Sunday, January 31, 2021

Today 8 PM Zoom - Get Our Damn School System Out of the Hands of Incompetent and clueless Mayors Once and for all

Almost 20 years under the mayoral dictatorships of Bloomberg and de Blasio. It's time to put an end to it. School governance starts at the top but ends with someone in your school looking over your shoulder. Get a piece of the action.

Daniel has assembled a great cast for this event and there's only room for a few more - but it will be streamed live on FB too - but the Zoom is so much more fun. Register here:

So many old friends from years of struggle against Bloomberg: Sam, Vern, Leonie, Bonita and some newer friends from more recent battles: Kaliris, Queen, Kim and maybe some surprises.

Leonie on her blog

The deep flaws and persistent problems with Mayoral control are even more evident to many people, given the de Blasio’s push to have the Pearson contract for the gifted test approved, and when it failed last night at the PEP, even among many of his own appointees, his insistence to continue this controversial program anyway.  Teachers of NYC are sponsoring a discussion of what alternative governance system would be best on Sunday at 8 PM.

We continue our collective journey to build a coalition of community right-holders to Reimagine Our City Schools.


You won't want to miss this ... #ourcityschools #endmayoralcontrol #cancelthemayor

Friday, January 29, 2021

WTF: NY Mag Jonathan Chait, Axios Equate Marjorie Taylor Greene with AOC

Is the lunatic fringe really the Dem party central crowd? Let me get this straight.

Are Mainstream Dems part of lunatic fringe?

State run health care (which exists in almost every industrial society and defunding the police) is like saying California wildfires were set by a Jewish space laser? Who's more nuts, Jonathan Chait or Marjorie Taylor Greene?  And Axios which is connected to MSNBC is not too far off.

Many people on the left have maintained that there is more consernation in the Dem Party and media supporters by the Bernie wing than by the right wing. Slandering the left with false equivalencies is part of their campaign. This one is hard to believe and Chait should take some serious lumps:

The leading Democratic mischief-maker is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who advocates some left-wing views I consider simplistic and impractical and, in some cases, poll badly. The top example of a conservative mischief-maker, presented in perfect symmetry, is Marjorie Taylor Greene..... Anyway, it is true that Marjorie Taylor Greene and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez play equivalent roles within their respective parties. MTG holds down her party’s right flank, and AOC holds down her party’s left flank. You can somewhat deduce the corresponding beliefs of the two parties’ mainstream contingents by moving somewhat to the center of each. Most Democrats are skeptical of defunding the police and question the feasibility of transitioning to a state-run health-care system. Most Republicans are probably quite skeptical that the California wildfires were intentionally set by a Jewish space laser.... Jonathan Chait, NY Mag.

Equating the lunatics in the Republican Party who seem to have captured the party with the small left wing of the Democratic Party who have been margianized is pretty much over the top and a direct hit on the left by the supporters of Dem Central in the media. Here NY Mag and Axios take their shots. 

The national interest

GOP Congresswoman Blamed Wildfires on Secret Jewish Space Laser

Axios has a small squib about “The Mischief Makers,” a handful of idiosyncratic congressional backbenchers who make trouble for their respective party leadership. The leading Democratic mischief-maker is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who advocates some left-wing views I consider simplistic and impractical and, in some cases, poll badly. The top example of a conservative mischief-maker, presented in perfect symmetry, is Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Greene’s views are just a bit more controversial. They include, but are by no means limited to, the following:

• The QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that Donald Trump is secretly fighting a worldwide child-sex-slavery ring that was supposed to culminate in the mass arrest of his political opposition, is “worth listening to.”

• Muslims don’t belong in government.

• 9/11 was an inside job.

• Shootings at Parkland, Sandy Hook, and Las Vegas were staged.

• “Zionist supremacists” are secretly masterminding Muslim immigration to Europe in a scheme to outbreed white people.

• Leading Democratic officials should be executed.

The most recent Greene view to be unearthed comes via Eric Hananoki. Just over two years ago, Greene suggested in a Facebook post that wildfires in California were not natural. Forests don’t just catch fire, you know. Rather, the blazes had been started by PG&E, in conjunction with the Rothschilds, using a space laser, in order to clear room for a high-speed rail project. Here is Greene’s entire post, via Media Matters:

The Rothschild family has featured heavily in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories since at least the 19th century. Anti-Semites have generally updated the theory by replacing the Rothschilds with George Soros, a more contemporary and plausible-seeming mastermind for a global conspiracy to spread left-wing ideology. Greene’s version has instead updated the theory by giving the Rothschilds possession of a secret, powerful space laser.

Now, you might wonder why, if an international cabal of Jewish bankers wanted to finance a rail project, they would go about it by using their space lasers to set a catastrophic blaze. Aren’t there easier ways to get your rail stations approved by the state legislature? If you can pull off a massive conspiracy like that and keep it quiet, and you have a space laser you can use to immolate basically any target on Earth, there have to be more direct profit-making opportunities than burning down trees in order to arbitrage the land value for a public-transit contract.

You’re probably not going to get Greene’s answer, though, because the last news crew that showed up at one of her events was threatened with arrest by the local sheriff.

Anyway, it is true that Marjorie Taylor Greene and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez play equivalent roles within their respective parties. MTG holds down her party’s right flank, and AOC holds down her party’s left flank. You can somewhat deduce the corresponding beliefs of the two parties’ mainstream contingents by moving somewhat to the center of each. Most Democrats are skeptical of defunding the police and question the feasibility of transitioning to a state-run health-care system. Most Republicans are probably quite skeptical that the California wildfires were intentionally set by a Jewish space laser.

The thing is, you can be much more moderate than MTG, and still be extremely crazy.

The Mischief Makers

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

Axios spoke with a number of congressional sources about whom they find to be the most unpredictable and headache-inducing. Here's what they said:

  • Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia): The freshman has promoted a series of QAnon-adjacent conspiracy theories rivaling former Rep. Steve King's talk of white supremacy.
  • Matt Gaetz (Florida): Actively campaigning against GOP Caucus chair Liz Cheney, and unafraid of undermining House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
  • Thomas Massie (Kentucky): He made a lot of enemies by repeatedly objecting to coronavirus relief legislation and forcing members to travel back to Washington amid the pandemic to deal with his dissension.
  • Louie Gohmert (Texas): He doesn't have much influence, but his antics — such suing Vice President Mike Pence in federal court as part of a bizarre and futile bid to force him to discard President Biden's electors — have generated heartburn for leadership.
  • Mo Brooks (Alabama): True troublemaker. Led the push to oppose certifying President Biden's victory.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) and the other members of “The Squad”: Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), Rashida Tlaib (Michigan) and Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts): They have broken with leadership on crucial votes in their collective effort to shift the Democratic Party leftward.
  • Jamaal Bowman (New York): "The Squad" bolstered its standing by expanding its team with freshmen who had replaced veteran lawmakers. Bowman joined the others in voting against a waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as Defense secretary.
  • Cori Bush (Missouri): She pushed back against the highest-profile Democrat, former President Barack Obama, after he dismissed "defund-the-police" as a slogan.

Be smart: “The Squad” is an obvious target considering their history in the Democratic caucus, but some members of the cohort with military and intelligence backgrounds also have shown they’ll buck leadership.

  • Jared Golden (Maine): He is one of two Democrats who voted against re-electing House Speaker Pelosi this month. He said it was time for new leaders “if leadership has not been delivering the results that you think are critical to the future of the country.”
  • Conor Lamb (Pennsylvania): He joined Golden in voting against Pelosi for speaker for the second time since she reclaimed the position in 2019.

What they're saying: “As the speaker frequently says, ‘Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power,'" Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hamill told Axios. "This rudimentary media exercise is not a way to understand how the House Democratic caucus operates, or how our members will come together to get the job done for the American people."


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Inaugurations Then and Now: Memories of 2017, 1973, 1961

Massive demos at Nixon 1973 inauguration. I was there but had stepped away to get coffee and just as the guy handed it to me a massive chorus of boos went up as Nixon's car passed by - my friend Lew and I ran out and saw the car heading down the street - we managed a few weak boos, went back to the train and headed back to NY.
Jan. 20, 2021

When you think of it,  every Democratic President from the 20th century to the present has had some tragic elements, with FDR considered the best and most successful, though that too ended in his death. Wilson was fundamentally incapacitated in his final years, LBJ - tragic war, JFK - nuff said, Carter - well - I actually liked him and still do, Clinton, Obama - neo-liberalism reigned and they led to Trump. Well,, Republicans haven't been to great either - Nixon, Reagan ended with Alzeimers, Bush 1 and Bush 2 and Trump. Even back to Teddy - following McKinley assassination - ended up starting a third party in 1912 to defeat his former protege, Taft. They all give me the woolies.

Four years ago we marched with women all over the nation in protest - people were mad but they didn't storm national monuments. I was reminded of four years ago on January 19th with a photo reminder from Facebook of a big anti-Trump rally at his hotel near Columbus Circle a few days before the inauguration on Jan. 19, 2017. That and the massive women's marches a few days later on Jan. 20 were intense but even with all the warning signs I don't think people thought it would turn out even worse than they thought. So much is being written about today I'm going to leave it to others like Patrick at 

Raginghorseblog who has been inspired by recent events to return to blogging

Good Riddance to the Sickness that Is Trump

He other recent piece is

But I wanted to touch on a few other memorable inauguration days I experienced.

The first and most memorable was JFK in 1961. I was 15, a high school junior, and his election was the first time I and many other  young people got interested in

politics. We were bummed we would miss the event  due to school but glory be there was a big snowstorm and we had a snow day after the night before.

Summary of the January 18 - 20th 1961 Nor'easter. › rlx › jan61

January 18- 20 1961. This storm is dubbed the "Kennedy Inaugural Snowstorm" since it occurred on the eve of John F Kennedy's Presidential Inauguration in ...
But the 20th was bright and sunny and very cold. The sun in Washington was also very strong but also very cold and Kennedy stood up straight and strong.
Of course the dream ended less than four years later with the soul crushing assassination. I don't have the heart to do it but juxtapose a photo of the glorious Kennedy at the lectern with the funeral and it still breaks the heart of the nation.

And sort of started us on a road that leads to today. Only 12 years later, I had been somewhat radicalized and Nixon was being inaugurated for his second term. And numbers of people decided to head down to Washington to protest - to throw him a big BOO as his motorcade rode past. Trains were booked but my friend and political mentor Lew Friedman and I secured seats early in the morning and we got there before noon. Crowds were intense - both pro and con - but I don't remember any friction. It as so damn cold and we were standing there for hours waiting for Nixon to go by. We finally decided to jump into a coffee shop on the corner to get some cocoa. Just as the guy handed us our drinks we heard a massive chorus of boos. We ran out to catch a glimpse of Nixon's car halfway down the block. We managed a few loud boos and headed for the train back to NYC. In almost no time Nixon was gone after resigning.

Is my interest in inaugurations bad luck for whatever president? Clinton? Not so great. Obama? Not exactly much of a success. Trump? Even though he won the election bigly - if you subtract the votes of black and liberals and Democrats - he didn't end up too well. So my record is intact and I tried not to pay deep attention to Biden inauguration because I don't want to bring him bad luck.
 Here are some pics of the 2017 events to remind you of the beginning of the bad dream.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Putting Those 80% Pro-Trump Numbers context - They are far from a majority as his overall approval rating drops to 29%

On December 17, 2020, Gallup polling found that 31% of Americans identified as Democrats, 25% identified as Republican, and 41% as Independent.

I know people are left scratching their heads over the poll numbers that show Trump retaining the support of 70-80% of Republicans even after Jan. 6. The impression is scary - that so many people are perfectly willing to support what happened. And it is scary but I'm trying to square those numbers with Trumps major drop in overall approval ratings from the mid-40s at election day to under 30% today. So let's dig down a bit.

Start with the 75 million who voted for Trump - still not a majority given Biden's 80 million. That's a scary number and most say they would vote for him again. But 75 million in a nation of 350 million is still a minority.

We can see that Republicans are not a majority - there are more Democrats and independents. So let's start with the 25% and then take 75% of that as support for Trump today. Roughly 20% of the population. Throw in some marginal support from some (weird) Dems and a bigger chunk of independents and you get to the roughly 30% of the population that still supports him - scary numbers for sure, and far from a fringe.

Now if Biden doesn't end up eating children from that pedophilia ring in the basement of the pizza parlor, a few of these people might come over from the qanon edge, though expect them to keep up the drumbeat. Some reality might seep through.

I think Dems should take the lies about election fraud to a serious level and actually do a breakdown of the charges and do public hearings to refute all of them. The true believers won't believe it but a portion might and chipping away at that base is crucial.

I also don't get the resistance to showing ID when you vote. I get the problems in that some people may not have an ID - so let's get everyone some ID. We need ID for so many things, why not take away their arguments for future elections? 

I'd urge another important move. Start organizing like they did in Georgia in every state with emphasis on battleground states. I bet North Carolina could have been won with such an organizing effort. And maybe Florida too. Ohio could be brought back in play. 

How is West Virginia with so many poor one of the strongest Trump states? I would say because the Dems screwed them over the past 40 years.

This won't happen unless the Dems move away from centrist neo-liberalism privatization - watch where they come out on schools - and don't be fooled by the "public charter" moniker - charters are privatization. Thus, Biden's claim he opposes private charters is bogus and cover for supporting them, along with the partners of privatizing using the testing regime.

And the same goes for healthcare which is mostly privatized, a major reason for the pandemic and vaccination chaos. If Dems make no moves to reverse this -- Obamacare is still orivatized medicine - start worrying about the 2022 midterms when Republicans can win the House and Senate - and immediatly impeach Biden for picking his nose in public.

Oh, and unions, unions, unions. Their fundamental demise has been a major - if not THE major - factor in the growth of the Trumpism. So a key element for Dems is to push back against their anti-union corporate wing and push major support for unions that cannot be undone. And do it in the first two years. Believe me this will get them further than fighting unwinnable battles to make Washington DC a state.

Fight battle that are winnable.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Reichstag Fire, USA - A few Words on a generally quiet day--- January 6, 2021

The Capitol Police have a $460 million budget and 2,300 personnel to guard the U.S. Capitol complex. For comparison, that is twice the size of the budget of my own city’s police department, which is used to secure an entire metropolis. Somehow, this army of Capitol security forces was unable — or unwilling — to stop insurrectionists from breaching the building and taking over the floor of the U.S. Senate. And it’s not like they were caught by surprise — they had advance warning of the potential for unrest. So it’s almost as if they weren’t trying to stop the mayhem.... David Sirota

Coup, Schmoo. Welcome to the New Year. We were so waiting for 2020 to end and a calm 2021 to begin. Did I oversleep and miss something? I'm packing my bags and heading to a real democracy, my mom's native country, Belarus. 

This didn't quite make it to the Reichstag fire level.

Is there anyone who questions that Trump made sure not to call out the national guard for hours while the mob ransacked Congress. They were doing what he wanted - to stop the Biden certification. If they destroyed the place maybe Biden would never get that final vote by Jan. 20 and he could remain president. Pence had to actually intervene.

I'm reading Ruth Ben-Ghiat's new book "Strongmen" and also a recent Hitler bio and what happened today is in the playbook. They had the wherewithal to burn the place down today - it didn't happen this time but there's will be a time.

Mike Pence may end up being a big winner today as he survived being between a rock and a hard place. The rejection of Trump is in full swing and now the Ted Cruz types have to march in a zig zag direction. So Pence may look good to some Trumpers who are finally repulsed. 

You probably won't believe me but I saw something like this coming. That Trump would get a mob to try to disrupt the final reckoning today by sending a mob to the Capitol. What I didn't expect was that there would not be enough security to defend the Capitol. We know that most police are Trump supporters, but some video of Capitol police taking selfies and opening barriers and even schmoozing surprised even a dystopian like me. Maybe there were afraid themselves and felt that schmoozing was a way to protect themselves.

Imagine if Black Lives Matter did this. Slaughter on 10 Avenue. 

There is some serious talk of impeaching Trump or removing him with the 25th Amendment coming from heavy Republican areas, people who think Trump has gone beyond over the edge and is now more dangerous than ever.  I lean toward impeachment which I believe can be accomplished quickly. Starting tomorrow. A quick trial in the House and a vote in the Senate. All we need is a few more than Romney but we may not even need much more when the Georians are seated. And it would tie Trump up a bit. Even removing him Jan, 19 would make sense. I think he would be barred from running for federal office again. That would make all the Republicans salivating for 2024 very happy.

Jonathan is one of the first of my fave bloggers to touch on today's events.


It seems, as I think about coups over the last 75 years, an awful lot of them were instigated, or even orchestrated, in Washington DC. But I none of them took place there. And I thought none ever would. Until today.

I'm sure there will be loads to read but I wan to imclude this from David Sirota, who I recently bought a paid sub with, who also saw this coming.

The Insurrection Was Predictable

Today’s events were the expression of a dangerous authoritarian movement that has been long in the making.

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Socialists vs. Andrew Cuomo - The Nation, DSA Challenge for Governor in Virginia - RIsing, Krystal Ball

Two socialists walk into a flower shop... this is not a Henny Youngman joke.  If DSA gets a strong toehold in the Council whomever is the next mayor will face some serious opposition that is very different than Corey Johnson. ..
As a DSA member I have received notice of numerous organizing efforts around the tax the rich campaign.
I've been tracking the work of the Democratic Socialists (DSA) here in NYC and am in fact a member, attending a few meetings of the South Brooklyn branch and also touching base with the Queens and the Labor groups (there are at least 8 branches in NYC). 
I'm told there is a southeast Queens group that would include Rockaway so I'm looking forward to working with them. DSA, which has grown from something like 5000 to almost 100,000 members nationally since Trump's election, has its fingers in many pies housing, health care, climate) but the key for me is the electoral strategy of challenging the Democratic Party machines at the grassroots level. 
The AOC victory in 2018 was a key factor in pushing the strategy. Note also the number of teachers and educators getting involved. Jamaal Bowman was not a DSA endorsement I believe but a Justice Democrat recruit. Featured below is Jabari Brisport who was a middle school teacher in Crown Heights in Brooklyn and I believe a MORE member though not when I was still involved (until two years ago). Note that MORE is a heavy DSA outpost and wouldn't it be interesting if the MORE DSA people could actually bring a similar grassroots operation to the UFT elections, echoing the broader left/central battles in the Dem Party.

The DSA operation is impressive and they pick their battles and have beaten the Dem party machine in many of those battles. More will be coming up this year as they focus on the City Council. In some place DSa will also come into conflict with the UFT political machine with some juicy battles coming up - which I will report on. If DSA gets a strong toehold in the Council the next mayor will face some interesting opposition that is very different than Corey Johnson.

DSA is the most serious challenge to the Dem Party machine but only in select areas of the city. So how that will impact the mayoral race is left to be determined. My sense is they are not there yet and there is no current candidate they would conceivably report. But if they jump in with their resources in the primary for a candidate they could have a major impact due to the usual low turnout. Their ground game in impressive. 

As a side note, Krystal Ball on Rising today had a story about a DSA challenge in the Dem primary for governor of Virginia. Krystal often points out that Virginia is dominated by Dems but ranks last in workers rights - what does that tell you about Dem Party central? Check out her report:


This article in The Nation focuses on the battle with Cuomo, which should be delicious.

The Socialists vs. Andrew Cuomo

Newly elected DSA members in the New York legislature will work with grassroots organizers to force the governor to tax the rich. Will their inside/outside strategy work?

 Two socialists emerged from a flower shop in Astoria, Queens, with a bouquet of red roses. Jabari Brisport, 33, a newly elected state senator from Brooklyn, sported a red Democratic Socialists of America hoodie while Zohran Mamdani, 29, a newly elected assemblyman from Queens, wore a red-and-black checked Arsenal jersey—an item he’d just purchased and later characterized as “this ridiculous shirt” yet was plainly excited to show off. NYC-DSA endorsed both this year, and the pair spent the overcast November weekend surprising each of the organization’s freshly endorsed City Council candidates at home with a rose. (The color red has represented socialism and communism at least since the 1840s, while the red rose, now the symbol of the Democratic Socialists of America, has been associated with socialist and social democratic movements and parties since the 1880s.) “I’d like to point out that he didn’t pay [for the flowers]. That’s the problem with socialism,” Mamdani ribbed Brisport, impersonating a conservative. “Eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

The two were part of a slate of five candidates for state government endorsed by NYC-DSA this election cycle. The others were Julia Salazar, the sole incumbent, representing North Brooklyn in the state Senate; and Assembly challengers (both tenant organizers) Peruvian-born Marcela Mitaynes in Sunset Park and Phara Souffrant Forrest of Crown Heights, a nurse and daughter of Haitian immigrants. All five won their races, in a huge show of power for an organization that has only been a significant force in New York electoral politics for two years. Through a retreat in October, weekly Zoom calls with fellow NYC-DSA members, and other meetings and texts, the socialist five have been getting to know one another and planning their Albany strategy. I’m an NYC-DSA member; I live in Brisport and Forrest’s districts, and volunteered on their campaigns as well as Salazar’s. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Mamdani was kidding about running out of “other people’s money,” but it’s an important joke. Everything the socialists want to achieve in office—eviction relief and other urgent assistance; full funding for transit, schools, and health care; a Green New Deal for New York—costs money. The first item on their legislative agenda, then, is the one that could make everything else possible: taxing the rich.

Ninety percent of New Yorkers favor increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires. In a deadly pandemic and a devastating recession, the needs are obvious, with lines for food pantries spanning blocks. Still, the policy won’t be decided on its moral rightness or even its popularity but by a power struggle. On the socialists’ side is an organized movement and a receptive public. Against them, most likely, will be Governor Andrew Cuomo and the ruling class he represents.

Cuomo, Salazar told me, “is practically a Republican.” Taking shelter under a temporary pandemic lean-to outside a bar on Wyckoff Avenue in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, on a cold, rainy evening last month, Salazar sipped a hot toddy and explained how power is organized in Albany. “The way the budget process is constitutionally designed gives outsized power to the governor,” she said, explaining that the legislature isn’t empowered to add items to the budget without the governor’s consent. This makes progressive legislation especially tough, since Cuomo, she said, “is a fiscal conservative, proudly committed to austerity.” He’s a crucial part of the reason New York state has a budget shortfall, despite having at least a million millionaires and 118 billionaires.

But Salazar observed that the winds around Cuomo were shifting, with even moderate legislators now calling for taxing the rich. Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who represents wealthy Westchester County, said this summer that raising taxes was unlikely despite the state’s looming budget crises. Yet as soon as all the absentee ballots were counted and all five members of the DSA slate declared victory, Salazar said, the Democratic leadership in the legislature released a public statement saying the state government needed to raise revenues. “That was very telling, to me, of what was to come in January.” The presence of more socialists in Albany, Salazar emphasized, “will really make a difference.”

In fact, the socialist victories over longtime incumbents should serve as a warning. NYC-DSA cochair Chi Anunwa put it this way: “Hey, you know, if you don’t want to raise revenue and provide housing and health care to all, that’s fine. But don’t be surprised if you experience our primary challenge.”

Before 2018 Cuomo mostly got his way. A cadre of Democrats in the state Senate who caucused with the Republicans made progressive legislation almost impossible. In 2018, a grassroots campaign defeated nearly all of those conservative Democrats, replacing them with progressives. It was then that DSA made its first foray into state politics, electing Salazar to the state Senate. Salazar, DSA, and a coalition of tenants’ rights groups seized the moment, expanding protection for renters in New York State for the first time in 40 years. The real estate industry is one of the most powerful interest groups in the state, and most political observers both inside and outside DSA were shocked that it could be defeated by grassroots organizing. “The governor could have vetoed it,” said Michael Kinnucan of the Brooklyn DSA Electoral Working Group. “I would have thought the rent laws would be the last thing he’d want to compromise on.”

Cuomo is known as a vengeful bully, and a great deal of New York politics is explained by the fact that people know that if they cross the governor, they may face punishment. Cuomo’s also skilled at resisting policy moves from the left, while retaining something resembling heartthrob status to the party’s liberal base. In the early days of the pandemic, many incorporated his briefings into their daily routines and wore “Cuomosexual” T-shirts. But this mystique around the governor’s political power, said Kinnucan, though not unfounded, has often served to let the legislature off the hook. Now that Cuomo’s power is increasingly challenged, New Yorkers are learning that he’s not the only decision-maker in Albany. When Cuomo’s real estate industry cronies called him to ask him to stop the pro-tenant legislation from passing last year, he told them to call their legislators.

It’s too early to say whether this story will be repeated in the fight for progressive taxation. Last summer, Cuomo argued that taxing New York’s wealthy would mean “you’d have no more billionaires,” as if, New York Times columnist Ginia Bellafante quipped, “someone had proposed killing off the warblers of the Adirondacks.” Recently, however, Cuomo seems to have tacked to the left on the matter. In late November he warned that New York would need to raise taxes on the wealthy if no pandemic-related aid were forthcoming from Washington, which depends partly on the outcome of next month’s Georgia Senate runoffs. In early December, Cuomo went further, suggesting that such tax increases were likely regardless of what happens in Georgia or Washington. He’s perhaps conceding in advance to the politically inevitable, hoping to take credit for a popular policy he initially opposed (as he’s done before)—or preparing the ground for a small, watered-down tax increase that will appear responsive while making everyone to his left look like Ho Chi Minh (as he’s also done before).

How will the elected socialists, DSA, and their allies prevail? Through an “inside/outside” strategy, Anunwa explained, with the new officials organizing their colleagues, while the rest of DSA, in turn, organizes the grassroots to pressure Albany.

The grassroots campaign launched in early December, with phone banking and leafletting urging New Yorkers to pressure their legislators to support legislation taxing the rich. About 785 volunteers participated in the campaign in the first week, making more than 105,000 calls and hanging flyers on some 60,000 doors (no canvassing yet due to Covid-19). On the phones, volunteers found tremendous enthusiasm for the campaign; the phone bank technology allows the volunteer to put the constituents through to their legislator’s office right that minute to tell them to support the bills, and DSA volunteers have been especially struck by how many people (968 in the first week) chose this option. It was the most successful launch of any single-issue campaign in NYC-DSA’s history.

NYC-DSA is not the only powerful organization fighting to tax New York’s rich. A coalition called New York Budget Justice—which, along with NYC-DSA, includes Alliance for Quality Education, Indivisible Harlem, and more than a dozen other groups—has formed solely around this demand. In mid-December, the week after NYC-DSA launched its Tax the Rich campaign, 10 labor unions plus the New York State AFL-CIO publicly joined the call, with the union that represents transit workers, Local 100 TWU, organizing a rally in mid-December with DSA and other labor unions.

Sitting in Astoria’s Socrates Sculpture Garden, Brisport and his chief of staff, Kara Clark, who was active in DSA’s Defund the Police campaign, talked about building relationships in Albany, where they have a growing number of progressive and even fellow socialist allies. But the slate is working on their more moderate future colleagues, too. Brisport, a middle school math teacher about to become the first openly gay Black person in the New York State legislature, has befriended Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the first Black woman to be the state senate’s majority leader. Brisport helped her out in the fall with the fight to keep a Democratic majority in the legislature, volunteering on campaigns in swing districts where Democratic seats were threatened by Republicans. (Now that all the absentee ballots have been counted, the Democrats have a veto-proof supermajority.) Asked if the majority leader is receptive to the socialist agenda, Brisport paused and answered, “She’s receptive to me as a person, so that’s good.” This means more than many working outside government might suppose. Mamdani observed that how legislators vote or what bills they sign onto is often not ideological but “because their friends asked them to.”

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Fred Smith with NEW YEAR Update


Fred is back with an update to his annual Xmas poem which we published here

Happy New Year.  Blush

I sent a revised version of my Night Before Xmas poem to the Daily News.  Lo and behold, it ran online this morning.
Now it's about Trump's New Year's death wishes for people as he departs DC. Changed poem from his Christmas gift list.
Tweaked a bit in keeping with theme. Added Mnuchin reference for timely inclusion with others to whom he wants to give vengeful presents.

Enjoy.  Stay warm and be well.  Better days ahead.

The night before New Year’s
‘Tis the eve of the new year and in his White House
Sits a lame duck-tailed bad man with unsmiling spouse.
“This may be my last chance before my thoughts drift
To give all those who miffed me one parting gift.

Whether I liked them or hated, they can’t escape blame,
They’re bound to be “Fired” in my blazing endgame:
To my faithless AG and once true legal goon,
I leave Barr to flame out in a hot air balloon.

As to Mitch, the traitor, who acknowledged Joe’s win,
Here’s a carton of face masks to smother his chin;
And for Rudolph, the red-faced, sputt’ring buffoon, 
Nothing’s better to drown in than a pool-sized spittoon.

The prize for Pompeo requires some thinking,
Backtracking on hacking without even blinking;
As for Doctor Birx, as well as for Fauci,
A pox on both jerks for making me grouchy.
To my dearest friends, Pelosi and Schumer,
A set of false teeth and an unbenign tumor;
Bah, to Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett;
I’ll defrock the three for not being my parrots.
To NBC cable’s O’Donnell and Maddow,
Go choke on your words, and sleep in the shadow;
Which goes for CNN cronies, Tapper and Blitzer,
Have Cheez Doodles washed down with a Clorox-laced spritzer.
The Judiciary Committee and Adam Schiff
Will ride a one-way train, heading straight off a cliff;
For Masha, Colonel Vindman and Fiona Hill,
You uttered the truth; here’s a poisonous pill.
This thing ‘bout the virus and how many have died?
QAnon swears that every one of them lied;
That proves there are 300,000 folks hidin’;
No goodies for the “dead” who voted for Biden.
Of course, can’t forget those phony Obamas,
Who I’d exile to starve on an isle full of llamas;
And I have to keep waiting until one week hence
To decide what determines the fate of Mike Pence.
At last, I’ll heap ashes upon mini-Mnuchin,
Whose stimulus deal was smaller than a capuchin;
When I told my pet monkey to get a bill signed,
This blind four-year flunky failed to read my mind.
Allegiance to me must remain undiminished;
One step out of line and you know you are finished,
‘Cept for Putin, who says I lost the election;
For some weird reason I can’t spurn his defection.
Yet still, there are more who have sorely peeved me,
Who think I’m a fool and those who have grieved me:
And that would include all the world’s foreign leaders
Who laughed at my power, those dumb bottom feeders.
I’ll give them all coal to stuff in their crotches;
And spoiled milk to SNL which nobody watches.
There’s a surprise in store for Stephen Colbert;
It’s something set for ticking under his chair.
Forget about pardons and exoneration,
I truly deserve an extended vacation
Where I won’t have to pretend to read even one book;
And I’ll have full time for golfing and being a crook.
Now it’s almost midnight on this dark New Year’s Eve,
And a terrible time to be taking my leave.
But I swear I’ll keep tweeting my message of cheer
To do more for America this coming year.”
Smith, who worked for the New York City Department of Education, 
writes occasional poems.