Short Term Plan May Lead to US Bond Rating Drop

Markets hate uncertaintly


“I think it is important to emphasize that most people think both of the plans are really Band-Aids and don’t deal in any significant way with the spending and cost issues in the country,” Burnett said. “The issue was that Speaker Boehner’s plan does not cut enough spending right away. Harry Reid’s plan would cut about $2.7 trillion. Just because it is bigger than Speaker Boehner’s plan is really the reason the Boehner plan may still trigger a downgrade.”

Burnett was far from equivocal. At one point she added that, per a conversation with an investor, “in the short material, either deal will probably be enough.” But then she went back to waxing skeptically at the Boehner approach.

“Really interesting this afternoon, when I was talking to an investor who had met with the ratings agencies at Standard & Poor, talking about the potential of a downgrade — which by the way could raise interest rates the same way a potential default could — and they said the Boehner plan probably wouldn’t hit the hurdle to prevent a downgrade,” she added. “Even if that deal was reached, you could still get a downgrade. It is unclear whether that would happen for sure, but that would be a real possibility. Whereas the Reid plan, even though a lot of the parts of that are seen by many as gimmicks, probably would pass that hurdle and you wouldn’t get that immediate downgrade. That’s an interesting distinction.”

Define Big Mess

Arkansas High School names white student with lower GPA co-valedictorian to avoid a big mess.  Given I’m writing about this, I think we can say the whole avoiding a big mess was a giant Fail.

Wimberly’s mother is the school’s “certified media specialist.” She says in the federal discrimination complaint that after her daughter had been told she would be valedictorian, the mother heard “in the copy room that same day, other school personnel expressed concern that Wimberly’s status as valedictorian might cause a ‘big mess.'”
McGehee Secondary School is predominantly white, and 46 percent African-American, according to the complaint. Bratton says that the day after she heard the “big mess” comment, McGehee Principal Darrell Thompson, a defendant, told her “that he decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian,” although the white student had a lower G.P.A.

I want to have been in the room when the school’s lawyer looked around and asked, “Who’s the fucking idiot who thought this was a good idea?”

Because there is no other way to respond to idiots of this level.   One might think the school would be embarrassed that for the first time in 22 years someone of the the race of 46 percent of the students was going to be valedictorian.  Most people would be breathing a sigh of relief that they could show some very minor progress towards racial equity in the school system.  Not these assclowns–they were worried some white folks would have their feelings hurt because we treated a student equally under the law.  Fucking geniuses.

In D.C. Apparently Crazy is Catching Here So No Idea If I’ll Come Back Safely

It’s hard to imagine that the Republican Party has gone so far crazy that they are allowing the modern day Michael Flanagan AKA Joe Walsh try and have anything resembling a clue regarding the debt. 

And so, when a Democratic president, who cares about discretionary spending, and who knows it’s not a significant source of red ink, offers a massive $1 trillion cut to that spending, that is a real compromise. When President Obama also offers $650 billion in entitlement cuts over 10 years — cuts that would hurt his party’s constituents and anger his strongest supporters, that is a real compromise. When the White House offers hundreds of billions less in new revenue than any of the three (rather center-right) bipartisan budget proposals on the table — indeed, offers almost $4 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenue — that is a real compromise.

Democrats should note that the president was so desperate for a deal he went well to the right of the proposals to which rock-ribbed Republicans like Sen. Tom Coburn and former senator Pete Domenici had agreed. Republicans should note that nobody is talking about higher tax rates, but about eliminating loopholes, subsidies, and deductions, and doing fundamental tax reform in a way that conservative economists have advocated for decades.

Add to this Reid’s plan that was rejected and had no revenue increases and you see one party in this negotiation doesn’t want a deal.  All of which is fine, but this should be a non-controversial issue, but it is an essential issue for the financial health of the nation.  There’s a perfectly good way to have this fight and not endanger the full faith and credit of the US–fight over this in the budget.  The GOP can even shut down the government and do far less harm.

Some Promising News on Teacher Evaluation

A new report on principals conducting  teacher evaluations in the CPS:


“There’s been concerns by unions that principals don’t know what is going on in the classroom in large high schools or they may know what’s going on but for personal reasons they don’t base decisions on who is most effective, but rather who they like,” Jacob said. “What we found is that principals can identify teachers who are more productive and that it’s important to them in making dismissals.”

Prior to the new union contract negotiated in Chicago in 2004, virtually no teacherswere dismissed for cause in the district, Jacob says. But when the new collective bargaining agreement went into effect, principals every spring could log into a district computer system and with “a click of a button” indicate whether the probationary teacher should be renewed. Although the principals were required to provide district officials with at least one reason for the firing, they were not required to justify or explain their reasoning.

At the time, teachers who had worked in the district for less than five consecutive years were on probation.

Looking at teacher personnel files, school demographic data and student test-score information, Jacob found that approximately 11 percent of the probationary teachers were dismissed each year from 2005 to 2007.

But the study showed that teachers whose performance evaluations dropped from a “superior” ranking to “satisfactory” were 22 percentage points more likely to be fired. Teachers who had more than 21 absences in a year saw a 13 percentage point increase in getting dismissed.

In grades and subjects in which students take standardized tests, Jacob found a 7 percentage point jump in elementary school teachers getting laid off because their students did not show as much academic improvement. Among high school teachers, the increase was 0.4 percentage points.

Part of the challenge for the CPS is demonstrating that the teacher evaluation process isn’t purely a punitive system.  Far too often, reform has meant firing teachers to far too many people.  The issue of accountability has become very confused during the debate.  For many of us who have worked with inner city districts the idea of accountability was having district management accountable and focused on teaching students and not being worried about the political issues who does a teacher know or how much pressure was there to protect certain people.

To make matters worse, the Obama administration has extended NCLB to include teacher evaluations being partially based on student achievement data on state tests. The problem is those state tests don’t even measure student achievement well let alone evaluate how teachers perform.   What a sane system would do is build upon the model used in Chicago above and not deal with student achievement data because those data are not suited to measuring teacher performance.  What you want to know is whether a teacher  is well prepared, using the proper pedagogical techniques, and how well they manage the classroom.  Student performance on standardized tests tends to be only modestly affected by teachers.  If a child lives in a poverty stricken neighborhood the ability to focus on school work is severely limited and hence, socio-economic status is the best predictor of how a student does on standardized tests.  Good teachers are necessary, but not sufficient causes of student achievement.  By focusing on data from standardized testing  in teacher evaluation we are not measuring teacher effectiveness, but the entire life and environment of that student.  If you focus on that sort of measure then you would end up firing teachers based more on who they teach than how they teach.  This discourages good teachers from wanting jobs with the most challenging students.

When you look at the last paragraph, I can guarantee there are a bunch of people appalled that we aren’t firing probationary teachers at a higher rate who have students who don’t show improvement on standardized tests, but the relatively low number is due to a very poor correlation between standardized test results and quality teaching.  Principals appear to be sorting that out when they are doing the evaluation and that’s a very good thing.


There’s a far more detailed bit on teacher evaluation over at Catalyst that I think really captures the issues in teacher evaluation.

Illinois is introducing a new system starting in 2012 while it is a collaborative process, the key issue right now is whether the attempt to create a new system instead of adapting an existing one will be most effective.

On a Positive Note, He Must Believe in Evolution

Allen West:


I believe we are headed towards the ultimate ideological clash in America. There is a widening chasm which has developed between those who believe in principled fiscal policies and those desiring the socialist bureaucratic nanny-state. […]

And all we hear from the President is talk about “shared sacrifice,” “tax the rich,” and “increase revenues by tax hikes.” It was just December 2010 that President Obama and the Democrats extended the Bush era tax rates for two years…now less than a year later they are FLIP-FLOPPING! […]

I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool.



So says the guy who hangs out with 1%er Biker Gangs.

Rude Bastard From Illinois

Joe Walsh should know dumb, stupid, rude, and condescending is now way to go through life.




His Chris, Chris, Chris, is like the obnoxious Sir, Sir, Sir you get from really annoying people in the service industry who decide they need to tell you where your place is (and yes, I worked retail for years and I’d put a stop to that crap when someone worked for me and they did that).

Clang Clang Clang Goes the Trolley


Marcus Bachmann Is Completely Heterosexual

Posted by on Mon, Jul 18, 2011 at 4:20 PM

A completely heterosexual man who can really pull an outfit together:

Before Vice President Dick Cheney’s visit this past summer, Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, hit the stores—”he’s got a good sense of style”—and came home with “a sleek, simple hourglass dress with a yoke collar! in winter white.” He even bought a matching coat and shoes. “I just slipped it on.”

“[Plenty] of Republican voters can relate to hoping Jesus comes back real soon,” writes Alex Pareene at Salon, “but how many GOP husbands out there would be able to buy their wives full outfits—that match and fit properly—on anything resembling short notice?”

My husband’s husband couldn’t do that on short, intermediate, or long notice.

Efficient Lightbulbs are a Threat To Democracy, But Paying Your Bills is Optional

That’s the story of this summer.  Insane idiots have taken over the US House and think that efficient light bulbs are a problem worthy of a fight, but the debt ceiling is no big deal.

John Cole has a good take at Balloon Juice that by citing, I can calm my blood pressure and not rant long run on sentences:


I know this is coming as a surprise to many in the beltway, but as we have noted before, the current GOP is filled with fanatics and imbeciles. They don’t have another plan after Cut, Cap, and Balance because they simply don’t think default will be a problem. They honestly are dumb enough to think that defaulting means cutting future spending. They simply do not understand that lifting the debt limit merely allows us to pay for what we have already spent. Those that aren’t that dumb are merely cheering it on because they think a Democrat will get the blame and because they think destroying our credit will cut down on “oppressive big government.” They simply do not understand how this will rock the entire nation. They are ignorant of how much of our financial system is tied to the treasury. They are indifferent about how this will impact every single person in the United States.

Again, we are dealing with fanatics. This is not news. These are people who think all sorts of crazy things- there is no climate change, a stem cell is a baby, the earth is only 6,000 years old, etc.

Can someone get Joe Walsh to discuss the advantages of having the world’s reserve currency.  I have no doubt it would be terribly amusing.

Definite Proof Unions Are the Problem

Eric has numbers on the rate of unionization in Illinois:


From  by Barry Hirsch (Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University) and David Macpherson (Department of Economics, Trinity University).  My little chart below shows the percentage of the overall workforce covered by unions, the percentage of the private sector and the percent of the public sector since this data set started being compiled:

YEAR   Overall/Private/Public

1983      27.4  23.4  48.5

1990  22.7  17.7   50.7

2000   19.5  14.9    49.3

2010   16.4  10.1  52.6

In other words, the overall rate of union coverage in the workforce has fallen from 27.4 percent in 1983 to 16.4 percent today. But the percentage in the public workforce has grown slightly (from 48.5 percent to 52.6 percent) over those 27 years, while the percentage in the private sector has plunged (23.4 to 10.1 percent)

So see, unions must be the problem with our economy as we have a less stable economy union strength has decreased. It all makes sense.


That is, if you are delusional and can’t deal with actual evidence.

Shocked, Shocked I Tell You

Rupert as Captain Renault:

Murdoch, 80, said he was “shocked, appalled and ashamed” at the hacking of the phone of a murdered schoolgirl by his now-shuttered News of the World tabloid. He said he had seen no evidence that victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack and their relatives were targeted by any of his papers, adding he didn’t believe the FBI had uncovered any evidence of that in a recently launched inquiry.

Who could have predicted a lifetime of trafficking in sleaze would lead to this….