Where Tom Hayden Gets It Wrong

Answer to Tom Hayden writing in ‘The Nation’ to endorse Hillary for president:

‘I used to support Bernie but then I changed my mind’

by Charles Fredricks

ORIGINALLY appeared in LA Progressive. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Because Tom fears the alternative is Lucifer, he opts to support his minion instead. Hyperbole? Hillary is working to export fracking technology globally, supports GMO companies’ efforts to commodify the food supply, is down with continuing to hold the US healthcare system hostage to the private health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and never saw a war or wCharles Fredrickseapons system she couldn’t justify.

She is an imperialist; she makes no bones about continuing the failed fiction that American military preeminence equals the right to impose the will of corporate capitalists on all corners of the Earth that have not yet succumbed. She mistakenly believes we can continue such misappropriated investment of our energy while allowing our social base to wither and die. She is backed by the banks because they know her noise about reform is election year propaganda, as her idea of representing everyone means maintaining the status quo for the few who own half the wealth of the country. Viewing her through a global lens, she is a kinder, gentler, less misogynous, less racist (notice I did not say “not -” etc.), fascist.

Tom, you are not even waiting to support her as an alternative to Trump or Ted Cruz or Paul Ryan, but are willing to ditch the possibility of choosing something other than the lesser of two evils, out of the fear that rooting for anything truly transformative could lead to a Republican victory.

This type of thinking is killing us Tom. Climate change has raised the stakes. If we do not support renewables, and tax carbon now (and maybe even if we do), soon hundreds of millions will not have a place to live.

You conclude by re-playing the tune of your more radical roots, and say it will take all of us, but in this context you are implying we should succumb to our fears rather than work for our dreams. The young Tom Hayden would have seen it differently, I believe. America will get the leadership it deserves. The times require more courage than you are exemplifying here. We need to work for Bernie, up to the convention, and then for those same priorities he (and others more radical) choose to represent, regardless what face is put on “the reigns of power.”

We need systemic change. Hillary will not give us that.

— Charles Fredricks, Santa Monica

Charles Fredricks is documentary filmmaker, and a member of the KPFK-LSB, the Sothern Calif. Federation of Scientists, CSAN (Converging Storms Action Network), on the editorial staff of Change-Links, and a core member of Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles

Essence of Sanders Campaign

The Left and the 2016 Elections


DSA-LA Members & Friends, Join Us Jan. 31 and Feb. 7
2 Important 2016 Election Events at the Peace Center
Left politics in Los Angeles has been growing noticeably stronger in the last 3 years.
DSA-LA has been working in coalition with other left political groups to build a stronger
democratic socialist movement. The prospects for the Election of 2016 took an unexpected turn in 2015 with the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.

A Public Panel Discussion

Sunday, Jan. 31, 6:30-9:30pm
Peace Center
3916 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City

Sarah Mason, independent activist

Charles Fredricks, DSA-LA;
Mike Brown, International Socialist Org, LA;
Hannah Zuckerman, Socialist Alternative, LA;
Mimi Soltysik, SP-USA candidate for President;
Gabe Gabrielsky, Solidarity, LA, event organizer

Coalition event jointly sponsored by all of the
above organizations.

DSA and the Sanders Campaign
Discussion Event
Sunday, Feb. 7, 3-5pm

Peace Center
3916 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City

An in-depth discussion
the DSA approach to the
Bernie Sanders campaign.

DSA is supporting the Sanders
candidacy, but independent of the
official campaign. We’ll have updates,
campaign stats, details about DSA’s
chapter growth and opportunities
for movement building in the wake of
the Sanders campaign.

A DSA-LA Chapter event

After COP21: Marching in Place for Climate Justice

Shoes left symbolically after the French Government banned the Paris Global Climate March. credit: Ian Bremmer

CAROL NEWTON – Shadowed by the Paris terror attacks before the opening of the international climate summit (COP21), the conferees gathered to try to agree on principles intended to rescue the planet from catastrophic warming. Unfortunately, marches and protests planned for the 2-week event were banned for security reasons. Thousands of shoes were placed as stand-ins for the planned demonstration preceding the conference.

After 20 previous attempts by the Conference of Parties (COP) and 2 weeks of recent negotiations, a climate “deal” has been reached and 196 nations have signed on to implement it. Despite the exultant speeches of world leaders, rejoicing has not broken out in the Left community that marches to the beat of System Change Not Climate Change.

So what have the parties agreed to?

Nutshell version: a promise to contain temperature increase to less than 2 degrees C by 2050 with an aim to further reduce the temps to 1.5 degrees C by 2100; reductions in fossil fuel use, (mainly after 2050); increases in renewable energy; “regular” reviews to reassess targets based on evolving scientific analysis; finance for developing countries to help them cut emissions and deal with climate related problems.

The last-minute compromises added drama to the accomplishments well beyond what the decisions deserved. While the capitalist community hailed the agreement as historic and ambitious, it lacks any legally binding goals set by the international community. All participation is voluntary.

The lack of enforcement mechanisms or accountability is the most disappointing feature for the anti-capitalist community. Our values support political AND economic equality. How will we assure that the parties adhere to their voluntary targets for participation so that the inequality gap doesn’t widen, so that those who have contributed least to the climate crisis don’t suffer the most serious effects? What assurances have First Nations that the “First World” will not renege on the commitments they have made? What assurances do union members have that the loss of their fossil-fuel-related livelihood will be offset by promises to provide a “just transition”?

On December 10, we wrote about the scarceness of the mainstream news on COP21, which increases our burden to educate and organize those not already aware and engaged in the climate justice movement. On December 16 (4 days after the close of the conference) I kept the TV on CNN or MSNBC all day while I went about my chores—not one mention of the climate, the conference, or the agreement in 8 hours of semi-attention. In just 4 days, public access to information about what’s next had been downgraded. I was not surprised; holiday, family life and the 2016 political horse race were back at top-of-mind even for even for many climate activists. After all, a major agreement has been signed and it’s in the hands of governments now, isn’t it?

A hopeful Nation article by Robert Pollin published before the conference began urges readers to support the concept of a “global green-growth program” that would generate tens of millions of new jobs in all regions of the world. Certainly this is the likely scenario ahead but socialists must review the miserable record of the capitalist community in de-carbonization. What about the effects of continuing to push prosperity in the U.S on the fragile planet? Only socialists are sounding the alarm about the limits to the carrying capacity of Earth. We have a major contribution to make in restoring the ideals of caring for all people as one human family in tune with our only home.

Our Los Angeles compatriots marched locally on at least 5 occasions before, during and on the last day of the conference, which was dubbed “D12” or 12/12/12 (December 12 at 12:00 Noon), and #D12 in the parlance of Twitter. On that day DSA-LA marched with the residents of Porter Ranch. They have been suffering from the poisoning of their air caused by a methane andmercaptan leak at a SoCal Gas natural gas well that moved into their existing community where many had chosen a home on the outskirts of metropolitan Los Angeles to take advantage of the quiet, suburban, cleaner environment.

When the leak first became apparent, SoCal Gas initially denied it, reminding us of the “tobacco defense”—you know the one—“there is no proof that our (fill-in-the-blank) is causing these effects.”

Two and a half months later, 5,000 people have been evacuated including many children who are suffering from breathing difficulties and rashes that started when the leak did. And, what of the recent reports of the volume of methane escaping? The leak is the largest environmental disaster in California in a generation, and has been compared to the BP oil spill—on land.

Do you feel a chill creeping down your spine—not related to winter? Clearly our job is not done. The temperature targets are too loose, the time targets are too generous, and the impulse to carry on without changing the system—just replacing fossil fuels with renewables—is too ingrained in the mainstream political community.

The activist community in Los Angeles is unanimous in their criticism of the agreement: perhaps this agreement was the one finally signed BECAUSE it was worse than earlier attempts. Marching in place will not lead to progress!

Then what must we do?

Of course, when the issue looms large enough to break out in large political protest, join in: rally, march, and demonstrate. But, I hope by now you are all thinking organize, build the socialist movement, and above all use DSA’s Bernie literature and wear your DSA Bernie gear to build DSA for the long game ahead.

Author’s Notes:

Thanks to Mark Schaeffer and Bill Barclay for their helpful suggestions.

I also read this article from the Guardian, which illustrates the conferees conclusions:


Two links for pix showing the international response to COP21, please note the wide-spread use of System Change Not Climate Change (very cheering to know so many people understand the anti-capitalist message):



Minimum Wage? How About a Maximum Wage?


JACK ROTHMAN – I see that unions, led by the Service Employees International Union, are out in full force championing the $15 an hour minimum wage. Business leaders scoff at this. But about nine million workers carry full-time jobs, working 40 hours a week, and still live below the poverty line. Now, that’s something to really scoff at! But even if these employees were able to achieve the $15 wage, the inequities in income between the top one percent and ordinary working families would still be a Herculean stretch. Workers are like cliff scalers in Yosemite, peering up El Capitan, but without cleats, climbing ropes and tax shelters. The Washington Post reports that the average CEO earns just over 350 times as much as the work force below. Those executives need to come down from the stratosphere and breathe real air.

If we truly want to make that happen, how about joining the new $15 minimum wage with a $15 million maximum income? Could CEOs somehow manage to subsist on that? I think so. And then all of us could live pretty comfortably and in relative equality. Wouldn’t that give us a new New Deal for contemporary times? It’s a deal that could sweep from the table the rickety house of cards that we call the free enterprise system.

That system, the mainstream media keep telling us, creates the greatest possible benefits because anyone can be a big success. All you need do is have initiative and drive. What they fail to mention is that the card deck they’re using is stacked. If your family name is Gonzales or Chang and you mobilize your initiative and drive, statistics tell us there’s an outside chance your lot will improve in going from one generation to the succeeding generation. But, if your family name is Trump or Buffett, all the initiative you need for success is to pick up the phone and say, “Hello, Dad?

According to the catechisms of capitalism, a lucky break for Jr. is really also good news for all working stiffs. That’s because of a rosy premise: What helps the very rich rake in billions helps everybody. They have a slogan for this — “A rising tide lifts all boats.” The only hitch here is that news is totally useless to people at the bottom who can’t afford a boat. It would be no surprise to see the eager slogan-makers go on to promise even greater useless news — the tide will also wash off your Lexus.Capitalist tenets also dull our senses by touting the “wonders” of trickle down theory. That theory holds that when financial elites heap up profits, good stuff cascades down to poor folks at the bottom. What I’ve seen trickle down is meager jobs and hardly-livable housing. Mansions never seem to trickle down.

Ironically, workers struggling to push forward against an unjust headwind often act counter to their own interests. Folks without the boat, without the Lexus, and probably underwater on their mortgages, courtesy of the last “rising tide,” somehow oppose programs that would throw them a life raft. It’s a real eyeblinker that, over and over, workers oppose legislation and programs that would benefit their circumstances and, instead, support ideas that are to their detriment. A leading example of this is workers backing “right to work” legislation, which, despite its euphemistic tonality, amounts to the right to demolish unions.

Corporation honchos have convinced workers that unions are bad for them. It’s like, “Listen up, cold season is coming on — make sure you don’t take any of that nasty Vitamin C.” So, many workers have been hoodwinked into believing that paying dues to a union to raise their income is tyranny, but letting the boss unilaterally dictate their salary is freedom. Go figure. Here’s a favorite quote of mine from Upton Sinclair that helps explain things: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.” Corporations nowadays are into school reform that privatizes our public education system and gives them more leverage in determining the kind of education they want to have understood.

Corporate behemoths also have shifted to doing direct educational communication on their own. Thanks to the Citizens United decision, corporations — which when I was a kid used to be gleaming skyscrapers downtown — are now people, with legal rights of “free speech.” Before Citizens United, the speech guaranteed to corporations allowed them to tell you to buy a car you couldn’t afford. Now their speech amounts to big money for political commercials explaining that unions are against the best interests of the public and working people. In both cases, if you buy into what the corporations are selling, you get a lemon — one that’s sour for you, but real sweet for them.

I know my proposal for a 15 million dollar wage maximum isn’t going to cause elation at Fox News and take off big in a stalemated America. Whatever brings real benefits to people at the bottom is somehow made to seem divisive and to trumpet the sound of class warfare. But there’s worth in pushing this remedy for inequality into the national dialogue. A trumpet blast might create a breeze that over time topples our tilted house of cards and makes way for a more balanced one. That would be a house of democracy, having a solid foundation and a proper roof. I know the lords of finance won’t be the least bit interested in providing us a mortgage for that edifice. We just will have to meet at Home Depot instead of Chase Bank and begin to build the house ourselves.

Reposted from the Huffington Post and the LA Progressive with the author’s permission.

Jack Rothman was the founding organizer for the Los Angles DSA chapter. He was a professor of community organizing at the University of Michigan and UCLA Schools of Social Work. His book, Strategies of Community Intervention, has been the leading text in the field.


DSA-LA Welcomes Harold Meyerson, Wednesday, December 10, 7pm‏


On December 10, 2014, Meyerson will speak on “The Future of Politics in an Age of Inequality” bringing his observations on the painful 2014 mid-term elections, the role of low wages in creating and aggravating inequality, the local minimum wage fight and his suggestions for what socialists can do.

Harold Meyerson, is a fellow member of DSA, executive editor of The American Prospect, and columnist for the Washington Post where he writes extensively on labor, the economy, politics, and culture. Born in Los Angeles and educated in local public schools before setting off for Columbia University, he was formerly executive editor and chief political columnist for The L.A.Weekly.

This event is free, open to the public as well as to DSA members, and refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP

Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 7pm 
Peace Center
3916 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230
Free parking in the rear

Contact: Carol Newton, carolnewtn@gmail.com or 323-665-8124 to leave a message

Building Blocks Against Climate Change

Building Blocks Against Climate ChangeDSA-LA community:

Please join us as we support and amplify the message of the Peoples Climate March in NYC. We now know that the costs of capitalism’s blindness on fossil fuel use will force a spiral of climate events that endangers the planet and all its inhabitants.

DSA-LA is going all out against climate change. Please join us, and many other groups, in this powerful demonstration in our own home town.

September 20, 1-5pm • Wilshire Blvd, between Vermont and Berendo

There will be an Eco-Socialist zone between Vermont and Berendo on Wilshire Blvd, both sides of the street. DSA-LA will have signs and T-shirts at the corner of Wilshire and Berendo. Once you have your items, feel free to mingle with our coalition members, or take our messages along the Building Blocks route from Lafayette Park to Western.

To see the other groups that will be there, go to AgainstClimateChange.org

Scroll down to the map and list of participants.

To RSVP to help day of: carolnewtn@gmail.com and chasfred@roadrunner.com

BE there!

Overcoming Climate Denial – Why Our Brains Ignore Climate Change

Overcoming Climate Denial –
Why Our Brains Ignore Climate Change

Sept 15th, 7-9pm

Hosted by SoCal Climate Action Coalition 350
and Progressive Christians Uniting

RSVP: http://j.mp/GMarshall

Download flyer here: http://www.progressivechristiansuniting.org/Overcoming%20Denial%20Event%20Flyer.pdf

Hear George Marshall, Climatologist and Author discuss his new book

“Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change”
and how we can implement strategies locally.

Come discover why people are so prone to dismiss the evidence for climate change,
even when it is staring them in the face, and what we can do to help people move
past denial and towards action!

First Congregational Church, 464 East Walnut St. Pasadena, CA
(corner of Los Robles Ave & Walnut St.)

7:00 pm – Doors Open / Community Networking
7:30-9:00pm – Forum / Q&A

EcoSocialist Film Festival & Teach-In

EcoSocialist Event

Click on image to download schedule.

EcoSocialist Film Festival & Climate Justice Teach-In
August 23 & 24th, 11 am – 8 pm
Free and open to the public. Speakers invited from:
Citizens Climate Lobby/Climate Reality, LA Beyond Coal, SoBay 350 campaign and TarSands Action, Food & Water Watch Anti-Fracking Campaign, Money Out Voters In, Occupy Venice and others

Topics: food security, water security and supply, anti-fracking, pro wind/solar/other green solutions, labor security, inequality, money in politics, Citizen’s United, and a constitutional amendment, which is needed to get more of the people’s voice in how to combat climate change.

To help, contact: Charles Fredricks (chasfred@roadrunner.com)
& Carol Newton (carolnewtn@gmail.com)
For more info: watch this website, Facebook and Twitter for updates

GET INFORMED find out what you can do, GET ACTIVE !

To view a schedule of films and discussion segments, click on the image above.

DSA-LA General Membership Meeting, SATURDAY, July 26

DSA-LA Members,

Please join us for a General Membership meeting on SATURDAY, July 26, at 6pm
Peace Center, 3916 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, 90230

We’ll discuss chapter business and opportunities for participation in the planning and execution of DSA-LA events and actions in coalition with other socialists.

We would like to encourage members to take at least a small role in the development of events, actions and chapter maintenance.

We also want to know your ideas for our direction and action.

Come and find out what you can do.

We know that everyone is busy, but as a socialist organization, participation is an essential part of the experience. Meaningful contributions can be made in a few hours occasionally, for example: set-up and clean-up actions for each event. We simply need to know you will be there to help when the time comes.

For those with a little more time, there are mailings to prepare and send, ads to create, refreshments to procure, tabling for an issue, and executive committee chores to do.

See you on Sunday July 26, 6pm