By Peter Buttigieg St. Joseph’s High School South Bend, Indiana (jfklibrary.org)
In this new century, there are a daunting number of important issues which are to be confronted if we are to progress as a nation. Each must be addressed thoroughly and energetically. But in order to accomplish the collective goals of our society, we must first address how we deal with issues. We must re-examine the psychological and political climate of American politics. As it stands, our future is at risk due to a troubling tendency towards cynicism among voters and elected officials. The successful resolution of every issue before us depends on the fundamental question of public integrity.
A new attitude has swept American politics. Candidates have discovered that is easier to be elected by not offending anyone rather than by impressing the voters. Politicians are rushing for the center, careful not to stick their necks out on issues. Most Democrats shy away from the word “liberal” like a horrid accusation. Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush uses the centrist rhetoric of “compassionate conservatism” while Pat Buchanan, once considered a mainstream Republican, has been driven off the ideological edge of the G.O.P. Just as film producers shoot different endings and let test audiences select the most pleasing, some candidates run “test platforms” through sample groups to see which is most likely to win before they speak out on major issue. This disturbing trend reveals cynicism, a double-sided problem, which is perhaps, the greatest threat to the continued success of the American political system.
Cynical candidates have developed an ability to outgrow their convictions in order to win power. Cynical citizens have given up on the election process, going to the polls at one of the lowest rates in the democratic world. Such an atmosphere inevitably distances our society from its leadership and is thus a fundamental threat to the principles of democracy. It also calls into question what motivates a run for office – in many cases, apparently, only the desire to occupy it. Fortunately for the political process, there remain a number of committed individuals who are steadfast enough in their beliefs to run for office to benefit their fellow Americans. Such people are willing to eschew political and personal comfort and convenience because they believe they can make a difference. One outstanding and inspiring example of such integrity is the country’s only Independent Congressman, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.
Sanders’ courage is evident in the first word he uses to describe himself: “Socialist”. In a country where Communism is still the dirtiest of ideological dirty words, in a climate where even liberalism is considered radical, and Socialism is immediately and perhaps willfully confused with Communism, a politician dares to call himself a socialist? He does indeed. Here is someone who has “looked into his own soul” and expressed an ideology, the endorsement of which, in today’s political atmosphere, is analogous to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Even though he has lived through a time in which an admitted socialist could not act in a film, let alone hold a Congressional seat, Sanders is not afraid to be candid about his political persuasion.
After numerous political defeats in his traditionally Republican state, Sanders won the office of mayor of Burlington by ten votes. A successful and popular mayor, he went on to win Vermont’s one Congressional seat in 1990. Since then, he has taken many courageous and politically risky stands on issues facing the nation. He has come under fire from various conservative religious groups because of his support for same-sex marriages. His stance on gun control led to NRA-organized media campaigns against him. Sanders has also shown creativity in organizing drug-shopping trips to Canada for senior citizens to call attention to inflated drug prices in the United States.
While impressive, Sanders’ candor does not itself represent political courage. The nation is teeming with outspoken radicals in one form or another. Most are sooner called crazy than courageous. It is the second half of Sanders’ political role that puts the first half into perspective: he is a powerful force for conciliation and bi-partisanship on Capitol Hill. In Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy wrote that “we should not be too hasty in condemning all compromise as bad morals. For politics and legislation are not matters for inflexible principles or unattainable ideals.” It may seem strange that someone so steadfast in his principles has a reputation as a peacemaker between divided forces in Washington, but this is what makes Sanders truly remarkable. He represents President Kennedy’s ideal of “compromises of issues, not of principles.”
Sanders has used his unique position as the lone Independent Congressman to help Democrats and Republicans force hearings on the internal structure of the International Monetary Fund, which he sees as excessively powerful and unaccountable. He also succeeded in quietly persuading reluctant Republicans and President Clinton to ban the import of products made by under-age workers. Sanders drew some criticism from the far left when he chose to grudgingly endorse President Clinton’s bids for election and re-election as President. Sanders explained that while he disagreed with many of Clinton’s centrist policies, he felt that he was the best option for America’s working class.
Sanders’ positions on many difficult issues are commendable, but his real impact has been as a reaction to the cynical climate which threatens the effectiveness of the democratic system. His energy, candor, conviction, and ability to bring people together stand against the current of opportunism, moral compromise, and partisanship which runs rampant on the American political scene. He and few others like him have the power to restore principle and leadership in Congress and to win back the faith of a voting public weary and wary of political opportunism. Above all, I commend Bernie Sanders for giving me an answer to those who say American young people see politics as a cesspool of corruption, beyond redemption. I have heard that no sensible young person today would want to give his or her life to public service. I can personally assure you this is untrue.
Dunne, Nancy. “IMF Chief Faces a Grilling from Lone Independent Warrior of Capitol Hill.” Financial Times. 21 April 1998.
Greenhouse, Steven. “Measure to Ban Import Items Made By Children in Bondage.” New York Times. 1 October 1997.
“Homepage for Congressman Bernie Sanders.” http://www.house.gov/bernie (7 January, 2000).
Kennedy, John F. Profiles in Courage. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956.
Nichols, John. “Go Knock on Some Doors: Bernie Sanders Sounds Off.” The Progressive. May 1996.
Posted on December 13, 2019 by Ellen Brown (ellenbrown.com)
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan called Paul Volcker “the most effective chairman in the history of the Federal Reserve.” But while Volcker, who passed away Dec. 8 at age 92, probably did have the greatest historical impact of any Fed chairman, his legacy is, at best, controversial.
“He restored credibility to the Federal Reserve at a time it had been greatly diminished,” wrote his biographer, William Silber. Volcker’s policies led to what was called “the New Keynesian revolution,” putting the Fed in charge of controlling the amount of money available to consumers and businesses by manipulating the federal funds rate (the interest rate at which banks borrow from each other). All this was because Volcker’s “shock therapy” of the early 1980s – raising the federal funds rate to an unheard of 20% – was credited with reversing the stagflation of the 1970s. But did it? Or was something else going on?
Less discussed was Volcker’s role at the behest of President Richard Nixon in taking the dollar off the gold standard, which he called “the single most important event of his career.” He evidently intended for another form of stable exchange system to replace the Bretton Woods system it destroyed, but that did not happen. Instead, freeing the dollar from gold unleashed an unaccountable central banking system that went wild printing money for the benefit of private Wall Street and London financial interests.
The power to create money can be a good and necessary tool in the hands of benevolent leaders working on behalf of the people and the economy. But like with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Disney’s “Fantasia,” if it falls in the wrong hands, it can wreak havoc on the world. Unfortunately for Volcker’s legacy and the well-being of the rest of us, his signature policies led to the devastation of the American working class in the 1980s and ultimately set the stage for the 2008 global financial crisis.
Mr. Volcker’s greatest historical mark was in eight years as Fed chairman. When he took the reins of the central bank, the nation was mired in a decade-long period of rapidly rising prices and weak economic growth. Mr. Volcker, overcoming the objections of many of his colleagues, raised interest rates to an unprecedented 20%, drastically reducing the supply of money and credit.
The Post acknowledges that the effect on the economy was devastating, triggering what was then the deepest economic downturn since the Depression of the 1930s, driving thousands of businesses and farms to bankruptcy and propelling the unemployment rate past 10%:
Mr. Volcker was pilloried by industry, labor unions and lawmakers of all ideological stripes. He took the abuse, convinced that this shock therapy would finally break Americans’ expectations that prices would forever rise rapidly and that the result would be a stronger economy over the longer run.
On this he was right, contends the author:
Soon after Mr. Volcker took his foot off the brake of the U.S. economy in 1981, and the Fed began lowering interest rates, the nation began a quarter century of low inflation, steady growth, and rare and mild recessions. Economists attribute that period, one of the sunniest in economic history, at least in part to the newfound credibility as an inflation-fighter that Mr. Volcker earned for the Fed.
That is the conventional version, but the stagflation of the 1970s and its sharp reversal in the early 1980s appears more likely to have been due to a correspondingly sharp rise and fall in the price of oil. There is evidence this oil shortage was intentionally engineered for the purpose of restoring the global dominance of the U.S. dollar, which had dropped precipitously in international markets after it was taken off the gold standard in 1971.
We see that the problem begins in 1973 with the ’73-’75 recession – that’s when growth first dives. In October of 1973, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries declared an oil embargo upon the supporters of Israel – western nations. The ’73-’75 recession begins in November of 1973, immediately after. During normal recessions, inflation does not rise – it shrinks, as people spend less and prices fall. So why does inflation rise from ’73-’75? Because this recession is not a normal recession – it is sparked by an oil shortage. The price of oil more than doubles in the space of a mere few months from ’73-’74. Oil is involved in the manufacturing of plastics, in gasoline, in sneakers, it’s everywhere. When the price of oil goes up, the price of most things go up. The spike in the oil price is so large that it drives up the costs of consumer goods throughout the rest of the economy so fast that wages fail to keep up with it. As a result, you get both inflation and a recession at once.
… Terrified by the double-digit inflation rate in 1974, the Federal Reserve switches gears and jacks the interest rate up to near 14%. … The economy slips back into the throws of the recession for another year or so, and the unemployment rate takes off, rising to around 9% by 1975. …
Then, in 1979, the economy gets another oil price shock (this time caused by the Revolution in Iran in January of that year) in which the price of oil again more than doubles. The result is a fall in growth and inflation knocked all the way up into the teens. The Federal Reserve tries to fight the oil-driven inflation by raising interest rates high into the teens, peaking out at 20% in 1980.
… [B]y 1983, the unemployment rate has peaked at nearly 11%. To fight this, the Federal Reserve knocks the interest rate back below 10%, and meanwhile, alongside all of this, Ronald Reagan spends lots of money and expands the state in ’82/83. … Why does inflation not respond by returning? Because oil prices are falling throughout this period, and by 1985 have collapsed utterly.
The federal funds rate was just below 10% in 1975 at the height of the early stagflation crisis. How could the same rate that was responsible for inflation in the 1970s drop the consumer price index to acceptable levels after 1983? And if the federal funds rate has that much effect on inflation, why is the extremely low 1.55% rate today not causing hyperinflation? What Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is now fighting instead is deflation, a lack of consumer demand causing stagnant growth in the real, producing economy.
Thus it looks as if oil, not the federal funds rate, was the critical factor in the rise and fall of consumer prices in the 1970s and 1980s. “Stagflation” was just a predictable result of the shortage of this essential commodity at a time when the country was not energy-independent. The following chart from Business Insider Australia shows the historical correlations:
The Plot Thickens
But there’s more. The subplot is detailed by William Engdahl in “The Gods of Money”(2009). To counter the falling dollar after it was taken off the gold standard, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and President Nixon held a clandestine meeting in 1972 with the Shah of Iran. Then, in 1973, a group of powerful financiers and politicians met secretly in Sweden to discuss how the dollar might effectively be “backed” by oil. An arrangement was finalized in which the oil-producing countries of OPEC would sell their oil only in U.S. dollars, and the dollars would wind up in Wall Street and London banks, where they would fund the burgeoning U.S. debt.
For the OPEC countries, the quid pro quo was military protection, along with windfall profits from a dramatic boost in oil prices. In 1974, according to plan, an oil embargo caused the price of oil to quadruple, forcing countries without sufficient dollar reserves to borrow from Wall Street and London banks to buy the oil they needed. Increased costs then drove up prices worldwide.
The panic caused by the Iranian Revolution raised a new tsunami of inflation that was violently unleashed on the world economy, whose consequences were even greater than what took place in 1973. Once again, the sharp, unexpected increase in the price of crude oil instantly affected transportation, construction, and agriculture – confirming oil’s ubiquity. … The time of draconian monetarist policies advocated by economist Milton Friedman, David Rockefeller’s protégé, had arrived. The Bank of England’s interest rate was around 16% in 1980. The impact on the economy was brutal. …
Appointed by President Carter in August 1979, Paul Volcker, the new chief of the Federal Reserve, administered the same shock treatment [drastically raising interest rates] to the American economy. Carter had initially offered the position to David Rockefeller; Chase Manhattan’s president politely declined the offer and “strongly” recommended that Carter appeal to Volcker (who had been a Chase vice president in the 1960s). To stop the spiral of inflation that endangered the profitability and stability of all banks, the Federal Reserve increased its benchmark rate to 20% in 1980 and 1981. The following year, 1982, the American economy experienced a 2% recession, much more severe than the recession of 1974.
In an article in American Opinion in 19179, Gary Allen, author of “None Dare Call It Conspiracy: The Rockefeller Files” (1971), observed that both Volcker and Henry Kissinger were David Rockefeller protégés. Volcker had worked for Rockefeller at Chase Manhattan Bank and was a member of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. In 1971, when he was Treasury undersecretary for monetary affairs, Volcker played an instrumental role in the top-secret Camp David meeting at which the president approved taking the dollar off the gold standard. Allen wrote that it was Volcker who “led the effort to demonetize gold in favor of bookkeeping entries as part of another international banking grab. His appointment now threatens an economic bust.”
Volcker’s Real Legacy
Allen went on:
How important is the post to which Paul Volcker has been appointed? The New York Times tells us: “As the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve System, which by law is independent of the Administration and Congress, has exclusive authority to control the amount of money available to consumers and businesses.” … This means that the Federal Reserve Board has life-and-death power over the economy.
And that is Paul Volcker’s true legacy. At a time when the Fed’s credibility was “greatly diminished,” he restored to it the life-and-death power over the economy that it continues to exercise today. His “shock therapy” of the early 1980s broke the backs of labor and the unions, bankrupted the savings and loans, and laid the groundwork for the “liberalization” of the banking laws that allowed securitization, derivatives, and the repo market to take center stage. As noted by Jeff Spross in The Week, Volcker’s chosen strategy essentially loaded all the pain onto the working class, an approach to monetary policy that has shaped Fed policy ever since.
In 2008-09, the Fed was an opaque accessory to the bank heist in which massive fraud was covered up and the banks were made whole despite their criminality. Taking the dollar off the gold standard allowed the Fed to engage in the “quantitative easing” that underwrote this heist. Bolstered by OPEC oil backing, uncoupling the dollar from gold also allowed it to maintain and expand its status as global reserve currency.
What was Volcker’s role in all this? He is described by those who knew him as a personable man who lived modestly and didn’t capitalize on his powerful position to accumulate personal wealth. He held a lifelong skepticism of financial elites and financial “innovation.” He proposed a key restriction on speculative activity by banks that would become known as the “Volcker Rule.” In the late 1960s, he opposed allowing global exchange rates to float freely, which he said would allow speculators to “pounce on a depreciating currency, pushing it even lower.” And he evidently regretted the calamity caused by his 1980s shock treatment, saying if he could do it over again, he would do it differently.
It could be said that Volcker was a good man, who spent his life trying to rectify that defining moment when he helped free the dollar from gold. Ultimately, eliminating the gold standard was a necessary step in allowing the money supply to expand to meet the needs of trade. The power to create money can be a useful tool in the right hands. It just needs to be recaptured and wielded in the public interest, following the lead of the American colonial governments that first demonstrated its very productive potential.
This photo was taken at the first Public Bank Town Hall in District 10: Bayview Hunter’s Point. (Photo courtesy PODER)
Jacqueline Fielder has been working two restaurant jobs, but in increasingly unaffordable San Francisco, she’s had trouble finding stable, safe housing she can afford. She moved to the Bay Area to go to Stanford, where she earned a bachelor’s in public policy and a master’s in sociology in just four years. But for the past six months, she’s been couch surfing and living out of her van, a green Toyota Previa, model year 1994 — the same year she was born.
In her spare time between shifts, Fielder has continued volunteering as one of the lead organizers behind San Francisco’s push for a city-owned public bank that would hold local taxpayer dollars and finance affordable housing, small businesses, student loans and other public needs that conventional banks aren’t meeting.
That work takes another step closer with the introduction of local legislation in San Francisco that would begin the process for establishing a public bank — following the pathway laid out by AB 857, the landmark public banking bill passed into law earlier this year in California. That legislation is expected to be introduced today.
It’s a cause that is deeply personal for Fielder, and not just because of her current living situation. Originally from Long Beach, California, she’s Lakota by heritage, and she still has grandparents and other family living in the areas affected by the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North and South Dakota. She co-founded the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition in 2017 as part of the national movement to divest public dollars from banks that were financing DAPL and other pipelines affecting Native lands and to reinvest in the communities where those dollars came from.
But, like others from Seattle to Oakland to Los Angeles and beyond, even after winning local resolutions to support divestment from “Wall Street” banks, the alternatives were either similarly invested in pipelines or too small to handle municipal banking services. With their eyes on DAPL, many organizers turned to the state-owned Bank of North Dakota — created in 1919 and until recently the only public bank operating in the U.S. — as a model for their own potential public banks (minus the financing of local law enforcement to clear out DAPL protesters).
“None of us knew anything about banking to begin with, but we haven’t let Wall Street gaslight us into thinking that this is impossible,” Fielder says. “North Dakota showed a hundred years ago that it was possible, and they did it without fintech, they did it as grain farmers in arguably a very difficult era.”
The local San Francisco legislation’s prime sponsor is Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, who was the first supervisor to approach Fielder after she and a group of others spoke out in support of a public bank at a Board of Supervisors meeting on February 28, 2017.
“I just threw up a Facebook event that got a lot of traction,” Fielder says. “We just showed up as strangers from the internet, it wasn’t even on the agenda, we just waited for the public comment period at the end of a six or seven hour meeting and said we wanted our city’s money out of these banks because they don’t align with our priorities and our vision for what we want our taxpayer dollars doing.”
The idea of a public bank had been floated in San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors before, in the wake of the Great Recession, by then-Supervisor John Avalos. Now a union organizer, Avalos would eventually join Fielder and others to help launch the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition.
Public banking soon became personal for Supervisor Fewer, too. She began to draw inspiration for a potential public bank from the family associations that Chinese immigrant populations have used for generations in San Francisco to pool savings and make loans to finance each other’s businesses — often at rates some might consider usurious but with no other alternative, and at least the interest paid would stay within the community. A fourth generation Chinese-American, Fewer talks about how her great grandfather got a loan from a family association to open the first Chinese produce business in San Francisco’s Chinatown, in the early 1900s.
To Fewer, a public bank would be a modern-day incarnation of a community taking control over its own resources and investing in each other in a broader way, across multiple ethnic, racial and geographic lines.
“We have seen that if you have communities that can have their own financial infrastructure and loan within their communities, they have acted as informal banks,” says Fewer, who currently chairs the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee. “In a municipality with a $12 billion budget, this is a bigger economy than some small countries. Really it’s kind of crazy that we don’t have more control over our money.”
On any given day, San Francisco city government typically has about $100 million in deposits across 200 or so accounts at Bank of America and U.S. Bank. A local bank, such as the proposed public bank, with $100 million in deposits would typically leverage that into $70 million in loans. Large banks typically leverage deposits at lower ratios, around $50 million in loans for every $100 million in deposits.
That said, advocates see a public bank as just one piece of a larger puzzle to solve the many crises that San Franciscans face, from housing and homelessness to climate change to declining local business ownership to student debt.
On the housing front, Fewer has also introduced and passed legislation like the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act, and supported both of the ballot propositions passed this month — one to authorize a $600 million bond issuance to finance affordable housing preservation and development, and another to reduce zoning barriers for affordable housing across the entire city.
Fewer sees external organizers are crucial to moving all of the needed pieces forward, including a potential public bank.
“I know as a legislator I have to create legislation, but I can’t do it alone, it takes a whole group of people who are saying we can do better with our money,” Fewer says.
People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights, or PODER, has become a key organizational member of the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition, offering its office space in San Francisco’s Excelsior District for coalition members to meet on a regular basis over the past year, often with Supervisor Fewer.
PODER members also car-pooled and packed vans to make multiple trips to Sacramento earlier this year, joining allies from across the state in lobbying efforts to ultimately pass AB 857, the legislation outlining a process for cities and counties in California to obtain a public bank charter from the state.
“We have affordable housing in the pipeline but it’s held up because of lack of financing,” says Reina Tello, a community organizer with PODER. “We always have to wait until big corporate banks want to give us crumbs or they want to look good and give some charity. With a San Francisco public bank, we can begin to stabilize the community by building up that affordable housing.”
Starting in January, PODER anticipates continuing a series of town halls in each of San Francisco’s supervisorial districts. They’ve held one so far, in District 10, which includes San Francisco’s largest historically black neighborhoods of Bayview and Hunters Point. There’s still a lot of education advocates see as necessary to build broader support for a public bank.
Public banking opponents are justifiably concerned that a public bank will be open to political abuse and fraud, given it will technically be city-owned. Supporters have thought deeply about how to prevent that from happening, but haven’t had the time or resources yet to hold broader conversations to allay those concerns among constituents.
“It’s a valid concern, but I also don’t understand how we entrust hedge fund managers and executives at Wall Street banks to make any better decisions for our livelihoods than the bankers that we’ll be hiring,” Fielder says. “The bank itself is going to be a separate corporation owned by the city but not operated by the city. Supervisors won’t have direct say about who it loans to. There are still going to be bankers running the bank.”
There’s also more education needed on how public banks are expected to function. Modeling off the Bank of North Dakota, the enabling AB 857 legislation in California requires public banks to avoid competing with local financial institutions, requiring them instead to partner with local financial institutions, functioning as a network of bankers’ banks like the Federal Reserve or the Federal Home Loan Banks.
The startup cost of a public bank is another concern that warrants broader discussion. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed earlier legislation in 2017 that directed the San Francisco Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector to convene a Municipal Banking Feasibility Task Force to study public banking and advise the city on possible business models for a public bank. The task force final report included analysis of three different business models, one of which doesn’t even involve taking on city deposits. The report estimated it could take anywhere from 25 to almost 50 years for a deposit-taking municipal bank to reach a break-even point. The task force did not make a final recommendation on whether to move forward or not.
Fielder disagrees with some of the task force’s conclusions. “The task force report was, to put it nicely, inconclusive about public banking and over-estimated the cost,” she says.
Advocates are anticipating the city will eventually have to go back to voters in order to approve startup funding for a potential public bank.
“As there was a whole community movement to push through the legislation in Sacramento, we imagine the same will be needed locally here in San Francisco,” adds Charlie Carlo Sciammas, lead community organizer at PODER. “There’s this myth that a public bank is this really technical thing, but we really showed how to popularize it, because the conversations we have in the community, with our membership, about a public bank, we get straight to the point very quickly because folks get it.”
Meanwhile, in Fielder’s hometown of Long Beach, Mayor Robert Garcia has already expressed his intent to push that city to join San Francisco in the race to charter California’s first public bank. He’s already got at least one supporter behind him.
“My mom is super excited about public banking, and if my mom knows about public banking, that’s next level,” Fielder says.
Oscar is Next City’s senior economics correspondent. He previously served as Next City’s editor from 2018-2019, and was a Next City Equitable Cities Fellow from 2015-2016. Since 2011, Oscar has covered community development finance, community banking, impact investing, economic development, housing and more for media outlets such as Shelterforce, B Magazine, Impact Alpha, and Fast Company.
1. Friday, 11:00am – 12:30pm, Compassion Has No Walls Vigil and Press Conference (NEW)
ICE 630 Sansome St. SF
11:00am – Press Conference. For enforcement of the recently passed law, AB32, which prohibits new detention contracts with for-profit prison corporations in California. ICE is trying to circumvent this by rushing through contracts before January 1. We will call on Governor Newsom and Attorney General Becerra to step up in power to hold ICE accountable for this violation.
11:30 – Vigil
Join us this month as we stand with those directly impacted by unjust immigration systems and laws. Together we will inspire and be inspired, sing and pray, support and be supported, and honor all of humanity.
Our vigil is co-hosted by Or Shalom Jewish Community and Chochmat HaLev, who invite us to Free Them All: Kindle the Light for Freedom. In that spirit, we will be honoring the Hanukkah holiday with candles representing aspects of immigration blessings and challenges.
Host: Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity & Or Shalom Jewish Community
2. Friday, 12Noon – 2:00pm, Protest the San Francisco Police Officers Association (Every Friday)
San Francisco Police Officers Association 800 Bryant @ 6th Street (outside) SF
Mothers on the March Against Police Murders and Black and Brown for Justice, Peace and Equality
‘Declare the Police Officers Association a Non Grata Organization’
The Police Officers Association claims to be a union, in reality it is an organization that is based on racism, white supremacy and Nazi ideology. It protects police officers that come into our communities to terrorize and murder our black and brown brothers and sisters.
We demand that the San Francisco Police Officers Association be shut down!
All are welcomed to stand with us.
3. Friday, 6:00pm, “Youth” Chinese film of the Cultural Revolution, the Sino-Vietnam War, and the aftermath.
Veterans Building, Room 206 401 Van Ness Ave. (@ McAllister) SF
The Chinese movie, “Youth,” is about a Chinese Army dance troupe and what happens to its members. The film begins during the Cultural Revolution, then in the second part moves to the Sino – Vietnam war, a month long border war between China and Viet Nam that happened after the American war in Viet Nam. The final part of the film occurs in the 1990’s, when the veterans come home, the country has gone capitalist, and others are getting rich while the combat vets struggle with wounds both physical and psychological.
The movie is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by a Chinese army veteran of that war, and the producer of the film was also a Chinese army dance troupe veteran. In a sense, this might be vaguely compared to Oliver Stone’s movies about the American war in Viet Nam.
Veterans for Peace will show the movie and a couple of our American combat veterans will talk afterwards and compare their war and coming home experience to the Chinese veterans’ experience as portrayed in the film.
4. Friday, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, Eyewitness Iran, Uncovering Media Lies
PSL 2969 Mission St. SF
$3 – $10 donation – no one turned away
While the U.S. continues to aggressively target Iran through sanctions and threats of invasion, the country has managed to continue building economic and political ties to Europe, Asia and its neighbors. Join us for an eyewitness report from PSL members Mazda Majidi and Nazila Barshady, who recently traveled to Iran and experienced something completely different than what U.S. propaganda claims.
5. Friday, 8:00pm, Benefit Party for Moms4Housing – CANCELLED
Tamarack Oakland 1501 Harrison Oakland
Accessibility info: wheelchair accessible tables and bathroom available on the ground floor. The second floor is up a flight of stairs.
Please come out and support Moms4Housing, a group of formerly homeless Oakland mothers who have come together to occupy a house in West Oakland. To have any home empty while people live on the streets and in their cars in unacceptable!
We will have a raffle with great prizes from a local tattoo parlor, restaurant, coffee shop and many more to be determined!
**Please make sure to come resist eviction of the Moms4Housing on Tuesday, dec 17th starting 6am @ 2928 Magnolia St.
6. Saturday, 10:30am – 12Noon, A cry from Bethlehem to the International Community
Pacific School of Religion 1798 Scenic Ave. Berkeley
Guest speaker: Daniel Bannoura, Instructor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Religion at Bethlehem Bible College, who was educated at the University of Chicago and the London School of Theology and writes and lectures on Christian theology, Islam, and the life of Christians in the Holy Land.
Panelists: Rev. Dr. Dale M. Weatherspoon, Pastor of Easter Hill United Methodist Church in Richmond, CA, former member of the General Board of Church and Society and the General Commission on Religion and Race, a community activist and a life-long pursuer of justice.
Rev. Dr John Anderson, Chaplain at St. John’s Presbyterian in San Francisco and Co-Moderator of the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church-U.S.A.
Rev. Dr. Allison Tanner, Minister of Christian Formation at Lakeshore Ave Baptist Church in Oakland, Co-Leader of Friends of Sabeel North America Clergy and Seminary Action Council, the convener of World without Walls and a GTU alumna.
Moderated by: Rev. Michael Yoshii, Pastor at Buena Vista United Methodist Church, co-founder of United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR) and Cal-Nevada UMC Israel-Palestine Task Force
Co-Sponsors: NorCal Sabeel, Bay Area World Without Walls Coalition, Friends of Wadi Foquin, American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace Bay Area, Middle East Children Alliance, Cal-Nevada UMC Advocacy & Justice Committee, Cal-Nevada UMC Israel-Palestine Task Force, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Cal-Nev UMC Filipino American Ministry (Caucus), University Lutheran Chapel and Lakeshore Ave Baptist Church.
7. Saturday, 1:00pm – 3:00pm, Join the December Disruptions: Trump/Pence OutNow!
Powell & Market St. SF
“There is no Santa Claus, and he will not remove Trump and Pence. It’s on us. Trump/Pence #OUTNOW!”
This is a month of flash protests, banner drops, rapidly responding to sharp political events, and other actions, including “moving protests” – on public transit or by car caravan – to disturb the air and get the word out on a massive scale.
The centerpiece of the month will be mass protests on December 14, injecting the demand “Trump/Pence #OUTNOW!” into the holidays to shake off the numbing mass-consumerism daze.
If we truly want to bring joy to children everywhere in this season, we must put an end to the regime that locks them in cages and imperils their future.
Hosts: Refuse Fascism Bay Area & Vigil for Democracy & Resistance SF
8. Saturday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, Solidarity Meeting With The People of Chile & Bolivia
ILWU Local 34 801 2nd St. (next to AT&T Stadium) SF
The Defense of The People and Workers Of Chile & Boliva Presentations, Music and Video
Speakers: Al Rojas, Co-founder UFWA and Sacramento LCLAA Clarence Thomas, retired ILWU Local 10 Secretary Treasurer Lisa Milos, CWA UPTE UCSF rank and file member Steve Zeltzer, CWA PMWG member and producer of KPFA WorkWeek Radio
The massive repression and attacks on the Chilean and Bolivian working people is a threat to all democratic rights.
There is very real evidence as well that the US government and it’s allies in the region supported these coups and the mass repression.
Behind these coups are the privatization of the economies of both countries and austerity that has destroyed the living standards of the populations to enrich the wealthy in these countries but also US multi-nationals which want total economic control.
The need for solidarity with the Chilean and Bolivian people is critical and this meeting will look at the history of US labor in supporting the people of Chile. Dockworkers in Chile have called for an international boycott and the International Dockworkers Council IDC has recently called for a full boycott of cargo.
On Dec 14 and 15, the Aswat Ensemble will present two free concerts in Oakland and Menlo Park, focusing on the themes of unity, resistance, diversity and solidarity.
The concerts are timely and essential, providing an opportunity to bring the various facets of our communities together through the uplifting power of the Music and the Arts,
The project has two main goals :
(1) to showcase the talents, cultural heritage and resilience of the numerous Bay Area communities targeted by racism, Islamophobia, anti-immigrants, xenophobia, sexism,
(2) to express mutual solidarity, to raise awareness of our united power.
In addition to the regular choir, Vukani Mawethu, three Mexican singers (Diana Gameros, Francisco Herrera and Lilian Herrera) and two youth singers from the community (Sophia Bouzid and Naya Salah). Performances will be sung in Arabic, English, Spanish and French.
Freedom Socialist Party 747 Polk St. (nr. Ellis St.) SF
Homecooked lunch served at 12:15 pm for $8-10 donation
Fed up with government lies and corruption, Haitians have been taking to the streets. They are calling on President Jovenel Moïse to resign. Hear the Haiti Action Committee report on the historical context for the Caribbean nation’s latest insurrection and discuss what’s needed to bring about a victory for working people.
12. Monday, 12Noon – 2:00pm, PG&E, we need #PowertoLive!
PG&E Corporate Headquarters 77 Beale St. SF
Accessible & Kid friendly
We shouldn’t have to choose between deadly blackouts or deadly fires. We shouldn’t be at the mercy of PG&E’s negligence while vulnerable communities who need #PowerToLive and the public continue to pay the price.
PG&E, we demand you: 1. GIVE BACK ALL SHAREHOLDER PROFITS UNTIL PG&E CAN SAFELY PROVIDE POWER. STOP PROFITING OFF PEOPLE’S LIVES.
2. INVEST IN VULNERABLE PEOPLE’S BASIC POWER NEEDS. STOP PUTTING PEOPLE AT RISK.
3. GOV. NEWSOM AND CPUC MUST TURN PG&E OVER TO THE PEOPLE. UTILITY JUSTICE IS CLIMATE JUSTICE.
On November 18th, a group of mothers without shelter reclaimed possession of a vacant investor-owned property in West Oakland. On December 3rd they received an eviction notice from Wedgewood Inc., one of the country’s biggest “fix & flip” companies that has profited significantly from the housing crisis.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s office has confirmed that they will be enforcing the eviction order on December 17th beginning as early as 6 a.m.
Moms 4 Housing is calling on all community supporters and members of the media to come to 2928 Magnolia St. on the 17th to defend #MomsHouse.
15. Tuesday, 6:00pm, SFPD’s Town Hall Meeting of Police Shooting of Jamaica Hampton
Cesar Chavez Elementary School 825 Shotwell St. (between 22nd & 23rd Streets) SF
This is open to the community.
The SFPD is required to host a community meeting after any and all officer involved shootings. The SFPD just announced that the meeting for the shooting of Jamaica Hampton early Saturday morning will be held Tuesday December 17th, at 6pm.
Note: This is SFPD’s version of what occurred! What Chief Scott reveals and what videos are shown will be posted on the SFPD website after the Town Hall. The Town Hall is not videoed by SFPD nor or the comments from the community.
Part of a series of dialogues we are hosting on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict in partnership with the Mothers on the March.
As a part of it’s dialogue series Manny’s will be hosting a monthly community conversation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The conflict in Israeli and Palestinian is one of those issues that can be, to many, a third rail. But how can we move forward as an active and engaged citizenry if we can’t talk about the issues that matter, learn to listen to people with differing opinions respectfully, or if we put up walls? To that end we are partnering with the Mothers on the March to create space for the community to come together to share their thoughts and ideas on this topic. All are welcome.
The purpose of these dialogues is to utilize physical space and in person gathering to bring people together to listen, learn, and share their thoughts and opinions on difficult topics. Each dialogue will be centered around a question. We have no pre-determined answers to these questions and are without an agenda. We will divide attendees into small groups of 3-4 to discuss the question then share what they’ve learned for the larger group.
This month’s question is: What is Israel and what is Palestine?
17. Thursday, 12 Noon, Salesforce Holiday Rally And Press Conference
Salesforce Tower Minna & 1st St. SF
Over the holidays, while Marc Benioff spends quality time with his family and friends, thousands of migrants will continue to languish in concentration camps and thousands more will be homeless in Mexican border cities waiting for their turn at asylum under Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program. Still other families will be mourning their loved ones, including children, who have died in concentration camps due to an intentional lack of proper medical care. Meanwhile, Salesforce continues to receive tens of millions of dollars in contracts from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), one of the two agencies responsible for these human rights abuses.
At the keynote speech of his annual Dreamforce convention, Marc Benioff gave disruptors from our group 30 seconds to state our case and promised us a meeting, but he has since ignored all requests to schedule a meeting. Until Marc Benioff meets with us, we can only assume he was playing to the crowd and managing his image
18. Thursday, 6:00pm – 7:30pm, The Vigil: Annual Homeless Persons Memorial
UN Plaza 50 United Nations Plaza SF
Join people of all faiths, or no faith, to remember those who have died this year while living on San Francisco streets. In silence, in prayer, in song we’ll remember them, honor them, mourn our loss, reach out to each other for comfort and hope, and show our solidarity in working for change.
Hosts: Interfaith Council, Coalition on Homelessness + 4 Other groups
In light of the recent election of District Attorney Chesa Boudin, the organizers for Mothers on the March and Do No Harm Coalition are calling for a gathering with the families of Alex Nieto, Jesus Adolfo Delgado, Oscar Grant, and others affected by police terror to organize strategically and make demands in the name of justice.
We welcome community organizers and healthcare workers who are fighting against police terror to come hear and amplify the demands made by the families who have lost their loved ones by police. Let’s dream together for a more just San Francisco!
6:00 PM – 6:15 PM Welcome + Food
6:15 PM – 6:30 PM Families affected by Police Violence
6:30 PM – 6:45 PM Do No Harm: Justice Study Presentation
6:45 PM – 7:00 PM Mothers on the March
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM Community Demands (Facilitated Visioning)
Hosts: Do No Harm Coalition & Black & Brown for Justice, Peace and Equality
20. Friday, 9:00am – 12Noon, Solidarity & Prayers for Brasil, Colombia & Chile
Brasilian Consulate 300 Montgomery St. SF
Indigenous people, especially women, and others are rising up for their rights, justice, equity, the environment and climate in Brasil, Colombia & Chile. They are demanding real solutions based on the needs of all people and the sacred system of life.
Join us in front of the Brasilian Consulate for prayer and teach-in, followed by silent walks in prayer to the Colombian and Chile Consulates.
Indigenous women are hosting this time of prayer & solidarity for our relatives in Brasil, Colombia and Chile. This action is an obligation of the Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty – www.IndigenousWomenRising.org We ask that all who join us come with open hearts and stand within the prayers that will be made that morning.
Hosts: Indigenous Women of the Americas, Brasil Solidarity Network and Idle No More SF Bay
California will for once play a significant role in choosing the Democratic nominee for president, since the state has moved up its primary to March 3. But there’s a lot else on that ballot too – including what will be a heated and high-stakes race for control of San Francisco’s Democratic Party.
Voters elect 24 members of the Democratic County Central Committee every four years, and the people who win seats will decide not only the party’s endorsement in the fall 2020 and fall 2022 supervisor races but in the 2023 race for mayor and district attorney.
So it’s a big deal – and both a progressive slate and what appears to be a slate backed by the mayor and the real-estate industry are going to be competing for those seats.
The deadline to file was 5pm Friday – and at that point, we got some surprises.
The progressive slate, known as the Social Justice Democrats, filed Dec. 2. It includes candidates from both Assembly districts who are supporting the current chair, David Campos.
But as the deadline approached, some candidates who hadn’t been in the running, and who have high name-recognition, pulled the necessary papers.
The DCCC vote is, unfortunately, often about name recognition. Since most voters don’t know all of the candidates (and they get to vote for 14 on the east side of town and 10 on the west), they tend to pick names they know.
That’s why an organization that was once a starting point for party activists is now dominated by elected officials, former elected officials, and incumbents.
We can lament that all we want, but since the endorsement of the party is often a key factor in local elections, both the progressive and the conservative Democrats work hard to get a majority.
Four years ago, the party chair was Mary Jung, a lobbyist for the real-estate industry. Then the progressives won a majority, and now Campos runs the party.
(I know, it’s crazy to use the term “conservative” to refer to any Democrats in San Francisco, and they like “moderate” better. I use the word because I think it’s more accurate; the split is not over social issues but over economic issues, most particularly whether developers, tech companies, and the rich should pay more taxes, whether emerging tech industries should be tightly regulated, and whether the private market can solve the city’s housing crisis. People who are against increased taxes and regulation and support private-sector market-based solutions to issues like housing and development are, by my definition, economic conservatives.)
It’s always an uphill battle for progressives: the DCCC has 33 seats, but nine of them by law go to state and federal elected officials from San Francisco who are Democrats. That means Sen. Dianne Feinstein gets a vote; so do Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Jackie Speier, state Sen. Scott Wiener, and Assemblymembers Phil Ting and David Chiu, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen.
And other than Pelosi and Ting, who on contentious local issues either vote with the progressives or abstain, the “ex-officio” votes on endorsements and the party chair tend to go to the more conservative candidates.
It takes 17 votes to win a majority, and the conservatives start with seven. That means they only need to win ten of the elected 24 seats to control the party.
“We are at a real disadvantage,” Campos told me.
At the filing deadline, we saw new candidates including:
Carole Migden, former state Senator; former Supervisor Vallie Brown; Sup. Ahsha Safai; Sheriff-elect Paul Miyamoto; appointed District Attorney Suzy Loftus; and former District Attorney candidate Nancy Tung. All of them have high name-recognition. All of them appear to be challenging the Social Justice slate.
At the same time, former Sup. John Avalos and Public Defender Mano Raju have filed, and will likely be part of the Social Justice slate.
I have heard plenty of criticism of the Social Justice slate, including from people who think it’s too heavy on elected officials and not grassroots activists – and from some who say that a few members have not in the past voted with progressives on key endorsements.
But given the stakes and the challenges, Campos argues that the progressives have to line up candidates who can win.
(Lee Hepner just noted on Facebook: “You can be an elected official and still be grassroots. By the same token, you can be an unelected official and nothing more than a mouthpiece for corporate special interests.”)
It’s pretty clear that the Social Justice slate members have pledged to re-elect Campos. The first challenge, if they win a majority, will be around the re-election of Sup. Dean Preston and the D11 race between Sup. Ahsha Safai and former Sup. John Avalos.
Although the progressives won a majority four years ago, several members of that slate voted for Vallie Brown for supervisor and denied Preston the Party endorsement.
It’s a situation the left is going to have to face, in this and other campaigns in the future: If you are a candidate who is elected with progressive support, if community activists go out of their way to help you raise money, to volunteer with your campaign, to walk precincts and help you get elected, do you have some fundamental responsibility not just to vote the progressive line on issues, but to use your position to help others who the progressives support get elected to office?
And how do the activists and voters hold these elected officials accountable?
Tim Redmond Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
“They obviously represent a shift in San Francisco’s future and show that San Francisco is ready for challenging the establishment and doesn’t want incrementalism,” Fielder tells SF Weekly. “The Democratic Party loves to say that they care about poor people and people of color, and they do on the surface until it comes to putting money where their mouth is.”
She gives Wiener credit as a smart policy wonk but is troubled by his, and much of the California Legislature’s, support from real estate interests. He authored Senate Bill 50, a controversial re-zoning bill that was shelved after uproar for its feared exacerbation of gentrification. In a message to supporters earlier this month, Wiener touted success in authoring 36 signed bills around LGBT rights, mass incarceration, climate change, health care and mental health.
Fielder is of Mexican and indigenous descent, enrolled in the affiliated Hidatsa and Two Kettle Lakota tribes. The 25-year-old grew up in Long Beach and graduated from Stanford University in 2016 with both a bachelors and a masters in public policy and sociology, respectively.
Despite her degrees, lecturing at San Francisco State University’s College of Ethnic Studies, and two server jobs, she’s living out of her van while crashing with friends.
“If you’re alive right now and you have shelter, you have food, you have leisure time, that is considered a luxury and that’s not how it’s supposed to be,” Fielder says. “A lot of us who are working full-time jobs and are feeling bleak about the future and are onto something and that is a feeling to trust that none of this is okay.”
That’s why Fielder is running on: a Green New Deal for California, statewide rent control, $20 minimum wage, single-payer healthcare, free college, and diverting funds for law enforcement to social services. She’s refusing donations from police unions, real estate developers, fossil fuel companies, billionaires and PG&E.
She’s joined on the March 3 primary ballot by pending challengers Quentin Kopp — a former judge, supervisor and state senator — and Green Party candidate Barry Hermanson. Comparatively, San Francisco’s Assemblymembers David Chiu and Phil Ting are running unopposed.
If she rings a bell to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or, locally, school board member Gabriela López, she understands that it may because they all are relative rarities when it comes to working-class people in power. But she resists a full comparison.
“I am definitely not the next [Ocasio-Cortez], I am me,” Fielder says. Also, she likes to surf in her free time. “That’s a normal thing about me.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo endorsed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for president Monday, in the first stamp of approval for the billionaire White House hopeful from a prominent California elected official.
Liccardo had previously backed home-state Sen. Kamala Harris, who dropped out of the presidential race last week.
Liccardo has cultivated a relationship with Bloomberg in the past. Last October, San Jose was chosen by Bloomberg Philanthropies to participate in a two-year program aimed at addressing climate change locally. As part of the program, Bloomberg provides technical support, funding for a team member and training for senior leadership to San Jose employees.
In October, the San Jose mayor had planned to participate in a climate summit in Denmark led by a group Bloomberg chairs, although he had to cut the trip short during the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power outages.
A spokesman for Liccardo said he wasn’t immediately available to discuss his endorsement.
Liccardo will serve as the California co-chair for Bloomberg’s campaign — helping direct his political efforts in a state that will be key to his fellow mayor’s unorthodox bid.
Bloomberg is planning to skip the early caucus and primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire and focus on Super Tuesday states like California, spending millions of dollars to blanket the airwaves up and down the state.
But plenty of previous ultra-wealthy candidates who ran for California’s top offices — such as former HP executive Meg Whitman, who Bloomberg endorsed and campaigned with in San Jose when she ran for governor in 2010 — have flamed out even after spending millions of their own fortunes.
Liccardo’s endorsement comes as the Democratic presidential contenders are vying for the backing of Harris’ former California supporters, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
Casey Tolan covers national politics and the Trump administration for the Bay Area News Group. Previously, he was a reporter for the news website Fusion, where he covered criminal justice, immigration, and politics. His reporting has also been published in CNN, Slate, the Village Voice, the Texas Observer, the Daily Beast and other news outlets. Casey grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated from Columbia University. Follow Casey Tolan @caseytolan
In Part 2 of our series on pivotal moments in the lives of the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, we spoke with Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and democratic socialist. Mr. Sanders reflected on his education in politics and how he galvanized grass-roots support to evolve from outraged outsider to mainstream candidate with little shift in his message.
Four key moments from our interview with the senator
His arrival in Vermont and early involvement with the Liberty Union
Although Mr. Sanders is best-known for his association with Vermont, the schoolhouse for his early career in politics, he spent his childhood in a rent-controlled apartment in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. “Sensitivity to class was embedded in me then quite deeply,” Mr. Sanders has said of this time.
The factors that took him from Brooklyn to Vermont reflect an insistence on revolution that has colored his career.
Born to Polish immigrants and raised in precarious financial circumstances, Mr. Sanders had early inclinations toward socialism that were cemented with the death of his mother. Caring for her during his college years exposed him intimately to gaps in the American health care system.
Mr. Sanders went in search of a place that could nurture his nascent political ideology, visiting a socialist kibbutz in Israel and ultimately landing with the peaceniks of rural Vermont.
“I was doing some writing. I was banging nails, doing a little bit of carpentry work,” Mr. Sanders said of this time. He freelanced for an alternative newspaper, The Vermont Freeman, writing articles like “The Revolution Is Life Versus Death” while making film strips about a socialist he admired: Eugene Debs. Mr. Debs was the “Socialist Party candidate for president six times,” Mr. Sanders noted. “You know, somebody I admired a whole lot.”
Mr. Sanders and Mr. Debs have something in common: resilience in the face of political failure. In Vermont, Mr. Sanders became involved with a fringe political party, the Liberty Union, that sought to champion industrial nationalization and opposition to the Vietnam War. Mr. Sanders ran as a Liberty Union candidate in four state elections, receiving less than 5 percent of the vote each time.
His promise to address wealth inequality and his condemnation of billionaires began to resonate with working-class people upstate. Soon, he had his eyes fixed on the 1981 race for mayor of Burlington, the state’s largest city.
Winning his first election — by 10 votes
“You would literally not believe if I told you how little we knew about politics,” Mr. Sanders said of his first race for mayor.
“I mean real politics,” he said. “It’s one thing to run for statewide office knowing you’re not going to win and get on a radio show and talk about issues, which I could do. But the nitty-gritty of politics, you know.”
Mr. Sanders’s strategy was to mobilize grass-roots support in the working-class districts of Burlington — specifically people in “low-income housing projects where people were getting a raw deal from the city,” he said.
In doing so, Mr. Sanders generated a higher turnout than most mayoral races commanded. After a recount, Mr. Sanders won by 10 votes, beating a 10-year incumbent and roiling establishment politicians in the city.
“Lessons of this moment is that winning politics is grass-roots politics.” Mr. Sanders said “that winning politics is developing coalitions of working people, of low-income people, of women, of environmentalists.”
A parallel city government
Mr. Sanders faced the limits of his political outrage during his first term as mayor, which became an education in coalition building. He was viewed by the Board of Aldermen, Burlington’s version of a city council, as “an accident that should never have happened,” he said.
“Bernie Sanders is a fluke,” he said. “That was the word they used.”
Mr. Sanders had to figure out how to accomplish his agenda despite opposition from Democrats and Republicans. After the board fired his secretary, Mr. Sanders got the message that his appointees would not be welcome in the city government. “It was a brutal year,” he said. “So what we had to do was literally form a parallel city government.”
He gathered volunteers to staff his informal team of unpaid appointees. They started “neighborhood planning associations,” allocating city funds to neighborhood councils to spend at their discretion. In doing so, they cultivated a widespread sense of antagonism toward the board.
By knocking doors in a freezing Burlington winter, Mr. Sanders nearly doubled voter turnout in the board election the coming year. Turnout “was just off the charts,” he said.
Unseating board members in working-class districts gave him the support his agenda needed, enabling his rise as a major political figure in the state.
Mr. Sanders began to connect his structural grievances with national politics to his constituency — working to convince local voters that the actions of far-off politicians in far-off places should matter to them.
In doing so, he managed to fix Burlington’s pot holes and plow the streets while also establishing relations with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. His rejection of American intervention in Latin America resulted in his controversial support for the Nicaraguan leftist leader Daniel Ortega.
Asked about this stance, Mr. Sanders said he believed at the time that the United States should not be involved with “overthrowing small governments.”
“We were aware that this was a very controversial moment,” he added. “We were also aware that the United States at that time was supporting many governments in Latin America who were much more brutal than Ortega was.”
Mr. Sanders says that his campaign against intervention was relevant to Burlington. “If we were spending a whole lot of money in Washington under Reagan — investing in military spending or we’re giving tax breaks to the rich — that impacted the city of Burlington,” he said.
Today, his insistence that the global affects the local still forms the bedrock of his presidential platform — one that is built on overhauling health care, tax policy and the national budget. He says that if Washington is “spending this money on the military or they’re busy invading another country or whatever they’re doing, we should be speaking up on those issues.”
“All of this,” he said, “has to do with empowering people to understand that in a democracy, they can determine the future.”INSIDE ‘THE DAILY’For an exclusive look at how the biggest stories on the podcast come together, subscribe to our newsletter. Read the latest edition here.
On today’s episode:
Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Bernie Sanders Set the Agenda. But Can He Win on It?
Senator Bernie Sanders is embarking on a second run for president. This time the field will be bigger, more diverse and filled with candidates who have adopted his progressive populist mantle.
An independent senator known for his Brooklyn accent. “Real change never, ever takes place from the top on down.” Populist message. “The level of wealth inequality in America is grotesque.” And anti-establishment appeal. “Establishment Democrats don’t generate excitement.” Bernie Sanders is jumping into the race for president, again. “Hi, I’m Bernie Sanders. I’m running for president.” In the 2016 primaries he pushed a democratic socialist message, and he found a big audience for it. He ultimately came up short. “I accept your nomination.” But many of his ideas have lived on. “In a modern moral and wealthy society, no American should be too poor to live.” In 2016, he was the only challenger to the Democratic establishment, but this time around he’ll be up against a crowded and diverse group of opponents. Some have adopted ideas he made popular in 2016. “How do you feel about Medicare for all?” “Medicare for all.” “Medicare for all.” So what are the issues he made pillars of the progressive agenda? A $15 minimum wage, tuition-free public college and Medicare for all. “… health care is a right, not a privilege.” But Sanders’s liberal credentials may have taken a hit over his perceived failure to address claims of sexism during his 2016 campaign. He has since apologized. “What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable.” So how has Sanders taken on President Trump? He’s been one of his most outspoken critics. “The most dangerous president in modern American history.” “Most people who observed him would agree he’s a pathological liar.” Trump has returned the insults. “Crazy Bernie.” “You know he’s always like complaining, complaining, he’s jumping around, the hair’s going crazy … lunatic.” So what are his chances? He’s near the top of the early polls. He’s got some big advantages over his opponents, including a small-donor fund-raising list, a 50-state organization and fervent supporters. He has major name recognition and knows how to electrify a crowd. “We are going to take on the drug companies and their greed and lower the cost of prescription drugs.” But he could be up against a base who are looking for a fresh face to take on Trump, even if it’s on a platform that Bernie built.00:002:202:20Bernie Sanders Set the Agenda. But Can He Win on It?Senator Bernie Sanders is embarking on a second run for president. This time the field will be bigger, more diverse and filled with candidates who have adopted his progressive populist mantle.CreditCredit…Sam Hodgson for The New York Times
Mr. Sanders has staked his presidential campaign, and much of his political legacy, on transforming health care in America. His mother’s illness and a trip he made to study the Canadian system help explain why.
“The Daily” is made by Theo Balcomb, Andy Mills, Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Annie Brown, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Larissa Anderson, Wendy Dorr, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Alexandra Leigh Young, Jonathan Wolfe, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, Adizah Eghan, Kelly Prime, Julia Longoria, Sindhu Gnanasambandan, Jazmín Aguilera, M.J. Davis Lin, Dan Powell, Austin Mitchell, Sayre Quevedo, Monika Evstatieva and Neena Pathak. Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Mikayla Bouchard, Stella Tan, Julia Simon and Lauren Jackson.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) (L) speaks during a press conference following a vote in the House on ending U.S. military involvement in the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on April 4, 2019. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Rep. Ro Khanna on Wednesday said that TheWashington Post‘s explosive investigation the “Afghanistan Papers” showed the need for a congressional hearing and that former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld should be among the current and former top officials called in for a reckoning before the American public.
Khanna (D-Calif.) made the comments at a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Hebegan addressing Secretary of Defense Mark Esper by summing up the Post‘s report from Monday.
“The bottom line is that top military officials and civilian officials have known that the Afghan war has been has been unwinnable and have been misleading the American public for 20 years,” Khanna said. “Your predecessor Secretary Rumsfeld was quoted there as saying, ‘I have no visibility into who the bad guys are.'”
“Are you embarrassed by Secretary Rumsfeld comment and the other people quoted, and do you believe they owe the American public an explanation and an apology?” Khanna asked Esper.
Esper said it was up to the committee on whether or not to call a hearing. “But I do know this much. The story spanned multiple administrations, multiple uniformed and civilian officials, and I think it’s good to look back.”
Yet, Esper said, “I think at this point where I’m looking is forward. And forward tells me… the path to success, the win, is a political agreement between the parties on the ground.”
“But don’t you think we have to have some accountability so we don’t make the same mistake again?” asked Khanna. “Would you support this committee holding hearings on the Afghan Papers and calling in front of Congress every official who has misled the American public about whether this war was winnable in all or not? With 2,400 American soldiers dead, 775,000 Americans deployed, dont you think people owe this country an explanation?”
Khanna then said to committee chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), “I would request that this committee hold hearing on the Afghan Papers and call before Congress with subpoena every person who has misled this country.”
“And just like in the Pentagon Papers,” Khanna continued, “I think that should be one of our highest priorities… examining what has come out in that bombshell report.”
Smith responded by saying he believes “it’s appropriate to have hearing,” but said that calling “every single witness… would not be a productive of this committee’s time.”
Khanna shared a portion of the exchange on Twitter, adding, “Let’s bring Rumsfeld in.”
The California Democrat’s remarks at the hearing echo comments he made earlier to The Hill.
“Subpoena all of the people who were mentioned and have them account and explain to the American people in some cases why they lied and in other cases why they were utterly incompetent,” Khanna told the outlet Wednesday.
The Post investigation had already motivated Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, to call for a public hearing “to address these deeply concerning revelations about the Afghan war.”
In a letter sent Monday to Senate Armed Services Committee chair Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Gillibrand wrote, “it is deeply troubling to read a report of interviews with U.S. government officials that appear to contradict the many assurances we have heard at committee hearings that the continuing war in Afghanistan has a coherent strategy and an end in sight.”
Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.
Help Outreach Working Group lift the fog of corporate media. Donate to help us maintain this website and distribute literature on the street.
San Francisco Office Weekday Volunteers Hosted by Bernie Sanders for California Bernie 2020 San Francisco Office 2235 Mission St San Francisco, CA 94110 Help us at the San Francisco Office weekdays (Monday to Friday) from 12-2pm, or 2-4pm! Phonebank Volunteer Recruitment Calls Event Confirmation Calls Data Entry/Administrative Tasks Event Prep Various other tasks as needed Thank you so much for your support for Bernie! ADA accessible: Yes Show details
PG&E: We Need Power to Live! Posted by LaborSolidarityCommittee WHEN: December 16, 2019 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm WHERE: PG&E HQ 77 Beale St. San Francisco CONTACT: Event website PROTEST Join Diablo Rising Tide and many allies at PG&E corporate headquarters to #ReclaimOurPower and start a wave of action that continues through the winter. There will be speakers, programming, and more! Accessible and kid-friendly. The action will demand that PG&E: 1. GIVE BACK ALL SHAREHOLDER PROFITS UNTIL PG&E CAN SAFELY PROVIDE POWER. STOP PROFITING OFF PEOPLE’S LIVES. PG&E has paid out billions in shareholder dividends to predatory investors, while people are dying… Continue reading →
STOP DEPORTATION DEMONSTRATIONS at ICE immigration holding center (deportations) Mondays and Wednesdays 4 – 6 pm at 630 Sansome Street San Francisco, California Let’s build a permanent presence at I.C.E. to stop the deportations. Bring signs, Spread widely. Stop Deportations Block I.C.E. Melt I.C.E. with LOVE LOVE not HATE JOIN US NO BAN, NO WALL INSIST ON LOVE We are all immigrants Say it loud, say it clear, // immigrants are welcome here (two sides of a sign) Never Again *non-violence* Chants: No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here refugees are welcome here, No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all… Continue reading →
DEC16 Grand Opening of our new Shahid Buttar Campaign Office Public · Hosted by Shahid Buttar for Congress clock Monday at 6 PM – 9 PM Next Week · 45–55°F Partly Cloudy pin 1769 15th St, San Francisco, CA 94103-3333, United States Show Map Hosted by Shahid Buttar for Congress Message Host ticket Tickets actionnetwork.org Find Tickets Details Come celebrate the opening of our new campaign office just two blocks away from 16th St Mission BART station. We’ve taken over the headquarters that Chesa Boudin for San Francisco District Attorney had when his team won their historic campaign, so we’re hoping to keep… Continue reading →
Oakland Youth Climate Strike + Resilient Village Posted by LaborSolidarityCommittee WHEN: December 17, 2019 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm WHERE: Oscar Grant Plaza 14th & Broadway Oakland CA CONTACT: Event website EVENT Oakland youth call for a gathering at Oscar Grant plaza to create a community “Resilient Village”. This action is youth led and cohosted by YVA, Mycelium Youth Network, Planting Justice and others.
San Francisco Office Weekday Volunteers Hosted by Bernie Sanders for California Bernie 2020 San Francisco Office 2235 Mission St San Francisco, CA 94110 Help us at the San Francisco Office weekdays (Monday to Friday) from 12-2pm, or 2-4pm! Phonebank Volunteer Recruitment Calls Event Confirmation Calls Data Entry/Administrative Tasks Event Prep Various other tasks as needed Thank you so much for your support for Bernie! ADA accessible: Yes Show details
Phonebank at SF Campaign Office! San Francisco Campaign Office 2235 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94110 Weekly Tuesday-Friday! Come together at our San Francisco Campaign Office with your friends, family, and neighbors to call voters and ask them to join our historic campaign to defeat Trump and transform America! Please bring a laptop or tablet, your phone, and headphones to phonebank. ADA accessible: Yes Show details