Tag Archives: California

His name was Stephon Clark, young father of two, and we failed him fatally

Image result for Stephon Clark

The rather opportunist Al Sharpton plans to attend the funeral of Stephon Clark (pictured above) in my city of Sacramento, California, on Thursday. Clark, the 22-year-old father of two, was shot to death by two Sacramento police officers on March 18 but had had only a smartphone in his hand. A little-discussed wrinkle in this racially charged incident, however, is that one of the two cops who shot Clark to death is black, as is Sacramento’s police chief.

As I’ve noted before, you have to take these cases of cops killing black men case by case. There is no one-size-fits-all narrative, as politically convenient and personally satisfying as such narratives may be.

For instance, Eric Garner, in my book, was murdered, choked to death by a thug posing as a police officer.

And Walter Scott by any reasonable person’s book was murdered, shot in the back as he ran away from a coward posing as a police officer.

Both black men were unarmed. Garner’s “crime” for which he was put to death by cop was illegally selling cigarettes on the street, and Scott’s was a broken brake light. The cop who murdered Garner remains free, while the cop who murdered Scott sits in prison (albeit he technically was found guilty of civil rights violations, not of murder).

Again, each case must be taken by itself. The Michael Brown case, for instance, spawned a movement that was based on some lies, probably especially the ubiquitous “[my] hands [are] up — don’t shoot!” meme.

The Barack Obama/Eric Holder U.S. Department of Justice’s own final report on the Michael Brown matter found that the physical evidence, including the autopsy of Brown, corroborated white cop Darren Wilson’s version of what had happened, which is that “gentle giant” Brown had not tried to surrender to him with his hands raised in the air, but instead had attacked him and tried to take his pistol from him.

The last page of the Obama/Holder DOJ report concludes:

… As discussed above, Darren Wilson has stated his intent in shooting Michael Brown was in response to a perceived deadly threat. The only possible basis for prosecuting Wilson under section 242 would therefore be if the government could prove that his account is not true – i.e., that Brown never assaulted Wilson at the SUV, never attempted to gain control of Wilson’s gun, and thereafter clearly surrendered in a way that no reasonable officer could have failed to perceive.

Given that Wilson’s account is corroborated by physical evidence and that his perception of a threat posed by Brown is corroborated by other eyewitnesses, to include aspects of the testimony of Witness 101, there is no credible evidence that Wilson willfully shot Brown as he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat.

Even if Wilson was mistaken in his interpretation of Brown’s conduct, the fact that others interpreted that conduct the same way as Wilson precludes a determination that he acted with a bad purpose to disobey the law. The same is true even if Wilson could be said to have acted with poor judgment in the manner in which he first interacted with Brown, or in pursuing Brown after the incident at the SUV.

These are matters of policy and procedure that do not rise to the level of a Constitutional violation and thus cannot support a criminal prosecution. Cf. Gardner v. Howard, 109 F.3d 427, 430–31 (8th Cir. 1997) (violation of internal policies and procedures does not in and of itself rise to violation of Constitution).

Because Wilson did not act with the requisite criminal intent, it cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt to a jury that he violated 18 U.S.C.§ 242 when he fired his weapon at Brown.

VI. Conclusion
For the reasons set forth above, this matter lacks prosecutive merit and should be closed.

Indeed, case closed. Legally, anyway, but the myth of Michael Brown lives on, because the myth still is politically useful and personally satisfying to so many.

Unfortunately, in the Brown case the black community rallied around the wrong case. If I had ever tried to take a cop’s gun away from him (or her), I wouldn’t expect to be sitting here typing this sentence — and I am a white male.

The Brown case unfortunately immediately was turned into an inherently-racist-and-murderous-white-cop-vs.-inherently-innocent-young-black-man-guilty-only-of-being-black myth. According to the DOJ report on the Brown case, bystanders had lied through their teeth about what they had witnessed — very apparently in order to perpetuate the lie that every time a white cop shoots a black male, it only can be rooted in racism (and not, say, in very immediate self-defense because the black male is trying to take your gun from you).

The recent shooting death here in Sacramento of 22-year-old black man Stephon Clark also has some wrinkles that aren’t convenient to the aforementioned narrative that (only) white cops shoot young black men willy-nilly: One of the two cops who are reported to have shot Clark to death is black (see here too), as is Sacramento’s police chief, Sacramento native Daniel Hahn.

Hahn has said that he suspects that Clark was the man reported to have been breaking the windows of vehicles in a Sacramento neighborhood on March 18 before he was confronted by two cops in his grandparents’ backyard and shot to death.

All that Clark had in his possession, however, was a smartphone, and from the police helicopter video of the shooting, I cannot see that it was necessary for Clark to be shot even once, much more 20 times.* (A police body-camera video of the shooting that also was released does not give any more insight than does the helicopter video, other than that the cops apparently were trigger-happy; I struggle to even see Clark in the body-cam video at all until a while after he has been shot and is on the ground.)

I am not an expert in the excusable use of police force, but in the videos I don’t see Clark raising anything in the direction of the police officers or otherwise appearing to pose an immediate threat to them; I only see him being shot many times, apparently even after he already has fallen to the ground.

In the police helicopter video, before he is shot by the two cops it certainly looks like Clark isn’t up to any good, but running from police, probably especially if you are a black man, isn’t in and of itself indicative that you are dangerous and/or criminal; it always could be that you’re simply scared of being shot 20 times.

And even if Clark is guilty of having committed property crimes, there are penalties for that — and those penalties don’t include summary execution.

And it’s probably fair to say that many if not most white (and many other non-white) people do need to learn that human life — all human life — is far more important than is fucking property.

All of that said, it largely to totally has been ignored in the local protests over Stephon Clark’s shooting death that one of the cops who shot him — and the city’s police chief — are black. And I have to suspect that that’s because those two pieces of information aren’t convenient to the narrative that it’s only ever white cops and white chiefs of police who unjustly shoot and who support the unjust shootings of black men.

Sacramento has had some localized protests since Clark’s death, but it’s not at all like the city has been shut down, and to my knowledge not one person even has been hospitalized because of the protests. So it’s not like Sacramento has been enveloped in a conflagration, and many more Sacramentans have been touched by the heavy local media coverage than those who actually have been touched by any of the localized protests.

And again, I have to wonder if that outcome might have been different — if the protests might even have turned deadly — if Sacramento’s police chief weren’t black and if one of the two cops who shot Clark weren’t black. Does the race of the actors, rather than the acts themselves, matter that much? I suspect that it does.

Nonetheless, we need to continue to have the discussion about race and policing, and we have to examine where racism and police culture overlap, because very apparently there is a police culture that all cops can get sucked into, regardless of their race, and very apparently part of that police culture is the underlying belief that black lives do not matter as much as do white (and other non-black) lives.

And unnecessary police shooting after unnecessary police shooting amply proves that we must develop — and require the use of — non-lethal ways of neutralizing those we suspect of having committed a crime and/or of being about to commit a crime.

And for fuck’s sake we must stop executing people on the spot for property crimes, and we must hold every human being’s life as sacred. And we must prosecute — really prosecute — cops who don’t value human life, just as we prosecute the criminals who don’t value human life.

If we learn nothing else from the case of Stephon Clark, we need to learn that much.

*Since almost everyone in the world but I carries a smartphone, it seems to me that cops now have complete immunity to mistake or “mistake” smartphones for hand-held weapons. That is something with which we must as a society grapple — and fix.

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Waiting for President Bernie Sanders (and/or a rematch of the Civil War…)

New York Times news photo

Last week illegitimate U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III had the fucking gall to come to my city of Sacramento and proclaim that California may not “secede,” actually comparing California’s intent and desire to protect the most vulnerable among us to the South’s attempt to preserve the slavery of black people. (In his hateful little lecture-speech to California, the most populous state of the nation by a margin of more than 10 million people over the next-most-populous state, the Nazi elf brought up the pro-slavery John C. Calhoun but for some reason didn’t remind us that his first and middle names have very special meaning in the South.)

My regular readers (there are at least a handful of them) will have noticed that during the illegitimate reign of the unelected Pussygrabber regime* my blogging has dropped off considerably.

It’s that I can’t blog on every outrage. There are far too many of them these days (and weeks and months).

I will comment on one recent outrage, however: the Pussygrabber Department of “Justice” suing my state of California over its being, by state law since January 1, a “sanctuary state” and Pussygrabber regime Attorney General Jeff Sessions proclaiming that California may not “secede.”

(Specifically, Sessions proclaimed that “There is no nullification. There is no secession. Federal law is the supreme law of the land. I would invite any doubters to go to Gettysburg or to the tombstones of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln. This matter has been settled.” Yes, he went there.)

Funny: Nazi elf Sessions’ Southern ilk wanted to secede — and did secede, even before President Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated after his first election, for fuck’s sake — in order to be able to continue to mistreat human beings abhorrently (indeed, the pro-slavery white Southerners didn’t consider the black slaves to even be human beings).

Yet when California wishes to protect human rights, human dignity and human well-being, Jeff Fucking Sessions, a treasonous piss-ant piece of shit, has the fucking gall to actually liken California to the slave-owning Southern states that had their asses handed to them on a silver platter by us slave-liberating Northerners. (Yes, of course, California was a Union state, unlike Jeffy’s backasswards, treasonous state of Alabama.)

Here’s the deal on “sanctuary cities” in California (and the fact that by state law the entire state is a “sanctuary state”): One, these “sanctuary” jurisdictions have been around in California for decades now and so aren’t new. And two, no California elected official, whether on the city, county, state or any other level, wants to just allow violently felonious “illegals” (a.k.a. “bad hombres”) to murder and rape fine white California citizens on his or her watch. That’s what you call bad politics.

Therefore, no, “sanctuary” jurisdictions do not protect violent felons who are in the country illegally. (As the Los Angeles Times notes, “The [“sanctuary state”] law prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using personnel or funds to hold or question people, or share information about them with federal immigration agents, unless they have been convicted of one or more offenses from a list of 800 crimes.” [Emphasis mine.])

No, the idea of “sanctuary” jurisdictions is that law-abiding residents (those who haven’t committed serious crimes, anyway; almost all of us in the U.S., citizen or not, have committed at least misdemeanors during our lifetimes, whether we’re ever charged with those misdemeanors or not), whether they are here legally or not, don’t have to feel terrorized by storm troopers from ICE — a bunch of mostly right-wing, authoritarian, hypocritical white men with fascist tendencies if they’re not already full-blown fascists who get off on terrorizing others even for nonviolent legal infractions (such as merely existing where they’re “not supposed to” exist). This makes their fucking fascist day, you see.

And the idea of “sanctuary” jurisdictions also is that no resident in California, whether here legally or not, is too afraid to report a crime committed against him or her and/or against others because of his or her and/or the others’ citizenship status. Or is too afraid to testify or otherwise appear in a court of law. Or too afraid to seek medical care for himself or herself or another because of his or her citizenship status. Or to even to just go to school or to just take his or her child or children to school.

And the idea of “sanctuary” jurisdictions is that families (chosen families as well as biological families, in my book) aren’t ripped apart. It’s in society’s interests that that doesn’t happen. (The Repugnican Party is supposed to be all about the family, but of course that’s only white, Repugnican-voting families.)

Still, even being a “sanctuary state,” as Vox.com notes, “California, like any other ‘sanctuary’ jurisdiction, isn’t stopping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from being able to arrest, detain, or deport immigrants. In fact, ICE has already responded to the 2017 laws in its own way — by escalating raids in California and claiming that the state’s sanctuary laws force ICE to get more aggressive in its tactics.”

Indeed, the unelected and thus illegitimate Pussygrabber regime’s acting head of ICE, Thomas Homan — of course yet another stupid, fascist white man — in January proclaimed (of course) on Faux “News”/state television, “California better hold on tight. They are about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers.”

This moronic fascist who heads ICE demonstrates the need for California to protect its most politically vulnerable residents. And I’d gladly trade one stupid white man like Homan for 1,000 “illegals,” the vast majority of whom are hard-working and law-abiding.

(Indeed, non-citizens are less likely to commit crimes in the U.S. than are U.S. citizens. This isn’t shocking, as the vast majority of those who are not here legally quite obviously don’t have the strong desire to draw negative attention to themselves, be that by voting illegally or murdering and raping and pillaging and plundering, although it’s awfully interesting that the traitors on the right proclaim that the “illegals” are interested in both murdering and raping and in voting, because, you know, our prisons are filled with felons — bad hombres — who put voting illegally at the top of their lists of their favorite crimes to commit. [“You just raped and murdered a beautiful young white woman! What are you going to do now?” “I’m going to go vote!”])

Since Nazi elf Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III went there first, I’ll say it again: The North acted to stop the South’s terrorizing of brown-skinned human beings there. Now, the South thinks that it’s going to invade the North to terrorize the brown-skinned human beings here.

A second fight with California and the rest of the North** is not a fight that the mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, MAGA-cap-wearing, Confederate-flag-waving fascists want to pick.

But, alas, as much as I often think that Abraham Lincoln’s No. 1 mistake is that he didn’t destroy the South entirely, but let way too many of the inbred traitors there live only to continue to drag down the entire nation to today, it most likely won’t come to that.

What’s more likely to happen is that the Repugnican traitors lose the U.S. House of Representatives in November. Then, “President” Pussygrabber is neutered. (True, expect him and his band of fellow traitors and criminals to do as much damage as they possibly can until then and even afterwards.)

Then, after November 2020, ideally we’ll have both houses of Congress controlled by the Democratic Party, as woefully imperfect as the Democratic Party is, and we’ll have President Bernie Sanders in the Oval Office.***

Maybe the red states will try to secede again between Bernie’s election and his inauguration, and they’ll get that rematch of the Civil War that they — and many of us on the other side — are itching for.

*Again, to me, if you did not win the popular vote, then you are not legitimately the president, as the majority of the American people did not select you. This is the case with “President” Pussygrabber as it was the case with “President” George W. Bush (whose “re”-“election” also was bullshit, since you can’t legitimately be elected again if you never were elected legitimately in the first fucking place). 

**By “North” and “South” and “Northern” and “Southern,” I sometimes refer not (only) to the regions (the blue states and the red states), but (also) to the fascist/anti-democratic/treasonous and non-fascist/democratic/patriotic mindsets of the South and the North respectively; of course a person could be in the North but be a Southerner at heart and vice-versa.

***PredictIt.org, as I type this sentence, has the Democrats more likely to take over the White House in November 2020 than Pussygrabber is likely to keep his job, and has Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden tied for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination.

I am not at all on Team Biden. I see him as a male Billary Clinton, a Democrat in name only (well, maybe he’s a little to the left of Billary, but she’s so far to the right that it’s a pretty insignificant distinction), and I don’t think that has-been, faux-progressive populist Biden will be able to overcome the enthusiasm that Bernie, a genuine progressive populist, generates.

Biden has, after all, run for the White House twice already. His plagiarism scandal of 1987 (which apparently wasn’t an isolated incident of plagiarism) speaks to his character, methinks, as does his mistreatment of Anita Hill in 1991.

Hopefully the changes that supposedly are being made within the Democratic National Committee after the fucking fiasco that was 2016 will mean that Biden won’t simply be coronated, like Queen Billary was.

Should anything like what happened to Bernie Sanders in 2016 repeat itself in 2020, what’s left of the Democratic Party can count the number of days that it has left; the Democratic Party already is on life support right now.

What support the party has now comes more from fear and loathing of the fascists who comprise the Repugnican Party than from real love and respect for the Dem Party, which lost its spine and veered away from progressivism no later than in the 1990s.

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Kevin de León denies Sen. Cryptkeeper state Democratic Party endorsement

Image result for Kevin De Leon Dianne Feinstein

California State Sen. President Kevin de León (pictured above left) yesterday won 54 percent of the vote of the delegates at the annual state Democratic Party convention in San Diego, a crushing blow to Sen. Dianne “Cryptkeeper” Feinstein (above right), whose name depressingly and oppressively has been on the ballot for the past 25 years. Cryptkeeper won only 37 percent of the delegates’ votes — 485 fewer votes than de León won.

Wow. For a little while I was a little worried about Kevin de León’s bravely insurgent campaign for the U.S. Senate seat for California that the ancient, Democrat-in-name-only Dianne Feinstein — whom I lovingly think of as “Cryptkeeper” — has held with a death grip since 1992.

No more.

Not only did de León recently win the endorsement of the nation’s largest state’s largest public-sector union, the Service Employees International Union (for once the Billary-Clinton-loving union to which I belong got a political endorsement right), but yesterday at the annual state Democratic Party convention, de León handily denied Cryptkeeper the state party’s endorsement.

It’s a high bar to win the state party’s endorsement — a vote of at least 60 percent of the delegates to the convention — but not only did de León deny Cryptkeeper that 60 percent, but he blew her out of the water: De León won 54 percent of the delegates’ votes to Cryptkeeper’s 37 percent.

Again: Wow.

The Los Angeles Times calls it “an embarrassing rebuke of” Cryptkeeper and notes that “Though de León did not get the endorsement, his success in blocking Feinstein from receiving it shows that his calls for generational change and a more aggressively liberal path have resonated with some of the party’s most passionate activists.”

Of course multi-millionaire Cryptkeeper, one of the wealthiest U.S. senators, has more campaign cash in the bank (including at least a cool $5 million that she gave herself) than does de León, and of course because of her name recognition (she has been around longer than has God), Cryptkeeper is polling better right now than is the much-less-known de León, but de León’s big wins — such as winning the majority of the state party delegates’ votes and winning not only SEIU’s endorsement but also the California Nurses Association’s — demonstrate that not only is de León a serious contender, but that plenty of Californians have had it with the plutocratic Cryptkeeper’s center-right bullshit and wish her gone.

I expect de León’s coffers to fill soon, and I expect his poll numbers to climb the more that Californians realize what a winner he is. And I expect more labor unions to endorse him, and without labor unions’ help, I can’t see Cryptkeeper winning. Her big money alone won’t be enough; she’ll have to actually earn enough votes.

The 84-year-old Cryptkeeper could have saved herself this embarrassment and stepped down, but she’s been tone-deaf to her constituency, who is to the left of her on many if not most issues, for years. The only reason that they’ve been re-electing her is that this is the first time that a viable alternative has emerged.

Cryptkeeper is no longer inevitable, and that’s great news not only for the people of California, but for all Americans who are affected by Cryptkeeper’s center-right votes in the U.S. Senate.

P.S. Also yesterday, California gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom (who also has been endorsed by SEIU) garnered more votes for a state party endorsement than did any other candidate, with 39 percent.

While DINO Antonio Villaraigosa and Newsom have been in the top two in polling, yesterday Villaraigosa came in at fourth place in the endorsement vote, garnering only 9 percent. (The second-place winner garnered 30 percent and the third-place winner garnered 20 percent, and because there are so many Democratic gubernatorial candidates, it wasn’t expected that any one of them would reach the 60-percent mark necessary for an endorsement from the state party.)

I expect Newsom, who is my imperfect-but-preferred candidate, to become California’s next governor.

Some are saying that these votes for state party endorsements reflect only the wishes of party insiders, but these so-called party insiders are dispersed throughout the state and they are opinion leaders. These state party endorsement votes aren’t meaningless, even though both de León and Newsom fell short of 60 percent (which, in my opinion, should be reduced to anything above 50 percent).

P.P.S. I should note that under California’s top-two primary system, the top-two vote-getters (regardless of party) in the state’s June 5 primary will move on to the November general election, and I expect the top two to be Kevin de León and Cryptkeeper. (In 2016, there were only two Democrats on the ballot for U.S. Senator for California, Kamala Harris and a nut job who didn’t stand a chance against Harris.)

Some have posited that because Cryptkeeper is center-right — that is, Repugnican Lite — the state’s Repugnicans will vote for her, figuring (correctly) that she’s closer to their political orientation than is de León.

But I don’t know about that. I’d have to see a poll or polls of registered Repugnicans that asks whether or not in a de León-vs.-Cryptkeeper race they’d vote for Cryptkeeper or not vote at all. I surmise that most of the state’s Repugs wouldn’t vote for a Dem, not even DINO Cryptkeeper.

In any event, for de León to win, it’s going to take grassroots support. He doesn’t need as much money as Cryptkeeper does, but he does need those of us who are left of center to vote.

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No, you actually don’t get a medal for voting in your own best interests

Roy Moore

Reuters news photo

Democrat Doug Jones, pictured above at his victory celebration, will represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate after yesterday’s special election in the deep-red state. Black Alabama voters are being praised for their high turnout, but they’re supposed to vote in their own best interests anyway, and I easily could argue that because black American voters supported the widely despised Billary Clinton over the much more popular Bernie Sanders by a margin of three to one, they were instrumental in putting “President” Pussygrabber into the White House — so the meme that black voters are saving the nation needs to stop right about right now…

I was happy to learn last night that Democratic candidate Doug Jones (to whom I gave $20…) beat Repugnican candidate Roy Moore in the special election for the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Nazi elf Jeff Sessions when he became U.S. attorney general.

For a left-wing Californian like me, Doug Jones is pretty centrist, but I get it: He ran in Alabama. And the alternative was “Christo”fascist Roy “Moses” Moore.

But I was disturbed today to hear the meme that this narrow victory (Jones reportedly won by around 1.5 percentage points) was brought to us by black voters.

Let’s unpack that:

About 27 percent of Alabamans are black (whereas nationally, blacks are about 13 percent of the population).

I would hope that the voters of Alabama of all races would vote in their own best fucking interests, and it was not in their own best interests to vote for backasswards sex criminal and far-right piece of shit and nut job Roy Moore.

Is the message that white Americans sure should be thankful that black Americans voted for Doug Jones — even though he is white? Are the black voters of Alabama to be praised for not being black supremacists?

I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and I didn’t expect a fucking Brownie button for having done so because I’m white; I perceived Obama as the most progressive yet still viable candidate, and therefore I voted for him.

Obama’s being biracial wasn’t high on my list of reasons for having voted for him (and it wasn’t at all on my list of reasons for being unable to vote for him again in 2012; it was how he lost the House of Representatives in the 2010 mid-term elections by having spectacularly squandered his political capital in 2009 and 2010 that prevented me from being able to vote for him again*).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over and over again: I vote for the most progressive yet still viable candidate; that is, I vote in my own best interests, at least as how I perceive them. I don’t give a rat’s ass about a candidate’s race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

Perhaps what I find most disturbing about the heaps of praise for the black voters of Alabama for simply having wisely voted in their own best interests is that it probably is going to be parlayed as a race-based quid pro quo: We black voters voted in white man Doug Jones, so now the Democratic Party had better make, say, Sen. Kamala Harris or Sen. Cory Booker its 2020 presidential candidate; if not, we black voters will bolt from the Democratic Party! You can’t win without us!

To that I say: OK, go ahead and bolt. I won’t be your fucking political hostage. Because the Democratic Party is not actually supposed to be the vehicle through which only 13 percent of the U.S. population gains political control over the entire fucking nation. That’s not democracy. That’s a race-based takeover of the entire fucking nation by a minority of Americans.

Should a black candidate be the most progressive yet still viable Democratic Party presidential candidate for 2020, he or she will have my full support. But it won’t be because he or she is black; it will be because he or she is the most progressive yet still viable candidate.

Thus far I don’t see Kamala Harris or Cory Booker as presidential material. Harris hasn’t done anything thus far — she hasn’t even been in the Senate for one full year yet, and anyway, as long as the Repugnicans control the Senate, what could she do? — and Booker is a fakey-fake, a self-serving corporate whore and a pathetic knock-off of the “Kumbaya”-singing Obama whom I find unacceptable.

(Deval Patrick, another black American whose name is bandied about as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, works for Mittens Romney’s Bain Capital; I’ll very probably pass on him, too. I rejected Billary Clinton in no tiny part because of her coziness with Wall Street, and I love Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in large part for their distaste of Wall Street and their refusal to be Clintonian corporate whores.)

Black Alabamans, I am glad that you voted en force to prevent Roy Moore from being your new U.S. senator (even though Alabama makes it as difficult as it can for you to be able to vote; you probably do deserve credit for your perseverance). But you did your civic duty, I think I’d argue. You are, after all, between a fourth and a third of the population of your state. Methinks that you probably don’t get special props for doing your civic duty and for voting in your own best interests.

I’ve voted consistently since I turned 18 — one could argue, I suppose, that voting is pointless, but I vote religiously because I know that the religious and the other assorted wingnuts vote religiously — and I expect no thanks or praise for doing what I should do anyway. (Yes, in fairness, California doesn’t put up as many roadblocks as possible to prevent Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters [or any voters] from being able to vote.)

It is sweet that Alabama’s new U.S. senator is a Democrat, but the bigger picture is that if the Democratic Party hasn’t learned what a losing game toxic identity politics is over the long run, then it will continue to — and it will deserve to — keep losing.**

Billary Clinton lost in November 2016 in no tiny part because she and her supporters basically told voters that if they didn’t vote for her, they’re sexist pieces of shit. Not only was this toxic-identity-politics message related to us “Bernie bros” relentlessly, but Team Billary even trotted out crone Madeleine Albright, a war criminal, to tell women that if they didn’t vote for Billary, they’d find themselves in “a special place in hell,” to which Billary gave one of her grating cackles.

Calling Democratic voters “racist” for rejecting a black presidential candidate who, like Billary, is a center-right Democrat in name only, will result in yet another instance of the Democratic Party snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. You can’t win a national election by catering to 13 percent of the national population. That’s just called math.

*While I didn’t vote for Obama again in 2012 because I don’t believe in rewarding an elected official who has violated his or her campaign promises by voting for him or her again, let me be clear that it was safe for me to decline to vote for Obama in 2012 because I live in California, and it was a foregone conclusion that Obama would win California and all of its electoral votes in 2012 as he did in 2008. So shut the fuck up and educate yourself about the Electoral College.

**Largely because of toxic identity politics, a while ago I switched my voter registration from Democratic to independent. I approach 50 years old and it’s the first time in my life that I’ve been registered as an independent (I’d only ever been registered with the Democratic Party and with the Green Party before I switched to independent).

After the pro-corporate, anti-populist, center-right Democratic Party establishment royally fucked over Bernie Sanders, I left the Democratic Party and I won’t ever return to it until and unless it earns my support by ceasing and desisting with the Clintonian bullshit, which includes pushing identity politics while ignoring our grave socioeconomic problems, since our corporate overlords and campaign contributors don’t much care about identity politics but sure the fuck don’t want the socioeconomic status quo to be threatened.

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Kevin de León for U.S. Senate

Come January 2019, current California state Senate President Kevin de León, pictured left, should join Kamala Harris, pictured right, representing California in the U.S. Senate. Fivethirtyeight.com recently has noted that incumbent “Democratic” Sen. Dianne “Cryptkeeper” Feinstein “has voted in support of President Trump’s agenda 31 percent of the time,” which is “a bigger pro-Trump gap than any other Democrat in the Senate.”

In 2016, I’d really wanted California to elect a Latino or Latina U.S. senator to replace the retiring Barbara Boxer, but unfortunately, the Latina who ran in 2016 (Loretta Sanchez) is a nut job who, had she been elected, would have embarrassed the state continually.

In the top-two primary-election system of California that pitted two Democrats (well, one Democrat and one “Democrat”) against each other, Kamala Harris clearly was the better choice to represent California in the U.S Senate, and so I voted for her.

Why did I want to be able to vote for a Latino U.S. senator in November 2016? Because more Californians are Latino than are of any other race, and it’s long past time that California’s Latinos, now a plurality of the state, had their own representative in the U.S. Senate.

Of course, “Democratic” Sen. Dianne “Cryptkeeper” Feinstein, who has “represented” California in the U.S. Senate since 1992 and who at age 84 is the oldest U.S. senator, refuses to step aside but is seeking a fifth six-year term.*

Feinstein’s old, dead hands of the past have a death grip on her Senate seat, which she and her supporters need to realize doesn’t actually belong to her, but belongs to us, the people of California.

We, the people of California, can and should retire Feinstein at the ballot box.

Thus far, I support Democrat Kevin de León, the current president of the California state Senate, to replace Feinstein come January 2019. He formally launched his bid for the U.S. Senate seat today.

De León not only is Latino, but is 50 years old and is much more in step with the California of today. He is the fresh, much more representative face that California needs. Out-of-touch multi-millionaire Feinstein doesn’t need, and should not be allowed, yet another six-year term in the U.S. Senate at the end of which she would be 91 years old.

Huge kudos to de León for having the cajones to face Feinstein in the June 2018 California primary election. Many if not most of California’s so-called Democrats, the establishmentarian zombies, already knee-jerkedly and stupidly have endorsed Feinstein, which is a big fucking mistake before the field is even known.**

The calcified Democratic Party really needs to stop frowning upon primary challenges, such as it did for mega-weak, center-right, widely despised candidate Billary Clinton, and let the voters decide.

Otherwise, the party will continue its slide into irrelevance. If an incumbent candidate is strong, he or she can fucking handle a primary challenger. (Of course, a weak “Democratic” candidate nonetheless will get all of the help possible from the center-right “Democratic” establishment, as Billary did.)

Kevin de León knows how to legislate and how to lead. He served in the California state Assembly for four years, from 2006 to 2010, and then was elected to the state Senate in 2010, and has served there since, having been made the president of the state Senate in 2014.

De León’s legislative accomplishments especially have been in the area of environmentalism and renewable energy; Wikipedia notes that “De León is the author of much of California’s renewable energy and environmental protection regulations, which are regarded by environmental groups as exemplary.”

Gun control is one-trick pony Cryptkeeper’s forte, but de León is strong on that issue, too; Wikipedia notes that “In 2016, de León led the charge in the passage of a package of eleven bills intended to prevent gun violence.”

De León is quite qualified to be a U.S. senator and very probably can do a better job than can the Cryptkeeper.

The predictable cries for “party unity” (How dare de León challenge the Cryptkeeper?) that we’ll hear are meant only to preserve the power and the privilege of center-right, pro-corporate, pro-plutocratic, anti-populist, self-serving “Democrats” who have plagued us since at least the Clintons in the 1990s. They know fully well that the multi-millionaire, octogenarian Cryptkeeper has their conservative, elitist, plutocratic backs.

These “Democratic” sellouts aren’t going to give up their power.

We, the people, must take it from them.

And it is within our grasp; fivethirtyeight.com reports that “Dianne Feinstein’s Senate Seat May No Longer Be a Sure Thing,” noting that:

… Feinstein is feeling the heat [from the California electorate right now] in part because her more liberal constituents are correct in surmising that she is more conservative — relative to the politics of the state she represents — than other Democrats.

Feinstein has voted in support of President Trump’s agenda 31 percent of the time, according to our Trump score. Ten [Senate] Democrats have voted with Trump more [than she has].

But because California is so liberal — Trump lost there by 30 percentage points in 2016 — we’d expect Feinstein to vote in line with the Trump position just 19 percent of the time. That’s a bigger pro-Trump gap than any other Democrat in the Senate.

California just passed legislation to become a “sanctuary state,” a move that has been met with displeasure by the Trump administration. De León seems likely to play up the state’s need to assert itself as a powerful bloc of resistance to Trump.

In recent weeks, local news sources have noted de León’s rebukes of Feinstein, whom he paints as sympathetic to Trump. In August, after Feinstein said Trump “can be a good president” if he were to “learn and change,” de León hit back, saying, “It is the responsibility of Congress to hold him accountable — especially Democrats — not be complicit in his reckless behavior.”

Most recently, de León pushed back against Feinstein’s comments that the recent massacre in Las Vegas couldn’t have been prevented by changes in gun laws because the shooter had passed background checks. …

Feinstein has been able to get away with her center-right, Richie-Rich elitist bullshit in the U.S. Senate for about 25 years now.

The tide finally seems to have turned on Cryptkeeper, however; if it hadn’t, you wouldn’t see such a high-level challenger to her like Kevin de León, whose decision to buck the status quo and not just allow Cryptkeeper to coast to yet another do-nothing Senate term already demonstrates his courage and his leadership.

*Cryptkeeper went to the U.S. Senate in a special election in 1992 (then-California U.S. Sen. Pete Wilson became California governor, freeing up the Senate seat) and then had to run for a full six-year Senate term for the first time in 1994, and won that election and the elections of 2000, 2006, and 2012.

**The field could expand beyond de León and Cryptkeeper, which I acknowledge by having written “Thus far, I support Democrat Kevin de León.”

However, I much doubt that anyone who impresses me more than de León does will enter the fray, and so I most likely will be marking my ballot “Kevin de León” in the June 2018 primary election and hopefully also in the November 2018 general election.

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I don’t much care about Texas

Updated below (on Wednesday, August 30, 2017)

Image result for hurricane harvey flooding

Getty Images news photo

I want to care more than I do. It’s that it’s Texas…

That headline might be a bit provocative, but I’m just being honest; I don’t much care about what’s going on in Texas right now. For many reasons.

First and foremost, I think, is that Texas sociopolitically is pretty much diametrically opposed to my state of California. Night and day. (California is day and Texas is night. [Seriously, though, Texas’ claim to be better off economically and to be a better place to live and to do business than California is, of course, utter bullshit.])

Also, as a gay man, an atheist and a democratic socialist, I’m fully aware of how many if not most Texans regard me, and so it’s very difficult for me to want to help them.

And as a Californian, I’m very much aware that should, say, a huge earthquake devastate Los Angeles or San Francisco, many if not most of the so-called adults in Texas would claim that of course it was God’s will to punish all of those sinners, or, if it weren’t divine intervention, at least the denizens of the Land of Fruits and Nuts, who are not, of course, real Americans, nonetheless deserved it.

Don’t get me wrong. If I were on the ground in Texas to see the biblical devastation with my own two eyes, I’m sure that I’d want to help. But I decided years ago that I’d never set foot in Texas, fuck Texas.

It’s ironic that Texas, the Climate-Change Denial Capital of the United States of America, is now filling up like an over-sized bathtub. After all, it’s the fossil fuels that Texas always has pushed on us that have caused climate change, which has caused fiercer and wetter and thus deadlier hurricanes.

Would Texas learn its lesson if we (perhaps literally…) bailed it out?

Also, of course, is the fact that we can’t even trust the fucking American Red Cross anymore not to totally squander our donations, so, if you refuse to go to Texas in person and don’t trust that any donation that you give will be used for its intended purpose, and if you’re an atheist who correctly doesn’t believe that praying is going to accomplish a God-damned thing, then what, exactly, can you do for Texas from California, even assuming that you should do something for Texas from California?

I’m not proud that I feel nothing for Texas, that the idea of it being inundated — inundated like Texans believe that “God” inundated the world because it was a punishment for sinfulness (so ironic!) — stirs little to nothing within me when past catastrophes have stirred a lot in me, such as was the case with Hurricane Katrina and with the 2004 tsunami.*

Again, I’m not proud of my lack of feeling for Texas, but I won’t lie that I feel something that I don’t feel.

Frankly, with Texas it just seems like an awful lot of karma. With Hurricane Katrina and with the 2004 tsunami, those people really struck me as innocent victims. Texans, not so much.

Yes, of course I exempt children, the incapacitated, pets, livestock, wildlife and those progressives (and those who, if they are apolitical, at least aren’t fascists) who live in Texas (the poor things) from any karmic due from Hurricane Harvey, but pretty much everyone else, well, yeah, um…

We’ll see if I change my mind over the coming days.

It’s just that as a gay man, an atheist, a democratic socialist and a Californian who has had his sexual orientation, his atheism, his left-wing political beliefs and his state (the greatest state in the nation, as evidenced by the fact that far more Americans choose to live here in California than in any other state) bashed by Texans, it’s incredibly hard for me to want to lift a finger for a state that would lift a finger for me only to flip me off.

P.S. Deregulation kills. I recommend this Newsweek piece about how Texas’ love of deregulation is now costing lives.

The purpose of deregulation is to allow greedy, selfish traitors to make as much money as quickly as possible, regardless of the price that others predictably will have to pay later down the line.

Again: Karma.

I’m quite happy to live in a state where the state government believes in regulating capitalists who otherwise gladly would kill all of us for another fucking buck.

Government certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s the only thing that stands between us, the people, and the capitalist traitors.

Update (Wednesday, August 30, 2017): I’m such a softie. I just gave $20 to the Houston Food Bank and $20 to the Houston Humane Society, and I’m sure that I’ll give more over the coming days and perhaps even the coming weeks.

It’s just too hard for me to do nothing when I know that there is suffering. (On that note, The New York Times reports that more than 1,000 people** have died in floods in South Asia this summer. Do we Americans care about them? After all, they’re not Americans and they have brown skin and they’re far away…)

Don’t get me wrong; I believe that much of the misery in Texas could have been prevented, such as by having addressed climate change years ago and by having had meaningful government regulations that protected the people against the profiteers. Catastrophe is the foreseeable result of the rampant cutting of corners for profiteering.

P.S. OK, I’ve given some more today. I gave $10 to the SPCA of Texas, $15 to the Houston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America’s help-Houston effort, and $20 to the Montrose Center, an LGBT assistance center in Houston.

I’m not bragging, but perhaps giving you some ideas to help out a little if you can and if you want to. I suggest to avoid the American Red Cross, as they very apparently are inept if not also corrupt, and I never give to religious-based organizations, since organized religions cause more misery than they relieve.

Of course I always hope that well-intended money that is received for things like Harvey is well spent and not stolen, and perhaps because of that I don’t give huge amounts to any one organization, and I like to spread my small donations around a bit.

*Also, to be fair even to Texas, it’s quite possible that I just have catastrophe fatigue. Seriously. I did give money toward both Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 tsunami victims, and both events made me heartsick.

Maybe I just can’t keep doing that. Maybe I have to shut it out, perhaps because with climate change, this shit is only going to keep on happening.

But mostly, I surmise, it’s that I just really hate Texas.

**The highest body count due to Hurricane Harvey that I’ve seen thus far is 30. Of course it is sure to rise, but Hurricane Katrina’s body count exceeded 1,800.

Also, from what I can tell, Katrina hit the already impoverished, mostly in Louisiana, and its victims disproportionately were black. The denizens of the Houston area are, I do believe, not as impoverished, as a group.

Finally, the body count in the 2004 tsunami, according to Wikipedia, was “230,000 to 280,000 people in 14 countries.” I add that for perspective.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein running again

I have yet to see it reported in the mainstream media, but it’s clear that “Democratic” Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California (pictured above, I’m pretty sure) is going to run for a fifth six-year term.

I voted for the center-right, mostly irrelevant Feinstein exactly once, in 2000, when I was still pretty new to California and didn’t know much about her. Over the ensuing years I learned a lot more about her, such as how her war-profiteering husband profiteered from the unelected Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War that she voted for, and therefore I haven’t voted for her since.*

Feinstein, whose net worth exceeds $50 million (yeah, she’s just one of us!) and who at age 8fucking3 is the oldest (apparently still living) member of the Senate, could step aside and vacate the seat that she has held since 19fucking92, giving a younger, fresher, much more relevant face a chance to represent the great state of California, but why do the right thing?

I knew that Feinstein was running again when fairly recently I started receiving e-mails from her again. (I am on her e-mail list.) Seriously, I can tell you that this is her pattern: It’s radio silence from her for several years, and then, when the next primary election for her approaches (it will be in June 2018), you’ll hear from her.

The e-mail that I received from Feinstein’s campaign today contains this mediocre logo —

Dianne Feinstein for California

— and has small print at the bottom that reads “Paid for and authorized by Feinstein for Senate 2018.”

Sadly, as long as she still lives, Repugnican Lite Feinstein will win re-election. Californians are pretty fucking dumb where it comes to re-electing her.

Hell, they’d probably vote for her corpse, which they essentially have been doing for a while now anyway.

*Feinstein also supported the unelected Bush regime’s unconstitutional mass spying on Americans, and still supports unconstitutional mass spying by the federal government; called for the immediate extradition and arrest of patriot Edward Snowden for having exposed the unconstitutional mass spying by the federal government that she wholeheartedly supports; supports the death penalty, since millionaires like she never have to worry about ever facing so-called justice; and actually supported the unconstitutional attempt to make the “desecration” of the U.S. flag a criminal act, although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment protects it (duh).

Feinstein is a real over-privileged, out-of-touch, authoritarian, plutocratic piece of shit.

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