We need a Lion in the Senate

Kevin de Leon, California Senate Pro-Tem Emeritus is running to unseat Diane Feinstein.

I recently posted my first VIDEO blog post. In a nutshell it was about the senate race in California. Normally, you would have to drag me kicking and screaming away from an esteemed senator and role model like Diane Feinstein, but we do not live in normal times.
The fact is, Sen. Feinstein is part of the problem. She’s more of the same and getting the same results. And those results have landed us Donald Trump. The fact is, it’s time for change.
I’m supporting Kevin de Leon )or KDL as we call him for short) for senate because he has proven time and time again that he has what it takes to stand up to the special interests. He’s a warrior on the climate, having not only authored but passed SB 350 which calls for 50% clean energy by 2030. I don’t want you to miss the word “passed” in the previous sentence. We often hear politicians who talk about what they support- and indeed they frequently DO support those measure and may even bring forward legislation to that effect. However, the fail in their attempts. These elected positions are so valuable that they can’t be wasted on people who don’t get anything done. KDL has proven that he’s a doer.
He worked tirelessly to get SB 562 passed in the senate and it did (for those of you who don’t know- SB 562 is the bill that would guarantee a Medicare for all type benefit for every Californian). Unfortunately Anthony Rendon, the speaker of the Assembly is stalling the bill in committee (call your State Assembly representative and demand that they bring it out of committee- they’re up for reelection every two years- and while you’re at it, tell them to bring SB 100 out of committee too- that’s the 100% clean energy bill for the state of California).
Finally, he’s a staunch supporter of the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. He’s said that he would like to work on a bill (perhaps with Corey Booker) to get that to come to pass. When you hear him talk, he’s very good at marrying social liberal causes with economic benefits. It’s about doing the right thing AND growing the economy at the same time. But if you’re a liberal like me, you already knew that the two go hand in hand.
I would like to note here, as well, that Kevin de Leon just narrowly missed getting the California Democratic Party endorsement by 7 points.  He needed 60% to get the endorsement and he received 53%.  Feinstein received 39% and a third candidate received 7%.  I think that is a striking number, given that Feinstein has been such an establishment candidate within the party.  I hope you will join me and the majority of Democratic Party delegates in supporting a lion for the senate and voting for Kevin de Leon.

A Behind the Scenes Look at “Who Cleans Up the Mess?” panel at Comic-Con 2017


Note: this post is still under construction- you can watch the video of the panel at: https://youtu.be/uLDU_uX9uhg

Last weekend was Comic-Con right here in my hometown, San Diego. It was the first year in many years that I didn’t have a pass to get in, so being the huge fan I am and necessity being the mother of invention, I decided to pitch a panel to Comic-Con. But what panel? Playing to my strengths seemed like the most logical idea which left me with the question, “how do I reconcile my two passions of politics with pop culture?” The concept just came together from that perspective. The battle between good and evil, superheroes and super villains as it is portrayed in many comic books and movies is fraught with massive property damage and destruction and except for the occasional superhero who has the power to move heavy objects (such as Magneto) we rarely ever see our superheroes stick around to fix what was broken during their battles with the forces of evil (and of course the villains won’t do it – they’re usually halfway to their evil ends by the time these battles are over). The question came up naturally from this perspective: who would clean up the mess if any of these battles happened in real life? And the idea for my panel was born. Get a panel of elected officials to watch some of these epic battle scenes and discuss the aftermath and what the process and procedure would be to fix these situations. So I pitched the idea to Comic-Con and they went for it.

The more I developed this concept the more it morphed for me. What started out as a way to just get a pass to Comic-Con became a passion for me. I didn’t care about the passes anymore I would have done this regardless. I spend hours and hours of watching scenes, developing talking points, coordinating panelists, working on logistics of the room and the show, finding a film crew to document it, etc. I realized that I had a real opportunity to educate and motivate people about politics and not the politics of getting elected, but the politics of serving the greater community. I had the opportunity to show the world of politics through my eyes and why I’m so passionate about it. I could show the public that beyond the “my side verses your side” there is an “our side” that works together for the benefit of the public good.

It became my mission to present a nonpartisan, completely civics oriented discussion of the policies and procedures my strict rule to all of my panelists was that there was to be NO CAMPAIGNING. I first reached out to my personal friends and contacts who are elected officials. My local San Diego electeds (Esther Sanchez from Oceanside, David Alvarez from San Diego, Racquel Vasquez Mayor of Lemon Grove and Nathan Fletcher Fmr. State Assembly member) all jumped at the opportunity, both sharing my passion and goal for this panel and knowing that Comic-Con has the potential to reach tens of thousands of people and educate them and while most of the EOs at the state and federal level were also enthusiastic about the idea, most of them had scheduling conflicts and weren’t able to attend (and perhaps didn’t understand how big Comic-Con is). However, California State Treasurer John Chiang enthusiastically jumped at the idea. He was a total rock star and his staff (especially Audrey Noda and John Wark) were very helpful to me during the planning of this panel. It turns out that he’s a huge fan of Game of Thrones and other fan fiction. My panel was complete at that point, but I was so disappointed that Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones had a scheduling conflict when I first approached him about this panel. Lo and behold, the week of Comic-Con his prior engagement got cancelled. The dilemma I had was that my panel was full at that point and I really didn’t want to bump anyone. But I only had a certain amount of passes and they were all used. Well wouldn’t you know that Comic-Con graciously allowed me to add him, literally the day before the panel, and boy am I glad they did. I couldn’t have put together a more perfect panel in a million years.

The interplay of the local elected officials included talking about how they would be dealing with the department heads securing public safety first and foremost as well as public works and the department(s) of transportations. Sanchez and Alvarez stressed the importance of public safety first and foremost. Vasquez concurred and also stressed the need to get back to a “normal state of life” as soon as possible. Treasurer Chiang stressed that the state and local entities must work together in order to alleviate housing shortages. In addition, besides the dollars and cents costs of these types of disasters, there are also preventative strategies that would need to be thought of immediately to prevent businesses from leaving the state as a result of these actions. Nathan Fletcher, sporting a Wonder Woman T-shirt (and looking really hot in it as well) added his wit as well as his knowledge of these situations from his firsthand experience serving in the military as well as his governmental experience serving in the California State Assembly. Both he and Insurance Commissioner Jones were able to add their wit and knowledge to the panel. Jones though, as to be expected of an insurance commissioner added the most information to this panel about the real world applications of these situations. With an awesome humor he outlined how the insurance companies would likely be able to get out of paying for these types of battles between superheroes and super villains. I don’t want to go into too much detail about who said what on the panel as ALL of the panelists were brilliant and I strongly urge you to watch the video. You won’t regret it.

What was the biggest surprise to me was how popular this panel was. When I pitched it, I thought that I’d be lucky to get 50 people to show up. The room (29AB at the Convention Center- a smaller room at the far end of the Convention Center) seated 200, with a maximum capacity of 300 people. We had 225 attendees at our panel (standing room only), and not a single person walked out during the panel. After the panel, we were swamped by attendees wanting to talk to us. Many said this was the best panel that they had been to at the Con and that they had learned so much that they did not know before. I have to say that this has truly been one of the greatest honors of my life and I truly hope Comic-Con will allow me to do this next year and the year after, too.

An Open Letter to Bernie Supporters

Revolution-Fist America

Dear fellow Bernie supporters: Knuckle up!! Did you really think that all you had to do to make a Revolution happen is just get Bernie elected? He’s not running for king, he’s running for president. And an effective president needs people to make his policies work. Those people start with you and me.
Bernie, by declaring that he was going to run for president was the first step in the revolution. You and I getting involved was the second step. The third step would have been him getting the nomination and then getting elected. That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen at this point. So what? Are we going to surrender the entire war just because we lost one battle? I don’t know about you, but I’m in this thing to win it, and I won’t give up until these policies that Bernie outlines in his platform become the policies and laws of the land. Would that be easier if Bernie were president? Maybe yes and maybe no, but I can tell you one thing: they will not happen at all if we all go back into our little dens of political complacency.
So how do we do this? How do we keep this Revolution on track?
First, give up this idea of a third party. Third parties don’t work. How do I know? Just find out how many elected officials there are from the Green Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, The Libertarian Party, the American Independent Party, etc. We have third and fourth and fifth parties. They don’t work. This revolution cannot happen unless we get the correct set of laws and policies in place and we can’t do that unless we get the people who would put those laws and polices into place elected to those offices. Once again, I ask, how many third-party candidates have been elected to office? If we can’t even win a primary, how on earth are we to win a Revolution? We need to stay unified on this and enlist the help of Democrats to make these changes happen. Our country is set up on a two-party system and for 240 years, it’s worked and served us fairly well- warts and all.
Second, stop looking at the Democratic Party as unfixable. It’s not. But it does take work- lots of it from all of us. What won’t fix it is if people decide to leave based upon this one presidential primary. The Democratic Party didn’t get into the state it’s in now because it had too many people involved with it. It got into the state it’s in now because too many people sat home and let others do the voting for them. It go into the state it’s in because voter apathy turned into complacency about who was making decisions that affected their lives. It got into the state it’s in now because too many people worshiped at the altar of Fox News. It got into the state it’s in now because a man name Jerry Falwell convinced his followers that good Christians are both conservative and politically active (forgetting that Jesus was crucified by politically active conservatives but that’s a whole other blog). This led to an insane shift to the right by the Republicans. And because they were winning elections, the Democrats followed.
It’s now time to take back our party. We’ve got their attention due to our amazing numbers. We lost this battle because their weapons had already been brandished even before we picked up ours. That’s okay. It’s one office of one election. What matters is that we become a proactive force within the Democratic Party. What matters is that we start going to the local Central Committee meetings; that we go to state conventions; that we continue to work hard and get more people to vote with us in future elections. If you think that you’re hurting the Democratic Party by leaving, you aren’t. You will just be giving them more reason to NOT change. That stasis is what will keep you living in debt, working two jobs in order to support the ultra-rich, living without adequate healthcare… all the things that we got up there and cheered for when Bernie talked about fixing them.
The solution starts with YOU. It starts when you continue to campaign for the candidates that uphold your ideals. If Hillary isn’t that candidate for you, then don’t vote for her. Write in Bernie’s name, if you really want to have an impact. But do make sure you vote down ticket. And study the candidates you are voting for. Don’t wait for the candidates to contact you, because the only ones who will are those who have the most money (which doesn’t necessarily mean that candidate is wrong- but chances are there is some special interest backing that person). Don’t vote for the corporate elitists. Did you know that most local candidates are completely accessible? Contact them. Meet with them. If they won’t meet with you or talk to you unless you pay, then you have your answer. Move on. But don’t stop. This is not Bernie’s revolution. It’s OUR revolution and it will only take place if we all work together.

Bernie Sanders and the Future of the Democratic Party

Tomorrow is the June 7 primary for both here in California as well as 4 other states. According to the Hillary supporters, the nomination will be clinched by Clinton before the polls even close on the west coast. However, Bernie Sanders, to the delight of his supporters (including this blogger), has maintained that he will continue to fight all the way to the convention in July.

Rena Marrocco aka "The Liberal Diva" posing with "Bernie Sanders" (aka Michael Johnson) at the Bernie Rally in San Diego on June 5, 2016.

Rena Marrocco aka “The Liberal Diva” posing with “Bernie Sanders” (aka Michael Johnson) at the Bernie Rally in San Diego on June 5, 2016.

Yesterday Bernie came to San Diego area and spoke for the forth time in over a month to do some last minute campaigning. He brought with him Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Dr. Cornell West as well as some local (and extremely talented musicians) This was my 3rd Bernie rally I had attended with him speaking and the second in three weeks. This last time I decided to attend as not just a Bernie supporter, but as a blogger. I wanted to find out what the future of the Democratic Party will be now that Bernie Sanders has had this phenomenal impact on both the registration of new Democrats and the voter turnouts in primaries in other states. So I talked to a few people to get their take on things.

Both challengers for the mayor's seat in San Diego are supporting Bernie. This is Rena Marrocco (aka "The Liberal Diva") with Lori Saldana, mayoral candidate, Bernie supporter and long time friend.

Both challengers for the mayor’s seat in San Diego are supporting Bernie. This is Rena Marrocco (aka “The Liberal Diva”) with Lori Saldana, mayoral candidate, Bernie supporter and long time friend.

The first two people I spoke to were Don and Kurt Scott, a married couple from University Heights. Don is a Veteran who from some of the things he said, I am guessing is about my age (early 50s) and Kurt works in retail and appears to be in his mid to late 30s. When I asked them about why they were supporting Bernie to the point that they would come out and wait in the hot sun for hours just to see him and hear him speak they had different responses. For Kurt, it is Bernie’s personal integrity that has motivated him most. He’s always held to the same principles and acted on those principles for over 40 years. Don agreed with Kurt on that but expounded saying, “with Bernie I don’t have to compromise.”

Don explained that he was in the military when Bill Clinton was in and implemented Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. He is the second gay veteran I have met who was discharged under that policy as being mentally unfit to serve (aka, gay). In addition, Hillary and Bill’s support of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is what has turned him absolutely against Hillary Clinton.

Both men are regular voters who were decline to state, but registered Democratic just to vote for Bernie. I asked them if they would stay Democrats after the primary and they both responded by saying that it would depend. If Bernie became the Democratic nominee, then they would stay Democrats for sure. However, if Hillary gets the nomination, it would be likely that they would go back to being NPP.

I then spoke with Glynn Clapsaddle an electronic salesperson from Rancho Penasquitos who was sporting an “I voted” sticker.  I asked him about it and he said that he had voted the previous day at the Registrar of Voters office in San Diego.  When I asked him about the last time he voted, he replied that it had been so long that he didn’t remember but that he had voted Republican the last time he did vote (later, he remembered that the last time he voted was in ’08).  Like Kurt and Don above, he too registered as a Democrat specifically to vote for Bernie.   He said that he likes Bernie “because he’s more interested in service than political gain.”  When pressed further about a specific issue he replied, “corporate welfare is the biggest issue.  We’re the richest country in the world, but we can’t take care of anyone.  That’s really offensive to me.”

I asked him if he would stay a Democrat after the primary and he said most definitely that he would.  Referring to the Republicans he said “they’ve been telling me for years that I’m rich.  But I’m not rich.”  He also went on to say that he is really upset about the Republican’s characterization of Bernie supporters as just looking for handouts.  “I’m a successful professional who is not looking for any handouts.”  He even has his own blog in which he wrote a post entitled “The Conversion of a Conservative.”

Finally, I spoke with 27 year-old Octavio Hernandez, owner of a tree trimming service in Encinitas.  He had already voted for Bernie because of his pro-peace stance saying, it’s “a dream come true to find a candidate who stands up to APAC.” For him, Bernie’s foreign policy is the most important issue.   Like the other people I interviewed for this blog, he too registered Democratic specifically to vote for Bernie.  However, he said that he will most likely not stay a Democrat after the primary.  If Bernie does not get the Democratic nomination, he will definitely switch parties, most likely to a third party such as Peace and Freedom.  However, if Bernie does get the party nomination, he would likely stay a Democrat.  I asked him if staying home on election day in November were an option.  He said absolutely not.  “I feel that I’m voting for all of the people who cannot vote.”  When asked who he would vote for in November he said that he hoped that Bernie would come out as a third party, but that writing his name in is an option if he remains a Democrat.

What I found most interesting about interviewing these men (and I didn’t realize that they were all men until I started writing this blog- I apologize for not including any women although there are a great many of them at the event) was that they were all recent registrants but most said that they would not stay Democrats if Bernie did not get the nomination.  When I identified myself as a member of the San Diego County Democratic Party most of them indicated a desire to get more involved in order to bring it further to the left.

The State of California has seen an almost 900,000 increase in voter registrations this year.  The vast majority of them have been Democrats and it is likely that those new registrants have only registered Democratic to vote for Bernie, but as I saw here in just this small sample- the party has a real chance to retain those new registrants.  If the party will make Bernie Sanders its nominee, it will set itself up to be the powerhouse party for decades to come.  The opportunity that Sanders is presenting to the party is the opportunity to actually capitalize on the motivation of these young people who are finally engaged enough to not just vote, but to get involved and stay involved.

However, many in the party are shunning these people.  I’ve heard them referred to by others in the party as not “real” Democrats because they have been newly registered.  So my question then is, why am I constantly being begged to go to voter registration events?  If the party doesn’t want these new registrants, then are we wasting our time going out and registering people?  Now the true answer is “of course not.”  The Democratic Party is welcoming and accepting of all new registrants and as far as I’m concerned, they are welcome in our party.  As far as nearly all the Dems are concerned they are welcome.  The only ones spewing that hate are actually supporting the other candidate.

But the fact is that we really need these people to be with us if we are going to change the direction of this country.  We cannot afford to alienate them by nominating a candidate that they don’t trust.  And the irony is that it very well may be the superdelegates that can save the party.  Hillary and Bernie are likely to end up extremely close with pledged delegates tomorrow.  That makes the superdelegates votes all that more important.  And their job is to make sure that someone unelectable doesn’t get the nomination.  Given that Hillary’s numbers against Donald Trump are so abysmal, it’s likely that she will lose her superdelegate majority- that is if they are committed to doing their job and to protecting the best interest of the party.

A Hillary Nomination Will Guarantee Us a “President Trump”

Donald Trump’s meteoric wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, pretty much guarantee him the GOP nomination.  His poll numbers are not slowing down and he seems to outperform them when it comes to election day.   This is a pretty scary precedent, since we know very little of the “how” he’s going to keep his promises.  That the U.S. is falling for his greasy, used car salesman tactics is really astounding to me.  But that’s a whole other story.

The problem is, how do we guarantee that he won’t win?   I’m just going to say two words:  Bernie Sanders.  Yep.  Our old friend who is challenging the party darling Sec. Hillary Clinton is showing a meteoric trajectory against nearly all the Republican candidates in head to head polls.  Many of the same polls show that while Clinton beats Trump, it’s well within the margin of error.  In the Quinnipiac poll, Clinton only beats Trump by 1 point.  1 POINT!! That’s a virtual tie!! As opposed to Bernie Sanders, who in the same poll, beats Donald Trump by 6 points.  That virtually guarantees that he will beat in a head to head Trump.

Yet the problem we have is within our own party.  So many of our fellow Democrats  are voting with their hearts and not their heads.  They’re fiercely protective of our girl, Hillary.  And I really don’t blame anyone for that.  She’s great.  We know that all the Benghazi and email server stuff is just a load of crap made up from the right in order to destabilize her and our party.

I understand the instinct to protect our heroine from the slings and arrows of false accusations.  I really do.  But the presidency is at stake here.  Roe v. Wade is at stake.  Trump is now calling himself “pro-life” and against abortion.  Personally, I think he’s lying when he calls himself that, but I’m not willing to take the chance that he might follow through on his new found sense of moral outrage, and put another Scalia on the bench.  We must do everything we can to guarantee that no Republican gets in office to do that.  And that means that we must, MUST nominate Bernie Sanders.

Now I know what you’re saying- probably something to the effect of polls this far out don’t matter or are unreliable.  So I’m asking you not to accept just this poll, but all the polls that came before it as well.  The trend is unmistakable.  In May of last year, Clinton had a double digit lead over Trump.  It was as high as 24 points in a CNN poll.  The last time CNN conducted a head to head poll in this race, Clinton’s lead was down to a dismal 2%.  If we look at the Quinnipiac polls, we see that Clinton started last year (in May) ahead of Trump by 18 points.  The Quinnipiac poll conducted just last week has her ahead of Trump by a dismal 1%.    Even in the more skewed polls we see the same results:  Clinton’s lead over Trump is receding.

When we do the same comparison between Trump and Sanders, we get the exact opposite picture.  CNN has only conducted two polls on this race between Sanders and Trump, and the last one was back in October.  However, they both showed that Sanders beats Trump by double digits, although like Clinton, his lead declines but not as drastically as Clinton’s.  However, in the Quinnipiac polls, Sanders has shown a trend of starting out good, ebbing a little, and the rebounding back.  This pattern continues in all of the other polls as well, including the incredibly biased PPP poll, which has a record of returning results that seem to favor whomever the Democratic party leadership (the people who are usually paying them) favor.  Even PPP couldn’t hide Sanders lead in this race.

So what about people who say that these polls are too early to make any definitive concrete decisions about? Boy what a difference a few months make.  Last year, when these polls showed that Hillary would pound any and all Republicans in this race, the majority of my Democratic friends criticized me for supporting Bernie and gave me the exact same arguments as I’m using here.   Suddenly, those same arguments to the very people who gave them to me, are no longer valid.  Suddenly, they now have other reasons for supporting Sec. Clinton.

And I get it.  She’s awesome.  I don’t blame my friends for adoring her.  I too get very protective and defensive of her when the right spreads their lies.  Unfortunately, however, the voting public is believing those lies.  And try as we might, we can’t stop the lies and we can’t change public opinion.  This wonderful woman has endured the most intense scrutiny over Benghazi to now her emails.  She has been paraded in front of congress more times than any other person that I can remember in my lifetime (and I was alive when Oliver North was on trial).  All of those investigations have proven nothing but that she has endurance and resilience.  So I get it.  She’s a national treasure.

Unfortunately, the rest of the country has fallen for what Bill Maher calls “zombie lies.”  And those lies are guaranteeing a national attitude of “anybody but Hillary.”  It’s wrong and it’s evil, but unfortunately it is happening.  If we allow Hillary Clinton to get the nomination, then we will be all but guaranteeing a Trump presidency.

Trump is hated by the GOP establishment.  A significant portion of Republican voters have already said that if Trump gets the nomination, they will vote for anyone else- except Hillary Clinton.  And the GOP is prepared for Hillary.  They will trot out the same tired lies about her and eventually, more and more of the general public will believe it.  If Trump gets the nomination and Bernie is the Dems nominee, then a significant portion of the “anybody but Trump” people will vote for Bernie.  They will vote holding their nose, but they will vote for the Democrat as long as it isn’t Hillary.

The same thinking doesn’t hold true for Establishment Democrats.  They will support Bernie if he gets the nomination.  However, the opposite, sadly, isn’t necessarily true.  Bernie has been an independent his entire political career, although he’s caucused with the Democrats ever since he’s been in congress.  When he declared that he was running for president as a Democrat, he brought with him millions of new Democratic registrants.  Most of them are former independants.  Many of them have already said that if Bernie doesn’t get the nomination they are either not voting at all in the general election or they’ll vote Green Party.

Now if you’re anything like me, you probably want to stick your middle finger up at people who say things like that and tell them to go pound sand.  And I’m a Bernie supporter!! However, we need these people because Trump is bringing out a similar element on the opposite side.  The difference is that their candidate is going to get the nomination.  The high performance in the polls of the outliers  like Trump and Sanders is demonstrating a frustration with traditional politics.  The country is ready for a new day.  And while Hillary Clinton’s gender definitely gives her a point of distinction, unfortunately, her policies are the same old, same old.   Any other election year, I think it would be fine for her to be this way.

But 2016 is going to be the year of catharsis in American politics.  The electorate is tired of playing it safe and getting screwed.  If we want to win back the White House this year, we need to counter Trump with our own brand of not the same old, same old.  We need to provide the voting public a viable, but still different alternative to Donald Trump.  And Sanders, having experience in congress and the senate, also has the experience that will put people at ease about him being the Commander and Chief.  He will know how to navigate Washington, which will put people who aren’t used to doing something different, at ease.

Furthermore, it would be likely that whomever one votes for president, will be of the same party that person votes for congress and senate.  So if Hillary becomes our nominee, it will be likely that the Dems will not regain control of either house.    The bottom line is that if we want to keep Roe v. Wade, keep marriage equality, stop Citizens United, bring the banks under control, etc.  we must ensure that a Democrat stays in the White House.  If you hold all of those things near and dear to your heart, then we have to make sure that Bernie Sanders gets the nomination.



Does Her Life Matter?

Okay, so I didn’t watch the Superbowl this year. I didn’t watch one commercial or the halftime show. But almost a month later, people are still griping about Beyonce’s performance. So I watched this video thinking I was going to see something extremely outrageous. What I saw was an amazing performance, mostly by Bruno Mars, but also by Beyonce.
I don’t get what the hype is about, other than this is bigotry plain and simple. Now, I will concede that had a white person got up there and sang a song about white pride, it would be taken as racist, so I can see how the truly unenlightened would feel slighted. When someone expresses white pride, it’s usually exclusionary of other races, as opposed to black  pride, which isn’t exclusionary.  In addition, when a white person gets up and sings about Irish pride, or Italian pride or even English pride, it does not seem racist and no one would say anything about it. In the U.S., we stole the ethnicity away from most of the black people here, so they can’t sing about their Ethiopian or Kenyan pride because in most cases, they wouldn’t even know where exactly in Africa their ancestors hailed from. That’s something that the white people- us- stole from them. So we don’t get to be offended or threatened by a show of solidarity and pride from a group who identifies with each other through their race because that’s all we haven’t stolen from them. It doesn’t make them Un American or violent or anti-white. In fact, I would argue the exact opposite.  An artistic outlet that expresses pride born from oppression, while provocative, doesn’t provoke violence, but rather thought.  And that’s something that we need more of in this country, not less. 
The police who are saying that Beyonce’s performance was “antipolice” and calling for a boycott of her concerts are really stretching it. In fact, the counter to the BLM movement, with the hashtag “Police Lives Matter” is very divisive. I’m not saying that police lives don’t matter. What I’m saying is that police officers know going into the job that there is a risk that they might die on the job. If they do get killed in the line of duty, their families are well taken care of and they are hailed as heroes. But black people don’t come into this world expecting that they are going to get killed merely because of the color of their skin.  And when they are wrongly killed by a police officer in the line of duty, their families rarely get anything and the victim is often vilified.  Artistic expression about the frustration and unfairness of this system we have is one of the most powerful and healthy outlets around.
But I think there’s something else going on here besides race that people are not talking about. Beyonce is getting criticized for her performance because of the racial overtones in it. But Bruno Mars joined along in the performance and no one is saying one word about him. And therein lies, what I perceive, as the true “problem” with Beyonce’s performance. It’s not that she was black and making a political statement. It was that she was a black WOMAN making a political statement. If she had been a male rapper singing the same words, doing the same performance, I don’t think anyone would have noticed, or it wouldn’t have gotten so much attention.  Certainly, the police wouldn’t be boycotting providing security for such a concert. 
But in the history of the white male oppressing the black female, Beyonce’s empowerment took away the racist white man’s favorite fantasy play toy: the docile and submissive black female. Suddenly, the subservient has a voice and a brain. Suddenly, the weak that he can overpower shows that she’s strong and will fight back. Suddenly, the white male has to face the reality that she’s not just a play thing, that he’s not just “having a little fun” or “blowing off a little steam,” but in fact, she is a human being, and that makes him a rapist and oppressor.
And to be coming from the police, a profession that has one of the highest rates of domestic violence than other professions, is both shocking and predictable at the same time.  It’s mind numbing.  Now don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying that all police are bad.  I’m not saying that the majority of police are bad.  In fact the vast majority of cops are really awesome and do stuff like this and this.  And those are just a few examples.  The countless millions of heroic acts that police officers have and will continue to do for the public go relatively undocumented and unsung.  What I’m saying, though, is that this profession needs to acknowledge and correct of some issues it has including:

1) There are bad apples in the bunch.  And sometimes there are even bad precincts.  The problem is that good police officers will cover up for the bad ones.  A friend of mine is a police officer and swears that bad cops are usually weaned out by other cops.  What he doesn’t say is that to the public, the cops will stay silent and protect even the bad ones.  It’s great that they get them out of their midst, but like the Catholic Church that would just “relocate” the pedophile priests, weaning a cop out just allows the bad cop  to go someplace else and be a bad cop there.  And maybe that precinct is more tolerant of bad behavior from its applicants.  Such as was the case in Tacoma, Washington with its now infamous double homicide Police Chief David Brame.

2) Misogyny is a real problem in this profession and women are dying as a result.  In San Diego, a woman was shot by her cop husband.  When the other police officers arrived on the scene, they started arguing about how to treat the case- as a domestic violence case or a homicide.  While these two were arguing about it, preventing EMT’s from leaving the scene to take the woman to the hospital,  she died.
3) Innocent black people are getting killed by overzealous police officers.  Whenever one of these travesties occurs, I hear all the horrible things the victim did and why he (and I say “he” because we usually don’t hear about the “she’s” who die this way) deserved to get shot.  He was a thief, he was a drug addict, he was a thug, etc.   But none of that negates the fact that in all of these cases which get national attention, he was unarmed and therefore did not pose a plausible threat to the cops.  Police officers are not judge, jury and executioner.  Every human being in the United States of America has a right to due process.  It matters not what color the person’s skin is, what gender the person is, what country the person is from, what religion the person is… none of that matters.  What matters is that we have a system of justice in this country and just because an individual has a badge and wears a uniform, doesn’t give that person the right to shoot first and ask questions later.  Especially not when that person is being paid with my tax dollars.
So what is the solution?  I don’t know for sure.  One thing that occurs to me is that inevitably these cops involved in these situations are young.  This leads me to conclude that perhaps the training for police officers needs to spend less time on the shooting range and more time in the classroom learning conflict resolution.  I have been assured by my police officer friends that they get plenty of training on that, but given the rash of these incidents, it may not be enough.
The other thing that occurs is that the screening process for police officers does not test them for anger and other psychological issues that would be conducive to these types of reactions.  In addition, there are numerous instances of cops getting hired to police forces in spite of previous troubling behavior.
But one thing is for certain- if the profession itself will not publicly address these concerns and admit that these are real problems, then nothing will change.  The solution needs to come from within the profession.  The good cops need to stand up and defend the innocent people against bad cops.  And they need to do it publicly.  But actions like calling for a boycott of Beyonce security because she’s expressing her empowerment doesn’t help them at all.  It’s a bad defensive move.   I would love to see them sit down and talk to her.  She could tell them about her concerns and they could tell her about theirs.  THAT’S how solutions happen.  THAT’S how we fix things.

The Enemies Among Us in San Diego

On Wednesday of this week (2/10/16), the California Coastal Commission voted to remove its chair, Charles Lester.  Lester is has been a good ally to the pro-Conservation movement. Currently the commission is split with 6 people who tend to vote pro-conservation and 6 people against. This is the result of the past three years of a pro-developer movement that appears to have support from none other than our own Governor Jerry Brown.

It seemed to start in 2013 when then Assembly Speaker John Perez replaced Commissioner Esther Sanchez with Greg Cox.  Ironically, most of ActCoastal’s records of Sanchez’s time on the commission seem to be unavailable from their website.  However, in 2010, Sanchez was rated to have a 90% pro-conservation voting record.  And in a San Diego Union Tribune article about the removal, Jill Witkowski, a representative for San Diego Coastkeeper called Sanchez, “a good friend to the coast.”  She then went on to say, “Esther Sanchez has been an excellent commissioner protecting our coastal rights and our coastal resources,” Witkowski said. “Esther has often gone out on a limb to protect our coast.” And for her efforts, the Speaker of the Assembly, John Perez removed her.

But I really need to call out a politician who, IMO, people seem to think is pro-environment, but whose record speaks otherwise, and that is former Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins. In 2013, Atkins supported the appointment of Greg Cox to the Coastal Commission to replace Esther Sanchez.  In the one year that she was speaker, the conservation voting record of the commission went from a 71% pro-Conservation rating down to a dismal 47%.  In July of 2015, Speaker Atkins had the opportunity to replace Vargas (whose pro-conservation voting record is a dismal 39%), but instead, she reappointed him.

Cox’s alternate is Escondido City Council Member, Olga Diaz, who actually cast the deciding vote.  Like Esther Sanchez, Olga is a personal friend of mine and while I’m disappointed in her vote, she has her reasons for voting the way she did.  I don’t really understand what those reasons are.  One thing that she did discuss with me was the suspicion of some of the commission members, of ActCoastal’s rating of the Commission votes.  Apparently many commissioners feel that it’s “propaganda” and that ActCoastal cherry picks votes.  I tend to be skeptical of that, considering that it wasn’t just ActCoastal people who comprised the hundreds of people who showed up at Morro Bay to show support for Lester.  She also felt that the Coastal Commission Act was much stronger than one person.  I suspect that she was manipulated into her vote by nefarious commissioners who wanted Lester out.  I suspect that they fed her a bunch of bull, such as the idea that ActCoastal was peddling “propaganda.”  Sadly, she believed it and voted the way that she did.

Again, however, I don’t hold Diaz completely responsible for the outcome of this vote when Atkins was the person who could have replaced Mark Vargas in July.  Vargas, and other commissioners were apparently upset about the time it takes to process a development application.  That was, apparently, their excuse for firing Lester.   I’m not sure upon what information they are basing their assumption that these applications can and will be processed more efficiently if someone else gets in that position, but apparently they believed that Lester was stalling these applications.  I think that’s an omen of what’s to come.  Faster developer application processing means more development.

And if Atkins had replaced him with someone more environmentally friendly, then this commission would not have had to votes to fire Lester.  Atkins was the environmental movement’s last defense and she sold us out.  It’s even more ironic that her protégé, Todd Gloria, who has put forward some very, very awesome climate change legislation during his time as a San Diego City Council person, was instrumental in the removal of Sanchez.  Apparently, he was originally slated as the person who would replace Sanchez.  If that happened, I’m sure the vote yesterday would have never taken place.  But Speaker Perez failed to appoint him, and so we are here today.  Nevertheless, Gloria also supported the appointment of Greg Cox to the Commission.  To his credit, Gloria has more than redeemed himself with the Climate Action Plan that he put forward to San Diego.

Sadly, Atkins bullied her way into the California State Senate race, challenging incumbent and fellow Democrat Marty Block for the position.  Marty bowed out of the race a couple of weeks ago in an effort to not harm the local San Diego Democratic Party, which has had serious division problems due to poor leadership.  Block has been a true champion of the environment and while he feels that he and Toni are so similar on so many things, the fact is that her actions regarding the environment have really been stacking up against her, IMO.  After this vote, I’m not sure how or what she can point to in regard to this situation that would ever redeem her in the eyes of the environmental community.   She was the person with the power to do something and she didn’t.   As a result we are likely to see our public accesses to California Beaches diminish and offshore drilling increase.