Madison Prep School opponent Allen Ruff is a revolutionary socialist

Question: Where is the political Left on education reform? Answer: In the trenches alongside the reactionary teachers unions fighting to preserve the failed status quo.

Madison activist Allen Ruff is helping good Madison liberals feel better about attacking Kaleem Caire (who is inconveniently of African-American descent) and his proposal for a Madison charter school by “exposing” the school reformer as something of a closet Koch Brother.

Joe McCarthy would recognize Ruff’s methodology: guilt by association and seven degrees of separation.

For the most part, Ruff falls back on merely reciting the Left’s enemies list:

  • “Caire … has been a featured speaker at various events sponsored by the CATO Institute, the libertarian think tank long associated with various right-wing causes.”
  • “The billionaire former president of the Amway Corp, Dick DeVos has been heavily involved in the movement to privatize public schools.”
  • “Wal-Mart heir John Walton, honored by the Black Alliance for Educational Options as one of its major patrons, also contributed millions …”

I’ve been a dues-paying Republican in these parts for over 20 years. I can attest that Kaleem Caire is a consistent no-show at GOP clambakes, cocktail parties, pig roasts, and golf outings.But what’s a reformer to do? When he gets Ruff treatment from the reactionary Left, why shouldn’t he grab the lifeline thrown by people who offer help?

Two can play this game

If Mr. Ruff can disparage Kaleem Caire for his associations, I can return the favor.

Understand, I have no anger in my heart. Mr. Ruff and I have spoken cordially. The man is entitled to his opinions. What I can’t get my head around is why anyone should listen to Allen Ruff on education. The man is so far Left he scares Hugo Chavez. In Madison, I confess, that may be an asset.

In many ways, Allen Ruff is a prototypical Madison Leftie. The bearded one has a public affairs program on the nonprofit community radio station WORT-FM, drives for the Union Cab cooperative, and works at Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative.

Allen swims in the strong currents of Far Left political activism. He is, for one example, a member of Solidarity, according to its “An Account from Madison.” He has been a frequent contributor to its magazine, Against the Current.

Solidarity describes itself as “a revolutionary socialist, feminist, and anti-racist organization” that still uses such Leftist locutions as inherent “contradictions of capitalism” with no apparent sense of irony or of history.

Don’t you just love the Soviet-style red star in its logo?!

According Solidarity’s manifesto, “Socialism can only be achieved by a revolutionary mass political movement of the working class which ends the political rule of the capitalist class and private ownership of the means of production.”

Hey kids! Better cash in your 401(k) before it’s too late!

Ruff also writes for Monthly Review, “an independent socialist magazine” that features such good reading as the occasional “Reflections of Fidel,” written by, yes, that Fidel. A typical entry: “Yesterday I had the satisfaction of having a pleasant conversation with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

Nice company you keep, Comrade Ruff.

Ruff on education is less the revolutionary and more the reactionary. He defends the top-down, one-size-fits-all status quo, dominated as it is by an anachronistic, 1930s-era, industrial-style labor union, instead of demanding that the institution serve the individual. Shades of the old Soviet system!

Ruff ignores a growing clamor from such otherwise liberal voices as the late Steve Jobs; Davis Guggenheim, producer of the searing Waiting for Superman documentary film; former NYC school chancellor Joel Klein; Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan; or Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Not a tea partier among them.

Liberal smart ALECs

One of the most popular boogeymen among our liberal-progressive acquaintances is the American Legislative Exchange Council, aka “ALEC.” Tendentious screeds posing as journalistic exposés have been published proving that a) the organization really exists and b) it is conservative.

Legislators from the 50 states – Justice Brandeis’ “laboratories of democracy” – share best practices, what works and what does not, to take back home. If liberals do not have such an organization, they are derelict in their duty.

Instead, they want to use the machinery of the state to hogtie what they cannot defeat on a roll call vote. When you can’t compete in the arena of ideas, you rig the scoreboard. Democrats like Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) have introduced legislation to require “the now notorious” ALEC (in the words of The Capital Times) to register as a lobbyist. How it would do so is unclear, given that no ALEC employees prowl the lobbies of the State Capitol, unlike, say, the hired guns for AFSCME and the environmental lobby.

Come to think of it, because The Capital Times itself proposes (and opposes) legislation from time to time, it should take its own medicine and register as a lobbyist itself. BTW: There’s nothing secret about ALEC. Its positions are posted for everyone to see and debate. Isn’t that in the best spirit of democracy?

Nothing to see here, folks. The Pew Center on the States finds that one in eight voter registrations across the nation is bogus. The Pew people, another ALEC front group?

Blaska Brings It: Gravity – it’s not just a good idea, it’s the LAW!

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