Sunday, July 5, 2020

Beyond AOC - Bowman vs Charter Fave Hakim, Bowman Stood Up to NYCDOE Goons, Farina on Opt Out Etc. - Pelosi Should be easy.

I had a front row seat to the attacks on public education and teacher unions --- Jamaal Bowman.
Bowman called for a national moratorium on charter schools and pushing back against the overuse of standardized testing which has been used as a weapon to close schools and call teachers and schools failing in order to open up charters.
Bowman makes the connections between the attack on education and the general neo-liberal assault on society that you won't hear in congress very often. This makes him a very dangerous man to the corporate dems now in control.

Things went even better than expected in the battle for the soul of the Dem Party. I began writing this after the primary but have been too busy binge watching, doing yoga, taking walks and snacking to get back to it. Of course things move along so fast my observances keep morphing as info comes in.

I feel the Bowman victory is in some ways will have more impact than AOC. In fact I feel if he stays the course and avoids too much ego from all the attention - you may well see his name floated for the presidency in 2024 at a successor to Bernie for leadership of the progressive wing. He has all the creds.


He is the one person elected ever - even more than Bernie or AOC - who I trust on education. Remember - AOC came from baristarville. Bowman ran middle school classrooms - which are like mini corporations and then took a leap and started a public school - running a middle school in the Bronx may be more difficult than running the country. So he has executive skills.

One of the things the press doesn't ever mention about Bowman is how he stood up for true ed reform against the DOE goons. He worked under the Bloomberg and DiB admins and very few principals stood against high stakes testing, favored opt out, stood with teachers -- his first supporters came from the NYC ed activists who had been battling the DOE since Bloomberg came into control. With so many issues on the table I still have hope Jamaal will find time to keep some of the core ed issues front and center (word is he is asking to be on the ed committee). And for those who think he will succumb to Pelosi "charms" like AOC has sort of done, Carmen Farina is much more scary that Pelosi and Jamaal didn't flinch.

In other words, Bowman has a longer history of opposition than AOC -- I mean he stood up to his bosses which is a very heavy lift. There are some thoughts that the Black Caucus which went in for Engel was nervous about having a voice like Bowman win and push his way into the caucus where he might challenge the hot young thing in the Dem Party, major charter school supporter Hakim Jeffries who has taken ed deform positions. I'm looking forward to that.


Photo I took at house party in JanuaryHeadlines have been comparing Jamaal Bowman as the next AOC - Arthur said he's actually the first JB and he's right. Jamaal is from a very different cloth. AOC was activated by the Bernie campaign and until she won was a bartender. Jamaal is not from the same type of politics - he even had an opponent who was viewed as more left but he dropped out which is what gave Jamaal his big bump. (There were still two others in the race - one white and one a black ex-cop who polled less than 2%.)

AOC is a democratic socialist - I never got the sense Bowman is in that lane though he might be. What they have in common is the Justice Democrats who are despised by the Dem Central Committee who want no primaries - they are pseudo dems. Watch the battle to come in 2022 and 2024. If Biden is president he will find the party under him shifting in a Bernie direction.

Having a progressive black man in Congress is enormous.

I posted on the progressives vs the Dem machine on Primary Day - Bowman/Engel/Etc - Epic Battle for Soul of Dem Party, UFT Leaders Back Engel Against Progressive Educator, Warren/Bernie Vs Hillary/Cuomo/Randi and even though my local guy - DSA - Shaniyat Choudhury vs. Gregory Meeks (who as a black man may have benefited even though a machine guy) lost badly - but I hope he helps build up a local alt machine to the Dems.

The Israeli lobby got heavy into the race for Engel - I don't remember Bowman taking positions on Israel --

Bowman vs Engel: 'Proxy war' between progressives and pro-Israel centrists
Pro-Israel groups have spent heavily to shield veteran Democrat Eliot Engel in primary against progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman

And while US-Israeli relations have not been the main topic of debate in the race, Engel's status as the top House Democrat on foreign policy has attracted pro-Israel special-interest groups to his side.

Political action committees (PACs) associated with the pro-Israel lobby have been among the top donors to Engel's campaign. That includes the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) PAC, NORPAC and Pro-Israel America Pac. 

DMFI PAC in particular has stepped up its efforts in the last stretch of the campaign. Since the beginning of June, the group has spent more than $1.1m on campaign material attacking Bowman and promoting Engel.

Omar Baddar, a Palestinian-American analyst, said the massive spending of pro-Israel groups on the primary is not only about Engel, but about the direction of the Democratic Party.

"There is a concerted effort to punish anybody who seems to be somewhat sympathetic to Palestinian human rights, as a way to prove that this is a losing strategy for running for office," Baddar told MEE.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/engel-vs-bowman-proxy-war-between-pro-israel-centrists-and-progressives


In the Maloney/Patel race my candidate, Lauren Ashcraft didn't even seem to register much in this tight race. Even though I have an apartment in that district I am registered her in Rockaway so I didn't vote there. I was hoping to be involved in her race along with Shaniyat. Here positions were much more in alignment with mine. Maybe she can come back and take down Maloney next time. Fact is if she didn't run Patel might have won but I'm not sure how much better he would have been.

Lauren sent out his missive before the final count:
Even though we did not win this time almost 14% of NY-12 voters rejected the two big money candidates from 2018 and decided that our campaign was the one they wanted to represent them. In 2018 NY-12 didn’t have a choice, but this time they did. And they listened to what we had to say. They didn’t want to keep a representative who takes corporate PAC money. They also didn’t trust the other’s values and priorities even after a second run. They chose me because I was unwilling to compromise on the values and needs of people who have been left out of the conversation until I announced my run in March of 2019.
There is a lot more to write on this issue and since I began doing this two weeks ago it is stale.

One more link to an earlier interview with Bowman:

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

BERNIE WAS RIGHT - Virus testing wildly varying prices proves why we need single payer

Such discrepancies arise from a fundamental fact about the American health care system: The government does not regulate health care prices.
Two Friends in Texas Were Tested for Coronavirus. One Bill Was $199. The Other? $6,408.. NYT - June 30, 2020
Obama care fixed none of this.
On a regular basis the NYT publishes an article on the testing fiasco and points out the reason is that the government doesn't set prices which is why our medical system costs double anywhere else. Yet the articles never nake the connection to the major issue in the Democratic debates - medicare for all - single payer. By not making that connection, the NYT is making an editorial decision to bury the lede.
these differences aren’t about quality. In all likelihood, the expensive M.R.I.s and the cheap M.R.I.s are done on the same machine. Instead, they reflect different insurers’ market clout. A large insurer with many members can demand lower prices, while small insurers have less negotiating leverage.
Because health prices in the United States are so opaque, some researchers have turned to their own medical bills to understand this type of price variation. Two health researchers who gave birth at the same hospital with the same insurance compared notes afterward. They found that one received a surprise $1,600 bill while the other one didn’t.
The difference? One woman happened to give birth while an out-of-network anesthesiologist was staffing the maternity ward; the other received her epidural from an in-network provider.
BERNIE WAS RIGHT!!!!!! I want to see this the next time there is an article like this - but don't hold your breath - the Dem Party Center wants to see this continue - along with Obama care which obviously did nothing to curb this yet they defend it to the max - yes, I mean Biden.

By the way - note how the cultural left is focused on taking down statues and also buries the lede. They should be marching for medicare for all and universal income. But more of that in future posts - examining the fault lines between the cultural and economic populist left.

It is so logical to support single payer - where we can reduce costs in half - that the only thing that makes sense in terms of Dem Central resistance is the money coming in from the health industrial complex. (The same with support for defense budget - military industrial complex money to Dems.) And by the way - our own union (AFT/UFT) also oppose single payer and line up perfectly with the Dem Party- and yes, on defense spending too. They can close schools and cut budgets but the AFT/UFT will NEVER call for moving money from defense to schools.

Here''s another recent article:
How can a simple coronavirus test cost $100 in one lab and 2,200 percent more in another? It comes back to a fundamental fact about the American health care system: The government does not regulate health care prices.
This tends to have two major outcomes that health policy experts have seen before, and are seeing again with coronavirus testing.

The first is high prices over all. Most medical care in the United States costs double or triple what it would in a peer country. An appendectomy, for example, costs $3,050 in Britain and $6,710 in New Zealand, two countries that regulate health prices. In the United States, the average price is $13,020.
The second outcome is huge price variation, as each doctor’s office and hospital sets its own charges for care. One 2012 study found that hospitals in California charge between $1,529 and $182,955 for uncomplicated appendectomies.
“It’s not unheard-of that one hospital can charge 100 times the price of another for the same thing,” said Dr. Renee Hsia, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and an author of the appendectomy study. “There is no other market I can think of where that happens except health care.”

There is little evidence that higher prices correlate with better care. What’s different about the more expensive providers is that they’ve set higher prices for their services.
But American patients will eventually bear the costs of these expensive tests in the form of higher insurance premiums. In some cases, they are paying for additional tests, for flu and other respiratory diseases, that doctors tack onto coronavirus orders. Those charges are not exempt from co-payments and can fall into a patient’s deductible.
Those kinds of bills could make patients wary of seeking care or testing in the future, which could enable the further spread of coronavirus. In an April poll, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that most Americans were worried they wouldn’t be able to afford coronavirus testing or treatment if they needed it.
Did I say, BERNIE WAS RIGHT?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Bowman/Engel/Etc - Epic Battle for Soul of Dem Party, UFT Leaders Back Engel Against Progressive Educator, Warren/Bernie Vs Hillary/Cuomo/Randi

The UFT is not backing the progressive educator in the Bowman/Engel battle who is not in favor of all the ed deform stuff that hit teachers right in the face. But let's delve into the details of why at another time.

Election Day - I voted remotely. After months of fundamentally being in isolation I'm venturing out today as a volunteer - a distance volunteer. I'm picking up and dropping off literature for the Shaniyat Chowdhury campaign for Congress against incumbent Gregory Meeks in Southeast Queens and Nassau County. Shan is a progressive and hasn't gotten the publicity other challengers have gotten. Shan was in the marines for 6 years, a grad of Infotech HS in Queens and also a NYCHA resident. Meeks is a long-time rep out of the Dem machine and he's black, so Shan as an East Asian makes this an interesting race demographically. Here's hoping Shan wins but if he doesn't he has an excellent future in politics as he is only 28 and if he engages in the grassroots type of campaign to challenge the local Dem machine I'm all in. Of course the UFT is backing Meeks the incumbent with the more important issue to the UFT leadership is to stay true to Dem Party central - or as we on the left refer to them as CORP DEMS.

The hot race locally and nationally is the Jamaal Bowman challenge to Eliot Engel, along with the open primary event in Kentucky between Schumer and Corp Dem backed Amy McGrath against progressive insurgent Charles Booker - McGrath has attracted 40 million from Trump resistance Dem backers.

The race between Engel-Jamaal (who I've known from the anti ed deform battles over the years) has gotten national attention. He is not from the standard AOC brand and there was a guy in the race who was to the left but dropped out. Not getting noticed are two other candidates - I saw them in a debate with Bowman last week. I imagine they will draw a few votes from both Bowman and Engel - maybe more from the latter. If Bowman doesn't win look for him or another progressive to challenge Engel next time and he might choose like Nita Lowey (who retired in the face of a primary) to retire also. Justice Democrats have their eye out on this and I even know a NYC teacher who they are interested in having run at some point. By the way - that race has a chance of seeing a right wing Dem win over a gaggle of others - there are some progressives in the race.

The other race I'm interested in is the Lauren Ashcraft challenge to Carolyn McCarthy - I met her and her partner at a Bernie watch party and have given her money - she covers west Queens and midtown Man - my other home even though I am registered here. The problem is there is another progressive in the race.

And of course I support AOC - and imagine in 2018 how the UFT backed Crowley - I wonder if there is the same enthusiasm for her as an incumbent as there is for Engel? _ Tongue in cheek

There's so many issues on the table in these Democratic internal battles and how our union leadership on all levels - AFT, NYSUT, UFT - so totally line up with what is being called the Corporate Democrats who control the party and were especially successful in killing the Bernie Sanders insurgency and promoting Joe Biden.

What is clear is just how tied the UFT -which is the tail that wags the dog in the AFT - is under Randi control still and how our leadership is tied up hook line and sinker with the Dem Party Central -- and only a movement from below in the AFT will force change from being part of the fabric of corp dem which fundamentally is anti-worker and union.

Why is the UFT/AFT/NYSUT leadership so anti-progressive? You'll have to wait for a follow-up for that bedtime story. Hint: It's in their DNA.

Here are a few interesting links for the stories above.

Krystal Ball BLASTS Dems, Black Caucus for propping up white corporatists


On the Kentucky race:

On Bowman-Engel
James comments:
Bowman is backed by the Justice Democrats, the CSA, the New York Times, the Badass Teachers Association, The Sunrise Movement, The Working Families Party, AOC, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and others in a kind of a Who's Who of the progressive wing of the party. A quick look at Bowman's education plan shows there is much to like.









Monday, June 22, 2020

Bowman/Engel Battle - Countering Right wing/Republcan PAC Attacks

The progressive education community of which Jamaal Bowman has been part of for years, is supporting him. But the UFT leadership is not - no surprises as the words "progressive" and "UFT leadership" are antonyms.

There are unfair attacks on Bowman, many of them funded by two right-wing pro-Israel PACs.

From Janine Sopp on NYCEd listserve:
"The level some will stoop to bring down a rising human who will work tirelessly for the good of all people. Let's bust every misinformed narrative.
There has been a wealth of media coverage on these attacks, some of them here:





Jamaal wrote this excellent letter about his position on Israel and Palestinian rights.  I suggest that people share this letter widely with friends in the district who otherwise may be influenced by these attacks.




Thursday, June 18, 2020

Edén Pastora Dies: How We Interferred in Nicaragua - Obsession with Russia Interference minimizes real history

With secret C.I.A. support, Mr. Pastora assembled a large force of guerrilla fighters, calling it the Democratic Revolutionary Alliance. It attacked the Managua airport, the Pacific port of Corinto, the city of San Juan del Norte and other targets. But there was no popular uprising, as he had hoped for. He was branded a traitor and tried in absentia. Sandinista offensives forced his retreat to Costa Rica. As his losses mounted, funds from the United States and elsewhere dried up.

Edén Pastora, ‘Commander Zero’ in Nicaragua, Dies at 83

The NYT obit is loaded with example of USA interference in foreign nations. But of course Russian hacking is the crime of the century. Yes they may have hacked. They didn't sent marines, money and hired hands.


A few excerpts:

A hero of the 1979 Sandinista revolution, he later turned on his comrades in arms, mounting an international campaign of political pressure and later guerrilla attacks inside the country.

Along the way he courted sympathizers and bankrollers in the United States, Europe and Latin America; took money and air support secretly from the Central Intelligence Agency; attacked cities in Nicaragua;

The junta took on Cuban advisers and pledged land reforms, equality for women and a nonaligned foreign policy. But critics said the regime was turning Nicaragua into a state modeled on Cuban socialism, with cadres enforcing political discipline and stifling dissent.

In 1981, Mr. Pastora quit the government and disappeared. Ten months later, he surfaced in Costa Rica and, echoing United States charges, denounced the Sandinista government as a betrayal of the revolution, saying that it had imposed censorship, delayed elections and aligned itself with Cuba and the Soviet Union. The Sandinistas dismissed him as a renegade.

Mr. Pastora in 1982 raised funds in Portugal, Italy, West Germany and Spain. He met congressional leaders and White House officials in Washington in 1983, winning pledges of $27 million in aid. American corporations made large contributions as well. Panama gave him a helicopter and $300,000.

After the USA abandoned Pastoria,

(The fight against the Sandinistas was carried on by a right-wing force known as the contras with aid from Washington and secret assistance from a conspiracy, led by the National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Oliver North, that sold arms to Iran for funds that were illegally passed to the contras.)
When he was 16, a priest introduced him to the nationalist teachings of Augusto César Sandino, the rebel general who, from 1927 to 1933, led a guerrilla war against American Marines who were enforcing a United States presence in Nicaragua. Murdered on orders by Somoza, who regarded him as a threat, Sandino inspired generations of future Somoza enemies.

He had quite an interesting life:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/16/world/americas/eden-pastora-commander-zero-in-nicaragua-dies-at-83.html

Monday, June 15, 2020

Exposing the Dem Party Divide- Progressives Support Jamaal Bowman for Congress while Black Congress Caucus, Hillary, UFT Back Eliot Engel -

Bowman is anti-charter and anti high stakes testing and pro teacher. At the very least they should have been neutral. The UFT is so tied to the Dem Party central committee and the fact that this wing controls the party and shuns progressives doesn't bode well even if Biden wins. Win or lose - there will be a war.

The Hill

Black lawmakers rally behind Engel in primary fight

Powerful Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members are rallying behind longtime Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) as he fends off a tough primary challenge from a progressive African-American candidate, Jamaal Bowman.

Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), whose endorsement helped propel Joe Biden to the presidential nomination, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the caucus chairman seen as the heir apparent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-N.Y.), threw their support behind Engel, a pro-Israel Jewish American and 16-term House veteran, over the weekend.  Read the full story here


Sunday, June 14, 2020

Keeping Order in the Classroom is highest priority - Teachers Are Police Without Guns - But Not Always

I've been thinking about the role police and teachers play - and there are some similarities. But I'm also thinking of how differently teachers and police are expected to react to disorder. Teaching required being a creative policeman. Which sometimes bothers teachers who hear stories of cops losing control in the face of recalcitrance and provocation. Cops are given a pass on reacting while teachers are put in the rubber room.
One of the first things I was told as a new teacher was that I must keep order in the classroom to survive. (They weren't wrong). That teaching and learning can't take place in disorder. And that the administration doesn't care what you do - teach effectively or not as long as you keep the kids under control - and don't bother the admin.

But that led some to view - and even enjoy the policing actions more than teaching. One of my colleagues hated the classroom but had perfect control through fear and manipulation - and when a full time dean disciplinarian position came up he grabbed it - and never went back to the class - be became a lawyer. I got his final class the year after and had a lot of ground to make up.

Good teachers were viewed as those who kept kids under control. Order in the classroom. After all, that was the external thing everyone in an elementary school saw -- teachers had to march their kids through the halls and staircases multiple times a day and it was embarrassing if they weren't orderly. When I was a kid in the 50s, our teachers in the upper grades weren't required to lead us around and we came up and down on our own - but by the late 60s things had tightened up quite a bit and the shifting racial balance in NYC schools probably had something to do with that - poorer kids with greater needs and not enough increases in services to handle those needs but that certainly led to some schools being a semi police state. In one JHS where we fed our students into they had an ex-cop running a discipline room where he would show the kids his gun as a threat. And kids being smacked was not unheard of.

Most children have their first experience with policing with their first teachers in crowded classrooms, more often in inner cities but not so much in suburban schools with smaller class sizes. Does race play a factor? And does the fact that the teachers ares more likely to be white also play some role? We hear a lot of the school to prison pipeline and the often harsher discipline in schools in inner cities gets kids used to more severe restriction.


Today's racial discussions bring this to mind. It is not only some cops who have racial attitudes. I heard a number of racial insensitivities if not outright racism expressed by teachers and that certainly affected students. I was not exempt from some racial attitudes especially in my earliest years and had to self examine to try to overcome them. I didn't go through racial sensitivity training. My kids were my trainers and some of the students I became closest to were black students.

(Years later I attended a few weddings where my wife and I were among the few white people. I also became close with a former student's all black high school basketball team a few years after he left my class and over 4 years had some wonderful times with these teenagers and that broke a lot of wariness of black male teens.)

I think of calls for teachers to be armed in case of school invasions. As we see in current demos, the more arms the more chance for violence. Can you imagine a teacher with a gun losing their shit? There are so many police forces in Europe where they don't carry guns and there are few people who end up dying. Yet there is no massive disorder or higher levels of crimes and the prison populations are vastly lower than ours.

Teachers vary in their approaches and how they deal with management issues often depends on their skills and personalities. And experience.

In my first year I had no control but luckily I had maneuvered myself into an ATR like job as a permanent sub in the same school so every day I had another chance with a new class. I had a friend who had started a year earlier in an elementary school - a milquetoast kind of guy and he was destroyed early on and getting the class back was very tough though I heard they calmed down at one point -- I guess running all over the guy got boring and he was a nice guy and they probably came to see that. But that story scared the hell out of me and learning how to control - police - a class was my highest priority. And once I did in the spring (69) of my second year - soon after the fall 1968 strike - I still consider that ability as one of the greatest things I learned in life.

A black guidance counselor -Joe Purviance - who was a mentor - in my first school told me t find something to like even in the worst kid - find it and focus on it and let the kid know. It on the whole worked. Having had 17 or 18 different classes I can think of maybe 5 kids at most over this time that I couldn't find something to like. (They seemed like sociopaths.) And I taught in a tough area surrounded by projects and tenements in then very poor Williamsburg. One of those very difficult kids at the time - it took me a month to realize how funny he was and he became a pal - in fact he IM'd me this morning wishing me a happy Sunday - he's about 50 now.

Teaching required being a creative policeman. Which sometimes bothers teachers who hear stories of cops losing control in the face of recalcitrance and provocation. Cops are given a pass on reacting while teachers are put in the rubber room. [See sidenote below].

Go to any school and you will see all sorts of provocation and recalcitrance. In the old days some teachers used some from of physical force and fear.
There were so many stories. One of the teachers considered one of the best in my school - an elderly tiny woman - was known for wrapping knuckles with a ruler or twisting ears - and not just for misbehavior but for not getting an answer correct. She was lauded by the administration for her control.

I learned to use sense of humor and my personality but also had to do some yelling.  And of course it all depended on the difficulity of the class in terms of behavior problems.

One thing I decided on early -- I would  try not to call an administrator for help as that would be sending them a message that I was not capable -- and also a message to the kids that I needed help. After my 2nd year when I did need an admin at times to firm up my control - I rarely called for an admin again.

Which brings me to my point. I understand how dangerous it can be dealing with adult criminals for cops but there are also so many cases of minor incidents escalating - Sandra Bland for instance - where a cop things his manhood is being challenged -- while teachers who also may face verbal and even physical assaults must show enormous restraint.

Are teachers trained to show restraint? No. I think it comes naturally to most in the context of the situation - they are still dealing mostly with kids and of course teachers now know that even saying something could be a career-ender. Now police are facing a similar situation.

------
Sidenote:
A friend who taught for less than 3 years in his mid 50s as a second career in a school with an awful principal told me the story of how in a weak moment he called a kid a punk and that almost led to his being brought up on charges.

One of my colleagues grabbed a girl who kept running out of the room - I was trained to physically restrain a kid who tried to run to stop them from possibly running in the street and getting hit by a car -- and sat her down and in so doing the corner of her finer nail left a slight scratch on her cheek - actually in a photo taken by the vicious principal you couldn't even see the scratch - the teacher was black and the principal was Dominican and black teachers viewed her as a racist. The principal got the parent to call the cops and 5 showed up and took the teacher away in handcuffs. The end result was 3 years in the rubber room and a year suspension without pay - I attended some of the 3020 hearings.

Peter Bronson addition:
Good article, but I would add something like this to the last  paragraph.
There’s one thing missing from this article. The police are armed to the hilt, given $$$ to pay for the latest hardware, protection against retaliation while the schools which should be the place were we teach young people what  it means to be a “person” in a democracy are segregated, under resourced and staffed by poorly trained teachers who’s marching orders are: “the kids are dumb, but they’re docile.”*
 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Teacher Defeats AntiEd State Senator in WV Republican Primary

The Republican primary election in West Virginia which resulted in an upset of a state leader by a teacher who had the support of the state teacher union even though she is not a member of either the AFT or NEA.

We know that the teacher revolt in WV was the beginning of a revived labor movement and sparked similar revolts in other red states where education has been severely shortchanged. From a distance the movements seemed to come from all political sectors in the teaching corps though people on the left claimed that there were small cadres of left organizers that played a major role. The big unions tailed the movement at every stage but wrestled to get control of them.

One outcome of the red state teacher rebellion has been a cross state group called National Educators United - https://www.nationaleducatorsunited.org/
I spoke to one of the leaders and will be reporting on them soon - they are across a dozen states, mostly red and seem to have some left leadership but are open to a broad range of teachers unlike left-only groups.

Here are two reports on Amy Nicole Grady's victory over the Republican State senate leader. She still faces off against a Democrat in the general election and it will be interesting to see if the unions back her or the Dem.

http://wvmetronews.com/2020/06/11/teacher-unions-now-throwing-support-behind-more-republicans/
 
Carmichael backed teacher pay raises and additional funding for educational improvements but earned the wrath of teachers for his support of charter schools.  He was the target of teacher and service worker anger during two strikes, prompting opponents to push a “Ditch Mitch” movement.

Grady is a schoolteacher, but she does not currently belong to either of the state’s teacher unions—the West Virginia Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers West Virginia.  However, she garnered considerable teacher support during her campaign and credits their backing with contributing to her victory.

The teachers’ support of Grady is the most significant example thus far of the current political strategy by the unions.  Historically, the teacher organizations have backed Democratic candidates, especially when Democrats were in the majority.

However, Republicans now control both chambers of the Legislature, which has caused the teacher organizations to seek out candidates who are supportive of their education issues, even if they are Republican.
----

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/politics/jackson-county-voters-ditch-senate-president-mitch-carmichael/article_760220ac-cc37-59c1-b66c-8572275f1830.html

Jackson County voters ditch Senate President Mitch Carmichael


Amy Nichole Grady, a teacher from Leon, defeated incumbent Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, in Tuesday’s primary election.
Grady, a teacher at Leon Elementary School in Mason County, totaled 6,402 votes to Carmichael’s 5,762 votes. Delegate Jim Butler, R-Mason, finished last in the Republican primary with 4,265 total votes.
Inspired by the West Virginia teacher strike, Grady first ran for state Senate in 2018 as an independent, according to 100 Days in Appalachia. She picked up just 4,000 votes in that race.
On Tuesday, however, Grady unseated West Virginia’s lieutenant governor.
Carmichael congratulated Grady in a tweet late Tuesday night.
“Congratulations to my opponent, Amy Nichole Grady, on winning the 2020 GOP nomination for State Senate in WV’s 4th District. I look forward to supporting your campaign this fall to ensure our district continues to have a leader who will always fight for conservative values,” Carmichael wrote.
Carmichael grew up in Ripley and worked in technology before coming into politics. He graduated from Marshall University.
He was first elected to the state Senate in 2012, and won reelection in 2016. That same year, Carmichael was named the first Republican Senate Majority Leader in more than 83 years when the GOP took over control of the Statehouse. In 2017, he was named Senate President-Lieutenant Governor.
In 2018 and 2019, Carmichael drew heavy criticism from educators and school service personnel across the state during teacher strikes. He was a proponent of establishing charter schools in the state, and protesters — regularly chanting “Ditch Mitch” outside chamber doors — accused him of not listening to educators when it came to the legislation.
During the 2020 legislative session, Carmichael failed to rally his party behind three pieces of key legislation for Republicans: forming an Intermediate Court of Appeals, eliminating the tax on manufacturing equipment and ending greyhound racing in the state. All bills failed to pass the Legislature, with Republicans crossing party lines for all three.
In November’s general election, Grady will face off against Bruce Ashworth, who won the Democratic nomination unopposed Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

WWII - When Everyone was Antifa - Hitler and Muscolini Saw them as terrorists - the world saw them as brave heroes

Since I was a kid (- and remember - that was the 1950s and early 60s - not all that long after WWII) I was fascinated by The Resistance movements to fascist rule and the guts it took - and so many died.

The first big antifa resisters were the anti-Franco forces in the Spanish Civil War.

Homage to Catalonia is George Orwell's personal account of his experiences and observations fighting for the Republican army during the Spanish Civil War. The war was one of the shaping events on his political outlook and a significant part of what led him to write, in 1946, "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for Democratic Socialism, as I understand it."... Wikipedia
Yes, Virginia, Orwell whose work attacking Stalinism - not socialism - has been misrepresented by right wing anti-communists - was a social democrat and antifa.

And the other major antifa resistance movements were in France and in the territories Hitler conquered and yes, they were often led by communist resisters.


While many films were made about The Resistance (France mostly), I hadn't heard very much about the resistance in Italy.
In a time of rising threats of fascism, the memory loss of the early antifas is a political loss.
A NYT article pointed out to how many are dying in Italy due to the virus.


The recent incarnations of Antifa that Trump and the right rail about as an attempt to turn the left into a threat is not even much of an organization but it is dedicated to a willingness to do open battle wherever fascism rears its head but I don't support some of the actions to shut down free speech - that's my libertarianism showing and why I find some of the restrictions some on the left believe in so annoying. But even that becomes fuzzy when we see distorted so-called free speech. Trump even tops himself by questioning the 75 year old Buffalo guy who was knocked down and bleeding as being antifa. You can't even mock Trump - he does it to himself every hour.

Read this piece from The Intercept: He Tweeted That He Was the Leader of Antifa. Then the FBI Asked Him to Be an Informant.
https://theintercept.com/2020/06/09/antifa-fbi-tweet/

Here are some links to NYT obits on resistance fighters.

May 19, 2020 - Cécile Rol-Tanguy, a heroine of the French Resistance who helped lead a popular uprising against the German occupation of Paris, died on ...

Manolis Glezos Dies at 97; Tore Down Nazi Flag Over Athens ...


Angelos Tzortzinis for The New York Times. Iliana Magra. By Iliana Magra. April 1, 2020. Manolis Glezos, a Greek resistance fighter who became a national hero after ... Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis of Greece announced the death, at the ...

Diet Eman, Who Risked Her Life to Rescue Dutch Jews, Dies ...


Sep 11, 2019 - It took 50 years for her to write of her exploits in the Dutch Resistance, ... Her sister's fiancé was killed on the first of five days of fighting.
Jan 25, 2019 - He told his story in a 2009 book, “Rather Die Fighting: A Memoir of World War ... He led Jewish resistance fighters against the Nazis in Poland.
Mar 17, 2020 - I wasn't ready to fight, so I thought I could be a nurse on the front lines, since I ... There, the members of the resistance movement interrogated me, as they were ... I set him down on a rock and he bled to death. ... Stasha Seaton told her story to Jake Nevins, The New York Times Magazine's editorial fellow.

Jan 4, 2019 - Loinger was met by another Resistance fighter, who helped the children slip through a barbed wire fence to enter Swiss territory. Once there, they ...
Oct 22, 2018 - The Norwegian resistance fighter commanded a daring World War II ... Joachim Ronneberg, Leader of Raid That Thwarted a Nazi Atomic Bomb, Dies at 99 ... on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he told The New York Times in 2015.
May 8, 2020 - Mandela said his ideal of a democratic and free South Africa was, “if needs be, an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” When Judge Quartus de ...


Below is the NYT article on Italian deaths

Friday, June 5, 2020

The Great Filter - Is Humanity and Civilization Doomed? Recent NYT articles point that way

The Great Filter is a civilization-scale event or circumstance that would prevent a species from colonizing space or ever meeting other species — perhaps of even continuing to exist. The filter could be a chemical bottleneck that prevents the formation of RNA that jump-started evolution, or a geophysical roadblock to the production of oxygen, which enabled multicellular creatures. But the filter could also be nuclear war, or a world-destroying asteroid, or global warming, or a malevolent artificial intelligence gone amok. Or, even, a vicious pandemic. ... NYT
Can you imagine Trump's reaction if he were told a mile long meteor went off course and was headed straight for earth in 60 days? "First I have to finish building the wall" or claiming no problem it will probably hit China - or even sending up a missile to try to steer it to China.
Are we seeing an example of The Great Filter as we are in the midst of a trifecta - 1919 pandemic, 1930s great depression, 1960s civil strife? All we are missing is a BIG war like Vietnam or a BIGGER nuke war, but I have faith that Trump might manage that - with his ending nuke treaties and wanting to explode nukes again. But I have faith in Trump who I believe narcissist as he is doesn't want to see the world go on without him, thus doing anything he can to make global warming as bad as he can. It's not only the oceans rising -- people can move. It's the heat where humans can't live above a certain temp. Venus anyone? But that might take too long so let's speed it up.

There have been a number of great extinctions on earth due to natural causes - I think 5 so far - and we ourselves are viewed as the 6th extinction - some would say we are an unnatural cause but I disagree - we are just another animal and what we do to cause our own extinction is basically acting naturally - which is selfishly to favor our genes and species.


Anyway, even without a Trump, there are theories that we face extinction due to many factors. Known as The Great Filter, the theory is based on the idea that there are probably billions of planets in the universe with conditions for life - so-called Goldilocks planets.

The Fermi Paradox
Famed atomic scientist Enrico Fermi asked, "Where is everyone?" In billions of years where civilizations probably arose way before our time, there are no signs. He asked this in the early 50s and nothing has changed. But we are young - really civilization only goes back 5-6000 years and the very existence of our type of humans goes back only 70,000 years, a truly remarkable short period of time for one species to so dominate a planet - wherein lies the seeds of our destruction. View the pandemic as nature striking back. All ancient civilizations on earth all fell and our time may be at hand.

But the filter idea is that any civilization either falls due to natural events (a meteor - ask the dinosaur civilization) or inevitably creates its own conditions for failure and therefor has a shelf life - possibly a shelf life that never goes beyond before reaching the ability to reach out.

The filter idea is explored in The End of the World podcast: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-end-of-the-world-with-josh-clark
which devotes each episode to another filter, some farfetched but others very real. Over population and nuclear war are obvious but he also deals with a robotic takeover where artificial intelligence wipes us out as useless.

We are on the verge of reaching out as evidenced by the recent astronaut blastoff but every day we are seeing more evidence of some coming collapse - maybe the best we do is going back to living in caves. Or Mars. I think people like Elon Musk are serious about Mars because they see a finite end coming to human civilization -- if you want to get a brilliant glimpse read Kim Stanley Robinson's massive 3 volume series - Red, Green, Blue Mars.

The NYT is fueling the concept with articles on the disappearance of species and the rain forest, and on the great filter with some intriguing ideas:

Can humans survive without bees, for instance? The unleashing of that killer wasp from Japan in this country might doom us all on its own.

Or another meteor - Some dinosaur was probably thinking he had it pretty good the day before 65m yrs ago. Can you imagine Trump's reaction if he were told a mile long meteor went off course and was headed straight for earth in 60 days? "First I have to finish building the wall" or claiming no problem it will probably hit China - or even sending up a missile to try to steer it to China.

Artificial intelligence is a threat - The Terminator where machines no longer need humans. Disease, loss of resources resources, exploding suns - even a massive sunspot could wipe us out. Nuclear war, pandemics, civil unrest, end of resources (fresh water), climate change, a leader of a powerful country who helps bring most of the above in play. There is a podcast that goes into the various collapse of civilizations here on earth - It's called Fall of Civilizations and in some cases over the top leaders played a significant role in degrading society to a tipping point. But overall I never think individuals play the dominant role -- things move in a certain direction like a glacier and can't be stopped. Like if anyone thinks going back to Paris Climate will be enough - right now a meteor seems to be the most painless.

If you are not depressed enough here are links.



Mass Extinctions Are Accelerating, Scientists Report

Five hundred species are likely to become extinct over the next two decades, according to a new study.

By