Rupert Murdoch Says That Eli Broad is Buying Control of the Los Angeles Times

Rupert Murdoch tweeted that Eli Broad would be buying the Los Angeles Times. The billionaire media moguls keep watch on one another.

 

Among the organizations that seek Broad funding, it is widely understood that he exercises near total control over how his money is spent. Is that OCD?

 

He already funds the education coverage of the L.A. Times. Now he apparently wants it all. Maybe they printed a story or an editorial he disagreed with. People with billions have a hard time believing that they are ever wrong.

 

This is bad news for Los Angeles and for the free press. It is not healthy when a journalist cannot write freely, without regard for the views of the publisher.

 

The ownership of so much of the media–print and television, networks and cable stations–by a handful of moguls is not good for our democracy.

 

All that remains free is social media, and all too often social media is unsourced, gossip, rumor, and innuendo.

 

We need a free press. I don’t know how we will get one back once it has been bought up by a few billionaires.

 

 

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NY Post:Those Evil Unions Control Parents

Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post hates the teachers’ union. It hates the union so much that it blames the union for whatever it doesn’t like. Today, the Post says the massive opt out in New York was controlled by the union. Imagine that: the parents of 220,000 children take orders from the union. Wow, who knew that parents were so easily manipulated?

 

As the Post sees it, the union doesn’t want teachers to be evaluated at all, so they pulled the puppet strings and the parents did as the union bosses told them. The stronghold of the union is New York City, where the number of opt outs was minuscule. Why didn’t the opt out movement succeed where the union was strongest?

 

Note to the editorial board of the New York Post: Please meet with the leaders of New York State Allies for Public Education. Let them explain to you why they led the opt outs.

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The Media Treatment of the Clintons Never Improves

Let’s take a look at this Associated Press piece that is being prominently featured at the Fox News website. The headline writers certainly tried to make it appealing to those who are opposed to another Clinton presidency: Clinton opened State Department office to dozens of corporate donors, Dem fundraisers.

But, once you open the article and start reading, you encounter the following disclaimer (emphasis mine):

The woman who would become a 2016 presidential candidate met or spoke by phone with nearly 100 corporate executives and long-time Clinton political and charity donors during her four years at the State Department between 2009 and 2013, records show.

Those formally scheduled meetings involved heads of companies and organizations that pursued business or private interests with the Obama administration, including with the State Department while Clinton was in charge.

The AP found no evidence of legal or ethical conflicts in Clinton’s meetings in its examination of 1,294 pages from the calendars. Her sit-downs with business leaders were not unique among recent secretaries of state, who sometimes summoned corporate executives to aid in international affairs, documents show.

Based on the fact that the AP found nothing unusual or unique about her meetings and that they aren’t even willing to allege any ethical conflict, let alone any legal issues, there appears to be no reason to read the rest of this article at all.

Right?

Well, of course not.

There’s always a “but.”

But the difference with Clinton’s meetings was that she was a 2008 presidential contender who was widely expected to run again in 2016. Her availability to luminaries from politics, business and charity shows the extent to which her office became a sounding board for their interests. And her ties with so many familiar faces from those intersecting worlds were complicated by their lucrative financial largess and political support over the years — even during her State Department tenure — to her campaigns, her husband’s and to her family’s foundation.

So, wait a minute!

Are there any ethical issues or not?

You just said that there is “no evidence” of ethical issues. None.

And then you said that the totally routine and not-unique meetings you analyzed were “complicated” by “lucrative financial largesse” and “political support.”

Can I be a nudge here and simply ask that these reporters say what the mean and mean what they say?

How about this?

You think that a cabinet member who has political ambitions should be held to a higher and different standard from one who does not. So, for example, Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice can meet with the CEO of Pepsi Co. without it meriting a snarling headline but Hillary Clinton cannot.

But, if that’s the argument you want to make then you have uncovered an ethical conflict. Why not have the courage of your convictions and say so?

Or, maybe, you want to carve an even more exclusive exception to your normal standards and argue that what really distinguishes Hillary Clinton from other cabinet members and former secretaries of State is that her husband is a former president who runs a big foundation.

In this case, you’re creating a standard that only applies, and really only could apply, to Hillary Clinton. Even if she does something that doesn’t meet the ordinary criteria for creating an ethical conflict, she can still be hammered for doing something wrong because of unique circumstances that only pertain to her.

Let’s consider the competition. Even the National Review is appalled by Ben Carson’s connection to Mannatech, a medical-supplement maker that then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott charged “with orchestrating an unlawful marketing scheme that exaggerated their products’ health benefits.”

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee became a spokesman for a “Diabetes Solution Kit” that “the American Diabetes Association and the Canadian Diabetes Association caution consumers against” using. He also used his mailing list to promote cancer cures based on biblical passages.

And let’s not forget that Donald Trump created a fake university that was such a scam that he was sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

These are some pretty low-level examples of simple hucksterism, almost too mundane to compare to the cross-pollinating between the Clintons’ political ambitions and their operation of the Global Initiative. To see something similarly complex and ambiguous enough to bear a resemblance to the latter, you probably need to look into Jeb Bush’s long history with the charter school and school standards and testing movements.

To be clear, just because one candidate is nakedly promoting fraud doesn’t mean that the press should avoid looking at another candidate’s complex financial connections. But it’s basically a smear to publish a piece like this one from the Associated Press, especially when you are unwilling to spell out your double standard and really justify the rationale behind it. And the headline writers take advantage, too, to get the clicks they’re after.

This story says that Hillary Clinton did nothing unusual, illegal, or even unethical, but that’s not the impression the story and the headline leaves, is it?

Haven’t we seen enough of this kind of media treatment of the Clintons over the years?

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Legislator: Scott Walker Continues the Destruction of Wisconsin

State Senator Chris Larson regularly reports to his constituents. This newsletter describes the latest assaults on Wisconsin’s public institutions and traditions by Governor Scott Walker and his allies.

“Many of you have contacted me regarding your support for investing in education in Wisconsin. Wisconsinites take great pride in supporting their local neighborhood schools. Underinvesting in education causes our schools, teachers, and — most importantly — our students to struggle. This is worrisome and will likely have costly consequences for generations to come. Like many of you, I believe we need to get Wisconsin back on track by ensuring our future leaders have equal access to quality education.

“For-Profit Voucher Schools Continue to Be Unaccountable, Take Away Resources from Traditional Neighborhood Schools

“Communities across Wisconsin are starting to see the negative consequences of intentionally disinvesting in our traditional neighborhood schools and expanding unaccountable, for-profit voucher schools. Further, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) recently published new figures on enrollment, which showed that the number of students receiving public money to attend private schools doubled from the previous school year and is now over 2,500. Further, 75% of students receiving public money for private school have already been attending a private school prior to being publicly subsidized. This expansion has resulted in an overall increase of state expenditures on vouchers to $18.3 million during the 2015-2016 school year. In the 7th Senate District alone (excluding the city of Milwaukee), we have seen $171,860 diverted away from our public schools and funneled into private institutions. This weakens our school districts and limits the resources they have to educate our children. I have been, and will continue to be, a vocal opponent of the voucher program because of the direct harm they do to our local public schools.

“Restricting Communities from Investing in Students

“Over the past few years, Republicans in control of the Legislature have been relentless in their attacks on local control. This session, legislative Republicans introduced a bill that strips away the ability of local communities to invest in education at the local level. Assembly Bill 481 would, in certain instances, take away the right for a school district to bring funding proposals to a referendum. With fewer state resources going to school districts, the referendum process is more crucial than ever. In fact, last April, 76% of all school referendums appearing on the ballot statewide passed because our communities recognize that we cannot continue to underfund our children’s future. Taking this tool away from neighborhoods is not only an infringement of local control but could have severe impacts on cash-strapped schools.

“Community Schools: A New Vision for Education

Access to quality public education is a right that every child deserves and is enshrined in our state constitution. However, the Republican majority in our state continues to rollback local control and intentionally underinvest in our public schools, putting our children at risk. The community school legislation that I introduced with Representative Barnes addresses the complex range of factors that lead to underachievement, while strengthening local communities in the process. This forward-thinking legislation will help guarantee that our children, as well as future generations, have the necessary support to succeed year-round.

“We need to make our schools a haven, not only for educational achievement, but for all aspects of our children’s lives. A multitude of studies have shown that if a child comes to school sick, hungry, homeless, or afraid for their safety they cannot learn. We can address these problems by restructuring the way we look at education in our state.

“Higher Education

“Since the passage of the last Walker budget, our university system is having to try to find ways to deal with the $250 million cut they have been faced with. This requires flexibility and innovation on the part of administrators, as well as student leaders, and I have been proud to see the cooperation throughout the UW System. I am continuing to meet with administrators from UW-Milwaukee, as well as various technical colleges, in an effort to work together to address their funding and resource concerns.

“In a recent visit to the UW-Milwaukee, I had the opportunity to see the amazing work they are doing, despite the decrease in state investment. The new Innovation Campus in Wauwatosa is up and running, creating a unique opportunity for graduate students to work with industry professionals. The new campus houses a variety of facilities that are researching topics from early, portable Ebola detection to mobility options for neighbors with disabilities. With nationally renowned professors and industry leaders working in the lab with students it is promising to see the real-life work experience students are getting. Projects like the Innovation Campus are a direct result of the dedication of university staff and students to higher education; let us all work together to ensure their continued success.”

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Will Jeb Hold His Fire on Rubio?

When the Bush family is your friend:

On the night of the 2010 midterm elections, a portly, silver-haired Jeb Bush stood on a stage in the courtyard of Miami’s luxe Biltmore Hotel, appearing to choke back tears. The beloved former governor of Florida was there to introduce the young conservative insurgent who had just pulled off a remarkable underdog victory in the U.S. Senate race.

“Bushes get emotional, so I’m gonna try my hardest,” Jeb told the ecstatic crowd of Republicans. “My wife told me, ‘Don’t cry, don’t cry.’ But Marco Rubio makes me cry for joy!”

At the time, it looked like the culmination of a sturdy alliance and deep friendship — the proud mentor presenting his protege.

When the Bush family is not your friend:

Meanwhile, in a series of off-the-record conversations, Jeb’s messengers tried to convince a number of influential figures in political media that they had the goods on Rubio. Among these was MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. A former Republican congressman from Florida who remained tapped into the state’s politics, Scarborough was skeptical whenever somebody tried to convince him that Rubio had an explosive career-ending secret lurking in his past.

“Everybody who runs against him says he has girlfriends, or financial problems. They throw a lot of shit at the wall,” Scarborough told me. “It’s the same thing from the Jeb Bush camp. They keep telling me, ‘Oh, we’ve got the thing that’s going to take him down.’ But nobody’s ever produced anything that we all haven’t read in the Tallahassee Democrat.”

Back in October 2004, Richard Gooding did a deep-dive for Vanity Fair on how the Bush machine had trashed John McCain during the 2000 South Carolina primary. It’s the kind of piece that merits an occasional re-reading, especially whenever there’s a Bush running for president, which seems to be most of the time.

There appears to be no doubt that Team Jeb is prepared for a repeat performance and that Marco Rubio is their target. Round One was during the early fundraising/endorsement phase of the campaign. Round Two is coming up shortly.

Yet, it may be too little, too late. Politico reports that Republican senators are so concerned about Ted Cruz that they’re beginning to coalesce behind Rubio. This is basically an acknowledgment that Jeb simply has no juice and is never going to rise out of his doldrums. In fact, Jeb may find that there’s no appetite for the Phase Two attack on Rubio from the Republican Establishment because they now see Rubio as their last opportunity to avoid a catastrophic situation where their nominee comes from the Trump/Carson/Cruz camp.

Trump and Carson are seen as unfit for the office of the presidency, and Cruz is simply loathed. All three of them are considered poor general election candidates who have to potential to put the GOP’s congressional majorities (especially the Senate) at risk.

If Jeb’s minions go out there floating rumors that Marco Rubio has a secret family and a bushel of mistresses, that’s not going to fly. It would be one thing if this were going to work for Bush, but the latest Quinnipiac poll out of Iowa has him at four percent. I mean, even the moribund Rand Paul campaign is at five percent.

If the Bushes tear down Rubio without rising themselves, there’s no one left to stop the barbarians at the gates of the Republican National Convention.

It may simply be too late for Team Bush to do anything at all about their situation. Assuming, that is, that they want to retain any good will with the Republican Establishment at all.

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Paula Poundstone: Break Your Child’s Addiction to Blinking Screens

Paula Poundstone, comedian, has advice for parents: break your children’s addiction to electronic devices.  Is she right or wrong? Who made the decision that all the tests had to be taken online? This leads to a need to teach keyboarding schools in kindergarten or earlier. Shouldn’t children spend time making things, not just consuming what someone else has made? Shouldn’t they have time to use their own imagination, not just imbibe the products of someone else’s imagination?

 

She writes:

 

Screen devices wreak havoc with the brain’s frontal lobe. Diagnosis of ADHD in our children has taken a steep rise since the proliferation of screen devices.

 

Yet, even when presented with that information, parents often won’t hear of protecting their kids from the harmful effects of screen devices. “Kids love them!” they say. Yes, they do, and kids would love heroin if we gave it to them. I’m told that after the initial vomiting stage it can be a hoot!

 

We didn’t know this when we first brought these shiny new toys into homes. But, now, we do know. Still, adults aren’t doing anything about it. Why? Because we’re addicted. Addiction hampers judgment.

 

You see it. Everywhere you look people are staring at their flat things. We’re terrified of being bored. No one drifts or wonders. If Robert Frost had lived today he would have written, “Whose woods are these? I think I’ll Google it.”

 

Screens are tearing away our real connections. Ads for “family cars” show every family member on a different device. Applebees, Chili’s, Olive Garden and some IHOPs are putting tablets on their tables. These restaurants claim they are providing tablets just to make ordering easier. Well, gee, if saying, “May I please have chicken fingers?” is too difficult for our young ones, wouldn’t we want to work on that?

 

The tech industry has profited from the “Every child must have a laptop in the classroom” push, but education hasn’t. Research shows that the brain retains information better read from paper than from a screen, and students who take notes by hand are more successful on tests than those who type their notes on a computer.

 

Yet, art, music, sports, play, healthy meals and green space — things we know help the developing brain — are on the chopping block of school districts’ budgets annually.

 

Even knowing this, at the suggestion that we get screen devices out of our classrooms and away from our children, people gasp, “But they’ll need them for the world of the future!”

 

Our children will need fully-functioning brains for the world of the future. Let’s put that first.

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