Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Jeb Bush Is Planting Seeds

August 13, 2013
A "Chief for Change" Speaks

A “Chief for Change” Speaks

Fresh off addressing the American Legislative Exchange Council ( the infamous ALEC, ) former Governor of Florida, friend of President Obama, “Chief For Change”, and non-educator education expert Jeb Bush made an extraordinarily radical and revealing suggestion about the future of teaching in an interview to 89 WLS in Chicago. Bush, calmly displaying his usual oceanic contempt for teachers at the same time that he feigns reverence, repeated much of what have become corporate education reform memes (wholesale identification of learning with standardized test scores, “embracing digital learning” ) and strategies ( merit pay, elimination of due process or tenure. )
In the midst of this, Bush serenely makes the insane suggestion that the teacher certification process be eliminated. In doing so, Bush simultaneously suggests that teaching is a field needing no preparation and is one effectively open to every
( presumably literate ) adult in the United States.

For Bush, the professionalism of teachers is established by their desire to separate themselves from teacher unions and be paid according to their “doing a good job. “
“Doing a good job”, in turn, means a teacher raising the standardized test scores of their students.

It is tempting to dismiss such a reckless and ignorant suggestion as the elimination of certification with a snide comment and a laugh, but such a response, I believe, at this stage of the game would be very much a mistake. Indeed, it would be playing into the hands of those who wish to destroy us.

What is disturbing about suggestions such as the elimination of teacher certification is that there is a very discernable pattern over the last decade of “reformers” putting out suggestions and making claims that then seemed equally absurd and reckless and would have been laughable a short time before only to become horrific realities shortly thereafter. What teacher would have ever predicted the advent of Obama and his reprehensible Race to the Top, now successfully undermining schools and unions from coast to coast? What teacher would have ever predicted that tenure in the city of New York would be effectively nullified by an evaluation plan created and pushed into law by the teachers union? What teacher would have ever predicted the appalling condescension emanating out of the deceitfully named Common Core State Standards? What teacher, in short, has foreseen the chilling combination of military precision and utter ruthlessness on the part of the predator class and its political employees like Cuomo, Emmanuel and Obama, ramming through their once unthinkable agendas with ease ?

Not I.

And yet, all of the above degradations masquerading as reforms begin precisely this way. One figure making a speech here, giving an interview there, writing an editorial over there, and on and on. Consider these actions the planting of seeds in the public consciousness, the first step in the manipulation of perception management. Soon enough a notion vomited out of a grotesquerie like ALEC is repeated ad nauseum and treated as if it arose from the soil. It is then earnestly parroted by the likes of Brian Williams, wept over by Oprah, championed by PBS and NPR, ogled by Thomas Friedman and Nicolas Kristoff, and chanted by members of billionaire created “grass roots” organizations like Educations 4 Excellence, Parent Revolution and Stand For Children and so on.

And such is the way conventional wisdom is manufactured today in the US of A.
Consider the robust debates that never took place over the merits and value of standardized testing, now the central nervous system of America’s entire school system.

“Bush” according to the article that reported the interview, “ said his education plan would also do away with certification processes. He said they make eligibility requirements for teachers too restrictive, Chicago being a prime example.”

What Bush did not say, however, is of even greater import that what he did. Besides an overall disgrace, what would result from the implementation of Bush’s plan of eliminating teacher certification combined with the elimination of due process or tenure ?
There would be an instantaneous exponential increase in the teacher labor pool allowing and even “incentivizing “the wholesale firings of entire teaching staffs as they would be as instantly replaceable as migrant farm workers. This, in turn, would further degrade the public school system and thus disgust parents who would then be offered the alternative of charter schools or perhaps a voucher.
Most importantly, it would eviscerate the solidarity of teachers, which would in turn eviscerate unions.
If the past were indeed prologue, than we would do well to take Bush’s suggestion, as disgusting as it is, with great seriousness. In it one sees, perhaps more transparently than usual, the true, long term underlying intention of education reform: the evisceration of unions and the privatization of the most vital and glorious of all American public institutions, the public school system. This, in turn, is meant as a major step in the radical reconfiguration of labor relations in all fields for all American workers.

These people think in terms of decades.
Americans must understand: Education reform is not about education and it never was.

Following is the interview.

http://www.wlsam.com/common/page.php?pt=Jeb+Bush%3A+Eliminate+teacher+tenure%2C+certification+processes&id=59403&is_corp=0

George McGovern: “The Most Decent Man in the Unites States Senate.”

October 22, 2012

Of George McGovern Senator Robert Kennedy once said, “ He is the most decent man in the United States Senate.  Perhaps the only decent man in the United States Senate.”   After his disastrous 1972 presidential campaign such decency helped propel McGovern into a political punch line for decades but the joke, ultimately was on us:  instead of a man who would have ended the Vietnam war in a week, we got Nixon who prolonged it for years resulting in the pointless slaughter of thousands  more  American  soldiers and many more thousands of Vietnamese men, women and children.   Instead of intelligent liberalism, we got Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton and Bush  father and son culminating in a steady  Right ward  drift so pronounced  that Richard Nixon would be to the Left of   both Obama and Romney on almost all major issues. And Nixon was no liberal.  Indeed, after McGovern’s run we slowly slipped into such a state of  political and intellectual depravity  that the very words  “liberal”  and “liberalism”   — words that describe the very political tradition and foundation on which the nation was formed — became,   in many circles, the worst kind of put down — a political trajectory that has led many a former blue collar liberal down the suicidal yellow brick road of the Tea Party.

But not for George McGovern who knew of what he spoke and cared about what he saw happening to his country and his compatriots.

Until and unless men and women of the integrity and decency of McGovern  can not merely obtain office but hold real sway in the American political landscape – seemingly impossible in an age of oligarchy and corporate domination of everything – we are doomed to shills like Romney and Obama ever deepening oligarchy and corporate domination of everything.  And we doom ourselves.

Rest in peace, Senator McGovern.  You did your bit and you did it nobly and fearlessly.   You kept the flame in a time of ever deepening darkness. You fought the good fight.

Now it is our turn.

All Eyes On Chicago

September 16, 2012

 

In early July of 1892 an event took place in the industrial town of Homestead, Pennsylvania that would define labor and management relations across the United States for decades to come.

A violent and bloody battle between Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead Steel Works and the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (an early incarnation of the United Steel Workers),  the Homestead Strike of 1892 was a demarcation, a line in the sand, and a tragedy for the American labor movement.

Orchestrated by Henry Clay Frick, whom a vacationing nominally pro-labor Carnegie placed in charge of operations, Frick was resolved, at any cost, to break the union at Homestead and in doing so, inflict  as much damage to the then burgeoning union movement as possible.   After much violence, four deaths and countless wounded, with the assistance of the infamous Pinkertons and 4000 soldiers of the Pennsylvania state militia, Frick succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. The union was smashed, severely damaging all   progressive and humane aspects of the national worker’s campaign and effectively paralyzing the American union movement.  The movement would remain paralyzed until the advent of FDR’s New Deal 44 long years later when in 1936 Roosevelt, in turn, would have the Michigan state militia aim their guns, not at the striking auto workers of the Ford Motor Company in Flint but at the company thugs and Flint police who threatened them. The Flint Sit -Down Strike was ultimately triumphant and  thus began the United Auto Workers (UAW) in earnest and with the UAW  the slow and steady rise of the American middle class. In the next four decades workers, unionized or not, would reap the benefits of and side effects of organized labor.

The Homestead Strike proved a seminal and transformative moment in American history and a tragic one in the legacy of American labor. The Chicago Teachers strike, six days in the making as I write, may very well prove to reverberate as far and as wide in one direction or the other. It too may ultimately determine the fate not merely of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), not merely the future of the American public school system, but, like the Homestead Strike, it may determine the impotence or power of American unionism in the 21st century.   It too could alter the very parameters of worker rights and labor relations for all workers, unionized or not for years to come.

And it’s been a long time coming.

From Ronald Reagan’s mass firing of the air traffic controllers in August of 1981 to Scott Walker’s outlawing of collective bargaining, from the wholesale sacking of the unionized Camden Police Dept to the ceaseless attacks on all public workers in all cities across these United States, we have witnessed and suffered from 30 years of incremental or wholesale union capitulations or outright defeats.  Make no mistake that such capitulations and defeats have brought much joy to  many  of the top 1% of wealthy Americans.  And make no mistake that many of the same are carefully monitoring the goings on in Chicago.  Sadly, even pathetically, it seems to have brought equal joy to many working class members of the Koch brothers funded Tea Party, many of whom enjoyed the benefits, protections and rights wrought by the presence of unions. Not that union bashing is a strictly Republican concern. Not for many a year now.  And one thing the Democratic Party  have learned is that it is politically much safer to undermine a union with policies while celebrating  unionism with words like Cory Booker than it is  to overtly bash them in the manner of, say,  Chris Christie.     With Democrat Bill Clinton’s signing of NAFTA along with his repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act , and a rabidly deregulated Wall Street,  the rise of globalization and the consequent wholesale dismantling and off shoring of the American industrial base was virtually assured, unions and American workers be damned.  ( How Clinton enjoys a reputation as a liberal or even a progressive  and a friend of the working man is evidence  of  a
“crisis in education” of a profoundly different and deeper nature than the “education reformers”  would ever go near or , perhaps, are even conscious of. ) Much to the delight of  conservatives, libertarians and above all corporatists,  unions have largely been wiped out altogether or driven to their knees from sea to shining sea.  This is the slow motion horror movie that has been playing before our largely unseeing eyes fro three decades.  This has led directly to the well-documented decline in American income, the vanishing of the American middle class,  and the most grotesque and dangerous disparity in wealth and poverty in the industrial world.

And this leads us to Chicago.   Rahm Emanuel, like all so called “education reformers, ”– especially the  Education Reformer in Chief in the White House —   desperately wants and needs all Americans to believe that the CTU strike is not only entirely the fault of an out of control and greedy  teacher’s union that doesn’t care about kids: more importantly he wants and needs Americans to believe that it is entirely about education and the reformers’ passionate desire to make the children of Chicago “college and career ready” , to prepare them “to compete for work in  the global market place, “ and above all to  create  quality public education, as this is  the  “civil rights issue of our time.”

Some of this may be partly true. It’s possible, I suppose, that men like Emanuel and Obama and some of the other reformers actually believe in the merit of the garbage, bubble-test-based education they are successfully force feeding other people’s children, even as it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the education they demand for their own children whose schools hold such practices in abject distain.  Believe in it, that is, as long as they don’t think about it for too long or look at what it reduces people to.  ( The children of Emanuel and Obama attend, respectively, the Chicago Lab School and Sidwell Friends receiving the kind of quality education all American children should receive and could receive if the right people  were  making  policy and allocating funds. )   l and That said, long after “education reformers” have achieved enormous success in privately remaking public education in their image and implementing their various notions, schemes and experiments on American children, long after their far greater success in manipulating the American public into believing that teachers and teacher unions are the principle cause of their increasing  immiseration  and a mortal threat to the their children’s future, not a one of their multi million dollar schemes have proven to in any meaningful way improve education. Not one. This, even as schools across the land have been transformed into test taking stress factories, communities have been ripped apart in charter school wars, and many of the “reformers” corporate allies such as Pearson or the “reformers themselves such as Rupert Murdoch ( yes, that Rubert Murdoch ) have   milked the public teat to grow rich or ever richer still than their wildest dreams.

It is therefore exceedingly difficult if not out right impossible for a rational and knowledgeable person to believe that what is really driving most of these “reformers” – many of whom are billionaires or hedge fund managers, almost none of whom are educators unless you count  the three year scandal ridden teaching career of Michelle Rhee – is improvement of education rather than, say, transfer of money from the public sector to the private sector or, in a word, privatization.

If improving education were truly the goal of the “reformers” there would be certain fundamental steps one would expect such high-minded people to take. They might begin by respecting people who actually know what they’re talking about. They might begin by asking the question of what it means to be educated rather than, say, conditioned or trained.   They might begin by engaging and empowering the most knowledgeable professionals in the field and assisting them with the extraordinarily difficult task of educating the most diverse and poverty-ridden population in the Western world.  Such people are rare but they are not difficult to find. Consider Linda Darling Hammond.  Or Jonathan Kozol.  Or Diane Ravitch.   Or, for that matter, CTU president Karen Lewis.   But  nothing like this was done and under the regime of the “reformers” will never be done.   Quite the contrary, as befitting a corporate revolution by stealth, such people have been  utterly purged from the corridors of power and influence as thoroughly, if infinitely more gently than  Pol Pot purged Cambodian intellectuals in Year One of his  new Cambodia.

And, of course, if the improvement of education were, in fact,  your goal there would be things you would not dream of doing.

You would not, for instance, appoint completely unqualified persons such as Arne Duncan to run the federal Department of Education.

You would not allow children to be used as guinea pigs in vast experiments in social alchemy by unelected and utterly unaccountable private citizens like Bill Gates who Diane Ravitch has dubbed, ironically ,  “ the superintendent of American schools. ”

You would not continue to champion mayoral control years after it has proven itself a disaster in city after city, allowing, in effect, people like Mike Bloomberg and Rahm Emmanuel to dictate  education policy in the largest education systems in the USA.

You do shower parents with contempt and shut them out of any meaningful discussion at the same time, in one of many acts of stupendous condescension, you pretend to give parents   voice by acting as their ventriloquists by producing  slick, shamelessly dishonest “reformer” financed propaganda films like “Waiting For Superman” or equally slick, shameless and dishonest melodramas like reformer” financed “Won’t Back Down” , both of which  solve the “crisis in education”  by – you guessed it,  privately run publicly funded non -union charter schools.

You do not impose business plans and call them education plans.

You do not confuse technology with science and reduce human beings and human intelligence to data and then sell such data to your pals like Rupert Murdoch.

You do not make astoundingly self righteous and ignorant statements claiming that poverty does not affect student learning or that class size does not matter and repeat such astoundingly self-righteous statements ad nausea.

You do not disgrace  our alleged democratic  process by allowing  private citizen billionaires like Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton family ( of Wal-Mart fame  ) and other very, very rich people to make  public policy — every single one of those  policies   that much the more in a field of which they know nothing.

You do not reduce students to bubble test-taking automatons incapable of critical thinking.

You do not hound, harass, demoralize , micro manage and infantilize  teachers. You do not force feed evaluation schemes based on standardized tests at all, never mind  standardized  tests that have margins of errors of upwards of 50% that even their  creators  insist should not be used to evaluate teachers.

You do not casually destroy  the careers of untold numbers of excellent teachers and  shrink  the contours of the minds of millions of children — always other  people’s children — with such hare-brained if immensely profitable schemes.

One can go on and on but you get the point.    You would do none of these things and yet, this and so much more is precisely what Ralm Emanuel has done in Chicago and “reformers” have done across the entire United States and they have done so, to the great shame of teacher unions, with astounding and terrifying success.

Until now.

What Rahm Emmanuel desires in Chicago is what Mike Bloomberg wants in New York and what Barack Obama wants for the whole country, which is the sole point of the unbelievably cynical policies of Race To the Top which may be the most successful union busting policy ever to be embraced by unions.    Whatever they claim to the contrary, what these men want is for teacher unions to enter into a pact to commit slow motion collective suicide; to sign their own death sentences based on preposterously trumped up charges,   to die while giving their destroyers  ( especially  those in the Democratic Party ) as much  political cover as possible.

Lewis and CTU, bless their hearts, have as yet refused. With this refusal they are throwing what amounts to the first real   wrench into the billionaire-backed, union busting privatization machine that has completely infiltrated and now dominates both major political parties and  the entire debased discussion of  what passes for education in America.

The CTU  are speaking truth to the power that has engineered the most sophisticated, insidious and successful propaganda campaign against a profession in American history, the lastest volleys in this campaign CNBC’s “Education Nation” and the new aforementioned anti-union weepie “Won’t Back  Down.”    They have sent a resounding “NO!” to the a campaign consisting of the richest individuals, most powerful corporations and highest offices of the American government who collectively want nothing less than to drive a stake through the heart of unionism in America thoroughly as did Frick and Carnegie more than a century ago. And note well,  if the financial catastrophe of 2008 proved nothing else, it showed the unambiguous recklessness and rank depravity of much of the American ruling class and that it will who will stop at nothing to get its way, innocent children,   teachers,  in fact, the entire global population can go straight to hell for all they care.  There are fortunes to be made in education.  Billions, in fact. And all publicly  funded and thus guaranteed.

In the larger sense, it is essential to understand that this strike is about standing up against issues that go far beyond phony “education reform” campaign, as important as they are.     It is essential that all Americans who are not part of the one percent understand what is at stake here. It is essential that all such Americans understand that the CTU is standing up for them as well as for the children of Chicago and themselves. It is essential that Americans understand that the CTU is standing not merely against the evisceration of unions but standing for the very impulses and principles on which unions are created: economic justice, fair play, compassion, fraternity and solidarity, all of which are in direct opposition to the corporate mindset. The CTU  is  standing up against nothing less than a corporate revolution by stealth. They are standing up against the absolute triumph of the corporate state and the absolute removal of all opposition to the corporate state.

Whatever the outcome, unlike at Homestead there will be no violence or bloodshed in Chicago.    The powers that be have learned far more insidious and subtle ways to try and bring down a people, strip them of their rights, force them to their knees. Consider Obama’s Race To the Top, an absolute masterpiece of coercive politics aimed at making teacher unions little more than due sucking social clubs  —  but that did not stop most of the nation from buying into it .

But what  happens in Chicago in the next few days or the next few hours will indeed reverberate across this land as did Homestead. To be sure, sooner or later  more than teachers will feel its effects. To be sure, sooner or later the outcome will effect every member of the 99 % .

It is conceivable that out of the courage and steadfastness of the CTU will arise, phoenix-like,  a rebirth of American unionism. It is equally conceivable it could signal labor’s death knell. One thing is for certain: every worker in America should be supporting the CTU and making that support as public as possible.

Rest assured the eyes of  every cognizant  teacher in the US are on Chicago and hopefully, too, the eyes of many an American worker. To be sure,  so too are the eyes of the one percent.

Surprise, Surprise: The Corporate Press Cheerleads the Corporate State

November 12, 2011

 

The following italicized section is an editorial from this  morning’s New York Times.

November 11, 2011

Tennessee’s Push to Transform Schools

 

Tennessee has a long way to go in improving its schools, but it has made significant headway in turning itself into a laboratory for education reform. It was one of the first states to test a rigorous teacher evaluation system, which was put in place this school year. Yet even before the results are in, political forces are now talking about delaying the use of these evaluations. State lawmakers and education officials must resist any backsliding.

 

Tennessee’s need to do better was underscored when the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation’s report card, ranked the state near the bottom in fourth-grade math performance, just ahead of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. These dismal results — slightly worse than those reported in 2009 — were made public earlier this month during legislative hearings on the evaluation system.

 

The Tennessee Education Association has criticized aspects of the system, citing what it describes as poorly trained evaluators and a confusing scoring rubric, and wants it postponed until it is essentially perfect. Some lawmakers are suggesting that evaluations performed this year not be used in personnel decisions. Such a delay would destroy momentum and could weaken reform.

 

Tennessee and Delaware were the only states to win generous grants in the first round under the Obama administration’s Race to the Top education initiative. It won partly because it had approved comprehensive reforms, which jettisoned a system that evaluated tenured teachers only twice every 10 years. The new approach requires that every teacher be observed several times a year.

 

Teacher evaluations now have three components: 50 percent from classroom observation data, 35 percent from student growth on test scores and 15 percent from student achievement measures that are locally selected. The teachers are rated on a five-point scale, from “significantly below expectations” to “significantly above expectations.” School districts are not required to fire anyone based on the ratings, but the state now requires teachers to work for five years, instead of three, before they are eligible for tenure. Those who want tenure have to earn high ratings for two years.

 

At the legislative hearing, superintendents and other school leaders praised the new system, saying that it had forced principals to spend more time in classrooms and required them to offer more help to novice teachers.

 

The president of the teachers’ union, however, pointed out that some evaluators failed to give teachers the feedback they need to improve. And she raised concerns about the fairness of the state’s decision to use schoolwide achievement measures to evaluate the more than 50 percent of teachers who work in grades or subject areas where standardized tests are not given. Better measures are under development but are not available.

 

As with any new reform, adjustments will be necessary. For example, principals should have the option of evaluating high-performing teachers less frequently than novices or low performers. And state officials must continue to review the question of how much standardized test data should count in teacher evaluations. Tennessee will need to address these issues fairly if the system is to win wide support among teachers and school administrators. But, even with shortcomings, the new approach to teacher evaluation is a vast improvement over the one it replaced.

Herein the Obama administration’s union busting extortion scheme Race to the Top in action.  By turning the state into a “laboratory  for education reform” ( am I the only one who find such language chilling ? )  it has paralyzed Tennessee’s school system and demoralized the state’s entire teaching profession.

Sound familiar ?

It has made both teaching and administering onerous if not out right impossible. It is based on wholly unproven assumptions — assumptions provided, once again, by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is now the de facto Department of Education and chief policy maker in our great democracy — that may cost good teachers their livelihoods and children any chance of a real education.   Moreover, it could pervert education for  decades to come, reducing it even further into a corporate sponsored test taking disgrace  that you can be sure no child of the editorial staff of the New York Time or the Obama administration will be sullied with.

No matter to wise men of the “liberal” New York Times and their allies in the corporate education heist.  Tennessee must continue to implement this disastrous scheme to keep up the momentum.  Momentum, after all, is more important than accuracy, truth, fairness and even sanity.  Ram it home.  We’ll work out the details later. Sure, people will get hurt and further debased and children will be robbed of anything vaguely resembling a meaningful education – but we must begin somewhere.   Besides, the plan that preceded it was bad too, maybe even worse.  The essential thing is not to think and examine but to just keep pushing forward.  We must resist the “political forces” who advocate “backsliding.”

Herein the level of idiocy, recklessness and callous indifference to reality that has pervaded corporate education reform from day one. All in the name of putting kids first, of course.   Herein the level of craven surrender to corporate dictates that has characterized the Obama administration from day one. RTTT is a boon to test makers like no other.   Herein the logical results of Race to the Top, a plan designed to undermine the very thing it is claiming to improve and so antithetical to public education it should appall all, being excused by the non educator editorial staff who run the New York Times: the same folk, mind you, who thought it a splendid idea to let   Mike Bloomberg undermine the will of millions and purchase himself a third term at City Hall and thus allow him to do all he can do to privatize the NYC public school system. Rest assured, Mike is not letting them down.

Herein the corporate media cheerleading the furthering of the corporate state, democracy and the will of the people be damned.

Long live Occupy Wall Street and the spirit that brought it to life across the states and the globe. Let it occupy every office and editorial board and class room across these starved and suffering United States until the corporate state is exposed as the degrading, inhuman, mindless totalitarian monster that it is and can only be and locked in the dust bin of history where it belongs.

Bill Thompson and the Silence of Obama

November 6, 2009

Bill Thompson and the Silence of  Obama

Yesterday morning, the day after the election, I woke to a feeling of dread contemplating over coffee four more years of Mike Bloomberg in City Hall.  The feeling was similar if less devastating than the morning after George W. Bush’s curious victory in 2004.  On the coffee table in front of me lay the handful of Bill Thompson posters and pamphlets I did not find a home for in what was my first experience as a volunteer in a political campaign. Truth be told when I was moved to volunteer I was motivated more by disgust at and rage toward Mike Bloomberg than I was by love of Bill Thompson but the more I heard the man the larger a man he seemed to me to be.

Did I think he had a shot?  Well, I knew there was a well-spring of rage out there over Bloomberg’s over turning of term-limits and I knew many people who were sick and tired of the onslaught of luxury condos and the like but… for me it was more an act of faith and one of self respect than anything.  I needed to sleep at night knowing I did all I could do not to simply accept   what I considered and consider an act of extreme violence against all democratic principles and any notion of fairness.   I am, of course, referring to Bloomberg’s coup via   City Council.

Of course, I was aware of the endless polls predicting a Bloomberg landslide and, such was the onslaught via all  of the senses,  that  no sensate being could be unaware of the ceaseless ads for the  greatness of  Mayor Mike and ( especially toward the  end ) the untrustworthiness, incompetence, recklessness and poor dental habits of  the poor loser Bill Thompson.   I was also aware of how very powerful and wily players in the city’s Democratic  orbit – chief among them but  hardly alone the shameless Christine Quinn —  had soiled themselves and completely betrayed their  party and whatever principles they may have once pretended to  believe in to please the mayor  who would be king.

But I also knew that t there were some  —   John Lui and Bill De Blasio, chief among them,   who had stuck to their  guns and dignity and refused Mike Bloomberg’s entreaties to disgrace themselves for the betterment of Mike.    These people were with Thompson despite his seemingly hopeless, futile campaign. It was a matter of  party  loyalty and it  was matter of principle.

Now here it was the morning after and, to the shock of almost everyone in the city, the all-powerful Bloomberg had squeaked in by a margin of less than 5 %.   I sipped my coffee and studied one of the posters.  On  the right was a confident looking Thompson, arms folded, looking straight into the camera.  On the left was President Barack Obama, smiling staring into the  distance into  nothing in particular.  The poster, as it  turned out, was  about as close as Obama would get to Thompson, a man of  his  own party and a man heroically —  and I do  not mean that word ironically —  standing  up to a figure who publically  urinated on the rights of all eligible voters in New York City and paid  not even  a quality  of life ticket while  vowing to spend upwards of  $60 million dollars  to crush any  mere mortal  who dared oppose him. Bloomberg would eventually spend close to $ 100 million dollars.  No matter.  After all  others fled, Thompson stood his ground.  The press all but ignored him.  The man would have to set himself aflame to get any attention.  No matter.  Thompson pushed on.  Day after day.  Month after month.  Against enormous  odds.

There in the dawn light I asked myself, where was the president ?  Where was Obama ?

Why did  he  not help this man ?  Was Thompson not standing up to everything a good democrat and a good Democrat should stand up to: plutocracy, immense wealth, and the sleaziest kinds of politics possible.  Did he not stand for the things that a good democrat and a good Democrat would stand for: working class people, community control, affordable housing and so on.   So  why was  Obama silent ?

Oh yes, he endorsed   Thompson, kind of, via a spokesman even as he visited New Jersey three times actively campaigning for Gov. Jon Corzine. Two weeks ago when  Obama was actually in New York, he barely said hello to Thompson.

In effect, Obama abandoned Thompson.  In his silence you might even say he betrayed him. Worse,  Obama’s pathetic and feeble endorsement could  easily be read as a tacit, weasely endorsement  of  Bloomberg.   I kept thinking about that 5% margin.  Imagine if Obama had spent a single afternoon actively campaigning for Thompson with even half the enthusiasm he campaigned for Corzine.   Imagine if he had made but one commercial for the man.   Imagine he had done anything more than the nothing he did and you do not have to imagine Bill Thompson as the new mayor of New York.

The question, a question as far as I know nobody has yet bothered to ask Obama, is why?  Why did the President of the United States   do nothing, nothing at  all,  to help a fellow Democrat become mayor of the greatest and most influential city in the United States?

Why  would Obama not help a Democrat  running against a billionaire ( who voted for  John McCain ) who so  transparently believes himself to  be above the law ?

The mind boggles.  Dark thoughts seep in.  Obama has spent a good  deal of the first eight months of his presidency proving again and again and again he is  not  what he  appeared to  be, not what we  so desire  him to be, not  what we need him to  be.

The  question remains:  What is he ?  Who is  he ?  What does he  stand for ?

I hope for the  sake of this  nation that I’m wrong  but I think Barack Obama has more in common with Mike Bloomberg than he does with Bill Thompson.  More, I do not think it beyond the realm of possibility that some kind of hidden deal was made between the two.  Consider the issue of education “reform.” Consider that President Obama wants to do for the entirety of the United States what Bloomberg has done to a considerable extent in New York:  he has corporatized education, the better to  privatize.    Consider that before his disastrous selection of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education, President –Elect Obama was seriously considering the even more disastrous NYC Chancellor of Education Joel Klein, he who wet dreams over reducing teachers by 30 % and replacing them with the miracle of “distance learning.”   (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/22/nyregion/22bigcity.html?emc=eta1 )

Consider that Joel Klein, federal prosecutor with no education experience whatever, was hired to undermine the teachers’ union via non union charter schools, evisceration of tenure, idiot schemes such as  “merit pay”, data based evaluations of teachers based on their students test scores, and endless intimidation and pressure.  Consider that Barack Obama’s  and Arne Duncan’s  revealingly named “Race To The Top “ education reforms are demanding from states across the nation the exact same  insanity for such states to  be even  considered for federal  stimulus money they  so  desperately  need to need  to  survive.

Now consider that if elected Bill  Thompson vowed to immediately  fire Klein and replace him with a professional educator.  Consider that Bill Thompson spoke repeatedly and passionately about the craziness of endless testing and necessity of  subjects such as music and art.

Could this be the reason that Obama did nothing to help this decent, thoughtful and righteous man?   Could this be the reason  Obama, in effect, abandoned him like a dog on a highway ?

Make no mistake about it.  As our manufacturing base drifts from one slave wage nation to the next slave wage nation, education has come into the radar of the same kind of ruthless predators who so desperately desired to privatize social security.  Note well that the biggest financial backer of charters school is  Wal-Mart.  Note well that No Child Left Behind has mandated the federal government into every school in every nook and cranny across the continental United States. Note very well that there are billions and billions to be made in textbooks, tests, test prep, reading systems, writing systems and on and on and on — and let us not forget charter schools.   What Bloomberg wants  is  what Obama wants:  the privatization of the public  school system.

If this happens in the major cities – Chicago, Las Angeles, New York – the rest of the country will follow.  But first the unions must be destroyed or undermined.

Bill Thompson finds  such schemes silly or even insane.  Mike Bloomberg finds them visionary.

This, I believe and I fear is the reason for the silence of  Obama.  And what a cost,  this silence.