Friday, October 26, 2012

WikiLeaks: The Detainee Policies.

Julian Assange, embedded in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and the rest of those mischievous sprites at WikiLeaks have gone done stuck another grubby thumb in the eye of the National Security State. Beginning on Oct. 25, and continuing intermittently, the minions of Assange plan to go public with revelations culled from US Dept. of Defense publications, memoranda, and internal communications dealing with the proper, as well as the "acceptable," ways and means of managing captives from war-zones where no "war" has been declared.

 The documents are "more than 100 classified or otherwise restricted files from the United States Department of Defense covering the rules and procedures for detainees in U.S. military custody," according to a Wikileaks press release circulating on the web. The first of these include the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual from Camp Delta, also known as Guantanamo, SOP draft manuals from Camp Bucca in Iraq, a MOU (Memo of Understanding) on transferring detainees among UK, US, and Australian authorities, and seven other documents, all from the year 2004, which index the concerns of the military bureaucrats with respect to the safe, sanitary, disciplined warehousing of indigenous folks captured by or turned over to "Allied" forces in Iraq. The Camp Delta SOP forbids using, or even possessing, "sap gloves," which are gloves weighted with lead shot, among other things; what's forbidden is often revealing.

One particularly interesting document procured by the Wikileaks folks is this "References for urban operations manual." This fascinating, 11-page document apparently catalogues  publications concerning the "urban operations" in Iraq in some indistinguishable time period (it was created in April, 2004), in which there is reported to be information about the conduct of such operations as part of OIF ("Operation Iraqi Freedom," the successor to the short-lived "Operation Iraqi Liberation, or "OIL," which briefly preceded it in 2003).

Sources listed include everything from the official logs of Marine units engaged in 'urban operations' in Iraq (which at that period might have included Faloujah) to a WaPost piece by Tom Ricks titled "Ruses, Ambushes, and Other Guerilla Tactics, from March 2003. There are approximately 30 entries per page; at eleven pages, that's probably well over 300 stories from sources around the globe and from sources including The Nation and Counter-punch, as well as Al Jazeera, and the Asia Times.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Education Beat--#2

The Education Beat--Week #2 by John Konopak, Ph.D. (LSU, 1989, Education)
Strike Three...But NOT Out.

Against the backdrop of the not entirely successful (to put it kindly) Chicago school strike last month, youthful Chicago education critric/music producer/school activist Luis Gabriel Aguilera composed the following, self-published essay which he posted widely, but which hasn't found a publisher yet. Aguilera, in his own words, "connects the dots as to why current "education reform" is not working in Chicago and elsewhere and suggests possible solutions."
Don’t be fooled, the strike in Chicago wasn’t just about teachers fighting over salary increases. No, this strike was a backlash to the diverse abuses that have been ongoing and increasing over the years from a disastrous Chicago Public Schools central office micromanaging culture that today permeates throughout the district, coupled with close and faraway chieftains simply calling the wrong shots on education reform.
He sees not teachers,a and not parents, but the central Administration as the bad guys in the piece.

Keeping the World Flat:

Last weekend, the well-known Moustache of Mediocrity, Tom Friedman, beshat the pages of the NYTimes with a column on "Obama's secret 'successes,' " among which he enumerated the Shamwow/Arne Duncan "Race To The Top" plan, a thinly disguised bribery/extortion plot by the CorpoRats to assume control (and the HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of dollars spent) in schools.
The purpose of Race to the Top, Secretary Duncan explained to me, was basically to say that if we now live in a world where every good high-wage job requires more skill, we need to get as many of our schools as possible educating their students “to college- and career-ready standards,” measured against the best in the world, because that is whom our kids will be competing against. “We have to educate our way to a better economy,” Duncan argues. “The path to the middle class today runs straight through the classroom.”
Strangely, the path also leads to MORE regimentation of the school and the curriculum (Duncan used to favor Military-academy style pedagogy for the Underclasses when he ran things in Chicago), increased influence of CorpoRats in the Classrooms, and the destruction of (you guessed it) Teachers' Unions.

Voting On Charters:
Charters on the ballot in Wash. St.--a policy analysis...
Voters in Washington State--one of those which adopted the Progressive-era expedient originally designed to attack the power of the Oligarchs with grass-roots activism, via the "initiative" process, but which was subsequently perverted and usurped by "astro-turf" Corporat interests--will face the prospect of ratifying or defeating a Corporat-sponsored measure that would create a "separate, and unequal" system of Charter schools which would operate in effect independently of the rest of Washington's schjools. U-Dub professor and school policy wonk Dr. Wayne Au analyses the proposals and outlines his objections in a worst-case scenario that is pretty chilling:
An out-of-state charter management organization (CMO) establishes non-profit status/operations in WA State;
This CMO works with a slim majority of teachers (or parents) to convert a high performing school or a low performing school to a charter, and they do so with no notification to the other teachers or parents;
The appointed state commission on charters approves the charter and conversion;
The out-of-state CMO selects its own charter school board to oversee its charter school;
Parents and students at the newly converted charter school have to make a decision about either dispersing to other schools or remaining at the new charter;
The CMO, perhaps backed by real estate investors or with real estate investors selected for the charter school board, purchases the converted school at below market value;
The CMO goes bankrupt or there is fiscal mismanagement or there are other ethical/legal issues (all of which have happened elsewhere) and the converted charter closes OR the charter school does not show academic improvement and is eventually closed as a “failed” school. Either way the now-closed building (purchased at below market value) is sold to developers at a profit to the real estate investors (Under I-1240, the only money that has to be returned to the district is that which they got from the students. All other monies return to outside funders. If outside monies purchased the school “for” the charter, then they get their money – i.e. their purchase – back). Parents, teachers, and students from the closed school have absolutely no recourse because the appointed charter school board has been disbanded due to failure. And I’m not sure if it would be “worse” if this happened to a lower or a HIGHER achieving school.
Understanding this is the WORST-CASE, there is still a LOT of room for screw-ups of only SLIGHTLY less severity. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Towards A More Global Vision
Lest you reach this point and are depressed by the nearly unrelieved gloom attending most discussions of schooling in the USofA, we leave you this week with this optimistic encomium for re-imagined schools, curricula, and teaching profession about Prof. Andy Hargreaves, a visionary 'ed leadership' guru at Boston College.
Hargreaves' book, The Global Fourth Way: The Quest for Educational Excellence (Corwin Press 2012), co-authored with Dennis Shirley, reveals the key qualities behind the high performance of some of the world's top educational systems: Singapore, Finland and Canada. His most recent book, Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School (Teacher's College Press 2012), co-authored with international reform expert Michael Fullan, sets out a clear vision as to how to achieve high return from all teachers and teaching. Andy Hargreaves is the Thomas More Brennan Chair in Education at Boston College. He studies and advises on high performance in schools and educational systems around the world.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

WWH/CJE Soap Box: The National Skinner Box

I know I've trod some of this ground before, but the meme keeps cropping up, and it needs to be redressed...
This "pious presidential bullshit" prose just frosts my goddam ass!
I don't care if it is the sainted FDR. It's still blaming the victims, period.
People don't "tolerate the growth of private fucking power!" 
They don't "let" the oligarchs and aristos buy up their fucking country. They don't sell off their Congresscritters to the highest bidders. They don't put business lackeys in important regulatory positions for vital industries and products.
The PEOPLE don't start wars, don't invade harmless nations for wealth or influence. 

All those things happen, of course; but the people have no fucking CHOICE in the matter.
The Owners, Oners, and Oligarchs didn't waltz in and blithely announce they were taking over, didn't say: Here, let's vote on it. They just DID it.

And for all their fatuous flap-jowling, the "sainted" leaders of their polis--OUR polis--don't try to stop it; they don't DARE!
So it's shoved down their/our throats--we are induced to swallow it like broccoli at the familial table--as "the price of liberty" or "good for the economy," or "healthy for their kids," or some other happy horse-shit, the net result of which is that the CorpoRats consolidate power and fuck the people.
That's blaming the victims...
The USer people have been citizens of an ever-increasingly more pervasive, ubiquitous, complex, and persuasive Skinner box since even BEFORE BF Skinner, back in the Teens of the last Century when Edward Bernays effectively coimbined the efficiency, ends-justify-means instrumental 'rationality' of industrial Taylorism, the bare-bones behaviorism of Pavlov, and the sexually founded psychology of his old uncle Sigmund, and from all that created "Public Relations," a benign sounding euphemism for the manipulations, distortions, and disfigurations of truth in the service of Capital and the manufacture of consent to its voracious, destructive, immanently contradicted demands.

Are you straight? Gay? Bi? When did you choose?

Answer, I believe, is: You didn't choose. It always just was. Like your language. 
People haven't had meaningful choices in the public debate since the 30s, at least. It's been settled. It's in the books. And it's what people believe, in overwhelming numbers. They/we've been trained to see it only one way. They/we've been rewarded for compliance AND punished for resistance. They/we're entirely immersed in an artificial, voyeuristic, saturated media environment where their/our every emotion, every thought, every experience is mediated, interfered with, interrupted by carefully designed stimulus/response cues. 
Do lab rats have choice?
Once a dog is trained, it doesn't HAVE to think when you tell it to sit. It just sits. We're all trained mutts, under the whip of Charles Taylor's technical, ends-justify-means morality of efficiency, Pavlov's barbarous behaviorism, and Freud's sexual psycho-pathology.
Welcome to "The Biggest Skinner Box in history: the boundaries are kept by the flickering, blue screens, everywhere.

Not only every TV show, but every app on your IPod/notebook/smart fone is another Skinnerian doggie treat rewarding you for NOT stamping the infernal machine into toxic scrap and turning your justified rage into the streets and at the whited sepulchres of Capital.
Woof, woof, hippies!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

As the Cookie Crumbles: Anecdote Is Not Data; Person Is Not Party!

A correspondent on Fbook hung up this poster on the Wall and took me to task me for continuing to insist that the differences between Dims and GOPhux are insignificant, him citing the mere presence of this appalling assortment of shitwhistles, drooling fools, fucknozzles and ass-wholes as evidence. Surely, there aren't any such ignoramae among the Dims, right?

I replied: You make the same mistake, over and over, Bubba!

There are indeed individual differences between members of the two parties. Nobody disputes that. Mutt Rmoney is NOT St. Barry...There is no equivalent to Michelle Bachmann on the other side of the aisle.

But that's a specious argument, disingenuous, at best.  The claim that they're the essentially the SAME doesn't rest on individual psychopathies.

Where the similarities reside, and where it is impossible NOT to observe them, is in the area of the respective agendas of the PARTIES!

  • Both are pro-war and support global, military adventurism; both support the continued slaughter of innocents in Central Asia in the name of "counter-insurgency" and rumored stores of natural resources;
  • Both are advocates of increased electronic surveillance of citizens' private communications, and of the Internet generally;
  • Both support the TPP and "Free Trade," in general, which undermines national AND local sovereignty in "trade," labor, and environmental matters;
  • Both support the NDAA's provisions for 'preventative' detention and extra-judicial assassination;
  • Both support for-profit health "Insurance" rather than single-payer, universal health care;
  • Both support increased privatization of the public sphere, especially the privatization/charter-ization of public schools, and the corporatization of what's left of the Commons;
  • Both support expanded nuclear and hydro-carbon exploration and exploitation; both dismiss the threats of the climate change crisis; both have blocked meaningful remediative legislation, and both have opposed proposals to expand subsidies to alternative energy sources..
  • Both advocate for and welcome larger roles in Government for CorpoRats in domestic affairs and are willing participants in the CorpoRatization of the People's institutions, such as the Presidency, the Congress, and the Courts;
  • Both attack "entitlements" for the weakest members of society yet support 'em for the wealthy.
There's more. I could go on, but you get the point, don't you?.

It would be untrue and indeed specious to claim there were no "differences" between the INDIVIDUAL candidates.

But it is equally specious to claim there are NOT significant and highly suggestive similarities, even identities,  between the PARTIES on such vital, global issues, which bear on our very survival.

If you have further differences, we can take them up when I see you out in the line-up, chers!


OH, and if you're looking forward to the weekend, thank a Union member...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Law of Discovery

I had spaced out Columbus Day, even though there were plenty of reminders. In my "fixed" memory, Columbus Day is October 12 (which also happens to be the birthday of my brother, Pete). NOT the "second Monday in October." I was indeed, puzzled by the outpourings of rabid anti-Columbusism far in advance of the "actual" date. Finally, the light dawned when I went by the bank and it was closed.

In recent decades, Columbus Day has lost some of it's charm, its proto-patriotic luster dimmed somewhat by historical analyses which brought perspectives to bear OTHER than those of the conquering heroes of Spain and Europe. The victors write the histories, and Columbus' reputation prospered for many years. Eventually, though, the records of those expeditions became public and they do not flatter the Great Man. Those were primitive times, but what the Imperious Europeans did to the indigenous populations in "discovering" the "New World" reveals a barbarism in our most treasured and iconic events which is or should be disturbing for its latency in our own actions.

There was a placard on FBook today which proclaimed: "Act like Columbus, today: Go to a stranger's house, and tell 'em you're gonna live there from now on, Oh, and bring me your money and your women and children." 

Because the Europeans knew exactly what they were doing and they had had the foresight to lend the authority of "the Law" to their explorations and conquests. And they got THAT from the HIGHEST authority they had.

The Catholic Church/Holy Roman Empire, in 1453, decreed the "doctrine of discovery" to provide "legal" cover, retroactively upon the Portuguese who had sailed along the coast of Africa, plundering, conquering and enslaving native people, all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope by 1480. It essentially gave the imprimatur of Church authority to commissioned actions conducted by good Catholics to spread the Gospel and expand the domains of the Lord.

This doctrine was eventually expanded to cover the Spanish, French, and Italians who went conquering, returning vast revenues to the Kings and Churches, while "spreading the Gospel."

So successfully was the Gospel spread that, in 1555 (or so), at Valladolid, in Spain, there was a great debate, sponsored by the Emperor Philip, himself, to decide whether the off-spring which the Spaniards had fathered on indigenous women were in fact endowed with souls, and therefore human. 

This was an issue because, prior to that time, the Church and the Crown had regarded the Indigenous People as "inhumans," without souls; so it didn't matter HOW they were abused. And abused they were, with chattel slavery, rape, killing labor in mines and other enterprises, to say nothing of the charming practice of feeding unwanted newborns to their dogs.

Bartholomeo De las Casas, a Franciscan who'd accompanied Cortez, argued for the humanity of the "Indians" and won the academic point. The "souls" of the victims were saved. But I doubt it prevented the Spaniards in the colonies from enslaving their own children when it suited them. 

It didn't stop the much more enlightened Thomas Jefferson from keeping HIS own children begot on his slave women in shackles 250 years later...

Friday, October 5, 2012

As The Cookie Crumbles: Debate Ain't Just For Catching Fish...

It was all over the Tubez this morning! HEADLINE: "Rmoney WINS!"

Sub-head: National Kabuki Theatre Wows the Rubes!

In the most recent installment of the Late "Great Debate," the "bar" was set so low for Rmoney's "success" that all he had to do was not step on his dick. 

He didn't; at least, nobody called him on ANY of the numerous occasions when an active moderator-- someone NOT fellating the CorpoRats with his every breath, fearful of giving ANY offense, deferential as a eunuch-- might have added a cautionary follow-up question when faced with Any of a DOZEN or so absolute HOWLERS from the Re-Mitt-ance  Man's repertoire of "zingers," --WHICH statements anyone with the percipience of a coral polyp would have immediately known were as phony as the piety  of a pederast priest.

The aging, feckless, ineffectual, pathetic Jim Lehrer was more toothless than a wanker's sock-puppet. One may only HOPE that Lehrer's done his last prostate-salving lick for the powerful on the national stage. 

St. Barry, the Pallid, PRIMARILY was anxious NOT to give ANY critics ANY grounds to accuse him of being or acting like, or pretending to be, or resembling, in ANY shape or form, an "angry Black man," and (what amounts to the same thing) to persuade the "independents" of his "pragmatism and reasonableness." 
Another word for it is "flannel-mouthed."

It appeared that St. Barry faltered awkwardly, when he could have replied professorially: When he was asked about the role of government, he appeared to be stumped...

On the role of government?


That's a total, non-partisan, non-threatening, Constitutional slam-fucking DUNK. Hell, it's a rebound, floor-bounce, off the backboard and through the strings SHOW TIME Dunk, for a former Constitutional Law professor! Or SHOULD be.

All he had to say was: "Here's what the founders thought," and recite the Preamble of the Constitution. It encompasses in just about 50 words everything anybody anytime ever needs to know about the "purpose" of Government, and it goes something like this:

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
I mean, seriously? THAT's fucking why we have "government!" How hard izzat?

But the goddam Constitutional Law professor President didn't have a fucking clue? 
Really? Or he knew, but was afraid to reply?

In either case, that's just fucking pathetic, hippies.

We can measure HOW pathetic when I see you at the beach...