Boehner resigns, Cruz explodes in lies, shutdown averted — maybe?

The always charming Ted Cruz reacts to the news that John Boehner will be resigning from Congress next month:

If it is correct that the speaker, before he resigns, has cut a deal with Nancy Pelosi to fund the Obama administration for the rest of its tenure, to fund Obamacare, to fund executive amnesty, to fund Planned Parenthood, to fund implementation of this Iran deal — and then, presumably, to land in a cushy K Street job after joining with the Democrats to implement all of President Obama’s priorities, that is not the behavior one would expect of a Republican speaker of the House.

Unsurprisingly, this isn’t true:

Following Boehner’s announcement, House Republicans said there was agreement to pass a clean spending bill to keep the government open. Several members of the Freedom Caucus, the conservative group which led the revolt against Boehner’s leadership, said they will now support the spending bill without demands that it include language to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood.

So no deal with the evil Nancy Pelosi was necessary. Imagine that. I guess we’ll have to wait and see about the cushy K Street job, though.

I’m starting to agree with the “worse – the better” crowd. Waiting for the birdbrains in the Righter-than-Right crowd in Congress to shut the government down, again, is becoming sort of satisfying. And I don’t trust the tale of members of the so-called Freedom Caucus now supporting a clean spending bill. Their careers include as many lies as myths.

They still may force a shutdown by the time debt limit extension rolls around in December. Ain’t anyone in America going to forget that kind of holiday season present from the Republican Party.

Anyone expect Congress to pay attention to folks who don’t vote?

…Americans who vote are different from those who don’t. Voters are older, richer, and whiter than nonvoters, in part because Americans lack a constitutional right to vote and the various restrictions on voting tend to disproportionately impact the less privileged. In 2014, turnout among those ages 18 to 24 with family incomes below $30,000 was 13 percent. Turnout among those older than 65 and making more than $150,000 was 73 percent. The result is policy that is biased in favor of the affluent. As I argue in a new report, “Why Voting Matters,” higher turnout would transform American politics by giving poor, young, and nonwhite citizens more sway…

But would boosting turnout actually change policy? We have reason to think so. Research suggests that voters are indeed better represented than nonvoters, but the historical and international record lend support to the thesis as well…

The expansion of the franchise to women is…instructive. As women gained access to the franchise within the United States, state government spending increased dramatically… Indeed, the enfranchisement of women boosted spending on public health so significantly that it saved an estimated 20,000 children each year.

Later, the civil rights movement mobilized the Southern black electorate, which led to more liberal voting patterns among Southern Democrats and a boost in government spending going to black communities. The elimination of poll taxes and the subsequent mobilization of poor voters also lead to an increase in welfare spending.

There are many reasons the United States doesn’t have an expansive welfare state, like nearly every other high-income country. However, one important part is low voter turnout…There is a dramatic divergence between the United States and other countries in terms of both voter turnout and government spending…

But deep differences in turnout based on income, age, and race only serve to further reduce the poor’s say. In the status quo, politicians don’t have incentives to listen to ordinary Americans, because it won’t cost them anything. That won’t change until turnout among nonwhite and poor voters increases. There are a number of ways that government can encourage voting: by fixing the Voting Rights Act, by enacting automatic voter registration, by repealing voter ID laws. All would give the poor more voice, and give policies they support a better chance of passage.

Of course, the changes advocated by McElwee don’t stand much chance of enactment without replacing most of the conservative Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Who needs to be convinced of the usefulness of that?

Bloomington, Minnesota addresses 3rd-grade literacy before kids get there

I volunteer at a local elementary school on Monday mornings, tutoring children who are behind in reading. This week, I worked with Carla [name changed], a third-grade dual language learner who is reading at a first-grade level. She knows that she is behind and her confidence is low. She told me how much she disliked reading and insisted that she would never catch up to her peers. I could see Carla’s frustration mounting during our hour together. She’s feeling pressure from the invested adults in her life–teachers, school leaders, parents, and tutors–to get up to speed quickly.

That pressure isn’t without reason: Third-grade reading proficiency is predictive of future success, both inside and outside of the classroom. It has become one of the most commonly cited indicators of student achievement. To use one example: students who aren’t proficient readers by the end of third grade are less likely to graduate high school. Readers who are not yet proficient by the end of third grade are ill-prepared for fourth, a transitional year in which content and texts become much more complex. Children who are not up to speed by then continue to fall further and further behind.

Continue reading

Pic of the day


Click to enlargeTara Ruby Photography

Photo of breastfeeding El Paso soldiers garners global attention

A group photo showing women soldiers breastfeeding their babies at a military base in El Paso went viral this week. In the picture, 10 mothers in camouflage uniforms hold 10 hungry babies to their chests.

El Paso photographer Tara Ruby took the picture at Fort Bliss Army base with the intention of donating it as decoration for a room recently reserved for breastfeeding soldiers.

“The room is intended so they can have a private area to go and pump their breast milk and then they have a refrigerator so they can store it,” Ruby said…

She shared the photo on her professional Facebook page late one evening, but when she looked the next morning, it had disappeared. Ruby reposted the photo and it has since been shared around the world, picked up by CNN, Time, the BBC and many others. Facebook has not responded to questions about what happened to the photo.

Meanwhile, Ruby said it’s stirred discussion about a lack of accommodations for nursing Army moms.

The Army is the only military branch that doesn’t have a policy on breastfeeding, according to a column in the Army Times written this year by Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. She’s trying to change that with an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that’s currently stalled in Congress.

Best bumper sticker I’ve seen this week said REPLACE CONGRESS. On the back of a van belonging to a recent Emmy winner no less. OTOH, I still believe electoral politics is useful for mobilizing public opinion if nothing else. Go for it, folks.

I know we have ignoranus congress-critters who don’t comprehend the health and cultural values of breastfeeding. Cripes, they’re elected – no doubt – by fools who don’t comprehend evolution, science or democracy. In a state of permanent intellectual constipation, I don’t expect the peabrains in that crowd to change. But, pressure can be brought to bear on officials who try at a modicum of understanding of progress and reality.