School choice opponents suggest Kaleem Caire is a long-lost Koch Brother

Previously on Bring It!, we reported on the Left's campaign of vilification directed at Kaleem Caire.

The Left must discredit Mr. Caire for daring to disrupt the comfortable "Madison Way" by proposing a non-union charter school catering to students of color. He must be politically neutered for pointing out this liberal bastion's failure to graduate even half of its black students.

By the usual and convenient method of tying him to that Great Right-Wing Conspiracy in the Sky. The man for that job is one Allen Ruff. In comments before the school board and on his blog, avidly picked up and repeated by other liberal/progressive outlets, the Madison-based historian and social activist has been spinning an intricate web of guilt by association and seven degrees of separation in order to out Mr. Caire as a closet conservative, a secret tea partier, and a suspect capitalist.But how to disparage the president of the Madison Urban League, the founder of One Hundred Black Men of Madison, and the 2001 recipient of the city of Madison's Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award?

The case against Caire

So, let's examine some of Allen's rough stuff. Ruff breathlessly reports that Kaleem Caire participated in a discussion panel at the Philanthropy Roundtable's 2004 annual meeting where he spoke on "breakthroughs in education …, as well as the challenges that lay ahead. The Roundtable is funded by an array of conservative foundations, including the notorious Charles G. Koch Foundation."

Get that? It's the "notorious" Koch Foundation.

Joining Caire in this nest of vipers were James Shelton, program director for education at the Gates Foundation [that being the charity of Microsoft Founder Bill and Melinda Gates], and Phoebe Boyer, executive director of New York City's Tiger Foundation ("Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in New York City") and head of the board of the NYC Charter Center.

"Caire also has been a featured speaker at various events sponsored by the CATO Institute, the libertarian think tank long associated with various right-wing causes," Ruff discloses.

Ruff denigrates Caire's membership in the Black Alliance for Educational Options via his favorite source, the Leftist "People for the American Way":

"While noting that the group brought together many African-American voucher supporters, a fraction of whom were involved in right-wing politics [Hear that? "A fraction of whom …" – Blaska], it also pointed out that that [The Black Alliance] occupied a place among the other think tanks and local organizations that had been created with money from right-wing foundations as well as individuals and organizations hoping to profit from promoting increased privatization of public education."

(Ruff's two-part take-down of Kaleem Caire: Part 1: "History, Not Conspiracy" and Part 2: "The Company One Keeps".)

Blaska's case for Caire

The beauty of Ruff's kind of conspiracy-mongering is that it allows the purveyor to escape the burden of actually having to argue the merits or demerits of his position.

Mr. Ruff doesn't even attempt to make the case that his adversaries' prescriptions have failed or will. Nor need he offer his own solutions. Nowhere does he critique the current system or even acknowledge that, in many cases, it has failed. Just spin a web of supposed intrigue around your adversary, sprinkle in some well-scripted villains, rinse and repeat.

Ruff's tactic may work. "Koch Brothers" is liberal code for "evil." But ask yourself this: why wouldn't proponents of education reform and school choice seek succor from people who believe in their cause? Put another way: is a drowning man supposed to refuse the lifeline because the wrong sort of people threw it?

Coming up, we'll ask who is Allen Ruff to question anyone's politics?

In their face

This billboard went up on Feb. 12 in Richland Center, right next to the Democratic Party headquarters where the recall signatures were collected on Main and 6th streets.

Who said it?

"Why do it a full year after it would have helped in The Uprising. He would not come to Madison, would not send Biden, the Secretary of Labor, or anyone else. Not even a message of support! We were on our own thank you very much — as it turns out he wasn't needed but he sure blew an opportunity to bolster the determined and gutsy recall canvassers. People he will need in a big way next November." – Fighting Ed Garvey about Barack Obama's visit to Milwaukee with Gov. Scott Walker.

Little noted or reported, President Obama wants to increase federal employees' contributions to their retirement pensions by 1.2% over three years, saving $27 billion over 10 years. Government employees in Wisconsin still have more collective bargaining rights than federal employees or those of 24 states after Act 10.

No wonder Barack Obama ain't marching in Madison any time soon.

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