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In 2018, the town of Paradise, and much more, burned to the ground. In California, large, devastating fires are being called the new normal. “The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people,” reports the Guardian. Twelve years! How will we respond?
On Tuesday, Aug. 21, the first day of the historic National Prison Strike, Democracy Now interviewed Amani Sawari. The segment began with an excellent interview with Cole Dorsey of IWOC and then suddenly the bright, brilliant, radiant face of 23-year-old Amani filled the screen and a voice of eloquence, inspiration and power filled the room. All it took was host Amy Goodman saying she’s a journalist, and, involuntarily, spontaneously, I pointed at the screen and shouted, “There’s the new Bay View editor!” Amani and I have been talking ever since, and she came to visit Oct. 8-12. What fun we had.
Nov. 6 is election day. If you haven’t done it already, register to vote. Encourage others to register and vote. Most of your ballots will be filled with local or state issues and candidates. Voters in the United States need more choices than Democrats and Republicans. If you see the name of a Green Party candidate, I hope you will check them out. Greens believe that people and the health of the planet should be more important than corporate profit.
I recently finished reading David Barton Smith’s book, “The Power to Heal, Civil Rights, Medicare, and the Struggle to Transform America’s Health Care System.” It is an excellent history of healthcare in the United States, particularly in the 1950s and ‘60s. For me, as a longtime Medicare for All advocate, the book also provided insight about our continuing struggle to achieve better healthcare in the U.S. at a lower cost for everyone.
On the Muppets show in the 1970s, Kermit the Frog sang, “It’s not easy being green.” It isn’t easy being a Green Party candidate. There are advantages and disadvantages. I was a Democrat until 2001, at age 50, I registered to vote with the Green Party. Greens value people, planet and peace over profit. Leaders in the Democratic Party do not. I am a candidate for Congress because San Francisco voters do not have an advocate for peace in Washington.
Why do Black folks catch more hell in San Francisco than just about anywhere else? Why has a larger portion of the Black population been pushed out of San Francisco than any U.S. city? We detect the reason is Black Power, which used to be wielded skillfully by community leaders back in the day. With London Breed, a Black woman born and raised in the projects – someone who understands us as we understand her – leading the mayor’s race, this election is our opportunity to rebuild our Black Power by making up our minds to VOTE 100%!
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is a leading proponent of only incremental change to our broken healthcare system, and legislators at the state level are following her lead. Sens. Lara and Atkins have stopped advocating for SB 562. Sen. Scott Wiener, Assemblyman David Chiu and Assemblyman Phil Ting all say they support Medicare for All. How long must we wait before these Democratic Party leaders do something to help us achieve better healthcare at a lower cost?
It has been years since large numbers of people marched to protest wars at home and abroad. I think people stopped coming out when they saw that our marches had little impact on spending priorities in Washington. Massive military spending and unchecked sales of arms to other countries have not produced peace. Instead, violence and terrorism increase around the world. March with us. More than 100 Bay Area organizations have endorsed the April 15 rally and march in Oakland.
War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Edwin Star sang those lyrics in 1970 on his album War & Peace. The song “War” was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 15 weeks. In 1970, the U.S. was deeply involved in the Vietnam war. I was 19, prime age for feeding the war machine. The lyrics have influenced my life ever since. Massive spending on our military hasn’t resulted in peace. Instead, we have more war and terrorism. Funding peace-building and peace-keeping should be a top priority of every member of Congress.
On Jan. 13, at 8:07 a.m., a ballistic missile alert went out to TV, radio and mobile phones in Hawaii; 38 minutes later, the alert was canceled. Authorities blamed the false alert on a button pushed in error during a shift change. During those 38 minutes, there was widespread panic. Many tried to find some sort of shelter. A few, realizing shelter would most likely not protect them, stayed out in the open. What would you do?
More than 200 people died while living on the streets of San Francisco in 2017. I recently received an invitation from the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness to attend the annual homeless persons memorial on the evening of Dec. 21. Throughout the evening, readings and songs by community and religious leaders were followed by the most powerful part of the memorial, the reading of the names of those who have died. As the death toll mounted to over 200, my anger grew.
Since the mid 1970s, Democrat and Republican politicians in Washington have prioritized the interests of the real estate industry over the need for affordable low and middle income housing for Americans. The Nixon administration placed a moratorium on new approvals for the construction of all federally subsidized housing. The Reagan administration slashed the budget of the Department of HUD. Presidents and members of Congress since then have not restored it.
Healthcare is a human right! I’ve heard that phrase many times in my 20 years advocating for universal healthcare. Until now, few legislators in Sacramento have spoken those words. On Oct. 23 and 24, however, California Assembly members Jim Wood and Joaquin Arambula, co-chairs of the Assembly’s Select Committee on Healthcare, said, “Healthcare is a human right.” The other Democratic members of the committee, Autumn Burke, David Chiu and Laura Friedman, all agreed.
My column last month reported on the vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to support HR 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. The vote was 344 Yes and 81 No. Seventy-nine percent of our elected representatives in the House voted for “nearly $30 billion more for core Pentagon operations than President Trump requested,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle, July 15, 2017.
How much of our defense budget is actually spent on defense? How many U.S. military bases, estimated to be in 150 to 170 countries, do we need to defend ourselves? How much is to protect corporate trade routes or the war for oil? It is important to note that not one other country has a military base on our soil. Since the early 1960s, 50 to 60 percent of discretionary spending has been for the military. 2018 U.S. military spending: $696 billion
In early June, a universal healthcare bill in the California Legislature (SB 562), backed by enormous popular support, was heading to its first committee vote. It passed the committee and the full California Senate, but only because it didn’t include any description of funding. By June 30, the bill had been shelved in the Assembly for the year. It will be taken up again early next year. The major concern by both Democrats and Republicans? How will we pay for it?
In other countries, people enjoy better healthcare at lower cost. Everyone has access to healthcare and average life expectancy is greater. In Canada, with their version of Medicare for All, no one goes bankrupt because of healthcare expenses. In the U.S., healthcare bankrupts more than a million every year. In a recent Kaiser poll, 81 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of all voters supported an Improved and Expanded Medicare for All. What is being done to move us in that direction?
Green Party members are issuing an urgent call for Gov. Jerry Brown to negotiate with California prisoners. Greens are demanding that Gov. Brown and prison officials lift the wall of secrecy and let reporters in to speak to the prisoners, photograph them and record their voices.