Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Stuff

Concerning the recall effort in Wisconsin, click here to support the latest ad (and let's not forget about this either, by the way)...

...and tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Harry Chapin; there are a lot of people I miss from the past, including Jim Croce, Stevie Ray Vaughan and, of course, Dr. Winston O. Boogie, but Harry is definitely on that list too.

Friday Mashup (7/15/11)

  • Gee, David Brooks is a barrel of laughs today in the New York Times (here)…
    Years ago, people hoped that science could delay the onset of morbidity. We would live longer, healthier lives and then die quickly. This is not happening. Most of us will still suffer from chronic diseases for years near the end of life, and then die slowly.

    S. Jay Olshansky, one of the leading experts on aging, argues that life expectancy is now leveling off. “We have arrived at a moment,” Callahan and Nuland conclude, “where we are making little headway in defeating various kinds of diseases. Instead, our main achievements today consist of devising ways to marginally extend the lives of the very sick.”

    Others disagree with this pessimistic view of medical progress. But that phrase, “marginally extend the lives of the very sick,” should ring in the ears. Many of our budget problems spring from our quest to do that.
    But not to worry – BoBo is not about to call for anyone stuffing Granny in a meat locker when she expires or taking dear old Dad out with the trash at the onset of rigor mortis.

    However, I think our intrepid Times columnist also needs to point out the following (here, concerning the recent discussion of raising the mandatory retirement age for Social Security)…
    While it might be achievable for someone who works in an office to work all through their 60’s not every job or even trade is sitting at a computer. Many of the jobs that allow non-college graduates to earn a good living and raise a family are physically demanding. Working in a hot factory, climbing electrical poles, driving buses, cleaning hotel rooms are all jobs that someone in their 60’s are not going to be as able to do. Take a look around at the people you know in their mid or late 60’s. They may be in great health but that does not mean most of them can spend the day in physically demanding labor, day after day after day.
    It’s hard for me to “get my head around” the inherent cynicism of a mentality that actually discourages advancement in medical science to improve one’s quality of life while saying nothing (at least, nothing I’ve found from Brooks) decrying other economic “drags” on our economy that are at least comparable, including at least two wars and Bushco’s stinking, forever ruinous tax cuts.

    After doing a little bit of digging, though, I found that this is a familiar theme for BoBo, as noted here…
    In a recent column in the New York Times, Brooks talks about “geezers.” Wow. Isn’t that pretty “anti-pc?” Brooks quotes Freud and Shakespeare to somehow indicate that the elderly gradually withdraw from active life. While this is true in many cases, it is less and less true, and there are many contrary examples, like George Bernard Shaw, who could keep up with Brooks at way-plus-80, or Isaac Bashevis Singer who wrote for the New Yorker or Konrad Adenauer who ran Germany when both were well into their 80s.

    Mark Twain, Robert Frost and Pablo Picasso all did some of their best work in their later years. Cezanne worked his whole life only to find success in the paintings he did after sixty. So what’s the point, David?

    Brooks likes to take studies, especially those done by scholars at respected universities and explain and interpret them. But somehow the topic inevitably comes around to politics with a conservative bent. He says for example, after discussing how aging works and how the brain continues to be capable of all kinds of things in later years, that: “…the federal government now spends $7 on the elderly for each $1 it spends on children.”

    Hmmm…Well, OK. But of course it would be less than that if the Republicans had their way. The SCHIPS program of health care subsidies for the children of poor working families and its renewal were voted down by almost every single Republican when they came to the House of Representatives. So, if the idea is to pit elderly against children, which side are the Neoconservative Republicans on?
    I suppose that’s an eternal question that the Neocons, who are forever in pursuit of a “wedge issue” anywhere they can find one, will never answer.

  • Next, I give you the latest from Fix Noise (here)…
    Congressional Republicans are rallying behind a long-shot bid for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. But they're divided over conservatives' efforts to demand its passage as their price for backing any increase in the government's borrowing limit.
    In response, I give you the following (here)…
    The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) took a look at the ramifications of adopting a Balanced Budget Amendment like the one Republicans propose. Here are some of the CBPP’s key findings:

    - Veterans’ medical care, homeland security activities, border protection, the FBI, services for disadvantaged or abused children, services for frail elderly people, services for people with severe disabilities, would have to be cut by as much as 70% by 2021 relative to the already-reduced budget for 2011.

    - Medicare cuts would have to be significantly deeper than under the Paul Ryan plan.

    - Medicaid would have to be cut in half.

    - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) would have to be cut in half.

    - Supplemental Security Income would have to be cut in half.

    - Pell Grants to help low-income students to afford college would have to be cut by as much as $86 billion over ten years.

    - Farm programs would have to be cut by as much as $84 billion over 10 years.
    And for proof of just how “out to lunch” today’s zany teabagger-run Repug party is on this issue, I give you this (as opposed to an actual issue like this – people keep electing clowns like DeMint, I tell myself).

  • And I suppose that’s an appropriate transition to last week’s Area Votes in Congress (here)…

    2012 military budget. Voting 336-87, the House passed a $649 billion military appropriations bill for fiscal 2012, up $17 billion or 2.7 percent from 2011. The bill (HR 2219) sets a 1.6 percent military pay raise, provides $119 billion for war in Iraq and Afghanistan, keeps the active-duty force around 1.4 million troops, and provides $32.3 billion for the military's TRICARE health program, up nearly 3 percent from 2011.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

    Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), John Carney (D., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Jon Runyan (R., N.J.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

    Libya-mission funds cutoff. Voting 199-229, the House defeated an amendment to prohibit funding in HR 2219 (above) for U.S. participation in the NATO-led military action aimed at defeating the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and protecting Libyan rebels against his government.

    A yes vote was to bar U.S. military spending in the Libyan theater.

    Voting yes: Fitzpatrick, LoBiondo, Pitts, and Smith.

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, Meehan, Runyan, and Schwartz.
    Gee, another vote where Mikey the Beloved can actually pretend to have a spine, knowing it would fail anyhow.
    Contractors' political donations. Voting 256-170, the House prohibited spending in HR 2219 (above) for any requirement that corporations seeking federal contracts disclose their contributions to political candidates. President Obama has drafted, but not yet issued, an executive order requiring such disclosures in bids for federal work.

    A yes vote was to block the planned executive order.

    Voting yes: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, and Schwartz.
    In response to this vote from our PA-08 rep (and by extension, everyone in his party as well as “Democrat” Tim Holden), I thought this was a good letter that appeared in the Doylestown Intelligencer.

    Taxes on millionaires. The Senate voted, 74-22, to begin debate on a nonbinding measure (S 1323) stating the sense of the Senate that any agreement to raise the national debt ceiling and curb deficit spending includes "a meaningful contribution" in revenue from those earning at least $1 million annually.

    A yes vote was to advance the advisory bill.

    Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).

    Voting no: Pat Toomey (R., Pa.).
    Leave it to “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey to never forget who his true constituents really are.

    This week, the House debated energy and water appropriations and an extension of National Flood Insurance, while the Senate resumed work on a nonbinding measure calling for higher taxes on millionaires as part of any deficit-reduction agreement reached this summer.

  • Finally, it looks like The Bucks County Courier Times, for some inexplicable reason, is in search of another conservative columnist, apparently thinking they don’t have enough as it is (this appeared in the paper this morning)…
    In what amounted to a complete non-surprise, Pennsylvania was just ranked near the economic bottom of the nation. Forty-third, to be exact.

    Why the dismal showing for what was once the major industrial powerhouse, not just of the country, but the world?

    More than anything else, crushing taxes and a hostile business climate.
    I wonder if the author is aware that, among other things, of all of the states and commonwealths residing atop the Marcellus Shale, Pennsylvania is the only one that doesn’t charge a drillers’ tax? And that is in spite of the $1 billion in education funding cut from our budget by Gov. Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett. If that isn’t “business friendly,” I don’t know what is.

    Besides, as noted here, PA ranked number 25 in a 2011 survey from The Tax Foundation, which measures the “business tax climates” of all 50 states. Not too bad, I would say.

    And as noted here…
    The state Department of Labor and Industry reports that manufacturing added 4,200 jobs in 2011 alone. The innovative products being developed in Pennsylvania today will someday be manufactured for mass use and consumption in the future. This means continued economic growth and new jobs for Pennsylvanians.

    We are already seeing tremendous job growth from Marcellus Shale development. The state Department of Labor and Industry reports that approximately 72,000 jobs have been created due to the growth of the natural gas industry in the state.

    Pennsylvania is poised to be a national economic leader. But to be truly successful, we need to improve our tax climate. The Corbett administration is committed to improving Pennsylvania's business climate and has included a number of tax reductions and tax credits in the proposed state budget to reduce the tax burden on job creators.

    The phaseout of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax, which stalled the past few years, will finally resume and be completely eliminated by 2014. The administration's business-friendly interpretation of tax law regarding 100 percent bonus depreciation benefits and goal to reduce the corporate net income tax from 9.99 to 6.99 percent will send a strong message to the business community that Pennsylvania is serious about supporting job growth.
    Please understand that I’m not necessarily saying I support these initiatives. I am merely pointing them out to refute the argument of Chris Friend, who, the Courier Times tells us, is an “independent” columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter (I’ll let you, dear reader, search out his site and read some of his content to find out how “independent” he is…in the way that Fix Noise is “fair and balanced,” as they say).

    The theme of Friend’s piece is how bad PA is supposed to be as opposed to how great Texas is supposed to be, including the following…
    When in Texas, there is an unbridled sense of pride, a feeling that the American pioneering spirit is thriving, and that nothing is unattainable.
    Well then, if Friend thinks the land of the “yellow rose” is supposedly so wonderful and PA is so awful, then I have this bit of advice.

    Move there, and stay there (and don’t file a medical disability claim or expect your premiums to decrease - here).
  • Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Thursday Stuff

    No, Dana, the Iraq "WMD" was never found. No, Dana, the "smoking gun" didn't turn into a mushroom cloud. No, Dana, what Colin Powell held up at the U.N. that day in his very best "Ooga Booga Invade Iraq Cuz Saddam Is A Mean, Rotten Guy" impersonation was a vial of baking soda, not actual anthrax.

    Yes, Dana, you are a goddamn bubblehead (here)...

    ...and just in case you thought I would let Eric Bolling off the hook...

    ...and Rachel Maddow quite properly skewers those teabaggers one more time, to say nothing of the "usual suspect" pundit class (here)...

    ...and "I remember when it used to be easy, I remember when it wasn't so hard" too.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Wednesday Stuff

    Keith Olbermann has his own special remembrances of Rupert The Pirate in the wake of the phone hacking scandal - here is the first...

    ...and here is the second (Current has done a good job, but as you can see from the "face freeze," they still have a bug or two to work on)...

    ...and here's more on what initiated Arizona's "illegal to be brown" law, as well as copycat laws around the country (here and here also...and you just knew that the Koch Brothers were involved, didn't you?)...

    ...and this is a bit of a dark, psychological folky tune I guess.

    Wednesday Mashup (7/13/11)

    (Not sure about posting tomorrow, by the way…)

  • To this I have only to say – uh, yep…
    The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to keep energy efficiency standards for light bulbs, which passed in 2007 and are set to phase in beginning next year.

    So, do you have to stockpile those old-school, soft white incandescent bulbs now?

    No. Congress hasn't banned them. All it has said is that, starting in 2012, light bulbs must use less power to create the same amount of light, saving the country electricity and Americans cash. Light bulb makers already have familiar-looking soft white incandescent bulbs for sale that meet the federal regulations, so you don't have to use extremely efficient compact fluorescent or LED bulbs if you don't want to. Continuing innovation, meanwhile, promises to make tougher rules easier to meet in later years.

    The Natural Resources Defense Council calculates that these light bulb efficiency standards will eventually save Americans $12.5 billion a year in lower energy bills, reducing consumption by the equivalent of the output of 33 large power plants and slashing greenhouse and other pollution along the way. Newer bulbs are more expensive than the old clunkers, but often not by much, and they more than pay for themselves in decreased energy use.
    And who exactly was trying to defeat the new light bulb energy standard, you may ask? None other than Repug U.S. House Rep “Smoky Joe” Barton of Texas, and (as noted here)…
    …the proposal…reflects the catcalls of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann (that) is likely to land in the same dustbin now home to many other GOP energy proposals.
    Also, when it comes to light bulbs, here is a quote from David Edison Sloane, grandson of you-know-who…
    My great-grandfather would be calling us to put politics aside and get back to doing what Americans do best — create better mousetraps… and better light-bulbs.
    To say nothing of job creation also (remember jobs, House Repugs?).

  • Update 7/15/11: Typically cowardly and stoo-pid (here)...

  • And I suppose it’s a logical progression to move from “dim bulbs” to Stu Bykofsky of the Philadelphia Daily News; he concocted the following today in a profile of actor Richard Dreyfuss, who apparently is now a conservative or something (though Dreyfuss is trying to promote civics education, which is commendable)…
    There's no denying Dreyfuss' devotion to civics, a small word with a big meaning that he defined as understanding "how to run the country." He passionately proclaims his unabashed love of country - this country. The Far Left usually brays that even wearing a flag lapel pin is goose-stepping jingoism.

    And when it comes to Democrats vs. Republicans in the matter of civics, I recently posted about this topic here (last bullet), but in addition, here is a story of federal funding cuts endangering civics instruction in Indiana, here is a similar story about Wyoming, and here is a similar story about cuts to AmeriCorps funding in California (and gee, last I checked, Orange Man and his pals were in charge of the House, not the Dems).

    Oh, and for laughs, here once more is “Byko” and his comparison to a certain falafel-abusing Fix Noise pundit and K.O. (and by the way, “Byko,” I’m still waiting for an apology for this).

  • Continuing, James Taranto of the Murdoch Street Journal waxes indignant as follows (here)…
    President Obama is pulling out the big guns and pointing them straight at your grandmother. "Obama on Tuesday said he cannot guarantee that retirees will receive their Social Security checks August 3" absent an agreement with Congress to raise the debt ceiling, CBS News reports:

    "I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Mr. Obama said in an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, according to excerpts released by CBS News.

    At a press conference yesterday, Obama demanded that Republicans not only authorize trillions of dollars in new borrowing, which at this point seems unavoidable, but agree to what he called "massive, job-killing tax increases" effective in 2013--i.e., after what he expects will be his re-election.

    For this he drew plaudits from what used to be called the mainstream media. "Obama Grasping Centrist Banner in Debt Impasse" read the New York Times headline. The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza dubbed him "Dad-in-Chief," explaining: "Boil Obama's message down and you get this: Adults sometimes have to do things that they don't want to do. This is one of those times. So, let's get it done."

    The kids are acting up, so he threatens to starve Granny to death. That's just how a strong father behaves.
    Taranto imagines an Obama threat against an elderly family member – here is an actual one from “the loyal opposition”…

  • Finally, someone named Michael Goodwin kept up the Obama bashing here…
    …Obama's default statist position remains unmolested by facts or last year's landslide that was a rebuke to his first two years. He continues to push bigger and bigger government, higher and higher taxes and more and more welfare programs.
    I’ve already mentioned many, many times that, with the “stim,” Obama gave us the biggest middle class tax cut in history, but as for the “welfare” part, this tells us that welfare costs (as part of 2010 mandatory spending including unemployment) were $571 billion, with government spending in 2011 at not quite $500 billion here, including unemployment…so welfare actually went down under Obama.

    As noted here, though, Goodwin has never been one to let the truth get in the way of propagating his talking points (and speaking of Media Matters, they have been under relentless fire from Rupert The Pirate and his minions, no doubt for helping to expose News Corp’s dark deeds when it comes to hacking phone conversations…a sample is shown in the clip from here).

  • Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    I apologize for wasting more people's time over Sarah Palin, but I think Lawrence O'Donnell has every right for some good old fashioned indignation here; I honestly thought Tina Brown would do a better job than this with this publication...

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    ...and I guess this is keeping up with a bit of a folky vein I started last night - sounds good to me.

    Tuesday Mashup (7/12/11)

  • Gee, I can hardly wait for the outrage from the racist-sign-and-funny-hat crowd when they hear about this…
    Washington (CNN) -- Partisan warfare over the looming debt ceiling crisis escalated Tuesday as GOP leaders once again refused to consider any tax hikes and President Barack Obama warned that, absent a deal, he can't guarantee older Americans will continue receiving Social Security checks next month.

    "There may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama said, according to excerpts of a CBS News interview scheduled to air Tuesday night.

    "We can't guarantee -- if there were a default -- any specific bill would be paid," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
    Even Tom Donahue, president of the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce said the following (here)…
    The business community is also upping the pressure on lawmakers, warning that a failure to increase the nation's borrowing limit could have an immediate impact on the economy recovery.

    "An unprecedented default on the nation's bills would have dire consequences for our economy, our markets, and Main Street Americans," said (Donohue).
    And let’s not forget that this is the same Tom Donahue who said “we’ll get rid of you” to Repugs opposing an increase in the debt limit (here).

    The predictable teabagger response followed (here)…
    I found Tom Donahue’s comments outrageous, tone-deaf, totally establishment, and doesn’t understand at all where we’re at right now (sic)…If Tom Donahue is more comfortable having Nancy Pelosi as Speaker next year because he wants to get rid of all of us tea party, fiscally-conservative freshman who came here on a mission to save our kids from the debt we’re placing on their backs, then fine. He can have Nancy Pelosi as his Speaker.
    The person who uttered those words was Repug U.S. House rep (and freshman) Joe "Welcome To The Club" Walsh of Illinois.

    As Think Progress reminds us here, failing to raise the debt ceiling could have a bigger impact than the 2008 downturn that started our current misery…
    To see just how much, imagine that this debt limit crisis happened last year. The budget deficit last August and September was $125 billion. If the government had been unable to finance that deficit, it would have been forced to cut $125 billion from its spending during those two months—which if translated into a decline of that magnitude in economic activity would have resulted in GDP dropping by 2.3 percent, in nominal terms, from the previous quarter.

    To put that kind of drop in perspective, consider that the biggest quarter-to-quarter drop in nominal GDP since 1947, when official statistics began, was 2 percent from the third to fourth quarter of 2008—the middle of the Great Recession, when we lost nearly 2 million jobs.
    And just as a reminder, here is a record of Republican votes on raising the debt ceiling when their party held the White House versus Democratic Party control (and this chart shows us that most of the debt is due to the wars and Dubya’s ruinous tax cuts…still astonishes and sickens me that our corporate media has so thoroughly seemed to “disappear” Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History on this and other matters).

    Oh, and when it comes to our local politicians, this tells us that both Charlie Dent and Mikey The Beloved voted No to raising the debt limit (remember that when you don’t get your Social Security Checks on time, you zany teabaggers).

    Also voting against raising the debt limit (as Think Progress tells us here) was Pat Toomey himself; as noted here, the Chamber spent $1.5 million against Admiral Joe Sestak, who ran against Toomey, in 2010…wonder if anyone will remember Toomey’s vote against Donahue and the Chamber in 2016 when “No Corporate Tax” Pat runs for re-election? Do I even need to ask (sigh)?

    Finally on this subject (as noted here), “Orange Man” Boehner said, “excuse us for trying to lead” on this issue with Paul Ryan’s plan to eliminate Medicare and gut Medicaid (kind of hard to “lead” on this issue given that Obama had submitted his own budget weeks before Ryan did, as Steve Benen points out here).

    (By the way, Yahoo messed with the link above and changed it to some story about McConnell saying Obama should have new powers on the debt limit, or something. Short of passing a declaration of war, since when does Congress tell a president what he can and cannot do? I hope Obama and his people tell McConnell where he can stick his “deal.”)

  • Update 7/13/11: Good job, Mr. President (here - happy to compliment you instead of snark over this issue).

  • Next, former Bushco flak Marc Thiessen reminds us how much he has utterly forgotten that this country abides by the rule of law, assuming he ever knew that to begin with (here)…
    In an interview for my Washington Post column this week, I asked Tim Pawlenty about the recent testimony of Admiral William McRaven that the Obama administration has no clear plan for handling suspected terrorist leaders if they are caught alive—and that if captured terrorists cannot be tried in a U.S. court or transferred to the custody of an allied country, they are simply let go.

    “I think that is preposterous,” Pawlenty told me, adding that he will end such a catch and release policy if he is elected president. Pawlenty also said he would keep Guantanamo open, and start bringing terrorists there, as well as other facilities, for interrogation again. He would restore enhanced interrogation “under certain and controlled and limited circumstances.”
    Why Thiessen would think that Pawlenty of Nothing is an expert on anything except running a failed presidential campaign…oh, silly me – I just realized that the game here is for Thiessen to find some poor sap whose hopes for higher office are fading out of sight and use that individual to validate his right wing talking points, while the designated sap, meanwhile, can claim some kind of thoroughly undeserved foreign policy “cred” and risk no shot of getting called out in the process. Your basic win-win, I guess.

    Well, to begin with the argument about bringing terrorists to “other facilities,” this tells us that...
    The Obama administration approved the secret detention of a Somali terror suspect on board a US navy ship, where for two months he was subjected to military interrogation in the absence of a lawyer and without charge.

    The capture and treatment of Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame has rekindled the debate within the US about the appropriate handling of terror suspects. Republicans in Congress have objected to Warsame being brought to New York this week to be tried in a criminal court – an attempt by the Obama administration to avoid sending the prisoner to Guantánamo Bay, which it has promised to close.

    Last week Admiral William McRaven, soon to become head of US Special Operations Command, told his confirmation hearing that militants captured outside Afghanistan were often “put on a naval vessel” to be held until they could be sent to a third country or a case was compiled against them for prosecution in the US courts.
    Gosh, didn’t Thiessen just tell us that Admiral McRaven testified that Obama “has no clear plan for handling suspected terrorists”? Sounds like Number 44 and company have a “plan” of sorts that they’ve been executing already.

    That said, I should also point out that I’m not sure how legal it is to keep these individuals on a ship for two months prior to charging them (and how exactly is this supposed to be an improvement over keeping them at a Bushco “black site”?). The standard I always use is how much we would object if foreign individuals subjected our people to the same treatment.

    Besides, as noted here from 2008…
    An eight-month McClatchy investigation in 11 countries on three continents has found that (Mohammed) Akhtiar was one of dozens and perhaps hundreds of men whom the U.S. has wrongfully imprisoned in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments. . . .

    From the moment that Guantanamo opened in early 2002, former Secretary of the Army Thomas White said, it was obvious that at least a third of the population didn't belong there. . . .
    I’ve often wondered how Thiessen would hold up under the methods of interrogation he so easily advocates for others. My guess is that he would be bawling his eyes out in a matter of seconds.

  • Finally, I missed this little item from Joke Line last Thursday; did you know that Head Start is a failure? Well…
    …Head Start did work well in several pilot programs carefully run by professionals in the 1960s. And so it was "taken to scale," as the wonks say, as part of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty.

    It is now 45 years later. We spend more than $7 billion providing Head Start to nearly 1 million children each year. And finally there is indisputable evidence about the program's effectiveness, provided by the Department of Health and Human Services: Head Start simply does not work.

    According to the Head Start Impact Study, which was quite comprehensive, the positive effects of the program were minimal and vanished by the end of first grade. Head Start graduates performed about the same as students of similar income and social status who were not part of the program. These results were so shocking that the HHS team sat on them for several years, according to Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution, who said, "I guess they were trying to rerun the data to see if they could come up with anything positive. They couldn't."
    Call me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but I thought the point of Head Start wasn’t to turn school-age kids trying to emerge from poverty into little Einsteins. It was to help them to achieve parity with their peers, and from that point, whether or not they failed or succeeded in school was up to them (and in the event of the former, why should Head Start necessarily be held accountable each time as the reason why?).

    Besides, this tells us about the success of the Head Start program in Harlem, this provides a list of “Better Chance For School Success” programs courtesy of Arkansas Head Start, this tells us of Head Start success stories in greater Dallas, and this tells us how the local Head Start program of Georgia is “maintaining success.”

    Klein ends his column with this…
    "The argument that Head Start opponents make is that it is a jobs program," a senior Obama Administration official told me, "and sadly, there is something to that."

    This is criminal, every bit as outrageous as tax breaks for oil companies — perhaps even more outrageous, since we are talking about the lives of children.
    First of all, this “senior Obama Administration official” ought to have the guts to go on record with such a cowardly cave-in to a right-wing talking point (who cares if it’s a “jobs program” – as if that’s something to be ashamed of somehow – as long as the kids benefit from it?). Second, I see no way whatsoever to equate $7 billion in Head Start funding with $21 billion in tax breaks for oil companies.

    This is typical of a soulless corporate media Beltway shill like Klein, though, who apparently only practices the actual craft of journalism during fleeting lucid moments (with items such as this sadly more representative of his type of “reporting”).
  • Monday, July 11, 2011

    Monday Stuff

    (Not so good of a posting day again today - I'll try again tomorrow.)

    Gee, that Van Jones is a pretty bright guy. Why exactly did "President Hopey Changey" give him the boot again? Oh, some wingnuts got mad over some 9/11 "truther" stuff, or something - riiiight...

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    ...and RIP Facundo Cabral, a true champion of human rights in Latin America who was murdered for his beliefs; I don't know what he's saying in this tune, but it is a work of true beauty.