Monday ReadsPosted: July 9, 2012 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: black americans and finance, charter schools, forced labor, George Will, global warming, marriage equality, New Orleans, subprime crisis, Voter ID laws 47 Comments
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?
They understand, all right: the bonus class gets the jobs with golden parachutes; the rest get pink slips and decimated 401(k)s and no pensions.
That comment also shows ignorance of all the college-educated, low-income people who’ve had their jobs offshored, or “down-sized.” Not to mention the new graduates who can’t find jobs.
2012 seems less like an election than a hostile takeover by all those asshats. Those spoiled useless people are going to spend a couple of billion dollars and try their best to buy the presidency for Rmoney. If that works, I fear the country will never be the same again. Hope someone is sharpening guillotines just in case.
The money spent to buy the last presidential election was atrocious, and you’re right, Ralph — this year is the hostile takeover.
Seems such a dream now that back in 2008, for a while, we were hoping for campaign finance reform. Obama said he’d take public financing if his opponent did. So McCain took public financing, and Obama did a(nother) 180 and didn’t. Then SCOTUS affirmed Citizens aka Corporations United.
2012 — we’ll get the best President that money can buy.
What is worse is all their enablers. A entire group of Fox watchers are being brainwashed to ignore the fact their sheep being led to slaughter. Scare them by making them think that we’re being invaded by “others”! Muslim Kenyan Presidents! Hispanics! Uppity gawd hating women!
I am breathless over the range rover driver’s comment. I hope to see it in some of the 20 million TV ads being played in Virginia these days.
Let us know if you do. No one is fighting over Massachusetts votes.
Oh right. I forgot that some of you aren’t being treated to the fun. Well then, you’ll love this one where the Republicans defend Hillary Clinton!! I hope this works…
For my state, it’s also all the folks who were in public health and public education that were underpaid and now are jobless because of Jindal. My newly graduated daughter is still waiting tables because she can’t find a job. BTW, doctor daughter is going to be looking for a job in Settle for next year. Maybe she’ll wind up some where near you.
One of the snooty people in the NYT article on the Hamptons was a guy who “manufactures laundry detergent.”
Oh how intellectual, how highly educated, and how stimulated by his job he must be! If only I, one of the common people could aspire to manufacturing laundry detergent! Clearly this man is one of our betters and deserves to run the country!
And then there was this woman:
How could we not be awed by such class!
And these two:
Such generosity! I bow before these admirable plutocrats!
Geeze. They make Ann Romney look like modesty personified.
After the way these assholes went after John Kerry for wind-surfing, if we don’t nail their feed to the ground and shove this stuff down their throat, then we may as well just suffocate ourselves with tote-bags.
Charter schools — I was stunned to see an initiative for charter schools will be on the November ballot here. They used paid signature gatherers.
I had a brush with one in front of my local grocery store:
“Hello! If you’d just sign here!”
“No thanks, I like to read up on initiatives first…”
“Sure! You can read here (points to two sentences of explanation) and sign down here!”
“…and I research them first. Bye.”
IIRC, the only consistent positive association between kids’ performance in schools is not with the type of school, but with their parents’ involvement and parents’ educational levels. But plutocratic parents want their kids to associate with their own kind, and not with the general riff-raff.
Since there is proof (scientific research) that Voucher schools do not work, don’t improve the students scores — etc. there is another reason that the wacky right has latched onto this flat earth garbage. Segregation — not by race but by class. The religious right want total control of schools — they have quietly taken over schools and school districts all over the country. Now they’ve latched onto the proven to fail Voucher system. Kids coming from these schools will be poorly educated.
It is so amazing to me that the failed Voucher system has been resurrected. This version of the Voucher schools will fail as well.
The Voucher system failed in RayGUN’s California.
It’s really been failing here in New Orleans but that doesn’t seem to matter to the powers that be. We’ve had lots of cheating on tests and all kinds of problems.
Zandar has a great take on Range Rover lady and the rest of the Rmoney buffoons.
The Cake We’re Apparently Supposed To Be Eating Is A Lie
But Mitt Romney is sooooooo much more than a politician, right?
Those pushing for charter schools can write their own curriculum.
Recreate our roots and institute the general thought that the Founding Fathers worked to abolish slavery. That’s if slavery ever existed. Remember, it has been said that many of those slaves just loved what they were doing and just happy to have jobs! Top that off with “a Christian nation” and there you have what they are all about.
No hiring of gay teachers or those who live with a partner without benefit of marriage need apply. Set aside a time during the school day when bible study and Creationism is part of the daily routine and you have what charter schools are actually all about.
Our kids will eventually come out of school with as much education as Quitterella, insisting that Paul Revere notified the British while scientific theory has yet to be proven.
This way to a Nation of Dunces when these people are through “educating”.
Pat if people get much dumber than some are now, shoes with laces will disappear. No one will be able to tie them anymore.
ralph: Velcro has essentially eliminated shoes with laces! They are as rare as “critical thinking”.
There I go, out of it as usual. Never bought any shoes with velcro. Guess I have to move into the new century someday 🙂
Yeah, but shoelaces don’t make ripping noises when fastened or unfastened! I still have lace-up shoes too.
This is nearly vomit inducing. Haley Barbour received the award last year. YUCK!
Donald Trump gets ‘statesman of year’ award
That award must top Obama’s win of the Nobel Peace Prize while continuing two wars.
I think it might do that.
Something tells me George Will didn’t “winter” in his hometown in Central Illinois this past year. If he had, he would know that the Midwest didn’t have a winter. We didn’t have a spring either. Now we are having record heat and drought.
But nothing happening here, folks. Move along. And you poor people without air-conditioning? Suck it up, wussies.
See you in church, George.
To clarify: The last sentence in my above comment about George Will was a snark.
From what I have read, Will left the Episcopal Church some time ago because its doctrine had become too “tolerant” for him. He appears to worship only his magnificent self now.
Within 100 miles of the Canadian border? Get off your taxpayer-owned lands!
So the Border Patrol could bulldoze hundreds of thousands of acres of park, wilderness, public and private lands without warning. Over 57% of our state’s border with Canada is in national parks and wilderness land.
As the linked editorial notes, this is especially outrageous to those American Indians who live on their own sovereign nation lands within 100 miles of the border.
A Senate version (no # yet), sponsored by McCain, has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Hopefully that bill will die in that Senate committee!
The coast guard has already been turned into ICE officers — up in the San Juan island the coast guard boards boats at will — while the crew on the coast guard boat has guns aimed at the pleasure boaters. The coast guard claims that the boarding are for “safety” reasons — but all they want are “your papers”. They are doing “citizenship” tests on everyone pleasure boater they stop. Too often the coast guard who do board are completely ignorant of the boats they invade. ALL they can do is operate the go fast boats and point guns at boaters.
So the Coast Guard has these expensive boats they use to harass us all — and yet if a boat is in trouble the US Coast Guard has no triangulation radio equipment — which the Canadians have had for years.
If you get into trouble — don’t count on the Coast guard — all their money is being spend on being ICE agents.
I’ve heard so many Coast Guard requests — for any boater who heard the MAYDAY broadcast to call in and give their location — so that the coast guard will kind of sort of have a general idea of where to search.
People have died because of the coast guard’s antiquated equipment.
For the deluded idiots who think that having the coast guard used as military ICE agents — what is happening is more Security Theater.
Let’s hope our WA Senators and Congress critters can put a stop to the nonsense of taking over vast stretches of Washington State.
Again we are treated to the ignorance of the Republicans. Although this 100 mile rule is used in Arizona — the immigration check points are still in operation. That’s how the ICE idiots stopped the former Governor of Arizona and made him stand in the blazing heat for an hour. He had brown skin. Didn’t matter if he was 96 years old.
The stupids are taking over.
Speaking of the District and its elitism:
You may have seen this already by now, but it bears going viral:
TB outbreak in Jacksonville FL
Also important to know:
The early victims were mostly poor blacks. TB, however, isn’t at all racist.
Add to that this TB outbreak was kept secret by Florida officials and it’s even worse.
So, it finally became news when it spread into the general population, due to the unconcerned attitude when initially detected. I would have to suspect that the 99 cases are not an accurate count as there hasn’t been a public health campaign to inform therefore one has to assume the case number is much higher.
The estimate is around 3000 cases, some in the general population. The TB strain has shown up in Miami already. Next up: somebody decides to head on over to California via Greyhound. Everyone on the bus will need to be identified, tested, all their contacts wherever they ended up will need to be ID’ed and tested; everyone at all the stops along the way — Pensacola, Mobile, New Orleans, Dallas, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Los Angeles — will need to be ID’ed…. Anyway, you know.
To be really exact, it wasn’t so much truly concealed. The request for assistance with the outbreak by Duval County and the CDC report have been out there for the reading the whole time. They didn’t put out a big public alert, but the thing is: they never do.
There are cases of TB among the homeless in LA right now, for instance. There’s no public alert. The same is true of the whole US. The only difference here is that budget cuts let the thing get out of hand, and that situation was only a matter of time. It could have happened anywhere in this country with “the finest health care on earth.”
Drug-resistant TB is scary. But then, any TB is scary. Crowded enclosed places are high risk. Tthe infectious bacilli are spread by airborne droplets after an infected person sneezes, coughs, talks, etc. Initial infection is usually unnoticed. 90-95% of non-immunocompromised people will recover even without treatment (less than 50% of those with immunocompromise or other poor health factors have), but there is a lifelong chance of re-activation without treatment. (Info from Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, American Public Health Assoc.)
Helluva time to cut public health.
TB is a mandatory-reported illness. All TB diagnoses must be reported to the appropriate city or county Health Department. Even suspected diagnoses should be reported.
If a person is treated with appropriate medication, the communicable stage may last only a few weeks. Otherwise, if the patient doesn’t take some of the meds, for example, s/he continues communicable.
Yup. But we gotta cut the budget to save money!
/*goes off into corner to scream quietly*/
I thought Dead Old People, Dead Minority People, and Dead Poor People was high on the Republican agenda these days.
Having personal experience with TB (my grandmother died from it), your comment about how scary it is – so very true. Mind you, that was back in the early sixties when the afflicted were confined to sanitariums to avoid widespread contamination (horrible places those sanitariums). My family and everyone who came into contact with her had to be innoculated, then checked out every year thereafter for 5 years to ensure that we hadn’t contracted it. Today they don’t follow those draconion methods because the vacines are so much more effective. Public Health departments are so very, very important as we found out during the SARS crisis up here. Hope that your officials take their head out of sand and stop defunding important government departments.
Austerity – Phase one – Beginning with the homeless, ignore highly communicable, totally avoidable diseases that affect those with compromised immune systems, soon the vulnerable of other sections of the population, like people of advanced age and small children, will fall victim to the same disease. Medicaid and Medicare and subsequently SS rolls will be reduced quickly. Austerity Phase One, Successful. Ta Da,
I know, it sounds like a wildass conspiracy theory, but when it comes to the desire by the far right to destroy the “evil” social compacts, nothing surprises me anymore and nothing is implausible.
There was a whooping cough epidemic this year too, wasn’t there. Just wait till someone starts spreading smallpox! Lucky me. I was vaccinated for both of those diseases.
If we want to win this, we’ll have to fight emotion with emotion and religious faith with faith. Leave the “logic and science” for areas where they may have some effect. h/t JohnR comment.
Believe What You’re Saying
Krugman, marvelous as always!
Mitt’s Gray Areas
I really want to read this book.
That was really good!