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What happens to elected officials when turned out of office?  They become lobbyists.   Prostitutes for hire.  The higher bidder, the better.  With so much money currently floating among the top 1%, there is currently a very high demand for those former elected officials, who can ply their skills, prestige, and contacts, into pushing “special” legislation down the corridors of change……

Based on his actions back in his twenties, I was expecting more out of the former Mayor Baker. But I guess, everyone has got to eat… And if you are staving badly enough, there is nothing to which you won’t stoop, to get a free meal…..

The check is in the mail, Mr. Baker…    Obviously in your new position, facts don’t play a role. Though those were important in your old job, they are the opposite of what your new one entails…  We understand that… You are forgiven….

The one factor you forgot to mention;  is poverty.   Poverty determines proficiency levels; not skin color… and brains do come out of the womb pretty much all the same.

The second factor you forgot to mention, is charter schools under-perform  public schools.  Of course one can compare a top white basketball player to a poor black one, and say… “see we need more whites on the basketball court”… But there is something missing in your argument. That is all the white basketball players who shoot under 20% under the basket.  You failed to mention the proficiency rates of every other charter in the state.  And cherry picked only the best two. and cherry picked the worst two public schools….

We understand your concern for black males. Your cause is noble.  However there are white males out there who are poor too and they have similar scores.  Maine and Delaware both test almost all their students on the SAT… Whereas Delaware is mixed with a high urban percentage, Maine is all white and rural. Delaware scores are higher than Maine’s   Both states are poor, with Maine being poorer than Delaware. So you see, it is poverty that is the problem, not the melanin in one’s skin….  It is extremely hard to educate a child who leaves school, doesn’t eat, has no electricity, and has to be wary of being attacked 24/7.  To them, classroom is a vacation, and anything said there, is irrelevant to the jungle which is his/her real world. …..

You mentioned Warner.  and the figures you quoted were accurate.  What you failed to cover was that children in 3rd grade tested at 33,31 and in fourth grade rose to 41,35.  Not bad for a poverty level of 93.5%.   And they held those gains in 5th grade as well. Net gains?  +7 ELA, -6 Math.  This comes from the same DOE chart you looked at.

Kuumba which you praise, BEGINS third grade at astronomical levels… Wow… Do they only select rocket scientists and don’t have to take everyone that comes in?…. Their third graders tested at 82,83… then rose only in ELA, while dropping in math at fourth grade to…. 92,76…… then  DROPPED both ELA and math in 5th Grade… 85, 61.… Net gain for Kuumba was +3 points ELA, -22 for Math..

All you did in this piece was the equivalent of taking the Philly 76’rs that are highly selective, and compare it to the pick-up teams on the worn down courts in East Side, who have to take whoever comes on in their pickup games… You further failed to mention the equivalent of the 76r’s track record this year, or that the pickup team elevated itself into a championship round on the intramural courts…. So which team’s structure is better? Tthe team that improves over its tenure? Or the team that falls apart?

It doesn’t take a basketball coach to see that all those smart children in Kuumba, would do much, much better if they had the quality teachers of Warner, instead of being pulled out of class to dance in the streets every time a state official comes by to give their headmaster a plaque….

If the failure rate of Kuumba was applied across all of Wilmington’s children, the negativity would be catastrophic.  Which is why, all our smart legislators are saying we need full control over charters…. And mind you, I did this presentation with the very best charter, Kuumba.  I could have used Pencader, REACH, or Moyer, (but the performance of those charters would embarrass you too much…).  Can you imagine if every black child was placed in a Pencader?

Now you asked, why would anyone want to limit charter and impede growth?

Charters take money away from public schools.  If a school like Warner which is forced to take in the lowest of the low, allows a charter to skim off all it’s top students, it loses $3700 for each of those students, and depresses its proficiency level… Which means it has to make do on 85% of what it did prior to the influx of charter, and do so with a higher percentage of its students in special ed and high risk…. Across this state there are 92% of Delaware’s children in Public schools…Only 8% are in charters… Next year it has been approved to jump by 2300 more students with four new charters opening or an 22% jump in the number of Charter students…. That means that even if those charters are performing as well as the current public schools do now, (which they won’t; look at Kuumba above), 90% of the rest of Delaware’s students will have their schools underfunded.…..  Now if you are having trouble paying your bills now, how are you going to do it on 15% less?  Huh?

You can’t, so you cut back essential goods and services…  And those 93.5% of Warner’s children listed as low income, are now given even  less of an opportunity to succeed in a world that is so inordinately stacked against them….

What is sad, Mr. Baker, is that you know better.  As a young man you stood on the courthouse steps and wagged your finger and demanded equal opportunity for the black folk, (I think that is the nice term we all called them back then… )

So why are you selling them out now,  for a paycheck?   Of all things?

Instead, what you should be saying is that we need more funding in public schools, that we need higher taxes on our top one percenters to pay for it, that we need charter schools funded as are vocational schools by a line item in the state budget as a luxury, and not a necessity stealing funds away from public schools that currently show more growth than Kuumba… You should be crusadeing for an 11:1 student teacher ration, in every k-5 school with over 50% levels of low income students!

You should be demanding that no charters open and take public money, until ALL the problems are first fixed in the public schools. Because public schools perform better than charters…. when you look at the growth in each child…

If we had your way, we would mediocritize all the best potential the African American community has to offer, and then completely destroy the other 90% of all the rest…Your plan will make us into a Chester,  Camden, or Philadelphia.  We are better than that.

You are selling the black man out.  With your amazing history, that is heartbreakingly sad… sort of like Brutus who fought along Caesar all those years, turning and  stabbing Caesar in the back…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the region at 6 a.m. Monday lasting until 7 p.m.

The weather report is identical to last week’s… 6 inches due starting at 10:00

Just like last week, we knew the exact forecast a day before…..

It was to start around 9.  The districts decided to go for the half day.  Clear roads going in at 6 am, but by 10:00 the roads were dangerous after the first hour’s snow.  The elementary schools didn’t get out until 12:30… often awaiting delayed buses from previous runs.  Furthermore, as everyone was leaving to go home from work, as the danger of the 2-3 inches fallen so far became apparent, they not only had to navigate at 5 mph on the account of the ice and snow, but all major routes were stop-and-go from blinking red school bus lights disgorging their precious cargo.

The entire northern state of Delaware was a disaster, by 1:00…  Exactly right when the buses were still running with elementary kids, and the snow was already too deep to go get them if anything had happened.  The buses were driving on unsafe roads…

This, I know has to be balanced against children who only get one meal a day and that is at school..  We can certainly thank our Republican friends for that later.  But we must sincerely consider whether any meal is a reason enough for creating the most costly snowstorm traffic damage estimates ever made  by New Castle’s County’s insurance companies..  Most could have been prevented if we’d just trusted the weatherman and said no school on account of snow….

And if it had been done the night before, all parents could have had contingency plans in place, instead of telling their boss they had to leave early to be home for their child getting off the bus, then finding themselves being stuck 1 hour and a half because of snow.   Meanwhile the child is standing outside the locked door, wondering where her parents are…..

We can do better, we must do better… call off school early.

As you all know, there are several Supreme Court decisions due this term regarding the ability of corporations or personal businesses to express their religiosity in defiance of the law of the land. One is Hobby Lobby which thinks it should not be required to practice something that is against their religion.  The second is today’s “stay” on whether Catholic Organizations have to dispense something their religion completely disavows;  birth control.

On one hand we will hear the drums of how religion is being imposed upon by the government.   On the other hand we will hear how those employed by these employers, have the right to choice just as do their bosses….

Let us look at the first plank:  how religion is being imposed upon by the government.   As is been oft repeated, the Constitution as originally written said rather little about the right to religion.  However, it IS in the Bill of Rights, which because they were a necessary addition added to get the Constitution garnering enough votes, one can loosely say, the original Constitution deals with religion…

And as is oft repeated with every controversy, the First Amendment states as follows:  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.   This means that Congress cannot say:  “This year’s official religion will be Pentecostal.  All other religions are hereby abolished”.  This may sound far fetched to us, but was a real factor in the daily lives of the colonists before the nation was forged.   Quakers were ostracized by Episcopalians. Catholics were beset with punitive laws except in Maryland.  If you needed to go before the state or county courthouse, you had to be of that area’s official religion, before you could get heard…  True, dat.

The second part, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; is where the argument will be directed.  Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor, both have similar arguments which are as follows.

“WE  don’t believe sex should be had for enjoyment.  Our religion is anti-sex.  If we have to dispense or are required to pay for people to commit sex without the consequence of pregnancy or a viral AIDS infection, we are having our free exercise of religion being prohibited….”

More clearly put:  our religion demands that we prohibit sex for enjoyment wherever it “pops” up. If you stop us from prohibiting enjoyable sex, you are interfering with our religion.

In the matter of text, they have a point.  If their religion does indeed demand that they stop everyone from having enjoyable sex, then the government in stepping in to stop them from stopping some amazing sex, is depriving them of their religious rights.  So we should conceive that they have a textual point…..  Before the Obamacare, religion was not impinged.  Now it is.

The next step is to see if that point is relevant with the norms of today’s society.  As an extreme case, allowing a quirky religious sect to burn their babies alive because “it is called for by their religion”  would be a case where the harm done to a citizen of the United States of America against their will, would outweigh in society’s eyes the harm being done to the religiosity of those practicing such a barbarity.  Burning witches at a stake would suffice as an example as well.

There is obvious a gray area then where government must trample on religion and religion finds it must interfere with government.

We can use the extreme case above of burning witches.  One could say that happened in Delaware in 2010. (lol.  Our witch got burned bad.)   Here we have a case where one religion (the witch burning one) interferes with the other religion (the witch one).  When you have two opposite religions, the government has to look at other laws other than religion to determine policy.  In this case, murder.  Correct?

So the correct assessment is that since both religious issues cancel each other out, then the factor of murder by default becomes the deciding one.  The witch-burning religion is in the wrong by existing laws on the books (murder) and therefore it must stop its practice.  Was it’s bizarre form of religion impinged upon by government?  Absolutely.  And for good reason; it was murder.

So we now have precedence of  government making necessary impositions upon any religious practices that harm society. Yet there is still no imposition upon ones beliefs.  You can still “believe” that burning witches is your goal in life, but you just can’t carry it out.  It hurts other people.

So the defense of the law by the government must not focus on the rights of these religious petitioners.  but should solely focus on that harm which if allowed to go forward, that religion will impinge upon all those millions of people who are not in either sect, and who will suffer at the hands of any court decision favoring either sect’s quixotic religious preferences.

They have First Amendment rights too….   such as in having our Government abridging the freedom of speech…  

The courts have long upheld that “expression”  was the founding father’s meaning of “speech”.  Porn doesn’t move it’s lips but is a form of expression protected by the Supreme Court.  Just like that Pat Robertson of the 700 Club doesn’t move his lips, but is also considered a form of expression protected by the Supreme Court.  Art is expression.  Music is expression. Love is expression…

Likewise there are reasonable limits to the right to expression, again, determined by society’s norms.  Going nude in a public school is not good.  There are reasons that is against the law.  Playing music too loud on Newark’s Main Street is not good.  There are reasons that is against the law.  Graffiti in the Bank of America building, not good.  There are reasons that would be against the law.

So the argument made before the court will be two fold;  what is harmful or non harmful to each side, and what society’s norms will dictate, whether one or another is extreme when compared to the norm of society….

Therefore this becomes a moral question, not one of logic.  After all, both sides think logic is on their side.  And I think all will boil down to something said by the last Pope, Pope Benedict….

He stated something along the lines, “that people have to eat; and to eat, they have to work.”  If work is  abundant, perhaps one can leave one employer and go to another which they prefer.  But if work is scarce, they are bound to hang on to that job no matter what external factors line up to batter them.   If there is one job in town, and the boss halves the wages, one has to accept it.  If there is one job in town, and the boss demands sexual favors for one to keep it, one has to acquiesce because there is no other alternative.

So for every religious nun or Hobby Lobby business owner who wishes to buck the current law, there are those countless employees working for them who will get hurt if their employer gets any exception to the current law simply because their religion states “it” is against all enjoyable sex.

Those employees working for these bosses, can’t have enjoyable sex because of the religiosity of their employers…. ” I’m sorry Hon, but because I work for Hobby Lobby, we can’t do it for another 15 days… Just hold it inside, will you?”

Their expression, in the privacy of their home,  is impinged…  While yet…the religious owners expression in the privacy of THEIR homes, is not affected by one bit…

Since one side is negatively affected in private by the consequences of not having contraception reimbursed, and the other side is not, it seems imperative that a thoughtful, logical, non-judgmental court, would decide to protect those who are hurt, at the expense of those who are doing the hurting….

Remember:  it is still the insurance companies who are paying for all these sexual items; not the employers themselves;  there is no harm to the employers if this policy goes forward.  They are not in anyway contributing any harm to themselves. Just like if they burned witches….

Those they are affecting, do get harmed….  Not being allowed to enjoy sex because of your luck at being hired by one employer over another, surely trumps whether that employer feels slightly “miffed” that he is required to insure his employees and that insurance will allow them to enjoy the wonders of sex without getting pregnant or getting viral AIDS.

AIDS kills, like being burned at the stake.  Being allowed to stand around the fire going “tsk, tsk” should not become our nation’s definition of what “religion” is all about……

I am borrowing heavily from Hunter here, who through an amazing amount of work did what I would have liked to, but never would have found the time…  He slogged through each month in separate installments.  I wanted to have one single visual representation of the year as a whole.

America has cancer.  It is our conservatives.

January.

January 3, 2013: Election of Speaker. Incumbent Speaker John Boehner was re-elected with the largest number of defections in the vote for speaker since at least 1991…

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tells GOP: ‘Stop being the stupid party’. “It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults,”

Republican Stephan King introduces the Repeal of Birthright Citizenship.

Republicans closed party ranks against doing anything at all to prevent another Sandy Hook mass killing.

Republican state legislatures initiated laws to disregard any federal laws on gun legislation that do happen to pass.

The constitutional Sheriffs said putting armed civilian posse’s in schools would be the answer.  Some noted that Sheriff’s Arapao’s own posse was composed of criminal elements.

Republicans threatened to veto Obama’s appointment of conservative Republican Chuck Hagel because he was neither Republican or Conservative enough.

Sequester Legislation gets signed as part of budget deal, and Obama goes on a olive branch dining tour with Congressional Republicans.  He was received well ( they all brought their wives to meet him.)

The government did not shut down, Mitch and Joe made a deal that sailed passed the House, in which the leadership and moderate Republicans all thumbed their noses at the Tea Party contingent who voted it down.  The lesson was short lived.

GOP had a retreat to determine why nobody like them, and discovered it was because they were conservative.  While there they decided they could do nothing without their prime funders, who were all demented Conservatives, and so they chose to remain conservative anyway.

And Glenn Beck announced a Glenn Beck theme park was forthcoming.

February

John Boehner informs America that the Republican House is going to initiate a top secret Immigration Reform Club, that will blow both the Senate and America away with the scope and integrity of their quality legislation.

Disclosure is made that the NRA has a secret enemies list…  topped by Mary Lou Retton. (Not snark; seriously)

The NRA head Wayne “LaKook” LaPierre, felt compelled to give his own rebuttal to Obama’s State of the Union address.

Led by a former Vice President who shot his lawyer in the face, a group of likewise gifted riflemen led a movement stating that having any discussion about gun safety was bad for America.

Mississippi Republicans pondered to ban animal-human hybrids. Oklahoma Republicans debated whether students should get marked wrong for stating that climate change or evolution DID NOT EXIST. Missouri Republicans responded with a bill to make it a FELONY for anyone to propose gun legislation laws….

Senator Cruz questions whether Secretary Defense Chuck Hagel is secretly getting money from North Korea or other of America’s enemies.

The Republican’s gentleman’s agreement not to block nominees with a filibuster lasted 15 working days.  Chuck Hagel’s vote did not reach cloture.

March

The Daily Caller was punked by a hoax involving two Dominican Republican prostitutes who after being paid a year’s worth of tricks by a wealthy Republican benefactor, then went and made charges against Bob Menendez.  Although quick to be proven a hoax, the Daily Caller to this date, still insists it was a true story, and the entire world is lying and currently is out to get them…..

After cowing to public pressure to install Chuck Hagel afterall, Senate Republicans next vow to hold up confirmation on the CIA director until Lindsey Graham and John McCain get the answers they want on Benghazi.

Senator Paul Rand of Kentucky stages a filibuster against the CIA confirmation chief’s vote, to protest drone use by America.  After receiving much good press and lots of contributions, he quietly said he really didn’t have a problem with drones being used to kill people at all.

With the exception of Governor Christie who fortunately as a Republican, is completely removed from the antics inside the capitol dome, all the other 2016 Presidential contenders came out against any post-Sandy Hook common sense legislation…. Sens. Marco Rubio, Jim Inhofe, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee…..

The Republican Sequester begins to go into effect, causing Republicans to push legislation to fund all those parts of their sequester which make them look bad.  Long lines at the airports,  White House tours,  immigrants sneaking across the border were all erroneously blamed on Obama.  Like cutting $85 billion overnight wouldn’t affect anyone?…  Duh.

Remember the Acorn scandal of years ago?  It was settled and the full story came out after the trial.  The film was edited by Breitbart to make it look like a prostitution ring was being run out of ACORN, but in fact, the ACORN perpetrators had been suspicious and called the police on the film crew, thinking that they were the ones misusing women for financial gains.  Trusting anything said by a conservative is dangerous.  That organization which re-enfranchised many poor Americans was shut down over a lie.  Can we now have that class action lawsuit against Breitbart and the film’s producer?

Woot!  Woot!  Paul Ryan had a Medicare plan!  Awwww.  The Senate voted it down 96-3.

Sequester kicks cut deeply into Head Start, cancer research, and Meals on Wheels.  Republicans complain loudly about the quality of towels in the heated Congressional swimming pool.  Apparently they weren’t getting cleaned well or fast enough.

April

Republican nominee for Virginia’s governorship advocates for the re-installment of Virginia’s anti-sodomy laws.  (Yeah, seriously!  In 2013!)

Sen. James Inhofe, dismisses the Sandy Hook families who showed up in Congress to witness the vote, by saying the tragedy of Sandy Hook didn’t have anything to do about them. “I think it’s so unfair of the administration to hurt these families, to make them think this has something to do with them when, in fact, it doesn’t.” –Inhofe

After gun control gets defeated, Inhofe in search of another publicity run, makes himself the head of investigating those rumors of whether the federal government is buying up all the ammo so gun owners can’t use any to shoot at rifle ranges.

The new conservative media darling Ben Carson disappears after stating that gay marriage leads to bestiality…

Multiple conservative groups took to the airwaves and blamed the Boston Marathon bombing on the Pill, sexual liberalism and abortion. Obviously they are ignorant of real world terms like backpacks and explosives.

Rep. Louie Gohmert made the claim that the Obama administration was “chock full of Muslim Brotherhood” members…  Because it is?  That was the full extent of evidence behind his outrageous claim.

House issues its report on Benghazi.  It apparently did not know, or listen to any of its witnesses subpoenaed to it’s hearings,  that [By tradition], every cable from an embassy bears the “signature” of the ambassador — and every cable from Washington bears the “signature” of the secretary of state.”   The entire premise of their report, was instantly and publicly deemed invalid.

May

House Republicans admit their own ineptitude at being able to pass any legislation.  Revealing Quote:  “we couldn’t even get agreement to call 911 if House Speaker John Boehner were on fire.” 

Heritage Foundation weighed in on Immigration stating that it would cost trillions of dollars.  When broken down that came to half a million per immigrant, something that laughed Heritage Foundation past the monsters and over the edge of even their square world of reality.  it didn’t help Heritage, that the author of that report, was a known white supremest in charge of his own collection of kooks.

The NRA elects a new president who in video, express his continued anger that the northern states ran off with all of his great-grandfather’s black help…. More alarming was his advocacy for ” “weapons to fight tyranny”  forever dooming the next poor government worker who chooses to knock on the wrong door….

Republicans foundering in a froth over that Obama had the Tea Party scrutinized by the IRS, had a hard time dealing with the fact that democratic leaning groups got the same treatment as well. Could it be policy, that political groups requesting tax exempt status actually get looked at to ensure they were deserving of such before granting it? Completely out-played, Rand Paul stands up to protest, well, that he should even be forced into the position of having to protest anything at all…..

Michelle Bachmann announced she would not run again  and that the cause for which she was bowing out, absolutely had nothing to do with the two separate probes over her criminal misdoings…

It’s now been three months since the Republican National Committee issued its 100-page autopsy report about what went wrong in 2012 and promised to reach out to more non-white voters.

June

Just hours after the Supreme Court nullified parts of the Voting Right’s Act,  Republican state legislatures rush through legislation to purge voter rolls of Blacks and Hispanics.

Remember the IRS scandal?  In June through testimony it was revealed that twice as many conservative groups were approved than were progressive groups…  Remember Darrell Issa’s  charges that Obama was using the IRS to stymie Conservative groups only?   I guess the Congressional Committee actually did what it was supposed to do and got down to the truth of the matter.  Way to go, Darrell….

Snowden erupts… The press goes through a public mitosis.   We get to watch which reporters and organizations are the “real” fourth estate, and which are the self-appointed protectors of the DC bureaucratic elite.

Ultra Conservative foundation Heritage, was originally “for” a bill that eliminated public financing of campaigns, until they discovered the money would go to fund research for sick children… Better to waste it on Republican candidates than sick children they said (in a roundabout way), and switched their support to one of not…

And we heard again that rape does not result in pregnancy, so keeping abortions facilities around to prevent raped impregnations is absolutely unnecessary, and… we need to ban abortion immediately because, heaven forbid, fetuses are masturbating in the uterus!  Apparently this trend seems to occur mostly with Republican ones.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake had to apologize for his 15-year-old son’s unsavory remarks on Twitter.

July

July 16, 2013: The Senate reached a deal to allow some presidential nominations to come to a vote, avoiding the “Nuclear option” for filibuster reform…

Republicans in Missouri wanted their state Supreme Court to hasten forward their convict’s execution days, since access to acquire the drug to be used, was running out.

Conservative plans to put guns in schools hit a major hurdle as private insurance companies say if so, they’ll pull their insurance coverage away.

Republican Governor Rick Scott wonders why his national guard is not prepared for a hurricane, and discovers the sequester was the culprit….  Their funds were cut by his own Tea Party in Congress.

People whom no one takes seriously, on a network no one takes seriously, wasted a lot of air time blaming Obama for making us into a bi-racial nation, after he gave a few remarks about Trayvon Martin.

Congress takes a recess having passed 15 bills by it’s half year mark. A record low.

August

Arizona Senators who had voted against giving FEMA aid to New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, demand FEMA do more to help their state, beset by a few fires.

Liz Cheney gets busted for lying that she was a Wyoming resident.

The Republican National Committee demands that CNN and NBC not show their prime-time programs on Hillary Clinton, or else they will ban those networks from showing their convention in 2016….  Turns out it was only going to be those two network’s Spanish channels who would be banned….

Republicans who castigated Clinton and Obama for not having sufficiently protected embassies across the world, called the unprecedented closing of 22 embassies over a credible intelligence threat, an act of cowardice….  Darn. There went their plan for Congressional hearings all the way up to 2014 elections….

Republicans complained that the re-enactment of Martin Luther King’s Washington speech had no conservative speakers.  It was subsequently revealed that all those Conservatives who were invited, had declined.

September

Buildup to the Shutdown. Republicans do nothing to stop it.

Ted Cruz gives a pre-shutdown standing “non”–filibuster. Topic, Obamacare.  It was just (yawn) a speech, since it delays no vote…

The month of September was preluded by Republican entreaties that the government shutdown would NOT be the Republican’s fault, since neither Obama nor the Democratic Senate was not accepting their unreasonable demands to repeal Obamacare. The entreaties obviously didn’t work.

John McCain continues his push to arm Syrian’s rebels. Creates inter-party confusion, since, aren’t those rebels Al Qaeda? John says arm them nevertheless… (until Israel tells him otherwise).

Lindsey Graham says not bombing Syria immediately, will cause an all-out Israeli-Syrian War by March 2014….

Florida’s Governor Rick Scott, reschedules an execution since it fell on his Attorney General’s re-election campaign fundraiser date.

As more and more Republicans express hope that shutting down the government and defaulting on our debts are preferable to allowing poor people access to insurance coverage, a shut-down appears more and more likely.

October

The United States federal government was shut down as most routine operations were curtailed after Congress failed to enact legislation appropriating funds for fiscal year 2014, or a continuing resolution for the interim authorization of appropriations for fiscal year 2014…

When asked if Republicans gained anything by forcing the closure on many government functions, Republican Senator Ayotte replied “I think the answer is no.”

GOP Congressman Stutzman explains the very coherent clear objective for the stop-payment on 700,000 people’s paychecks by shutting down government.  “We have to get something out of this; and I don’t even know what that IS.”

Rep. Randy Neugebauer  berates a Park Ranger for closing a war monument that Rep. Randy Neugebauer himself voted to close. The best part of the exchange? Multiple bystanders coming to the ranger’s defense.

Republicans found they could get TV time on networks by falsely appearing  outraged over the closing of War Memorials for which they voted.  Unfortunately no TV time was allotted to children awaiting cancer treatments,  people eating unchecked contaminated food,  mothers whose work depended on Head Start classes teaching their children certain hours every day…. Even the Federal employees who had no income for 17 days, were barely mentioned.  Proving to all that there is nothing fair or balanced with any American news organization.

Republican Party head Reince Priebus states the RNC itself will provide funds to keep the war memorials open.  Two things not mentioned.  They would not be closed in the first place but only for Republican’s irrational enthusiasm for shutting down all government; and that more necessary programs  towards the well-being of this nation,  both economic and defense, would of course not be getting any assistance and would continue to do severe harm. Those two omissions making it clear to all observers  that Republicans are not only stupid, but dangerous to have anywhere near real power.

A rolling right wing extremist truckers brigade was planning on shutting down Washington for an entire weekend by choking the Capitol City’s roads and freeways.   5 trucks showed up.  But that didn’t stop Fox News from showing year’s old footage of trucks stranded on a Georgia Interstate due to a traffic mishap, in its selling of the live and current story…

In his ongoing  effort to prove who is the most irrational Republican Rep Gohmert tells an audience that John McCain, due to his criticism of the Republican shutdown, is secretly employed and on the payroll of Al Qaeda..  And to think, if not for Obama in 2008, he (Al Qaeda)  would have been president!  It has a nice ring to it though… John (Al Qaeda) McCain….

And in case you couldn’t tell… Michelle Bachmann held a press moment to declare, we are now in the ….. “End Times”…  (So that’s why the Eagles are champs of the NFC East.)

Even Norquist condemns the Republican Party…. “I think if you make a mistake as big as what they did, you owe your fellow senators and congressmen a big apology — and your constituents, as well, because nothing they did advanced the cause of repealing or dismantling Obamacare.”

Republican North Carolinian precinct captain,  essentially says the Republican’s party’s prime role, is to make non-whites second class citizens again…  He was pushed out after the interview aired, but not before criticizing his own party for not being KKK enough…

Republicans say defaulting on our debt, which means the government not paying at least some of our bills, is no big deal.   Meanwhile, the actual price the government paid to borrow money for a month rose to its highest level since 2008, more than doubling from just a day earlier.

The shutdown cost the Federal Government $4.8 billion. It lost the economy $24 billion. It shaved 0.6% growth off our GDP.

The Republicans caved just in time.  Newsweek revealed the S & P was minutes away from changing our already lowered AA+ to its lowest category, Selective Default.  the lowest of all 20 of S&P’s grades of non-trustworthiness.

‘Tea Party’ Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, insisted “this was worth having the fight,” even as they were conceding absolute defeat.

To a Republican Party which pretends to be concerned about fiscal conservatism — even as these numbers and many others show they clearly are not — any “victory” found amidst this shutstorm will have to do.

Republicans sum up the month by declaring there is a war on Christmas and only they are the last lines of defense in keeping it from being overcome.  Really.  Would that “war on Christmas” spending have anything to do with a self imposed  $24 billion hit to the economy?

Oh, and on the very day the government shut down to deny all funding for Obamacare,  the website for Obamacare opened… and received considerable amounts of traffic.  Perhaps a little too much traffic. But when one is concerned with focusing all September’s efforts on keeping the entire government from shutting down, are the problems of a tiny single untested website going to get that much pre-scrutiny?

November

November 21, 2013: Nuclear option for filibuster reform was enacted.  The new rule will allow just a simple majority vote for all nominees except for the Supreme Court.  Tipping point was the Republicans filibustering of 3 DC Circuit appointments for spite,  finally pissing off 3 cool-to-the-idea Senators and giving him the majority he needed to make it happen.

Rand Paul plagiarizes on a scale that makes Biden’s remarks 25 years ago just a slip of the tongue.  Biden was kicked out for that?  And Paul is still in?  Oh… I see…  two different parties; two different morales…

Boehner comes clean:  “Frankly, I’ll make clear, we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate (Immigration) bill,”  Note: There are enough favorable bipartisan votes to pass the Senate Immigration Bill in the House of Representatives if it ever came up for a vote.

In Colorado, five hard-right counties voted in November to secede from the state…

Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Jim Wright, was almost denied his voting rights under Texas’ newly passed Voter ID law.  Being in a nursing home, he could not get his drivers license renewed in time to vote.  Not to mention, untold numbers of married women were turned away because their married names had not yet been updated on their ID’s.

December

Congress will close 2013 with 58 bills enacted into law. It’s the lowest one-year output since 1947. 6366 bills were introduced by lawmakers.

“You know, you look around the Congress and there are a lot more females in the Democratic caucus than in the Republican caucus, and some of our members just aren’t as sensitive as they ought to be.” John Boehner, Dec 5, 2013.

House Republicans decide we needed a budget after all…  The Paul Ryan deal with Patty Murray sails through with 60 Tea Partiers thinking it was too liberal, and 30 Progressives thinking it was too Conservative but still making it through with a 3-1 margin, showing the entire world, that the House of Representatives can function very well whenever the Republican Hastert rule is  ignored.

We find out from Fox News that Jesus is white, and so is Santa.   Both apparently look like this.

Realizing Obamacare will doom the Republican Party… California Republicans create a spoof site that mimics California’s healthcare website and mails every constituent a pamphlet directing them to that spoofed site, instead of to the actual one.  Much of California’s clamor over the website problems came from trusting people actually steered towards the wrong website by none other than their elected representatives.

Women must now get rape insurance in Michigan. Purchased separately in advanced.  Otherwise, they were asking for it when they got nailed.

Conservatives who praised Mandela were vilified.  How dare you praise anyone of color.  If you were already of color and shook hands with someone also of color, you were again vilified.  You can’t be “our” president they said, because you don’t hate people enough….

Duck Dynasty proved in Conservative America,  you do not have the right to fire someone for speaking hate and bile,  but you do have the right to fire someone who is in love with anyone you don’t approve.

Republicans piled on the US closing the Vatican’s embassy as a war on religion, even though it was reported it was being simply being upgraded to a new location because of logistics…   (They’ve since scrubbed their website.)  Apparently they’ve never heard of Google, which come to think of it, is probably why their embarrassingly overwhelming loss in 2012 was such a surprise….

Finally, now at the end of the year, the Wall Street journal reports that the  Chamber of Commerce is putting up $50 million in combination with Republican power brokers, to weed out the Tea Party crazies throughout the primaries…  Just as a reality check this is a lot of money;  an average Senator’s campaign war chest usually tops out at close to $1 million.

If you need them, all the sources are here…  You can look them up if you wish.  You should visit him and give him a rec for service well done.  Personally I just wanted a reminder for those times when I get tired, see how little has changed,  and wonder what’s the ‘effin’ point… why is it worth anything that I should keep pounding away at them anymore?….

At such points, I can then come back and  look at this post….

With Healthcare: do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation – which in this case means:

  1. finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance;
  2. to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options;
  3. to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians;
  4. to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law;
  5. to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil.

If you are Republican and this is NOT how you wish to be represented, change your party affiliation to Independent now.

Here is the website…. 

On the day Obama said he would reach out to Congress to assess and damp down the amount of data collected, the NSA and FISA court release a report claiming they only touch 1.6% of the internet traffic in one day!

Of course. I asked myself, isn’t that a lot, and began the search to find how much data is collected off the internet in one day.

Sources say there is 1862 petabytes of daily internet traffic.  Translate to megabytes that comes out to 1,960,652,570,625.0073 megabytes.  

The NSA touches 1.6% of that….  So 1,960,652,570,625.0073 times 0.016 gives us

31,370,441,130 megabytes are collected by the NSA in one day.  That is 31 billion megabytes. 

Or simpler, 1862 petabytes times 0.016 equals 29,21 petabytes or 29,911.04 terrabytes.

The top of the line laptops today can hold 2.5 terrabytes of data.  So the NSA is collecting by their own omission,  the equivalent of 11,964 laptops of data. every day. 

This is collected, stored for later perusal if needed.  In todays world, who has laptops anymore, that translates to 957,153  full smartphones worth of data. 

They further clarify this to say that of the 1.6% of the data, only 0.025% is actually selected for review. Meaning that although the full amount is stored for future reference, they can only look at look at 0.00004% of the world’s traffic or 38 full smartphones each day, or half of one full laptop of data on any given day.

Before  you breathe a sigh of relief, and think you are off the hook, remember these are the exact same people just this past March, who sat in a hearing room in the US capital and told Congress that the US was not collecting and storing any data on US citizens, and that the US had no plans to ever do so….. Just 5 months ago! 

Good chance that number is very low-ball of their capabilities.  Telling the truth is not one of the NSA’s strong points. 

 

Just read that the NSA is pressing for a Justice Dept. probe to find out who leaked the PRISM plan to the Guardian…   I’m slightly befuddled.  Why don’t they just look in their files?  They have the records.

Like a zombie it may rise again.  But around 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon, members of the Senate confided to US News that in the way as the CISPA  House Bill was passed, “that” bill is dead.  Pieces of it may be pushed through the Senate in an effort to preserve the parts that protect our cyber-structure,  but  those pieces designed  to protect sitting politicians…  consider them tossed.

Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), CISPA’s sponsor, has been pushing for such a bill for years, and has repeatedly insisted this will be the year it becomes law. President Obama vowed to veto it if it passed in an answer given to over 100,000 signings of a White House petition… 300,000 people petitioned Congress to scrap it.

Cybersecurity lobbying has doubled in 2012 alone, outspending privacy groups by a factor of 14 to one. …$55 million to $4 million.

Essentually CISPA was supposed to help with cyber attacks.  If we were attacked by a Stuxnet virus, CISPA would drop all privacy issue restraints and allow anyone connected to security to roam through any and all accounts with impunity….

Like credit card numbers.  Like patient information.  Like pictures of you in the nude. Like your contacts and business associates. Once compromised and if anything were to happen to you, say, information was leaked to your boss, or your spouse, or put inside a newspaper for everyone to read, you could not sue, you would have no recourse and most likely, you would be completely unaware this was going on until a friend happened to see it and let you know….

The sponsor of the bill, wrongly says this is absolutely necessary to protect us from threats.  However, not being able to sue because you were fired because you boss saw a medical file showing you were being treated for cancer,  does little to protect us from Chinese hackers.

And that is the problem.  Furthermore,  so much stuff flows on the internet, that asking providers for specific data, is like asking someone to retrieve a certain molecule of water from a flowing river.  If CISPA passed, the internet would grind to a halt, as every search engine, every server, struggled to filter and organize all their data so if asked, they could legally provide.

It is a bad bill. Yet it’s sponsor keeps bringing it back. and back. and back.  Here is the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.  The one CISPA violates.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This is the anti-phishing amendment.  If you don’t have any charges to press, and don’t know of any particular evidence in a person’s possession, it is illegal to go to their house when they are not there, and look around for something to pin on them….  yet that is exactly what  CISPA sponsor Mike Rogers bill will do….

It allows Senator Joesph McCarthy hearings to take place without the hearing.

But more odd is how one private company is all over Mr. Roger’s CISPA, there at its inception, its creation, its Reichstag moment, and it’s demise. That private company is the  cybersecurity consulting firm Mandiant…. who is owned and run by Kevin Mandia out of Alexandria  Virginia.  Kevin Mandia was brought in by Mark Rogers to testify as to the dangers our computer system faced.

“China’s economic espionage has reached an intolerable level,” he said at a congressional hearing in October 2011.  As head of the House Intelligence committee  he held a hearing on “Chinese hacking”  and one of those creating the report, was Kevin Mandia who was thanked by Rogers at the hearing’s end.

At the hearing, cyber security groups were in force to testify, but no privacy groups were allowed inside.  The Conversation was one way with the cyber security groups insisting they would only share anonymous information with each other…  Unfortuately that assertion could not be challenged.

But outside the closed hearing, privacy groups are saying  it would let “companies hand over large swaths” of individuals’ private information “to the government, without a warrant.”  Credit card numbers, bank papers, phone contacts….

Rogers argues that is a consequence, not an intent.  No matter the reasoning behind it, CISPA allows it to happen.  Quite possibly thousands or tens of thousands can be looking over your data because you  happen to bank at Bank of America, or shop at Caldor… or Wal*Mart…. when they came under attack….

Then last year’s version was shot down, Rogers was undeterred.

There “appears to be a new level of threat that would target networks from—I’ve got to be careful here—an unusual source,” he said. He joked about how he wanted to share what he knew but couldn’t, because it was classified.  “I look really bad in those orange jumpsuits with the numbers on the back,” he told his audience…..

Then, almost as if on cue for this spring legislative session, in February 2013. the New York Times announced it had been hit by Chinese hackers, followed shortly by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. Then Twitter, Facebook, and Microsoft. Their stories differed, as did the severity of the attacks, but everybody agreed: These hacks were sophisticated, and they all seemed to come from China…..

You probably remember the headline, just before the House vote on CISPA….

A cybersecurity firm had found the source of those attacks. In no uncertain terms, the firm claimed to have traced the hacking operation to a single, 12-story building outside of Shanghai: People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Unit 61398. Hiding in plain sight, the report said, was a dedicated hacking operation run by the Chinese government…..

And the firm that released it? Mandiant, whose CEO advised Rogers that day.

Mandiant’s report, backed by pages of data and years of research, relies on a few simple pieces of evidence. A loose coalition of similarly styled hacks all stem from the same source, codenamed APT1 (short for “Advanced Persistent Threat”). Mandiant traced the vast majority of the attacks to China—Shanghai, specifically—and noted that Unit 61398 was uniquely capable of sustaining such a sophisticated operation.

What was just said, was that these hack were traced to Shanghai and in Shanghai there is this building so they had to come from there…

Not so fast, says the head of another cyber-security agency. Jeff Carr, CEO of a different cybersecurity firm, Taia Global. He has a different explanation.

“Mandiant provided lots of facts about the PLA, and they provided a lot of facts about how APT1 works, I’m not disputing those.What I’m disputing is the conclusion that they drew. They created a table: In one column was characteristics of the PLA, the other was APT1, and they seemed to believe that the only possible conclusion was that the PLA is APT1. Well, that’s not the only possible conclusion.”   Those other possibilities include Russia, Israel, and France, which the U.S. has acknowledged engages in cyber-espionage. It could also include Ukraine, Taiwan, or Germany. Or “APT1 could just be a group of professional hackers that are stealing information and selling it,” Carr said. “In fact, that makes more sense to me because of the lack of operation security that’s been exhibited by these guys.”

The fact that most hackers’ Internet protocol (IP) addresses trace back to China doesn’t mean much. Those are easy to fake—heck, moderately sophisticated Internet pirates fake theirs all the time to avoid getting caught. China, indignant, countered the Mandiant report, partially on those lines.   “As we all know, hacker attacks almost always steal IP addresses. It is common practice online,” China’s Department of Defense announced after Mandiant’s report, though it also said it traced a million hacks on its own network to the U.S., via those attackers’ IP addresses.

What that says in plain language was that a million hacks came from the US into the Chinese system and then went back to the US.  A million hacks came from the US … just before CISPA was to be voted upon.    And you have this very cozy relationship with the sponsor of the CISPA bill and a cyber security firm which announced earlier that China was one day going to do massive hacks into the United States….

It worked.  It fooled Democrat John Carney.  He voted for CISPA.

“China is like the boogeyman to promote [CISPA],” cyber security specialist Carr added. “If you increase the fear around China, and then you wave CISPA, hopefully you will attract more movement to simply pass that—some blind attempt to heighten security.”

Bottom line is that CISPA would allow private companies (like Facebook, or your Internet service provider) to share your emails, text messages, or stored files with the government for “cybersecurity purposes,” and it would trump the existing laws that allow you to sue those companies for privacy violations.

All you know is that you got fired without cause and escorted out of your building…..

Sharing information is a flawed concept….   It is absolutely the wrong way to thwart an attack.  Such that it appears the main thrust of the bill is to access information, NOT thwart a cyber attack…

To thwart a cyber attack, one must take this approach….

“The solution is to assume your network is going to be breached, and you need to be able to identify what’s of value on that network, and segregate it and monitor it in real time. If somebody does gain access, and they’re accessing it from an IP address you don’t recognize or at a time of day where they shouldn’t be, you can immediately lock down that file. It’s known as data protection.    “It’s like the TSA. You tried to bring a bomb aboard in your shoe, so from now on we’ll just have everybody take off their shoes. 

But, as for now these details are all for naught ….

CISPA’s gone, one more round, CISPA’s gone…..

Republicans Have Feeding Frenzy Over Beyonce's Trip To Havana
Courtesy of Sprinkler Scape.

Republicans gorge themselves over having a second black couple to diss….
Yum,Yum,Yum.

Norman Rockwell's Ideal of American Children in School
Courtesy of the Ale Party

The silliness of Wayne Lapierre is evident in one glance. Quick question. Why do no other nations arm their classrooms?

They don’t sell guns to nuts.

Joke of the day. In response to the pleas of squirrels during squirrel season, The Almighty invented the NRA so “nuts” armed with military weapons, could now shoot humans back…. 🙂