Archives for category: Politics

Veteran journalist Mark Liebovich notes in this opinion article In the New York Times how Trump has ditched the long-time tradition of bipartisan unity in the face of national crisis.

There used to be a tradition that politics stops at the water’s edge, meaning a bipartisan foreign policy. That’s gone. In the aftermath of 9/11, politics was replaced by shared mourning. Liebovich notes the failure to mark the anniversary of the terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City, as well as Trump’s natural tendency to turn the current crisis into political fodder. No more reaching across the aisle. With rare exceptions, like the Senate report on Russian interference in 2026, bipartisanship is dead. One thinks sadly of the late Senator John McCain’s plea for a return to regular order,” which was spurned by Trump and Mitch McConnell, in their eagerness to push through a radical right agenda and to stuff the judiciary with extremist judges.

Liebovich writes:

WASHINGTON — Last weekend, an anniversary of the kind that would have once united the country in reflection — the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, 25 years ago — passed without much in the way of comment. As the days inside pile up, our usual approach to a national moment of remembrance appeared lost to the fog of time, germs and Trump era news cycles.

The lack of attention was cast in relief by one person who did speak up: Former President Bill Clinton, who for a variety of reasons seems to have receded from public view since his wife was defeated by Donald Trump for the presidency in 2016. Mr. Clinton, the embattled first-term president of early 1995, would become the dominant presence in the brittle aftermath of Oklahoma City. The various psychodramas of his two terms can obscure the significance of the incident as a political marker of that era; now, it is a global pandemic that is seizing attention from Washington traditions like civic remembrance and bipartisan affirmation.

“In many ways, this is the perfect time to remember Oklahoma City and to repeat the promise we made to them in 1995 to all Americans today,” Mr. Clinton said in an op-ed that ran last Sunday in The Oklahoman.

It’s easy to dismiss this as boilerplate pulled straight from the “stuff politicians say” binder. But its tone is also conspicuous in how it contrasts with the words to a nation in need of solace and mending that come from the current White House.

One of the recurring features of the Trump years has been the president’s knack for detonating so many of our powerful shared experiences into us-versus-them grenades. Whether it’s the anniversary of a national catastrophe like the Oklahoma City bombing, the death of a widely admired statesman (Senator John McCain) or a lethal pathogen, Mr. Trump has exhibited minimal interest in the tradition of national strife placing a pause upon the usual smallness of politics.

In this fractured political environment, the president has shown particular zest for identifying symbols that reveal and exacerbate cultural divisions. Kneeling football players, plastic straws and the question of whether a commander in chief should be trumpeting an untested antimalarial drug from the White House briefing room have all become fast identifiers of what team you’re on. Looming sickness and mass death are no exception. The reflex to unite during a period of collective grief feels like another casualty of the current moment.

It used to be a norm, back before everything got stripped down to its noisiest culture war essence. Tradition dictated that whenever a national loss or trauma occurred, political combatants would stand down, at least for a time. President George W. Bush could embrace Senator Tom Daschle, then the Democratic majority leader, after an emotional address that Mr. Bush delivered to a joint session of congress in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. President Barack Obama did the same with Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, when Mr. Obama visited the state and saw the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

To varying degrees, both Mr. Daschle and Mr. Christie caught heat from within their parties after the crises faded into the past and partisan engines revved up again. At the time, though, the gestures felt appropriate and stature-enhancing for everyone involved. Those dynamics have since shifted considerably.

“I think we’re dealing with a whole different world and set of personalities,” said Mr. Daschle, now a former senator from South Dakota, adding that acts of solidarity during adverse times benefit all parties. “I remember after 9/11, congressional approval was something like in the ’80s, and for the president it was around the same,” he said.

Oklahoma City also offered a political gift to Mr. Clinton, a battered leader whose party had lost control of Congress the year before and who had, a few days earlier, found himself defending the “relevance” of his office. Mr. Clinton performed his role of eulogist and comforter, won bipartisan praise for his “performance” and an increase of good will that would eventually help right his presidency on a path to his re-election in 1996.

Mr. Clinton, historians said, always appreciated the power of big, bipartisan gestures, even when they involved incendiary rivals. “He understood the healing powers of the presidency,” said Ted Widmer, a presidential historian at City University of New York, and a former adviser to Mr. Clinton who assisted him in writing his memoirs. He mentioned a generous eulogy that Mr. Clinton delivered for disgraced former President Richard Nixon, after he died in 1994. “There is a basic impulse a president can have for when the country wants their leader to rise above politics and mudslinging,” Mr. Widmer said.

In that regard, Mr. Trump’s performance during this pandemic has been a missed opportunity. “The coronavirus could have been Donald Trump’s finest hour,” Mr. Widmer said. “You really sensed that Americans wanted to be brought together. But now that appears unattainable.”

For whatever reason, Mr. Trump seems uninterested in setting aside personal resentment, even when some small gestures — a photo op or a joint statement with Democratic leaders in Congress; a bipartisan pandemic commission chaired by former presidents — could score him easy statesmanship points.

His unwillingness to deal in any way with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (they have reportedly not spoken since the House voted to impeach Mr. Trump in January) has rendered him a bystander during negotiations with Congress on massive economic recovery bills that were by and large led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He has taken shots at popular Democratic governors in the hard-hit states of Washington and of Michigan; his approval ratings are dipping — and lag behind that of most governors.

Supporters of Mr. Trump say they appreciate that he doesn’t betray his true feelings for the sake of adhering to Beltway happy talk. This resolve appears central to his credibility with them. They elected him to disrupt, not to play nice and don a mask, whether made of artifice or cloth.

This weekend was supposed to mark another of those pauses in D.C. hostilities, albeit of a very different nature: the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the spring tradition that brings together a hair-sprayed throng along a pecking order of A- to D-list celebrities. The festivities are embedded with the ostensibly high-minded purpose of saluting the First Amendment and raising money for journalism scholarships. If you can score yourself a selfie with Gayle King, all the better.

In the view of many inside the Beltway, the correspondents’ dinner had long outlived its appeal and probably should have been canceled well before Covid-19 did the trick this year (the dinner has been postponed until August). Regardless, presidents of both parties would reliably show up, if only as a gesture of good faith or nod to a local bipartisan tradition.

But Mr. Trump — a veteran of the dinners in his pre-political days, including a memorable evening in which he endured a brutal roasting at the hands of then-President Barack Obama in 2011 — wanted no part of the correspondents’ dinner from the outset of his presidency. Instead, he would take the opportunity to hold “alternative programming” events in the form of Saturday night rallies in places like Pennsylvania, deftly placing himself in populist opposition to the preening Tux-and-Gowned creatures of the swamp.

Mr. Trump’s arrival in Washington inspired another counter-programing surrogate for the main event when the comedian Samantha Bee, host of the TBS program “Full Frontal,” started her own production across town, called “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.” There, she would toss affectionate barbs at the assembled press, usually at the expense of Mr. Trump. “You continue to fact-check the president,” she said in 2017, “as if he might actually someday get embarrassed.”

Beyond the excesses of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, for a president to partake of this tradition also requires an ability to be a good sport. The guest of honor will inevitably suffer good-natured ribbing at the hands of the hired comedian (or, better yet, not-so-good-natured ribbing — the most memorable routine occurring in 2006, when Stephen Colbert unleashed a sarcastic takedown of then-President George W. Bush and the press corps that Mr. Colbert pointedly suggested had coddled him).

The exercise also requires a president with at least minimal skill at solemnly paying heed to the principles that brought everyone together in the first place. First among these is the preservation of a free and fair press, not something a president fond of the term “fake news” will ever be synonymous with.

Still, for the many Washingtonians lucky enough to be working from home, six weeks being trapped indoors and fighting with family members about dishes can breed nostalgia for even the most played-out D.C. tradition. The correspondents’ dinner might confirm every worst stereotype of a full-of-itself political class. But anything that involves getting dressed up and actually doing stuff with other people sounds appetizing right about now, especially if it doesn’t involve Zoom.

For months, the Trump administration refused to hold press conferences to avoid answering questions from the press. Then came the pandemic, and two things happened. First, Trump stopped holding rallies for his base because it was too dangerous to hold them (ironic since he sides with the protestors who believe the pandemic is a hoax). Second, Trump realized that he could substitute daily “briefings” for his rallies, where he controls the venue and the actors, just like a reality show, with him playing the role of president.

Charles Blow of the New York Times says the free press should stop giving Trump free media in the run up to the election.

He writes:

“Around this time four years ago, the media world was all abuzz over an analysis by mediaQuant, a company that tracks what is known as “earned media” coverage of political candidates. Earned media is free media.

“The firm computed that Donald Trump had “earned” a whopping $2 billion of coverage, dwarfing the value earned by all other candidates, Republican and Democrat, even as he had only purchased about $10 million of paid advertising.

“As The New York Times reported at the time, the company’s chief analytics officer, Paul Senatori, explained: “The mediaQuant model collects positive, neutral and negative media mentions alike. Mr. Senatori said negative media mentions are given somewhat less weight.”

“This wasn’t the first analysis that found that something was askew.

“In December 2015 CNN quoted the publisher of The Tyndall Report, which also tracks media coverage, saying Trump was “by far the most newsworthy story line of campaign 2016, accounting alone for more than a quarter of all coverage’ on NBC, CBS and ABC’s evening newscasts.”

“Simply put, the media was complicit in Trump’s rise. Trump was macabre theater, a man self-immolating in real time, one who was destined to lose, but who could provide entertainment, content and yes, profits while he lasted.

“The Hollywood Reporter in February of 2016 quoted CBS’s C.E.O. as saying, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” because as The Reporter put it, “He likes the ad money Trump and his competitors are bringing to the network.”

“I fear that history is repeating itself.

“For over a month now, the White House has been holding its daily coronavirus briefings, and most networks, cable news channels and major news websites have been carrying all or parts of them live, as millions of people, trapped inside and anxious, have tuned in.

“The briefings are marked by Trump’s own misinformation, deceptions, rage, blaming and boasting. He takes no responsibility at all for his abysmal handling of the crisis, while each day he seems to find another person to blame, like a child frantically flinging spaghetti at a wall to see which one sticks.

“He delivers his disinformation flanked by scientists and officials, whose presence only serves to convey credibility to propagandistic performances that have simply become a replacement for his political rallies.

“We are in the middle of a pandemic, but we are also in the middle of a presidential campaign, and I shudder to think how much “earned media” the media is simply shoveling Trump’s way by airing these briefings, which can last up to two hours a day.

“Let me be clear: Under no circumstance should these briefings be carried live. Doing so is a mistake bordering on journalistic malpractice. Everything a president does or says should be documented but airing all of it, unfiltered, is lazy and irresponsible.

“As the veteran anchor Ted Koppel told The New York Times last month, “Training a camera on a live event, and just letting it play out, is technology, not journalism; journalism requires editing and context.” He continued, “The question, clearly, is whether his status as president of the United States obliges us to broadcast his every briefing live.” His answer was “no.”

“We have trained the American television audience to understand that regular programs are only interrupted for live events when they are truly important, things that the viewers need to see now, in real time. These briefings simply don’t reach that threshold. In fact, some of what Trump has said has been dangerous, like when he pushed an unproven and potentially harmful drug as a treatment for the virus.

“No amount of fact checkers, balancing with the briefings of governors, or even occasionally cutting away, can justify carrying these briefings live. The scant amount of new information that these rallies produce could be edited into a short segment for a show. The major headlines from these briefings are often Trump’s clashes with reporters, the differences he has with scientists and the lies he tells. Just like in 2016, it’s all theater.

“Donald Trump doesn’t care about being caught in a lie. Donald Trump doesn’t care about the truth.

“Donald Trump is a bare-knuckled politician with imperial impulses, falsely claiming that, “When somebody’s the president of the U.S., the authority is total,” encouraging protesters bristling about social distancing policies to “liberate” swings states, and saying that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be “overthrown, either by inside or out.”

“Trump has completely politicized this pandemic and the briefings have become a tool of that politicization. He is standing on top of nearly 40,000 dead bodies and using the media to distract attention away from them and instead brag about what a great job he’s done.

“In 2016, Trump stormed the castle by outwitting the media gatekeepers, exploiting their need for content and access, their intense hunger for ratings and clicks, their economic hardships and overconfidence.

“It’s all happening again. The media has learned nothing.”

Columnist David Weigel of the Washington Post writes that many Republicans have turned against vote-by-mail plans because Democrats support it. Ironically, absentee balloting typically favors Republicans.

He writes:

Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston called into a local interview show with bad news. It would be tough, he told FetchYourNews yesterday, to find “enough people to man” polling sites. It would be easier to “push back the date” of the primary, which Georgia’s governor had already delayed by two months. And a solution from Republican Secretary of State John Raffensperger — sending absentee ballot applications to every registered voter — was problematic, he said. “When you look at the people in Georgia that have lined up to support Secretary Raffensperger’s proposal, it’s every extreme, liberal Democratic group that’s out there,” Ralston said. “It kind of makes you wonder what their agenda is.”

That same conversation, with the same fear and suspicion, is happening in nearly every state. Just five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — were planning before the start of the coronavirus pandemic to conduct November’s elections with all-mail ballots. Voting rights groups and many Democrats have pointed to vote-by-mail as the most workable solution if in-person voting is a health risk.

But the very fact that Democrats support these changes has raised Republicans’ skepticism and heightened their opposition. Taking cues from the president, who warned this week that “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again” if Democrats’ reforms were adopted, some conservatives argue that expanding vote-by-mail is a liberal scheme. Anything that made it into H.R. 1, the House Democrats’ package of voting reforms that has been ignored by the Republican-run Senate, is immediately suspect.

“These rules were all intended to basically make it easier to manipulate elections, and frankly, make it easier to cheat,” Hans von Spakovsky, director of the conservative Heritage Foundation’s election law project, said in an interview with Breitbart News. “They have absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with helping the country deal with the coronavirus.”

Von Spakovsky, who has been criticized for overhyping the risks of voter fraud, spoke for many Republicans. If nothing changes before November, the election and the primaries still being held between now and then will be held in wildly divergent conditions from state to state. None of the states that conduct all-mail voting are seen as competitive in this year’s presidential election, and the debate about one party fighting for partisan advantage has not squared with their own experience. In fact, for years, rules expanding the use of absentee ballots were seen as favoring Republicans.

“Being a very red state, we haven’t seen anything that helps one party over another at all,” said Justin Lee, who has been Utah’s director of elections for three years as vote-by-mail was implemented. “We’ve heard less concern about voter fraud than about whether every ballot that should get counted does get counted.”

Of the eight states expected to be see the closest races — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — only the first two have a robust absentee ballot tradition. New Hampshire requires voters who want an absentee ballot to declare that they will be at work, out of the state or unwell or that they have some religious exemption from in-person voting, while the seven other states have no special requirement.

Seven of the eight swing states have something else in common: divided governments. In Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Democratic governors are frequently at odds with Republican-run legislatures. (In Minnesota, Republicans control the state Senate, while Democrats control the House.) For Wisconsin, that meant Gov. Tony Evers’s proposal to send postage-paid absentee ballots to voters was dead on arrival, with the Republican speaker of the House calling it an “invitation to voter fraud.”

In New Hampshire, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu contests with a Democratic-run General Court and has vetoed several attempts to make voting easier. In Arizona, Republicans control most of state government, minus the secretary of state’s office; in Florida, they run every element of the election process.

For the past few weeks, elections officials across the country have been talking frequently, sharing best practices and sometimes walking through the vote-by-mail process. The National Association of State Election Directors had been holding weekly conference calls, and Kim Wyman, the Democrat serving as Washington’s secretary of state, said her office had been in touch with officials in every other state, answering questions about vote-by-mail logistics.

They had demystified vote-by-mail’s anti-fraud measures, explaining that ballot envelopes must be signed, that county clerks call voters if there are problems with their ballots, and that they’ve been able to chase down the few cases where people voted twice. In Washington’s last election, 4.4 million ballots were cast but fewer than 100 ballots were flagged and none led to a criminal fraud investigation. Voter fraud remains rare, with high-profile cases representing a tiny fraction of votes cast each year.

Yet so far, in legislatures, the debate over adjusting voting systems to deal with the pandemic has broken across partisan lines. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, called for universal vote-by-mail on March 18, one day after the state’s presidential primary. Republicans were skeptical, with state Rep. T.J. Shope telling the Arizona Republic that he saw “[an] appetite on the other side to take advantage of a crisis and do things they’ve been trying to get done for a very long time.”

Conservative pressure kept vote-by-mail out of last month’s coronavirus response package an succeeded in reducing funding that Democrats wanted for a switch to that system from $2 billion to $400 million. According to Wyman, vote- by-mail saved money in some ways, such as giving disabled voters a ballot instead of prepping every polling place for disabled access, but the pandemic is going to pile on more costs.

There is more but you get the idea.

The National Education Association has endorsed Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination for president.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Joe Biden continued to consolidate support in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination today when he won the endorsement of the National Education Assn., the country’s largest labor union. With 3 million members, the union’s announcement will probably accelerate Biden’s effort to cement his standing as the Democratic front-runner.

How much has changed in only one week!

A week ago, Biden was counted out and had almost run out of money.

Then came South Carolina, and African American voters picked Biden and turned him into a top contender. Endorsements by Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and Beto quickly buoyed Biden’s campaign.

Michael Bloomberg, the only open supporter of charter schools, was routed, despite spending more than all the other candidates put together. To everyone’s surprise, voters ignored Bloomberg’s effort to outspend everyone else, to open more offices and hire more staff. The nomination was not for sale. He did win America Samoa. But it’s only a matter of time—hours or days—until he drops out. He is no longer a factor. Now let’s see if he follows through with his pledge to support the Democratic nominee and to spend big money to match the Republican money juggernaut.

Trump doesn’t want to face Biden in November. He made that clear when he twisted the arm of the president of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden. He appealed publicly to China to find dirt on Biden.

I know that Sanders supports public schools. I hope that Biden doesn’t revive the Obama approach to education. Biden does support unions and recognizes that they built the middle class.

The election is not over. Warren remains but it’s hard to see how she survives after losing her home state. It’s come down to Sanders and Biden. I will gladly support either one.

If Senator Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination, you can be sure that Trump will redbait  him on a daily basis. Sanders will be “red meat” for Trump’s ridicule. If you support Sanders, you will hate this column. Be forewarned.

For a preview of what lies ahead, read this column from the Washington Post by Megan McArdle.

The world of comic books, in which characters are constantly dying and being revived or reinvented for a new legion of fans, eventually had to invent a concept known as the “retcon” — short for “retroactive continuity.”
You’ll have noticed the phenomenon in film and television even if you never knew its name: “retconning” means altering an already-established past story line, to cover up growing plot holes or simply to free an author to craft a more enjoyable narrative in the present, one unhindered by the back catalogue.

The term has obvious applications to modern politics. As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) looks increasingly likely to win the Democratic nomination, left-of-center people are anxious to downgrade Sanders’s self-described socialism into something more politically palatable — like Great Society liberalism, or perhaps, at maximum, a Nordic-style welfare state.

In this, they struggle with an inconveniently well-documented Early Bernie Sanders, with his calls to nationalize “utilities, banks and major industries,“ his kind words for left-wing dictatorships, and his “very strange honeymoon” in the U.S.S.R. — where he blasted U.S. foreign policy before returning home to say “Let’s take the strengths of both systems. … Let’s learn from each other.”

One should be forgiven almost any number of youthful flirtations with bad ideology. But Sanders was in his early 40s when he went gaga for Nicaragua’s brutal Sandinista regime, and 46 during his sojourn on the Volga. In February 2019, when he was refusing to describe Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro as a “dictator,” Sanders was 77.


Forty years seems enough cultivate skepticism about what you’re shown while visiting a Communist dictatorship.

And 77 is certainly old enough to have read the 2019 Human Rights Watch report on Venezuela, which noted that “polls had not met international standards of freedom and fairness,” and went on to state that no “independent government institutions remain today in Venezuela to act as a check on executive power. … The government has been repressing dissent through often-violent crackdowns.” All of which sounds positively dictatorial.

If that wasn’t enough, Sanders might have been convinced when Maduro started using military blockades to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching his own famine-stricken citizens.
Yes, by the September Democratic debate, Sanders had inched around to calling Maduro a “vicious tyrant,” but why was it such a struggle? No regime that is democratically accountable could undertake such a blockade, which is why Great Society Democrats and Nordic-style social democrats don’t hesitate to condemn the ones that do. That sort of reluctance occurs among people who still hanker for something much more radical than Western democracies are prepared to deliver — and can’t quite admit that their idealistic program has birthed yet another moral and economic catastrophe.

Thus, it’s unsurprising to find that Sanders remains considerably to the left of Europe’s moderate social democrats. Economist Ryan Bourne of the Cato Institute argues that even when you compare the current Sanders platform to the British Labour Party’s 2019 election manifesto, the former is more radical. Sanders wants government to absorb a much higher share of gross domestic product, intervene even more heavily in sectors such as health care, and attack capital more aggressively than Labour promised to do under Jeremy Corbyn — and the Corbyn agenda was broadly recognized as a leftward leap in a country whose politics are already well to the left of ours.

MIT economist Daron Acemoglu recently made similar points, tying them directly to Sanders’s claim that he just wants the United States to be more like Denmark or Sweden. As it happens, he says, Sweden once tried a version of Sanders’s proposals to transfer a sizable chunk of corporate ownership and managerial control to workers. This “workplace democracy,” an idea closely associated with democratic socialism, was eventually abandoned by those Nordic social democrats because it poisoned labor relations, and depressed both investment and productivity growth.

Sanders’s undeniable radicalism, and his equally undeniable popularity with an exceptionally motivated portion of the base, presents a problem for Democrats. Young Democrats may think socialism sounds swell, but affluent older suburbanites will balk at both the word and the policies it denotes. With the white working class flocking Trumpward, Democrats needs those suburbanites; just boosting youth turnout probably won’t be enough.

The obvious solution is to quietly persuade suburbanites that the Sanders socialism label is just personal branding, and either retcon his previous radicalism, or write a change of heart into his biography. One problem is that it’s not clear this change of heart actually occurred; a bigger problem is that Sanders appeals to younger voters precisely because “he’s been saying the same thing for 40 years.” But the biggest problem is that his defenders can’t erase the things he’s saying right now.

 

 

 

 

Middle School Principal Jamaal Bowman has announced that he will challenge incumbent Congressman Elliot Engel.

The New York Times reported:

WASHINGTON — Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal from the Bronx, announced on Tuesday his plans to challenge Representative Eliot L. Engel, the New York Democrat who leads the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, in the 2020 race.

The contest could serve as a key test of whether liberal insurgent groups can convert a surge of energy on the left into successful challenges of members of the Democratic Party establishment.

Mr. Bowman becomes the second liberal challenger to Mr. Engel this year, but the first New York primary candidate to be endorsed by Justice Democrats, the grass-roots group that helped fuel Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning defeat last year of Joseph Crowley of New York, the No. 4 Democrat in the House at the time.

“I’m inspired by all of the new lifestyles injected into Congress and the new ideas,” said Mr. Bowman, who will run against Mr. Engel, a 16-term incumbent who serves New York’s 16th Congressional District, and Andom Ghebreghiorgis, a teacher who, like Mr. Bowman, has vowed to pursue progressive policies, including “Medicare for all,” the Green New Deal and changes to public education.

The campaign announced:

BRONX MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL JAMAAL BOWMAN ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN FOR CONGRESS

The Founder of the innovative Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, Bowman has been a leader in the opt-out movement
NEW YORK, NY — Middle school principal, education advocate, and former teacher ​Jamaal Bowman​ launched his campaign for Congress in New York’s 16th district today with a spirited launch video discussing his family, professional background, and his case for taking on his opponent: 30-year incumbent Eliot Engel. Bowman is running to better represent the communities of The Bronx and Westchester with a focus on taking on racial and economic injustice.

VIEW BOWMAN’S ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO: ​https://youtu.be/VnGn4sc_QVQ

“It’s time for a Democrat who will fight for schools and education, not bombs and incarceration,”
reads Bowman’s website.

Bowman was born and raised in New York City by a single mother and spent time in public housing and rent-controlled apartments. He and his wife live in Yonkers with their three kids and are both educators. Bowman founded a public middle school, ​the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA)​ in the Baychester neighborhood of The Bronx in 2009 and serves as its first principal.

Bowman has been an educator and advocate for public schools for over 20 years, including participating in community organizing and activism to support fully funding New York’s public schools, the movement to opt-out of standardized testing, and ​racial justice​. Bowman was a school teacher at PS 90 in The Bronx and Martin Luther King High School in Manhattan.
Despite the fact that Bowman’s middle school ranked first in New York City for improved test score average in 2015, Bowman has consistently been ​one of the most vocal critics​ in New York City and New York state to support the opt-out movement and speak out against the weaponization of standardized tests in public schools.

Bowman also implemented ​a restorative justice model at his middle school in order to combat the school-to-prison pipeline​. Within six years, the school had cut suspensions by two-thirds. Bowman’s school does not use suspensions for insubordination, which is particularly important because nationally, “willful defiance” is ​often found as a racially disproportionate cause​ for suspension.

June 17, 2019
Contact: ​waleedshahid@justicedemocrats.com
Bowman’s work as an educator was featured in ​Amsterdam News​, one of the oldest African American newspapers in the country in 2016. He was also featured in ​The Huffington Post​, ​The Washington Post,​ ​New York Daily News​, ​NY1​, and ​TedTalks​.

MORE ABOUT JAMAAL BOWMAN

Driven by a desire to bring people together and create a better future for the young people in his community, Bowman has fought on behalf of the working families of the Bronx to ensure their children have the best education. He envisions a future where all students have an equal shot at a fulfilling life, career, and future, regardless of where they grow up.

Bowman was born and raised in New York City. He spent his early years with his grandmother in public housing at the East River Houses until he was 8 and later moved into rent-controlled apartments

Bowman didn’t have much growing up but his mother provided him all that he needed: love, a stable family, and a sense of community. Her guidance led him toward becoming a teacher, school principal, and community leader.

After finishing high school in New Jersey, Bowman earned a BA in Sports Management from the University of New Haven in 1999 — and immediately became a public school teacher back home in The Bronx. Bowman went on to earn a Masters Degree in Guidance Counseling from Mercy College and an Ed.D. with a specialization in Community Leadership from Manhattanville College.

Bowman’s crowning achievement was in founding a public middle school, the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA) and serving as its first principal. Located in the Baychester neighborhood of The Bronx, CASA is an innovative public school with a strong emphasis on student voice, holistic education, cultural awareness and love. He has also led efforts to educate elected officials on the impact of toxic stress on health and education outcomes.

 

 

Bernie Sanders’ website has a better statement on the importance of investing public education and teachers than any other Democratic candidate so far:

 

Today, more than 60 years after the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision ending legal segregation in our public schools, and 50 years after President Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act into law, poor and minority students are still not afforded the same education as their wealthier, and often whiter counterparts. This is not only unjust and immoral, it endangers our democracy.

I’m running for president to restore the promise that every child, regardless of his or her background, has a right to a high-quality public education.

Growing inequality is both the cause and the effect of our nation’s desperately underfunded public school system. Many public schools are severely racially segregated—in some parts of the country, worse than before the Brown decision. With funding for public schools in steep decline, students in low-income areas are forced to learn in decrepit buildings and endure high rates of teacher turnover. Public school teachers are severely underpaid and lack critical resources, and their professional experience is being undermined by high stakes testing requirements that drain resources and destroy the joy of learning.

Meanwhile, resource-rich private schools spend tens of thousands of dollars more per child than public schools do. They are predominantly white or intentionally diversified, and enjoy the best that money can buy—from state of the art facilities to well-paid, highly skilled teachers.

With the vast challenges facing our education system, billionaire philanthropists, Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers are attempting to privatize our education system under the banner of “school choice.” We must act to transform our education system into a high-quality public good.

  • We must make sure that charter schools are accountable, transparent and truly serve the needs of disadvantaged children, not Wall Street, billionaire investors, and other private interests.
  • We must ensure that a handful of billionaires don’t determine education policy for our nation’s children.
  • We will oppose the DeVos-style privatization of our nation’s schools and will not allow public resources to be drained from public schools. 
  • We must guarantee childcare and universal pre-Kindergarten for every child in America to help level the playing field, create new and good jobs, and enable parents more easily balance the demands of work and home.
  • We must increase pay for public school teachers so that their salary is commensurate with their importance to society. And we must invest in high-quality, ongoing professional development, and cancel teachers’ student debt.
  • We must protect the tenure system for public school teachers and combat attacks on collective bargaining by corporate profiteers.
  • We must put an end to high-stakes testing and “teaching to the test” so that our students have a more fulfilling educational life and our teachers are afforded professional respect.

We must guarantee children with disabilities an equal right to high-quality education, and increase funding for programs that combat racial segregation and unfair disciplinary practices that disproportionately affect students of color.

I am still waiting for a Democratic candidate who will explain why we as a nation should have two different publicly funded systems of education–one that chooses the students it wants, and the other required to accept all students. One, under private management, and the other controlled by an elected school board, or a board appointed by an elected official.

 

I encourage you to sign up for The American Prospect’s near-daily missive. This one is right on target, written by Harold Meyerson. The commentaries by Harold Meyerson and Robert Kuttner are well-informed, incisive, and wise. Let the Democratic candidates slug it out on the field of ideas and policies, not by this kind of ad hominem attack..

 

APRIL 17, 2019

Meyerson on TAP

How Think Progress Would Have Attacked Franklin Roosevelt. The past few days’ kerfuffle over the attacks that Think Progress has leveled against Bernie Sanders raises a question for the historically minded: How viciously would it have lashed out against Franklin Roosevelt for his presumed hypocrisy in attacking the reactionary rich more directly and vehemently than Sanders ever has?

 

Think Progress, which is the news and commentary website operating under the aegis and with the funding of the Democratic Party–aligned think tank Center for American Progress, accused Sanders last week of just such hypocrisy for his repeated attacks on the rich, even as he had a yearly income in excess of $1 million from the sale of his books. As one article on the Think Progress website put it:

 

It’s all very off-brand and embarrassing, but Sen. Bernie Sanders is a millionaire. Turns out railing against “millionaires and billionaires” can be quite the lucrative enterprise.

 

Sanders, who released his last ten years of tax returns on Monday, acknowledged that the proceeds from his book sales brought him over the millionaire threshold, and chastised Think Progress—and CAP, headed by longtime Hillary Clinton adviser Neera Tanden—for running this sort of ad hominem attack, not just on him but on other progressive Democrats as well.

 

Think Progress is hardly the first institution or individual to label liberals and leftists of some means as inauthentic or hypocritical for their own attacks on concentrated wealth. The Democratic leader subjected to the greatest number and most vicious of such attacks was Franklin Roosevelt, the heir to an old New York fortune who raised taxes on the wealthy, legalized collective bargaining, and levied attacks on the rich far more coruscating than anything Sanders has ever said. In his nationally broadcast Madison Square Garden speech on the eve of the 1936 election, when he was seeking his second term as president, FDR identified his “unscrupulous enemies” as

 

business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

 

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

 

Whew! Next to that, Sanders sounds like Mr. Rogers.

 

FDR’s invective against the “forces of selfishness,” and the policies he enacted to combat those forces and create a larger, more confident middle class, prompted conservatives to contrast his anti-plutocratic politics with his personal wealth and accuse him of hypocrisy, insincerity, and double standards. Where did a rich guy come off criticizing other rich guys—or at least, other rich guys who wanted to keep prosperity from trickling down to the hoi polloi? What a sham! What chutzpah!

 

Not that Sanders has anything remotely resembling a fortune, much less an FDR-type fortune, but this is precisely the same attack that Think Progress belched forth last week against Bernie.

A lot of good, smart progressives work at Think Progress and CAP. They don’t work there because they like this kind of horseshit; they don’t work there because they want to produce memes for the likes of Fox News. That’s not CAP’s mission, either—at least, it shouldn’t be. ~ HAROLD MEYERSON

 

There is hope for a change in Kentucky politics.

FOX News says that Governor Matt Bevin is in trouble in his re-election bid because he picked a fight with teachers. 

“Matt Bevin is Kentucky’s third Republican governor in the last half-century – and if he’s re-elected this year, he’d be the first in party history to win a second term to that office.

“It likely won’t be easy.

”Bevin gained national repute as a conservative reformer, but made an enemy of the state’s powerfulteachers’ union. He’s the least popular governor in the United States, according to a Morning Consult poll in January. Also, the most recent head-to-head poll found Bevin trailing two Democrats vying for their party’s nomination in the May 21 primary.

“Bevin’s trouble comes largely because he has a reckless mouth,” said Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky and veteran political reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal. “He goes after teachers in a sometimes outrageous way. A lot of teachers are Republicans, and a lot of Republicans are teachers. Teachers are still well thought of in rural Kentucky. If not for teachers, Bevin would be a prohibitive favorite for re-election.”

Kentucky teachers! Get out there and organize to protect your students, your community public schools, and your profession!