Thursday, August 31, 2017

Yes, What About the “Alt-Left”? What the counter-protesters Trump despises were actually doing in Charlottesville

The white supremacists did not blink at violently plowing right through clergy, all of us dressed in full clerical garb. White supremacy is violence. I didn’t see any racial justice protesters with weapons; as for antifa, anything they brought I would only categorize as community defense tools and nothing more. Pretty much everyone I talk to agrees—including most clergy. My strong stance is that the weapon is and was white supremacy, and the white supremacists intentionally brought weapons to instigate violence.... What the counter-protesters Trump despises were actually doing in Charlottesville last weekend.
The yin/yang re: Antifa goes on. Here is a positive view.
Left/liberals are calling for MLK type peaceful protests. Given the armed right wing militants and the fact that police and military are mostly sympathetic to the right, the left has little room to roam. I'm still not taking sides - yet.

Yes, What About the “Alt-Left”?

What the counter-protesters Trump despises were actually doing in Charlottesville last weekend.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Chris Hedges - How ‘Antifa’ Mirrors the ‘Alt-Right’ - Truthdig

What took place in Charlottesville, like what took place in February when antifa and Black Bloc protesters thwarted UC Berkeley’s attempt to host the crypto-fascist Milo Yiannopoulos, was political theater. It was about giving self-styled radicals a stage. It was about elevating their self-image. It was about appearing heroic. It was about replacing personal alienation with comradeship and solidarity. Most important, it was about the ability to project fear. This newfound power is exciting and intoxicating. It is also very dangerous.... Chris Hedges
Criticism of Antifa from progressives on the left mounts. This is different from the liberal ACLU "free speech even for Nazis" critiques. Self-declared anarchists are not the most loved on the left --- after all, they often disparage the essential beliefs of many leftists. Who is to say that Hedges is protested at some point for disagreeing with Antifa? I am not comfortable with people making certain decisions as to who is kosher and who is not.

Hedges makes some important points:
Street clashes do not distress the ruling elites. These clashes divide the underclass. They divert activists from threatening the actual structures of power. They give the corporate state the ammunition to impose harsher forms of control and expand the powers of internal security. When antifa assumes the right to curtail free speech it becomes a weapon in the hands of its enemies to take that freedom away from everyone, especially the anti-capitalists.
The focus on street violence diverts activists from the far less glamorous building of relationships and alternative institutions and community organizing that alone will make effective resistance possible.
Here is the entire article with some historical references.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Dueling it Out About Antifa

We continue our series dealing with elements of Antifa - which is not an organized block. It might make sense to some to support beating up Nazi sympathizers but I worry when it extends to whatever some people choose to define as "hate" speech. What if being critical of Antifa methods gets classified that way and suddenly leftists who are critical find themselves under attack as "liberal" free speechers?

Peter Farruggio, my old colleague (1969-70 at PS 16K and in the first caucus I was part of, Another View in District 14) feels Nazis need to be challenged and sent this email:
Peter Farruggio: I reject the argument that such "violence" from the left only makes the nazis look sympathetic, or is bad publicity. Let the mainstream presstitutes babble on about the "extremist left." Their audiences are not the important target. It's everyday people who are in danger of fascist violence and police state terror who need to see how to confront these punks. And of course, the punks themselves must see their fellow bullies getting defeated and demoralized.  I'll stand with Woody Allen on how to deal with nazis:
Here is what Woody supposedly said:

Dealing with nazis, according to Woody Allen (Manhattan)

Woody Allen: Has anybody read that Nazis are gonna march in New Jersey? Ya know? I read it in the newspaper. We should go down there, get some guys together, ya know, get some bricks and baseball bats, and really explain things to 'em.
Victor Truro: There was this devastating satirical piece on that on the op-ed page of the Times – devastating.
Allen: Well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the point of it.
Helen Hanft: Oh, but really biting satire is always better than physical force.
Allen: No, physical force is always better with Nazis.
Here's the clip:

There's also a story floating around about Jewish gangster Meir Lansky having a crew show up with baseball bats to disrupt a Nazi bund rallies in the late 1930s.

Peter continues:
OK, so it was a bad day for the extremist right in the Bay Area this weekend. The fascists punked out and canceled their planned "rally" yesterday in SF, in the face of massive anti-nazi demos. Today, a handful of them showed up in Berkeley and got their butts kicked. Too bad it had to be the adventurist anarchists who did the butt kicking, instead of the organized working class; but at least they sent the message "Don't come back here, cowards!" (It's the anarchists' stupid window-breaking that brings bad publicity, and that's probably the work of police state provocateurs)
So, I am ambivalent and an showing my libertarian tendencies.
I don't totally disagree with the liberal "presstitutes" in the New Yorker, with which I also have some sympathy.

An Intimate History of Antifa | The New Yorker

And the latest piece from The New Yorker:
the images out of Berkeley—outnumbered right-wing protesters being pepper-sprayed by counter-demonstrators, one person lying on the ground while a black-clad group punched his face and torso—will be held up by many on the right as evidence that Trump was correct about the blame falling on “many sides.”... the clear dictate of common sense is that no one should be in the business of providing this President with matches.... The New Yorker, The Antifa Protests Are Helping Donald Trump
Below is the full piece which claims the right is being handed a loaded gun.

The Antifa Protests Are Helping Donald Trump | The New Yorker

Monday, August 28, 2017

Trump’s Antifa Moment: Police Repression, Nonviolence, and Movement Building on the Left - Counterpunch

The Trump administration and right-wing pundits want to use Antifa to paint with a broad brush an image of the American “left” as committed to militancy, extremism, and violence.  Such depictions serve their political goals of marginalizing the left, while propping up the reactionary right.  Trump’s attacks on left militants will make it easier to suppress mass non-violent protests, considering reporters’ long-established practice of framing left protesters as violent agitators, and taking at face value police departments’ claims that they merely protect the public and order, rather than violently suppress constitutionally protected speech and assembly.  American law enforcement has never been shy about using violence to suppress minority communities, so it’s no stretch of the imagination to say that the American right – which has long been set on labeling Black Lives Matter as a “terrorist organization” – is chomping at the bit to justify violent state attacks on people of color.... Counterpunch, Aug. 28, 2017 - 
I've been posting some goodies dug up by Michael Fiorillo, the most recent being:
Here's another find from Michael with an emphasis on Antifa. I've been posting articles and flipping back and forth with a leaning against.

Fiorillo intros the article with:
Worthwhile piece on the political dead-end that is Antifa.... A good argument, even if it neglects the long history of these groups being infiltrated by police provocateurs...
Before getting to the article, let me tell you a story about police provocateurs who purposely incite violence. A friend who used to be left but has turned right over the years. But during the Bush years, whom she supported, she was fed up with the war and decided to attend an anti-war rally -- I guess over 10 years ago. She witnessed some contact between the police and protestors, noting one particularly active guy who was taunting the cops. They grabbed him and a few others. About an hour later, she was marching at some other location and noticed the very same guy hanging out with the cops. An agent provocateur.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Why Trump's charges of "fake news" have staying power... Montly Review

It has been amusing to watch the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets express their dismay over the rise and spread of “fake news.” These publications take it as an obvious truth that what they provide is straightforward, unbiased, fact-based reporting. They do offer such news, but they also provide a steady flow of their own varied forms of fake news, often by disseminating false or misleading information supplied to them by the national security state, other branches of government, and sites of corporate power.... Edward S. Herman, Monthly Review 
Many people, especially those on the left, have always viewed mainstream press as loaded with versions of fake news. You don't even have to be on the left. Teachers see fake news about education every day. Just look at the ATR coverage (ATR Update - DOE Will Subsidize Salaries -- Chalkb...). I view the extensive coverage of the ATR issue, given how small a piece that is in the overall context of our system, as being fake news -- covering astroturf orgs like Student First and FES as if they are legit when all their protests of the ATR issue have a bigger goal -- to turn all teachers into at-will employees. That the press doesn't question why these groups are so obsessed with the issue is itself fake news by omission.

An interesting item in the article below regarding the CIA overthrow of the social democratic government of Guatemala -
The coup government quickly attacked and decimated the new social groups that had formed in the democratic era, mainly peasant, worker, and teacher organizations.
Note who they always go after as they do in Mexico and in the Chilean coup -- teachers -- and never forget that the AFT through AFLD supported the coup and attacks on Chile's teachers who were considered too left.

There's a guy in my writing group who wrote a novel of American soldiers in WWI who were sent to France at the end of the war and celebrated the November 11, 1918 armistice only to find themselves sent to Russia to fight with the white Russians against the Bolsheviks. American soldiers in Russia a hundred years ago? How many of you out there with college degrees actually know that? Fake news by omission.

Herman touches on this time period in his article.
Fake news on Russia is a Times tradition that can be traced back at least as far as the 1917 revolution. In a classic study of the paper’s coverage of Russia from February 1917 to March 1920, Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz found that “From the point of view of professional journalism the reporting of the Russian Revolution is nothing short of a disaster. On the essential questions the net effect was almost always misleading, and misleading news is worse than none at all….
Yesterday I posted a piece on the history of CIA/FBI/NSA attacks on the left: Michael Fiorillo Warns - Be Vigilant Re: National Security State Attempts to Take Trump Down
Liberals today seem all too happy to root on these forces when they attack Trump.

For a 100 years the left has always been suspicious of the attacks on them by the national security state and the attempt to tie in Russia since the revolution a century ago. Most of our political operators want to continue the cold war -- some trying to even claim that Russia is Marxist, which is not only a joke to day but was also a joke under Stalin.

Here is another piece sent by Michael Fiorillo from the left wing Monthly Review regarding Russia which Trump claims is fake news and some people on the left agree with Trump but are cautious about saying it out loud. It reads as a defense of Putin and in some ways of Trump. I am not on board with some of it but it does make for food for thought and might lead us to question all news we read in the NY Times as tainted.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Michael Fiorillo Warns - Be Vigilant Re: National Security State Attempts to Take Trump Down

a CIA paramilitary officer summoned me to a mountaintop meeting where he threatened to murder my Lao interpreter unless I ended my research.... I was discovering just how deep the country’s intelligence agencies could reach, even in a democracy, leaving no part of my life untouched: my publisher, my university, my sources, my taxes, my phone, and even my friends.
In 2010, almost a decade into this secret war with its voracious appetite for information, the Washington Post reported that the national security state had swelled into a “fourth branch” of the federal government — with 854,000 vetted officials, 263 security organizations, and over 3,000 intelligence units, issuing 50,000 special reports every year. Though stunning, these statistics only skimmed the visible surface of what had become history’s largest and most lethal clandestine apparatus.... According to classified documents that Edward Snowden leaked in 2013, the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies alone had 107,035 employees and a combined “black budget” of $52.6 billion, the equivalent of 10% percent of the vast defense budget.......
Alfred W. McCoy
Think about this and ask if our union - at city, state and national levels every bring these astounding numbers up.

For a 100 years the left has always been suspicious of the attacks on them by the national security state and the attempt to tie in Russia since the revolution a century ago. In articles about Steve Bannon, we heard how he and the economic nationalists lost out to the globalists, warmongers, neocon wing - which made him look like a pacifist. I find some irony when views from the left match up with some of the views from the alt right. Soon after he was gone Trump announced we were sending more troops to Afghanistan. Bannon also said in essence to not hassle North Korea and accept them as a Nuke power. Let's also add the positions on Russia, which the Democratic and Republican Party wants us to continue to encircle. Same with China -- they push to have us confront China instead of recognizing they just may have a sphere of influence.

But most important to me is when I detect a shift in attitude - cheering as you will - when the CIA and FBI seem to be leaking and/or ganging up on Trump. Michael Fiorillo has been sharing a batch of articles touching on this issue.

Talk about creating fake news -- the CIA was the world champ:
the greatest single concentration of covert political and propaganda activities of the by now octopus-like CIA,” including “Operation Mockingbird” that planted disinformation in major U.S. newspapers meant to aid agency operations.
This article is from Naked Capitalism.

Michael says:
Many personal friends on the Left are so (understandably) freaked out by Trump and his supporters, that they're desperate for anyone, even the National Security State, to take him down. Historian Alfred McCoy, who was the first person to document intelligence agency complicity in global drug smuggling, shows why people should be careful what they wish for... Fascinating combination of the personal and historical...  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Erik Mears - Public School Students Read Malcolm Gladwell Pro-Charter Propaganda in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Textbook - UPDATED

UPDATE: Diane Ravitch has an important update to this Erik Mears post in which he responds to questions: Erik Mears: Why I Teach My Students in the Bronx About the Awesomeness of KIPP
By the way, I know Erik through his involvement in MORE. Erik is present at many MORE events. I've not had much opportunity to speak with him. I hear his background is unusual - a West Point grad who served in the recent and current wars, he brings a unique perspective.[Link].
More inimical than Gladwell’s omissions and flaws, though, is the fact that HMH [Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ] chose his essay to use in a high school English textbook for seniors.  My students must read, aloud, the following Gladwell comments about their schools, families and neighborhood, during the first week of school:

“These [South Bronx streets] are not streets that you’d happily walk down after dark.”
” […]Families” on “free or reduced lunch” “earn so little that the federal government chips in so the children can eat properly at lunchtime.”
” Marita has responsibilities… .  Her community does not give her what she needs.”
” […] 90% of KIPP students get scholarships instead of having to attend their own desultory high schools in the Bronx.”  [The bold lettering appears in the HMH edition, as “desultory” is to be taught as a vocabulary word.].... NYC Teacher Erik Mears, Counterpunch
Why not give public school students a dose of pro-charter propaganda in their text books? After all, there's not enough fake hype of charters around.

MORE's Erik Mears criticizes HMH for publishing Malcolm Gladwell's pro-charter "Marita's Bargain" in its Collections textbook. Erik brings his unique perspective to teaching and discipline. I believe he is a West Point grad and served in the military in Iraq.

"My public school students read pro-charter propaganda"

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

UFT's Fake History - Denies Responsibility for Creating ATR Pool

How did the ATR pool come to be?
The ATR pool — a reserve pool of teachers working as substitutes but without permanent assignments — was a personnel policy devised by the Bloomberg administration that was poorly designed and never effectively implemented, particularly after the pool expanded in the wake of school closings during the Bloomberg years. As the school-closing mania has receded, the size of the pool has diminished....
from UFT website,

Jeff Kaufman posted on ICE(the caucus) -News.
 UFT had nothing to do with creating the ATR pool!?!
Before you read the UFT press release on ATRs, I though a review of the blogs Jeff published on the ICE blog in October 2005 would give you a good sense of what was going on in real time.
In reverse order - read from bottom up.

For immediate release

AUGUST 21, 2017
The recent Department of Education announcement about assigning teachers from the ATR pool to schools on a more permanent basis has awakened the usual opposition from the "school reform" crowd.
Below is a Q&A designed to provide accurate information to those who have questions about the issue.
"Teachers in the ATR pool are a valuable resource for the system and provide needed services to schools." —UFT President Michael Mulgrew
How did the ATR pool come to be?
The ATR pool — a reserve pool of teachers working as substitutes but without permanent assignments — was a personnel policy devised by the Bloomberg administration that was poorly designed and never effectively implemented, particularly after the pool expanded in the wake of school closings during the Bloomberg years. As the school-closing mania has receded, the size of the pool has diminished.
How do teachers end up in the pool?
Most of the teachers in the pool are there because their schools or their programs closed; a minority have been the subject of some kind of disciplinary action, though that action may have led only to a brief suspension or a fine of a few hundred dollars. The overwhelming majority of teachers in the ATR pool have received positive evaluations (Effective, Highly Effective or, for those rated under the previous system, Satisfactory).
How does the program now work?
ATR teachers are in the schools every day. Some get longer assignments, but many rotate among schools on a monthly basis, filling in for teachers who are sick or on some kind of leave.
Do the ATRs cost principals money?
ATRs on rotating assignments save the school system the cost of hiring a substitute. The Department of Education has created a number of financial incentives for principals to encourage them to hire ATRs on a more permanent basis, but the fact is that an ATR's salary constitutes a tiny percentage of a building's total teacher payroll, which for even a small school can exceed $3 million annually.
How will the new program work?
A number of ATRs will be assigned (in license) to schools ONLY where the principal has been unable to fill an open position. Without the presence of such an ATR, students would be faced with occasional and expensive part-time substitutes or a group of ATR teachers rotating in and out every month.
Mr. Mulgrew told the New York Times, “What we’re trying to do is give a more stable educational environment for the students.”
An ATR in this type of provisional assignment will become part of the school's regular faculty the next year if the teacher is rated Effective or Highly Effective.
What if the ATR and the principal don't see eye-to-eye?
To quote from the recent agreement with the DOE : "...AT ANY TIME [caps added] after a provisional assignment is made a principal can request the removal of the ATR from this assignment and the ATR can be returned to the ATR pool..."
What is the role of the disciplinary process?
Under state law, tenured teachers are guaranteed due process, including a hearing before an independent arbitrator, if they have been accused of some kind of misbehavior. Many disciplinary case brought by the Department of Education are not serious enough to justify a teacher being terminated. Cases are often resolved, either by an agreement or by an arbitrator’s decisions, with a fine or a suspension. Fines can be as little as $250, and suspensions as brief as one week. But even penalties like these can land a teacher in the ATR pool under current DOE practice.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

School Scope: A Barrage of News

The WAVE - August 18, 2017 -

School Scope:  A Barrage of News
By Norm Scott

There are so many things to write about. Here are just a few.

Events in Charlottesville: The new Brown Shirts, Free Speech and the Antifascists --- Are we echoing the pre-Hitler phase of Germany c. 1920s and early 30’s when a thug army rose up to intimidate people opposing the Nazis during their rise to power? Those interested should review the history – can it repeat itself here? The Nazis were always a minority in Germany and used street thug tactics to shut down opposition.
Also google “antifascists” – -- the response, sometimes violent, to these rallies – a relatively small group that can be confrontational. People on the left who contend that the Nazis were able to operate more freely because there was not enough of a counterforce against them. Trump’s initial statement was targeting the people who stood up against them, a false equivalency. As one who generally backs free speech, I’ve had issues with the antifascists when they try to keep speakers on campuses out --- but what happened in Charlotte called for a response – and in fact most of the demonstrators were peaceful. In Germany today a fascist rally would be illegal – you can get arrested for a Nazi salute. France too has many limits on what we would view as free speech but they view as hate speech. If we saw the new brown shirts holding torches and shouting white supremacy slogans marching in Rockaway how would we react? Sometimes I’m afraid of the answer.

Trump is for democracy – except when he isn’t. Saudi Arabia, Egypt - Si, Cuba, Venezuela Nay! Yes, we must have elections in only certain countries. It is always about the so-called left dictatorships – unless they are too big to battle. How about China? Trump bogus threat to send troops to Venezuela is just a part of our interference in the affairs of other nations. How about Regan invading Grenada to murder the elected president as recently as 35 years ago? Bay of Pigs anyone?

Ferry across the mercy – Ferry complainers, please have mercy on us. We are in only our 3rd month of a low-cost ferry, highly subsidized - real cost is over $6 a fare. Yet we hear so many beefs about small ferry boats, which work well most of the time. Imagine the costs of running bigger boats that are half empty all the time that would require even bigger subsidies? The company running the ferries have been responsive and have tried to add more runs  --- we need to see what happens in non-summer months to get a read. In January we may find these small boats are even bigger than we need for most runs.

The WAVE proclaimed a few weeks ago that B. 116th St unanimously supports de Blasio Republican opponent Nicole Malliotakis. Really? We know that de Blasio is very unpopular, especially on the west end of Rockaway. But I don’t view that report as good journalism without some facts to back it up. De Blasio blasting is certainly well-deserved but at times it goes too far. Just as in the presidential election outcomes we will find the breakdown between east and west end voting patterns will be stark and point to Rockaway as a tale of two cities. How about a report on where Mott Ave stands on Nicole Malliotakis?

Hurricane season is upon us: Climate change and deniers: People tell me there will one day be another ice age – normal cycles throughout earth history. What historical cycle had millions of cars spewing CO2 into the air?

Single payer: pushback from Democrats --- my recent articles on single payer in The WAVE should be seen in the context of gradualism. There are many ways to get there – there are quite a variety of single payer programs in Europe that differ from each other. A major issue here is losing the employer option for so many people – something that people deem so risky that some hybrid plan – ie, a public option – would be necessary.

Note from the World Bank: Cuba has the highest investment in education worldwide (13% of GNP vs USA 5.4%). Just sayin’.

Charter supporter Daniel Loeb, who is board chairman of Success Academy charter, has come under attack for comments about Democratic NY State leader Andrea Cousins in which he said the African-American had done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” Coming a few days before events in Charlottesville. Loeb is a hedge hog billionaire out to destroy the teacher union and along the way, the teaching profession and the end of pensions for teachers. Success Academy may soon be granted massive exemptions from having to hire any certified teachers by being able to have their own, private, certification programs to counter the massive turnover of their own teachers, who often leave in droves. The NY Times on August 12 had an interesting story on this split in the Democratic Party over charters: Comment on Race Reopens New York Democrats’ Split Over Schools. My blog has more on the story with an article by Matt Taibbi on Loeb’s public employee pension hijinks where Loeb makes loads of money on pension plans while supporting groups that call for an end of such plans. After all, charters don’t want to have to compete by offering pensions so let’s get rid of all pensions.

Norm has recovered from his exhausting role in RTC’s The Producers and is back blogging in force at

Noam Chomsky: Antifa is a 'major gift to the Right'

I am still ambivalent about Antifa and will be posting links to the numerous articles that contrast them to the alt-right. But I bet Steve Bannon loves Antifa. My major problem is that through some process they decide what speech is hate and act to stop it. Which means any less radical speech than theirs can be subject to attack. I've seen in local orgs here how people feel they cannot express their views when they don't agree with aspects of black lives matter or how to view police are lectured and put in an ideological corner with a dunce hat.

As for physical confrontation, Chomsky says we always know who loses --- think - police, military mostly side with the right.

Now note --- this is the Washington Examiner -- with an agenda.

Noam Chomsky: Antifa is a 'major gift to the Right'
by |

The United States was never immune to fascism. Not then, not now | David Motadel - Opinion - The Guardian

At a rally at Madison Square Garden in New York on 20 February 1939, a crowd of 20,000 listened to Kuhn attacking President Franklin D Roosevelt, referring to him as “Frank D Rosenfeld” and calling his New Deal a “Jew Deal”.
The gathering ended in violent clashes between protesters and participants. Similar riots took place on the west coast.
Obsessed with fantasies about a Jewish-Communist world conspiracy and fears about an African American corruption of American culture, its followers promoted racism, extreme nationalism, violence and the ideal of an aggressive masculinity. They competed against various other militant fringe groups, from the Khaki Shirt movement, which aimed to build a paramilitary force of army veterans to stage a coup, to the paramilitary Black Legion, feared for its assassinations, bombings and acts of arson.... America in the 1930s
It has never been more important to acknowledge the history of fascism and neo-fascism in America
.... The Guardian
Through the lens of history is how I look at all current - and future events - which we can predict to some extent by studying past tendencies - ie - look at the root of WWI - not just from the political maelstrom - but from the view of how the populace was manipulated into nationalism. Once we got in the repression was intense for those who opposed it.

Now, if you look at the 30s in this country we can see how much support Hitler had in this country and especially in England - which was why Churchill was so hated until is was almost too late.

Check out the video of the over 20,000 Hitler supporter in Madison Square Garden here in good old NYC in 1939.

If you missed the recently rebroadcast of The Roosevelts on PBS, go check it out to see what went on. Message to Jews nowadays who disparage Roosevelt as an anti-semite because he didn't sanction Jewish refugees. In that environment it was impossible.

The antifa of those days were involved in battling the fascists.

Note the links to things like - 1947 anti-fascist video made by US military to teach citizens how to avoid falling for people like Trump is relevant again.

Here is the complete article.

2003 Redux -- AFT Executive Council Supports U.S. Action to Disarm Iraq.

In 2010 in Seattle, Leo Casey motivated (probably wrote) a before-the-fact justification for US military action against Iran. The AFT may jump on-board some antiwar campaigns, after the entire political mood has shifted in that direction, but at its core it's still pro-war.
I added the above comment to this original post as an intro to the cold warriors and war hawks still running our national, state, and local union....

For decades my colleagues in a certain segment of the UFT opposition have tagged our union's support for the war machine, which is part of the Democratic Party mantra. Like you hear them talk about underfunded education but never about vastly over funded military, which chews up the budget. I once told Al Shanker at a DA in 1976 that when it came to guns or butter our union chooses guns.

Mike Antonucci is on vacation and is posting from the vault -- this one is a goodie about our union leadership's support for the war machine and the invasion of Iraq -- history they continue to try to bury. Is there a statue of Randi we can bring down?

From the Vault: January 27, 2003

AFT Executive Council Supports U.S. Action to Disarm Iraq. In a noteworthy display of contrariness, the American Federation of Teachers Executive Council passed a resolution supporting U.S. and international efforts to disarm Iraq. The AFT resolution came as something of a surprise, since there is a concerted effort among activists nationwide to promote anti-war resolutions among the public education establishment. AFT reported that the resolution passed “by an overwhelming margin,” but since most Executive Council resolutions pass unanimously, it is clear that the resolution faced some strong opposition. This most probably came from the California Federation of Teachers, which already has its own resolution in place condemning any contemplated action against Iraq and denouncing the “so-called war on terrorism.”

The AFT resolution takes several swipes at the Bush administration, but it places the onus of possible military action squarely on Iraq itself. “Through its actions and ambitions,” the resolution states, “this regime has demonstrated that it poses a unique threat to the peace and stability of the Middle East, to the peaceful world order promoted by the ideals of the United Nations and, therefore, to the national security interests of the United States.”

The resolution also notes that AFT, “along with the AFL-CIO, recognizes that the U.S. may at times have to act unilaterally in defense of its national security.” The resolution similarly concludes, “For its part, the AFT believes there can be no equivocation. The Iraqi regime must disarm. It must comply fully and completely with appropriate United Nations resolutions or face military action.”

Friday, August 18, 2017

ATR Update - DOE Will Subsidize Salaries -- Chalkbeat

The news that the DOE will subsidize - 50% in first and 25% in 2nd year is an admission that things haven't been going too well -- and we all said that the high salaries -- avg $94 thousand a year -- will keep even the best teachers in the ATR pool. There are supposedly 822 in the pool, averaging 18 years in the system. Experience, you know, doesn't count - unless you are an airline pilot - or lawyer -- or doctor - or anything except a teacher.

Maybe I missed it but I still don't see signs of direct contact with ATRs in this piece. Note how they present the info -- Two thirds of ATRs come from closed schools or budget cuts but CB emphasizes that one third are there for some disciplinary reasons with no attempt to break those numbers down --- this punches holes in the ed deformers attempt to paint ATRs as consisting of bad eggs. We know all too many people under the discipline category who were fined or brought up on some bogus issues. Let me get this clear --one third of 822 is less than 300 in a system of 100,000 personnel  -- think of all the sturm and drang over a handful of people.

They do at least point out that some people leave the ATR pool for a year or more at a time but are not permanently hired and return to the pool. They are doing regular teaching jobs. Too bad they didn't try to get the DOE to give them better numbers on this category.

Of course they have a quote from that Student First idiot Jenny Sedlis -- who supports no certification for teachers.
StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Jenny Sedlis called the move “shockingly irresponsible” in a statement. “There are reasons why no principal has chosen to hire them and this policy is bad for kids, plain and simple,” she said.
I love this closing comment which exhibits a shortage of journalistic pursuit:
27 percent — are licensed to teach in early childhood or elementary school grades. Another 11 percent are licensed social studies teachers, 9 percent are math teachers and 8 percent are English teachers. Questions have been raised in the past about whether the teachers in the pool had skills that were too narrow or out of date. A 2010 Chalkbeat story found that a quarter of teachers then in the pool were licensed to teach relatively obscure classes like swimming, jewelry-making and accounting.
Who exactly raised those questions about narrow skills? Let's do some math -- 9%-math, 8% English, 11% social studies, 27% elementary. That adds up to 55%. Almost half are high school. Are they swimming, jewelry making and accounting? What about science, teach, language teachers, vocational ed licenses, phys ed - which would include the swimming? I suggest they go back to the DOE and find out exactly how people are teaching jewelry making -- there may be a test on that soon.

NYC announces it will subsidize hiring from Absent Teacher Reserve — and sheds light on who is in the pool;postID=455938775363467224

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Success Academy's Loeb latest Insults - How About Them Schwarzes?

To be clear: racism is not just carrying a torch in Charlottesville, or writing a bigoted comment on Facebook. Racism is also the failure of those in power to hold white supremacists accountable for actions and words that harm and demean people of color.
Cuomo, Klein and Flanagan may not be carrying tiki torches, but they are implicitly endorsing racism from certain donors like Loeb who send the biggest checks.
...Loeb has previously compared teachers’ unions to the KKK, and he referred to a Prem Watsa, an insurance company CEO of Indian ancestry as a “schwarze” – a derogatory Yiddish phrase for blacks. Yet he continues to sit on the board of the Success Academy charter school network, and he is among the top political contributors to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other prominent elected officials in New York. 

..... Zakiyah Ansari,
It keeps getting worse.  Loeb called someone a "schwarze" in email.  Message to Eva and Success: Not who you want heading
Daniel Loeb Vision of UFT Meetings
your school board where 93% of the kids are kids of color. Or any school board for that matter. Word is that with the resignation of DFER head Shavar Jeffries (still a scuzball in my book) there is not one person of color on the Success main board.

More News:  

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War? --- The New Yorkker

in April, Amazon selected the dystopian novel “American War”—which centers on a second U.S. civil war—as one of its best books of the month. In a review in the Washington Post, Ron Charles wrote, “Across these scarred pages rages the clash that many of us are anxiously speculating about in the Trump era: a nation riven by irreconcilable ideologies, alienated by entrenched suspicions . . . both poignant and horrifying.” The Times book reviewer noted, “It’s a work of fiction. For the time being, anyway.”
... Robin Wright, Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?, The New Yorker
I've been waiting to read American War for months and have it on order from the library. Sometimes I think that maybe Lincoln should have let the south secede -
I have been seeing parallels between now and the 1850s --- those times are really worth studying. So I was interested to read this section:
Before Charlottesville, David Blight, a Yale historian, was already planning a conference in November on “American Disunion, Then and Now.” “Parallels and analogies are always risky, but we do have weakened institutions and not just polarized parties but parties that are risking disintegration, which is what happened in the eighteen-fifties,” he told me. “Slavery tore apart, over fifteen years, both major political parties. It destroyed the Whig Party, which was replaced by the Republican Party, and divided the Democratic Party into northern and southern parts.”
“So,” he said, “watch the parties” as an indicator of America’s health.
This is one reason I have been posting so many articles on the divisions in the Democratic Party. Some people think the left is winning (not the far left which eschews parties other than their own). Others think the center is winning -- I believe the latter -- that the left is incapable of organizing itself to take over the party. Thus I lean toward the idea that the Dems will split.  But yes, watch the parties as an indicator.

I found this point interesting:
Gregory Downs, a historian at the University of California at Davis, told me. During the Civil War, even Southern politicians who denounced or were wary of secession for years—including Jefferson Davis—ended up as leaders of the Confederacy. “If the source of conflict is deeply embedded in cultural or social forces, then politicians are not inherently able to restrain them with calls for reason,” Downs said. He called the noxious white supremacists and neo-Nazis the “messengers,” rather than the “architects,” of the Republic’s potential collapse. But, he warned, “We take our stability for granted.”
Read my last post on the Jews who will support Trump no matter how many Nazis are marching. By the way -- I have been watching The Roosevelts on PBS - must see for so much to connect to what is going on today -- from both Teddy's (1898-1918) and Franklin's key years (1910-1940's). One fact was how in 1939 - polls showed that over 90% of Protestants and over 80% of Catholics opposed taking in refugees (many Jewish) -- here's a factoid -- 25% of Jews also were opposed -- in my last post we used figures of around 30% of Jews support Trump NMW - No Matter What.

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?


Why Trump’s Jewish Backers Love the Alt-Right -- Daily Beast

Everything about this loathsome affair should have crossed a line for American Jews: the messaging, the violence, the size, and most of all the two days it took Trump to condemn “racism” specifically—although still not the alt-right itself. As one rabbinic friend of mine put it on Facebook, “Egyptians throw Jewish babies in the Nile; Pharaoh condemns violence on many sides.” As a rabbi myself, I have never felt so alienated from my own country as I did on Sunday and Monday....
And yet, none of it did cross a line. There was not a peep of remorse from Trump’s prominent Jewish supporters.
Because, in fact, there is no line. Like a proverbial frog in boiling water, it should be clear by now that almost no increase in anti-Semitsm or racism will separate these Jews from the man who encourages their most bitter enemies.
------ ,

30% of Jews are now supporting right wing views -- and they are growing as the orthodox have many more kids than secular Jews.
This article says that nothing will make these Jews waver from Trump support -- I imagine even if he walked around with a Nazi arm band.
We know family who line up this way.
This is a must read, especially for complacent Jews.

Why Trump’s Jewish Backers Love the Alt-Right

08.15.17 1:00 AM ET

The shocking mainstreaming of anti-Semitism reinforces the Jewish right’s worldview and its support of Israel’s hard-right fringe.

 Will Donald Trump’s belated condemnation of racism be enough to assuage his Jewish backers—at last count, roughly 30 percent of the American Jewish community—even though it took him two days to make it, and even though the Charlottesville march was advertised with violently anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery?Of course it will.

No amount of cognitive dissonance is too great for Trump’s Jewish backers, from high-profile ones like embattled lawyer Michael “Says Who?” Cohen to everyday Jews in the pews. Why? It’s not just Israel, although that’s a big part of it. Nor is it just about Jared and Ivanka. Nor is it blindness to the anti-Semitism and racism rampant among Trump’s hard core base.

Quite the contrary. Trump’s Jewish supporters are well aware of the alt-right, and in a perverse way, they thrive on it. The shocking mainstreaming of anti-Semitism reinforces their worldview, their political ideology, and their support of Israel’s hard-right fringe.
First, to be clear, the “Unite the Right” rally and Trump’s typical and tepid first response to it, was a watershed moment in American anti-Semitism. While the racism of KKK-supporting, Confederate flag-waving white supremacists was justifiably at the forefront of media coverage, the branding and execution of the event was explicitly anti-Semitic.

“Join Azzmador and The Daily Stormer to end Jewish influence in America,” proclaimed the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer’s advertisement of the event, accompanied by a Nazi-like figure wielding a hammer, ready to smash a Jewish star. 

At the Saturday evening march on the University of Virginia campus, tiki-torch-bearing white nationalists chanted “Jew will not replace us” interchangeably with “You will not replace us”—both familiar white nationalist slogans.

And, of course, Trump’s initial statement, condemning violence on “many sides” and refusing to call out his white nationalist supporters, was the most astonishing presidential accommodation of racism and anti-Semitism since the Wilson administration.
Everything about this loathsome affair should have crossed a line for American Jews: the messaging, the violence, the size, and most of all the two days it took Trump to condemn “racism” specifically—although still not the alt-right itself. As one rabbinic friend of mine put it on Facebook, “Egyptians throw Jewish babies in the Nile; Pharaoh condemns violence on many sides.” As a rabbi myself, I have never felt so alienated from my own country as I did on Sunday and Monday.

And yet, none of it did cross a line. There was not a peep of remorse from Trump’s prominent Jewish supporters.
Because, in fact, there is no line. Like a proverbial frog in boiling water, it should be clear by now that almost no increase in anti-Semitsm or racism will separate these Jews from the man who encourages their most bitter enemies.

To be sure, the most obvious reasons for their resilient support—Israel, Israel, and Israel—are quite salient. Some, though by no means most, Jews are indeed “Israel First” voters, and all of them are hard-right-wing. To them, supporting Israel means not coaxing Israel to the negotiating table so that it can reach a sustainable two-state solution with Palestine, but subsidizing settlements, right-wing yellow journalism, and right-wing political campaigns, all the while chanting that Americans should not tell Israel what to do.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

If you believe Trump about those beseiged Nazis and KKK by the Alt-Left -- Read this from Greg Pallast

Show this to any of your friends and family who think the alt-right were just peaceful protestors attacked by the alt-left.
A gun in his face, but he got the photo

By Greg Palast

(Charlottesville) Four neo-Nazis beat black school teacher Deandre Harris with iron bars and lumber. ©Zach D Roberts 2017

Don’t look away.  Four white neo-Nazis are beating a Black man, crawling on the ground, with their metal poles and a yellow hunk of lumber. The beating continues – there’s blood on the pavement.

Our photographer, Zach D. Roberts, continues to shoot – even as a white militant raises a 9mm pistol to his face.

Taibbi: Dan Loeb Simultaneously Solicits, Betrays Pension Funds

There's confidence. There's chutzpah. And then there's Dan Loeb, hedge fund king extraordinaire and head of Third Point Capital, who's getting set to claim the World Heavyweight Championship of Balls... Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
Matt Taibbi's take down of Loeb seems to be inspired by Loeb's comments on Andrea Cousins and his links to Eva and Success Academy - he is on their board. Taibbi cuts him up:
Dan Loeb, who isn't known as the biggest hedge-fund asshole still working on Wall Street (only because Stevie Cohen hasn't been arrested yet), is on the board and co-founder of a group called Students First New York. And the national Students First organization has been one of the leading advocates pushing for states to abandon defined benefit plans – packages which guarantee certain retirement benefits for public workers like teachers – in favor of defined contribution plans, where the benefits are not guaranteed.In other words, Loeb has been soliciting the retirement money of public workers, then turning right around and lobbying for those same workers to lose their benefits.
The NYT had an interesting piece on Saturday:
Comment on Race Reopens New York Democrats’ Split Over Schools -- 
Politicians who have long benefited from Mr. Loeb’s generosity scurried for cover and distance. And his enemies pounced.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, called on Friday for Mr. Loeb to step down from his post as chairman of Success Academy, a major charter schools network. Democratic groups in New York and beyond pushed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to return the $170,000 he had raised from Mr. Loeb and his wife over the years, including at a fund-raiser two years ago at Mr. Loeb’s Hamptons home.

The day’s events captured years of interwoven and lingering grievances that have defined Democratic politics in New York. On one side are left-leaning Democrats like Mr. de Blasio and the Assembly speaker, Carl M. Heastie, who have traditional ties to the powerful teachers union. On the other are those backed by donors who support charter schools, politicians like Mr. Cuomo and Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, the leader of the renegade Independent Democratic Conference.
Chalkbeat had links to all the articles on Loeb:
POOR POST In remarks made well before this weekend's events, Daniel Loeb, chairman of Success Academy's board, sparked outrage after writing that an African-American New York state senator had done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood." Chalkbeat, Wall Street Journal, Politico New York, New York Times, New York Daily News, Business Insider, Newsweek
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Al Sharpton both called for Loeb's resignation. New York Daily News
The New York Post's editorial board defended Loeb, arguing that his broader critique is correct, while the Daily News said he should "slink away."  New York Post, New York Daily News
Loeb gave the the maximum allowable donation to presumptive Republican mayoral nominee Nicole Malliotakis. Gotham Gazette
SPLITTING UP Democrats for Education Reform President Shavar Jeffries is no longer on the board of Success Academy, Politico reported on Monday. His departure highlights a growing divide among charter supporters about how to deal with the Trump administration. Chalkbeat, Politico
SPEAKING UP At a political rally on Monday, New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins weighed-in on racial comments by Success Academy chair Daniel Loeb. She stopped short of calling for his removal after Loeb wrote on Facebook that the senator has done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” ChalkbeatNew York Times
At the rally, pols called for Democrats to take control of the state Senate, and Comptroller Scott Stringer said he will use a $4,500 donation from Loeb in 2011 to help make that happen. New York Daily News, Observer
The entire Taibbi article below the break:

Dan Loeb Simultaneously Solicits, Betrays Pension Funds

Union leaders – don't fund your demise by investing with this hedge fund king

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Liberal Crackup - WSJ

Mark Lilla is controversial and I have some essential disagreements with the way this WSJ article is framed -- including the definition of liberalism -- political liberalism --  not the same view of economic liberalism - morphed into neo-liberalism --  freedom from govt and and open markets being the rule - capitalism run amuck. But then again they might be the same ultimately -- though classic American liberals do seem to believe in strong govt regs -- ie FDR -- but them again they might be better termed as social-democrats -- ie- Bernie -- who I believe would reject the classification as a liberal - but I will try to get into that another time. What interests me about this is that this is taking place all over the place, including behind the scenes in our own caucus, MORE.

What interests me is how he addresses "the left", the concept of liberals, and identity politics which he views as divisive. I have seen over my almost 5 decades of work in UFT caucuses just how divisive these issues can be -- in the groups in the 70s, ICE and MORE. I hope to delve into some of these local divisions in future posts --- I'm posting this and some other articles as they come up as a reference point to these future writings.

The Saturday Essay
The Liberal Crackup
By Mark Lilla
Aug. 12, 2017

Liberals should reject the divisive, zero-sum politics of identity and find their way back to a unifying vision of the common good
Donald Trump’s surprise victory in last year’s presidential election has finally energized my fellow liberals, who are networking, marching and showing up at town-hall meetings across the country. There is excited talk about winning back the White House in 2020 and maybe even the House of Representatives in the interim.
But we are way ahead of ourselves—dangerously so. For a start, the presidency just isn’t what it used to be, certainly not for Democrats. In the last generation, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama won the office with comfortable margins, but they were repeatedly stymied by assertive Republicans in Congress, a right-leaning Supreme Court and—what should be the most worrisome development for Democrats—a steadily growing majority of state governments in Republican hands.