Pelosi blocks change...yet again


Creatively calling out corruption


Living through an era of darkness

Coming home yesterday to learn about an act of vicious, pre-meditated racial terrorism in Buffalo, NY left me in mourning—not only for the nearly dozen victims killed in the attack, but also the thousands of communities across the country now terrified of copycat attacks in their own neighborhoods.

Those concerns grew only stronger after yet another mass shooting the very next day here in California targeting Asian-American churchgoers in Orange County.

Does it feel unfamiliar to witness terrorism on U.S. soil?

However gruesome the news may be, we must grapple with its uncomfortable relationship to documented U.S. history.

A history too many Americans never learn

Remember the decades during which the KKK laid siege to the South—and many parts of our country well beyond it, from Connecticut to Oregon. In 1963, KKK terrorists bombed 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young Black girls, and shocking the conscience of the entire country.

That was a single incident among literally thousands of them.

In 1995, bombers espousing right-wing ideas bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City, OK, killing 168 people, damaging over 300 buildings as many as 16 blocks away, and causing over $650 million in property damage.

Ten years earlier, the Philadelphia police department bombed a building from a helicopter, ultimately razing an entire city block to the ground.

A century earlier, right here in San Francisco, a three-day race riot included the murders of 4 Chinese-American residents and multiple acts of arson targeting businesses owned by Chinese-Americans. The violence and terror stopped only due to the intervention of local and state authorities backed up by thousands of armed local residents who organized to resist the mob violence parading through our streets.

Similar anti-Chinese pogroms were repeated in every major city up and down the west coast.

I’m not here to make anyone feel good. I’m here to speak the truth.

And the truth is that violence, hate, and greed are as American as apple pie. They have historically been the reality obscured by bipartisan rhetoric emphasizing liberty, justice, and community.

However dejecting the news might feel, remember: this is nothing new. And We the People of the United States have overcome worse in the past.

How Congress should respond

Yesterday’s events were horrific. It’s safe to say they won’t be the last of their kind.

That’s why these acts of domestic terror demand a thoughtful policy response. It’s crucial that we get that response right, rather than allow it to be used as a power grab for policing and intelligence agencies.

First, Congress must tighten gun control restrictions. It is senseless to allow military assault-style weapons to remain widely available, even after recurring demonstrations that they pose a profound, pervasive, and continuing threat to public safety.

Having seen the obstacle presented by the right-wing Supreme Court in its 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision (which struck down municipal gun control measures based on a novel reading of the Second Amendment), we know that’s not enough.

That’s why our proposal to end judicial life tenure matters so much, in terms of checking and balancing the Court through a neutral process that could restore its political independence. The alternative is to allow nine unelected voices to impose their will on the rest of the country.

Many voices will clamor for new domestic intelligence powers, authorities, and programs to prevent acts of racial terror before they happen. These voices will predictably sidestep how pervasive domestic surveillance has already grown, and how demonstrably useless it has proven from a security standpoint.

Rather than further expand domestic surveillance efforts that have already proven to be a security failure and a constitutional nightmare, Congress should be asking hard questions. For instance, how many investigations of right-wing terror have been stymied for a lack of resources?

This is not an abstract question. Former FBI Special Agent Michael German went public in 2004 to alert Congress to failures within the FBI, and the Bureau’s insistence on prioritizing fake plots to entrap Muslims over investigations into real threats of the sort that alarmed us all yesterday.

The solution to prevents acts of domestic terror is not to spend more, or vote harder, or to further empower agencies whose failures instead demand accountability. Those approaches simply repeat the failures that drove us all here.

In contrast, one vehicle for a solution has been absent since 1976: congressional oversight.

Someone needs to scrutinize domestic law enforcement and intelligence agencies to make sure that they’re showing up for work, doing the hard work of following up on leads, and securing evidence to support criminal prosecutions where appropriate.

Every time Congress has performed that scrutiny, it has found wanton violations of civil rights and civil liberties. Yet because Congress generally defers to the agencies rather than holding them accountable for their failures, each of their serial shortcomings has tended on only further bloat their budgets.

We already have laws on the books to protect civil rights and empower federal authorities. We don’t need new laws to make police or intelligence agencies even more unaccountable.

We need agencies charged with public safety to do their jobs. That’s what congressional oversight is for. But it has collapsed over the past generation.

Rooting out racism from vigilante violence to biased policing

Absent oversight ultimately invites corruption, as well as institutional biases. Those biases were on clear display yesterday.

After killing nearly a dozen people, wounding more, and terrorizing everyone in the grocery store that he had attacked, Payton Gendron—a white teenager not unlike Kyle Rittenhouse—was allowed to surrender to authorities.

Meanwhile, every year, hundreds of innocent Black and Brown Americans are gunned down for no reason at all.

Extrajudicial killings by authorities are bad enough. But when juxtaposed with their deference to even murderous, racist, white supremacist violence, the pattern grows even more offensive.

It's vital that efforts to prevent vigilante violence not further exacerbate the ongoing plagues of lethal state violence and predatory profiling. That's all the more reason to re-establish oversight, and to pass new legislation to guard civil rights, as we have long proposed.

Meeting the needs of today's crises

I’m eager to get to Congress in order to help Washington make better decisions. From enacting gun control to imposing judicial term limits, and from scrutinizing proposals that would further expand ineffective surveillance to championing oversight that others abandoned and guarding civil rights from state violence, our ideas meet the needs of today’s crises.

Any voice trying to sell you a vision of political cotton candy, pretending that the solutions to our problems are as simple as voting for more Democrats, is blowing smoke up your behind.

Understand what time it is, and what the stakes are.

When mourning today for the ten Black lives lost yesterday to senseless violence, save some thoughts for the countless victims poised to be chased into early graves—whether by racist vigilantes, or paramilitary police, or a seemingly inexorable pandemic, or accelerating climate chaos—unless We the People force the changes in public policy on which the future depends.

As we were warned by a former President, “We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of...defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Thanks for being alert, for seeking knowledge—and for standing with us! We hope with your support to help bring this repugnant series of incidents to an inglorious end.

Your voice,
Shahid


Pirate radio shames absentee news media

Over the past week, millions of Americans have taken to the streets to defend the rights of women, girls, non-binary, and trans folks. Meanwhile, the powerful leader among House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, has continued raising money for anti-choice reproductive authoritarian Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX).

Would San Francisco make better choices if the press reported the facts, rather than actively obscuring the conservative history of incumbents from Pelosi to Feinstein by privileging their rhetoric over their records?

Join us today to work around the failures of the press establishment and put us in a position to do their job of informing San Franciscans about history and their options going forward!

This weekend, the first broadcast outlet in San Francisco to cover our 2022 race aired a live interview that we’re excited to share with you.

Mutiny Radio is a non-profit community radio collective based in a storefront in San Francisco’s Mission District. Hosts Val Ibarra and Diamond Dave Whitaker have hosted us before, and previously organized the last debate that happened in San Francisco among primary congressional candidates challenging Pelosi.

That was 4 years ago. I won that debate, and then won the jungle primary in 2020. We're excited to finish the job in 2022 with your support!

Diamond Dave—a poet, organizer, activist and San Francisco icon who mentored Bob Dylan in a previous era—has helped empower my community organizing since 2003. That was the very same year I organized direct action across the Bay Area responding to Bush's invasion of Iraq before volunteering for the inspiring mayoral campaign of Matt Gonzalez, the former President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who went on to run for the White House as a Vice Presidential candidate and continues to serve our city as the Chief Attorney for the SF Public Defender’s Office.

I was thrilled to join both Matt and Dave last night at the invitation of host Val Ibarra. Activists Joan Rivard and Mona Lisa joined us, as well as poets including SF educator E.K. Keith. Click the photo below to listen to Mutiny Radio's "Sounds from the Street" broadcast this Saturday. Our interview begins at 24:25.

From left to right: Matt Gonzalez, Diamond Dave Whitaker, Shahid Buttar

Want to bring our analysis to a wider audience and offer more voters a chance to make better choices? Join us today to help expose the corruption embodied by the leader among House Democrats and force accountability!

One of the themes that Matt Gonzalez raised during our interview was the arbitrary way that political establishments guard themselves by attacking the legitimacy of challengers. He faced the same pattern himself two decades ago that we confront today, recalling how “I didn’t want to wait my whole life for things to change,” and how “repressive ideas remained in place” until “people stood up” to force accountability.

Another part of the interview explored the leaked Supreme Court decision that threatens to overrule Roe v. Wade. Activist Mona Lisa noted how women were formally denied equal rights even before last week's leaked Supreme Court draft opinion, and a pianist & singer visiting from Texas powerfully shared her personal feelings about living in a state poised to deny her rights.

Many voices have responded to the leaked decision as if it were a fait accompli, leaping from outrage to mourning without recognizing potential action opportunities. We’ve noted in other forums how Congress can and should end judicial life tenure in order to force turnover on the bench. That’s a longer-term solution I’d like to take to Congress if San Francisco cares enough about women’s rights to vote for change.

Want a voice in Congress willing to wage hard battles from which others have chosen to shrink? No one in Washington has climbed a steeper hill than the one we’re tackling, and few have mustered the insight to offer equally visionary solutions to structural problems that continue to plague our country.

We also discussed a further suggestion based on the case study of how movement voices reversed the North Carolina "bathroom bill" targeting trans folks in 2016-17.

My suggestion emphasized the opportunity for boycotts by blue states of other states poised to deny the rights of women & girls if Roe gets overturned. Because it threatens commerce and capital—the only things to which Washington responds—it's the kind of approach that could actually force Justices to reconsider their opinions.

Our campaign, and independent media sources filling the gaps left by absentee journalists, are working hard to confront and overcome the corporate corruption of Congress. We recognize that power concedes nothing without a demand, and are happy to build—with your crucial support—an alternative.

Thank you for supporting accountability and fundamental rights!

Your voice,
Shahid

PS -- Want to join us this week? We're inviting supporters to several events coming up, including a protest at Nancy Pelosi's house tomorrow.

  1. Join us tomorrow, Tuesday, May 10 at 5pm, at Broadway & Normandie Terrace to call out Pelosi's hypocrisy in supporting anti-choice Democrats while mouthing support for reproductive rights.
  2. Join us this Wednesday, May 11 at Madrone Art Bar (at Divisadero & Fell in the Lower Haight) from 8-10pm to meet other supporters and learn how you can support our efforts between now and the June 7 jungle primary!
  3. We're also hosting a special event on Sunday, May 22 from 4-6pm featuring music, food, and a presentation about the history of San Francisco's countercultures in an iconic setting. See you there!

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