Emil Guillermo: A California blackout, Trump's defiance, and the First Amendment

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The vast majority of Asian Americans live in California, so chances are, you know someone in the grips of what I’m calling “The Great Forced Blackout of October 2019.”

Starting today (Oct. 9, which, coincidentally, is my birthday) Pacific Gas and Electric has blown out my birthday candles, affecting me and maybe 5,000,000 of my closest friends. (Or maybe in honor of Yom Kippur, we are on an electricity fast?)

With high winds causing fire threats to the northern part of California, the only thing the giant public utility can think to do to prevent massive wildfires like last year’s Camp Fire is to shut down the power grid and make us all feel what it’s like to live in a Third World country.

The Philippines has an authoritarian style leader Trump likes. And it has brown outs.

But the state with the world’s 6th largest economy? In the greatest nation in the world?

I used to joke that Donald Trump gaslights so much, he should be president of PG&E. But now I know that would be a terrible idea. He’d only make it worse for California, a state he’s been warring with since he took office.

So we wake up Wednesday with a large part of Northern California in the dark.

In California, the fires are a result of dryness due to—what else? Climate change. And the president is our Denier-in-Chief. Maybe he’s trying to figure out how to make money off the disasters with privatized firefighters, or a fire hose monopoly.

He’s hosing us but good with his misreads.

On top of that, the Turks have begun their assault on the Kurds in Northern Syria after Trump announced we’ve abandoned our loyal Kurdish ISIS-fighters. Trump justified it by saying the U.S. should not be involved in forever wars. The Kurds he’s betrayed were instrumental in stifling endless war.

Even Republicans–like Lindsey Graham–are upset with Trump’s move there.

But they don’t seem upset with that letter Trump sent to Congress on Tuesday proclaiming there will be no cooperation from the White House on the Impeachment Inquiry.

Trump is the only president in history who thinks it’s a good idea to fight impeachment by committing another impeachable act, obstruction of Congress.

How many ways can Trump define abuse of power? The president says no to “checks and balances.” Unless they’re going into his account.

That’s not how it’s supposed to work in America.

The letter shows the president’s insistence that the impeachment is about nullifying the 2016 election! He’s been forgiven for that. But that call to Ukraine, which the president still calls “beautiful” and a “10,” that’s what impeachment is about.

The president asks a foreign power to dig up dirt on his future political rival in exchange for military aid.

That’s just not done.

Maybe you saw this much retweeted comment by Gregg Nunziata, a partner at the high-powered DC law firm Manatt, Phelps, and Phillips, and a former GOP congressional staffer, on that White House letter.

“Wow. This letter is bananas. A barely-lawyered temper tantrum. A middle finger to Congress and its oversight responsibilities. No Member of Congress should accept it, no matter his or her view on the behavior of Pelosi, Schiff, or Trump. Things are bad. Things will get worse.”

A lot of California is in the dark today. But not like the president. And if people don’t start speaking out, he’s going to take out the Constitution like that mythical person on Fifth Ave. he likes to talk about.

AALDEF won a settlement in the case of 23 Chinese owners of takeout restaurants who sued the City of Philadelphia for discriminatory enforcement of after-hours laws. Sometimes the takeouts were shutdown for operating in a residential area after 11 p.m. Sometimes they weren’t. But when they were, they were heavily ticketed. Meanwhile, some non-Asian restaurants that stayed open late were never ticketed at all..

The $265,000 settlement is a small but important victory.

In my 2017 interview with Philadelphia City Council member David Oh, you can see how the origins of this situation go back to 2015.

While I still have lights, (they could go out on PG&E’s whim), I do want to mention one other item.

If you haven’t seen the immigration protestors shouting down Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan (don’t let his Hawaiian middle name fool you), you really must.

It’s a test of wills. Acting Trump temp secretary tries to justify his unjustifiable actions. Protestors expressing their free speech rights.

Ordinarily, I would say, protest, but let’s hear McAleenan.

But do we need to hear what he has to say? He’s a Trump temp. Everything he says is intended to whitewash the unforgiveable and undemocratic actions on the border by the administration.

If McAleenan wants to speak uninterrupted, he shouldn’t be at an academic forum. He should be on the border telling the families why he backs Trump’s outrageous immigration policies. He can speak all day. They’re the ones who need a dialogue.

Back in DC, the protestors had a right to speak and keep speaking loudly. Because they weren’t speaking for themselves. They were speaking for all the children separated and incarcerated. They were speaking for the voiceless.

The protestors didn’t need to shut up. They have that right under that Constitution thing Trump likes to misread, abuse and do away with.

You can watch the video here.

For now, I still have power. But the county where I live is on the list that can go dark at any time. And they say the lights can be out till Tuesday.

Note to self: Charge your batteries. Have a manual can opener (I have five of them). Bottled water. Reuse the birthday candles.

Things will get better.

And just think. The forced blackout may give California what we usually see in any blackouts after nine months. Thanks to Trump, population explosion! (He’ll want to be the godfather.)

Just remember not to turn out the lights on democracy. Keep speaking out. Remember the mantra: “No one is above the law.”

Not even the Gaslighter-in-Chief.

Image by AALDEF

Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. Updates at Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.

The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.

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