h/t Susie Madrak. World Record surfing off the coast of Portugal.
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h/t Susie Madrak. World Record surfing off the coast of Portugal.
Open thread below...
Jeb Bush on disrupting the education monopoly so he and his friends can take over.
Let me see if I can keep this simple: Most of these "reform" education organizations are in it to make money. Period. They dress it up, they make inspirational movies about "choice", they talk about "the children," but it pretty much comes down to the basic conservative philosophy: Take a public institution, privatize it, strip it of assets and turn it into a cash cow for investors. It's not about quality, and it's not complicated.
And so the Bush family empire has expanded from the oil business into the education business. No need to give them the benefit of the doubt, we already know what they and their cronies are about: And that's why ALEC is in the thick of this pseudo-reform movement:
A nonprofit group released thousands of e-mails today and said they show how a foundation begun by Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and national education reform leader, is working with public officials in states to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders.
A call to the foundation has not been returned.
The e-mails are between the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and a group Bush set up called Chiefs for Change, whose members are current and former state education commissioners who support Bush’s agenda of school reform, which includes school choice, online education, retention of third-graders who can’t read and school accountability systems based on standardized tests. That includes evaluating teachers based on student test scores and grading schools A-F based on test scores. John White of Louisiana is a current member, as is Tony Bennett, the new commissioner of Florida who got the job after Indiana voters rejected his Bush-style reforms last November and tossed him out of office.
Donald Cohen, chair of the nonprofit In the Public Interest, a resource center on privatization and responsible for contracting in the public sector, said the e-mails show how education companies that have been known to contribute to the foundation are using the organization “to move an education agenda that may or not be in our interests but are in theirs.”
I've noticed a very dangerous trend on network and cable TV news. Have you noticed that does the Beltway media never puts on an economist who disagrees with their deficit fetish? Do economists have to fill out a form that declares what side of the deficit debate they are on before they get invited to discuss the subject? The only time we get meaningful pushback against the deficit scolds is by Paul Krugman --and he's just one person. And to MSNBC, why does Fix The Debt shill Ed Rendell get much more air time than any economist when it comes to issues regarding America's economy?
I want answers and I want them now.
Bloggers like myself, Digby and Duncan (just to name a few) constantly write about this topic. That's how terms like "deficit scolds" came to be. The Beltway has always been infected by a swamp fever meme disease on any given political meme. Recently the fever came out over the fiscal cliff and under Bush, it was the Iraq War. Greg Sargent calls it the Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop. You can fill replace the second word of this title with any other topic and it will fit nicely into the equation.
That’s true, but it’s worth reflecting onwhy Scarborough believes Krugman’s views are so marginal and isolated. It gets back to what I’ve called the “Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop.” The relentless bipartisan focus on the deficit convinces voters to be worried about it, which in turn leads lawmakers to spend still more time talking about it and less time talking about the economy, a phenomenon that is self-reinforcing.
This is exacerbated by some commentators and news orgs, who continue to treat the deficit scolds with a great deal of deference, while marginalizing the opinion that we should prioritize boosting the economy and job creation as a means of getting the country’s fiscal problems under control over time without savage spending cuts that will hurt a lot of people. Back in 2011one study actually confirmed that newspapers were spending far more time talking about the deficit than the economy — at a time when the recovery was in serious peril.
The Morning Joe crew’s reaction to Krugman perfectly captures this phenomenon. They treated him as a pariah. According to Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski compared Krugman’s “head in the sand” approach to that of climate deniers. You can almost picture Krugman sent on a lonely march through the Village square, head hanging in shame, with “DD” — Deficit Denier — printed on his back in big scarlet letters
Without Mitt Romney to manically shill for on a minute-by-minute basis, Jennifer Rubin has lost her way. Since the election, she seems to be down, reduced of late to "Democrats bad/Republicans good" absurdities (presumably referring to today's gun hearings) like this one.
So I guess she has a point.
Powerful moment at today's Senate hearing on gun violence:
In remarks kicking off today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., made a defiant call for Congress to "be bold" and "act" on gun violence.
"Too many children are dying," she said. "We must do something."
Giffords, who survived a gunshot to the head two years ago during an assassination attempt that left six people dead, read slowly but forcefully from prepared remarks, and acknowledged that "speaking is difficult."
"But I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem," she said. "It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you."
Meanwhile, while the Senate listened to testimony, there was another mass shooting at a Phoenix, Arizona office complex. One person was killed.
It's fitting, I suppose, that we're waiting to see how this hostage situation plays out on the morning Wacky Wayne LaPierre is testifying before Congress. I'm guessing this bizarre tragedy is another custody dispute, but we'll see.
And this is the thing: It's not only the mass shootings that are the gun problem, or drug gangs in the city. It's also that average citizen, pushed to a sudden edge, feeling like his life is spiralling out of control, sees a gun as the way to get that control back. I'll show that S.O.B.!
It's the constant drip drip drip of one life lost at a time -- which is why it was easier to ignore before a classroom of children were taken out with an assault weapon. Yes, Mr. LaPierre, I can't wait to hear what you have to say!
(Reuters) - A standoff continued early on Wednesday with a gunman who boarded an Alabama school bus and fatally shot the driver before fleeing with a young child and holing up in an underground bunker, authorities said.
Dale County Coroner Woodrow Hilboldt confirmed the bus driver had been killed in the shooting Tuesday afternoon as children were being ferried home from school.
The gunman fled to a bunker on his property after the shooting, Alabama media reported. Hilboldt said it was his understanding that the child, variously identified by local media as 5 or 6 years old, was barricaded with the gunman in "some kind of a tornado bunker."
Local law enforcement gave scant details about the incident, but confirmed that one person had been killed and a child was present at the scene in Midland City.
Hilboldt said both the gunman and bus driver were in their 60s.
Law enforcement officials from multiple agencies were convened near the bunker on Wednesday as the standoff with the shooter continued overnight, said Dothan Police Sergeant Rachel David.
The shooting comes as national debate rages over gun violence, especially in schools, after a gunman shot dead 20 students and six staff members at a Connecticut elementary school last month.
Alabama media reported that the incident on Tuesday happened at approximately 4 p.m. local time when the suspect demanded the driver let a student off the bus.
King College Prep Marching Band, Chicago
Just over a week ago Hadiya Pendleton was happily performing in the parade celebrating Barack Obama's second inaugural with the King College Prep Marching Band and Drill Team.
Today her body is in a morgue after she and a friend were shot while hanging out in the park after they finished their exams and were let out of school early.
Via Chicago Tribune:
Pendleton and a 16-year-old boy wounded in the attack were shot in a park near the school about 2:20 p.m., in the 4500 block of South Oakenwald Avenue, police said.
Most of those who were in the park were gang members, and those in the group did not stay on scene to help after the shootings, according to police. The shooting occurred around 2:20 p.m. in the 4500 block of South Oakenwald Avenue.
They boy remained in serious condition Tuesday night. He was also a student at King, according to Pendleton’s friends, though her relatives weren’t sure what school the boy attended.
Friends said the girl was a majorette and a volleyball player, a friendly and sweet presence at King, one of the top 10 CPS selective enrollment schools. Pendleton performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration with the King College Prep band, said Shatira Wilks, her second cousin.
The area was not a crime-ridden area, according to local residents. The Chicago Tribune reports that no violent crimes had been reported in the last 30 days.
My heart is broken for her family. Maybe it's the band geek in me, but this one feels like someone just shoved a cold knife right through me. I don't know how we're going to stop the cycle of violence, but there is just something so damn wrong about a 15-year old girl who had just performed for the President of the United States and who had a bright future in front of her being gunned down for the sin of going to the park after school.
Wrong place, wrong time, unintended consequence.
I hate guns.
Colin Powell is not a perfect man, nor was he a perfect public servant. But as Republicans go, he is at least one of the more intellectually honest of the bunch, even when faced with Bill O'Reilly's bluster and nonsense. Billo has suddenly come down with a case of concern for African-Americans after Ailes sent the memo that they should pretend like they care (after spending four years spouting racist memes about vote-stealing).
Colin Powell was having none of it. He first called Bill O'Reilly out for presuming that his vote was race-based instead of decent judgment, asking simply, "Why do you think of me as only African-American? I'm American."
Try as he might, O'Reilly could not get Powell to play to his script, where Powell only voted for Obama based on his race.
O'Reilly's concern-trolling is nearly unbearable, given that he and his network did their level best to block all aspects of Obama's agenda that might actually have helped minorities and working people, black or otherwise, and Powell reminds him that in President Obama's first four years, many policies were put in place that will actually really help them, assuming Republican governors and representatives don't get too much in the way.
My favorite moment comes when Billo tries to snark Powell about voting for hope when things haven't improved all that much, and Powell takes him on point by point. Billo's memory must be failing him if he thinks things haven't improved since 2008. We haven't completely recovered, but there's no way we're anywhere near as desperate as we were four years ago.
After all the concern trolling, Billo's most cynical moment comes when he goes after the children of those same people he's so concerned about by bashing their school performance, and the money spent on their education. You see, Fox viewers, it's not at all about what poverty can do to crush a child's ability to learn, or what dangers they might face in their neighborhood. No, it's their moocher parents who can't stay married and have no family values and of course it's only minorities who fall under this judgment.
Here's Makin speaking much of the anti-Keynesian party line back in 2010.
Seriously, I think hell just froze over. An American Enterprise Institute "stink tanker" publicly contradicts the party line and tells conservatives the debt is no big deal -- based on actual facts n' stuff? The AEI, home to Lynne Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Newt Gingrich and John Bolton?
There's always the possibility this is merely a public relations move in reaction to the sound drubbing conservatives took in the November election, but even if it is, so what? A chink in the armor is going to make our job of stopping austerity measures a lot easier:
You know the deficit argument is all but over when one conservative tells other conservatives to shut up about it, already.
American Enterprise Institute's John H. Makin has a long new argument today, in which he said that worrying about national debt is a nonsensical idea because Japan's national debt isn't hurting them any, and really, the U.S. has other stuff to worry about. Like fixing the tax code, or reforming entitlement programs.
The debt-to-GDP ratio, which is what many conservatives tout as a metric of how "unsustainable" U.S. debt is, means absolutely nothing, he said. Japan, for instance, has a debt-to-GDP ration of 140, which is way above the U.S. number, and it really hasn't had any effect whatsoever on their economy. In fact, the interest rate for 10-year Japanese bonds are half that of the American equivalent, in part because of Japanese deflation.
From his notes:
Congress, take note. Although American deficits do need to be reduced and debt accumulation does need to be slowed and eventually reversed, cries of imminent disaster from “unsustainable” deficits and a supposed bond market collapse will not accomplish this goal. Persistently rising bond prices in Japan and the United States have undercut the “sky-is-falling” rationale for deficit reduction.
In fact, austerity could just about be the silliest thing to do, if Congress wants the debt-to-GDP ratio to fall:
If fiscal austerity is applied too rapidly, US growth will drop and the debt-to-GDP ratio will rise, boosting the nation’s debt burden. If the Fed tries to stem the rise with too much money printing, inflation could rise and drive up interest rates, exacerbating the US debt burden.Congress and the president need to avoid excessive austerity with respect to changes in fiscal policy this year. Over the past four years, on average, the fiscal boost applied to the American economy has been worth about 3 percent of GDP. This year, with tax increases and sequestration, fiscal drag will be about 1.5 percent of GDP.
According to Makin, instead of yelling about how the world is going end and whatnot, which would only serve to sap the momentum to sound fiscal policy, Congress should be cutting deficits gradually, through tax reform and by rethinking how entitlement programs work.
When an AEI scholar and Paul Krugman are telling you the same thing, these are strange days indeed!
New Sugarboy, folks! Note: this video has comic disembodyment in it. Not for those squeamish at the sight of fake blood.
Open thread below...