Florida: Lower Grades, Lower Standards

School officials in Florida have demonstrated why the public education system is making Americans stupid: Student scores on standardized tests dropped, so school officials lowered the minimum passing grade.

According to Click Orlando, the State’s Board of Education decided in an emergency meeting Tuesday to lower the passing grade on the writing portion of Florida’s standardized test after results showed a drop in student scores.

If the passing score had not been lowered, only about one-third of students would have passed this year’s tougher Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test exam, compared with a passing rate of 80 percent or more last year. The lower passing score is expected to increase the number of students passing the exam to 48 percent for fourth grade, 52 percent for eighth grade and 60 percent for 10th grade, still well below last year’s results.

The students’ poor scores were blamed on a tougher writing portion of the standardized test this year that emphasized increased expectations for proper punctuation, capitalization, spelling and sentence structure.

Hackers Taking Over

According to news reports, the loose-knit hacktivist group Anonymous may be becoming one of the most powerful organizations on the planet.

“The entire world right now is run by information,” Anonymous hacker Chris Doyon tells Postmedia News from an undisclosed location in Canada. “Our entire world is being controlled and operated by tiny invisible 1s and 0s that are flashing through the air and flashing through the wires around us. So if that’s what controls our world, ask yourself who controls the 1s and the 0s. It’s the geeks and computer hackers of the world.”

Doyon claims that code crackers like those in Anonymous are in possession of some of the most powerful knowledge known to man. The hacker, reported to be in his late 40s, was charged last year for partaking in a Distributed Denial of Service attack on the website for the county of Santa Cruz, Calif., according to RT. Since February, the source reports, he has resided in Canada after using what he called the new “underground railroad” to escape persecution for alleged computer crimes in the States.

Doyon explains how organizations like Anonymous easily access government systems:

You know how we got access? We didn’t hack them. The access was given to us by the people who run the systems. The five-star general (and) the Secretary of Defense who sit in the cushy plush offices at the top of the Pentagon don’t run anything anymore. It’s the pimply-faced kid in the basement who controls the whole game, and Bradley Manning proved that. The fact he had the 250,000 cables that were released effectively cut the power of the US State Department in half. The Afghan war diaries and the Iran war diaries effectively cut the political clout of the US Department of Defense in half. All because of one guy who had enough balls to slip a CD in an envelope and mail it to somebody.

Doyon told RT that groups like Anonymous are currently seeking a European country that would be willing to offer them asylum.

Romney’s Big Government Military Budget

Neoconservatives love big government.

If you are among the Americans who have continually said things like “We need to unite to back Romney” or “I’m not voting for Romney, I’m voting against Obama” throughout the Republican Presidential primaries, you are simply saying “I love big government.”

Throughout his campaign, Romney has claimed that his platform is based upon less spending, smaller deficits and a renewed fiscal responsibility that would slow the United States’ inevitable economic collapse. But Romney’s budget proposal greatly grows the size of government in the name of “safety.”

Romney’s plan for defense spending includes adding in excess of $2 trillion to the U.S. deficit over the next decade, according to an analysis conducted by CNNMoney’s Travis Sharp. The plan would allow for the Pentagon to spend $4 for every $100 the American economy produces.

Romney’s plan to grow the military budget is likely indicative of his plan for a continuation of the world policing and war-happy foreign policies of both the Administrations of George Bush and Barack Obama.

An article from the CATO Institute in 2011 states: “Cutting military spending without changing our foreign policies will put additional burdens on a force strained by a decade of war. Sticking with the status quo will translate into heavier burdens on U.S. taxpayers. If the powers-that-be inside the Beltway decide that we should continue to discourage wealthy allies from defending themselves, then they should explain that to the American people.”

The campaign of GOP candidate Ron Paul, who is no longer campaigning in primary States but is still seeking delegates, released a statement regarding Romney’s military budget saying that Romney and Obama will both increase deficits:

… Americans are stuck with two presumed presidential candidates who will essentially spend an equal amount of money, thus racking up further deficits and debt.

Ron Paul has stressed time and again that to seriously tackle big government and debt we have to reduce both domestic and foreign spending. Paul’s Restore America Now plan allows for the strongest military force on earth, but within the confines of the Constitution and our budget.

Romney’s willingness to spend far more than our national deficit on just military alone does not bode well for anyone wanting to save this country from imminent bankruptcy.

Americans who now reject Obama also do not want to return to George W. Bush. Romney’s military budget alone spends more than Obama or Bush.

The Romney campaign lists as a top priority reversing military cuts put into place by the Obama Administration. For that, the candidate has received a large amount of support from conservative lawmakers from districts with military installations.

NYPD Touts Success Of ‘Stop And Frisk’

The New York Police Department is touting the success of its totalitarian “stop and frisk” police state tactics saying that policies implementation has yielded a spike in the number of firearms confiscated coinciding with a historically low murder rate in the city.

According to CNN, comparing numbers from the first three months of 2012 to the same period last year, the number of such stops increased 10 percent and the number of illicit guns taken away went up 31 percent. The report also says that the city’s murder rate has dropped by 21 percent in the same period.

“New York City continues to be the safest big city in America, and one of the safest of any size, with significantly less crime per capita … than even small cities,” NYPD said.

Critics of the tactic say that only about 6 percent of stops lead to arrests. But the stops usually lead to officers writing summonses for minor infractions like disorderly conduct. The NYPD issues more than 500,000 summonses a year, most not arising from street stops but as part of a “quality of life” campaign the department embarked on in the 1990s. Critics also claim that blacks and Latinos are disproportionately targeted to be stopped and frisked by the police.

Ron Paul Re-Strategizes, Establishment Continues To Fight Him

“Mayhem,” “ruckus” and “insanity” are all words that are being used in the most recent news reports about Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s performance last weekend.

In Oklahoma, Paul supporters and those of Mitt Romney reportedly came to blows over the nominating process, necessitating police intervention.

Paul supporters, who numbered about 600 and made up about 40 percent of the convention, used various parliamentary procedures to contest rules. The Paul side fell short of electing their slate of delegates amid allegations of foul play.

In Arizona, where Mitt’s son Josh Romney was booed for pushing his father’s approved slate, the convention began relatively peacefully, but deteriorated once Romney supporters realized how many Paul backers were in attendance.

Policymic reports: “First, the convention’s leaders attempted to confuse voters by yo-yoing them back and forth between convention halls and the main floor. In that time, several cases of ballot stuffing were reported, as well as physical assaults on two Ron Paul delegates; but it was not enough.”

When it became evident that Paul was garnering impressive delegate support, the party chair reportedly shut down the convention.

The Paul campaign announced yesterday that it would no longer focus resources on campaign in States that have yet to hold primary votes, but would continue to focus on groundwork to grab delegates throughout the country.

It still remains unclear what power Paul will have at the Republican National Convention, but the option remains that his supporters will secure enough delegate seats to put him in a role of prominence.

A Rasmussen poll last week showed that Paul polls better against President Barack Obama in a head-to-head matchup than establishment-choice moderate Romney. Paul edges out Obama by 1 percentage point, 44 to 43 percent. The survey also noted that in a hypothetical 2012 head-to-head, Obama and Romney are tied at 45 percent.

Breaking: Ron Paul Will Not Campaign In States With Upcoming Primaries, Continues Delegate Strategy

In an email sent to supporters this afternoon, Republican Presidential Ron Paul tells his supporters that he does not plan to campaign for primaries in States that have not yet voted.

The letter reads as follows:

As I reflect on our 2012 Presidential campaign, I am humbled by the supporters who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much. And I am so proud of what we have accomplished. We will not stop until we have restored what once made America the greatest country in human history.

This campaign fought hard and won electoral success that the talking heads and pundits never thought possible. But, this campaign is also about more than just the 2012 election. It has been part of a quest I began 40 years ago and that so many have joined. It is about the campaign for Liberty, which has taken a tremendous leap forward in this election and will continue to grow stronger in the future until we finally win.

Our campaign will continue to work in the state convention process. We will continue to take leadership positions, win delegates, and carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention that Liberty is the way of the future.

Moving forward, however, we will no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted. Doing so with any hope of success would take many tens of millions of dollars we simply do not have. I encourage all supporters of Liberty to make sure you get to the polls and make your voices heard, particularly in the local, state, and Congressional elections, where so many defenders of Freedom are fighting and need your support.

I hope all supporters of Liberty will remain deeply involved – become delegates, win office, and take leadership positions. I will be right there with you. In the coming days, my campaign leadership will lay out to you our delegate strategy and what you can do to help, so please stay tuned.

Though Paul will not actively campaign in any more State primaries, he us expected to continue full-force with his delegate-grabbing ground game until the Republican National Convention in August. His efforts are expected to give him more voice and leverage at the RNC.

Bush Administration ‘Guilty’ Of War Crimes

Last week, the War Crimes Tribunal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, found former President George W. Bush guilty of the crime of torture and war crimes.

The verdict was delivered by a five-panel tribunal that also found former Vice President Dick Cheney; former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Alberto Gonzales, former counsel to Bush; David Addington, former general counsel to the Vice President; William Haynes, former general counsel to the Secretary of Defense; former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee; and John Yoo, former Deputy Assistant Attorney-General guilty of war crimes.

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission is an initiative of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalize War, an organization created by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 2007 to examine abuses of Western governments in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

Though the commission has no real authority, it carried out the hearings like a legal proceeding complete with a presiding panel of five retired judges and legal scholars, along with prosecutors, defense counsel and witnesses. The result of the commission’s guilty verdict will be that the names of the persons found guilty will be entered in the Commission’s Register of War Criminals.

The group says that because war crimes are covered by universal jurisdiction, the tribunal judgments “can be used by any government to arrest and subject convicted persons to a trial.”

After a four-day hearing in November regarding the commission of crimes against peace during the Iraq war, the Tribunal put Bush’s name on the list along with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and urged nations to arrest the two men.

Young Keynesians

Part of Ron Paul’s mission has been to simplify economic ideas into terms average Americans can understand in order to point out the crimes of Keynesian policies and the Federal Reserve. In doing this he has turned an army of young people on to the sound principles of Austrian economic theory, but the other side is fighting back.

It is no surprise with the number of left-leaning educators in universities throughout the United States that those who prefer Keynesian (or spend-your-way-out-of-debt) economic theory dominate the market on indoctrination. And as it becomes increasingly clear that this mainstream economic policy is deeply flawed and unsustainable, the Keynesians are working to make younger audiences favor their ideas.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York touts an “education” initiative called the High School Fed Challenge that it claims is an effort to “bring real-world economics” to high school classrooms. In a series of competitions hosted by Fed board members, students compete in analyzing economic current events to determine which are most able to sound like Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in delivering suggestions for a course of monetary action.

NPR reported on the most recent installment of the competition which was won by students from Montclair High School in Montclair, N.J.: “The students are clearly very good at parroting Ben Bernanke. But they also seem to have a solid grasp of what the economy means for their own lives…Obviously, putting the words ‘Fed Challenge’ on a college application looks impressive. But there’s also a sense that understanding all this stuff really matters right now. In the finals, the students answer questions about things the people who run the Fed are debating right now — from quantitative easing to the outlook for inflation.”

While only a small number of students participate in the Fed Challenge, the initiative represents what many people might recognize as a broader problem in the state of modern economic thinking: Many leading economists simply have not been largely exposed to Austrian economics. The efforts of people like Paul and Economic Policy Journal publisher Robert Wenzel, however, are slowly bringing the conservative economic idea into the conversation.

Wenzel writes of a speech he was recently invited to give at the Federal Reserve in New York:

I then asked one economist ( a 20 year plus veteran of the Fed) if he was familiar with Austrian economics. He said that in college he had taken two history of economics courses and then said that the Austrian school is part of the classical tradition. This told me that he was not aware of the important differences between the Austrian school and classical economics (and also the neo-classical tradition).

…Overall, I was simply amazed at the lack of knowledge of these economists about the Austrian school. It was very close to non-existent. This points out the extremely important work being done by the Mises Institute and also Ron Paul. The number of students with an understanding of Austrian economics is increasing at an exponential rate. I can’t imagine that future economists, even those who work for the Fed, won’t have some acquaintance with Austrian economics thanks to MI and Ron Paul.

Maybe if the trend continues, it will become normal at some point in the future to read an economic editorial in The New York Times that touts the value of Austrian ideals rather than the Keynesian nonsense regularly disseminated by the likes of Paul Krugman.

Obama, States’ Rights Hypocrisy And False Hope

Did President Barack Obama become the first President in the history of the United States to announce that he is a homosexual this week? No, he didn’t. But with the amount of coverage of what he did say and jubilation from the gay community, it almost seems as though he did.

The President’s remarks on Wednesday should be minimally surprising to both his critics and his supporters.

“I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally,” Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts.

This is something that Americans already know, as the remark was made by the head of an Administration that ended the ban on openly gay individuals serving in the United States military.

Obama went on to say:

I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.

Some pundits claim that Obama has exhibited the paramount in political bravery in simply uttering the words “I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” but others would classify the so-called bravery as cowardice. The President has been under pressure to comment on the issue of gay marriage since gaffe-happy Vice President Joe Biden said last Sunday that he completely supports the rights of gay Americans to marry.

While party-line Republicans and Democrats have certainly seized the moment and either used it in criticism or support of the President, there exists no political victory or defeat for either side in what he said. What is illustrated by Obama’s support of gay marriage — but, only as a State issue — is what some people might recognize as the President’s disdain for States’ rights and how even when he advocates them, he cancels them out.

Obama instructed the Justice Department in February to no longer defend the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the legal prohibition on Federal recognition of same-sex marriages. DOMA also included provisions giving States that opt out of allowing gay Americans to marry the right to decline to recognize gay marriages performed in other States. Essentially, the President has attempted to play both sides of the issue: Support States’ rights to perform gay marriages while eliminating other States’ rights to decline to recognize those marriages performed in other States, 1+(-1)=0.

This is just a new example of Obama’s false hope. Consider how he has hoped medical marijuana patients in some States would have short-term memory loss about his 2008 campaign rhetoric on States’ rights and pot. Remember how he wasn’t planning to “use Justice Department resources to try and circumvent State laws about medical marijuana.” Well, he has changed his tune of late, saying last month: “It’s against Federal law. I can’t nullify Congressional law. I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, ‘Ignore completely a Federal law that’s on the books.’”

DOJ Sues Sheriff Joe Arpaio

The Justice Department has sued America’s self-proclaimed toughest sheriff, Joe Arpaio, over allegations that his office racially profiles Latinos in immigration patrols.

The Department alleges that Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s office is involved in discriminatory and unConstitutional law enforcement actions against Latinos, discriminatory jail practices against Latino inmates with limited English skills and illegal retaliation against critics of its practices.

“At its core, this is an abuse of power case involving Sheriff Arpaio and a sheriff’s office that disregarded the Constitution, ignored sound police practices, and did not hesitate to retaliate against perceived critics in a variety of unlawful ways,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the DOJ Civil Rights Division. “Constitutional policing and effective policing go hand in hand.  The complaint outlines how Sheriff Arpaio’s actions were neither constitutional nor effective.  No one in Maricopa County is above the law and the department will fight to ensure that the promise of the Constitution is realized by everyone in Maricopa County.”

At a press conference Wednesday, Arpaio denied the profiling allegations and said: “I’d like to get this resolved, but I’m not going to give up my authority to the Federal government. It’s as simple as that.”

In March, Arpaio, who said he believes the DOJ is targeting him for other reasons, made headlines when he gave a press conference further questioning President Barack Obama’s citizenship and eligibility to hold the Nation’s highest office. The sheriff’s Cold Case Posse announced that the White House-released Long Form Birth Certificate for Obama was most likely a forgery, probably produced on a computer, and that the President’s Selective Service card was also a computer-generated forgery.

In a Thursday press release, the DOJ said of the suit against Arpaio:

Today, the Department of Justice did something it has done only once before in the 18-year history of our civil police reform work; we filed a contested lawsuit to stop discriminatory and unconstitutional law enforcement practices. In our police reform work, we have invariably been able to work collaboratively with law enforcement agencies to build better departments and safer communities. Maricopa County, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Arpaio have been a glaring exception.