Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Over this past weekend, sixty-three people were shot in the city of Chicago, with, as of Monday morning, nine fatalities.  Have you noticed the overwhelming news coverage of this travesty?  I've not seen it.  Sixty-three shootings,...

To whom do black lives really matter?

Over this past weekend, sixty-three people were shot in the city of Chicago, with, as of Monday morning, nine fatalities.  Have you noticed the overwhelming news coverage of this travesty?  I've not seen it.  Sixty-three shootings, and outside Chicago, it seems nothing more than a footnote on news ("by the way, a lot of people were shot in Chicago this weekend...again").  How many cities actually have an online shooting tracker as does Chicago?
It appears that none of the shootings were committed by white separatists, racists, or members of the KKK, which at present seem to be the primary objects of overwhelming media interest.  (To be fair, I can't rule out the possibility that the mass shootings were precipitated by statues memorializing the U.S. Civil War.)
This is the same Chicago where Mayor Emanuel, after the election of President Trump, welcomed those in the country illegally by saying, "You are safe in Chicago, you are secure in Chicago, and you are supported in Chicago. ... Chicago will always be a sanctuary city."  How has this sanctuary city decision, one might ask, benefited those living in Chicago?  Does anyone in Chicago feel "safe, secure, and supported" other than criminal aliens seeking to avoid capture and deportation?  Who else today actually feels safe in Mayor Emanuel's Chicago?  Certainly, those trapped in inner-city neighborhoods where police fear to police and crime and gang violence is rampant don't feel safe.  They don't feel secure and supported.  Chicago is not a sanctuary for them; it is a nightmare. 
You might think the mainstream media would have at least as much to say about the weekend carnage in Chicago as they have to say about President Trump's assessment of blame for recent weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia – violence that pales in comparison to an average weekend in the Windy City.  However, in spite of the oft heard refrain "Black Lives Matter," such lives don't seem of much concern if the deaths happen to occur in Chicago.  Neither do they elicit much response if their ends are brought about at the hands of other blacks in drive-by shootings.  Indeed, black lives seem to matter to our politicians and their media acolytes only if deaths can be blamed on the police or other so-called racist bigots.
For those running for public office as Democrats, "Black Lives Matter" makes an effective campaign slogan to gin up the minority vote every two and four years.  To our progressive media, it's a persuasive mantra to discredit Republicans and white males who by virtue of skin color are labeled racist.  But for minority Americans living in the poorer neighborhoods of Chicago, black lives truly do matter.  It is their reality.  It is their tragedy.  It is they who live in fear.  It is their lives at risk daily.  It is their lives that should matter to all of us.   
Why don't black lives matter enough to our 
politicians to force the removal of criminals and
gangs who, in our country illegally, prey on the 
helpless?  Why don't black lives matter enough to enforce our laws and get the violent criminals out of the neighborhoods and off the streets?  If black lives really matter, why are state, local, and federal governments so reluctant to take the steps necessary to put an end to this needless and wanton loss of life?  One has to ask just how much liberal politicians and the progressive media really care about black lives.
Do black lives really matter to those in authority having the duty to protect?  If so, where is the evidence to demonstrate such concern?  It is certainly not to be found in the city of Chicago!

Chicago Public Schools lays off nearly 1,000 as budget impasse threatens more

By Alexander Fangmann
23 August 2017
In early August, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which is controlled by Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel, announced the layoff of 956 workers, including 356 teachers. At the same time, further teacher layoffs and cuts in public education are being planned around the state of Illinois, including at CPS, as state funding to school districts has been halted until Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled state legislature come to an agreement on a school funding bill.
The layoff of educators at CPS, which occurs on a yearly basis, has brought the number of teachers at CPS to fewer than 21,000, from over 26,000 a decade ago, a decline of nearly 20 percent. Meanwhile, class sizes, particularly in kindergarten and the early grades, are among the bottom 10 percent of the state, with some averaging more than 29 students per classroom.
Aside from classroom teachers, other educators and school professionals have seen their ranks fall precipitously. Only 160 librarians are budgeted for all schools, meaning that fewer than 25 percent of schools even have one. Social workers and guidance counseling staff have also been severely reduced.
While CPS claims that the layoffs are the result of “enrollment changes, program adjustments and/or changes in students’ academic needs,” demographic changes alone do not account for the continued layoffs. Indeed, the demographic shifts themselves are in part a product of a deliberate policy of dismantling the system of public education by starving it of funds and promoting the construction of charter schools.
One of the crueler aspects of CPS’s yearly layoff tradition is that laid-off teachers are forced to apply for open positions at other schools. As long as they possess high enough teacher or employee ratings, in other words, if they have not been negatively targeted by their principals, they are eligible to apply at a series of humiliating job fairs. According to CPS there will be approximately 500 open positions, and that in previous years around 60 percent of laid-off teachers have found positions elsewhere within the system.
These layoffs are likely to be only the first round of cuts planned by CPS for the current school year. A provision of the recently passed state budget specified that no school district in the state would receive funding until the passage of a separate bill overhauling how the state doles out funding to school districts.
Since the Democratic-majority in the state General Assembly was able to override Rauner’s veto, the impasse between them over the continued role of the trade unions in the imposition of social cuts has shifted to the education-funding bill, to which Rauner issued an amendatory veto.
Schools have already missed one payment so far, the first time the state has failed to send school funding to districts, and are preparing to miss a second. Districts around the state are preparing contingency plans in order to open schools on time for the fall term, with some combination of budgets cuts and layoffs and increased debt in order to make up the balance.
Ostensibly, the purpose of the education-funding bill, known as Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), is to fix some of the enormous inequality of Illinois’ education funding system, which relies heavily on local property taxes to fund schools. Indeed, according to a report from the Education Law Center, Illinois gets a grade of F for the fairness of its state education funding, with high-poverty school districts receiving less per-student funding from the state than low-poverty districts.
The bill supposedly remedies this inequality through the elaboration of “adequacy targets” for each school district in the state. These adequacy targets, which represent what it would cost to properly educate students in the district, are based on complex formulae that take into account a variety of factors including the number of special education students, poverty rates and regional cost differences. Each district is then assigned a “local capacity funding” number, what each district should be able to afford, based on the property taxes it can draw from. Those districts with bigger differences between their adequacy targets and local capacity targets would be in line to receive greater state aid.
CPS would benefit greatly from a number of provisions in SB 1. One would allow CPS to deduct teacher pension costs from its local capacity, as CPS is the only school district that funds teacher pensions directly, with the state picking up pensions for teachers elsewhere. CPS, and other districts, would also be able to deduct property tax revenue in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts from their local capacity targets, as the TIF mechanism reduces property taxes in designated areas from being accessed by schools, libraries and other taxing bodies.
However, behind the high-flown promises of school funding reform, the reality is that little will change for most school districts, including CPS. Estimates are that under the new funding system in SB 1, the state would need to raise between $3.5 to $4 billion in new revenue in order to actually meet those adequacy targets, none of which is anticipated. As a result, one of the biggest differences is that CPS would receive a block grant of $250 million, largely to cover a backlog of pension payments.
Additionally, the bill contains a number of provisions that further the attack on public education. One would require that charter schools be funded at least 97 percent of the school district per capita rate, rather than 75 percent. Another changes the funding mechanism for special education and bilingual education, combining it with general education funding and potentially threatening services that the most vulnerable students rely upon.
Rauner’s amendatory veto left much of the adequacy targets in place, but removes the provisions for TIFs and pensions from all school districts. Furthermore, it removed a provision that adjusted adequacy targets based on the rate of inflation, rendering them meaningless over time.
Almost immediately after Rauner issued his amendatory veto, the Democratic-controlled Illinois Senate voted to override his veto, supporting the original bill. Since then, intense negotiations have gone on behind the scenes in the Illinois House over a compromise.
Among the proposals being floated by Republicans is a tax credit for parents who send their children to private schools, essentially a voucher program, funded at $100 million.
At a panel at the City Club of Chicago on August 15, Republican state senator Jason Barickman offered that one way to end the impasse would be to restrict collective bargaining rights for teachers in the rest of the state, putting them on the same level as Chicago teachers, whose own collective bargaining rights were previously curtailed by the Democrats, in close collaboration with the Chicago Teachers Union and other teachers unions in the state.
Outside of restrictions on the topics of collective bargaining to wages, Barickman also wanted to open up privatizing substantial aspects of public education, saying, “One of the abilities is for Chicago to use third-party contractors for the provision of non-instructional services, whether it be safety, grounds keeping, landscaping or the like.”
In response to the layoffs, not to mention the grave attacks on education and the farcical education funding reform represented by SB 1, the Chicago Teachers Union has kept conspicuously silent. Not only have there been no major protests, the CTU has merely suggested that laid-off teachers attend the hiring fairs, contributing greatly to teacher demoralization. Teachers interested in the defense of public education must build independent rank-and-file committees in a break with the CTU and the AFT, which are allied with the Democratic Party and abet their crimes against the working class.



 How the Democrat party surrendered America to Mexico:

“The watchdogs at Judicial Watch discovered documents that reveal how the Obama administration's close coordination with the Mexican government entices Mexicans to hop over the fence and on to the American dole.”  Washington Times

If you don’t stand up, nothing happens”

Union isolates Chicago-area auto mechanics strike in its fourth week

By Jessica Goldstein and George Marlowe
22 August 2017
Nearly 2,000 auto mechanics in the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Auto Mechanics Union Local 701 have entered the fourth week of a strike at auto dealerships in Chicago, Illinois and the surrounding suburbs. The rank-and-file mechanics are fighting for better pay and working conditions, but the union has isolated the striking workers from the wider working class and are seeking to end the strike as quickly as possible by pushing through a concessions contract.
Auto mechanics in the local work under a byzantine piece rate system of pay in which they are paid not by the number of hours that they work on the clock, but by the hourly rate of labor that the auto manufacturer assigns to each part—which decreases year after year.
Carmello, an apprentice mechanic at a Chicago dealership, spoke to the WSWS about the reasons why he was out on strike: “Over the past eight years, we have more diagnostic steps for vehicles, more documentation that’s required. It all takes more time. And they usually end up cutting down the rates for the part-labor hours. The current minimum is 34 hours for part-labor hours. We are asking for hours paid for hours worked.”
Under the current contract, the mechanics are guaranteed only 34 part-labor hours per week, for which they must labor on the clock for at least 40 hours or more. Under the new contract, the union has proposed a 40-hour part-labor guarantee per week. The proposal won’t do anything to improve the standard of living for the workers—in practice, it amounts to more work for less pay, the very conditions against which they have been struggling during the strike.
“Most of us work hours more than 40 hours a week,” Carmello noted. “Some of our guys only get paid for an hour for diagnosing when they spend hours for fixing the problem.”
The contract also fails to address the other forms of exploitation that mechanics face, such as low wages, exorbitant out-of-pocket costs for tools, an increase in health insurance costs, and unpaid labor and training.
Christian spoke about the increase of health insurance costs. “For me,” he said, “the additional cost of health insurance too is something I’m opposed to. Who’s to say they won’t keep increasing our costs? Now it’s a $5 increase, next time it will be hundreds more.”
He also spoke about high out-of-pocket costs mechanics incur for education and tools just to get an extremely low-wage job in the industry. “Some of these guys spend more than $30-40,000 in education. Many of us are still paying off student loans and tens of thousands of dollars in tools.
“That’s a personal investment just to get into the door. So you have thousands of dollars in debt just to get a job as a Lube Technician entry job for $9.50 an hour, less than a McDonald’s worker. Sixteen years later you may—if you are lucky—become a journeyman. One guy here has been here for 10 years only as a semi-skilled and it may take him a total of 18 years just to become a journeyman.
“I’d like to see some kind of meaningful progression for younger guys to advance in the apprenticeship program and make sure we also have a 40-hour guarantee.”
In order to stay in the good graces of the auto dealerships, the union has also backed down on the 40-hour week guarantee, the very proposal upon which the contract rested. On Thursday, the union released the following statement on its web site: “There are several dealers that are being told inaccurate information regarding the Union’s positions. They are being told the Union is steadfast on their 40 hour guarantee proposal. That is inaccurate. Once the dealers contact the Union directly to inquire about this 40 hour stance that they’re being told along with discussing the outstanding terms that remain and what the Union is willing to accept results in their subsequent desire to break from the NCDC [New Car Dealer Committee].”
While workers want to fight for a better standard of living, the IAM has no intention of doing so, as it functions as a tool of corporate management.
Earlier this year, in February, a vote by rank-and-file workers at Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, rejected the recognition of the IAM as a union at the plant. The workers, 74 percent of whom voted against the union, made the decision based on their experiences with the betrayals of the IAM, such as stripping workers of the right to strike, ending company-paid pensions, wage and health care cuts.
In August 2012, Caterpillar workers went on strike in opposition to the pro-corporate contract put forth by the IAM and the company at the Joliet, Illinois plant, which ended when workers approved the contract by a slim majority after a bitter three-and-a-half month strike. The contract forced upon the workers all of the demands of the company that they had voted down three months earlier.
The mechanics of Local 701 can expect their struggle to end in the same way if the strike stays in the hands of the IAM leadership. The union is clearly doing all that it can to push through the contract and end the strike. According to the Local 701 web page, dealerships are using intimidation tactics and police repression to scare workers into crossing the picket line. The union has made no sincere condemnation of these tactics, and has not given the workers any means to protect themselves from such intimidation. In the same post, it reveals, “The Union is earnestly seeking to resolve these open issues and to end the strike and to get our members back to work.”
The local’s Facebook page reveals the financial distress that workers’ families are faced with during the strike. As one worker commented, “I have called the union and they said they were setting up a GoFundMe account. That isn’t going to be enough for everyone. My husband and I did not have the means to save due to my ongoing medical issues and were not in the union long enough to save much. I’m taking up more hours at work but [there] is so much I can do. Since this is not going anywhere anytime soon, my family needs help.”
Although the local attempts to present itself in a militant light on its Facebook page, what the workers have to say about their struggles paints a much different picture. The union, whose bureaucrats enjoy the wealth generated by union dues and corporate kickbacks, are using the strike to financially weaken the workers so that they will submit to corporate demands and end the struggle. Other unions, like the United Auto Workers and United Steelworkers, have set up GoFundMe pages for workers in financial distress, so as not to cut into the wealth of the bureaucrats and the unions and to suppress mounting opposition from the rank-and-file.
“We’re out here to fight,” one of the workers on the picket line noted. “Like any other revolution, or tide-changing event, it comes from the people when they have had enough and they stand up. If you don’t stand up, nothing happens.”

To win their struggle, the mechanics need to break out of the isolation and stranglehold imposed by IAM and form their own independent rank-and-file committees to advance their demands. Such demands can only be advanced by uniting with the struggles of millions of workers in auto, steel, rail, 
and other industries, in the US and internationally against the entire capitalist system in an independent struggle for socialism and the liberation of the working class.


The same period has seen a massive growth of social inequality, with income and wealth concentrated at the very top of American society to an extent not seen since the 1920s.

“This study follows reports released over the past several months documenting rising mortality rates among US workers due to drug addiction and suicide, high rates of infant mortality, an overall leveling off of life expectancy, and a growing gap between the life expectancy of the bottom 







 How the Democrat party surrendered America to Mexico:

“The watchdogs at Judicial Watch discovered documents that reveal how the Obama administration's close coordination with the Mexican government entices Mexicans to hop over the fence and on to the American dole.”  Washington Times

ugust 23, 2017

So should all laws be optional?

Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others like him have decided they don't have to obey immigration laws or cooperate with immigration authorities.  Some are suing the federal government for threatening to cut off federal funding.
By this logic, politicians from throughout the country obviously should also be allowed to ignore tax laws, environmental laws and regulations, OSHA regulations, labor laws, education rules and regulations, banking laws, etc.  Basically, anything politicians deem unacceptable, they should just ignore.  If the federal government threatens to cut off any funds from the taxpayers, the politicians can sue, saying the government has no right to tell them how to run their city or state.
It would be great if Mayor Emanuel, California's Governor Jerry Brown, New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo, Illinois's House speaker Michael Madigan, and all the other brilliant politicians were to decide which part of their oath of office they want to abide by.
After all, we had a president and a secretary of state who could pick and choose whatever laws they would follow and enforce.  We had a Justice Department that had some real investigations and other "pretend" investigations called "matters," depending on whether it liked your political positions.
Individuals and businesses should also be able to pick and choose, or are politicians special?
When I was a senior in high school, I had the privilege to be a page in the Illinois House of Representatives.  I obviously had the mistaken belief that when legislative bodies passed laws, the laws were for all people, including politicians.  I actually believed that when politicians took an oath to follow the laws, they meant it.  I was so na├»ve.
It is hard to picture what might go wrong if everyone could have a choice of what laws to obey.  We are a nation of men, not laws – or is it laws, not men?  It is so hard to tell after the last eight years.
In the Democrats' world, politicians throughout the country should have the freedom of choice to follow immigration laws without threat of loss of our money, but individuals and businesses can't be allowed the freedom of choice of what kind of health insurance to buy without not only paying massively higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, but also paying additional taxes to the master if they don't follow the letter of the law.  The politicians who actually passed the law and said they were subject to it had an authoritarian president who assumed that all government money was his, and he gave them a special tax benefit that the law didn't allow.  Politicians are so special.
It is great to have a president who wants to give the power and purse back to the people where it belongs instead of an authoritarian president who believed that the purse and power needed to reside at the hands of the powerful government.  It is a shame that almost all the media support the lawless mayors and governors and the actual authoritarian president, no matter how he abused his constitutional authority.
It is also great to have a president who decides how the military should run based on what the military leaders say and recommend instead of Valerie Jarrett.  It is also much better and safer for the men and women who so generously volunteered to protect our freedom to have military leaders decide on the rules of engagement instead of political advisers.
Matt Lauer was interviewing Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday and complained that Trump didn't detail the actual number of troops and a timeline.  That strategy worked so well in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It is a good thing Lauer and Obama never advised Washington, Lincoln, or Roosevelt how to run a war.  People who learn so little from history, especially recent history, aren't very bright.rung of income earners compared to those at the top.”

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