THE VOORHIS VOICE
Liberal Voice of the Pomona Valley


May, 2012

www.claremontdems.org




MEETINGS AND SPECIAL EVENTS


Wednesday, May 2, 2012 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Membership Meeting and Reception
April’s monthly meeting has been rescheduled for May 2nd. Our honored guest will be Congresswoman Judy Chu.
The reception will take place at the Napier Center, in Pilgrim Place, 660 Avery Road

Friday, May 4, 2012, 12–2 PM
Issues Committee Luncheon
Rabi’s Café, 930 Central Avenue, Upland
No speaker: Bring your issue

Friday, May 11 2012, 12-2 PM
Monthly Luncheon
LYL Gardens Restaurant, 921 W. Foothill Blvd., Claremont, 909 626-9151
 Cost is $10; meal is served family style. No pork on menu; many vegetarian dishes.
The speakers will be Citrus College President Geraldine Perri and Citrus College Trustee Sue Keith speaking on
 "The Importance of the Community Colleges in California"

Friday, May 18, 2012
Issues Committee Luncheon
Rabi’s Café, 930 Central Avenue, Upland 
No speaker: Bring your issue

Friday, May 25, 2012
Issues Committee Luncheon
Rabi’s Café, 930 Central Avenue, Upland 
No speaker: Bring your issue

Monday, May 28, 2012, 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Monthly Membership Meeting
Porter Hall, 601 Mayflower Rd., Pilgrim Place Campus, Claremont
The speaker will be William Cook, Professor of English at LaVerne College and columnist for Veterans Today
Access Porter Hall from the west side of Berkeley St. at 6th Street



LADCP Endorsed Candidates

27th Congressional District: CONGRESSWOMAN JUDY CHU

25th State Senate District: SENATOR CAROLE LIU

41st Assembly District: COUNCILMAN CHRIS HOLDEN

Judicial Candidates:

Office #3: CRAIG GOLD

Office #38: LYNN DIANE OLSON

Office #65: SHANNON KNIGHT

Office #78: JAMES D. OTTO

Office #114: ERIC HARMON


District Attorney:
  DANETTE MEYERS



GOP Stealth Attack Poses Danger in the Open Primary
By Bob Gerecke

Democrats need to make sure that one of the top two finishers in our primary election for State Assembly will be the candidate who has been endorsed by the California Democratic Convention and by Democratic clubs and other progressive organizations.  His name is Chris Holden.  He’s been a Pasadena City Council member for many years and has served as Mayor; he’s a real estate agent; he’s been a leader in revitalizing downtown Pasadena and in building the Gold Line which will eventually reach Claremont.  He grew up learning about politics and government, because his father was Nate Holden, a Los Angeles City Council member.  He’s the most experienced and knowledgeable candidate and the one whom grassroots Democrats trust.  It’s essential that every Democrat vote during the primary election and vote for him.

We also need to vote for Congresswoman Judy Chu and for State Senator Carole Liu.  Fortunately, they aren’t in as much danger as is Chris Holden who faces a Republican stealth candidate.

California has a new kind of primary election for all offices except U.S. President.  Instead of simultaneous but separate primaries for each political party, there’s now one primary for all candidates from all parties.  The top two finishers will be the only candidates allowed on the general election ballot, even if they’re both from the same party. This was enacted by a statewide ballot initiative.  I spoke against it at a club meeting

Because minor party candidates have little chance of being among the top two finishers, minor parties are disenfranchised in California. Under the new law as it was written, a candidate does not have to declare his or her party affiliation, although that’s something we should know about every candidate. There is a huge incentive for a party to run a lot of phony candidates who claim to be from the other party.  This will split the other party’s votes, so that no one from the other party is one of the top two finishers.  The other party is then kept off the general election ballot.  Any party can do this, but the Republicans have customarily been more willing to play such dirty tricks.  Also, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC allows a few wealthy individuals or corporations to bankroll a candidate.  It’s now easy for such moneyed interests to put phony candidates on the ballot to split the votes of the party which is less friendly to big money.  This would keep that party’s (i.e., our party’s) candidate off the ballot.

A candidate now has to reach the entire electorate during the primary, not just the voters of his or her own party.  This makes the primary campaign much more expensive, in fact just as expensive as the general election campaign.  The candidates with the most money now have a greater advantage, and this increases the influence of large contributions and large independent expenditures.

This year, many Democrats worried that Republicans will turn out to vote in larger numbers than Democrats during the primary, because the Republicans have a contest for the Presidency, while Democrats don’t.  This could result in us having two Republicans as the top two finishers for State offices in many districts.  Fortunately, Mitt Romney seems to have the Republican nomination sewed up, all of his opponents have dropped out except Ron Paul, and therefore the big Republican turnout may not materialize.  But it will always be a danger in future primaries, and it could have the side effect of giving one party a monopoly on the general election in some districts.

In our own State Assembly District, several candidates are running as Democrats.  At least one, Victoria Rusnak, who unfortunately has loads of money, is a phony Democrat who changed her party registration just before filing to run.  We regard her as a stealth Republican candidate.  If she and the others running as Democrats split the Democratic vote, there may emerge no real Democratic candidate on the general election ballot.  If she is one of the top two finishers along with a Republican, there will be no real Democrat in the general election.  Since she can pick up votes from Republican, Decline to State and minor party voters during the primary, as well as from Democrats, she has a good chance of being one of the top two.

We’ve got to work just as hard in the primary as we do in the general election to turn out the voters for our candidates. In future election years, we’ll need to raise enough money to open a campaign HQ before the primary as well as before the general election.  Customarily we’ve rented a HQ in mid-August, so we can be furnished, equipped and in operation by the beginning of September, two full months before the November election.  We’ve paid rent until mid-November, because we need time to tear down after the election.  From now on, we should be in operation by the beginning of April, two full months before the June primary.  It won’t be logistically feasible to set up, tear down and set up again just to avoid paying rent from mid-June to mid-August, and no landlord would agree to it.  We’ll be renting from mid-March through mid-November, eight months.  At around $2,000 per month, that’s $16,000 per election year.  If we can’t find a landlord who will rent from mid-month to mid-month, we’ll pay $18,000 for nine months.  In either case, it’s much more than the $$6,000 that we’ve spent in the past for rent.  In addition, our costs for utilities, phone, TV, internet and office supplies will also rise proportionately.  Our club will have to become a money-producing machine: in a four-year Presidential election cycle, we’ll need $32,000 to $36,000 just for rent, unless we want to risk defeat for Governor, State Legislature and Congress in the off-year as well as Presidential-year elections.



 Supremes OK Strip-Searches for Anyone Arrested
by Adam Liptak

Washington, DC, April 2, 2012 — The  Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that police may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court’s conservative wing, wrote that courts must not regulate the judgments of correctional officials.

The procedures endorsed by the Court’s majority are forbidden by statute in at least 10 states and are at odds with the policies of federal authorities. According to a supporting brief filed by the American Bar Association, international human rights treaties also ban the procedures that the Supreme Court approved.

The federal appeals courts had been split on the question, though most of them prohibited strip-searches unless they were based on a reasonable suspicion that contraband was present. The Supreme Court did not say that strip-searches of every new arrestee were required; it ruled, rather, that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches did not forbid them.

Now people may be strip-searched after arrests for violating a leash law, driving without a license, and littering. Citing examples from briefs submitted to the Supreme Court, Justice Breyer wrote that people have been subjected to “the humiliation of a visual strip-search” after being arrested for driving with a noisy muffler, failing to use a turn signal, and riding a bicycle without an audible bell. A nun was strip-searched after an arrest for trespassing during an antiwar demonstration. Anyone arrested at an OWS event may now be strip-searched.

Source:  New York Times



 President Obama Signs Anti-Protest Bill, H.R. 347

Washington DC, Mar. 9  ----  President Obama signed bill H.R. 347 (the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011) into law amid numerous protests from the Occupy movement, as well as other agencies. HR 347 enhances Senate bill S. 1794, which restricted people from entering or blocking public areas that have been closed off by Secret Service while a person under their protection is passing through. The law also included major public events, such as the Inaguration and Presidential campaigns.

The new law, which passed the House with a vote of 399-3, adds more protected areas within Washington D.C, and removes the word “willfully,” from the paragraph stating that protesters can be prosecuted if they enter the area “willfully and knowingly.” Representative Justin Amash, R-Michigan, explains this change by saying: “ The bill expands current law to make it a crime to enter or remain in an area where an official is visiting even if the person does not know it’s illegal to be in that area and has no reason to suspect its illegal.”  Once arrested, they can be strip searched. Occupy DC calls these modifications an infringement on their First Amendment rights, because of the areas of D.C. that have been added to the protected areas portion of the act.

Source: www.theinquistr.com



Subsidizing Energy Giants to Wreck the Planet
By Bill McKibben

If you’re running for national office, here are a few basics to orient you (thanks to the OpenSecrets.org web site of the Center for Responsive Politics).  In 2011, the oil and gas industries donated more than $148 million to lobby Congress and federal agencies of various sorts.  The top four lobbying firms were: ConocoPhillips ($20.5 million), Royal Dutch Shell ($14.7 million), Exxon Mobil ($12.7 million), and Chevron ($9.5 million). 

Those figures don’t include campaign contributions, although I can't imagine why corporate money flowing to candidates or their PACs isn’t considered “lobbying.”  When it comes to such donations, the industry has given a total of $239 million  dollars to candidates and parties since 1990, 75% of it to Republicans.

In 2011-2012, Exxon ($992,573) and Koch Industries ($872,912) led the oil and gas list. 

Or think of this another way: The Senate recently voted down a bill sponsored by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez to end congressional subsidies for the top oil companies.  The senators who rejected the measure, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, recipient of $264,700),  received approximately $1.48 million in oil and gas campaign contributions in 2011-2012; those who voted for it, a mere $400,000. 

A similar pattern can be seen in the presidential sweepstakes (with a similar Republican to Democrat ratio). In the present election campaign, Mitt Romney has taken $598,000 from oil and gas interests;  President Obama $131,000.  The Koch brothers have, in fact, given $250,000 to Mitt Romney’s super PAC, Restore Our Future, and that’s undoubtedly a small down payment on contributions to come.


California Democratic Party: Priority Legislation List, 2012

Federal Legislation

HR 2677: Rep. Howard Berman / S 2019: Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act of 2011

To direct the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to issue regulations to reduce helicopter noise pollution in residential areas of Los Angeles County, California, and for other purposes.

HR 4055: Rep. Jackie Speier: Military and Veterans Education Protection Act

To count revenues from military and veteran education programs toward the limit on Federal revenues that certain proprietary institutions of higher education are allowed to receive for purposes of section 487 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes.

State Legislation

AB 1500: Asm. Speaker John A. Pérez: Corporation Taxes: Single Sales Factor: Middle Class Scholarship Fund

The Corporation Tax Law imposes taxes measured by income and, in the case of a business with income derived from or attributable to sources both within and without this state, apportions the income between this state and other states and foreign countries in accordance with a specified 4-factor formula based on the property, payroll, and sales within and without this state, except that in the case of an apportioning trade or business that derives more than 50% of its gross business receipts from conducting one or more qualified business activities, as defined, business income is apportioned in accordance with a specified 3-factor formula. That law, for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2011, allows a taxpayer to apportion its income in accordance with a single sales factor formula, except as provided, pursuant to an irrevocable annual election, as specified. That law also provides that sales of tangible personal property & sales of other than tangible personal property are in this state in accordance w/specified criteria.

This bill would, for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2012, revise the rules that determine whether a taxpayer is doing business in this state, revise the provisions that determine whether sales other than tangible personal property occur in this state, including specific provisions for cable systems or networks, and require a taxpayer, except as provided, to apportion its income in accordance with a single sales factor.

This bill would require any aggregate increase in revenues derived from its provisions, as provided, to be deposited into the Middle Class Scholarship Fund, which the bill would establish, and, upon appropriation by the Legislature, allocate those revenues for the purpose of increasing the affordability of higher education. This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.

AB 1501: Asm. Speaker John A. Pérez: Middle Class Scholarship Program

This bill would establish the Middle Class Scholarship Program under the administration of the Student Aid Commission. The bill would provide that, commencing with the 2012-13 academic year, undergraduate students enrolled at the University of California or the California State University would receive a scholarship award that, combined with other financial aid received by an eligible student, would be at least 23 of the amount charged that student for mandatory system wide fees in that academic year if the student meets the following conditions:
Annual household income does not exceed $150,000; is a resident of this state or exempt from paying nonresident tuition; files specified financial aid forms; and makes timely application or applications for publicly funded student financial aid, as defined, for which he or she is eligible.
The bill would provide that a student whose annual household income exceeds $150,000, but does not exceed $160,000, and who otherwise meets the requirements, would receive a scholarship that is reduced by 10% for each $1,000 by which his or her annual household income exceeds $150,000.

The bill would continuously appropriate from the Middle Class Scholarship Fund to the Student Aid Commission an amount determined by the Student Aid Commission to be sufficient, when combined with financial aid received by eligible students from other sources, to cover the cost of at least 23 of the amount of mandatory system wide fees charged to resident students and students who are exempt from nonresident tuition in the 2012-13 academic year and subsequent academic years.

The bill would authorize the Student Aid Commission, in the event that, in any academic year, there are funds remaining in the Middle Class Scholarship Fund after funds have been allocated to all eligible students of the respective universities, to expend these remaining funds for purposes of the Ortiz-Pacheco-Poochigian-Vasconcellos Cal Grant Program.

The bill would appropriate $150,000,000 from the Middle Class Scholarship Fund to the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges for allocation to community college districts based on calculations of full-time equivalent students. The funds allocated to a community college district pursuant to this provision would be expended for the provision of scholarship grants to students to reduce the impact of enrollment fees on, or to help cover the cost of textbooks and other educational expenses.  This bill would become operative only if AB 1500 of the 2011-12 Regular Session is chaptered and establishes a Middle Class Scholarship Fund. This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.

California Homeowner Bill of Rights Legislative Package  Joined by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced her sponsorship of the subsequent six bills designed to guarantee the following:
  • Basic standards of fairness in the mortgage process, including an end to dual-track foreclosures
  • Transparency in the mortgage process, including a single point of contact for homeowners
  • Community tools to prevent blight after banks foreclose upon homes
  • Tenant protections after foreclosures
  • Enhanced law enforcement to defend homeowner rights – paid for by fees imposed on banks
  • A special grand jury to investigate financial and foreclosure crime
AB 1602: Asm. Mike Eng & Asm. Mike Feuer) / SB 1470: Sen. Mark Leno, Sen. Fran Pavley, Sen. President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg: The Foreclosure Reduction Act of 2012

Require creditors to provide documentation to a borrower that establishes the creditor’s right to foreclose on real property prior to recording a notice of default.  Require creditors to provide documentary evidence of ownership, the chain of title to real property, and the right to foreclose, at the time of the filing of a notice of default.  Prohibit creditors from recording a notice of default when a timely-filed application for a loan modification or other loss mitigation measure is pending.  Prohibit creditors from recording a notice of sale when a timely-filed application for a loan modification or other loss mitigation measure is pending.  Prohibit creditors from recording a notice of sale while a borrower is in compliance with the terms of a trial loan modification or after another loss mitigation measure has been approved.  Require creditors to disclose why an application for a loan modification or other loss mitigation measure has been denied.  Require that notices of foreclosure sales be personally served, including notices of foreclosure sale postponement.  Provide homeowners with a private right of action in instances in which the requirements set forth in the legislation are not followed.

AB 2425: Asm. Holly Mitchell / SB 1471: Sen. Mark DeSaulnier / Sen. Fran Pavley: Due Process Reform Legislation

Require creditors to provide a single point of contact to borrowers in the foreclosure process who will be responsible for providing accurate account and other information related to the foreclosure process and loss mitigation efforts.  Require creditors to provide a dedicated electronic mail address, facsimile number and mailing address for borrowers to submit information requested as part of a loan modification, short sale or other loss mitigation option.  Authorize borrowers to challenge the unlawful commencement of a foreclosure process in court.  Impose a $10,000 civil penalty on the recordation or filing of “robosigned” documents, defined as documents that contain information that was not verified for accuracy by the person or persons signing or swearing to the accuracy of the document or statement.  Require that certain documents be recorded in a county recorder’s office.

AB 2314: Asm. Wilmer Carter / SB 1472: Sen. Fran Pavley: Blight Prevention Legislation

Prevent blight enforcement actions from being taken against new purchasers of blighted property for 60 days, provided that repairs are being made to the property.  Require banks that release liens on foreclosed property to inform local code enforcement agencies of the release so that demolition of blighted property can proceed.  Increase fines against owners of blighted property from $1,000 per day to $5,000 per day, and allow the imposition of the costs of a receivership over blighted property to be imposed directly against the owner of blighted property.

AB 2610: Asm. Nancy Skinner / SB 1473: Sen. Loni Hancock: Tenant Protection Legislation

Require purchasers of foreclosed homes to honor the terms of existing leases and give tenants at least 90 days’ notice before commencing eviction proceedings.

AB 1950: Asm. Mike Davis: Enhancement of Attorney General Enforcement

Impose a new $25 fee to be paid by servicers upon the recording of a notice of default. The fee would be deposited into a real estate fraud prosecution trust fund that would support the Attorney General’s efforts to deter, investigate and prosecute real estate fraud crimes, including the work of the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force. Extend the statute of limitations from one year to four years from the date of discovery for violations of law commonly occurring in connection with foreclosure-related scams, including acting as a real-estate agent without a license and charging up-front fees for loan modification services.

AB 1763: Asm. Mike Davis / SB 1474: Sen. Loni Hancock: Attorney General Special Grand Jury

Authorize the Attorney General to impanel a special grand jury for the purposes of investigating and indicting multi-jurisdictional financial crimes against the state.

AB 1588: Asm. Toni Atkins: Reservist Licensees: Fees and Continuing Education

Existing law provides for the regulation of various professions and vocations by boards within the Department of Consumer Affairs and for the licensure of individuals in that regard. Existing law authorizes any licensee whose license expired while he or she was on active duty as a member of the California National Guard or the United States Armed Forces to reinstate his or her license without examination or penalty if certain requirements are met.
This bill would require the boards described above to waive the renewal fees and continuing education requirements, if either is applicable, of any licensee who is a reservist called to active duty as a member of the United States Military Reserve or the California National Guard if certain requirements are met.

AB 154: Asm. Jim Beall: Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity

Requires health plans and health insurers to cover the diagnosis and medically necessary treatment of a mental illness, as defined, of a person of any age, with specified exceptions, and not limited to coverage for severe mental illness (SMI) as in existing law.

Fiscal Impact: According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee:
  1. Annual increased premium costs in the private insurance market of $60 million. These costs reflect increased premiums by employers for group insurance and premiums paid in the individual health insurance market. These increased costs are partially offset by reduced out-of-pocket costs of $26 million due to reduced co- payments and deductibles.
  2. Federal regulations implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) are likely to reduce the fiscal impact of this bill beginning in 2014. The PPACA requires mental health and substance abuse treatment to be covered as a basic benefit in state-run health insurance exchanges that will provide health coverage to millions of individuals.
AB 1172: Asm. Tony Mendoza: Charter Schools and Negative Fiscal Standing

Allows a school district in financial distress to deny a charter school petition when the creation of the charter school would have a negative fiscal affect. Current charter school regulations do not provide sufficient oversight to ensure all charter schools remain financially and academically sound or meet the legislature’s original intent – to serve as institutions that foster innovation leading to improved student outcomes.

AB 1203: Asm. Tony Mendoza: Employee Release Time

Expands provisions in existing law governing union-paid leaves of absence for classified school employees and local public agency employees who are representatives of employee organizations. The bill does not apply to school or public agency employees who are under an existing collective bargaining agreement with their employer.

AB 1682: Asm. Anthony Portantino: Rape: Statute of Limitations

Existing law defines rape and rape of a spouse and makes each of those crimes a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 3, 6, or 8 years. Existing law requires the prosecution for an offense punishable by imprisonment for 8 years or more to commence within 6 years after the commission of the offense. Under existing law, prosecution for a rape that is alleged to have been committed when the victim was under 18 years of age may be commenced at any time prior to the victims 28th birthday. This bill would, instead, allow the commencement of a prosecution for rape or rape of a spouse at any time after the commission of the offense.


Swing Voters Favor Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Public support for maintaining U.S. forces in Afghanistan has reached a new low. And as the general election campaign begins, swing voters, by nearly two-to-one, favor removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of voters who say they are certain to support Barack Obama in the general election favor a rapid U.S. troop withdrawal. But support for a troop pullout is nearly as extensive (59%) among swing voters — those who are either undecided in their general election preferences, lean toward a candidate or say they may still change their minds. Swing voters make up 23 percent of all registered voters.
Voters who express certainty about voting for Mitt Romney in the fall are divided over what to do about U.S. troops in Afghanistan: 48% favor removing them as soon as possible, while 46% support maintaining U.S. forces there until the situation has stabilized. The latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted April 4-15, 2012 among 1,494 adults, including 1,164 registered voters, finds that public support for keeping troops in Afghanistan has reached a new low.



Just 32% of the public now says that the U.S. should keep troops in Afghanistan until the situation there has stabilized, while 60% favor removing the troops as soon as possible. In May 2011, the public was evenly divided over removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan (48% remove troops vs. 47% keep troops there).




Support for keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan has declined over the past year among Republicans, Democrats and independents. For the first time in a Pew Research Center survey, as many Republicans (48%) favor removing U.S. forces from Afghanistan as soon as possible as support keeping the troops there until the situation is stabilized (45%).

As recently as a month ago, a majority of Republicans (53%) said they favored staying in Afghanistan until the situation stabilized, while 41% favored a troop withdrawal.



Currently, 66% of Democrats and 62% of independents say the U.S. should remove troops as soon as possible, while about three-in-ten (29%) in each group favors keeping forces in Afghanistan.

The proportion of independents who favor a troop pullout has increased 11 points since last May (from 51%) immediately after the killing of Osama bin Laden. Over this period, the percentage of Democrats favoring a troop withdrawal has increased 16 points (from 50% in May).



Growing support for a troop pullout comes as public assessments of the war effort have reached their lowest point since the fall of 2009. Currently, just 38% say the military effort is going very or fairly well, while almost half (49%) say that it is going not too or not at all well. Just a month ago, about half (51%) said that things were going very or fairly well there.

Source: Pew Research Foundation, April 18, 2012


Bigotry: Alive and Well in the USA
By Charles Bayer

Folks over fifty years of age can remember the time when racial bigotry was out in the open. Slavery had morphed into segregation and segregation into the denial of voting rights. What took the place of these overt racist enterprises was a more subtle, less obvious attack on persons of color. Not that many years ago I was part of a group challenging the unwritten housing code in a mid-western city. It was called “red-lining.” As a test we sent an African American couple to a realtor who told them than that there was nothing available east of a certain invisible red-line on the map. The same agent was able to find a list of places for sale east of that line when we sent a white family to him. This sort of unofficial segregation in housing was common, and economic disparity based on race continued to be widespread. Regardless of societal modifications, bigotry was not that well hidden. If white people didn’t spot it, minorities certainly did.



If most of the obvious signs of racism have disappeared from the American scene, an undercurrent of bigotry remains alive and well. Who among us is really free of racial stereotyping? I keep examining my perspective realizing that down deep there may still be a buried racism I can’t even clearly identify. After all, when I was a kid, the family—which claimed to be totally unbiased—used to sit before the radio every evening listening to Amos and Andy. What of that remains somewhere in my genes?  Even my very liberal racially unbiased father knew that all railroad porters were called “George.” And when a Negro family appeared one Sunday at our all white church, the “elders” told the minister to help them find a “colored congregation.”



These days racism flies under a number of half-hidden banners. Consider the continued use of the Confederate flag on state buildings, license plates, lapel pins and elsewhere.  One still occasionally hears African Americans referred to as jigs or coons. We may still encounter the N word where we least expect it, and outside the writings of Mark Twain.  It is not clear whether the murder of Treyvon Martin was racially motivated, but any Black kid knows that he can’t jog near a white-only gated community wearing a hoodie.

While much of the current concern about illegal immigrants is legitimate, down deep may lie an unease about people of color.  The same is true in the current debate over the requirement for a picture identification at the polls.
 
 
One simply needs to eavesdrop on conversations in bars, on the street or even in living rooms to realize that there remains a racial vibration under much of the criticism of President Obama. When almost 20 percent of Republicans and twice that percentage of tea partiers are still convinced that he is neither a Christian nor a native-born American, it is difficult to avoid the racial implications. Then there is the much more overt racism in terms like “ghetto community organizer” or “the pawn used by liberals to apologize for slavery.” There are still more than a handful of Americans who deeply resent the fact that our nation is led by a Black president, even if fewer actually come out and say so.


Perhaps it is these unrecognized forms of bigotry that constitute the most difficult aspect of the problem. No matter how many times we may try to wash it out of our systems, the residue remains, often undetected.  I have long considered myself free of anti-feminist prejudice, but now and then my wife points out just how my language reveals something else. Or I wince inwardly when I leave an airplane realizing it has been piloted by two women.  Recognizing that the seeds of bigotry have taken hold somewhere down deep, is the beginning of rooting them out. As liberal as I believe I am, I find this a hard lesson I continually must relearn. What about you?



Tuskeegee airmen receiving military instruction, 1943


Continuing Assaults on Civil Liberties
By Ivan Light

February:  The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 legalized the arrest and indefinite detention in military prisons of American citizens anywhere in the world without habeas corpus if someone suspects them of terrorism.  This is the law now.

March: National Counterterrorism Center is authorized to hold private information about Americans not suspected of terrorism for five years.  Also in March,Obama also signed the anti-protest law (HR 347) into law. HR 347 makes it a federal felony to trespass onto a premise that a person enjoying Secret Service protection currently occupies even if the trespassers do not know that the protected person is there.   This is the law now.

April: Supreme Court rules that police may strip-search anyone arrested for any crime, however minor, before booking that person. In Britain, police are authorized to read anyone’s email messages and Facebook page for any reason. We also learned in April, thanks to Amy Goodman and Democracy Now, that the National Security Administration expanded its data mining operation to US citizens after 9-11-01, and now collects and hoards vast information that includes, for example, AT&T billing records for the entire population. This is the law now.

Are you getting the message? Civil rights are under attack and in erosion in the USA, but also in Britain. The excuse is the threat of domestic terrorism, but those in authority often exaggerate and distort internal threats when it suits them. Remember the internment of the Japanese Americans? Remember McCarthyism? Remember COINTELPRO?  It’s prudent to examine all the possibilities without believing whatever the authorities put out.

Suppose there were serious political unrest resulting from protracted or worsening economic crisis, renewed foreclosures, worsening economic inequality, drastic cuts in welfare and education spending, more Presidential election fraud, OWS activities, devaluation of the US dollar, new wars with Iran or Somalia?  None of these possibilities is implausible. There is already unrest in the USA, and worse could happen. In that case, what’s to stop the police from arresting protesters, strip-searching them, and sending the protest leadership into lifetime imprisonment without trial in an American gulag? Of course, we are assured now that such an outcome would never happen, but what legal obstacles prevent it from happening?   Answer: None.  It would be perfectly legal. It could happen here.

This offensive against our civil rights is also the appropriate context in which to evaluate President Obama’s recent and “reluctant” approval of military trial for 9-11 suspects rather than a trial in civilian courts. The President claimed that he would have preferred civilian trial; but he also claimed that political agents more powerful than himself, the President of the United States, demanded a military trial so, of course, the President had to accede. What difference does it make who tries the suspects? The difference is this. A civilian trial would imply that the 9-11 perpetrators were common criminals after whom the police, rather than the armed forces should have been sent. So, the Pentagon requires a military trial of the 9-11 suspects to reassure tax payers that the struggle against Islamic terrorism required and still requires expensive military intervention abroad.

What can we do? Civil liberties have no support in Congress because the American people are either uninformed about the new laws or are supinely accepting the official story.  Rescinding these laws seems politically impossible now.  However, we can ask for sunset provisions such that these laws automatically expire on Dec. 31 of every calendar year unless renewed by Congress for the next year. As is, these repressive measures will never expire, and will be in force long after any threat of domestic terrorism is over. These repressive measures then become fascism waiting to happen whereas, if Congress is required to renew their authorization every year, we can at least hope to restore the civil liberties we previously enjoyed once the public can no longer be bamboozled by threats of terrorism and cocked-up wars. We can make a case that even if the threat of terrorism justifies these restrictions on our civil liberties now, it would be prudent to require Congress annually to renew the restrictions rather than authorize restrictions that never expire. It’s the best we can do.

COINTELPRO

“An acronym for Counter Intelligence Program, COINTELPRO was a series of covert and often illegal projects conducted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at surveiling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.

COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological warfare; smearing individuals and groups using forged documents and by planting false reports in the media; harassment; wrongful imprisonment; and illegal violence, including  assassination. Covert operations under COINTELPRO took place between 1956 and 1971; however, the FBI has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception. The FBI's stated motivation at the time was "protecting  national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order."

Source: Wikipedia


Even Time Magazine Criticizes the Supremes

“The conservative Supreme Court majority has been on a crusade in the last few years on behalf of its own very peculiar ideal of freedom. In 2010 in Citizens United v. F.C.C. the court upheld the freedom of large corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to decide federal elections. At the health care arguments last month, the Justices seemed like they may be inclined to stand up for people’s freedom not to participate in a government health care plan. But when there is a case in which the freedom at stake is crystal clear – the right not to needlessly lift one’s genitals or squat while coughing for a law enforcement official – this court is firmly focused on the government’s important interests in taking it away.”

Source:  Time Magazine



Then, smoking denial; result, millions of unnecessary deaths from cancer;  now, climate change denial; result?



Rep. Howard McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), right, chair of the House Armed Services Committee,
 shakes hands with employees at the Northrop plant in Palmdale on April 2nd.
McKeon urged employees to “fight” budget cuts to the Defense Department.
What happened to cutting the budget? Isn’t that the GOP priority?
Source: LA Times


The Voorhis Voice is published by the Democratic Club of Claremont, PO Box 1201, Claremont CA 91711.  The newsletter’s name commemorates the late Jerry Voorhis, a talented and courageous Congress member from Claremont.

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Ivan Light: Email him at claremontdemocrats@yahoo.com


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