In case you missed it. Here's Friday's #HittingLeft #91 with Andrea Dymond and Diana Vallera (Prexy Nesbitt was stuck in transport) from Columbia College Faculty Union. Could strike in the spring. Catch the podcast here.

Monday, December 10, 2018


A meeting held Sunday at a packed auditorium at CTU headquarters had
the vibe of a victory rally. Several dozen union members sang and
performed a dance onstage swapping the words to the popular “Baby
Shark” song with verses such as “fair contract,” “smaller class” and
“we just won.”
CTU Prez Jesse Sharkey
“Across the country, we were told that education is the key to the future, but then we saw political leaders starve our schools, keep resources out of the classroom. We’ve seen taxes cut so wealthy people can have tax breaks, teacher pay stagnate while class sizes skyrocket, classes become bare-bones and not get the resources they need. We’ve seen people take to the street across the country to protest against that, and now it’s coming to the charter industry too. It’s about time.” -- USA Today
Katie Cannady, Acero kindergarten teacher 
“Why do we think it’s okay to expect teachers in one part of the city to work for this amount and teachers in another part of the city to work for different amount and then expect us to have the same results under very different working conditions?” -- USA Today
Martha Baumgarten, a fifth-grade teacher at Acero’s Carlos Fuentes Elementary School and a member of the bargaining team. 
“They’ve been crying broke, when in fact they’re flush with cash." -- Salon
Prof. Timuel Black
Lonnie Bunch on Tim Black's 100th birthday
“What is really important to me, is that Tim is also the keeper of the flame. He keeps the history of black Chicago alive, reminding us that civil rights is an ongoing struggle." -- Timuel Black — historian, civil rights activist, griot
Head of IL legislative Progressive Caucus, Rep. Will Guzzardi
Recently threw down an online gauntlet about how Illinois “must not” follow the lead of Colorado Democrats, who after taking over their state’s legislature have now signaled that they’ll be more open to negotiations with the business community. 
“People elected us because we said we'd make their lives better. Raise their wages, provide decent benefits, make college and healthcare more affordable, etc. We ran on this. We won. And now... we run away? If so, why vote for us at all?” -- Rich Miller in The Southern
State Dept. Spokesman on US opposing UN global warming report
 “The United States was willing to note the report and express appreciation to the scientists who developed it, but not to welcome it, as that would denote endorsement of the report. As we have made clear in the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and other bodies, the United States has not endorsed the findings of the report.” -- Washington Post

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Rahm and his schools CEO try and sell their discredited reforms in D.C.

Image result for rahm on education america

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is so discredited on his education and policing policies that he's been forced out of a re-election bid. But that didn't stop him and his ever-faithful schools CEO Janice Jackson from putting in an appearance in D.C. on WaPo's Education in America forum recently to spread the good news about all things terrific going on in Chicago's public schools.

Jackson offered a few comments when she could get a word in, but it was obvious that Rahm had her there as window dressing.

Was there any discussion of the regime's continuing disastrous mass school-closings policy mostly in underserved black communities, or the dramatic plunge in CPS enrollment during Rahm's tenure? Glad you asked. No.

District officials report a loss of 10,000 students since the last school year, one of the largest single-year declines in more than a decade. In the last three years, 31,000 students have ghosted CPS classrooms. But the Post's Jonathan Capehart never asked about that.

But he did ask Rahm about his closed-door meeting with Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos. At first, Rahm and Jackson giggled as if trying to distance themselves from the right-wing buffoon who currently occupies the D.O.E. That was followed by a seemingly unending speed rap about all the great ed initiatives flowing out of the 5th floor at City Hall; i.e. longer school days, not allowing "failure," onus on the principal, full-day Pre-K and free community college (if you get B's on your report card)...and the list goes on.
"We explained to her [DeVos\ that this was not about choice, but about quality...", Rahm assured Capehart, as if he actually believed it.
As we later learned, the secret Rahm/DeVos meeting was ALL about "choice," meaning Rahm's willingness to push a school voucher program into Chicago in exchange for federal dollars and a release by Republican Gov. Rauner of the state's school budget.

But Rahm's cover was blown when the Sun-Times got hold of his emails through an FOIA request. It turned out that Cardinal Blase Cupich had emailed the mayor after learning that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was scheduling meetings with big-city mayors on Trump administration education priorities.
“I am personally interested in the proposal to fund a $20 billion federal education tax credit as part of the federal tax reform. I am convinced that this could be an enormous boost to the Chicago schools and the thousands of parents who use our [Catholic] schools,” Cupich wrote. “I am grateful that you understand the importance of school choice for poor families who see this as a viable way for the family to move out of poverty.”
The "tax credit" for the state's wealthiest turned out to be a voucher program to benefit Catholic and other private schools at the expense of public school students.

In his letter to Rahm, Cupich laid out the rationale that moved Rahm and the Democrats to support the bill. He claimed that by enticing students and families out of CPS, Rahm would save taxpayers $1 billion a year through lower public school enrollment. By extension, one can only imagine how much money taxpayers would save by getting rid of public education entirely. Zero students, zero cost per/student to taxpayers.

Who would have thought that blue state Illinois would become the showpiece for DeVos' "school choice" agenda?

I shouldn't have implied that Capehart never mentioned school closings. He did ask Rahm if the community's negative response to the closings accounted for him not running for a third term. Rahm did his usual. "Do I look like someone who runs from a challenge?... No, I just wanted to spend more time with Amy and the kids." OK.

More to come on this. Stay tuned

Monday, December 3, 2018


Susan Klonsky introduces Timuel Black at Sunday's event. 

First Unitarian Church of Chicago honors Timuel Black
But we are not in church this morning to memorialize a man still with us, nor to place him on a pedestal out of reach. Timuel is a teacher, always, and the teacher’s work with students is perpetually to say: "You can do this, too." -- At Sunday's event
Chance the Rapper
 It’s not too late for CPS to make the right decision and change course. This moment could set a precedent for future school closings and end the displacement in education that has plagued CPS history. In the fight for equal education, it is imperative that we all stand with NTA. -- Chicago Tribune
Chicago police officer Dora Fontaine
“They asked me if it would be better [for me] to come in” and work a desk, she testified. “Other officers were calling me a rat, a snitch and a traitor and saying that they wouldn’t back me up.” -- Sun-Times
Michelle Obama
 "And it’s not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn’t work all the time.” -- New York Magazine
Chicago mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot
 “It seems all these other folks are running for cover and don’t want to talk about [Ald. Eddie Burke] but frankly, that underscores the fact that we’ve got different factions of the political machine manifested in Mendoza, Preckwinkle, Daley and Chico and others who don’t want to rock the boat because they are very much wedded to the status quo... It’s telling that they aren’t willing to step up and say, ‘Look, this guy  has been in office way too long, and he's been allowed to amass way too much power.’ ” -- Chicago Tribune
David Leonhardt, NYT opinion piece
But I do know this: American capitalism isn’t working right now. If [corporate CEO] Benton and his fellow postwar executives returned with the same ideas today, they would be branded as socialists. -- When C.E.O.s Cared About America

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Solis to Burke: 'Get out now, while you still can'.

In Chicago, it's often a hare's breath for machine politicians between re-election and prison.

During an appearance on "Chicago Tonight", retiring Ald. Danny Solis (25th) sent a message to Ald. Eddie Burke (14th) encouraging the last of the racist, old-guard cabal that fought Harold Washington, Chicago's first black mayor, to join him in retirement.
“I think he should reconsider” his bid for re-election, Solis told reporter Carol Marin. “You got money, you’ve got a great family, you’ve got grandkids, why do you want to run?”
Feds raid Burke's office
Burke does have money, lots of it. He's made a fortune parlaying his powerful position as head of the city council's finance committee with an enterprising real estate tax avoidance business that has helped the rich and powerful legally cheat the city out of taxes. His biggest client of course, is Donald Trump himself. As for family, his wife is none other than Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.

No sooner had Solis' message been sent, than the FBI was at Burke's office door, clearing out his staff, and papering over his windows while they searched the place for evidence. Evidence about what? Maybe it's tied to the Mueller investigation. Who knows?

By 1:30 p.m., federal agents had left Burke’s ward office with boxes, at least three monitors and what appeared to be a computer. (Tribune)

The point is that maybe after 50 years as a machine kingpin, the law may finally be catching up to Burke as it did with his old co-leader of the anti-Harold cabal, "Fast Eddie" Vrdolyak who did time for tax evasion and is now, once again under federal indictment.

Change is definitely in the air in Burke's heavily-Latino 14th Ward. U.S. Rep.-Elect Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and his allies successfully defeated Burke’s brother, Dan Burke, in a state legislative primary earlier this year. Dan Burke was defeated by high school counselor Aaron Ortiz.

On Thursday, Garcia issued a statement slamming Burke for representing an “impediment to political progress and community empowerment.”

“Make no mistake,” Garcia said. “Ald. Burke is the last bastion of Chicago machine politics.”

Seeing the writing on the wall, Solis has thrown in with Chuy's new Latino political action committee. Burke's days are definitely numbered.

I have a feeling that somewhere, Harold is laughing and resting a little easier today. 

Monday, November 26, 2018


"It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed." -- Elie Wiesel

A barefoot girl in a diaper, from Honduras, part of the migrant caravan in Tijuana, Mexico, cries after US agents in California deployed tear gas across the San Ysidro border. (@Reuters)
It should be far from surprising that U.S. agents fired tear gas Sunday on hundreds of migrants — including toddlers — at a border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico. For almost two years, their boss the president has treated immigrants — both legal and illegal — as something less than worthy of humane treatment. He’s cruelly separated thousands of children from their parents. He’s called immigrants rapists and criminals and residents of “shithole” countries. Most recently, he’s used them as political props to be demonized in an effort to win midterm elections in Congress. -- Charlotte Observer
CTU V.P. Stacy Davis Gates
There are “entire communities in Chicago that were built off the backs of county, city, state, and school workers. It’s clear to me that the next mayor is going to have to have the clarity about investment and the expansion of the public sector for people who need it. Not for people who don’t need it. -- At Chicago Mayoral Forum
 Republican Rep. Mia Love after losing in UT
... sharply criticized President Donald Trump during a concession speech on Monday, saying Trump's vision of the world is "no real relationships, just convenient transactions." -- CNN
FOX News backs up Clinton
Hillary is correct, of course. Angela Merkel’s decision to welcome one million migrants from Syria and other countries became wildly unpopular. -- Hillary Clinton does it again 
Grimoire, Neo-nazi claiming to be an Afghan vet
“I know what it’s like to kill women and children. Being a squad machine gunner in Afghanistan I just sprayed belts of lead at targets, and there were dead women and children in circumstances, sometimes it'd be a kid that started shooting at us in the first place.” -- Vice

Sunday, November 25, 2018

A clean break with Clintonism would be a good start for Democrats on the road to 2020

"I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in." --  Hillary Clinton

Last week on Hitting Left, brother Fred asked me and our guests for our takes on the so-called Democratic "blue wave". I responded that while the midterms represented a big victory for the Democrats, I wouldn't call it a blue wave, but rather an anti-Trump wave.

The wave came primarily from youth, women and people of color, many running or voting for the first time. The Democratic Party leadership had no single unifying or inspiring message or program besides anti-Trump, around which to mobilize voters. Apparently, that was enough in many races and could be again in 2020.

This election sweep was mainly a mass response to Trumpism and the threat his regime represents to democracy, world peace, economic stability and human rights.

Will that wave continue and grow through 2020 and beyond? Most likely, it will. But never underestimate the ability of the Democratic Party leadership to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory like they did in 2000, 2004 and 2016.

Here's one way they could blow it in 2020. The same way they blew it in 2016. Follow the Clinton road again.

Trump sends 6.000 troops to the border with Mexico.
On Thursday, Hillary Clinton, emerged from the woods to dip her toes once more into presidential campaign waters.

In an interview with The Guardian, she urged European leaders to "get tough" on immigration, a la Donald Trump, by sending a message that they will no longer offer “refuge and support” to refugees.

She blamed immigrants fleeing war, violence and oppression in their home countries for "opening the door to political turmoil" and for the rise of the European neo-fascist, anti-immigrant movement. Not to mention, Britain's decision to withdraw from the European Union. A clear case of blaming the victim and putting the cart before the horse.

HC's anti-immigrant warning was first pitched before the United States midterm elections this month. Maybe she was caught short by the overwhelming defeat served up to Trump and his caravan scare tactics. Her appeasement rhetoric however, played right in the hands of Republicans who took a licking in the elections, but who can now quote her when making their anti-immigration pitch and demanding $52B for Trump's wall.

Before Hillary Clinton says another word about shutting the door on refugees in Europe or anywhere else, she and the Democratic leadership should look back on their roles in driving the global refugee crisis, from  support for the invasion of Iraq to the destabilization of Libya and Syria to her backing for the military coup in Honduras.

Aviva Chomsky writes in The Nation:
It was, after all, President Clinton who oversaw the draconian Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. It drastically increased all levels of immigration “enforcement,” enlarging the Border Patrol, criminalizing numerous types of low-level immigration violations, and facilitating and expanding deportation procedures. (A similar emphasis on casting blame on individuals for structural and systemic problems was also at the heart of Clinton’s welfare reform of that same year.)
In many ways, Donald Trump is only reiterating, with more bombast, ideas and policies pioneered under Clinton, that then became a basic part of Barack Obama’s approach to immigration. Those policies drew directly on racist “tough on crime” and anti-terrorism police tactics that also helped foment white racial fears.
Putting the lack of morality of it aside for a moment, Democrats can't win in 2020 by appeasing Trump and by running point for his anti-immigrant platform. A clean break from Clintonism would be a good start down the road to a real blue wave.

Monday, November 19, 2018


Mayoral candidate Bill Daley wants drones everywhere 
 “I’d have as many cameras as we could buy so the people could feel safer wherever they’re at … I’d have a camera on every block in the city if I could.” -- Sun-Times
Chris Wallace to Trump
You’re seen around the world as a 'beacon for repression'. -- The Hill
Stacey Abrams
“Let’s be clear: This is not a speech of concession because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper,” Ms. Abrams said amid a blistering attack on Mr. Kemp’s record as the state’s chief elections regulator and on the balloting process in Georgia. “As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.” -- New York Times 
 Maurice Mitchell, National Director of Working Families Party
...said in an interview that airs today on "Rising" that it is a "misassessment" to say that the Democratic Party moving too far to the left will ultimately hurt its candidates in elections. "I think it's a total misassessment of what's happening. It's less about the politics of the left and the right, and it's more about the politics of the grassroots, versus elite politics.
Cong. Bobby Rush calls for protests over Target closings.
Chatham resident, Malcolm Bonner
...said he no longer wants to fight big businesses to stay in his community. “Forget Target. I don’t understand why we have to fight them to come here, we have to fight them to stay and in 10 years am I going to have to fight them again? I’m tired of having to fight for food, I shouldn’t have to fight for food.” -- Protest planned over Target store closings 
April Simpson, the president of Queensbridge Tenants Association.
“What are they [Amazon HQ2] going to do for the community? Are they going to guarantee us employment opportunities? I’m worried about, when they come, they’re not going to have opportunities for people. Not just people from Queensbridge — but other lower- and middle-income people in this area. That’s why we’re leery about them coming in.” -- New York Times
Retired Adm. William McRaven
McRaven, the former Navy Seal who led the team that killed Osama bin Laden, called Trump's attack on the media "the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime." -- The Hill