Category Archives: Things that Piss Me off from The NY Times

Rant of the Day — Ross Douthat Says More Stupid Sh*t

Professional idiot Ross Douthat of the New York Times continues to rally against healthcare for people who make less money than he does (or as they are more commonly known the 98%) This week he does the maths and claims that the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA – which I won’t call Obamacare because for better or worse, it is not) will raise premiums. His basic gripe is because the cheapest pre-ACA plans are now “illegal” the plans that are in compliance are more expensive. He asks “Will [people] be grateful for more comprehensive coverage, even though it’s being forced on them and has higher premiums attached?”

Then he makes it seem like it’s about ideology. Liberals will be grateful he says because for them “more is simply better.” While conservatives argue that not spending money on health insurance will “free up money.” This is the fun thing about opinion pieces. You can say any idiotic thing you wish. You can pretend you know how other people think and what they want or just make up your own economics, ignoring what actual economists have to say. Also you can create false categories like “liberal” and “conservative” which have little to do with how you much anyone enjoys getting what the Republicans Continue reading Rant of the Day — Ross Douthat Says More Stupid Sh*t

Today’s Rant — Charter Schools

Unless you actually went to public school yourself and/or decided to send your own children to one, you really shouldn’t be making decisions (for others) regarding public versus charter schools and vouchers. (And yeah, I am talking about politicians including some alleged moderates and progressives.) Unless you really “get” that the middle class doesn’t have a future if parents are going to have to shell out tens of thousands every year for every kid for private school tuition, that a professional teaching force is better than eager grads padding their resumes, that public schools (and charters) aren’t just for the less fortunate but should be the default, and a decent education that helps every child – regardless of how much money their parents make – to reach his or her potential is a NECESSITY if America is going to compete with the rest of the developed world, you really shouldn’t be talking about gutting public education in order to give contracts, free space and other goodies to corporatized low-bidding charters. Public schools can and do succeed, and when and where they don’t, systems can be reformed. Charters, for the most part, limit parental involvement, subject kids to long commutes, sap resources that could go to public schools and will never be able to take everyone. They are often secretive about their actual data.

All of the “innovative” stuff and best practices can be done by public schools, PLUS it can be done in communities where kids actually live, parents may actually be able to participate, and local institutions and organizations may be able to partner for the benefit of all.

Yes, there are issues with unions, not just teacher unions, but cafeteria workers, janitors, paraprofessionals etc. Cities and states may need to be tough, but the countries that have the best public systems ALL have strong teacher unions. If Finland can do it, why can’t we?

Also you know what causes America to consistently score low in educational achievement compared to some other countries? POVERTY — something charters don’t even begin to address, but public schools working with a community school model can begin to.

The problem is when “reformers” are not consumers of public education and think of public education as being for other people’s children.

End of today’s rant. Discuss.

(Marion went to public school, taught public school, worked as an administrator in a public school/CUNY collaborative program, and worked with a non-profit that was the senior developer of a public school with other community organizations. See these three previous posts on the top — here, here, and here. She is not talking out of her butt on this one. Also btw she writes fiction that has nothing to do with this topic, but you might want to check out.)

Is Dumb Contagious? Bruni now Competing with Friedman and Douthat for Worst NY Times Column

In a column that manages to be sensationalistic, disjointed and incoherent, Frank Bruni discovers the shocking information that there seems to be a double-standard for women and men when it comes to sexual activity.

He writes about the Amanda Knox case and how her perceived licentiousness led to worldwide fascination and a murder conviction. Not like anyone hasn’t written about this before, but whatever. However, Bruni doesn’t have much to say about details of Knox’s case, such as Knox’s “confession” made after hours of coercion. In that statement, she named a popular club owner as a co-conspirator, even though it turned out he couldn’t possibly have been involved. It should have been obvious the confession was false because it didn’t fit the the facts, but as with many such cases – the Central Park Five, and Marty Tankleff, to name two, once someone admits to something, that’s very powerful. We are only now beginning to understand that false confession is a real thing, and that young people who have little experience with the criminal justice system are the most vulnerable.

In Knox’s case, the police made an early assumption of guilt, and they stuck to their guns even when it became more and more obvious that the murderer, Rudy Guede, had acted alone, raping and killing the victim after breaking in when no one else was home. Knox’s sexuality and foreignness  might have set things in motion, but ultimately the case was what typically happens when cops rush to judgement and a vulnerable suspect confesses.

Bruni doesn’t write about that. Instead he quotes from a 2011 article in a British tabloid about where Knox stored her vibrator, and then states: “We’ll never know what happened on the night … Meredith Kercher was killed.”

No, Frank, the reality is we have a pretty good idea of what happened based on  DNA,  timelines, witness statements, etc.  Knox and her boyfriend were not there. Knox came back the next day and it took her a while to figure out something was wrong. When she did, she called her boyfriend, and he called his sister a police officer before finally calling the police.

Bruni ignores Knox’s exoneration because it’s not the point he’s trying to make, even though it actually is. It was her behavior that led to the rush to judgement, and her sexuality became part of the theory of the crime. The “evidence” was made to fit the theory.

He goes on to write about the Jody Arias case. But other than “sex sells”, the two cases have nothing in common. Knox was absolved on appeal because the court found no credible evidence against her and the theory that she, Guede and her boyfriend had conspired was not probable.  Now they’re going after her again, based on nothing. In contrast, Arias really killed someone. She tried to cover it up, was caught, and made a convoluted claim of self-defense, which defies both common sense and the EVIDENCE. A jury is currently deliberating. Arias’ attractiveness and the salacious details of the case may sell papers, but they are not why she was arrested, or why she is likely to be convicted. She’s likely to be convicted because there’s a plethora of evidence that she’s guilty.

But instead of writing about any of that Bruni draws a false comparison between Knox and Arias and states,  “Similar questions can be asked…” Really?

Bruni then moves from murder to scandal and politics, writing, “I’ve heard quite a bit lately about David Petraeus’ road to redemption, less about Paula Broadwell’s.” Well, yeah. Petraeus was the director of the CIA, and Broadwell an unemployed graduate student. If there was more attention being paid to her, wouldn’t that strengthen Bruni’s point? If he has one?

He then goes on to make the claim that if Anthony Weiner had been “Antonia” she couldn’t possibly make a political come back, and he also wonders about the political fates of “Marcia Sanford,” “Newtina Gingrich,” and “Wilhelmina Clinton.”

I get it. he wants to write a column about the existing double-standard for politicians and other public figures, and because it’s so obvious and dull,  he needs to come up with an angle, so he sexes it up with Amanda Knox and Jody Arias.

He’s writing about how Knox’s sexuality was exploited by the media and then he exploits Knox’s sexuality to write his column.  Maybe he’s not so dumb after all.

(If you liked this post, feel free to look around, or check out my fiction.)

Justice Scalia Sees Voting Rights Act as “Racial Entitlement”

New York Times, February 27, 2013

Voting Rights Law Draws Skepticism From Justices By Adam Liptak
WASHINGTON — A central provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 may be in peril, judging from tough questioning on Wednesday from the Supreme Court’s more conservative members.
If the court overturns the provision, nine states, mostly in the South, would become free to change voting procedures without first getting permission from federal officials…
…Justice Antonin Scalia said the law, once a civil rights landmark, now amounted to a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

(with apologies to Calvin Trillin and Dorothy Parker)

If MLK were still in the fight,
no doubt he’d know it isn’t right,
to give the blahs advantage.

He’d proudly see it just and true,
to back Scalia and his crew.
For they like him believe
in equal rights for ALL.

Unlike those nasty Democrats,
they’re crazier than rabid bats!
Every one a panderer,
and also, too, you know it’s true,
we’ve ALWAYS been at war with Oceania.

On Gun Control — We Need Leadership

When I was a foot soldier in the ground game, I saw something interesting — lots of ordinary people enthusiastic about voting who understood where their self-interest was. Granted, I was mostly talking to dems, in Reading PA and most of them were either black, brown, poor, old, women, or some combination thereof.  These are the people that the right does not consider “real Americans,” the voters who were completely invisible to Romney despite the blatant efforts of their own state legislature to keep them from the polls.   These were folks who were concerned about the health and safety of their communities, and there were enough of them to give the President a landslide victory (twice) despite all the money being thrown around by Rove and Company and all the propaganda coming through Fox news, and all the nonsense rumors being spread on the Internet.

I’m pretty sure most of these voters would have no problem with an assault weapons ban, and probably no problem with even more restrictions, waiting periods, background checks etc.  But even if the majority of Americans who vote aren’t there yet, (and even if Congress is a gerrymandered mess), the people could get there if the same effort was made community by community and door by door to reach them as was made to elect the President Whatever the political risks are, the Democratic Party needs to lead on this and so does the President.  What we don’t need is the Press Secretary saying stupid shit like now is not the time for the discussion.

If not now, when?