Peter Greene on the Diversification of the Koch(topus) Brand

No matter how pretty you wrap a present, when the wrapping is torn away and the box is opened and there’s nothing but toxic crap inside, did you learn anything about the sender?

Diane Ravitch's blog

Peter Greene explains how the Koch machine is creating new brands to hide its identity from the unsuspecting. The billionaires Charles and his late brother David were infamous for funneling Dark Money through front groups whose names sounded innocuous or inspiring. Now Charles Koch is reaching out to a new generation, attempting to pour his rancid wine into new bottles. One of the most insidious aspects of “reform” is the way it steals sweet-sounding names and attaches them to its odious goal of privatization. To understand the sham of “reform,” you need to understand that the words usually mean the opposite. “Reform” has nothing to do with reform; it is a cover for disruption and privatization.

Greene writes:

Remember when Charles Koch wrote that he had done an oopsie by being so partisan and dividing the country? That was back in late 2020, and it was followed by the…

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Robert Kuttner: Look Up!

A movie of our times. If you are a climate change denier, and/or an antivaxxer, and/or an anti-masker, and/or a Traitor Trump fascist MAGA loyalist, learning something isn’t for you, so just ignore this post. This movie is for people that still have open minds with critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect reviews the Netflix movie Don’t Look Up!

“Appreciate the brilliance of the season’s most profound, category-busting movie.”

Don’t Look Up is described as a parody of Trumpism and climate denial. It is elegantly that. But more importantly, the movie is a dead-on satire of the interconnected debasement of America’s politics, pop culture, conventional media, social media, spectacle, tech and corporate elite—and of how the corruption of each element corrupts the other, feeding the general cynicism and the craving for a fascist savior, political or corporate.

Credit goes to the director, writers, and producers: Adam McKay, David Sirota, Kevin Messick, and Ron Suskind. The public seems to grasp what this movie is about more than many critics.

Don’t Look Up is the top Netflix hit, so no spoiler alert is needed: A graduate student (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers that a comet is headed directly for Earth…

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This Is What Happened on January 6, 2021

Never forget Traitor Trump’s failed coup attempt that happened on January 6th in the US Capital, a day worse than Pearl Harbor and 9/11 in New York City. What makes January 6th worse? For the first time in US history, a mob of crazed fascists, US citizens (not Japanese soldiers or Islamic fundamentalists from the Middle East) attacked our capital with a goal to execute Vice President Pence and members of Congress that stood in Traitor Trump’s path to become the first ruthless dictator for life in the US.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Since there is now a deep partisan divide over what happened on January 6, it’s helpful to remember that there is extensive video footage of the events. Some footage was taken by the media, some by video cameras installed in the Capitol, some by police body cameras, and some by the participants who wanted to have a record of what they did. Hundreds of arrests have been made of participants in the riot; many recorded their actions. Others were identified by friends, acquaintances, and family members who recognized faces in the video and reported them to the FBI.

Anyone who believes that nothing unusual happened in January 6 should watch these videos, as should anyone who believes the intruders were peaceful. They were not peaceful. They brutally beat officers of the law that day.

On January 6, our democracy was in peril. If the intruders had managed to capture Vice…

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Holding Parents Accountable When Their Children Kill

Too many in the United States have an obsession with violence. Not surprising when we consider how many violent video games there are and how violent many TV series and movies there are. Then there’s the fact that firearms are too easy to get in the US.

Diane Ravitch's blog

This very important story appeared in the Washington Post.

She had seen her grandson’s red, spiral-bound notebook before that night, but now, as Catherine O’Connor sifted through its pages for the first time, what she read astonished her.

“School Shootings,” Joshua O’Connor had titled the first page, above a reconstruction of the Columbine High School massacre that left 13 people dead. In the pages that followed, Joshua, who’d just turned 18, described a detailed plan to carry out his own massacre: the shotguns, pistols, assault rifle and ammunition he would buy and the bombs he would build; the doors he would zip-tie “so bitches can’t escape”; the spot by the bleachers where he would set off the first explosion; the route he would take on his killing spree; the moment, when it was over, that he would end his own life.

“I Need to make this shooting/ bombing… infamous,” he…

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Capital & Main: The Story of an Unlikely Alliance

Learn from a former scheming, crooked, master enemy of labor unions how corporations lie, cheat, and manipulate to bust labor unions or keep them out.

Diane Ravitch's blog

In this article, Marcus Baram of Capital & Main describes a surprising alliance between a veteran labor organizer and his chief nemesis, a man who was a master of union-busting.

He begins:

They were certainly an odd couple, the unlikeliest of allies: the union organizer and the notorious union buster. Bob Muehlenkamp, a stalwart of the modern-day labor movement, has coordinated hundreds of union organizing campaigns and was the organizing director of the Teamsters and SEIU 1199, the hospital workers union. Martin Jay Levitt, a master of corporate skulduggery, did everything he could as a consultant hired by hundreds of companies to intimidate workers into not joining a union. Once, during an organizing effort marked by threats of violence at one of the country’s biggest hospital systems, Muehlenkamp was handcuffed and arrested for trespassing, Levitt relishing another victory as employees voted not to join a union. They were on…

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Rittenhouse Benefitted from a Well-Funded Defense Team

Millions of dollars was donated to pay for the lawyers that defended Rittenhouse in court leading to a jury verdict that Rittenhouse was innocent. The reason for those donations didn’t have anything to do with Rittenhouse being innocent or guilty. that money was spent to send a message that it was okay to kill people if those murders support white supremacy.

Diane Ravitch's blog

We have had some animated discussion on this blog about whether the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse was “fair,” since he walks away a free man despite murdering two men and maiming a third.

Paul Butler, a law professor at Georgetown University and a contributing columnist to the Washington Post, wrote on this subject today:

Kyle Rittenhouse beat his case because he put on the best defense money can buy.

Don’t believe the hype that Rittenhouse, who was prosecuted for homicide after shooting three people at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wis., in August 2020 was acquitted because self-defense cases are tough for prosecutors to win. More than 90 percent of people who are prosecuted for any crime, including homicide, plead guilty. The few who dare to go to trial usually lose — including in murder cases.

Rittenhouse’s $2 million legal defense funds enabled his lawyers, before his trial…

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Harold Meyerson: Manchin and Simena are not “Moderates”

Manchin and other Democrats that belong to the Corporate Money Gang are all “motherfuckers” and that is the nice descriptive word to describe these bought and paid for undercover corporate moles sent to infiltrate the U.S. Congress.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Harold Meyerson, one of my favorite commentators on current events, says that we should stop calling Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema “moderates.” How can one man and one woman block every proposal that would help improve the lives of millions of Americans, including their constituents? Nor should we use that term to describe the handful of Democrats in the House who are blocking reasonable and popular programs, like lowering drug prices. I note that I allow Meyerson to use a word that is not permitted on this blog…but he wrote it.

He writes:

Memo to Media: Stop Calling Manchin et al. ‘Moderates’
Being more swayed by big-money contributions and an anti-mother bias are far better descriptors.
“Moderates Hinder Efforts to Negotiate Drug Prices,” says a front-page headline in today’sWashington Post.Certain Democrats are indeed blocking those efforts, but is the media right to characterize them as moderates? How much…

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“Never for Glory,” a work in progress, the sequel to “The Patriot Oath”

Never for Glory is the unfinished sequel of The Patriot Oath. With 25 completed chapters, there are about 10 to 15 left to finish the first draft. The first five chapters have already been presented to two of the four critique groups I belong to. One of the two groups has heard all of The Patriot Oath. The second group hasn’t, and I am getting conflicting constructive criticism from the two groups. One group is suggesting a lot of changes, and the other group familiar with the first novel in the series likes what they’re hearing with little need for revisions. It’s confusing.

With this post, I’m inviting readers that have read The Patriot Oath to have a look at Never for Glory’s first chapter and, if willing, to leave comments letting me know what works, what doesn’t. Thank you. If this early preview works, I have another four chapters I’m willing to add to this post later.

Chapter One

After their first HALO jump together in 2002, Josh and Cheéte vanished into the Hindu Kush Mountains, a rugged area covering 160,000 square miles. Their orders had been to search for targets of opportunity, and for weeks they worked alone with little or no support.

Now, in 2019, seventeen years later, they were doing it again. Still, this time their C-130 belonged to The Oath Group, and it was 30,000 feet over Venezuela.

Getting ready for the repeat was like déjà vu all over again. Back then, they were Marine Corps scout snipers serving in Operation Anaconda against al-Qaeda, Taliban insurgents, and members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. That had been their last mission together. Cheéte retired a few months later in 2003.

“I can’t believe my ghillie suit still fits,” Josh said. “It feels the same, hot and heavy. Too bad DARPA wouldn’t let me use that invisible, bulletproof combat suit for this mission. It was perfect last summer for our sortie in Montana.”

Cheéte grunted as he finished squeezing into his old camouflaged ghillie suit. Once he had it on, he looked like an unkempt yeti that needed to lose some weight. “Well, some of us don’t always get what we want. You’ve been out for less than a year so I’m not surprised your suit fits, but I think mine is going to eat me like it’s a starving anaconda.”

They were talking to each other through their helmet’s military-grade communication units.

Josh grinned as he fastened a g-suit around his abdomen and legs, covering most of the camouflaged outfit he wore underneath. Then he manually inflated the g-suit’s five air bladders. The pressure around the muscles would prevent blood from pooling in the feet and legs and push blood pressure up to the heart and brain. The last thing he did was to attach the oxygen mask and tactical goggles.

With a frustrating sigh, huffing, and puffing, Cheéte managed to do the same thing. Once they were on the ground, they’d ditch the gear required for the HALO jump. Their ghillie suits were designed to conceal them from prying eyes.

Like most Marine Corps snipers, they’d made their own unique disguises by hand and, when not in use, stored them in sealed, plastic boxes lined in cotton and kept dry with silica gel packets.

“I’m worried my Christian Crow wife knows about my two other common law wives,” Cheéte said, interrupting Josh’s thoughts.

Josh did a double-take and stared at his old friend. “Whoa! Where the hell did that come from?”

“Well, in case I don’t make it home, I wanted you to know what’s going on in my life. My Christian wife said the only reason for sex is to create children for God. When I said no more kids, she cut me off. There’s no way I’m going without. I refuse to let my demons have an excuse to mess up my nights. What about you?”

“I have nothing to confess to anyone,” Josh replied.

“Ah, … what about Rachel and Mia?”

A green light came on, signaling that it was time to jump. At the same time, the C-130’s ramp started to yawn open, depressurizing the cabin.

Josh stood, ready to go.

“Well?” Cheéte asked.

“I haven’t had sex with anyone since Rachel was shot in San Francisco and is still in the hospital. So, I’m not that desperate.”  Finished, he walked off the aft ramp and dropped from sight, falling 30,000 feet toward the ground.

“Sheesh,” Cheéte hissed. “That’s not what I wanted to hear.” Then he was dropping with his belly pointed toward the ground, his chin lifted up, and his arms and legs spread out for stability.

As Josh fell hard and fast, he thought about Rachel and Mia. He’d lied to Cheéte. He was desperate, explaining why he was losing a lot of sleep. But he disagreed with the crap that sexual frustration was normal. So, shrug and take it in stride.

Bull shit! he thought. He couldn’t remember ever being celibate this long before.

The temptation to keep both of his lovers, as Mia had suggested, was almost overwhelming. But, when he thought about going through with it, he heard Dr. Tate’s voice telling him that would be wrong. Then there was the Christian guilt his mother instilled in him as a child with the Seventh Commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery.”

He still didn’t understand why his mother started preaching that to him when he was seven. It couldn’t have been because of his crush on Rachel in 2nd grade. He never told anyone about that. There was no way his mother could have known.

To escape the jumble of depressing thoughts stirring up trouble inside his head, he gave himself over to the plunge. Jumping from 30,000 feet felt more like flying than falling. It was windy, loud, and intense. Josh’s senses became wildly alive. That’s why he had an obsession for HALO jumps. The thrill lasted about three times longer than a basic skydiver’s altitude.

With a stable belly-to-earth position, the fastest speed he’d reach was 120 mph. If he wanted to fly faster, he’d shift position so his head was facing the ground and his feet were pointed up. Then he’d drop at 180 mph. Josh had always wondered what it would be like to die like that. Every time he jumped, he’d been tempted to find out.

Checking out of life like that also offered him an easy way to avoid deciding between Rachel and Mia. Because this was a high altitude low open insertion, the main chute was programmed to open automatically at 1,900 feet. If that failed, the reserve chute deployed at 1,000.

The best way to bail out of life would be to use one of his keen-edged combat knives and cut the straps that held the two ‛chutes to his body.  He had about a minute left to make that decision.

Was there a better way to die if you were doing something you loved? He started laughing and thought he sounded possessed.

Still, there was Damian Bran, the man they were hunting. He was the one responsible for Rachel living in a hospital, trapped in a coma. Wasn’t that a good enough reason to hang on?

Bran had been a heartless CIA agent for thirty years who left the agency in 2009. He was also known as the Strawman because of his tall, thin stature. Soon after he retired, he’d joined a white supremacist neo-Nazi militia in Montana and ended up working for a ruthless libertarian billionaire, a match made by Mephistopheles.

Josh had been hunting Bran since Rachel had been shot. His efforts to find the former CIA agent had started by putting the man’s wife under surveillance. There had been no calls or texts in or out. Instead, she hadn’t budged from their home in a remote area of Minnesota and didn’t seem to care if she ever saw her husband again.

After The Oath Group’s successful raid in Northwest Montana on that neo-Nazi training camp, Charles Tweet, the billionaire that financed the militia, revealed it was Bran who introduced him to the profitable sex trade. It turned out that the former field agent had started trafficking children years before he left the agency.

Most of the young sex slaves Bran sold to Tweet had ended up working in massage parlors spread across the United States. But some of the most beautiful had suffered a worse fate. If one of them was unfortunate enough to catch the billionaire’s eye, they were doomed.

His last intended victim had been a seventy-six-pound thirteen-year-old Ukrainian girl. The billionaire had slipped a plastic bag over the child’s head while he was raping her. When Cheéte had burst into the underground room where it was taking place, the girl was being suffocated by Tweet, using a method known as erotic asphyxiation.

Later, during his interrogation, Tweet revealed that Damen Bran had introduced him to that risky erotic method. When the billionaire accidentally murdered his first victim, Bran had shrugged it off and said, “Females were created for two purposes. To give men pleasure, and if they survive, to make babies. Besides, when you’re kidnapping children and selling them for a profit, expect to lose a few. Think of it as collateral damage, a business expense.”

Tweet accepted that justification as gospel and had gone on to murder more than a dozen young girls over the years that followed. Now, the billionaire was in court, fighting to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison. The judge had not approved bail, but his lawyers were claiming the evidence was inadmissible.

The information that pinpointed Bran’s location in Venezuela had come from Mia Belle-Chanson, one of Josh’s best friends and a former lover. To her fans, she was a singer-songwriter and a documentary producer. What her followers didn’t know was what she did away from a studio or stage. Because she’d been kidnapped in Haiti at the age of fourteen to become a sex slave, she now operated a secret network that rescued abducted children all over the world. Josh had met Mia when he and Cheéte had rescued her and several other girls soon after they’d been snatched.

Venezuela was the perfect country for a brute like Bran. After Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Madura’s rise to power in 2013, sex trafficking and child sex tourism had become common, and it was getting worse.

The intel from Mia’s rescue organization reported that Bran was living on an isolated cattle ranch located in Venezuela’s savanna southwest of the Rio Apure River.

Having second thoughts about dying, Josh checked his altimeter to determine how much time he had left to decide one way or the other.

Amazon US

Don’t Gamble with your Life or Health

During a regular video conference last Wednesday morning, one of the six that showed up that morning said that being vaccinated didn’t end up offering as much protection as those who were infected by COVID.  He said that people that were infected by the virus had 17 times more antibodies than people that were vaccinated.

This guy was also the only one in that group that was a Trump supporter. Starting in 2015, he wore MAGA hats to our face-to-face meetings at the VA. After January 6, 2021, he stopped wearing his MAGA hats to our video conferences and stopped making comments that supported Trump.

When another member in our group called him out about that, he said, Trump is old news, but he never said he’d changed his mind about Trump.

Instead, this guy switched to supporting the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers. Recently, after years in this group, he said he thought that he acted that way because he was molested by his older brother when he was a child.

At the time, I thought about Long COVID but didn’t say anything. It’s been a couple of days and I’m still thinking about his allegations that you ended up with better protection after having COVID than being vaccinated.

So, I did some homework this morning. Did you know that one-in-four people infected by COVID that SURVIVE, end up with what’s called Long COVID? The Trumpist in that group also didn’t mention that more than 765-thousand Americans have died from COVID. Apparently, he avoided mentioning the risk of death from COVID, because those facts didn’t help support his thinking.

Watch the video to learn what that means.

Now, I have a long history of gambling. My dad was a dedicated, professional gambler most of his life, and when I was in my thirties, I tried that lifestyle out for a few years.  I even learned how to count cards and won more than I lost. Professional gamblers know what they are doing to shift the odds in their favor, and they keep their gambling money separate from the money that pays the bills.  I did the same when I tried that life out. Eventually, I decided gambling for a living wasn’t for me.

My dad died in the 1980s, a decade before my mother. She didn’t approve of his gambling, and that explains why he hid his gambling activities from her. After he retired from working construction jobs, to avoid getting caught gambling, he stopped going to the track or the casinos. He used a bookie instead. But she knew where he kept his gambling money, and after he was gone, she found enough $100 bills in that hiding place to support her for an entire year. Like I said, my dad did his homework before placing bets and over the decades, he won more than he lost.

WorldMeters Info shows that almost 250,000,000 people have been infected by the virus resulting in more than five million deaths. We now know that one-in-four survivors end up with Long COVID. Did you watch that video?

Twenty-five percent of the survivors worldwide are currently more than sixty million people. In the United States, more than nine million are struggling with Long COVID.

Well, I’ve had the vaccine and I still wear a mask because I also don’t gamble with my health. My health is even more important than having enough money to pay my bills. Some anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers have shot people doing their job when told they have to wear a mask to enter a business. Some of the same creeps have deliberately invaded that preferred six-foot bubble around people wearing masks, pulled off the masks, breathing on people that care about their health, and also spitting on them.

Most if not all anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers are also Trumpists, another reason for me to stay home and avoid going out in public. I’m going to borrow an old saying and revise it. The only good Trumpist is a dead Trumpist unless they end up with Long COVID and suffer for the rest of their miserable angry, hate-filled lives.

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Denis Smith: If We Lose Public Schools, We Lose Our Democracy

To hell with elections! To hell with vaccines! To hell with masks! To hell with working together for the common good!
“We don’t want that tyranny!” they shout as they set fire to the country spreading and supporting tyranny.

Who is to blame for this “me only” type of thinking?

Well, this “me” mindset started with Ronald Reagan (Reagan did not do it alone) and led to Traitor Trump and his dangerous MAGA mob.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Denis Smith worked for many years in the Ohio State Department of Education, finishing his career in the Office of Charter Schools. He writes in the Ohio Capital Journal about the existential threat posed to our democracy and our society by the privatization of public schools. His advice: Be careful what you wish for.

In the last few months, Americans have witnessed a series of assaults by the political right on key parts of the bedrock principles of democracy. Those attacks include new restrictions on voting rights in more than half of the states, the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by thousands of insurrectionists, and most recently, clear evidence that the former president pressured the top leadership of the Justice Department to help him overturn the 2020 election results.

Certainly these scary developments are newsworthy and have garnered banner headlines and filled airtime on the evening news…

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