Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I’ve been livid recently about our Governor’s jihad against public education.  Here’s some details on how Bobby Jindal used the ALEC play book to turn the state’s public schools upside down.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has remade the Louisiana public schools system with impressive speed over the past legislative session. Last week, he signed into law a suite of landmark reform bills that will likely change the direction of public education in Louisiana forever. But not all change is good, and critics say both Jindal’s agenda and the strategy to move it come right from the playbook of conservative advocacy group ALEC, in an effort to revive Jindal’s national political profile.

Louisiana is now home to the nation’s most expansive school voucher program. Charter school authorization powers have been broadened. And teacher tenure policies have been radically transformed. Louisiana already had something of a reputation as a radical-reform state, thanks to the post-Katrina educational climate in New Orleans. But not all change is good, and education advocates have deep concerns about the efficacy of Jindal’s overhaul, and the interests that have push it.

ALEC has overrun Louisiana at a time when it’s losing corporate sponsors and cronies in various state legislatures.  ALEC still has some steam left, however.

ALEC will survive, of course, kept afloat largely by the billionaire Koch brothers and their corporate allies. But as activists keep up the pressure, they must not lose sight of the worst culprits, who must be identified and targeted: the more than 2,000 legislative members of ALEC. The Center for Media and Democracy maintains a list of lawmakers allied with ALEC at The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has begun to pressure dozens of Democrats involved with the overwhelmingly Republican group to quit. Their exit from ALEC would put the lie to the claim that ALEC is nonpartisan.

Common Cause argues that ALEC has abused its tax-exempt status by lobbying, and Wisconsin State Representative Mark Pocan has introduced a bill requiring ALEC to register as a lobbyist in that state. But especially as November approaches, the Exit ALEC movement must go beyond the group to confront some of the damage it has done. In the past two years, thirty-four states have introduced bills to restrict voting for some 5 million eligible voters; nine have passed voter ID laws; dozens of other states have gotten rid of early voting or tried to hobble voter registration drives. In Florida get-out-the-vote efforts by the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote have been sabotaged. The most affected are blacks, Latinos and other groups that skew Democratic.

If you haven’t been following CISPA, you really should.  Here’s a primer from Truth Dig.

What is CISPA?

CISPA, an abbreviation for the Cyber Intelligence Security and Protection Act, was introduced in the House of Representatives on November 30, 2011 by Mike Rogers (R-MI), as well as 111 co-sponsors. Since then, a number of amendments have been introduced. The House is expected to vote on the bill Friday and its author has said that the latest changes brought the number of supporting Congressmen “well past” the threshold of 218 necessary for the adoption of the legislation. It is therefore very likely that the bill will be passed by the House. However, it’s not all that certain whether the bill will be made into law, especially with the White House’s latest statement that President Obama would be advised to veto the legislation.

What does CISPA entail for internet users?

The act says it is meant to create procedures allowing “elements of the intelligence community to share cyber threat intelligence with private-sector entities and to encourage the sharing of such intelligence.”  It also states that a cyber-security provider or a self-protected entity may share “cyber threat information”  “with any other entity designated by such protected entity, including… the Federal Government.

But what does that mean?

Unnecessarily broad definitions are the factor which makes CISPA so controversial with web users.

Experts argue that the bill would give the government the ability to circumvent internet privacy laws and obtain information on user activities from private companies – be it providers, hosting companies or social networks – essentially any company involved in the Internet.

The bill does specifically say that the Federal Government can only use the information obtained for a “cybersecurity purpose” or the “protection of the national security of the United States,” but the broad definitions of the terms could potentially lump an average Internet user sending an encrypted e-mail into the same threat category as a terrorist. Privately owned corporations could, under the pretext of cyber and national security, spy on users and transfer their data to a government agency.

You will get no accountability for that,” explains David Seaman, host of The DL Show. “If findings are turned against you in the worst possible way, you won’t be able to get a lawyer and sue because of the litigation immunity.

You can find more analysis and links at Cannonfire.  The House has already passed CISPA.  No surprises there since these guys are standing in line to monitor US women’s menstrual periods and want to peer into every woman’s uterus.  As usual, a few Democrats joined in the effort to expand government’s intrusion into your personal lives.  Here’s wishing Obama follows through with his threat to veto.

The final tally was 248-168, enough to pass the measure but not enough to override the threatened veto. Forty-two Democrats broke with the White House to vote for the bill, and 28 Republicans voted against it.

The administration and Democratic critics opposed the bill because of privacy and civil liberties concerns. The other main sticking point was that, unlike a Senate bill by Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), CISPA would not mandate new security requirements for a critical infrastructure network.

Although those disagreements still exist, House Republicans have now jumped ahead of the Senate in a race to avoid the political fallout in the event of a major cyberattack.

At least some of CISPA’s Democratic supporters weren’t happy with their colleagues’ opposition to the bill, nor with the White House.

After the White House issued the veto threat Wednesday, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, Rogers’s chief Democratic ally, launched an all-out lobbying effort to persuade his fellow Democrats to back the bill.

Here’s an article that pretty much outlines my worst nightmares: “How Christian Groups Push Right-Wing Religion With the Help of Your Tax Dollars”;Taxpayer-funded crisis pregnancy centers are using religion to oppose abortion, and many of them only hire Christians.

If you want to help carry out the anti-abortion mission of the taxpayer-funded Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center, you have to be a Christian.

It’s right there on the Rapid City, S.D., center’s volunteer application.

“Do you consider yourself a Christian?” “If yes, how long have you been a Christian?” “As a Christian, what is the basis of your salvation?” “Please provide the following information concerning your local church. Church name … Denomination … Pastor’s name.” “This organization is a Christian pro-life ministry. We believe that our faith in Jesus Christ empowers us, enables us, and motivates us to provide pregnancy services in this community. Please write a brief statement about how your faith would affect your volunteer work at this center.”

But that hasn’t stopped the center from receiving federal funding and other forms of government support.

In 2010, it was awarded a $34,000 “capacity building” grant as part of President Obama’s stimulus bill.

Last year, the nonprofit National Fatherhood Initiative, with “support from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Family Assistance,” awarded the center $25,000 for capacity building.

And when South Dakota passed a law requiring that women get counseling from a “pregnancy help center” before receiving an abortion, the Rapid City center was quick to sign up — becoming one of three such facilities listed on the state’s official website.

When do we get our country back from these whackos and when do we get to say that they don’t get our money?

I’m sending Hugs out today to Senator AL Franken for this.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

46 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    The GOP slogan when it comes to education is: “We are ignorant and you can be too!” and most of those GOP legislators validate that statement each time they open their mouths.

    Name one “intellectual” in the GoP. You can’t. They don’t exist.

    Happy and fat feeding the wishes of their paymasters they prance across the horizon spewing nonsense, unsupported facts, false claims, and mangled history. And proud of it to, I might add!

    The danger for all of us lies with the celebration of “knowing nothing”, or as little as possible. Few seem to think beyond the moment, asking themselves what is the conclusion to offering such drastic cuts across the board.

    Where I can see misery, they see “victory” in pushing these policies that can only invite suffering and the loss of stature in the world when the middle class and all other groups scramble to survive.

    Someone please tell me how voting for the GOP is a “good thing” as Martha Stewart would say. Someone please tell me how cutting funds for education, laying off teachers, and rewriting the curriculum that includes Creationism will prepare our students in global competition.


  2. With all this crap going on in Louisiana, do you think it will eventually affect the graduates from this state when it comes to finding jobs in their academic field? There are a lot of red states passing backward laws that make us a joke to other countries that are embracing science and discovery. Seems the GOP is also bent on making any college grad less appealing to the global market.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      No joke, but I can easily envision some yahoo down the road, educated with Creationism as part of the curriculum, rising to the ranks but unable to make a decision without using the bible as a means of arriving at a decision. This should go over well with high tech countries and super educated employers in countries like China and Japan.

      In a nation that distrusts those who speak multiple languages, like most European countries do with their students, we can expect to be dead last when it comes to national stature.

      We may end up sharing the honors with Afghanistan as the least educated nation in the world if we keep on marching down this road to ruin. We will be leaning on imported workers just to keep the subways working since few will accurately be able to read a blueprint.

    • dakinikat says:

      Jindal has said we graduate too many university students here. He wants them in trade schools instead so they can work in the oil rigs.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Most of the time we laugh at people like Pat Robertson and Bill Donahue, two equally egregious fools who make their living issuing stupid statements to bolster their stupidity.

    But if you look closely, the GOP legislatures and members of the Tea Party who have found their way into the halls of congress, think exactly the same way. We vote them in!

    Listening to the insanity that Pat Robertson promotes is no different than what we are hearing from a large group of elected officials who are making law with some of this bullshit.

    Though we may find Robertson’s ramblings amusing to some extent, we must bear in mind that many of these lawmakers have the support of the voters and they echo much of the insanity that Pat spews. The only difference is that I can choose to tune out Pat Robertson and Bill Donahue but I am forced to live under the aegis of lawmakers who push these crazy theories into practice.

    We can laugh all we want at idiots like Robertson and Donahue but the fact remains that we are being led by the same idiocy and insane logic that they promote.

    We are in the grasp of the crazies and it is no longer a laughable matter.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    George Z. put up the website less than a month ago. $5,000 was used for bail. That means George’s family must have been aware of the money while they were all claiming to be poor as church mice. There was $204,000 donated. Now there is $150,000. So George’s “expenses” for less than one month came to $49,000?! I could live for TWO YEARS on that.

    WTF?! And the judge thinks it’s no big deal. He claims he might not even have jurisdiction to rule on whether George lied?! What kinds of connections does this family have anyway? George had preferential treatment from day one and he’s still getting it!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Someone needs to check where that money went. George claims he can’t go to stores. Was he buying guns on line? Or what?

    • dm says:

      Hard to say exactly how much money was spent to “hide out”, which is what I have read happened after all the threats of violence. Quite honestly, legal expenses for something like this will be astronomical and I don’t blame him for trying to raise money for his defense. Lying about it…well, that’s a whole other thing. Compared to all the lies the media spewed without doing any kind of fact checking, again, I’m not going to hold it against him. It has nothing to do with the facts in the case…which as far as I know, still have not been completely revealed to the public.

      • janicen says:

        But doesn’t the fact that he has lied about something so easily verifiable speak to his credibility? So much of this case has to do with his word compared with what we can verify. He claims to have been severely beaten by Martin yet video evidence taken at the police station a short time after the alleged attack shows no apparent signs of Zimmerman being bruised, in pain, or bleeding from his supposed head wounds and broken nose. Isn’t it reasonable to conclude that Zimmerman may be lying about the attack when one considers that he was bold enough to lie to the court about his finances? I disagree that “…it has nothing to do with the facts in the case…” because there are so very few substantiated facts in this case. It’s all about Zimmerman’s word and now his word has come into question. The facts show that Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by Zimmerman, that Martin was unarmed, and that Zimmerman left his car, armed, to pursue Martin. The facts show that videos of Zimmerman taken in the police station shortly after the incident show that Zimmerman appears calm and uninjured. Most of the rest of the case is based on Zimmerman’s word.

      • janicen says:

        As well, you say he had to go into hiding after “…all the threats of violence…” yet Zimmerman’s own lawyer was on CBS this morning the other day and admitted that there were no, “…active threats of violence…”. The supposed threats are a canard.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Sure, why hold anything against poor George, the “hero” who shot a black underage child? He’s golden George! Let’s see the “threats of violence.” The four (4) morons who pretend to be Black Panthers only threatened citizens arrest. The wife said she had gotten nasty mail but no threats. The parents aren’t hiding. Their address is publicly available.

        WHAT THREATS OF VIOLENCE? Credible? Until they are produced, I don’t believe it.

      • NW Luna says:

        @ Janicen, yes, the concept of verisimilitude. He’s just given a huge gift to the prosecution in the matter of believability.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Krugman: The confidence fairy is dead. Long live the confidence fairy.

  6. dm says:

    There actually is a head shot of Zimmerman that is bloody. Yes, the lying does impact his credibility…but if you research the stuff put out by the media and compare it with what has come out since the story broke, many of the things stated to be “facts” are not really that. This story has been sensationalized by everyone – including our esteemed president. Yes, someone died and that is tragic. I simply feel there has been too much focused on this 1 crime and not enough on the hundreds that occur everyday, particularly in the black community. People want to spout off about race hate based crimes, but I feel this is an incredibly small percentage of what actually takes place in this country…particularly when it involves the death of a young black male.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I simply feel there has been too much focused on this 1 crime and not enough on the hundreds that occur everyday, particularly in the black community. People want to spout off about race hate based crimes, but I feel this is an incredibly small percentage of what actually takes place in this country…particularly when it involves the death of a young black male.

      Is that so. I’ve researched and read everything on this case. You are defending a murderer. If this were my thread, you’d be gone.

      • dm says:

        I am not “defending” a murderer. I’ve read an awful lot about this case too, and what I’ve seen are many contradictions if not outright lies about what took place before, during and after. I never called him golden, a hero, and I really don’t understand why the vibe gets so defensive. I’ve read the tweets, the stuff about the panthers…obviously, I’m not in Florida but I also read about the couple whose address was retweeted incorrectly by Spike Lee and who then were harrassed.

        Statistically speaking, what I have read indicates that black on black crime is literally through the roof, while white/hispanic/black crime (although the latest reports actually put Zimmerman as being more black than Obama) are is a huge discrepancy.

        You know, if what I say upsets you that much, then by all means banish me. I come here occasionally in the most respectful manner possible, never get nasty, never get personal but it seems like if I don’t completely agree with what is being discussed then I evidently have no valid points to offer.
        Happy FRiday and peace to all!

      • bostonboomer says:

        I haven’t banished you. Make all the points you want. Your opinions just make me sick, and I’m going to leave you to them and go about my life elsewhere.

    • janicen says:

      This one stands apart from the other acts of violence and discrimination against minorities because it involves a citizen, not a police officer, a citizen who decided he was going to enforce his interpretation of the law. Not the actual law, because Martin committed no crime. Zimmerman became judge, jury and executioner only because he had a gun and he felt that made him superior to others. Pretty chilling, is it not? While I appreciate your concern and sensitivity about all of the other injustices suffered by minorities in this country, let’s have this one stand as a representative of all of the others since we can’t possibly focus on all of them. Let’s have this one send a message to all of the Zimmermans-in-waiting and tell them that their behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. That’s the best we can do.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thank you, Janicen. Very well said. I guess I just don’t have the patience this morning, because I have a cold and my head aches. Plus I have some family issues going on. I’m really going to check out now. If I overreacted, I’m sorry.

      • janicen says:

        Feel better, bb. My husband felt the same way yesterday. Ibuprofen for the headache, hot chicken soup, and rest, and he’s back in fighting form today. Sorry about the family issues, it’s probably that stress that lowered your resistance to the cold.

        I too don’t want to beat a dead horse by arguing with people about the Martin case, but I get so frustrated when people complain about the media reporting untruths but then those same people repeat untruths like “…threats of violence…” because it fits into their viewpoint. Zimmerman claimed to have been severely beaten and his nose broken but now we can ignore those lies because somebody has photo with some blood on it. I’m tired of people complaining about the media coverage of this case and “…why not other cases?…” not because they really care about the other cases but because this case makes them uncomfortable because this case doesn’t fit their viewpoint. Too bad. An innocent citizen was murdered in cold blood by an armed vigilante, and the investigating police did not behave as we would expect and hope they would. That deserves some scrutiny.

      • dakinikat says:

        I keep thinking about the idea of some random neighbor with a gun stalking my child for no reason. Gives me the creeps.

    • dakinikat says:

      Okay. Let me just ask you one question. If you were walking home. You would have no problem with some guy stalking you? You think it is just fine that some one you do not know is following you and carrying a gun is just no big deal? You would just let him stalk you and wait patiently for him to start a conversation because having a guy follow you around in the dark alone is just normal and not criminal behavior?

    • dakinikat says:

      The criminal justice system treats black people differently. I have a front row seat to that down here. The police have shot unarmed black teens several times already this year. The justice department is taking over our police department and our criminal sheriff’s jail because of the civil rights violations. New Orleans isn’t the only place with severe problems too. George Zimmerman keeps getting preferential treatment from the system.

    • Seriously says:

      Okay, first of all Zimmerman used LETHAL FORCE on an unarmed person. The standard for lethal force isn’t Damn I was pissed off because I might have gotten a small cut in a fight I started in events I put into motion. It’s not wow I’m getting the worst of this fight. It’s reasonable fear for your life. Not a paranoid, unreasonable fear for my life. Not “having no idea whether or not the other person is armed” when you know you are. It’s really difficult to claim you were in fear with your life when you didn’t have to go to the hospital, when you don’t seem to have any type of severe injuries and when your supporters are claiming that it’s possible that you might have a little cut on your head when you’re claiming your assailant banged your head on the pavement.

      This crime is getting attention because not only was the shooter identified at the scene, he was given differential treatment and allowed to walk away. That’s not usual. For the most part, the shooter isn’t known and then just let go. If that happens in your town, you’re going to hear about it, almost guaranteed. 84% percent of white people killed in this country every year are killed by other white people, same as teh percentages of people of other races killing each other. White people commit the vast majority of violent crimes in this country. But when a crime occurs and it’s getting coverage we never talk about how covering an actual crime is a distraction from the epidemic of “white on white” crime. Why? Well, many reasons, but for one, “white on white” crime is a very large and complex issue and there’s necessarily very much we can do about it on an immediate basis. While, asking that someone who was caught with a smoking gun over a dead body be investigated is something we can do. All of the people who are concerned about intra-racial crime need to explain how the coverage being given to this case could be used on a practical basis to help solve intre-racial crime, otherwise it looks like it’s just being brought up as a distraction and an excuse.

  7. northwestrain says:

    About vouchers — in the grand experiment in San Jose, CA in the 1970s — Vouchers for schools was a big failure. Which means that the asshats are pushing a farce on Louisiana. The Voucher system is a failure.

    My mother was a teacher in that grand experiment and at the time I was getting my MA at San Jose State University. So I was able to watch first hand the mess called school vouchers.

    Information about the whole failed voucher experiment can be found by googling Voucher + San Jose, California. A whole lot of money was spent for the failed outcome.

    One bad governor can do a whole lot of damage to a state — witness the Raygun effect on California. Raygun was also anti colleges — and he wanted to end the cheap college education — the bastard ignored the fact that the graduates of the California system went on to build the computer industry THEY were the job makers. Silicon Valley — was a huge employer.

    So dumb ass Jindal — is following in Rayguns footsteps.


    About focusing on Zimmerman and Martin — it is important — very important to focus attention on this murder — it is but one case — BUT it is representative of how creeps like Martin lie and can get away with murder. No question that the system is fucked up — and more minorities are being murdered on a daily basis. By focusing on this one case — we become more aware that there isn’t much fairness in the ‘Justice system” in many places is the US.

    • northwestrain says:

      In Arizona — the Zimmerman clones go out hunting for “illegals” — the brave Zimmerman clones wait in their hunting outfits for trucks carrying Mexicans coming across the boarder and then open fire. Or the border guards just tazer individual Mexicans until they die. Film of the mob behavior of the US border guards is on Democracy Now. This is happening under the 0bowma administration. The Arizona law that was argued at the Supreme Court — by the inept lawyer for the government — means to me that team 0bama really wants to let the hounds of hell lose in Arizona.

      Those check points in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas (probably California as well) — can be used for far more than merely immigration check points. Arizona will be far more dangerous to everyone if the Supremes allow Arizona to rebuild and expand their checkpoints.

      Creepy — things are happening under 0bama — and yes the Republicans are far worse — but then 0bowma is really a republican — based on his record.

    • dakinikat says:

      They are a big failure in new Orleans but jindal doesn’t care. He wants to be a national republican phenomenon so were getting all the zombie policies down here that just send state tax dollars to his donors and interests.

  8. northwestrain says:

    Thanks to Bush and now 0bowma’s war in Afghanistan and Iraq — a whole lot of the troops returning have had their brains traumatically injured because of the repeated bomb blasts. These soldiers come home with fighter’s brains — rather like a prize fighter who has gone too many rounds as a punching bag.

    That story is devastatingly common, but the autopsy of this young man’s brain may have been historic. It revealed something startling that may shed light on the epidemic of suicides and other troubles experienced by veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    His brain had been physically changed by a disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E. That’s a degenerative condition best-known for affecting boxers,football players and other athletes who endure repeated blows to the head.

  9. dm says:

    I’m sorry things are less than great today for you…I know a little something about that too. And it certainly was never my intention to make your day worse. I hope things take a turn for the better soon.

  10. RalphB says:

    Report: Every Potential 2040 Presidential Candidate Already Unelectable Due To Facebook