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Perata, Lee peeved by immigration enforcement

Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were on the move in the East Bay earlier today. From our story:

OAKLAND — Ongoing enforcement tactics by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel caused panic to erupt at several East Bay school districts Tuesday, although ICE officials said that many of the rumors that swirled among parents and school staff were false or overblown.

“This whole experience is so terrifying that it really brought out the greatest fear in everybody,” said Mark Coplan, a spokesman for the Berkeley Unified School District, where the schools superintendent issued a recorded phone message to parents Tuesday promising that he “will not allow any child to be taken away from the school.”

Some of the rumors — for example, that Berkeley middle school students were being carted off in vans — turned out to be false. But others — for example, that ICE agents were conducting surveillance near an East Oakland elementary school — were true and prompted Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and others to rally outside the school in protest.

“We were not at a school,” ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said. “We were at residences. There may be a situation where a residence is near to a school.”

Local elected officials are seriously peeved.

“I find today’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement presence at our schools reprehensible. The Bush Administration espouses the virtues of No Child Left Behind and yet they provide no funding. If the President wants to help our nation’s children he should send funding — not federal agents to our schools,” said state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland. “It is clear that ICE raids jeopardize the stability of our communities and families. There should be an immediate freeze on ICE raids directed at school children while legislation aiming to fix immigration is considered.”

And Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said she’s “deeply troubled and concerned about the tactics employed by ICE. Conducting an operation of this nature in Oakland is a direct violation of the spirit of the city’s sanctuary resolution.”

“Although ICE officials assured my district office that they did not physically enter public school property, the presence of the ICE van near or parked in front of the Esperanza Academy and Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy is of grave concern to me,” Lee said. “In an effort to address the controversial tactics that have been used by ICE, my district office has been in contact with them to convey my concerns. I will be working with my colleagues to oppose the use of this troubling approach, and I am personally committed to reviewing any ICE policies that may create a culture of fear and intimidation, especially near a school or place of worship.

“To conduct such an operation near or around a public school campus is a violation of the sanctity of the education process, and is intentionally meant to intimidate those who live in the community,” Lee continued. “I do not support these intimidation policies and I am planning a district outreach event in the future to hear directly from my constituents about their experiences with agency officials.”

Posted on Tuesday, May 6th, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, Berkeley, California State Senate, Don Perata, Immigration, Oakland, Ron Dellums, U.S. House | No Comments »

Lakoff’s Rockridge Institute is shutting down

(Hat tip to Frank Russo’s California Progress Report.)

The Rockridge Institute, a Berkeley-based progressive political language think tank co-founded by noted linguist George Lakoff, is shutting its doors. From its Web site:

The Rockridge Institute was formed to address a set of challenges: The right-wing think tanks, after spending 35 years and 4 billion dollars, had come to dominate public debate. They had done this by framing Big Ideas their way: the nature of government, the market, taxation, security, morality, responsibility, accountability, character, nature, even life. This allowed them to then frame lower-level issues, special cases like terrorism, Iraq, education, health care, retirement, stem-cell research, the death penalty, affirmative action, and on and on.

Our challenge was to figure out exactly how they had achieved such dominance over the minds of Americans and what progressives could do—not just how to respond case by special case, but how to do the Big Job: to reframe the Big Ideas governing our politics.


[W]e have not done the Big Job, not even close. The conservatives’ Big Ideas about government, taxes, security, the market, and the rest still dominate political discourse. Democrats in Congress still cringe at attacks based on these Big Ideas, and many have been intimidated into voting for conservative policies—on funding for Iraq, on government spying without a warrant, on taxes, on bankruptcy, and on and on. The Big Idea intimidation is still working. Changing that is the Big Job.

We at Rockridge have used the physical think tank form to get us this far. We’ve made important advances in understanding and articulating political cognition. We have done more in-depth studies than most people have the time to read, and we know what has to be done to tackle the Big Job. But we also realize that no small non-profit think tank can do significantly more of the Big Job than we have already done. That will take a large-scale, well-funded progressive cognitive infrastructure.

In the end, they just couldn’t raise the funds to continue; they’re shutting down as of April 30.

Posted on Monday, April 21st, 2008
Under: Berkeley, General | No Comments »

Hot upcoming political events

We’ve got several hot political events coming up in the Bay Area, starting tonight:


  • Cal’s Institute of Governmental Studies and the UC Berkeley Extension tonight, Thursday, April 10, are sponsoring their “Annual Review of the Presidency: Looking Back at the Bush Administration,” at 7:30 p.m. in 155 Dwinelle Hall on the Cal campus. Assessing the president’s leadership and legacy will be Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign but now among the president’s critics; David M. Kennedy, Stanford University’s Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945;” Lynn Sweet, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Washington bureau chief; and Byron York, the National Review’s White House correspondent and author of “The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of the Democrats’ Desperate Fight to Reclaim Power.” This event is free and open to the public.
  • gonzalez1.jpg

  • Tomorrow night, Friday, April 11, independent vice-presidential candidate and former San Francisco Supervisor Matt GonzalezRalph Nader‘s running mate — will speak at 7 p.m. in Berkeley City College‘s auditorium, 2050 Center St. He’s keynoting the opening night of “Changing Climates, Class, Culture, and Politics in an Era of Global Warming,” a three-day conference highlighting the challenges, conflicts, and politics of climate change in California, with journalists, scholars, and activists on hand to discuss green-collar jobs, the media’s coverage of climate issues, the environmental impacts of California ports, and the effects of water policy on Native American tribes in Northern California. Hosted by the California Studies Association, the conference is free and open to the public, although there’s a suggested donation of $35 for the three days ($10 for students and low-income attendees).
  • huffington.jpg

  • Looking further ahead, the Commonwealth Club of California announced yesterday that it’s serving up a whopping political double-header on Monday, May 19. First, Arianna Huffington — co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post — will be touting her new book, “Right is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution and Made Us All Less Safe” at the Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St. in San Francisco. The program is at noon, book-signing at 1 p.m.; it’s $15 for clulb members, $30 for nonmembers, with tickets available online. mary-tillman.jpgThen, the same day, San Jose’s own Mary Tillman — mother of pro football star turned slain Army Ranger Pat Tillman — will “chronicle her family’s harrowing journey through the maze of bureaucracy, red tape and cover-ups to learn the true circumstances of Pat’s death. She will also recount memories of him as a loving son, brother, husband, friend and teammate.” There’s a 5:30 p.m. wine-and-cheese reception before the 6 p.m. program, both at the club’s offices on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco; it’s free for club members, $18 for nonmembers, with tickets available online.
  • Posted on Thursday, April 10th, 2008
    Under: Afghanistan, Berkeley, Elections, General, Global warming, Ralph Nader | No Comments »

    This week in Bay Area ruckuses

    PLENTY of opportunities to vent this week.

    chertoff.jpgU.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff will speak on cyber security to the 2008 RSA Conference, a big gathering of information security professionals, at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, April 8, at the Moscone Center, 747 Howard St. in San Francisco. Ordinarily I’d say this would be the Bay Area’s “event most likely to be protested” for the week, particularly given Chertoff’s recent decision to issue waivers bypassing the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and other environmental protections for construction of the U.S.-Mexico border fence — thereby angering environmental activists AND immigration activists in one fell swoop.

    olympic-torch-protest-in-paris.jpgBut this is a special week, of course: The Olympic torch will be carried through San Francisco this Wednesday, April 9, starting at McCovey Cove at 1 p.m. and following a six-mile route mostly along the Embarcadero, looping through North Beach and returning to finish at Justin Herman Plaza at about 3:30 p.m. The big protest against China’s human-rights abuses in Tibet will coalesce at about 10 a.m. in Ferry Park, between Washington and Clay streets off Drumm.

    lightbrownapplemoth.jpgStill have something to get off your chest? East Bay Pesticide Alert is sponsoring a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 10, in the Ecology Center at 2530 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley to discuss the California Department of Food and Agriculture‘s plan to do aerial pesticide spraying of the East Bay from Crockett down to the Oakland/San Leandro border, as well as San Francisco and southeastern Marin county, starting Aug. 1 to eradicate the light brown apple moth.

    Posted on Monday, April 7th, 2008
    Under: Berkeley, Homeland security, Immigration | No Comments »

    ‘Berkeley Businesses for Peace’

    Berkeley business owners including Anna De Leon of Anna’s Jazz Island; Carolyn Gravely of the Global Exchange Store; Paul Chin of La Pena Cultural Center; Andrea Ali of Guerilla Café; and Russell Bass of Café de la Paz are holding a news conference tomorrow, Thursday, April 3, to launch a new association called Berkeley Businesses for Peace.

    In a news release, they say they intend to “support the city’s mandate to resolve disputes through diplomacy, not war. With national attacks on Berkeley, including by pro-war forces calling for a boycott of the city, businesses are coming together to reaffirm their pride in Berkeley as a City for Peace. The association is being launched by over 30 businesses, ranging from restaurants and cafes to book stores and copy centers.”

    The antiwar groups which have caused a national ruckus by protesting the city’s U.S. Marine Corps recruiting center in recent months are behind this. Noticing that the group’s new Web site displays in Internet Explorer as “CODEPINK:,” I checked the site’s registration — it’s registered to CODEPINK cofounder Jodie Evans of Venice, Calif. And the news release was sent out by a staffer at Global Exchange, the human-rights watchdog agency cofounded by CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin.

    The release says association members will be listed on the Web site, receive window decals, and be included in special “Buy Berkeley” days plus a “Summer of Hope festival” that will take place in Berkeley this July.

    Guerilla Cafe’s Ali said she was born and raised in Berkeley, “and I have always been proud that Berkeley is on the forefront of progressive change from recycling to opposition to war. Also, my father was born in Iraq and I have many family members there, so I have a very personal reason to want to see an end to the war.”

    Said the Global Exchange store’s Gravely: “I think peace starts from within, both personally and within the local community. So we, as businesses, need to come together to strengthen our community and then spread our model to the rest of country.”

    Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008
    Under: Berkeley | No Comments »

    Fourth Amendment pliable for Yoo… and you too

    yoo.jpgApparently a Berkeley law professor has a pretty radical interpretation of our constitutional right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure: It doesn’t apply to domestic military operations.

    From today’s Washington Post:

    The Justice Department sent a legal memorandum to the Pentagon in 2003 asserting that federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators who questioned al-Qaeda captives because the president’s ultimate authority as commander in chief overrode such statutes.

    The 81-page memo, which was declassified and released publicly yesterday, argues that poking, slapping or shoving detainees would not give rise to criminal liability. The document also appears to defend the use of mind-altering drugs that do not produce “an extreme effect” calculated to “cause a profound disruption of the senses or personality.”

    Although the existence of the memo has long been known, its contents had not been previously disclosed.

    Nine months after it was issued, Justice Department officials told the Defense Department to stop relying on it. But its reasoning provided the legal foundation for the Defense Department’s use of aggressive interrogation practices at a crucial time, as captives poured into military jails from Afghanistan and U.S. forces prepared to invade Iraq.

    Sent to the Pentagon’s general counsel on March 14, 2003, by John C. Yoo, then a deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the memo provides an expansive argument for nearly unfettered presidential power in a time of war. It contends that numerous laws and treaties forbidding torture or cruel treatment should not apply to U.S. interrogations in foreign lands because of the president’s inherent wartime powers.

    “If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network,” Yoo wrote. “In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch’s constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.”

    John Yoo, of course, is now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. He already has taken a lot of heat for previously released memos in which he advocated the possible legality of torture, and for denying enemy combatants protection under the Geneva Conventions.

    Read the newly released memo here, and please take a look at footnote 10 on page 8:

    Indeed, drawing in part on the reasoning of Verdugo-Urquidez, as well as the Supreme Court’s treatment of the destruction of property for the purposes of military necessity, our Office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations. See Memorandum for Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President, and William J. Haynes II, General Counsel, Department of Defense, from John C. Yoo, Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Robert J. Delahunty, Special Counsel, Re: Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States at 25 (Oct. 23, 2001).

    Read that sentence I emphasized once more: “(T)he Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations.”

    Here’s the Fourth Amendment, lest we forget: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, support by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    But according to this footnote, Yoo — a little more than one month after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks — issued a memo finding that doesn’t apply to everyone within our borders, a sentiment never made public until now.

    The American Civil Liberties Union today issued a news release saying this still-secret 2001 Yoo memo “was almost certainly meant to provide a legal basis for the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, which President Bush launched the same month the memo was issued. As a component of the Department of Defense, the NSA is a military agency.”

    The ACLU has challenged the withholding of the October 2001 memo and the issue is pending before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008
    Under: Berkeley, Civil liberties, General, War on Terror | No Comments »

    Will FBI probe Berkeley recruiting stance?

    As promised last week, conservative activist group Move America Forward delivered a letter to U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello today asking federal authorities to investigate whether Berkeley broke the law with its anti-Marine recruiting stance. Kristin Bender, our Berkeley reporter, has details:

    A copy was hand-delivered today to Deputy U.S. Attorney William Frentzen, said Move America Forward spokesman Ryan Gill.

    “He said it might be of interest to their civil division and that he’d personally contact someone at the FBI,” Gill said. He did not have further details or a time line for when the group expects to have a response.

    Read Kristin’s full report, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2008
    Under: Berkeley | 42 Comments »

    Group wants feds to probe Berkeley Marines flap

    Lawyers for the conservative group Move America Forward have written to U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello of San Francisco “asking the federal government to investigate whether the Berkeley City Council’s official anti-Marine position and encouragement of anti-war groups to ‘impede’ the work of Marine recruiters constitutes a breach of law,” according to MAF’s news release. “If the City Council violated the law, the letter asks the U.S. Attorney to prosecute the perpetrators.”

    The release says the letter also voices concern that Berkeley Police were unresponsive and negligent to public safety during a protest MAF organized in Berkeley on Feb. 12, 2007. The letter’s original copy has already been mailed, but MAF leaders will hand-deliver another Monday morning at San Francisco’s federal courthouse and then hold a news conference right afterward.

    “We have been fighting them all the way and this is simply the next step,” former KSFO conservative talk radio host and MAF cofounder Melanie Morgan said in the release, also reiterating her demand that Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates give a full, official apology to all troops, veterans, and their families, and rescind resolutions giving special treatment — a parking space and sound-permit rights — to CodePink, one of the groups protesting at Berkeley’s U.S. Marine Corps recruiting center in recent months. “Berkeley has got to realize that we’re not going away.”

    Posted on Thursday, March 27th, 2008
    Under: Berkeley | No Comments »

    Move America Forward’s report, dissected

    So here is the report from Move America Forward — the grassroots conservative group which has spearheaded efforts to shame and boycott Berkeley for the city’s hostile stance toward its U.S. Marine Corps recruiting station — listing acts of civil disobedience, vandalism or violence at military recruiting stations across the nation in recent years.

    Part A is a list of such events since 2003.

    Part B is titled “Behind The Scenes: Anti-War Activists Exposed.” And that’s where I’m left underwhelmed.

    MAF found several instances in which morons posted comments to the Internet approving of crimes such as the vandalism of a recruiting center in Spokane, Wash.; the arson of a center in San Jose; and the recent bombing of a center in New York City’s Times Square. What’s clearly missing, however, is any evidence of the vast left-wing conspiracy implied by MAF’s news releases earlier this week.

    “Move America Forward has also documented discussions by anti-military activists coordinating attacks against military recruiting centers and suggesting ways to reduce the chance of facing criminal prosecution,” said the group’s Thursday news release. Instead, what we’ve got are a handful of nobodies gloating over actions they almost certainly had nothing to do with, spouting rhetoric on publicly accessible blogs — hardly an insurgency.

    And the left doesn’t have a monopoly on spitting rhetoric on blogs.

    Judge for yourself. Here are a few of the passages highlighted in MAF’s report:

  • (Regarding the Spokane vandalism:) “The proper response to this is for people to vandalize more recruiting stations.”
  • (Also regarding Spokane:)”On a more practical note, I think our movement needs to have a more prominent discussion about how to engage in actions and not get caught.”
  • (Regarding the Times Square bombing:) “Sometimes the news in the morning just warms your heart… first, millions of dollars worth of property damage to wealthy mansions and now a damaged and closed recruitment station, what’s next, rioting in the streets? (God I hope so)”
  • (Regarding a Washington, D.C., recruiting center:) “That recruiter is a child predator who sits at a desk all day and probably couldn’t handle actual war but loves to stalk children. Oh and I wish I had an M-16 with some extra magazines so I could just walk down K St. and start blasting war profiteers and recruiters and watch as you right wing losers start to cry your silly little heads off.”
  • (Regarding the San Jose arson:)”1 down! thousands to go! This is some awesome news to wake up to!”
  • Compare those to some of the comments left in the past week by MAF members and supporters in response to items on this very blog:

  • “We’re witnessing the encore of the Vietnam era anti-American, hippy war protesters. The exact same hippy traitors are re-enacting their glory days. It will only get worse. With each unopposed incident, they get bolder and braver. Do you remember when the campus riots stopped back then? Kent State. When do we start that re-enactment?”
  • “Maybe someday you can meet me and my rottweiller. I will be watching to see if your group shows up in my Texas area.”
  • “Mayor Bates,the Berkeley City Council and Code Pink should be tried and executed for treason.”
  • “The good people of the USA are fighting against the forces of fascist extremists who don’t care who they harm (women,children,ect.).Code pink is just another arm of these extremists. They should be eradicated (all the extremists) with extreme predudice. As an american who believes in every persons right to pursue happiness I will do what is necesary to assure their extinction.”
  • “Code Pink and groups like them, need to look over their shoulders every day & night. There a lot of American Patriots who will not stand-by and allow them to continue their behavior. Their day of reckoning is fast approaching and there will be NO mercy shown. Too many of our buddies have died, are crippled or mentally challenged as a result of the Iraq war. They paid a heavy price! These “worthless pieces of trash” anti-americans will pay!!!”
  • Those who commit civil disobedience, vandalism, arson or bombings should be prosecuted, but painting everyone with the words or actions of a demented few is idiocy. Sometimes cretins at either end of the political spectrum say too much, but that’s the freedom we enjoy here — deal with it, embrace it, revel in it.

    All of this “debate” — really just empty rhetoric — from both sides during the height of the Berkeley recruiting flap is just a distraction. Substantive discussion about foreign policy has been eclipsed by silly semantics.

    When I was out there covering the protests outside Berkeley City Hall on Feb. 12, I saw a few moments in which people on the two sides actually started talking to one another and listening to what each other had to say. That’s what we should be striving for, not the blustery crap documented in MAF’s report or contained in some of the comments on this blog.

    That’s the only way we can move America forward.

    UPDATE @ 12:53 P.M. FRIDAY: This just in from MAF chairwoman Melanie Morgan:


    I’m writing to you from Ryan’s computer in D.C after holding our national news conference denouncing the tactics of CodePink, International ANSWER, Global Exchange and other Radical activist groups.

    Unfortunately, I experienced a big ‘See, I told You, So’ moment when we were attacked during our news conference by the same people who descended on Berkeley, New York, Washington, Denver and St. Louis to shut-down the recruiters.

    npc-removal.jpgIn fact, a group of activist/anarchists were thrown out at the national Press club because they infiltrated under false pretenses, and screamed obscenities during my presentation

    Later, I was chased down in the streets of D.C. and further harassed, as well as Congressman John Carter and his staff.

    So, tell me again about that business on your blog about the business of needing to ‘dialogue’ with each other.

    Your contention that our people’s comments live up to the left-wing real life physical bombing, burning, and shootings is simply absurd.

    Melanie Morgan

    Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2008
    Under: Berkeley, Civil liberties | No Comments »

    Move America Forward’s anti-recruitment report

    Grassroots conservative group Move America Forward, which has spearheaded efforts to shame and boycott Berkeley for the city’s hostile stance toward its U.S. Marine Corps recruiting station, will hold a news conference tomorrow morning, Friday, March 14, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to release a report listing acts of civil disobedience or violence at military recruiting stations across the nation in recent years.

    From MAF’s news release:

    Move America Forward will provide detailed accounts of these attacks, including photographs and documents, to members of the media in attendance.

    A new national television ad campaign calling attention to these attacks will also be unveiled.

    Attacks on military recruiting centers include shots fired at offices (as happened in Denver, Colorado), bombs planted (a real one in St. Louis, fake ones in Oregon and the detonated explosion at the Times Square recruiting center), windows smashed, manure dumped on recruiting offices, human blood and feces smeared on the offices, recruiters cars have been firebombed (in Alabama and Maryland).

    The acts of aggression against military recruiters are part of a broader effort by anti-war activists called “counter-recruitment.” Anti-war/anti-military activists have explained to Move America Forward that the increase in counter-recruitment efforts stems from frustration with Congress for continuing to fund the missions of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Code Pink and others have indicated that if Congress won’t cut off funding for the war, then they will cut off the flow of available bodies to fight in the war.

    Move America Forward vehemently opposes this rationale given the all-volunteer nature of today’s U.S. Armed Forces.

    In addition, Move America Forward has also documented discussions by anti-military activists coordinating attacks against military recruiting centers and suggesting ways to reduce the chance of facing criminal prosecution. These findings will also be shared at the news conference.

    UPDATE @ 12:50 P.M. THURSDAY: Though I’ve not seen the report yet, MAF spokesman Joe Wierzbicki just sent me a list of recruiting station incidents from recent years. See ’em after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Thursday, March 13th, 2008
    Under: Afghanistan, Berkeley, Iraq | 48 Comments »