Tuesday, November 16, 2010

“Know Your Rights,” Progressive Attorneys Tell Activist San Diego

FBI Attacks on Midwest Palestinian Solidarity Activists Prompt Meeting


Copyright © 2010 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger's Newsmagazine * All rights reserved

PHOTOS, top to bottom: Kate Yavenditti and Alex Landon; Frank Gormlie

“People don't know what a long history of repression and harassment against Left-wing and progressive activists there has been in San Diego,” said Kate Yavenditti of the National Lawyers' Guild (NLG) to a well-attended meeting of Activist San Diego (ASD) at the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest November 15. She moderated a panel discussion that featured two other veteran progressive attorneys in San Diego, Frank Gormlie (also a journalist and publisher of the on-line O. B. Rag) and Alex Landon, and focused not only on recent government attacks on peace, social and environmental justice organizations elsewhere in the U.S. but the history of repressive law-enforcement actions against activists in San Diego.

The meeting was originally planned to be much larger in scope. ASD had invited Chicago-based activist Tom Burke, one of the 11 activists in seven cities who were targeted by the FBI in simultaneous sweeps on September 24. The FBI raided seven houses and an office in Chicago and Minneapolis, seizing computers and files. Agents handed subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury to eleven activists in Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan. The FBI also attempted to intimidate activists in California and North Carolina. They appeared to be targeting people involved in building solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people against U.S.-funded Israeli occupation, speaking out for the rights of Muslim Americans and also activists involved in environmental justice and animal rights.

Burke was supposed to speak at the November 15 ASD meeting, but his plane was stranded by a snowstorm in Wisconsin. (ASD founder Martin Eder, introducing the meeting, grimly joked that the FBI had caused the snowstorm.) An activist from the local Somali community was also supposed to speak, but never showed up. “We know the immigrant communities here in San Diego have been worried, preoccupied and in the shadows due to abuses by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and we want to put that in the context of repression,” Eder said in introducing the meeting.

Yavenditti mentioned that most of the 11 Midwest activists targeted by the FBI are being represented by attorneys who belong to the NLG. “There have been a lot of other things going on lately, including events in San Diego,” she said. “We may or may not have known about, and we really haven't talked about, what your rights are. … We know that we can't just sit back and assume that we're not being watched and there isn't law enforcement interest in our community, because we as activists pose a threat and we need to be conscious about what we do and what our rights are.”

She cited another recent incident in which an activist working on the case of Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of leaking confidential information on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to the WikiLeaks Web site, “was detained on his way back from Mexico and his computer, flash drive and all his research was confiscated.” Yavenditti mentioned that the “Know Your Rights” brochure her group puts out as a guide for activists in confrontations with law enforcement, which was distributed at the meeting, is also available online for download at http://www.nlg.org

Veteran San Diego activist Frank Gormlie began his part of the presentation with an account of local activism in the 1970's. “There was police repression,” he said. “The San Diego police did so-called 'field interrogations,' in which they could stop people without probable cause [the legal standard to make a search or stop legitimate under the Fourth Amendment] and demand ID's.” Though this was later ruled illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court, the local police figured out other ways to harass activists, including reporting them to their landlords and harassing printing companies who printed Left-wing and progressive publications.

“Then there were the agent spies,” Gormlie recalled, “who would come to the meeting, take notes, get contact information and disrupt the organizations. Remember that this was the Nixon era, 1968-1974. Nixon came in as a peace candidate, promising to end the war in Viet Nam, and instead he escalated the war. One hundred boys were coming home each week in body bags. There was a draft going on.”

While government repression against the Left certainly didn't start with Richard Nixon, Gormlie acknowledged, “Nixon upped the ante and introduced COINTELPRO [Counter-Intelligence Program] as a national program systematically to infiltrate and disrupt peace and justice groups. The San Diego Black Panthers were actually driven underground, and attorney Ted Bumer said he and others would get stopped for having too many bumper stickers on their cars.” While in other places – notably Oakland and Chicago – law enforcement staged raids on Black Panther headquarters and the homes of their members and killed them outright, in San Diego and Los Angeles they were more subtle, secretly sponsoring another Black nationalist organization, United Slaves (US), and using provocateurs to get Panthers and US members to attack and kill each other, Gormlie explained.

“In San Diego, the police had a Red Squad to go after anarchists, peaceniks and everyone else against the war,” Gormlie said. “You had to deal with the San Diego Police Department, the FBI, the National Security Agency, Naval intelligence and goodness knows what else.” Things escalated when the Republicans planned to have their 1972 convention in San Diego – and activists from all over the country, recalling the disruptions at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, flocked here to get ready for it. As night follows day, Gormlie said, the FBI followed the activists and started harassing them – until a scandal involving a lobbyist for the International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) conglomerate led to the cancellation of the 1972 Republican convention in San Diego and its relocation to Miami, where the Democrats had already scheduled their convention, so security measures were already in place.

According to Gormlie, Louis Tackwood, an African-American informant with the Los Angeles Police Department who later switched sides and gave interviews to activist writers about his activities disrupting Left and progressive groups, “broke out in 1971 with a horrible tale that during the 1972 convention in San Diego, provocateurs inside the convention would spark riots and fake assassination attempts. The plan was to confine the demonstrators on Fiesta Island, blow up the bridges connecting it to the mainland, and Nixon would use the attempted assassinations as an excuse to declare martial law.”

Another grim tale Gormlie had from San Diego's past was the Secret Army Organization (SAO), a Right-wing militia group descended from the 1960's version of the Minutemen, who had a relationship with the FBI that, as Gormlie described it, seemed similar to that between the official militaries and Right-wing paramilitary “death squads” in Latin American countries. According to Gormlie, the FBI and SAO would work together to terrorize Left-wing and peace activists. “They had an agent named Howard Berry Godfrey” – supposedly an informant infiltrating SAO on behalf of the FBI but really an active liaison between the two – “and they would leave little cards with pictures of people inside rifle-sight cross-hairs saying, 'You are now being targeted by the SAO.'”

Most of the recipients laughed these “warnings” off and didn't take them seriously – until January 6, 1972, when popular San Diego State University economics professor and anti-war activist Peter Bohmer received one at his office which read, “This time we left a sticker, next time we may leave a grenade.” A few hours later, while Godfrey was present in the car, an SAO member fired shots into Bohmer's home. He wasn't home, but two other activists, Shari Whitehead and San Diego Street Journal reporter Paula Tharp, were attacked. One bullet shattered Tharp's elbow; a second shot missed Whitehead but lodged in the wall above her head. The next day Godfrey gave the gun to Steve Christiansen, his FBI contact and, like Godfrey, a militant anti-Communist and devout Mormon. Christiansen held on to the gun for six months, thereby monkey-wrenching any investigation of the shooting.

According to Gormlie, SAO met its demise in a marvelously ironic fashion. “They bombed a porn theatre with a bunch of police chiefs inside,” he recalled. One result was that Christiansen was fired from the FBI. But law enforcement actions against San Diego's Leftists continued, including infiltrating local peace organizations and staking out the homes of activists, ostensibly to look for evidence of drug possession. (Gormlie said he himself nearly got caught in such a stake-out in 1973 when police raided an Ocean Beach apartment he was about to move into.) Gormlie said that in 1978 he requested his own FBI file under the Freedom of Information Act, and learned he had a so-called AMAX file, “which meant that in case of a national emergency, I would be one of the first people to be picked up.”

“The Red Squad is not dead in San Diego,” Yavenditti added. “In 2001, when the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) was having its national convention in San Diego and local activists organized a protest called Biojustice, the police had books [files] on all the activists involved in the demonstrations.” She also recalled another recent incident in which “cops came to one activist's house and said they were told that 'anti-American comments' were being spoken at an event at this person's house. The first question we had about this is, is it happening to anybody else?”

“I can't foresee what they're going to do,” said local attorney Alex Landon. He called on local activists to maintain what he called “healthy paranoia” – recalling the old joke that just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that there aren't really people out to get you. His definition of “healthy paranoia” was “understanding that there are forces of evil out there and that we still have rights. Not enough people know what's in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Only 20 percent of Americans can name more than one freedom protected by the First Amendment – whereas 50 percent of Americans can name at least two characters on The Simpsons.”

Landon punctuated his presentation by reading aloud the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution, noting that the Fourth Amendment protections against unwarranted searches and seizures are so sweeping the courts have recognized only two exceptions. One is called “exigent circumstances,” meaning that if the police are sure someone has actually committed a crime they can follow him into a house and arrest him. The other is to prevent immediate bodily harm. Other than that, police who want to enter a person's home and search first have to establish “probable cause” to believe a crime has been committed and that person is involved, and then must go before a judge to obtain a search warrant.

“If someone [from law enforcement] comes to your house, you have the right to tell them they don't have the right to visit you,” Landon said. “If you let the person in, then you're considered to have invited them and all sorts of things can happen. If they see something illegal in plain sight, then they can search without a warrant.” Landon also warned that if you have someone living in your house who's under a “Fourth Waiver” – a term of probation or parole by which they give up their Fourth Amendment protections and allow law enforcement officers to search them and their homes any time in exchange for being released from prison – the police can search the entire house unless you can establish that you have a room which is locked so that the person who's waived his or her Fourth Amendment protections never goes in there. (According to Landon, Fourth Amendment waivers used to be unusual conditions of probation or parole – usually in cases involving drugs – but now they're so routine virtually all probationers or parolees are forced to give up their rights to avoid or get out of jail.)

Another danger is if you don't want to let the police in – but one of your housemates does it. “If they've given permission, that can impact you as well,” Landon explained. He also explained that if officers apprehend you in a car, you have fewer rights. “They still have to have probable cause, but they can get you out of the car and pat you down, and if they see something in the vehicle that's contraband they can seize it and arrest you,” he explained. “They can also impound a vehicle and do an impound search.” He also said that if the cops stop you on the streets, you have even fewer rights: “they still have to have probable cause, but they can pat you down,” ostensibly to look for weapons that might put their own lives in danger. “If a police officer stops you on the street, do you have to comply?” Landon said. “If you're just walking on the street, no. If you refuse, you've got a situation and you have to deal with it.”

One case Landon discussed took place in Encinitas on June 26, 2009 at what one would think would be as pure an expression of Americans' political rights as one could imagine: a private reception to raise money for a political campaign. The candidate was Democrat Francine Busby, planning her third run for a traditionally Republican Congressional seat in North County. The incident took place at the home of Shari Barman and Jane Stratton, a Lesbian couple. At 9:30 p.m. – after Busby had already appeared, spoken and left – sheriff's deputy Marshall Abbott came to the home of Barman and Stratton, ostensibly responding to a noise complaint from a neighbor.

“Most of the guests had left,” witness Christine “Chris” Carlino recalled at an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) event last February. “The caterers were cleaning up, Busby’s staff was packing and nothing was happening that would indicate the police would show up. I was talking to Shari and someone came over and said there was a police officer looking for one of the homeowners. I thought maybe it was a parking issue. I saw this very large, young sheriff’s deputy coming from the left side of the house. I thought maybe he had walked all the way around and come in the back way.” Deputy Abbott asked Shari Barman to identify herself – which she did – and then asked her how old she was. When she refused to tell him, he grabbed her by the arm, aggravating a pre-existing injury, and said he would arrest her if she didn't answer his question.

“He not only arrested her, he grabbed her arm and twisted it as he slammed her down to the ground,” American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Mike Marrinan explained. “Jane, her partner, came up and saw that Shari was on the ground. She explained that Shari had had shoulder surgery two months before and he should be careful, and he took his arm and knocked Jane, who’s in her 50’s, up against the wall without saying a word. Then he started backing up, while people were coming over and asking him what he was doing, and pepper-spraying the crowd.”

Carlino said she approached Berman just as Abbott was grabbing her arm and pushing her to the floor. “I couldn’t figure out what was going on,” Carlino said. “I thought I would identify myself as an attorney. I was scared, but I felt I had to go to Shari’s defense, so I started walking to their location. He got up and turned towards me, and I think I was the first person he pepper-sprayed. My eyes were burning, as if I’d just held them to an open flame, and since I’d never been pepper-sprayed before I was scared to death. I was worried that I’d be blinded for life. While I was on the ground, I was hearing pandemonium and I couldn’t tell what was going on because I couldn’t see. A woman came over and asked if she could help. She walked me into the bathroom and I started splashing cold water on my face. By the time I came out of the bathroom, Shari had been handcuffed and taken to a police car. … Deputy Abbott said he only pepper-sprayed people who posed a threat to him,” Carlino said.

According to Landon, the incident recently ended with a $1.2 million settlement paid by San Diego County to the people victimized by Abbott and his fellow deputies. But Abbott is still on the force, and San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis refused to file charges against him or any of the other deputies involved on the ground that they didn't do anything wrong.

Landon's message to the crowd at the ASD event is to know your rights and be willing to assert them – but also not to provoke a confrontation with law enforcement when you're in a “position of weakness.” He said that if the police don't like the way you're responding to them, they can make what are called “attitude arrests.” Both he and Yavenditti warned against trying to say anything to the police, and especially against trying to deflect police attention with sarcasm. Yavenditti said her son used to get in trouble all the time when he was 15, rode a skateboard and affected a punk appearance.

Another concern Landon raised is the increasing popularity of the Internet in general and so-called “social network” sites, including Facebook, in particular. He said that law enforcement officers constantly monitor those sites – and they have a perfect right to do so. They also have a right to eavesdrop on all wireless communications, including cell phones and mobile Internet use, on the legal theory that communications going out over wires have a reasonable expectation of privacy, but people using wireless equipment are essentially broadcasting – and that's fair game for law enforcement.

Other topics Landon discussed included the Fifth Amendment and the continuing legal assault by law enforcement and Right-wing activists on the so-called Miranda warnings and the “exclusionary rule” by which they're enforced, which prohibits the use of illegally seized evidence in criminal prosecutions. He also discussed the constitutional rights of minors – which, contrary to the belief of some law-enforcement officials, actually do exist, Landon said – and said that “the problem is that law enforcement can intimidate people and lie to them, and they do.”

For more information on your rights in connection with law enforcement, especially involving legal political and social activism, visit the National Lawyers' Guild online at http://www.nlg.org and download their pamphlets, including the Know Your Rights brochure. NLG also has a pamphlet available called Operation Backfire, detailing how the federal government currently regards environmental and animal-rights activists as the number one “domestic terrorism” threat, and created a “Greenscare Hotline” several years ago as a first line of defense for environmental and animal rights activists who have been contacted by the FBI. Callers are referred to NLG attorneys in their area whose assistance ranges from telephone consultations to direct representation. The hotline is: 1-(888) 654-3265 [1-(888) NLG-ECOL].

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fort Worth Councilmember Burns Headlines Freedom Awards


Copyright © 2010 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger's Newsmagazine * All rights reserved

PHOTO: San Diego County Democratic Party chair Jess Durfee and Fort Worth City Councilmember Joel Burns

“It Gets Better (for Democrats),” read the headline for the program of the 35th annual San Diego Democratic Club Freedom Awards, held Saturday, November 13 at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park. The slogan was a reflection of how traumatic the results of the 2010 midterm elections have been for Democrats, but also an ironic allusion to the chief claim to fame of the keynote speaker, openly Gay Fort Worth, Texas City Councilmember Joel Burns, who on October 12 made a speech from the Fort Worth City Council chambers detailing his own history of growing up and enduring anti-Gay bullying as a child – and the friend from Oklahoma who committed suicide rather than face any more harassment.

Burns began his speech with a few jokes about his husband, who after his City Council speech told him, “I love you, but I don't want to be known as the husband of the guy who cries at City Council meetings.” Promising not to cry during his Freedom Awards speech – though later on he briefly came close to tearing up – Burns talked grimly about suicides among Queer teenagers and the need to find innovative ways to prevent both the suicides themselves and the years of harassment and bullying that usually precedes and causes them.

“Today in the U.S. 19 people will put a gun to their mouths, or put a rope around their necks and step off a chair, or put a pill bottle to their mouths, and kill themselves,” Burns said. “And 19 more people will kill themselves the day after, and 19 more the day after that. Of those 19, 11 will be youth and four or five will be LGBT [Queer] youth. One-fourth of all Americans who kill themselves are Gay youth: the 13-,. 14- and 15-year old versions of you and me. Many of them do so after months, or even years, of bullying and harassment.”

When the recent spate of Queer teen suicides was reported in the media, Burns said even he – with a history of living through bullying himself – took too long to speak out. “When I read about the first suicide, I thought, 'This is awful. I should do something about it.' But I didn't,” Burns admitted. “It wasn't until Zeke Harrington killed himself that I delivered the story I wrote about my truth. I had no idea what an amazing gift I gave myself, my family and others by speaking out.”

Indeed, among the people Councilmember Burns was able to help by speaking out was Dan Harrington, Zeke's father. “I talked to him a few days ago, and you can imagine how that felt,” he said. “He told me Zeke's mom, a teacher, is having problems trying to go back to work.” Burns mentioned a member of his own family who's also a teacher, “who sees bullying going on everywhere” and feels largely powerless to stop it.. “No one deserves to be told they have no worth,” Burns said.

“People aren't used to seeing politicians talk about it,” Burns acknowledged. He said he hadn't expected the video of his speech at the Fort Worth City Council to “go viral” on the Internet, but he's been gratified and supported by the response. He said he received 29,000 e-mails, including a few requests for dates – which amused him since he'd said in the speech that he's in a deeply committed relationship. “The response isn't because of me,” Burns said. “I do think it's indicative of a few things going on in America. People see bullying every day.”

Ironically, Burns said that he expected his 15 minutes of nationwide fame to happen over a year ago, shortly after he won his City Council seat, when agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Control department raided the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth. Whether by accident or design, they picked the 40th anniversary of the riot at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, commonly thought of as the beginning of the Queer rights movement in the U.S., to stage the raid – and they severely injured a young customer by throwing him down stairs.

Burns recalled that he was in Houston at the time of the raid but immediately returned home once he heard of it “because I didn't want people to think Fort Worth was a city full of idiots. I was in a place of despair, but we had a rally on the steps of the county courthouse and ultimately we expanded our nondiscrimination ordinance to include Transgender individuals. We created a diversity task force and changed the way we train police officers and firefighters. And this past Tuesday the city of Fort Worth adopted benefits for the domestic partners of city employees.”

That attitude of converting danger into opportunity also shaped Burns' discussion of the 2010 midterm elections. California Democrats, who came through the election relatively unscathed – their party took the governorship from the Republicans and had an almost clean sweep of the statewide offices – tend not to realize just what a disaster it was in most of the rest of the country. According to Burns, in the 2008 election Texas Democrats came within two votes of a majority in the state's House of Representatives; after 2010, they'll be outnumbered two to one.

“But the election results don't reflect a political change in the people,” Burns said. “People are in a place of despair. They are gasping for hope, just as they were in 2008, but it manifested very differently. It creates an opportunity for all of us in this room to talk to neighbors, parents, kids and co-workers and tell them the difference between the truth and the untruths. … You've got to keep electing LGBT officials and straight allies, giving money and working in campaigns. .. Please don't forget those of us who found bullying too hard to take, and who took our own lives in despair.”

“So this is how it ends: garland him with laurels and shove him out the door,” said veteran club activist Mel Merrill when president Larry Baza and former president Jeri Dilno called him up to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Merrill, who had previously done a satirical stand-up comedy routine as part of the program – a tradition Baza decided to revive this year – Merrill turned serious as he recalled why he got involved in politics and joined the club in the first place.

“For a Gay man of my generation, it was self-preservation,” Merrill said. “For most of my adult life, my sexual expression has been illegal. This year, it was a pleasure to vote – again – for the governor, Jerry Brown, who signed Willie Brown's Consenting Adults Act that made us legal.” After briefly discussing why Merrill and the other activists in the club's early years felt that “forming an LGBT club within the Democratic Party” was the best way to achieve political influence and affect policy, Merrill said, “It can get better as long as we keep on working.” He also noted that all the other awardees that night were “considerably younger” than him, “so the work will go on,” and he expressed his pride at having worked with the late Dr. A. Brad Truax, Doug Scott, R. Steven Pope and Herb King, all of whom have club awards named after them. (King's was the one Merrill won.)

One of the club's traditions is for the president to give out a special award whose recipient is unknown to anyone else until the night of the event. Baza gave this award to Bob Leyh, the club's vice-president for development (fundraising), who jokingly accepted it “on behalf of the conservative Blue Dog anti-spending pro-business wing” of the club. Baza also gave two Board Member of the Year awards, one to special events chair Cindy Green – who, despite the competition for volunteers from candidates' campaigns, managed to staff a club booth and do voter registration at every local street fair this year – and one to Vanessa Cosio, who stepped in as information technology chair and dramatically revamped and improved the club's Web site.

Veteran club activist and former president Gloria Johnson introduced outgoing San Diego City Councilmember Donna Frye for a special recognition award. “I'm not going to make a speech,” said Frye – and she didn't. Jennifer Campbell, M.D. – almost universally known as “Dr. Jen” – received the J. Douglas Scott political action award and thanked her partner Suzanne, “who helps me knock on those doors” while walking precincts.

Cindy Green, who when she received her own award later in the evening said, “I don't do it for the recognition; I do it because I love it,” gave the R. Steven Pope Award for Volunteerism to Lyn Gwizdak and his service dog, Landon – probably the first time in the club's history it's given a shared award to a non-human recipient. Gwizdak, a blind female-to-male Transgender person, won the award largely for her volunteer work at the club's street fair booths. Green said she included the unusually affectionate Landon in the citation because “he was the biggest draw in the booth” -- people came by to pet Landon and then Lyn would register them to vote and/or sign them up to work on campaigns.

The A. Brad Truax Human Rights award went to retiring Assemblymember Mary Salas, who barely lost a bruising primary battle for a State Senate seat in June. “I'm really honored and happy to be in the presence of so many people,” Salas said. “I'm a lifelong San Diegan and I've seen people's attitudes shift from being hostile and anti-Gay to becoming a welcoming community. I have Gay, Lesbian and Transgender members of my own family, and back then it was 'don't ask, don't tell.'” Salas said she was especially proud of her 12-year-old daughter for befriending, and bringing to their home, a schoolmate who was harassed by his own parents for wearing blue eye shadow and mascara.

Other club awards went to Diversionary Theatre, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary next year; and Jennifer LeSar, wife of Assemblymember-elect and former San Diego City Councilmember Toni Atkins. LeSar's award – accepted for her by Atkins' Assembly campaign manager, Tim Orozco, because she and Atkins are on vacation – was given by Atkins' successor on the Council, Todd Gloria. Calling LeSar “one of the most amazing women, period,” Gloria praised her for her work bringing affordable housing to San Diego, developing the Tenth and B project downtown and helping the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center secure the Sunburst building on 20th and C in Golden Hill as a home for young Queer people. “Thanks to her, 24 LGBT youth aren't sleeping on the streets,” Gloria said.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veteran Activist Tom Hayden Speaks in San Diego

Comes Two Days After the Election to Talk About the "Long War"


Copyright (c) 2010 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger's Newsmagazine * All rights reserved

Tom Hayden, veteran activist and former California State Senator, didn't come to the First Unitarian-Universalist Church in Hillcrest November 4 to talk about the midterm elections. One of the key people in starting the so-called "New Left" of the 1960's -- he wrote the Port Huron Statement, the founding document of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) -- he cut his activist teeth in opposition to U.S. military adventurism in general and the Viet Nam war in particular. The announced topic of his talk was "The Long War," the long-term struggle between the U.S. and militant Islam worldwide that America's military leaders anticipate will go on for 60 to 80 years, and in which the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are just "theatres."

But as both a grass-roots activist and a former elected official, Hayden couldn't resist commenting about the election from the point of view of "a proud progressive Democrat from the planet of California." Noting that this state resisted the Republican tide that swept the rest of the country, Hayden pointed out that Democrats came close to a sweep of the statewide offices and may even have elected Kamala Harris, a woman and opponent of capital punishment from San Francisco, over Los Angeles city attorney Steve Cooley as state attorney general. "It's not often that women get to take the keys of the jail from men," Hayden said. "Besides the Deep South, the last bastion of the white male constituency is the police department and D.A.'s offices. It says a lot about this generation and the steady progress of change that she would even have a chance."

Hayden also couldn't help but comment on the re-election of Jerry Brown as governor of California 28 years after he vacated that office and was defeated by future governor Pete Wilson in a U.S. Senate race. "I remember campaigning for [Brown] as a young man," Hayden said. "I entered the California legislature as Jerry Brown was leaving Sacramento. ... I hope Obama called him because Jerry Brown is now the oldest successful Democratic politican, decades ahead of the country on one issue that matters more than any other: where are we going to get energy supplies without going to war? Through energy efficiency, conservation and renewables." Hayden pointed out that in 1979 energy experts were predicting that in order to meet future demand California would have to build "a nuclear reactor every five miles up the California coast and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on sacred Indian ground." The fact that Brown pursued a clean-energy path instead -- at least a decade before Al Gore or any other national politican discovered the issue -- meant, Hayden said, "that California has saved $50-$100 billion on energy from these plants that weren't built, and California temporarily became the world leader in photovoltaics. There are now 1 to 2 million Californians employed in clean energy, and the most capital on clean energy [in the U.S.] is going into California right now. ... [Brown] knew this issue is more important than anything else."

One positive result from the election, Hayden said, was that Barbara Boxer's win over Carly Fiorina and the Democrats' retention of their majority in the U.S. Senate means that she will continue to chair the Senate's energy and environment committee -- and as such will continue to resist attempts to get the federal government to pre-empt energy regulation and prevent California from imposing tougher clean-energy and anti-pollution standards than the rest of the country. Though the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is likely to stop any attempt by the Obama administration to pass climate-control legislation, Hayden explained that Obama "will still be able to make regulations based on California's regulations on alternative energy. It's the one thing we can do something about, so I'm having a hard time joining in the general weeping" from the progressive community about the election outcome.

Though Hayden was personally saddened by some of the results -- notably the defeat of Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, an iconoclastic Democrat who often voted to the Left of his party, by a cookie-cutter Republican -- he said that most of the House Democrats who lost were members of the so-called "Blue Dog" caucus of conservative Democrats. As far as he's concerned, it's goodbye and good riddance to the "Blue Dogs." He was also glad to see all 19 California Congressional candidates endorsed by the ultra-Right "Tea Party" movement lose. "The Democratic Party in the House is smaller, but porobably more liberal, progressive, compact and ready to fight," Hayden said. "Before Speaker John Boehner and his people start investigating Democrats, there'll still be Senators investigating Republicans."

Hayden also noted that for the last 30 to 40 years, neither the Republican nor the Democratic party has been able to improve the living standards of white men -- with the result, he explained, that "white men have perceived that everyone is getting ahead except them. There are some people who might think that's O.K., but politically that becomes the 23 percent of the electorate who are extremely angry and whose violent tendencies are readily stirred. Remmber when the abortion doctor in the Midwest was murdered in the 1990's? I authored a resolution against violence against abortion providers, and it past but it got no Republican votes. One Republican colleague said, 'I couldn't back you on this because those people are all over my district.' There are a lot of militia people under the Republican umbrella that the party has been unwilling to denounce or defund. It's a dangerous time, full speed ahead."

Turning to his advertised topic, the "Long War," Hayden began his talk with a recollection of his own boyhood during World War II, the son of a Marine stationed in San Diego, who "spent my happy childhood looking for Japanese planes on the horizon." Later, when he got into the discussion of the "Long War" he had come to talk about, he described it as a struggle that's lasted ten times longer than the 50 years he's been politically active. "It's the end days of the oppresswion of women, the Crusades against Muslims and the Industrial Revolution that left the world with so much pollution," Hayden said. "We have to move from the heavy hand of the past, and [change] from being dominant to being small-d democrats. More difficult than aspiring to our goals is giving up the power we're supposed to have."

Hayden called the "Long War" something "that threatens to apprehend our futures and our kids' futures. It's a doctrine that replaces the Cold War and says we are in a fight with Muslim fundamentalists for 60 to 80 years in many countries, often in clandestine settings. That's eight Presidential terms [assuming that each President gets re-elected]. People not yet born will be fighting this war. General Petraeus's aide has written a book about it and Andrew Bacevich [a former Reagan defense official turned critic of war and imperialism] has edited a book about it. We aren't aware of this because no one would vote for a Presidential candidate who promised to keep our kids at war for 80 years. By my calculation,. we're in year 9 of a 60- to 80-year war of which Afghanistan and Iraq are 'theatres' in the war." Hayden also said there are 19 other countries in which U.S. forces are fighting campaigns in the "Long War," either openly through the Special Forces or secretly.

According to Hayden, the Afghanistan and Iraq "theatres" of the Long War are winding down, the current focus is on Pakistan -- an ostensible U.S. ally we are regularly attacking with drone aircraft, ostensibly to kill "terrorists" but actually causing civilian casualties -- " and now it's spreading to Yemen. Then it will spread to the Muslim ghettoes of London and Paris. It's madness. It goes on without our knowledge, and since there isn't a draft there's no reason for young people to be concerned. Since it's not paid for in current dollars, it's paid for by increases in the national debt. It's amazing there's any opposition to it at all, and I think that's a legacy of the 1960's that we need to amplify." Hayden talked about the costs of the war, not only in human lives -- he noted that, unlike in Viet Nam, the U.S. isn't even trying to estimate the number of civilians being killed in the countries unlucky enough to become battlefields in the Long War -- but also in dollars. He said the best figures he's seen on the total cost of the Iraq war estimate its final price tag will be something like $3 trillion -- including the cost of lifetime care for the physically and mentally damaged veterans who come home from it -- and cited President Obama's comment to journalist Bob Woodward that Afghanistan will cost $113 billion this year alone as evidence that its ultimate price, too, will exceed $1 trillion.

According to Hayden, the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq are not only unaffordable, they are unwinnable. "We delivered Iraq to Iranian interests at a cost of deserts and rivers of blood," he said. "Afghanistan was a civil war in which we were aligned with India against Pakistan. The U.S. is fervently supporting Hindu nationalists against Muslims in India, while Obama goes to Indonesia to speak to the Muslim world. Obama's policy is causing the certainty of terrorist attacks against the U.S. That is treason. The only thing that stopped the last attempted attack on the U.S. was Saudi Arabia tipping us off. The May Day bomb got through all the U.S. defenses. In Detroit a guy came in with a bomb in his underpants. ... Sooner or later, one of these terrorist attacks will succeed." Hayden said that the military has a firm plan that as soon as another successful terrorist attack occurs in the U.S., they will immediately bomb 150 already selected targets in Pakistan. "There's no measure of how these sites were picked, or if any were nuclear," Hayden explained, "but according to Bob Woodward this has already been decided and even the President is powerless to prevent it."

Hayden said that 1,000 Americans have already died in Afghanistan on Obama's watch, and the cost in American lives is going to get much worse than that. "The total death toll from the 'Long War' on his watch will be 5,000 to 6,000 servicemembers and at least 1,000 private contractors, so we're looking at a total of 10,000 U.S. dead. My argument is only partly moral; we need to know this. Second, we cannot afford these wars. Obama flipped when the military gave him false information, and when he was told the wars would cost $1 trillion or more, he said, 'We can't afford these wars.' The cost of these wars absolutely prohibits any discretionary domestic spending. It's a very successful conservative strategy to divert all government money to the military. ... Just as the Viet Nam war ended the Great Society, the Long War is taking the money away from our domestic agenda. We're back once more on familiar ground, and we need to figure out what to do."

So what do we do? According to Hayden, "We have to educate people about the nature of the Long War. We have to oppose escalation and support de-escalation and a diplomatic peace strategy." He said Obama had a "dichotomous strategy" of escalating the war now in order to be able to de-escalate it again and start bringing troops home in time for the 2012 election. Hayden described 2012 in almost apocalyptic terms, stating that there's already a campaign called "Envision Peace and Justice 2012" and it's supported by 75 percent of all Democrats and 55 percent of all independents even without an organized, visible mass peace movement. The only Americans who truly support the Long War, Hayden added, are "67 percent of Republicans ... who also want to get rid of Obama." Criticizing Obama for his continued overtures and offers to work with Republicans even though they've made it clear that they want nothing to do with him -- Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said at least twice, once before the midterms and once right after, that his main priority for the next two years is making sure Obama is a one-term President -- Hayden said, "Do you want to play up to the people who want to do you in, or do you want to mobilize the people who are on your side?"

Though he acknowledged that there isn't the kind of mass peace movement that arose in the 1960's and ultimately forced the end of the Viet Nam war, Hayden said "there are constituents, grass-roots activists and peace groups in the U.S." that will mobilize either for or against Obama and the Democrats based on what they do about the Long War. "If he thinks the Tea Party is trouble, imagine what will happen with the wars," Hayden said. "If Obama got into trouble with health care, imagine him going into his re-election campaign without his base mobilized. ... We have to focus our minds. The only short-term opportunity we have for peace and social justice is 2012. It's nearer than you think, and it's the one place where what we have of a democracy matters."

Hayden's call to action is essentially for the Left to form Tea Party-like movements of their own and challenge Democrats to become more progressive the way the Tea Parties have successfully moved the Republicans even further to the Right. "It's important that politicians in every district be forced to confront angry people demanding health care, not warfare, and to reserve enough money for our students and our future."