Thursday, September 24, 2020

How should we respond to the latest numbers?

Chicago Mayor Lightfoot put this message on every digital billboard in the city.

Reporter: "Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?"
President Trump: "We're going to have to see what happens." -- NBC News

In case you're hanging your emotional hat on the ups and downs of the national polls -- don't. They really don't tell you much except that JoeBiden will likely be on top of the polls by election time, but by numbers within the margin-of-error. The state-by-state polls, especially in the 2016 battleground states, are slightly more telling. They clearly show that Trump is in trouble in many of the states he won in 2016.

For example, Biden is leading or running close in Iowa, Texas, and (can you believe it?) Georgia. 

They show that Biden is running stronger in swing states than Clinton did in 2016, and if all the votes are counted fairly, Trump will lose, not only the popular vote again, but in the electoral college as well. Not only that, but a Biden victory will likely carry several more Democrat senate candidates to victory with him. Of course, that's all a big IF. 

Trump may not be the brightest bulb but he can count just like we can. His likely response to these numbers will be a turn towards an extra-electoral move to hang onto power; i.e., a coup d'etat of some sort. 

The coup is already happening with his appointment of a supreme court justice prior to the election, a key to his plan. Republican hope is that even if the election results are tied up in the courts, a majority of the justices will call it for Trump. Even if the plan fails, the high court will be key in intervening in state prosecutions of Trump and his grifter family. 

The Atlantic reports that the Trump campaign is already "discussing contingency plans to bypass election results."

And this yesterday on CNN:

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens. You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster," Trump said, when asked if he could commit to the peaceful transition.
"(G)et rid of the ballots and you'll have a very ... there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."
To prevent Trump from stealing the election, says Elie Mystal in The Nation, people need to vote in such overwhelming numbers that we overcome all his shenanigans. And the best way to do that is to vote early in person.
Not everybody can vote in person, of course. I’m not a Republican, which means I don’t believe Grandma needs to risk death in order to win an election. The most you can reasonably ask of a person for whom going  to the polls is too dangerous is to request and return an absentee ballot. But if your state offers early in-person voting and it’s safe for you to do so, you should.
I agree with this voting strategy but would add that we also need to start making contingency plans around the possibility that the coup is successful and that it is backed up by police, military and para-military forces. Yes, vote early and in-person if possible, but get organized for a struggle that goes beyond election day.

A NEW HILL-HARRIS  X POLL FINDS...51% of registered voters want to do away with the electoral college altogether. In 2016, Trump lost the popular vote by roughly 3 million votes but won the electoral college against Hillary Clinton. 

The EC, born of compromise at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, was set up to protect the slave states. The result was that for 32 of the United States’ first 36 years, a slave-holding Virginian occupied the White House (John Adams from Massachusetts was the exception).

CHICAGO NUMBERS...Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is beating great-white-hope Republican Pat O’Brien by more than 14 points. This despite O'Brien trying to paint Foxx as "soft on crime" and Foxx being made a target by Trump and his partners at the head of the FOP over the Smollett case.  

Monday, September 21, 2020

WEEKEND QUOTABLES


Mayor Lori Lightfoot at RGB vigil

Lightfoot spoke about how, less than 12 hours after Ginsburg’s death, President Donald Trump released his list of Supreme Court justice picks. When Lightfoot mentioned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s name, the crowd booed in unison.

“The forces of darkness and evil were already at work. The hypocrisy of these people knows no limit.” -- Chicago gathering for RBG

State's Atty. Kim Foxx on RBG

 Foxx continued: “While some might argue the law is not a place for social activism, Ginsburg didn’t listen to this noise, always rising above the critics to bring justice and equality for the American people.” -- Sun-Times

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on RBG

“It’s not just the fact that she’s a woman who served on our highest court or the first Jewish woman to serve on our highest court. But it’s how she served...And when you are in this space, you don’t have to occupy this space in the way that every man before you did. You can be the first, and you can be brazen, as you are the first.” -- NYT interview

 Donald Trump

"You have good genes, you know that, right? You have good genes. A lot of it is about the genes, isn't it, don't you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we're so different? You have good genes in Minnesota." -- At Minnesota rally

Ed Rendell, former DNC Chair

“Suburban whites are pretty much gone” for Trump,  And Biden is far less objectionable to many working-class whites than Clinton, a more polarizing nominee whose favorability ratings were lower than Biden’s. -- Trump loses ground with white voters

 Rebecca Solnit

What we do now matters as it never has before. As a country, we are on the cusp of an epic decision. Climate change, Covid – our hearts ache. But a new era is possible. We can do it. -- Guardian



W.E.B. DuBois (1946)

I should be the last to insist that the uplift of mankind never calls for force and death. There are times, as both you and I know, when
“Tho’ love repine and reason chafe,
There came a voice without reply,
‘Tis man’s perdition to be safe
When for truth he ought to die.” 

Monday, September 14, 2020

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

 

John Fogerty: "Confounding" that Trump campaign played "Fortunate Son" at the rally.

CA Gov. Gavin Newsom

"The debate is over around climate change," Newsom said as he toured a burn area in Northern California. "Just come to the state of California. Observe it with your own eyes. It’s not an intellectual debate. It’s not even debatable any longer."  -- NBC Bay Area

Donald Trump

“I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before. We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before. There’s nobody — what we have is incredible." -- Forbes

 Roger Stone to Trump: bring in martial law if you lose the election

...said Trump should seize total power and jail prominent figures including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg if he loses to Joe Biden in November. Stone said Trump should consider invoking the Insurrection Act and arresting the Clintons, former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Tim Cook of Apple, and “anybody else who can be proven to be involved in illegal activity”. -- Guardian

John Fogerty

“It’s a song I could have written now, and so I find it confusing, I would say, that the president has chosen to use my song for his political rallies, when in fact it seems like he is probably the fortunate son." -- The Hill

Bill Russell, NBA Hall of Famer

"Racism is not a historical footnote." -- Players' Tribune 

IL Atty. General Kwame Raoul 

“How old were you when a cop 1st pulled a gun on you?”  “Seventeen,” he answered. It happened at the corner of 50th and Woodlawn avenues on Chicago’s South Side." -- Politico

 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Biden's coalition & the Pentagon budget


The very thought of a Trump victory in November is so odious that it leaves me fearful for the world's future and the future of my children and grandchildren. The growing threats of uncontained global pandemics, impending environmental disasters like the current west-coast firestorms, fascism enforced by a puppet Justice Department and a stacked right-wing Supreme Court for the next 40 years are all terrifying and will drive me and hopefully millions of others to the polls as soon as they open, to vote for Biden/Harris and to recapture the Senate. 

But now and post-election, I am also deeply concerned about the right-center election coalition the Democratic leadership is banking on to win in November and to rule the country for the foreseeable future. It's an alliance built on a partnership with that old gang of neocons (so-called "moderate Republicans") and all but excludes the party's progressive wing. 

Most troubling about the revival of the old Clinton/McCain foreign policy coalition is its regime-change and Cold War strategies. They are the foundations for eternal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East--wars that are bringing us closer to what would be a disastrous military confrontation with China.

This grouping has never met a war they didn't like going all the way back to Vietnam, and Trump is actually seeking a faster withdrawal than Biden of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, and those based in NATO countries like Germany. No less important, though perhaps less headline-grabbing, was Trump’s 2017 expansion of the 1033 program, which provides for the transfer of Defense Department military gear to civilian police departments. So increasing D.O.D. spending also means the increased militarization of the police. 

Don't take it from me. Take it from Biden himself who yesterday assured the Pentagon brass that under his regime, its near-trillion-dollar war budget would not remain merely intact, but could be increased, and that U.S. troops would continue to be an occupying force in Afghanistan and elsewhere. 

Biden said, however, that the Defense Department desperately needs to innovate in emerging technology such as beefing up its cyberwarfare capabilities and unmanned aircraft.

“We have to focus more on unmanned capacity, cyber and IT, in a very modern world that is changing rapidly,” Biden said. “I’ve met with a number of my advisors and some have suggested in certain areas the budget is going to have to be increased.”

Let's be clear:  Cyber and drone warfare are no less deadly than traditional warfare, while even increasing the numbers of civilian casualties.  

According to the Pentagon's own organ, Stars & Stripes:

But the guiding star for the Pentagon since 2018 has been the National Defense Strategy, formulated by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, that identifies China as America's principal adversary. That's likely to carry over to the next administration no matter who's in charge, say defense strategy experts Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute and Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Relations.

All this runs completely counter to the policies of the party's Progressive Caucus, which call for a 10% cut in military spending, with that $70B redirected towards social spending. 

Ahead of the Senate’s consideration of a proposed $740.5 billion military budget authorization, Sen. Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor to call for a 10% cut in annual Pentagon spending to invest in education, health care, and poverty reduction in America’s most marginalized communities. Sanders has been the most vocal critic of the Democratic leadership on this.

"At this pivotal moment in American history,” said Sanders, “we have to make a fundamental decision. Do we want to spend billions more on endless wars in the Middle East, or do we want to provide decent jobs to millions of unemployed Americans here at home? Do we want to spend more money on nuclear weapons or do we want to invest in decent jobs and childcare and healthcare for the American people most in need?"

But Progressive Caucus' House amendment in July was soundly defeated with a majority of Democratic reps voting in opposition. A review of campaign contributions later showed that Democrats who voted against the amendment received far more campaign funding from defense industry interests.  

Some pundits say that Biden's prostrating himself before the generals is little more than an election campaign ploy to take advantage of Trump's recent "suckers" and "losers" insults to GIs and veterans and win over Republican voters and isolating progressives in key battleground states. Another scenario has Biden is trying to placate the military brass to keep them neutral in the event that Trump refuses to leave the White House after losing the vote. 

Such tactical moves in the face of a possible Republican win in November are understandable. But it's still pretty clear that Biden's election coalition partners are clearly pro-Pentagon spending and demanding that he rid himself of their progressive opposition as the price for their support. 

That battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, as John Nichols calls it, will continue right up through election day and beyond. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Barr, take your law-and-order shit show out of our city

AG Barr, who has turned the Justice Dept into accused rapist Trump's personal defense attorney, get the hell out of our city!
Trump's protector and faithful sidekick, Atty. Gen. William Barr is in Chicago to tout his so-called Operation Legend, which has so far resulted in the mass incarceration of thousands of mainly Black and Latino young men in cities across the country.

Barr claims the operation is responsible for reducing the city's gun violence. But that claim is bullshit (not her words), according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot

In contrast, Barr is using the Justice Department to aid and abet the international gang of criminals that now occupies the White House. The latest outrage is Barr's move to replace  Trump’s private legal team with DOJ lawyers to defend the accused rapist in a defamation suit brought by author E. Jean Carroll. Last year, Carroll credibly accused Trump of raping her in a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s.

In Chicago, FBI sweeps have led to the arrests of more than 500 people, many on federal gun and drug charges so those arrested can be held without bail. The DOJ operation involves federal agents conducting large scale, counter-gang investigations using police informants and covert aerial surveillance. This at a time when Chicago's crime rate is on the decline and when area prisons have become COVID hot spots. 

But Operation Legend has more to do with Trump's election campaign than it does with crime-fighting. Barr has used his appearance here to blame the supposed "wave of violent crime" on the ongoing nationwide protests since the police killing of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor, as well as on "anarchic and far-left extremist groups."

Using Wednesday's announcement in part to criticize ongoing efforts pushing for racial justice and police reform, Barr blamed those protests in part for a spike in crime nationwide earlier this year and repeated a "law and order" refrain often employed by President Donald Trump as he campaigns for reelection. -- 5 Chicago

With the election only weeks away, Trump is counting on a new law-and-order surge to energize his base and spread fear among white suburban voters while painting Democratic-run cities, especially those with black mayors, as crime-ridden "shitholes." 

To her credit, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, while offering to work with the feds to control the worsening gun violence in the city, slammed the Trump/Barr political assault on Chicago, leaving Barr to complain that Lightfoot excluded federal efforts in their own discussions on the decrease in crime--adding that Chicago police had been invited to Wednesday's announcement but declined to attend, with Barr citing "politics" as the reason.
"They were certainly invited and could have attended," Barr said, when asked why members of CPD were not standing with federal law enforcement on Wednesday.
Lightfoot responds:
"Nearly two months ago, the mayor sent a letter to the President outlining areas where the federal government has the unique ability to help us fight the epidemic of gun violence... While the president continues to make factually inaccurate comments about Chicago from the political stump, almost two months later, we've received no response to the letter and worse, no results from him for Chicago. We hope Attorney General Barr's visit is part of an effort to help make these actions a reality as opposed to using our city and its residents as a political prop, as his boss regularly does."
It wasn't.

Omar Muhammad (formerly known as Omar Saunders), from left; Marcelias Bradford, Larry Ollins, and his cousin Calvin Ollins were arrested and falsely convicted as teens in the abduction, rape, and murder of a woman. Advanced DNA testing more than a decade later cleared all four. Foxx's opponent, former prosecutor Patrick O'Brien led the frame-up. 

Along with the black city mayors, the law-and-order Republicans' main target has been Cook County States Attorney Kim Foxx. Foxx is currently locked in a close campaign battle with Republican great-white-hope former prosecutor Patrick O'Brien who has attacked Foxx for being "soft on crime," particularly in her handling of the Jussie Smollett case, as a centerpiece of his campaign. 

But it was O'Brien who led a Barr-like charge in a rushed effort to convict four West Side teenagers on trumped-up rape and murder charges more than 30 years ago. It is clear now that torture was used in obtaining a confession that led to their false conviction.

All. four were cleared by DNA evidence after a decade in prison. 


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

LABOR DAY WEEKEND QUOTABLES

Students at Hawthorne Scholastic Academic on Chicago's North Side picked up supplies to use at home in the waning days of summer vacation. Remote classes for Chicago Public Schools students begin today. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
CPS parent
“I seriously want to cry. … There is NO WAY he can be online all day like this. It isn’t possible.” A teacher responded: “Believe me, teachers are crying too.” -- WBEZ
Diane Ravitch
 I am a proud anti-fascist. Are you? -- Blog
Robert Reich
No other developed nation has nearly the inequities found in the US, even though all have been exposed to the same forces of globalization and technological change. -- Guardian
Donald Trump
...says his appointed Pentagon brass "want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy." -- WH Press Conference 
Columnist Eugene Robinson
 Trump’s message to Whites is unmistakable: Be afraid. Those people — you know who I mean — are trying to take over your country. I will stop them. All of this is nothing less than undisguised white supremacy. -- Washington Post
Senior administration official
“The president means no disrespect to our troops; it’s just that the way he speaks, he can sound like an asshole sometimes." -- Daily Beast

Monday, August 31, 2020

Violent confrontations part of Trump's game plan for holding power

Right-wing armed militiamen takes to the streets in Portland. 
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to denounce armed vigilantes taking to the streets during at today's press briefing. Asked if the White House believes that citizens should stop showing up in cities, especially ones they don’t live in, with weapons to protect buildings, McEnany didn’t directly answer. -- CNN
Trump's inciting violence, including his lauding right-wing gun thugs as "patriots", isn't necessarily about winning the election. Polls indicate that Trump's approval numbers are still dropping even as mass support for ongoing protests is waning (61% in June to 48% in August) and that his standing in the polls has worsened amid outbreaks of violence and his chances of winning a normal, traditional election may be growing slimmer. 

But that doesn't mean that ongoing violent confrontations and street battles aren't feeding Trumpism or playing to Republican hands.

Jeet Heer, writing today in The Nation, surmises that
Aside from the obvious political advantage Trump is trying to extract, his incitement of violence serves another purpose that goes beyond simple electoral calculation. Trump is trying to make the United States ungovernable in order to rob his political foes of any meaningful victory.
Inciting violence is Trump’s Samson option. Like the biblical hero who famously brought the Philistine temple down on his head, Trump would prefer that everything collapse around him rather than to surrender.
But his encouragement for increased violent confrontations can be more than a testimony to DT's personal narcissism and racism. It may also be part of the Republican strategy for holding onto power in the face of a predictable electoral defeat or as an excuse for suppressing the vote through intimidation and even cancelling the election and maintaining control of the state apparatus indefinitely, ie. a coup d'etat.

America's most senior general, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, told members of Congress the other day, that the military wouldn't play a role in November's election and won't help settle any disputes if the results are contested. But the very fact that Milley felt compelled to make such a statement shows the pressure for intervention is there.

Furthermore, Trump has shown that he doesn't need or necessarily want official military or "deep state" backing for any extra-constitutional moves. He has in place his loyal (he assumes) white supremacist militia groups like the kind we currently see in Kenosha plus trained paramilitary and mercenary groups at the ready thanks to his relationship with Betsy DeVos' brother and Blackwater founder, Erik Prince.

It may well be that it's Joe Biden and the Democrats who will need Milley's help if they win in November, rather than the MAGAs.

Biden during a June interview on The Daily Show when he was asked what would happen should Trump resist leaving office after an election defeat. His response:
"I promise you, I'm absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch," Biden said, referring to the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Me, I'm not so sure.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

The streets of Kenosha

Demonstrators pray while protesting the police shooting where an unarmed black man was shot several times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 
The Sheriff of Kenosha claims to have never seen the video of Jacob Blake being shot seven times in the back by his police officers. If he's not lying -- which he is -- he's the only living soul who hasn't seen it.

To those who are critical of NBAers and WNBAers for going back to work after a one-day wildcat strike, forget it. Especially WNBA sparked an unprecedented movement against racism in the sports community. The real question is, why didn't organized labor join them in their walkout?

Trump's gun thugs.
Here's an excellent NYT piece on white supremacist Stephen Miller, the man behind this week's RNC attempt to conjure up a “radical left” hellscape.

What's up with more stupid provocative shit on CTU's Twitter pages?

This the latest one showing union support for performance artists pretending to behead Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos via guillotine. Union r&f will have to figure out if this messaging speaks for them. So far, CTU critics are being attacked on Twitter as "Bezos lovers".

I'm guessing WaPo hater, Pres. Trump is smiling at the idea of assassinating Bezos as soon as he finishes using that guillotine on the union leadership itself. That's probably why AFT Prez Randi Weingarten had no choice but to come out openly and criticize the tweet. I doubt that Randi really believes Sharkey and Gates favor guillotining at this time and I'm sure she will pull her critical tweet if she hasn't already. But at a time when the streets of Kenosha and other cities are filled with gun thugs, it's probably not the time for more misdirected, pro-violence messaging, especially from union leaders.

No doubt Bezos is a rich prick. He's one of a small group of billionaires that has amassed billions more in personal wealth during the pandemic. But this isn't just about him. It's also about us.


What I'm reading...


Here are two books that may help guide you through these difficult times. The first City Schools and the American Dream 2, by Pedro Noguera and Esa Syeed is hot off the press and offers up a valuable tool for educators trying to rethink schooling and school reform in the post-pandemic era. The book combines some solid sociological study with practical lessons from urban schools that have taken on racism and social inequality the right way.

The second is Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community” by Dr. Martin Luther King, which was the last book MLK penned before his assassination in 1968. It's a series of essays in which he makes clear that he was neither a Marxist nor a doctrinaire socialist; he instead advocates for a united social movement around radical reforms such as a guaranteed income.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Education on the brink, but missing from Biden/Harris speeches


The topic of education was, unfortunately, MIA from the main convention speeches. It barely came up in either the Kamala Harris or Joe Biden speech. This at a time when public ed has been pushed to the brink, not only by the pandemic but by the current administration's response to it and should be a central issue in the campaign.

I'm not sure where party platforms go after elections, but the draft Party Platform does have some good stuff in it. There doesn't seem to be any big changes in it from the 2016 Platform, but it's still a hell of a lot better than the Republicans'. Plus the idea of sending Betsy DeVos packing has my heart aflutter.

From the Platform...
As Democrats, we believe that education is a critical public good—not a commodity—and that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that every child, everywhere, is able to receive a world-class education that enables them to lead meaningful lives, no matter their race, ZIP code, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or household income.
On the pandemic...
The emergency conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic have vividly demonstrated to parents, students, and educators across the country that there is no sustainable, long-term substitute for high-quality, in-classroom learning. Significant gaps in access to technology, including lack of access to high-speed broadband, have deepened inequities in our educational system for students of color, students with disabilities, and students in rural areas and under-resourced neighborhoods during this pandemic. We will need increased investments in public education to help students get back on track when public health experts determine it is safe to return to schools. 
On charter schools and vouchers...
Democrats believe that education is a public good and should not be saddled with a private profit motive, which is why we will ban for-profit private charter businesses from receiving federal funding...And Democrats oppose private school vouchers and other policies that divert taxpayer-funded resources away from the public school system.
On testing...
The evidence from nearly two decades of education reforms that hinge on standardized test scores shows clearly that high-stakes testing has not led to enough improvement in outcomes for students or for schools, and can lead to discrimination against students, particularly students with disabilities, students of color, low-income students, and English language learners. Democrats will work to end the use of such high-stakes tests and encourage states to develop reliable, continuous, evidence-based approaches to student assessment that rely on multiple and holistic measures that better represent student achievement. Those measures will be supported by data collection and analysis disaggregated by race, gender, disability status, and other important variables, to identify disparities in educational equity, access, and outcomes.
It will be up to us to demand adherence and accountability from a hopefully new regime.

Friday, August 21, 2020

United front against Trump doesn't mean struggle ends.

"Ella Baker, a giant of the civil rights movement, left us with this wisdom: Give people light and they will find a way." -- Joe Biden 
"You and I cannot be free in America or anywhere else where there is capitalism and imperialism." --  Ella Baker, Puerto Rico Solidarity Rally 1974

Yes, I was captivated as usual by the Obama speeches and deeply moved by Kamala Harris' personal story and will definitely try to beat my brother Fred to the polls this time around to vote the anti-Trump ticket from top to bottom.

Although you might not have gotten this from the convention's singular focus on Biden/Harris, we also need to get out the vote for congressional candidates and take back the Senate if we are to begin undoing the damage Trump's regime has caused. My hunch is, congressional candidates weren't getting much play at the DNC so as not to offend or scare away the anti-Trump Republicans.

It's pretty clear that a united-front strategy -- all hands on deck -- is the right one to take down Trump in November even though it leaves some ("they're all the same") ultra-lefties grumpy and feeling betrayed by their base. But it's also important to remember that even within a united front, struggle goes on. Without that struggle -- and there is room for struggle -- the tone of the Democratic Convention would have been far different and minus progressive voices that made it through Nancy Pelosi's loyalty screen.

It seemed almost pro forma for convention speakers to tip their hat to SNCC '60s freedom fighters at the start of every speech. It shows how much the national BLM protests have forced the party leftward in order to maintain its credibility with labor, immigrants, and younger Black and Latinx voters and how much today's Democratic Party leaders like Harris (admittedly) have to stand on the shoulders of their Black Freedom Movement forerunners.
And these women inspired us to pick up the torch, and fight on. Women like Mary Church Terrell and Mary McCleod Bethune. Fannie Lou Hamer and Diane Nash. Constance Baker Motley and the great Shirley Chisholm. -- Kamala Harris speech
Despite all the civil-rights chatter, it became pretty clear that Pelosi's right-center conception of the anti-Trump united front is far different from ours. Hers is essentially a Kasich/Clinton/Obama coalition that even welcomes with open arms, union-busters, Pentagon and NRA faves, global-warming deniers, right-to-lifers, and neocon Republicans while keeping progressive and left-leaning Democrats at arm's length or out the door completely.

I know, AOC got her minute in the sun (and a powerful minute it was) and Bernie Sanders is too legit to quit. But I'm amazed, though not really surprised to see even loyal progressive Texas Democrats like Julian Castro and Beto O'Rourke, let alone Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib getting short shrift at the DNC. Remember Omar and Tlaib are big-time vote-getters and election winners in crucial swing states MI and MN.

Yet, Pelosi, Biden, and other Dem leaders feel compelled to attack them and other Squad members publicly and are, hopefully unsuccessfully, backing machine pols against them in local primaries. Case in point is Pelosi's recent endorsement of Rep. Joe Kennedy III in a primary challenge against progressive Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey.

The struggle continues

Friday, August 14, 2020

After the broken glass has been swept


Looting... An inevitable, spontaneous reaction to the widening wealth and racial inequality gap which has been expanding at a record pace globally during the COVID pandemic.

Sunday night, there was another police shooting of a young black man in Englewood. The details of the shooting weren't immediately clear and still aren't. Why not? The cops weren't wearing their body cameras in clear violation of the federally imposed reform consent decree. CPD claimed it was because of "budget constraints". What a load of crap? Rumors about the shooting spread. Things got hot and carloads of people headed to the Miracle Mile to voice their anger.

Yes, the community is frustrated, they’re demanding reform and, sadly, some people are looting.

But loot-pillage-and-burn is more the strategy of  Donald Trump and his grifter family than that of the urban poor and working class. Just take as an example, his move yesterday to loot the U.S. postal service of $25 billion rather than give COVID-free voters a chance to remove him from office.

Looting has never been the way of the Freedom Movement as the Rev. Jesse Jackson reminded us, and it's somewhat disheartening to hear a young, movement militant holding forth in front of the TV cameras, dangerously (to themselves) calling on people to "take anything they wanted to take" and rendering looting more profound by describing it as "reparations."

Predictably, fascist FOP President John Catanzara was armed and ready with a hand-delivered  letter to U.S. Attorney John Lausch's office at the Dirksen Federal Building Thursday morning, asking the federal prosecutors to step in to pursue charges against "looters" meaning the BLM protest leaders. I'm sure Catanzara's pals, Trump and Atty. Gen. Barr are ready to comply.

Catanzara obviously wants to misdirect fire away from the police violence which set off this unprecedented wave nationwide protests in the first place, and onto Mayor Lightfoot and State's Attorney Foxx for supposedly "letting suspects cycle through the system without consequences."

Currently, a gaggle of downtown business groups, Chicago's corporate media, with the Tribune editors and Crain's Greg Hinz leading the way have joined Cantazara in attacking the city's Black leadership and even threatening elected officials, who he claims have "lost control" of the city. He's ordering them to "do their job" and restore law and order, or else...

Who are these guys?
Hinz expects Lightfoot and Foxx to keep the city's downtown safe for investment, suburbanite shopping, and tourism.
This has to stop. Now. Downtown is the economic hub of the Midwest, with 600,000 jobs, including mine. It’s home to a quarter of a million people. And we are tired of having our neighborhood trashed because our mayor and our state’s attorney can’t seem to control things.
Note the emphasis on "our neighborhood". The people on the south and west sides are tired of life on the bottom as well. But "control" is an illusion under the current conditions. Police or even Trump's federal troops only play their role after the fact and have been the purveyors of violence rather than protectors. Take Portland as an example.

It's also worth remembering that the Mayor and State's Attorney don't just work for your patrons, Mr. Hinz. They're elected officials who ran and won in opposition to your machine candidates.

 Remember, Mayor Lightfoot defeated your law-and-order guy Bill Daley who threatened to put camera-equipped drones on every street corner in Chicago. It was Daley who you proclaimed was, "the best guy for business." Obviously, Chicago communities didn't agree.

Kim Foxx is doing just what she was elected to do. She prosecuting violent crime while reforming the racist mass incarceration policies which have been plaguing Chicago Black and Latino families and communities for decades. To think that looters are looting because of her lowered bail policy is preposterous.

I'm especially glad to see that Foxx and Lightfoot are working it out after their initial falling out following Monday's looting. We need that unity.

According to Politico:
By afternoon, Lightfoot and Foxx were on the phone. During the conversation, they agreed to work together to come up with solutions for moving forward to avoid another night of destruction. It was “a very productive call,” Lightfoot said in a statement.
“They both have to navigate this really complex terrain — with intense scrutiny from every direction — and find a way to get the unrest and violence under control while still executing on the reform agendas they ran on,” Joanna Klonsky, a comms consultant with close ties to both women, told Playbook.
Remember, the Miracle Mile was built by the city's working people who now can't afford to shop in those stores. People will find a way.

Monday, August 10, 2020

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

All school districts across the state of New York are cleared to open, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news conference by phone Friday morning.
Maggie Mulqueen, psychologist
School has never been just about the curriculum. It’s also about students’ health and development...But schools can’t fill those needs while an epidemic is raging. It is quite possible that reopening schools could actually be worse for children. -- Think
Bill Gates
Commercial labs have left customers struggling with long waits, while “very wealthy people have access to these quick-turnaround tests.” -- CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS
Derrick Morgan, on jump in Black gun ownership
“Whether it was fear of a food shortage, lack of a grocery store, the short response times for law enforcement or whether people were just fearful they were going to be attacked, I don’t know,” said Derrick Morgan, national commander of the Black Gun Owners Association, to Politico. -- Black Enterprise
Trump (#OINk)...
...slammed Ocasio-Cortez as “a real beauty” who “knows nothing about the economy.” He singled out policies in her Green New Deal proposal. “She knows as much about the environment — do we have any young children here? — as that young child over there. I think he knows more,” Trump said. -- NY Post

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Did you know there are U.S. soldiers fighting and dying in Africa? Why?

U.S. training combat forces in Africa

It's called AFRICOM. You didn't hear or read much about its secret war in Africa until three years ago when four U.S. soldiers were killed in Niger and earlier this year when Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr., 23, from the Chicago suburb of Hazel Crest was killed in combat in Kenya. But it's a serious and costly imperialist military adventure.

Last week, the Pentagon admitted for the third time that its bombing campaign against terrorist groups in Somalia, which has been underway for more than a decade, had caused civilian casualties there. The U.S. military has carried out more than 180 airstrikes in Somalia since 2017, 42 of them in 2020.

There are currently about 7,500  U.S. troops and 1,000 DoD civilians or contractors (mercenaries) based throughout Africa, who are primarily tasked with training as well as combat missions. Most operate from Camp Lemonnier, a permanent and growing U.S. base in Djibouti, which is used as a staging ground and command center for special operations missions across the continent, The U.S. has another 200 troops in Kenya and roughly 100 "nonuniformed personnel".

AFRICOM'S self-proclaimed mission?
U.S. Africa Command, with partners, counters transnational threats and malign actors, strengthens security forces and responds to crises in order to advance U.S. national interests and promote regional security, stability, and prosperity.
But AFRICOM's unstated purpose also has to do with U.S. global strategic contention with Russia and China than it does with fighting terrorism. China now has 52 embassies in Africa — a 24 percent increase from 2012.

AFRICOM didn't start with Trump's administration but goes back to Clinton in the late 90s and was escalated by Bush and then Pres. Obama in 2004. Trump, with his "America First" approach to foreign policy, has actually been committed to a 10% "drawdown" of troops on the African continent despite the objection of hawks like John Bolton and Steve Bannon.

U.S. military adventures in Africa will likely continue and increase under a hawkish, anti-China Biden administration especially with Susan Rice or Tammy Duckworth as his V.P. or in a key foreign policy position.

Even though congress willingly surrendered its constitutional war powers back during the Korean and Vietnam "conflicts", it still oversees the gigantic Pentagon budget and gladly funds foreign military adventures like the current ones in Africa, regardless of the consequences here at home and without any public debate.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

CPS made the right decision but big challenges remain


After floating a plan for a mix of in-person and remote learning, the mayor and CPS made the right decision by starting the Chicago school year with remote learning only. It was a decision driven by rising coronavirus numbers along with resistance to an opening from the CTU and many parents. It's also a decision that may save some lives and prevent fewer COVID casualties.

According to Sarah Karp at WBEZ:
The announcement also comes amid rising COVID-19 cases in Chicago. The district said a move to remote learning was dependent on whether the Chicago Department of Public Health determined COVID-19 cases weren’t under control. Though the city hasn’t surpassed those benchmarks, there is growing concern Chicago will reach them before too long. 
Now, Chicago parents and teachers will be looking to Chicago Public Schools to put forth a robust remote learning plan.
The initial hybrid plan would have rotated students into buildings two days a week for in-person classes. But CPS officials also said all along that the plan was "preliminary" and that they wouldn’t reopen schools unless it’s safe to do so. That determination has now been made.

But keeping schools closed for the next few months doesn't even begin to deal with either the immediate or long-term educational or health issues created by the pandemic.

There are some immediate measures that CPS, together with the teachers and other stakeholders, can and must take to take to ensure that internet access, along with adequate nutrition and healthcare is available to all of its nearly 400,000 students. The needs of thousands of homeless children have to be met along with those students with special needs, mental health issues, and physical challenges. A daunting, if not impossible challenge with only weeks to plan.

I'm not sure a "robust remote learning plan" can even be considered a real thing under these conditions--without a huge influx of federal dollars and supports which aren't likely under Trump/DeVos.

Then there are some in leadership at CPS who think a robust remote learning plan means returning to the same old sorting, tracking, and testing system that failed so many students in the past, only doing it remotely.

According to WBEZ's Kate Grossman on FB:
Chicago Schools CEO Janice Jackson announced that every teacher would provide live instruction every school day. The district also will return to its regular grading system, with all students receiving letter grades. 
I know a better plan can be produced, but it can't be done without a close working relationship between CTU leaders and Mayor Lightfoot. There's lots of divisive, sectarian baggage to be shed if such a relationship is to become a reality. Time is running out. But it can happen.

It seems to be happening in L.A. where L.A. Unified and the teachers union reached a tentative agreement Sunday night on procedures for distance instruction in the fall. Details to come. Now New York remains as the only one among the big 3 cities still moving forward with face-to-face teaching.

I was slightly encouraged to read what seemed like an olive branch being extended by CTU Pres. Jesse Sharkey today. His tone towards the mayor was hostile and divisive as ever yesterday:
 “The mayor does not have the guts to close schools,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said Monday. “They’re putting it on us to close the schools. That’s what we feel like is happening.”
But today, Sharkey was congratulating the mayor for "being willing to listen to the concerns of families, educators, community groups and health professionals."
A good sign if I'm reading it right. We'll see.

Until the pandemic is under control and Trump and the Republicans are out of the White House and Congress, local school districts will be faced with lots of bad choices, like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

On the bright side is the movement in the streets, unprecedented ferment from below which has always been the key force behind progress in this country. Without this ferment, our vision of education and social transformation remains limited to maintaining the status quo or empty reforms.

Monday, August 3, 2020

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

OKC Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite a threat from GOP state lawmaker 


Nikole Hannah-Jones on Bill Clinton's hit on Kwame Ture
Literally cringed. Stokley was radicalized differently after getting arrested for the 27th time fighting for civil rights in Greenwood. He decided from then on if white people hit him, he was going to hit back... One can eulogize Congressman John Lewis without demonizing other freedom fighters you didn’t agree with. -- The Grio
Hasan Kwame Jeffries
This mischaracterization of Carmichael serves a purpose. It allows people to dismiss his critique of America. -- Washington Post Op-ed
IL Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton
 “What would any of us want for our own children if they had to go to a facility like this? Do we want them in large, cinder block warehouses? Or would we want our children to be in home-like or dorm-like facilities?” Stratton said in explaining the “my child standard.” -- Chicago Tribune
Rev. William Barber and Bernice King
Removing monuments is the easy part. We must make America a real democracy... In fact, many who support flags and statues coming down today also advocate voter suppression, attack healthcare and re-segregate our schools. -- Guardian

Ben Zimmer, contributing writer
The political play here is not hard to decipher. Trump feels he needs to portray “the suburbs” as under an imminent threat to provoke racist fears among white voters. -- The Atlantic
Rep. Raúl Grijalva after testing positive for COVID-19 
“While I cannot blame anyone directly for this, this week has shown that there are some members of Congress who fail to take this crisis seriously,” he said. “Numerous Republican members routinely strut around the Capitol without a mask to selfishly make a political statement at the expense of their colleagues, staff, and their families.” -- 
Guardian
Celtics guard, Jaylen Brown

Friday, July 31, 2020

The kind of testing we need


I went and got tested at one of the many free, drive-through, city-run, partnership testing centers. How great to be in a city where tests are free and available to all. Thanks, Mayor Lightfoot, for your leadership on this front and for making sure that the city has enough test kits.  

It was an easy process -- mouth swab instead of nasal poke -- without a doctor's prescription. The last point is important since so many people lack health insurance and can't afford to see a doctor. If there was ever a case to be made for Medicare For All, this horrific pandemic makes the case.

The best part was getting my negative (no COVID) test results back within 48 hours. The private clinics and testing sites offered 5-7 day returns.

You will rarely hear me say this, but Bill Gates is right on this one. Most U.S. coronavirus tests are a “complete waste” because it takes so long to get results in time for people to self-isolate once they find out they have the virus. 

It's borderline criminal... that both presidential candidates, as well as the leadership of our teacher unions, stand opposed to MFA even as reported U.S. COVID-19 cases top 4.5M and with deaths exceeding 154,000. Why are Democrats and some union leaders so wedded to job-based insurance at a time of record-high unemployment?

A Medicare for All amendment advanced in the DNC's platform committee by Bernie Sanders supporters was rejected overwhelmingly on Monday, garnering just 36 “yes,” versus 125 “no,” votes from a committee dominated by Biden backers. Proposals to lower the Medicare eligibility age and expand access for children were also rejected.

Wow!

But some delegates who support Medicare for All aren’t satisfied. As of Monday afternoon, more than 600 delegates had signed onto a pledge to vote against the party platform if it doesn’t support a Medicare for All system.

Monday, July 27, 2020

WEEKEND QUOTABLES



Congressman Chuy Garcia
“Your tactics and your troops are not welcome in Chicago. Don’t even think about trying what you did in Portland in Chicago. Not here, not ever, not on our watch." -- CBS2
Philly Dist. Atty. Larry Krasner
Trump Is a “Wannabe Fascist.” I Will Charge His Agents If They Break Law. -- Democracy Now
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
 "Well, I have said it before and I will say it again, no troops, no agents that are coming in outside of our knowledge, notification, and control that are violating people's constitutional rights." -- Business Insider
Elon Musk, ravings of an imperialist


Thursday, July 23, 2020

A Paper Tiger

Critics said the president is testing out heavy-handed enforcement in Portland, a largely white city known as one of the most progressive in the nation, before moving on to more diverse cities. -- USA Today
Donald Trump is a paper tiger, meaning he's dangerous but weak. He's also at times, our best organizer. Sending his shock troops into Portland failed in its stated purpose but helped unify the city behind the protest movement which led to a resounding victory last night.

Current polls have Trump looking like a loser in November. Not just him but down-ticket Republicans as well. Control of the Senate is now up for grabs. He's not only running behind in the midwest battleground states, but he's being challenged and even falling behind in his own base areas like Texas.

Once several of his Republican allies started peeling off, his response has been to pretty much abandon all democratic means and resort to open violence and intimidation, flailing about wildly, and directing his point of attack directly at the growing protest movement and at the Democrats' base in the cities where the movement has taken its greatest hold. All that's just made things worse for him.

He's failed miserably at painting all opposition forces as "radical leftists", "anarchists", and "terrorists." His threats to use of federal storm troopers to "dominate" the protesters and exact retribution have come up empty.
"You have to dominate or you'll look like a bunch of jerks, you have to arrest and try people," the President told the governors in a June call from the basement White House Situation Room, according to an audio recording of the call obtained by CNN.
But far from dominating, his threats have fallen flat and have only broadened the resistance of local mayors and state officials and made him look even weaker. After being overwhelmed by militant protesters and the wall of moms in Portland last night, Trump's shock troops retreated back to their federal building fortress, but not before gassing the crowd which included Mayor Ted Wheeler who had joined protesters in the streets.

Wall of Moms
Wheeler, a Democrat, was among the 15 mayors, including Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, Bottoms of Atlanta, and Bowser of D.C. who wrote an open letter to the Dept. of Justice on Wednesday in which they condemned Trump for an “abuse of power” in deploying federal forces in cities.

After last night's setback in the streets of Portland, Trump made a call to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. A contrite-sounding Trump walked back his threat to send troops into Chicago.

Philly's progressive D.A. Larry Krasner echoed the mayors, agreeing to work cooperatively with federal officials but threatening to have uninvited Trump shock troops arrested if they attacked protesters
Finally, Trump is even implying that he may not leave office when he loses the election. It would give me great pleasure to be among the grand army of citizens that escorts him and his grifter family from the White House.

Monday, July 20, 2020

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

Trump's federal cops descend on Portland. Chicago is next. 
Nearly two dozen lawmakers blasted Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara's letter in a joint statement Sunday.
"We resoundingly condemn FOP President John Catanzara's request that President Trump intervene in Chicago. This is a blatant attempt to instigate further violence against the young people who are leading the fight for real safety and justice in Chicago, and is particularly frightening given the situation in Portland, where unidentified federal agents have been throwing protestors into unmarked vehicles," the elected officials' statement said. "Yet as terrifying as the reports from Portland are, we must situate Catanzara's letter in the Chicago Police Department's own history of civilian torture and kidnappings. We stand with the organizers and activists who have called for an immediate end to such practices by the CPD, and the closure of Homan Square and all CPD black sites." -- ABC7
Trump tells Chris Wallace...
“I'm not losing, because those are fake polls."Not only did Trump deny the hard data, he also refused to say if he will accept the result of November’s presidential election if he comes out the loser.
“I have to see,” he said. “Look … I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no..." -- Fox News Sunday

Joe Biden
...called on Congress to provide billions of dollars in emergency funding for school districts, which say they cannot openly safely without federal assistance to make the changes necessary and purchase enough protective equipment.
“If we do this wrong, we will put lives at risk and set our economy and our country back,” Biden said in the video. -- Washington Post
Rep. Al Green (D-TX)
"America's race problem demands radical solutions like a Department of Reconciliation." -- Think
Prof. Nathaniel Persily, Stanford Law School
 It’s Not Too Late to Save the 2020 Election. Avoiding a debacle for U.S. democracy will require getting as many Americans as possible to vote by mail and ensuring that polling places are safe, convenient, and plentiful. -- Wall Street Journal
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
“Mark Curran’s public attack on John Lewis just days after his death is disgusting. To disparage Congressman Lewis, a truly selfless hero and relentless fighter for civil rights and equality is a new low for Curran. It is time for responsible Illinois Republican Party leaders to clearly repudiate Curran’s hateful rhetoric.” -- NBC5