Archive for March, 2010

The save Rhee campaign has begun

Bill Turque of all people:

Still, should Gray actually win in September, both he and Rhee stand to lose by parting company. Gray would face criticism from school reform advocates, locally and nationally, who like Rhee. He could also find private foundations less willing to invest their millions in D.C. schools with someone else in the chancellor’s office.

Should Gray prevail in September it would be evidence that school deform advocates are a minority within the city. And if private foundations are only interested in giving money to projects that are abhorrent to voters, better our mayor say thanks but no thanks to their money. I am not sure that Gray understands that, which is why I lean towards Sulaimon Brown.

Virtual shanty town

Foreclosure Hamlet

I have not checked this out, so cannot attest to the quality or integrity.

The creative class case for Fenty

Adam gay-marraige-is-my-only-issue Bink

From what I’ve read and observed from Gray over the past few years, much of Gray’s criticism is based on style and less on policy substance. A lot of sentiment here is that Fenty governs as a competent, but arrogant Mayor who treats the Council as a fiefdom, something with which I agree (see here for more). Or, as the DCist blog put it, “Poll Shows Fenty’s Personality Sucks, But Not His Policies“. The narrative the traditional media will probably beat is that that Gray has an opportunity to appeal to African-Americans- one poll had Fenty at 22% approval in that community, and Gray represented Ward 7, a 97% African-American ward on the east side of the Anacostia River, with some of the highest rates of poverty in the city. January’s WaPo poll showed Gray leading Fenty by thirty points among African-American registered Democrats in a matchup. What will really be interesting to me is how the candidates talk on the stump about their support for the city’s new law legalizing same-sex marriage equality.

The problem with Fenty isn’t that he is too brash, the problem with Fenty is that he has zero respect for the law.

You would think that someone might look at Fenty’s dismal approval ratings with black voters and intuit that something was very wrong. You would be mistaken.

The problem with Fenty is his illegal disaster capitalism maladministration that is trashing DC’s already troubled school system, his cuts to DC’s childcare program, giving away public property to his cronies, and abuse of the city’s contracting laws.

If Fenty prevails it will be because many people, especially white voters, willfully ignore the obvious signs of corruption.

Nigerian email contract 2.0

Bill Turque for the Washington Post: D.C. teachers contract may be close, union chief says

In an e-mail to teachers Wednesday night, George Parker said the union is “finalizing discussions” with the D.C. school system on a tentative agreement, which is expected to include a 20 percent salary increase over five years, a voluntary pay-for-performance plan and increased latitude for Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee to fire or reassign teachers. …

… Parker and Rhee both have every incentive to wrap up the contract. Parker faces a challenge from WTU General Vice President Nathan Saunders in union elections scheduled for May. Without a deal that puts more money in teachers’ pockets, he could face a tough race. In Saunders, Rhee would be dealing with a new union president who has been among her most bitter critics.

Well, I can’t prove that Parker has been actively complicit with Rhee, I can’t even point to any specific evidence of that save this his acts of commission and omission have consistently undermined the union. What I can say is that were I a DC teacher, I would vote for Nathan Saunders.

Obama does something right

Binyamin Netanyahu humiliated after Barack Obama ‘dumped him for dinner’

After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.

Obama snubbed Netanyahu for dinner with Michelle and the girls, Israelis claim

Benjamin Netanyahu was left to stew in a White House meeting room for over an hour after President Barack Obama abruptly walked out of tense talks to have supper with his family, it emerged on Thursday

I was glad that Obama’s first call to a foreign leader as president was to the Palestinian Authority.

The only way we will ever have peace in the Middle East is if Israel knows tha the days of calling the foreign policy shots in the US are over and done with.

Neither health, nor care, nor reform

What Natasha said:
Choice, dying by inches, is already a near fiction for many (4.00 / 4)
If you can’t get something, choice is meaningless. Right now, for example, 87 percent of counties don’t have any facilities that perform abortions, and a third of US women live in them.

Because the required travel costs more, and takes more time to raise money for, women may require later term abortions. Both later term abortions and abortions with complications can run many thousands of dollars, which just isn’t an amount many families can pay up front.

There’s more about the Nelson language here, but the two-check rule, as well as the mandate that equivalent plans be made available that don’t cover abortion, means that a lot of women will find themselves needing an abortion that their employer or male head of household already decided not to bother covering. That’s two levels of approval a woman has to go through, as well as facing the social stigma of even wanting the option.

The administrative overhead will be such that it isn’t even clear many providers will offer such coverage. And the likelihood that only a very small pool of people will even be willing to purchase it guarantees higher costs anyway.

The promise from the administration and Congressional leadership at the beginning was that this bill would be choice-neutral and that people could keep the coverage they had. It isn’t choice-neutral, and it will strip abortion coverage from many women who have it. We were lied to and sold out.

Further, reproductive justice advocates were hoping to campaign against the Hyde amendment. Now, Obama has forestalled action on that until 2014.

And let’s take on that class issue. Of the women who get abortions, 61% are already mothers who don’t believe they can care for their families adequately with another mouth to feed. This bill has taken contraception coverage out of the required benefits, and IIRC, the expanded conscience clause would pre-empt state mandates for contraception mitigating this. Further, women with one child often find, or know already, that having a second child can mean extreme damage to her future income potential, with the pay and promotion discrimination extended to mothers increasing near exponentially with further children.

It’s a recipe for permanent impoverishment of women and their families, so we can expect to see the number of poor people under that threshold go up. Instead of making it easier for women to delay childbearing, and many women who have abortions go on to have children later when they’re better situated, this bill makes it more likely that they’ll be stuck in a lifelong cycle of poverty that their children will inherit.

Reproductive health care and empowerment to determine their own family spacing is the core issue of female poverty, as well as the feminization of poverty. The president and Congress decided that didn’t matter, though.

And as an aside, the bill also did very little for those 55-64, many of whom have been rendered all but unemployable by the recession and the higher costs of their coverage compared to younger workers.

So while there’s help in it, while there’s a team victory in it, this bill perpetuates both corporate rent-seeking and systemic discrimination against women. Being probably the only bite at the apple we’ll get, yes, I’m angry. Having been defined as some wiggy, far left-wing thing, when it’s the unholy love child of Romney and McCain’s plans, yes, I’m angry.

This was handled badly and the ‘center’ has been pushed farther towards unapologetic misogyny. So no, I’m not happy.

The way we live now

Chris Hedges

We live in a culture characterized by what Benjamin DeMott called “junk politics.” Junk politics does not demand justice or the reparation of rights. It always personalizes issues rather than clarifying them. It eschews real debate for manufactured scandals, celebrity gossip and spectacles. It trumpets eternal optimism, endlessly praises our moral strength and character, and communicates in a feel-your-pain language. The result of junk politics is that nothing changes, “meaning zero interruption in the processes and practices that strengthen existing, interlocking systems of socioeconomic advantage.”