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.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The story about Iranian election interference is borderline laughable

It looks like a record voter turnout and that could signal a crushing defeat for Trump and his down-ticket Republicans. That is, if all the votes are counted and if millions of voters aren't denied access to the polls (a big IF, I know).

Take North Carolina for instance, where more people have now early-voted than the total number of people who voted for Donald Trump in North Carolina in 2016. Nationwide, nearly 50 million people have already voted, including at least 21.2 million in battleground states

Registered Democrats are outvoting Republicans by a large margin in states that report such data. So Trumpers are resting their hopes on a huge Election Day MAGA turnout. 

But with Election Day only 10 days away, we're seeing a barrage of disinformation from DT's camp about "widespread voter fraud" and "foreign interference" that could tamp down Election Day turnout. This despite evidence coming from FBI director, Christopher Wray that such fraud just doesn't exist. 

The Republicans aim to spread last-minute chaos and confusion like they did in 2016 with then-Director James Comey's last-minute "expose" of Hillary Clinton's emails. All this to discourage an anticipated huge voter turnout. They know that the larger the turnout, the more likely a Democratic sweep.

Watch as...

With the voter-fraud conspiracy theories now largely debunked, the next phase of the disinformation campaign points the finger at "foreign interference." Actually, this is coming from both camps with Democrats are pointing once again at Russia while Trumpers at Iran. I don't doubt that there are efforts by foreign intelligence agencies to influence the outcome, one way or the other. But it's doubtful that these attempts will bear fruit.

United States national security officials said that Iran and Russia had obtained American voter registration data, and that Iran had used the information to send threatening, faked emails to voters. -- New York Times

But the current wave of hysteria about Iranian interference is almost laughable. With DT threatening to fire Wray and Atty. Gen. Wm. Barr unless they do something big at the last minute to help turn the election, the best they could come up with was an alleged Iranian scheme to send threatening emails, supposedly from the Proud Boys, to potential Democratic voters, warning us not to vote, "or else."

John Ratcliffe 

So it was left up to John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, to sound the alarm. 

From NYT:

 ...spoofed emails, sent to Democratic voters, purported to be from pro-Trump far-right groups, including the Proud Boys. Iranian hackers tried to cover their tracks, intelligence and security officials said, first routing the emails through a compromised Saudi insurance company network. Later, they sent more than 1,500 emails using the website of an Estonian textbook company, according to an analysis by researchers at Proofpoint, a cybersecurity firm.

I mean, really? 1,500 emails? Anybody you know get one?

Sorry, I didn't mean to laugh but the thought of some Iranian hackers sitting in a room somewhere, thinking they could swing the election by trying to sound like American Proud Boys, and sending a tiny group of emails to us via Estonia, strikes me as funny. 

My take: If it's voting disinformation you're looking for, look no farther than the White House Communications Dept. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Police & Mental Health: A Bad Mix

For weeks, Brandon Hayes wandered around Baton Rouge during a mental health crisis, spray-painting nonsensical messages along the way before finally checking himself into the hospital for treatment. police officers soon showed up at the behavioral health center where Hayes was being treated, placed him under arrest and in the midst of the COVID pandemic, transported him to the parish jail — an outdated and overcrowded detention center that even the warden has called "deplorable" for mental health patients... Read the whole story here.

In L.A., Tulsa, Seattle, and several other cities, there are new pilot initiatives to partner cops with mental health experts and social workers. Even though activists' demands to "defund" the police seem to have lost favor with voters -- Democrats won't touch the issue -- it's clear that the new collaboratives have been driven in large part by public reaction to unabated police killings and brutality towards the mentally ill. 

Studies show that 1 in 4 people with mental illness have a history of police arrest. The Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit that studies mental health issues, has calculated that the odds of being killed during a police encounter are 16X higher for individuals with untreated serious mental illness as they are for people in the broader population.

The new collaboratives are a small, but significant victory for police reformers as well as for the Black Lives Matter movement, although few will admit it.   

As you might expect, Trump is mocking the new pilot collaboratives at his campaign rallies. 

At his illegal Oct. 10th rally at the White House, DT claimed that Biden said, “When you call 911, a therapist should answer the call.” 

He didn’t of course, although it's not such a bad idea. What Biden has said is that mental health experts should accompany police on some calls. No, it's not a very radical concept. Plus, although DT probably doesn't remember, it's a policy even he supported in a June executive order.

What a dick!

This from Amanda Klonsky on FB:
It's been 7 months, and winter is looming. Mental health issues related to our lock down and the pandemic are especially hard for people with depression and other mental health disorders. NAMI, The National Alliance on Mental Health has a helpline: (800)950-6264. The relapse and overdose rate has increased by 30% since March 2020.
The 24 hr suicide prevention hotline is: (800)273-8255

Thanks Amanda. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

I'm missing live radio

Rick Smith

CORONA BLUES...I'm badly missing doing live, in-studio radio. Hitting Left With the Klonsky Brothers has been on hiatus since June and we've been out of the studio since March. Brother Fred and I did podcast two months' worth of shows from home but it wasn't the same. 

No Friday morning planning meetings at Bridgeport Coffee and no live connection with the studio crew at Lumpen Radio. Doing the show over Zoom left us feeling empty, similar in a way to how many teachers I know are feeling doing remote teaching. 

All three years of archived shows are available and still getting lots of downloads at Mixcloud,, and wherever else you get your podcasts. 

The clouds lifted a little last night when I got a chance to talk ed/politics live on The Rick Smith Show. Thanks, Rick. 

Rick wanted my take on why, with public education teetering on the brink, there's so little campaign debate over ed issues? Why especially aren't Biden and Harris taking it to Trump and his ed secretary, DeVos for the way they have diverted billions in public education funding to private schools and privately-run charters or for the way they have tried to force schools to open under pandemic conditions without the necessary supports in place? 

Part of the answer is that Trump has been allowed to control the campaign agenda with his bombast and fascist demagoguery. Another part may lie in the Dems not wanting to revisit the Arne Duncan years during the Obama administration. Duncan's Race To The Top, with its use of federal funding to drive school closings, teacher firings, testing madness, and privatization actually set the table for DeVos. 

The Democrat's official ed platform, heavily influenced by the progressive wing of the party, is actually pretty good. But neither Biden nor Harris seem willing to mention it. Maybe it's part of their attempt to keep a safe distance from the progressives. 

Trump bailed out by NBC

While Trump is losing in the polls...
 He is still controlling the media agenda with direct or tacit support from big media. Look no further than the competing Town Hall meetings scheduled for today in lieu of a second Biden/Trump debate. 

The Trump NBC town hall will air at exactly the same time as Biden is speaking on ABC. This after Trump abruptly withdrew from the scheduled second head-to-head debate after the Commission on Presidential Debates decided to stage the event virtually over concerns that Trump might still be contagious with the coronavirus.

According to the Times:
 Even journalists inside NBC and MSNBC were taken aback at the network’s decision to air the event opposite an already scheduled ABC forum with Joe Biden, meaning Americans can’t watch both candidates live.
Here's some reaction...

 This is a bad result for American voters, who should not be forced to choose which to watch. So much is still going wrong with how TV journalism copes, or still fails to cope, with @realDonaldTrump.

Yes, #Vote. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Trump used the last debate to send signals to right-wing militia. What is his plan for the next one?

Trump fave Sen. Mike Lee says, "We're not a democracy."
TRUMP: Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s gotta do something about Antifa and the left, because this is not a right wing problem, this is a left-wing problem.”

 “Standing by sir,” co-chairman Enrique Tarrio said on the platform Parler, which is known for hosting far-right and extremist groups. “President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA… well sir! we’re ready!!”

The Next Debate...Covid-infected and steroid-addled Trump is threatening not to show up for the next debate with Biden unless it is held face-to-face where he can do the most damage. But it's clear to me he's bluffing. 

Democrats are playing it cool, saying that Biden will participate whether it's face-to-face or zoomed. But my question is, why? Another debate under these conditions is of no benefit to Biden or anyone else. At this point, Biden's big lead in the polls is about as wide as it's going to get. 

It's Trump who thinks he needs another platform for his demagoguery and racist appeals to his shrinking and demoralized MAGA base. This even though Republicans saw voters peel away in large numbers after the first debate. 

The last debate was an abomination with Trump putting on his worst bully-boy performance against a vanilla Biden. No need to rehash the particulars, except for one. DT used the first debate platform to issue his "stand down, stand by" shoutout to white supremacist Proud Boy thugs and various right-wing militia groups who, it turns out, were already plotting and planning acts of terrorism. 

This wasn't the debating tactic of a man trying to move voters in his party's direction. After the debate, Biden's poll margin widened to double-digit with only a few weeks left in the campaign. Rather, it was part of an ongoing Republican strategy aimed at undermining democracy, discrediting the election, and blatantly moving towards an extra-electoral (read fascist) attempt to hang on to power regardless of the outcome. 

Other Republicans picked up on the signal and are justifying a possible Trump coup with polemics against democracy. Trump fave, Sen. Mike Lee for one, (R-UT) declared Wednesday,

 “We’re not a democracy...We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that."

Trump's signal to the militias... DT, despite feigning ignorance of Proud Boys and other right-wing militia groups the other night, had to know that the so-called Wolverine Watchmen terrorists were plotting to storm the State Capitol, instigate a civil war, kill police, and abduct the governor of Michigan ahead of the presidential election. After all, the group had long been infiltrated by the FBI and was under constant surveillance by AG Barr's Justice Dept.

Armed right-wing militia at MI state capitol in May.

With probable knowledge of the planned FBI arrests, Trump's debate call to "stand down and stand by" can be interpreted as more than a shout-out to the groups, but also as a warning of the impending crackdown.

He then called Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan “the lockup queen” even as his own Justice Department was announcing the existence of an anti-government group’s plot to kidnap her.

Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!"

Trump's criminal use of the debate stage to send signals to white-supremacist terrorists should certainly mean his exclusion from the debate stage, not to mention possible criminal charges in the future. 

Columnist Paul Waldman in the Washington Post writes:

We are already in an age of minority rule. If Republicans manage to hang on to their power, it will get much worse... Ask yourself this: Is there any action you can think of, perhaps outside of literally dropping nuclear bombs on cities where Democrats live, about which you could say “Republicans would never go that far”?

 No, there aren't. 


Thursday, October 8, 2020

Harris started hot and then let Pence escape and evade


M.Klonsky pic

The much anticipated V.P. debate turned out to be a dud with Pence ducking and dodging every question and SenKamala Harris overly restrained and moderator Susan Page failing to go after him. 

I liked Harris a lot better in that primary debate back in June, when she went aggressively after Joe Biden for his backward role in the school integration battles of the '70s. Remember her devastating line, "that little girl was me."

Last night she started hot. 
Well, the American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country. And here are the facts. 210,000 dead people in our country in just the last several months. Over 7 million people who have contracted this disease. One in five businesses closed.  We're looking at frontline workers who have been treated like sacrificial workers. We are looking at over 30 million people who in the last several months had to file for unemployment. And here's the thing, on January 28, the vice president and the president were informed about the nature of this pandemic. They were informed that it's lethal in consequence, that it is airborne, that it will affect young people and that it would be contracted because it is airborne. And they knew what was happening, and they didn't tell you. 
But then cooled off. 

Should have been BOOM! DEBATE OVER! But it wasn't. Instead, Trump's loyal V.P. was allowed to repeatedly escape and evade, steal time with long non-sequiturs, violate time limits, mansplain issues of race, criminal justice, China, and the economy, and put Kamala on the defensive on so-called, "court-packing."

Pence's outright lies were received with skeptical smiles but mainly went unchecked with little or no follow-up questioning from Page or anticipated counter-attack from Harris.  

Eg...Pence, defending Trump and himself on their failure to control pandemic-spread, praised D.T. for his supposed suspension of all travel from China. He lied. Thousands were exempted from the partial ban. Plus it was travelers from Europe, not China, who brought the pandemic to NY.

On the environment: Pence's claim that "our water is among the cleanest in the world" went unchallenged, except of course, from what I imagine were thousands of fist-shaking viewers in Flint, MI. 

He went on to deny the existence of systemic racism in the U.S., in effect supporting Trump's ban on teaching about the history of racism in schools or anti-racism training in the workplace.

Pence stonewalled Page's question about whether or not he and D.T. would accept the election results if they lost. Page quickly moved on and Harris didn't pursue. 

Trump's current squashing of a bi-partisan COVID-relief bill in order to fast-track his supreme court nomination never even came up. 

And so it went. 

Interesting side note: The term "the American people" was used 57 times in just two hours, mainly by Pence. I cringed every time he said it, knowing that he was using the term to represent his base of mainly white, male MAGAs.  
PENCE: I think the American people know that this is a president who has put the health of America first...But when you say what the American people have done over these last eight months hasn't worked, that's a great disservice to the sacrifices the American people have made... and I'm going to speak up on behalf of what the American people have done...President Trump and I have great confidence in the American people and their ability to take that information and put it into practice...We told the American people what needed to be done and the American people made the sacrifices. 
We sure as hell did sacrifice...212K dead. 


Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley castigated Pence after he invoked the nickname AOC for Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during the debate. 
“Pence you are obsessed,” the Massachusetts congresswoman wrote. “She’s a prolific legislator, a historymaker, a movement leader, I get it. But stop being so familiar. Titles matter & she’s earned hers. It’s CONGRESSWOMAN Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, AUTHOR of the Green New Deal.”

But the most likely takeaway, the thing people will long remember about this debate, was the fly that landed on Pence's head and offered us viewers a few moments of hilarity, diversion from the two-hour nothing-burger on the stage.

I doubt if anything else that occurred on that stage will move the needle by even a point.

With COVID-stricken, steroid-addled Trump's announcement yesterday that he won't participate in the next presidential debate, last night's event will likely be the last of this campaign's televised debates. 

Fine with me. 

Monday, October 5, 2020


Dr. James Phillips, Attending physician at Walter Reed

“This is insanity...Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die...For political theater,” the doctor added. -- Guardian
Trump to advisor

 “Don’t tell anyone.” -- WSJ

Sean Conley, Trump's doctor

Conley on Sunday defended the decision to not disclose that the President was administered oxygen by saying he wanted to "reflect the upbeat attitude of the team."

"I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the President, his course of illness has had. I didn't want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so it came off that we were trying to hide something," Conley said, adding that "wasn't necessarily true." -- CNN

 Columnist Moira Donegan

America has a super-spreader president. He put us all – and himself – at risk. -- Guardian

 Billionaire hedge funder Ray Dalio on capitalism’s crisis

Capitalists don’t divide the economic pie very well, he says, and so today the capitalist system, the foundation of the U.S. economy, is not working efficiently and effectively enough for all. 

“Capitalism also produces large wealth gaps that produce opportunity gaps, which threaten the system...What’s going on is an economic downturn together with a large wealth gap and the rising power of China challenging the existing power of the United States. -- Market Watch

Friday, October 2, 2020

More campaign chaos as COVID rocks the WH

 Trump at the debate: "I don’t wear masks like [Biden]. Every time you see him, he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from me, and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen."

Just when you thought there could be no real October surprises... 

I mean what new sordid tale could possibly be left to tell about the Trump White House, that snakepit of grifters, fascists, and white supremacists, who are largely responsible for the deaths of more than 204,000 U.S. COVID victims? This, even after Tuesday's vile debate performance in Cleveland Tuesday night where the president mocked his opponent and bragged, "I don't wear masks like him".

Now we know. With only a month to go before election day comes word that DT and Melania have both contracted the deadly coronavirus. The carefully constructed media story now being dribbled out is that they got it from White House official Hope Hicks, the former fashion model who, at age 26 was conscripted to be his campaign press secretary, even though she had never worked in politics and had no campaign experience. 

I'm sure that scenario will be rewritten and fine-tuned a hundred times once it's dug into. And in the days ahead we may learn the real story of how many others on the WH staff, the secret service, military leaders, or Republican pols have also been infected, directly or indirectly by super-spreader Trump? How many thousands more mask-disdaining MAGA rally-goers, Sturgis, S.D.-visiting bikers, or thousands of others who simply bought into Trump's fantastic tales about the COVID "hoax", or his hydroxychloroquine, sunlight, and bleach remedies, have died or are suffering from this interminable pandemic?

And let's not forget that Joe Biden, staffers, camera people, and technicians spent more than 90 minutes on a stage with the President. His family and his other guests were in the audience where Team Trump refused to wear masks.

Now it appears the chickens have come home to roost. October surprises? Buckle up. There's still a month left in the campaign and promises of more political chaos down the road.