Thursday, March 14, 2013

TN Republicans Will Need Chiropractor to Put Them Back in Line After These Political Contortions

Hypocrite? Who, me?  Republicans take Opposite Side of Their Usual Table-Pounding Points for Larger Agenda

Once this session of the Tennessee legislature is over, many Republicans will need to see a chiropractor. 
The state's majority party members will need to be re-aligned, because they are turning into hypocrite pretzels as they twist and contort their usual talking points into legislation that fits a larger agenda.
Causing these awkward positions are the new charter schools panel bill and the vouchers-for-private school bill, which are moving right along through House and Senate committees.

Obama's "Disappearing Act"

Illustration by Mr. Fish
"If we lose in Hedges v. Obama—and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court—electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast." ---Chris Hedges

Since President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act on New Year's Eve, 2011---did they think people might be partying too much to notice?---and drone strikes have accelerated, Attorney General Eric Holder has said the commander in chief is on sound legal ground if he chooses to use drones to kill American citizens in the U.S.

Hedges v. Obama is a lawsuit to overturn the unconstitutional NDAA, which would allow the military to pick up and detain "indefinitely" any American citizens whom they believed "substantially support" al-Quaida, the Taliban or their "associated forces" without due process, without being charged and without a trial.  Those vague terms could include journalists or basically anyone who, upon the military's or a President's whim, could be "disappeared."

As a former copy editor, I cringe at the use of "disappear" as a transitive verb.  But, if language follows popular usage, it is fitting to say, as does Nashville city council member Fabian Bedne, that the government "disappeared my brother" in Argentina before he left his native country for the United States.

So, basically, anyone who speaks out against the current regime or military in the U.S., could be "disappeared."

Reporter Chris Hedges along with Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsburg and other patriots sued Obama and the secretary of defense.  A federal court judge agreed with them that the law is unconstitutional.  Pentagon lawyers broke their necks to get in court and "stay" the law---leave it in place until the next level of appeal could be heard.  The appeal was argued last month in a federal appeals court, but a ruling has not come down yet.  This will go to the Supreme Court, eventually.

Click for the story in which  Hedges updates things after the appeals court hearing.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Williamson County Home Values Would Drop if Charter and Voucher Schools are Voted In, Says School Superintendent

This is just one potential negative side effect to opening the state of Tennessee up to the "education reform" carpetbaggers, who have spent about $2 million to influence state legislators.  Williamson County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney lays it out in this video.

Instead of investing in improving our existing public schools, which stabilize neighborhoods and give us community, this radical agenda would take taxpayers' money away from public schools and give it to unproven charter and voucher schools---the voucher schools will be private, independent schools, and in other states where this is allowed, more than 80% of those publicly funded schools are backed by one religion or another, and the rest of them are simply independent, which includes corporate, for-profit schools.  The charters and vouchers can operate almost in Wild West fashion with extremely little oversight and accountability when compared to public school standards.

Taxes will have to go up, and education will be more expensive with the education task splintered among many diverse entities, which will be duplicating services across the board. 

Tennessee's first mad rush to privatize education was to hustle in place a Virginia-based corporation, K12Inc., to provide an online school known as Tennessee Virtual Academy, which siphons about $16 million a year out of Tennessee.  That money will not pay Tennessee teachers, bus drivers, janitors and other supporting services.  However, K12Inc.'s CEO made $3.94 million last year.  We could have bought a lot of laptops, books, all kinds of stuff if we had that and not them. K12's education quality record,  however, is among the worst if not the worst in the state.  Somehow, that has not slowed down the big money movement that has compromised TN legislators who are willing to carry the ball for them.