Most Contenious Award

Can you name the most contentious issue in American politics?

Here’s a hint. It’s being fought at the federal, state and local levels. And it doesn’t go away. The struggle is persistent, ongoing, unending.

Here is a second hint. The issue is not gay marriage, or gun control, or police brutality and or immigration. Those issues are either settled, largely settled, isolated or completely out of the control of local and state governments.

Here is a third hint. The issue divides Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. But it is especially divisive among Democrats and among people who call themselves “liberal.”

Give up?

The most divisive issue in American politics is: What should we do about the education of children from low income families?

To appreciate how divisive the issue is among Democrats consider that Bernie Sanders can’t talk for two minutes without bringing up the issue of inequality. But when it comes to allowing poor children to escape bad schools and go to better ones he is virtually silent. He opposes public money going to private schools and has little encouraging to say about public school choice. Yet the state he represents (Vermont) has the oldest and most extensive system of school choice found anywhere in the country.

 

Hillary Clinton’s unwillingness to vigorously stand up for the kids is costing her big campaign contributions. Although she has supported student testing and charter schools in the past, her recent cozying up to the teachers unions is making wealthy school reform Democrats close their checkbooks to her presidential campaign.

To make matters more complex, parents are becoming more of a factor. In a recent election in Los Angeles pro-reform Latino parents managed to prevail against the teachers unions and white voters in affluent suburbs in what USA Today called “the priciest and most bitter school board race in history.”

The Obama administration has been completely inconsistent. Under Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the administration tied state grants and waivers from onerous federal regulations to support for charter schools and the linking of teacher pay to student test scores. His replacement, John King, is a charter school co-founder who, as New York’s education chief, pursued reforms designed to root out bad teachers.

Yet the administration’s Justice Department fought a losing battle in court in an effort to stop Louisiana’s new state-wide voucher program. And the administration joined with Nancy Pelosi and other congressional Democrats in an ongoing struggle to end Washington DC’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform explains the issue this way:

Democrats oppose this program not because it is failing but because it is succeeding. They fear that as these choice programs succeed, poor and minority moms and dads are going to figure out the Democrats are selling their kids out to the teachers unions.

To appreciate what’s at stake, consider two Harlem schools that operate side by side in the same building: Wadleigh Secondary School (a public school) and Harlem West (a charter school). At both schools 95 percent of the students and black and Hispanic and most are from poverty level families. As one of the teachers describes it:

 

The students … eat in the same cafeteria, exercise in the same gym and enjoy recess in the same courtyard. They also live on the same blocks and face many of the same challenges.

Yet not one of the public school students met state standards in math (a typical question: What is 15% of 60?) or English, while the passing rates at the charter school were 96 and 75 percent, respectively. The city wide scores, by the way, were 35 and 30 percent, despite New York City average spending of $20,331 per pupil.

So, should there be more Harlem Wests and fewer Wadleighs?

Hard to believe, but that is currently the most contentious political issue in New York City and maybe in the whole of New York state.

Also hard to believe, the CNN panel asked not one question about the public schools in last Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate.

The Democrats don’t actually want to solve the problem, after all, they need a perpetual cycle of “victims” and “victimization” to make their Agenda Machine work and the Teacher’s Union Money to grease it with.

 

Sowell Helpers

It is not easy to demonize people who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money to help educate poor children. But some members of the education establishment are taking a shot at it.

The Walton Family Foundation — created by the people who created Walmart — has given more than $300 million to charter schools, voucher programs and other educational enterprises concerned with the education of poor and minority students across the country.

The Walton Family Foundation gave more than $58 million to the KIPP schools, which have had spectacular success in raising the test scores of children in ghettoes where the other children are far behind in academic performance.

D.C. Prep, in Washington, whose students are mostly poor and black, has also received grants from the Walton Family Foundation. Its test scores likewise exceed those of traditional neighborhood schools, as well as the test scores of other local charter schools. Other wealthy people across the country have been doing similar things for years, including high-tech tycoons like Bill Gates and Michael Dell. It is one of the great untold stories of a unique pattern of philanthropy that makes America truly exceptional.

Yet these philanthropists have been attacked by the teachers’ unions and by others in the education establishment, including academics.

It was painful to watch a well-known historian of education on a TV talk show recently, denouncing people from “Wall Street” who have promoted alternatives to the failing public schools. Apparently, in some circles, you can just say the words “Wall Street” and that proves that something evil is being done.

You can listen in vain for any concrete evidence that these philanthropic efforts to help educate poor children are creating harm.

Instead, you get statements like that from the head of the American Federation of Teachers, saying, “they’re trying to create an alternative system and destabilize what has been the anchor of American democracy.”

If government-monopoly schools, with iron-clad tenure for incompetent teachers, have been an anchor, they have been an anchor around the necks of American students, who consistently score lower on international tests than students from countries that spend half as much money per student, and yet have students who outperform our youngsters, year after year.

It is not written in the stars that youngsters in ghetto schools have to score miles behind everybody else. Data from the 1940s show test scores in Harlem schools comparable to test scores in white working class schools on New York’s lower east side. (See “Teachers College Record,” Fall 1981, pages 40-41.)

Even today, particular minority schools — sometimes charter schools, sometimes Catholic schools, and sometimes even regular public schools headed by principals who defy the prevailing educational dogmas — turn out black students who can compete with other students academically.

Teachers’ unions and others who defend the public school establishment decry competing schools, on grounds that they are somehow undermining the public schools.

One of the claims is that these alternative schools drain money from the public schools. But expenditures per pupil in the public schools have risen during the era of the spread of alternative schools.

Of course, if there were no alternative schools, the total amount of money going to the public school system might have increased more. But this would not necessarily produce more money per student, since charter schools typically do not get as much money per student as the public schools get.

Then there is the claim that alternative schools “skim the cream” of the students, and that this explains why their test results are better. But many, if not most, charter schools select among their applicants through a lottery.

Lots of things need to be done by lots of people to improve our education system, especially for schools in minority neighborhoods. Demonizing those who are trying to help is not one of them.

But the Agenda is The Agenda!

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

His Brain was for it before his mouth was against it!…

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

 

For the Children

Thomas Sowell: If anyone wanted to pick a time and place where the political left’s avowed concern for minorities was definitively exposed as a fraud, it would be now — and the place would be New York City, where far left Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched an attack on charter schools, cutting their funding, among other things.

These schools have given thousands of low-income minority children their only shot at a decent education, which often means their only shot at a decent life. Last year 82% of the students at a charter school called Success Academy passed citywide mathematics exams, compared to 30% of the students in the city as a whole.

Why would anybody who has any concern at all about minority young people — or even common decency — want to destroy what progress has already been made?

One big reason, of course, is the teachers’ union, one of de Blasio’s biggest supporters.

But it may be more than that. For many of the true believers on the left, their ideology overrides any concern about the actual fate of flesh-and-blood human beings.

Something similar happened on the West Coast last year. The American Indian Model Schools in Oakland have been ranked among the top schools in the nation, based on their students’ test scores.

This is, again, a special achievement for minority students who need all the help they can get.

But, last spring, the California State Board of Education announced plans to shut this school down!

Why? The excuse given was that there had been suspicious financial dealings by the former — repeat, former — head of the institution. If this was the real reason, then all they had to do was indict the former head and let a court decide if he was guilty or innocent.

There was no reason to make anyone else suffer, much less the students. But the education establishment’s decision was to refuse to let the school open last fall. Fortunately a court stopped this hasty shutdown.

These are not just isolated local incidents. The Obama administration has cut spending for charter schools in the District of Columbia and its Justice Department has intervened to try to stop the state of Louisiana from expanding its charter schools.

Why such hostility to schools that have succeeded in educating minority students, where so many others have failed?

Some of the opposition to charter schools has been sheer crass politics. The teachers’ unions see charter schools as a threat to their members’ jobs, and politicians respond to the money and the votes that teachers’ unions can provide.

The net result is that public schools are often run as if their main function is to provide jobs to teachers. Whether the children get a decent education is secondary, at best.

In various parts of the country, educators who have succeeded in raising the educational level of minority children to the national average — or above — have faced hostility, harassment or have even been driven out of their schools.

Not all charter schools are successful, of course, but the ones that are completely undermine the excuses for failure in the public school system as a whole. That is why teachers’ unions hate them, as a threat not only to their members’ jobs but a threat to the whole range of frauds and fetishes in the educational system.

The autonomy of charter schools is also a threat to the powers that be, who want to impose their own vision on the schools, regardless of what the parents want.

Attorney General Eric Holder wants to impose his own notion of racial balance in the schools, while many black parents want their children to learn, regardless of whether they are seated next to a white child or a black child.

There have been all-black schools whose students met or exceeded national norms in education, whether in Louisiana, California or other places around the country. But Holder, like de Blasio, put his ideology above the education — and the future life — of minority students.

Charter schools take power from politicians and bureaucrats, letting parents decide where their children will go to school. That is obviously offensive to those on the left, who think that our betters should be making our decisions for us.

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

The Path

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

Facing a billion-dollar budget shortfall, the Chicago Public Schools’ plan to close 54 schools, mostly in black and low-income neighborhoods, forces many students to cross gang boundaries to get a mediocre education.

Shuffling children around like so many deck chairs on a sinking ship, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced the closings as a cost-cutting move, with CPS officials arguing that money being spent to keep underutilized schools open could be better used to educate students elsewhere as the district deals with a $1 billion budget deficit.

About 30,000 students will be affected by the plan, with about half that number moving into the remaining schools. CPS claimed the plan could “save the district $560 million over 10 years in capital costs and an additional $43 million per year in operating costs.”

That’s about 100 million a year. The debt is a billion a year. Fascinating liberal math as always…

Yet the suddenly cost-conscious CPS caved to the Chicago Teachers Union’s demands in a recent strike.

John Tillman of the Illinois Policy Institute notes Chicago’s unemployment rate is just under 11% and that the average Chicagoan makes just $30,203 compared to the average teacher’s salary of $71,000, even before benefits are included.

So your average teacher makes MORE THAN twice what the average worker makes. Gee, are they “the rich”? 🙂

And unlike parents who go to work each day to be judged on their productivity fearing each day might be their last, dismissing a bad teacher is harder than spinning straw into gold.

The Associated Press notes, “many of the schools identified for closure are in high-crime areas where gang violence contributed to a marked increase in Chicago’s homicide rate last year.” These schools are in “overwhelmingly black and in low-income neighborhoods.”

Wait a minute. Weren’t cold-hearted budget-cutting Republicans supposed to be the mortal enemies of the poor, minorities and children? How could this be happening in the heart of liberal progressivism, President Obama’s hometown run by his former White House chief of staff, Mayor Rahm Emanuel?

This is not the hope and change we were promised, lament local residents, who say the planned closings smack of racism. “I don’t see any Caucasians being moved, bussed or murdered in the streets as they travel along gang lines, or stand on the steps of a CPS school,” said activist Wendy Matil Pearson as opponents of the school closing plans protested outside a school in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.

Such complaints and concerns are well-founded.

Recently Janay McFarlane, 18, was killed just hours after her younger sister was among a group of teens who were onstage as President Barack Obama gave a speech in Chicago on gun violence. Destini McFarlane, 14, sat just feet away as the president spoke of a similar murder of Hadiya Pendleton.

Chicago’s murder rate of 15.65 per 100,000 people looks nothing like the American 4.2, the Midwest’s 4.5 or Illinois’ 5.6 murder rates, despite the strictest gun regulations in the country. Up to 80% of Chicago’s murders and shootings are gang-related, according to police. By one estimate, the city has 68,000 gang members, four times the number of cops.

Yet Mayor Emanuel preaches even stricter gun control over gang control, including “universal” background checks to which Chicago gangs won’t submit. He opposes Illinois’ imminent concealed carry law, which would allow Chicago parents to protect themselves and their children from such thugs.

Emanuel also opposes genuine school choice even while saying he doesn’t want Chicago kids trapped in failing and dangerous schools.

He opposes giving parents a voucher allowing their children to escape such schools and the gang violence that often surrounds them.

Such are the fruits of liberal progressivism in Chicago.

Budgets are balanced on the backs of poor and minority children in a town in which gangs run rampant while its mayor puts the blame on inanimate objects called guns. Some in Chicago are calling it racism.

Or how about incompetence,greed, and political failure. All the hallmarks of a liberal 🙂
Michael Ramirez Cartoon
Immigration reform depends on a secure border. Nearly every lawmaker pushing reform, and certainly every Republican, stresses that the border must be proved secure before millions of currently illegal immigrants can be placed on a path to citizenship.But how do you measure border security? For years, the government estimated the number of miles of the border that were under “operational control” and came up with various ways to define what that meant.

Then the Department of Homeland Security threw out the concept of operational control, which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called “archaic.” The administration promised to create something called the Border Condition Index, or BCI, which would be a “holistic” (and a far better) measure of border security.

Time passed, with no BCI. “Nearly three years later, the department has not produced this measure, so at this hearing, we will be asking for a status of the BCI, what measures it will take into account and when it might be ready,” subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Candice Miller, a Republican, said before Wednesday’s testimony. Getting BCI up and running is particularly important now, Miller added, because comprehensive immigration reform cannot happen without a reliable way to assess border security.

So imagine everyone’s surprise when Mark Borkowski, a top Homeland Security technology official, told Miller that not only was BCI not ready, but that it won’t measure border security and was never meant to.

“I don’t believe that we intend, at least at this point, that the BCI would be a tool for the measurement that you’re suggesting,” Borkowski told Miller. “The BCI is part of a set of information that advises us on where we are and, most importantly, what the trends are … It is not our intent, at least not immediately, that it would be the measure you are talking about.”

Miller appeared stunned and practically begged Borkowski, along with two other Homeland Security officials who were testifying, to tell her what she wanted to hear. “I’m just trying to let this all digest” she said. “We’re sort of sitting here, as a Congress … At what point will you be able to give us something?”

She never got an answer.

Even Democrats who oppose tying immigration reform to border security realized they were being played. “I would say to the department, you’ve got to get in the game,” said a frustrated-sounding Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. “At some point, we’re going to have to have DHS work with us more concretely about the confidence of the security of the border.”

Rep. Ron Barber, the Democrat who replaced Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, noted, “The Border Patrol rolled out last May a new strategy that didn’t have goals, didn’t have metrics, didn’t have a process for evaluation”. That’s not really a plan, is it?

Miller, the chairwoman, reminded the officials that the Department of Homeland Security could end up being the “stumbling block” to immigration reform. But the hearing ended with no hint that any answers might come soon.

A related issue: As reform supporters often point out, a large number of illegal immigrants — more than 40 percent — did not cross the border illegally. Rather, they came legally, with a visa, and then never left. Members of the Senate “Gang of Eight” are promising tough new measures to deal with so-called visa overstays.

But like the case of border security, Congress has passed law after law, going back to 1996, requiring the executive branch to crack down on overstays. The promised enforcement has never happened.

Among the measures: The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996; the Immigration and Naturalization Service Data Management Improvement Act of 2000; the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001; the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002; and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. All directed the executive branch to stop visa overstays, but the problem remains.

A look at the recent House hearing, as well as at the long-standing overstay problem, highlights a major obstacle to comprehensive immigration reform. The executive branch has the authority to enforce border and visa security. But these days, it appears the executive branch, particularly the Department of Homeland Security, doesn’t want to do the job.

Why would passing a new comprehensive immigration reform measure change that? (Townhall)

It won’t. But THE AGENDA IS THE AGENDA and the Agenda says they must do have Amnesty for all those new Democrats.

ALSO…

Fifteen members of Congress have written a letter to the Department of Homeland Security demanding to know why the federal agency is buying so many rounds of ammunition. We’d like to know too.

A good portion of the 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition are being purchased by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal government’s second-largest criminal investigative agency. Yes that’s the same ICE that is releasing detained criminal illegal aliens onto our streets because of sequestration cuts.

Jonathan Lasher, the Social Security Administration’s assistant inspector general for external relations, explained the purchase of 174,000 hollow-point bullets by saying they were for the Social Security inspector general’s office, which has about 295 agents who investigate Social Security fraud and other crimes.

When they say they’re cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse, they apparently mean it.

However, as former Marine Richard Mason told reporters with WHPTV News in Pennsylvania recently, hollow-point bullets (which make up the majority of the DHS purchases) are not used for training because they are more expensive than standard firing range rounds .

“We never trained with hollow points, we didn’t even see hollow points my entire 4-1/2 years in the Marine Corps,” Mason said.

LaMalfa offers one theory that’s less sinister than some: The federal government is simply trying to corner the market on ammo and restrict what’s available to the American people as part of its gun control efforts.

“The extraordinary level of ammunition purchases made by Homeland Security seems to have, in states such as my own, created an extreme shortage of ammunition to the point where many gun owners are unable to purchase any,” LaMalfa wrote in the letter.

While lower-level officials talk to the press, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano apparently doesn’t want to tell Congress herself the reasons for these purchases.

“They have no answer for that question. They refuse answer that,” Congressman Timothy Huelskamp (R-Kan.) told reporters recently, adding, “They refuse to let us know what is going on, so I don’t really have an answer for that. Multiple members of Congress are asking those questions.”

Homeland Security has acquired a number of Mine Resistant Armored Protection (MRAP) vehicles which have been retrofitted for possible service on the streets of the U.S. They were formerly used for counterinsurgency in Iraq. These vehicles are specifically designed to resist mines and ambush attacks.

As we noted in a recent editorial, DHS is also seeking to acquire 7,000 5.56-by-45-millimeter NATO “personal defense weapons” — also known as “assault weapons” when owned by civilians.

If there are plausible explanations for all this, some congressmen would like to hear them.

Maybe DHS can answer Congress’ questions in a series of bullet points. (IBD)

🙂

Or maybe their Mexican Drug Cartel buddies will know…
Political Cartoons by Glenn Foden
Political Cartoons by Henry Payne
Political Cartoons by Ken Catalino

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

The Fast and The Furious

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

Two months after the Department of Labor launched a special program to assist and protect illegal immigrants in the U.S. the Obama cabinet official who heads the agency is personally encouraging undocumented workers to report employers that don’t pay them fairly.

In a Spanish-language public service announcement, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis assures that “every worker in America has a right to be paid fairly, whether documented or not.” Illegal aliens who are not getting fair wages are encouraged to call a new hotline set up by the agency on a new “Podemos Ayudar” (We Can Help) web page designed to administer worker protection laws and ensure that employees are properly paid “regardless of immigration status.”

In the short video, also posted in English, Solis tells illegal immigrants that it’s a “serious problem” when workers in this country are not paid fairly and that all workers have the right to receive their salary regardless of immigration status. She encourages those who are not to call the new hotline and assures it’s free and confidential. “Podemos ayudar,” (we can help), Solis guarantees at the end of the brief segment.

The Labor Secretary’s new message is part of a campaign launched a few months ago to help illegal immigrant workers in the U.S., who she refers to as “vulnerable” and “underpaid.” At least 1,000 new field investigators have been deployed to reach out to Latino laborers in areas with large numbers of illegal alien employees and the agency will focus on enforcing labor and wage laws in industries that typically hire lots of illegal aliens without reporting anyone to federal immigration authorities.

For a government agency to protect law breakers in this fashion may seem unbelievable but not if you consider the source. A Former California congresswoman, Solis has close ties to the influential La Raza movement that advocates open borders and rights for illegal immigrants. She made the protection of undocumented workers a major priority upon being named Labor Secretary, assuring illegal aliens that “if you work in this country, you are protected by our laws.” (JW)

Graduation of Debt

 The median starting salary for students graduating from four-year colleges in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000, down from $30,000 for those who entered the work force in 2006 to 2008, according to a study released on Wednesday by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. That is a decline of 10 percent, even before taking inflation into account.

Of course, these are the lucky ones — the graduates who found a job. Among the members of the class of 2010, just 56 percent had held at least one job by this spring, when the survey was conducted. That compares with 90 percent of graduates from the classes of 2006 and 2007. (Some have gone for further education or opted out of the labor force, while many are still pounding the pavement.)

So 4 in 10 graduates had no job at all – not even one that didn’t use their putative skills for which they spent the money.

But let’s assume you do have a job. The median income was $27,000. What if you have $60,000 in student loans?

On a 10 year amortization schedule and a 5% blended interest rate the payment is $633.75. Every month. Your gross income is $2,250/month. More than 25% of your gross income, before taxes, is consumed by student loan payments.

But don’t worry, the Liberals will be right there to tell them it’s the Rich People’s fault! And Class Warfare is the only answer! (that is just re-enforcing it after 16 years of liberal socialism in schools to begin with). So, the answer is to vote for Democrats so they can redistribute the wealth to you!

The new American Work Ethic! 😦

Your imputed income (that is, the effective purchasing power of your “degree” when you subtract out the debt service) is $19,395, again before taxes. But you’re in a higher tax bracket than the person who simply earns $19,395 – which, I will remind you, is $9.70/hour.

Worse, your debt cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. A high school graduate who takes on debt like this and gets in trouble can file a Chapter 7 (being well under the median household income) and shed it. You, as a graduate, cannot. You’re stuck with it, and if you lose your job you’re instantly hosed, as that $60,000 will have penalties and interest immediately added to it. (KFYI)

Isn’t Obamanomics fun!! The Labor Department is more worried about illegal aliens than the legal ones! And even if you get a college degree you’ll be in so much you’ll likely drown. Just like the US Budget Deficit! 🙂

But fear not, it’s Rich people and Corporate America’s Fault!!  (according to the Democrats).

But hey, at least ObamaCare guarantees that you can suck off your parents’ health insurance until your 26! And as reported earlier 1/2 the jobs created in a recent month were from McDonalds. So have it Obama’s Way. 🙂

Sanctuary

Last month San Francisco’s Michael Hennessey, California’s longest-serving sheriff, announced that he would ignore federal detainer orders on illegal immigrants arrested for low-level crimes such as shoplifting, disorderly conduct or public drunkenness. Under Secure Communities, arrestees identified as undocumented are held by local jails until Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials transfer them.

But the arrangement violates San Francisco’s longtime sanctuary law, which forbids public employees and police from asking anyone about their immigration status. The famously liberal city by the bay also offers illegal aliens official government identification cards and all sorts of taxpayer-financed public benefits.

Hennessy, who is an elected official, claims that all residents are equal and stresses that San Francisco is proud of its diversity and values the contributions of immigrants. “San Francisco has always been a city of immigrants,” Hennessey said, adding that all civic leaders work hard to serve all residents regardless of immigration status.

Notably absent in the rhetoric were cases in which violent criminals were protected by the sanctuary policies. For instance a few years ago a Salvadoran gang member with two felony convictions murdered a father and his two sons because he never got turned over to federal authorities for removal.

Judicial Watch obtained California public records that revealed San Francisco authorities knew the triple murderer (Edwin Ramos) was an illegal immigrant and active member of a deadly street gang known as MS-13. The records also show that Ramos had been previously arrested on gang-related and weapons charges yet was released under the county’s sanctuary policies.

The Fast & Furious

Oh, and then there’s “Fast and Furious” a brilliant strategy by Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

Let’s force gun dealers in Arizona to sell thousands of semi-automatic firearms to straw purchasers (those who buy guns for someone who can’t do so legally) — and then just watched as the guns went across the border, into the hands of Mexican drug cartels members so we can trace the guns in Mexico to the “bigger fish”.

Only, they couldn’t actually trace them! Or as it turned out, find them!

PHOENIX – ATF Field Agents in Phoenix were told that they were the first Southwest Border Group to be pursuing operation Fast and Furious and that it was the “pinnacle of U.S. law enforcement techniques.”

A day after a fiery Capitol Hill hearing on the controversial program that allegedly let guns “walk” across the border, it is becoming more apparent that the strategy was ineffective and dangerous. So much so that when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and more than a dozen others were shot in Tucson, panic spread within the entire Phoenix Field Division of  ATF.

“There was concern from the chain of command that the gun was hopefully not a fast and furious gun,” Special Agent Peter Forcelli testified at a House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.

“Everytime there’s a shooting whether it was Mrs. Giffords or anybody, anytime there was a shooting in the general Phoenix area or even Arizona, we’re fearful that it might be one of these firearms,” said Special Agent Olindo Casa.

The ATF was tracking a straw buyer who purchased a truckload of assault weapons in January 2010 but did not stop him.

In December two of those guns were recovered at the murder scene of Border Agent Brian Terry in Rio Rico, Arizona.

Terry’s mother, Josephine Terry, testified at Wednesday’s hearing but is now back home in Michigan.

Reached by phone she told 3TV she was pleased with how the hearing progressed. “I felt like everyone was on Brian’s side 100 percent,” said Terry.

Members of Congress vow to continue to probe the ATF operation and find out who at the highest level sanctioned the program. (KTVK-Phx)

ATF agents–turned–whistleblowers John Dodson and Olindo James Casa testified that they begged to seize the firearms, which included .50-caliber sniper rifles, once the straw purchasers handed them off. “My supervisors directed me and my colleagues not to make any stop or arrest, but rather to keep the straw purchaser under surveillance while allowing the guns to walk,” he said.

Casa also said that “on several occasions, I personally requested to interdict or seize firearms, but I was always ordered to stand down and not to seize the firearms.”

So the guns were just allowed to slip across the border. All the ATF has is the firearms’ serial numbers. They weren’t even working with Mexican authorities. As a result, Agent Dodson said, “We knew the next time we’d see the guns would be at crime scenes. And not [the scene of] the first crime these guns were used in, but at the last.”

When asked how he thought sending guns into Mexico could lead to busts of drug cartels, Agent Dodson said, “I have never heard an explanation from anyone involved in Operation Fast and Furious that I believe would justify what we did.”

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R., Iowa) testified that “the president said he didn’t authorize it and that the attorney general didn’t authorize [Fast and Furious]. They have both admitted that a ‘serious mistake’ may have been made. There are a lot of questions, and a lot of investigating to do. But one thing has become clear already: This was no mistake. It was a conscious decision by senior officials. It was written down. It was briefed up to Washington, D.C.” (NRO)

And if it leader to, say Eric Holder or Big Sis or Obama himself will they be held responsible for this stupidity.

Hell NO!

Late in the hearing, Josephine Terry — the mother of Brian Terry — was asked if there is anything she would like to say to whoever approved Operation Fast and Furious. After taking a moment to regain her composure, she said, “I don’t know what I would say to them, but I would like to know what they would say to me.”

Hope and Change?

Do you want fries with that?

Win The Future! 🙂

P.s. “Chocolate milk is soda in drag,” said Ann Cooper, director of nutrition services for the Boulder Valley School District in Louisville, Colo., which has banned flavored milk. “It works as a treat in homes, but it doesn’t belong in schools.” (NBC)

Oh then there’s this gem:

A “Labor Studies Curriculum for Elementary Schools,” entitled “The Yummy Pizza Company,” takes up to 20 classroom hours over a two-week period. Important concepts in the 10 lessons, such as the value of work and money management, are critical components, but are quickly overshadowed by the fact that 40% of the curriculum is about forming Pizza Makers Union Local 18. That’s right – the program is focused on teaching kids to unionize.

I don’t suppose this creative curriculum has anything do to with current issues, like collective bargaining privileges for public employees. Teachers wouldn’t be so blatant as to involve young children in their political issues, would they? (townhall.com)

P.p.s. Georgia lawmakers passed an immigration bill similar to Arizona’s SB 1070. The legislation allows local law enforcement to inquire about immigration status after an individual commits a crime. The law was passed in order to deal with the mounting illegal immigration problem costing the state billions of dollars each year. Now, Mexico, along with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru, are joining civil liberties groups in their efforts to sue the American state.

Mexico and 10 other countries have filed amicus briefs in a lawsuit that asks a judge to declare Georgia’s new immigration law unconstitutional and to block it from being enforced.

Yep, foreign countries are now lecturing Americans about what is and is not Constitutional with the backing of groups like the ACLU and the SEIU. (Townhall.com)

America What a Country! 🙂

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler

The Secret Pork

Then Speaker of The House Pelosi: “[W]e have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

Now that someone is opening this can of compressed worms, the stink bugs are escaping too.

Investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee have discovered that a little-known provision in the national health care law has allowed the federal government to pay nearly $2 billion to unions, state public employee systems, and big corporations to subsidize health coverage costs for early retirees.  At the current rate of payment, the $5 billion appropriated for the program could be exhausted well before it is set to expire.

It’s a waiver slush fund BUILT INTO the Law. Gee, now that’s confidence in your legislation.

Unless, of course, the ultimate goal was not “to insure everyone”. 🙂

The discovery came on the eve of an oversight hearing focused on the workings of an obscure agency known as CCIO — the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.  CCIO, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, oversees the implementation of Section 1102 of the Affordable Care Act, which created something called the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.  The legislation called for the program to spend a total of $5 billion, beginning in June 2010 — shortly after Obamacare was passed — and ending on January 1, 2014, as the system of national health care exchanges was scheduled to go into effect.

The idea was to subsidize unions, states, and companies that had made commitments to provide health insurance for workers who retired early —  between the ages of 55 and 64, before they were eligible for Medicare. According to a new report prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services, “People in the early retiree age group…often face difficulties obtaining insurance in the individual market because of age or chronic conditions that make coverage unaffordable or inaccessible.”  As a result, fewer and fewer organizations have been offering coverage to early retirees; the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program was designed to subsidize such coverage until the creation of Obamacare’s health-care exchanges.

The program began making payouts on June 1, 2010.  Between that date and the end of 2010, it paid out about $535 million dollars.  But according to the new report, the rate of spending has since increased dramatically, to about $1.3 billion just for the first two and a half months of this year. At that rate, it could burn through the entire $5 billion appropriation as early as 2012.

Where is the money going?  According to the new report, the biggest single recipient of an early-retiree bailout is the United Auto Workers, which has so far received $206,798,086.  Other big recipients include AT&T, which received $140,022,949, and Verizon, which received $91,702,538.  General Electric, in the news recently for not paying any U.S. taxes last year, received $36,607,818.  General Motors, recipient of a massive government bailout, received $19,002,669.

The program also paid large sums of money to state governments.  The Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio received $70,557,764; the Teacher Retirement System of Texas received $68,074,118; the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, received $57,834,267; the Georgia Department of Community Health received $57,936,127; and the state of New York received $47,869,044.  Other states received lesser but still substantial sums.

But payments to individual states were dwarfed by the payout to the auto workers union, which received more than the states of New York, California, and Texas combined.  Other unions also received government funds, including the United Food and Commercial Workers, the United Mine Workers, and the Teamsters.

And Unions make the the majority of people getting the over 1,000 waivers from ObamaCare.

The UAW, which ended up with a majority share of Chrysler (and much of GM) stock after it went bankrupt – they were paid before bond and shareholders – made out like bandits but The Democrats felt the need to pork them anyhow.

But don’t worry, there’s nothing corrupt going on, that dead fish smell is just your imagination. 😦

Republican investigators count the early-retiree program among those that would never have become law had Democrats allowed more scrutiny of Obamacare at the time it was pushed through the House and Senate.  Since then, Republicans have kept an eye on the program but were not able to pry any information out of the administration until after the GOP won control of the House last November.  Now, finally, they are learning what’s going on.

It comes back to the question: If this law was so fantastic, why all the waivers, cons,pork, and Machiavellian maneuvers to avoid it for your political apparatchiks??

Hmm…. Maybe they they knew that Obamacare, the epitome of socialism, and the redistribution of wealth, does not and cannot work.  It never has and it never will.  This is why they cheat the system.

But since they already have a sense of “entitlement” to everyone else’s money and craving for power that is insatiable I suppose we should expect nothing less.

Now that’s “Winning the Future”. 🙂

“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”–George Orwell

Groupthink

I found this funny: “New Tone”– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY5T1Pdiols

Funniest Editorial Cartoon in Years:

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

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Crimethink is the Newspeak word for thoughtcrime (thoughts that are unorthodox, or are outside the official government platform), as well as the verb meaning “to commit thoughtcrime”. Goodthink, which is approved by the Party, is the opposite of crimethink.

Groupthink is a type of thought within a deeply cohesive in-group whose members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas.

To make groupthink testable, Irving Janis devised eight symptoms indicative of groupthink (1977).

  1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
  2. Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.
  3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
  4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, impotent, or stupid.
  5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty”.
  6. Self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
  7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
  8. Mind guards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

The 2009 law that requires Wisconsin teachers to teach labor union and collective bargaining history to the state’s kids is seen by union bosses in the state as a means to promote their cause, frame labor’s message in a favorable light and increase membership.

Political propaganda as “education”, gee Liberals never do that!!! 😦

Self-serving Ideology as “education”, Liberals never do that! 😦

I’m sure it will be “fair” and “balanced”. 😦

When The Daily Caller reported that the state passed such a law in December 2009, it wasn’t clear that union organizers planned to utilize it to further their agenda. Newly uncovered information from an April 2010 conference, the Wisconsin Labor History Society, a pro-union group that pushed the new law through the all-Democrat state government in 2009, shows the state’s labor organizers and union bosses do indeed plan to use the controversial new law as a propaganda tool.

“I believe we are in the midst of an irrepressible labor conflict that has pitted the haves versus the have-nots,” said University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, history professor Andrew Kersten at the conference. “As Warren Buffett has said recently, ‘There is a class war, alright, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s waging it, and we’re winning.’ It’s not merely the money or the political power they crave, they seek to transform the way we think and act on a daily basis.”

At the conference meant to help teachers prepare new curricula to comply with the new AB 172 law, Kersten went on to say that teaching union history and “the struggles of working men and women and of unionists is vital to maintaining a healthy democracy.” In his speech, Kersten also attacked President Barack Obama for not focusing on labor unions in his 2010 State of the Union address, for not getting card-check legislation passed and for failing to get controversial former union lawyer Craig Becker appointed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The history professor, who was supposed to be helping teachers prepare new classroom materials, also took a shot at then newly elected Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican, for being the deciding vote against Becker on the NLRB.

“The reason why he rushed to take his seat in Washington, D.C., was not to block Obama’s medical and health insurance reforms, but to stop the appointment of Obama’s NLRB nomination, Craig Becker, the union lawyer and associate general counsel for the Service Employees International Union,” Kersten said.

Union bosses at the conference included the state’s National Education Association (NEA) director, Hedy Eischeid, the state’s AFL-CIO president, David Newby and the president of Wisconsin’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Bryan Kennedy.

AFT is a union for those in higher education, so Kennedy talked about how he’d teach teachers to teach about unions. “I recognize that there is an important and special role that I have as a university educator to educate future teachers on how to educate young people about labor union history,” Kennedy said. “As educators, many of us are aware that the first exposure many teachers had to unions is when they graduated, took their first job and were told they were a member of the teachers union. If they didn’t grow up in a union household, what does that mean?”

Eischeid said it’s better to teach teachers about unions before they develop their curriculum, and wants to “connect it to them personally.”

“Many of our own folks don’t really even understand what labor has done for them. I think it really has to start with our members,” she said.

Newby said this is a battle everyone in Wisconsin has to fight, not just teachers, parents and students.

“We have got to convince both teachers and the citizens of the state that teaching labor history is appropriate and, in fact, is necessary, if students are to understand the history of this state and of this nation,” Newby said. “And, that’s really an assignment for all of us, whether you’re involved in this particular project of labor history in the schools or not. And, all of us need to be talking to our neighbors, our co-workers, our family and our friends to get them talking about it as well, particularly those that have kids.”

The AFL-CIO also provided textbooks on the subject for every high school library, according to Richard Grobschmidt, the state’s assistant superintendent at the Department of Public Instruction.

The union bosses and academics who spoke at the conference knew, too, that they’d have to defend the new law in the near future.

“Now that we have a law, we must defend it, tooth and nail, for our opponents won’t rest,” Kersten said, while railing on conservatism. “They’re angry about the changes in American politics and have, as you’ve noticed no doubt, tripped up many meaningful reforms in the state and across the nation. It may not be long before they begin to target our own new law, as they have so many others.” (DC)

Yeah, the other side of the argument is very,very evil!! 🙂

It must be destroyed. That’s the new tone. 🙂

Why should liberals want to change the public educational system when it is turning out the product they have been striving for years to produce?

Check out these real news headlines from the past several weeks and months about the state of U.S. public education across the country:

  • “U.S. teachers tell U.N. sex is a ‘spectrum’ – advocate mandatory classes to free students from ‘religion'”
  • “Principal orders Ten Commandments yanked from school lockers”
  • “Teens ask for more sex ed, greater condom availability”
  • “State university defines Christians as ‘oppressors'”
  • “Why Catholic schools score better than public schools”
  • “Teachers take charge to save ailing public schools”
  • “Schools’ mandatory Arabic classes create firestorm”
  • “District taking money, but censoring Christians?”
  • “No opting out of pro-gay school propaganda”
  • “District pays up for slamming student’s rosary”
  • “Judge cites homeschoolers for violating U.N. mandate – Police interrogate parents, confiscate their curriculum”
  • “Some say schools giving Muslims special treatment”

On Dec. 27, 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote about his vision for the University of Virginia (chartered in 1819), “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error as long as reason is left free to combat it.”

But what should happen 200 years later when our public schools and universities avoid the testing of truths? Or suppress alternate opinions because they are unpopular or politically incorrect? Or no longer tolerate opinions now considered errors or obsolete by the elite? What happens when sociopolitical agendas or scientific paradigms dominate academic views to the exclusion of a minority even being mentioned?

What happens when the political and public educational pendulum swings from concern for the tyranny of sectarianism in Jefferson’s day to secularism in ours? What happens when U.S. public schools become progressive indoctrination camps?

You get Today. You get the Public Sector Unions. You get the NEA and the AFT.

You get crap on a stick that cost an average of $10,000 per student and they can’t even read the f*cking diploma at the end of 16 years!

But they can be great mush heads for the Socialist Democrats!! 🙂

Polling firm of Luntz Research,notes that the 57 percent of faculty members represented in our most esteemed universities are Democrats (only 3 percent Republican) and 64 percent identify themselves as liberal (only 6 percent conservative). Moreover, 71 percent of them disagree that “news coverage of political and social issues reflects a liberal bias in the news media.” And the No. 1 answer they gave to the question, “Who has been the best president in the past 40 years?” was Bill Clinton (only 4 percent said Ronald Reagan).

This is why it is no surprise that the two largest teachers unions, the NEA and AFT, are the largest campaign contributors in the nation (giving more than the Teamsters, NRA or any other organization), and that 90 percent of their contributions fund Democratic candidates. In doing so, do we think such funding is going to balance traditional and conservative values in public schools?

Is this present, restrictive and one-sided educational environment that which Thomas Jefferson and other founders intended for the future generations of America? Absolutely not! Rather than encourage free thinking, the U.S. academic system has turned Jefferson’s plans for open education into our culture’s system of indoctrination. (Chuck Norris)
And that works for Liberals. Gotta get them young, before they figure out they’ve been had.
And better yet, control the Mainstream Media so they never have to find out!!
🙂
Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
Political Cartoons by Henry Payne