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school2A couple of items.
 

So evidence that charter schools have yielded academic gains in New Orleans or anywhere else are muddled at best. Nevertheless, establishment Democrats…argue charter school skeptics are the ones driven by ideology and twisting of facts.
 
There’s a reason for the desperate arguments promoted by…charter school proponents.
 
Just as the general public supports progressive proposals for universal health care and minimum wage, surveys find that Americans have increased confidence in public schools while support for charter schools has dropped by double digit percentages among Democrats and Republicans.
 
Now there’s some facts for you.
(Jeff Bryant/OurFuture.org)

There has never been more opposition to high stakes standardized testing.
 
Yet the corporate controlled media is pretending that the resistance is over.
 
Parents are refusing to let their kids take these tests at the same or even greater numbers than ever.
 
Fewer states require high stakes tests as graduation exams and/or use them to evaluate their teachers. Across the nation, states are cutting the size of standardized tests or eliminating them altogether. And more state legislatures passed laws explicitly allowing parents to opt their children out of the tests.
 
Yet Education Week published an article a few days ago called “Anti-Test Movement Slows to a Crawl.”
(gadflyonthewallblog)

Comment below fold.
 
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sulfide2Sorry I missed this one when it happened, almost a month ago. Glencore is the real power behind the PolyMet proposal, and it’s Glencore that would be carrying the bulk of any actual profits from PolyMet sulfide mining far, far from the Iron Range and Minnesota. As well as leaving a massive, toxic mess in its wake, and all that.

 

Glencore, the world’s biggest mining company, faces a potential investigation by US authorities for alleged money laundering, after being ordered to hand over documents to the Department of Justice…
 
The subpoena relates to compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and US money laundering laws, Glencore said.
 
The documents requested relate to its business dealings in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Venezuela, from 2007 to the present day.
(The Guardian)

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enbridgeI for one sure hope so. A couple of intertwined items.
 

Climate change protesters are claiming victory in their effort to present an unusual “necessity defense” against felony charges stemming from efforts to shut down oil pipelines.
 
The Minnesota Supreme Court declined (July 18) to review a ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals that backed the protesters, who will still face an uphill legal battle when their case goes to trial this fall.
 
Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein acknowledge turning the emergency shut-off valves on two pipelines in 2016 in Clearwater County of northwestern Minnesota as part of a coordinated nationwide action. Eleven activists were charged in all.
(MPR)

Environmental and Native American groups in Minnesota are gearing up to thwart the replacement of an aging pipeline that crosses the state…
 
Enbridge still must apply for 29 required federal, state, and local permits before they can begin construction…
(CNN)

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soybeansI have to admit that I didn’t see this coming. Someone must have been able to convince Trump of the political disaster he’d be facing if farmers aren’t covered somehow.
 

The U.S. Agriculture Department announced Tuesday a $12 billion package of emergency aid for farmers caught in the midst of President Trump’s escalating trade war, the latest sign that growing tensions between the United States and other countries will not end soon.
 
Trump ordered Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to prepare a range of options several months ago, amid complaints from farmers that their products faced retaliatory tariffs from China and other countries. The new package of government assistance funds was announced Tuesday and will go into effect in September.
 
The aid package will target soybean farmers, dairy farmers, and pork producers, among others. White House officials hope it will temporarily quiet some of the unease from farm groups, but the new plan could revive debates about taxpayer-funded bailouts and the degree to which Trump’s trade strategy is leading to unforeseen costs.
(Washington Post)

Here’s some additional information. We’ll also see, to what extent the “emergency aid” is carefully dished out with political advantage primarily in mind.
 

While this may offer farmers some short-term good news, it’s bad news for everyone in the long run. It means that Trump, rather than retreating from his misbegotten trade war, plans to double down on a position in which he has squandered U.S. leverage against more adversarial trade partners like China by simultaneously alienating U.S. allies.
 
Some farm advocates appear to be clear on the long-term implications of Trump’s short-sightedness. Brian Kuehl, executive director of trade group Farmers for Free Trade, called the White House initiative “a short-term attempt at masking the long-term damage.”
 
“The best relief for the president’s trade war would be ending the trade war,” Kuehl said.
(Daily Kos)

Comment below fold.
 
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Bad rumblings at the VA

by Dan Burns on July 24, 2018 · 1 comment

A couple of items.
 

More than a dozen employees in high-level positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs have recently been reassigned to lower-level positions — and a new report says it’s part of a purge by President Donald Trump’s loyalists.
 
According to the Washington Post, acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke and a small team of Trump political appointees are reshuffling staffers they perceive to be disloyal to Trump and his agenda for the VA, which is responsible for providing health care and other federal benefits to US military veterans.
(Vox)

Last year, the Trump administration insisted that its regressive tax cuts were so important, it was worth adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt to ensure their passage. Now, the White House is warning Congress that the United States cannot afford to add $1.6 billion to the deficit to expand health-care options for veterans.
 
In a letter (July 16), the Trump administration demanded that lawmakers fund a popular veterans’ health-care program — which allows former troops to spend public funds on private doctors and hospitals — with cuts to other parts of the budget. Democrats, and some top Senate Republicans, prefer to raise the current caps on discretionary spending instead.
(New York Magazine)

I’m pretty sure that the program referenced is the one that lets vets who live far from any VA hospitals to get VA-funded care locally instead.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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trump14A false flag attack is a covert economic, military, or terrorism attack intended to deceive the public into believing that a particular political party, group, or nation is responsible, while concealing or disguising the actual purpose and perpetrators.

 

The Nazi Party in 1930’s Germany were fond of false flag attacks as a means to gain or expand their power, or to justify suppression of the opposition, and used them often. Among the earliest and most notorious among them, the Reichstag fire in 1933 was committed by the Nazi’s and attributed to German Communists working in concert with Russian Bolsheviks.

 

The Reichstag fire was the trigger event that led to the Enabling Act of 1933, which granted to then German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, plenary powers to enact laws and policies without requiring deliberation by the legislature. For example, the granting of federal pardons by the president is a plenary power: it requires no consent by the other branches of government. The Enabling Act in turn resulted in the suspension of civil liberties and the protections of law for German citizens, in the mass arrests of Communists and Socialists, and in the summary execution of opposition political and party leaders. It was also the signal event in policies of marginalization and institutional reprisals against European Jews, which led ultimately to the Holocaust.

 

For a false flag attack to be effective, a number of predictive and confirming elements are generally present:

 

1) Repeated assertions that the nation’s economic well-being and security is under threat, usually both internally and externally, from identifiable hostile groups (e.g., the “Deep State”, illegal immigrants, Islamic Terrorists, faithless treaty partners). These assertions are generally accompanied by claims that the existing governmental and social institutions are incapable or of countering those threats and protecting the nation and its citizens.

2) Preconditioning the public using intensive propaganda to focus its attention on threat and to inculcate fear of attack. This generally includes suppression of legitimate news sources and journalists and instituting a favored, state-sponsored media.

3) Exploitation of existing internal social tensions and conflicts including economic, political, social and religious divides.

4) Discrediting of governmental and social institutions and leadership (e.g., law enforcement, the military, the courts, political parties. and media).

5) Claims and charges of conspiracy against the nation by sinister internal and external groups and individuals.

6) Claims and charges of unfair attacks on the legitimacy of a popular head-of-state or charismatic national leader by social institutions, media, and opposition leaders, among others.

7) Assurances via propagandistic, state-sponsored and sympathetic media sources that only a strongman or charismatic nationalistic leader can save the country from its enemies and prevent further attacks.

8) Demands by the strongman or charismatic nationalistic leader for extraordinary emergency powers, which may include suspension of civil liberties, suspension of political parties, mass arrests and detention of citizens, suppression/suspension of opposition media, and suspension of elections.

9) Claims and assurances that additional attacks have been thwarted or prevented due to “special vigilance” by the strongman or charismatic nationalistic leader. Special vigilance may include promoting and embracing nationalistic militias to protect the citizens and ensure order. Of course, special vigilance was only made possible by enactment of extraordinary emergency powers, which in turn results in charges of treason levied against targeted groups and individuals.

10) Initiating a Reign of Terror to destroy all remaining opposition and unaligned political power.

 

Predictive elements (1-6) of the foregoing list have already been established. Confirming elements (7-10) have yet to occur. Which means that the count-down for a false flag attack by the current charismatic nationalistic leader occupying the White House is at T-minus-Zero.

 

Do not think for a moment that Trump is incapable of a false flag attack. In response to widespread, virulent criticism of his European tour and the already infamous Surrender Summit with Vladimir Putin, President Trump has once again doubled-down on his errors-of-stupidity and thumbed his nose at his critics by inviting Putin to the White House in September.

 

That behavior is entirely in keeping with the ego-driven behavior of a malignant narcissist as previously examined by this writer in The Trump Presidency: A Clear and Present Danger (Part 1)

“A person with malignant narcissism represents a danger to others because their behaviors have the potential to destroy social groups, families, communities and nations. […] Malignant narcissists have no moral code and do not recognize the presence of a moral code in others.”

 

By inviting Putin to the White House – after the indictments of twelve Russian intelligence officers, after Helsinki, and after considering the notion of turning over American citizens to a foreign adversary for interrogation – Trump’s message to the Congress, his critics, and the country is quite clear: “I can do anything I want. You’re criticisms are meaningless to me. Your fears and misgivings are meaningless to me. Your moral codes and laws are meaningless to me. There is nothing you can do to stop me from doing ANYTHING I WANT.”

 

In fairness, he has a point. So far, both Democrat and Republican leaders have proven themselves moral cowards, utterly incapable of taking any meaningful action of any kind against an out-of-control president. Hey! There’s an Enemy at the Gate. You need to man-up and stand the line. It’s just our country that’s at stake!

 

What Trump wants, what he expects to get using the presidency as a step-stool, is the rewarding cookie jar of total, dictatorial power, so he can rob the country of its wealth in the same way that Putin and his kleptocratic kronies did to Russia. He is willing to sacrifice the security of the country and the lives of as many people as it takes to accomplish that goal. Ten-thousand lives. A hundred-thousand lives. A million lives. Ten million lives. They’re all just numbers to Trump. No magnitude of crime is too great for a man with neither moral compass nor moral code.

 

And he has a model in mind. One that he knows works.

 

As far back as 1990, Trump kept a copy of Hitler’s collected speeches My New Order by his bedside. As reported by Marie Brenner in Vanity Fair:

“Donald Trump appears to take aspects of his German background seriously. John Walter works for the Trump Organization, and when he visits Donald in his office, Ivana told a friend, he clicks his heels and says, “Heil Hitler,” possibly as a family joke.

“Last April, […] Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed. […] Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist.”

As explained by Business Insider, the import of those speeches for Trump was learning how to manipulate the public.

“Hitler was one of history’s most prolific orators, building a genocidal Nazi regime with speeches that bewitched audiences. He learned how to become a charismatic speaker, and people, for whatever reason, became enamored with him,” Professor Bruce Loebs […] told Business Insider. […] “People were most willing to follow him, because he seemed to have the right answers in a time of enormous economic upheaval.”

 

It is not only Hitler’s oratorical style that Trump has learned from and been copying, it’s also his path to power. As explained by Fintan O’Toole in The Irish Times:

“But when you’ve done all this, there is a crucial next step, usually the trickiest of all. You have to undermine moral boundaries, inure people to the acceptance of acts of extreme cruelty. […] Fascism does this by building up the sense of threat from a despised out-group. This allows the members of that group to be dehumanised. Once that has been achieved, you can gradually up the ante, working through the stages from breaking windows to extermination.”

 

Hitler’s despised out-group was, of course, the Jew. Trump’s is, without question, the Muslim. Since 2014, Radical Islamists have killed more than 7,278 people and injured more than 8,494 in 215 separate terrorist attacks in 40 countries. That’s 15,772 total casualties – men, women and children – dead and wounded in 4-1/2 years. Demonizing the Muslim will be an easy sell for Trump.

 

Given the many terrorist attacks by Radical Islamists around the world, a false flag attack attributed to Islamic Terrorists will be very easy for the public to believe. Depending on the magnitude of the false flag attack, it may even give Trump an excuse to call for extraordinary emergency powers. A coordinated dirty-bomb attack, or release of a weaponized pathogen, in a dozen metropolitan areas around the country provide but one scenario. There are a dozen others. Extraordinary emergency powers might include mass arrests, mass incarceration, seizure of the financial assets of wealthy individuals and businesses, and even the declaration of martial law. It’s also a good excuse to nationalize the Big Banks and Wall Street. After all, that’s where the money is.

 

A false flag attack doesn’t take an army: it only requires a handful of loyal soldiers. And it has the added advantage of further discrediting our law enforcement and intelligence communities (the “Deep State”), who will have failed to keep the country safe. Trump can, and will, justify firing any number of people on that basis. Then he’ll put sycophants like Congressman Devin Nunes into important positions of power and levy conspiracy charges against honorable public servants like Comey, Mueller, Rosenstein, McCabe, Boente and Strozk. Count on it.

 

A false flag attack also provides a platform for further suppression of the media and for blaming opposition political leaders of obstructionism in defending and supporting the nation’s enemies. It’s a good excuse to levy charges of treason against journalists and political leaders and throw your enemies in jail. Count on it.

 

The granting of extraordinary emergency powers would require a cowardly GOP Congress and stupidly conservative Supreme Court. Currently, Trump possesses both, at least until the mid-terms. If he loses the Congress, he knows his troubles will only multiply. The way for Trump to focus the nation’s attention away from his many crimes; the way for him to protect himself, his children and their spouses from the courts and the prisons, the way for him to protect and expand his wealth – one that will demonize the Muslim and galvanize the electorate in support of his Presidency and his party – is a false flag attack.

 

When his back is against the wall, a malignant narcissist is capable of anything. A false flag attack is well within his range of options. And rest assured that Trump is following a model he knows will work.

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lewisI suppose it’s a good thing that outlets like CNN are looking like maybe, just maybe, they’ll be perhaps a little more honest and reality-based in talking about Republican pols, incumbents and otherwise, this time around. Even “maybe, a little” would be a big improvement over 2016.
 

A Republican congressman from Minnesota has a long history of making deeply misogynistic comments on the radio, including lamenting that women can no longer be called “sluts.”
 
CNN’s KFile reviewed several months of audio from Rep. Jason Lewis on the “Jason Lewis Show,” a syndicated radio program Lewis hosted from 2009 until 2014 with the tagline “America’s Mr. Right.” In one instance, while arguing that “young single women” vote based on coverage of birth control pills, Lewis said those women were not human beings and were without brains…
 
“Well, the thing is, can we call anybody a slut? This is what begs the question. Take this woman out of it, take Rush out of it for a moment,” Lewis said in a March 2012 episode. “Does a woman now have the right to behave — and I know there’s a double standard between the way men chase women and running and running around — you know, I’m not going to get there, but you know what I’m talking about. But it used to be that women were held to a little bit of a higher standard. We required modesty from women. Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”
(CNN)

As far as his campaign, so far Lewis seems to be essentially playing a sort of prevent defense, not saying much in public and not doing anything too high-profile as a legislator. That could well change, at least as far as him running his mouth goes, if his seat continues to look like a fairly likely flip. Or perhaps he’s already just pretty much given up. It doesn’t appear to me that he likes being in Congress as much as he did his previous gigs.
 

And that was followed up on June 14th, when Congressman Lewis tweeted after his taking part in the “Can opioids save the GOP from losing the midterms?“ event.
 
Gosh, a new “Advisory Committee” ?
 
Does President Trump think he needs another “Advisory Committee” ?
 
Let us remember that President Trump already issued an executive order on March 29, 2017, establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. As such, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has begun instituting procedures aimed at monitoring and managing opioid prescription usage but Congressman Lewis wants a “Advisory Committee” to provide them guidance.
(MN Political Roundtable)

Update: CNN has released more. I do feel for the people assigned to listen to those tapes of Lewis’s show. It’s gotta be an ordeal. But they’re making a sacrifice for the greater good.
 

That same month, Lewis added the welfare state has in some ways been worse for the black community than Jim Crow, calling black people “addicted” to government programs.
 
“What the welfare state has done to the black community, a hundred years of racism could not do,” he said. “A hundred years of racism could not break it up, it could not destroy black families. Jim Crow could not do it. But what dependency has done, is has caused unwanted pregnancy, illegitimacy. It has told young black males that they are dispensable, they don’t need to hang around when mom needs support or whatever and it has destroyed — and not just black communities, but any urban community, and so what you’ve got here is now they’re addicted. Large swaths of Hispanic communities, black communities are addicted to these, these subsidies.”
(CNN)

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Berniecrats Anonymous 12-Step Program

by Invenium Viam on July 17, 2018 · 0 comments

1. We admitted we were powerless over PC – that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that an Independent Vermonter greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to Bernie as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of Hillary Democrats and other non-Bernie Democrats.
5. Admitted to Bernie, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of their moral inferiority.
6. Were entirely ready to have Our Revolution remove Boomers’ and Centrists’ defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Bernie to remove all their shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons who had harmed us and became willing to let them all make amends. Except for DWS. Not her.
9. Let such people make direct amends wherever possible, except when to do so would further injure our fragile self-esteem.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and, when other Democrats were wrong, promptly said so.
11. Sought through Instagram and Snapchat to improve our consciousness of Our Revolution, as we understood It, praying only for a Blue Wave for us and its power to carry our candidates.
12. Having had a Political Correctness Reawakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other Democrats and to force them to practice our principles in all their affairs. Still, if we lose the mid-terms, we’re all gonna go home and sulk.

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Farm Bill keeps crawling along

by Dan Burns on July 17, 2018 · 0 comments

corn“Next week” in the article means this week, now. It still seems likely that something very much like the Senate version of the bill – that is, no SNAP cuts or “work requirements”, about the same or even in a few cases slightly higher spending on conservation programs overall, etc. – is what will ultimately get through Congress. I don’t know whether Trump would sign that. My guess at this time is that he will, with little if any fuss, because he just doesn’t care about it beyond just wanting it out of the way.
 

The House could take an important step in moving farm bill talks forward next week by voting on a motion to proceed to conference — but Thursday (July 12) provided the latest indication that bad blood between House ag leaders is one of the many issues yet to be sorted out in the coming weeks.
 
House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) met Wednesday for the first time in eight weeks, according to Peterson…
 
Peterson indicated to reporters that the face-to-face got heated. “I was not easy on him, and I told him bluntly what I think, which I always do,” he said. “He didn’t like it, but I said I’m just telling what I think and I’m trying to be helpful.”
 
“We get this thing into conference next week and if people become sensible it won’t take long to do this,” Peterson said in a jab at House Republicans.
(Politico)

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trump34I happen to think there is some value in trying to get to the bottom of what motivates Trump supporters, from an objective, scientific viewpoint grounded in what we know about human psychology. Meaning, how their cognitive biases operate, and so forth. (In fact, my personal take, though with plenty of qualifications, on the deal with right-wingers in general is that when you get right down to it they truly, honestly just do not know any better.) The essay I’m blockquoting, linking, and highly recommending here kind of trashes that. But it kicks so much a** that I’m sharing it anyway.
 

You want to find good people, look for the people who are just as poor but care for others anyway, or who are under just as much economic stress but do not use it as excuse for cheating and stealing their way through it — or offering up eager praise for those that do. Good people don’t claim to have family values and then discard those values at the drop of a hat when a rich, shouting hatebag they saw on their television set tells them to ignore all that. Good people don’t soak themselves in transparent lies about immigrants or minorities, then declare everyone else to be “elites” arrayed against them in “elite”-minded conspiracy when some newspaper, somewhere, points out that those things were, in fact, cheap and tawdry lies.
 
The more we hear from Trump defenders, the more transparent it is that they are indeed, well, bad. It’s terribly rude to say, and the press cannot say it, but the rest of us can. If you still support Trump at this late date, you are a terrible human being. You should, in fact, feel bad about yourself.
 
Yes, the rest of us do indeed look down on these people. Those of us with actual family values do; those of us who care about honesty in government do; those of us who are not furious bulging-eyed racists do; those of us who believe thousands of years of scientific discoveries are worth more than the dribbling pronouncements of a street-corner charlatan do; those of us with actual religious convictions do; those of us who are actual patriots do.
(Daily Kos)

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