Tuesday / May 24, 2016

Image result for poor children in american school


“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within the nation for all God’s children.”

– Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted in 2016-05-24 | Tagged | Comments Off on Tuesday / May 24, 2016

Monday / May 23, 2016

Image result for martin king riverside church

“A time comes when silence is betrayal.”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

From his Riverside Church speech, given one year to the day before his assassination.

Posted in 2016-05-23 | Tagged | Comments Off on Monday / May 23, 2016

Time To Get It Figured Out: What’s The Progressive Vision For The Future Of Our Community?

Citizen Voices

(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2014. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org )

By Scott Wittkopf
Frame4Future (5/22/16)

This is the third blog post addressing the need for a new progressive Dem messaging strategy. The question in the title is exactly what we should be asking our friends, family, constituents, and even our opponents. In order to be effective, we need to evoke the answer to that question before they even respond. And their answer ought to be one that is consistent with our shared community values.

Too many times, because of outdated conventional wisdom, we see candidates running on a platform of issues that are considered progressive. We rely on those issues to define our progressive candidates and platform: public education, access to affordable care, eliminating student debt, women’s rights, worker’s rights, a living wage, etc. There are three major cognitive flaws in this “issue” strategy.

First, as pointed out in my recent guest op-ed appearing in the Cap Times (“Progessives need to inspire: #NotTrump won’t cut it”), science tells us that issues and facts don’t motivate people to act – values and emotions do, most of which is unconscious. Just talking about the facts, progressives miss the point that our beliefs and positions on issues come from deeply held values and emotions that define us as people. We need to make these values and emotions conscious and communicate them more effectively than conservatives, since conservatives now control public discourse across issues.

Secondly, while conservatives may have a different worldview on each issue we consider “progressive,” their frame presents a very different vision on what’s morally best. Just talking about these issues can reinforce the conservative worldview of them, unless you first “re-frame” the issue. Make no mistake, conservatives BELIEVE their vision of the future is moral. If we are to be successful in changing the tide, we must stop thinking of conservatives as mean, greedy, and stupid. They believe they are moral. And we better start communicating on that level as well. For example, conservatives see the “better vision” for the future on each issue above defined by “less government and more personal liberty.” Every issue. What’s the progressive message that communicates our future vision on each issue? At the moment, there isn’t one that progressives can effectively communicate in about 6 words. That’s a problem I will address shortly.

Finally, and for the purposes of winning an election, the most critical. If you aren’t communicating your positive, moral vision to the people you are merely being defensive against your opponent. And cognitive science tells us that’s a recipe for disaster – as we in Wisconsin have experienced for the past 5 years. As my friend Mike McCabe always says, “you have to be FOR something!”

So what do we do as progressives – especially since we are so conditioned to being on the defensive by the current state of “hypocognition” that exists in political discourse?

In a recent workshop I conducted in Wausau, Wisconsin, we spent a good chunk of time brainstorming new messages. The breakout session is simple – the full group divides into smaller groups of 4-5 people, with each group choosing an issue they care deeply about. Then, based on their newly acquired knowledge of cognitive framing, they have 15-20 minutes to develop core messages about their issue. Each group shares their new messages, and we have open discussion. Not only are the messages people come up with consistently good, but it also hits home for people that EVERY issue is connected by common progressive values. And it is these shared-values messages that provide a more effective way to communicate outside of our progressive echo chambers.

One observation made by a participant with a business background was particularly insightful. This person stated that the well-framed messages (most often used by conservatives) were always serving the function of “closing the sale.”  Whereas many conventional progressive messages tend to tell you how and what about an issue – they never get to the “closing” message. Very astute…

Here are some examples of the well-framed messages people came up with. You will observe that they provide a positive, progressive vision; WHY people should believe in this progressive vision; shared common values, and provide the basis for factual support of the values-based position on an issue.

On getting/keeping people involved in the community and democracy:

  • Communicate the idea of “We not me (or I)…” on every issue
  • The idea that our community values define country traditions
  • The idea that “It takes a community to raise a child”
  • “A supportive community is the foundation for our future”

On getting big money out of politics:

  • “Everyone should be free to have their voice heard”
  • “Speech is freedom: One person, one vote”
  • “Protect our freedom, eliminate dark money”
  • “Brighten our future, eliminate dark money”

On public education:

  • “Public Schools reflect our community values”
  • “Public Schools (em)power the future”
  • “Public School (em)power kids’ dreams”
  • “Public Schools (em)power the community”
  • “Public Education = Opportunity for all children”
  • “Public Education = Prosperity for all (children)”
  • “Public + Education = Freedom”

Each of these messages are far more than just nice sounding words. Since each word and phrase is only understood through an unconscious cognitive frame, they evoke core values and emotions shared by most people. The common, shared progressive values evoked in each message are empathy, responsibility, opportunity, freedom (in the progressive sense), protect and empower people, and community. These values can be referenced as “our shared values,” or “community values,” or even “Wisconsin values.” This reinforces the concept (fairly accurate) that they are values shared by most people.

Any issue position is only understood by people and inspires them to act through the frame evoked. Evoke a positive, progressive community message by effectively framing, and people will begin to act (and vote) for more progressive community values and issues. Evoke the conservative frame on an issue (even an issue considered “progressive”), and people will continue to act (and vote) consistent with self-interested conservative behavior – and against community values.

You can find many more examples of positive, progressive messaging on my website (www.frame4future.com), or by attending one of my workshops or webinars!

Link to Story

Posted in 2016-05-23, Newsletter | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Time To Get It Figured Out: What’s The Progressive Vision For The Future Of Our Community?

Sowing Dessension: Trump-Loving Online Comment Trolls Pose As Sanders & Clinton Supporters

By Bethania Palma Markus
Raw Story (5/21/16)

An Internet troll who claims to have found deep divisions among factions of the Left on Twitter laid out a plan Saturday for fellow Donald Trump supporters to exploit those fissures.

Posting on the sometimes-dubious message board 4chan, the anonymous poster wrote a post entitled, “Let’s troll Bernie and Hillary supporters systematically,” where the writer says he/she posed as a Democratic voter and trolled supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in an effort to deepen divisions and help Trump secure a victory in November.

“We need to take advantage of this. This is Trump’s gift,” the 4chan troll wrote. “If we’re serious about a Trump presidency we need to start infiltrating their conversations in order to sow more divison (sic). I’m talking systematic and long-term /mischief/, not just a hew minutes trolling dumbass SJW’s. Look at the chaos and damage I was able to make yesterday, just one person, with no real rudeness in my replies. Imagine that writ large: My account is @realJohnMilIer.”

“SJW” stands for “social justice warrior.”

The Twitter account for “real John Miller” indeed seems to show activity celebrating divisions among Clinton and Sanders supporters.

Link to Story


Then There Is This…

  • Sanders Reports Nevada Campaign Office Shot At And Staffer Housing Ransacked — Several days after the Nevada State Convention, Bernie Sanders finally released a statement about it. In his statement, he revealed that prior to the first precinct caucuses, his Nevada campaign office was targeted by a shooter and that someone had broken into campaign staffers’ nearby apartments. The surprising revelation comes directly on the heels of the state’s Democratic Party and the DNC both accusing Sanders delegates of committing acts of violence and thuggery at the convention. Despite a wealth of video evidence to the contrary, mainstream media continues to spin Sanders in a negative light, forcing him to go on the defensive. Yet Sanders didn’t just go on the defensive, he turned the tables on them all. In his press release, he stated what most of his supporters already know: that the Nevada state delegates were essentially robbed of their right to a democratic, ethically run convention. …


Then Of Course, There Is This…

  • BUSTED: Pro-Clinton Super PAC Caught Spending $1 Million To Attack Bernie Supporters With Paid Professional Social Media Trolls — A Super PAC headed by a longtime Clinton operative is spending $1 million to hire online trolls to “correct” Bernie Sanders’ supporters on social media. Correct The Record (CTR), which is operated by Clinton attack dog and new owner of Blue Nation Review David Brock, launched a new initiative this week called “Barrier Breakers 2016” for the purpose of debating supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders — or “Bernie Bros,” as they’re referred to in Correct the Record’s press official release — on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms. The “Barrier Breakers” will also publicly thank Hillary Clinton’s superdelegates and fans for supporting her campaign. The paid trolls are professional communicators, coming from public relations and media backgrounds. The task force staff’s backgrounds are as diverse as the community they will be engaging with and include former reporters, bloggers, public affairs specialists, designers, Ready for Hillary alumni, and Hillary super fans who have led groups similar to those with which the task force will organize,” CTR stated. … Read the Rest

Scan 21

(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2016. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org )

Posted in 2016-05-23, Newsletter | Tagged , | Comments Off on Sowing Dessension: Trump-Loving Online Comment Trolls Pose As Sanders & Clinton Supporters

Greg Palast: Media Fabricates Sanders Nevada Riot, Buries The Real Story

In this interview with Dennis Bernstein, best­selling author Greg Palast takes on The New York Times, NPR, and big media in general for their biased reporting in favor of Hillary Clinton.

By Dennis J Bernstein & Greg Palast
Reader Supported News (5/22/16)

Dennis Bernstein: Dissect for us the story in the electronic version of The New York Times, “From Bernie Sanders Supporters, Death Threats Over Delegates.” It’s the same establishment deciding, essentially, who is going to win or lose, who the candidates will be, who is acceptable and who isn’t. The corporate news cycle determines that.

Greg Palast: In Nevada, 64 Bernie Sanders delegates – some committee chairmen and life­long county Democratic Party members – were disqualified on the grounds that they were Republicans. They are lifelong Democrats, and that’s why they were at the convention, as chosen delegates. Bernie Sanders had more delegates than Hillary Clinton. It was a very close race in Nevada. When they knocked out the 64 Bernie delegates as Republicans, suddenly Hillary won the caucus by 35 delegate votes. Some of the Sanders people didn’t like that. So what was the report? Not how Sanders delegates were somehow excluded from exercising their rightful vote for the party’s nominee. Instead, The New York Times headline was: “From Bernie Sanders Supporters, Death Threats Over Delegates. ”

DB: The Bernie bird threatening delegates!

Palast: The story was that the Sanders people were leveling death threats at the chairwoman of the Democratic Party, who overruled all the voice votes, all the Bernie delegates’ credentials, and ramrodded Hillary Clinton through as the winner of these extra Nevada delegates.

The Party chairwoman claimed that they were grandchildren kidnappers and leveled death threats.

But the Times reported nothing about stealing the delegates’ votes, the cause of the rebellion, the “riot.”

The problem here is that although it’s funny to accuse Bernie of being a grand­kidnapper, the sad part is that this is how the so­-called liberal press and supposedly good journalists are operating. If I wrote a story like this for The Guardian, I would be fired by my editors. This is what stands for news coverage in the USA – not the issues, but some fool’s threats.

DB: In the same spirit of demonization of Sanders, NPR’s Tamara Keith characterized his aggressive, effective campaign with the highly charged term of “battering” Hillary Clinton. As if Sanders were a batterer of women just like Donald Trump.

Palast: NPR. What do you expect from National Petroleum Radio? I’ve been taken off NPR. I was supposed to be on Media Matters, their media program. They wanted me to complain about right wing newspapers like The New York Post. As I was about to go on the air, they asked what I was going to talk about. I said, “Biased coverage by NPR.” Literally, just 40 seconds before airtime they said, “We can’t have you on.”

This is the problem. We’re not getting the news we ought to get. I’m not a Sanders person, I’m a journalist. No sides here. A New York Times headline was, “Liberal Economists Say Sanders Numbers Don’t Add Up.” They cited a guy, Austan Goolsbee, from the University of Chicago, which is where I went and is a right­wing cesspool. Liberal economist? He did not do a study – rather, he’s a Hillary Clinton supporter who was just mouthing off.

There was a detailed study of Sanders’ program, which the Times – and the rest of the media – ignored. The positive effect of Sanders’ stimulus program was well measured by the economists at Amherst. The one true analysis that has been done shows that his programs will increase employment and national income. This is the same Democratic Party and newspaper that says Obama’s stimulus program came from heaven itself, but almost the same program proposed by Sanders is obviously nuts and the numbers don’t add up. This isn’t whether I support Sanders or not. This is about media bias, pure and simple.

Palast: In general, when I’ve been reporting about the theft of U.S. elections, for years … When I wrote about tens of thousands of Black people getting their names wiped off the voter roles in 2000 by Katherine Harris – which elected Bush – it was top of the nightly news in Britain, but in the U.S. it was completely blacked out.

DB: U.S. media had access.

Palast: ABC had a contract to run BBC’s vote­theft news, but didn’t. Then CBS said they would run the story. Dan Rather’s people called me, then backed out. I told them Black people were wiped off the voter roles. I had the list in my hands, letters in my hands from the office of Jeb Bush, who was the Governor of Florida and brother of the candidate. When I asked why they didn’t run the story, they said they had called Jeb Bush’s office, and he said it wasn’t true. That was the end of the story. They couldn’t even say, “The BBC and The Guardian say this and Bush says this …” This is continuing to happen.

In 2004, when BBC and The Guardian ran my story about the theft of the election in Ohio, the Times picked up the story on the front page. It said, “Internet Rumors of Election Theft Easily Debunked.” That was the headline.

DB: It demonstrates the ridiculous nature of what they call journalism.

Palast: So thank you for letting my stories in through the electronic Berlin Wall.

(Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.)

Link to Story

  • Clinton to California: “Drop Dead” — By now, anyone paying the least attention knows that the dishonest Democratic establishment and dishonest mainstream media have created a false narrative of bad behavior by Bernie Sanders supporters at the Nevada State Democratic State Convention on May 14. The evidence-free claims about “thrown chairs” (none) and “death threats” (tasteless insults) have been widely rebutted, but they have served their purpose all the same: taking attention away from the arrogant, autocratic management of the Nevada convention by establishment Democrats working on behalf of Hillary Clinton. It’s a measure of Democratic Party panic that party leaders feel the need to run a despotic convention, autocratically ramming their preferred results through when there were only two national delegates at stake. Their fear of Bernie Sanders must run deep for them to follow this authoritarian performance with a smear campaign based on lies about the Sanders campaign. Establishment Democrats should be afraid, since almost half the voters allowed to vote in Democratic primaries reject establishment Democratic “values.” But their shamelessness, pusillanimity, and obtuse arrogance march on toward a possibly disastrous November that is wholly self-engineered. Here’s what arrogant denial of reality sounded like on CNN May 19, inside the establishment Democrat echo-chamber …Read the Rest


Posted in 2016-05-23, Newsletter | Comments Off on Greg Palast: Media Fabricates Sanders Nevada Riot, Buries The Real Story

Why Voters Might “Respectfully Disagree” With Clinton’s Declaration of Victory

With Clinton trailing Trump nationally ‘Are Democrats on track to nominate the wrong candidate?’

By Deirdre Fulton
Common Dreams (5/20/16)

The Bernie Sanders campaign struck back at Hillary Clinton on Thursday for her statement that the Democratic presidential nominating process was “already done,” pointing to not only the nine remaining contests, but also poll after poll showing Sanders outperforming Clinton in hypothetical match-ups against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Clinton told CNN on Thursday: “I will be the nominee for my party. That is already done, in effect. There is no way that I won’t be.”

But Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs, in a strongly worded statement issued late Thursday afternoon, begged to differ.

“In the past three weeks voters in Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon respectfully disagreed with Secretary Clinton,” Briggs said. “We expect voters in the remaining nine contests also will disagree. And with almost every national and state poll showing Sen. Sanders doing much, much better than Secretary Clinton against Donald Trump, it is clear that millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign.”

A new Rasmussen poll published Friday finds Sanders ahead of Trump, 45-41 percent, but Trump ahead of Clinton, 42-37 percent.

The polling group wonders: “Are Democrats on track to nominate the wrong candidate?”

Meanwhile, a CBS News/New York Times poll released Thursday evening showed Sanders ahead of Trump by 13 points, 51 to 38 percent—more than double Clinton’s six-point lead over the New York real estate mogul.

The same poll found that 52 percent of Democratic primary voters would enthusiastically support Sanders if he were the nominee, compared to 44 percent who feel that way about Clinton. The majority of both Clinton and Sanders supporters said they see the length of the nomination process as a positive.

Notably, CBS reported, “This is a reversal from 2008, when Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in the primaries. Back then, when asked a similar question, more than half of Democratic primary voters thought the long nomination fight would hurt their nominee.”

In fact, noted Guardian columnist Trevor Timm on Thursday:

Around this time in 2008, Clinton was still heavily criticizing the inevitable nominee Barack Obama and making divisive statements that make this primary campaign look like a walk in the park. How quickly everyone forgets (or pretends not to remember.) In fact, some of the issues Clinton once criticized Obama forare now the same issues that Sanders hits Clinton on. Clinton supporters had no problem with it then, but are now feigning being offended.

Perhaps then the “fury” against Sanders that is reportedly “growing in Clinton World,” asThe Hill‘s Amie Parnes put it, is more reflective of establishment Democrat priorities than what voters want.

As Timm wrote this week:

There is nothing worse than Democratic establishment politicians decreeing that Sanders must drop out or feigning horror that his supporters sometimes don’t unquestionably support other Democratic politicians on 100% of the issues.

Again, let’s look back at the 2008 race: the Clinton camp said she had every right to stay in the race for as long as she wants, even though it was clear that Obama would win. She even said one of her reasons was “we all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California” before the Democratic convention in 1968. If Sanders said something like that he would be raked over the coals (and rightly, I might add).

It’s not politicians who should be dictating when Sanders drops out, that’s the voters’ job. And Sanders, despite finding his mathematical chance increasingly dwindling, continues to win primaries. [On Tuesday] he won Oregon, for example. So it seems that voters don’t want him to drop out, only the politicians who are tied to the system he is constantly criticizing do.

Similarly, Clinton supporters are putting “excessive focus on how Sanders will help Democrats unify the party,” Kevin Gosztola wrote Wednesday at ShadowProof. “This is what the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee want the public to be concerned about,” he said, “so citizens overlook the extent of their collusion.”

Indeed, despite the incessant push for Sanders to draw down his campaign, “between mid-May and late July countless things could happen that would cause super-delegates to move toward Sanders en masse,” argued attorney and freelance journalist Seth Abramson at theHuffington Post—a development that would significantly change the primary narrative.

“A win in the California primary could be chief among them,” he said.

Abramson wrote:

As has been exhaustively explained to both Clinton and the mainstream media over the past year, and as Clinton herself says during the interview above — “the name of the game is delegates” — should enough super-delegates switch their votes to Sanders in late July on the argument that he’s more electable than Clinton in the fall (the conventional metric used by super-delegates forced to decide a primary since 1984), Clinton will not, in fact, be the Democratic nominee. Indeed many believe that a Clinton loss in the California primary — coupled with a string of polls showing Clinton tied with or losing to Donald Trump in every battleground state as well as behind the unpredictable billionaire nationally — could cause super-delegates to switch their votes in large numbers.

Sanders will be in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Friday afternoon and is returning to California on Saturday ahead of the state’s June 7 primary.

(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)

Link to Story

Posted in 2016-05-23, Newsletter | Comments Off on Why Voters Might “Respectfully Disagree” With Clinton’s Declaration of Victory

Rebel Reporter: Late Poet And Activist Journalist John Ross Remembered In New Book On Independent Journalism

“The first thing you need to know is that you do not have a career in journalism. Forget about your career. You have an obligation—to tell the story of those who entrust you with theirs, to tell the truth about the way the world works.” – John Ross

Democracy Now! (5/19/16)

This week Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto proposed legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. It’s currently legal only in certain states and Mexico City. The announcement came as he faces renewed pressure over the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico in September 2014. Multiple reports have pointed to a role by federal authorities and cast doubt on Mexico’s claim the students were killed by a drug gang. Well, if anyone understood the beauty and contradictions of Mexico, it was the late independent reporter, activist and poet John Ross. Ross covered social movements in Mexico and Latin America for nearly 50 years, and authored 10 nonfiction books and 10 books of poetry before he died in 2011.

Now a new book captures some of the lectures Ross gave to journalism students to teach them how to cover stories and create change. It’s called “Rebel Reporting: John Ross Speaks to Independent Journalists.” We are joined by Norm Stockwell, co-editor of “Rebel Reporting.” He is also operations coordinator with WORT community radio in Madison, Wisconsin.

Link to Story and 12-Minute Video

  • The Making of an Activist-Journalist: The Rebel Reporting Of John Ross — John Ross was an unforgettable character, with the forgiveable emphasis upon “character.” My sole encounter with John was so brief that I could not possibly have taken in all the things he did and all the things that he was. Cristalyne Bell, multi-media journalist extraordinaire, says something surprisingly similar in half of the two-part preface to Rebel Reporting: John Ross Speaks to Independent Journalists. Her only encounter was to listen to lectures by Ross, in a journalism class, and drink in the wisdom. With sartorially downscale, gap-toothed casualness and quite a bit of humor, Ross, who wrote regularly for CounterPunch, tore into the supposed objectivity of the news gathering-and-reporting that has become the standard, liberal (MSNBC) and reactionary (Fox) alike. Norm Stockwell, Bell’s counterpart and himself the heart and soul of Pacifica station WORT in Madison, Wisconsin—although too modest to admit it—offers a bit more because Madison was on John’s itinerary. Norm plugged him into local gigs around town and brought him on the air numerous times over a twenty year stretch. Robert McChesney, easily one of the most distinguished media scholar/critics in the US, points to Ross’ real credentials, not the awards hung on office walls by network bigshots. … Read the Rest
  • The Final Report, And Last Minutes, Of Independent Reporter Brad Will — American reporter Brad Will was covering a labor dispute in the Mexican city of Oaxaca for Indymedia  when he was gunned down by paramilitary forces on October 27, 2006. The link here is the video leading up to and including his murder. At a time of corporate un fluff reporting we must keep in mind and memory those reporters who have shown great courage and compassion for he people who are victims of empire. Link to 16-Minute Video

Posted in 2016-05-23, Newsletter | Comments Off on Rebel Reporter: Late Poet And Activist Journalist John Ross Remembered In New Book On Independent Journalism

Martin Luther King Saw Clearly Into The Future

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

— Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., from his famous Riverside Church speech, given one year to the day before he was assassinated.

Posted in 2016-05-23, Newsletter | Tagged | Comments Off on Martin Luther King Saw Clearly Into The Future

FBI Discovers Assassination Plot Against Members Of Occupy, And Does Nothing

Brasscheck TV (5/18/16)

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a human rights civil advocacy organization, recently requested information regarding the Occupy movement and the role of the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Although the government released documents to the civil rights group, the documents were heavily redacted. However, what was salient and what was shown in the FOIA documents was how the FBI discovered a plan to use snipers in Dallas and Houston, Texas to assassinate Occupy leaders.

The name of the group looking to assassinate members of Occupy was edited from the FOIA documents, but what remained clear is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation knew about the planned sniper attacks and did nothing.

Why weren’t members of the assassination team arrested? What was the role of the FBI in this plot? What group or groups were responsible?

Link to Story and 4-Minute Video

Posted in 2016-05-23, Newsletter | Tagged | Comments Off on FBI Discovers Assassination Plot Against Members Of Occupy, And Does Nothing

Help Elect Alicia Leinberger In The 96th Assembly District! — May 28

If you agree that it’s time for government that serves all of us equally, join us in Sidie Hollow Park for this celebration and fundraiser.

  • When: Saturday, May 28, 6pm
  • Where: Sidie Hollow Park, Main Shelter
  • Campaign address at 7:30pm
  • Fire balloons over the lake at 8pm

Bring your family and friends, a dish or dessert to share, and dishes to eat with.

Posted in 2016-05-21, 2016-05-22, 2016-05-23, Newsletter | Comments Off on Help Elect Alicia Leinberger In The 96th Assembly District! — May 28

Michelle Alexander: No Evidence Enhanced Sentences Reduce Drug Availability

Automatically adding years to a drug sentence is a weapon of individual and community destruction disguised as an expression of concern.

By Michelle Alexander
Los Angeles Times (5/9/16)

Ten years ago in Los Angeles, Theresa Martinez was finally making progress in her long, painful struggle against drug addiction and the cycle of incarceration it fueled. But in order to continue her methadone program, she needed $200. Homeless, unemployed, and terrified of falling back into heroin addiction, she tried to get the money the only way she knew: selling drugs.

Martinez was arrested for a $5 sale of cocaine, a felony that, absent aggravating factors, carried a three-year prison sentence. By global standards that penalty would have been unusual and harsh, especially since she plainly needed help and support — not incarceration. But here in the United States, Martinez faced an even worse fate. California law prescribes sentencing “enhancements” for anyone who has a prior drug-related felony conviction. Martinez was threatened with a nine-year sentence. Anguished, she took a plea deal for six years, bringing her lifetime total to 23 years behind bars, all for drugs.

The sentence enhancement that doubled, and could have tripled Martinez’s third time behind bars is a brutal tool of the ineffective war on drugs, a war that has been waged primarily against poor communities of color, even though studies consistently show that rates of illegal drug use and sales are similar across racial lines.

California now has an opportunity to close down one front in this war. Senate Bill 966, authored by Sen. Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), would repeal the three-year sentence enhancement for prior drug convictions. Sentence enhancements like these were marketed as deterrents to drug use and sales, supposedly out of concern for the harm drugs cause people. But drastic sentences impede rehabilitation and treatment and worsen the odds of successful reintegration.

There is no evidence that enhanced sentences reduce drug availability or the number of people harmed by illicit drug use. After decades of the war on drugs, it is clear that purely punitive approaches to drug crime are counterproductive. Drug use has not declined, controlled substances are now cheaper and more widely available than ever before, and the death rate from drug overdoses continues to rise.

Sentenced to stigma

Here in California, thousands of families have been broken apart and communities throughout the state have been destabilized. Instead of helping those targeted by the war on drugs, we have sentenced them not just to prison but to the lifetime of discrimination and stigma that follows it.

It is no secret that the war on drugs has had a grossly disproportionate impact on people who are black, brown and poor. People of color are far more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, prosecuted, convicted and incarcerated for drug violations than are whites, who can typically commit the same acts in upper- and middle-class neighborhoods without criminal consequences. Sentence enhancements based on prior drug convictions magnify these disparities, falling on those who have been unable to successfully re-integrate into society after earlier prison sentences.

Labor unions, healthcare providers, and more than 125 other organizations support SB 966. It has been met with resistance primarily from law enforcement, including district attorneys, sheriffs and police chiefs.

In its first vote in the California Senate April 25, the bill’s opponents resorted to racially coded fear-mongering about “perpetually arrested drug dealers.” The bill fell three votes short of a majority, with senators voting primarily along party lines — with the exception of three Democrats who joined Republicans in opposing the bill. Five other Democrats abstained.

SB 966 could be brought back for another vote this week. It deserves to be passed by the Senate, moved to the Assembly and passed there as well. The state’s lawmakers can stop the unnecessary suffering caused by sentence enhancements.

Community destruction

After Theresa Martinez served her sentence, she was homeless for two years, moving between shelters, her husband’s truck and the homes of various friends. Her drug convictions made her ineligible for help from CalFresh and CalWORKS, the state’s food stamp and family aid programs, until the ban was lifted a year ago. Now she is getting back on her feet and is trying to build her life — minus 23 years of incarceration.

Automatically adding years to a drug sentence is a weapon of individual and community destruction disguised as an expression of concern. Passing SB 966 is an important step in the state’s belated journey toward justice and healing in our communities.

Link to Story

Posted in 2016-05-23, Newsletter | Comments Off on Michelle Alexander: No Evidence Enhanced Sentences Reduce Drug Availability

Community Override: When State Legislatures Preempt Democracy

By Thomas Linzey
In These Times (4/29/16)

In March 2016, the North Carolina legislature exercised its broad preemption powers, overriding community lawmaking in the state by making it legal to discriminate against the LGBT community.

Specifically, the legislature passed a law, House Bill 2—which Governor Pat McCrory then signed—prohibiting communities from adopting stronger anti-discrimination laws than those in place at the state level. The legislature’s actions came in response a number of cities in the state, including Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, enacting anti-discrimination laws at the local level.

The new state law preempts—and thus overrides and nullifies—those protective local laws. This means that the state legislature deliberately and knowingly eliminated protections for the LGBT community in North Carolina.

The fallout has been significant. From Bruce Springsteen to Pearl Jam, to Ringo Starr to Cirque du Soleil, a slew of businesses and entertainers have canceled events and operations in North Carolina in response to the new law. As similar bills advance in other states, there is a heightened awareness of the power of state governments to preempt community lawmaking.

Despite the headlines, however, what’s really unusual about the response to the North Carolina legislature’s action is that it was noticed at all.

The power of state preemption

For well over a century, no legal principle has been worshipped more than that of state preemption—the authority of a state legislature to nullify the authority of people at the local level to adopt certain laws.

While most may believe that such a power—tremendous as it is—finds its authority within state constitutions, it doesn’t exist there. Concocted purely by the courts over a hundred years ago, the power of preemption was ushered in the door by another, longstanding legal principle—that because municipal corporations (our cities, towns, and counties) are created by the state, their powers can be changed at the whim of the state that created them.

How state preemption is used

This may come as a surprise to many, but these doctrines—state preemption of local laws, and the state’s unbridled authority to define the scope of community lawmaking authority—have been used extensively over the last century by those powerful enough to wield them.

Thus, agribusiness corporations have used state legislatures to adopt “right to farm” laws that protect factory farm operations and the planting of GMO crops from interference by local lawmaking. Oil and gas corporations have used legislatures to adopt laws that forbid communities from banning drilling and fracking. Water bottling corporations have used state lawmaking to prohibit communities from banning corporate water withdrawals.

And the list goes on. As with North Carolina’s House Bill 2, state legislatures have also used state preemption to prohibit communities from increasing the minimum wage, creating municipal broadband systems, passing gun control measures, creating sanctuary cities for immigrants and refugees, and banning plastic bags, and establishing medical and parental leave laws. According to the group Grassroots Change, at least 29 state legislatures entertained preemption bills in 2015 alone.

While political commentators often recognize that the preemptive actions of state legislatures have a negative effect—foreclosing municipal authority in certain areas of law—most fail to acknowledge that preemptive laws also have a proactiveeffect. That is, such state laws forcibly mandate that communities accept activities and policies that the legislature has preempted the locality from acting on—such as fracking, water bottling operations, or lower minimum wages. In a sense, preemption laws actually legalize those activities and policies, much in the same way that the North Carolina legislature legalized discrimination against the LGBT community.

Communities rejecting state preemption

In a country ostensibly based on the cherished principle of self-government, many citizens are refusing to accept a structure of law that divests them of lawmaking authority when and where they need it most. They are beginning to question the very authority of state governments to legalize that which harms them.

Close to two hundred municipal communities across the United States have now begun to directly challenge the traditional reach of state preemption. They’re adopting local Community Bills of Rights that ban activities and projects that would violate those rights. In communities such as Pittsburgh, the city council enacted a local bill of rights recognizing environmental rights of the community and nature, and protected those rights by banning fracking and drilling.

These communities believe that when they expand civil, political, and environmental rights at the local level—beyond the floor of rights secured by state constitutions and the federal constitution—that their local laws are beyond the reach of state preemptive power.

That position is not as radical as it may sound—after all, it is well-settled law that state constitutional guarantees may exceed the floor of federal ones. Those accused of the commission of crimes in Massachusetts, for example, have more rights under the Massachusetts Constitution than under the U.S. Constitution.

Preemption in North Carolina

So what does all of this mean for North Carolina?

The problem in North Carolina (and other states) isn’t just the discriminatory intent of state legislators. It’s that they have the authority to act on that intent, by foreclosing the ability of people at the local level to protect and defend civil rights.

To make the systemic change that is needed, the people of North Carolina should not allow the state to exercise power that it does not have. Instead, North Carolina communities should pass anew their anti-discrimination laws—openly flouting the authority of the state to override them—and then force the state to test its political will by punishing them.

Further, they should do what coalitions of communities in five states are now doing—propose a state constitutional amendment that would deprive their state legislatures of the legal, preemptive authority to bar the expansion of civil and political rights within their communities.

As Frederick Douglass once famously declared, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Unless the people of North Carolina demand local democracy, the state will continue to impose its own version of governance on its people.

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Posted in 2016-05-23, Newsletter | Comments Off on Community Override: When State Legislatures Preempt Democracy

Dept. Of Much Needed Humor: Larry David Closes SNL Season With Spot-On Skit As As Bernie Having A Last Beer And Tango With Hillary

By Tom Boggioni
Raw Story (5/22/16)

In what might be his last appearance as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, comedian Larry David once again popped up on Saturday Night Live for another dead-on impersonation of the presidential candidate.

With cast regular Kate McKinnon reprising Hillary Clinton, the two meet cute at closing time in a bar and have a beer together as they reminisce about the primary season while trading passive-aggressive barbs all the while.

Ordering a beer, Bernie asked for, “A new brand that people are flocking to. Something refreshing and revolutionary. Something that draws yuge crowds.”

“And I’ll have whatever beer no one likes that gets the job done,” Hillary added.

Saying she’ll have a very special place in her administration for him — as a senator from Vermont — a half-in-the-bag Hillary made a barroom confession.

“You know the presidency?” she confided. “I really really want it. You know what else? I don’t really like people. I only talk to them because I want to be the president so bad. Please don’t tell, don’t tell.”

“Yeeee, I think they know, ” Bernie replied.

Then they danced.

Watch the video below via SNL.

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Posted in 2016-05-23, Newsletter | Comments Off on Dept. Of Much Needed Humor: Larry David Closes SNL Season With Spot-On Skit As As Bernie Having A Last Beer And Tango With Hillary

Sunday / May 22, 2016

Image result for syrian refugee children washed up


“If you are a compassionate person, then you build a compassionate family and then a compassionate community and then a compassionate world.”

— His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama

(See “Story Of The Children Of Syria”, below.)

Posted in 2016-05-22 | Tagged | Comments Off on Sunday / May 22, 2016

Malcolm X: “It Is Impossible For Capitalism To Survive, Primarily Because The System Of Capitalism Needs Some Blood to Suck”


By Chris Hedges
Truthdig (2/1/15)

Malcolm X, unlike Martin Luther King Jr., did not believe America had a conscience. For him there was no great tension between the lofty ideals of the nation—which he said were a sham—and the failure to deliver justice to blacks. He, perhaps better than King, understood the inner workings of empire. He had no hope that those who managed empire would ever get in touch with their better selves to build a country free of exploitation and injustice. He argued that from the arrival of the first slave ship to the appearance of our vast archipelago of prisons and our squalid, urban internal colonies where the poor are trapped and abused, the American empire was unrelentingly hostile to those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” This, Malcolm knew, would not change until the empire was destroyed.

“It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck,” Malcolm said. “Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, then capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”

As the Digital Age and our post-literate society implant a terrifying historical amnesia, these crimes are erased as swiftly as they are committed.

King was able to achieve a legal victory through the civil rights movement, portrayed in the new film “Selma.” But he failed to bring about economic justice and thwart the rapacious appetite of the war machine that he was acutely aware was responsible for empire’s abuse of the oppressed at home and abroad. And 50 years after Malcolm X was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem by hit men from the Nation of Islam, it is clear that he, not King, was right. We are the nation Malcolm knew us to be. Human beings can be redeemed. Empires cannot. Our refusal to face the truth about empire, our refusal to defy the multitudinous crimes and atrocities of empire, has brought about the nightmare Malcolm predicted. And as the Digital Age and our post-literate society implant a terrifying historical amnesia, these crimes are erased as swiftly as they are committed.

“Sometimes, I have dared to dream … that one day, history may even say that my voice—which disturbed the white man’s smugness, and his arrogance, and his complacency—that my voice helped to save America from a grave, possibly even fatal catastrophe,” Malcolm wrote.

The integration of elites of color, including Barack Obama, into the upper echelons of institutional and political structures has done nothing to blunt the predatory nature of empire. Identity and gender politics—we are about to be sold a woman president in the form of Hillary Clinton—have fostered, as Malcolm understood, fraud and theft by Wall Street, the evisceration of our civil liberties, the misery of an underclass in which half of all public school children live in poverty, the expansion of our imperial wars and the deep and perhaps fatal exploitation of the ecosystem. And until we heed Malcolm X, until we grapple with the truth about the self-destruction that lies at the heart of empire, the victims, at home and abroad, will mount. Malcolm, like James Baldwin, understood that only by facing the truth about who we are as members of an imperial power can people of color, along with whites, be liberated. This truth is bitter and painful. It requires an acknowledgment of our capacity for evil, injustice and exploitation, and it demands repentance. But we cling like giddy children to the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. We refuse to grow up. And because of these lies, perpetrated across the cultural and political spectrum, liberation has not taken place. Empire devours us all.

“We’re anti-evil, anti-oppression, anti-lynching,” Malcolm said. “You can’t be anti- those things unless you’re also anti- the oppressor and the lyncher. You can’t be anti-slavery and pro-slavemaster; you can’t be anti-crime and pro-criminal. In fact, Mr. Muhammad teaches that if the present generation of whites would study their own race in the light of true history, they would be anti-white themselves.”

We cling like giddy children to the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. We refuse to grow up. And because of these lies, perpetrated across the cultural and political spectrum, liberation has not taken place. Empire devours us all.



Malcolm once said that, had he been a middle-class black who was encouraged to go to law school, rather than a poor child in a detention home who dropped out of school at 15, “I would today probably be among some city’s professional black bourgeoisie, sipping cocktails and palming myself off as a community spokesman for and leader of the suffering black masses, while my primary concern would be to grab a few more crumbs from the groaning board of the two-faced whites with whom they’re begging to ‘integrate.’ ”

Malcolm’s family, struggling and poor, was callously ripped apart by state agencies in a pattern that remains unchanged. The courts, substandard schooling, roach-filled apartments, fear, humiliation, despair, poverty, greedy bankers, abusive employers, police, jails and probation officers did their work then as they do it now. Malcolm saw racial integration as a politically sterile game, one played by a black middle class anxious to sell its soul as an enabler of empire and capitalism. “The man who tosses worms in the river,” Malcolm said, “isn’t necessarily a friend of the fish. All the fish who take him for a friend, who think the worm’s got no hook on it, usually end up in the frying pan.” He related to the apocalyptic battles in the Book of Revelation where the persecuted rise up in revolt against the wicked.

“Martin [Luther King Jr.] doesn’t have the revolutionary fire that Malcolm had until the very end of his life,” Cornel West says in his book with Christa Buschendorf, “Black Prophetic Fire.” “And by revolutionary fire I mean understanding the system under which we live, the capitalist system, the imperial tentacles, the American empire, the disregard for life, the willingness to violate law, be it international law or domestic law. Malcolm understood that from very early on, and it hit Martin so hard that he does become a revolutionary in his own moral way later in his short life, whereas Malcolm had the revolutionary fire so early in his life.”

There are three great books on Malcolm X: “The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley,” “The Death and Life of Malcolm X” by Peter Goldman and “Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare” by James H. Cone.

On Friday I met Goldman—who as a reporter for a St. Louis newspaper and later for Newsweek knew and covered Malcolm—in a New York City cafe. Goldman was part of a tiny circle of white reporters Malcolm respected, including Charles Silberman of Fortune and M.S. “Mike” Handler of The New York Times, who Malcolm once said had “none of the usual prejudices or sentimentalities about black people.”

Goldman and his wife, Helen Dudar, who also was a reporter, first met Malcolm in 1962 at the Shabazz Frosti Kreem, a Black Muslim luncheonette in St. Louis’ north-side ghetto. At that meeting Malcolm poured some cream into his coffee. “Coffee is the only thing I liked integrated,” he commented. He went on: “The average Negro doesn’t even let another Negro know what he thinks, he’s so mistrusting. He’s an acrobat. He had to be to survive in this civilization. But by me being a Muslim, I’m black first—my sympathies are black, my allegiance is black, my whole objectives are black. By me being a Muslim, I’m not interested in being American, because America has never been interested in me.”

He told Goldman and Dudar: “We don’t hate. The white man has a guilt complex—he knows he’s done wrong. He knows that if he had undergone at our hands what we have undergone at his, he would hate us.” When Goldman told Malcolm he believed in a single society in which race did not matter Malcolm said sharply: “You’re dealing in fantasy. You’ve got to deal in facts.”

Goldman remembered, “He was the messenger who brought us the bad news, and nobody wanted to hear it.” Despite the “bad news” at that first meeting, Goldman would go on to have several more interviews with him, interviews that often lasted two or three hours. The writer now credits Malcolm for his “re-education.”

Goldman was struck from the beginning by Malcolm’s unfailing courtesy, his dazzling smile, his moral probity, his courage and, surprisingly, his gentleness. Goldman mentions the day that psychologist and writer Kenneth B. Clark and his wife escorted a group of high school students, most of them white, to meet Malcolm. They arrived to find him surrounded by reporters. Mrs. Clark, feeling that meeting with reporters was probably more important, told Malcolm the teenagers would wait. “The important thing is these kids,” Malcolm said to the Clarks as he called the students forward. “He didn’t see a difference between white kids and kids,” Kenneth Clark is quoted as saying in Goldman’s book.

James Baldwin too wrote of Malcolm’s deep sensitivity. He and Malcolm were on a radio program in 1961 with a young civil rights activist who had just returned from the South. “If you are an American citizen,” Baldwin remembered Malcolm asking the young man, “why have you got to fight for your rights as a citizen? To be a citizen means that you have the rights of a citizen. If you haven’t got the rights of a citizen, then you’re not a citizen.” “It’s not as simple as that,” the young man answered. “Why not?” Malcolm asked.

During the exchange, Baldwin wrote, “Malcolm understood that child and talked to him as though he was talking to a younger brother, and with that same watchful attention. What most struck me was that he was not at all trying to proselytize the child: he was trying to make him think. … I will never forget Malcolm and that child facing each other, and Malcolm’s extraordinary gentleness. And that’s the truth about Malcolm: he was one of the gentlest people I have ever met.”

“If you read, you’ll find that very few people who think like I think live long enough to get old. When I say by any means necessary, I mean it with all my heart, my mind and my soul. A black man should give his life to be free, and he should also be able, be willing to take the life of those who want to take his. When you really think like that, you don’t live long.”


“One of Malcolm’s many lines that I liked was ‘I am the man you think you are,’ ” Goldman said. “What he meant by that was if you hit me I would hit you back. But over the period of my acquaintance with him I came to believe it also meant if you respect me I will respect you back.”

Cone amplifies this point in “Martin & Malcolm & America”:

Malcolm X is the best medicine against genocide. He showed us by example and prophetic preaching that one does not have to stay in the mud. We can wake up; we can stand up; and we can take that long walk toward freedom. Freedom is first and foremost an inner recognition of self-respect, a knowledge that one was not put on this earth to be a nobody. Using drugs and killing each other are the worst forms of nobodyness. Our forefathers fought against great odds (slavery, lynching, and segregation), but they did not self-destruct. Some died fighting, and others, inspired by their example, kept moving toward the promised land of freedom, singing ‘we ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around.’ African-Americans can do the same today. We can fight for our dignity and self-respect. To be proud to be black does not mean being against white people, unless whites are against respecting the humanity of blacks. Malcolm was not against whites; he was for blacks and against their exploitation.

Goldman lamented the loss of voices such as Malcolm’s, voices steeped in an understanding of our historical and cultural truths and endowed with the courage to speak these truths in public.

“We don’t read anymore,” Goldman said. “We don’t learn anymore. History is disappearing. People talk about living in the moment as if it is a virtue. It is a horrible vice. Between the twitterverse and the 24-hour cable news cycle our history keeps disappearing. History is something boring that you had to endure in high school and then you are rid of it. Then you go to college and study finance, accounting, business management or computer science. There are damn few liberal arts majors left. And this has erased our history. The larger figure in the ’60s was, of course, King. But what the huge majority of Americans know about King is [only] that he made a speech where he said ‘I have a dream’ and that his name is attached to a day off.”

Malcolm, like King, understood the cost of being a prophet. The two men daily faced down this cost.

Malcolm, as Goldman writes, met with the reporter Claude Lewis not long before his Feb. 21, 1965, murder. He had already experienced several attempts on his life.

“This is an era of hypocrisy,” he told Lewis. “When white folks pretend that they want Negroes to be free, and Negroes pretend to white folks that they really believe that white folks want ’em to be free, it’s an era of hypocrisy, brother. You fool me and I fool you. You pretend that you’re my brother, and I pretend that I really believe you believe you’re my brother.”

He told Lewis he would never reach old age. “If you read, you’ll find that very few people who think like I think live long enough to get old. When I say by any means necessary, I mean it with all my heart, my mind and my soul. A black man should give his life to be free, and he should also be able, be willing to take the life of those who want to take his. When you really think like that, you don’t live long.”

Lewis asked him how he wanted to be remembered. “Sincere,” Malcolm said. “In whatever I did or do. Even if I made mistakes, they were made in sincerity. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong in sincerity. I think that the best thing that a person can be is sincere.”

“The price of freedom,” Malcolm said shortly before he was killed, “is death.”

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Posted in 2016-05-22, Newsletter | Tagged | Comments Off on Malcolm X: “It Is Impossible For Capitalism To Survive, Primarily Because The System Of Capitalism Needs Some Blood to Suck”