Warm Southern Breeze

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Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

Reasons to Oppose Common Core from the Left & Right

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, August 11, 2014

Once, I supported Common Core.

Now, I do not.

Read on to understand why.

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Everything you need to know about Common Core — Ravitch

January 18, 2014

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/18/everything-you-need-to-know-about-common-core-ravitch/

Diane Ravitch, the education historian who has become the leader of the movement against corporate-influenced school reform, gave this speech to the Modern Language Association on Jan. 11 about the past, present and future of the Common Core State Standards.

Here’s her speech:

As an organization of teachers and scholars devoted to the study of language and literature, MLA should be deeply involved in the debate about the Common Core standards.

The Common Core standards were developed in 2009 and released in 2010. Within a matter of months, they had been endorsed by 45 states and the District of Columbia. At present, publishers are aligning their materials with the Common Core, technology companies are creating software and curriculum aligned with the Common Core, and two federally-funded consortia have created online tests of the Common Core.

What are the Common Core standards? Who produced them? Why are they controversial? How did their adoption happen so quickly?

As scholars of the humanities, you are well aware that every historical event is subject to interpretation. There are different ways to answer the questions I just posed. Originally, this session was designed to be a discussion between me and David Coleman, who is generally acknowledged as the architect of the Common Core standards. Some months ago, we both agreed on the date and format. But Mr. Coleman, now president of the College Board, discovered that he had a conflicting meeting and could not be here.

So, unfortunately, you will hear only my narrative, not his, which would be quite different. I have no doubt that you will have no difficulty getting access to his version of the narrative, which is the same as Secretary Arne Duncan’s.

He would tell you that the standards were created by the states, that they were widely and quickly embraced because so many educators wanted common standards for teaching language, literature, and mathematics. But he would not be able to explain why so many educators and parents are now opposed to the standards and are reacting angrily to the testing that accompanies them.

I will try to do that.

I will begin by setting the context for the development of the standards.

They arrive at a time when American public education and its teachers are under attack. Never have public schools been as subject to upheaval, assault, and chaos as they are today. Unlike modern corporations, which extol creative disruption, schools need stability, not constant turnover and change. Yet for the past dozen years, ill-advised federal and state policies have rained down on students, teachers, principals, and schools.

George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top have combined to impose a punitive regime of standardized testing on the schools. NCLB was passed by Congress in 2001 and signed into law in 2002. NCLB law required schools to test every child in grades 3-8 every year; by 2014, said the law, every child must be “proficient” or schools would face escalating sanctions. The ultimate sanction for failure to raise test scores was firing the staff and closing the school.

Because the stakes were so high, NCLB encouraged teachers to teach to the test. In many schools, the curriculum was narrowed; the only subjects that mattered were reading and mathematics. What was not tested—the arts, history, civics, literature, geography, science, physical education—didn’t count. Some states, like New York, gamed the system by dropping the passing mark each year, giving the impression that its students were making phenomenal progress when they were not. Some districts, like Atlanta, El Paso, and the District of Columbia, were caught up in cheating scandals. In response to this relentless pressure, test scores rose, but not as much as they had before the adoption of NCLB.

Then along came the Obama administration, with its signature program called Race to the Top. In response to the economic crisis of 2008, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Education $5 billion to promote “reform.” Secretary Duncan launched a competition for states called “Race to the Top.” If states wanted any part of that money, they had to agree to certain conditions. They had to agree to evaluate teachers to a significant degree by the rise or fall of their students’ test scores; they had to agree to increase the number of privately managed charter schools; they had to agree to adopt “college and career ready standards,” which were understood to be the not-yet-finished Common Core standards; they had to agree to “turnaround” low-performing schools by such tactics as firing the principal and part or all of the school staff; and they had to agree to collect unprecedented amounts of personally identifiable information about every student and store it in a data warehouse. It became an article of faith in Washington and in state capitols, with the help of propagandistic films like “Waiting for Superman,” that if students had low scores, it must be the fault of bad teachers. Poverty, we heard again and again from people like Bill Gates, Joel Klein, and Michelle Rhee, was just an excuse for bad teachers, who should be fired without delay or due process.

These two federal programs, which both rely heavily on standardized testing, has produced a massive demoralization of educators; an unprecedented exodus of experienced educators, who were replaced in many districts by young, inexperienced, low-wage teachers; the closure of many public schools, especially in poor and minority districts; the opening of thousands of privately managed charters; an increase in low-quality for-profit charter schools and low-quality online charter schools; a widespread attack on teachers’ due process rights and collective bargaining rights; the near-collapse of public education in urban districts like Detroit and Philadelphia, as public schools are replaced by privately managed charter schools; a burgeoning educational-industrial complex of testing corporations, charter chains, and technology companies that view public education as an emerging market. Hedge funds, entrepreneurs, and real estate investment corporations invest enthusiastically in this emerging market, encouraged by federal tax credits, lavish fees, and the prospect of huge profits from taxpayer dollars. Celebrities, tennis stars, basketball stars, and football stars are opening their own name-brand schools with public dollars, even though they know nothing about education.

No other nation in the world has inflicted so many changes or imposed so many mandates on its teachers and public schools as we have in the past dozen years. No other nation tests every student every year as we do. Our students are the most over-tested in the world. No other nation—at least no high-performing nation—judges the quality of teachers by the test scores of their students. Most researchers agree that this methodology is fundamentally flawed, that it is inaccurate, unreliable, and unstable, that the highest ratings will go to teachers with the most affluent students and the lowest ratings will go to teachers of English learners, teachers of students with disabilities, and teachers in high-poverty schools. Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of Education wants every state and every district to do it. Because of these federal programs, our schools have become obsessed with standardized testing, and have turned over to the testing corporations the responsibility for rating, ranking, and labeling our students, our teachers, and our schools.

The Pearson Corporation has become

Read the rest of this entry »

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Criticizing the President: This one’s on Obama

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, May 20, 2013

This OpEd is probably some of the best, and most genuinely warranted criticism of President Obama which I’ve yet read.

As late former president Theodore Roosevelt wrote:
“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.* Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”

-Theodore Roosevelt’s OpEd Column entitled “Sedition, A Free Press and Personal Rule” published May 7, 1918 in the Kansas City Star

*Roosevelt’s sharp criticism of President Wilson‘s leadership during World War I led the Post Office to warn that the Star that such views might cost the paper its second-class mailing privileges.

Obama A Big Hypocrite? Ask Legal Schnauzer, Roger Shuler

By (about the author)     Permalink
Life Arts 5/18/2013 at 22:24:54

My guest today is Legal Schnauzer, Roger Shuler. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Roger. 

JB: Your recent piece The President Paints Himself Into An Ethical Corner By Voicing Outrage Over Evolving Scandal At The IRS  is pretty scathing. What’s got you so upset?

RS: In early January 2009, just a few days before he took office, President-Elect Obama said he intended to “look forward, as opposed to looking backwards” on apparent crimes under the Bush administration. As president, Obama seems to have followed through on that pledge because his Justice Department has failed to review political prosecutions such as the one involving former Governor Don Siegelman in Alabama, where I live.

Political prosecutions, of course, were just of one of many improper acts on the justice front during the Bush years–torture, warrantless wiretapping, firings of U.S. attorneys were among the others. In essence, Obama issued a decree that no one would be held accountable for those acts.

Obama’s “look forward” statement made no sense at the time, and it makes even less sense now, coming after he expressed outrage the other day over disclosures about the IRS targeting conservative groups for political reasons. Obama said in a news conference that he would not “tolerate” such actions, that wrongdoers must be held “accountable,” and the problem must be “fixed.”

But his inaction toward the DOJ shows that he will tolerate the targeting of political opponents, that he will not hold individuals accountable for such actions, and he will not take steps to fix the problem. Obama was uttering empty words at his press conference about the IRS. Many of us expect that from a Republican chief executive; we should demand better from a Democrat.

JBFor readers unfamiliar with the Siegelman case, Roger, can you give us a brief overview of what happened and why anyone outside of Alabama should care? It didn’t happen under Obama’s watch so how can he be blamed?

RS: Don Siegelman was a Democratic governor in a deep-red state, a state where Karl Rove has a strong power base. Siegelman accepted a campaign donation from a businessman named Richard Scrushy, and then appointed Scrushy to a health-care regulatory board–a board on which Scrushy had served under three previous governors.

The standard for a bribery conviction in the campaign-donation context is that the prosecution must prove an “explicit agreement” in a something-for-something deal (known in legalese as a “quid pro quo.”) No evidence at trial pointed to such an unlawful deal, and the federal judge presiding over the case (a George W. Bush appointee named Mark Fuller) gave incorrect jury instructions that did not include the “explicit agreement” requirement. He allowed the jury to Read the rest of this entry »

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China hacks Army’s Redstone Arsenal computers in Huntsville, Alabama, steals military secrets

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, May 3, 2013

Among defense contractors, QinetiQ North America (QQ/) is known for spy-world connections and an eye- popping product line. Its contributions to national security include secret satellites, drones, and software used by U.S. special forces in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Former CIA Director George Tenet was a director of the company from 2006 to 2008 and former Pentagon spy chief Stephen Cambone headed a major division. Its U.K. parent was created as a spinoff of a government weapons laboratory that inspired Q’s lab in Ian Fleming’s James Bond thrillers, a connection QinetiQ (pronounced kin-EH-tic) still touts.

QinetiQ’s espionage expertise didn’t keep Chinese cyber- spies from outwitting the company. In a three-year operation, hackers linked to China’s military infiltrated QinetiQ’s computers and compromised most if not all of the company’s research. At one point, they logged into the company’s network by taking advantage of a security flaw identified months earlier and never fixed.

“We found traces of the intruders in Read the rest of this entry »

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Suicide, Libertarianism, and Religion -or- Why “No man is an island.”

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, April 15, 2013

FACT:
Las Vegas has the highest metropolitan suicide rate in the U.S.

“I’ll add that there’s one more feature here, of Las Vegas, which I think bears mentioning. And that is what I kinda’ think of as a sort of “frontier culture” mentality among residents, and I think, even among visitors.

“That Las Vegas is this sort of place of place of total license. You know… its the ‘Wild West,’ it’s an open frontier for all kinds of immorality and exploration of vice, and… the entire self-branding of Las Vegas as this place where that is not only tolerated, but actually sanctioned.

“You know, the “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” kind of mentality – produces, I think, a kind of… sort of libertarian ethos of ‘go it alone, do it yourself.’ And help seeking in this sort of framework is perhaps not accepted or valorized the way it is other parts of the country.

“These kind of cultural arguments are always very hard to make. They always sound deeply unscientific. But, in a lot ways, I think that’s exactly where a lot of the explanatory power comes from… is in this understanding the culture and values underlying people’s behavioral sense.”

- Matt Wray, sociologist, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, and co-author of a 2008 paper entitled Leaving Las Vegas: Exposure to Las Vegas and Risk of Suicide” / excerpted from Freakonomics Radio, episode #92 “Gambling With Your Life,” released April 27, 2011

Of late, attention has been increasingly given to the suicide rate of veterans returning home from the horrors of war in the Middle East, specifically, from their numerous extended tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While in retrospect, many acknowledge that Read the rest of this entry »

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Scandal hits Obama administration

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, January 12, 2013

Welcome to the idiocy of Alabama.

Obama’s Cabinet of yes men

By Dana Milbank, Published: JANUARY 11, 12:21 PM ET

President Obama hasn’t even begun his second term, yet already he has been ensnared by scandal.

Republicans have uncovered a shocking level of wrongdoing in the Oval Office, and I’m afraid what they say is true: The president is brazenly trying to fill his Cabinet with . . . people he likes.

Alas, the perfidy doesn’t end there. Not only is Obama naming agreeable people to his Cabinet, he is also — audaciously, flagrantly — nominating people who . . . agree with his policies.

Hello, operator? In Waco, Tex., I’d like the number for a Starr, Kenneth W.

Among the first to blow the whistle on the scandal was Sen. Jeff Sessions. The Alabamian, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, went on CNN on Thursday, immediately after Obama tapped Jack Lew to be Treasury secretary, to tell Wolf Blitzer why he would oppose confirmation.

“This is another person just very personally close to the president,” Sessions protested. Lew should not be confirmed, the senator said, because “the budget that he wrote was condemned by The Washington Post, virtually every major newspaper in the country.”

This was unorthodox — Sessions rarely admits to agreeing with anything he reads in The Post — but the truth of the statement was undeniable: Lew did write the budget. He was Obama’s budget director before becoming White House chief of staff; writing the budget was his job.

Sessions had Obama dead right. He is nominating like-minded people to serve in top jobs in his administration. And this scandal will continue until Obama finally accepts his constitutional obligation to name disagreeable detractors to his Cabinet.

There was a time — specifically, the entire history of the Republic until now — when nominating trusted advisers to key positions would not have been a scandal. Only three times in the 20th century (and six times before that) did the Senate reject proposed Cabinet officers, according to the Senate historical office. Lifelong judiciary appointments, particularly to the Supreme Court, are often contentious. But, the historical office notes, there is a Senate tradition that “presidents should be allowed a free hand in choosing their closest advisers.”

The last rejected Cabinet nominee, John Tower, was denied confirmation as defense secretary after accusations of Read the rest of this entry »

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What will President Obama do in his next four years?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, October 26, 2012

Obama and the Road Ahead: The Rolling Stone Interview

In an Oval Office conversation with a leading historian, the president discusses what he would do with a second term – and his opponent’s embrace of ‘the most extreme positions in the Republican Party

by: Douglas Brinkley

Obama on Rolling Stone 20121023-obama-1169-306x-1351006174

Photo by Mark Seliger

Barack Obama can no longer preach the bright 2008 certitudes of “Hope and Change.” He has a record to defend this time around. And, considering the lousy hand he was dealt by George W. Bush and an obstructionist Congress, his record of achievement, from universal health care to equal pay for women, is astonishingly solid. His excessive caution is a survival trait; at a time when the ripple and fury provoked by one off-key quip can derail a campaign for days, self-editing is the price a virtuoso must pay to go the distance in the age of YouTube.

Viewed through the lens of history, Obama represents a new type of 21st-century politician: the Progressive Firewall. Obama, simply put, is the curator-in-chief of the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier and the Great Society. When he talks about continued subsidies for Big Bird or contraceptives for Sandra Fluke, he is the inheritor of the Progressive movement’s agenda, the last line of defense that prevents America’s hard-won social contract from being defunded into oblivion.

Ever since Theodore Roosevelt used executive orders to save the Grand Canyon from the zinc-copper lobbies and declared that unsanitary factories were grotesque perversions propagated by Big Money interests, the federal government has aimed to improve the daily lives of average Americans. Woodrow Wilson followed up T.R.’s acts by creating the Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission and re-establishing a federal income tax. Then, before the stock market crash in 1929, the GOP Big Three of Harding-Coolidge-Hoover made “business” the business of America, once more allowing profiteers to flourish at the expense of the vulnerable.

Enter Franklin Roosevelt, a polio victim confined to a wheelchair and leg braces. His alphabet soup of New Deal programs – the CCC and TVA and WPA – brought hope to the financially distraught, making them believe that the government was on their side. Determined to end the Great Depression, Roosevelt was a magnificent experimenter. Credit him with Social Security, legislation to protect workers, labor’s right to collective bargaining, Wall Street regulation, rural electrification projects, farm-price supports, unemployment compensation and federally guaranteed bank deposits. The America we know and love today sprung directly from the New Deal.

For the next three decades, the vast majority of voters benefited from Roosevelt’s revolution. And every president from FDR to Jimmy Carter, regardless of political affiliation, grabbed America by the scruff of the neck and did huge, imaginative things with tax revenues. Think Truman (the Marshall Plan), Eisenhower (the Interstate Highway System), Kennedy (the space program), Johnson (Medicaid and Medicare), Nixon (the EPA) and Carter (the departments of Energy and Education). Whether it was Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy going after the Mob or LBJ laying the groundwork for PBS, citizens took comfort in the knowledge that the executive branch was a caring iron fist with watchdog instincts that got things done.

It was the election of Ronald Reagan that started the Grand Reversal. Reagan had voted four times for FDR, but by 1980 he saw the federal government – with the notable exception of our armed forces – as a bloated, black-hatted villain straight out of one of his B movies. His revolution – and make no mistake that it was one – aimed to undo everything from Medicare to Roe v. Wade. Ever since Reagan, both the New Deal and Read the rest of this entry »

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Romney Speech Offers Few Differences With Obama Policies

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Romney Speech Offers Few Differences With Obama Policies

Mitt Romney’s speech on foreign policy did more to highlight his similarities with President Barack Obama than to draw sharp distinctions over handling global affairs.

In an address yesterday at the Virginia Military Institute, the Republican presidential nominee accused Obama of lacking a strategy for the Middle East, saying the region faces a higher risk of conflict now than it did when the president took office.

“I know the President hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States. I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy,” Romney told cadets and military officials in Lexington, Virginia, during his fifth visit in four weeks to the politically competitive state.

Still, Romney offered few details of his own approach, and in his attempt to appeal to a broader base of American voters, he echoed several policies already being pursued by Obama, said Charles Kupchan, a U.S. foreign policy specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“The speech struck me as more moderate than previous ones, with less bluster and less neoconservative rhetoric,” Kupchan said in a phone interview, referring to a school of political thinking that emphasizes unilateral American leadership and military power. “The problem for Romney is when you take out the neocon rhetoric, he starts looking a lot like Obama.” Read the rest of this entry »

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The New Radicals: Republicans and their Activist Supreme Court

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, September 23, 2012

“The signature of the Roberts Court has been its willingness, even its eagerness, to overturn the work of legislatures. Brandishing a novel interpretation of the Second Amendment, the Court has either struck down or raised questions about virtually every state and local gun-control law in the nation. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, decided earlier this year, the Court gutted the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law in service of a legal theory that contradicts about a century of law at the Court.”

Precedent and Prologue

Comment
by Jeffrey Toobin, December 6, 2010

New Yorker _talkcmmntillus_p233

Bush v Gore was the beginning of Republicans’ use of Judicial Activism

Momentous Supreme Court cases tend to move quickly into the slipstream of the Court’s history. In the first ten years after Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 decision that ended the doctrine of separate but equal in public education, the Justices cited the case more than twenty-five times. In the ten years after Roe v. Wade, the abortion-rights decision of 1973, there were more than sixty-five references to that landmark. This month marks ten years since the Court, by a vote of five-to-four, terminated the election of 2000 and delivered the Presidency to George W. Bush. Over that decade, the Justices have provided a verdict of sorts on Bush v. Gore by the number of times they have cited it: zero.

Both sides had their reasons for consigning the decision to history and leaving it there. In his concession speech on the day after the decision, Al Gore said simply, “It’s time for me to go.” He meant it, and he left politics for a life of entrepreneurship and good works. George W. Bush, for his part, found little reason to dwell on the controversial nature of his ascension to office, and in his memoir, “Decision Points,” he devotes less than a page to the Supreme Court decision. (“My first response was relief,” he writes of his reaction.) In public appearances, Antonin Scalia, a member of the majority in Bush v. Gore, regularly offers this message to people who question him about the decision: “Get over it!”

Even at the time, Bush v. Gore was treated as a kind of novelty item, a one-off decision that applied only to the peculiar facts then before the Justices. The majority itself seemed to want it that way. In the most famous sentence from the decision, the Justices wrote, “Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities.” (Unlike most weighty decisions, Bush v. Gore had no single author and was delineated “per curiam,” or by the Court, a designation the Justices usually reserve for minor cases.) In light of all these admonitions to leave the case be, might getting over it be the best advice?

Actually, no. To return briefly to the distant world of chads, hanging and otherwise, it’s worth recalling what Bush v. Gore was about. The pervasive uncertainty about the results of the election in Florida—at the time, Bush led by five hundred and thirty-seven votes out of nearly six million cast—prompted the Florida courts, interpreting Florida election law, to order a statewide recount of all undervotes and overvotes; that is, ballots that indicated no Presidential preference or more than one. (Chads were the tiny paper rectangles that voters were supposed to push through punch-card ballots.) That recount had already begun on Saturday, December 9th, when five Justices—Scalia, William H. Rehnquist, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas—issued a stay, barring the Florida authorities from continuing their labors. Three days later, the same five issued the per-curiam decision that stopped the recount once and for all.

What made the decision in Bush v. Gore so startling was that it was the work of Justices who were considered, to greater or lesser extents, judicial conservatives. On many occasions, these Justices had said Read the rest of this entry »

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Mitt Romney’s 47% gaffe makes him 100% unsuitable to be president

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mitt Romney‘s 47% gaffe makes him 100% unsuitable to be president

It is Romney’s only unerring quality that he constantly affirms his stereotype. And this could be the week that sinks his challenge

by
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 18 September 2012 12.20 EDT

If the Republican primaries and presidential campaign have taught us anything, it is that Mitt Romneyis not very good at politics. Incessant gaffes, strategic missteps, a paucity of policy prescriptions and a plethora of head-scratching tactical decisions have come to define his run for the White House. Quite simply, Mitt Romney is a bad politician.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney: “My job is not to worry about those people.” Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

But on Monday night, we learned something new – and profoundly unsettling – about him: he may very well also be a bad person.

I don’t use those words lightly, but I’m not sure how else to interpret the comments he made at a closed-door fundraiser that were posted online by Mother Jones. They are devastating. They suggest a level of meanness and divisiveness in Romney’s personal character that is disturbing – even disqualifying for the nation’s highest office.

Look at how Romney classifies the 47% of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes:

“[They] will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what … These are people who pay no income tax …

“[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

This is a breathtaking statement: a fundamental misunderstanding of Read the rest of this entry »

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Mitt Romney shoots off his Foot-In-Mouth Disease… again.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

There are so many hilarious headlines that could be written.

What an utter idiot.

The Secret Service can protect him from others, but they can’t protect Mitt from his own political suicide.

More signs of President Obama’s re-election.

Oh… and be certain to read the comments following the story.

Romney’s statement perfectly undiplomatic

Mitt Romney makes remarks on the attack on the US consulate in Libya (Reuters)September 12,
2012 6:41 pm, by Edward Luce

There are moments that can indelibly brand a politician and Mitt Romney may just have met his.

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Romney makes remarks on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, in Jacksonville, Florida

U.S. Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney makes remarks on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, in Jacksonville, Florida September 12, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

The alacrity – and brittle certainty – with which the Republican nominee responded to the violence against US diplomats on Tuesday night offers a snapshot of why his candidacy has failed to attract true believers. On Wednesday morning, Hillary Clinton read out a sombre statement condemning the killing of Chris Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans. Forty minutes later, Barack Obama followed suit. Both focused on Mr Stevens’ tragic death.

In between Mr Romney squeezed in an openly political press conference in which he called the Obama administration’s response “disgraceful” and said it “should never apologise for America.” His condolences were brief and dutiful. The exercise was based on the strained allegation that Mr Obama had sought to mollify the protestors in Egypt (the US embassy in Cairo issued a statement that had not been approved by the White House).

In a race between two more evenly matched candidates, Tuesday night’s significance would have been to inject a foreign policy dimension into an almost wholly domestic campaign. That may be one outcome. But Mr Romney has Read the rest of this entry »

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Transcript of Bill Clinton’s Speech to the Democratic National Convention

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, September 10, 2012

Transcript of Bill Clinton’s Speech to the Democratic National Convention

The following is the full text of former President Bill Clinton’s speech on Wednesday from the Democratic National Convention.

September 5, 2012

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. (Sustained cheers, applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Now, Mr. Mayor, fellow Democrats, we are here to nominate a president. (Cheers, applause.) And I’ve got one in mind. (Cheers, applause.)

I want to nominate a man whose own life has known its fair share of adversity and uncertainty. I want to nominate a man who ran for president to change the course of an already weak economy and then just six weeks before his election, saw it suffer the biggest collapse since the Great Depression; a man who stopped the slide into depression and put us on the long road to recovery, knowing all the while that no matter how many jobs that he saved or created, there’d still be millions more waiting, worried about feeding their own kids, trying to keep their hopes alive.

I want to nominate a man who’s cool on the outside — (cheers, applause) — but who burns for America on the inside. (Cheers, applause.)

I want — I want a man who believes with no doubt that we can build a new American Dream economy, driven by innovation and creativity, but education and — yes — by cooperation. (Cheers.)

And by the way, after last night, I want a man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama. (Cheers, applause.)

You know — (cheers, applause). I — (cheers, applause).

I want — I want Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.) And I proudly nominate him to be the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party.

Now, folks, in Tampa a few days ago, we heard a lot of talk — (laughter) — all about how the president and the Democrats don’t really believe in free enterprise and individual initiative, how we want everybody to be dependent on the government, how bad we are for the economy.

This Republican narrative — this alternative universe — (laughter, applause) — says that every one of us in this room who amounts to anything, we’re all completely self-made. One of the greatest chairmen the Democratic Party ever had, Bob Strauss — (cheers, applause) — used to say that ever politician wants every voter to believe he was born in a log cabin he built himself. (Laughter, applause.) But, as Strauss then admitted, it ain’t so. (Laughter.)

We Democrats — we think the country works better with a strong middle class, with real opportunities for poor folks to work their way into it — (cheers, applause) — with a relentless focus on the future, with business and government actually working together to promote growth and broadly share prosperity. You see, we believe that “we’re all in this together” is a far better philosophy than “you’re on your own.” (Cheers, applause.) It is.

So who’s right? (Cheers.) Well, since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats, 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private sector jobs.

So what’s the job score? Republicans, 24 million; Democrats, 42 (million). (Cheers, applause.)

Now, there’s — (cheers, applause) — there’s a reason for this. It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics. (Cheers, applause.) Why? Because poverty, discrimination and ignorance restrict growth. (Cheers, applause.) When you stifle human potential, when you don’t invest in new ideas, it doesn’t just cut off the people who are affected; it hurts us all. (Cheers, applause.) We know that investments in education and infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase growth. They increase good jobs, and they create new wealth for all the rest of us. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, there’s something I’ve noticed lately. You probably have too. And it’s this. Maybe just because I grew up in a different time, but though I often disagree with Republicans, I actually never Read the rest of this entry »

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Pharmaceutical Firms Lie, Cheat & Steal from America’s Elderly, Orphans, Poor and Helpless

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, September 8, 2012

A few points for the reader to consider:
This fraud was national in scope, involving a $3 BILLION settlement, of which the North Carolina Attorney General was able to recoup $31.8M. Pfizer, Abbott, Johnson & Johnson, Forest Labs, Eli Lilly, Astrazeneca have also all plead guilty to deceptive and fraudulent marketing. It’s very likely a drop in the bucket in comparison with the greater scope.

The four most expensive Pharmacy frauds in the United States history have occurred since George W. Bush oversaw the rewriting of the Medicare Part D drug benefit in 2003. In order of their value, they are:
GlaxoSmithKline – $3 Billion, 2012
Pfizer – $2.3 Billion, 2009
Abbott Laboratories – $1.5 Billion, 2012
Eli Lilly – $1.4 Billion, 2009

The so-called “doughnut hole” in the Medicare prescription Part D drug plan was closed by President Obama. That “doughnut hole” was created under the George W. Bush administration, who caved in to lobbyists from BIG PHARMA, and allowed them to write much of that aspect of the 2003 revision of the Medicare Part D law (also known as the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (MMA), and refused to allow Medicaid the opportunity to bargain for prices with pharmaceutical firms.

Advertising is expensive. Advertising for medications on television, radio, Internet, magazines, billboards, buses, and any other place where advertising is sold, is illegal in some nations. It was once illegal in the United States, until the 1980’s when the FDA OK’d it under pressure from the Reagan administration.

IMS Health, a medical data firm, calculates that drug companies’ business in the United States alone earns more than $300 billion a year.

Last year, GSK had $20 Billion gross profits on $27 Billion in revenue. So don’t let anyone EVER fool you into believing that drug companies don’t make enough money, don’t have enough profits, or enough profit margin.

Pharmaceutical companies spent Read the rest of this entry »

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A Retrospective: Bush & the GOP’s Promises VS Reality

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, August 19, 2012

Does anyone remember this?

Nope. Probably not. That’s why it’s being posted here… to remind us all.

In the first Presidential Debate in 2000 with Vice President Al Gore, Jr. and former Texas governor & GOP candidate George W. Bush, the forum included questions on the topics of budget & economy, governmental reform, healthcare, Social Security, tax reform, education, energy & oil, foreign policy, homeland security, war & peace, and abortion.

As you read the responses below, consider how Read the rest of this entry »

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Paul Ryan Will Save Social Security & Medicare

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, August 19, 2012

NOT!

The original title of this entry was “Paul Ryan Contradicts Himself & Pimps his Mother.

For behold, it’s a case of “The pot calls the kettle ‘black.'”

First, he is a career politician damning “this board of bureaucrats,” of which he is a founding, card-carrying member.

Paul Ryan has never held an honest, private sector job a day in his life (if you count driving the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile during summer in college), and has ONLY had political jobs since he first started working.

He has completely IGNORED the findings of the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget and the Governmental Accountability Office, all who have independently found that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act decrease the budget and has NOT taken ANY money from Medicare, Medicaid or the Social Security Trust Fund (SSTF).

You know the saying: Read the rest of this entry »

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How to End This Depression

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 29, 2012

It’s been said that ‘everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.’

The distinguished Dr. Krugman – who accurately foretold in 2001 that the “Bush Tax Cuts” would create significant deficit (and they did) – understands the role of government in providing opportunity for entrepreneurs and private enterprise, and the equally important role that government has in responsibility to protect public health and safety.

The long and short of it is this: Government spending on economic infrastructure (including education) is a good investment because it yields significant immediate and long-term results.

Why?

Because Materials and Manpower ALWAYS come from the private sector.

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the aforementioned premise, and the numerous times about which I have written in detail about the same. This entry illustrates with three excellent examples of that principle.

Naysayers and critics miss one very important factor in their analogy, which is that the Federal government has the power and authority to print money. The way that factor relates to the issue at hand is this: While the government could – in theory, and in reality – print enough money to give $10,000 to every man, woman and child in this nation the net effect of so doing would be to devalue the money, which would be resulting from inflation.

How to correct, resolve or work within the guidelines of that factor is to understand that one very important role of government is to provide OPPORTUNITY for entrepreneurs and private enterprise. By providing opportunity, government is also encouraging private enterprise and entrepreneurship. And, for the strict Constitutionalists, courts have continued to uphold and acknowledge that such power is contained within the Preamble’s clause “to promote the general welfare.”

Further, for the “anti-Big Government” naysayers, it is preposterous (contrary to reason or common sense; utterly absurd or ridiculous) to imagine that, in this era, with every technological advance, invention and discovery which has been made since 1776, and with our population (now approaching 312,000,000), that we would have fewer laws, rules and regulations than when we first began.

And, for those who say we should balance our budget, I would agree. However, I hasten to point out, that the last time that was done was under Eisenhower and LBJ. That does not excuse us from an ongoing civil discussion and debate about how to effectively manage our nation’s budget. Perhaps a formula of some type which would take into account GDP, debt (outstanding Treasury notes), trade deficit, population growth, birth rate, and other factors – with an “escape” mechanism for times of civil emergency or war, of course.

For such, we need technocrats – experts in areas of operations – rather than bureaucrats. Perhaps in an advisory role. But then again, we have those.

So… why don’t we work together as we ought?

Politics.

It seems that “Everybody’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey.”

How to End This Depression

May 24, 2012

Paul Krugman

The depression we’re in is essentially gratuitous: we don’t need to be suffering so much pain and destroying so many lives. We could end it both more easily and more quickly than anyone imagines—anyone, that is, except those who have actually studied the economics of depressed economies and the historical evidence on how policies work in such economies.
Obama in Master Lock factory Milwaukee

President Obama on a tour of the Master Lockfactory in Milwaukee with the company’s senior vice-president, Bon Rice, February 2012; Susan Walsh/AP Images

The truth is that recovery would be almost ridiculously easy to achieve: all we need is to reverse the austerity policies of the past couple of years and temporarily boost spending. Never mind all the talk of how we have a long-run problem that can’t have a short-run solution—this may sound sophisticated, but it isn’t. With a boost in spending, we could be back to more or less full employment faster than anyone imagines.

But don’t we have to worry about long-run budget deficits? Keynes wrote that “the boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity.” Now, as I argue in my forthcoming book*—and show later in the data discussed in this article—is the time for the government to spend more until the private sector is ready to carry the economy forward again. At that point, the US would be in a far better position to deal with deficits, entitlements, and the costs of financing them.

Meanwhile, the strong measures that would all go a long way toward lifting us out of this depression should include, among other policies, increased federal aid to state and local governments, which would restore the jobs of many public employees; a more aggressive approach by the Federal Reserve to quantitative easing (that is, purchasing bonds in an attempt to reduce long-term interest rates); and less timid efforts by the Obama administration to reduce homeowner debt.

But some readers will wonder, isn’t a recovery program along the lines I’ve described just out of the question as a political matter? And isn’t advocating such a program a waste of time? My answers to these two questions are: not necessarily, and definitely not. The chances of a real turn in policy, away from the austerity mania of the last few years and toward a renewed focus on job creation, are much better than conventional wisdom would have you believe. And recent experience also teaches us a crucial political lesson: Read the rest of this entry »

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Is SNAP (formerly “Food Stamps”) an Economic Boost?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, July 19, 2012

You betcha’!

Research performed by the United States Department of Agriculture at the request of then-President George W. Bush shows that for every $1.00 spent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, $1.84 is put into the economy. In fact the report says that, “every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates as much as $9 of economic activity.”

You want jobs?

The research shows that the “jobs impact estimates from the FANIOM model range from 9,000 to 18,000 FTE-jobs plus self-employed per $1 billion of SNAP benefits.”

It should be borne in mind that the median household income in 2006 was slightly over $50,000/year.

Read on for more “shocking” economic good news!

The report in it’s entirety may be downloaded here.

The Economic Case for Food Stamps

By Michel Nischan

Jul 18 2012, 3:09 PM ET

Congress is planning to cut up to $16 billion from low-income food aid over the next five years. But research shows that every dollar spent on assistance pays for itself and grows the economy.

In its current form, the House Agriculture Committee‘s version of the farm bill proposes draconian cuts to food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The ill-thought-out proposal would deny food assistance to millions of people, many of them children. Speaking as a chef and CEO of a national nonprofit that supports small and mid-sized farmers who make fresh fruits and vegetables available to everyone regardless of income, I’m obviously alarmed.

FOOD-USA/FARMERSMARKET

Grace Blackburn, Susan Noyce and Mary Claire Geyer (L-R) set out fruit for sale at the Westmoreland Berry Farm stand at the Arlington Farmers’ Market in Arlington, Virginia in this picture taken June 28, 2008. While price hikes are rippling through farmers’ markets across the United States, they are doing little to deter shoppers looking for local produce. Cherries and berries for sale at the Westmoreland Berry Farm stand at the Arlington Farmers’ Market in Arlington, Virginia (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The Senate’s version of the farm bill would reduce overall funding by $23 billion, with a reduction in food stamps of $4.5 billion over five years. The House Agriculture Committee is proposing to cut funding by $35 billion — with nearly half the overall cut coming from reductions in food stamps by $16 billion over five years.

Those who believe in cutting SNAP funding as a cost-saving measure should know that food stamps boost the economy — not put a strain on it. Supporters of federal food benefits programs including President George W. Bush understood this, and proved the economic value of SNAP by sanctioning a USDA study that found that $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in gross domestic product (GDP). Mark Zandi, of Moody’s Economy.com, confirmed the economic boost in an independent study that found that every SNAP dollar spent generates $1.73 in real GDP increase. “Expanding food stamps,” the study read, “is the most effective way to prime the economy’s pump.”

It is important to point out that SNAP benefits go to those who need them most. USDA’s Amber Waves recently wrote that Read the rest of this entry »

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Yes, it’s perfectly legal to lie to police.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 15, 2012

Doubtless, at one time or another, many of us have read or heard of individuals being charged with “lying to police,” “giving false information to a Law Enforcement Officer,” or any of the other numerous charges which go by similar names.

Initially, the Miranda v Arizona case made it clear that according to our Constitution, one had no compunction or legal requirement to speak with police. What that illustrates is refusal, not dishonesty. However, the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Stolen Valor Act case reinforced the notion that, unless one is under oath, lying – blatant dishonesty – is perfectly legal. Here’s how.

The “Stolen Valor Act of 2005” (Public Law 109-437) sought to Read the rest of this entry »

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A Look Back: Wall Street Journal on Presidential Jobs Track Record, from ’39 – ’09

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, July 9, 2012

Just in the case we need reminding.

And often, we do.

As Samuel Johnson once wrote, “Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.”
Johnson: Rambler #2 (March 24, 1750)

January 9, 2009, 12:04 PM ET

Bush On Jobs: The Worst Track Record On Record

By WSJ Staff

President George W. Bush entered office in 2001 just as a recession was starting, and is preparing to leave in the middle of a long one. That’s almost 22 months of recession during his 96 months in office.

His job-creation record won’t look much better. The Bush administration created about three million jobs (net) over its eight years, a fraction of the 23 million jobs created under President Bill Clinton‘s administration and only slightly better than President George H.W. Bush did in his four years in office.

Here’s a look at job creation under each president since the Labor Department started keeping payroll records in 1939. The counts are based on Read the rest of this entry »

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A: 1.4% Q: What is the annualized spending growth rate under Obama & lowest rate of any president since Reagan?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Who’s the Biggest Spender? Obama or Bush?

By BRUCE BARTLETT, The Fiscal Times June 1, 2012

Lately, there has been some controversy about the growth of spending under Barack Obama. It began on May 22 with a column by Rex Nutting of MarketWatch, which concluded that the rate of growth of federal spending under Obama has actually been trivial compared to the last 4 presidents.

According to Nutting’s calculations, spending has grown only 1.4 percent per year under Obama – one-fifth the rate under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Following is a chart accompanying the article.

There has been a considerable amount of debate about Nutting’s calculations, which fly in the face of Republican dogma. Much involves technical accounting issues, such as how to allocate spending during fiscal year 2009. This is important because fiscal year 2009 began on September 1, 2008 during Bush’s administration, reflecting his priorities. By the time Obama took office on January 20, 2009 the fiscal year was almost half over; he didn’t submit his first budget until February 26, 2009 and the fiscal year 2010 budget is really the first one that reflected his priorities.

Nutting assigned the bulk of fiscal year 2009 spending to Bush, an assumption that other analysts have questioned. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post found that Nutting overstated his argument in various ways. But the PoliFact site of the Tampa Bay Times concluded that the Nutting column was essentially correct.

Aside from the political implications, the reason this debate is important is because there is a tendency for people to conflate spending, deficits and debt, as well as confusing rates of change with absolute levels.

The difference between Read the rest of this entry »

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