Readers comments 1-22-21
American historians and political commentators in ranking presidents have placed Trump at the bottom, as our worst president. While that is correct, it is not sufficient: being the worst of something is relative to the excellence of the others ranking higher or the worst may be just a whisker below those above. I argued some time ago that, in order to show Trump’s place in American history, he must also be named on a quite different list, the list of great American disasters. That list includes Pearl Harbor, 9/11, slavery, the Vietnam War, Wounded Knee, the Dust Bowl… you can continue. The Trump Presidency belongs on that list.
Trump’s latest actions, however, have over-taken even that recognition that he is a national disaster. He was elected to destroy, to end Lincoln’s realization that the U.S. is dedicated to the equality of everyone, to wipe out America as a liberal country. As a culminating (we hope) act of that project, in his chaotic and incompetent way, he incited his authoritarian cult to physically attack a major symbol of the country. We are lucky that it was no worse, with more deaths, especially of those who are our elected representatives.
I have no idea how to name the further list that only Trump inhabits.
People care if you look for them
I first met Josue Barnes in a video meeting on Nov. 19, 2020. After five minutes, I knew he was the right person. He holds the values that the Democratic Party stands for. Josue is a product of Claremont public schools, 28-year-old biomedical research student, and co-founder of a grassroots organization called Claremont Change, an organization dedicated to racial justice and equity. How did I, a Pasadena mom, come to meet Josue? I was looking for him. I was looking for him and people like him - other young emerging Democratic leaders in Assembly District 41, from South Pasadena to Rancho Cucamonga to run for delegate of the California Democratic Party.
For weeks, I scoured the district for young activists because I believe we must reach out to youth, and people of color in order to grow the party. Because of this effort, 50 percent of the slate I put together, Democrats for Justice, seven members, are younger than thirty years old: Josue Barnes, Sam Berndt, Michelle Bertinelli, Larissa Cursaro, Jonathan Horton, Maro Kakoussian, Sashary Zaroyan. As it’s human nature to do, we will vote for who we know. I challenge you instead to consider voting for someone you don’t know. This is how we will live up to our promise of building a big tent party.
As a former high school teacher, I believe in the power of young people. They are caring, socially and environmentally conscious, tech-savvy, multi-tasking experts, and fast-learners. They understand the existential threats facing us: global pandemic, climate catastrophe, income inequality and endless wars. They are ready to take on these challenges if we give them the opportunity.
If any group of people can solve our global problems, it’s them. Unfortunately, the media and our party don’t take them seriously enough. As someone who has been the president of a local Democratic club, I have given up hope that young people will come walking through the door. They’re not coming. We have to actively seek them and convince them that they belong in the party.
As a candidate for EBoard, this is the type of leadership I bring. I see future leaders and lift them up. Democrats often quote Shirley Chisolm, the first African American U.S. presidential candidate, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” How will you respond to seven exceptional leaders who are bringing their folding chairs to the table?
I just came off my own campaign for Pasadena Unified School Board on Nov 3, 2020. I ran against three other women. I was not the favorite to win. The circumstances posed serious challenges—20,000 voters in my district, during COVID-19, amidst the Bobcat fire and record temperatures. We won by 1000 votes. Without a doubt, it was because we had the broad-based support of those in elected office, community leaders, family, and friends: 34 individual/group endorsements, including Assemblyman Chris Holden, 249 volunteers and donors. That is the kind of leadership philosophy I bring. The way you win people’s hearts and minds is getting the most broad-based coalition of leaders, and this is what I created with Democrats for Justice. With the immense crises we have to address in 2021, we need each other more than ever.
No other slate has taken the time to do what we have done, build a true coalition across generations and across our district—the most geographically, generationally, racially-diverse slate in AD 41: Voices of the People, Voices for the People. This is your chance to help amplify the voice of people who are already doing the important work organizing in their own communities.
If you requested your mail-in ballot already, please mail it before Wed. Jan 27, 2021.
So, on Thursday, Jan 14 the California Senate committee on election integrity and constitutional amendments (or lack thereof) met to discuss extending the SB 860 provisions allowing every single registered voter to be mailed an absentee ballot in the next election and who knows how many more.
This without a proposition that the legitimate voters of California get to vote on. This will be another disaster and allow all county officials to NOT purge the election rolls (even with the court injunction). The committee that is responsible for reviewing the validity of the proposed law and forwarding to the Senate, is composed of four Democrats and one Republican. Care to guess how the vote went? That’s right, it was sent to the Senate. It is way past time for overhauling the system through a proposition to:
• Make any changes to the California voting system only by propositions voted on by the people.
• Clean up the voting registers by purging all voters who have not voted in the last 3 elections
• Purging the voter registers of all deceased persons.
• Purging the voter registers of all felons still incarcerated.
• Using the national voter purge software (already available) to identify any other invalid registrations.
[Editor’s note: After numerous audits and recounts of the 2020 presidential election, no foul play of any consequence was found. Election officials accurately stated it was the most secure election in history. —PW]
AD41 people’s action slate
Many readers will have seen Mike Boos’s Letter of Friday January 15 endorsing one of the slates for the Assembly District Delegate election. I am writing to make sure that readers are aware that there is another slate of committed activists who will bring much needed change to California: the AD41 People’s Action slate 100 percent Progressive. www.ad41peoplesaction.org
On our slate are activists involved in tenants’ rights, immigrants’ rights, the crisis in mass incarceration, the environment, police accountability, racial justice and more. We have an astrophysicist, a barber, two Claremont Colleges professors, a student, and a couple of environmental entrepreneurs. Most importantly, our slate is working together on all these issues, in the belief, a fundamental Progressive principle, that the problems facing our country are intimately interconnected. We have been holding a series of Town Halls to listen to the community and hear their concerns, to learn about groups and programs involved in local actions. Past town halls have included a Listening Town Hall (housing, healthcare, workers’ rights); Medicare for All Town Hall, a Black Lives Matter Town Hall, and upcoming Saturday January 23, a Peace and Environment Town Hall, co-sponsored by Sunrise: please come! http://bit.ly/environmentpeace. Our slate has been endorsed by:
Our Revolution, Roots Action, Progressive Delegates Network, The Future Left, Progressive Asian Network for Action, K-12 News Network, Good Trouble Pasadena, Medicare for All advocate Dr. Paul Song, Black Lives activist Andre Henry, Urban Policy Analyst Peter Dreier. The majority of our slate has been endorsed by the Sunrise Movement and DSA/LA.
For more endorsements, slate bios, platform, videos and more, visit: www.ad41peoplesaction.org
Also, note, the deadline for receiving ballots has been extended. Ballots postmarked by January 27 and received by January 30 will be counted.
Please vote for all 14 of the candidates on the AD41People’s Action Slate. We are a team! In order on your ballot: Robert Nelson, Mindy Pfeiffer, Marguerite Renner, Stephanie Schoen, Jordan Vannini, John Doyle, Ryan Bell, Ellen Finkelpearl, Elizabeth Trejo, Steven Gibson, Patricia Hernandez, Joshua Ulises Marmol, Monica Guzman, and Susan Castagnetto.
Professor, Scripps College
Empire’s last brutal crimes
Thirty-one years ago, on the night of January 19-20, 1990, Soviet authorities staged the falling empire’s last brutal crime against its own citizens. Amid a popular uprising in Baku, Azerbaijan, 26,000 regular and special Soviet troops with support of tanks, helicopters and navy stormed the city, indiscriminately killing unarmed inhabitants.
Black January—as it came to be called—was the most violent crackdown on dissent during the Gorbachev’s glasnost era. According to the official counts, 137 civilians were killed that night alone, with up to 170 dead and 714 wounded by February 1990. An investigation team led by Human Rights Watch found compelling evidence that Soviet troops used unjustified and excessive force resulting in unnecessary civilian casualties. Heavily armed Soviet troops assaulted the city of Baku as an enemy position intended for military destruction; fired on clearly marked ambulances; used armored vehicles and weapons appropriate for sophisticated warfare to crush civilians. Additionally, the Soviet forces used expanding bullets prohibited by the 1899 Hague Convention, killing women, children, and elderly among many others that night.
Despite the scale of brutality, Black January reinforced Azerbaijanis’ determination for freedom. On the third day of the massacre, more than 2 million people rallied at the mass funerals of the victims, defying the Soviet military curfew. Within two years, in October 1991, Azerbaijan restored its independence.
On this 31st anniversary of Black January, I join Azerbaijani-Americans in commemoration and ask our public officials to honor the sacrifices made by Azerbaijani people in their struggle for freedom and independence.
We all know that President Trump is the master of hyperbole, always putting down previous administrations and touting himself as the best, the greatest, the smartest, the most talented. But let’s fact check one metric. Though he typically equated the stock market with the economy, we have seen those two often have very little in common. The DOW may hit new highs but juxtapose that with homelessness, job losses, poverty, the uninsured, the shrinking middle class, wealth inequality, among other things. Here, then, is a look at my personal favorite market measurement, the DOW.
President Obama’s first day, January 20, 2009: the DOW was 7,949 and at the end of his first term it stood at 13,650, a 72 percent growth rate. By the end of his second term on January 19, 2017, the DOW was 19,732, a 44 percent increase during that term, for a combined growth of 148 percent during his eight years.
President Trump’s first day January 20, 2017: the DOW was at 19,827 and as of his last day January 19, 2021, it stood at 30,930, a 56 percent growth in his four years.
As a side note, on Biden’s inauguration day January 20, 2021, the DOW closed up 258 points to a new all-time high of 31,188, a possible sign that Wall Street doesn’t perceive Biden-Harris as the evil socialists President Trump would have us believe they are.
During the combined twelve years of the Obama and Trump years there have been events that were jarring to the markets: The Great Recession was upon us early on and then more recently the COVID-19 pandemic. There were loans, bailouts, stimulus payments, tax cuts and Federal Reserve interventions during the rocky times. But before anyone can take credit as the best or the greatest, fact checking is always a good idea.
La Verne, CA