Month: March 2011

Your Michelle Rhee Fraud Roundup

I thought that Michelle Rhee was a fraud when I discovered that her “school reforms” in the DC school district appeared to be to focus on tests, and that she never had any sort of plan for early intervention and pre-school.

If you want to improve education in the future, you get the kids early, when you can give them the most, and longest lasting benefit.

If you intend to pump and dump, you ignore that, focus on tests, and find someone to demonize.

Michelle Rhee got her start in the Teach for America program, which, considering its alumni, is to education what Typhoid Mary is to beefsteak tartar.

In any case, on her resume Rhee claimed that her students at her first position, “That after two years 90 percent of her students had reached the 90th percentile in reading and math.”

The problem is that this is not true. In fact her performance as a teacher, particularly in her years, was an unmitigated disaster which would have gotten her fired by Michelle Rhee, the DC schools administrator.

Jay Matthews, the Washington Post‘s education blogger, takes exception to (first link) takes exception to G.F. Brandenburg’s characterization of Rhee’s work as “lies” (second link), but this is an illustration about how the press in general, and the Kaplan Test Prep company in particular, find calling out obvious lies to be distasteful.

Rhee put numbers on her resume that were well nigh miraculous, but they were false, so either she had access to the numbers, which makes it a lie, or she did not have access to the numbers, and she put the false numbers (she claims that her principal told her) which is also a lie.

But it gets even better, because Michelle Rhee just loves what Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin, because, as I have said before, finding an enemy is easier that generating real results.

And now we know that her results were the result of massive systematic fraud:

In just two years, Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus went from a school deemed in need of improvement to a place that the District of Columbia Public Schools called one of its “shining stars.”

Standardized test scores improved dramatically. In 2006, only 10% of Noyes’ students scored “proficient” or “advanced” in math on the standardized tests required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Two years later, 58% achieved that level. The school showed similar gains in reading.

Because of the remarkable turnaround, the U.S. Department of Education named the school in northeast Washington a National Blue Ribbon School. Noyes was one of 264 public schools nationwide given that award in 2009.

Michelle Rhee, then chancellor of D.C. schools, took a special interest in Noyes. She touted the school, which now serves preschoolers through eighth-graders, as an example of how the sweeping changes she championed could transform even the lowest-performing Washington schools. Twice in three years, she rewarded Noyes’ staff for boosting scores: In 2008 and again in 2010, each teacher won an $8,000 bonus, and the principal won $10,000.


A USA TODAY investigation, based on documents and data secured under D.C.’s Freedom of Information Act, found that for the past three school years most of Noyes’ classrooms had extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests. The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones.

rasures are detected by the same electronic scanners that CTB/McGraw-Hill, D.C.’s testing company, uses to score the tests. When test-takers change answers, they erase penciled-in bubble marks that leave behind a smudge; the machines tally the erasures as well as the new answers for each student.

In 2007-08, six classrooms out of the eight taking tests at Noyes were flagged by McGraw-Hill because of high wrong-to-right erasure rates. The pattern was repeated in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, when 80% of Noyes classrooms were flagged by McGraw-Hill.

On the 2009 reading test, for example, seventh-graders in one Noyes classroom averaged 12.7 wrong-to-right erasures per student on answer sheets; the average for seventh-graders in all D.C. schools on that test was less than 1. The odds are better for winning the Powerball grand prize than having that many erasures by chance, according to statisticians consulted by USA TODAY.


In 2008, the office of the State Superintendent of Education recommended that the scores of many schools be investigated because of unusually high gains, but top D.C. public school officials balked and the recommendation was dropped.

McGraw-Hill’s practice is to flag only the most extreme examples of erasures. To be flagged, a classroom had to have so many wrong-to-right erasures that the average for each student was 4 standard deviations higher than the average for all D.C. students in that grade on that test. In layman’s terms, that means a classroom corrected its answers so much more often than the rest of the district that it could have occurred roughly one in 30,000 times by chance. D.C. classrooms corrected answers much more often.

Remember here, that 4 σ is just where the testing program begins to note irregularities, so we are probably somewhere well into the 6 figures against, and the fact that Rhee and Her Evil Minions strongly fought against a meaningful investigation indicates that they either knew, or they were willfully blind, which is the same thing.

But we will be seeing more of this, because Rhee has failed up, and is now running a non-profit that she hopes will raise a billion dollars, and Barack Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, have repeatedly indicated that they would like to repeat her “success”.

Between for profit profiteers, and Ponzi educators like Rhee, the educational reform establishment is toxic.

Quote of the Day

Immelt is thus an odd choice to head up such a council. It would be like Obama appointing Wall Street insiders like Larry Summers and Timmy Geithner to head up his economic advisory team, or guys from Goldman Sachs to head up the financial regulatory agencies. Oh, wait…

Urantian Sojourn in response to Barack Obama’s appointment of GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, as head of the White House Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

I’m beginning to wonder whether Barack Obama sits in the situation room of the White House basement, stroking a white Persian cat, and wondering how to f%$# with all of us.

What a Whiny Bitch

Truly pathetic, but at least

We get a kick ass poster

Wisconsin Republican Congressman, and former Real World reality TV star, Sean Duffy, is caught on tape complaining how tough it is to make ends meet making only $174,000 a year, about 3 x that of the average citizen of the Badger State.

What’s more, once people started seeing the tape, the Republican Party of Polk County, where he gave the talk, started demanding that the recording be removed, claiming copyright infringement.

Not only is he a whiny bitch, he’s a stupid whiny bitch, because they just insured that every half-assed hack with a keyboard and a spell check, like yours truly, will go and reproduce the tape, and the story, until the heat death of the universe.

I Don’t Know Whether to Laugh or to Cry

I give up!

Jon Stewart riffs on the fact that while every right wing ratf%$# out there can say that unions are causing deficits, it appears that no one at all gives a damn that GE effectively paid a negative sixty percent income tax in 2010, while cutting US jobs and shipping them overseas.

Of course, there was but one thing that the Obama administration could do: Make GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt the chairman of a prestigious commission to explore how to create jobs in the United States.

I think that between a choice of laughing and crying, I will go with sleeping like a baby: I will wake up every few hours screaming.

Fux Snooze Admits the Obvious

Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon has admittedly to consciously, repeatedly, and deliberately lying during the 2008 campaign:

In newly uncovered audio, a Fox News executive boasts that he lied repeatedly during the closing days of the 2008 presidential campaign when he speculated on-air “about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism.”

Speaking in 2009 onboard a pricey Mediterranean cruise sponsored by a right-wing college, Fox Washington managing editor Bill Sammon described his attempts the previous year to link Obama to “socialism” as “mischievous speculation.” Sammon, who is also a Fox News vice president, acknowledged that “privately” he had believed that the socialism allegation was “rather far-fetched.”

“Last year, candidate Barack Obama stood on a sidewalk in Toledo, Ohio, and first let it slip to Joe the Plumber that he wanted to quote, ‘spread the wealth around,’ ” said Sammon. “At that time, I have to admit, that I went on TV on Fox News and publicly engaged in what I guess was some rather mischievous speculation about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism, a premise that privately I found rather far-fetched.”

The only thing shocking about this is the fact that the rest of the media seems to feel honor bound to defend their shoddy and fraudulent journamalism whenever someone criticizes them.

Meanwhile, In the Humitarian Disaster Not Involving Oil…

I am referring, of course, to The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, where forces supporting the guy who won the election, Alassane Ouattara, have taken the capital, Yamoussoukro:

Rebel forces in Ivory Coast have taken control of the official capital, as power seems to be slipping away from the president, Laurent Gbagbo.

Residents and military sources said troops loyal to Gbagbo’s rival, Alassane Ouattara, had entered Yamoussoukro, meeting little resistance as security forces fled. The port city of San Pedro also fell.

This has been going on for how many months now, (Hint: it’s been 5) and hot a hint of anyone wanting to intervene, because, of course, they don’t have oil.

So you have two African leaders, both without much in the way of support, who are oppressing their opponents and the general population, but the one that is a mid-level oil producer gets the full NATO bombing treatment, while the world’s leading exporter of cocoa gets some minor finger wagging in the general assembly of the United Nations.

A little bit of oil we spend blood and treasure on, but a lot of chocolate, that ain’t worth nothing.

Talk about screwed up priorities.

The Obama Doctrine…

Courtesy of Dan Nexon:

Humanitarian-intervention-against-militarily-weak-fossil-fuel-producing-countries-in-strategically-important-regions-that-are-also-located-near-many-large-NATO-military-bases-and-are-run-by-dictators-who-kind-of-piss-us-off-and-have-no-powerful-allies Doctrine

And he is right: This is not the stuff of grand strategy.

In response to the nuclear disaster in Japan, the EPA is looking to increase the amount of radiation deemed safe for the American public to be exposed to:

March 24, 2011, 12:30 EDT, NEW YORK CITY– In the wake of the continuing nuclear tragedy in Japan, the United States government is still moving quickly to increase the amounts of radiation the population can “safely” absorb by raising the safe zone for exposure to levels designed to protect the government and nuclear industry more than human life. It’s all about cutting costs now as the infinite-growth paradigm sputters and moves towards extinction. As has been demonstrated by government conduct in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of Deepwater Horizon and in Japan, life has taken a back seat to cost-cutting and public relations posturing.

The game plan now appears to be to protect government and the nuclear industry from “excessive costs”… at any cost.

This would involve raising the acceptable levels of things like radioactive Cesium, Iodine and Nickel by up to one hundred thousand times ……… Yes, that’s times, not percent.

This is not without precedent.  Following the Deepwater Horizon blowout, they raised the acceptable levels of toxic chemicals for fish from the gulf, as “George Washington” notes at Naked Capitalism.

Not feeling hopey changey about Barack right now.

Now It’s A-10s and AC-130s

So now we are now engaging in direct close air support in direct support of the rebel forces, which means that, win or lose, the rebels will have very little legitimacy, and so will be dependent upon support of the west, probably the British and French, in any future government.

This ain’t a bug, it’s a feature, because it makes for a low cost semi-colonial relationship with the oil rich nation in the future:

The U.S. military dramatically stepped up its assault on Libyan government ground forces over the weekend, launching its first missions with AC-130 flying gunships and A-10 attack aircraft designed to strike enemy ground troops and supply convoys.

The use of the aircraft, during days of heavy fighting in which the momentum seemed to swing in favor of the rebels, demonstrated how allied military forces have been drawn deeper into the chaotic fight in Libya. A mission that initially seemed to revolve around establishing a no-fly zone has become focused on halting advances by government ground forces in and around key coastal cities.

The AC-130s, which fly low and slow over the battlefield and are typically more vulnerable to enemy fire than fast-moving fighter jets, were deployed only after a week of sustained coalition attacks on Libyan government air defenses and radar sites. These aircraft, armed with heavy machine guns and cannons that rake the ground, allow strikes on dug-in Libyan ground forces and convoys in closer proximity to civilians.

Let’s be clear here: Dug in forces are not a threat to non-combatant civilians. They are an impediment to the rebel army, and going after them puts the lie to the idea that this is about “protecting civilians,” as called for in the Security Council resolution.

I agree with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who is saying that this is taking sides in a civil war, and while the removal of Qaddafi may be a noble goal, it is not the one that was authorized.

We are back down the same rabbit hole that forced us to invade Iraq.

The survival of the current regime in Libya has now become an unacceptable outcome, notwithstanding the protests of Obama and other world leaders, just like the survival of Saddam Hussein’s regime became unacceptable to Bush, Jr. in 2003.

We elected George W. Bush with better diction.

Obama’s Speech on Libya

I might have been inclined to watch it live, but my kids, along with the rest of our shul’s youth choir, was singing at a retirement home, and so I didn’t, and I really can’t stand to listen to him, and it appears that the US has gotten sucked into a neocolonial adventure by the French and the British, a sort of reverse Suez, if you will, so I do not think that there is a good sane explanation here to involve us in a civil war.

Maybe I’ll read some analyses over the next few days.

So The New York Times Has Added a Paywall

I’m not sure exactly how it works, so I am unsure how the paywall, which limits you to 20 page views a month, would work off a link to this blog, but, at least for now, it works off of Twitter, so I have created a Twitter account, The Sh%$ I Read on the New York Times, and I will link to that tweet, which will allow one to see the article without having to deal with their paywall.

It appears to me that this is in accordance with both the spirit and the letter of their paywall, since I am manually tweeting the articles.

There are a number of alternatives, most notably the NYTClean applet, and while I might use that myself, I’m not going to put that on my link page, I figure that someone might go all TOS on my flabby white ass and finding a human at Google/Blogger in that case is well nigh impossible.

As to how the paywall will work, the Times had a paywall for a number of years for their opinion pieces, and the net result was that they got a lot less buzz, which is probably why Frank Rich and Bob Herbert both decided to leave the paper in the past few weeks.

The problem with the NYT is too fold, first, and uniquely to them, is the fact that they built, and paid cash for a ruinously expensive new office building in Manhattan, and second, and this is not unique to them, Craigslist is completely eating their lunches in the tremendously profitable classified ads section.

Not sure as to the solution, though any solution should involve cutting Tom Friedman’s travel budget.

OK, This is Repulsive

We have a couple of new laws making their way through the Knesset, and they are both pretty contemptible:

The Knesset is scheduled to vote Tuesday, in second and third readings, on two highly controversial bills: the first would deprive organizations of state support and fine them if they undertake activities that deny Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, and the second would allow small towns to screen applicants for residency.

The Knesset is scheduled to break for spring recess next week.

Critics of the first bill, the Nakba Law, which was sponsored by MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu), maintain that it infringes disproportionately on the freedom of expression and the right of Israel’s Arab citizens to tell their own historic narrative.

About 20 recipients of the prestigious Israel Prize, along with distinguished intellectuals, yesterday issued a public statement expressing their opposition to the Nakba Law. “The principle of separation of powers is an essential principle of democracy,” they wrote. “Neither the Knesset nor the cabinet is a judicial branch empowered to punish. Under this law, politicians would be able to judge and punish those who make statements not to their liking.”

All you really need to know about the “Nabka law” is that it’s sponsored by the Yisrael Beiteinu party, who are basically Israel’s equivalent of the Dixicrat segregationists in the 1940s and 1950s.

The law itself is much like the flag burning laws that we periodically see courts strike down in the US, a lot of political opportunism based on the sort of loud faux patriotism that is the refuge of scoundrels.

The second law is more complex, as it is sponsored by two Kadima MKs, and one Ysrael Beiteinu member, Shai Hermesh and Israel Hasson,and David Rotem respectively, and there does appear to be a real problem that needs to be addressed here.

The problem here is that language (added after the bill was originally proposed) that “an admissions committee will not refuse to accept a candidate purely on grounds of race, religion, nationality or physical handicap,” (emphasis mine) is very weak tea, and so would almost certainly be used to exclude Arabs from these communities.

Certainly the language, at least as translated by Haaretz, seems to indicate this:

The law would empower admissions committees to reject candidates for residency if they are minors, if they lack the economic means to establish a home in the community, if they have no intention of basing their home life in the community, if a professional evaluation indicates that they are ill-suited to the community’s way of life, or if they do not suit the community’s social-cultural fabric.

Those last two clauses seem to leave a lot of room for some sort of Jim Crowism.

What’s more, it’s not just Arabs caught up in this net, you could see it applied to, “immigrants, single-parent families or same-sex couples”.

On the other hand, the phrase, “If hey have no intention of basing their home life in the community,” does reflect a real problem, one that with Arabs, or Sabras, and everything to do with rich Americans.

In many places in Israel, particularly in Jerusalem, you have large numbers of rich absentee apartment owners who are in Israel for perhaps 4 weeks a year, with the apartments remaining vacant, or rented, for the rest of the year.

The communities down in the Negev and the Galilee, which is where the law would apply, would likely be far less expensive that Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, or Haifa, and so you could see a similar phenomenon involving more middle class Americans engaging in real estate speculators/part time Aliyah.

But you could craft a bill that would just cover that problem, by allowing an evaluation of a person’s intention to make the community their permanent and primary residence, with the ability to levy fines and/or evict those who don’t.

Of course, we aren’t seeing such a limited law, because someone wants to slip in discriminatory provisions.

Here’s a Surprise

Someone has discovered the handwritten notes of Dr. Bruce Jessen, a psychologist who helped design the CIA’s torture program, and it shows that the goal of the program was torture and the exploitation of prisoners. I would further add that the documents show that he knew that torture did not work, and simply produced false statements, which means that there was no purpose to the program beyond producing false propaganda:

Bush administration officials have long asserted that the torture techniques used on “war on terror” detainees were utilized as a last resort in an effort to gain actionable intelligence to thwart pending terrorist attacks against the United States and its interests abroad.

But the handwritten notes obtained exclusively by Truthout drafted two decades ago by Dr. John Bruce Jessen, the psychologist who was under contract to the CIA and credited as being one of the architects of the government’s top-secret torture program, tell a dramatically different story about the reasons detainees were brutalized and it was not just about obtaining intelligence. Rather, as Jessen’s notes explain, torture was used to “exploit” detainees, that is, to break them down physically and mentally, in order to get them to “collaborate” with government authorities. Jessen’s notes emphasize how a “detainer” uses the stresses of detention to produce the appearance of compliance in a prisoner.

But no prosecutions, because Barack Obama is too busy torturing his own whistle blowers.

Why Dr. Jessen still has a medical license is beyond me.

Read the whole article, it’s extensive and chilling.

Another Day, Another Phony Foreclosure Fraud Settlement

In this case, it’s the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson, who has agreed to pay a $2 million settlement to resolve charges of fraud:

A Florida law firm agreed Friday to pay the state $2 million in penalties for allegedly mishandling foreclosures — the first deal of its kind since the uproar over the issue began last fall.

The Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson was among the prominent law firms investigated by state authorities after major lenders, including Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase, admitted last fall that their employees had “robo-signed” foreclosure cases without reading them and improperly notarized some documents.

Investigations into these practices are being conducted on several parallel tracks. Besides investigations by various states, federal regulators are conducting a review of national banks. Attorneys general from 50 states have joined with the Obama administration to try to negotiate a broader settlement with the mortgage industry.


They added that their foreclosure notices were not served properly. In some cases, relatives with no stake in the process were served notices and the homeowners were billed to cover the cost of those actions.

The settlement does not include any admission of guilt by the law firm.

You know, after pulling this kind of sh%$ routinely, I would think that they should:

  • Pay more than the cost of a dozen of the houses that they have foreclosed on.
  • Have the state bar looking at pulling his law licence.
  • Have the Attorney General looking at throwing his ass in jail.

But I guess I am just a rube for believing that the rule of law and property rights meaning anything at all.

It’s Bank Failure Friday!!!!

Well, it appears that  the pace of bank failures is slowing, and maybe this year won’t be as bad as last year

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.

  1. The Bank of Commerce, Wood Dale, IL

Only one this week, and none last week.

Full FDIC list

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

I’ve dropped the second pic, the line is far enough along to be clear without a zoomed in view.

State AGs Rebel Against Obama Admin’s Attempt to Protect the Banks

It’s interesting, first you have Republican state Attorneys General objecting to principal write downs as a part of any settlement, and now you have Democratic AGs saying that they are not willing to sign off on an agreement that increasingly looks like another sop to the big banks and mortgage servicers:

The proposed global settlement for mortgage servicer fraud and abuse, put forward by a working group representing all 50 state Attorneys General, received some high-profile dissent on Wednesday. Republican AGs in four states – Kenneth Cuccinelli of Virginia, Greg Abbott of Texas, Pam Bondi of Florida and Alan Wilson of South Carolina – objected to the term sheet that contains the proposed deal, which would reinforce that servicers follow the law, change some aspects of mortgage servicing and potentially create a quota of loan modifications and principal reductions which top servicers would have to meet. The settlement, the quartet said, “appears to reach well beyond the scope of our enforcement role, and, in some instances, far exceeds the scope of the misconduct which was the subject of our original investigation.” And they specifically reject principal write-downs as part of any deal, saying that it creates a moral hazard for borrowers who fail to pay their mortgages. Republican AGs in three other states – Oklahoma, Alabama and Nebraska – have raised their objections to the lead AG on the settlement, Tom Miller of Iowa, as well.

But Republican AGs are not the only ones with concerns about the settlement. Democrats in AG offices across the country find themselves uncomfortable with the deal, in particular the speed with which it is being ushered through the system and the lack of clarity over what claims they would have to relinquish under the deal. The opposition from both sides puts into jeopardy a quick resolution to the investigation, which is being pushed hard by the White House, possibly as a means to kickstart the ailing housing market.

You see,the AG taking point on this Democratic Iowa AG Tom Miller, appears to be a stalking horse for the Obama administration, which has bought big, into extend and pretend as a way to save the banks and the housing crisis, and you have Republicans who oppose anything that will help distressed homeowners, and you have Democrats who think that the fact that there has been no formal investigation, no subpoenas, and no specifics on what specific malfeasance that they would give a “get out of jail free” card to the banks.

The thing is, you need more than 35 of the AGs to sign off on this, and you need all of them from the large or hard-hit states (FL, CA, NV, NY, TX, AZ off the top of my head) for you to have a meaningful settlement here.

Yves Smith is right on her assessment of the settlement as it currently stands:

As we indicated, if this deal falls apart, or Obama merely comes up with a Potemkin program that fails to forestall state AG action, the public will be better served. The evidence is that enough judges still care about the rule of law that more and more bank abuses will come to light if the authorities leave matters to the courts.

I’m not worried about a, “Potemkin program that fails to forestall state AG action,” I’m worried about a, “Potemkin program that succeeds in forestalling state AG action,” because the issue is not paperwork problems.

The issue is that there is extensive, pervasive, and systemic fraud, and it is not just against the homeowners, but it is promulgated against the holders of the mortgage backed securities as well, who lose as the servicers rake in big fees during a foreclosure.

Should the Obama administration once again choose Wall Street over Main Street, and use supremacy claims like those favored by the thoroughly corrupt OCC to prevent investigations, we will all be worse off, and not just because Barack Obama and Eric “Place” Hold have made a mockery of the rule of law.

Without a thorough accounting of what has gone on, it will happen again … and again … and again … .