"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Reporting Jim Horn to the Professor Watchlist

Turning Point USA is small group of white young asshats who can't wait for the second coming of Adolf Hitler.  One of their "projects" is to create a McCarthyistic list of professors who have the audacity to exercise their Constitutional rights in and out of the classroom.  

I hope that every professor in the U. S. will self-report her guilt as I did today. Click below to enlarge.


Ravitch Charter Position Gets the Jay Mathews Seal of Approval

Yesterday on "Giving Tuesday" both FairTest and NPE were beating the bushes for donations to prop up their unacknowledged corporate union support of privatization via charter schools and depersonalized learning via computer screens. 

A year ago NPE and FairTest were appealing for support for passage of ESSA, whose chief architect and Senate sponsor, Lamar Alexander, supported a states rights model for ESEA that would give conservative state legislatures (two thirds are Republican) control of billions of Federal dollars that, historically, have been used to provide educational resources for the disadvantaged.  With AFT and NEA on board the Alexander money train, NPE and FairTest could not afford to remain on the platform.

Lamar's version of ESSA passed, of course, and Diane Ravitch turned over her blog to Alexander's Washington office to explain to her readers the virtues of what is essentially a massive federal giveaway program for segregated charter privatization and deeper infusions of the computer tutor to replace teachers.  

Last week Ravitch gave Jay Mathews the chance to announce her support for "non-profit" charter schools and to, therefore, soften the blow for teachers when they see the same charter-friendly rhetoric coming from their union reps.  

Ravitch's position mirrors the Weingarten/Clinton position, which supports more disabled children in the "no excuses" non-profit" segregated hell schools where special services are few or none.  

Ravitch could have made her support for charters conditional on school climate, classroom management conditions, or socioeconomic mix, but she did not. Oh well.

With regards to charter schools, then, the difference between Ravitch and Betsy DeVos is that DeVos also supports for-profit charters.  

As for Lamar Alexander, he loves both Diane and Betsy.  Then, why wouldn't he?


Monday, November 28, 2016

Understanding KIPP Model Charter Schools: Part 14

Below is Part 14 from my book, Work Hard, Be Hard: Journeys through "Excuses" Teaching.  

Earlier parts can be found at this blog by searching on the title of the blog entry, followed by the part number.

Chapter 14
A Model Whose Time Has Past

Since its beginning in 1994, the KIPP Model has focused on getting economically disadvantaged students to and through college.  As the first KIPP schools were grades 5-8, the long-term goal of college makes some sense as a motivator, even though higher education means high school for most fifth graders, KIPP or no KIPP.  Most often college remains a distant dream for children whose poverty levels have excluded them and their families from that experience in the past. 
With KIPP now expanding its reach into early elementary grades and even Pre-K, the focus on college may make for attractive classroom posters, but the value of college can hardly be viewed as a realistic motivator for children in these early grades.  In fact, KIPP’s insistence of the singular goal of attaining a college education in some “remote future” (Dewey, 1897) serves to distract from the integration of young children’s experiences or the healthy development of empathetic understanding.  Working to make children’s schooling more in tune requirements for working and playing together may have a greater moral force than any of the “performance character” regimen designed by “positive” psychologists in search of interventions to alter children’s neural landscapes to fit the compliance requirements of the KIPP Model.  
The festooning of KIPP Model school hallways with university pennants and the labeling of classrooms with college names may serve to motivate adults in the school, but elementary age children are less likely to be affected by these memorabilia, as Dewey (1897) astutely noted over a century ago:
. . .much of present education. . . conceives the school as a place where certain information is to be given, where certain lessons are to be learned, or where certain habits are to be formed. The value of these is conceived as lying largely in the remote future; the child must do these things for the sake of something else he is to do; they are mere preparation. As a result they do not become a part of the life experience of the child and so are not truly educative (Article II, para 10).
Like many of Dewey’s insights, the ones related to limits of children’s abilities to conceive a distant goal have been borne out by research (Scott & Steinberg, 2008; Eccles, 1999).  Adolescents’ capacity in this regard is based on developmental schedules and environmental realities, rather than adult insistence.  The total failure of drug education programs like DARE (Lyman et al, 1999) and the common failure of sexual abstinence programs are not due to the lack of commitment of the programs’ instructors, but to the failure to acknowledge the limited capacity among children and adolescents to reflect on and base present conduct on potential future outcomes.
In considering the effects of KIPP’s remonstrations on the 80 percent of children who begin fifth grade at KIPP and never finish college, we must question the rigidity of the non-negotiable goal of college graduation for every KIPPster.  When combined with KIPP’s behavioral strategies aimed to have students internalize all responsibility for shortcomings or failure to attain KIPP’s adult goals, whether now or in the future, the unrealistic college goals place enormous stress on already-stressed KIPP children.  For the 8 out of 10 KIPP children who begin 5th grade at KIPP and never graduate from college, we can imagine the debilitating effects, when many KIPPsters come to weigh their success or failure in life on the basis of a life outcome chosen for them by KIPP. 
A dramatic example of the importance of KIPP’s college graduation indoctrination was provided during the 2014 KIPP Summit in Houston (KIPP Foundation, 2015e) when an aspiring teacher and former KIPPster, Juanita Davis, recounted a violent episode in her life when she thought she was going to be killed by the father of her child:  “If you ever wonder what will go through your head before you think you’re about to leave this earth—it’s an experience I hope no one has to have, but I remember staring down the barrel of that gun, experiencing the most traumatic event of my life—and the only thing I could think of was that I never earned a college degree.”
Considering the sad fact that a disproportionate number of non-privileged students who attend college end up, if they graduate, with bottom-tier college degrees from online or for-profit colleges, we may ask who is being advantaged by insisting on college for those who must borrow heavily to obtain degrees that may or may not be worth the years of indebtedness and sacrifice that former students cannot escape. In a study by Education Trust (Lynch, Engle, & Cruz, 2011), the authors examined 1,200 colleges with comparable data to determine,
1.    how many colleges enroll a proportion of low-income students that is at least as high as the national average.
2.    how many colleges ask these students to pay a portion of their family income no greater than what the average middle-income student pays for a bachelor’s degree.
3.    how many colleges offer all students at least a 1-in-2 chance at graduation (p. 3).
Researchers found five colleges and universities of the 1,200 that met the three criteria. 
         Of more concern, still, are student experiences with for-profit colleges of questionable academic reputation and documented histories of preying on the poor and vulnerable (Golden, 2010; U. S. Government Accounting Office, 2010).  These “diploma mills” enroll a larger percentage of low-income students like KIPPsters than any other type of college, whether private or public.  In 2012, 46 percent of students enrolled at for-profit colleges were from families making less than $30,000 per year, whereas the percentage of low-income students at private non-profit and public four-year colleges was 18.1 percent and 21.9 percent, respectively (Choi, 2014).
         KIPP students who do manage to graduate from legitimate institutions with large debt burdens must face stiff competition in tighter job markets for most college majors.  Since 2010, in fact, the demand for non-college jobs outpaced jobs requiring college degrees.  In 2012, over one million Americans with four-year college degrees who were heads of household earned less than $25,000 per year (Eichelberger, 2014).
We may wonder if the facts will catch up with the non-negotiable No Excuses ideology, or if the KIPP Foundation and its philanthropic supporters will remain undeterred by facts as they attempt to compel teachers and students to superhuman feats in order to further burnish the KIPP brand and the other No Excuses brand names.  Will support for KIPP’s lucrative colonization of urban schools be re-directed by the knowledge that “the number of [U. S.] households with children living on less than $2 a day per person has grown 160 percent since 1996, to 1.65 million families in 2011” (Eichelberger, 2014). 
Or would such facts, if known, simply underscore for KIPP’s corporate missionaries and their backers the vital need for their mission?  Will the unwavering insistence on the college-degree solution for segregated KIPP students be influenced by data that show a college degree “does not significantly reduce racial disparity” (Cohen, 2014), or that the demand for college jobs is flat as the demand for non-college jobs is on the increase (see Figure 14.1)?  Will the decided disadvantage of black college graduates in the job market influence the KIPP modelers’ implacable insistence that working hard and being nice is enough to counter the racism and classism that KIPPsters will surely face if they are fortunate enough to earn degrees?
In 2015, Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman (2015a) provided the following chart (Figure 14.2), which shows shrinking earnings beginning in 2000 for the shrinking numbers of college jobs.  Krugman (2015b) casts doubt on the common claim by KIPP supporters that “achievement gaps” are fueling a “skills gap,” which must be addressed by improving education so that more raw knowledge more widely dispersed can be transformed into usable power that will solve the problem of inequality. 
Krugman (2015b) suggests, instead, that believing, or pretending to believe, that inequality as simply an education problem is an “evasion” that represents a “deeply unserious fantasy” (para 13):  As for wages and salaries, never mind college degrees — all the big gains are going to a tiny group of individuals holding strategic positions in corporate suites or astride the crossroads of finance. Rising inequality isn’t about who has the knowledge; it’s about who has the power” (para 11).
In light of shifting economic and workforce trends, we must question the choice among policy makers who insist that disadvantaged children grow up attending total compliance “choice” schools where their future has been chosen for them.   It would seem to make more sense to develop school programs and learning conditions that acknowledge that we cannot “foretell definitely just what civilization will be twenty years from now,” as John Dewey (1897) pointed out back before automobiles replaced horse-drawn carriages. 
No doubt it would be more practical, humane, and rewarding for both children and society, alike, to have schools that prepare children for uncertain futures by putting them in “complete possession” of all their intellectual, moral, and emotional powers and skills, rather than emphasizing the refinement of a new batch of psychological gimmicks aimed to make poverty more palatable to the poor while offering a fantasy version of social justice.
Clearly related to KIPP’s assumptions about children’s capacity to be motivated by distant goals beyond their immediate or intermediate horizons are the ill-advised total compliance policies and practices that further inhibit possibilities for healthy development among disadvantaged children and adolescents.   We know, for instance, that children from high poverty environments often exhibit attachment anxiety more so than children in socioeconomically sound environments, and we also know that the less securely-attached children are least able to tolerate frustrating situations or to be able to delay gratification. 
Moore (2006) found that “a secure attachment promotes a sense of trust in the future as well as a sense of trust in others” (p. 200).  The constant churn created by teacher attrition and replacements in KIPP model schools only adds to the impermanence and attachment anxiety that children already feel.  Child stress is exacerbated and self-blaming displaces chances for self-efficacy when “zero tolerance” punishment schedules, “straightjacket” behavioral expectations, and demands for more self-control and grit are imposed by temporary teachers whose educational and cultural histories are entirely detached from urban realities.
The KIPP Model schools defy or remain unaware of these evidence-based realities, and the No Excuses formulae exacerbate the problems that the KIPP Model purports to solve.  Emotional support cannot occur where teachers are allowed and encouraged to yell and scream at children or to be “militant” in their demeanor.  Student autonomy cannot survive where children are harshly punished for even minor infractions of rules and forced to remain silent, on-guard, and docile.  Students cannot trust or form relationships with important adults where the adults are being replaced every year or two.  Without the active help from those who are financially able, yet unwilling, to help end poverty, demanding more from children who have the least will never make them the most they might be.
It is doubtful that entrenched reformers with paternalistic agendas will be re-routed by either logic or compassion from their long-standing mission. As long as generous public funding continues to support corporate reform school endeavors and/or as long as the same reformulated reforms result in the initiation of new ideologues convinced that public problems are best addressed by “market based” solutions, we will see a continuing push for more No Excuses urban chain gangs that pursue their inhumane and miseducative ends by “any means necessary.”
What we can expect from the new (and old) paternalists is a renewed crusade, in fact, to alter the children of the poor in ways that will encourage further shrinkage of our social and ethical infrastructures and the growth of new, more lucrative revenue streams for publicly-funded and privately-operated education.
References
Choi, L.  (2014, January 10).  For-profit colleges and the student debt crisis.  San Francisco: Federal Bank of San Francisco.  Retrieved from http://www.frbsf.org/community-development/blog/for-profit-colleges-and-the-student-debt-crisis/
Cohen, P.  (2014, December 24).  For recent black college graduates, a tougher road to employment.  The New York Times.   Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/25/business/for-recent-black-college-graduates-a-tougher-road-to-employment.html?_r=0
Dewey, J.  (1897). My pedagogic creed.  New York: E. L. Kellogg & Co.  Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/mypedagogiccree00dewegoogw
Eccles, J.  (1999, Fall).  The development of children ages 6 to 14.  Future Child, 9 (2), 30-44.
Eichelberger, E.  (2014, March/April).  10 poverty myths busted.  Mother Jones.  Retrieved from http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/10-poverty-myths-busted
Golden, D.  (2010, April 29).  Homeless high school dropouts lured by for-profit colleges.  Bloomberg.com.  Retrieved from  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-04-30/homeless-dropouts-from-high-school-lured-by-for-profit-colleges-with-cash.html
Krugman, P.  (2015a). Rip van skillsgap.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/rip-van-skillsgap/?_r=0
Krugman, P.  (2015b).  Knowledge isn’t power.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/23/opinion/paul-krugman-knowledge-isnt-power.html
Lyman, D. et al.  (1999).  Project DARE: No effects at 10-year follow-up.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67 (4), 590-593.  Retrieved from http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/HomePage/Class/Psy394Q/Behavior%20Therapy%20Class/Assigned%20Readings/Substance%20Abuse/DARE.pdf
Lynch, M., Engle, J., & Cruz, J.  (2011).  Priced out: How the wrong financial-aid policies hurt low-income students.  Washington, DC: Education Trust.  Retrieved from http://www.edtrust.org/sites/edtrust.org/files/PricedOutFINAL.pdf
Moore, C.  (2006).  The development of common sense psychology.  New York: Taylor and Francis.
Scott, E., & Steinberg, L.  (2008, Fall).  Adolescent development and the regulation of youth crime.  Future Child, 18 (2), 15-33.
U. S. Government Accounting Office.  (2010, August 4).  For-profit colleges: Undercover testing finds colleges encouraged fraud and engaged in deceptive and questionable practices.  Washington, DC: U. S. Government Accounting Office.  Retrieved from http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10948t.pdf


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ravitch's Pick, Betsy Devos, Is Also Trump's Pick

When Diane Ravitch came out with a statement of support (satirical, was it?) for Betsy Devos as Secretary of Education, I had just finished reading Jay Mathews' column that celebrates the coalescing of his and Diane's views on charter schools.  Here's part of their ongoing dialogue between Mathews and Ravitch:
I asked Ravitch: Would you shut down charters altogether, even if some were run by dedicated educators who were giving students more than they got in their regular public schools? At this critical moment for charter schools, with Ravitch so influential on the anti-charter side, her answer is important. 
“I would call a moratorium for all new charters,” Ravitch said. “All charters would be required to be financially and academically transparent.” She would ban for-profit charters. Charters would have to fill all empty seats each year, she said, so average test scores would not rise just because low-performing students had left. Charters would have to have the same demographics as regular schools in their neighborhoods, she said, with the same portion of students with disabilities and students learning English.
It's too bad that Ravitch still advocates for more special needs students suffering in the no excuses hell schools, where they receive few services if any.  And it's too bad she remains silent on the zero tolerance forms of cultural sterilization that the KIPP Model has made infamous.  Somehow she and the troglodytes of the DNC believe that more children being damaged in charters that drain public education budgets is a good thing.  

Surely the selection of Betsy Devos, whose is an avid for-profit charter fan, will make the NEA/AFT/NPE/DNC embrace of "non-profit" charters sound more reasonable to the clueless sheeple who still embrace her neoliberalism.

Ms. DeVos and her husband, Dick, have been the propelling force behind the rapid expansion of charter schools in Michigan, as founders of the Great Lakes Education Project. The state has one of the most generous charter school laws in the nation, allowing an unusually large number of colleges, universities, and school districts to grant charters, with little state oversight.
An unusually high percentage of the charters — about 80 percent — are operated for profit. In Detroit, which has the nation’s second-highest share of students in charter schools, the charters have been characterized by a high churn of students, teachers, as well as the companies that operate the schools. Even groups that support charters have pushed to establish stricter oversight, but legislation to do so failed last spring, largely because of lobbying by the DeVos’ group.


The chart is from Mother Jones. 

Jeff Sessions, Alabama's Chief Segregationist

Before Jeff Sessions became a United States senator, he was Attorney General for the State of Alabama.  His chief accomplishment was to lead a battle against equal funding between white and black school districts in the state.  

Good preparation, no doubt, for his role as chief prosecutor and enforcer of segregation and social injustice at the federal level. 


. . . .Nearly 30 of Alabama’s poorest school districts, with support from disability rights groups, civil rights organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit against the state. The most vocal critics of school reform, including the far-right activist Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, warned that it would bring “socialism” to Alabama.
After nearly three years of litigation, Judge Eugene W. Reese of the Alabama Circuit Court found the inequitable funding unconstitutional and ordered the state to come up with a system to remedy the inequity.
Attorney General Sessions led the battle against the decision. He argued that Judge Reese had overreached. It was a familiar war cry on the segregationist right: An activist court was usurping the power of the state’s duly elected officials to solve the problem on their own. For the next two years, Mr. Sessions sought to discredit Judge Reese and overturn his ruling. In one of the twists of austerity budgeting in the mid-1990s, Mr. Sessions had laid off 70 lawyers in the attorney general’s office, and had to find outside counsel to handle the case. Lawyers working on contract for the office were to be paid no more than $85 per hour, but for the challenge to the equity case, the fee cap was lifted.
Mr. Sessions was lauded by fellow Republicans for his efforts. They saw funding inequities as part of the natural order of things, not as a problem to be remedied. And any remedy would entail either the redistribution of funds from wealthier to poorer districts or an increase in taxes. Both positions ran against the small-government, privatization dogma that Mr. Sessions promoted. . . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump Refuses to Condemn Nazi Salutes in His Honor

At the core of Trumpism is group of white pencil-necked young losers who see in Trump the restoration of an unchallenged white privilege that was born from black slavery, nurtured by a white racist legal system, and fine-tuned in a uniquely-American brand of rapacious capitalist plutocracy.

These new ranks of white nationalist nazis met in DC this past weekend in what was planned as loser angerfest, but with Trump's unexpected Electoral College win (he lost the citizen vote by almost 2 million votes), a victory party erupted into Nazi salutes and quotes from Adolf Hitler.

And this kind of breath-taking hate-based support is exactly what Trump refuses to condemn.  This, then, is the beginning of push to kill American democratic institutions and to insert a white nationalist totalitaritarian regime in its place.

It will fail if we act to make it fail; it will succeed if we do nothing to stop it.  Trump is doing nothing.



Saturday, November 19, 2016

ELOs: How Community-Based Learning Advances the Cyber Education agenda

from Wrench in the Gears
November 19, 2016



This is the third installment in a series on learning ecosystems. For more information see these related posts: “Future Ready” schools and digital badges.

A key tenet of Ed Reform 2.0 is “anytime any place learning.” Detaching education from the normal school day and physical school buildings will permit the transfer of face-to-face classroom instruction to digital platforms. Once implemented, these systems of “personalized learning” will efficiently extract children’s data so their futures can be channeled through black box algorithms, while significantly reducing staff costs since online instructors can theoretically “teach” thousands of children at a time. If reformers were up front about it, “Future Ready Schools” would be a much harder sell. And since they are nothing if not expert at framing their issues, my belief is that they intend to use Extended/Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs) as cover for this planned cyber takeover. Most Americans would never willingly trade neighborhood schools for a chrome book education, but reformers will sell the public on project-based learning in communities while minimizing the central role devices are intended to play. Out-of-School-Time (OST) learning will be presented as a welcome relief, an antidote even, to the harm wrought by No Child Left Behind. It’s all part of the plan, so please don’t be fooled.

ELOs are learning experiences that by definition happen OUTSIDE the classroom. This makes them a perfect foil for digital learning. These learning opportunities, pitched as experiential and hands-on, will readily capture the imaginations of students and parents who have been steamrolled by the test-and-punish system. In selling the 21st Century “redesigned” ecosystem version of education, reformers will play up exciting partnership programs like robotics, filmmaking, and CTE apprenticeships. There will be allusions to educational technology, its importance for 21st century work force skills, but the extent to which this new version of public education relies on adaptive, data-mined modules will be downplayed.

ELOs are vastly different from school-community partnerships of the past. We’re not talking about an organization working closely with a teacher or group of teachers and their classes on a unit of instruction- planning field trips, research opportunities, projects and presentations. This is not about collaboration, organizations coming INTO schools to do their work. No. ELOs are about sending students OUTSIDE schools, individually, to earn credit towards graduation by demonstrating competencies tied to set national standards. While a teacher may work with a student to develop an ELO plan and monitor their progress, they have no instructional role in the process. They are essentially case managers handling the paperwork.

The Afterschool Corporation (TASC) is an ELO proponent. George Soros founded TASC in 1998 with funding from the Open Society Foundations. In 2012 TASC prepared a policy brief entitled “Learn Anytime, Anywhere: Rethinking How Students Earn Credit Beyond School Hours.” The document outlines strategies states can employ to expand opportunities for students to earn credit in alternative settings. Among those recommendations are:


Click here to read the entire article. 



Sessions: Too Racist to Be a Judge But Now Chief Prosecutor

Once again, the Klan is ecstatic about Trump's choice to enforce federal laws that he was considered to be too racist to judge from the federal bench.
(CNN)Jeff Sessions, the first US senator to endorse Donald Trump, has been one of the President-elect's top supporters so it's no surprise that he is being considered as a potential Cabinet member.

But with the new attention on Sessions -- who has emerged as the top candidate to be the next attorney general, according to a transition official, setting up a potential Senate confirmation hearing -- old allegations of racism against the Alabama Republican are sure to haunt him.

It was 30 years ago that Sessions was denied a federal judgeship. At the time, he was a 39-year-old US attorney in Alabama.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony during hearings in March and May 1986, that Sessions had made racist remarks and called the NAACP and ACLU "un-American."

Thomas Figures, a black assistant US attorney who worked for Sessions, testified that Sessions called him "boy" on multiple occasions and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying that he thought Klan members were "OK, until he learned that they smoked marijuana."

On why he never spoke up against Sessions' alleged use of the term, Figures testified: "I felt that if I had said anything or reacted in a manner in which I thought appropriate, I thought I would be fired."

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Trump's Racism Scaring Away Foreign Students

A clip from the NYTimes:
“It’s the main topic of conversation among my friends,” said Palak Gera, 21, who is applying to graduate programs in pharmaceutical science in North Carolina, Illinois and North Dakota. “They don’t want to apply to the U.S. under Trump.”

Aman Kumar, 18, who is looking at universities in California, said, “In his campaign, he’s discriminating against Muslim and other brown and black people,” adding, “I’m thinking of applying to Canada.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trump Uses .gov Site to Promote Melania's Business

From "Meet the Future First Lady" website (my bolds):
Mrs. Trump began a modeling career at age 16 and signed with a modeling agency in Milan.  She would pursue a degree at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, but paused her studies to advance her modeling career in Milan and Paris, before moving to New York in 1996.  She has appeared on the covers of a host of prominent magazines including the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Vanity Fair, GQ, and others.  She has appeared in television commercials for large corporate brands, and on popular television shows such as The View and The Celebrity Apprentice.  She also runs her own jewelry line called Melania Timepieces & Fashion Jewelry and sells on QVC.
In other White House corruption news, Trump's daughter, Ivanka, used her 60 Minutes appearance to hawk a ten thousand dollar bangle that she wore on the show.


Ben Carson Admits What Trump Won't: He's Not Qualified

Professor Eliot Cohen and former counsel to Condi Rice was asked by the teetering Trumpists to make recommendations on national security positions:
Eliot A. Cohen . . . said in an interview on Tuesday that a Trump transition aide asked him for recommendations for the national security team.

But when Mr. Cohen suggested the caveat that many foreign policy hands would only enlist if there were credible people leading national security agencies and departments, he said he received a vituperative email in response.

The tone of the email surprised him, he said, expressing a level of vengefulness at odds with an administration that is trying to fill important national security positions with qualified people.

“They think of these jobs as lollipops,” Mr. Cohen said. “I think we’re on the verge of a crisis here.”
In other news reported by the Times, Ben Carson will not be in the Trump Cabinet:
Ben Carson spent months trying to persuade voters to elect him president but, according to his spokesman, he does not think he is qualified to run a federal agency in the Trump administration.

According to Armstrong Williams, who is also Mr. Carson’s business manager, Mr. Trump offered the retired neurosurgeon a “buffet” of job options as a reward for being a loyal ally after dropping out of the race for the Republican nomination.

“The president-elect said, ‘Ben, tell me whatever you want to run, it will be yours,’” Mr. Williams recounted.

But Mr. Carson has no experience running large enterprises, Mr. Williams said, and did not think it would be a wise move to start in the new administration. Mr. Carson had been discussed as a candidate to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education or to be surgeon general.

The Anti-Otis As the New White House Minister of Hate


Those readers who are cool enough to be fans of the old Andy Griffith TV show will remember Otis Campbell, the lovable and good-hearted town drunk who made a habit of visiting the bootlegger, getting bombed, and turning himself in at the Mayberry jail, where he regularly locked himself into "his" own cell.

Donald Trump has just appointed the hateful and sinister Anti-Otis, Steve Bannon, as the new Chief Strategist and Chief Counsel to the President of the United States.

Now that it is sinking in that Trump has appointed the first white nationalist to a key White House position, the reaction has been swift, hard, and deep.  In the coming days, weeks, and months, alt-right media mogul, Steve Bannon, will be examined from historical and contemporary angles by journalists and bloggers, and his nazi values and policy influence will be clearly exposed at every turn.

Here is the police report that led Bannon to be charged with domestic violence 20 years ago.  According to Rachel Maddow's researchers, Bannon's wife later reported threats to their children if she appeared in court, and that is how the case ended in a dismissal. From Politico:
On Feb. 22, 1996, a complaint was filed against Bannon by the Santa Monica District Attorney’s office for misdemeanor domestic violence, battery, and dissuading a witness, according to Los Angeles County court dockets obtained by POLITICO.
The counts issued against Bannon in the domestic violence section include count 273.5(A), which according to the California Penal Code is “corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition” on a victim who is either a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, fiancĂ©, partner, or mother or father of the offender’s children.

Another count listed in the court records, 136.1(B)(1), is for seeking to “prevent or dissuade another person who has been the victim of a crime or who is witness to a crime” from reporting it to authorities.

The third count, 242, was for battery, which is defined under California law as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.”

On March 12, 1996, Bannon was arraigned. He pleaded not guilty to all the counts and was released on his own recognizance.

A jury trial was called on July 31, 1996, though the trial was “trailed,” meaning it was delayed.

On Aug. 12, 1996, the case was transferred to a different court, and was called for trial. According to the court records, however, the “victim/witness” was “unable to be located.” As a result, the judge ordered the case dismissed.




John Oliver on Trump: This is NOT Normal!

If you have not seen this and don't have HBO, make yourself a cup of coffee and start your day off right.