Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Michelle Rhee, Wisconsin, and the Attack on Teachers

In Current Events, Education on February 27, 2011 at 21:47

Michelle Rhee has proven she is willing to fire people. Her short but impactful  (3.5 year) stint as Chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools, where she earned $357,000 a year, proves that. I too could fire 300 teachers as Rhee did for that much money. If I could only fire 300 politicians who blindly support the latest in educational “reform”, we would get somewhere. I would start with Obama’s Education Secretary Arnie Duncan.

The voters in Washington, D.C. did in essence fire Rhee by voting out the man who had hired her, Mayor Adrian Fenty. Moreover, Rhee and her policies were cited by voters and analysts as one of the reasons Fenty lost his reelection bid. http://markganzersblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/special-report-michelle-rhees-miracle.html

I commend D.C. residents who defend teachers with their vote while the White House and Congress continue their assault on the teaching profession with “Race to the Top.” Read more about Race to the Top here: https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/stop-the-race-to-national-standards-and-race-to-the-top/ .

When she started her tenure in D.C, Rhee had never run a school district. She taught in Baltimore and falsely claimed that in three years she raised test scores of her low ranking students to the top 10 percentile.  Even if her claims were true, Watson the Jeopardy winning computer could have taught kids to regurgitate the answers to a standardized test.

In a February 26, 2011 interview on NPR, Democrat Michelle Rhee further attacks the unions.

Here’s how clearly misguided Michelle Rhee is in regards to teachers unions. She states in her NPR interview that, “…there is no organized national interest group that has the heft that the unions and other groups do who are advocating on behalf of children.”

It doesn’t take much knowledge of teaching to know that teachers and their unions are interest groups that have always worked on behalf of students. That is why people become teachers. They want to help students. So to state that there are no national groups working on behalf of children is to ignore reality and once again blame teachers and their unions for the perceived failing of our public schools. Rhee’s limited analysis also excludes the obvious economic and social factors that affect a child’s capacity to learn.

I understand that education is a complex issue and that there are many factors that hamper classroom learning. I also understand that Michelle Rhee seems incapable of looking at a complex issue, seeing the multitude of factors, and developing comprehensive solutions. What she is good at is firing teachers and laying the blame on them.

Alfie Kohn explains how the desire to fire and blame teachers has developed in our nation and how Michelle Rhee and other “experts” take political advantage of this framing.

They emerge from a specific cultural context. Specifically, this double-barreled strategy seems to reflect:

* an arrogance on the part of decision makers that expresses itself in a predilection for top-down control — doing things to people rather than working with them;

* the low esteem in which the profession of teaching is held. (It would seem outrageous for professionals in most other fields to be told how to do their jobs, particularly by people who aren’t even in their field);

* a widespread tendency to blame individuals rather than examining the structural causes of problems — something that distorts our understanding of such varied topics as cheating, self-discipline, competition, character education, and classroom management;

* the outsize influence on education of business-oriented models, with a particular emphasis on quantification and standardization; and

* the assumption that teaching consists of filling up little pails with information. If learning were understood instead as the active construction of ideas, it would seem odd, to say the least, to mandate certain teaching styles or a single curriculum for all students at a given grade level.

While there’s no official name for the dual strategy of micromanaging teachers and trying to root out the bad ones, it might as well be called ‘Operation Discourage Bright People from Wanting to Teach’.

Can you imagine someone going into a hospital, looking at a few charts and then firing half the doctors because they weren’t performing to a set of medical testing data? Most members of Congress would lose their jobs if they had to perform to criteria many of them want to impose on teachers, and they would not put up with it.

Teachers are an easy target in our society that looks for simple solutions. They will be easier to control if Governors like Walker of Wisconsin and others can eliminate the collective bargaining power of teachers’ unions.

Clearly, Rhee wants to join in the chorus of lazy “experts” who want to blame the unions and ignore the actual factors involved in classroom education.

Rhee also discounts experience in her analysis of educational “problems” and attacks “LIFO” (last in first out) policies in many schools. Her lack of experience and over-inflated evaluation of her Baltimore success explains why she would go after experienced teachers. Firing tenured teachers is a way to save money in budget conscious schools and a way to go after unions. Like any other job, experience counts in teaching. The problem school “reformers” have with experienced teachers is that they will more likely question the top down, test dependant methods that are being forced on schools. They are a source of resistance to the high-stakes testing that has been promoted by our last two presidents and accepted as the norm in most states.

“Reformers” like Rhee and Arnie Duncan can’t put up with their authority being challenged. Thus, they must create reasons to fire long-time teachers that have good records and few if any complaints against them. Certainly, we have all had teachers in school that taught too long and lost their edge. However, that is no reason to fire experienced teachers.

Teacher evaluation in the states is heavily or exclusively weighted on high-stakes tests. At best, these tests score memory and how well students handle stress. Teaching originality, creativity, problem solving and cognitive reasoning are not valued nor evaluated when scoring teachers under this new testing obsessed regimen.


More on Rhee’s  not so stellar performance in D.C.

Lies about Students First

Recall Walker:

Read more about Race to the Top:

Tex Shelters

Obama is Either With us or Against Us

In Current Events, Economics on February 23, 2011 at 18:46

Howard Fineman thinks Obama is doing the right thing by standing back and not commenting (not much at least) about the Wisconsin labor protests.

Certainly, Howard Fineman makes valid points that Obama is standing back and letting the Republicans attack workers to the President’s political advantage. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-tv/howard-fineman-lawrence-odonnell-unions_b_826927.html

However, it’s not an all or nothing proposition. There are several things Obama can do and keep from being drawn into the fray. How about making a speech about workers rights and fiscal challenges? How about having your press secretary make a statement like, “state budgets are a concern for all governors, and one should not use this crisis to diminish the rights of citizens.” It can be that vague, but it would support the workers in a way that wouldn’t risk the president’s political capital, the little he has left.

Knowing that the President of the United States supports your rights can do a lot to boost the morale of the protesters. Why does Obama constantly avoid such opportunities except when a congresswoman is shot.

The protests in Wisconsin, and other issues, are not all or nothing for Obama. Making a positive statement defending workers rights to collective bargaining would be a great start to rebuilding Obama’s reputation with the left.

Or am I just another liberal the White House has a penchant for insulting?

Tex Shelters

Arizona’s Budget a Model for the Nation

In Current Events, Economics, Election Politics on February 20, 2011 at 17:47

While tens of thousands march in Madison, Wi. as their governor attacks collective bargaining so he can unilaterally cut wages in the future without talking to workers, the Arizona state legislature passes a $538 million tax cut for corporations. The Republicans in the state argue that it will create more jobs, but there is no evidence that tax cuts create jobs. A drop in unemployment following a tax cut does not prove causality any more than a drop in unemployment after a tax raise.

As Jon Shure from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. points out in the Arizona Republic,

There is no guarantee the money a business saves from a tax cut, such as the nearly 30-percent cut to the corporate income tax Arizona lawmakers just approved, will stay in the state, he said.

Meanwhile, budget cuts could dull a state’s appeal to employers looking for skilled workers or a strong school system, he said.

“The role of taxes is making sure you have the resources to invest in the things that make a healthy economy,” Shure said. Those range from a reliable transportation network to safe, livable communities.

“There’s so much more that makes a business decide to move than taxes,” Shure said. “Such as, ‘How do I move goods to market, how near am I to my customers, what about a skilled work force?’ “

In the meantime, Governor Brewer and the Republican controlled legislature also cut programs that help thousands of Arizona. First, there are the cuts to Medicaid that have been approved by the Obama administration.

The effects, unsurprisingly, could be devastating. In Arizona, if Governor Jan Brewer’s budget is enacted, 280,000 poor people will lose their Medicaid benefits.


“HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has approved a request by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to cut the number of Medicaid beneficiaries in the state by 250,000, saving $541.5 million, according to a Bloomberg report.

Interesting that the tax cuts equal about $538 million, nearly the same amount as the cuts to Medicaid.

This cut is on top of the cuts to AHCCCS payments for transplants, a savings of a meager $1.4 million, which lead to two deaths of people on the top of the transplant list. As of November 2010, there were 98 people on the transplant waiting list in Arizona. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7357081n If you want to lure people, jobs and corporations to Arizona, perhaps a functioning health system is a good place to start.

Forget about insuring children. KidsCare, a program to give insurance to children 200% below the poverty level is gone. Healthy Arizona, a program to insure poor adults, has also been eliminated. Do you see a pattern here? If you are poor and live in Arizona, help is NOT on the way. But please feel free to serve the rest of us our fast food, clean our toilets, stand outside holding signs with arrows pointing toward strip mall tax services or work our call centers for us.

Cutting health care for the poor will lead to higher use of more costly critical care services and in the long run not save the state money. However, most Republicans in Arizona can’t show any signs of weakness: caring for those less fortunate. Eventually the health care costs get passed on to the rest of us through higher insurance premiums, premiums the state dare not regulated.

As long as the increase is not paid for in taxes up front, the politicians in Phoenix can create distance between themselves and the rising health care costs. People in Arizona will continue to vote in a majority Republican legislature. That is until them scary Mexicans take over the state, but that’s for another article.

Moreover, state workers in Arizona have been given a 5% pay cut, mostly through furloughs. As long as corporations get their tax cuts, things will work out, right?

Corporations depend on consumer and government spending. The tax cuts that are created to help companies will lead to more public sector lay-offs and less consumer spending. These cuts and layoffs will further damage the already fragile consumer confidence of those lucky enough to have work while hurting those less well off in Arizona. This will hurt the companies Brewer thinks she is helping. Of course, we know what companies will really benefit with further layoffs and cuts in pay: the private prison industry. Brewer is indebted to them, specifically the Corrections Corporation of America, for supporting her reelection, so that’s no big deal.  (Link)

Cuts to education, around $300 million dollars this year alone for k-12 and college http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/mar2010/ariz-m22.shtml , will leave Arizona’s children unprepared for the workforce. With rising tuition, students will be priced out of universities unless they take on tens of thousand of dollars in debt. With few prospects of good jobs, fewer people will take on the cost of a four-year degree. Community colleges, the best U.S. contribution to education in the last fifty years, will have larger enrollments. However, with budget cuts, colleges will have trouble meeting the demands of this growing population.

So while the Arizona legislation cuts programs helping the poor and middle classes in Arizona, they give away money to corporations with the hopes that jobs will appear like manna from the sky.

Please call the Governor and tell her how wrong she is.
Telephone (602) 542-4331
Toll Free 1-(800) 253-0883 (within Arizona only)

Tex Shelters

For Real Patriots Like John Boehner, Money is More Important than People

In Current Events, Economics on February 16, 2011 at 00:09

It’s nice to see true patriots like John Boehner state gods only truth: money is more important than people. When asked about the budget and the cutting of federal jobs, he didn’t hesitate when saying, “If some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it. We’re broke. It’s time for us to get serious about how we’re spending the nation’s money.” (link)
Now that’s the (Republican) spirit!

We can’t have jobs when there are deficits to address. Besides, we are talking about government jobs like meat and water inspectors, so who cares? What has clean water and healthy food ever done for us except make us obese?

No, we need to slash all jobs and all raises for the blood sucking federal workers. Unlike the bank CEOs, federal workers haven’t earned a pay raise. In addition, families don’t need planning, so we can cut family planning Title X money. If women want to be hussies, why should we pay for it. Besides, abstinence only works, so work it!

And while we are cutting, let’s cut all energy programs, Energy Star, energy research, grants to the poor and so forth. If there’s anything we learned from the uprising in Egypt is that our oil supply is safe. That’s why we should cut all rail transit funds as well. We just don’t need to save the oil. Besides, we have the armed forces to protect our oil supply, so we can’t cut military spending.

The real question is how far Obama will bend over for the Republicans and his corporate masters.

Check out the full budget cuts proposed by the Republicans.

President Obama
CO/ The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500-0004
or phone: (202) 456-1414

Or send note online:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Congressional switchboard 800-828-0498
Just ask for the office of your Senator or Representative

House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov/house/house_comments.shtml
Senate: http://www.senate.gov/

Tex Shelters

Issues and Party Positions, the 2011 edition

In Current Events, Economics, Education, Election Politics on February 14, 2011 at 19:25

I know some of you will see this as unfair. This is a general view I and others have of the two parties in Congress and the White House. And yes, there are exceptions to this. These are the general party responses and positions to these issues.

Issues and Party Positions, the 2011 edition


Republicans: Cut Taxes


Obama: Deregulation


Democrats: What?


Republicans: Cut taxes, more drilling


Obama: more drilling?


Democrats: electric cars

Afghan War

Republicans: Cut taxes, invade Iran


Obama: extend the deadline


Democrats: What war? Again with the war?

Budget “crisis”

Republicans: Cut taxes, cut social spending


Obama: cut social spending


Democrats: What?


Republicans: get rid of the teachers’ unions, cut taxes


Obama: Race to the top, cause education is a race!


Democrats: make schools better


Republicans: Cut Taxes, fewer banking regulations, cause we know that works


Obama: Deregulation, get those darn companies to reinvest


Democrats: promote the internet and phone companies

Election reform

Republicans: more money without accountability to anyone, Cut Taxes


Obama: Hope and change


Democrats: cuddle up to Wall Street some more or they might not give us their money

Health Care

Republicans: Repeal Obamacare


Obama: this is ruining my presidency


Democrats: perhaps we could rethink single payer maybe someday, kinda, sorta, perhaps—what do you think?

Hope for the Future

Republicans: everything’s good


Obama: everything’s good


Democrats: everything’s good

Your issue here    

Tex Shelters





Lie of the Month: Social Security is Insolvent

In Current Events, Economics on February 11, 2011 at 20:20

Tex Shelters here, and I want to talk to you about one of the biggest, most terrible scary things for the American economy since Eugene V. Debs ran for president and that nasty Ralph Nader made the auto industry put seat belts in cars: Social Security. Social Security is going last until 2037 unless something is done so that corporate America, Wall Street, and bankers can get a hold of the money that ordinary citizens so selfishly keep from us.

Everyone knows because we have repeated it time and time again in the media, that Social Security is increasing our deficit and our deficit will destroy the world in a holocaust of hell fire. We know about the budget-destroying power of Social Security even though it is a separately funded problem that has nothing to do with the general budget. Sure, Social Security is funded by direct individual contributions from workers and their employers and the payments come out of the trust, a fund not in anyway connected to the federal budget. But the very existence of Social Security increases the federal deficit.

Comrade Harry “Hitler” Reid, the Stalin of Nevada, defends Social Security money from the rightful owners, Wall Street investors. One of the things that always troubles me is when we start talking about the debt, the first thing people do is run to Social Security. Social Security is a program that works. And it’s going to be– it’s fully funded for the next forty years. Stop picking on Social Security… I’m not going to go to with any of those backdoor methods- you know, to whack Social Security recipients.” http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/node/43039/print Did you notice Reid’s Stalinist Hitler use of the word “Whack” like some mafioso union boss?

Well, Reid was 4 years off; SS is solvent for only 36 years more according to the Social Security Trustees’ report,

“Projected OASDI tax income will be sufficient to finance about 75 percent of scheduled annual benefits in 2037 through 2084 after the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds are projected to be exhausted.”

Thus, Reid is a lying scumbag who has everything wrong and so is every other person who wants to use these facts and look for solutions other than letting investors take the trust fund to play with for their personal benefit! Why do they hate America?

Defend Social Security if you must you rabble-rousers:

Sign a petition

Write Washington, DC:

President Obama
CO/ The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500-0004
or phone: (202) 456-1414

Or send note online:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Congressional switchboard 800-828-0498
Just ask for the office of your Senator or Representative

House of Representatives:
Senate: http://www.senate.gov/

Find your Congressperson here:

Tex Shelters

Real Security Threat: Unemployment and Economic Hardship

In Current Events, Economics, Election Politics on February 8, 2011 at 23:56

The one thing that the Iraq and Afghan wars have done to increase security in the United States is released the job pressure for the youth of America. If it weren’t for the armed services, the two million or so service men and women who have been deployed overseas since September, 2001 would be clogging our unemployment lines and the 14.5 million unemployed today (9.4%) would become at least 15.5 million and we’d have about 10.2% unemployment. Of course, this is a hypothetical, but the point is that one of the only places that young people in many rural and poor communities are guaranteed work is in the military.  That is the sum of our jobs’ development in the United States.

At least some of the 56,200 troops in Germany and 33,122 in Japan are developing job related skills, such as learning German or Japanese (troop deployments 2008 state department estimates).

History of Economic Riots in the United States
There were more riots in the 1930’s than any other decade in American history. Why? The Great Depression made people desperate and they had nothing to lose. In the fifties, there were few economic riots of any substance. Why? The people were doing well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_riots Certainly there were race riots, and they are usually economically based at their core, and I will comment on that briefly at the end of the list.

1. Whiskey Rebellion against taxes on Whisky production and sales. This was an important rebellion not for its fight against taxes imposed by America’s first president, but for its show of power by a united merchant class.

2. Cincinnati riots of 1829—riots between Irish Immigrants and blacks for jobs in this southern Ohio town. Could this be coming to Tucson in 2011-12. I am sure the Republicans would benefit from this “told you so moment” even if the state’s racist white ruling class start the riots or bait the citizens of Latin American decent. There were also racially based job riots in Cincinnati in 1836, 1841, and 1853. Yes, these are race related job riots, and we know that would NEVER happen in states like Arizona or Texas against Latinos. We know that the job issue is really about the greedy hoarding and the government helping them take our money and keeping it away from job creating investment and infrastructure projects and not about race. Right?

3. Baltimore Bank Riot of 1835—riots against bank malfeasance.   Good thing the banks are on the up and up these days with the generous foreclosure terms and keeping a cap on costs to consumers. Perhaps the U.S. banks are now too big to fail, but are they too big to burn?

4. Flour Riots of 1837 (New York)—shortages of wheat lead prices of flour to rise from $7 a barrel to $12 (a 58% jump) dollars in 1936 in the fall to winter. Information spread that stores such as Hart and Co. were hoarding flour to benefit form rising prices. While there was no evidence of this, the mob destroyed the Hart and Co. store, spilling much of the valuable flour and wheat in the process and went after another store before being dispersed by police.   As food prices rise, will we have more food riots by inflation on items like milk (a staple for families) or meat? Will we see the Krogers riots of 2012?

5. Squatters’ Riot near Sacramento, Ca, 1850—the gold rush brought thousands of people to the Sacramento Valley, the gate to gold rush in California. Crowds swelled and squatted on lands claimed by John Sutter after the end of the Mexican-American war. The squatters disputed that claim. They organized after being threatened with arrest and came to an agreement with Sutter who had become disillusioned by the gold rush. He came to a compromise with the squatters by giving them a right of passage and temporary encampments for their journey. While few died, I include this example for the way Mr. Sutton reduced tension by accommodating the desires of the squatters without giving up the right to the land. Perhaps banks and landowners can learn from this example before we have a housing riot.

6. Buffalo Riot of 1862—this is another example of a wage riot in the United States. More than seventy years before minimum wage (still insufficient, but something) was passed in the United States and before unions were given the right to bargain, workers had little recourse but to shut down docks and work places where wages were less than subsistence. The workers demanded increasing pay for themselves and new workers. The police were called in and shot at the dockworkers though no one died in the unrest. Will we soon see the Wal-Mart riots of Little Rock? 

7. Southern Bread Riots, 1863—from the start of the Civil War, bread prices, milk and wheat prices tripled in the South. Food was being commandeered by both the Union and Confederate armies and farmers couldn’t resist the profit to be made in converting their crops to ever-profitable cotton and tobacco production. Poor Southerners did not benefit from these crops and only suffered from the rising prices in staples. This lead to violent raids all over the South until the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, stepped in. Will citizens once again realize how the economy is benefitting the wealthy classes to their exclusion and riot?

8. Tomkins Square riots of 1874—a depression started in 1873 and led people to clamour for public works projects and jobs. Thousands of organized workers took to the streets in NYC to demand action, and the police used force to quell the protests. One can easily see with such a violent response why militants like Patrick Dunn would call for more direct (violent) action as path to better working conditions. As a citizen of New York, President Franklin Roosevelt learned a lesson from this history as Congress enacted the very programs workers had asked for in the 1870s during the depression of 1930s. Now we have a Congress of Republicans that want to further roll back the few gains, enacted during Roosevelt’s New Deal, the working classes have made in America. Will there be riots as Obama capitulates to the corporate Republican demands to roll back Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare?

9. Haymarket Affair, 1886—The Hay Market Riot occurred on May 1, 1886. Workers, some anarchist, some socialists, some unions, other workers, were calling for a national 8-hour workday. That is something many of us used to take for granted. As the crowd was about to disperse, someone threw a bomb and one police officer was killed. Eight police died in the melee that followed and an undetermined number of civilians died.  In the aftermath, eight anarchists were arrested and charged with conspiracy with little but their own speeches to convict them. Of the eight, four were hung, one committed suicide, two sentences were commuted, one person was found innocent and set free. Some say that the police set of the bomb to have an excuse to go at the crowd. If that was so, why so many die? Will more protesters be arrested and falsely accused under the Patriot Act and extra-judicial detentions in the U.S.?

10. The Thibodaux (Louisiana) Massacre of 1887—The Knights of Labor had successfully unionized rail workers in Louisiana. After that triumph, they figured they could unionize the sugar cane workers. Initially successful at uniting black and white workers from the sugar plantation, they met with the local power structure where years of racist attitudes were used to create a rising fear of the unionized plantation workers.  Dozens of workers, mainly black, were killed when strike-breakers were sent in. Will the government kill service workers that currently want to unionize for fear of the power of Latinos?

11. Strike at Homestead Mill, 1892 (In Homestead, PA, east of Pittsburg)—Workers at industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead still mill were asking for better wages and a say in production decisions. Carnegie negotiated by sending 300 Pinkerton detectives, more enforcers and thugs than detectives, to break up the strike. Will the new 20,000 reserve troops placed in the United States by the Pentagon be used to settle worker unrest? (link)

12. Pullman Strike, 1894—as demand for his Pullman cars declined, industrialist George Pullman cut wages and demanded workers work 12-hour days at the lower rate. The America Railway Union led by Eugene V. Debs went on general strike. Rail workers around the country refused to load Pullman cars or run trains that had them attached. This solidarity leads George Pullman to ask President Grover Cleveland to send in the army to break the strike. That ended the strike and sent Debs to prison, where he read Karl Marx and became a socialist. He ran for president 5 times. If only we could unionize the air traffic controllers and shut down air traffic in America. But our hero Reagan dealt with that. Never mind.

13. Everett Massacre—The International Workers of the World were striking for better wages in Everett, Wa. The local sheriff confronted them as they tried to land on the dock and a gun battle ensued. Several union members and deputies were killed, and the strike failed.  Moral: Can an armed union really beat the armed police or army? Not without public support.

14. Herrin (Illinois) Massacre, 1922—in a turnaround for labor, striking miners trapped, tracked and killed several strikebreakers, but they were not convicted by local juries though indictments were presented. Moral: public support can get you off if you kill strikebreakers. With continued unemployment, there will be more unrest and violence in the workplace?

15. Eviction Riots, The Bronx, New York, 1932—City Marshalls and police entered and apartment complex to evict 17 people, but when they exited the building, they were met with sticks, stones, fists and whatever the 4000 that had gathered to prevent the eviction could get there hands on. It took every police officer in the city to quell the protest. The landlords agreed to reduce the rent temporarily and the protest subsided. Where are all the strikes against foreclosures and evictions? If evictions continue, there will be public unrest.

16.  Bonus Army—after WWI, some 40,000 veterans, their families and allies marched in Washington, D.C.  in 1932 to ask for the promised bonuses from their service in the war. They camped across the Anacostia River on the swampy Anacostia Flats. The camp was controlled and only open to Veteran’s of good standing. However, after skirmishes between military police and the veteran’s, President Hoover ordered the evacuation of the bonus army. During the attack to close the camp, 55 veterans were injured and 135 were arrested. The United States will eventually end its occupation in Afghanistan and more Iraq War veterans will be coming home this summer. How will we handle this newly unemployed and un-deployed army?

17. Memorial Day massacre of 1937—Striking steel workers in Chicago were heading toward their plant to picket (“Little Steel”) when they encountered police blocking the road. A tree trunk was thrown at the police line that then opened fire. Ten strikers were killed and thirty were injured. Once again the police take the side of capital over the lives of people. How much of that will happen in the coming years with near 10% official unemployment and a rate that is much higher if you those no longer receiving unemployment and part time workers who want full time work? The latest report I found to be valid was 18.7% effective unemployment from July, 2009 which was nearly double the official rate.

In the 60s and 70s, many of the riots, while deeply seated in economic injustice, were race based. I choose to focus on the unrest that reminds us how much has been gained and how much we may lose and the country turns ignorant of pre-Great Depression suffering and rampant unregulated capitalism and its abuse of workers.

As unemployment continues unabated and Obama continues to side with corporations on the questions of regulation, investment, taxes, social welfare and the war, tension is rising just beneath the surface.

The Tea Party movement is right to point out that the government is full of corrupt officials who don’t give a damn about us. They are right to be angry. However, they have hitched their wagon to the same corrupt officials who helped create this disaster, the Republican Party and the Koch corporation backed politicians.

Unless Obama, the White House and Congress face the severe jobs crisis and rising economic inequality in the United States, there will be more economically based violence, riots and upheaval. Franklin Roosevelt, a product of the New York aristocracy, understood this. The New Deal saved the United States from a major class based conflict. Will Obama wizen up soon enough to save the elites, and thus himself?

Certainly, the New Deal failed to address many of the structural problems with our capitalist system, but that is for another post. It’s hard to argue that the New Deal didn’t help millions in the 30s.

I would love it if we took care of each other and the wealth of this nation was shared so all could benefit and few would suffer. But what outcomes are we left with at this date and time but upheaval?

Tex Shelters

The Super Bowl of Nationalism and Conformity

In Current Events, Humor on February 7, 2011 at 02:51

Just a little quip while I finish my latest installment for “Real Security Threats”.  Please comment and tell me who you want to see play the Super Bowl next time.

Well I missed it. I wanted to see The Black Eyed Peas (BEP) during the half-time show, but I didn’t know when it was on. I hear they played “I got a feeling” with Will.I.Am cheering “get up off the couch!” to the throngs of football watchers. Hey, at least Lady Gaga has lyrics that make you go, “What?!” now and again. The BEP have some of the stupidest lyrics in music history, exemplified by another of the night’s selections, “Boom Boom Pow”.

With “Pump it” the BEP didn’t even bother creating their own musical back track for their inane lyrics, while pimping and primpin’, they stole the whole track from Dick Dale, king of surf rock.

Then they went into their best known, the best of the bunch, “Let’s get it Started”. Yes, and they had their guest stars too.

I do think the BEP were a good choice for Middle America, but there were bands I would rather see.

I would like to hear Trent Reznor of NIN singing, “I want to (love) you like an animal” for one. No one would remember the costume malfunction after that.

I would also like to hear Pearl Jam sing “Better Man” right before a PSA about battered women.

Hearing Devo sing “Jerking Back and Forth”, “Praying Hands” or the sarcastic “Beautiful World” , featuring the original video for the song, would be a change from the über patriotism of this football Sunday.

Rage Against the Machine with Zack de la Rocha screaming, “ef you; I won’t do what ya tell me” would be a nice change to this massive celebration of mass conformity.

And on the day when Reagan was celebrated for being a good president in all the rewritten text books, it would have been nice to see a reunited Dead Kennedys (another overrated mythological president, but nothing like Reagan), sing, “We’ve got a Bigger Problem Now”,

“We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now”

Last call for alcohol. Last call for your freedom of speech. Drink up. Happy hour is now enforced by law. Don’t forget our house special, it’s called a Trickie Dickie Screwdriver. It’s got one part Jack Daniels, two parts purple Kool-Aid, and a jigger of formaldehyde from the jar with Hitler’s brain in it we got in the back storeroom. Happy trails to you. Happy trails to you. I am Emperor Ronald Reagan Born again with fascist cravings Still, you made me president Human rights will soon go ‘way I am now your Shah today Now I command all of you Now you’re going to pray in school I’ll make sure they’re Christian too California Uber alles Uber alles California Ku Klux Klan will control you Still you think it’s natural Nigger knockin’ for the master race Still you wear the happy face You closed your eyes, can’t happen here Alexander Haig is near Vietnam won’t come back you say Join the army or you will pay California Uber alles Uber alles California Yeah, that’s it. Just relax. Have another drink, few more pretzels, little more MSG. Turn on those Dallas Cowboys on your TV. Lock your doors. Close your mind. It’s time for the two-minute warning. Welcome to 1984 Are you ready for the third world war?!? You too will meet the secret police They’ll draft you and they’ll jail your niece You’ll go quitely to boot camp They’ll shoot you dead, make you a man Don’t you worry, it’s for a cause Feeding global corporations’ claws Die on our brand new poison gas El Salvador or Afghanistan Making money for President Reagan And all the friends of President Reagan California Uber alles Uber alles California

Thank you Jello! If you ever play the Super Nowl, I want a ticket.

There could be so many other better choices, perhaps Steven Colbert?, but at least the Black Eyed Peas are musically relevant to this century.

Now it’s your turn. Who do you want to see at play the next Super Bowl?

Tex Shelters

Okay then, Let’s regulate Guns like many want to regulate Abortion

In Economics, Human Rights and the Constitution on February 4, 2011 at 00:17

Before you go off half-cocked or get your pistols in a bunch, I know the difference between having an abortion and owning a gun. This is not a shot in the dark, it is aimed satire. If you don’t want to read the complete posting and want to shoot your mouth off without all the facts, prepare to be Texified.

Let’s regulate Guns like many want to regulate Abortion

1. Some in state leadership around the nation want an outright ban on abortion, thus they should also call for an outright ban on guns. That would be the pro-life stance, after all.

2. Some Senators want a 24-hour waiting period on all abortions. So, why don’t they also support a 24-hour waiting period on gun purchases?

3. Anti-choice groups want TRAPs (target regulation for abortion providers) for clinics that provide reproductive services, a small part of which are abortions. We should thus have TRAPs, (targeted regulation for arms providers). Like for abortion providers, we can add countless and difficult hurdles to buying a gun thus turn people away from gun ownership and saving lives.

4. Anyone who wants a gun should have to have extensive counseling sessions on the risks of gun ownership with graphic pictures of mass shootings and botched suicides with survivors with half blown off faces. That would be only fair since many conservatives want submit women seeking their reproductive rights to the same treatment.

5. Make it a felony to transport a gun over a state border like it is a felony to transport a minor over state line to practice her reproductive rights.

6. Counsel prospective gun owners on “gun victim pain”, with videos of deaths in mass U.S. shootings, interviews of the surviving family members and pictures and interviews with those mutilated in shootings just like anti-choice groups want to have “fetal pain counseling”.

7. Take away people’s health care coverage for any gun related incident, regardless of who was responsible for the shooting, like some providers do for abortion coverage. Charge gun owners double (or more) for health insurance if they own a gun like is proposed for women who have had abortions.

8. Mandatory psyche exam for potential gun ownership like anti-choice groups want for women.

9. Parental consent for gun ownership like they want for women seeking to terminate their pregnancy.

Most gun owners wouldn’t accept those restrictions on their ownership. Then why do we allow those restrictions to be put on a woman’s right to choose?

Besides, if you ban abortions, only the rich will get safe ones.

Special Note to those who are pro-choice:

No one is pro-abortion and reducing the need for abortions is a main goal of Planned Parenthood, NARAL, in fact, of everyone. Use “pro-choice” and “anti-choice”, please.

Links and Sources



Tex Shelters

Real Security Threats: U.S. Foreign Policy

In Current Events, History on February 1, 2011 at 18:51

Mark Zepezauer’s  book “Boomerang!: : How Our Covert Wars Have Created Enemies Across the Middle East and Brought Terror to America” (Excerpt) is a good primer to the question, “why do they hate us?”  The first reason President Bush thought of was after 9/11 was the tried and true, “they hate our freedoms”.

White House News Release, September 20, 2001:
Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber — a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms — our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa. (link) 

No, they don’t “hate our freedoms”, they hate that we have supported the very “self appointed” dictators that kill their people, they hate us because we send in the military to get what we want, and they hate us because for better or worse, that we support Israel even when they are bombing Lebanon or Gaza and killing their people. They hate our economic sanctions. They wonder why we don’t promote the freedoms we purportedly have in the United States in the Middle East.

“”People in Canada enjoy better democracy, more freedom, and greater human rights than we do. So do the people of Norway and Sweden. Have you heard of Canadian embassies being bombed? Or Norwegian embassies? Or Swedish embassies. No.

“We are not hated because we practice democracy, freedom, and human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things to people in third world countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. And that hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism — and in the future, nuclear terrorism.” 

We spend billions each year on weapons and intelligence to prop up dictatorships and in an attempt bolster our security. Has supporting the dictators of the past with military support made us more secure?

Representative Dennis Kucinich agrees with Republican Ros-Lehtinen (and others) on Egypt. “One of Congress’ most strident doves said Friday evening that he agrees with the hawkish chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee on her statement on the upheaval in Egypt.” (link)

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As usual when Washington backs corrupt regimes in the name of its war on terror, democracy suffers and things slowly deteriorate.

History of U.S. backed Dictatorships that had Dire Consequences
The Dictators the United States has supported can fill up volumes of books.  http://tfclub.tripod.com/list.html

These dictators were often mass murders and always anti-democratic. A short list follows with the consequences. And when I say, “Backlash” I don’t mean to say U.S. support of dictators was the only cause, but that is was a major contributor, to revolution, terrorism, war and animosity against the United States.

1. Shah of Iran—1941-1979. One of the most infamous dictators backed by the U.S. in the Middle East who killed thousands of those opposed to his rule. Backlash—the overthrow of the Shah and the Islamic revolution. Islamic revolutionaries took over the U.S. embassy in 1979 and held U.S. citizens hostage. The Islamic Republic of Iran destabilized the region and has been a breeding ground for anti-American and anti-Israeli terrorist organizations.

2. Western Educated President Diem of Vietnam—1955-1963. Although Diem was considered a weak ruler, the U.S. saw him as the best and only alternative to prevent communism from taking over Vietnam and thus all of Southeast Asian. During the presidential election in 1955, Diem posted his supporters at the polling booths, told them to throw away the ballots of Emperor Bao Dai (anti-Democratic monarch), and thus “won” with 92% of the vote. The citizens protested, so he promptly had 100,000 of them arrested and put in prison. Backlash—a united front against the United States in Vietnam and the Vietnam War that killed over 100,000 U.S. troops and over a million Vietnamese, costs the U.S. billions of dollars and further embedded the military industrial complex in the U.S. government.  (http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/vietnam/vietnamwar.htm)

3. Chiang Kai-shek 1928-1949 Under Chiang, his Nationalist party in China killed millions of peasant farmers. Numbers are hard to obtain for Chiang’s rule, but estimates of 5-18 million murders can be found for the Nationalist Party itself, much of the time under Chiang’s rule.  http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/CHINA.CHAP1.HTM During Japanese occupation in China, the Nationalist party would conscript poor peasants fleeing from the Japanese and the communists and send them off to kill peasants that were allegedly supporting the communists or the Japanese. Backlash—the successful 1949 communist revolution against he hated Chiang Kai-shek dictatorship, a communist antagonist in the most populous nation in the world that would oppose us in conflicts in the East such as Vietnam and Korea and an increase in the arms race. Again, we backed the loser in this conflict and China became communist anyway. Suffice to say, many in the United States couldn’t fully back the murderous Chiang Kai-shek regime and opposed spending much time, money or political capital saving it.

4. Support for the Afghan “freedom fighters”, the Mujahideen—1979-1992 The U.S. armed Muslim fundamentalist forces against the Soviet invasion in 1979. I am not here to argue whether fighting the Soviets was good or bad. Backlash—the Mujahedeen turned into the Taliban, the Saudi funded and manned terrorist group that brought down the world trade centers in New York City on 9/11/2001. Perhaps fighting the Soviets was the best thing, but at what cost. What would have been the worst outcome if the Soviets propped up their communist regime in Afghanistan and we had not given people of questionable motives rockets, M-16s and other weapons of war that lead them to power as the Mujahideen reformed into the Taliban in 1996. Taliban run Afghanistan was the perfect haven and training ground for terrorist attacks around the world. That was made possible by the U.S. (CIA) backed Mujahedeen takeover of the nation.

5. Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq from 1979-2001.  The United States backed Hussein militarily and financially in his war against the Islamic Republic of Iran with billions of dollars in weapons.  The reason Iran was such a problem for the United States was the Islamic Revolution over the U.S. backed Shah of Iran. The murderous Saddam Hussein was used a bulwark against the rising Iranian power. Backlash—Hussein killed thousands of his enemies. During a U.S. encouraged uprising against him, he killed over 250,000 enemies, many of then Iraqi Kurds. He developed a strong military in the region and used his power to invade and take control of Kuwait, bringing on the first gulf war. We supported a dictator to fight a nation, Iran, which rose to power after it overthrew a dictator we had supported. Hussein was so hated in the United States that George W. Bush had to fabricate intelligence, that he had weapons of mass destruction, to justify a second war against the nation.

6. Batista in Cuba—1940-1944, 1952-59.  Many Americans think of Cuba and only know about Fidel Castro’s dictatorship. We should not forget that under Batista elections where rigged, opposition was jailed, and the economy was sold off to the highest bidder in the United States with little benefit to the Cuban people. Backlash—the Cuban revolution to overthrow the Batista regime, the exportation of Cuban criminals to Florida, both violent and mafia supported criminals from the Island, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis and the fear of nuclear missiles 90 miles from Florida. And the revolution led to the most enduring and misleading smear campaign against another nation in United States history. Is Castro a saint? No. But at least under his rule, Cuba eliminated diseases and the people are more literate than people are in the United States. Perhaps that is why we hate them. We hate them for their literacy rates.

7. Anastasio Somoza, Sr. and Jr.—1934-79. The Somoza family controlled Nicaragua for the United States corporations for 45 years. And of course, the United States taxpayers foot the bill so corporation could make profit off of Nicaragua’s markets, cheap labor, and cheap farm products.  Corruption, torture and murder were the standard practice for the Somozas when faced with any known opposition. Backlash—The Sandinista revolution overthrew the Nicaraguan government. At first, the new Sandinista government in Nicaragua was recognized by the Carter administration in the U.S. However, Reagan was hell bent on changing that. Reagan broke several international and U.S. laws by mining Nicaraguan harbors, funding death squads called the Contras to fight the Nicaraguan government using torture, murder and terror (yes, we fund terrorists too), and setting up bases in Honduras to fight the Nicaraguan forces. Was overthrowing the government of a small Central American nation worth the price of an estimated 30,000 Nicaraguan lives and political reputation? I am sure some corporations benefitted. I don’t see how the average American did.

8. Morena Manuel Antonio Noriega—1983-89. Noriega was on the payroll of the CIA when he went rouge. They CIA didn’t mind paying him to illegally spy on, arrest, and pass on intelligence to the United States. But when it was discovered that he was spying, arresting people illegally, and passing intelligence onto Cuba, the U.S. suddenly saw all the illegal activity he was involved in. Backlash—a war against a tiny Central American nation, a precedent that makes intelligence gathering in the region harder and Cuba making us look like fools.

9. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt—1981-?  Mubarak came to power after President Anwar Sadat was killed by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1981. Mubarak suspended elections almost immediately after coming to power. The U.S. of course supported this for they fear the Muslim Brotherhood would come to power. He has at least 20,000 political prisoners in jail, has anti-terror laws that allow the police to arrest people for voicing opposition to his rule and has suspended legal rights for the accused. Backlash—pent up anger against the United States has translated into anger against Mubarak who has done little to deal with inflation, unemployment and the economy. In fact, while the Egyptian economy expanded, wages stayed flat. Now people have taken to the streets and the United States is calling for Democratic changes and increased wages. Egypt is considered a key ally in the Middle East, thus, the U.S. has ignored the undemocratic policies while we have ousted or killed democratically elected leaders in Chile, Guatemala, Haiti, Iran and elsewhere when they didn’t fully back the global dominance of the United States. As long as Mubarak supported us, we supported him. Now that forces on the ground are mounting to remove him, the U.S. is suddenly calling for democratic reform.

Our meddling in foreign governments and nations has not made us safer. We have had to pay the price not only on 9/11 but also for other terrorist attacks against us, on our embassies, on our ships and planes and in our cities. Is the financial gain for our corporations and the myth of increased world security really worth the price we pay in lives and treasury? Should the U.S. continue to act counter to our democratic ideals or will we realize that long-term security isn’t possible at the barrel of a gun? And while we pay for this security with our blood and treasure, our real security concerns, food, housing, infrastructure, having an educated populous, respect and cooperation with other nations, continues to erode.


Tex Shelters