Friday, December 28, 2018

Klonsky Bros. will return to the air next week

Don Rose
The past two Fridays, the K Bros. were like Trump at a French military cemetery -- No Shows. This time off has been great for our own R&R and especially for badly needed recovery time after my knee replacement surgery last Friday. 

But I guess withdrawal pains can't be handled with opioids so I'm planning on hobbling back to Bridgeport next Friday when Fred and I will be back on air. Our in-studio guest will be the legendary, progressive Chicago political consultant, Don Rose. Among Rose's many attributes was his role as both Dr. Martin Luther King's and Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's press secretary.

We will also take some time to commemorate the life of  another progressive Chicago political strategist, Brian Sleet, who’s death was reported Wednesday. Brian's career, though cut-short at age 41, has been on a path similar to that of Rose's. He was also a friend of Hitting Left, having appeared on the show back in March, 2017 along with my favorite Chicago political strategist and media mover and shaker, Joanna Klonsky. 

The two have worked together on several hot political campaigns over the years, including that of State's Atty. Kim Foxx. Joanna is quoted in today's Trib, paying tribute to Sleet, whose life is being celebrated is many disparate Chicago political circles and all over local social media.
Brian Sleet on Hitting Left, March, 1917.
Close Sleet friend Joanna Klonsky echoed that in an interview, saying he was the sort of man who “would show up for people.”

“If you needed him he would be there, and that really matters in a business that is so often transactional,” Klonsky said.
According to Foxx, without Sleet's sage advice, her own campaign might not have succeeded.
In 2015, Sleet threw his energy into Foxx’s reform campaign. Before she decided to run, Sleet talked with her about how to approach black voters and how to dissect complicated issues. And then he guided her through messaging at a time of high tension and anxiety related to the the police slaying of Laquan McDonald and how it was handled.
“Brian understood and embodied nuance in politics, whereas everybody is about simple messages and simple answers,” Foxx said. “He knew people in the community. With him, I was asking, ‘What do I do? What do I say? How do I navigate this time?’ He was really blunt: ‘You don’t pander. … Walk through this period in your voice, doing the things that make sense for you.’”
Tune in Friday, January 4th, 11-noon at WLPN 105.5 FM in Chicago, streaming live across the globe at

Some shocking news on this gray Chicago morn. Our friend Ben Joravsky has been fired from WCPT, Chicago so-called "Progressive Talk Radio".
According to Mark Pinski, general manager of WCPT,  “Ben did a great job of moving our brand forward, and we want our next host to take us to the next level.” 
I hate to break it to Mr. Pinsky, but Ben was the "next level". You blew it.

Until he lands another paid gig, Benny J is always welcome to sit in with us at Hitting Left.

Monday, December 24, 2018


From Boston Review
Trump on the telephone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
“You know what? It’s yours,” Trump said of Syria. “I’m leaving.” -- WaPo
Texas elementary school speech pathologist, Bahia Amawi
When asked if she considered signing the pledge to preserve her ability to work, Amawi told The Intercept: “Absolutely not. I couldn’t in good conscience do that. If I did, I would not only be betraying Palestinians suffering under an occupation that I believe is unjust and thus, become complicit in their repression, but I’d also be betraying my fellow Americans by enabling violations of our constitutional rights to free speech and to protest peacefully.” -- The Intercept
 N.C. Gov. Roy Carter
“Municipal charter schools set a dangerous precedent that could lead to taxpayer funded re-segregation,” his statement says. -- Charlotte Observer
The Intercept
 To call the First Step Act limited would be an understatement. The legislation would hardly make a dent in America’s mass incarceration problem. --  Commentary

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The new loyalty oath for teachers

From my perspective, academic freedom means that we have the right to engage in public discourse, the right to engage certainly in academic discourse, about issues that are of great importance, both long-term and short-term, both historical issues and current issues, both domestic issues and foreign issues, both popular issues and unpopular issues, and popular ideas and unpopular ideas. -- Marc Lamont Hill
I'm looking back, remembering the McCarthy period and the red scare, when thousands of teachers and other government workers, lost their jobs after being accused of being reds. My own parents were victims of that period.

Back then, teachers were forced to sign loyalty oaths to the United States and the flag. The oaths included swearing that you weren't a communist, socialist or member of any organization or movement opposed to the U.S. government or to the capitalist system.

In many states today, teachers and professors must still take a loyalty oath, but it's usually not as broad, after many 1st Amendment court suits. 

Fast forward and we find teachers and college faculty now being forced to sign a new type of loyalty oath. But this time it's not to the U.S., but to the state of Israel. The new oath includes a promise not to support the boycott movement (BDS) at risk of being fired or worse.

Many have refused to sign, including Bahia Amawi, a children's speech pathologist who has worked for the last nine years with developmentally disabled, autistic, and speech-impaired elementary school students in Austin, Texas. Amawi, an American citizen of Palestinian descent, has been told that she can no longer work with the public school district. A lawsuit on her behalf was filed Monday alleging a violation of her First Amendment right of free speech.

Bahia Amawi,
According to the Intercept,
On August 13, the school district once again offered to extend her contract for another year by sending her essentially the same contract and set of certifications she has received and signed at the end of each year since 2009.
She was prepared to sign her contract renewal until she noticed one new, and extremely significant, addition: a certification she was required to sign pledging that she “does not currently boycott Israel,” that she “will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract,” and that she shall refrain from any action “that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israeli or in an Israel-controlled territory.”
...That’s one extraordinary aspect of this story: The sole political affirmation Texans like Amawi are required to sign in order to work with the school district’s children is one designed to protect not the United States or the children of Texas, but the economic interests of Israel. As Amawi put it to The Intercept: “It’s baffling that they can throw this down our throats and decide to protect another country’s economy versus protecting our constitutional rights.”
The latest assault on our First Amendment rights is not exclusive to Texas, nor to teachers. A few weeks ago, CNN severed its ties to African American Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill after Hill gave a speech at the United Nations supporting Palestinian rights. While the president of Temple University defended has right to free speech, the school’s Board of Trustees has condemned Hill's remarks.

Here in Chicago in 2015, in a shameful display of aldermanic toadyism, the city council unanimously passed -- 50-0 -- Resolution 2015-569 , pushing the Municipal Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago to divest from foreign companies seeking to economically boycott Israel.

That same year the Illinois legislature voted unanimously in favor of a similar bill impacting the state’s pension funds.

The unanimous vote came without a peep of resistance from progressive council members or even from socialist Ald. Carlos Rosa. Rosa, at one time a candidate for Lt. Gov., would later split with his running mate for governor, Daniel Biss over Biss' support for Israel.

Go figure.

I just read a Tribune article from 1996 pointing out that the state's loyalty oath can be traced to Clyde Choate, a former state representative from Anna.

Elected to the state House in 1946, he sponsored legislation creating the oath in 1951 after serving on an anti-communist legislative committee.
It was an anxious time, Choate said. What with the Second Red Scare when China fell, the dividing of Berlin and McCarthy making claims of communists in high government, the threat of the Soviet Union seemed quite real.
"You've got to remember, this is immediately after the cessation of hostilities in World War II. The whole world was extremely conscious of any `ism' other than `Americanism,' " he said.
Choate said he's surprised to hear that the oath still is being given out. In fact, he came to see it as unnecessary and ineffective and tried unsuccessfully to repeal it.
The state loyalty oath in Illinois is now "voluntary". But I'll bet even the late Rep. Choate couldn't have imagined a mandatory loyalty oath to Israel.

Monday, December 17, 2018


Robert Kraig, Wisc. Citizens Action
“We have a political party in the United States that has decided it’s completely OK to hold on to power by reducing the number of people who are voting. It’s fundamentally undemocratic.” -- Guardian
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) 
...summed it up another way: “It’s been a bad week for Individual Number One.” -- WaPo
Gery Chico, Chicago mayoral candidate
Ald. Eddie Burke “has been a friend for years,” Chico wrote, praising the alderman for “cooperating with the current federal investigation.” -- Sun-Times
Carol Burris, veteran educator and public ed advocate
It is time to acknowledge that what may have begun as a sincere attempt to promote innovation has given rise to fraud, discrimination and the depletion of public school funding. Thirty years of charters have resulted in an increase in profiteering far more than it has resulted in innovation. Democratic governance is disappearing. -- Answer Sheet
Nora Murphy, librarian and parent of L.A. school children
I will tell you this, my family will be picketing with my child's teachers because what they are asking for is the bare minimum any school district should provide for its schools, its families, its students. -- Answer Sheet

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Rahm's parting shots at public ed -- Goolsbee & pension theft

Austan Goolsbee
Before he leaves us, our lame duck Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking a few parting shots at the unions and progressives who helped make a third run for him a lost cause.

THE FIRST SHOT…was aimed at city workers pensions. Rahm wants to amend the State Constitution to cap cost-of-living increases for retirees and make pension theft legal. Right now the Constitution prohibits any diminishment or impairment of pension fund benefits (Article Xlll, Section 5). Previous attempts by the legislature to balance the budget on the backs of retirees have been ruled unconstitutional. Former gov, Pat Quinn lost his reelection bid to Bruce Rauner in large part because he supported failed pension theft initiatives.

THE NEXT SHOT...Rahm's appointment of former Obama economic advisor and political insider Austan Goolsbee to the school board appears to be nothing but a big "F**k you" to Chicago school activists and the CTU.

Economist Goolsbee, unlike his new boss Rahm, had a pretty good line when he was working for Obama. But he caved in after advising against extending tax breaks for the rich and for stimulating the economy as a way out of the recession rather than focusing on shrinking the budget deficit.

But no matter what you thought of Goolsbee's economic theories, we're not making macro economic decisions on the CPS board. This is all about educating our children, an area where Goolsbee has no background and has demonstrated little in the way of knowledge. I think it was Alexander Pope who wrote, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

His lackings haven't prevented him from carrying on when it comes to school issues like testing, teacher evaluation or school vouchers.

This from Chalkbeat Chicago:
In a 2015 survey of economists’ positions on public issues,  [Goolsbee] favored value-added” measures that try to isolate the impact of individual teachers on student test scores — though he qualified the approach as having “lots of noise and unobservables.”
In the same survey, Goolsbee claimed "uncertainty" about school vouchers. But Rahm and Rauner have already brought a form of vouchers into Chicago. Does anyone think that an "uncertain" Goolsbee will oppose them now as a Rahm appointee?

Rahm made Goolsbee appointment only three months before his term as mayor is up. He did it without consulting some of the most important stakeholders, including the CTU.

This from CTU Pres. Jesse Sharkey:
The Chicago Teachers Union, which backs an elected school board, described Goolsbee’s new role as a “unilateral appointment by a lame duck mayor. 
"Mr. Goolsbee comes into a board responsible for students and their schools being starved of resources for the last eight years by the man who appointed him,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement. “Those same neighborhoods continue to struggle from the consequences of a foreclosure crisis that the administration he served in Washington failed to address. We can — and we must — do better.” 
Why then, not leave the seat open for three months, knowing that most of the current mayoral candidates oppose Rahm's his school policies will likely replace all or most of his current board picks?

The answer seems obvious. Rahm is using his remaining power to smack his political opponents and reward his friends. That's if you can call a three-month appointment to the discredited CPS board a reward.

Finally, if you needed any more reasons to take control of the public schools out of the mayor's hands and into the hands of an elected, representative school board, Goolsbee and pension theft are pretty good ones.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

All you need to know about our system of justice

Cyntoia Brown
51 YEARS... Cyntoia Brown was only 16 when she was sentenced to life in prison, and the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled this past week that she will have to serve 51 years before she could be eligible for release. Kut Throat had raped Brown and forced her into prostitution, making her a sex trafficking victim, as she was not an adult at the time. Brown claimed that on the day of the murder, Throat had hit her and insisted she go out and bring home money. -- Rolling Stone

TEN YEARS...When a homeless drug addict steals some underwear, what’s the right punishment?  Ten years behind bars, according to a Cook County judge who handed down the sentence to David Lundy for stealing four packs of underwear, worth $33.25, from a Family Dollar Store in 2015. -- Sun-Times

12 DAYS...Ex-Donald Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos was released from federal prison Friday morning after serving 12 days for lying to investigators about his contact with individuals tied to Russia during the 2016 campaign. In his first tweet after being released, Papadopoulos thanked "patriots" for their support of his cause and announced the pending release and available pre-order of his new book, "Deep State Target." -- CNN

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

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)

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.