Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Clintons and their AFT/UFT Pals: neo-liberal ed deformers - and maybe neocons too

Hillary debated.....
[Clinton] recaptured the governorship [of Arkansas] in 1982 and as a reward appointed his wife to head a special task force charged with reforming Arkansas’ education system, at that time widely regarded as the worst in the country. The plan Mrs. Clinton came up with showcased teacher testing and funding the schools through a sales tax increase, an astoundingly regressive proposal since it imposed new costs on the poor in a very poor state while sparing any levies on big corporations. The plan went through. Arkansas’ educational ranking remained abysmal, but Hillary won national attention as a "realistic Democrat" who could make "hard" choices, like taxing welfare mothers. ... Counterpunch, Nov. 2007
....Linda at AFT c. 1985
Is there any doubt that the UFT/NYSUT/AFT complex will be endorsing Hillary Clinton - and given the alternatives, it may look like a no-brainer - though we may have less chance of eternal wars with Rand Paul. Hey dummy, some of you might be saying --- it is obvious Hillary will be much better on education. Well, if you think so, consider the quote above. The Kahlenberg Shanker bio spends serious time talking about the close relationship between Shanker (and the AFT) and the Clintons, a partnership  helping give birth to neoliberal ed deform.

And don't forget that when Vera and I titled our review of the Kahlenberg Shanker bio: Albert Shanker, Ruthless Neocon, we were extending the neo-liberal concept to foreign policy. Hillary is a neo-con no matter how she triangulates. And if you do your homework and read the Schmidt Pamphlet I refer to so often, you will see that the AFT/UFT complex has often been at the service at home and abroad of the neoliberals and the neocons.

Counterpunch reprised a 3 part series from 2007 that critiqued Hillary and Bill from the left -- by ALEXANDER COCKBURN and Jeffrey St. Clair.
Part One: The Making of Hillary Clinton.
Part Two: Hillary and the Arkansas Elite.
Part Three:  The Vices of Hillary Clinton
Hillary's announcement that she is running for president (surprise! surprise!!!) brought up some thoughts - and a bit of research.

The Clintons and our union have been tied together for over 30 years, since Bill was governor of Arkansas and he put Hillary in charge of state education reform, an endeavor that made the couple amongst the earliest adopters of ed deform.

Did the Clintons out Cuomo Cuomo in the 80s in Arkansas?
Kahlenberg writes (p. 288-90)
Leading up to the 1984 presidential elections, Shanker expressed a willingness to consider another... controversial measure to rid schools of bad teachers: A movement in Arkansas [the Clintons] and Texas, to test all teachers, including veterans.

The proposals, in both states, came not from right-wingers seeking to punish teachers' unions, but from Democratic governors - Mark White in Texas [backed by Ross Perot] and Bill Clinton.
The NEA strongly opposed both...plans.
Just like Cuomo, this proposal was tied to increases in state aid and rises in teacher salaries. The "bad" teacher witch hunts were on. And our national and at that time still, UFT president, Al Shanker, was into selling off teacher protections for money, a consistent patter. And, like today, there was more resistance from the NEA than the AFT.

Shanker said:
there is ample evidence that states -- have hired people who are illiterate. If a person has been teaching for 20 years and is illiterate, then they ought not to be teaching."
I get it. But something strikes me as odd for a national union leader to be jumping on this. How did they become teachers in the first place and what was being offered to make this process if it led to true illiterates? Do we believe the "easy" tests were unbiased? Would Phds have had problems? Where were the calls to test lawyers and politicians --etc.?

Hillary debates Linda Darling-Hammond
At a later AFT conference, Shanker invited.... Hillary Clinton, who was the point person on education reform, to debate Rand researcher Linda Darling-Hammond about testing veteran teachers.
Hillary debating a woman who is today considered one of the champions of teachers. Hillary argued that the test was easy claiming that 10% failed -- and using some of the language we hear today from Campbell Brown and Students First, Hillary said: That 10% touched thousands of lives.

I don't get it. This is Arkansas. If a principal wanted to get rid of an  incompetent teacher what stopped them?

The point is, that from that point on until Shanker's death over a decade later, he [and the AFT/UFT] and the Clintons were partners - through the Clinton presidency - with developing the earliest tenets of ed deform.

Below are a few nuggets from the Kockburn Counterpunch piece pointing to the roots of the Clintons' helping move the Democratic Party to the right.

From 1971 on, Bill and Hillary were a political couple. In 1972, they went down to Texas and spent some months working for the McGovern campaign, swiftly becoming disillusioned with what they regarded as an exercise in futile ultraliberalism. They planned to rescue the Democratic Party from this fate by the strategy they have followed ever since: the pro-corporate, hawkish neoliberal recipes that have become institutionalized in the Democratic Leadership Council, of which Bill Clinton and Al Gore were founding members.

Hillary had an offer to become the in-house counsel of the Children’s Defense Fund and seemed set to become a high-flying public interest Washington lawyer. There was one impediment. She failed the D.C. bar exam. She passed the Arkansas bar exam. In August of 1974, she finally moved to Little Rock and married Bill in 1975 at a ceremony presided over by the Rev. Vic Nixon. They honeymooned in Acapulco with her entire family, including her two brothers’ girlfriends, all staying in the same suite.

After Bill was elected governor of Arkansas in 1976, Hillary joined the Rose Law Firm, the first woman partner in an outfit almost as old as the Republic. It was all corporate business, and the firm’s prime clients were the state’s business heavyweights ­ Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart, Jackson Stevens Investments, Worthen Bank and the timber company Weyerhaeuser, the state’s largest landowner.

Two early cases (of a total of five that Hillary actually tried) charted her course. The first concerned the successful effort of Acorn ­ a public interest group doing community organizing ­ to force the utilities to lower electric rates on residential consumers and raise on industrial users. Hillary represented the utilities in a challenge to this progressive law, the classic right-wing claim, arguing that the measure represented an unconstitutional "taking" of property rights. She carried the day for the utilities.

The second case found Hillary representing the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Arkansas in a lawsuit filed by a disabled former employee who had been denied full retirement benefits by the company. In earlier years, Hillary had worked at the Children’s Defense Fund on behalf of abused employees and disabled children. Only months earlier, while still a member of the Washington, D.C., public interest community, she had publicly ripped Joseph Califano for becoming the Coca Cola company’s public counsel. "You sold us out, you, you sold us out!" she screamed publicly at Califano. Working now for Coca Cola, Hillary prevailed

By the late 1980s, Hillary Clinton was sitting on the board of Wal-Mart,


Even as Hillary Clinton was making trouble for herself and Bill in her legal and business dealings, she was reinventing Bill as a politician. Defeat in 1980 after his first two-year gubernatorial term was a cataclysmic event. Bill called it a "near death experience". According to Gerth and Van Natta, it was "the only time anyone has seen Hillary Clinton cry in public". Bill was inclined to throw in the political towel and go back to being a law professor in Fayetteville, where he would doubtless be roosting in tenured bliss to this day, plump and pony-tailed, fragrant with marijuana and still working his way through an endless roster of coeds. But in 1980, over a funereal breakfast of instant grits, Vernon Jordan brokered a deal: Bill Clinton would give up being a southern populist in the mold of Orval Faubus, six-term governor of Arkansas. Southern populism involved offending powerful corporations. Bill lost in 1980 because not only had he taken the un-populist course of hiking the rate on car registration, he’d angered Weyerhaeuser and Tyson Foods. So, for his comeback he would remake himself as a neoliberal. Hillary Rodham would give up insisting on keeping her maiden name and become Hillary Clinton. The man charged with supervising the Clintons’ makeover was selected by Hillary: Dick Morris, a political consultant known for his work for Southern racists like Jesse Helms. Morris ultimately guided President Bill Clinton into the politics of triangulation, outflanking the Republicans from the right on race, crime, morals posturing and deference to corporations. As Hillary said in 1980, "If you want to be in this business, this is the type of person you have to deal with".

Bill Clinton duly pushed aside the Playboy centerfolds and pored over Dick Morris’ polling data, trimming his positions to suit. He recaptured the governorship in 1982 and as a reward appointed his wife to head a special task force charged with reforming Arkansas’ education system, at that time widely regarded as the worst in the country. The plan Mrs. Clinton came up with showcased teacher testing and funding the schools through a sales tax increase, an astoundingly regressive proposal since it imposed new costs on the poor in a very poor state while sparing any levies on big corporations. The plan went through. Arkansas’ educational ranking remained abysmal, but Hillary won national attention as a "realistic Democrat" who could make "hard" choices, like taxing welfare mothers.

While enjoying this limelight, Mrs. Clinton was invited onto the board of Wal-Mart as the first woman director, the only Rose Law partner at that time to have accepted an outside position

The desire for secrecy is one of Mrs. Clinton’s enduring and damaging traits, which is why these campaign imbroglios are of consequence. Clinton dug himself into many a pit, but his greatest skill was in talking his way out of them in a manner Americans found forgivable. Befitting a Midwestern Methodist with a bullying father, repression has always been one of Mrs. Clinton’s most prominent characteristics. Hers has been the instinct to conceal, to deny, to refuse to admit any mistake. Mickey Kantor, the Los Angeles lawyer who worked on the 1992 campaign, said that Hillary adamantly refused to admit to any mistakes.

Health reform was Mrs. Clinton’s assignment in her husband’s first term. The debacle is well known. In early 1993, 64 per cent of all Americans favored a system of national health care. By the time Mrs. Clinton’s 1342-page bill, generated in secret, landed in Congress, she had managed to offend the very Democratic leadership essential to making health reform a reality. The proposal itself, under the mystic mantra "Managed Competition", embodied all the distinctive tropisms of neoliberalism: a na├»ve complicity with the darker corporate forces, accompanied by adamant refusal to even consider building the popular political coalition that alone could have faced and routed the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies – two of the most powerful forces on the American political scene. Mrs. Clinton’s rout on health reform remains one of the great avoidable disasters of the last century in American politics, and one with appalling human and social consequences

This disaster was compounded by the fact that after the collapse of health reform, on the advice of Dickie Morris (summoned by Mrs. Clinton), the Clintons swerved right, toward all the ensuing ghastly legislative ventures of their regime – the onslaughts on welfare, the crime bill, NAFTA. With Morris came the birth of "triangulation" – the tactic of the Clinton White House working with Republicans and conservative Democrats and actively undermining liberal and progressive initiatives in Congress. Money that could have given the House back to the Democrats in 1996 was snatched by the White House purely for the self-preservation of the Clintons.

Since Vietnam, there’s never been a war that Mrs. Clinton didn’t like. She argued passionately in the White House for the NATO bombing of Belgrade. Five days after September 11, 2001, she was calling for a broad war on terror. Any country presumed to be lending "aid and comfort" to al-Qaeda "will now face the wrath of our country." Bush echoed these words eight days later in his nationally televised speech on September 21. "I’ll stand behind Bush for a long time to come", Senator Clinton promised, and she was as good as her word, voting for the Patriot Act and the wide-ranging authorization to use military force against Afghanistan.
Of course she supported without reservation the attack on Afghanistan and, as the propaganda buildup toward the onslaught on Iraq got underway, she didn’t even bother to walk down the hall to read the national intelligence estimate on Iraq before the war. (She wasn’t alone in that. Only six senators read that NIE.) When she was questioned about this, she claimed she was briefed on its contents, but in fact no one on her staff had the security clearance to read the report. And her ignorance showed when it came time to deliver her speech in support of the war, as she reiterated some of the most outlandish claims made by Dick Cheney. In this speech, she said Saddam Hussein had rebuilt his chemical and biological weapons program; that he had improved his long-range missile capability; that he was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program; and that he was giving aid and comfort to Al Qaeda. The only other Democratic senator to make all four of these claims in his floor speech was Joe Lieberman. But even he didn’t go as far as Senator Hillary. In Lieberman’s speech, there was conditionality about some of the claims. In Senator Clinton’s, there was no such conditionality, even though a vehement war hawk, Ken Pollack, advising Senator Clinton prior to her vote, had told her that the allegation about the al-Qaeda connection was "bullshit".
Later, as the winds of opinion changed, Senator Clinton claimed – and continues to do so to this day – that hers was a vote not for war but for negotiation. In fact, the record shows that only hours after the war authorization vote she voted against the Democratic resolution that would have required Bush to seek a diplomatic solution before launching the war.

Today, Hillary Clinton says she supports the "surge" in Iraq and claims it’s working. From candidate, maybe president Hillary Clinton, Iran can expect no mercy.



Anonymous said...

With Dems like Norm who needs Republicans. Norm, STOP! Hilary is NOT our best friend. She is our only Friend. This country is not going to elect Bernie Sanders. It is either Hillary or Freaking Scott Walker. Get on the bandwagon today!

ed notes online said...

With friends like these --- Did you actually read this post? Debating Linda Darling-Hammond of all people and defending re-examininations for teachers? Jeez. Even Cuomo hasn't suggested that. See what happens when Dems act like Republicans? They turn into neocons.
I am becoming a lefty libertarian -- a leftarian --

Anonymous said...

With Dems like Hillary, who needs the Tea Party? 3:33 have you witnessed the devastation corporatist Dems like Hillary have wrought on public education? Obama capitalized on the attack of NCLB with his RttT atrocities. If all the Democrats in Denial vote for Hillary, more nails will be hammered in the coffin of public education in America. Norm is to be applauded for all he does for us.

Anonymous said...

More of the same---we can't do better...blah blah blah. I'm not voting for Hilary. And if that means Scott Walker is the next president, so be it. It's the price the democrats must pay for screwing us over time and time again. If I'm going to get screwed, it might as well be by a republican. If the republicans win the White House, it will be because the dems pissed off too many people like me who used to support their candidates. It's time to earn my vote back Democratic Party...and you aint gonna do it by telling me the republicans are worse. Roseanne McCosh