In Defense of the 4-day School Week

…and some other budgetary musings.

Nearly one fifth of school districts in the state of Oklahoma go for only four days a week; and it’s actually cutting costs for the school districts that have undertaken this. To Fallin and the other legislators, this is somehow “unacceptable.”

I think however, and partly based on my own public school experience, four days a week is quite sufficient to educate the students.  In fact, it may still be too much.

Of course, this is old news, but it is becoming relevant as the crunch for the budget begins to be felt again.  Really, the same problems repeat themselves, and the same solutions are endlessly offered – all of which attempt not only to just slap on a band-aid, but to attempt to maintain the same expensive and inefficient educational status quo.

Tulsa Public Schools has recently sent out a survey to patrons, asking which things are most important and least important, in the interests of cutting further.  As a consequence, outrage abounds.  Oh no, we’ll have to cut things that really matter!  TPS superintendent Gist is visibly upset during the interviews (at least for newson6) and a whole other lot of dramatics.

But let’s have a look in at things that are on the proposed cutting board:

  • Deeper cuts to central office services
  • Deeper cuts to athletics, cutting sports with low participation
  • consolidate athletic teams across schools
  • Eliminate athletics altogether
  • Deeper cuts to campus security/police
  • Further class size increases
  • Close/consolidate schools
  • Cut days from the school year
  • Deeper cuts for student counseling services
  • Deeper cuts for transportation
  • Reduce custodial services
  • 4 day school weeks with longer days

Of course, to everyone, this is just unacceptable.  I really can’t understand why – some of these things seem extremely sensible, so much so I wonder why they haven’t been done already.

Athletics are supposedly sustained largely on ticket sales for events, but given that most sporting events are sparsely attended, I don’t see how this can sustain full programs.  I dug through budgets for both Tulsa and Moore Public schools looking for some sort of solid numbers on how much is really spent on athletics; nary a word about it.  I think it’s really just lopped into the general fund.

It’s hard to say exactly how much of a burden athletic programs place on a given school district, but I can say this: if any tax money is spent on athletics, it ought to be revoked completely.  This won’t be a popular opinion in the land where high school football reigns supreme, but because athletics have nothing to do with college or real-world preparation, it ought to be considered a frivolous expense.

(If any reader can give me solid numbers on how much athletics cost the taxpayer, please get in touch with me in the comment forum of this blog…)

When putting together a budget, you have to ask: what is necessary?

When you put together a budget for yourself, you must begin with allotting for your needs, and then the frivolities with the excess money.  If there is no excess, you don’t go and cram everything together to make it fit.  You cut the frivolities.

It seems that the school districts ought to be taking a cue from personal budgeting principles and asking themselves the following questions:

Are athletics really necessary?

Are 180 days in a school year necessary?

Is a five day school week necessary?

Fallin and the legislators seem to be widely in agreement that a five day week is necessary. But the reasons are shakey: it all really has to do with the avoidance of “bad PR” and less about quality or substance of instruction.  What does the state care about bad PR anyway?  It’s not like the public school is ever going to be put out of business…

Anyway,  four days is plenty enough.  Districts that have gone to a four day week have seen solid, tangible savings because of it.  Cited in the channel four article of a month ago, the Newcastle district has saved in transportation costs and substitute teacher pay, because they go one less day a week.  This, certainly, gives them room to ensure teachers can be paid and programs, no matter how frivolous, can continue to operate.  Still, that’s “unacceptable.” Bad PR, you know.

From my own personal experience, the five day a week, 180 day school year is just excessive.  Why?  Busywork.  Wheeling in the TV cart to watch movies.  Days with substitute teachers where we did nothing.  And so on.  I have a feeling that this experience is pretty universal, among my peers.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy the movie days or the blow off subbed classes, but honestly, I would have rather been at home, given the option – saving the district the money of transporting me there and the utilities of keeping us there.

Remember, the goal seems to be college preparation: seldom does a given college class meet for more than a couple days in a week.  It also takes only a semester to teach a subject, too.

Your comments are appreciated.

 

 

 

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Is it our responsibility to fund the arts?

We ask three things of government: the protection of our rights to life, liberty and property.  And while, granted, it is an ancient tradition that the state (i.e., the monarch, church, etc.) served as patron to the arts that would otherwise go un-patronized, is it really necessary these days?

I don’t think so.  You can say that it’s a drop in the bucket, in the context of the entire federal budget – but aren’t the contents of a bucket just a lot of tiny drops?  If you eliminate one, you can eliminate others.  Especially when the results of these “investments” is not really tangible to the everyday American, we know it’s time to cut this waste.

Besides, 971 million – the proposed amount to be cut – is no small sum.

The assumption is that these things (arts, humanities, museums and libraries, and public broadcasting) could not exist without government funding.  I doubt that, but for argument’s sake, let’s say this is so: when the funding dies, so do these things.  What we should be asking, in such a case, is why can these things not subsist on their own?  If they are really so good, so noble, so useful – couldn’t the market support these things on their own?

To a large extent, the market couldn’t, and justifiably shouldn’t.   These things are old fashioned, inefficient.

In an NPR story on this subject, CPB President and CEO Patricia Harrison is quoted as saying that public media is “one of America’s best investments” and costs each citizen only $1.35 per year.  If this were really the case, if public broadcasting was really as great as she says, then it would be supported by the market already, without need for government funding.  Of course, what she says is hogwash – public broadcasting is becoming increasingly irrelevant (if it ever was relevant in the first place, at least compared to the normal broadcasting format) as it’s being replaced with internet (free) news.  It is really like the state paying for the printing of a newspaper that no one reads anymore – because it’s a “good investment.”

The sob stories continue.  From the Washington Post:

The loss of NEA funding would cripple Vermont’s Poetry Out Loud competition, a statewide poetry recitation program that involves 5,500 students, about 25 percent of Vermont high-schoolers. The finals are broadcast on public television, said Alex Aldrich, executive director of the Vermont Arts Council, and the winner goes on to the national competition.

Heaven spare us from having to watch – or pay for – endless hours of bad, amateurish, free-rhyme, high school poetry!

Also from the Washington Post:

“Congress must look out for the millions of American families that can’t always travel to big cities to visit a museum when they want to learn about art and history.”

The internet has a lot of information about art and history, you know.

From a Quartz story, comparing this to when Australia slashed cultural funding:

In reality, these kinds of cuts have more to do with ideology than saving money. Abbott’s attacks were an example of how conservatives often target government-run arts programs on the suspicion that the creative sector is really a giant, publicly funded, left-wing racket.

Well… yeah?

From that same story:

Research by the Australia Council found that more Australians go to art galleries each year than to Australian Football League matches, the most popular sporting code in the country.

In that case, it shouldn’t be an issue – art galleries would be able to support themselves if they are really so popular, no?

I am almost in complete support of the intentions of Trump’s new budget.  It is the first attempt at a conservative budget I have seen in my lifetime – though, the military expenditure is still most definitely excessive.

Opposing Trump without loosing legitimacy

Or, how to oppose Trump with “grace.”

Of course, my readers (and anyone that happened to be around me long enough for a conversation) knew that I opposed Trump’s policies as soon as he announced his candidacy.  I may have hopped on a few opinion bandwagons; but I did so because I also opposed the alternative, which was merely another shade (granted, less amusing) of the same problem: using government power to enforce particular political agendas and purposes.

Now that he’s president, it would be very easy for me to hop on these smug, self-righteous, pop culture bandwagons in opposition to his policies.  Everyone else is doing it.  These articles would practically write themselves.

But I don’t do that.  Even though I do oppose some of Trump’s measures, I haven’t been vocal in my opposition.  Why?  I hesitate because I don’t want to be lopped in with the aforementioned bandwagons.

These bandwagons have no substance, no sustaining force other than the talking points devised by a bitter media, and led by the useless: politicians, celebrities, other media figures, etc.  Led by people whose only qualification is being famous.   A very dismal thing, to take your political points from someone like this.

This bandwagon is becoming so large, and so constant, it now seems to be nothing more than background static.  Always there, a little annoying, but easily ignored.  Which raises a concern: when there is some actual serious violation of the mandate, some serious dishonesty, who will listen to the outrage?  No one in mainstream, everyday America, because the “outrage” of these bandwagons is already wearing out it’s welcome.

I have said that if Donald Trump liberates North Korea, the media here will find a way to spin it to criticize Trump and glorify the (hopefully disposed) Kim Jong Un.  That is the moment that they will loose their last shred of credibility.

Because it’s not that they oppose the things (they never said anything when the last president “banned” people) but it’s simply because they oppose the man, and thus will say anything that will frame him in a bad light, no matter how good the action is on Trump’s part.  He could hand a new puppy to every child in the World and it wouldn’t matter.

 

Is it really okay to punch a Nazi?

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This is an odd little question, but it is one that actually needs to be answered, instead of just a provocative hypothetical for discussion.  When someone asked Jeb Bush if he would kill baby Hitler, well, that’s just a hypothetical meant to provoke.  But now, there are really people going around and punching Nazis.  Is that okay?

I suppose if old Adolf, Himmler, or Goebells wandered into your local Walmart, yeah, I suppose it would be justifiable to punch them.  And if a skinhead went around causing trouble, I don’t think it would be too big of a deal to give them a swift punch to the nose too.  I certainly wouldn’t complain.

The answer all depends on your definition of what a “Nazi” really is.

Here’s the problem with saying that it’s okay to punch a Nazi: the true real Nazis are either dead or dying.  The modern skinheads are a tiny minority that are really best ignored.  So that leaves what?  Some sort of vague accusation of “bigotry” which is constantly being tossed from the political left, onto anyone they don’t like.

So while they’re saying “It’s okay to punch a Nazi,” what they’re really saying is that “It’s okay to punch anyone who we disagree with” because anyone that disagrees with them is automatically a bigot, a sexist, a racist.  There’s no rhyme or reason to these accusations; and thanks to a media and pop culture which is completely dedicated to leftism, there doesn’t have to be.

Limiting the range of acceptable opinions

It is rather unfortunate, that there is a sort of “libertarian establishment” forming, which seeks to limit the range of acceptable opinion. It is being driven by the smug leftists who have, to the detriment of the real Oklahoma libertarian movement, dominated the discussion and leadership.
 
As a libertarian, I believe in the equal rights of women. I believe in the equal rights of homosexuals. And I also recognize that Islam, wherever it exists, wherever it dominates, suppresses those very rights. As an honest libertarian, I could not possibly be okay with an institution or organization that opposes and seeks to suppress these rights.
 
You might allege that I have some sort of deep seated hatred for Islam, and I’m just saying this to strengthen my argument. No. It would be much easier, and I would much prefer, to believe that Islam is a peaceful religion like all the rest. I would much rather be able to accept it. It would be easier, it would mean less hard feelings. But truthfully, I can’t. Islam runs contrary to every deeply held Libertarian belief.
 
You can say “well, what about Christianity!? They hate homosexuals!” No. Yeah, Christians might disagree with that lifestyle. But the modern American Christian is not in the habit of taking action. They gripe from the pews, but quickly run away from them when it is time for lunch. No Christians support murdering or systematically oppressing them. Oh, I’m sure that a certain smug leftist can probably drudge up some instance which occurred a few years ago where a Christian running for the Oklahoma legislature said something to that effect. One instance.  
Nobody likes to hear what Milo said.  It’s not very fun.  But that does not make it any less true.
It is illegal to be homosexual in twelve Islamic countries.  Is that very libertarian?
52 percent of British muslims think Homosexuality should be made illegal.  (Worth noting: not just homosexual marriage, which many in the US still oppose, but rather: homosexuality in general).  Is that very libertarian?

Leftism is the enemy of freedom

The one, solid, discernible threat to American freedom at the present isn’t terrorism, socialism, or Donald Trump.  Instead, it’s ultra-leftism.

The events of last night have elevated the left wing from an incoherent and increasingly irrelevant political philosophy to an organized movement of violence and hatred, directed towards anyone who dares question their out of touch notions or worldviews.

When this leftism is given a platform or authority, it becomes a danger to the life and property of a free people.

As a libertarian, I have made clear that all peaceful people have the right to live as they will.  But that does not mean I have to condone or approve of their lifestyle.  The leftists would say, in response, that anything less than full support of all opposing lifestyles is hatred and bigotry.

Where could this have originated?

It’s not as if humans usually tend towards such extremes.  They can be, however, driven there.

It begins when you bring forth a new generation, an American generation raised in the 1990’s through the 2000’s.  This is the generation which has seen, overall, the highest standard of living of anyone else throughout human history.  A generation that was scarcely denied anything; it was a generation raised by daycare facilities and video games.  A generation which was never denied anything will not know how to respond well when they are deprived of something.

When we apply this to politics, we begin to see very clearly.  24 hours of constant leftist rhetoric being emitted from nearly every broadcast network, paper news publication, and internet news site, constantly creating enemies to fight them, constantly portraying the Right wing as something it isn’t, to justify their own existence.  If a movement has something to fight, it has a purpose.  If it doesn’t, the movement ceases to be meaningful.

Well, this new generation, which has only been recently politically active, has bought into these apocalyptic fictions painted by a desperate, dying movement – which has now a new life, far more terrifying than ever before.

Leftism is more of a religion than a philosophy; it necessarily preaches tolerance, but thinks less of anyone that does not fully hop on board with their worldview.  It is annoyingly self-righteous, and like a religion, the faithful are unwilling to compromise.  When they don’t get their way, they don’t seek to wait until next time, and elect people that will undo the policies of the politician previous (as is what the right did, with stunning gusto) but instead, throw a fit.

But this religion is becoming violent, and badly informed.  I would be willing to wager that those people out on the campus last night could not name a single thing that Milo said that was in any way “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobic,” etc.  All they can tell you is that he is a “racist,” a “sexist,” or a “homophobe.”  Not because they have happened upon that conclusion on their own, but because a left wing media source has assured them, baselessly, of this.

Leftism is entirely dangerous to freedom because it is more a religion than a philosophy.  It’s participants, far from leaving everyone alone, seek to impose their ideas on everyone else.  Heaven forbid if this new, radical leftism ever takes effective power.

 

Missing the Point on Planned Parenthood

As previously noted, it does not matter what Trump does; he will be widely criticized.

He took steps not to defund the organization, but to remove the government funding to that organization.  The organization will not cease to exist; but if it cannot subsist on private donations, perhaps it does not deserve to exist at all.

Nobody can give a straight answer as to the actual purpose of Planned Parenthood.  Does it coordinate abortions, or is it instrumental in providing female healthcare?

If it provides abortions, it should not receive federal funding.

But if it provides access to female healthcare, should it receive federal funding?  Not in this case either.  Private organizations should not receive funds from the federal government, no matter what the purpose of that organization is.

This entire matter is being badly framed.  It is not really an issue of pro-life vs. pro-choice.  It is, as usual, an argument of the real purpose of government.

Bastiat: “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society.  As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.”

In response to the popular meme, “you’ll never see seven women legislating what men ought to do with their reproductive organs” I can only say this: it misses the entire point of these measures.  These men do not seek to control your reproductive organs (at least not with this most recent legislation) but rather, do what they were elected to do: shrink and restrict the functions and expenses of government.

As usual, of course, the left is being over-dramatic.  Removing federal funding from Planned Parenthood is not trying to control reproductive organs; it’s just doing the right thing with public money.

Trump and Education Reform

Now that the grand theater is over, it’s time to get down to business.

I’m not so sure if the many outlandish promises (i.e., the wall, Muslim registration, etc) are ever going to materialize; but then again, I’ve been wrong about Trump at every twist and turn.  I should just stop making predictions.

I found his inaugural address to be quite good, certainly simple and succinct.  A negative response was inevitable, no matter what he said.  The left and the media will loose their last vestiges of legitimacy very quickly, not because they have an ideological opposition to Trump, but because they will find a way to criticize everything the man does or says because of it.  (Remember soon after the election when Trump had the gall to have dinner without notifying the press?  That sort of thing.)

There was one statement in particular that I hope he follows up on:  “…an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge…”

This is quite the case.  For all intents and purposes we (as a nation) have among the wealthiest education systems in the world, yet the mediocre results become more obvious with each passing year.  It’s clear to everyone except those in the education system that it’s not a matter of money, but of method.  Really, what justification do we have to continue this failing educational status quo?

The growth of school choice in the last few years is encouraging.  What really would be needed to “fix” this education system is the innovations and improvements that really only happen by private initiative on an open market.  But most people have decided that education should never be privatized; so we are left with very few options, and most of them being some variation of government monopoly.

The school choice system – one I hope is honestly pursued by the new Trump administration – gives at least the illusion of choice, and more importantly the motivation for the providers of education to improve their product.  Quite simple enough, but it still finds widespread opposition.  Mostly because some students might have a better educational experience than others; and this is true.  However, would we rather stifle the potential of the brightest students in the interests of fairness of equality?  Would we really want to see that potential unrealized so that all the students are equal in the same, dismal public school?

As for our own state, you can bet that teacher pay is going to be an issue this Spring, as it always is.  Never mind the fact that the pay rate of public school teachers is inflated relative to the pay rate of private school teachers; and never mind the fact that while we are comparing the rates of teacher pay here to other states, we fail to take into consideration the cheaper cost of living here – yes, let’s ignore all that.  Everyone seems to be quite decided.

The taxpayers are already heavily burdened with this inefficient Oklahoma public school system.  But rather ingeniously, Oklahoma State Representative Mark McBride has devised a plan that would basically allow us to have our cake, and eat it too.  Use TSET money to fund, at least in part, education employees involved with health or related matters, thus freeing up money for other education purposes.  Besides healthcare expenses, TSET money is largely being wasted on these silly TV ad campaigns – but I think education is a far better use for that money.

House Bill 1245 is one that is really worth watching.

The Stagnation of Progressivism

 

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It was happening anyway.  Trump’s victory only showed the stagnation – and the utter desperation on the part of the progressive movement for some sort of relevance.

Progressive policies and movements have given us no tangible, positive changes.  Instead, the progressive movement gives us only self-righteous whining.   All the progressive movement’s members are so entirely sure of themselves, contrary opinions are not just disagreements, they are seen as aggression.  There is no possible reasonable mindset but their own.

Of course, this is fairly obvious.

Meryl Streep did nothing brave (or remotely interesting or useful) in her anti-Trump rant, which is nothing but a repeat of what we constantly hear from the left wing.  Just as the right wing began to invent apocalyptic fictions eight years ago, just to live in constant paranoia in the shadow of those fictions, so we now see the progressive movement do the exact same thing.

Streep attacked Trump, which is well within her right to do.  The progressives applauded her for it.  Trump, who has every right to respond in kind, responds and is attacked for it.

I say that progressivism is stagnant because it cannot offer a proper, intellectual defense of itself.  It can only attack the opposition, and then run behind a chair and accuse the opposition of aggression when it has the audacity to argue back.  It can only drone on endlessly about the non-existent oppression of homosexuals and related groups, non existent racism, pronouns and inventing new genders.  These are all signs of a stagnation.

I’m not sure if it’s the stagnation that was responsible for Trump’s win (i’m still convinced that it was the perception of something different, that influenced the voters where it mattered) and progressivism is not going to disappear, either.  It’s still more fashionable to be a liberal, after all.

 

The Russian Report – The Russian Fiction

Today, an unclassified version of “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” was made available.  I hope that the unclassified version will be available soon, as supposedly much of the concrete information was removed to protect sources.  I have a feeling that whatever information was with-held was just as flimsy as that which was released.

After all, circumstantial evidence is not evidence, and at any rate not sufficient cause to create a diplomatic row such as the present administration has done.

In case you don’t have time or willingness to read through twenty five pages of Government fluff, here are some highlights, and some commentary.

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

“We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.”

Is it wrong for a foreign government to prefer a certain candidate over another?  In another place I would be willing to explore that question in depth, as it does deserve an answer.  But here, I can only say that our own government is guilty of doing this, even going so far as to finance certain candidates in foreign countries.  We can do it, but other countries can’t?

I can see why Vladimir Putin would want to oppose a candidate who has taken a very brash and aggressive tone towards another nuclear power.  Nobody wants friction, and Trump did promise a more cooperative relationship.  But as to discrediting Clinton?  Everything about her was entirely factual – if we want to place blame, we can only place it on Clinton.

Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.” Russia, like its Soviet predecessor, has a history of conducting covert influence campaigns focused on US presidential elections that have used intelligence officers and agents and press placements to disparage candidates perceived as hostile to the Kremlin.

(emphasis added, because i’m speechless at the “troll” issue.)

Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards. DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.

Finally, this myth can be laid to rest.  Russia could not have manipulated the vote tallies.

In early September, Putin said publicly it was important the DNC data was exposed to WikiLeaks, calling the search for the source of the leaks a distraction and denying Russian “state-level” involvement.

He isn’t wrong, it is important.  Given that the report gives no evidence or grounds for the assertion that Russia conducted the hacks and sent the information obtained to Wikileaks (“reasoning” offered is circumstantial only; RT is sympathetic to Assange and RT’s editor in Chief visited Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2013, long before Trump’s candidacy became a thought) we cannot believe this assertion.

Russia’s state-run propaganda machine—comprised of its domestic media apparatus, outlets targeting global audiences such as RT and Sputnik, and a network of quasi-government trolls—contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences. State-owned Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President elect Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary Clinton.

(Emphasis added) Okay?  Isn’t it something that we’re suddenly concerned about media bias when, throughout this whole affair, the American media was overwhelmingly biased in favor of Clinton?  I have a hard time objecting to the Russian media’s bias towards Trump when our own media was so obviously in the bag for Clinton.

It’s worth it to note that at this point in the report, the focus turns from flimsy hacking allegations to details on the Russian media activity, which actually constitutes the majority of the unclassified report.

RT’s coverage of Secretary Clinton throughout the US presidential campaign was consistently negative and focused on her leaked e-mails and accused her of corruption, poor physical and mental health, and ties to Islamic extremism. Some Russian officials echoed Russian lines for the influence campaign that Secretary Clinton’s election could lead to a war between the United States and Russia.

So, you mean, the truth?

A journalist who is a leading expert on the Internet Research Agency claimed that some social media accounts that appear to be tied to Russia’s professional trolls—because they previously were devoted to supporting Russian actions in Ukraine—started to advocate for President-elect Trump as early as December 2015.

What remains to be proven, is the impact these “trolls” had on the actual outcome of the election.  It certainly isn’t featured in the report.

In an effort to highlight the alleged “lack of democracy” in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates. The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a “sham.”

What, so the prospect of third party candidates is “undemocratic” now?  On that count, the RT hosts are completely correct.  The two party system is a sham, and indeed, a third of our population goes effectively unrepresented.

RT’s reports often characterize the United States as a “surveillance state” and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use (RT, 24, 28 October, 1-10 November).

RT has also focused on criticism of the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt. Some of RT’s hosts have compared the United States to Imperial Rome and have predicted that government corruption and “corporate greed” will lead to US financial collapse (RT, 31 October, 4 November).

Well… How are these assertions incorrect?

According to Simonyan, the TV audience worldwide is losing trust in traditional TV broadcasts and stations, while the popularity of “alternative channels” like RT or Al Jazeera grows. RT markets itself as an “alternative channel” that is available via the Internet everywhere in the world, and it encourages interaction and social networking (Kommersant, 29 September).

Small wonder that the TV audience worldwide is loosing trust in traditional TV, due to it’s obvious, left wing bias.  Not that RT’s right wing bias is noble, but it’s understandable that a certain part of the news audience would want an alternative more in line with their views.  This report implies, of course, that the bias of our own media sources are okay, so long as they are sympathetic to Clinton and the ruling class.

That’s about it.  The full report, if that’s how you like to spend your long winter evenings, is available here:  https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf