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Reality Check on Increased Reserve Funds

Kriss Worthington, Councilmember, City of Berkeley, District 7
Thursday October 05, 2017 - 01:46:00 PM

The prior Mayor Bates and City Council repeatedly refused to increase reserves, despite my many proposals. Shortly after their election, the new Mayor Arreguin and new City Council INCREASED RESERVES from 8% to 13% and already made policies to keep the money in separate funds to reduce the chance of spending it down. 

As the person who has led the charge and introduced the most council proposals to create a rainy day fund and increase the Reserve Fund, I can definitively state that I have no “ plan to use the City's reserves to give unions a raise.” And I have heard of no such plan or suggestion from anyone on the City Council.  

I strongly support appropriate levels of concern and monitoring of our fiscal condition, but please do not misunderstand the facts about what the new Mayor and Council are accomplishing and advocating. Mayor Arreguin and the City Council deserve great credit for transcending the political boundaries of progressive or moderate and increasing the reserves dramatically. It would have been much easier for them to spend the extra millions we had in the bank on their pet projects, as was the practice in the Bates years.  

Strong advocacy with inaccurate parts can be counterproductive. Strong advocacy based on facts can be powerful. Please let’s all be urgently needed advocates for fiscal responsibility based on documented facts. 

Dialogue: "Berkeley Braces for Bankruptcy: Red Flag Warning from Berkeley City Auditor" and the Auditor's Response

Isabelle Gaston, PhD and Ann-Marie Hogan, Berkeley City Auditor
Thursday October 05, 2017 - 01:30:00 PM

Editor's Note: This interesting discussion was posted to the public record as part of communications to the Berkeley City Council. We have Dr. Gaston's permission to publish it, and the quoted title is hers. 

To Whom It May Concern: 

Two nights ago, at Berkeley City Council, the Berkeley City Auditor warned the Berkeley City Manager and the Berkeley City Council that the City could face bankruptcy unless steps are taken to protect our reserves.
  • The auditor stated that Berkeley has "serious unfunded liabilities" -- that originated in 1999, not in 2008, as the unions and politicians tell the story.
  • She acknowledged the "enormous pressure" the unions are putting on Council to give them raises.
  • She said that "we're looking at other cities that are going to hit the wall sooner than we are...we are looking at other cities that are talking about bankruptcy within the next 4 years as they spend down the reserves they have"
From the Auditor's statements, it is pretty easy to connect the dots:
  • The Mayor and Council plan to use the City's reserves to give unions a raise.
  • The draining of the reserves will lead sooner - rather than later - to bankruptcy. Possibly within 4 years.
Is political payback to the unions that supported the Mayor and new majority last November more important than avoiding bankruptcy?
We'll see soon enough!
And this will be this Council's legacy.
Isabelle Gaston, PhD 


Dear Isabelle – 

I disagree with your characterization of what I said (the first two bullets) and with your conclusions. I’m in an all day, live, on line training so I won’t have the opportunity to respond more fully today 

First bullet: 1999 was in reference to the discussions about increasing the benefits for state employees, not to the beginning of unfunded liabilities; PERS was super-funded back then. 

Second bullet: I have no information whatsoever about pressure being put on the Council by employees; I spoke more globally about the pressures that are inevitable when there are not enough resources to accomplish the City’s objectives. 

Regarding your conclusions, I absolutely am not predicting that the city will be bankrupt in four years, but rather that the PERS rates will be so high that difficult choices will be made. I also have no knowledge of particular pressures put on Council for particular expenditures other than what I see at public comment at Council meetings here and in other cities. 

My apologies for replying to all, but I suggest that anyone interested in my actual extemporaneous comments can go on line and listen to them; the video is posted on the city’s web site. 

Thank you very much for your interest. 

Ann-Marie [Hogan, Berkeley City Auditor] 

New: Berkeley Police Subdue Knife-Wielding Man with No Injury

Wednesday October 04, 2017 - 07:49:00 PM

Berkeley Police Officer Byron White told the Planet tonight that the situation at the corner of Roosevelt and Bancroft, reported at 7pm via Nixle has been safely resolved. They received a report early this evening that drug activity and other disturbances were taking place in the portable toilets located on Roosevelt. When officers arrived they found out that a man in one of the units was threatening to harm himself with a knife. They negotiated with him unsuccessfully for a while, but could not get him to come out or give up the knife. Finally they rushed him using non-lethal projectiles and were able to detain him, disarm him and take him into custody with no one injured, according to Officer White at 7:20 pm.

Flash: Advisory: Police activity at 1717 Bancroft Way. Avoid area. Neighbors shelter in place.

Berkeley Police via Nixle
Wednesday October 04, 2017 - 07:26:00 PM

Berkeley Police Department is currently involved in a police activity on Roosevelt at the corner of Bancroft. in at 1717 Bancroft Way. Please avoid this area and the area Bancroft/Roosevelt, for the next several hours. Neighbors should shelter in place. Negotiations are in progress.

California Typewriter: A Big-screen Film about a Small, Hometown Treasure

Gar Smith
Thursday September 28, 2017 - 10:45:00 AM

Opens Friday, September 29 at the Shattuck Cinemas (Showtimes: 1:30, 4:35, 7:10, 9:50)

Thanks to retro-hipster millennials, vinyl is back. And now, in addition to 78-rmp LP records, another sound-making machine from the past is making a proud return.

The manual typewriter, an ancient writing tool used by everyone from Mark Twain to San Francisco's Herb Caen (who fondly dubbed his metal type-slinger the "Loyal Royal"), has not only been making a comeback but it has now been honored with a big-screen documentary featuring the likes of Tom Hanks, John Mayer, Sam Shepard, and the Boston Typewriter Orchestra.

Even better, the documentary celebrates Berkeley's own, California Typewriter Company, a small, family-owned enterprise on San Pablo Avenue that has weathered the Electronic Revolution and continues to service and repair these finely crafted, finger-powered writing machines. 




California Typewriter, which has been around since 1949, sells and services all makes and models of typewriters, fax machines, printers—and even word processors. Herbert L. Permillion, III, took over the business in 1981 after a 20-year stint at IBM where he serviced Selectric Typewriters. A Bay Area resident since the 1950’s, Permillion believes typewriters "have an important place in the toolbox of society." 

CalType's Kenneth Alexander, a master typewriter repairman with more than 42 years of experience, tells you straight out what he can deliver: "If you want somebody to fix it, call on me," he grins. "If you want somebody to type poetry, call someone else." 

* * * 

For some of us, it wasn't so long ago that manual typewriters were state-of-the-art technology. When I worked at the Berkeley Barb, the Revolution was recorded one loud key-stroke at a time. (That may be why we referred to reporters "banging out a story.") When we spoke of writing, we used state-of-the-art terms like "the platin," "paper table," "space bar," "carriage return lever," and "ribbon spool." 

I remember working for a San Francisco environmental publication when the first computers arrived—complete with gleaming screens and electronic keyboards. But, with a photo of John Muir hovering over my desk, I refused to abandon my manual. I challenged the new tech-fans to a typing contest and, in the tradition of John Henry (who pitted his legendary hammer against a steam-powered steel drill), I pounded out my copy so fast that I left the newcomers in the dust. 

Why bother learning key codes and protocols? Who needs imaginary letters floating inside an electronic screen? That's so ephemeral! Give me a piece of hard copy I can hold in my hand. 

Within a month, however, the seductive new technology had won me over. 

It was so much easier to forgo the tedious process of correcting typos with dabs of "white-out." And electronic copy machines were much more convenient than inserting sheets of carbon paper.  

* * * 

On Tuesday afternoon, I stopped by California Typewriter to drop off my ancient Danish-made Erika manual typewriter for servicing. I returned around 5PM for a special event—a come-one-come-all "type-in" to celebrate the debut of the new movie. 

Posters announcing the upcoming screening of California Typewriter were on display in the windows of California Typewriter and director/editor Doug Nichol was on-hand with cardboard cartons of hot coffee and several large boxes of exceptionally tasty cookies. 

More than a dozen typewriters were arrayed on tables set up around the shop. Soon people began to wander in. The clatter quickly grew as they sat down and started typing away. Some arrived carrying their own personal typewriters. The crowd quickly grew so large that new arrivals were invited to grab some of the classic typewriters from the shelves of the stores' museum-quality collection of machines—some dating back more than 100 years. 

* * * 

Nostalgia was unleashed as the congregants eagerly recalled favorite typewriters from by-gone years—Adler, Olivetti, Underwood, Remington, Imperial, IBM Selectric. Heartfelt declarations were shared ("I love Smith-Corona but the Olympia is supreme!"). And there were moments of shared memories from the early days of the electronic change-over—"FORTRAN!' "COBALT!" "Pong!" "The Osborne 'portable' computer!" 

At one point, the conversation turned to the problem of jamming keys—which can happen during speed-typing when more than one key strikes the paper at the same time and the metal parts jam together like a traffic wreck. I learned something I would not have discovered at any other event: It turns out that the Olympia and Adler machines feature a stronger metal that prevents the keys from getting bent when they collide. Instead, they snap back into alignment. 

* * * 

I found myself working on a mahogany-hued Corona from the 1920s. The keys on this model resembled old-fashioned teletype keys, with each letter surrounded by a ring of metal. 

I start to pound out a message: 

"Here's to the whack and clatter of a machine that gives your vocabulary some real throw-weight!" 

At this point, I had to stop. I noticed something odd about this typewriter. Unlike the other machines on hand, it lacked a #1 key—the key that, in all the other models, also provides an exclamation point (while holding down the uppercase shift key). 

"Hey! This typewriter doesn't have an exclamation mark!" I protested. 

Kenneth Alexander glided over with a knowing smile on his face. 

"Of course it has an exclamation point," he explained. "You just have to know where to find it." 

I watched as he typed a lower case "l" and then hit the backspace key. At this point, he typed a period, which landed right below the "l" and—Voila!—an exclamation point! 

* * * 

How is it that California Typewriter is still economically viable in our all-electric, interconnected, Fitbit-enhanced age?  

According to CalType's website, the secret is: Family. 

"We've supported each other all of these years in doing what we love to do, and that's to serve our community with the skills that we've honed over the course of our entire lives. The community gives back to us by sharing the wonderful things they create using the machines we fix for them or that they buy from us: poetry, novels, screenplays, recipes, or just a kind thank-you note. . . . The typewriter continues to speak to and through all of us, and we're proud as a family to share this idea with our customers and our friends." 

So take some time to celebrate the not-so-bygone typewriter—an honorable artifact that still clicks with its fans—by catching this cheerful, award-winning documentary. And take the whole family! 

Contact: California Typewriter, 2362 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA, 94702. (510) 845-3780. info@californiatypewriter.com 

Daniel Marlin, 1945-2017

Sue Steel
Tuesday October 03, 2017 - 04:06:00 PM

Daniel Marlin, age 72, poet, artist, and peace activist, died at his home in Berkeley on August 7, 2017, after a heroic battle with cancer and renal disease over many years. Born in Brooklyn, February 9, 1945 and raised on Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, New York, Dan was the son of George Marlin and Lebe Goldin Marlin. 

Daniel attended PS 114, graduated from Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, was a passionate golfer in his teenage years, and later attended UC Berkeley. He dropped out in his second year after realizing the university was not for him, and he began his lifelong adventures as a world traveler, poet, artist, translator, and social activist, with Berkeley as his home base for over fifty years. 

Daniel supported his lifestyle as an artist with a variety of part-time jobs: mailhandler on the loading dock of the Oakland Main Post Office, gardener, and English teacher, but mainly as a telefundraiser for peace, social justice, women’s rights, and environmental nonprofits. 

In Berkeley in 2007, Daniel collaborated with Fred Kellogg, QuikBooks publisher, to produce his art book Heart of Ardor, which includes over 300 images drawn from four decades of his watercolors, sketches and collages, combined with his written reflections on his work. Daniel’s favorite subjects are: “landscapes from Tilden Park and views from my old apartment on Derby Street; Japanese rivers, mountains and skies; the boardwalk and beach at Rockaway, New York; the biblical stories of the reunion of Jacob and Joseph and of the Poor Man and the Lamb; streets and faces seen and imagined throughout the Americas; seamstresses, tailors, and angels at sewing machines.” 

In 2011, again in collaboration with Fred Kellogg, Daniel produced his Amagasaki Sketchbook, watercolors of the Japanese landscape and sketches of passengers on trains he rode during his time in Japan. Daniel’s work is represented by Mythos Gallery in Berkeley and championed by Sue Steel, director of the gallery (mythosfirehouse.com).  

Daniel’s poetic works include Isaiah at the Wall: Palestine Poems (QuikBooks, 2009) which is based on a trip he took to Palestine and Israel in 2008 with the Middle East Children’s Alliance of Berkeley and his decades of thought about the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. His understanding was deepened by poet Mahmoud Darwish, human rights activist Israel Shahak, lawyer and writer Raja Shehadeh, and scholar Sarah Roy. Daniel’s chapbook, Jerusalem & the Boardwalk, vivid poems of his childhood and adolescence in Rockaway and his own art, was published in 1982. He felt that the two American poets who influenced him the most were Kenneth Patchen and e.e. Cummings. Daniel’s art and poetry books are collected in various University of California libraries and several other libraries in the U.S.  

Daniel’s other major literary activities included his work as a translator and editor. From 1981 to 1987, he studied with and translated the poems of Malka Heifitz Tussman, a Ukrainian-American Yiddish poet and teacher (1893-1987) who resided in Berkeley. He also produced a rare bilingual chapbook of his own poems in Yiddish and English in 1981 as he was learning Yiddish, and in 1989, participated in a Minority Writers Series at UC Berkeley, reading his poetry in both Yiddish and English, documented by a video recording now held at Cal’s Media Resources Center, Moffitt Library.  

With Ralph Dranow and Mitch Zeftel (1946-2010), Daniel cofounded a long-standing East Bay writing group which has endured for almost 40 years. Always a supporter of other poets, Daniel edited books for close friends in his writing circles: David Schooley’s Ravines of the Heart: San Bruno Mountain - Poems, Drawings, Essays (2014); Sanford Dorbin’s Travelogue for Two, Poems by Sanford and Friends (2014); Mitchell Zeftel’s Rear Entrance to the Holyland: Selected Writing (coedited with Ralph Dranow, 2011). All three books were published by QuikBooks. In addition, in 1998 Daniel and David Schooley published the collection Now then, Arden: A Book of Memories of Arden Mayhew Tavistock

Throughout his lifetime, Daniel was a dedicated peace activist, concentrating on antinuclear activities, both in Berkeley and in Japan. For years, he participated in Berkeley’s Circle of Concern, vigiling against UC’s management of the United States Nuclear Weapons Laboratories at Livermore and Los Alamos, New Mexico, and from 2011 on, he participated in No Nuke Action. He was also an environmental activist with the San Bruno Mountain Watch starting in 1969. 

His survivors include his wife, Toshiko Watanabe of Berkeley and Amagasaki, Japan; brother Jeffrey Marlin and wife Joan Kraus of Rockaway, New York; nephew Jacob Marlin; cousins Pamela Ericson and Richard Marlin; and a circle of longtime Berkeley and worldwide friends who will deeply miss him. 

A Celebration of Daniel Marlin’s Life and Art will be held Sunday, October 22, 2017, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the Harriet Tubman Terrace Community Room, 2870 Adeline, in Berkeley.  



The Editor's Back Fence

Slow Issue This Week

Becky O'Malley
Thursday September 28, 2017 - 11:01:00 AM

It seems that I must be otherwise occupied for a couple of days at least, so I'm posting what's already in on Thursday, and whatever else arrives whenever I'm able. Last week's editorial stays up for the moment, still topical, sorry to say. Thanks to all of our regular contributors, and you'll hear from them eventually.

Public Comment

Sign Our Petition: Keep West Berkeley Affordable

Friends of R-1A
Friday September 29, 2017 - 01:56:00 PM

On October 18, the Planning Commission will consider new zoning rules for backyard houses in the R-1A zone in West Berkeley and Westbrae. Please join the Berkeley Neighborhood Council in supporting the Friends of R-1A proposal to limit the rear house to one-story, the front house to two, and the overall building floor area. Sun access would be assured. The 20-foot rear yard setback could be reduced to 15 with an administrative use permit (AUP). 

The staff recommends two stories for a house at the rear of a lot and no limitation on total building floor area. The rear yard setback can be reduced to 12 feet. The front house can be three stories with no design features to guarantee sun access for neighboring properties. A separation of 12 feet between the houses could be reduced with an AUP. 

The staff proposal follows the recommendations of a leading developer in West Berkeley who has been building two McMansions that shadow and intrude on the privacy of neighboring homes and gardens. The required off-street parking takes up most of the remaining open space that could be used for outdoor living. The lot is then subdivided, and the houses sold as million dollar plus condos, a lucrative business that drives up land values and threatens to displace low-income residents, many of whom are Hispanic. 

The staff/developer proposal undermines the recently approved ADU ordinance that limits the backyard cottage to 750 square feet and one story with a height of 14 feet. The ADU, which cannot be sold separately and does not require off-street parking, is large enough for two or three people, the size of 80% of East Bay households. An ADU is relatively affordable with companies competing with plans and even prefabricated parts, and the ADU keeps construction of new housing in the control of neighborhood owners, not developers. Families of four and more can get a better deal on the market with old houses that provide yards for outdoor living. 

The backyard McMansions more than double the square footage of an ADU and require off-street parking, which gobbles up most of the open space on West Berkeley’s narrow lots. With no mandate for permeable paving, the absorbent ground area dwindles, creating concrete hardscape and runoff that aggravates winter flood conditions on the streets and in Aquatic Park. The excessive height shadows adjacent gardens and outdoor living space. 

We urge neighbors to support the Friends of R-1A Move-on petition “Keep West Berkeley Affordable” no matter where you live in Berkeley because changes in West Berkeley zoning will be a precedent. Three story buildings located at the rear of parcels are also permitted in R-2 and R-2A. These extreme allowances invite developers to buy up lots for condo projects like 1155-1173 Hearst that threaten to demolish rent controlled apartments, displace their tenants, and build expensive condos. The Hearst Avenue project was heard at the Zoning Adjustments Board on September 27 and continued “off-calendar” which means that no date has been set to reconsider changed plans. If you didn’t go to the meeting or watch it on TV, the video is worth viewing when available. Kudos to Rain Sussman, the neighborhood organizer, for a great job in gathering the community and presenting impressive public testimony. 

Please put the October 18 Planning Commission meeting on your calendar and plan to attend, as your input counts. 

The Friends of R-1A include Ed Herzog, Toni Mester. Edward Moore, Susan Henderson, Alicia Carter, Adam Fuchs and others.

New: Open Letter to Carol Denney

Monday September 25, 2017 - 01:55:00 PM

Knee-Jerk Reaction, No Fact Checking; Open Letter to Carol Denney in response to her letter to me headlined "Misconceptions…Everywhere…"

Carol Denney's Open Letter to me (Planet 9.22.2017) appears to be an emotional reaction to a quick scanning of my letter rather than a thoughtful reading that allowed her to digest the import of the letter.

Perhaps my letter was not clear. This is the point: Black Lives Matter! (Too) Brown Lives Matter! (Too) and Jewish Lives Matter! (Too). So the necessity for emphasis on the fight for Civil Rights for which we, of course, need free speech and assembly. But it has been handed on a silver platter by the University to far-right speakers at the same time it is being curbed for counter protesters, not only by U.C., but government at all levels. 

The alt-right's bait was to make a huge issue of free speech. The progressives and the University bit, swallowed the bait and got hooked. By all of their attention, and the media's, focused on free speech, the general public's attention has been diverted from the struggle against the preeminent critical ever growing fascistic core values of racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism, anti-immigration, police militarization and oppression of free speech, free press and assembly. This is to the advantage of our corporate-fascist Federal Government. 

Our local police departments are already under the influence of the Federal Government programs, namely, the Department of Homeland Security's Urban Areas Security Initiative which funds Urban Shield, and the FBI run Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, an information sharing network surveillance system. These programs were recently renewed by a hefty majority of the so-called progressive Berkeley City Council. Adding fuel to the fire of increasing police militarization, the Council, only a little over one month ago, called a Special Meeting August 18, 2017, at which it voted to approve (only one No vote) to modify an ordinance with just one reading (ordinances require two readings on separate dates) which gave their power to the City Manager (who was on vacation!) to determine police procedures for unpermitted rallies and events. The Council's vote was in complete defiance of community members exhortation not to relinquish their power (to represent us?!). Again on Sept. 12, 2017 a Special Meeting at 3pm was held at which the Berkeley Council approved the use of Pepper Spray by the Berkeley Police Department. Despite the short notice there were 69 speakers. And, at least 17 written communications were received requesting a no vote on the police use of Pepper Spray. (Thank you Carol for your letter!) 

Regarding my "Misconception…Everywhere", and the need for fact checking: 

#1. According to the Daily Cal (9.22.17 p.1) "…Christ declared this academic year a 'Free Speech Year' on multiple occasions". Is this tacit approval for Free Speech Week? Since when does a new, relatively unknown group decide a world renowned University is going to have a Free Speech Week? The S.F. Chronicle (9.22.17 p.1 & A12) states re: Chancellor Carol Christ "…she said, the Berkeley Patriot student group that applied for permission to hold the event is a 'very small, recently created student organization that is the door to a kind of disproportionately large organization' behind the event. That organization is Milo Inc., that Yiannopoulos group…created about the same time as the Berkeley Patriot." See also Daily Cal (9.19.17 p.5) "Wealthy donors control campus decisions on free speech". 

#2. Denney's Open Letter to me insinuates that I am against allowing free speech to "white supremacist groups and speakers". I did not say that nor did I mention the names as did Denney of any of the "alt-right" speakers tentatively rescheduled for the apparently University condoned Free Speech Week of 4 days. What I expressed was that a University condoned Free Speech Week should offer speakers on both sides of an issue and for those who do not have the financial help of the University itself, or the resources of Milo Inc., they should be allowed to rally on public University land outside the very expensive speaker venues. 

I do not know whether the reputed far-right speaker Ben Shapiro is Black, Brown or Caucasion, or what his religion is. My concern is that "Chancellor Carol Christ…decided that campus would pay the Zellerbach Hall rent [$9,000] for the Shapiro event specifically to avoid reputational damage and prove the campus was open to conservative thought". (Daily Cal 9.22.17 p.6) My Alma Mater suffered reputational damage when it declared that the non-violent counterprotester August 27, 2017 rally, publicized to take place on the University's Oxford Street Crescent Lawn, was forbidden to set foot there. The glaring inequity between this declaration and the $9,000 paid for Shapiro to speak at Zellerbach Hall is unconscionable. This blatant favoritism totally flies in the face of the free speech victory of the 60s. 

Let's keep our eyes on the prize. Civil Rights for all!! 

Gene Bernardi SuperBOLD (Berkeleyans Organizing for Liberty Defense)

Condos and Tuff Sheds

Carol Denney
Thursday September 28, 2017 - 10:50:00 AM

there's another condo tower going up across the bay

Oakland's buying Tuff Sheds for the poor

Oakland's seems to recognize they have to put up Tuff Sheds

or there won't be any sidewalks anymore

it isn't rocket science how if all you build is condos

where the poorest of the housing used to be

that the people you put on the street will huddle up together

sharing overpasses tents or just a tree


condos and Tuff Sheds in the land of haute cuisine 

condos and Tuff Sheds fifty folks with one latrine 

condos and Tuff Sheds nothing in between 

the best that they can do 

what in hell's this poor town coming to 


doesn't take much calculation just to count up all the children 

in the public schools who have no place to stay 

doing homework in the laundromat the library the car hoping for 

backyards someday where they all can play 

and they say they're going to need a lot of money 

some from me for sure and probably some from you 

unless of course you've nothing after paying your last rent check 

hoping to avoid the Tuff Sheds too 


condos and Tuff Sheds in the land of haute cuisine 

condos and Tuff Sheds fifty folks with one latrine 

condos and Tuff Sheds nothing in between 

this is not the best that they can do 

what in hell's this poor town coming to 


there are thousands on the streets tonight all sharing what they can 

there are thousands on the streets tonight who only need a hand 

in richest of the countries and among the richest towns 

when we know there's more than enough to go around 

and around and around 

when we know there's more than enough to go around 

and around and around 

when we know there's more than enough to go around 

and around and around 

when we know there's more than enough to go around 

and around and around


THE PUBLIC EYE: Trump Now Owns White Supremacy

Bob Burnett
Friday September 29, 2017 - 09:40:00 AM

Even though despicable, Donald Trump's white-supremacist proclivities have an upside: Trump now owns white supremacy. That's an opportunity for progressives to do more than protest; it opens a window for social justice. Indivisible, and other resistance efforts, have based their grassroots organizing on a simple maxim, "total resistance to the Trump agenda." That's been remarkably effective; it's a major reason why GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare failed. But as Trump rolls on, the resistance must broaden to take on Trump's bigotry, his alliance with white supremacists. 

Most of us who opposed Trump in the 2016 presidential election, believe that he is a bully and a bigot. Nonetheless, in the midst of the tumult surrounding Trump, it's easy to lose track of the grim truth: Donald is a white supremacist. His reaction to Charlottesville made that clear. Trump is a racist, sexist, homophobe, classist, and anti-semite. 

If we had any lingering doubts, Trump's handling of the crisis in Puerto Rico has made his bigotry abundantly clear. Rather than focus on the desperate straights of the island's 3.4 million inhabitants -- primarily people of color -- Trump picked a fight with the National Football League. As a result, Puerto Rican relief was delayed, turning a tragedy into a catastrophe. 

Trump's recent behavior is an indication we've moved into phase two of the Trump era. Donald has abandoned his legislative agenda and begun to focus solely on placating his base. (He made a half-hearted effort to repeal Obamacare and will make another weak effort to change the tax code but nothing will come of it.) 

Confronted with across-the-board Republican failure, Trump's base is restless. So far they've focussed blame for the GOP "repeal and replace" debacle on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Trump continues to have the support of 80 percent of Republican voters.) 

While Trump's support for white supremacy is horrifying, it represents an opportunity for progressives. 

The time has come to recognize that America has a set of social problems that can no longer be ignored. Writing in The Guardian (trhttp://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/26/donald-ump-nfl-kneeling-national-anthem ) British journalist Gary Younge observed:
"The battle lines in America’s struggle against racism and white supremacy are become increasingly clear to a degree not seen since the 60s...The codified obstacles to freedom and equality have been removed, but the legacy of those obstacles and the system that produced them remains. Black Americans are far more likely than white people to be stopped, frisked, arrested, jailed, shot and executed by the state, while the racial gaps in unemployment are the same as 40 years ago, the racial disparity in wealth and income is worse than 50 years ago." Younge concluded: "[People of color] have the right to eat in any restaurant they wish; the trouble is, many can’t afford what’s on the menu." 

How should progressives respond to these systemic problems? 

First, the Left should call Trump on his white supremacism. At the moment, progressives are right to blame Trump for mismanagement of the Puerto Rico crisis. 

Second, progressives should seize the opportunity to address the cult of "white male privilege" that underlies Trump's white supremacism. Trump's slogan, "Make America great again," is a call to reinforce white male privilege, a larger and less distinct concept than "white supremacy" that incorporates racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, anti-semitism and dominionism. (In essence, white male privilege is the notion that straight white Anglo-Saxon men should dominate the social order because that is the "natural" hierarchy.) 

While America has made progress since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the reality is that the United States remains a segregated society. Writing on "self-segregation" ( https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/08/self-segregation-why-its-hard-for-whites-to-understand-ferguson/378928/ ), Robert Jones observes there is an absence of "integrated social networks... fully three-quarters (75 percent) of whites have entirely white social networks without any minority presence." (This segregation is particularly true of Trump supporters; a March 2016 New York Times article [https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/13/upshot/the-geography-of-trumpism.html?_r=0&mtrref=undefined] noted that "One of the strongest predictors of Trump support is the proportion of the population that is native-born. Relatively few people in the places where Trump is strong are immigrants.") 

Writing in "America's Original Sin," Pastor Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, calls for "a new conversation about race." Wallis feels this conversation should be between parents; for example, "parents of students at the same school with children of different races." Wallis suggests three venues for these conversations: schools, sports teams, and congregations. 

Schools because all parents care about the education of their children and want their schools to be effective. Sports because parents of children who play competitive sports want that experience to be positive. And congregations because, "Faith communities that are becoming more multiracial are some of the best places to have the difficult, painful, and personal conversations American need to have about our racial future." 

To this list, I would add the resistance. My experience of Indivisible -- in the San Francisco Bay Area -- is that it is an overwhelmingly white organization. To integrate Indivisible, white activists need to reach out to their black and brown counterparts, and have the conversations that Jim Wallis talks about. 

It's one thing to disagree with Trump and quite a different thing to take a stand against his white supremacy. Now is the time. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and activist. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net or @BobWBurnett 


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Medication is Only the Beginning

Jack Bragen
Thursday September 28, 2017 - 10:57:00 AM

In my development as a human being, I've had problems. However, as time passed, I have solved many of them, and some of them were hard to solve. Many of the problems had by many mentally ill people can not be addressed with medication. While medication could be a prerequisite, it does not address specific issues that we may have when we are stabilized.  

Impulsivity is a common problem. When trying to interact with people in a professional field, too much impulsivity can get you eliminated. It is very easy to send an email or two that will make someone not want to deal with you any more. Many but not all people with psychiatric problems have poor impulse control. Because I am aware of having impulsivity, it is less probable that I will allow it to damage my life circumstances. 

However, not all people with mental illness have impulsivity, only some. There are a number of persons with mental illness who do better in most ways than I. Most of these individuals are bipolar, or at least they do not have a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Paranoid-type, which is my diagnosis. 

For me, it is a miracle that I've learned how to think clearly, and to process information, as well as people's inputs to me, in a sensible manner. It could be said that much of my development came later in life. This is also the pattern for aging schizophrenics. The illness gets better much later in life. And if you've survived as long as I have, there is the possibility of living your remaining years as a person who is much better off. A sibling seems to have this in common with me.  

Other problems of some mentally ill people include having excessive trust. This problem could partly be fostered by a combination of medication and being exposed to treatment professionals, many of whom nurture naiveté. If you trust everyone and try to go out in the world and do anything, you'll be eaten alive by the first con artist or scammer who comes along. This encounter will frequently be online, but not always. Some scammers operate over the phone and some in person.  

Naive people can also be cheated by an automobile mechanic. Probably half of mechanics will exaggerate what is wrong with your vehicle. In some instances, they will find a way to acquire the car. In other instances, some of them want you to pay thousands of dollars, when, in fact, the car doesn't actually need anything, and the vehicle is not worth as much as the mechanic wants you to pay. 

Not knowing and/or not asserting one's rights is one of the biggest behavior problems of mentally ill people in treatment. It happens in many areas of life. And yet, mental health treatment practitioners have never identified this as a behavior problem in anyone I've seen, during the more than thirty years I've been in the presence of practicing psychologists. Instead of this, the tendency is for therapists to offer a shoulder to cry on after people treat you as a doormat.  

Not being able to handle relationships is yet another area in which there could be a deficiency. Before I became married to my wife, I had several relationships, mostly with mentally ill women. Some of the relationships were fine, while some ended with some problems. Learning from those experiences made it possible for me to choose someone good for me with whom to commit. 

The above are all areas of life in which medication won't fix anything. While medication can give you a neurological basis for the possibility of clear thought, or while it might address extreme mood problems, it won't substitute for having life skills.  

Many of life's lessons necessarily involve pain. Many mentally ill people don't have a great way of dealing with pain. Some can't handle it while others invite too much of it. Either of these traits can impede learning from mistakes.  

Medication doesn't provide life skills, and it doesn't always equal clear and rational thought. Both have to be learned over time, often through trial and error. Yet, if someone has a major mental health diagnosis, and is not cooperative with some type of treatment, the chances of doing any of this are minimal.