Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Monday, 6 September 2004 at 17h 26m 43s|
A code word for the destruction of Social Security
Social Security is often misrepresented by ideologues who have gone gaga over
privatization. Listening to these folks, you hear that Big guma'ment is taking
7.5% of your hard-earned dollars that you could invest yourself, and possibly
make more money. Even President Bush makes the same connotation in his current
In his acceptance speech at the RNC convention, Bush said :"We must
strengthen Social Security by allowing younger workers to save some of their
taxes in a personal account - a nest egg you can call your own, and government
can never take away."
But nowhere does the president or the "privatization" critics mention 2
poignant facts about social security.
The first concerns how the taxes are collected. The "criticized" payroll taxes
are paid only on the first $86,500 of income. All income above this level is
not taxed. So those who make more than $86,500 are paying a smaller percentage
of their income into the social security trust fund. Right now social security
is solvent for the next 30 to 40 years (depending on which study you prefer to
cite.) Were the crisis of solvency really an issue (as opposed to a straw man
that is beaten to pursue a hidden agenda), all one has to do is raise this
level to (say) one million dollars.
Or, the level could be completely eliminated, and the percentage could be
reduced for those whose income is less than $100,000. These funds could also
purchase the Treasury debt, rather than being used as surplus government funds
to be spent by the treasury. Wouldn't it be better to invest in our own debts,
than have to attract foreign investors who use the dollars to buy up American
companies and property because they have purchased so many dollars?
You do not hear these simple solutions, because the critics would rather have
us believe the social security system is in crisis because of inherent flaws
that could be magically solved by private accounts.
So when Mr. Bush says in the next breath--
"In all these
proposals, we seek to provide not just a government program, but a path - a
path to greater opportunity, more freedom, and more control over your own
really winking at his campaign contributors and promising smoke and mirrors to
Herein lies the second fallacy. Social Security was never meant to be a system
in which government invests your money for you. Social Security is an
insurance system. When you pay payroll taxes, you are paying the insurance
premium of the Social Security safety net. To berate the system as big
guma'ment taking away money that could be invested completely misses the reason
why social security came into existence.
Social Security is more than a pension plan. Other components of the Social
Security "insurance" system are disability, Medical care for the elderly,
Veteran's benefits, Unemployment insurance, Aid to needy families with
children, Maternal and child health services, Child support enforcement,Family
and child welfare services, Food stamps, and Energy assistance for the poor and
To speak of social security solely as a "retirement" fund, as the President
and "privatization" critics do, is deceptive, and speaks volumes about the
number one special-interest group that is contributing to the President's re-
election fund : Wall Street broker's and investment firms, salivating over the
billions of dollars they might get to manage for fees, mind you not with the
small investor in mind.
How many small investor's lost that sacred "nest egg" in the last 3 years?
The idea is that we pay into this collective insurance for the simple reason
that we as citizens have collectively decided that some things are too
important to leave to the vagarities of life and the ignorance of small
investors. Viewed solely as a pension fund, not every investor is going to be
able to intelligently invest, and there is no guarantee that the stock market
always operates to the benefit of the small investor. If we assume 7.5% of
income, A person who averages $40,000 a year for 35 years will have $3000 a
year to invest, or 100 shares of 30 dollar stock. This would be a net
$105,000, not including percentage gain (interest) per year. Assuming a 6%
average gain per year, and assuming nothing untoward occurs (a huge
assumption) -- the reality of unemployment, hospitalization, medical bills,
college expenses, house notes, bankruptcy -- this little nest egg has the
potential to become a nice retirement fund of $354,363.60.
But what if the retired individual of 65 years becomes ill, or lives 20 years.
Right now the United States has just had a year in which a record number of
bankruptcies occurred, half of which were due to medical bills. With the
recent changes in bankruptcy, the "reform" and escalating costs of the medical
insurance industry, AND the relevant real-life expenses in the intervening 35
years, this nest egg may not (and probably won't) reach full potential. The
investment choices of a small investment may or may not be wise, not to mention
that small investors really can't compete in a stock market that consists of
very large investors and hedge funds with hundreds of millions of dollars to
play with. A large investor can take a temporary $500,000 loss when the market
goes through a down cycle; but small investors get wiped out. So much for
that "path to greater opportunity, more freedom, and more control over your own
It's easy for someone born with a silver spoon to talk this pap rhetoric.
The social security insurance system is AN INSURANCE SYSTEM. We as a society
have decided that we don't want to leave to chance the welfare of our elderly
citizens, the well-being of our children, the disability of our workers, and
the misfortunes of the unemployed. Allowing those who are slightly
better-off (or anyone for that matter) to be removed from pool of social
security funds, reduces the potency of the fund for everyone. What will happen
is the dilution and destruction of the social safety net, a lot of misfortune,
and a return back to the days before the 20th century.
The Social Security Insurance program is an investment in our society, so that
people are free to not worry about their future, so that people are not
vulnerable to economic changes or life's misfortunes, and can spend their
surplus funds on houses, small businesses, and education without taking away
from their retirement pensions.
|Sunday, 5 September 2004 at 16h 5m 29s|
Culling the articles, editing the news
Newspaper and media edit and cull the news all the time. If you want
to find out anything that is considered remotely "controversial"
or "political", you have to find original sources. You can't just assume that
the daily hometown paper will provide you the original, non-editted source.
More likely than not, what you will read in the paper or get on the TV news is
an edited or re-written version of the original story.
One recent example occurred today, 5 September. The original story was written
by Frank Davies from Knight-Ridder. It had this headline in
the main Knight-Ridder wire : 9-11 hijackers tied to Saudi government,
Graham says in new book. This story comes from Knight-Ridders Washington
Bureau and was originally published in the Miami Herald. It gives the full
account, and is 27 paragraphs long. You can read the original story here.
But how does this story get presented in other newspapers across the nation?
I did a google search with the phrase "9-11 hijackers tied to Saudi government,
Graham says in new book By Frank Davies Knight Ridder Newspapers." I got 19
related articles, with another 66 related (according to google.)
The San Jose Mercury News:"Senator charges Saudi agents were linked to
Al-Qaida. NEW BOOK SAYS WHITE HOUSE, FBI BLOCKED PROBE INTO RELATIONSHIP"
The story cuts off after a statement that
"Saudi officials have vociferously denied any ties to the hijackers or Al-
Qaida plots to attack the United States,"curiously cutting off cricism of
Bush, blasting the politicization of the CIA, and the cooked intelligence that
created the Iraq WMD threat.
The Boston Globe:"9/11 hijackers tied to Saudi government, Graham says
The same edited version as the San Jose
Newsweek:"A Case Not Yet Closed
Turn The Page: In a new book, Sen. Bob Graham examines the embers of 9/11."
This article by Michael Isikoff is a re-
writing of the original Knight Ridder story, with some new phrases probably
pulled out of the Graham book. The politicization of the CIA is missing. The
connection between the FBI and the Saudi government is mentioned, and then
watered down by an excerpt below.
"But Graham's conclusions about al-Bayoumi conflict with the conclusions of
the 9/11 Commission report. Philip Zelikow, the staff director of the
commission, noted that his panel had access to more material than Graham did
and ultimately got the chance to question al-Bayoumi. They concluded that he
had no connection to 9/11. "We've spent hours and hours with Bob on this," says
Zelikow, who believes Graham doesn't seem open to new evidence. "He's got all
these details. But it's like they're frozen in amber."
It is signifigant that Isikoff chooses Philip Zelikow as his source of
rebuttal. Zelikow was the executive director of the 9-11 commission with
authority to determine all interviews and oversee all evidence, but what
Isikoff calls him is "the staff director." However, not only did Zelikow have
extensive ties to the Bush administration, but he also was criticized by other
9-11 commission members for withholding documents from the commission. Isikoff
never bothers to mention this.
According to disinfopedia, After the 2000 election, Zelikow and
Rice were reunited when George W. Bush named him to his transition team for the
National Security Council....Former White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke
says he briefed not only Rice and Hadley, but also Zelikow about the growing al-
Qaida threat during the transition period. Zelikow sat in on the briefings, he
"Kristen Breitweiser, a 9/11 widow, insists Zelikow has a "clear conflict of
interest." And she suspects he is in touch with Bush's political adviser, Rove,
which she says would explain why the White House granted him, along with just
one other commission official, the greatest access to the intelligence briefing
Bush got a month before the 9/11 suicide hijackings."
Isikoff then follows with a spin of the main story. "Yet even Zelikow
acknowledges that Graham may be right when he says the FBI never fully
unraveled a Qaeda support network that helped the hijackers—and that still may
be out there...."
He ends the piece with "Who were the contacts? To this day,
the FBI admits it doesn't know for sure—ample evidence, in Graham's mind, that
his fears and criticisms remain as valid as ever. "
So Isikoff rewrites the Knight-Ridder article, skillfully removing the
underlying implication that distorted facts were used by George Tenet to go
into Iraq, and that the Bush administration wanted to cover up the Saudi
connection to 9-11. Instead, Isikoff makes the story seem like FBI
incompetance, which was not the theme of the Knight-Ridder article at all.
This is what Michael Isikoff does, and is the reason why you should not trust
anything he writes. He is a devious, deceitful swindler of the journalistic
profession. Read him for the sophistry and the spin, but read him with utmost
Yahoo news:"NEWSWEEK BOOK EXCERPT: 'Intelligence Matters' By: Sen. Bob
Graham.Graham Charges That Bush Administration Was Engaged in a 'Cover-Up' to
Protect Saudi Arabia. 28 Pages Blacked Out of 9/11 Report Focuses on a Saudi
Who Befriended Two of the Key Hijackers ."
Yahoo news references the original Newsweek
article. The first paragraph has two sentences that refer to Graham's "charges"
and "claims." This paragraph is then followed by three paragraphs that come
from the Isikoff source, ending on this quote from the Newsweek re-
write:"We've spent hours and hours with Bob on this," says Zelikow, who
believes Graham doesn't seem open to new evidence. "He's got all these details.
But it's like they're frozen in amber." Yet even Zelikow acknowledges that
Graham may be right when he says the FBI never fully unraveled a Qaeda support
network that helped the hijackers -- and they still may be out there.
Again, the same spin. The message is that the FBI let them get away,
and they still might be out there. Don't look over there, look over here, look
over here, I said look over here, and be afraid. Be very afraid.
St. Paul Pioneer Press:"Senator links Saudi agents to 9/11. Sen. Bob
Graham makes claim in his new book."
This article edits the original, but unlike
the San Jose Mercury News, one more sentence is added after the obligatory
Saudi denial. This sentence is "Graham ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic
presidential nomination and then decided not to seek re-election to the Senate
Paragraph number 2 is also omitted in the Pioneer Press story. The omitted
paragraph here is, The discovery of the financial backing of the two
hijackers ''would draw a direct line between the terrorists and the government
of Saudi Arabia, and trigger an attempted coverup by the Bush administration,''
the Florida Democrat wrote.
The exchange between Tommy Franks and Senator Graham is also omitted.
The Wichita Eagle:"9/11 hijackers had support, book claims."
--3 paragraphs, all reprinted below.
WASHINGTON - Two of
the Sept. 11 hijackers had a support network in the United States that included
agents of the Saudi government, and the Bush administration and FBI blocked a
congressional investigation into that relationship, Sen. Bob Graham wrote in a
book to be released Tuesday.
The discovery of the financial backing of the two hijackers "would draw a
direct line between the terrorists and the government of Saudi Arabia, and
trigger an attempted coverup by the Bush administration," the Florida Democrat
And in Graham's book, "Intelligence Matters," obtained by the Miami Herald on
Saturday, he makes clear that some details of that financial support from Saudi
Arabia were in the 27 pages of the congressional inquiry's final report that
were blocked from release by the administration, despite the pleas of leaders
of both parties on the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Did you notice there is no mention of Iraq, Tommy Franks, or the politicization
of the CIA to pursue Iraq? Do you think a Wichita reader is getting the full
Kansas City Star:"Senator: Commander Told of Military Drain
by WILLIAM C. MANN Associated Press."
This is an AP re-write of the original
article. The article waters down the issue of diverting resources to fighting
Iraq, and mentions the exchange between Franks and Graham. The criticism of
the Bush administration and the politicization of the CIA was omitted.
The article also considerably downgrades the saudi connection. The names and
specifics are not given, and has instead a vague reference to an "apparent
financial ties of Saudi officials with two of the Sept. 11 hijackers."
And notice the final paragraph :The Associated Press reported in August 2003
that the classified part of the report examined interactions between Saudi
businessmen and the royal family that may have intentionally or unwittingly
aided al-Qaida or the suicide hijackers.
ABC NEWS:"Senator: Commander Told of Military Drain
Senator Says Commander Told Him of Early Drain of Forces From Afghanistan for
If all you did was watch ABC News, you are
getting the Associated Press re-write. But this is how the news media
operates. A hard-hitting story comes out, followed by edited versions and
rewrites that remove the main penetration of the original story, embellish the
story with "he-said, she said" diatribes, and add those famous qualifying
words "alledged", "accuses", "might have", or "claims."
It is amazing to me how often a well-ocumented fact is said to be "alledged" in
an edited or re-written news story.
Raleigh News Observer:"Senator says commander told him of early drain of
forces from Afghanistan for Iraq By WILLIAM C. MANN, ASSOCIATED PRESS."
This is the AP re-write.
Tacoma News Tribune:"Senator says commander told him of early drain of
forces from Afghanistan for Iraq By WILLIAM C. MANN, Associated Press."
The same AP re-write
NewsMax.com:"Senator: Commander Told of Military Drain from NewsMax
Again, this is the same AP press article by
William C. Mann. NewsMax however attributes the source to the "NewsMax
Wires." There is no attempt to give the reader the source for the original
story, except by including the legal copyright to the Associated Press at the
end. You would never know the William C. Mann wrote the story.
Newsmax is a poor source for information. Not only does Newsmax prefer to post
only the re-writes, but it usually doesn't bother to provide sourced
information. Touting itself as a truthworthy source for conservative readers,
it thereafter insults those readers with spin.
Florida Ledger:"Graham says Franks warned that Iraq would divert forces
By WILLIAM C. MANN Associated Press Writer."
The same AP re-write
Columbia Daily Tribune:"Senator’s book criticizes handling of 9/11
The original story from Davies is published
So what we have here is an original story put out by Knight Ridder, by writer
Frank Davies. Then there is an AP version by William C. Mann. Also, Michael
Isikoff provides a spin in a Newsweek article. How many citizens got the
information they needed to make a decision? Only those who read the Davies
article were allowed the complete story of 27 paragraphs.
If you got this from TV News, the story was even more gutted. Consider this
take from KGBT4 news, a source which claims to "Take Action For You."
WASHINGTON A former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman says he
knew more than a year in advance that American forces might be invading Iraq.
That's because he says the general running the war in Afghanistan told him
about the possible plan -- and how American resources were being shifted in
preparation for taking on Saddam Hussein.
Senator Bob Graham says he had the conversation with now-retired General Tommy
Franks back in February 2002. No comment so far from Franks.
The Iraq invasion began in March 2003 -- over the vigorous protests of several
Graham spoke today on N-B-C's "Meet the Press." He's retiring from his Senate
seat at the end of the year.
The Florida Democrat writes of his meeting with Franks in his new book, which
goes on sale Tuesday.
KGBT4 News attributes their source to the Associated Press. Notice how nothing
specific about the Saudi's is mentioned. Notice that nothing is made of the
way the CIA presented the doctored WMD threats to justify the rush to the war
on Iraq. This is typical TV news coverage. Most reporters do very little
investigation of their stories and present only a simplified version of what
source they choose. They could have used the more detailed Knight-Ridder
And you get the same exact TV News coverage (the same exact wording) in TV
networks all across the country, from Florida, to Texas, to California, to
Vermont, to Mississippi, to Wisconsin, to Kentucky,... in just about every
state. It's as if the words were piped from central corporate headquarters to
all of the TV branches. All of them with the same exact headline,"Senator says
commander told him of early drain of forces from Afghanistan for Iraq ."
And the whole meaning of the original story has changed. The Original story
mentions details about known Saudi financial links, mentions how the Bush
administration thwarted attempts to investigate these links, discusses how CIA
director George Tenet pumped up the Iraqi WMD threat, talks about diverting
resources from Afghanistan to Iraq, includes a discussion with Tommy Franks
that lasts 5 paragraphs, and talks about how Senator Graham was shocked when 27
pages of the details about Saudi financial links to the 9-11 terrorists were
removed by the Bush Administration. If all you did was watch TV news, you'd
get the impression that the story was about some Democratic ex-senator whining
about draining forces from Afghanistan for Iraq.
I did a count of all the stations with the same above headline. I counted 46.
I don't know about you, but that is scary.
Go see for yourself here.
|Sunday, 5 September 2004 at 13h 6m 50s|
Seattle Times cannot support Bush for president
Four years ago, this page endorsed George W. Bush for president. We cannot do
so again — because of an ill-conceived war and its aftermath, undisciplined
spending, a shrinkage of constitutional rights and an intrusive social agenda.
The Bush presidency is not what we had in mind. Our endorsement of John Kerry
is not without reservations, but he is head and shoulders above the incumbent.
The first issue is the war. When the Bush administration began beating the
drums for war on Iraq, this page said repeatedly that he had not justified it.
When war came, this page closed ranks, wanting to support our troops and give
the president the benefit of the doubt. The troops deserved it. In hindsight,
their commander in chief did not.
The first priority of a new president must be to end the military occupation of
Iraq. This will be no easy task, but Kerry is more likely to do it — and with
some understanding of Middle Eastern realities — than is Bush.
The election of Kerry would sweep away neoconservative war intellectuals who
drive policy at the White House and Pentagon. It would end the back-door draft
of American reservists and the use of American soldiers as imperial police. It
would also provide a chance to repair America's overseas relationships, both
with governments and people, particularly in the world of Islam.
A less-belligerent, more-intelligent foreign policy should cause less anger to
be directed at the United States. A political change should allow Americans to
examine the powers they have given the federal government under the Patriot
Act, and the powers the president has claimed by executive order.
This page had high hopes for President Bush regarding taxing and spending. We
endorsed his cut in income taxes, expecting that it would help business and
discipline new public spending. In the end, there was no discipline in it....
-- Seattle Times editorial on Friday, August 27, 2004
|Saturday, 4 September 2004 at 15h 41m 25s|
Leave Those Children Underneath Statistics
From an article in
the New York Times by Sam Dillon
School ratings issued under the terms of President Bush's No Child Left
Behind law have clashed with school report card systems administered by some
states, leaving parents unsure which level of government to believe or whether
to transfer their children, an option offered by the law.
In North Carolina, which pioneered one of the nation's most sophisticated
accountability systems, more than 32 schools ranked as excellent by the state
failed to meet Washington's criteria for academic progress. In California, 317
schools showed tremendous academic growth on the state's performance index, yet
the federal law labeled them low-performing.
Here in Darien, the Hinsdale South High School is one of a dozen prestigious
high schools in prosperous Chicago suburbs that failed to meet a federal target
and were obligated to send letters to parents explaining their shortcomings and
offering to transfer children to other schools.
In Westport, Conn., the Bedford Middle School, where test scores are often
among Connecticut's highest, was called low-performing because the school
failed to meet the 95 percent standard for testing for the disabled by one
"It really bugs me that we got a black eye for a mechanical reason rather than
for anything legitimate," said Dr. Elliott Landon, Westport's superintendent.
Montgomery High School in Skillman, N.J., seven miles northwest of Princeton,
was honored by the federal Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School of
Excellence in 1993, and last year its mean SAT score of 1220 was 194 points
above the national average. But Montgomery, too, failed to meet federal targets
last year because one student's absence brought the school afoul of the federal
rule requiring that 95 percent of students take standardized tests.
This law is tooted by the Administration as an effort to get rid of the "soft
bigotry of low expectations." But the administration does not speak of the
various criticisms about the proposed medicine. The administration also has
not fully funded the act, nor has the administration addressed the many
different budget cuts that schools all across the nation are having to make
because of shrinking tax bases and rising insurance costs. It is a foolish
assumption that a troubled school will be able to hire quality staff to teach
difficult, ill-prepared students with less funds.
According to the Democratic Policy Committee's chairman Byron
President Bush's budget proposes the smallest increase for education since
Fiscal Year 1996. While total discretionary spending for education would rise
three percent (or $1.68 billion) from $55.67 billion to $57.34 billion, if
enacted, this figure would be the smallest increase for education since Fiscal
Year 1996, at a time when schools are struggling to meet the mandates of the
The President's budget would severely underfund NCLB programs. Schools are
struggling to provide quality services to increased numbers of students, while
also implementing accountability and testing mandates. At the same time, state
budget crises are forcing dramatic cuts in state education funding. Yet, the
Administration proposes a small increase of only $448 million (or 1.8 percent)
to $24.91 billion over the Fiscal Year 2004 level of $24.46 billion for the
law. The Bush budget would underfund the levels promised by NCLB for Fiscal
Year 2005 ($34.32 billion) by $9.4 billion.
The President's budget would leave millions of children behind by failing to
fully fund the Title I program for disadvantaged students. Title I is critical
to closing achievement gaps, maximizing student achievement, and helping all
students learn. While the Administration proposes an increase of $1 billion -
for a total of $13.34 billion - this figure is more than $7.1 billion below the
NCLB authorized level for Fiscal Year 2005 ($20.5 billion). Overall, the
President's budget leaves 4.6 million children behind. If Title I were funded
at the level promised by the NCLB in Fiscal Year 2005, it would fully serve 2.4
million more - over half - of those children currently left behind.
The President's budget would fail to fully fund the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (or special education) Part B State Grants.
Fully funding IDEA would help disabled students succeed and ensure that schools
have the resources they need to serve all children well. The Administration,
however, proposes to increase IDEA Part B funding by only $1 billion, for a
total of $11.07 billion - significantly less than what is needed to move toward
fully funding the program. This figure would provide 19.7 percent of the
national average per-pupil expenditure - still less than half of the "full
funding" level that Congress committed to paying when the IDEA was first
adopted in 1975.
Pell grant maximum award would be frozen. During his presidential campaign,
then-candidate Bush promised a maximum Pell grant award of $5,100. But under
President Bush's budget, the maximum award would be frozen for the third
straight year at $4,050, enough to pay just 34 percent of the average annual
cost of attending college - down from 42 percent in 2001.
The President's budget would pay for inadequate increases to Title I and IDEA
by eliminating 38 education programs providing vital services to children.
Programs slated for elimination include dropout prevention, gifted and
talented, school counseling, alcohol abuse reduction, arts in education,
Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships (LEAP), and school leadership.
Many of the eliminated programs have proven track records in helping students
stay in and succeed at school. Eliminating these programs seems in direct
conflict with the laudable goal of increasing graduation rates which is central
to the Administration's focus on literacy.
The President's budget would further undermine the NCLB by level-funding
programs that work. These programs include 21st Century Community Learning
Centers (which fund after-school programs), despite strong evidence that
keeping children safe after school can reduce juvenile crime and prevent
children from engaging in risky behaviors. 21st Century Community Learning
Centers would be level-funded at $999 million - half of the $2 billion Fiscal
Year 2005 authorized level. As a result, 1.32 million children who should
receive after-school services would be left behind. He freezes most other major
K-12 education programs without providing an inflation adjustment, including
Impact Aid ($1.2 billion), rural education ($168 million), and English language
acquisition ($681 million).
The President's budget includes a "choice incentive fund" that would divert
taxpayer funds to private schools through a $50 million voucher program.
Research clearly demonstrates that vouchers do little to improve student
achievement. Yet, the President includes in his budget $50 million for a
new "Choice Incentive Fund" to pay for student transfers to private and public
schools - an initiative that is merely a cover for private school voucher
programs. Rather than experimenting with programs that make no real difference
in student achievement, we should focus on ensuring that all students have the
tools for success - including smaller class sizes, high teacher quality, more
parental involvement, and up-to-date materials.
Despite President Bush's emphasis on job training in his State of the Union
address, his budget proposal would reduce federal spending for career and
technical education to approximately $1 billion, a cut of more than $300
million from this year's funding levels.
Or, as was well stated by House Representative from Ohio Dennis Kucinich
in January 2004
"New Hampshire teachers receive the 49th lowest salaries in the country,"
Kucinich said, "and the Bush Administration's implementation of the 'No Child
Left Behind Act' is exacerbating the problem. A study by the New Hampshire
School Administrators Association estimated that the Bush Administration's plan
will give New Hampshire schools only $77 for every student, while costing the
state $575 per student to implement....
To make matters worse, the Bush Administration has cut in New Hampshire alone:
$800,000 for Pell Grant funding for lower income college students, $1.1 million
for educating children in rural schools, $400,000 for teacher quality training
grants, and $230,000 for safe and drug free schools grants.
You see, school districts are spending more money to implement tests than they
are receiving in funding, and they are having to make cuts to comply with the
laws, instead of beefing up programs that would assist the student's abilities
and skills that aid their taking of these tests.
You can read what John Kerry has said about this
Leaving aside the rigidity of the rubric used to determine whether a school is
failing, the prescribed medicine is ridiculous. The idea that competition will
automatically create a better educational system ignores the reality that there
are only so many seats available in those schools with good staffs and a
dedicated source of funding. Poor kids with vouchers will still be turned
away, and forced to go to the remaining schools. If the system becomes based
on profit, than the good schools will become more expensive. And the poor
schools will further wither once the students who can leave depart. The
students who remain will be those students who are most in need and least
prepared, and the schools will have less funds than they did before. This act
is only a self-fulfilling prophesy.
There are measures that are more effective than the Leave No Child Behind
(LNCB) Legislation. These consist of reducing the class size and the work load
of the teaching staff so that they will have more time to devote to the
specific needs of the students. Providing intervention programs such as after
school tutors, and special classes that specifically address the needs of
disabled and ESL students. Schools that have improved use these techniques.
The LNCB act is however merely punitive, and does not provide the funds
necessary to assist troubled schools in their efforts to improve. And how can
a rubric which measures improvement as a percentage increase really be an
accurate assessment? Once a school reaches a certain high caliber level of
achievement, how much further can the school improve? To use an analogy, when
a student makes a 98% on a test, do we consider the student failing because
they score a 96% on the next test?
The LNCB act was really designed by people who wanted to destroy the public
school system, because despite vast evidence to the contrary, they are blinded
by a belief that privatization is preferable. But, just as in the Medical
Health industry, some sectors of our society are just too important and too
expensive to be farmed out to for profit corporations. The role of government
is and has always been to make investments in our communities that benefit
society as a whole.
Competition is based on the idea that the companies who survive are those who
can make the most profit for the least amount of investment. This is often
referred to in economic literature as efficiency or worker
productivity. In some sectors of the economy, this is preferable. But in
other economic sectors, a decrease in investment for the sake of efficiency
(and profit)results in a product of poor quality, a more expensive product, or
both. This is certainly the case with education and medical care.
And although it might be true that the President's budget is the largest
educational outlay in the history of the budget, that statement is indicative
only of the natural law of increase. The budget is still about $26 billion
below what was authorized in the NCLB legislation. A 1.6% increase only keeps
up with inflation. The money spent on Education each year has always been
higher than the previous year, so it takes a lot of sophistry to imply that the
minor increase is indicative of a great new era. You can increase my $3000
monthly salary by 48 dollars (a 1.6% increase) and I will have made more money
than I ever did before, but I certainly won't be able now buy a house anymore
than I was the year before. The same can be said for the Education budget that
is touted as the largest in history.
So when president Bush mouths off about how he is raising the bar and
eliminating the so-called "soft-bigotry of low expectations," he does not
fairly describe the reality of education. Instead, The "Children Are Being
Left Behind Act" should be referred to as "the rigid stupidity of
|Friday, 3 September 2004 at 21h 28m 23s|
Bush lives in a bubble
We know how the Bush administration has handled the war: It fouled up
royally. First, it had bad intelligence. Second, administration members shut
their eyes and their minds to all advice, to all of the caveats from the
intelligence community, that didn't justify going to war. Third, the
administration disregarded sound military advice that a lot more troops would
be needed than it was sending. Fourth, by not giving the U.N. weapons
inspectors time to finish their job, the Bush administration lost the support
of France, Germany, Russia and most of the rest of the world. Fifth, it did not
stop the looting. Sixth, it did not anticipate and prepare for the resistance.
Seventh, its occupation has been nothing but a cluster-blunder. And eighth, it
has overextended the U.S. military but stubbornly refuses to admit it....
I noticed that Mr. Bush has added Afghanistan and Iraq to the roster of
democracies in one of his campaign ads, which, in a bizarre fashion, has clips
of the Olympics. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is a democracy. They are both led
by U.S.-appointed people. Both rely on U.S. forces for security. Both are
unstable, are dominated by warlords and are far from peaceful.
Mr. Bush seems to have a talent (some would call it a mental aberration) of
believing that things are so if he merely says they are so. Thus, Iraq, which
he once said had weapons of mass destruction, is now a democracy in his mind,
despite the fact that no elections have been held. He also believes that we
have a robust economy, which is something else that is not in sync with reality.
That's what worries me most about President Bush. He seems to live inside a
bubble created by his staff and cronies and to be genuinely unaware of what's
going on outside his bubble. It is very dangerous to have a president who
cannot see the world as it really is. Novelist Ayn Rand once observed that
while we can ignore reality, we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring
President Bush has proven to be all campaign and no governance. Every word out
of his mouth, every policy, seems to have been crafted by campaign aides with
the goal of not accomplishing anything but his re-election.
That, too, is a dangerous situation. Every president has to keep an eye on the
electorate, but the best ones have always tried to do the right thing even if
their campaign aides objected. A true leader will do the right thing and then
try to convince the voters that he has done so. An empty suit will do whatever
his campaign manipulators tell him is best for the re-election campaign.
-- Charley Reese, For Friday, September
|Thursday, 2 September 2004 at 20h 7m 13s|
Kerry takes off the Gloves, but will the Media show it.
The Kerry campaign has just released the following prepared remarks, to be
delivered tonight at a campaign rally in Springfield, Ohio.
"We all saw the anger and distortion of the Republican Convention. For the past
week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as Commander-in-
chief. Well, here's my answer. I'm not going to have my commitment to defend
this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and
by those who have misled the nation into Iraq.
"The Vice President even called me unfit for office last night. I guess I'll
leave it up to the voters whether five deferments makes someone more qualified
to defend this nation than two tours of duty.
"Let me tell you what I think makes someone unfit for duty. Misleading our
nation into war in Iraq makes you unfit to lead this nation. Doing nothing
while this nation loses millions of jobs makes you unfit to lead this nation.
Letting 45 million Americans go without healthcare makes you unfit to lead this
nation. Letting the Saudi Royal Family control our energy costs makes you unfit
to lead this nation. Handing out billions of government contracts to
Halliburton while you're still on their payroll makes you unfit. That's the
record of George Bush and Dick Cheney. And it's not going to change. I believe
it's time to move America in a new direction; I believe it's time to set a new
course for America."
Which soundbite will the corporate media allow? Will there then be a cut to
a "political analyst" who says that Kerry is out of touch with America,
something else that is mean-spirited and derogatory, or just plain irrelevant
Perhaps instead the corporate media will focus on the "irresponsible antics" of
the 10 or 15 protesters who shed their suits on the RNC floor in the middle of
Bush's revision of history --- uh, I mean acceptance speech.
There I go again, Bush-bashing in a way only a Clinton-hater could love.
By the way, rumor is that Tony Blair is sick of President Bush's incompetence.
Bush has been begging him to come to the United States to give him a medal, so
there can be a photo-op moment of Bush looking presidential. But Blair refuses.
The word is out. Bush is an incompetent, petulant, desperately mean bastard.
Sorry if you're ignorant ass thinks that the truth is Bush-bashing.
No, I'm not. Get an education and leave me alone.
|Wednesday, 1 September 2004 at 23h 16m 1s|
Liberators or Occupiers
Zell Miller preceded Vice President Dick Cheney, saying that "nothing
makes this ex-marine more mad" when American troops in Iraq are
called "occupiers" instead of "liberators" by what he calls
Well sir, tell that to the Iraqi's.
When United States troops remained in Germany and Japan after World War Two,
not one soldier, NOT A SINGLE SOLDIER was shot or killed by militia groups.
How many American soldiers have died since the day Bush landed on an Aircraft
Carrier and announced "Mission Accomplished?" As of September 1st 2004, twice
as many as were killed before the mission was accomplished.
And don't liberators do deeds like repair the infrastructure, rather than skim
off billions for profits or importing cheap labor instead of hiring unemployed
young Iraqi's in need of work?
Do liberators round up random groups of teenagers, toss them in jails like Abu
Ghraib, and subject them to humiliation akin to (if not outright) torture?
Do liberators appoint corrupt Baathist officials and promulgate a constitution
instead of holding free elections, because the Bush administration was more
interested in creating economic opportunities for foreign investors and
multinational corporations? This is what happened when General Jay Garner was
pulled out of Iraq in June 2003 and replaced by Paul Bremer.
And is it to liberate Iraq that appointed ambassador John Negroponte says this
week that he is going to divert reconstruction spending into security forces?
Will the Iraqi's see Americans as liberators when they are dying from depleted
Uranium, who have sewage in their water supply, and who can't get more than 4
hours of electricity because privatization has been an absolute failure. Does
that hate in their eyes come from the love they have for what is presumed by
speakers at the Republican podium?
And now in the wake of these compiled failures, the urge for stability is so
great that we are in the midst of creating a police state headed by a new thug
named Allawi, using the same police that Saddam used, and the same prisons
where Saddam tortured.
Living in a bubble, blind patriots don't connect the ineptitude of the Bush
administration to the current results, since they have assumed the morality of
ending one dictator will automatically produce a glorious democracy of freedom
regardless of history and deep rifts in the Iraqi state. We don't take up arms
in the United States when we disagree politically, but will the well trained,
armed militias of the Kurds, Shitites, and Sunni's do so.
According to observers with 20-30 years of knowledge and real experience in the
region (as opposed to the ideologues who safely write position papers in the
cubicles of statuesque offices at think-tank Washington D.C.) no one in Iraq
believes the elections of 2005 will matter at all.
This is not a "miscalculation." That word implies that you dutifully multiplied
2 and 4 and ... oops ... you got 6. This is a disgraceful failure, and the
vehemence of rebuttal is just defiant denial. Not only did the administration
not study for the test, not only did they not pay attention in class or do
their homework, but they also presumed they didn't even have to read the book
on how to effectively pursue foreign policy and warfare.
But some people who take a shit will eat it too.
Beating the chest and shouting "USA" is not going to change reality. And
completely misses the point. Admitting that the Iraq war is a disaster because
of incompetence and lies is not anti-patriotic. Are we going to chop off our
nose to spite the face?
Two sources you can consult : Robert
Fisk and juan cole.
|Wednesday, 1 September 2004 at 21h 0m 12s|
The Party that does not Hate
Picture of old geezer with squishy face, wearing a band-aid on his chin to
mock Kerry -- based on lies that he believes to be true.
|Wednesday, 1 September 2004 at 22h 57m 24s|
Schwastikaneger Lies Again
On Tuesday, 31 August 2004, at the GOP conventions, Schwarzenegger said:
I finally arrived here in 1968. What a special day it was. I remember I arrived
here with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of determination, full of
desire.The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the
Nixon-Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend of mine who spoke German and
English translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like
socialism, which I had just left.
The facts? There was no presidential debate in that election. Nixon never
But then I heard Nixon speak. Then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about
free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and
strengthening the military.
interests Schwastikaneger lied.
Yes Schwastikaneger said he took no special interest money, and when asked why
he's taking millions from corporate lobbyists by some upsnippity reporter,
Schwastikaneger said he meant unions.
And what things did his friend translate sounded like "socialism?" Could it be
that ole Schwastikaneger threw uneducated nonsense to the hungry idiotic dogs
so that he could fed of off their irrational screams?
Hubert Humphrey of all people. Hubert Humphrey was a great speaker with a
passion for the rights and freedoms of all men. This is the man who bravely
made a speech at the 1948 Democratic convention where he wanted his party to
enter the "beautiful light" by ending southern segregation and add a civil
rights plank. Was ending the culture of racism socialism?
He happened to be Vice President when Lyndon Johnson was president, and became
the Democratic nominee by default after Johnson resigned and Robert Kennedy was
assassinated. What could Schwastikaneger be talking about? What could
Humphrey have said that "sounded like socialism?"
Let's look at some Humphrey quotes from
Fortunately, the time has long passed when people
liked to regard the United States as some kind of
melting pot, taking men and women from every part
of the world and converting them into standardized,
homogenized Americans. We are, I think, much more
mature and wise today. Just as we welcome a world
of diversity, so we glory in an America of diversity--
an America all the richer for the many different and
distinctive strands of which it is woven.
--Hubert H. Humphrey "All-America Tribute to
Archbishop Iakovos," speech,
15 Jan. 1967, Chicago, Ill.
Much of our American progress has been the product
of the individual who had an idea; pursued it; fashioned
it; tenaciously clung to it against all odds; and then
produced it, sold it, and profited from it.
--NO DATE GIVEN
OR FROM http://www.hhh.umn.edu/humphrey-forum/quot.htm
"We cannot use a double standard for measuring our own and other people's
policies. Our demands for democratic practices in other lands will be no more
effective than the guarantees of those practiced in our own country."
"I am not here to judge whether people are locked in poverty because of
themselves or because of the society in which they live. All I know is that
they are there and we are trying to do something about it."
"It is all too easy for a society to measure itself against some abstract
philosophical principle or political slogan. But in the end, there must remain
the question: What kind of life is one society providing to the people that
live in it?"
"When we say, 'One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all', we are
talking about all people. We either ought to believe it or quit saying it ."
"Equality means equality for all - no exceptions, no 'yes, buts', no
asterisked footnotes imposing limits."
"Be clear where America stands. Human brotherhood and equal opportunity for
every man, woman, and child, we are committed to it, in America and around the
"What you do, what each of us does, has an effect on the country, the state,
the nation, and the world."
"My philosophy has always been that benefits should percolate up rather than
"There is no such thing as an acceptable level of unemployment, because hunger
is not acceptable, poverty is not acceptable, poor health is not acceptable,
and a ruined life is not acceptable."
--NO DATE GIVEN
Which one of these statements sounds like "socialism" to the schwatstikaneger?
I don't hear any calling for government control of the means of production in
any of these quotations. I don't hear any calling by Humphrey for the workers
to take over the factories.
What I do hear is a sense that there is a moral obligation by our society to
have a bottom level, a bare minimum so that no one should have to be born into
poverty, ignorance, or suffer the indignity of bankruptcy merely because they
become sick. This does not mean government handouts or welfare queens. This
means food stamps so that children don't have to starve. This means a free
public education so that everyone has access to the same opportunity. This
means that no one should be exploited or profit from the sick and disabled.
All too often, that word is abused by politicians with a hidden agenda and a
vain eye looking at power. Schwastikaneger is no exception.
|Wednesday, 1 September 2004 at 17h 17m 50s|
Did Nixon really say that in 1968?
"When the strongest nation in the world can be tied down for four years in a
war in Vietnam with no end in sight, when the richest nation in the world
cannot manage its economy, when the nation with the greatest tradition of the
rule of war is plagued by unprecedented racial violence, when the President of
the United States cannot travel abroad, or to any major city at home, then its
time for new leadership for the United States."
-- President Nixon, 1968 RNC Acceptance Speech
GOTO THE NEXT 10 COLUMNS