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Harry Reid retired from the Senate after many years of service. In this interview, he gives his candid appraisal of FBI Director James Comer and Russiagate.


My view: the election of a totally unqualified demagogue is a disaster for our country. Every new appointment demonstrates Trump’s far-right radicalism. Every person he has chosen is either a military general, a billionaire, or someone determined to destroy the mission of the agency he/she will lead. Or both.

The latest reports say that Trump is likely to appoint ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.


His first qualification, from Trump’s point of view, is that he has no government experience whatever. He has spent the past 41 years working at ExxonMobil. He also has no diplomatic experience. That makes him just right for the Trump cabinet, where knowledge and experience are seen as handicaps.


His second qualification is that he has a long and apparently close relationship with Trump’s friend Vladimir Putin. He was doing billions of dollars of business with the Russian oligarch and opposed the economic sanctions on Russia after it invaded Crimea.


But, from a Trumpian perspective, Tillerson has one defect: He was the leading advocate for the Common Core in the corporate world. He sold it as the sine qua non for the future of the nation, which of course was nonsense, but he believed it.


Well, Trump has Betsy DeVos, who used to support Common Core but stopped when Trump asked her.


They could switch jobs and it wouldn’t matter, since neither is qualified.


Want to read more about Rex and the Common Core?
Why Is Exxon Mobil So Aggressive in Promoting Common Core?


When Exxon Mobil, GE, Intel, and others pushed for the education standards, they incurred the wrath of Tea Party conservatives and got a painful lesson in modern politics.
How Business Got Schooled in the War Over Common Core


CFR CEO Speaker Series: A Conversation with Rex W. Tillerson









One of the curiosities of the presidential campaign was the evangelicals’ embrace of a man who has been married three times, runs casinos, and who lives a life of ostentation (not to mention the nude photos on the Internet of his third wife).


Now the evangelicals are getting the rewards they sought in Trump’s appointments.



Encouraged by Trump’s cabinet picks, conservative Christians want many of Obama’s social policies reversed

CHARLESTON, S.C.—After nearly a decade, the Christian right is emerging from the political wilderness.
Donald Trump’s victory is giving new life to socially conservative causes that have suffered a string of defeats in recent years, potentially reigniting culture wars that many liberals had hoped were all but over.
Conservative Christians who had despaired of the country’s direction under President Barack Obama—and of developments such as the legalization of same-sex marriage—now expect to wield influence in an administration that they helped bring to power.

They are pressing for a ban on late-term abortions; expanded accommodation for religion in the workplace, at hospitals and elsewhere; and, above all, the appointment of conservative judges.

Already, social conservatives are taking up positions in Mr. Trump’s cabinet. Tom Price, a forceful voice for expanding religious liberty and a vehement opponent of the Obamacare contraception mandates, was tapped last week to become secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Ben Carson, a Christian who has frequently spoken out against gay and transgender rights, was chosen to be secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“I hope we can restore our country to a God-fearing nation again,” Sindy Mills, 37, who voted for Mr. Trump, said outside of Charleston Baptist Church. She said America had turned away from God with “the same-sex marriage issue and abortion and taking God out of the schools.”

Despite these expectations, the religious right’s goals have shifted since the last time Republicans were in power—reflecting the difficulty of reversing social changes that occurred during the Obama years.

Few conservative Christians are calling for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, as they did during President George W. Bush’s tenure. Instead, their immediate goals are more incremental.

In interviews, social conservatives said they expect Mr. Trump to promptly rescind an Obama administration executive order that bans federal contractors from discriminating against gay, lesbian and transgender people. They also anticipate that health-care regulations that require Catholic hospitals to offer contraception will be reversed, something Vice President-elect Mike Pence, a staunch social conservative, promised during the campaign.

In the long term, many evangelicals are hoping that conservative judges will overturn rulings on social issues including gay marriage and Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that established a nationwide right to abortion access.

“There’s no question we are losing the culture war, but we haven’t lost it,” said Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary. “There’s been incalculable damage done by Mr. Obama, but much of it can be undone just by undoing his executive orders.”

Mr. Trump, who grew up in a Presbyterian church and has since attended a Reformed Church in America congregation, said in June: “Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence.” He added, “I consider the Christian religion so important.”


Ultimately, more than 80% of white evangelical Christians voted for Mr. Trump, as did 52% of Catholics. Mr. Land said that evangelicals realize Mr. Trump isn’t “one of them,” but they have been encouraged by his defense of religious freedom and by appointments to the Trump administration, especially Mr. Pence.

Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s choice for education secretary, said in the past that she wanted to work in education to “advance God’s kingdom,” according to a recording obtained by Politico.

Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University and one of Mr. Trump’s earliest and most steadfast evangelical backers, said he was initially offered the secretary of education post. He turned it down, he said, citing family concerns but continues to counsel Mr. Trump by phone.

“He’s going to end up being for conservatives another Ronald Reagan,” said Mr. Falwell, whose father of the same name founded in the late 1970s Moral Majority, an organization that helped launch the modern religious right.


“Probably better than Ronald Reagan in a lot of ways….”

“God gave our country a break,” said Alan Sears, chief executive officer of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal organization that advocates for religious liberty, in a video posted on the group’s website. As he asked for donations, he said: “We can either move ahead and halt evil, or we can flounder and think that somebody else will take care of the problem for us.”





Rev. Charles Foster Johnson has organized strong resistance to the vouchers touted by the most powerful elected official in Texas, not the governor, but the Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a former talk show host. Rev. Johnson is leader to Pastors for Texas Children, which has 2,000 members across the state. They are united in their opposition to vouchers and their support for public schools. Year after year, they have defeated vouchers in the legislature, and they are gearing up to fight them again. You can read more about his and his organization here.


I am happy to place Rev. Johnson and Pastors for Texas Children on the blog’s honor roll for their stalwart defense of public schools, of the children of Texas, of religious liberty, and of the principle of separation of church and state.



Johnson, 59, is the Fort Worth-based executive director of Pastors for Texas Children, a network of about 2,000 church leaders around the state who work to support pubic schools.


Johnson and his group have emerged as chief adversaries of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Patrick champions a breed of education reform forged around vouchers — which steer money from public schools to parents to pay private school tuition.


“The lieutenant governor said, a couple of weeks ago, he’ll keep bringing it up until it passes,” Foster told the pastors, who were gathered for a meeting of Texas Baptists Committed in Waco. “It’s up to us to stop him.”


In his baritone southern drawl, Johnson told the pastors that vouchers siphon funds from schools in low-income neighborhoods and violate the separation of church and state enshrined in the First Amendment. School vouchers contradict God’s law of religious liberty, he said, by providing government support for religion.


The organization’s mission is twofold: To advocate for public education with state lawmakers and to mobilize individual churches to support public schools by providing services such as student mentoring and teacher appreciation events.


Members have linked dozens of churches with public schools, met with more than 100 lawmakers since the organization’s inception in 2013, and published dozens of anti-school voucher editorials in newspapers across Texas.

This study appears in the Education Policy Analysis Archives. Written by Michelle Gautreaux and Sandra Delgado of the University of British Columbia in Canada, it describes the origins of Teach for All, the international wing of TFA, which destroys the teaching profession and unions wherever it goes.

Here is the abstract:

“This article employs narrative analysis to examine how the media in 12 different countries characterize the Teach for All (TFA) teacher. Examining mass media narratives in these 12 countries illustrates that there are some remarkable commonalities in the narratives and character portraits co-constructed and propagated by the media. At the core of these narratives is the notion of a problem in education. This problem justifies the creation and emergence of a character, commonly constructed in opposition to traditionally certified teachers, who embodies the characteristics and attributes of the contemporary neoliberal subject. This article discusses the implications of this character’s widespread representation; namely, how does the character construction influence the broader public perception about education and how is it contributing to the (re)imagination of the role of the teacher?”

Where did Wendy Kopp get the idea for Teach for All? At a meeting sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative. She suddenly realized she could bring her money-making plan to the rest of the world, appearing to do good while obliterating the teaching profession and unions.

John Merrow and his wife joined a group to tour historic sites of the civil rights movement in Mississippi. His post contains the stories and photographs of those frightening times when people put their lives at risk for the right to vote, the right to equal treatment before the law.


He recounts history that must not be forgotten: the story of Medger Evers, brutally assassinated; the story of the murder of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman, brutally murdered and buried in an earthen dam; the black church, one among many, burned and rebuilt.


I remember these events vividly. I followed them daily in the news. This past is not past.

I attended a lecture recently at the New York Public Library and heard Paul Krugman speak. The general atmosphere was somber, as it was clear that he was depressed about the election, as were the 1,500 or so people in the audience. To all the pundits who extract lessons for the Democrats, Krugman pointed out that Hillary now has a lead of 2.7 million votes. But she lost because of the Electoral College, which was put into the Constitution to placate the slave states. He also talked about the carelessness of the media, which pushed Trymp’s trope about the emails, when there was nothing in them. He faulted the media for making a big deal out of Trump’s over-publicized deal to save 750 or so jobs. He pointed out that 75,000 people are fired or laid off every single day, so this was an insignicant blip.
His lecture reminded me of a post-election analysis by Nate Silver. He is a numbers guru who has an interesting website. I followed him during the campaign, and he was more cautious than other pollsters but still predicted a Clinton win. By analyzing voting patterns, he discovered that the best predictor of votes for Trump or Clinton was education. Where there were high levels of BA degrees, Clinton won. Where there were the lowest, Trump won. 
Trump was right when he declared during the GOP primaries: 
“I love the uneducated!”
Let’s watch and see what he does to their healthcare, their schools, and the economy.

Mike Konzcal of the Roosevelt Institute sat down and watched Donald Trump’s campaign speeches in search of the rhetoric that turned out to be effective.


Contrary to common belief, working people are not turned off by the rich; if anything, they admired Trump’s opulence and outrageous displays of ostentation. He had made it; they could too. Sort of like Trump University, where the Master of Money promised that  you too could get rich by studying his example.


What Konczal realized after a time was that Trump focused on jobs and wages and spoke in simplistic language that fired up the crowds and led them to believe that he could restore good jobs that had been lost to automation and free trade. Trump made promises that he could not keep but did not care. In that sense, he was like other demagogues in history who make bold promises while scapegoating the “others,” the minorities who are to blame for our problems.


He writes:


His speeches are full of virulent ethnic nationalism, to be sure — that’s what I noticed during the campaign — but he also has a way of approaching the economy that sabotages Democratic positions effectively, even when those positions are strong.
There was a time I assumed if the Democrats “moved left” they could win over the working class, even those who don’t usually vote. Now I realize that this move is far more complicated than simply getting past neoliberalism. With Trump at the helm of the conservative movement for the foreseeable future, creating effective agendas and messages that hit home will be even harder.


Trump talked about jobs. All the time. This gets lost in the coverage, which focused on the inflammatory scandals. Listen:


When I win on November 8, I am going to bring back your jobs. The long nightmare of jobs leaving Michigan will be coming to an end. We will make Michigan the economic envy of the world once again. The political class in Washington has betrayed you. They’ve uprooted your jobs, and your communities, and shipped your wealth all over the world. They put new skyscrapers up in Beijing while your factories in Michigan crumbled. I will end the theft of American prosperity. I will fight for every last Michigan job. — Trump, Michigan, October 31, 2016
It’s the first and most consistent thing he discusses. It’s implied that he’s speaking of a specific kind of job, a white, male, breadwinning manufacturing job. He doesn’t discuss “the economy” and how it could work for all, he doesn’t talk about inequality, he doesn’t talk about automation and service work. He just declares that you will have a high-paying manufacturing job when he is president…


Trump never blames the rich for people’s problems. He doesn’t mention corporations, or anything relating to class struggle. His economic enemies are Washington elites, media, other countries, and immigrants. Even when financial elites and corporations do something, they are a combination of pawns and partners of DC elites.


It’s important to watch that trick, it conceals who has agency under runaway inequality. From a June speech in western Pennsylvania: “Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization, moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas. Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache.” The rich buy politicians (and Trump, of course, can’t be bought!) but he doesn’t turn around and denigrate those rich people.


Now, as we watch Trump staff his cabinet with billionaires and generals, we must be prepared to hold him accountable for making promises that he has already forgotten. His idea of “Make America Great Again” seems to be to turn the clock back a century, when corporations, working conditions, and the climate were unregulated. That would be the 1920s. In the field of education, he seems to want to turn the clock back two centuries, before there were public schools. At that time, states gave money to religious schools in some communities, like New York City. The idea of public schools, open to all, was a victory for democracy. If he really wanted to make America great again, he would want to make our public schools the best in the world. But he doesn’t. He wants to replace them with vouchers and charters. Back to 1820.


Newly elected presidents often reward big donors an ambassadorship. Thanks for your $3 million, how about the ambassadorship to Sweden? Too cold? How about Jamaica?


But Donald Trump has given major posts to six of his big donors.


One of them them is Betsy DeVos, who gave $1.8 million.


The fact that most of his cabinet consists of generals and billionaires can only be seen as his love of winners. Winners like him.


Donald Trump will continue as executive producer of ” The New Celebrity Apprentice,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, after his inauguration.


The role nets him hundreds of thousands annually, and he is not giving it up. He is not releasing his tax returns. Ivanka’s product line is now featured in Walmart.


Who knew that winning the presidency would open the door to so many lucrative deals?


Vladimir Putin must be enjoying the farce as we become the laughing stock of the world. Keep your eyes on Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.