As the Democrats bend to the Augean tasks facing them, there is a danger that one vital issue will get sidelined: the need to stop wasting money, and our children's lives, on yet one more failed Bush policy: No Child Left Behind. In this one instance we still seem willing to believe that the law will do what it claims, and is not a fraud like Iraq, Medicare D or FEMA in New Orleans. There seem to be just enough voters who are not yet being hurt by this unrealistic and punitive law; and so we like to think that this, at least, is not a problem.
But it is a problem, one which is making life worse for the children who most need help, those at risk, mainly in our inner cities, who struggle on, abandoned by potential allies. Proclaiming "No Excuses," NCLB underestimates the difficulty of overcoming the situation, just as we underestimated the possibility of creating Iraq as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. We are still claiming to be able to solve a problem we have not bothered to understand.
NCLB was not designed by educators, and least of all by child psychologists who understand what helps children learn, or makes learning harder. It was designed by businessmen who, in their own conceit, imagine that they can just "turn around" a school as one might a business. All that is missing is -- the human factor. Urging children to simply "work harder" is not the way to educate them for anything but life on the plantation. It is certainly not the way to prepare students to vote.
Things will not improve until we restore programs to get those at-risk on the same footing as the more affluent. Basically, poor children are already behind when they enter public schools, and they certainly don't need constant testing. They need day care that is professional, affordable and accessible; and they need expanded Head Start and similar early childhood education. They don't need arcane systems that reward those who are doing well, at the expense of those who really need help.
The more closely you look at NCLB, the more wrong-headed it can be seen to be. We need help for education; but this is not help. It is more scarce money wasted. When it comes up for renewal next year, at least we should revoke this program, so that we can then make a new and better start.
Nancy W. Rader, M.Ed.
"Populists Keep Fighting!" [12/15/06 TPP] was a timely and inspiring editorial as it laid out the core values of what it means to be a real Democrat.
Medicare for All is closer to happening than it has been in the past 12 years. Right on cue, Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) spoke to a crowd of hundreds on Nov. 28, in New York City on Universal Health Care, his passion for all Americans. His bill in Congress, known as HR 676, would provide affordable coverage for all 300 million of us, with an improved and expanded Medicare for all.
As we changed the political landscape in the midterm elections, we must also hold our representatives in Congress responsible for delivering on HR 676 and passing this bill. This isn't just a progressive issue; it is a bipartisan issue that affects every segment of our population; soon corporate America, unions and everyone else will get it. It is clear that our global dominance has diminished by unleveling the playing field due to the burden of health care costs. Rick Wagoner, CEO of GM, should be a leading voice for HR 676, as his employees and retirees health costs in 2005 was $5.6 billion. I have sent copies of my website (www.citizensforhr676.org) to all of the leaders of the incoming majority party, and, yes, to Rick Wagoner as well. In the 110th Congress we can expect health care to move to the top of the agenda. You can bet it will become a defining issue for the one we choose to become our next Democratic president. The issue is so hot that early next year the New York State Assembly health committee will have a hearing on Universal Health Care for the uninsured in the state. New York plans on closing down nine hospitals, merging others and reconfiguring many more when the recent state commission's report is acted on. Free markets and competition has failed in health care and has no place. Health care should function like our municipal services -- such as the police and fire departments, as nonprofits. The hundreds of thousands of unused beds in our hospital system nationally, with 4700 in New York State, is going to set off a domino effect. This will bring the issue to the front burner at long last.
Founder of Citizens for HR 676
New York, N.Y.
Regarding Michael Moore's "Landslide!" letter [12/1/06 TPP], thank Moore for his leadership. Humility is the courage to speak truth to power. His Stupid White Men (2001) and Dude, Where's My Country (2003) books and Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) documentary gave progressive populists the talking points to help get our message out to the American people. Samuel Clemens took it as a pen name, but everyone who tells his congressional representative and senators what they are supposed to do to represent them is a "Mark Twain." America is our riverboat. If we don't keep dropping a line from the bow to find out how deep the river is it will run aground again.
Rep. Jesse Jackson's constitutional amendment to let every American of age vote and have every vote counted should be a priority. America must never have a stolen election again.
I thank the whole TPP crew for their "Mark Twain" service and Air America talk show host Randi Rhodes for reminding us that "integrity and character is what you do when no one's looking." She has the time and money to read books I can't afford and has noticed that many members of the "Iraq Study Group" are people then-Pres. George H.W. Bush pardoned after they were convicted of criminal activity in the Iran-Contra Scandal.
Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St. Louis, Mo.
One couldn't agree more with [Robert Jensen's] conclusions and description of the dilemma we will all be facing sometime in the future ["The Coming Train Wreck," 12/1/06 TPP].
Recklessness, ignoring the signals and throwing caution to the wind is a recipe for disaster in any and all circumstances.
The train is definitely headed toward its demise, but unfortunately the passengers have no influence or control over the conductor, because he is in the employ of the ownership of the train and essentially powerless, lest he be given permission to apply the brakes.
The passengers are just incidental and accidental riders and totally at the mercy of the decision rendered by the proprietors.
Our "unique" two-party system has been totally usurped by the "owners" and our representatives are in the employ and bondage to them.
If people were to take to the streets and demand for their wants and needs to be addressed, it is bound to fall on deaf ears and fail, because of the impotency of our "elected officials" who are powerless to intercede on our behalf.
In all honesty, I see no way out of this cul de sac (or cliff) the train is headed for and sincerely hope that my "intuitions" will prove to be invalid in light of future developments.
Red Bluff, Calif.
Mr. John Nichols is right in suggesting that Nancy Pelosi must ponder impeachment ["For Republic's Sake, Pelosi Must Ponder Impeachment," 12/1/06 TPP]. In his article he has covered quite a few points to prove that such a step would enhance the political status of the Democratic Party. Mr. Nichols did not get into the subject of our relations with Iraq in particular and the Muslim world at large, as to why such an impeachment proceedings would help. Nancy Pelosi maybe aware of the damage done by Bush with "his" war on Iraq but the full extent of this folly is yet to be felt. If the civil war in Iraq ever spills over to other Mid-East nations, there will be a calamity -- millions of lives may be involved -- trade and business will suffer -- crude oil price will be in three figures -- foreign interest and assets of our nation will be jeopardized for years to come. It is absolutely necessary to show the world that we Americans do not condone "war criminals" and if need be we will "tar and feather" them. It may already be too late to salvage the damage done but we have to try. If need be we should put Bush & Associates behind bars and if it helps let this imprisonment be in Abu Ghraib. Whatever works -- Pelosi should go for it.
Bush has, of course, committed many impeachable offenses. Impeach-ment, however, distracts our Attention-Deficit-Disordered congressmen from important business. Too, those wannabe fascists who elected Bush in 2004 (2000 by appointment only) should have to live with it for another two years.
Better to rein in American hubris and revitalize our relationship with the rest of the world's people would be the sight of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, Wolfowitz, Hillary, McCain, et. al. standing in the dock in [The Hague].
True justice and irony would demand their hanging at Nuremberg, but we can't always get what we want.
Brian F. Wood
I suggest adding an item to David Corn's "Loyal Opposition -- Democratic To-Do-List" [12/1/06 TPP]: the enactment of legislation making a federal election day a national holiday in order to help many citizens who experience long delays from either an inadequate number of voting machines or inoperable machines, a form of disenfranchisement.
As a nation attempting to impose our "democratic" system on other nations, the United States has a shockingly low voter turnout for presidential and congressional elections. In a 1996 survey of 31 nations, only three nations had lower voter turnout than the US. ...
As illustrated by Puerto Rico, a way to encourage voter turnout would be to enact legislation making federal election days national holidays. This would require either having one additional holiday every two years or by moving Columbus Day to election day every other year. This would give Americans more time to vote, especially if they have to stand in line for several hours because of an inadequate number of operable voting machines. It would also free up many computer-savvy younger persons to serve as election judges.
The federal Election Day holiday law could be quickly enacted, in time for the 2008 elections. Congress was almost instantly convened in connection with Terri Schiavo.
The Election Day holiday may appeal to those who believe that there should be maximum participation in a democracy, mainly Democrats, but may be opposed by those who believe it is in our best interest to limit voter participation, mainly Republicans.
Edward L. Koven
Highland Park, Ill.
All the TV news shows Friday morning Nov. 17, featured George Bush standing in the peaceful country of Vietnam, that represents no threat to the United States, is trading with us, and has the second fastest growing economy in the far east; saying that there is a lesson to be learned from the Vietnamese war. The lesson he claims is that we can win in Iraq if we don't give up and leave! What kind of an idiot is he? What his presence in a peaceful country that is our trading partner, that represents no threat to any other country and in which his approval rating is higher than it is in the United States, proves is that both the reason used to justify fighting the war in Vietnam and the dire predictions of what would happen if we pulled out were totally wrong.
There was no domino effect as predicted with country after country in the Far East going communist when North Vietnam won and we pulled out. Fact is that the only countries in which communism has survived are the ones we have fought or attempted to control. If anything, the lesson anyone but a complete idiot would have learned is that we should not have entered another unnecessary conflict and should keep our noses out of other countries' business. The only point Bush made with his stupid statement was that the United States is still led by a complete idiot who is out of touch with reality.
Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator. But there are others who have as much blood on their hands, or more.
There are thousands of people dying in the Middle East in a war partially planned by people who say today they are sorry to have backed up the war in Iraq. In reality, they were the architects of this war.
Iraq under S. Hussein was better off even with the sanctions imposed on this country, than the situation today, drifting toward a civil war.
If S. Hussein is put to death because of his crimes, so should be others, who are responsible for the horrifying inferno raging in that region today.
Lake Worth, Fla.
Ah, yes, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Reagan administration operative via the American Heritage Institute, US Ambassador to the UN, covered in the blood of Central American innocents, big promoter of Iran-Contra. I vividly remember her standing up before Congress in 1980 after the rape and murder of the four church women in El Salvador and justifying this atrocity on the basis that they were "probably subversives" and Communist sympathizers. What a vile and evil person, no matter what her hagiographers and obituary writers say.
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