scharrison's blog

Another Trump "bright idea" goes down in flames

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All those "beautiful" bridges and roads will just have to wait:

President Trump’s legislative framework for a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure appears all but dead in Congress. Lawmakers are focused on other legislative matters, and Democrats say the latest “infrastructure week” that started Sunday has done little to reinvigorate the president’s plan.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told The Hill Wednesday that there has been no movement on a bill with Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). “As far as I know, it’s been shredded, or burned, or something. It doesn’t exist,” DeFazio said Wednesday of the president’s rebuilding blueprint.

Frankly, I'm more than a little relieved. North Carolina is already suffering from the NC GOP's efforts to push critical funding down to the county and municipal level, and another $1.5 Trillion "buy-in" from the Trump administration is a hell of a lot more than we can afford. From Wake to Alamance Counties and several points in-between, we've got huge school bonds on November's ballot, and there just isn't any "extra" local funding lying around to be drawn into another Donald Trump pyramid scheme:

Mark Meadows wants to strangle Trump's very own Deep Throat informer

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File this one under "Collusion between Congress and the President":

The Post first reported earlier this month that an FBI informant and top-secret, longtime intelligence source had provided information early in the FBI investigation of connections between Russia and the Trump campaign. A New York Times story published Wednesday about the beginnings of the Russia probe reported that at least one government informant met several times with two former Trump campaign advisers, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) has been conferring with Trump — in three or more calls a week — communicating concerns that the Justice Department is hiding worrisome information about the elements of the probe, according to people familiar with their discussions.

Aside from undermining law enforcement in their efforts to detect, solve, and punish crimes, it appears we now know where Trump gets some of his information for his zany Tweets. But back to the undermining law enforcement thing: If you've ever been curious how some 3rd World dictators are able to remain in power so long, when they are obviously unfit and even dangerous to their populations, it's almost always due to the harsh stifling of critics and the "disappearing" of people who know too much. What Mark Meadows is trying to do, in his efforts to shield Trump from the authorities, is tantamount to loading a gun and handing it to a hit-man:

US Senate votes to protect Net Neutrality

Unfortunately, this victory is mostly symbolic:

Senate Democrats, joined by three Republicans, pushed through a measure Wednesday intended to revive Obama-era internet rules that ensured equal treatment for all web traffic, though opposition in the House and the White House seems insurmountable. Republicans on the short end of the 52-47 vote described the effort to reinstate “net neutrality” rules as “political theater” because the GOP-controlled House is not expected to take up the issue and the Senate’s margin could not overcome a presidential veto.

Democrats, however, were undeterred, saying their push would energize young voters who are tech savvy and value unfettered access to the internet. “This is a defining vote. The most important vote we’re going to have in this generation on the internet,” said Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who sponsored the measure.

Just an observation, and your mileage may vary greatly: It's one thing to "think" about something helping you in the November Election, but it could serve to undermine that hope if you put it into words. The implication of Markey's statement is, "It doesn't matter if this vote actually changes anything now, if it helps us take over Congress." The same can be said to a certain degree of some comments made by Democratic lawmakers yesterday in Raleigh. Many of those teachers actually "lobbied" GOP lawmakers to point out deficiencies in funding and make suggestions for improvement. For them, it wasn't "just about November," it was about being heard. What's my point? Republicans in both DC and NC accuse the Democratic Party of using issues and the people affected for political purposes, and casual statements affirming that accusation are not helpful, no matter how excited you get in the moment.

Damning report on teachers' out-of-pocket expenses

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When government austerity creeps into the classroom:

Pencils, pens, crayons, construction paper, T-shirts, snacks and, sometimes, a pair of shoes: The costs add up for public school teachers who reach into their own pockets for classroom supplies, ensuring their students have the necessities of learning. Nearly all teachers are footing the bill for classroom supplies, an Education Department report found, and teachers in high-poverty schools spend more than those in affluent schools.

The report, prepared by the National Center for Education Statistics and released Tuesday, is based on a nationally representative survey of teachers during the 2015-2016 school year. It found that 94 percent of teachers pay for classroom supplies, spending an average of $479 a year. About 7 percent of teachers spend more than $1,000 a year.

Keep in mind, this is a national report. When your state's per-pupil spending hovers in the bottom 20% of schools nationwide, the burden that falls on teachers (and their students) is that much greater. We can no longer afford the GOP's bait-and-switch, where they moan about out-of-control spending, cut back on programs, brag about surpluses, then give huge tax cuts to the rich. And then when budget time comes again, they restart the same old formula. It amounts to incremental decay of our public education system, something that takes decades to repair. This is not a new problem; teachers have been suffering this funding nightmare for years. So why now? Why the big push for more responsible government funding? Because in the last 25 years or so, teachers' incomes have been steadily declining in comparison with comparable non-teacher professionals, making it much harder to make ends meet:

Manning vs. Budd: NC's 13th shaping up to be an epic battle

And Ted Budd better pack more than a lunch:

It looks as though politically attuned residents of the 13th Congressional District might be getting something this year that hasn’t been seen in these parts for quite a while. The novelty? A highly competitive, evenly matched contest for North Carolina’s 13th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, one that could keep pollsters and political operatives on the edge of their chairs till the last vote is tabulated Nov. 6.

The rising tide of interest in the clash between freshman incumbent U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) and Democratic challenger Kathy Manning of Greensboro also extends to the national level, where activist groups across the political spectrum see it as one of about 30 races pivotal for the Republican Party’s chances of retaining its House majority against what some prognosticators view as a looming “blue wave” favoring Democrats.

Just a historical note: The only reason Ted Budd ended up in Washington in the first place was because the Club For Growth saw an opportunity to take advantage of a crowded GOP Primary, and poured money in so Budd could squeak by with a measly 20% of the vote. This race is going to garner national attention all the way through to November, and it's likely to get very ugly before it's over:

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