Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bernie has the right line. Keep the heat on Clinton.

“I will be vigorously in opposition, and I will make that very clear.” -- Sen. Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders just gave his millennial supporters (and the rest of us) the best reason not to stay home on election day. He wants us to be part of the movement that defeats Trump and elects Clinton so he and we can become "be the thorn in her side" after Nov. 8th.

It's the thorn that went missing after Obama's historic victory in 2008 when the anti-war and other progressive movements, active during the Bush administration, went to sleep. Many even thought the election of our first African-American president marked the start of the "post-racial" era.

In an interview with the Washington Post on Monday, Sanders made clear that, if she wins the presidency Nov. 8, Clinton will have to contend not only with Republicans who oppose her agenda but also with progressives who were not excited by her campaign and have long feared that she plans to govern as a centrist, in partnership with her new-found friends among the neocons.
“We won 22 states and 46 percent of the pledged delegates, 13.4 million votes . . .and a majority of the younger people, the future of the country. . . . That gives me a lot of leverage, leverage that I intend to use.”
He laid out his post-election strategy and said the he and other senators, including those who will ride the anti-Trump wave into office, have already started plotting legislation that would achieve many of the proposals that fueled his insurgent run for president, including a $15 federal minimum wage, tuition-free public college, an end to “mass incarceration” and aggressive steps to fight climate change.

The senators, Sanders said, also plan to push for the breakup of “too big to fail” banks and to pressure Clinton to appoint liberals to key Cabinet positions, including treasury secretary. Sanders said he would not stay silent if Clinton nominated the “same old, same old Wall Street guys” to regulatory positions that are important in enacting and overseeing the financial policies he supports.

Clinton needs to be pressured on #NoDAPL
Sanders said that his office and others have started converting the party platform into draft legislation. He said the lawmakers “informally” working with him include Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — who campaigned with Clinton on Monday in New Hampshire — Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

That's hopeful news for education activists who fought for and won the most progressive education plank ever in a party platform, including a strong statement on over-testing, support for Opt-Out parents, and opposition to for-profit charter schools.

Sanders has also got to keep the heat on Clinton to finally speak out against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the wave of repression being used against protesters in Standing Rock. The party platform is clear in its support for, "the inherent sovereignty of Indian nations" and its commitment to the right of all tribes to protect their lands, air, and waters".

However the Clinton campaign's pre-election day response continues to be one of tipping a hat to the Sanders movement while also bending towards her neocon allies.

Sanders resists the knee bending:
  “It’s not good enough for me, or anybody, to say, ‘Well, look, Republicans control the House: From Day One, we’re going to have to compromise,’ ” Sanders said. “The Democratic Party, before they start compromising, has got to rally the American people around our ideas and make it clear that if Republicans do not go along with reasonable ideas to benefit the middle class and the working class, they are going to pay a very heavy political price.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Trump is a pipeline profiteer. Clinton remains silent.

“We have roadblocks like you’ve never, ever seen – environmental blocks, structural blocks,” he said. “We are going to allow the Keystone pipeline and so many other things to move forwards. Tremendous numbers of jobs and good for our country.” -- Donald Trump
The difference between the two candidates in a nutshell.

Hillary Clinton has promised to "stop fracking" when she's elected. But only "when any locality or any state is against it," "when the release of methane or contamination of water is present," and "unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using."

But she remains silent on the Dakota Access Pipeline even as oil company construction crews continue to ravage Lakota sacred lands, while the piping of fracking oil threatens a big part of the nation's water supply, and while madman Sheriff Kirchmeier escalates his assault on peaceful protesters and journalists.

This, even though back in February, the Clinton camp posted to its website the candidate's policy platform for Native Americans. In it, Clinton declares that she "will continue to stand for Tribal sovereignty and in support of Tribal resources and sacred sites."

But she's also indebted to several energy and pipeline companies that have given millions to her campaign.

Donald Trump on the other hand, is cheering on and personally underwriting the pipeline project in return for company contributions to his campaign.

According to today's Guardian:
Trump’s financial disclosure forms show the Republican nominee has between $500,000 and $1m invested in Energy Transfer Partners, with a further $500,000 to $1m holding in Phillips 66, which will have a 25% stake in the Dakota Access project once completed. The information was disclosed in Trump’s monthly filings to the Federal Election Commission, which requires candidates to disclose their campaign finance information on a regular basis.
The financial relationship runs both ways.
[Texas billionaire] Kelcy Warren, chief executive of Energy Transfer Partners, has given $103,000 to elect Trump and handed over a further $66,800 to the Republican National Committee since the property developer secured the GOP’s presidential nomination.
On 29 June, Warren made $3,000 in donations to Trump’s presidential campaign. The limit for individual contributions to a candidate is $2,700 per election and it’s unclear whether Trump returned $300 to Warren. Trump’s campaign was contacted for comment.
Warren made a further $100,000 donation to the Trump Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee among Trump’s campaign, the RNC and 11 state parties, on 29 June. A day earlier, the Energy Transfer Partners chief executive doled out $66,800 in two separate donations to the RNC.
 Warren has been an enthusiastic backer of Republican politicians, contributing the maximum allowable amount to the campaigns of the House speaker, Paul Ryan, and Fred Upson, chairman of the energy and commerce committee. He also contributed $6m to a committee backing an unsuccessful presidential bid by the former Texas governor Rick Perry.
A court challenge has allowed the project to go ahead even while Pres. Obama has temporarily pulled back the Army Corps of Engineers and has placed a temporary halt to construction on federal land.

Clinton's silence is deafening.

Monday, October 24, 2016


Tom Hayden R.I.P.
Tom Hayden (1939-2016)
If we appear to seek the unattainable, as it has been said, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable.” -- Port Huron Statement
Water protector, Chepa Cubias
 “I engaged in this action as part of my responsibility to my mother. If you see your mother violently attacked you run to put your body between her and the violent perpetrator. [Dakota Access was] right on burial grounds sacred to my Lakota relatives." -- Sacred Stone Camp
 Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault 
The DOJ should be enlisted and expected to investigate the overwhelming reports and videos demonstrating clear strong-arm tactics, abuses and unlawful arrests by law enforcement. Preventing government agencies from stripping protestors and tribal members of their constitutional rights to organize and protect our sacred places and water is paramount to both U.S. citizens and tribal sovereignty." -- West Dakota FOX 
 NAACP Chair Roslyn M. Brock
“We are moving forward to require that charter schools receive the same level of oversight, civil rights protections and provide the same level of transparency, and we require the same of traditional public schools. Our decision today is driven by a long-held principle and policy of the NAACP that high-quality, free, public education should be afforded to all children.” -- Salon

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Trump plans to do away with public school systems

Trump surrogate, Paladino calls educators, "pot-smokers from Vietnam era". Ouch!
If there was any doubt, Trump surrogate Carl Paladino made it perfectly clear that if his boss is elected his goal will be nothing less than the elimination of public education and complete liquidation of the nation's teacher unions.

Paladino, Trump's N.Y State co-chairman told a group of urban school superintendents yesterday, that Trump would seek to do away with “corrupted, incompetent” public school systems in America’s cities, replacing them with charter schools and vouchers for private schools.
Such an approach would “encourage competition in the marketplace and eventually dismantle the corrupted, incompetent urban school districts that we have in America today,” said Paladino, Trump’s New York State co-chairman, drawing audible boos from an audience composed largely of people who run the school districts Paladino criticized.
Paladino was unfazed: “A monopoly will not continue to work, it will not solve the problem,” he said, decrying what he described as school districts’ dysfunction and their “incestuous relationships with teachers unions.”  
I had to laugh when Paladino went on to attack higher education, referring to academics on college campuses as former “pot-smoking hippies back during the Vietnam era.” Was he referring to me? Has he visited a college campus recently? The median age of tenured faculty (who are now mostly replaced in the classroom by much younger adjuncts) is around 50. That would have made them about 5 years old in the Vietnam era.

Contrast that with Hillary Clinton's likely approach -- continuing Democrats' expansion of privately-run charters, side-by-side with support for traditional public schools with a common-core standards/curriculum and unionized teachers -- and you get a clear picture of the choice available to voters on Nov. 8th. It's not a great choice, but it's a choice.

There's also a progressive education platform, adopted after much internal struggle at the Democratic Convention, around which to organize, once HC is elected. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Looking back on the Chicago anti-Trump protest

"I was wondering what happened with my rally in Chicago and other rallies where we had such violence. She’s the one, and Obama, that caused the violence. They hired people, they paid them $1,500, and they’re on tape saying, be violent, cause fights, do bad things." -- DT
I was out of town on March 11, when thousands of protesters surrounded the UIC pavilion and sent Donald Trump packing. My loss. Turns out, at least according to the Trump campaign, I would have collected $1,500 from Hillary's people if I would only have taken part. Of course I would have had to engage in some fisticuffs to collect my money. It could have marked the beginning of a glorious prize fighting career, even at age 72.

Then again, my brother Fred and sister-in-law Anne took part and neither of them collected any dough -- at least that's what they told me.

I said at the time, that we would one day look back on the Chicago protest as the beginning of the end for his campaign. Now that the Republicans seem headed for a landslide defeat, up and down the ticket, the Chicago protest is being looked at once again as an early source of Trump's slide into the political abyss.

The mainly-peaceful (there were only 4 arrests) but militant protest not only forced Trump to cancel his planned, hate-filled anti-immigrant rally in the heart of Chicago, it also set the stage for the wave of youth activism and protest across the country, making it near impossible for the racist demagogue to campaign in cities with large black and Latino populations.

Some 43,000 undergraduate and graduate students had signed a petition asking UIC to cancel the rally by March 6. Up until March, Trump rallies had been marked by violent attacks on peaceful protesters, attacks encouraged from the podium by Trump himself, and aimed at intimidation. But surrounded by a huge young, multi-racial crowd, the bully was forced to retreat. His tough-guy mask ripped off.

The protest also helped the Sanders campaign activate enough support among young activists to nearly carry Illinois. If Hillary's campaign was indeed behind the protest (which they weren't) it was a colossal mistake on their part. At the time, Trump blamed Sanders for the clashes in Chicago, insisting that the protesters were "Bernie's crowd."  Actually the anti-Trump response was organized at the last moment by  University of Illinois Chicago students, as wee asBernie Sanders supporters, to their credit.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Chicago Pipeline Connection

Back from Standing Rock and already thinking about returning. There was some great news out of Morton County yesterday. A judge tossed out the "riot" charges against Democracy Now's Amy Goodman. Standing Rock friends tell me this morning that all the other felony cases have also been dropped.

But still, almost everywhere I turn, racist symbols abound. Watching Cleveland vs. Toronto in the ALCS, the racist Indian insignia is constantly in your face. If you Google Cleveland Indians you won't find the symbol on their page. Too embarrassing? But watching the game itself, it's displayed prominently.

Then I read this headline in the WSJ: Elizabeth Warren Claims a Scalp Remember, Trump is fond of referring to Sen. Warren as "Pocahontas".

I'm trying to write something for the MSM about the Chicago connections with Standing Rock and the pipeline protests. There's plenty of connections to write about. That's for certain.

For one thing, IL is on the asshole end of the 1,134-mile-long Black Snake that transports fracking oil from the Bakken region of ND down through IA, crossing about 40 rivers, threatening the drinking water of millions of people, before dumping it all out in our state.

Environmental racism is another connection. Remember, the pipeline was originally supposed to run through predominantly-white Bismark until residents protested and pushed it down to Lakota Sioux territory. In Chicago, isolated, poor black and Latino neighborhoods have become the main targets for toxic waste dumps, coal power plants, petcoke, and incinerators.

Then there's the politics of waterToday's DNAInfo reports that water at nearly half of Chicago parks has high levels of lead. There's even higher rates of lead pollution at the city's public schools drinking fountains.

And oh those pipeline investors. Bank of America, which has profited from those toxic debt swaps that helped bankrupt the schools, J.P. Morgan Chase (Bill Daley), Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, to name but a few. All big contributors to Rahm Emanuel's campaign.

The Chicago students who were with me on my last trip to Standing Rock are making their own connections. I'm sure we'll be hearing from them soon.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman
"I came back to North Dakota to fight a trespass charge. They saw that they could never make that charge stick, so now they want to charge me with rioting. I wasn't trespassing, I wasn't engaging in a riot, I was doing my job as a journalist by covering a violent attack on Native American protesters." -- Huffington Post
Racist Derek Black's epiphany 
He studied the 8th century to the 12th century, trying to trace back the modern concepts of race and whiteness, but he couldn’t find them anywhere. “We basically just invented it,” he concluded. -- Washington Post
Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP
“The NAACP’s resolution is not inspired by ideological opposition to charter schools but by our historical support of public schools ― as well as today’s data and the present experience of NAACP branches in nearly every school district in the nation. Our NAACP members, who as citizen advocates, not professional lobbyists, are those who attend school board meetings, engage with state legislatures and support both parents and teachers.” -- Huffington Post
Northwestern Prof Joseph Ferrie on New inequality Study
 New research suggests that social mobility in America may be even more limited than researchers have realized. “Any measure of mobility we have is too high. Whatever you thought, it’s worse.” -- Washington Post
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker
“In our democracy, those who vote decide everything; those who count the vote decide nothing,” -- Miami Herald