And a child will lead them

Mark Johnson has his first day at school board:

He had successes and failures, he said, but the story that sticks with him is one about a 16-year-old student he taught in his second year. By that time, Johnson had his class management skills down, he explained, so the students would file into the classroom quietly, collect their assignments and books, and start reading.

One particular student — the aforementioned 16-year-old — was more fond of skipping class and cutting up. But one day, when the student walked in and saw all the other kids behaving properly, he asked Johnson for his textbook and assignment. Johnson said he was thrilled. It was a dream moment for a teacher — getting through to a hard-to-reach student. But Johnson’s enthusiasm was smashed moments later when the student called him over after starting the assignment. “I still remember to this day,” Johnson said. “He told me, ‘Mr Johnson, I can’t read the words in this book.’”

I've mentioned this before, but I'm going to do it again: The part of this story that should stand out to everybody reading it, is the fact these kids only had access to their textbook for the 55 minutes they were in class. They should have it with them in study hall, when they go home in the afternoon, right before they go to bed, when they get up in the morning, while they're riding the bus (or car) to school, etc. But when your budget is so tight you've got five or six classes of children sharing the same books, you've got to "ration" their usage. Like a fricking basketball during P.E. That should have been the moral to Mark Johnson's story every time he told it, but it sounds like it didn't even register on him.

Thursday News: Clear your desk, Donald

vandervaartjlf.jpg

DEQ'S VAN DER VAART NEEDS TO EXIT, EVEN IF IT'S NOT GRACEFUL (Capitol Broadcasting Co. editorial) -- Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Donald van der Vaart's self-demotion demeans him and the agency he once led. If he won't go on his own, he should be fired. Van der Vaart’s relatively brief tenure at the helm of the department has been marked more by controversy and dissension than accomplishment. The coal ash disposal issue, sparked by the Dan River spill before he came into office, remains unresolved. A bitter dispute over the wording of warnings connected with potentially unsafe well water ignited into accusations of lying under oath and resignations in protest. He has sought to thwart the development of renewable energy, including solar, one of the state’s top economic growth bright spots. If Cooper’s administration leaders can figure out a way to fire van der Vaart, they need to do it. If he wants, let him sue. Send the lawyers’ bill to the General Assembly, where there seems to be no shortage of legal defense funds.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-deq-s-van-der-vaart-needs-to-exit-even-if-it-s-not-graceful/16400970/

Fascism Watch: The rise of the propagandists

We've always been at war with Eastasia:

Donald Trump ran a campaign built almost exclusively on lies and demagoguery, so it stands to reason that his presidency will usher in a new era of deceitful propaganda as well. It could very well dwarf the George W. Bush administration’s infamous propaganda push around the Iraq War.

As detailed in a recent report from Media Matters, is that Trump can rely on a pre-existing infrastructure of well-funded conspiracy theorists, like Alex Jones, James O’Keefe, and David Daleiden, who pose as “citizen journalists” and pump out a steady stream of lies and misinformation to support the Trump agenda.

The United States has had its share of demagogues over the years, but none have surpassed Trump in his ability to create a narrative out of thin air, and have millions fall for it immediately. And the Liar in Chief has learned a valuable (to him) lesson: He doesn't have to study an issue, or have advisors coach him on how to deal with it. Whatever pops into his twisted mind becomes the reality, and the only people who are delusional are those who question him. And if you're making the wrong assumption that Congress will keep him in check, consider these events:

Governor Cooper set to expand Medicaid in NC

And it may be just that simple:

Cooper’s action seems certain to spur howls of protest from Republican lawmakers and conservative advocacy groups that have long derided Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act (aka”Obamacare”) as “socialized medicine.” Four years ago, at the outset of the administration of Cooper’s predecessor, Pat McCrory, North Carolina legislators enacted a law that purports to prevent the Governor from acting unilaterally to expand Medicaid. Cooper, however, believes that he has authority to act in his role as the state official empowered to craft and negotiate the “Medicaid waiver” plan that North Carolina is currently negotiating with federal officials. It is known that McCrory engaged in conversations with the Obama administration on such a possible move.

Wow. If you had asked me about Medicaid expansion a couple days (or hours) ago, I would have said something along the lines of, "It won't happen until we take back the Legislature." Shows what I know. I am liking Roy Cooper more and more every day.

Gameplan 2017: A roadmap for change

Four steps to a better North Carolina:

While not every district in the state must be redrawn, almost every district near a major city will be. And despite the fact that the same folks who drew the maps last time will be allowed to draw the maps this time, the result will almost certainly be a significant increase in the number of competitive seats. The only question is whether we can get folks to go vote in a special election.

So here’s the opportunity: Use the 2017 special election to break the supermajority in at least one of two chambers. If we can do that, we will be able to sustain Gov. Cooper’s vetoes, and that will completely change the political landscape by putting a crucial check on the absolute power currently held by the GOP.

Bolding mine. In order to override a Governor's Veto, both houses must succeed in doing so. Making our task not nearly as difficult as some may be thinking. But take it from somebody who just ran a campaign in an odd year (2015), voter turnout is a huge nut to crack. In my election, only about 11% of the population took part, and the average age was ancient. Most of those folks had voted for the same people numerous times, and any sort of change was viewed as reckless. So making sure that people are aware of the 2017 Election, and how important it is, will be job one:

Wednesday News: Free market cruelty

THE N.C. DOG FACTORY: INSIDE SICKENING WORLD OF PUPPY MILLS (Rolling Stone) -- The house on Hilton Lake Road was unremarkable, a brick one-story with an under-watered lawn and a scrimshaw of patchy shrubs. It was flanked by bigger and smarter homes on a two-lane strip in Cabarrus County, but nothing about it suggested to passersby that inconceivable cruelty lived at this address. It wasn't till we opened the side-yard entrance that the horror inside announced itself. A stench of complex poisons pushed out: cat piss and dog shit and mold and bleach commingled into a cloud of raw ammonia that singed the hair in our nostrils.
http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/the-dog-factory-inside-the-sickening-world-of-puppy-mil...

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