Monday, November 30, 2020

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

'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.” --
WaPO

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.

Grifters

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

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'├ętat

A coup or coup d'├ętat 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

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

 


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

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

 

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
D.T.

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