Archives for category: Lies

Some of us are old enough to remember the New York Times publication of “The Pentagon Papers,” the secret history of the war in Vietnam compiled by the Department of Defense; they were purloined by Daniel Ellsberg, who opposed the war and shared with the Times. The revelations in those papers helped to end that conflict.

Now the Washington Post is publishing government papers about the long-lasting war in Afghanistan that it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Its revelations are familiar and depressing. Our government lied to us. There were no realistic plans in place for success. Thousands of lives and about a trillion dollars were spent without a strategy.

The article was written by Craig Whitlock. If you want to read the story in full, subscribe to the Washington Post.

KONAR PROVINCE, 2010 (Moises Saman/Magnum Photos)

THE PENTAGON, 2003 (David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.

The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.

The U.S. government tried to shield the identities of the vast majority of those interviewed for the project and conceal nearly all of their remarks. The Post won release of the documents under the Freedom of Information Act after a three-year legal battle.

THE AFGHANISTAN PAPERS

At war with the truth

In the interviews, more than 400 insiders offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of warfare.

With a bluntness rarely expressed in public, the interviews lay bare pent-up complaints, frustrations and confessions, along with second-guessing and backbiting.

Click any underlined text in the story to see the statement in the original document

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. He added: “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

“If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction . . . 2,400 lives lost,” Lute added, blaming the deaths of U.S. military personnel on bureaucratic breakdowns among Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department. “Who will say this was in vain?”

Since 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan, many repeatedly. Of those, 2,300 died there and 20,589 were wounded in action, according to Defense Department figures.

The interviews, through an extensive array of voices, bring into sharp relief the core failings of the war that persist to this day. They underscore how three presidents — George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — and their military commanders have been unable to deliver on their promises to prevail in Afghanistan.

THE AFGHANISTAN PAPERS

See the documents More than 2,000 pages of interviews and memos reveal a secret history of the war.

Part 2: Stranded without a strategy Conflicting objectives dogged the war from the start.

Responses to The Post from people named in The Afghanistan Papers

With most speaking on the assumption that their remarks would not become public, U.S. officials acknowledged that their warfighting strategies were fatally flawed and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.

The interviews also highlight the U.S. government’s botched attempts to curtail runaway corruption, build a competent Afghan army and police force, and put a dent in Afghanistan’s thriving opium trade.

The U.S. government has not carried out a comprehensive accounting of how much it has spent on the war in Afghanistan, but the costs are staggering.

Since 2001, the Defense Department, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development have spent or appropriated between $934 billion and $978 billion, according to an inflation-adjusted estimate calculated by Neta Crawford, a political science professor and co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University.

Those figures do not include money spent by other agencies such as the CIA and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is responsible for medical care for wounded veterans.

“What did we get for this $1 trillion effort? Was it worth $1 trillion?” Jeffrey Eggers, a retired Navy SEAL and White House staffer for Bush and Obama, told government interviewers. He added, “After the killing of Osama bin Laden, I said that Osama was probably laughing in his watery grave considering how much we have spent on Afghanistan.”

The documents also contradict a long chorus of public statements from U.S. presidents, military commanders and diplomats who assured Americans year after year that they were making progress in Afghanistan and the war was worth fighting.

 

 

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump spoke of his commitment to protect the rights of LGBT people.

He lied.

ProPublica released a report documenting the Trump administration’s step-by-step dismantling of federal protections of LGBT persons–in the military, in public housing, in schools, in health care, and in enforcement of civil rights in the courts.

Jack Hassard taught science and science teachers for many years.

He clings to the old-fashioned idea that “facts are facts.” 

He is offended by the idea of “alternative facts” or the charges of “fake news” used to discredit anyone that Dear Leader disagrees with.

A fact is verifiable. An opinion is not.

He writes:

As science teachers, we think of facts as a repeatable observations or measurements. In short, they can be verified.

For instance, observations and measurements are dependent upon the observers and instruments used to make the measurements.

The Uncertainty Principle

There are limitations in our ability to observe.

There are limitations in our ability to observe. Werner Heisenberg worked out this idea in 1927. He proposed the Uncertainty Principle. The Uncertainty Principle meant that there was a limit to measuring very small particles in the quantum world. Moreover, Heisenberg said that there was always an uncertainty if one measures the momentum and the position of particles.

In the same vein, the classical world that we live in, there are still limitations to our ability to describe and measure. For example, if we say that the temperature outside is 35º C, the temperature can be verified. However, you could ask where was the temperature taken, in full sunlight or in the shade. What kind of instrument did you use.

In any of these cases, the statement can be considered a fact (and not an opinion). But, if you said that it’s very hot outside. That’s an opinion. Another person could say the temperature is fine with me. That’s another opinion.

Pay attention. Facts are facts. A dictator tries to control what is fact and what is opinion. Hold to truth.

Audrey Watters begins each of her posts at HEWN with a description of a bird. Then she gets into the story, the story in this one being an “epistemic crisis,” a society where truth itself is doubted, experts are dismissed, and everyone is entitled to not only their own opinions but their own facts.

I particularly recommend her links. I enjoyed the one about Mr. Rogers. It compels to think about ourselves, who we are, what we believe, why. The kinds of questions we asked ourselves when we were adolescents but then got hardened into our lives as adults.

Betsy DeVos gave New Hampshire $46 million to. Double the number of charter schools.

The state commissioner of education said, illogically, that adding charter schools was a good way to handle declining student enrollment. If that doesn’t make sense, It is because it’s nonsense. Adding new charters is sure to accelerate enrollment declines.

The legislature’s fiscal committee voted on party lines to table the first $10 million, pending a study of the fiscal impact on existing schools.

Since neither Governor Chris Sununu nor State Commissioner Edelblut care about public schools, this is not their concern.

“On Friday, DOE Commissioner Frank Edelblut told the fiscal committee that the money will help districts better serve at-risk students and create schools prepared to deal with New Hampshire’s declining student enrollment.

“[Traditional public schools are] really just trying to tread water with the funding they have.” Edelblut said. “This allows us to invest in that community so that they can find a way to modify the instructional model that can allow them to manage that continuing decline that we know will continue into the future.”

”New Hampshire was awarded the largest grant of this kind in the country. In its application, the N.H. DOE emphasized the needs of at-risk and disadvantaged students and identified a group of “high-quality charter schools” that could serve as a template for the new schools.

”However, of the seven schools listed, the majority of them have far fewer economically disadvantaged students enrolled than traditional public schools do in that same district. Most also have fewer students with special education plans and students who are English language learners.”

The usual lies meant to advance privatization by rightwing extremists.

Thanks to the efforts of the New York State Attorney General, Trump was forced to close down his “foundation,” which he had used to pay debts for his businesses and to buy a $10,000 painting of himself.

This week, a judge ordered Trump to pay a fine of $2 million for failing to carry out his fiduciary duty for faithful administration of the foundation funds.

Trump responded by lying.

But in a statement tweeted out late Thursday, Trump seemed to play down the settlement he had just agreed to — saying, in spite of the failures he had just acknowledged, that the foundation’s money was spent properly and the lawsuit was politically motivated.

“All they found was incredibly effective philanthropy and some small technical violations, such as not keeping board minutes,” he wrote.

Not keeping board minutes does it produce a fine of $2 million not cause the foundation to close.

 

Former D.C. math teacher Guy Brandenburg attended the NAEP press conference in D.C. where Betsy DeVos explained what lessons the nation can lean from the NAEP results. 

DeVos thinks the rest of the nation should learn from D.C., which has the largest racial gaps of any urban district tested by NAEP; Or Florida, where test scores went down; or Mississippi, where scores rose even though it is at the very bottom of all stages tested by NAEP. When you are at the very bottom, it’s easier to “improve” your scores.

When Betsy DeVos is long forgotten, please do not forget that she held up Mississippi as a model for the nation!

Brandenburg wants the world to know that D.C. made its greatest gains before mayoral control.

I found that it is true that DC’s recent increases in scores on the NAEP for all students, and for black and Hispanic students, are higher than in other jurisdictions.

However, I also found that those increases were happening at a HIGHER rate BEFORE DC’s mayor was given total control of DC’s public schools; BEFORE the appointment of Michelle Rhee; and BEFORE the massive DC expansion of charter schools.

He has the data and graphs to prove it.

Suppose you are trying to decide who to vote for in your local school board election. You get a flyer in the mail from a group called “Public School Allies.” It lists three candidates. You vote for them.

Surprise! You were hoaxed!

“Public School Allies” is a billionaire-funded front that intervenes in local elections to support charter schools! 

Matt Barnum reports in Chalkbeat:

The political arm of The City Fund, the organization with ambitions to spread charter schools and the “portfolio model” of school reform across the country, plans to spend $15 million to influence state and local elections over the next three years.

That political group, known as Public School Allies, has already directed money toward to school board races in Atlanta, Camden, Newark, and St. Louis, and  state elections in Louisiana, Georgia, and New Jersey. Donations have ranged from $1 million to as little as $1,500.

The information was shared by Public School Allies and, in a number of cases, confirmed by campaign finance records. The $15 million comes from Netflix founder Reed Hastings and former hedge-fund manager John Arnold, the organization said.

In other word, this is a fraudulent organization that selected a name intended to deceive voters. They advocate for closing schools with low test scores and giving them to charters.

They are not “allies” of public schools. They are allies of privatization.

Their use of deceptive language is an open admission that they know the public wants real public schools, not privately managed charters.

Why are they ashamed to call themselves “Friends of Charter Schools?”

AOC asks Mark Zuckerberg: Is it okay to post ads that you know are lies?

https://www.businessinsider.com/aoc-mark-zuckerberg-video-congress-facebook-questioning-2019-10

A new movie will be released in a few days, telling the story of the D.C. voucher program.

The movie is called Miss Virginia, and the purpose of the movie is to persuade movie goers to love the idea of vouchers as a way to escape their”failing” public schools.

This is a bit reminiscent of the movie called “Won’t Back Down,” that was supposed to sell the miracle of charter schools. It had two Hollywood stars, it opened in 2,500 movie theaters, and within a month it had disappeared. Gone and forgotten. No one wanted to see it.

Mercedes Schneider doesn’t review the movie. Instead she reviews the dismal failure of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program [sic].

She guesses that  movie won’t mention any of the abysmal evaluations of the D.C. voucher program.

Surely, Miss Virginia thought she was helping her children by encouraging Vouchers. She made the mistake of trusting the rich white men like the Koch brothers, the Waltons, and Milton Friedman.

As Schneider shows, the D.C. voucher program is regularly evaluated, and the results are not pretty.

DC VOUCHERS HAD NO IMPACT ON STUDENT ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

  • There were no statistically significant impacts on either reading or mathematics achievement for students who received vouchers or used vouchers three years after applying to the program.

  • The lack of impact on student academic achievement applied to each of the study’s eight subgroups of students: (1) students attending schools in need of improvement when they applied, (2) students not attending schools in need of improvement when they applied, (3) students entering elementary grades when they applied, (4) students entering secondary grades when they applied, (5) students scoring above the median in reading at the time of application, (6) students below the median in reading at the time of application, (7) students scoring above the median in mathematics at the time of application, and (8) students below the median in mathematics at the time of application.


DC VOUCHERS DO NOT PROVIDE GREATER PARENTAL SATISFACTION

  • The program had no statistically significant impact on parents’ satisfaction with the school their child attended after three years.

  • The program had a statistically significant impact on students’ satisfaction with their school only for one subgroup of students (those with reading scores above the median), and no statistically significant impact for any other subgroup.


DC VOUCHERS DO NOT PROVIDE A GREATER SENSE OF SCHOOL SAFETY FOR PARENTS

  • The program had no statistically significant impact on parents’ perceptions of safety for the school their child attended after three years.


DC VOUCHERS DO NOT INCREASE PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT

  • The program had no statistically significant impact on parents’ involvement with their child’s education at school or at home after three years.


DC VOUCHERS DO NOT PROVIDE MORE CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION TIME OR SCHOOL-WIDE RESOURCES

  • The study found that students who received a voucher on average were provided 1.7 hours less of instruction time a week in both reading and math than students who did not receive vouchers.

  • The study found that students who received a voucher had less access to programming for students with learning disabilities and for students who are English Language Learners than students who did not receive vouchers.

  • The study also found that students who received vouchers had fewer school safety measures in place at their schools than students who did not receive vouchers.


DC VOUCHER SCHOOLS ARE PREDOMINANTLY RELIGIOUS AND THE VAST MAJORITY CHARGE TUITION ABOVE THE VOUCHER AMOUNT

  • The study found that 62% of the schools participating in the voucher program from 2013-2016, were religiously affiliated.

  • The study found that 70% of the schools participating in the voucher program from 2013-2016 had published tuition rates above the maximum amount of the voucher. Among those schools, the average difference between the maximum voucher amount and the tuition was $13,310.


MANY STUDENTS REJECT THE VOUCHER OR LEAVE THE PROGRAM

  • The study found that three years after applying to the voucher program, less than half (49%) of the students who received vouchers used them to attend a private school for the full three years.

  • The study also found that 20% of students stopped using the voucher after one year and returned to public school, and 22% of students who received vouchers did not use them at all.