This is a week I really wish the new Democratic majority would really show it has a pair. I realize, they're trying to meet the Republican half-way, and without a significant majority they just don't have much choice. But with the saber-rattling over Iran, and the absolute brain-dead single-mindedness of their pursuit of a policy of escalation, in the face of a populace, a congress, and the world dead-set against it, I wonder will nothing penetrate the thick skulls of these morons?
Meanwhile a fascinating piece in the NYT about how we're contracting out vital government functions to private industry, and rather than experiencing lower costs from the private sector we see decreased competition, increased waste, increased fraud, decreased transparency, and essentially every worst nightmare of the feared corporatocracy.
So what do we have here? An incompetent administration, determined to follow a set and disastrous course of action no matter what. Congress is against them. Every military official who is free to speak their minds (it was a selection process after all to end up with our current set) opposes them. The people of America oppose them. Yet they continue? How do they have the gall? How do they have the complete and utter gall to ignore everybody and continue on a course of action which has been an unmitigated disaster?
The only answer I can think of, and based on Cheney's Larry King interview I believe the evidence is on my side, is that Bush and Cheney are insane. They think they are winning and that we are the ones who are insane. I'm wondering if we need to invoke the 25th Amendment on Bush, and then immediately again on Cheney. There is just no stopping them.
I read this article in the Houston Chronicle entitled One Third of Students in Texas Don't Graduate and I wonder, is this going to be our future? Not just about education, but with Bush in general. Here we are, about 7 years since he's been running that state, and they're still unraveling his mess of lies.
As we've blogged about previously previously the Texas educational miracle was a hoax propagated by Bush's Texas administration on the people of that state. The state implemented the usual "testing as a solution to all problems" idiocy that he's advocated nationwide, and as predicted, a huge response was seen. The problem, that anyone who is familiar with bureacracy, data collection, testing, etc. knows about, is that it's all smoke and mirrors. Nothing changes with testing, it's just a tool. It's not an educational panacea, it's like saying taking a picture of a building will make it architecturally sound.
So, yes, it appeared that Texas underwent the same "miracle" when Bush implemented this cynical policy years ago, but now look what's happening. You can only sweep the shit under the rug for so many years before the room starts to stink.
One out of three Texas students don't graduate, and more students drop out than finish high school in the state's largest cities, according to education experts.
Statewide, more than 2.5 million students have dropped out of Texas high schools in the last 20 years, and each graduating class loses about 120,000 students from freshman year to senior year, according to the San Antonio-based Intercultural Development Research Association.
The research group says more than half of students in Texas' largest cities drop out. The dropout rate among blacks, Hispanics and low-income students is about 60 percent, according to the Center for Education at Rice University.
The statewide dropout rate is about 33 percent — or 20 points higher than what the Texas Education Agency reports.
Exactly! Because when you tie performance to testing without any real effort to improve performance with money, investment infrastructure, etc., the typical response will always be to fudge the data. And they're not bad people for doing this. They're trying to protect jobs, they're trying to prevent kids from being shuffled out of their neighborhoods, they're trying to keep doing their jobs while realizing that the world has given up on these kids, and that these are just cynical political ploys to hide the dirty truth. This nation does not care about educating black people, hispanics, and anyone other than white middle-class types. We want to feel like we are, but as long as you can just effectively hide the truth, we'll ignore it.
Well you can't hide the truth forever. The fact is the miracle was a hoax. Principles were hiding drop-outs by covering up the loss of students, saying they were transfers etc. They hide poor performance by holding the poor-performing kids back a year so they don't take the test, then socially advancing them two years so they skip it. It's cynical, it's ugly, it's stupid, and it's Bush's legacy in Texas.
Now the question is, how many years after he's out of the presidency are we going to be finding things like this? How many lies (that are pretty obvious to anyone paying attention) will suddenly be "discovered" while the press and all the Republicans voting for this idiot wonder feebly how it ever happened?
First, we must balance the federal budget. We can do so without raising taxes. What we need to do is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009 -- and met that goal three years ahead of schedule. Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years. I ask you to make the same commitment. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the federal government, and balance the federal budget.
So what about this guy makes him think he's the guy for this job? And spending discipline on Washington? From Bush? The biggest spender in the history of the world? What crack is this guy smoking? Notice again he takes credit for cutting a deficit he created in half.
In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate -- they are dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You did not vote them into law. I did not sign them into law.
A Republican complaining about earmarks when it was Republican spending bills that broke every single earmarking record in our country's history? Really? The other joke is we're looking at 18 billion dollars. What did Iraq cost? 1.3 trillion dollars? This is like complaining about dropping a penny when you've just spent a thousand dollars on crack.
Five years ago, we rose above partisan differences to pass the No Child Left Behind Act -- preserving local control, raising standards in public schools, and holding those schools accountable for results. And because we acted, students are performing better in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap.
Umm, no, no and no. As we've discussed multipletimespreviously, No Child Left Behind is a cynical scam that allows for a rapid and superficial increase in test scores based upon teaching to the test, and the inevitable poor first year of testing. If you were to eliminate the first year of data on the standardized testing scam there would be no effect. They get an apparent positive effect from standardized testing by teaching to the test after a year of missing targets, and then weakening the standards. Testing is not eduction. It's a useful tool, but it is not an education unto itself. I have yet to meet a single teacher who does not view these tests with total contempt.
Tonight, I propose two new initiatives to help more Americans afford their own insurance. First, I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents. Families with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $15,000 of their income. Single Americans with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $7,500 of their income. With this reform, more than 100 million men, women, and children who are now covered by employer-provided insurance will benefit from lower tax bills.
This is the biggest fuck-you to the poor ever. Basically, the people that will benefit from this are ones that already can afford health insurance. Hey moron, the people who don't have health insurance because they can't afford it, can't magically buy it on maxed out credit cards and food stamps so they can get a magical tax deduction. This is just brain dead.
It is in our vital interest to diversify America's energy supply -- and the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power -- by even greater use of clean coal technology ... solar and wind energy ... and clean, safe nuclear power. We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol -- using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agricultural wastes.
As has been pointed out elsewhere, this is his 7th address where he's mentioned alternative energy, and we've seen 7 years of inaction on this issue. His solution? Ethanol, which currently takes more energy to produce than it provides and is essentially a subsidy for Monsanto. I'll pass. Let's get some real alternatives, or at the very least remove price controls so there's actual competition to reduce ethanol prices.
Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as that is the case, America is still a nation at war.
The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. That is why it is important to work together so our Nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. And this is why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. And we will show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.
Ahh yes, the appeal to 9/11 to justify endless war. A "generational struggle"? No thanks. We don't need another drug war, a pointless and endless waste of money that only seems to punish the wrong people while ignoring the real enemies. And I don't even need to mock his pathetic excuse for "foreign policy". It mocks itself. Never has there been a president more ineffective at waging a war or managing foreign policy. Really, has there been a worse one? At least Nixon went to China.
This speech, more than anything, proves this man is an ineffectual and increasingly irrelevant idiot, and today more than any day before, the Worst President Ever.
Some news out of the Democratic congress remains encouraging, such as the minimum wage hike, and the embarrassing veto promised by bush to prevent medicare negotiating drug prices (anti-capitalist Republicans?) My favorite part is their justification for not allowing bidding.
"Government interference impedes competition, limits access to lifesaving drugs, reduces convenience for beneficiaries and ultimately increases costs to taxpayers, beneficiaries and all American citizens alike," the administration said in a written statement.
Government interference impedes competition? You mean, when they like, ask, for competition? That's one of those sentences you read and you feel like you've gone through the looking glass.
However, there are two troubling issues. Stem cells which have sailed through the house but await a presidential veto, and critics like Krauthammer are already touting this amniotic cell breakthrough as a sign from God that Bush has always been right, and that ES cell research is fundamentally evil. You think I'm kidding? Krauthammer seems to think that ES cell research is so insidious, and so soul damning that people who study it become evil as a result.
South Korea enthusiastically embraced unrestricted stem cell research. The subsequent greatly heralded breakthroughs -- accompanied by lamentations that America was falling behind -- were eventually exposed as a swamp of deception, fraud and coercion.
Get that? Hwang Woo Suk wasn't a dishonest scientist who made up results for personal gain, he was a victim of evil ES cell research! The poor poor man. Anyway, we could go on forever in all the ways Krauthammer is an asshole, but that's besides the point.
The point is, Giving Up is really only an ideal philosophy when an election is nearby that allows Republican idiocy and incompetence to be used for gain. Now we have real power, control of the House and Senate, and it would be nice to get things done. While it still will be embarrassing for the Republicans to admit that they fought research funding that 70% of Americans support, or a minimum wage increase that 70% of Americans support, or competition for prescription drug prices which 80% of Americans support, we'd have to wait two years to really get any real benefit from these terrible, terrible political decisions by these assholes.
Between that and the confusion directed towards the response to the president's surge and I think the Democrats are already starting to lose their way. What about having 70-80% of Americans agree with your policies has made this difficult to understand? 80% of people disagree with Bush on Iraq, you've got the support of the people Dems, why aren't you kicking ass and taking names?
Revoke the Authorization, kill funding for Iraq, pass ES cell legislation and if Republicans won't join you in supporting legislation that 80% of Americans want? Kick them out of committees, make them defunct, make them what you were for 12 years.
None of this fair play crap, I want to see some action.
Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, expressed doubt that the United States could coax Iran into helping stabilize Iraq as part of a larger diplomatic initiative in the Middle East.
"I'm skeptical that it's realistic to think that Iran wants to help the United States succeed in Iraq," Lieberman said.
What did we say? LiebesBush is an underminer. A Republican mole in the Democratic party. Because, what of course was Bush's main objection to the ISG's recommendations? Why the same as LiebesBush's of course.
And he repeated his refusal to talk with Iran and Syria unless Tehran suspends its uranium-enrichment program, Damascus stops interfering in Lebanon and both drop their support for terrorist groups.
What is it about diplomacy that these people don't get? Yes, Syria and Iran are run by assholes who do things we don't like. The beginning of diplomacy is realizing that Syria and Iran could make the identical statement about the USA.
Just because you don't agree with your enemies doesn't mean you shouldn't talk with them, find dialogue, and common ground. Bush doesn't get diplomacy. It doesn't mean telling other countries they have to do everything we say, then we'll deign to talk to them. Diplomacy is about talking to your enemies without strangling them, and hopefully making them not your enemies one day.
Just 21 percent approve of President Bush's handling of the war, the lowest number he's ever received, and an 8-point drop from just a month ago.
Opposition to the war is now taking on historic proportions, with 62 percent saying it was "a mistake" to send U.S. troops to Iraq - slightly more than told a Gallup Poll in 1973 that it was a mistake to send U.S. forces to Vietnam.
Seventy-one percent say the war is going badly, including 39 percent who believe the war is going very badly. Just 25 percent say it's going well. The negative assessment of the war was shared by a majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
Sixty percent think that Iraq will never become a stable democracy - the highest number ever - while 85 percent now characterize the situation there as a civil war.
Well, Bush won't admit Iraq is a civil war, but sadly reality has a liberal bias. Everyone else seems to be able to smell the shit sandwich and he's looking more and more like the Worst President Ever.