Professor Smartass

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why does Obama seek consensus with GOP & every financial scammer but not teachers?


Recently, Arne Duncan warned against letting teachers' unions interfere with his drive to privatize K-12 education with for profit charter schools, as if teachers were part or even all of the problem, saying states shouldn't weakening their overhaul plans simply to win buy-ins from unions. "Watered-down proposals with lots of consensus won't win," he said, implying that democracy as well as teachers are the problem.

Even if teachers WERE the problem, on every other issue, Obama has bent over backwards to find consensus with those who CREATED problems even if it meant alienating his progressive base.

He spent far more time in the healthcare debate trying to woo Republicans with market based solutions and delivered tens of millions of new customers to the health insurance companies who created the problem in exchange for some good but modest reforms that help consumers. Progessives, particularly single payer and public option advocates, only got token input even though both would be more cost effective and cover more people than the Rube Goldberg contraption that keeps private insurance in control, and making profits from money that could be going to actual medical care.

Likewise, when it comes to Wall Street, he put the architects of the deregulation, Larry Summers and Robert Rubin, and lax regulators like Geithner, in charge of our economic policy, whose collapse they largely caused.

And on energy, in spite of good action on going green, he gave a massive gift to oil companies by opening up new areas to offshore drilling. In case you haven't noticed, they repaid that kindness with an oil spill rivaling the Exxon Valdez, and they didn't exactly thank us for prying open Iraq for them with lower prices at the pump.

Even if public school teachers were the problem, if he followed the model he used with these other bad actors, he would give them everything they want--smaller class size, more autonomy in the classroom, tutors, social workers, and after school programs to make up for weak families, and a diverse curriculum to keep kids hooked in who aren't necessarily fascinated by practicing for standardized tests--and only then make a token effort at the charter school ''reform.''

Hell, he would give schools a $700 billion bailout while scolding them for the error of their ways. (no one seems to take about how thirty years of Republican budget and tax priorities have resulted in schools being required to do more and more with less and less).

Instead, he is taking the very opposite approach from those other issues. Teachers are not only vilified but ignored (unlike health insurance companies, Wall Street execs, and oil companies). Non-teachers who run for-profit charter schools and administrators willing to execute the whims of this profits over pupils approach without question are in the driver's seat and no teachers can contribute let alone question what they do. They must agree, get out of the way, or be fired. And even if they agree, they might be fired wholesale anyway in an effort to break unions and bring in more inexperienced, and therefore docile, teachers.

If Obama sincerely believes teachers are bad actors, why the difference from how he treats corporate bad actors, who he puts in the driver's seat of reform? It couldn't be because no teacher's union has enough money to match in campaign contributions what the corporate interests driving for-profit reform have? How many congressman and senators leave office for cushy, high-paying jobs as teachers' union lobbyists, executives, or board members? What kind of insider stock tips could they get from teachers? ''Short chalk and buy whiteboard markers''?

Obama's ideas for K-12 education reform are identical to the Bush administration's, and in that case we did not hesitate to call it what it was: corruption. When Democrats sell out our kids like so many subprime mortgages, we should not hesitate to call that corruption too.

It seems more and more like Obama made a Faustian bargain with the financial elite: let me make some moderate reforms in a few areas, and I'll let you continue to act like a chainsaw waving serial killer in all the others. The last president who seemed to make a deal like that, Lyndon Johnson, who got the Great Society and Civil Rights in exchange for the Vietnam War, was not treated kindly by history, and Obama won't be either if he continues down this path instead of purging the cancers like Duncan from his administration and making the more radical change that is necessary to keep us from slipping into a Third World kleptocracy.

BBC's Greg Palast on Arne Duncan

Washington Post on Duncan's problematic record

More on Duncan's disturbing record


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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Why did Huffington post failed economic advisor Larry "Jabba the Hutt" Summers?

I've long admired Arianna Huffington's writing and frequently visit Huffington Post for political news, opinion, humor, and more, so I was surprised to see a column on her website entitled "Relief for Middle Class Families" by President Obama's economic advisor, Larry Summers. If you know this guy's resume, he cares about the middle class the way Jeffrey Dahmer cared about people he ate.


When he worked for the Clinton administration, he backed or applauded every one of the middle class and even upper middle class killing initiatives of conservatives like deregulating Wall Street, and trade policies that not only managed to decimate our http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4048/4529721060_acbf397426_m.jpgmanufacturing base, but actually made people poorer in other countries too.

In the case of backing neo-liberal shock therapy for Russia, that not only made the Russians worse off than they were under communism and shortened their average life expectancy, he made the world a less safe place since Russia has since figured out that we were trying to make them a Third World nation.

And in spite of their economic problems, Russia does still have nukes.

Larry Summers is the lowest form of moral filth.

If a poor person robs a liquor store and kills someone, they might have at least been doing it out of economic desperation or because they were driven by a drug habit. People like Summers coolly and calmly plan the poverty and death of millions and even billions, not to survive themselves and feed their families, but to have bragging rights at the country club, the financial elite's equivalent of whipping it out to see who's is bigger. He and his friends could live comfortably for their rest of their lives on the wealth they have now, and so could their descendants for ten generations before one would have to think of getting a job.

Summers presence in the Obama administration, along with Robert Rubin, and failed regulator Tim Geithner, is an indictment of the failure of our democracy, and undermines the credibility of the Obama and administration and the Democratic congress when they talk about reforming Wall Street and Banking.

We do not fight rapists, child molesters, and serial killers by putting the criminals in charge of writing the laws to punish and prevent those crimes. If we did, we would rightly expect that the law would require the police to deliver their victims to the criminals, clean up the crime scene, and dispose of the bodies for them at taxpayer expense--sort of like what happened with health care reform.

Worse, their presence in the Obama administration and the continuation of much of the same policies makes me wonder if this or any president is actually in charge, or if they are helpless shopkeepers in Wall Street mafia bust out of America.

I am not opposed to Larry Summers expressing his opinions on Huffington Post. But he should pay a price: endure and answer the questions and follow up questions of the toughest critics of the policies he has advocated and the damage they have done to middle class (like Naomi Klein, Greg Palast, Elizabeth Warren, or David Sirota to name a few) and the most important question would be what he has EVER done in the past that would make us think he will protect and advance the interests of the middle class.

Then he submit to a polygraph, forensic accounting, and make restitution for his economic crimes against working and middle class people around the world.

Once all that has occurred, I would like to hear what he has to say about helping the middle class.

Until then, Arianna needs to hold the Obama administration accountable for putting these Wall Street economic terrorists in charge of our economy that they broke instead of giving them a forum to pretend like they care about their victims (while they are still eating our livers prepared by their private chefs).


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