Cooperation is overrated

I really recommend you read the Forbes blog piece ED wrote and linked to earlier. I don’t know enough to say much, pro or con, about Michelle Rhee or Joel Klein but I was struck by how much this quote from Rhee is just the kind of thing elites like to say to plebes:

“Cooperation, collaboration, and consensus-building are way overrated.”

Of course, when the consensus-building is taking place among powerful elites, it’s David Broder’s wet dream. But if the consensus-building involves any input from middle-class people — other than requests for more Jeebus and “belt-tightening” and the like — then it’s a bad idea. No one below the 90th percentile in income should ever be consulted about anything important. “School choice” will work brilliantly anyway, though, because the free market is so magical that it can overcome even the profound stupidity of middle-class Americans.

If we could only be more like China, where all the non-elites know their place.

Stand Up America: Palinites to Drive Their Cars and Then Pull Over and Sit There for an Hour


In a stunning display of Teabilly slacktivism, Palinites are planning to block traffic for an hour in order to – to – well what the fuck do I know what they’re doing it for:1

Sarah Palin called the Obama Administration’s actions as [sic] the “Road to Ruin”! [Uh, no. The Road to Ruin broke ground when you were born. Heyo!] Like most of the USA now, we at Stand Up America think it is a great way to express yourself and learn what is really happening to our country , so what can we do? [Let me get this straight: You think that pulling one’s car over to the side of the road is a great way to learn what is really happening to our country? Like, seriously? Are you planning on reading a history book while you sit there blocking traffic? Besides, I doubt you can find five Teabillies who think that sitting on the side of the road on a Sunday afternoon is a great way to express themselves. I suppose we should be thankful — it’s less frightening than the traditional Teabilly method, which is to show up to a rally armed to the teeth with guns and misspelled signs. So thanks for deciding simply to pull your cars over to the side of the road and just sit there pretending to make phone calls as opposed to, I don’t know, blowing cars up on the side of the road. (P.S., if you’re doing that last thing I mentioned, call me! I’ve always wanted to blow up a car for freedom.)]

Well, it seems the normal methods do not work because of entrenched political machinery, moneyed interests, power seeking for power’s sake, and a media that is just plan [sic] in the tank. [Toilet or fish?]

In the past, petitions were signed, marches on Washington and elsewhere were held [I remember the great civil rights March on Washington and Elsewhere — those were heady times], Tea Parties were created [by the Kochsuckers], letters were written [in broken Teabilly English], calls were made [using tin cans and string], new representatives were elected, yet, the road to ruin is still there [where, exactly?], and the Obama Administration has the pedal to the floor, the speedometer is pegged, and there are no brakes. [Talk about metaphor salad. Crikey. “The Obama Administration is on the road to ruin, leading a gift horse to water, looking in its mouth, and making it drink soshulism!] All our efforts have for the most part FAILED! [Oh no, you’re wrong there – they have ENTIRELY failed.]

So how do we make our voices known? [There are known voices and unknown voices, and you will hear us by the trail of dead.] How do we finally succeed? [Never gonna happen.] How do we send a clear message that cannot be twisted by the media, misinterpreted by politicians, or co-opted by Obama apologists? [Hey, you can have this one. We Obots have better shit to do than pull our fancy elitist arugula-fueled cars over to the side of the road and just sit there.] Well, we have come up with one interesting new way. [You’re overselling it.] Are you game? It won’t cost you any money short of a gallon of gas. It won’t take much of your time, only about an hour. It won’t mean travel to distant cities. It won’t mean crowds to wade through, and it won’t interfere with your life too much. [Shorter: It won’t mean DOING ANYTHING OF VALUE and you’ll be home in time for Leno.]2
What it will be is FUN [and by “FUN” we mean “ASININE”], and a great way to vent your frustration [also a great way to vent carbon monoxide into your car ::crosses fingers::], without being labeled [jackass], or maligned [descended from a clan of jackasses]!

Here is what is planned:
(If you don’t value your brain cells, click to continue)

No, Really. Democrats are Just Republicans in Cheap Suits.

The Obama Administration can play it cool when it wants to.

Via Feministing by way of TPM, we learn that the forced birth/hate teh gayz crowd took one on the chin last week, and, despite all efforts to the contrary, women (and gays, and transexuals, and just about anyone who thinks it’s none of anyone else’s damn business what we and our doctors decide works for us) regained just a smidgeon of that autonomy the American Inquisition the modern GOP seeks to steal from us.


Which is to say that AFAIK, this slipped past just about every radar screen:

After two years of struggling to balance the rights of patients against the beliefs of health-care workers, the Obama administration on Friday finally rescinded most of a federal regulation designed to protect those who refuse to provide care they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds.


The decision guts one of President George W. Bush’s most controversial legacies: a rule that was widely interpreted as shielding workers who refuse to participate in a range of medical services, such as providing birth control pills, caring for gay men with AIDS and performing in-vitro fertilization for lesbians or single women.


Friday’s move was seen as an important step in countering that trend, which in recent years had led pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B, doctors in California to reject a lesbian’s request for infertility treatment, and an ambulance driver in Chicago to turn away a woman who needed transportation for an abortion.


Can we hear an Amen?


But yeah, Obama is just Bush with a better jump shot.


(Not to mention that this is just one more reminder of why, in fact, it does matter who wins next time round.  Just sayin.)


Image: Octave Tassaert The Waif aka L’abandonnée, 1852.

The new face of education reform

Over at Forbes I talk about Scott Walker’s plans to layoff 1,500 state workers and cut $1 billion in state aid to schools and local governments. I think Walker is doing what Chris Christie would like to do, and what reformers like Michelle Rhee never had the power to do – he calls it balancing the budget, but really this is the bald face of conservative education reform. For a long time conservatives played around at the margins, flirting with school choice, flirting with vouchers. It wasn’t until prominent Democrats joined the school choice movement that Republicans became emboldened enough to go for the jugular.

Monday Night Open Thread

At least there’s new episode of CASTLE. And tomorrow, new DETROIT 1-8-7…

I’m Picking Out a Thermos For You (alternate title: Riders on the Storm)

Today’s news from the wetsuit crowd:

The Rev. Grant Storms, the Christian fundamentalist known for his bullhorn protests of the Southern Decadence festival in the French Quarter, was arrested on a charge of masturbating at a Metairie park Friday afternoon.

Storms, 53, of 2304 Green Acres Road in Metairie, was taken into custody at Lafreniere Park after two women reported seeing him masturbating in the driver’s seat of his van, which was parked near the carousel and playground, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office report said.

The first woman told deputies she was taking her children to the playground and parked next to the van at about noon. As she was walking around her own vehicle, she noticed the van windows were down and the occupant was “looking at the playground area that contained children playing, with his zipper down…,” the report said. The woman noted that he was masturbating and quickly ushered her children out of her car.

She told a second woman, who walked to the van and also spotted the man masturbating, the report said. The second witness told deputies that the driver saw her and tried to conceal the zipper area of his pants with his hand.

The two women flagged down a park employee who notified the Sheriff’s Office. The employee detained the man, later identified as Storms, until deputies arrived.

Storms told deputies he was having lunch at the park when he decided to urinate using a bottle instead of the restroom, the report said.

Serious question- what is grosser? Jerking off to kids in the park or storing bottles of urine in your van down by the river?

Why Do Market Forces Always Feel Like a Stick-up?

We’ve already discussed the recent “discovery” that many people urged to opt in to 401k’s as their primary source of retirement funding are rocking woefully underfunded portfolios. With this, it will get much, much worse:

Lawmakers and governors in many states, faced with huge shortfalls in employee pension funds, are turning to a strategy that a lot of private companies adopted years ago: moving workers away from guaranteed pension plans and toward 401(k)-type retirement savings plans.

The efforts come as the governors of Wisconsin and Ohio, citing dire budget problems, are engaged in bitter showdowns with public-employee unions over wages, pensions and collective bargaining rights.

The new plans allow states to set a firm, upfront limit on the amount they will contribute and leave it up to the employee and the financial markets to make the money grow. In a traditional pension system, the employer promises a certain benefit, then must find a way to pay for it.

Like private employers, which in droves have terminated traditional pension plans, many government officials like the idea of shifting much of a pension plan’s risk to the worker. And some workers prefer a 401(k)-type system because it gives them more control over their retirement assets, including the ability to take the money with them when they change jobs.

What I find most amazing about all of this is that while these changes are being made, no one seems concerned about the regulatory side of the equation. You would think that if governments are pushing potentially millions of people into the market, there would be some concern about the recent multiple financial crashes brought on by the perfidy of our Galtian overlords in the market. It’s really quite a good scheme if you are one of the Wall Street grifters- someone is sending you marks, and promising to look the other way. You don’t exactly have to be Nostra-fucking-damus to realize that in about a decade, a couple million Americans of retirement age are going to be wiped out by the same class of greedy pricks that just vaporized the economy a few years ago.

As noted last night at the Oscar’s, not one financial executive has been sent to jail. Their punishment is apparently bail-outs, millions of new customers, the unflinching support of the money party and frequent reach-arounds from the White House to make sure Jamie Dimon doesn’t have hurt fee-fee’s.