Monday, April 07, 2014
Coming To A Deserted Schoolyard Near You
An interesting item caught my eye this morning regarding the state of public education in The Peach State. The article had to do with the mess that has resulted since Georgia passed HB 1133 a little piece of ALEC boilerplate designed to “starve the beast” of public education by siphoning off huge amounts of tax revenue that used to support public schools and bestowing it on private schools instead.
In fact, Georgia’s public education has been so negatively impacted that four taxpayers have filed suit against the state for failing to adequately fund under-achieving public schools, while diverting public funds to help pay for private religious schooling. And that is only the tip of the iceberg . . .
According to PRWatch.com:
Despite widespread public opposition to the education privatization agenda, at least 139 bills or state budget provisions reflecting American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) education bills have been introduced in 43 states and the District of Columbia in just the first six months of 2013, according to an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org. Thirty-one have become law.
You see ALEC’s task force on education, chaired by a for-profit private school corporation, sees the American educational system as a $500 billion sector of the US economy that is just ripe for the picking. And they’ve been at this for quite awhile—Milwaukee, under Gov. Tommy Thompson [an ALEC alum] was the first city in the US to enact a school voucher program, in 1990.
Since then, similar programs have sprouted up all over the US. In the 2012-2013 school year there were 16 states and DC offering “choice” programs covering nearly a quarter million students. And for ALEC this is a two-bagger because not only does it divert public money to for-profit schools, those schools are typically non-union workplaces which undermines the power of public teachers’ unions.
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 04/07/14 at 03:30 PM
Categories: Politics • Bqhatevwr •
Saturday, April 05, 2014
Kochs Branch Out Into The Whine Business
One of the many things that I love about the Internets is the opportunity it affords to be politically active without getting my head bashed in. I was 18 years old in 1968 when my childhood friends started disappearing into jungles, or Canadian provinces, as the case may be.
At that time, I learned that the most expedient way to express my grief and disapproval was to band together with the rest of my generation to make a very loud, often inarticulate, noise. That behavior often resulted in my getting spit upon, derided and, on some special occasions, getting my head bashed or my pins knocked out from under me by fire hoses, for my trouble.
Unpleasant enough stuff, but, as a rule, such encounters did not end as badly as Kent State.
Gradually, I learned that if one stood firm, kept faith and kept up the noise, it was, indeed, possible to make change happen. Nowadays I’m way too old to get my head banged [or put myself in a position to, God forbid, break a hip] but I still have an abiding belief in making noise.
It has taken me a few days to fully digest Charles Koch’s most recent lamentation, nailed up on Rupert Murdoch’s wailing wall for billionaires, the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal. In case anyone hasn’t seen Koch’s op-ed, it was evidently far too important to put behind the pay-wall, where Koch’s target audience of Lying Libruls were unlikely to pay for the privilege, so you can find it here. Very democratic . . .
Generally, I don’t much care for the Open Letter format but since my chances are slim for a one-on-one with Charles Koch, and my political beliefs won’t allow me to remain silent, I’m forced to rebut his opinions out here in the less populous reaches of the internet, where, nevertheless, worthy citizens of this republic still keep faith with the ideals that Mr Koch seems hell-bent to dispense with . . .
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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/05/14 at 10:05 AM
Wednesday, April 02, 2014
SCOTUS Shows Love for the Rainmakers and Buckrakers
In the home of the brave, free speech comes with a price tag, as the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 (No! Really?) decision in the McCutcheon v. FEC case, which basically gives rich folks the license to print ballots.
Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but here’s the deal—if putting your money where your mouth is, is a form of free speech, then some animals on this farm are obviously more equal than others, if laws that try to keep the rich from drowning out the voices of the not-so-much are seen as onerously violating the rights of the people who can afford to pay for this here microphone and mean to use it.
It kind of says, if you can’t afford to pay for the good sound system, you might as well shut up.
There was some dancing around in that decision about whether campaign financing was about quid pro quo—look, I get it. The decision for letting our politicians be bought outright was centered on not making it for each trick they turn out, but letting them perform on a retainer basis. And that’s sweet, but let’s call it what it is. And let’s not pretend that our transactional political system isn’t about quid pro quo because the paymasters don’t give direction when our little dears can figure out what they are supposed to do to please Daddy without all that much direction.
Now, there might be an antidote to the influence of money in the form of a critical, tough, independent media who can cut through the “talk” of money and see to it that “bullshit” hits the road. A lot of our mainstream media might not necessarily recognize that cutting through the bull is their job, though. That’s kind of why I see blogging as important. Maybe this cosa nostra can strike a little bit back at the pezzanovantes that want to make peasants out of us. But otherwise, I encourage everybody to vote the fuck out of the GOP, because, let’s be honest, they are the most boughten and paidest-for. I’m all for kicking the Koch-machine—how’bout you?
(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged.)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 04/02/14 at 10:08 PM
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
The Banality of Evil: Rumsfeld Edition
Seems like a lifetime ago, in the 1960s, philosopher Hannah Arendt gave us the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe Nazi Adolf Eichmann’s demeanor during his war crimes trial in Jerusalem.
Despite all the efforts of the prosecution, everybody could see that this man was not a “monster,” but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown. And since this suspicion would have been fatal to the entire enterprise [his trial], and was also rather hard to sustain in view of the sufferings he and his like had caused to millions of people, his worst clowneries were hardly noticed and almost never reported (p. 55).
Arendt has always had critics of her thesis about Eichmann’s “ordinariness.” Still, I find her ironic notion of the “banality of evil” a very useful device for characterizing some of the inexplicable nuttiness afoot in 21st century America.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 03/26/14 at 12:36 PM
Monday, March 24, 2014
I See A Dark Man, A Tall Man With No Leadership Skills
America’s Biggest Loser decided to come out and do the Nae Nae on Face the Nation, Sunday, just for shits and giggles, I guess. There’s no more plausible explanation for why Willard Romney would set himself up by grabbing a hot mic and exposing himself to nationwide derision. Again.
Unless, of course, he’s delusional enough to think that he still has something to sell America [perish the thought].
For whatever reason, the man decided to prance like a dancing horse over to Bob Schieffer’s Place and do a Loser’s Lap during which he delivered this precious evidence of why Willard is not Barack—brace yourselves, ESP enters into it:
The president’s naïveté with regards to Russia, and his faulty judgement about Russia’s intentions and objectives has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face. And unfortunately not having anticipated Russia’s intentions, the president wasn’t able to shape the kinds of events that may have been able to prevent the kinds of circumstances that you’re seeing in the Ukraine, as well as the things that you’re seeing in Syria.
I think effective leaders typically are able to see the future to a certain degree, and are able to take actions to shape it in some way. And that’s, of course, what this president has failed to do. And as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton as well.
Ooooh! the ultimate burn. I guess he learned words like naïveté while he was making Paris safe for the Angel Moroni. Also, the “and your little dog, too” addendum about Hillz was a nice touch..
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Posted by Bette Noir on 03/24/14 at 09:55 AM
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Brats in the Frat: A Perfectly Reasonable Political Theory
The previous post reminded me of a political theory that I can not for the life of me figure out where I read about it—it can’t be original to myself. It is the idea that, in any college movie involving fraternities—the “bad guy frat” is obviously the Republicans. It seems to be true. Take Animal House, in part the brain child of the late and lamented Harold Ramis, as an example—Neidermeyer could not possibly be a Kennedy supporter. And the same holds true with Revenge of the Nerds: in one installment, Morton Downey Jr. was even allied with the Alpha Betas against the Tri-Lams at Adams College. And in the somewhat less impactful Jeremy Piven vehicle, PCU which allegedly sends-up “political correctness” and “anti-frat” culture, come on. The David Spade (Rand McPherson?) frat is pretty seriously a bunch of up-tighty whitey righties.
I’m sure there are other examples that drive this home. But in any event, the theory might explain why I’d rather have a coffee with Pajama Boy than get ironically duck-fupped on PBR with Scott. YMMV.
This is a late-night open thread.
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 03/23/14 at 11:35 PM
Friday, March 21, 2014
Pajama Boy Goes Galt
In a comment on Bette Noir’s great Rumproast post on GOP voter outreach, reader SoVeryConfused had a request:
Request commentary on the GOP outreach to Millennials, recently performed by the hipster dude in the tortoise-shell glasses and striped shirt, last seen putting 87 octane gas into a Audi A4.
Not to step on Bette’s toes, but I think I can field this one…
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Posted by Big Bad Bald Bastard on 03/21/14 at 03:11 AM
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Don’t Be Afraid . . . It’s Just GOP Outreach
Well, it’s that time of the month, again. Time to check the GOP corpse for post-autopsy vital signs (see RNC Growth and Opportunity Project).
Speaking of which, just this week, Prince Rebus had breakfast with the good folks of The Christian Science Monitor to celebrate the Autopsy’s one year anniversary [seriously!] and warned us to look out for a Republican Tsunami!!1! in the mid-term elections.
Just think of this exuberant outburst as a semi-annual employee self-evaluation. As chairman of the RNC, it is Reince’s charge to project a robust and manly confidence in his party’s prospects.
Right now, Mr Priebus must focus on 2014 but that doesn’t mean that the Chairman hasn’t spent considerable time and effort looking ahead to The Big One in 2016 and parsing the results of the 2012 presidential election.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 03/20/14 at 12:04 PM
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Man Up, Poors! Paul Ryan Is Nobody’s Fool
Mr Big Stuff (aka Rep. Ryan), Congress’ self-apointed Poors Troll, sent his personal drone out over a few American urban centers and determined “ya got trouble, right here in River City.”
This is how Ryan sees it:
We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.
In case that sounds like political argle-bargle to you, Laura Clawson, a linguist with expertise in political argle-bargle over at Markos’ Place offered up this helpful translation:
The problem is “in our inner cities” (where the black people live) where men (black men) are “not even thinking about working.” It’s a “real culture problem” (black culture).
Thank you, Laura. That’s what I thought. Now that we’re all post-racist it hardly seems necessary to speak in tongues about racism, anymore, but Mr Ryan is, after all, a conservative. So, maybe he’s not ready to shed his political correctness for that bold leap into 21st century overt racism, yet.
Of course, the well-read and wonktastic, Rep Ryan (R-Planet Derp) supported his argle-bargle with citations from Charles Murray. Evidently, Ryan’s scholarly quest has advanced from Ayn “Queen of Mean” Rand’s dystopic, but not overtly “colorful” maunderings, to Murray, a white nationalist specializing in pseudo-scientific studies that “prove” that social inequality is caused by genetic inferiority.
In Murray’s own words:
A huge number of well-meaning whites fear that they are closet racists, and this book tells them they are not. It’s going to make them feel better about things they already think but do not know how to say.
—regarding his book, Losing Ground, quoted in “Daring Research or Social Science Pornography?: Charles Murray,” The New York Times Magazine, 1994
Well, I have good news and bad news, Mr Ryan—if you are taken in by this sophomoric pseudo-sociological crap you are a lot dumber than you come across (and that’s saying something) but you’re no closet racist. You’re an out and about, down and dirty hardcore bigot. And no amount of P90X, deer-stalking and catfish noodling is ever going to make you a man, let alone a principled man.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 03/13/14 at 11:15 AM
Friday, March 07, 2014
Listen Up, Poors! Feed Your Souls!
(h/t Big Bad Bald Bastard - what a swell idea!)
OK Poors, maybe you can’t afford to go to CPAC to feel the love, in person, and learn all of the great ways Conservatives can change your lives but that’s where Rump Roast can help by reporting the Good News (wouldn’t a nice hunk of rump roast taste really good right now?).
Fahgeddaboudit! Poors. Feed Your Souls, you silly moochers. So what if your parents are welfare-sucking meth heads who haven’t gotten dressed since 2006 and who are too busy feeding their heads to put apples in brown bags for you? Stay hungry!
Jesus and the GOP love you. And Paul Ryan has spent a lot of time and taxpayer dollars flying from swing state to swing state to investigate your plight and he now has a shitload of Poor Ideas!
P.S. Remember Poors, it’s not the policies that suck, it’s the word choice.
And for even more #RyanFail please visit yr Wonkette.
Posted by Bette Noir on 03/07/14 at 07:49 AM
Thursday, March 06, 2014
Mama Don’t ‘Low No Dreamers Round Here
Meet Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) who is livin’ the dream. According to Black’s congressional bio she has risen from humble beginnings:
. . . the middle daughter of working-class, Great Depression era parents, Diane saw firsthand their efforts to create a better life for their children through their pursuit of the American Dream.
Diane was the first member of her family to graduate from college degree when she earned a nursing degree from Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, in 1971. She then married a doctor, David Black, who went on to build a drug-testing empire known as Aegis Services.
Diane Black worked as a nurse for a while, then decided to try her hand at legislating because . . . YOLO! Mrs. Black got herself elected to the Tennessee House and served for 6 years, then became a state senator in 2004.
In 2010, Mrs. Black caught the TEA Party wave and surfed into Congress where she insists on being addressed as Congressman and just happens to be one of the wealthiest members of Congress.
How’s that for a success story? Why, I’d go so far as to say that Diane Black personifies what the American Dream is all about.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 03/06/14 at 01:08 PM
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Not the Least, and Not the Last
Yesterday marked some new changes in the battle of LGBT equality, with AZ Gov.Jan Brewer vetoing Senate bill 1062, finding that there was no evidence that people of faith were being unduly burdened and that allowing this bill to become law would have unintended consequences, and with a federal judge ruling the Texas gay marriage ban unconstitutional.
It’s not unalloyed good news, because although I am optimistic (just see my last blog entry) I was not found in a cabbage patch nor was I raised on sunshine and good vibes. The response of some social conservatives definitely reminds me that nothing is over—if anything, the desire of a handful of retrograde culture warriors to wrap themselves in the mantle of faith and claim special privilege as a marginalized group seems to have grown. It’s what you might call a smaller, but more motivated group. Look at it this way, if it’s right that the SCOTUS Windsor ruling has literally made all further argument on gay marriage moot, what the hell is Brian Brown gonna do now? Get a real job? Even Fox News might stop inviting Tony Perkins on, and everyone knows Bryan Fischer is worried that if folks are freely getting gay-married…well, he’s on his own thing and I think he’s more scared of turning into a vulva than turning gay, but my point is, that rear-guard money is catch as catch can and they gotta hustle now. So they will hustle.
The thing with prejudice is, the people with it like to feel justified. Of course they are fine upstanding better people. They wouldn’t even have the prejudices they do if they weren’t! This “religious freedom” gambit seemed like a nice way to co-opt the language of the persecuted to sound like maybe they were the ones all victimized and wronged by liberal fascism. Which is the very worst kind of fascism because of the PBS programming and organic produce, not to mention the whole meaningful chats about “tone”. But the problem is political correctness, don’t you know.
Conservatism won at least one argument with me. I hate political correctness. I will call these professional victims and family values pimps what they are. And for what it’s worth, if they want to talk about respecting religion, I have some reservations about your garden-variety haters deciding it’s totally okay to rip out pages of Leviticus and use them as a fig leaf to cover up their rage-boners over any class of people…being treated totally the same as anyone else.
But here is something to ponder that I don’t think conservatives are taking into account:
This kissing of theocratic ass is costing them—let’s talk about CPAC.
I love CPAC. I pretend I’m appalled because I’m a proper liberal with all the right credentials but as theater? I was a choir geek in high school—I love theater! And who doesn’t like to watch a hot mess of theater sometimes? But anyway, CPAC has engendered drama because they could never let GOProud in the fold. They were out, and never in. The sucking up around the edges to try and pacify the theocrat powers that be apparently cheesed Chris Barron off enough to quit them, hard enough. Is he not a conservative and a brother?
Nope. Moving on, CPAC isn’t having any with atheists either. Wow. If “none of the above” is a big religious choice of the millennial generation, aren’t they making a big mistake right here? Especially given that 1/3 of millennials left religion specifically over how gay people are treated by their faith?
This wedge issue that used to be good for the GOP circa 2004, is not a great issue about now. But if they think they look spiffy in albatross, who am I to try and stop them? You go, GOP-ers! Wrap yourself in the flag and the Bible and take all of your guns at once and….
I dunno. Write a very serious letter to editor of the Washington Times. If they have one. I guess.
(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 02/27/14 at 11:51 PM
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Jesus Loves Me?
Well, Brothers and Sisters, it’s Sunday in this Exceptionally Christian Nation, so what better time to talk a little about what the Lord has in store for us these days?
First up, this guy, God’s right hand in Texas, the one and only Tom DeLay—
wants to remind us all that, on the fifth or sixth day [not sure which], God wrote the US Constitution. That collection of bewigged displaced plutocrats, Masons, Free-Thinkers and Humanists, aka the Founding Fathers, were merely channeling God [King James Version] and his ambitious plans for a “shining city on a hill” to rule his creation, Earth, forever and ever, Amen!
In a recent radio meet-up with Pastor Hagee, the Younger, The Hammer patiently explained why America the Beautiful is such a hot mess, lately.
It’s because we:
stopped realizing that God created this nation, that He wrote the Constitution, that it’s based on Biblical principles…
In retrospect, Brother DeLay believes that the religious right blew it when they:
. . . allowed those that don’t believe in those things to keep pushing us and pushing us and pushing us away from the government instead of standing up and being unashamedly a follower of Jesus Christ and fighting for our values in our society.
But, fear not, “oh ye of little faith:”
I really feel now, Pastor Matt, that the Lord has heard us, and I see the Holy Spirit moving, and I pray every day for an awakening in this country, and I think it’s coming, and people have been praying for many, many years, seeking the face of God, and it’s coming.
As Juanita Jean, astutely points out, it is highly likely that Brother Tom is “hitting the sauce” again . . .
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 02/23/14 at 12:22 PM
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
C’mon Truth, Get Your Damn Shoes On!
“A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but it has never been verified as originating with Twain. This quote may have originated with Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) who attributed it to an old proverb in a sermon delivered on Sunday morning, April 1, 1855. Spurgeon was a celebrated English fundamentalist Baptist preacher. His words were: “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”
Brace yourselves, Roasters, it’s starting early this time around. You know what I mean, right? that goofy quadrennial American reality show called The Making of The President, in which a gang of nattering political nabobs join in a rousing cacophonous chorus of Me! ME!! Look at meeeee!
One of the talking points that seems to be developing legs, on the Right, is the Lawless Obama meme. Rallying round that notion, I expect the pundits of the courtier press to be donning their little amateur constitutionalist thinking caps, any minute now, and letting us in on what their “gut” tells them is unconstitutional. And we the people will commence quivering with fear because . . . ASSAULT ON LIBERTY!!!
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Posted by Bette Noir on 02/18/14 at 10:57 AM
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Send in the Clowns: Breitbart Plans World Domination
Ambling around the Web this evening, I stumbled upon this headline:
Delingpole quits Telegraph ahead of UK launch of Breitbart.com
Two things immediately jumped out at me.
Delingpole—who, if you’ve never had the pleasure, is one James “I’m right about everything” Delingpole, in his own words “a member of probably the most discriminated-against subsection in the whole of British society—the white, middle-aged, public-school-and-Oxbridge educated middle-class male” who a few years ago earned this very blog’s coveted accolade of Dickhead of the Day, along with the timeless lede “Cretinous British twit,” which is far from the unkindest thing that’s ever been said about him (and I’d like a few props for resisting the obvious Photoshop here ... gnnnn).
Why, he’s even described himself as “James Delingpole — the man so barking even Ukip [the UK Independence Party] wouldn’t have him.”
How to sum up Sucky Jim otherwise? Google is, as ever, your helpful friend:
He’s a self-described rightwing libertarian, an ideologue who in 2010 called for a British Tea Party movement, kind of missing the point of the original Tea Party.
He also fancies himself a satirist, a poor man’s Jeremy Clarkson if you will, failing to see why some might take exception to a passage like this:
... Barack Seamus O’Toole Flaherty Joyce O’Bama is the most Irish US president that ever set foot on the Emerald Oisle, so he is, so he is.
Except, when he’s in Africa, of course, when he disappears into the dry ice and re-emerges with a grass skirt and a bone through his nose and declares himself to be Mandingo, Prince of the Bloodline of the Bonga People, Drinker of Cattle Urine, Father of A Thousand Warrior Sons, Keeper of King Solomon’s Mines, Barehanded Slayer of Lions, Undaunted Victim of the Evil Colonial British Empire.
You could also with some justification call him a minor toff (daddy owned a factory, so he’d never make the major leagues short of marrying a Royal filly, which he hasn’t so far), the minorness no doubt being the impetus for his incessant clamor for attention and Pooteresque trumpeting of his mediocrity.
A polemical left-baiting anthropomorphic climate change denier, his Daily Telegraph blurb reads:
James Delingpole is a writer, journalist and broadcaster who is right about everything. He is the author of numerous fantastically entertaining books, including his most recent work Watermelons: How the Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children’s Future, also available in the US, and in Australia as Killing the Earth to Save It. His website is www.jamesdelingpole.com.
His acumen can be gauged if you click on that link to “his” eponymous website.*
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Posted by YAFB on 02/16/14 at 11:42 PM