Plenty of links for you this morning, so let us just get down to it…
In the New York Times this weekend, more information was reported about the DOJ investigation into Fox News reporter James Rosen, as well as other DOJ press investigations during the Obama administration: Leaks Inquiries Show How Wide a Net Is Cast
Even before the F.B.I. conducted 550 interviews of officials and seized the phone records of Associated Press reporters in a leak investigation connected to a 2012 article about a Yemen bomb plot, agents had sought the same reporters’ sources for two other articles about terrorism.
The emerging details of these and other cases show just how wide a net the Obama administration has cast in its investigations into disclosures of government secrets, querying hundreds of officials across the federal government and even some of their foreign counterparts.
The result has been an unprecedented six prosecutions and many more inquiries using aggressive legal and technical tactics. A vast majority of those questioned were cleared of any leaking.
You can read the rest of the article at that link, it is rather a long read.
There is one thing about all this Rosen stuff I do find interesting, this little tidbit reported by Tommy Christopher at Mediaite: DOJ Document Reveals Fox News Reporter James Rosen Wanted To Impact U.S. Foreign Policy
The emails revealed in the government’s affidavit appear to show, however, that James Rosen’s solicitation of government secrets wasn’t nearly so narrow. The affadavit describes how Rosen assigned himself the codename “Alex,” and Mr. Kim the moniker “Leo,” and in their early contacts, explained the noble aims of their prospective relationship:
Thanks Leo. What I am interested in, as you might expect, is breaking new ahead of my competitors.
Sure, that sounds bad, as if James Rosen would jeopardize America’s contacts in a hostile foreign government just to get some eyeballs away from his competition, but surely, every reporter has this competitive urge. Although it was the first thing Rosen mentioned, there was another consideration. After outlining the kinds of secret information he hoped to get from “Leo,” Rosen summed up his intention to… report the news objectively? To serve the public?
Let’s break some new, and expose muddle-headed policy when we see it – or force the administration’s hand to go in the right direction, if possible.
Wait, what? Is that what a News reporter is supposed to do, force the administration’s hand to guide American foreign policy to the reporter’s whim? Separate and apart from the DOJ investigation, this email seems to indicate that James Rosen is not just a News reporter, but an activist intent on pushing his own agenda, with the stated goal of manipulating U.S. foreign policy.
Enough on that, check out the latest legislation getting passed in Dakinikat’s state: The Volokh Conspiracy » Louisiana Set to Criminalize Publishing That Someone Has a Concealed Carry Permit
The bill is HB8, though there’s a Senate amendment; apparently, the Legislature plans to enact the bill as amended. The bill bars the government from releasing information about who has applied for or gotten a concealed carry permit, and the Legislature certainly can impose such restrictions on the government itself. But then it also criminalizes speech by everyone else (I merge the House Bill and the adopted Senate amendment):
Absent a valid court order requiring the release of information or unless a recipient of a concealed handgun permit is charged with a felony offense involving the use of a handgun, it shall be [a misdemeanor] … to release, disseminate, or make public in any manner any information contained in an application for a concealed handgun permit or any information regarding the identity of any person who applied for or received a concealed handgun permit issued pursuant to this Section.
So blogging that you happen to know that a gun control advocate actually has a concealed carry permit himself would be a crime. Or say that you know someone has a concealed carry permit, and that person is sued for supposedly making death threats, or is criminally prosecuted for a felony offense involving a shotgun, or otherwise seems dangerous and unstable — mentioning the permit in publicly discussing the situation would be a crime. Mentioning applicants’ names in giving examples of cases where you think a concealed handgun permit was wrongly issued, or wrongly denied, would be a crime, too. So would talking about a person’s concealed carry permit in a biography of the person, or in a newspaper or magazine story that is trying to give a sense of the kind of person he is.
There is more analysis at the link.
That bridge collapse in Washington could have been a lot worse, at least there were no fatalities. Click here on this link for a infographic on bridges in the US: Bridge Collapses And Structurally Deficient Bridges Across The Country (INFOGRAPHIC)
In his State of the Union address this year, President Obama urged repairs of “the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.” He proposed a plan called “Fix it First,” which would have invested $50 billion in repairing transportation infrastructure, starting with the most urgent repairs.
Instead, Congress failed to avoid the sequester and transportation repair spending faces a $1.9 billion cut.
The collapse of the Interstate 5 Bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State on Thursday once again sounded alarms over our nation’s aging infrastructure. While this incident had no fatalities, there are hundreds of other bridges in Washington with worse sufficiency scores and more than 150,000 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges across the nation.
And when this bridge collapsed, there was another article that caught my attention as reported by a local Seattle news station: 911 Dispatcher Tells Woman About To Be Sexually Assaulted There Are No Cops To Help Her Due To Budget Cuts « CBS Seattle
An Oregon woman was told by a 911 dispatcher that authorities wouldn’t be able be able to help her as her ex-boyfriend broke into her place because of budget cuts.
Oregon Public Radio reports that an unidentified woman called 911 during a weekend in August 2012 while Michael Bellah was breaking into her place. Her call was forwarded to Oregon State Police because of lay-offs at the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office only allows the department to be open Monday through Friday.
“Uh, I don’t have anybody to send out there,” the 911 dispatcher told the woman. “You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?”
The woman told the dispatcher that Bellah previously attacked her and left her hospitalized a few weeks prior to the latest incident. The dispatcher stayed on the phone with the woman for more than 10 minutes before the sexual assault took place.
“Once again it’s unfortunate you guys don’t have any law enforcement out there,” the dispatcher said, according to Oregon Public Radio.
The woman responded: “Yeah, it doesn’t matter, if he gets in the house I’m done.”
Police say Bellah choked the woman and sexually assaulted her. He was arrested by Oregon State Police following the incident.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t have another victim,” Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilberson told Oregon Public Radio. “If you don’t pay the bill, you don’t get the service.”
The sheriff’s department had to cut 23 deputies and the entire major crimes unit after it lost a multi-million dollar federal subsidy, according to Oregon Public Radio. There are now only six deputies left.
The sheriff’s department even put out a press release warning domestic violence victims to “consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services.”
You can read more about this and hear the 911 calls at the OPB report quoted by the CBS article: Josephine County Tax Levy Would Add Deputies, Fund The Jail » News » OPB
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma…look what got defunded on the quiet: Oklahoma Senate Votes To Defund Planned Parenthood Two Days After Tornado
In the wake of one of the most destructive tornadoes in history, Oklahoma state senators passed a bill on Wednesday that would effectively defund Planned Parenthood.
Senate Bill 900, which re-allocates family planning funds to public providers and hospitals instead of private providers like Planned Parenthood, passed by a vote of 33 to 8. The state Senate was able to pass the bill somewhat under the radar because it was not posted on Wednesday’s legislative agenda.
Planned Parenthood operates five clinics in Oklahoma and serves about 8,400 men and women there a year. The family planning provider has faced scrutiny from Republicans in recent years because it provides abortions, even though it cannot use public family planning funding to pay for abortion services.
State Rep. Doug Cox (R), a family physician, said he will vote against the legislation when the House takes it up on Thursday. “To defund a program like Planned Parenthood would be a mistake,” he told The Huffington Post in a phone interview. “They perform a valuable service as far as breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, parenting classes, many things that benefit our state that we’re sorely in need of.”
Cox said he believes that some of his Republican colleagues in the House also support Planned Parenthood, but they still feel pressured to vote for bills that would defund it. “I have people who tell me they feel the way I do, but are afraid to vote the way I do,” he said.
That is a real shame, too bad those GOP Reps don’t have the cahones to stand up to the PLUBs who got them into office.
On with the rest of the morning’s post after the jump…
I heard Bobby Jindal was a big hit at the Gridiron Club Dinner in Washington DC on Saturday night. Supposedly his speech was hilarious–comedy gold. Lynn Sweet of The Chicago Sun-Times gave it a rave review:
WASHINGTON–Proving once against that there are second acts in politics, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was a big hit Saturday night at the 128th annual Gridiron Club and Foundation dinner, more than making up for his disastrous 2009 State of the Union speech.
Which of course he used as fodder, since the best political humor is self-deprecating– and Jindal had an abundance of material.
Noting that some people ask him if he intends to run for president, Jindal said, “My answer is I have no plans to run. I have made that clear over and over again. In Iowa. In New Hampshire and in South Carolina,” he said, naming the states with the first caucus and primaries.
After all, he said with faux modesty, “What chance does a skinny guy with a dark complexion and a funny name have to get elected president of the United States.”
The crowd roared.
“The truth is, I am too skinny to run. At least that’s what my friend, Chris Christie, keeps telling me,” Jindal said of the overweight New Jersey Governor, also mentioned as a 2016 prospect.
On a roll, Jindal went on to compare himself with Obama and mock his own party.
He said earnestly that Obama and he had the “exact same campaign slogan years ago but unfortunately UPS sued both of us and made us stop using it. You remember our slogan, ‘What can Brown do for you?”‘
“Speaking of brown, I was hoping to see my good friend, John Boehner, here tonight,” Jindal said of Boehner, the House Speaker who is always tan. “We actually go to the same tanning salon here in Washington.”
Har har har. Are you laughing yet? Me neither. But it apparently went over big with the pols and journalists at “white tie and gown affair.” Chris Cillizza was so impressed with Jindal’s comedy routine that he requested and got a full transcript from the Governor’s staff. Here are a few more choice howlers:
They say this is a place where you can come and tell jokes about the President…poke fun at yourself…set political ambition aside and just generally say anything you want.
Kind of like the Romney campaign.
I spoke to Mitt the other day…told him that I was doing the Gridiron dinner…he said that 47 percent of you can’t take a joke.
Great to see the new Senator from Massachusetts – Elizabeth Warren. My staff tells me we’ve got a lot in common.
Well from one Indian politician to another, I want to wish you all the best in your new job.
I ran into Joe Biden earlier today. I don’t think he recognized me though. He asked me to go get him a Slurpee.
You know, sometimes I wonder where we would be without Vice President Biden. And then I realize: Pretty much exactly where we are right now.
I figured Jindal would take the opportunity to joke about the disaster area back in his home state–that giant Bayou Corne sinkhole in Assumption Parish. I searched through the whole transcript, but there was nary a word.
But a funny thing happened while Governor Jindal was in Washington DC. Environmental activist Erin Brockovitch paid a visit to Assumption Parish.
Relief is a word frequently heard around the Assumption Parish sinkhole, but as Bayou Corne residents will tell you, it’s not a word they use to describe their attitudes. But now the now 8-and-a half acre sinkhole has caught the attention of California based environmentalist Erin Brockovich.
On Saturday, hundreds of Bayou Corne residents packed into a community meeting to hear what Brockovich and California based attorney Tom Girardi plan to do to help them out.
Girardi has offered his legal services to any resident who decides to take further action against Texas Brine and all parties responsible for their troubles over the past seven months. Brockovich says litigation, if things come to that, could take months or even years to resolve. She says her role, as it has been for nearly two decades in dozens of cases like this one, would be to keep the community united.
“We as states all over America, need to be paying more attention to what the corporations are doing…old records, what we need to do to come in and see that disaster before it happens…and not wait until after it happens and then go and argue on the legislative floor for the, what, next two or three years,” said Brockovich.
Brockovich said before Saturday’s meeting, they were representing 50 residents in the Bayou Corne area. After the meeting dozens more stayed behind to decide if they would join the lawsuit.
Suddenly Bobby J. has decided he’ll go visit the sinkhole in his state for the very first time since the hole opened up last August. The announcement was maid in an “e-mail statement,” so it’s not clear if the Governor was actually in Louisiana at the time.
Something tells me when Jindal shows up, the residents of the area won’t be laughing.
Time to do your day job, Governor.
I 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.
It was a busy day for me yesterday, and as usual, I am late to catch up…because of this I am writing the post this morning in a fog. So if any of the links below are repeats, I am sorry.
Yesterday Boston Boomer wrote about the court battle as BP Goes on Trial over 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Well, there were also some new developments in that other environmental disaster in Louisiana known as the Assumption Parish Sinkhole. Increased seismic activity halts work at giant Louisiana sinkhole
Officials say they have put a hold on all work directly connected to the giant Louisiana sinkhole in Assumption Parish due to increased seismic activity.
The seismic monitoring in the past 24 hours turned up what appears to be an increase in the underground movement of fluids in the area of the failed Oxy 3 cavern.
Just like in the past, officials say the underground movement is also likely connected to trees falling into the sinkhole and an increase in hydrocarbon odors.
Analysts say even though there appears to be no additional significant threat to the general area, until the underground activity slows down again, operations directly on the sinkhole have been suspended.
The main sinkhole has reached more than 800 feet in diameter and the western wall continues to collapse.
Two weeks ago, officials reported about 5,000 square feet fell in on the southwest side of the sinkhole, officials call this sloughing.
The Texas Brine people say this is part of the stabilization process. I don’t know about the technical aspects of the whole thing…but as the BP trial gets underway, Assumption Parish residents turn to lawmakers, seeking buyouts of property near sinkhole
Frustrated Assumption Parish residents displaced by a massive sinkhole that has swallowed 9 acres of land near their homes asked lawmakers Tuesday to assist them in getting buyouts of their property.
People who packed a hearing of the Senate and House natural resources and environment committees described 200 days of disruption and uncertainty since an August evacuation order of 150 homes.
They talked of children moved from schools and scared of their own houses, retirement dreams upended and families struggling to pay two mortgages while they decide what to do with their future and with their now nearly-worthless property.
“This has taken too damn long and people need to be bought out. They can’t go back,” said Henry Dupre, an Assumption Parish police juror.
Dakinikat has written repeatedly about Jindal’s record in recent weeks, this op/ed from The Advocate focuses on his response to the big ass hole in Jindal’s backyard…Inside Report: Sinkhole critics: O, Governor, where art thou?
For months now, a vocal group of activists and residents has found fault with Gov. Bobby Jindal over his absence from the scene of the Bayou Corne sinkhole.
Why, they ask, has he not made the commonly seen leadership visit to a disaster area that, while brief, boosts morale and provides hope?
Sinkhole activist John Achee Jr., a regular critic of Jindal and state government’s handling of the sinkhole and salt dome regulation, leveled this complaint again during a Feb. 19 joint hearing of the House and Senate committees on Natural Resources.
He called Jindal’s absence “disheartening” and “very concerning.”
“This to me is unacceptable and cannot or should not be tolerated,” said Achee, a polarizing figure himself over his criticisms of Jindal and state and parish government.
In response, Jindal’s press office provided its answer, quoting the governor as saying he receives regular updates and that state agencies have put out abundant resources in response to the sinkhole under his orders.
No matter how many times your subordinates send them, though, news releases will never be the same as a handshake, a pat on the back and encouraging words directly from the governor.
This perceived inattention has given Jindal’s critics a useful symbol for the way, they say, state government has inadequately responded to the Assumption Parish disaster and regulated salt dome operators.
The absence has also fit neatly into the narrative of an insulated governor with eyes on Washington 2016 and not Louisiana 2013.
But these complaints, it seems, could be neutralized for most with one helicopter ride to the command post in Bayou Corne.
So why not?
Jindal’s press office did not respond to requests for comment.
It seems to me Jindal’s non-existent response should be no surprise to anyone who reads our blog regularly, but I don’t think a helicopter fly over is going to help things. That Op/Ed is written by David Mitchell, maybe Kat can fill us in on what she thinks about this other mark against her governor. When I see the horror stories out of Louisiana, it makes me feel my hell pit of Banjoland is a cakewalk.
Since we started this post on one GOP Gov with eyes on the White House, let us look at another governor who fancies himself as a possible candidate in 2016. Chris Christie Medicaid Plan To Offer Coverage To Poor New Jersey Residents
Christie, a potential 2016 presidential contender who is up for reelection this year, defied conservative opponents of Obamacare by embracing one of its key components when he announced his plan to the Democratic-controlled state legislature in Trenton. So far, more than a dozen Republican governors, including Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Perry of Texas, have declared their opposition to the Medicaid expansion.
“After considerable discussion and research, I have decided to participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. While we already have one of the most expansive and generous Medicaid programs in the nation, including the second highest eligibility rate for children, we have an opportunity to ensure that an even greater number of New Jerseyans who are at or near the poverty line will have access to critical health services beginning in January of 2014,” Christie said.
Expanding Medicaid in New Jersey would provide new health care coverage to an estimated 291,000 people through 2022, according to an analysis released by the Urban Institute and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in November. New Jersey would spend an additional $1.5 billion and receive $15.4 billion from the federal government to finance the expansion during that time period, the report predicted.
Even the folks at Hot Air are complaining about the big man from the Garden State. You can Google this next link, I just don’t have the energy to deal with trolls today. CPAC source: Christie wasn’t invited this year because he has a “limited future” in the GOP; Update: Sandy relief and Medicaid? « Hot Air
Hard to argue with that assessment today of all days, but … Mitt Romney’s also been invited this year. The future doesn’t get any more limited than that.
Also, since when is one’s prospects in the GOP a litmus test for whether you’re CPAC-worthy or not? Every time someone objects to GOPround’s exclusion, the rejoinder inevitably comes that it’s the “Conservative Political Action Conference,” not the “Republican Political Action Conference.” Okay, in that case, who cares about Christie’s future in the GOP? Either his ideas are conservative enough or they aren’t.
Verdict: They aren’t.
I think all those CPAC members are still pissed with Christie’s little sitcom, or after-school special, Barack and the Fat Man.
Guess Fox News hasn’t gotten the memo: Same Day Christie Embraces Obamacare, Fox’s Eric Bolling Tells Conservatives He’s Their 2016 Savior
Bolling advised his fellow Republicans that they must embrace Christie as the future leader of their party.
The Five hosts noted that Bill O’Reilly told Fox’s audience on Monday that the GOP needs a leader who can articulate a conservative message and “fight back” against the press in order to move the country to the right.
Andrea Tantaros warned that the GOP has a big challenge in the effort to “fight back dependency.” She said that the future political battles Republicans will have to wage will become harder as the populace becomes more comfortable with government-backed programs that ensure financial security.
“I hate all this,” Bolling said of infighting within the GOP about the future direction of the party. “They need to get together and form one party that has a big tent for everyone; whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, male, female.”
“Bill O’Reilly’s right,” added Bolling . “You need someone who’s charismatic. He’s got to be a leader. And, this one: the way O’Reilly puts it, ‘fight back the media jackals.’ That’s Christie.”
Bolling continued to make the case for Christie as the natural leader of the Republican Party moving into the next election cycle. However, he anticipated that the party’s conservative wing will have problems embracing Christie due to the unorthodox positions on issues like global warming and gun control.
I could make a comment about how anyone would have problems “embracing” Chris Christie, but since my ass is just slightly smaller than his, I won’t.
Okay, because I’m writing this post on the quick, here are a few other stories in link dump fashion. Let’s stick with US news, shall we?
Franklin Sain, a 42-year-old Colorado Springs man, was arrested last Friday for threatening Colorado lawmaker Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) over gun control legislation that she is currently sponsoring and that recently passed in the state House.
Franklin Sain is accused of threatening Fields and her daughter using racial and sexual slurs.
Fields told KOA Radio that she does not know Sain, and said “All I know is the kinds of things that he said were very inappropriate, and they’re alarming, and they were very intimidating.”
There are many misspelled words and incorrect grammar usage in the messages, and they appear as written in the affidavit, along with censoring of offensive words.
According to an affidavit, one of the letters alleged to have been written by the Colorado Springs man reads, “Rhonda Fields, mother of [Field's daughter]. Death to both.” The letter goes on to say “There will be blood! I’m coming for you, N—– B—-.”
In one of the emails, Sain allegedly wrote, “hopefully somebody Gifords [sic] your asses with a gun.”
The following is one of seven emails police say Sain sent to Fields:
“THANKS N—– C—! You really think passing nay more laws will stop gun violence? You and that other N—– OBAMA are living in fantasy land. Chicago and DC have the most strict gun laws in the nation and more people die from gun violence than anywhere. You f—ing c—s are pathetic excuse for civil servants. Hell, n—–s love shooting themselves with GATS, isn’t that what your people call it. What you have done here is creater [sic] criminals out of law abiding citizens, and put yourself out of a job. You politicians have no idea what you are even doing anyway, do you know how long it takes some to change a magazine, less than a second, so what if some with experience decides to flip out and bring their gun in with 5 or so 10 round magazines, they can do the same amount of damage. Limiting magazine sizes is stupididty, [sic] and will not work…”
Then the most unhinged of Sain’s messages also refers to Field’s daughter:
Rhonda Fields, N—– C—, Mother of —–, Death to Both, All N—– Back to Africa, F— you, F— Your Laws, I Keep my 30 Round Magazines, There Will Be Blood!, I’m Coming For You, N—– B—-
Sain told police that he didn’t mean to threaten Fields, and regrets the language he used. He has no prior record, and is the chief operating officer at SofTec Solutions in Englewood, Colorado, where he does consulting work for the government and private organizations
House Speaker Mark Ferrandino and two other Democratic Reps also received similar threatening messages.
WTF? That is all I can say.
Latest news out of South Carolina: One student dead after South Carolina university shooting
A 19-year-old student died following a shooting on Tuesday at a residence hall of a South Carolina university near the resort area of Myrtle Beach, and authorities were searching for a gunman, university officials said.
Meanwhile in Connecticut: 2 Missing Children, Grandmother Found Dead in Conn.
And over in Illinois, Robin Kelly wins Illinois Democratic primary on gun control.
The headlines for California: Slayings of 2 officers in Santa Cruz mark ‘darkest day,’ chief says
This last link is written with Georgia in mind, but it deals with immigration news hitting most states: Feds free illegal immigrants in Georgia, other states
Y’all have a great day, and let us know what you are reading and blogging and thinking about today.
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 schools 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.”
We’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.
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?”
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.