Nov 082012

Ballistic Armored Tactical Transport (BATT) vehicle

Let’s Do Something About It

After an incredibly intensive campaign, all I can say is that I’m glad it’s over 🙂 I’m no great supporter of Obama, but of course, I’m glad he’s won. Romney would have been much worse.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Our country is going in the wrong direction in many ways.  I read somewhere that this election was a battle between a member of the 1% and a servant to the 1%, and I think that’s right. The 1% definitely have gotten richer and more powerful under Obama.

The Occupy movements that surged last year might have fizzled out, but the anger and desperation of much of our community is still there. As things get worse and worse for the middle class – and let’s be clear, the pie is fixed, the more the rich have, the less we do -, the greater the likelihood for social disruption.

Obama’s government is getting ready for it.  Already, police departments all over the country – even in the allegedly liberal Bay Area – are becoming para-militarized. They are acquiring weapons and vehicles – like the Ballistic Armored Tactical Transport (BATT) – which are used in situations of extreme internal disturbances.

They are also creating a full surveillance society. Right now many Police Departments in the Bay Area are using so-called license plate cameras (but which actually photograph wide areas around cars) to keep a record of the movements of every person who drives or rides in a car. Hundreds of pictures are taken of each car a year, and are then stored indefinitely, allowing the police to easily track the movements of citizens, know where they go, find their secrets (let’s not forget about the FBI files on Martin Luther King). That’s not enough, however. Currently the San Leandro Police Department (SLPD) is using traffic cameras to record the movements of  cars, and wants to install surveillance cameras throughout town.  The details of what they’ll do with them have not been released.  Meanwhile, the Alameda County Sheriff Department is acquiring an unmanned drone that will allow them to spy inside buildings.

The para-militarization of the police also requires training, so police officers have started to conduct joint tactical exercises with the military.

The pretext, of course, is “fighting crime” – just like the pretext for doing away with habeas corpus and due process rights is “fighting terrorism” – but let’s not be naive. This technology, in the hands of para-militarized police forces, is to be used for social control.

I know to many people this may seem like silly conspiracy theory.  If I suggest that you look at what happened in Germany in the 1930’s (and Eastern Europe afterwards), you may recall Godwin’s Law. But at least take pause and think about it.

I’ll leave this very long status report (which I’ll probably also share as a blog posting) with the words of wisdom of pastor Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Mar 052012

Just a quick note to let you know that I am now an official candidate for the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.  I’ve served one term there and I’d like to serve another.  If you are a dem, I’d love you to vote for me in June.

I see my role in the Committee as being the voice for civil liberties and accountability.  While Democrats are quite committed to labor issues, education and social justice, there seems to be a reluctance to push for civil liberties head on.  Part of the problem, I think, is that the people who run for the Committee usually come from unions or grassroot organizing.  A larger part, however, is the current political situation.

Our Democratic President may very well have the worst record on human rights of any administration in the history of this country.  As a human rights activist, I find this outrageous.   Obama has ordered the assassination of American citizens  and their indefinite detention and torture.  He has kept Guantanamo open, widened spying on American citizens and tried to silence whistle blowers.  Unfortunately, the list of his repressive policies could go on and on.

And yet, the Republican party is pushing so hard to destroy the social covenant, our right to privacy and freedom of religion and our economic welfare, that the possibility of one of their presidential candidates winning the election is terrifying.  For that reason, the Democratic establishment is very wary of criticizing Obama’s actions or questioning his agenda (at least in non-economic or labor issues).

As a member of a local Committee my reach is, of course, very limited – but I think my voice is still necessary, specially now.

I understand that these positions will lose me as many votes as they may win them (one of my neighbors refused to sign my nomination papers because of  of my criticism of Obama) – but I do believe in democracy, and that means being as open and honest with the electorate as possible so that you can make an educated choice of who will represent you best.  I hope I will.

I’m running for the 18th Assembly district, which includes San Leandro, the city of Alameda and most of Oakland (except for the hills).  You get to vote for six candidates, so far there are ten candidates on the ballot though more may file before the March 9th deadline.

My husband, Mike Katz-Lacabe, who is more moderate than I is also running and I will ask you to vote for him.  Ditto for Robin Torello, who chairs the party in Alameda County.  She is truly indispensable for the smooth running of the Committee and we’d be lost without her.