MLK was not always popular!

Let us recall that Martin Luther King was not always the nearly-sainted public figure he is today. The FBI bugged his phones because that agency concentrated on combatting what it saw as subversion by left-wing and civil rights groups (and ignored organized crime until forced to by the Kennedy brothers, if The Irishman is correct).

When King spoke against the American war in Vietnam and against segregation and discrimination in Northern states, he drew a lot of sharp attacks, even from the NYT, as Zaid Jilani writes at The Intercept:

‘The New York Times editorial board lambasted King for linking the war in Vietnam to the struggles of civil rights and poverty alleviation in the United States, saying it was “too facile a connection” and that he was doing a “disservice” to both causes. It concluded that there “are no simple answers to the war in Vietnam or to racial injustice in this country.” The Washington Post editorial board said King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country and his people.” A political cartoon in the Kansas City Star depicted the civil rights movement as a young black girl crying and begging for her drunk father King, who is consuming the contents of a bottle labeled “Anti-Vietnam.”

‘In all, 168 newspapers denounced him the next day. Johnson ended his formal relationship with King. “What is that goddamned nigger preacher doing to me?” Johnson reportedly remarked after the Riverside speech. “We gave him the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we gave him the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we gave him the war on poverty. What more does he want?”

‘The African-American establishment, fearful of Johnson’s reaction, also distanced itself from King.

‘The NAACP under the leadership of Roy Wilkins refused to oppose the war and explicitly condemned the effort to link the peace and civil rights movements. Whitney Young, the leader of the National Urban League, warned that “Johnson needs a consensus. If we are not with him on Vietnam, then he is not going to be with us on civil rights.” Jackie Robinson, the celebrated African-American baseball player and civil rights advocate, wrote to Johnson two weeks after King’s speech to distance himself from the civil rights leader: “While I am certain your faith has been shaken by demonstrations against the Viet Nam war, I hope the actions of any one individual does not make you feel as Vice President Humphrey does, that Dr. King’s stand will hurt the civil rights movement. It would not be fair to the thousands of our Negro fighting men who are giving their lives because they believe, in most instances, that our Viet Nam stand is just.” Many donors to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference wrote to King announcing they were pulling their support.

(I remember having arguments with some of my elementary, JHS, and even HS classmates who held sentiments like these, way back when…

Published in: on January 19, 2020 at 11:51 am  Comments (1)  

Scary Right-Wing Neo-Nazis Making Threats

Here is an article about some of the death threats being made by far-right gun nuts against people who oppose them, such as the single Democratic representative in the VA State House who owns up to belonging to the very-mild Democratic Socialists of America.  (I didn’t even know there was one!) He’s worried, because the gun nuts are lying that he wants to take away all their guns, which he doesn’t.

He is in favor of some gun laws, but has his reservation about the ‘red flag’ laws, as he explains here:

“Chief among [the] concerns [of this Socialist representative] is red flag laws, which allow police, relatives, or some other third parties to request that a court remove a person’s guns temporarily, and often, those judicial hearings are held “ex parte,” meaning the defendant doesn’t have to be there. Carter says that he monitors online forums where members of the extreme right converse (“because they regularly discuss killing me, so I kind of have to,” he says), and has seen them say that they would file false red flag orders against people they’d like to attack. Whether those efforts would be successful, or even possible, depends on how the particular red flag law is written.
Full link:
From Wikipedia:

Lee Jin Carter (born June 2, 1987) is an American politician who has represented the 50th district in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2018. He defeated Jackson Miller, the Republican House Majority Whip, to win the seat. Born in North Carolina, Carter is a member of the Democratic Party, an IT specialist, and a former Marine. Carter serves on the Finance Committee and the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. He was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), of which he is a member.

As a U.S. Marine, Carter served in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. His unit was also one of the first to respond to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti.[1]

Published in: on January 18, 2020 at 9:09 pm  Comments (1)  

DC Women’s March – 2020 (Today!)

I am glad that my wife and I took part in today’s march. It was inspiring to us to talk with so many fine young folks (some men, too) along the march route; some of them told us that we veteran activists from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s inspired them, which was nice to hear. It was fun swapped some ideas and stories with new folks and veterans of, say, marches and demonstrations in Los Angeles and the Bay Area of California…

Some of the signs were brilliant!




It was quite cold, and sometimes sleeting and raining; my wife and I both found our cell phone batteries dying because of the low temperatures, so I don’t have nearly as many photos as I would have liked. Fortunately w both had dressed properly – long acrylic thermal underwear, woolen sweater and socks, monk’s hood, parka hood, and umbrella for me; my wife looked a bit like an Inuit.

IMG_5996      IMG_5980

A couple of comments:

  • It didn’t look like organizers had really agreed on a common platform for chants, songs, or whatever. I persuaded someone with a bullhorn to lead a chant concerning immigration (see my last post).
  • We probably represented hundreds, if not thousands, of different organizations, but most of us only had the most tenuous links to said organizations — we had signed something online somewhere, or donated something, or maybe been to a meeting or two.
  • Definitely mostly white and middle-class, though latinxes, african-americans, and asians were definitely represented.
  • It was great that mostly young women had organized this, and I was just along an ally.
  • I didn’t hear people talking about the impeachment process, probably because we all know that there is between zip and nada percent chance that the Senate will actually convict and remove lying sack of shit #45 from office.
  • We need to acknowledge that the attacks by Arne Duncan and the Obama Administration on teachers during the 8 years they were in office — despite all their flowery, progressive rhetoric — were worse even than what Trump and Betsy Devos have been capable of doing, and were also worse than what we suffered under GWBush 2. That’s saying a lot. I think the demoralization of teachers definitely led to the election of Mango Mussolini, because so many Democratic party activists all across the country were teachers. In fact, during those 8 years, the local precinct, county, and state Democratic organizations were shredded to pieces or collapsed. The Tea Party and future Trumpsters were extremely energized and got their people out to vote at every election, and caused thousands of seats to turn Fascist Red.
  • We need to be much, much better organized. The Nazi Party in Germany before 1932 (Ie before Hitler was appointed Chancellor)had uniformed, armed, militias (Brownshirts and Blackshirts) that were equipped, trained, and funded by the German (especially Prussian) military General Staff. We don’t have that here, yet, in the USA, but we do know that neo-Nazis, Kluxers, and the like do send their young aficionados to enlist in the military, to get weapons training, and to try to incite and recruit other violent racists. Knowing that the racists are in fact emboldened, and have been in fact arming themselves and organizing, we need to be better organized and to take them seriously. When Trump and his acolytes are [I hope] thrown out in a landslide on November 3, the neo-Nazis he has emboldened may cause serious trouble. We can’t predict the future.
  • All the people I talked to agreed with me that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the smartest politicians we had ever seen, and the most inspiring and honest. We were uniformly in awe of her ability to run a House hearing and to skewer the bad guys with their own words and with facts. I hope nothing bad happens to her and that she can run for higher office and help organize a good, progressive movement.
  • I have no faith in any organization that I am aware of. I furthermore am going to state that what the Soviet Union did to its own citizens under Stalin’s watch (in particular) was absolutely inexcusable, betraying just about every single humanitarian principle that socialists, progressives, anarchists, or communists of any stripe have fought for — except for the principle of killing (mostly) imagined enemies of the people, working class, or proletariat. Think about it: though we will never know the final toll, I estimate that on the average several hundreds of people were executed or died of mistreatment or starvation every single day in the USSR during the roughly 30-year period 1923-1953. Long story.
  • IMG_6111

    My estimate of the crowd at this march is probably pretty low, since I could never see the entire march at once and don’t own a helicopter. Neither am I privy to overhead photos of the event. However, when I was at the south end of the Ellipse, I stood up on a park bench and could see a lot of it; perhaps the panorama picture I took, above, will make some sense. (As I said, my phone did NOT like the cold; in the future I’m going to need to take chemical hand-warmers to put around it)

  • That location was a fine one for giving Mr Maralago a single=fingered salute. A number of people joined me.
  • It seemed to me that in every seven-foot (or 2-meter) longitudinal section of the march, there were somewhere between 20 and 60 people (so 3 to 9 people per longitudinal foot) – we filled the streets including the sidewalks as well. (My wife and I bailed out at the intersection of 16th and H, at the north side of Lafayette Park and went to warm up with a delicious late brunch at Fiola da Mare, which was quite a nice little luxury we’d never experienced.)
  • At one point, I could see people still marching on Constitution Avenue all the way to the corner of 15th and Constitution, on the latter heading west, and then all the way up 17th street up to Lafayette Square. How many marchers there were further towards either the head or tail of the march, I could not see. It was definitely smaller than a couple of the other women’s marches I attended, if I remember correctly.
  • Using the scale on the map I’m showing you below,  I think that I myself could see about 4,000 feet worth of people marching, which would mean somewhere between 11,000 to 35,000 people. There were clearly many more, but how many, I have no idea. (I’m making this estimate because Park Service no longer provides estimates.)

women's march 2020

Anybody have a better estimate? As I said, I’m sure mine is low. The comment button below is really hard to find.

Where would the United States be without its recent immigrants?

The plain answer is:

(spoiler alert!)


(wait for it …)

Not in a good place.

Let me show you why, from some just-released data from the National Science  Foundation.

Do you see what I see?

foreign born

And compare this:

foreign born 3

Did you notice that among the ENTIRE US science & engineering workforce, a full 9 PhD holders out of every 20 was an immigrant?

Let me say that in a different way: 45% of all American employees with doctorates that work in engineering or ANY of the sciences, repeat, 45% of them are in fact immigrants.

That’s huge.

Heck, most of my doctors and nurses and medical technicians, and my kids’ doctors, over my nearly 7 decades, have been immigrants, and we have all had major things happen to our bodies. (My wife is absolutely indestructible and never gets sick at all, lucky her. She clearly has an amazing immune system and temperament: she worked for decades with very young children in the DC public school system!)

Where would American science and technology be without them?

Certainly not in first place.

Probably lagging the rest of the world by a lot.

Speaking of which, here is the current situation as far as an official government report shows:

us global mfger

Anybody feel like researching how much of that Aircraft/Spacecraft manufacturer category in 2016 in the US was military, and how much was civilian?

I know some very, very smart and hardworking people from places like the Caribbean, Central America, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and South or East Asia — many of them holding all sorts of advanced degrees in all sorts of areas: medicine; civil or mechanical or electrical engineering; literature; mathematics; biology; and they work in the US as cab or bus drivers; secondary science teachers; clerks in all sorts of service or retail places; painters or other construction workers. Sometimes in nice IT jobs but even so, under current rules, they have to wait half a century to become American citizens.

Some of my immigrant friends and acquaintances have explained to me how the game is rigged: because of all kinds of complicated rules and regulations, they will never, EVER be able to even obtain a legal green card. I’ve seen a chart in the Washington Post that showed how immigration as a board game, only it was for real; and one that nearly every single player was going to lose: they would NEVER in this life be able to become a legal US citizen.

And in some cases, particularly from central America, if they return home to stay, either voluntarily or by getting deported, would be subjected to extortion by the local Mafia. The criminals find know exactly how long the returnee had lived (and hence probably worked) in the USA and how much they were likely to have earned during that time. The criminals then would demand some fraction of all that money, or else. It’s also the case that they can tell the difference between a person who has been to the USA and one who has never done so, just by their body language and dress – but even dressing like a never-left would not escape their notice.

I innocently asked, “pero, ¿si no pagan?”

The answer was, if you not pay, then they either start cutting off toes or fingers, or killing a child, or breaking bones, as a signal. If the first signal is ignored, then they kill the rest of the family. Knowing this, other friends and family members of the returnee do everything they can to raise the funds to pay off the criminals.

(The police are absolutely no help and are even part of the gang. There is a miniseries called Rotten on Netflix mentions this, as have articles in the New Yorker with titles like “When Deportation is a Death Sentence.”

Let me remind you: a century ago, say, 1920, there were literally millions of Russians, Poles, Italians, and Eastern Europeans, including a lot of Jews, spending large sums of money that they had saved up to purchase a ticket on a transatlantic passenger steam ship, or else they had taken out loans or work contracts to have someone else. The details are different, but there is sort of a constant drumbeat of anti-immigrant rhetoric here in the US that changes its target over time. Once it was aimed at the Irish. A century ago there were a whole lot of derogatory nicknames in common use slurring the members of each of the groups I mentioned, and others I can’t even recall. (Here’s a list of such slurs if you’re curious, but not time-specific).

My point is that right-wingers seem to have a real thing about immigrants, even though they have been one of the best things about America – unless you are an American Indian, or were imported as an enslaved laborer from Africa. They often heap all sorts of contempt upon them, in a racist manner as well. I find it a way of dividing the working class against itself.

Now as far as moving from one country to another is concerned, we know that very wealthy people, and thus the enormous sums of money that they control, can go wherever they want, whenever they want, and even live however they want. So why can’t the rest of us? Iron Curtains, Border Walls …  would it not be a good thing if people can go where they want, live where they want, work where they want? Or at least, it sounds like something a Libertarian should want, no?

Obviously, there need to be some regulations and limits. What if zillions of people suddenly wanted to go to territory X for some reason for a long period of time, and there weren’t enough sewers or waste treatment plants to deal with all the extra poo and pee — not to mention what if they hadn’t made plans beforehand to get enough food, water, shelter, and other social services and amenities beforehand? It would be a disaster, and so many facilities like parks and museums and concerts rightly limit the number of people who can enter at any given time. So some limits there should be on how many people can go to some place… But how? The system we have here is insane.

{elucidation: If someone can show they’ve been working here and other than having a passport/document problem, they’ve been model citizens, then sign them up for language courses and any other type of education they might need so they can fulfil US requirements for, say, medicine or science doctorates or engineeers or licensed electricians or plumbers or whatever. Let them be covered by labor law for the hard, difficult jobs that they do. In the parts of the US that I’ve visited in the past ten years, an enormous fraction of the workers I see in construction, agriculture, sanitation, and the entire service sector are immigrants or native-born Americans with brown skin. A relatively small fraction are Americans of European descent unless you get pretty far away from cities.

However, there has clearly got to be some regulation of movement.Same thing here. But in 1920, the frankly fascistic rhetoric of radio personality Father Coughlin was preaching against immigrants and leftists of all stripes. A few years later, 1924, the US passed a very clever immigration law that was carefully crafted to exclude certain of those same groups. This law, and many others like it regarding miscegenation and sterilization, were passed all over the United States and were upheld by the Supreme Court; Hitler and his acolytes were effusive in their praise for those American laws, saying that they helped them to inspire and refine the language of the Nazi German-nationality laws that made it easier to steal the treasure and lives of so many German and European Jews. Before and after Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, many Jews and others did their best to escape living under the Nazis, but because of the anti-immigration law of 1924, they could not get a permit, and then perished in the gas chambers and mass, self-dug graves before guns or sharpened shovels of the Third Reich or the Soviet bloc. Some couldn’t get out, some couldn’t get in. So many wonderful Jews were wiped out, but without the presence of so many Jewish scientists fleeing Hitler, would the United States have built the atom bomb? I doubt it very much. Remember reading about the Manhattan Project, anyone?:

Among the scientists who fled Europe were Albert EinsteinHans BetheJohn von NeumannLeo SzilardJames FranckEdward TellerRudolf Peierls, and Klaus FuchsEnrico Fermi‘s wife Laura was Jewish; after the 1938 Nobel Prize ceremony, he and his family left for the United States.

Objectively, anti-immigrant sentiment functions much like forms of racism: it allows the rich and powerful to divide and conquer the rest of us – the working class, so that we cannot unite to win any reforms at all.

  • we need a good national health plan for all that covers optical, dental, acute, addiction treatment, suicide-prevention, long-term, emergency, hospitalization, physical therapy, mental health, pregnancy, and pre-existing conditions.. It’ll cost some money to organize it but some wealthy corporations who do the paperwork in our exceedingly complicated and unfair system would lose out. It may cost more simply because there are a lot of poor people who can’t afford to have treatments done under the present system, but really need them
  • Better pay and real benefits like some sort of defined-benefit retirement pensions for everybody. Some sort of legal and human rights for employees in most situations; employees are free to democratically select organizations to represent them as a group which should have real bargaining rights and responsibility for accountability to its members
  • Removing the wealthy from power and figuring out a better method of choosing leaders.
    • A fair and equitable lottery for all state, local, and national elections would be one approach like they did in Athens . Right now the elections results all seem to depend on showmanship and financing, not on actual, good ideas. So billionaires and their acolytes dominate both the economy and the government, and lots of policies that overwhelming majorities support, but which are good for the billionaires, don’t get put into law, and vice versa.
  • Figuring out how to
    • Understand and fix the environment;
    • Deal effectively with scarier and scarier threat of anthropogenic  global warming;
    • fix the infrastructure and transportation systems;
    • develop new energy sources; and
    • preserve, not destroy, vital habitats for wildlife
    • Preventing the sixth extinction
  • Forgiving the debts of students, those who went bankrupt in the past 25 years, and those who still owe legal fees due to poverty
  • Re-enfranchising all those who have served their jail sentences
  • Actual education and job training for adults, including those currently in jail
  • Improving our schools in a real manner by letting teachers and other educators be in charge for a change, instead of billionaires

Many industries at one point got unionized, which meant enormous increases and improvements in working conditions, pay, and benefits for the workers in lots of major industries, including meat-packing plants. However, in the past few years, many unions in the private sector have been defeated, and wages don’t seem to have risen for workers for a very long time, even though productivity and profits and CEO compensation and bankers’ bonuses have gone through the roof.

Published in: on January 16, 2020 at 6:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Should Childhood Vaccines Be Mandatory?

Hell yes!

Well, let me qualify that. It’s really, really important to have everybody vaccinated against a whole host of diseases — like

  • the ones that killed nearly all of my uncles and aunts years before I was born; or
  • The Smallpox that killed hundreds of millions over the past century or two before it was eradicated; or
  • the polio that put my dad in an iron lung; or
  • the mumps, chickenpox, measles, rubella, and hepatitis that I suffered through as a kid; or
    the shingles that I got a year or so ago because I had chickenpox as a kid*; or
  • So many others, including diphtheria, pertussis, and all the rest.

I can think of some exceptions Let me list them.

If you never ride public transportation (including taxis and rental cares); AND

You never shop in a store, attend a school, or go to a museum, movie theater, or other public event; AND

You promise never to go to a hospital or clinic to rescue you when you do get sick; AND

You promise under penalty of law to always wear a brand-new face mask and surgical gloves when walking on public sidewalks, parks or anyplace that you might meet people; AND

You agree to be personally, morally, and financially liable if it is shown that you were part of a chain of infection of a disease that is preventable by a vaccine;


If you have a doctor certify that you have a compromised immune system and therefore cannot take certain vaccines.

Fair enough?

(The tiny, tiny COMMENT button is down below.)

Let me add something: we no longer vaccinate everybody against smallpox precisely because previous inoculation campaigns succeeded at wiping out this dreaded disease. No Poxes upon us any more! Yay!

The anti-vaxxers of a century or two ago, who opposed mass vaccination against smallpox, correctly pointed out that a small proportion of those inoculated would get sick. But despite the worst efforts of the antivax groups, the world finally eliminated this disease from the planet. Only two labs still have samples of the virus.

You can’t eliminate a viral disease if significant fractions of the population refuse to get vaccinated!


* because I have Crohn’s/celiac, I have to take an immunosuppressant medication, so I am not eligible for the shingles vaccine. Getting shingles like I did a couple of years ago [precisely because I had chickenpox as a kid] is really, really painful, but at least it’s not contagious AFAICT.

Published in: on January 14, 2020 at 10:26 am  Leave a Comment  

[Ed. Note: DC’s office of planning has promulgated revisions to the city’s comprehensive plan. The deadline for public comment was last week–but ANCs have additional time to review and comment on the draft document, which is here in a redlined version.
The changes made to this planning document not only are long on celebration and short on historical detail, but the emphasis throughout appears to be on public private partnership agreements for everything public, whether using public facilities, modernizing them, or locating in them. (Really: check out what it says about public private partnerships to construct new police stations (section 1113.4) and to remodel and construct correctional facilities (section 1114.13).) If the mayor’s planners succeed in pushing this privatized utopia through, it will likely lead to a landscape for public education in which privatizers are further encouraged to get their piece of public action, a la what DPR seems to be currently doing with Jelleff and nearby Ellington field.
(NB: If you don’t have time to wade through the >1500 redlined pages of the draft comprehensive plan to get a flavor for this, you can get the shorthand version (including a 999-year lease!) on this current list of DPR public private partnership agreements for DC’s publicly owned recreational facilities. That list was provided to the council after the public hearing on Jelleff.)
Anyhoo, below are my comments on this draft document, with an emphasis on education. To see exactly how the public could have a much more, well, democratic role in its publicly funded schools (and not that merely of a silent and compliant funder), check out these edits to the draft comprehensive plan, from the 21st Century School Fund. Here’s hoping someone somewhere is listening–because education rights in DC appear to hang in the balance.]

Dear readers at the office of planning,
Here are my comments on the draft comprehensive plan, with a focus on public education. I found the draft interesting inasmuch as it displays the values of the mayor and her concept of the city.
But I also found that in (literally) erasing historical details in the prior plan and replacing them in many places with what appears to be laudatory statements of progress, the plan eschews any real details for what appears to be aspirations and/or indistinct and uneven progress.
Possibly worse, there is a quality to this plan that suggests the mayor–and the mayor alone–has the authority to do such planning above all others.
For instance, on p. 5 (102.1), the plan appears to negate the ability of the council to alter it. Rather, it states the council must simply adopt it.
Then on p. 7 (103.6), it deletes all mention of the education master facilities plan (MFP) as a planning document among all city planning documents.
Sadly, all this suggests that our schools are in fact not a part of city planning–which is reinforced throughout. Indeed, there appears to be a complete disconnect between schools and the other planning.
For instance, of all the places listed on p. 34 (304.11) that are being encouraged to expand residential uses, there are few, if any, public schools and few, if any, mentions of them. In fact, on p. 53 (309.6), in the definition of a successful neighborhood, there is nothing about schools, something repeated on p. 499 (909), where no mention is made of schools in designing successful neighborhoods. And on p. 481 (903.11), the mention of promoting equitable growth in our city includes nothing of schools. In fact, I found only on p. 47 (306.17) any note about siting schools along transit ways. This suggests that the document is DIScouraging, rather than supporting, a system of neighborhood schools of right and has no consideration for safe passage therein.
Likewise, the section on commuting and transit mentions nothing about getting kids to school nor ensuring safe passage with cross walks and school guards (and omits mention of the Kids Ride Free program). Given DC’s crisis in pedestrians getting hit by cars–including children around schools–this appears to be a major omission.
Yet on p. 135 (414.11) there are calls for a pilot program for DC schools of transportation demand management–which is not the same thing, but appears to stand in for it. My read of this is that the mayor supports not existing schools and networks, but a way of managing demand for whatever arises as far as schools go. This would suggest that school proliferation, rather than supporting existing schools, is a value herein.
The idea of strong and complete network of municipally run neighborhood public schools of right is hardly new–it was created to ensure education rights are secured in all corners, such that families would have assurance that their children would not have to commute far to get an equitable education.
However, this document appears to upend that in many ways besides those I just outlined and supports the current INequity we see in our public schools, especially those of right in DCPS.
For instance, the section on housing shows affordable housing mainly in the east half of the city. We know that this concentrates poverty, which leads to schools of right in some areas also having concentrated poverty. While that alone should not be a problem for those schools, in our city it is very much a problem, as those schools are often inadequately provisioned BY the city for the students they have.
There is also the fact that our city has promoted in both its lottery as well as its planning materials a rating system for our schools that is largely correlated to the household wealth of the students in our schools.
As a result of that and the fact that there is no ceiling on the creation of new schools and expansion of existing ones, schools with poor ratings (and not coincidentally poor students) often face tremendous enrollment pressure and closure. This document does nothing to outline this dilemma, much less address it, nor seems to even understand how housing and other city-led policies contribute to it. And there is no acknowledgement of the costs in wasteful school proliferation.
Rather, this document seems to blithely accept and even encourage this state of affairs! For instance, on p. 199 (506.11) it encourages purchasing housing on “scattered sites” as affordable housing, so as to allow low-income people to attend high-performing schools in their neighborhoods, thus tacitly accepting that schools in traditionally low-income areas will NOT be high-performing!
The irony here is that p. 172 (500.18) notes that there is a declining share of households with children–which means that with no brake on school expansions or creations, undue pressure is put on enrollments.
Yet, the document is not merely silent on all that–but contradictorily notes that “improving schools” (p. 173, 500.22) are why people want to be in DC, a belief repeated on p. 810 (1500.7)!
To be sure, this isn’t to say that people without children may not eventually have children here–or send them to our public schools.
But it is a long way to assume that people without children not only WILL have them, but have actively chosen to live in DC because of the schools–and then will stay here with any children they have! Historically, almost none of that has ever been true, and current trends, showing kids leaving from all DC’s publicly funded schools as they age at relatively high rates, suggest it is not true now, either. As if to underscore this unreality, old text mentioning the high drop-out rate in DC’s schools is struck out on p. 956 (old 1807.2). But that rate is still high.
There also appears to be a complete disconnect here between our schools and the future of the city.
Take employment: despite mention on p. 394 (716.3) of the need for a “career-oriented curriculum” for DC public school students and a DC goal of increasing access to education and employment (p. 402, 717.10-13), there is no connection of that to economic realities, like the fact that 45% of job growth in DC will be relatively poor-paying jobs (p. 182, 504.3).
And although p. 395 (716.5) includes a strong statement about “a more comprehensive and integrated workforce preparation system,” specifics for that were actually edited out–including career magnet campuses and vocational training in our publicly funded schools.
Rather, only on p. 404 (717.23) do we see mention of DCPS being involved in workforce development programs. And support for digital literacy for such programs (mentioned on p. 405, 717.23-24) mentions this only in relation to our libraries–not schools.
Indeed, despite p. 357 (EG1.3.F) mentioning the need to create programs for technology jobs for DC students (i.e., internships), and recognition that many jobs will require a college degree (p. 392, 715.2), there is little offered here to bridge the gulf between employment prospects among DC adults.
To be sure, this document does not erase schools entirely—but there is a weird disconnect throughout, as if schools have little to do with civic life and need private investment or better use to be, well, successful.
For instance, p. 424-5 (805.9FF) encourages shared use agreements for DCPS open spaces, so all residents can use them–while there is nothing about charter spaces (despite the fact that many DC charters occupy publicly owned buildings and all use public money for their facilities).
The implication is that DCPS open spaces are not well-used—without any evidence to support that. This theme is scattered throughout regarding public recreation spaces. For instance, on p. 434 (808.4) there is a reference to neighborhood-based rec facilities not being “sustainable”–which is strange, given no mention of them being unaffordable or unused.
But a short while later, on p. 461 (817.1), there is a reference to public private partnerships for expanding access to parks, with the next page noting how lease arrangements with private groups are a revenue stream.
Really: our wealthy city needs revenue streams for public resources?
Arts in our schools are not spared this weird treatment of being used for private or commercialized ends. For instance, p. 781 ((1403.9) encourages shared use of schools for cultural and arts ends, while pp. 805-6 (1415.2FF) mentions the importance of arts to education–without any mention of schools.
Possibly worse, this theme of private public partnerships for, and co-locations in, public facilities for recreation and schools is explicitly on p. 620 (1103.5FF) touted as a solution for deferred maintenance. Essentially, absent a civic facilities plan, the comprehensive plan appears to endorse the city turning away from its civic obligation to maintain public spaces and schools for children and the general public!
What appears to be disregard of the public sphere here comes to a real head in the section on schools.
For instance, starting on p. 687 (section 1200), there is no mention of education rights. Rather, the focus is “efficient use of school property,” such that the school buildings themselves become the school system, which is pretty grotesque–unless education rights are indeed meaningless.
In fact, with the document’s focus on “fair access” to education and not rights (and with no definition of what “fair access” means in this context), it is not entirely surprising that the language of the prior plan–calling for the primacy and support of DCPS as the municipally run school system of right–is quite literally struck out on p. 689 (1200.3FF).
In its place, there is a lot about–really–real estate.
For instance, p. 693 (1202.2FF) mentions investigating the “development of vacant parcels for public mixed-use projects that incorporate educational uses,” while p. 694 mentions expanding access to educational facilities (again without defining “access”). On p. 700 (EDU 1.1.3), the plan calls for co-location of charters in “significantly underutilized” DCPS buildings, without any recognition of damaging enrollment pressures, while the next page explicitly calls for developers to have space for schools in new developments (again, no planning) and p. 703 (1204.5) encourages partnerships for DCPS renovations (without recognition that all recent renovations have been done by private firms).
There is also a weird divide here between charters and DCPS.
For instance, p. 704 (EDU 1.2.8) has lots of details about sustainability in DCPS renovations (parking, environmentally friendly, etc.), but mentions nothing about that in charter buildings–as if those buildings just don’t count. This is simply stunning in a city where half the children attend charters! The same page also mentions making neighborhood schools an attractive choice–but there is no mention of rights, so it looks like it’s perhaps a back door to charter schools of right.
Despite what appears to be no recognition whatsoever of a neighborhood system of schools of right, p. 713 (1207.8) urges caution in the disposition of DCPS surplus buildings because of growth–without mentioning the statute that allows the chancellor to call back DCPS buildings from charters as needed. There is also nothing about maintenance of renovated DCPS buildings, which has been a very sore point for many, as many buildings are now once again facing years of deferred maintenance.
In disturbing echoes of the endeavor to transfer the Ellington field away from DCPS and students to a city-wide use, the plan on p. 695 (1202.4) seeks to see how school grounds and facilities could enhance city life–as if they do not already. It then notes on the next page that expanding access to and use of DCPS school buildings would meet community needs, without any mention of how those assets are currently used for the people they are actually intended for–DCPS students–and without mention of the fact that they already DO meet community needs in that role.
The impression one is left with is that public education–at least in DCPS–is never enough by itself, and education rights are simply meaningless.
The irony here is that p. 697 (1202.12) notes that planning estimates suggest growth in DCPS will ensure it will outstrip its facilities everywhere but in wards 5, 7 & 8. But even this is not in accord with reality, inasmuch as closures have left those wards without space for even the children they have now–much less those who are expected to be here in the future.
Such writing out of education rights and the public sphere that is public education is puzzling, given that other public aspects are actually lauded.
Take libraries.
On p. 658ff (1109.4FF), investment in libraries is mentioned as something vital to neighborhoods–and there is nothing about co-locating with private groups or having private groups put money toward those facilities.
Rather, libraries are presented here as a vital civic asset on their own terms—in a way that schools and the public areas used by school kids simply are not. Indeed, p. 663 (1111.2) mentions growing libraries alongside growing population as part of a master civic facilities plan–while there is no such mention anywhere here of that for school planning, much less ensuring education rights are upheld.
Moreover, while there is mention of school renovations as community amenities (p. 196, 506.1), there is nothing like that library investment mentioned for our schools or areas that schools use for recreation. Nor is there any mention of the destabilizing of communities by school closures.
So I have to ask:
Why are libraries here presented as valued civic assets on their own, without public private partnership agreements and co-locations with private groups–and not our schools of right? Why no mention of the devastating effect of school closures and privatizing of formerly public spaces and removal of them from their use for DCPS students?
Here’s what I think is the reason for all of that:
Private groups cannot get money from libraries.
Rather, they get money from our children–literally. Each child in DC comes with a price on his or her head at every single publicly funded school. Real estate is the security for that private economy lauded and encouraged here at every corner, while the entire idea of public education, and the public sphere therein, must be completely disregarded for that public money–$2 billion every year–to be accessed.
Yet, the idea of universal public education–which is truly one of the very best things our country has ever created–is not to monetize our children, but to ensure that everyone everywhere has equitable education rights in their neighborhoods as a vital part of our public sphere.
What is radical about the shared public purpose of public education is the idea that everyone can achieve educational merit.
But when you have a system of winners and losers–whether through the lottery or not funding schools equitably or, per this plan, creating developments near high-performing schools–the entire idea of public education is vitiated. Creating more schools does nothing to help kids in schools right now–nothing.
Rather, in addition to allowing private groups to profit, literally, off the public sphere and our children, it creates instability–not mentioned here. It closes schools–not mentioned here. It devastates communities–not mentioned here. It wastes money–not mentioned here. And it pretends that all schools are merely widgets, interchangeable but for their names, not vital public assets essential to our history, our communities, and our civic life.
I wish you the best as you go forward–I really do, because the fate of public education in DC may very well depend on it.

Valerie Jablow | January 13, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:
DC’s Comprehensive Plan–Or, The End Of The Road For Education Rights In DC?
by Valerie Jablow
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Published in: on January 13, 2020 at 9:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

What will happen to Trump’s collaborators?

I found this extremely well-written piece, by a well-known NYT writer who also happened to be in my junior high school homeroom here in DC, in the Daily Intelligencer. I certainly hope he is right that they will land in the cesspool of history. But in actual fact, many criminals do get away with virtually everything, and no, I did not ask Frank’s permission permission before reprinting this.


What Will Happen to The Trump Toadies?

Look to Nixon’s defenders, and the Vichy collaborators, for clues.

By Frank Rich  ( @frankrichny )

Irony, declared dead after 9/11, is alive and kicking in Trump’s America. It’s the concepts of truth and shame that are on life support. The definition of “facts” has been so thoroughly vandalized that Americans can no longer agree on what one is, and our president has barreled through so many crimes and misdemeanors with so few consequences that it’s impossible to gainsay his claim that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. Donald Trump proves daily that there is no longer any penalty for doing wrong as long as you deny everything, never say you’re sorry, and have co-conspirators stashed in powerful places to put the fix in.

No wonder so many fear that Trump will escape his current predicament scot-free, with a foregone acquittal at his impeachment trial in the GOP-controlled Senate and a pull-from-behind victory in November, buoyed by a booming economy, fractious Democrats, and a stacked Electoral College. The enablers and apologists who have facilitated his triumph over the rule of law happily agree. John Kennedy, the Louisiana senator who parrots Vladimir Putin’s talking points in his supine defense of Trump, acts as if there will never be a reckoning. While he has no relation to the president whose name he incongruously bears, his every craven statement bespeaks a confidence that history will count him among the knights of the buffet table in the gilded Mar-a-Lago renovation of Camelot. He is far from alone.

If we can extricate ourselves even briefly from our fatalistic fog, however, we might give some credence to a wider view. For all the damage inflicted since Inauguration Day 2017, America is still standing, a majority of Americans disapprove of Trump, and the laws of gravity, if not those of the nation, remain in full force. Moral gravity may well reassert its pull, too, with time. Rather than being the end of American history as we know it, the Trump presidency may prove merely a notorious chapter in that history. Heedless lapdogs like Kennedy, Devin Nunes, and Lindsey Graham are acting now as if there is no tomorrow, but tomorrow will come eventually, whatever happens in the near future, and Judgment Day could arrive sooner than they think. That judgment will be rendered by an ever-more demographically diverse America unlikely to be magnanimous toward cynical politicians who prioritized pandering to Trump’s dwindling all-white base over the common good.

All cults come to an end, often abruptly, and Trump’s Republican Party is nothing if not a cult. While cult leaders are generally incapable of remorse — whether they be totalitarian rulers, sexual Svengalis, or the self-declared messiahs of crackpot religions — their followers almost always pay a human and reputational price once the leader is toppled. We don’t know how and when Donald Trump will exit, but under any scenario it won’t be later than January 20, 2025. Even were he to be gone tomorrow, the legacy of his most powerful and servile collaborators is already indelibly bound to his.

Whether these enablers joined his administration in earnest, or aided and abetted it from elite perches in politics, Congress, the media, or the private sector, they will be remembered for cheering on a leader whose record in government (thus far) includes splitting up immigrant families and incarcerating their children in cages; encouraging a spike in racist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic vigilantes; leveraging American power to promote ethnic cleansing abroad and punish political opponents at home; actively inciting climate change and environmental wreckage; and surrendering America’s national security to an international rogue’s gallery of despots.

That selective short list doesn’t take into account any new White House felonies still to come, any future repercussions here and abroad of Trump’s actions to date, or any previous foul deeds that have so far eluded public exposure. For all the technological quickening of the media pulse in this century, Trump’s collaborators will one day be viewed through the long lens of history like Nixon’s collaborators before them and the various fools, opportunists, and cowards who tried to appease Hitler in America, England, and France before that. Once Trump has vacated the Oval Office, and possibly for decades thereafter, his government, like any other deposed strongman’s, will be subjected to a forensic colonoscopy to root out buried crimes, whether against humanity or the rule of law or both. With time, everything will come out — it always does. With time, the ultimate fates of those brutalized immigrant and refugee families will emerge in full. And Trump’s collaborators, our Vichy Republicans, will own all of it — whether they were active participants in the wrongdoing like Jared Kushner, Stephen Miller, Kirstjen Nielsen, Mike Pompeo, and William Barr, or the so-called adults in the room who stood idly by rather than sound public alarms for the good of the Republic (e.g., Gary Cohn, John Kelly, Rex Tillerson), or those elite allies beyond the White House gates who pretended not to notice administration criminality and moral atrocities in exchange for favors like tax cuts and judicial appointments (from Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan to Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr.).

Such Trump collaborators are kidding themselves if they think that post-Trump image-laundering through “good works” or sheer historical amnesia will cleanse their names of the Trump taint as easily as his residential complexes in Manhattan have shed their Trump signage. A century of history — and not just American history — says otherwise.

To take two examples from the Nixon era, the White House criminals Charles Colson and Jeb Stuart Magruder both found God and dedicated themselves to ministries after doing time for Watergate-related crimes. (They were among 69 charged and 25 imprisoned.) But you won’t find their ostentatious efforts at spiritual redemption at the top of their Wikipedia entries or referenced more than fleetingly in the vast Nixon-Watergate literature. Nixon lackeys who did nothing illegal generally fared no better: The New Jersey congressman Charles Sandman, a House Judiciary Committee impeachment holdout until a few days before Nixon’s resignation, lost a seat he had held since 1966 in the subsequent 1974 midterms (48 other GOP members of Congress were wiped out as well) and would wind up the decade dishing out steamed crabs at a joint on the Jersey shore and losing a jury trial on the charge of slandering a police officer. When a Senate counterpart, Ed Gurney of Florida, a vocal Nixon defender on Sam Ervin’s Watergate Committee, died in 1996, his family tried to keep his death a secret, presumably to avoid renewed attention to his past.

Some Nixon loyalists on Capitol Hill escaped oblivion — most notably the Mississippi congressman Trent Lott, from a district that had voted 87 percent for Nixon in 1972 (Nixon’s strongest in the nation). So did some White House flacks well removed from Watergate like Pat Buchanan and Diane Sawyer. Others, prefiguring Sean Spicer’s debasement on Dancing With the Stars, landed B-list (and lower) media gigs: The Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy appeared on television’s Miami Vice and MacGyver, and a ditzy Jesuit speechwriter prominent in the White House spin offensive, John McLaughlin, found a secular throne for himself at an odious Beltway chatfest, The McLaughlin Group, after abandoning the priesthood. Like their Trump counterparts, countless Watergate principals wrote tell-all books, many of them best sellers, running the gamut from H. R. Haldeman’s The Ends of Power to John Ehrlichman’s Witness to Power.

But there aren’t any die-hard Nixon supporters in either chamber of Congress who are now remembered as patriots, no matter what else they did with their careers before, during, or after his presidency. The figures who live on are those like Ervin and Judge Sirica, who brought Nixon to justice, and, as the historian David Greenberg has noted, “those loyalists who abandoned Nixon early, when it mattered.”

HuffPost reported in 2017 that the Trump Justice Department took down the portrait of one of the few heroes who stood up to Nixon’s abuses of power from within his administration, Attorney General Elliot Richardson. Whether Richardson’s deaccession was an act of denial, gallows humor, or a conscious or subconscious admission of guilt, it was an impotent gesture — not least because Watergate has with time proved an inadequate analogy for Trump’s metastasizing scandals. The stench of disrepute that will cling to Trump’s collaborators is likely to exceed the posthumous punishment of Nixon’s dead-enders for the simple reason that Nixon’s White House horrors weren’t in the same league.

You don’t have to be a card-carrying fascist to collaborate; you just have to be morally bankrupt and self-serving.

In both cases, impeachment was driven by the revelations of illegal efforts to sabotage a rival presidential candidate and the ensuing cover-ups. But the gravity of the specifics differ by several orders of magnitude. The cash that Nixon & Co. tapped to fund the break-in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters (and the subsequent hush money to the burglars) came from his own donors; Trump, by contrast, sought to bankroll his effort to dig up dirt on the Bidens by appropriating nearly $400 million in Congress-mandated foreign aid paid for by taxpayers. And while the Nixon White House hired freelance bumblers to spy on the Democrats, Trump commandeered a cabal of Cabinet officers, diplomats, and Rudy Giuliani–recruited thugs to try to muscle the head of state of a foreign ally into doing his bidding.

The disproportionality between Trump’s history and Nixon’s hardly ends there. Trump is not Hitler, but some of his actions, starting with his repeated, barely coded endorsements of white supremacists, suggest it’s not for want of trying. Nixon and his vice-president, Spiro Agnew, exploited racial resentments and backlash to the civil-rights movement to attract bigots to the GOP through a new “southern strategy.” Ugly as that was (and is), it pales next to Trump and his campaign’s explicit alignment with those “fine people” who stir hate, bullying, and incendiary alt-right conspiracy theories into an inflammatory dark-web brew. However much Trump’s courtiers try to compartmentalize, they can’t separate themselves from his flirtations with neo-Nazis.

Nor can Trump’s enablers escape the stain of his alliances with murderous neo-Hitlers and neo-Stalins in Russia, Syria, Turkey, Hungary, Brazil, and North Korea. Whatever else is to be said about Nixon, not for a second would he have favored the worldview and national interests of a strongman like Putin over that of America and its allies, or taken Putin’s word as a former KGB agent over that of America’s own intelligence agencies. It’s this aspect of Trumpian rule that sinks to depths previously unfathomable for an American president and makes Trump’s collaborators look less like the corrupt government bureaucrats and hacks of All the President’s Men and more like the traitorous elites who wittingly or idiotically enabled Hitler in the 1930s.

The notion of Vichy Republicans is hardly hyperbole. Christopher R. Browning, an American historian of the Holocaust and World War II–era Europe, wrote in the New York Review of Books in 2018 that those who rationalized their original support for Trump on the grounds of “Better Trump than Hillary” — and are now reupping for 2020 — are channeling those on the right who proclaimed “Better Hitler than Blum” in France in the 1930s. Such Frenchmen, Browning writes, went so far as to empower their country’s “traditional national enemy across the Rhine” and its Nazi dictator rather than reelect the sitting prime minister, Léon Blum, a Jewish socialist who would have preserved French democracy. (In defeat, Blum would become an opponent of Vichy and end up in Buchenwald.)

Make no mistake: The current “Better Trump than Warren” (or Sanders) crowd is repeating this history. Their credo might as well be “Better Putin, Erdogan, and Assad than Warren,” for Trump is serving as an unabashed proxy for our present-day mini-Hitlers while simultaneously trying to transform American democracy into an Ultimate Fighting Championship ring of chaos, corruption, and dysfunction. Prominent Trump supporters like Kennedy, of course, fiercely deny that they are pro-Putin (even though the president himself never has), but that doesn’t vitiate the real-world consequence that by standing with Trump, they are advancing the interests of Russia even as it conducts cyberwar against their own country and threatens some of the same American allies Hitler did.

You don’t have to be a card-carrying fascist to collaborate with fascists and help them seize power; you just have to be morally bankrupt and self-serving. As the authoritative American historian of Vichy France, Robert O. Paxton, has pointed out, it was only “a rather small minority” of France’s wartime collaborators who were motivated by an actual “ideological sympathy with Nazism and Fascism” to go along with the Nazi puppet regime fronted by Marshal Philippe Pétain in Vichy. A more widespread incentive was “personal gain.” Others rationalized their complicity by persuading themselves they were acting in the “national interest.” It would be no surprise if that distribution of motivations persists among Trump collaborators today. Such backers as the financier Stephen Schwarzman and New York real-estate titans like Stephen Ross of Hudson Yards no doubt congratulate themselves on acting in the “national interest” while pocketing personal gains measured in either political influence or on a profit-and-loss statement.

In France, such ostensible moral distinctions among collaborators were rendered moot in the long-delayed and gruesome postwar reckoning. All roads led to the same destination: Starting in 1942, Vichy shipped some 76,000 Jews in mass deportations to their doom. The exiled were mostly foreign refugees, Paxton writes, who had previously “relied upon traditional French hospitality.” Their blood was on every collaborator’s hands. The collaborators’ common postwar defense — that things would have been far worse if they had not been working on the inside — was repurposed by the Trump official responsible for the brutal treatment of immigrants who had relied upon traditional American humanity. “John F. Kelly Says His Tenure As Trump’s Chief of Staff Is Best Measured by What the President Did Not Do” read the headline of the exit interview he gave the Los Angeles Times. Good luck with that in the long-term court of public opinion. France wrestled with Vichy’s legacy for decades before 1995, when the French president Jacques Chirac abjured denial and officially confirmed his nation’s complicity in the wholesale deportation of Jews.

If you look back at the elite figures who lent their clout and prestige to clearing Hitler’s path before or during World War II, it’s striking how such folly and inhumanity remains immutable across national boundaries and centuries. The amalgam of nationalism, isolationism, and nativism embraced by Trump shares its DNA not just with the Pétainists of France but Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement cohort in England and America First, the movement whose name Trump appropriated without (of course) knowing what it was. America First, though originating as a campus-centric peace campaign, was hijacked by a rancid mob of Hitler acolytes and peace-at-any-price dupes that included, most famously, Charles Lindbergh. Many of these Hitler enablers had elaborate rationalizations for their actions that mirror those of Trump’s highest-profile shills today. Robert Taft, the hard-right isolationist senator from Ohio, wrote the script for Better Trump than Hillary–ism nearly a century ago: America should not go to war with Germany, he argued, because “there is a good deal more danger of the infiltration of totalitarian ideas from the New Deal circles in Washington than there will ever be from the activities of the … Nazis.”

Another parallel is exemplified by the Trump collaborator and donor Gordon Sondland, even now, somehow, still the ambassador to the European Union. He’s a zhlubby discount-rack answer to Joseph Kennedy, a far more successful and clever mogul who served as Franklin Roosevelt’s ambassador to the U.K. from 1937 to 1940. Until FDR shut him down, Kennedy tried to conduct a rogue foreign policy to advance Chamberlain’s appeasement efforts to the point of counseling the Nazis that they could get away with brutalizing Jews if they would just do so with less “loud clamor.” Much as Sondland, Trump, and Giuliani thought nothing of leaving Ukraine vulnerable to Putin’s aggression by holding back military aid, so Kennedy thought that Hitler should be free to conquer expendable smaller countries in Eastern Europe. “I can’t for the life of me understand why anybody would want to go to war to save the Czechs,” he wrote in a draft of a speech before the White House nixed it. As went the Czechs then, so have gone the Ukrainians and Kurds today.

The antecedents for Trumpist enablers from the tycoon sector both within and outside the White House — Cohn, Schwarzman, Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, et al. — can be found in those now-vilified captains of 1930s American industry who were prime movers in various back-channel schemes to appease Hitler. The America First Committee’s members included Henry Ford, an unabashed anti-Semite who was name-checked admiringly in Mein Kampf, and Avery Brundage, an Illinois construction magnate and president of the U.S. Olympic Committee who bent to Hitler’s will by yanking the only two Jewish competitors on an American team in the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin. James Mooney, the General Motors overseas president in charge of its European operations and another America First committeeman, took it upon himself to do his own Giuliani-Sondland-like shadow diplomacy by securing face-to-face meetings with Hermann Göring as well as Hitler. He claimed to be seeking peace, but had he succeeded, he would have facilitated Germany’s conquest of Europe much as Trump and his supplicants have been green-lighting the imperial designs of Russia and Turkey.

These businessmen’s machinations did not bring about peace in their time but did bring financial quid pro quos that fattened their bottom lines. Hitler’s regime gave Brundage’s company the commission to build its new embassy in Washington. More than a half-century after V-E Day, researchers confirmed that Ford and GM’s German operations had manufactured armaments for the Nazi war machine, sometimes with slave labor. Alfred P. Sloan, the longtime GM chairman, explained his philosophy: “An international business operating throughout the world should conduct its operations in strictly business terms, without regard to the political beliefs of its management, or the political beliefs of the countries in which it is operating.” Surely Jared Kushner, Mnuchin, and Schwarzman couldn’t have put it any better as they cavorted with Mohammed bin Salman at his investment conference in Riyadh in October, a year after the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi. As with Ford, Brundage, Mooney, and the rest, any loot they accrued in exchange for their pact with the Devil will be unearthed in good time.

While some Hitler appeasers faced swift retribution — FDR shut down Joseph Kennedy’s personal political ambitions for good — others would get their due later. In 1998, nearly four decades after his death, Mooney would at last face an accounting: Newly discovered documents, triggered in part by litigation on behalf of Holocaust survivors, would show, as the Washington Post put it, that in consultation with Göring, “he was involved in the partial conversion of the principal GM automobile plant at Rüsselsheim to production of engines and other parts for the Junker ‘Wunderbomber,’ a key weapon in the German air force.”

One imagines that high-toned Trump collaborators deplore Khashoggi’s murder (though not when in Saudi Arabia). And they may (privately) roll their eyes at Trump’s palling around with bigots. For heaven’s sake, some of them are Jewish themselves, and so is the First Daughter! But America First also claimed to be foursquare against anti-Semitism, despite the fact that Lindbergh, Ford, and Mooney all received medals of appreciation from the Third Reich before the war. Like the Trump White House, the America First Committee deployed token Jews to try to deflect critics, including Florence Kahn, a former Republican congresswoman from California; it even hired a Jew as the first publicity director of its New York chapter. But such disingenuous stunts, like Trump’s soporific teleprompter-scripted condemnation of “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” after mass shootings, didn’t deter American Nazi wannabes from flocking to the organization’s ranks, among them the followers of the unabashedly anti-Semitic radio priest Father Coughlin. Ivanka Trump’s observance of the Sabbath has not stopped her father from retweeting anti-Semitic memes or prevented “Jews Will Not Replace Us” thugs from rallying around #MAGA.

In Hitler in Los Angeles, his groundbreaking recent history of wartime Nazism in California, Steven J. Ross might as well have been writing about Charlottesville when he observes that “America First enabled previously disreputable hate groups to move from the margins to the mainstream of American life and politics.” The anti-Semitic dog whistles of Lindbergh and his prominent peers gave a pass to violent extremist groups of that time like the American Rangers and the Royal Order of American Defenders. The Trump GOP has revived the tradition: Not only did House members meet with Chuck Johnson, a Holocaust denier who raises money for the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, but Florida’s irrepressible freshman congressman Matt Gaetz invited him to cheer Trump at the 2018 State of the Union.

No one can predict posterity’s judgments, but if the past is any guide at all, this is not going to end well for Trump’s collaborators. The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the Unification Church cult leader who was welcomed into the Oval Office by Nixon and whose brainwashed “Moonies” gathered en masse on the Capitol steps to pray and fast for three days during impeachment, may have found his farcical descendants in Trump’s Christian stooges. Witness the offspring of Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell — the Donald Trump Jr.’s, if you will, of America’s pagan Evangelical racket. Franklin Graham has preached an Old Testament parallel between Trump and David, while Jerry Jr. is now fending off inquiries into his and his wife’s antics, business or otherwise, with a pool boy they befriended at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. (For his part, Moon was eventually engulfed by repeated post-Watergate scandals, including a conviction for tax fraud and obstruction of justice that sent him to prison in 1982.) The rhetoric of Nixon’s and Trump’s mad-dog defenders can be interchangeable, too. There’s more than a little of the degraded Lindsey Graham in the legendary Today show appearance by Earl Landgrebe, a die-hard anti-impeachment vote on the House Judiciary Committee, the day before Nixon resigned in August 1974. “Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind,” he said. “I will not vote for impeachment. I’m going to stick with my president even if he and I have to be taken out of this building and shot.” (The voters shot him soon enough; he received only 39 percent of the vote in his safe Indiana district three months later.)

But such similarities understate the case. The stakes are much higher when an American president is putting the nation, and its Constitution, in jeopardy by abusing his power to aid America’s foreign foes. Someone like Graham is less likely to be remembered as another Landgrebe than as another Burton Wheeler, a senator from Montana who began his career as a conventional New Deal Democrat and morphed into an America First Nazi appeaser. As Graham countenanced Trump’s empowering of Putin and his assault on Ukraine, so Wheeler opposed aid to England and other American allies when war broke out in Europe. He is best known now — and may be in perpetuity — as the fascist vice-president to Lindbergh’s president in Philip Roth’s World War II counter-history, The Plot Against America. (David Simon is soon to bring out a television version.)

Mitch McConnell has led another, even graver reenactment of the Hitler-appeasers’ playbook by slow-walking or ignoring intelligence-agency alarms about Russian interference in our elections past, present, and future. His congressional antecedents did the same when Germany tried to sabotage the election of 1940. As the story is told by Susan Dunn, a historian at Williams College, in her 2013 book 1940, the chargé d’affaires at the German Embassy in Washington, Hans Thomsen, wielded “money, a cohort of isolationist congressmen, senators, and authors, and a bag of dirty tricks,” hoping to realize goals tantamount to Putin’s ambitions: “to convince Americans that fascist aggression posed no danger to them, to discourage them from pouring billions of dollars into national defense and military aid for the Allies, and, finally, to engineer Roosevelt’s defeat in 1940.”

Even without social media in his arsenal, Thomsen’s dirty tricks uncannily anticipated Russia’s 21st-century disinformation tactics. He funneled financial aid to an isolationist “Make Europe Pay War Debts” Committee to rile up Americans against European allies, lent aid to ostensibly grassroots organizations with names like “Paul Revere’s Sentinels” rallying against American entry into war with Germany, and clandestinely underwrote newspaper ads lobbying for the same. With a secret subsidy, he paid an isolationist congressman, Hamilton Fish of New York, to corral anti-interventionist colleagues before a GOP convention platform committee to push a resolution “unequivocally opposing any American involvement in the war in Europe.” Thomsen even helped engineer a fake news stunt worthy of Russia’s propaganda schemes on Facebook by using the isolationist Montana representative Jacob Thorkelson to slip a counterfeit Hitler interview into the Congressional Record. It had “Hitler telling a reporter that American fears of him were ‘flattering but grotesque’ and calling the idea of a German invasion of the United States ‘stupid and fantastic.’ ”

Any historical parallels, alas, end there. Germany’s attempted election sabotage failed in 1940. The Republicans nominated Wendell Willkie, an interventionist, as their presidential candidate, rather than an isolationist favored by the Nazis, and the reelected FDR led America to war. By contrast, Russia may have succeeded in moving the electoral needle in 2016, and may again in 2020, with the blessings of the Putin-admiring American president and his quisling of a secretary of State Pompeo, not to mention the pliant Moscow Mitch, the double-dealing Barr, and the rest of their collaborators in the executive branch and Congress.

Those who continue with Trump on this path, if they have any shred of conscience or patriotism left, would be advised to look at their historical predecessors of the appeasement era, not the more forgiving template of Watergate, if they wish to game out their future and that of family members who bear their names. They might recall that Lindbergh was among the most popular figures, if not the most popular, in the nation before lending his voice to America First. He had won the cheers of the world after piloting the first nonstop solo flight over the Atlantic and then its sympathy after his 20-month-old son was murdered in a sensational kidnapping case. More than a decade after V-E Day, when Hollywood decided it was at last safe to profitably resurrect that heroic young Lindbergh in an adulatory 1957 biopic, The Spirit of St. Louis, some theaters refused to book it despite the added halo of the most unimpeachable all-American star, Jimmy Stewart of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Jack Warner reputedly called it “the most disastrous failure” in the history of Warner Bros. In the following decade, Lindbergh inched back into the spotlight as a philanthropist campaigning for the World Wildlife Fund. “I don’t want history to record my generation as being responsible for the extermination of any form of life,” he declared, prompting the popular syndicated columnist Max Lerner to respond, “Where the hell was he when Hitler was trying to exterminate an entire race of human beings?”

Some of Lindbergh’s fellow isolationists sought to reclaim their reputations after the war, too, but as the historian Geoffrey Perret wrote, they “would generally be regarded for years to come as stupid, vicious, pro-Nazi reactionaries, or at least as people blind to the realities of a new day and a menace to their country’s safety.” Taft, the rigidly isolationist senator who bore a White House lineage (William Howard Taft was his father), failed in two subsequent presidential runs after his first attempt imploded as France fell to the Germans in 1940. Once known as the towering “Mr. Republican,” he now is barely remembered even by Republicans.

A comparable figure in England was Lord Londonderry, né Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, a former Tory British air minister whose entanglement with Nazi leaders and push for Anglo-German friendship in the 1930s mirrors Trump, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and their posse’s infatuated courtship of Putin’s Russia. As the English Hitler biographer Ian Kershaw writes in Making Friends With Hitler, Londonderry “spent his later years in a relentless, but fruitless, campaign” for vindication. “Was he, as his detractors claimed, a genuine Nazi sympathizer — ‘a Nazi Englishman’ as he was dubbed? Or was he merely a gullible, naïve and misguided ‘fellow-traveler of the Right’?” Though Londonderry “had no truck with the fanatical fascists, or the wide-eyed cranks and mystics who fell for Hitler lock, stock and barrel,” Kershaw concludes, in the end it didn’t matter.

His actions worked to Hitler’s advantage, and his “reputation was ruined.” His fitting permanent memorial is Lord Darlington, the fictional English aristocrat whose outreach to the Nazis and ensuing downfall are observed with a certain sorrow and pity by his butler, Stevens, in Kazuo Ishiguro’s classic novel The Remains of the Day.

No less a sage than Ted Cruz told friends while preparing his 2016 convention speech that “history isn’t kind to the man who holds Mussolini’s jacket,” according to the Politico journalist Tim Alberta’s account in American Carnage. But so harsh was the base’s blowback after he refused to endorse Trump in that address that he has been holding Mussolini’s jacket ever since.

What are Cruz and all his peers afraid of? “Every member of the French Resistance faced the strong possibility of torture, deportation, and death,” wrote Charles Kaiser, whose book The Cost of Courage tells of one Resistance family during Vichy. “The most a Republican senator risks from opposing a corrupt and racist president is a loss at the polls.” And even at that, there can be rewards down the road. Larry Hogan, the current Republican governor of Maryland, recently reminisced to the New York Times about his father, Lawrence Hogan, who was the first Republican on the House Judiciary Committee to come out in favor of impeaching Nixon in 1974. “He lost friends in Congress,” the younger Hogan recalled. “He lost the support of his constituents and he angered the White House. But history was kind to him. He was known as a courageous guy. I think it’s the thing he is most remembered for and the thing I’m most proud of him for.”

Trump’s enablers and collaborators are more Londonderry than Hogan. It is too late for them to save their reputations. We must hope that it is not too late to save the country they have betrayed.


On the malign influence of Eli Broad in education

This is a good summary by Wendy Lecker on the results of billionaire Eli Broad’s strenuous efforts to reshape American education. Even though Broad’s rhetoric is a lot more progressive than that of the Koch brothers, Broad’s results have not been good at all – not only in human terms, but even on his own terms and using his own benchmarks. I might add that in terms of Broad’s failures, Lecker could have included the Broad-financed reform effort under Michelle Rhee here in Washington DC had a 98% failure rate in reaching its own goals. (See here for a link to my analysis thereof.)


Putting a price tag on public schools

By Wendy Lecker|January 5, 2020

When it comes to using one’s fortune to influence American policy, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch stand out.

The Kochs have spent a fortune pushing American politics and policy to the right. Their secretive organization, Americans for Prosperity, is a major player in anti-labor activities, such as Wisconsin’s slashing of union rights, and fighting minimum wage increases nationwide. The Kochs poured money into the American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”) a stealth lobby organization that writes bills that advance Koch industries’ interests specifically and the Koch’s extreme free market ideology in general, and then gets legislators all over the country to introduce them.

They have also donated millions of dollars to establish research centers at universities to push their brand of unregulated capitalism. They impose conditions and performance obligations on the donations, interfere in hiring decisions, and make curriculum and programming decisions. The Kochs often demand pre-approval of any public statements and include anti-transparency provisions in donor agreements. This research is then cited as the scholarly basis for Congressional decisions favoring the Kochs’ interests. The Kochs are proud of their integrated strategy to build a pipeline of influence. The president of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation boasted that “(n)o one else has this infrastructure.”

Eli Broad, a billionaire who made his fortune through real estate and insurance, seeks to build a Koch-style infrastructure to push his education reform ideology. Broad recently announced that, with a $100 million donation, he is bringing his Broad Center to Yale’s School of Management (“SOM”).

The Broad Center trains school district leaders and those who seek to influence education policy. The center emphasizes applying business principles to running school districts and de-emphasizes education. In seeking candidates, the Broad Center prioritizes “a strong and direct alignment with specific (Broad Center) reform priorities” — which include school privatization and weakening labor protections. The Center openly aims to reshape American public education according to Broad’s ideology.

Eli Broad is a major player in some of the most aggressive — and controversial- education reform policies in America. Like the Kochs, Broad employs an integrated strategy of influence. For example, he bankrolled the education reform slate in the Los Angeles 2018 school board election. His star beneficiary, charter operator Ref Rodriguez, later resigned from the board and pled guilty to felony election fraud conspiracy. Broad also poured millions into Broad alumnus and charter operator Marshall Tuck’s 2018 unsuccessful campaign for California State Superintendent.

Broad used his money and influence to push the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) to run Detroit’s public schools. He provided significant funding and even summoned Broad alumnus and then Kansas City superintendent, John Covington, to be its first chancellor. Covington had wreaked havoc on Kansas City, firing hundreds of teachers and replacing them with inexperienced Teach for America members, and imposing other disruptive reforms. After his chaotic departure, Kansas City’s school district lost its accreditation. It then abandoned Covington’s reforms to regain its footing.

Covington left the EAA abruptly after charges of questionable spending, and the Broad Center hired him. The EAA was a devastating failure, plagued by financial mismanagement and abysmal academic failures.

A succession of Broad alumni ran Tennessee’s failed Achievement School District, which was also plagued by financial mismanagement and poor student achievement — worse than in schools under local district control.

Broad alumni were forced out of Seattle and Los Angeles amid financial impropriety, and Barbara Byrd Bennett, a Broad executive coach, is in federal prison after pleading guilty to a bribery scandal in which she engaged while head of Chicago Public Schools.

These scandals reflect poorly on Broad’s emphasis on applying business practices to school districts.

Much like the Koch’s foray into higher education, Broad’s move to SOM seems like an effort to profit from Yale’s name and perhaps sanitize the questionable track record of Broad alumni. Since Yale has no school of education — unlike other universities in New Haven — Broad’s interest is not to bolster any knowledge of how children can learn successfully.

In an effort to discern how much of the Koch playbook Broad is employing at Yale, I asked SOM about Broad’s involvement in the governance, curriculum, programming and hiring at SOM’s new center. After first indicating they would run these questions by SOM’s dean, SOM now fails to respond, despite my request for follow-up. Apparently, SOM’s Broad Center is adopting the Koch’s lack of transparency.

It is disturbing that a major university is helping enlarge the Broad pipeline, which has funneled scandal and upheaval across American public schools.


Wendy Lecker is a columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group and is senior attorney at the Education Law Center

If Almighty God existed…

Wouldn’t it be great if God really existed?

If there in fact existed an almighty, supreme being that had created the entire universe and was one that we could actually communicate with, it would be beyond awesome!

I know that most (but not all) religions claim there is such a being, and there are lots of folks who claim that God talks you them, but I don’t believe their stories. Here’s why.

Had I the ability to communicate with such a supreme being, I would probably express my awe — I mean, this Being (or whatever) created the ENTIRE FRIGGING UNIVERSE and our lovely planet! It is beyond awesome (as I said before)!!!

Knowing a few of the big questions that science has so far not figured out how to answer (and may never be able to answer), I would have a few of my own.

My first one would probably be “How did you do it? How did you bring forth the entire universe from nothing — or is our understanding of the Big Bang all wrong?”

If I could, I might continue like this:

“As You probably know, astronomical measurements seem to show that the universe is about 14 or 15 billion years old, and that the universe is expanding at an accelerating speed? Did we get that right?

“Anomalies indicate that either Newtonian mechanics need modifying, or else most of the visible universe is made of some dark matter. Which is it?

“And what about dark energy — is that real?

“Was Einstein right?

“When and how did humans develop the power of speech?

“Do we really need to worry about anthropogenic global warming, or not?”

Unfortunately for every single religion I’ve ever come across, none of their gods ever seem to volunteer any answers to these big questions.

Published in: on January 11, 2020 at 4:59 pm  Comments (10)  

Religiosity vs Poverty and Education

This is from Quora. The USA is a real outlier, but in general the poorer a country is, the more religious its people are, and vice versa; also, the more education, the less religiosity.

Q: Have countries that have learned towards atheism failed more than countries that have acknowledged God?

A: Let’s check.

The table below has the ten most and least religious countries according to Gallup, followed by how many think religion is important, followed by GDP per capita according to IMF.

1: Estonia: religious score 16%, GDP/capita $22,990

2: Sweden: religious score 17%, GDP/capita $53,873

3: Denmark: religious score 19%, GDP/capita $60,692

4: Norway: religious score 21%, GDP/capita $81,695

5: Czech republic: religious score 21%, GDP/capita $22,850

6: Japan: religious score 24%, GDP/capita $39,306

7: Hong Kong: religious score 24%, GDP/capita $48,517

8: United Kingdom: religious score 27%, GDP/capita $42,558

9: Finland: religious score 28%, GDP/capita $42,878

10: Vietnam: religious score 30%, GDP/capita $2,551


149: Djibouti: religious score 98%, GDP/capita $2,085

150: Mauritania: religious score 98%, GDP/capita $1,143

151: Sri Lanka: religious score 99%, GDP/capita $4,068

152: Malawi: religious score 99%, GDP/capita $351

153: Indonesia: religious score 99%, GDP/capita $3,871

154: Yemen: religious score 99%, GDP/capita $872

155: Niger: religious score 100%, GDP/capita $477

156: Ethiopia: religious score 100%, GDP/capita $853

157: Somalia: religious score 100%, GDP/capita $499*

158. Bangladesh: religious score 100%, GDP/capita $1,745

*Not in IMF’s dataset; World Bank used instead.

But that data isn’t very intuitive. Sure, there’s at least a factor 10 difference between the least religious countries and the most religious countries, but how can we illustrate it more clearly? Well, how about a graph:

Although Pew chose to highlight the US and its strong outlier as a wealthy nation with high religiosity, the interesting thing is the inverse correlation between GDP/capita and religiosity. It really seems to imply that in general, success and irreligion are connected.

But how? In the same dataset, Pew also makes another important observation, namely of education.

This correlation is much stronger. And we already know that education and wealth are strongly correlated.

But it’s not quite that simple. Pew makes yet another observation, of income inequality and religion:

But what we can take away from this is that the poorer a country is, and the greater the income inequality is, and the poorer educated a country is, the more religious it is in general.

Or expressed even more bluntly: shithole country ≈ religious country.


Importance of religion by country – Wikipedia

List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita – Wikipedia

Religious observance by age and country

Published in: on January 10, 2020 at 9:31 am  Comments (7)  
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