today to Senator AL Franken for this.