Monday, August 20, 2018


 “It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” 
― George Orwell, 1984
"Truth is truth," Meet the Press host Chuck Todd interjected.
"No," Giuliani replied, "it isn't truth. Truth isn't truth."  -- Rudy Giuliani, 2018
Dr. Jeffrey Epstein upon being taken down by police
 As officers struggled to put him in handcuffs, Dr. Epstein was pepper-sprayed. Dr. Epstein, who is white, repeatedly yelled out “Oh, my God” and, in one profanity-laden line, that he was being treated like a “black person,” the video shows. -- New York Times
Sen. Elizabeth Warren trying her best to save capitalism from itself
My big new bill, the Accountable Capitalism Act, would restore the idea that big American companies should look out for their workers, not just their shareholders. Why do we need to pass this bill? Just look at what’s happened since the #GOPTaxScam passed. -- Twitter post
Corporate shill Bill George responds
Our system of capitalism is functioning well as evidenced by the plethora of U.S.-based companies that are dominating world markets and whose stocks are at all-time highs. -- CNBC
Larry Lewis, a housekeeper at Palmer House
“We’re tired of being stepped on, when these billion-dollar corporations are getting all this money and then they forget us. They forget that we’ve made these places five-star, world-wide-class hotels. …. They want to take our healthcare, they want to take our medicine.” -- Chicago hotel workers vote ‘overwhelmingly’ to authorize strike 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Chicago proud: The Resistance started here

Anti-Trump protest at UIC, March 2016. 

Omarosa's tell-all book makes reference to the March 2016 anti-Trump protest which shut down his campaign rally and sent DT scurrying out of town, not to return again. The protest “left a deep scar”, writes Omarosa Manigault Newman. 

According to the Sun-Times:
“There was a lot of blame to go around for the failure of the Chicago event,” she writes. “We blamed the protesters. We blamed law enforcement for not properly managing the situation. We blamed Chicago and its mayor, Obama acolyte Rahm Emanuel, for not supplying adequate security resources. We blamed everything and everyone, except for Donald Trump.”
“When I look back and try to pinpoint the moment when, in my own heart, I adopted an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mind-set, it was that night in Chicago in March 2016. We all had a bunker mentality . . . I never stopped to ask myself what all this conflict meant for the future of the country. If I acknowledged my role in what was happening, I would have had to come to terms with nearly thirteen years of suppressed doubts and concerns about Donald Trump, and I was simply incapable of doing that at that point.”
Actually, the UIC rally was relatively peaceful (a few scuffles broke out inside the Arena as they always do at Trump rallies). Some 25,000 people gathered peacefully outside the Pavillion immediately following the reports that Trump had slipped into town. Seeing that the few hundred of his supporters would be badly outnumbered by the huge anti-Trump crowd, he called off the rally and split town, tail between his legs.

Writes Omarosa:
“The night of the Chicago rally left a deep scar on my consciousness, and I’d never even reached the city. From my place in the figurative bunker, I came out aggressively to support candidate Trump and believed the argument that the protesters were at fault.”
While the protest, organized by a few student groups, was a great success, it happened despite dire warnings of consequenses from a few frightened Democrats and some in the media.

The Tribune's Ron Grossman, exaggerated the level of violence and implored us to "halt the demonstrations", warning Trump would "profit" from "images of punching and cursing partisans" on the evening news. According to Grossman, "It doesn't matter whose cause is just and whose is not."

But it does indeed matter and there was no "profit" for Trump, writes Omarosa.
 In the aftermath of the botched rally, she says she was instructed to stick to the campaign strategy of “whataboutism” while making the rounds on cable news, pivoting from questions about provoking conflict to attacking Hillary Clinton over the FBI investigation into her emails.
“It was the only thing we had. At that point, we lacked a platform, plans, big ideas about foreign or domestic policy. All we had was Trump’s bluster, the MAGA slogan, and Hillary’s emails.”
Grossman went on to attack, not only the UIC protest, but protest movements in general, including Black Lives Matter and the anti-Vietnam War protests of the '60.

I think it's fair to say that today's Resistance movement against Trumpism was born that day in Chicago. City after city, followed suit right up through the inauguration, and Women's March and today, make it virtually impossible for Trump to travel anywhere outside of his red base areas.

The same hold true for his neo-fascist and white-supremacist supporters.

Let's keep marching people. It won't fall by itself.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Left groups and factions appear to be in disarray over election strategy.

While many left groups and activists played leading roles in recent victorious electoral campaigns around the country, there are those who disdain electoral politics in general. That's always been the case, and I could be counted among their ranks back in '68 when SDS's campaign slogan was "Vote in the Streets."

Of course conditions were different then--50 years ago--as we will be discussing Friday on our special '68+50 Hitting Left show on www.lumpenradio.com.

The Democrats were the war party and the party of southern segregation. Our generation of young radical activists' disdain for national elections was understandable if not politically savvy (although we did run Eldridge Cleaver and Uptown's own Peggy Terry for president that year on the Peace & Freedom Party Ticket).

Then there are the left sectarians who see participation in campaigns and mass organizations strictly as a way to promote their own narrow brand and to split the movement. I know a thing or two about these folks from back in the day, as well.

Peggy Terry, JOIN 1968
But bringing things up to date... Look what happened in CT. Here, progressive Jahana Hayes, a black woman who grew up in a local housing project and captured national attention when she was named 2016 “Teacher of the Year,",crushed official party favorite Mary Glassman in yesterday's primary. If she wins in November, Hayes will make history as the first black woman to win a Connecticut congressional seat as well as the first black congresswoman ever from New England.

But it was Glassman who won the endorsements of Our Revolution and MoveOn along with that of the Chamber of Commerce. Ugh!

According to The Intercept:
The endorsement by the central Connecticut branch of Our Revolution was highly unusual, as Our Revolution claims to back progressive candidates who — unlike Glassman — proudly embrace the policy platform Sanders ran on. (Sanders won more votes in Connecticut’s 5th District in the 2016 primary, even though Hillary Clinton won the state overall in the election.) 
With midterms coming up in November, some left factions have already turned their guns on progressive female candidates of color, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib,for not being "left" or "socialist" enough and for having a wrong or weak line on Palestine.

Ocasio-Cortez, a Puerto Rican woman and self-described "socialist" and DSAer, upset powerful Dem regular Joe Crowley in the primary. She did so without any support from the party organization and even though the Working Families Party endorsed Crowley. In fact, Crowley is still running on the WFP ticket even though the organization has shifted its support to Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez has used the momentum from her upset victory to raise money and support for fellow progressives like MI gov candidate, Abdul El-Sayed and others in hopes of a "Blue Tide" in November. This has led to charges from some left quarters that the Democratic candidates being supported by Ocasio-Cortez since her election victory are not strictly “socialist”, writes Juan Cruz Ferre in Left Voice. He also charges her with wanting to replace ICE with something more "humane," and with supporting a "two-state" solution in Palestine.

But, Ocasio is also being attacked for "selling out" by several groups within DSA who describe themselves as the ones who "always fight on the side of justice."

Ocasio responds by saying her understanding of the issue is "evolving." Fair enough. As with all our progressive pols, we need to keep the pressure on. But how?

Rashida Tlaib
Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, is the eldest of 14 children, born to working-class Palestinian immigrants in Detroit, Michigan. Her mother was born in Beit Ur El Foka, near Ramallah. Her father was born in Beit Hanina, a neighborhood of Jerusalem.

She champions progressive policies like Medicare For All, a $15 minimum wage, and abolishing ICE, says she is both a Democrat and a "democratic socialist." She could be the first Muslim woman elected to Congress after winning the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.

DSAer Benjamin Balthaser, responding to an interview with Tlaib in In These Times writes:
There's a lot of great stuff in this interview w Tlaib - her support for the free speech rights of BDS advocates, for a single state with equal rights for everyone in Israel/Palestine, for her articulation of the horror of the Israeli apartheid regime. But what strikes me as most important is that she is able to connect this story - her story - with the daily struggles of Detroiters for equal rights and the longer struggle for civil rights in the U.S. 
Great point, Ben. Something to be learned here.

But now, as Tlaib is taking heavy racist fire from the right and from rabid zionists, she is also coming under attack from the left. She is charged by some lefties with, among other things, taking campaign money from JStreet, a liberal pro-Israel group, and supporting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

There's nothing wrong, of course, with criticizing the positions taken by Democratic Party pols. I do it every day. But the attacks on both women as "sell-outs" is another matter (especially when the attacks arise from factions within Ocasio's own organization [and mine]--DSA).

But still, the polemics continue, not in internal meetings with the candidates, but in open, divisive and personal criticism on social media.

Corey Robin in Jacobin writes:
The camps divided in two: on the one hand, there were those who took Ocasio-Cortez’s comments as confirmation that she is no real leftist, that she is turning right, that she’s been absorbed into the Democratic Party machine, that she’s a fake, a phony, and a fraud. For these folks, Ocasio-Cortez’s comments confirmed their generally dim view of electoral politics.
But leaving those anti-electoralists aside for the moment, Robin takes what many on the left would see as legitimate issue with Ocasio's position--or lack thereof--on Palestine. I have no problem with taking her to task, so long as issues are raised on just grounds and with restraint--in tune with the consciousness of the people in the community who elected her.

Narrow sectarian attacks also open the doors to agents and provocateurs whose goal is to create confusion, demoralization and division.

There never been a more important time for progressive and left forces to learn and develop good electoral strategies to complement organizing work in schools, workplaces and communities. Hopefully the current struggles will lead to greater clarity and more victories.

Monday, August 13, 2018


Susan Bro, Heather Heyer's mother
Susan Bro
Bro told reporters to “please remember not to think of Heather, but why she was here. She was here to support equality, she was here to support affordable housing, she was here to support taking care of people the way you would want to be taken care of". -- The Hill
Issac J. Bailey, author of the memoir My Brother Moochie
"Charlottesville was where white supremacists were welcomed back into the mainstream." -- Politico
Dave Zirin
The Nazis have scurried out of Lafayette Park. There were thousands of us anti-Nazis. There were 30 of them.....and then on cue, the rain did fall. I have to say it was a good day. -- FB
Chicago developer, Gene Bernshtam
“You’re not going to be able to recognize the surrounding blocks in the next few years, and I think that it’s going to be for the better. There’s a much better caliber of people moving in, enjoying what we have.” -- Block Club Chicago

Thursday, August 9, 2018

CPD's 'Bait Trucks'

You would think that by this time in my life, nothing the CPD did would surprise me. I mean, I came of age politically at the time of the Chicago police murders of Black Panther leaders and my friends, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, shot dead while asleep in their beds on the west side of Chicago. Not to mention the police killings of dozens of other unarmed black men and women since that time.

It was less than a week ago that my brother and I interviewed CPD frame-up victim Ronald Kitchen, a survivor of  the Jon Burge's "Midnight Crew" torture machine. Kitchen spent 21 years in the penitentiary, 13 on death row before having his forced-confession, murder conviction overturned. You should read his book, My Midnight Years, to get the whole story behind this atrocity.

So I don't know why hearing about CPD and Norfolk Southern Railroad using "bait trucks" filled with Nike shoes to entrap young black kids playing hoops on a playground in Englewood, has pissed me and got my blood boiling. But it did.

Maybe it's because, as a former high school basketball coach, I had to spend time, away from the court, begging for donations and even coming out of pocket so my players wouldn't have to hoop in their street shoes -- an embarrassment, especially when playing against wealthy, over-resourced suburban schools.

Or maybe it's because I just heard about Mayor Rahm Emanuel's obvious election campaign-inspired deployment of 600 more cops to communities being ravaged by gun violence while attacking the morals and values of black parents. If they were so badly needed in west and south-side city neighborhoods, why were these cops out initiating petty crime at playgrounds, rounding up dozens of entrapped kids for incarceration and branding them with an arrest record?

It's the mayor who needs to shape up his own values system.

If he was really interested in reducing youth violence and building better police-community relations, he could start by having these same cops out in the community giving away those same Nike-donated shoes and organizing community basketball leagues for young men and women, rather than having them work for Norfolk Southern to manufacturing crime. .
“This bait truck operation is an unacceptable and inappropriate use of police resources,” said Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th, chair of the City Council’s Black Caucus. “In a moment where police capacity is clearly under extreme strain, these sort of tactics are the last thing we should be spending manpower and energy on.” (Tribune)
And what's Nike's role in this entrapment scheme? Haven't they been profiteering off of Chicago's young basketball talent for years.

Had to ask.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Rahm blames gun violence on 'low morals' and 'too many with criminal records on the street'.

"This is a Trump-free zone," Mayor Rahm Emanuel boasted in June

It was only a few weeks ago that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and top-cop Eddie Johnson were patting themselves on the back while claiming credit for the reported 15th consecutive month of declining gun violence. The good news came just in time for Rahm who used it as a jumping-off point to his re-election campaign.

He even used the occasion to thumb his nose at Trump, who is fond of making Chicago his punching bag whenever he wants to whip up his deplorables into a racist, anti-urban frenzy.
"This is a Trump-free zone," Rahm bragged. "We have facts. What matters ... is what happens on the street."
And the facts are that at least 75 Chicagoans, nearly all black and Latino, many of them children, were shot and at least a dozen killed on city streets last weekend. Now Rahm has turned his fire away from Trump and on to victims of street violence.

By Monday, there was no more back-patting. No more shit-talking Trump. Instead, the mayor started pointing fingers at parents and community residents, blaming them for low morals and a shortage values.  Trumpism without Trump, if you will.

Diverting attention from the burning issues of poverty, education and joblessness Emanuel scolded his critics.
“You can talk about jobs, and they count, but in parts of the city where there aren’t jobs, people did not pull the trigger."
Then moving from bad to worse the mayor echoed Trump's racist lock-'em-up demagogy.
“There are too many guns on the street, too many people with criminal records on the street, and there is a shortage of values about what is right, what is wrong, was is acceptable, what is condoned and what is condemned.”
Yes, there are way too many guns on the street, most of them flowing in from across the Indiana line. Remember, it was Rahm himself, as Obama's chief of staff in 2009, with a Democratic majority in congress, who put the kibosh of what was probably the last attempt at national gun-control legislation.

As for "too many people with criminal records on the street" -- that's a line right out of Trump's repertoire, at a time when there are more than two million people in prison with African Americans being incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites, that's racist scapegoating at it's worst.

Current policies make it difficult for those coming out of prison to find employment. For example, it's extremely difficult or impossible to get records sealed or expunged, especially those of juveniles. This adds to the problem and drives crime and violence numbers upward. A criminal record can reduce the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50%, says the NAACP. The negative impact of a criminal record is twice as large for African American applicants.

Last weekend's explosion now has Rahm, still in campaign mode, promising to put 600 more cops and detectives into the neighborhoods hardest hit. The “strategic deployments” will add 430 officers to five South Side and West Side police districts: Calumet, Gresham, Ogden, Harrison and Austin.

But there is no correlation between police saturation of a neighborhood and violence prevention. Cops enter the picture (and usually not in a good way) only after the fact. And the siege strategy rarely includes beat cops and relationship building. Rather the focus is crisis deployment.

I know it's too easy to blame Rahm for last weekend's shooting. It's easy because after six years in office, his policies still favor investment downtown and in wealthy areas of the city and the deprivation and lack of investment, closing of schools, libraries and social-services in the neediest neighborhoods. But the problems predate go beyond Rahm Emanuel.

The isolation and destabilization of neighborhoods, particularly on the south and west sides of the city, began long before Emanuel came to power. They are a big part of the black exodus from Chicago and play a major role in generating violence and crime. And so far, I've heard little beyond tweaky reforms from his top mayoral contenders.

Monday, August 6, 2018


Ocassio-Cortez at Netroots: “Our swing voter is not red to blue. It's non-voter to voter." 

Anoa Changa at Netroots
“I think Trump’s win scared the shit out of everybody. I think it’s been a wakeup call for a lot of people that we have to invest. We can’t just do the traditional model where we only talk to super-voters.”
That doesn’t mean ignoring whites and Trump voters. Instead, "it’s rejecting the notion that our way to victory is having a centrist, moderate right-leaning strategy that feels like we could peel off Romney Republicans, versus investing in communities of color, marginalized groups and progressive white people." -- The Atlantic
Unite the Right comes to D.C.
Jackie Jeter ATU Local 689 President 
“More than 80% of Local 689’s membership is people of color, the very people that the Ku Klux Klan and other white nationalist groups have killed, harassed and violated. The union has declared that it will not play a role in their special accommodation.” -- Think Progress
Michael Jordan
"I support L.J.," Jordan told NBC News through a spokesperson. "He's doing an amazing job for his community." -- The Hill 
Elijah Edwards, Pres. AFSCME Local #2858
Since the Janus decision, "District 31's membership has gone up..." -- Hitting Left
Kimberly Wasserman, executive director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization
“There’s been enough injustice done in different communities. We’re starting to fight back.”