Sunday, April 5, 2020

When Trump asks, 'What have you got to lose?'


Trump in Michigan to African-American voters in 2016: "Vote for me. What the hell have you got to lose?" 
“What do you have to lose? Take it,” says Trump.. Try it, if you’d like.” -- 
D.T. at yesterday's press conference.
These days he's singing that same tune to coronavirus patients. Can you believe it? He's become a pitchman for an untested, unapproved drug, hydroxychloroquine to fearful victims and their families, by telling them they "have nothing to lose." Even drugs fully tested and approved by the FDA are required to warn users of any dangerous side effects.

With no proven treatment for the coronavirus, many doctors and hospitals in the United States have already been giving hydroxychloroquine to patients, reasoning that it might help and probably will not hurt because it appears to be relatively safe. But that all remains to be seen. We already know that it's not considered safe for people with abnormal heart rhythms and could lead to a stroke.

It's not that doctors shouldn't consider its use in a desperate or life-saving situation or that hydroxychloroquine is snake oilGov. Andrew Cuomo last month said healthcare providers in the state would be using the drug in combination with the antibiotic Zithromax, or azithromycin, for some last-ditch cases, based on potentially promising research here and in other countries.

Rather it's this obscene situation where the president of the United States, a proven liar and grifter, is serving as a medicine show pitchman for the big pharmaceutical companies like Bayer. 

He has ordered the government to purchase millions of doses of the malaria drug and put them into an emergency stockpile even though it has not been approved for COVID-19 treatment. The artificially created demand for hydroxychloroquine as an anti-corona drug is making it more difficult for rheumatoid arthritis, malaria, and lupus patients, whose survival depends on hydroxychloroquine, to get the drug. 
 “They should look at the lupus thing. I don’t know what it says, but there’s a rumor out there that because it takes care of lupus very effectively as I understand it, and it’s a, you know, a drug that’s used for lupus. So there’s a study out there that says people that have lupus haven’t been catching this virus. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not.” -- D.T.
NIAID Director Anthony Fauci says there's no meaningful evidence to date on hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19. Any evidence so far is "anecdotal." At yesterday's press conference, Trump blocked him from speaking about the efficacy of the drug. 

"Nothing to lose"? Remember, that was the same line he pedaled to black voters in 2016. He ended up with only 8% of the black vote.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Biden sightings

Biden campaign has a new podcast. Is that it?
With only 7 months to go in the campaign, it's not so much that Joe Biden has disappeared into a shell. It's that the DNC has chosen not to directly take on Donald Trump. That task has been entirely left up to governors and mayors in states and cities hit hardest by the coronavirus and the accompanying failure of federal support.

The daily press conferences held by IL Gov. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lightfoot, have been hard-hitting and effective and offer a model to Democratic Party leaders on how to mobilize public support in these difficult times for organizers and campaigners.

Yesterday's was the best, with Lightfoot delivering a strong kick in the butt to Jared Kushner after he stunned state and city leaders with his comment that "the federal stockpile (of medical equipment) was it’s supposed to be our stockpile... not supposed to be the states’ stockpiles that they then use.”


There have been a few Biden sightings in the past week. One in particular caught my eye. It was reported in yesterday's Military Times where Biden was quoted as being critical of the Pentagon's decision to fire Capt. Brett Crozier, the heroic commander of the nuclear aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt who first warned about the spread of COVID on his ship.
“Navy leadership sent a chilling message about speaking truth to power,” Biden tweeted Friday. “The poor judgment here belongs to the Trump administration, not a courageous officer trying to protect his sailors.”
Good for you Joe.

But there was the paragraph further down in the article that caused my stomach to turn.
Biden has suspended most campaigning since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in America last month, but has said in recent days he will speak with Trump about the federal response to the pandemic.
Speak with Trump? Biden and the Democrats had better un-suspend the campaign. start speaking directly to voters (especially in battleground states) and move into attack mode, especially over the issues of how the Republicans are (or aren't) responding to the COVID crisis. Thousands, and possibly millions of lives hang in the balance.

Trump continues his domination of the media as expected. But the Biden camp has at least begun to stir with the launching of a new 2020 campaign podcast. That all well and good. But if that's all they've got, we're likely in for a repeat of 2016.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Like a bad penny, Vallas turns up again in Chicago.

Bad penny.

Paul Vallas is like that proverbial bad penny. He always turns up, uninvited. When he does, he's usually part of the problem rather than the solution.

The bad penny turned up again this week in Chicago in the midst of the city's battle with COVID to offer us his unsolicited budgeting advice in a Tribune op-ed. Vallas decided to take a public backhanded swipe at Mayor Lightfoot's management of the city's crisis budget (she's "disingenuous") and offer advice on how best to put the city on a "wartime financial plan."

As if he had a clue.

In the year since her election, and especially during this, the worst crisis to befall our city since the Great Fire, the mayor has gained high marks and become Chicago's acknowledged and highly regarded leader while Vallas has sunk into political obscurity.

This from the mayor:
“Unfortunately, some people are desperate to be relevant,” Lightfoot said. “The suggestion that somehow our city budget is in tatters, as Mr. Vallas dramatically suggests, it's just foolish.”
When I say, the bad penny turned up again, I mean, it seems like I've written this "we thought we were done with Vallas" post several times before.

After all, he ran against Lightfoot for mayor on these ideas a year ago and the voters heard them loud and clear. He placed ninth out of fourteen candidates, receiving 5.43% of the votes cast. He also ran for mayor against Rahm Emanuel and was crushed. He ran for Lieutenant Governor of Illinois in 2014 with then-incumbent Governor Pat Quinn and was soundly beaten, leading to the election of Bruce Rauner and Evelyn Sanguinetti (who???)

Vallas has left a trail of tears from teachers and parents in his wake as he's moved as the corporate reformers' hired gun from Chicago, to Philly, to New Orleans and Bridgeport (with stops in Haiti and Chile), privatizing school districts and busting unions.

Remember, this is also the guy who left Philly's school budget in absolute shambles. It was there that he hooked up with Barbara Byrd-Bennett's criminal conspirators Gary Solomon and Tom Vranas to form their illicit Synesi consulting group, the group behind the SUPES scandal. How he escaped going to prison with them is still a mystery to me. Why anyone would solicit or accept his advice, especially under current conditions is another one.

Up until this point, no one has as far as I can tell.

Monday, March 30, 2020

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

Migrant workers in India wait to board buses following government mass evacuation order. 
Donald J. Trump
Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, the US president claimed that, if his administration keeps the death toll to 100,000, it will have done “a very good job” --Guardian
 Nancy Pelosi
"His denial at the beginning was deadly." -- CNN
 U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres
 "The spread of COVID-19 is measured in a matter of a single day — not weeks, months, or years — and Respondents appear to ignore this condition of confinement that will likely cause imminent, life-threatening illness." -- Judge orders release of ICE detainees
Amanda Klonsky
An outbreak in a jail or prison will be a death sentence for many thousands of people. And so we're asking our state and local governments, the federal government, the Trump administration, to take this threat seriously, to release as many people as possible. It's the only way that we can reduce the number of deaths. -- PBS News Hour
Fareed Zakaria
“The United States is on track to have the worst outbreak of coronavirus among wealthy countries. This is the new face of American exceptionalism." -- CNN
David Gilbert, incarcerated '60s activist  
Most crucially, the policies we are living under will be most effective when we have a say in shaping them. Allowing prisoners an active role in creating a safer environment will protect lives both inside and out. -- Letter to New York Times

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Trump's crashing. Govs leading. Where's Biden?


According to today's Washington Post-ABC poll, Trump and Biden are running neck-and-neck. One can only wonder how big a lead Biden would have if he was running as serious a campaign against DT as he is against Bernie Sanders and the party's left-wing? Since capturing the lead against Sanders in recent primaries, Biden has retreated to the sidelines as President Trump has stolen the spotlight with daily coronavirus briefings. 

But now, Trump's numbers are crashing over his handling of the coronavirus. His approval ratings have plunged a net 13 points in less than a week. At this hour of crisis, with an anxious public desperately looking for leadership, the grifter president is proving once again to be a divisive and dismal failure. Now seems like the time for Dems to take the offensive.

Latest polls also indicate:
Near-universal support for social distancing. People want it to continue as long as public health experts say it's necessary. Republicans are already trying to walk back Trump's asinine calls for "reopening the economy" by Easter and quarantining individual states. They say, "he was just thinking out loud."
Also, state and local government leaders are more trusted on the pandemic response than Trump and the federal government. 
The problem for Democrats is that governors, sure winners if they were running, like Cuomo and Newsom (and I would add Pritzker), aren't in the race. Joe Biden is.

But where is Biden? According to Jon Levine in the NY Post, Biden has been turned into
"a virtual prisoner of his Delaware home, where he’s reduced to sniping at President Trump from the family rec room."
“He’s making himself irrelevant,” Saikat Chakrabarti, a former chief of staff to Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, told The Post, saying the virtual broadcasts were not helping. “We need action immediately, and Biden can’t do anything real right now.”
Biden and the party leadership seem lost and ambivalent about taking on Trump. Anita Dunn, a top Biden advisor tells Politico, “Everything that's happening right now is like nothing I've experienced in previous presidential campaigns."
“Biden has a thin line,” an outside adviser said. “As much as I dislike Trump and think what a bad job he’s doing, there’s a danger now that attacking him can backfire on you if you get too far out there. I don’t think the public wants to hear criticism of Trump right now.”
The adviser doesn't tell us how Democrats are supposed to win a close presidential election without criticizing Trump. The fact is, it just won't happen. Maybe it's time for some new advisers.

Now,  possibly reacting to pressure to wage a more aggressive campaign, even in these difficult times, the party centrists have let Biden out of his bunker for some national face time.

At last, there was a Biden sighting on Meet The Press this morning.

Biden had some mild criticism of Trump's tardiness in confronting the virus. Better than nothing, I suppose.

But then a jaw-dropper. In response to Chuck Todd's question about whether or not he would continue sanctions against Iran, Biden went all Trump on us, claiming he didn't have enough info to answer the question and then implying he would keep sanctions alive since the Iranians were likely "lying" about their numbers of dead COVID victims.

I know we have to support Biden against Trump. But at times like this, you have to wonder if the Dems really want to win and if they're really going to offer progressives and young people a real choice, rather than a fading echo?

Saturday, March 21, 2020

New tactics called for in these difficult times

Homeless families threatened by coronavirus occupy vacant houses in southern California. 
"This is our moment to prove ourselves and a nation that, in Chicago, we may get bent, but we will never be broken." -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Brother Fred and I should be back on the air with Hitting Left by March 27th. Of course, we'll be doing the show from our respective homes so long as this sheltering-in-place (or as I call it, house arrest) remains in effect.

I understand, support, and am complying with the extreme measures called for here in Chicago by Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot, necessary for containing COVID-19. But I worry about the unintended consequences and what the new, rapidly-changing conditions mean for us activists and organizers. The victories by Democratic Party centrist Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders in the primaries have progressives looking at new organizing and electoral tactics.

The collapse of the global economy could be catastrophic and will likely cause the death of nearly as many people as the virus itself, especially among the most vulnerable populations throughout the world and people currently incarcerated here in our jails, prisons, and immigrant detention facilities.

These consequences are exacerbated by the Trump gang's misleadership, political opportunism, racism, and propensity towards profiteering from the crisis. In January, millionaire Republican Senators Burr & Loeffler were given a briefing by Trump officials about the COVID threat. Then, as Trump was downplaying the risks, they dumped their stocks before the catastrophic market crash. And they weren't the only ones taking advantage of insider trading.

While some form of bailout may be necessary, it should be targetted at helping those most in need with controls in place on how that money is spent. One of the reasons industries are so short on cash right now is that they have spent billions in past bailout money, buying back their own stocks instead of investing in their workers or preparing for difficult times like these.

I'm also worried about Trump using the crisis as an excuse to suspend democratic rights, grab more power for himself, launch a war against Iran or other perceived enemies, and even canceling the November elections if it looks bad for him and the Republicans.

Some good news coming out of China where Wuhan officials have reported three straight days with no new COVID cases. Whether you believe these reports or not, it's clear that in China and South Korea, the virus now seems under control. Businesses are reopening, including American-owned companies like Apple stores. Apple just reopened 42 of them in China, while at the same time, closing all of its stores in the U.S. and Italy.

Trump and the Republicans, on the other hand (joined at times by leading Democrats), are continuing their anti-China polemics, even referring to COVID as the "China Virus." When asked to explain, Trump said, it was because the virus "originated in China." His explanation had some on Twitter referring to him as Buick Skylark and Motel 6.

Yes, humor, even dark humor, will help us survive all this.

But while Cold War and racist, anti-foreigner politics rule the WH, China and other countries continue to make progress against the disease. Chinese and Cuban doctors have been in Iran, Italy, and Venezuela recently, where they have offered their services and expertise. They have reportedly developed medical treatments that lower the fatality and suffering rates for those afflicted with COVID19, and are distributing them – without any patent or profit – to those in need. Iran and Venezuela are countries to whom the IMF has refused to offer loans under pressure from U.S.-imposed sanctions.

In Iran alone, the COVID death toll could rise to 3.5 million. But the U.S. has announced that it will be expanding its inhuman sanctions anyway.

Now, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox is calling Trump’s early handling of COVID-19 is "the most irresponsible act of an elected official that I've ever witnessed in my lifetime.”

Among the other unintended consequences...Hundreds of American troops are being withdrawn from Iraq in part over the coronavirus. And mother Earth is getting a breather from air pollution demonstrating the importance of and what's possible with a Green New Deal.

More good news... People here are creatively developing new ways to resist, carrying on political campaigns and where necessary, using Occupy tactics and other forms of direct action to support the homeless.

These new tactics for organizing, including a review of the March 18th NY Times piece by Astead Herndon, Progressive Ideas Remain Popular. Progressive Presidential Candidates Are Losing. Why?" will be food for our discussion on our upcoming Hitting Left shows.

Tune in on Fridays at 11a.m. CDT at WLPN 105.5 FM in Chicago or on livestream at lumpenradio.com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Two big election wins

Another bad day for Madigan and the machine. Big wins for Kim Foxx and Marie Newman.
People are crazy and times are strangeI'm locked in tight, I'm out of range -- Bob Dylan, (Things have changed)
After nearly two weeks in COVID lockdown, I needed an emotional lift last night and I got one. In fact, two. The IL primary wins by Kim Foxx and Marie Newman had me grinning like a pothead last night while pedaling my damn stationary bike and watching the results come in.

Yes, Bernie Sanders did get trounced by 30 points as expected. Plus a couple of other local down-ticket progressives were knocked off. But the Foxx/Newman wins were big, big, big. Kim ran up the score on three great-white-hope opponents including billionaire's son Bill Conway who tried to ride the "bullshit" Jussie Smollett case to victory a la Bush and Willie Horton.

Both Foxx and Newman were backed by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot who also endorsed Biden.

The icing on the cake for me was watching Eddie Burke get beat in his own ward race for committeeman by freshman State Rep. Aaron Ortiz. 

As the song goes: It's hard out here for a pimp. 

Marie pulled an Ocasio-Cortez by narrowly defeating 8-term incumbent Dan Lipinski whose family has ruled the district for 38 years. Lipinski was backed by many old-guard Democrats, AFL-CIO leaders and party boss Michael Madigan.

She did it even while calling on Madigan to step down and backing Bernie Sanders.  Yes, that's right. The same 3rd-district voters who overwhelmingly chose Biden over Sanders chose progressive Newman over Lipinski.

Lipinski pitched himself as in line with the district’s voters and cast Newman as too extreme, citing her support for "Medicare for All" and the Green New Deal.

I shouldn't be surprised though. All over the country polls are showing voters who overwhelmingly support progressive issues like Medicare-for-all, voting for Biden because they think he can beat Trump.

Bernie lost big. But with nearly the city's entire black leadership endorsing Biden, and with the Chicago left, including the teachers union, badly divided and unable to turn out Sanders voters, he had no chance to stall the Biden momentum.

And now that it's clear that Bernie has no real pathway to the nomination, he and his team may decide to pack it in and actively work for Biden. Whether they do or not, Bernie will still have lots of influence at the convention. This mainly because Biden and the DNC know he can't win without support from the party's progressive base.

I say all this without a clue how or even if a real election campaign can be carried out under the conditions of COVID.  But I'll take victories when and where I can find them.

Monday, March 16, 2020

WEEKEND QUOTABLES


Yamiche Alcindor, PBS White House correspondent 
Why did you shut down the pandemic office in the White House?
Trump first calls it a "nasty question." Then says, "When you say me, I didn’t do it…. I don’t know anything about it...I don’t take responsibility at all.”  -- CNN
Sociologist Eric Klinenberg
We need social solidarity, not just social distancing. To combat the coronavirus, Americans need to do more than secure their own safety. --New York Times
Bernie Sanders
You got schools all over this country now being shut down. OK? How are we going to make sure that the kids do well in this crisis, not become traumatized? What do we do about the parents now who have to stay home with kids and can't go to work?
So I think what -- bottom line here is that, in this crisis, we have got to start paying attention to the most vulnerable. That includes people who are in prison right now, people who are in homeless shelters right now. What about the half-a-million people who are homeless tonight? Who's going to respond to them? -- Debate
Joe Biden 
“Across the country, middle and working-class families are being squeezed by debt. This is a massive problem and one that we need all of the best ideas to solve. That's why today, I'm adopting two plans from @BernieSanders and @ewarren to achieve this.” -- The Hill
 Amanda Klonsky
If you think a cruise ship is a dangerous place to be during a pandemic, consider America’s jails and prisons. -- New York Times
 Angelique Power, President of The Field Foundation
If our ancestors and our history have taught us anything, it’s that in the face of unimaginable struggle comes a symphony of superhuman connectivity and response. Our better selves rise and stretch across the chasm not because we have to, but because it is in fact what saves each of us—not only one by one—but collectively. -- Letter from the President

Saturday, March 14, 2020

In times like these...

Students at Chicago's Little Village Academy as CPS school ordered closed. 
"The system is not really geared to what we need right now. That is a failing. Let's admit it." -- Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
With virus and science deniers Trump/Pence misleading the war against COVID-19, it's become impossible for local governments to rely on the feds for leadership out of the crisis. The bumbling and total incompetence of the Trump regime along with years of GOP assaults on the very idea of government has left us with a system totally ill-prepared and in full chaos mode.

Currently, the number-one concern is the lack of tests available to even begin to identify potential coronavirus patients and deliver adequate healthcare.

As yesterday's guest on Hitting Left, State Sen. Robert Peters pointed out, with the breakdown of federal support, resource-starved states, cities and local municipalities are forced to try and fill the gap. Peters, who along with States Atty. Kim Foxx, is championing efforts to get rid of cash bail, is also concerned about the plight of vulnerable prisoners and staff in the state's jails and prisons as the pandemic grows. A large percentage of these prisoners are simply there awaiting trial.

An open letter from dozens of concerned local community groups to Cook County calling for immediate decarceration of Cook County jail, the largest of its kind in the U.S.

Curtis Black, in the Chicago Reporter, reports:
Gov. J.B. Pritzker should act quickly to review the cases of elderly and infirm inmates in jails and prisons and provide medical furloughs or compassionate release to “as many of them as possible” in order to prevent a devastating outbreak of coronavirus in the prison system, according to a letter initiated by a prison educators group and signed by over 1,500 educators and health professionals.
They point out that prisons “are known incubators and amplifiers of infectious disease.” According to other advocates arguing for immediate steps, an outbreak of coronavirus would “cripple an already broken [prison health] system” and result in deaths of elderly inmates, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus.
Gov. Pritzker did what he felt he had to do yesterday when he ordered all state and CPS schools temporarily closed sending 2.2 million school children home for at least the next two weeks. Mayor Lori Lightfoot had pushed as long as she could to keep schools open as centers for delivering needed meals, healthcare and safe havens for children and families. Lightfoot said she was deeply worried about students whose parents can’t take off work and those who are dependent on breakfast and lunch at the school. About 76% of students in Chicago Public Schools are low income.

At her own news conference following Pritzker’s announcement, Lightfoot said the governor needed to consider the entire state’s needs and not just those of Chicago Public Schools. Though she insisted she and Pritzker were in “lockstep."

The temporary school closings were done only after a belated advisory was issued from the CDC authorizing local districts to temporarily close their schools. Until now, the CDC had advised that schools stay open and issued a set of guidelines for their operation during the crisis.

Here in Chicago, the closings were demanded by the CTU.

The state will view these as “act of God” days, meaning school personnel are expected to be paid during the next two weeks. The governor also waived the requirement that schools be in session for 180 days to receive state funding, meaning no district will lose tax dollars as a result of cancellations.

A plan has apparently been put in place to deliver food and other supports to children and families who are normally served by in-school programs. But I imagine that many teachers are still torn about once again being separated from their kids during this crisis.

Now Pritzker should follow Ohio and Washington state's lead and suspend statewide standardized testing.

A salute goes out to the heroic Chicago librarians and park district workers who are trying to fill the gap while putting themselves at risk, keeping libraries and park programs up and running during the school shutdown.

Nationally, Senate Democrats are expressing concern over the negative effects that K-12 school closings could have on students and families and demanding answers from Trump's Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos.
"In K-12 schools, many families rely on the Federal School Lunch Program and may experience food insecurity if they can no longer access meals at school," they explained.
"Few school districts have experience providing wide-scale educational services online for all students, and not all families have access to home computers and high-speed internet to take advantage of such online options. Online learning cannot substitute for a number of services provided in the school setting, and it raises particular challenges to ensuring equity in access to education for all students," they added.
All this while the Fed is about to bail out Wall Street with weekly injections of $1.5 trillion (with a T), to try and revive a crashing stock market. The next time you hear a politician tell you that we can't afford healthcare for all or abolishing student loan debt, tell them to go f**k themself.




Monday, March 9, 2020

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

Women Pack Streets in Massive Int'l Women's Day Marches Across Latin America
New York Times editorial
Already, citizens who are underinsured or uninsured are being slammed with medical bills that they can’t afford when they seek testing and treatment for the virus. Unsurprisingly, experts say that many of them are bound to avoid such care as the outbreak rages on. -- ‘Health Care for Some’ Is a Recipe for Disaster
 Rev. Jesse Jackson endorses Sanders
"With the exception of Native Americans, African Americans are the people who are most behind socially and economically in the United States and our needs are not moderate. A people far behind cannot catch up choosing the most moderate path. The most progressive social and economic path gives us the best chance to catch up and Senator Bernie Sanders represents the most progressive path. That's why I choose to endorse him today." -- CNN
Jane Fonda endorses Sanders
 "We have to get a climate president in office, and there's only one right now, and that's Bernie Sanders." -- USA TODAY
Kamala Harris endorses Biden
Senator Kamala Harris to Joe Biden: "I also believe and it’s personal and it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who is built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country."
She continued, "It was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. That little girl was me." -- New York Times
Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow
"Although, frankly, so far it looks relatively contained." -- Speaking on CNBC on Friday
This after Cruz's boss called COVID19 a "hoax"...


Alice Embree in Austin, Texas
"If the Coronavirus has really passed from humans to Ted Cruz, then we are f*****d." -- FB

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

On Chicago's 183rd birthday, I'm early voting


Happy birthday, Chicago. Sanctuary city of immigrants. Heartbeat of anti-Trump resistance. Definitely a union town with a black, gay, woman mayor. Look how far you've come in 183 years. See how far you have to go.

On my way to early vote this morning. The choice for me is pretty simple. Buttigieg out. Klobuchar out. Bloomberg out. Warren will likely be out before you read this post. My only choice left is between the two old white guys, Biden and Sanders.

One voted for the war in Iraq, supported the so-called "Race to the Top" in education, and authored the crime bill that paved the way for the world's worst mass incarceration.

The other, the leading progressive politician of our time. Author of a bill that requires congressional approval of acts of war. The leader in the fight for Medicare-for-all and tuition-free, K-16 public education. Opponent of school privatization. Supported by more than 100 African-American scholars, writers, and educators.


All this and more will make my vote for Bernie Sanders an easy one.

My other easy vote will be for State's Attorney Kim Foxx who has turned IL from being the false-conviction capital of the U.S. into its opposite.

Monday, March 2, 2020

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

Protesters shut down Klobuchar’s rally in St. Louis Park, Minn., on Sunday. Now it looks like she won't even carry her home state in the primary. 
Mary Moriarty, a public defender in Minnesota’s Hennepin County
“In the case of Myon Burrell -- where you had a really high-profile shooting of an innocent girl and you put a lot of pressure on the system to get someone to be responsible for that -- I think a lot of corners were probably cut.” -- AP
Richard Wolffe on Buttigieg 
All that was missing was a reason for being: a purpose, a mission. Something with more meaning than a talented youngish man who was on the rise. Something more meaningful than a preternatural prescience that the former vice-president would implode. When Joe Biden failed to do so, there was no reason for Pete Buttigieg. -- Guardian
Stacey Abrams on voting in GA
“Across Gwinnett, across Georgia, there are folks who are afraid of their power, who are afraid of what they remember, and they’re afraid to try this time...In 2020, our responsibility is to erase their fear, to take their hands and walk with them. . . . Yes, they have been silenced . . . but this time they are not going alone.” -- Rolling Stone
Lisa Donovan at The Spin
On Friday, my colleague Lolly Bowean asked Mayor Lori Lightfoot if she plans to make an endorsement and whether she could share who it is. The mayor smiled and said only: “When or if I do, I’ll let you know.” -- Tribune
Public Schools Try Ditching A-to-F Letter Grades
“The focus is more on learning for learning’s sake because you want to learn the material and you’re actually interested in it,” said 17-year-old Taylor Daniels, who grew up going to Winnetka Public Schools District 36, which doesn’t give letter grades until mid-year 7th grade. “Teachers are able to teach more to engage the student than teaching to a test.” -- WBEZ


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Testing dust-up at CPS misses the point.

SCHULER: “I think it would basically be naive to not mention the possibility of cheating or gaming,” Schuler said. “I think we’ve been pretty fair that it’s in the mix, we can’t quantify it. ... I think what we reported is very measured.”
BOARD MEMBER SOTELO:  “If you can’t [prove it], don’t make those assertions. Because now you are taking away the credit of all the hard work of all the teachers...”
Outgoing Chicago Public Schools IG Nicholas Schuler is probably well-intentioned as he hassles with the CPS board about possible test "cheating." He's sharp on issues of security but clueless about the real role of high-stakes, standardized testing. And like all teachers, principals, and CPS board members themselves, he's caught up in a toxic system that misuses tests as a weapon for tracking and sorting children and for penalizing schools and teachers for the students that they teach.

Testing madness has once again moved to center-stage in Chicago's school reform debate, driven in recent years by national policies like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Its corrosive and divisive effects are revealed in the current battle. The cost to cash-starved school systems like CPS, can't be measured in just payments to profit-hungry testing, security and textbook companies, but in teaching time wasted in test prep as well. 

The Sun-Times reports:
Nearly every one of the board’s seven members peppered CPS Inspector General Nicholas Schuler with questions about his office’s investigation that found “unusual patterns” and “irregularities” in some test results. He told board members they would be “naive” to think his findings didn’t include attempts to game testing procedures.
 But the core of the debate between Schuler’s office and CPS is whether using the word “cheating” was appropriate in a report that didn’t necessarily substantiate any concrete examples of wrongdoing.  
While the board tweaks CPS’s highest-stakes NWEA test for its reliability and validity, Schuler claims he's convinced that teachers, who are being evaluated on the basis of student test scores, are cheating to protect their jobs. He offers no evidence. But being an IG has made him sensitive to the imagined evil that lurks in the minds of teachers and administrators. He's like the cop who sees everyone on the street as a potential perp.

Board members are right to challenge him on this. I would think that the CTU should be standing right with them.

One of his recommendations is that teachers, whose own performance ratings partially depend on the results of the NWEA, shouldn’t be the test monitors. That's exactly where he's wrong. Curriculum and assessment rightfully belong in the domain of educators, not cops, politicians or inspectors.

When testing is high-stakes, tests no longer measure what they were intended to measure. But so far, neither side is talking about eliminating high-stakes, standardized testing completely and making testing a teaching/learning tool, a part of every teacher's repertoire, to assess how well students are progressing, free from punishment and reward.

 Finally, a missing component in this current debate is the thousands of parents and students who shook the system's testing foundation with their "Opt-Out" movement four years ago. It's needed now, more than ever.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The knives were out for Sanders last night. Bloomberg skated.


Last night's debate in SC gave Michael Bloomberg his second chance to rebrand and deflect ("I said I was sorry!") as he led the rest of the pack on a wild, panic-driven, Russian-baiting attack on Bernie Sanders.
BLOOMBERG: I -- I think that Donald Trump thinks it would be better if he's president. I do not think so. Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States. And that's why Russia is helping you [Sanders] get elected, so you will lose to him.
And it was all downhill from there. The great irony is that Bloomberg is the only one among the seven with investments in Russia that dwarf Trump's. Bloomberg LP has long had corporate ties to Russia, including as a provider of business and financial news video to RBC TV.

Pete Buttigieg may have been the worst of the bunch with his clueless hit on the '60s Civil Rights Movement. Heading into the South Carolina primary, without a trace of African-American voter support, Buttigieg declared,
 I am not looking forward to a scenario where it comes down to Donald Trump, with his nostalgia for the social order of the 1950s, and Bernie Sanders with a nostalgia for the revolutionary politics of the 1960s.
Almost as if it were in response, Rev. Jesse Jackson writes in this morning's Sun-Times:
Sen. Bernie Sanders isn’t talking about making America into Cuba or Venezuela. He’s talking about extending social guarantees like those offered in other advanced countries, such as Denmark and Sweden.
The other candidates — particularly Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Mike Bloomberg — have scoffed at these ideas as too radical, too bold, too costly, too ambitious. They offer mostly a continuation of the politics that existed before Donald Trump disrupted the country. The problem with that, of course, is that it doesn’t offer much hope for most Americans.

When he was New York's mayor, Bloomberg led a ruthless expansion of privately-run charters schools that turned the nation's largest school system into a virtual war zone, forcing charter and public school educators to compete for space and survival. But in last night's debate, Bloomberg played the charter moderate and none of the others on stage challenged him, not even charter critics Sanders or Warren.

I can only imagine the looks on the faces of NYC teachers when he said:
"I'm not sure they're appropriate every place" and declared that charters provided an alternative for parents and that both charters and traditional public schools "helped each other" and were "mixed in with each other."




Sunday, February 23, 2020

'Unelectable' Bernie wins in a landslide

Strong Latinx vote for Bernie in NV could also carry him in TX and CA.
It was just another poorly-run DNC election and another big win in Nevada for the "unelectable" Bernie Sanders. This time it wasn't even close. The Biden campaign continues to plunge with the rest of the pack, bunched far behind and seemed headed for a shakeout around Super Tuesday.

Most significant and predictive about the victory in NV was the high turnout among young, Latinx voters and the Culinary Workers Union rank-and-file workers, who broke with their own leadership to support Bernie.

From the spin that party and union leaders and some pundits are putting Sanders' win, it's clearer than ever that their real worry is that Sanders is electable -- not unelectable.

MSNBC ignoramus, Chris Matthews was the worst of the worst, comparing Sanders's win yesterday with the Nazis taking control of France in 1940. Huh?

 By Matthews account, there was no German Wehrmacht, no Vichy, and no French resistance movement led by Socialists. Rathers, the Nazis began their 4-year occupation by electing a Jewish socialist as president.


Can you imagine the uproar if some pro-Bernie tweeter had drawn such a comparison?

The funniest part of the evening for me was listening to all the victory speeches given by the losers early on in the evening, hoping that what happened in Vegas stays in Vegas. It won't, predicts the Guardian's Richard Wolffe, who writes this morning, "Bernie Sanders' Nevada win is a breakout moment. The others are toast." 

I won't go that far. A lot can still change leading up to and through the convention. And there is still the Bloomberg wildcard if the convention is brokered. But with momentum on his side and with young and Latinx voters turning Bernie's way in states like Arizona, Texas, and California, there's no better argument to be made than Wolffe's.

My biggest laugh came when Joe Biden assured his still hopeful fans, "I'm still alive."

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Party leaders in the dark about how to deal with candidates' lack of party "loyalty"

Democratic insiders tend to be institutionalists. They are more likely than ordinary voters to care about the fact that Sanders hasn’t always been a registered Democrat, that he often criticizes party officials, and that he didn’t do more to help Clinton in 2016. -- Atlantic
As Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg surge to the top of the polls, and party favorite, Joe Biden continues to sink like a stone, Dem leaders are crying foul. "They're not really Democrats", they shout, pointing to Sanders' history as an independent and Bloomberg's as a Republican.

Actually, Sanders, the self-described socialist has always caucused with Senate Democrats while Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat before seeking elective office, switched his party registration in 2001 to run for mayor as a Republican. Yes, I know. It's hard to imagine the billionaire autocrat Bloomberg as anything but a Republican and he really isn't.

Case in point. Amid one of the most pivotal campaigns in the country in 2016, one many thought could decide control of the Senate, Bloomberg poured millions of dollars into the contest — to help Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

Each of them recently has in fact, sworn fielty to the eventual nominee with Sanders signing a loyalty pledge and Bloomberg offering to donate a much as $1 billion to the eventual nominee's campaign, even if it's not him.

That being said, the charge of party disloyalty doesn't seem to be hurting either of them in the primary and in fact, might even be helpful with white suburban Democrats who just want to beat Trump, or in some of the battleground states where the aroma of the disastrous Hillary Clinton campaign still lingers.

Sanders spokesperson, David Sirota on party loyalty:


Monday, February 17, 2020

QUOTABLES

Wow! Cool photo from Daytona 500, posted by Trump's campaign manager. Only problem is, it's from 16 years ago. 

Common at the All-Star Game
"If this city could talk..." -- NBA on TNT
James Taylor
"It’s like the Confederacy has won the civil war.” -- Guardian
1,143 former Justice Dept. officials
Each of us strongly condemns President Trump’s and Attorney General Barr’s interference in the fair administration of justice...Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies. -- DOJ Alumni Statement
Bernie Sanders 
“It is unacceptable that we are closing public schools in the wealthiest country in the history of the world. Together alongside Washington Teachers’ Union and teachers across the country, we will make transformative investments in our public schools, our teachers, and students.” -- Washington Post
Amy Klobuchar
Q: Do you even know the Mexican President's name?
 A: No -- Noticias

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Dems being played by Trump. Now they're echoing his attacks on Bernie.

Bernie Sanders got more young voters in New Hampshire than everyone else combined/
Bernie Sanders Is The Front-Runner For Democratic Nomination. The democratic socialist is assembling a broad coalition of voters. -- Huffpost 
"I don't understand how Bernie is considered a frontrunner' after New Hampshire primary." -- Chuck Todd, MSNBC
Donald Trump is still the tail wagging the Democratic dog. His every tweet has Dems running from pillar to post in shock-and-awe.

Whether it was calling nazi thugs in Charlottesville "fine people"; or ICE agents raiding communities and separating thousands of immigrant children from their parents on the southern border; or now, the Stone sentencing outrage. Each outrage was going to be the big thing that would break Republicans away by, in the words of Chuck Schumer, putting them in touch with their "better angels."

When the needle didn't budge, they turned to impeachment, certain that the Ukraine quid-pro-quo scandal would resonate with disenchanted swing voters and peel off a section of Republicans. It was also hoped that the impeachment trial would boost the campaign of their chosen one, Joe Biden, while keeping their progressive opposition, Sanders, and Warren, out of the media spotlight.

It didn't. They didn't.

The good news, at least from my perspective, is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now says that she is jumping back off the impeachment train-to-nowhere and will be refocusing the party away from the Ukraine shitshow (which probably hurt Biden as much or more than it did Trump) and on to "economic issues." Up til now, Dems have conceded them to Trump.

According to Politico:
To further underscore that point, Pelosi hosted a special speaker’s meeting on Tuesday with a top Obama economics adviser to explain to Democrats why the economy isn’t actually as strong as Trump claims and how they can message that to voters.
 “I’m glad that we’re shifting and pivoting to something else. Every time I poll in my area, it’s always the same thing: education, health care and the economy,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, who is facing a fierce primary challenger from the left in his sprawling south Texas district.
 “Impeachment didn’t move the needle ... so continuing to focus on that target, you’re not going to convince anyone at this point,” said Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin, who represents a Trump-district. Kind said Trump’s real problem is in states that are key to his reelection, like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where some haven’t benefited from the president’s economic good fortune.
But the risk for Pelosi and the DNC is that a focus on the economy and the environment will strengthen Bernie Sanders, who they currently see as a greater threat to their power than they do Trump himself.

Yes, you read me right. Despite recognition of the fact by both camps that without party unity, it will be impossible to beat Trump in November, party leaders and media allies are doing everything possible to make post-primary unity impossible.

First, they have become an echo for Republican red baiters. Check out one of their media faves, Chris Matthews, raising the specter of Bernie's commie assassination squads.
Leading up to Sanders’s win this week in New Hampshire, Matthews truly lost it, implying that Sanders would cheer on his public execution: “I have an attitude towards [Fidel] Castro,” Matthews explained. “I believe if Castro and the Reds had won the Cold War there would have been executions in Central Park and I might have been one of the ones getting executed. And certain other people would be there cheering, okay?” -- Vice
Second, they have targeted Sanders' young activist base harder than Sanders himself, calling his supporters "Bernie Bros" and "a mob." This, even knowing that without these young activists, the party has little chance of pulling off the kind of mobilization necessary to win in November.

DNC surrogate & AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten has been leading the attack on the Sanders activists often referring to them as a "mob." Here she retweets this post by Kurt Bardella, a media strategist who previously worked as a spokesperson for Breitbart News:
Virtual lynch mobs are not something people of color or women — or anyone — should have to just live with.
Third, they are using their control of the party apparatus to tilt things in favor of their chosen candidate(s) and diminishing Sanders' primary victories in their media spin. Think Iowa and Chuck Todd's quote at the top of this column.

But here's the thing...Without young voters and a huge turnout of voters of color, a Democratic win is virtually impossible. The votes in Iowa and NH show that Bernie has the youth vote behind him. He got more young voters in New Hampshire than everyone else combined. Those are the foot soldiers every presidential campaign needs to turn out the vote.

They may not be enough to assure a win in November. But the Democrats sure can't win without them.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Only losing candidates will take black voters for granted

Biden's support is sliding among black voters. -- Washington Post
Just to be clear, at this point in the race I support Bernie Sanders. First, because his politics are closest to my own and secondly because current polls show he is among those who have the best chance of defeating Trump, head-to-head. In the final election, I will vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is, even if I have to hold my nose while doing it.

The latest Quinnipiac poll has Trump at 42% and losing to every potential Democratic nominee

Bloomberg 51 - 42
Sanders 51 - 43
Biden 50 - 43
Klobuchar 49 - 43
Warren 48 - 44
Buttigieg 47 - 43

Of course, I never underestimate the Democrats' ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, especially in the battleground states where Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election by not campaigning and working to turn out voters of color in cities like Detroit and Milwaukee.

But these numbers also belie the claim, repeated over and over by DNC leaders, that Sanders can't win and that their chosen one, Joe Biden, is the only candidate that can beat Trump.

Biden's claim to DNC's chosen-one status is based on the premise that he has the black vote in his pocket. But I wouldn't be so sure. That same poll shows Michael Bloomberg cutting into those numbers.
While Biden is still holding onto his lead among black voters, according to the poll, his support has plummeted from 49 percent before the caucuses to 27 percent. Bloomberg, meanwhile, has rocketed into second place among black voters, with 22 percent support compared to 7 percent late last month. -- Politico
I'm no fan of the oligarch, stop-and-frisk Bloomberg, but I can understand why this is apparently happening. Rev. Jesse Jackson offers a plausible explanation in an op-ed appearing in both Chicago papers this morning.
Democrats can’t inherit the black vote. Joe Biden is finding that his support for mass incarceration legislation costs votes. Pete Buttigieg is discovering that the opposition of black leaders in his own city amid failure to reform the police costs at the national level. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are learning that relationships in the black community have to be built over time, not simply forged by championing bold economic reforms.
Speaking of Sanders and Warren -- favorites of this city's progressive voters (including this one) -- they really blew it when it came to getting a key endorsement of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Neither candidate bothered to meet with the city's popular black, female, gay mayor and even ask for her endorsement.

They both came into town to show support for the CTU strikers (good on them) but got caught up in the wave of vicious personal attacks and overheated rhetoric directed at the mayor by CTU leaders and especially by AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten. Fearing a loss of the union's endorsement, they each left town without paying any respect to Lightfoot, who has become a key figure in state and national Democratic Party politics.

Now, they will likely neither receive endorsements from the union nor the mayor. The CTU has decided not to endorse anyone. With members split between Sanders and Warren, a CTU endorsement would mean little. It didn’t mean a thing in the 2019 mayoral race under similar circumstances when CTU-backed Toni Preckwinkle lost to Lightfoot in every ward in the city.

But Bloomberg, who has some appeal to big-city mayors because of the resources he brings as well as his strong stand on gun control, was smart enough to visit with Chicago's mayor, sparking rumors that Lightfoot would endorse him.

Bloomberg has racked up more endorsements from mayors in the 100 largest U.S. cities than any other candidate. D.C.'s African-American, female mayor Muriel Bowser has endorsed him. And former U.S. Conference of Mayors president Steve Benjamin, an African-American whose city of Columbia, South Carolina, whose position in an early voting state with a majority-black electorate gives him clout among Democrats—is leading Bloomberg’s campaign as co-chair.

So far, Lightfoot has said nothing to confirm or deny the rumor and might just as easily decide not to endorse anyone at all.

I've heard from some Warren people that she's apologized for the Lightfoot slight and is making new overtures to the mayor. But I can't confirm and doubt that would change things. Nothing yet from the Sanders camp.

But the fact remains that the road to the White House goes through urban America where black and Latinx voters will make the difference. Candidates who forget this will do so at their own peril.

Monday, February 10, 2020

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

With SEIU members packing the stage behind her, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot endorses Marie Newman for Congress in the Democratic primary against Republicrat Dan Lipinski.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot 

“Dan Lipinski is on the wrong side of history and he doesn’t represent our values,” Lightfoot said. She said Lipinski also didn’t support Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012, voted against the Affordable Care Act and had disenfranchised Latino voters. Lightfoot said Lipinski also had opposed same-sex marriage in the past. “I’m happy to be here supporting Marie Newman,” she said. “We are not ever going backward, not ever.” -- Tribune
MSNBC host Chris Matthews 
...drew rebukes on social media Friday night after suggesting that as a Democratic Socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders could lead a dictatorship in which establishment political figures would be “executed,” should he win the presidency. -- Truthout
Kalyn Belsha, Chicago education writer
Educators say the [CTU] votes not to endorse were a result of a variety of concerns. Some were procedural, including questions about whether members had been adequately consulted. Others were local, including lingering tensions over the union’s endorsement of and spending on a losing 2019 mayoral candidate. -- Chalkbeat
Barbara Duffield, the Executive Director of SchoolHouse Connection
"The record number of children and youth experiencing homelessness nationwide is alarming. But for many of these children and youth, public schools are their best — and often only — source of support." -- CBS News
Robert Reich on Bloomberg
The word “oligarchy” comes from the Greek word oligarkhes, meaning “few to rule or command”. It refers to a government of and by a few exceedingly rich people or families who control the major institutions of society. Oligarchs may try to hide their power behind those institutions, or excuse their power through philanthropy and “corporate social responsibility”. But no one should be fooled. An oligarchy is not a democracy. -- Guardian

Friday, February 7, 2020

Me and Limbaugh, Ohio 2012

"Truly nauseating" -- Rep. Ocasio-Cortez

So DT got Melania to give racist oinker Rush Limbaugh the Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor. It's one that was awarded in earlier, less bizarro-world times to the likes of Mother Theresa and Rosa Parks (BTW, happy birthday to Mrs. Parks on her 110th). That's at least two former winners a-mouldering in their graves.

Nothing he does shocks me anymore and I would expect nothing less from the racist grifter that occupies the WH. But I was a little surprised to hear some liberals, including one of my media FB friends, Bruce Dumont, longtime host of Beyond the Beltway, defending giving the award to Limbaugh. 


RUSH LIMBAUGH has been
awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
For those who object to Rush
do not understand the impact
of the man on American politics.
Perhaps they are blinded by their hatred or pure ignorance.
I’ve checked the very long list of past winners:
Tennessee Ernie Ford?
Lorne Michaels?
Barbara Mikulski?
Bill Cosby?
Give me a break!

I won't waste space countering Dumont's assessment. @AOC, in USA Today, does a better job of that than I could.

But as far as impact on American politics goes, I really do understand it as well as anyone because it has hit me directly a few times. I'll recount one of them here from a 2012 column I wrote that reposted at NEPC.

Turning Right Off the Interstate: How Obama and I Settled the Teachers Strike

Driving through southern Ohio to speak to students at Kenyon College and Bowling Green University I hear the steady stream of right-wing radio and see the dozens of anti-Obama billboards paid for by Clint Eastwood and his wing-nut super PAC. In the towns, there's more of a mix of Obama and Romney signs and of course, the university towns are mostly Obama. Those in the know think that Obama will narrowly win Ohio. I'm not so sure.
The main media spokesman for the Republican Party and for national conservatives is, of course, Rush Limbaugh. Here's what his 20-30 million listeners, mostly small town and rural, heard from Limbaugh about the Chicago teachers strike:
It was all a set-up, says Limbaugh, so that Pres. Obama could step into the fray and settle it by getting union head, Mike Klonsky [hey, that's me], a former member of the Communist Party U.S.A, to get his members to accept a compromise on their wage demands.
Yet the Wizards of Smart say, "No way! Impossible. Couldn't happen. Obama's got too much to lose." The only way Obama has too much to lose is if he inserts himself and there is no solution. I'm sure that's what they mean, but Obama wouldn't insert himself unless there were a pre-ordained, pre-established solution. Like somebody gets on the phone to the teachers union. 
The head teachers union guy in Chicago was a member of the Communist Party USA. He's a huge Obama supporter. So somebody from the White House calls him and says, "Here's what's going to happen," and they lay out the deal. The communist teacher guy says either yes or no. If the guy says, "Screw that! I'm not taking it," then Obama doesn't get involved. But if he takes the deal, then it works. It would be made to look like Obama couldn't take it anymore.
Now first let me say, with apologies to Groucho Marx,  that I would never belong to a union that would have someone like me as its leader. As for the Communist Party U.S.A.? Never been there. Other radical left groups back in the day, but never that one.
And finally, neither the prez nor his people have ever called me. But if he or they did, I would have asked him to put on his "walking shoes" and come down here and man the picket lines like he promised back in 2007. While, I'll probably vote for him again next month, calling me "a huge supporter" is really far fetched. As my readers all know, I've been highly critical of Obama, especially around his education policies and the continuation of his "smart war" in Afghanistan.
As for bloated, drug-addicted, demagogic windbag Limbaugh, you would think he would at least get one fact right if only to preserve some semblance of credibility. He didn't -- not even one.