I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jeb Bush Hires His Biggest Cheerleader To Smear Ravitch

This one starts with yet another gilded reformy-type falling on his fainting couch:
Diane Ravitch has hit a new low in the hyperbole she allows on her blog site.

This was written about charter schools:
“But the privatizers declared war on our schools, our kids, our teachers, our parents and our taxpayers.
“We didn’t start this war, any more than Poland in 1939. But we must fight back. And ultimately, emerge victorious.
“And when you’re in a war, and you’re defending the lives of your community, unfortunately, nuance or thoughtful qualifications become luxuries we can no longer afford.” (Diane’s post here)
Seriously, Diane?
Comparing school choice for parents with the Nazi invasion of Poland? [emphasis mine]
Uh, wait a minute - the writer doesn't say: "Ravitch wrote this about charter schools." He uses the passive voice: "This was written about charter schools:". Why would he do that... unless he knew Ravitch didn't actually write the words he quotes.

Which, of course, she didn't: Ravitch was quoting a reader who sent in a comment. Check out the original post here, which Ravitch starts with this prelude:
This parent takes issue with Mark Naison and Bruce Bernstein, who wrote a post about how to tell whether your local charter school is avaricious. The few “good charters” are used by the corporate charter chains to clear the path:
It's awfully hard to miss that it isn't Ravitch who wrote the words, don't you think? Which is obviously why the author of the post criticizing Ravitch used the passive voice: he must have known that Ravitch was not the author of those words.

Ravitch has become the voice of the opposition to the undemocratic, anti-teacher, science-adverse, billionaire-funded, anti-union, and just generally awful education "reform" movement. Consequently, she's become a target: toadies of the wealthy love to suck up to their paymasters by unloading on this distinguished scholar and grandmother whenever and however they can.

But this particular attack reeks of a special odor of slime. Who penned this carefully crafted mudball? Well, the post is hosted by Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education (honestly, the names - have these people no shame?). And the author - well, he goes way back with the former Florida governor:
Mike Thomas serves in the communications department, writing editorials and speeches. Prior to joining the Foundation, Mike worked for more than 30 years as a journalist with Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel. He has written investigative projects, magazine feature stories, humor pieces, editorials and local columns. He won several state and national awards, and was named a finalist in the American Society of New Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary/Column Writing in 2010. As a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, he wrote extensively about education reform, becoming one of its chief advocates in the Florida media. Mike graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in political science and journalism. His wife is a teacher and he has two children in public schools. [emphasis mine]
Yes, it's certainly true that Thomas promoted "reform." But more than that: as a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, Thomas was a shameless cheerleader for Jeb Bush.

Let's go to the tape (all emphases mine). 9/20/11:
Jeb Bush was the main attraction at the Sentinel “Education Reform” luncheon this afternoon (Tuesday).
And he didn’t disappoint.  The issues and the arguments over them are old hat by now, and many have largely been settled by the data.  In that regard there was nothing ground-breaking at the event. Jeb could have snoozed his way through it.
But the crowd seemed to be on her side.  Jeb wasn’t condescending in the least. He stuck to the data in an engaging manner, pointing out the progress that has been made and where reform now has to go. He noted that competition  improves public schools. He made the case for the “common core” standards, which will be akin to national academic standards designed to make American kids competitive on the world stage. He also outlined his vision for web-based education that can create individual learning programs for each kid.
The panel member who stole the show was Orange Chairman Bill Sublette, who talked in complete thoughts, came across as smart as Jeb and did the hometown proud.  He was the pragmatist, embracing reform but criticizing an education system that is too college-centric, at the expense of technical education, and also lamenting the large number of failed charter schools.
Also, Jeb seemed to endorse Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels for the Republican nomination, not a huge surprise. Both men are serious, policy-centric Republicans, representing the anti-Palin wing of the party.
When news of the state investment pool problems surfaced, some raised the issue of whether Jeb Bush had a hand in selling the state securities from Lehman Brothers that have since been downgraded and caused a run on the bank. Jeb had joined Lehman as a consultant over the summer.
The idea seemed a bit bizarre to me, picturing Jeb as Willy Loman, knocking on the door with a suitcase filled with securities. That’s just not his thing. But even so, he declined to comment at the time. And such things have to be checked out as a matter of course.
Anyway, reporter Dan Tracy contacted Jeb by e-mail, and he decided to put the matter to rest and disavow anything to do with the state purchases. I believe him.
This one's great: even when ostensibly criticizing Jeb Bush, Thomas just can't help but show his love for the awesome man. 1/28/10:
Charlie Crist is great at playing dumb because he is, well …never mind.
But Jeb playing dumb is like, well, Charlie playing smart. It’s just too much of a stretch. Jeb is one of the foremost political experts on high speed rail in Florida. Jeb could tell you how many rail spikes they’d need to build the track to Tampa. Jeb was the guy who called a previous high-speed rail proposal a “boondoggle of epic proportions.”
What exactly has changed in the six years since he said that?
Answer: Nada.
More disingenuous is Jeb’s reason why this version of high speed rail would be “a good thing.”
To wit: “…the federal government is going to take the ridership risk.”
So a boondoggle of epic proportions is good for Florida as long as it wastes federal money instead of state money? We’ll just heap another billion or so on the federal debt?
This is precisely why the federal government is trillions in the red. Politicians don’t consider federal dollars real money. That was the case with George W. Bush and Karl Rove. But Jeb always seemed to be a true believer in matters of fiscal prudence. This shows you how ingrained wasteful spending is in the political realm.
This link is to a lengthy interview of Jeb Bush by Tucker Carlson for Esquire. Agree with him or not, you can't argue with the man's IQ and his vision for the future. He also is the only Republican with a grasp on what it will take for the Party to regain power. Some of the ideologues would do well listening to how he can critique President Obama without turning it into a personal attack. And if the Party does not heed his advice on toning down the immigrant bashing, the Republicans will be a minorty Party from here on out. Too bad Carlson wasn't briefed on Charlie Crist. I would have enjoyed hearing Jeb respond to those questions.
 I am a well-known shill for Jeb Bush’s education reforms because the proof of their success is in the data. [Uh, that is hardly settled when it comes to Florida. See here for more. - JJ]
Blame me for Jeb’s bad grammar 
No, really, that's the headline. Just read it. Oy.

Under Jeb, we were on our way to “great things.”*
Bush never has been comfortable with the obsession many Republicans have with immigration reform. Obviously he regards it as a distraction from more important matters.
Crist has a serious problem separating fantasy from reality.This goes beyond the typical political hyperbole to downright fraud. He had absolutely nothing to do with Florida’s gains in education. All this was a result of Jeb Bush’s accountability reforms. This would be like Gator backup QB John Brantley taking credit for the win over Kentucky.
Yes, I voted for Jeb Bush and given the chance, would do so again.
Can you imagine: Donald Trump v. Michelle Bachmann in a debate?
The Donald v. The Loon!
The battle for the Birther vote is on.
And the only once left to save the Republicans from this circus is Tim Pawlenty?
Oh where, oh where has Jeb Bush gone.
Oh where oh where could he be?
Oh my lord, Thomas is now singing his praises of Jeb! I could do this all night, but I'd better stop before I go into a diabetic coma from reading all of his sweet, sweet praise of the great Governor Bush...

Mike Thomas was such a shameless brown-noser of Jeb Bush that even his colleagues joked about how often Thomas wrote about the Florida pol. Susan Ohanian has more about Thomas's barely restrained love for Bush while at the Sentinel. He unexpectedly left the paper in 2011, knocked around Orange County politics for a bit, and then landed his current gig - working for Jeb Bush - this past fall.

Golly, do you think maybe Bush appreciated all those years of kind words when he hired Thomas to be a shill for Bush's foundation?

Back in 2007, Thomas wrote a post about two of the many scandals swirling around Bush's time in Tallahassee:
The most recent concerns his appointment as a director to CNL Bancshares. As governor, Jeb sat on a state board that granted CNL Holdings a $3 million tax credit for creating jobs in Orlando. All the promised jobs were not created and CNL only has received $200,000. Nobody disputes that under the rules, CNL was entitled to the credit. So Jeb did nothing in the way of special favors for CNL. The idea that years later, CNL now is greasing Jeb’s palm for the credit is downright bizarre. Despite that, the St. Pete Times (an excellent newspaper, by the way) quoted a Florida Common Cause official as saying the recent appointment "smacks of political payback."
      Also raising eyebrows was that Jeb’s administration backed a toll road called the Heartland Parkway, which was pushed by CNL board chairman, James Seneff among many, many others. The road, a bad idea because it would have contributed to massive development in rural areas, was not built and will not be thanks to Charlie Crist.
     So CNL is paying Jeb back for tax breaks, the majority of which it never got, and a toll road that never was built. More realistic is that CNL scored a coup by getting a former governor with Jeb’s brains and clout. I dare say Jeb could sit on just about any board he wanted.
Aside from the typically cloying sycophancy, notice that Thomas dismisses as "bizarre" the notion that someone might pay you off in the future for doing them a favor in the present.

I mean, where would anyone get that crazy idea?

Keep this little tale in mind the next time you read some "journalist" gushing about how awesome corporate reform is, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. They know how the money flows. They know which side the Billionaire Boys Club has backed. They know who will look at their resumes when they leave their current jobs - if they have a record of saying the right thing.

Hey, fella! When you get tired of writing for a conglomerate struggling out of bankruptcy, give us a call!

* I really, really hope Thomas responds specifically to this quote. It would be like Christmas in February. Come on, Mike, you know you want to...


Galton said...

Once again, you are brilliant. Jeb Bush is all image, not a genuine bone in his body. That is why he is so very sensitive to the blogosphere.
Like his buddy Cerf was with Leonie in NYC.

Brace for an assault JJ, you may be next. Your truths threaten them.

Duke said...

Thx, Galton.