Tuesday, February 14, 2017

We Don't Need No Education...Secretary?

Let's Educate Our Legislators

Some days I swear I'm living in the Twilight Zone. I'm dumbfounded whenever I read an headline. An oil CEO for Secretary of State? Another "former" Goldman-Sachs employee in the Treasury? A bored billionaire heiress who's never taught a day of school in her life for... Oh, give me a break!

The recent uproar about Betsy DeVos being confirmed as Secretary of Education epitomizes the "they're not listening to us in Washington" phenomenon. Coming from a family of educators, having many friends who are/were public school teachers, and having worked in public schools in various capacities myself, the horror of the DeVos nomination really hit home. Her actions demonstrate a complete lack of ability to fill the position adequately, and her words only emphasize her desire (and the establishment parties' desire) to destroy America's public schools once and for all. Upon the announcement, educators and their allies quickly banded together to defeat this threat. The sheer volume and intensity of their protests against DeVos couldn't be ignored. Or could it? 

Once again, it appears our elected representatives aren't listening to us. But what do they have to gain from making us angry enough to drive them out of office in 2018? The short answer: money. Tons of money. An example of how much "money as speech" can influence a politician is evident in the recent actions of Ohio Senator Rob Portman. Considered a "moderate" Republican whose vote could be swung to the side of sanity, many teachers' organizations targeted Senator Portman with intensive letter and phone call campaigns, encouraging him to vote against Mrs. DeVos's nomination.

Ohio has a large number of public school teachers and plenty of outspoken parents who support public schools, so staying on their good side isn't a bad idea for a politician, right? It is, if big money didn't come into play. Betsy DeVos's huge contributions to the Republican Party--and senators like Rob Portman--can't be ignored. In fact, according to OpenSecrets.org, all the top ten recipients of campaign contributions from the DeVos family are Republican senators who voted in favor of her confirmation.

Here are the amounts each received from the DeVos family. Check out where on the list Senator Portman is located:

Marco Rubio - (R - FL): $91,300
Thom Tillis - (R - NC): $62,400
Bill Cassidy - (R - LA): $62,400
Pat Toomey - (R - PA): $56,550
Rob Portman - (R - OH): $48,300
Tim Scott - (R - SC): $43,800
Ron Johnson - (R - WI): $43,200
Chuck Grassley - (R - IA): $43,200
Todd Young - (R - IN): $43,200
Cory Gardner - (R - CO): $41,600

Since the 2010 Citizens United ruling in the Supreme Court, the voices of ordinary Americans effectively have been silenced. We simply can't out shout billionaires such as Betsy DeVos and her family (the Amway fortune heirs). Their huge sacks of cash act like plugs in our elected representatives' ears, muffling our complaints and concerns. But all is not lost.

The Move To Amend organization (https://movetoamend.org/) is fighting hard to get the 28th Amendment added to the Constitution, overturning the disastrous Citizens United ruling. (Read the complete text of the amendment here.) Once we've taken big money out of politics and gotten rid of the silly notion that somehow a corporation is a person (albeit a person who never goes to jail for his/her crimes), we ordinary Americans shall be heard. It's going to take a lot of work on all our parts to get this amendment passed, but the Move to Amend movement is growing and gaining new supporters daily.

Our Revolution is helping to organize town halls this coming week for us to get answers out of our legislators. If there's a town hall in your district, show up and encourage your neighbors to join you. Have questions ready to ask. Hard questions about what will happen to the A.C.A. and Social Security and our public schools. Ask them why they aren't listening to the voters and are allowing unqualified and dangerous individuals to assume cabinet positions. Ask them how much money they're accepting from billionaires like the DeVos family.

It's time to educate our elected officials to the reality of the world we ordinary Americans live in and what we expect of them. After all, they're supposedly public servants. We are the public. They serve us. We can "fire" them for failure to perform their representative duties in a satisfactory manner. No matter what the  billionaires think, our legislators don't serve themselves.

They might not listen to us today, but they will soon. Very soon.

Betsy DeVos isn't impressing parents and public school teachers in Washington D.C., either, as their protest to prevent her from entering their school demonstrated: http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/41898-protesters-block-betsy-devos-from-entering-dc-public-school

Following her boss's lead, Betsy DeVos's misspelled first tweet as Secretary of Education doesn't inspire confidence: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/02/the-betsy-devos-era-at-the-dept-of-education-kicks.html

And their second tweet also had a typo: http://mashable.com/2017/02/12/department-of-education-web-dubois/#ugQ_oUZBsiq0 

From educating our legislators, to educating the public, we political revolutionaries have a big job on our hands. What can we do when the corporate-owned-and-operated mainstream media outlets continue to spew propaganda and hide the truth of what's actually happening in our world? There's only one thing we can do--we become the media ourselves. Adrian's article explores  another time in history when a people were forced to do just that to overcome a corrupt establishment's "alternative facts."

The Return of Samizdat

by Adrian J. Matthews

Definition of samizdat:

A system in the U.S.S.R. and countries within its orbit by which government-suppressed literature was clandestinely printed and distributed; also: such literature. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/samizdat
Facebook recently announced it will roll out an experiment to control "fake news" on its pages during the upcoming German Federal elections this year. If this experiment is successful, the concept will be extended to the company’s operations worldwide. This move comes after the company received sharp criticism of its publication of misleading news stories during the already fevered American election season. Readers may remember the infamous "Pope endorses (candidate’s name)" articles that popped up frequently during the past eighteen months. Diplomatic protocol prevents the Pope or any other foreign head of state from endorsing political candidates in other nations, yet enough people gave the story credence.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook said:

We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or mistakenly restricting accurate content… We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.

The problem arises when you consider what Facebook and its "trusted third parties" will define as "fake" news.

Those who read my previous article here about the fallout from the Brexit vote will know the EU apparatchiks are running scared. They fear other countries will follow Britain’s lead in leaving the EU, especially since the rising right wing parties in member countries are strongly against the organization. Extremism is anathema to the largely neo-liberal establishment, whether that extremism takes the form of left or right wing politics. Both are bad for business, which is the raison d'ĂȘtre of the establishment. Facebook’s announcement will come as a boon to the neo-liberal EU government, since it will help control the dissemination of information – vital to any conflict, political or military.

In Europe and the United States, the so-called mainstream media outlets are controlled by a relative handful of people, all pro-establishment. We’ve already seen how the careful shutting out of Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign by mainstream TV and newspapers hindered his effort to get his views out to a wider audience. Progressives have come to rely upon social media to disseminate information in order to coordinate the movement for general and genuine reform. If Facebook should go ahead with its move, what chance then for keeping in touch with fellow progressives?

Reading of Facebook’s plan immediately reminded me of samizdat. The term samizdat was coined by the Russian poet Nikolai Glazkov and essentially means, “I publish.” He used the phrase in the long years when the authoritarian Soviet Union restricted free expression and monopolized control of public discourse, putting all mass media under state control. Those who distributed material not in political and ideological conformity with the Soviet Communist regime faced severe repercussions.

Samizdat material typically comprised politically-minded essays and newsletters, novels, poetry, and banned foreign works. With increasing restrictions on disseminating information it looks like samizdat will enjoy – if that’s the right word – a revival. 

Will we once again see ordinary people making furtive efforts to spread word of their causes? Will we once again carry books and leaflets in hidden compartments of our luggage past police checkpoints as we move from town to town? Will basement photocopiers and printers once again be busy printing off dissident literature to distribute through their neighborhood? Given how much emphasis the media is putting on the Russian "interference" in the American elections, I can’t help but give a wry smile.

Those brave dissidents of the old Soviet Union would be shaking their heads at our modern antics. Of course, it’s much easier to hide a flash drive than a suitcase full of dissident materials, but the principle is the same.

Further reading: https://tavaana.org/en/content/creating-underground-press-samizdat-soviet-union-and-eastern-bloc

 Bio: Adrian J. Matthews is a British armchair historian living in the United States, keeping a close watch on travel ban news.

It's Time for a People's Party: DraftBernie.Org

Nick Brana, a former Bernie Sanders campaign staffer, made an  announcement recently stating he wanted to draft Bernie into a new third party. Learn what he had to say on Lee Camp's Redacted Tonight VIP interview show. Also, get an update on what's happening with the Dakota Access Pipeline and the return of the veterans with TYT Politics' Jordan Chariton. (Videos below.)

Don't count on mainstream media (even the supposedly "progressive" pundits) to share this information. It's not in the corporate establishment's best interests, so it's up to us to share this information and talk it up with friends and neighbors. Please post the video links on your social media sites. It's time to share real news and real facts with America--not the establishment's fake news and alternative facts. Power to the people and their own media outlets!


Bernie denies his interest in starting a new third party at this time. However, note which media outlet is covering his statement--the corporate-establishment operated NBC: http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/video/sanders-prefers-behind-democratic-party-reform-over-a-splinter-party-875533379955 

But this interview with Nick Brana on The Tim Black Show tells that Bernie later did not rule out joining a third party: https://youtu.be/V3bugF3rQGQ

TYT Politics' Jordan Chariton doesn't hold back on the facts...


Other Places to Find Facts--Not Alternative Facts 

Check out this media outlet of the people--The Global Engagement Network. This month's interactive conference topic is Civil Rights. Sign up for this free online conference today at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gen-monthly-conference-civil-rights-tickets-31987221641


Yet another media network of the people--The Green News Network

And finally...

Important  information to share with immigrants about ICE raids: 
Please copy and share the link and jpgs with others. Print out and keep near your door i necessary. Thank you. #NoBan #Resist


  1. I still say ABOLISH THE DEPARTMENT unless Bernie is going to publicly endorse increasing public land sales, which were the original funding source that justified federal involvement in education, OR a Constitutional amendment making public education a federal responsibility empowering it to tax "tax the rich" to fund public education because without such an Amendment any tax on "the rich" passed by Congress will be ruled unconstitutional because education is a State's right/responsibility not a federal one.

    1. I favor a Constitutional amendment making public education a federal responsibility. We should have the right to clean air, clean water, safe food, access to adequate health care and an appropriate education to suit our needs and abilities -- a Bill of Natural Rights that all human beings are entitled to as Americans.


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