Monday, December 28, 2020



Debra Haaland, the next Sec. of the Interior

“I’ll be fierce for all of us, for our planet, and all of our protected land,” said Haaland in her acceptance speech. “This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former secretary of the interior once proclaimed it his goal to, quote, ‘civilize or exterminate’ us. I’m a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology.” -- Guardian

'Not Tuskegee...'

“This ain’t that, I’ll say it again, this ain’t that,” Cook County Commissioner Dennis Deer (2nd) said. “I want to get the message across that this is not Tuskegee; this is about you and about your children and about your generation.” -- Sun-Times

Kim Foxx

 “If we recognize substance abuse disorder as a health condition, then we must modify our justice system to treat it as such,” she said. “Criminalizing health is not in the interest of public safety.” -- Sun-Times interview

 CNN's Jake Tapper 

...says he won't have Kayleigh McEnany on his show because she “lies the way most people breathe.” -- Independent

NY State Dem Party Boss Jay Jacobs

AOC hasn't signaled a run for the Senate. But that didn't stop Jacobs from warning her not to challenge Chuck Schumer.  

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would “absolutely” lose a challenge if she went head-to-head against the veteran Democratic lawmaker, said Jacobs — who noted he’s yet to meet the Queens rep. -- NY Post


Monday, December 21, 2020

Police reform? Where is it?

The Anjanette Young case is one more brick-in-the-wall story about a racist political system. It's a system that reproduces racial inequality, criminalizes and incarcerates Black people, allows cops to "legally" bust down doors and invade homes in the middle of the night, abuse, and even kill women like Young and Breonna Taylor. 

The raid occurred nearly two years ago when CPD cops broke into the home of Young, a social worker who was undressing when they barged in looking for a suspect. Young, standing naked and handcuffed, cried repeatedly that the officers had the wrong address.

So now the city's council has "resigned". The former police chief has been fired and Mayor Lightfoot is rightfully taking heat for her mishandling of the aftermath. 

But Mayor Emanuel, on whose watch this racist assault took place, is up for a Biden cabinet position, and the CPD perpetrators are still on the job, and with easy warrants obtained via informants' misinfo, are still breaking down doors. 

Where is Reform? 

Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7 President John Catanzara

Meanwhile... The head of Chicago's FOP, who calls Muslims "savages" and says "they all deserve a bullet..."  He's still on the city payroll

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The path towards safe school reopenings

Chicago has plans for a phased school reopening starting in January if the spread of the virus stabilizes, but the local teachers’ union says cases remain too high. Credit...Taylor Glascock for The New York Times

I don't see any pathway to safe urban school reopenings without first classifying teachers and school staff as essential, frontline workers, and putting them near the top of the vaccine priority list. This should be part of a national campaign championed by the incoming Sec. of Education. Schools should also become centers for mass community inoculation. 

Two things are clear to me. Schools can't open without support from a critical mass of teachers and teachers aren't going to be bullied back into the classroom without evidence that those classrooms are reasonably safe. 

The nation’s roughly three million full-time teachers are already considered essential workers by the C.D.C., which means that in states that follow federal recommendations, they are already eligible to receive the vaccine after hospital employees and nursing home residents.

But, says the New York Times...

The essential worker group is huge — some 87 million Americans — and states will have flexibility in how they prioritize within that population. Many more people work in schools than just teachers, including nurses, janitors, and cafeteria workers, and it is unclear how many of them would be included on the high-priority list.

Last month, more than 10 educational organizations, including the nation’s two largest teachers’ unions, wrote to the C.D.C. asking that school employees be considered a priority group.

But even after educators are inoculated, lots of other measures will need to be put in place before city classrooms can be truly considered safe learning places for both teachers and students. Even after being vaccinated, Teachers could still be silent spreaders. Schools will likely need to continue requiring masks and distancing students for many months until community spread has sharply dropped. 

Public school educators and outside experts need to consider radical school redesigns to meet community needs in the pandemic and post-pandemic era. But that kind of project will require massive federal and state resources and an effort to find common ground between school boards, big-city mayors, and the unions. Either on the national from or here in Chicago, I don't see that happening for the time being.

Certainly not without Democrats in control of the Senate, and even then... 

Cardona & Fenwick

CHOOSING HIS ED SECRETARY...It looks like President-elect Biden is finally close to naming his education secretary. His people just dropped the names of two short-listed candidates to the Washington Post -- Howard University emeritus Ed School Dean Leslie Fenwick and Miguel Cardona, the commissioner of schools in Connecticut.

I don't know much about either one. So I'll go by WaPo's description of each:

Fenwick is a Black woman, and Cardona is a Latino man. Both have experience as classroom teachers, though Fenwick has worked as a dean and scholar in higher education for many years...

...Fenwick has criticized education programs such as Teach For America — a nonprofit that for years recruited only new college graduates, gave them five weeks of summer training and placed them in high-need schools — and the move to inject competition and corporate-inspired management techniques into schools. She’s also spoken against for-profit charter schools and taxpayer-funded private school vouchers.

... Cardona sees an urgency to in-person school and has pushed districts to offer that to parents, said spokesman Peter Yazbak.

“His position has been that in-person learning is the way that we best address the educational crisis caused by the closure of schools last spring,” he said. “A lot of people who are not from Connecticut assume that Connecticut is just Greenwich. But we have a lot of urban districts with students who have social and emotional needs as well as academic needs. The best way for them to get the services they need is in school, with counselors and their teachers.”

Even though they bring different perspectives to the table, they both sound pretty good to me, especially considering the misleadership we've had atop the D.O.E. for the past two decades. I wonder if there's a way to combine the two of them in one cabinet post?

Monday, December 14, 2020

Epstein's poke at Dr. Jill Biden backfires.

The best honorific for Dr. Biden might be "Teacher". 

Whatever the purpose of Joseph Epstein's WSJ screed...
 it surely failed. I think his poke at Dr. Jill Biden for professionally using 'DR.' in front of her name had less to do with educational leadership titles and Dr. Biden's personal achievements (which are notable) and more with discrediting the Biden/Harris election victory. 

Whatever his intent, it most certainly backfired. The negative response on social media has been over the top. While the relatively-unknown Epstein may be the current hero in MAGAland's war on "identity politics",  in the education community he has become just another symbol of Trumpian anti-educator, misogyny. 

If anything, I'm sure he's driven even more white, educated, suburban women from DT's base. That being a demographic shift that helped put Biden over the top in several swing states. Thanks for that, Epstein.

Other reactions: 

Northwestern University said in a statement on Saturday that it disagrees with the "misogynistic views" of Joseph Epstein, an author and former professor at the Illinois school who wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Friday that Biden should drop the "Dr." because it "sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic."

He also compared Biden’s doctoral credentials to an honorary degree that requires no academic work and said her doctorate thesis had an “unpromising” title. 

Epstein, the university said, has not been a lecturer there since 2003 -- clarifying Epstein's statement in the piece that he had "taught at Northwestern University for 30 years without a doctorate or any advanced degree." Northwestern also removed Epstein's profile from its website.

 Diane Ravitch on the Dr. Biden dust-up

To be sure, there was a political edge to [Epstein's] critique: Soon after the election, he wrote an article for the WSJ praising Trump’s accomplishments and chastising his anti-Trump friends. Knocking Dr. Biden is just another way of lamenting Trump’s defeat.

The best comment I have seen on this flap appeared on Fred Klonsky’s blog, quoting Glen Brown. The gist: 70% of instructors in higher education are adjuncts, not paid a living wage. That’s a true scandal.

 Indeed. Take it from me.

In fact, all this begs the questions about the inequalities in academic certification, access to graduate schools of education, and teacher leadership. Some of my favorite topics. But I'll save those for another post once the cloud of Epstein's misogyny has been fully blown away.

Dr. Michael Klonsky

Melissa Korn is the higher education reporter for the Wall St. Journal 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

The shame of a nation.

My blood is boiling after seeing news and videos of violent American fascists ("Proud Boys) being turned loose on mask wearers and counter-protesters in D.C. yesterday. 

This follows by days 126 Republican congressmen and 17 red-state attorneys general signing on to the Texas lawsuit aimed at disenfranchising millions of voters, especially voters of color. As expected, the Supreme Court on Friday rejected the suit -- with only wingnut justices Alito and Thomas mumbling their dissent -- but not before more than 60% of House Republicans had signed onto the effort. This group of election deniers reached beyond Trump’s staunchest allies and included powerful figures such as the chamber’s top two officials and the leaders of influential committees, all of whom put their official stamp on this fascist measure. 

This from the New York Times:

“Since election night, a lot of people have been confusing voters by spinning Kenyan birther-type, ‘Chavez rigged the election from the grave’ conspiracy theories,” said Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska. “But every American who cares about the rule of law should take comfort that the Supreme Court — including all three of President Trump’s picks — closed the book on the nonsense.”

With all due respect to Sen. Sasse, I take little comfort in the decision. The Supremes did what they needed to do to regain any semblance of their lost credibility. Nor should we believe that it "closed the book on the nonsense." Its authors are only in the middle of Chapter I. 

The point here is that Trumpism (neo-fascism) has now become a permanent fixture, a violent cult that has forced itself upon American mainstream politics. It's represented by a Republican Party with an elected president as its figurehead and with gangs of armed thugs and white supremacist militias ready and willing to be used when called upon to beat, murder, and intimidate opponents. 

What does give me comfort is the size and scope of the anti-Trump resistance movement, more than 80 million of whom made their voices heard through the ballot box last month and in the streets this past year. 

Next up on the battlefront... the election in Georgia whose outcome will determine control of the Senate in years to come. A Republican victory will mean that the Trump cult will be able to sabotage COVID recovery and continue to block all economic stimulus efforts. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

If you want to eliminate all poverty in 15 years, form a commission, right?

The richest 5 percent of households in Illinois have average incomes 14.6 times as large as the bottom 20 percent of households and 4.9 times as large as the middle 20 percent of households. After decades of widening inequality, Illinois's richest households have dramatically bigger incomes than its poorest households.
-- Report

It's the Republicans that bring my blood to a boil. But it's always been the Democrats who bring out my worst cynicism. 

Case in point -- Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) yesterday announced the Illinois Commission on Poverty Elimination and Economic Security. OK, that sounds like a nice thing to do. I mean, if you're going to completely eliminate poverty and close the racial/wealth gap, the first thing to do is form a commission, right? 

Next, you have to set the commission's goals.
Goals for The Commission outlined in state statute include reducing poverty in Illinois by 50% by 2026, eliminating child poverty by 2031, and eliminating all poverty by 2036. 

You read it right. Pritzker's new commission aims to eliminate ALL poverty in the next 15 years and a month. And they wish to accomplish this, I suppose with a legislature seemingly bent on cutting retirees' pensions as a way of balancing the state budget. 

Also remember, this is a governor and legislature that couldn't rally enough votes in this blue state, to pass the FairTax amendment? 

I mean, these are essentially the same pols who finally passed a $15 minimum-wage bill, but one that takes 6 freakin' years to take effect. 

The Commission, which is set to meet just twice a year, is made up of 25 members: four members of the State General Assembly; one member of the judiciary; and twenty public leaders who "represent key constituencies that are impacted by poverty." Members were appointed by Pritzker, Senate President Don Harmon, House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, and Chief Justice Anne Burke of the Illinois Supreme Court. 

From my point of view, these names would be more apt to appear atop a Widening the Wealth Gap Commission.

I'd be willing to guess that if everyone in the state made their salaries and were covered by their health insurance plans, the problem would be solved. Ah, let's do that. 

Yes, I'm cynical or at least suspicious. But I'm also willing to give it a try and if the guv appointed me, here are some suggestions I would make to at least start narrowing the great divide between rich and poor. Don't worry, I'm not suggesting killing all rich people and taking their money. That would be illegal and probably wouldn't work anyway. 

But this might... First, guarantee a living wage for all workers and a guaranteed minimum wage for everyone. Second, implement Medicare For All or some form of single-payer, universal healthcare. Third, extend free public education from Pre-K to 16 and beyond.

Best of all, it wouldn't take 15 years to do these things. Most or at least many countries have already done them. But a prereq is the complete reform of the tax code and making the wealthiest pay their fair share. Yes, as I pointed out, they just tried this and failed. Well, try again and try harder. 

How's that for a start? Let's see if Pritzker's Commission will touch any of these with a 10-foot pole. 

They hardly even touch the deeply-rooted issues of race and gender inequality. It took many years in this, the world's richest and most powerful capitalist country, to create this great racial-wealth gap. Closing it in the state of Illinois will take time and great struggle and it will take a lot more than another bureaucratic layer. First, there must be the will and cynical me doesn't see that coming from the top. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Cases top 14 million while 'open-up' cuckoo birds keep tweeting.


More than 13.4 million people in the country have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 267,306 have died as of 2:30 p.m. Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 dashboard.

 Hundreds of people on Wednesday night — including members of the right-wing group Proud Boys — protested the closure of a Staten Island bar that ignored COVID-19 restrictions.-- NY Post

As I'm reading the news today about Florida nearing one million COVID cases, I'm recalling a column written back in May by former Tribune writer Dennis Byrne announcing to anyone who cared that he was abandoning Chitown for the wild and wide-open climes of Florida. He'd had enough of being told to wear a mask or wash his hands. He definitely didn't like Mayor Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker telling him that he couldn't sit inside at a restaurant during a corona surge. 

Byrne, who loves him some Trumpy Gov. Ron DiSantis, said that in FL he felt free to wine and dine on "brisket and bacon burger slathered with BBQ sauce, cheese, onions, and mayonnaise."

I wonder where he'll move next. 

BIRDS OF A FEATHER ~ Mancow, Stone, and...Vallas???

Mancow (left) says he's sick of unions that “radicalize” teachers, and he supports “bringing back civility and respect for cops.” Wants Vallas as his running mate. Good luck with that.  
Trump clone and radio shock jock Erich “Mancow” Muller says he wants to run for IL governor. No joke.

Pritzker must be trembling with fear.  

Mancow is the anti-union, flat-tax, corona super-spreader pal of Roger Stone. (Stone claimed yesterday that "North Korean ships were delivering ballots through a harbor in Maine.”)

And guess who Mancow wants as his running mate? None other than former Chicago schools chief and perennial campaign loser Paul Vallas.

I get it. The two of them are ideologically simpatico. But Mancow could do better. Doesn't he recall how Vallas' last campaign for Lt. Governor went down the toilet, pulling incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn down with him? Or how Vallas fared running against his nemesis, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and finishing seventh in the races with 5% of the vote.

Meanwhile, Vallas has been keeping himself busy speaking at right-wing anti-masker, anti-shutdown QAnon rallies sounding every bit like Dennis Byrne in his attacks on Lightfoot and Pritzker? 

He's gone full-blown MAGA

Monday, November 30, 2020


'Who's gonna pardon me?'

Matt Farmer's latest 

 “Here’s to those emoluments who keep my family fed, and to all those confederate monuments that keep the south so red; here’s to Clorox bleach and UV-red, and a spineless GOP. It’s the end of the show and I still don’t know who’s gonna pardon me.”  -- Who's gonna pardon me?'

Dr. Anthony Fauci

When asked about schools, Fauci said his recommendation has always been to “close the bars and keep the schools open.” -- Slate

Tom Dart, Cook County Sherrif (Just tested positive for Covid)

 "We exploded the curve." --CBS News

Christopher Krebs, fired Director of Cyber Security

"Look, I think these— we can go on and on with all the farcical claims alleging interference in the 2020 election, but the proof is in the ballots." -- 60 Minutes

Robert Malley, a negotiator of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal

 “The Trump administration’s goal seems plain. The plan was “to take advantage of the time remaining before it heads to the exits to solidify its legacy and make it all the more difficult for its successor to resume diplomacy with Iran and rejoin the nuclear deal.” -- NY Times

Full-page Sun-Times ad run by the Chicago Federation of Labor

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Talk about being anti-science. Now we assassinate scientists.


Well, at least now we know what Sec. of State Mike Pompeo and  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were secretly meeting about last week in Saudi Arabia. They were planning the assassination of another Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.   

Remember, Israeli Mossad agents assassinated a half-dozen Iranian nuclear scientists from 2010 to 2012. Then, in January, Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani, in violation of international law, claiming that the killing would "stop a war, not start one." Soleimani's murder occurred during the 2019–20 Persian Gulf crisis, which began after the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in 2018.

The difference this time is that there's little pretense about stopping a bomb or heading off an Iranian terrorist plot. Fakhrizadeh's killing, only weeks before the Trump/Pompeo gang will be forced to give up the reins of power, was simply a provocation aimed at sabotaging Biden's transition setting back any attempt at restoring the collapsed nuclear deal.

According to the New York Times:

 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, with the support of President Trump, seems intent on scorching the earth to make it harder for any return to diplomacy under President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump, in fact, appears to be hoping for retaliation from Iranian leaders which could then escalate the crisis and leave Joe Biden with a war on his hands when he takes over on January 20th. The Republicans' goal is to weaken Sec. of State Anthony Blinken's ability to negotiate a new nuclear agreement. 

Biden is already committed to reopening talks with Iran along with his European partners. Iran has said repeatedly that it would go back into full compliance with the nuclear agreement if the Biden administration agrees to do the same and lifts the onerous sanctions piled on by President Trump.

This latest provocation was predictable. Some even earlier expressed fears that a new attack on Iran would be used by Trump to use war-time powers to put off the election. Obviously, that was just a pipedream. 

Iran’s response to Soleimani’s killing was limited to a dozen missiles fired against two U.S. bases in Iraq. The hope is now that Iranian leaders will see the Trump/Netanyahu plot for what it is and be measured in their response again this time around. 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Trump is going but Trumpism still rules the highest court.

Thousands of unmasked Hasidic sect members squeeze inside the Yetev Lev temple in Brooklyn for the wedding of a chief rabbi’s grandson. Similar weddings have been happening in Brooklyn for months in violation of city ordinances — with precautions such as covering windows with paper and guards at the doors in case an inspector shows up to keep them from being detected.

The Supreme Court's 5-4 midnight ruling, which prevents New York city and state officials from imposing limits on the Roman Catholic Diocese or Brooklyn's Hasidic sect during the pandemic, had little to do with the broad issue of religious freedom. Rather it was a signal to Trump's MAGA death cult and his evangelical base that the extreme right-wing majority, led by DT's newly-appointed religious cultist, Amy Coney Barrett, was on the job and will be for decades to come. 

The immediate effect on New York City is moot because the state had already lifted the particular orders under review. The grave, imminent danger lies in the rest of the country, where public health authorities will feel hamstrung to limit the size of religious gatherings even where the virus is spreading out of control.

The decision also heralds tough times ahead for Democrats and civil-rights activists. It's being interpreted by the right as an affirmation of the notion that religious beliefs about racial or gender discrimination trump civil rights and social justice.

The court majority's message to the Democrats: Even though you may have won the election, there's more than one center of power now and it's not bound by the Constitution. Trumpism rules the nation's highest court. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The first thing Biden promised to do...


Biden was at a candidates event in Houston with National Education Association members in July 2019 when he said: “First thing, as president of United States — not a joke — first thing I will do is make sure that the secretary of education is not Betsy DeVos. It is a teacher. A teacher. Promise.” --

Biden's cabinet is filling up fast. So far, once you get past all the chatter about a "second Obama presidency"; or about slipping a disgraced Rahm Emanuel in through the back door (NO, NO, NO please), or even about appointing Trump Republicans as opposed to anyone from the left, the process has been pretty transparent and necessarily fast-moving. 

But we're still waiting for more than whispers about his pick for Secretary of Education. This may be the most important pick of all given that most school districts remain in limbo or possibly on the brink of collapse because of the pandemic and Trump/DeVos's disastrous response. But even under the new administration, plans for a necessary, safe reopening are going nowhere without an immediate influx of cash -- possibly a trillion dollars or more -- to the districts. 

And it's not just about money. It's about radical transformation and the re-imaging of public education. We will never be able to go back to the old "normal". So where's the transformational leadership going to come from?

There are big questions to resolve about, systemic racial inequality, current, and post-pandemic standardized testing, privatization, student loans, universal pre-K and so much more. It will take much more than the new D.O.E. to undo the damage done these past four years under Betsy DeVos. Not to mention, that done under the previous decades of No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top

But the appointment of a new ed secretary will be a signal about which way the new regime is headed. So how did the first thing on Biden's to-do list move to near-last? Where is this teacher that been promised us? Why the hush hush?

Progressives have been pushing some good people for consideration. So have the influential, pro-privatization, anti-union hedge-fund reformers like DFER. 

I have a few recommendations myself. But I'm dubious that the left will be allowed any input into the decision. That's certainly been the case so far.

Monday, November 23, 2020

DT still has eight weeks remaining in which to break things and burn things down.



Joe Biden has signaled his reluctance to pursue a  criminal case against Trump. In August, Biden said he'd leave the decision to the Justice Department and the attorney general, but he suggested pursuing charges might do more damage than good. Above all, Biden and the Democrats want a peaceful transition of power and don't want to unnecessarily stir up the MAGA wasp's nest. 

"I think it is a very, very unusual thing and probably not very — how can I say it? — good for democracy to be talking about prosecuting former presidents." -- NPR

DT and his grifter family are already the subjects of a criminal investigation by the district attorney of Manhattan as well as a civil investigation by the attorney general of New York State. But the question is, will Biden, Gov. Cuomo, and the Democratic leadership try and put the kibosh on N.Y. Atty. General Letitia James and Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. to drop their cases for peace sakes?

Judge Matthew Brann, a longtime and well-known Republican in Pennsylvania has tossed out another Trump lawsuit aimed at invalidating millions of voters' mail-in ballots. 

"In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more," the judge wrote. -- CNN

This, along with the failure of last week's so-called Million MAGA March, leaves Trump's crew with little bargaining power when it comes to chilling any post-transition indictments. But a peaceful transition won't mean an end to Trumpism or to Trump's leadership and influence over what's left of the Republican Party. 

Dahlia Lithwick writes:

Having lost in the courts, his new work evidently lies in emboldening obscure local election boards to nullify their voting tallies, calling them on the phone to exert pressure, inviting them to the White House. That means that even postelection we are still stress monkeys. He still has eight weeks remaining in which to break things and burn things down. --  Slate 

The makeup dripping down Rudy Giuliani’s face and the inaudible Benny Hill music in the background isn’t proof of harmless comedy; it’s cover for something truly dangerous.

So, where does all this leave us? Relying on the movement for social justice. Same as it ever was. 

There are many hopeful signs such as the Poor People's Campaign led by Rev. William Barber who is uniting a broad range of progressive forces to restart Moral Mondays and lead a multi-racial movement of the poor with a clear set of demands on both Trump and the Biden administration. 


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

There's no sense in hoping Republicans come to their senses.

I'm both troubled and amused to hear from so many Democrats still hoping beyond hope that Republicans will come to their senses. Many can't believe or understand why so many MAGAs bought into Trump's right-wing white supremacist populism. 

Before the election, the thought was that the larger the voter turnout, even with GOP voter suppression, the greater the Democrats' victory would be. As things turned out, this was only partially true. But record turnouts, driven by an election that was basically a plebiscite on Trump, also helped Republicans in many states.

It was also thought that building the national campaign on a center-right alliance with neocons and "never-Trump" Republicans to the exclusion of the progressive left and "socialists" would cause a major split in the Republican ranks, turning lots of white 2016 Trump voters back into Democrats. There's no evidence that this happened, except on a tiny scale. Biden owes his victory much more to the changing demographics in the suburbs and swing states than to Republican desertions. 

Many Dems are still hoping masses of Republicans will change stripes now that Biden has won the election. Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg attributes the lack of movement to GOP "cowardice" as if Republican pols like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio really oppose Trumpism but are afraid to come out and say so. 

Let’s talk instead about the Republicans who support Trump as he tries to overturn an American election. How can they shirk from their sworn duty at this moment of national peril? ... Calling out someone for cowardice — I’m looking at you, Ted Cruz — could yet be corrective.
I doubt it. The closeness of the races in many states and a steadfast, even cultlike base have only given Republican pols hope that they can maintain control of the Senate and take back the House in the midterm elections. There's even talk of Trump running again in '24 (if he's not in prison). I doubt that too.

Please take note of Trump cultist Kevin McCarthy's unanimous reelection as House Republican Leader yesterday. Reports are that he received a standing ovation from GOP House members. 

No, calling them out for cowardice will not do it. They're just devotees who know how their bread is buttered. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

A coup d'etat? Not likely. Easier for Trump just to cut a deal and move on with his base intact.


Coup d'état

A coup or coup d'état is the removal of an existing government from power, usually through violent means. Typically, it is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a political faction, the military, or a dictator. 

 South African Activist Kumi Naidoo: I think our brothers and sisters in America are finding out that it’s much easier for them to change presidents in other countries than to change the president in their own country. -- Democracy Now

The question facing Trump is no longer, can he stay in office after January 20th through ballot-count manipulation? That dog, as they say, just won't hunt. But that doesn't mean his claims to victory will end or that shady attempts to manipulate Electoral College votes or his bogus legal suits won't continue on in the near future.

“He knows it’s over,” one adviser said. But instead of conceding, they said, he is floating one improbable scenario after another for staying in office while he contemplates his uncertain post-presidency future...By dominating the story of his exit from the White House, he hopes to keep his millions of supporters energized and engaged for whatever comes next. -- Maggie Haberman, NYT

But his refusal to concede and his non-commitment to a "peaceful transition" has also provoked speculation about a possible "coup d'etat". Some on the left have even raised the alarm that a coup is either underway or imminent. 

But are they really talking about a MAGA armed insurrection? No, I think they mean the kind of coup the Republicans successfully pulled off when Trump was able to tilt the Supreme Court to the right for generations to come. 

They are concerned that the MAGAs will make trouble, fail, and make more trouble, enabling Trump and Trumpism to emerge from the current battle in an even stronger position and with a larger and more devoted base than ever in the years to come leading up to the midterm elections. There is even talk about DT running again in '24.

Is it possible that Trump and the Republicans can successfully hold the White House for a second term? Doubtful. Is it possible that a real coup d'etat is at hand? Also doubtful. But should DT's threat be taken seriously? Yes. Why? Two reasons. 

One, because he's still in power until January 20th and he can sabotage the transition, damage the COVID recovery program ( For example, he's denying Biden's team access to Dr. Fauci and to internal government data), and mobilize a section of his cult base to provoke violence and disruption in the cities. Just what Biden doesn't need or want.

The Republican Party still belongs to Trump and so does the Senate, unless Democrats can pull of victories in both senate races in Georgia. That means he can continue to block most Democratic policy initiatives and Biden appointments for years, even though he's not the president. 

He's also capable of launching a desperate military adventure against Iran in the weeks ahead and suspend civil liberties here at home leaving Biden with a war, not of his own choosing, to manage once in office. 

Two, he can use the above threats as leverage in cutting a grand deal with Biden, who is touting himself as president for bipartisanship, national unity, and reconciliation. 

But what does Trump need to bargain for? 

Numer-one, immunity from prosecution for himself, his WH accomplices, and his entire grifter family, who all have illegally profited from his term in office. A presidential pardon won't do the trick so DT will need top-down pressure from Biden and the Democratic leadership to shut down the ongoing House investigations and put the kibosh on any moves to indict by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and NY's Atty. General Letitia James

Can Trump pull off such a deal? Would Biden agree to it in the name of reconciliation and "national unity"? It wouldn't surprise me. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

New Deal for Education needed if schools are to reopen safely

Chicago daycares and private schools report 495 Covid cases, but numbers don’t tell the whole story: “From April 1 through mid-October, the city has tracked 267 cases in child care centers, 207 in private and charter schools that offer some in-person instruction, and 21 at in-person park district camps. Most of those cases, though, involved adults — 90 cases in daycares, 145 cases in schools, and five at camps involved students,” reports
Chalkbeat Chicago’s Mila Koumpilova.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 79 new deaths and 12,623 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 10,289 deaths and 511,183 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from Nov. 3 through 9 is 12.0 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 13 percent.

Despite these numbers, it looks like the Chicago School Board is moving ahead with its plan for hybrid-opening. While Mayor Lightfoot and city health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady haven't set a return date, planning for in-person schooling is clearly underway.

I'm all in favor of planning now for an eventual opening of schools, but strongly opposed to school openings at a time like this, with new Covid cases at record levels. The risks are just too great.

Schools here and around the country, public and private, should open gradually only when outside conditions improve (ie. a vaccine) and only then when their facilities are deemed safe with policies in place to ensure student, teacher, and staff safety. That is certainly not the case now.

Planning for a reopening also needs to transcend the immediate logistical problems and include a total and radical revisioning of equitable and democratic schooling, school and curriculum design on a human scale, and use of technology in the post-pandemic era. 

Reopening can't be done unilaterally. There needs to be a collaborative effort between the school board, communities, and the teachers union. 

I'm still looking for leadership to step forward on that one, given the deep and wide political divisions among city Democrats. But I'm keeping hope alive. 

Hopefully, the Biden administration will make public ed a top priority and move immediately to provide the massive resources needed for all this. That should be our number-one demand on the new ed secretary, no matter who it is. Without those resources -- well over $1 trillion for starters -- no real progress is possible.

A LEGIT CASE FOR REOPENING NOW...I also realize that those favoring reopening now or soon have a legit case. I know, for example, that the Board and the mayor are being pressured by lots of parents who say they can no longer afford to stay home with their children during the day, who risk losing their jobs and possibly their health insurance, or who lack the resources and capacity for viable homeschooling.

For some, keeping kids at home for an extended period may expose them to even greater health and security risks than sending them to school. For others, schools provide a sense of community and mutual support that has been missing during the pandemic.

Some kind of accommodation has to be made available to them. More importantly, Congress needs to immediately pass the stimulus bill to offer relief to families, schools, and small businesses. 

ETHS students and coach try and deal with the shooting death of Ryan Bost while school remains closed.

The case for reopening was powerfully and emotionally made yesterday by Mike Ellis, the basketball coach at Evanston Township High School following the fatal shooting of one of his former players, Ryan Bost.
“It’s challenging right now to try and make sure all the kids are ok,” Ellis said. “If we had in-school learning we’d be meeting and just able to be with one another and talk. We are going to do a Zoom meeting to try to bring everybody together but a Zoom meeting doesn’t have the same influence it would in person.”

Monday, November 9, 2020



Rebecca Solnit

Biden's victory is only the prelude. What happens now is up to us. -- Guardian

James Downie, WaPo's Digital Opinions Editor

Black, brown, and working-class voters delivered Joe Biden the presidency; the hard work of turning out those voters wasn’t done by the national party this year, but by grass-roots organizers over many years. -- Democratic leaders play a ridiculous blame game with progressives

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon

After Biden pulled ahead in Pennsylvania, Sturgeon tweeted: ''The world can be a dark place at times just now — but today we are seeing a wee break in the clouds.'' - Washington Post

Mayor Lori Lightfoot

 “With the Republicans [potentially] retaining control of the Senate, it’s far from clear that any additional monies will be flowing by way of stimulus.” -- IL Playbook

IL State Rep. Bob Morgan on Madigan

 “Allegations surrounding Speaker Madigan and Commonwealth Edison are extremely troubling, as are [previous] ones about sexual harassment by top aides. Leadership requires taking responsibility, and the pervasive culture of mistrust and corruption in Illinois rests at Mike Madigan’s feet.” -- Statement

Erendira Rendon, Immigrant Advocacy and Defense Project V.P.

“This win doesn’t mean that all of a sudden the immigrant community is safe now." -- Tribune

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The epic freedom struggle continues. I'm feeling hopeful.

SNCC Poster, 1963, Photography by Danny Lyon

Woke up this morning with my mind
Stayed on freedom 

I woke up this morning with my head still ringing with music from Danny Lyon's new film, SNCC, and clear as a bell about the line connecting the great freedom struggle of the '50s and '60s with today's election. Win or lose, for me, this campaign was never simply about electing Joe Biden. Rather, it's about being part of a movement for freedom and social justice for the past 60 years, a movement that transcends party politics. 

This is definitely a which side are you on election like none other in my lifetime, save possibly Barack Obama's first campaign in '08. It's one that has certainly captured the democratic spirit of tens of millions from the heartland of the midwest to the so-called red states of the south and southwest. 

As the polls open this morning, nearly 100 million of us have already voted, more than two-thirds of the number of votes cast in the entire 2016 election.

Black and Latino voter turnout will likely hold the key to a Democratic victory, especially in southern and midwestern swing states. 

Of note... 239,822 African American voters over the age of 65 have already voted in Georgia, a state that has been red for the past three decades. That's 124% of the total 2016 turnout for African American seniors. Latino voters in GA are also turning out in record numbers. That state's results should be coming in early tonight and along with FL, should be a strong indicator of where things are headed. 

The ChiTown vote... More than 738,000 Chicagoans have already cast ballots in person or by mail, blowing past the city's early voting records set in 2016. I'm not worried about the Trump vote here IL. I'm just hoping that a giant turnout will mean State's Attorney Kim Foxx is reelected and the FairTax Amendment passes.  

All this and more, leaves me feeling hopeful about today's outcome. My hope is a massive anti-Trump vote will also bring a victory for Democrats down-ticket and return the Senate majority blue.

Republican efforts to suppress voter turnout have apparently fallen flat. This will likely leave Trump the choice of either conceding or more likely, resorting to futile attempts at sabotage or other counter-electoral or violent efforts to hang onto power. 

Defeating Trump today, if that happens, won't mean the death of Trumpism, neo-fascism, or white supremacy. That fight will likely continue for generations to come. But it will still mark an important victory in the long, ongoing freedom struggle and a reversal of the retrograde trend of the past four years. 


Monday, November 2, 2020



D.C. Teachers Union Pres. Elizabeth Davis

“The Chancellor’s plan to reopen our schools to in-person learning will disrupt the education of a vast majority of DCPS students. As educators, we do not believe this plan is good for our students or good for our schools.” -- Washington Post

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants
If Trump refuses to accept the election results, "we will have to do the one thing that takes all power and control from the government or anyone with corporate interests in keeping this person in office, and that is withholding our labor.”  -- Guardian

At a campaign rally event, Trump criticized the media for their continued coverage of the crisis, prompting chants of “Fire Fauci!” from supporters. “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice,” Trump told the crowd. -- Market Watch

PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro 

“Our elections are over when all the votes are counted. But if your lawyers want to try us, we’d be happy to defeat you in court one more time.” -- CNN

 Eugene Gu, MD

We need universal healthcare. Not just because the coronavirus pandemic is super scary right now but because many thousands of Americans have been dying without health insurance every day even before the pandemic. Yet we make certain deaths routine and other ones very political. -- Twitter

Saturday, October 31, 2020

SNCC: Danny Lyon's new film.

A note from Danny Lyon: 

This is an open link to my new film SNCC. Anyone can see it. It is free.

I welcome comments on the Vimeo site. Please share this with anyone you want.



Monday, October 26, 2020


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

'Absolutely' my job to push Democrats to the left.

“We need to make sure that we win this White House,” she said. “Frankly, I think it would be privilege and would be a luxury for us to talk about what we would lobby Democratic and how we would push the next Democratic administration." -- CNN

 George McGraw, founder of the human rights nonprofit DigDeep

 “Race is the strongest indicator in 2020 of whether or not you will have a tap and a toilet in your house in the richest democracy on earth.” -- Capital & Main

Mayor Lori Lightfoot

 “We must not go backward to the failed approach that Pat O’Brien supports — an approach that put innocent people in prison and cost Chicago taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

“We cannot afford to go back to those dark days. For women like myself and Kim [Foxx], justice is not an abstract thing...We know when the deck is stacked against us. That’s why I voted for Kim.” -- Sun-Times

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the state’s Department of Public Health

 “I can’t break down why. I think it’s probably just a culmination of the frustration of seeing that we are repeating history." -- IL Playbook

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows

 “We’re not going to control the pandemic.” Pressed to explain why, he said, “because it is a contagious virus just like the flu." -- AP

Trump on TV

 "Turn on television: ‘covid, covid, covid, covid, covid.’ A plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don’t talk about it - ‘covid, covid, covid, covid,’ " Trump said. “By the way, on November 4th, you won’t hear about it anymore.” -- Boston Globe


Sunday, October 25, 2020

With 9 days to go, a warning.

My Dodgers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory last night. An improbable set of events that took place in 15 seconds may end up costing us them the World Series they were destined to win. 

Last night, I thought it was just a bad dream. But I woke up this morning and it was on ESPN. So it must have really happened.

A bad Election Day omen for Democrats?

Nah. Just a heads-up. Stuff happens.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Normalizing fascist pathology

The star of the debate. What does that tell you?

"It was civil, calm, sedate, substantive (at times) and, almost, even normal." -- NYT

I was relieved when I first heard that there would be no second debate. Why would I, or anyone, want to expose themself to another exercise in demagoguery?

But then, when a desperate Trump, down by double-digits in the polls, agreed to take part, squelch button, partitions, and all, my heart sunk. I knew I would have to sit through another evening being bombarded with racist bombast, saber-rattling (by both sides), false promises, threats, and outright lies as corona deaths mount by the thousands.

No, watching these two go at it is not good for the soul. It only breeds more cynicism. But in between peeks at the Eagles/Giants game, that's exactly what I did. Don't ask me why? I knew the transcript would be readily available the next morning, but I did it anyway. 

The big news following the debate wasn't about the regime's tearing hundreds of immigrant babies away from their parents. It wasn't about Trump fiddling while the world burns (literally) or pandemic deaths topping 300,000. It was that DT wasn't as rude and disruptive as he was the first time around and that moderator Kristen Welker from NBC saved us all from Mr. Bluster. 

Welker became the star of the show and tired and bleeding nation breathed a sigh of relief. NBC took up 10 minutes of national news time this morning canonizing Kristen for a job well done. That in itself shows what an exercise in banality the whole event was.

The best response to that nonsense came from the New Republic's Alex Shephard

But the truth is that while Trump didn’t foam at the mouth, his performance was still pathological...Trump’s abnormalcy was an affront to [pundits'] sense of decorum and their sense of themselves as supreme knowers of American politics. There are rules, after all! And the rules say you must pivot! As Jay Rosen noted about the press when he explained how they create “Trump normalization.”

I actually thought I saw a little foam coming out the corner of his mouth.  

 Salon's Amanda Marcotte wrote:

What "civil" debate? The one I watched revealed Donald Trump as a cold-blooded psychopath. A calmer tone only exposed Trump's lack of basic empathy about the pandemic, family separation, or anything else. 

My brother Fred posted this 

My line has always been, let Trump be Trump. The more he rants, rages, the more the polls seem to tick upward for the Democrats. The problem with my theory is that fascist militia groups and white supremacists take his rhetoric as a call to action. 

It wasn't surprising then to read the next day, that a North Carolina man, with a plan to assassinate Joe Biden, was arrested with a van full of guns and explosives. 

My favorite Biden malaprop of the night was his referring to the white supremacist Proud Boys thugs as the "Poor Boys."

It's hard to pick out one most offensive bit of racist Trump debate jabber. Maybe this one:
It's a very-- it makes me sad because I am the least racist person. I can't even see the audience because it's so dark, but I don't care who's in the audience. I’m the least racist person in this room [repeated 3 times]. 

Or this regarding immigrants:

We have to send ICE out and Border Patrol out to find them. We would say, ‘Come back in two years, three years -- we're going to give you a court case. You did Perry Mason, we're going to give you a court case. When you say they come back, they don't come back, Joe. They never come back. Only the really --  I hate to say this -- but those with the lowest IQ, they might come back. 

 This second debate was, at best, a nothing burger. It hardly moved the needle as far as the polls were concerned. In that sense, it could be seen as a win for Biden since DT, with only 10 days left until Election Day, needed a big win to stem the Democratic tide. 

As for substance, there wasn't much. But by now, all you political junkies out there can rattle off the rest of DT's most offensive and racist lines. So I won't bother. 

But if you need a list of the past four years of his possibly indictable crimes, cruelties, collusions, corruptions, here's a good one from McSweeny's. It's handy to have them all in one place.