Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Jindal Supporters

Repiblican PrayersI thought I’d take a break from discouraging Beltway political news to give all you folks that aren’t Louisiana Taxpayers and residents a reason to feel cheery. Here’s the kinds of things that Bubba Jindal thinks are terrific uses of tax payer resources: “Hippies Demonized in Louisiana Voucher School Textbook; Will Louisiana taxpayers continue funding Bobby Jindal’s right wing revisionism and biblical pseudoscience?”.  Yes, Bobby Jindal–the one who lectured the Republican party to stop being stupid–strikes again.   Evidently, Jindal likes his voters stupid.

If Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) gets his way Louisiana taxpayers will continue funding private school curricula rife with right-wing revisionism and biblical pseudoscience.

Jindal’s voucher program spends tens of millions of dollars in state funds to send low-income students to  one of 134 approved private schools. But the Louisiana Supreme Court will rule this month whether it’s constitutional to divert public funds to private institutions. Also of concern is the misinformation peddled in several approved voucher schools, many institutions espousing a right wing, Christian bastardization of social studies and science.

Most recently, AmericaBlog discovered a rather cartoonish depiction of one of the largest counter-culture movements in American history printed in a Louisiana voucher textbook. The 8 th grade history book, titled  America: Land I love, gives this lesson on hippies:

Many young people turned to drugs and immoral lifestyles; these youth became known as hippies. They went without bathing, wore dirty, ragged, unconventional clothing, and deliberately broke all codes of politeness or manners. Rock music played an important part in the hippie movement and had great influence over the hippies. Many of the rock musicians they followed belonged to Eastern religious cults or practiced Satan worship.

Of course, the devil’s influence extends beyond America’s “immoral” youth. Reads another textbook: “It is no wonder that Satan hates the family and has hurled his venom against it in the form of Communism.”

There are those of us that would like to see the state turn this situation around.  The emerging spokesperson is himself a young student. He was recently interviewed by Bill Moyers.

Religious fundamentalists backed by the right wing are finding increasingly stealthy ways to challenge evolution with the dogma of creationism. Their strategy includes passing education laws that encourage teaching creationism alongside evolution, and supporting school vouchers to transfer taxpayer money from public to private schools, where they can push a creationist agenda. But they didn’t count on 19-year-old anti-creationism activist Zack Kopplin.

From the time he was a high school senior in his home state of Louisiana, Kopplin has been speaking, debating, cornering politicians and winning the active support of 78 Nobel Laureates, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the New Orleans City Council, and tens of thousands of students, teachers and others around the country. The Rice University history major joins Bill to talk about fighting the creep of creationist curricula into public school science classes and publicly funded vouchers that end up supporting creationist instruction.

Here’s a list of things being killed by Jindal’s current budget “priorities”. I should actually use the phrase list of programs that will be eliminated that will kill people due to his current budget “priorities”.  That’s a bit more appropriate.  I would just like to add, please some one, help us!

First it was the closure of Southeast Louisiana Hospital, shutting off mental health services to residents of the state’s most densely populated area, then there was the move to “partner” state hospitals across the state with private facilities, followed by an unsuccessful attempt to terminate Hospice care.

Now Gov. Bobby Jindal, in submitting his executive budget, has announced intentions to cease immunizing the state’s indigent children at parish health units throughout the state.

Instead, private pediatricians will take over the duties of immunizing children under the state’s Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.

Through the VFC program, vaccine is made available at no charge to enrolled public and private health care providers for eligible children, according to the Department of Health and Hospitals web page.

Children 18 years of age and younger who are Medicaid eligible, uninsured, American Indian or native Alaskan are eligible for VFC.

But even if the immunizations themselves remain free, pediatricians will probably charge for an office visit—particularly those who do not accept Medicaid patients.

The cuts to the program were included in the Executive Budget presented to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget on Feb. 22. “One of the items included (in the budget) was restructuring of the administration of the DHH Office of Public Health’s (OPH) Vaccines for Children program,” said a statement released by DHH on Wednesday.

This is the man who calls himself a committed Catholic by the way and is hyper “pro-life”.

A good portion of Jindal’s ALEC-inspired laws are being stopped by the courts here in Louisiana by Republican judges. Just this month, his attempt to eliminate teacher tenure in public schools was thwarted.  He’s been in a hurry to shove as much stuff as possible before the 2016 presidential pre-election season starts.  He’s obviously courting the corporate and billionaire donors who want our country to look a loose affiliation of corporate-owned plantations.  Just keep watching him because many of these same things are popping up in states run by Republican governors.   Here’s a great rundown of Jindal’s agenda as well as a focus on how he’s becoming increasingly unpopular here in Louisiana.  We know he’s trying to take this stuff nationwide even though he says he’s focused on Louisiana.

He’s pushing to eliminate all corporate and personal income taxes, in favor of sales tax increases. He’s refused to expand Medicaid under Obama’s health-care overhaul, and he’s dismantling the state’s unique public hospital system, in no small part through his control over the leadership of the Louisiana State University System that runs the health-care enterprise. He has privatized parts of the Medicaid insurance program for the poor along with state workers’ health-care plan.

He’s dramatically cut the number of state workers, though mostly by issuing contracts to pay private firms to do the same work. He’s created one of the nation’s largest school voucher programs, with a price tag of $25 million this year and more than 4,900 students enrolled.

Yet for all his criticism of a big federal government, Jindal has approved its excess and accepted its bounty. As a congressman, he supported deficit budgets under President George W. Bush. Jindal, like every other governor, used federal stimulus money – provided through an Obama law that Jindal assailed – to balance his state budget for at least two years and, in many instances, he traveled to small towns to hand out checks to local government leaders, while sidestepping the explanation that the dollars came from federal coffers.

As many program cuts as Jindal has pushed in Louisiana, he’s feuded with his fellow Republicans in the Legislature who say he’s not done enough.

Jindal’s state government helped spend billions of dollars in federal rebuilding aid after multiple hurricanes, including Katrina. Louisiana just hosted the Super Bowl in a publicly owned stadium restored and upgraded with taxpayer money.

I know you all probably get a bit tired of my rants on this guy, but really, I’ve never seen one person destroy so many people’s lives in such a short time.  This is probably the most important part of the HuffPo piece that I just cited by Bill Barrow and Melinda DeSlatte.

Over his five years in office, Jindal has traveled to three dozen states to collect campaign dollars, meet voters and help other Republican candidates. He’s tapped into an extensive network of GOP fundraising and consulting firms that could help launch future political campaigns and built political relationships across key presidential states like Iowa and New Hampshire. And, as he pushes his tax overhaul, he’s hired former communications aides who worked for Romney and Mike Huckabee.

He’s trying to break into prime time and I’m joining as many of my Louisiana Krewe as possible to warn you all.  This man needs to be taken out of public disservice.

The Tax Payer-Funded Dumbing of America

jesus_raptors It’s hard to believe that we’re living in a political environment where elected officials are bemoaning waste in all levels of government while sending so many public funds and assets to underwrite religious indoctrination and profit private businesses.  Southern states are the bottom crawlers of any measurement of academic outcomes. My state of Louisiana is no exception.  Texas is definitely a problem.  However, it’s a national problem so those of you that live in other parts of the country shouldn’t feel smug or think it couldn’t happen to your children or grandchildren.  Two fellow Louisianans–Melissa Harris Perry and Zack Kopplin– have found that vouchers spread creationism.  That cannot be good for a future that’s dependent on educated people who need to know real science.  Let’s examine exactly what our tax dollars are funding.

First, here’s the results of Zack’s study.  Zack is currently studying at Rice University.

I first began investigating creationist school vouchers as my part of my fight against creationism in my home state of Louisiana. Over the past few months, I’ve learned creationist vouchers aren’t just a Louisiana problem—they’re an American problem. School vouchers are, as James Gill recently wrote in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “the answer to a creationist’s prayer.”

Liberty Christian School, in Anderson, Indiana, has field trips to the Creation Museum and students learn from the creationist A Beka curriculum. Kingsway Christian School, in Avon, Indiana, also has Creation Museum field trips. Mansfield Christian School, in Ohio, teaches science through the creationist Answers in Genesis website, run by the founder of the Creation Museum. The school’s Philosophy of Science page says, “the literal view of creation is foundational to a Biblical World View.”  All three of these schools, and more than 300 schools like them, are receiving taxpayer money.

So far, I have documented 310 schools, in nine states and the District of Columbia that are teaching creationism, and receiving tens of millions of dollars in public money through school voucher programs.

There is no doubt that there are hundreds more creationist voucher schools that have yet to be identified. The more than 300 CreationismWitchDoctorschools I have already found are those that have publicly stated on their websites that they teach creationism or use creationist curricula.

There are hundreds more voucher schools, across the country, that are self-identified Christian academies, that appear very similar in philosophy to the ones I’ve identified in my research as teaching creationism. These schools may not blatantly advertise that they teach creationism on their websites, or often don’t even have a website, but there is a good chance that hundreds more voucher schools are also teaching our children creationism. Some states, Arizona and Mississippi, haven’t even released lists of schools participating in their voucher programs for the public to audit.

Here are a few highlights from creationist voucher schools I have identified:

  • The Beverly Institute in Jacksonville, Florida, teaches “Evidence of a Flood,” and “Evidence against Evolution,” and ”The Evolution of Man: A Mistaken Belief.”
  • Creekside Christian Academy in McDonough, Georgia says,“The universe, a direct creation of God, refutes the man-made idea of evolution. Students will be called upon to see the divine order of creation and its implications on other subject areas.
  • Life Christian Academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma says their life science class will “lead the student to recognize that God created all living things and that these living things are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Evolution is taught only in history class, where students “evaluate the theory of evolution and its flaws.” The school uses the creationist Bob Jones and CSI curriculums.
  • The principal of the Claiborne Christian School, in West Monroe, Louisiana, says in a school newsletter, “Our position at CCS on the age of the Earth and other issues is that any theory that goes against God’s Word is in error.” She also claims that scientists are “sinful men” trying to explain the world “without God” so they don’t have to be “morally accountable to Him.”
  • Trinity Academy, in Gary, uses the creationist A Beka curriculum and says it “presents the universe as the direct creation of God and refutes the man-made idea of evolution.”
  • Rocky Bayou Christian School, in Niceville, Florida, says in its section on educational philosophy, “God mandates that children be discipled for Christ. They must be trained in the biblical world view which honors Jehovah, the sovereign Creator of the universe. It recognizes that man was created in the image of God” and says “Man is presumed to be an evolutionary being shaped by matter, energy, and chance… God commands His people not to teach their children the way of the heathen.”
  • Wisconsin Lutheran High School, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, says in its biology syllabus that it teaches, “evolutionists are ‘stuck’ because they have no god, therefore they must believe in evolution” and “young earth evidence a disaster to evolutionists.”

This year, we may see even more creationist school vouchers. Both Tennessee and Texas are considering passing voucher programs. Indiana and Georgia may expand their programs.

CreationismJobsWe’ve seen some horrible examples what now passes as “science” in Louisiana thanks to the LSEA or the Lousiana Science Education Act pushed and signed by Bobby Jindal and some of the whackier senators in the Louisiana Legislature in 2008.  You can learn more about the law itself in the youtube. We’re not the only state that’s having problems now with taxpayer funded religious screeds.

The Texas Freedom Network has documented examples in Texas.  Texas passed a law that lets schools teach bible courses under the guise of discussing the importance of religion in history and literature.  They don’t even have vouchers draining funds to their evangelical madrassas yet.  It’s in the works. Right now, all this is going on in regular public schools. The stories from TFNEF are not very pretty and includes a lot of students basically getting lessons in anti-Semitism.  Here’s some examples of what they’ve found being taught in Texas. 

Today the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund released a report, authored by a religious studies professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, that examines what students are learning in the 57 school districts and three charter schools that teach Bible courses. Examples from Texas public schools:

  • Instructional material in two school districts teach that racial diversity today can be traced back to Noah’s sons, a long-discredited claim that has been a foundational component of some forms of racism.
  • Religious bias is common, with most courses taught from a Protestant — often a conservative Protestant — perspective. One course, for example, assumes Christians will at some point be “raptured.” Materials include a Venn diagram showing the pros and cons of theories that posit the rapture before the returning Jesus’ 1,000-year reign and those that place it afterward. In many courses, the perspectives of Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Jews are often left out.
  • Anti-Jewish bias — intentional or not — is not uncommon. Some courses even portray Judaism as a flawed and incomplete religion that has been replaced by Christianity.
  • Many courses suggest or openly claim that the Bible is literally true. “The Bible is the written word of God,” students are told in one PowerPoint presentation. Some courses go so far as to suggest that the Bible can be used to verify events in history. One district, for example, teaches students that the Bible’s historical claims are largely beyond question by listing biblical events side by side with historical developments from around the globe.
  • Course materials in numerous classes are designed to evangelize rather than provide an objective study of the Bible’s influence. A book in one district makes its purpose clear in the preface: “May this study be of value to you. May you fully come to believe that ‘Jesus is the Christ, the son of God.’ And may you have ‘life in His name.’”
  • A number of courses teach students that the Bible proves Earth is just 6,000 years old.
  • Students are taught that the United States is a Christian nation founded on the Christian biblical principles taught in their classrooms.
  • Academic rigor is so poor that many courses rely mostly on memorization of Bible verses and factoids from Bible stories rather than teaching students how to analyze what they are studying. One district relies heavily on Bible cartoons from Hanna-Barbera for its high school class. Students in another district spend two days watching what lesson plans describe a “the historic documentary Ancient Aliens,” which presents “a new interpretation of angelic beings described as extraterrestrials.”

How could such courses have gone so wrong? The 2007 law included numerous guidelines designed to help public schools create academically rigorous and constitutionally appropriate courses. But the Legislature failed to appropriate funding to develop in-service training for teachers of Bible courses, and most school districts simply ignored the requirement that teachers get such training. Moreover, the State Board of Education — under the control of religious conservatives at the time — refused to adopt serious curriculum standards to help guide school districts as they planned their courses.

Jindal’s voucher experiment was recently found unconstitutional but not for the reasons that you think.  It was basically a technicality of funding and educational funding guidelines prescribed in the state’s constitution that got the law thrown out.  Address this issue and the vouchers could stick and stay.  Here’s some of the more recent news concerning what’s draining tax payer funds and passing as ‘education’ in Louisiana.

Jindal defended vouchers without once using the oft-toxic term, instead calling them scholarships, or putting them under the broader umbrella of school choice. “It is my sincere hope that what we are now putting in motion in Louisiana can be done across the country,” Jindal said. “I believe we’ve got an economic and a moral imperative to provide school choice and a quality education to every child, every student in America.”

Jindal made the case for making vouchers bipartisan. “I do not accept the notion that equal opportunity in public education should be a partisan issue,” Jindal said. Vouchers have been a third-rail policy among liberals, causing the Obama administration to do rhetorical summersaults. They’re controversial among liberals because they funnel tax dollars to private institutions — often, parochial schools that teach religion. In Louisiana, the private schools accepting voucher money have been found to teach about both creationism and the existence of the mythical Loch Ness monster.

Additionally, the schools that receive vouchers are not subjected to basic standards required of public schools AND many don’t even meet basic federal standards for basic services to special needs students.

Jindal said private schools in and near New Orleans that accepted vouchers saw more growth in student proficiency rates recently than schools statewide. (Proficiency rates are rarely reliable, since they measure two different groups of students.) Jindal also asserted that the vouchers serve all students. “It’s the money of a grandmother who wants to make sure her special education grandbaby gets the education she needs,” he said.

But according to public records, several private schools that opened their doors to voucher students with special needs had no services for such students. For example, the St. Angela Merici school’s application indicated it had no services for students with autism, mental disabilities or learning disabilities.

As for Jindal’s claims about high performing “charter” schools. I can offer you just a few links that show charter schools really aren’t performing as Jindal claims.   Again, the biggest problem is that these schools do not effectively address children with disabilities.  Schools that don’t address children with the highest needs can hardly be called anything but dysfunctional and discriminatory.  There are currently many lawsuits and stories concerning children with special needs and various charter schools.  These schools are cherry-picking students.

Families have attempted to place their disabled children in schools, but they have either been told that the school doesn’t have special-needs services or been told, gently, that their child would be better served at another school. These problems occur often enough that a due-process complaint has been filed against the Louisiana Department of Education on behalf of 4,500 students in the city with disabilities.

These issues have conveniently been left out of a number of Pollyanna-ish media reports touting the messianic nature of charter schools, and how Hurricane Katrina was a “blessing” to New Orleans’ children. A recent article at The Grio, “New Orleans Charter Schools Redefine Education Reform,” reads: “The standardized test results for fourth, eighth and tenth grade public school students have gone up since the storm hit in 2005. This may have something to do with the increasing presence of charter schools, though it is not clear.”

But test scores in those grades were already rising before the storm hit. Between 2003 and 2005, fourth-grade math results grew by 9 percent. Between 2007 and 2009, those results grew by 9.5 percent. In eighth-grade math, the growth in the percentage of kids scoring above basic levels between 2003 and 2005 was greater than the gains between 2007 and 2009. There has been a slight improvement in eighth-grade English and in math at the high school graduate level, but in both categories, the improvement in test scores builds on progress that was already occurring before the mass chartering of New Orleans.

We’ve also had problems with charter schools deliberately cheating on tests.

There’s a natural conflict there, experts say, in that most school districts are less than eager to announce they’ve found corruption in their midst.

At charter schools, the conflict might be more acute, some say, because charter boards play a role in investigations. Board members can be recruited by a school’s administrators, which might make it even more difficult for them to take a hard look at allegations.

“If you are committed to finding out the truth, you need individuals who are not connected in any way to the individuals involved,” said Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing.

In Louisiana’s current setup, there is “a conflict of interest all the way up the line,” and not just as it relates to charter schools, said Gregory Cizek, a professor of educational measurement at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “No one has a really strong interest in investigating in a really searching manner,” he said.

That’s why some states have started putting such investigations under the jurisdiction of the state attorney general’s office or another independent entity, he said.

Asking the school’s own board of directors or district to handle a probe, Cizek said, is like having the IRS tell a taxpayer: “We have a problem with your tax return. Would you look it over?”

Studies of Arizona charter schools have found instances of tax payer “fleecing”.

In her examination of Arizona’s 50 largest nonprofit charter schools and all of Arizona’s nonprofit charter schools with assets exceeding $10 million, Ryman found “at least 17 contracts or arrangements, totaling more than $70 million over five years and involving about 40 school sites, in which money from the non-profit charter school went to for-profit or non-profit companies run by board members, executives or their relatives.” That says to me that in Arizona, at least, charter-school corruption isn’t the exception. It’s the rule. And that’s just in the nonprofit charter schools. Documentation for the for-profit schools is not publicly available. What are the odds that charter-school proprietors operating in the dark are less inclined to enrich themselves at public expense?

The self-dealing is entirely legal. All you have to do is get yourself an exemption from state laws requiring that goods and services be bid competitively. Clearly these exemptions aren’t difficult to acquire, because 90 percent of Arizona’s charter holders—not 90 percent of the charter schools surveyed by the Arizona Republic, but 90 percent of all the state’s charter schools—have acquired permanent exemptions from state competitive bidding requirements. No exemption has ever been withdrawn by the state. If you are a charter-school officer and you stand to benefit personally from some financial transaction with the school, you may not vote on whether to make the purchase. But that’s about the only rule.

The result? “The schools’ purchases from their own officials,” Ryman writes, “range from curriculum and business consulting to land leases and transportation services. A handful of non-profit schools outsource most of their operations to a board member’s for-profit company.”

Clearly, our state and many others have set up systems rife with self-dealing, cherry-picking and curricula that should stand in clear violation of the first amendment.  My bottom line here?  If any of these school reform initiatives come your way in your state, fight them like hell. They are just simply ways to bust teacher unions, deliver tax dollars to corporate cronies, and fund radical evangelical madrassas and religious indoctrination in the guise of science, literature, and history.  Of course, this means if you have a Republican governor, be prepared to vote and fight.

Ann Romney’s “Revealing” Interview With Good Housekeeping Magazine

Good Housekeeping has published interviews with Michelle Obama and Ann Romney. The editors call the interview with Romney “revealing,” and I’d have to agree–though probably for different reasons than theirs.

The headline revelation has to be that Ann Romney wants to “throw out the” education “system.”

GH: Can you tell me, what campaign issue is closest to your heart?

AR: I’ve been a First Lady of the State. I have seen what happens to people’s lives if they don’t get a proper education. And we know the answers to that. The charter schools have provided the answers. The teachers’ unions are preventing those things from happening, from bringing real change to our educational system. We need to throw out the system.

Romney doesn’t elaborate on what “answers” the charter schools have provided or which improvements teachers unions are preventing. But a number of studies have found problems with charter schools, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that students’ test scores are better overall in charter schools than public schools.

As for the teachers unions, I realize that Ann’s husband would like to eliminate all unions and reduce workers’ pay as much as possible. Certainly privatizing education through charter schools would be a good way to eliminate teachers unions.

Ann Romney was certainly a lot more explicit about the goal of ending public schools in this interview than her husband has been. Perhaps Mitt isn’t worried about the reactions of readers of Good Housekeeping. He probably thinks they’re just a bunch of silly airheads.

Ann gave several other answers that I found pretty stunning. In response to a question on why her husband should be president, Ann said:

I’d say because of his life experience, starting with the example [his father] George Romney set of being successful in his family and business and then serving in a political sphere. [He showed] what a difference being involved in politics makes. The formula from his perspective was, you never get involved in politics unless you’re financially secure and your children are raised. So when our children were older and Mitt had made a bit of money, there was his father’s example that you find ways to serve and give back.

So I guess anyone who isn’t a millionaire shouldn’t run for office? Or does “a bit of money” mean hundreds of millions to Ann? Clearly Obama shouldn’t have run with those two young daughters! Back to Ann’s pontificating:

That’s also what drew us to the Olympics. Mitt gave up everything, walked away from a very lucrative position [to lead the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics]. It was just a little square inch of light that you walk into saying, “I think this is the right thing to do.” You get that confidence from intuition and prayer…all of those things where no one’s going to give you a blueprint of how life is going to turn out.

“Mitt gave up everything?” WTF?! At this point it should be clear to anyone who is paying attention that Mitt Romney never really left Bain Capital. The Boston Globe reported in July that Romney didn’t resign from Bain in 1999 as he has claimed, but instead took a leave of absence and only negotiated his severance package in 2002 when he decided to run for governor of Massachusetts. The severance package kept him earning money from current Bain investments for ten more years. Romney was even listed as CEO of Bain on the Olympics website and during public appearances at the time. Even now Romney is still profiting from the company he founded.

Ann Romney is every bit as full of shit as her husband is. She says that Mitt would help the economy by “getting rid of regulation,” and “using our natural resources,” (meaning open up national parks to oil drilling) but she acknowledges that in places like China where there is no environmental regulation,

the pollution and the air quality is just abysmal, and people are having to live in that. You understand how important it is, but you also have to recognize that we have to balance those things.

Right. We “have to balance” the rights of the rich to feed their endless greed with the rights of the 99.9% of Americans to clean air and water.

Ann says that as First Lady she would continue to work with at-risk young people. I didn’t realize she had done that, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia,

Ann Romney has been involved in a number of children’s charities, including having been a director of the inner city-oriented Best Friends, which seeks to assist inner-city adolescent girls. She advocated a celibacy-based approach to the prevention of teen pregnancy. She worked extensively with the Ten Point Coalition in Boston and with other groups that promoted better safety and opportunities for urban youths. She was an honorary board member of Families First, a parent education program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was a volunteer instructor of middle-school girls at the multicultural Mother Caroline Academy in Boston.

She has said her interest in helping underprivileged children dates back to when she and her five boys saw a vehicle carrying a group of boys to a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services detention center. She began volunteering for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay soon after that, and by 2002 was serving as one of that organization’s board members. She was on the Faith in Action Committee for the United Way, working with local religious establishments to assist at-risk children and helping to found United Way Faith and Action. Earlier, by 1996, she was a member of the Massachusetts Advisory Board of Stand for Children.

Please note that Stand for Children is an organization that has worked to reduce protections for teachers and undermine the power of teachers unions.

A couple more of Ann’s answers really bugged me. There was the one in which she praises Mitt for saying it was OK if Ann couldn’t cook all his meals for him when she was suffering from MS:

You have to find something that’ll pull you away from those scary places. And it was my husband telling me, “I don’t care if you’re in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. I don’t care whether you make dinner; I can eat cold cereal and toast. As long as we’re together, as long as you’re here, we’re going to be OK.”

Why couldn’t Mitt cook his own damn meals? How hard is it to open a cookbook and learn the basics? If he just couldn’t bring himself to do that, he could hire a cook–and other servants as well–to help his sick wife. They were hardly struggling to make ends meet!

But here’s the most annoying statement Ann made in the interview:

GH: Who are your heroes? Your role models? Don’t say your husband, even if it’s true. (Laughing)

AR: I would say Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa…and Hillary Clinton. She has been through so much; she just kept going. Now she’s doing a great job as Secretary of State.

Mother Theresa was a hypocrite just like Ann, I buy that one. But I don’t believe for one minute that she agrees with Eleanor Roosevelt or Hillary Clinton on anything.

Monday Reads

Good Morning!

There are so many ways that my city and state are being used as an incubator for unholy ideas that it’s not even funny.  I’ve got a series of rather depressing links this morning.  However, I think we should all think about the common thread here.  Didn’t many of our immigrant ancestors come here hoping that this new country would not fall prey to an aristocratic group of assholes who inherit stuff just because of the privilege of birth? Do these news items strike you as something you’d read about in a country founded on the idea of government by the people instead of government over the people? Let’s begin our search for the ways plutocracy is changing our lives.

Our public school system in New Orleans has been decimated and turned into one big charter school education experiment.  Part of the “detritus” that the state washed out with the Katrina waters were our teachers. They were just some of the folks that were thrown over when a natural disaster was turned into a way to turn a purple state red.   They’re getting their day in court.  Will they really get Justice? A recent court decision has given many fired teachers some back pay. But, justice runs deeper than a few dollars to teachers.  What about the children set adrift in libertarian, for profit incubators that cherry pick the best and leave the rest far behind?

But aside from recompense for “disaster leave,” New Orleans public schools will remain adrift in a flood of drastic reforms. After Katrina, the city became an incubator for non-unionized charter schoolsand “experimental” restructuring plans.

But rather than “saving” New Orleans schools from failure, the overhaul has aggravated divides between black and white, wealthy and poor, by pushing schools to operate more like corporations.

Maynard Sanders at the Bankstreet College of Education wrote last year about the New Orleans Recovery School District as a case study in de facto segregation between “selective schools” and those serving poor students of color. Often, he added, the charters that many have hailed as an emblem of progress “are run like private schools by self-appointed boards without any parent, community, or teacher representation… There is no transparency in charter school operations, finances or hiring while they receive public money and operate rent free in public school buildings.”

One major plank of the agenda for restructuring New Orleans schools–which reflects national reform trends promoted by the Obama administration–is “decentralization” of the system and the expansion of “choice” of schools across districts. But critics say a decentralized school system can become dangerously fractured, and choice is constrained by feudal social barriers.

Here’s proof that it’s just not enough to elect any woman to an office.  Jan Brewer—the throwback governor of Arizona–is at it again.  She’s asking SCOTUS to overturn a ruling allowing benefits for same sex partners.  Republicans are routinely asking courts to remove rights from citizens and assign them a lesser-than status.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) has requested that the Supreme Court overturn a ruling that allows state employees to keep their same-sex partners on their benefits, including health insurance.

Brewer filed a petition for a writ of certiorari on July 2, requesting that the high court overturn the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s September 2011 ruling in Diaz vs. Brewer. The pushback comes three months after the Ninth Circuit denied a request by Arizona state lawyers to re-hear the case with an 11-judge panel.

Last September, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling prevented Arizona from implementing a law that would have barred state employees’ same-sex partners from remaining on their health plans. The ruling affirmed a lower court’s decision to place a preliminary injunction on the law.

Black Americans will likely suffer long term consequences for the financial damage caused by the subprime crisis. Think of all the billions of dollars spent on bailing out banks while huge numbers of families have lost the hope of ever owning their own home again.  Will property ownership once again be the province of the aristocrats?

For blacks, the picture since the recession has been particularly grim. They disproportionately held subprime mortgages during the housing boom and are facing foreclosure in outsize numbers. That is raising fears among consumer advocates, academics and federal regulators that the credit scores of black Americans have been systematically damaged, haunting their financial futures.

The private companies that calculate credit scores say they do not consider race in their formulas. Lenders also say it is not a factor when deciding who qualifies for a loan; federal laws prohibit the practice. Still, studies have shown a persistent gap between the credit scores of white and black Americans, and many worry that it is only getting wider.

The impact of strict voter ID laws pushed by ALEC and Republicans is having an impact and could block thousands from voting. It’s all about vote suppression and electing Romney. No better way to ensure your interests are enshrined in law than through disenfranchisement of minorities, the elderly, and the poor, is there?

The numbers suggest that the legitimate votes rejected by the laws are far more numerous than are the cases of fraud that advocates of the rules say they are trying to prevent. Thousands more votes could be in jeopardy for this November, when more states with larger populations are looking to have similar rules in place.

More than two dozen states have some form of ID requirement, and 11 of those passed new rules over the past two years largely at the urging of Republicans who say they want to prevent fraud.

Democrats and voting rights groups fear that ID laws could suppress votes among people who may not typically have a driver’s license, and disproportionately affect the elderly, poor and minorities. While the number of votes is a small percentage of the overall total, they have the potential to sway a close election. Remember that the 2000 presidential race was decided by a 537-vote margin in Florida.

A Republican leader in Pennsylvania said recently that the state’s new ID law would allow Romney to win the state over President Barack Obama.

Supporters of the laws cite anecdotal cases of fraud as a reason that states need to do more to secure elections, but fraud appears to be rare. As part of its effort to build support for voter ID laws, the Republican National Lawyers Association last year published a report that identified some 400 election fraud prosecutions over a decade across the entire country. That’s not even one per state per year.

ID laws would not have prevented many of those cases because they involved vote-buying schemes in local elections or people who falsified voter registrations.

Susie takes on George Will at C&L.  He evidently thinks all this heat is just typical balmy summer weather and wants us all to get over it.  Yes, we’re all just whining about the weather and it’s all in our little heads.  Read her classy zing!

This is how broken, distorted and hackish our public political dialogue has become: George Will, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist (his record for coasting on that one accomplishment continues), actually responds to concerns about the national’s killer heat wave with “it’s summer, get over it!”

Not only is this disingenuous, it’s an outright lie. Will knows better (for one thing, in his world, “summer” is a verb, not a noun) but just doesn’t care. His job is to rubber stamp whatever comes out of the right-wing noise machine, no matter how absurd, far-fetched, or (most importantly) harmful. George Will gets his money no matter what, and that’s all he cares about …

Meanwhile, Romney donors are proving as enlightened as ever.  Where else but in the Hamptons?

A money manager in a green Jeep said it was time for Romney to “up his game and be more reactive.” So far, said the donor (who would not give his name because he said it would hurt his business), Romney has had a “very timid offense.”

A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. “I don’t think the common person is getting it,” she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. “Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.

“We’ve got the message,” she added. “But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies — everybody who’s got the right to vote — they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income — one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.”

Gee.  I wonder whose child got into the ivies because of legacy slots instead of brains this year?  Look Mavis!  It’s the Upper Class Twit of the Year show! Can they walk along the straight line without falling over? Don’t forget to kick the beggar!

Speaking of Louisiana, here’s Bobby Jindal’s plantation economy at work.

It is time to banish the idea that forced labor and sweatshop exploitation are problems of bygone eras or distant countries. These conditions exist within America’s borders. On June 29, Wal-Mart said it had suspended one of its seafood suppliers in Louisiana for violating its workplace standards. The action came as an advocacy group for foreign guest workers announced that it had uncovered appalling abuses at the company, C. J.’s Seafood, and at a dozen other Wal-Mart suppliers too.

The workers said the company forced them to work 16- to 24-hour days, and 80-hour weeks, at illegally low rates, sometimes locked in the plant, peeling crayfish until their hands felt dead. Some were threatened with beatings. Federal agencies and Wal-Mart are investigating the charges; C. J.’s Seafood did not respond to The Times’s request for comment.

These workers are not unauthorized immigrants toiling off the books. They came here legally under the H-2B program, which grants visas to low-skilled seasonal workers in industries that supposedly cannot find enough Americans to do the job. The program has been dogged by charges of wage abuses, fraud and involuntary servitude, including in investigations by the Government Accountability Office.

New rules protecting workers’ rights were supposed to have taken effect in April, but have been blocked after business owners sued the Department of Labor and a group of senators from both parties shamefully voted to deny the department funding to enforce them.

Under the rules, employers would be barred from confiscating immigration documents and blacklisting workers who complained about working conditions and consulted with unions. Employers would have to try harder to hire Americans and cover migrants’ transportation costs and visa fees. Though the new rules do not go far enough (they should allow workers to change jobs if employers abuse them), they are a crucial step forward.

So, those are my suggestions this morning.  I really didn’t set out to weave this story but rather noticed it evolve as I looked for things.  Doesn’t it look like we’re devolving into a lesser country? What’s on your reading and blogging list today?