Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Boehner's Wall Street "ant" Comment says a lot about GOP Economic Priorities.

Apparently Republicans should be able to say whatever they want with no blow back or political repercussion. After all, there are more important things to do, especially if you're President Obama, with a recession and oil spill to deal with.

President Obama singled out House Republican Leader John Boehner in a Wisconsin speech Wednesday, hammering the GOP lawmaker for appearing to compare the financial crisis to an "ant."

Boehner told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the legislation is like "killing an ant with a nuclear weapon."

Obama … said he was "stunned" by the comment. "That's right. He compared the financial crisis to an ant. The same financial crisis that led to the loss of nearly 8 million jobs. The same crisis that cost people their homes and their [life] savings," Obama said. "Well, if the Republican leader is that out of touch with the struggles facing the American people, he should come here to Racine and ask people if they think the financial crisis was an ant. ... These Americans don't believe the financial crisis was an ant."

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in response that the president should have better things to do than take shots at Boehner.
That's right, the president shouldn't bother with the House Minority Leaders irresponsible comments aimed squarely at firing up the base for the upcoming elections. What was he thinking?

Ryan is Rarely, if ever, mentioned in articles about Obama's Visit to Depressed Racine. "No Fault" Ryan?

Has anyone noticed the lack of interest to bring 1st District Rep. Paul Ryan to Racine and make the case for Bucyrus International or even meet with President Obama when he visits?

Obama invited the public to attend a round table discussion on the economy in Racine, a city suffering under 14.2 percent unemployment, second highest in the state and nearly double its jobless rate two years ago.
Has anyone noticed that this is Paul Ryan's district, and the end result of the recent Republican policies that brought about the Great Recession. Not Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus (who) said:

It was a “dangerous move” for the president to come to Wisconsin, given that the state has lost tens of thousands of jobs since the stimulus passed. “I think he’s going to be met with despair and disgust when he’s in Racine. It just personified failure when he comes to that area. … This is sort of like being witness to a bad accident.”
Again, this is Ryan's district. Paul Ryan. "Road Map" Ryan. Rocknetroots pointed out Priebus' not so complimentary description of Ryan's district as "a bad accident." WOW!!! I wonder how voters in Racine/Kenosha/Janesville are taking that news flash?

My conservative friend called me about Obama's visit and during the conversation wondered if Sen. Russ Feingold would dare show up and address the area's problems. He never mentioned Ryan. It didn't even occur to him. But under Ryan's oversight:

The city … is struggling with a loss of manufacturing jobs … Chrysler is closing its engine plant in nearby Kenosha and General Motors last year shut down its plant in Janesville, about an hour to the west.
Ryan is completely off the hook for supporting the bank bailouts and turning his back on Chrysler and the American auto industry, not to mention supporting the policies that encouraged the loss of manufacturing in Wisconsin. You would think even the local tea party would have noticed:

Nancy Milholland, 47, an unemployed sales manager and organizer of the Racine County Tea Party, said “We feel ignored. This administration is on the wrong side of the voters and it’s like they’re not listening.”
Did Nancy said anything over the last ten years to Rep. Ryan? Nancy is a little too late in demanding freedom and liberty when she lost after the economy tanked. If you don't have a job or money, you don't really have those symbolic constitutional guarantees.

Las Vegas' Skyrocketing Medical Errors Just Part of Private Sector Self Policing

Who needs health care reform, when you have the free market watchdogging itself?

So how well has lax oversight and unusable data worked in the private sector to reduce medical errors, the reason for all malpractice lawsuits. Not well. You would think that reducing patient harm would reduce, on the other end, the problematic lawsuits conservatives complain so much about.

The Las Vegas Sun’s investigation of Nevada hospital data shows 969 incidents of inpatient injuries — some that can be deadly … Rosie Powell’s surgeon removed a mass from the 74-year-old’s abdomen, thinking it was a cancerous tumor. It was a healthy kidney … Donna Wendt’s windpipe was torn during insertion of a breathing tube. Oxygen was pumped into her chest cavity instead of her lungs, bloating her. She couldn’t be saved.

Over a two-year period — 2008 and 2009 — patients suffered preventable injuries,
life-threatening infections or other harm 969 times during their stays in Las Vegas hospitals, an exhaustive Las Vegas Sun investigation has found … Until now, neither the scale of avoidable incidents nor the hospitals where the harm occurred have been publicly known, in part because hospital lobbyists have resisted the state’s efforts to make the information more public … The information gleaned from 425,000 inpatient visits tells a story of preventable harm, deadly infections and possible neglect — at a rate of about one injury per day.

it appears the hospitals are failing to report many incidents … 21 cases in which hospital patients accidentally had foreign objects left in their bodies after surgery … 79 cases in which a hospital patient developed an advanced-stage pressure sore … 475 cases of bloodstream infections involving central-line catheters — flexible tubes implanted into main veins to quickly introduce medications … 248 cases in which hospital patients suffered postoperative falls or other trauma. The data show 79 instances in the 13 area acute-care hospitals where the harmed patient died.

The numbers beg for comparison with other regions … In October 2008, Medicare stopped reimbursing hospitals for preventable “hospital-acquired conditions,” another name for the events identified by the Sun. Medicare’s move addressed the perverse incentive facilities have to not correct harm done to patients: Most insurance companies pay them to treat the hospital-acquired conditions. The injuries can be moneymakers.

Bill Welch, president of the Nevada Hospital Association, questioned whether medical error reporting was worth the cost. No study shows that mandatory reporting measurably reduces the errors, he said. The 1,363 incidents of statewide hospital-acquired harm identified by the Sun from the 2008 and 2009 data seem to fit Nevada’s definition … Yet during that period Nevada hospitals reported only 402 sentinel events.

Regulators have trusted the hospitals to do what’s best for patients.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Texas, Republican Party, Over the Top Fringe Platform to Ban Gays.

The 2010 Texas Republican Party platform proposal would ban homosexuality and advocates jail sentences for those who issue same-sex marriage licenses.


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Circumcision Gone Bad...

This next story is just too painful to imagine.
South African health officials said Tuesday they are alarmed by the rise in deaths among men who have had botched traditional circumcisions, after 39 young men died in the last month after undergoing the rite of passage into manhood.
Yes, MEN are getting circumcised. But it gets worse:
Eighteen-year old boys generally undergo circumcision rites during school holidays, in midyear or at the end of the year. The procedure is performed outdoors by a traditional leader who uses a spear to remove the foreskin.
A spear? What the hell are these people doing?

The custom has drawn criticism because the circumcision is generally performed by unqualified traditional leaders in unsanitary conditions. Health officials say there is a high risk of infection, which can lead to amputation or even death.
Health officials should STOP the practice, not report how bad it is.

Sen. Al Franken Takes on Conservative Cafeteria Constitutional "Scholars."

In my previous post, I warned Democrats to fight back against the conservative forces trying to set in stone, one interpretation of the Constitution. One Senator did, Al Franken. This is how every Democrat must continue to battle against the cafeteria constitutional conservatives and tea party "scholars."

Sen. Jefferson Bearregard Sessions racist, Twisted Constitutional Ranting Reflects Convoluted Conservative Interpretation as the Original Meaning.

Good 'Ole Southern boy Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions' partisan, conservative activist viewpoint of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall turned my stomach. We can agree there are two points of view when it comes to interpreting our constitutional, but we will never agree that there is really only one meaning, a conservative one.

With our current conservative activist supreme court justices setting national policy on campaign money, corporate person hood, gun ownership and the benefits of "legal" price fixing, Republicans and tea party simpletons are now pointing to these recent decisions as proof their interpretation is the right one.

Beauregard Sessions insane belligerent statements: Ruth Bader Ginsberg is "one of the most active members of the supreme court." "As the dramatic 5 to 4 decision today, in the McDonald case shows, the personal right of every American to own a gun hangs by a single vote on the Supreme Court." "Ms. Kagan has associated herself with well known activist judges who have used their power to redefine the meaning of words of our constitution and laws in ways that not surprisingly have the result of advancing that judges preferred social policies and agendas. She clerked with Justice Marshall...a well known activist."

Thank god we haven't seen any of that from Thomas, Scalia, Alito and Roberts.

What's worse is the compliant Democratic Party allowing the redefinition of constitutional law to take place on their watch, and without a fight. Obama opened the door when he commented on the Citizens United case, saying "a major victory for Big Oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans." The Democrats ran and hid from the "controversy."

Yes, that activist Justice Marshall and his liberal war against "separate but equal." How could he defile the constitution like that? Like….

Thurgood Marshall represented and won more cases before the United States Supreme Court than any other American. Marshall's first major court case came in 1933 when he successfully sued the University of Maryland to admit a young African American Amherst University graduate named Donald Gaines Murray. Among them were cases in which the court declared unconstitutional a Southern state's exclusion of African American voters from primary elections (Smith v. Allwright [1944]), state judicial enforcement of racial “restrictive covenants” in housing (Shelley v. Kraemer [1948]), and “separate but equal” facilities for African American professionals and graduate students in state universities (Sweatt v. Painter and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents [both 1950]). Without a doubt, however, it was his victory before the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that established his reputation as a formidable and creative legal opponent and an advocate of social change.

(As a) U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the Second Circuit … he wrote over 150 decisions including support for the rights of immigrants, limiting government intrusion in cases involving illegal search and seizure, double jeopardy, and right to privacy issues. Until his retirement from the highest court in the land, Justice Marshall established a record for supporting the voiceless American.

Kagan should be ashamed.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Milwaukee Supervisor Peggy West not sure Where Arizona is in U.S.

Politics aside, this demonstrates the sad state of voter representation today, as we race to the bottom. Bring on the constitutional scholar class of tea party whiners and low information voters.

I couldn't think of a better way to use the crap Steve Jobs Cranks out.

Here it Comes: The Second Great Depression, and long term Joblessness

Think I'm over reacting? Not at all. I've been worried about the "deficit cutting," not the "spending our way out of a recession" plan for Europe, to pull themselves out of the last Great Recession. It's the exact opposite reaction we should have taken from the Great Depression.

Here's a post in the Huffington Post:

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has issued perhaps the most frightening prediction for the future of the global economy … Krugman worries that a move toward austerity by world governments -- near-term budget-slashing to curb deficits -- will plunge the economy into a "third depression." On the heels of last week's G20 meeting in Toronto, where world governments pledged to halve deficits by 2013, Krugman is deeply concerned that there just won't be enough stimulus in the economy to recover from the prolonged downturn.

"We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost -- to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs -- will nonetheless be immense. And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world -- most recently at last weekend's deeply discouraging G-20 meeting -- governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending."

Krugman isn't alone in his fear that the world economy is becoming increasingly precarious. The Wall Street Journal noted that members of the Federal Reserve are in private planning for the possibility of a double-dip recession in America -- a concern shared by MarketWatch's in-house economist. The job picture in America certainly isn't comforting, and the mounting ranks of the jobless may lend some support to Krugman's pro-stimulus thesis. This chart, from the Saint Louis Federal Reserve, shows that long-term unemployment is skyrocketing:

For political reasons, the GOBP will hold off on the tax breaks for small business and unemployment benefits to increase the chances of another recession and possible depression to gain seats in November. Winning elections is the name of their game and I fear they have already won that gamble in the mind of voters.

Will Anybody be Able to Stop the Economic and Social Bulldozer we know as Paul Ryan?

Rep. Paul Ryan is making a killing selling something the public can't get enough of; victimhood. Under his plan, it is YOUR fault for failure, and not your inability to stand-up against the already powerful controlling force of big business. Tea party and Rand/Freidman free marketers have fallen for the line "you didn't try hard enough," when these "libertarians" find ouselves unemployed, sick or bankrupt. Even though the Bush tax cuts expire this year, four years after the Democrats took congress, the damage they have brought to the nation is now being blamed on the Dems.

It's the two Santa Claus's theory. Jude Wanniski argued that Republicans must become the tax-cutting Santa Claus to the Democrats' spending Santa Claus. Republicans make everyone happy with cut taxes. Which in turn creates huge deficits and turns congress over to the Democrats. The Republicans then promise balanced budgets and tax cuts, again, because the party in power typically gets the blame at election time. Can Ryan's plan be called the two Scrooge's theory. "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

Ryan's attempt to shift the group buying power of the government to each and every single American for the sake of "balancing the budget" is shockingly short sighted. We saw the results of this philosophy historically during the Robber Baron and Dickensian periods.

Congressman Paul Ryan: “Republicans on the budget committee have already identified $1.3 trillion in specific spending cuts we would implement right now to make Washington do more with less and help small businesses put people back to work.”

Ryan suggested "These are specific, common-sense ideas," … like canceling unspent TARP bailout funds and stimulus money, "that would HELP US FOCUS on creating more jobs, not more debt." … "We also propose reducing federal employment and freezing government pay."
Oh, did Ryan mention that that would dramatically increase our current unemployment numbers, and even draw more money from the already drained unemployment fund pool. And of course, Ryan never has the time to bring up his other "tough love" cuts to our social safety nets. In fact, Ryan contradicts his free market, sink or swim philosophy by suggesting there is an inferred "promise" of prosperity and national exceptionalism.

"Of course, this is just a starting point … Let’s make the tough, forward-looking choices that will restore the PROMISE and prosperity of this exceptional nation, and let’s do it together."
Like "entitlements," what liberals refer to as safety nets, Ryan doth "promise" too much.

Ryan's economic quackery, part two:

"I would replace the current tax system with a modified flat tax. It's a boon to progressivity, meaning 10% on the first 100,000 dollars for couples 25% above that. No other tax on capital or saving. Meaning no dividends, capital gains or death tax. Those are taxes that are double taxes on capital, they retard economic growth and innovation," he said.
Deja vu! We saw a dramatic reduction in the capital gains tax, two huge Bush tax cuts, along with a similar reduction and complete elimination of the estate tax, and look where its taken us. The Great Recession. Ryan would make permanent, in fact, wipe out any all of those taxes as a way to kick start growth and innovation. What an interesting way to pay off the nations debt.

"This unprecedented budget collapse also sends a clear signal to American families struggling to meet their own budgets that Washington still doesn't recognize the severity of its spending problem."
Families don't cut their incomes in half to make ends meet either. Typical families are in debt to the tune of hundreds of thousand of dollars via their 30 year home mortgage, but you don't see anyone calling these Americans reckless spenders? Plus, debt isn't bad when you're trying to prevent another great recession.

And finally, the ultimate contradictory comment that really pissed me off:

"Leaders should make the tough choices they promised they would, put MORAL OBLIGATION before political expedience and focus on what's in the best interests of the next generation, not the next election," Ryan said.
Which is exactly what Ryan and the GOBP are doing; using their own recession for what is politically expedient, in time for the next election. The moral obligation would be to save and enhance the social safety nets he and his fellow Republicans have taken for granted for years. Without them, stranded entrepreneurs would have been smashed like ants, and discouraged from ever trying to obtain the American dream.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Huglight best Reading light yet! This is not an ad, but a consumer tip.

If you're like me, than you've tried thousands of reading lights out there. Many short circuit after a few months. Yes, they do don't they.

Having said that, I've only had mine for about 3 weeks, but since they aren't really bent this way and that (like in the ad), they should last a long time. And at $10 bucks a piece, come on! Their turning up locally at a home improvement center here, but they're pretty cheap online. This ad has the typical and rip-off oriented "free, you pay for shipping" crap, so I would buy locally or on line at their site. Or not at all, since I'm only reporting, letting you decide.

Each Hug Light tip has 2 super-bright LEDs, one focused beam and one wide beam, so it’s right for any job

The foam-covered steel alloy arms are strong enough to hold the beam steady, yet flexible enough to point the light precisely where you need it

They’re so flexible, you can even coil the Hug Light like a snake and stand it up

Guys love it for home repairs and other jobs around the house

New Tool Bar the best I've seen! Help me Find it.

Does anyone know how I can get this add-on for the web site. It's located at the bottom of MSNBC's page, and elsewhere. It is not the typical toolbar that builds on to EI8. I think this is one of the best "toolbars" yet, and should be available someplace.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Terrence Wall accuses GOP Convention of Voter Fraud.

Corruption is like a cancer at every level in the Republican Party, spreading and consuming the tea party movement. After all, haven't they been funded by the GOBP for the last year and a half?

Here Terrence Wall, former candidate to take on Sen. Feingold, points out every aspect of fraud when the GOP convention solicited votes for endorsement. Shocker? WTDY News:

Picture from OneWisconsinNow.

Tea Party looking to Government to Protect Jobs, Environment and Support Tariffs...Oh, and Against Garbage Collections.

Proving how ideologically blind conservatives are about their political party, no matter how crazy or hypocritical, they continue ignore that little voice in their head telling them they're wrong. Nothing can be wrong're right, right?


One of the organizing principles of the conservative-led tea party movement is an “aversion to big government,” with tea party organizers turning their ire on comprehensive health reform, clean energy legislation, and even mandatory trash collection. Yet a new poll finds that, despite their anti-government rhetoric, a majority of tea partiers favor the government enacting policies to protect manufacturing jobs and placing tariffs on goods from countries with weak environmental standards:

A new poll contradicts the widely held belief that the tea party movement is opposed to government action to help the economy. It shows that self-described Tea Party supporters are very much in favor of government action to revitalize America’s manufacturing base.

Seventy-four percent of self-described Tea Party Supporters would support a “national manufacturing strategy to make sure that economic, tax, labor, and trade policies in this country work together to help support manufacturing in the United States,” according to the poll, put out by the Mellman Group and the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

Likewise, 56 percent of self-described Tea Party Supporters “favor a tariff on products imported from other countries that are cheaper because they came from a country that does not have to comply with any climate change regulations in the country where the products were made.”

It remains to be seen if the corporate-funded astroturf groups like FreedomWorks and the Republican Party, both of which have courted the tea party movement, will be willing to champion these pro-worker and pro-environmental views movement members appear to have.

The founding fathers would be proud of these tea party efforts to curb...garbage collection:

Local chapters of the tea party and FreedomWorks are collaborating to plan a protest in Gwinnet County, Georgia, to voice their latest grievance against government powers — mandatory home trash collection: Three political activist groups are joining together Saturday to protest Gwinnett County’s new trash plan, which begins July 1.

The Four Corners Tea Party, FreedomWorks Gwinnett and Gwinnett Citizens for Responsible Government have organized the protest … The county’s new solid waste program will make trash collection mandatory for all homeowners in unincorporated Gwinnett County. City residents are not affected by the plan … The Four Corners Tea Party says on its Facebook page that the group is concerned with “REQUIRING people who live in the unincorporated parts of the county to pay for trash pick-up…whether they like it or not.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Under Reporting Climate Change?

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Sasquatch escapes Castle Law Solution for Trespassing.

Tim Peeler shows us how curious Americans deal with strangers and God's uniques creatures in nature. Kill it. At least he attempted to get permission.

Clueless Tea Party Crazy Sharron Angle supports "Honest" lower paying jobs to raise American Families. Get used to it.

In a jobless recession and recovery, the last thing the unemployed worker is able to work. But Republicans and tea party whiners both have acted like the global crash the U.S. created is a bump in the road, a minor inconvenience on the way to getting government out of our lives completely. Ceding the peoples governmental sovereignty to private business is an unusual way to obtain liberty and freedom. What's not to like about unelected CEO governance?

Nevada candidate Sharron Angle thinks employer/employee unemployment insurance is an entitlement, and that lower paying "honest" jobs should be incentive enough for individuals to give up their higher unemployment checks to pay their bills and raise their families. Makes sense to her. Can you say "race to the bottom?"

Pro School Privatization Candidates Ownership of Taxpayer funded Voucher and Charter Schools gets Media Yawn.

What is it about our current crop of politicians pushing an agenda that would essentially pad their own pockets with taxpayer dollars. It's all being done without any news media astonishment? I wasn't going to make a big deal about it, but maybe someone should. Take gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann:
Neumann Wants To Get Rid Of Teacher Certification: Republican gubernatorial
candidate Mark Neumann is proposing to get rid of state certification for teachers … also is
proposing a series of incentives that will encourage private schools and public charter schools to compete with and replace failing public schools. "(I want ) representatives from all different types of schools, charter schools, home school, virtual schools. I want representation from the entire school system," he said.

Neumann is a partner in a company that uses public funds to run three private schools in Milwaukee and one in Phoenix known as Hope Christian Schools.
Hello, anyone see a problem? As a result of the long time drum beat of privatization, even some Blue Dog Democrats have gotten into the racket. Taking taxpayer dollars to advance the dissolution of the American public school system and then running for office to control and expand that agenda should be outrageous.
In his quest to be the Democrats' nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, State Sen. Anthony Williams is calling for expanding educational choice and targeting taxpayer funds to charters and other schools that produce results.
While never answering the question as to why people hate spending money on public schools but love sending it to private hucksters, see if you can see a shocking conflict of interest in the following paragraph:

But the Southwest Philadelphia charter school he founded as Renaissance Advantage in 1999 and oversaw as board chairman for a decade has experienced rocky times. The school, which Williams renamed Hardy Williams Academy in 2009 for his late father, was nearly closed in 2003 because of academic and management problems.

What an interesting trend the media has decided not to notice or call into question.

Googles Pay Scheme for News Bad News for Bloggers, Rolling out Prematurely before eReader Variety and Lower Prices.

It only made sense that Google would get into the pay for content business. I would love to pay for news content, but a decent eReader hasn't made it to the market place yet. The iPad is an Apple product and part of the greediest man in the worlds empire, so forget that.

Second, the price has got to be really low, more like an introductory price, so anyone can afford multiple subscriptions or "packages."


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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Finally a Supreme Court Decision I can Agree with

Don't you love it when an out-of-state group comes in, organizes a petition, riles of the public with advertisements meant to incite, and win at the ballot box through fear? Shouldn't we know who they are? They didn't think so, but so what.

(AP) - People who sign petitions calling for public votes on controversial subjects don't have an automatic right to hide their names, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday as it sided against Washington state voters worried about harassment because they advocated repeal of that state's gay rights law. The high court ruling (was) against Protect Marriage Washington, which organized a petition drive for a public vote to repeal the state's "everything-but-marriage" domestic partnership law.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the 8-1 judgment for the court, said it is vitally important that states be able to ensure that signatures on referendum petitions are authentic. "Public disclosure thus helps ensure that the only signatures counted are those that should be, and that the only referenda placed on the ballot are those that garner enough valid signatures," Roberts said.

But Roberts also said that Protect Marriage Washington could go back to the lower courts and try to prove that the release of their names would put them in danger. One justice in the majority, Samuel Alito, seemed to suggest that such an argument
might be successful.

But Justice Antonin Scalia said there already are laws against threats and intimidation, and "harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is a price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self-governance." Scalia said he does not look forward to a country that "exercises the direct democracy of initiative and referendum hidden from public scrutiny or protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave," he said.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and the retiring John Paul Stevens also seemed skeptical.

The worst Supreme Court justice ever, Justice Clarence Thomas, was the only dissenter.

D.C Voucher School Final Report: Failed!

The D.C voucher program failed! Oh, but you'd never know that if you read the breaking news story in the Washington Post: "The U.S. Department of Education issued its final evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program -- aka school vouchers."

So will the study move the ball? Here's what it found: (a) "There is no conclusive evidence that the [voucher program] affected student achievement." (b) The program "significantly improved students' chances of graduating from high school" -- by 12 percent. And (c), the program "raised parents', but not students', ratings of school safety and satisfaction."
But something was missing from point (b). Check out the actual language:
The Program significantly improved students' chances of graduating from high school, "according to parent reports."
There's more:
"Graduation rates are as reported by parents during telephone surveys … about 500 of the 2,300 students in the study were old enough to have graduated from high school. Parents of these students were surveyed about their child’s progress through school.
If that didn't raise a few red flags, check out this additional caveat:
Based on parents who responded, the offer of an OSP scholarship increased students’ probability of completing high school by 12 percentage points overall.
But what is the actual number when ALL students who completed high school were counted, and not just what was reported from the "parents who responded?"

In an attempt to spin the final report in a positive way, the Washington Post article took the "parents who responded" "parent reports" section of the summary, and flipped reality on its ear.

But how to explain the essential dilemma of the findings? How can there be such a dramatic rise in graduation rates with so little change in test scores?

Patrick Wolf, the University of Arkansas researcher who led the study, tells me the phenomenon isn't unheard of. As far back as the 1980s, he says, famed sociologist James S. Coleman had theorized that, when it came to disadvantaged students, private schools "had a stronger effect on their persistence in the education system rather than their performance." In other words, they may not do better, but they stay longer" … And then there's this point: "I think the question to ask is, Where's the harm?" Wolf says. "What's the harm of extending this program? There's no evidence that anyone was harmed. And there is some evidence that this helped students."

Wow, what a great program huh? For a lousy final report on the D.C. voucher program, it was mission accomplished for voucher advocates.

Mark Neumann Advances "Simpleton" Plan to turn Schools into Free Market Corporate Profit Centers. Enjoy Calling Regional CEO.

The most recent GOP plan to destroy public education surfaced recently in a proposal by governor candidate Mark Neumann:

Former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann rolled out a state education plan Monday that calls for eliminating budget and staffing mandates, grading schools based on performance and increasing local control. “Through competition and innovation, failing schools will be given incentives to improve, or else be replaced by successful private choice schools, charter schools and other forms of innovative education.”
Replacing public schools with unproven, "innovative" forms of experimentation would seem crazy to most parents looking for a system with a proven track record. If just replacing bad schools with "successful private schools was the answer, than history would tell us that only great public and private schools would have replaced all the bad ones and we wouldn't have our current problem. Neumann seems willing to "innovate" on a grand scale with experimental, unproven ideas that subject a childs irreplaceble years with Milton Freidman's free market theory of "choice." Educators pointed out the obvious:

“We work in the classrooms and we know what works,” said Christina Brey, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers union. “His plan doesn’t appear to be research-based.”

Dan Rossmiller, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, also expressed concern. “His plan seems to include a number of ways to redirect money away from public education…,” he said.

But do conservatives want to destroy public education so others can make a profit and gain an electoral advantage in fundraising once the unions are gone? From Schools Matter:

Gov. Chris Christie, appointed another ideologue like himself, Bret Schundler, to run what has been up until now one of the best state systems of public education in the country. To do their work for them, (they) have called upon sludge tank propagandist, Andy Smarick, who offered this summary in 2008 of how to charterize the world:

Commit to drastically increasing the charter market share in a few select communities until it is the dominant system and the district is reduced to a secondary provider … choose the target communities wisely … and a favorable political environment (friendly elected officials and editorial boards, a positive experience with charters to date, and unorganized opposition) … As chartering increases its market share in a city, the district will come under growing financial pressure. The district, despite educating fewer and fewer students, will still require a large administrative staff to process payroll and benefits, administer federal programs, and oversee special education. With a lopsided adult-to-student ratio, the district's per-pupil costs will skyrocket.

At some point along the district's path from monopoly provider to financially unsustainable marginal player, the city's investors and stakeholders--taxpayers, foundations, business leaders, elected officials, and editorial boards--are likely to demand fundamental change. That is, eventually the financial crisis will become a political crisis.

At which point, educating our kids will become a profit center and a growing new industry, with great schools charging more than the cheap marginal (bad) schools parents will have NO CHOICE but to send their kids. Complaining to elected officials will become a thing of the past.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Glenn Beck's Brainwashing Paranoid Trip Through Reality.

When I was young, I always got into those spy stories about brainwashing. It was so evil. Did you know brainwashing stories are still pretty hot, especially with men who's brains never advanced beyond their childhood? Ask Glenn Beck....

Again we're talking about conservative projection, that's because Republicans would never think of brainwashing or propaganda. Oh, click here!

Tauntaun Sleeping Bags, Unicorn Meat?

I tumbled across the NY Times story below and spent the next 2 hours laughing at the fake/or not fake products and gift ideas. I've included a few pictures here, and the Canned Unicorn Meat story that lured me in:

As ThinkGeek needs to up the ante each year, in 2010 it decided to create a product called Canned Unicorn Meat. The tag line for this new delicacy? “Pâté is passé. Unicorn, the new white meat.” It promised to be an “excellent source of sparkles!” It was, of course, fake.

Although it is probably clear to most nerds and wildlife experts, the National Pork Board, an organization devoted to pork and related businesses and farms, saw a threat to the national brand of pork, otherwise known as “the other white meat.” So the organization sent ThinkGeek a cease-and-desist letter.

ThinkGeek published the letter and offered this apology on its Web site to the board: “We’d like to publicly apologize to the N.P.B. for the confusion over unicorn and pork — and for their awkward extended pause on the phone after we had explained our unicorn meat doesn’t actually exist.”
Some of this stuff is just to good to be fake!

Rep. Scalise Sweats BS on Hardball, Does not know details about $20 billion fund

Just about anyone paying attention knows how the BP $20 billion fund is going to be administered. Anyone that is, except Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise. It's very simple:

According to BP: Payments from the fund will be made as they are adjudicated, whether by the Independent Claims Facility (ICF) referred to below, or by a court, or as agreed by BP. The ICF will be administered by Ken Feinberg, who oversaw the 9/11 victims compensation fund.

The ICF will adjudicate on all Oil Pollution Act and tort claims excluding all federal and state claims. Any money left in the fund once all legitimate claims have been resolved and paid will revert to BP.

But on Hardball, Scalise unleashed the great GOBP straw man ploy, where the most improbable "what ifs" are offered up as if they were sane possibilities. Scalise is not embarrassed by appearing completely removed from the available information out there when he asked, "Where's that money going to go, how is it going to be spent." Scalise wildly imagines this: "I don't think people want to see it wasted on government bureaucracy here in Washington." Chris Matthews calls this one right when he accuses Scalise of "pure partisan politics."

Vilifying the fund by attaching to it fantastical evil intentions, on the backs of the victims of the Gulf oil spill, is standard operating procedure for these bottom feeders. This is red meat for the base, which says a lot about the low information fire breathers worried about the end of our constitutional democracy.

Scalise too is afraid of ruffling Rush Limbaugh's feathers, siding with him, and not his party leadership.

Why didn't Anyone Call Rand Paul Out on his Board Certified Great Deception?

Thanks you Stephen for pointing out the absurdity of this phony organization.

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Still more proof health care reform wasn't just a good idea, but a life saver.

According to the Commonwealth Fund research:

Despite having the most expensive health care system, the United States ranks last overall compared to six other industrialized countries—Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—on measures of health system performance in five areas: quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead long, healthy, productive lives, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. While there is room for improvement in every country, the U.S. stands out for not getting good value for its health care dollars, ranking last despite spending $7,290 per capita on health care in 2007 compared to the $3,837 spent per capita in the Netherlands, which ranked first overall.

Despite having the most expensive health care system, the United States ranks last overall compared to six other industrialized countries—Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—on measures of health system performance in five areas: quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead long, healthy, productive lives, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. While there is room for improvement in every country, the U.S. stands out for not getting good value for its health care dollars, ranking last despite spending $7,290 per capita on health care in 2007 compared to the $3,837 spent per capita in the Netherlands, which ranked first overall.

According to Mirror Mirror On The Wall: How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally 2010 Update, by Commonwealth Fund researchers:

On two of four measures of quality—effective care and patient-centered care—the U.S. ranks in the middle (4th out of 7 countries). On measures of efficiency, the U.S ranked last due to low marks when it comes to spending on administrative costs, use of information technology, re-hospitalization, and duplicative medical testing. Nineteen percent of U.S. adults with chronic conditions reported they visited an emergency department for a condition that could have been treated by a regular doctor, had one been available, more than three times the rate of patients in Germany or the Netherlands (6%).

On measures of access to care, people in the U.S. have the hardest time affording the health care they need—with the U.S. ranking last on every measure of cost-related access problems. For example, 54 percent of adults with chronic conditions reported problems getting a recommended test, treatment or follow-up care because of cost. In the Netherlands, which ranked first on this measure, only 7 percent of adults with chronic conditions reported this problem.

On measures of healthy lives, the U.S. does poorly, ranking last when it comes to infant mortality and deaths before age 75 that were potentially preventable with timely access to effective health care, and second to last on healthy life expectancy at age 60.

According to the Washington Posts Ezra Kline:

The Commonwealth Foundation began a new project to assemble a comparative international picture: They chose seven countries and conducted deep, ongoing polls of both patients and health-care providers. The surveys test experiences with the system, cost questions, efficiency, convenience, health outcomes and much more. The result is a comparison based not on an outsider’s methodology but on the experiences of patients and providers. Here, too, the U.S. underperforms.

But even with all that spending, "the U.S. ranks last overall, as it did in the 2007, 2006, and 2004 editions of Mirror, Mirror. Most troubling, the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last on dimensions of access, patient safety, coordination, efficiency, and equity. The Netherlands ranks first, followed closely by the U.K. and Australia."

The issue isn't just that we don't have universal health care. Our delivery system underperforms, too. "Even when access and equity measures are not considered, the U.S. ranks behind most of the other countries on most measures. With the inclusion of primary care physician survey data in the analysis, it is apparent that the U.S. is lagging in adoption of national policies that promote primary care, quality improvement, and information technology."

Ben 10 Takes a Humorous Shot at Fox News Host

My kids love Ben 10, and got a good laugh when they recognized this "Bill O'Reilly" take-off in the segment below. "Pinhead" was a dead give-away.

Teachers Union Director Reinforces Negative Stereotype.

In what could have been a moment of reconciliation between the school board and teachers union on WPT's Here and Now, turned out instead to be the public school teachers worst nightmare and PR disaster.

Interim Dir. of the Milwaukee Teachers Union Pat O'Mahar bitterly contested the job saving suggestion that would have switch the union to a less expensive health care plan. Petty and inflexible, O'Mahar made it clear to me, that we've got a union problem.

Kudos to Milwaukee School Board President Michael Bonds, for trying his hardest to bring back over 400 laid off teachers next year. The teachers must know they've got a problem here, right?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rep. Darrell Issa calls White House Corrupt, calls for Endless Witch-hunts! Remember "Can't We all Look Foward?"-old GOBP quote

Liberal voters, bloggers and think tanks wanted the previous administration investigated and jailed for committing war crimes, violating the constitution and lying America into a war. Issa and his fellow Republicans would love to distract the public away from creating jobs to something much more important, investigating the White House.

Washington Post: The quote is buried in a Politico article about a recent speech Issa gave, in which he revealed he's planning to hire reams of subpoena-wielding investigators as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee if Republicans take back the House.

Now that's backward looking payback! They're so shameless.

eReading made easy, with Text 2.0, using Eye Tracking technology.

Even before most people have eReaders, technology is already offering folks an easier way to skim over material, define words and bookmark where you left off at the moment your eyes left the electronic page. I so want an eReader:

Text 2.0 uses eye-tracking technology from Tobii Technology. Text 2.0 uses infrared light and a camera to track eye movement across a screen, and it uses this information to infer a user’s intentions during the course of reading.

For example, taking more time to read certain words, phrases, or names could trigger the appearance of sound effects, footnotes, translations, biographies, definitions, or animations. If the user begins skimming the text, the tracker will begin fading out words it deems less important to the text. If the reader glances away, a bookmark automatically appears, pointing to where the user stopped reading.

I know, it sounds to good to be true, so watch the video (look for the tiny red floating dot):

Besides DFKI’s Text 2.0, Tobii’s technology can be used with online advertising, gaming, car safety, and 3-D displays, says the company. Tobii also says the technology can be used to help people with disabilities.

Although Text 2.0 might sound like an intriguing technology, critics are questioning how helpful it might really be. Some wonder if automatic visual or special effects will be too distracting. They also question whether the software really can determine which words are “less important” if a reader is skimming. And will eye-tracking software open the possibility for advertisements to pop up related to topics the reader is perusing? For example, if a user reads about Julia Child, will advertisements for cutlery appear when a user reads the word “knife”?
DFKI recently put its Processing Easy Eye-tracker Plug-in (PEEP) to a practical use by allowing Webkit’s 3-D capability to create a window manipulation system called “gaze-controlled tab expose.” In other words, computer users can use their eyes to pull up internet tabs in 3-D. PEEP is free to download and can be used in any eye-tracking project. Watch a video showing gaze-controlled tabs in action:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sen. Candidate Dave Westlake Thinks Cutting Jobs Okay. Conservative Elitist Know-it-alls Should Decide Good Jobs from Bad.

We're still in and trying to come out of the Great Recession; 9 percent unemployment; and a frightened public is waiting for the next ball to

Senate candidate Dave Westlake says: "We have to LIKE cutting jobs in government."

Heck, public workers don't need the money or have families. If they really wanted to, they could easily hop right into another none existent private sector job. And those that can't find work during a jobless recession are lazy, determined to use other peoples money to live the sweet life of plasma TV, food stamps and free health care.

WisPolitics: Westlake said he would seek to cut the number of federal employees and shrink the size of government. He said bureaucracies that could be “easily cut” include the Department of Education, saying education is a state issue, and the Department of Energy. He also said the Internal Revenue Service could be cut back on or possibly eliminated.
These are working class, middle class families, who live and spend in our communities just like private sector workers. But because there aren't as many private sector workers anymore because of conservative economic policies, according to Westlake, we should increase public sector jobless numbers. That'll get us back on track. He really is a tea party idiot.

Sen. Candidate Dave Westlake Backs BP, thinks Government should be powerless against Big Oil.

If only business had the chance to run America, wouldn't we be a lot better off? Crazy?

That's what Dave Westlake thinks. Government has no business getting involved by giving aid to devastated Americans effected by BP's Gulf oil catastrophe. They should go through the courts for just compensation, which might take one, three or ten years.
WisPolitics: U.S. Senate candidate Dave Westlake, echoing controversial remarks by Texas U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, called the $20 billion fund the White House pressed BP to set up to pay claims resulting from the Gulf oil spill "nothing more than a shakedown of BP" this morning at a forum in Brookfield, the first of the primary season.
Below is a clip a compilation of Westlake and followup coverage of the actual "shakedown."

Westlake was very clear about taking the free market position:

“Shaking BP down for $20 billion doesn't do anything to further that end or to get the oil cleaned up faster,” Westlake said.

Johnson expressed concern that the Obama administration appeared to skirt the law in setting up the fund rather than going through the normal legal process.

“It is very troubling when we circumvent the rule of law,” Johnson said. “I think they would have been held liable, and that would be the way to do this.”

The campaign of U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Middleton, ripped both candidates as "out of touch" for their reaction toward BP following the debate.

"The fact that both Republican candidates came out in opposition to holding BP accountable for the worst environmental disaster in our country's history shows just how addicted the GOP is to big oil special interests and how out of touch they are with Wisconsin," said John Kraus, senior strategist for the Feingold Campaign. "It should come as no surprise that Ron Johnson would oppose the BP fund since he has already said this is not the time to be beating up on big oil. But it's very telling that Johnson sees BP as the victim, not our environment or the people whose lives are turned upside down by the reckless actions of BP."

Ann Woolner, Bloomberg News: But how can it be a shakedown, when BP had already pledged to pay all legitimate claims? If that was a sincere offer, then the fund is simply an apparatus to ensure that it keeps its promise and does so fairly and more quickly … It gives BP’s word credibility.

Nor can we say how accepting BP was of the escrow account and new claims process. No allegations of waterboarding have surfaced. This is the first credible piece of good news for the people and businesses of the Gulf of Mexico in two months. If BP had to be shaken down to produce it, then shame on BP.

Hey Tea Party Defenders of our Constitutional liberty's, Conservative Activist Justices Allow Government to Limit Association Rights if They Say So.

This was "the court’s first ruling on the free speech and association rights of American citizens in the context of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks.

So what did the plaintiff try to do?

The law was challenged by Ralph D. Fertig, a civil rights activist who said he wanted to help a militant Kurdish group in Turkey find peaceful ways to achieve its goals.
Although a broad reading of free speech rights gave corporations personhood and a voice in our democracy, that same broad reading disappears when it comes to humanitarian speech to associate. Association rights that might help those under terrorist rule. Fox News explains:

Did the founding fathers intend limitations of free speech and association rights on the possibility of someone else's terrorist activities? What strict constructionist would buy into this activist morphing of the original intent? Isn't it odd the liberal justices are the ones defending the constitution, while the activist conservative justices have allowed the current political winds to influence their ruling.

Rejecting a First Amendment challenge, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld a federal law that bans providing “material support” to terrorist organizations. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority in the 6-to-3 decision, said the law’s prohibition on providing some forms of intangible assistance to groups said by the State Department to engage in terrorism did not violate the First Amendment. “At bottom, plaintiffs simply disagree with the considered judgment of Congress and the executive that providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization — even seemingly benign support — bolsters the terrorist activities of that organization,” the chief justice wrote … even if the supporters meant to promote only the groups’ nonviolent ends.” He was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Anthony M. Kennedy and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

NY Times: The court’s opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. on behalf of five other justices, ruled ... Even peaceful assistance to a terror group can further terrorism, the chief justice wrote, in part by lending them legitimacy and allowing them to pretend to be negotiating while plotting violence.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer took the unusual step of summarizing his dissent from the bench … the majority had been too credulous in accepting the government’s argument that national security concerns required restrictions on the challengers’ speech, and “failed to insist upon specific evidence, rather than general assertion.”

In his dissent, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Breyer concluded that the majority “deprives the individuals before us of the protection the First Amendment demands.”

Since 2001, the government says, it has prosecuted about 150 defendants
for violating the material-support law, obtaining roughly 75 convictions.

Supreme Court's Electioneering! Majority no longer hides broader activist intentions.

So how hyper-partisan is the Roberts Supreme Court? Bush v Gore was just the beginning folks...Rachel Maddow reports, and you decide:

Rep. Paul Ryan's Mental Confusion (hypocrisy) over the CBO

Since I post anything Paul Ryan, I couldn't resist the following story. Lou Kaye at Rocknetroots put together this beautiful example (in blue below) of CBO number hypocrisy from Rep. Paul Ryan, the media's do-no-wrong GOBP economic "genius." It's so simple, even a low information tea partier can understand it.

Last week I received via snail mail a seven page brochure titled, "A Road Map for America's Future" from Congressman Paul Ryan's office. Excerpts:

(Road Map on Social Security) Makes the program permanently solvent, according to the CBO...

Makes Medicare permanently solvent, based on CBO estimates and consultation...

I asked the CBO what our tax rates would have to be when my three children are my age....The answer was shocking.

The charts ... were prepared using data from the CBO and GAO and reflect the country's dire fiscal situation.
During an interview in March on The Mark Levin Show, Ryan had little respect for CBO estimates when Democrats' drew on them for health care reform.
DirectorBlue Blog Excerpt:

Ryan: That's right. And the Congressional Budget Office can't tell you this. Because their statute is that they estimate whatever you put in front of them. And if you put in front of them garbage in, you'll get garbage out.

If you put in front of them a manipulated bill and all of the smoke and mirrors, they have no choice but to score the bill as you wrote it. And if you write it intentionally to disguise all of this, then you'll get a disguised estimate, and that's what we have here.

One man's garbage is another man's treasure. Unless you're a republican. Then it's basically all one category.

Email to your favorite conservative crackpot.

SC Governors Race Skips Jobs Problems, Questions Candidates Religion.

Jobs, jobs, jobs! The SC governors race probably reflects the major concerns of most voters in America this upcoming election. And at the top of the to-do list is to get people working again…right after Republicans hash out if candidate Nikki Haley is lying about her religious beliefs. Huh? Should it really matter?

Pickens County GOP chairman Phillip Bowers … a supporter of Gresham Barrett emailed Republican activists in South Carolina on Friday questioning whether Nikki Haley, Barrett's opponent in the GOP gubernatorial runoff, is being straightforward about her religious beliefs.

Haley was raised Sikh but became a Methodist at the age of 24.

"Haley can't seem to make up her mind about her faith," Bowers wrote. "There are lots of contradictions to her story. It's not my place to question her faith, but I do question her honesty. If anyone finds the truth, please let me know." He concluded: "Again, I'm not questioning her faith, but I absolutely can't stand a liar."
And this is an inner party primary fight. So much for jobs and their state budget crisis.

By design the GOBP is easily sidetracked with emotional wedge issues like religion, in a country where freedom of religion is a constitutional guarantee. Oh well, so much for the idea of a "constitutional republic," a promotional concept marketed by Republican focus groups. The word "constitutional" eliminates the historically accurate word "democratic," used by our founding fathers at the time, because it reminds people of the Democratic Party. Nothing partisan or wrong with that idea, right?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Constitutional Right Wing Propaganda Push in our Schools!

Remember when Obama was accused of trying to brainwash children in schools with a video taped message beamed in all over the country? You're also probably aware of David Horowitz's demonization of higher education as bastions of liberalism. Idiotic, paranoid lies that play well to the fears of fellow conservatives. But did you know that conservative "free market" and "strict constitutionalists" propaganda is making its way into our schools, without one word of acknowledgement? Jenine Turner is a former TV star turned constitutional scholar and propagandist, politicizing our schools with extremist one sided portrayals of our founding fathers and constitutional meaning.

I've also added TV libertarian John Stossell below with his own, believe it or not, school material pushing free market, small government, Great Recession causing voodoo economics. Pure political clap trap. And your kids are getting exposed to it, in our schools.

Belows promotional clip pushing "Constituting America," proves how easy it is to get kids to squawk like a low information, tea party protesters.

TV personality John Stossell's "Stossell in the Classroom" spreads the word of Milton Freidman to our children, who will soon be chanting, "not with my money." Pure propaganda.

I am excited to offer you high-quality classroom materials that teachers say bring lesson plans to life, encouraging students to think and participate, while serving your curriculum requirements. More than 140,000 teachers have made STOSSEL IN THE CLASSROOM an ongoing part of their lesson plans. Teachers are enthusiastic, as you can see from our "teacher testimonials."

"I find Mr. Stossel's programs informative and challenging for my students. They love them and we all like the emphasis on current events." Diana Hodges

"I have just started using John Stossel's videos in my classroom. I love the material so far! Just thrilled to see a major network and journalist take an interest in the workforce of tomorrow. Thank you!!" Denise Parker

"It is valuable to have resources from known and reputable media personalities. Student can identify with them." Clark Hoss

"I use these videos to show during our FOCUS time each day. It lasts for 15 minutes an my kids and I discuss things like global warming. I am starting to think that my kids get more out of my FOCUS time in the morning than they do for my math and science classes later in the day." Chad Gorton

I hope to get a list of the schools pushing conservative quackery on our unsuspecting kids, soon. Funny how these courses don't seem to present "both sides" of the story, isn't it?

Arizona Campaign Law Unfair to Big Business and Millionaire Candidates. Thank You Justice John Roberts, for stepping in.

A bare naked power grab by the high court. Matching campaign funding may infringe on the right of big business to spend without limit, knowing their political opponent might be able to get public funding to level the playing field.

How unfair is that to "free speech means money" advocates, like the activist on the Roberts Supreme Court... of lawmaking. Rachel Maddow noticed, as usual: