Monday, May 31, 2021


 Already there have been more global cases in 2021 than in all of 2020, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Dr. Anthony Fauci 

“We don’t want to declare victory prematurely because we still have a ways to go." -- Guardian
Elizabeth Todd-Breland, Chicago school board member

"Turnaound is a relic..." -- Chalkbeat Chicago 

Rebecca Solnit

Stop glorifying ‘centrism’. It is an insidious bias favoring an unjust status quo. -- Guardian

Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, the bill's sponsor

“For years, folks were showing up to Chicago Police Board meetings for their civic duty and every citizen who showed up experienced a background check. That’s a violation of so many people’s rights.” -- -- Capitol Fax

Fred Klonsky

We live in a country where the state legislature must mandate play but congress doesn't need to approve a war. -- Tweet

Friday, May 28, 2021

The Trump Party confederates are still whistling 'Dixie'

Of course, the neo-confederate GOP leadership is opposed to another probe of their 1/6 attempted coup d'etat. To them, the coup wasn't a crime but rather a great success that will enable them to seize back the power they lost in the election in much the same way as their forebearers did it in 1861. D.T. is their Jefferson Davis. Like Trump, Davis never surrendered his white supremacist lost cause.

The final vote was 54-35, but Republicans withheld the votes necessary to bring the bill up for debate. Just six GOP senators joined with the Democrats today, leaving the measure short of the 60 votes needed to proceed.

According to the recent Reuters/Ipos poll, 53% of Republicans believe Trump, their party's nominee, is the “true president” now, compared to 3% of Democrats and 25% of all Americans. The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that 61% of Republicans believe the election was "stolen" from Trump. 

More to the point, the confederates not only believe it, but MAGA politicians are actively working to pass new restrictive voting laws in their states, laws they hope will enable them to limit the voting impact of the new Black/Latinx/immigrant majority and consolidate their ideological hold on millions of their followers while paving their way back into the majority in both houses in 2022 and into the White House in 2024. 

The neo-confederates are also using their power to impose restrictions on what teachers can or cannot teach about the history of slavery and racial discrimination. The've especially targeted the 1619 Curriculum and its creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, along with Critical Race Theory as wedge issues to spread fear and whip up a white backlash. 

The question is, how will Biden and the Democrats respond? How many concessions will Biden, Schumer and Pelosi make in the name of "bipartisanship"? 

Jefferson Davis was imprisoned after the Civil War, a fate that should await D.T. and his fellow neo-confederate leaders. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Delmarie Cobb offers her take on Chicago's press corps

Delmarie Cobb on Hitting Left radio in 2017. 

Veteran media and political consultant, Delmarie Cobb responded, in her recent newsletter, to Lori  Lightfoot's decision to give preferential interviews to journalists of color on Lightfoot's second anniversary as Mayor of Chicago. 

Cobb agrees with Lightfoot's assessment of the current predominantly-white City Hall press corps and then takes it to the next level. 

Yes, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a point about the predominantly white press corps. With the retirements of Charles Thomas of ABC/7 and Derrick Blakley of CBS/2, there is a small number of high profile, seasoned political reporters covering City Hall and Springfield for the mainstream media who are Black.

That still doesn’t address the near extinction of community media outlets and the role they play in nurturing and cultivating qualified journalists. It was the Chicago Defender that produced political journalists Vernon Jarrett and Lu Palmer. Currently, there are a number of working reporters in Chicago who got their start in the field thanks to Black newspapers.

Cobb's point is well taken. While local media workers and staff, along with Guild leaders, like the Tribune's Gregg Pratt, we're righteously outraged about the Alden hedge-funder's takeover of the Tribune Co. and even went begging for some benevolent billionaire to replace Alden,  they've been deadly silent for years about the takedown of community media outlets, especially those that were Black-owned. 

They were much more vocal and militant when it came to pushing back on Lightfoot's affirmative-action move, even joining in chorus with the likes of Tucker Carlson and Ted Cruz in their condemnation of supposed "reverse racism."

As the Alden hedge-funders dismantle the last of the city's remaining newspapers, it's worth recalling Ben Franklin's old dictum: Hang together or hang separately.

Monday, May 24, 2021


The Biden administration set aside $4 billion to help minority farmers. White farmers, echoing some old-guard Chicago journalists, complain that leveling the playing field amounts to "reverse racism."

“We’re getting the short end,” said John Wesley Boyd Jr., a Virginia bean and grain farmer who is also the founder of the National Black Farmers Association. “Anytime in the United States, if there’s money for Blacks, those groups speak up and say how unfair it is. But it’s not unfair when they’re spitting on you when they’re calling you racial epithets when they’re tearing up your application.” -- NYT 
Columnist Laura Washington

Harold Washington, Chicago’s first Black mayor, frequently called out the media for the whiteness in the City Hall press room. -- Sun-Times

Tucker Carlson

"Equity is racism..." -- Fox News 

Siva Vaidhyanathan, Professor of Media studies at UVA

What is at stake with Nikole Hannah-Jones being denied tenure?

...The 1619 project sparked a furious blowback from conservatives who don’t like to be reminded that Black people are allowed to tell the story of America as well and that history is always under revision as new knowledge emerges and new questions rise. -- Guardian

Father Michael Pfleger

After nearly 5 months of being removed from St. Sabina because of False Accusations, I am overjoyed to announce that the Archdiocese of Chicago has said " there is insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations "  I am being reinstated as Senior Pastor of  St Sabina. -- FB Post

Journalist Jamie Kalven on police complaint database

Kalven told aldermen that a city-run database would represent a “paradigm shift” in how the city discloses complaints against officers and “significantly reduce demands” on city staff charged with providing documents via the Freedom of Information Act. -- WTTW

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Mayor's round of interviews with journos provokes cries of ‘reverse racism’

Breaking... Lightfoot gives an exclusive interview to a young, Black, & critical journalist. And guess what? Chicago doesn’t crumble into the lake. 

Of all the attacks on Mayor Lori Lightfoot's challenge to the long-standing, embedded system of white-skin privilege in the ranks of City Hall reporters, there's one that creeped me out the most.

No, it wasn't NBC anchor Mary Ann Ahern's -- "Does [Mayor Lightfoot] think I’m racist?"

Nor was it Trib reporter and Guild Prez Greg Pratt's claim that political leaders shouldn't be allowed to choose who they give interviews to. Of course, that is complete nonsense. It's hard to think of a president, governor, senator, or Chicago mayor who hasn't chosen a journo to interview them. The Mayor's choice of a journalist of color over the traditionally white old City Hall guard was clearly making a point and a good point.

Pratt's pushback against Lightfoot's call for newsroom diversity put him on the same shaky ground with fellow Tribune columnist and Chicago's premier defender of whiteness, John Kass

In case anyone doubts Kass's premiership, check out  his faux-hip Twitter post calling Chicago's first Black, gay, and female mayor, "Mayor Wokeness." Ugh!

No, it wasn't even retired CBS newsman, Jay Levine, also writing in the Trib, who accused MLL of trying to "run the newsrooms." I can't imagine that there were many Black women running Levine's CBS newsrooms back in the day. Levine even claimed that the Mayor's directive was "unconstitutional." He could be proven right if his case against media affirmative action ever came up before the current Trump-packed SCOTUS. 

No one should have been surprised then when a rag-tag chorus of right-wing MAGAs and white supremacists, took the local's lead and chimed in on the issue. From Tucker Carlson ("Lightfoot is a 'Nazi' and a "monster") to Ted Cruz crying "reverse racism." I would expect nothing less from Trumpies. Remember it was Trump himself who used his Twitter feed to launch almost daily misogynistic and racist rants targeting mostly urban, Democratic, female mayors including Mayor Lightfoot.

Although I admit I was somewhat amazed at how Lightfoot's provocative interview offer even became national grist for the Fox News mill. Was it Carlson's folly or Lightfoot's intention? I would guess, the latter. 

Okay, back to my opening point. I admit that what really got to me was the headline on the Sun-Times editorial page with this old saw:

Lightfoot raises the right point about diversity in Chicago journalism — but in the wrong way.
How many times have I heard this mantra over the past 60 years? We support your cause, but not the way you -- protesters, unions, civil rights leaders, King, SNCC, Baker, Harold Washington, Panthers, Black Lives Matter... -- are going about it.  

OK then S-T, Tribune, Washington Post, and the rest of the local and national corporate media. If you don't like the Mayor's way show us your way. Where has it been?


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Weak local media coverage of the protests

Thousands march in Brooklyn

Why has there been so little press coverage in Chicago media, aside from the small obligatory news reports, on the large, downtown protests, calling for an end to the Israeli attack on Gaza? Could it be because the marchers were overwhelmingly Palestinian and Arab? Or that the large protests, while militant, were mainly peaceful and disciplined? 

It seems that unless there are violent confrontations with police or rioting at protests, editors are relegating coverage of anti-war demonstrations to small stories on back pages with little or no in-depth reporting. 

I was also dumbstruck by the national timid media response to Israel's missile attack which leveled the building that housed AP/Al Jazeera/BBC offices in Gaza. 

A fake news story in Business Insider and elsewhere, claimed that former Associated Press editor, Matt Friedman, had backed Israel’s claim that the Hamas did, in fact, have offices inside the building.  

The Israel Defense Forces claimed the building contained military-intelligence assets for Hamas, including "intel for attacks against Israel." But they offered no proof or hard evidence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was all over the Sunday news shows calling the building a "perfectly legitimate target," and "a tower of terror." 

The Insider reports:

But Matti Friedman, who worked as a reporter and editor at the AP's Jerusalem bureau from 2006 to 2011, contradicted his former employer on Sunday, tweeting: "A conversation with a friend who is intimately familiar with military decision-making right now suggests there were indeed Hamas offices there."

But then, Friedman tweets in response:

In my two essays from 2014, I gave multiple examples of the way news organizations like the AP had been compromised by Hamas in Gaza. Contrary to what I’ve seen attributed to me today, I didn’t write that Hamas operated out of the same building, and don’t know if that’s true.

I have no idea as to whether or not Hamas really had an office in the building. But even if they did, given the fact that Hamas is part of the existing government coalition supported by most Palestinian citizens of Gaza and the West Bank, Israel's rationale for its missile strike against the foreign press offices has rightfully drawn international condemnation

Monday, May 17, 2021

WEEKEND QUOTABLES ...'Palestinian lives matter' -- Bernie Sanders

Israeli missiles destroy AP/Al Jazeera/BBC media offices in Gaza

MSNBC’s Ali Velshi

“Palestinians are at best third-class citizens in the nation of their birth. The idea that it’s even remotely controversial to call what Israel has imposed on Palestinians a form of apartheid is laughable.” -- Velshi

Peter Beinart, editor at large of Jewish Currents

"In our bones, Jews know that when you tell a people to forget its past you are not proposing peace. You are proposing extinction." -- Jewish Currents
Sen. Bernie Sanders

“[I]f the United States is going to be a credible voice on human rights on the global stage, we must uphold international standards of human rights consistently, even when it’s politically difficult. We must recognize that Palestinian rights matter. Palestinian lives matter.” -- New York Times Op-ed

CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad 

“President Biden has the political power and moral authority to stop these injustices. We urge him to stand on the side of the victims and not the victimizer." -- Politico


Apartheid states aren’t democracies.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

15 years later, CPS reclaims Duncan's AUSL 'turnaround schools'.

Piccolo parents protest the takeover of their school by AUSL in 2012. (Katie Osgood pic) 

"Yet for all the public attention, AUSL's results have been mixed; many students have made considerable progress, but as a group they still lag well behind district averages ... with many ending up on par or even below comparable neighborhood schools."
-- Chicago Tribune, 2/6/2012

Yesterday, CPS announced that it was reclaiming the so-called "turnaround schools" which were handed over to the private management and teacher training company, the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) in 2006. 

All I can say about this break from Arne Duncan's privatization "reforms" carried out under the banner of Renaissance 2010 and then rebranded as Race to the Top during his term as Sec. of Education, is -- it's about time. 

Lacking any research base and built on the false premise that private companies, hedge funders, and power philanthropists could best operate public institutions, AUSL's school takeover turned out to be an expensive and dismal flop.

AUSL was founded and run by Chicago venture capitalist Martin Koldyke, who used his connections and big campaign donations to become a powerhouse in the school turnaround business. Koldyke, a golf buddy of then-Mayor Daley, decided he could save the public school system by running it like a business. Koldyke's company, Frontenac, had been a big investor in for-profit colleges like DeVry and Rasmussen College.

Despite AUSL schools ranking at or near the bottom of the system, the company benefited from backing from Daley, and then from Rahm Emanuel. Rahm even selected a former AUSL top executive to oversee CPS' finances and named AUSL's previous board chairman, David Vitale, as president of the CPS Board of Education. With virtual control of the board and the central office, Koldyke was assured of a stable funding pipeline to his then 19 turnaround schools, even in the midst of a budget crisis when neighborhood schools were being starved of operating cash.

But as I pointed out here in 2012, 

 Chicago's turnarounds failed to meet even their own criteria of success and they paled in comparison to a large group of neighborhood schools being run more democratically with popularly-elected Local School Councils. More than 60 elementary-level high-poverty schools that have made school-based democracy a reality, out-achieved the top Turnaround School.
I still remember Duncan speaking to Dodge Elementary parents who were angry over his handing their school over to AUSL, without any input from the community, and promising them that they would be thrilled with his new Renaissance alternatives. 

WBEZ's Becky Vevea wrote at the time:

In 2008, Dodge was where then president-elect Barack Obama announced Duncan as his pick for Secretary of Education.

“He’s shut down failing schools and replaced their entire staffs, even when it was unpopular,” Obama said at the time. “This school right here, Dodge Renaissance Academy, is a perfect example. Since this school was revamped and reopened in 2003, the number of students meeting state standards has more than tripled.”

But fast forward another five years, turnarounds Dodge and Williams were closing their doors after being labeled as low-performing schools. And by 2013, CPS  had closed many of the schools Duncan had created.

Four years after it was opened CPS pulled the plug on “turnaround” school, Bethune Elementary. The Bethune staff had all been fired when AUSL took over. Duncan claimed that a "clean slate" would lead to better schools. He would go on to push that same baseless claim at the D.O.E., withholding federal funds from school districts unless they closed schools and fired teachers in mass.

Good move, CPS and Mayor Lightfoot in bringing these 31 schools back home to CPS and in taking steps to put the public back in public schooling. There's still a long way to go on that one.

Monday, May 10, 2021


Day 5 of the march from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965. The struggle continues. 

Nina Perales, vice president of litigation with MALDEF
“This phrase ['purity of the ballot'] in a modern bill is racism’s calling card.” -- Washington Post.
Outgoing CPS CEO Janice Jackson
“Jackson is proud of her accomplishments and says to critics who say she could have done more: ‘If I could deal with hundreds of years of racism and a century of disinvestment in Black and Brown communities in Chicago in four years or seven years, then I’m Jesus Christ.’” -- Sun-Times 
Bill Gates on his meetings with Epstein
“Every meeting where I was with him were meetings with men. I was never at any parties or anything like that. He never donated any money to anything that I know about." -- Daily Beast
Gordon Brown, former British prime minister
“This is a manmade catastrophe. By our failure to extend vaccination more rapidly to every country, we are choosing who lives and who dies.” -- Guardian


Friday, May 7, 2021

Firing squads replacing lethal drugs as the weapons of choice in carrying out state murders in S.C.

“My dying words will always be, as it has been, ‘I am an innocent man,’” Lee told the BBC in an interview published on April 19, 2017 — the day before officials in Arkansas administered the lethal injection.

To their credit, some pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer, have refused to sell death-penalty states the drugs they need to carry out lethal injections. I can't be sure if their refusal stems from fear of legal action against them. Perhaps there's simply greater profitability in flooding the market with prescription opioids than there is in rarely used death injections. I don't know. 

But the lack of availability of lethal drugs has become the rationale behind a bill approved this week by the South Carolina State House. It calls for firing squads to be used alongside execution and injection to kill death row prisoners. The lack of drugs, they say, is a key reason the state has not executed anyone in 10 years. 

The bill appears almost certain to become law in the next few days, and is being lauded by Republicans, including Gov. Henry McMaster. Passage would make South Carolina the fourth state — along with Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah — in which death by firing squad is an option for the condemned.

The firing squad measure was proposed by State Senator Richard A. Harpootlian, a Democrat and former prosecutor, who drafted the firing squad bill, claiming that it was more humane than the electric chair. 

“It’s an extraordinarily gruesome, horrendous process,” Harpootlian said of electrocution, “where they essentially catch on fire and don’t die immediately.”

Hard to argue that point. But calling death by firing squad "humane" only shows the depths to which a society and a culture can sink, especially when it is led by a gang of fascists and white supremacists, as is the case with South Carolina. 


Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders. -- Albert Camus

People who are well represented at trial do not get the death penalty. -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg


IN ARKANSAS... cries to end the death penalty have fallen on deaf ears. At any rate, they are far too late for Ledell Lee, a black man who was executed in 2017 for the murder of his Jacksonville neighbor, Debra Reese, in 1993, and who maintained his innocence up until his execution. Now recently-released evidence appears to confirm that another person probably committed the crime.

According to a report from the Innocence Project and ACLU, DNA from an unknown man who is not Ledell Lee was found on the handle of the murder weapon. That same DNA was also found on the bloody white shirt wrapped around the club. Five fingerprints taken from the crime scene were also tested. None belonged to Lee.

But that's the problem with the death penalty. There are no do-overs. 

P.S...At a news conference on Tuesday, cold-blooded, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson defended Lee’s execution. “It’s my duty to carry out the law,” he said, adding that “the fact is that the jury found him guilty based upon the information that they had.” 

Monday, May 3, 2021


CNN anchor, Jim Acosta calls "BS" on Fox

"That tale from the border didn't just border on BS, this was USDA Grade-A bullsh*t. -- Raw Story

Rick Ayers -- Capitalism is killing us

The big US and European pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Moderna, hold patents on the counter-COVID vaccines and the accompanying formulas they’ve developed, keeping the processes of production under wraps. -- Medium

Sec. of State Anthony Blinken on Afghan pullout

 Just because our troops are coming home doesn't mean we're leaving. We're not. -- 60 Minutes

 Eric Goldstein on Israeli apartheid

To bring real change, we need to call the situation what it is: an oppressive and discriminatory system that shows no signs of going away, and that meets the legal definition of apartheid. -- Human Rights Watch
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves
On the penultimate day of the Confederate Heritage Month Gov. Reeves made a bold declaration: “There is not systemic racism in America.” -- Mississippi Free Press
Ali Velshi 
Arizona recently chose to out-source its rights and responsibilities to recount ballots to a private company run by a CEO who has been spreading the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen. -- MSNBC

Rebecca Solnit

Ideas put forth in the Green New Deal in 2019, seen as radical at the time, are now the kind of stuff President Biden routinely proposes in his infrastructure and jobs plans. -- Guardian