Monday, August 3, 2020

Cuomo Unleashed: Is New York Going Back to the 1970s? Commentary on Budget and Pandemic

Norm here - my usual optimistic self - Aug. 3, 2020 --
(Holy Crap - it's August - time to get out the winter clothes.)

With the issue of going back to school at the top of the heap, the budget crisis has dropped to 2nd or 3rd place. Ross Barkan's important commentary (in yellow) on Cuomo and the budget caught my eye and is an interesting read () --  my comments in black):
Last week, NY1 reported that Cuomo had quietly nominated three close allies to the Financial Control Board.....
The FCB  took over our finances in the 70s for a decade and dictated cuts that keeps politicians out of it--- that keeps De Blasio out of it so whatever
deals with the UFT would be off.
Cuomo is currently laying the trap for severe cuts in the coming months, tying all the state’s hopes of salvation to federal aid. It’s a deeply cynical ploy; like the 1970s, there is a Republican administration in Washington hostile to New York.... 
Oh boy is he. I bet charters get their dough. Can he cut AND support the safety measures needed to open schools? I'm betting not. He won't risk taking NY backwards on the virus - he's making his political bones on not letting the monster back in.

I can imagine some day care system but risk opening schools?

But if teachers get their wish and he doesn't open schools - taking away the argument for more personnel to run safe schools - watch the ax come down hard. At the end of the pandemic, with people leaving the city and others the public schools and finding alternatives to day care  --- well I would bet on lots of those small schools disappearing or getting consolidated. The idea of 1800 schools has always been ridiculous. All those principals retiring? No problem -- cut to 1000 schools.

(Could they try to split people by offering some bonuses to teachers who volunteer to go in? Or that some teachers will take it? Don't be shocked at anything.)
A reasonable executive, in the interim, would seek to keep New York afloat without resorting to self-destructive austerity measures. But that does not describe Andrew Cuomo. His budget director, former State Senate Republican staffer Robert Mujica, is effectively the most powerful man in the state outside of Cuomo, tasked with detailing whatever deep cuts to localities the governor deems fit. It’s only a matter of time, after Republicans snub New York, that Mujica begins telling the state legislature how much public school, hospital, transportation, and social service aid will disappear. Thanks to new powers won when the state budget was passed in April, Cuomo is permitted to make rolling cuts throughout 2020 as revenue dries up.
I'm back.
Back in May I wrote about the 1975 financial crisis and its impact over a decade or more with a particular emphasis on how public education suffered an overwhelming hit with 13,000 layoffs even after a teacher strike despite the Taylor Law (we all paid two for one fines and technically lost tenure for a year). The Coming Crisis to NYC Education - 1975 to 2020 - Part 3 This is not the best of times - What Will Be Won't Be - Part 3
My focus at that time was on the economic impact rather than on the pandemic impact. Now that issue in a potential strike has taken precedence over budget cuts (though they go together) with teachers around the nation talking strike if they are forced to go in under unsafe conditions.

I wrote about that the other day:
Is the National Day of Action for Safe Schools (Aug. 3) a Precursor to a Nationwide Teacher Strike?

James touches on the strike issue on the 

While the back to school story plays out daily with teachers and many parents making it clear they do not want to go back into schools and everyone giving the blended learning idea an F, lots of other issues get put on the table that have long term negative impact on public ed.
  • Parents forming private pods outside the public schools -- home schooling on steroids.

  • The idea being argued by some teachers that Zoom type learning can really work -- that's like sending a message that ultimately we are non-essential and giving distance learning a big boost - and remember, if they can do this without school buildings they can save enormous money - and maybe pay fewer teachers a lot of money to take on bigger loads. (Reminds me of my idea years ago to use Yankee Stadium and the jumbo scoreboard and have Class sizes of 50,000.)
Now, things are somewhat different with the left winning so many seats in the state legislature. Ross comments: will up to the emboldened left in New York to mobilize against Cuomo’s worst intentions and resist another replay of 1970s neoliberalism. Cuomo is more committed to the program than Carey ever was, and the competence of those around him—Cuomo aides are rewarded far more for sycophancy than any native ability—is much more questionable. 
Is there a resurgent left in the UFT? Or will Mulgrew get a message of militancy that goes beyond rhetoric? James feels he is feeling the pressure and moving away from support for the de Blasio/ Caranza plan. A key issue is lack of trust of the DOE and the UFT leaders by many members. Mulgrew could capture the moment if he has the chops. I'm not confident he does.

I have lots more to say ---- so come back soon - or subscribe to this blog (upper left hand corner) and get updates every time I upchuck an article.

Read Ross below:

Is New York Going Back to the 1970s?

Nearly a half century later, there are disturbing echoes of a decade that almost doomed New York City. But there are real differences too.

Teachers, Parents, Students to Rally Outside Tweed and UFT HQ to Protest Unsafe School Reopening

Good morning,

I thought you would be interested in this rally and march led by school staff, parents and students, happening today at 5 pm outside UFT headquarters and Tweed DOE offices. This is part of a national day of action against unsafe, unfunded school reopening. In addition to MORE, 20 additional groups are joining and we expect a big turnout.

Please let me know if you have any questions,


Press Contacts:
Liat Olenick

Teachers, Parents, Students to Rally Outside Tweed and UFT HQ to Protest Unsafe School Reopening 

New York, New York:  Today, the MORE-UFT Caucus as well as parents, students and advocacy organizations including the Alliance for Quality Education, Rise and Resist and Coalition for Educational Justice will join school communities taking action across the country to march and rally to push back against the insufficient, unsafe, underfunded hybrid reopening plan being put forth by the UFT, the Chancellor and the Mayor. Those who cannot join the rally and march in person will be taking action from home to prevent an unsafe reopening. 

“The science is clear. COVID is airborne indoors, especially in poorly ventilated, crowded classrooms Here in New York City, more than 20,000 people have already died from COVID-- mostly Black and Latinx New Yorkers. Returning to school buildings while COVID continues to spread across the country will put more Black and Latinx New Yorkers at even greater risk,” said teacher Andrew Worthington. “ We demand no new cases for 14 days, all health and safety measures implemented including consistent rapid testing, contact tracing, safe public transit and community input.”
‘Our schools were underfunded before COVID hit. Now they face new budget cuts because the Governor refuses to tax the rich, and the Mayor refused to substantially divest from the NYPD. In order to reopen safely we need more funding for teachers, nurses, social workers, counselors and supplies and New Yorkers need financial relief,” said Tajh Sutton, CEC14 President and Teens Take Charge Program Manager. “Forcing school buildings to reopen without additional funding will put staff in the untenable position of having to enforce high stakes public health guidelines without adequate resources which could further put our Black and Brown students at risk of being criminalized.” 

“The DOE, the Mayor and the Governor have consistently left parents, teachers and students out of decisions about reopening. They have refused to consider our creative ideas, hear our feedback on remote learning or transparently answer basic questions,” said Marilena Marchetti. “We demand that stakeholders are fully empowered and included in planning for both school reopening and for equitable remote learning that includes opportunities for outdoor learning and therapeutic service delivery for prioritized student populations.” 

What: March and rally to stop and unsafe school reopening as part of a national day of action. 
When: Monday, August 3rd, 5:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m. 
Where: The March will start at UFT Headquarters at 52 Broadway and end at DOE offices at Tweed Courthouse. 
Who: Movement of Rank & File Educators(MORE-UFT), Parents Supporting Parents NY, PoliFem, DC 37 Progressive Caucus, Justice Center en el Barrio, Rise and Resist, Revolting Lesbians, Alliance for Quality Education NYC, Ya-Ya Network, Black Lives Matter School Week of Action NYC, A Call to Action on Puerto Rico, Workers World Party, New York Boricua Resistance, Peoples Power Assemblies NYC, NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, BATALA, Young People of Color Incorporated, Freedom For all, Dynamic Therapy Intervention, NYC Democratic Socialists of America 23. Party for Socialism and Liberation, Community Education Council 14



Sunday, August 2, 2020

NYCDOE Covid School Safety Model

Created by Darren Marelli an old pal from the Grassroots education Movement days - and major player on the film
Another brilliant piece of work.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Is the National Day of Action for Safe Schools (Aug. 3) a Precursor to a Nationwide Teacher Strike?

Several of the nation’s most vocal teachers unions, including those in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Milwaukee are planning to join a national “day of resistance” on Aug. 3,

There is so much going on around the schools reopening issue and the potential budget cuts to education, I have avoided writing because every time I try, more stuff keeps coming in. So let me chop things up into a bunch of blogs over the next week, as the stories keep changing every hour.

First up is a very interesting event coming next Monday taking place simultaneously around the nation. Check out the web site:

One of the key groups behind this is a fairly new national educators organization (Dec. 2018) initially based in the red states where the red state teacher rebellions took place: National Educators Union (NEU) - which you can check in with on Facebook - they have fabulous zoom events on many issues. I spoke to one of the leaders and asked how they differ from Labor Notes' sponsored UCORE (of which MORE is a member) and was told they are not focused on internal union struggles and the creation of caucuses - something I've come to agree with, but more on that another time.

They have been forming local car caravans and all kinds of other events and have toolkits to assist in organizing. The original hotbed seems to be Arizona.

Here is a sample recent post:
What if your district has done the right thing and is going remote for 1st quarter or longer? How can we support August 3rd in regards to safety?
Here is a brilliant idea from an amazing organizer in Arizona which puts a new twist on an old labor slogan- an injury to one is an injury to all. If one district is safe, what about the ones next door? We are only as safe as the school next door. Here is a sample post- we have some districts making "safe" decisions and some that are not: We are only as safe as the students, educators & schools next door. Our communities live, love, work together intertwined. We are each other's neighbors, family, coworkers. If a student in Laveen, a teacher in Wilson, or a family in Vail are not safe- then I am not safe. I stand with my fellow educators across AZ and the country.
#onlywhenitssafe #istandwitheducators
They are in many states and keep growing and will be a big pressure point on the two national unions. Randi's recent claim the AFT will support teacher strikes over safety I believe is a response of sorts to this pressure. 
Here is a recent car caravan event:

One event I know of here is being sponsored by MORE - a march from the UFT at 52 to Tweed where a rally will take place. I would actually go - if I didn't want to risk dying from taking public transportation.

I will be back with more postings on what is going on soon including discussing the possibility of a strike here in NYC which I speculated about back in April when I compared our situation to the 1975 strike in April.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Kamala Harris as VP Will Cause Biden Harm - watch the polls and see if they drop if she is picked

Krystal and Saagar on Rising today pointed to some proof that Harris is the one and also point out that she brings nothing to the table - actually less than nothing.
  • She failed miserably on her presidential campaign, not even registering with black voters. It was disorganized and chaotic - just what we need. And she was far behind Bernie Sanders in her own state. She won't bring Biden any more black votes, so why pick her?
  • Here history on crime is not positive and along the lines of Amy Klobuchar who was knocked out by her record. They have a clip with Tulsi Gabbord taking her apart on her record.
  • They also point out her cozy relationship with Silicon Valley.
  • She is one of the phoniest politicians I've seen - which is saying a lot.
  • I personally find her phony and offensive. (Okay, they didn't include my opinion.) I would support just about any woman of color over her. Given I vote in New York I am actually considering casting my vote elsewhere if she is the choice to keep me from getting nauseous.
Watch the clip and weep.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Hedge Fund Republican donors (Blackstone Steve Schwartzman) charged in Corruption in pensions in Kentucky exposed - David Sirota

In a landmark case with potentially global implications, Kentucky’s newly elected Republican attorney general is targeting some of the world’s largest financial firms in a new lawsuit alleging that teachers, firefighters, and other government workers have been systematically bilked by Wall Street’s rampant fraud and self-dealing, which has created a massive financial crisis in the state.
Flying on private jets charging the state pensions and forcing then into high risk - charged pensions millions  -- pushed them into worst performing hedge fund. an extraordinary move on Monday, Kentucky’s GOP Attorney General Daniel Cameron intervened to sue on behalf of the state government — a maneuver that likely renders the standing issue moot. The suit alleges that the firms misled the state into funneling retirees’ money into investments that were “secretive, opaque, illiquid, impossible to properly monitor or accurately value, high-fee, high-risk gambles with no historical record of performance.” The suit asserts that these were “absolutely unsuitable investments for a pension fund in the particular situation [Kentucky] was in, and violated the applicable laws, codes and standards.”
Are pensions safe? Not in Kentucky. Rising did a segment - ( is really not that surprising given the corporate and political crooks running the game. They based their reporting on work done by David Sirota in Jacobin.

Kentucky has a democratic governor due to teacher pension fund crisis -- teacher revolt in that state fueled by attempts to cut pension.

But here is the VERRRRY INTERESTING development - the suit has been joined by the newly elected REPUBLICAN Attorney General - the first black to be elected statewide - who is a Mitch McConnel protege.  Holy guacamole.
The new suit from Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office also specifically targets Stephen Schwarzman — a Republican billionaire who is one of the largest financial supporters of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump’s political machine. Schwarzman has donated $10 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with McConnell, and $3 million to America First Action, a super PAC backing Trump, this election cycle.
As TMI previously reported, the US Supreme Court recently blocked workers and retirees from suing these kind of firms because the high court said they did not have legal standing. A Kentucky court then quickly cited that ruling to short-circuit retirees’ case against Wall Street giants Blackstone and KKR, which said the firms’ investment schemes had fleeced the state pension system.
KKR Blackstone - Steve Schwartzman, George Robert, Henry Kravis
faulty/risky investments that tanked retirement fund. Are any of these characters involved in our pension funds?
If the case moves forward, it could tear open the veil of secrecy surrounding the private equity and hedge fund industries, which control hundreds of billions of dollars of retirement funds across the world.
Adding to the precedent-setting nature of the case is the fact that the suit is now coming from a law enforcement office controlled by a Republican Party traditionally considered friendly to Wall Street.
Fissures in the Party:
Rising pointed out that Schwarzma is one of most objectionable Rep donors bought and paid for by Chinese govt - foster economic ties to China -- so totally at odds with Trump - at least on the surface - which is why I doubt just how committed Trump is to his own China policy - follow the money.

President Donald Trump at a policy forum in 2017 with business leaders chaired by Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Here's the entire Jacobin piece.

A Huge Wall Street Scandal Just Exploded In Kentucky

GOP law enforcement officials are targeting Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire who bankrolls Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump’s political machine. The lawsuit breaks open a major financial scandal that threatens the world’s largest private equity firms — with global implications.
In a landmark case with potentially global implications, Kentucky’s newly elected Republican attorney general is targeting some of the world’s largest financial firms in a new lawsuit alleging that teachers, firefighters, and other government workers have been systematically bilked by Wall Street’s rampant fraud and self-dealing, which has created a massive financial crisis in the state.
But in an extraordinary move on Monday, Kentucky’s GOP Attorney General Daniel Cameron intervened to sue on behalf of the state government — a maneuver that likely renders the standing issue moot. The suit alleges that the firms misled the state into funneling retirees’ money into investments that were “secretive, opaque, illiquid, impossible to properly monitor or accurately value, high-fee, high-risk gambles with no historical record of performance.” The suit asserts that these were “absolutely unsuitable investments for a pension fund in the particular situation [Kentucky] was in, and violated the applicable laws, codes and standards.”

“It’s surprising the Attorney General’s office would pursue a case that has already been dismissed by the Kentucky Supreme Court,” said Blackstone spokesperson Matthew Anderson in an emailed statement. “As we’ve demonstrated repeatedly, these claims have absolutely no merit. We delivered more than $150 million in net profits to Kentucky pensioners – and exceeded by nearly three times the benchmark set by KRS itself.”
If the case moves forward, it could tear open the veil of secrecy surrounding the private equity and hedge fund industries, which control hundreds of billions of dollars of retirement funds across the world.
Adding to the precedent-setting nature of the case is the fact that the suit is now coming from a law enforcement office controlled by a Republican Party traditionally considered friendly to Wall Street.
Cameron’s complaint echoes the earlier case’s allegations that Blackstone and KKR unduly profited off a scheme to bilk the state pension system. The attorney general’s suit additionally alleges that Schwarzman and KKR principals Henry Kravis and George Roberts have personally enriched themselves through the schemes.
The attorney general’s office alleges:
Privately owned jet planes of Kravis and Roberts in the case of KKR/Prisma and Schwarzman in the case of Blackstone were used by their respective companies to fly their agents to Kentucky, for which the companies were charged and for which Kravis, Roberts and Schwarzman were reimbursed, in amounts, on information and belief, often in excess of $5 million per year. Thus each of Kravis, Roberts and Schwarzman personally profited from Kentucky business….
Kravis and Roberts were the responsible corporate officers for the selection, oversight, supervision and training of the top officers and personnel of KKR who were involved in the day-to-day dealings with [the Kentucky Retirement System] during the relevant time period. They use their control of KKR to require it rent corporate jets they own, which provides them millions of dollars each year and special tax breaks….
Schwarzman was the responsible corporate officer for the selection, oversight, supervision and training of the top officers and personnel of Blackstone other than himself who were involved in the day-to-day dealings with KRS during the relevant time period. Schwarzman uses his control of Blackstone to require it to rent corporate jets he owns and pay him millions of dollars each year providing him tax benefits. Blackstone is in truth and fact the personally controlled instrumentally and alter ego of Schwarzman.
Read the entire complaint from the Kentucky attorney general here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Michael Brooks Death Impact on the Left (a certain segment) - Rest in Power

Michael Brooks, a left light, died the other day at 37. What a sad day for the left and the progressive movement. I only became a fan a few months ago and his was my favorite podcast. I saw the tweet by Krystal Ball another of my faves. I recommend going to The Michael Brooks Show archives and checking it out.

Krystal Ball from Rising did a broken hearted tribute to Michael:

This past Saturday I discovered his Jacbin you tube show with Ana Kasparian from the young turks, an excellent interview with Vivek Chibber illuminating so many issues surrounding the left. I’m going to have to watch
it again and take notes because he echoed so much about my own experiences with the type of leftists he describes.

If you are interested in the problems and differences of the left, which we saw all too well inside the internal struggle in MORE between the now purged ICEUFT wing and the ISO(now disbanded) controlled alliance check out this video

where they dissect the identity/class/cancel culture (ICE was cancelled) debate which was really the essence of the disagreement in MORE - which I will delve into much more deeply at some point because all politics are local. In fact I learned so much over the 8 years or so I was involved with these issues inside MORE. I was turned on to Brooks and Sam Seder by Erik Mears who I met through MORE - a dynamic guy with great politics.

The Majority Report had a 4 hour tribute to Michael on Tuesday

7/21 Remembering Michael Brooks (1983 – 2020)

They interview Michael's bereft sister Lisha Brooks (she revealed he had a blood clot in his throat -- blood clots are happening to young people due to Covid issues though there is no proven connection yet) who promised to continue his work. In her last conversation with him Sunday night he expressed his increasing understanding of the problems with cancel culture and identity politics which he and Ana and Chibbeck went into in detail. (I will do a separate blog in more detail.

Here is the Jacobin tributes: Bhaskar Sunkara

Michael Brooks Was My Absolute Political Inspiration

I also think that if he had lived he would have been our Steve Bannon - who is a great strategist despite his politics.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Sign the Petition In Support of Full Remote-Learning to Begin the 2020 School Year

Already 3500 have signed in less than a day. Push it higher. A NYC teacher sent this:
Hey Norm! My colleague and I wrote this petition to ask to begin the school year as full remote learning here in NYC. We believe if we can get enough people to sign this, show support and get this moving, we will be able to influence the current dangerous trajectory that our city may be placed on. I am not sure where you all stand on the issue, but I hope you will at least read it and consider signing and sharing with your followers if you agree. If you have specific concerns that I can answer or talk out with you, please do tell me and we can discuss. You are able to sign anonymously, but more names = more legitimacy. Please share this with any teachers, parents, students, or community members you believe might support the issue. Thank you so much!

 Coming soon: A national day of action by teachers and supporters.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Do Black Lives Matter Too? Not as much wnen looking through the lens of infant mortality and maternal deaths

The latest figures from the C.D.C. indicate that for Black women, the maternal mortality rate is 37.1 deaths per 100,000 live births. It’s less than half that, 14.7, for white women and less than one-third that, 11.8, for Hispanic women. Black women make up about 13 percent of the female population but account for nearly 40 percent of maternal deaths.... NYT
Black Lives Matter is not just about policing and the emphasis on that aspect makes the issue more political than it need be. I know white people who are insulted by BLM - doesn't my life matter too? Of course. But the point of BLM is that black lives have not mattered as much as white lives throughout our history -- I would call it BLM - Too. What is being asked is that they matter as much, which clearly they don't. So let's focus here on a recent article in the NYT on health care and infant and maternal mortality where black lives clearly don't matter as much. Just look at the impact of the virus on so many Black people. I can't locate the links but I read some awful stories about young even middle class black women who died in child birth partly because the doctors didn't believe their complaints during pregnancy. I believe one case was at Montefiore hospital in the Bronx.
The racial differences in maternal mortality are paralleled in racial differences in infant mortality. At 11.4 per 1,000 live births, the Black infant mortality rate is more than twice that of the white infant mortality rate, 4.9.
The police issue is complex. Do we think that in crime-ridden areas of the city black people do not want any police? What they do want is some level of respect. Just this morning I saw on Sunday morning CBS a story about Louis Gossett Jr who told a terrifying story about going to LA for a film in 1966 and being stopped by cops twice and cuffed to a tree for 3 hours. He said that affected him for the rest of his life. Or Republican senator Tim Scott laughing out loud when asked if he's been stopped  -- I think he said 6 times in the past year.

White people who support police must also understand that if things were reversed and they and their kids were stopped often due to their own skin color they would be livid. Here's the link to the NYT article which is also included below.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.”*