Month: April 2015

In Space, No One Can Hear You File a Workplace Complaint

Which explains why Amazon chief Jeff Bezos is getting into the rocket business:

Blue Origin, a startup space company owned by chief Jeff Bezos, launched an experimental suborbital spaceship from Texas, the first in a series of test flights to develop commercial unmanned and passenger spaceflight services, the company said on Thursday.

The New Shepard vehicle blasted off on Wednesday from Blue Origin’s test facility near Van Horn, Texas, and rose to an altitude of 58 miles (93 km) before the capsule separated and parachuted back to Earth.

“Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return,” Bezos said in a statement.

The descent of the liquid hydrogen- and liquid oxygen-fueled rocket, however, was not successful.

“We lost pressure in our hydraulic system on descent,” Bezos noted. “Fortunately, we’ve already been in work for some time on an improved hydraulic system … We’ll be ready to fly again soon.”

Who cares about the landing? 

After the astronauts have done their job, they are not Bezos’s concern, just like the employees in the Amazon warehouses have to wait unpaid in long lines to punch in and out.

The New New Republic is Much Better than the Old One.

This was an Actual TNR Cover

If just because the old one was run by a racist who would have directed the magazine write something about white anxiety in Baltimore, while the post Marty Peretz version actually calls out the Washington Post‘s Baltimore PD source as a liar:


Ever since we first saw citizen video evidence of his arrest shortly after it happened and learned of the fatal injuries he suffered, we’ve all been wondering exactly what happened to Gray. Up until last night, we only know that Gray suffered some kind of “forceful trauma” that nearly severed his spine and crushed his voice box; we also learned he received no medical treatment from the officers on hand. But on Wednesday night, the Washington Post published a report that stemmed from that police leak, containing the alleged account of a prisoner who had been placed in the same police van as Gray after his arrest. The unnamed prisoner, who is still in jail, could not see Gray in the van—yet according to the Post, he told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself.” The Post story hadn’t been published for more than an hour before local journalists like WBAL’s Jayne Miller began debunking it, saying that it didn’t match her earlier reporting: Police commissioner Anthony Batts told media last Thursday that the second prisoner in the van said that Gray was “mostly quiet” and that there was no evidence that Gray was causing himself any harm. “We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord,” said Jason Downs, a Gray family attorney. “We question the accuracy of the police reports we’ve seen thus far, including the police report that says Mr. Gray was arrested without force or incident.”

Let’s entertain this notion, for a moment, that Gray had decided to injure himself or end his life over an arrest that began with an errant look at an officer, or because he happened to be carrying a switchblade. Is it realistic to believe he would have succeeded to this tragic degree? Whoever at the Baltimore Police Department leaked this clearly relied upon us not understanding how much physical force is required to nearly sever one’s own spine and crush a voice box, all while handcuffed. One doctor told the Baltimore Sun that Gray’s injuries were more consistent with those seen from high-speed vehicle crashes. The van made several stops while he was in it, but did not crash even at a low speed.

Granted, this wasn’t the first time someone tried to explain away what common sense tells us was police brutality. Conservative outlets had circulated nonsense about Gray having a pre-existing spinal condition that required surgery days before his arrest. But now we have the Baltimore Police Department, using the Post as an uncritical conduit, trolling the public and the media. Yes, that seems unwise in light of the violent unrest we’ve seen this week. Far more disturbing than a question of their policing strategy, however, is what this leak indicates about this department and the answers it’s willing to offer.

No matter how many shouts are heard or windows smashed, the Baltimore police have asserted that they control the narrative, and that they alone determine what we get to know about why Gray died. They have no respect for Baltimore’s anger. That’s a lot more chilling to me than teenagers tossing bricks.

The language is a trifle florid, but this is also much better than what the “Old” New Republic would written, which would have at its focus comforting the comfortable.

This is F%$#ing Brutal

Part 1

Part 2

Jon Stewart interviewed Judith Miller, one of the most egregious propagandists in American journalism, and he took her apart.

You need to watch the whole thing, but Stewart’s statement to towards the end of the interview gives one a sense of how Stewart gave Miller a bad time:

We’re obviously never going to see eye-to-eye on itI appreciate you coming on the program. These discussions always make me incredibly sad because they point to institutional failure at the highest levels and no one will take responsibility for it, and they pass the buck to every individual but themselves. It’s sad.

Miller came off as pathetic and evasive, which pretty much matches her career as a “Journalist”.

Nice Job of Abusing Your Interns

Jonathan Chait decided to determine how many times that conservative legacy admission William Kristol invoked Hitler, Churchill, Chamberlain and Munich:

Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, writing in opposition to the Iran deal recently, observed, “One is reminded — as one so often is these days — of Churchill’s great speech in Commons after Munich … ” It is true that Kristol is often reminded of Churchill and Munich these days. This may not tell us anything about the current situation with Iran, however, since Kristol is reminded of Churchill and Munich on a great many days. It is a historic reference he has used to explain a great many episodes.

I recently asked New York interns Claire Landsbaum and Claire Voon to compile a list of Kristol’s public references to the Munich agreement and its main players. This research ordeal, presented in reverse chronological order, represents the sort of character-building exercise, I am sure Kristol would agree, that today’s youth badly need.

I’m sorry, I think that you are torturing Claire Landsbaum and Claire Voon.

Forcing them to read everything that Bill Kristol has written back to at least 1997 constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Free Speech for Thee, and Not for Me

It looks like the Supreme Court has finally found a limit to campaign donations, limits on soliciting donations by candidates for Judgeships:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld state laws that bar elected judges from asking for money to support their campaigns.

In a 5-4 decision, the court rejected a free-speech claim brought by a Florida judge.

“Judges are not politicians, even when they come to the bench by way of the ballot,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “A state may assure its people that judges will apply the law without fear or favor — and without having personally asked anyone for money.”

The decision marks one of the few times the high court has rejected a free-speech claim involving politics and campaigning. Roberts split from the court’s four conservative justices to uphold the Florida law.

Rick Hasen, an election law expert at UC Irvine, called the ruling a surprise.

“This is a huge win for those who support reasonable limits on judicial elections. And getting Roberts on this side of the issue is surprising, welcome and momentous,” he said.

In the last decade, critics of judicial elections, including retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, have argued that the public’s confidence in judges is being undercut by big-money campaigns. Even worse, these critics say, is having judges personally solicit contributions from people and companies who may have cases before the courts.

Until Wednesday’s ruling, however, the Supreme Court had moved in the direction of allowing judges to campaign freely. In 2002, the justices struck down state bar rules that had prohibited elected judges from taking public stands on controversial issues.

The Supreme Court has been remarkably dismissive of the idea that campaign donations are corrupting, but when they look at their own profession, suddenly, it’s an issue.

Seriously.  How about connecting the f%$#ing dots, you black robed morons?

And Maryland has Among the Worst “Police Protection” Laws in the Nation

A package of police reform bills that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is scheduled to sign into law today, in part as a response to the death of 25-year-old Baltimore resident Freddie Gray, was weakened under political pressure from Maryland police unions, a major force in state politics.

The bills will allow police to wear body cameras, increase the liability cap for lawsuits against government employees, and encourage the state to collect more data on police behavior.

But more substantial reforms, including legislation to add a civilian review process and to have state prosecutors investigate all killings by police, were shot down during a legislative hearing in Annapolis earlier this year.

So, despite the new measures, procedures for prosecuting police misconduct in Maryland will remain the same.

A recent report from the ACLU of Maryland found that at least 109 people died in police encounters in Maryland from 2010 to 2014.

Freddie Gray’s death — which came after his spinal cord was severed when he was in police custody — has become the latest national symbol of brutal policing in African-American communities, and has called particular attention to the poor relations between police and residents in Baltimore. Gray’s funeral sparked riots in Baltimore last night.


Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights, one of the strongest such statutes in the nation, is a considerable barrier to police reform. The LEOBR, enacted in 1974, shields officers from oversight by establishing a narrow standard for reviewing police misconduct and limiting the ability of victims to press charges. Current LEOBR law states that officers may not be questioned by their superiors for 10 days following an incident. And once an internal investigation is underway, disciplinary action can only happen after a recommendation by a hearing board comprised of the officer’s colleagues.


Though emotional witnesses testified about incidents of police violence and racism, legislators remained skeptical.

“I left Missouri 29 years ago. I live in Maryland now,” said Del. Deborah Rey, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Rey questioned the need for police reform bills because the sponsors cited abuses in “Ferguson, Missouri, not Maryland.”

When a witnesss interjected to say that the failure to prosecute Ferguson police officers was a perfect example of the problems surrounding police oversight, Rey cut him off. “We’re not going to adjudicate Ferguson,” she said.

Deligate Ray, perhaps we should adjudicate Baltimore?

Unfortunately, until some bit of police excess creates riots, there is simply no political will to make police accountable to the laws that they are charged with enforcing.

And You Wonder Why I Do Not Believe This………

Someone in the Baltimore City state security apparatus has leaked a report that Freddie Gray intentionally injured himself to the Washington Post:

A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.

The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.

The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.

Yeah, it’s clear that Mr. Gray snapped his neck and crushed his larynx all by himself.

This reminds me a LOT of that cigar video that the Ferguson police released, or the videos of the victim that were recently released by the Tulsa police department in an attempt to justify the shooting by their septuagenarian “reserve deputy” sugar-daddy.

Joan F%$#ing Walsh is Calling Obama a Liar?

Joan Walsh, former editor-in-chief for Salon magazine, has been a long time, and vehement supporter of Barack Obama.

Well, she just called the President a liar on the Trans Pacific Partnership:

I’m on record declaring that the “split” in the Democratic Party over economic populism has been over-hyped by the media, the GOP and conservative Democrats. Democrats have way more in common, when it comes to addressing growing income inequality and declining social mobility, than differences.

But the divisions over the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) are real, and they’re getting ugly. President Obama has apparently decided reasoning and lobbying isn’t going to be enough to win over skeptics; he’s lately resorted to personal insults. Telling Chris Matthews Tuesday that “I love Elizabeth [Warren]…but she’s wrong on this” was a big wet kiss, compared to what came later.

On Thursday Obama compared critics of the deal to Sarah Palin and other wingnuts who peddled “death panel” lies about the Affordable Care Act, in a speech to supporters at Organizing For America, the offshoot of his campaign juggernaut Obama For America. He escalated his attacks when he jumped on a conference call with reporters on Friday.

“The one that gets on my nerves the most is the notion that this is a ‘secret’ deal,” Obama said. “Every single one of the critics who I hear saying, ‘this is a secret deal,’ or send out emails to their fundraising base saying they’re working to prevent this secret deal, can walk over today and read the text of the agreement. There’s nothing secret about it.” He singled out “unions” among the wrongheaded critics of his TPP plans.

I confess: I haven’t paid close enough attention to the TPP controversy. But when the president started attacking Warren and unions so personally, I got interested. He’s saying they’re either stupid, or lying, or both. It reminded me of the dark days before the 2010 midterm “shellacking,” when Press Secretary Robert Gibbs attacked “the professional left,” and Vice President Joe Biden told progressives to “stop whining.” That didn’t work; the election was a disaster.

The anti-progressive rhetoric is getting uglier – and this time, some of it’s coming from the president. The AFL-CIO’s Thea Lee has worked on global trade issues for 25 years, and “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it quite as bad as this,” she says.

Sure, both sides are using strong rhetoric, but the president’s attack on his critics as “dishonest” would imply that he’s the one telling the truth. In fact, here are three big ways the president is lamentably shading the truth when it comes to TPP.

Secrecy: It’s true that members of Congress can personally “walk over” and “read the text” of the agreement. Alone, without staff, and without taking notes. And they’re prohibited by law from discussing the details with the media or their constituents.  The administration has deemed the negotiations “classified.”


So that’s what Warren means by a “secret deal.” She and Sen. Sherrod Brown wrote to the president this weekend asking that he declassify the latest negotiated text and release it, before demanding a “fast track” vote on the agreement.

Marginalizing opposition as Warren and “the unions.” Warren is joined by Democrats ranging from frequent ally Brown to pro-business voices like Sen. Chuck Schumer to moderate Sen. Bob Casey. While the president hoped to win support from the Congressional Black Caucus, skeptics remain. And yes, labor has been a loud voice against the deal – along with the rest of the Democratic base, and then some.

The coalition opposing TPP includes the National Resources Defense Council, Doctors without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation; critics of certain aspects of the likely deal include New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and the AARP. They are concerned about the way TPP could affect not only manufacturing jobs, but drug prices, intellectual property, environmental regulation and food safety. Obama is facing a remarkably broad-based pushback to his plans, and his effort to isolate Warren and unions is disingenuous.

Denying the vast, pro-corporate power of the “Investor State Dispute Settlement” panel. The wrangling between Warren and the White House over TPP isn’t new. Ever since her March 4 op-ed denouncing the “Investor State Dispute Settlement” provisions of the trade deal, frankly, administration officials have been trying to make Warren look a little batty.


“I think if you could get my colleagues to be honest, on the Democratic side,” Sen. Sherrod Brown told the Huffington Post, “they will say they’ve been talked to, approached, lobbied and maybe cajoled by more cabinet members on this issue than any issue since Barack Obama’s been president…I wish they put the same effort into minimum wage. I wish they put the same effort into Medicare at 55. I wish they put the same effort into some consumer strengthening on Dodd-Frank.”

So far, though, the pressure hasn’t worked – and now the administration is distorting the truth. The president can do better than this – and he’s likely going to have to. Hillary Clinton shouldn’t take bad advice from the media about arbitrarily “distancing” herself from the Obama administration. But this is a real conflict for the 2016 frontrunner. And on this one, she might have to choose between the president and much of the party base.

The statements are remarkable primarily because of its source.

Joan Walsh is someone I would describe as an Obamabot, and if he’s lost her on this issue, this is an indication of a significant shift in attitude among Obama supporters.

Great. Now Bees are Going to Have Nic Fits

It appears that part of the problem with the  neonicotinoid pesticides,  and bees is that bees react in the same way to the pesticides as a smoker does to nicotine, and preferentially select contaminated nectar.  (Research articles is here and here)

This has the effect of increasing their exposure to these pesticides, which have been tied to colony collapse disorder:

Bees prefer food containing neonicotinoid pesticides, research suggests.

They may “get a buzz” from the nicotine-like chemicals in the same way smokers crave cigarettes, according to scientists at Newcastle University.

The experiments raise the question of whether bees can be exposed to harmful doses of pesticides because they are attracted to the chemicals.

Another study found neonicotinoids had a negative effect on bees in the wild.

The Crop Protection Association, which represents pesticide producers, questioned the findings of the studies, published in the journal, Nature.
Scientific controversy

Bees are in decline in Europe and North America due to a number of factors, including pesticides, habitat loss and diseases.

In 2013, the EU imposed a two-year ban on using three neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops amid concern about their effects on bees.

Neonicotinoids contain synthetic chemicals similar to nicotine, which as a plant toxin is damaging to insects.

Neuroscientists at Newcastle University tested whether honeybees and bumblebees preferred food containing neonicotinoids over untreated food in the laboratory.

They were surprised to find that sugar solution containing two of three neonicotinoid pesticides appeared to be attractive to bees and “may act like a drug” targeting the brain.

This sh%$ is getting very real.

We need to stop pandering to the Ag chemical companies of the world, and review these chemicals with a lot more rigor.

And in the Justice Department………

Eric Holder’s DOJ has defended the police for every excessive use of force suit that has made it to the Supreme Court:

Teresa Sheehan was alone in her apartment at a mental health center, clutching what her lawyers said was a small bread knife and demanding to be left alone. San Francisco police officers, responding to a call from a social worker, forced open the door, blinded her with pepper spray and shot her.

It was the kind of violent police confrontation that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has frequently criticized in Cleveland; Albuquerque; Ferguson, Mo.; and beyond. But last month, when Ms. Sheehan’s civil rights lawsuit reached the Supreme Court, the Justice Department backed the police, saying that a lower court should have given more weight to the risks that the officers faced.

At the Supreme Court, where the limits of police power are established, Mr. Holder’s Justice Department has supported police officers every time an excessive-force case has made its way to arguments. Even as it has opened more than 20 civil rights investigations into local law enforcement practices, the Justice Department has staked out positions that make it harder for people to sue the police and that give officers more discretion about when to fire their guns.

Police groups see Mr. Holder as an ally in that regard, and that pattern has rankled civil rights lawyers, who say the government can have a far greater effect on policing by interpreting law at the Supreme Court than through investigations of individual departments.

“There is an inherent conflict between people at the Justice Department trying to stop police abuses and other people at the Justice Department convincing the Supreme Court that police abuses should be excused,” said Ronald L. Kuby, a Manhattan civil rights lawyer.

The department should not be routinely defending cops against allegations of excessive force before the Supreme Court.  It should be evaluating each case on its own merits, and making the decision only then.

It’s current path is does not serve the citizenry.

What Part of “Peace Officer” Don’t You Get?

Protests in Baltimore were relatively peaceful last night, and now we are getting reports police escalated last night’s events by penning up the teenagers who were at the Mondawmin Mall:

After Baltimore police and a crowd of teens clashed near the Mondawmin Mall in northwest Baltimore on Monday afternoon, news reports described the violence as a riot triggered by kids who had been itching for a fight all day. But in interviews with Mother Jones and other media outlets, teachers and parents maintain that police actions inflamed a tense-but-stable situation.


When school let out that afternoon, police were in the area equipped with full riot gear. According to eyewitnesses in the Mondawmin neighborhood, the police were stopping busses and forcing riders, including many students who were trying to get home, to disembark. Cops shut down the local subway stop. They also blockaded roads near the Mondawmin Mall and Frederick Douglass High School, which is across the street from the mall, and essentially corralled young people in the area. That is, they did not allow the after-school crowd to disperse.

Meghann Harris, a teacher at a nearby school, described on Facebook what happened:

Police were forcing busses to stop and unload all their passengers. Then, [Frederick Douglass High School] students, in huge herds, were trying to leave on various busses but couldn’t catch any because they were all shut down. No kids were yet around except about 20, who looked like they were waiting for police to do something. The cops, on the other hand, were in full riot gear, marching toward any small social clique of students…It looked as if there were hundreds of cops.

The kids were “standing around in groups of 3-4,” Harris said in a Facebook message to Mother Jones. “They weren’t doing anything. No rock throwing, nothing…The cops started marching toward groups of kids who were just milling about.”

A teacher at Douglass High School, who asked not to be identified, tells a similar story: “When school was winding down, many students were leaving early with their parents or of their own accord.” Those who didn’t depart early, she says, were stranded. Many of the students still at school at that point, she notes, wanted to get out of the area and avoid any Purge-like violence. Some were requesting rides home from teachers. But by now, it was difficult to leave the neighborhood. “I rode with another teacher home,” this teacher recalls, “and we had to route our travel around the police in riot gear blocking the road… The majority of my students thought what was going to happen was stupid or were frightened at the idea. Very few seemed to want to participate in ‘the purge.'”

A parent who picked up his children from a nearby elementary school, says via Twitter, “The kids stood across from the police and looked like they were asking them ‘why can’t we get on the buses’ but the police were just gazing…Majority of those kids aren’t from around that neighborhood. They NEED those buses and trains in order to get home.” He continued: “If they would’ve let them children go home, yesterday wouldn’t have even turned out like that.”

Meg Gibson, another Baltimore teacher, described a similar scene to Gawker: “The riot police were already at the bus stop on the other side of the mall, turning buses that transport the students away, not allowing students to board. They were waiting for the kids.…Those kids were set up, they were treated like criminals before the first brick was thrown.” With police unloading busses, and with the nearby metro station shut down, there were few ways for students to clear out.


Mondawmin Mall is where lots of students catch the bus, when you shut down MTA how the heck they gonna get home? @BaltimorePolice
— Jay (@Ms_lionesss) April 27, 2015

It is the job of police to maintain the peace. It is why they sometimes are called peace officers.

The police are the professionals in this situation, and they must act professionally.

The expectation of professionalism is why they are get to use a gun, a badge, and tools like tear gas and pepper spray.

It means, for example, that they need to use the appropriate tools to manage a situation, and not, for example, throw bricks back at the protesters:

We’re about to look now. Here’s a video of police throwing rocks back at protesters:

This is not in indicator of professionalism in a police force.

The rioting last night was foreseeable given the behavior of the police.

They presented themselves in an overly confrontational way to teenagers, they then made impossible for people to leave the area.

While the behavior of the protesters is reprehensible, the behavior of the police can only be described as extreme malpractice.

There are a number of senior cops on the Baltimore PD who needs to be fired over this.

Republican Family Values

It’s the hypocrisy, stupid:

Anti-Gay North Dakota State Rep Caught Sending Dick Pics On The Grindr, Surprise LOL

by Evan Hurst, Apr 28 2:00 pm 2015

America, meet your newest closet case anti-gay Republican lawmaker! He’s a North Dakota state representative, and he is not in the closet anymore, due to the fact that he’s been outed for voting against SB 2279, a routine bill designed to protect gays and lesbians, among others, from discrimination (which failed, for the third time). The representative’s name is “Randy Boehning,” and while we are tempted to just finish the post right there, we will tell you the story instead:

State Rep. Randy Boehning, a 52-year-old Republican legislator from Fargo, says a Capitol employee told him a fellow lawmaker vowed to out him as gay if he continued to vote against bills granting gays legal protections against discrimination. […]

The exchange came to light when Dustin Smith, a 21-year-old Bismarck man with no known connections to the Capitol, contacted The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead earlier this month, saying he recognized Boehning from a gay dating smartphone app called Grindr. Chatting under the user name Top Man!, Boehning sent Smith sexually suggestive messages and, in the early morning hours of March 12, an unsolicited photo of his penis, according to exchanges reviewed by The Forum.

Smith added, “how can you discriminate against the person you’re trying to pick up?” Good point, sir! It’s very rude, to want to f%$# the gays in a good way in your off time, and then go to work the next day and f%$# the gays in a bad way, by voting against their (AND YOUR OWN) rights. This is why we have the Barney Frank rule, which says that if a politician is known to be gay, and also votes and campaigns against LGBT people, then they are fair game for outing and stuff.

Has anyone told Jon Stewart?

Think of the children!!!!

TPP Dayenu

For the gentiles out there, Dayenu is a song that sung at the Passover Seder. (My family’s Minhag [tradition] is that it is sung in the key of “off”).

It describes the exodus from Egypt, and ends each stanza with “Dayenu”, which means, “It would be enough”.

In any case, I will reproduce part of the TPP trade deal Dayenu:

1. The TPP makes it easier to offshore more jobs now performed in the United States.

2. If the TPP just made it easier to offshore more jobs and did not also generate increasing downward pressure on wages, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

3. If the TPP just generated increasing downward pressure on wages and did not also empower another 25,000 foreign corporations to use Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals to gut our net neutrality, environmental, health, labor and safety laws and regulations, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

4. If the TPP just empowered another 25,000 foreign corporations to use investor state tribunals to gut our net neutrality, environmental, health, labor and safety laws and regulations and did not also give big pharma new monopoly patent rights, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

5. If the TPP just gave big pharma new monopoly patent rights, and did not also provide for rolling back financial regulations put in place after the crash of 2008, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

6. If the TPP just rolled back financial regulations and did not also provide for banning buy local and buy domestic policies, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

7. If the TPP just provided for banning buy local and buy domestic policies and did not also undermine climate change and energy policies by constraining the permissible policies governments can use to implement them, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

8. If the TPP just undermined climate change and energy policies by constraining the permissible policies governments can use to implement them and did not also use an anti-democratic fast track process that gives Representatives and Senators no space to represent the range of people they represent, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

9. If the TPP did not just use an anti-democratic fast track process that gives Representatives and Senators no space to represent the range of people they represent, and did not also potentially prevent the Treasury from replacing the practice of issuing Treasury debt to fund deficit spending with alternative funding methods, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

Read the rest.

Bullsh%$ Bingo, Education Edition

I understand that there are a number of different views on how education might change over the next few decades, but this melange of incomprehensible argle bargle that serves as a justification for paying slave wages and breaking teachers unions.

Basically, he is describing the private equity wet dream for charter schools:

Whenever a college student asks me, a veteran high-school English educator, about the prospects of becoming a public-school teacher, I never think it’s enough to say that the role is shifting from “content expert” to “curriculum facilitator.” Instead, I describe what I think the public-school classroom will look like in 20 years, with a large, fantastic computer screen at the front, streaming one of the nation’s most engaging, informative lessons available on a particular topic. The “virtual class” will be introduced, guided, and curated by one of the country’s best teachers (a.k.a. a “super-teacher”), and it will include professionally produced footage of current events, relevant excerpts from powerful TedTalks, interactive games students can play against other students nationwide, and a formal assessment that the computer will immediately score and record.

I tell this college student that in each classroom, there will be a local teacher-facilitator (called a “tech”) to make sure that the equipment works and the students behave. Since the “tech” won’t require the extensive education and training of today’s teachers, the teacher’s union will fall apart, and that “tech” will earn about $15 an hour to facilitate a class of what could include over 50 students. This new progressive system will be justified and supported by the American public for several reasons: Each lesson will be among the most interesting and efficient lessons in the world; millions of dollars will be saved in reduced teacher salaries; the “techs” can specialize in classroom management; performance data will be standardized and immediately produced (and therefore “individualized”); and the country will finally achieve equity in its public school system.


I’ve started recognizing a common thread to the latest trends in teaching. Flipped learning, blending learning, student-centered learning, project-based learning, and even self-organized learning—they all marginalize the teacher’s expertise. Or, to put it more euphemistically, they all transform the teacher into a more facilitative role.

I believe that a good adjective to describe this vision is, “Dystopian“.

A good adjective to describe the article is, “Incomprehensible”.

A good summary is, “Education changes ……… Because ……… Internet.”

The Technical Term is Lying Sack of Sh%$………

In this case, the term can be applied to the President of the Maryland Police Union:

Protests escalated in Baltimore on Saturday over the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a serious spinal cord injury while in police custody. The mysterious injury raised suspicions that he was taken on a “rough ride,” in which officers deliberately drive erratically to injure unbuckled and handcuffed passengers. But the president of Maryland’s police union told ThinkProgress he is unaware of the unsanctioned police practice.

In a word, bullsh%$.

“Rough rides”, a procedure where a person is placed in a paddy wagon, handcuffed but not buckled in, and then subjected to a ride that consists of sudden starts, stops, and abrupt maneuvers, and so tossing them around the inside of the vehicle.

I understand that Mr. Canales has a responsibility to represent his union members, but this sort of bald faced lie, much like the boneheaded statement by Gene Ryan, president of the Baltimore FOP that the earlier peaceful protests were akin to a lynching, are transparently false.

What’s more these statements are clearly inflammatory, and so both of these folks served to put their own members at risk.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that term before,” Maryland Fraternal Order of Police President Vince Canales said when asked about the event that may have caused Gray’s death.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts acknowledged on Friday that Gray’s injuries could have been caused by a “rough ride,” but said the investigation into the circumstances of his death will continue even after the police findings are given to prosecutors on Wednesday.

A Baltimore Sun investigation found that Gray is not the only person to emerge from a Baltimore police van with serious injuries — others have won multi-million judgments after suing the police department for their injuries. But despite the repeated brutal incidents, Canales and others closely entwined with the city police are still unaware of the practice.

Baltimore deputy public defender Natalie Finegar told the Baltimore Sun she has no personal knowledge of “rough rides,” but others in her office are aware of the practice. “It is common knowledge among public defenders that [the Baltimore Police Department] has paid out significant judgments in ‘rough ride’ and other cases,” James Johnston, a Baltimore public defender, told the Sun. “In my experience, it is not uncommon for clients to suffer injuries during an arrest.”

When asked about a series of cases of police brutality in Baltimore, Canales presented a very different view from advocates who say the recent incidents in Ferguson, New York City, Cleveland and elsewhere were part of a larger systematic problem with police.

Instead of banning any particular police practices, Canales said each incident should be treated on a “case-by-case” basis because “everyone responds differently to different situations.” But reports from across the country have proved otherwise. In Baltimore, an investigation from 2014 found that the police department has paid around $5.7 million to more than 100 people since 2011 in lawsuits claiming officers beat up mostly African American suspects.

Maybe police officers should turf out Vince Canales and Gene Ryan at the next union election, because they sure as hell aren’t serving their members or the general public.

Bad Day at the Office

This is one of the finest examples of a correction ever:

Correction: This post initially attributed the song “Barbara Ann” to The Beatles. It is, in fact, a Beach Boys song. The author of this post would blame his relative youth, but as a fan of the oldies, this would be dishonest. He would instead like to extend his sincerest apology for this egregious error and promise that it will not be repeated.

Clarification: As Ed Morrissey notes, the song was originally written and sung by The Regents and later covered by the Beach Boys. So the author of this post is clearly having one of those days.

He was writing how bombing Iran is incredibly unpopular, even among Republicans.

In the process, he writes about how McCain sang “Bomb Iran” to the tune of “Barbara Ann”, and completely screws up the provenance of the song.

Normally, I reserve the, “Bad Day at the Office,” hed for vehicular crashes, but I think that Aaron Blake’s correction rated this title as well.

H/t Jim Romenesko.