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I wanted to put some thoughts down on this, since it has begun at least locally to become a major thrust of conversation… Has America lost its Exceptionalism?

Be wary,  that is a very general question, and the wisest answer so far to date, has been Rick Jensen’s:  “Which definition of American Exceptionalism are we going to use?”

“If you define American Exceptionalism as Marilyn B. Young does i.e.: Liberals whose beliefs changed toward an exceptionalism that calls for imposing democracy worldwide, then, yes, the theory is likely. If the definition is Jay Lovestone’s (as in Lovestone v Stalin), then most people would likely agree with American Exceptionalism as our natural resources, strength, and capitalism prevents communism from being overwhelmingly popular. If you choose de Tocqueville’s original definition, then to deny American Exceptionalism is to deny the historical facts of a largely Puritanical population taking advantage of their opportunities to engage in commerce, worship as they choose, and live in a country whose government functions as a representation of the people, not of the ruling, royal class.”

So all “Exceptionalism” arguments are circular, because we are comparing bananas with apples and oranges, to see they all are better than watermelons… (they aren’t; watermelons rule; btw)

But,… what if we made up a new definition, one in which America was defined as being its people’s right to self determination?…. Simply put, it steals from our Declaration of Independence and states along Jeffersonian lines, that people have the right to go in the direction in which they want.

If that becomes one’s definition, then not only is our nation non-exceptional, but it is working hard to become as unexceptional as possible.

At the crux of this change, is the probably this facet:  Those rights and values that used to be held up as true for people, have now been usurped by big business, or multi-national corporations…

One could take it one step further, that at one time America was exceptional… With a wide open frontier growing faster than regulating authorities could keep up, best practices could evolve and become powerful, before the squelching counter-force of the status quo could take its effect….

In real life, we are facing the return of the status quo, as being defined as ruled by an elite, in all that has changed over the last 14 years.  I would mark the tipping point (based on my viewing stand) as tipping in 2007… Other’s may use different markers and put their finger before or afterwards, but the playing field has seriously changed based on Conservative principles which originally emerged out of the 1994 Gingrich neo-Conservative movement… Some of the changes occurred through their emphasis on lack of regulation, some through their pro-financial legislation, and some through their Conservative Court decisions…

But all have been enacted to embrace restraints and control over democracy, by those landed class having tremendous amounts of money at their disposal.  Ironically, for them to have the freedoms expressed in the Declaration of Independence, they must suppress yours….

What we are looking at transpiring over just the past few years, is a return to a ruling class, just like in Ireland, where the subjects have no rights at all, and if any amenities are to be given, it is only to keep them alive to keep the profiteering economic engines continuing to spit out money for its owners…

A topic recently discussed here was Wal*mart and speculation that some corporate pressure would now be upcoming to re-invest a bit more of America’s resources back into food stamps because one of its landed-gentry (the Waltons) was now foundering.. in other words, it is deemed to be good landed-gentry policy to put the boot into ones people, but only as far until one feels the effect applied to oneself, and then and only then, does the pressure get let off.

Under old American thinking, that never could have happened.  The majority would revolt through elections and the landed gentry would be forced to pull the idea off the table until another opportunity.

In arguments of this structure and magnitude the future use of adjectives such as “good” and “bad” to describe the two sides, is misleading.  For in any type of disagreement, one always sees oneself as representing the good they wish to represent, and the other with opposing belief, sees them as evil…

Therefore a more thorough distinction must be used.  Rich and poor is too general and too relative.  The most accurate definition I can think of how to delineate the two opposing parties, is that one employed by the Wall Street activists of the 1% versus the 99%…  That is such a convenient piece of language.   Realistically, of course the area between 90-99% would be full of people who had some fingers in some pies on both sides… And quite probably a more accurate delineation would be to draw the line at the 15% mark, at which a very clear line evolves between being either self-sufficient, or a supplicant…  But, for reference primarily due to its common use, it just makes sense to continue using the 1%–99% divide.  That polarization helps illuminate the major discrepancies and make arguing points for each side, .. much easier.  .

What we have seen since the century mark passed us with no Y2K disaster….. is the 1% making giant inroads into our government, our communications, our economy, and our employment….

Money can do that.

If one is wealthy, one can a) hire people to craft legislation,  b) pander it through Congress and state legislatures surreptitiously attached to campaign contributions, and c) hire scholars to invent and trumpet the advantages of each of those bills.   This creates a one-sided argument against which no one is immune… Those too poor to pay cash, those too poor to take off work, those too tied down to drive down to Washington or one’s state capital, have their side eclipsed.  The legislator could be one of the most benign to the principles of the Constitution, but if he is lied to and provided glowing accounts of how his vote will resonate glowingly among all voters, without a contrarian opinion, he is doing whatever they say.

Not to absolve their blame, but it is just as if you, saw me every day and said “how are things going” and I said “not so good”, you’d feel concerned and want to help.  But on the other hand if you stood in a checkout line with a mom and two kids using WIC paper to get necessary nutrients, and asked… ” how are things going”,… their negative answer would roll off your back… Not because you are callous; but because you don’t know them.   Excessive wealth has insulated our Congress, in fact, I would go out on a limb and say it has insulated the entire DC belt-way.  They just don’t know what average America goes through anymore.

When your most pressing problem is that you were invited to two important functions and have to figure out which one to snub and turn down, your prowess of representing your constituents is in question…. You have effectively been insulated from your constituent’s priorities…  As long as big money is allowed to be involved, it will happen to all we send there.

Against this, one would think that our communications industry would be implored to exploit for its own power, the divide between the ruling high gentry and the peasants supporting them.  Truth was, it WAS that way post-WWII. Perhaps their healthily dislike of the government came from seeing up close and personal it’s inefficiencies during the fog of WWII, but clear evaluations did take place inside our major media over the McCarthy Hearings, Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, and Welfare and Poverty. People always got a perspective different from the official government’s opinions.  And newspapers were far more partisan way back then, on both sides.

But big money bought them all. Big money owns them all.  Instead of competition, we have homogenization. with nothing ever wrong being pinned on big money…. We have arguments of why taxes need cut;  no one ever sees arguments of why they should be raised even though the paper receives 9 to 1 letters in favor of raising taxes… Our media no longer represents American thought;  it represents corporate mouthpieces, as was recently evidenced by NBC cutting away from the collapse of the USA to gargle over a troubled Justin Bieber in its networks competition over Neilsen ratings and getting the most “Likes” on Facebook..

When the reality of events shows Big Money in its correct light, the media does everything to discount it.  Whereas the media was once considered a courageous fourth element of government, it is now the house slave, whose whole survival depends upon the whim of his master… When one questions the slave if his master is a nice man, one can certainly pre-guess the only response one will get….

So when a wealthy power grab bill comes up in Congress, every media outlet sugar coats it.  UMMM Sugar Rush!!!! There is some good, there is no bad.  The top wealth has quenched all argument.  Of course the arguments burn inside of us.  Our frustrations grow.  For we see the reality.  But as in Eastern Germany, we tend to keep it too ourselves, since we must assume we are the only ones, and thinking such is dangerous…..

Besides government and communications, big wealth has taken over our economy.  When we sell low, they bought. They own everything.  When one owns everything, what is best for one, is not best for all others.  Hence, bundling securities in 2006-2007 which meant bundling very bad loans and selling them as very safe investments to all the world’s governments, was partaken without anyone having the right to answer, … “um did you say those were … “bad loans?”  

The how to “how this happened”, was that the very wealthy thorough their influence in Congress and through squelching all dissent in the media, were able to remove previous laws that required that risk to be disclosed.  There is a valid reason why such a deep crash never occurred in the interim between itself and the Great Depression.  It was illegal to do so.  But once pursuing those policies known to lead up to a great crash became unregulated and therefore legal,  guess what?  We got exactly the same result as when we tried it the last time….the 1920’s.

Other economic factors are its result of Big Wealth’s interference. Big wealth is the reason our college debt is too high.  Big wealth is the reason no new manufacturing investment is now taking place. Big wealth is the reason our government is cutting jobs instead of growing them.  Big Wealth is why your take home pay has gotten smaller, and now buys much less… Big Wealth is why Unions are less effective, being mostly illegal unless they apply by the tight rules Big Wealth has set for them…

But mostly all three of these came about by your fear of losing your job.  Big Wealth is your boss.  He may be your bosses’ bosses’ boss but Big Wealth controls you in your job.  Don’t believe me?  Just perform this test… Stand up in your next meeting and publicly say… “Occupied Wall Street was right about everything and dead on….”

i’m not going to dare you to do so, because I already know the answer.  You can’t say that, unless you don’t care whether you work there or not.   “Freedom is just another word… for nothing left to loose”…  If you have nothing to lose, only then are you free to speak your mind.  If you stand to lose your job for doing so, face it, you are silent for that reason…  If you are afraid to speak your mind, then essentually all your freedom is gone.  Stripped away. It may exist on paper, but your freedom today is not guaranteed in any way.

Sad thing… is that it used to be.  In my lifetime, one could keep one’s job and be a communist…  whatever…. Son, as long as you doing your work?  Then that’s ok.

But today one can never say that at one’s employment: “I agree with Occupy Wall Street”.  , for it is full of spies.One cannot even rant it on Facebook even jokingly, without being kicked out of ones job.  Our nation has lost its way.  Everything is controlled by the 1%.”

Now I’m sure some people will take issue with this, and do their best to weave it into whatever they want to weave it into.. That’s fine.  That is what the 1% is paying them to do and I am relatively confident that those people will stick out like sore thumbs for being the toadies they are: supplicants to the teats of excessive wealth.

If America is destined to go the way of all other past nations, then let it only speak in one voice and become a mouthpiece for its landed gentry, I can do nothing to stop it.  All I can do is point out, that today, the America we have at our disposal, is no different than that of ancient empires, than that of Roman control,  than that of medieval warlords, then that of imperialistic Europe, then that of Hirohito, than that of Soviet Russia, or even that of our own Guilded Age whose excesses led to the creation of the New Deal….

In fact,  I would go so far to stretch out on a limb that the current public perception of America’s Exceptionalism, was founded  upon the structures first put in place by the New Deal… I know that opens a theory up to a whole battery of counter-arguments, and most of them I have used myself to test out this hypothesis.  But after all the dust has settled, I have still to admit (and you probably will too), that with historical analysis outweighing whatever theoretical arguments get dashed against it,  the New Deal worked for 70 years until we started taking it apart…

With it gone, we are not exceptional anymore. We are just the same as everyone else.  A 1% ruling over the 99% peasant class beneath them…. The same as King George’s Great Britain. The same as Robespierre’s France. The same as Caesar.  The same as Babylon’s king… The same as the ancient Pharaoh….

None whose empires are still around today.  None today hold onto their power they once possessed.  With our expansionist opportunities now dimming, with the advent of a disturbingly stupid but powerful upper class, with our allowing them to usurp our edifices of democracy and force them to rule in their favor, not ours, America is now at a crossroads.  We can either choose to become comfortable slaves, grateful for the shelter, food, and Super-Bowls thrown for our benefit, … or we can choose to become the masters of our own destiny, and accept whatever that may befall.   The latter option worked best in our past. The later option was the Golden time of American Exceptionalism from which we have now removed ourselves…..

Should we go back?  Or accept the incremental slavery slowly wrapping its tentacles around us?

If my words ring hollow, then our time has already passed.  If you feel the same, then time is short.  It must change 2014, and in 2016 must make it even more clear…  After all, 2012 was writing on the wall…  America is only exceptional because its people are exceptional.  Its everyday simple people who wake up every morning and go to bed every night. That theme rolls through all the definitions of Exceptionalism listed above at this article’s very beginning. But when those people no longer own their nation, our fate will be sealed… and it won’t be pleasant….

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Award For Delaware's Most Influental P/P/or T of The Year
The Golden Flush Award
/Click Image for Past Winners

Usually this is an after thought…” Oh, wow, year’s over, let’s get a person of the year”…  And then once we elect one,  we go… “holy crap… we totally forgot so and so….”

So to try to stir up some old simmering coals of memory, both mine and others, and perhaps even to (heaven forbid) get some debate going in the blog sphere, I thought I’d make an initial run on Thanksgiving Week, and then add people into the nominating category as others mention various ones I should kick myself for forgetting.

It will also force me to review the year which is something I rarely do… because face it, as a human being, I am slave of the moment….  If I did this last year, come December 14th the entire world would have been turned upside down and all the old priorities of 2012,  would in one day become trivial….

And so starting early gives me the chance to make the argument for each of those I decide to enroll with your kind recommendations included….

Julius Cephus:  Particularly this one man organized and stopped an end run around the Port of Wilmington.  The Kinder Morgan deal did not go through, and the Wilmington Port is bustling like never before…   Kinder Morgan was to strip the union of power, and drop the rates of pay, further dampening the economy of Wilmington proper.  It was also the first defeat of a Lavine-Markell development project, .. Fisker and Bloom had gone forward without a hitch.  Julius and other’s push back resulted in a General Assembly motion that stated they, not the governor, had final approval. It was the first time we were exposed to the current Governor’s manipulations.  They were to play a significant part across this year’s tapestry.

Steve Newton:  A blogger who has written infrequently, but effectively. His piece on SB 51  is what alerted us to the end run being performed by Dave Sokola on lowering the current standards being used for educating teachers.  It is brilliant.  It took an evening of reading the legislation line by line and cross referencing  it with Steve’s analysis, to understand the huge negative impact this bill would cause.  By the time this was done, the Bill had already passed the Senate unanimously without comment, and with an friendly amendment added that was voted upon without even being read.  Some public outcry was mustered within the House, both in committee and on the floor, but under the Governor’s direction, the Speaker of the House, pushed the bill to the floor before significant outcry could be mustered.  Only 4 House members were not on record for it’s passing.  Our educational schools now have to water down their teaching standards to meet the new law.  Steve also has brought the Highmark story to Delaware.  His research in the increase of medical costs in Western PA as a result of knocking out competition by unfair practices, leads one with a cold chill of what to expect in Delaware’s future.  We are already there.  As an insurer, Highmark is only paying medical claims in its own affiliated clinics.  As the new Blue Cross/Blue Shield owner, that is a huge percentage of Delaware’s residents.  None can go to any other hospital.  He has properly fingered Karen Weldham Stuart for not catching this prior to implementation.  Without Steve, this would have passed unnoticed.  The News Journal still has not once mentioned the takeover of Delaware’s health field under one owner.

Ernest Lopez.  If Kennedy were still writing Profiles of Courage, he should include this man.  Ernest Lopez is a conservative, and voted with Libertarian values to pass the gun legislation recommended by Markell and Biden.  Reflecting the views of his district, instead of taking the threatening message sent to him down from the NRA, he voted for his district.  A very vocal minority, who is always vocal, and always in the minority, swore they would unseat him.  He disregarded their idle threat, and voted both his and his constituents conscious.  A major billboard was put up to call him out.   His vote caused the passage of us now requiring background checks at public gun sales.  Now a certifiably insane person cannot slap cash and get a gun.  It is a no-brainer, and Ernie was the only Republican with brain enough to even know what a no-brainer is….

Cathy Cloutier:  her vote allowed gays to marry.  Again, she is a Republican who said enough is enough… Tired of voting against her conscious just so Sussex County would not flip over to the Democrats, she finally did not toe the line and voted along the lines of her own constituents, all overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage.  In doing so, she went against the entire grain of her party, who firmly feel that gays are second class citizens, even though most Republicans in office are closeted gays.

Bethany Hall Long:  on the same vote, made a viable personal decision, and also voted for the legalization of gay marriage. Unlike Cathy’s vote, this was accomplished at great personal sacrifice, for all of those in her personal life, were solidly against this policy from taking effect.  In voting for what was morally right, she had to contend against those whose influence she could not escape.  She went with the correct vote, over the easy one.   As a result, Gay marriage is now legal in Delaware.

Paul Baumbach:  gave great ammunition against the fight for SB51, and later against HB 165. Both bills which will damage Delaware’s education for years to come.  He was one of the four who put up a fight on the House floor.  Paul also arranged for the meetings in Newark to discuss the new Power plant that figured in this past week’s election.

John Kowalko:  also was against SB51, HB 165, as well, being against the power plant.  In fact, John was the first person to sound the alarm over how big the power plant would be.  Without his big voice, it may have slid through unnoticed.  The power plant has defined northern Delaware politics since September.

Kim Williams;  responsible for HB 40 which investigates Charter School’s meddling into our educational systems.  She was as an acting state representative, allegedly refused entrance into a committee hearing on education, for fear she might say something damaging to the bill being rushed through….  She brought to the public’s knowledge, that the Charter School bill was drafted illegally without public input, and the charter group constructing it, was also under FOIA, to which the private group denied.  The Attorney General backed up her assertion, that the bill was formulated illegally but their decision was moot, because the bill was passed both houses anyways.  Kim Williams also in the HB 40 task force, led the group to realize that charter schools unlike public schools, do indeed filter those entering charters to weed out those who might lower their test scores….

Mark Murphy, Rodel, Sweeney, Hefferman, and the Fake Educational Reform Establishment:  I almost purposefully did not post this.  Although the first person’s name is usually followed by explicatives whenever mentioned, it is unlike Voldermort’s, still getting mentioned.  Mark Murphy was not put in his position based on his ability. He was placed there for his loyalty to the cause of  corporatizing public education.  Markell pulls the strings, Murphy figures how to get it done…  It is hard to make a puppet the most influential person of the year… So I was going to skip him… But at the last minute, remembered that every time  he or anyone of these make an op-ed, it resonates as gigantic news. The entire community rises up to counteract each op-ed, usually with the word “lies” thrown liberally about…. So, they do exert an influence.  I looped all of them together, as the group of liars in a Greek play, who stand on the stair steps and taunt the protagonists.  Well,… they are part of the play…….

Dan Short:  Sometimes villains get noticed too.  Primarily a single issue candidate, who personally supports the NRA, he actively campaigned and organized to create enough backlash so Markell’s gun laws could not get enough votes…  Without him, there is a possibility that all four of Markell’s gun control pieces of legislation would have passed both houses of Delaware’s legislature. Dan Short should be given the credit for stopping them.

John Sigler: Single handedly by his very brief tenure as the re-elected head of the Republican Party, he pointed out through his pigeon shooting, just how inept the Republican Party was at everything else.  With his leaving, all fissures cracking the Republican bedrock, were impossible to ignore.  Blogs split. The IPOD’s split. Former candidates of the same party just months earlier, now not talking to each other. The Delaware Republican Party is dead; no it is past dead.  More dead than a pigeon shot inside a box by John Sigler, former head of the Delaware Republican Party.

Nancy Willing: Her blog, the Delaware Way, is the go-to site for local information. Whether about Dover, about New Castle County, about any of New Castle County’s associations, Nancy combs all sources and puts them down in aggregate form. Heavily involved in the Power Plant controversy, The Delaware City Rail Yard controversy, Barley Mill controversy, the Woodlawan controversy, the Kinder Morgan controversy, the Charter School Controversy, the Common Core Controversy, Nancy has who is saying “what”, and links to “why”. One can expend less energy by using her blog to follow all the stuff the News Journal neglects, in a few quick empty steps.

Amy Roe:  a head of the Sierra Club, who emerged from nowhere to lead the fight against the power plant, and give quite a run against the establishment candidate.  Becoming the face the anti- power movement could coalase behind, she gave the anti power plant movement both dignity and grace.  Coming up short only 115 votes, she has awakened Newark now politically as never before…  The power plant if it goes forward, now has a strong group of Newarkeans against it.  Hopefully they will be monitoring it regularly and helping authorities keep in in compliance with all local law.

Tom Gorden; although much quieter than his first term in office, Tom Gorden is rapidly rolling back the privileges the previous Clark administration handed over to our state’s top developers. The Barley Mill plaza which had a green light, is now parked at a red. In a big sea change, though handled quietly, community groups are now no longer persona non grata in county government. It is no longer accepted as a matter of course that the Woodlawn Trust will be gobbled up by developers. If enough fight can be mustered, it can be stopped. Furthermore, with Tom there is closer coordination with the City of Wilmington, than we have experienced anytime in our lifetimes. In the county, local policing has been stepped up, particularly in neighborhoods prone to crime…

Dennis Williams: Came in with grand expectations, which looked deliverable for a while. The tide is turning and his relevance on this list, is because every day, the headline reality in Wilmington’s streets, brings his electioneering boasts back to haunt him, like a sizzling hot branding iron.  Time, Dennis, to say “Damn the torpedoes… Their punk asses are going in jail no matter which blowhard on City Council spouts off,before mine gets tossed in jail for impersonating a mayor..”

Alan Levin:  Jack Markell’s second in command, he was instrumental in defending Markell’s position on Kinder Morgan and the port, as well as the new power plant for the data center. He also had a hand in keeping Dole in Delaware, and worked to slip the power plant past a slew of unsuspecting Newark City officials.

Jack Markell: had his hand in everything.  He was behind Kinder Morgan’s takeover.  He was behind SB 51 and HB 165.  He was behind the illegal charter group, requiring HB 40. He also was the driving force for the four rational steps to gun legislation, 2 of which were passed. He was also the driving force behind the passage of gay marriage, signing the bill in the chambers just moments after its passage. He also supported the transgender bill in its travels through the labyrinth of Legislative Hall. He as behind keeping Dole in Delaware. He was behind changing an icon in Millsboro away from pickles, over to poultry. He pushed the bill to curtail Flowers. Despite your opinion over whether these were good or bad, they still showed a ubiquitous and wide reach across the state of Delaware. Seems like nothing got done that didn’t have his fingerprints all over it.

John Young: As head of Christina board, John Young led the board in standing up to Mark Murphy and Jack Markell, by refusing the RTTT funds slated for his district. Although some hired fools, (Jea Street) tried to paint Young into a corner, it served the opposite purpose and gave Young a platform. For the fist time, Common Core was getting publicly bashed. For the first time, many were finding that aligning themselves blindly to this sham of improving standards, was probably going to hurt them politically in the next couple of years. It was the fist salvo back, so the damage estimates were not high, but it did open eyes of many who had been on the sidelines of all educational issues, making them also become vocal in fighting Common Core. His blog Transparent Christina has channelled a lot of detailed information into the Delaware market, and had made Common Core an apprehension, instead of the savior it was supposed to be….

Kilroy: Kilroy has always been haranguing over education. In fact he was doing such a good job I left that issue alone for years, because other issues for me, like the economy and elimination of guns from the hands of the mentally ill, were more important. But as the issue has shifted back into the limelight, Kilroy’s hard hitting is making its mark… Kilroy is blunt, and right now, that is the language that needs to happen. Blunt descriptions of what takes place in the stratosphere of he academic field…. Kilroy often breaks stories before the News Journal, especially ones embarrassing to the Murphy/Markell cartel of education. If you have read Kilroy over the past couple of years, you would already know that Common Core is not the panacea we have been promised. It is a power grab for taxpayer dollars, financed by Wall Street itself…. If you think otherwise, you haven’t been reading a balanced reading list….
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That is what I have so far. In retrospect I am surprised that education has played so much, as even I have only come to that topic lately… But if one looks over the News Journal op eds, education really did dominate the discussion in the 2nd smallest state this year….

I may have forgotten some big ones. To reiterate, that is why I am posting this early, to catch those big mistakes as they get brought to my attention….

New York is exploding.  Not only with the mayors race which is centering now on the Bloomsberg educational policies, but the debacle of test scores across the state, those same ones that failed 70% of all kids in New York State, have driven passions up to a feverish pitch.

If you thought Rodel has always been on the right track, you need to see what is happening in New York State.

For those who don’t still know, the idea behind school reform is that you implode the public educational system, destroying it so badly, that private schools or charters, can move into the vacuum and educate children for a profit…. That is the underlying premise behind educational reform.  If a school is doing well, you say it isn’t, you force it to do test after test until it really isn’t doing well, and then you close it.

Philadelphia, Chicago, and DC all shut down tremendous numbers of public schools this year.   They intend to give the empty buildings to their friends for free, and allow them to open schools on those premises.  Their friends stand to make a lot of money.

Charter schools thrive on choice.  Every parent wants to choose the best for their child, and charter schools sell that well.    “Our student are good “they say, “for if they get low scores we kick them out.  That is why our scores are so high…”

And it is true.  If one looks at Delaware’s highest scoring school, it is a Charter. but it is a Charter with hardly any blacks, and hardly any children on free lunch… So duh… it’s scores are higher.  The problem in such a comparison, is that public schools, with the same amounts of rich white kids sprinkled with a few Asians, do better than charter schools of the same mixture.  Public schools have more resources; public schools teach better.  Likewise upon looking at the low end, where almost all the students are on free lunch, public school low income students, score significantly higher than do their counterparts in Charter Schools.  Again, more resources.

But charters still argue with choice.  If your school is failing they say, why should your kid be forced to remain in a failing school? That argument is very deceptive and certainly rings true upon first hearing…. Why would we keep a genius in a bad school, when a great one opened up a block away?

The answer to that question is simply not every child is a genius.  As there is a ying to a yang and a Laurel to a Hardy, their is a Sith Lord to the aura of choice… (Dark Side; get it?) 🙂

That is that 40% of kids in Charter Schools get kicked back to public because they are bringing down the test scores.

So… 40% is the same as 2 our of 5, or 4 out of 10….  Choice is ruining the lives of 2 out of every 5 kids, … They got pulled out, and pushed back; losing a whole year because their parents “choiced” them into a school that taught by test scores…

So offering choice, ruins the lives of 2 out of 5 students.  That is two who are ruined to three who make it.  Now if there is nothing wrong with the public school to begin with, we just created a negative situation out of one where none occurred.

2 people our of 5 would have learned had that Charter not opened.  Actually all 5 would have learned.  But now, 2 people out of five are remedial, simply because the Charter School wants to lie about their high test scores…

So when someone pulls a Diller and starts screaming that children need a choice…. let them explode and while their insides are dripping off the ceiling, … say “by your figures, two out of 5 students will  be forced to transfer out to keep your schools test scores up. Where is their choice? Those people don’t have a choice.  They can chose to go into a charter school, and you’ll get to keep the money, but they can’t choose whether or not they get to stay.

Better to have all students succeed in a good public school, than force 2 our of 5 to become the Lost Society…

Up until he had this one teacher, he was a good student.  For 10 years in the public school system, he and been in the top 5% of his class.

Then, he was put in a tenth grade government with a Tea Party ideologue as the teacher.  Being a good student, he challenged her assertions:  that climate change was  liberal propaganda; that SNAP was a communist program, that Medicare and Medicaid needed to be eliminated, that the markets were the sole determination of character, that we needed to get rid of every environmental law, that blacks were born dumb and no schooling would rectify that, that Mexicans needed to be gassed in concentration camps because it was too expensive to ship them back… 

This was the first year of inBloom and every teacher was asked to fill out data on each of their students.  There were 400 data fields that needed to  be filled out, including grades, attendance records, academic subjects, course levels, disabilities. Administrators can also upload certain details that students or parents may be comfortable sharing with teachers, but not with unknown technology vendors. InBloom’s data elements, for instance, include family relationships (“foster parent” or “father’s significant other” or “mother’s fourth husband”) and reasons for enrollment changes (“withdrawn due to illness” or “leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident”)

One privacy lawyer, said she was particularly troubled by the disciplinary details that could be uploaded to inBloom because its system included subjective designations like “perpetrator,” “victim” and “principal watch list.

And that is what happened to our former good student. He is now in prison.

Did you know that solely because of Common Core, that parents  no longer control their child’s data if it was gathered electronically?   As in the case of this student, they don’t even know what is stored under his name in Amazon’s cloud, and from there, it  can spread now far as the eye can see… Future colleges! Future employers!  Future Advertisers!  Remember all those privacy forms you have to sign?  They are only valid for information on paper.  When it comes to electronics, they simply “Do Not Apply!”

In Delaware, thank Dave Sokola.

 

Delaware Liberal has a silly controversy over John Kowalko’s performance.  The reason it is silly is because they are arguing over John’s alleged ability without determining the position that he plays.  For example, in football, a defensive player is rated differently than an offensive player.  In basketball, a center is rated different than a point guard.  A catcher is rated differently than pitcher in baseball.  To the casual reader it is pretty obvious that the argument is over which standards ought to be used, and not over whether John is an outstanding person or not.  (He is btw;  I’ve even heard Rick Jensen say so.)

In the current legislature, there are many moving parts.  The only true criteria one can hold legislators accountable towards…, is did they vote.   Everything else is superfluous. The only part of their job outlined  in legalese… is to vote.  Everything else they choose to do is extra; its over and beyond the call…

But politics is a personal business.  If challenges are made towards John’s effectiveness, even if baseless, they need a well honed defense.  Simply because if not, future readers may see only one side and base their votes upon what they read,   Therefore there is a lot of give and take, and bashing and smashing of egos, but it is all basically over whether John should play defensive, or go offensive.

We cannot have all of one and none of the other.  A team with only an offensive line, does pretty badly when the other team has the ball.  To the casual observer reading comments over there, it is obvious that we need both kinds of players.  Both are necessary. and since one person can’t be opposite of himself, it is necessary to have another person take up that position …

John is John.  Just like El Som is El Som.  Just like Deldem is Deldem.  Each has a unique set of genes, each has a unique set of life experiences.  Obviously none of those match, and therefore, their viewpoints will differ.  What happened is that it got personal, and the line; “others say it is so” got trundled out.

Of course others will say different things.  They are different too.  Instead of arguing over what this person said, and what that person didn’t say, we should be recognizing just how diversified our party is. Yay!  We should accept that we have John in the offensive line. Yay!  We should be grateful we have defensive players working behind the scenes. Yay!  Commentator Geezer actually pointed all that out before I do here.

The point I’m making is we have a team of people. They are individuals. They are not all carbon copies of each other.  Thank Goodness.  Just like any corporate development team, just like any legal defense team, just like any sports team, just like any managerial project team, all have a goal; all should work towards that goal.

Calling people out in public does not help all reach that goal.  It hinders it; is s-l-o-w-s the march toward that goal, considerably.  Talking to those people directly, one on one, what we like to call having a “frank” conversation, IS conducive.  It provides communication, and even if you disagree in the end, you trust the opponent’s judgment because you know exactly why he is adamant in his beliefs.  You know why.

I think everyone here has a part to play.  Just as in a car, if one part goes bad, the rest of the car doesn’t function at its full potential.  Everyone here, (or over there commenting I mean) has an important role to play in how our state will be functioning one, four, eight, or ten years into the future….

We have a job to do. Work is not done.  If we don’t finish it, others who oppose us will come behind us and tear it down.  This is serious stuff.  If we don’t work together as a team,  we leave no lasting legacy.  And what’s the whole point of even living, if your life here doesn’t make a difference?

So recognize our differences then use them.  Those in planning can say, John we need some public outrage on this at this time.  Let’s get it done.  Vice versa, now coming from John, he can say “hey we in the public eye are getting pinged badly on this item;  we need to develop a fix right now”.  Those are just two examples how each can use the other to achieve aims, instead of create friction….

‘Nuff said.

“Watching you watching me / It’s so easy to see…/ Watching me watching you / It’s so obviously true”  Lyrics by Bill Withers… 

If there is anything one can gather from the Snowden release, it is that American media is severely compromised.

Here is the news we are constantly being given:

  • Interest and speculation on what Snowden must feel.
  • Speculation on where he might or might not go.
  • Speculation on what it must be like to live in an airport.
  • Breaking news of what Snowden’s father thinks and feels.
  • Reports on who back in Washington, feels he needs or needs not to be punished.
  • Accepting without question, the US Government’s case he is a spy, not a whistle blower.

=====

So here is what is not getting told.

A) Internet freedom is over.  Revelation that the US has the ability to read everything passing through the US, means that this connection is no longer trusted by the Chinese, the Russians, our economically competitive nations, those pirate sympathizers or people like you and me, who don’t want strangers accessing what we like to do when we have stripped off our professional skins and get down to being ourselves.

B) The Chinese have moved to seal off their own system. The Russians will have theirs up and running shortly. There will be soon be private enterprises who will set up secure connections that guarantee that no records will be given out based on the  model of the Swiss system of financial secrecy.

C) What this means, is that we revert back to the library system.  If you want to look up something in China, you will send a query, it will be approved as it leaves the US, it must be approved by the Chinese in order to enter, and it then gets directed to your party.  This requires human oversight, and will slow queries to weeks, instead of nano-seconds.  Same if you wish to find out something in Russia.  Heaven help us if a Chinese satellite breaks off course and drifts towards collision with the International Space station manned by Russians and Americans…  We’d never get the message.

D) We are hoping the US will be one monolithic entity under this, but imagine if it wasn’t.   Imagine if nothing liberal could be searched up in Texas?  Or nothing Conservative in Connecticut?

E) This is being effectively done, right now, and no news service in the US is reporting it.

F) Without Snowden we would not know that the NSA has been able to bend nine US internet companies to its demands for access to their users’ data.

G) Without Snowden we would not know that analysing data was not done by the NSA< but was  turned over to un-vetted private operators, such as employees of Booz Allen Hamilton.  Their employees had access to every email, every phone call,  every facebook account.   We would not know that half a million fellow citizens have high security clearances who shouldn’t.

H) Nor would there be a debate between Europe and the US over where the line between Freedom and security should lie.

i)  Control of the internet is about to get very contentious.  Knowing how the US and its internet corporations abused their control, certainly means the US cannot be counted on to oversea almost all of the junctions upon the net.   Google instead of being world wide, independent of the US government, is now seen as an express arm of that same government.  Yahoo, Verizon, AOL, Time-Warner, Microsoft, Comcast, all certainly cannot be trusted either…

J)  These revelations also damage the Obama administration’s credibility to its core. Proclaiming internet freedom in words, to cover up deeds on this gigantic scale, was an attempt to mislead.  Fully aware of the extent, and arguing for full internet freedom is equivalent of George Bush arguing for gentleness and amnesty towards Iraqi prisoners  to cover the atrocities of Abu Ghraib.

K)  Snowden’s revelations tell us that NO United States- based internet provider can be trusted with your privacy.  Nothing that is stored in their “cloud” services can be guaranteed to be safe from surveillance or from illicit downloading by employees of the consultancies employed by the NSA.  If you are a company thinking of using a US company for servicing your IT needs, you now know that all your trade secrets will be up for sale.

This means the golden years for US internet companies may have come to an end.  If not their end, then at least these companies must now scramble to quickly evolve into different entities if they wish to survive.

Perhaps Swiss law might be tweaked to allow secure servers to set up camp somewhere in the beautiful Alps, who for NO reason, will give out any information….

More jobs going overseas.

Why is this not being mentioned in American media?  Are our reporters really that stupid?  Is our press truly nothing but Luddites who blindly go where authority directs them to go and look for clues?

That could explain why we constantly hear about  speculation about Snowden’s travel plans, asylum requests, state of mind, physical appearance, etc. The “human interest” angle over here, has trumped the real story.

The real story is that the NSA revelations expressly tell us how our networked world actually works and they portend the direction to which it is heading.

I hope you enjoyed your freedom while you had it.  The internet is through,.. Welcome to the Age of Internets…..   That is the real story.

The sub-story is that the NSA lied in March and emphatically said: this program flat-out did not exist.  So when they say they only see phone numbers… ?

cough, cough…

Silicon Valley’s role in US government surveillance has triggered public anxiety about the internet, but it turns out there is at least one tech company you can trust with your data.

Xmission, Utah’s first independent and oldest internet service provider, has spent the past 15 years resolutely shielding customers’ privacy from government snoops in a way that larger rivals appear to have not.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation called it a model for the industry….

And speaking of the EFF, yesterday a Federal judge allows the case Jewel Vrs NSA to go forward into a real court. There is nothing secret about the Constitution the judge said. Either this practice is legal or it isn’t. A court will decided.

Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. The case is supported by declarations from three NSA whistleblowers along with a mountain of other evidence. The recent blockbuster revelations about the extent of the NSA spying on telecommunications and Internet activities also bolster EFF’s case.

It appears Edward Snowden tipped the balance. This has been held up 5 years because it supposedly was too secret for trial.

It is clearer now that the biggest benefactors for the NSA spying were commercial enterprises. The Obama administration went along with the Bush plan and accelerated it, primarily to give American companies a heads up, and keep jobs here.  It worked too.

One can’t argue with success. But one can find how American businesses were co-opted to assist the NSA.  From the Guardian, the following, allegedly from Snowden himself.

• Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;

• The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;

• The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;

• Microsoft also worked with the FBI’s Data Intercept Unit to “understand” potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases;

• In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;

• Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a “team sport”.

it is revealing that the beneficiaries of the Patriot Act and probably one of the reasons it has been intact long after terrorism faded offshore, are the exact same who are suing each other left and right, using the anti-piracy laws as their barrage.  It appears that laws are not for people anymore; they are for corporations.  It is corporations who want the US to fund listening posts for every American word and sentence.

The only way to fix that, is to divide the corporations Teddy-Roosevelt-style, thereby giving We, the People a little more clout.  …

Courtesy of  Top Hits of The Seventies

…. said Rick Jensen as Liz Allen finished and hung up the phone before Rick could answer….

I usually drive in silence but I laughed out loud when I heard that. Seriously glad I was not drinking coffee that very second…

To set the background, Rick was trying to pin the blame on unions like would a normal corporate shill and Liz called in and was objecting…

Basically her argument was that there were a lot of things wrong with this Kinder Morgan Deal.  Most of you know, I’ve outlined many.  Al Mascitti has outlined some. Nancy Willing outlined some. Norinda outlined some.  Bobby Marshall has outlined some.  John Kowalko has outlined some. The News Journal writers  and editorialists  have outlined some.  Even Alan Levin truthfully  outlined some…. And of course, Liz Allen was Delaware’s voice.  She outlined many…. And don’t even  mention that the entire House of the General Assembly, both Democrats and Republicans unanimously voted for General Assembly oversight on this strange thing happening, despite the Governor and Alan Lavin saying…”shouldn’t do that!!!”

THE  ENTIRE  HOUSE  OF  THE  GENERAL  ASSEMBLY  VOTED  FOR  SENATE  BILL  3  YET  KINDER  MORGAN  IS  SINGLING  OUT  A  LABOR LEADER,  JULIUS  CEPHAS? ? ?

All of these people are more to blame for swaying public opinion than Julius Cephas.  However, truth be told, without Julius, none of these people would be swaying public opinion….  He didn’t harangue, he didn’t bash, he’d didn’t twist arms…

All Julius did to persuade this wave against Kinder Morgan, was speak the “truth”.  The letter paints Julius as a feisty uncooperative fiery personality…  Anyone who’s sat on a panel with Julius finds that hard to believe.  That is not how Julius handles adversity.  He digs down and works.

Of course as we all age we come to realize that anything is possible.  But if we are going to allow ourselves to consider even the most outrageous items,  what I find far more possible, and far more probable, was that Kinder Morgan was seriously planning on cutting jobs.  Furthermore, it probably had it’s eye on the DRBA portion of the state pension fund… Speaking strictly as a vulture capitalist here… who wouldn’t?

Apparently Julius Cephas was in the way…  We all owe him a thank you.

I know Texas gas firms.  This deal is not off.  What we have here is a lighter being held up  to Delaware’s foot.  To scare us a little, try to get us to move things up, to get us to concede… They sharply deduced that to have a successful operation here, they need to do away with the union.  Hence, instead of excoriating Bob Marshall’s leadership, which they would have done if they truly were to pick up and go, …knowing they might need him later instead they chose to focus on Julius Cephas…

Can they turn the state into an out-roar against Julius and the Longshoreman’s union, so much so that we offer them a counter-offer with “the union”  completely eclipsed out of it?

In their minds they think they can.   They’re Texans…  Look at Governor Perry.  (Hope you weren’t drinking hot coffee right there… )

What they don’t realize is that to convince Delaware to come aboard, they have to accomplish all these four things…

A.  Convince us first  on the concept of privatization; Trust us, our state is completely against it.

B.  Give us $5 billion for 50 years.

C.  Promise us the Longshoreman’s Union will be around forever .

D.  Expand business so the outside businesses will grow….. 

I think this is more money than they want to bear right now….  But if they are willing to agree to these propositions,   send us an offer….

Us Delawareans are a little stronger negotiators, with a little more backbone,  than is Alan Levin….  I’m sorry from a honesty point of view, if his actions sort of misled you.

There are two ways to do business.  One is do what is best for the business by being selfish..  The second is to do what is best for the customer and community, which in our view, turns out to be what is best for the business.

Delawareans (minus Rich Heffron)  subscribe to the latter…..