Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hill in '12 - Leo and Randi Attack Me

I've been writing on the issue of whether the Clinton/AFT/UFT machine really wants McCain to win so they can run Hill for Pres in '12 for quite a while. That the fall back position for the Clinton machine [of which the UFT/AFT machine is part and parcel] was to set up the campaign against McCain - in 2012. The NYT Maureen Dowd column on Aug. 13 nails them.

Now I know that many people feel Dowd has a thing about the Clintons, but she does deal with the facts of the protest and addresses the issue that the Clintons could stop the movement with a simple word. But they won't. Closure, ya know.

What we do know is that the actions by the Clinton gang will severely damage Obama to the point of no repair.

From the day the Clintons started to go downhill, we pointed to the quandary for UFT/AFT president Randi Weingarten. Insiders at 52 Broadway had been telling us for years that the major focus by Weingarten was to get Hillary elected and that the joint UFT/AFT presidency was to be used for that purpose. Thus the manipulation of the Hillary endorsement where it was done ass backwards - first the AFT, then NYSUT (NY State) and never the UFT where the members, who constitute the largest local in the nation and are the backbone of NYSUT and the AFT, were presented with a fait accompli. Thus, UFT Obama supporters were never given the opportunity to even discuss an endorsement. We wondered how Obama could be pulling 90% of the black vote nationwide while the Black members of Unity Caucus were silenced into supporting Hillary.

At the April Delegate Assembly, with Obama clearly about to clinch the nomination, ICE's Lisa North asked Randi the million dollar question, which I reported this way on May 9th:

At the April Delegate Assembly Weingarten was asked by ICE's Lisa North - will you be giving Obama the same level of support you are giving to Hillary, she smiled (sort of) and said, "We don't want McCain to win, do we?" The tone with which she answered gave something away. Then this was followed by a slap at Obama. We've also heard about chapter leader training has been used to slam Obama - a great way to get the word out to members without being on the public record.

After the election, the Clintons - and Weingarten - will spend the next few years mending fences.

And they will be aided by the entire AFT/UFT apparatus. Behind the scenes of course. That will be Weingarten's focus as AFT president.

Important to UFT members is how this plays out in the amount of real support Obama will get considering the UFT/AFT has such a big stake in Hillary.

Fred Klonsky ran the piece above at his Chicago-based blog, Prea Prez.

Then the plot thickens as UFT high school VP Leo Casey attacked both Klonsky and me, calling me sleazy and attacking me for not knowing what Randi said at a Unity Caucus meeting [Norman Scott knows this, and he also knows, because he makes it his business to know such things, that she reinforced her statement at the Unity Caucus meeting later that night] - Huh? Make sure to invite me next time.

Remarkably, Casey's attack was followed up with one by Randi Weingarten herself.

Before I get into those and Klonsky's response, a UFT member who was at the April Delegate Assembly meeting sent Klonsky this report backing up some of what I sensed but not all . I think that person got some of it right tbut missed the context of the deep roots that are committed to making Hillary president, by hook or crook.

Anonymous report sent to Klonsky:
At the Delegate Assembly an Obama supporter (and, by the rules of their game, not a member of our leadership’s caucus, they all support Clinton or remain silent) asked the “will we support the candidate even if it is someone other than Hillary” question, and Randi did answer clearly “yes.” And then she hedged. Not nearly as badly as Norm indicates, but it was a hedge. From memory, after her yes, she went on to mention how there hasn’t been outreach from the Obama campaign, that they’ve been hard to talk to. Didn’t make much sense. And, yeah, it sowed some doubt. But not much. It sounded much more like one last negative comment, one last unnecessary shot at Obama. But she was careful. The shot was at “the Obama campaign” rather than at him personally.

I have no doubt that the entire UFT phone-banking and canvassing machine will get to work behind Obama, but they might push a bit more on the local races, and not push quite as hard overall as they would have if Hillary had won.

Here is Klonsky's comment on the Casey/Weingarten's posts (which follow his comment.)

UFT’s Casey berates me. “Proud of support for Clinton.”
preaprez on May 11th, 2008

A few words in response to Casey and Weingarten. A couple of words about the two previous posts [by Casey and Weingarten].

First, I couldn’t be more pleased if the teacher union leadership will enthusiastically support Barack Obama in the upcoming historic battle with John McCain. As a member of the NEA, I wish my own union had done it already.

Frankly, I received the e-mail from UFT President Randi Weingarten with mixed reactions.

Mostly I’m happy about her assurance that her union will energetically support Obama when he is finally formally nominated or when Hillary drops out.

But, Weingarten’s claim that she never said anything negative about Obama seems to be parsing words.

Clinton’s campaign against Obama, particularly in recent weeks, has been repugnant, war-mongering and racist. What of Clinton’s threats to “obliterate” Iran? What of Clinton’s making use of racism in her warnings that Obama would be rejected by white working voters because he is black? Other Clinton supporters rejected this kind of talk.

What was my crime? I reprinted a post from a NY school’s activist (”slimy” according to the wordsmith, Casey) who has a blog that I read and sometimes agree with and sometimes don’t. I reprint a lot of postings and I will continue to do it, even if Leo Casey doesn’t like it. Interesting that he didn’t get so outraged when my anti-war essay was censored on the very site that printed his essay the day before mine was scheduled to run. In fact, not a peep from Casey.

No, Casey’s outrage is limited and targeted. Gerald Bracey writes an article on the Huffington Post about NCLB, and Casey says Bracey’s right-wing critics are justified in their outrage.

Someone from the union opposition speculates about what the AFT’s position might be in the aftermath of the Clinton collapse, given their leadership’s close ties to the Clinton operation, and Casey is outraged. In Leo Casey’s world you are not allowed to speculate about the political dealings of the union leadership, because as we all know, they are always open and above board. I reprint a portion of a post, and in Leo Casey’s world, civil debate is calling me “sleazy” and “shameful.”

But the candidate that they support runs a cheap-shot, Karl Rove-like campaign, and Casey’s outrage disappears.

Casey’s hysterical rant suggests that maybe there’s something to the speculation. A reasonable response would have been, “There’s nothing to it. The UFT will enthusiastically support the Democratic nominee in the race against McCain.” Because all the name-calling aside, that’s what I’m going to do.

By the way, I don’t know Norm Scott. Never met him. He’s never written to me. Never called me a name. Casey’s finger-pointing about how I joined Norm Scott in some exercise is not true. The only one who I join in exercising is Ulysses, my sweet Wheaten Terrier. And Ulysses is neither slimy, sleazy, divisive or blindly critical. On the contrary, he is blindly accepting of everyone. We need more like him.

[Note: The last time Casey attacked me [Konsky] it was because I said the UFT had supported Clinton. He said that the UFT didn’t support Clinton. Now he says he is proud of their support. You pick.]

Casey’s e-mail follows:

Leo Casey comment:
I am personally proud of the principled way in which the UFT and AFT has supported Clinton, sticking entirely to our view of the issues and Obama’s and Clinton’s positions on them.

This is one of the sleaziest and most outrageous seen in quite a while, and you do yourself absolutely no credit by reproducing it on your blog and giving it credence.
Every time the question of what we would do if Obama [or earlier, Edwards] won the Democratic nomination over Clinton has been posed, been completely clear and unequivocal: the differences among the Democratic candidates on the issues that are paramount for us — education, labor, human rights — pale next to their differences with the McCain, and we would actively support whomever won the nomination. When the question was posed at the April Delegate Assembly, at a time when Clinton’s candidacy looked like it was gaining momentum after Ohio, Texan and Pennsylvania, and Randi’s answer there was as clear as it could possibly be:
The person who asked the question, an Obama supporter, thanked her for her answer. Norman Scott knows this, and he also knows, because he makes it his business to know such things, that she reinforced her statement at the Unity Caucus meeting later that night, explicitly refuting misrepresentations of Obama’s positions on Israel — an issue of great concern to many of our members — and telling members that we would call upon them for November.
Since her words are so clear on this question, he is reduced to a slimy attempt at suggesting that she means something other than what she has actually said, again and again.
I am personally proud of the principled way in which the UFT and AFT has supported Clinton, sticking entirely to our view of the issues and Obama’s and Clinton’s positions on them. Regardless of what others have done, we have refused to go down any road other than that of the issues. Our endorsement, our focus on the issues and our ability to put people into the field in key battleground states has been one of the few important and consistent strengths of the Clinton campaign — a point which, I am sure, is not lost on an Obama campaign looking to November.
If you share with us the view that is potentially a realigning election that could put a progressive majority in command, than clearly the task is one of building the most powerful coalition possible for November, so that we can win the Presidency with strong majorities in Congress. A major component of that coalition will necessarily be teacher unions, as we are probably the most significant electoral force in the union movement. Norman Scott could care less about that goal of winning in November — as always, his purpose is to sow division. How shameful that you would join in him that exercise, and give credence to his outrageous misrepresentations.


And Randi follows with:

I agree with Leo. I have never said a negative word about Senator Obama. When asked at the April DA about this I was very emphatic about how we must unite the Democratic Party. Only someone who wants to be devisive or blindly critical, or simply lie, could have possibly misprepresented the content or tone of my remarks.


Anyone who was listening carefully caught the hesitation but there was also a quick recovery. But I always say, watch what Randi does, not what she says. Her actions in Denver will give us a clue as to whether my analysis has been correct.

OK Randi. Now is the time to put up or shut up. Roundly condemn the attempt to derail the Obama camppaign in Denver. As a super delegate, make a stand and just VOTE NO on roll call vote. And don't give us the democracy crap which we see very little of in the UFT.


  1. I hope that your analysis is incorrect. Another term of republican rule and there will be little left for anyone. However, it is clear that Randi has always favored the Clinton's, Hillary especially. Is it her position on matters, or, is it the feminist agenda? This is what many think even if not mentioned.

  2. There's a point you're missing here. The Clinton UFT/AFt relationship goes back to Shanker in the 80's and Randi is continuing the policy. Shanker had Hillary talk to the 1985 AFT convention about the Arkansaw plan to retest teachers, which she was in favor of. So was Shanker apparently.

    So it's not feminism per se though the relationship compared to the one Shanker had is tha Randi is not the dominant one. But she doesn't have the intellectual chops Shanker had - and never will.

  3. Recent news reports about the democratic convention and comments heard on HardBall last evening confirm your analysis. It will be a very sad day indeed if Obama has his legs cut out from under him by Clinton loyalists. I hope the AFT does not actively or behind the scene support such action.

  4. Of course the AFT/UFT is totally involved in this behind the scenes. Never forget that Clintons/Weingarten are joined at the hip.

    And by the way, add Joel Klein to the Clinton camp. Think of this:
    Klein/Sharpton join up and McCain supports them and they are trying to embarrass Obama into joining them too which will alienate teachers and unions and give them more reason to attack Obama.

    Follow the bouncing ball - Klein/Clinton - Obama loses McCain beneits as do the Clintons. ANd Weingarten and Klein. One big tent- onebig happy family.


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