Monday, January 25, 2021


 Dave Zirin on Henry Aaron

We have lost someone who, even though he played much of his career in Atlanta, was a fierce foe of Jim Crow—and then the New Jim Crow, with its savage inequities in the criminal justice system. As he once said, with his deep and sincere humility, “Am I a hero? I suppose I am, to some people. If I am, I hope it’s not only for my home runs.… I hope it’s also for my beliefs, my stands, my opinions. Still, I’m not at ease being a hero.” -- He Had a Hammer

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez response to an assassination threat from a Trump supporter:
“On one hand you have to laugh, and on the other know that the reason they were this brazen is because they thought they were going to succeed.” -- @AOC

AFT Prez Randi Weingarten

With robust testing, we can open schools this spring before the vaccine is widely available.We have spent months studying this problem and finding solutions. We know how to minimize risks enough for everyone to trust being back in a classroom. -- USA Today 

Hunts Point striker Ismael Cancela

 “We worked through a pandemic. I’ve been working here for 28 years, and it’s hard work,” said Ismael Cancela, a warehouse worker and Local 202 member. He told me that the offer of a 32-cents-per-hour-raise was a “slap in the face.” -- The Intercept

Biden's Health and Human Services nominee Xavier Becerra 

...Tells CNN Sunday that the country was experiencing an uncontrolled spread of the virus. "The plane in a nosedive. And we've got to pull it up." -- The Hill

 Jake Laperruque

No, we do not need new terrorism laws. The Capitol riot wasn’t caused by a lack of legal authority. -- Slate

Dr. Anthony Fauci

“The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence and science is, and know that’s it — let the science speak — it is somewhat of a liberating feeling.”  -- Maddow

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Indict them.

The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. Trump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results. -- NYT

Impeachment aside, if this isn't enough for the Attorney General and state prosecutors to put Trump, Giuliani, Jeffrey Clark, and the rest of their co-conspirators behind bars for a decade or two, they should turn in their prosecutor badges and find another line of work. 

The latest...The acting head of DOJ's civil division spoke with Trump about a plan to overturn the presidential election and then told Acting AG Rosen that he was going to be replaced in order for the plan to be implemented. But then came the problem. DOJ senior leaders threatened to quit en masse and let the cat out of the bag. 

According to the NYT:

Mr. Trump’s decision came only after Mr. Rosen and Mr. Clark made their competing cases to him in a bizarre White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of Mr. Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” albeit one that could prompt a constitutional crisis.

If Trump's plotting to fire Rosen, on top of his phone call to Georgia election officials, on top of his provoking the MAGA riot at the Capitol aren't indictable, what the hell is?

The real question here is, do Democratic leaders have the nerve to go after the grifter WH crew and the Trump family on criminal charges rather than, or alongside another impeachment trial down the road?

All I know is, if D.T. was Black and had filched some laundry soap from Safeway, he'd be rotting in jail. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Not with a bang but a whimper.[

Hollow Men
So this is the way Trump goes out. Not with a bang but a whimper, to borrow from T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men. And if there was ever a fitting description for D.T. and his White House crew, hollow men (and women) is it. 

His MAGA insurrection apparently has turned out to be a dud, having shot its wad on January 6th. His Republican Party is in tatters as rumors spread of a new fascist "Patriot Party" under his command. Democrats can only wish. 

His plan for lifetime immunity from criminal prosecution evaporated after his own lawyers told him that pardons for himself and his grifter family wouldn't hold up in state courts and would only further incriminate him. The only hope the grifter clan has for staying out of prison rests with his appointed Supreme Court trio or the benevolence of Biden and the Democrats. 

Ironically, the one pardon he issued of any consequence was for his fascist muse, Steve Bannon, who stands accused of bilking Trump's own supporters out of hundreds of millions of dollars, money that was supposed to go towards building his glorious border wall. As P.T. Barnum used to say: "There's a sucker born every minute."

This morning's planned farewell rally, originally envisioned as a counter-inauguration, turned into little more than fodder for SNL with invitees being asked to bring five guests with them. The irony, which may have been lost on the dum-dums in the tiny crowd, was the playing of Credence's Fortunate Son as D.T.'s chopper landed at Edwards. 

It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no millionaire's son
It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no fortunate one

Gotta go now. Gaga is singing the National Anthem at the Inauguration. She'll be followed by JLo doing This Land is Your Land. 

Wish you were here to see this, Woody. 

Monday, January 18, 2021


Dr. King is arrested for "loitering" in Montgomery, Alabama, in September 1958.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
The problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated. -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “The Radical King”, Beacon Press

WHO's Mike Ryan on year 1 of Covid

We can blame climate change. We can blame policy decisions made 30 years ago regarding everything from urbanization to the way we exploit the forest," he said. "You can find people to blame in every level of what we're doing on this planet." -- Beacon Journal 

President-elect Joe Biden

 “We remain in a very dark winter,” Mr. Biden told Americans on Friday. “The honest truth is this: Things will get worse before they get better.” -- New York Times

 Bill Barr To Trump...

Your 'clownish' legal team is lying and your voter fraud claims are 'bullsh*t'. -- Crooks & Liars

Jesse Wegman

 The rioters incited by President Trump and Republicans to storm the seat of the federal government on Jan. 6 did not have Mr. Warnock’s name on their lips. They didn’t have to. In their eagerness to destroy American democracy rather than share it, they showed themselves to be the inheritors of a long tradition of rebellion against a new world order: a genuine, multiracial democracy. -- New York Times Op-Ed


Friday, January 15, 2021

Trump's last few days. 'Loot, pillage, and burn.'

National Guard Troops sleeping on the floor of the Capitol.

Trump isn't sticking around D.C. until the very end
. He's hopping on the next Air Force 1 headed for Florida where he can watch in the safety of Mar-a-Lago as his confederate gangs threaten to lynch lawmakers and try and bring D.C. and 50 state capitols to a violent, chaotic halt. They won't succeed in restoring the defeated Trump regime to power. But they could leave many casualties and lots of property damage in their wake again. The state's repressive forces arrayed against them, will likely be a deterrent. If not, they will be overpowering. As many as 25 thousand troops are so far deployed. That's more than are currently deployed in the Middle East. 

By this afternoon, 43 troops had reportedly tested positive for coronavirus. 

The problem with state repressive forces is that they threaten the freedom and civil liberties of all of us, not just the fascists and white supremacist MAGA thugs. And that repressive, official militarized force, aided and abetted by a reactionary Supreme Court, is just what the MAGAs are trying to provoke. There's already a Republican-led move, likely to draw some Democratic support, to push through new anti-riot laws. As if there isn't a shitload of those already on the books. 

Within one day of last week’s attack on the Capitol, at least three states used the MAGA insurrection as an excuse to introduce legislation to criminalize protest, legislation that couldn't have passed in the days following the Black Lives Matter protests. There's even talk, now circulating within both parties, of dusting off old anti-sedition laws.  

In his last days in office, Trump and what's left of his party, are carrying out their loot, pillage, and burn strategy in order to make it impossible for Biden to implement pandemic relief or to undo the political and economic damage the Republicans caused during the past four years. 

Among the Trumpists' last-days priorities is the carrying out of court-sanctioned federal executions.  A Black man, Corey Johnson, 52, became the twelfth inmate put to death at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana since the Trump administration restarted federal executions following a 17-year hiatus. He was pronounced dead at 11:34 last night. His execution followed by days the killing of the only woman on federal death row: Lisa Montgomery.

Dustin Higgs will likely be put to death tonight

What a monstrous regime! It's not hard to imagine what the years ahead might look like had Trump been reelected. It may be too late, even with the impeachment process, to keep him and his cult followers at bay during these next 5 days and beyond.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Dow is still a four-letter word to me

“Dow is committed to the principles of democracy and the peaceful transfer of power. Our values – integrity, respect for people, and protecting our planet – are the foundation on which we stand and our values guide our political contributions,” the company wrote.

Ruling Class Splits are important to note and utilize, when possible. But this one is unfathomable. The chemical giant Dow has announced it's suspending all PAC contributions “to any member of Congress who voted to object to the certification of the presidential election.” The suspension will last for one election cycle — two years for representatives and up to six years for senators.

Upon hearing this news, an old San Fernando Valley State College SDS comrade sent me some old clips to remind me of the battles we SDSers waged against Dow, the main manufacturer of napalm and other chemical weapons during the Vietnam War. 

 On May 7, 1966, Daily Breeze reporter 
Bob Rawitch [my former editor at the SFVC Daily Sundial] sat in on a regional meeting in Los Angeles of a relatively new left-wing group, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). In the next day’s Breeze, he reported on the group’s tentative plans to picket the Dow plant in Torrance and to distribute 5,000 leaflets protesting the use of napalm in the Vietnam War.

The demonstration was scheduled for Saturday, May 28, during the Memorial Day weekend. Two pro-war groups announced plans to counter the SDS protest: the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), and the Victory in Viet Nam Association (VIVA), whose South Bay branch was headed by future congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Dow plant manager vowed to conduct “business as usual” at the plant during the protest, and Torrance Police Chief Walter Koenig assured residents that the department was equipped to handle “any demonstration disturbance that might arise.”

NO BUSINESS AS USUAL soon became our mantra as we shut down universities across the country in protest of Dow Chemical and the genocidal war from which they were profiteering and still are. 

Fast forward 56 years and we find Dow, their brand threatened by association after last week's MAGA assault on the Capitol, announcing that they were cutting donations to the election deniers.  

Over the weekend, several other large companies — Marriott, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Commerce Bancshares — announced a suspension of donations to members of Congress who voted against election certification. Monday, the list expanded to Amazon, AT&T, Comcast, Airbnb, Mastercard, and Verizonlp. Hallmark has even asked for its money back from two of the senators who opposed certification, Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall. 

But here's the thing. Only those who just fell off the pumpkin truck will buy this sudden corporate about-face. Temporarily cutting-off donations, with a wink and a nod to right-wing PACs, only makes people more aware that these companies have been buying politicians and underwriting Trump and his MAGAs to the tune of millions each year since 2016. And there's little doubt that they've gotten their money's worth. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Wednesday was a MAGA dress rehearsal

It appears that Wednesday's assault on the U.S. Capitol was only a dress rehearsal for so-called Million Militia Marches leading up to Inauguration Day, with armed white-supremacist and fascist groups primed to attack government buildings and perceived enemy politicians in all 50 states. 

As with the online chatter ahead of that assault on the Capitol, new online calls to action are rife with insurrection talk and vows to bring guns to Washington in defiance of the city's strict weapons laws. Twitter cited some of these posts in its announcement Friday night stripping Trump of his account and preventing him from creating new ones in the future. Some event listings are openly discussing delivering "justice" for Ashli Babbitt, a rioter and Air Force veteran who was fatally shot by police inside the Capitol on Wednesday.

Unlike the first assault, which was an attempt to overturn the Democrats' electoral victory and keep Trump in power, the next actions, planned or unplanned, reflect a lack of faith in electoral politics on the part of the MAGAs. An online militia forum called for recruits in Kentucky because "diplomatic efforts have been exhausted."

Whereas the last riot had a semi-official air about it, having been inspired and called for by the POTUS himself, the next rounds will be organized mainly by loosely-affiliated Republican and other right-wing groups, Proud Boys, and neo-Confederates, who apparently have given up on any electoral or constitutional path to power. Most have already turned on Trump and Pence for having sold them out last week. 

For example, the St. Croix County, WI Republican Party is telling its members to "prepare for war" and to remove "leftist tyrants" from office. Scrawled across the top of the party's homepage is the Latin phrase "Si vis pacem, para bellum," which is followed by its translation: "If you want peace, prepare for war."

But rather than influence the next elections, the next wave is designed to cause fear and chaos, including disruption of the pandemic recovery. This, the very definition of terrorism. 

The question prepared will police, FBI, Secret Service, and the military be for another round of riots? Once shooting begins, security efforts have already failed and the fascists have succeeded. They are quite willing to use their rank-and-file protesters as human shields and cannon fodder. Another question has to do with cops and even elected officials taking part or even leading the assaults as was the case Wednesday. 

Here in Chicago, aldermen and community activists are demanding the resignation of John Catanzara, the President of the Fraternal Order of Police after he came out in full-throated support of the Trumpists, making excuses for the riots even as rioters caused the deaths of capitol cops. 


As long as we're talking impeachment, why not start here? Globally, there were more than a half-million new corona cases reported yesterday. One-third of them in the U.S. alone. US deaths: 375,373 (up 1,365 from yesterday). This with a president and political regime purposefully sabotaging Covid recovery and enabling massive profiteering off the pandemic. 


The department with the oxymoronic name Homeland Security is in total shambles and that's probably a good thing. With the main threat to national security coming from the White House rather than from foreign terrorists, and the inability (unwillingness) of the regime to protect even itself against Trump-inspired, white-supremacist, domestic terrorism, another DHS director has called it quits. 

Chad Wolf, who was never formally appointed, lasted only 14 months before joining the mass exodus of rats from this sinking ship. How do you "resign" from a post to which you were never appointed? Beats me. Wolf was roundly condemned for his role as Trump's wingman in the war on immigrants. If one thing has become clear since Wednesday, it's that the main threat to homeland security is homegrown, not imported.

Monday, January 11, 2021



Another man, wearing a red Trump hat, told the officers, “We backed you guys in the summer. When the whole country hated you, we had your back.” At this point, one officer guarding the door said to the others, “They’re ready to roll,” and gestured to them to come with him, the video shows. The officers stepped away from the door together and moved to an adjacent wall. -- Washington Post

Joe Biden 

"We need a Republican Party..." -- Intelligencer 

You fill in the rest. Ie. "like a fish needs a bicycle." 

 Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Wednesday was the day of broken glass right here in the United States. The broken glass was in the windows of the United States Capitol. But the mob did not just shatter the windows of the Capitol. They shattered the ideas we took for granted.” -- Video
Robert Reich
That the attempted coup failed shouldn’t blind us to its significance or the stain it has left on America. Nor to the importance of holding those responsible fully accountable. Trump’s culpability is beyond dispute. -- Guardian 

 Mike Davis

Predictably liberal pundits are now telling us that the far-right has committed suicide, that the age of Trump has ended, and that the Democrats are free to build their shining city on the hill. In fact, the riot was a deus ex machina that lifted the curse of Trump from the careers of conservative war hawks and rightwing young lions whose higher ambitions have been fettered by the presidential cult. -- Guardian

Chicago F.O.P. Prez

 “As your President, I showed a lapse in judgement [sic] yesterday during an interview. For that I am sorry. I brought negative attention to our Lodge, the FOP family, and law enforcement in general. -- Sun-Times

Fascist site folds. Abandoned by corporate backers

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Double win in GA could provide resources needed for a safe national school-reopening campaign

What a great double victory in GA! 
I stayed up most of the night watching the results come in like any good political junkie would. Now I'm trying to unwind and crank out a blog post before grabbing some badly-needed shut-eye. 

Wins for John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, against tough odds, open up new possibilities for Biden to transcend his "bi-partisan" fantasy and advance a progressive agenda that begins to undo much of the damage from the Trump era. As of this writing, Warnock has been declared the winner while Ossoff's lead of 16,370 votes is now greater than that of Joe Biden's over Donald Trump in Georgia (11,779 votes). 

I'm imagining with glee how DT must be beating up on his white supremacist toadies Loeffler and Perdue, over losing to a Jewish liberal and the Black preacher from Dr. King's old Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Thanks and some dough should go out to all the organizers on the ground throughout the state, led of course by Stacey Abrams and her statewide political organization as well as many union brothers and sisters from around the country (including Chicago) and the multi-racial movement of the poor and civil rights groups who have been plowing the Georgian political fields for decades. 

That progressive agenda includes real federal pandemic relief (immediately including $2,000 checks), rent, and debt-relief for those working, unemployed and poor families in greatest need and aggressively leading the war against COVID. 

It must also include a massive program of relief for public school systems ravaged under Betsy DeVos and her predecessors, as well as support for a national reopening of schools on the scale of the Marshall Plan. This federal initiative needs to be put in place apart from or alongside current hit-or-miss efforts by local school boards, many of which have been marked by confusion and division at a time when trust, clarity, and unity in the community are necessary prereqs. 

The key to a safe, full-scale reopening is prioritizing teachers and school staff for vaccination. They should be classified nationally as essential workers with schools used centers for vaccine distribution and community health education.

I'll be talking more about reopening our schools tonight at 10 ET on the Rick Smith Show. Tune in at

Monday, January 4, 2021


Right Ruling for the wrong reason...A British judge has blocked the extradition to the U.S. of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, ruling that “Mr. Assange’s risk of committing suicide, if an extradition order were to be made, to be substantial.”

Trump to Raffensperger

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have." Raffensperger’s Twitter response: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.” -- AP

Sen. Dick Durbin (IL)

President Trump's call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) "merits nothing less than a criminal investigation." In his statement calling for an investigation, the No. 2 Senate Democrat labeled the conversation as "more than a pathetic rambling, delusional rant."

"His disgraceful effort to intimidate an elected official into deliberately changing and misrepresenting the legally confirmed vote totals in his state strikes at the heart of our democracy and merits nothing less than a criminal investigation." -- The Hil

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backs Pelosi for Speaker

...a progressive leader, backed Pelosi and told reporters that Democratic unity was important “at a time when the Republican Party is attempting an electoral coup.” -- AP

Trump ~ Fauci

The number of "China Virus" cases and deaths in the U.S. are "far exaggerated," President Donald Trump said on Twitter. He cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's methodology. "When in doubt, call it Covid. Fake News!" Trump said.

Anthony Fauci, speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, said anyone who went into the "trenches" – intensive care units at hospitals across the nation – will quickly realize how severe the virus is. He called the statistics "real numbers, real people and real deaths."

Trump shot back on Twitter: "Something how Dr. Fauci is revered by the LameStream Media as such a great professional, having done, they say, such an incredible job, yet he works for me and the Trump Administration, and I am in no way given any credit for my work. Gee, could this just be more Fake News?" --  USA Today

Friday, January 1, 2021

Big changes needed if we are to control the global pandemic and open schools here.

OK, Merle. We've made it through December. Now what?

As we head into the new year, I'm thinking like everyone else, good riddance to Trump and 2020. I've had the words to the old Merle Haggard song, If We Make It Through December, buzzing through my brain. But by yesterday afternoon, I've had reset my expectations to... if we make it through the '20s... 

NBC reports that Pence's so-called Operation Warp Speed is moving at such a crawl that adequately vaccinating Americans will take 10 years at the current pace. Unless things change quickly, that will wreak havoc on global pandemic recovery, including school openings here in the U.S. 

Sorry to sound so gloomy at the start of a new year. I'm really not. Unlike some of my lefty friends who think the history of progress ended with Bernie's primary loss, I am bouyed by Trump's defeat and will be even more so if Warnock and Ossoff pull off victories in Georgia next week.

However, I'm definitely a school-opening person and schools can't open safely without a mass inoculation program for all teachers and school staff and ultimately, kids and parents. All that's now looking more and more out of reach -- at least for a spring school opening. 

JUST IN: 143,924 people in Illinois — including Chicago — have gotten the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Gov. Pritzker’s office. That includes all residents and staff members who consented to the vaccine at state-run veterans’ homes, officials say.

That's good, but not nearly good enough. The reason for the under-inoculation? Sabotage by the Republicans and the Trump White House who have strangled the states and cities since the start of the pandemic. The latest puny pandemic recovery bill, passed with bipartisan support, was a slap in the face for working families, the unemployed, and local municipalities overwhelmed by COVID recovery efforts. 

Without massive federal support, it will be ten times more difficult to get the pandemic under control and for schools to open safely.

ONE FINAL POINT HERE --- Vaccine nationalism has become the main impediment to containing the pandemic. Trump's December 8th executive order specifying that the Americans get first access to any vaccine, formalized with fanfare what has already been de facto U.S. policy. And it's obviously been a failure, not only in terms of spreading the vaccine globally but here as well. 

The lesson is that given the global economy, no country is safe from the ravages of COVID while the rest of the world is in the clutches of this killer disease. 

Even in China, where the virus has been under control for months, a small mutation entering the country on a visitor or in a shipment of food, can throw the entire country into chaos and another lockdown. 

With the White House withholding foreign aid and shipments of vaccine to needy countries, they are increasingly turning to China for the vaccine. 

Fighting COVID requires a global effort and global scientific and medical collaboration. Cold War, anti-China containment policies currently in fashion in both parties just won't do. The incoming Biden administration has an opportunity to tone down the Trumpian rhetoric and reach new trade and anti-COVID agreements with China for the sake of world peace, health, and stability. 

In the latest issue of Foreign AffairsFareed Zakaria argues that the United States needs to temper its reflexive hostility toward China, recognize China’s rise as a feature of the new global order, and craft a strategy of engagement plus deterrence. I'm not sure what he means by "deterrence" but this is a much better line than the one currently holding sway. 

The consequences of exaggerating the Soviet threat were vast: gross domestic abuses during the McCarthy era; a dangerous nuclear arms race; a long, futile, and unsuccessful war in Vietnam; and countless other military interventions in various so-called Third World countries. The consequences of not getting the Chinese challenge right today will be vaster still. 

He's right.