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Donald Trump!  Would my son, Captain Khan, have a place in your America?   NO………
Donald Trump!. Would Muslims have a place in your America?  
NO…………………
Donald Trump!   Would Latinos have a place in your America?   NO…………………
Would Afro-Americans have a place in your America, Donald Trump?
NO………
Would anyone who is not like you, Donald Trump, have a place in your America? NO………
Well thankfully, Mr. Trump….. This isn’t your America…………….
 

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They were 39 days late… but we got them… The preliminary Smarter Balanced Assessments….

The big takeaway was:  is that all there is to it?

We’ve been arguing over this for 4 years.  (I’ve been doing it for 3). We’ve spent $119 million dollars of Race To The Top Money to bring this to fruition. And we’ve been promised so much good would come from this test that we had no choice BUT to go forward with it…

But looking at the scores, it is the same as it ever was….  Nothing changed.  Kids didn’t learn more. Kids may have learned less. If one takes the word of students and teachers, each student spent 8 hours taking this test spread over an average of 3.25 days…

At 70,000 Delawarean students taking the test, a total of 560,000 learning hours were spent on this actual test… One has to ask if that is worth the cost…

Over half a million hours were spent on this test…  just so we can fire teachers.  Is that the best use of our students time?  Or should every parent be concerned with this, and insist that we return to the DCAS, one which took far less time and unlike this test, gave teachers feedback they could give students immediately afterwards.

Because we all know.

If experts say 8 years olds should be able to jump over a 3 foot high bar and you raise it to 5 feet, you are going to have fewer successful jumps… So anyone who says “see, how terrible education is today?: by looking at these scores, needs to be laughed out, ridiculed, and then ignored….  Because they don’t mean anything… Nothing at all.

The real question that needs to be asked is this…  By raising the bar to 5 feet, did more people jump over the 3 foot bar then before…  That data would tell us if this program was a success or failure…

But we don’t have that data… All we know is that fewer people “passed” because we made “passing” beyond the capabilities of all but our most developed and well trained….

So.. parents… is this truly worth $119 million dollars?  So teachers…. is this truly worth $119 million dollars… So administrators… is this truly worth $119 million dollars?

Money that was taken from reading coaches that the Minner administration placed in every school.  Money that was taken from math coaches that the Minner administration placed in every school.  Money that was taken from having a policeman in every school…  Money that was taken from supplying classrooms.  Money that was taken from extra curricular activities.  Money that was taken from the libraries.  Money that was taken away from field trips. Money that was taken away…  .. from you… After all, it is your money now being spent on this…

Did you get all the worth over what you paid?   Are your kids Smarter?  Do they seem more balanced?

If yes, we can’t knock the program … It appears to have worked… But if no, then as many of us have pointed out, this is a boondoggle of epic proportions….

So, when you looked over the preliminaries… did you too say…. “Is that all there is?

Someone is getting rich… somewhere…

Yesterday, the first day of the Republican Congress, a bill was rushed through the House and passed:  requiring the Congressional Budget Office to use dynamic scoring when figuring out future budgets…

Republicans have been saying lower taxes cause the economy to grow and that growth generates more revenue. They’ve said that for years… We’ve tried it for the past 15 but things got worse for all of us, instead of better…

Last couple of years, under Paul Ryan (that little whiz-boy from Wisconsin), they tried writing budgets for their first time and found, that everything they have been saying, was indeed wrong…  The math would not work out…

The reason the math would not work out, is because of a simple fact that when you don’t pay your bills and instead splurge and waste that bill-money, at some future point there will be a reckoning.   Like if you choose spend your mortgage, electricity bill, water bill, gas bill money on big-ticket orgies, there comes a point where you are left dry, cold, in the dark, and have no domicile.

This is terrible they said… What can we do… ..

The answer obvious to any 5 year old, is to pretend.    We can pretend that we will get tons of money later and pay our debts off then…

So we convince ourselves that IF we spend $10,000 over budget, we will soon be making $100,000 more so we can pay it back then.  IF we get a $10,000 raise every year, then next year we just run the same as this, and have $10,000 extra dollars with which to pay it back.

Now this does work if you are indeed guaranteed to get $10,000 increases every year… What dynamic scoring does is make the assumption we will set-in-stone increases to our salary by $10,000 every year for ten years straight.  So your yearly income will climb like this:

  • Base rate:  $40,000 per year
  • After Year One:  $50,000 per year
  • After Year Two   $60,000 per year
  • After Year Three  $70,000 per year
  • After Year Four   $ 80,000 per year
  • After Year Five   $90,000 per year
  • After Year Six   $100,000 per year
  • After Year Seven $110,000 per year
  • After Year Eight $120,000 per year
  • After Year Nine $130,000 per year
  • After Year Ten:  $140,000 per year

Then what they do is add all these together and come up with an argument like this…  We can easily afford this orgy and hire Taylor Swift to sing for it because look, over ten years we are going to earn $990,000 so we can easily pay back the $10,000 we blow on ourselves right now… ( Now if you’ve been a Republican shut out from parties for a long while, not being invited to do the bump with Jerry Jones) just hearing this may make you decide to jump in, no clothes and all.

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But here is reality… You probably are not going to get a $10,000 (25%) raise… Let us look at this logically.. How long have you been working?  How many $10,000 raises have you ever gotten before?  Did any of your costs also rise with that raise, so you really didn’t have all that money to spend?  Across history, was there ever a time when $10,000 raises per year were the norm?  If not, why would they suddenly start now?

So what usually happens in households that pursue false dreams, is that if they do not tie expenses to actual income, they usually come up short and that shorted gap grows bigger and bigger.

Here is what to expect in reality… The first year we spend $10,000 over what we make.  It is either loaned to us, or we simply just skip paying our bills for one year… The next year we not only again spend $10,000 more than we make, but we still make the same $40,000… So that year on our $40,000 income we owe $10,000 from year one, and $10,000 from year two. We can’t live on just $20,000 in order to pay it all back… So, assuming we will get much more income the following year, we stretch the loan a little further…  But again, no raise comes that year.

Where we pretended that we would be making $60,000 by that year (year 3) {and over the three year span would have accumulated $150,000 (40,000 + 50,000 + 60,000), enabling us to pay back three years ($30,000) of $10,000 overdrafts having $120,000 left over}… Instead due to a lack of “pretended raise” amounts,  we only got $120,000 over those three years, and borrowed $10,000 each year, so our net balance is $90, 000, which as you see divided by 3, equals $30,000 per year, whereas our regular living expenses continued at the original $40,000 per year.Yet we live like we are making $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 each subsequent year due to our over-extended loans….

This is dynamic scoring…. It should be illegal, and until yesterday, it was.

It is possible, it can work if the assumptions work out… So one must look at the assumptions very carefully to see if they are realistic… Dynamic scoring has only one reason for existence.  To convince people who don’t want to spend that hard earned money of theirs on a risky venture, to go ahead and spend it on that risky venture by consoling them it will be painless when looked back upon from the future.

And the” risky venture” this time, is again take the bulk of your money and hand it over to the top one percent, giving them even more power over you… If you do that these people say, money will just grow for them and everyone will be rich…. give them your money; give it to them now.

Alas we’ve tried that already… We didn’t get rich. For it, we got a very deep recession, We got the 1% owning more than ever; the 99% owning less. We got 80% of our population living day to day, week to week, just a little above subsistence…  We went backward.  Now with this Congress we are about to have a new battle of inequality on a level unseen in America, And this time: it will all take place up within the top 1%… Who among them will win the final championship monopoly game?.. Who will lose?… It matters little to most of us, Most of us were eliminated long time ago.

But first, for all of this to occur, they first have to change the way we do math itself in order to justify it, because it doesn’t work out their way using real numbers.  And that, my friends,… is what was done yesterday.

Actually it was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights act that brought this home…   The Civil Rights Act among many other things enforced the  role a Federal Government should have over the national character.  Prior, if the South behaved in one way, that was acceptable.  If the North behaved in another, that was acceptable…

The Civil Rights Act stated that some behaviors are indeed deemed not acceptable.  It dealt with opposing local laws, opposing local enforcements of segregation, and opposing  individual business practices  perpetuated by the wishes of small handfuls of individual business owners who like Hobby Lobbyists, thought they could do what they liked….

The Civil Rights Act in no uncertain terms, said:  No! We are a nation of principles embodied in our Constitution as well as our Declaration of Independence, and you cannot violate those principles in the name of “your” personal freedom….

Hobby Lobby sort of changes all that… The big fear is that it just opened a door so that corporations can freely do whatever they feel is best, and that any legislation voted and signed, now has no real impact upon them because they are after all: … corporations….  You have all read the slippery slope theories and so I won’t redo them.  But slippery slopes have a tendency to sometimes be idle warnings….  A lot of people walk on slippery slopes; very few fall off… In part that may be due to warnings from others that they are on slippery slopes and to be be careful…  Just like a road sign of a car with skid marks makes one say, “oh yeah, that’s right, it’s raining, I’d better take this curve slower.” and possibly affect the outcome of that turn….

But slippery slope or not, the Hobby Lobby decision does do this:  it says that what a government says you have to do, you don’t have to do, provided you can find a reason that is valid for you not doing so…

And that is rather Libertarian.

It makes one sigh that history is a lost art.  Because there were times in our history when Libertarianism indeed was the predominant philosophy…. So why was there never a Libertarian Party?   After all, one would think that a dominant philosophy would have a Libertarian Party, correct?

How soon we forget…..  The reason there was no libertarian party formed to compete against other parties is because during this time of Libertarianism, there was no structure of Government requiring organized parties….  Of course I am referring to the times under the Articles of Confederation….  When the idealism of throwing off the king of England, made the predominant meme that one of “not taking on a new authority to replace the role of the other”….

The reason we don’t have a Libertarian run government today, is because the reality turned out to be that it could not work.  It’s own beliefs worked against its own existence…  How can you have an effective government telling you what to do when your government was founded on its not being able to tell you what to do?….

So, America’s top citizens at that time scrapped the Confederation, established a Constitution, and today, we are still here…. Debating Libertarianism rampant in today’s court….

Just looking over the final stats, I did see that the percentage of  cases in which this Supreme Court decided things 5-4 were only 13%. Yet, its 9-0 decisions marked 65% of this year’s final tally.  So it is with a grain of salt that we should dismiss the entire court… In doing so we fail to see the wisdom behind having the third branch of government…  It allows for the last look.

This year the average age of the Supreme Court is 68….  it’s average composite would have been born in 1946… would have gone through grade school in the 50’s while segregation was perfectly legal, would have been a high school senior the year Kennedy was shot,  college would have structured by the military-industrial complex, being too soon they would have missed out on the protests of ’68 onward, would think Jersey Boys were the ultimate musical group ever, would never try drugs, would have been disappointed in the 70’s as that decade’s media ridiculed all the structure with which they grew up and made them iconoclasts inside their own world, would always fondly remember Mom at home and Dad always working to the bone, would be in their late 30’s when Reagan came into in office, and see in his grandfather qualities the fondness of the times they grew up, would be 45 when the Soviet Union imploded, 57 when we invaded Iraq, 62 when the Global Depression hit, and now stand at the cusp of 68…

Justice Kennedy.  The swing.  Appointed by a someone today dead 10 years, 27 days,  elected 34 years ago this November…. Thirty four years…  Ironically half a lifetime of a 68 year old.  In some cultures, a grandparent.   Who ironically, when that president was sworn in, the number one single was “Imagine”…..

Today, people under 20 years of age make up over a quarter of the U.S. population (27.3%), and people age 65 and over make up one-eighth (12.8%)…The national median age is 36.8 years…

So to say the Supreme Court is representative of all of America is bolderdash…  Nothing could be further from the truth… But perhaps that was exactly the point in how the Supreme Court came to have as much power as it does, now checking the other two branches?

Originally the Supreme Court was an appendage organ of the Constitution.  It’s power was sharpened only 30 years after the Constitution was founded when changes were being made by Congress and the Executive Branch, that woke up the Supreme Court and stirred it into saying,… “Hey, no!  That is not what the Constitution meant.  We were there! We know…”   It was kind of hard to refute that argument back then…  If you walked and talked with Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, you probably had a better grasp on the  Constitution than some thirty year punk still green behind their ears….

It is a global common tendency of youth to dismiss the wisdom of their elders…  “You don’t know because you don’t live in our world now”, is a very common expression in most households of teenagers no matter what upbringing those old children have had. I fondly remember my frustration with my own parent’s conservatism, thinking they were incapable of thinking anything different what they had been told to think.  My children made me realize otherwise.  In fact, once I was seasoned I was surprised to learn that my parents thought they were the rebels dismissing the conservative attitudes their parents had bestowed, and were proud they were the cutting edge of liberal child-raising in their day… Furthermore, in candid discussions with my grandparents, I was quite surprise to hear how they threw out the patterns of THEIR parents and raised their children using the cutting liberalism of child raising in THEIR day…   Bottom line, my great grandparents must have been REALLY conservative…  And now, according to my children… I’m just like they were….

No one would let a child run a family.  No one should let a 30 year old run a business.  No one should have a 40 year old run a nation… But we do.  Rarely does it work….

Point is:  the Supreme Court will always play it’s role… That role is to look at fundamental changes and decide how they stack up to the Constitution…  As a periphery example of what could happen without this type of check, just review what happened to our own economy since the Bush tax cuts went into effect.  With a new crowd taking over our economy since 2000, dismissing the old tried and true policies, we have seen how destructive new untested fads can be… Imagine if an economic court of New Dealers had been present to say “NO, this is the 1920’s all over?”  Our national debt could be zero now.  The same is true in government.  Were Congress to become completely bought out, and sell our votes for arbitration, and there were no check?  The end of the world as we know it.

Will old geezers always be right?  No.

But if they are wrong, natural forces congeal and work harder to overturn the well-intentioned but error-filled decisions.  Slavery took a war.  Segregation took television beatings of a proud race to show us that intimidation would not work; beatings wouldn’t stop “being right” from moving forward.

But if the geezers are right, it stops bad right then and there….

Not to absolve the Supreme Court but their primary function isn’t to distinguish between “right” or “wrong”.  Their job specifically, is to see how our system of laws stacks up to our Constitution… by looking at one challenged law at a time.  Sometimes when they do, it comes up right…. and sometimes when they do, it doesn’t….

If you think the Court was wrong,  and if you think it is out of touch, YOU HAVE AN OBLIGATION  to vote Democratic in 2014, and to express to all others, both Republican and Democrat  the importance of THEIR voting democratic as well in 2014 to send this signal, and we will see, just how wrong this court is…. If you can’t get out the vote… then gee, maybe the court was right after all.

Which… as the framers of the Constitution intended, in the end, puts us, the American people….  firmly in charge of our government….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today the Brits are putting up a motion to curb their end of the spying racket…  The proponent putting up the piece that should get wide spread support, is of course… a liberal democrat….

The bill –  would make sure Britain’s spy agencies could never intercept calls or data without a specific warrant . Furthermore, is sets up a demand that the parliamentary regulatory body which oversees intelligence gathering, be made up not of secret appointees, but be chosen by an open election on the floor of the House of Commons.

“We’re very conscious of the need not to prevent the security services doing their work, but there are certainly gaps in the law. That much is clear.” says the pusher of that bill,  Mr.David Health.

Quotes from the Floor…

“But any surveillance and any clandestine operation in a democracy raises questions, he says. These can’t be answered by the agencies or the executivebut only by the legislature. Such as: where are the boundaries between privacy and legitimate intelligence gathering? What controls are in place to prevent abuse? Where are the limits of secrecy? How does our legislation and capability measure up to the latest technology? How comprehensive is the scrutiny and legal framework?”

“He has received assurances from ministers that the security services are not acting outside the law – but the law cannot keep up with their capabilities,”

“We need to deal not only with direct interception of communications but also collection of communications metadata. That is “an area where the law is silent.  We need to deal with the UK collection and that of allies,”

“The security services cannot police themselves”, he says.  “Their focus is on doing the best possible job – the job of parliament is to set the proper boundaries for their work”, he says.

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In summary the ideas are sound… One cannot be unbiased when monitoring ones self.  That we ever thought so is madness.  It is therefore paramount that we follow some of the Brits’ ideas over here and make those who are in charge of our intelligence also be voted from the floor of Congress in a public debate as is any law or appointment,  and not be appointed in private by the head of  the legislative body with no accountability…

Furthermore,  having a true court hearing and not a rubber stamp session each time when approving the wiretapping or Constitutionality of data collection, would impact greatly on the credibility of any legitimate act of data extraction performed in the future….

Filibuster for Appointees

Please.  Save  us your speeches on how Democracy was ruined with the full Senate’s vote today to allow a 51 majority vote for judicial  and political approvals.  

Democracy wasn’t ruined today.  It was saved.  The Constitution is explicit when it states that it allows the Executive to pick his staff and to choose his judicial appointees at will, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Senate has consistently failed to fulfill its obligation to consent, and thereby has put the Constitution in jeopardy.  Things can now progress as the founding fathers so desired…. 

The Constitution was saved. The enemies of the Constitution were beaten.  We must recognize, the true heroes are again the American People; for they are the ones responsible for establishing the composition of the Senate, thereby enabling it to accomplish this rather important milestone.

This is their victory.