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Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 07:37 AM PST

Pathetic Electorate

by ProfWriter101

So, let me get this straight.  Polls show that Americans are  overwhelmingly unhappy about stagnant wages, so they vote in the party that opposes an increase in the minimum wage, blocks funding for infrastructure, and degrades workers’ rights, merely because they want change.  

They blame Obama for inaction as if he could make the House Republicans be reasonable or the Senate Republicans stop abusing the filibuster.

Rick Scott is reelected Governor of Florida besides having run a company convicted of the largest Medicare fraud in history.  

Scott Walker is reelected Governor of Wisconsin besides having six associates indicted and or convicted of campaign violations and also having failed horribly in creating jobs as he promised.

Sam Brownback is reelected governor of Kansas despite the fact that he has essentially bankrupted the state.  

In Georgia, David Perdue gets elected Senator despite being proud of outsourcing American jobs.  His opponent, Michelle Nunn, only gets 29% of the white vote.  So, I guess most of the poor whites there would rather vote for someone who will take away their jobs rather than vote for a woman who is associated with Obama, a black man.

In Iowa, Joni Ernst is elected Senator despite having advocated using violence against federal policies she doesn’t like.  She wins primarily because her opponent said something stupid about farmers.

This goes on and on.

The truth is that the Republican’s cynical strategy of blocking everything and then blaming Obama worked. The hundreds of millions of dollars from the Koch Brothers and others was a huge factor that allowed the promulgation of slander and lies.  Also, the sad truth is that much of this country is still racist because if people voted on the issues and their own economic self interest, none of these clowns would have won.  

Discuss

Thu Sep 11, 2014 at 10:09 AM PDT

Corporate Corruption Indie Film

by ProfWriter101

Dear fellow Kossacks,

My name is actually Sam Joseph, and I have written and directed an independent feature film about corporate corruption entitled WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY.  It was produced and co-scored by John Densmore, the drummer of The Doors.  I believe that the film's politics will appeal to most of you, plus the story is darkly comic with lots of twists and turns.

Please take a look at our website and click on the video there.  John talks about why he produced the film, which is followed by the trailer.  

You can also visit our Facebook page at Window of Opportunity - Movie

Any support you can give would be enormously appreciated.  Thanks so much.

Discuss

Dear fellow Kossacks,

My name is actually Sam Joseph, and I have written and directed a low budget feature film about corporate corruption entitled WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY.  It was produced and co-scored by John Densmore, the drummer of The Doors.  I believe that the film's politics will appeal to most of you, plus the story is darkly comic with lots of twists and turns.

Please take a look at our website and click on the video there.  John talks about why he produced the film, which is followed by the trailer.  

You can also visit our Facebook page at Window of Opportunity - Movie

Any support you can give would be enormously appreciated.  Thanks so much.

Discuss

I am going to start with a hypothetical.  A high school baseball team goes 26 and 0, undefeated, wins the state championship, a team made up of mostly seniors.  Two of its players are drafted into the major leagues and most of the starting lineup will play in college. The next year, two of the team’s best players are injured, another goes to play for a private school and the team ends up with a losing season, 10 wins – 16 losses.

Is the coach of the team a good coach or a bad coach? The answer is -- it’s hard to know. The year the team won the state championship it might have succeeded despite the coach’s deficiencies, or perhaps he brilliantly utilized the great talent he had.  The next year he may have mismanaged the team that was better than its record – or maybe his coaching helped them to more wins than expected given the talent.  

And this is the major problem with the debate on teacher tenure, and education in general. The debate focuses on the results (mostly based on standardized tests), or lack thereof, blaming the teachers for the students’ inability to do well. Examples of the difficulty in firing clearly incompetent teachers are highlighted as a reason to get rid of the entire tenure system, and a dubious relationship between tenure and academic outcomes is asserted.  The truth is that one has nothing to do with the other.

(For the record, I do believe that it should be easier to get rid of incompetent and/or mentally unstable or dangerous teachers. The same is true for the plethora of administrators who are petty, vindictive, corrupt and dictatorial. But let’s talk about the real reason children are not learning.)

What is not addressed is the change in society that impacts the quality of the “talent”, that is the students.

When I was growing up, my mother was a homemaker, my father an Optometrist, and when I struggled in school they stayed up with me every night reading with me.  They helped with my homework, and I was expected to get mostly A’s. There was never any discussion about whether I would go to college, but where I would go.  

Now, let’s look at what is going on today. A huge percentage of children are living in poverty, often in single family households, where merely surviving supersedes the importance of education.

When I was in high school, students got into fights all the time. That’s what happens with teenagers. But people put up their dukes.  Nobody had a gun.  Nowadays, teenagers have ready access to lethal weapons, which is an obvious recipe for disaster. It is hard to concentrate on learning when you fear for your life and safety.

I spent some time teaching in inner city schools before I became a college professor. The behavior of many of the students was appalling and horribly disrespectful. “Fuck you!”  “You’re going to die, mister.” “Yeah, I fucked you in the ass.” It felt like a war zone, and I know many teachers who got burnt out, not because they didn’t care or didn’t want to teach, but because they couldn’t handle the stress.

Many of the students were contemptuous of education, and made it difficult for the students who wanted to learn. Administrators would often blame the teacher leaving him or her feeling even more isolated. The kids are out of control at home and on the streets.  Why wouldn’t that be the case in the school, which, for many, feels more like a prison to them?

Are there solutions?  I think so. One would be more vocational training as opposed to pushing everyone towards college. You can be successful in life without going to college if you have skills.  In parts of Europe, teenagers are given the option of taking an academic track or learning a trade. That model could work here. If you give a 14 year old who is not academically motivated a job at minimum wage teaching him a skill, say a car mechanic; then he is receiving something tangible for his efforts…money while learning a trade.  He is less likely to be gang banging or getting into trouble if he has a real responsibility that is tangible to him and to his family. For many students, learning Algebra is not going to put food on their table. Learning a trade will.

This is not to say we shouldn’t encourage higher education, but since the inner city school dropout rate is so high, it would seem that primarily promoting a college tract is not producing the outcomes society desires. We need to do something different and this is just one idea.

Finally, I think the real reason teacher tenure is being challenged is to punish teachers’ unions for supporting the Democratic Party, but that’s something for another essay.

Discuss

Back in January in a diary I wrote, I made the following predictions:

1. Virtually all of Christie’s closest aides will have to resign, and several will be indicted.
2.  Several aides will cut deals and turn on Christie, and also reveal other crimes that are completely unrelated, just as happened in Watergate.
3.  The current investigation in the use of Hurricane Sandy funds will expand beyond the investigation into the television advertisements.  The administration of the funds will be shown to be mishandled and misused, and that graft will have taken place.  Numerous people will go to jail.
4.  Other scandals will come to the fore and people will go to jail.
5.  I think there is a 50-50 chance of Christie also being indicted, but even if he isn’t, the scandal will get so bad that he will forced to resign.  I think he lasts about 18 months.  

I still stand by these predictions, and recent news reports would seem to suggest I was correct.  However, I think now that Christie himself will almost certainly be indicted as well.  

So, I find it humorous that there are still people (including Christie himself) who think he is a viable Presidential contender.  Not only are there the numerous scandals, but Christie has also failed miserably in terms of governance, as the recent budget problems have revealed. He will never be President, thankfully.  

But, he has over three years left in his term, and I find it difficult to conceive that he will be able to finish.  Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno would succeed him, but she is involved in some of the malfeasance as well including interfering with a criminal investigation and attempting to bully the mayor of Hoboken for a project that David Samson was promoting.  Is she able to hang on?  This is going to get very messy, but perversely very entertaining as these corrupt clowns get their comeuppance.  

Discuss

Sun Feb 09, 2014 at 11:27 PM PST

Buono Slander

by ProfWriter101

The New Jersey Star Ledger has just admitted that they should have not endorsed the reelection of Chris Christie but did so, in part, because his opponent, State Senator Barbara Buono, was "not up to the job of being Governor".  This gratuitous slap at Ms. Buono is merely another stupid justification for endorsing a man who was so clearly a corrupt bully.  

I thought former State Senator Buono would have made an excellent governor.  She clearly cares about the people and education and public employees and the environment -- you know, the important things. There has been no hint of corruption in her past, unlike Christie who has had ethics problems since his first election where he was sued for slander (and lost) and other ethics issues as well.  And in that editorial, they still said that Christie should be considered as a Republican presidential nominee as compared to people like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.  

What they should be saying is this:  "We owe Barbara Buono a huge apology.  We should have endorsed her for Governor.  Barbara Buono is honest while Chris Christie is corrupt - Barbara Buono cares for her constituents while Chris Christie cares about only about his own ambition. Finally, Chris Christie isn't fit to be Governor, let alone President."

Discuss

Several weeks ago, I wrote that I believed that the “Bridgegate” outrage would lead to whole host of other scandals both related to and separate from the closing of the Fort Lee traffic lanes.  I am a bit surprised that it has blown up so quickly, but not that it has happened.  It was clear from the outset that this was driven by the people closest to Governor Christie (if not himself). The motive is still not quite clear, though the message clearly was to intimidate – probably Mayor Mark Sokolich – for some reason. The initial theory was because the Mayor wasn’t endorsing the Governor’s reelection.  A new theory is that it has to do with a billion dollar Fort Lee development, which I think is more likely. The famous line from the Watergate scandal was “Follow the money”, and I think same is true here.

It is clear virtually everyone close to Christie was somehow involved in Bridgegate, either as planners or part of the cover-up, or both.  This will lead to a number of people cutting deals with prosecutors.  David Wildstein’s attorney has already indicated his desire to do just that.  And that’s where it gets interesting.  And that’s where the comparison to Watergate becomes most apt.  In Watergate, the break-in at the Democratic Headquarters led to a massive investigation and subsequent prosecutions in a wide range of illegal activity that had nothing to do with the break-in.  43 participants went to jail.  There were million of dollars of illegal campaign contributions, dirty tricks, illegal spying, and covering up crimes, in large part caused by the vindictive, paranoid mentality of the Nixon campaign. Christie shares that mentality in spades.  

Cutting to the chase, here are some predictions:

1.  Virtually all of Christie’s closest aides will have to resign, and several will be indicted.
2.  Several aides will cut deals and turn on Christie, and also reveal other crimes that are completely unrelated, just as happened in Watergate.
3.  The current investigation in the use of Hurricane Sandy funds will expand beyond the investigation into the television advertisements.  The administration of the funds will be shown to be mishandled and misused, and that graft will have taken place.  Numerous people will go to jail.
4.  Other scandals will come to the fore and people will go to jail.
5.  I think there is a 50-50 chance of Christie also being indicted, but even if he isn’t, the scandal will get so bad that he will forced to resign.  I think he lasts about 18 months.  

The fact that the New Jersey Assembly and Senate will renew and expand its subpoena powers to investigate these crimes shows that Christie’s alliance with certain Democrats is kaput. They were willing to work with him when he served their (mostly economic) interests, but they know a sinking ship when they see one.  And, Christie is disliked by many Republicans, who support him more out of fear than love.  They won’t be unhappy to see the bully go.

Discuss

Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 01:21 AM PST

Tip of the Iceberg for Christie

by ProfWriter101

I grew up in New Jersey, in the area where Governor Chris Christie began his political career, so I have a sense of the pols from that area. I believe that the brewing scandal about the closure of traffic lanes to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey (for refusing to endorse Christie for reelection) is the tip of the iceberg of scandals coming down the pike.  A number of articles, here and here and here point to a politician who helps his family and cronies skate on their criminal behavior but who goes after and bullies his perceived political enemies in a way that clearly steps over the line.  

California Representative Henry Waxman said a number of years ago, "When the Republicans ran the Congress and Clinton was in the White House, there was no accusation too small for them to pursue. Now that President Bush is in power, there's no scandal so large that they have any interest in examining it."  The same is true now with Darrell Issa...Benghazi anyone?  But if the Democrats were to truly pursue what are clearly real scandals, then Christie would be exposed as the corrupt hack politician that he is.  Hopefully, "Bridge-Gate" will open the door to Christie's sordid past now that both the U.S. Senate and New Jersey Legislature are starting to investigate. But I also believe this, that over the next few years, more scandals will emerge in the vein of what we've seen - sweetheart deals for friends, ugly bullying behavior, and blatant attempts to cover up the truth. I believe this because this is how Christie has always operated, and won.  So, why would he change?  I can only hope that the Democrats will investigate with as much vigor as Darrell Issa, only in their case, they truly have something real to look into.  

Discuss

Let me start by saying that in principle, the filibuster in the Senate - used judiciously and sparingly - was a good thing.  There are times that the majority needs to be slowed down, that a certain nominee should not be approved despite having majority support, or legislation needs to be blocked.  But for it to work, it needs to be used sparingly, rarely, and in only special circumstances.  And until Barack Obama became president, this is how it worked.  Senators had an understanding in this regard, that even if they could use the filibuster, they shouldn’t use it unless it was, as was agreed upon in 2005, "extraordinary circumstances".  At that time, Republicans were threatening to change the rules, and that was just offer a handful of federal judges.  The Democrats essentially capitulated except for a few judges.  A deal was struck, and the rules remained intact.  

Now Democrats are being accused of hypocrisy for changing the rules now when they criticized that idea eight years ago.  And on the surface, it would seem to be hypocritical.  It is not.  It would be hypocritical if they did this under the same circumstances, for a only a few judges, but that is not the case.  The Republicans have made the use of the filibuster routine for scores of President Obama’s appointments, to either kill or delay them - sometimes for years.  They wanted to cripple the government since they couldn’t take it over at the ballot box.  And it is clear that the Republicans reneged on numerous promises to stop using this tactic.  

The democrats in the Senate were not hypocrites to change the Senate rules when one looks at the numbers.

One must honestly compare the situation in 2005 and the agreement made then, and also the historical understanding about the limited use of the filibuster, and realize that a change had to take place.  The Republicans abused their power in a way that was unprecedented.  The Democrats are not hypocrites for taking action.  The circumstances had dramatically changed, for the worse.  

Discuss

On recent television appearances Mitt Romney has been questioning the character of President Obama over his promises regarding the ACA.  This is quite rich considering that Romney’s entire campaign put forward one lie after another.

The man simply has no shame.  And his comments evidences that he continues to be extremely bitter after his loss.  He, his wife, and his minions truly expected to win.  Moreover, Romney felt entitled to win.  As his wife said during the campaign, “It’s our turn.”  Well…whoops…I guess it wasn’t.

His recent comments are not just the ugly slurs of a sore loser, though they are that.  I think that Romney wants to run for President again.  It seems he believes that his loss was an aberration, miscalculations on the part of his campaign (not his, because he’s never wrong) and the advantages of Obama’s incumbency.  He feels that he was mischaracterized as a heartless and greedy plutocrat.  The fact that it’s demonstrably true is something he refuses to see.  47% anyone?

Romney wants to be on the frontline of the attack during this period where Obama seems vulnerable. Further, there is no heir apparent for the Republican nomination, and Romney knows this.  He is in apparent good health, and would be no older than Ronald Reagan when he won the presidency.  If there is a void of strong contenders come the end of 2015, and if he sees an opening, I believe that Romney will jump into the race.  After all, he’s entitled.

Discuss

Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 10:03 PM PST

Electoral Rigging Consequences

by ProfWriter101

As reported recently, there is a move by Republicans to change the electoral college in order to make it essentially impossible for Democrats to ever win the Presidency.  For instance, under the new law proposed in Virginia, instead of winning 13 electoral college votes, President Obama would have received only 4 despite winning the statewide election by four points.  This is also being contemplated in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other blue states that currently are in the control of Republican governors and legislatures.

Were this to happen, not only would it be blatantly unfair, but it would be destabilizing to the society.  Though antiquated, the winner of electoral college usually receives the most popular votes as well.  It has happened only a few times where that wasn’t the case, the 2000 election being one of them.  But even there the margin was close and though there was a dispute over the outcome in Florida, nobody had changed the rules so dramatically as to make it impossible for one side or the other to win.  (This is not to say that Al Gore wasn’t cheated - he was - but it wasn’t as blatant.)

Now, imagine in this last election that despite winning the popular vote by more than five million votes, Barack Obama had been denied the Presidency because of the rigging of the electoral college.  Mitt Romney would be considered by more than half the country as an illegitimate President.  His entire Presidency would be seen as fraudulently obtained  by a majority of the country.  Further, the rigging of the electoral college is also racist as it dramatically lessens the impact of urban minority voters, enraging groups already with a history of disenfranchisement.     

Unlike 2000, I do not believe that a Presidency obtained in this manner would be met with only mild protest as when Al Gore graciously conceded after the Supreme Court ruling ending the recount.  Rather, I believe civil unrest and possibly riots would ensue, and that ironically many blue states would start talking about secession.  Why should California and New York have to tolerate a right wing president elected illegitimately in a rigged election by a minority of the population?  Of course, a clamor would ensue to change the election of the President to a popular vote.  But changing the constitution is difficult, and would take time.

We have a significant segment of the population that has talked of secession with President Obama’s reelection.  But he won fair and square, with a substantial electoral college and popular vote majority.   Republicans know that winning the Presidency in the future will be difficult with their current policies.  But rather than change their philosophy, they would prefer to change the rules creating a stacked deck in their favor.  People don’t like card cheats anymore then political cheats, and will express their feelings vehemently if this comes about.  People are unhappy when they lose, but they become furious when they are cheated.

Discuss
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