An Open Letter to Nancy O’Malley and her Supporters

Sanctuary Campaign

It has come to our attention that Alameda County Sheriff Ahern has offered to contribute significant financial resources to your campaign for reelection to the position of Alameda County District Attorney.

Sheriff Ahern has proven his allegiance to the Republican Party and the Trump regime by his words and his actions.

  • The sheriff applied for and accepted a grant from the federal government which most other local agencies declined due to the requirements, including assisting ICE in detaining immigrants in our sanctuary state.   https://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Alameda-County-gets-U-S-grant-to-hire-officers-12373292.php ““The tension in Alameda County is that is has a set of sanctuary city policies that are generally immigrant friendly, but the sheriff has always decided that his policy is going to be fairly significant cooperation with ICE,” said Santa Clara University law professor Pratheepan Gulasekaram, who specializes in immigration law.”

These are just some of the concerns we have concerning the linking of our local system of justice with an agency run by an avowed supporter of AG Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice. These are not the values of Alameda County, and according to DA O’Malley and her supporters, not her values either.

That is why we are asking her to refuse the use of these funds for any expenditures toward her re-election. If these funds are spent on mailers or other advertising without her knowledge, we respectfully request that she match these notices with those condemning such expenditures.

Sincerely,

The California Sanctuary Campaign

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club

The Coalition for Police Accountability

Reverend Deborah Lee, UCC Minister

Pastor James Alfred Smith, Jr.

Reverend David Brazil

Pastor Allison Tanner

Malena Mayorga, Immigrant Defense Advocate

[Please contact this website or Pamela Drake, pamelaadrake@gmail.com if you or your organization would like to be added to this letter.]

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The Mother of All Mistakes

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I started a blog last week and this was the headline and first paragraph-

Chronic Trump Fatigue Syndrome or what to do about Syria, Sessions, Gorsuch, Russia, the courts and more…  download (5)

On another dark and stormy night in Northern California reminiscent of the night before the Trump inauguration, Trump launched his biggest success since his election and installation-which-you remember was the biggest in history-period. He sent 59 cruise missiles onto a Syrian airfield (which remains mostly undamaged) and a few more children died as collateral damage but he won the ratings war.   I didn’t finish it before..

More crap happened

20170414_125740Fast forward to Thursday- I went to lunch with an expert on immigration law and while my comrades and I were learning how to combat the inhumane way our long term undocumented fellow citizens-I’m using that word quite on purpose-are being treated, our White House commander-in-chief told HIS military to go ahead and play with the best toys they got, firing off the MOAB-mother-of-all-bombs.

After the first missiles were launched to such rave reviews-while doing nothing to stop Assad’s attacks-our Hollywood president, decided to go bigger; and this time in a place where even fewer people would be there to document the damage.

He did this on the day after we all watched a man being casually brutalized for wanting to use his ticket to fly. It’s even kind of amazing that we still have the ability to be shocked when authorities take total advantage of us with impunity.

Some facebook friends of mine were startled (running out of words for this phenomenon) that the Chicago police so offhandedly described how the passenger had injured himself. But we see those videos all the time, cops firing at innocent drivers into cars with children in Black neighborhoods. (Heaves sigh, maybe it’s good that we still are somewhat in touch with our humanity.)

And while all this is going on in full color with terrible soundtracks, the new #Hollywoodtroll administration is threatening to unravel Obamacare which you may find out while trying to make a doctor’s appointment. They have also set course to defund Planned Parenthood so that the remaining care for women may disappear, amid discussions of cutting the payroll tax as a way of killing social security. And, of course, they are delegitimizing science and data collection in hopes that everything they do can be excused as necessary.

There’s lots more, this is just a short list from the last couple of days and doesn’t even refer to the rants by the #GhostoftheConfederacy Jeff Sessions who’s running the Department of No Justice for You, you filth (by the way, he didn’t actually say it, but it was in his transcript.) http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jeff-sessions-changes-prepared-speech-to-not-call-criminal-illegal-immigrants-filth-2017-04-11

So, what about the possibility of starting a war with North Korea? I almost had in-laws, or my son did, in Seoul and I can’t help but think of a little girl there in the bosom of her family. While Kim Jong Un is a human rights criminal, he is not stupid. Any small country who wants to oppose ours, would do well to arm themselves to the hilt-except, of course, when the US is run by a criminal too, one with no concept of humanity, oh well.

Phew, it may have helped me to get all this down, but now it’s out of my head and into yours. What to do, what to do…?

I’m thinking that maybe we’re lucky that he has gotten, the #Trumptroll I mean, so crazy so fast. Americans of heart, Americans with brains, hell, Americans with any sense at all, have just gotten Woke and will hopefully, Stay Woke, https://www.bustle.com/articles/134893-what-does-woke-mean-theres-more-to-the-slang-term-than-you-think. They are rallying, marching, making signs and art, hashtags and laws to oppose this crazy shit.  Watch this for some fun.

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/04/12/you-lie-constituents-just-used-rep-joe-wilsons-own-line-against-him/?utm_term=.092ef17ca9f9

Attitudes and Info for our times-

*Stay skeptical but resist cynicism

*Recognize absurdity and laugh at authority, media and yourself.

Check this out-  http://www.vox.com/2017/4/3/15163170/strikethrough-comedians-satire-trump-misinformation and this-  http://www.danajerimaier.com/writing/resist

*Resist authority when you see it taking advantage of the vulnerable, in a plane, on a train, in town, in a gown (where is Dr. Seuss when we really need him) and everywhere your eyes and mind take you.

*Try saying “Stop that,” at casual abuse.

**When cruelty becomes fashionable, remain kind.

Oh this one is so hard. I wanna go to Berkeley tomorrow (April 15th, if you don’t know, I won’t clue you in) and punch a fascist but then I remember 1) I don’t know how to throw a punch and 2) it would probably just make me angrier and not change a thing. But, I didn’t say I don’t fantasize revenge….  195bbff98d0c993afffae301f74ac97c

*Self Care is important but planetary care is even more important

*Or How I learned to Embrace Anxiety Disorder and Love the Chaos...

We in the First World, whose homes are not being blown out from under us and whose air is still breathable-we who spend more hours worrying about obesity and eating right- than watching our children starve, well, we already know about long walks in nature and booting up our kindles to a good mystery.  20170414_125826.jpg

Naivete is OK but Ignorance is not.

*My best antidote to being overwhelmed is information. For a couple years now I have been very disturbed by the conflagration in Syria and our ability to ignore it-it’s going into its 7th year!

I saw Progressives taking sides without really knowing how it all came about-it’s not all false flags, folks. Then I looked up Phyllis Bennis, wise, kind but full of hard knowledge. Read this-  https://www.thenation.com/article/the-war-in-syria-cannot-be-won-but-it-can-be-ended/  I’m also reading journalist, attorney and Syrian-American, Alia Malek’s new book which I got out of the Oakland library,  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25898173-the-home-that-was-our-country The Home That Was Our Country.

*Watch https://news.vice.com/ . If you don’t get HBO, just check out Vice News online. They have brief and in depth stories from all over the world. It is really important to get news that’s not straight #MSM, main-stream-media.

*Social media is important-

Sequestering yourself may work for a time, but jumping into the political fray works better for me. Instead of yelling at the TV, I yell or joke or carp on twitter or instagram. Yeah, I work, I’m active in  many organizations, read, go out to dinner, well, maybe I let 20170414_125435the dishes sit a little longer-but there is still time for social media and it’s a necessary part of participating in politics.

 

Except for this-

Stop wasting time with the Hillary vs Bernie argument, progressive puhllease

I’m glad Bernie is still in the Senate and taking an active role but he’s not my hero. I’m also glad that Hillary speaks out, given her knowledge and background, but she will never be my candidate again. That’s all over and we’ve discussed what went wrong ugh nauseum.

In all the bad news, I forgot to promote our progressive California legislature-doing things like making California a Sanctuary State, working to rid of us the unfair bail system,  promoting single payer healthcarehttp://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-spring-break-in-canada-california-1492029238-htmlstory.html . Rather than isolate us from other states, we should use this struggle as a model and, btw, New York just passed free college, well kind of   https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/11/nyregion/new-yorks-free-tuition-program-will-help-traditional-but-not-typical-students.html?_r=0. 

**Let’s breath deeply, let’s hug each other and take in a movie together, and then let’s fight like hell in the most creative, outlandish and life affirming ways we didn’t know we had in us**

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Open Letter to Hillary Re College for All

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And Hope over Nope

“Now personally, I don’t want to be paying for Donald Trump to send his kids and grandkids to college,” she said. “I want to pay to send your kids and grandkids to college.”

Yes, Hillary, I would be willing to pay for Donald Trump to send his kids and grandkids  to college-through my taxes and yours-albeit yours should be at a considerably higher percentage than mine! 2016-05-07 12.22.25 (640x360)

Yesterday Hillary came to the Town, Oakland that is, and I dropped by outside to see what was going on. One friend was standing outside with a handmade sign containing a list of complaints against our presumptive nominee and a few young folk were chanting “Bernie,”and I mean a few, five or six. I heard someone got thrown out for some kind of heckling but altogether, judging from the selfies, a good time was had by most. 2016-05-06 15.10.37 (387x640)

Local reporter and father of the darling Silas-who was featured in a photo in the pages of our paper formerly known as last week-Matt Artz covered her comments. She took a hit at Bernie once again since he has a viable campaign operation for the California primary-when and where I will cast my vote for him for the last time.

Now, let me state again to the chagrin of my most purest of friends, that I will vote for the woman when November comes (but not in the June primary–Bernie !) I may even find myself campaigning for her but I wish she would stop making it so damn hard!

Ok, here I won’t go into her hawkish bona fides, perhaps the most horrendous part of her record, most recently in Honduras, murder capital of the world, in no small part thanks to us, the US. I admit that I try to not read all the lurid details of her dealings with corporations, I don’t blame her for husband’s love of mass incarceration, etc, because I believe all the Republicans, not just Trump, are evil and promote cruelty towards anyone who hasn’t been lucky or  who doesn’t look like them-I need to be able to vote for her.

I’m honestly so frustrated with these tirades against the so-called far left ideas of Bernie’s that I’m reduced to sputtering. But I’ll give it a try.

Dear Hillary,

I’m a single mom whose kids attended public school all their lives. They struggled with a barely funded system where everyone tries to get into the right elementary school, you know what I mean, the ones in the white neighborhoods whose parents can afford amenities like a school counselor or librarian (now even having a school library is a privilege not a right.)

They both went away to HBCUs, you know, historically Black universities and colleges, but you knew that acronym right? I paid for housing and living much as I could though I’ve never even made what is now considered median wage-still working at 69 btw–but they took out loans and I took out loans. My son went to law school, looks like he’ll be paying them back the rest of his life.

I came to California when it had truly free higher ed which has been gone since Reagan, of course, but unlike many countries that didn’t include rent and food and living in California was never cheap.

So let me explain something-In case you’ve noticed California still has a rep as a place of innovation and forward thinking due in no small part to our once free higher education guarantees. There was no means test for those guarantees. And why would there be?

Do we have a means test, in other words, a sliding scale of charges for our K-12 program? Our public libraries? Well do we? When  you drive on the highway, have we instituted a sliding scale cause Donald Trump can afford to pay?

How about social security? Many have argued that it should include a means test and that wealthier people don’t deserve it? Do you think for one minute that social security would have survived if it were just for the poor?

So here’s the first problem I see with your plan. In our country where white supremacy informs all our decisions, including who is the deserving poor and that resentment trickles down to all in need-college assistance for the poor would be ill-funded and subject to immediate defunding at the first sign of distress. Americans would resent it because someone they didn’t like might get it. They would resent it because they got it and it would be seen as a handout, charity, a dirty word in our society since its founding.

Of course, a college funding program would also preclude free egalitarian universities where everyone is on a equal footing which would look something like our public schools are supposed to look. So that’s truly utopian, I guess, though some countries seem to have those kinds of schools where no matter your color or parents’ level of income, you get a k through 12 school that’s clean and safe and all decked out with the latest books, computers, and unleaded paint, etc. But that’s the subject of a whole other column, er, letter.

That leads me to another little thing, why would you seek to lead the Democratic Party, a party you claim is against all that Trump and those other nasty little men the Republicans put in office, promote a mean-spirited plan that pits us against Trump’s grandchildren? How Trumpian is that?! What if Trumps’ kids decided not to pay for their children’s education, should we punish them for that?  Once again , how-trickle-down-resentment, how Trumpian is that?

It’s quite one thing to use the anger many of us (including me) have against the 1% to attack their plans to make all our lives harder. And it’s another thing to assert that free higher ed is some far out idea that only silly people believe in despite the fact that many countries, even those not overly wealthy, provide it and healthcare and childcare-when you know how doable it is!! As Secretary of State, you did travel a bit, am I right?

Is it because you don’t think you can convince Americans that paying taxes for something you can see and use instead of weaponry and bank bailouts is just too much work.? Or is it a cynical ploy to make Bernie appear less pragmatic than you? But free public university and college education is the best way to build a future for our kids, it’s a viable economic plan. You, who have details on the tips of your fingers, can certainly make a case for higher ed for all.

Maybe the problem is that your class doesn’t want its taxes raised so that my class of folks can attend college without bankrupting our future, maybe they want us indebted and servile forever. I hope that’s not it, but I have to consider that. It’s also true that poor people are more generous than the rich-watch them tip and give to panhandlers if you don’t believe it.

Bottom line, Hillary, you won’t inspire the young or their parents by telling us we can’t do what we want for our children because someone elses children might benefit too. Just stop it. That’s not the kind of world we want.

We want a larger vision, not a shrunken one. We want a better world, not a slightly improved one. As someone else put it, we want Hope not Nope.I know I need to vote for you in the fall—so stop making it so damn hard!

Oh,by the way, Happy Mother’s Day!

Yours,

Pamela,

Another Mother for Hope

 

 

 

It’s Time for Americans to Choose

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I recently watched Michael Moore’s new movie which reminded me of the  idealism that Americans were renowned for in the past. It also reminded me that the US, my country once gave the world great ideas, ideas and ideals it has failed to live up to. After viewing hours of non-stop Trump hate-is that a hashtag yet-#Trumphate on TV, it was a revelation.

Trump Rallies & Protests-At the same time, the internet has been atwitter over who is responsible for the “violence” at recent Trump rallies. I put the term in quotes because, while the anger has been palpable at those rallies-the one in Chicago was not a riot-sure some people yelled at and shoved each other, but so far serious injuries have been avoided.

Trump is the Inciter!-And yet Hillary supporters have been accusing Bernie supporters of inciting the “violence.” In other words going to the rallies and shouting down Trump is considered violence or incitement. I would hope we all know who the real enemy is. Trump himself, as Rachel Maddow documented, probably planned this collision of forces to stir up fear and chaos which, in classic strongman fashion, he can use to his benefit. Whether or not you think it’s wise to take the bait, it is not the protestors’ fault that some fist fights and pushing ensued. Trump and the Republican Party caused it.

“You always had the power”-Here’s the thing, the final quote in Michael Moore’s movie, Where to Invade Next, came from one of my favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz, when Glynda the Good tells Dorothy, who wishes to go home, “You always had the power.” Well, for all our talk of lesser of evils, and here I’m talking to Democrats or anyone mildly liberal, progressive or radical, please LISTEN (yeah, I am shouting now,)listen to the discussion that’s actually happening not the accusations, insults or ancient history on the Democratic side.

Progressive Change is Possible-The Democrats this time around are talking about how to get our young folk out of debt, how to stop building prisons and build justice instead, how much to raise the minimum wage right now, how to make it possible for immigrants to gain their citizenship rights and women to keep the right to control their destinies. They’re working in fits and starts on plans to give us more higher ed at less cost, more healthcare for all. These are no small things

I know, I know, Bernie is being castigated for talking like we could have free healthcare for all (like most of the civilized world and that includes Central American and Asian countries, not just Europe.) And Hillary has a terrible history of supporting the crime bill and calling our young people predators, but Bernie also voted for that bill, a law which has destroyed generations of families.

Yeah and some Dems think that anyone who supported a freely elected socialist like Daniel Ortega is anathema while others remember-recent history-the coup in Honduras engineered by the Obama-Clinton administration. But, listen to them, the conversation has moved. No, we won’t soon have seven week vacations and five month paid parental leaves like Italy and France, more’s the pity. But-

The Republican Apocalyptic Vision-The Republicans are offering a completely different vision, they’re offering a world with no social safety net-the end of Medicare and Social Security, the end of any kind of universal healthcare, no minimum wages at all, prisons for all and no right to free public  education. Oh and yeah, the removal of 12 or so million of our folks to violence-torn countries.

No one wants Austerity-One thing that Trump has shown though is that even Republicans, caught up as they are in tribal hatreds and scapegoating, are rejecting tax breaks for the rich and austerity for their families. No one wants a vision of a country laid waste by decrepit infrastructure and crumbling town halls anymore, no one.

Heed the Call-The Democrats and all who ever sympathized with them would do well to heed those demands and win, win big, win the Senate and some state houses. But that can only work if we stop scapegoating each other-Bernie and Hillary and supporters. Stop treating your candidate like he or she is a religious icon. They both have feet of clay. They’re both human. But both are saying or beginning to say the things we all need to hear.

Choose Any Democratic Candidate-For those who cannot forgive Hillary her history of triangulating, her eyes on the polls, and stupidest of all, her husband’s mistakes, listen, she’s hearing where the country is now and mirroring our needs. For those who can’t forgive Bernie for challenging her or for understanding that Fidel was the right leader at the right time in that place-remember without Bernie, the only populist in the race, might appear to be Donald Trump. Bernie has saved the Democratic Party leaders from themselves.

Yeah, we have a real clear choice, clearer than the choice we had even eight years ago. At this point it doesn’t matter to me, yeah I’ll say it, it doesn’t matter who gets the nomination. Stop the sniping, quit yer bitchin. We don’t only need to stop Trump, and the other creeps running under the GOP banner, we need to come together as a country and reclaim our real heritage-that of idealism and Hope Over Fear.

Must See Movies of 2015

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I just came back from seeing the best or most important movie of the year, maybe the decade, The Big Short, go see it now. To borrow a line from the overrated flick, Network, when you walk out of the theatre, “You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!'”

If you want to know why so many people support Bernie Sanders and even Donald Trump, this movie helps explain where the anger and discontent, the distrust of all our institutions, comes from. It pulls back the top layers of our corruption, our avarice, our indifference to each other’s pain and our naivete.

Yes, Americans, we who inspired and trained ISIS through our wars in the Middle East, who developed the CDOs, Collateralized Debt Obligations, which destroyed the economies of whole communities, heck whole countries; and us, the folks who pay for and support  police murder while we eschew politics-we still pretend that we are exceptional, that we are  models to the world.

So, go see the Big Short. It is your obligation as a citizen of a country with this kind of power-to face up to what is really going on. If you want to “make American great again” that means you have to fight to bring back opportunity and some hope for equal justice under the law-to be that Tom Hanks character in The Bridge of Spies, an entertaining and true story which can remind us of our best selves.

I am a former history teacher. I taught American History to 8th graders, then Government to young adults. During the economic meltdown, I taught Economics for the first time including Credit Default Swaps and subprime mortgages. I learned along with my students as together we watched our economy rupture-parents lost their jobs and families lost their homes.

BTW, that institution, Adult Education, which had survived the Great Depression and world wars, did not survive the subprime meltdown so I no longer teach nor learn these things  along with my students. Our Republican Governor from Austria with help from the Democrats ended the funding for an institution which provided second chances to those who needed them the most.

Let me add the other best, most influential movie of the year, Straight Outta Compton. It’s a powerful film which is so relevant, it’s almost supernatural, coming out in the year of #Blacklivesmatter. The scene where NWA performs Fuck Tha Police at a huge concert in Detroit is the most powerful scene in a film I’ve seen this year. You gotta go see it. This is a film which demonstrates the best and the worst of the so-called American Dream.

It was a truly interesting year at the movies (I was tempted to write “in film” but that sounds pretentious, they’re just movies.)  I saw Trumbo and Spotlight, the Black Panthers:Vanguard of the Revolution, and Brooklyn and loved them all.

I found Amy affecting and Trainwreck had some very perceptive moments. Love & Mercy was weird but there wasn’t enough of the Beach Boys and too much of the crazy to make anybody want to live through Brian Wilson’s life if they didn’t have to.

On the flip side, I thought Ex Machina and the Clouds of Sils Maria were a waste of screen time. Star Wars:the Force Awakens ranged from cute and funny to boring and silly. Some of it parodied itself on purpose and some of it was clearly meant in earnest which rendered it all the flimsier a franchise. Adam Driver’s character as the bad son or the evil Jedi twin was more the lost hipster looking for that perfect flat by the Lake or Williamsburg, if you will. “What no hardwood floors-I will destroy the world!”

The movies I saw this year reminded me that we have been through dangerous times before; and if this year has taught us anything, we must acknowledge that we are entering them again. Spoiler Alert-I don’t actually know the ending of this tale. I can’t predict if we are heading towards facism or a period of righteous struggle. The only thing I know for sure is that we all have a part to play.