Good news via Streetsblog: the United States FRA are nearly done revising safety regulations which would allow for operation of high-speed trains in the United States!
A fleet of TGV waiting to serve passengers in Marseilles, France in 2002. These trains have a top speed of 200 MPH. Proposed US safety rules would permit lighter, faster trains that meet European safety standards to run at speeds of up to 220 MPH.
Current US regulations, from the 1800s and the 1930s, mandate heavier trains to survive crashes. Unfortunately, heavy trains cost more to build, operate, and maintain. Heavier trains are also harder to stop in an emergency.
European train safety regulations are comparable to modern cars: lighter trains are cheaper to build and operate, and they stop faster. They feature “crumple zones” to absorb damage in an accident.
Since the United States is a small market for passenger trains, divergent safety standards make it even more expensive to buy trains. Instead of purchasing inexpensive, reliable, “off-the-shelf” European-designed train sets, vendors need to make alternate, heavier, slower, more expensive designs for American railroads. The adoption of European safety standards will make it cheaper and easier for American railroads to provide modern, comfortable, faster passenger service.
In anticipation of these new rules, Amtrak in September announced the purchase of 28 Avelia Liberty trains from the French company Alstom. The trains will be manufactured in upstate New York and will be used for Acela service starting is 2021. These trains can be upgraded to run at 220 MPH, but this will only be allowed after right-of-way upgrades on the Northeast Corridor.
These rules coming at the end of the Obama administration, with promises of infrastructure spending under the Trump administration, could help American rail transport see more rapid improvements in short order.
There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right
And it comes in black and it comes in white
And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it
When nothing is owed or deserved or expected
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it
A few rules of thumb I use in evaluating California ballot propositions:
1) Is it a REVENUE BOND? — Likely YES
2) Is it a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT? — Default NO
3) Endorsed by Jerry Brown? — Likely YES
4) Argument in favor/opposition use LOTS OF CAPITALIZED WORDS AND PHRASES — Those arguments are nutters
5) Wait, why shouldn’t the legislature, &c. be figuring this out?! — Likely NO
This time around I figure condoms, ammunition, and plastic bags are issues Cal/OSHA and the legislature need to figure out.
On October 10, 2016, file 16-0548 was heard by the Sunnyvale Planning Commission. The item was to down-zone a condominium development per the General Plan, and to up-zone a one third acre parcel from Residential Low Density to Residential Low-Medium Density. By up-zoning the site at 838 Azure St, the property owner would be able to build four homes on the property instead of a maximum of two.
The Planning Commission passed the down-zoning proposal but denied the up-zoning at 838 Azure St. I do not believe the decision with regard to 838 Azure was consistent with the public interest of Sunnyvale residents. At a time of housing crisis, we should err on the side of providing more affordable homes for more families, and the location at 838 Azure is well suited to providing housing with minimal impact on congestion.
Current Status and Options
The property presently hosts two dilapidated structures which had recently housed squatters. There are dying trees and contaminated soil from Sunnyvale’s orchard days.
Proposed zoning for 838 Azure St
Present zoning is R0: 7 homes per acre, or 2 per 1/3 acre
Two lots of 7,200 square feet, homes up to 3,240 square feet
Requested zoning is R2: 12 homes per acre, or 4 per 1/3 acre
Four lots of 3,600 square feet, homes up to 1,620 square feet
||3200 sq ft / 5 bed / 3.5 bath
||1600 sq ft / 3 bed / 2.5 bath
The lot in question is about 14,400 square feet, and present zoning allows for up to two houses. At 45% FAR one can build two homes of 3,200 square feet. Comparable homes in the area are typically 5 bedroom, 3.5 baths at $2,400,000. With a 20% down payment of $480,000, a 30 year fixed mortgage at 3.875% with taxes and insurance runs nearly $12,000/mo.
On the other hand, a 1,600 square foot townhouse or condo in this area is typically 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath at $1,000,000. With a 20% down payment, a 30 year fixed mortgage, taxes, insurance runs nearly $5,000/mo.
If we assume that housing is “affordable” at 33% of Gross Income, then the big houses are affordable to a family with $436,000 annual income, and the smaller homes are affordable at $182,000.
See Also: Redfin
See Also: Residential Zoning Standards – City of Sunnyvale
Location: Pedestrian and Transit Quality vs Congestion
Much of Sunnyvale is poorly suited to walking or public transportation. Housing in such areas encourages automobile trips and results in congestion. If you want to increase housing while avoiding congestion, you want to place the housing in areas where walking and public transit are viable options: when people have the option not to drive they are less likely to add congestion.
The average Walk Score in Sunnyvale is 55. For 838 Azure the walk score is 78. The site is well within Sunnyvale’s walkable downtown core, a very close walk to multiple groceries, restaurants, and Murphy St. This pedestrian accessibility does not encourage automobile trips, thus it mitigates congestion.
To avoid congestion, put housing in Sunnyvale’s walkable core: 838 Azure is at the Y of Mathilda and Sunnyvale in the lower right. Source: Sunnyvale Walk Score
The site is very near VTA’s premier bus route: the 22/522 El Camino Real, as well as the 55 and 54 routes for North-South mobility. Within an hour, public transit can get residents across Sunnyvale, including the offices on the North Side, as well as much of Cupertino and Santa Clara. The downtown areas of San Jose, Mountain View, and Palo Alto are accessible. At just over a mile to Sunnyvale Station, the site is not a convenient walk to Caltrain: residents may prefer to bicycle.
Public Comment and Planning Board
Two neighbors spoke against the zoning change. A neighbor who lived in an adjacent townhouse was concerned that the development of townhouses on the neighboring property would not meet his aesthetic standards. A neighbor to the south was concerned that his dogs might get out if the property was developed, and that if the driveway were moved from Sunnyvale-Saratoga to Azure then there would be less street parking available on Azure.
Per the minutes:
Commissioner Melton noted that the benefits of the GPA and Rezone of the Azure site are the PD designation and an increase in housing density, and that the negatives include parking, neighborhood incompatibility and inappropriate density.
Commissioner Simons said he does not like the potential spot zoning of 838 Azure.
MOTION: Commissioner Melton moved and Commissioner Simons seconded the motion to recommend that City Council deny the General Plan Amendment and Rezone for 838 Azure Street.
Vice Chair Rheaume said he is not supporting this motion and supports increasing the density of this lot.
The motion carried by the following vote:
Yes: 4 – Commissioner Melton
No: 1 – Vice Chair Rheaume
Absent: 1 – Chair Harrison
This item should come before the City Council on November 1. Anyone who might wish to speak up on behalf of the virtue of increased housing in Sunnyvale can contact the City Council or make a public comment of up to three minutes at the upcoming council meeting. I am hoping to attend and speak November 1. If you think you might also be interested, or would like to be notified of any updates, please drop me a line: email@example.com.
This item was considered by the Sunnyvale City Council on November 1, 2016. City Council heard testimony from City Staff and the Property Owner. City Council candidate John Cordes and I made public comments in favor of the change. A few neighbors made public comments against the change.
The City Council enacted an ordinance to change the zoning at 838 Azure from R0 to R2-PD. The vote was 6-1, with Council Member Pat Meyering in dissent. Council made it clear that they were only approving the zoning change, in order to provide more housing in an area well-suited to pedestrian, bicycle and public transit. Council was generally most concerned with how the development would transition from the adjacent R2 zones to the rest of the neighborhood, which is among the several considerations which will be addressed subsequently in the planning process.
The Property Owner is now at liberty to submit plans for development, which will be subject to review by the Zoning Administrator, with community feedback, and potentially by the Planning Commission and the City Council.
This year there will be an election for four of the seven seats on the Sunnyvale City Council.
Mapping Out the Council
I found a nice web site that summarizes campaign contributions for the different candidates. As I have only recently taken an interest in the City Council, it helps me paint a crude picture of the council as it exists today. There seems to be a core majority and an independent minority.
Caveat: it has been pointed out to me that my data source is not entirely accurate. Raw data can be obtained directly from the city. Unfortunately, that data is provided in PDF format. If I find a convenient way to parse the data out of those PDF files, I’ll take a crack a re-doing the Financial Backings visualization, below.
Heading up the “Core” are Mayor Glenn Hendricks and Vice Mayor Gustav Larsson, who have each received overwhelmingly large sums from the National Association of Realtors Fund.
Jim Griffith is an Software Engineer who has mainly bankrolled his own campaigns. He is the only second-term member of the council, thus his cumulative financial backing is larger than most members of the council, with the exception of Mayor Hendricks and Vice Mayor Larsson. Jim maintains a blog about city council activities at dweeb.org.
Next are what I would label the “Friends” which includes Larry Klein and Tara Martin-Milius. Klein very recently won a special election held in August after the resignation of Dave Whittum. Neither of these candidates have the volume of donations as Hendricks, Larsson or Griffith, but the Inner Core have made friendly contributions to the Friends. Martin-Milius has received contributions from Hendricks, Larsson, and Griffith while Klein has received contributions from Hendricks and Griffith.
The Inner Core and Friends make up a five-member majority. Council motions are often made and carried with minimal dissent.
Beyond the Core are the two “Independents.” Jim Davis‘ campaign contributions are mainly from non-resident individuals, none from the Core members. He generally votes along with the Core, though he did vote against the Maude Ave bike lane, an issue which I took a special interest in. Pat Meyering‘s campaign is completely self-funded. He often clashes with Mayor Hendricks and other members of the council.
Mapping Out the Election
The Deep Pockets (Hendricks, Larsson, Griffith) are not up for election this year, but everyone else is.
Seat 4: Recently won by Larry Klein, is challenged by John Cordes and Mike McCarthy. Klein, who recently served on the Planning Commission, is backed by a few Business and Real Estate PACS, and several residents, including the Core council members, and Stephen Williams, who ran against him in the special election. John Cordes, who also ran against Klein in the special election, is an environmentalist who serves on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission. He is mainly self-funded, with an even split between resident and non-resident contributions, and a single PAC donation from the California League of Conservation Voters. Mike McCarthy is entirely self-funded.
Seat 5: Incumbent Pat Meyering is solely self-funded, and I could not find a campaign web site. He is challenged by Russell Melton, who has served several terms on the Planning Commission, and has the support of several developers, the Core council members, and numerous individuals. Melton also managed Mayor Hendricks’ successful 2013 City Council campaign.
Seat 6: Incumbent Jim Davis is a former Public Safety Officer who has served many government and community organizations. He is funded mainly by non-resident individuals. Challenger Nancy Smith has chaired the Santa Clara County Water District Environmental and Water Resources Committee, and is funded by several residents and non-residents.
Seat 7: Incumbent Tara Martin-Milius is funded in the main by several individuals, including Core council members, along with business and real estate contributions. She is challenged by unfunded Ron Banks and self-funded Michael Goldman.
Visualizing the Council and the Election
In an attempt at objectivity, I have compiled the following table to provide a quick reference to in understanding the Council and the election. I welcome feedback, especially factual corrections.
|Seat ||Name ||Financial Backing ||Background ||Web Site ||Video Statement |
|Seat 1 ||Gustav Larsson || ███ ███ ████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ████ ████ █████ █ ███████ ||Engineer at Ciena
|| █ ███ ███ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ █████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██ ████ █████████ █████ ████ ██████████ ████
||Manager at PayPal
|| ██ ██████ ███████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ ████████ ██████ ██████████ ██ █████ █ ██████████ ██████
||Software Engineer at Apple
Numerous Government Activities
|| █ ████████ ███ ███████ ██
||Staff Engineer at Qnovo
|| ██████████ █ ██ █
Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission
||CEO at Green Galaxy Homes
Plaza Del Rey Residents Association
|| ██ █ ██████████ ██████████ ██████████ █████ ███ ██ █████████ █
|| █ ███ █ ████████
||Sunnyvale Public Safety Officer
Numerous Government Activities
|| █ ██████ ██████████ █████ ██████████
||Program Manager at NVIDIA
Santa Clara County Water District Environmental and Water Resources Committee
|| ██ ████████ █████ █ ██████████ ████ ██████████ ██████
||Teacher, UCSC Extension in Silicon Valley
San Miguel Neighbors Association
Financial Backing Key
██████████ represents $10,000
█ represents $1,000
█ Business PAC
█ Real Estate PAC
█ Elected Official PAC
█ Political Party
█ Political Committee
█ Environmental PAC
█ Social Issues PAC
█ Union PAC
Source: http://www.specialinterestwatch.org/, cumulative contributions through June 30, 2016
A rant posted on a colleague’s Facebook wall in reaction to the New York Times:
I read The New Yorker too much when I had free time and the gist of it was: Earth’s climate is usually pretty erratic, but after the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, the climate entered an unusually stable phase. At that point, our species, after 200,000 years, for some reason, mastered agriculture and civilization, and that civilization has disrupted this stable phase and we are moving back into unstable climate patterns. Whether the world civilization can continue without the original agricultural lynch pin of a stable climate is a question which will be answered within our lifetimes.
Earth’s Average temperature. Our species emerged around the 200 mark, agriculture and civilization start at around 11 where you see that flat red line, which ends .. now.
CC: Glen Fergus
I had mixed feeling watching the Democratic National Convention because on the one hand they acknowledge that Climate Change is a Real Thing and we Ought to Do Something but then they kept reassuring us that it was just one of those kind of good things to do for future generations and not actually some kind of imminent shitfest that is going to be a bigger and bigger problem every year for the forseeable future, not to mention that we’ve already pretty much screwed the pooch anyway by ignoring the issue so we get to deal with it anyway but will still need to address climate emissions to keep it from going from pretty awful to worst case scenario.
Flash Flood in Australia
CC: Nick Carson
It starts with floods and droughts, then crop failures, famine, mass migration, political turmoil, fascism … talking about sea level is burying the lead.
And like what that means is maybe or maybe not the Democrats have their hearts in the right place but the messaging is just as focus-grouped and they’re nearly as averse to disturbing the status quo. “Okay, so, your likely voters believe climate change is a big deal, but most of them would be reluctant to do anything about it, so you’ve got to acknowledge the problem without making anyone feel threatened.” And over on the right its like “Well, Climate Denial excites the base of excitable racist lunatics AND it pretty much guarantees PAC money from the oil companies so any time they ask you say that yeah, there is a climate change but that is in Jesus’ hands.”
See Also: http://xkcd.com/1732/ — a cartoon illustrating human history versus the temperature record depicted in the final panel.
A “challenge” posted to Facebook:
A moment of thought and I realized the challenge was easy, and heartening. This speech has been given before:
“Hillary Clinton understands that we must fix an economy in America that is rigged and that sends almost all new wealth and income to the top one percent. Hillary Clinton understands that if someone in America works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty.
She believes that we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage. And she wants to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. – our roads, bridges, water systems and wastewater plants.
This election is about which candidate will nominate Supreme Court justices who are prepared to overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision which allows billionaires to buy elections and undermine our democracy; about who will appoint new justices on the Supreme Court who will defend a woman’s right to choose, the rights of the LGBT community, workers’ rights, the needs of minorities and immigrants, and the government’s ability to protect the environment.
This campaign is about moving the United States toward universal health care and reducing the number of people who are uninsured or under-insured. Hillary Clinton wants to see that all Americans have the right to choose a public option in their health care exchange, which will lower the cost of health care.
She also believes that anyone 55 years or older should be able to opt in to Medicare and she wants to see millions more Americans gain access to primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs through a major expansion of community health centers throughout this country.
Hillary is committed to seeing thousands of young doctors, nurses, psychologists, dentists and other medical professionals practice in underserved areas as we follow through on President Obama’s idea of tripling funding for the National Health Service Corps.
In New Hampshire, in Vermont and across the country we have a major epidemic of opiate and heroin addiction. People are dying every day from overdoses. Hillary Clinton understands that if we are serious about addressing this crisis we need major changes in the way we deliver mental health treatment. That’s what expanding community health centers will do and that is what getting medical personnel into the areas we need them most will do.
Hillary Clinton also understands that millions of seniors, disabled vets and others are struggling with the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs. She and I are in agreement that Medicare must negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry and that we must expand the use of generic medicine.
Drug companies should not be making billions in profits while one in five Americans are unable to afford the medicine they need. The greed of the drug companies must end.
This election is about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that currently exists, the worst it has been since 1928. Hillary Clinton knows that something is very wrong when the very rich become richer while many others are working longer hours for lower wages.
She knows that it is absurd that middle-class Americans are paying an effective tax rate higher than hedge fund millionaires, and that there are corporations in this country making billions in profit while they pay no federal income taxes in a given year because of loopholes their lobbyists created.
This election is about the thousands of young people I have met who have left college deeply in debt, the many others who cannot afford to go to college and the need for this country to have the best educated workforce in the world if we are to compete effectively in a highly competitive global economy.
Hillary Clinton believes that we must substantially lower student debt, and that we must make public colleges and universities tuition free for the middle class and working families of this country. This is a major initiative that will revolutionize higher education in this country and improve the lives of millions.
Think of what it will mean when every child in this country, regardless of the income of their family, knows that if they study hard and do well in school – yes, they will be able to get a college education and leave school without debt.
This election is about climate change, the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet, and the need to leave this world in a way that is healthy and habitable for our kids and future generations. Hillary Clinton is listening to the scientists who tell us that if we do not act boldly in the very near future there will be more drought, more floods, more acidification of the oceans, more rising sea levels.
She understands that we must work with countries around the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy – and that when we do that we can create a whole lot of good paying jobs.
This election is about the leadership we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform and repair a broken criminal justice system. It’s about making sure that young people in this country are in good schools or at good jobs, not in jail cells. Secretary Clinton understands that we don’t need to have more people in jail than any other country on earth, at an expense of $80 billion a year.”
All I did was remove the few paragraphs where the T-word was mentioned.
In 2006, Sunnyvale applied for funding to add bicycle lanes on Maude Ave from Mathilda to Fair Oaks.
Maude is a two-lane road with a center turn lane. It serves as a main thoroughfare for the immediate neighborhood: residential, commercial, and Bishop Elementary. It also serves through traffic. It is very congested at peak. In the past three years there have been a few dozen accidents: mainly between vehicles, 3 involving pedestrians, 1 involving a cyclist.
W Maude Ave: filling in a gap in Sunnyvale’s bicycle network
In March 2016, a community meeting was held at Bishop school. Three main alternatives were proposed:
Option 1: remove parking along Maude, replace it with 5′ bike lanes with 3′ buffers
Option 2: retain parking, remove left-turn lanes, add bicycle lanes between driving and parking lanes
Option 3: do nothing except add some signs and paint sharrows on the street
At the community meeting, many residents from the SNAIL neighborhood to the North took turns berating the city for any number of reasons. There was a lot of upset that Maude is already congested and that people might park in front of their homes. There was a “voting” board and the community poll came out something like:
Option 1: 35%
Option 2: 15%
Option 3: 50%
Sunnyvale Staff recommend Option 1: improve bicycle infrastructure but avoid increased congestion.
On April 21, 2016, the Sunnyvale Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) reviewed the proposal. Some observations from BPAC:
Further detail desired regarding the causes of vehicle collisions along the corridor — details were not included in the present study.
Project should extend the last half block between Fair Oaks and Wolfe Road — staff remarked that this was an oversight on the original grant request, but that this could be included for future improvement projects to the bicycle infrastructure on Fair Oaks or Wolfe.
Drivers might park in buffered lanes.
If left turn lanes are removed, drivers might use the bicycle lane to pass vehicles waiting for turn.
Maude has many driveways, and it is safer for bicyclists further from the curb, where they are more visible to drivers utilizing driveways.
Traffic impact analysis will be performed subsequent to the city selecting a preferred alternative, thus no traffic impact studies have been performed to distinguish the current proposals.
1 mile between Mathilda and Fair Oaks
1 grammar school
3 pedestrian crosswalks
I spoke first. I live adjacent to Bishop school:
I remarked on the lack of pedestrian crosswalks, asked the City to look at adding more as part of the project.
I noted the advantages of using the parking as a buffer lane for cyclists: route bike lanes at the curb.
I thanked BPAC for noting the desirability of an extension to Wolfe.
One gentleman who used to live in the neighborhood spoke in support of bike lanes.
One gentlemen from SNAIL explained his opposition to bike lanes, due to present low bicycle traffic.
One lady from Lowlanders spoke in support of a bike lane:
Leaning toward Option 2
Asked if there had been any Spanish-language outreach, as this is the population occupying the rental housing and attending Bishop who would be most impacted by the project, especially removal of parking.
BPAC made a motion to:
Support Option 1, per staff recommendation
Request 6′ bicycle lanes with 2′ buffer
Request project extension to Wolfe Road
Request inclusion of additional crosswalks
The motion passed with two dissenting votes. The chair, who lives on Murphy, stated his objections:
Removal of parking would adversely impact the neighborhood
Removal of left turn lanes would inconvenience drivers, and thereby discourage through traffic
City Council will review the plan May 17, 2016.
I finally caught a Democratic Debate last night, thanks to a gracious wife who helped our son to bed. I’m a Sanders guy, I send him $25/mo. I recently read that he’s the only candidate who pays his interns, which I like for several reasons: economic opportunity for young folks, which our country needs, and my hunch is that someone getting the opportunity to earn a paycheck is going to have a little more earnestness than a more privileged kid who is taking the job to build a resume. Even more, it puts a price on one’s commitment: time is at a premium for me, but my $25/mo should cover two hours of intern labor. I feel a connection …
At the debate, I was a little disappointed in Bernie. Ask him a question, ask for details, and he’d pivot to any one of several talking points about how we need to regulate the banks, shut down the prisons, hand out tuition … he is an idealist but he is still a politician.
Oh no wait that was an earlier debate. Here’s my summary:
Hillary, I like her fine enough. She had to go ahead and congratulate herself for being in the Situation Room to get Osama killed. Who wouldn’t brag about that one? Then near the end she tried to paint Bernie as a guy who is all busy hating on Obama. Bernie had a good retort that is was Hillary who ran against him in 2008.
The weirdest part was when Bernie started going off about Henry Kissinger. The gist of it is that the man is a war criminal and pals with Clinton. Maybe he could goad her into defending a war criminal? She handled that deftly: she’ll take advice from anyone. I’m no Kissinger fan but that was one of several times when Bernie’s focus seemed more on the mid-20th century than the present day. I appreciate historical perspective, but I worry about the guy coming off as stuck in the past.
I found a good explanation on the Kissinger thing here at “The Intercept”. The gist of it is that yes, Kissinger is an impressively heinous character and a friend of Hillary Clinton, and that there is a larger issue, that Left or Right, there’s a little cabal of hawkish Neocon-leaning foreign policy advisors that make up the Washington Foreign Policy Establishment. Bernie has been dinged for not articulating his vision for foreign policy, but when he lights up on Kissinger, he’s using Kissinger as the bellwether poster child for the Foreign Policy Establishment. He’s essentially saying what he says on a lot of stuff: we can do better.
Dr Henry Kissinger
For what it is worth, here’s what Google responds to the query sanders foreign policy:
The test of a great and powerful nation is not how many wars it can engage in, but how it can resolve international conflicts in a peaceful manner. I will move away from a policy of unilateral military action and regime change, and toward a policy of emphasizing diplomacy, and ensuring the decision to go to war is a last resort.
“Diplomacy. Less war.”
Huh. How about clinton foreign policy:
As secretary of state, I worked to restore America’s leadership in the world. As president, defending our values and keeping us safe will be my top priority. That includes maintaining a cutting-edge military, strengthening our alliances, cultivating new partners, standing up to aggressors, defeating ISIS, and enforcing the Iran nuclear agreement.
“Keep us safe! More military! Defeat ISIS and watch our for Iran!”
Can I get some establishment consensus? Maybe jeb foreign policy:
Obama’s disengagement has contributed to growing threats to our national security, including radical Islamic terrorism, Iranian aggression, an emboldened Putin, and an assertive China. Adversaries do not fear us and allies do not trust us. I will rebuild America’s military, restore our credibility and leadership, and repair our broken alliances.
“Muslims! Iran! Russia! China! More military!”
It would seem that this isn’t about Bernie being stuck in the 20th Century. Bernie’s beef is that Washington is stuck in the late 20th Century. The same advice that got us in bed with the Shah of Iran, that stoked the revolution there, is the same advice that got us mired in Vietnam and armed Al Qaeda, is the same advice that later got us mired in Iraq, and it is this same advice that is likely to bite us in the future.
I think one could debate the merits of interventionism versus the blowback and unintended consequences. Okay, Kissinger is a bad guy: I get it. Bernie, what should we do different and how do you honestly figure it will play out? Americans are not naturally fond of interventionism, but it seems to have worked well enough for us most days. Most days, it is foreigners who pay the price. Foreigners … and our soldiers. In Vietnam it was The Draft and it seems that everyone in my parents’ generation carries some subtle emotional scar from that. Foreigners, soldiers, conscripts … on 9/11 it was office workers, police and firefighters. But we don’t talk about 9/11 as blowback for interventionism.
I don’t know the specifics, but one has to figure there could be some better ideas about how a powerful nation can lead the world toward the better, while shedding less blood. I click back to Google, and scroll through statement after statement from Sanders that sounds sane, rational and level-headed to me. A pastiche:
Indeed, Sanders said, “I supported the use of force in Afghanistan to hunt down the terrorists who attacked us.”
Sanders said the war with the terror organization, which released videos this week that threatened attacks in Washington and New York, “must be done primarily by Muslim nations with the strong support of their global partners.”
“The war against ISIS, a brutal and dangerous organization, cannot be won unless the Muslim nations which are most threatened — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Iran and Jordan — become fully engaged, including the use of ground troops,” Sanders said.
“It must be destroyed not just by the United States of America alone. In many respects, what ISIS wants is a clash of civilizations,” Sanders said.
“With the third largest military budget in the world and an army far larger than ISIS, the Saudi government must accept its full responsibility for stability in their own region of the world,” he added
But, Sanders added: “I oppose, at this point, a unilateral American no-fly zone in Syria, which could get us more deeply involved in that horrible civil war and lead to a never-ending U.S. entanglement in that region.”
“I fear very much that supporting questionable groups in Syria who will be outnumbered and outgunned by both ISIS and the Assad regime could open the door to the United States once again being dragged back into the quagmire of long-term military engagement,” he said.
In a later tweet, Sanders insisted, “We will not destroy ISIS by undermining the Constitution and our religious freedoms.”
From what I can see, Bernie articulates what sounds to me some reasonable ideas about foreign policy. Nations have to take care of their own regional problems. We should help out. But we can’t win what isn’t really our fight.
What does Clinton have on offer?
To support troops from Iraq and around the region, the U.S. should “immediately deploy the special operations force President Obama has already authorized and be prepared to deploy more as more Syrians get into the fight,” Clinton said.
On ABC, Clinton said: “We have to fight in the air, fight on the ground and fight them on the Internet. We have to do everything we can with our friends and partners around the world. That’s what we’ll hear from the president, to intensify the current strategy.”
Yet Clinton cynically told corporate executives at a 2011 State Department roundtable on investment opportunities in Iraq, “It’s time for the United States to start thinking of Iraq as a business opportunity.”
Oh Google, your algorithms seem to have a Socialist bias. At any rate, I feel better about where my sympathies lie.
I was watching Larry Wilmore and the panel asked itself why are young liberals not excited about Hillary Clinton, and they jumped straight to the thesis that the cause is sexism. I know that there is no shortage of hatred against Hillary rooted in sexism, but for young liberals, I don’t think that this is what is turning them on to Sanders. I think that if there is a prejudice at play, it is against going back to the past.
Many of us who can remember the 90s remember it as a pretty good time, (as long as you weren’t big on equal rights for gays) especially in contrast to the George W years. Sure, the Republicans hated everything about the Democratic president but at least that could be rationalized by his obvious moral shortcoming. Younger liberals don’t remember those years. They came of age under a president whose political credentials were rooted entirely in his relationship to a 90s president. That was a train wreck. Eight years ago, we considered Hillary Clinton but decided that whatever nostalgia we felt for the 90s was trumped by an inexperienced Black Guy with a funny name. Say what? Its like progressives were less than eager to embrace the past.
And you see how that works out. Like Clinton, the Right hates Obama. Alas, Obama’s greatest moral failing is that he enjoys an occasional cigarette, so the Right is left to invent moral failings: he’s Muslim! he’s foreign! he’s Socialist! He’s … whatever … meanwhile the Left is trying to figure out the degree to which the Right hates Obama because they’re just plain old racist or do they simply hate any Democratic President?
Anyway, you look at your options: Hillary would be a perfectly competent President, like Bill was. Sure, the Right will hate her but she’s been dealing with that bullshit longer than most of us have been alive. That she hasn’t been crushed by hate and still seems somewhat human is a testament to her strength of character, and sheer, pragmatic, calculating ambition and political savvy. She’ll know how to work a hostile Congress to eek out incremental progress, much as Obama has.
Or, if they’re going to hate your president anyway, why settle for a pragmatic, shrewd centrist who will eek out incremental progress when you could just vote your Socialist ideals and send the Right wing our own tough New Yorker who says out loud what we’re all thinking anyway: that the banks are too big, that the rich get away with murder, and that Socialism is not an evil bogey man that will hand victory to the USSR.
And … I for one remember the 1990s … I don’t remember Clinton actually achieving anything. Healthcare reform went down in flames. Gays could be allowed in the military as long as they kept it in the closet. We deregulated the banks while sticking the evil Welfare Moms with red tape. We really didn’t move the ball forward much … if at all. When we later swooned for Barack “Hope and Dreams” Obama, we got some health care reform, women now serve in combat, and gay people can get married in all fifty states. Sure, we haven’t closed Guantanamo Bay, and there are still some troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Osama bin Laden is dead and we aren’t fighting any new wars. Not bad for voting for the unlikely young guy who had more rhetoric and possibility to offer than the Clinton option.
So, yeah, when it comes down to another Clinton administration versus taking a chance on Idealism, a lot of us figure voting for an Angry Old Brooklyn Jewish Socialist could be the better option.
Yesterday, on Martin Luther King Junior Day, a national holiday, Black Lives Matter protesters briefly shut down the San Francisco Bay Bridge in one direction. I smiled at that. A traffic snarl on a holiday commemorating a great activist caused by today’s ambitious activists: what is not to love?
But today on the drive in they were discussing it on Forum and people kept calling in to complain about how yeah sure they support black people and they think it is okay to protest but not, heck forbid, if it is disruptive. “Who do these people think they are? They’re not going to win me over with tactics like that!”
“Hooray for Our Side”
Dan Brekke, also of KQED, posted a piece with some historical perspective, and recounted how his Uncle Bill Hogan, once a Catholic Priest, had participated in a very similar protest in Chicago, blocking a highway into the city, on a Tuesday, May 9, 1972. He remarked that the Vietnam War ultimately ended, but that the protest in question was only one of very very many.
I got to thinking of the first time I ever engaged in a protest. Just a few days over twenty five years ago, on January 16, 1991. To quote an article by Charles Leroux in The Chicago Tribune:
“Cara Brigandi, 16, a junior at Lincoln Park High School, said she led a movement of Lincoln Park students to walk out of school and protest. Organizers gave students their marching orders when they came to school Tuesday morning. Fliers were passed out urging students to leave classes about 10 a.m. That effort mushroomed into a march down North Avenue to Lake Shore Drive and then to the Loop. Along the way, Lincoln Park students say they picked up students from the Latin School of Chicago, and William Jones Metropolitan High School. By about 12:30, approximately 200 students were in front of City Hall.”
I remember getting the flyer at the school door. I remember that moment when the time came and every student had to ask themselves whether they were going to stick with class or step outside. I remember looking out the window to see a growing crowd inviting us to join them and then the moment I decided to join other teenage kids running down the stairs to break a first taboo. After some cheering and whatnot, the crowd headed down the street. The cops managed to break the crowd in two, with the folks in the back returning to school. Those of us toward the front were soon walking through a Chicago winter day down a highway on-ramp and on to Lake Shore Drive: two lanes of students, one more lane of police cars, buffering us, and another lane of mid-morning traffic squeezing by, many cheering us on.
“Hell no, we won’t go,” the protesters chanted. And: “One, two, three, four, we don’t want your (bleeping) war. Five, six, seven, eight, we will not cooperate.” Among the crowd were many non-students who had protested the Vietnam War. With that war, “it took years before there was this kind of protest,” said Lester McNeely, 37, of Oak Park, a member of the West Side Peace Coalition.
The next day, we started to bomb Iraq.
Back to the present day … Dan Brekke suggests that one objective of protest is to get people arguing, and a comment on the Forum discussion cites Dr King himself:
I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”
Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
I’ve come a long way from being a chanting high school kid walking down LSD … I own a house in the suburbs!? I guess I’m in a place where I can suggest to others of my social class that there is a time for order, but there is also a time for action, however messy, disorganized, inchoate, and perhaps even self-defeating.
If it is Martin Luther King Day, and your trip across the Bay Bridge from the Chocolate City of Oakland into the Liberal Mecca of San Francisco gets delayed by people who are angry about cops murdering black kids, well, I would suggest that whether you agree with the protest or not, this is a perfect time to roll down the window, raise your fist in the air, and express your opinion.
Sometimes an image is worth far more than a mere thousand words.
Even the milquetoast is calling him out:
How do you triumph against an oppressor who has an overwhelming advantage in terms of firepower? If you are Mahatma Gandi, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, or Ukrainian Colonel Yuri Mamchur, you practice non-violent direct action. I hope that Ukraine may yet share in the triumph of this strategy.
Colonel Yuri Mamchur, Hero of Belbek, UA
I will tell the story from Simon Shuster’s Twitter stream:
UPDATE: Very Good Summary on Buzzfeed
Commander of Ukraine’s Belbek base just got a call from Russian counterpart. Another ultimatum: surrender by 16:00. This is the 3rd one
Incredible. Half the Ukraine troops from Belbek base now marching to airstrip occupied by Russians. Unarmed. To take it back.
The column of troops, carrying the Ukraine and Soviet (!) flags, about to march on the Russian occupied airstrip. pic.twitter.com/prR9rfP7Fp
Ukraine column has reached Russian checkpoint. Russians begin firing in the air. Ukrainians keep marching
Russians call commander to negotiate. Troops have RPGs and machine guns trained on the column of unarmed Ukrainian soldiers. Belbek, Crimea
Russians back down, allow 10 Ukraine soldiers to take up positions at occupied base, but still awaiting orders from Moscow
Face off between Ukraine base commander Col. Yuli Manchur and Russian officer at occupied Belbek airbase pic.twitter.com/6N10wuezef
The Ukraine commanders just received word that Putin ordered the Russian troops to withdraw. Is that true?
Officer who shot in air as Ukraine column marched up to him said he was on the Maidan fighting ‘fascists’ with a stick. Presumably Berkut
The red flag the Ukrainians marched with is the banner of the fighter pilots who fought Nazis in 1941 and guarded the Yalta Conference
Ukraine Colonel still negotiating, Russian snipers & RPGs still aiming at column of soldiers. But deescalation is clear, at least in Belbek
Personnel carrier just arrived, disgorging armed Russian troops at checkpoint. Ukraine commander just finished negotiating.
Ukraine commander demands to guard the base jointly with Russians, who pledge to give their commanders’ response by 12:00, in 2 hours
Russian military truck just brought a handful of (probably Russian) news crews to the Belbek standoff. They’re now filming from Russian side
Ukraine’s 204th tactical aviation brigade when they just arrived to face down the Russians in Belbek: pic.twitter.com/Zz91TuJHXf
Marching along with the Ukraine brigade were the wives of four of the officers, all standing surrounded by Russian snipers at Belbek
Phone battery dying. Read @Time a bit later for the hair-raising conclusion of the ballsiest move of the Crimean conflict so far. #Belbek
I first read of the story via ABC News. I think this is an excellent strategy to employ against the Russian occupation. Putin claims the Russians are there to defend against violent acts. It would appear that the Ukrainian Military are Not the Problem here. I hope this tactic is employed further by Ukraine’s soldiers and its people, and I wish to see them succeed. Mamchur and his soldiers are heros of humanity.
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