“Get Ready Not to Vote”

Righteous explanation by Charlie Pierce at Esquire‘s Politics Blog on why 2012 just got more interesting:

Back in 2000, when the Supreme Court stepped in and foozled a presidential election to achieve the outcome that some of its members desired — oh, don’t bother to deny it — the dismissal du jour was to tell grumpy liberals to “Get over it!” This was so successful that not a single Democratic senator was willing to stand up with John Lewis and contest the election, and if you won’t stand up with John Lewis on an issue of voting rights, then you’d have rolled dice for the robe on Golgotha.
The problem, of course, was that a lot of the forces demanding that people “get over” 2000 were far from getting over it themselves. They set about trying to make sure that their side wouldn’t come that close to losing an election again, and they worked to turn “voter suppression” into a science. It used to be that Ed Rollins could suppress votes by buying off a few preachers. Now, though, it can be done through willing local satraps — Katherine Harris, say, or Ken Blackwell, or that woman in Waukesha, Wisconsin, who apparently keeps election results in her freezer. It can be done through willingly partisan judges who wink and nod — hi, there, Tony Scalia! — or through the wholesale corruption of the Department of Justice, which is what happened during the Bush Administration when U.S. Attorneys were fired because they declined to conduct political prosecutions at the request of political appointees up to and including the president’s political guru.
On Monday, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU law school published an exhaustive study (short versions here and here) of the effect of these new laws and concluded that more than five million eligible voters will find it more difficult to vote in 2012. The political implications are so obvious as to beggar explanation. What’s more compelling is the hole in our soul…
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The “Worst Governor In America” Contest Rolls On

Looks like Ohio Republican John Kasich is not only the new most hated governor in the land (surpassing Florida’s odious GOP Jackass-in-Chief, Rick Scott) but he’s now giving Scott a solid run for his money in the outright worst in the nation category.  MoJo’s excellent Mac McClelland:

While we’re all at being (rightfully) mad at some really rich people, let’s splash some more fuel onto the class-warfare fire. Think tank Innovation Ohio has released some stats about that state’s governor, John Kasich, who is trying to kill collective bargaining with a bill called SB 5 and who recently slashed funding to services people sort of need, like schools and firefighting.

But the Ohio legislature isn’t spreading the pain equally—namely, not among themselves. According to IO’s most recent report, Kasich took a raise of more than $10,000 over the last governor’s salary, bringing his pay to $148,165. And exempted the salary from the SB 5 provision that cuts automatic annual raises for other public employees. And lied about how much he pays his staff, whose senior members make $110,000. Also unaffected by the recent massive budget cuts is the Ohio General Assembly’s minimum salary of $60K—for a part-time job in a state where the average worker makes $40K. Of course, 62 of the 70 legislators who voted for SB 5 make more than that minimum. Those 62 receive annual bonuses up to $34k. No wonder there was so much protesting going on when I was there.

So yeah, with all the howling from Ohio Republicans that the Buckeye State had to end collective bargaining rights for those awful, greedy state employees so that Ohio counties and municipalities could make “painful but necessary” budget cuts, not only did they lock down salaries for other government employees in the state, Kasich then went and gave himself a big fat ol’ raise on the taxpayer dime.  Awesome.

Anyone surprised by this, please email me your bank account info, I need to get a couple billion dollars out of a Nigerian prince or two.  Seriously, exciting new branches of theoretical mathematics have yet to be discovered that can sufficiently quantify how much of a complete asshole John Kasich is.

But hey, Republicans given power?  Surprise!  They abuse it.

The 99%

It looks like Occupy Wall Street is the beneficiary of another unforced error by the New York Police, who apparently enticed members of the group onto the traffic lanes during a Brooklyn Bridge march, and then rounded them up and carted them to the hoosegow. This pointless exercise got the cops some more bad press and another day of media attention on poor treatment of the protesters.

Every protest like this starts with a jumble of agendas, but the one message that the movement seems to be settling on is “We are the 99%”, and I think it’s a pretty good one. The mainstream media generally avoids discussing the topic of the growing gap between the very rich and the rest of us, and it certainly doesn’t connect it to healthcare reform, but almost every story on this simple but effective site is related to the fear or actuality of illness. The other theme is the inability to afford college and the debt associated with getting a college education.

Occupy Wall Street is essentially begging Democrats to disconnect from the easy corporate money and stand up for what used to be bread-and-butter Democratic issues.

How You Gonna Go?

AWOL describes me to a T.  Nothing like a crappy week at work (but no complaints — for real; I got work) + a break for some enforced remembrance to kill the blogging impetus.

Not to mention that the cycle of dangerous mood swings brought on by living within a class war is making it hard to focus on writing sweet reason. It’s plain tiring to watch the neo-feudalists as they advance their attempt to envassal and enserf* us all.

So it was that this very new version of an old song heard while driving this a.m. seemed terribly threatening:  if this becomes the soundtrack of our day, as it was of a London I lived in all those years ago, hard times are going to get  harder.  Can’t say it won’t though.  Listen:

<div align=”center” ><iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/RjZAsObkkdI” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe></div>


And how about a bonus track — the Clash original:


<div align=”center”><iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/hiQoq-wqZxg” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

That about captures my mood today.  You?  As per usual, I suspect you may consider this an open thread.


*F’w’at we blog if not to coin neologisms.[Or not. See Arrik’s correction.]

School reformer demands reform of school reform

Expert testimony before the Michigan statehouse:

Charter schools have strayed so far from their original intent that they should be renamed “corporate” or “franchise” schools instead, a Western Michigan University professor told a state Senate Committee.

Bills backed by Education Committee chairman Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, would expand opportunities for cyber charters, allow parents to petition a district to convert traditional schools to charters, expand dual-learning opportunities and require all districts to participate in a school choice program. Districts also would be allowed to hire private firms for teaching.

Western professor Gary Miron, who is nationally known for his charter school research, told the committee that the schools have strayed far from their original intent of being innovative, locally operated alternatives to traditional schools.

“They’ve gone away from those original charter ideas to the point that they should probably be called ‘corporate’ schools or ‘franchise’ schools instead,” Miron told the senators. “I like charter schools. I like the notion of charter schools. But what we’re talking about now is something that is very different. We need to go back to the original intent and goals.”

Miron said for-profit management companies dominate the charter landscape, and exercise such control over schools that local boards of education overseeing the schools have difficulty expressing authority or autonomy. Miron said that while traditional schools tend to be segregated, but charters have “accelerated” the segregation on terms of race, class, special needs and language. He said research shows there are few charter schools that show students performing higher than nearby districts.

I would suggest to Professor Miron that there isn’t going to be any re-regulation of public schools in Michigan. I think I can tell him what happened to his reform movement, too. We deregulated schools, Republicans took statehouses in Michigan and Ohio, moved quickly to get those pesky unions out of the way, and we’re now going full-steam ahead on privatization.

I particularly love how lobbyists and others have taken “school choice” and turned it into a mandate:

require all districts to participate in a school choice program

It’s called bait and switch, Professor Miron, and the people that live here are finding it very difficult to push back against the massive amounts of out-of-state money that is directed at destroying unions and leaving the field clear to privatize our public schools.

This is from Dr. Miron’s testimony before the US House, in June of this year (pdf):

Who Stole My Charter School Reform?
Even as the original goals for charter schools are largely ignored, charter schools fulfill other purposes. Promote privatization of public school system. Charter schools have provided an easy route for privatization; many states allow private schools to convert to public charter schools, and increasing the use of private education management organizations is increasingly being seen as the mode for expanding charter schools.

Today, one-third of the nation’s charter schools are being operated by private education management organizations (EMOs) and this proportion is growing rapidly each year. In states such as Michigan, close to 80% of charter schools are operated by private for-profit EMOs.

80% for-profit in Michigan. Anyone think we’re going to be re-regulating public schools anytime soon?

Claims regarding privatization remain rhetorical and unsupported by evidence. The recent economic crisis has shown that our economy requires greater public oversight and regulations, a finding that can be reasonably extended to markets in education.

Strong and effective lobbying and advocacy groups for charter schools quickly reinterpret research and shape the message to fit their needs rather than the long-term interests of the movement. They attack evidence that questions the performance of charter schools and offer anecdotal evidence, rarely substantiated by technical reports, in rebuttal. Such lobbying has undermined reasoned discourse and made improving charter schools more difficult.

Sound familiar?

While he’s wondering who stole his charter schools, I’m wondering who is stealing my public schools, and is it too late to stop them? I appreciate his honesty and integrity at admitting these realities, and I believe he was and is well-intentioned. I just don’t believe reality and honesty and integrity and good intentions are going to prevail up against all that money.

Making a list, checking it twice

In Ohio, we’re trying to use a citizen veto to overturn Ohio’s new union-busting law. The first part of the process involved collecting more than a million signatures to put a referendum on November’s ballot. Now that the issue is on the ballot we have to get enough “no” votes to prevent the law from taking effect. The organization leading the effort is called We Are Ohio, and the objective is “Vote No on Issue Two”.

I wrote about how we did a We Are Ohio local event here about a month ago. At last month’s gathering, we compiled a list of attendees. I went to another We Are Ohio event last night in a county east of where I live. I gave the list we had compiled at last month’s local event to the (paid) organizer who is now on the ground. She’ll add our list to the names she’s collected herself in the two weeks she’s been working in this area.

Several firemen spoke to us at last night’s event and explained why they have joined the effort to try a citizen veto of Ohio’s law that strips collective bargaining rights from public employees. I suspect one of the fireman-speakers last night is (or was) a GOP voter. I believe this because the fireman was careful to refer to the folks who passed this law as “politicians”. I’m finding that the Republicans who are active in this thing rarely use the words “Republican” or “Kasich”, although the facts are that the bill was drafted by Republicans, passed by Republicans, and signed by former Fox News personality, John Kasich.

Too, the fireman spoke with what sounded to me like a real sense of betrayal and that’s another common theme I’m hearing. He said he never imagined that teachers, police officers and firefighters would somehow end up as “the problem” because everyone, at one time or another, has relied on a teacher, a police officer or a firefighter. He said “I didn’t know I was next”. At that point, a UAW member in the crowd shouted “I always know I’m next!” and everyone laughed.

Humans Stubbornly Refuse to Become Interchangeable Cogs

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)

The boneheadedness of the average MBA, and the harm the breed has done to the American economy, can never be overstated. And yet the Media Village courtiers will never stop attempting to polish the turd, per the Washington Post/Bloomberg:

Many industries find themselves in a quandary. They often need older workers for their expertise, yet they also may need to accommodate their physical disabilities and their desire for more flexible schedules. And as workers stay on the job longer, they may need training in new technologies or work procedures.
In the past decade, the number of seniors in the labor force has grown nearly 60 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2018, the number of workers 65 or older is projected to climb to 11 million, from 6.5 million today.
Baby boomers are fueling the trend. Healthier and better educated than any previous generation, many plan to continue working, at least part time, well past traditional retirement age. Human resources managers say voluntary retirement nearly stopped after the stock market collapse in 2007.
“When do people choose to retire?” asked Karen Smith, a senior researcher at the Urban Institute. “When they are able to replace their income.” …

Ya think?

Actually, it’s worth reading the whole article, just to watch every quoted expert dance around the very real problem for workers in every age group — the old pharts limping around gulping painkillers because they’re terrified of losing their group insurance, the twenty-somethings who can’t get the hands-on training they need because companies won’t invest in new workers, and the sandwich generation stuck in the middle and terrified of having to support both their parents and their adult children. But, hey — the most recent quarterly profits look just great, and top management’s looking forward to another record-breaking round of bonuses! Besides, everyone knows it’s the deficit that’s really keeping American workers awake at night… that, and the heartbreak of knowing that some small, shrinking percentage of their fellow workers are still trapped under the onus of free-market-resistant unions.