Barry Commoner in 1980


 

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Barry Commoner seeking PFP nomination in 1980

I met Barry Commoner only once, in 1980 when he was running for President on the Citizens Party ticket.  At the time he was seeking the Peace & Freedom Party’s nomination for President in California and he wound up debating Angela Davis (Soul Sister #1, then running for Vice President with Gus Hall on the Communist Party ticket), David McReynolds (the first openly Gay candidate for President, head of the War Resisters League, running on the Socialist Party ticket), Deirdre Griswold (Workers World Party candidate), and Tom Condit who was advocating that PFP nominate Ben Spock, who’d run for President on the PFP/Peoples Party ticket in 1972 and Vice President in 1976.  It was an incredible exchange of ideas in the “Alphabet Group Soup” of the left, e.g., PFP, CP (Citizens Party), CP (Communist Party), SP, WWP…….

David McReynolds at 1980 Peace & Freedom Party convention

Along with Casey Peters I was convention co-floor leader for David McReynolds.  Dave is one of the really dynamic, committed and courageous people on the left, having been arrested everywhere from Washington to Moscow during the Cold War campaigning for peace.  Dave gave one of the best — and I really mean BEST — speeches I’ve ever heard in my life, and the speeches I’ve heard from true orators that I consider the BEST I can count on the fingers of one hand.

Earlier in the 70s, I’d worked with Dave and the War Resisters League (although I was not a member) helping Mandy Carter, who had been dispatched to Los Angeles as a field organizer to get together logistics for a coast to coast march against war led by Buddhist monks.  I was very impressed with Dave and his leadership of pacifist resistance to war (even though I’m not a pacifist).

Soul Sister Number One: Angela Davis

Angela Davis was not yet out of the closet (she didn’t out herself until 1997) inasmuch as in those days, the Communist Party was still defending the Soviet Union’s persecution of LGBTI people and there was still considerable personal homophobia within the party.  It was of some left-historical note that in this debate between the first openly Gay candidate for President, Dave McReynolds, that he wound up debating a closeted Lesbian.  Eventually of course not only would Angela come out, she broke with the Communist Party and wound up with the Committees of Correspondence (COC), a group that essentially represents what used to be the “Euro-communist” philosophy that promoted democratic means of taking power and a commitment to democratization of society rather than implementation of Soviet style authoritarian rule.  I saw her some years ago in San Francisco at a COC conference which entailed fascinating discussions of the profound challenges facing leftists in America and throughout the world.

As an aside, one of the semi-humorous aspects of Angela’s sexual orientation is that for years, both the right and the left made points about her supposed relationship with George Jackson.  Jackson was a Black Panther, reputedly one of the founders of the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF), and one of the “Soledad Brothers” who was killed August 21, 1971 (while I was just shy of 16 and attending my first PFP State Convention) during a San Quentin escape attempt.  The right tried to portray Angela as being involved with Jackson as a purported motive for her to have assisted the escape attempt (she was acquitted at trial).  The left would say weird stuff like ‘they killed her man.’  For those of us who knew of her orientation before she came out, it was all completely ridiculous.

Deirdre Griswold, Workers World Party presidential candidate

Deirdre Griswold of the Workers World Party was, for a purported Trotskyist, more Stalinist than the Communist Party.  While the WWP was ostensibly Trotskyist in orientation, it has supported everything from the 1956 Russian suppression of Hungary to the repression of what it called the “counter-revolutionary rebellion” in Tiananmen Square in the Peoples Republic of China.  When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, they did criticize the Soviet Union….for not putting enough troops into the country.

During the Cold War the various communist regimes around the world maintained franchises throughout the world, effectively as lobbying groups for their national interests.  The Soviet Union would always have an official Communist Party, a People to People “Friendship Association,” and it would always maintain an unofficial pro-Soviet party just in case the official party got taken over by “Euro-Communists.”  In that eventuality, the unofficial party would take over the role of supporting its interests in whatever country it was needed.  In the case of the United States, my take is that the WWP fulfilled this role for the USSR.

L: Lewis B. McCammon III; R: Ben Spock in 1976

Ben Spock really did not want to run again.  He hadn’t wanted to run in 1976 either (he told me so while I was in New York prior to the PFP/Peoples Party convention in St. Louis in 1975; but Ben was a real trooper.  He would never say that publicly.  He understood his role as a media star was important to the party and would not exploit his fame to try to influence the rank and file or the leadership decisions.  If the party wanted him to run, he’d do his duty.  Ben had his faults, but like a few others I’ve known, he was the closest thing to a hero I’ve ever met in politics).

In spite of his extreme reluctance, Tom Condit nominated Ben Spock at the 1980 convention, but in spite of a lot of expectations and strategies, it was just not in the cards for him to run that year and I’m sure Ben thanked his lucky stars.

Strategies and Tactics

L to R: David McReynolds, Angela Davis, Deirdre Griswold, Barry Commoner, Tom Condit

So there you have it:  The choices for the PFP in 1980 were Barry Commoner, Gus Hall-Angela Davis, Deirdre Griswold, Ben Spock, and David McReynolds all vying for the nomination.  The thinking we went into in the McReynolds camp was that Dave would probably be eliminated on the first ballot and that Commoner would wow the convention with his celebrity and we’d fall in line behind him.  If anything went wrong, our Plan B was to go for Ben Spock, as the other candidates were just hopelessly and patently unacceptable to us.  The convention rule was that the candidate with the least votes was eliminated on the next ballot until somebody received a majority vote of the delegates.

Well, as they say, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.”

First, Barry Commoner goes into the convention having skipped running in the primary election and gives a completely false version of why he skipped, citing a non-existent ruling by the California Secretary of State’s office.  Then he left the convention after speaking, thinking he had the nomination in the bag.  The problem was, after he left, Lew McCammon, who wasn’t committed to any candidate at that point that I recall, explained the truth of what had been going on with the Secretary State to the convention and there was documentary evidence to prove Commoner’s prevarication.

Commoner was eliminated on the first ballot.

The other major factor was that David McReynolds gave this absolutely astounding speech.  As I’ve pointed out, it was one of the best I’ve every heard in my life.  All of a sudden his candidacy drew a new breath of life.  Lots of uncommitted delegates were all of a sudden gravitating to McReynolds.

Ben Spock was eliminated on the second ballot.  The Commoner and Spock delegates started lining up for McReynolds.

The third ballot was critical.  The Communist Party had also come into the convention with a lot of strength as had the WWP.  If we got eliminated, we had no place to go but there was no telling where the independents supporting McReynolds would go for what would be a fourth and final ballot.  Blowing our minds, McReynolds came in second to the Gus Hall/Angela Davis ticket on the third ballot, eliminating the WWP.

The Compromise and a New Precedent

L: Elizabeth Cervantes Barron; R: Maureen Smith; accepting the nomination of the Peace & Freedom Party for President and Vice President

Nobody had ever expected this outcome.  The SP vs the CP on the final ballot.  Historically divided political tendencies, sometimes aligned in Europe but in America almost invariably at each others’ throats.  We worked out a compromise.  Since the CP had come in first, with a plurality, on the third ballot, they got to choose one of their supporters within PFP for President.  The McReynolds camp as number two got to chose one of our supporters for Vice President.  So we wound up with the first all female ticket on the California ballot, Maureen Smith for President and Elizabeth Cervantes Barron for Vice President.

Maureen Smith, 1976

Maureen O’Flaherty Smith was one of the founders of the Peace & Freedom Party and has been, to this day, a stalwart of activism in the peace, civil rights, and environmental movements.  She still active to this day, along with her husband Mike.

Elizabeth Cervantes Barron speaking with a Bakersfield Californian Reporter on a campaign swing with me in Kern County and the Central Valley, 1980

Elizabeth Cervantes Barron was my running mate in 1978 when she ran for State Controller and I for Lieutenant Governor, and again in 1994 when she ran for U.S. Senate and I for State Treasurer.  In 1978 she set the all time high PFP vote in the runoff (I hold the record for the highest primary election vote ever for PFP) garnering an amazing 5% of the vote.

 

 

 

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State Dept Does the Right Thing–Finally!


 

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For background on this issue, see my past blog postings concerning Mujahedeen E Khalq (MEK), the Peoples Mujahedeen Of Iran:

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2010/05/12/elena-kagan-nomination-is-scary/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2010/06/22/if-supreme-court-is-right-then-congress-is-wrong-in-humanitarian-law-project-vs-holder/

As if I didn’t need any more incentive to blog about the State Department’s recent decision to take the MEK off its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO), I got an email a little while ago from Ralph Fertig, one of the really tremendous activists for many, many, many years in civil rights/human rights activism.  He had his ribs broken in Selma Alabama in 1961 while jailed for opposing white supremacy and has served most recently as President of the Humanitarian Law Project (HLP).  The HLP which challenged the extremist position asserted by the Departments of State and Justice on applying the Patriot Act against attorneys who want to assist so-called FTO members to assert their legal rights (by filing legal briefs) when engaging in completely peaceful endeavors.  One of these lawsuits was Humanitarian Law Project vs. Holder, 130 S. Ct. 2705 (2010) regarding alleged Kurdish and Tamil terrorists (of course one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter).

As I pointed out in my blog about Elena Kagan’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court:

In order to be listed as an FTO, the group has to have committed at least one of a whole list of violations of federal law, with some nexus to having harmed America or Americans.  I did Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act requests to the Justice Department, Department of Defense, FBI, CIA, and State Department to try to elicit any evidence they had that MEK had EVER violated one of those laws.  Their response:  NADA, NOTHING, ZIP.

So, the U.S. Department of State finally woke up and smelled the coffee.  There never was any evidence to have classified MEK as an FTO in the first place (either that or the government lied in response to my FOIA and PA requests).  Now the State Department has made official that it’s not a terrorist organization as defined in law.  Very convenient that this was done just before the election, perhaps to get the Iranian-American vote, but if the government wants to really do the right thing, President Obama should now commute the sentences of every person convicted of having given material aide to MEK that was based solely on their purported affiliation with MEK as an FTO.  He should then pardon all those released from sentence and everybody who has already served their sentence.

What’s really crazy and hypocritical about this whole episode in U.S. diplomatic, military and security policy is that from 2005-2009, the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command in Nevada was training MEK operatives in intelligence skills so that they could assist the United States in spying on Iranian nuclear developments and other sleuthing tasks.  All of course while MEK was supposedly an FTO that was a threat to America and Americans…..

Visa of an accused Iranian spy

People may wonder and speculate and debate whether the development of nuclear weaponry is real or not; whether it is another case of non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.  But one thing that is real is Iranian espionage in the United States targeting America’s missile defense program.  I know that from personal experience because I came across such a case in an otherwise unrelated private investigation, turned the information over to FBI Counter Intelligence, and assisted CI in its follow up investigation.  Enough said for the sake of propriety……maybe in a decade or so I’ll give details when its safe.

Maryam Rajavi, leader of MEK and NCRI

MEK is part of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and it’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, is the President-elect of NCRI.  This is the NCRI’s “Ten Point Program for the Future of Iran” as announced by Ms. Rajavai:

1. From our point of view, the ballot box is the only criterion for legitimacy. Accordingly, we seek a republic based on popular vote.

2. We want a pluralist system, freedom of parties and assembly. In Iran of tomorrow, we will respect all individual freedoms. Expression of opinion, speech and the media are completely free and any censorship or inquisition is banned.

3. In the free Iran of tomorrow, we support and are committed to the abolition of death penalty.

4. The Iranian Resistance will establish the separation of the church and the State. Any form of discrimination against the followers of all religions and denominations will be prohibited.

5. We believe in complete gender equality in political and social rights. We also committed to equal participation of women in political leadership. Any form of discrimination against women will be abolished. They will enjoy the right to freely choose their clothing.

6. We want to set up a modern legal system based on the principles of presumption of innocence, the right to defense, and the right to be tried in a public court. We also seek the total independence of judges. Cruel and degrading punishments will have no place in the future Iran.

7. We are committed to the Universal Declaration of Humans Rights, and international covenants and conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of discrimination Against Women.

8. We recognize private property, private investment and the market economy.

9. Our foreign policy will be based on peaceful coexistence, international and regional peace and cooperation, as well as respect for the United Nations Charter. We will establish relations will all countries.

10. We want the free Iran of tomorrow to be devoid of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.

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Roseanne Barr for President


 

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Jan B. Tucker & Roseanne Barr conferring about her support for Freedom for Chicano Political Prisoner Ramsey Muniz: Roseanne signed the official petition to President Obama demanding that he meet with the Muniz committee to discuss commutation of sentence and/or pardon for Muniz.

I’m voting for Roseanne Barr for President in California.

The Huffington Post election map shows 271 votes as “strong Obama.” Unless something dramatically changes, even if Romney takes every state that is strong Romney, leans Romney, tossup (only North Carolina at this point where Obama is shown ahead by 2%) and every state leaning Obama (61 electoral votes) and Obama simply maintains his lead in his strong Obama states, Obama wins, because it takes 270 electoral votes. In California, Obama leads Romney 58%-36%. THIS MEANS I’M VOTING FOR ROSEANNE BARR IN CALIFORNIA. I’M VOTING MY CONSCIENCE!

Why is a Vote for Roseanne a Vote for Conscience?

Monday in West Hollywood, I heard Roseanne on stage in public (at The Abbey) come out of the closet as a Lesbian.  The crowd went wild….given that we were in WeHo probably 90% of the audience was LGBTI and young….Gen X, Y, and Z types.  On election night 2008 I was in Compton at Assembly Member Isadore Hall’s victory party watching with lots of African American folks watching the national election results.  Imagine being in Compton when they called Virginia and North Carolina for Barack Obama…imagine being in that room when Obama got his 270th electoral vote and was called the winner!

Well that’s the same kind of energy that I witnessed and participated in with the crowd gathered there to hear Roseanne Barr talk about why she’s running for President on the Peace & Freedom Party ticket.  Young people need heroes and heroines.  They need role models to be motivated to be politically active.  Roseanne gives them that kind of energy and hope.

LGBTI Issues are NOT Trivial

In 1970, the California Peace & Freedom Party made history by calling for an end to discrimination against LGBT people, well before any other political party even recognized the categories of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people as being oppressed and discriminated against. At its 1970 Long Beach State Convention, PFP went on record for:

  • abolishing all laws against consenting adult sex (young people may not realize that until 1974 California had criminal laws against consenting adult same-sex couples)

  • eliminating all political and social discrimination against LGBT people

  • requiring that LGBT lifestyles be taught in schools in mandatory sex-education classes as legitimate alternative lifestyles.

Morris Kight (L), Don Kilhefner (R), leaders of the Gay Liberation Front

 At that time, PFP and the Gay Liberation Front shared an office and GLF West Coast founder Morris Kight pledged in his notorious campaign to take over Alpine County that it would have been a victory for PFP along with the GLF (the inside story of that campaign is one to be told over drinks…).

 I still stand by the ideals expressed in that platform to this day, but I didn’t wait for decades – as many liberal Democrats did – to get around to publicly espousing or implementing those precepts. As a young junior high school student activist at Pacoima Junior High, we organized a debate club. I espoused getting rid of the oppressive laws against LGBT people and their social stigmatization.

 When a girl wanted to join our then all-male debate club, I insisted that she be allowed in and defended her when other boys in the club Lesbian-baited her. I made clear that I couldn’t care less if she was or was not a Lesbian (she wasn’t out of the closet at that point and was denying it), she had a right to be a member (this was before laws were implemented banning discrimination in campus clubs). Years later, when I was campaigning for Lieutenant Governor in 1978 I ran into her at U.C. San Diego. She was now out of the closet and reminded me of the incident where I stood up for her all those years ago. It’s one of the things I’ve done of which I am proudest.

Van Nuys based Oxwood Inn, where my PFP slate held its major fundraiser in 1998 when I ran for State Treasurer along with my Lesbian-Feminist running mate for Lieutenant Governor, Regina Lark

 In 1998, I was endorsed for State Treasurer by the Northern California based Lesbian Voter Action Caucus. They called to quiz me on the issues they were concerned with and when they asked me about how I stood on same sex marriage, I replied, “Are you kidding? My running mate for Lieutenant Governor is a Lesbian.”

 The person questioning me wasn’t satisfied. She insisted, “But you still have to answer the question.” So I continued, “Okay, let me put it this way. Our slate held it’s major fundraiser in a Lesbian bar.”

 She still wanted to know specifically where I stood on the issue, so finally I said, “Let me put it this way: I am the only candidate who has ever PERFORMED a same sex marriage. I performed the ceremony for Lisa and Paula, the co-presidents of the West Hollywood NOW Chapter, in front of the Federal Building in Van Nuys to protest DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act]. Does that answer the question?”

 She was satisfied with that answer.

With friends like the Democrats, who needs enemies?

 During that campaign, our slate also produced a leaflet which explained why, with the Democrats as friends, LGBT people might not need enemies. The Democratic Party was extolling the virtues of their having made discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace unlawful. The problem was that discrimination against them was already deemed illegal by a State Supreme Court decision which had actually criminalized discrimination against LGBT people (Gay Law Students vs Pacific Bell). The Democrats in the legislature codified but decriminalized discrimination when they passed their law. Previously, employers who discriminated against LGBT people could have gotten six months in jail.

With all due respect to my friends in the Stonewall Club, if it wasn’t for organized LGBTI activity in the Democratic Party precisely of the kind that Stonewall promotes, the Democratic Party would never have given the movement the time of day.  If PFP and the GLF hadn’t pressured from the outside, could Morris Kight have later gone on to switch tactics and pressure from the inside?

 The solution to codifying a law against on-the-job discrimination against LGBTI people should have been to extend the criminalization of discrimination in the workplace to protect all people on the basis of race, creed, color, political belief, national origin, sex, gender orientation, and all other arbitrary bases. By doing what they did, the Democrats left the only kind of discrimination that is punishable by jail as discrimination by an employer on the basis of political belief, activity, and affiliation. We need to re-criminalize intentional discrimination on a state basis and extend that protection on a national basis.

 Aside from my record in fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation, I have more than average experience at combating discrimination on the basis of gender orientation, i.e., Transgender issues. As a private investigator, I have worked on:

  •  An insurance discrimination case involving bad-faith failure to pay a death claim on a transvestite who listed herself as female
  • The gang rape of a transsexual (MTF) intentionally placed in a male-only cell by a Wackenhut security guard at a privatized San Diego County jail in violation of policy

  • The harassment of and physical attack on an L.A. County Mental Health worker (MTF) by her co-workers after a fellow employee illegally accessed her medical file and out-ed her at work.

 My work on these kinds of issues and cases has convinced me over and over again of the need to both criminalize intentional workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation. We must also legislate the Model Policy on Workplace Harassment which I authored and which has been nationally adopted as policy by the Latino Civil Rights organizations. That policy was originated by SFV/NELA NOW and introduced by then-Assembly Member Cindy Montanez in the 2002-3 California legislative term as AB 1617.

If for no other issue…

Soon I’ll be blogging about other issues I have with President Obama and why I think the proper thing to do in California is to vote for Roseanne Barr…..but if for no other issue I’m voting for Roseanne because of Obama’s record of dragging his feet on LGBTI issues.  What could he have done differently as President:

  • Not waiting until Vice President Joe Biden forced his hand on deciding that ‘oh yeah, I’ve thought about it long enough and I finally realize that marriage equality is the right thing to do,’ as if I believe that he wasn’t just a coward before and simply afraid to tell the American people what he really thought.
  • He should have forced the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell issue from day one in the White House by publicly announcing that he would pardon any service member who was found guilty in a court martial of being LGBTI so that the military would realize it was useless to try throwing people out of the service.

So please join me in voting for Roseanne Barr for President, and registering to vote as a member of the Peace & Freedom Party.

Jan B. Tucker

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Professor Emilio Zamora on Freedom for Ramsey Muniz


 

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The Campaign to Free Ramsey Muñiz

By Emilio Zamora, Professor

Department of History, University of Texas at Austin

 

University of Texas Professor Emilio Zamora

I write this note to remind everyone that Ramsey Muñiz, the Raza Unida Party (RUP) Gubernatorial candidate during the 1972 and 1974 Texas elections is still imprisoned, at the Beaumont Correctional Institute. I also take the opportunity to announce that a growing number of people are supporting the National Committee to Free Ramsey Muñiz and that supporters should write letters to public officials requesting that his sentence be commuted. A sample letter to President Barack Obama, a letter from Irma Muñiz, Ramsey’s wife, and other information is available at www.freeramsey.com and http://www.studentsfreeramsey.blogspot.com/. Persons who are interested in reading on the history of the RUP, should consult the article by Teresa Palomo Acosta that appears in the Handbook of Texas Online, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/war01.

Ramsey has served enough time and deserves to be free. He has been incarcerated for over eighteen years. Ramsey is one of the first persons in Texas to have been imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole as a result of the state’s strict sentencing law that kicks in after a third felony conviction. Although legal irregularities and political claims could be used to challenge his incarceration, the moral argument that he has served enough time to warrant a commutation of his sentence is potentially the most effective case that the public can make at this time.

I decided to join the Committee to Free Ramsey Muñiz when I heard Irma Muñiz speak at the recent Raza Unida Party Reunion in Austin, Texas (July 6 and 7, 2012). Her moving appeal for help and the thought that she has reached out to us for so many years are just impossible to resist. Other former RUP members and sympathizers have done their own soul-searching and are joining the campaign. Like many others, I am proud to say that I participated in the letter-writing campaign that placed the RUP on the ballot in 1972, registered as a RUP candidate for State Representative in 1972, and served as the chair for the party in Travis County in 1977 and 1978. Over the years, however, I have limited my concern and compassion for Ramsey and his family to simple laments over his bad fortune. All along, Irma’s unflagging spirit of love, courage, and defiance has reminded anyone who cares to notice that she stands much like we once stood, steadfast in service to our communities.

I joined the Committee to Free Ramsey Muñiz on September 15, 2012 during one of its meetings at Houston’s Sociedad Mutualista Obrera Mexicana. The speakers were inspiring and informative, but my visit with Ramsey on September 16 was one of the most moving experiences in my life. Pablo Avila, former judge from Crystal City, Alicia Perez, a former RUP activist, Irma Muñiz, and I visited Ramsey. He is now 69 years old and suffering from a fracture in his hip. Although Ramsey walks with a cane and occasionally moves around in a wheel chair, he looked well and his spirit is strong.

We talked about the presidential elections, the troubles in the Middle East, his difficulties while in prison, his court trials, RUP history, and the campaign to gain his release. Pablo agreed to lead a team of attorneys in examining the court records for possible legal arguments in the letter-writing campaign. I expressed regret for not offering to help earlier but promised to do so now. Ramsey graciously asked that we put aside such regrets and to focus our energies on the work that has to be done on his campaign and in our communities.

When you write a letter to President Barack Obama requesting a commutation of Ramsey’s sentence, please inform Irma Muñiz (imuniz1310@earthlink.net), the Chairperson of the National Committee to Free Ramsey Muñiz, since she is keeping a record of this correspondence. Her contact information is as follows: PMB216 5403 Everhart Road, Corpus Christi, Texas 78411 (409 363-1878).

 I received a letter and the following poem from Ramsey this week:

 All my worldly possessions can fit into a small box,

Yet I have too much.

All my worldly savings can be spent in one second,

Yet I desire to own nothing.

All my nights are filled with dreams of love,

Yet I sleep alone.

All my plans are full of success and glory,

Yet I do not fear failure.

All my days are counted and checked by others,

Yet none know my heart.

All my world is caged and confined,

Yet my soul runs free.

There is nothing I want, so I cannot be bought.

There is nothing I need that I do not already possess,

So I cannot be fooled.

There is nothing to wish for,

So there is nothing to hope for.

I am free when all others feel caged.

I am strong when all

Others are weak.

I am alive when all others feel dead.

But I am Death

For all who fear life.

I am the Warrior Mexicano of the sixth Sun awakened

From the slumber of 500 years of enslavement.

I am all that I will, I am all that was, I am all

That will be,

Yo soy Mex’i Ka

 Ramsey R. Muñiz

 

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Won’t you come to Arizona for freedom


 

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On October 6, 2012, will you come to the California-Arizona town of Blythe to free your sisters and brothers?

In an act of infamy, it took a boycott of the State of Arizona to force that state to recognize Martin Luther King’s birthday as a holiday, the last state to hold out against that recognition.  Today, women, immigrants, and minorities are faced with a political climate–and laws enacted–which emulate Nazi passed legislation from the 1930s in Germany.  The Arizona legislature and Governor Jan Brewer are dead set on turning the clock back on liberty, the Constitution of the United States, and even science.

For background on what’s been going in Arizona, see my past postings on the effects of SB 1070 and HB 2281 respectively (anti immigrant and anti Chicano Studies legislation):

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2011/01/25/dr-acuna-on-raza-studies-in-az/

 http://janbtucker.com/blog/2010/11/18/arizona-to-boycott-or-not-to-boycott/

Arizona has become infamous around the world, as evidenced by the reporting from Russia’s Television Novosti:

http://rt.com/usa/news/arizona-bill-conception-abortion-387/

On page eight of the proposed amendment to H.B. 2036, lawmakers lay out the “gestational age” of the child to be “calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman,” and from there, outlaws abortion “if the probable gestational age of [the] unborn child has been determined to be at least twenty weeks.”

That bill turns science upside down.  The language means that life can begin before conception. In fact, even before intercourse! Really!  Governor Jan Brewer said the bill was a no brainer.  I guess you’ve got to have no brain to sign it into law:

http://rt.com/usa/news/abortion-arizona-law-brewer-003/

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post has reported that in its war against women, Arizona doesn’t care whether women’s health is being destroyed in its fanatical effort to ban abortion by any means necessary, even when a woman is not planning to have an abortion [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/arizona-birth-control-bill-contraception-medical-reasons_n_1344557.html]:

House Bill 2625, which the state House of Representatives passed earlier this month and the Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed on Monday, repeals that law and allows any employer to refuse to cover contraception that will be used “for contraceptive, abortifacient, abortion or sterilization purposes.” If a woman wants the cost of her contraception covered, she has to “submit a claim” to her employer providing evidence of a medical condition, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, that can be treated with birth control.

That is not the only reactionary legislation aimed against women:[http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/az-abortion-bills-arizona-gestational-age_n_1415715.html]

 The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill to prohibit abortions after the 18th week of pregnancy; a bill to protect doctors from being sued if they withhold health information about a pregnancy that could cause a woman to seek an abortion; and a bill to mandate that how school curriculums address the topic of unwanted pregnancies.

Richard J. Daley, Chicago Mayor, 1968

Do you care enough to do something about this state of affairs?  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young asked the same question when the repression of civil liberties in Chicago was rampant under then-Mayor William J. Daley, who infamously said of the repression of 1968 Democratic convention protests, “The police man isn’t there to create disorder; the police man is there to preserve disorder.”

So your brother’s bound and gagged

And they’ve chained him to a chair

Won’t you please come to Chicago

Just to sing

 

In a land that’s known as freedom

How can such a thing be fair

Won’t you please come to Chicago

For the help that we can bring

We can change the world

Re-arrange the world

It’s dying … to get better

 

Politicians sit yourselves down

There’s nothing for you here

Won’t you please come to Chicago For a ride

Don’t ask Jack to help you

‘Cause he’ll turn the other ear

Won’t you please come to Chicago

Or else join the other side

 

From the bottom of the ocean

To the mountains on the moon

Won’t you please come to Chicago

No one else can take your place

Yes, we can change the world

 

Refrain:

We can change the world

Re-arrange the world

It’s dying … if you believe in justice

It’s dying … and if you believe in freedom

It’s dying … let a man live his own life

It’s dying … rules and regulations, who needs them

Throw them out the door

 

Somehow people must be free

I hope the day comes soon

Won’t you please come to Chicago

Show your face

Click Below to Listen to the Song & See a mini-Documentary on You-Tube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEFsBF1X1ow

 CROSBY STILLS NASH & YOUNG – “CHICAGO

———————————-

Miss Revolutionaries, Arizona Independent Voices, and the California League of Latin American Citizens (CALLAC) will protest Arizona repression of human rights on October 6, 2012.  For more information as to how you can help, go to http://www.facebook.com/events/154432491363061/ and/or email me at callac@janbtucker.com

LOCATION:  Quechan Park, 12200 Colorado River Road Blythe CA (I-10 to Intake, North to 6th Ave, Rt on 6th to Hidden Beaches,  Rt on Hidden Beaches Drive, Rt on Colorado River Road)

DATE/TIME: Saturday October 6, 2012, 12:00 noon

Your sister’s bound and gagged

Brown people are being arrested and dragged

Won’t y0u please come to Arizona if you care?

 

 

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Ciro Hurtado’s Peruvian to Los Angeles Blues


 

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Guitarrista Ciro Hurtado

I learned some facts about my friend, Peruvian – American Guitarrista Ciro Hurtado last night, about his upbringing in a small Peruvian town in a jungle that was only accessible by propeller driven airplanes.  At his CD release party last night at the elegant Tropico de Nopal gallery (1665 W Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90026) he spoke of how, when his village finally got two hours a day of electricity, he was first able to listen to shortwave radio.  I’d never realized that we had shortwave in common.  It was an interesting revelation, especially because we are almost the same age and would have been listening to shortwave radio in roughly the same era.

Shortwave Radio kit like the one I built in Junior High

A July 7, 1996 Los Angeles Times article about me by Henry Chu noted that:

In junior high school in the ’60s, while his peers studied their text-books, Tucker spent his spare time fiddling with a shortwave radio, listening to the crackle of Radio Japan and stations out of war-torn Vietnam.  Those broadcasts exposed the teenage Tucker, the youngest of three children, to other cultures and outlooks.

“That’s what turned me into a relatively independent thinker,” he said.  “That was a revelation.”

Black Panther William Lee Brent photographed by my agent in Havana at his home with his wife, Jane McManus

I had built my own shortwave radio from scratch as my fourth semester electronics project at Pacoima Junior High (now Pacoima Middle School).  The Vietnam broadcasts I was referring to were from the Voice of Vietnami.e., “Radio Hanoi”–which was re-broadcast in the Western Hemisphere by Radio Havana.  On Radio Havana, I also got to hear broadcasts by Black Panther in exile, Bill Brent, who decades later I would track down in Cuba so I could put him back in touch with certain comrades from California.

Last night, Ciro mentioned that one of the stations he listened to was Radio Havana as well.  Ciro and I are just about the same age (he’s a little less than a year older than I am) so I wonder if we were listening to the same broadcasts; the same ideas and music, at the same time on our two separate continents.  He also indicated that while it was difficult to get broadcasts from Lima, Peru as his location was in the North of the country, they could get reception from Ecuadorian stations.  I also used to listen to Radio HCJB (Heralding Christ Jesus Blessings, a religious station but with plenty of secular news and music) which broadcasts from Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador.

Mount Chimborazo

Last night Ciro began to give a small lesson about the physical geography of Peru to the audience but got cut off and then diverted, but it was apparent from his description of heights in the Andes that he didn’t realize that in point of objective fact, the Andes are higher than the Himalayas when measured from the center of the earth to the peak.  The sea level by the Indian sub-continent, by which Mount Everest is measured, is way lower than the sea level by the Andes.  That makes Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo the farthest point from the center of the Earth, arguably the real tallest mountain on Earth.  Because it is so high and because short radio waves like FM and Shortwave (as opposed to AM which is a long wave) bounce off the stratosphere, it makes radio broadcasts from Andean stations like HCJB amongst the easiest to receive in the Western Hemisphere.

If I keep talking about Ciro’s tales–which are simultaneously poignant and hilarious–I’ll never get to his music.  He was early on attracted to the Beatles and other rock and roll “zoo groups” (as he dubbed them) like the Animals, the Turtles, and the Byrds.  Combining these influences with indigenous Peruvian sounds and the world music he heard on shortwave, he has created an incredibly eclectic and intriguing fusion that is all his own….but if I say more, I risk spoiling your enjoyment of just hearing him for yourself, so you really need to get his CD’s–such as his latest Los Angeles Blues as well as his earlier work like Guitarrista and his Huayucaltia collaborations.  Not to mention that you really have to hear him in person as live music is always the best:

http://www.cirohurtado.com/

A Tropico de Nopal Exhibit

One final note.  Emceeing the event for Tropico de Nopal (a gallery you also really need to visit), Reyes Rodriguez opined that, in light of the amount of money the government spent hauling the Space Shuttle Endeavor to Los Angeles for exhibit at the California Science Center, that the money would have been better spent on the arts and on support of such spaces as Tropico de Nopal.  I have to agree and disagree:  I too bemoan the lack of funding for the arts.  The first time I ever ran for office, at the age of 18 in 1974 for State Senator, I even put out a leaflet explaining the statistics of government funding the arts comparing California to New York and to the Netherlands (California’s spending per capita was and remains pathetic by comparison).  However we shouldn’t be in the position of pitting science against the arts in our government priorities.  We should end our obsession with spending for war.

In the meantime, don’t wait for our government to do the sane and rational thing; support Tropico de Nopal, the arts, and live music yourself:

http://tropicodenopal.com/

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Help Conquer Alzheimers Disease


 

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For background on this post, check out my two past discussions of Alzheimer’s Disease

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/07/05/resveratrol-study-keck-school-of-medicine/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2011/09/20/what-are-your-concerns-about-alzheimers/

As my regular readers know, I’m a member of the USC-Keck School of Medicine Community Advisory Board for the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Project.  A couple of days ago, we had an educational meeting in which we heard some of the latest research updates, viewed the technology used for imaging in the process of research on Alzheimer’s, and reviewed brain samples visually and microscopically.  It was a fascinating glimpse into the intricacies of medical research procedures.

 

L of Tucker, Margaret Gatz, Ph.D., Professor & Chair of the USC Dept of Psychology; R of Tucker, Dr. Carol A. Miller, M.D., Professor & Chair of Neuropathology; R of Miller, Tara Rose, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor of Social Work.

Aside from my colleagues on the Community Advisory Board, USC-Keck has some tremendous people working on Alzheimer’s research.  For example, Dr. Tara Rose’s bio points out that she “is a Research Assistant Professor of Social Work at the USC. Dr. Rose was the evaluation project director for the SAMHSA ‘Women, Co-Occurring Disorders and Violence Study’ local site in LA and for the Children’s Subset Study…. Dr. Rose has 16 years experience managing longitudinal research studies with qualitative and quantitative components. At the Murray Research Center at Harvard University, she supervised the preparation of some well-known, classic American longitudinal studies of children and families for secondary analysis. Her specialties are program evaluation, underserved and underrepresented populations (particularly Latinos and African Americans), and the difficulties they face accessing services. Rose has expertise in data analysis, combining qualitative and quantitative data. She is working on her third book, Research Methods for Program Evaluation.”

Dr. Gatz is an Expert on aging and Alzheimer’s disease serving as Professor of Psychology, Gerontology and Preventive Medicine, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
Director, Education Core, Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.  Additionally, she is:

  • Fellow, American Psychological Association (APA), Association for Psychological Science and Gerontological Society of America (GSA)
  • Recipient, Distinguished Mentorship Award, Behavioral and Social Sciences Section of GSA; Master Mentor Award, Retirement Research Foundation and APA Division 20; Research Award, Alzheimer’s Association, Los Angeles; Award for the Advancement of Psychology and Aging, APA Committee on Aging; Distinguished Research Achievement Award, APA Division 20; Donald F. Kent Award, GSA; M. Powell Lawton Award for Distinguished Contributions to Clinical Geropsychology, APA, Division 12, Section II; Developmental Health Award, APA Division 38

Dr. Carol A. Miller, M.D., is a Professor for the Departments of Pathology and Neurology, Co-Director of Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Director of Neuropathology Core, and Chief of Neuropathology, Los Angeles County USC Medical Center.  Her research overview reads:

Neurospecificity is a key factor in selective vulnerability in neurodegeneration diseases. The laboratory of Dr. Carol Miller has focused on identifying and characterizing the function of genes selectively expressed or regulated in vulnerable neurons. For example, one gene, JNK3, a neuron-specific stress kinase responds to environmental stress. Defining protein-protein interactions of these signal transduction molecules has led to underlying mechanism leading to cell death caused by hypoxia/ischemia of strokes or amyloid (AB peptides) of Alzheimer’s disease. We have also identified several JNK interacting proteins, including one, DENN-MADD which functions in synaptic vesicle release but under stress, leads to apoptosis.

Because of cross-interactions of many of these signal transduction pathways, Dr. Miller’s group is using microarrays which define regulation of multiple genes. We are combining these methods with isolation of single, normal or diseased neurons from human post-mortem brain and linear “in cell” amplification of the mRNA. Once normal neuronal subpopulations are characterized, we can compare those from diseased brains, including affected or spared subpopulations early or late in the course of the disease. Using bioinformatics, we are defining functionally related clusters of genes. We expect this approach to identify co-regulation of known genes and lead to the discovery of new genes. Our work links observations in experimental models to mechanisms operative in the normal and diseased human brain.

So what did I learn at the last meeting?

Alzheimer’s research is imperative for our society.  Over 20% of all women will have developed the disease by the age of 80.  Women develop the disease at around a 2 to 1 rate over men.  If we don’t conquer this disease, the cost of medical care will continue to rise for Alzheimer’s patients and have an extremely detrimental effect on health care reform of any sort.

A 1980 National Institute of Aging mandate requires study of Alzheimer’s to look at the earliest stages of the disease in hopes that its progression can be arrested and/or reversed early rather than later.  The earliest buildup of Beta Amyloid plaques in the progression of Alzheimer’s begins in the Hippocampus of the brain, which is in the front of the brain.  It always seems to progress from front to back.  Because the Hippocampus is where short term memory occurs, at the earliest stages of the disease it is easier for a victim of Alzheimer’s to recall older memories than what happened yesterday.

In 1986, Keck discovered that evidence of plaque buildup can be found in the retina of the eyes of an Alzheimer’s patient.  The discovery was written up in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Cedars Sinai (where I used to work) has developed a method of observing the plaque buildup in the retina.

What you can do to help

You can help Alzheimer’s research by making sure that your brain can be studied by science (preferably after you die) and by making sure your body gets to the Keck neuropathology department immediately after death. It is critical for scientists to get tissue samples as soon as possible after a person’s demise.  Some 21 scientists throughout America receive samples from Keck of various kinds through a national Alzheimer’s Research Project network.

To find out how you can help:  http://adrc.usc.edu/participation/

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CALLAC-ALDA Conference Success


 

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Between 400-500 people registered as attendees as the California League of Latin American Citizens (CALLAC) conference conducted with the Asociacion Latina De Asistencia (ALDA) and other organizations was an outstanding success for educating and organizing around a series of issues, including education, housing, civil rights, labor organizing and health care.  The conference was conducted at Los Angeles Mission College in Sylmar (San Fernando Valley) on September 14-15, 2012.

L to R: Chicana Journalists Jackeline Cacho (Mundo Fox) and Patricia Nazario (formerly of KPCC FM), Maria Elena Durazo, Argentina Davila Luevano and Angel G. Luevano (Vice Presidents of NLLAC)

Maria Elena Durazo, Secretary – Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor was the keynote speaker.  Maria and Felicia Sandoval of the California Teachers Association spoke eloquently against Proposition 32, a measure to be voted on in November which would emasculate labor unions’ ability to participate in political campaigns in support of their members’ interests and the rights of working people in general.  They emphasized how overtime laws, occupational health and safety laws, free public education, and many other reforms were only implemented for all working people, not just union members, because of the labor movement’s ability to fight in the political arena.

Los Angeles Community College District Trustee Nancy Pearlman (w/microphone) discusses the trials and tribulations of funding for California Community Colleges; L-Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez, President – California Latino School Board Association

Three-term Los Angeles Community College District Board member Nancy Pearlman explained the intricacies of financing of California colleges and universities and the LACCD itself.  She pointed out that per capita (i.e., for each student) the State of California provides higher funding for the University of California, middle range funding for the California State University system, and the lowest level of funding for Community College students [given the class differentials in who tends to wind up in which system which are intuitively obvious, this funding differential reinforces class structures with the proles on the bottom and the existing elites on the top–jt].

Pearlman also noted that while people see lots of construction going on at LACCD campuses, this doesn’t mean that the district is flush with money.  While the voters passed a bond measure for funding of construction of new facilities and campus improvements, these are funds dedicated to construction by law and cannot be used for instruction or campus maintenance.

L-R: Patty Bellasalma (Atty & President of California NOW), Linda Long (VP CA NOW), Jose Gonzalez (President of Latino Care), Norma Diana Hernandez (Sexual Health Educator, along with her mother, Ms. Hernandez), Sherry Lear (Atty & Co-Founder, Miss Revolutionaries)

Sherry Lear of Miss Revolutionaries

A distinguished panel discussed a series of topics on the issues of health, sexual education, and domestic violence that confront both California and the United States.  Patty Bellasalma and Linda Long dealt extensively with California legislation and budget issues that have gutted the protections for women from state and local government.  Sherry Lear explained the politics and consequences of Republican blockage of the Violence Against Women Act re-authorization (VAWA, originally introduced and passed by then-Senator Joe Biden).  Long time Latino health activist and former hospital administrator Jose Gonzalez spoke extensively on issues of diet and health affecting minority, and especially Latino communities.  He pointed out that upon arrival in the United States, the immigrant diet is far more healthy than what they gradually adopt as they accommodate to typical fast food diets.

 

 

Along with CSU Northridge Professor (and former School of Humanities Dean) Jorge Garcia–one of my old professors–and Mission College Chicano Studies Professor Jose Maldonado, I spoke on a panel discussing the history and current challenges facing Chicano Studies, such as the attacks leveled against the discipline in Arizona’s ban of ethnic studies.

Mission College President Monte Perez

Kudos go out to Los Angeles Mission College President Monte Perez, and Mission College administrators Joe Ramirez, Jose Luis Ramirez, and Ludi Villegas for their instrumental roles in facilitating the conference.  The distinguished students of the Mission College Culinary Arts program arranged the catering and hospitality for the conference. To the delight of Occupy San Fernando Valley activists at the Van Nuys “Fort Hernandez” defense against foreclosure which has been well-publicized throughout Los Angeles, excess conference food was donated to the occupiers.

Art entertainment was provided to children attendees by Norma Ramirez of SFV CALLAC and UFE (United for Education Coalition); an inspirational presentation was given by Kevin “Captain America” Foster, and two youth bands (link to videos to be placed here later) rocked the house at the end of the conference.

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Enemies of the Internet


 

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If you think that identity theft is the worst-case-scenario of Internet use, you clearly don’t live in any of the nations that make the list of top “Enemies of the Internet.” Not only do these governments monitor their citizens’ web activity, but they also make it nearly impossible for them to safely share and gather information through anonymous microblogs, Facebook pages or Twitter accounts. One nation sports a cyber police force that is larger than the city of Orlando, Florida. And when protests erupted in another country, Twitter accounts were created for the sole purpose of diverting citizens from spreading information. Although these nations represent the extremes of national cybersecurity, the measures they use are based in legislative bills like SOPA, PIPA and CISPA. Check out the following infographic to find out which nations make this list. The next time you surf the web, think carefully about who’s watching you and who’s blocking you.

Enemies Of The Internet

Compliments to Sarah Wenger:


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alt=”Enemies Of The Internet” width=”500″ border=”0″ /></a>

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Enemies Of The Internet by OpenSite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://www.open-site.org/blog/enemies-of-the-interne

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Oldest Lesbian in the World


 

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My friend Renee Sotile just released a trailer for her new production, The Oldest Lesbian in the World.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCgDCGub56c

People who’ve known me for a long time know, realize as the old cliche’ puts it, “some of my best friends are Lesbians.”  Of course my Lesbian friends know that I am just as committed to LGBTI rights and the cause as I am to my efforts in minority communities to combat racism, my work in the labor movement for the rights of working people, and all the other causes I’ve been involved with in my life.

Morris Kight (L), Don Kilhefner (R)

So it occurred to me, what’s the male equivalent of a “fag hag?”  Let me say at the outset, as my great-late friend Morris Kight (founder of the Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center and prior to that, West Coast head of the Gay Liberation Front along with Don Kilhefner and many other Gay heroes/heroines) once explained to me, the term “fag” was to him a term of honor and of martyrdom.  It came from the old English unit of measurement, a faggot of wood, because Gay people used to be burned alive in a pile of wood along with other faggots of wood.  In the English language, technically a “fag” means a “bundle,” so Gays were burned along with bundles of wood of certain dimensions.

Okay, enough history; what do you call a guy who likes to hang out with Lesbians just like “fag hag” women like to hang out with Gay males?  I’ve never heard of any such term, so I guess I’ll just have to create one:  call me a Dyke Dog.  Occasionally, my straight friends will take issue with my use of the term Dyke.  Let me set you straight:  I don’t know any Lesbians who actually use the word Lesbian to refer to themselves and other Lesbians.  Most of them refer to themselves and others as Dykes.  Just as “homosexuals” self defined as “Gay,” Lesbians have empowered themselves as ceasing to be homosexuals, or Lesbians (literally from the Island of Lesbos, where Lesbian Greek poetess Sappho lived and wrote) and have self defined as Dykes.  Far be it from me to accept lecture on this subject, as it is just as important in the self identification of “African Americans” who morphed from Negroes, to Blacks, and now to AA’s; or as Americans of Mexican descent morphed into Mexican Americans and eventually, Chicanos.

So, my new label for an old predilection:  I’m a Dyke Dog and as such, I can’t wait to see, The Oldest Lesbian in the World.

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