Subject: Political Messages
May 18, 2018. North Carolina joins the long list of protest states, Kim Jung Un is leaning towards not letting Trump play with his toys, Democrats win big in the small arena, the Senate releases Don Jr.’s diary, Trump’s check book gets an enema, someone important is getting married this weekend and we don’t give two shits about it, and Dr J is here to talk about political messages for the upcoming midterms – say hello to my little friend – I’m the Barbour and this is The BetaFiles…
The Week in News:
In a time of darkness and cold, when all seems lost to tweets and snatch grabbing, there’s one place that Americans can find solace – The BetaFiles week in News…(soundbite)
Welcome to the BetaFiles, here’s what’s trending on the cable news tickers…
Wednesday saw a flurry of news, starting with North Carolina as it became the latest state to see teachers protest over current education spending. 40 school districts closed down Wednesday in the right to work state that saw thousands of teachers put in for time off so they could descend on Raleigh and demand increased pay and spending for supplies, facilities, and better policies. Something else that North Carolina has introduced to the now running conversation over education: class size. So far, North Carolina and Oklahoma have been the only two states where demands included reform in class size, citing too many pupils for far too less teachers.
The day started with a march on the capital before moving to the mall outside the capital building where a rally for respect was staged and Governor Roy Cooper spoke. Throughout the day, state representatives and senators met with the teachers in efforts to learn more about the struggles teachers in the tar heel state were facing.
North Carolina is ranked 38th in spending per student and ranks 37th nationally at nearly $10,000 lower than the average in teacher pay. In recent years, the state has given raises, but has in turn cut pay for longtime teachers and removed bonus pay for teachers who receive an advanced degree. There is worry that the Republican led legislature is going to cut another $3.6 billion in revenue, with education as one of the major targets, again.
The protests, according to leaders of the movement, are the culmination of years of constant education cuts and policy changes that have put more and more strain on the system. The leaders of the movement hope to use the protests as a means to campaign for more candidates that support public education and support reform to the ailing system. The goal is to rally for the November elections that can help turn the state house and senate towards a more education friendly capital. Every seat in both chambers is open in the coming elections, and with the recent district re-drawing, some of the seats that were solidly republican are now extremely competitive.
State republicans claim that there is no need for the call for extra spending, claiming that this year will mark the fifth teacher raise in as many years, but what they refuse to even debate is the spending on classrooms, students, and better policies.
When asked for comment, one random citizen commented, “I don’t understand why the teachers are complaining, we already buy the kid’s crayons, glue sticks, index cards, folders, notebooks, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, markers, paper, post-its, and cup-cakes for birthdays. Why are they bitching so much?”
So let’s get this out of the way…
Another big story from Wednesday brought news that Trump paid Cohen lots of money according to his spending records given to the Office of Government Ethics. Reportedly, the $100,000 payment to Cohen was listed under the “liabilities” section of the report. In a statement from Trump’s personal lawyers, it was noted that the expense was between $100,000 and $250,000 which fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen for services rendered in 2016.
The reason why this is important: we still don’t know. He lied. He keeps lying. He will always lie. And his supporters don’t care, so we at The BetaFiles don’t care either.
Another massive story, one that matters, from Wednesday came when Twitter blew up with thousands of tweets and retweets announcing the vote on Net Neutrality in the Senate. The measure passed with all 49 Democrats and 3 Republicans voting for the move to keep Net Neutrality open, rejecting a move by the FCC last December to end it. Net Neutrality ends in June if Congress doesn’t move fully to restore it. The measure now moves to the House where it is up to Paul “I’m calling it in now” Ryan will decide if it should be taken up for a vote before sending it on to President Trump who will more than likely veto the measure as it attempts to defy his administration and its actions.
Speculation is that the move this week was more for campaigns for the Midterm elections, hoping that a larger number of Democratic wins can help bring the measure back up with a veto block vote count.
For those who are in the dark, Net Neutrality forces ISPs to allow equal bandwidth to all services dependent on the internet. Once Net Neutrality ends, many fear that the major ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will repackage their internet subscriptions, and throttle certain services such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Spotify in an effort to boost their own services, or force consumers to pay more for access to their favorite internet based services.
Several of the larger ISPs have publicly stated that they will self-regulate themselves and keep the old Net Neutrality rules as guidelines for consumers. However, with recent developments like Spectrum, who continues to raise rates to former TimeWarner customers, and the possibility of a T-Mobile and Sprint merger which may signal an industry wide increase in data plans, faith in the ISPs is little, and fears of new scaffolded data plans based on internet services are becoming a slow, painful reality.
Speaking of painful realities, Michigan State University on Wednesday announced that it would pay $500 million to the 332 alleged victims of Michigan State where Larry Nasser worked as a sports physician and was found guilty of sexual misconduct where he is serving a sentence of 40 – 170 years. The settlement is only for the Michigan State victims and does not include the victims from the US Gymnastics team who are a part of a separate lawsuit. Michigan State, with the settlement, is now free from the Nasser drama, though the stain on the University will most certainly last for years to come, much like Penn State and the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, who is still investigating the Russia Election Meddling, released thousands of documents this week which gave details on several of the better-known portions of the story. The committee, unlike their House counterpart, announced that there is significant evidence to show that Russia did indeed try to influence the election for Trump, and that the call to do so came directly from Putin himself.
The documents released also shed a more detailed light on that infamous Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr and his party of adoption advocates. The notes revealed that Don Jr was ecstatic over getting possible dirt on Hillary, the first time in decades someone was excited to see her noughties, that Trump himself was personally responsible for the confusing misleads over the meeting when it became public, and Paul Manafort doesn’t know how to take damning notes about a meeting he’s not supposed to be a part of.
What it all means is that there is still plenty to learn about the dirty dealings of the bumbled Trump campaign and their attempt to use Russian intelligence against Hillary.
In the spirit of elections gone wrong, there were primaries this week which sent waves through the Democratic party, however, they were not the waves they had hoped for.
On Tuesday, in several contests in four states, the far left wing of the Democratic party won huge upsets, sending worries through the party that the moderate side of the party may be losing power in a moment when moderate politics is in desperate demand. The wins are a sign of several social responses to the current climate: 1) that the left is vehemently against anything Trump, 2) that the extreme politics of the far right have sparked a desperate call for an equal and opposite reaction from the far left, 3) Bernie is a much better catalyst for liberals than any other Democrat out there at the moment.
What this means is that come November, there is fear that the moderate base that did not vote in those primaries will come out and move toward the Republican candidates who show more convincing signs of playing to the middle than the farther left wing candidates.
However, critics also point that this midterm could be a repeat of what happened in 2010 and 2014 when the Tea Party rose to power through midterm upsets. The largest campaign messages from these extreme candidates focus on health care for all, education, and immigration reform that includes solidifying programs such as DACA and work visa programs, recent targets of the Trump administration.
The moves have put new pressure on Bernie and his followers as it appears that even though he may not win a second bid at the presidency, it is obvious that he has become somewhat of a Democratic guru, and the far left is starting to steer the party away from the middle, much like the Neo-cons of the late nineties that steered the far right towards a Koch brother controlled tea party agenda.
On Sunday, the New York Times ran an expose on Betsy Devos and the department of education discussing how the department has derailed an investigation into for profit universities and wide spread abuses by those institutions. The teams that were in charge of investigating have been, the article claims, marginalized, reassigned, or instructed to focus on other matters, forcing them to slow down on the investigations and keep the remaining abuses to continue.
The smelly sock in the laundry basket is the fact that the universities that were at the top of the list being investigated are institutions where Mrs. Devos’ main advisors used to work.
The investigations, begun under the Obama administration, focus on advertising, recruitment practices, and fraudulent job placement claims from institutions such as DeVry, Strayer, and ECPI.
The investigations into DeVry slowed to a crawl last year when Devos hired former DeVry dean Julian Schmoke as the new supervisor to the investigation into – wait for it – DeVry. The investigation is technically still under way, but the team is down to 3 people who spend their time processing student loan forgiveness applications for DeVry.
In addition to the investigations into DeVry, Strayer and ECPI, four other investigations have been halted with half a dozen former for profit administrators assigned to upper offices in the department of education, and given significant power over the investigations, which have been all but abandoned.
DeVos has also rolled back regulations previously put in place after the collapse of both Corinthian Colleges and ITT in 2016. Critics, which include Senator Elizabeth Warren, are crying out that the moves by DeVos are built to put the industry’s interests ahead of its students, who find it harder to get a well paid job with the degrees they receive, and are saddled with enormous amounts of debt.
The DeVry investigation, the largest currently, became a point of contention with DeVos’ transition team early on in the administration, and has been the subject of several calls for re-opening and re-evaluating that have gone no-where. The signs all point in the same direction: DeVos is helping make for profits richer while their students pay the tab.
On a personal note, as a public instructor and assistant professor for a non-profit public institution, stay away from these institutions. Their degrees are worthless, the education you receive is not complete, and the amount of money needed is far more than a public education. These institutions are corner cuts for a piece of paper. When you cut corners, you get what you pay for. Cut corners.
Finally, the royal wedding. I blame Disney for our fascination with the royals. I blame Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and all the other Disney Princesses for this unholy worshipping of two people that are far richer than most of us. Their reception dinner will be more expensive than a dozen houses in a typical suburban neighborhood.
One thing I am happy about is this: Harry is getting a little attention. With William and Kate making like rabbits lately, its about time the other brother got some love. So, for all of us here at The BetaFiles, congrats, Harry and Megan. We wish you happiness and a better shot than Fergie got.
And that’s the news, or some of it, for this week…(exit soundbite)
Welcome to the LocalFiles. This week we look at Ville Platte, Louisiana where our story comes from the Ville Platte Gazette.
Local recent LSU English Graduate Jordan LaHaye has made the news as she is set to publish her first book, a creative non-fiction take on her Great Grandfather and his mysterious kidnapping and murder when he was the president of Guaranty Bank in Ville Platte. The book idea was born from her senior thesis at the University, and she has had the full support of her faculty who have advised her on interviews, research techniques, and marketing. The young Louisianan has always wanted to write and claims to have written her first book in Kindergarten about the Lords Prayer, the only thing she really knew.
She followed her dream into an English BA with a minor in mass communications claiming, “journalism is a good way to be able to write” on a more constant basis. She has written about folklore, local festivals, urban legends of her community, and women and gender studies. She has been published several times by Country Road magazine in Baton Rouge and In Register also of Baton Rouge which she completed an internship with while contributing. She has found success when she has kept her writing focused on local stories, where she has been able to bring older, forgotten tales back to life for the younger generations of the local community.
LaHaye also notes that she realized in her studies at the university that “people are interested in hearing about personal experiences. Some of the best writings are memoir types of things.”
She plans to work at a magazine somewhere, but as for the novel, she is still researching and writing, hoping to shed light on another local story, one that hits very close to her.
Found in 1983, the body of her great grandfather had been missing for 10 days after being abducted from his home at knifepoint. His kidnapper had demanded a ransom of half a million dollars, but never called again. The story rocked the area when he was found in a bayou. Now, 35 years later, Jordan LaHaye is preparing a creative non-fiction book that will tell his story for her community and the nation.
And that’s all for the LocalFiles for this week, remember, if you have a local story you want read on the BetaFiles, email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send it through Facebook messenger or Twitter DM. You can find us on both networks as thebetafiles. (exit soundbite)
Dr J Segment:
(soundbite for J)
Ok –it is time to welcome my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. who is here to join me in a short discussion about Political Messages ahead of the coming midterm elections in America…What’s up, man?
This week, I want to take a moment to address the elephant that will not leave the room: President Trump.
I remember back in the late 90s when I was in college, I had a debate with a fellow classmate in my British Lit class over Bill Clinton. At the time, we had just learned about Monica Lewinski, and my sparing partner that day was adamant that then President Clinton needed to be removed from office because he had lied under oath about his sexual exploits. Ken Star was a house hold name, Paula Jones was another. We had just escaped a government shutdown where Clinton won a political victory over Newt and the “Republican revolutionaries” of the ’94 midterms.
My stance was simple: he was the first President to get caught with his pants down, literally. My contention was that all Presidents had lied about affairs, all the way back as far as we could count Presidents with maybe the lone exception of John Adams.
We know about Kennedy and his exploits, about FDR and his getaways with his mistress, about Johnson and his pride over his Texas sized Johnson, etc. Why was this new?
The major problem: he lied under oath.
That was a stickler, and it warranted the scrutiny it deserved.
So, living through that moment, I can’t help but to compare it with our current moment and the Stormy Daniels affair.
I have heard numerous conservatives and liberals that lean moderate say the same thing I said 20 years ago: why do we care? We need to let the man do his job.
The problem is that he is not doing his job. Unlike Clinton who was able to keep the Lewinski mess at arm’s length, Trump and his people are constantly engaging with the scandal. On top of this, the story is in constant flux, changing almost daily with a cast of characters that would be more comfortable in a small Italian restaurant in New York than the capital of our country.
The real problem I have with our President is not that he defeated Hillary. He won the electoral college, and in America, when you win the Electoral College, you win the Presidency. He won it. I dealt with it. I have gotten over it.
No, the problem I have is his character. He lies. Every day. He lies about lies that he lied about. FoxNews uses his lies as fact, and millions of Americans who honestly believe they have been forgotten believe the lies and defend these lies as fact in the face of being proven wrong because of the supposed deep state conspiracy to remove him from office.
First of all, there is no working conspiracy to remove him from office. It is a know fact that the Russian government, under control of Vladimir Putin, infiltrated and influenced the 2016 Presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. The NSA, CIA, FBI, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Senate have all proven this fact to be true. This is not a conspiracy, it is known because actual given facts have been provided to show that this actually happened.
Secondly, the Trump campaign had an unusual amount of contact with a host of highly influential Russians who all have direct ties to Putin and his bank accounts. We know this too because we have tons of physical, digital, and testimonial evidence that show the Trump campaign was in contact with these people.
Third, Trump himself acts everyday as if he is guilty as sin of these actions. His actions scream someone who is guilty, and calls for simply answering questions if he is actually innocent are answered with the call “witch-hunt.”
On top of all of this is the Stormy Daniels mess. What the scandal with the porn star is doing is exposing things that would not be seen if we were simply looking for Russian ties as it establishes patterns in behaviors from a man who, as noted before, lies constantly.
Add it all together and we have a man who, either directly or indirectly, was involved with the largest hijacking of our democracy in the short history of our country.
And we don’t care.
We don’t. We haven’t. We won’t.
The loudest patriots in our country scream their support for this man, too. Questioning the stench that rose from the 2016 election shows un-patriotic motives against a truly great, Christian friendly, man. A man who is in constant trouble with taking advantage of, demeaning, and having multiple extra-marital affairs with women that Evangelicals overlook because of his blatant racist views that plays right into white Christian rhetoric.
He didn’t create the divide in our country, but he empowered the people that want the divide to remain. Nativism is dangerous. Nativism is racist. Nativism is a dark alley that we do not want to go down. Nativism is fascism.
I will not come out and call the man a fascist. He is not one. He is not smart enough to be one. He is, however, a power hungry narcissist who only cares about himself and only himself. He will only do that which will benefit him. He does not care about the people who support him outside of their undying support which serves to give him what he wants: more power.
I often scratch and bend my head when I am confronted with the reality that Trump supporters, the vehement ones, have created inside their heads. I do not understand how we got here.
I remember when GW was President, and even though I didn’t agree with much ( if anything) of what he did, I scolded my ex-brother in law and ex-wife over wishing the man dead, loudly telling them regardless of his policies, he is still our President, and the office deserves our respect.
Unfortunately, we live in a time with a President who does not respect the office, and continuously attempts to use it for his own personal gain, and a large swath of our population refuses to acknowledge this fact.
Being conservative does not mean you have to defend this man. In fact, he betrays not only liberal ideals, he betrays basic conservative ideals that the Tea Party and Neo Cons before them destroyed. We live in an era now that conservatism equals radical far right agendas. That is not true conservatism, and this President is not a true conservative.
I end this with an excert from a conversation I had with my mother about a year into this administration. My mother asked me why I didn’t like Trump, and I answered her this way: “Do you remember when I was a kid, you would tell me to clean my room as if the President (then Ronald Regan) were coming for a visit. You, my mother, taught me to respect the President of our country because he was simply that. Our President. I have respected every President I have had in my time on this planet, but I cannot respect this man.” She asked why not, and I told her, “because, mama, he doesn’t respect you and me.”
And that simple character trait of his is why I cannot and will not support this man. And it is why citizens in this country should not do so either.
And if you say that other politicians do the same, I remind you that he won the Presidency with the message that the “forgotten men and women of this country will be forgotten no longer.”
Just one of the many lies he has told, and one that many truly believe.
And that’s the show for this week. Next week, we’ll have another fun look at the headlines from the week, Dr J will join me for a fun discussion about who knows what, and so much more. For Dr J, I am The Barbour, thank you for coming by. Make it a great day, and always remember, as long as the sun rises there is opportunity. Take it…
This has been The BetaFiles.