Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Kansas joins the anti-CRT MAGA madness.

Dorothy: 'I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.' 
Toto: Nope. It's 2021 and we're still in freak'n Kansas.

State Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, announced last week that she would be preparing a bill that would ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory in all Kansas schools. It's worth noting that Critical Race Theory isn't now and never has been taught in the state's public schools, unfortunately. It's just that CRT has become the latest Republican racist dog whistle in America's white belt. 

Jayhawk State Republicans are the latest to join the MAGA feeding frenzy on public schooling. More than a dozen red states are currently pushing bills targeting anti-racist teaching. 

Actually, it was Idaho that became the first to formally pass a law banning CRT from the schools.

Tyson's bill will likely succeed given that the GOP still dominates state politics as it has since Kansas became a state back in 1861. Back then, of course, the Republican Party in Kansas was quite different, embracing "free state" politics and opposing slavery. My, how things have changed.

For today's Kansas, this is just another brick in the wall, a continuation of the state's legacy of school segregation and an imposed right-wing/religious curriculum on its schools. 

It wasn't for nothing that the 1954 landmark court decision supposedly outlawing school segregation was called: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

Carrying on the 1999 the Kansas Board of Education voted to delete virtually any mention of evolution from the state's science curriculum, in one of the most far-reaching efforts by right-wing creationists to supplant science teaching with religious doctrine.

The Topeka Capital-Journal  editorialized at the time that ''creationism is as good a hypothesis as any for how the universe began.''

And on it goes. 

Nikole Hanna-Jones

The new curriculum battlefield stretches far beyond Kansas and beyond K-12 education. Today, in North Carolina, UNC’s board of trustees is scheduled to hold a special meeting amid intensifying pressure over its failure to approve tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent for The New York Times Magazine.

Professor Hannah-Jones created the 1619 Project, a multimedia series from The Times Magazine that re-examined the legacy of slavery in the United States and provided educators with the tools they needed to do authentic teaching about race and racism. The use of the 1619 Project by teachers in school districts across the country prompted the right-wing backlash that we're seeing in states like Kansas.

She has gained the public support of more than 200 academics and other cultural figures who published a letter last month saying the board had displayed a “failure of courage.”

On Friday, UNC students held a protest in support of tenure for Hannah-Jones. Hopefully, their voices will be heard. 

Monday, June 28, 2021


Surfside, FL condo building collapse could be an omen of things to come if we go light on the infrastructure bill.

AOC on the infrastructure bill

 “Frankly, we really need to understand that this is our one big shot, not just in terms of family, child care, Medicare, but on climate change,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, said on “Meet the Press.” 
Dave Zirin

Civil disobedience in 2021 is teaching the truth. -- FB

Dallas Schools Superintendent Michael Hinojosa

“I’m Mexican American, and with the Alamo, they always talked about slaughtering the Mexicans when I was a little kid,” he said. “Can you imagine what went through my mind? When I became a teacher, I could say, ‘Well, here’s the other perspective. Make up your own mind about it.’” -- Washington Post 

Cas Mudde, Univ. of Georgia prof

There is a specter haunting America – the specter of critical race theory. -- Guardian

Gwen Berry
Athlete/activist Gwen Berry at the Olympic Trials

Berry said that her mission was bigger than the sport and "me being able to represent my communities and my people, and those that have died at the hands of police brutality, those that have died to this systemic racism."  -- Reuters 

More AOC 

Marjorie Taylor Greene: Calls AOC a "little communist" and says locking her up is a good idea. 

AOC: First of all, I’m taller than her -- Twitter

Former Attorney General William Barr a newly released book excerpt, said he suspected then-President Donald Trump's claims of widespread election fraud were "all bullsh*t," but that he launched unofficial inquiries into some of them to appease his boss.

 D.T. responded

"The president, livid, responded by referring to himself in the third person: 'You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump,'" the excerpt reads. -- CNN


Friday, June 25, 2021

Trying to wrap my head around: Fascists vs. top U.S. general over 'Critical Race Theory'

Tucker Carlson: Critical race theory will lead to the genocide of white Americans.

Hard to wrap my head around this one.
..A battle royale between MAGA white supremacists and the Joint Chiefs of Staff over Critical Race Theory. No, I'm not kidding. And it's no joke. 

Gen. Milley: 

“I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read...and it is important that we train and we understand,” Milley said. “I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin,” Milley said during the hearing. “That doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country from which we are here to defend?”

 Tucker Carlson:

He's not just a pig, he's stupid. So, Mark Milley reads Mao to understand Maoism. He reads communists to understand communism. But it's interesting that he doesn't read white supremacists to understand white supremacy. Why not? Go to the source.

Former POTUS:

Trump, who bypassed other top military officials to promote Milley to the top uniformed military post in 2019. “I watched the statements of some others, your head of the Navy, it was pathetic. “They didn’t talk that way when I was around, I can tell you. They didn’t talk that way or I would have gotten rid of them in two minutes.” 

Contrast this with the way they MAGAs destroyed Colin Kaepernick's football career after he took a knee against racism. They claimed he was "disrespecting our men and women in uniform."

Physician, heal thyself... Conservative cold-warriors of both the pro-Trump and anti-Trump variety, posing as oracles of democracy (everywhere but here) need to take a hard look in the mirror. Here's anti-Trump conservative, Jay Nordlinger writing in National Review, 

For decades, I heard from the Left that Fidel Castro was popular with “his people.” For many years now, I have heard the same about Vladimir Putin and Russia — from the Right, usually. The answer in both cases: If that’s true, why doesn’t he allow free and fair elections, to prove it? 

The question he should be asking is, why don't we? 

Republicans on Tuesday blocked the most ambitious voting rights legislation to come before Congress in a generation, dealing a blow to Democrats’ attempts to counter a wave of state-level ballot restrictions and supercharging a campaign to end the legislative filibuster.

WaPo reports at least 250 new restrictive voting laws have now been proposed in 43 states. It's impossible for former colonial powers to credibly call for "democracy" in other countries when white supremacy and fascism are growing trends at home. 

No, not in Xinjiang... but in Canada where for decades, Indigenous children were taken from their families, sometimes by force, and housed in crowded, church-run boarding schools, where they were abused and prohibited from speaking their languages. Thousands vanished altogether. Now, the remains of as many as 751 people, mainly indiginous children, had been found in unmarked graves on the site of another former Indian boarding school.

Fearful of confronting their own colonial and imperial histories, the new Cold Warriors are arrogantly targeting China once again. They are bankrolling and encouraging secessionist movements in Hong Kong, Taiwan and sending warships into the South China Sea. That's how cold war turns to hot war. 

R.I.P. ~ One of my favorite singer/slide guitarists from back in the day, Ellen McIlwane who played alongside the great ones, but never got the credit she deserved. 

“The guys all had their girlfriends along, and I was relegated to being one of the girlfriends until we got onstage,” she told the Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer.

Monday, June 21, 2021


George Clooney and a group of A-listers, including Don Cheadle and Kerry Washington, are working with the Los Angeles Unified School District to fill that gap by launching an academy that promises to provide education and practical training in the arts and sciences of filmmaking to marginalized communities.

Linda Darling-Hammond on Clooney's new school

 “Charity is no substitute for justice,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the California State Board of Education. “It’s great that people are making these investments, but we have a bigger job to do.” -- New York Times

Joe Rufo, Trump's new point man on education

“We have successfully frozen their brand—'critical race theory’—into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category.” -- Washington Post

 Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker 

...said today that families can expect school to look "a lot more like it did before the pandemic." -- Boston Herald

Tucker Carlson spews anti-Lightfoot racism

We want to start with an insurrection — an insurrection against the rule of law, against civilization itself — that’s been going on for more than a year in the city of Chicago. Since the death of George Floyd last May, Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, has embraced every part of the equity and inclusion agenda. --RCP

Fareed Zakaria 

The decay of American democracy is real. It’s not a messaging or image problem. Until we can repair that, I’m not sure we can truly say America is back. -- Washington Post

Hunter Biden (Oink!)

 He referred to Asian women as “yellow” in a January 2019 text to his cousin who was asking about the type of women he preferred. -- Daily Mail 

Dr. Anthony Fauci

"The people who are giving the ad hominems are saying, 'Ah, Fauci misled us. First he said no masks, then he said masks. Well, let me give you a flash. That's the way science works. You work with the data you have at the time." -- Axios

Friday, June 18, 2021

I want an elected school board but this bill stinks

House lawmakers passed the Chicago elected school board bill Wednesday, dealing a blow to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, even as enough potential flaws in the measure were identified that a trailer bill with substantive changes is already in the works.
-- IL Playbook

As my readers know, I've been an active supporter of an elected representative school board for Chicago for many years. Here's a piece I wrote in Crain's back in 2015 and another I wrote in Huffington Post in 2011. There were many more.

Now after 26 years of mayoral control, Chicago Public Schools is on the verge of monumental change as it looks ahead to an elected board. In 1995, a Republican-controlled state legislature gave then-Mayor Daley full authority over the schools, including the appointment of the board members who would hire the district's CEO. 

Almost a decade has passed since 87% of 80,000 Chicago residents voted in a non-binding referendum in 13% of the city’s precincts in favor of an elected school board. If surveys were taken today, support for an elected board probably wouldn't be quite that high. That's because the current board, hand-picked by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, is a far cry from the ones chosen by Daley and Rahm Emanuel in that it's not loaded with wealthy cronies, campaign donors, school closers, and privatizers. It is undoubtedly the most progressive and uncorrupt school board we've ever had in Chitown. It's also been almost a decade since a mayor hand-picked a schools chief who ended up in the penitentiary

But still, I think it's about time that invested parents and community members have more of a direct voice in running their schools. Chicago is currently the only district in the entire state that doesn't elect its school board. 

After all the years of failed attempts, I still favor an elected board but I'm not jumping for joy over the apparent passage of the current ERSB bill. In simple language, the bill sucks and I doubt it will fly for very long in its current form. 

First and foremost, it sucks because once passed, it won't take effect until 2025. Then in the 2026 general election, the 10 spots on the Board that were previously appointed by the mayor would be up for election to four-year terms beginning in January 2027, at which point the board would become fully elected. 

2027! That's long after many of our current pols and political players will even be around to be held accountable. State reps serve two-year terms in IL while state senators serve for four years.

This recalls the passage of the state's $15/hour minimum wage bill passed in 2019 with a six-year ramp-up. Hungry families and their children can't wait that long to put food on the table. 

So much can change in six years. Who knows what new crises or political splits will arise between now and then, or even if our vulnerable system of public education will remain intact in post-pandemic Chicago? 

It also sucks because a 21-member board, coming from 21 politically defined districts, is much too unwieldy, too politicized (in the bad sense of the word), and bureaucratic. Its size makes it too easy for big-monied, reactionary, anti-public-school political interests to influence the outcomes of small-turnout elections, as they are now doing in state after state. 

The bill sucks because it disenfranchises the thousands of immigrants who have children in CPS but are living here without official documentation. They won't be allowed to vote under the current bill. This in contrast to Chicago Local School Council elections where all parents, teachers, and community members are allowed to vote regardless of immigration status. In the current bill, teachers are forbidden to run for the board. On LSCs, they are guaranteed two seats on the council. 

There are lots more flaws in the current bill, and the funny thing is, everybody involved in the drafting and passage of the bill seems to recognize its shortcomings. Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he will sign the bill into law even while admitting that he favored a smaller board. 

Veteran progressive political activist Miguel del Valle, the current president of the Chicago Board of Education, said he’d campaigned publicly for an elected school board for a decade but couldn’t support a 21-person body. “We can’t have a school board that is twice as large as the largest elected school board in the country. Down the road, I could see dysfunction, stalemates, all kinds of issues."

Rep. Bob Rita voiced what some lawmakers were thinking: 

“I’m hoping that we’re not going to go forward and that this is going to be something that, down the line, we’re going to say our intentions were right and we did it wrong."

Lightfoot still sees "a path forward” after sponsor Rep. Delia Ramirez put a hold on the measure. Her procedural move temporarily prevents the bill from going to Gov. Pritzker’s desk, protects it from meddling opponents, and allows Lightfoot some time to talk with lawmakers about her concerns. 

House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch says the bill could be on hold for a few weeks while the mayor works with lawmakers.

So why was there such a rush to pass it in its current dismal form? The answer, in short, is that the bill was originally drafted by the mayor's sworn political enemies like State Rep. Rob Martwick and the leaders of the CTU, who have never gotten over Lightfoot's landslide election victory over their chosen candidate, Toni Prechwinkle. For them, the important thing was dealing a political blow to the mayor. 

Reporters are referring to the bill's passage as "a defeat for the mayor." I don't see it that way. In the end, the bill will be the result of a compromise. The perception of the bill as being mainly a political football, rather than a benefit for the schools, speaks for itself. But no bill is going to succeed without negotiations and compromises with the mayor. 

The mayor's opponents may be jumping for joy right now, but I'm not. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Biden's anti-China pitch not going well at the G-7

As Biden preaches collective security and prosperity to the Group of Seven rich democracies, the European Union and NATO, he has to reckon that “the key threat is inside, it’s us. It’s not Russia, it’s not China, it’s not extremism, it’s not Afghanistan, it’s us.”
--  Charles Kupchan, Obama security advisor on European Affairs. 

Biden's call for a united front against China isn't going over well with everyone at the G-7 meeting, according to a report in today's WaPo.  
A senior U.S. official who spoke with reporters following a morning session largely devoted to China described like-mindedness about concerns over Chinese behavior but a difference of opinion about how to respond. He listed Britain, Canada and France as having quickly backed Biden’s view, but it was not immediately clear where the others stood.

The problem for Biden is that China remains Europe's second-largest trading partner, behind only the U.S. itself. Plus, Biden, despite his claim that "America is back," still has a tough road ahead when it comes to re-establishing the U.S. as a reliable partner.  

Biden's biggest problem is that despite his post-Trump popularity and high approval ratings, he's been unable to deliver on his own policy initiatives back home despite Democrat's control of the House and Senate.

Angela Merkel, who is skeptical of Biden's hard anti-China stance, doesn't want to risk Germany's export of millions of cars to China annually.

Even Japan, which has had a tense relationship with China going back to WWII, is still a close neighbor and trading partner and has also been wary.

And Italy signed a 2019 memorandum of understanding with China to join its “Belt and Road Initiative,” the sprawling infrastructure development project that the G-7 is now attempting to compete with. 

Biden's charge against China's Belt and Road -- that it "leaves poorer nations saddled with debt" -- could make cynics out of the most pollyannish Europeans. After all, hasn't it been the IMF and the World Bank that have become infamous for destabilizing national economies and forcing austerity on much of the world, including Europe? 

China's unbelievably rapid rise as an alternative to the IMF is winning them favor in much of the poorest countries in Asia and Africa. Plus China has done it without warring against other countries or imposing regime change on them. While the U.S. and wealthy European countries have just announced their willingness to distribute the Covid vaccine to the neediest countries, China has been far out on this.

Several of the G-7 countries are already deeply invested along with China in fighting global climate change. China was the first country to adopt a carbon-neutral pledge for 2060.

WaPo reports that, 

Britain and Italy are co-chairs of a major international climate conference later this year and seek China’s help to meet targets.

Biden could gain back some lost U.S. respectability at the G-7, especially since he's following in Trump's wake. But he will likely have to retreat on much of his hardline anti-China framework for the meeting.  

Friday, June 11, 2021

G-7 Cold Warriors gather in St. Ives

As I was Going to St. Ives
As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives,
Each wife had seven sacks,
Each sack had seven cats,
Each cat had seven kits:
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were there going to St. Ives?

Answer: G7

Today the G7 summit begins in the tiny village of St. Ives in this corner of Cornwall – a holiday idyll fast resembling a military Green Zone – rumours are rife. Residents question environmental destruction, disruption and sheer astronomical cost of the summit - which will see world leaders ensconced in luxury hotels minutes from some of UK’s most deprived areas... This is a tourist resort that increasingly feels like an occupied enclave.
While Biden et al will be put up at the luxury Tregenna Castle (sea views, sub-tropical gardens, on-site golf course), the billets here do not appear to even come with their own toilets. Its communal loos all round. Ironically, perhaps, given this is thought to be a police or security base, only a few fields away is the site where thousands of Extinction Rebellion protestors will be camping. -- The Independent
Pres. Biden's G7 game plan calls for a Cold War united-front against China with the U.S. and U.K. at its center. Biden is relying on support for the plan coming from Boris Johnson. But its doubtful that other G7 members will play along and internal conflicts are bound to arise.

Johnson so far, seems quite willing to play along with the so-far evidence-free "lab-leak" story as part of the anti-China narrative. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin says the "vigorous hyping up" of the lab leak theory on the part of American politicians reminds him of the early 2000s when Americans were "hyping up the assertion that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction." -- Newsweek

Sounds about right to me.

Remember, it was Biden who previously referred to Johnson as, "a physical and emotional clone'" of Trump. In case you don't know where all this is heading in terms of politics here in the U.S., Biden blamed Johnson's Conservative Party winning a parliamentary majority on its rival Labour Party "moving too far left."

The current G7 meeting appears to represent a break from Trump's "America First" isolationism. But Biden's anti-China posturing and his call for sanctions and more barriers to Chinese trade echo Trump's trade war policies. It's a call for an unholy alliance that will be hard for the U.S. to sustain given that the European Union and China are two of the biggest traders in the world. China is now the EU's second-biggest trading partner behind the United States and the EU is China's biggest trading partner.

If there's a positive coming from the G7, it could be Biden's announcement that the U.S. and European countries are prepared to donate a billion doses to the poorest countries, hardest hit by the pandemic. But their motives are obvious.

AP reports that the well-funded global alliance has faced a slow start to its vaccination campaign, as richer nations have locked up billions of doses through contracts directly with drug manufacturers. As a result, the U.S. and wealthy European countries are now racing to catch up with China’s moves to establish itself as a leader in the fight against the coronavirus.

According to the New York Times
Last summer, China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, heralded the promise of a Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccine as a global public good. So far, he appears to be making good on that pledge. 
Maybe some benefits may yet come out of U.S.-China competition provided that the U.S. cold war push is somehow constrained.

Monday, June 7, 2021


R.I.P. 'CHUY' NEGRETE -- “He was an educator of the highest extreme,” James Edward Olmos said of the Chicago writer of corridos some called the ‘Chicano Woody Guthrie.’ “He would go to prisons. He would go to schools. He would go to universities.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) 

“One hundred percent of our focus is on stopping [Biden’s] new administration.” -- [I know this is a quote from last month. Just making a point.]

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez 

The Bush-appointed federal judge overturned California's long-standing ban on assault rifles after equating AR-15s with Swiss Army knives. “Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” Benitez said in the ruling. -- Washington Post 

Carol Burris, Network for Public Education

It is easy to blame Betsy DeVos for giving a $26.6 million grant to a state whose charter sector has come under repeated fire for increasing segregation in an already segregated school system. Now the Biden administration and Secretary Miguel Cardona own the grant. Indeed, they own the whole flawed Charter Schools Program. -- Answer Sheet 

 Monica Martinez, associate professor of history at the University of Texas 

"Whether lessons about racial violence take place in classrooms or on historical markers, if you can teach people how to study how power worked 100 years ago, you are also teaching them how to study how power works today.” -- Washington Post

Carol Anderson is the author of White Rage 

For too long, the second amendment has been portrayed with a founding fathers aura swaddled in the stars and stripes...In other words, concerns about keeping enslaved Black people in check are the context and background to the second amendment. The same holds true for today. -- Guardian