MSM discovers racism while Democrats exploit it

After years of calling blatant acts of racism anything but, local and national MSM have taken off their blinders and are now hyper focused on any and every incident. Gone are the media who tried their best to ignore the Jena Six, who fiddled on their balconies as militarized police descended on Ferguson, who never fail to present a gotta-hear-both-sides narrative in the face of obvious racist violence. Well, maybe not gone, exactly. They’re still ignoring institutional bigotry with every fiber of their beings, but they have discovered how lucrative focusing on individual acts of racism can be and they’re doubling down every chance they get.

The recent flurry of racist-bathroom-graffiti out of San Ramon Valley Unified School District is a prime example of this. A search for “san ramon” racist graffiti provided so many results I was able to quickly cherry pick one, two, three, four, five, six stories from separate MSM outlets. Every day for the past couple of weeks, there has been some update on the racist graffiti in the bathrooms of San Ramon Valley Unified School District. While this racist graffiti are acts of anti-Black violence that absolutely need to be ended immediately, turning it into the focus of wall-to-wall MSM coverage only feeds the narrative that this racism is totally brand new and, at least subliminally, directly connect to Trump.

The San Francisco Bay Area never needed Trump to wallow in racism, or bigotry in general. In the several years I’ve lived in San Francisco I’ve seen confederate flags, swastikas and more bigoted graffiti anywhere and everywhere than I can remember. None were ever reported by any media source, MSM or local. Anti-Black racism has flourished in San Francisco’s Castro for decades, yet no whisper of this ever reaches local media because the Castro is too integral to San Francisco’s liberal Democrat mythology, as well as its tourism coffers. No less than San Francisco DA George Gascón announced the presence of multiple white-supremacist cells in the Tenderloin, but the media soon lost interest and the story disappeared.  Local media has always excused police terror, gentrification and tech’s racist hiring polices/general culture from being explicitly racist, always laying the blame at failings in judgement and/or training. Incidents of violent Islamophobia, such as the Castro Valley woman who attacked a praying Muslim man in the park, are allowed to drag out in court with no interest from the press or public, only to take a plea deal for anger-management classes and sixty hours of volunteer work.

The recent surge in MSM reports of racism pushes all of these incidents to the side and sells the narrative that current incidents are wholly new and unique unto themselves, and more importantly, all the fault of Donald Trump and his supporters. Some violent racists are even labelled Trump supporters just because…well, just because. It’s truly been a blessing in disguise for local, state and national Democrats who can now wash their hands of decades of condoning and participating in all sorts of bigotry, claim all violent acts of hate stem from Trump/Republicans and lead the charge against a culture of hate that they have never been afraid to nurture. Instead of leading a genuine and much-needed charge against the levels of oppression that will be attempted by Trump and the Republicans, Democrats will yet again lead their loyal legions into alternating stalemates and defeats while growing their own power for 2020. All while historical and institutional oppression continue about their daily business unabated and unbothered.

The illogical Office of Public Advocate

Prop H, allowing for the creation of an Office of Public Advocate in San Francisco, appears headed for defeat. Thankfully. In theory, the Public Advocate is a fair-play czar of sorts. They field and investigate citizen/whistleblower complaints concerning City services and programs, monitor for cronyism/wasteful spending and appoint a Director of the Office of Citizen Complaints to head police oversight. The city’s “progressive” Democrats proposed the office and have enthusiastically championed it as a check on “moderate” Democrats at City Hall, specifically Mayor Ed Lee, while moderates claim the office would create more bureaucracy and hinder more than it would help. This progressive support and moderate opposition are curious because the office would likely fall into moderate hands and allow them to erase more oversight than they already do, compliments of progressives.

Contested citywide elections in San Francisco usually go to moderates. The election and re-election of Gavin Newsom and Lee. Chiu over Campos for Assembly. Hennessy over Mirkarimi for sheriff. Wiener over Kim for senate. On and on and on. Progressives continually speak about Public Advocate as if the office will only be held by progressives, ever. This flies in the face of every recent citywide election result, though. There is no reason to believe a moderate wouldn’t be elected to the position and spend their entire term on vacation, looking the other way for a likely moderate mayor. Instead of clamping down on waste and cronyism, this would rubber stamp it and anything similar.

The results wouldn’t be any better if a progressive won. David Campos has arguably been the face of Prop H; mainly, his critics allege, because he’s soon to be termed out as D9 Supervisor and wants to extend his life in city government. While Campos denies he’s creating a new office solely for his benefit, he’s assumed to be the progressive choice to hold that office and that would be unfortunate on a few levels. Campos made a name for himself as a progressive politician early in his career, but recently he has drifted right on issues such as police oversight and treatment of homeless people in order to appease local power brokers and gentrifying new residents in his district. Campos has done more the past year to attract the attention of a Public Advocate than to be elected as one. Giving him power of police oversight would be especially problematic considering how he obstructed any attempts to fire then-police-chief Greg Suhr. What would stop him ignoring the community again as Public Advocate?

Moderate or progressive, though, the Office of Public Advocate would have none of the advertised oversight of SFPD because of two poison pills baked into Prop H. The Public Advocate can “appoint a Director of the Office of Citizen Complaints (or its successor) from nominees selected by the Police Commission, subject to the Board of Supervisors’ approval.” The Public Advocate would never have chance to appoint an independent Director of Citizen Complaints because that candidate would never make it past the Police Commission. Any of these watered-down nominees chosen by the Police Commission would then have to be approved by the Board of Supervisors, who also would never approve anyone independent.

Despite all this, progressives have pushed Public Advocate as a fait accompli progressive office that the city must have immediately. Though results aren’t final yet, the San Francisco electorate looks as if they’ve made a rare wise decision and decided against Prop H. Not to worry, though, as the city’s progressives will devise another way to shoot themselves in the foot sooner rather than later.

Social justice and self care

If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you’re involved in social-justice activism in some form. And if you’re involved, you know the personal drain that comes with the work. Longevity in social justice requires, among other things, thick skin, a hard head and a big heart. While these can all be indispensable qualities, they can also be hinderances. A thick skin can prevent you from realizing all the negative energy you absorb and internalize day by day. A hard head can make you think you can push through mental and physical exhaustion as if it’s only mid-afternoon drowsiness. And a big heart can make you not even care, so long as you’re helping those you love and making some difference.

“Ordinary” negative energy can easily build up and affect health. Existing in social-justice spaces will expose you to entirely new levels of negativity, from the constant stream of traumatic news and images you absorb, to violent interactions with people both for and against you. When you feel your body telling you that a little (or long) breather is necessary, listen to it. Otherwise, your mind may decide it’s had enough at any point during your day and take matters into its own hands. A couple of weeks ago I was re-reading everything published about Enrique Pearce for my blog post about him, and halfway through all of it I just started crying. Mostly because of what he’d done, was working up to do next and lack of concern over his whereabouts, but also because I was mentally exhausted from the election and everything else 2016, hadn’t had the sense to take a real break at any point and it was all catching up with me.

That’s the best-case scenario: having it catch up with you at home or similar, where you can catch your breath, sit back and relax for however long. It can also be much more serious than tears and having to get up and walk around for a bit. Don’t let it be if you can help it, though. If you feel increasingly overwhelmed, or like what should take five steps to accomplish is taking you ten for unknown reasons, don’t neglect yourself. Whether it’s taking a break in the moment to walk around, call/text a friend, or something later like gym time, a spa visit or just sitting in a chair and staring at the ceiling for a few hours, take time for self care. Caring for everyone includes caring for yourself.

The Medium problem

Founded in 2012 by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, Medium is now a fashionable internet address for politicians, celebrities, businesses and more. Users praise it for allowing them to focus on content creation without having to manage the back end of their website, and a symbiotic relationship with Twitter gives any user of that service an instant audience on Medium. This convenience comes with a price, however, especially to those focused in social justice or tech criticism: feeding, enabling and providing cover for the same devils they profess to fight.

Just as Jack was able to secure both his and Twitter’s white-savior status with one well-orchestrated trip to Ferguson, Williams has leveraged a roster of high-profile names from social justice and tech criticism into a reputation for bringing “civility to the internet.” This reputation for liberal thought and civility masks a tech company every bit as committed to misogyny, white supremacy, fascism and settler colonialism as its fellow tech kin. Medium can point to any number of beloved-and-trusted activists/orgs that it centers and promotes and say, “Look, ______ uses our service and praises us. We can’t be that bad, right?”

Yes they can. Because Medium is not only using its growing user base and audience to construct an image of charity and altruism; it’s also using them to generate revenue. Lots of it. Medium has thrived while the rest of the tech industry struggles to find new funding, usually valued around $500 million. Williams uses this growing fortune to impact politics in San Francisco, and not in a good way. His $150 million donation to Progress San Francisco funded the most neoliberal candidates San Francisco’s ballot; the candidates most friendly to tech, developers, police and survival of the richest. These are politicians that will support policies of gentrification, police terror and cronyism at every level. And by bringing their brand and audience to Medium, these are the same policies supported by alleged social-justice types everywhere, because their use and support of the platform feeds a monster that consumes oppressed and vulnerable people in San Francisco and elsewhere every single day. Whatever good their platforms may cause is immediately countered by allowing that platform to be hosted by, and bring succor to, the very people they claim to organize against. The dissonance is overwhelming.

NPIC rides Trump to biggest payout in years

Donald Trump’s victory opened the floodgates for winners-and-losers opinion pieces and one week later the current is still running strong. While opinion varies on who won and/or lost other than Trump and Clinton, the NPIC has emerged an early victor in one indisputable statistic: money. Unsure of which politicians to support as government restructures, people are showering donations on nonprofits, especially name-brand ones. They aren’t doing it blindly, either. Trump’s victory was only hours old before the media began suggesting list after list of ways to donate, immediately capitalizing on the public’s fear and exhaustion from the entire election. The ACLU’s website crashed from the weight of everyone trying to donate at once. In addition to a spike in donations, Planned Parenthood has seen a surge in online appointments for IUDs after women have been dangerously and hastily urged to get them as precaution.

This rush to center nonprofits in the resistance to the approaching Trump administration is filled with dangers. The NPIC has long been one of the leading saboteurs among social-justice movements and orgs. They seduce independent activists, organizers and orgs with funding, networking and support, and then use that aid to steer work/messaging/optics in a more corporate/state-friendly direction. Racial-justice orgs suddenly begin centering more white people. Feminist collectives begin centering more white men. Abolition groups suddenly preach reform and cooperation with the state and its surrogates. Those wise enough to reject NPIC offers of help usually find themselves shoved toward the margins of their movement, constantly smeared and gaslighted into joining the hive mind.

NPIC donations are also surging because of expectations that Trump will slash federal funding to cities, especially those with Democratic City Halls. Many of these City Halls have already been slashing funding to social services to cover for tax breaks given out to tech and other corporations, while opening a fast track for tech to privatize services that are being slashed or eliminated altogether. Should the Trump administration cut funding as expected, tech and the NPIC will be ready and waiting to step in and continue their partnership in privatization. And as long as the NPIC remains a symbol of hope for stopping Trump, this privatization will be seen as welcome relief and rescue, instead of the gilded fascism it actually represents.

So if not the ever-growing ranks of the NPIC, who is there to support financially? Give your money to women; women of color, specifically. Support truly independent activists and organizers who are doing real work but never seeing a penny of big donation waves. Give to them directly and urge others to do the same.

A very brief history of post-election Democratic meltdowns

The Democratic Party has been losing presidential elections for a very long time. They even still win on occasion, although those victories eventually feel like losses, as well. These losses are always followed by campaigns of scorched earth where Democrats abandon any pretense of liberal compassion and seek vengeance against imagined wrongs as if they were the Furies themselves. A look back at these meltdowns from 2000 forward reveals a party in perpetual adolescence, knocking over anything in its path when it doesn’t get its way.

2000

The 2000 election and its aftermath are the blueprints for future Democrat losses. Nominate a key figure from Bill Clinton’s White House despite constant protest from the party’s left, refuse to acknowledge any of their flaws and then react with scorned rage when their aggressive mediocrity loses the election. As the Bill Clinton years wound down into a morass of corruption, the DNC decided to stay the rotten course and back Al Gore as their nominee, despite Gore being as disgusted by Bill as the rest of the country. Unfortunately for the Dems, the rest of the country was just as disgusted with Gore. He lost his home state of Tennessee, the Clintons’ home state of Arkansas and found his fate tied to the state of Florida, where Democrats’ opinion of him ranged from indifference to antipathy:

In Florida, Bush won the votes of 308,000 Democrats, that is 12 times more Democrats than Nader’s mere 24,000. Gore also lost 191,000 self-described liberals to Bush, compared to less than 34,000 who voted for Nader. In addition, half of all registered Democrats did not even bother voting. For about one million Florida Democrats it was: Vote Bush or don’t vote. If one percent of any of those categories had voted for Gore he would have easily won Florida.

A Republican Supreme Court and Republican Florida leadership also contributed to Gore’s loss, but once Gore conceded it wasn’t long before the Democrats chose the target of their ire: Ralph Nader, specifically, and generally but more importantly, the Green Party. The Clinton administration moved the Democratic Party far to the right by the time all was over. Wall Street alliances, wars and full support of the police state were now centered by a party that had once claimed to be the party of peace and love. The Green Party offered an alternative from the Democrats’ left, and the Democrats couldn’t abide it. They brought the full weight of their spin doctors and PR machines against the Green Party, and eventually all third parties. Every violent action from the Bush administration was Nader’s fault and the Green’s fault for having dared challenge the Dems. It was the litany they would repeat religiously for four years.

2004

Having effectively silenced third parties after four years of gaslighting them for Bush’s victory over Gore, the Democrats needed a new scapegoat in 2004 when they nominated Al Gore’s slightly more charismatic clone John Kerry to win the presidency from Bush. Kerry proved to be just as ineffective a candidate as Gore, and even had they been elected his running mate John Edwards would have sunk their administration with all the scandals stemming from his martial infidelity. The fact that the Democrats were determined to hold the Clinton’s center-right positions on most issues didn’t help matters, either. So after the votes were counted and the Democrats came up short again, the natural and obvious culprit was…LGBTQA rights:

“I believe it did energize a very conservative vote,” Ms. Feinstein said of the same-sex marriages here. “I think it gave them a position to rally around. I’m not casting a value judgment. I’m just saying I do believe that’s what happened.”

“So I think that whole issue has been too much, too fast, too soon,” she added. “And people aren’t ready for it.”

“Don’t get mad at me. I’m just telling it like it is,” for all intents and purposes. In addition to abuse suffered at the hands of Republicans, the LGBTQA community now had to listen to their basic human rights being blamed for four more years of the worst president in recent history. As with the Green Party, the Democrats grabbed the first group they could think of, and slapped the blame on them with no hesitation.

2008

The next presidential election was perhaps the most surprising in US history, with unknown Barack Obama coming out of almost nowhere to defeat fait accompli candidate Hillary Clinton. Though an overall win for Democrats, the election wasn’t without its drama for them. The primaries were especially brutal between the ruthless Clinton machine and an Obama campaign that continuously gave better than it got. Nonetheless, the end of Hillary’s primary campaign provided plenty of blame and fear mongering as she tossed out one far-fetched theory after another explaining why she was still a stronger candidate than Obama. White people liked her more. He could be assassinated. Only after negotiations with Obama personally brokered by Dianne Feinstein at her home did Hillary finally agree to concede to the voters’ will. What should have been a standard concession process turned into weeks of Hillary trying to further wound Obama in hopes of convincing delegates of her superiority. Even in victory, the Democrats practice scorched earth.

2012

A mostly subdued election, though there was increasing gaslighting of Obama supporters who were becoming increasingly disenchanted with him and were leaning towards third parties or abstention. Foreshadowing for….

2016

And here we are, right where we are. The current blame game hasn’t ended yet, but so far we’ve seen blame doled out to third parties, the FBI and media, Russia’s constant scapegoating and others. As always, though, the Democrats see no reason to share any of the blame. They did the best they could, and if we weren’t bright enough to choose them, our loss. Their organizing to challenge Trump’s presidency has so far consisted of nothing but attempts to co-opt the work of activists, organizers and orgs outside the Democratic party, and boost local white activists through constructed “peaceful protests.” No doubt these underachieving efforts will result in a majestic display of 2020 scorched earth.

Tech’s municipal-privatization creep

Tech continues its slither into all facets of local to national government by lobbying Sacramento-area officials to allow them to sidestep the municipal-contract process altogether. Tech’s proposal is based in part on the Startups in Residence program:

West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon called the program a success as it helped city officials think differently about technology and resulted in a potential long-term contract with one app-maker. The platform uses mapping software to help the city locate homeless people and direct them to public services

The municipal-contract system is a process which, ideally, ensures public contracts go to vetted contractors for reasonable prices. This is rarely the case and the system is often pushed into the realm of farce, but at least companies are going through the motions to perform democracy for us. Allowing tech to bypass this could create an open-ended trial period where they could test technology with no prescribed oversight. This would be concerning enough if tech were only experimenting on street lights and crossing signals, but Sacramento is one of many cities were tech is allowed to track homeless people like cattle; under the guise of directing them to social services, but often for the sole purpose of telling police where to go to harass people and destroy encampments. Why risk an embarrassing scandal that could touch the city and tech companies when they can claim their violent tactics were just tests and trials, failures to never again be repeated?

Tech is destructive enough when it follows the rules. Whether the Twitter tax break or rich techies snatching soccer fields from the Latinx community, tech is militant in its all-for-us-none-for-you quest. To such an extent that old-school downtown businesses have long felt threatened and wondered where their love was. Granting tech a separate, loosely regulated, easily manipulated, contract-free municipal-contract process is the newest instance of Democratic City Halls giving tech the keys to the kingdom and freedom to do whatever with them. At the expense of everyone else.

Peaceful protests: Democrats seize the protest narrative

Politicians and protests are rarely a harmonious match. Politicians are often the focus of protests and are rarely in a position to speak in concert and share a camera with organizers. Politicians and police, with help from all-too-willing media, often portray protests as violent and focus on vandalism and property damage frequently caused by agent provocateurs separate from the original protests. Politicians and police rarely if ever mention outside agents as responsible, though, always focusing on organizers of the initial protest in an effort to discredit them. Donald Trump’s election as president has opened a door for Democratic politicians to enter the protest arena and they are taking full advantage by smearing the efforts of established Black and Latinx community activists/organizers, centering themselves and surrogates and seizing control of the narrative around individual protests/actions to advance their own agenda.

Libby Schaaf and city officials were quick to scold protestors after property damage from protests immediately following the election; they even convinced Representative Barbara Lee to join one such scolding that was cancelled soon after word leaked. The organizers of these initial protests also organize protests against police terror and city/state corruption, so Libby and her cronies have no interest in seeing otherwise adversaries uplifted in any way. Better to denounce their efforts as violent and destructive and then swoop in to lead the way after they’re thoroughly discredited as dangerous. These community organizers, mostly women of color, are erased through such state propaganda, and replaced with “concerned citizens” who are usually white, affluent and more than willing to front “peaceful protest” propaganda in exchange for personal advancement/enrichment. If they play the game well enough, these budding white activists can rise through the ranks of the NPIC or even local/state government, while Black and Latinx organizers in Oakland continue to be their stepping stones.

The organizing and media coverage of The Hands Across Lake Merritt event yesterday in Oakland was a textbook example of this. Promotion for the event repeatedly referenced it as “peaceful” in advance, pointedly distancing it from earlier protests roundly portrayed as violent and dangerous. The event’s creation is credited to Alison White, a somatic therapist in Oakland who organized the event to make herself feel better:

She regularly walks around Oakland’s three-mile Lake Merritt, considered a “jewel of the city,” and talked to a handful of like-minded liberal friends about putting together a peaceful, therapeutic event for the community to join and heal. On Wednesday, she posted a public Facebook invitation for anyone to show up at the lake to join hands on Sunday afternoon.

“We all need to be accepting of each other,” White said of wanting to bring people together to heal, not to fight or protest or break windows of shops, which has been a recurring theme in some recent anti-Donald Trump protests in Oakland.

Note how White specifies the event is not a protest, going so far as to lump protests, fights and breaking windows together as acts of violence. This is to further smear existing community organizers and slander their work. Sharing the idea with her “like-minded liberal friends” through her somatic-therapy Facebook page all but guaranteed a largely white crowd the day of the event. Though media is usually very critical and conservative when estimating crowds at protests such as those organized by Black Lives Matter, a Lake Merritt organizer was allowed to include a highball estimate of 10,000 people with no scrutiny or followup from the reporter. This “peaceful, family-friendly and non-violent” environment was also due to the lack of armed/armored police, attack dogs, military vehicles and the threat of tear gas or worse. They were able to enjoy a peaceful afternoon of friendly protest simply because the state was allowing it. And if the state was allowing it, be certain it was in service to the state.

It was only September of last year when newly arrived white gentrifying Lake Merritt residents began calling the police on Black and Latinx drummers who regularly played in the park. Where were Alison White and her like-minded liberal friends then? Like the work of community organizers, drum circles had to be slandered and violently removed by police because they were existing in space desired by white supremacy and its settler colonialism. At a time when so many people and orgs are joining forces to resist the Trump presidency, Democrats see their best chance in years to seize the protest narrative from the left and use it to further strengthen themselves and their cronies. The “peaceful protest” narrative is currently one of their most ubiquitous propaganda tools and should be immediately recognized for what it is: an attempt to derail and usurp grassroots community organizing and protest, and replace it with NPIC-directed performances of reform.

#CalExit and Silicon Valley’s secession heist

Donald Trump’s election as president opened a flood gate of flimsy analysis and hot-take solutions. As people grasped for ways protest his rapidly approaching presidency, the idea of California secession bubbled to the top again. While there have been occasional attempts of at least partial secession since California first became a state, recent secession campaigns are the creations of Silicon Valley elite; powerful, petulant children vying for a kingdom of their own.

Silicon Valley wasted no time leveraging Trump’s victory as an excuse to rekindle their tech-utopia hopes. Prominent tech investor Shervin Pishevar began tweeting his secession plans before Trump’s victory was reality. Pishevar was quickly joined by powerful tech investors such as Jason Calacanis and tech cronies in government such as former Campbell mayor and current California Assemblymember Evan Low. Pishevar wraps this in righteous patriotism, claiming it’s California’s responsibility as a global economic power to lead by example.

US Census, Ruhrfisch, Spesh531
US Census, Ruhrfisch, Spesh531

Where exactly are we being led, though? Six Californias, tech’s 2014 attempt at secession via breaking up California into six new states, paints a clear portrait. Venture capitalist Tim Draper was its architect and generated some buzz, though it ultimately failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Note how North California (yellow), Silicon Valley (green) and West California (dark blue) are finely carved, while the remaining portions of the state are left to the sides like scrap. This would create states for San Francisco Bay Area-Sacramento, Silicon Valley itself, and Los Angeles. The centers of California’s tax-revenue generation would be reborn as wealthy states able to keep their riches for themselves, while the other new states would be consigned to poverty from birth.

California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office issued a 2013 report about Six Californias that said the same:

The gaps are underscored in California’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s analysis of the proposal. According to the report, the new state of Silicon Valley, which would encompass most of the Bay Area, Santa Clara County and parts of the Central Coast, would have the highest per capita income in the nation, out-ranking Connecticut (funny coincidence that Draper happens to reside here). Meanwhile, the neighboring state of Central California, encompassing mostly poor agricultural counties in the Central Valley, would be at the very bottom in per capita income, behind Mississippi.

Silicon Valley would get a white-supremacist utopia, and its allies to the north and south would be rewarded with their own states, as well. The other new states, though? All those “undeserving” people “leeching” off tech’s hard work? They would be left to rot with a minimal tax base and no way of funding public services, new targets for bigotry and scorn.

How is this different from the nightmare scenarios of Trump’s America? It isn’t. Despite all their performances of altruism and charity to the contrary, Silicon Valley remains the spoiled child of Wall Street both in ideology and practice. They generate obscene wealth by purchasing local governments and then absorbing all surrounding wealth into themselves, leaving nothing but the husks of neighborhoods and communities behind. A nano-swarm of locusts devouring everything in sight for their sake and theirs alone. #CalExit is the re-purposing of these ideas into an alleged strategy of resistance against Trump, when in reality it’s simply another way of reaching the same terminus, but with Silicon Valley’s best and brightest feasting upon us instead of Trump’s. More proof that Peter Thiel is far from a Silicon Valley outlier; he’s their truest representative.

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