Thursday, May 31, 2007

CA-41: Will Jerry Lewis Retire? Does the GOP Have to Worry About It?

Look what I found in Red County-San Bernardino, OC Blog's sister blog in the Inland Empire:

Will embattled 15-term Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis (CD 41) retire from the United States House of Representatives at the conclusion of the 110th Congress? Longtime Capitol Hill reporter Bob Novak is reporting in the Washington, D.C.-based publication Human Events that "both on Capitol Hill and in California, Republicans say that Rep. Jerry Lewis (R) is unlikely to seek re-election."

Really? So the man who probably best served "K Street's Queen of Earmarks" is now stepping down? The sleazy lobbyists might lose their best friend?

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

So what exactly did Robert Novak have to say about the 41st District? Well, here it is:

Both on Capitol Hill and in California, Republicans say that Rep. Jerry Lewis (R) is unlikely to seek re-election. This despite the fact that Lewis is not currently the target of an inquiry, and there have been no new developments in the ethical allegations against him. Lewis won last year with two-thirds of the vote against a token Democrat. Lewis has not tipped his hand at all, yet talk of potential Republican replacements already abounds. Conservative GOP San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus is said to be interested.

Republicans do not want to see either Lewis or Doolittle resign, because they do not want to spend money now on a special election. The money issue will also loom in the general election of 2008, but unless that election goes as badly for the GOP as last year's, Republicans can take heart in the fact that none of California's congressional districts is considered competitive. If there is anywhere you would prefer to have retirements, this is the state.

Wow, so Jerry Lewis is going against the will of fellow Republicans by deciding to retire? But they're not really worried about losing this seat? Maybe they should be.
Republicans may have a sizable registration edge in the district, but it's not insurmountable...
Especially if Democrats have a strong candidates, and perhaps they do...

Democratic possibilities for the 41st include downtown San Bernardino lawyer Tim Prince, who has pledged to run for the seat only in the event of a Lewis retirement. Prince's last stand for elective office was a failed attempt at the mayoralty of the city of San Bernardino.

And CQ seems to be taking him seriously as a threat to the GOP's possibly tenuous hold on this district, thanks to Lewis and all his scandal.

So would any of these Republicans have to put up a real fight to hold this seat? Perhaps. Look at how Brian Bilbray had to struggle to win in what was supposed to be a "safe Republican" seat. Look at how John Doolittle had to struggle in his "safe seat" last year. And so far, things aren't looking any better for Republicans today. Maybe they'll have another Congressional seat about in California, after all.

AD 54: Step Up for Jim Brandt

OK, I just saw this on The Liberal OC, and I think I should share this with all the rest of you. Remember when I told you that Jim Brandt is running for the State Assembly in the 54th District, where Betty Karnette is termed out?

Well, Jim is looking for some help. He actually is looking forward to winning this race and serving the people of Long Beach, San Pedro, and Palos Verdes in Sacramento, but he can't win this thing alone. If you're in this area, then perhaps it's time for YOU to step up and help Jim out!

Here's the email that Jim recently sent to supporters:

We’re launching the ground campaign for Jim Brandt for Assembly! We’ve targeted precincts throughout the 54th Assembly district, and we need you to Step Up for Brandt and help get them covered.

At the core of Jim’s campaign is the need for healthcare for all and building a healthier California. Studies show that walking is the best way to get healthier. With our Step Up for Brandt campaign, you can get healthier and help Jim at the same time!

Next weekend, June 9-10, the Step Up for Brandt campaign will launch with a literature drop to Democrats in our targeted precincts.

Here’s where you come in: We need you to adopt the targeted precinct closest to you and reach out to Democrats to let them know about Jim Brandt for Assembly. Once we’ve matched you to a precinct, our Field Operations Coordinator, Marc Barron, will get you all the training and materials you’ll need.

To join the Step Up for Brandt Team, reply to this email or contact Marc directly at

P.S. If you are unable to walk a precinct, we still need your help! Please contact Marc and let him know what you can do for Jim Brandt for Assembly (writing letters, making phone calls, tabling, etc.).

Jim has what it takes to win this slightly Democratic district. Remember his good fight against Crazy Dana Rohrabacher in the 46th Congressional Race last year? If he can take on Crazy Dana, then he can win this race! But again, not without your help!

If you want to help Jim win, please send an email to He's counting on a few good people to help him get to Sacramento and fight the good fight for the people of South LA County! : )

A Bubbling Cauldron at UC Irvine?

Last night, UCI Chancellor Michael Drake met with Jewish students to discuss the recent unrest on campus. Here's what The OC Register has to say about it:

UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake told several hundred concerned Jewish community members Wednesday night to join in on discussions and work together against what he calls isolated incidents of anti-Jewish speech by outsiders on campus.

Drake answered questions during a 90-minute town hall meeting at Shir Ha-Ma'alot in Irvine addressing concerns about what the Jewish community calls ongoing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity on UCI's campus.

"We promote dialogue, understanding, growth and tolerance at UCI," Drake said. "I'd like to enlist all of you in working with me to make Jewish life on campus as strong as possible."

So what's happening on campus? Is there an anti-Jewish problem on campus? Is there an anti-Muslim problem on campus? Why is UCI becoming such a hotbed of controversy? Follow me down below for more...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

So what exactly is happening at UCI? Jewish groups on campus have been complaining about anti-Semitic incidents for quite some times now. Pajamas Media likes to call what's happening an "intifada" against Jews on campus. The Jewish Journal asks if UCI is a hotbed of anti-Semitic harassment. So is there an anti-Semitic problem at UCI?

But wait, is this all that's happening? After all, the very same Muslim Student Union that is being accused of being behind all this harassment is itself claiming harassment. In fact, police are still investigating the charge that an FBI agent threatened a Muslim student who was just taking down a protest wall on campus. And most recently, the folks at Red County/OC Blog accused the Muslim Student Union of "preaching terror on campus", even though The Daily Pilot found no anti-Semitism and no incitement to "terrorism" at the event in question. If anything, it seemed like it was the commenters on the OC Blog story preaching hate.

So what's the problem? Why do both sides feel so victimized? Perhaps there are incidents of radical extremists targeting Jews on campus. Perhaps there are right-wing extremists who seek to stir trouble with the Muslims on campus. Perhaps the controversy at UCI is getting way out of control. What can be done to quell the controversy? What can be done to reconcile the differences between the Jewish groups and the Muslim groups on campus? Why is the conflict at UCI almost reaching Israeli-Palestinean levels of intensity?

Hopefully, UCI Chancellor Drake and the administration can come up with a solution here. Something has to be done to address this bubbling cauldron. Something has to be done to stop this from bubbling past the boiling point.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

State Senate Passes Voter Registration Fraud Prevention Bill

H/T to Orange Juice for this!

The California State Senate recently voted to pass SB 812, Lou Correa's (D-Santa Ana) legislation that would stop the type of "bounty hunting" that the Orange County Republican Party used to illegally switch unsuspecting Democratic and Independent voters to Republican against their will. Finally, something is being done to put a halt to this nasty practice!

Follow me after the flip for more on this important legislation, and how we can help it become law...

So what exactly would this legislation do? Here is how the Legislative Counsel explains it:

This bill would prohibit any person, company, or other
organization, except state political parties that reimburse their
central committees and clubs on a per-affidavit basis, from agreeing
to pay money or other valuable consideration on a per-affidavit basis
to any person who assists another person to register to vote by
receiving the completed affidavit of registration, would prohibit the
receipt of this per-affidavit consideration, and would make
conforming changes. A violation of these prohibitions would be an infraction, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

Wow, so that sounds good! So what happens next?

Now, this bill moves to the State Assembly. And if you'd like to end the type of bounty hunting that was part of the dirty tricks used by Orange County Republicans to win our competitive 34th State Senate seat (now Lou Correa's), you can contact your Assembly Member and ask him/her to support SB 812. Now this type of illegal behavior occurred in Orange County last year, but this practice isn't limited to Orange County.

We need to ensure that this illegal act doesn't happen ANYWHERE in the state. That's why we need Lou Correa's legislation that would work to prevent this. Let's help Lou get this passed, and let's protect the voters in this state. : )

Get Active for Change With Obama OC!

Check out Obama OC's web site for more on how you can get involved in the Barack Obama campaign here in Orange County! : )

Were you inspired by what Barack Obama had to say to Democrats in San Diego last month? Have you been amazed by all the grassroots energy behind the Obama campaign in California? Are you captivated by the Illinois Senator and what he's accomplished? And would you now like to get involved?

Well, if you're in Orange County, there are plenty of opportunities coming up for you to get involved!

Tonight at 7:00 PM, we'll be having our Obama OC Countywide Volunteer Meeting. We'll be talking about what we can do here in OC to spread Barack Obama's message of hope, action, and change. And of course, we'll be talking about upcoming actions such as the "Walk for Change" canvasses!

So what can we expect on these canvass walks? Here's how the folks at Obama for America explain it:

Think of a canvass as a neighborhood walk. Canvasses happen when a group of people get together and go door to door to homes and apartments in a selected neighborhood to spread the message about Barack Obama.

Movements are created one person, one house at a time. One or two individuals can canvass an entire neighborhood and build real support for our campaign to change America.

Your goal in the canvass is to make personal connections with other people who might not know as much about Barack Obama. You are the face of the campaign in your community.

So do you want to be the face of the Obama campaign in your community? Do you want to talk to your neighbors about this different kind of campaign? Would you like to make connections with other people in your area who may not know very much about Barack Obama? Well, then June 9 is your chance to walk for change!

Well, before you get out and walk for change, please check out these events coming up!

Beach Cities for Obama Planning Meeting on June 2 at 12:00 PM in Huntington Beach

New Hampshire Debate Watching Party on June 3 at 6:00 PM in Huntington Beach

Walk for Change Training on June 6 at 7:00 PM in Orange

And here are some of the many Walk for Change events happening in Orange County:

Santa Ana at 9:30 AM

Orange at 12:00 PM

Huntington Beach at 12:00 PM

Los Alamitos at 10:00 AM

Fullerton at 12:00 PM

Irvine at 11:00 AM

Laguna Beach at 12:00 PM

Lake Forest at 11:00 AM

Laguna Niguel at 9:00 AM

So are you ready to get out and make some change?! : )

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Random Monday Evening Musings

What's on your mind tonight? I'm still thinking about what happened at the Strawberry Festival. Oh yes, and I'm noticing the wild speculation about a possibly EXPENSIVE Republican Primary in AD 73. Oh, and I also still have Orange County property values on my mind. So what's going on in your corner of the world tonight?

What are you thinking about? : )

MTA v. OCTA: Who's Making Who Look Bad?

OK, I just saw this latest piece of folly from every one's favorite Republican Insider, Jubal/Matt Cunningham of Red County/OC Blog:

The Los Angeles Times published a truly remarkable article today: "MTA Fears A Bottleneck At OC Line."

Basically, Metropolitan Transportation Authority is complaining the Orange County Transportation Authority's ongoing program of freeway widening is making MTA look bad. OCTA's freeway-centered investment collides with MTA's lightrail-centered priorities at the LA-OC county line in the form of traffic bottlenecks. It's a vivid illustration of the different outcomes of the two agencies priorities.

OCTA has funneled its money into transportation modes the vast majority of people actually use: freeway and roads. As a result, our freeways move faster than those in Los Angeles. The MTA, by contrast, has prioritized its money into modes of public transit that far fewer people use, i.e. light rail. Or as OCTA Director Jerry Amante put it:

"We build lanes, not trains."

And we're supposed to be proud of that? OK, so widened freeways may be useful in relieving traffic in the short-term. As long as we have all these cars on the road, we have to have something for them to drive on. But really, wouldn't some long-term solutions also help here?

Follow me down below for more as I explain why OCTA shouldn't exactly be gloating over this...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

So why should LA County MTA not feel so bad about not keeping up with the freeway expansion happening across the county line in Orange County? Perhaps because MTA has surpassed all the other transportation agencies in Southern California in mass transit? After all, MTA was named "America's Best Public Transportation System" due to record high ridership, very high commuter satisfaction, and the amazing success of the Orange Line rapid bus service in the San Fernando Valley. MTA should really be proud of the high quality of transit service that they offer to Los Angeles County.

But what do I know about this? What does some "crazy environazi, anti-car zealot" from Orange County know about how successful MTA has been with its transit lines in Los Angeles? Well, I actually use the subway and the bus whenever I'm in Los Angeles, and boy is it great! I can take the Red Line from Downtown LA to Hollywood, and I never have to wait too long for a train as there's one about every 10 minutes. I can take the 720 Rapid Bus down Wilshire Blvd. from Koreatown to Santa Monica, and I can be at the pier in about 45 minutes. That actually isn't bad when compared to the nasty congestion often seen on the freeways (with OR without widening). And even late at night, I'm never stranded as there are now 24-hour bus routes throughout LA. Just look at the MTA system map, and try to tell me that Los Angeles County's transit agency isn't doing a terrific job of moving people.

Obviously, LA County has figured out the secret to success in not just relieving traffic, but also reducing air pollution and doing something to stop the climate catastrophe. We all know that our vehicles emit much of the carbon dioxide that's causing climate change. So what can we do about it? Well, how about riding the clean, efficient local mass transit service?! And with all these people riding Metro buses and trains, LA County MTA really is doing its part to fight climate change. But of course, pollutions isn't the only thing that's reduced by all this mass transit service. We have to realize that more people using these buses and trains also means FEWER CARS ON THE STREETS AND FREEWAYS. And fewer cars on the streets and freeways means LESS TRAFFIC! If anything, LA County is really

Now compare and contrast what Los Angeles County is doing to Orange County's preferred "traffic relief" plan. Now yes, we do have buses. And yes, there is Metrolink rail service to Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. However, our transit network in Orange County doesn't really cover the whole region like what MTA is trying to do in LA County. Perhaps this is because our transportation "solutions" have been centered on expanding freeways and streets. And oh yes, let's not forget the toll roads. Now don't get me wrong, roads are important. And so long as we have all these cars on the road, we have to improve our roads to help people with their commutes. However, this is only a short-term solution.

Over the long term, we can't sustain all these cars on all these roads. So long as we continue developing farther and farther away from urban cores, and all we do about this is build more roads that only spark more development, we'll never see long-term traffic relief. This is why we need smarter development and smarter transportation planning. And when it comes to smarter transportation planning, Los Angeles County is doing this. If we want long-term traffic relief, environmental health, and an overall better community, we need to figure out how to take these cars off the road and get people moving in a more efficient manner.

This is why Jubal/Matt shouldn't be gloating about temporary bottlenecks in South LA County. LA County MTA might have a temporary problem that they will have to solve by improving the 5 and 405, but they are implementing a long-term solution to their overall traffic problem by expanding bus and commuter rail options. Hopefully one day soon, more people here in Orange County will push OCTA to do the same.

Monday, May 28, 2007

OC Republican Consultant/Rock Star Gets a New Job

Remember Jimmy Camp? He was the tattooed punk rocker and Republican political consultant who helped Janet Nguyen during the Special Election for County Supervisor. But now, hge has a new job. Total Buzz has all the details on Jimmy Camp's new job at the California Department of Fish and Game. Oh yes, check out the new "Smokey the Bear" hat that he intends to wear! : )

Is This Why We Fight?

When will American Jews wake up to the absolute wickedness of the Islamic religion. Every single follower of Islam: man, woman, and child, is taught nothing but such anti-semitism from the second they are born. The death cult of Mohammed is the biggest threat to American Jewry.

It would be a great service if Amir Abdul-Malik Ali would tell us how to recognize a Zionist Jew when wrapped from head to foot like a Muslim terrorist. If someone looking like that emerged out of the restroom on an airplane, it would be comforting to know that it is only some Jewish guy trying to make Muslims look bad. Then I can go back to reading my magazine.

These are just a couple of the many hate-filled comments that can be found on the recent Red County/OC Blog, which have now been "reprinted" at The Liberal OC. Now these folks were accusing the Muslim Student Union at UCI of inciting hatred by inviting a Muslim cleric to speak about the Israeli-Palestinean conflict. However, look at this video and try to find any "hate speech". Maybe they're just looking in the wrong direction.

But look at this. The Orange County Human Relations Commission reported in its 2006 annual report on hate crimes that attacks targeting Arab/Middle-Eastern/Muslim Americans have DOUBLED in the past year. And worse yet, the OC Human Relations Commission suggests that this may be due to the Iraq War.

Wait! Hold on here! Is this why we fight? Follow me down below for more...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

Now on this Memorial Day today, we remember our fallen soldiers. We honor their fight to preserve our freedom. We honor their commitment to this land of liberty and justice for all.

So why must House Minority Leader John Boehner defile the US House of Representatives with such a bizarre and downright psychotic cry?

“After 3,000 of our fellow citizens died at the hands of these terrorists, when are we going to stand up and take them on? When are we going to defeat ‘em?” demanded Boehner. “Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, if we don’t do it now, and if we don’t have the courage to defeat this enemy, we will long, long regret it. So thank you for the commitment to get the job done today.”

But wait, I thought we were fighting in Iraq for freedom. Didn't Bush even say that as he admitted that there was no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda before the war? OK, so we know that this isn't why we're in Iraq, either. Whatever reason Bush gives as to why we're in Iraq, we can count on it being wrong. That's why Bush should have never started this war in the first place.

But anyways, back to the point of the matter. Are we really fighting to "take on" the Muslims? Are we fighting to just kill them all? Are we fighting to conquer the Muslim World for the sake of the Christian faith? I don't think that's why our soldiers want to serve this nation. I think they want to serve because they believe in the innately American value of freedom of religion. I think they want to serve to defend our Constitution.

Why can't John Boehner and the OC Blog critters just pay attention to Chris Prevatt at The Liberal OC?

There are radicals on all sides of all issues in this world. It is wrong, simply wrong, to paint people of a particular faith, or people of a particular race as terrorists and promoters of hate. The actions of a few, do not speak as the actions of all.

Mr. Boehner, Shawn Steel, Barry, coach, Debbie, and El Liberdator, just because a person is Muslim; just because a person is Arab; just because a person does not look or believe as you do; does not mean that he, or she, or their countrymen and women, are terrorists who must be destroyed.

Mr. Boehner, you are preaching hate on the floor of the United States Congress. I am ashamed that you have a position of power in our country. The rest of you are just simply a disgrace.

So is this why we fight? Are we fighting to defend America from those evil terrorists who want to turn us all into tree-hugging homosexual peaceniks? Check out this story from the AP Wire:

The Alabama Department of Homeland Security has taken down a Web site it operated that included gay rights and anti-war organizations in a list of groups that could include terrorists.

The Web site identified different types of terrorists, and included a list of groups it believed could spawn terrorists. The list also included environmentalists, animal rights advocates and abortion opponents. [...]

Howard Bayliss, chairman of the gay and lesbian advocacy group Equality Alabama, said he doesn't understand why gay rights advocates would be on the list.

"Our group has only had peaceful demonstrations. I'm deeply concerned we've been profiled in this discriminatory matter," Bayliss said.

The site included the groups under a description of what it called "single-issue" terrorists. That group includes people who feel they are trying to create a better world, the Web site said. It said that in some communities, law enforcement officers consider certain single issue groups to be a threat.

Is this why we fight? Are we fighting so that our government can define our freedom of speech as "terrorism"? When did environmental advocacy and speaking up for equal rights for all suddenly become acts of terror? When "single-issue" advocacy become "single-issue" terrorism?

I don't get it. As I'm sitting here on Memorial Day, I'm remembering those Revolutionary soldiers who fought for independence from the British Empire. I'm remembering those Civil War soldiers who fought to end slavery. I'm remembering those World War II soldiers who fought the Nazi occupation of Europe and the Japanese occupation of East Asia. Didn't they all fight for freedom? Didn't they fight for liberty and justice for all?

I don't think our brave soldiers are fighting so that a few hateful individuals can strike fear in the hearts of American Muslims. I don't think they are fighting so that gay rights activists and environmentalists can be classified as "terrorists". And no, I don't think that they are fighting so that George W. Bush and his good friends can evade the fact that they made a grave mistake.

This shouldn't be why we fight.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Former OC Legislator Marian Bergeson Skydives for Her 83rd Birthday

No really, Former State Senator Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach) is taking the dive! Bergeson was the first Republican woman to serve in the State Assembly, and then in the State Senate. More recently, Arnold appointed her to head the California Transportation Commission. The last time she took a dive was 12 years ago, when she wanted to do something special to celebrate the passage of the state budget on time. And my goodness, what a way to celebrate! ; )

Remembering on Memorial Day

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. It's the day when we remember all the brave troops who gave their lives for the things that we cherish the most about America. Our freedom. Our liberties. Our way of life. Thanks to all the sacrifices of the past, we are the nation that we are today.

But what's the true meaning of Memorial Day today? Here's what Orange Juice's Art Pedroza found out about Memorial Day:

"It was formerly known as Decoration Day. This holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War."

"After World War I, it expanded to include those who died in any war or military action. One of the longest standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911." [...]

Memorial Day is especially poignant this year given the sheer number of U.S. soldiers who are actively engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other U.S. bases throughout Europe and Asia.

So what does Memorial Day mean for us today? It means that we honor the brave soldiers who are giving their all in Afghanistan and Iraq for all the American values that we cherish. George W. Bush may not have sent out troops to war for the right reasons, but I know that our troops are serving our nation for the right reasons. They believe in this country. They hold our American values near and dear. They are what's right about this nation.

So what should we do tomorrow? Let's remember all these brave soldiers. Let's honor these courageous souls. If you're in Orange County, check out Orange Juice's list of Memorial Day services in the community tomorrow. If you're somewhere else in the state, find out what's happening in your town. And if you have other plans in mind for the day, just take some time out of your busy day to remember all of those who have lost their lives while in service to our country.

Sometimes, it's so easy to forget the human costs of war. It's so easy to forget during Memorial Day when we fire up the bratwursts on the grill and lather the sunscreen on the kids before they jump in the pool. It's so easy to forget when we watch C-SPAN, and we watch the politicians debate which bill will get our troops out of Iraq's chaotic civil war faster. It's so easy to forget when we watch Bush on the teevee, blathering on about how we're fighting the terrorists there so that they don't find us here, or about how we're building some democracy in the Middle East that the people there don't even want, or about some new half-truth or outright lie about why we're in Iraq. We must remember that tomorrow isn't about them. Tomorrow's about the troops who lost their lives in service to their nation.

Tomorrow's about the troops. Let's remember them tomorrow. And after tomorrow, let's truly honor the troops that are still with us today by working to end Bush's failed war. But in the mean time, let's just stop. Let's stop and remember.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why Doesn't Gary Miller Want to End This War?

How many of you get the "Capitol Connection"? It's Gary Miller's weekly newsletter. You can sign up to have it delivered in your email inbox every Friday at Gary Miller's official Congressional web site.

But anyways, in his latest newsletter Miller tries to explain his latest vote to continue George W. Bush's failed war in Iraq through the summer:

After more than a hundred days of delay, the House on Thursday finally passed a responsible troop funding bill to meet the needs of our men and women in uniform. The measure funds ongoing combat operations in the War on Terror and protects members of our military from harm by providing added funds for body armor and mine resistant vehicles. Congressman Miller was proud to support this bill because, unlike previous legislation, it does not tie the hands of our commanders on the ground or set a date for surrender. Following passage by the Senate, the bill now heads to the President’s desk where it is expected to be signed into law shortly.

(Cross-posted at Calitics and Trash Dirty Gary)

Meet the needs of our men and women in uniform? Added funds for body armor and mine resistant vehicles? Tie the hands of commanders on the ground? Bush didn't provide for ANY of that until the Democrats in Congress offered legislation that fully supported the troops. But of course, Bush could not sign that legislation because that legislation also included provisions that would redeploy our troops out of Bush's failed war in Iraq and refocus our resources on actually combating terrorism.

Bush's stubbornness, which was enabled by members of Congress like Gary Miller who sustained Bush's veto of this important legislation, has resulted in this final legislation. And while it does provide for better equipment for our troops than Bush initially wanted, it still keeps them stuck in the midst of a civil war that our troops shouldn't be involved in. Thanks to Miller and all his colleagues who sustained Bush's veto, more of our brave soldiers will be dying for a failed state that George Bush created.

So why doesn't Gary Miller want to end this war? Why does he want to waste more of our tax dollars on George Bush's misguided attempt to promote "democracy" on the Middle East by gunpoint? Why does he want any more of our brave troops to die for a cause that we can't even determine any more? Why doesn't Gary Miller want to end this war?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Come to the Strawberry Festival!

Hey, now! Guess what's happening this weekend? Yes, it's that time again. It's the Strawberry Festival! Starting today, and continuing through Memorial Day Monday, Downtown Garden Grove will be berry, berry fun!

And guess what? It gets better! The Democratic Party will be at the festival, too! Look for the pretty booth with the big Democratic banner. Oh yes, and if you're free this weekend and you want to help, the schedule's still open!

Here's the email I got from the Democratic Party of Orange County:

The Democratic Party of Orange County needs your help! We need volunteers to help staff our Voter Registration and Information booth at the 49th Annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival.

Admission is free. This festival is the second largest city festival in the Western United States. It's held at the Village Green between Main Street and Euclid Avenue in downtown Garden Grove. Festival opens Friday evening, May 25th with the ceremonial cutting of the world's largest strawberry shortcake which is served free to over 2,000 people attending.

To volunteer to staff the booth for the Democratic Party, please contact the event volunteer coordinator, Marko Markovich at (714) 964-5514 or

Come on, now! You know you want to come to the Strawberry Festival. Where else can you have such a berry good time? ; )

My Official Thank You to Loretta Sanchez

Here's the letter that I just wrote to Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), thanking her for voting against the Iraq Supplemental Spending Bill:

Thank you, Congresswoman Sanchez, for voting against the defense supplemental spending bill that authorizes George W. Bush to continue his failed war in Iraq. As someone who lives here in Orange County and who has friends who recently returned from Iraq, I very much appreciate your commitment to REAL support for our troops.

If Bush and the Republicans truly support the troops, they would not block the efforts of the Democratic Congress to bring them home safely and soon. I'm glad that you and most other Democrats see that. I just hope that when Bush comes back to Congress for more money for Iraq in September, that your Republican colleagues in Washington stop thwarting the will of American people, and they start doing what's really best for the troops and for this nation. This war must end.

Thank you, Congresswoman Sanchez, for your tireless advocacy for our troops. And thank you so much for all you recent votes to end this failed war and bungled occupation in Iraq. I'm glad that we in Orange County can truly count on you to do what's best for our troops and our community.

If you're also a voter in California's 47th Congressional District, write a letter to Loretta thanking her for her vote. If you're not in the 47th, go here to write your Representative. And if you don't know how your member voted on this bill, here's the Roll Call vote. make sure that your voice is heard.

Disclosure? Distraction? Confusion? Contribution?

Brian Joseph has a frightening tale for us in today's "Capitol Watchdog" column in The OC Register. He was just trying to figure out how much the County of Orange was spending on lobbying expenses. He ended up diving into a maze of total confusion.

I had downloaded lobbying expenditures from the Secretary of State’s Web site and found that over a little more than six and half years the County of Orange had spent $5.1 million on lobbying – more than the Irvine Co., Pacific Life Insurance and the Walt Disney Co. combined.
According to the state’s official numbers, Orange County ranked 32nd out of 4,321 lobbying interests, just seven spots behind British Petroleum ($5.9 million) and 10 behind Verizon ($6 million).

Wow. Doesn't that sound crazy? Well, what if I told you that Orange County ACTUALLY DIDN'T spend $5.1 million on lobbying? Follow me after the flip for more on this story of disclosure gone wild...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

Hold on a moment. So Orange County didn't spend $5.1 million on lobbying Sacramento? Well, it depends on how one counts the money.

Digging much deeper, I found the state’s reporting standards for government agencies differ from other lobbying interests. Governments, unlike other groups, are required to report membership dues to organizations that spend more than $15,000 or 10 percent of their annual expenditures on lobbying. So while a county has to count its membership fee to a politically active chamber of commerce, a business doesn’t have to.
That might not sound like a big deal, but $3.5 million, or nearly 70 percent, of Orange County’s reported lobbying expenses appear to be membership fees or other organizational costs. Over the six full years I examined, Orange County spent an average of $560,000 annually on fees to a total of more than 150 organizations. Only about $1.5 million went to direct lobbying.

$3.5 MILLION?! Is there really a $3.5 million discrepancy between what the county might have actually spent on lobbying and what the county has to report to the state on lobbying expenses? Is this for real?

Moreover, some organizations charge different dues depending on the size of the member. In 2005 and 2006, for example, Orange County paid a total of $333,051 to the California State Association of Counties while Contra Costa County, a third of Orange County’s size, paid the organization $110,496.
Then there’s over-reporting. Governments, not surprisingly, might not know whether an organization meets the $15,000 or 10 percent lobbying threshold. So in the interest of full disclosure, I’m told some agencies report dues to all organizations – regardless of whether they qualify.
All of which makes the state’s publicly available numbers grossly misleading.
You can compare expenses for businesses and other groups, but you can’t accurately compare them to governments or even compare one government to another. You could, I suppose, read the fine print and subtract membership dues, but that also could eliminate costs for indirect lobbying.

So then, what good are these numbers? What good are these numbers if they can't give us an accurate representation of how much our local governments are actually spending on lobbying Sacramento? What good are these numbers if we can't compare how much my local governments is spending to how much your local government is spending?

Now I guess disclosure is good. It's good for us to know how much money our local government is spending on lobbying expenses. But then again, what good are these numbers if they don't give us an accurate portrayal of what's actually happening?

Maybe Shirley Grindle is right...

“In my book, ‘disclosure’ … is just another word for confusing the public. Just give ‘em a bunch of numbers that don’t make any sense.”

Is Shirley Grindle right? Is disclosure just meant to confuse us? Is there a better way to disclose? What do you think?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thank You, Loretta Sanchez, to Wanting to End This War

My member of Congress, Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), did something pretty amazing yesterday. She voted against four additional months of funding for Bush's failed war in Iraq. She actually stood up and voted against keeping our brave troops in the middle of someone else's civil war for any longer. Loretta did the right thing, and as a constituent I am proud.

Now unfortunately, she was not in the majority. The Republicans were nearly unanimous in voting to continue George W. Bush's failed war. In the House, they were able to pull away enough Democrats to succeed in passing a bill that gives Bush four more months of carte blanche. That was enough to send the bill to the Senate, where it passed with bipartisan support.

This is a bittersweet moment for me. I am proud that my Congresswoman did the right thing yesterday. I am proud that the vast majority of California Democrats did the right thing in the House yesterday. I am proud that Senator Barbara Boxer was one of fourteen in the Senate to do thr right thing. However, I am NOT proud that Congressional Republicans would not budge in allowing Democrats to override Bush's veto of legislation that would have actually put an end to this ridiculous war. They enabled Bush to succeed yesterday in temporarily thwarting the will of the American people.

Even though I am proud of what my Congresswoman did yesterday in listening to what the wishes of Orange County voters and the will of American voters, I am ashamed that most of Congress would not listen.

Now this is not the first time when Loretta Sanchez has demonstrated real courage on the House floor. She voted against the "PATRIOT" Act that has done nothing to secure this country, and everything to destroy our Constitutional rights. She voted against authorizing that invasion of Iraq that Bush so wanted. She voted against the "Partial Birth Abortion" Ban Act that did nothing to save lives, and only succeeded in destroying women's reproductive rights. She voted against the "PATRIOT" Act again when it came up for reauthorization in 2005. She voted against a "Secure Fence" Act that did nothing to solve our immigration problem. And last fall, she voted against the Military Commissions Act that allowed Bush to completely disregard the Constitution. When others took the easy way out, Loretta Sanchez stood up and made the tough choices. She voted her conscience, and voted for what's best for this district and this nation.

And of course, Loretta's courage doesn't fade away when she leaves the House floor. She has stood strong against human rights abuses in Vietnam. She even traveled to Vietnam to meet with the wives of jailed political dissidents, only to have the Vietnamese government block them from even seeing her. She stood strong for preserving our precious natural resources when she helped pass the Davis Amendment in the Armed Services Committee, ensuring that Trestles beach is protected and that TCA obeys state law in extending the 241 Toll Road. Even when the Orange County business lobby was putting pressure on her to vote against this amendment, Loretta fought for the rule of law and for the protection of our coast and our environment... AND SHE WON (and so did we)!

Sometimes Loretta wins the fights, and so do we. Sometimes, we don't. Unfortunately yesterday, we didn't win. However, Loretta stood strong. And I am still proud.

This failed war and bungled occupation of Iraq has been a complete disaster for this nation, and for Iraq. George Bush has now created a humanitarian crisis in Iraq. He has caused so much pain and suffering for all the families who have lost loved ones in this war. Iraq has descended into complete civil war, and this occupation is doing nothing to help the situation. This war needs to end. We cannot allow Bush to simply "shift tone" on Iraq while he only continues his same old failed strategy.

So I hope Loretta Sanchez continues to work to end this war. I hope that all her Democratic colleagues do the same. When the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Authorization bill comes up in Septmeber, I hope that they turn up the pressure on the Congressional Republicans to not enable George Bush to continue thwarting the will of the American people. The people want this war to end. Loretta Sanchez knows this, and so do most Congressional Democrats. I guess I also hope that more Republicans start to realize that, too.

Can California Save the Planet (And Itself)?

I just finished reading Jonathan Adler's take in National Review Online on California's request to the federal government that they allow the state to enact tough tailpipe emissions standards that would curb the emission of the greenhouse gases causing climate change. Now I may not agree with what he has to say later, but at least Adler gets the facts right early on (mostly).

California Attorney General Jerry Brown came to Washington this week, urging the federal government to let California impose the first regulations on greenhouse-gas emissions from automobiles. The Golden State has adopted regulations under which automakers must reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from new cars sold in California beginning in 2009. By 2016, new vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions must decline by nearly 30 percent. If the federal government won’t take decisive action on climate change, Brown declared, “California will take action.”

The problem for California is that it cannot enforce its new regulations without a waiver of federal law. Under the federal Clean Air Act, states are generally precluded from adopting their own vehicle-emission standards. According to Congress, regulating motor vehicles is a federal job. California gets special treatment, however. California is authorized to seek a waiver of federal law when it adopts vehicle-emission regulations. Once a waiver is obtained, and only then, other states may follow suit.

So why can't California get a waiver? Adler says that the state is stepping to much on the federal government's toes when it comes to the state doing what the feds are supposed to do. Follow me down below as I explain why Adler is wrong here...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

So what's so bad about what Adler has to say? He seems to know his law here:

California’s special status in air-pollution law dates to the early days of federal environmental regulation. California adopted the nation’s first vehicle-emission standards in the 1960s. Afraid that other states would soon follow suit, the automakers went to Washington, D.C. seeking a uniform federal standard that would preempt the states. The automakers hoped they would get less stringent rules from Washington, D.C., but preferred a tighter federal rule than a polyglot of state rules. From the automakers’ perspective, it was essential that a car rolling off an assembly line in Pontiac, Michigan, could be sold in any state.

Yes, this is true. California did adopt vehicle emissions standards some five years before the federal government did. And yes, the federal government later adopted nationwide standards on vehicle emissions. However recognizing that California did this first, the federal government allowed California to continue setting its own standards, just so long as they are at least as strong as federal standards. And always, California standards have been stronger than federal standards.

So why can't California adopt tough standards to curb global climate change?

The waiver provision was designed to ensure that California could adopt tighter emission controls where necessary for California cities to meet federal air-quality standards. California had the worst air pollution in the nation, and there was a strong argument that what would clear the air in Houston or Chicago might not work so well in southern California. So, over the past 30 years, California sought and obtained tens of waivers to help control soot and smog. In each case, California could argue that more stringent auto-emission rules were necessary to meet the “extraordinary conditions” that California faced.

Global climate change, however, is a global phenomenon. The relevant airshed is not the Los Angeles basin or South Coast Air Quality Management District, but the global atmosphere. The degree of warming experienced by California is a consequence of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, not local conditions or controls.

California may face specific threats from the effects of global warming, but the climate-forcing of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is dispersed throughout the world.

Oh, really? Now yes, climate change is a global phenomenon. So California doesn't face any specific threats from global climate change?

Another problem for California’s case is that adopting new car-emission standards will have no meaningful effect on the climate-related threats that California fears. Even once California’s standards are adopted in a dozen states, this will do nothing to reduce the threat of sea-level rise that Californians’ face. That climate change may present a “compelling” threat to the nation or the world is not relevant as a legal matter, as the Clean Air Act proscribes other considerations. California was granted the ability to seek waivers to enact measures addressing pollution problems in California, not a roving authority to drive environmental policy for the nation as a whole.

Hold on, Mr. Adler! Actually, those greenhouse gases are contributing to the rise in sea level that would threaten our state. And yes, this is a real threat! And oh yes, it's already happening! And yes, it's more than just the sea level. Look at the flooding in Marin County. Look at what's happening in the Delta. Look at the bizarre deep freeze in much of Orange County this winter.

Obviously, climate change is something that something that our federal government needs to tackle. The US Supreme Court even recognizes that now! However, Bush has refused to act. And in the mean time, places like California are suffering the consequences! So why doesn't the state government have the right to protect its citizens by taking action against climate change?

I never thought I'd say this, but I agree with Arnold here [writing with Governor Jodi Rell (R-Connecticut)]:

(From Washington Post)

There can be little debate anymore on whether the effects of climate change constitute a looming threat to the public's health and welfare.

Republicans and Democrats in statehouses around the country have already spoken loudly that federal inaction on climate change is unacceptable and have acted on their own initiative.

Whether it is Northeastern states uniting to reduce greenhouse gases from electric generators or Western states looking to reduce emissions throughout the economy, momentum is building everywhere but in Washington. The federal government should not stand in the way of dealing with the most serious environmental challenge facing the world.

While the United States represents just 5 percent of the world's population, it produces 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.

With the landmark legislation authored by former assemblywoman Fran Pavley and passed in 2002, California demonstrated that it is serious about cutting down these emissions from cars. Connecticut also has a strong record on greenhouse gas reduction, which includes adoption of California's tough standards for vehicle tailpipe emissions.

California, Connecticut and a host of like-minded states are proving that you can protect the environment and the economy simultaneously.

It's high time the federal government becomes our partner or gets out of the way.

So why can't California take action on a global climate phenomenon that is already harming the people of this state? Why can't the state regulate the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing all this trouble? Why shouldn't the EPA give California a waiver to take action and reduce these dangerous emissions?

It's high time the State of California is allowed to stop the global climate catastrophe that's causing real harm in this state. And it's time to allow these other states to follow California's lead. It's just too bad that Bush won't allow the federal government to do the same. I guess that's why these states need to take action in the first place.

Mike Carona: An Officer & A Sleazebag

Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona appointed 86 political allies, campaign contributors, friends and relatives to the sheriff's reserve program soon after he was elected in January 1999, a supervisor who once ran the program said in a deposition released Wednesday.

Ah, the sheriff! Yes, the one who sexually harasses his female staff members! Yes, the one who loves to hang out with THE LAS VEGAS MAFIA! Yes, the one who breached the county's top-secret anti-terrorism plans to a con-artist! Well, it looks like Mike Carona has found himself in new trouble... And this time, it's The OC Register that's actually reporting it!

So how has this latest scandal surfaced? Well, you can thank one trigger-happy reserve officer for this!

Lt. Jeff Bardzik's deposition was taken earlier this month as part of a $4 million lawsuit brought by two golfers who allege the sheriff's one-time friend and former reserve deputy, Raymond Yi, flashed a reserve badge and threatened them with a department-issued gun. Bardzik testified that he recommended the sheriff's department take away Yi's gun and badge. Yi, whose reserve status was suspended, also faces a criminal trial June 11 for his actions.

The sheriff himself is scheduled to give a deposition in the golfers' lawsuit. But in a motion filed May 1, Carona asked a judge to seal the testimony to stop it from being given to the media. [...]

On Wednesday, Bardzik declined to comment on his deposition because of his own ongoing lawsuit against Carona, which also contains the same criticisms of the sheriff's reserve division. The 22-year veteran also alleges he was demoted because he did not support the sheriff during the 2006 election.

Ah, isn't Mikey Carona precious? Hasn't he named some fantastic reserve officers? Don't you trust these individuals with YOUR safety? Well, if Carona had continued to have his way, you probably wouldn't be able to trust them.

An April 2001 audit by Peace Officers Standards and Training, uncovered the appointments, and most of the volunteers were decertified due to their lack of training and not passing background checks.

About 5,000 reserve officers volunteer statewide. Their duties range from crowd control to helping transport prisoners to patrolling neighborhoods. They are allowed to carry guns on duty. In Orange County, there are 240 reserve deputies, said sheriff's Capt. Dave Wilson.

But I guess these aren't the duties that Mikey Carona cares about! No, he has far more important things on his mind. Like patronage. Like rewarding loyalty. Like hot chicks. Like getting a little help from a few good fellas in Vegas. Yes, Sheriff Carona knows what really matters here.

And this is someone that Arnold has named as a "homeland security adviser"? This is someone that Bush considers to be a "homeland security adviser"? Cheese, louise! I guess we still can't really consider ourselves safe.

And this is Mike Carona, "America's Sheriff"?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Come to DFA Training, Be a Better Activist!

In case you forgot, DFA is doing its training academy this July. And this year, we're having it here in Orange County! Yes, we have some great campaign training planned for you in Irvine. And yes, we're already planning to show all of you fantastic Democratic activists who will be coming from throughout Southern California (from Oxnard to Palm Springs to Imperial Beach) how we REALLY do it in the OC! : )

So have you signed up for this yet? Do you still need to be signed up for this? Do you still need to learn more about this? Follow me down below for more on this great opportunity to learn how YOU can be a part of the big Democratic victory of 2008...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

I'm sure you know about what happened last year. Now do you want to learn to make the magic happen again next year? Perhaps this is what you're looking for:

The 2008 Presidential race is already beginning to take shape. You and I both know that the grassroots are more than just a passive audience in this race. The DFA Training Academy will prepare you to become an asset to whichever candidate you end up supporting.

But this is more than just a presidential race. This past November Democrats across the country were successful in races from the U.S. Senate to local city councils. In addition to the standard campaign curriculum, we also will focus on strategies geared toward retaining the seats won last year and building Democratic majorities in 2008 and beyond.

Wow! Doesn't that sound great? Well, there's more! Only $60 (or $30 for low income people and students) can get you all of this:

At the DFA Training Academy, experienced campaign professionals will cover practical strategies and tactics including communications, fundraising, voter targeting, online organizing, and building a sustainable grassroots movement. We design the program so you can go out and use the skills you learn right away. Then, we follow up with you to make sure you have the support you need to organize your community.

Maybe you want to learn how to be more effective activist. Maybe you want to prepare yourself for the Presidential Election next year. Maybe you want to learn how to begin changing things for the better at the local level. Or maybe you just want to network with fellow activists. This will be the place for all of that and more!

Now my friends at DFA-Orange County have been working their fannies off organizing this for the past several months. They've been scouring all over the county for the perfect location, just for you. They've been working so hard on arranging for sleeping accommodations for those of you that will making quite a long drive to join us for the weekend. They are busy planning some fun social activities for after class, just for you. Basically, we've been making this an absolutely fantastic event just for you!

Don't you want to show my friends how much you appreciate their hard work by signing up for DFA training academy?

Event Date: Saturday, July 21, and Sunday, July 22, 2007
Event Time: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Venue Name: USC Orange County Center
Address: 2300 Michelson Drive
City: Irvine
State: CA
Zip Code: 92612
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Google Maps

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

NEWS FLASH! Kos Is Out to Get Republicans!

H/T to The Liberal OC for catching this first! : )

After witnessing the damage inflicted on [Former Senator George] Allen by Democrat campaign staff, Markos Zuniga is serious. Democratic Party activists are to be armed with high-tech video equipment looking to preserve any visible or audible mistakes committed by Republicans during public speaking appearances (not just from stages and podiums, but presumably private conversations on public grounds).

That was San Bernardino County Republican Party staffer Adam Aleman on FlashReport today, warning all the poor little Republicans about the monster that is being unleashed by BIG, BAD MARKOS and all his blogger minions. Just look at how George Allen's political career was destroyed by one innocent little "macaca moment". Remember that he was supposed to be running for President by now?

So what is it about progressive bloggers that's scaring the living daylight out of seasoned Republican insiders? Why are they so afraid of us? Follow me down below to find out...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

So why are they afraid? Well, the infamous "macaca" video didn't just contribute to George Allen's loss of a Senate seat. It dashed the hopes of many right-wingers that a charming Southern politician could help them keep the White House in 2008.

Here's some more from FlashReport:

George Allen is not campaigning for the White House in Des Moines, Manchester or anywhere else as a result of his surprise re-election loss last November. A loss that happened in large part due to Allen being the first major candidate to be “Youtubed.” A paid staff member of his upstart Democratic opponent videotaped Allen making derogatory statements that many perceived as racially insensitive. Senator Allen’s shocking defeat became THE case study of how the term “youtube” suddenly became a verb in political parlance. See the video that doomed Allen here.

How significant of a role did the amateur video by a Democratic Party operative play in Allen’s defeat? Well, consider this fact. George Allen was considered so safe for re-election that his initial campaign manager left Allen’s campaign to work on a race that was considered tougher. Allen was ranked as so secure in his Senate seat that he was already starting to visit early GOP presidential primary states in anticipation of an expected 2008 bid for the GOP presidential nomination.

Well, Allen’s unfortunate incident certainly put a crimp in his presidential plans for 2008, and quite possibly forever. And it clearly was a factor in his 2006 re-election loss to a political neophyte named Jim Webb.

I guess that's why they're afraid. If progressive bloggers can not only put this man in the Senate and destroy this man's Presidential aspirations, but also end twelve years of Republican dominance of Capitol Hill, then just think of all the pain and suffering that Republicans may soon endure. Just think of the horror! The horror!

This man might lose his seat in Congress. And so might this man. And wait, this man might also go down in flames next year! And so might this man! Heck, maybe this woman isn't even safe any more! What happens if Republicans lose more Congressional seats in California instead of taking back the one that they lost last year?

And with sites like this one and this one and this one popping up all the time, Republicans can never feel safe here. Oh yes, and they always need to watch out for this one and this one. Poor things. Who knew that accountability could be so scary? ; )

Fear and Loathing and Fun and Games in the OC Republican Party

Here's some more juiciness from Orange Juice! Art Pedroza has all the inside scoop on the latest fit of disfunction plaguing Orange County Republicans in Santa Ana and Central County. A Central Committee member won't even attend, while all his friends that do attend can't manage to get any local GOPers elected. All they need to do is keep it up... And eventually, this area will really be safe for Democrats! ; )

Monday, May 21, 2007

How Does Irvine Stay So Safe?

They've done it before, and they've done it again this year. Irvine is the safest large city in California. Check out the write-up in today's OC Register:

Violent crime in Irvine dropped more than 16 percent and overall crime in the city fell 6 percent last year, making Irvine the safest large city in California, according to preliminary statistics released Monday by the state attorney general's office. It's the third year in a row Irvine has topped the list.

From January through December 2006, Irvine's number of reported violent crimes – which includes homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault – dropped from 151 to 126 – at the same time the state saw a 1. 4 percent jump in violent crime. Irvine recorded drops in property and theft, but the number of homicides in the city doubled from two to four in 2006.

Following Irvine on the list of the state's safest cities are Sunnyvale, Thousand Oaks, Santa Clara and Simi Valley.

Wow, now that's safe! So how does Irvine do it? How can they stay so safe? Follow me after the flip as I look for answers...

So what's the secret to Irvine's success. Well, let's start with their youth action team. Irvine is actually getting high schoolers involved in not only being productive in the community, but in also planning how they will be getting involved. And these kids really get active. Between concerts, graffiti removal days, and college workshops, these kids just don't have the time to waste on crime.

Oh but wait, the fun doesn't stop there! These kids (and adults) also play sports. They have tennis, basketball, soccer, softball, and much more. Again, these kids are too busy working out and learning teamwork to be caught up in any stupid illegal stuff.

And my goodness, look at all those lovely parks in town! Irvine has many safe places for kids to go to play and have fun. No matter where a family may live in Irvine, they know that there's somewhere in the neighborhood where they can take the kids to play games and perhaps meet new friends in the neighborhood. And as these kids grow up being able to just play, they don't get stuck in the streets.

OK, so what's the point I'm trying to make? Well, here it is. Irvine's smart planning has resulted in less crime and safer neighborhoods. By creating great parks in all the neighborhoods and giving kids great activities to do, Irvine has taken away whatever appeal criminal gangs might have had. And all these kids engaged in the community means kids who don't feel that they don't belong, and ultimately kids who don't fall into gangs as they search for meaning in their lives.

So perhaps more cities should follow Irvine's lead in reducing crime, and ultimately preventing any future crime. Clean up the neighborhoods, open some parks, and give kids something fun to do. This might actually help keep up the neighborhood. : )

No More "Massages" for Santa Ana

Check this out from The OC Register. The Santa Ana City Council voted to stop issuing permits to massage technicians after parlors in nearby cities were raided in a prostitution crackdown. I guess Santa Ana doesn't want to just be OC's haven for the sleazy little "parlors" any longer.

Get Ready, OC! Barack Obama's Coming to Town!

Were you inspired by what Barack Obama had to say to Democrats in San Diego last month? Have you been amazed by all the grassroots energy behind the Obama campaign in California? Are you captivated by the Illinois Senator and what he's accomplished?

Well, if you happen to be in Orange County on Monday, June 11, (and you have $2,300 to spare!) you can have breakfast with Barack Obama!

Follow me down below for all the details...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

Here's what just arrived in my email inbox from Frank Barbaro, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Orange County:

In this Presidential primary we have several outstanding Democratic candidates. Earlier this year I promised to invite you to join me at events for all of these candidates. The next exciting event is a breakfast with Sen. Obama.

I am delighted to welcome you to Newport Coast on Monday, June 11th, for a very special breakfast with Senator Barack Obama.
Monday, June 11th, 2007
8:30 am to 10:30 am
The home of Michael & Shohleh Chegini
Address provided upon RSVP
$2,300 Per Person
$4,600 Maximum Contribution

Please RSVP to Melahat Rafiei at or 949-350-7733 by June 6, 2007.

Please join me in welcoming Senator Obama to Orange County!

*This is not an official endorsement of the Democratic Party of Orange County


Frank Barbaro

Ah, if only I had $2,300 to spare right now... Do you? Well if you do, you can have this special breakfast on Saturday! At least I'm sure the pastries will be yummy, and consider who you'll be sharing them with... ; )

Pulido No Es Un Villaraigosa

In case you missed it, The LA Times still has one reporter/columnist/commentator left in Orange County. His name is Dana Parsons. And on Friday, he talked about his recent interview with controversial Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido.

Now Miguel Pulido may be controversial, but not in ways that we'd think a Latino mayor of a heavily Latino city would be controversial. He doesn't lead immigrants' rights marches. He doesn't declare Santa Ana as a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants. Actually, Pulido doesn't really care about immigration.

So how is Miguel Pulido controversial? Follow me down below to find out...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

"If I were a Curt Pringle [the white mayor of Anaheim], would anybody be saying how come he's not out there marching?" Pulido says. "And in a way, they're discriminating — inverse discrimination, so to speak — against me, by making the assertion that because I'm Hispanic, I'm at fault for not participating."

He notes that his critics on the issue generally are other Latinos. "If I had a different heritage, they'd have a different conclusion," he says. "That goes against all that I stand for, because I want to treat everybody the same and I want to be treated the same way."

When I then begin to ask how he wants to be judged on the issue, he says firmly, "As a mayor. Not as an Anglo mayor. Not a Hispanic mayor. As a mayor."

Another mayor in a heavily Latino city might play it differently, I suggest. "Correct," he says.

"But don't say that because this mayor is Hispanic he's got to behave this way. That really gets to me, because then the implication is that you are different and should behave differently because of that. And to me, I am an American first."

Wow. That's deep. Well, I guess people here do wonder why a guy who immigrated here from Mexico City as a little boy wouldn't stand up for his fellow immigrants, but that's beside the point. That's not the only controversial thing about Pulido.

Here are some more reasons why Pulido is so controversial here. He hasn't done anything about the recent spat of gang violence in Santa Ana. He hasn't done anything about opening more parks in a city that's in such dire need of open space. He hasn't done a good job of keeping our roads in good working condition, as some parts of town look like third-world countries due to the crappy state of their streets. He hasn't improved our libraries... Oh wait, that's right, HE'S CLOSED THEM! In his twenty years on the City Council and twelve years as Mayor, I'm struggling just to find good things that Pulido has done in this city.

I guess that's the real controversy here. It's not that Miguel Pulido has ever done anything controversial. No, it's just that HE HASN'T DONE ANYTHING, PERIOD! That's the difference here.

Say what you will about Antonio Villaraigosa, but a least he's doing something. At least he cares about Los Angeles. At least he cares about what happens to the people who live in LA. We can't even get our mayor in Santa Ana to care. He's too busy comparing himself to Curt Pringle.

FBI Denies Any Harassment of Muslims on UCI Campus

Remember my story from Friday about allegations of FBI harassment of Muslim students on the UC Irvine campus? Well, The OC Register has a follow-up on its original story in today's paper. Basically the FBI is now saying that the just "followed a suspicious truck", and they are denying that they are monitoring student activism on campus. Check out today's article, and judge for yourself.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Grand Jury to Probe Death at OC Jail

The OC Register has the story this morning that a special grand jury will investigate claims that a deputy on staff instigated the jailhouse slaughter of a man accused of possessing child pornography. Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona is hoping that his department will be cleared of any wrongdoing. Friends and family of the dead man are wondering whether the grand jury will get to the bottom of all this.

Would You Like Some Chismes With Your Orange Juice?

Art Pedroza is back, and his chismes are better than ever with more juicy Orange County political gossip! Plus, expect special guest appearances by Tom Tancredo, Ken Starr, Janet Nguyen, Chuck DeVore, and more! Read it HERE!

Is the FBI Harrassing Muslims at UC Irvine?

"There was a confrontation, if you will," said UCI Police Chief Paul Henisey, who is investigating the incident to determine if any crime was committed. The students "demanded to know why this person was following them, then the person left," he said.

The incident that the UCI Police Chief is referring to is quite a nasty one. Today's OC Register is reporting that police are now investigating this incident in which a Muslim student is claiming that an FBI agent threatened him. If this is true, then it wouldn't be the first time when federal agents clashed with Muslim students on campus. However, this has already developed into another major headache for Orange County's Muslim community.

Follow me down below to see what happened Monday night that caused this new furor...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

So what happened Monday night? A UCI economics student claims that he was just taking down a protest wall when a surprise visitor appeared. At the Irvine campus, protesters with the Muslim Student Union erect a wall every day that symbolizes the "apartheid wall" that the Israeli government is trying to erect. However due to university policy on large displays, the Muslim Student Union agrees to take it down ever night. And when the economics student was taking down the wall, something strange happened.

From The Register:

UCI economics student Yasser Ahmed said he was driving a borrowed truck up onto the Ring Road near the library loading dock Monday night, on intending to haul away the wall, when he noticed a silver Ford Taurus with blackened windows following him.

Ahmed said he stopped the truck in view of other campus observers and stood in front of the Taurus, trying to look through the blackened windshield and asking the driver to identify himself. When he would not speak, Ahmed said he tried to take a photo of the car's license plate with his camera phone.

"He could have just rolled down his window and said, 'I'm an FBI agent,' and that would have been the end of it," Ahmed said. "There was nothing improper going on."

Instead, according to Ahmed, the driver revved his engine threateningly and began pushing him backward with the car's front bumper. Ahmed said he then began calling for help, and dozens of other students ran over to assist.

"I was frightened," Ahmed said. "I felt I could have been killed or seriously injured if I hadn't jumped out of the way."

If this is true, then we need to be afraid. VERY AFRAID. Afraid of our own government.

So is this what really happened? Campus police confirmed that the mysterious man was an FBI agent. But why would an FBI agent be at UCI in the middle of the night?

The next morning, Ahmed said, he went to the campus police station and was told by the police chief that the man in the car was an FBI agent.

Ahmed, who lives with his family in Orange County, laughed at the idea the FBI could be investigating him.

Sociology student [Marya] Bangee said UCI's Muslim Student Union opposes violence and its members are not terrorists.

"All we do is speak out against injustice," Bangee said, though she said she believes the FBI has been spying on students.

"We have nothing to hide," Bangee said. "If something illegal ever happened, it might make sense. But nothing ever has. It's complete xenophobia."

Of course, this wouldn't be the first incident when Muslim Americans were harassed for simply being who they were. And this wouldn't be the first time that the FBI was involved in suspicious activities monitoring the American Muslim community. However, it should ALWAYS trouble us when we hear that our government is unfairly targeting and harassing a community simply because of who they are. If these individuals are not involved in any crimes, then the FBI shouldn't be snooping into their lives... And they definitely shouldn't be harassing any one.

So why were FBI agents on the UCI campus Monday night? And why were they driving around the Muslim Student Union's protest wall? And if the FBI agent in question truly did attempt to ram down the economics student with his car, why did he feel that he had license to do so? I thought that these agents were supposed to enforce the law. When our government suddenly begin breaking its own laws?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Could Jerry Brown Have Taken Tan Nguyen to Court?

"I speak Spanish very well and (the letter) was offensive," she said. "And it was offesnive and intimidating to many voters who talked to our office."

She also said the law seemed to by on Nguyen's side -- for better or worse.

"If you read the state and federal laws, it's very difficult to get a conviction. The laws are vague," she said.

That was my fabulous Congresswoman, Loretta Sanchez, speaking to OC Register reporter Martin Wisckol about Attorney General Jerry Brown's decision NOT to pursue criminal charges against Tan Nguyen for intimidating over 14,000 LEGALLY registered voters. Now maybe it really is quite difficult to get a conviction for a charge like this, but it shouldn't be impossible. Chris Prevatt took another look at state election law at The Liberal OC, and he arrived at quite an interesting conclusion.

Follow me down below to see the law for yourself, and decide whether Jerry Brown really wants to enforce the law here...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

Here's what Chris dug up at The Liberal OC:

18540. (a) Every person who makes use of or threatens to make use of any force, violence, or tactic of coercion or intimidation, to
induce or compel any other person
to vote or refrain from voting at
any election
or to vote or refrain from voting for any particular
person or measure at any election, or because any person voted or
refrained from voting at any election or voted or refrained from
voting for any particular person or measure at any election is guilty
of a felony
punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16
months or two or three years.

(b) Every person who hires or arranges for any other person to
make use of or threaten to make use of any force, violence, or tactic
of coercion or intimidation, to induce or compel any other person to
vote or refrain from voting at any election or to vote or refrain
from voting for any particular person or measure at any election, or
because any person voted or refrained from voting at any election or
voted or refrained from voting for any particular person or measure
at any election is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in
the state prison for 16 months or two or three years.

18543. (a) Every person who knowingly challenges a person’s right
to vote without probable cause
or on fraudulent or spurious grounds,
or who engages in mass, indiscriminate, and groundless challenging of
voters solely for the purpose of preventing voters from voting
or to
delay the process of voting, or who fraudulently advises any person
that he or she is not eligible to vote
or is not registered to vote
when in fact that person is eligible or is registered, or who
violates Section 14240, is punishable by imprisonment in the county
jail for not more than 12 months or in the state prison.

(b) Every person who conspires to violate subdivision (a) is
guilty of a felony.

OK, the law seems quite clear. This letter clearly violates state law. So why didn't Jerry Brown take this case to court, and at least try to achieve justice for all the voters in Orange County who were nearly scared away from the polls by Tan Nguyen?

I have to concur with Chris here:

We all know that the letters went to 14,000 legally registered voters. As registered voters these individuals are entitled to the right to vote, without intimidation or obstruction by anyone. The only way a voter may be challenged is if an elections official has specific and compelling evidence that the voter is not eligible to vote. Elections officials are the only people who may directly intervene to stop someone from voting illegally.

I’ve got ju[s]t one question for AG Moon Beam and his Senior Assistan[t] AG in San Diego; How on earth can you conclude that section 18543 was not violated when eligible voters were challeneged without probable cause, by a mass and indiscriminate mailing to legally registered voters? I cannot find anything in the code that talks about “intent.” It is that act of intimidation that is the crime. From what I can see, intent is nothing more than icing on the cake.

I just don’t get their reasoning here.

Neither do I, Chris. Neither do I.