Democrats for Education Reform
To see my School Reform Resource Page, see www.arightdenied.com. To be added to my school reform email list, email me at WTilson at tilsonfunds.com.
Speaking of DFER, here's a good article, Where Does 'Education Reform' Go in a Post-Obama World?, about the challenges we reformers face now – and will face even more under a new administration:
Back in 2008, Democrats for Education Reform had what amounted to its coming out party at the party's national convention in Denver. But a lot has changed in eight years.
On Monday, an event put on here by Education Reform Now, an affiliated organization, felt like an opportunity for a little soul searching, as some big name speakers pondered a central question: Where exactly, does the education-redesign movement go in a post-Obama administration, post Every Student Succeeds Act world?
"There's a lot of anxiety about the transition from this president to the next
administration," Shavar Jeffries, the national president of the organization, a non-profit think tank affiliated with DFER said as he kicked off the policy forum.
But Jeffries isn't worried. His message? Hang tight and play the long game.
"For us this is a social justice project," Jeffries said. "And social justice is never easy. It's never short-term."
Jeffries linked education redesign to other social-change movements, noting that after the success of the Montgomery bus boycott, the civil rights movement experienced a seven-year period of "defeat, after defeat, after defeat."
The event attracted a star-studded cast—well, star-studded as wonky education events get—including Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia; and Ann O'Leary, Clinton's campaign advisor, all of whom spoke of their continued commitment to ensuring schools are better able to help the neediest kids.
Still, the past couple years have been challenging for fans of education redesign who have seen some of their favorite policies—high standards, teacher evaluation through test scores, dramatic school turnarounds, and testing—attacked in school districts, statehouses and Congress.
Following up on my last email, in which I included Diane Ravitch's op ed in the NYT critiquing the Common Core, below is an excellent response. Here's the summary:
It was no surprise when, this weekend, education historian and vehement Common Core-opponent Diane Ravitch railed against the standards and assessments – again – this time in a New York Times op-ed. While she admits to numerous times she's been completely wrong in the past, we'd like to take this opportunity to point out nine additional times that she's completely wrong in this single piece:
1. and 2. Ravitch repeatedly refers to Common Core State Standards as national standards, and as a curriculum.
3. She claims the standards are "another excuse to avoid making serious efforts to reduce the main causes of low student achievement: poverty and racial segregation."
4. She claims "the people who wrote the Common Core standards sold them as a way to improve achievement and reduce the gaps between rich and poor, and black and white. But the promises haven't come true."
5. Ravitch claims the Common Core State Standards ignore "children with disabilities, English-language learners and those in the early grades."
6. She concludes Common Core isn't working.
7. Ravitch claims computer glitches while administering tests is a big problem.
8. Ravitch laments that the "Common Core tests" are harder and that "predictably depresses test scores, creating a sense of failure and hopelessness among young children."
9. She claims that "if we really cared about improving the education of all students, we would give teachers the autonomy to tailor instruction to meet the needs of the children."
Here are some additional comments about Ravitch's op ed by Alexander Kugushev, who is completing a book on education: "We are 34th in Education! It's the culture":
Common Core's purpose is not to establish social justice. That is not an educational goal. Common Core's purpose, no matter what the rationalizations, is to raise our educational standards – to show Americans what is necessary in a modern society that favors the educated over the uneducated, unjust as that may seem to some. How does Diane Ravitch perceive the objective of democracy: to debase everyone to the lowest common denominator in a quest for "equity", or to allow everyone to rise as high as effort and ambition will allow?
Do we want, in a quest for "equity", an educational system where prevail low expectations, easy grades, no homework, fear of blows to students' self-esteem, fun as learning motivator, moving kids along to graduation even with mediocre grades in easy courses? Or one in which education aims for understanding the meaning of ideas and applying them to concrete real-world problems, capacity to transfer knowledge and skills to new situations, ability to communicate and collaborate in problem solving across disciplines? How can one succeed in an automated, robotized 21st century short of such capacities? Progressive society's purpose should be to raise all by showing what can be achieved.
I received this email from a friend this morning, who lives/votes in a swing state, Virginia. It made my day!
"I'm with her" :)
Just want to say thanks to you Whitney for sending all these emails on how you feel about Trump. At first I was irritated to read all these attacks on him, as I considered myself conservative/Republican and I volunteered for Trump earlier this year (then again, I sign up to get this email voluntarily), but after reading all your emails, and watching last week's convention and this week's, I have a change of heart.
I can't believe I was charmed by Trump. Now I don't think he has any chance to win (if he wins, I lose hope about the American people) since people should be able to see his true self (I did read Art of the Deal and was impressed with his business acumen and negotiation skills, but I learned this week from Kaine, Barack and Michele Obama, Elisabeth Warren and Joe Biden that Trump ruined many people's lives and Hillary is indeed a better choice - albeit she has her own issues, but then again no one is perfect, we are human after all).
Thanks also for working so hard on promoting the Never Trump movement. I will volunteer for Hillary/Kaine when they came to rally in Virginia and will try to convince people/friends not to vote for Trump.
This makes my blood boil: my oldest daughter, who's halfway through college at a liberal-leaning school (Carleton), tells me that when she tells her classmates (most of whom love Bernie) that she supports Hillary, they wrinkle their nose. They're not supporting Trump, to be sure, she says; rather, they say that they're not to vote as a matter of principle (though she suspects most will end up voting for Hillary). (Another friend, who also has a college-age daughter, reports that he's hearing the same from her.)
Boy, do I want to grab these idiots by their lapels and give them a good shake! Are they really so obtuse that they can't see how Hillary is totally aligned with their views/worldview and Trump stands for the exact opposite?! And the young women especially: can't they see that women like Hillary fought brutal battles to give them the opportunities they have today?! Hopefully they will come to their senses by Nov. 8th…
An AWESOME 3-minute rant by Seth Meyers, aimed at my daughter's friends: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/seth-meyers-bernie-or-bust_us_57984499e4b0d3568f852c28
Seth Meyers unveiled a new segment on Tuesday called "HEY!" ― and it was aimed squarely at the Bernie Sanders diehards who have been raising a ruckus at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
"We're on the cusp of electing a racist demagogue, and that never ends well. I don't know which class you ditched to go to those Bernie rallies, but I have a feeling it was history."
See his full "HEY!" segment in the clip above.
Meyers and Trump have been feuding for far longer than the presidential campaign. In 2011, Meyers, then head writer of "Saturday Night Live," mocked Trump's presidential ambitions at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
"Donald Trump has been saying he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising, because I just assumed that he was running as a joke," Meyers said at the time.
In 2014, when Meyers was named host of the Emmys, Trump blasted him on Twitter.
"That Seth Meyers is hosting the Emmy Awards is a total joke," Trump wrote. "He is very awkward with almost no talent. Marbles in his mouth!"
Any Democrat not enthused about Hillary needs to read this:
I DON'T SEE IT AS VOTING FOR CLINTON.
I see it as voting for the EPA, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Voting Rights Act, Food Stamps, Minimum Wage, ACA, Roe v. Wade, Marriage Equality, Dep't of Ed, National and Community Services Act, environmental research at Dep't of Energy, USAID, Rail grants, Community Dev Fund, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, CPB, NEA, a liberal majority in SCOTUS for the next 30 years that will overturn Citizens United.
IF TRUMP IS ELECTED, ALL THIS IS GONE.
It's not about Clinton. It's about 80 years of progress we're in danger of losing because some are not looking at the big picture.
This Australian comedian, Jim Jefferies, nails the danger of Con Man Don: http://dangerousminds.net/comments/comedian_says_the_most_obvious_thing_about_trump_that_no_one_else_has_thoug(6:09). It's pure brilliance (and has 2.3 million views)!
Since I know most folks don't have the time to watch a 6-min video, I've transcribed it:
Now Donald Trump. Don't get me wrong: he's a lotta fun. And there's a little bit of me that thinks, "Fuck it! Let's do it! Let's do it and see how crazy shit can get!"
What happens is, he says really simple shit that means nothing and then fuckin' dummies… If you've ever said this sentence, "I like him because he's a straight talker," you're as dumb as shit! Just because someone says something simple that you understand, doesn't mean they're a straight talker. You can say a complex thing and be telling the truth. He says, "I'm going to make America great again," and you're like: "I got every word in that sentence." He's like, "I'm going to build a wall." "I have a wall at home – you're a straight talker!" And then he just says shit that isn't going to happen: "I'm going to build a wall and Mexico's going to pay for it." I haven't heard a Mexican yet say, "Yeah, we got this." What are you talking about?! What the fuck are you talking about?! That's insane shit! He's like a kid running for class president who's just walking around going, "We're gonna have two lunches and there's gonna be a soda machine in every classroom. Nashville football rules!"
Here's where is doesn't get fun. What he does is he preys on fear. In the beginning it was the MexicansL "they're coming over and raping." There was a terrorist attack and he said, "Aw fuck, I'll go after the Muslims. We should kill the families of Muslims," which, by the way, you're not allowed to do. And then he says after the Paris attacks, "We should put every Muslim on a register and we shouldn't let any more refugees come in from Syria. And the Muslims who live here on a register…that means ISIS wins. As soon as he says that, ISIS has fuckin' won because their plan to shoot people in Paris, that's not their end plan: they didn't kill 128 people and then go, "Aw, well that's done." You know what I mean? It's a recruitment tool – and the recruitment tool can only work if hate is bred. So what he does is he says, "Oh, we're gonna ban them and not let any more into the country and the ones here are going to have to be on a register."
Now you're a 16-year-old boy or girl that's living in this country that's a Muslim. You've spent your entire life in this country. You've always considered yourself an American. And then all of a sudden, someone who could be your President says, "You are not welcome here. You should be put on a register." Now that kid – how fuckin' quickly do you think that kid could be radicalized now? Before, he wasn't going to be radicalized at all!
So what he's trying to do is, he's trying to defeat hate with hate – and hate doesn't beat hate. It's never fuckin' beaten hate – it just makes more hate. Now this might be the most hippy thing that ever comes out of my mouth, but it's true: the only thing that can beat hate is love.
Now love doesn't always beat hate, but it does do something. Think about your own personal life. Think about a person who hates you and you hate them. From now on, just show that person nothing but love. Now I'm not saying for a second that that person will start loving you. They'll probably still fuckin' hate you. But one thing will happen: eventually, everyone will see them as the asshole. Don't be the asshole, America. Don't be the asshole!
Cory Booker gave an AMAZING speech on Monday night – and followed it up with a BRILLIANT rebuttal to Con Man Don's usual nasty attack:
Trump fired back Twitter, writing enigmatically, "If Cory Booker is the future of the Democratic Party, they have no future! I know more about Cory than he knows about himself."
Shown the tweet during an interview on CNN's "New Day," Booker declined to respond in kind and instead offered a somewhat backhanded olive branch to the GOP nominee.
"Let me tell you right now: I love Donald Trump," Booker said. "I don't want to answer his hate with hate. I'm going to answer it with love. I'm not going to answer his darkness with darkness. I love him. I know his kids, I know his family. They're good, the children especially, good people."
You can read more about it and watch Cory here: http://bcove.me/v5f9jqfx
Is Michelle Obama the coolest, or what? Gosh, I'm going to miss her (and him of course)! "First Lady Michelle Obama Carpool Karaoke" on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ln3wAdRAim4
George Will with a spot-on op ed, The injustice of California's teacher tenure:
The mills of justice grind slowly, but life plunges on, leaving lives blighted when justice, by being delayed, is irremediably denied. Fortunately, California's Supreme Court might soon decide to hear — four years after litigation began — the 21st century's most portentous civil rights case, which concerns an ongoing denial of equal protection of the law.
Every year, measurable injuries are inflicted on tens of thousands of already at-risk children by this state's teacher tenure system, which is so politically entrenched that only the courts can protect the discrete and insular minority it victimizes. In 2012, nine Los Angeles students, recognizing the futility of expecting the legislature to rectify a wrong it has perpetrated, asked California's judiciary to continue its record of vindicating the rights of vulnerable minorities by requiring the state's education system to conform to the state's Constitution.
After 10 weeks of testimony, the trial court found the tenure system incompatible with the California Supreme Court's decision, now almost half a century old, that the state Constitution, which declares education a "fundamental" state concern, guarantees "equality of treatment" to all K-12 pupils. It "shocks the conscience," the trial court said, that there is "no dispute" that "a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers" — perhaps more than 8,000, each with 28 students — are doing quantifiable damage to children's life prospects.
Education Next with an in-depth look at the excellent progress being made in Newark under Chris Cerf, building on what Cami Anderson started:
The contentious years ahead were the subject of a high-profile book by former Washington Post reporter Dale Russakoff, The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools, which was published just as Cerf became superintendent. The book focuses on the difficulties in implementing change in Newark, despite bipartisan leadership, financial support, and the attention of education watchers nationwide. A major theme, according to Cerf, is a "narrative of failure" in Newark schools.
Changing that narrative is a critical challenge, he says, one helped by evidence of improvement in recent years. The suspension rate is down 37 percent. The graduation rate has risen to 70 percent from 61 percent in 2011. And about one in three Newark students attends "beating the odds" schools, those that outperform schools with similar demographics in their state in reading and math, according to a 2015 study by the Center on Reinventing Public Education.
Newark has retained 95 percent of teachers evaluated as "effective," Cerf says, even though the district pays salaries lower than in surrounding towns. Only 63 percent of teachers who did not earn "effective" ratings remained in the district. The district also has invested heavily in new curricula in mathematics, science, history, and the arts. And more than half of Newark schools now have longer school days.
The premise of The Prize, Cerf says, was that if he, Anderson, and Booker had moved more slowly and worked harder to build local support for their ideas, they would have gotten a warmer reception. But, he says, that analysis is flawed.
"For Dale to criticize Cory and Cami for failing to have overcome political saboteurs, but give a complete pass to the saboteurs themselves, tells only part of the story. There was a vicious campaign of misinformation that was designed to thwart any changes."
The Value of Listening
Cerf has set two major goals for Newark schools: to give every student in the city a chance to attend a successful school, and to meet state requirements that would allow the district to regain local control. Unlike Anderson, who was charged with using the Zuckerberg largess and the state's backing to bring about the dramatic changes envisioned by Booker and Christie, Cerf views his job as making sure those changes take root, grow, and eventually bear fruit. Both jobs are difficult, and require different skills and temperaments. Anderson had to be bold and was under pressure to get quick results. Cerf has to build on and improve Anderson's initiatives, while preaching patience and building and maintaining productive, long-term relationships with major constituencies in the city: families, the advisory board, the teachers union, and the mayor's office.
Charles Sahm with an excellent article on the Icahn Charter Schools in NYC, led by Jeff Litt, which should get much more attention than they do, as they're doing great work:
In the 1980s, billionaire financier Carl Icahn and his wife, Gail, opened Icahn House, a large transitional-housing facility in the South Bronx, then and now the country's poorest congressional district. "Through our work at Icahn House, it became clear that you can't break cycles of poverty if kids don't get a high-quality education," Gail Icahn says. "As soon as Governor Pataki got the charter law through, we decided to open a school."
Fliegel introduced Litt to the Icahns, and Litt helped write the charter application. In 2001, the Icahns asked him to be principal of the new school and gave him great freedom in designing it. Litt again used the Core Knowledge curriculum, and he hired the best teachers he knew. A modular-construction company built the school on land the Icahns had purchased across from their housing facility. "The school came over the George Washington Bridge on twenty-two tractor-trailers," Litt recalls. In September 2001, the school opened as one of the first charters in New York State.
By 2004, Icahn 4th graders were posting higher test scores than students in any other school in the Bronx, save for a couple in the affluent Riverdale section. In 2006, the network joined with the nonprofit Civic Builders to construct a 125,000-square-foot building in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx to house Icahn 2 as well as a district school. Over the next several years, the Icahn network expanded to a total of seven schools. Typically, Icahn charters open as K–2 schools and add a grade each year as students move up. Icahn 1 through 4 are now full K–8 schools, and the other three are expected to follow suit within a few years.
I normally don't send out something I disagree with (this NYT op ed by Diane Ravitch criticizing the Common Core), but I don't have time to respond to it, so I'm hoping someone will send me a good response that I can include in my next email. In the meantime, it's worth reading and understanding the critique:
As the damage escalated, I renounced my support for high-stakes testing andcharter schools. Nonetheless, I clung to the hope that we might agree on national standards and a national curriculum. Surely, I thought, they would promote equity since all children would study the same things and take the same tests. But now I realize that I was wrong about that, too.
Six years after the release of our first national standards, the Common Core, and the new federal tests that accompanied them, it seems clear that the pursuit of a national curriculum is yet another excuse to avoid making serious efforts to reduce the main causes of low student achievement: poverty and racial segregation.
The people who wrote the Common Core standards sold them as a way to improve achievement and reduce the gaps between rich and poor, and black and white. But the promises haven't come true. Even in states with strong common standards and tests, racial achievement gaps persist. Last year, average math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progressdeclined http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/28/us/nationwide-test-shows-dip-in-students-math-abilities.html1990; reading scores were flat or decreased compared with a decade earlier.
Turning to the Presidential race, as you've probably gathered, I've taken a strong interest in this election (I do every four years, but never more so than this one), and have been reading/writing/emailing/blogging/Facebook-posting about it with increasing frequency and intensity (email me if you want to be added to my politics email list and/or Facebook friend me).
That's because I think the stakes have never been higher. In fairness, I thought this in the past, but I was wrong then: how insignificant it would have been if McCain or Romney had been elected, when compared to the completely unpredictable and potentially calamitous things that could result from Trump becoming the most powerful person on earth.
Tony Schwartz, who ghost-wrote The Art of the Deal (and, as part of this, spent pretty much every waking moment with Con Man Don for 18 months), said in an article: "I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization."
OK, perhaps this is a bit hyperbolic – but not much… Almost daily he says or does – or journalists looking into his past expose – something totally outrageous. In spite of this (or perhaps because of it), he very well might win. I still don't think there's more than a ~30% of this calamity, Michael Moore (the ultra-liberal filmmaker) thinks it's likely for five reasons her outlines in this article. It's very scary because it's very plausible. Excerpt:
What happened in the UK with Brexit is going to happen here. Elmer Gantry shows up looking like Boris Johnson and just says whatever shit he can make up to convince the masses that this is their chance! To stick to ALL of them, all who wrecked their American Dream! And now The Outsider, Donald Trump, has arrived to clean house! You don't have to agree with him! You don't even have to like him! He is your personal Molotov cocktail to throw right into the center of the bastards who did this to you! SEND A MESSAGE! TRUMP IS YOUR MESSENGER!
This editorial in the Washington Post last weekend, entitled Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy, is the single best (among hundreds) of articles I've read about why Trump must never become President. Excerpt:
DONALD J. TRUMP, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America's problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump's politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation's two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.
Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril. We recognize that this is not the usual moment to make such a statement. In an ordinary election year, we would acknowledge the Republican nominee, move on to the Democratic convention and spend the following months, like other voters, evaluating the candidates' performance in debates, on the stump and in position papers. This year we will follow the campaign as always, offering honest views on all the candidates. But we cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.
…there is nothing on Mr. Trump's résumé to suggest he could function successfully in Washington. He was staked in the family business by a well-to-do father and has pursued a career marked by some real estate successes, some failures and repeated episodes of saving his own hide while harming people who trusted him. Given his continuing refusal to release his tax returns, breaking with a long bipartisan tradition, it is only reasonable to assume there are aspects of his record even more discreditable than what we know.
The lack of experience might be overcome if Mr. Trump saw it as a handicap worth overcoming. But he displays no curiosity, reads no books and appears to believe he needs no advice. In fact, what makes Mr. Trump so unusual is his combination of extreme neediness and unbridled arrogance. He is desperate for affirmation but contemptuous of other views. He also is contemptuous of fact. Throughout the campaign, he has unspooled one lie after another — that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated after 9/11, that his tax-cut plan would not worsen the deficit, that he opposed the Iraq War before it started — and when confronted with contrary evidence, he simply repeats the lie. It is impossible to know whether he convinces himself of his own untruths or knows that he is wrong and does not care. It is also difficult to know which trait would be more frightening in a commander in chief.
Given his ignorance, it is perhaps not surprising that Mr. Trump offers no coherence when it comes to policy. In years past, he supported immigration reform, gun control and legal abortion; as candidate, he became a hard-line opponent of all three. Even in the course of the campaign, he has flip-flopped on issues such as whether Muslims should be banned from entering the United States and whether women who have abortions https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/03/30/donald-trump-there-has-to-be-some-form-of-punishment-for-women-who-get-abortions/. Worse than the flip-flops is the absence of any substance in his agenda. Existing trade deals are "stupid," but Mr. Trump does not say how they could be improved. The Islamic State must be destroyed, but the candidate offers no strategy for doing so. Eleven million undocumented immigrants must be deported, but Mr. Trump does not tell us how he would accomplish this legally or practically.
What the candidate does offer is a series of prejudices and gut feelings, most of them erroneous. Allies are taking advantage of the United States. Immigrants are committing crimes and stealing jobs. Muslims hate America. In fact, Japan and South Korea are major contributors to an alliance that has preserved a peace of enormous benefit to Americans. Immigrants commit fewer crimesthan native-born Americans and take jobs that no one else will. Muslims are the primary victims of Islamist terrorism, and Muslim Americans, including thousands who have served in the military, are as patriotic as anyone else.
I wish that I weren't so ambivalent about Hillary (for reasons I outlined in this Facebook post on June 29th:https://www.facebook.com/wrtilson/posts/10154226559868632). I'd really love to get more enthusiastic about her so I won't feel like I'll be holding my nose when I go into the voting booth in November – and I know many others feel similarly.
With that in mind, I'd like to share this essay (and a follow-up) that a completely random guy, Michael Arnovitz, posted on his Facebook page on June 8th, which then went viral.
It is the single best argument for Hillary that I've read.
Below are excerpts from the original article.
Here's his view on the sexism that's likely at work:
But while conservative propaganda and lies are a constant in "Hillaryland", if we look at Hillary's career, and the negative attacks so often aimed at her, it seems clear that more than just political machinations are at play. My current conviction is that the main fuel that powers the anti-Hillary crowd is sexism. And yes I'm serious. So go ahead and roll your eyes. Get it over with. But I think the evidence supports my view, and I've seen no other plausible explanation. And just to be clear, I don't think it's ONLY sexism. But I do think that this is the primary force that has generated and maintained most of the negative narratives about Hillary.
Of course accusations of sexism always bump up against several serious impediments:
1) Almost nobody will admit to it. Conservatives decided long ago that all such accusations (sexism, racism, homophobia, etc) are standard liberal bullshit whose only real intent is to shut down debate, and liberals tend to possess a sense of moral entitlement which leads them to consider themselves automatically exempt from all such accusations. (Side note: if you did roll your eyes above, there's a good chance I'm describing you here. Sorry.)
2) Overt sexism is significantly more likely to be tolerated in our society than overt racism. It is a low-risk form of bigotry and discrimination that rarely damages professional or political careers. Because of this, far fewer people worry about crossing that line.
3) We have formed a sort of collective blindness to sexism that allows us to pretend that we are on top of the issue while simultaneously ignoring the many ways in which it actually permeates our society. (Side note 2: There's a reason it's called a "glass" ceiling.)
4) Unlike men, women who make demands are still often seen as unfeminine and inappropriately aggressive, bordering on deviant. And if the people most aggressively pushing against the glass ceiling are "broken" or "deviant", it's easier to justify dismissing both them and their concerns.
…And again: why is Hillary being held to a standard that never appears to be applied to her male counterparts? Am I not supposed to notice that a media frenzy has been aimed at Hillary Clinton for accepting speaking fees of $225,000 while Donald Trump has been paid $1.5 MILLION on numerous occasions with hardly a word said about it? Am I supposed to not notice that we are now in an election season in which Donald Trump, a proud scam artist whose involvement in "Trump University" alone is being defined by the New York Attorney General as "straight-up fraud", is regularly calling Hillary Clinton "Crooked Hillary" and getting away with it?
What the actual fuck is going on here? What's going on is what we all know, but mostly don't want to admit: presidential campaigns favor men, and the men who campaign in them are rewarded for those traits perceived as being "manly" — physical size, charisma, forceful personality, assertiveness, boldness and volume. Women who evince those same traits however are usually punished rather than rewarded, and a lot of the negativity aimed at Hillary over the years, especially when she is seeking office, has been due to these underlying biases. There is simply no question that Hillary has for years been on the business end of an unrelenting double standard. And her battle with societal sexism isn't going to stop because of her success any more than Obama's battle with racism stopped once he was elected. These are generational issues, and we are who we are.
And his view on the email scandal (only somewhat superseded by the subsequent FBI report):
Compare for example the treatment Hillary is getting due to her private email "scandal" to that of General David Petraeus. Hillary has been accused of hosting a personal email server that "might" have made classified documents less secure, even though the documents in question were not classified as secret at the time she received and/or sent them. (Side note: some government documents receive secret classifications "at birth", while other can be retroactively classified as secret.) In order for Clinton to have committed a criminal act, she would have had to knowingly and willfully mishandle material that was classified at the time she did so. After months of investigation no one has accused her of doing that, and it doesn't appear as if anyone will.
General Petraeus on the other hand, while he was Director of the CIA, knowingly gave a writer, who was also his mistress, a series of black books which according to the Justice Department contained, "classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions quotes and deliberative discussions from high level National Security Council meetings and [Petraeus'] discussions with the president of the United States of America." Petraeus followed that up by lying to numerous government officials, including FBI agents, about what he had done. And let's not forget that according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, adultery is itself a court-martial offense. And I remind you that none of this is in dispute. Petraeus admitted to all of it.
Petraeus' violations were significantly more egregious than anything Clinton is even remotely accused of. And yet Republicans and other Hillary foes are howling about her issue, wearing "Hillary for Prison 2016" t-shirts while insisting that this disqualifies her from public office. Meanwhile even after pleading guilty to his crimes Petraeus continued to be the recipient of fawning sentiments from conservatives. Senator John McCain stated that, "All of us in life make mistakes and the situation now, I hope, can be put behind him…" Politico quoted a former military officer who worked with Petraeus as calling the entire situation "silly". Prominent Republicans have already made it clear that they would call him back to work in the highest levels of government if they win the Presidency. And some are still attempting to convince him to seek the Presidency himself.
Why is Hillary Clinton being held to such an obviously different standard than Petraeus? Is it really only politics?
Here's his spot-on conclusion:
Hillary is nobody's idea of perfect. Fine. But in my view if a man with her qualifications were running in the Democratic primary, Bernie would have been done before he even started. And if a man with her qualifications had been running for the Republicans, they'd be anointing him the next Reagan while trying to sneak his face onto Mount Rushmore.
Most of the people who hate Hillary when she's running for office end up liking her just fine once she's won. And I have every confidence that history will repeat itself again this November. As for myself, I have been watching Presidential elections since Nixon. And never in my life has there been an easier or more obvious choice than now. Trump is not merely a bad choice, he is (as many leading Republicans have already admitted) a catastrophic choice, unfit in every possible way for the office of the Presidency.
As such, I happily voted for Hillary in my primary. And I will proudly vote for her in November. Yes she will disappoint us all on occasion. Who doesn't? But I think she's also going to surprise a lot of people. She will fear neither consensus when possible nor ass-kicking when necessary. She will safeguard us from the damage a right-wing Supreme Court would inflict on the nation. She will stand for the rights of women, LGBT Americans, and minorities. She will maintain critical global relationships, and she will react to dangerous situations with the temperament of a seasoned and experienced professional. And in a nation that didn't even allow women to vote until 1920, she will make history by shattering the very highest glass ceiling, and in doing so forever change the way a generation of young women view their place in our Republic.
She's going to be a fine President.
I'm with her.
Here are excerpts from the even more in-depth follow-up article. Here he takes folks to talk for wild assertions:
If you want to take a different position than I did I think you should do that. But simply stating that you are against Hillary because she's a "pathological liar" or "war criminal" is not an argument, and it's not a position. It's just an insult pretending to be discourse. And while you are entitled to your opinions, you are not entitled to respect for those opinions. There seems to be some confusion on that point, and there really shouldn't be. Also, while I have a natural curiosity toward other people's views, if your main communication tactic is calling people names while hammering the "caps lock" key like you're playing a game of whac-a-mole, you can probably count me out.
I'm interested in people who take a position and then communicate it with logic and reason. In other words, people who actually try. And I'm particularly interested in those people open to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there are things they think they know that they don't. Because quite frankly, it seems clear to me that the Internet is full of people who know all kinds of things about Hillary Clinton that they don't actually know.
… I am sure that last statement about policy sent a bunch of people lunging for their keyboards in order to explain to me that Hillary Clinton's policies are exactly what they DON'T like about her. But it is very clear to me that this is not the case. The vast majority of messages and comments about HRC that I see consist almost solely of either personal attacks, false claims, childish conspiracy theories, assumptions of guilt by association or complaints about legislation passed by her husband decades ago. Almost none of the comments I see (or have received) even bother to address her current policy positions, and most of the small few that do either willfully misrepresent them, assume as a given that they are terrible or dismiss them altogether as mere political expediency. (Side note: I want to acknowledge that I have also received a number of reasonable and cogent comments. And I did very much appreciate those.)
Of course it goes without saying that in the world of social media, almost nobody bothers to back up such claims with even the most rudimentary facts or analysis. It's as if a meeting was held somewhere in which most of the country decided that when it comes to Hillary Clinton you don't have to do that. But I wasn't at that meeting, so if you'll forgive me I still kind of want people to show me how they know the things that they insist they know.
I LOVE this blunt message to young voters (who vote in very low numbers):
Speaking of not voting, I feel like I should address a few paragraphs to the 30 and under crowd, especially those that are Sanders supporters. So for all you young people, this section is for you. I've got some more graph candy above. Take a look, because there's going to be a short quiz. On the left you'll see agraph put together by the United States Elections Project, which breaks down voting by age over the last 30 years. Notice who's on the top and who's on the bottom? Notice how far to the bottom the bottom is? In the last 30 years of voting, the best your age group has ever done was in 2008, and you still didn't even break 50%. In mid-term elections you consistently hover at or below 20%, and in the 2014 mid-term election that put so many Republicans in office nearly 85% of you failed to vote.
So here's our quiz:
1) Do you think there is a single politician in the country who doesn't have a copy of this graph, or one like it?
2) When said politicians are deciding whose concerns to care about, do you think their eyes wander over this graph?
3) If senior citizens are on one side of an issue, and young people like you are on the other, who do you think gets their vote?
4) What percentage of Republican politicians use this graph as their screensaver?
5) When the GOP, especially at the state level, want to put up legislation that they know liberals (and especially young liberals) won't like, do you think that maybe they schedule it for mid-term elections?
6) When Hillary Clinton found out how much of Bernie Sanders' support was coming from young people, how many vodka martinis did she have to celebrate?
You know those old people you like to make fun of? The conservative, tea-party seniors who watch Fox News 24 hours a day and say crazy, racist shit at Thanksgiving dinner? Quick note on them: they vote. They always vote. They vote like it's a goddamn religion. Meanwhile, the vast majority of people in your age group couldn't find a voting booth with a state-of-the-art GPS stuffed up their ass. Take a look at the graph above again. See the information on the right? It was put together in 2014 by the Pew Research Center. At the bottom of all of those bars you'll see a segment called "Bystanders." This refers to people "On the sidelines of the political process who are not registered to vote and pay very little attention to politics." With seniors that segment is at only 3%. In your age group that same segment skyrockets to nearly 20%. Do you see a pattern developing here?
I realize that it's difficult to appreciate the value of historical perspective when you're too young to actually have any. But you know who does have a little historical perspective? Seniors. And maybe that's one of the reasons they are so serious about voting. Because unlike you, they've been around long enough to know that voting booths are the place where shiny new political movements go to die. And maybe they also know that rallies with twenty or thirty thousand people may seem amazing and powerful while you are at them, but voting is the real difference between a large political movement and a large political circle-jerk.
And in regard to so much of the attitude I'm seeing — No matter how much we plead for you to get involved and no matter how fiercely you are courted by politicians, the majority of you steadfastly refuse to express any interest in voting. And yet somehow there is no end to your bitter and entitled disappointment with the American electoral system. Really, it's like watching a bunch of vegans bitch about how pork doesn't taste as good as it used to. And quite frankly, it takes a particularly special pair of stones to vote this badly and then have the fucking gall to claim that your vote was suppressed. So here's your free wake-up call from Uncle Mike: nobody needs to go to the bother of suppressing your vote. You're doing that just fine on your own. Quite frankly, all anyone who's worried about the "youth vote" needs to do is let you be you.
History, as the saying goes, is made by those who show up.
A great description of the complexities of governing:
Factions with strict ideological agendas love to pretend as if all policy issues, problems and solutions are simple and self-evident. But this is absurd. In truth, our world is now connected by an incredibly complex web of political, legal and economic relationships; a Gordian knot of competing agendas that can quickly take "simple" solutions to very unhappy places. Responsible politicians know this, and the law of unintended consequences patiently waits for those foolish enough to think otherwise. Which is why seasoned leaders like Hillary Clinton often favor nuanced and incrementalist approaches. These approaches are not particularly inspiring, to be sure. They also leave politicians like Clinton open to charges of avoiding necessary change or maintaining "failed" systems. But on the plus side they don't set the world on fire. And unlike the people screaming at you on the Internet, this is something that government leaders actually have to think about. Because at the level of leadership and decision-making we're talking about, even well planned and seemingly isolated decisions can sometimes turn pear-shaped in a very big way. Or did you not get the memo from Gavrilo Princip? [The Bosnian Serb who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914, sparking WW I]
Ideological purity may make you feel pretty good about yourself, but the people we place in positions of power don't have the luxury of living in that type of self-righteous ivory tower. They have to make decisions. They have to form policy. They have to make very tough choices, and they bear the burden of responsibilities that impact hundreds of millions of lives. The president is required, nearly every day, to make decisions on a scale that would leave most of us hiding under our bed, clutching a bottle of Klonopin. Even the most experienced holders of the office pay a price, and very few presidents come out the way they went in.
…Which is also why people in a position to know, those political "elites" everyone loves to hate these days, talk so much about "temperament" during election season. They know that while votes are what get you into the office, the necessary temperament is what enables you to actually function and get something done once you're there. And preferably without having a nervous breakdown. Which is relatively important, because as most experienced political operatives will tell you, having your president turn into Jack D. Ripper halfway through their first term is less than ideal.
A brilliant take-down of Con Man Don:
Which brings us to Donald Trump, a man so temperamentally unsuited to the office of the presidency that he makes Rick Perry look like Winston Churchill. Ignore for a second the unrelenting and unapologetic racism and misogyny. Turn a blind eye for a moment to the vacuous responses to policy questions, the ludicrous position statements and the clear sense that he lacks the slightest understanding of statecraft. Look past the fact that weeks before he even officially becomes the GOP nominee, he has already insulted and infuriated some of our most important trading partners and allies. And, if possible, set aside for just a moment the fact that he is so pathologically narcissistic that his first response to the worst mass shooting in our nation's history was to pat himself on the back, and his response to the historic Brexit vote was to point out that the British pound's worst collapse in decades was going to make him a lot of money.
Consider instead a temperament that falls so short of the mark that he can't even get a large segment of his own party's leadership to stop insinuating that he is mental. Ponder for a moment the reality that this buffoon who would be king is so intolerable that he is actually driving numerous prominent Republican leaders to join a "NeverTrump
And yet even when presented with a candidate this horrible, and a campaign this far off the rails, there are a surprising number of progressives who insist that there is no real difference between Republicans and Democrats. Personally, it amazes me that anyone who has not been in a medically induced coma for the last sixteen years could think this. But it does happen. So if you are one of the few who are having a hard time seeing the difference, let me help you out.