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Story by Pamela Hess, UPI Pentagon Correspondent [not The Onion]

Rumsfeld: Looting is transition to freedom

[F]reedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that's what's going to happen here," Rumsfeld said.
"While no one condones looting, on the other hand, one can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of repression and people who have had members of their family killed by that regime, for them to be taking their feelings out on that regime," he said. "And I don't think there's anyone in any of those pictures ... (who wouldn't) accept it as part of the price of getting from a repressed regime to freedom."
Donald Rumsfeld, in his own words, twelve years ago (April 11, 2003).

That is all.

[Credit for the "find': Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, who meme-tweeted on April 28]


One week into Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month, this story hit my news feed yesterday:

Autistic Child Wanders Off, Mom Calls 911, Is Accused of Neglect

Here's the selection from the news report:

911 dispatchers received a call around 8:15 p.m. Thursday about a child standing on the corner of Northwest Radial Highway and Hamilton Street. The child had been there about 10 minutes with no adults nearby, according to a police report.

The child was unable to tell police where he lived or the names of his parents.

At 8:33 p.m., 911 received another call from a woman reporting her 4-year-old autistic son was missing.

According to the police report, officers went to the woman's home. She said her son had left the house without her knowledge and she went looking for him.


When the mother failed to find her son, she returned home and called 911.

The 31-year-old mother was cited on suspicion of child neglect.

The blog post (very sympathetic to the frantic mom) was illustrated with this photo:
My radar "pinged" at that -- and I'll tell you all about it after the jump.
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A most excellent front-page diary is viral-crawling its way across social media today:

GOP congresswoman gets surprise on Facebook after asking constituents for Obamacare horror stories

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R, WA-5) put up a Facebook plea for tales of Obamacare woe on the occasion of the law's 5th anniversary, and instead got pages full of comments like these:

My story is that I once knew 7 people who couldn't get health insurance. Now they all have it, thanks to the ACA and President Obama, and their plans are as good as the one my employer provides--and they pay less for them. Now, that's not the kind of story you want to hear. You want to hear made-up horror stories. I don't know anyone with one of those stories.
I work for cancer care northwest. We actually have more patients with insurance and fewer having to choose treatment over bankruptcy. Cathy, I'm a die hard conservative and I'm asking you to stop just slamming Obamacare. Fix it, change it or come up with a better idea! Thanks
With Obamacare, I saved 300 bucks a month premium.. I have more coverage.. I like ObamaCare and can't wait til we go to the next step... Medicare for ALL.
It's worth a trip over to the original plea to read more.  The pro-ACA sentiment is truly overwhelming.

And the diary concludes by asking:

Will she take their comments to heart and abandon attempts to take insurance coverage away from her constituents?
Unfortunately, she already made her answer via video, and it wasn't the responsive one.

Follow me past the stylized orange hashmark for video-quotes (video itself is now embedded!)

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The ALEC-sourced "Wage Theft" bill (aka "right to work") that's being rammed through in Wisconsin is worse than you think it is... and only the wonkiest of policy wonks know it.

The Center for Media and Democracy accurately identified the bill's ALEC roots --
Wisconsin Introduces Word-for-Word ALEC Right to Work Bill

But they missed what happens in the very first line of the bill -- an innocuous-looking little statement that reads:

Section 1. 111.01 of the statutes is repealed.

The Declaration of Policy they're repealing here is nothing less than the bedrock principles of "Employment Peace" in Wisconsin.

What does this must-repeal policy stipulate, anyway?  

It recognizes that there are 3 major interests involved, namely: the public, the employee and the employer. These 3 interests are to a considerable extent interrelated. It is the policy of the state to protect and promote each of these interests with due regard to the situation and to the rights of the others.
[Emphasis in the above quote is mine]

Can you imagine, actually valuing equally the interests of the public, the employer, and the employee?!  In ALEC-world, this is clearly an unacceptable situation.

But wait, there's more.

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Flashback to February 2011 when Governor Walker "dropped the bomb" of his so-called "budget repair bill."

It was absolutely essential, Wisconsin was told, to kneecap the public employee unions (and many other outrages) -- immediately, absolutely immediately, because SHORTFALL!  In the current budget year!!  All the fault of previous governor Jim Doyle!!!  BUDGET REPAIR!!!!

The amount of that fierce, urgent shortfall?

$137 million.

Fast-forward four years.

We're at the same point in the budget cycle, Scott Walker has just been elected... again.  

No Jim Doyle to blame, no recession, it's been all Scott Walker for four years.

And then there was this Friday news drop:

Wisconsin has a current-year budget shortfall.

In the amount of $283 million.

Fierce urgency?  Absolutely must have budget repair, now-baby-now?

Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?

Nah, we got it under control.  No problem.  Because Scott Walker's running for president, and the less notice anyone takes of Wisconsin's post-recession spiraling budget woes on his administration's watch, the better.

I think between the choice to be relieved or outraged... one might reasonably opt for both.


Little Timmy, a kindergartener in the animated video below, is a lot like most of us here in America: we LIKE our public schools!

But the profitmakers look at our children, and what they see are dollar signs.

So they've set up organizations to spend millions undermining and attacking the concept of public schools in the public consciousness (even though most of us really do LIKE our own neighborhood schools).

And once they've sown enough doubt and derision, in they ride to the "rescue" with Profitship charter academies... and God's Li'l Voucher School (much like the taxpayer-funded private "gas station schools" you'll find on the north side of Milwaukee).

Take a look at this scathing two-minute video from Mark Fiore and The Progressive, then spread it widely.  Sometimes it takes satire to say what needs to be said.

P.S.  Just in case you think the Profitship! rhetoric might be an exaggeration... check out this article about the Rocketship charter chain working on its foothold in Wisconsin.


Yesterday I discovered first-hand that all of the clinics in our local Midwestern university-based clinic system are having their receptionists ask everybody at check-in:

-- Have you traveled overseas in the past 30 days?
-- Have you been in contact with any person who has Ebola, or the remains of any such person?
This was the only health-related question that the receptionist was tasked with asking, and it's being asked at ALL clinics of every patient: podiatry, psychiatry, physical therapy, optometrist, all of them.

My initial reaction was that it felt excessive (and the doctor sympathized, pointing out that in Florida, medical professionals can't legally ask about guns in the home!)

When I sniped about it on Facebook though, my conservative friends and my medical-professional friends joined forces to agree that it was a reasonable approach -- an alliance I don't see all that often.

I'm still not entirely convinced.  It feels to me that there's a public health concern to be balanced here in terms of not contributing to already-overblown public worries.  I'd feel a little better if they were using it as a public-education mechanism, to tell people who answer "no" to both questions: GOOD, no risk for you!! But that aspect doesn't seem to be part of the script.

What's happening by you?  Is it the right level of screening, and if not, what would be a better approach?


I saw it again today in a front page article in the Wisconsin State Journal: State paid $139 million to schools terminated from voucher program since 2004

The galloping privatization of K-12 education in Wisconsin is a sin and a shame, and gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke knows it.  Here was her comment for the article:

In an interview, Burke said the spending data on terminated schools illustrates the need to scale back the program, which she has said repeatedly she would do if elected.

“I’m shocked that the program has continued to be expanded without the type of accountability that really needs to be there,” said Burke.

So how about our current governor, Scott Walker, who has aided and abetted voucher expansion whenever possible?
A Walker campaign spokeswoman declined to make the governor available for an interview and did not respond to emailed questions.

Over and over this campaign season, the GOP in Wisconsin has been openly refusing to talk about what they stand for.

I almost wrote about it earlier this week when I saw this in the Capital Times: Mary Burke: Roll back vouchers, give rural schools more aid, wherein Ms. Burke accepted the paper's invitation and submitted a thoughtful column on her education priorities.  And right next to the column was this note:

Scott Walker did not submit column
Republican Gov. Scott Walker was invited to submit a column on his education priorities, but did not.
Also on the education front, there's been post after post from the grassroots parents group "Stop Special Needs Vouchers Wisconsin" highlighting candidate responses to their survey on special needs vouchers earlier this year.  Day after day, the Facebook page has featured thoughtful survey responses from Democratic candidates for state Assembly and Senate.  And day after day, the text next to the Republic candidate's name reads: "Did not answer the Stop Special Needs Vouchers candidate survey."

What's going on here?  As it turns out...  {orange squiggle jump}

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THIS is how things are in Wisconsin.

A Facebook group calling themselves the "Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia" (update: page has since disappeared and now it's back!) is threatening armed intimidation of voters who signed the Scott Walker recall in 2012 who also have any outstanding warrants or tax defaults.  The page claims  "Our militia will watch polling places and report known felons and other people wanted by law enforcement. The police are looking for you, so are we."

Don't believe me?  Check the screenshot below:

Text above: "Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia is a force that is armed. Do not approach our members by engaging in a physical hostile act because you are going to get put down like a rabid dog.

We are going to be around neighborhoods that may be crime-filled. These areas are heavy democrat-voting areas because it is a result of a poor education.

We will be there to get criminal scum off the streets."

Though they've been vociferously denying any racist intent in who they might just "put down like a rabid dog," one has only to check the FB page heading to see who's doing the watching and which voters they intend to target.

How can they possibly be publicly planning this?

1)  Wisconsin has been a conceal-carry state since 2011 (thanks to the Walker administration).

2)  Due to another Walker-adminstration law, election observers can now stand as close as 3 feet to the poll tables.

3) They are finding their targets using a searchable database compiled after the recall, where rightwingers hand-entered the information from the recall petitions into a database, and then cross-referenced with publicly-available court information databases.


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Daily Kos is a powerful forum.  Through the magic of this site, even an occasional diarist can initiate something that leads to an actual change: in this example, the Heartland Institute, a billionaire-funded conservative free-market think tank, actually APOLOGIZED this morning for posting a meme that falsely quoted George Carlin (and made it sound like he was "on their side" when he would have despised everything they stand for)!!

Today's story began this weekend, when a conservative Facebook-friend of mine "liked" a meme from the Heartland Institute: a George Carlin photo and purported quote that immediately struck me as "off."  When I did a little digging, sure enough, I discovered that the meme was a dishonest twist on Carlin's words that totally subverted the meaning.  Knowing a little bit about the Heartland Institute, I couldn't say that I was surprised!

So first, I fixed up the meme a bit for them (my additions from Carlin's original quote in red):

And then, I diaried it: George Carlin Quote Bastardized on Facebook by Heartland Institute  The diary points out in some detail how the Heartland Institute meme played fast-and-loose with pronouns and antecedents, turning Carlin's rant against the wealthy business owners who want you not to question "all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it" -- into an attack on public schools and a tacit argument for school privatization!

As it turned out, the meme wasn't original to the Heartland Institute, but their use of it was particularly egregious given who they are and who funds them (Walton, Koch, etc.)

Well, Daily Kos fans of George Carlin began flooding the Heartland Institute Facebook page with outrage combined with evidence of how the meme had twisted Carlin's righteous rant.

And then Karoli over at Crooks & Liars picked it up (Heartland Institute Edits George Carlin's Words For Cheap Facebook Hits), and the flood got bigger.

And then George's daughter Kelly Carlin got wind of it, and whoa-doggies did the fur begin to fly!  Jump beyond the tangled orange skipping-rope to see more...

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April 28 update:  Heartland Institute APOLOGIZED, and took down the offending meme!  Details here: Heartland Institute Backpedals on George Carlin Bastardized Quote-Meme!

= = = = = = = = = = = =

George Carlin has got to be rolling in his grave.

The Heartland Institute has posted a meme with his photo, fabricated a quote about education that says something VERY different than Carlin himself said when he talked about education, and it's getting "liked" and shared by conservatives by the thousands, all over Facebook.

The offending meme can be found on Facebook:

The lying Heartland Institute meme.
Here's what the Heartland Institute claims that George Carlin said:
Governments don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking.  That is against their interests.

They want obedient workers who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork.  And just dumb enough to passively accept it.

See what they did there?  They're setting up to make a case for the free market to swoop in and privatize/profitize public (government) education -- because George Carlin!

Except that George Carlin hated everything that the Heartland Institute espouses, and the selectively-quoted words actually come from a prophetic Carlin rant, that rails in irrepressibly colorful language against the very wealthy-business-interests that Heartland represents!

So here's a version edited to add a few more of Carlin's words and thereby begin to expose the lie:

Edited to expose the lie.
And here's the full text of what George Carlin REALLY said -- so you can see exactly how the Heartland Institute twisted the connection between pronoun and antecedent to produce a bald-face lie (bolding mine, Heartland excerpts in italics; link is to the YouTube video with transcript):
There's a reason education sucks, it's the same reason that it will never, ever, ever be fixed. It's never going to get any better, don't look for it, be happy with what you got.  Because the owners of this country don't want that.  I'm talking about the real owners, now.  The real owners, the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying,­ lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

You know what they want? Obedient workers,­ people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street.  And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club.

This country is finished.

Hear Carlin in his own words in the 2005 video below, and then follow me over the tangled web of deceit to learn more about Heartland Institute.
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On Jan. 9, Gail Hicks testified before the Urban Education Committee of the Wisconsin Assembly and called out Milwaukee's "New Hustler Academies" -- the nickname she and her colleagues have bestowed upon the many unscrupulous charter and voucher schools that have sprung up in Milwaukee since Wisconsin's largest city became one of this country's largest experiments in educational privatization.

Less than a week later came this headline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Milwaukee voucher school LifeSkills Academy closes 'in the dead of the night'
The article told an appalling story:
A small private school participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program abruptly closed in the middle of December, but not before collecting more than $200,000 from taxpayers this academic year to educate students who now attend other schools, state officials confirmed.

LifeSkills Academy, a K-8 school that had dwindled to 66 students, appears to have closed around Dec. 12, according to a letter sent to the school from the Department of Public Instruction.

LifeSkills became a voucher school in 2008, and through the years received over two million dollars in taxpayer funding.

And what did Wisconsin get for the money?

Follow me below the tangled orange political web to find out.

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