Monday, November 25, 2013

Arne Duncan -- Clueless Man or Male Chauvinist?

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is the most clueless man in America.

He and is ilk take an Orwellian approach to life, saying Common Core, the latest movement in K – 12 public school, educational reform, was adopted and voluntarily accepted by 45 of the 50 states.

It’s all in how you define “voluntarily.” 

As parents across the country are fast becoming aware, it looks more like this:   Under the cover of the darkness of night, their governor or state board of education pulled a fast one, adopting Common Core without putting it before the voters or their state legislature first.

Compare that to how Massachusetts went about reforming its schools, long before there was anything called a Common Core.  Back in 1993, the state legislature very publicly took up the issue of improving the schools. 

It was hotly contested and received a lot of press, providing Bay State parents with time to look at the condition of the state’s public school education and how it compared to what their peers across the country and overseas were doing.

The result was that the State House decided to reform the schools and, 20 years later, Massachusetts can rightfully claim to have some of the best public schools in the country.

In fact, based on some of the latest international testing results, Bay State kids hold their own against some of the best students in the world.  And it was due to the fact that education was focused on pushing the kids to read, write and understand math and science better than they had before.

Still, in spite of being considered a top state for public school education, Massachusetts succumbed to Common Core's tactics, with the only vote approving this latest reform movement done by the board overseeing the state's department of elementary and secondary education.  

And now Arne and his Common Core co-conspirators have a problem.

Parents are organizing, screaming that Common Core’s standards are dumbing down education – and there are plenty of experts to back that up – and, as a result, some state legislatures are taking a look at this thing, scaling it back or putting it on hold for further review.

This is what happens, Arne, when you insult the voters’ intellect, especially parents, and fail to follow President Abraham Lincoln’s maxim – “I’m a firm believer in the people.  If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.”

Even my elder son’s fifth grade teacher says Common Core is slowing down math education.  It’s not enough to know that 10 divided by 2 equals five; now the kids need to write an essay.  Really?

The public school system in our little Burg may want to treat kids like idiots, but we don’t:  We think our sons are damn intelligent and deserve better.

Which is why, Arne, my wife and I took matters into our own hands and send them to the Russian School of Mathematics.

Which is why, Arne, instead of pushing my elder son to re-read “No Talking,” a book that’s about five steps above “Dick and Jane,” I had him read “Catcher in the Rye.”

Which is why, Arne, from time to time, the boys will read stories in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald.

In the 21st century, Arne, it’s critical our sons have the skills necessary to compete against kids from South Korea, China, Japan – and elsewhere around the globe – where education is taken seriously and kids are pushed to achieve more, not less.

I don’t know where you’ve been, Arne, but you haven’t been standing on the sidelines of baseball and basketball games or on the decks of swim meets, making casual conversation with suburban moms as their children participate in sporting events.

Had you been doing so, you’d come to know them the way I do – incredibly intelligent, committed to their professional success and their children’s education.

In addition, there’s something else, Arne, you don’t know about suburban moms – they’re educated, holding college degrees and then some.  

Maybe they didn’t all go to Harvard like you did, Arne, or Columbia, like your boss, but their college degrees are just as good as yours.

Because today they’re doctors, lawyers, cardiac nurses and registered ones, too, FBI agents, securities regulators, pharmacists, writers, journalists, public relations executives, bank regulators, accountants, sales, marketing and advertising executives, teachers and one I know pretty well manages a sizeable city in a western state.

So Arne, they’re not going to stand for being disparaged as a bunch of no-nothings, and they’re not buying snake oil either!

The taxpayers, Arne, pay your salary.  In this democracy of ours – as suburban moms will be happy to remind you – you report to us!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Common Core: Will it water down education?

Note:  Below is a story I wrote and that appeared in a Massachusetts parenting magazine, baystateparent, in August 2013.  There were some editing errors as the story was laid out in the magazine so what appears below is the final, edited piece by the editor before it was moved into production.

An interesting note about the debate over Common Core:  Frederick Hess, an adjunct professor at Harvard University and the executive editor of, told me, while I interviewed him for this story, that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was prone to heavily criticizing opponents of Common Core.  He held to his reputation, when, recently, he said the only people complaining about Common Core were "white suburban moms."

One wonders what the outcry would have been had Mr. Duncan been a Republican, not a Democrat.

Here's a link to The Washington Post story about Mr. Duncan:

Common Core:  Will it water down education?


  Those pushing Common Core see the country’s schools in a desperate situation, needing an immediate fix if the nation’s youth aren’t to be condemned to future economic failure.
  Even Massachusetts schools require further improvement because too many Bay State public high school graduates take remedial classes in math and English in college or if they go directly into the work force, lack the reading and math skills required for the job, according to the Commonwealth’s top education officer.
  But those against Common Core see it as a nefarious plot to reduce the state’s exacting standards for K – 12 education, making them more compatible to the whims of the man putting financial muscle behind the effort – Out-of-state Billionaire and Microsoft Founder Bill Gates – and not in the best interests of the kids.
  One detractor says it’s like something out of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” an effort to tailor the country’s workforce to Microsoft.
  Given these two, very opposing views, what’s a parent to believe?

Ripe for Change

  American public schools remain vulnerable to reform because standardized test scores, like the one administered two years ago by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), showed only 32 percent of U.S. eighth graders proficient in math.
  “Until the test scores improve, schools will be seen as needing to be reformed,” says Paul Peterson, director of the program on education policy and governance at Harvard University.
  Massachusetts students, however, are bucking the trends.
  About 50 percent of all Massachusetts fourth and eighth graders who took the National Assessment and Educational Progress (NAEP) exam two years ago were considered proficient in math and English.
  In another standardized test, also taken about two years ago, called Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), which measured math and science abilities of Massachusetts eighth graders against their peers in 63 countries and nine U.S. states, Bay State students scored near the top in math, just behind children from South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
  In the science portion of the TIMSS exam, Bay State eighth graders also scored near the top, falling only behind kids from Singapore.
  But Massachusetts Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester sees it differently. “Massachusetts citizens should be proud (of the schools), but having said that, our biggest disadvantage is complacency,” he says. “And so we point out that 50 percent of our students are proficient, but 50 percent are not.”
  “As top-rated as our public school system is, 40 percent of our public high school graduates who matriculate to public universities or community colleges in Massachusetts take at least one remedial, non-credit class because they don’t have the math and English skills needed for college,” Chester says. 
  “Too many of our students can’t read complex texts, technical information and non-fiction information, which is what they have to tackle in college courses,” he says. “They can write a personal essay, but when it comes to critiquing material they’ve just read, they don’t have the skills.”
  “Too many students are also without the math skills that let them tackle more advanced classes. They also struggle to apply math to real-life situations. These are the criticisms I’ve heard from many employers,” Chester adds.

What About MCAS?

  The standardized test kids have been taking since 1998 in the state, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Study (MCAS), will likely be replaced by a new, standardized test that’s given in 22 other states.
  The new test, called Partnership for Assessment Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), will test kids in grades 3 to 11, says J.C. Considine, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
  PARCC tests for what Common Core is all about – career and college readiness. 
  Chester says many high school graduates taking a remedial math or English class in college did well on the 10th grade MCAS test and that’s the reason for the new PARCC test.
  “We’ll know (with the PARCC test) whether someone in the 10th grade or 11th grade is performing on track to finish high school and do well in college or in their career.”
  The first PARCC test is expected during the 2014 – 2015 academic year.

Common Core Defined

  Common Core’s has two components, mathematics and English. 
  The math portion focuses instruction on fewer topics and goes into greater depth. This means first grade math not only introduces addition and subtraction but also makes kids understand the reason behind the answer.
  In the fifth grade, according to Common Core, children are adding and subtracting fractions and graphing data.
  There’s also a push, from the people developing Common Core, to move Algebra 1 from eighth to ninth grade, but Commissioner Chester says that doesn’t apply to Massachusetts.
  “School districts can continue to teach Algebra 1 in the eighth grade,” he says.
  A retired Stanford University math professor, R. James Milgram, who worked on Common Core standards, has expressed much concern that the new Common Core math will put American children behind their peers overseas.

Watering Down Education

  There’s much skepticism about Common Core because leading scholars on education, English and math take issue with it.
  Board of Massachusetts and Secondary Education Member Dr. Sandra Stotsky was on the Common Core’s Validation Committee and refused to approve its standards.
  “We’re dumbing down the entire population,” she says. “That’s what you get when you have standards that have been lowered and you don’t provide any understanding of history and the heritage of the English language.”
  She fears high school English teachers, instead of focusing on literature, drama and poetry, will be forced to teach the writings of political philosophers and how they’re relevant to high school students’ understanding of the U.S. Constitution.
  Massachusetts Education Commissioner Chester disagrees. “Literacy skills are the teachers’ responsibility. You don’t expect English teachers to solve this problem alone. This requires history teachers and science teachers to make sure their students understand the vocabulary being used, how a textbook is structured and how to read critically what’s being presented,” he says.
  When the commissioner was asked if he expected high school English teachers to teach informational texts as they relate to U.S. history, Chester said, “No. They’re not teaching U.S. history.”
  “If Common Core standards are going to be set at the international level and against the NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) standardized test, then the American public is in for a very rude shock,” says Harvard University’s Education Policy Professor Peterson.
  He says Common Core is a step up for weak public schools, like those in California, but, he says, “I’d be upset if I was a parent in Massachusetts.”

Who Controls the Curriculum of Common Core?

  Worcester School Committee Member Donna Colorio has just formed a group, The Massachusetts Coalition for Superior Education, that’s opposed to Common Core.
  She worries it’ll lower the educational standards Massachusetts set when it reformed its curriculum about 15 years ago and, eventually, nationalize the K – 12 school curriculum and standards.
  “This is a top down approach to education,” Colorio says. “There’s no local control.”
  She says teachers are worried they’ll be held to a timeline to keep students on track as they teach material that’s part of Common Core and, as a result, won’t be able to help their slower learners.
  Commissioner Chester takes issue with this prediction.
  “There are some states that specify the curriculum and give you textbook lists and have a syllabus of what high school biology will cover,” he says. “We don’t.”
  “We’ve adopted frameworks that include the Common Core standards for English and math. We’re developing resources and model units of study,” Chester adds.
  “Teachers can still customize and individualize education and meet students where they are to move them forward,” he says. “Even if you wanted a lock-step curriculum, it’s not a day-by-day or month-by-month plan. It’s end of the year expectations.”

The Funding Behind Common Core

  The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was awarded a Race to the Top (RTTT) grant of $250 million by the U.S. Department of Education in Washington.
 The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation helped Massachusetts win the grant by paying a Boston-based company, The Bridgespan Group, to prepare the Bay State’s application for the grant.
 Critical to receiving the grant is that Common Core will be introduced into Massachusetts’ educational system as well as into local school districts applying for a portion of the grant.
  So far about 65 percent of the state’s school districts have accepted RTTT funds, including Boston Public Schools as well as the districts of Brockton, Haverhill, New Bedford, Springfield, Worcester, Revere and many others, according to Commissioner Chester. 
  In addition, 44 of the state’s charter schools have also received RTTT funds.
  Common Core came from the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers about six years ago, Harvard’s Professor Peterson says, because results on a standardized test by the National Association of Educational Progress (NAEP) differed from standardized test results conducted by individual states.

Future Problems

  The biggest potential problem for Common Core, says one education expert following its progress, is that it’s been done so quietly.
  “Common Core advocates have been perfectly happy to have states quietly sign up for Race to the Top dollars,” says Frederick Hess, a faculty associate at Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Executive Editor of Education Next. “They’ve been perfectly happy to take their bureaucratic victories and just go home.”
  The best reason for Common Core, he says, is the standardized test results around the country.
  “They’re all gobbledygook,” Dr. Hess says. “Massachusetts has some of the best national assessments as the National Association of Education Progress test show, but parents in other states are not getting reliable information about their schools.”
  “While maybe this idea has merit, Common Core’s been done off the radar by a couple of hundred folks, operating out of sight, with the U.S. Department of Education leaning on states to apply for Race to the Top funds, all the while paying little attention to what Common Core means in practice,” Hess says.
  “Common Core advocates want to change the way schools think about math and reading instruction for 50 million kids, and they’ve been very reluctant to publicly debate why this is good,” he says.  “They’ve tended to dismiss critics as ‘no-nothings’ and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said they’re part of some crazy fringe.”
  Emory University English Professor Mark Bauerlein, who’s against Common Core, looks at this reform movement as similar to a science fiction novel.
  “This is more ‘Brave New World,’” he says, with one person, or group of people, determining how future generations will think, act and how they will be employed.
  Indeed, The Boston Globe, recently reported Google and Microsoft executives want Massachusetts public schools to teach computer science and “add computing questions to the state’s standardized tests.”

Friday, November 15, 2013

Our Three Tragedies -- The Ancient Greeks and the Affordable Care Act

The debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, is looking like a Greek tragedy – not one but three.

The first tragedy is President Obama’s age and experience. 

While no one chooses his or her birthday, Obama’s lack of political experience, especially guiding something as tricky as a near overhaul of health care in the United States, is his responsibility.

Had he not been a young man in a hurry in 2008 – and certainly a better student of American history – he would have delayed his presidential ambitions. 

Instead of seeking his party’s presidential nomination, Obama would have gained executive suite experience as either a governor or a Cabinet member in a Hillary Clinton Administration.  But he pressed on, winning his current post.

Which is unfortunate.  Because if Obama was a better history student, he would know the most effective presidents – the ones with the chops for the job – came to the White House with one or two characteristics:  Prior executive experience as either a governor, a general or a Congressional leader and, usually, 50 years old.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan – some of the country’s best presidents – possessed one, if not both, attributes when they became the country’s leader.

If Obama demonstrated patience, he’d be watching this debate from the sidelines, not find himself in the middle of it, showing what he really is – a political novice whose inability to manage the new law may very well sink his presidency and his party, too.

The second tragedy is the law’s name.  The citizenry is finally hearing – loud and clear – it’s called the Affordable Care Act. 

But when there are, potentially, as many as 50 million people facing cancelled health insurance plans because theirs don’t cover every disease, test and possible treatment required under the new law – and facing large increases in their monthly premiums – then this new law doesn’t look “affordable.”

It looks expensive.

In California, the Los Angeles Times reported, some self-employed people paying less than $100 a month for their monthly health insurance premium are looking at an increase of about $140 a month so their plan is in synch with the new law.

The McClatchy News Service reported as many as 40 million people in the United States, buying health insurance through their employers, may see their policies cancelled because they don’t stake up with the law and another 11 million people buying policies on their own are also likely facing the same problem.

And, of course, everyone heard – or saw by now – the infamous video of President Obama saying, “If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.”

That statement didn’t come with any caveats. The American people took him for his word.

But now Obama’s eating his words, attempting to find wiggle room to keep that promise while, at the same time, attempting to maintain his signature legislation, something that’s more difficult by the day.  Especially when he’s receiving “help” from former President Bill Clinton, who also made a run at changing how health care is managed and paid for.

The third tragedy is economics.  Its first law is that there’s no such thing as a free lunch and if that isn’t understood by now, it may never be.

A to Z health care coverage – and then some – is costly.  This isn’t like buying a liability policy for your car – usually sold for fewer dollars – so anyone you hit is paid off.

The new law requires you to buy a comprehensive health care policy covering you for anything and everything even though the likelihood of you needing such coverage might be statistically remote.

So what everyone is suddenly learning is that the Obama Administration, through the Affordable Care Act, sold off the American public to the insurance industry.

You’ll pay their rates – and you’ll enjoy it!

And given the Supreme Court’s ruling, there are few legal challenges available.

The Ancient Greeks thought no tragedy was meaningless.  There’s always a lesson. 

Maybe we’re finally learning that if we paid own doctors, out of our own pockets, with our own money, instead of receiving a subsidy from the insurance industry, as we have since World War II, then health care’s prices will drop.

We need to stop acting like crack addicts and wean ourselves off the insurance industry.  If we don’t, health care prices will continue to be inflated.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Betty Crocker -- The Widow Maker

These products, pictured above, from Betty Crocker, a household name for decades, contain minute traces of trans fats.  According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's latest proposals, either the trans fats will be removed or these products will be prohibited in the United States.

According to the label for the frosting, there's 1.5 grams of trans fat per two teaspoons.  The brownie box label says there's .05 grams of trans fat per serving.  As the FDA sees it, the slightest consumption of these products will kill you.

Meantime, bacon, high in fat and cholesterol, remains good for you.  That's because the FDA has yet to eliminate it from the American diet.

But if they're successful with Betty Crocker, bacon's next -- and so's your cheeseburger, your pizza and anything else you happen to enjoy.

As the FDA sees it, you're a dog -- too stupid to manage your own diet.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Your Life in Two Paragraphs

If Barack Obama were assassinated today, how would he be summed up? 

As the first African American elected president who also failed to deliver his signature piece of legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, on time, leaving millions worried they would be fined – or worse – if they failed to sign up for health insurance as instructed by the law?  As the president who made the United States a laughing stock, at least in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eyes, because he didn’t bomb Syria as previously threatened?

That might sound good if you never voted for Barack Obama.

But what if you did?           

You might say he’s the first African American elected president who not only killed Osama bin Laden but also delivered a health care law that benefits all Americans while being judicious in his use of military force.

Is either assessment fair and accurate?

Well, they’re both about right. 

Mr. Obama was the first African American elected president.  He ordered the assault on Osama bin Laden once his whereabouts were known; and, while his health care reform law was passed, and even blessed by the Supreme Court, the website enabling Americans to sign up for health insurance, scheduled to be running by October 1, 2013, wasn’t ready on time; finally, after sending strong signals about a possible attack on Syria, President Obama didn’t attack, deciding to let Congress decide U.S. actions.

Are these failings or achievements?  It depends on your political point of view.

So what are we supposed to make out of John F. Kennedy, whose presidency is undergoing a reassessment? 

Apparently historians are downgrading him because he was less than prescient with his actions, failing to understand that his moves against the Communist enemy we faced in the early 1960s would bring about a response.

If we’re to accept how some historians look at Kennedy, he should never have allowed the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 because it only led to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which took the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust.   Seriously, what was he thinking?

In addition, none of his most significant pieces of legislation, like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and his tax cut, were passed during his time in office.  It took Lyndon Johnson’s deft legislative skills to make sure Congress turned them into law.  Finally, America’s intervention in Vietnam can also be blamed on Kennedy, some historians say.

But we should keep in mind that the Civil Rights Act and the tax cut weren’t proposed until 1963, Kennedy’s last year in office.  Had he not been assassinated, it’s possible he could have signed them into law. 

Kennedy’s actions in Vietnam were consistent with Cold War policies; for that matter, the country, during his time in office, felt as threatened by Communism as we have, recently, by terrorism.

Historians face the challenge of summing up someone’s life, meaning, if they’re doing their job properly, they’ll consider the culture in which their subject lived as well as their significant experiences. 

Gerald Sorin said it best:

“ … we biographers, even those such as myself who want to write cross-over books accessible to the educated lay public, don’t simply chart the course of a life from womb to tomb; we examine our subjects in dialectical relationship to the multiple worlds they inhabit, social, political, and cultural.”

Like any president, Kennedy came into office with a host of life events, including being a member of a large family; considered, at times, the son who wouldn’t live up to his potential; a combat veteran; a Cold Warrior; an accused philanderer; it’s also thought, by some, he didn’t write the books he authored; a loving father; a Democrat who didn’t always fit in neatly with his party’s philosophy.

Did any of this make Kennedy a bad or a good president?

Unlike the vast majority of presidents, Kennedy’s one of the few who died in office.  His abbreviated term – lasting less than three years – leaves more question marks than exclamation points. 

His biggest drawback is likely the same one that afflicts Obama – a lack of executive and leadership experience prior to becoming president. 

While it’s easy for some to see black and white when it comes to presidents they like or dislike, we should keep in mind that none of us, including our leaders, are one-dimensional.

I’m hard pressed to give Kennedy a bad rap, and I’m uncomfortable pronouncing him a hero.  His successes and failures speak for themselves.


Friday, November 08, 2013

Thick as a Brick and You Are Too

I’ve come down from the upper class to mend your rotten ways.
My father was a man-of-power whom everyone obeyed.
I’ve got to put you straight just like I did with my old man --
Twenty years too late.
~ Ian Anderson

Never once during my teenage years did it occur to me that Ian Anderson was a prescient songwriter.

But all you need to do is read his lyrics for his band’s “Thick as a Brick” album, released in early 1972, to realize he was onto something.

The Food and Drug Administration, which approves nearly all food and drugs sold in the United States, recently increased the cost patients pay for their asthma inhalers, The New York Times reported.

The regulator became so worried about the country’s 40 million asthma patients polluting the air with chlorofluorocarbons that it did what any government critic might expect it to do – it screwed over the patients in the name of clean air, requiring producers to eliminate the gas from their inhalers, thereby increasing the price for asthma medicine.

While one might see their ruling as a victory for the environment, the day-to-day effect was something perhaps even the FDA didn’t imagine:  It removed an over the counter inhaler, Primatene Mist, along with other generic inhalers, which were cheaper than brand name medicines.

In other words, the only accomplishment the FDA brought about was a lesson in real life economics – eliminate the competition and prices rise.

How did this happen?  Easy.  Armstrong Pharmaceuticals, owner of Primatene Mist, and other generic producers didn’t have the financial resources to change their inhalers. 

As The Times reported:

“’The high prices in the United States are because the FDA has set the bar so high there is no clear pathway for generics,’ said Lisa Urquhart of EvaluatePharma, a consulting firm based in London that provides drug and biotech analysis.  ‘I’m sure the brands (the brand name producers of asthma medicine) are thrilled.’”

In Europe – an example Democrats love to point to when talking up health care – drug regulators are more concerned about patients than air so governments on that progressive continent continue to buy generic inhalers and, in some cases, even give them away.

But a family in Oakland, Calif., with two asthmatic daughters, 13 and 10 years old, is paying, before insurance reduces some of the cost, $175 for each inhaler every month. 

Prior to the FDA’s decision to save the environment, this same inhaler cost about $15, The Times reported.

Now the FDA wants to take away all artificial trans fats, oils used to make frozen pizza, coffee creamers, frosting and packaged cookies.  As the Los Angeles Times reported, an artificial trans fat – the consumption of which increases the chances of a heart attack – is produced by adding hydrogen to liquid oil, which turns it into a solid for making margarine or even Crisco.

What’s the next thing the FDA will eliminate from your diet?  French fries?  Hamburgers?  The pizza you enjoy on a Friday or Saturday night at your favorite restaurant?  Coke?  Wine?  Beer?  

It might seem like pure fantasy now, but will it stay that way?  And what will be the unintended consequence – the one the FDA never imagined as it worked to save you from yourself?

Many Americans might be upset with the FDA’s ruling on trans fats, but should anyone be surprised? 

With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the government is armed with every mandate it needs to save Americans. 

It’s not a huge stretch of the imagination to envision an insurance executive testifying before Congress that hamburgers need to be eliminated from the U.S. diet because, as the latest studies from the Centers for Disease Control show, only about 20 percent of all adults exercise regularly, meaning hamburgers, like trans fats, become a safety issue.

You need not be taking any needless risks.  The government is here to protect you.


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Web Experts: New Social Website to Outpace Twitter

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – With the Silicon Valley’s eyes focused on Twitter’s initial public offering on Wednesday – expected to put the company’s market capitalization between $14 and $18 billion – another new comer to the social media space will also debut its stock this week, possibly surpassing the microblogger’s value.

In spite of having less than a quarter of Twitter’s users, about $100 million less in annual revenue than the microblogger, and having yet to show a profit, Silicon Valley venture capitalists and Greenwich, Conn., hedge fund managers see a robust future for (Ticker: FUKU).

“Hate can be perpetual and now there’s an ad play for that,” said Diane Smartskey, managing director at venture fund Market Stretch in Menlo Park, Calif. “Besides, it’s easy to understand.”

“Nobody like really likes anyone,” said Joseph Lindler, managing director of OPM in Greenwich, Conn.  “I hate being friends on Facebook – as well as LinkedIn.” shows promise as the Valley’s next hot stock when it starts trading on NASDAQ on Friday, with a valuation, some experts say, reaching $20 billion.

Initially the website had offered shares at $40.  But as the frenzy over the website’s potential increased, the per share price jumped, at first, to $45 and, then, later, to $60, optimism for the website’s future grew.

“This thing could easily have a market capitalization of $20 billion by Friday afternoon,” said Smartskey.

“The best thing they have on their website is the ‘b.s.’ button,” she said.  “It allows users an opportunity to tell people what they think of their posts and, if you’re really angry, there’s even one with the letters “f.y.”

Hate groups, like the Ku Klux Klan and the Black Muslims, are sponsoring these buttons so every time a user clicks on them, a message from the group pops up on their screen – and gathers all their personal information so they can be added to their mail lists or be targeted for a cross burning.

Other major advertisers include the National Rifle Association, Planned Parenthood, divorce attorneys, political parties as well as therapists offering services to help people overcome their hate. has become the place where people, of all stripes, tell others what they really think of them – out in the open for everyone to see.

“Right after John Kerry was sworn in as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton became a user,” said Bonnie McMurtey, a San Francisco-based Internet industry observer.  “President Obama was first on her shit list, so you can see where this thing’s going.”

“We’ve got Democrats hating Democrats, Republicans hating Republicans, Republicans hating Democrats, Democrats hating Republicans – and Tea Party people hating everyone, including one another,” said the website’s 28-year-old CEO, Joe Lee. 

“Vladimir Putin hates Obama; Obama hates German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who’s also hated by Putin, as well as by most of Greece; and the Syrian president – what the fuck’s his name? – hating Obama,” he added.

It’s a great place for divorced couples, too.

“People drop friends, husbands, wives and lovers – sometimes even their siblings and their children – on Facebook and professional colleagues on LinkedIn and then use those names to build out their shit list on FuckyouIhateyou,” said Alliance Capital Managing Director Marvin Stumps in an earlier interview, before the website announced it would go public.

Alliance Capital, also based in Menlo Park, was an early stage investor in and stands to make billions when the stock starts trading.

Hate groups are forming on the website, too, says McMurtey.

“The Starbucks one hates the Dunkin’ Donuts one,” she said.  “Just like McDonald’s customers can’t stand Burger King people.”

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffet also uses the website.

“He hates the website but loves our financial performance,” Stumps said.

The site has an international version, too, for Afghanistan.

“This is a wonderful place for,” said McMurtey.  “There are whole families hating other whole families – for centuries! – which only increases its user list and its ad dollars from various international arms dealers.”

Friday, November 01, 2013

Obamacare and the new drug policy

WASHINGTON – As the Obama Administration recoils over its inability to launch its health insurance website on time, White House spokesman Jay Carney, on Friday, announced the government’s new drug policy, called “No Secrets.”

The government, he said, reached an agreement late Thursday night with some of the country’s leading social media websites and the world’s largest search engine, Google, which, he says, “ensures Americans will have full access to their prescription drugs.”

Under the new policy, which will become effective January 1, 2014, pharmaceutical companies will “friend” their patients on Facebook. 

“No one will be allowed to reject these ‘friend’ requests because, with the government’s approval, Facebook will build a profile of the drugs each of their users are taking – under a doctor’s guidance, of course,” Carney said.

It’s expected, Carney said, Facebook will make everyone’s drug profile searchable – both in and out of the social media website.

“Think about it about this way – not only do your friends want to be friends with you on Facebook but so do your drugs,” said Mark Zuckerberg, the website’s chief executive officer, in a prepared statement.

“The next time you’re at the pharmacy, and you’ve forgotten what pills you’re taking, Facebook will be there to help,” Zuckerberg said.  “Either you call up your drug profile on Facebook, using your smartphone, or your pharmacist does on their desktop computer.

“Either way, you’re covered,” he added.

LinkedIn, a leading website for working professionals, is also part of this new policy, Carney said, because they’ll add a section to each users profile, detailing the drugs they’re taking, the amount and how often they’re required to consume them.

As with Facebook, this section of each drug profile will be made fully available for anyone to see – in and out of the website.

“Users of Viagra, Cialis and antidepressants – whatever people are taking – will be able to joke with one another about their experiences on these drugs and hire one another, too, maybe even become friends,” Carney said.

Google will take the information assembled by Facebook and LinkedIn and create searchable profiles, detailing the medicine each patient is taking, he said.

“As of now, we don’t think this new policy require anything extra, like search engine optimization,” Carney said.  “Regular algorithms should work.”