Speaking of Jerks We’ve Elected….

Todd Rokita.

I knew Rokita was a partisan hack when he introduced Indiana’s Voter ID law, which he sanctimoniously declared was a “good government” measure intended to stop all that nasty in-person “voter fraud” that doesn’t really happen, rather than an effort to prevent “those people” from voting. But in a year when his party’s Presidential ticket is composed of a megalomaniac and a Christian Warrior, I’d sort of forgotten about him.

Last week, however, Rokita had a column in the Indianapolis Business Journal that reminded me why he shouldn’t be in public office.

Rokita was on a rant against the federal Department of Education for its “assault on profit-making.” Translation: how dare the department move against ITT. It hasn’t taken similar action against public institutions! (Rockita also threw in a snide criticism of the IBJ’s editorial board, which had blamed the federal action on ITT’s management.)

Boiled down to its disingenuous basics, Rokita’s argument was that the federal government, motivated solely by liberal animosity to for-profit ventures–had overstepped its authority.

Missing from his diatribe were those pesky little things called “facts.” For years, ITT overcharged students for a shoddy product (its credits wouldn’t even transfer to most other institutions).It enrolled students without regard for their ability to benefit from higher education, because We the Taxpayers were paying the very hefty freight.

State and federal agencies have been investigating ITT since 2002, and it  currently faces fraud charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and a lawsuit from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It has been under investigation by at least 19 state attorneys general.

When U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. issued the Department’s decision to impose increased sanctions upon ITT, he emphasized that the move was not made lightly.

“Ultimately, we made a difficult choice to pursue additional oversight in order to protect you, other students, and taxpayers from potentially worse educational and financial damage in the future if ITT was allowed to continue operating without increased oversight and assurances to better serve students,” King wrote.

ITT was one of several for-profit “educational” endeavors ripping off both taxpayers and the students who left with substandard educations and huge loans to repay. Legitimate institutions of higher education, public and private, have been calling for more oversight of for-profit colleges for a long time.

To label this overdue regulatory action “liberal overreach” is (pardon my language) bullshit.

I can only assume that ITT or its shareholders are among Todd Rokita’s donors. Or his relatives. Or something. The only other explanation for so dishonest a column is abject ignorance.

I am grateful for one thing, though. The column reminded me why I have no use for Todd Rokita.

31 thoughts on “Speaking of Jerks We’ve Elected….

  1. We really need a strong second or third political party. Shoot I’d settle for one that actually is free of corruption. This capitalism crap is going to destroy the whole world but I’ll probably be long gone before that happens. I feel really bad for those students that have huge debt from these for-profit schools and the DOJ should see to it that all of their loans are forgiven. But ya know, I’m just a dreamer.

  2. These is nothing quite so dangerous as abject ignorance coupled with boundless greed.

  3. AgingLGrl,

    “This capitalism crap is going to destroy the whole world but I’ll probably be long gone before that happens.”

    Cheer up! You’re fortunate. Donald Trump and his Republican Party followers are destroying the world right now, not later. Trust me. You’re not going to miss anything.

  4. I chose not to renew my subscription to IBJ several months ago because I felt they tended to be too politically conservative with their “informative” articles. Shame on IBJ for allowing Rokita to pen such an article without asking Gregg to provide his viewpoint. They should not be publishing such BS from a political candidate. Maybe some of their readers will be disgusted by it and be swayed to vote against him in November.

  5. The only reason he holds his seat is because it’s made of the “empty counties” which, of course, vote R even if it costs them big bucks.

  6. I suppose I am one of the last to believe that a “managed” capitalism can work. Trouble is, those in charge of “managing” the system are political persona, not some invisible hand trumpeted by Smith in his world of perfect competition and ethical actors. Things have become more complicated since Smith’s Wealth of Nations printed in 1776. Indeed, Joseph E. Stiglitz (born and raised in Gary) has won a Nobel Prize for his work on asymmetry of information among such actors and, of course, corporations have taken over the political process that could otherwise be used to regulate their excesses. Net result? Monopoly pricing has destroyed the illusion of perfect competition and ethics among such corporate actors is rare. What to do? Pass laws and adopt stern regulations that look to the public interest as well as corporate bottom lines. Chances for such statutory and regulatory reform in the present political atmosphere? Slim to none. Result? Total corporate control of America and its people by the rich and corporate class – my greatest fear. Final result? Either a failed state or some form of socialistic mayhem in which private enterprise is virtually outlawed, since unregulated and unrestrained capitalistic practices will have proven to be self-destructive. It doesn’t have to be that way, since reasonable regulations and adoption of a system of corporate governance could serve as a platform to bring back a modicum of ethics and competition to the marketplace, but given the present trajectory of corporate control with its capture of the political class one cannot be optimistic. As usual, we need new and more enlightened (and less greedy) members of the political class to represent all of the actors necessarily involved in this economy. Generally speaking, and in the real world, that means electing more Democrats and fewer Republicans and Libertarians, so let’s do it.

  7. As a young idiot, I enrolled in ITT to learn the ways of hospitality management. Let me share that I received an inexplicably large check in the mail in my early twenties, a few years after dropping out of the program after one term. It was a refund. I was a lucky winner as a result of a class action lawsuit against ITT for fraud relating to promises about job placement. It was not a small check, and it arrived with no explanation. That made up for the complete waste of time those classes were.

    That school was an absolute scam, and I was just the country bumpkin they were targeting. At least I got to live in Orlando for a few months. That was transformative for a pig farming, 18 year old boy from rural Indiana.

    Rokita surely must not care about his fellow Hoosiers who are getting screwed, or he’d be glad for this action. How much a politician profit in order to throw his constituency to the wolves in order to support poorly run, unethical businesses?

  8. This is the same guy who, while Indiana Secretary of State, penned an op-ed saying the federal government had no business helping the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I’m not sure if he thinks there’s anything the federal government should be doing (other than cutting his paycheck and managing his pension, providing his health insurance, etc.).

  9. Nancy; regarding your 8:15 comment, this entire election has all thinking Americans in a constant state of confusion, anger and often fear and helplessness. As Marv responded to AgingLGrl, “Cheer up! You’re fortunate. Donald Trump and his Republican Party followers are destroying the world right now, not later. Trust me. You’re not going to miss anything.”

    Sorry Marv, I don’t agree with your “Cheer up” comment, even tongue-in-cheek. As I said recently, this election has caused me to lose my sense of humor…also lost any sense of hope, trust, security and for any positive outcome of this election. Maybe it is those SIX Trump yard signs I see from my front door.

    Nancy; about the IBJ article, isn’t the media required to provide equal time and space for all political candidate’s views? Or does that only apply to air time? Or is that only for Republicans in the state of Indiana? Hard to keep the players straight with no scorecard.

  10. Gerald,

    “I suppose I am one of the last to believe that a “managed” capitalism can work. Trouble is, those in charge of “managing” the system are political persona, not some invisible hand trumpeted by Smith in his world of perfect competition and ethical actors.”

    You are probably one of the last. Keep it up. However, your biggest problem is that there is a strong tendency with capitalism under stress to move toward FASCISM. That’s the “invisible” reality we’ve been facing in the U.S. for a long, long time.

  11. JoAnn,

    “Sorry Marv, I don’t agree with your “Cheer up” comment, even tongue-in-cheek.”

    I apologize. I understand your feelings, but I’m still optimistic. To paraphrase an old saying: “You can fool the people some of the time, but not all the time.” Not all the Republicans are fools.
    Generally speaking, they probably have more to lose [$$$]in this fiasco than anyone.

  12. fi-as-co (fe as’ ko) n., pl. -coes or -cos [Fr. <It] a complete, ridiculous FAILURE. That's what millions of Americans are supporting when they align themselves with Donald Trump. But like Nazi Germany, some people never learn.

  13. fa-tal(fat’l) adj. 1. fateful; decisive 2. resulting in death 3. destructive; disastrous–fa’tal-ly adv.

    The sinister minds within the Republican Party have made a FATAL mistake. They violated the fundamental rule in GAME THEORY. Once you lose, you must change your strategy. In their extreme arrogance, they thought they could get away with violating this rule. In some cases, that’s possible, but not in this one.

  14. While there seems to be growing evidence that the human race is getting exponentially dumber, that seems unlikely to me. It’s seems more likely that we suffer from a combination of particularly nasty transitions that our times require.

    One is that the explosion of our collective knowledge while only making slow progress in individual knowledge means that we are all becoming narrower in our expertise, more specialized. I for instance go to a retina specialist to whom I’m nothing but a pair of dime sized, tissue thin, bundles of nerves. Of course I do owe him and his bevy of technicians and huge collection of exotic instruments my sight for which I will not be eternally greatful but appreciatingly so until I no longer need them.

    In addition we have pretty much all the truth and all the lies of mankind on our ubiquitous phones.

    While we are getting used to this new reality we have discovered the wonders of confirmation bias. We can seem smarter and more informed to others. Heck, I can even be Mathew McConaughey for the price of a Lincoln.

    In other words while collaboration would allow us to take advantage of what times have wrought we fall back to cowboy mode because it’s more comfortable.

    So regressives like the subject today can confirm that they have been right despite their wrongness and government is a conspiracy and business is next to godliness.

    Our hope is that over time we will figure the source of our dysfunction out and culturally evolve away from it. Unfortunately while we’re evolving we continue to dig our own collective grave so we are racing with us and there will be a winner and a loser.

  15. Sheila said > I can only assume that ITT or its shareholders are among Todd Rokita’s donors. Or his relatives. Or something. The only other explanation for so dishonest a column is abject ignorance.

    The “something” is the belief by the extreme conservatives that Capitalism without restraints is a desired goal. Thus, anything that impedes profit must be eliminated. Clean air, clean water, safe food, worker rights, and human rights rules and regulations impedes profit and are categorized as “onerous” regulations. The water crisis in Flint Michigan is a good example of profits before people.

    The political expression of extreme capitalism is Corporatism, and as it is sometimes known as Fascism. Here in the USA Corporatism finds as it’s vehicle of transportation into politics – Campaign Contributions.

    The Republicans have been like a matador waving the flag of anti-regulation and watching their base charge forward into the sword. The Republican Base has no knowledge, or it seems cares to know, that for roughly 150 years from the dawn of industrialization to the 1970’s, capitalism reigned supreme in their abilities to poison the water and air. The poisoned Flint River is the manifestation of this.

  16. Lifting Pete’s final words, “…there will be a winner and a loser”, and whenever I consider education as a commodity, I always think first of the losers, the naive students who fall prey to silver-tongued hustlers who work on commissions. The only winners in the for-profit education industry are the owners and those on the Boards of Directors.

    Trump University, now defunct I hope, comes to mind immediately along with the University of Phoenix and Walden University, both Online colleges that grant questionable degrees. Seriously, how can one earn an RN degree or a Bachelor’s degree in education with no sustained interaction with patients or with students in a classroom environment?

    Fortunately, in 2010, the Obama administration began a serious clampdown on for-profit higher education schools / businesses which included ITT. But, the really shrewd hustlers in the education industry have moved off-shore, global to be more precise as in Laureate Education, the global giant in for-profit education.

    Using all the marketing tools available to big business, Laureate has bolstered its image with the help of former political leaders such as Condoleezza Rice, Al Gore and Tony Blair, who have made celebrity appearances at Laureate schools. Laureate’s major celebrity coup was in its hiring of former President Clinton as the Honorary Chancellor where he was paid $16.5M from 2010-2014. (Source: Inside High Ed, 8/3/2015)

    Laureate has installed several people from former President Clinton’s administration in key executive and board positions, including Richard Riley, the former secretary of education; Joseph Duffey, the former head of the U.S. Information Agency; and Henry Cisneros, who served as Clinton’s secretary of housing and urban development.

    The Washington Post outlines the growth of Laureate Education in the attached article.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/laureate-a-for-profit-education-firm-finds-international-success-with-a-clintons-help/2014/01/16/13f8adde-7ca6-11e3-9556-4a4bf7bcbd84_story.html

  17. I live in Springfield IL, and Illinois’ own political woes have been well-documented. I wish I had a dollar for everyone here who threatens to move elsewhere (or actually has) because of our politics. More often than not, it seems the end up some place like Texas or Florida. Yeah, there’s The Promised Land! Another state that keeps coming up in such conversations is Indiana. But based on what I know about Indiana’s politics (some of it thanks to Sheila), I’ll take my chances with Illinois. Sheila’s blog today offers yet another example why.

  18. BSH,

    “The Washington Post outlines the growth of Laureate Education in the attached article.”

    I’m angry with you. You spoiled my lunch. I’m feeling sick.

  19. Jo Ann:
    The so called “Equal Time” rule, requires FCC licensed TV and radio stations, not the print or internet media, to give equal time to candidates for public office. Thus, if a TV station gives President Candidate “A” 5 minutes in prime time to espouse his/her views, a TV or radio station has to give any other candidate for that office an equal 5 minutes in prime time. But the “Equal Time” rule has never been applied to “news” programs, and what constitutes a “news” show is broadly interpreted.

    A good example is that during the Republican primary race, Trump hosted NBC’s Saturday Night Live show resulting in NBC being forced to have to allow the other Republican candidates at the time to get an equal amount of (free) time on NBC, but that was only because the FCC considers SNL to be an entertainment show, not a “news” program.

    So in this day and age, the “Equal Time” rule is virtually meaningless as demonstrated by Trump’s having successfully used TV broadcast and cable “news” programs to give him free coverage virtually 24/7, 365 since he entered the Republican primary race.

    There also used to be the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine” that required TV and radio stations to not only present information on matters of public interest, but to also present contrasting or opposing views on them. The FCC eliminated the “Fairness Doctrine” entirely in 1987.

    The bottom line is that neither rule ever applied to print media. Hence the Indianapolis Star’s years of blatantly promoting the conservative and Republican agendas and candidates throughout the time Eugene Pulliam and his family owned and controlled the Star and (the now defunct) Indianapolis News papers. If you wanted to read about the Democratic viewpoint, you had to read the Indianapolis Times, at least until it folded.

  20. Mr. Rokita possesses an intellect such that upon learning most auto accidents occur within 25 miles of home, he would be apt to want to move…

  21. BSH,

    I never heard of Laureate before now. How has that not made the news?

    Anyway, I must agree with Marv……you brought something to light that is cause for concern about the Clintons……..extreme concern. Very disappointed to read about this. Couldn’t you have let us live in our little bubble until after the election?

  22. David F; thank you for the useful information. I am well aware of the “news” broadcast time element – so is Trump – that is why and how he is always “up to something newsworthy”; thus, amassing much more air time than anyone or anything else – including actual news. “Even bad publicity is better than no publicity.”

  23. BSH. Things to consider.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laureate_International_Universities

    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2010-04-26/business/bs-bz-laureate-bill-clinton-20100426_1_laureate-education-laureate-international-universities-higher-education

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026575212

    https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2016/06/23/fact-checking-trump-assertion-clinton-profit-ties

    My conclusion from all of that?

    Laureate University (really Sylvan Educational Systems) is a pretty shady operation from the standpoint of profiting from education mostly outside the US.

    Bill Clinton was an Honorary Trustee for some number of years.

    He dropped that at the beginning of Hillary’s campaign for office.

    He and/or the Clinton Foundation were compensated. Laureate benefitted mostly from his name.

    There are many rumors launched by the RNC and the Trump campaign mostly along the lines of Trump University not being the only bad university, a dubious defense.

  24. Nancy,

    “I never heard of Laureate before now. How has that not made the news?”

    In August 2016, NBC news aired a rather thorough investigative report of former President Clinton’s association with the for-profit education industry, specifically Laureate Education which includes the US-based Walden University, an Online college. The NBC story is at the below link.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/hillary-blasts-profit-colleges-bill-took-millions-one-n636786

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