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

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Disinvestment & Gentrification: Two sides of the same racist coin

On yesterday's Hitting Left show, community activists Christian Diaz and Cory Stevenson both agreed. Southside disinvestment and northside gentrification were simply two sides of the same racist coin.

Nowhere is this more evident than in city policies of closing dozens of schools in struggle south and west side communities while opening up new charter and selective enrollment schools on the north side. This tweet from the parent group, Raise Your Hand, brings the contradiction into clear focus.

Cory Stevenson pointed to the impact the closing of two southside Target stores could have on his community and relatives in terms of loss of hundreds of jobs and access to basic needs for families that don't have cars.

The Target store closings are symptomatic of the structural disinvestment and erosion of public space and public decision-making now taking place in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods. This includes the closing of schools, clinics, stores and other city services, making many areas of the city uninhabitable.

While across town, gentrification has created a housing crisis for poor and middle-class, mainly Latino families in neighborhoods like Logan Square. This, according to Diaz, who is the housing organizer at Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA).  LSNA has been organizing community meetings and marches to protest high rents and support affordable housing projects.

While supporting the push for new rent-control laws, Diaz doesn't think current emphasis on lifting the ban on rent-control is the best tactic. "My fear is that we're talking about a campaign that may take 10 years and in the meantime, families are losing their homes and rents are climbing, making affordable housing out of reach."

Instead, LSNA is pushing for a "community land trust" where a nonprofit, community-based organization develops and stewards affordable housing, community gardens, civic buildings, commercial spaces and other community assets on behalf of a community.

Harold died 30 years ago. 
At our holiday family gathering this week, we will take a moment to remember Chicago's greatest mayor, Harold Washington, who suffered a fatal heart attack the day before Thanksgiving 30 years ago. Today the city is more in need of a mayor like Harold, than ever.

Instead, big-money corporatists and old-line machine Democrats have jumped into the race following Rahm Emanuel's departure and they appear to be sucking up all the air and money from the campaign as they try and push out upstart progressives. The shakeout will begin in earnest after Nov. 26, the day that nominating petitions are due. Without a big campaign war chest and paid staff or ward organization to round up the needed 12,500 valid signatures, several of the early runners are likely to drop out. Actually, campaigns really need to collect at least double that amount so they can withstand a challenge.

More on that to come. But for now there two developments in the past week that caught my attention. The craziest came from candidate Bill Daley, who more than all the others, combines the worst of big-money corporatism with old-line machine politics. Daley, trying to outflank former top-cop, Garry McCarthy as the law-and-order candidate, says he wants to have thousands of camera-equipped drones flying over the city.

He tells the Sun-Times:
“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.”
Chicago’s network of 29,000 public and private surveillance cameras is already billed as the largest “federated” system in the nation. But I'll bet there's a Daley family member or close business associate who'd be thrilled to get that drone contract. Kind of like Rahm's red-light camera plan.

The other recent development is the entrance of Susana Mendoza into the race. Mendoza, who has always been viewed suspiciously by progressives as a Rahm/Madigan machine puppet, is now staking out progressive territory and trying to outflank frontrunner Toni Preckwinkle on the left. She promises to stop school closures, including the closing of embattled National Teachers Academy, the re-opening of the clinics closed by Rahm, and support for an elected school board.

You can believe her or not. But for now at least, other candidates will have to respond on these issues.


Monday, November 12, 2018


 "I’m about to lose everything that I own and become homeless," Roundtree said. "I don’t want to be that veteran on the street begging for change because I haven’t received what I was promised." -- Shelley Roundtree, Afghan War vet
 When the guns fell silent in 1918, both victors and vanquished turned against the black and brown men who had fought in what the victory medals then being struck for each allied soldier called “The Great War for Civilisation”.  -- David Olusoga in The Guardian
"If Watergate is algebra, this is calculus. It's one thing to subpoena John Dean. It's another thing to subpoena a Russian oligarch." -- Rep Mike Quigley, Intelligence Committee member
 Sitting next to Emanuel was New Jersey’s former Gov. Chris Christie. “We agree, don’t we, Rahm?” Christie asked at one point. “Don’t tell my mother,” said Emanuel. --MRE on Stephanopoulos show
“I understand why charter schools exist,” said Alessandra Biaggi, who will represent part of the Bronx in the State Senate. “But we’ve got to focus on improving our public schools.” -- New York Times

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Arizona voucher bill defeated by SOS coalition. A great red-state win for teachers.

Gov. Doug Ducey and his Koch brothers network of "dark money" bazillionaires have set their sights on saving Arizona’s expanded voucher law – the one that a grassroots group and 100,000 Arizona voters put on hold last year via referendum. -- Citizen Times
Arizona voters Tuesday, overwhelming rejected, 65%-35%, a massive expansion of the state's private school voucher program which drained millions from public schools and give it to rich parents to fund their kids' private school tuition. A vote for the measure would have removed all preconditions for students to get vouchers. 

Vouchers were first approved in 2011 to provide alternatives for students with special physical or emotional needs that their parents said could not be met at either traditional public or charter schools.

Proposition 305 was placed on Tuesday's ballot through the efforts of grassroots organizers in Save Our Schools Arizona and the more than 100,000 people who signed petitions to block the 2017 expansion championed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, Betsy DeVos and the Koch Bros.  Their goal was nothing less than the total elimination of the state's public school system as we know it. 

According to
All that energized those who contend that vouchers effectively siphon money from public schools, with private schools free to take — or reject — who they want. Organized as “Save Our Schools,” it took advantage of a provision of the Arizona Constitution that holds up enactment of any new law if foes can get 75,321 valid signatures within 90 days after the end of the session, giving voters a chance to ratify or reject the legislative action.
They actually got far more and weathered a legal challenge by voucher supporters who tried to keep the measure off the ballot.
Now we need to do the same thing here in Illinois. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Victories in WI & IL Gov Races leave educators relieved

Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes
Many Illinois and Wisconsin educators are breathing sighs of relief this morning.

Democrats swept the floor clean in yesterday's IL election, tossing one-term governor, Bruce Rauner out on his ear. It was Rauner who used his veto power to hold the state's education budget hostage for nearly three years, relenting only after Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel agreed to bring vouchers into the system. Rauner lost to billionaire J.B. Pritzker and  in the most expensive ($284M) gov's race in history.

Now that boss Mike Madigan has a veto-proof, supermajority in Springfield, Dems have no excuses on adequate school funding, cap on charter expansion and elected school board for Chicago. Let's see if any of that happens.

The victory also means the state will see its first African-American lieutenant governor in state Rep. Juliana Stratton.

In neighboring WI, right-wing bag-'o-crap Gov. Scott Walker was finally given the boot. Walker busted the state's teacher unions and led the assault on the once-great, state university system. It was only right that he lost, in a close race, to Tony Evers, the state's school superintendent and running mate, former state Rep. Mandela Barnes (great name), who will become the state's first African-American lieutenant governor.

The loss probably puts the kibosh on Walker's presidential ambitions. Although who knows?...Republicans elected two congressman facing federal indictments, a dead pimp, and gave 53,000 votes to an open nazi yesterday.
Barnes quote: "We are bringing education back to the state of Wisconsin. We are bringing science back to the state of Wisconsin and we will bring equality back to the state of Wisconsin."
Brother Fred and I will be summing up yesterday's elections Friday on Hitting Left with in-studio guests, Rebecca Sive, author of Vote For Her: A Manifesto, and Cassie Walker-Burke, Chicago bureau chief for Chalkbeat. Tune in at 11 a.m. CT to WLPN 105.5 FM, streaming live at 

Monday, November 5, 2018


Who in the Pritzker campaign thought this was a good look?  (M.Klonsky pic)
“And most importantly, the character of our nation is on the ballot." -- Barack Obama, Yesterday at the UIC Pavilion
So here we are, our time to say what matters, or doesn’t. -- Greg Hinz at Crain's
 If Republicans succeed in polarizing the electorate, they could take advantage of their underlying geographic advantages and hold down their losses in the House and gain seats in the Senate... But a narrow Democratic majority might take weeks to become clear as California and Washington count late mail ballots. -- Nate Cohn, NYT
Yesterday at the Pavilion.
“All we have to do is get out and vote, while it's still legal, and we will wash those crooked warmongers out of the White House.” --Hunter S Thompson (1937-2005)