Eric Bauman as LA’s Macchiavelli?


 

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My commentary relates to this article which is running in the Los Angeles Weekly:

http://www.laweekly.com/2011-12-22/news/eric-bauman-l-a-democratic-party-kingmaker/#disqus_thread

The accusation that Eric Bauman is “Macchiavellian” is based on the unstated premise that Macchiavelli wrote in The Prince that “The ends justify the means.” Macchiavelli never wrote that phrase and if Eric is Macchiavellian, it is because his long years of experience have given him the wisdom of the phrase that Macchiavelli really wrote: “Si guarda al fine,” which better translated means “the outcome is what counts” or “one must think of the final outcome.”

I am the quintessential outsider as a member of the Peace & Freedom Party (who despises most of the leaders of my own party too) and somewhat like Eric, I know where all the bodies are buried because I was either on the burial detail or else I had it under surveillance (I’ve been a private investigator for over 30 years). Yet, my political and professional involvements lead me to agree with Eric’s approach to supporting the issues that are important to him.

Term limits? The most important thing they have accomplished in Sacramento and at the municipal level is to hand more actual power to legislative staffers, even though the technical authority to vote and make decisions resides with those who are elected. Experience counts in legislative bodies and when the staffers have been around longer than a legislator or council member, the institutional memory confers more power to the staff.

The logic of Eric’s preference for more or less friendly incumbents is perfectly sound. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Words may show a man’s wit, but his actions, his meaning.” Why exchange oratory during a campaign from somebody who has never worked in government for the known record and ability of an incumbent? The AFL-CIO has a tried and true rule that is institutionalized for candidate endorsements: if an incumbent has a 95% or better COPE rating they should be endorsed except in exceptional circumstances.

The bottom line is that Eric is pragmatic while maintaining his idealism. As Macchiavelli really wrote, he doesn’t lose sight of the final outcome in any of his political calculations. He follows the same pragmatic path that led Morris Kight–West Coast Founder of the Gay Liberation Front and a member of the Peace & Freedom Party–to leave for greener pastures with the Democratic Party where he could actually get things accomplished.

Morris Kight & Don Kilhefner in their Gay Liberation Front days

“Radicalism is the Conservativism of Tomorrow”


 

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Ambrose Bierce wrote in his Devil’s Dictionary that “Radicalism is the Conservativism of tomorrow, injected into the affairs of today.”

One of the joys of aging is to have been a radical in one’s youth, to continue to be a radical, and to be proven right (or in my case, be proven left?) about past ideas that have been proven correct by time and the evolution of popular opinion.  Today’s Los Angeles Times (December 22, 2011) demonstrated I’ve been correct long before popular opinion and the entrenched views of bureaucracy got up to speed.

The simpler of the two issues was editorialized today:

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-ed-rape-20111222,0,5797126.story

Years ago, I got resolutions of support for changing the 80 year old definition of rape that is used by the FBI for Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistical purposes along the lines suggested by the Women’s Law Project passed unanimously by the Board of Directors of the California Association of Licensed Investigators (CALI, the world’s largest private detectives’ organization) and by the San Fernando Valley/Northeast Los Angeles Chapter of the National Organization for Women.

In June of this year, I also succeeded in having the Board of California NOW unanimously pass a resolution in support of changing the UCR Rape definition:

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2011/06/19/california-now-takes-on-criminal-justice-issues/

As Monty Python would say, “and now for something completely different.”

The lead article in today’s Los Angeles Times business section discusses the landmark settlement of Countrywide Mortgage (now owned by Bank of America) with the federal government of claims that the company discriminated against African American and Latino borrowers on their home mortgages.  The claims were settled for a class of about 200,000 families for $335,000,000.00.

Turn the clock back to 1994 when I ran for California State Treasurer against Phil Angelides (Democrat) and Matt Fong (Republican) on the Peace & Freedom Party ticket.  I had been investigating corruption, discrimination and sexual harassment by Countrywide Mortgage.  In my campaign statement in the California Ballot Pamphlet, I called for a boycott of Countrywide Mortgage that was sent by the state to millions of registered voters.   Here’s a campaign statement from 1998 on the issues involving Countrywide:  http://www.smartvoter.org/1998nov/ca/state/vote/tucker_j/paper1.html.  After the Ballot Pamphlet was mailed out  I received a telephone call from an attorney I was working with in lawsuits against Countrywide.  He in turn had just gotten a call from two attorneys representing Countrywide Mortgage along with certain top company officials.

The gist of the call was begging him to call me off of Countrywide because a certain top company official was in the middle of telephoning a hit man to have me taken out because he was so furious about my public call for a boycott.  The Countrywide attorneys said that they’d talked him out of the hit while he was in the process of dialing.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I didn’t call off my activities against Countrywide, prompting then Countrywide President Angelo Mozilo to become a campaign contributor to Phil Angelides who was defeated in 1994 ($5,000 to Angelides from Countrywide in 1994) but came back to win the State Treasurer’s post (I ran again in that race) in 1998 ($10,000 from Countrywide to Angelides in 1998).

Fast forward to today.  Phil Angelides was picked by President Obama to head the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.  I wonder why Mozilo contributed to Angelides’ campaign for State Treasurer in 1998?  Was he just pissed off at me or was he hedging his bets?  Notice that nobody has been charged criminally from the old Countrywide Mortgage company leadership.

Phil Angelides wasn’t the only politician who accepted campaign contributions from Mozilo by any means and borrowers weren’t the only people swindled or suckered by the company.  When I was a delegate to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the AFL-CIO sent us down a program which promoted Countrywide Mortgage as purportedly being a labor friendly lender!

Phil Angelides

By the way, if anybody doubts my contention that I received that telephone call, I’ll take a polygraph administered by any American Polygraph Association certified examiner.

La Raza Unida Against War Crime Investigation for Sri Lanka?


 

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I posted an article to Facebook regarding the demand for an independent war crimes inquiry into atrocities committed by the Sri Lanka army and government against the Tamil minority of that island.  It speaks for itself.  In response to it, I received a comment from Ernesto Ayala (son of Xenaro and brother of Libertad) that is nothing short of astounding and outrageous:

Jan B. Tucker recommends a link.

Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil leaders called Monday for an international war crimes inquiry into events during the final stages of the country’s civil war, criticizing a commission report that cleared government forces of deliberately targeting civilians.
· · Share · about an hour ago

For context, here’s the entire article:

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil leaders called Monday for an international war crimes inquiry into events during the final stages of the country’s civil war, criticizing a commission report that cleared government forces of deliberately targeting civilians.

The United States, meanwhile, expressed concerns that the report did not fully address all the allegations of serious human rights violations. The State Department called on the Sri Lanka to address those shortcomings, but stopped short itself of supporting an international inquiry.

Lawmakers in the Tamil National Alliance, the main political party representing the ethnic minority, said the report by the government-appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission was a “serious assault” on the dignity of war victims who testified before it and damaged the chances of genuine reconciliation between the country’s embittered ethnic groups.

“By mischaracterizing the crimes committed during the last days of the war as isolated acts of individual perpetrators, the LLRC has effectively granted immunity to civilian and military leaders responsible for devising the policies that led directly to the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” they said in a statement.

The commission said last week that government forces did not target civilians, but acknowledged that a few isolated violations by individual soldiers needed to be investigated further. It accused the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels of routinely violating international humanitarian law.

Earlier this year, a panel appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it found credible allegations of serious abuses by both sides and called for an international inquiry.

Sri Lanka’s government appointed the commission last year amid intense pressure from international human rights groups and Western governments to establish accountability for alleged war abuses, amid claims that thousands of Tamil civilians died in the final five months of the war. The government is now expected to argue that an international inquiry is unnecessary.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the Sri Lankan commission had made substantive recommendations on issues including reconciliation, devolution of power, demilitarization and disappearances. But she said it lacked a comprehensive plan to act on them and left open questions about accountability for alleged rights violations.

“We have concerns that the report … does not fully address all the allegations of serious human rights violations that occurred in the final phase of the conflict,” Nuland told a news conference. “So this leaves questions about accountability.

Asked if there should be an international inquiry, Nuland said: “Let’s see what they are willing to do going forward.”

The U.S. has previously said that pressure would grow for an international probe if Sri Lanka should fail to investigate alleged abuses properly.

***********

So exactly what does “NO!NO!” mean in response to that article?

Is it some kind of joke?  The massacre of 40,000 civilians, execution of prisoners of war, torture of prisoners and the mass rape currently being used to humiliate and control the Tamil minority is not a laughing matter.

Is it an official expression of the faction of La Raza Unida Party (LRUP) controlled by the Ayala family of support for the Sri Lankan government?

Sounds like it to me.

If so, it’s consistent with the implications of questions I’ve asked in past blog entries about the apparent ties of LRUP to the Sri Lankan tourist industry, propping up this corrupt and despicable government financially in flagrant disregard of boycotts by human rights organizations:

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2011/12/09/truth-hurts/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2011/11/09/international-human-rights-groups-denounce-sri-lanka/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2011/11/18/a-deathly-silence-from-xenaro-ayala/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2011/10/25/raza-unida-needs-to-come-clean/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2011/10/24/my-bad/


 

 

 

Vaclav Havel: R.I.P.


 

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Vaclav Havel: Poet, human rights activist, President

One of the great human rights activists of our time, poet, playwright, and eventually President of Czechoslovakia Vaclav Havel died yesterday at the age of 75.  For the context of Czech society before the fall of the “Iron Curtain” that swept former dissidents like Havel into power, check out my blog of April 24, 2010 and especially the poem, “100 Points“…
Wikipedia explains the history of the Charter 77 movement, of which Havel was a key initiator and leader:

Motivated in part by the arrest of members of the psychedelic band Plastic People of the Universe, the text of Charter 77 was prepared in 1976. In December 1976, the first signatures were collected.[2] The charter was published on 6 January 1977, along with the names of the first 242 signatories, which represented various occupations, political viewpoints, and religions. Although Václav Havel, Ludvík Vaculík and Pavel Landovský were detained while trying to bring the charter to the Federal Assembly and the Czechoslovak government and the original document was confiscated,[3] copies circulated as samizdat and on 7 January were published in several western newspapers (including Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The Times or New York Times) and transmitted to Czechoslovakia by Czechoslovak-banned radio broadcasters like Radio Free Europe or Voice of America.

Charter 77 criticized the government for failing to implement human rights provisions of a number of documents it had signed, including the 1960 Constitution of Czechoslovakia, the Final Act of the 1975 Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Basket III of the Helsinki Accords), and United Nations covenants on political, civil, economic, and cultural rights. The document also described the signatories as a “loose, informal, and open association of people . . . united by the will to strive individually and collectively for respect for human and civil rights in our country and throughout the world.” It emphasized that Charter 77 is not an organization, has no statutes or permanent organs, and “does not form the basis for any oppositional political activity.” This final stipulation was a careful effort to stay within the bounds of Czechoslovak law, which made organized opposition illegal.

After 30 years, many of those from both Czechoslovakia and the UK who were personally involved in the Charter 77 movement and helped to gain international support and to draw attention to the petition gathered on 29 March 2007 at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London, to look back and share their experience and memories of one of the little known but most significant events of modern European history.

Distribution of Charter 77 or any of its contents was made a formal political crime by the Communist Party led regime.
Vaclav Havel will be missed and remembered for his courage and his creativity.
The leadership of a couple of political parties that I have recently been critical of (my own, the Peace & Freedom Party and the faction of the La Raza Unida Party controlled by Xenaro and Libertad Ayala) should take heed of the poem “One Hundred Points” that Havel promoted and defended in opposition to the former rulers of his nation, and especially points 8 and 9:
8.  They are afraid of party members.
9.  They are afraid of those who are not in the party.
To these points, the poem eventually asks, “So why the hell are WE afraid of THEM?”

Affirmative Action: Practicing what you preach


 

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Zedong Mao

“The guerilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea.”  — Zedong Mao.

In the context of the movements to create political change in the United States, and especially California and in particular Los Angeles, political organizers need to be able to swim in an inland sea with many tributaries from ponds that contain different populations of fish species.  Some of those ponds are integrated to greater or lesser degrees and some of those ponds are for the most part, segregated to a predominant ethnic group.

Lots of groups and leaders talk the talk about “diversity” but when it comes to walking the walk with vigorous, positive efforts at outreach to the many communities and neighborhoods that make up Los Angeles as a whole, they fall short with all too much frequency.  I am proud of my own record and the leadership of San Fernando Valley/Northeast Los Angeles Chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women) in helping to build a diverse group of activists.  I give kudos to my friend and former National President of NOW, Patricia Ireland, for having seriously pushed diversification during her administration years ago.  Unfortunately, her successors have not been as vigorous and committed to internal affirmative action as she was.

Carol McArthur et al performing @ SFV/NELA NOW & CALLAC event 12/17/11

On December 17, 2011, we held a joint Holiday Party/Election Meeting for SFV/NELA NOW along with a founding meeting  of CALLAC (California League of Latin American Citizens, state affiliate of the National League of Latin American Citizens) at the home of Norma and Jose Luis Ramirez in Arleta (the neighborhood I grew up in, a couple of blocks away).  People came from as far as San Diego, Contra Costa, and Tulare counties for the event, drawn both by the content and on the reputation of my “once a year water-smoked turkey” with regular and vegetarian stuffing.

Water smoking is an all night process; yesterday's turkey and stuffing may have been my best ever in decades!

People describe gatherings I put together, both social and political (which are frequently both simultaneously) as veritable “United Nations” events.  Yesterday we had in attendance, amongst immigrants alone,  two Columbians, one Nicaraguan, one Israeli, one Peruvian and four Mexicans.  Angel and Argentina Davila-Luevano, who are respectively the National Vice President and Vice President for the Far West of NLLAC joined us from Northern California.

Entertainment was provided by Carol McArthur (who along with her friend Alejandro performed some of her original songs that are on her outstanding newly released CD How Good it Feels; email me if you want one, they’re only $10 each).  Carlos Casarez who graced us with his presence from Dinuba in Tulare County, also entertained and delighted with his own guitar skills.

The newly elected board of SFV/NELA NOW that emerged from the meeting includes:

Co-Presidents:  Cynthia Conover & Jan B. Tucker (myself)

Board members:  Linda Pruett, Roxana Inga, Dan McCrory, Renata Sdao, Norma Ramirez, Jose Luis Ramirez, Betty Knight, Jeff Belmont, Tina Black, Mia Lee, Patricia  Nazario, Kade Sdao, Sandra Luz Gallegos, Carol McArthur, and Deborah Greenspan.

We have LGBTI people and straight people; women and men, immigrants and native born.  On our board we have Jews, Atheists, Catholics, Protestants, and Wiccans.  We include white, black, brown, yellow and red:  A Peruvian, a Native American, Mexicans, a Korean, an African American, and a Puerto Rican-American.  But this is nothing to brag about.  This is not enough.

Last year we had far more African Americans in attendance.  We had a Yoruba from Nigeria in attendance (he tried to make it this year but couldn’t because he had missed his email until too late).  In the past we’ve had South Asians and Middle Easterners.  We have to do better at attracting them, including them, and empowering them before we can even think of resting on our laurels.