The Unsurprising Acquittal of Donald Trump

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S1: The following recording may contain explicit language I can’t get more explicit than may literal say it may.

S2: It’s Wednesday, February 5th, 2020, from slated to be just. I’m Mike PESCA. The State of the Union is dishonest, but also slurred.

S1: President Trump said this last night.

S3: The State of California passed an outrageous law declaring their whole state to be a sanctuary for criminal.

S4: Is that an outcast album? Is this an outcast presidency?

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S3: And this happened, but also to be a much greater degree of fairness and reciprocity. We will have that fairness and reciprocity.

S1: I’d venture that he said that actually rather cautiously. But you know what? Agree to disagree. For a president who slurs Muslims, Mexicans, Africans, African-Americans, women in the pope, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he slurs English and the English, or at least the English who made that trumpet a diaper balloon beyond the poorly pronounced their worthy poor pronouncements. Rush Limbaugh got a medal. Charter schools were contrasted with government schools. What entity, by the way, do you think is paying for this entire show that you put on last night? The president also said that he’s been a great president for job growth, even though monthly job gains were higher in Obama’s last year than in Trump’s years.

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S5: He said his new NAFTA would give us a 100000 auto manufacturing jobs. The only thing manufactured were those numbers. Let me not be too cute. That was a lie. He lied about that. He lied about ice arresting immigrants who committed 2000 murders. That, by the way, is a lie that he’s been telling for years. The number never changes. He said last year, he always says last year, ICE arrested immigrants who committed this many crimes and this many assaults and 2000 murders. That claim has been fact checked again and again and again throughout the years. It’s been found false all the time, and he says it all the time.

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S6: He said this Many experts believe that transparency, which will go into full effect at the beginning of next year, will be even bigger than health care reform.

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S1: That is easy to check. And I did. And it’s a lie.

S3: He said, my administration is also taking on the big pharmaceutical companies. We have approved a record number of affordable generic drugs and medicines are being approved by the FDA at a faster clip than ever before.

S1: Let’s think about this one, let’s pause on this one. Many experts classic Trump tell because broadly no experts are saying it. Many experts are saying this. There are counter examples where actually price transparency leads to worse results. The Times did a funny story on Danish cement pricing.

S5: It was among the funniest Danish cement pricing stories that I could think of before an expert to believe that knowing the prices of drugs, which, by the way, is a good thing, will lead to some gigantic effect. You would have to believe that the knowledge of prices invariably leads to lower prices.

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S4: But think about your own life, your rent, your cable bill, whole foods, things that are expensive. Are they expensive because you don’t know what the price is? Or are they expensive because they’re expensive? And the reason even know they’re expensive is that you know the price. The phrase modest benefits at best seems very fairly to apply to this claim. But I don’t even want to focus on that part. It’s the even better than health care reform part. I mean, that’s kind of notable. At least he is now referring to health care reform as a good thing, as a bar to surpass that is progress. Oh, shit.

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S1: Rush Limbaugh just got a medal. And this, by the way, right here, right now ends my coverage of the State of the Union. And I hope our consideration as a culture and a society of the State of the Union, the State of the Union is fractured and bathed in chaos, which is exactly how Donald Trump likes it on the show today.

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S5: Senate Republicans have acquitted Donald Trump, an outcome as inevitable as Scooby Doo, thwarting the grumpy old caretaker’s attempt to convince everyone the amusement park was haunted. But it’s not like hijinx didn’t ensue. The low lights of those high jinks in the schpiel. But first, in last night’s speech, there was a reference to government schools. That phrase comes directly from a slice of the charter school advocacy world that’s funded by the Cokes and The Waltons. That is not just the hey, we’re looking for solutions.

S1: But as the hostile to public education variety. For years, Diane Ravitch has been battling with that faction, but also with the well-meaning Obama ites who champion school choice. They, too, Ravitch says, need to admit based on the evidence, that they’re wrong. So she and I get into, I would say, a respectful exchange. Diane Ravitch here to discuss the follow up to her bestselling reign of error. It’s slaying Goliath, the passionate resistance to privatization and the fight to save America’s public schools.

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S7: Diane Ravitch is the author of Slaying Goliath The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools. She comes to this reform or resistance movement in a fascinating way. She’s essentially done a 180, although that assumes that we’re on the same plane. So she’s done a 180, but also thought of ways to reform the system that she never would have conceived of when she was working in the Bush and Clinton education departments. You know, No Child Left Behind. Diane Ravitch was one of the people who is making sure that children weren’t left behind. Only she came to conclude that educational ism, which is saying that the schools will solve our social ills rather than the other way around is the problem, not the solution. Diane, welcome. Thank you. Great to be with you, Mike. It’s great to have you. I’ve read your blogs all the time and you are the kind of person and thinker that sometimes I agree with, sometimes I disagree with. But you put forth great arguments and you always at least challenge my intellect. So before I even want to start with your prescription of education, tell me about the journey, changing your mind. And I know you got new evidence, so you did. But was it hard for you? Was there ego involved? Were there breaking social ties involved in kind of turning your back on? The pouring money into testing movement will save us all way of thinking.

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S8: I had been on the conservative side and I call it the dark side for many years advocating for testing for accountability. I endorsed the idea of charters when they first came out in the late 80s, early 90s, and it seemed like a good idea. Why not try it? Let’s have everyone have a go at running a school and see what happens. And over the years I’ve been involved in several very high powered conservative think tanks like the Thomas B Fordham Institute in D.C. and also the Hoover Institution. And the same for California. And I had a crisis of faith. And I realized that the testing was having disastrous effects, that it was turning children away from learning and into just test taking. And I knew enough about the testing because I had spent seven years I was appointed by President Clinton to the national testing board. And I learned a lot about testing enough so that I don’t trust it. I don’t trust standardized tests at all. And I can explain that in a minute or two. But also, being on the inside of these conservative think tanks, there was a lot of discussion about why were so many charters failing? Mm hmm. Nobody said that in public. But they were saying it in the inner circle. Yeah. And I was in the inner circle and I said, well, wait a minute. Charter schools are supposed to save kids. And now we’re trying to figure out what to do about all these failing charter schools, schools that are in an academic emergency. And yet they have all this flexibility and they’re not doing the job. They said they would. So by two thousand seven, eight and that then I started writing a book, which is a confessional. It’s called The Death and Life of the Great American School System How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. And when I wrote that book, I lost my ties to all these organizations. And some of them were were paying me a lot of money. Yeah. So I gave up the income that went with being on that side and also lost some people who had been very close friends who were no longer my friends because they couldn’t believe that I had changed sides. So I changed sides. It was like a leap into the dark. I didn’t know what would happen on the other side.

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S7: So let’s talk about Obama. It seems that there are some inklings that Obama might be, at least as a person with an open mind, might be rethinking his position. I’m not even specifically asking you to read the tea leaves about what Atlantic article he retweeted or what he’s saying. But let’s just use him as a stand in for a person who just wants to find the right solution and is going where they think the evidence is. And maybe now is questioning the wholesale approach of everything with public schools is bad and charter schools are going to be our salvation. All right, fine. That was overdoing it. Let’s take the best ideas of charters and Marriott to a robust public education system with even strong unions.

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S8: The problem is that right now the schools, whether that charter are their public schools, are trapped in this mano maniacal focus on test scores testing. So if everybody is forced to follow this script and everybody is labeling schools, the common thing that was invented by Jeb Bush in Florida and that that is the label schools A through F. So if you have high scores, you’re in a school. If you have low scores, you’re an F school and then the F school is set up to be closed and privatized. This is what I call the test and punish regime. It’s very demoralizing to everybody, really, unless you happen to be in a very affluent neighborhood, in which case you have an a school and things are fine. The fundamental problem is the standardized testing. Standardized testing is normed on a bell curve. The bell curve is designed never to close. So when people can’t buy tasch by definition, right, like 1 percent of the kids are always going to be in the lowest 1 percent. Right. And there will always be a top half. There will always. The bottom have the top half will be overwhelmingly composed of kids who come from affluent neighborhoods where they don’t have to worry about having a home, having medical care, having food. And the bottom half will always be overwhelmed by kids with disabilities and kids who are English learners and kids who do have to worry about having to stay home because there’s no one to take care of the family while their parent is sick. So what we have done for the past 20 years is to avoid the fundamental problem in education, which is the growing inequality in our society. The fact is that about half of the kids in this country are classified by federal standards as being low income. About 20 percent are in deep poverty. And this is the shame of our nation. And so instead of talking about how can we raise up families, how can we make sure that every child has access to medical care? How can we make sure that kids come to school ready to learn? We’re talking about their test scores and the test scores tell the same story over and over again. If you’re poor, if you’re an English learner, if you’re have a disability, you’re in a failing school. We’re gonna close your school. And Rahm Emanuel, for example, created a place for himself of infamy by closing 50 public schools in one day. The studies that I’ve seen show that the kids did not go to better schools. They just had their lives uprooted.

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S7: So what is the difference between the energy behind The Waltons and Davos and say, the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, which is a big supporter of charter schools, among their other education and testing initiatives?

S8: I think that the differences are this, that Davos, the Coke Brothers and the Waltons are dedicated libertarians and they spend huge amounts of money, hundreds of millions of dollars every year to promote privatization, whether it’s through charters or vouchers. The Walton family, which is worth about $150 billion dollars, has by itself opened one out of every four charters in America, and they’ve already committed to spend another 200 million this year. And Betsy Device has 440 million federal dollars to spend on new charters. So that’s a lot of money to go into opening new charters. But then you have someone like Bill Gates. And Bill Gates is not a crazy libertarian as they are. But what he is and I would say the same of that Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos is they believe in the marketplace. The marketplace has been very good to them. They made a lot of money competing in the in the open marketplace. And this is why Bill Gates has poured money into charters, most of which has been wasted. He’s also poured money into testing and evaluating teachers by the test scores of their student, which is turned out to be a failed idea. I believe it’s his fundamental belief that the market will sort everything out. The problem for me with believing in the marketplace is the marketplace never produces equality. The marketplace, by its nature, produces winners and losers. And the winners will come out with high scores and they’ll go on to Stanford and Harvard and great selective schools. And the losers will be social problems.

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S7: But with Bill Gates, maybe that goes to his motivation. But, you know, he’s also you know, I look at someone like him or Bloomberg as someone who’s very data driven, and sometimes the data drives them in a different direction. But do you have any inkling that they might, you know, veer from this very pro-charter stance?

S9: Well, I always hoped that they will see the light as you did it. Well, I did. But, you know, Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg represent a kind of mentality that I think of is the McKenzie mindset, which is look at the data and go with the data takes you. Now, the problem with the data is it’s all based on standardized testing. And I’ve had long experience with looking at analyzing standardized testing data. And I’ve come to the conclusion that all it tells us is whether kids are wealthy or poor. So if if what they’re measuring is wrong, their conclusions are wrong. And a Bloomberg as New York City mayor, he was great on the environment. He was great on smoking. He was great on gun control. He was it was his disaster and education because he using data closed. Lots of schools that were meeting the needs of huge numbers of kids, opened small schools that did not meet the needs of the ones who got pushed out of the big school. He demoralized the workforce tremendously. Lots of people were fired. Lots of schools were closed. But that’s the way of disruption, is throw everything up in the air and hope something better comes out of it. Bill Gates has launched a number of ideas in education. All of them have failed. And the Common Core was completely paid for by Bill Gates. And in my view, it has been a massive failure because it was based on this same idea that he has in the software world, which is if you can get the data and if you can get the mechanics and you can get everybody on the same page, you’ll have a national marketplace. And all the vendors will provide software or hardware that will make everything work. And he actually has given speeches in favor of standard. Isation. And the thing that he doesn’t seem to understand is that children do not operate like toasters and teachers are not like electrical appliances, that whereas you may need standardization of electricity, which is the example he used in order to plug something in and it’ll work every time. Yeah, but it just doesn’t work with kids. I mean, the people behind the Common Core believes that if everybody was studying the same thing at the same time and they had common standards and common tests and common this and common that, all the kids would be raised up. Well, we’ve had 10 years of Common Core and we see no difference at all. The theory is on its face ridiculous because you can look at any classroom and say, well, the kids all have the same teacher. They’re all using the same textbooks. They’re all doing all the same things. And at the end of the year, there’s huge differences among them. Right.

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S7: And the differences often go to exactly what you’re talking about, which is income and home.

S8: And I think also it’s unfair to judge kids by test scores because it’s a very narrow net measure. Yeah, there are kids who are way smarter than the people who make the test up. I’ve been close enough to the test questions to say some of them don’t have a right answer. Yeah, I’ve seen test questions that had two right answers mean this is such a narrow way of thinking and said to tell kids for 12 years the purpose of education is to pick the right answer on a test. That’s that’s not life. Life doesn’t consist of picking the right answer. And what you really want to encourage them to do is to think of better questions. You might even say, here’s the standardized question. How would you word this differently so that it actually went to something that you care about and we don’t do that.

S7: I want to ask a couple things on what you just said. First of all. Bloomberg himself, ICOM a disaster educationally. When he took office, the high school graduation rate in the city was overall forty six point five percent. When he left, it was 66 percent. The graduation rate for black students rose from 40 to 61 for Latino students from 37 to 65. That’s a gain, isn’t it?

S9: Yeah, I think it’s a gain, but it also depends on how you calculate that gain. And there’s a lot of rigging of the data that goes on these days. We see graduation rates going up all over the place. And yet sometimes and I’m not sure that this is true in New York, but it could be that kids are taking a makeup, which they do on a computer, where they can say, ah, you failed the course, but in one week on a computer, you can retake the course. It’s called credit recovery. Yeah. So that there’s a lot of that credit recovery going on. Yeah, I think it’s it’s really hard to say. If you look at where we were 10 years ago, that all this punishment of teachers and stigmatizing of children has been a really good thing for American education. And I don’t care if you look whether it’s the graduation rate, the test scores, which have been completely flat. There are so many opportunities for rigging the data. It’s something called Campbell’s law. Campbell’s law says that when your life depends on the numbers, the numbers will change. And you can’t use that as an accurate measure because people play with the numbers in order to get the gains and avoid the punishments. I think that we’ve lost sight of what education is and we’ve lost sight of how do we develop character? How do we develop young people who care about making their society better?

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S1: If you had one reform, if you had the ear of a principal, you could pick the education level. What would you tell him or her to do?

S8: Well, if I had vast power and I could change something in American education, I would say stop the standardized testing. Let’s stop it for five years and let’s see what happens. That’s why I have a section in my book which celebrates the efforts of the parents in New York who opted out of the state tests. They simply said 20 percent of the eligible kids, their parents said, we’re not taking the test. And, you know, when the numbers get high enough, there’s nothing they can do to make you take them.

S1: Yeah. The book has a lot of profiles of citizen parent activists.

S10: A lot of your story of going from where you were to where you are now and your prescriptions about where we should go in the future. The book is Slaying Goliath The Passionate Resistance to Privatization in the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools. Diane Ravitch, thank you so much. Thank you, Mike.

S1: And now the schpiel. Well, for weeks we have been covering the Senate impeachment trial and very likely acquittal of Donald Trump. And today we can finally triumphantly dispense with the qualifiers, just as the Senate could dispense with many members in the majority who seem to have any qualifications. A few senators said Trump just flat out didn’t do it. It’s hard to argue with things that are imaginary. So let’s move on to the khadra of Republicans who base their decision on other factors. Cory Gardner, senator from Colorado, though he may not be by 2021, based a large part on the argumentthat. Impeachment shouldn’t be partisan.

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S11: The reason the framers were concerned about partisan or policy impeachments was their concern for the American people. Removing a president disenfranchises the American people. For a Senate of only 100 people, to do that requires a genuine bipartisan national consensus.

S5: And then there was Lamar Alexander.

S12: The framers believed that there never, ever should be a partisan impeachment. That is why the Constitution requires a two thirds vote of the Senate to convict. Not yet. Not one House Republican voted for these articles. If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart.

S1: Well, guys, if you all voted for conviction, then it wouldn’t be partisan, would it? The argument that we can’t do it because by not doing it, we’re adhering to a standard of a thing that shouldn’t be done. That’s all undone by the argument that if you guys you’re all Republicans.

S4: If you all voted to impeach and convict, then you’d actually be upholding the principle that impeachment should be bipartisan. Add to this wackadoo argument the fact that right there, right in front of those guys saying that impeachments shouldn’t be totally partisan. That was the Senate and there was a Senate tä Mitt Romney who is fun fact, an actual Republican who actually did vote for conviction.

S1: It wasn’t wholly partisan. Mitt Romney’s speech wasn’t terribly filled with grand claims, sweeping statements, indictments of his fellow members, or a totemic thumbs down that will get replayed on a loop on cable news and in the president’s mind were just filled with simple logic. And the general theme that the reason that Mitt Romney is voting to remove the president is that Mitt Romney has morals, ears and a brain.

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S13: What he did was not perfect. No. It was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep one’s self in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.

S1: Romney went on to say, and I actually believe him, that he wanted to hear from John Bolton not as an f you to the president. Mitt Romney does not swear he wanted to hear from John Bolton. If anything, for the chance that John Bolton would say something to get Mitt Romney off the hook of having to vote to impeach and remove the president, a president of his own party who don’t want to hear from Bolton to damn the president, but to possibly deliver him an out and escape route, an off ramp. Mitt Romney gave the impression not of a man glorying in his status as an apostate, but agonizing over it.

S13: Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?

S5: Donald Trump, junior did. Tweeting of Romney, quote, He was too weak to beat the Democrats then. So he’s joining them now. And added he’s now officially a member of the resistance and should be expelled from the GOP. Other Republican senators also did not answer to the better angels of their nature, but quoted from the battered additions of funk and Wagners.

S14: If you take just a minute to look at the definitions of abuse and now they draw distinct similarities. Now a prefix of Latin origin means bad. Evil. Wrong. Abuse also of Latin origin means to strongly use are to use for a bad effect. There’s a kinship between male enemies MWR and abuse.

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S5: Basically the same word as a rhetorician. Shelbie is maladroit. He is engaged in linguistic malpractice and therefore he must be considered a child abuser because moul and abuse are the same thing as the argument there. Let us say male lingered. We were informed of the real misdeed that went on during this whole sorry spectacle. Now you may have thought that the outrage was in the warping of government policy to fit political needs. Perhaps you suspected that it was about government overreach in presidential defiance of norm fact law and oversight. No. No. You’re wrong. Was all about the pens. They gave out souvenir pens when it was over. They had pens.

S15: Democrats will regret it when Republicans are handing out the pens. Depends on the signing ceremony.

S1: That was trumped. Defense lawyer Ken Starr before him, Lindsey Graham. But those guys were just relying on words earlier in the proceedings days earlier. Jay Sekulow addressed the Senate and he played video. Here is the audio of that moment.

S15: And I want you to think about this. The history, the importance, the solemnity of what we’re engaged in here in this great body with what took place in the House of Representatives upon the signing of articles of impeachment.

S1: Pens. And you know what the video was of the pens, pens. Are you going to let these runaway Democrats get away with handing out pens? Come on, America. This was a crucible. This was a referendum. Either we set precedents. Either we set precedent and countenance the handing out of pens during an impeachment, or we sit idly by as these pen givers strip us of our vote, our will, our way of life. The Senate impeachment trial and acquittal of Donald Trump results in. What? What? I don’t have a good answer. I mean, it definitely results in the first senator and Romney ever to vote to impeach and remove a member of his own party. All right. Maybe it results in new battle lines. The underlining of the old ones with a pen, maybe in failing to remove the president where issuing a blank check to future actions. Maybe it’s quite the opposite. That impeachment itself, that alone is something of a guardrail. I don’t know. Perhaps as proponents of impeachment claim, it was their duty to impeach. Or else is the reluctant impeached was dragged along as they feared. All this was was an opportunity for a dangerous president to claim a win today. Trump was acquitted. Tomorrow it’s possible. I think I’d go as far as, say, likely that Trump will record his highest ever approval rating in the Gallup poll. Are the two related? In a way, they are. Trump so dominates the ether that it is hard for the truly noteable to stick to him any more than the ephemeral. Every deed is disposable. Whether it’s misidentifying Kansas in a tweet or defying the Constitution, it all becomes just another footnote in history, one that Republicans hope is forgotten or buried, or at least never, ever recorded in pen.

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S2: That’s it for today’s show. Priscilla Lobby is the just associate producer, when she gets a stain, she’ll block. She’ll resolve. She’ll use seltzer, but never a tie. And no pens. Daniel Schrader produced the gist. He thinks if Mitt Romney starts showing up to resistance meetings, it is definitely going to depress future turnout. Maybe Mitt will self-deport. The gist and now I go to take a government subway home walk on a government street lit by government lights, avoid mayhem thanks to government, police and watch PBS. Well, how am I getting? I’m not watching PBS. I’m watching Netflix because I believe in public private partnerships. Well, for adepero to Peru. And thanks for listening.