Op-Ed: Does the 14th Amendment supersede the 12th?

By Mike Zonta, co-editor, OccupySF.net

December 2, 2022

I’m not a lawyer.  But, if we have equal protection under the U.S. Constitution, isn’t it reasonable to object to the Electoral College as unconstitutional on the basis that my vote in California is worth about 1/4 of the value of somebody who’s voting in Wyoming? 

You can check my math:  

Wyoming population 578,803 (2021) has 3 electoral votes = 192,934 per electoral vote

California population 39,240,000 (2021) has 55 electoral votes = 713,455 per electoral vote

So it takes almost 4 California voters to equal 1 Wyoming voter.

The Equal Protection Clause was part of the 14th Amendment passed in 1866, which I would think supersedes the 12th Amendment which established the Electoral College in 1804.

FROM THE AMAZON TO AUSTRALIA, WHY IS YOUR MONEY FUNDING EARTH’S DESTRUCTION?

George Monbiot

George Monbiot

Fossil fuels, fisheries and farming: the world’s most destructive industries are protected – and subsidised – by governments

Illegal fires in the Amazon rainforest reserve in Pará state, Brazil, 2020
Illegal fires in the Amazon rainforest reserve in Pará state, Brazil, 2020. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Wed 30 Nov 2022 01.00 EST (TheGuardian.com)

In every conflict over the living world, something is being protected. And most of the time, it’s the wrong thing.

The world’s most destructive industries are fiercely protected by governments. The three sectors that appear to be most responsible for the collapse of ecosystems and erasure of wildlife are fossil fuels, fisheries and farming. In 2021, governments directly subsidised oil and gas production to the tune of $64bn (£53bn), and spent a further $531bn (£443bn) on keeping fossil fuel prices low. The latest figures for fisheries, from 2018, suggest that global subsidies for the sector amount to $35bn a year, over 80% of which go to large-scale industrial fishing. Most are paid to “enhance capacity”: in other words to help the industry, as marine ecosystems collapse, catch more fish.

Every year, governments spend $500bn on farm subsidies, the great majority of which pay no regard to environmental protection. Even the payments that claim to do so often inflict more harm than good. For example, many of the European Union’s pillar two “green” subsidies sustain livestock farming on land that would be better used for ecological restoration. Over half the European farm budget is spent on propping up animal farming, which is arguably the world’s most ecologically destructive industry.

Pasture-fed meat production destroys five times as much forest as palm oil does. It now threatens some of the richest habitats on Earth, among which are forests in Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and Myanmar. Meat production could swallow 3m square kilometres of the world’s most biodiverse places in 35 years. That’s almost the size of India. In Australia, 94% of the deforestation in the catchment area of the Great Barrier Reef – a major cause of coral loss – is associated with beef production. Yet most of these catastrophes are delivered with the help of public money.

The Great Barrier Reef near the Whitsunday region, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef near the Whitsunday region, Australia. Photograph: Jumbo Aerial Photography/AP

The more destructive the business, the more likely it is to enjoy political protection. A study published this month claims that chicken factories being built in Herefordshire and Shropshire are likely to destroy far more jobs than they create, wrecking tourism through the river pollution, air pollution, smell and scenic blight they cause. But none of the planning applications for these factories has been obliged to provide an economic impact analysis. Planning officers, the paper found, are highly dismissive of the hospitality industry, treating it as “non-serious and trivial”. By comparison, the paper found, “attitudes to farming were very different; described as serious, ‘proper’ (male) work”. The “tough”, “masculine” industries driving Earth systems towards collapse are pampered and protected by governments, while less destructive sectors must fend for themselves.

While there is no shortage of public money for the destruction of life on Earth, budgets for its protection always fall short. According to the UN, $536bn a year will be needed to protect the living world – far less than the amount being paid to destroy it – yet almost all this funding is missing. Some has been promised, scarcely any has materialised. So much for public money for public goods.

The political protection of destructive industries is woven into the fabric of politics, not least because of the pollution paradox (“the more damaging the commercial enterprise, the more money it must spend on politics to ensure it’s not regulated out of existence. As a result, politics comes to be dominated by the most damaging commercial enterprises.”) Earth systems, by contrast, are treated as an afterthought, an ornament: nice to have, but dispensable when their protection conflicts with the necessity of extraction. In reality, the irreducible essential is a habitable planet.

In 2010, at a biodiversity summit in Nagoya, Japan, governments set themselves 20 goals, to be met by 2020. None has been achieved. As they prepare for the biodiversity Cop15 summit in Montreal next week, governments are investing not in the defence of the living world but in greenwash.

The headline objective is to protect 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030. But what governments mean by protection often bears little resemblance to what ecologists mean.

Take the UK, for example. On paper, it has one of the highest proportions of protected land in the rich world, at 28%. It could easily raise this proportion to 30% and claim to have fulfilled its obligations. But it is also one of the most nature-depleted countries on Earth. How can this be? Because most of our “protected” areas are nothing of the kind.

One analysis suggests that only 5% of our land meets the international definition of a protected area. Even these scraps are at risk, as scarcely anyone is left to enforce the law: the regulators have been stripped to the bone and beyond. At sea, most of our marine protected areas are nothing but lines on the map: trawlers still rip them apart.

All this is likely to become much worse. If the retained EU law bill goes ahead, the entire basis of legal protection in the UK could be torn down. Even by the standards of this government, the mindless vandalism involved is gobsmacking. To prove that Brexit means Brexit, 570 environmental laws must be deleted or replaced by the end of next year. There will be no public consultation, no scope for presenting evidence and, in all likelihood, no opportunity for parliamentary debate. It is logistically impossible to replace so much legislation in such a short period, so the most likely outcome is deletion. If so, it’s game over for rivers, soil, air quality, groundwater, wildlife and habitats in the UK, and game on for cheats and con artists. The whole country will, in effect, become a freeport.

Never underestimate the destructive instincts of the Conservative party, prepared to ruin everything for the sake of an idea. Never underestimate its appetite for chaos and dysfunction.

The protected industries driving us towards destruction will take everything if they are not checked. We face a brutal contest for control over land and sea: between those who seek to convert our life support systems into profit, and those who seek to defend, restore and, where possible, return them to the indigenous people dispossessed by capitalism’s fire front. These are never just technical or scientific issues. They cannot be resolved by management alone. They are deeply political. We can protect the living world or we can protect the companies destroying it. We cannot do both.

  • George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

PHILLY’S REFORM PROSECUTOR REACTS TO HIS IMPEACHMENT

District Attorney Larry Krasner, Philadelphia, PA, on November 8, 2022.

District Attorney Larry Krasner in Philadelphia on Nov. 8, 2022. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via AP

Pennsylvania lawmakers accused Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner of causing a crime “crisis.”

Deconstructed

Deconstructed

November 29 2022, 3:00 a.m. (TheIntercept.com)

EARLIER THIS MONTH, the Pennsylvania state House voted to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, citing the “catastrophic consequences” of his reform-minded approach to the office. The Intercept’s Akela Lacy spoke with Krasner about the impeachment, the state of crime and criminal justice in the city, and his record as district attorney.

[Deconstructed intro music]

Akela Lacy: Hi and welcome to Deconstructed. I’m your host today, Akela Lacy, politics reporter at The Intercept.

For much of the last year, with a midterm election looming, Republicans talked non stop about crime.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn: The American people know that there is rising crime across this country. And it is coming because you have DAs and prosecutors, you have judges that are weak on crime.

Jeanine Pirro: And unless we get rid of these progressive DAs then we’ve got no hope. Then you just better hope that if you get shot or stabbed that you don’t die because justice ain’t coming, the cavalry ain’t coming, and you’re never going to get any kind of retribution.

AL: There was an unprecedented crimewave, they said, and Democrats were to blame. Liberals were soft on crime and wanted to defund police, though of course police budgets continued to balloon. Republicans have had success pushing the crime narrative: They rolled back criminal justice reforms in even the most progressive states, like New York and California.

But at the polls last month, voters seemed not to care about those attacks. Fear mongering didn’t deliver the GOP its red wave. Instead, Democrats beat the narrative and, to the the surprise of many observers, held onto the Senate. They won close governors’ races in swing states like Arizona. And candidates who support a range of criminal justice reforms won races across the country.

In Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state, Republicans lost races up and down the ballot, unable to take the governor’s mansion and losing a U.S. Senate seat. Democrats even took control of the state House. But Republicans in the state house are still trying to make their message on crime stick: in the final weeks of the legislative session, Pennsylvania Republicans are trying to remove a reform-minded prosecutor in Philadelphia from office.

On November 16, the lame duck Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Martina White: I want to thank my colleagues for their vote today to impeach District Attorney Larry Krasner. Impeachment is a very serious matter and we look forward to bringing all of the evidence during trial in the senate and having District Attorney Larry Krasner answer for his misbehavior in office.

AL: Krasner, who was overwhelmingly reelected by voters last year, now faces a trial in the state’s senate. Krasner joins me now to discuss his recent impeachment, the impact of crime on elections earlier this month, and lessons for the Democratic Party.

I started off by asking District Attorney Krasner about what has changed between his reelection and now.

Larry Krasner: What has changed and what hasn’t is that progressive or reform prosecutors keep winning elections — not every single one, but a remarkable number. We continue to increase the number of U.S. residents who live in a jurisdiction where there is a progressive prosecutor. And the other side figured it out. So, therefore, since they cannot win elections, they need to win in between elections. The most notorious example, of course, is Chesa Boudin, and the recall, which resulted in a very, very low turnout, billionaire-funded loss for Chesa.

But what they’re not talking about is the reality that Pamela Price is now the to-be progressive district attorney right across the water in Oakland, the DA for Alameda County. And that’s a position she was unable to win four years ago. I know this because I tried to help with both of those races. And she had a nice win, despite the fact that we are all facing the headwinds of high levels of crime and a certain amount of irrational thinking about high levels of crime, in particular, gun violence and homicide by gun.

AL: Mhmm.

LK: So I guess it’s all changed. And I guess it all hasn’t. There are people in this country, there are MAGA people who do not believe in democracy; they consider it an obstacle to their hanging on to power.

This is, in fact, an effort at minority rule. Part of it is taking over by the Supreme Court, by every illegitimate means to make sure that its viewpoints don’t resemble the rest of the United States. And another part of it is understanding the almost unique significance of progressive prosecutors in terms of MAGA’s efforts to take power away from people.

AL: It’s funny, you mentioned the Price race. I hadn’t seen that. And there were actually a number of other similar wins on election day, even as we’re seeing gun violence growing across the country. We had another mass shooting in Colorado over the weekend. And obviously, this has been a growing statewide issue in Pennsylvania, too.

And in Philadelphia, gun crimes and armed robberies have spiked. And there’s been so much theorizing about why this is happening. I mean, this has been what’s been taking a lot of air in the state legislature for the past couple of weeks leading up to your impeachment last week. And even in other places, the theories point to and place blame on prosecutors like you. So what do you see as the cause of this violence?

LK: The cause of the spike in gun violence? I think there’s actually pretty general agreement.

As I speak to you, we have been through two years of sharp increases in homicides in Philadelphia, and across the country. But we are, right now, 31 fewer homicides than last year on the same day last year. We’re looking at a 6 percent decline — almost all of it coming in the last few months. It is actually a remarkably steep decline in the last several weeks.

Now, I don’t say that because it is a certainty that it will continue. But it is pretty obvious that this is coinciding with a period of time when the public schools have been open for classes. It’s pretty obvious that we’re getting a little farther away from these enormous gun buys that occurred through gun shops over the last two years. I mean, these insane levels of gun purchases — it was something like 21 million guns — you can almost mark the sharp increase in homicides nationwide with the exact same unique sharp increase in gun sales, which were a direct consequence of the pandemic and, according to some, a consequence of unrest just after the killing of George Floyd.

So we’re seeing these connections. But, to come back to the other point, we’re also seeing Mary Moriarity elected as the new reform prosecutor in Hennepin County which is Minneapolis; Pamela Price we talked about; Kim Graham in Des Moines, Iowa, Polk County, Iowa. We’re seeing real elections in really big jurisdictions: Joe Gonzales, San Antonio; John Creuzot, Dallas; Wesley Bell, elected again in St. Louis County where Ferguson was; Leesa Manion, elected in King County, that’s Seattle where there was a progressive prosecutor for many years, but he retired and is now being replaced by a new progressive prosecutor. It’s not to say we are winning every single one. But oh, my goodness, are we winning! And that is not the public perception.

I will say this, I think that one thing that my party — and I’m a Democrat —

AL: Mmm.

LK: — that my party needs to look at very closely and very carefully, is, yes, they were able to get John Fetterman — who was the national candidate from Pennsylvania, a candidate of national dimension anyway — who was associated with criminal justice reform, they were able to get him to win a Senate race against the wild and wonderful Dr. Oz — what a jerk — they were able to get him to do that. But if you actually look at the voter turnout in Philly, it was not very good, and particularly not very good with Black and Latino voters. And I have to say that it seems to me there’s a pretty clear lesson that when the Democratic party goes Republican-lite, they’re losing far more reluctant votes than they’re gaining with their centrist votes. This is a recipe for disaster.

AL: Mmm.

LK: What is going on? I mean, how is that possible when you have a governor and a senator on the ballot? And I think it is partly possible because rather than the Democratic Party answering directly this Willie Horton-style attack on big cities that are diverse and attack on big city prosecutors who are reform prosecutors, rather than the Democratic Party attacking it head on, they did that dumb thing that, sadly, they sometimes do, which is go Republican-lite, get off in the corner, try not to talk about it.

We should talk about it. We should say the red states have a 40 percent higher murder rate than the blue states. We should say, Republicans, especially MAGA Republicans, are terrible at crime — because they are terrible at crime! They encourage everybody to have a gun. They invest all this money in mass incarceration and mass supervision. And then they don’t fund their public schools, and economic opportunity, and treatment, and everything else that works. It’s there. It’s real. When you look at all 50 states, and you have this insane difference of 40 percent higher rates of murder in the red states, as opposed to the blue states, what more do you need?

AL: I want to come back to the Fetterman race. And, actually, I haven’t seen that on the turnout in Philly. I’m interested to look more into that. So I’ll come back to that.

I asked you about the causes of gun violence, but I wanted to ask you what you see as plausible solutions. And you’ve talked about gun sales. But, I mean, in Pennsylvania, particularly, this has been an intractable issue, you know, for a long time; the issue of gun control. So that, obviously, is something that most Democrats can agree on. But what are some other plausible solutions to reducing and preventing violence in your vision? And what are the challenges to redirecting resources to violence prevention?

LK: I think your point is an excellent one because we can rail about reasonable gun regulations all day long, we can talk about the fact that Germany has one-ninth the level of homicide and one-ninth the level of incarceration; that Japan will have only one fatal shooting this year and 12 shootings. Because these are places that have embraced gun control, gun regulation. We can talk all about that. But we live in a country that is drunk on having more guns than people, and you can’t reverse that easily.

So it is important to talk about what you can do right now. I think that there are modern enforcement things we can do right now. And there are modern preventative things that we can do right now. And it doesn’t necessarily require agreement from Sen. Mitch McConnell or McCarthy or even worse, because it can be done locally or in states where there’s at least hope that you can do this.

So, for example, let’s look at the enforcement side first: One thing that we can do — and absolutely should do — is there should be a massive improvement in forensics. There are so few shooting cases, fatal or non-fatal that are solved in the United States. And this is a 40-plus-year trend that Jeff Asher and others have talked about that we need to look at how we can solve more of these crimes. They can be solved with DNA that can do things it couldn’t even do two years ago; they can be solved with phone technology in ways that we never could have solved them years and years ago. But there’s been no investment in that! What has been happening with the fund of the police movement, which is what’s actually going on, is that the money is going mostly for overtime, and it’s going for enhanced pay, it’s going for compensation; the effort is going to reduce accountability on the part of police officers.

And look what’s happening in Philly, for example: We used to have 2 to 4 percent of the police who were listed as injured on duty and therefore unavailable to testify, unavailable to be on the street; we now have 13 percent. Because there’s just no accountability when it comes to some of these types of compensation and benefits that various FOP leadership has invented across the country.

AL: Mhmm.

LK: What’s happening right now in Pennsylvania, and it’s been a four-year struggle on my part, with the help of some people, but boy, did it take a while to get some help, is that we are looking at the real possibility of a $50 million state-of-the-art crime lab in Philadelphia, where there has been no real investment in forensics and the capacity to solve crimes will go up enormously when you are only solving — and this is recent data, from a full year — you’re only solving 17 percent of non-fatal shootings; you’re only solving 28 percent of fatal shootings. Then let’s get real: What kind of deterrence is that? To what extent do people believe they will actually be caught when 72 out of 100 killers by gun get away with it, and 83 out of 100 shooters get away with it? I mean, it’s crazy. And it’s something that is remediable. So much of this can get solved.

In terms of other aspects of enforcement, I’ll just give you an important example from Philly. We lose a ton of cases on motions to suppress because there’s been an illegal search of a car. Why?

AL: Mmm.

LK: Because even though you can rent a car from Avis or Hertz, and you can go through that entire process electronically — you can get in and out of an airport in minutes, dropping off a car or getting a car — you cannot go through the process of getting a warrant to search a car — in Philadelphia, a warrant is almost always required — unless you’re willing to do things like get in a police car, drive to a police station, get out a typewriter or a word processor, fill this out, then get back into your car, then drive downtown, then wait for a bail commissioner or a judge to be available, then get them to sign it, then go back to the street. I mean, it’s a ridiculous process that could take 4 to 12 hours, when it’s something that could probably be expedited down to less than an hour. What happens? What happens is a lot of police don’t do it. They will go into the car without a warrant. They’re under pressure to get that gun, they’re under pressure to search that car, they feel like they can’t hold it very long, and we’re all holding the bag, six months or a year later when the judge reluctantly says: Well, you needed a warrant, you didn’t have a warrant, we’re suppressing it. We see a lot of that.

AL: Mhmm.

LK: I mean, it is arguable that a very, very high percent of the searches that are done in Philadelphia of cars are illegal. And it’s completely unnecessary. For 20 years, they’ve been doing electronic warrants in Philly, for people, but they have not been doing warrants to search places.

On the prevention side, I mean, we all know what needs to be done.

AL: Yeah.

LK: As I speak to you, I’ve been listening to the wisdom of Mike Pompeo, who has explained to us that we don’t really need to worry about Vladimir Putin or his nuclear resources, what we need to worry about is Randi Weingarten who is the head of the National Teachers Union, the AFT, because she is the greatest threat to democracy we have. Are these people psycho? What is wrong with them? How about this idea: We invest in public education. How about that? How about kids in Philly, instead of having half the investment that they have in the suburbs right outside the city — and I am a product of public schools in the suburbs, I was the lucky beneficiary of their spending more money out there because of how poorly we organize these things in the United States, how about you put that money in schools? How about we walk away from the pandemic with the clear lesson that what has to happen here is a doubling and tripling down on accountable investment in prevention? Organized activities of all types, organized sports, art activities, [and] job programs like the one I was in when I was a kid, because my parents, sadly, were a little bit broke. How about that? How about we put this money over there, instead of putting it into 1968? We all know that 1968 didn’t work. So let’s just not do 1968.

AL: So you talked about how Democrats are responding to the Republican and conservative mainstream messaging against prosecutors like yourself. They made this clearly part of their playbook in races this year. The Republican Study Committee named you and several other prosecutors in their 2022 memo, including George Gascón in Los Angeles, and Kim Gardner in St. Louis, and described you as “rogue prosecutors who intentionally failed to prosecute criminals based on their absurd belief that criminal justice is racist.” The Virginia Republican attorney general urged his colleagues to “highlight every single far-left, special interest prosecutor in their state and make them famous.”

In San Francisco, you mentioned the Chesa Boudin recall earlier this year, we saw similar recall attempts against Gascón in Los Angeles and then with your impeachment earlier this month. How are Democrats overall — nationally, in Pennsylvania, and in Philadelphia — doing in responding to this tactic? What are they doing wrong? And how can they do better? And I know you talked a little bit about this with respect to the Senate race. But I wonder if you could just elaborate on that.

LK: Well, we can do better. As I said, I’m a lifelong Democrat myself. We can do better. It relates to a very fundamental issue with the Democratic Party for a long time, which is that when Republicans come for you, with what is essentially coded racist messaging with fear-based politics, all built around crime, when they just keep replaying 1968 and Willie Horton, and everything since, you come back directly, you respond directly, the fact is that their policies around criminal justice have been a disaster, and they remain a disaster. And reform policies are not only the right thing to do, but they’re actually very, very attractive to the votes that Democrats need.

We should be leaning into that. We should be running toward that. And if we do that, then what we’re going to see is that young voters, and Black voters, and Brown voters, and broke voters, and people of goodwill of all types who understand what a fiasco mass incarceration and the defunding of everything that is prevention have caused, those people are gonna vote, and they’re gonna vote — I mean, I’ll just make up a number. But it’s not a phony number! You might have five-to-one. You might have a five-to-one response, if you actually go in the direction that touches so many people.

AL: So there was so much attention paid to how crime could potentially impact particularly Fetterman and Josh Shapiro’s races for Josh Shapiro for governor. I know you’re talking about the impact of criminal justice reform and how that could or could not have, I guess how that could have potentially dampened turnout in that race. But, on the flip side, how did the issue of crime impact those races?

LK: Well, there’s no question that what the Republicans tried, the MAGA Republicans in particular, was a failed strategy. It should be everyone’s concern that there is public safety. It is my main concern that we have public safety. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the big mistake that is being made, I think, to some extent by both parties, is this: If you ask people if they are worried about public safety, they say yes. And they should say yes. But that doesn’t mean we reflexively go back to things that did not work. Ask the next question!

When I was running in ’17, we did ask the next question. And the question was, here’s a multiple-choice-question, we’ll give you several options: Where would you spend money to fix the murder problem? Or where would you spend money to fix the violent crime problem?

And the answer that we got in Philly was really illuminating. It was only about 15 percent — that’s 1-5 percent — said on policing; 85 percent said something else; and more than 50 percent said to spend the money on community-based organizations that are not connected to law enforcement. Now, that is not a backward-looking, U-turn approach. That is a very creative approach that is looking to build up prevention, support nonprofits, and do things that are partnerships inside and outside of government to invest tens of millions of dollars into community-based organizations that work towards prevention, to build up our public schools. This is where people want to go, at least in Philly at an 85 percent level. And I think, honestly, if we were to look coast to coast, it’s probably more than a 50 percent level of people who want to go there.

But if all you ever do is ask the question: Are you worried about public safety? And then reflexively assume that the most incarcerated country in the world needs to be more incarcerated, then you’re missing the point. And it’s one thing for Republicans to miss the point. They have been in love with racist messaging, they have been in love with fear-based politics for as long as I can remember, and I’m 61 years of age. But it’s another thing for Democrats to go in a Republican-lite direction when that is not where their voters want them to go at all.

AL: Just a follow-up to that. So before the election, Fetterman was asked about what was going on with you in Philadelphia. And he said he agreed with you on some issues, but not others. And then said we — the general we — need to develop a better relationship with the police. Shapiro hasn’t commented, even when he was asked after the election. Why do you think that is?

LK: So if I recall correctly, Fetterman said he agreed with me about 85 percent of the time. That’s pretty good. I’ll take that.

And as for Attorney General Shapiro — future Gov. Shapiro, for whom I voted, pressed the button — he seems to have been evolving in a direction that I consider to be very positive. Yes, there have been some differences in the past. But once again, we all have to move together. Change is hard. Not everybody is ready for change right away. And even in a superheated election cycle, when it is pretty clear that the Democratic Party was fearful on this issue, we didn’t see Fetterman turn on criminal justice reform, and even now we are seeing future Gov. Shapiro evolve in a positive direction.

As for the notion of getting along with police, we get along really well with a whole lot of police, and that includes Black police officers, the Black Officers Association, all of those members are also members of the Fraternal Order of Police in Philadelphia, and endorsed my candidacy in 2017 and then again in 2021. It wasn’t just the ideas in ’17; it was also the reality of what we had done. They are members of the FOP, too, even though they are not reflected in any way in leadership.

A similar pattern is with a lot of the younger officers in Philadelphia who are active and who understand the realities of opioids, and they’ve seen it devastate people in their families and friends of theirs they graduated high school with, that sort of thing. There is a very different attitude among a lot of the current police officers in Philadelphia than among its leadership. In fact, many of them are quite outraged that the leadership of the FOP in Philadelphia — which has always been all-white, all-Republican, [and] all-conservative — endorsed Donald Trump twice without even taking a vote of the membership. Well, they’re not happy about that.

And I’ll tell you something else. There are a lot of Black officers. And there are a lot of officers who are active and current, who support our efforts of police accountability because they know that what has happened in that culture is when there is no police accountability, the bullies become the supervisors. And they find that unacceptable. They find it something that’s holding back their careers when they’re trying to do policing in the right way.

So I must disagree that we’re not getting along with police officers, although I agree that I am not getting along with the MAGA, right-wing leadership of the FOP —

AL: [Laughs.]

LK: — which stands essentially for itself. It’s a very important fact to remember about these police unions as they are overwhelmingly run by their retired membership. Retired membership is voting in these elections! And so you know, someone like McNesby in Philly can get reelected time and time again, based only — and exclusively — on the votes of a prior generation. He doesn’t need one vote from a current Philadelphia police officer to be reelected. And that prior generation is going to be demographically and politically very different from the officers now.

So I must respectfully disagree with John Fetterman. I like him, but he’s wrong. We get along actually very, very well with all the modern and positive influences within the police department.

AL: Thank you. OK, so I want to go back to the arrest question.

So arrests in Philadelphia have not kept pace with shooting incidents over the last couple of years. And while your office has prosecuted most cases where arrests are made, the data portal from your office shows that the number of cases charged and the conviction rates have dropped. So what is happening there and why?

LK: So I’m gonna have to get nitpicky on this a little bit. There’s been a national phenomenon and a local phenomenon of significant reductions in arrests. It goes back many years, very much exacerbated by the pandemic, and for reasons I think we should all understand and accept: during the pandemic, choices have to be made. You could not have an active police force of between 6,000 and 6,500 people running around and making all kinds of arrests without there even being a vaccine available. And so decisions were made. Things like: Make no narcotics arrests for a limited period of time — by the commissioner. I’m not going to second-guess that.

The decline in arrests has a lot to do with the failure to solve cases. And I don’t say failure to point the finger of blame, but give some forensics to the police department. Let’s talk about solving crime! Give them some forensics. And then we can have solid cases and we can have solid arrests.

Our rate of charging is extremely high — arguably too high, to be honest — because we have to do so much more quickly than most jurisdictions. And so there are times when we don’t have all the information we would like, but it’s enough to charge. And then we find out later that there are problems with the case: there wasn’t a warrant for the car search that needed to occur, DNA was not taken in a way it should have been taken from an item that was susceptible to that kind of testing, those sorts of things. So the truth is, we can drive up our conviction rate if we can get all the information earlier and we can reject more cases so they don’t go down the road. That is one of the things that we face.

But a lot of what we face really is just a pandemic — and the way statistics are kept. So let me give you an example: Our current rate of conviction when we get a homicide case, or we get a non-fatal shooting case to a trial date is very high. It’s very high because the courts are fully open or almost fully open again. It’s very high because we are well prepared and we do a good job with these cases. But what’s going on is there’s a huge backlog, a bigger backlog than we’ve ever seen, the direct consequence of the pandemic and the courts being largely closed for certain kinds of cases. So statistically, what you see is you see cases that get thrown out of the preliminary hearing. For homicide cases, that’s very, very few. It’s only like 4 percent get thrown out at the preliminary hearing.

But there are other kinds of cases where the rate at which they’re thrown out is higher. A preliminary hearing happens early, and it counts as a loss, early, if it is not held over for trial. So those, let’s say, 5 percent of homicide cases that, for whatever reason, a witness who can never be obtained, or an officer who is listed as injured on duty and cannot come to court, or it’s just a lack of enough evidence in a case, when that’s thrown out, that’s a loss, and we count it right away. But when that case is successful, the 95 percent or so that are successful, and they’re listed for trial, they may not see trial for two years or three years. So you’re counting all the losses early, but you’re not counting the wins until they happen. And it’s taking longer than ever to count those wins. We could be in a situation as we are now where our rate of conviction for a homicide case could be somewhere close to 90 percent. Right? But if we’re only getting a few of those cases to trial because of the backlog, we’re only counting a few wins, and we’re counting them against these much quicker losses.

The best predictor of where we’re actually going to be as we work our way through this caseload over a year or two would indicate that our conviction rates are actually just as good as, if not better than, the notorious DA in Philadelphia Lynne Abraham, who had tactics to win cases that included lying, cheating, and stealing; that included putting innocent people in jail; that included coercing guilty pleas by pursuing the death penalty all the time.

AL: Mhmm.

LK: This is, after all, a woman who achieved the death penalty something like 109 times during her administrations — almost every three months, she achieved a death penalty. And they wielded that death penalty as a club to get people to plead guilty all the time — far, far more times than that right? I’m telling you that without lying, cheating, and stealing here, and without using the club of the death penalty to force people to plead guilty. We are looking at conviction rates when by the time we get to trial that are essentially the same. You know, there’s a difference between being the cheating Houston Astros and being the Phillies. When you’re the cheating Houston Astros, it’s easier to win. When you’re the Phillies and you’re not cheating, it’s harder to win. Well, I’d rather be the Phillies than the cheatin’ Houston Astros!

AL: [Laughs.]

LK: And Lynne Abraham was the cheatin’ Houston Astros! So it is not the case that we have some sort of a failure in what’s going on here. This is partially just the inevitable result of a once-in-a-century pandemic combined with the weird way that we keep statistics. And we are going to continue to do a great job with these cases. But obviously, it’ll get better if we have support in terms of a reduction in the number of crimes.

I mean, look, let me give some credit to the police department. What are they supposed to do when they have X detectives and the number of cases doubles? What are they supposed to do? Are they just supposed to say to their detectives: Thank you for working 24-hour shifts right after a killing? I need you to solve two cases in 24 hours, not one — I mean, that’s not workable. It’s not like the whole system can immediately double the number of qualified homicide detectives or the whole system can gear up with forensics we should have had 10 years ago. They can’t do that. So they face tremendous challenges. We’re trying to face those challenges with them.

And in the long run, despite these enormous national problems that we have, and everything that’s happening in Philly — everything that’s happening in Philly — is part of a national phenomenon. Philly actually is kind of average when it comes to the big-city increase in gun violence that we’ve seen. It’s kind of average, when we look at the long-term decline in arrests. We’re kind of average. We’re kind of part of something much bigger, and we can look at these issues nationally and solve them nationally.

AL: So most of what we’ve been talking about has been criticism from your right. But there are some critics on your left, who have said that contrary to the claims from the right that you’re not charging enough, these critics are saying that you’re actually requesting bail in cases that aren’t extreme, which would be like allegations of shooting or rape. And I know that this was part of a change in procedure during the pandemic, which we can get into some of the mechanisms there, but where your office was requesting $999,000 bail in certain cases.

This is from the Philadelphia bail fund, actually after our interview last year, but they wrote me a message and they said: Despite the DA’s frequent implication that his office is only requesting bail in the most extreme cases, such cases only made up 5 percent of those cases that requested that million-dollar bail — I think this was between March and May of 2020.

So I’m wondering if you can respond to that. I know we talked a little bit about this in my last interview, but this was more specific data, I guess.

LK: So what we have been doing in Philadelphia for some time is essentially trying to simulate a no-cash-bail system. And that, of course, means a system where you are either held and no matter how wealthy, if you present a true danger to the community, you’re not getting out until trial; or you are released, no matter how broke you are. And so we’re not going to impose small amounts of bail for the purpose of keeping you in, that will get a working-class or a wealthy person out. That’s what we have been trying to do. I’m not going to tell you that it’s done perfectly. But I’d like to see those statistics. Because the cases where we go in and we ask for what is essentially about $1 million bail — sometimes even more — those cases, to the best of my knowledge, are overwhelmingly homicide cases, they are shooting cases, they are gunpoint robbery cases.

These are really serious violent offenses. Also included in that category would be felons in possession of a weapon. You know, perhaps their argument is that it’s a nonviolent offense to be a felon who is in possession of a weapon. But it is not the case that we are going in for a retail theft, or jumping a turnstile, or for a car theft, that is not the case that we are going in and we are requesting high bails; in fact, we are going in and we are requesting no bail. This policy that we instituted in 2018, shortly after we came into office, of identifying about 20 offenses that were non-violent and not so serious where we would not be seeking any kind of bail ordinarily is a policy that we have been doing now for five years.

So I don’t agree with that. Although if they would like to send us a report that supports the notion that only 5 percent of these cases where we are seeking high bail are serious cases, we’re happy to look at it.

I will tell you there’s one sort of anomalous thing going on, which I believe is justified. But that anomalous thing is that due to quirks in the Philadelphia justice system, we cannot get an enforceable stay-away order in a domestic violence case at the time bail is set —

AL: Mm.

LK: But we can get it about five days later. So there are instances where we have a domestic violence situation and out of a concern for the possibility of something much worse and very immediate happening, if we have a defendant — usually men who are abusing women — get out and go home, usually out of that kind of a concern we may seek high bail immediately and then five days later, when we have an early bail review hearing, when there has been a short cooling-off period and we’re in a position to get a judge who has the power to impose a stay away order at that time, we often agree that there should not be cash bail, it should be much lower bail. But this has to do with very specific and very troubling dynamics of domestic violence, which are different from some of these other instances. Some people find that to be inconsistent; I don’t find it to be inconsistent at all. What I would love to see is a system in Philadelphia where they can impose a stay-away order immediately. And, in many of these cases, we might be able to proceed without seeking high bail there. But we have to work with the tools that are available and these are the tools that are available.

AL: So thank you for joining us District Attorney Krasner. We appreciate having you on.

LK: Delighted to be here.

AL: That was Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, and that’s our show.

Deconstructed is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept. Our producer is Zach Young. Laura Flynn is our supervising producer. The show was mixed by William Stanton. Our theme music was composed by Bart Warshaw. Roger Hodge is The Intercept’s editor in chief. Thank you to Intercept Senior News Editor, Ali Gharib, for additional editorial support on this episode.

And I’m Akela Lacy, politics reporter at The Intercept.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the show so you can hear it every week. And please go and leave us a rating or a review — it helps people find the show. If you want to give us additional feedback, email us at Podcasts@theintercept.com.

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Pentagon Fails Another Audit, Yet Congress Poised to Approve $847 Billion Budget

A pair of F-35B Lightning II aircraft are seen on board a U.S. warship in Manila, Philippines on September 27, 2022.

A pair of F-35B Lightning II aircraft are seen on board a U.S. warship in Manila, Philippines on September 27, 2022. (Photo: Jam Sta Rosa/AFP via Getty Images)

“This isn’t using our taxpayer dollars wisely,” said the National Priorities Project. “It’s robbing programs that we need, like the discontinued child tax credit that cut child poverty by half.”

KENNY STANCIL December 1, 2022 (CommonDreams.org)

Anti-war advocates blasted U.S. lawmakers on Thursday, one day after it was reported that Congress is expected to pass an $847 billion military budget for the coming fiscal year even though the Pentagon recently failed its fifth consecutive annual audit and nearly 40 million people nationwide are living in poverty.

Last month, “the Pentagon once again failed to pass a basic audit showing that it knows where its money goes,” the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies said in a statement. “And instead of holding out for any kind of accountability, Congress stands ready to give a big raise to an agency that failed to account for more than 60% of its assets.”

Citing four people familiar with negotiations, Politico reported Wednesday that “an emerging compromise on annual defense policy legislation” is set to add $45 billion to President Joe Biden’s already massive military spending request. The White House’s March request for an $813 billion military budget for fiscal year 2023 represented a $31 billion increase over the current, record-breaking sum of $782 billion.

According to Politico, “The deal would set the budget topline of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act at $847 billion for national defense, and would go as high as $858 billion when including programs that fall outside of the jurisdiction of the Senate and House Armed Services committees.” The Senate panel approved an equivalent military spending boost in June.

The National Priorities Project (NPP) called the bipartisan proposal to further increase military spending despite the Pentagon’s persistent accounting and human rights failures “a sign of an agency that is too big, plain and simple.”

“Other major government agencies have long since passed audits,” said NPP. “But the Pentagon, with its global sprawl of more than 750 military installations, and a budget increase that alone could more than double the diplomacy budget at the State Department, is so big and disjointed that no one knows where its money goes.”

According to NPP, one solution would be to make the Pentagon “a lot smaller.”

Earlier this year, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.)—co-chairs of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus—unveiled the People Over Pentagon Act of 2022, which proposes slashing Pentagon spending for the next fiscal year by $100 billion and reallocating those funds toward threats that “are not military in nature,” such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, and worsening inequality.

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Although a majority of U.S. voters are opposed to military spending in excess of $800 billion, earlier efforts to cut the Pentagon’s budget have failed to gain enough support to pass the House or Senate thanks in part to lawmakers who receive substantial amounts of campaign cash from the weapons industry, which benefits from relentlessly expanding expenditures.

NPP said Thursday that “after 20 years of war, and in a time when government spending is desperately needed elsewhere, the Pentagon’s fifth failed audit in as many years (and having never, ever passed) should be the last straw.”

“This isn’t using our taxpayer dollars wisely,” the nonprofit research institute continued. “It’s robbing programs that we need, like the discontinued child tax credit that cut child poverty by half. And it’s continuing the Pentagon’s legacy of war, all for the benefit of the contractors who commandeer roughly half of the Pentagon’s budget in any given year.”

Approximately 55% of all Pentagon spending went to private sector military contractors from FY 2002 to FY 2021, according to Stephen Semler of the Security Policy Reform Institute. “If this privatization of funds rate over the last 20 years holds,” Semler wrote last December, arms dealers will rake in an estimated $407 billion in public money in FY 2022.

NPP director Lindsay Koshgarian told Truthout on Wednesday that “the same legislators who refused to continue child tax credits that cut child poverty in half are now choosing to add tens of billions of dollars to an already-enormous Pentagon budget.”

“The bonus for the Pentagon is more than the entire annual climate investment under the Inflation Reduction Act,” Koshgarian added. “The only ones who will benefit are the corporations that sell weapons to the U.S. and around the world.”

Last year, NPP published a report showing that the U.S. has spent more than $21 trillion on militarization since September 11, 2001.

Citing that analysis, Jacobin‘s Luke Savage argued at the time that the nation’s military spending—now even higher than it was at the height of the Cold War—is not only wasteful but also inherently anti-democratic:

Military spending allocated for 2022 considerably exceeds the cost of five separate Green New Deal bills. For a miniscule fraction of what America spent on the two-decade-long “war on terror,” it could have fully decarbonized its electricity grid, eradicated student debt, offered free preschool, and funded the wildly popular and effective Covid-era’s anti-poverty child tax credit for at least a decade. Spending public funds so lavishly on war inevitably means not spending them elsewhere, and it’s incredible to imagine what even a fraction of the money sucked up every year by America’s bloated military-industrial complex could accomplish if invested differently.

Fundamentally, however, the case against the Pentagon’s ever-expanding budget is a democratic one. Every year, the government of the world’s most powerful country now allocates more than half of its discretionary funds to what is laughably called “defense spending”—regardless, it turns out, of whether the nation is at risk of attack or officially at war.

“Corporate capture of Congress is a problem in most major policy areas,” wrote Savage, “but defense contractors and other military concerns have a stranglehold that is arguably unmatched.”

As NPP noted Thursday, enacting Lee and Pocan’s legislation “would open the door for other critical investments—and stop rewarding an agency that doesn’t even know where the money is going.”

HOW AMERICA’S LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS FOR WORLDWIDE ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP — AGAIN

umair haque

umair haque

Nov 30, 2022 (medium.com)

While Nobody’s Looking, America’s Quietly Transforming its Economy — And the World’s

Image Credit: Council on Foreign Relations

Right about now, something fascinating’s happening to the world economy. It’s changing before our eyes. And that’s a Big Deal, because for most of our lives, well…it hasn’t. It’s emerging from the ashes of neoliberalism — whose consequences has been stagnating and then declining incomes in much of the world, especially the rich world, fueling a wave of fascism. That’s unlikely enough — but what’s even more surprising is that at the heart of this transformation is America.

Right about now, most Americans, I’d bet, don’t quite know it — but a foundation is being laid for another era of American dominance and prosperity. If everything goes according to plan, something like the 1950s — a golden era, at least if you were lucky enough to be in the right social group.

How so? What am I talking about? What…new foundation for a new era of dominance and prosperity?

Consider how freaked out, well, Europe and Canada are right now. About what America’s doing. Positively. That’s a change, huh? It’s a huge one, a tectonic shift — because for most of our adult lives, it’s America who’s been a fading laggard next to Canada and Europe.

So what are Canada and Europe so worried about? Don’t take it from me, take it from them. “We’ve tipped into a new globalization,” French finance minister Bruno Le Maire recently said. “China tipped into this globalization a long time ago with massive state aid exclusively reserved for Chinese products. Right before our eyes, the U.S. has tipped into this new globalization to develop its industrial capacity on U.S. soil.”

Meanwhile, Canada fears that America’s green industrial policy will come at the expense of its own. America’s $370 billion investment in green industry dwarfs Canada’s own investments in low-carbon industry. Officials in Ottawa told Bloomberg that their country simply ‘can’t afford to go dollar-for-dollar with the U.S.’ in subsidizing nascent green firms and technologies.

Did you get all that? It’s funny, in a way, to see Canada and Europe a little bit freaked out by what America’s doing well. When was the last time that happened? Now. Why, precisely, are they so worried?

They’re afraid of Bidenomics. You see, Bidenomics gets…not a bad rap…it gets no rap. But there it is, actually changing the global economy. Like I said, that’s a Big Deal. It’s funny, too, that while Europe’s finance ministers quake in their boots and Canada’s government shudders, in America, Bidenomics gets next to no…coverage…credit…mention…in America. But it should.

What’s going on here is this. When America decides to flex its economic muscle, few countries in the world have much of a hope of matching it. And what Bidenomics is doing, now, is something genuinely a little revolutionary. On the ground, it’s a plan to make America a global economic leader again. Let me put that even more precisely, so you really get how revolutionary Bidenomics is — to the point that Europe and Canada are beginning to quietly freak out about it.

Remember why America had a golden age economically in the 1950s? No, I emphatically don’t mean culturally or socially or in terms of the complicated issues of race and democracy. Just…economically. It happened because, back then, America was a net exporter. It exported stuff around the world that it became famous for — from cars to appliances to lightbulbs and beyond. As a little boy, in the Third World, my grandfather’s prized possession was a classic 1950s American car. Those days were what established America’s position in the world as we know it today.

So when did America stop being a net exporter? in 1971. There’s another thing that happened that year — exactly — too. American incomes began to flatline. That’s not a coincidence. It’s a relationship. As it shifted to being a society that imported more than it exported, America’s industrial base, too, and all those stable, lifelong, middle-slash-working class industrial jobs began to disappear.

That trend accelerated through the 1990s, and by 2010 or so, the American middle class was, for the first time in history, a minority. And that had centrally to do with the fact that America had become a society of consumers, more than producers, really — but that, too, can hardly be one where incomes rise steadily, because, well, what are you really making to offer the world?

This single mega-trend is perhaps the true cause of America’s decline. As America declined, as the middle class vanished, as the working class fell into penury — in a classic repeat of the 1930s, as Keynes predicted, fascism, in the form of Trumpism, surged.

Yes, that’s a little oversimplified — but only a little. There’s plenty of truth to it, even if the details are to be shaded in with social and cultural issues, like how Reagan appealed to a sense of nostalgia and so forth. The point, though, is that American decline is centrally, fundamentally, about going from a net exporter in the 1950s, to a net importer in the 1970s, slowly at first, and by the 2010s, basically importing everything Americans needed to live from China, made of Russian and Saudi oil and gas, basically. Not good, for obvious reasons.

Bidenomics is a plan to turn all that on its headLet me say that again slightly differently, because both parts are important: Bidenomics is a plan to turn all that on its head. Why do both parts matter?

Let’s go back to the ashes of neoliberalism. What does neoliberalism say? Nations shouldn’t have plans. Instead, the “free market” should decide everything — what gets invested in, how much, for how long, and so forth. Sounds great in theory — doesn’t work very well in practice, especially in an age like now, where we have civilization scale threats like climate change. The “free market” wants its money back in less than a decade — meanwhile, we need to build basic systems that last another century or two, for food, water, agriculture, energy, healthcare, education, and so on. Good luck doing all that in a three year time horizon, with the lowest bidder trying to squeeze a penny wherever they can. It doesn’t work.

And more to the point, it hasn’t worked. While “the free market” — which just means hedge funds and banks at this point, basically — was supposed to “reinvent” the American economy every few years since the 1970s…what actually happened? Outside of Manhattan and San Francisco, America’s economic might began to atrophy in stunning, shocking ways. It’s once roaring industrial towns and cities became derelict war zones, basically, from Detroit to Baltimore. The idea that you didn’t need to have a plan — that a nation having a plan for its own future was a bad thing — that was a huge mistake. Because of course meanwhile, nations who did have plans, like South Korea (electronics) and Taiwan and Singapore (microchips) and China (consumer goods), skyrocketed to fortune and dominance.

So what’s utterly shocking to Europe and Canada is that…bizarrely…in a weird through-the-looking-glass moment…for the first time in modern history…it’s America…out of the blue…who has a plan…a national industrial strategywhile even they don’t. That plan is as simple as it is excellent. Make America a net exporter again. Of things the world needs, critically. Beginning with two big ones, microchips, the smaller one, and the really big one — clean energy and manufacturing. Get that right, and the entire world will beat a path to America’s doors — just like it did in the 1950s. Its mighty industrial cities might roar once again — like they did back then, too.

It’s a Big Deal. A huge one, really, which is why Canada and Europe are so freaked out about it. Now let me put all that more concisely, and come to the point.

Bidenomics is starting a New Global Race to the Top. Now that America’s putting huge investments into making stuff the world needs, and positioning itself to become a net exporter again — like clean energy, green manufacturing, microchips — those who wish to stay competitive with it, like Europe and Canada, have to pony up, too. America just raised the stakes dramatically. Biden’s out there doing the kinds of things only America, really, can do — putting half a trillion dollars into investing in the stuff above, bang, just like that — and now Europe looks feeble and slow by comparison. Canada, meanwhile, being that much smaller an economy, is complaining that it can’t keep up.

All that’s an eminently good thing. It’s long overdue that the world has something like an Arms Race for Clean Energy and Green Manufacturing and Reinventing Basic Civilizational Systems Which All Depend on Them. We’ve been slacking on reinveinting all these fundamentals as a civilization, precisely because major players like America haven’t been leading. But now America’s back, and it’s leading with a vengeance. It’s saying to the world: here’s what we can do. Ante up, if you want to stay in this game.

To make that concrete, now Europe is going to have to dramatically increase investment, too, in all the above — if it wants to stay competitive. That’s an excellent thing, because of course, right about now, we need a huge wave of investment in exactly all this, clean, green, energy, manufacturing, every basic system, from food to water to electricity to medicine which all depend on them.

A Race to the Top to invent the post-industrial economy of the 21st century? Awesome. It’s exactly what the world needs. And America’s kicking it off. That’s a double freak out moment for Europe and Canada, because, well America’s not supposed to do stuff like this. It’s supposed to…the laggard. They’re supposed to be visionaries. Not anymore. Things are now changing. The global economy is at an inflection point.

If Bidenomics goes on to succeed, and really does make America a net exporter of things like chips and clean, green manufacturing and energy? The 21st century will belong to America. I don’t say that lightly. The entire world needs this stuff — not just because it’s clean, but because it’s cheap. Renewable energy? Basically free. If you can sell that to the world, well, you’re going to enjoy an era of dominance and prosperity like the 1950s, maybe only squared, because you’ll be the one basically rebuilding the planet’s failing systems, one country at a time. The stakes are that big.

That’s really why Europe’s freaking out, and Canada’s joining it. Nobody much in the halls of power anywhere has thought the 21st century might belong to America. America was written off long ago, perhaps even before Trumpism, as a has-been. The comeback, therefore, is shocking, out of the blue. America’s got a plan for dominance and prosperity…an American Century…exporting the basics systems the world needs to survive an age of extinction and climate catastrophe…not just plan, but a really good one? Now they’re going to need to up their game, too.

Let me add one final note. None of this is, as Europe and Canada are beginning to claim, “protectionist.” America’s not planning to protect these nascent industries — it’s building them precisely so they can supply the world stuff it needs, the whole world. That’s not protectionism. Nor is subsidizing this stuff 1930s era one upmanship either. This isn’t like subsidizing something useless, like, I don’t know, hedge funds — this is investing in public goods, because of course every dollar America spends on this goes on to benefit the whole world. Things like “a planet we can all live on” are, wait for it, public goods — we should all want them, because they benefit us all. That’s a technical point, but one worth considering perhaps.

The unheard, unsung story of Bidenomics. Don’t cry for it, though. Americans might not know it’s changing the world. But Europe and Canada — and the entire globe’s halls of power — are hearing its message loud and clear. America just raised the stakes. Ante up, or bow out. This is a Race to the Top, of building a post-industrial future, which revitalizes our working class and middle class and cities and towns, too — not to the dismal bottom anymore, of making things cheap, careless, and indifferent to their toxic side effects. That’s what tomorrow’s global economy is really about. Warm up’s over. Game on.

Umair
November 2022

Obama campaigns with Sen. Raphael Warnock at Pullman Yards in Atlanta on December 1

Roland S. Martin Streamed live 6 hours agoWATCH LIVE: Former President Barack Obama campaigns with Sen. Raphael Warnock at Pullman Yards in Atlanta. Obama appears at about 1:09:00.

Brian Tyler Cohen • Dec 2, 2022 NEW: Obama HUMILIATES Herschel Walker only days before election. To demand the Special Counsel indict Donald Trump, sign here 👉 https://odaction.com/oda-indict-trump… Suit by JB CLOTHIERS in Los Angeles 👉 https://jbclothiers.com/btc

Defending Democracy While Waiting for the Cavalry to Arrive

Youth voters ahead of the 2022 midterm election

A crowd of supporters responds to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as he speaks during a Our Future is Now tour, which is hoping to register young voters ahead of Election Day, on November 6, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With days left before U.S. midterms Bernie Sanders is on the campaign trail, holding nine rallies across five battleground states leading up to election day. (Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

The progressive viewpoint of many young Americans didn’t grow out of youthful wild-eyed idealism, but from the realities of their lives. They are the nation’s best hope.

STEVEN DAY November 30, 2022 (CommonDreams.org)

If there is anything certain in today’s political world it is that the Republican Party represents an existential threat to the survival of democracy. And it would be a mistake to take too much comfort from the recent midterm election results. The better than expected showing by the Democrats bought some time, but American democracy will remain at risk for as long as the GOP remains the party it is today. In two years there will be another election, then another, and another after that. To preserve a functioning democracy, the Democrats have to win every time in a closely divided country. To tear it down, the GOP need win only once. Just one election where they win control of both houses of congress and the presidency at the same time, and it’s over (they already control the Supreme Court). And given the inevitable cycles of American politics, we know that day must eventually come. And when it does, America’s 250-plus year experiment in self-government will effectively end.

We know this because the leadership of the Republican Party has repeatedly shown its willingness to ignore democratic norms. The most shocking example, of course, was the action of 147 GOP representatives in congress voting to not certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. Let that roll around in your mind for a time. A large proportion of the congressional representatives for one of the two major parties were ready to overturn the will of the voters, thereby chucking American democracy out the window, for no better reason than that their guy didn’t win.

“If there is still a democracy waiting for them when today’s youth reach full strength, the GOP we have today will have no choice but to change or die.”

And that was far from the first time the GOP assaulted democracy. Probably the most extreme example involves Wisconsin. In 2010, the Democratic Party suffered its famous shellacking in the first Obama midterms. As part of this nationwide Democratic wipeout, Wisconsin voters handed complete control of the state government to the Republicans. While no doubt disheartening to Wisconsin Democrats, they had reason to believe this was only a temporary setback. They could work to turn things around in the next election. But the Wisconsin GOP had a different idea. They decided to use this temporary grant of political power to game the system in a way that all but guaranteed they would never lose another legislative election.

Using extreme gerrymandering, the following year they drew legislative districts in a way that made it essentially impossible for the Democratic Party, which had previously been very competitive, to ever again win legislative control. They also used their legislative power to attack unions, weakening one of the Democrats’ biggest sources of support. Eight years later, when a Democrat was elected governor, the GOP again used this legislative lock to thwart the popular will, by changing the law to reduce the governor’s power. And the highly politicized Wisconsin Supreme Court, also controlled by Republicans, upheld everything they did.

The end result has been that the state government of Wisconsin, once home to the progressive reforms of Robert La Follette, has in many respects ceased to be a functioning democracy. And, frighteningly, the GOP seems perfectly happy with this undemocratic state of affairs.

Can anyone doubt that given the chance, the GOP will do something similar to the nation as a whole, and that their handpicked Supreme Court majority will happily go along?

The good news is that our wannabe dictators have a problem. It turns out that Millennials and Gen Zers, the very groups that will soon become the most important voting bloc in America, don’t much like right-wing policies.

The degree to which young voters helped Democrats in the midterm elections is debated. Some commentators think it was a substantial factor in the Democrats’ favorable showing. Others insist this is being overstated. One thing that can’t be debated, however, is the basic demographics of the situation. Regardless of your political allegiance, there’s no denying that as elderly voters die off, young people continue to enter the voting pool.

It is estimated that by 2024, Millennials and Gen Zers will together make up the largest age group of voters in the country. While many resist identifying with a particular political party, an overwhelming majority of Millennial and Gen Z voters vote Democratic. Of perhaps equal importance, these new young voters strongly disapprove of the intolerance which has become the GOP’s stock-in-trade. As the GOP continues to play to its declining base, the future walks in the opposite direction.

The big unknown, of course, is to what extent the progressive outlook of these young voters will survive the aging process. While scholarly research has had mixed results on whether voters grow more conservative with age, I would suggest Republicans not get too comfortable with the common assumption that these young liberals will magically morph into conservatives as they age. These younger Americans grew up in a different America than their parents and grandparents. They are much more diverse — and much more tolerant of diversity. They inherited less economic opportunity than their parents. Many carry crippling debt from student loans that will stalk them for decades — limiting what they can do, and what they can become.

They grew up with active shooter drills and the looming threat of climate change. They are inheriting a nation with extreme inequality of wealth, choking off economic opportunity. Current data suggests that unlike earlier generations, these young Americans cannot expect to do better than their parents.

I could be wrong, but I feel fairly confident the progressive viewpoint of these young Americans didn’t grow out of youthful wild-eyed idealism. It grew from the realities of their lives. Perhaps over time some will gradually drift to the right, but any such movement is unlikely to be big enough, or to come quickly enough, to save the GOP.

And if that’s true, and if there is still a democracy waiting for them when today’s youth reach full strength, the GOP we have today will have no choice but to change or die. Either way, the health of our democracy will be much improved.

The cavalry may well be coming, but even if true it won’t be at full strength for some time. We still need to do the work required to keep the GOP out of power, and far away from the machinery of democracy, during the next few election cycles, as we wait for this demographic transformation to become complete.

Otherwise, when the cavalry does finally arrive in full force, they may find there’s nothing left to rescue.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Steven Day

STEVEN DAY

Steven Day practices law in Wichita, Kansas and is the author of The Patriot’s Grill, a novel about a future America in which democracy no longer exists, but might still return.

Articles ~ Petitions ~ Events for Thursday, Dec. 1 – Saturday, Dec. 3 + Upcoming events

By Adrienne Fong

Not back posting on a regular basis

Please include Accessibility and ASL info in your events! And if your action is ‘child friendly’ This is a JUSTICE issue!!

*** ASL interpretation – Let me know if your event needs this service .***

Please post your actions on Indybay: https://www.indybay.org/calendar/?page_id=12

 See Indybay  for  other listings of events

ARTICLES

A. Anti-Lockdown Protests Break Out Across China – November 30, 2022

Anti-Lockdown Protests Break Out Across China – YouTube

B. San Francisco approves police proposal to use potentially deadly robots – November 29, 2022

San Francisco approves police proposal to use potentially deadly robots | San Francisco | The Guardian

   8 votes for the policy

  3 votes against it

     – Preston, Walton & Ronen

C. Scott Ritter Extra Ep. 25: Ask the Inspector – November 29, 2022 (Video on facebook)

Facebook

  Special Guest: Eva Bartlett. Scott Ritter answers questions from the audience with host Jeff Norman

D. Cleverly Executed Demo for Abortion Rights in Top San Francisco Mall – November 29, 2022

Cleverly Executed Demo for Abortion Rights in Top San Francisco Mall : Indybay

  See Event # 2

E. Purdue Students and Faculty Say No to War Criminals on Campus – November 28, 2022

Purdue Students and Faculty Say No to War Criminals on Campus (truthout.org)

F. FTX Secret Ties To Democrats and Ukraine IGNORED And CENSORED – November 23, 2022

FTX Secret Ties To Democrats and Ukraine IGNORED And CENSORED – YouTube

G. Maligned in Western Media, Donbass Forces are Defending their Future from Ukrainian Shelling and Fascism – November 19, 2022

Maligned in Western Media, Donbass Forces are Defending their Future from Ukrainian Shelling and Fascism | CovertAction Magazine

H. Families of men killed by SFPD say DA Jenkins is blowing them off

I. Why Florida HALTS Covid mRNA for Men 18-39. Surgeon General Dr. Ladapo Explains

Why Florida HALTS Covid mRNA for Men 18-39. Surgeon General Dr. Ladapo Explains – YouTube

PETITIONS

1. Tell Biden to Speak up for the ’02 AUMF repeal!’

  SIGN: Tell Biden to speak up for the ‘02 AUMF repeal! | Win Without War

2. Petition to demand Congress protect Native sacred places now

  SIGN: Sign the petition to demand Congress protect Native sacred places now (actionnetwork.org)

3. Help fight the Dakota Access Pipeline and protect Indigenous rights!

  SIGN: Help fight the Dakota Access Pipeline and protect Indigenous rights! | NRDC

4. Demand Congress put an end to private prisons!

  SIGN: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/sign-the-petition-demand-congress-put-an-end-to-private-prisons?source=group-afr-advocacy-fund-c4&referrer=group-afr-advocacy-fund-c4&redirect=https://secure.actblue.com/donate/afr_private_prisons&link_id=2&can_id=4d8abb95a7895a1648b41bfa1ad2bb3b&email_referrer=email_1744410&email_subject=take-action-defund-private-prisons&refcodeEmailReferrer=email_1744410

5. DEMAND THE BIG 6 U.S. BANKS STOP FOSSIL FUEL EXPANSION FINANCING NOW

  SIGN: Big 6 US Banks: #DefundClimateChaos | Rainforest Action Network – Fighting for People and Planet (ran.org)

6. Now is the time to ensure marriage equality – in EVERY U.S. state

  SIGN: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/sign-the-petition-now-is-the-time-to-ensure-marriage-equality?source=direct_link&referrer=group-progressive-reform-network&redirect=https%3A%2F%2Fsecure.actblue.com%2Fdonate%2Fpl_prn%3Famount%3D10%26refcode%3Dpl_20221118_04%26noskip%3Dtrue&link_id=1&can_id=4d8abb95a7895a1648b41bfa1ad2bb3b&email_referrer=email_1744084&email_subject=tell-congress-to-pass-the-respect-for-marriage-act&refcodeEmailReferrer=email_1744084

EVENTS

Thursday, December 1 – Saturday, December 3

Thursday, December 1,

1. Thursday, 11:00am (PT); 2:00pm (ET), Economic Warfare, Sanctions & U.S. Intervention in Venezuela

Webinar registration: Webinar Registration – Zoom

On Facebook: WEBINAR: Economic Warfare, Sanctions & U.S. Intervention in Venezuela | Facebook

Is there economic warfare in Venezuela? Has the situation improved? How have Venezuelans faced the economic war during all these years? All these questions and many others will be answered.

Featuring:

– Special guest Oscar Lopez Rivera: former Puerto Rican political prisoner
– Father Numa Molina,
– Camilla Saab, Human Rights defender & wife of the Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, kidnapped by the United States.
– Tony Boza, Ecomist. Host of the TV show “Boza with Valdez.”
– William Camacaro, facilitator

We will also have community leaders, members of the commune and community councils, as well as people in charge of the Clap and street chiefs. All of them will be talking to us about how the economic war has affected them in their daily lives.

Host: Alliance For Global Justice

Info: WEBINAR: Economic Warfare, Sanctions & U.S. Intervention in Venezuela | Facebook

2. Thursday, 1:00pm – 2:00pm, Legal Abortion Nationwide! The Overturning of Abortion Rights Was Illegitimate

In person

Philip Burton Federal Court House
450 Golden Gate Ave.
SF

Rain or shine!

Nationwide Protests will manifest in GREEN outside of courthouses across the country. Bring signs, banners, & your beautiful voices.

Dec. 1 marks one year since the Supreme Court heard oral arguments of Dobbs. V. Jackson, the case which led to the overturning of abortion rights in this country.

On that day, the fascist “Justices” on the court suggested that the interests of women to control their own reproduction, bodies and lives needed to be weighed against the “interests” of fetuses. No! Fetuses are NOT people. They do NOT have “interests.” Women are people!

FORCED MOTHERHOOD = FEMALE ENSLAVEMENT!

We cannot rely on the courts, we must rely on ourselves. Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights to win: LEGAL ABORTION ON DEMAND & WITHOUT APOLOGY NATIONWIDE!

Atlanta: 500 pm March from CNN 190 Marietta Street NW to US Appeals Court
Boston: 4:00 pm Joseph Moakley Courthouse1 Courthouse Square
Chicago: 4:00 pm Federal Plaza (across from the Fed. Courthouse)
Cleveland: 4:00 pm Carl B. Stokes Federal Courthouse 801 W. Superior Avenue
Lansing MI: 3:30 pm Michigan Capitol 100 North Capitol Avenue
Los Angeles: 4:00 pm Federal Courthouse 350 W 1st Street
New York City: 4:00 pm Thurgood Marshall US Courthouse 40 Centre Street, Foley Square
Philadelphia: 5:30 pm US Courthouse, 601 Market Street
San Francisco: 1:00 pm Philip Burton Federal Courthouse 450 Golden Gate
Seattle: 2:00 pm US District Court 700 Stewart Street

Host: Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights

Info: Protest: Legal Abortion Nationwide! The Overturning of Abortion Rights Was Illegitimate : Indybay

3. Thursday, 4:30pm – 6:00pm, World AIDS Day March & Candlelight Vigil

In person

Meet at:

4:30pm – 10:35 Market St., SF

4:40pm – March together to SF City Hall

5:00pm – Speakers & Commemoration at City Hall

Wear red, we’ll provide posters and candles.

Join us this World AIDS Day as we remember those we’ve lost to the AIDS crisis and continue the fight for justice for our communities. We’ll meet in front of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (1035 Market St) and march together to City Hall, where we’ll hear commemorations for those we’ve lost and reflections on how we must continue the fight for justice.

Host: SF AIDS Foundation

Info: World AIDS Day March & Candlelight Vigil | Facebook

4. Thursday, 7:00pm, CODEPINK Co-Founder Medea Benjamin in conversation with Mickey Huff, Project Censored

In person

Hillside Club
2286 Cedar St.
Berkeley

 Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/medea-benjamin-war-in-ukraine-making-sense-of-a-senseless-conflict-tickets-462001277257

Tickets: $20.00

Please join KPFA  at The Hillside Club when we welcome legendary activist and author Medea Benjamin to discuss her most recent book, War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict. This very special live and in-person event will feature Medea in conversation with KPFA’s Mickey Huff, host of Project Censored.

Info: CODEPINK Co-Founder Medea Benjamin in conversation with Mickey Huff, Project Censored : Indybay

Friday, December 2

5. Friday, 1:00pm – 2:00pm Shut Down the SF Police Officers Association

In person

SF Police Officers Association
800 Bryant St. (at 6th St)
SF

All are welcomed to stand with Mothers On The March and People from the Community.

Our Demands:

  -The Police Officers Association be SHUT DOWN!

  -The SF POA Be Declared a Non-Grata Organization

  -Abolish the ‘Officers Bill of Rights’ – This has been used to protect officers in abusing our communities!

  -Jail Killer Cops – we demand killer cops be charged and convicted with murder

  -Abolish the Police!

6. Friday, 4:00pm,  STOP US NATO Drive Toward World War-International Day Of Action

In person

SF Federal Building
90 – 7th Street
SF

Abolish NATO, Shut Down US Bases Around The World – The Main Enemy Is At Home! For Working Class Strikes Globally To Stop The Wars!

The US ruling class is driving the world towards a global war. The Democrats and Republicans have joined together to send over $60 billion to Ukraine and are opposing any negotiations with Russia which could bring an end to the conflict. For decades, the US has pushed NATO expansion up to the borders of Russia. It was a major force behind the overthrow of the democratically-elected Ukrainian government in 2014, and aimed, in the civil war that followed, to goad Russia into a proxy war. The disastrous war in Ukraine was their intent, and they have exploited it to train and arm Ukrainian military forces, including the fascist Azov Battalion, as a means to weaken and destabilize Russia. In the wake of Russian military defeats, the American military establishment is crowing for further escalation, in order to break up the Russian Federation.

At the same time that the US ruling class is pushing for expanded wars abroad, it is increasing the war on working people in the US, with massive evictions, rampant homelessness, an escalating drive to privatize public services, and slave-labor conditions at Uber, Amazon, and other corporations.

The rise of fascism is part and parcel of the US war drive. The toxic stew of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, anti-Semitism, and immigrant bashing which has led American democracy to the brink has been produced by the polices of the Democrats and Republicans. Billionaires like Musk, Bezos, Ellison, and Buffett are driving working people to the wall, and their union busting tactics are allowed by the Democrats and Republicans alike

There is no anti-war opposition in the American government or the labor bureaucracies: The AFL-CIO “Solidarity Center,” funded by $75 million from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), has pushed the privatization of the wealth in Ukraine for US capitalists and supports the war drive. 

On December 2, 2022, the Si Cobas union is launching a national strike against NATO and US war in Ukraine and Europe.

Host: United Front Committee For A Labor Party

See Indybay for more info

Info: STOP US NATO Drive Toward World War – International Day Of Action : Indybay

7. Friday, 6:00pm, 7th Angelversary of Mario Woods after he was executed by 5 SFPD officers on Dec 2nd 2015 in Bayview.

In person

2915 Keith St. (Where Mario was executed)
SF

All are welcomed as we honor the life and memory of Mario Woods.

Food, snacks, cocoa/coffee

Artist / speakers / Performances / Poetry

Healing Community Organizing

Bring flowers, offering for the altar or your Compassion. This is an Ablolitionist Space.

Info: Bing

Saturday, December 3,

8. Saturday, 12:00Noon – 1:30pm, UC UAW Labor Community Solidarity Rally: COLA & Housing For All

In person

Sproul Plaza
UC Berkeley
Berkeley

The Democrats who run UC through the Regents who the governor appoints have allowed a flagrant union busting administration to violate labor law and use slave labor at UC. It’s time for united action of all workers for a COLA and Housing for all along with a mass democratic labor party run for and by working people.    

Host: United Front Committee For A Labor Party UFCL 

Info: UC UAW Labor Community Solidarity Rally: COLA & Housing For All : Indybay

9. Saturday, 5:00pm (PT); 7:00pm (CT), Panel Discussion on Haiti and the History of U.S. Imperialism

On line

Panel Discussion on Haiti and the History of U.S. Imperialism | Facebook

Come learn about the ongoing United States intervention in Haiti and the History of US imperialism against Haiti.

Featuring speakers:

Cassandra Swart of the Dallas Anti-War Committee discussing the history of US Imperialism against Haiti.

Judith Mirkinson of the Haiti Action Committee discussing the ongoing situation in Haiti and the ongoing US intervention.

Delilah Pierre of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee discussing the effects of the ongoing situation and intervention on the Haitian community in the United States.

After the presentations, a Q&A will be held answering questions related to the history of US imperialism against Haiti and the ongoing intervention efforts of the United States in Haiti

Host: Dallas Anti-Wat Committee

Info: Panel Discussion on Haiti and the History of U.S. Imperialism | Facebook

10. Saturday, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, The Howard Zinn Book Fair Presents: For Anti-Fascist Futures

In person

Medicine For Nightmares
3036 24th Street
SF

Attendees are asked to please wear a mask while inside the bookstore

PANEL DISCUSSION WITH
FOR ANTI-FASCIST FUTURES
CONTRIBUTORS

Elspeth Iralu, Dian Million, Nicole Nguyen, Yazan Zahzah, Alyosha Goldstein

Explores the significance of fascism for understanding authoritarianism today and centers anti-imperialist movements of Black, Indigenous, and colonized peoples.

We must, as For Antifascist Futures urges, take antifascism as a major imperative of movements for social change. But we must not limit our analysis or historical understanding of the rise of the right-wing authoritarianism in our times by rooting it in mid-twentieth century Europe. Instead we turn to a collection of powerful BIPOC voices who offer a range of anticolonial, Indigenous, and Black Radical traditions to think with.

Host: James Tracy

Info: The Howard Zinn Book Fair Presents: For Anti-Fascist Futures | Facebook

UPCOMING EVENTS

Thursday, December 8

Thursday, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America w/ author Joshua Frank

In person

518 Valencia St.
SF

Wheelchair accessible

Join us on December 8th as we welcome author and journalist Joshua Frank (@joshua__frank) for an in-person discussion and signing of his just-released book “Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America” from Haymarket Books.

Bio// Joshua Frank is an award-winning California-based journalist and co-editor of the political magazine CounterPunch. He is a co-author of several books, most recently The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (AK Press).

Host: Rising Tide North America

Info: Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America w/ author Joshua Frank – Action Network

Saturday, December 10

Saturday, 10am (PT); 1:00pm (ET), SANCTIONS: A Wrecking Ball in a Global Economy

Webinair register: Webinar Registration – Zoom

Join a discussion of the latest developments in key regions of the world with several authors of the new anthology: SANCTIONS: A Wrecking Ball in a Global Economy

Intensifying US sanctions, imposed on a third of humanity, are sending shock waves through the world economy. Now this brutal form of economic warfare on civilian populations is being contested. US dollar dominance is being challenged as the currency of global trade. Sanctions have boomeranged back on the US and EU countries with inflation, supply chain shortages, and a looming recession causing hardship at home. But by far the greatest burden is borne by 40+ sanctioned countries. The US response is doubling down on harsher sanctions. What are the implications?

A Discussion with :

  • Ajamu Baraka – Black Alliance for Peace
  • Erica Jung – Nodutdol Korean Community Development
  • Carlos Martinez – International Manifesto Group
  • Lee Siu Hin – China-US Solidarity Network
  • Judy Bello – Syria Support Movement & UNAC
  • Ann Garrison – Pacifica reporter & Black Agenda Report
  • Rick Sterling – Task Force on the Americas
  • Sara Flounders – International Action Center

Presented by the SanctionsKill Campaign (https://sanctionskill.org)

CAN OAKLAND BECOME A PROGRESSIVE MODEL?

by Randy Shaw on November 28, 2022 (BeyondChron.org)

Mayor Sheng Tao and a Progressive Council Majority

Victories by Mayor-elect Sheng Thao and council allies could change the course of Oakland history. Oakland enters 2023 with the most progressive mayor/city council combination in its history. Will the city become a national progressive model for cities promoting racial, ethnic and economic diversity? Or will urban America’s dependence on federal and state funds send Oakland’s rising hopes crashing down?

Here’s our take.

How Oakland Got Here

Jerry Brown

Libby Schaaf and Jerry Brown are Oakland’s highest regarded Oakland mayors over the past 25-50 years. Both were favored by the city’s corporate establishment. Both primarily drew votes from   homeowners and those prioritizing public safety and economic development. Both prioritized attracting and retaining middle and upper-income residents.

Many believe Brown “saved” Oakland. He is extolled for pushing waterfront development and “10,000 new homes.” Yet Brown never supported affordable housing or increasing tenant protections. Fittingly, one of his last acts as mayor was to veto legislation providing for inclusionary housing.

Brown had one great advantage: the media loved him. This insulated him and Oakland from criticisms that have been waged against other mayors.

Libby Schaaf

Libby Schaaf has a complex legacy that requires a separate story. Also supported by corporate and homeowner interests, she has been far more supportive of progressive housing policies.

After taking office in 2015 Schaaf joined the council in passing a “Roadmap toward Equity.” The Roadmap, whose positives and shortcomings I assess in Generation Priced Out, sought to build 17,000 new affordable homes and protect 17,000 households from displacement. It was a bold move. But Oakland falls far short in meeting the affordable housing needs of Oakland residents. Much of Sheng Thao’s support came from Oaklanders who either fear they will be displaced or feel the city must do a lot more to promote affordability.

Brown and Schaaf governed from the premise that financial institutions and investors were skeptical about Oakland’s future. They saw the mayor’s role as building corporate and investor trust in Oakland’s stability. By that measure Schaaf in particular has been a huge success: Oakland real estate values have boomed under Schaaf and housing development exploded.

But if Oakland voters used real estate appreciation as a measuring stick, Loren Taylor would have won.. Taylor was backed by Schaaf and her allies,  including landlord and real estate interests.

Instead, Thao gained support from voters alarmed by the city’s demographic trends. From 2010-2020 the white population increased 25% while Oakland’s Black population fell 27%. As Dan Immergluck wrote in his new book about Atlanta, Oakland underwent a “fundamental change in trajectory that can only be characterized as a significant, racialized gentrification.”

Mayor Thao and her allies want to change this trajectory. Not continue it.

A Pragmatic Progressive Majority

Councilmembers Nikki Bas, Dan Kalb, and Rebecca Kaplan have won re-election after serving as progressive problem-solvers. Carol Fife is still in her first term but has kept affordability at the top of her agenda. Two newly elected councilmembers—Kevin Jenkins and Janani Ramachandran—have strong progressive credentials. I endorsed Ramachandran and know she will fight to preserve and expand housing affordability.

I see Mayor Thao working collaboratively with the council majority. She is very different from prior progressive mayors—Jean Quan and Ron Dellums—who had personal deficiencies that prevented success.

Thao and her council allies know they must deliver on homelessness, public safety, affordability, and economic revitalization. Thao highlighted the need for quick action in her victory speech. Making headway will not be easy. Consider:

Homelessness: Republican control of the House likely kills any chance for meaningful federal budget increases to address homelessness. Governor Newsom wants cities to do more but the state budget looks like the state will offer less funding than in the past. Reducing Oakland’s encampments is a huge challenge and one that Thao may not achieve. But most important is that the mayor be honest with Oakland residents about what is being done and why a lack of funding prevents greater action.

On homelessness, transparency is crucial.

Public Safety: Oakland’s corporate and real estate interests have long associated progressives with jeopardizing public safety. But their efforts to scare Oakland voters into believing Thao would “defund the police”—based on false claims that progressives had sought to reduce the police budget when they instead fought to increase spending—failed.

One reason it failed was that the alarming attacks on Asian-Americans, shootings, business break-ins and other violent acts occurred under Mayor Schaaf. Voters concerned about safety were not believers in keeping the status quo (that’s how New York upstate Republicans used the crime issue to unseat incumbent Democrats). Should similar acts occur in 2023 let’s not allow the media or political forces to act like public safety suddenly declined under Mayor Thao.

Thao and the progressive council must deliver on public safety. I look forward to monitoring their approach.

Affordability:  Oakland’s affordability steadily worsens. Activists have been on the outside of the Schaaf administration, and now will be on the inside under Mayor Thao. This will provide needed transparency on affordable housing policy decisions.

Oakland faces a challenge to improve affordability in the absence of major new federal or state funding. But cities can do a lot more to improve affordability if this goal becomes the centerpiece of policy making.

Overall, I see Oakland acting much more aggressively to keep working-class and low-income residents in the city.

Economic Revitalization: Mayor Schaaf was seen as “good” for business. Progressives typically aren’t trusted by corporate leaders, which is why the business community went big for Loren Taylor over the heavily-labor backed Sheng Thao.

But Thao can rebuild a more progressive Oakland economy by considering the many alternative proposals to the proposed A’s stadium at Howard Terminal. For example, Thao can move forward on the council’s plan to create Infrastructure Finance Districts to fund affordable housing and other needs.

Thao’s election itself did not kill the ill-conceived Howard Terminal stadium project. But its long been on life support. This council is not going to gift all of the city’s potential economic development money to billionaire owner John Fisher. The A’s stadium quest will either end with a sale of the team followed by a new stadium on the current site or by the A’s leaving Oakland.

Thao’s election removes the city’s mayor as the chief cheerleader behind a bad deal (I get more hostile tweets when criticizing the A’s stadium plan then on any other topic—some “fans” have no problem mortgaging the city’s future to enrich the cheapest owner in Major League Baseball). It makes no sense for Oakland to sacrifice its economic future for John Fisher.

After working in local politics for 45 years, I offer Mayor Thao and her allies three suggestions:

1.Don’t be afraid to go big.

2. Listen to your constituents, not the corporate media.

3. Don’t let the media divert your focus on the core goal of increasing and preserving Oakland’s racial, social and economic diversity. The media will invent one “scandal” after another in hopes of sidetracking the mayor’s affordability agenda .

Cities across America talk about increasing affordability but too few actually do it. Oakland’s political line up gives the city a chance to set a new, positive pattern.

It won”t be easy. Oakland faces a declining state economy and the loss of Democratic Party control of the federal budget. Activists who have fought for a more inclusive Oakland must also stay engaged to give Thao and the council the political support they need.

Can Oakland become a progressive model for other cities? We will soon find out.

Randy Shaw

Randy Shaw is the Editor of Beyond Chron and the Director of San Francisco’s Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which publishes Beyond Chron. Shaw’s latest book is Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America. He is the author of four prior books on activism, including The Activist’s Handbook: Winning Social Change in the 21st Century, and Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century. He is also the author of The Tenderloin: Sex, Crime and Resistance in the Heart of San Francisco

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