Obama administration calls for standardized testing caps, but activists are skeptical

Education Secretary Arne Duncan

Education Secretary Arne Duncan

Education has been one of the Obama administration’s worst policy areas, with President Obama and outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushing standardized testing endlessly, among other problem moves. So it’s really good to see them walking back the test-and-punish model at least a little, as they announced over the weekend with a call to cap standardized testing to no more than two percent of time spent in the classroom. But while what we’ve heard from the administration so far sounds good, it’s not enough.

“I still have no question that we need to check at least once a year to make sure our kids are on track or identify areas where they need support,” said Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, who has said he will leave office in December. “But I can’t tell you how many conversations I’m in with educators who are understandably stressed

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Budget, debt ceiling deal close, sources say

U.S. President Barack Obama (C) hosts a bipartisan meeting of Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, January 13, 2015. Pictured (L to R) are Speaker of the House John Boehner, Obama, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc

Dealing?

There is panic over John Boehner’s looming departure from the House speakership, and according to one early report, it’s leading the White House to do really stupid shit.

While congressional aides cautioned that the deal was far from certain, and the White House and Treasury Department declined to comment, officials briefed on the negotiations said the emerging accord would call for cuts in spending on Medicare and Social Security disability benefits.

That’s the New York Times. CNN has a bit more detail and is less alarming.

The deal is expected to include $70 billion-$75 billion in increased spending for defense and domestic spending, sources said. That new spending would be offset by sales from the strategic petroleum oil reserve, use of public airwaves for telecommunications companies and changes to the crop insurance program—among other measures. Moreover, the deal would spread out increases in Medicare premiums over time so beneficiaries

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Obama tackles climate change in weekly address, challenges Congress to act


After all, as Pope Francis reminds us so eloquently, this planet is a gift from God – and our common home. We should leave it to our kids in better shape than we found it.

President Obama tackled climate change—both the progress being made to fight it and the challenges ahead—in his weekly address this morning, laying out the achievements of his administration: more acreage set aside as public lands, local alliances created to protect endangered wildlife, creation of numerous sanctuaries, and joining an international coalition to fight illegal overfishing.
He also pointed to America’s leadership in lowering emissions and working on clean energy solutions, claiming that this leadership will help guide the Paris talks in December when countries will work together to tackle climate change challenges. But there’s more to be done domestically, and he knows where to start:

Now Congress has to do its job. This month, even

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Cartoon: Hot spikes through the forehead


If you blinked, you may have missed the Drone Papers report that was just released. I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear of the investigative report by the crew over at The Intercept and their anonymous source who leaked classified material. The nutshell version: those drones that do so much heavy lifting for United States foreign policy are not as neat and effective as you’d like to think. (Which we all pretty much knew already, now it’s just doubly, awfully confirmed.)

Imagine if the policy of “targeted killings” was carried out by some other means other than those marvelous high tech drone contraptions. (Remember, “drones” aren’t the policy, “assassination” is the policy.) What would we think of a policy that killed people who weren’t the intended targets about 90% of the time? We’re not talking about missiles going off course, we’re talking about intelligence failures and by

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Vice President Biden will not run for President

Barack Obama in Springfield, Illinois, right after Biden was formerly introduced by Obama as his running mate. August 23rd, 2008

After months of speculation about whether he’d run for president in 2016, Vice President Biden will be speaking early Wednesday afternoon from the Rose Garden at the White House. No word yet on whether he’ll be sharing his final decision on that. He will reportedly be accompanied by President Obama.
We’ll update as there’s more information.

9:19 AM PT: Biden says that he’s said all along that the grieving process after his son Beau’s death might close the window for running for president, and he’s concluded that that window has closed.

9:20 AM PT: “While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent […] Democrats should not only defend this record and protect this record, they should run on the record.”

9:29 AM PT: Biden speaks out against inequality and for the middle class, calling for free public higher education: “We all

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Team Jeb claims Dubya ‘inherited’ 9/11 and recession

The Republicans' Magic Calendar.

Stung by Donald Trump’s self-evident truth that history did not begin on September 12, 2001 and end at noon on January 20, 2009, Jeb Bush asked, “Does anybody actually blame my brother for 9/11?” As it turns out, this is hardly the first time the former Florida governor complained about the unkindness the calendar has shown his brother. In August 2012, Jeb declared it was “unbecoming” for Barack Obama to continue to “blame others” for the economic calamity he inherited from George W., and went so far as to suggest the president should be “spanked” for pointing the finger at his brother. And in April 2009—just weeks after Obama entered the Oval Office in the midst of the greatest American economic calamity since the Great Depression—Jeb protested:

“If I had one humble criticism of President Obama, it would be to stop this notion of somehow framing

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If the party that loses can impose its will, why bother having elections?

U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney are pictured during the second U.S. presidential campaign debate in Hempstead, New York, October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

One of these guys won, and the other lost. That’s democracy.

What’s the point of elections? Seriously, think about it for a minute. In the most practical terms, elections are how we, the people select the leaders who—within the boundaries set by the Constitution—will make the laws and determine the policies by which we live. For better or worse, our system is designed to make it very difficult for one party to make significant policy changes unless it wins both the White House and majorities of both houses of Congress. This includes a very large majority in the Senate thanks to the way the filibuster operates now, which is radically different from only a generation or two ago (opponents of Medicare, for example, never seriously considered one).
Behind all the craziness going on in the House that John Boehner so desperately wants to leave is a faction of his party

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