Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Trump backs Bost at IL MAGA rally. Guess who else backs him?

Trump holds MAGA rally to boost Bost.

Trump didn't disappoint his favored right-wing candidate Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, who is competing for re-election in a tight race against Dem. Brendon Kelly for Illinois' 12th Congressional seat. Even in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue murders and against the advice of top advisors who who thought it unseemly,  DT couldn't resist another MAGA rally before his adoring deplorables. So he headed down to Murphysboro to give Bost a boost.

And it was here in Southern Illinois, in a race that has big national implications as Dems try and take the House back, that Trump found himself with some strange bedfellows. Also giving Bost and the GOP a boost was the IEA. Yes, that's right, the state teachers union. Bost is one of 10 House Republicans recommended by the National Education Assoc. (NEA) for re-election. Union leaders claim Bost and the other nine are "supporters of public education" and are most likely to win.

But a closer look reveals that Bost is anything but. He is a big and open supporter of privately-run charter schools and school vouchers.  Bost is also behind the state's testing madness and so-called "merit pay" for teachers based on student test scores.

I don't know much about right-centrist Democrat Kelly nor about Randy Auxier, SIU-Carbondale professor and Green Party the Green Party candidate in the race. I can only say Trump's not supporting them, nor is the IEA.

So why the IEA's support for Trump clone on ed issues? Beats the hell out of me -- and not just me. Some IEA members were also astounded. In a letter to the Southern last Thursday, the union members wrote:
“As a congressperson, Bost has been a consistent supporter of the anti-student, anti-education policies of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.” 
The letter says that Bost backed DeVos’ plans to “eliminate loan forgiveness plans for students who have been defrauded by for-profit colleges; to roll back protections for students who are victims of sexual assault on campuses and services for students with disabilities; to shift money away from public education to private schools; and to eliminate programs for teacher training and college prep for economically vulnerable students.”
In response, IEA Vice President Al Llorens, tried to explain away the organization’s decision.
“There are several reasons our members have chosen to support Bost, but most importantly, we support Bost because he supports us,” the statement says.
There you have it. Offer the dog a bone and you can make him roll over.

New York Times poll shows a close race.

Monday, October 29, 2018


We are the people,” Gearah Goldstein said as she opened Sunday’s program in Chicago. “As we stand here together, we must hold love and light in our hearts because those are the forces that will extinguish the darkness and hate that has been called up in our country and around the world.”
Rev. Michael Pfleger, of St. Sabina Church
"When we stand up and when we unite together across all faith lines and race lines, when we do that, we will win.” -- Sun-Times
Progressive Pittsburgh Jewish leaders to Trump: 'Stay away!'
"In our neighbors, Americans, and people worldwide who have reached out to give our community strength, there we find the image of God," the authors write. "While we cannot speak for all Pittsburghers, or even all Jewish Pittsburghers, we know we speak for a diverse and unified group when we say: President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us." -- You can read the full letter here.
David Simon, creator of "The Wire" to Israeli Minister
"Go home. [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s interventions in US politics aided in the election of Donald Trump and his raw and relentless validation of white nationalism and fascism. The American Jewish community is now bleeding at the hands of the Israeli prime minister. And many of us know it." -- Haaretz
President Donald Trump this morning...
 ...attacked the “fake news media” as the “true enemy of the people” following a week of terror and violence in the United States. Five days after a pipe bomb was sent to CNN, a network frequently bashed by the president, Trump tweeted that “inaccurate” reporting is partially to blame for the “great anger in our country.” -- Huffington
Former President Jimmy Carter to Brian Kemp
In Georgia’s upcoming gubernatorial election, popular confidence is threatened not only by the undeniable racial discrimination of the past and the serious questions that the federal courts have raised about the security of Georgia’s voting machines, but also because you are now overseeing the election in which you are a candidate. -- AP

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Closing mental health clinics actually helped patients, claims Rahm's health chief

Dr. Morita
This may surprise you.

I know it will surprise many of the mentally-ill former patients I see wandering our neighborhood streets all day and sleeping under the expressway at night. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's closing of our local mental health clinic as well as more than half the clinics around the city, actually helped the mentally ill. That's right, less is more claims the mayor's public health commish, Dr. Julie Morita in today's Tribune.
“Since then there has been a lot of discussion of the attribution of social ills to the consolidation of the clinics. What we know now … is that because we were able to focus in and provide, we weren’t putting out fires at the 12 clinics, we were actually able to think strategically about what is the mental health system in the city of Chicago?” Morita said.
Isn't it clear? Fewer clinics, fewer fires to put out. Makes sense I suppose, if you're running the fire department. 

Protests against the closings rocked City Hall
And as for all of us who protested the closings (I can still remember Rahm screaming at the protesting public health activists, "You're gonna respect me!") and are still carping about them six years later, well we obviously just failed to see the beauty in the closings of clinics and schools and other public services. Yes, if you squint your eyes a little, austerity is a beautiful thing.  

One of those who fail to see the light is our alderman, Scott Waguespack.
“If you look at what we were asking in the budget the next year, it was essentially, ‘Where did all those people go, and where’s the data to show they made it to another clinic?’” Waguespack said. “So this was a cost-saving measure, a lot of those people ended up on the streets and I have to disagree this was just (a situation where) everybody made it to somewhere else and everybody was A-OK where they ended up.”
More from the Trib:
It’s been an ongoing fight for years. Emanuel closed six city-run clinics with employees who were AFSCME members and instead contracted with four private organizations to provide some of the services. A seventh city clinic later closed as well. The city continues to operate five mental health clinics.
So you see, Dr. Morita is right. The closings were a win-win. The mayor got rid of union jobs and the patients were liberated from their local clinic and are now free to find transportation across town to try and get the help they need from clinicians who are paid less, work longer hours and who are perfect strangers. 

Thank you, Mr. Mayor and Dr. Morita. Don't know why it took me so long to appreciate your brilliance. 

Monday, October 22, 2018


“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." -- Emma Lazarus
Eve Ewing
Language is everything. Since the origin of public schooling in this country there’s never been anything that’s an objective measure of school quality, because communities have always had divergent definitions of what they want their schools to do. -- Chalkbeat interview
Natalie Wexler 
[Arne] Duncan—like many education reformers—resolved to put his faith in “data.” Data may not always give the whole picture, he concluded, but it can “be counted on not to lie.” Or can it? -- Forbes 
Roberta Jacobson, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
Left the Trump administration in May, and writes in the new op-ed that she felt “glad to escape the disorder”..."Believing deeply in the United States-Mexico relationship, I cannot pretend anything less than relief at no longer having to defend the indefensible."-- The Hill
Kina Collins, founder of the Chicago Neighborhood Alliance
“Several of the incumbents … have voted against the self-interest of the people in vulnerable communities. That has got to stop. The next target that we hope to hit is City Council.” -- Laura Washington's column.
John Prine
But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore -- New York Times

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Time for a Deweyan revival

"Democracy needs to be reborn in each generation, and education is its midwife." -- John Dewey
The great American educator and philosopher, John Dewey, was born on this day in 1859. Dewey was the guiding light behind the progressive education movement of the last century and still is, for those of us who still value progressive and democratic ideals and educational practices.

In 1916, John Dewey published “Democracy and Education,” which advocated for placing the child, as opposed to the curriculum, at the center of the classroom. Dewey saw education as a social interaction between children and adults, and believed that knowledge couldn’t simply be given to a child, but that a student must experience something and engage with it to learn.

But today, after decades of No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, and Trump/DeVos, there are only small traces left of Deweyan influence on public school policy. There were brief revivals during the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s (Freedom Schools Citizenship Schools in the south and alternative schools in the north) and then during the Small Schools Movement of the 1990s. But today, those examples and other have been pretty much crushed or co-opted by corporate "reform", testing madness, and privately-run charter schools.

Now in fact, the very survival of public education is in doubt as the hard-won gains of the Civil Rights Movement are being rolled back under the current Dept. of Education and right-wing state governments. Privatization, resegregation and the erosion of all public space and public-decision making mark the current trends in education. Higher education is increasingly an unaffordable commodity for all but the children of the wealthy.  

It's time for a Deweyan democratic revival in school and society. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

'It's Christmas in October' for Rahm's pet alders

 It's Christmas in October for Rahm's toadie, Ald. Moore (L) 
Here's a quiz question for my urban policy students. How much money does it cost to buy a Chicago alderman?

Hint: If old Mayor Richard J. Daley were alive, he's probably answer, around $500 and a pat on the head. His son Richie, Jr. would likely say, $1,000 and a meal at the Park Grill, if they were especially well behaved.

Give up? Today's price, adjusted for inflation? $20K plus bacon and eggs at the 312.   

The Tribune reports: 
Mayor Rahm Emanuel continued his “no friend gets left on the field” tour Wednesday, handing out $20,000 checks to more than two dozen City Council allies to help them get re-elected.
Emanuel hosted a breakfast at the 312 Chicago restaurant across the street from City Hall. Far North Side Ald. Joseph Moore, 49th, said he expected to enjoy a meal and a thank-you speech from the mayor to aldermen who backed Emanuel’s series of property tax hikes and other politically difficult votes.“Christmas in October,” Moore said. “In addition to eggs, potatoes and bacon, we got checks.”
Among those getting bought and gift-wrapped was Ald. Ariel Reboyras, 30th, who’s trying to get re-elected against Jessica Gutierrez, daughter of outgoing U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez. Asked about his backing of Reboyras, Emanuel cited his mantra from his days as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: “No friend gets left on the field.”

Ald. Roboyras 
In all, Emanuel paid out around half a million dollars to friendly aldermen. How nice for them. Not to say that each and every one of them got bought. A few can still claim some independence. For example, several black aldermen voted no in protest of not enough minority contracts being awarded at the airport and still got a breakfast check. Black Caucus leader, Ald. Rod Sawyer, says he is giving his $20K to community groups. Make of that what you will.

But if old man Daley were alive, he'd likely tell Rahm, "you paid too much". To which Rahm would reply: "What the hell. It's not my money."

Next question: Speaking of the Daleys, how much does it cost a billionaire charter school investor to buy a prospective mayor?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Trump's latest fascist rant. More stop-and-frisk for Chicago.

DT has this thing for Chicago. Maybe it's because we ran his ass out of town during the 2016 campaign and he's never been back since. His latest fascist rant is not original. It calls for increased stop-and-frisks on the city's south and west sides as a response to Chicago's gun violence epidemic. Doesn't he know CPD has already been there, done that? And is still doing it.
“The crime spree is a terrible blight on that city,” he said Monday at an International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in Orlando, Florida.
Responding to the murder conviction of Jason Van Dyke for killing Laquan McDonald, Trump added,
“I know the law enforcement people in Chicago, and I know how good they are. They could solve the problem if they were simply allowed to do their job and do their job properly."
Then the blowhard promised that he personally was "going to straighten it out, going to straighten it out fast." But DT had no intention of setting foot back in our city. Instead he ordered his A.G. Sessions to send someone.

That someone should remine DT that while there is a gun-violence problem, there is no "crime spree" in Chicago. In fact, as my friend Marilyn Katz posts on FB this morning:
Chicago is safer now than it was 40 years ago if measured by robberies and homicides. Not great but in the face of sessions and Trump important to remember. 
Marilyn was responding to another one of DT's may rants which blamed immigrants for the supposed rising crime rates. She cites a Marshall Project study that found,
...while the number of immigrants — including those living here illegally — overall in Chicago rose by 73 percent from 1980 to 2016, the city’s violent crime rate fell by 14 percent. The report found that assaults were up 8 percent, but robberies fell by 32 percent and homicides by 18 percent during the time period studied."
Watching his ratings tumble, Gov. Rauner has joined in on Trump's attack on immigrants and blaming them for Chicago's crime rate. He told the Sun-Times editorial board yesterday:
"One of the reasons we have such high unemployment in the city of Chicago and so much crime is the massive number of illegal immigrants here that take jobs away from American citizens and Chicago citizens."
The mayor says he's against Trump's version of stop-and-frisk.
“Even someone as clueless as Donald Trump has to know stop and frisk is simply not the solution to crime,” spokesman Matt McGrath said.
But it was Rahm Emanuel who pushed the largest stop-and-frisk plan in the nation, well after stop-and-frisk had been ruled unconstitutional in N.Y. Rahm has even asked Trump to send in federal reinforcements — in the form of more ATF, DEA and FBI agents — to “take down gang leadership” and stop the “drug trade.”

I take that as an admission that his policy of loading up the city with thousands more cops, is a failure, especially white the flow of guns pours across the Indiana line.

By the summer of 2014, Chicago cops had performed a quarter million stop-and-frisks in just 90 days, without making any arrests. Over 80% of those stops involved black or Hispanic suspects,   Shootings in the city (including those by police) continued to rise at a record pace before the policy was changed.

Stop-and-frisk was proven to be a failed, racist policy.

Monday, October 8, 2018


People celebrate the Office Van Dyke guilty verdict at 71st Street and Jeffery Boulevard on Oct. 5, 2018. (Tribune)

Former Yale Law School Dean Robert Post
"For as long as Kavanaugh sits on the court, he will remain a symbol of partisan anger, a haunting reminder that behind the smiling face of judicial benevolence lies the force of an urgent will to power." -- The Hill
Lone black woman on the Van Dyke jury
“We didn’t come here because of race. We came here for right or wrong.” -- Bock Club Chicago
Emma González
Going up against the country’s largest gun lobby organization was obviously something that needed to be done, but it means that the people we’re arguing against are the ones with the guns. -- New York Times
Taylor Swift
 I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love." -- ABC News
Sen. Chuck Grassley
Asked why women don't serve on the Judiciary Committee, he responded: “It’s a lot of work — maybe they don’t want to do it." -- The Hill 
Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono 
Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono has been quietly continuing her practice of asking every federal judiciary nominee whether they have ever been accused of sexual misconduct for months now. And to anyone who would criticize her for it, or for her other pointed questions about their commitment to civil rights, Hirono has just two words: "F*** them!"  -- Newsweek

Friday, October 5, 2018

Why do so many rapes go unreported? The backlash of white male power.

Standing on the White House lawn, President Trump was talking about the Kavanaugh confirmation fight when he said, quote, "it's a very scary time for young men in America." 
On my way to my Urban School Policy class at Loyola yesterday, I picked up a copy of the campus newspaper and was shaken by the headline. EIGHT RAPES IN DORMS LAST YEAR.

Sixteen of the 18 students in my class are women. Several live in the dorms. Most were surprised that I was shocked by the story. There were probably more than eight, they told me. Many go unreported. Then there are the daily cases of abuse which aren't counted as rape.

I'm not naive, but still visibly shaken as I move ahead with my teaching. I'm processing all this as the Senate prepares to approve Trump's lifetime appointment of  accused sexual assaulter Brett Kavanaugh to to the highest court in the land.

The appointment, I assume is a done deal and has been from the beginning. The hearings and this week's FBI investigation have been a sham, an possibly even a worse case of abuse than Kavanaugh's original offenses against Dr. Ford and others.

The story is no longer just about the Kavanaugh appointment. It's turned into a well-organized revanchist backlash by an angry and desperate conservative, white, male power structure, lashing out against the women accusers and #MeToo and fighting for it's very survival as the midterm elections approach.

Why are so many of the dorm rapes and assaults going unreported? Anyone who watched the hearings or or who heard Trump warning the nation about the trauma faced by the next generation of boys whose lives will likely be ruined by unfounded rape charges, will understand.

I'll be talking about Kavanaugh and more with my daughter and ace political strategist, Joanna Klonsky, today on Hitting Left.

Time for a change.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Will Van Dyke jurors or white male senators break their white 'gentleman's agreement'? Not likely.

Van Dyke & Kavanaugh play the role of victims. 
The prosecutor asked Van Dyke, "Is it your testimony that Laquan never turned his back to you?" Van Dyke answers, "Yes." Prosecutor then asks, "Then how did you shoot him in the back?"
 “We never lost eye contact. Eyes were bugging out, his face was just expressionless,” Van Dyke said, choking up. “He turned his torso towards me . . . He waved the knife from his lower right side upwards across his body towards my left shoulder.” 
“When he did that, what did you do?” defense lawyer Randy Rueckert asked.
“I shot him.”
Jason Van Dyke took the stand yesterday and lied his ass off.  His responses to nearly every question were clearly contradicted by the video -- a video which was withheld from public view by Rahm Emanuel until his election victory was sealed.

His lies, as well as the racist lens through which he viewed his victim, Laquan McDonald,  were there for all to see in this morning's press reports.
Van Dyke: His [Laquan's] face had no expression. His eyes were just bugging out of his head. He had just these huge white eyes, just staring right through me.
 Van Dyke on why he fired 16 shots into Laquan's body: All I could see … I could see him starting to push up, with his left hand, off the ground. I see his left shoulder start to come up. I still see him holding that — that knife with his right hand, not letting go of it. And his eyes are still bugged out. His face has got no expression on it.
Van Dyke: I shot at that knife. I wanted him to get rid of that knife.
Van Dyke: Between the time I stopped shooting and the time I reloaded, the situation had drastically changed... There was no longer a threat by the time I reloaded my weapon and brought it up to the ready position...In those couple of seconds he, um, he had stopped moving.
Despite what amounts to his unsolicited confession, I can't find anyone who thinks Van Dyke will be convicted. The reason? Seven jurors are white. Only one African American on the jury. (How the hell did that happen, prosecutors?) It's hard to imagine all seven (you need all 12 to convict) risking a vote of "guilty" for a white cop murdering a young black man, and then having to go back to their segregated white neighborhoods and face the backlash.

The parallels to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings are obvious, even though Kavanaugh's lies where as transparent as Van Dyke's. The chances of white, male Republican senators violating their centuries-old Gentleman's Agreement and voting "no" on the confirmation are slim to none. This, even after a mini-investigation by the FBI which appears to be a humbug.

The only question left open is, what kind of response will there be from voters in November?

Monday, October 1, 2018


“The new contracts ensure that hotel workers will keep their health care if they’re laid off in the wintertime,” UNITE HERE Local 1, the union representing the striking workers, said in a statement. 
Rebecca Solnit
This has been a truly remarkable decade for movement-building, social change, and deep, profound shifts in ideas, perspective, and frameworks for broad parts of the population (and, of course, backlashes against all those things). -- On Hope in Dark Times
 Weekend Update co-anchor Michael Che
"Typically, when you’re asked about a sexual assault and you’re drinking problem at a job interview, you don’t get the damn job." -- SNL
Peter Greene
 Parents can try to do their due diligence, but part of running a business is doing marketing, and charters are not going to market themselves with phrases like "financially troubled" or "featuring a curriculum made up by unqualified amateurs" or "barely hanging on." -- Forbes
D.T. on Kim Jong Un
 "...And then we fell in love, OK? No, really, he wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. We fell in love.” -- WSJ
CA Sen. Scott Wiener, Net Neutrality law’s author 
“This is a historic day for California. A free and open internet is a cornerstone of 21st century life: our democracy, our economy, our health care and public safety systems, and day-to-day activities." -- Sun-Times