Saturday, August 23, 2008

Attacking GOP/McCain Smears Part I

Crossposted at MyDD
We would be addressing each of the possible smears that GOP/McCain/Bush attack machine are likely to use against Obama/Biden ticket. The objective is to research and get to the truth so our answers are ready to hit back GOP smear machine's falsehoods.

GOP supposedly have started a weblog tracking Biden so called gaffes. This diary tracks one of Biden comments about the Indian community that had been twisted and is likely to be used to attack him. In various forms (which are alive in Youtube and other host sites) this video has been used to falsely smear Biden as a racist.

In reality nothing can be further from the truth. TimesofIndia, one of India's foremost English newspaper, decided to address this smear head on.

In a 2006 campaign appearance, when he was still in contention for the presidential ticket, Biden, boasting about his strong relationship with Indian-Americans in his state, said ''You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.''The remark was misconstrued as being politically incorrect, but Biden quickly put it in perspective saying it was meant to demonstrate his ''incredibly strong'' relationship with Indian-American.

''I was making the point that up until now in my state, we've had a strong Indian community made up of leading scientists and researchers and engineers,'' Biden explained later. ''We're having middle-class people move to Delaware, take over Dunkin' Donuts, take over businesses, just like other immigrant groups have, and I was saying that ... they're growing, it's moving.''

''I could have said that 40 years ago about walking into a delicatessen and hearing an Italian accent in my state,'' he added.

The facts are that Indian-American community in the mid-Atlantic and NorthEast region has a strong relationship of respect and friendship with Biden. Biden in his comments was actually making the point about his closeness to the Indian American community. The community had continued to enthusiastically support Biden in his political life including his current selection as the VP nominee by Obama.

Most Indian-Americans in Delaware, where indeed there has been a boom in small business growth by the community, did not take Biden’s remark amiss. Many of them, especially those involved in businesses relating to motels, liquor stores, and gas stations, are Biden supporters and contributors who have held fund-raisers for him and reeled him into events like the local Navratri garba hosted by the Gujarati community.

''He’s a great guy, very experienced. We love him,'' Pravin Patel, president of the Delaware Asian-American Business Association, said on Saturday after news broke of Biden's selection. ''He will be good for U.S-India relations.'' Patel said he and his associates celebrated the e-mail announcement at 3 a.m.

Please get the message out.

Get Your Obama/Biden T-shirt

I just received the following email from the Obama campaign:

[Psychodrew] --

Barack Obama and Joe Biden just made their first public appearance as running mates at a rally in Springfield, Illinois.

They are the leaders who will bring the change our country needs. But they can't do it alone.

Show your support for the Obama-Biden ticket today. Make a donation of $30 or more and you will receive a first edition Obama-Biden T-shirt.

We've got our team. But we've also got our work cut out for us.

Your gift will be crucial to preparing this campaign for the general election.

Make a donation of $30 or more and be one of the first to show your support with an Obama-Biden T-shirt:

Thank you for everything you're doing to build this movement for change,

Obama for America


CA-04: C4O Spotlights Lt. Col Charlie Brown (USAF-Ret)

(Proudly Cross-Posted at ComputerQueen.Net and MyDD)

I'm just pleased as punch to have been asked to do another blog about Lt. Col. Brown.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I know this will prove to be a tough race. The PVI of the district is R+11, and the GOP is running a carpet bagger from the 19th State Senate district (Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties). It appears they have to transplant someone with a pulse to take over for Doolittle, whom chose not to run again after the scandals of the past year.

The newest polling data I could find was from May, where Brown was 2 points up.

The following is a taste of his issue profile:

On Health Care:
45 Million Americans lack access to health insurance, and the number is growing. Charlie believes increasing access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans is a moral and fiscal imperative. Charlie strongly supports the expansion of SCHIP, to ensure all children have access to affordable care. He also supports the concept of Universal Health care and will lead the fight for a new, constructive dialogue to solve America's health care crisis in the next Congress.

2 Words: Right On!

On Homeland Security:
It is appalling that 5 years after 9/11, the U.S. Government still hasn't implemented most of the 9/11 commission's recommendations.

Charlie believes we must immediately secure our borders, implement a national railway, port, and transit security plan, end the practice of using DHS funding for pork barrel spending that doesn't address legitimate security threats, address the communication and interoperability problems that continue to plague intelligence and emergency response operations, adequately fund FEMA and restore it to a Cabinet level post.

I don't even have to bother spinning this one!

On Iraq
Having coordinated surveillance flights over Iraq in the 1990's, Charlie did not support the U.S. invasion because he knew there were no WMD's present, that an invasion could unleash centuries old sectarian conflicts inside Iraq, and leave fewer American military resources available to defeat the enemy who attacked America on 9/11--Al Qaeda.

Despite under-manning, under-equipping, bad intelligence and naive post-war planning by politicians in Washington, America's military has toppled a terrible dictator in Iraq. But as General Patreus himself has said, our troops can only create the space for Iraq's newly elected politicians to reconcile the political differences that have fomented sectarian violence and civil war. Ultimately, Iraq needs a political solution, not a military one. And America can't defeat global terrorism by transforming the world's finest military force into the Baghdad police force.

Charlie believes accountability is the key to getting our troops home quickly and responsibly---tying future U.S. aid to the achievement of key political benchmarks by Iraq's elected leaders. Together with limited counterterrorism operations, training of Iraqi Security forces and accelerated reconstruction efforts, only real results from Iraq's politicians can expedite the process of political reconciliation Iraq needs to create a permanent stable government that can sustain itself and defend its own borders. Ultimately, open ended promises of money and troops by our government provide little incentive for Iraqi politicians to take action and ownership of their nation's future.

Ultimately, re-deploying US Troops out of Iraq will enable the United States to refocus on the real front lines against terrorism-fighting the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, strengthening our strategic alliances, improving intelligence gathering, expanding special operations capabilities, and giving our troops more time here at home- so they can be rested, trained, properly equipped and ready for quick deployment against terrorist concentrations or any other threats to America.

Col. Brown has show his willingness to speak truth to power. He was a vocal opponent of the Iraq War … not because it was the politically expedient thing to do, but because it was the RIGHT thing to do.

So this brings me to my support of Col. Brown. He already had a good showing in 2006, running against Doolittle, only losing by just over 3 points. The district has grown since then, and a lot more progressives have moved into the mountain regions of the Northern Sierra Nevada range. With all this motion, we have the best chance we’ve had in 20 years to take back the CA 4th.

On our commitment to Veterans, Col. Brown is setting aside 5% of his fundraising to assist with Veterans charities. Having a Father who is a Vietnam Vet, this is something that is very moving for me. I’d like to see more of our candidates rise to this challenge and help those who have fought for our freedoms.

Charlie Brown also understands the need for retail politics in a rural district, such as the 4th. From appearances at 4th of July Celebrations, to fundraisers at a Vineyard in Penn Valley (which is where I got to meet him … my friend’s parents own the vineyard), he is no stranger to the Grip-N-Grin. When people contribute to his campaign, he sends them a Hand Signed letter of thanks. That is something that is all too rare in today’s politics.

So, please join with the Clintonistas for Obama team as we support Our Progressive C4O All Stars.

As always, Just my 2 Cents!


Obama-Biden '08 for a Better America

(Proudly cross-posted at Clark COmmunity Network & Democratic PartyBuilder)

"This may be our last chance to reclaim the America we love, to restore the America we know." - Joe Biden, Our Next Vice President

Like everyone else around here, I was paying close attention to the very first Obama-Biden joint campaign appearance today. I wanted to see what Biden would say.

And I must admit that I was impressed with what Obama said today...

As well as what Biden said...

Was this ticket my first pick? Obviously not. But am I ready to work like hell to ensure the Obama-Biden ticket is the winning ticket this fall? You bet I will!

Why? I don't want another elitist celebrity Rethuglican in the White House. He may sound like a good ol' all-American regular guy, but John McCain isn't...

No really. He isn't. Take a look.

We can't afford another four years of this nonsense. We don't need another four years of Bush-Cheney madness. We need change we can believe in, not more of the same unbelievable right-wing extremism that hurts working families.

We need leaders like Barack Obama. We need leaders like Joe Biden. We need change that works for working people. We need change that helps rebuild all the wonderful things about this nation that Bush has broken. We need Obama & Biden in the White House to clean house and restore America's greatness.

So if you can, please join us in supporting Obama-Biden '08. We must stand together now if we want to win this year. We must support our Democratic team now. I hope we'll all be working together now to make real change happen. :-)

Sen. Biden: "He's clean, articulate..."

(Cross-posted at MyDD)

With Sen. Obama's choice of Joe Biden for the VP slot (which I support 100%), we're sure to hear plenty about Biden's penchant for gaffes, most notably his poorly-phrased attempt last fall to compliment Obama by calling him "clean," "articulate," and so forth.

Because we're going to hear about that line again and again, I thought it was worth reminding folks of how this issue was addressed during the primary debates, in what I thought was one of the better moments of the election season.

If you don't recall this moment, it's worth watching the video, particularly Sen. Obama's statement at the end.

My bottom line is that there was no available VP pick who would not have presented some sort of "gotcha" opportunity for the GOP to snicker about, but at the end of the day I don't think that's what concerns voters.  What matters is what the nominee can offer in terms of both winning the election and governing, and I see Sen. Biden as a clearly positive choice on both grounds.

Sorry, He's Still a Liar UPDATED

The backlash against my diary on Will Bower's lies was a little bit stronger than I had anticipated. I have basically been challenged on three points. The first is that Will Bower backed off the $6 million figure to a smaller amount. The second is that some of the money accidentally went into Hillary's senate campaign account. The third is that PUMAs raised "close" to the $6 million, Will Bower's "conservative" estimate on July 10th.

First, here is Will Bower on July 10, 2008.

We at, we started an initiative before the Fourth of July to raise money to put down her debt. And within that week leading up to the Fourth of July we raised approximately $10 million. Our most conservative estimates have it at six million but we're looking more at $10 million. Our sources tell us that the debt is now less than $5 million from being in the black... we believe that by this weekend that Hillary's debt will be finished.

Yesterday, both here and in private communication, I was told that Will Bower had backed off the $6 million number. I requested, but did not receive, any further evidence from those making this argument. I did a Google search with "Will Bower Hillary Clinton debt" and did not come up with any public statement to that effect. I did, however, find this blog post (which has since been deleted) dated July 23rd in which the author claimed to have learned from Will Bower that Hillary's debt had been erased.

Further, in an appearance with Darragh Murphy on Hardball on August 15, 2008, Will Bower sat silent when David Shuster asked Darragh about the $6 million figure (at 6:40).

If anybody can find a retraction or clarification of his July 10 statement, please send it to me and I will post it. I have tried to find it without success and I did not receive a response to my request yesterday. I was referred to a Clinton Campaign Debt FAQ written by a PUMA who regular visits MyDD. This FAQ only raises more questions for me:
Has PUMA been able to pay down Hillary’s campaign debt?

We won’t know the answer to that questions until the campaign files their next monthly report with the FEC on Wednesday, August 20th. If you recall, in early July, the Just Say No Deal coalition kicked off the July 4th/$20.08 fundraiser, which may have raised an estimated $6-10 M according to Will Bower.

The campaign filing for June shows that the campaign received $2.7 M in individual contributions. July’s report will include July 4th/PUMA fund raising donations. Will’s estimate may be accurate.
Note that the FAQ is dated August 7, 2008. However, this same blogger claimed yesterday that Will Bower had revised his numbers in July:
I've explained Will's estimates. He clarified those estimates several times in July on No We Won't/PUMA radio (I will have to find the shows). The revised estimates were blogged (again in July), I will have to find that as well.
If he "clarified" the $6-$10 million estimate in July, why was this PUMA quoting those discredited numbers in August?

The second argument was that some of the donations had gone into Hillary's senate campaign account. In my original diary, a PUMA posted this email, presumably sent by Will Bower to the members of the PUMA movement:
Hello, fellow PUMAs!

Last week, many of you reached into your pockets and generously gave what you could to help pay down Hillary's campaign debt.

However, the main contribution link at had been redirected towards a different account. Instead of going to pay off her debt, it directed contributions towards her 2012 Senatorial campaign.

If you have any doubt as to where your contribution went, you must contact the financial department at and let them know where you had intended it to go!

For them to be legally able to redirect your donation back into her debt fund, you must make your intentions clear to them.

Here are four ways you can contact them, to let your intentions be known. Again, this is only for if you are in doubt. If you are confident that your money went to pay off her debt, then you need not pursue this.

If you are in doubt, please contact (any or all) of the following, and encourage your PUMA contributing friends to do the same: (Jonathan xxxxx)
phone: 703-xxx-xxxx

Thank you, and I hope you had a great holiday weekend!
What I find interesting about this email is that date it was sent out:
This is a copy of the email that Will sent out on July 6th regarding our July 4th/$20.08 fundraiser, which had kicked off a week earlier:
So four days before Will Bower went on national television to announce that the PUMAs were quickly erasing Hillary's debt, he knew that there was a problem with tracking the donations and getting them to the right place. When he went on Fox News, he made NO mention of the change at Hillary's website. Why? He was on a national platform and the ability to reach potential donors who were not on the PUMA mailing list, yet he said nothing.

Let's assume that a lot of money did, in fact, go to Hillary's Senate campaign. I visited the FEC website and reviewed the financial reports for Hillary's Senate campaign. During the 2007-2008 campaign cycle, through June 30, 2008, Hillary's campaign has received a total of $56,013.

Even if we assume that all $56,013 came from PUMA and all of it in June (this is important because the PUMAs are also arguing that the big fundraiser began in late June), this falls quite short. As these reports are filed quarterly (I think), we will have to wait until the end of September for an update. However, when asked about Bower's claims, a spokesperson for Hillary's presidential campaign said the following:
As far as we know, that $10 million is a fallacy. We have not seen that money. It is our understanding that these groups provide links to our website, and there is no way to track which sites those donations come from. We have received no donations from the PAC.
The third argument posed is that the PUMA's raised "close" to $6 million. Here is what one PUMA wrote to me:
Hillary raised close to $3m in June and $2m in July. That's about $5m total. The PUMA fundraising effort raised most of that money between late-June and July 4--in about a week. So the estimate of $6m wasn't that far off. Since her vendor debt is $11m and $5.2m of that is for Mark Penn, the remaining vendor debt is $5.8m and it looks like the PUMA effort paid a lot of that off.
According to Hillary's June and July monthly FEC reports, her campaign raised a total of $2,708,334.94 in June and $1,930,823.83 in July for a total of $4,639,158.77.

If PUMA claims credit for all of those numbers, it still falls well short of $6 million. I would imagine that there are a number of people who would enthusiastically object to the PUMAs taking credit for all $4.6 million of Hillary's money. The Obama campaign claims that its two fundraisers alone pulled in more than $500,000 for Hillary Clinton. That does not include the many unsolicited small donations made by Obama supporters who wanted to reach out to the Clintonistas after Hillary's concession speech. And Hillary has also held her own fundraisers, both public and private these last two months. In addition to contributing to her T-shirt fundraiser in July, I contributed more money in June in response to an email from Hillary, not PUMA. The PUMAs cannot attribute the entire $4.6 million to their July 4th/$20.08 fundraiser and their other explanations do not add up.

As a Hillary Clintonista, I am anxious to see her debt retired so she can get back to work in the Senate and on the campaign trail for Senators Obama and Biden. I appreciate any effort by any group to help retire her debt, but making false claims about phantom donations do not help her in this effort. If Will Bower cannot back up his claims with facts, he needs to stop talking.

For those of you who are interested in donating to Hillary's debt relief, you can follow this direct link to her presidential campaign.

[Updated at 7:00pm (PDT) by psychodrew]

I have known many of the PUMAs for many months, now, dating back to the primary wars when we were still on the same side. I got to know grlpatriot through the forums that the Clinton bloggers used during the primaries. After Hillary's concession, we maintained our friendship, even when some of her PUMA allies got mad at me for supporting Obama and when some of my Obama allies got mad at her for not supporting Obama. I can say with all honestly that grlpatriot is a true believer. She is not a Republican troll or a troublemaker. I believe that she is a person of conviction, even if I do not share those convictions.

In today's diary, I questioned Will Bower's honesty and I will not walk that back. Until he comes up with an explanation for what he has said and done, I stand by my words. But I should not have implied that grlpatriot was dishonest. In the comments and in private communication, she has objected to how I depicted her Clinton Campaign Debt FAQ.

Her position is that Will Bower did back off the $6 million figure in the PUMA radio shows, even if he didn't do so in a more public forum. Even if I did not know grlpatriot to be an honest person, the explanation makes sense. If Will Bower hadn't provided his own people with an explanation, there probably would have been an internal coup.

She also maintains that the Clinton Campaign Debt FAQ was written independently of Will Bower and she used the $6-$10 million figure because nobody was sure how much money had been raised and she (personally) believed it was possible that they could have reached that figure. Again, I am taking grlpatriot at her word on this point because I believe she is an honest person.

Finally, grlpatriot has pointed out that they are not professional political operatives, so they should be expected to make mistakes. Fair enough, rookies make mistakes, but that does not account for why Will Bower has not taken an opportunity to clarify his misleading statements on Hillary's debt. He's had numerous opportunities. Frankly, I think that political operatives, as they become more experienced, learn how to avoid saying "I was wrong."

In the end, I should not have implied that grlpatriot was being dishonest, especially without having spoken to her first, and for that, I apologize. However, I stand by my criticism of Will Bower. And I believe that the PUMAs were wrong to take Thursday's diary so personally. Will Bower is a public figure and he chose to make himself a public figure. He has given me no reason to believe that he is anything other than a dishonest, political opportunist looking to cash in on Hillary's name and defeat Barack Obama for the most selfish of reasons, fame. I'm not going to pull punches when someone is trying to put an anti-gay, anti-female, pro-war, Scalia-loving wingnut in the White House just to feed his ego.

So I repeat myself: If you don't like what I wrote, prove that I'm wrong.

Obama-Biden '08

Obama-Biden '08

Here is one Clintonista who salutes the new ticket. Barack Obama's choice shows his maturity and judgment as a prospective president of the United States. Obama is not afraid of excellent experience but embraces it. He is not afraid to admit areas that he needs to shore up. Joe Biden is singularly well-prepared to be president of the United States, and Barack Obama has chosen well. Anyone who wanted Hillary Clinton to be president or vice president because of the qualities she would bring to the ticket cannot help but believe that Obama has found in Biden those qualities we found so attractive in Hillary.

Friday, August 22, 2008


This just in from HuffPo! Congrats to Joe Biden! He may not have been my first pick for VP, but I've always liked him. He's smarter than hell & he'll do a whole lot to help Barack win. :-)

Joe Biden Is Obama's Vice Presidential Running Mate

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is Barack Obama's pick as vice presidential running mate, The Associated Press has learned.

Biden, 65, is a veteran of more than three decades in the Senate, and one of his party's leading experts on foreign policy, an area in which polls indicate Obama needs help in his race against Republican rival John McCain.

NV-03: C4O Spotlights Dina Titus

(Proudly cross-posted at Swing State Project & Clark Community Network)

I'm so excited to kick off our new "C4O Spotlight" series today. As you all know by now, a Democratic victory isn't complete without electing more & better Democrats to Congress. So in that spirit, I'd like to introduce you all to someone very special. Please meet our first C4O All-Star.

As I talked about last weekend, I still have fond memories of my trip to Las Vegas last January. My friends & I helped make a difference in getting Democrats out to caucus. I was able to see Hillary & Bill Clinton in person for the very first time. And yes, I was also able to witness Dina Titus in action.

Dina Titus has been dedicated to serving the people of Suburban Las Vegas in the twenty years she's served in the Nevada State Senate, fifteen of those also working as the Senate Democratic Leader. She's worked to preserve Southern Nevada natural treasures like Red Rock Canyon, expand health care access to working families in Nevada, and improve the schools that serve Nevada's kids. Oh, and when she's not in the Senate, she's busy teaching American & Nevada government at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

But while Dina Titus has been working hard for Nevada's working people, Republican incumbent Jon Porter has been busy serving only himself. He's been a rubber stamp for Bush & Cheney ever since he first took office. He's used his taxpayer funded Congressional office to raise money for his campaign. He's consistently voted against the interests of Southern Nevada's working families if they get in the way of what his fat cat corporate donors want. Basically, Jon Porter is yet another dirty Republican who needs a different kind of job.

Fortunately for us & for Las Vegans, Dina Titus has a great shot at beating Porter. Titus beat Porter by 4 points in the first public poll released. DC political watchers now officially consider this race a toss-up. Democrats have come from behind to take the lead in voter registration. Oh yes, and Barack Obama's agressive Nevada campaign is sure to fire up turnout that can not only turn Nevada blue for Obama, but help Congressional candidates like Dina Titus win as well.

Oh, and let's not forget all the high-profile help Dina Titus is receiving from some great progressive allies! The Sierra Club has endorsed her because she's someone we can trust to fight for what's best for our people and our planet. EMILY's List has endorsed her becuase she'll work her hardest for all the hard working women in Southern Nevada. Dina Titus has even been added to the DCCC's Red to Blue program, which means that national Democrats are confident enough to invest in a victory here!

But you know what? Nonw of that matters if we don't take action! I wouldn't be here today if i didn't think that Dina Titus deserves our
. So please, please join us to take action and help Dina Titus & all our other great All-Star Democrats win. With real progressive fighters like Dina Titus in Congress, we can make a difference foe the better. So if you're as committed to a better & stronger America as I am, please join me in helping great candidates like Dina Titus win. :-)

Clintonistas: Get Over It

Cross-posted at Taylor Marsh.

I never thought I would say those words.

Two stories today, one in the New York Times and the other in the (Sarasota) Herald Tribune, on Hillary's campaign swing through Boca Raton, FL and her supporters who believe that her heart is not really in Obama's corner.

My favorite cry-baby line was in the NYT piece:
“It was good that she said my supporters need to now support Barack Obama,” said Ms. Shaffer, 46, reflecting on Mrs. Clinton’s speech before about 700 people. But, she added, “I wanted her to repeat that one more time.”
She needed her to say it twice!? Are you kidding me? Would you also like her to hold your hand and sing you a lullaby?

Some of her supporters are so busy being angry that they have forgotten that losing was devastating to Hillary, as well. She spent at least two years planning for her presidential bid, she spent 18 months raising money and campaigning, time she could have spent with her daughter or her aging mother, she was drug through the mud by a shameful media and a Clinton-deranged blogosphere, but in the end, she managed to put her hard feelings aside and do what's best for the country. She goes around the country talking about "change you can believe in" and "hope" and asking her supporters to please join her in supporting Barack Obama.

Yet despite all of Hillary's hard work on Obama's behalf, we still have Obamapeople like this:

Pat delValle, an Obama volunteer, said Clinton needed to appear more sincere if she was to have any effect bringing her supporters along.

It was her body language, delValle said. "I didn't see the smiles."

And Clinton people like this:

"I haven't heard her saying anything yet that makes me feel like I need to vote for Obama," said Wendy Richardson, a graduate student who had planned to vote for Clinton and is now considering Republican Sen. John McCain.
Huh? Let's look at what Hillary has said. On June 7, 2008, she suspended her campaign, endorsed Barack Obama, and asked her supporters to do the same:
Today, as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him.

And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me.
On June 27, 2008 in Unity, NH, she said that her supporters should not stay home and should not support McCain.
She also addressed the Democratic Party's fractured state, saying, "If you are considering not voting or voting for John McCain, I strongly urge you to reconsider."
In fact, as far back as May 14, in the heat of the primary campaign, Hillary said that her supporters should get behind the nominee:
"Anybody who has ever voted for me or voted for Barack has much more in common in terms of what we want to see happen in our country and in the world with the other than they do with John McCain," Clinton said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"I'm going to work my heart out for whoever our nominee is. Obviously, I'm still hoping to be that nominee, but I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that anyone who supported me ... understands what a grave error it would be not to vote for Sen. Obama."
I have reached the point where I believe that some people won't ever be persuaded. They say they are waiting for some magic words because they don't want to be persuaded. They are content to wrap themselves up in their righteous indignation and stand on the sidelines pouting. In the meantime, instead of raising money or campaigning for down-ballot candidates, instead of working for important groups such as Emily's List, instead of working on her own political action committee, HillPAC, all things which would help further her issues and expand her political power, Senator Clinton has to go around the country BEGGING her supporters to get behind the nominee.

And while she does it, her enemies on the left, dirtball Republicans looking to stir up trouble, and a media desperate to write stories about party infighting pounce on any hint that Hillary is not putting 200% into helping Senator Obama.

If you are a Hillary Clintonista, if you really believe in her and support her as I do, then you will stop making her go around the country and beg for your votes. It's time to grow up, accept that she has been defeated, and let Hillary get back to work.

If you keep holding out, demanding that Hillary work for your vote, you are part of the problem, not the solution.

McCain = Bush = Out-of-Touch Elitist

Need I say more?

Really... Does McCain know how bad we ordinary people have it?

Does he?

Spread the word. Any time some GOP operative "PUMA" tells you otherwise, show 'em the evidence.

How are things going for folks like you?

Time is Running Out!

A few days ago, I wrote about Becky Greenwald, who is running for Congress in Iowa and the Progressive Patriots Fund.

Senator Russ Feingold's Political Action Committee will give a $5000 donation to the candidate who gets the most support in an online vote. Yesterday, I received an email from Becky's campaign informing me that Becky is currently in THIRD PLACE! And today, I received an email from Russ Feingold announcing that the polls close at 6pm EST today. We have only a few hours remaining.

As many of you know, I am not from Iowa but there are some reasons I'm writing about Becky' campaign right now. First, a very close friend of mine is on Becky's senior staff. I have known him for several years and he has assured me that Becky is the real thing. Second, if elected, Becky will be the first woman elected to the House of Representatives in Iowa. I personally believe that empowering women is important in American society. Third, after Senator Obama becomes President Obama in January, he is going to need good Democrats like Becky in Congress if he is going to push his agenda.

As I wrote a few days ago, Becky just got through a tough primary and her fundraising took a hit when the floods hit in June. Right now, her Republican opponent (who loves war and hates poor people--more on this jerk coming soon) has a huge cash advantage and the big Democratic organizations like Emily's List won't invest in Becky's race until she gets some attention from the media and raises some money on her own.

Getting this endorsement and the money from the Progressive Patriot's Fund could be just the boost that she needs. So please visit this website and vote for Becky Greenwald!

Politico: Clinton was never vetted.

The Politico is reporting Hillary Clinton was never vetted for the role of VP.
Obama has often said, most recently on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on July 27, that Clinton “would be on anybody’s short list.”

But apparently not his.

“She was never vetted,” a Democratic official reported. “She was not asked for a single piece of paper. She and Senator Obama have never had a single conversation about it. How would he know if she’d take it?”

The official also said Clinton never met with Obama’s vetting team of Eric Holder and Caroline Kennedy.

And the official said she was never asked for medical records or for any financial 2008 information about her or former President Bill Clinton. The last information the couple has disclosed about taxes and financial holdings was for 2007.

“This would be the biggest leap of faith ever,” the official said. “She’s waiting for the text message like everyone else.”
So I guess we can cross this one off potentials?

Nevada? YES. WE. CAN!

Obama 44%
McCain 43%
Barr 3%
Nader 2%
No, your eyes aren't lying to you. This is the new Reno Gazette-Journal poll. McBush had been slightly up in most of the earlier polls in The Silver State. But now, losing another Mountain West state (Colorado & Montana are already tight) may end up being fatal to McBush's efforts to get to 270 electoral votes.

Let's see what happens in the coming 2.5 months. Still, the future isn't looking too bright for McBush & the GOP in Nevada. For the first time in decades, Democrats now outnumber Republicans here. Also the top issue is the economy, with particular focus on the foreclosure crisis that's crippling the real estate market. Hmmm, this doesn't sound good for Bush's best buddy, the guy with 7-10 luxury compounds.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

BELATED Weekly Strategy Session: Open Thread

OK, my bad. I forgot again to schedule our weekly strategy session for Tuesday. So because I f***ed up, it's your reward.

I'm opening up the strategy session to you. Tell me what our agenda for the next few weeks should look like at C4O. Since this community belongs to all of you as much as it does to me, I'm open to suggestions.

Still, enjoy this open strategy session while it lasts. Next week, we'll have a whole lot of work to do. The home stretch of this 2008 election is fast approaching, so I want all of us here to be fully prepared to fight... And win. :-)

At home with the McCains

Hat tip to Josh Marshall for all his research on this issue.

You have to love the McCains. They have sumptuous taste in housing, and being fabulously wealthy, they can--and do--own lots of homes all over the place. John and Cindy offloaded this pretty pad in Phoenix:

A home in Phoenix

Here's their ranch in the desert:

McCain Desert Ranch

It's important to have a place to stay in town, and the McCains are able to do just that; here's John's mansion in lovely Phoenix:

John McCain Phoenix Home

But if the linen on the bed is mussed, there's no need to worry, because the McCains actually own a $4.6 million condo in another part of Phoenix:

McCain Phoenix condo

Wow. Swank. Actually, this is the presumptive Republican nominee walking down a hallway in that 7,000 square foot condo in Phoenix:

7,000 SQ FT Phoenix condo

This is the building where John and Cindy have their three bedroom condo in Arlington, Virginia:

Arlington, VA condo

But guess what, around the time that John "I'm Not Sure How Many Houses I Own" McCain was advising American homeowners that they should skip their vacations, Cindy "Let Them Eat Cake" McCain got an itch to buy a second beach front condo. The McCains now own two condos in this building:

McCain Coronado Condos

Listen to John McCain answer how many houses he owns:

Actually, Josh Marshall currently is counting 10 McCain homes, but in fairness to the Let Them Eat Cake Family, they say they only use four of them.


Robin Leach, we demand a segment, and we demand it now!

How to be a Disgusting Pig 101.

Politico is reporting that a new conservative group has produced a television ad attacking Barack Obama for his relationship with former Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers.

"How much do your really know about Barack Obama? What does he really believe?" asks the ad, which then cites the failed attack on the Capitol on 9/11, and links it to the Weather Underground attack on the Capitol decades earlier.

The group says it will spend $2.8 million airing the ad in Ohio and Michigan -- which would be the largest single third-party expenditure this cycle.

"Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it?" asks the narrator. "Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?"

The group, the American Issues Project, is part of a group that isn't required to disclose its donors and is a product of a coalition of conservative groups, including Iowans for Tax Relief. Its president is Ed Martin, a Missouri conservative. Another official, Ed Failor, Jr., is a former McCain aide in Iowa who left after the campaign's shakeup last summer.

The use of 9/11 imagery links Ayers, and Obama, to the American conflict Islamic terror, which is the subject of many viral emails attacking Obama. The group's spokesman, Christian Pinkston, called the suggestion that the group is making any link with Islam "unfair."

"The idea here was to talk about the fact that his friends hate America, and that's who he's aligning himself with," he said.

It's spokesman, Christian Pinkston, is a former aide to presidential candidate Jack Kemp, and went on to run the conservative group Empower America. Pinkston says the ad will launch later this afternoon.

Will Bower, LIAR

Remember this video of Will Bower, a leader in the PUMA movement, announcing the PUMA's didn't need Obama's help raising money for Hillary?

Guess how much money she actually raised in July: $2.5 million.

What happened to that $6 million, Mr. Bower? I'll tell you what happened. It never existed. But admitting that his coalition wasn't raising money quickly enough wouldn't get him on Fox News, would it?

I have friends who are PUMAs and I will not renounce or criticize them for their decisions. I've tried to keep my ties to them and that won't change. But the leaders of this movement are LIARS. First we have Darragh Murphy reneging on her promise to provide buses to Denver and infighting about misusing funds. Now we have Will Bower making up fake numbers.

Did Mr. Bower ever stop to think that spreading these lies might make it harder for Sen. Clinton to raise money? Of course not. Because this isn't about Hillary Clinton. It's about Will Bower. And Will Bower being interviewed on television. And Will Bower becoming famous for taking down Obama and handing over the White House to McCain.

The PUMAs have raised a lot of very legitimate concerns about the nominating process and the need to reform the party. But when their megalomaniac leaders go around making ridiculous claims like $6 million and a "whitey" tape and 500 buses to Denver, it casts a shadow over the movement and lessens our chances of getting the reform we need.

To my friends on the other side, please ditch your narcissistic leaders and join the Clintonistas for Obama. This is the path that Hillary has chosen and has asked us to walk with her. I'm with Hillary. How about you?

Give 'em hell, Harry

Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, granted an interview to one of his home state papers, The Las Vegas Review-Journal. The article suggested that Senator Reid, while he continues to maintain a relationship with Senator Lieberman, has little regard for Senator McCain:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., defended Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman on Wednesday after the former Democratic vice presidential nominee accepted a speaking slot at next month's Republican convention in Minnesota.

"He has a close personal relationship with John McCain. I don't fully understand why he does," said Reid, who said Lieberman called Tuesday from the Republic of Georgia to alert him to the move.

"I told him last night, 'You know, Joe, I can't stand John McCain.' He said, 'I know you feel that way,' " Reid said.
While we all can share his sense of Senator McCain, I am sure that many of us find his fondness of Joe Lieberman a little mystifying.

How many houses does John McCain own?


I see no reason why we ought to subsidize an eighth.

I know who Barack Obama is...

Not really but he most certainly is not an "unknown quantity", he's only been under the microscope for the past 18 months, there is no way anyone can sincerely say that they don't know who Obama is. Especially when they have us to share what we know of Barack Obama.

Noun 1. unknown quantity - a factor in a given situation whose bearing and importance is not apparent; "I don't know what the new man will do; he's still an unknown quantity"at we know of the man.

The Free Dictionary

This line of attack by the right is one of the most insidious out there because it makes Obama into a virtual stranger among us who has no right to run for President. And when I talk to people who repeat this nonsense I push back, hard.

I know who Barack Obama is. Of course I don't know him personally but I do know him from the many debates (22?), speeches and interviews I've read. His books are a window into his soul because of the candid nature of his personal narrative. We have to push back hard, maybe even hand out our copies of his books to people who spout this nonsense. "Here, this is a great way to get to know Senator Obama".

I also hear this meme from those on the left who say they don't trust Obama as being liberal enough. Enough is what I say! I really feel deeply about the need to get this man into office before we can expect him to move anywhere away from the middle (And yes, I'm fully aware of the argument regarding the choice between a Republican and a Democrat running as a Republican, but Obama is not running as a Republican, he's stood by many of our valued principals such as a woman's right to choose).

Signing Statements

Obama on FISA

I know who Barack Obama is, he's shrewd and he's aware of how hard it is to walk the line on the issue of Homeland Security, we should all be aware how difficult it is. Just wondering when the terror alerts are going to start and when the false alarms will begin to fill the 24 hour news cycle about half the time. It's our reality.

Some Obama quotes to know the man...

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.

Issues are never simple. One thing I'm proud of is that very rarely will you hear me simplify the issues.

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and latino America and asian America - there's the United States of America.

So as I sit and listen to the right spout the serious Meme of, Who is Obama, I find myself thinking, I know who he is and so do you. WE must push back on this lie, this blatant misuse of the facts. We know who Obama is and the most telling factor for me is this.

We see what has happened in the media when it comes to the mistakes both candidates have made and the perceived errors of their spouses. We also know that when either Obama makes such errors they are examined to an extent that tends to escape the McCains, yes?

I've seen this countless times as Michelle Obama has had her quotes taken out of context and had her patriotism questioned by the right. I've seen this in the ridiculous arguments I've had with those on the left who ask why Michelle Obama is so damn ungrateful. They've bought it too.

And even through of all of this, even as both Michelle and Barack have had to rise to a level that many of us may not understand they've still held on to their optimism and their love of this Country. They've still held onto their belief that basically everyone is good and that they deserve every opportunity afforded to us by our Government. Even after all of this, they still sacrifice their time and energy to run for public office.

This is the loudest indication to me of who Barack Obama is. Barack Obama is our future President. And when people tell you that they don't know the man, you must counter their attack (Yes, it's a subtle yet insidious attack on everything this man is) and let them know that you know who Barack Obama is, Barack Obama is the future President of the United States, they better get used to the idea.

One More Tidbit on NBC/WSJ Poll

I know we went poll-crazy here yesterday, but there was one more tidbit that got overlooked in the frenzy last night. With the ugly numbers that we woke up to, many rejoiced at the numbers from the NBC/WSJ and CBS/NYT polls putting giving Obama a 3 point lead, 45-42.

The Clinton factor

Yet perhaps the biggest factor keeping the presidential race close has been Obama’s inability to close the deal with some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters. According to the poll, 52 percent of them say they will vote for Obama, but 21 percent are backing McCain, with an additional 27 percent who are undecided or want to vote for someone else.

What’s more, those who backed Clinton in the primaries — but aren’t supporting Obama right now — tend to view McCain in a better light than Obama and have more confidence in McCain’s ability to be commander-in-chief.

For these reasons, Hart believes that Clinton’s speech on the Tuesday night of the Democratic convention will be a significant event. “The Democratic convention is more than a coronation,” he says. “It is an event where the words of Hillary Clinton are probably going to be exceptionally important.”

Hart adds, “The Hillary Clinton campaign may be over, but the Clinton factor remains an important part of the election.”
Last night, someone at MyDD was quick to inform me that KO had pointed at the NBC/WSJ numbers which showed that 49% of voters did not want Hillary as president, ever. But I'm guessing that KO didn't left another inconvenient finding out of his analysis.
It’s also worth noting that while Obama leads McCain by three points in the poll, Clinton edges the Republican by six points in a hypothetical match up, 49 to 43 percent. But she remains a polarizing figure: 49 percent say they don’t want to see her as president someday, and 42 percent view her favorably versus 41 percent who see her in a negative light.
No doubt there are people who rejoiced at yesterday's numbers and maybe even saw an opening for Hillary on the ticket or even as a surprise nominee next week. I am already on the record as opposing a unity ticket and I have dismissed any possibility of Hillary being resurrected in 2008. I write about polling because (a) I am a statistics dork and I find the number-crunch fascinating and (b) I want reinforce the message that this election won't be a cakewalk.

If that doesn't square with your image of Psychodrew as a bitter Clintonista with "unresolved issues," so be it. I'll continue speaking my mind. And you continue speaking yours.

FYI, those of you who told me yesterday that is the only decent polling outfit might want to read the update to yesterday's pantsuit post.

A Clue to Help Our VP Madness?

Check out this juicy tidbit in Time's Swampland blog. Is Karen Tumulty onto something? Or is this just more worthless media speculation?

Well, I have a guess as to who the "surprise pick" may be... ;-)

Obama Hits Back

Three attack ads, all running locally and somewhat below the radar, consistent with a story in yesterday's New York Times.
Senator Barack Obama has started a sustained and hard-hitting advertising campaign against Senator John McCain in states that will be vital this fall, painting Mr. McCain in a series of commercials as disconnected from the economic struggles of the middle class.

Mr. Obama has begun the drive with little fanfare, often eschewing the modern campaign technique of unveiling new spots for the news media before they run in an effort to win added (free) attention. Mr. Obama, whose candidacy has been built in part on a promise to transcend traditional politics, is running the negative commercials on local stations even as he runs generally positive spots nationally, during prime-time coverage of the Olympics.

The negative spots reflect the sharper tone Mr. Obama has struck in recent days on the stump as he heads into his party’s nominating convention in Denver next week, and seem to address the anxiety among some Democrats that Mr. Obama has not answered a volley of attacks by Mr. McCain with enough force.
(via Ben Smith)

This ad is running in Nevada only, and hits McCain on nuclear waste.

This ad is running in the midwest and hits McCain on the economy.

This ad is running in Atlanta only, which shows that the Obama campaign hasn't written off Georgia just yet!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Government Fail: No Child Left Behind

(cross-posted at MyDD)

[WARNING: Monstrously long diary with about a million blockquotes... but I threw some pictures in for your entertainment]

"These reforms express my deep belief in our public schools and their mission to build the mind and character of every child, from every background, in every part of America."

- President George W. Bush on NCLB, announced three days after taking office.

January 2001

In the midst of Bush's war and our current economic insecurity, many of his less publicized failures are largely ignored by the MSM. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), which reauthorized the ESEA, has been vigorously debated among liberals and conservatives. Its stated purposes include increased accountability for States, schools, and school districts; greater choice for parents and students; more flexibility for States and local educational agencies (LEAs) in the use of Federal education dollars; and a stronger emphasis on reading.

Bush has called No Child Left Behind (NCLB) "the cornerstone of my administration" (lulz). Unfortunately, the president's attempt to build the mind and character of every child is slowly crippling our public school system.

A bureaucratic nightmare.

In 2004, Cheri Pierson Yecke, Minnesota's then education commissioner, mistakenly penalized Edina, widely recognized as one of the best public school systems in the nation, on a technicality which was later discovered to be a mistake. Dr. Ken Dragseth, who ran the school district, was informed that Edina had failed to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) because state records indicated that three out of 53 Asian/Pacific Islander students had failed to take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments test, which placed that minority subgroup below the 95% participation rate necessitated by NCLB. Though Edina was ultimately taken off the failure list when it was discovered that the three students had indeed taken the test, these sorts of bureaucratic errors are not always so easily resolved.

In its report evaluating NCLB's impact on Minnesota's public schools . . . the state's Office of the Legislative Auditor recommended that Yecke's department not penalize schools for results subsequently shown to be false. Yecke's response, delivered in a recent letter to the auditor, can be translated through the jargon as no dice. Claiming there are "multiple opportunities to correct school and district data prior to finalizing AYP status," the commissioner wrote that if the original error came from the school district and the 30-day appeal period has ended, the penalties will stand.

There are significant consequences in Yecke's petty decision to emphasize bureaucratic procedure over credible test results. As the auditor's report points out, putting schools and districts on a failure list can have a negative effect "on parents' perceptions of schools (and their enrollment decisions), on the morale of school staff, and on the NCLB sanctions to which schools are subject." But the experiences of Edina and Franklin Elementary are but one small byproduct of legislative actions and bureaucratic decisions related to NCLB that will surely discredit, and are likely to bankrupt and dismantle, our public education system.

Under the terms of NCLB, the nation's public school students must be tested in both reading and math each year from third through eighth grade, and at least once in grades tenth through twelth:

Any school receiving federal Title I money (ostensibly earmarked to improve the performance of disadvantaged students) faces increasingly harsh sanctions if its test scores fail to meet state-defined standards for making adequate yearly progress. After two years of AYP failure, the school must offer students the option of transferring to another public school in the district and bear the cost of transportation. After three years, the school must also offer low-income students tutorial services through a public or private agency approved by the state. After four years, the school district must take corrective actions such as removing personnel or changing the curriculum in the school. And after five years, the district is obliged to blow up, or "restructure," the school by replacing most or all of its staff or by turning over operations, as the U.S. Department of Education puts it, "to either the state or to a private company with a demonstrated record of effectiveness."

Despite Minnisota's educational system's laudable reputation, NCLB's requirement that test scores improve year after year is likely to compromise -- or even cripple -- the system by the year 2014. As the bar is raised higher and higher, standards will quickly become nearly impossible to accomplish.

. . .in its evaluation of NCLB, the scrupulously thorough and nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor estimates that, even if Minnesota students showed a modest improvement in test scores and educational proficiency, 99 percent of the state's elementary schools would fail to make AYP 10 years from now, and 65 percent of the elementary schools receiving Title I funding would have to be "restructured." Under its most optimistic scenario for student improvement--which assumes, among other things, that the state's percentage of special education and immigrant students won't continue to grow, and that brand-new immigrants can boost their test scores just as rapidly as native-born Minnesotans--the auditor's office estimates an 82 percent failure rate on AYP for elementary schools in 2014, and the restructuring of 35 percent of the schools funded by Title I.

Large schools that have at least 20 students in each subgroup (at least 40 for special education) can literally have their test results parsed out and measured in 37 different ways. If just one of the subgroups fails to meet just one of the standards (which include a two-thirds rate of proficiency and a 95 percent rate of participation by each subgroup on both math and reading assessments), then the school will be listed as having failed to meet AYP performance goals.

Likewise, it is predicted that a significant percentage of Massachusetts' public schools will fail to meet NCLB's educational standards by 2014.

Three-quarters of all schools in Massachusetts will fail to meet federal educational standards by 2014, according to an analysis of student test score data by Ed Moscovitch of Cape Ann Economics. Many of these schools will face increasingly harsh sanctions under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the No Child Left Behind Act.

Despite the high failure rate that will occur under NCLB, Massachusetts schools rank at or near the top on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, the SATs, college attendance rates and other measures of achievement.

MassPartners supports the overarching goals of NCLB, which are to provide all children with a quality education and to close the achievement gaps," said Joan Connolly, president-elect of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents and superintendent of the Malden Public Schools.

"Unfortunately, this law does not help us accomplish those goals. NCLB's inflexible formulas lead to some misleading results and require sanctions that are often unnecessary or counter-productive."

[. . .]

As 2014 approaches, more and more otherwise successful schools will fail to make AYP because there are so many ways to fail. For example, schools could fail to make AYP if 100 percent of the students reach the "proficient" level on MCAS by 2012 but only 99.5 percent of them reach that target in 2014, or if three students from a subgroup of 40 are absent for the test.

The veiled attack on public education.

As NCLB imposes harsher and stricter standards on our teachers and students, drop-out rates are increasing, and teachers are fleeing the public school system. Some have posited that Bush's failed plan may lead to privatization and school vouchers:

With reasonable guidelines and adequate funding, this timetable might have been a prudent course of education reform. But as the first sanctions are just now begininng to kick in, people across the country are belatedly discovering that NCLB is being structured and implemented as a punitive assault on public education, designed to throw the system into turmoil and open the door to privatization.

Meanwhile, DFL Rep. Mindy Greiling is sponsoring a bill that asks Washington for permission not to participate in the NCLB process. "I think all this lip service we hear, caring about poor and immigrant groups, is just a smoke screen for proving that the public schools are failing so they can go to Plan B, which is vouchers," she says. "If we were going to provide extraordinary intervention so we could help these children, I would be cheerleading NCLB. But instead, we've cut funding that would help address their needs. And then if the schools don't show progress, we're going to obliterate the schools? No, it's a punitive bill that bastardizes the name and intent of the Children's Defense Fund, which is where they got it from.

As much as I hate to wear the tinfoil hat, the overly ambitious goals and unrealistic expectations set by NCLB are suspect. The gradual deterioration of our (already damaged) public school system strengthens the GOP's argument in favor of school vouchers.

Discrimination, discrimination, discrimination!

Discriminating against the disabled.

Special educators have seen their students subjected to impossible standards, as NCLB fails to adequately take their conditions and disabilities into account. Natalie Gaza, a special educator from Los Angeles wrote,

"I became a special education teacher for two reasons-because I wanted to both teach and advocate for people with disabilities. While going through the teaching credentialing program, I envisioned myself empowering and educating a group of students who have been left behind in the past. What I didn't expect to be doing was administering tests that were not only inequitable, but unjust and cruel. I will never forget my first year of teaching, only four years ago. A student in the fifth grade - whose ability and performance level as determined by his IEP to be at 2nd grade, forced to endure days of a test at an ability level he in no way could perform - burst into tears. As he sat sobbing and clutching his pencil, I too felt like crying. I believe in accountability and assessment. I do not believe in cruel and unusual punishment. When is this going to stop?"

For example, scores were invalidated for a group of blind students who scored proficient on an NCLB-mandated test because the test was read aloud to them. This accommodation is allowable and widely used in all other testing scenarios but was not part of the test protocol in this instance. As a result, the students' scores were reported as zeroes in the school's AYP calculation. This illogical consequence could have been avoided with the inclusion of appropriate protocols.

[Minnesota] Education Secretary Rod Paige announced that special education students defined by the state as having "the most significant cognitive disabilities," such as autism or a permanent brain injury, will be considered proficient if they pass an alternative test deemed more appropriate for their intellectual development. But Paige capped the scope of this exemption at 1 percent of a school district's student population, which in Minnesota translates to roughly 9 percent of its special education students. States can ask for further exemptions, but Paige warned that they would only be granted for "small increments above the 1 percent cap," and would be restricted to "a specified period of time.

Discriminating against limited English proficiency (LEP) students.

Initially under NCLB, LEP students were to be held to the same standards as students whose native language was English, but after months of harsh criticism, the administration modified its position.

By definition, those in the LEP subgroup are unlikely to score well on reading tests. At first, NCLB would have counted the test scores of LEP students who had just arrived in the country and bumped others out of the subgroup as soon as they passed the language proficiency assessment, which is less challenging to immigrants than the reading tests. In other words, NCLB would have required proficiency in reading English from students who had proven they were not proficient in speaking or understanding English.

[. . .Ultimately] Paige's department allowed Minnesota to exempt the test results of immigrants who had been in the state for less than a year, and allowed others to stay in the LEP subgroup for two years after passing the language assessment. Last month, again in response to vociferous criticism of the LEP guidelines, he extended Minnesota's relaxed provisions to all 50 states, a gesture that Paige's department estimates will reduce the number of failing schools by 20 percent.

But research has demonstrated that it can take anywhere from four to 11 years for most LEP students to master English. Even when LEP students do master English, they're at best on a merely equal footing with students who were raised speaking the language, and for whom the reading test was ostensibly designed. Twenty-six percent of students in the Minneapolis Public Schools are LEP; in St. Paul the figure is approximately one in three. And 77 different languages are spoken by students in the Osseo school district. It remains highly probable that many schools in these districts--which also contain a significant percentage of special education and free and reduced lunch students--will be labeled as failing and eventually have to be restructured because of NCLB

For those schools lucky enough not to have enrolled a measurable amount of students in at-risk subgroups, or through Herculean effort somehow manage to otherwise avoid being put on the list of failing systems, NCLB simply cranks up its testing standards. The required proficiency rates for math and reading will inexorably climb over the next decade until, in 2014, we arrive at the theoretical endgame, where the only options are failure and perfection.

That's right: Every student in every subgroup must be proficient on every assessment in order for schools and districts to be in compliance with NCLB.

Inadequate funding.

Image Hosted by

Even as Bush pushes for academic perfection (ah, the irony!) in America's public schools, his administration fails to provide adequate funding for his audacious endeavor.

As might be expected, creating an education system that does not allow a single one of our nation's students to be left behind is going to be expensive. A raft of new tests are being developed, administered, and assessed. As more and more schools inevitably land on the AYP failure list for longer periods of time, the cost of providing tutorial services, transporting students to other schools, changing the curriculum, replacing the staff, and eventually restructuring the entire school or district will steadily mount.

[. . .]

In January, the Ohio Department of Education released a study estimating that it will cost about $1.5 billion a year--twice the amount the state now receives from the federal government--to implement NCLB.

[. . .]

William Mathis, a superintendent of a Vermont school district near Rutland and a senior fellow of the Vermont Society for the Study of Education, has analyzed studies from 18 different states, which project the costs of raising test scores to meet either the requirements of NCLB or their own state standards. Nearly all of them reveal that, even with the assistance of federal Title I money, states would need to raise their education budgets more than 20 percent to raise student performance across the board. As needs outpace means and delineations of bureaucratic turf become thoroughly scrambled in this new NCLB environment, tensions have occasionally run high. There's been talk of local schools and districts suing the state for funds to implement the law, and states doing the same thing in turn at the federal level. And late last month, Paige made headlines with his comparison of the National Education Association to a "terrorist organization" for opposing NCLB.

Teaching to the test.

Maryland Associate Professor of Education Linda Valli's research indicates that NCLB's focus on high-stakes testing has "actually undermined the quality of teaching in reading and math." The pressure placed on both teachers and students to meet the standards imposed by No Child Left Behind has created a stressful environment in the classroom, and has forced teachers to begin "teaching to the test" rather than focusing on fostering creativity and critical thinking skills.

Standardized test questions, with a choice of a, b, c, d or none of these, for answers, may be useful for screening contestants for a round of TV "Jeopardy." But they do not offer proof or even illumination on how students think critically, solve problems, communicate orally and in writing, or learn.

ELLs in particular have been subjected to relentless drilling.

In the wake of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, standardized tests have become increasingly high-stakes. Yet English language learners (ELLs) typically score far below native English speakers, creating pressure to "teach to the test."

The necessity of wasting such an enormous amount of time preparing students for standardized tests has negatively impacted the classroom.

It pushes classrooms toward relentless drilling, not something that inspires able people to become teachers or makes children eager to learn. It holds good students hostage to the performance of the least talented, at a time when the economic future of the country depends more than ever on the performance of the most talented.

High-stakes testing is forcing instruction to change from exploratory, lifelong learning to teaching to the test through drill and kill. Teaching to the test has dramatic effects on the validity of the exam. Drilling students on specific methods to achieve high scores on standardized tests is ethically inappropriate conduct for teachers. Haertel (1999) contended that as teachers teach to even the best of tests, the meaning of the tests scores can change, and validity can erode. Thus, a tremendous weight is placed on the assumptions that external performance assessments do, in fact, represent comprehensive, valid, and robust indicators of desired learning outcomes. But there is serious reason to question whether external performance assessments can fulfill those assumptions.

Teaching to the test is eliminating the opportunity for teachers to teach students higher-order thinking skills (Darling-Hammond 2004). Teaching to the test reduces teacher creativity, innovative instruction, the use of varied teaching strategies for diverse students, and teacher and student motivation. However, because teachers' jobs are at stake, student promotion is in jeopardy, and graduation opportunity is riding on the scores of these tests, it is no wonder that teachers think they are doing students and themselves a favor by teaching to the test. If teachers are training students to perform on these assessment measures, then the validity of the measurement tool is drastically reduced; thus, the results of the assessment tell us little to nothing about the teacher's instruction or the ability of the student.

Damaging teacher morale.

As the daughter of a teacher, I feel relatively safe in asserting that most teachers enter the profession because they are passionate about it. They certainly aren't doing it for the money. The conditions under which many of our public school teachers have been forced to work have left many of them dispirited and indignant.

Frederick County, Md., schools our children have attended have turned themselves inside out to try to produce the right test results, with dismaying effects on the content of classroom instruction and devastating effects on teacher morale. We actually lost our best English teacher to the effects of high-stakes testing. "I want to teach my students how to write," he said, "not teach them how to pass a test that says they can write." He quit.

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing (2007) contends that many of the best teachers will transfer from low-performing schools to higher-performing schools, leaving behind students with the greatest need. Flores and Clark (2003) argue that "when teachers' decision making power is limited, their ability to be innovative in meeting student needs is also limited, thus leading to feelings of frustration and to a sense that their educational role has been reduced to that of a technician. Removing decision-making power from the teacher is a clear example of de- professionalization." NCLB is leaving the teaching profession behind.

Nice to see we can agree with a few Republicans on something...

No Child Left Behind has proven itself so disastrous that even the Texas GOP is fighting it, claiming that it is, ". . .a massive failure and should be abolished." Texas has suffered significant losses since the enactment of NCLB.

. . . Texas' public school accountability system, the model for the national No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), directly contributes to lower graduation rates. Each year Texas public high schools lose at least 135,000 youth prior to graduation -- a disproportionate number of whom are African-American, Latino and English-as-a-second-language (ESL) students.

[. . .]

"High-stakes, test-based accountability doesn't lead to school improvement or equitable educational possibilities," said Linda McSpadden McNeil, director of the Center for Education at Rice University. "It leads to avoidable losses of students. Inherently the system creates a dilemma for principals: comply or educate. Unfortunately we found that compliance means losing students."


Some school officials have begun reporting false information about drop-out rates to improve their statistics.

The Washington Post later found another high school that reported an unbelievably low 0.3 percent dropuout rate when in fact up to half its students failed to graduate. The CBS program "60 Minutes II" reported that Houston's entire school system reported a city-wide dropout rate of 1.5 percent when the true dropout rate was somewhere between 25 and 50 percent, according to educators and experts checked by CBS News.

To get around the stringency of NCLB Missouri lowered its standards after the federal law went into effect. Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, explains that some states set low standards because, "They're trying to make sense out of this. They're trying to survive." Each state is capable of creating its own standardized tests,and several have elected to make these tests easier in an attempt to improve scores. Not exactly what Bush had in mind.

Leaving our most brilliant young minds behind.

My mother has worked in the public school system as a gifted teacher for nearly 30 years, and she has become intimately familiar with the devastating impact of No Child Left Behind. While the law attempts to force schools to bring the lowest achieving students up to par, our gifted children are neglected and forgotten.

. . .parents are fleeing public schools not only because, as documented by a recent University of Chicago study, the act pushes teachers to ignore high-ability students through its exclusive focus on bringing students to minimum proficiency. Worse than this benign neglect, No Child forces a fundamental educational approach so inappropriate for high-ability students that it destroys their interest in learning, as school becomes an endless chain of basic lessons aimed at low-performing students.

Bored with repetitive curriculums, gifted children learn to associate school with tedium and monotony.

No Child is particularly destructive to bright young math students. Faced with a mandate to bring every last student to proficiency, schools emphasize incessant drilling of rudimentary facts and teach that there is one "right" way to solve even higher-order problems. Yet one of the clearest markers of a nimble math mind is the ability to see novel approaches and shortcuts to attacking such problems. This creativity is what makes math interesting and fun for those students. Schools should encourage this higher-order thinking, but high-ability students are instead admonished for solving problems the wrong way, despite getting the right answers. Frustrated, and bored by simplistic drills, many come to hate math.

Talented writers fare no better in language arts education. Recently, a noted children's author recounted her dismay when fifth-graders attending one of her workshops balked at a creative writing exercise. She was shocked to learn that the reluctant writers were gifted. The children, however, had spent years completing mundane worksheets designed for struggling classmates and thus rebelled at an exercise they assumed would be yet another tedious worksheet.

Many parents have reacted by removing their children from the public school system and placing them in private institutions. Meanwhile, the gifted and talented students in our public schools,

. . . struggle because they sit in our classrooms and wait. They wait for rigorous curriculum. They wait for opportunities to be challenged. They wait for engaging, relevant instruction that nurtures their potential.

And, as they wait, these students lose interest in their passions, become frustrated and unmotivated from the lack of challenge their school curricula provides them. As a result, they become our lost talent.

So what's the bottom line?

John McCain voted for George W. Bush's legislative catastrophe. Barack Obama wants to completely revamp it:

Right. 'Nuff said.

Oh yeah, and let me end with one last scary thought...