You Don’t Need No Education

A Edumacated Consumer

Hoo needz skool?

If you read the news at all, you’re aware of the tremendous push for the total dismantling of public education in America.  Unions have been on the endangered species list ever since Reagan ousted the PATCO workers, so the recent attacks on Teachers‘ Unions were predictable, even inevitable, and a totally necessary step for industrialists who want to close down American society.

The major media outlets are already spoken for.  The Big Six, General Electric, The Walt Disney Company, News Corporation, TimeWarner, Viacom, and CBS collectively earned about $276 billion in 2009 (http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart/main).  Their holdings include NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, CNN, MTV, Showtime, Comedy Central, HBO, FX, ESPN, MSNBC, A&E, National Geographic, the Cartoon Network, Paramount Pictures, Simon & Schuster, BET, MapQuest, The Wall Street Journal, Miramax, and the Sci-Fi channel.  In addition, Comcast, the country’s largest cable provider, owns a majority share of NBC-Universal, one of many clear conflicts of interest in these ownerships.

In short, six huge conglomerates control almost all the information flow to American citizens, be it through television, movies, or the internet.  If they don’t want to tell you about it, it never happened.  If a five-year-old gets decapitated on Space Mountain, you can be pretty sure ABC news won’t be giving the death much coverage, even if it’s a pretty little rich white girl, because they’d be ratting on their parent company.  Likewise, NBC won’t be sharing much info about the various wars we’re mired in because wars are, well, depressing, and if the good folks of America start associating wars with sadness and woe and dead Americans (like we did during Viet Nam) then NBC’s parent company, General Electric, one of the largest weapons manufacturers in the world, might not be able to move as much product.

The central scrutinizers, the purveyors of the perversely named “No Child Left Behind” scam are corporatists to the core.  They have as much interest in truly educating our children as Rush has in encouraging Black people to vote.  Their heartless disregard for the socio-economic status of children attending “underperforming” schools can be best understood by this passage from Wikipedia:

If the school’s results are repeatedly poor, then a series of steps are taken to improve the school. Schools that miss AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) for a second consecutive year are publicly labeled as being “in need of improvement” and are required to develop a two-year improvement plan for the subject that the school is not teaching well. Students are given the option to transfer to a better school within the school district, if any exists. Missing AYP in the third year forces the school to offer free tutoring and other supplemental education services to struggling students. If a school misses its AYP target for a fourth consecutive year, the school is labeled as requiring “corrective action,” which might involve actions like the wholesale replacement of staff, introduction of a new curriculum, or extending the amount of time students spend in class. The fifth year of failure results in planning to restructure the entire school; the plan is implemented if the school fails to hit its AYP targets for the sixth year in a row. Common options include closing the school, turning the school into a charter school, hiring a private company to run the school, or asking the state office of education to directly run the school. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act

So how does the current attack on those charged with educating America’s children fit into all this?  If enough quality teachers are driven out of the teaching profession and/or are discouraged to enter it in the first place, all this demented screeching about the deterioration of our educational institutions will become fact.  How many young, bright persons do you think will be willing to spend their lives being intensely scrutinized every working day, in some cases by people with little or no educational training, or by people whose main concern is making little kids bubble in the right circles on standardized tests?  Will  a number of dedicated individuals with a real love for teaching and desire to build better children still choose to brave this idiocy and enter the teaching profession anyway? Sure, but their numbers will doubtless diminish in the face of the relentless drumbeat of vouchers and mayoral academies and charter schools and privatization and ultimate corporatization of our public school systems.  Similarly, experienced teachers who are nearing the end of their careers are much less likely to stay on a few extra years and risk their retirement money being stolen by pressure from illiterate Teabaggers screaming about spending cuts.  It’s also insulting to be told, after thirty years of successful teaching, that your methods are suspect and need to be constantly improved so the pinheads in charge can crow about higher test scores.  Why is it that senior partners in law firms are respected, even revered, but experienced teachers are just old?

Once all the bright, motivated teachers have been eliminated from the workforce, it will be relatively easy to install classroom managers whose main duties will be controlling the Great Beast (that’s us, by the way http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Chomsky/Imperial_Presidency.html) and teaching to the test.  No more joy of learning, no more spirited inquiry, no time for anything but the test-driven curriculum.  A corporate orgy of bland uniformity.

The inexorable death march to privatization is built into NCLB.  Towns and neighborhoods with high poverty rates tend to perform more poorly than their affluent cousins.  Students of color tend to be less affluent than white people.  They also tend to do less well on standardized tests.  To deny the correlation between these two facts is ignorant at best, and arguably racist.  The poor can’t possibly compete, financially or otherwise, with the Scarsdales, the Barringtons, the Chevy Chases, the Bloomfield Hills of America (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highest-income_places_in_the_United_States), and so will eventually become wards of privatized, state-runs prison schools.  Yowsah Massah.

Once all the teachers are homogenized, and the schools are privatized, then the children can be lobotomized.  The control of information to American citizens will be completely in the hands of a few, huge corporations, and history can be remodeled to suit their needs.  It’s already happening in Texas, where history texts are being rewritten to claim, among other things, that Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln were of equal historical importance, that the separation of church and state wasn’t really in the Constitution, and that Communist spies infiltrated the United States’ government during the Cold War.  Demonstrable nonsense all, yet once the schools are in corporate hands there will be no one to dispute this nonsense after a decade or so, because it will be documented “fact”.  Orwell was right on the money with this one.  Hi ho, hi ho, down the memory hole we go.  The Teabaggers, the Rapturists, the Birthers, and every other drooling wingnut lunatic will have historical “proof”, as well as Gawd, on their side.  The tracks will have been covered.  The descent of the American populace into total ignorance will be complete, and the Neocons will be able to feed us any crap they want because there will be no evidence left to refute their lies.

And no one left to care, because we’ll still have American Idol soma to suck on.  We’ll be happy, which is really all that matters.

Right, morans?

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But They Can’t Afford to Create Jobs . . .

2 Lil' Piggies

1)      Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009.  Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings.

2)      Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion.

3)      Over the past five years, while General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States, it received a $4.1 billion refund from the IRS.

4)      Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009.

5)      Boeing, which received a $30 billion contract from the Pentagon to build 179 airborne tankers, got a $124 million refund from the IRS last year.

6)      Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over the past three years, it received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction.

7)      Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an almost $800 billion from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department.

8)      Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes. It received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury.

9)      ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2007 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction.

10)  Over the past five years, Carnival Cruise Lines made more than $11 billion in profits, but its federal income tax rate during those years was just 1.1 percent.

Frank Zappa on Larry King Live August 13, 1985

Zappa testifies before the US Senate, 1985

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Frank Zappa on Larry King Live August 13, 1985 Part 1

Frank Zappa on Larry King Live August 13, 1985 Part 2

He had the current Right Wing takeover pegged twenty-five years ago . . .

Dumb All Over – Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention

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Dumb All Over – Frank Zappa

Needs no explanation.  Cuz we iz.

Social Nitwitting

The Brady Bunch opening grid, season one

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About a half an hour ago I canceled my Google+ account.  I used to be on Facebook too, for about a half an hour, until I realized that almost all the people I had “friended”, people with whom I had common interests and shared passions (when I still had passion), were people I did not actually know.  The same pattern was developing on Google’s version of “let’s all say nothing together”, but I decided to club it in the head before it could grow any uglier.

My “in the flesh” friends are not at all interested in the fact that we are rapidly descending into a third-world feudal corporatocracy, and their fascination with social networking is a little too frivolous and depressing for my taste. It’s hard for me to get excited about what kind of pancakes someone had for dinner while a fifth of American children are living in poverty and no one wants to even talk about it. In fact, I often find myself being loudly ignored and sometimes politely shunned for even bringing up such unpleasantries during nap time, which clearly is most of the time for many Americans.

These lame-brained social networking sites are as much to blame for turning America into a nation of idiots than anything else. Google, for example, prides itself on not “being evil” while they rake in billions and look the other way as .1 percent of the country turns the rest of us into slaves.  They have the means to inform millions of Americans precisely what’s being done to them and they refuse to do so.  That’s evil.

Facebook is another abomination, and could claim to be the original, online social time-waster if not for MySpace, which has, thankfully, been relegated to the internet discount rack.  Never have I encountered so many vapid, word-filled pages.  It’s like packing peanuts for the mind.  Whether it’s people’s television favorites, their favorite recipes, their favorite sports heroes, their favorite favorites, top ten lists an infinitum, what their kid excreted last night and how much, which Brady Bunch kid is the cutest, the similarity between characters on The Love Boat and characters on Gilligan’s Island, the disease of America is there for all to see, three thousand miles wide and a quarter inch deep.  It’s like a worldwide game of tag where everybody is “it”.  And about as pointless.

Just for yucks I tried Twitter too.  Oh, my sweet freakin’ lord. If Facebook dwells on useless minutia, Twitter elevates it to celebrity status and worships it like a golden poodle.

The following are actual Tweets I found on various websites.  So help me Gawd.

“I really want a baby duck, but I don’t know if I could have it in my apartment. maybe Ill get a fish, or a lightning bug. whatcha think?”

“We’re gonna revolutionize Sunday mornings y’all!”

“No, no, I didn’t go to England; I went to London”

“my new obsession is animal crackers nom nom.”

“hes not that into you because you smell like fish”

“Why is that people always try to understand estimate my intelligents?! They should never do that!”

“I’ve got a coffee stain on my new pants and I’m SOOOO upset about it.” (OK, that one I made up)

“I just took “what part of ur body will justin bieber see first?” and got: your smile!”

“Awww our sigeps made us dindin<3”

“poop i normal outside. i want it to rain, hard”

“Selena Marie Gomez. A girl who taught me to be myself. She’s a true role model. I love her. ;)”

I could go on, for days, but I just ate.  I’d recommend mercy lobotomies for these Twitterazzi droids, but apparently someone beat me to it.

Have we always been this shallow? Was there ever a time in America when people weren’t completely consumed by useless conversations, useless celebrities, and even more useless factoids?  Did we ever, as a society, concern ourselves with actual issues rather than the latest episode of Desperate Housewives or which body parts to display when ogled by a pubescent singer? Am I just a cranky, maladjusted curmudgeon because I find mindless internet babble irritating and depressing?  Am I being unreasonable to expect human beings to crave their own evolution rather than feast on junk trivia?

IDK. ROFLOL!!! TTYL

Smart New Boss, Same as the Old Dumb Boss

In January 2009, President of the United State...

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There’s really not much difference between Obama and Bush, policywise.  Barack, unlike his predecessor, can put cogent sentences together without help from a scriptwriter (or a Special Ed teacher), which is nice, and he’s got a lovely family, but aside from his personal charm there is little difference between his style of violent, middle-class colon cleansing and that of the disgusting little fake Texan from Connecticut.  We are still being surveilled, but more so, we are still in Guantanamo, and Iraq, and Afghanistan, and now he’s also gotten us into Libya and Syria. And those are just the wars we KNOW of.  The CIA torturers Barry exonerated are likely at work, as you read this, stirring up their special brand of imperialist mischief in whichever third world country we’ve yet to exploit fully.  There is still no universal health care, or even the Public Option he promised during his eloquent presidential campaign.  Obama gave trillions to his rich buddies, just like Bush did, and did absolutely nothing while people lost their homes. He hasn’t done anything to prosecute the Banksters responsible for the foreclosures, and in fact has stood around speechifying while they shower themselves in billion-dollar bonuses and bask in the Bush tax breaks Mr. Obama refused to let expire. Not only did he let British Petroleum slide when they killed eleven men and destroyed the economy and ecology of the Gulf of Mexico, he’s allowing them to renege on their promised damage payments.  He has also just OK’d Shell Oil drilling in the Arctic, without even bothering to oversee their drilling plans.  Obama is STILL pushing nuclear power, even after Fukushima.  In short, Barack Obama is Bush Dark, another wholly owned corporate lackey who does as he is told whenever they tell him to do it.

Did he inherit a huge, steaming pile of about-to-collapse economy and illegal invasion?  Yes he did.  And he’s done exactly nothing to fix any of those problems except in token, ineffective ways.  Bending over to please a bunch of Neo-Fascist Republicans in the name of “bipartisan cooperation” is useless and cowardly. It’s on a par with Pelosi declaring impeachment “off the table”.  Any of you “Progressives” out there who still think Obama is on your side need to pop your head out of your sphincter and realize he never was.  You should have realized that as soon as he was declared a “top tier” candidate.  No one gets there without the approval of the Big Boys. Progressives like Kucinich and Gravel get ridiculed and dismissed early in the phony dog-and-pony show that is our election process. Every one of the men or women left standing is a corporate shill, you can take it to the bank. Their bank, very likely, because they own most of them.

Palin couldn’t possibly be that much worse, and that “deer in the headlights” expression whenever anyone asks her a non-scripted question is priceless.  I say bring’ er on.  She really can’t fuck things up much worse than they already are, and besides, Tina Fey could entertain us all with at least another four years of comedy gold as she mines Sarah’s boo boos. And all of John McCain‘s friends could pound their walkers while they stare at them.

Bachmann is a riot too.  I’d love to see the confusion and panic in those wildly unfocused eyes when the corporatists who really run this place give her her marching orders.  I wonder if she’ll be submissive.

Perry strikes me as Bush with better hair. He wears his sleaziness like a badge of honor, and his stolen election will probably get this whole end-of-the-empire thing moving much, much quicker. If we’re REALLY lucky, he’ll follow through with his plan to have Texas secede from the Union and we can start printing school textbooks that are reality based once again.  Then Crawford will no longer be part of the United States and then the World Court can extradite Bush and try him for war crimes since the CIA won’t be protecting him anymore!

But hey, I’m a dreamer . . .

All three of these corporate stooges believe that the world was created in seven days, and that climate change is a natural occurrence which has nothing whatsoever to do with all the carbon we’ve been crapping into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, and that Evolution is a theory that should be taught alongside Creationism in Science class.  They also think Armageddon is a really swell idea and have no real problem with the world ending.

But they’re perfectly sane, apparently, and you’d be a libelous fool to state anything different.  Professor Irwin Corey and Pat Paulsen are looking better every day.

We American citizens used to be treated with dignity, regardless of our social or economic status (as long as we were White, of course), and I used to be proud of the fact that we shared that sense of personal dignity with other countries.  We don’t have any dignity anymore, because we have adapted to being treated like garbage by the men who own us.  The fact that we justify this mistreatment of human beings in any way tells me we don’t have a very high opinion of ourselves, but we revel in it, through our love of war and capital punishment and UFC.

In 2012, we have the choice of voting for an eloquent, cowardly Corporatist or any one of several other, demonstrably wacky Corporatists, yet we continue to la la la along like everything is fine, while unemployment rises, a few more trillion are hoarded by those who pay no taxes, and our infrastructure collapses around our ears, but we can’t hear it because we’re wearing iPods.

We deserve everything that’s going to happen to us.

History is Knocking

United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., east ...

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By Margaret Flowers – Posted on 04 June 2011

By Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers, Tarak Kauff, and Elaine Brower

There comes a time when efforts to avoid the truth begin to fail, when one can no longer go about daily life and pretend that all is okay. If you are like most of us, you are experiencing this.

There comes a time when one can no longer shut out the atrocities of U.S. foreign and military policy: trade agreements that destroy farming; mass unemployment; especially among communities of color; illegal detention and torture; increasing drone attacks resulting in mass civilian deaths; and once again a President who lies the United States into another war for oil and bankers.

A time comes when one can no longer close one’s eyes to the atrocities of a U.S. domestic policy that steals from the people to add to the already hideously bursting pockets of the wealthy, that kicks people out of their homes, denies needed medical treatment and drives families into bankruptcy so that CEOs can dine on gold-lined plates in their personal jets as they travel from gated mansions to leather seats in penthouse offices.

A time comes when one cannot help but realize that the path is unsustainable and one must make a choice. History is knocking, and each of us must choose how we will answer. What do you want to say you did when history was at your door?

History is not a fairy tale you read to your children at night. It is not something someone else did in another place. History is right here and right now, in front of you. It happens before you realize what is going on. There are events that give hints, but nobody knows when the dam will burst and the flood that gushes forth will wipe clean what has gone before and create a new reality.

When the tipping point is reached, it seems at once both unexpected and completely obvious. We are nearing that tipping point in the United States. We have witnessed the Arab Spring and the blossoming of the European Summer. We ask ourselves if now we will experience the American Autumn.

People in America see that corporate power controls the political process and the media. The Forces of Greed steal our treasure and squander it on militarism and needless wars for empire. Forces of Greed render our White House, Congress and Supreme Court dysfunctional so that the denizens of these bodies regurgitate what their corporate paymasters feed them.

Our country faces crises on every front: the economy, education, jobs, the environment, health care, housing, the wealth divide, an empire stretched too thin and ready to shred. None of these crises has to exist. Just and sustainable solutions are available and known. What stands in the way of all these solutions is concentrated corporate power.

Corporatism is behind the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan in which thousands, including our own soldiers, but mostly innocent civilians—men, women and children—are maimed and killed.

Corporatism ignores majority support for improved Medicare for all and instead hands billions to the medical-industrial complex while tens of thousands suffer and die from preventable causes each year.

Corporatism prevents effective regulation of the finance industry, stands in the way of a more sustainable energy economy, resists real job creation and is at the root of the foreclosure crisis, while more families find themselves on the street with nothing.

Corporatism blocks effective action to decrease the known causes of climate chaos while the Arctic Cap melts and tornadoes rampage; some face record droughts while others face high-level flooding.

Corporatism exploits human beings and the planet for profit.

Somehow we need to realize that the situation has gone beyond critical and there is no alternative but to act and resist with resolve. Every day the runaway corporate machine moves closer to the precipice; every day, thousands more children needlessly starve or die from wars or disease. Every day, the earth itself is being raped, and all this death and destruction, for what? Bloody offerings at the altar of the god of profit! It has to stop and people of conscience and courage are the ones with the collective power to stop it.

None of us can do this alone. Even the organizations that advocate just and sustainable solutions cannot do it alone. Corporate power is tremendous. It misinforms, frightens and divides us. Our strength is in unity, in the connection that we share: our desire for a world in which humans can trust each other, can work together to create real solutions instead of hating and killing each other.

We are seeing the beauty of this unity in other parts of the world and at home. Across the country there is evidence of citizen revolt. Most only see the big demonstrations—Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, the immigrant marches—but in fact, people in America are consistently in protest against austerity budgets, big business tax avoidance, rising tuition, cuts to education, foreclosures, insurance-based health care and the ongoing wars. On issue after issue there is evidence of people in revolt.

Now is the time to join together and unite our struggles in sustained acts of nonviolent resistance. Democracy literally means people power. Concentrated corporate capital and influence has changed the United States into a faux democracy where Americans only get to choose from two corporate-approved candidates, funded by millions in corporate donations.

The normal tools of democracy no longer work.

October 6 is the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion, and the beginning of the new federal budget year—an austerity budget for everything except for war and the corporate security state. On this day, we are calling for sustained and nonviolent mass resistance in Washington, D.C. The action, Stop the Machine! Create a New World!, portends an American Tahrir Square at Freedom Plaza between the White House and Congress, a block away from the National Press Club and a few blocks from the Chamber of Commerce and K Street, the stomping ground of corporate lobbyists.

An impressive array of people have already signed on. Among them: Ann Wright, Baldemar Velasquez, Ben Manski, Brian Becker, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Chris Hedges, Cornel West, David Swanson, Debra Sweet, Diane Wilson, Glen Ford, Jane Hamsher, Jodie Evans, Leah Bolger, Medea Benjamin, Mike Ferner, Larry Pinkney, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Rosa Clemente, Steffie Woolhandler, Ted Rall, The YES Men.

We know however, that it is not leaders who make change, but people united who insist on change that will succeed!

We are at a turning point. History is knocking. It is time for each of us to decide whether we can remain silent and thus allow the destruction of our planet or join in solidarity to create the future we envision of peace, justice and equality.

Here are three steps you can take right now to create the momentum that leads to a historical breakthrough:

1. Sign the pledge at www.October2011.org and say why you’re coming.

2. Spread the word by forwarding this newsletter to everyone you know, posting www.October2011.org on your Facebook page and sending it out on Twitter.

3. Reach out to organizations that should be involved and tell them to join the campaign.

It is time to turn the Arab Spring into the American Autumn and begin a movement to remove corporate power and militarism from control of our government.

Ending corporatism and militarism is the transformative issue of our era.
You can be part of a great moment in history—don’t miss the opportunity, answer the call.

Questions? Info@October2011.org.

Kevin Zeese is an attorney with ItsOurEconomy.US and ComeHomeAmerica.US; Margaret Flowers is a pediatrician who advocates single-payer health care with Physicians for National Health Program and Health Care Now; Tarak Kauff leads the Veterans For Peace direct action program; Elaine Brower is a military mom and a leader of World Can’t Wait.