‘Amtrak Joe’ Is the Golden State’s Last, Best Hope for Making a Rail From the Bay Area to L.A. a Reality
President “Amtrak Joe” Biden speaks aboard an Amtrak train in September 2020 during a train tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania. Courtesy of Andrew Harnik/Associated Press.
by JOE MATHEWS | APRIL 27, 2021 (zocalopublicsquare.org)
I know I should call you Mr. President, but there’s no time for formalities. You must move fast if you’re going to save California’s high-speed rail project.
No malarkey: It has to be you. California has shown itself incapable of funding, managing, or building deep popular support for this $80 billion train, which would be the first truly high-speed rail system in the United States. You—”Amtrak Joe,” with your personal devotion to riding the rail and your multitrillion dollar infrastructure proposal, now before Congress—are the last, best hope for making it a reality.
Is it worth the political risk of associating yourself with an epic failure? You and your advisors are cautious people who don’t want to give Republicans who oppose infrastructure spending a tempting target. Saving high-speed rail would enrage the House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, whose hostility to progress runs so deep that he has spent years opposing the project even though it would run through his own Bakersfield district.
But should you succeed, the potential rewards extend far beyond California. If you can fix this problematic and high-profile project, you will show the world just how committed you are to remaking this country’s infrastructure, and fulfilling your campaign promise to “build back better.”
Taking on this California headache won’t be easy. To have any chance of success, you’ll have to change the mindset around the project. Most of the attention paid to high-speed rail focuses on its lack of money—it’s short tens of billions of the $80 billion-plus needed for completion. But the fundamental problem with high-speed rail, as with other mega-projects in wealthy California, is not money, but a lack of management.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority is a failed agency. Thirteen years after California voters approved the railway, this agency still hasn’t managed the fundamental task of assembling the land it needs to build the first stretch in the San Joaquin Valley. It lacks the size, engineering expertise, and management chops to handle a construction project of this scale. Contractors have run amok, adding extra charges while failing to meet deadlines. And the authority’s board of directors is weak and part-time.
Leading state politicians, instead of supporting the project, are taking it apart. In early 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom abruptly and foolishly abandoned the plan to connect the first piece of the project, from the Bay Area to the Central Valley, leaving behind a diminished rail line running from Bakersfield to Merced. By making high-speed rail a Central Valley-only regional project, Newsom hurt support for rail in other regions. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon of Los Angeles has started pushing to redirect high-speed rail’s limited funds to Southern California.No malarkey: It has to be you. California has shown itself incapable of funding, managing, or building deep popular support for this $80 billion train, which would be the first truly high-speed rail system in the United States.
Joe, this unwinding of the project will end in high-speed rail’s eventual demise—unless you intervene, and soon. The good news is that California’s vast mismanagement of the project offers your administration multiple leverage points to jump in and start calling the shots.
Two big leverage points involve money. The first is $929 million in rail funding that the Trump administration pulled back in 2019 after Newsom abandoned the Bay-Area-to-San-Joaquin plan (and made intemperate remarks about the federal government in the process). The second involves $2.6 billion the state received for high-speed rail from the 2009 federal stimulus bill that it still hasn’t spent. California is almost certain to miss a 2022 deadline for using the money, which means you have the power to take it back.
To put it in your earthy style, Joe, since you control $3.5 billion that this project badly needs to stay afloat, you have California by the balls.
You can force Californians to confront the question: Are we serious about completing this train or not?
Your demands should not be bashful. As a condition of California getting the money it needs to keep the project alive—not to mention the tens of billions of additional federal dollars that will eventually be necessary to complete it—you can demand major changes in the management and operations of high-speed rail. First, you should require the resignation of all authority board members—and insist that the governor and legislature appoint a board, and a new chief executive, of your administration’s choice. Second, you need to insist that the new CEO replace the current, ineffective contractors with a real corporate engineering and management heavyweight—I’m thinking Kiewit, or that California giant, Bechtel—that can handle a project of this scale.
And most of all, you must insist that the project plan take the high-speed rail from the Bay Area all the way to L.A. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Some California politicians will balk at such a severe intervention. But don’t give them an inch. When they object, go right after their pretensions of national leadership and say: “Well, if California is no longer interested in building the American future like the governor says, I’d be happy to send California’s money to high-speed rail projects in Texas or Florida, where they still have ambitions.” They should fall in line. After all, you’ll be stepping up to ensure proper management of a project they never bothered to oversee.
One cautionary note: You may be tempted to throw in tens of billions in federal money right now, when the pandemic has opened the door for big federal spending. But slow down. Only once your preferred team is in place should you offer a schedule of future federal payments. And that support must be tied to measurable progress in the construction and testing. Joe, we Californians need to be kept on a short leash.
You’ll have to shrug off criticism, including from Californians who say that the state, having put bond money and cap-and-trade dollars into the project, deserves to hold the reins. The hard truth about California is that we’ve never built much of anything big without federal assistance—our aqueducts, our highways, and our internet all required help from Washington.
But the biggest thing you’ll need is the resolve to walk away. If California won’t meet your demands, or if our leaders undermine the project, you should pull back the money and leave the state to clean up its own unfinished mess.
Your love must be tough, but high-speed rail is worth the trouble. The project also isn’t quite as big a loser as it looks right now. Already, thousands of people are building it in the Central Valley, starting with the replacement of dozens of at-grade crossings that will prevent deadly rail accidents, and free up capacity for freight rail. And high-speed rail, with a proven record of success in other countries, could one day provide a more convenient, climate-friendlier alternative to flying or driving around our state, and country.
The impact of the Trump era will probably be remembered as crimes and outrages, but what it did to our psyches may be harder to recall. It did a lot to our psyches. The most valuable real estate Donald J. Trump ever acquired in his shady, shoddy career as a developer was the terrain inside our heads. And like so much else he got hold of, he wrecked it. During those four years of his presidency, our perception of time became disrupted and corrupted until it seemed to get stuck, stumble over itself into incoherence, loop, or crumble.
David J. Morris in his The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder calls trauma “a disease of time.” With PTSD, the past refuses to become the past or stay there, and the traumatic event forces itself back, like a zombie rising from the dead, into the present, or the present of the source of trauma has never receded to become the past, either as something receding into the distance or incorporated into one’s historical narrative. When the Biden inauguration happened, I was surprised to find that I was not uplifted or relieved, but freed to feel how hideous the whole thing had been, how damaged I felt—and I heard from many others who had the same experience.
A hundred days since the end of that era and the beginning of the Biden Presidency, the texture of everyday life then does feel at times remote, almost unbelievable, and when some national event transpires, it’s a huge relief not to have the incendiary idiocy of Trump’s commentary added to it (which is a reminder that it was both a presidency the senate could have ended in early 2020 and a long run on Twitter that Jack Dorsey could have ended before he finally did, after the insurrection of January 6).
To those who opposed him, the years felt like a constant barrage of insults to fact, truth, science, of attacks on laws, on rights, on targeted populations from Muslims to trans kids, on the environment, on scientists, on institutions that might protect or promulgate any of these preceding things, and on memory itself. It was a disorder from which we were forever trying to emerge into order, like people clawing a slimy bank, only to slump back into the ooze.
The phrase “drain the swamp,” repeated over and over by the most corrupt administration in a century or more, was part of its promulgation of confusion, its swampiness. The pandemic felt like the final phase, throwing us deeper into uncertainty, isolation, anxiety, and a sea of lies and denials—and mass death. Because so much of what happened in our hard-hit country could have been avoided by a more compassionate and competent administration, it was part of the chaos.
Trump was constantly endeavoring to erase and revise the past and thereby to undermine the capacity of any of us to remember it or reference it. In 2016, he acknowledged that the Hollywood Access tape was real, and a year later he suggested maybe it was a fake, and in the summer of 2019 he falsified a weather chart to make himself right in what he said about a hurricane, and then doubled and tripled down on the petty lie. The Washington Post ran a headline last April that invited viewers to “watch Trump deny saying things about the coronavirus that he definitely said.” CNN put it thus: “President Trump falsely denies saying two things he said last week.”One got tired of outrage, and then more outrages came. This week was a hungry cannibal that devoured last week.
The political goal was presumably to discredit all sources of information other than himself, to build up a barrage of little lies so that when he floated his big lie he would have prepared the ground and recruited the suckers. His personal goal was surely the vanity of wanting to have never been wrong and the superpower of always being right—George Orwell speaks of the theological nature of totalitarians, who must constantly alter the past to claim to be always right in the present. But also it seemed that for Trump, who was at core a hustler, grifter, and salesman, truth and falsity were not categories into which he sorted reality. There was only what was expedient in the moment to promote himself and his agenda, as well as a psychopath’s or rich boy’s expectation of utter unaccountability. Which is to say he didn’t particularly seem to know, and it was the nihilism of sales pitches unanchored in reality that we were all dragged into, or rather contaminated by.
Whether or not you were buying what he was selling, he was winning by making noise and getting away with it. So something had happened and then it had not, and his followers on Twitter and in the House and the Senate would go along with whatever the current version was. The term gaslighting, hitherto mostly used mostly to describe bullying and manipulation in private relationships, became a term for what a politician and his party were trying to do to the public. To cite Orwell again, the Memory Hole in this era was Trump’s big mouth, swallowing up facts and spewing out delusions. With that mouth at its national headwaters, the river of time became a river of molasses and then a tar pit—it became the swamp plenty of us flailed furiously in without seeming to get anything other than more stuck. The past being constantly sabotaged, in other words, was one way time was disordered.
His obsessive tweeting, often in the early hours of the morning, meant that bizarre and venomous interjections into the political process could erupt at any time of day or night, that at any moment the ground might again shift beneath us. You would think you’d rounded up the facts like sheep, and then some would stray or a wolf would come in the night and devour a few or it would turn out to have been a flock of wolves all along. While the White House traditionally produced news on a weekday work schedule, there was no longer any recognizable workday, just a random spray of firings, scandals, denials, insults, executive orders, reheated lies from his mornings watching Fox and Friends, and more than 300 days without a press conference in which the media could demand explanations according to the customary rites.
It was like living in the aftermath of an earthquake, when the aftershocks can come at any time, or in a place where explosions happen unpredictably, or with an unstable abuser, and in fact it was living with an unstable abuser, who was on one hand not in the house with us and on the other hand was our president and the most powerful person on earth. It kept you on edge. It kept you thinking about him and them, speaking of the psychic real estate they occupied, and thinking about that also kept you from thinking about other things—about deeper meanings, longer timeframes, broader perspectives, things that were less tethered to electoral politics and the USA in this very moment. Alligators, speaking of swamps, drag their prey into the water; this dragged us all into the shallows. I felt like I and we became more banal and superficial, because this sense of having to attend to yesterday and the last ten minutes and tomorrow in national political life and struggle to refute another lie meant that everything else got pushed back, including deeper involvement in local and international issues.
The sheer volume of these outrages and eruptions also meant that it was hard to keep track of it all, which was surely part of the plan; how could you remember last week’s scandal or last month’s crimes when today something amazingly corrupt had just happened or been revealed? Or perhaps it only seemed unprecedented because it was so lurid that hindsight was blinded. What would have been the most memorable and shocking scandal of any previous presidency would disappear in the glare of the newest scandal; for example, Trump’s astounding weekend phone call trying to bully Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State to change the vote tally was forgotten in the drama of the coup attempt he also instigated a few days later (the coup attempt did add coherence to the stuffing of the Pentagon, a couple of months before, with thugs loyal to Trump rather than law or country, for those who in January remembered November).While the White House traditionally produced news on a weekday work schedule, there was no longer any recognizable workday, just a random spray of firings, scandals, denials, insults, executive orders, and reheated lies.
But this last attempt to stop Joe Biden from assuming the presidency was part of the sheer overload that made people forget the first attempt, in the fall of 2019, with the wielding of aid to Ukraine as a lever to try to force the president of that country to comply with a smear campaign. Someone remarked to me in the fall of 2020 that their college students did not remember that Trump had been impeached earlier that year for his Ukraine crimes, which meant they had surely also forgotten that Trump was trying to stop Biden almost before the campaign started, which meant that the pattern or maybe the arc and intent went undetected. In normal life—or at least a more sedately paced life—something happens and we commit it to memory, incorporate it into a narrative of meaning, but this stuff came at us too fast to process.
The present seemed so intense it left little room for the past, and sometimes that meant that this week rubbed out almost all memory of last week. Which made time seem both incredibly fast, in an action-movie car-chase-with-explosions way, and interminable with the sense that the barrage might never stop. In the first months of the Trump presidency, I saw a journalist joking on Twitter, “I went out to lunch. WHAT HAPPENED?” because the sheer unpredictability meant you might miss something dramatic if you took your eyes off the drama for even the length of a lunchtime.
For a lot of us this meant we entered a state I called “informational hypervigilance,” convinced that I needed to read the news constantly, scan Twitter for the very latest, check in after any absence to see what happened while I was out running or buying groceries. I read news obsessively, which meant that I didn’t read books nearly enough, and the very mindset of a reader was undermined by this jumpy, twitchy news surveillance. I heard from others that they too felt they had forgotten how to read, in the sense of how to pay attention to long complex narratives.
The writer and filmmaker Astra Taylor said to me earlier this year that what she was trying to do with her writing during the Trump Administration was to make sense out of it all. Sometimes I felt as if I could, with enough hours cutting from one news outlet’s website to another to all the journalists and politicians I follow on Twitter, do exactly that, find and document the pattern that would somehow make it sensible and something we could respond to adequately. But I was and we were Sisyphus, forever pushing boulders of coherence up a slippery hill, and the supply of boulders seemed inexhaustible, and they had a tendency to roll down again.
Other times I felt more like a sentry, keeping watch over it all, convinced somehow that the fact I was watching mattered (it did result in numerous articles and a lot of social media posts, but the fate of the world could have staggered along if I took more time off to read history or do something else pleasant).
Trump wanted to hide forever in his presidential immunity from the lawsuits, civil and criminal, waiting for him just outside the gates of the White House.
The links between Trump and his associates and the Putin regime was part of the incoherence. There had been more than enough news stories before the election to convince those who were paying attention—apparently vanishingly few were—that there was a strong case that the Trump campaign was in cahoots with the Putin regime and the election had been corrupted. The newspapers reporting those stories tended to play them down. Stories that should have blown up on the front pages and had follow-up stories to flesh them out—like Senator Harry Reid’s insistence on Halloween 2016 that FBI head James Comey was sitting on “bombshell” information the public had a right to know—were just dropped casually along the way to the election. Shortly thereafter came the news that Obama had called Putin on the nuclear phone to tell him to stop meddling in the election, and surely that was both major news and strong confirmation, but few seemed to notice it.
And then came investigation after investigation, by both media outfits and government institutions, and often a new source or small piece of the picture was delivered as though the whole story was new, or people forgot that we already knew its general outlines, players, and many of its details, or could have if we’d paid attention. Even after the Biden inauguration, when the Guardianreported that a former KGB agent asserted that Russia cultivated Trump as an asset for decades, people indignantly exclaimed to me that this information should not have been withheld. I replied that there had long been more than enough evidence for us to know all along; this was confirmation, not revelation. But they had forgotten. We were forever discovering and forgetting and rediscovering this story, as though a kind of amnesia had seized us, and that was another way that time itself seemed disordered. It was as though we were living in a version of Groundhog Day in which, unlike the plot of that movie, we would never get the story right enough for it to escape the cycle.
Another source of meaninglessness was how many things that normally had consequences turned out not to in the Trump era. Violations of the Hatch Act, emoluments violations, nepotism, scamming, lying to Congress, sometimes literal assaults on a free press, and all the rest kept taking place, brazenly. Key participants in the Russian business—Flynn, Manafort, Stone—got pardons, and there were indications that in some cases pardons may have been promised in advance. Cause and effect relations are one of the ways we track time, and in the moral universe that means consequences; the lack of consequences for innumerable violations of law and acts of public criminality was another form of temporal disorientation.
The blunt assault on fact and truth and meaning was moral nihilism and intellectual gibberish, a strategy of brute force that said you could have whatever version of reality you wanted, including one in which victims were really perpetrators and vice-versa (like trying to steal an election by pretending it had been stolen or preventing people who have the right to vote from voting by claiming they don’t—the wildly corrupt attorney general of Texas recently had his staff spend 22,000 hours looking for voter fraud, at the end of which they turned up 16 cases of wrong addresses). It’s worth remembering that did not begin with Trump, since the Republican Party has long promulgated lies about, to name a top few, climate change and the impact of huge numbers of guns in civic life and the vanishingly small issue of voter fraud and the largely positive economic impact and low crime rates of immigrants.
Another way time has form is in looking forward to what is to come, and this too became scrambled; it felt as though anything might happen, and the ways in which the past—for example past presidencies—unfolded was no longer a guide to much of anything. There was a reasonable fear that 45 might try to suspend future elections and make his reign as long as his lifespan, but also the sense that abused victims have that escape may be impossible, that the situation was irremediable, and this too stretched the elastic that time had become. This was why in the immediate aftermath of the transition of power, a lot of people began to obsess about Trump running again and winning, which by 2024 seems to me to be extremely unlikely for a number of reasons.
Did laws matter? Did the Constitution? If they didn’t matter now would they matter later? One got tired of outrage, and then more outrages came. This week was a hungry cannibal that devoured last week. There had previously been a pattern to a scandal, which was an event that stood out, had consequences which prevented sequels, and suddenly there were endless scandals in that cloud of inconsequentiality.
The Trump era ended with an extraordinary attempt to stop history. I had always heard “make America great again” as a promise and threat to make time roll backward to an America where only white men wielded power and cis-gender heterosexuality was enforced by threat, violence, and law (which it still is to some extent, but the fact that this is changing is what drives the backlash of MAGA). Of course Trump wanted to hide forever in his presidential immunity from the lawsuits, civil and criminal, waiting for him just outside the gates of the White House, so he had a very specific history to stop.
And then very real violence—the January 6 coup—was used in an endeavor to make the Trump era without end, the election have no meaning, the facts be whatever raging white men armed with bear mace and flagpoles repurposed as spears wanted them to be. It was inane—a few hundred or thousand brawlers were not going to change the outcome of history in a way satisfactory to the world’s other nations or the public here—but their belief they could was part of the madness of people convinced that facts can be bullied too. It felt as if the United States was a woman who had filed for divorce from her abuser, and here he came in all his furious confusion, convinced he could terrorize her into patching things up.
There may be one salutary consequence of those four ugly years: the blithe confidence that “it can’t happen here” is gone, and people are more aware that rights and truth and justice need defending and are more willing to do the work. Dread is a sense of wanting time to stand still, lest worse things come; and loathing is a desire to get away from the monstrosity already present. Those were the bookends to the Trump era and in between them was this turmoil in the White House, and the government more broadly, but also in the nation and in our own heads. Let us not forget.
Rebecca Solnit’s first media job was in fact-checking and her last book is the memoir Recollections of My Nonexistence. She’s sent a lot of mail to her nieces and nephews during the pandemic. http://rebeccasolnit.net
In the 19th century, it was common for American workers to labor for 10 or more hours a day, six or even seven days a week. The struggle for the eight-hour day began in earnest in the 1860s, slowly winning the goal workplace by workplace, state by state, but always prone to reversal during economic depressions. Employers were dead set against it, claiming, as they continue to do today whenever workers call for a better deal, that should it prevail, it would be the permanent ruin of business, and all the jobs will disappear. Instead of the eight-hour day, in the words of railroad baron George Baer:
“The rights of the laboring man will be protected, and cared for, not by the labor agitator, but by the Christian men to whom God has given control of the property interests in this country.”
The battle for the eight-hour day built to a call for a general strike on May 1, 1886 answered by a third of a million workers across the country. But after the infamous events in Haymarket Square in Chicago — involving a bomb, an unknown perpetrator, and a police riot — the city’s employers and government unleashed a red scare, targeting the most effective immigrant worker organizers. It ended in the kangaroo court conviction and hanging of four men and continued imprisonment of three others. Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld, after examining the matter, pardoned and freed the prisoners, declaring their trial a miscarriage of justice.
The Haymarket martyrs’ cause was taken up by the newly formed Socialist International, which among its first orders of business designated May Day as a day of remembrance and called for its establishment as a workers’ holiday the world over. In one country after another, workers’ movements pushed employers and governments to recognize May 1 as a paid holiday and to establish the eight-hour workday as the standard. At times, the May 1 movement was met with bloody repression. In some places, it took a general strike to win the holiday and the eight-hour workday.
In the US, Labor Day in September was viewed as a safe alternative, a non-radical day of rest for workers, untainted with association with anarchism, socialism, and the Haymarket bombing. It took another half-century before the eight-hour day was made the standard workday in the United States with passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938.
Today, International Workers Day, or Labor Day as it is simply called in many places, is celebrated in close to 100 countries. Despite May Day’s lack of official recognition in the United States, the idea has been making a surprising comeback against traditional Cold War–era disapproval over the past few years. As a new generation becomes radicalized by the continuing failure of neoliberal capitalism to offer a viable future, perhaps the egalitarian ideas behind May Day will resonate with young people fighting against systemic racism, economic inequality and climate change, and for a better world.
H.R. 2590 seeks to promote justice, equality and human rights for Palestinian children and families by prohibiting Israeli authorities from using U.S. taxpayer funds to detain and torture Palestinian children, demolish and seize Palestinian homes, and further annex Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
1. Friday, 1:00pm – 2:00pm, Shut Down the Police Officers Association
SF Police Officers Association 800 Bryant St. (at 6th St) SF
Wear mask / social distancing
RESIST with Mothers on the March, Black and Brown for Justice, Peace and Equality, Family’s who loved ones have been killed by SFPD, and Community
– Demand the San Francisco Police Officers Association be Shut Down!
– The SF Police Officers Association Be Declared a Non Grata Organization
– Demand the Police Officers Bill of Rights be Abolished.
– Jail Killer Cops – we want killer cops to be charged with murder.
– Abolish the Police
After the trial of Chauvin in MN it is clear that ABOLISHION of the police with community control is the solution!
2. Friday, 3:00pm – 4:00pm, Stop Oil Exports / Support for Diane Wilson
Meet in the plaza
450 Golden Gate Ave. (where offices of Army Corps of Engineers are located) SF
Join SF CODEPINK and others in support of Diane Wilson.
On April 7th, 2021 4th-generation shrimper, activist, and author Diane Wilson began a hunger strike at the waterfront of Lavaca Bay to demand that the Biden Administration stop the dredging of the mercury-contaminated Matagorda Ship Channel, and ban crude oil exports.
Max Midstream wants to dredge the Matagorda Ship Channel, a mercury superfund site, for an oil export project. The dredging would unearth potentially devastating mercury contamination devastating fisheries that local communities are working to restore and revitalize. The project trashes the community and the climate to create profit for oil companies.
1. The historical relationship between the US and the Philippines and the dire consequences of its colonial dynamics.
2: The current situation in the Philippines under the Duterte dictatorship
3. The popular struggle for democracy against imperialism & the current demands of the Filipino people
4.How people in this country can support the struggle of the Filipino people and oppose the neo-colonial domination of the US
San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SFCHRP) and Malaya Movement SF, in collaboration with DSA SF, will provide us with an in depth presentation diving into these themes as well as a space for attendees to participate in a rich discussion.
4. Saturday, 9:00am – 1:00pm, May Day March And Rally
Clay St./Drumm SF
Mask / dress in red
Also see event # 5
Join DSA members from across the Bay Area as we march together in a huge May Day march to commemorate workers and rally for the PRO Act!
The PRO Act will remove steep barriers to union organizing – by expanding collective bargaining rights to more workers, banning anti-union “captive audience” meetings, and empowering the National Labor Relations Board. It is the most comprehensive labor law bill since Taft-Hartley skewed power towards employers in 1947.
Accessibility: Reply to registration to confirm requirements
Join us on May 1st as we recreate the famous 1934 May Day march up Market Street from the Embarcadero to Civic Center for a rally. Wear your union shirts and jackets!
Celebrations of International Workers’ Day, also called May Day, date back over 100 years to the fight for an eight-hour workday. In San Francisco, May 1 has also played host to a rich history of collective action by workers—and this year will be no different.
The triple threat of rising income inequality, racial injustice, and COVID-19 has hit working families hard. In order for our communities to emerge from this crisis healthy and prosperous, we need a just and equitable recovery for all.
That means building support for key legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which will empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize and negotiate for better wages and working conditions. It also means uniting together—no matter who we are or where we come from—to #StopAsianHate, proclaim that #BlackLivesMatter, ensure immigrants are safe and welcome in our communities, and fight to ensure that workers everywhere can live and work with the dignity and respect we all deserve.
Sponsoring groups: San Francisco Labor Council Alameda Labor Council Contra Costa Labor Council San Mateo Labor Council South Bay Labor Council APALA San Francisco Chapter SEIU Local 1021 IFPTE Local 21
On May 1st, at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, JVP-LA is having a unique live zoom event with four young Palestinian women from the refugee camps in Lebanon. These are the descendants of Palestinians expelled by Zionist paramilitary gangs in 1948 who are still living the harsh legacy of al-Nakba (the Catastrophe). These young women represent the 3rd and 4th generations of Palestinians living as stateless refugees in Lebanon because Israel and the United States refuse to recognize their right to return to their homes in Palestine.
7. Saturday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, March For Our Elders
Portsmouth Square 733 Kearny St SF
We will be marching from Portsmouth Square to Chinatown Tunnel to San Francisco’s City Hall to raise awareness for the rise in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes and rhetoric, demand justice for our elders & victims of hate crimes, and to celebrate the diversity of Asian American culture.
March guidelines: – NO VIOLENCE – NO HATE SPEECH – Bring Masks & Social Distancing – Bring Your Own Sign – Bring your own country’s flag (Optional)
JUSTICE FOR ASIAN ELDERS! JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF HATE CRIMES! STAND UP FOR JUSTICE! SPEAK UP FOR JUSTICE! SPEAK OUT FOR JUSTICE!
8. Saturday, 2:30pm – 6:00pm, May Day Oakland 2021 (Car caravan)
Lake Merritt BART Station 8th & Madison Sts. Oakland
Gather at 2:30pm for a car caravan starting 3pm at Lake Merritt BART station. Caravan will make stops at Whole Foods to support all essential workers & at Lake Merritt Amphitheater to support the family of Mario Gonzales & all victims of police terror. Caravan is ending with a rally at a to-be-disclosed location at 5pm.
2020 and early 2021 will forever be remembered as a time of ferocious solidarity in the streets, an explosion of mutual aid projects, and a wave of wildcat strikes, rent strikes, and workers organizing for unions, livable wages, & basic protections.
2021 is the Year of the US Political Prisoner and we will continue efforts to free Mumia Abu Jamal and all political prisoners fighting against the US empire.
On May Day 2021 in Oakland, we celebrate the fighters, the builders, and everyone who found creative ways to stand together here on Turtle Island and in solidarity with oppressed people worldwide fighting US occupation and oppression.
See site for list of endorsers
Hosts: People’s Strike Bay Area, Ella Baker Center, POOR Magazine, + 10 Other groups
webinar will announce the launch of BanKillerDrones, a new campaign for an international treaty to ban weaponized drones and military and police drone surveillance. This comes at the moment when the Biden Administration is reportedly looking to increase U.S. drone killing and drone surveillance as key to retaining some level of colonial control in Afghanistan, under the guise of countering Al Qaeda, as U.S. troops are removed. The reality appears to be that U.S. drones, and other U.S. military aircraft, will continue to support U.S. special forces operating in Afghanistan. A New York Times article on April 15 indicates that drone killing will be even more at the center of global U.S. military policy, quoting U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin: “’There’s probably not a space on the globe that the United States and its allies can’t reach,’ Mr. Austin told reporters.” Civilians continue to be the primary casualties of drone war.
participated in the first protest in the U.S. against killing by remote control in 2009, shortly after President Obama made assassination by Predator and Reaper drones the cornerstone of his military policy. He has participated in nonviolent protests around the country and abroad as this deadly technology has been proliferating.
(See registration for more info)
serves on World BEYOND War’s Advisory Board. She has traveled to war zones and lived alongside ordinary people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, Bosnia, Haiti and Nicaragua. She and her companions in Voices in the Wilderness and then Voices for Creative Nonviolence believed the U.S. should end all U.S. military and economic warfare.
(See registration for more info)
author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is cofounder and executive director of World BEYOND War and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.
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retired in 2000 from the U.S. Navy at the rank of Commander after twenty years of active duty service. Her career included duty stations in Iceland, Bermuda, Japan and Tunisia and in 1997, was chosen to be the Navy Military Fellow at the MIT Security Studies program. Leah received an MA in National Security and Strategic Affairs from the Naval War College in 1994. After retirement, she became very active in Veterans For Peace.
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Host: World Beyond War
11. Sunday, 11:00am – 12:30pm, Move the Chi for Multiracial Solidarity
Visitation Valley Park – Playground 263 Leland Ave. SF
Masks / comfortable shoes
*This park is being petitioned to be renamed Yik Oi Huang Peace and Friendship Park after Yik Oi Huang, who at the age of 89 was attacked while exercising at this park. Her injuries led to her death one year later in 2020.
Join us for a community practice of the Chinese healing art of chi gung in response to the rise of anti-AAPI incidents of hate and violence.
We will learn gentle movements to move our chi (energy) through feelings such as rage, fear or shame.
We will cultivate positive chi (energy) to create interconnectedness, genuine security, and collective action against all forms of racism and violence.
Join us to embody community healing, safety, and multiracial solidarity.
All ages and abilities welcome. Event will be in English and Cantonese.
Sponsors: Communities As One, Chinese Medicine and Magic, Chinese Progressive Association, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges
David Bacon, photo-journalist, author and activist, will speak about the current immigration reform proposals, especially as they affect farmworkers and indigenous migrants. Conservative pundits charge that the arrival of people at the border is a new crisis, yet the roots of displacement and migration are deep and go back many decades. He will talk about the roots of migration and their relationship with U.S. economic, trade and military policy.
David will address the questions: How can we understand the current controversy in Washington DC about immigration policy? How much of a change have we seen, or can we expect, from the policies of the previous administration? And what can an ordinary person do to support social change and the human rights of migrants and workers?
Environmental crimes in Nigeria and Ecuador. Support for Myanmar fascist military dictatorship. Spills, explosions, lobbying $$$: Chevron’s heinous record of human rights abuse, poisoning of global & local communities exposed.
Speakers: • Paul Paz y Miño, Amazon Watch • Andrés Soto, Communities for a Better Environment • Jed Holtzman, 350 Bay Area
14, Wednesday 3:00pm, Stolen Land/Hoarded Resources Tour Thru Akkkademia
Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology Berkeley
See site for map of location
Covid precautions – masks etc
Walk with Indigenous, Black, Brown, Houseless and Disabled Peoples to lay down prayers ,share medicine of Radical redistribution, ComeUnity reparations & take back Culture, Land, Ancestors, neighborhoods, and Knowledge Warehoused, Displaced, Incarcerated and/or Stolen by extractive institutions of knowledge production.
This is not a protest, this is about sharing the medicine of redistribution and community reparations because we are all in a crisis of scarcity, land stealing and wealth-hoarding and need to understand there is a different way to live and walk interdependently
The Stolen Land/hoarded Resources Tours were launched on 2016 MamaEarth Day – by indigenous, Houseless, Disabled Black , Brown and Poor Youth, adults and Elders who “Toured” through gated, poLiced, Guarded and protected neighborhoods of extreme wealth from Park Avenue to SillyCon Valley- loosely based on the Bhoodan Movement of India launched by Vinoba Bhave who walked through India asking wealthy “land-owners” to gift their land back to landless peoples
“Many of us houseless UC students have nowhere else to stay, that’s who UC Berkeley is displacing with their removal plans at Peoples Park,” said Marci, one of the hundreds of unhoused students of UC Berkeley staying parttime at Peoples Park.
Co-sponsored by POORmagazine/PrensaPobre,Indians Organizing for Change ,Krio HopNation SFBayview Newspaper All ComeUnities welcome to walk with us /co-sponsor /pray and /or speak
If the economic policy Joe Biden put out tonight sounds incredibly progressive, it’s because the bar has been set so incredibly low.
Biden did something tonight that no Democrat has done in my adult lifetime: He talked about how important it is to raise taxes on the rich. He also talked about a critical issue: “We the people are the government.”
And he said that climate change will mean millions of new jobs.
Jimmy Carter cut taxes on corporations. Bill Clinton supported the neoliberal agenda. Even Barack Obama never made a point of talking about taxes on the rich.
CNN’s Jake Tapper called it “the most progressive agenda from a Democrat since LBJ or maybe even Franklin Roosevelt.”
Here’s what Biden said:
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There are good guys and women on Wall Street, but Wall Street did not build this country, the middle class built this country and unions built the middle class …
So, how do we pay for my jobs and family plans? I made it clear that we could do it without increasing the deficit. Let’s start with what I — I will not impose any tax increase on anyone making less than $400,000, but it’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1 percent to begin to pay their fair share. Just their fair share.
This isn’t radical at all. Biden never said that billionaires should pay taxes at the level that they did under Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Nixon. He’s not talking about class warfare.
But it’s a huge deal because Democrats for so many years have been afraid of taxes – and afraid of even mentioning the 1 percent. Afraid of supporting organized labor.
Recent studies show that 55 of the nation’s biggest corporations pay zero federal tax — paid zero federal tax last year. Those 55 corporations made in excess of $40 billion in profit. A lot of companies. Also reviewed tax in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands. And they benefit from tax loopholes for having offshore jobs and shifting profits overseas. It is not right. We are going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from as well.
When 20 million Americans lost their jobs in the pandemic working in middle-class Americans. — Working and middle-class Americans. At the same time, roughly 650 billionaires in America saw their net worth increased by more than $1 trillion, the same exact period. They are now worth more than $4 trillion. My fellow Americans, trickle-down economics has never worked and it is time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out.
Except, of course, for people who don’t have a boat.
So Biden has called for higher taxes on the rich. He has challenged neoliberal orthodoxy. He has said in public that too many big corporations don’t pay their fair share in taxes.
Again, this isn’t anything that smacks of socialism, although the Republicans are going to say that.
It’s a recognition that the mainstream of the Democratic Party has shifted on economic issues.
That, I think, is due to two factors: Bernie Sanders and young voters.
Sanders electrified millions of people with a message that addressed economic inequality. He, by force of his persistence and his platform, has moved the Democratic Party so far to the left that Biden – who has always been someone who lived in the center of the party – has had to shift with it.
And the next generation of voters – people who were told that college would get them into the middle class but now struggle with massive student loans, people who see the impacts of economic inequality every day – are with Sanders.
And Biden knows that.
Oh, and listen to this: Biden called on Congress
To root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system and enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that has passed the House already.
He is the first Democratic president in history, I think, to use the words “systemic racism in our criminal justice system.”
That, of course, is not Biden’s political legacy. He was a tough-on-crime senator who is responsible in part for the horrifying history of mass incarceration of Black people.
But he’s a savvy politician – and he knows the world has changed. He stood tonight for the first time in front of two women, including the first Black woman ever to hold one of the two top offices in the land — for a speech that had historic potential. (Oh, and both of the women on the podium were San Franciscans.)
So tonight’s speech was a product not of Biden but of Sanders and Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street and so many other organizers and activists who have forced the mainstream of political debate to the left.
And people who have tried since Ronald Reagan to say that government is the solution, not the problem.
We’re not there yet. But let’s take a moment and say we are making progress.
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
The explosive growth of American suburbs following World War II promised not only a new place to live but a new way of life, one away from the crime and crowds of the city. Yet, by the 1970s, the expected security of suburban life gave way to a sense of endangerment. Perceived, and sometimes material, threats from burglars, kidnappers, mallrats, toxic waste, and even the occult challenged assumptions about safe streets, pristine parks, and the sanctity of the home itself. In Neighborhood of Fear, Kyle Riismandel examines how suburbanites responded to this crisis by attempting to take control of the landscape and reaffirm their cultural authority.
Suburbia is a collective effort to lead a private life.
An increasing sense of criminal and environmental threats, Riismandel explains, coincided with the rise of cable television, VCRs, Dungeons & Dragons, and video games, rendering the suburban household susceptible to moral corruption and physical danger. Terrified in almost equal measure by heavy metal music, the Love Canal disaster, and the supposed kidnapping epidemic implied by the abduction of Adam Walsh, residents installed alarm systems, patrolled neighborhoods, built gated communities, cried “Not in my backyard!,” and set strict boundaries on behavior within their homes. Riismandel explains how this movement toward self-protection reaffirmed the primacy of suburban family values and expanded their parochial power while further marginalizing cities and communities of color, a process that facilitated and was facilitated by the politics of the Reagan revolution and New Right.
A novel look at how Americans imagined, traversed, and regulated suburban space in the last quarter of the twentieth century, Neighborhood of Fear shows how the preferences of the suburban middle class became central to the cultural values of the nation and fueled the continued growth of suburban political power.
In April 2014, Buddy Roemer became a partner at The Young Turks, an online progressive news network founded and run by Cenk Uygur. Roemer’s firm – Roemer, Robinson, Melville & Co, LLC – invested $4 million into the company. According to Uygur, the two met and bonded over their shared support of campaign finance reform, an issue that both Uygur and Roemer support and have spoken about extensively for many years. According to their investment agreement, Roemer’s firm is granted a seat on The Young Turks’ advisory board, but does not enjoy editorial or content control.
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Mail Bag Episode Announcing: our very first mailbag episode of the Medicare for All podcast! Live this Monday at 11AM ET on Facebook, Twitter, & Youtube. Submit your most pressing questions about organizing, politics, policy, or something completely off the radar that would be fun and entertaining to talk about on air: SUBMIT A QUESTION Joining us for our inaugural mailbag is Rose Roach, Executive Director of the Minnesota Nurses. Together, we’ll answer the questions we love and also the questions we hate! Get your question about the Medicare for All movement into the mailbag and then tune in on Monday at 11AM ET to watch us… Continue reading →
Senate Democrats will soon face a choice: protect our democracy and pass the For the People Act, or protect the filibuster – an outdated and abused “Jim Crow relic.” The crisis facing our democracy couldn’t be more real, and – thanks to existential threats like the climate crisis – couldn’t be more urgent. That’s why we need climate hawks like you to get involved in the fight to restore our democracy. We’ve asked you to sign petitions. Now it’s time for the next step: a virtual town hall with Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Elizabeth Warren next Monday, May 17… Continue reading →
Join us on Monday, May 17th as we talk with Representative Chuy Garcia, talk about our organizing in West Virginia and Arizona, and highlight some progressive candidates running for local offices! RSVP NOW
#30RightNow Month Of Action The campaign to get rent relief for supportive housing tenants in this year’s budget cycle is well underway, and we have a whole week of actions for the cause. Read our policy statement here! The biggest announcement is that the #30RightNow campaign will be holding an in-person rally on Tuesday, May 18 at 1:00 p.m. in front of City Hall to demand the mayor fund the 30% rent standard in all supportive housing in this year’s budget cycle. We ask that all attendees follow COVID-19 protocols and have at least one shot of the vaccine. Press release can be found… Continue reading →
You are invited to join CODEPINK CONGRESS, our new campaign to mobilize co-sponsors and votes for peace legislation! Tuesday Capitol Calling Party: Stop US Support for Saudi Arabia Tuesday, May 18, 5 pm PT/8 pm ET RSVP NOW! Featuring Sunjeev Berry, executive director of Freedom Forward, which works to end the U.S’s cozy alliance with Saudi Arabia. Abdullah Alaoudh, research director at DAWN (Democracy for the Arab World Now), which was founded by murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. For years, the US has been selling billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia even though, since the end of Obama’s term, they… Continue reading →
Public Bank of the East Bay Posted by LaborSolidarityCommittee WHEN: May 18, 2021 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm Repeats WHERE: ONLINE, VIA ‘ZOOM’ MEETING We meet over Zoom. If you’d like to join us, and aren’t on our organizers’ list, drop us an email and we’ll send you an invitation. If you would like to join the meeting early and get an introduction to the concepts of public banking, or more locally to who we are and what we do, please email us and we’ll see you online at 6:30. Donate to keep us moving forward It is the mission of Public Bank East… Continue reading →
2nd Annual People’s Assembly on BlackRock CODEPINK will join this year’s BlackRock People’s Assembly on Wednesday, May 19, at 4pm ET/1pm PT. It will be an inspiring 90-minute global event kicking off a week of actions leading up to BlackRock’s annual meeting. Space is limited — reserve your spot now! BlackRock—the world’s largest asset manager, with massive investments that drive both environmental destruction and human rights violations—has made multiple high-profile commitments, while still pouring billions into fossil fuels, deforestation….and nuclear weapons. We are excited to announce that Representative Rashida Tlaib will be joining the People’s Assembly as a featured speaker —… Continue reading →
Join us Thursday for another engaging conversation on our national organizing call at 6PM EST. We’ll be discussing the Supreme court and Birddog strategies with Center for Popular Democracy’s very own Julia Peters from CPD’s Innovation Team! We’ll also be discussing Medicare-for-all and Senate filibuster updates happening in our progressive fight. Hope to see you all Thursday at 6PM. Register here to join! Thank you, Innovations, Center for Popular Democracy CPD Action 449 Troutman Street, Suite A Brooklyn, NY 11237 United States