Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Links / Open Forum

Bibi and Barack are feuding, the crazy Florida pastor is on the loose, people are rioting over a cheesy movie, Mitt Romney is running for president on the Likud ticket, and the Democratic Party is finally outing itself as a group of anti-labor corporate shills by refusing to stand with the public school teachers and the poor kids of Chicago.

The maelstrom of current events reminds me of that old Sheldon Harnick song called "The Merry Minuet." It was written in 1949, and recorded in the 60s by the Kingston Trio -- one of whom remarked in this clip that the lyrics were as timely back then as they were way back then, and even pre-back then.  The crap of life is forever. "The whole world is festering with unhappy souls," the lyrics go. We have been threatening to annihilate one another ever since we first started roaming the earth.


The Chicago teachers' strike has become the national symbol of the battle of corporations against people. It's the best thing to happen since the Occupy movement. It provides irrefutable proof that the two major political parties are two sides of the same corrupt coin. Paul Ryan hearts Rahm Emanuel, and droves of people are calling out the bullshit just in time for the election. But as far as the mainstream media are concerned, this strike proves that there is no incident of social upheaval that cannot be tied to how it will personally effect Barack Obama. Even the neoliberal New York Times has dropped all pretense and outed itself as an anti-union administration mouthpiece But some truly insightful reporting can be found here and here.

The Romney and Obama campaigns are shocked and outraged at the attacks on the American embassies.... or rather, shocked and appalled at each other's shock and outrage.  There is no tragedy that cannot be tied to the presidential horse-race, even on the phony 9/11 holiday truce.

And here's more on the Grade Z movie that started it all.

Yep... as the song says, we can certainly be thankful, and tranquil, and proud.


Pearl said...

Thank you Karen for cluing us in about the teacher's strike in Chicago. I have been watching this development with great interest and the referrals for articles you gave us are very informative about the liason between Obama and Emanuel in this new development. The teachers are obviously aware of the political dimensions of their actions including the move toward privatization of the schools by starving the ones operating in lower income neighborhoods. Also, Jill Stein, will be joining them and several commentors are changing their votes to her.
This COULD be the start of something important but will have to see how far they have to compromise. Enough votes for a third party could change the dimensions of who wins the presidency if it is a close race. And hopefully, other school districts in other cities are watching closely. I hope Emanuel has met his match with the teacher's union in Chicago.
The article you listed to read under Crooks and Liars about Rahm shortchanging the public schools is very informative as well.

Kat said...

As far as I can tell, the only time Obama is praising unions is when he is saluting their acceptance of a two tiered wage structure or making other concessions.
That one brought down the house.

Anyhoo-- Goodness, between saving sex workers and helpless Africans, where does Nic Kristof find the time to pen his incredibly well researched op eds?
I'm not even going to address his demonization of teacher unions or his idea that "school reform" has anything to do with the children. I'll take issue with the very premise that "The most important civil rights battleground today is education, and, likewise, the most crucial struggle against poverty is the one fought in schools."
No, Mr. Kristof- educational opportunity (or equality of opportunity) is a piss poor substitute for true anti poverty measures-- a raise in the minimum wage, a more progressive tax code, strengthening worker rights, taking measures to bring down the trade deficit, a financial transaction tax, an industrial policy, and a government jobs program-- and the recognition that the government should serve as an employer of last resort.
I certainly don't expect Mr. Kristof to recognize these realities. He is the true journalistic equivalent of Clinton/Obama-- a neoliberal wolf in sheep's clothing. And, he plays well to the classes that like to believe they have a real interest in helping those less fortunate, but really fear true equality because this might entail sacrificing some of their privilege.

Denis Neville said...

Chicago teachers

Why do so many hate teachers’ unions?

In order to weaken the Chicago Teachers’ Union, opponents have portrayed it as a selfish, bureaucratic obstacle to quality education. “I cannot describe the moral repugnance of this strike by aggrieved middle-class ‘professionals’ against the aspiring poor,” says one critic.

“It wasn’t so long ago that 49% of Chicago’s teachers were Black or Latino. The number is now 19%. It’s not just charters, or privatization, it’s also about getting rid of decently paid teachers who might someday get pensions. It’s part of the downsizing of America.” – Deb Meier

It is a continuation of the attacks on public-sector unions. Local and state budget crises are providing the justification to go after public-sector unions. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association represent the biggest single sector of unionized workers and they are the central target of the war on labor. The expansion of mostly non-union charter schools using public funds has been a useful way to eliminate or weaken teachers’ unions. This neoliberal assault on education has the potential to destroy public schools and teachers’ unions within the next decade.

The CTU strike is not about wages or benefits. It is a fight for the very survival of a predominately female profession done on behalf of children that has been under relentless attack by "reformers." The CTU is led by an African-American woman in the Chicago school district where 40 percent of the children are black.

As the government’s education policy has shifted from an emphasis on equity to calls for “excellence,” responsibility for public education’s failures has also shifted from government to individual schools and teachers. School reform is predicated on testing students and holding teachers accountable for their results. Performance pay only increases the stakes on already high-stakes testing that is both biased and a poor gauge of actual student learning.

"Instead of seeing these children for the blessings that they are, we are measuring them only by the standard of whether they will be future deficits or assets for our nation's competitive needs." - Jonathan Kozol

Performance pay punishes teachers in schools in poorer districts, where they must deal with much larger challenges to improving their students’ learning outcomes, while teachers in more affluent schools and districts are rewarded. Teachers are pitted against each other by pay for performance to produce higher standardized test scores by their students. This creates an atmosphere of competition rather than collaboration that is so essential for good teaching.

“There is something deeply hypocritical in a society that holds an inner-city child only eight years old "accountable" for her performance on a high-stakes standardized exam but does not hold the high officials of our government accountable for robbing her of what they gave their own kids six or seven years before.” - Jonathan Kozol, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America

Jay - Ottawa said...

I’ve been away, but what a pleasure coming back to catch up on Sardonicky – both Karen’s unusually fine posts and the thoughtful, even moving, remarks by commenters recently, especially about 9/11.

As for today’s talk about the teachers’ strike, bingo @Kat for unmasking that “neoliberal wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Nicholas Kristof. You limn him with a sharp eye.

Is it paranoid or perceptive to wonder whether Rahm Emanuel is trying to do to teachers’ unions the same thing that Ronald Reagan did to the air traffic controllers?

“ … responsibility for public education’s failures has also shifted from government to individual schools and teachers.” @ Denis

This shifting of blame to the front line is an old pattern, often used, by shifty administrators. With rare exception, administrators in every field of work can be expected to please the bosses and screw the front line. The workers always seem to be letting down the paper pushers. Yeah, right. And, as Denis adds in quoting Jonathan Kozol, the blame is even further pushed off onto the eight-year-olds for whom the bureaucracy was created in the first place.

When journalists like Karen can get a column as long as a Kristof, when Kozol becomes the Secretary of Education, when corporatists are seen as the destroyers, not unions, when our military stops bullying the rest of the world, the US will deserve the peace it wants at home and abroad.

The First Nations in Canada have a saying, still quoted up here now and then as an ideal. The US, drunk and reeling from its individualism gone wild, has got to find the truth in the following idea if the nation is to survive as a sound society: “We all drink from the same bowl.”

Denis Neville said...

Reliable stupidity: endless runs in a military squirrel cage producing lots of future anti-American terrorism

“Benghazi-Style Blowback an Integral Part of Terror War System,” Chris Floyd: “Blood will have blood; that's certain. But blood will not end it. For murder is fertile: it breeds more death, like a spider laden with a thousand eggs. Every day that this war goes on - a war instigated and maintained in the deceitfully-evoked name of the victims of 9/11 - we breed another writhing mass of spiders swollen to bursting with future death.”

"A crucial task is to perceive how our compassion is channeled towards some and away from others. It's the foundation of all mass violence." - Media Lens

Excerpts from Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr.’s speech “Nobody’s Century: The American Prospect in Post-Imperial Times”

“Since 9/11, Americans have chosen to stake our domestic tranquility on our ability – under our commander-in-chief – to rule the world by force of arms rather than to lead, as we had in the past, by the force of our example or our arguments. And we appear to have decided in the process that it is necessary to destroy our civil liberties in order to save them and that abandoning the checks and balances of our Constitution will make us more secure. Meanwhile, our military-industrial complex and its flourishing antiterrorist sidekick have been working hard to invent a credible existential challenge to match that of the Cold War. This has produced constantly escalating spending on military and antiterrorist projects, but it has not overcome the reality that Americans now face no threat from abroad comparable to Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, or the USSR. The only real menace to our freedoms is our own willingness to supplant the rule of law with ever more elements of a garrison state.

“The so-called “global war on terror” or “militant Islam,” as so many now openly describe it, has become an endless run in a military squirrel cage that is generating no light but a lot of future anti-American terrorism. It turns out that all that is required to be hated is to do hateful things. Ironically, as we “search abroad for monsters to destroy,” we are creating them – transforming our foreign detractors into terrorists, multiplying their numbers, intensifying their militancy, and fortifying their hatred of us. The sons and brothers of those we have slain know where we are. They do not forget. No quarter is given in wars of religion. We are generating the very menace that entered our imaginations on 9/11.

“Over the course of the past decade and more, we have amply demonstrated our capacity for willful obstinacy. No one now doubts that we are prepared to persevere in failing policies for as long as it takes them to fail. But, neither our allies nor our adversaries have been much impressed by our willingness to continue mindlessly to do things that neither serves our interests nor have any prospect of doing so. Reliable stupidity is still stupidity. Few admire it.

“The 'American Century' is now behind us. As a country, we have fallen pretty low. We are in an unacknowledged depression. Our politics are paralyzing and our fiscal situation is dire. Our longstanding grand strategy of containment succeeded and thereby became irrelevant. We've failed to adjust to the new world this remarkable success created or to develop an effective strategy to deal with it. The lack of situational awareness can have serious consequences, as 9/11 should have shown us. Technology is now such that anyone we bomb anywhere in the world can find a way to bomb us back.”

d12345 said...

Denis , Great stuff as usual....the Floyd quotes are great.

But I have to question Mr. Freeman.

“Since 9/11, Americans have chosen to stake our domestic tranquility on our ability – under our commander-in-chief – to rule the world by force of arms rather than to lead, as we had in the past, by the force of our example or our arguments."

Does anyone who reads this blog believe this romantic ahistorical twaddle? I hope not.

This country built on slavery, genocide and imperial wars, destroyed every third world incipient democracy for 200 years. Somoza, Diem, Pinochet, Baptista, and every other criminal was propped up without any "force of argument."

As Toscanini used to say about opera performances...
"There was no golden age."

d12345 said...

Make that Batista!