Wrongo and Ms. Right are leaving today, escaping to Hungary and Poland. We will return just before Memorial Day. You can expect blogging to be light for the next ten days.
Wrongo will try to post photos of Budapest and Warsaw when high speed internet is available.
Take a break from the mad rush, and listen to Philip Glass play his composition, “Mad Rush”. In 1979, the organizers of the Dalai Lama’s first public address in North America approached Glass to create a musical piece with one prerequisite: Because the Dalai Lama’s schedule was so vague, they needed a piece of music that could be stretched for an indefinite period of time without the audience realizing there was any delay to the start of the meeting. This provided Glass the inspiration for Mad Rush.
Mad Rush is based on alternations between two themes. One is peaceful and meditative, the other is fast and frantic. Glass says that the two themes represent the interplay of the wrathful and peaceful deities in Tibetan Buddhism.
In the 1960s, Glass became a practicing Buddhist. He is also a strong supporter of Tibetan independence:
May your peaceful and meditative side win over your fast and frantic side.
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii – 2018 photo by Chaebi
North Korea made big news on Wednesday. From the WaPo:
North Korea is rapidly moving the goal posts for next month’s summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump, saying the United States must stop insisting it “unilaterally” abandon its nuclear program and stop talking about a Libya-style solution to the standoff.
The latest warning, delivered by former North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Gye Gwan on Wednesday, fits Pyongyang’s well-established pattern of raising the stakes in negotiations by threatening to walk out if it doesn’t get its way.
North Korea (NK) has been a challenge for several presidents, and Donald Trump will be no exception.
NK has nukes, and possibly, the means to deliver them as far as the east coast of the US. South Korea is armed, and our military backs them up. Neither side has a true advantage militarily. Whichever leader best uses diplomacy in the face of a military stalemate will win.
But that leader might not be Donald Trump. Kevin Drum notes this:
The upcoming summit meeting with North Korea has been orchestrated entirely by Kim Jong-un. It started with his outreach at the Olympics. Then he proposed the meeting with Trump. He halted missile testing. He met with South Korea and it was all smiles. He’s implied that he’s in favor of complete denuclearization. He released three American hostages. And he’s now planning a public spectacle of destroying North Korea’s nuclear testing site.
WALLACE: Now, the joint statement from the two Koreas on Friday called for…a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and some people have suggested the North Koreans will give up everything they’ve got. But in return, the U.S. would agree that we are not going to allow any nuclear-armed airplanes or nuclear-armed ships on the Korean peninsula.
Is that acceptable?
BOLTON: Well, we certainly haven’t made that commitment. And again, I’m looking at the Panmunjom declaration as they call it in the context of a series of earlier North-South Korean agreements. And again, looking at the 1992 joint declaration, when they said nuclear-free, they meant with respect to the two Koreas.
WALLACE: So, you don’t view this as involving any kind of commitment from the U.S.?
BOLTON: I don’t think it binds the United States, no.
Personnel is policy, and Trump’s recent personnel moves brought in new wacko hardliners in key positions. Trump seems to be under the impression that the Singapore meet-up is a surrender ceremony, while the NK’s see it as two nuclear equals attempting to negotiate a final peace deal.
And Bolton is playing his usual games. It’s been true since the 1990’s that Republicans have a reflexive need to press for whatever seems more “hawkish” than whatever the Democrats had tried when they were in control.
That includes Republicans saying that “regime change” is the only realistic option when states object to the US, or its objectives in their region. The GOP is always outraged that the feckless, effeminate Democrats haven’t backed regime change since Vietnam. Iran is the GOP’s latest experiment, where throwing away the JCPOA was their goal, and Trump delivered it.
Of course, all foreign policy troubles would be solved if only our Adversaries and Enemies were magically replaced by Friends and Fans, but for some reason, that never happens.
The NK’s are doing what they have always done whenever negotiations get to this point. What Kim is doing is so blindingly obvious and predictable that only pundits and politicians could be surprised by it.
Trump says his strength is that he is unpredictable. But, in the case of NK, he put all his cards on the table, assuming that his strongman tactics would lead to peace and a legacy. Instead, it looks like Kim simply upped the ante on being unpredictable. Kim may think Trump wants the deal more than NK.
Seventeen years ago, Clinton made a deal to give NK aid and trade in return for halting nuclear weapons development, backed by inspections and monitoring. It wasn’t a perfect deal, and NK broke it, at least in spirit. The US decided to break the deal explicitly because the incoming George W Bush administration wanted regime change. The Bushies blamed NK’s breaking the deal in spirit, and wouldn’t give NK the promised aid.
Remember when Trump flattered Kim, calling him “very honorable”? What’s a guy gotta do to unify a peninsula around here?
And Trump was THIS CLOSE to becoming president for a second term based on a foreign policy triumph and a Nobel, too. Such a shame. Well, there’s always Syria.
Members of a special team at the Education Department that had been investigating widespread abuses by for-profit colleges have been marginalized, reassigned or instructed to focus on other matters, according to current and former employees.
The unwinding of the team has effectively killed investigations into possibly fraudulent activities at several large for-profit colleges where top hires of Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, had previously worked.
But Wrongo’s vote goes to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for doing the most damage to America because of her undermining of America’s education system. And her relentless efforts continue the entrapment of millions of young people in the for-profit student loan system that has now reached $1.5 trillion. This will threaten America’s economy for decades.
More from the NYT: (emphasis by Wrongo)
During the final months of the Obama administration, the team had expanded to include a dozen or so lawyers and investigators who were looking into advertising, recruitment practices and job placement claims at several institutions, including DeVry Education Group. The investigation into DeVry ground to a halt early last year. Later, in the summer, Ms. DeVos named Julian Schmoke, a former dean at DeVry, as the team’s new supervisor.
With the reorganization, now just three employees still work on the team, their mission has been scaled back to focus on processing student loan forgiveness applications.
This is Trumplandia, where agencies are run based on the personal motivations of the head of the agency. DeVos has long had personal and financial interest in the for-profit segment of education. She has pursued funding of private charter schools and religious schools using public funds.
Corporations and moneyed interests now directly control several of our key agencies. Trump has opened the doors wide to industry lobbyists. Pruitt is running the EPA at the behest of industry, at the expense of the well-being of the American people. Zinke is out to shrink public lands to aid private interests.
People who want the best for the nation clearly are not welcome in the Trump administration.
This is another reason for people to go out and vote in huge numbers in November. It is the only way to change the dangerous course that Trump has placed us on.
And it’s not simply Trump. This is who and what the GOP is now.
Time to take the country back from those in Washington who see privatization as the holy grail of corporatism.
Orchard Oriole in crab apple tree – May 2014 photo by Wrongo
We are divided, and nothing shows that better than the callous remark about John McCain’s brain cancer by White House staffer Kelly Sadler. She said, regarding McCain’s unwillingness to vote for Gina Haspel for CIA Director, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders then said, “I am sure this conversation is going to leak, too. And that’s just disgusting.”
She thought that the leaking of Sadler’s comment was disgusting. The comment was fine.
Axios reported that WH strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp said, “You can put this on the record, I stand with Kelly Sadler.” That is the same Mercedes Schlapp who walked out of the WH Correspondents Dinner when she felt that Michelle Wolf’s routine spoofing Sara Sanders’s eye makeup was over the line.
And yet, she stands by Kelly Sadler’s making a joke at the expense of a dying John McCain. Hypocrisy is alive and well in the White House.
Sadler’s comments almost made Wrongo want to reconsider John McCain’s maverickitude, and warm up to his career as an unvarnished political hack who loyally served the GOP.
So, despite his vote not to eliminate Obamacare, let’s continue to have a clear eye for hackery and hypocrisy, wherever we see them.
The NYT’s Week in Review section was filled yesterday with op-eds about how important it is for liberals to moderate their outrage. On the front page, above-the-fold, was an article titled: “Liberals, You’re Not As Smart as You Think“, by Gerard Alexander, an associate professor at the University of Virginia.
That Wrongo read the entire thing proves Alexander’s point.
OTOH, Professor Alexander was right to point out that liberals can be as guilty of being arrogant and insulting as conservatives. Much of what the right says is angry, closed minded and based on ignorance.
And they say it loudly and often to anyone who will listen.
Progressives need to understand that if our views are based on smugness and arrogance, or if we fail to check all of the facts before arguing, we are unlikely to convince anyone to come over to our side. It does no good to malign a group with broad brush strokes.
But simply turning the other cheek and making nice has landed us where we are.
The problem is that Dr. Alexander implies that there are two equally valid polarities in US politics, and those who love Trump must be regarded as respectable as those who loath him. These are not equal: One side likes a leader who tears things down without any plan for replacement. The other side does not appreciate him in the slightest.
This is not like the difference between those who are pro-free trade, and those who are against it. It’s the difference between the politics of anger and exclusion and the politics of patience and inclusion.
Alexander’s work reads as sloppy thinking from a blogger, not the work of a political scientist at a premiere university. The Trumpalos are willing to do whatever is necessary to stay in power. And those who voted for Trump show a great deal of comfort with anger and outrage, regardless of how Alexander thinks they should be perceived by the rest of us.
Their calls to cool it are good news. We’re getting under their skin.
Time to double down. We need to make our case clearly, and to all who will listen.
Time to wake up America, we are sliding down to a dangerous level. To help you wake up, here is Gil Scott-Heron with “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. The song’s title was originally a popular slogan among the 1960s Black Power movements in the US:
Scott-Heron has it right. The revolution will be streamed.
The revolution will not be right back after a message About a white tornado, white lightning, or white people You will not have to worry about a germ on your Bedroom A tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl The revolution will not go better with Coke The revolution will not fight the germs that cause bad breath The revolution WILL put you in the driver’s seat The revolution will not be televised.
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
Cherry blossoms at Hirosaki Castle, Aomori Prefecture Japan. It was built in 1611. Photo by Huffington Post
Spring is in full flower on the fields of Wrong. Our pear, plum, cherry, quince and crab apple trees all bloomed on Monday. By Friday, most began shedding their flowers. While they were in full bloom, honey and bumble bees swarmed the flowers, making each tree sound as if tiny motors were running on every branch. We also had both Baltimore and Orchard Orioles working hard to strip the crab apple trees of their setting fruit. It was a delight to watch and listen while standing under the trees.
But now, the birds and the bees are moving on to more promising targets, just like Trump is doing with his foreign policy. He’s leaving behind the so-called “bad deal” in Iran, for what will almost certainly turn out to be a similar deal with North Korea. Some have started a victory lap on North Korea, saying that only Trump could have brought Kim Jong-Un to the table. Maybe, but declarations of victory are certainly premature. We have been at least this far with North Korea before.
Wrongo doesn’t buy the outrage in Washington about CIA Director-designate Gina Haspel. Few of us who work inside large organizations have the strength to stand up and refuse to take an action simply because it offends our moral sensibility. We balance the thought that it could cost our job, or our next promotion. And besides, the boss is telling me it’s OK to do it.
Wrongo despises the idea of torture, and believes that America must provide the world with leadership that, by our example, shows that torture is wrong. OTOH, at the time, Haspel was part of a large system that said torture was legal. She was faced with a dilemma: to choose between what she was ordered to do, and what she now says she wouldn’t do again. And don’t trot out that “only following orders” is no defense. Often, in a large system, not following orders leads automatically to dismissal.
Try not to have knee-jerk outrage for someone who, like you, hasn’t always been in a position with sufficient power to use their sense of morality as their guide to all actions.
And we can’t let the week end without a comment on Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen. The WaPo has internal company records that show Cohen’s $600,000 deal with AT&T: (emphasis by Wrongo)
Three days after President Trump was sworn into office, the telecom giant AT&T turned to his personal attorney Michael Cohen for help on a wide portfolio of issues pending before the federal government — including the company’s proposed merger with Time Warner, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
The internal documents reveal for the first time that Cohen’s $600,000 deal with AT&T specified that he would provide advice on the $85 billion merger, which required the approval of federal antitrust regulators.
You may remember that Trump said he opposed the ATT/Time Warner merger, so who better to retain than his personal lawyer?
You might ask, what insight Cohen, a real estate attorney and taxi cab owner could provide AT&T on complex telecom matters? And AT&T has now admitted they messed up by trying to use Cohen as a way to reach Trump.
Trump hasn’t drained the swamp, he’s simply released his own critters into it.
So on this Saturday, relax and see if you can get soothed before starting your yard work, or whatever other spring project awaits. Begin with a strong cup of “Thanks Mom” coffee ($20/12oz) for Mother’s Day from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in La Jolla, CA. They say its decadent flavors of caramel, red cherry and apple blossom will surely create a Mother’s Day to remember.
Your mom’s mileage may vary. She may prefer dinner at a fancy restaurant.
Now, put on your Bluetooth headphones, sit in the sun and listen to “Moorland Elegies: No. 1. Come, Walk With Me” by Estonian composer, Tõnu Kõrvits. The Moorland Elegies is a nine-part cycle for mixed choir and string orchestra. The texts are poems by Emily Bronte. It is a sonic tone painting.
It is performed here by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Risto Joost in Tallinn’s St. John’s Church in October, 2015:
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
Hyner View State Park, Hyner, PA – photo by Scott Hafer.
Maybe it’s early to have a full perspective on Trump’s decision to leave the Iran Nuclear Accord, but Wrongo is reminded of this quote from Benjamin Netanyahu, on September 12, 2002:
If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you it will have positive reverberations on the region.
He said this while he was pressing for the US to attack Iraq, who was an Israeli foe in 2002. Naturally, the results were far from positive for the region, and the outcome for the US was catastrophic in both financial and human costs.
Bibi has again been successful in urging another Republican president to start an adventure in the Middle East, this time, by backing out of the Iran deal. Once again, Bibi has set up an opportunity for the US to attack another Israeli foe. This decision is a truly consequential foreign-policy blunder.
It is important to understand what’s really going on here. Trump’s decision is not based on a desire to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb; if that were the case, it would make much more sense to stay firmly committed to the deal and eventually negotiate to make it permanent.
Walt says that this is what’s really going on:
Abandoning the JCPOA is based on the desire to “keep Iran in the penalty box” and prevent it from establishing normal relations with the outside world. This goal unites Israel, the hard-line wing of the Israel lobby…and hawks including National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and many others.
Walt says that the hawks’ great fear was that the US and its Middle East allies might eventually have to acknowledge Iran as a legitimate regional power.
The preferred strategy to keep Iran from becoming a regional power has been regime change. US neo-cons and others in the Middle East have pursued this for decades. The neo-cons see two possible routes to regime change. The first relies on ramping up economic pressure on Tehran in the hope that popular discontent will grow, and that the clerical regime will simply collapse. This is the same strategy that worked so well failed in Cuba. Since the Nuclear Accord would end the sanctions that were keeping Iran weak, it was reason enough for most Republicans and hawks to be against it.
The second option is to provoke Iran into restarting its nuclear program, which would give Washington the excuse to launch a preventive war. The Israelis and Saudis would be happy to watch the US and Iran fight. The thought is that a war would eliminate Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and inspire its people to rise up and overturn their leaders.
This scenario shows how little thought these people give to outcomes: If we bomb Iran, their first reaction will not be one of gratitude. Bibi will again be wrong, there will be no “positive reverberations”. Rather, it would trigger fervent Iranian nationalism and the regime would become more popular.
Leaving the deal is another spectacular “own goal” from the Trumpkinhead. They must be dancing in Moscow and Beijing, the two biggest winners of the Trump withdrawal.
Other winners include the Iranian far-right, who will say that Rouhani and the reformists were naive to trust that the Americans would honor any agreement, and the Iranian public should move to the right in the next parliamentary election.
Bibi and his government will now campaign on how every Israeli should be terrified at the prospect of returning Iran back toward the possibility of becoming a nuclear power, something Bibi has worked hard to bring about.
Both Israel and Saudi Arabia get closer to a pretext for the direct military confrontation that they want, purchased with the blood of Americans, blood that the American neo-cons will be happy to spill. With friends like Israel and Saudi Arabia, who needs enemies?
Ultimately, Iran will probably end up getting nukes. But, every other country also wants some atomic insurance. The hawks need to remember that nuclear fission and fusion are 75-year old technologies. Even North Korea, among the poorest countries on earth, has mastered it. The bar just isn’t that high.
So, nuclear proliferation has a natural tailwind, and destroying America’s credibility removes the last wisp of an obstacle to it.
On Monday, the NRA named Oliver North as its next president. North is a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel best known for his central role in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair. He was found to have played a key role in the secret sale of arms to Iran, which was under an arms embargo at the time. Proceeds from the secret weapons sales were funneled to help support the Contra’s armed resistance to Nicaragua’s dictatorship led by the Somoza family. Under the Boland Amendment, funding of the Contras by the government had been prohibited by Congress.
In summary, a guy who lied to Congress about illegal weapons sales to Iran is now the president of an organization whose central belief is that legal gun ownership is the key to maintaining a safe country.
A trade association for the arms industry now will be headed by the most famous arms-trafficker in American history. An organization that wears patriotism as though it were the masque of the Red Death will be headed by a guy who sold missiles to one of the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism.
Last week Israel published intelligence documents, long concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranians’ regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.
With news like this, how does the Onion stay in business?
Jon Chait argues that the Republicans’ defense of Oliver North begat Donald Trump:
Three decades ago, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North took the Fifth Amendment in a private Senate hearing on the Iran-Contra scandal….Conservatives rallied to North’s defense, insisting the law barely mattered in comparison to the noble intentions North was following. “It is not whether some technical laws were broken, but whether we stop communism in Central America,” argued White House communications director Pat Buchanan.
So in the 1980s, Republicans were willing to overlook illegal actions if their own political priorities were supported. The story evolved, as a reading of the National Security Archive makes clear. The rest of those indicted or convicted were all pardoned in the final days of the presidency of George H. W. Bush, who had been Reagan’s Vice President at the time.
By doing that, Bush went further than any other president with the pardon power. His pardons made it impossible to pursue already-developed plans to investigate Bush himself in greater detail. At the time, the Iran-Contra Independent Counsel, Lawrence Walsh, told Newsweek:
It’s hard to find an adjective strong enough to characterize a president who has such contempt for honesty.
Until today, The North/Iran-Contra paved the way for our present political predicament where progressives are fighting to find truth hidden by actions in Washington, while Conservative lies distort current American policy. More from Jon Chait:
The North saga prefigured many things…about conservative politics in the present moment. It reveals the naïveté of the common belief that President Trump would never dare to take the Fifth Amendment in the Russia investigation, or that doing so would carry an unbearable political price.
Of course Trump’s base would tolerate Trump taking the Fifth in questioning by Mueller. Or pardoning people even before they were tried. After all, Pappy Bush got away with did it. More about the straight line from North to Trump:
Conservatives rallied to North’s defense because he was on their side, next to which the breaking of “technical laws” was a trifling concern. Trump can count on the same reflexive defense.
A convicted felon is now head of the NRA, a convicted felon leading the Republican Senate primary in West Virginia.
So, with all his Republican support, why would Trump ever worry about Mueller?
If you attend a demonstration, and the person marching beside you throws a rock, are you responsible for the damage? According to prosecutors at the DOJ’s Washington, DC office, the answer is yes, you are.
On January 20, 2017, 230 people were arrested in Washington, DC while protesting Donald Trump’s inauguration. More than 200 faced felony charges under a federal riot statute. A small group of defendants were acquitted, and in January, prosecutors dropped charges against 129 people. However, 59 people still are charged with crimes.
Trump’s inauguration on January 20th, 2017 drew a number of protests…but the “anti-capitalist and anti-fascist march,” now widely referred to as “J20” (a reference to the date of the protest) garnered the most attention. The protesters were primarily dressed in black…Protesters and others there to report on or observe the protest left DC’s Logan Circle as the inauguration ceremony began, and soon thereafter, several individuals broke off from the larger black-clad group and smashed the windows of a several storefronts. [And a limousine]
In response to the destruction of property, DC police arrested 230 people. Six went to trial and were acquitted in December. Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald carried this quote from Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff from the trial of the six:
We don’t believe the evidence is going to show that any of these six individuals personally took that crowbar or that hammer and hit the limo or personally bashed those windows of that Starbucks in…
Yet, she still argued that they all should be convicted of crimes punishable by up to 61 years in prison. Kerkhoff’s theory relates all protest activities within a legal concept called the Pinkerton rule, which allows the legal system to charge you with a crime for aiding and abetting the commission of that crime, even if you didn’t directly do it yourself.
The J20 cases show that the right of dissent is facing a broad legal challenge. What’s new is not that a lot of people who were protesting got arrested enmasse, we’ve seen that for decades. What’s alarming is that so many people were charged with felony conspiracy to riot, which is unprecedented.
America is now seeing how the line between what is defined as a protest and what is a riot is arbitrary, and is entirely up to the police and prosecutors to define.
Across the US, almost 60 bills have been introduced in Republican-controlled state legislatures since Trump’s election broadening the definition of rioting or increasing penalties for protesters found to have broken the law.
These efforts by legislators and prosecutors are important and chilling. Think about how easy it is at a protest for violence or window-breaking to be done by a person who is not part of the protesting group. Possibly sent by an opposing group, or even by law enforcement, specifically to discredit the protest.
Now, nobody should defend goons who break windows and set cars on fire at rallies or marches. But the rest of us who are protesting cannot be deemed guilty of the same crimes.
But, isn’t this what the police and prosecutors are doing?
Time to wake up America, before we lose the few rights we have as citizens!
It should be shocking that this story isn’t being covered by the US mainstream media. And it is shocking that 60 people, many of whom were not conspiring to riot may go to jail. We must elect representatives who have an understanding of the First Amendment.
To help you wake up, here is “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” by Phil Ochs from his 1965 LP:
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
Rua Nova do Carvalho, Lisbon Portugal – 2016 photo by Brotherside. Formerly a part of the red light district, but when the street was painted pink in 2011, it quickly became the epicenter of a vibrant party scene.
In a week with a Hawaiian volcano’s eruption, Bibi’s nuclear song-and-dance, and Rudy’s confessions on Fox that Trump had indirectly paid hush money to Stormy, you may have missed the report that the fired House Chaplain is back at work. The WaPoreported:
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) reversed course Thursday and agreed to keep the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy on as House chaplain after an extraordinary showdown that included the priest alleging anti-Catholic bias among Ryan’s staff.
Ryan defended his original decision and continued to question whether Conroy was delivering sufficient “pastoral services” to the entire House. “I intend to sit down with Father Conroy early next week so that we can move forward for the good of the whole House,” Ryan said.
That is how it ended. His return started when Rev. Pat Conroy rescinded his resignation in a letter to Ryan. Conroy wrote:
While you never spoke with me in person, nor did you send me any correspondence, on Friday, April 13, 2018 your Chief of Staff, Jonathon Burks, came to me and informed me that you were asking for my letter of resignation. I inquired as to whether or not it was ‘for cause,’ and Mr. Burks mentioned dismissively something like, ‘maybe it’s time that we had a Chaplain that wasn’t a Catholic.’
Great job, Mr. Burks! Did you know that there have been exactly two Catholics as House Chaplain?
Fr. Conroy continued:
At that point, I thought that I had little choice but to resign, as my assumption was that you had the absolute prerogative and authority to end my term as House chaplain.
This was mostly about the tin ear that some Republicans have when it comes to social issues. One House member, Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), who is also a Baptist pastor, apparently said that the next House chaplain needed to have a family.
That would rule out anyone who, like Fr. Conroy, had taken a vow of celibacy. Why do some people continually use their religion to bludgeon others?
Democrats and a few Republicans have said they believed that Speaker Ryan was facing pressure from evangelicals within the GOP conference to find a chaplain whose politics more closely aligned with theirs, but for now, this little “holy war” in the House is over. Maybe the next House Chaplain should be a Zen warrior priest who roams the halls, hitting Congress critters with his sword, you know, in a pastoral manner.
Spring has sprung with a vengeance in the Northeast. Today, Wrongo has battled a love sick bird that is trying to build a nest above the kitchen door at the Mansion of Wrong. The determined bird tried three times before finally bowing to Wrongo’s will.
It’s Saturday, and we need to downshift, to turn our focus from all that is wrong with the world, to all that’s right. To help you make the change, start by brewing a cup of Taiwan roaster Kakalove Café’s Mandheling Onan Ganjang sourced from the northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra ($18.50/16 oz.). The roaster says it is deeply sweet with vibrant acidity, and a syrupy mouthfeel.
Now, sit outside, take in the nature surrounding you, and listen to Sierra Boggess singing “The Lusty Month of May” from Camelot. It is performed live in 2012 at the BBC Proms:
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
Among the latest states hit by the protests is Arizona, where teacher pay is more than $10,000 below the national average of $59,000 per year. The Pendergast Elementary School District…has recruited more than 50 teachers from the Philippines since 2015. They hold J-1 visas, which allow them to work temporarily in the United States, like au pairs or camp counselors, but offer no path to citizenship.
The NYT reports that according to the State Department, more than 2,800 foreign teachers arrived in America last year through the J-1 visa program, up 233% from about 1,200 who landed here in 2010.
Are public school teachers a new class of migrant workers in America? Is teaching becoming another category of “jobs Americans won’t do” in the Trump era?
Arizona has a reported shortage of 2000 teachers state-wide. This is a direct result of Arizona’s low teacher salaries, (43rd in the nation), and poor funding for public education. More from the NYT:
According to the State Department, 183 Arizona teachers were granted new J-1 visas last year, up from 17 in 2010.
Trump opposes immigration because he says it takes away American jobs. Yet, here we have an immigration program designed precisely to take away American jobs, and it is growing, because there is no alternative but higher taxes, which is not an acceptable solution to Republicans.
Poor school funding and low teacher salaries are a direct result of tax cuts that then require government expense cuts. Local governments can’t engage in deficit spending for very long without ruining their bond rating, so when tax revenues go down, salaries are frozen, maintenance is deferred, and expenses are slashed.
Wrongo’s home town has this very issue in front of us. Our student population has declined by about 11% over the past few years, but the town’s school budget has steadily increased, despite the declining student census. When the budget goes to voters in a few days, it is likely to be voted down, because so few people are willing to see their taxes increased.
This should be a wake-up call to all of us. Tax cuts do not create revenue growth in our towns, states or the country, regardless of what the faux economists say about trickle-down economics.
There is no “teacher shortage” in America. Do we say there is a shortage of Corvettes because we’ll only pay the dealer $25k for a brand new one? We are seeing across many job categories that fewer skilled individuals are willing to work for the low pay offered in both the private and the public sector.
It seems like a simple concept. The people who you entrust your children to for learning and personal growth should earn an adequate wage, and be able to remain members of the middle class.
If we denigrate a profession enough so that people are wary of investing their time and money to get an education and meet the needs of the job, we will have a teacher shortage. If we then hire foreigners who are willing to do the work for peanuts, we will complete the job of making teaching a low income profession.
This is a plan designed by the right and their hedge fund billionaire buddies to privatize and ultimately, break public education.