Join the Friday Vigil at the Federal Building-We Refuse to Tolerate Ethnic Cleansing

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Press Advisory

Federal Building Vigil this Friday–We Refuse to Tolerate Ethnic Cleansing

Oakland, CA: On Friday, January 19th at noon the California Sanctuary Campaign, the Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership, Mujeres Activas Y Unidas, the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, CAIR-SF Bay Area, Haiti Action Committee, the Qal’bu Maryam Women’s Mosque, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, the Oakland Justice Coalition, Latino Task Force, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, the East Bay Young Dems, and the Coalition for Police Accountability will come together in front of the Oakland Federal Building to stand vigil against current White House policies which directly threaten the lives of people of color in this country and abroad.

According to Rev J Alfred Smith Jr of Allen Temple Baptist Church, “the president’s stated policies and actions will promote the ethnic cleansing of whole swaths of Black and Brown people whether native born, immigrant or refugee, seeking opportunity and the ability to raise their families in dignity. The president repeatedly makes racist and misogynistic statements which result in directives from his DOJ and the Congress while families are separated by federal authorities, children are left without healthcare, jails fill with our youth, and refugees are refused asylum.  We must take a moral stand against the president and his party before these destructive attitudes and actions do any more damage.”

The vigil is being held the day prior to the historic Women’s March which will take place in cities and towns across the country to assert that women’s rights are human rights. The vigil calls attention to the special jeopardy that women of color face as a result of current policies which threaten not only their economic well-being but their safety in the streets, at their workplaces, and in their homes.

We call on other cities to protest outside local federal buildings at noon on Friday, January 19th. If we cannot look to our president or the Congress to uphold the moral authority of our country’s stated values, then we must do it ourselves.

Contact: Pamela Drake, pamelaadrake@gmail.com, 510-593-3721

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Progressive Women and the Franken Divide

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Senator Al Franken has resigned – and it could be argued that he had lost his powerful voice anyway after so many allegations of groping had come out. But another argument could be made that by admitting he had made mistakes [although he denied the latest allegations] and submitting himself to criticism and formal investigation, he gave his power away in order to keep the high moral ground that Democrats are now claiming.

It’s a Wonderful Life, Ted Kennedy Version-

Reflecting on Franken, undisputably a (former) rising star in the progressive wing of the party, brought to mind another progressive political leader, one much more flawed than Franken.

What if Ted Kennedy had never lived or been removed early in his career due to his serious transgressions? Would the Affordable Care Act have become law, would the WIC https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/women-infants-and-children-wic program have gotten passed? Would SCHIP  https://www.gohealthinsurance.com/health-insurance-information/what-is-schip.html have given poor kids medical coverage, coverage now revoked by this sickening adminstration? And going all the way back to the beginning of Kennedy’s career, would the 1964 Civil Rights Act ever have gotten through a recalcitrant senate?

I thought about this recently when an acquaintance tweeted that Kennedy had been (partly) responsible for his opportunity to become an American after leaving Vietnam on a leaky boat. He had cosponsored The Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act in 1975 and according to Wikipedia [please donate] “Senator Edward Kennedy and Representative Liz Holtzman were the leaders of the refugee advocacy community, and the first supporters of the 1975 Act. They were backed by labor groups like the AFL-CIO and religious services, including the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Church World Service. Their goals to redefine the legal notions of “refugee status” and attain a more comprehensive amnesty policy were not realized until the Refugee Act of 1980.[8

Would we be enjoying the benefits these Southeast Asian families have brought to our shores and would they have survived at all? It’s not an academic exercise and it’s not pretty having to dissect how things work in the real world but I think we need to do it.

Senator Kennedy left us 8 years ago, but  we should remind ourselves that Mary Jo Kopechne lost her life at 29-years-of-age, 38 years ago when she drowned or suffocated in the waters off Chappaquiddick. The young senator had driven off a bridge, had left her in the sunken car and simply forgot to report this “incident.” Was Edward M Kennedy, Liberal Lion of the Senate, the guy who endorsed President Obama early on and made healthcare-for-all his lifetime goal, also a monster who drank to excess and treated women like toys? I think he was both and I don’t know what to do about that.

And let’s not forget that Ted’s older brother, the legendary Jack Kennedy of Camelot fame, cavorted with gangsters-who may have won him the presidency-and used women like tissues so let’s be real about our heroes. I’m not interested in a discussion over whether the history books should be rewritten but whether we have thought out how we move forward– and what the consequences are in this time and place of our actions or inactions. Have we had that conversation? Can we have it, do we even know how?

It’s still a boys’s club and the boys who are in charge now are quite willing to watch as we demand more from each other while they get away with murder or at least child molestation: 

Robert Reich put it succinctly, “I’m glad Democrats are taking principled stands against sexual harassment but sickened by Trump’s and Republicans unwillingness to do the same. Tyranny beckons when the principled fall on their swords while the unprincipled keep theirs.

The decision to push Franken out has been portrayed as a purely moral one but its underside is that there is also a political calculus that somehow expelling Al would also remove some road blocks to throwing out Trump or future Senator Moore. I dunno, can you see that working?

It seems to me that we are in a war, maybe not a shooting one but that’s only because actual bullets are not needed for Republicans to get their way. Without a shot being fired, they have impoverished millions by eliminating the medical care offered by the ACA and soon Medicare, plan on reducing or even ending Social Security, are removing environmental protections, including cutting parks and monuments, have already passed laws promoting gun slinging, reduced the courts to a mediocre weapon of their far right ideology and more…. every day. They are courting nuclear war and terrorism while torpedoing hope during the worst refugee crisis in the history of the world. They are on a path not to take us back to the 1950’s but to something like the Age of Inquisition. kn120817dAPR20171206094507 (1)

It’s possible that the GOP or the Bannonites constructed most,  though probably not all, of the allegations against Franken who they saw as a rising general on our side of this war. He had the wit and intelligence to fight for us without starting an actual civil war as he knew something else too, how to reach across the aisle without conceding a bit of his progressive goals. Since he resigned on Thursday, I have read social media responses from many, many women who were opposed to Franken’s resignation [not a formal survey.] And we know that most women have experienced some form of harassment at work and of course, in the street so their responses don’t seem based on a lack of experience.

So here are some examples of the divide, without identities or any accounting of age or ethnicity:

From twitter: “I understand the politics behind this, but it makes me uneasy. The allegations against Franken are comparatively benign and largely unvetted.#GOP will not follow suit and the precedent this sets could easily be weaponized. https://t.co/FxKS4bJfax

Responses to this tweet- “At this point, I am very, very angry at the Democrats for turning on Al Franken this way, when the evidence against him is so weak, what he is alleged to have done is so minimal (compared to men who actively pursue women who have already said “no” and who have economic or other power over those women) and the Republicans have every reason to want him gone. I am almost never a believer in conspiracies, but the allegations against Franken just don’t pass the smell test.”

I am so, so happy to read what you all have to say. I thought I might be the only activist woman feeling uneasy about this. Seems like he should get “due process” at least.”

Reacting to a tweet from Senator Gillibrand, one among many:

“Women allowing themselves to be used by an opposing & anti-women political party to oust a man, who is on the right side of women’s issues, based on claims that were largely unsubstantiated while not calling for ouster of a white supremacist ADMITTED SEXUAL PREDATOR in WH

 

“I disagree about Franken for a couple reasons. First his case provides an opportunity for us to have some discourse regarding cultural norms that the majority on some level participated in. Particularly in the name of ‘comedy’. 1/. His case can also help us nationally discuss what constitutes ‘credible’ accounts. Through this we can dispel ‘witch hunt’ labels. We need men to participate in this evolution. I believe we can only get there through VERY PUBLIC discourse. 2/”

“As popular as SNL was,/is I’m guess that a number of the Dems clutching their pearls now over Franken laughed like crazy at SNL in years past. Total double standard and no nuance to the thinking. And the whole scenario of losing Franken, who is so articulate and fearless, undoubtedly has Rs licking their chops and looking for the next victim (you can be sure it won’t be one of theirs).”

“I wish Franklin hadn’t resigned and let the process play out through the ethics committee while Demo-women in congress called for Trump’s resignation A.S.A.P.”

      “If someone I didn’t like tried to kiss me I’d remove myself or push him away. Since when is a kiss or a pat on the rear as reprehensible as assaulting a child? Yes I am glad that sexual harassment has come to forefront but what is being done to Franken is above and beyond and he doesn’t deserve this.”
And responses supporting the resignation of Franken:
     “We may not know what it’s like to work with Franken and this is about his colleagues and their ability to do work. Women have to go around continually allowing different layers of male toxicity, or attitudes to prevail. Maybe the super smart Senators, who I respect deeply had some information, or put their minds together and saw it was important, so I back them!”
     “I will hope that sacrifice will lead to an honorable change in the future. I could be wrong and darkness will prevail, but in these times of darkness, I want more valor. Idealistic I suppose, but I can’t be cynical or I will wither.”
     “Those 21 Democratic women Senators who called for his resignation aren’t stupid, they’re strategic. There is a Dem governor in Minnesota who will appoint an interim. And we have a deep bench in MN, e.g. Keith Ellison and several excellent women. I understand they are trying to brand us as The Party of Zero Tolerance–from racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-immigration. We need to stand for something. We have to differentiate ourselves from the other guys. We have to clean our house and be different. Imitating them has never, ever been good for us.”
Who Will the Governor Appoint and why didn’t we ask this first?
But now from this article I learned that the governor of Minnesota may not be looking for a Franken replacement but just a place holder which may open the seat to the GOP, “Now Gov. Mark Dayton is throwing a wrench in the works by evidently appointing a caretaker on the condition she not seek to keep the seat, which opens the seat up to the real possibility of Republican capture in 2018 (maybe by Norm Coleman, the Republican Franken defeated in 2008).”

So this blog is getting a bit long, yet I just have to ask you to think about the concept of zero tolerance. Isn’t just the phrase a tip-off to our inability to look at complex issues and respond according to each situation?  Zero tolerance for weapons at schools got little boys and some girls arrested for having toy guns in their  backpacks. [perphttps://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/School-Defends-Actions-Over-10-Year-Old-With-Toy-Gun-197748851.htmletrators] .

Zero tolerance has criminalized young men who had consensual relationships with girls in their age peer group but just under the age of consent. Funny thing, these often turn out to be Black youth and the book is thrown at them. Shouldn’t punishment fit the “crime?”

Back at the OK Corral, i.e. Washington DC, the folks who are restructuring our economy for the 1% of the 1%, eliminating our remaining rights and gifting our country to oligarchs continue on. Many of us may not survive their onslaught. But, you know, we took the high road…maybe, just maybe, it will slow our descent into hell.

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Focus on Resistance

Waking up to my twitter feed in the morning, it seems we’ve all gone Russian crazy. Now.. if you can rid us of 45 by finding connections to bad Russian dudes, by all means, do it. Then I’ll stop trying to scratch the inside of my brain wondering why the old Cold War has been revived and seems to have flipped the bad guys and confounded the good guys-it’s just too confusing. Besides I don’t trust the nice folks at the FBI, CIA, etc, to tell me who my president should be.

How about that Voter Suppression?

Anyway, I’m truly sorry that we are not focusing on the more obvious villain of this shocking electoral turn-around, no skullduggery necessary-voter suppression, aided and abetted by a right leaning Supreme Court which gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act-and left us open to every kind of racist, nefarious Republican plot in which no Russian had a hand.

We’d already witnessed the first selection of George Bush after the Florida voter rolls were purged of hundreds of Black sounding names, which even then required the high court to hand him the presidency.

So, we should’ve been prepared to see a wholesale slashing of voters from the rolls, the reduction of voting hours, the removal of available polling booths, etc, to give the Republicans the edge that outright precinct gerrymandering had not been able to provide. It’s about to get much worse with Jefferson Beauregard Sessions running the DOJ like the Confederacy of old.

Instead we focus on the diabolic doings of Vladimir Putin, and I’m sure he’s worthy of the bulls eye on his pale naked back, but really, does that make it ok that many Republican governors see voting as something that the “wrong” people should be prevented from doing? Too many of us have spent hours begging people just to consider voting to believe it should be made more difficult.

Spend as much time as you can registering voters and talking to them about how they will vote.

So Much for the Environment…                    

While we are focused on the cheesy melodrama that elected Mr. Drumpf, the rest of the entire Republican controlled Congress is busy gutting the 21st century and lots of the 20th century’s advances. To (nit)wit- All kinds of protections for our waterways are being dirtied https://futurism.com/trump-aims-to-eliminate-clean-water-rule/, regulations on methane gas, 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide to hold in heat, are being eliminated.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/janetwburns/2017/03/03/epa-drops-request-for-data-on-methane-emissions-that-could-cost-us-trillions/#7673485d617d

Trumpcare, too Toxic for Congress…

The “replacement” for the ACA, much like the replacements in the iconic film, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, mv5bnti4nzg5mtm4nf5bml5banbnxkftztcwotewmjg4mw-_v1_  is so dangerous to our continued health that it has to be quarantined lest even Republicans become exposed to its sickly aura. [Doesn’t it seem like many of them have already turned into robots and mannequins? Hmm, maybe we should find those pods.]

In California a single payer bill is back and it would cover all Californians including immigrants while being simpler and cheaper to administer that\an the ACA. It is SB 562.

http://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-california-single-payer-healthcare-20170303-story.html

Homeland Security Police State Build Up…

And now, the ultimate in police state style governing-ICE vans parked outside courthouses, ICE police roaming the streets and hallways in unmarked jackets-why don’t they just go with long black leather coats, steel-tipped boots and hats covering their dead-Stephen-Miller eyes since they prefer the geheime staastspolizei style? Look it up. images-5                      ap_091209048890-b499337a2d9e0b713a557a3936d469d80d5cb054-s700-c85

This creepy, constitution-shredding activity is spreading. Passengers on a domestic flight to New York were asked to show ID in order to get off, not on, but off the plane, and they complied-why folks-don’t do that!

Supporting Sanctuary State Legislation

We’re in California where the California Values Act, SB 54, is on its way to passage in an “urgency” vote. We hope that then we’ll be able to curb some incursions of the secret police  by attempting to prevent our local police forces, including sheriffs and high way patrol, CHP, from helping ICE to terrorize our hard working immigrants.

But we need to do more, much more. In addition to finding ways to keep the feds polluted mitts off our tax dollars-we’re a donor state, giving more than we receive-we’ve got to find ways to make “sanctuary” mean something. Right now our resolutions and laws have too many loopholes. Rather than large sweeps we can organize against, they are stealthily picking off individuals and families wherever they can trick them into answering  any questions about their status or of using the services for which they, immigrants, also pay.

What to do-a 5 Point Plan                                                20170121_122129-1       

1st– We need to make sure that our police departments are trained in how to recognize ICE, report on raids, no matter how small, and assist immigrants who may need to report crimes but are afraid of the consequences to their families.

2nd– We have to demand that sheriffs departments, notoriously filled with elected Republicans, are given clear instructions on when they can and when they cannot assist ICE in reporting who is in their jails.

Beyond that, we have to search for new candidates to run for these offices-candidates who care more about their constituents than their Trumpian ideology. This will become more obvious as the return of banking deregulation results in another crash and another massive wave of foreclosures and sheriffs are called on to assist the banks to throw people out of homes.

3rd-We have to sit down with our district attorneys and talk to them about the odious practice of plea bargaining which was almost always a bad deal for low level offenders, innocents among them, who were talked into declaring themselves guilty to avoid threatened longer sentences if they opted for a trial by their peers. The state has cut court costs so the increase in this type of “justice” is one result. But besides consigning many to jail terms with little proof of guilt, it may also consign defendants to deportation as criminals.

4th-We now have a bill which could repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, one piece of legislation which prevents municipalities from passing renter protections on buildings erected after 1995 and other restrictions on tenant protections. Wikipedia says, “The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (“Costa-Hawkins”) is the California state law that prohibits municipal rent increase limitations on certain kinds of exempted dwelling units, allows rent increases on subtenants following departure by tenants of rent-controlled tenancies, and prohibits “vacancy control” — the regulation of rental rates on units that have been voluntarily vacated by the previous renters at an amount other (presumably lower) than what the open market would bear.”  920x1240

Simply put, we can’t call ourselves sanctuary cities if many of our residents are living in tents, subject to immediate removal and loss of their belongings at any time. Our Assembly Member Rob Bonta is one of the co-authors of this bill and we need to mobilize if we hope to defeat the well-heeled real estate industry  which is already gunning for it.

Mr Bonta is also with us on SB54, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon’s bill to protect immigrants and refugees from allowing our police to help detain them for ICE [except in the case of dangerous criminals.] Bonta also sponsored AB 3, the Stronger Public Defenders Act, and supports AB 291, the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, SB 29, Dignity Not Detention, SB 30 requiring voter approval of the border wall, and of course, SB 54. Get behind these important sanctuary bills.

5th-It’s much harder to find support to make police agencies more transparent but we must insist on policies which clearly state that police are not above the law. Drumpf’s new AG Sessions has declared open season on police killings of Black and Brown people. I never knew the season had closed but it will be even more dangerous to walk, shop, or drive while Black during this regime.

IMG_20150612_212616That means ending the practice of allowing sheriffs and police departments of buying military equipment and curbing the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights which so far trumps our own. Oh yeah, pun definitely intended. California under the Copley Decision is currently one of the least transparent states concerning police misconduct.   http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/1293/copley_v._account-ability/

We have lots of work to do, the resistance must continue to build. But keep your eyes on the prize-a better state, a better world-don’t give in to the melodrama, as alluring as it is. I’ve outlined some actions we can take and reported on ones we are taking now-even more serious resistance is being considered in the halls of Sacramento. We are the 6th largest economy, remember? Ok then…

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The Obama Years-Change, Backlash & Contradiction

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President Barack Obama hugs Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, prior to delivering his State of the Union address. (Photo credit should read PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

In case we’ve forgotten in the breathless cable news coverage of #horserace2016, Barack Obama is still our president. Perhaps this is why I haven’t got religion yet for the next campaign, I still have feelings for the current icon of our dysfunction and I need to figure them out before I move on.

I had already begun to miss that brilliant, sensible man, Mr. Obama, by the time he gave his last State of the Union address. But no one expresses that sentiment better than the Nightly Show’s Larry Wilmore who does a segment called, The UnBlackening, on the politics of the 2016 campaign. It’s undoubtedly the beginning and possibly the end of an era. Over the last year Barack Obama had just begun to do what pundits called “showing his Black side,” while giving no damns for his critics.

We had all hoped that he would grasp early on that he could not count on any friends or allies on the other side of the aisle. But being the kind of even tempered, conciliatory and eminently rational, constitutional lawyer that he is, he wanted to bring people together while attempting to neuter their adherence to ideologies, but the Republicans declared war on him and everything he tried to do from the start. When Obama worked to put the Republican plan for healthcare insurance, otherwise known as Romneycare, in place they set out to kill it and the Republican-led Congress was last seen wandering off into legislative oblivion trying to do just that.

Let’s back up, way back. I’m old enough to remember when I chanted and marched against LBJ and reviled his war mongering away of young lives. Even though Johnson brought public service jobs to my friends with the War on Poverty-right there as Tavis Smiley says, “who even dares to use the “p” word now”- we hated him and declared a kind of victory when he vowed not to run again-after which he faded from the scene and then from life itself.

Johnson brought about voting rights for Black people still living under Jim Crow, Medicare and Medicaid , the free lunch program modeled in no small way on that of the Black Panthers and more we can’t even dredge up without using google [http://us-presidents.insidegov.com/q/43/9699/What-were-President-Lyndon-Johnson-s-accomplishments]. How long did it take for my generation to recognize his contributions? Oh, I’d say till the 2010’s at least.

LBJ himself said that his civil rights legislation would give the Republican Party to the South for a generation. But even he did not foresee the Grand Old Party’s terrifying free-fall  into intolerance and xenophobia. He might not have been able to imagine a high court which has embraced and expanded the Second Amendment while it continues to nullify the Fourth Amendment. Voting rights which we took for granted and which were in the process of turning the South around, are now seemingly lost to another generation.

Ah well, my daughter who like her brother is bi-racial (their dad is Black while I am white or if you like, African-American while I am a WASP) believes that since the election of Obama, racism has flared and it has become more dangerous than ever before in her lifetime. That may be true or it may be just more obvious but it’s undeniably a factor in Obama’s administration. After all many white people had to vote for Obama in order for him to be elected but the backlash has been vicious and touched almost every Black person in some way.

So what about Obama himself, could fiction have invented a more contradictory character?

His critics hit him hardest as a wimp, a closet Muslim. Yes, he is the first president in our history and in our immediate future, to have lived in a Muslim country, to understand and appreciate the many diverse cultures in which Muslims live-THIS IS NO SMALL THING.

Yet he has probably killed more Muslims than George Bush. He had Bin laden assassinated, as he likes to brag, has regularly droned to death civilians attending weddings or whatever and has 3 or 4 wars going on in the Middle East and Africa at any given time.

He embraced the young “Dreamers” of the Latino community then he became the “deporter-in-chief.” He won the Nobel Peace Prize while jailing anyone who pointed out the American penchant for war crimes. Is he more contradictory than any president of an imperialist power?  One answer comes from Joy Reid of MSNBC who said that the next president will likely be more hawkish than Obama and it seems undoubtedly so. Yet this commander-in-chief has also spent more of his political capital and reputation on negotiating treaties and deals, the one with Iran being the most notable, than any president I can remember.

Has Obama done much for Black Folks, sadly not much, but that’s not actually surprising while still disappointing. However, his administration has aided struggling Black families which are disproportionately poor by limiting the everyday way that banks rip people off, creating more avenues to healthcare and pushing to make student loans more equitable. He had to be forced by a movement to talk about reducing the reach of the criminal justice system [#Blacklivesmatter!]. But just the mention of him and Trayvon together in a sentence tugged hard on my heart and made many people see the world in a different way-more as it is.

Beyond his experience in other countries and awareness of other cultures, being a person who was raised white yet is Black gives him a unique and penetrating vision of the dual hearts that beat on either side of the American street, a knowledge which is invaluable to us as the troubled people we are.

And, in a country where the scorn for African-American families runs so deep, it is embedded in almost every social interaction or cultural conversation, the Obama family in its near perfection, two brilliant, highly educated-bootstrapping style-parents, two beautiful and seemingly normal girls growing up in the public glare, is amazing and important. What’s more, their father, Barrack Hussein Obama, is clearly a man in love with his wife and an adored by his children, an American dad who can be teased like any other beloved but real father. As everybody knows who’s ever been around a “firstie”-it must always be so.

But the most amazing thing about this man and this admirable family of his, is that no matter how reviled he has been, no matter how disrespected he and his family, particularly his smart and gracious wife have been, he has come out the other side, still hopeful, still living as if what we do as individuals and as a nation can and shall make a difference, brings tears to my eyes over and over again.

When he’s gone from the national scene, I fear that our conversation about the importance of our American heart of darkness, white supremacy, will go back into the shadows where it has operated so successfully. While I hate that his family has had to suffer in the spotlight of our national disease, I believe the sweeping away of this ugliness can only happen in confrontation.

Beyond the mean-spiritedness, Obama still provides hope and a vision that I realized I share with him-a desire to live my life in a world where “unarmed truth and unconditional love” will overcome, which is why I feel a kinship with our soon-to-be ex-president. Ah, Barry, Barack Hussein Obama, I’m gonna miss you, please don’t be a stranger.